Disclaimer: X-men is owned by Marvel Comics and 20th Century Fox. I do not own X-men, nor am I making a profit from this work of fan-fiction. So don't sue me! Not that you'd get a whole lot from me anyway ;)
A/N:Hey guys, back with the epilogue. (be on the lookout for the sequel, I talk a bit more at the end about it). Basically wrapping up of the current storylines, and some foreshadowing (direct and indirect) of some things that will be in the sequel. And finally some great ROMY- :D. Please, read and review!
Chapter 35: Recovery - Epilogue
Annie frowned to herself as she pulled away the bandages on Jubilee's side. She'd given her patient a sedative that had just about knocked her out for the night, to help her handle the pain, so Jubilee was not awake to see what she saw.
Underneath the bandages, rather than an ugly, stitched-up wound, she found it closing, the skin surrounding it clear and healthy-looking, as if she'd been healing for weeks.
Annie slid on a pair of latex gloves, probed the wound with her fingers, and then stood up straight, hurrying over to her file drawer to pull out Jubilee's medical file. She sat down in her wheeled chair and spent the next several minutes scouring it for any sign of a secondary healing ability displayed by Jubilee, but found nothing. In fact, the year before Annie had started, Jubilee had been in a skateboarding accident and split her scalp, and it had taken months to fully heal, just as it should.
Therefore, unless the ability had suddenly manifested in the last year, there was only one factor that could have caused it: the transfusion. She made a mental note to hunt down Warren and get a sample of his blood to look at. He was a universal donor, and if it could do this…..
'And the research opportunities,' she thought. She wasn't exactly a researcher, but she knew this would be something that would intrigue Hank as much as the mutant genome did. First things first, talk to Warren – she decided.
She grabbed her notebook from her desk, and started jotting down details she noticed – the scratch on Jubilee's back that had come from falling down after being shot was now a barely-visible pink line. The bullet hole had closed, the skin already healing – it would leave a scar, but there was little chance of infection so long as she kept it clean. At the rate it was healing she suspected her young patient would be ready to leave by the next morning, and fully healed by the end of the next week.
She shook herself from her thoughts on Jubilee when she heard the low whirr of the Medlab doors sliding open. "She's resting, and not in shape for visitors until the morning," Annie said, as she finished jotting down her last few words.
"Annie," the voice of Rogue startled her from looking at her notebook.
Annie's head snapped up, and she saw Rogue carrying Remy into the Medlab, she looked haggard, her eyes tear-streaked, her uniform, face, and hair were caked in dust that looked like it came from drywall, the dust smudged along her tear tracks.
When she caught sight of Remy, she gasped. "Alright, bring him over here," Annie said, scrambling to her feet, tossing the notebook to her side as she moved to clear off the bed next to Jubilee's.
Rogue moved further into the room and placed him on the bed. "They…. tortured him pretty bad…" Rogue said, trailing off as she looked sadly down at him.
Annie nodded, her eyes running professionally across his body, noting the bruises and where they were concentrated – those were the first places to check for internal bleeding and broken bones.
Annie moved up to the bedside, and placed her hands on his abdomen where the worst of the bruising – purple and a sickly green in some places – was, and slowly, deliberately pressed down as she moved her hands across his skin.
She finally looked up, after checking all along his abdomen, and feeling around his scalp and face. "Okay, I don't think there's any internal bleeding – at least nothing obvious like rigid and cold skin. I want to be sure, so we're going to do a quick CT."
She looked carefully at Rogue. "Are you alright? You with me for this, Rogue? Because I need my helper." She said, touching Rogue's shoulder.
Rogue's eyes were wet, but no tears fell as she looked at Annie. "Yeah, Ah'm alright. Ah'm fine for helpin' yah."
"Alright," Annie said, bustling over to the diagnostics machine in the corner of the room and turning it on. "Take off his pants."
Rogue stared at her for a moment, a blush rising in her cheeks. "Wh-what?"
Annie looked over her shoulder and nearly laughed at the expression on the younger woman's face. "The metal buttons and rivets and the zipper will interfere with the image, so either you or me have to take his pants off. And for some reason I think he'd prefer it to be you," she said with a slight grin.
"Alright," Rogue said, her cheeks red. "But if yah tell him you're in trouble. He'd be teasin' me for weeks."
"I'm sure he would," Annie said, chuckling softly as she touched the controls of the diagnostic machine, moving through a series of menus on the display to find the one she needed to work the CT part of it.
After Rogue had removed his pants, they wheeled the bed over to the machine, and lifted him onto the platform of the machine. Annie made sure he was lying out on in the best position for the machine to get a good reading, and then started the scan. The platform moved slowly through the ring of the device, which sent out its pulses and returned a slowly developing image on the screen.
She focused on his head and then his abdomen, and carefully examined each image that was returned. Annie finally shut the machine down as the platform returned to its initial position, and then she helped Rogue place Remy back on his bed, draping a blanket across his lower half.
"No bleeding. He's lucky," Annie said as they wheeled the bed back to where it had been.
"Not enough," Rogue murmured softly, gently touching his bruised cheek with her gloved hand.
Annie nodded to his hand. "Can you splint that finger for me?" she said, referring to the pinkie finger Maldrone had broken.
"Yeah," Rogue said, moving over to one of the cabinets to grab the things she would need for that.
Annie smiled slightly as she watched the younger woman move around the room – she definitely was nursing material, if not doctor material, and she hoped she would stay with that as her goal.
Annie grabbed her stethoscope and put the ends in her ears, and the bell on Remy's chest, moving it up and down the length of his chest to listen to his breathing and his heartbeat. She frowned and shook her head, looking up at Rogue who has begun to set Remy's bone against a long, thick cardboard stabilizer used for broken and fractured fingers.
"I'm a little worried about his heart. Overall it sounds strong but I'm detecting a bit of a flutter – a little irregularity."
Rogue's face darkened. "Bastards were torturin' him with a cattle prod…"
Annie's eyes widened. "That…. that would probably do it," she said, feeling slightly sick to her stomach at the idea of doing that to another human being.
"Slight damage to the muscle from electric shocks passing right across the heart… I'll keep an eye on it the next few days but I think with his healing abilities, this will disappear." Annie finally said, placing the stethoscope on a nearby table. "Is that what made these burn marks?" she asked softly, running her finger over one of the many two-pronged marks blackened into his skin all around his body.
Rogue nodded sadly, and Annie turned her attention to Remy's left hand, and grimaced at the sight of the stab wound adorning it.
She slowly cleaned it, making sure there were no foreign objects or dirt in the skin, and then began to slowly stitch it up. "Missed the main veins," she said when Rogue looked over to her with interest, having just finished taping up the end of the gauze holding the stabilizers in place on his finger. "Stabbed completely through, though. This one's going to take quite a while to heal, even with Remy being Remy."
Rogue nodded, and circled around the bed, leaning against the side as she watched Annie stitch together the palm side of the wound.
The doors whirred open again, and Rogue looked up to see Lorna peek her head around the corner. "Rogue? I – you found him," she said, sounding relieved, and then disappeared for a moment before walking back to the doorway, holding Sarah's hand.
"Remy!" Sarah exclaimed, pulling her hand from Lorna's, and rushing toward the bed.
Rogue grabbed her, stopping her before the bed. "Just a minute sweetie. Annie's gotta finish. 'Sides, Remy's sleepin' now."
Sarah nodded, and grabbed Rogue's hand, gripping it tightly as she got a better look at Remy. "Is he alright?" She asked in a choked whisper.
Annie smiled slightly and looked over her shoulder after she finished her stitches. "He'll be alright. Just a little banged up."
Sarah nodded, tears running down her cheeks.
"Ah didn't think yah'd be up this late, sweetie. It's after three in th'mornin'." Rogue said, giving her hand a brief squeeze.
"Couldn't sleep," Sarah said.
"I kept her company up in the living room – we played a few video games and watched some TV together." Lorna said as she moved around the bed next to them.
"Thanks, Ah appreciate it," Rogue said, smiling at her green-haired friend.
Lorna shook her head. "No problem. Neither of us could sleep, thinking about…. how you guys were doing – how Remy was doing. I… had an idea of what he'd be dealing with, but," she shook her head again, "this's worse than what they used to do to us in the cells."
Rogue's expression softened, remembering Lorna had once been in the 'loving' hands of the Purifiers, and she placed a hand on her friend's shoulder. "He's tough. Still jokin' an' flirtin' with me until he passed out on the plane." She said, amusement flitting over her features.
"You catch the guys that did this?" Lorna asked.
Rogue bit her lip. "Most of them are out in the streets – S.H.I.E.L.D. is huntin' them down. They set their base to blow. Not sure how much we got information-wise because of that. But Ah got the bastard that was torturin' him." She looked down at Sarah. "It was the man that planned th'tunnel attack."
Sarah paled slightly. "R-really?"
Rogue nodded, and pulled her closer, putting an arm around her shoulder. "Yeah. Logan took him, an' he's gonna be in prison a long, long time. He won' be hurtin' anyone else."
"Good," Sarah said, her voice shaking slightly.
Annie grabbed her scissors and snipped the end of the suture thread as she finished the stitch to the back of Remy's hand, wrapped it quickly in a loose covering of gauze, and then looked back up at Sarah, Rogue, and Lorna.
"Alright, that's all we can do for him now until he wakes up. I'll get some medicine in him for the pain – he probably won't be awake until tomorrow."
Rogue nodded, and squeezed Sarah's shoulder. "Alright sweetie, let's get you to bed. We'll come down here in the mornin' when he's awake, alright? He'll probably look better too, once he gets a rest an' some time t'heal."
Sarah looked sadly toward Remy, but finally nodded, and let Rogue turn her away, toward the door to the Medlab.
"Thanks for your help, Rogue," Annie called as she guided Sarah out the door.
Lorna, who'd remained behind, turned and raised an eyebrow to Annie. "What about Jubilee? She doing alright?"
Annie nodded. "Remarkably well, actually. I gave her something to knock her out for the night without pain, so she'll wake up in the morning as well. It's… your friend, Warren, apparently has some amazing blood."
Lorna looked at her curiously. "Why?"
"Well, right now her wound looks like it's been healing for weeks. She'll be back to normal very quickly. I think Warren has, as part of his mutation, blood that has healing properties. If you see him tomorrow, let him know I want to talk with him, alright?"
"Sure," Lorna said, nodding. "I think I'm going to try to get some sleep now without being worried about everyone. Goodnight."
"Goodnight," Annie called, as she turned to one of her locked cabinets to remove the pain-killer for Remy, and an IV to let it drip into him at a safe rate.
She sighed with relief once she finished, making sure it was dripping correctly, and then moved back to Remy to dress the various cattle-prod burns across his body. She would, hopefully, not have any more patients now, and her two patients she did have either healed quickly or were doing so due to outside factors.
Logan tossed the struggling man to the floor of one of the many holding cells of the Helicarrier, and gave him a look of disgust before leaving the room. The hand-cuffed man struggled to sit up to face the two other occupants of the room – a blonde woman he didn't recognize, and an African-American man with an eyepatch that he recognized all too easily.
"You can leave, Sharon, Ronald will behave for me, won't you Ronald? And if he doesn't he gets keel-hulled under the Helicarrier, you got that Ronald?" Nicholas Fury said.
Sharon exchanged an amused glance with her commanding officer, and then nodded her head and left the room, closing the door securely behind her.
"Well now," Fury said, pulling a case out of his pocket, and opening it up to reveal a long, professionally rolled cigar, which he cut and lit before continuing, puffing on it several times to keep get the fire from the match to take on the end. "Thought she would never leave – she doesn't like me smoking these things around her."
Fury sighed and leaned back, against the wall of the room. "So how are you, Ronald? You do recognize me don't you? I believe we met at that White House gala the President threw last year."
"I know who you are," Maldrone spat.
"Good. I hoped you would. So, what are we going to do with you, Ronald? You do know you're going away for a very long time. Quite possibly to the same prison we put all the mutants from Alcatraz in. I'm sure they'll be happy to see you there."
Maldrone paled at that, but said nothing, knowing he was in a lot of trouble.
"You really should have thought things through, my friend. I mean, coming out to do an interrogation yourself? Pretty ballsy."
"But now, it's not just you that's going to pay, it's your boss," Nick continueds.
Maldrone's head snapped up. "What the fuck are you talking about?"
Fury shrugged, taking another puff of the cigar into his mouth before blowing it out. "Oh don't worry. At the moment we don't have enough to arrest him for anything. But do you really think this is going to go over well?"
"I mean, big-time candidate for President, hiring you as his campaign manager? It's not going to sound too pretty when we leak this to the press tomorrow. I can see the headlines now: Graydon Creed hires deranged maniac. You think people are just going to shrug when they hear Creed's closest confidante was arrested for assaulting, kidnapping, and torturing a federal agent?"
Maldrone ground his teeth, seething because he knew Fury was right.
Fury continued. "Not to mention when they hear that the arrest took place at the home-base of a well-known terrorist organization like the Purifiers. You guys have been skirting around that issue, all the anti-mutant groups, but he's not going to be able to side-step much longer when they hear you were one of the leaders of an anti-mutant terrorist group. I'm guessing at least a ten point drop by the end of tomorrow. And boy are they going to drag it on in the press, and when we bring you into court for your trial? Months. Your little friend is going to be scrambling to recover."
"Bastard," Maldrone hissed.
"No, Mister Maldrone, the only bastard here is you. You tortured one of my agents. If I didn't want to use you and make a public example out of you, I'd have tossed you off the deck of the Helicarrier myself." Fury said angrily, his cigar held down at waist-level, no longer part of his attention.
"I hope you enjoy knowing that this? This is only the beginning. We're going to dismantle your little terrorist groups one by one, and slowly but surely get the evidence we need to put Creed behind bars right with you."
Fury pushed off from the wall, and walked toward the door. He opened it, and began to walk out, pausing only momentarily to say one final thing. "Oh, and Maldrone? I wasn't kidding – even if it takes getting the President to talk to the judge, I'll make sure you're rooming with Magneto and his little army when you get sent off to jail."
Maldrone jerked at the sound of the door slamming shut – he knew that it was, essentially, the door slamming on his future. He'd made a mistake, a big one, gotten cocky from his previous personal involvements and not getting caught – like the tunnels. And he could never have expected the thief he'd tried to have killed over two months ago would somehow have joined up with the government and been a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent no less.
Maldrone sank back and curled into a ball on the floor – he knew there was no way out of this one – Fury wouldn't stop until he was in prison, and if he by some miracle managed to escape such a sentence, he wouldn't put it past the man to send in one of his teams to covertly execute him. His only hope was that Graydon would be able to recover and not be dragged down, and that he'd be able to keep things together without his help, and win the election.
That was his only glint of a future – Creed as President: in 8 years, at the end of his term, he could freely pardon him without worrying about the political consequences of doing so.
Remy felt the pounding of his head first, when he began to crawl back to consciousness. He groaned, and lifted a hand up to his forehead, only to find a layer of gauze touching his skin instead.
He opened his eyes to find himself staring at his bandaged left hand, and everything rush back to him in that moment – the torture, the stabbing of his hand, and also his rescue. The last thing he remembered was Rogue and him entering the X-Jet.
"Remy?" Rogue's voice came from his left, and he lowered his hand, blinking his eyes several times before he looked over to see her setting down a book she'd been reading in a chair at his side, and rushing over to him as he tried to sit up.
She helped him sit up slightly, placing a pillow behind his back to help prop him up. "How are yah feelin', Sugah?"
Remy glanced down at his bruised body, the bandages around his left hand and right pinkie, and sighed. "Better'n I thought I would. 'bout as good as I could expect given de last few days. Annie got me on de good stuff?"
Rogue nodded, and he saw the tears in her eyes. "Yeah, she said you got enough painkiller to knock out a horse."
"Mm. Well, it's workin' 'cept for dis headache. What time is it?"
"Ten in th'mornin'. Yah've been out of it for 'bout thirteen hours."
"Remy," Sarah's voice came from the other side of him, and he turned to find Sarah standing next to his bed, looking hesitantly, unsure, at him.
"Damn, dis must be de really good stuff Annie's got me on – I'm so out of it I didn' even hear you come in de room, petite."
When she just stood there, looking at him, he realized why she was hesitating. He smiled, and patted the bed. "C'mon an' give me a hug, ma petite. Y'won' hurt me."
Sarah scrambled up onto the side of the bed, throwing her arms around his neck, burying her face into his shoulder. He could feel the bony growths on her forehead against the skin of his neck, and then he felt her tears drip onto his bare shoulder.
"I w-was so worried, Remy," she cried.
He rubbed her back. "Shh….. I know, Sarah. I'm sorry. I missed you, petite."
He glanced up toward Rogue and extended his left arm, despite the awkward bandage on his hand, and she moved forward to hug both Sarah and him, and he hugged the two of them tightly, breathing out a soft prayer of thanks.
He let them remain there for what seemed pleasantly like hours, before he felt a wave of weariness wash back over him.
"Alrigh', my femmes, I think I'm gonna fall asleep real soon."
Rogue smiled, and pulled back slightly, helping place him back in his earlier position, which was much more comfortable for sleeping. "Yah need it – yah look like a raccoon right now."
Sarah let out a choked giggle, and pulled back, grinning at Remy through the tears on her cheeks. "She's right."
He gave them a mock frown, and closed his eyes. "Back to you two makin' fun of me I see. You are evil."
Sarah smiled and kissed his cheek. "We only do it 'cuz we love you."
"Mmhmm. I know. Love you too. Sleepin' now," he said, drifting back to sleep.
"So, how are you feeling now, Jubes?"
Jubilee shrugged at her green-haired friend who sat at the foot of her bed. "Alright. But I'm on some serious painkillers so it probably hurts like hell and I just don't know it," she said, grinning.
Lorna laughed. "Yeah, I know that from experience. Broke my arm a few years ago and the first few days I was fine until they took me off the heavier stuff – then it hurt pretty bad."
"Well, thank you for bringing me this," Jubilee said, raising the half-eaten sandwich in her hand in salute. "I was starving."
She took another bite, and then sipped at the water Annie had left by the bedside, and then looked over to where Remy was, sleeping on his own bed. Lorna had told Rogue, Sarah, and Ororo she'd watch him so they could go up to eat a late lunch.
"So, we got beat up pretty bad, eh?" Jubes asked, nodding to Remy.
Lorna nodded. "I heard Bobby got burned, then you got shot, and Kurt was getting checked out before too – something about a fall and a bruised shoulder. But Remy took the worst of it. This normal for you guys?"
Jubilee shrugged. "I guess. Every few months something big will happen, someone'll get hurt…. Or die…."
Lorna's eyes widened. "Really?"
Jubilee nodded. "Yeah, you know Jean? Red hair, pretty, probably in her thirties? We thought she was dead for a while, and then when she returned, the guy she was engaged to died – that was just a few weeks before you got here actually."
"Wow." Lorna said quietly.
Jubilee finished off her sandwich, stuffing the last few bites into her mouth, rendering herself unable to speak until she'd washed it down. "Anyway. Annie said I'm healing pretty fast. I hear I have your little boyfriend to thank for saving my life, and for the speedy recovery," she said, a teasing grin on her face.
Lorna blushed deeply. "Stop that, he's not my boyfriend…. Yet, anyway." She shot her friend a mock glare. "You had to go get shot and Remy had to go get himself kidnapped – I would have been on a date with Warren Friday night."
Jubilee's eyebrows rose, and she grinned. "Really? That's great. Did he ask you out?"
Lorna smiled sheepishly. "Actually, we sorta asked each other out together….. it was a little awkward, but it was kinda cute – neither of us were really sure how to ask the other."
Jubilee laughed at the expression on her face, and patted her friend's hand. "Well, make sure you get him to reschedule with you – you don't want to miss out on a fine guy like that."
Lorna nodded shyly. "I know. We've got the summer basically on our own – the timing couldn't be any better to try it out between us."
"Well, I'll make sure to give you my phone number before I head off to L.A. – I want to hear all the juicy details from you."
"Damnit!" Creed shouted, overturning the open suitcase on his bed as the door to the hotel room closed behind him. He was seething with anger at what had just happened.
His day had started perfectly normal, getting up and getting ready for his first press-op. The only odd thing he found was that he couldn't get a hold of Maldrone, but he had brushed his thoughts about that aside, and prepared for his ride over for the meeting, assuming Maldrone was busy speaking on his phone, or it had died and he didn't have his charger.
Creed had gotten into his car, his driver taking him the short distance to the place that had been set up for a small rally where he'd take questions from the reporters and people in the crowd.
When he got there, however, rather than wait back by the stage, the reporters had suddenly swarmed the car as he stepped out, like a school of hungry sharks smelling blood in the water.
He could still remember it vividly, the bombardment of questions and his quite visible shock at them.
"Mr. Creed," the first voice shouted, and he couldn't tell who it was beyond the sea of cameras and microphones in front of him. "Mr. Creed, do you want to comment on the arrest of your Campaign Manager, Ronald Maldrone?"
Creed had stared blankly at the direction the question had come from, a slow, confused smile coming across his face. "What is this, some sort of joke?"
A closer reporter shook his head. "Mr. Creed, haven't you heard? We received information from a source inside the government – your campaign manager was arrested by federal agents last night."
Another reporter shoved a microphone towards his face. "Mr. Creed, they are telling us that he assaulted and led the torture of a federal agent, is this true?"
"I….. you must be joking, Ronald would-" Creed began.
"What about the charges of domestic terrorism for his links to the anti-mutant terrorist group that calls themselves the Purifiers? Were you aware of his connection to this group?"
Creed felt his heart stop, remembering Maldrone telling him he was going to their Purifier base, something about a damaged S.E.N.T.I.N.E.L. and a captured mutant. Something had happened last night that landed him in trouble with the feds.
"I – I don't know, I'm sorry, this is the first I've heard of it. You'll have to excuse me, we'll postpone this press conference until I have all the facts and investigate this. Thank you," he said, practically bolting backward to get inside the limo, ignoring the flashing lights and shouted questions.
"Drive!" He snarled to the driver. "Back to the hotel," he said, pulling out his cell phone to call his wife.
He had called her, and got her to turn on the news, and watch for the story. It hadn't taken long: every news station was broadcasting it as breaking news – Ron had been arrested for terrorism and assault on a federal agent.
This was not going to blow over easily, if at all, and it really would hurt the campaign. "Damnit, Ronald, you told me you were being careful," Creed muttered.
His only hope now was that Maldrone would stay loyal and keep his mouth shut, and that he hadn't left anything incriminating behind to implicate Creed.
Creed nearly jumped when his cell-phone rang. He pulled it out of his pocket, and tapped the touch screen, and found himself looking at the display, which showed an unfamiliar number.
He frowned to himself, tapped the display again, and brought it up to his ear. "Hello?"
"Yes, who is this?"
"I don't know if I should say over the phone. I know your end is encrypted, but this side isn't. I'm the man that designed your little AI project…."
Creed's eyes widened – Lang something: Ronald had been better with the names as he was the one that dealt with them.
"Yes, no names," Creed said. "What the hell happened?"
"They found us. The AI projects were safely shipped to the base out west, but the base here that your assistant came out to is blown to bits – he activated the self destruct. I managed to escape, I was near the entrance point of the group attacking us and I went through the maintenance tunnels and got out. The news says he's been taken, getting charged."
Creed rubbed his forehead. "Do you know who it was?"
Lang hesitated for a moment. "I think it was S.H.I.E.L.D.. I've watched videos and demonstrations of a lot of tactics of special ops teams while designing our little project, which helped me set up the decision making process for the AIs, and it looked a lot like a S.H.I.E.L.D breaching tactic. The man we took had to be one of their agents. And Graydon, he was in there trying to get information out of him when they attacked, so I think they caught him red-handed. I doubt he's getting out of this ."
Creed let out a growl of frustration. "That's what I figured. Alright. Let me think."
Creed stared at the muted television in front of him, displaying his short "interview" as he had exited the limo, and tried to figure out a way to salvage everything.
"Are you still with us?" Creed finally asked.
"Yes," Lang answered. "I'm completely for the cause, Graydon. I knew this sort of thing could happen, and it doesn't change my mind."
Creed nodded, more to himself than to the man on the other end of the phone call. "Alright, I want you to go to the base out west. There's a man there by the name of Eli in charge of the base. I want you to make contact with him, and tell him that he is now in charge of all the operations, and to get into contact with me – he'll have much more secure methods at his disposal to contact me."
"And I want you to take over the AI project completely – you're in charge with improving them to make sure something like the last few days doesn't repeat itself, and getting as many of these units produced as you can. Keep full operations to a minimum, and when you do them, do them well away from the base – that way they can't trace them back to there."
"Yes, I can do that," Lang said, and Creed heard a hint of eagerness in his voice at the prospect of having full control over his project. Maldrone had wanted to keep it under his purview but Creed thought that the man that had actually made the S.E.N.T.I.N.E.L.s would be the best person for the job. "I'll need to lie low for a while until things cool down in the area, but I think I can get out west by next weekend."
"Good. I think our call has gone on a bit longer than I'm comfortable with. I'll await your and Eli's call next week." Creed said.
"You can count on me, Graydon – I'll make this better than they ever were with the government." Lang said, before hanging up the phone.
Creed sighed, and tossed the phone down on the bed next to him. At least this was good news – he still had someone to develop the project, as well as get into contact with his friend Eli Bard in Montana, where majority of their other projects were also taking place.
He ha been wondering just how he would get a signal to Eli without leaving any evidence of their initial contact – that had been Maldrone's job, as a middleman - and it had just provided itself with Lang.
Maldrone had been valuable, but hadn't been completely irreplaceable. Between Eli and Lang – if he turned out to be as ambitious and eager as he seemed – they would easily fill the void left by Ron.
And years from now, after he'd served his terms as president, and eliminated the mutant threat to the country, he would pardon his friend, and they could work together once more.
"It's good to see you are feeling better, Remy," Charles said with a small smile. He turned his gaze to the empty bed next to Remy's. "I take it Jubilee was released already?"
Remy shifted into a more comfortable position on the bed, wincing as the movement sent a flicker of pain from his bruised ribs. "Oui. Annie let her go an hour ago. She's still makin' me stay here overnight though," he said, disappointment in his voice.
Charles laughed. "Yes, Ororo told me you don't exactly like hospitals, even if they're a small place like this."
"You guys here to debrief me?" Remy asked, nodding toward Fury who had stood quietly next to Charles.
"Yes," Fury said. "Shouldn't take long. We just need to know if you can remember anything that Maldrone might have said that would help us get closer to getting Creed. He's refusing to speak about him, and pretty much clammed up since we got him."
Remy nodded. "I figured dat." He sighed. "Unfortunately he didn' say too much. Nothin' really about Creed in particular. I did get de idea dat they've got a whole lot more in de works than just dose robots of theirs. He was goin' on about dis bein' a war, one dat'll end wit' de extinction of mutants. Between de torture an' his ego, I didn' get much more off of him."
Fury sighed, but nodded. "Alright. Just making sure. We're charging him with a nice laundry list of things, and we're going over his private cell phone. One of our agents found a phone number on there that was the same as one in a number of the phones of the mercenaries arrested for the attack on the Manhattan tunnels a few months back, so we might be charging him for planning that as well, if we can push one of them to squeal with the new information. Besides that, terrorism, assault, torturing a federal agent, that sort of thing."
Fury grimaced slightly. "We're going to need you to come in a few months from now when the case is heard, and give your testimony. I can set it up as a private, identity-protected one, basically you in a booth on your own providing testimony. The judge'll go for that if it means protecting the identity of an 'undercover' S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, but it means you'll still need to be there."
Remy smiled grimly. "Dat'll be my pleasure. Get dat little prick locked up for de rest of his life."
Nick smiled back dangerously. "Yes, I've already told him I'm going to ensure his trial itself is publicized, and that he gets placed in The Vault – that's where we're storing all the collared mutants we arrested on Alcatraz."
Remy chuckled. "Damn, dat's gotta have him wettin' his pants."
Nick nodded. "Yeah, the look on his face was beyond priceless." He cleared his throat, and pulled something out of his trenchcoat pocket.
"Anyway, besides wondering if he told you anything, I'm here to present you with this."
He handed the object to Remy, who looked down to see a silver medal in the shape of the eagle on the S.H.I.E.L.D. emblem, surrounded by several clusters of stars.
"This is our Medal of Valor – any agent that goes through something like you did and comes back to us to keep serving gets one of these to honor your service. Unfortunately we don't like keeping them outside of base, so once you're done with it I'll need it back to put it in your official record. CIA does the same."
Remy nodded, staring at it for a moment longer, before handing it back. "Thanks, I understand. Don' think I'd really want to pin it up in my room anyway an' remind myself all de time about de last few days."
Fury smiled. "I understand, kid. I got more than my share when I served back in 'Nam. They're locked away somewhere now. My family'll get them when I'm gone – I got the memories as it is, and that's bad enough."
Fury leaned forward and firmly shook his hand. "You make a good S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Remy, and I'm proud to serve with you. I wasn't quite sure about you at first but you've more than proven yourself, that you can overcome how you were raised, and use your past for something good. We'll talk later – you get yourself better, alright?"
"Yes sir," Remy said, cocking him a jaunty salute.
Fury chuckled, tucked the medal back into his pocket, and turned quietly to leave the room, leaving Charles and Remy alone in the quiet Medlab.
"I'm sorry, Remy," Charles began, "my little 'one last mission before summer' ended up like this…."
Remy shook his head. "Non, it's not your fault. We did what we could with what we had, an' things didn't go as expected. No one could have known about dese robot things. Sometimes you get de best intel you can an' just work off of dat, an' sometimes it's jus' completely wrong. I've had enough botched jobs in de past to tell me dat."
Charles smiled slightly. "Unfortunately, you and I are too alike, and despite knowing that fact I'll still feel blame on myself for this, like you do for the tunnels. But, I just want you to know – if you ever want to talk about this, about what happened at that base, I'm here to listen. I know better than most what that is like – Danielle's father and I were amongst four other soldiers in our unit that spent several weeks in a POW camp in Vietnam before we were rescued."
Remy nodded, and then sighed. "No offense, Charles, but I don' think I'll take you up on dat offer. I… it's not exactly something I want to talk about."
"I understand," Charles said.
"An' besides, I'd much rather talk 'bout it to my girlfriend den you." Remy said.
Charles chuckled. "Well, as long as it's someone. I know she'll be more than willing to listen, and I know that this is the sort of thing you have to talk about to get over. You're lucky to have a girl like Rogue who cares about you like she does."
Remy smiled and settled back on the bed. "I know, Charles. I definitely know dat – sometimes I can' believe it's even real."
Charles nodded. "Well, I'll let you rest – perhaps I'll run into Annie and see if I can talk her into letting you out tonight."
Remy grinned. "Please. Dat'd be great." He said, and Charles turned his wheelchair, guiding it out of the room toward the door.
Remy groaned and shut his eyes, starting to settle back into a more comfortable position on the bed, when he heard the door slide open once more.
"Forget somethin', Charles?" He called out, amused.
"Losin' your touch, little brother?" Ororo's amused voice came from his side.
He snapped his eyes open, and grinned. "Guess so. Dese painkillers are really somthin' else. Wish I had dese on dat job when you tripped me an' broke my nose."
Ororo blushed slightly. "That was an accident," she protested.
Remy chuckled. "I know, ma soeur."
"You really okay?" She asked, moving to sit at the edge of the bed next to him, her eyes looking him over with concern.
Remy grimaced, and nodded. "Yeah. Few days an' I'll be back to normal."
Ororo moved a shaking hand up, and ran it along his cheek, rubbing along the unshaved stubble that made him look hauntingly like he had the day he'd first arrived at the mansion.
He winced slightly as her finger pressed against his split lip. "How much of this was because of this mouth of yours?" Ororo asked.
He grinned slightly. "Probably half. Ronnie didn' like bein' called 'Ronnie' too much, an' he really didn' like me mockin' him."
She looked at him exasperatedly, shaking her head. "That's what I figured. Kitty got us into the Purifier video system, and we got to see a bit of what they…. What they were doing to you. With the cattle prod..."
Remy nodded. "Ah, dat's probably 'bout when I commented on knowin' now de sort of kinky things dat he an' his wife did in bed."
Ororo let out a choked laugh. "Oh, Remy, what are we going to do with you? Even in that you can joke." She sighed. "I wish we could have looked at it the same way you were, but seeing that…."
Remy's eyes widened slightly. "'We'?" He repeated. "Who saw it?"
"Everyone. Including Rogue," she said, answering what she knew he was really asking. "She was… very upset, to say the least. We had to talk her down from charging straight in there by herself. She told us we had half an hour to plan and after that she was going in with or without us."
His expression softened, a small smile coming over his face. "Dat sounds like my Rogue."
"She was quite persuasive," Ororo said with a chuckle. "I'm surprised we came out of it with Maldrone alive."
She looked down, her voice low now. "I'm glad she volunteered for picking you up though…. I don't think I'd have had her restraint. I would have probably killed him. They'd be wiping up charred pieces of him for weeks."
"Hey," Remy said, placing his fingers under her chin, lifting up her face to reveal the tears running down her cheeks. "C'mere," he said, pulling her closer, into a firm hug.
He knew that was something she struggled with – had struggled with since before he'd met her: using her abilities to actually kill someone. She'd killed a friend accidentally during an argument when her powers had first emerged, and vowed to never do it again, and although she'd come close once or twice, she'd kept that vow thus far.
"S'ok, ma soeur, I know. It's alright now, I'm back an' safe, an' you didn' kill him."
"I – I know," she whispered, gripping his shoulders tightly. "I'm so glad you're okay, Remy. I know I told Rogue you would be fine, you were strong, but I still worried about what they might do, how far they might go – that I might lose you now that you're finally back in my life….."
"I know, Stormy. I love you, ma soeur – I ain' goin' anywhere." Remy whispered into her ear, holding her tightly as she slowly calmed in his arms.
"Hey Pete, I've gotta head out, my flight's in a few hours," Kitty said, poking her head into his room.
Piotr's eyes widened, and he got up from his chair, walking across the room until he stood next to Kitty. "I forgot your flight was today. I'm leaving tomorrow."
Kitty nodded. "Yeah, Dani and I are taking a cab over – she's headin' back to Colorado. Just thought I'd come by and say bye. And thanks, for… everything. You've been a great friend, with the whole divorce thing, and my temporary craziness about finals, and helping out with the computers. I… thanks." She said, reaching out to grasp his hand for several moments, before pulling her hand away, blushing slightly.
"You're welcome, Kitty. I'm glad I could help you."
Kitty smiled, and then looked at her watch and gasped. "Dani'll kill me if I make her late for her flight. Gotta go. I'll call you or you call me – remember, crazy parent issues and all that, it'll be nice to get away with a good friend and forget about it all."
Piotr nodded and smiled back, patting his pocket. "I have your number, I'll call before they drive you crazy."
"Thanks Pete," she said. "You're awesome. Bye!"
She darted forward and kissed his cheek, before she waved and phased down through the floor of his room, leaving him standing there, frozen, trying to process exactly what just happened.
He finally grinned, and reached up to touch his cheek, where her warm lips had touched for just an instant.
'Maybe I have a better chance than I originally thought,' he mused, walking over to his bed.
"There have been several more reports of mutants that claim to have taken the Cure, who now say their powers have returned, sometimes in a violent fashion, although none more violent than one several weeks ago who literally exploded, destroying a building and killing himself in the process."
"Several of these mutants," the reporter continued, "have added their names to a lawsuit growing in size, made up of mutants who say they were part of the original FDA studies of Worthington Industries. Worthington Sr. has refused to comment, but a PR spokesperson said they are looking into the claims but believe it is too early to draw any conclusions about their product."
"Meanwhile, nearly ten thousand doses of the cure have been distributed across the country and been used by the clinics they were shipped to. The overall response, especially after the attack by Magneto on the laboratory that produced the cure has been positive, even by many mutants, including those who are not seeking the Cure who feel the option should be available for those who cannot deal with their mutation or the discrimination it brings."
"That doesn't sound very good," Lorna said to Warren, who sat on the couch next to her, his wing brushing her shoulder.
He shook his head. "I'll have to find out about it more when I go visit my dad later this month… "
She shot him a sympathetic look, and patted his arm. "It'll be alright – you don't have to live in his shadow anymore. You've got this Mutants Without Borders, and I think it will, in the long run at least, be even bigger than any Cure he could come up with. You'll be helping so many mutants."
He nodded, and smiled at her. "I know."
She nudged him playfully with her elbow. "You've already started, with Jubes, and haven't even officially started things up yet," she said with a grin. "Thanks, by the way, for saving her. I talked with Annie, and if you hadn't…. she wouldn't have made it," she said, her expression turning suddenly serious.
Warren smiled slightly, and placed a hand on her shoulder. "I know. Jubes already hunted me down and thanked me. I still have to go find Annie," he said.
"Better do it soon or she'll think I never told you she wanted to talk about your blood."
He shook his head. "She really thinks that's what it was?"
Lorna nodded. "Yep. Apparently Jubes has never shown any sign of healing quickly like that, until the transfusion, so she's pretty sure it was you."
He frowned slightly. "I… I guess that sort of makes sense. I've had… incidents where I've healed rather quickly." He said, thinking back to the several times he'd cut his developing wings off. They'd come back just as quickly over the several days after he'd done it. And finally, his father had discovered him in the process of doing it, leading to his drive to develop the Cure
"Warren?" Lorna asked softly, seeing his expression. "You alright?"
He forced a grimace down, and nodded, trying to smile. "Yeah, just some bad memories. I'll…. I'll tell you about them sometime, but not now."
Lorna chewed on the inner skin of her cheek for a moment, and decided to let it go. "Alright."
Her eyes became playful, and she looked up at him. "Y'know, we never went on that date, with everything that was going on."
Warren sighed, and nodded. "I know, I'm sorry, I was feeling pretty weak with the transfusion…."
She swatted his arm. "I'm not mad at you, dummy, I was hinting that we should go out now that everything has calmed down."
"Oh…." Warren said, his cheeks flushing slightly. "Sorry. I'd definitely still like to go. How about tomorrow night?"
"Hmm, let me check my schedule," she said, grinning as she mimed checking an imaginary appointment book. "Well, guess what? I'm free. Until fall semester starts. Which means we have plenty of time."
Warren laughed. "I guess you have a point there. Tomorrow night then."
He sighed reluctantly, standing up, handing her the remote. "I'll be back in a bit, I should go find Annie."
"Alright," Lorna said, and thumbed the button to call up the TV guide as he left the room, shivering slightly as the tips of his wings swung around and brushed down her leg.
She turned, smiling slightly as she watched him leave – 'A very nice sight,' she thought to herself, mentally thanking whoever had invented fitted jeans.
She just hoped things went as well the next night as she hoped for. Maybe, just maybe, she'd eventually have some 'juicy details' for her gossip-hungry friend, she thought, turning her attention back to the television.
Ronde Island, Grenada, In The Caribbean
"So, what do you think?" The realtor asked, nudging her thin, wire-rimmed glasses up her nose as her client climbed back aboard the boat they'd taken, having just returned from the shore of the island where they'd spent the last several hours walking and viewing it in its entirety.
"I like it," he replied. "It looked good on paper, and on the virtual tours, but visiting it – I think it's exactly what I need."
The brunette realtor smiled, her teeth a bright white in the hot sun of the Caribbean. "Now, like I said, it's 2000 acres, and as you saw, has never been developed, and rarely ever visited by anyone. It is the largest property available, anywhere."
The man nodded. "Yes. Now, the price is still a hundred million, like we discussed last week?"
She nodded back. "Certainly. Nothing has changed, the agreement and contract I sent you is exactly the same now as it was then." She let him ponder that for a moment. "So, are you going to buy it? I know you were rather eager when I found it for you…."
The man looked out across the azure water, teeming with tropical fish, and the occasional sea turtle, from where they were anchored at the edge of the small, shallow shelf that stretch out over a hundred feet from the shore. The island sat in an elongate shape, almost shaped like a tall rectangular box with a large bow on top, when looked at from above.
He stared at the gently-rolling, rocky hills of the island, which made it appear even bigger than it was, out at the tall palm trees and tropical plants that made it look like a lush, green paradise.
He finally nodded. "I'll take it. Now, what about the other two smaller islands. They're only a few thousand feet away from this one," he said, nodding toward one about a fifth of the size, and another even smaller.
"My, eager, aren't we?" She said, laughing. "They are both for sale as well. Ile de Caille, the larger one to the south is twenty million, and Diamond Rock – the smallest to the north is ten." She said.
"Caille, over there," she said pointing to the one to the south, covered in green vegetation, "is 400 acres, lots of nice small bays, plenty of beaches. A billionaire used to own it, but he sold it to us a few years back. There are four houses – uninhabited of course – and a 40,000 gallon water tank for water storage. Best of all, there is a dirt road network the man built across the island from beach to beach, as well as a fully functional air strip that can handle most small private jets."
The man's eyes lit up at that. "Very interesting…. Go on…"
"Diamond Island is much smaller, around 90 acres – I forget the exact specs on that one. Completely undeveloped. If you have the funds, I would certainly recommend doing it. Anyone else that buys them will be right on your 'backyard' as it were: with all three of them you wouldn't need to worry about having to get along with a 'neighbor'."
The man nodded, biting his lip. "That was my thought as well."
She allowed him to sit quietly, staring out at the three islands.
He finally nodded, and turned to her, grinning. "I'd like to take all three."
She grinned. "Very well, Mr. Eisenhardt," she said. "I'll get my laptop, and we can go through the contract once more and then get a transfer of funds, and we'll have everything in order."
"Great," he said with a lopsided smile, "and please, call me Joseph."
"Alright, Joseph," she said, slightly flirtatiously, looking at her client. He was young, only in his early thirties, his face rather dashing, his blue eyes standing out against his well-tanned skin – it was obvious he'd spent plenty of time in areas like this. The most surprising feature was his head of completely grey-white hair, that seemed totally at odds with his visible age. Sometimes, however, it was about genetics, she thought to herself. At least he was at an age where it made him look even more distinguished and mature.
They spent the next hour going over the contract, signing in spot after spot – buying an island was rather more complicated and involved than buying a house. She finally pulled out her laptop after filing away the contract and promising she'd get a copy sent off to him.
She hooked up the wireless through her cell-phone, and went to the realty's bank account, setting up for a funds transfer. She turned the laptop to him, and pointed to the screen. "Just confirm the price of one hundred-fifty-thousand with all the closing fees we spoke about, and then enter your bank account number."
He nodded, his tanned arms moving away from where they'd rested against his 'Hawaiian-shirt'-clad chest, and typed in a number.
She tilted her head, her eyes caught by a something on his arm. It was a small, roughly drawn tattoo, simply the numbers '24005', which looked like it had been done crudely by someone in a hurry. It also looked a lot like a type of tattoo she'd seen before – in photos from the Holocaust.
"Aren't you a little young for one of those, Joseph?" She asked quietly.
"Hmm?" he asked, looking up as he finished typing in the bank account number, and then followed her gaze. "Oh, that. Yeah, I am. Unfortunately I don't know where I got it from. I have complete amnesia, you see – I woke up one day not knowing who I was, with a simple hundred dollar bill in my pocket. I ended up getting a job, and that hundred dollars turned into the millions I have now. Perhaps I was a businessman in the past," he said with a slight smile. "As for the tattoo, maybe I had a relative in the Holocaust and I got it in memory of them." He shrugged.
She looked at him with a surprised expression. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize…."
"Don't be, I never told you, and I've rarely told anyone. Usually I just make up a story about my past when someone asks."
The laptop beeped, and she took advantage of the interruption to turn the discussion away from where she'd inadvertently taken it. She turned the screen back to her, and smiled when she saw the full sum in the bank account of her company.
"Well, Joseph, you are now the proud owner of these three islands. Do you have any plans yet, on what you're going to do with them?"
He nodded, smiling. "Yes, actually. I've been talking to the Grenada government for quite some time now about my plans since you told me about this island. They've agreed to let me treat it, basically, as my own little country. They'll let me do what I want with it, and I'll help them with some of the things they need."
Her eyebrows rose, not realizing he'd been in such contact with local officials. "I see. And what are your plans?"
"I'm going to develop Ronde Island. But I'm going to make most of my buildings earthen, underground ones – right below the surface of the island, so we can keep all this beautiful vegetation above them. With Caille Island, you mentioned that airstrip, which will save on building one here. That island will be an auxiliary one, and the arrival point, and Diamond Rock, I'm not sure yet. Perhaps keep it as a nature park."
"But, in the end, when I'm finished, this will be, basically, a nation of its own – an island refuge to my fellow mutants, any mutant that wishes to come and live here in peace, away from those that hate and persecute them in the outside world." Joseph concluded.
"Wow," she said, both at his ambitions and at the fact that he was a mutant – something she hadn't known. "That's…. actually a really nice idea."
He smiled. "It's been my dream since I found myself as a mutant after I woke up, and saw how we were treated. And now, thanks to your assistance today, that dream is finally coming true. Thank you, Linda," he said, taking her hand, bending over it and planting a kiss on the back of it.
She blushed. "You're welcome. Maybe you'll invite me over sometime, when you finish. I always like to see how my buyers are enjoying their property, and what they've done with it. Are you going to keep the island names as they are?"
"It'd be a pleasure – expect an invitation." He paused, looking back out at the island. "No, I'm going to rename the islands under one single name, to symbolize this little 'country'."
"What are you going to call it?" she asked, curious.
He smiled, and looked back at her after several moments, replying.
Remy laid back against the roof on his favorite spot, staring up at the cloud-filled night sky. The day had been exhausting. After Ororo had left, he'd been greeted by a slow stream of visitors, first by Lorna, then Kitty, and the rest of the students, all wishing him to get better quickly, before a number of them got ready to leave for the summer.
He took a long drag on his Djarum cigarette, savoring the flavor of the smoke, before slowly releasing it out the side of his mouth. He cocked his head to the side when he heard a noise from one of the balconies, and then smiled when he recognized it as Rogue's voice.
Moments later, she floated up over the edge of the gutter, Sarah gripping her shoulders tightly until Rogue finally settled down on the roof.
"Hey," Remy said quietly, and flicked his half-used cigarette away with a tiny bit of his power, causing it to glow and let off a slight 'pop' as it disintegrated into dust.
"Remy, I was lookin' for ya," Sarah said, letting go of Rogue and rushing over to sit down next to him on the roof.
Rogue crossed her arms and looked down at him sternly. "Did Annie let yah out?"
Remy grinned slightly. "Well… not officially…"
Rogue rolled her eyes. "Which means yah ignored her an' took off without askin' anyone. You're impossible."
Remy grinned. "I know. But now I have ma infirmiére up here wit' me, an' she can keep me under observation up here instead of in dat hospital bed."
Rogue sighed. "Alright," she said, and sank down onto the roof on the other side of him. "Ah'll tell Annie Ah found yah an' watched yah, but Ah'm not savin' yah from her – she's gonna be pissed."
Remy smiled. "Thanks, ma Chére. I jus' couldn't stand lyin' dere anymore. Needed to get out an' get some air. Think."
Rogue's glare softened, and she nodded, running her hand gently along his arm. "Ah know, Sugah."
Sarah looked up at the two of them. "Can we sleep up here again? I like it when we do that…."
Remy laughed, and slowly moved his arm to place it around her, letting her rest her head in the crook of his shoulder, and then did the same for Rogue, who turned on her side and rested her palm on his chest, her cheek against his shoulder. "Course we can, petite. Don' wanna sleep any other way tonight. You two kept me goin' de last few days, I want to be near you two for as long as I can."
"We did?" Sarah asked innocently, looking up at him with interest.
Remy nodded, and bent his head slightly to kiss her bangs. "Oui. Whenever I started feelin' bad 'bout what happened, I jus' thought of you two an' I was ready for anythin' dey had planned for me."
"Glad I helped ya, Remy," Sarah said, snuggling closer, and closing her eyes.
"You did. More'n you'll ever know. Good night, petite," he said.
"G'night Remy, n'Rogue," she mumbled sleepily.
Remy glanced over to Rogue, exchanging a grin with her as he felt Sarah's breath evening out lightly against his chest.
"Dat was quick," he murmured.
"Ah'm not surprised," Rogue said softly. "She was up with Lorna until after three in th'mornin' they – couldn' sleep until they heard how yah were. Ah got her to go to sleep, but then she was awake at seven-thirty, draggin' me down to th'basement to see if you'd woken up."
Remy grimaced. "Damn. Didn' realize dat."
She moved her hand, rubbing slow, small circles along his chest with her palm. "She was an even bigger mess when she heard yah'd been taken by them. Ah found her out hidin' in the stables, cryin' her eyes out. She thought yah weren't comin' back." Rogue shook her head. "We slept in your room that night, an' she had a lot of bad nightmares."
Remy nodded. "I think it's part what happened to her mom, an' den to her friends in de tunnels. She's really scared of bein' left alone like dat, an' I don' blame her."
Rogue shrugged slightly. "Ah guess. But how do yah explain me? Ah felt th'same. Maybe it's jus' how we feel about yah."
Remy shifted slightly, allowing him to turn slightly toward her while remaining as a pillow for Sarah. "Maybe," he said quietly, running his injured left hand, still bandaged, down her side, using the arm to pull her closer to him so he could kiss her forehead.
"Remy, yah tol' me somethin' last night. After Ah brought yah back to the jet, right b'fore yah passed out."
Remy looked at her, slightly confused, trying to bring back his hazy memory of the time. "What'd I tell you?"
"Well," Rogue said, biting her lip for a moment. "Yah tol' me yah wanted to tell me a secret…."
Remy's brow furrowed, and then the memory came up clearly – or at least as clearly as possible given his mental state at the time. "Ah. Then I said Je t'aime…"
Rogue nodded, looking up at him hesitantly.
"I meant it, Chére, even if I was a bit delirious. I love you, so much, Rogue. You're… I never met someone like you – it's like... Well, I know it's probably pretty corny, but it's like you're de other half of me."
Rogue's breath caught in her throat, and her arm around him tightened. "Ah… you're right, it's a little corny, but it's also really sweet. Ah've just…. Ah've felt the same for a long time now. Ah think Ah first realized it at Dani's house, lyin' in bed with you an' Sarah," she said, her voice shaking slightly.
"Ah love yah Remy. An' Ah wish Ah'd been brave enough ta say it to yah before. That was the thing that scared me th'most. That we might not be able ta find yah in time…. And yah'd never know." Tears came to her eyes and were blinked away swiftly.
He shook his head gently, and leaned his forehead down against hers for a moment, the tingling exchange of energy warming and calming her. "I knew, Chére. I knew in de way you looked at me, an' acted, even if we never said it out loud."
Rogue shot him a watery smile. "Doesn't beat hearin' it though…"
Remy chuckled slightly. "Well I'll say it again den – I love you, Chére."
She sighed happily against his shirt, closing her eyes.
"Should have tol' you too, way back, but…. I ain' had de best track record wit' dose words. Most of de time it ends wit' my heart stomped on, so I've always been a little hesitant, even when I know it's de truth, an' even when I know you're not goin' to do de same to me."
Rogue nodded. "Ah figured. Ororo tol' me the night yah came down to th'kitchen after yah came here, that yah'd been hurt in relationships b'fore. Guess it's good, we both know how it feels, an' wouldn' want t'do it to each other because of that."
Remy smiled, and shifted again to press his lips against hers in a long, slow kiss.
She felt herself melt against him, her fingers curling slightly against his chest, and she returned the kiss passionately, trying to make it last as long as she could.
She finally reluctantly began to pull away when she felt the energy build, signaling that she was absorbing him to his limits, when he shocked her.
He pulled back for a moment, gasping, and then leaned forward and kissed her again, pulling his charge out through her lips and back into himself, letting him continue with his regained energy. His arm behind her back tightened, pressing her closer against his firm body, and she felt warmth not related to his mutation begin to grow inside her.
They both finally pulled apart, gasping, when they reached the time limit again, and Remy lazily pulled the charge back from her hands this time, looking slightly exhausted.
"R-Remy," Rogue said, her cheeks pink. "Ah – what was that?"
Remy gave her a tired grin. "Jus' somethin' I wanted to try. Been workin' to get better at pullin' back my energy. Actually probably could do it a third time if you want…." He trailed off, cocking an eyebrow.
She smiled, tears in her eyes once again. "Yah know, yah are such a sweet man, Remy LeBeau. Ah'd love that, but yah have to keep your energy up t'get better, an' Ah don' wanna set yah back. Maybe once you're healin' up a bit more?"
Remy groaned slightly, and let her nuzzle the top of her head up under his chin, protected by the brown and white locks of hair creating a barrier between them. "Dat's a promise, Chére." He said, yawning slightly.
She patted her hand against his chest. "Go to sleep, Sugah, yah need it."
"Sweet dreams, mon amour," Remy said.
"Love ya," Rogue said, the words slipping out so easily now that it seemed crazy to her that she'd not been able to say them before.
As the two young lovers fell asleep, their companion on the roof allowed a small smile to cross her face – Sarah had feigned sleep on Remy's shoulder, wanting to give them time by themselves, and not worry about her.
Her little 'family', mish-mashed and patchwork as it was, was finally completely whole, and she never wanted that to change.
And then, of course, there was the relief at no longer feeling like whacking them over their heads to get them to tell each other how they felt, she thought with a contented grin.
A/N: Hey guys, hope you liked it. Dropped in a few hints of upcoming storylines in the sequel, but there are many, many more coming.
Who is Joseph Eisenhardt? Hmmmm…. You'll just have to wait and see (Ronde Island is real, and for sale right now for 100 million – so is Caille for the price I said, but Diamond Rock isn't for sale. If anyone is interested in buying a private island, LOL). My own little take on Genosha as a 'movieverse' version – don't worry, we'll find out much more in the sequel about Genosha and its new owner.
As you can see, Lang and Creed will continue to be problems for our team, and we'll soon see Eli Bard and possibly some of the other projects the Purifiers are getting involved with.
Sadly, we come to an end of this fic, which I started nearly quite a while ago. It's a bit bittersweet, finally coming to an end – sad that it's ending, but great that I've got the sequel to work on. If you'd asked me way back then when I started, I'd never have predicted the fic would be this long (35 chapters, 360+ thousand words long).
In fact, my original plan would have seen this fic ending with an epilogue after the Alcatraz chapter (basically ending around where the movie ended), and then possibly a sequel involving SENTINELs. It wasn't until I neared that point that I decided that it needed to be lengthened by quite a bit just to continue everything I was working through, and eventually that it needed to have an entire sequel beyond anything I'd planned.
Anyway, thanks a bunch to all you readers out there, and especially to all you reviewers who have given me such great feedback. While I don't write for the reviews, I doubt this would have become what it is without your support and all the love you've given for this story.
So, thanks again, and I'll see you guys with the sequel, which should be out in a week or so. It'll be set a month or two in the future, a bit before school starts up, and we'll see what's been going on over the summer, with some flashbacks in places.
The sequel will be titled: "X4 – The Queen of Hearts". See you guys in the sequel!