Ah to turq and ShadowFax999: my biggest pet peeve is static problems (ones people just never get over) I hate that! So giving Carol a dynamic role is important to me, as well as Rogue and Remy not running away, but "sucking it up and dealing with it"!
CaraM: "Rogue's fundamental problem: She has no self worth past her ability to touch and be touched." Very poignant. It goes further - she believes she has nothing to offer a relationship beyond touch, though this is also dismissive to Remy as someone to whom that it is the most important thing. She made the same assumption last series and Remy's going to have to deal with it, confronting his own beliefs about it as well.
Thanks to my readers!
For my little 'Eyes and Ears', everyone loved X-23 - I'm glad. She took the most thinking-out to write, but she's fascinating and I'm glad people resonated with her perspective. Thanks, ishandahalf, Chica De Los Ojos Café, reg4444, AiRo25 (tBeast you so much!), Ele Goddess of Elements. To my latest ITT fans, Midnight Wolfy (thanks), Ruroca57 (exactly!), Drumgirl1923, ColorCoated, and ishandahalf. And finally, from the last chapter: MidniteAngelGoth (=)), Chica De Los Ojos Cafe (I know how you feel! I love your comments - spot on with my thoughts!), Sassyx22x (good!), AngeliqueTussaud, S (lol!), Black Metalmark (thank you!), and aiRo25.
Finally, to my longest new reviewer!
Turq: I so agree about Kitty. Piotr is actually pronounced: Pee-O-tur. -pout- Not very pretty sounding, but I firmly believe people from other countries should have their names respected and used as they are. I loved your review, so thoughtful! I love writing in little hints - and connecting to Romy to the larger universe they inhabit. "In this fic I've been able to hear the characters in my head as I read!" That's how I write actually - I get dialogue first and how people talk to central to this. Lol, they definitely both needed bops!
This chapter was necessary for plot development, but next chapter will be funner: hint, the title will be Ménage à Trois.
Kitty was thrilled when Xavier realized one of the first steps to Rogue actually adjusting to Carol's inclusion in her - well, her, was going shopping. As Remy had been the first to realize, her body had changed, melded with Carol's contours.
Rogue wasn't thrilled with the change. None of her tight tops fit anymore and the gauzy over-shirts strained against her new cleavage and additional musculature. Her hips, thankfully, had only gained an inch - though that meant her favorite black tight skirts were too small. Her hair had gained even more curl, not that Rogue intended to let it show. The only measurement that hadn't changed was her foot size - by the time Rogue had figured that out, it was the only thing that stopped her from breaking down.
She'd stared at her face in the mirror for a full hour trying to pick out the minutiae differences. Remy had found her there, staring blackly at the stranger before her, an old picture propped up against the bathroom mirror. He'd come up behind her and gripped her shoulders, crouching to rest his chin on her hair.
"Your eyes, dey d' same," was the only thing he said.
It was the first and last time she cried over what happened. Remy never said a word.
Rogue wanted to resist the changes - she'd thrown a fit the first day when her regular clothes hadn't fit, let alone underclothes. She'd thrown on a sweatshirt and sweatpants to sulk in her room. It was then that Xavier unleashed Kitty with a credit card complete with a max limit of $1,000. Every other girl in the mansion was literally green with envy, except probably Laura, including Jean, whose parents were dragging their feet over paying for a wedding to such an obvious mutant. Ironically, Kitty had to then shoo them all away in order to drag her very reluctant roommate to the mall.
Rogue hated the whole process. She hated having to get re-measured, she hated having to navigate through the crowds, and she especially hated the fact she simply couldn't re-buy her old wardrobe. Beyond the fact styles and fashion had changed some over time, she had a very nosy, persistent busybody to deal with. Well, two actually - Kitty kept trying to slip blue, red and purple items into her selections, at least deep in tone thankfully.
Carol wasn't about to be left out of this process. She insisted on commenting on every single scrap of clothing, both color and stylistically.
Carol didn't like all the dark colors. Carol didn't like the cover-shirts (gauzy tissue paper she sniffed.) Carol didn't like the full coverage at all - (well yah don't wan' anyone ta join yah, yeah? - that only shut down the complaints for a little while.)
Carol did like yellow, bright, deep yellow. She liked bold primary colors and skinny jeans and bared shoulders and legs. Prim and proper as she may have been in uniform, she had no problem playing up her womanly assets in order to both distract and induce cooperation.
In other words, she liked clothes flashy and totally inappropriate - and she sneered at all Rogue's subdued choices.
To be honest, Rogue's short temper was fraying, not least because she simply wasn't used to such insistence. None of her other psyches were quite that possessive of her body. When they spoke up, on a usual day not the cacophony of losing-control, they usually tended to be more muted or at least reacting more to what was in her head than reality. They fought with each other or her, commenting on what she was thinking about rather than looking at or interacting with outside. For some reason though, Carol seemed to have access to her senses - at one particularly gothic clothing choice, Carol had actually manipulated her arm into throwing it away. (Kitty had started, but when she heard the whispered epithets, she wisely ignored it.)
It also didn't help that every time Carol wanted to get her way, she had no problem pointing out it was Rogue's fault she was stuck in her body in the first place and would never have her body again.
The thought she'd have these arguments for the rest of her life left her nauseous and she skipped dinner that night. (Remy brought her left-overs - and thankfully Carol was bitched out enough that she didn't muster anything but some disdain while he surveyed her new wardrobe and made flirtatious remarks to cheer Rogue up.)
The weight rested on her hand. It felt heavy, her muscles were tensed, but there was no strain. It was odd, unsettling -
If they're going to fuss so much, might as well show off. Carol sounded bored. Twirl it on your finger or something.
Rogue didn't feel nearly as blasé about lifting one ton weights. It had taken a crane to load the weight into the Danger Room and the fact she could lift it so easily?
The scanner whirred, rotating on its vertical pole, mapping her. Carol knew her own limits, but she'd declared them 'classified' and so the X-Men were left to determine them on their own. Weight was first - Rogue was in no hurry to test her invulnerability or even flight speeds or heights.
Of course, not all agreed with this. A crackling sound whistled by her boot and she tried to stoically ignore it. Her, well, Remy on the other hand, insisted on trying to change her reflexes from flight to fight since she was now impermeable.
And pissing her off with his impatience - he always did push her farther. Carol grimaced as her thoughts wandered. Let's focus on what you can do, not can't, she snapped cuttingly. She was already not thrilled at Rogue's clothing choice. (Her old uniform certainly didn't fit, so she was suited up in one of Storm's spare uniform tops and new black bottoms. Carol wanted a splash of yellow down the middle, like Shadowcat's outfit. Rogue wouldn't even consider it.)
Rogue cleared her throat, hefting the weight into her other hand. "So what does the scanna say?"
Beast, bending over portable machine, delicate spectacles juxtaposing to his bulky form, didn't even look up. "Hmmm."
Another crackling sound came from her prone, bored boyfriend. She stomped on the newest card, grounding it into the floor and shooting him a look. He smiled charmingly.
"From what I can tell," Beast finally ventured. "You apparently have some kind of bio-energy force field."
Rogue perked up. "Force field?"
"Bio-energy?" Remy parroted instead, also perking up.
"Ah, force field is no quite correct. It appears to be all internal." He tapped a button and a probe promptly twirled into place and poked her. It didn't hurt, but Rogue rubbed the spot anyway. "It's reinforcing your musculature. The invulnerability appears to be a natural consequence of this bio-energy underlying your physical body. When you use your strength, your muscles tense and the energy builds up in those muscles. If you put down the weight-" Rogue did so and Beast swiveled the screen. "-you can see that the glow around those muscles becomes the same as the rest of your body." Rogue dutifully looked at the screen. Her body pulsed yellow in color.
"Ain't I supposa ta show up red?" she asked.
Remy gracefully slipped to her side and Beast's hands flew over the keyboard. The scanner whirring again, Beast started speaking, "You're thinking of body heat sensors. However, this is more specifically geared towards energy output. Still, if you compared myself," her non-graphic figure shrunk and a more stooped one joined her, "I come out as low red as I'm not exerting myself. Now, Gambit here," another figure joined them, "shows up as high red, with edgings of yellow sparking, due to a heightened charge that extends around his body."
"Is it ahlways like that?" She didn't see Remy try to signal a negation, but then neither did Beast.
"No. When he is in your proximity or in battle, his energy tends to flare like this," Beast mentioned thoughtfully. Rogue straightened, but Remy interrupted by lighting up a card. The on-screen figure's hand immediately went yellow-white. "Ah, and as you can see, when Gambit or Jubilee or someone else who discharges energy prepares to do so, their energy focuses. They are also most likely to be high red all the time. As you do not discharge energy, your energy will most likely stay in this yellow range. When you exert yourself, the energy does intensify, but most likely not beyond a certain threshold." He pushed his glasses up further. "The implications this holds for the ability to fly unfortunately remains merely speculative. If you could-"
Of all of her new powers, Rogue resisted flying the most. Carol didn't challenge her on that though. She had loved to fly.
"Is there anyway to turn it off?" she interrupted.
"Rogue?" the intercom from the control room flipped on, Cyclops' voice filtering her down.
Yay, more gawkers.
She observed them from the control booth. Quite a pair, the two of them. Red and green, charming and offensive, external and internal, power giver and power taker, oversexed and untouched. He came to her side and she could feel their powers reach for each other, brush up against each other. So much power - she could almost taste it…
She ignored the interruption. "Well?"
Beast cocked his head, clearly thinking the idea over. "Based on the data I've collected so far, I would have to say no. The flight appears to be an ability enabled by the bio-energy field, however the rest is all imbued into the physical body, much like Gambit's eyes or Wolverine's advanced healing."
Rogue swallowed and upped her chin. "If it's a bio-field, is it possible that it could cancel out mah absorption?"
Beast met her eyes slowly. "As far as I can tell-"
"Yeah or no, Mistah McCoy?"
"Rogue, I'm sorry."
Jean shook her head, her thoughts suddenly foggy. She watched as Remy reached to squeeze Rogue's arm. She shook him off and stalked out of the room.
Jean rubbed her temples, trying to remember what she'd been thinking. She couldn't quite recall - it had to stress, tension. As a telepath, self-control, especially control of her mind was crucial, imperative. Forgetting things, not being able to remember (like why Logan was avoiding her), her professors complaining about distraction - it had to be stress. Anything else…
"Jean, you okay?" It was Scott, holding her arm. She slipped out of his grasp, pasting a smile on her face.
"I'm fine." It came out sharp and she left the control room.
She didn't see Scott's concerned gaze behind her or Rogue, closely followed by Remy, coming up the stairs.
She didn't hear Scott shrug off the others' looks or him say awkwardly, "She's under a lot of pressure, you know, with the wedding."
She certainly didn't hear Remy's retort, "Remember what dat's like" or see Rogue elbow him in the side.
Gambit winced, shifting the ice pack he was holding against his shoulder. "All Remy say was dat he like de girls," he made a motion that made it clear he was referring to certain parts of the female anatomy. "she feelin' insecure, non? So what so wrong?"
Across the table, Scott and Bobby exchanged glances, before turning back to the man nursing a head wound left by a thrown shoe.
"You know nothing about women," said Scott, feeling rather smug about being able to actually say that to Gambit. It lasted a brief moment before Gambit's smirking mouth opened and Scott amended it himself. "Well, at least, nothing about seriously dating a girl." That got him a shrug. "Girls never want to feel like if they change something, a guy likes her better."
"But dey always complainin' 'bout-" Scott realized Remy had probably been exposed to the Manor girls' pastime of dissecting themselves to figure out how to attract a guy.
"Believe me, they don't want any confirmation." Scott had learned that one when he was thirteen and innocently commented Susan Farez should cut her hair, it'd look better.
Gambit changed tactics. "But I liked 'er smaller jus' fine."
"Really?" Bobby piped up. Both Gambit and Scott shot him severe looks.
Scott cleared his throat. "But she still feels her old body was, well, the real body."
Silence. There were bigger issues there of course; Scott knew that Rogue would have to accept her new body and Gambit obviously did as well - it wasn't even worth saying. "So what d' I say?"
"No idea," Scott didn't have that much insight into the female mind. Sometimes it seemed to him there were only guidelines on what not to do, which of course you only learned once you did it. "But there's a fine line between acceptance and preference," he said wisely.
Remy threw up his hands. "Boobs are boobs-"
"Do you have to be so crude?" Scott hissed, flushing. It was bad enough they were discussing this about Rogue…
Gambit snorted. "Dat ain't crude. Y'guys so uptight, don't anybody 'round here eva talk 'bout scoring or anyt'in'?"
In Scott's defense, he hadn't been having the best day or even week. Jean was acting strange, but kept insisting she felt fine - his wedding was coming up (and man, he hadn't really planned on actually marrying until done with at least half of college) and he couldn't even think about it, because he had a telepathic girlfriend for goodness' sake!
Scoring? He started out calm but… "No, we don't talk about scoring, because if you even cared to notice, we're surrounded by females, including one who's a telepath, and people with super senses and younger students who need good examples and the only guys who are even around my age are Kurt, who's devout Catholic and covered in blue fur that I really don't want to consider the implications of, and Peter, who can't even hold Kitty's hand without blushing, or Brotherhood, which we're hardly on speaking terms with - SO NO I-" he suddenly realized he had no idea what he was supposed to be talking about, lowered his tone and finished lamely, "just no."
Gambit stared at him for a long moment. "Y'need t' get laid." But before Scott could balloon up in frustrated fury that once again Gambit showed no signs of actual comprehension or even listening, Gambit shook his had sympathetically. "Mais wit' yah chere all busy wit' weddin' plans, chances be slim. So de bar it is!"
Somehow, despite convoluted protests (though Scott couldn't say how hard he resisted, with Jean acting weird and the wedding looming maybe he did need a break), Gambit corralled him out of the Mansion and sat him down at what he belatedly realized was Logan's drinking place. Logan, typically, scowled when he saw them.
"Thought I'd gotten your emo ass outta here," he growled, "-and why's the boy scout here?"
Gambit smiled winningly. "I be workin' wit' de cherie. 'Sides de boy scout wound so tight he liable to break a spring."
Logan looked over at Scott with a raised eyebrow. He shrugged. "I need a drink."
Scott proceeded to focus on his drink. He didn't much like alcohol, but he realized it was kindof nice to be out of the mansion with people who knew he was a mutant. He drained his glass and actually smiled when the bartender refilled it.
Logan and Gambit talked about basically nothing, Scott didn't much care as he relaxed with his glass, but finally Logan grimaced and cleared his throat, "So how's Stripes?"
Gambit, for once not glib to Scott's surprise, rubbed his brow. "She startin' t'adjust, mais she really upset 'bout de touchin'. She won't hear 'bout any practice."
Scott choked, remembering the last time in what context Gambit had used that word. "Maybe you're the one upset," he muttered. Gambit glared, his eyes glinting a fiery red, giving Scott the always weird feeling he was seeing his own eyes right before the lasers fired.
"Dis ain't 'bout me, One Eye. She ain't touchin' no one-"
"Hasn't been that long," Logan pointed out and Gambit shifted focus.
"Don't give me dat shite; she don't need time 'bout dis - she t'inkin' she poison and dat's it. Dat's all 'll ever be."
Gambit blinked and Scott actually had an epiphany. It could've been the alcohol, but as Gambit, Remy, kept talking, kept talking about how she was giving up hope and how he wouldn't let her (or at least that was what penetrated through that thick Cajun sludge Gambit considered normal speech) - Scott realized that maybe Remy saw a bit of himself in Rogue.
Didn't he always write off the Cajun mutant? But Peter considered him a good friend, Logan let him drink with him (as close to friendliness that Scott could imagine), Xavier always spoke respectfully of him, and Rogue, Rogue clearly considered him worth dating and tracking half-way across the country.
The thief, the mercenary, the ladies' man - not serious, respecting no one, only capable of harm - how many had assumed that of him? And who had believed contrary?
Xavier, of course.
And he had to be drunker than he realized - having completely lost track of whatever his companions were talking about - Scott raised his glass, belatedly realizing it was empty. (Later, he would remember this as one of his last semi-coherent memories of the night.) "Remy, y'a good guy."
Remy, for some reason weaving, took his glass away. "An' dat, mon ami, means y' had enough."
Logan, or a pig (but what would a pig be doing in a bar - perhaps drinking?)…snorted.