A young boy was running for his life. He pelted down the abandoned streets of New York like an expert – he knew the city like the back of his hand, there was nowhere he hadn't explored. Like a trained thief he volted over a low gate and paused in a thin alleyway to catch his breath. The buildings around him were crumbling from years of neglect. The island that was thriving New York looked nothing like its former glorious city. The only occupants were thieves, beggars, and mutants – all of whom were forced to live outside of society; stealing and generally wasting away. The boy knew nothing of politics, of why things were as they were, and he just accepted it as the normal. He was fifteen years old and it had always been this way.
He straightened his collar and stepped out of the alley cautiously. The sentinel was gone. The street was empty but that didn't mean he was out of danger yet. He moved quickly in the direction of the river and didn't stop to think why the robot had stopped following him. When he reached his goal a man with messy black hair was waiting for him. He was a mutant too and his skin was blue – age and fatigue played around his eyes. "Any trouble?" he asked the boy.
"Nawh, ran into a sentinel but lost him quick enough," he slung the bag he'd been carrying over his back and allowed the man to take his hand. A few moments later they had teleported back to their home and the boy left his findings in the medical bay. The bag contained a few bottles of medicine and other medical supplies filched from New York as mutants were no longer able to enter shops. The boy left the medical bay and soon enough ran into his father.
"I hear ye' ran into an old sentinel? How'd 't go?" Remy LeBeau was not anxious in the slightest for his first born; he knew the score but also knew that his son was tough and trusted his judgement. The two greeted each other with a short embrace.
"It was alright. I chucked a charged piece of brick at him but it didn't really do anythin'," the boy couldn't help but show off a little. Remy chuckled. He was still a handsome man though his hair was greying and he was a few pounds heavier.
"Don't let Scotty hear you say dat. He'll freak."
"You don't. Nor did mum."
"Yeah well, your mum was made outta' stronger stuff than ol' Cyclops. An' so am I," Remy replied shortly. His smile was suddenly strained and his son bit his lip ruefully.
"It's fine. Go find y' sister. She's been worried."
The boy left and Remy LeBeau sighed. Life had to go on...however depressing and dark it was. The X-Men still struggled on – though to what end Remy no longer knew.
Rogue stood in Professor Xavier's tidy office with hope clouding her features. She was trying to coax him into doing something and so was using her most polite tone. Sunlight was streaming in through the window and it warmed the side of her face. "...So you see, Professor, it might just work now...Can't we at least try?"
"Let me get this straight. Passing over the fact that you and Mr LeBeau were fighting – which we will talk about at a later time – you managed to touch his skin without draining him?"
"Yeah. Ah mean it was only for a second, but ah didn't feel anythin' at all. He went a bit shaky but it wasn't like usual. Usually, even if ah brush against someone, ah can feel what's going to happen. Ah can feel their shock and life force rearing up..." she cleared her throat. "Well, it's hard to describe. But ah can feel their defence."
"But no such feeling happened with Mr LeBeau."
He considered this for a second and then held out his hand. "Touch my hand, Rogue."
"Trust me, please. I am – forgive me – more powerful than you and am able to withhold your powers better than others. I should like to see for myself if your mutation has changed."
Rogue accepted this and gently touched his hand with her fingers. At once she could feel the connection start to take place but the familiar sense of draining was not there – the only sign of weakness Professor Xavier showed was to put his spare hand to his temple as though he had a headache. Silently he nodded and she drew away. "Well I can certainly see why you came to me."
"What do you think?" she asked anxiously. She was trying not to get her hopes up. Her life had been plagued with misery and she didn't bank on that changing just yet. Professor Xavier looked at her with understanding – obviously guessing her thoughts.
"I don't want to give you false hope, Rogue, but it would appear as though you are learning control of your powers. I can't guess why or even how...but there you have it..."
Rogue let out the breath she didn't know she'd been holding. She felt her eyes glisten with tears of happiness.
"I would hazard a guess that some emotional change has triggered this," the professor was speaking gently. "Can you think of any?"
What a question! The question had so many answers that her head spun just thinking about it. Leaving school, Gambit, Destiny's prophecy, the attack on the mansion, the deaths of her team mates, reuniting with Cody...It was a year like no other. She wondered how much of it the professor knew about. "Ah can think of one thing. When Gambit was here..." she urged her tears to fade and for her hands to stop shaking. "He told me somethin' about the future. Ah know he wasn't supposed to but he didn't mean any harm," she quickly added.
"Take a seat, my dear. Go on..."
"He told me ah was goin' to have kids," she revealed and a nervous smile broke out on her face. What must she look like, shaking and giggling to herself? "He told me that an' ah think that's why ah'm startin to control ma powers. Because ah know that eventually – in the future- ah will have control...Does that make sense?"
"Perfectly," the professor smiled and offered her a tissue. "I do believe you're right, Rogue. And I propose that we continue our lessons every week. Hopefully, and I do genuinely think we will, we will make further progress."
"Thank you," she returned the smile and stood to leave. Just before she closed the door behind her, the professor spoke...
"Be careful you don't repeat any of Destiny's prophecy to anyone else, my dear. It does not do well to dwell on prophecies. No one's life is set."
Slowly life came back to the X-Men. They banded together to rebuild and form some sort of routine in their underground base. Of course, there were times when their future looked uncertain but what else could they do but keep trying? Logan had resumed the Danger Room training schedules and Storm was working with the professor and Beast at organising tuition for those who could no longer go to school. Several of the older X-men helped out in any way they could which meant Rogue and Betsy – Psyclocke – aided Logan in the Danger Room. Rogue didn't mind too much – it kept her busy and she preferred this to helping Beast in the medical bay like Kurt. She would've liked to help Angel and Scott who kept disappearing for sometimes days at a time on the Professors orders but they kept hushed. Nobody knew what they were getting up to so naturally it intrigued Rogue. She fell in with this new routine easily and only occasionally felt a twinge of guilt for moving on after the deaths of her team mates. She regarded the X-men as family – all except the new girl Carol Danvers.
She wasn't sure why but she didn't like the girl. Perhaps it was her simpering smile or her beautiful long blonde hair. She seemed to agree with anything anyone said and expected adoration wherever she went – a far cry from Rogue. Rogue oversaw several of her training sessions with Logan and admittedly the girl was very talented; she had super strength that rivalled Colossus and she could even fly without the aid of wings. The only exchange the two girls had shared was in passing and that had been about lunch – not particularly inspiring. Which is why therefore Rogue was intrigued when she saw the girl sneak out of the grounds after curfew. Several of the older students snuck out, that was no surprise, and even Rogue had done it a few times for music gigs or to simply clear her head with a walk. She knew that the old Brotherhood members were particularly bad with curfews and so were the old Acolytes. However, no one was so anxious about being caught and with the current tension against mutants it was not safe to be out alone. Rogue brought it up when they were alone the following day – expecting the girl to giggle and perhaps share a mischievous look – but she hotly denied it and gave her a very cold look instead. After that Carol went out of her way to avoid her.
Remy was also avoiding her. Their initial reunion had been going quite well until she'd mentioned his wife and the girl called Marrow. She swallowed her pride and asked Kitty about the pink haired girl, learning that she was a new member to the team. "She's a little younger than us but seems okay. Kind of quiet though," Kitty added with shrug. "Keeps to herself."
"Sure looked like it sprawled all over his lap," Rogue muttered and Kitty gave her a curious look, though obviously thought it better not to ask.
Ah don't even care. Damn Swamp Rat.
He was married though, that much was clear, but she didn't understand why it had been a secret. He was the biggest flirt in the mansion and all the girls were crazy about him. Perhaps they were estranged or separated? Plenty of people had failed marriages so why hadn't he told anyone? Nobody here was in any position to judge him. She thought of what this Belladonna looked like. With Remy's track record she would no doubt be some blonde bimbo with a nice rack and a thing for slimy pick up lines. She thought about Marrow and her age and felt a spark of sympathy for the pink haired mutant. She's obviously caught up in his little games.
The very next day she ran into Marrow in the girls changing rooms. Marrow had been changing out of her training gear, her face glistening with sweat after an intense work out session. She smiled at Rogue, although it didn't reach her eyes.
"We haven't been introduced…Ah'm Rogue," Rogue held out a gloved hand and Marrow shook it warily.
"I know. I mean, I've heard about you before," she corrected shyly. "Remy's spoken about you."
Rogue tried to smile, "An' ah bet only half of it's true."
She changed into her own training clothes and tied her hair up into a tight knot. She was about to leave when Marrow spoke up.
"I didn't mean that he said anything bad. Only in passing, really. I thought you might've been an ex-girlfriend or something but he looked annoyed when I asked…and it takes a lot to bug Remy," she smiled.
"You don't have to worry, Remy an' I have never dated," she replied.
Marrow looked surprised. "Oh! No, we aren't-I mean we aren't like that. He's much older than me. He helped me that's all, and I sort of owe him."
Rogue kept her face blank and she nodded. "It was nice to meet you. Ah'll see you around."
She took her time in that danger room session and really gave it her all. By the time she was finished she was panting and held onto the punch bag for support. She remembered Gambit teaching her how to punch accurately and blinked the painful memory away. She still dreamed about him sometimes but no matter how hard she tried to remember he was beginning to fade from her memory. Had he really been here? She could no longer remember what his touch felt like. He had kissed her by the front gates but the taste of his lips and the feel of his stubble against her skin was a blur. She used to lay awake at night and imagine him beside her on the bed but now she was alone again. She didn't speak to anyone about this – not even Kitty – as she knew they would look at her with pity and she couldn't handle that. However, during her next session with the professor he gently addressed it.
She had been touching his hand and trying to control the flow of absorption when he pulled away. "Ah'm sorry," she said automatically.
"It's quite alright, Rogue. I wonder if I might ask you something, though."
She was surprised, "'Course."
"It's a delicate matter. When you touch my hand I cannot help but catch glimpses into your mind and a man features most prominently. Is it Gambit?"
Rogue hung her head almost guiltily. She had wanted to keep her feelings private and the professor was the last person in the mansion she could've imagined talking to. Professor Xavier was like a father to them all – and you didn't talk to your father about this sort of thing. Kitty or Jean, maybe, but not the professor. "Yeah."
"I understand," the look he gave her was not one of pity but of sympathy. "Our feelings are what make us human, Rogue. You don't need to shy away from them."
"But…he was a time traveler," she murmured. "It wasn't exactly…normal."
"My dear, normal is not a word we use often here. Just because something is…unorthodox…does not discredit it. What you felt for Gambit was very real and genuine. Not everyone is so lucky."
"Lucky? He's gone forever. All ah have is a memory."
"It's a part of growing up, Rogue."
She sighed and nodded, realising that he was speaking the truth. She felt a rush of affection for the professor. "Thanks, professor."
"Now, would you like to try again?" He held out his hand. "And this time, try to focus on what we discussed before. Try and remember Destiny's prophecy."
Slowly but surely the private lessons began to work. She could now touch another person for five whole minutes without feeling the sinking feeling of absorption. She secretly rejoiced over every win and tried not to feel too hopeful in case it came to nothing.
That night she went for a walk around the grounds and sat in Storm's rose garden, which had thankfully survived the attack on the mansion. It was too late for flowers and so the stalks were bare but she could imagine the rose petals clearly enough. She breathed in the scent of grass and fresh air – but was shaken from her thoughts by a soft crunch. Immediately her senses were alert and she ducked, scanning the grounds for any trouble. She caught a flash of something from the corner of her eye and watched as a dark figure raced towards the security door. Within seconds it had quickly tapped in the security code and crawled inside. Rogue hesitated – it could have been Carol sneaking in – but her senses argued against it and her senses were usually right. It was way beyond curfew and only a pro could've danced around Logan's security systems. She decided to follow them. Once she was inside she dogged their footsteps, keeping back so that they wouldn't see her. Whoever it was was doing their best to avoid being seen and they were heading towards the sleeping quarters. The hallways were pitch black at this time of night and with a start she remembered that for tonight Logan had taken down the security defenses in order to install some new updates. Tonight was the perfect opportunity to sneak in, but how did the intruder know that? For security reasons Logan had only told her and Jean.
The figure reached their target room and slipped inside so quietly that Rogue almost missed it. She edged closer and listened…after a few seconds of silence she heard someone swearing.
"I've sworn t' take y' back, LeBeau."
"Take one more step, homme, an' it be y' last."
"Belle wants a word."
"I told y'. I ain't leavin'."
She heard a scuffle as furniture was knocked over. Clenching her jaw, she pulled open the door and saw a dazed Remy on the ground with blood trickling down his forehead. The intruder stood over him and lifted his Bo staff. He had his back to her. Rogue moved into the room and she calmly slid one arm around his neck while clamping a bare hand over his mouth to smother his scream. The man was taller than her but she managed to hold on as he thrashed and moaned. She felt his memories and strength pour into her and she closed her eyes until he fell still. Panting, she let go and wiped the hand on her jeans as though it were dirty. The Cajun looked up at her, his black and red eyes startled, and she tried to gather her thoughts.
"That's one nasty head wound. Wait here."
She came back with a little first aid kit from the kitchen and crouched down beside him. Shakily, she pulled her gloves back on and began to gently dab at the wound with a wet wipe. It looked worse than it was but it gave her something to do with her hands and she needed to do something to occupy her thoughts. Her head was swimming.
"What y' doin'?"
"Helpin' you. Want me to leave?" He shook his head and she continued, holding back his auburn hair with her spare hand. Once she had cleaned away the blood she rubbed some ointment on the wound and put a bandage on it. She moved to leave but his hand shot out and grabbed hold of her wrist.
"Why y' helpin' me?"
Rogue avoided his gaze and she bit her lip. "Ah saw his thoughts. Ah know everythin'."
She had seen into the man's memory. She'd seen Belladonna and Remy playing as children in the Bayou, seen them play fighting as teenagers, and finally kissing as adults. She had seen them standing at the altar, clad in white and black, and then the horrific fight that followed. She knew now why Remy never spoke about his marriage and felt bad about throwing it in his face.
Remy exhaled and he pushed himself up onto his feet. He seemed as embarrassed as her. "We should move him," he said awkwardly. "I'll take him down t' de cells."
She sat down on the edge of his bed while he dealt with the man and tried to sort her head out. While still standing at the altar Belladonna's brother had challenged Remy to a fight, believing that the Ripers and the Thief's Guild could never be real allies. Remy had panicked and ended up charging Julien with explosive results. He was thrown out by his own family, she realised. He genuinely loved her too.
When he came back she realised that he was shirtless and blushed, feeling foolish. She shouldn't be here.
"Ah'd better go," she said quietly and stood.
"Merci. For helpin'…" he added quickly. He ran a hand through his hair awkwardly and seemed to find the wall behind her very interesting.
Rogue nodded and left the room, although she paused briefly at the door. "Ah'm sorry. Ah shouldn't have spoken about your wife. It's none of mah business."
"We all got demons, Rogue," Remy replied. "Dis ain't gunna be de end, but I'd appreciate 't if y' kept quiet 'bout what y' learnt tonight."
"Ah will," she agreed. With anyone else she might've smiled but instead she ducked out of the room and hurried back to her own bedroom, her stomach firmly in knots. Once she was underneath the blankets of her bed she closed her eyes and tried to ignore the new memories.
Tonight has been one weird night.
The following morning she was called down to the cell block by Logan. He demanded that she tell him what happened and she groaned inwardly. Once she had told him everything he fixed her with mistrustful scowl. "You saved him? Why?"
"Thanks homme," Remy muttered under his breath.
Rogue ignored it. "Ah saw an intruder an' ah stopped him. Isn't that what you train us for?"
"Don't get sarcastic with me, Stripes," Logan warned. "A dangerous man managed to break in last night and I want to know why. This is a matter of security."
"Claude came t' take me back t' New Orleans," Remy explained. "'T's personal."
"Who is he?"
"He works fo' my father, Jean-Luc."
"And is your father going to send more scum to fish you out?"
Remy flushed at that and he shrugged, unsure. "Mebbe, but I'll go an' sort 't out," he added when Logan opened his mouth to reply. "I'll go an' see dem. Y' won't have any more Cajun's sneakin' in."
Logan looked taken back but satisfied at this. "See that you do. I won't have any more students put at risk."
Remy nodded and turned on his heel to leave. Rogue watched him for a moment but then felt Logan's gaze on her. He raised his eyebrows expectantly and she snorted before going back upstairs. Remy's decision to leave had surprised her and she appreciated it, they had enough on their plate without a Cajun turf war, but she also felt a vague sense of…worry? Last night Remy had been beaten by one of those thugs – how could he hope to defend himself against more? She decided not to think on it and instead tried to preoccupy herself with Kitty and Kurt, although she felt relieved when she heard that Piotr and St. John were accompanying him.
She often hated her feelings.
They left the very next day and she was stuck with a tearful Kitty. She and Piotr had been dating for two months and in Kitty's words "were just perfect" for each other. Rogue found it hard to disagree; the gentle giant seemed to be everything Kitty could want in a man and in turn looked at the valley girl as though he couldn't believe his luck. Lance had muttered a few unkind things under his breath at the sight of them but didn't dare speak too loudly – Piotr stood a good two feet taller than him and could turn himself into metal, after all. Rogue might've felt jealous at the site of the lovebirds but Kitty's happiness was infective. Plus she didn't share a room with her anymore. Rogue and Kitty spent their time decorating the underground lair for Christmas, which was only three weeks away. The base was metallic and cold but Kitty was determined to make it look more comfortable. She plastered reefs and holly along the walls, hung mistletoe in a dozen doorways, and even put a Christmas tree in the rec room. On the top stood an intricate golden angel. Kurt asked her why she was making such an effort for the day when she was half-Jewish but Kitty only shrugged and said she just wanted to cheer people up. They spent Christmas Eve in the rec room watching some festive cartoon sipping eggnog and warm cider. Kitty and Jubilee even baked Christmas cookies and Jean and Beast made mince pies. The rec room was normally far too small to fit everybody in but tonight they all squeezed in on the couches and on bean bags. Rogue was squashed between Logan and Jean on one of the couches and laughed with everyone else at the cartoon. She felt happy here among her mutant family, and decided that Kitty had been right to do this. Of course they all missed their fallen classmates and had a toast to their memories but remembered to feel thankful for what they actually had.
There were not many presents as shopping at the mall was now dangerous but Rogue had ordered a few things off the internet. She gave Kitty a scarf, Kurt a new watch, and even a carton of fancy cigars for Logan. For the professor she bought a pair of fluffy slippers. Christmas Day was an enjoyable time and at the end of the evening she stumbled up through the security latch to get some fresh air, tipsy off mulled wine. Sitting by the latch was a smoking Logan and she perched down beside him.
"Penny for your thoughts, sugah?"
"Not on your life, Stripes."
Logan inhaled one of her cigars but made no reply. The latch behind them opened and Jean stepped out looking worried. She had a roll of tinsel tying up her hair.
"Could I speak to you, Logan?" she asked hesitantly. "Sorry for interrupting…"
"Nawh, it's fine. Logan's a bore anyway," Rogue shrugged, getting to her feet. She gave them a sleep wave before going inside and soon enough collapsed face first on her bed.
'Tiz the season.
A.N/ All I have are apologies. I'm not sure when a new update will come so I won't promise anything. I just hate seeing this story hanging here without an ending.