Disclaimer: I don't own Wolverine and the X-Men
Gun fire was blazing on around the two as they dashed under the table, hoping to avoid the shots aimed at them. Swearing under his breath in his mixed Cajun French and English, Gambit reached into his coat which was still being worn by Rogue and threw a few smoke bombs randomly into the air.
Sputtering a few coughs as the smoke filled her own lungs, Rogue felt herself being dragged out of the diner where they were having breakfast only minutes before. The people who had been shooting at them momentarily distracted, for how long she didn't know but hopefully long enough for them to escape.
"C'mon Cherie," Gambit yelled over the chaos as he continued to drag her down a few alleyways of the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana.
"What'd ah tell yah about callin meh that Cajun?" Rogue glowered darkly as she grudgingly let herself be dragged. It wasn't like she had much of a choice in the matter if the pair of handcuffs around not only her right hand but Gambit's left wrist was any indication.
"Sorry mon river rat, forgot for a second that you were special," He smoothly replied, sending her a wink without missing a beat.
"Uhh." Rogue let out a disgusted grunt as she rolled her eyes. "Who were those people anyway? They weren't after me for once."
"I know." came Gambit's only reply.
Sighing dejectedly Rogue, not for the first time that day let alone that hour, cursed her life and the person she blamed for all this, Kitty Pyrde. If only she hadn't listened to the brunette and told Logan sooner. Maybe things would've turned out different for her.
Rogue was glad she had made up with Logan and the rest of the X-Men. Even though she had been at odds with him during her time with the Brotherhood, it had hurt the way he looked at her. Speaking or rather thinking of the Brotherhood, truth be told, she did kind of miss Domino. Unlike the others here at the mansion excluding Logan, she had never been afraid of what she could do with a mere touch. She was also one of the only ones she could actually talk to. It sucked that the only other person who hadn't feared her now hated her guts.
Even life before the mansion had exploded, she had was always been a loner. Always going from home to home when she was younger, never having anybody she could really connect with. Nothing had really changed since then. Kitty and Bobby always hung out together and Kurt constantly divided his time with the X-Men and on Genosha with the Scarlet Witch. And who knows what happened to the others.
There was really no one her age that she could hang out with.
Rogue let out a low sigh as she reluctantly continued to follow Kitty through the mall. Logan had ordered that no one was to leave the mansion on their own and since she had been the only one there at the time, Kitty had somehow managed to convince her to tag along. It was more awkward than anything really.
"C'mon on Rogue, there's a sale going on and I still need to find something to wear tonight," Kitty stressed, stomping her foot impatiently.
"Kitty do you really think Piotr will care if you're wearing something new let alone know. He hasn't seen you in over a year." Rogue rolled her eyes in turn.
"You're such a kill joy," Kitty retorted as she stuck her tongue out at the southern born mutant.
"Real mature Kit-Kat." Rogue responded, before adding in a less confident tone,
"Yeah, what is it Rogue," She replied sounding offhandedly, hiding the anxiousness she felt at the sudden change of tone.
"Do you have the feeling that someone may be watchin us?"
"No why?" Rogue shrugged in response.
"Ah just got this feeling is all."
"You're just being paranoid Rogue. It's probably all in your head anyways. Now come on already. I'm missing the sale," Kitty complained, waving off her companion's concerns.
"Hey, how about we just split up? Ah'll meet you in the food court in an hour before Bobby comes and picks us up," Rogue suggested, not sure how much longer she could stand in the younger girl's company.
"But Logan said we gotta stick together."
"It's just for an hour. 'Sides, we both have our cell phones not to mention our communicators and ah'm only gonna be at Borders," Rogue pointed out.
"I still…" She managed to get out before Rogue abruptly interrupted, "Do you really want me to tag along, complaining the whole time?"
"You'll be at Borders, right?" Kitty checked with Rogue, her attitude doing a quick one-eighty.
Smiling faintly at her small victory, Rogue made her way to the book store only a few shops down from the one she had just been at with Kitty. Half-way there, she came to a sudden stop. Someone was following her again.
She was sure of it.
Picking up her pace, she hastily ducked into the nearest clothing store. Grabbing a random piece of clothing so as to not look suspicious, she headed into one of the changing rooms with a good view of the whole store. Peeking over the top of the door, Rogue only saw a few shoppers and employees; nothing out of the ordinary.
Dejected, she wondered if Kitty had been right. Maybe she was just being paranoid. Exiting the small changing room she caught sight of Toad from the corner of her eye near the last changing room, the one kept mainly out of sight.
Maybe she wasn't as paranoid as she thought.
Wary of him, she slowly began to sneak up on him. Before he even knew she was there, Rogue had an uncovered hand on his forehead. He was down in seconds.
Flashes of images began to appear before her eyes as Toad's psyche made himself known to the others still within her head. Disoriented, she slumped against the wall, attempting to organize her thoughts. Absorbing others had never gotten any easier to handle. Some days she managed, others were just stressful. Surprisingly though, it was easier in battle to handle the psyches. It probably had to do with the adrenaline rush or the fact that fighting came as an instinct and was not something she needed to stop and think about.
Shaking her head, Rogue mulled over the information she had just absorbed from Toad. Turned out Toad hadn't been following her, he hadn't even known she was there. He was just keeping a look out as he had been ordered by Pietro, who was after a few unwilling new recruits. Paging Kitty, Rogue immediately began to take off to the parking lot where they had cornered the mutants.
"What is it Rogue? We just split up."
"Trouble. The Brotherhood's here and they're in the east parking lot after a few other mutants. Call Logan and meet me there," Rogue responded before cutting the link.
Avalanche and Domino was nowhere to be seen of the original Brotherhood members. That would've been comforting news seeing as how they were two of the more competent members, if it hadn't been for Senyaka and Mellencamp. Mellencamp she could handle easily. Senyaka on the other hand was a completely different story. She'd never gone up him personally but Logan had warned her of how sadistic he could be. He was definitely no pushover like Toad.
The four of them were surrounding three others. A tall blond about her age was standing protectively in front of two girls about Tildie's age. One had blond hair like the boy standing in front of them and the other girl had butterfly wings with bright pink hair.
"Rogue," Kitty's voice could be heard from the small speaker of her communicator.
Hastily Rogue answered in a hushed voice, hoping that they hadn't heard. Kitty's voice had an annoying knack of carrying. "What?"
Kitty replied back in a tone similar to Rogue's. She wasn't as airheaded as she appeared sometimes, "Good news, Logan's on his way. Bad news is Pyro and Avalanche are in the mall causing havoc."
"Can you handle it Kitty?"
"Yeah, luckily Bobby got here early for once. What about you?"
"Don't worry about me," Rogue answered before shutting off her communicator. Focusing her attention back to the scene before her, she contemplated her decisions. Her best bet would to take Pietro out first. With his speed she could easily overcome Senyaka, and then the Blob and Mellencamp would be even easy pickings like Toad had.
Rogue started to take her gloves off as Pietro approached the blond boy.
"Join us," He spoke, "It's a tough world out there. There's only one way if our race is going to survive. Join us or be destroyed."
"By who, them or you," The blond bit back. There was an accent to his voice, one that reminded her of her old home.
Rogue snorted. They should definitely let Domino stick with the recruiting.
Realizing that they were distracted Rogue decided to act. Only to be cut short by one of Senyaka's whips wrapping itself on her outstretched arm. She let out a surprised yelp in pain.
"Well, well, well if it isn't the little traitorous X-Man," Pietro snidely taunted, now directly in front of Rogue.
She responded by spitting in his face. Outraged, Pietro made to backhand her but stopped himself at the last moment. He wasn't wearing his gloves and he wasn't going to risk her getting the chance to absorb him. Magneto would kill him is she interfered in anymore plans.
"Still the little spitfire, eh Rogue," Pietro continued to mock as he leered down at her, his eyes raking her down her body. "Too bad you're untouchable."
"Get away from her," The blond shouted, preparing to attack.
Though her arm was in agonizing pain, Rogue managed to grunt out, "Don't worry about me. Daddy's lil' disappointment here ain't got the balls to do anything. If it were his sisters, then ah'd be worried."
That struck a nerve. Rogue had known before she even said it how he'd take it. Pietro slapped her and as his ungloved hand made contact with her face, Pietro's energy was instantly drained. Smirking she turned the tide on Senyaka as she bore the brunt of the pain pulling on his whip before running circles around him entangling him with his own weapon. Pietro's powers were already starting to fade by the time she finished with him. Hastily she touched his bare arm and knocked him out.
Rogue was still a bit disoriented from the draining, so when she turned around and saw Mellencamp and Blob lunging at her she braced herself and closed her eyes. She missed how the girl with pink hair suddenly transported her out of the way. Moments later the two Brotherhood mutants crashed and knocked each other out.
"Wow, ah guess y'all didn't need my help after all," Rogue remarked as she looked to each of their faces.
"Did you see that, I actually got it right," The pink hair girl gloated happily. At her words, Rogue raised a skeptical eyebrow.
"Who are you," the blond girl asked with a bit of wonderment in her voice though she still kept her guard up unlike her friend.
"Ah'm an X-Man," Rogue casually answered, weary about telling them anymore. Sure she had come to their defense against the Brotherhood, but there had to be a reason why Pietro wanted them in the first place. Though she deemed it safe enough for her to slip her black, biker gloves back on.
Instantly the girl with wings let out a shriek as she fluttered closer to Rogue. "You're an X-Man. Then you must know Kurt. I haven't seen him in a while. How is he? Is he doing alright? Is he here?"
Put off by her bubbly behavior, Rogue was saved from answering by the other girl. "Down Pixie, she doesn't even know who we are."
"Oops, sorry. My name's Megan though you can call me Pixie, for obvious reason." She indicated to her brightly multi colored wings.
"I'm Paige Guthrie and this is my older brother Sam," Paige then introduced, pushing her brother forward who shyly, offered his hand in greeting.
Rogue hesitantly shook it. "Ah'm Rogue and lahke ah said earlier ah'm with the X-Men. Thanks for savin me back there. Ah shoulda kept a closer eye on them there. Ah forgot Blob can jump pretty high, even with his weight."
Blushing, Sam sheepishly replied, "Ah'm the one who should be thanking you. Ah don't wanna know what would've happened if you hadn't showed up."
"Why were they after y'all anyways?"
"It was me they were mainly after," Pixie guiltily stated, suddenly finding her feet very interesting.
"Aww, it wasn't you fault Pix." Paige wrapped a comforting arm around her shoulder. "Not your fault they wanted a teleporter."
At those words, Rogue's head began to spin. Earlier she had managed to successfully block Pietro's psyche. Now that she had relaxed, he had made his presence known, rather painfully. It was almost as if he was attempting to take control which she wouldn't doubt he was trying to do. It had been a while since that had happened and she wasn't going to let it happen now.
Ignoring the worried words and looks from the others, Rogue mentally struggled with Pietro, then Senyaka. There was something they were trying to hide and she needed to find out. She faintly remembered hearing Logan's voice before passing out.
Rogue hated the medical bay. It always brought bad memories just being around the room. She had managed to avoid going near it whenever she could and Hank was always understanding about her fear. He would always clean up any injuries she had in her room along with having her checkups there.
So when she woke up there she was far from happy. She was no longer in the clothes she had been wearing when she fought against Pietro but the clothes Hank kept around for those who were in the medical bay for longer than a day. Her right forearm was wrapped heavily in bandages from her wrist to her elbow.
No one was around and the lights were off, so it was probably nighttime she assumed. Hopping out of bed, Rogue made a break for it. Logan could always yell at her later, preferably in her own room. Barely inches from the bed, Logan's voice bellowed from behind her.
"Not another step kid."
"Get back in that bed and wait until Hank officially releases you," He ordered, flipping on the lights.
"C'mon Logan, you know better than anybody how much ah hate it down here," She pleaded, turning to face the older mutant.
"Time to get over your fear Stripes," Logan grunted, before adding in a softer tone, "Remember, you're safe in the mansion. I'm not going to let anything happen to you kid."
Grumbling, Rogue did as she was told. She was still too tired to argue with him. And now that she was awake, she could feel her arm beginning to throb.
"Now tell me why you haven't told anybody about the trouble with your powers," Logan demanded, folding his arms across his chest, the universal sign that he was not about to back down.
Rogue was anything if not stubborn though.
"Cut the crap kid. You've been out for days. Luckily Jean was able to sort through your psyches and learn the Brotherhood's latest scheme not to mention strengthen your mental shields," Logan shot back, now glaring at the bed ridden mutant.
"She was in my head," Rogue screeched, outraged. She hated it whenever telepaths entered her mind. She had enough voices already.
"Only to strengthen your shields, she didn't look at any of your personal thoughts," Logan guaranteed in an attempt to soothe the younger mutant, "Now don't change the subject. What's the deal with you powers?"
Sighing, Rogue slumped against the pillow as she caved, again. Logan meant well in spite of everything and his gruff and demanding attitude was just his way of showing he cared. "Ah don't really know what's going on. Some days it feels as if my head is just getting too full and ah find it hard to think straight. And ah know how this sounds, but it feels as if there's something missing."
"Missing," Logan repeated in a whisper, knowing all too well how that felt, "Anything else Stripes?"
Rogue was tempted in telling him about her suspicions of someone stalking her but decided against it. Maybe Kitty was right after all she had no proof. And it could just be her mind playing tricks on her.
"Naw, that's it Logan. But what about the others Sam, Paige and Megan, how are they doing?"
"Oh yeah, they've been asking about you. They're all staying here now. Tildie's been real excited about that."
"This place is starting to be like it used to be." Rogue wistfully commented.
"Yeah well, I'll go tell Hank you're up. That burn you got from Senyaka wasn't as bad as it looked but it's gonna be a while 'til it heals," Logan stated, already heading out of the room.
"Oh come on Logan, just one little touch. You've let me do it before."
"Sorry kid but Jean and Hank both agree that it'd be best if you let it heal naturally and not absorb anyone for a while," Logan replied. About to leave, he suddenly remembered something Bobby wanted him to ask, "Hey Rogue, some of Ice-cube's things have been disappearing, know anything about it?"
"Naw, but it's probably just Kurt playin a trick on him."
"Damn it, damn it, damn it!" Pietro angrily cursed, banging his fists down on the table before him. They had just gotten back from their latest defeat at the hands of the X-Men.
"First the recruits now this, Magneto sure ain't gonna be too happy about this eh mate," Pyro offhandedly commented as he idly played with his lighter.
"Don't you think I know that," Pietro heatedly retorted. "If it weren't for that bitch of a mutant vampire this would've worked."
"She sure showed you guys again. Magento's still pissed about the first time she got in the way of you guys," Pyro mockingly laughed, adding to Pietro's anger.
"Man you shoulda heard him go off when he found out she botched things up for ya."
"Senyaka," Pietro spoke, his tone indicating to the silent order hidden in that one word.
Smirking, Senyaka wrapped a whip around Pyro's neck.
"Rogue needs to be taken care of once and for all. But with her and Logan's relationship, it's not going to be easy getting to her," Pietro declared, completely ignoring the choking pyromaniac.
"I think I know someone who can help you out." Domino smirked, brandishing her gun threateningly.