AN: Yes, I am a bad wrier, this has taken forever. I could give you loads of excuses but I won't, I'll simply say sorry and hope you enjoy the final instalment.
Rogue stumbled and cried out as her mind was invaded with images of Remy.
Logan managed to catch her before she hit the floor. "Kid?" The others stopped and turned back to them.
Rogue put her hands to her temples and tried to block the mental invasion. She was seeing Essex's laboratory from Mina's perspective, seeing Remy being tortured.
"You have to hurry. Leave me. Go, quick."
Logan hesitated, he didn't want to leave her while she was in pain.
"Please," she begged. "I can see what he's doing to him."
Logan nodded and set her gently on the ground. "You heard the lady," he told the others. "Get movin'."
Professor Xavier had taught Rogue to create rooms in her mind where she could store the psyches of people she had touched and she used the same technique on this new mental invader. She had limited success but it enabled her to struggle to her feet and stumble slowly after the others.
She made slow progress until, in her mind, she saw the X-Men crash through the wall into the laboratory and suddenly the mental invasion stopped. The psychic's concentration must have been broken.
She broke into a run but by the time she reached the warehouse where Essex carried out his experiments the fight was in full swing. Logan and Storm were tag teaming Essex while Bobby and Peter freed the prisoners.
Rogue raised her hand and the metal doors to the cages flew off. She went to Remy's cage and helped him out. He looked shocked to see her.
Rogue didn't know what to say to him so she simply helped him make his way outside.
Bobby and Peter joined them with the other mutants and they all waited there, listening to the battle rage inside.
Rogue realised she didn't even know what Essex's powers were and was about to go back inside to help when everything suddenly fell silent.
Storm was the first out, looking battered but pleased. "We locked him in one of his own cells. We'll call the authorities to deal with him."
"What will they do with him?" One of the male mutants asked.
"That depends on how much evidence is in there and whether or not you want to testify against him." Storm explained.
"He taped everything," Mina said. "They've got plenty of evidence without us."
Storm nodded. "Okay then. Let's get you back to the school where we can check you over."
Remy and Rogue didn't follow and Storm turned back to them.
"We need some time," Rogue said.
Storm nodded. "Call when you're ready to come home, I'll send the jet."
Rogue nodded. "Thanks."
They slowly made their way back to Remy's apartment and once inside Rogue hunted for medical supplies. She then sat Remy on the sofa and began to tend his burns. She didn't make eye contact.
She didn't answer. She didn't know what to say.
"I didn't think you were coming back."
"For a second there, neither did I," she said quietly.
"I wouldn't have blamed you if you hadn't. I'm sorry you had to find out like that, Rogue."
"I think I'm a good judge of people," she said. "I've made some weird calls, like trusting Logan when most people would have stayed clear, but I was right."
Remy watched her, wishing he could take her pain away.
"And everything I know about you says you wouldn't do those things. That you couldn't. But you didn't even try to deny it." Finally she looked into his eyes. "So I was either completely wrong about you or there's more to the story."
Remy nodded. "There's more."
He struggled to his feet and headed to the kitchen, returning moments later with a bottle of bourbon and two glasses. He poured them both a hefty measure and sat back down beside her.
"After I left New Orleans I travelled, stayed away from populated areas and tried to get some control over my power but it didn't work. Essex found me when I was sixteen, said he could help. By then I was willing to try anything. I offered to pay but he said he'd prefer that I owed him a favour. That if he called on me for help in the future, I was to help him. Seemed a harmless enough request."
He took a large gulp of his drink.
"I came back, rejoined the guild and discovered Bella was interested in me. A few years passed and nothing, then I fell foul of the weapon X project. By the time I escaped all thoughts of the favour I owed were virtually gone.
"Then when I was 22 he came to me, asked me to steal a gene sequencing machine. He offered to pay, didn't even mention the favour I owed. It was tricky but I managed it and didn't hear from him again for another few years. Bella and I married, life carried on.
"Then he asked me for information on other mutants. Said he was collecting DNA samples and trying to map the mutant genome. He offered me a finders fee for every mutant I told him about."
"Why didn't he take a sample from you?"
Remy tapped his skull reminding Rogue of the operation to remove a section of his brain. "I guess he already had his sample. He hadn't harmed me, it didn't occur to me that he would hurt anyone else. I was the one who stole the gene machine for him so it all added up." He drained his glass dry and topped it up.
"New Orleans is a fairly transient place, people come and go all the time, so I didn't notice anything was wrong. Then I discovered a colony of mutants. They were mostly disfigured by their mutation in some way and had formed a sort of secret group. They lived in the tunnels under the city. I told Essex about them. A few weeks later I heard that they'd been attacked. I went to the tunnels and found a survivor. She told me people had attacked them and dragged most of them away.
"I thought I was crazy to even think that Essex was behind it but I felt compelled to check up on some of the other names I gave him. I couldn't find most of them and that worried me. Finally I found two mutants I'd told Essex about and they both told stories of fighting off attackers, like the survivor from the tunnels."
Rogue closed her eyes in relief. He wasn't a killer.
"I confronted him and he laughed at me. I attacked him but he was too strong for me. He let me go, I guess he didn't see me as a threat. I didn't know what else to do. I even tried the police but they weren't really mutant friendly back then, they told me mutants could look after themselves. So I came home, tried to forget about it, carry on with life but I couldn't.
"Finally I confessed everything to Bella. She told me it didn't matter, that they were mostly homeless, useless, no big loss. But every time I closed my eyes I saw them. I knew what they'd been though because I went through it with Stryker.
"One day I couldn't take it any more. I told Bella and the thieves guild I was leaving. Jean Luc said if I did he would banish me from the guild but I was past caring. Bella begged me not to leave but I had to. Something just snapped in me. I've been running ever since. At first I went a little wild, taking crazy risks, like I wanted to get caught but gradually I learned to live with the guilt.
"And that's the whole story." Remy sighed. He couldn't bring himself to look at Rogue for fear that she would hate him as much as he hated himself.
Rogue was everything he wasn't, young, innocent, brave, loyal. When she looked at him he could see the man he could be reflected in her eyes and he never wanted to lose that.
"Oh, Remy, I'm so sorry." Rogue leaned into him and rested her head against his chest. Normally she should have her arms around him in order to comfort him but by taking the submissive position she was showing that she trusted him and that he hadn't been diminished in her eyes.
Remy held her tightly and kissed the top of her head. "You don't hate me?"
"I could never hate you."
The tension Remy had been feeling melted away and Rogue smiled a few minutes later as she heard him lightly snoring. He'd been though a lot today, most of it thanks to her, so she let him sleep and soon found her own eyes growing heavy as she joined him.
Rogue walked into the bar and spotted Bella Donna immediately. She smiled cruelly. Bella's face fell as she noticed Rogue. She hesitated for a moment before deciding that discretion was the better part of valour and turned to run.
Rogue called on Kurt's power and teleported in front of her. She couldn't control that gift over distances but in the same room she was fine. Bella skidded to a halt and turned back to the other exit. Remy was lounging against the door frame, smoking a cigarette and watching the action. It was obvious that Bella preferred facing him to Rogue.
Rogue used Bobby's power to turn the floor to ice, sending Bella sliding into Remy's feet thanks to the slick surface. The barman and few patrons crept towards the staff entrance behind the bar and out of danger.
Remy helped Bella to her feet then pushed her away. "She ain't done with you yet, chére."
Bella backed away from him, straight into Rogue, who she passed straight through, thanks to Kitty's power.
"Wha- what the hell are you?" Bella asked, clearly upset over Rogues multiple powers.
Rogue drew the small flame from Remy cigarette into the palm of her hand and grew it into a ball of flame which she passed hand to hand. Pyro's power could be really intimidating.
"What am I? I'll tell you what I'm not, and that's a murdering, lying, conniving bitch." The ball of flame began to grow.
"You deserve to die for what you tried to do to us," she said, walking towards Bella and backing her into the wall. "Lucky for you I'm also not a murdered. You get one warning." She threw the fire ball into the bar, setting it alight and exploding some of the alcohol bottles.
She looked Bella straight in the eyes. "I could kill you with a singe thought," she lied. "Next time I won't be so nice." She headed towards the door, drawing one finger over the jukebox as she passed it and using Remy's gift to charge it. A rock song she didn't recognise began playing, making Bella jump. Rogue smiled.
As she approached the door she put her arm around Remy's waist as he draped his around her shoulders and they turned to leave.
"Remy!" Bella called.
He turned back briefly. "Goodbye, chére. Have a nice life."
As they stepped out onto the brightly lit street, Remy sagged. The loving embrace wasn't just for fun, Remy was still badly hurt.
They had been to see Remy brother, Henri, that morning and made sure he was okay. Physically he was but a part of him thought that Jean Luc must have been in on the plan to kidnap him and he wasn't happy. Rogue had given him their cell phone numbers so he had options if he decided to leave the guild. Remy had decided not to visit his father.
"Don't matter if he was in on it or not, Rogue, he's already dead to me."
Rogue had smiled and let it go. Remy was too injured for her to argue with in good conscience.
"Come on, Sweetie," she now said, "let's get you home where Hank can patch you up."
"Home," the word sounded strange but welcoming. "That sounds like a good idea." He paused and looked down at her. "I love you, chére."
Rogue stood on her tip toes and kissed him. "I love you too."
The End (for real this time).