Rogue placed her hands around him, one at the base of his neck, the other at the back of his helmet and pulled him close. She lifted her head, her lips meeting his. It only took a second of kissing before the draining began. She held on, his body growing slack beneath her, as his thoughts, memories and powers flowed into her.
She opened her eyes and pulled away, finally letting go. Avalanche collapsed at her feet as she lifted her hands to stop the tremors he'd started. Around her, Rogue's friends and fellow X-men were busy protecting the throngs of people. Pete was busy holding a wall in place while those inside the building scampered out. Bobby was making bridges over cracked pavement and filling holes with ice. Kitty and Jubilee were running around, trying to escort everyone to safety. Gambit, although technically not an X-men, but decided to come along for the ride, was also doing his part.
Half an hour later, the road was cleared enough for the police to get through. There they found Avalanche all nicely trussed up for them. The X-men had long gone.
"So Rogue," Kitty said conversationally once the Blackbird had re-entered the skies. "Is it really necessary to kiss everyone to absorb them?"
"Necessary? No," Rogue replied cheerfully. "Fun? Absolutely!"
"I'm just waiting for the day we go up against a female opponent," Bobby said mischievously.
"This is what I'm saying here, Rogue. It's -" Kitty began.
"Hot," Bobby interjected.
"Oh... why don't you just start dating her again, Bobby?"
"I'm trying but she just won't say yes," Bobby joked melodramatically.
"There's a reason for that," Rogue nodded.
"Oui, Rogue is far too much o' a lady to date yo' when she only be t'inking o' me instead," Gambit grinned.
"You're so full of it, swamp rat."
"It's okay chérie, yo' can admit it."
Rogue considered for a second, then grinned and said:
"Sure Ah can. Why, when Ah was kissin' Avalanche today, Ah was really wishin' he was you."
"See? I knew it. "
"Wasn't a very good kiss, mind ya," Rogue went on with a twinkle of amusement in her eyes. "Ya went all limp on me after only a second."
Logan was there when the Blackbird arrived in the hanger and watched as the ramp lowered. The Professor was with him. Now that was weird. That whole story about being alive still because he'd transferred his mind to the body of his identical twin brother whose mind he'd ravaged when they were in the womb striked him as being something you'd find in a soap opera. Or maybe a comic book. So convenient. That said, he was glad to see the Professor alive and well, although he did wish it had been Jean with the identical twin.
"Logan!" Rogue exclaimed, spotting him.
She ran down the last of the stairs and over to him, hugging him tightly.
"Hey kid," he greeted.
"You're back. Stayin' for long?"
"Hey Logan," Bobby waved.
Logan looked up and noted the crew. Bobby, Jubilee, Pete, Kitty and someone who looked vaguely familiar...
"Mon dieu, Logan," Gambit said, staring at him. "Yo' haven't changed a bit."
Logan pointed a finger at him.
"I know you, don't I?"
"You needed directions t' Stryker's compound, and as I was the only one - at the time anyway - to have escaped, yo' came lookin' for me. So I go t' all the trouble of flying yo' over so yo' can hand Stryker and Victor's butts to them, and what happens? Mass destruction and yo' not remembering a t'ing yo' did t' cause it. Yo' probably know me as the first person yo' saw when yo' lost your memory. Thanks fo' not killing me, by the way."
"I'm sure you're welcome."
"This is Gambit, or Remy LeBeau," she said.
"No uniform?" Logan observed.
"I'm not an X-man, mon ami," Gambit shrugged.
"The uniforms need work anyway," Logan dismissed and turned back to Rogue. "So, Marie? Or is it Rogue again now?"
"Rogue, and Ah'm sticking with Rogue too," she replied. "Marie D'Ancanto is a powerless girl with a human family that loves her. She doesn't exist any more."
"I'm guessing you tried reconciling with the family after all?"
"Father-dear barely spoke a word to me. Mama spent the whole time trying to be relaxed and happy that her daughter was back home, even though she was anything but. Then Ah found out about the Cure wearin' off..." Rogue shrugged. "Left before they could disown me again."
"The Professor was saying your powers were back."
"And back ta full force at that. The first few times, why Ah even managed ta avoid puttin' folks inta lengthy comas. So novel."
"Hey Logan," said Kitty. "Maybe you can talk some sense into her, and get her to stop kissing her opponents during battles to absorb them."
"Aww, c'mon," Rogue pulled a face. "It saves havin' ta take muh gloves off."
"Whatever works," Logan shrugged.
"Oh! You're just as bad as them," Kitty declared pointing at Bobby, Gambit and Pete.
"I'm telling you, female opponents," Bobby nodded.
Rogue rolled her eyes.
"In a fight, you use whatever advantage you can get," Logan observed. "But I'd suggest that if you ever do decide to absorb a female opponent, you don't kiss her. It might distract your boyfriend here from what he's supposed to be doing."
Kitty laughed at the downcast expression on Bobby's face.
"Oh, Bobby and Ah aren't datin' any more," Rogue corrected. "In fact, Ah'm just not datin', period."
Logan nodded slowly.
"Fair enough, kid."
Pete sighed as Gambit collected the poker chips.
"So glad we're not playing for real money here," he said. "We'd all be broke and then some."
Gambit chuckled while Kitty shuffled the cards for the next hand.
"Rogue, can't you absorb him and get his poker skills or something?" asked Bobby.
"Well, Ah could, but they wouldn't necessarily last very long, and Ah'll probably end up with graphic memories of last night's hot date for muh trouble. Some things Ah just don't need ta see."
"Besides," Gambit put in. "All my memories be from my perspective. Now the person Rogue should really absorb for details of last night is the femme I was with, no?"
"Ah repeat, some things Ah just don't need ta see."
Kitty began to deal the cards, shaking her head in disgust.
"Got room for another player?" Logan asked, joining the table.
"Here, you can have my seat, Logan," Pete said standing up. "I've had enough of losing for one night."
Farewells and greetings were said as Pete left the table and Logan joined it. Gambit tossed over some of his chips.
"Can't have yo' starting the game at too much o' a disadvantage, mon ami."
Were it not for the fact that Pete's supply of remaining chips was so pathetically small, Logan might have waved the chips away. But it was, and this only a friendly game anyway. So he grunted instead, and picked up his cards after Kitty finished dealing.
"Since when do you kids play poker anyway?" Logan asked.
"Oh about two days after Gambit arrived," said Bobby.
"Ya were lucky," Rogue nodded. "He didn't even last twenty-four hours before ropin' me inta a game."
"Yo' enjoyed it," Gambit grinned at her. "And speaking o' hot dates, chérie, how say, yo', me t'morrow night? I'm t'inking, dinner at dis nice French restaurant downtown."
Rogue shrugged as she threw in her chips and selected the cards she wanted to trade.
"Yeah, sure, why not?"
"I thought you said you weren't dating?" Logan asked.
"Well, not romantically datin' anyway. We'd just be going as friends."
"Very close friends," Gambit said, winking at her. "And I'm t'inking mebbe afterwards we'd go for dat moonlight swim, no?"
"You're just not gonna give up on that, are ya, swamp rat?"
"You're the one who said 'mebbe' chérie."
"More fool me."
Gambit chuckled and Rogue poked her tongue out at him.
"I can t'ink o' much better uses for dat tongue."
"Yeah, so can Ah," Rogue replied batting her eyelids at him. "But they all involve ya endin' up in a coma."
"Dunno chére, mebbe it'll be worth it."
"Oh hell, would you two stop flirting already?" Kitty said in exasperation.
"Sexual tension," Bobby nodded.
"Well, you'd know all about that, wouldn't ya, Bobby?" Rogue said cynically, giving him a dark look.
"That's how I know the signs so well."
"I just don't even want to go there," Kitty said. "Okay, I know you think I'm crazy, but I have this thing about large age differences. It's creepy."
"If Ah ever get control over muh power, Ah don't think Ah'll care how old he is."
"Really? What if he was like -" Bobby began, and cut himself off when he saw the look on her face. "Uhh... umm... a member of the Brotherhood. Yeah that's what I was going to say."
"Which begs the question, if the only person you could have a physical relationship with was a member of the Brotherhood, who would you rather be with?"
"Ya have some serious issues, Bobby."
"It's your own fault for kissing Avalanche today," Kitty informed her. "He's been like this ever since."
"Really? Ah hadn't noticed," Rogue said dryly. "Ah think ya right about the whole distraction thing, Logan."
Logan snickered as he put in his bet.
"C'mon Rogue, inquiring minds want to know," Bobby nodded. "Mystique, right?"
"Would you get off the lesbian thing already? It's getting on muh nerves."
"But she could look like any guy you -"
"Bobby, Ah don't know where ya acquired this creepy streak of yours, but Ah really think ya should return it. Besides, didn't Mystique quit?"
"Details, details. What about... Magneto?" Bobby pressed.
"Eww, he's like, worse than Gambit," Kitty said, turning up her nose. "He's like, old enough to be her grandfather."
Gambit shook his head in amusement.
"Yeah, Ah have Mags' memories and in addition to memories of the holocaust Ah also have ones of him havin' sex. From his perspective," Rogue nodded. "Now that's creepy."
"I wish you hadn't said that."
"I will. Bobby, shut up."
"What about Sabretooth? Would you do Sabretooth?"
"Ah thought we were here ta play poker, Bobby. Not give me the third degree," Rogue replied. "And no. Ah'm not attracted ta Sabretooth in the slightest. Besides, he'd probably play too rough for me."
"Ice, give it a rest already," Logan said.
"Pyro. You'd do Pyro, right?" Bobby asked, ignoring Logan.
"Bobby, sweetie, Ah also have memories of John jacking off in the bathroom to dirty magazines and oh wait... you did that too didn't ya?" Rogue considered. "Either way, major turn off."
Logan and Gambit snickered while Kitty turned up her nose in disgust and Bobby started seeing red.
"Okay, bad visual. Bad visual. Hey is that why you never slept together after you got the Cure?" Kitty asked.
"Ah didn't sleep with him, because a, Ah thought it was permanent, and b, Ah'm not so desperate for sex that Ah would just jump inta bed with anyone first chance Ah get."
"Aww, I'm 'anyone' now am I?" Bobby complained.
"Yes, yes you are," Rogue said, putting in her bet.
"When did that happen?"
"Roughly about the same time Ah dumped ya."
"Ah ha! But that was after you got the Cure, so therefore I wasn't 'anyone' yet," Bobby nodded.
Rogue caught his eyes with an unimpressed expression on her face. Bobby was grinning at her right up until he saw the delighted smirk grow on her face.
"Ah think... if Ah could only have a physical relationship with a member of the Brotherhood, Ah'd pick... Toad."
"Toad?" Logan and Gambit repeated the same time Bobby said "What?" and Kitty said "Eww!"
"Yeah," Rogue said, putting on a wistful tone. "Ah mean, Ah know he's totally gross, and he'd got bad heart problems ever since Storm fried him, so he's probably got lousy stamina. But he does have this really long tongue..."
Bobby face took on an expression of horror, Logan snickered and Gambit cracked up laughing.
"That's so gross!" Kitty exclaimed. "Get out of my head. Bad pictures. Bad pictures."
"Oh, Ah have those all the time," Rogue grinned at her.
"Shut up, Rogue. Bobby, I hate you."
Gambit leaned over, grinning and ran his finger down Rogue's sleeve.
"So, you like long things huh, chérie?"
"Gambit!" Kitty freaked out, clamping her hands over her ears.
"I can see the conversation has really descended since I was last here," Logan commented.
"Naw, it's always been this bad. You just didn't normally hang out with us," Bobby nodded.
They revealed their cards for that hand and Kitty cheered in delight when she realised her full house had won.
"I won one! I'm shocked," she giggled as she retrieved her 'winnings'.
Rogue collected the cards and began shuffling.
"So, Gambit. Storm was telling me you've taken over defence training here," Logan said.
"Well, with three teachers down, Stormy really needed the help," Gambit nodded.
"And we all know about you and damsels in distress," Rogue teased.
"It usually gets good results," he said, grinning at her.
Rogue chuckled and began to deal the cards.
"Oh really?" Logan inquired.
"Dat's how I met Roguey. First I rescue her from her own misery -"
"Den from a bunch of thugs."
Rogue rolled her eyes.
"Den from sleeping in an alleyway somewhere."
"Ah was not going ta -"
"It was a busy night," Gambit finished as if she didn't say anything at all.
"Yeah well, at least Ah didn't get us kidnapped, robbed and involved in a gun fight on the highway."
"What's this?" asked Bobby, intrigued.
"Let's just say it involved switchin' drivers on a motorcycle goin' 70 miles an hour, whilst getting shot at by an on comin' car."
"We lived, no innocent bystanders got hurt," Gambit began.
"That we know about," Rogue interjected.
"And afterward I got t' enjoy the evening with a beautiful woman, so I'd say it was a good day."
"Really? What did you do while Gambit was on his hot date, Rogue?" Bobby joked.
"Ah pulled out your psyche and started lookin' for things ta blackmail ya with," Rogue deadpanned.
"Okay I'll be quiet now."
"Is that your bike in the garage then?" Logan asked.
"Oui. O' course, Rogue said that yo' ride too?"
"Yep. And apparently you upgraded the security system?"
Gambit grinned at him as he tossed in his bet and exchanged a couple of cards.
"Had t'. The existing system was pathetic. I coulda got in, robbed yo' blind and made it out again dis side o' midnight."
"Takes a thief to catch a thief, eh, bub?"
"Yo' should see what I can do wit' a paper clip and a piece o' gum."