Street Livin' – Chapter 27
Remy slinked down the metallic corridor leading to Hank's lab almost silently. He naturally kept quiet while making his way there, though he knew he'd be detected before he reached the doorway. Even his ability to sneak just about anywhere was no match for Logan's nose.
Stupid dog-like senses, Remy internally scoffed. He was getting closer and closer, knowing it would only be a matter of time before he heard "Gumbo" muttered angrily from twenty feet away.
As he got nearer, Remy became more and more curious as he didn't hear a thing. He didn't even hear hushed voices.
He reached the lab door and saw Hank sitting at his computer alone. Remy focused on the blue mutant's profile and saw that Henry was in deep thought over what was on the screen. Remy watched as Hank clicked his mouse once, tapped a few keys with his deft paws on the keyboard, and then stopped to scribble something down on his notepad by the computer.
Remy watched him for another moment before taking another step into the lab. Hank still appeared completely engrossed in whatever had his attention on the screen.
"Ahem," Remy cleared his throat. He hated to bother Hank since he was obviously busy, but he was a mutant with a mission.
Hank instantly turned his head to his visitor but was not startled. He appreciated small interruptions in his work, knowing full well that he could get fully absorbed in anything he was researching. Jean usually came down to visit Hank and brush up on her genetics, but mostly she would visit only to tell Hank to go to bed – that he'd been cooped up down here much too long. It was very common of him to lose track of time in the windowless laboratory, especially when he'd made a breakthrough on whatever he happened to be studied.
"What can I get for you, Remy?" Hank asked, standing up and walking over to his mini refrigerator. He opened the door and retrieved a carton of orange juice. Remy peeked around the doctor and saw food items on the door of the fridge and Petri dishes organized among the shelves inside. Hank turned and saw Remy casting a glance. "Would you care for some?" He offered as he found his glass and reached for another.
"Non… merci," Remy replied, taking a few more steps into the room. "Did Logan come down here?"
"Why, yes." Hank's hand abandoned the extra glass. "You just missed him actually. If you're looking for him, I imagine you could catch him before he leaves."
Leaves? Remy thought, his eyebrows springing up. "Where's he goin'?"
Hank paused for a moment to pour his orange juice. He liked the super pulpy kind. Remy watched as the chunks of oranges plop out of the carton and into the glass.
"To Seattle," Hank answered shortly before taking a gulp of his juice. He topped off the glass once more and then replaced the carton back in the fridge.
"Seattle?" Logan mentioned Victor having worked out dere before. "What's he goin' dere for? Does it have t' do wit' Essex Technologies?"
Hank perked a dark blue eyebrow up. "It does indeed." He placed his glass a safe distance from his computer and reached for another chair close by. After sitting it near the computer, Hank took a seat in his original chair, motioning for Remy to sit down as well.
Remy obliged, his mind filling up more questions as he sat down. "Are dey connected t' what happened wit' Rogue's powers?"
"How did you find out about Essex Technologies?" Hank asked him instead, clicking back on his computer.
Choosing his words carefully, as he didn't want to reveal too much, Remy kept it simple. "Rogue remembered it from awhile ago – when she first met Victor."
Hank nodded, pushing his glasses up on his nose. He clicked a few things on the computer. A window disappeared while another popped up. Remy glanced to the clock in the corner of the screen and saw that it was almost 11:30. He didn't realize that much time had passed while they had been in the danger room. He stifled a yawn and turned his attention to what else was on the screen.
"What's dat?" Remy tilted his head and squinted his eyes at the image before him.
"This," Hank began, "is what Rogue's blood cells looked like after we returned to the institute that night."
"Are dey s'pose t' be doin' dat?" Remy pointed at the screen. The small pinkish blob pulsated unnaturally and looked as if they were glowing.
"No, it's not." Henry clicked again and brought up another image. "This is what a normal red blood cell looks like – well, what a normal mutant cell looks like," he corrected himself. "Hers have since returned to normal, thankfully, but I'm still curious of the after effects, naturally." He glanced down briefly to his notes. "You know what it is that makes us different, right Remy?"
He nodded. "De X-Factor. We're born wit' it in our DNA."
"Exactly." Then he smirked, letting his fangs show slightly. "You were paying attention in genetics class after all. But I know you're not here for extra credit so allow me to explain what I believe happened when Rogue was injected with Victor's serum." With another click, he brought up another image. Remy recognized it as a strand of DNA. "This is what Rogue's DNA was before the injection. See this –" Hank pointed the mouse at a part of the strand. "- Is where her particular X-Factor resides."
"Dat pink bit?"
"Yes, only it's not pink in actuality… This is just a model."
Remy smiled patiently. "Do I really seem t' not pay attention in y' class?"
"If you call that attentive, Remy, I'd say you'd have a decent shot in our drama program… that is, if we had one." Hank laughed at his own little joke.
"So what happened after de serum?"
Hank cleared his throat and brought himself back to the serious side of the conversation. He clicked again and the image came to life. The pink strand became fuzzy and bits of it broke away from the main strand of DNA. "It negated her powers by weakening the X-Factor in her DNA. I observed this immediately after you both were stabilized that evening. What I am still trying to understand is how this all caused her mental… explosion, forgive me for saying, of all the powers she'd accumulated over the years, seeing as how her powers were negated, then she had the alien powers, and then was back to nothing once more."
He clicked once more, bringing up yet another image. "However with that all said, this was her DNA upon leaving the infirmary earlier today before the party."
"It looks like it's back t' normal," observed Remy.
"I thought so as well, until I took a closer look." Hank enlarged the before and after shots. "It's faint, but you can see that her X-Factor strand is indeed thicker than before."
Remy compared the two with his eyes curiously for a moment before responding. "I don't get it. A strand of DNA is microscopic – how does de size of it make a difference?"
"It's more in the coding if anything," Hank explained. "Take a look at this, though." He brought up yet another image of a DNA strand and set it next to the post-serum DNA and enlarged them as he had with the previous two.
"Dey look exactly alike."
"That is because they basically are. I could elucidate the coding and say where the anomalies lie with a certain G here or a C there, but yes, the DNA's are almost identical."
"So whose DNA is dat?" Remy asked, pointing at the screen again.
"Her mother's." Henry removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose for a moment. "Now, I know what you're thinking. It is her mother and they do in fact have similar DNA to begin with, but every mutant has a unique X-Factor. It's rare to find a pair as close in structure as these two appear to be, even between blood relatives. As I'm not exactly sure what the serum's actual purpose was, save for negating the X-Factor, this is all hypothetical, but I believe that Rogue must have absorbed her mother just as the serum wore off."
A lump formed in Remy's throat. He knew Rogue wouldn't have mentioned it to anyone that she'd absorbed Raven before she died. He imagined that only Kurt, Logan and himself knew – at least that's what he'd thought up until ten seconds before.
Remy also knew that Rogue didn't want the other to know how exactly her powers had changed – but Hank had the genetic evidence right in from of them. Would he be betraying Rogue if he told Hank, if only to reaffirm the doctor's theory? It was in the best interest of Rogue that Remy tell Hank what he knew.
Hank noted Remy's change of mood – the younger mutant was trying to hide something. Hank knew how secretive Rogue and Remy were with each other – the whole institute knew. He'd get Remy to willingly open up though. Years of teaching introverted teens has taught me a thing or two, he thought with a smile. "Remy, remember when she absorbed Kurt hour ago? I overheard her saying that she thought she had her mother's powers."
Remy blinked. He'd somehow forgotten that Rogue had submitted to a quick exam after absorbing her brother – Hank already knew about the shapeshifting. Remy breathed out in relief. "Y' promise not t' tell a soul?"
"Doctor patient confidentiality, my friend."
"It's pretty obvious she absorbed her maman, right?" Hank nodded so Remy continued, his voice grave, "but she did it right as Raven died, actually."
"Fascinating…" Remy could tell Hank was fighting the urge to take notes. His paws twitched ever so slightly and his eyes jetted over to his notepad for a fraction of a moment, but he remained solemn and listened to what Remy had to say.
"So Raven is up dere wit' her." Remy tapped to his head.
"Up… in her mind?"
Remy nodded. "Maybe permanently. Rogue's a li'l reluctant t' tell anyone dis dough. She's afraid of bein' put down here again."
"Understandable. I wouldn't dream of doing anything against her wishes though."
"I know y' wouldn', Henri. Her trust is a bit shot after everyt'in' dat happened, dough." Not t' mention findin' out her mother had an afraid wit' one of her mentors, he mentally added. Xavier knew 'bout de affair, but dere's no tellin' who else might know.
Hank nodded, understanding completely. "I did not reveal anything to the Professor or the others about her examination. I'd assumed she would tell them when she was ready to disclose the information."
"Den we're on de same page?" Remy internally sighed with relief.
"Indeed we are. However, you confirming these details leads me to wonder…" Hank glanced back to the computer screen and his eyes squinted as thoughts processed through his mind.
"What is it?" Remy watched as Hank formulated a plan mentally. The doctor's eyes dance from the computer, to his notes, and back to the screen again.
"Now I'm not an expert in these dealings by any means because this is more likely to be hypothesized by a psychic, but perhaps when Rogue absorbed her mother, the invasion caused the subsequent eruption of all the powers… I believe that makes sense, does it not?"
"Add all of the events plus the emotional overload…"
Remy interrupted. "Y' promise not t' tell de professor? Not yet at least," he half pleaded. He hated talking about these matters without Rogue with him. He wanted to get her answers more than anything, but he wouldn't continue searching if it would cause her any strife with the other.
Hank almost looked insulted. "Remy, I wouldn't betray your, or Rogue's trust so carelessly. However going back to our previous topic… I do have one request." Hank peered over his notes again. Remy could see the cranks turning in the good doctor's brain. With a tentative nod from Remy, Hank continued. "With Rogue's permission, of course, I'd like to perform a test. I would've done it sooner but I wasn't aware of what I know now."
"'M not sure what y' mean, homme…"
"I'm vaguely familiar with shapeshifter DNA and would love the opportunity to study it further. Now while Rogue isn't entirely a conventional shapeshifter, I am curious to see how her DNA would react in an absorption scenario."
"Y' mean, compare her DNA t' de person she be absorbin'?"
"Yes. As I said though, I would only do it with her full consent."
Remy thought about it for a moment, weighing the options in his head. She would probably be angry at the thought of being used as a lab rat, but knew she had to find out what was happening with her mutation. Plus, the experiment sounded safe enough – Hank always handled everything with the utmost care, especially his patients. If he wasn't sure it could be handled safely, he wouldn't have suggested it. "I'll talk t' her in de mornin', see what she's up for."
"It's nothing that has to be done immediately. I think we can both agree that she deserves a couple days of complete normalcy without having to worry herself with this."
Remy chuckled. "Yeah, really. I t'ink she's earned a lifetime of it by now." Hank nodded gravely while he took a moment to take another sip of his orange juice while Remy glanced past the keyboard to Hank's notes. His eyebrows knit together as his red eyes drifted over the words "Essex Technologies." Talk about Rogue's mutation had almost made him forget his initial mission for the evening. "So where do dey come in?" He asked, nodding thoughtfully to Hank's notes.
Hank lowered his glass to the table once again and followed Remy's line of sight. "We've come to believe that Victor obtained the serum from them – whether it was given to him or he gained it in another way, we don't know."
"Why is Logan goin' t' Seattle?"
"Their headquarters are located there and Logan remembered the search for Victor ended in the city years ago. We connected details as they have appeared in recent unrelated research of mine."
"What's Logan goin' t' find out?"
"Anything he can. All the information I've found in news articles and web searches has been vague at best, unfortunately. It turns out that the corporation is very underground. We both hope that by going directly to the source we may get more answers."
"Dat seems like a good idea," Remy responded before suddenly yawning. It overtook him with a shudder before he could stifle it.
"Am I boring you, Remy?" Hank smiled warmly. "Wouldn't be the first time, I suppose..."
"Non! It's not dat at all. 'S been a long day, Henri."
"Oh, I know. You know how much fun I get out of picking on my students."
Remy stood up, smirking. "Had no idea, homme."
"Go get some sleep, Remy. If Jean happens to be looking for me, inform her I'll be up shortly. I'd hate for her to come down for me at this hour."
"Will do." Remy started for the exit. "Night, Henri."
Remy's feet touched the soft carpet landing of the upper levels a few minutes later. He yawned again as he turned in the direction of Rogue's room. Didn' realize how tired I really am…
Less than a minute later, he was standing by the foot of her bed, watching her sleep. He smiled, unzipping his hoodie and tossing it on top of Rogue's earlier discarded clothes. He turned away from her for a moment to retrieve her sleeping bag from her closet.
As he unrolled it on the floor by her bed, he suddenly felt an unwanted nostalgia for the streets, and how even sleeping on the floor at Xavier's was a luxury to the cold floor of where ever he'd been spending the night then. It almost amused him how thoughts of homelessness occurred to him at the most random moments – rolling out the sleeping bag, having a wide selection of clothing to choose from for any particular day, not worrying about filling his stomach up with warm food. The feeling would strike him without warning and he would dwell on it for a moment before shoving it to the back of his mind. The spontaneous thoughts always made him feel more grateful for the chances he'd been given and for having the family that he had now.
With a content smile, he reached onto Rogue's bed for an extra pillow. The girl must have had five pillows on her bed at any given time, but only settled on two at the most when she drifted off to sleep. He slid the pillow off her bed carefully so as not to disturb her even though her head was no where near the particular pillow and dropped it onto the sleeping bag.
He turned to her once more, sitting down lightly on the edge of the bed. There was something so innocent about her sleeping form. She always curled up on her side with her hands tucked underneath her head on her pillow. Her hair delicately framed her face, giving it an ethereal glow in the moonlight due to the white strands. Her lips seem to always curl into the faintest of smiles whilst dreaming, unless she was having a nightmare.
Remy peered at her, curious if she was dreaming about her mother again like she'd admitted before. He listened to hear if she'd let it slip again unconsciously as she had earlier that evening in front of the fire. Upon hearing nothing, he smiled, hoping she was dreaming about something other than the events of the day. Casting a final glance over her, he lay down and settled into his makeshift bed on the floor. He twisted around for a minute or so before relaxing into the sleeping bag and pillow. His eyes drooped shut once more and he fell into a dreamless but content sleep.
"How long did it go on foh, Momma?"
"What do you mean?" Raven leaned back in her chair by the fire. The smell of pine permeated through the room as the fire roared on. Rogue sat by the flames, her cheeks pink with the heat.
"Ah know it didn't end after that weekend." Her eyes didn't leave her mother's for an instant. The fire flickered in her green eyes, flashing them gold, much like her mother's natural eye color.
Raven stared unblinkingly at her daughter. "How did you know?"
"Logan wouldn't have been so crushed when ya died if it had been over almost ten years ago. The way ya're starin' at me isn't helpin' yoah case either."
"I don't know how to explain this…"
"Victor knew about it too, didn't he." Her voice came out as a cold whisper and Raven knew Rogue wasn't asking by any means. "Ya let it go on. Ah wanna know for how long."
Raven broke eye contact with Rogue finally to stare down at her hands. Her daughter's soul searching glare reached out under the blazing fire, feeling cold against her blue skin. She could only imagine Rogue had learned the stare from her after so many years of watching her glare at Victor with such a vicious loathing.
"The last time I saw him was about six months before Victor kidnapped us," Raven admitted softly. "I hadn't seen him for almost a year before that as I went into hiding from Victor."
"Victor knew 'bout it too, though," Rogue repeated, her tone unchanging. "When did he find out?"
Her mother sighed. "After Victor and I got married, Logan showed up at the house. Vic was busy making preparations with your things in his house…"
Carefully, she gathered the stack of plates from the cabinet and placed them in the bubble wrap-lined box beside her on the counter. The radio played a gentle soft rock tune and Raven hummed along, bouncing her head to the rhythm. She smiled to herself, feeling a sense of security wash over her as she situated the flatware in the box. She had a family once again – something that she knew was inherently missing since her husband died.
She faintly heard the front door swing open and creak closed. Raven looked up curiously. She wasn't expecting Victor to help her with the odds and ends, especially since he was so engrossed with setting up Bethany's room before she was to be picked up from school.
"Victor?" She called as she craned her neck around the kitchen doorway. Upon seeing no one, she laughed to herself. Must be hearing things, she thought to herself as the trees waved in the breeze outside the kitchen window. She turned her attention back to the cabinet as she reached for a mug.
With a gasp, the mug tumbled out of her blue hands and clattered to the ground. She whipped around, fire red hair flailing around her face. Her eyes set in cold yellow daggers reflexively until she saw him.
Cool hazel eyes stare her down softly. "How ya been, darlin'?" He leaned casually against the doorjamb, his face neutral though Raven caught the hurt flash in his eyes after they traveled down to the ring on her left hand.
Her glare faded immediately, but otherwise she had no clue how to react. Speechless, Raven bent down to collect the pieces of the shattered mug. Logan stepped forward to help her clean it up. "I have it," she whispered, unable to meet his eyes.
He knelt down in front of her and helped her anyway. "I've missed you," he said after a few moments of uncomfortable silence.
"Logan… I'm married."
"Ta him." His voice was thick with venom.
"It's not what it seems…" she trailed off as she cupped the ceramic pieces in her hands.
"Then explain it ta me."
Her head remained ducked low as she stood up, leaving Logan kneeling on the tiled floor. She bit her lip, knowing he wouldn't leave without answers.
It'd been six months since she'd seem him last – six months she met Victor and started dating him. They'd talked on the phone sparingly a few times, but Raven had avoided him for the most part. When Kurt came down for the small courthouse wedding, Logan didn't accompany him, sending someone else to chaperone the trip instead. She knew he wouldn't have been able to hide from Logan forever, especially after Victor's company relocated him to the Caldecott so Beth wouldn't be uprooted from the town she'd lived her whole life.
"Raven… please. Talk ta me." Logan stood up from the floor, but didn't make a move to join her by the sink where she was rinsing her hands of any extra dust she may have collected from the floor.
She turned off the water and sighed. "I do owe you that much," she whispered with her back facing him, knowing he would hear her. Logan didn't react, remaining by the counter where the mug had dropped to the floor. Raven could feel him waiting for her to say something – anything else. She reached for a dish towel with a shaky hand. "Things ended so oddly for us, Logan…" she started.
"They weren't over for me," he whispered immediately.
She dried her hands meticulously. "Irene saw you in a vision," she replied abruptly after focusing all her attention on her now dry hands.
Raven finally turned to face him. "She saw how you can be. The dark side of you – feral."
For the first time since he entered the house, his eyes looked away from her. His hazel eyes focused out the kitchen door, sad, lonely and laced with guilt.
"I…" she began again. "You know I was afraid, Logan. Plus things with Victor happened so quickly and he could commit and be here for Bethany and me all the time… I needed that type of commitment," she explained, stressing the last part of her plea. She took a small step towards him, hoping that he would divert his eyes back to her. "You know we couldn't keep it going with the kids not knowing."
"We could have told 'em," he harshly whispered, not bothering to look at her still.
"And how well would that have gone over? Do you really think that Kurt would've accepted it, especially with how we'd gone behind his back for so long?" She kept taking tentative tiny steps until she was an arm's length away from him, half-afraid of what he could do. "My children are my top priority, Logan."
"Victor ain't a nice guy, Rave," he muttered. Raven saw his eyes flicker back to her for a moment.
"He's been nothing but caring to me and Bethany," she replied.
His eyes drifted shut and he sighed. When he opened his eyes again, he finally turned his head back to her and made eye contact once again. "I could've done the same."
Raven's lips twisted and she fought the urge to bite her bottom lip again. "I know," she said, defeated. "It wasn't in the cards for us though." Her hand slowly reached up and cradled his face, the coarse stubble of his cheek prickling her palm. She felt a longing towards the feeling, remembering how it felt brushing against her skin as Logan would kiss her so tenderly. "I'll always care about you – you need to know that, Logan."
His eyes gazed deeply into hers, entrapping her. "I know, darlin'," he said shortly, his voice barely above a murmur.
Raven found herself holding her breath, unsure of what to do next. She couldn't tear her eyes away from Logan, no matter how much a voice in her head told her to. Her hand felt heavy against his face as she could practically feel gravity pulling at her wedding ring, screaming at her to drop her hand from his face.
The warmth she felt from Logan was different than Victor though. It always had been.
"I…" she began to drop her hand from his face.
"I know…" he whispered, covering her hand with his own. He held it gently against his cheek and she savored his warmth once again.
Suddenly, the weight of her ring was gone.
All that was left was the crushing of Logan's lips against hers and how amazing it felt to kiss him back.
"We kept seeing each other when we dared to over the next five years," Raven concluded softly. "Victor found out immediately though, to answer your question."
"But ya kept up with seein' Logan…" Rogue whispered, he voice cold and distant. "Whenever Kurt came ta visit, whenever Victor went on a business trip…"
Raven nodded. "There's no way for me to defend my actions here, Bethany."
"Rogue," her daughter corrected darkly. "Ya couldn't leave him though?"
"No… he threatened to hurt you or Kurt if I left."
"Like he wasn't hurtin' me already, Momma!" she snapped. "You say that as if he wouldn't have killed either of us if Ah'd stayed with you any longer!" The walls of the cabin because to shake, reflecting Rogue's mood.
"Darling, please," Raven begged in a soothing voice, her eyes watching the walls. She got up from the couch and joined Rogue on the floor. She tentatively wrapped her arms around her daughter, unsure if Rogue would recoil from her touch.
To her surprise, Rogue almost seemed to crumble in her arms. The façade of the cabin faded away as Rogue succumbed to her mother's embrace and broke out into sobs.
"Can I explain what I can, even though it won't make much sense to you?"
Rogue nodded weakly into her mother's chest. "Ah promise Ah won't shout anymore," she whispered in a small, childlike voice.
Rogue awoke slowly. Her eyes protested against the morning sun as its beams shined carelessly through her window. As she rubbed her eyes, she called out weakly, "Remy?"
She rolled over, crawling to the side of her bed devoid of the early morning sunshine. Remy lay curled up in her sleeping bag slumbering peacefully. As she became more alert, remnants of her conversation with her mother beat against the walls of her mind. She needed to tell someone – anyone. She didn't want to wake Remy though.
With a small smile, she stretched to the drawer of her nightstand. She opened it carefully as the drawer tended to squeak dramatically if tugged the wrong way. She successfully pulled it open silently just enough to slide her slender hand inside to retrieve her thin leather-bound journal. She found her pen by her alarm clock, which read just past 8:30 in bright indigo numbers.
Rogue rolled over onto her left side and propped her head against her arms as she opened the book. She flipped to a fresh page and wrote down Day 1564 in black ink.
She skipped a line and began with the words Momma's affair with Logan should've been less than a shock to me, looking at all the clues now. Then again, I had only just turned five when it started…
She began to detail everything she and her mother had discussed while she had seemingly slept without worry. As her pen scribbled across the page, finished the line, went to the next, finished another and so on furiously, the pressure in Rogue's head began to fade away. As she poured out word after word, sentence after sentence, page after page, she remembered why she loved keeping a journal so much.
She was almost on her sixth page when a groan interrupted her thoughts. She halted mid sentence as she heard rustling beside her bed. Without twisting around, she whispered, "Remy?" The movement persisted for another short moment and ceased completely. Rogue turned back to her journal without missing a beat and continued her train of thought.
Her pen decreased its pace as she wrapped up her thoughts. As time went on, Rogue's eyelids felt laced with lead, wanting to anchor closed every time she blinked them.
I'm feeling so worn out again, she wrote. Then again, I guess I did wake up a little earlier than anticipated, especially with how I passed out last night. I don't even remember getting changed let alone when I got tucked in, though I assume Remy took care of that bit.
Her handwriting turned progressively sloppier. She hazily reread her last sentence and only truly recognized the 'R' in Remy.
Back to sleep for Roguey.
An hour or so later after Rogue had fallen back asleep, Remy picked his head up from his pillow groggily. As he sat up, a yawn moaned its way past his lips as he rubbed the sleepy haze out of his eyes. He blinked wearily at the clock on Rogue's night stand, making out 10:45 in the indigo green.
He twisted his head around and saw Rogue's body still curled up asleep, her back to him. A lazy smirk crawled across his face. He pushed himself out of his makeshift bed by using Rogue's bed as leverage – though gently so as not to rustle her at all. Carefully, he tiptoed around her bed to where he could see her face.
"Hey, Rogue," he whispered, his eyes grazing over her journal splayed out in front of her. Delicately, he eased out the fountain pen lying in her boneless hand. She must've fallen asleep while writin', he concluded as he closed the cap on the pen.
He knelt down beside the bed, resting his head on her mattress. "Chere?" He poked her shoulder playfully.
She shuddered at the contact and a moment later her eyes began to flutter open. "Hmm…" she murmured. Her green eyes focused on his after blinking away what sleep she could. "Mornin', Remy," she greeted with a small smile.
"Bon matin, p'tite." He smiled back warmly without lifting his head off the bed. His eyes left hers to motion to her journal with a quick glance. "See y' were up earlier."
The smile faded from her face as she slowly sat up. Her hand slid over the leather bound book protectively. "Yeah," she whispered as she closed the journal. "Ah had a lot on mah mind after wakin' up earlier an' Ah didn't want ta bother ya."
"Y' know y' wouldn' have."
"Ah know, but ya know how Ah am."
He smiled softly. "Oui. I know."
With a faint giggle, she gathered the book in her hands and twisted over to the other side of the bed to deposit it back into the drawer. She pushed the drawer closed with a loud squeak. "She told me more of what happened with her an' Logan," she sighed once she'd settled back against her pillows.
"Really?" Remy stood up from the floor and sat down on the bed facing her. "What did she say?"
Rogue took a moment to collect herself and took a deep breath. "It kept goin' up until six months ago," she recalled mechanically. "They were tryin' ta keep it from Victor but they couldn't hide it with his senses." Upon Remy's inquisitive look, she explained, "He's got – had the same power as Logan. Fast healin', enhanced senses, that sort of thing."
"So he'd smell Logan on her?"
Rogue nodded. "Yeah. He found out immediately, but she didn't stop. Neither did Logan." Her voice turned colder.
"Why did she stay wit' Victor den?" Remy asked cautiously. He could feel anger seeping over her as she recalled the conversation.
"'Cause he threatened her – an' Kurt an' me. Said that if she left him he'd hunt us all down," she spoke coarsely, connecting his threats to the grave reality of the last few weeks.
Remy feared her anger would boil over until he felt the front begin to crumble. Sorrow overcame the anger, washing it away. He watched as her lip began to tremble. "An' that's why he-" Her head fell, white tendrils hiding her face from Remy. "That's why he beat both of us. An' why he…"
"Chere, y' don' have t' say it."
She looked up again, tears falling freely down her face. "He raped me because they didn't stop, Remy. She didn't stop seein' Logan an' didn't stop Victor from hurtin' me, even though she said she wanted to be with him because he was carin' towards the two of us. She wanted ta give me the father Ah'd never had an' couldn't do it with Logan because it was so complicated," she mocked angrily. She clenched the bed sheets tightly. They twisted underneath her fingers and Remy was sure that if she'd had access to his power she would've charged the entire bed under her touch. Her anger was back, bubbling through the sorrow and depression. It beat against his empathy, threatening to consume him. He knew he had to remain neutral for her sake though.
He extended a hand to her, but she didn't take it, nor did she move. Her breathing hitched in her throat as she tried her best to not hyperventilate. She'd thought writing everything down would've helped her, but saying the words out loud brought back every negative emotion she'd felt while speaking to her mother.
"Did y' maman tell Logan 'bout de abuse?"
Rogue slowly shook her head and reached up to hastily rub her tears away. "He figured it out, though. Momma would have bruises that she couldn't cover up because they were too much foh her powers or smell differently ta him, she told me." (1)
"What did he do after dat?"
"He wanted her ta leave Victor, take me with her an' come ta the institute."
"An' she didn' because-"
"-She was afraid, with good reason obviously," Rogue concluded for him. "With all of us up here, she knew we wouldn't be safe." She tucked a few white strands of hair behind her ear. "After Ah ran away, she realized that Ah was safe here an' started thinkin' of how she could get away herself, an' with us separated there was less of a chance of bein' harmed by Victor. Logan helped her an' kept in contact with her that way. But Vic found her anyway," she added softly, but fiercely.
Remy reached to place a hand on her shoulder. She shrank underneath his touch and didn't lift her head up. "'M sure she understands why y' didn't talk t' her all dose years."
Slowly, she looked up, her eyes glimmering with confusion. "It's like… Ah've wanted ta fohgive her. Maybe part of me had over these last four years, but every new piece Ah find out is makin' it harder an' harder ta feel the regret that mah conscience is pushin' foh. It's takin' everythin' in me ta not hate Logan a li'l bit foh all of this. It was as much his fault as it was her." She snorted before adding, "Then he just had ta wait till she was dead ta tell me an' Kurt about it. He only had four and a half freakin' years ta say somethin'!" she fumed.
Remy remained silent, mulling over her words. It was just a little too convenient that Logan disclosed the past of the affair right after Raven died. Who knows – they may have never fully put the pieces together if Rogue hadn't absorbed her mother as she died.
"Ah think Ah need ta avoid Logan foh a bit… get my head wrapped around this," Rogue mused aloud.
"Y'll get y' chance," Remy admitted, pulling his hand away from her shoulder. Her eyebrows knitted together, silently asking him to explain. "I went t' talk t' him an' Henri last night after y' fell asleep, 'cept Henri had sent Logan t' find out more 'bout Essex Technologies b'fore I got dere."
Her eyes instantly softened. "Where did he go?"
"Seattle. Dunno f' how long," he shrugged.
"Ah see…" If possible, her shoulders slumped even more. "Did ya talk ta Hank about anythin' else?"
"Oui. He explained some t'ings about y' powers an' all wit' me."
She nodded, her eyes drifting away. "Ah take it that it wasn't anythin' good, raht?"
Remy winced. "I wouldn' put it like dat, chere…"
She ran a hand through her hair shakily, sighing. The long auburn strands cascaded over her shoulder, highlighted by the eerie white. "Ah'd ask ya about it, but Ah don't think Ah can handle much more after only bein' awake foh so long." Her voice was soft and forlorn.
Mustering his best smile, Remy suddenly stood up from the bed. "Why don' we get some breakfast an' do somet'in' fun t'day den?"
She blinked up at him, confused and intrigued by the abrupt change of topic. "Like what?"
"We'll figure somet'in' out. C'mon," he said, knowing better than to extend a bare hand to her. He walked ahead of her to the door of her room. "Y' get y'self ready an' I'll be right outside waitin'."
A faint smile tugged at the corner of her lips. "Jus' give me a second then, Remy," she told him as she threw the blankets off her legs and stood up. "Ah'll just need ta grab pants an' gloves."
"Take y' time, Rogue," he said. He flashed another disarming grin before he shut the door behind him. He leaned his back against the wall across the hallway, his smile fading and replaced with a sigh and a discontent frown. He rubbed his face roughly, trying to shake off the remnants of Rogue's emotions that seemed to attach themselves to him.
Is it selfish f' me t' be relieved dat she didn' give me de chance t' explain all de scientific merde? He thought coldly, running a hand through his hair. Seems like de empathy's been in overdrive since de incident. I don' t'ink I can take anymore serious talk dis mornin' eit'er. He closed his eyes, trying to filter out any extra emotions he felt beating against him and tried to focus on his own. Slowly, the slight anger and confusion beating against him from Rogue faded and he brought his relief forward, trying his best to let it wash over him. His muscles that he didn't even realized had tensed up began to relax and his shoulders slumped against the wall.
Over the years he, along with Rogue's help, had developed ways of blocking out emotions when dealing with his empathy. With the telepathy she'd absorbed in the past, the two of them worked on simple meditation skills that Remy could use in instances such as these. Rogue knew how overbearing her emotions could be, along with the constant shifts in moods for everyone else living in the institute. The little techniques were always enough for Remy to center himself and discover his true disposition once again.
Just as an air of calmness completely swept over him, Rogue's door creaked open in front of him. His eyes fluttered open as Rogue stepped out of the room, closing the door behind her. "Ya okay, Remy?"
He silently gulped. "Oui. Jus' gettin' m'head t'get'er," he whispered truthfully.
"Oh," she mouthed inaudibly, realizing what he was referring to. "Ah'm-"
"Don' be," he said, his smile returning. "I'm feelin' better now. How are you?"
She tugged at her white cotton gloves, making sure there was no skin showing between her sleeves and the cuff of the gloves. "Hungry," she giggled. "Ya think there's anythin' left from this mornin'?"
He offered her his hand, which she slid her hand into immediately. He squeezed it gently, eliciting a soft laugh from her. "Guess we should go find out."
"An' if not, maybe we can coax Jean in ta makin' us somethin'," she mused as they began down the hallway.
They reached the top of the stairs within a minute. Remy could tell that Rogue was still dwelling on the morning's conversation but was trying her best to stay upbeat. When she smiled, her eyes didn't quite twinkle the way he knew they could. Deciding it best to remain off the topic, Remy loosened his grip on her hand to wiggle his fingers into her palm.
"That tickles," she giggled, using her free hand to tuck her hair behind her ear.
"Dat's kinda de point, chere."
"Good foh you then, you succeeded. Now stop," she laughed as she laced her fingers with his again and held on tight. She looked up to him and beamed. "Try it now."
Dere's de smile I was lookin' for. "Y' win, Rogue."
She smiled for a moment longer before her face fell neutral again. "Ah really do hate this. We both used ta be happy – Ah'm sure of it."
"Seems like f'ever ago, dough, doesn' it," Remy murmured as they reached the bottom of the staircase. "We'll find it again, chere."
"Ah know." She squeezed his hand again. "Can't blame me foh wishin' that we weren't so messed up," she added, laughing briefly.
Remy shrugged. "Non, I can'. But I never would've met y' if we weren'."
She stopped walking and stared at him. "Ah think that's the sweetest thing ya've ever said ta me," she said, her eyes sparkling.
"Can' be," he denied.
"Ah think it is," she laughed. She resumed walking, hugging his arm closer to her body. "Thank you."
"Don' t'ank me f' sayin' t'ings like dat. I am y'-"
"No," she stopped him. "Thank ya foh puttin' a better perspective on the whole thing. It's really what Ah needed ta hear raht now." She grinned up at him.
Remy smirked. "Well, in dat case, y' welcome."
What's this, I updated this plus posted a new story! Blame the strep throat I've had for the last week – my four day vacation from work has given me plenty of time to write.
I jest… you guys and you're amazing reviews actually motivated me to get this out so quickly (by Courtney standards, anyway :o) Honestly though, you have no idea how great it felt to see loyal readers after a two year hiatus, plus the new readers as well. I can't tell you all how much I love you! grins
Quick note in reference to Mystique's mentioned bruises:
(1). This is a far stretch, but I got this idea from the movies where Mystique retained the scars she'd received from Wolverine in the first movie, regardless of which shape she was in. I figured that maybe some hurts just go too deep to just be able to cover up.
Oooh! And the whole beginning part with the genetics… Yeah, I have NO clue about any of that stuff, so I'm hoping that it was somewhat believable… Maybe I'm not giving myself enough credit, but comparing my scientific mumbo-jumbo to other stories that really seem to know what they're talking about… I feel a touch stupid.
So hopefully the next one will come just as quickly, seeing as how I've had the first part of Chapter 28 in my head since before I finished this chapter. As always, I love hearing from you all, so don't be afraid to click that little button down there… :o)