The following applies to the story, in its entirety, as I post it.
Disclaimer:Characters belong to Marvel. All lyrics are credited to performer(s) as documented. All Nursery rhymes and other non-credited intellectual property have been borrowed without permission or specific knowledge of who owns them. Lori McDonald has given permission for the reverences made to Looking at a Woman. All original characters and ideas contained within this story are the sole property of the author. No infringement is intended as this is written for fun.
Timeline-Universe:Set in the comic universe, specifically X-Treme X-Men. It is set after Khan's invasion was overthrown and begins during Rogue and Remy's recovery from being impaled by Vargas' sword. NOTE that the writing of this story started BEFORE the Khan's invasion story actually was completed in the comic and, thus, before Rogue and Remy were impaled by Vargas' sword, so there are variations from the ending of it. It strays vastly from the time of issue 16 and beyond. Because of this, Xavier's regained use of his legs was not predicted and therefore not incorporated into this story. Nor was the addition of Xorn and the Gen X-er's (etc.) into the X-Men included. Jono, however, had been recruited to the main teams prior to the time of issue 16 and is included as such.
Summary: Rogue's memories haunt her, her powers are evolving, and it all ties in with Destiny's Diaries. Many mysteries surrounding Rogue are explored and theorized: Rogue's early childhood, reasons for her inability to control absorption powers (while able to control powers she's absorbed), the depths and extent of her original powers, and the consequences of the latest evolution of her powers. There are multiple villains, deepening of friendships, and lots of mystery. This is a very complicated story with layer upon layer of plot and subtext.
Archive:The more the merrier. Just inform me first via email (on my profile).
Reviews:Please, please post reviews on ff.net. They are very, very much welcome. I like to be publicly praised and critiqued. It can help other readers understand the story as well. I do accept feedback (praise or critique) via email too.
Acknowledgments:I take a lot of character history from the comics and other fan fictions, unless it absolutely clashes with what I've seen in the comics. Fan fictions references likely to come from Lori McDonald (specifically Looking at a Woman, and Thick as Thieves, which is co-authored w/ Valerie Jones), Valerie Jones (co-authored Thick as Thieves, unfinished but unbelievably good Blind Sight, and the Betrayal arc), and Ruby Lis (End of Innocence and Scars).
Rating:R. This is a serious story and deals with subject matters that are intended for mature audiences. Violence and sexual scenarios are not explicit, and are (to my belief) within ratings parameters, but they are detailed enough so that the reader knows what has occurred and will have an esthetic understanding of these things. The focus is on the consequences of these things, how they effect the character's lives, and not on the violence or sexual situations themselves. WARNING! This story deals with child abuse, other violence, and mature material, including sexual relations both consensual and nonconsensual alike. If you are offended by these subject matters, I strongly suggest that you do not read this!
Certain memories of Rogue's are in present tense while the staple of the text is in past tense. This is deliberate. It indicates the immediacy of these memories on Rogue's fore thoughts and the strangling effect they have on her consciousness to show that they super-cede all other thoughts and actions no matter how she outwardly behaves or thinks.
Chapter One - Aware
"From in the shadow she calls. And in the shadow she finds a way… finds a way. And in the shadow she crawls, clutching her faded photograph. My image under her thumb with a message for my heart. Yes, with a message for my heart. She's been everybody else's girl. Maybe one day she'll be her own…" (Girl --by Tori Amos)
Warmth, slowly turning hot enough to be distracting, itched at his feet and shins. Vargas shifted his legs away from the fireplace and looked up from his latest prize in his growing collection of Destiny's Diaries. This volume had been circumvented from the wayward band of X-Men who had purposely set out to solve the mystery of the diaries on their own, without interference from their founder, Professor Charles Xavier. Destiny had intended this copy to go to Rogue, specifically, along with a letter that had been folded neatly and placed just inside the book's cover who knows how many years ago. His attention being drawn from the diary to the heat of the fire stung him with a pang of annoyance. He quickly tamed it, since such pettiness was below him, and moved to his desk to continue his contemplation of the diary in his hand.
Vargas ran his fingers gingerly over a drawing on the top of a page near the center of the book. This drawing puzzled him. In it was two figures knotted together by a sheet that wrapped both of them. The male figure appeared to be him, but the female figure he had yet to identify for sure. Her face was hidden by Vargas' face, but the position of her body told him she didn't want to be there. While his figure seemed to be pulling her toward him, her figure seemed to be pushing him away.
Ignoring the woman for the moment, he traced the three thin spikes that protruded from his back.
To the empty room, he asked, incredulously, "What is that?"
After a moment of consideration a slow smile spread across his face.
"Ahhhhhh," he said, drawing it out, "it must be..."
The figures seemed to be immersed in alien scrawling that he also had yet to decipher. He skipped past it, down to the drawing below it, taking up the bottom half of the page. Again, the woman and he were present. This time they were atop an arc, resembling a half sphere, formed of bodies piled upon bodies piled upon bodies. His figure was to the right, collapsed. Beside him and half over him, on her hands and knees, her head bowed, was the female figure. The sheet was still wrapped around and between them, but it was slacker now. Lines radiated from the woman, indicating glow or great power. They reached to the edges of the page, in all directions, overlapping all other scrawling in furious intensity.
"Great power, indeed," he thought aloud.
The lines of power, or glow, whatever they were supposed to be, dominated the page so much that the rest of the page was difficult to make out. It was what piqued his interest so intently when he first leafed through it. It wasn't until after several minutes of inspection that he'd realized he was the man in it. But, once he had, he became determined to solve the puzzle of it, especially the identity of the woman whose face was hidden in both of the drawings. He was almost sure of who it was, but didn't want to jump to false conclusions, so he eyed the fallen people with greater scrutiny.
Darkened etches edged the arc of bodies. At first, these appeared only to be random spikes and cures. But now, now they seemed to be more. Without looking away, he grabbed the arm of a desk-mounted magnifying glass and examined the etching with it. A touch of a button and the magnification increased to its limit, and the random spikes and curves became tiny scribed words.
"Seethed not dead you but not you total access guard of the guardian ignorant confidence weakness is strength unleashed seething remembered seethed not dead you but not you total access guard of the guardian ignorant confidence weakness is strength unleashed seething seethed not dead..."
The sequence repeated four times. By the time he reached the end of it, he'd forgotten all about one word that had only occurred once, and thus, its significance was not yet realized.
"And I hate and I hate and I hate and I hate elevator music, the way we fight, the way I'm left here silent. Oh, these little earthquakes. Here we go again… these little earthquakes. Doesn't take much to rip us into pieces. We danced in graveyards with vampires till dawn. We laughed in the faces of kings, never afraid to burn. And I hate and I hate and I hate and I hate disintegration, watching us wither… black winged roses that safely changed their color. I can't reach you. I can't reach you. Give me life give me pain give me myself again" (Little Earthquakes -by Tori Amos)
Her singing is quiet and choppy.
"The itsy bitsy... spider went up... the water spout."
The words flow as they were remembered. Well, the sobs between the almost choked out words aren't part of the memory. However, she doesn't realize, within this memory within memory, that she is even remembering this song. The memory version of her doesn't remember much if she can help it. It could be her young age, since she is only four. Or, perhaps, it is a mutated defensive maneuver. Whatever it is, she wonders about none of it, either within the memory of chasing her spider and singing in the current state memory. The memory is outwardly consuming her and she pokes a stick in the faucet head, both in the memory and as she is remembering. But, the act is one act. Memory doesn't separate it. The child her is the adult her, but her recognition of this, fearfully, is as wane as the child's own memory. And as much as awareness allows, this memory isn't even hers. Awareness models perspective, and she hasn't completely trusted hers in years.
"Down came... the rain..."
She turns the faucet head, but it is rusted shut.
"To wash the... spider out."
In her floating state of mind, she realizes not the strength she has, and with a grunt, she gives up her efforts of turning on the water. She pouts, but with her shunted memory, she remembers that pouting is bad, although not why, so she stops.
"Out came the sun... and dried... up all the rain."
She jabs the stick into the faucet spout, punctuating the places where the sobs had been where the memory of the song began for her.
"Then the itsy... bitsy spider..."
She gives one final jab with the stick before giving up. She remains in her crouched position, her knees tucked against her chin, as she turns her attention to the ground, seeing it between her feet. She lightly pokes the ground there with the stick as if testing its durability, its readiness.
"Went up... the spout... again!" The last word is sharp, as pointed as the stick she stabs into the dirt, pulverizing it with the strength her memory has forgotten. It's out of context with the memory, so to correlate it, it takes another form. The stab echoes in her stomach. The memory takes imagined form.
Rogue jolted back, slammed her knees together, and fell onto her back. With a resounding, "Oomph," her lungs seized and the air rushed out.
A slow deep breath steadied her. She spoke before hearing the footsteps that approached her, before smelling the musk of his sweat and cigar stench. She didn't need the other senses to announce him when she'd already heard his mind, felt him deeper inside her than the claws she'd absorbed from him sheathed.
"You can stop right there, Wolvie," she said as she stood.
As she turned to him, a large web caught her face. Startled, she gave a quiet shriek and raked her face and hair to be free of it.
Wolvie's laughter heightened her aggravated reaction. She glared at him and stomped the ground indignantly, shuddering, to restrain her ridiculous lingering urge to keep brushing off the web.
Still laughing, he said, "You gotta admit, Rogue, it's funny. The web scared you more 'n I did."
She brushed non-existent leaves from her backside to compensate for the still nagging urge to wipe where the web had touched her.
"Not scared," she said.
"Surprised, then," he countered.
She hardened her glare, not caring if she seemed childish , and absentmindedly clutched one hand to her lower stomach.
Memories are clouds gathered in a spider web purse.
The strange and eerily familiar thought was formed just as absententmindedly.
"Huh? Memories... what?" Logan was taken back by the skewed reference as much as by her broadcasting it to him like a secret pass.
"Nothing." Her glare turned to a grimace and she clutched her stomach tighter. "Guess Ah'm channeling Jean, or the Prof," she said, skewing the truth, lying to herself more than to Logan. She paused, reluctant to bring up Betsy, and settled on finishing with, "...or someone."
Logan watched her warily and tried not to show he'd noticed her obvious stomach pain. Probably just PMS, he reasoned automatically. He did smell the faintest scent of blood, old blood.
"It is not," she said even as she winced from the pain. She didn't notice the pain, or her expression from it. The pain wasn't really there, was it? It was memory not remembered, wasn't it? It was cloud seeping through the fine web mesh of the purse, right?
He reached for her, but paused before getting dangerously close. Considering she had met him there to work on controlling her ever-varying powers, she sure wasn't wearing much. A sleeveless shirt tied off above her waist and short cut-off denim shorts weren't what he'd call training wear. Still, he was glad she was dressing this way again. She'd always seemed more 'Rogue' dressed that was. The last couple of years, she'd discarded this look too often for a much more conservative always-covered-head-to-toe-to-fingers look. He speculated it had a lot to do with the Cajun. His forward and brash flirtation with her caused her to draw more inside herself, to cover up, to contain herself. Logan always viewed her armor of clothing as protective more for herself than for others. Oh, she honestly wanted to keep from hurting others with her uncontrolled powers and wanted to keep her mind from being overwhelmed by someone else's mind, but something tugged at him, nagging that she feared touch for more personal reasons. That nagging feeling also told him that she wasn't even aware, of it or her actions right then.
The silence stretched as he thought this all out. Rogue didn't seem to notice or mind.
"You okay, Rogue?"
She blinded, as if the time that motion took was all the time that had passed.
"Mind if Ah take a rain-check on the training? Ah think Ah'm gonna check on Remy."
She looked down at her hand clutching her stomach. Confusion twisted her face then disappeared, replaced by the stubborn resignation that had come to be her most common expression. It was as if merely being apprised was a test of willpower. She balled her hands into fists just behind her back. It was a forceful effort to keep from clutching a stomach that didn't hurt. She spoke to keep from discussing her behavior and to disguise it with worry for Gambit.
"Maybe he's awake," she said.
She scratched the top of her left hand, near the knuckles, to convince the claws not to pop.
"Sure, darlin', I understand. We can do it tomorrow."
A nod and she was off.
He watched her as she left. She was hunched over a little, moving with a stocky, predatory gait, and scratching at each of her hands where the claws begged for escape. The further she moved away, the more her demeanor became hers again, the less of Logan there was in her posture and step.
...And the more taut the tug at his chest.
Finally, out of Logan's sight, he felt her stop scratching her hands. The sensation was a soft snap, like a hair being plucked from his head, but almost damp, and centered at his chest.
I'll be watchin' out for ya, darlin'. Wait too long, and you might wind up as scrambled as me.
"You're my Angel, you're my Devil, too. When you fall, raise your eyes, and know the sun and moon will rise and lift you up in love, above this mad raging zoo… What if I told you, you were beautiful? With your scars and missing parts…" (Angel -by Concrete Blonde)
A part of Remy LeBeau his mind does not actively register was aware of the medlab table beneath him. It was an action like breathing, so ingrained, so constant that active thought was not connected with it. It was deeper. It was part of his physiology, more akin to shedding skin cells, really. No, even deeper. It was part of his metabolism, part of his cells. It was one of his mutations.
He had three powers atop enhanced agility and his devilish eyes. He could charge inanimate objects with kinetic energy for a desired result, ranging from a pretty fizzle to an explosion powerful enough to level a ten-story building. The latter took too much time and energy than was practical. Another power was his ability to charm people. This was a low level psionic ability that was closer to empathy than telepathy. He didn't really use it much, though. Sure it could be useful, but it was also contagious. It's one thing to catch happiness like a cold, it's another to catch heartache, or guilt. He had a lot of guilt and a lot of regret. He didn't want to pass it around. His third power was a special awareness. He called it his spatial sense. The Beast called it his kinesthetic sense. He could sense the presence, the differences of temperature, mass, distance, and motion of things around him, all by way of 'feeling' their potential energy available for him to charge. It was always on, whether he acknowledged it or not. It could be focused upon his command. In fact, all of Remy was under his own control.
Comatose in the medlab, his spatial sense automatically felt the contents of the room, but his conscious awareness was focused on his dream. It was a simple enough dream, but one he loathed to end. In it, he sat on his bed in his room in the mansion, propped up against the wall. Rogue was stretched out, across his lap, snuggling against his chest. Her eyes were closed, her breathing calm, and a contented smile graced her lips. Sultry jazz lulled them. Its rhythm guided the strokes of his bare fingers along her bare arm. He let out a long deep breath. This was his favorite dream.
On the table in the medlab, Remy's breathing raised his chest as regularly as the beep... beep of the monitor that mirrored his heartbeat. The steady rhythm made it seem like he was in idle. Another biological constant was also in idle. His spatial sense was a never-ending white noise inside him, projected from him, and received by him. It registered that Storm and Hank had moved to a desk far away from him. It registered their conversation, though not what was said. None of these things reached into his active thoughts, those of his dream. Not like Rogue's entrance to the medlab and tentative approach to him did. That even penetrated his dream, so strongly was her pull on him. In his dream he responded to it by leaning over and gently pressing his lips to hers. He did this just because he could. In his dream her powers weren't a barrier to their intimacy. And as such, he was surprised when he felt himself pass across that touch, that simple dreamed kiss, and into her. The transfer was tacky. It was as delicate as a silk thread. He was even more surprised when blackness didn't overtake him.
Then he remembered it was just a dream. It made him ache, even in the dream.
"…And I'll run naked through the streets without my mask on. And I will never need umbrellas in the rain. I'll wake up in strawberry fields every day. And the atrocities of school I can forgive, the happy phantom has no right to bitch. The time is getting closer. Time to be a ghost. Everyday we're getting closer. The sun is getting dim. Will we pay for who we've been? So if I die today, I'll be the happy phantom, and I'll go wearin' my naughties like a jewel…" (Happy Phantom -by Tori Amos)
Rogue hovered by his side. She held his gloved hand in hers. She didn't feel the usual urge to keep physical distance between them.
Probably 'cause Ah know he ain't aware enough to even flirt.
Truthfully, she just hadn't acknowledged her brief hesitation before she took up his hand. Even when both were covered by the necessary armor of clothing to prevent the accidental activation of her powers, she still couldn't rid herself of that hesitation. It had been ingrained in her. It had become as innate as breathing, as her heart pumping, as her skin shedding. The fear that had come to accompany it was as practiced as the action of not touching. That show of emotion had become just as innate. It was a mantra that all her friends and teammates knew well.
Because of Remy, because of Carol, because of Cody, because of… Ah can't touch… Ever.
Her friends and teammates commiserated her position and acknowledged proudly that she had taken proper responsibility for her powers. Of course, she did it because the transfer was an assault on her own psyche, even as temporary as it may have been. But they, especially Remy, were sure that her primary reason was to protect others.
Little did they realize. Little did she realize.
With Gambit currently posing no threat of pushing her, her reflexes were relaxed. She allowed herself to fantasize the impossible. In this fantasy, she was cradled in his arms against his chest. She relished the feel of his bare fingertips languidly grazing along her bare arm. A smile tugged up the corners of her lips.
"Rogue… " Hank repeated for the third time. She broke from her fantasy and turned to face him. Red and black eyes looked at him.
"Huh?" She asked.
Startled by her manifestation of Gambit's eyes, Hank looked to Gambit to verify she wasn't touching him, skin to forbidden skin. After acknowledging that her bare skin was in indeed not in direct contact with Gambit's, he returned his attention to Rogue just in time to see the slow transition of Rogue's eyes fading back into her own natural emerald green.
This is still going on, he wondered to himself. Aloud, he continued the theme.
"I'd like to perform some examinations, my dear Mississippi Marauder," he said with eager good will. "I have a number of theories about your evolving powers I'd like to extrapolate upon."
"Awwwwww, Hank," Rogue complained, again missing how childish she was sounding. "Can't it wait? Ah just got here."
"Okay, but I won't let you keep putting it off."
Rogue instantly brightened and returned to her make-believe thoughts. Hank chuckled to himself. She'd reminded him of some of the younger kids. A pout, a whine, get their way, and instant sunshine.
"What if I said I've seen a miracle? What if I said my dream's come true? Would you believe I have seen these things with my own eyes? And saw the world go dark and dead? And then go green and blue again… What if I told you, you were very necessary to the chain, the vein, the children of a young and foolish race? …What if I said I saw the future, and the future was the picture in your head? What if I said to you to paint another picture, and you'd wake up in that future that you'd painted? And you did?" (Angel -by Concrete Blonde)
Vargas turned his attention to the next page, the one opposite what he'd been studying for hours. This one was a drawing of Earth enveloped by an intricately patterned web. Several silken strands of the web stretched out into space, trailing off the page. One strand of the web lead up to a spider that sat in the cupped hand of an unspecified person. Vargas had a sneaky suspicion that the hand belonged to the woman on the previous page. Still, there was not any absolute assurance that person in control of the spider was indeed that other figure, let alone that the woman was who he was suspecting she was.
Maybe Irene did this just to give me a headache,he thought in mild amusement as he messaged his closed eyes.
He closed the book and opened the letter.
I sympathize with your fear. Both of us do. We could never bring ourselves to push you in regards to that fear, to make you face it. Instead we pushed in other, perhaps more dangerous directions. It was as much for our plans as it was because we loved you. Never doubt that at least. We did love you. We did it in spite of what nature and fate had intended for you.
That time is over.
It is time to explore. It is time to remember. It is time to rebuild.
Vargas photocopied the letter, replaced it in its original envelope, then into a second one.
Funny, what you can find on the Internet these days, he thought wryly as he addressed the outer envelope to the Xavier Institute, C/O Rogue. He even put on his return address. Not like she's going to surprise me, right Destiny?
 Rogue's childishness is purposeful. It refers to the memory sequence involving the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" scene and will have more relevance further into the story. There will be other purposeful and obvious discrepancies with other characters like Logan and Gambit.