Here it is! The last chapter! I'm so excited and so sad all at once. I'm basically setting the stage for the sequel here and wrapping up a few loose ends. I hope you like how it turned out. You'll have to let me know what you think. ;-)
Thank you all so much for all of your support. You guys have made this so much fun.
I still don't own anything, so don't sue me. You won't get much beyond The Cartoon Guides to Physics and Statistics.
Scott Summers waited anxiously beside Kurt and Jean as they watched Laura bring Velocity in for a landing. Apparently he hadn't been as subtle in telling the other two about Rogue's impending arrival as he'd thought. The entire team was gathered behind him, trying to find out just what it was that had made the senior team so uptight for the past three days.
Scott and Kurt had been diligent in keeping their word to Logan. They had carefully covered Rogue's absence as the rest of the mansion realized she was gone. The only one who had heard anything from them was Jean, and that had been inevitable given his psychic bond with her.
In fact the only people who hadn't asked about Rogue were Kitty and Piotr, but they had both been busily sneaking quietly around the mansion since the day before Logan's departure. What exactly it was that those two knew, Scott didn't know and hadn't asked. But he definitely was not happy about how this was playing out.
The purpose of a team was to act as a team, not to have little factions running around with mysterious goals and keeping things from each other. And it made Scott extremely nervous that Rogue had been sent on this mission alone. It didn't matter that she was female or that her mutation required close contact. He'd feel this way about any of them being sent out alone. It just wasn't safe.
But Professor Xavier had made a point of reassuring him that, in this case at least, it was best that Rogue deal with the first phase of the mission alone. And apparently she was brining a new team member back with her now that it was over, but no, he wouldn't tell them who it was ahead of time.
Scott took a deep breath and forced himself to relax. Laura had radioed in that everyone was safe. There was really no reason to continue to worry about this. It was done and over with.
A warm female chuckled sounded in his mind, the familiar sensation soothing him. You know Logan would never allow anything to happen to Rogue," Jean reassured lightly through their bond, her hand reaching down to take his as they waited.
Scott squeezed her hand gently. He wished he had her confidence about this. It wasn't that he didn't trust Logan or Rogue. He just couldn't shake the nagging feeling in his stomach that something was wrong.
Taking another deep breath and trying again to relax, or at least distract himself, he looked over the hastily assembled mansion inhabitants. He stopped and looked at Kitty in confusion, trying to figure out why she was standing off the side with Piotr and holding a camera in her hand. He started to ask her, when the sound of Velocity's engines overwhelmed the hanger as Laura set the helicopter down.
Forgetting about Kitty he focused on Logan as he disembarked, surprised to see that the Wolverine seemed a little groggy. Nothing that made Logan groggy was ever a good thing. "Logan, are you…" Scott trailed off in dumbfounded shock. Behind Logan, Gambit jumped to the ground, turning back to hold up a hand to Rogue.
The flash from Kitty's camera snapped him out of his stunned stupor. He shook his head, looking around in surprise. Just about everyone else was staring at Rogue and Gambit with the same amount of shock as he felt, except for the adults and Piotr, who looked pleased, and Kitty who looked as though the After Christmas sales had come early.
Beside him Kurt started yelling in German, his hands and tail gesturing wildly. Other than 'no' and 'my sister' Scott didn't understand a word he was saying, but he was pretty sure he felt the same way.
Scott started to step forward, intending to pointedly ask Gambit what in the heck he was doing here, when a boom of thunder sounded silencing the hanger in its wake. Apparently Storm wasn't in the mood to let them fight.
Professor Xavier rolled forward, his hands raised to placate his stunned team. "I know you are all quite surprised to find that Gambit has been involved in Rogue's latest adventure. However, he is here and will be joining our ranks."
Scott, among others, started to protest, but Xavier again raised his hands, quieting the uproar. "I know that you are all eager to hear about how this came about, but first let's make sure that there are no lingering injuries. Given the amount of blood on Gambit's clothes, I'm guessing Logan has already healed Rogue, but Beast, if you would give our recent combatants a careful going over, it would be appreciated. We will reconvene in the conference room in an hour and we will debrief. Thank you."
Scott puffed out a sigh in frustration. As the leader he now had to follow the professor's orders and get everyone moving. But that didn't mean he had to be happy about it. He gathered up Jean and Kurt and helped move the younger mutants along, but not before sending a sharp look toward Kitty and Piotr. They had not been the least bit surprised to find Gambit with Rogue. He really did not like being kept out of things. Or having his picture taken to capture his surprise. As the leader of the team he needed to know what was going on in order to make team decisions, and in this case that had clearly not happened. He should have listened to that gut feeling.
Jean placed a hand on his arm. "I know you're frustrated. But they must have had a good reason for doing what they did. Let's give them some time to get checked out, and then we'll find out what happened." She nodded resolutely. "I don't like this anymore than you do, but I think right now we need to focus on keeping Kurt sane until the debrief." There was a hint of humor in her voice as she looked pointedly at the confused and outraged teen who continued to mutter and gesture to himself in German, his tail dancing around as he walked.
Rogue puffed out a sigh in annoyance as she and Remy followed Beast from the med lab to the conference room. She wasn't looking forward to being grilled about everything that had happened.
Beside her Remy slipped his fingerless gloved hand into hers. "Cheer up, Chèrie. This will be fun."
Rogue turned to look at him with a dubious expression. "You think this is going to be fun?"
Gambit shrugged. "We get to annoy your uptight leader."
Rogue felt a smirk tug at the corners of her mouth. There was that. But she knew the others weren't going to be happy even after she'd explained why she'd run to New Orleans. For the Professor this would be a debriefing; for her it would be a grilling. "How much should Ah explain about the Guilds?" she asked, tugging slightly on his hand to stop him from entering the conference room.
Remy considered. "As little as possible. Guild secrets aren't meant to leave the Guild, and I don't see most of your team wantin' to respect that. It's probably safer for them if they don't know." He smirked at her and tugged her to start walking again. "No more stallin', Rogue." She sent him a death glare.
Rogue was still glaring at him as they entered, and in response he raised the hand he held to his lips and kissed her knuckles with a wicked grin. Remy let her hand go and pulled out a chair for her beside Logan, taking the one on her other side.
The X-Men were arrayed around the room in small clusters. The younger members watched him with slightly suspicious interest. Kitty had seen him kiss Rogue's hand and was grinning from ear to ear at Rogue. Piotr was beside her looking amused. The pretty redhead watched him thinly veiled surprise and suspicion. And Scott and Rogue's brother didn't even try to hide their anger and mistrust. Biting back a grin Remy settled back to wait for the fireworks to start.
It wasn't a long wait.
Scott spoke first, his question directed at the adults. His voice was calm, but Remy didn't need his empathy to know it would only take the slightest provocation to get his temper raging. "Professor, Logan, how could you possibly believe it was safe to let Rogue go off alone with Gambit?"
Xavier answered calmly, but with a hint of humor. "I know it comes as a surprise to you. It came as a surprise to us too. We were originally unaware that Rogue had left in order to contact Gambit." He extended his hand to Rogue, allowing her to continue the narrative.
Beside him Rogue answered, her voice already tinged toward defensive. She explained about finding the file and reading about the hired assassins. She noted that the Marauders had a possible phone number, so any call she made could be tracked back to Bayville. Remy was amused to note that she made it sound like she hadn't known it was his phone number in the file. Apparently she was keeping that little tidbit to herself. She also reminded them that they already were overwhelmed with the survivors. "So Ah snuck out of the mansion and went to warn him," she said, ending her defense.
Before her brother or Scooter could respond, an unexpected voice interrupted.
Rogue looked at Hank in confusion. "What?"
"The correct grammar usage would be 'I sneaked out of the mansion and went to warn him.'" His statement was greeted with an awkward silence.
Gambit muffled a snicker, and he heard Logan mumble something under his breath.
Rogue just gave Hank a look and said, "Right. Ah sneaked out of the mansion and went to warn him."
Given the odd look on Nightcrawler's face, Gambit suspected he was annoyed at having his thunder stolen in favor of a grammar lesson, but he finally just let loose. "YOU SNUCK OUT TO RUN OFF WITH GAMBIT ALONE? WITHOUT TELLING ANYONE?"
Rogue glared at him. "Isn't that what 'sneaking out' generally means?" She snarked.
Remy bit back a second laugh. This was turning out to be more fun than he'd expected.
"BUT YOU RAN OFF WITH GAMBIT!" Kurt yelled again, clearly not able to get past that point. Scott and several others nodded in agreement.
Rogue's temper snapped in return. "They were gonna kill him! And Ah didn't sneak off with Gambit! He didn't even know Ah was coming!" She gestured sharply in his direction with her right hand.
"Really Kurt, you make it sound like they ran off to get married or something," Kitty interjected from the sidelines. "She just went to warn him. If you'd bothered to go by the computer lab you'd have found the note she left saying why she'd gone and where."
Scott jumped into the fray. "Wait a minute! You knew? That's why you and Piotr were sneaking around?"
"Like, of course I knew! I was the one who realized she was missing!" She said heatedly, but then her voice softened slightly. "But I read the file. She really needed to warn him, Scott. And it wasn't like she could have just called him. So I bought her some time, I figured she'd be back by the end of the day. I didn't know this was going to turn into a, like huge covert operation." Kitty's hand gestured largely while she spoke.
"Enough." Xavier's voice was calm but demanded silence. "We're not here to debate the merits of Rogue's decision to leave without telling anyone. We simply want to know what happened. Rogue, please continue."
Shrugging her shoulders moodily, Rogue resumed speaking. "Ah used one of the fake ID and credit card sets to book a flight to New Orleans. Ah left the note, which Kitty found," she tossed a small smile to her friend," and left. Ah got there at dawn, so Ah had to wait around all day at one of the only places Ah knew Gambit liked to hang out at. Ah finally ran into his brother around dinner time. They took me to see Gambit. Ah explained to him what Ah'd found, and then figured Ah'd leave. But Ah'd shown up in the middle of some big Guild peace treaty, and they wouldn't let me leave until both Guilds had verified the information."
"I have a question." Scott asked when she paused, his voice unnaturally calm. "How do we know this wasn't some ploy to get you to go to him and help him with some problem? He's manipulated you before."
That grated on Remy's nerves. If Scooter wanted to call him out for what happened last time, fine. But there was no reason to throw it in Rogue's face too. Yes, he'd played her. That spoke badly of him, not her. Not willing to let that go, he entered the conversation. "I didn't know she was comin'. Not her fault, but she walked in at one hell of time. Both Guilds have a lot riding on the peace accord between them. She could very easily have started a war comin' when she did. I wouldn't knowingly put that burden on her shoulders."
Scott opened his mouth to protest, but Logan cut him off. "He's telling the truth, Shades. It was dumb luck that Rogue's the one who found that file. And she was right about the warning. Sinister was dealing with some very dangerous people. He needed to know." He turned, not entirely letting Rogue off the hook. "But so did we, Stripes. Next time you tell someone before you leave."
Rogue nodded slightly at Logan's chastisement and started to continue when Gambit interrupted. "How is it you know about the Marauders?" he asked Logan. It was something he'd been wondering about but hadn't had time to address.
Logan shifted uncomfortably and began explaining about his encounters with Arclight several summers previously in Ottawa. Gambit listened closely, not liking what he heard, particularly the information about the impossible to find buyer in the Far East. Logan finished his short explanation by looking at Scott, anticipating his questions before it was directly asked. "I didn't take the team because if they don't already know about us, I wasn't going to give them a chance to find out. We have too many young kids here. Taking the team would be broadcasting that. And most of the team needed to be here to protect the mansion and the people we rescued in case Essex had other cronies who were coming after us."
Remy watched the X-Men team commander take that in, clearly not liking that he'd been kept in the dark, but unable to argue with the reasoning.
"You think Arclight is still in the business of slaving?" Scott asked Logan, his attention turning away from Gambit and onto the new threat.
Remy answered before Logan could. "Scalphunter used a small caliber bullet when he shot Rogue." Several pairs of eyes widened at that statement, but he continued before the group could get derailed. "The range was too close for him to miss on accident. He shot to wound, not kill. He wanted her alive for something. Whether it was for Sinister or someone else, I don't know."
"Sinister." Rogue stated flatly, and Remy turned to face her, taking in the flat, unfocused look in her eyes as she sifted through Arclight's memories. Finding it slightly unnerving to watch her do that Remy surreptitiously took hold of her right hand and gave it a squeeze. Rogue returned the gesture as she continued to talk. "They planned to give me as to him as a bonus when they made the drop off. They were pretty certain he would want to study me given what they knew I could do."
"How did they know about your mutation?" Jean asked, watching both of them carefully.
Rogue squirmed as she answered. "Part of the whole 'Guild Peace Treaty' was an agreement that all the Guild leader's kids would play nice. The son of the Assassin's leader picked a fight with Gambit for being a mutant. But he shot him full of drugs as he issued the challenge. Ah don't know all the rules, but if you're challenged to a fight, you have to fight. So Ah absorbed Gambit and fought as him. Julien would have killed him otherwise."
"Fine, but how did the two Marauders find out about your powers?" Jean asked again, wanting a clear answer to her question.
Gambit answered. "The Guilds made it look like Rogue had come to New Orleans to hire me for a job and that we'd left after the fight because of that. There was no way the Marauders wouldn't have heard about her fightin' and how she'd taken my place when they came around looking for me. Too many people saw it happen."
Scott glowered at him. "Just how concerned do we need to be that the Guilds know about Rogue's powers?"
Gambit gave him an even stare. "With the peace accord as fragile as it is neither Guild is going to risk pullin' another party into the mix anytime soon. If she stays out of New Orleans she should be safe enough."
"That doesn't exactly make me feel any better. Both times Rogue has gone to New Orleans, it's been because of you," Scott replied darkly.
Gambit smirked and answered lackadaisically. "Guess it's a good thing I'm stayin' here then, non?"
Scott's glare clearly said he didn't agree. And the death glare Rogue was sending him told him he was in for a beating from her in the future. He knew she didn't blindly follow anyone. He just liked getting Scott's goat.
Xavier intervened before Scott could retaliate. "Given that both Scalphunter and Arclight, as well as Sinister himself, are now in the custody of SHIELD, do you feel that the treat has been neutralized, Logan?"
Gambit has his own opinions on the subject, but kept them to himself as Logan considered before answering.
"Assuming SHIELD can hold them? Maybe. It bothers me big time that Arclight was still…around to pose a threat. She should have been neutralized after the last time I saw her." Logan, leaned forward, resting his forearms on the table as he answered, carefully phrasing his words to avoid coming out and telling the younger kids that he'd intentionally killed Arclight. "While Stripes was out helpin' Gumbo, Half Pint and the Tin Man went through the rest of the files we brought back. As of when I left they hadn't found any references to any other Marauders who'd been on the payroll recently. Based on the data we've found it looks like we shut him down." He raised an eyebrow at Kitty and waited for her confirm his data.
"Acutally, we just found something new this morning. I was suspicious because it didn't look like he'd contacted anyone other than Scalphunter and Arclight in the last few months. But several of our rescued guests said they were attacked and pulled in within the last few weeks. Obviously someone was bringing Essex new test subjects." Kitty gestured as she spoke, making it clear she knew Sinister was hiding something from her.
"So this morning I dug around and Pete and I finally found that Essex had a program that ran a DOD grade file shredding algorithm on a set of files as soon as any of the external alarms were tripped. It got through all the files it was supposed to through but one since I didn't get to his computers until after we'd taken out him and moved out all of his prisoners. And since it was the last file on his list, there wasn't much. But I did find references to payments made to two people in response to the arrival of new test subjects. I don't know who they are, but hopefully the bank numbers can help us figure that out."
Gambit watched carefully as the X-Men took in the information as he mentally geared up for the next part of the conversation. If he was going to be a part of the X-Men that meant occasionally sharing information gathered during his previous adventures. They already knew he'd been forced to work for Sinister, and neither Logan nor Rogue had given any indication that it was a problem. Time to see if the others were as willing to let it go.
Drawing in a quick breath, Remy spoke. "Used to be Harpoon and Vertigo who worked the New York lab. Makin'em too dizzy to stay conscious or stabbin'em with charged metal spears to knock'em out. That jive with the descriptions of the attackers from your rescued pin cushions?"
Hank was the one who answered, a faint look of surprise on his face. "Why yes, that matches several descriptions. I gather that they were also used as guards for the facility from time to time. But our guests didn't have names for them, and all of their descriptions were rather discombobulated."
Gambit nodded. "Sounds about right." He paused for a moment and then continued, laying out what little bit he'd of information he'd gleaned before leaving Sinister's employment. "Sinister used to have separate labs. He kept'em separate cause the research was different, and it made'em harder to trace. Used different groups of Marauders for the different labs; don't know if they knew about each other or not. I know he kept a lab in Paris. I don't know where the other labs are or even how many he had in total. But I know there was at least one more, besides Paris."
Xavier looked at him with interest. "Do you know what areas of research Sinister was focused on?"
Gambit answered haltingly, trying to dig the details of the heists out of his memory. "I remember pullin' cell samples on several sets of twins from a Belgian university, blood samples from a private Canadian hospital, research documents from a Swiss pharmaceutical company. Don't remember a pattern to what I was asked to take. Just seemed like random stuff…" He trailed off still not able to find a set pattern to the data he'd collected.
Scott spoke, his gaze weary, as though he was trying to decide if Gambit was being honest or setting them up. "How did you find out about the lab in Paris? There aren't any references to other labs in the files Kitty's gone through."
Gambit smirked to himself. Scooter was giving him a chance to offer a reasonable explanation. "It was a weird job all the way around. Usually, Sinister sent me a request for something with detailed information on where it was and a delivery date to New York that was rushed, but accounting for international travel times and some reasonable reconnaissance."
He shook his head slightly, uncertain of why Sinister had changed the pattern for that one drop. "But the Swiss data was something he needed almost overnight. Said there was no way he could wait for me to get it back to New York and then have someone get the data to him. So I met Arclight at a warehouse in Paris and gave her the files there. I wouldn't have known about the Paris lab or the other Marauders if it wasn't for that. But whatever he needed it for, it was more important than security at that point." Gambit shrugged, "I met with Arclight and Scalphunter there a few more times to drop things off. Guess he figured since I already knew it didn't matter if I went back. Made the last drop before joinin' up with Magneto there."
Xavier called up a map of New York City and located the lab where they had found Sinister. "Is this the same location he was using when you went to him originally?"
Remy focused on the map for a quick second. "Non. That ain't anywhere near where it was when I was the one bein' worked on. But then I'd assume he moved everythin' after I disappeared if he thought there was any chance I knew about it."
Xavier nodded thoughtfully before speaking. "Given what was written in your file, Essex knew you were opposed to his practices. And he had no way of knowing if you had disappeared along with someone who would help you run him to ground."
Gambit nodded, slightly uncomfortable with the number of people who had read Sinister's file on him. People knowing that level of detail about him made him edgy.
Scott spoke, the edge in his voice making it obvious that whatever knowledge or skill Gambit brought to the team it didn't erase his past sins against the team. "Did you bother to tell anyone about Essex, or did you just leave it all behind when you left?"
Gambit bristled, but before he could answer Hank intervened. "Our tip about Essex came from Magneto, Scott." At the surprised look on the faces of nearly all the X-Men, he continued quietly. "Sometimes the most one can do in a situation is survive to tell the tale and wait until additional resources can be found."
Gambit eyed the big blue mutant in surprise. He hadn't expected any of the X-Men to understand that his only two options with Sinister had been endure or escape. He alone hadn't been a position to do much of anything to Sinister. Not at nineteen with no help from any direction and his status with the Guild rocky at best given his frequent unexplained disappearances when we was forced to work as a Marauder.
Gambit glanced slightly at Rogue when she tightened her grip on his hand. It was a small gesture, but he appreciated it none the less.
Jean pulled the group back on topic. "Gambit, why do you think Essex had another lab in addition to the ones in New York and Paris?"
He shrugged lazily, shaking off his discomfort. "Heard Essex talking with Arclight once. They didn't realize I'd arrived for the drop off. He was sayin' somethin' about how if Scrambler couldn't get things settled, he'd have to send her back there. Don't know where "there" was, but Arclight didn't seem all that thrilled at the idea of goin' back."
Xavier turned his head to face him. "Gambit, how involved were you in Magneto's hunt for Sinister? I'd imagine with your unique talents you'd have been quite the asset."
"He was focused on other things when I was there. I didn't bring up Sinister until just after he'd starting hunting Apocalypse." Before anyone could jump in with an outraged 'why?' Remy continued. "I had to make sure he was the right kind of person to tell first."
Xavier smiled in understanding. "But you are familiar with following money trails?"
Remy smirked. "I'm familiar with ways to disguise and move money. But Sinister has always been good at hiding things. I've looked into a few things here and there, but I'm not an expert on international banking and corporate law." He didn't mention that the Guild had people who were. "To really hunt him, I'll have to find someone who is. Might take me a few weeks to find someone I trust to do it right and keep quiet about it."
Xavier grinned. "I have just the person for you." At Remy's dubious look, his grin widened. "Welcome to the X-Men, Mr. LeBeau. Consider hunting Sinister your first task."
Rogue kept to herself as she walked from her room down the hall to the room Remy would be sharing with Piotr. It was no small task since Kitty, Amara, Jubilee, and even Jean were all extremely curious about her relationship with the Cajun. Naturally curious and long standing romance enthusiasts, they had all kinds of questions that Rogue neither wanted nor was ready to answer. Spotting Kitty topping the stairs with Tabby, Rogue picked up her pace and ducked quickly inside the door.
"Been missin' me, chèrie?" Remy asked with a sly grin at her abrupt entrance.
Rogue glared at him, mentally swearing at the blush on her cheeks. "A'm avoidin' Kitty," she snapped.
Piotr just started laughing. "I think that you are fighting a losing battle, Rogue. She has been waiting for you to return since she found you missing."
Rogue grumbled and gave the big Russian a halfhearted glare. He just smiled at her, while Remy snickered at the two of them.
She found it mentally odd to have Gambit in the mansion laughing and at her and Piotr. The mix of normal and everyday with the roller coaster of the last few days was slightly jarring.
"The professor give you a clean bill of mental health?" Remy asked, unpacking the last of his meager pile of clothing in his new dresser.
Rogue nodded, leaning against the foot of Piotr's bed. "Arclight's behavin' for now. But he wants to keep an eye on her. He thinks somethin's a little off about her mind, but he doesn't want to provoke her psyche if she's stayin' put."
Remy nodded, continuing to organize his new room. "Probably a good idea. What's in her head ain't gonna be for the faint of heart."
Rogue nodded slightly, not really listening to him, trying to chase down and name the elusive description of what she felt when she thought of Arclight. Light headed… Disjointed… Confused… Slightly overwhelmed… "Dizzy," she said softly, finally settling for the word, even though it wasn't quite right.
"Qu'avez-tu dit?" Remy asked, not having heard her as he put the sheets Storm had given him on the bed.
Rogue shook her head to clear it, returning here attention to him. "She makes me feel….dizzy. That's the best word Ah can come up with. What did you ask me?"
Remy looked amused at her lack of French knowledge. "I asked what you said."
"Oh." Rogue gave him a slightly sheepish smirk, making him laugh. Glancing around, she noticed Piotr had slipped out while she'd been digging through her psyches. The room was roughly the same size as her own, but since neither Remy nor Piotr were small, the room felt a bit cramped. At least the situation wasn't permanent. Just until the mansion's post-rescue population thinned a bit. "You gonna be able to handle having Pete as a roommate for a while?" she asked teasingly.
"If I have to share with one of the guys, Piotr's the best choice." The wicked grin Remy gave her sent a flash of nervousness through her. "And Pete don't steal the covers. Unlike my last roommate."
Rogue looked around frantically to make sure no one had heard what he'd said, well aware of the blush on her cheeks. "Swamp Rat!" And unable to let his comment go she hissed out, "Ah don't steal the covers!"
Remy laughed out right as he stepped toward her, his grin lingering as he pulled her to him, wrapping his arms around her waist. "So much fun makin' you blush," he said, clearly enjoying the reactions he was getting from her.
Rogue glared, feeling the dreaded blush deepen even as something warm tingled inside her at his words. "Ah hate you," she grumbled, her voice and grip on his coat collar clearly defying her words and making him laugh again.
Pulling her a few steps back toward his side of the room, Remy used a piece of her hair to gently lift her chin, making her look at him. "I don't mind roomin' with Pete for a while. But I am gonna miss havin' you in my bed."
"Remy", her voice trailed off in a mixture of exasperation, annoyance, and embarrassment. She didn't quite know how to answer him when he phrased it that way. His easy slide from teasing to sexy and back again was something foreign to her. She was still adjusting to the idea of the two of them in a relationship. Sexy anything was so far outside the realm of her reality that even his teasing threw her for a loop. She supposed part of adjusting to dating him would be learning to mellow a little about his sexy jokes. Or get him to stop making them, but she had a feeling she would sooner grow to love New England winters before that happened.
His smile softened into something warm. "I am gonna miss sleepin' beside ya, Rogue. Smellin' your hair when I wake up, stealin' back the covers in the middle of the night."
Rogue smiled, a different blush heating her cheeks now. "Me too, Swamp Rat," she answered softly. She glanced up at him, the tingles growing a little stronger at the warmth in his eyes. "It was kinda nice havin' ya for my pillow," she teased.
Remy tightened his grip around her waist in response, smirking at her joke. "Cute, chèrie." He let her go and moved to finish putting the sheets on his bed. He stopped for a moment, taking in the room and then letting his eyes linger on her as she leaned against the door jamb of his closet. "Feels kinda strange bein' here like this."
Rogue smirked. "Joinin' forces with the enemy?"
Remy smirked back before returning to his semi-serious train of thought. "Not so much that, but workin' for Magneto was business. Always. This… feels different." He shrugged languidly, not putting any real effort into finding a better description for it.
Rogue nodded, distinctly remembering sitting in the X-Jet half frozen and asking Logan if he'd throw her out of the plane if she didn't join their side. It had taken her a while to realize they were willing to help her and care about her, make her a part of their family, without demanding a price for it. "It takes a while to get used to it all," she said.
Remy snorted. "A while is right. Especially with that lovely little assignment your Professor just handed me. Nothin' like settin' the bar high."
Rogue smirked at him. "You sayin' you can't do it, even with Warren helpin' you?"
He tossed her a glare. "I hope your pretty flyboy knows what he's about, chèrie. The last time I worked on tracking Sinister I lost him in a series of shell companies with banks in the Cayman's and addresses listed in mainland China and Dubai. Very interestin' legal system in China."
Rogue rolled her eyes. "I should've known you'd gotten farther than you let on, Swamp Rat."
He smirked humorlessly. "This ain't gonna be a quick project, Rogue. We have the bank accounts from where he paid Scalphunter and Arclight, and some accounts that he might have used for Vertigo and Harpoon. That ain't much, chèrie."
"You already complainin' about how long you're gonna be here?" Rogue asked, proud of herself for making the question sound casual and off-handed, for keeping her body language calm. But she still saw the realization snap in his eyes.
"Non, chèrie. Just that this will be a long term project. We'll be measurin' success in millimeters, not miles. Not sure all of your team realizes that." Remy carelessly tossed the two pillows on top of the comforter, walking toward her, wrapping his arm around her waist and gently tugging her to follow him.
"Your team now, too," Rogue answered, pushing her instinctive defensive reaction away as she grasped his meaning, leaning slightly into him as they headed downstairs, Remy's hand on her lower back.
Remy smiled at her. "Yeah. My team too." He paused for a moment before adding "Still gonna miss sleepin' with you though."
Piotr merely raised an eyebrow, deciding it was safer not to ask why a blushing Rogue had felt the need to punch a grinning Gambit in the gut as they descended the stairs together. He had the distinct feeling that having both of them under the same room was going to result in many similar moments. It would be best for his mental health if he started ignoring them now.
The End. No hating on Scott too much. He's had a rough day. He'll come around...
I've already started working on the sequel. I laid out all the key plot points and scenes while my hair color was processing yesterday. That's a good way to get funny looks at a salon. Start mumbling to yourself about mutants and Sinister while scribbling notes. I hope to start actually writing this shortly, but I may not get much done until after finals the first week in May. So please bear with my delays, but feel free to send me a shout out and remind me to keep working on this! Thank you all so much for all your reviews and favorites and alerts. You guys (gals) are so awesome. I couldn't have gotten through all this without you.