20 Years in the Future:
Professor Xavier looked around at the brightly decorated ballroom and smiled at the banner that was strung across the far wall: It's About Time You Woke Up.
Although it hadn't been confirmed as such, Professor Xavier was confident that the Age of Apocalypse had been averted. He had woken up at the Xavier Institute and found it full of mutants of all ages. Not all of his former students were there to teach and train but those who had moved elsewhere had returned for his wake up party.
Rogue and Gambit, now married, were there with their two children, a boy and a girl of different ages from before, but still named Olivier and Rebecca. One of Olivier's brown eyes had a blue glow. Rogue actually looked her age now, giving the Professor the impression that she hadn't absorbed one of the X-23s this time.
His impression was confirmed when Logan (looking ageless as usual), introduced him to the four young women he'd rescued from a Weapon X storage facility some years ago. He was well pleased to meet Laura and her three sisters again.
Kitty and Piotr were also married, with children. Forge was still single. Bobby and Hank brought dates.
Storm had become more elemental than human.
"My mutation has gone up a few levels since last we spoke, Professor," Storm told him, her voice sounding more like the wind than the human tones he remembered. "I'm becoming one with the elements."
Warren was there with wings of white feathers. He spent his time with a telepathic, purple-haired woman introduced to Professor Xavier as Psylocke.
Jean, Scott, and Emma were present, along with a handful of kids who answered to the last name "Summers".
Magneto was also there, with all three of his children. Pietro seemed to be alone and Professor Xavier chose not to inquire about Crystal. Lorna was engaged to Scott's younger brother Alex. What startled Professor Xavier the most, however, was finding out that Kurt and Wanda had married. They had a daughter, Talia, who had her father's striking appearance.
In between catching up with everyone, Professor Xavier would look around the room and smile. It warmed his heart to see everyone alive and well.
Rogue wandered into the kitchen about midday the following day and found Gambit at the stove, busy cooking.
"Hey," she said. "What are you doing here?"
Gambit turned his head and grinned at her. "Good morning to you too."
"Minor detail. I'm making crepes for breakfast, want some?" he asked.
Rogue nodded. "Sure, thanks. I didn't know you cooked."
"You don't know a lot about me, chère," Gambit replied, turning back to the stove.
"You're right," Rogue said, sitting down at the table. "I still don't know why you're here."
"Stormy graciously invited me to stay for the night when we got back," Gambit replied, removing the freshly cooked crepe from the pan. "She made this offer while we were on the Blackbird but I understand you were busy listening to other voices at the time so..."
"Oh shush you," Rogue said, catching his teasing tone in time to stop from saying something really rude. "I had the psyches of all the X-Men in my head blathering away and Jean's telepathy was picking up even more voices."
"You were shouting like a deaf person," Gambit teased her as he poured more crepe batter into the pan. "Well, a half-deaf person, anyway."
"I couldn't hear myself think, let alone speak, Swamp Rat," Rogue said. "Let it go."
Gambit chuckled. "So, did you have fun? I understand you were able to keep the four Horsemen occupied all by your lonesome."
"Yeah, actually," Rogue said. "It's not often I get to let loose like that, although, I hadn't actually intended on taking on all four of them. I guess that was probably Logan's influence there. He does seem to enjoy taking on multiple targets at once."
"Your voices influence you a lot?" Gambit asked.
Rogue shrugged. "A bit. Comes with the territory, I suppose. Sometimes it works out in my favour, like when I need a crash course in something. Other times it's a pain in the ass."
"I can imagine."
"No, really," Rogue corrected in all seriousness. "You can't."
Bobby entered the kitchen, yawning as he approached. He frowned slightly when he spotted Gambit at the stove.
"Gambit's cooking breakfast," Rogue said, grinning at the puzzled expression on his face.
"Did you want some?" Gambit asked. "I'm making crepes."
"Crepes?" Bobby repeated. "Like... crepes suzette?"
"Nah, it's a little early in the morning to be burning alcohol," Gambit replied cheerfully. "Crepes are very thin pancakes. I was going to have custard and apple crepes myself."
"Oh," Bobby frowned slightly, then added, "and it's the middle of the day."
"Yet, here we are, about to have breakfast," Gambit replied cheerfully.
Others started to turn up. Gambit cooked crepes for everyone who wanted them, having the forethought to make plenty of batter. Scott and Kitty, who had been given a clean bill of health that morning (a 24 hours virus as it turned out), also joined them for what would be their lunch.
"And what are your plans for today?" Storm inquired of Gambit when they were both seated at the table.
"Nothing much really," Gambit replied, promptly filling his mouth with food.
"Drinking, gambling, and women, most likely," Logan said from the kitchen where he was cooking his crepe-free breakfast.
Gambit gave a half shrug in response.
"And after today?" Storm asked, ignoring Logan. "Will you be having a break or finding another... job?"
"Why the twenty questions?" he asked.
"Merely curiosity on my part," Storm replied, looking down at her plate to gather up another bite of crepe on her fork. "I plan to spend the afternoon tending my plants. Thank you for your assistance last... earlier this morning."
Gambit shrugged nonchalantly. "You're paying me."
"Seriously?" Kitty asked from across the table. "Three billion people were going to die and that's all you have to say about it?"
"Speaking of which," Rogue said, glancing back at Logan. "Have we heard back from... ahem... about that yet?"
"Nope," Logan replied.
"What do you want me to say, petite?" Gambit asked Kitty. "Looting wouldn't have been much fun after half the world's population had died?"
"That's horrible!" Kitty said.
"I think the horrible part was three billion people dying from an epidemic," Gambit replied coolly, lifting his fork to his lips. "After that point everyone would have been looting, chaos would have erupted, the economy would've been screwed, and every megalomaniac looking to grab power would have taken advantage of said chaos to do just that."
Gambit didn't notice the X-Men's silence as he chewed his next mouthful.
"Apocalypse," he said thoughtfully after swallowing. "That sounds like a good name for a megalomaniac."
"Does, doesn't it?" Rogue said.
"Ahh good," Hank said, appearing in the doorway of the dining room. "You're all up. Jean's rested and is feeling up to putting Emma back together."
Jean didn't bother waiting for the X-Men to arrive before she started locating all the pieces of Emma's mind to start fitting them together. There was little point anyway as very little happened that anyone would even see.
The X-men started drifting in as each one finished breakfast, including Gambit, who came in with Rogue. Gambit found the sight of Emma's fractured diamond body rather fascinating. At the same time, part of him felt a little sick, knowing that he'd sold pieces of her body to whoever would give him the best deal. He never would have done something like that with a flesh-and-blood corpse. He hoped this would work out.
The process seemed to be quite lengthy, long enough that some started wondering if it was even working. Then there was a gasp, and a moment later, colour filled the diamond body.
"Omigod, you did it!" Kitty exclaimed.
Jean held up her hand towards Kitty in a silencing gesture. All eyes were on Emma.
Slowly, very slowly, Emma moved. She pushed herself up and swung her legs over the side. Hank hurried over before she could get off the bed completely, but he needn't have worried. Emma lifted her head and looked at everyone, but longest at Jean.
"Emma," Scott pushed away from the group and took Emma's hands. "You're alive."
Emma looked at him for a long moment, then back at Jean.
"That was... different," Emma said finally.
Jean smiled, feeling psychically the gratitude that Emma would not bring herself to say aloud.
"You're welcome," Jean said.
Emma took her hands from Scott and sniffed.
"Is there a reason why I smell like sewerage?" she asked, fanned her nose all so briefly, and narrowed her eyes. "And why does this hand smell like crotch?"
Later that day, after Gambit departed, the X-Men gathered around Professor Xavier's comatose body.
"Alright, Chuck," Logan said. "We're all here."
At those words, a large version of Professor Xavier's head appeared above his body.
"I have good news," the Professor told them telepathically, "and some... bad news, if you will. The good news is that the Age of Apocalypse has been averted."
"But it's been replaced by something else bad, right?" Scott asked, sounding half-irritated, half-excited.
"I don't know all that much about the current future," Professor Xavier replied tolerantly, "but I have come to a decision: unless something goes terribly wrong, I will not be contacting you again."
"What? Why?" Bobby asked.
"Because humankind cannot learn from their mistakes if they are prevented from making any," the Professor said. "Besides, it is time for me to start living in the present, and not in the past. Please know that I am very proud of all of you."
He wanted to say more than that, perhaps give each a message of encouragement, but these recent times had shown him just how easy it was to change the future with only a few words.
"Until we meet again, in twenty years from now," he said, a little reluctantly, and then he withdrew from their minds.
"That's it?" said Kitty, looking around disgustedly at everyone. "We stop the virus, and it's 'you did good, I'm going now'? Jerk."
"I think the Professor has become aware of just how easy it is for him to change his time by interacting with us now," Jean said patiently, having caught a little of his frame of mind. "It's difficult, I know, but try not to be too hard on him."
Kitty sighed. "It just feels a little anti-climatic after everything we went through."
"Yeah, I know."
Later still, Rogue was in the middle of reading one of her books in her bedroom when there was a knock at her window. She frowned and turned her head to see Gambit waving at her. Rogue stuffed her bookmark in place, shoved the paperback under her pillow, and got off the bed to open up the window to let him in.
"What the hell are you doing here, Swamp Rat?" she demanded, glaring at him.
"I just wanted to see you," Gambit replied. He glanced around the room and grinned when he noticed her flowers sitting in a vase across the room. "Who got you those? One of your boy toys?"
"Boy toys?" Rogue repeated, then glared harshly at him. "Get out."
"You know," Gambit said wickedly, leaning against the wall. "One of those guys you ask to think dirty thoughts right before you kiss them. You man eater you."
Up until that moment, Rogue had completely forgotten about Matt.
"No," Rogue said tersely, folding her arms across her chest. "I don't know who they're from. Not that it's any of your business."
Gambit grinned at her, pushed off the wall and slid his hands around her waist. He liked the way her face coloured even as she glared defiantly at him.
"I just wanted to know if I should be jealous," he said, moving into her way more than Rogue was happy with. "I got them for you."
"What the hell is your problem?" she demanded. "First you can't stay far enough away from me, and now you're getting too close."
"Just making up for lost time, ma chère," Gambit replied. "Before it was just business. I was being prudent. Now, however, business is over. Well, it'll be over when I get the last payment, and so prudence can go to hell. Have I ever told you just how beautiful you are?"
Rogue pushed him off her. "Get out."
"What's wrong, Roguey?" he asked flirtatiously. "You can dish it out but you can't take it?"
"Screw you," Rogue said, stalking over to the flowers. "I should've known these came from someone just wanting to mess with my head."
She started to throw them to the ground, feeling bitter about getting her hopes up about having a secret admirer. Gambit caught the flowers before they could touch the floor.
"Careful chère," he said. "I actually paid for these."
"Ooooh," Rogue replied sarcastically. "Am I supposed to be impressed?"
"Well," Gambit replied with a half shrug as he put the flowers back. "I am a thief."
Rogue pointed at the window. "Leave."
"Okay," he said, backing towards the window.
"I meant it, leave right..." Rogue paused, blinked and then frowned at him. "Wait, you're actually going?"
Gambit grinned broadly at her.
"Don't worry, chère," he said. "I promise I'll be back and the flowers won't be the last thing you get from me."
"Great," Rogue muttered. "You know, usually guys back off when they find out I'm untouchable."
"Oh good, I get you all to myself then," Gambit said, deliberately raking his eyes over her.
"You don't get me at all," Rogue snapped at him.
"Of course I will," Gambit said, opening up the window for his departure. "We both know you want to be chased, Roguey."
"Do we?" Rogue said, trying to keep a damper down on her brewing excitement. "And even if I did, that doesn't mean you can catch me."
"If I am not a hunter worthy of catching you, then I don't deserve to," Gambit replied. "Fortunately for both of us, I know I have the skills and fortitude to keep up with you."
"You've got nothing, Swamp Rat," Rogue retorted.
Gambit chuckled as he climbed back out the window. He gave her a wink and a flirtatious glance.
"Oh yes," he said. "What a grand pursuit it shall be."
Rogue slammed the window shut behind him. The talented thief quickly escaped her watchful eye as he slipped into the darkness and Rogue allowed a smile to cross her lips.
Mister Sinister watched the security footage once again as Jamie Madrox's duplicates packed up the base. It irked Sinister that he needed to move again, but he didn't want any more surprise visits from the X-Men right now.
He paused the frame and zoomed in on Gambit's face. He was somewhat disappointed that Gambit had teamed up with the X-Men.
"Sir, we're ready to shut down the computers," said one of the duplicates.
"Very well," Sinister replied.
The duplicate paused and then left the room, leaving Sinister alone. Sinister looked at Gambit's face for a long moment before lifting his hand to shut everything off.
"Until next time," he said quietly, "my son."
Thanks to everyone who reviewed. Your words have been much appreciated. And to everyone who read and didn't review, I hope you enjoyed the story.
As for a sequel (because I know people are going to ask): No promises. There's lots of possibilities here, but I'm not going to write one unless I come up with a good story for it, otherwise I'd just be writing one for the sake of it and that would be a chore, heh.
My next story (unless I come up with a one-shot in the meantime) is going to be Gym Class Heroes. It's going to be awhile before I start posting because it's turning out to be much longer than I thought it would be (current estimate is 40 chapters, this is subject to change). For updates on my progress, you can check out my Facebook page - the link is on my profile.