Chapter 24: Drifter

A/N: This originally was part of Chapter 23, but it works more as an epilogue. Please be sure to read the endnotes, I put some interesting stuff in there.

Colossus had been crestfallen when Rogue and Remy broke the news that they were returning home, but he agreed that their friendship would not wane because of it. Xavier was likewise disappointed, but restated that his doors were open to either of them at anytime.

They went home to Carnifex. Upon Rogue's return, her teammates treated her with a mix of pity and suspicion. Avalanche was incessantly dropping hints about his belief that she must have sold them out to Xavier. "Then why ain't they here yet? Why haven't they come in an' kicked your sorry ass?" she retorted, and he had no reply. On one level, she could understand the mercs' concern over the potential threat of the X-Men now knowing about them. What she really couldn't stand was that they all now treated her with kid gloves. Like she would shatter at any moment. When even Cargill gave her sympathetic looks, she'd just about screamed in frustration. Domino and Caliban were still professional towards her, just a little more cautious than before. Lady Mastermind was still a raging bitch to her, but Rogue found that strangely comforting. 'Good to see that some things never change.'

Over the next few weeks, Remy was her rock. He had been there through her whole ordeal, seen what it had done to her, and he insisted that she take a while to get re-acclimated to life amongst the mercenaries. She no longer went on missions. She did recon and research work, and while she occasionally got cantankerous from her inactivity, it kept her stress down and the voices at bay.

"Something still doesn't feel right," she admitted to Remy one morning.

He cocked an eyebrow, unable to ask his obvious question, since his mouth was currently filled with bacon. She smiled a little at that, looking down her almost untouched breakfast that she held on her lap. Sighing, she set it aside on her nightstand. Breakfast together in her room had become a post-breakdown tradition between the two. She couldn't deal with the others' questioning looks that early in the morning, so breakfast in the privacy of her own room with her best friend was her best option.

A memory percolated in her mind, like this morning's Ethiopian blend.

"Remy? Do ya remember when you were trying ta get the other members of Carnifex ta take me in?"

He looked a bit stunned, and swallowed the rest of his bacon. "Yeah. But you weren't dere fo' dat, chere."

"Ah overheard some of it. An' one thing you said back then always stuck with me. That Ah would be good fo' the team because Ah looked like an innocent young girl, but Ah wasn't."

A slight, shamed blush overtook his cheeks, "Ya weren't supposed ta hear dat."

"Yeah, well, Ah ain't supposed ta have a dozen voices in ma head, but Ah do. Point is, that at the time Ah really appreciated it. But over time, Ah realized that, no matter how hard Ah tried to convince myself otherwise, Ah really was innocent back then. Ah didn't know what Ah was doing. But Ah certainly ain't innocent anymore."

An understanding seemed to hit him, and as he forced himself to meet her eyes, she could see his black and crimson eyes filling with unshed tears. "I did dat to ya, didn't I, Rogue?" he asked in an unsteady voice. "I de reason you got blood on you' hands."

"No!" She leapt from her side of the bed to grab both of his arms, placing her face a few inches from his. "That ain't what Ah'm saying, Remy."

'What are you saying, Anna?' A voice she hadn't heard in a long time echoed through her head.

She answered both of them. "Ah'm saying that Ah was so desperate ta be strong an' self-assured, that Ah lost myself fo' a while there. Carnifex was just a place fo' me to be lost. But just like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, Ah had to go through a lot to see how lost Ah really was. Ah think that our time at Xavier's helped me realize that."

"Den why did you want to leave de mansion if it helped you?" He asked imploringly.

She pulled back, a bit stunned. "Ah think Ah just figured something out."


"That ma problem wasn't really with being around the X-Men."

"Den why did we leave dere?" He asked again, this time a bit more angrily.

"It wasn't so much that Ah wanted ta be a mercenary again, it was that Ah wanted ta be myself again. Ah wanted us to be us again."

"You always you, chere. You may have all dem voices in you' head, but you know who ya are."

"But Ah don't always feel like that. Back at the mansion, neither of us was being ourselves, not without being judged." She pouted, "Ah don't like bein' judged."

"Society does that enough to us, eh?"

"But when we got back here ta Carnifex, an' it's the same thing all over again."

"I can talk to dem 'bout it. Well most of dem. Avalanche is a shit-head, probably can't get through ta him –"

"Remy, no. It ain't their fault. Ah just—"

"What? What do ya need, Rogue?"

She smiled up at him, "You. Only you. It's why Ah can be maself 'round here, because this is your home, where you can be yourself."

A slight frown fell upon his face, "Only thing dat makes it home is dat you here."

There was a long silence. "Not much of a reason to stay, is it?"

His expression had changed, from guilty to understanding, but the tears in his eyes remained. Voice cracking, he asked, "You' leaving, aren't you?"

Looking into the eyes she loved, she fought back her own tears, almost unable to push the word "yes" from her lips.

He nodded ruefully. "So where we goin?"

Taken aback by the question, all she managed is a "Huh?" as she sat back on the bed.

"Unless you don't want me wit' you." He said to her, the tears receding from his eyes, countering her befuddled look with one of total sincerity. "You're de best t'ing in ma life. Dere ain't anything here for me if you ain't here. Don't know what will make ya happy, but I'm willing ta try anything you are."

Still stunned, she just stared at him in awe. A million thoughts swirled in her head, only a few of them a result of the other residents in her mind. His sweetness, his dedication, his sincerity all amazed her. She wanted to tell him everything, how lost she felt, how much she appreciated everything that he was to her, how taking this next step with him gave her strength. So many things to tell him, but there would never be enough words. In the end, there were only three words that seemed matter.

"Ah love you."

All the trepidation on his face vanished, a brilliant smile lighting up his features. He brought one gloved finger us to caress her cheek. "Je t'aime, chere."

Something in her, something she thought had died long ago, lit up within her. She had the suspicion that it took the outward form of a particularly goofy grin, but damned if she cared. She leapt forward, giggling, falling into his arms. She buried he head in his chest as he nuzzled her hair. It took her a moment to realize that their grip on one another was so tight that she could barely breath, 'Or maybe that's just what actually being loved in return feels like,' she smiled to herself.

"So you never did tell me where ya want to go, mon amour."

She giggled at his new nickname for her. "Don't know. Don't care. Ah got plenty of money stashed away, should last us a couple of years."

"Savin' your pennies up fo' a rainy day?"

"Can't say Ah liked the mercenary business too much, but it did pay well."

"Dat it did. Got 'bout fifty grand stashed away from de Carnifex gigs."

"Ya ain't a good saver. Even Ah got more den dat."

He pulled her off his chest, just so she could see his smirk. "Ten carat emerald necklaces don't grow on trees, ya know." She scoffed. "'Sides, dat only what I have from Carnifex. Got plenty from my side jobs."

"Uh-huh," she said skeptically, "and how much does thieving pay these days?"

"Got a couple million in de bank."

She pushed away from him with a sudden jerk "A COUPLE MILLION?"

He gave a hearty laugh, "Nice ta see dat money doesn't matter to ya."

"Oh shut it Swamp Rat, Ah'm just surprised, is all." She let the thought roll around her head; she had a hot, charming, millionaire Cajun boyfriend she was running off with. She realized that the goofy smile was back upon her face. "Well, Ah guess that means that wherever we want to go, we don't have to pull any jobs."

"We'll still be outlaws."

"Oh, will we now?"

"Oui. For one, you still underage, an' it illegal ta bring a minor across state lines wit' de intention of corrupting dem."

She rolled her eyes, "Not like ya could 'corrupt' me even if ya wanted to."

"Remy certainly does want to," his chiding dissipating, "and we'll think of some way 'round your powers. Lord know I've spent enough nights awake fantasying about ways ta do just dat."

Her already red cheeks now felt as though they had been burned. "So," she quietly spoke, "No Carnifex, no Xavier, no Magneto, just us."

"Dat sound good to me."

"Me too. Ah should get packin' Ah guess."

"We'll leave tomorrow, Roguey."

She smiled at him, a smile she hadn't used in a long time. "Anna. Ma name is Anna."

Somewhere in the back of her mind, she felt the radiating glow of Cody's smile.

That's all folks! I do plan on writing a sequel, but give me a few months to recover from this one. Sometimes, writing this story was the highlight of my day, other times it felt like pulling teeth. The sequel will take place five years after this story ends and will be far more of an adult romy story. I also plan on replacing my earlier chapters in this story with better edited ones. Hopefully anyone subscribed to this story will not get a bunch of notices, but if you do, please ignore them. I am only changing a few words and sentences, nothing important.

Random facts about this story: Originally I had planned to take Rogue through the age of 25, and have her end up with Magneto - both on his side and romantically. Bet that would have made most of you furious, huh? I also intended to finish this story in three months; it took almost a year. This was the first work of fanfiction I ever started, so I guess I'm allowed to make some mistakes, right?

I would like to thank everyone who read through this story, and I'd love to hear what you think of it now that it's complete. Some specific thank-yous: JasmineBella, lovely smile, tenchi13, AbbyGail, RRL24, CaptMacKenzie, LXS, Marigab, and all my other regular reviewers. I truly appreciated your feedback. Malice Shaw for not only her constant reviews, but other support, and Jess, for some of the most complete reviews I've ever come across. I don't even give that good feedback on papers, and I'm a teacher. :)

The Lyrics to De/Vision's "Drifter" really are perfect to sum up the end of this story, so I feel compelled to add them:

Loneliness calls you

Push the teenage dreams aside tonight

Open the door to

Chase away the demon from your mind

Reality bores you

Go on clinging to this fool's paradise

Feelings don't reach you

Worn out like the girl that drowns in lies

I cannot believe you

All the words you say

Myself won't be the same

I won't play the clown for you

Every single day

Myself won't be the same

Someone adores you

Little girl don't hide before his eye

You're drifting out to

Find a place beyond the rain

And cry