What Dreams Are Made Of

Part 3

*Before*

Charles sat by in silence while Rogue negotiated with Carol. He couldn't have been prouder of her, well, except for her crude language, but he was proud she'd gone against her fear.

After Rogue pulled herself in a ball and bickered with Carol some more, she gained her composure and looked into the hole again.  "All raht, how are we gonna do this?" Rogue asked Carol, her green eye blinking in time with Carol's blue one.

"You're in power here.  You figure it out," Carol spat, although she was anxious of her escape.

Rogue sighed angrily.  "Ah could probably jus' break you outta there…"

"You could," Carol answered a little too quickly.

"But that would destroy the cage."

"How did I know you were going to figure that out?"

Rogue smirked.  "This is mah mind, remember?"

"How could I forget?" Carol stated blandly.

"Okay, lemme try somethin'.  Step back a li'l bit."  Carol pulled away from the hole as Rogue put her two index fingers at the opening of it.  Rogue closed her eyes and thought warm thoughts.  This was her mind and she could do whatever she deemed necessary, regardless of whether she could do it in the tangible world, right?  Warm thoughts, fire, melting.  Rogue felt the heat at her fingertips and willed it to spread.  The cement was thick, at least three inches, nothing paper-thin.  She centered all her thoughts on expanding that hole, just making it big enough for Carol to step through.

She heard Carol giggle and she couldn't decide if it was a good one or not.  She opened her eyes and would have just about fainted if she weren't in her mind.  Carol… well… looked different to say the least.  As she had said before, her own hands had ripped her hair out and it was just growing back in uneven lengths.  Most of it looked like a fresh buzz cut with an old, choppy, electric razor.  She'd diminished into an oddly thin girl, still wearing the white blouse and sky blue pants she wore the day she'd gotten absorbed -- the day she'd gotten trapped.  It was torn, of course, most likely to accommodate Carol's boredom.

"You look as if you've seen a ghost," grinned Carol.  Her teeth looked slightly yellow, but not horribly disgusting as the rest of her.  Rogue attributed that to her mind - maybe she didn't wish to see Carol so… ugly.

"It's just been awhile," Rogue said, holding back a gulp.

"Since you did let me out voluntarily, I guess I can be nice," Carol sighed.  She turned her back for a moment.

"What're ya doin'?"

"Getting your dreams.  Duh.  It's going to take a couple handfuls."

"Handfuls?"

Carol looked at her unbelievingly.  "You really don't know anything about this place, do you?"

Rogue narrowed her eyes.  She wanted to say something similar to "Ah haven't been stuck in here foh a year, thank you" but decided against it.  Carol was being friendly as it was.  She only hoped Carol hadn't heard her - damn, she was feeling apprehensive.

"Here," Carol said.  Rogue reflexively stuck her hands out, palms up.  Carol dumped a handful of orbs into Rogue's pale hands.  Rogue watched as Carol instantly pulled away from her, almost unnoticeably shuddering from the near contact with Rogue's skin.

"You shied away from me," Rogue accused, keeping her face neutral.

"Let's just sat I don't want to find out what would happen if you touched me in here," Carol whispered.  "Look at those and I'll get the rest."

Rogue nodded and glanced down to the orbs in her hands.  They were the size of standard marbles and translucent with a frosted sky blue.  She peered into one in particular.  Images swirled in it like all of other orbs, all swirling too quickly to decipher with a single glance.  Just as she was beginning to organize the images, she felt her whole psychic world jolt.  "Shit!" She screamed and looked to the professor for some sort of logical reasoning on what was happening, but he was gone.  "Stay here," she told Carol as she dropped the orbs onto a pillow she instantly fabricated with a single thought.

"Someone touched you," Carol said, stepping completely out of the cage.

"Who the hell would touch me in this state?"  Rogue suspended herself in the air and looked to the blonde.  The professor couldn't have mistakenly touched me, raht?"

Carol shrugged. "It's hard to say.  I'll stay here.  Do what you need with the intruder."

"The butterflies!  Maybe Ah can stop them…" then she flew out.  "Don't touch the butterflies!" she yelled before actually seeing who it was.  When she saw a glimpse of red blink at her through the fury of silver energy wings, she gasped.  "Remy?"

"Chere?" He called from behind the rush of butterflies soaring towards him.

"Remy, don't reach foh the butterflies.  They'll trap you."

"Dey wan' t' touch me -"

"Get away from him!" She threw her arms apart in a separation gesture and the butterfly cloud split and flew away.  Rogue ran up to him, crouching down beside him.  "What're ya doin' here, Remy?"

"I was scared t' see y', chere.  I didn' want y' t' feel any pain… but I didn' know what t' do t' make all dis stop.  It scared me t' see y' like dat.  I jus' came in an' touched y'… I'm sorry, chere."

"Shh… it's okay, sugah," she soothed.  She materialized gloves on her hands, ones that stretched up to past her elbows.  She pulled him into a hug.  "Don't be scared of him.  He can't get ya in here."  She knew Remy's greatest fear was of Sinister.

"I know," he murmured, laying his head onto her chest.

Rogue began to whisper sadly, "You're not gonna remember this when ya wake up…"

"I know," he repeated, not realizing she was going to continue.

"But Carol's free."

"Quoi!?"

"Yeah… Ah had ta let her out."

"Why!?"

"Foh mah dreams."

Remy lifted his head and looked back to the shack.  Standing in the doorway was Carol, or who he assumed was Carol.  He never really saw much of her when the accident occurred and then again, she looked very different than what he did remember.  "She stole dem?"

"More like kept watch of them.  Ah need ta go see which one Ah've been havin' recently."

"Let me come wit' y'."

Rogue thought about it for a moment.  She really didn't want to be with Carol alone and Remy wouldn't remember a thing when he woke up… but then again, was it harmful to either of them since he wasn't in a cocoon and instead walking freely in her mind?  "All raht," she decided, knowing ultimately he'd have to be trapped later on.  She stood up, pulling him with her.  The butterflies fluttered by anxiously, waiting to take Remy for all he was worth.

"Are you guys coming or what?" Carol asked impatiently.  She was a few steps out of the door, the butterflies staying an obvious distance away from her.  Rogue noticed this, but didn't say a thing.  She slid her hand into Remy's and led him to the shack, the butterflies ever-following.  They looked confused, conversing with each other in an incoherent, inhuman language.  As Rogue stepped up to Carol with Remy, the butterflies that were following him joined those hovering away from Carol.  They were afraid of her status in her head.

"What's wit' dem?" Remy asked, raising an eyebrow to the arch the butterflies had formed.

"I broke out of the first cocoon they put me in.  They're angry with me and frightened of me at the same time.  That's why everything is so instantaneous now.  They're afraid to let anyone slip by like I did and have someone take over the mindscape again."

"How did y' break out?"

"I had too much power - and I was free within moments.  They absorbed me again, but didn't build a cocoon.  It's like they don't have a Plan B incase something were to happen.  That's why they're particularly on their toes now because I fucked things up here enough."

"So," Rogue thought as she went back to what Carol said first.  "You were stuck walkin' around mah head an' that's why is was so dark an' gloomy."

"Because the balance was off.  Naturally I was - am - just a little pissed off with being trapped in this boundless prison – so of course I wanted to screw things up."

"But y' free now."

"I'm as free as I was when I first got here."

"That's why, she's, um, takin' over mah body foh a li'l bit," Rogue told him gently.

"What?!"

Carol grinned proudly.  "It's only for half a day, calm down."

Remy looked at Rogue.  "When de hell did y' come t' dis decision?"

Rogue shrugged shyly.  "She said she would help.  She had mah dreams."

"It's all perfectly legit, Cajun.  Just go with it.  In the meantime until this is completely solved, I'll be a good girl.  I know how taxing this is on Rogue and how much she needs my cooperation."

Remy eyed the blonde cautiously until he was sure she was telling the truth.  "Fine.  Let's get dis over wit'."

"I agree.  Come on, I got the rest of your dreams in the Attic."

"The Attic?  Ah call it the Cellar."

Carol rolled her eyes.  "It's all the same: storage space, dusty.  I just don't like agreeing with you, therefore, I named it on my own.  By the way, Attic is a better name for where you throw your ignored things."

Rogue was about to reply with some nasty retort but then she felt Remy's eyes on her back.  She glanced over her shoulder to him.  "What?"

"Just admirin' de dress," he smirked.

"One track mind, Ah swear," she sighed.  With a wave of her hand, Remy's black T-shirt and jeans were replaced with a Renaissance outfit to fit with her theme– frilly laced shirt, long coat with tails, the works.  "Don't you look dashin' now," she grinned much to his chagrin.

"I liked my ot'er clothes better."

"Tough," she countered, blowing him a quick kiss.

"Ooh!" Carol jumped up and down with fake giddiness.  "Me next!"  Her face instantly fell flat, showing how much she was kidding.

Rogue glared at her and flicked her wrist again, making Carol's clothes whole again.  Carol glanced down.  She mumbled her thanks after she quickly examined her new threads and kept walking.  Rogue and Remy followed her inside the Cellar – Attic – whatever – and Rogue instantly saw all the additional orbs on the floor. Between the chests and cabinets and then the orbs, there was barely room to walk.  Rogue floated, while Carol and Remy managed to keep up on either side of her.  Carol couldn't help but glare at Rogue out of the corner of her eye.  How dare she use my powers blatantly?

"Y' should know which one it is, right?" Remy asked Carol.

"I mixed it in with the others after I was done watching it."

"How often do ya watch it?" Rogue asked, almost accusingly.  If Carol watched it repeatedly, maybe that was why Rogue was dreaming it every night.

"A new one comes every night, so it's not a matter of me watching it that makes it a reoccurring dream.  When one dream gets placed next to the exact copy of it, it falls apart into small glass particles and then its useless to watch."

"Sorry."

Carol shrugged.  "How would you have known?  Anyway, I have this system of catching your dreams because otherwise they would have just floated around aimlessly."  She walked back to her cage and picked something up.  She came back to the center of the room and presented it to Rogue.  It was the torn remains of Carol's clothing wrapped in her blonde strands.  "The orbs stick to really baby fine particles – well, I assumed that it would at first.  But I just fed this through my hole and started catching them.  It's like having a new movie everyday."

"So… goin' back t' my original question dat I asked five minutes ago…"

"Not a clue, Cajun."

"T'anks," he scowled.  Rogue placed a feather light hand on his shoulder.

"Shh…"

He nodded, relenting.  "I guess we better get t' work den," he sighed, kneeling down.

"What should we be lookin' foh pointedly?"

"I remember seeing that dress, and you're about two feet shorter.  Your hair is longer, too."

Rogue thought about it for a moment.  "Then Ah was about seven?"

It was Carol's turn to think.  "I suppose.  Why?"

Rogue sighed.  "Ah need that one, then.  Ah just found out some shit went down when Ah was seven."

Carol's head tilted to the side, her blue eyes curious.  "What happened?  Do you think actually think that this dream is connected to Sinister?"

Remy's arm sneaked around Rogue's waist and he pulled her close, ever so gently.  Just hearing the name uttered in the slightest way made him uncomfortable.  "You've seen them, Carol," Rogue spoke up.  "What happens in the one Ah'm talkin' about.  You've been watchin' them foh Gawd knows how long."

Carol blinked, her face falling to the ground and avoiding Rogue and Remy's eyes.  "He's not actually in the dream, but you can tell that through symbols that it's him causing it."

"Carol… help me find it.  Please." Rogue looked at her with sincere eyes – she was practically pleading with her.

"It's gonna be hard.  In the long run it'll be you who does the final deciding of which dream it is."

"What do you mean?"

"I only get to watch it once and then I put it away in the pile with the rest of them.  I know which dream it is, but it's not as if it has emotional value to me.  Once you see it, you'll know what dream it is that's been haunting you.  If I see it, I can easily brush it off and go to the next one.  Do you know what I'm saying?"

Downhearted, Rogue replied, "yes.  Foh some reason Ah figured this wasn't gonna be easy."

Carol snorted a laugh.  Her face became somber again, and then she added, "I can help you narrow it down though.  We'll probably be in here for a long time, though."

"Ah'm willin' ta do whatever it takes.  Ah've gotta know."  She looked up to Remy, who nodded solemnly in response.  She knew this would be hard for him, even though it was her dream that had Sinister in it.  Carol said there were symbols – Rogue had no doubts that Remy would be able to pick them up on his own.  "Remy," she whispered.  "Ya gonna be okay?"

He nodded again. 

"Tell me that you are."

"I'll be fine," he said in a barely audible voice. 

She leaned up and kissed the side of his face through his hair.  "Ah know you'll be.  You're the one who has ta keep me sane, an' Ah know you'll be able ta do that."

A small smile came to his face.  "Merci, chere."  He held her closer for a moment.

Carol sighed loudly to break them up.  "Are you ready to get started?"  She was beginning to get impatient.  The sooner they solved this, the sooner she would have complete freedom, even if it was only for a little more than half a day.

Rogue looked at her with determined eyes.  "Yeah.  Let's get this ovah with."

On the other side, Mystique was going insane with worry as Xavier attempted to get into Rogue's mind once again.  "Well?" She was pacing back and forth, arms crossed over her chest.

"I find it hard to concentrate with you asking me about the status of my mind scan every five seconds, Raven.  I'm going to need a bit more patience from you."

She held back a snarl and continued pacing.  Ororo watched her intently, holding Remy's prone body.  She wanted to ask the professor about his progress, but Mystique was doing enough asking for the both of them.  Instead, she gently stroked Remy's hair, and hoped he would wake up soon.

"Her mental shields are equivalent to Remy's now.  She hasn't manifested his powers otherwise though."

"What do you think that means?" Mystique asked, worried.  "Is it something Carol might be doing in her mind?"

Xavier replayed all of the information he had gathered during his travels in Rogue's mind.  He remembered the butterflies and how they would absorb the power and memories of the entity and then give it to her.  "It is possible that she hasn't fully absorbed him," he tossed out as an idea.

"How is that even possible?  He touched her, he's knocked out, therefore she absorbed him," Mystique said with an incredulous look on her face.

"You don't know how her mind works.  Up until I entered her mind, neither did I."

"Then I suppose you've been doing a wonderful job helping her with her powers," she scoffed.

"That's not fair," Ororo responded defensively.  "Rogue has been intolerant to help from the professor and you know it.  She's been against telepaths since the moment she stepped inside the institute doors."

"You sound as if you don't like her too much, wind witch," Mystique snarled in defense of her daughter. 

Ororo blinked.  "I didn't mean it like that.  What I meant was that she doesn't like her head peeked at.  I can tell you're the same way."  Her crystal blue eyes narrowed.  "Also I don't appreciate the name calling."

Mystique rolled her eyes at her last comment.  "I don't trust anyone with telepathic powers."  She side-glared at Xavier.  "There's just something that's ungodly unnerving about someone poking about your innermost thoughts.  You can't blame me for worrying about my daughter like that."

It was Ororo's turn to scoff.  "It seems you've picked the perfect time to worry about her."

In a flash, Mystique was across the room, face to face with Ororo.  "You can call me a thief, a conniving bitch for all I care, but don't you dare insult my parenting.  I know I've done wrong there, and I don't need someone like you to tell me so.  I took care of my children the best I could with my lifestyle."

Ororo stayed calm, which was hard because she despised Mystique so much.  "I would hardly call that taking care of your children well.  You abandoned one in Germany to be taken care of by strangers and the other one was left in the South to be ripped out of her room in the middle of the night.  Not only that, but you lied to her when we tried to recruit her."

Mystique lifted her hand as if to strike, but thought better of it.  "Is it my fault I didn't want to lose my daughter to the same people who had my son?  I'm so very sorry if I wanted to spend some time with her on my team."  Her tone was sarcastic and cynical, but Ororo thought nothing of it.

"Regardless… do you really think she's ready to take you back?  That Kurt is ready to take you back?  You show up randomly and hope that all is well because you've had this change of heart.  I wouldn't even forgive my own mother for such a deed."

Mystique held her hand up to her temple.  "Just stop it, alright.  I'm tired of this bullshit."  She turned back to Xavier, signaling she was through listening to Ororo.  "Have you gotten anywhere yet?"  She was almost screaming.

"I have not," Charles responded calmly, despite her outburst once again.

"Then I'm going to have a smoke."  She slunk out of the room, even though she wanted to stomp like a little child.  She walked straight into Pietro, who was holding her pack of cigarettes. 

"I'd figured you want these eventually…" he said, handing them to her.

She considered snatching them out of his hand, but instead opted for being calm this time around.  "Thank you."  She ruffled the pack and snatched a single cigarette out.  "There're two missing."

"Blame Remy."

Mystique rolled her cream white eyes.  "And Rogue claims she got him to quit."  With a quick glance around, she whispered, "If anyone's looking for me, pretend I'm you, got it?"

"Uhh, sure?"

With a smile, she shifted into the white haired mutant and strolled outside.  Unfortunately for her cover though, a certain pair of golden eyes watched the whole exchange…

Rogue had tossed aside fifty dreams with no success.  Carol had helped in narrowing it down to about a hundred orbs, but that still left half the pile for Rogue to look through.  What Rogue hadn't realized were that day dreams were in here too, making it even more difficult to discover the one dream that had been haunting her.  Carol had pretty much grabbed the more recent dreams and thrown them in Rogue's direction to figure out what was in them.

"Simple dreams fade over time," she had said when they began.  She had held up a more recent dream with one that Rogue had dreamed over a year before.  "They always stay, but see how this one," she motioned to the hand with the older dream. "…is a bit fuzzier and grayer than the other one?  I can give you the newer ones.  Since this dream is reoccurring, it'll be bright along with the newer ones."

Remy was quiet the entire time, just staring over Rogue's shoulder.  Nothing stood out for him, and that comforted Rogue into thinking she hadn't missed anything.  Some of the dreams had him in it, whether they were being intimate and actually touching, or if they just happened to be having fun at a picnic.  Regardless, Remy didn't make any coy comments about it.  He knew it wasn't the time, and Rogue was appreciative of that as well.

"Ah think Ah need a break," Rogue sighed, falling back against Remy.

Carol nodded.  "It's really tedious work, I know.  It's interesting when I watch them, but then when it was the only thing I could do stuck in that cement box, it got a bit boring to say the least."  She toyed with a piece of her blonde hair that was shorter than the rest.

Rogue thought about it for a moment.  "Do ya have any sort of power in here that Ah don't know about?"

Carol narrowed her eyes slightly.  "Are you implying something?"

Rogue shook her head.  "Ah'm just curious.  It's jus' a bit more than obvious that Ah don't know everythin' that goes on in here.  Ah know the butterflies an' cocoons, Ah know how energy is transferred ta me, Ah know you were back here along with mah darkest fears – which Ah luckily didn't stumble upon while searchin'.  That's the extent of mah knowledge."

"What makes you think that I would have any more power than say, Remy here?"

"Ah absorbed you all the way.  Duh.  Don't play dumb with me.  Ah know from what Ah first got from ya that you were on the top of yoah class back in Boston."

"Dat an' I be fadin'."

Rogue turned to face him.  "Remy?"

"I'm tired, chere.  It feels like it's takin' too much energy t' stay wit' y', y' know?"

As much as she wanted him to stay with her and help her through this, she had no idea how his body was dealing with him being stuck alive in her mind.  He probably should have woken up minutes ago, but since he was still in her mind walking about, he was no doubt still unconscious in the conscious world.  "Okay, sugah."

She stood up and extended her hand down to him.  He nodded to her and accepted her it.  She pulled him up and began to lead him out the door.  He turned slightly and waved to Carol.  "It was nice t' actually meet y' after all dis time."

The blonde nodded.  "Same, I guess.  The dreams don't lie about you."

Remy blinked, trying to understand what she meant.  She giggled.  Rogue tugged him out of the Cellar.  She pulled him into the meadow of cocoons again.

She was about to let go of his hand, but then whispered, "Ah wanna try somethin'."

Remy's held tilted slightly to the side.  "What, chere?"

She bit her lip innocently.  "Ah wanna try kissin' ya here."  Before he could answer, she added, "Ah know ya won't remember it, but Ah just wanna see the effects of it."

"What if it keeps me from m' body?"

"Ah don't think it will.  Just… jus' let me do this, okay?"

He smiled warmly.  "Anyt'in' for y'.  Whenever y' ready."

Rogue didn't know why she made the request, but it brought her back to how Carol had shied away from her, even in her mind.  Unsure of how to go about the kiss, she decided to go simple.  She stood on her tiptoes and brushed her lips against his.  The crackle of electricity and fluttering of wings scared her and startled Remy, but neither dared to pull away.  It was then she began to feel him dissolve.  Before he was completely gone, she opened her eyes to see he had broken apart into butterflies of his own.  There was no new cocoon, and the already present butterflies seemed to have welcomed the Remy ones into their pack.

"Wow."  Rogue turned and saw Carol standing in the doorway of the Cellar.  A Remy butterfly, red and black, of course, fluttered near Carol's arm and combusted at once when it came into contact with her skin.  The blonde smiled maliciously.  "That's what you get, you li'l bitch."

Rogue frowned.  She had hoped these newer butterflies would have served the same purpose of the original ones.  Instead, it seemed as if they were weaker.  It's not as if Ah had expected them ta appear, but it would be nice if they could've been even the slightest bit useful.

She extended her hand towards one of them, and it landed willingly.  It did not combust.  However, it did melt into her hand and cause it to glow.  Curious, Rogue fabricated a small pile of stones by her bare feet.  She bent down and picked one up, allowing the energy in her hand to transfer over.  The rock began to glow brightly and then Rogue threw it further than her or Carol could see.

She turned back to Carol.  "That was cool," the blonde girl commented sincerely before turning back into the shed.

Meanwhile, back in the library, Remy awoke with a start.  He began flailing wildly out of Ororo's grasp, as if he were falling apart.  "Remy?  What's wrong?" Ororo asked, concerned as she tried to get out of his way.

He calmed down instantly, trying to remember.  "I don' know…" His hand immediately went up to his lips as well, although he didn't know why.  He looked to her, and then the professor. 

The professor had pulled away from trying to break through Rogue's mental shields, as she had finally manifested Remy's physical power.  However, Rogue had still not woken up from the trance.  Wordlessly, Remy stood up, wavering the slightest bit, but still managed to pick her up.  Not thinking all too brightly, he stumbled with her into the kitchen, although it had proven to be mutant proof in the past.

"Chere, wake up."  He didn't remember a thing from being in her mind, so he had no idea why she still hadn't woken up or that Carol was out or what they were looking for before he left.  He grabbed a spoon off the counter and placed it into her hands.  He waited for the potential energy on the spoon to become kinetic, and then he grabbed the spoon from her.  Within seconds, he was up at the window, throwing the hot spoon outside.  He heard a nice explosion before returning to Rogue's side.  "Why ain' y' up?"  He was beginning to worry.  Usually forced absorption would wake her up from a trance, or so he assumed.  To him, he was only unconscious for a matter of moments, even though Xavier had been trying to get into Rogue's mind for at least a half hour.

"She's too deep in her mind, Remy.  A jolt like that would've woken her up if she was sleeping, but it's a different type of consciousness that she's in," Xavier explained, appearing in the doorway.

"Can y' wake her up?"

"Not with the mental shields she has now, compliments of you," he rolled towards the couple.

Remy hung his head a bit.  "Sorry.  Wasn' t'inkin'."

"I know this is hard on you, but we'll all have to deal with it.  What's important now is that Rogue wakes up after she finds what she wants.  The only thing is, she'll have to find it on her own."

"She's in dere all by herself?  Dat'll take f'rever."

"… You don't recall anything?"

"Dat's how her mind works.  She'll remember it, but de person goin' in has no knowledge comin' out."

"That makes sense."  Xavier weighed the option of telling him about Carol.  Would he explode?  But he did have a right to know…  "I'm sure she's not alone in there, Remy.  Maybe there's a piece of you helping," he offered encouragingly. 

"Somehow I be doubtin' dat now, Professeur."

Mystique leaned against the same wall Remy had been leaning against no more than an hour before, shakily smoking her second cigarette in the last five minutes.  It was somehow more enjoyable to her in Pietro's form.  Like I'm disgracing him, she thought maliciously.  Serves him right, being the spawn of that monster.  If only Erik could see his darling boy now…

"Having fun, Pietro?"

Mystique blinked away her menacing thoughts of her former employer and looked to the voice.  Kurt.  "Yeah.  You know how it is.  Stress."

"Of course," Kurt said, unimpressed.  "We usually just do ze Danger Room zing when ve're stressed."

Think like Pietro.  "Well, we don't have a fancy basement with all those goodies, now do we?"

Kurt sighed.  "Drop it, Mozzer."

Her eyes blinked to solid white.  She sighed as she shifted back into herself. "Was I that unconvincing?"

"You could say zat."  He reached over and snatched her cigarette from her hand without another thought.  Quickly, he dropped it and snuffed it out with his tail.  "Zose are bad for you," he chided.

"You and your sister," Mystique sighed loudly.  "Don't tell me you have some girlfriend that you got to quit as well."

Kurt was quiet for a moment.  "Amanda never started."

This piqued Mystique's interest.  "Amanda? So there is someone?"  While she'd been keeping a close eye on Rogue through Risty, it was harder to keep taps on her son with the same alias.  She had tried once, but Kurt simply hadn't taken well to the British girl.

"Zere is.  Amanda Sefton."

She turned the name over and over in her head.  It was vaguely familiar.  Right!  She was in the one math class that I "subbed" for a few months ago.  As far as she knew, the girl was human.

"Does she have any powers?"  She tossed out lightly.

"Nein.  She's human."  His eyes narrowed.  "Don't start saying you vould prefer me vith a mutant.  Zhat's outright close minded!"

"I didn't –"

"You vere going zhere.  She also knows ze real me und doesn't have a single problem vith it," he huffed.

Mystique bit back a sigh.  It's time to tell him.  "Kurt… we need to talk."

"Ya zink?" he retorted.

"For real this time.  No more of this self pity from me, no more beating around the bush."  Kurt's golden eyes blinked up at her.  "Do you want to know what happened in that castle?"

More zan anyzing, he wanted to say, but settled for a nod.

Mystique glanced around.  "Is there anywhere we can sit down that's a bit further from the front door?"

Kurt nodded again, placing his hand on his mother's arm.  Before she could react, there were gone in a puff of smoke.

Rogue sighed, following Carol back into the Cellar.  Carol had taken a seat on the floor next to the orbs she had separated into the "new" pile.  "It's nice to see that the new butterflies have no effect on me," she smiled, playing with one of the older orbs in her hand.

"Ah didn't think they would," Rogue said, sitting down on the other side of the pile.  "That'll be cool ta try with others though.  Because now Ah'm thinkin' that if Ah do that ta people, Ah'll be able ta tap into their powers whenever Ah want, ya know what Ah mean?"

"Yeah, that would be neat.  It would really be a matter of keeping the regular butterflies away from them until you were to come in here and absorb them in your mind."

Rogue thought about it.  "You're raht.  Ah'm not usually unconscious when Ah'm absorbin' people, so Ah wouldn't be in this part of mah mind."

"You could probably just work on it.  Get some new techniques going, or something."

"Ya could probably help."

"What do you mean?" Carol's eyebrow rose in inquiry.

Rogue smiled.  "Think of it like bein' a greeter of somesorts.  Ya know, 'Hi, an' welcome ta Rogue's mind.  If ya would please wait ta yoah left, she'll be here ta show ya yoah stayin' place'." She shrugged.  "Ah hate it when things sound better befoh sayin' them."

Carol laughed.  "Yeah, that was a bit corny.  But actually, if I were to intercept the person before the butterflies got to them, the butterflies would stay clear away since they're so frightened of me already."

"Yeah… Ah fohgot that part.  So no need foh stupid openings then," Rogue smiled.

"Exactly.  I figured you would've known me better than that."

Rogue was quiet for a moment.  "Ya know Ah'm sorry, raht?"

The blonde girl nodded.  "Yeah, I know.  You've told me a thousand times and a half."

"But ya know every time Ah was sincere."

"Yeah.  That's the crappy part.  It would be easier to hate you if you were lying to me," Carol scowled.

Rogue picked up an orb and knew, through a quick glance, it wasn't the right dream.  She placed it down in her discard pile.  "Ah think it'll be interestin' when Ah let ya have mah body.  What kinda things will ya do?"

Carol grinned.  "There's some things I have in mind…"

Rogue's eyes widened.  "You're not plannin' on humiliatin' me, are ya?"

"Hey, hey, let's just say anything I do will make up for locking me up in the back recesses of your mind, okay?"

Rogue bit her lip.  "That does sound fair…  Ah'm allowed ta be a bit apprehensive though, raht?"

Her grin turned even brighter.  "Apprehensive is an understatement, sugah," she giggled.

Despite Carol's obvious threat, Rogue smiled.  "Yeah, Ah knew Ah would regret it.  But it'll all be in good fun."

"If you say so," Carol muttered with a smirk.

"What was that?"

"Nothing.  Just know that it'll go further than simple things."

"What, like makin' me wear pink an' everythin'?"

Carol laughed.  "Much further than that.  That's only the beginning.  Remember, I have thirteen hours, girly."

"Ah know.  Don't remind me," she groaned lightheartedly.  She picked up another orb idly and glanced at it.  Carol was about to open her mouth with another cynical idea, but Rogue shrieked.  "This is it!"  There was Rogue, as Carol had described: the dress, the longer hair done in curls and she was of course younger.  Rogue pressed her nose against the orb trying to get the best look she could at the small thing.  "Is there any way Ah could blow this up?" Rogue asked desperately.

Carol nodded mutely.  She got up and went back into her cage and disappeared behind the wall.  She came back with a small box made of glass.  "What's that?"

"Remember how I said the exact copied dreams falls apart into glass?  After awhile I got sick of squinting at all the dreams too… so I made this."  She placed it in front of Rogue.  She left again momentarily to the cage and brought back the lamp she had in there.  Rogue didn't know before that there had been any source of light for Carol in there, but she was kind of happy that she didn't spend all those days in complete darkness except for what came in the hole she'd made.  "It's pretty much a film projector.  Can I see the dream?"

Rogue nodded and delicately dropped it into Carol's hand, even though she had gloves on.  Carol took the orb and placed it in the center of the box.  "Carry the lamp," she gently told Rogue as she walked over to the other side of the cage.  "It'll be easier to see against the whitish background," she explained while Rogue handed her the lamp.  Rogue only nodded while Carol set everything up.  She idly noted how Carol's mood had changed from cynical to understanding with Rogue's own somber mood.

"Is there sound with it?" she asked quietly to break the silence.

"It'll pretty much come to life on its own.  You know how when you're actually dreaming, it doesn't seem like you hear anything, but just the actions and mouths moving help depict the story?  That's exactly what this is like."  Rogue nodded again and sat down behind the box and lamp.

"Why do Ah have the feelin' this is gonna hurt?"

Carol didn't know what to say.  She knew Rogue had her vulnerable moments, and this was definitely one of them.  It made it hard for her to dislike her in any way, because she was sure if the same thing had happened to her, she would've wanted someone to help her along the way.

Cautiously, Carol sat next to Rogue.  "I know I'm not the person you wanted to sit down and watch this with… but I am here if you need someone," she whispered.

Rogue didn't look away from the discolored wall, but Carol swore she saw the corners of the Southerner's lip turn up into a small smile.  "Thank you, Carol.  Ya have no idea how much Ah appreciate that."  Rogue knew they were far from being best friends, but hearing her say that made her feel the tiniest bit better.  However, she knew the task at hand was grim.

Carol gave her a small smile in return.  "Don't mention it."

Mystique and Kurt reappeared on a bench in the middle of the lush gardens of the institute.  "Is zis remote enough?"

Mystique glanced around warily.  "It is."  She sat down on the bench and motioned for Kurt to take a seat as well.  It took Kurt a second to oblige, but then he did.

"Okay… so can we please get zis over vith?"

She sighed then nodded.  "Do you want me to be overly blunt and just say things in one sentence?"

"I vould prefer zhat."

"All right."  She took a deep breath.  "Magneto genetically experimented on you.  I originally went to him because I was a naïve girl with two babies, one of whom I was certain was a mutant – you.  Your hair," she flicked her fingers toward his longer, dark blue strands. "Was already beginning to show in your first few weeks.  I didn't know if you would be a shapeshifter like me, and I didn't want you to live with such an outstanding mutant quality as blue hair.  So… I took you to Magneto in hopes that he would be able to alter your genetic code to basically make you human."

"He told you zhat he could und you believed him?"

"The word 'naïve' was in that monologue, thank you.  This was before I was the big, bad terrorist with a grudge against humans, Kurt."

"Fine, I'm sorry, continue," he snorted.

Mystique took a shaky breath. Now comes the hard part.  She'd been regretting this every day for the last seventeen years.  My children are getting so old… and I missed them growing up.  It caused her to sigh again.  Kurt gave her an "I'm waiting" look.  "He's the reason you look the way you do today."  Her voice was strong, though inside she wanted to cry.  Especially after Kurt did nothing for a full minute.  She could tell the instant that it did get through to him though.

"He… I'm… Blue… vhat?!"  Kurt looked at his hands, grabbed at his tail, felt his ears, licked his teeth, pointed out every possible oddity he had that separated him from every other human being or mutant on the world.  "He did this to me?!  How?!"

Mystique stayed strong.  "I don't know.  I let him do what he did, expecting a cure, and when I came back… you were all blue and furry… with a tail… and were looking at me with golden eyes…  I-I didn't know how to deal.  So I ran.  I ran with you in my arms, I didn't know where and soon you were gone."

"Because you dropped me."  He wasn't loud at all, but his voice was ice cold.  It stung Mystique much more than any raised voices could.

She nodded wordlessly.  "I didn't mean to… I lost grasp and then you were gone… forever."

"Ja.  Forever."  He stood up, pacing back and forth, tail jetting this way and that.  "You're not expecting forgiveness, are you?"

She could only shake her head.

"Good.  Now… vhat caused you to be so against humans in ze long run if you knew my foster parents vere humans?"

"… After I lost you, I knew I wasn't fit to be a mother.  Rogue was already in the care of Irene and her family, so I called her up and told her to just watch her… Irene already knew it was coming."  She always liked to tell me the outcome of things after they happened.  Not many people realize how cynical she is.  "Magneto found me a couple days after the incident.  I didn't know what to think… I just let him take me in.  I learned from him and started over.  Soon you and Rogue weren't on my mind as much as you should've been, but I still thought about you regardless.  I would contact Irene every now and again to get some readings from her about you since she had full control of her precognitive abilities by then, and to see how Rogue was doing, but it was just all mandatory priorities… nothing about my life was maternal at all.  I just didn't know how to cope with motherhood after bringing not one, but two children into this world at once."

"… How old vere you?"

"I'd just turned seventeen when I found out I was two months pregnant."

"Zat only makes you…"

"Just over thirty-four."

"Wow… for some reason I never knew zat."  He was quiet for a moment.  "You veren't raped or anyzing right?  Rogue said you didn't know who our vater is…"

She shook her head with earnest.  "No!  It was nothing like that.  I was careless one night, that's all.  I didn't really start to take control of my life until Magneto pointed me in the right direction."

"And now you're against him," Kurt stated flatly.  "You finally decided zat it was time to break free of his dominance over you?"

She nodded.

"You can understand zat zis is all very hard for me to take, you know.  I don't know vhether to believe you or not."

"You want proof?"

"If you have it, sure."

"Okay… I need for you to list someone your sister has absorbed that has caused her to manifest their actual physical attributes."

Kurt thought about it for a moment.  "There vas ze time she came home all furry from absorbing Sabretooth because Evan is an idiot sometimes."

Sometimes?  "That's a perfect example.  Now, Rogue adopted his physical features because they're natural to him, part of his powers, and so on.  She's absorbed you in the past, correct?"

"… And didn't turn blue…"  He looked at Mystique with wide yellow eyes.  "It's true, zen?"

"I wish it wasn't, but I wouldn't make up something like this just for the chance to talk with you for more than five minutes."

"I need somezing to drink."  Kurt sighed, sitting back down.  He didn't know what to express as a valid feeling in his mind.  He was hurt, angry, confused… anything negative he could think of was coming to mind.  Did he cry?  Should he lash out?  What would happen if he tried attacking her?  I couldn't…

"I should, um, check how Xavier is doing with Rogue and see if he's gotten any progress of getting into her mind."

Kurt nodded.  "I zink I'm just going to stay here und zink…"

"Okay.  Should I tell anyone that you're here?"  Kurt only shook his head.  "All right."  She lifted her hand up to pat his head, but quickly dropped it without him noticing the subtle action.  He wouldn't respond to anything positively concerning her showing physical maternal affection towards him.  Not now.  "I guess I'll see you in a bit then."

"Ja."  She began to walk away, only looking back once.  Kurt's three-fingered hands cradled his head. A single moon-struck tear would've been seen trailing down his arm, but it absorbed into his fur without even an innocent view to the world.

"How do Ah get it ta start?"

"Just will it to."

"Okay."  Rogue wasn't quite sure how to do it, but Carol made it seem easy enough.  She concentrated on the orb and in simple words, told it to start.  Her voice boomed around them.  "You're thinking too hard about it," Carol commented.

"Sorry."

"Don't worry about it.  It helps if you put your finger tip on the box… so you can center the thoughts into it."

Rogue nodded and did so.  The glass seemed so delicate under her gloved finger.  Go ahead… she whispered to it.

Without warning, the wall in front of them was filled with color, swirling together until the distinct picture of Rogue playing in a field was before them.  She was wearing the black dress, but it wasn't torn.  It was very baggy and loose on her, however, so Rogue figured it came from Irene's clothing chest that she would play dress up with when she was that age.  Her hair was half pulled back in a ponytail, the rest of it falling out, every which way in a curly mess.  The white forelocks stood out as always. 

She was picking flowers randomly and humming to herself happily.  Then she heard a thump.  Blinking, she looked up from the bouquet of flowers in her hand to where the sound had come from.  Dropping the flowers as if she hadn't been solely concentrated on them for the last hour, she stood up and followed the noise.  It thumped again, louder this time, as she was closer to sound.  She found herself standing in front of the small forest that led to the river.  Rogue glanced back, checking to see if anyone was watching her, as she wasn't supposed to venture close to the river on her own.  She needed to know what that noise was though.

With a slight giggle, she crossed the border that led her into the forest.  She once again checked behind her, expecting someone to call for her to come back.  Her smile faded when she realized that she was alone though.  She stepped back towards the field, unsure of whether to go back or not, but then she heard the thump again, which decided for her that she was going towards the river once again.

"Hello?" She called out in a small voice.

There was another thump in response.

Smiling, Rogue knew she was close.  Her speed quickened through the brush, her dress tangling among the short bushes and low branches, causing her dress to rip and tear.  There was another thump, and it was almost on top of her.  "Ah'm close," she whispered to herself as she ran.  Suddenly, time slowed for her as she reached the river.  She caught herself on a branch before she flung herself into the river with her speed and momentum.

Panting, she looked up and down the river, but there was nothing out of the usual.  No more thumping, no odd noises at all, just water flowing down the river with its little waterfalls at sporadic points.  She sighed, remembering the flowers she'd abandoned for pretty much nothing.  She steadied herself on the ground and turned around, ready to walk.  However, she walked straight into a shadow.  Startled, she fell back a few steps that landed her in the river.  Luckily, Irene's younger sister had taught Rogue how to swim, so she didn't falter in the water long.  Instead, she set herself in a simple tread and looked up at to what she bumped into.

It was a man, dressed in all black.  His skin was pearl white, with jet black hair and demon red eyes.  Once she had gotten a good look at him, she was truly afraid.  She turned and attempted to swim across to the other side, but she was caught up in the current.  Before she started going downstream, she heard the man's laughter.  It was hollow and menacing.

She thought to herself, "What is he doin' here?  Was he the one makin' those noises?"  It didn't seem to matter to her that she was being taken away from her part of the forest, the field, her home.  It did occur to her though, when she suddenly felt herself being dragged under the water.  "No!" She cried out with her mouth full of water.  She managed one more breath of air before she went under again.

She didn't know how long she fell.  Soon water didn't seem to be flowing around her and pushing her down.  It was almost as if it was a failed attempt at flying and she was just plain falling.  She started to scream, high and piercing.  Is this the end? She thought.

She thought it was the end, until she landed on something soft and fluffy.  The impact frightened her, so she lay still for a moment until she regained her composure.  She sat up, realizing she was sticking slightly to the pillow she'd landed on.  She sniffed the air and her nose filled with the scent of sugar.  "Ah'm on… marshmallows?"  It took her a second to convince herself, and then she was smiling again.  She took a handful and popped it in her mouth, enjoying how it seemed to melt into fluff once it connected with her tongue.  It made her long for peanut butter to go with it, but it was all good to her.  Rogue momentarily wished Irene were there so she could share it with her foster mother, and then remembered how far she was from home.

"Enjoying the treat?"

It was the same hollow voice from the man at the river.  Rogue looked up, gray-green eyes wide open with fear.  Her mouth was still half full of marshmallow, so she swallowed it in one big gulp.  "Who are ya," Rogue asked, pushing her fear behind her strong voice. 

The man smiled, his mouth full of pointed, yellow stained teeth.  "You may call me Essex, my dear."  He took a step toward her and she stumbled back among the marshmallows.  The pile became stickier and more viscous, trapping her so she couldn't get away.  She looked up at Essex, her eyes showing the fear she had earlier attempted to swallow.

"Why am Ah here?" Rogue somehow managed to say as the marshmallows started to crawl over her skin, consuming her.  The rags of her dress were gone already, and so were her legs.  She was afraid that if she didn't keep talking, she would soon be lost in them as well.

"You are a strong girl, aren't you," he said, close enough to cup her chin with his cold hands.  "And you know what?  You're going to be able to do anything you want."

She blinked tears back.  The stench of this man was awful, like a dead fish and vomit.  The marshmallows seemed to absorb the scent off him and now she was drowning in it.  "What do ya mean?" She coughed, fighting the bile that had risen in her throat.

"You're a special girl.  And I'm going to make sure you never forget that."  He released her face harshly and allowed the marshmallows to overpower her.  She tried kicking and screaming more, but she lost the fight against it.  She managed one final scream before the tainted marshmallows made their way through her mouth and suffocated her.

Rogue screamed as everything came back to her.  She didn't know how the dream was lost, nor how the memory of that night came back, but now she knew.

She looked at Carol with wide eyes, tears threatening to fall.  "Ah'm tryin' ta understand…"

Carol gulped quietly, unsure of what to do.  "What do you think happened that night?"

"Ah know what happened… he's the reason why Ah haven't been able ta control it.  Why you," she pointed at Carol. "Why you're stuck in here, because Magneto knew what Sinister did ta me.  He knew how ta get you ta stay in mah head an' never get out."  She stood up, not knowing if she should cry or scream again.

"Wait, wait, hold on a second.  The memory is coming back?"  Carol got up and walked past Rogue to the door of the shack.  "Oh, it definitely is."  She turned back to Rogue.  "I'm not sure if you want to go out here."

"Ah need ta," she said, determination now set on her features.  Carol stepped out of the way and allowed Rogue to exit the Cellar.

The landscape had become dark, very dark.  Wind had come out of nowhere and was tossing the cocoons every way possible.  Luckily, they were securely rooted to the ground, so all they did was sway violently.  The imprints within the cocoons were crying out in fear and anger, wondering what the hell was going on.  Rogue temporarily glanced back to Carol, who was still inside the Cellar, peeking out.  Her blonde hair billowed in the torrential wind.  Sighing, Rogue knew what had to be done.

She levitated herself about three feet off the ground and started heading in the direction the wind was blowing from.  In a matter of moments, the cocoon field, the Cellar and Carol were gone.  Everything had gone dark again, and it really upset Rogue.  All the time she had spent correcting the messes of her mind had all gone to waste and it was one man's fault.  The memory of him had demolished any order in her mind since he had suddenly turned up as a crucial part of her past.

Rogue closed her eyes and allowed the wind to take hold of her.  She couldn't navigate herself through her memory bank on her own, because then she could've easily found the memory before everything happened.  Because of the way she was traveling there, she was slightly afraid she wouldn't make it back.  However, she put that fear aside and concentrated on the task at hand.

"Sinister?" She called out, her voice stronger than ever.  She knew fear wouldn't get her anywhere now.  She didn't know what to expect, or how the memory would represent itself.  Would she be able to interact with it and talk to Sinister as she was with Carol?  Or would she just relive it?  Rogue hoped for a little of each, even though the latter seemed to be the worse.  Reliving what could be the most horrible event of her life just didn't seem like it deserved a spot on her to-do list of the day.

Out of nowhere, the wind stopped moving and Rogue fell hard on her butt.  She had been so caught up in the wind she didn't even bother to try flying once she really got moving, so she lost control in that moment.  She was surrounded by darkness, and she was sure she wouldn't even be able to see her hand in front of her face.  Preparing for anything, she closed her eyes and put her arm over her face, just to shield anything that could possibly come out of anywhere.

"There you are, my dear," she heard faintly. 

Is it okay ta open mah eyes? She asked herself.

"Of course it is.  Come out of there," a familiar voice said soothingly.  "It's time for bed."

Rogue opened her eyes, and sure enough, there was Irene, extending her hand out for Rogue.  She glanced around and she was once again seven, but this time she was in her room in Caldecott County.  "Ah don't wanna go ta bed though," she pouted.  She didn't know why she had responded in that way.  Ah am relivin' it! she cried out.  She looked up at Irene who gave her a stern look.

"Don't give me that.  C'mon," she waited for Rogue to take her hand and when she did, Irene helped the little girl up.  Rogue let go of her hand once she was up and got into bed.  Irene tucked her in and gave her a gentle kiss on her forehead.  The young her giggled under the touch, and in her head, Rogue reveled in it.  She had missed small signs of affection like that.  "Good night, dear."

"Are ya gonna keep the bad dreams away?"

Irene smiled, knowing they played this game every night.  "Of course.  You sleep well, child."

Rogue nodded and snuggled into the blankets more while Irene turned out the lights and shut the door.  Rogue's content smile drifted away as she realized once again she was reliving the memory.  Ah've gotta get outta here.  Ah'm afraid of what Ah'm gonna see, she thought to herself quietly as she pulled the sheets up past her chin.  Am Ah supposed ta fall asleep… when does he come foh me?

Her question was answered a few moments later when she heard a scream from downstairs and then a large thump.  Like in the dream, she thought to herself.  Footsteps were thundering up the steps and before Rogue could react, she was stolen from her bed, her pillowcase ripped from her bed and thrown over her head.  She screamed and flailed and tried to get away without avail.  Somehow consciousness slipped from her and a moment later she was lying back on a cold metal table.

Like when me an' Remy were captured… She couldn't believe that she had technically been in the same situation a few months before and she somehow didn't think of the déjà vu.

"Welcome back to the living," the same cold, hollow voice whispered into her ear. 

She recoiled from the voice and the stale breath that followed it, but didn't get fair.  Leather straps around her wrists, ankles and torso held her down.  "Why am Ah here?" She asked in a small voice, shaky with unshed tears.

"You have already served your purpose to me," he said, seeming as if he completely ignored her question.  "You will be so indestructible, my little rogue."

She blinked.  "What are ya talkin' about?"  Her head could move, so she watched him pace around her and around the room.

"I'm a scientist, and as a scientist, I experiment.  Can you follow that?"

"What are ya babblin' about?"  A lone tear rolled down her cheek, reminding Rogue how young and vulnerable she really was at that moment.  Another escaped, followed by another one, and then more came down without warning.  Soon she was sobbing, crying for Irene to wake her up.

"Now, now, don't cry.  I did you a favor… sort of."  He leaned down to her level once again.  Her green eyes were rimmed red by this point with her tears and more just followed.  "You will be the perfect warrior.  No need to ever worry about feelings, or getting involved with the hopeless woes of being a normal person.  You can just take what you need for the rest of your life, with no problem."

"Ah don't wanna though!  Ah wanna go home in mah bed!  This ain't happenin'!"

He smiled, showing off his pointed yellow teeth once more.  "Of course it isn't.  You won't remember a thing either."  His hand disappeared from her view.  The next time she saw it, it was holding a syringe with translucent purple liquid.  "Soon this will all be a silly nightmare that you'll forget in time, but I'll make sure it leaves an impression on you for your whole life."  With that said, he abruptly shoved the needle in her neck and pushed all of the syringe's contents into her veins.  She tried to stay conscious for a moment, but the overwhelming feeling of sleepiness took hold of her and she was out. 

And Rogue was in darkness again.  Tears still rolled down her cheeks, but she felt around to find out where she was.  First she felt her clothes – she was back in the tattered black dress, gloves donning her hands once again.  The ground was hard and cold under her legs.  She stood up, rubbing warmth back into them.  She turned and saw the light of the cocoon field not too far off.  Smiling, she realized that her mind hadn't completely shut down due to the surfacing memory.  The smile faded once she remembered the memory.  Her suspicion had been correct; it was Sinister's fault that she hadn't been able to control her power thus far.  Regardless, she was determined now to do what she could with her powers just to spite him. 

She began flying back towards the lighter part of her mind, tossing about ideas for what she could do.  Maybe when Carol is walkin' 'round in mah body, Ah can start tinkerin' with things in here… hopefully somethin'll pop outta no where an' give me some answers.  Even though the incident with Sinister happened ten years ago, she had to beat it.  She had to overcome it and prove him wrong.  And when she did finally get control of her powers, she would make a video tape of hugging everyone without fear, shaking hands without the barrier of gloves, slap a high five to Kitty after a good move in the Danger Room and hear the sound of smacking hands instead of the usually muffled noise she was used to, and even record her truly having sex with Remy, just to spite the asshole.  Ah don't care if it'd be considered a porn an' Ah don't care how many people would watch it.  It'd be me, touchin'.  And that's one failed experiment Ah wouldn't mind spittin' in his face.

She made it to the cocoon field without much trouble, unlike what she previously thought.  "Carol?" She called out.  She landed on her feet and began running towards the Cellar, figuring the blonde would be waiting for her there.

"Hey.  How did it go?" She asked casually with twinkling blue eyes.  She was hiding her concern well.

"Ah was raht, Ah can't touch because o' him.  But Ah'm gonna change that.  He's not gonna win."

Carol smiled.  "That's what I want to hear.  What about me being stuck in here?  I mean… I was most likely not in the memory or anything, but with all this happening, maybe you could figure out a way…" Her head dropped

Rogue placed a hand on Carol's shoulder, and she didn't pull away.  "Ah'm gonna work on that, Ah promise."  She looked back to where she had just traveled from and put her fist in the air, shaking it.  "Ya hear that?  Ya're not gonna keep me down, asshole!" 

Carol laughed.  "Yeah… he definitely heard you."

"Shut up," Rogue muttered, grinning.  "Ah haven't felt this good in so long."

"Me too, actually.  It's nice to talk to someone for a change… I mean, even if it's you," she added, rolling her eyes at the last part.

"Ah think it's time foh me ta wake up though.  The others might be gettin' worried, especially Remy if he's woken up by now."

"Yeah… maybe you should.  Umm… do you mind if I walk around a bit instead of locking me back in the cage?"

Rogue blinked.  "Ah hadn't even thought 'bout doin' that…  It should be all raht… as long as ya don't screw with things."

"I won't.  I just want to… move, you know?"

Rogue nodded.  "No problem.  Then Ah guess Ah'll be seein' ya later… however that'll work."  Carol nodded as well, not wanting to say any drawn out goodbyes.  Rogue got the picture and began to wake her body up.  Light filled the landscape as if she were opening her eyes to the morning sun.  In a moment, she was out of the light and in darkness.

She blinked her eyes a few times and tried to put her observations together.  She was curled up against a body, no doubt Remy's.  Her eyes adjusted to the dimly lit library, Xavier sitting by, his eyes opening along with hers.  He smiled at her warmly; welcoming her back silently even though she knew he was disappointed he hadn't been able to help her.

"How are you doing?" He asked, concealing his fear of her response well.

She smiled, allowing him to be at peace.  "Ah learned what Ah needed ta find out," she said, holding back a sigh.  "It's okay though.  Ah'm only more determined ta control mah powers now."

She received a tighter hug from Remy.  "T'ought it didn' matter t' y' after Seattle," he whispered.

Her smile faded.  "He's the reason Ah can't touch now.  That was the memory, Remy  Even if Ah were ta try an' learn befoh ta control mah powers… it wouldn't have even mattered.  He's made it so Ah wouldn't be able ta control them ever, in the event that he could take me captive an' use me like he tried." As she explained this all to him, his face dipped down lower to her, anger and sadness reflecting in his eyes.  Xavier, feeling slightly awkward from watching this moment obviously shared by only the two of them, motioned for Ororo to follow him out of the library.

Rogue vaguely noticed the adults leaving.  "Ah've gotta overcome it now.  If Ah don't, it's like lettin' him win."

"I understand, chere.  Jus' promise y' won' shut me out while y' figure it out."

Rogue was about to ask him why should would ever consider not including him in the most important step of her life, but just dropped the dramatics.  She'd had enough for one night.  "Ah never would."  She snuggled more into him, feeding off his warmth for comfort.  In response, he held her tighter.

"When're y' gon' tell everyone?"

"Ah figure the professor'll just tell everyone what he just heard, usin' discretion of course.  But Ah just wanna take a nap, raht now… Ah'm so tired."

"Den sleep, cherie.  Y've earned a good night's sleep."

"Love ya," she whispered before yawning and further nestling into the curve of his body.

He kissed the top of her head, whispering "Love y' too," before shutting his own eyes.

Kurt sat in the garden by himself for what seemed like forever.  The tears had stopped rolling long before, but the pain was still there.  Even though Mystique had explained herself pretty thoroughly, there was no room for forgiveness in his book.  I could've been normal, he kept telling himself, not wanting to believe it.  He spent a lot of time looking at his hands, trying to understand.

He idly began thinking about Rogue, and what she was searching for.  Was she accepting her news just as badly?  He pushed away his self-loathing for the moment to think more about his sister.  She was generally in the same situation as him, both being genetically altered by two lunatics who thought that mutants should take their rightful place on top of the world.

He looked up to where his mother had retreated and saw her nowhere in sight.  Relieved he wouldn't have to face her again, he stood up, ready to go inside.  He began to walk, but then realized he would have to face everyone once he strolled in the front door.  I von't be able to just walk by them vith a straight face.  Not vith vhat I know now.  Remembering that Rogue was brought into the library after she and Remy arrived home, he opted to teleport directly there, seeing as how she was the only person he wanted to talk to at the moment.

With a thought, he was surrounded by a cloud of sulfur and brimstone, and in a split second, he was in the darkness of the library.  It took a moment for his eyes to adjust and find his sister lying on the couch in Remy's arms. 

Red eyes blinked at Kurt and a low "shh" was heard.  Kurt nodded and tiptoed to the armchair sitting next to the couch.  "How is she?" he whispered as softly as possible.

"As good as c'n be, mon ami.  She finally be gettin' de sleep she needs."

"Should I take her up to her room?"

Remy seemed to think about it for a moment.  Teleportation probably wouldn't wake her up, and him carrying her throughout the group of people collected in the foyer would just draw attention, even though it was full of people that cared for her.  After weighing the options in his head, Remy nodded.  "I'll get m'self up dere in a few minutes." 

Kurt nodded and stood up once more, readying himself to take Rogue into his arms.  With the utmost care, Remy transferred the peacefully slumbering Rogue into her brother's arms.  She remained curled up, but nestled into Kurt's body once she was settled against him. "I'll see you in a couple minutes, zen?"  Remy nodded and slipped out the back way towards the kitchen.  Kurt teleported directly up to Rogue's shared room.

She stirred lightly in his arms as he waited for the smell of sulfur to disperse.  "Kurt?" she mumbled, her eyes opening slightly to identify him.

"It's me, schwester.  Go back to sleep."

She nodded sleepily and nestled into him once again, making it hard for him to lay her down on her bed.  Once he did accomplish that, he fixed her tangled sheets and tucked her in.  "Kurt?"

"Ja?"

"Can ya stay with me awhile?  Until Remy gets up here?"

"Sure," he said, taking a seat at the foot of her bed.  She rolled over so she could see his golden eyes shining brightly at her.

"Did ya talk ta Mystique?" she asked softly, unsure of how to bring up the topic.  He nodded, and she could only tell the motion by the bobbing of his eyes.  "Are ya okay?"

"I guess… for ze time being, I suppose."

"Ya wanna talk about it?  We can exchange details of our wonderfully educational night," she said, laughing halfheartedly.

Kurt nodded again, so Rogue shifted over to the side a bit and patted the space next to her.  Kurt teleported to the spot, making himself comfortable.  "Do you vant to start, or should I?"

"Whatevah you want, Elf.  Ah have no preference."

Kurt opted to go first, seeing as how half the information he would share related to her since it was their mother involved.  Rogue wasn't surprised at all by how they had been conceived, nor was she shocked about why Mystique ran out on them.  "She's always been weak like that," she commented, "even with her hard outer shell."  Kurt nodded, but asked her to be quiet for the rest of his explanation.  Once he was finished, Rogue didn't know what to say.  She didn't want to just start with her tale of woe, because then it would look like she was trying to show him up.  Sort of like: "Well, ya wouldn't believe what happened ta me when Ah was a kid.  It's so much worse!"  She knew how much being normal meant to him.  Hell, if Mystique could've just dealt with blue head hair, Kurt would've been fine. He could've been Gothic like her, too, she thought with a small smile.  But they were way beyond that point now.

"Ah don't know what ta say," she admitted finally, once enough uncomfortable silence had passed.

"It's okay," he replied, sitting back in the pillows.  "It just takes a lot of thinking to come to terms vith it."

"Ah've been there."

"What happened vith you?"

Sighing, she began her story, beginning with, well, the beginning.  Carol being freed in her mind, helping her find the dreams, seeing the dream, everything.  Kurt listened without words, nodding here and there.  By the time she was finished, Kurt could sense a slight waver in her voice as if she wanted to cry, but knew she wouldn't do such a thing in front of him.  He hadn't seen her cry since she'd absorbed Carol, and he was pretty sure she wouldn't show such a weakness again if she could help it.

"Are you okay?" he asked softly.

She shrugged.  "Ah really want ta control mah powers more'n ever, now."

"But vhat if he made it so you can't…?"

She sighed.  "Ah dunno then.  Ah'm still gonna try ta figure it out.  Ah think the key is still locked up in here," she tapped her temple.  "It's just a matter of findin' it an' switchin' it around so Ah can stop it.  Ah never thought ta look foh it befoh, so Ah didn't know how ta control it."  He laughed shortly, and it sounded bitter to Rogue's ears.  "What's wrong?"

"At least you have a vay to overcome your obstacle.  I'm stuck looking like zis for ze rest of my life."

"You have the inducer-"

"It's just a mask," he said, sighing.  Rogue knew the inducer was no consolation to him whatsoever.  Sure, it was nice to go out and not be a freak to the rest of the world, but she knew that he had to come home and look at himself in the mirror.

"Kurt," she started, turning in the bed so she could look him in the eyes.  "You're one of the strongest people Ah know.  Don't ever doubt that.  So ya don't look like a normal person.  Normal is one of those overrated words that should only mean somethin' ta people who strive to be like everyone else.  There is no point in bein' like the next person in line because then there's no point ta livin'."

"I know vhat you're trying to get at, und I appreciate it-"

"No, ya don't.  Kurt, it's not like you ta be stuck in this self-loathin' mood o' yoahs.  It makes me wanna tear mah heart out when Ah see ya like this, because even though Ah'm sayin' all this shit now, it's not gonna make any change ta how ya feel 'bout yoahself when ya leave this room.  It's like Ah wish Ah could do somethin' better foh ya, ta take away yoah pain, but then there's nothin'.  Like Ah got off easy when we came outta Mystique."

"Rogue, don't feel guilty on behalf of me.  It's not your fault that I'm like zis."

"Ah feel guilty because we don't have talks like this enough ta make it seem like we're even related, let alone twins."

He paused for a moment.  "Ve are vorlds apart at times," he whispered.

She nodded silently.  "Ah'm usually the one pushin' ya away, too."

He shrugged.  "Neizer of us know how to deal vith it.  Ve've only known for, how long?"

"That's true, Ah guess."  They both sighed, letting the silence consume them once again.  Everything was pretty much out for them, and there was nothing left to say.  Rogue wanted to help Kurt in every way possible, but since there was nothing she could do about genetically altered appearances personally, she was stuck just telling him that she'd be there for him.  And that never seems like enough in that sort of position.  While Kurt was discreetly jealous that his sister might be able to overcome her altercation, he was happy that one of them had a chance at getting past their childhood disasters.

"I zink I'm going to go to bed… sleep zis off."

"Is everyone still downstairs?"

"Ja."

"Oh.  Ah guess they'll just have ta wait down there until someone gives 'em an explanation."

"Und I guess ze Brotherhood vill just end up spending ze night."

"Ah'm not worried 'bout that.  Ah dunno how ta tell 'em somethin' like this, ya know?  Ah hate havin' this much attention on me, an' then havin' ta explain every li'l thing that came out of it."

"The professor vill probably explain it vaguely to everyone so zey get ze general gist."

"Most likely," she said with another sigh.

"You should get some sleep," he suggested, standing up.

"Yeah… we both need it like nothin' else raht now."

"Guten Nacht, Rogue."

"'Night, Elf."  Kurt left via teleportation a second later without looking back.  Rogue settled back in her bed again, sighing.  Tonight sucks, she decided randomly.  Sitting up again, she began to peel off her gloves, as a wave of heat washed over her.

There was a knock on the door.  "Chere?"

"Come on in, Remy," she called. 

The door opened just slightly, and Remy's head peeked in.  "Y' decent?" She could see the smirk on his face.

"'Course, Ah am, ya silly Swamp Rat.  Get in here."

Without another thought, he came in and sat down next to her on the bed.  They were quiet for a second, but then Remy caught Rogue's clear gray-green eyes with his own.  "How's Kurt?"

"As good as he can be, Ah guess."  She was silent after that, indicating to Remy that she didn't want to talk about it.

"Y' should get some sleep," he suggested again.

She bit her lip.  "Will ya stay here with me?"

"'Course I will."  Rogue settled herself in her blankets once again.  Remy waited for her to get comfortable then he took her in his arms.  He lay on his back with her facing his left side, her head lying lazily on his shoulder.  With their legs intertwined as best as they could with the blanket around her (as she was still wearing only shorts), they finally got comfortable.

"G'night, Remy."

He kissed her softly on the top of her head.  "'Night, chere."

Snuggling into him even more with a pleasant smile on her face, she mentally whispered, "Night, Carol."

She could feel the blonde's surprise at the sudden attention.  Her smile widened when Carol replied with her own "Good night, Rogue."

Rogue's eyes drifted closed and soon she was lost in sleep filled with dreams she would be glad to remember in the morning.

The end.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Okay, before I'm attacked, let me explain myself, sorta.  I initially stopped working on this story so I could concentrate on Street Livin', but then that story just would not end, so this one was neglected for a very long time as you can see.  Though, hopefully, I will have met all your expectations for the end of the story, and don't think I'm going to drop the story line.  Next in line is what I'm calling "Thirteen-Hour Shoes", which obviously involves Carol being in control of Rogue's body.  I'm not sure when I will actually begin that story, as I have now neglected Street Livin'.  *sighs*  I just can't win.  Anyway, I want to thank everyone who has reviewed in the last 10 months, dying for me to get this chapter going.  I really hope that the length more than makes up for itself, and also, that the story does as well. 

*smooch* I love you all, and I really appreciate you making it this far.  You all deserve so much for making it to the end of this ungodly long chapter and for waiting so long for it.  You guys are the best and I wouldn't be a quarter (or whatever is better than half… I suck at math) of the writer I am without you guys reading and reviewing my work.

Also, *shameless plug alert* writer Lilith Knight and I have started up an update list to let people know when we update our story, Twisted Christmas, the X-Men Way.  It's also a list to be updated for stories written exclusively by either Lilith or me.  So, if you're sick of scouring for that next update of Street Livin', or don't want to be on a constant hawk search for the next part of this still unnamed Evolution arc, please join!  It's kinda measly with just the three members beside me and Lil… *pouts*

So… clickies and become a member!   

Speaking of Lilith, much thanks for being my beta.  She spent so much time and stayed up late just so she could finish this up.  She'll always be more than I could ask for when it comes to help, and also for being my friend.  Lilith, you rock beyond words.  And in the last couple weeks I'm sure I would've gone insane without your advice and kind words of maiming a certain person *giggles*

See ya all around!  :o)