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Past Forward - Jamie (madjm@...)
Disclaimer, etc., with prologue
"This is so 'Star Trek'," Jubilee said quietly as they followed Celeste
through the woods. Risa trailed a few paces behind them. Jubilee had offered
to share the bunny slippers with Rogue, who was barefoot, but her friend had
declined. She still seemed to be in shock from what was happening, and
Jubilee couldn't blame her.
They weren't exactly prisoners, but Risa had told them she couldn't allow
them to go back through the cave. She wouldn't give them much information,
other than the fact that someone -- this Sidre person -- knew they were
coming and sent Risa and Celeste to wait by the cave.
Risa answered everything with "You will have to ask Sidre," as if that
cleared everything up. Which was still more than Barbie -- Celeste -- had
told them. Any time they asked her something, she would just shrug or smirk
at their ignorance. She seemed particularly put out when she found that
Jubilee had lied about her name, though Risa had told her to get over it.
"What do you mean?" Rogue asked.
"Hello? Alternate universe? Obviously, we've encountered a warp core breach
in the space-time continuum." She was glad to see a smile on Rogue's face.
"If only Bobby were here."
"Why do you say that?"
"Well, he's a 'Star Trek' geek, big-time. He could figure out how to use the
Prime Directive to repair the temporal anomaly."
Rogue laughed. "Jubes, how many Jolt Colas did you have tonight?"
"Um ..." Jubilee thought back. "Two. And a package of Skittles. And a Pop
Rogue raised her eyebrow, an eerie reflection of Logan.
"OK, two Pop Tarts. ... And a cappuccino and whipped-cream-filled
"Ugh," Rogue made a face. "No wonder you puked back there."
"Dude, I was fine until I came through your looking glass."
"It's not *my* looking glass," Rogue muttered.
"But you were meant to go through it," Jubilee said quietly. "They were
waiting for you, not for me. Where *is* this place?"
"I don't know," Rogue glanced around them. The farther they walked, the
darker it got as trees pressed in on them from every side. Jubilee had been
kicked out of Girl Scouts after making up obscene lyrics to the tune of
"Make New Friends" and starting a petition for a shopping merit badge. All
she knew was the trees were tall, probably really old, and making her feel
claustrophobic. "But it feels ... familiar. I don't remember ever being
here, but there's just something about it."
"Maybe one of your head cases was here once?"
Rogue looked startled, then cursed as she tripped over a tree root. Celeste
stopped in her tracks and turned to glare at them.
"You must be quiet," she ordered softly.
"Why?" Rogue stuck her hands on her hips and glared back, but she kept her
voice level with Celeste's. "Why do we have to be quiet?"
Surprisingly, instead of the usual smirk, they got an answer this time.
After glancing back at Risa, Celeste said slowly. "There is an enemy camp
nearby. We must pass without attracting attention."
Without any more explanation, she turned and continued walking. Jubilee
noticed that Celeste's passing made no noise and seemed, to her untrained
eye, to leave no mark. Obviously Celeste was a Girl Scout, or the
alternate-universe version of one.
Jubilee leaned closer to Rogue. "We have enemies? That can't be good."
"Agreed," Rogue whispered. "I guess I'll have to give Barbie the
satisfaction of following her orders."
"Life's a bitch, chica."
After the last glimmer of light vanished from between the leaves of the
trees, the terrible two finally called a halt to the march. Jubilee felt
certain her feet were both frozen solid and on fire. The many other aches
and pains in her body paled in comparison. But she refused to complain
because she didn't want Celeste and Risa to know how tired she was and
because she knew Rogue's feet had to be in much worse shape. Yet her friend
didn't utter a word of complaint.
Jubilee was an X-Woman, and she wasn't going to let some
Star-Trek-meets-Robin-Hood bimbos best her. Still, she barely contained a
groan as she sank to the ground beside Rogue.
Her friend gave her a weak smile. "OK, Jubes?"
"Never better," Jubilee said. "All I'm missing is food, water, a warm bed,
twelve pairs of socks --" She gasped and jerked back as a small bag was
dropped in her lap.
Celeste frowned down at her. "Eat. Even you cannot eat and speak at the same
time," she said in a low voice.
Rogue chuckled. "You don't know her as well as I do."
Jubilee smacked her friend. "Way to stand up for me," she began before
Celeste gestured at her to eat. Rolling her eyes, she opened the bag.
"What is it?" Rogue asked quietly.
"Jerky of some kind. I think I won't ask where it came from." She grabbed a
piece and started chewing on it, then passed the bag to Rogue.
The enemies were apparently still nearby, and Risa wouldn't allow them to
have a fire. Still, Jubilee fell right to sleep after eating, wrapped in the
cloak. She convinced Rogue that it would be safe to sleep next to her,
back-to-back, to help keep them warm without taking a chance that she'd be
zapped by Rogue's power.
Risa and Celeste were taking turns keeping watch; they obviously didn't
trust Jubilee and Rogue to protect them. Which, in turn, was fine with them.
They needed the sleep, anyway.
Jubilee felt that she'd just fallen asleep when someone shook her awake.
Before she could say anything, a hand went over her mouth. "Be silent," Risa
said softly. "We must go."
Rogue was already awake, standing next to Celeste, looking at something on
the ground. Jubilee stood up quietly, rearranging her cloak around her
shoulders. She crept closer. There was a person on the ground, a man. She
came up beside Rogue. The man was unconscious; she could see him breathing,
so he wasn't dead. He wore what looked like a uniform of some kind. A dark
color, maybe, though it was hard to tell in the faint moonlight that shown
through the trees.
Jubilee looked at Rogue, who leaned close to her ear. "Enemy soldier.
Celeste knocked him out."
Jubilee began to feel uneasy. What if they were on the wrong side? She'd
kind of assumed that the Good Guys had picked them up outside of the cave,
but what if she was wrong? Just because they were looking for Rogue didn't
mean they were on the right side.
Risa touched her shoulder. "We must go," she said again. Rogue and Celeste
nodded in synch, and Jubilee shrugged. She hoped her bunny slippers were up
to the challenge.
They'd been walking for 20 minutes, slowly picking up speed as the trail
seemed to smooth out, when they heard sounds of pursuit behind them.
Indistinct voices were yelling back and forth. It was difficult to tell in
the forest, but they sounded too close for Jubilee's comfort.
Celeste began to jog in front of them, and Jubilee and Rogue exchanged a
glance and followed suit. Suddenly, the blonde vanished from the trail. The
two immediately slowed, picking their way carefully forward in case there
was something they hadn't been warned about. Troll, werewolf, 500-foot
dropoff, something like that.
At the same time, they both spied Celeste's arm off to the left side of the
path, waving them to follow her. Carefully, they eased into the brush.
Jubilee bit back a curse as someone -- Celeste, no doubt -- yanked her arm.
A thin branch hooked her cloak and scratched her other arm, and she narrowly
missed having her eye put out by another one.
She was shoved to the ground next to Rogue, who was huddling with her cloak
wrapped around her, trying to untangle her long hair from the prickly
bushes. Celeste slid down next to her, and Jubilee didn't know whether to be
relieved or scared that she had both of her knives out.
Risa suddenly appeared out of thin air, wrapping her cloak around her and
nearly melting into the brush. Maybe 10 minutes later, a group of men
tramped past them on the path. They apparently weren't very good at
searching, since they didn't look to the right or the left, only forward.
They weren't very quiet, either. A herd of elephants would've made less
Jubilee decided right then and there that soldiers that careless must be the
Bad Guys. She started to stir, but Celeste clamped a hand, knife and all, on
Jubilee's arm. Without taking her eyes away from the path, she shook her
head. Jubilee looked over at Rogue, who shrugged.
They waited. And waited. Jubilee got a cramp in her hip. Still Celeste
didn't move. Jubilee shifted, wanting to stretch her leg and hip. Her
bladder began to nag. Celeste stared at the path. Just as she was about to
stand up, permission or no, Jubilee heard something from the path.
It was barely there, a whisper of a sound. A breath, or a foot sliding
slightly on the ground. She froze, cramp forgotten, though there was now a
distinct possibility that she would pee her pants. Celeste adjusted her grip
on her knives and shifted soundlessly beside Jubilee.
Suddenly, she could see a figure, a dark shadow of a person, through the
brush. He was creeping along, studying the path and the forest on either
side. Jubilee's heart began to pound. It was like the nightmare she'd had as
a child, when a faceless bogeyman was chasing her, while she stood frozen,
unable to move.
The shadow man came nearer, stopping to kneel down and look at the path. His
head turned, and he looked right at her. She couldn't see eyes, but she
could feel them digging into her, feel his sense of triumph at catching his
prey. She wanted to yell, get up and blast the bastard, but her body wasn't
cooperating with her.
It happened so quickly, she only had an impression. The arrow flew out of
the brush next to her and hit the shadow man, who crumpled to the ground.
Risa motioned for them to wait, then moved cautiously onto the path. After a
few minutes of silence, she waved at them.
Jubilee let out a breath she hadn't remembered holding, and got to her feet.
Rogue caught her when her cramped hip sent her wobbling. She waited for
Celeste to make a snarky comment, but the blonde merely steadied her from
the other side before picking her way out of the underbrush.
Jubilee and Rogue followed her, and all four knelt around the dead shadow
man. Who was, Jubilee noted in surprise, just that.
She'd assumed that the low morning light had simply made the man look dark,
but in fact his entire body was black and apparently hairless. He wore only
a baggy pair of black pants and black boots, and there was a curiously
rounded look to all his features. Strangely, as she watched, parts of his
skin faded to a pale color, then back to dark.
"Who the hell was he?" Rogue asked.
"*Donte*," Risa whispered.
"Dante? That's his name?" Jubilee frowned. "Did you know this guy?"
"He is *donte*," Risa said. "It means, 'shadowed ones.' They are hunters,
able to blend into any surroundings."
"Handy Gift," Rogue commented, standing up.
Celeste stood up, too. "It is no Gift," she said angrily. "It is no
*natural* Gift. He was made, not born."
"What --" Jubilee began, only to be interrupted.
"The troops may return when he does not join them," Risa said. "We must go."
After gathering their things, and allowing time for a brief call of nature,
the four set out along the path. This time, Risa disappeared in front of
them, to keep an eye out for the soldiers. After perhaps half an hour, she
returned, just as the path ended at an open field. The soldiers were nowhere
in view, but Risa urged them to cross the field at a run.
Jubilee sighed and barely kept up with the rest. Bunny slippers weren't made
to run, she decided, wondering how on earth Rogue was handling all this
barefoot. She was dead tired, but there was something lovely about being out
in the open again. The sun shone bright, warming her instantly, and the air
seemed to be fresher, lighter out here.
She hadn't realized how oppressive the forest had been, and she wanted to
laugh out loud at the free feeling bubbling up inside her. That was easily
tamped down when she saw that Risa was leading them into another edge of the
blasted forest. Her brief moment of happiness blew out of her in a wordless
Rogue, right next to her, chuckled softly. "I second that," she murmured.
Celeste and Risa didn't even bother to turn and glare at them for talking or
not keeping up; they simply vanished into the woods. After a minor
hesitation, Jubilee followed them, Rogue bringing up the rear.
There wasn't even a path, just trees and bushes crammed impossibly close
together, with scraggly underbrush filling in the empty spaces. Jubilee
followed Celeste's movements exactly and found that there was a path of
sorts, though it seemed to be carefully hidden and needed to be cautiously
navigated. Easing between trees and brush, weaving in a distinct pattern and
trying not to snag her cloak on anything, it took Jubilee fifteen minutes to
cover probably 10 feet. It took Rogue a bit longer, when she got her hair
twisted and tangled around a branch that almost seemed to come out of
Jubilee helped her friend rescue the hair, grinning at Rogue's promises to
hack the hair off at the first opportunity, and they joined the other two on
the path. A blessedly wide, lovely, smooth dirt path. Jubilee braced herself
for more walking, which wasn't a thrilling concept despite the nice path,
but this time they had barely begun before a roaring sound started to build
in the forest around them. A few minutes later, they entered a clearing with
a beautiful, tall waterfall beating down into a small river.
The sun beamed down on the lovely scene, glinting off the water and adding a
glimmer to the white foam of the waterfall. Rogue smiled at her, and she
wondered if her friend was thinking of their planned tropical vacation. This
clearing could've been a scene out of one of the brochures that she, Kitty
and Rogue had been pouring over for a month.
Rogue moved past Celeste and Risa, who were talking in low voices, and
nearly skipped up to the edge of the river, starting to kneel down. Jubilee
rushed up beside her, laughing. Both girls froze, even their breathing cut
off, as twin arrows flew at them from the direction of the waterfall and
drilled into the ground at their feet.
The Nightowl: http://www.geocities.com/panda_grrl2000
Past Forward - Jamie (madjm@...)
Disclaimer, etc., with prologue
As a child, Jean had fantasized about joining Alice through the looking
glass. For years, she couldn't pass by a mirror without sliding a hand
gently across the surface, sure that eventually she would find one mirror
that was a portal into another world. A world of adventure and excitement
The reality wasn't nearly as pleasant as the fantasy.
Physically, she was fine, after a bout of dizziness and nausea, but she
couldn't seem to shake the feeling of *wrongness*. It pressed in on her
mind, throbbing and nagging in her head. She hadn't mentioned her feelings
to Scott or Logan, but it was almost as though she were having a premonition
of danger, though she'd never experienced such a strong one before.
As she trudged through the boonies after Logan, she tried to dismiss it as a
looking glass hangover, but it lingered, whispering in a language she
couldn't understand. Jean sighed and glanced back at Scott, who sent her a
tired grin. The nausea had hit him harder than her, and she could tell by
looking that he wasn't over it.
"Logan," she said softly, repeating herself twice before he turned back.
Logan had experienced no nausea, no dizziness, either because of his healing
factor or because he was from this place. Either way, it was hard not to
resent how ... healthy he looked when she felt like she'd been run over by a
bus and Scott was a few minutes from the dry heaves again.
"What?" Logan was impatient. He'd barely been willing to wait for Jean and
Scott to recover from the trip here before he'd had them off and running. He
seemed to know where he was going; Jean only hoped that was really the case.
She didn't have the energy left to worry about it.
"We need to rest," she said in the firm I'm-the-adult-and-I-said-so voice
she used on the students when they got out of control.
She thought for a moment he would argue, but his eyes darted back to Scott,
and he finally nodded. "You two get some sleep," he said. "A couple hours.
I'll keep watch."
Jean wanted to ask what he was watching for, but she decided she didn't want
to know. And when Scott curled up next to her on the cold ground, an arm
lightly around her middle, she couldn't bring herself to push him away.
Enough was enough, Rogue thought. She was in a strange world. She'd gone
without sleep or real food, freezing her ass off and hiking half the night
even though her bare feet had gone beyond simple pain at this point. She'd
been chased by soldiers and essentially taken prisoner by a couple of young
girls. Now she had people shooting at her?
"You cowardly bastards, get out here and fight like men!" she shouted,
disregarding the danger and standing up, jamming her hands on her hips.
"*Rogue*," Jubilee gasped, tugging on her cloak like a little kid trying to
get mommy's attention.
Rogue scanned the area around the waterfall, halfway expecting another
volley of arrows. As she noticed what might be a ledge high up and to the
left of the waterfall, it finally registered that Risa was laughing behind
"Nice shots, Thomas, Phillip," Risa called. "But I believe you have been
challenged to a fight!"
Sure enough, a man's head poked through the wall of leaves around the ledge.
He grinned down at them. "We are on duty right now, Risa Battim. Perhaps
"You two, hush," Celeste hissed. "Have you forgotten who may be following
Rogue rolled her eyes as Celeste and Risa started to argue again. At this
rate, she'd be 30 before they ever got to meet the mysterious Sidre.
"Ladies?" she said loudly.
Risa grinned. "I am sorry, Rogue. We love to argue so, sometimes we forget
ourselves. It is this way."
Rogue exchanged a glance with Jubilee as Risa vanished into a thicket of
leaves below the ledge. The girls sighed in unison and followed. If she made
it through this adventure without poison ivy, Rogue thought, it would be a
Behind the cluster of leaves, a sturdy-looking rope ladder took them to the
hidden ledge. It was wider than Rogue had imagined, with plenty of room for
the two young men and several bags of supplies.
The man who had yelled at Risa grinned at the girls, who hadn't quite
realized the power of his smile from below. He had an angel's face, with
blond curls and blue eyes to match. Something about his grin suggested that
there was a little devil in him as well. Before he could say a word, Celeste
smacked him on the arm. "Are you here to flirt or to keep watch?" she asked.
The man's grin widened. "Jealous, Celeste?" he laughed. "You should know my
heart belongs only to you."
"In your dreams, rat," Celeste snapped, but Rogue noted with interest that
she was blushing. Jubilee smirked.
"I think she likes you, too, Thomas," Risa said, laughing.
Celeste hustled them away from the men and further along the ledge. After a
few feet, it narrowed to half its previous width, but that still left plenty
of room to walk. A few more feet led them through a mist of water and under
the waterfall. Behind the waterfall, it was fairly dark and cool, but Rogue
had little trouble following Celeste. She suspected that passing through at
night would be another matter altogether, and yet she had the strange
feeling that she had already done so. Shaking off the deja vu, she followed
Celeste through a cavelike passage and out into a wooded area. A few minutes
of walking led them into the sun again.
This time, they came out into a wide-open field, and Celeste picked up
speed, charging through the grass. Apparently whatever enemies they were
expecting were nowhere to be found. Rogue followed, spotting a cluster of
buildings in the distance. She sighed silently. Maybe she could finally find
out where they were. And get something to wear on her feet.
She would die before she'd ever admit it in front of Celeste, but her feet
were bruised, cut and aching, and she wasn't even sure she could fit in her
shoes if she had them. The good news was, the pain in her knee had seemed to
work itself out rather than getting worse. Of course, who knew what would
happen if she stopped for any length of time?
As if she could read Rogue's mind, Jubilee came up beside her and threw an
arm around her shoulder. Rogue noticed that her friend was looking a little
tired, but she still had her usual exuberance around the edges. "I think
we're almost there, babe. I don't suppose they'll have a mall so we could
buy some clothes?"
Rogue laughed. "They seem like a pretty mall-less society."
"That's what I figured," Jubilee sighed. "How do they even survive?"
"It boggles the mind."
Less than 10 minutes later, they came upon the village. Risa had told them
it was called Fairfield, which seemed to fit. Now that they were closer,
Rogue could see that it was bigger than she had imagined. The buildings,
most of them made from stone, were lined along a dirt street that twisted
past clusters of trees. She couldn't see how far back they stretched. Dozens
of people walked the streets, along with several horses and a couple of
wagons. At their end of the street, a wider area made what looked like a
park. Smaller trees were arranged around the edges, and several wooden
benches were grouped in the center. A group of women wearing long dresses
waited for them there.
Rogue knew immediately which one was Sidre. She stood in the middle of the
group, taller by several inches than the other four women, silver-white hair
twisted into braids on her head. Her age would be impossible to gauge,
though something suggested that she possessed years of wisdom. She wore a
plain, brown dress and had her hands folded at her waist.
It wasn't her looks that convinced Rogue, however. There was an aura around
her. Even standing perfectly still, just watching them, she had presence. A
charisma. The feeling that this was the person In Charge.
Jubilee came to the same conclusion. Practically hopping, she jumped to a
place in front of the woman. "You're Sidre, yes? I'm Jubilee. This is Rogue.
We came through a mirror, of all things. We're starving, and tired, and we
need some clothes, and we would like to know where we are." She paused and
glanced back at Rogue, who shrugged. "Please," she added.
The woman smiled, and Rogue felt like the sun had increased by half. She
reached out a hand and ran it down Jubilee's arm before moving to Rogue.
"You are late," she said, still smiling. "Where is your guardian?"
"My ... guardian?" Rogue looked at Jubilee. "I ... ah. Well, the professor
*was* my guardian, but I'm 21 now, so ..."
Sidre stopped smiling, and Rogue felt like a kid who'd disappointed her
mother. She hated that feeling. "Where is this place? What the hell am I
doing here, anyway?"
The older woman looked surprised, and Rogue had the feeling that was a rare
event. Before Rogue could ask anything else, however, Celeste spoke.
"She cannot control her Gift, either," the blonde said, wisely keeping her
personal feelings on the subject out of her voice. Rogue suspected that
Sidre knew her feelings, anyway.
Sidre sighed, and for a moment Rogue saw her as older than she had
suspected. "Celeste, your parents are waiting for you," she said finally.
"And Risa, I know your brother will be happy you are back."
"Hmmph," Risa said. "Alyn no doubt has his head stuck in another book." Her
voice sounded annoyed, but the look on her face said otherwise. There was
nothing but love on her face, and with a quick squeeze of Rogue's
cloak-covered arm, she raced off into the village. Celeste followed more
slowly, casting a glance back their way before disappearing down the street.
Bitch probably wanted to hear how disappointed this Sidre was in Inadequate
Rogue. Well, Rogue never asked to come to this freaky place, and she was
sorely regretting that she hadn't returned home as soon as she woke up.
Jubilee was right, they should have gone back for help.
"Are you finished?" Sidre asked politely.
"Feeling sorry for yourself." Sidre raised an eyebrow at her, just like
Logan would do. The thought made her angry.
"Excuse me?" Rogue growled. "I have no idea where I am. I'm cold and tired.
My feet are killing me, I'm wearing my freaking pajamas and everyone seems
to be harping on the fact that I can't control my skin. A fact of which I am
well aware. If I seem a little upset, Get. Over. It."
"That's better," Sidre said, nodding. "Angry is better than pathetic."
"Path--" Rogue started to object, but Sidre turned away from her and
motioned to the youngest-looking of the four women, probably in her 30s,
standing by. "Abby, please take Jubilee to my house for a bath. See if you
can find some clothing for her." For the first time, Sidre seemed to take in
her whole appearance, bunny slippers and all. "And shoes as well, please."
"Uh-uh," Jubilee said. "Sorry, lady, we girls stick together."
Sidre smiled. "Do not worry, Jubilee. I must take your friend ... Rogue ...
to our Healer before her feet become any worse."
"It's OK, Jubes," Rogue said softly. "I'm not going anywhere without you."
"Good. You're my one-way ticket home, babe," Jubilee said lightly. Though
she still looked worried, she allowed Abby to lead her away.
Sidre took Rogue's arm. "I know you have many questions," she said briskly.
"But they will have to wait. Once you have been Healed, I would imagine a
bath and a bed will keep you busy until I can find out what is going on."
Rogue was suddenly too tired to argue.
The Nightowl: http://www.geocities.com/panda_grrl2000
Look for story information in part 1.
*some violence in this chapter*
The party started as a success. All the students of the Xavier-
institute had come, and everyone was having a great time.
The professor and Magneto had come, like they promised, and Scott
was there, plus Ororo. But Rogue noticed that Ororo looked like she
had been crying her eyes out. She had tried her best to conceal the
fact, with make up, powder, etc. She bravely tried to appear happy,
but did not manage especially well.
Rogue had wanted to go to her and ask what was wrong, but she
didn't really find the courage to do so. Whatever it was, Storm must
have her reasons to be sad, and she might not want to talk about it.
Doctor Lecter arrived as well, a little later than the others,
gliding like a cat in his dark silk suit. He politely greeted Erik
and the professor, and then moved on to have a drink.
The only one not there yet was Jean. But everyone recalled that she
had said she might be a little late, because she had to stay in the
med-lab and produce more of Rogue's serum.
Almost everyone wanted to talk to Rogue and congratulate her, and
some people also admired her new, exclusive look. They had never seen
good old Marie like that before. She, who used to walk around in worn-
out jeans and who never wore any make up.
She danced with John two times in a row, after unsuccessfully
trying to drag Logan out on the dance floor.
- No, I don't dance, he had said, and actually sounded embarrassed.
- Not even for me? Rogue asked and tried to look grumpy.
- Honey, I do many things for you, but I don't dance.
So Marie had to dance with John instead. He was in fact not a bad
dancer, especially to the faster songs.
After dancing with John for the third time, Rogue went to have a
drink. She poured some Coke into a plastic mug, and drank everything
in just a few gulps. All the dancing had made her thirsty.
- Are you enjoying yourself? she suddenly heard a voice say behind
her, and doctor Lecter slid forth, holding a glass of champagne.
- Very, Rogue said, smiling. And you?
- Yes, very much, the doctor said. But I am sorry that Ororo is so
down. I had wished her to be happy at your party.
- Do you know why she's sad? asked Rogue.
- We had a little argument. She doesn't want me to leave, but I
- When are you leaving?
- Tomorrow, probably.
- You... eh... care much for Ororo, don't you?
Doctor Lecter nodded. - Yes. I do. Very much. Do I get the honour
to dance with you? he asked then, offering Rogue his hand.
- I'd love to, she smiled and followed doctor Lecter out on the
He danced really well. You could almost believe that the doctor was
a professional dancer. Rogue had a hard time keeping up with him,
despite that she was young and he was old.
He must be extremely fit, she thought, and was almost happy when
the song ended.
Charles and Erik sat in a corner by themselves, with their drinks,
watching as the younger people danced and interacted. Charles sighed.
- If only I could dance, he said and even looked a little nostalgic
and melancholy. I used to think it was so fun before... well, you
- Hmm, Erik said, sounding sympathetic. But we are too old for that
now anyway. We will have to find other ways to amuse ourselves. If
one were as fit as Hannibal Lecter! He is 63 years old, but he moves
like a fit 20-year-old! You could almost believe he is a mutant!
Charles' brows went up. - Are you certain that he isn't? he said,
and suddenly sounded interested.
Erik shrugged. - In case he is, he doesn't care. But that doesn't
really matter, does it? He is leaving tomorrow, and you don't have to
see him anymore after that.
- I didn't mean that, Charles said. I just... schh, now I think we
should drop this subject. Can we leave? I believe that this party was
meant for the younger ones. We can go to our room, and... amuse
ourselves. What do you say, Erik?
Magneto smiled wryly, and placed his hand on Xavier's upper thigh
and squeezed it through the fabric. Charles could not feel it, but
still he thought he could feel the warmth and tenderness of Erik's
- That was not a bad idea, Charles, he said knowingly, still with
the same, wry smile. I believe we can find something that we both
Charles placed his hand atop Erik's, still resting on his thigh.
- Come, he said and waited for Erik to get up.
He manoeuvred his wheelchair toward the dining hall exit, and Erik
was walking by his side.
- Leaving already? Logan asked in surprise, when he walked past
them, with a half-full beer can in his hand.
- We are too old for parties like this, said Magneto. You will have
to keep enjoying yourselves without us.
- I think we can do that... Logan muttered as he saw them leave the
dining hall, and the party, to "amuse themselves". Logan was pretty
sure they were going to have sex. He could smell those things.
Mystique was sitting in a car, driving toward Westchester. She looked
resolute and she kept her eyes sternly focused on the road. Inside,
her soul and mind were black with fury.
He can't treat me like this, she repeated to herself. He can't
treat me like shit. I won't allow it. I'll teach him that I won't
take more of his bullshit! Who the hell does he think he is?! He's
gonna pay for this. This time I'll really show you, my little Magneto!
She wasn't sure what to do yet, to take vengeance upon Magneto, but
she was thinking fervently.
There was a party as Xavier's. Had Erik not told it was for Rogue?
How the hell can a party be more important than I am? Mystique
thought angrily. Or then the party was not the true reason why he
chose to stay. Probably it was Xavier himself.
Do you love him? she thought meanly while she drove, and thought
about what she was going to say to Erik next time they met.
She wanted to hurt him, like he had hurt her, but she knew that
that couldn't be done by words alone. This required actions.
Making him jealous would not work either. What if she seduced
Xavier? No, she thought then. That would never work. Xavier would
never fall for it - he was a telepath, after all - and Mystique
realized that it wasn't anything she wanted to do either.
The mere thought of him disgusted her. How was it really, to have
sex with a paralysed man? Yuck! How could Erik do it?
He did it for 25 years before he even met you, Mystique reminded
herself. He is used to it, I guess.
But that hardly made it any better. She got closer and closer to
Westchester, and a plan was forming in her head.
It was nine o'clock, and Charles and Erik had left. Jean had not
showed up yet, and the party seemed to have calmed down a bit.
Fewer people were up dancing, and many of those who had been
dancing before, were instead sitting down, talking, as they ate
sweets, popcorn, or drank some soda.
Doctor Lecter was there, and seemed to enjoy himself. He had danced
with Rogue once more, and surprised them all with his agile movement
and quick steps. It was impossible to believe that he was already 63.
Scott started to get annoyed. Where the hell was Jean? Had she not
promised to come?
Scott didn't like Hannibal Lecter. Surely it had been "noble" of
him to help with the serum, but Cyclops refused to believe that he
did it from kindness. There must be some other reason beneath.
And he seemed to have caused Ororo grief. Scott had barely spoken
with her during the evening, but it was still obvious that she *was*
sad, since she kept to herself and shot sad, furtive looks at
Hannibal Lecter every now and then.
He should never have been allowed in here, Scott thought irritably.
It seems like the Xavier-institute is more and more becoming a refuge
for terrorists, and now also serial killers.
Well, he could tolerate Magneto, but Hannibal Lecter was simply too
much. It would be great too see him leaving tomorrow, as planned.
Suddenly Scott saw Jean come walking toward him across the dining
hall. She was smiling, and was clad in a pretty, white lace blouse,
which one could almost see through, and tight blue jeans. Those were
clothes he had never seen her wear before.
- Hi, Scott, said Jean, still smiling, when she reached him.
- Hi, Jean. Have you bought new clothes?
Jean just shrugged her shoulders, without answering. Her smile
- Was there much to do in the lab, since you're so late? Scott
- The lab?
- Yes, with Rogue's serum. Is it done now? You are coming from down
- Yeah, right, she said and looked like she just thought of
- Jean? Scott said, now sounding concerned. Are you alright? You
seem a little... confused.
Jean nodded. - Yeah, everything's fine. Scott, you don't happen to
know where Charles and Erik are, do you?
- They left over half an hour ago. Are you sure you're alright,
- You know what...I'm not... I just thought of I forgot something
down in the lab. I have to go down and fix it. See you later.
She turned around to leave again, but Scott grabbed her by the arm.
- Jean! You only just arrived! What's the matter?
Jean tore loose. - Just one thing. I'm alright. I'll be right back.
After saying those words, she ran away from Scott without even
looking back at him.
- Jean! he called after her, but received no reply. What's wrong
Mystique kept Jean Greys appearance until she was safe inside the
elevator which would bring her down to the med-lab. She laughed at
Cyclops while she was standing there, back in her true shape.
He seemed quite stupid, but you never knew. Perhaps he had grown
suspicious. Maybe she should have tried to be a little more... Jean?
But she wasn't Jean. She was Raven Darkholme, and she was pissed.
She now knew what to do. When she arrived, her plan was to sneak
inside Xavier's bedroom and confront them in there, face to face. But
that was not a good idea. This was.
The subterranean floor was quiet and dark. Raven imagined hearing
the pounding of the music from the dining hall above. She sneaked out
of the elevator and headed for the med-lab.
She knew where it was. She had been down here before. Then her plan
had been to destroy Cerebro.
Now it wasn't. The thought was tempting, but the med-lab was a
better idea. It would affect Rogue, but so be it. She really had no
part in this, but still she would be affected.
Mystique stood in front of the entrance to the lab and morphed into
Jean Grey again. When the retinal scanner scanned her eye, she was
obviously going to get inside, since the doors slid apart and she was
free to enter, she was told by a computer generated voice.
Mystique smiled a triumphant smile to herself. Now she could
finally start. And no one could stop her.
Jean tried to correct her dress while she walked. She realized she
was late, and she was sorry for it. Making the serum had taken longer
than she could have imagined, since doctor Lecter hadn't been there
to help her now.
She threw a quick glance at her wristwatch. 9:15 P.M.
Very well. Maybe she would at least have time to be in on
After coming up from the lab, she had gone straight to her and
Scott's room to shower and tidy herself. It had taken almost 30
minutes. Now all nasty chemical smells were gone, and Jean was
elegantly dressed in a tight, wine-red evening gown.
When she arrived at the dining hall, Scott approached her at once.
He seemed surprised at seeing her there.
- Jean! he exclaimed. Back already? How about the thing you were
going to fix? And you've changed clothes! How could you do all that
in less than ten minutes?
Jean looked like a live question mark.
- But, she said confusedly, I just came up. What are you talking
about, Scott? I haven't been here before. I just come here from my
- What are *you* talking about? said Scott. You were just here ten
minutes ago and said you had to go back down to the lab to fix
something. Don't you remember? And now you've changed your clothes.
How could you have time?
Jean shook her head. - No, that's not right. I have was here ten
minutes ago. Then I was in the shower!
- But then who...-
Jean closed her eyes and focused on reading Scott's mind to
understand what he was talking about.
She encountered a mental image of herself, wearing something she
had never seen before, talking to Scott and incoherently explaining
that she had "forgotten" something in the lab, and had to go down to
The scene had taken place roughly ten minutes ago, like Scott said.
Then Jean had been standing in the shower.
Suddenly her eyes fluttered open and the telepathic connection was
cut off at once.
Jean wasn't sure, but it was the only way. She grabbed Scott's arm
roughly and felt the panic ooze within her.
- Scott, she said, trying to sound calm despite that she
understood. That was not me. It was Mystique. I don't know how, or
why, but she is going down to the med-lab.
- Mystique! cried Scott. But how...-
- Quiet! Get Logan and Ororo and go down there at once! Whatever
she is planning, we have to stop her! I'll get Charles and Magneto.
Jean released Scott's arm and turned around to run out again, but
Scott, who hadn't yet quite realized, stopped her.
- Jean! Wait! Are you sure? he said.
- Stop her, before it's too late! Jean called and hurried out of
the dining hall as quickly as she possibly could, wearing a long gown
and high-heeled shoes.
She ran toward Charles' room. She had the same thought in her head
the whole time. Don't let her do any harm! Don't let her...
Jean pulled open the door to Charles' bedroom, without either
knocking or calling beforehand. Usually she hadn't even considered
doing anything like that, but this wasn't any usual case. This was an
- Charles! she called. Erik!
Charles Xavier and Magneto lay in the bed, with their naked bodies
entangled, and their mouths locked in a fervent and passionate kiss.
Charles lay under Erik with his legs splayed, and his hands eagerly
caressing his lover's body, as they moved in rhythm and had sex.
But Jean's shrill and terrified voice made them stiffen. They broke
the kiss and turned their heads in the direction of the door and
Jean's voice. The expression on their faces could not be described by
- Charles, Erik... you have to come, Jean said with strain, and
tried to ignore the fact that she was standing there, staring, as
mentor and teacher had a very intimate moment with his lover.
- Jean... Charles managed to say, like he still didn't quite
believe she was actually standing there.
- Mystique's here, Jean said. She has gone down to the med-lab.
Come right away. She's going to destroy something.
When Erik heard her mention Mystique's name, his facial expression
changed. A wrinkle formed between his eyebrows and the look in his
eyes became hard and determined.
- I suspected this... he murmured. That she...
He pulled out of Charles so quickly that a popping noise sounded
from them, and then jumped out of bed and started looking for his
clothes. Charles remained in the bed, confused and a bit shocked,
with his paralysed legs still spread, since he couldn't close them by
Erik looked at Jean. - Go down there. We'll come. Be careful. She
is furious and frustrated. We'll be there as quickly as we can.
- But... Jean began doubtfully.
- Go, Erik said. It sounded like an order, and Jean couldn't other
than obey. Magneto knew best how to tackle Mystique, and they needed
him. Jean turned around and ran.
Scott had managed to talk Logan and Ororo into going down to the lab
and see what went on down there.
Rogue had wanted to come too, but Logan didn't allow it.
- You'll stay here, he said. If there's anything wrong, we can
- But I can be useful! Rogue objected. I can fight!
- I'm thinking about your safety, Logan said then. Stay here. I'll
take care of Mystique!
Then suddenly Scott interfered. - Marie, stay here, he said with
his so-professional-fearless-leader voice. This is your party. Stay
here and take care of your guests.
She had wanted to come with further objections, but she knew it
would be useless. If Scott had decided something, she could not
change it. But it annoyed her that everyone just kept on treating her
like some small and helpless kid.
Scott, Logan and Ororo hurried away. Rogue stayed, in her fancy
evening gown, and elegant hairdo, to take care of the party. What
As the three mutants stood in the elevator they tried to think of
what they would do if it appeared to be Mystique.
- Just hope Cerebro isn't her target again, Ororo said anxiously,
and had seemed to forget how sad she was for the moment.
- She said she was going to the med-lab, said Scott. But that might
just have been something she said. We know nothing of what she really
- Where did Jeannie go? Logan asked irritably. Shouldn't she be
here helping us?
- She was going to get the professor and Magneto, Scott explained.
Then Logan just snorted. - Good luck... he muttered.
When the elevator finally stopped and the doors were opened, Logan
sniffed in the air and his look grew stern at once. Having superhuman
senses might be an advantage. - She's been here, he hissed. I can
smell her! I never forget that smell. Come one!
He took the lead and started jogging along the dark, quiet
corridor. Every now and then he sniffed in the air around him to feel
if he could still catch Mystique's scent.
- Getting anything? Scott asked.
- This way, Logan said.
Cerebro had not been Mystique's target this time. Logan followed
the scent trail, and it was leading straight to the med-lab, just as
Before they went in, Logan extracted his claws. //Snikt// The two
other mutants saw them gleam in the faint illumination.
They looked into each other's eyes before Cyclops nodded shortly at
the other two, and they went in.
The sight they were encountered by shocked them. Mystique had
already managed to cause great devastation. When the three X-men,
minus Jean, entered, she was breaking their X-ray machine with a fire-
extinguisher. There was broken glass everywhere, chemicals were
spread over the floor, and Jean's desk, with all its contents, had
Torn papers, together with other objects, were also on the floor,
mixed with pieces of glass and chemicals.
When she heard them come, she spun around and stared into their
faces. The fire-extinguisher froze in her hands. She was in her true
shape now, and her yellow, cat-like eyes seemed to glow in her blue
- Drop the fire-extinguisher, Mystique, Scott said in an icily calm
voice, as he brought his hand to his visor.
Now she grinned contemptuously, and her teeth seemed to glow as
- What else? What will you do, momma-boy? Blast me? she said.
- Want to find out? Scott replied, sounding more threatening this
time. Be wise, Mystique. Don't make it worse than it already is.
- Tell that to that fucking cocksucker! cried Mystique in reply,
seething with anger. This is all his fault! Right now he's probably
fucking your dear professor through the mattress! Tell that to him!
He's ruined my life!
They all realized she was referring to Magneto, before she suddenly
raised the fire-extinguisher and threw it right at them, followed by
another furious cry.
It hit Ororo's left shoulder, and she sank down, screaming, and
then whining with pain.
Logan reacted in a flash. He lunged at Mystique, with his right
hand raised, and claws extracted, but she saw him come, and jumped
over the smashed X-ray machine to avoid him.
Logan slashed at her. He missed. His claws got stuck in the
machine's screen, and it took him some time to get them out again. In
the meantime Mystique had gotten beyond his reach.
She realized that her plan had failed, and the smartest thing would
be to run, so she headed for the exit. Logan ran after her
immediately, but Mystique was fast, and they both realized that he
would not get her that way.
Scott intervened. He threw at her from the right and managed to
knock her to the floor with his speed and body weight.
Mystique wriggled and twisted like a snake underneath him, and she
had great reflexes, despite that the fall had knocked her breath out.
She drove her knee into Scott's stomach and pushed him off of
herself, making him roll around several times on the floor.
He moaned and coughed, and tried to hold his visor in place, so he
wouldn't drop it and become helpless.
Logan came. Before Mystique could get to her feet, he grabbed her
by the ankle and pulled her back. She kicked him in the face with her
other foot, but even though it hurt, Logan did not let go of her.
With his other hand he grabbed her thigh and started pulling her
Mystique screamed. Desperately her hands fumbled for something to
grab a hold of, and she got the fire-extinguisher, which she had
thrown at Storm before.
Now she threw it at Logan instead. He tumbled backwards with a howl
and heard his own nose break. Of course he lost his hold of Mystique,
and she was back on her feet in no time.
Storm had risen. She stood between Mystique and the exit, blocking
up her way. Her shoulder hurt terribly, but that didn't stop her from
For a moment the two women looked into each other's eyes. Mystique
was taller than Storm, considerably stronger and a better fighter.
There was not much weather for Ororo to manipulate in here now, so if
she wanted to stop Mystique, she had to go into a hand-to-hand
Storm gritted her teeth and was at least going to try, no matter
- Move, bitch! hissed Mystique threateningly.
- You'll have to do that! Ororo replied, raising her right fist,
ready to strike.
- I will!
Mystique took one step towards Ororo, and Ororo swung her fist in
order to hit her across the face, but Mystique was a lot faster. She
grabbed Storm's wrist and forced her hand back down. Ororo screamed.
- This is for you, you stupid bitch! snorted Mystique and punched
Ororo in the face so hard she flew directly into the wall behind.
Remarkably dizzy, she sank down, moaning, with a split lower lip.
Mystique saw her chance and was about to run through the exit, but
she didn't get any further.
Suddenly she discovered that she couldn't move at all, and the next
second she was lifted into the air, until she was floating about 6
feet above the floor, incapable of doing anything but whining.
Jean was fixating her with her gaze, and kept her suspended with
the help of telekinesis. She let Mystique hover in the air for some
more seconds, and tightened her grip so much that the other mutant
could hardly even breathe.
Then she sent her flying straight through the med-lab, into a wall,
where she slammed violently, finally landing on the floor, directly
onto a heap of glass splinters.
They heard her scream, but she did not get up now, but simply
wriggled and tried to crawl away from the splinters, which had
penetrated into her hands, forearms, thighs and buttocks.
Scott crawled up to his feet. He felt sore and beaten, but was not
seriously hurt, except for a few bruises.
Logan spat and grunted as he waited for his nose to heal up. He
looked at the entrance and saw Jean standing there, in the doorway,
still keeping her hand stretched out after throwing Mystique away.
- Oh... Logan muttered. *Now* you're here? We had already needed
you sooner, so where were you?
- I... Jean began, but did not finish the sentence. She let her
hand drop. Is everyone alright? she asked instead.
- Yeah, I think so, Scott replied. All but her, will say, he added,
nodding at Mystique who was still lying on the floor, groaning with
pain. She wasn't trying to get up any longer, in the fear of another
telepathic attack from Jean.
- Good, Jean said blankly.
- But she did quite a good job destroying the lab, Scott pointed
Jean sighed and closed her eyes. Yes. She had. Really.
Suddenly Logan got wild. He rushed to Jean and grabbed her roughly
by the shoulders, shaking her. - The serum! he hissed. Where'd you
keep it? Did you keep it here? Has it been destroyed?!
- Yes, Jean replied. I kept it here, and now it has been destroyed.
- No! Logan roared, and suddenly looked as though he was about the
throw Jean across the room, like it was her fault.
- Calm down, Logan, said Jean. It will be okay. I know that this
production has been destroyed, but I have saved all our results on a
CD, which I keep in my private computer, up in my room. As soon as we
have replaced the equipment, I will be able to manufacture the serum
- How soon?
- I don't know. When we have gotten new equipment.
- That's terrific! Logan snapped and released Jean. All fucking
marvellous! I'll kill that blue bitch!
- Now you calm down! hissed Jean and grabbed his arm. You are not
doing anything before Charles and Erik get here!
Logan just shrugged, but didn't say anything. He snorted in
frustration, but had obviously decided not to kill Mystique anymore.
Suddenly another person arrived. The others expected to see
Magneto, but it was doctor Lecter. His eyes widened when he noticed
the destruction in the lab.
- Who did this? he asked in a low voice.
- Please, go back up, Scott said impatiently. We don't need you
here right now.
But doctor Lecter did not go up, but when he saw Ororo, who sat
slumped next to a wall, he rushed to her instead. Her face was white
with pain, and she was holding her left arm spasmodically hard.
- Ororo, Hannibal said and kneeled next to her. How are you?
- My arm... Storm whispered. It...hurts. Could it be broken?
- Let me have a look. I am a doctor.
- Does the arm need to be put in plaster? Ororo asked in a
- No, I don't think so, doctor Lecter replied before he had even
brushed her. When he touched her shoulder she gave out a cry.
He was quite sure of what was the problem was. The arm was not
- You don't need plaster at all, Ororo, he said. Your shoulder is
only dislocated. If you let me put it back in place, it will feel
better right away.
Ororo looked hesitant. It hurt now, and it would hurt even more
when he put the shoulder back into its socket. But it would feel much
- Okay, he said faintly. But do you know how?
- Yes. Of course I do. Don't worry. I have done this before. Clench
your teeth, now, my dear.
Doctor Lecter grabbed Ororo by the wrist with one hand, and put the
other one against the bulge sticking up from her shoulder. Then he
pulled her arm, as he simultaneously pressed against her shoulder,
and a strange, crunching noise sounded.
Ororo gave out a strangled cry.
Everyone's eyes were suddenly focused on them. The others had
almost forgotten Ororo, and not noticed that she was sitting by the
wall, with a dislocated shoulder. Now they noticed her, and they also
heard the sound of her shoulder being put back in place.
Scott rushed toward them. - What the hell are you doing? he yelled
at Hannibal, and nearly tore him off the floor, and away from Ororo.
- Ororo's shoulder was dislocated, he replied with infinite
calmness, without even looking at Cyclops. I only put it back right.
- Ororo? Scott asked, still suspicious.
- It... it feels much better now, Hannibal... she breathed. Thank
you so much. It doesn't hurt at all now.
- Can you stand up? Hannibal asked her.
- Yes, I believe so...
- Come, I'll help you. Lean against me.
He put his arm around her shoulders and carefully helped her to her
feet. She gratefully leaned against him, pulling long, deep breaths.
Her face was still tense and strained, but the horrible pain in her
shoulder was gone, at least.
Hannibal had barely noticed that the laboratory was smashed, and he
hadn't even seen Mystique's blue shape that lay in a heap next to one
wall. The only thing he thought about was taking care of Ororo.
Charles and Erik were the last to arrive. It had taken Charles some
time to get dressed, in spite that Erik tried to help him as much as
Charles only wore a pair of pyjama trousers and a robe; no shirt,
no underwear or even socks.
Erik also wore a robe, and pyjama trousers, like Charles, but at
least he'd taken the time to put on a pair socks and slippers. The
floor could be cold when one was barefoot, but to Charles, who didn't
have his feet in the ground, it didn't matter. The hastily
interrupted intercourse, and the knowledge that Mystique was there,
making trouble, had left him shaky.
- Oh, God... he whispered when he arrived in his wheelchair, and
saw what condition the med-lab was in. Oh, God...
Erik came up behind him and put a soothing hand on his shoulder. He
was regarding the others with a dead-serious expression. His pale
blue eyes expressed cold anger.
- Where is Raven? he asked calmly, but his voice could not conceal
his true mood. Magneto was almost furious.
- She's lying over there, Scott replied casually, and nodded at the
wall in which Mystique had been thrown.
Erik left Charles and started walking there, with long, resolute
steps. Mystique lifted her head when she saw him approach. She looked
up at him with her pained eyes and gasped.
- Erik... she rattled and reached out a bloody hand in his
Magneto pulled away as though she had been plague-stricken.
- Do not touch me, he said coldly.
- Erik... please... Take me out of here, she said miserably.
- I didn't believe this about you, Raven. How could you go so low?
he proceeded in the same, icy voice. Do you know what you have done?
You have not only destroyed equipment for millions of dollars, but
also my last respect and trust in you. Was that your intention, Raven?
- But Erik... I did it for you... for us...
- There is no "us". And there never will be. Not now, and not ever.
Not in any way. You have made that clear.
He kneeled next to her, grabbed a hold of her muddled, red hair
with his hand, and pulled it so roughly that her scalp hurt.
Mystique grimaced and tried to turn her face away, but Erik forced
her to look into his eyes.
- Look me in the eyes, he ordered, and she couldn't other than
- Erik, I'm sorry... she snuffled.
- Sorry? I think you should tell that to Rogue. It is primary her
life that you have ruined with this little trick. You don't have to
apologize to me. I don't ever want to see you again, he finished, and
then released her, rising to his feet again.
- What are you planning to do with her? he asked Jean.
- I don't know. We'll have to do something about her injuries, and
lock her into a hospital cell over the night, Jean replied. Or do you
have a better idea?
- Do as you wish. I don't care, Magneto said wearily and went back
to Charles. The telepath still looked shocked, and was looking down
at his hands, which were shaking. Erik took his face between his
hands and turned it up against himself.
- Darling? he said. Are you alright? I am so sorry, Charles. This
is partly my fault.
- No, it is not, Charles replied. You couldn't know. But all this
equipment, and Rogue's serum... all is destroyed... How shall we be
able to tell her?
- It will be alright, Erik tried. We'll think of something, okay?
- Of course. But it won't be easy.
In the meantime Jean tried to approach Mystique in order to have a
look at her injuries, but Mystique, being borderline hysterical, did
not let Jean come near her.
- No!! she cried, hitting and kicking around herself. Don't touch
me, you fucking bitch! No! Don't come near me! Get away! You hear
me?! Get away from me! Don't touch me!
- You are hurt, let me help you, Jean tried, matter-of-factly, but
for no use.
- Get away, I said! Mystique howled. I don't need your help! Buzz
- Then don't, Jean said irritably. We'll see if you can pull out
all those splinters on your own, without my help. Go ahead and try.
She went to bring her medicine kit, which had actually survived the
catastrophe, and quickly took out a syringe containing sedative.
- Logan, she said and nodded at him, knowingly. Help me hold her.
When Mystique saw their intention, she started screaming again, and
tried to crawl away, but Logan came there quickly and pressed her
down, while Jean brought the needle into her throat and injected the
Within a few seconds Mystique quietened and ceased wriggling.
Logan lifted her into his arms and waited for Jean to tell him what
to do next.
- And what now? he said.
Jean sighed. - We'll take her to a hospital cell, as I said. I'll
have to do my best trying to take out all the splinters while she's
sedated. Will that be alright? Erik? Charles?
- Yes, sure, said Erik. Charles only nodded in reply, almost
- I can help you, doctor Lecter offered. I am no expert on mutant
physiology, but I think I might be useful in case she wakes up.
- Sure, said Jean with a shrug. I think I might need all the help I
- But I will escort you up first, if you wish, Ororo, he said then,
turning to Storm.
- No, that is not necessary, Storm replied. I will be alright. Go
and help Jean.
- Yeah. Thank you for fixing my arm, she said and tried to smile.
He kissed her cheek. - Of course. Goodnight, then.
Scott, Ororo, Charles and Erik headed back up. Jean, Logan and
Hannibal Lecter stayed, together with an unconscious Mystique.
They had a difficult task ahead of them.
Title: One of These Boys is Not Like the Others
Archive: DDFH, APE, others please ask.
Summary: A mysterious death leads agents Scully and Mulder to a school in
Westchester New York. An X-Men/X-Files crossover. Bunny tossed by THL in
offering of the DDFH’s April theme week.
Rating: R (implied relationships, language)
Disclaimer: The X-Men is property of Fox and Marvel. X-Files belongs to
1013 Productions and Fox. The original song belongs to Weird Al Yankovic
and it is a parody of the Backstreet Boys ‘I Want it that Way’.
A/N: I’ve replaced a bunch of the WA lyrics with my own, which are
indicated with an astric (*). The song is to the tune of ‘I Want it that
This is set roughly around X-Files season six, and two years after the X-Men
Thursday, April 23
F. B. I. Headquarters
Agent Dana Scully walked through the door to find
her partner hunched over the projector. “Morning Mulder.”
“Mwornin” came the muffled reply.
Scully settled down in the desk chair and waited for her partner
to begin his slideshow. “Hold your hose Scully, this is gonna knock your
socks off.” Mulder grinned and clicked the button; a strange picture filled
“This was found at the scene. As you can see there are what
appear to be claw marks on one side of the body. Second and third degree
burns cover the front and left side, the back appears to have been smashed
into a wall with tremendous force, and there’s evidence of freezer burn at
the bottom. Whata you make of that Scully?”
“Well Mulder, we won’t know for sure until I have a chance to
examine the remains, but I’d say it was obviously a crime of passion.”
Scully answered swinging her blue gaze towards Mulder.
“Well, the local police can’t figure out what happened, so guess
who’s up to save the day.”
Scully simply nodded and picked up the suitcase from behind the
desk. She’d long since learned to have a case full of clothes and
toiletries ready to go at all times. Mulder still hadn’t picked up on this
habit and the pair was forced to stop at his apartment before continuing to
Four hours later the agents had pulled up to the front of an
impressive looking mansion and knocked on the door. A large, hairy man with
pointed hair opened the door. “If you’re selling something we’re not
interested. And before ye ask, no I haven’t accepted Jesus, Mary or Joseph
into my heart and eternal damnation sounds fine to me.”
“You must be Logan.” Mulder said, recognizing the face from the
“I’m Agent Dana Scully, this is my partner Fox Mulder. We’re
from the FBI.”
Logan glanced between the two of them and opened the door. He
scowled as the two suits asked for Charles Xavier and demanded to see him at
once. Logan stalked down the hall and threw the door open to Charles’
office. “Cops are here.” He told the older looking man before nearly
plowing Mulder over in his hurry to get away from the duo.
“I understand that you’re here to solve this mystery.” Charles
“Yes sir, that’s what we do.” Mulder volunteered.
“Sir, is there anything in specific we should know about the
people we’re planning to interview?” Scully pinned the bald man with a
“Surely you are aware of the reason this school exists?”
Scully and Mulder exchanged a look before nodding their
agreement. “I’ve cleared the main rec hall for your convenience, and the
small room in the back of it is where you’ll find the remains. Do let me
know if there’s any way I can assist in your investigation.”
“We’ll need to use a portable CD player, but that should be the
only equipment that we are lacking.” Scully informed him.
“Very well. I hate to cut our meeting short, but I fear that I
have an awful lot of business to catch up on that simply can’t be put off
“Thank you Mr. Xavier.” Mulder said.
“Please, call me Charles.” The bald one smiled warmly.
The G-men ushered themselves out of the office and walked
towards the room they had been directed to. They locked the doors and
proceeded towards the room where the corpse was located. The smell of burnt
plastic still permeated the air, and the two coughed from the overpowering
scent. “It looks even worse in person.” Mulder cracked.
“What sort of person would do this? Its just, a little
excessive if the killer was excessively angry.”
“You’re the one who said it was a crime of-passion” Mulder said,
strongly emphasizing the last word.
“Mulder.” Scully said, fixing her partner with a glare.
“What?” He asked innocently. The two regarded the other with a
long look before Scully broke the silence. “Who do you want to interview
“How many do we have?”
“10. Five men, five women.”
“You don’t actually believe in the possibility of mutants do you
Scully?” Mulder asked, mimicking one of his first questions to Scully from
five years ago.
“Mulder, you believe in aliens, and you’re questioning this?”
“It’s just that, it seems a little bit too comic bookish.”
“Mulder, there is scientific evidence that indicates that the X
gene really exists.”
“There’s also scientific evidence that you’re cute.” Mulder
“Nothing. Hey, check out the burn marks on this thing. It
looks like it was blasted by some intense heat.”
“Well, there is a fire thrower, and a man who can emit optic
blasts in residence.” She answered.
Mulder gave a derisive snort. “It just doesn’t seem very
Scully laughed lightly, it wasn’t often that she got to see
Mulder doubting anything. She admitted to herself she rather liked the
reversal of roles. “I’ll perform the autopsy on the remains downstairs,
Charles said there was a full medical facility downstairs.”
“I’ll look over the files again, we can decide which ‘mutant’ we
want to interrogate first.”
“Scully rolled her eyes and left in search of the med lab for a
gurney to transport the corpse. She could tell it would be an interesting
Annette: We need to talk about Michael
Jackie: Fine. I'll use really small words so you'll be sure to understand
Annette: That won't be good enough!
-'That 70's Show'
Autumn's Penguin Emprium
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Past Forward - Jamie (madjm@...)
Disclaimer, etc., with prologue
A bath, hot meal and some sleep went a long way toward returning Jubilee's
usual good humor. With her new perspective, she was able to see the pluses
of going on a great adventure.
Or, one plus, at least.
A cute boy.
His name was Alyn Battim, and he was Risa's brother. He was about her age,
and a dead ringer for a young George Clooney, minus the dorky "Facts of
Life"-era hair. His hair, in fact, was one of the cutest things about him, a
thick, straight, rich brown mess that flopped down over his brow in an
unbelievably endearing way. And then there were his eyes, a melted-chocolate
brown, remarkably intense as they stared into hers while he asked question
after question about her world.
Rather than finding all that inquisitiveness annoying, Jubilee found it kind
of intoxicating to have all that intensity focused on her. She couldn't
remember the last time a guy paid that much attention to her. He was hanging
on her every word, though she doubted he really understood half of what she
was telling him. After all, how could one understand the true glory of The
Mall without experiencing it oneself?
"And what is this ... pizza?" he asked, never taking his eyes off her face.
Jubilee laughed. "Alyn, you'll just have to come back with us for a visit.
Experience it all yourself."
Risa, who was sprawled on the floor of Sidre's house next to them, laughed.
"You are wasting your time on that one, Jubilee," she said. "He will barely
leave our house. His books might miss him if he left."
"Risa ..." he said, laughter tingeing the warning in his voice.
"Besides," his sister continued. "He might have an *adventure* if he left
home, and The One knows what a nightmare that would be!"
"Enough, sister," Alyn said, blushing in what Jubilee thought was an
extremely cute way.
Jubilee grinned. It had been a while since she'd had a good crush.
It was certainly a distraction, something she needed since she'd discovered
that her best friend was a princess. Here she'd been living with royalty all
these years and hadn't even known it. Of course, neither had the princess in
"I'm a ... princess," Rogue said flatly when Sidre had revealed the truth.
"Do you suppose," Rogue had asked Jubilee pleasantly, "that they have such a
thing as crack in this world?" Before she got an answer, she continued.
"Sorry. Got the wrong girl. I'm from *Mississippi*. No princesses there."
"That may well be, Emmarie," Sidre said, stressing the name. "But the fact
remains that you got to your Mississippi because I took you there. Along
with your guardian." She frowned. "Although I do wonder what has happened to
"My name is *Rogue*, and ... did you say Captain Logan?" She and Jubilee
looked at each other. What were the chances?
"I do know a Logan," Rogue said slowly. "But he's not my guardian. He's ..."
She obviously didn't know what to say about him.
Unfortunately, Jubilee did. "Dude, you've got the hots for your *baby
sitter*! Isn't that a little ..." she trailed off as she remembered that
Rogue was having major Logan issues at the moment. Open mouth, insert foot.
And while you're at it, prepare to have your ass kicked.
Luckily, Rogue had more important things on her mind and simply rolled her
eyes instead of pounding the snot out of her friend. Sidre gave a perfect
description of Logan, down to the pointy hair and growliness, and even Rogue
Sidre had taken Rogue with her to get supplies for a trip. Sidre was certain
that Logan would be following close behind, and since she needed to visit
someone in his home anyway -- someplace called Roan, in the Forest of Marn
-- they were going to wait for him there. She still wouldn't say why Rogue
had been taken away or why she'd come back. But she did promise that Rogue
would learn to control her skin.
Jubilee had approximately a million other questions, and she wondered why
Rogue couldn't see that they hadn't learned much more than they knew when
they first showed up. Her mind was obviously preoccupied with the Logan
concept and the thought that she would soon be able to touch. Jubilee had
been accused of having an overly suspicious nature, but she couldn't help
wondering if Sidre had told her those things specifically to keep her mind
occupied. Obviously Jubilee would have to be the one who watched out for
Rogue this time.
Of course, her track record in that department so far wasn't exactly
They left before dawn, and Jubilee leaned against Rogue, who was propped up
by the wall, yawning. It was cold enough that their breath came out in
clouds of vapor, but at least this time they were properly dressed. Both
Rogue and Jubilee had flatly refused to wear dresses, choosing instead to
wear tunics and slim pants like Risa, along with boots and the cloaks they
had been wearing before.
Sidre and Risa were packing bags that Jubilee was sure she was going to have
to help carry. That alone was enough to ruin the morning. Though Jubilee had
hoped for an SUV, van or at least a wagon and horses, it appeared they were
going to do more walking on this journey. Perfect.
"Rogue," Sidre said, apparently willing to use that name as long as the girl
followed her own plans. "Please go fetch your cousin. She is late. Four
houses down on the left."
Rogue straightened. "My what?"
Jubilee wasn't psychic, but she just knew what was coming next. Suddenly she
understood why blondie looked so familiar. "Celeste. Your cousin." Sidre
scanned their faces. "I thought she had told you."
Again, Jubilee had the feeling that Sidre was just playing them. She knew
damn well that nobody was answering their questions with anything but "Ask
Sidre." Rogue didn't seem to notice. Jubilee determined to keep an eye or
two on Sidre. She didn't care for being manipulated.
"She's my cousin?" Rogue didn't sound as appalled by the idea as Jubilee
would have been. But maybe the idea of having real family members who were
like her was appealing. No wonder Celeste had been able to touch Rogue. She
probably had the same power.
"I am," Celeste said coldly, appearing next to Risa, apparently out of thin
air. "Or so they say."
Rogue ignored the frosty tone. "Were our parents siblings, then?"
Celeste sighed and turned her back on them, testing one of the bags for
weight. Finally, she answered. "Our mothers were sisters, and your father
was my father's cousin."
Rogue hummed to herself and sank back against the wall. Sometimes her
friend was hard to read, but it was easy to see that Rogue was pondering her
parents. Her real parents, not some jerks who kicked her out when she turned
out to be a mutie freak. Rogue didn't talk much about what her life was like
before Xavier's, but what little Jubilee knew wasn't very happy.
Unfortunately, that was life for a lot of mutant kids.
Sidre gathered them together and handed out bags to carry. Jubilee found
that the straps on the bag could be placed to balance the weight of the bag
perfectly on her back. It wasn't too bad, though she dreaded setting out
carrying anything at all. Again she wished for a good plane, train or
automobile. But she got something better.
"Here, let me carry that," Alyn appeared beside her, smiling and tugging at
"Hold up!" she laughed, falling off balance and ending up in his arms.
Technically speaking, she could have avoided the fall, but where was the fun
in that? She found she enjoyed the position quite a lot, though she could do
without Rogue smirking at her exaggerated clumsiness. She thought of
flipping her friend off but decided not to risk it. She had no idea if Alyn
-- or worse, Sidre -- would know what it meant.
Instead, she pushed herself out of his arms and smiled. "Are you trying to
knock me down?"
The sweetie actually looked worried that she thought that. "Oh, no. I only
was offering to carry your bag for you."
Before Jubilee could answer, Risa piped in from behind him. "Alyn, you get
your own bag to carry."
It finally sunk in that Alyn was coming with them. Morning plus Jubilee did
not equal quickness of thought. "You're coming with us? But what if we run
into an adventure?"
Risa laughed, but Alyn looked perfectly serious. "I suppose you will have to
protect me, Jubilation Lee," he said.
"Will do," she managed before Risa dragged him off to find his pack.
"Cute," Rogue said softly. "Do his arms feel as strong as they look?"
"Mmmm-hmmm," Jubilee hummed. "Stay away, girl. I'd fight you for that one."
Rogue snorted. "Do I look like I want sparklers up my ass? No man is worth
"Not even your guardian?" Jubilee snuck a look at her friend, who was
frowning. "Don't you think it's odd that he was supposed to protect you, and
then he ended up saving your life, like, multiple times? That's fate, babe."
"I don't know. This whole thing is just --"
Sidre clapped her hands and motioned to the road in the opposite direction
from where they'd come. That was apparently leaderspeak for "let's get a
move on." Sighing, Rogue and Jubilee fell in line behind Celeste, who was
back to ignoring them. Rogue moved slightly ahead, leaving room for Alyn to
walk next to Jubilee. Jubilee smiled at her friend's back, then turned to
face a day of question and answer with Alyn.
They had quickly passed out of the town and into more grasslands, coming
upon a house from time to time. The houses became more rare, finally
disappearing altogether as they headed into a wooded area. This area seemed
fairly well traveled, because the path was pretty clear and smooth. Whatever
enemies they had were apparently not nearby, because they made no effort to
be quiet. Risa and Alyn even sang for part of the way, their voices blending
wonderfully, making Jubes wish she could carry a tune and join in.
They walked for two days, stopping for several short breaks during the day
and for five or six hours at night. Jubilee would collapse the second they
stopped, frankly pretty proud of herself for not whining. Not that she had
much of a chance to whine, with Alyn peppering her with questions all day
He was a wonderful distraction, though, and she reassured him of that
whenever he worried that he was annoying her. He offered at least 10 times a
day to carry her pack as well as his own. She turned him down, though she
was tempted to let him a few times. As long as Celeste was carrying her
bag, Jubilee wasn't going to wimp out.
Near the end of the second day, they started to see houses in the forest.
Most of them were wood, though a few used stone as well. Jubilee thought it
was odd that she saw no people, but Alyn whispered that the Untamed -- the
residents of this area -- kept to themselves and only made themselves known
if they wanted to speak with you. Apparently nobody did. Sidre kept them
walking too fast to stop and chat, anyway.
"This is where Logan is from?" Rogue asked, though Jubilee didn't think it
was really a question.
"He is from the town, Roan," Sidre answered. "We will be there soon."
The Nightowl: http://www.geocities.com/panda_grrl2000
Past Forward - Jamie (madjm@...)
Disclaimer, etc., with prologue
The feeling was strange, almost as if the forest were welcoming her. The air
felt familiar, loving, like it was embracing her.
Rogue took a deep breath and blew it out. She felt the remnants of Logan in
her, trying to force his way to the surface. If she hadn't believed Sidre
before, she certainly did now. This was where he was from. Her guardian.
She knew Sidre wasn't even close to telling them all they needed to know,
but she had the feeling that she could trust the woman, and somehow she knew
that trust was coming from Logan. Since Logan didn't trust many people,
Rogue was willing to give Sidre some time before she demanded to know what
was going on.
For now, it was enough to absorb the fact that she was from this place, and
that she was going to be able to touch. And that she was a freaking
princess. Rogue snorted, startling Celeste, who was walking beside her in a
fairly companionable silence. Was there anyone on earth who was *less* like
a princess than herself? She doubted it.
And then there was Celeste. Her cousin. Though she didn't really like her,
Rogue could respect someone who could take care of herself. She doubted
Celeste would've needed to have Logan almost die to save her. She probably
would have kicked Magneto's ass, and knifed Mystique on her way out the
Sidre called a halt a few minutes later, conferring with Risa for a few
minutes before calling to Rogue. At least she'd stopped calling her
"You will come with me into town," Sidre said, not even attempting to make
it sound like a request.
Rogue sighed. Trusting Logan's faith in this woman was wearing a little
thin. She left her pack with Jubilee, who barely paused in her description
of basketball to nod and take the bag. Alyn, Rogue was amused to note, was
hanging on Jubes' every word, looking at her like she was a goddess or
something. She bit back a grin and turned to join Sidre. It was about time
Jubilee got lucky.
As they walked the short distance into town, Sidre spoke in a low voice. "I
know you have many questions, Rogue. I promise to explain everything to you
tonight. There are things ..." The older woman sighed, and when she spoke,
her voice sounded almost defeated. "There are some things that you need to
know. Only you."
Rogue nodded but didn't answer. Somehow, getting answers wasn't as
Twenty minutes later, they came across a town in the middle of the forest.
Rogue had no clear memories of this place from Logan, and she realized that
she'd expected it to look like the Ewok Village from "Return of the Jedi."
With a name like the Untamed, she'd expected Logan's people to live in huts
and run around wearing loincloths or something. She allowed herself to
imagine Logan in a loincloth and finally had to quit, as the picture was
extremely attractive in a primitive way.
The town of Roan was just as modern as Fairfield, but much prettier. The
homes and other buildings were made of wood, and they were nestled among the
trees, looking as if they'd grown there. The trees were thinner in this
area, and Rogue could see they opened to a large clearing ahead where the
sun was allowed to peek into the forest.
Sidre led her along the road that wound around trees and houses. She
obviously knew where she was going, so Rogue felt comfortable following her
and trying not to stare at the people who streamed around them, ignoring the
strangers in their midst. Rogue realized they probably already knew Sidre
and didn't really care who she was. She revised that opinion a moment later
as she realized the creeping feeling along the back of her neck meant she
was being stared at. She twisted around but couldn't catch any one person
staring at her.
There were a lot of people, dressed in the same kind of clothing worn in
Fairfield, though fewer of the women wore dresses and more chose to wear
pants. She couldn't blame them. Rogue studied their faces and tried not to
make it obvious. There was something about the people that reminded her of
Logan, but it wasn't anything specific she could point to. Perhaps she was
just seeing something because that's what she expected.
Never assume. That was something Logan taught her when he was training her
to fight. It applied to a lot of situations.
Sidre skirted the clearing, barely dodging the three kids who came rushing
through from a path to the left. Rogue laughed as the little boy of about 5
crashed into her legs. She knelt down and set him back on his feet.
"You OK?" she smiled at him.
"M'fine," he said seriously, looking up at her with beautiful hazel eyes.
"Did I hurt you?"
She swallowed a laugh. "I think I'll be all right," she said, just as
serious. "Thank you for asking."
His patience apparently ran out as the two little girls playing with him
yelled at him to hurry up. Sidre motioned impatiently for Rogue to follow
and took off again. A moment later, they came to a large wooden building on
the opposite side of the clearing. The sign at the front was written in a
language Rogue had never seen before, but somehow she knew this place was an
She followed Sidre inside, into what was obviously a bar and dining room.
Though nearly everything in the empty room was made of a dark wood, the room
still managed to look cheerful. The row of windows along the front of the
building all had flowers blooming in windowboxes, and metal fixtures on the
ceiling held rows of candles. Fire crackled in a large fireplace at one end
of the room, and lovely woven tapestries hung along the walls next to the
Rogue had only taken a moment to gape at her surroundings, but Sidre was
already across the room talking with another woman. When she got closer,
Rogue got a good look at the woman and nearly tripped. She was just about
the most beautiful woman Rogue had ever seen, nearly 6 feet tall, with long,
honey-blond hair and distinctly catlike eyes. As she moved forward to shake
Rogue's hand, she seemed to slink rather than walk.
Rogue wondered if all the women Logan had known before were this beautiful.
She sighed. No wonder he wasn't interested in a kid like herself.
The woman, Sara, was a widow who owned and ran the inn and was more than
happy to set them up with several rooms for a few days. The place was pretty
deserted at this time of year, so everyone would get rooms to themselves.
After one of Sara's young sons was paid to go back and lead the rest of the
group to the inn, Sidre disappeared somewhere. Rogue was tempted to wander
around the town some, but she was suddenly very tired. She sank onto a bench
in front of the fire and leaned on the table, waiting for the rest of the
A few minutes later, she'd started to daze, her eyes drifting shut. She
snapped to attention as a bowl was set in front of her.
"You should eat something," Sara said kindly. "I hope you like stew."
"It smells great," Rogue said truthfully, taking the spoon that was offered.
Sara started to leave and then paused. "I would have known who you were,"
she said softly. Rogue imagined it was almost a purr. "You look exactly like
"My ... mother?" Rogue was surprised and horrified at the tears suddenly in
her eyes. She blinked them away. "Did you know her?"
"When I was younger, before I married, I worked in the city. At a
dressmaker's. I didn't know your mother, but I helped make many of her
gowns." Sara smiled again. "She was so beautiful, and all the people loved
Rogue smiled but decided not to ask anything more. Sidre was likely to know
more about her true mother, and she wasn't entirely sure she was ready to
know, anyway. After all, her parents obviously were dead. The story didn't
seem to have a happy ending, and she wasn't sure she wanted to hear it.
Rogue dug into the delicious soup, some kind of meat and vegetables. It
seemed like it had been ages since she'd had a real, hot meal, and she found
she was starving. When the rest of the group showed up a few minutes later,
Rogue was on her second bowl, along with a thick slice of bread and some
kind of ale to drink.
Jubilee took one look at her meal. "Oh. My. God. Real food!" she squealed,
and grabbed Rogue's spoon. Risa and Alyn were laughing at her as she sat
next to Rogue and started eating from her bowl. Rogue even saw Celeste crack
a smile. She thought she'd fall of the bench from the shock of it.
Sara and another girl quickly served everyone, and Rogue took another bowl
rather than try to retrieve the first one from Jubilee, who was ignoring
everyone in favor of the food.
A girl could lose a hand that way.
An hour later, almost everyone had gone to bed, even though it was still
early. Sara's dining room was packed with people, and Rogue and Jubilee sat
on a bench in the corner just watching.
"Sidre says she needs to talk to me alone tonight," Rogue said finally.
"That ought to be a laugh-a-minute," Jubilee cracked. "Where is she,
"I don't know. She disappeared a while back. Probably on some mysterious
"You do know," Jubilee said slowly, "that she hasn't told us jack."
"I noticed that," Rogue said, chuckling. "It's annoying, but my inner Logan
seems to trust her. We'll see what she has to say tonight."
"You'll tell me all, of course," Jubes said firmly.
"Of course," Rogue said mildly. Unless she had a reason not to tell.
They both saw Sidre come inside at the same moment. "Well, chica," Jubilee
said. "It's time for me to go nighty-night. Talk to you later."
As Jubilee slipped away, Sidre motioned to Rogue. "Come," Sidre said in a
low voice, drawing her back into the kitchen. Sara was still back there, and
she nodded but didn't try to stop them from entering another room adjacent
to the kitchen. It was a storeroom, but a small table and two chairs were
crammed into the back.
After they squeezed themselves into the seats, Sidre wasted no time getting
to the point.
"I've told you very little," she said. "This is because I will only have to
repeat everything once Captain Logan and his friends arrive."
"Yes, he is bringing two people with him," Sidre sounded annoyed. "I do not
understand what is happening, but things are not going according to my
Dream. That rarely happens, and I feel it will only complicate matters."
"Your dream?" Rogue was confused. For the moment, she put aside the question
of who Logan was bringing. "Do you ... see the future?"
Sidre sighed. "That is my Gift, yes. I Dream of future events, and often
they involve duties I must undertake. One of those duties was to take you as
an infant, on the night your parents and brother were killed. At that time,
I did not know what was to happen to them, but I knew they would not survive
the night. I also knew, for the sake of this land, that you *must* survive."
"You knew my parents would die? Why didn't you warn them or something?"
Rogue's voice raised, despite a warning look from Sidre. "You could've saved
"Hush, girl," Sidre said sternly, and Rogue sank back in her seat. "You
understand nothing. I could have warned them, but they would not have
believed me. It is impossible to stop a death that is meant. When I was
young, I tried once. ..."
Sidre sighed. "That is not the point. It was my duty to protect you, and
that is what I did." She poured herself a glass of water from a pitcher on
the table. "After your parents' death, your uncle, Deven Maron, took over
the throne. Though a few suspected at the time that he killed your parents
-- and most people believe that now, whether they say it out loud or not --
at the time he offered great comfort to the people. He spent a great deal of
effort to find you, as well. But Captain Logan and I brought you here for a
short while, and then we made it to the gateway."
"What *is* that thing, anyway?" Rogue asked. "How did it get there?"
Sidre shrugged. "I do not know. I first learned of it when I saw it in my
Dream. As I said, things usually happen as I've Dreamed them. But things are
different now. I knew you would return to take the throne back from Deven
Rogue sat up straighter. "Hold on. Take the throne? Why would I do that? I
don't want a throne. I'm not a princess, I'm just a student!"
"You may not want to be a princess, and yet you are," Sidre said, obviously
annoyed. "I would not wish to be a Dreamer, and yet I am. Deven cannot be
allowed to continue his reign. It was for this purpose you were born.
Perhaps it is my purpose as well. But things are different, and there is
more to tell you."
Rogue nodded and slumped in the chair. This whole princess gig was really
"You were to return months ago, and Captain Logan was to bring you. This is
how I Dreamed it. I began to worry when you did not come, and that is why I
sent Risa and Celeste to the gateway to wait for you. I am not sure what has
changed, but I Dreamed again last night. Captain Logan comes with a man of
dark hair and a mask of some kind, and a woman with red hair ... who has
strong mental abilities."
"Scott and Jean," Rogue nodded again. "If they saw him leaving, they
wouldn't let him come alone."
"The woman ... Jean," Sidre said slowly. "She is quite powerful, though she
has not met her potential yet. I wish to wait for her before we try to teach
you to control your power. Her Gift will be helpful."
Control her power. Rogue allowed herself a little hope. She had done
meditation and exercises with the Professor for years but rarely let herself
believe that they would work. It was too painful to find out they weren't
doing anything but reducing her stress level a notch or twelve. But now,
Sidre seemed to believe they would be able to help her.
"There is more," Sidre interrupted her thoughts. "I have Dreamed often of
confronting Deven Maron. You must be able to control your Gift, because you
must use it to absorb the Gifts of your allies. This is how he fights, and
you must do the same. You must face Deven. You *will* defeat him. I have
seen it. But ... my most recent Dream showed me something new."
Rogue found that she was holding her breath, and she briefly wondered if she
was developing psychic powers, because Sidre's next words were no surprise.
Sidre took a deep breath, and Rogue focused her eyes on a drop of sweat that
wound down the woman's forehead. When the words finally came, they echoed
inside her head. "You will defeat Deven Maron ... but you will not survive
the battle yourself."
The Nightowl: http://www.geocities.com/panda_grrl2000
Forwarding for Alara....
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[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
** Disclaimer in Part One
Westchester, New York
“Our first interrogation is with Logan.”
“The cranky, pointed hair guy right?”
“His code name here is Wolverine, and his mutation is the
ability to heal from virtually anything.” Scully finished.
“Wolverine?” Mulder asked, his voice dripping with incredulity.
Scully set the folder down and sighed. “Mulder, why are you so
reluctant to accept the fact that these people are mutants?”
“Because Scully we have two different views of what makes a
mutant. Tooms, that’s a mutant.”
“Eugene Tooms had a liver disorder.” Scully said simply.
“The Flukeworm. Are you going to deny that too?”
“He had a big mouth, that doesn’t make him a mutant!”
“And you’re saying that every person here is a mutant?”
A knock at the rec room door interrupted the two, and Mulder
opened the door for Logan, who looked less than thrilled to be standing
where he was. “Mutants exist dick.” He growled at Mulder and slumped down
into a chair.
“Join us, please.” Mulder said sarcastically.
“What sort of a name is Wolverine?”
“What sort of a name is Fox?”
“I wondered the same thing for years.” Mulder divulged.
“Where were you last Friday?” Scully asked.
“At the mansion.”
“Who were you with?” Mulder asked.
“Who’s that, your girlfriend?”
Neither of the agents missed the slight shift at the mention of
the woman’s name.
“She’s not your girlfriend I take it.” Scully ventured.
“But you have a thang for her don’t ya?” Mulder grinned,
enjoying the irritated look on Logan’s face.
“Don’t worry, we can smell our own.” Mulder said cryptically
while looking at Scully who was flipping through the files to make a note on
Logan growled, and to Mulder’s amazement two sets of glistening
claws shot out of the mutant’s hands. “Drop it bub.”
“Nice prosthetics, Scully put you up to that?”
“You wanna find out how real they are?” Logan asked in a
deceptively quiet voice.
Mulder just stared at him until the claws had retracted. The
man began rubbing his knuckles and waited in silence for the agents to
“Have you seen this before?” Scully asked, presenting Logan
with a picture of the victim.
“No. Well, it didn’t look like that at the time.” Logan
“But you’ve seen the deceased before?” Mulder pressed.
“I said yes, do I need to spell it out for you?”
“When was the last time you saw the victim?”
“Last Wednesday I guess. A bunch of kids were in the rec room,
listening to the shit they call music, and I saw him there.”
“What do the initials JVC stand for?” Mulder asked.
“How the fuck should I know?”
“Have you seen this before?” Scully asked, holding up a CD.
“Yes.” Logan said, his eyes narrowing.
“Can you tell me what’s on it?” She continued.
Again, Logan shifted uncomfortably in his seat, and didn’t
“Maybe this’ll refresh your memory.” Mulder said and set up the
A gruff voice began crooning, filling the room with sound.
/We are on fire, we have desires
/But one is that way
/One X-Men man’s gay *
/But we don’t want to be mean
/Since now he’s a queen
/Don’t ask please, which X-Man is gay
/Tell me who!
/Ain’t sayin’ that its Bobby
/Tell me who!
/Ain’t saying that its Logan
/Tell me who
/I never wanna hear you say
/Which X-Men man’s gay?
A metallic slice cut through the air, and a moment later, the
portable CD player had been impaled by three claws and began shooting
sparks. Logan stalked out of the room, and Scully extinguished the fire.
“I guess we know where the claw marks are from.” She said dryly, removing
the mangled CD from the fried player.
“At least we still have the tape.”
Later that day…….
“Mulder, we’ve been interviewing people all day. I think its
time to try a different approach and use the song again. Let’s see if we
can get the same reaction. If what happened to the CD player is the same
thing that happened to the victim, then we need to see the other four use
their powers.” Scully said as she repositioned the mangled CD player.
“I still say it’s a prosthesis.”
“Mulder, who the hell would use a prosthesis with claws?”
“Captain Hook.” Mulder grinned.
“Captain Hook is a fictional character. Besides he had one
hook, this guy has three claws on each hand.”
Scott Summers cleared his throat. “ You wanted to see me again?”
“Yeah, have a chair. Why don’t you take off your glasses?”
“I already told you what would happen if I do.” Scott said
Scully pressed play on the tape player she had procured, but
kept it out of sight from the man in front of her.
/Now I can see him
/He’s in leather clothes *
/But he don’t need a dogtag ID *
/He likes Village people, he’s playing Croquet
/But his ice isn’t cool to me *
/He is on fire, his back perspires
/Won’t say, won’t say, won’t say
/He’s always saying’ ain’t nothing but a butt ache
/Ain’t nothing but a fruitcake
/I never wanna hear you say
/Which one of us is gay
/Tell me who!
/Ain’t saying that its Johnny *
/Tell me who!
/Ain’t saying Scott or Charles *
/Tell me who!
/He’s baking up a soufflé
/Which X-Men Man’s gay *
/Okay, we’re all gay
Scott Summers took as well to hearing his own voice crooning as
Logan had. Before Scully could get out of the way, he had placed his hand
at the temple of his visor and blasted it. Like his teammate, he turned
tail and ran away.
“Come on Scully lets get you to the med lab, looks like a nasty
burn.” Mulder said, nodding at her right hand, which was raw and shiny
“Now do you believe they’re mutants?”
Mulder considered her for a moment. “Its plausible.” He said
seriously before ushering Scully out of the room with his hand on the small
of her back.
Annette: We need to talk about Michael
Jackie: Fine. I'll use really small words so you'll be sure to understand
Annette: That won't be good enough!
-'That 70's Show'
Autumn's Penguin Emprium
Outgoing mail is certified Virus Free.
Checked by AVG anti-virus system (http://www.grisoft.com).
Version: 6.0.476 / Virus Database: 273 - Release Date: 4/24/03
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Look for story information in part 1.
The morning after the disaster Mystique caused in the med-lab,
Charles Xavier sat in his office, thinking about what should be done
He had heard that Mystique was safely locked inside a hospital
cell, but he had not tried talking to her or contacting her
telepathically. He was the one she was the most angry with, so it was
probably not a very good idea.
He didn't try to work, but simply sat there, resting his chin in
his hands, staring before him with tired eyes. He had not slept at
all last night, nor had Erik.
Suddenly there was a knock at his door. Charles winced, but quickly
pulled himself together.
- Come in, he said, straightening himself.
It was doctor Lecter. He slid in quickly and closed the door behind
him. His dark eyes met Xavier's when he turned around.
Charles couldn't help it, but he became frightened. Lecter had been
scaring him from the first moment he saw him, and he still did.
Charles swallowed. What could he possibly want?
- Doctor Lecter? he said and tried to make his voice sound steady.
- I want to speak with you, said doctor Lecter.
- I am leaving today, and I think we have some things to sort out
before we part.
Charles cleared his throat. - Oh? What are you talking about now?
- You dislike me, the doctor said straight out.
- Doctor Lecter, I...-
Hannibal silenced him with an elegant motion of his hand.
- I don't read minds, not the way you do, but I do notice certain
things. Don't lie to me, please. It is only embarrassing and
- What was it that you wanted to discuss? Charles asked.
- Have you read my mind, Charles? asked doctor Lecter.
- No, Charles said. Never.
- Would you like to?
- Not even if I asked you?
Charles frowned confusedly. - What?
- If I asked you to read my mind. Would you do it then?
- Why on the earth do you want me to...
- Whatever you think about me, your picture is defective, said
Hannibal. Give me a chance to correct it before I leave. I think you
owe me that, Charles.
- I don't understand.
- I could tell you, but that would take too much time, and probably
you wouldn't believe what I said. It will be easier if you read my
mind. Can you do that?
Charles opened his mouth to object. Hannibal Lecter's gaze was
intense and demanding. Charles' fear grew. The man was crazy, after
all. A civilized maniac, perhaps, but still a maniac.
- Okay. But what will I see? he asked.
- You will see the truth, and nothing more, replied the doctor.
He started walking toward Charles' desk, and Charles had to make
efforts not to pull away from him as he advanced.
- I have to touch you, Charles explained. You have to come here.
Doctor Lecter came and kneeled in front of Charles' wheelchair and
simultaneously looked into his eyes. Charles' hands trembled when he
cupped Lecter's head in them, and he knew that the doctor probably
felt it, but he didn't care.
He knows that I am afraid of him anyway, he thought. There is no
use pretending I am not.
- Try to relax, he told doctor Lecter, although he could tell that
the doctor was as calm as he could be. It was rather Charles himself
who needed to relax.
- It won't hurt, but it might feel a little strange, he added.
- Go ahead. My mind is open, Hannibal replied.
Charles closed his eyes and started to focus. His hold of Lecter's
head hardened instinctively when he created the telepathic contact
and allowed himself to look into Lecter's mind and see what really
went on in there, for the fist time during his stay here.
The thought fascinated him, but simultaneously it frightened him
What he saw, overwhelmed Charles.
Hannibal Lecter let his memory palace stay open to Charles, and
gave him the freedom to look into every room, where he stored all his
memories - horrid, pleasant and sad - in detail. All he ever had gone
through, he kept there, somewhere, and if one just knew where to
look, one could find it.
Charles skimmed through Lecter's life, and saw it like a series of
photos spread over a table.
He saw Misja, the doctor's sister, Clarice Starling, the only
person he had ever really loved, except for his sister, and much,
The man's infinite supply of memories shook Charles. He had never
before encountered anyone who could keep a record like that inside
his head, only using his memory.
After a while Charles broke the connection and felt the sweat break
out on his forehead. He opened his eyes, and found out that he was
- How are you doing that? he whispered to Lecter.
- I do not know, the man replied seriously. I have always done it.
I actually don't know how. I just...can.
- You are not a mutant. What are you?
- I don't know, the doctor replied again, in a low voice, and he
was speaking the truth. Some kind of freak, I guess. I have been told
that all my life, but I do not know what I am. If I knew, I would
tell you, Charles. Trust me.
He let out a seep sigh and leaned his pallid head with that dark
hair against Xavier's knees.
Charles was still holding his hands around his head.
- How old are you? he asked carefully.
- I was born on August 13, 1939.
- Are you sure about that?
- It says so in my birth certificate.
- You don't look that old.
- I know.
- You are too strong for your age, too.
- I keep myself fit, that is all.
- All the evidence indicate that you are a mutant, but in case you
were, your brainwaves would tell, Charles said. Your gifts seem to be
a photographic memory, empathy, and accelerated cellular
regeneration. Like Wolverine. You are not as extreme as he is, but...
You can remember everything you ever see or hear, can't you?
- If I want to remember it, then yes, replied doctor Lecter.
- It is amazing.
Lecter didn't reply.
- Where are you going now? asked Charles.
- We'll see.
- You can stay here. I have plenty of room. And we could need
someone with your power.
Doctor Lecter sighed. - No, I cannot, he said calmly. I only wanted
you to know.
- Thank you, I appreciate that. If you were to change your mind,
you can just tell me. Anytime
- I don't think so. But thank you anyway.
Past Forward - Jamie (madjm@...)
Disclaimer, etc., with prologue
Jean had lost track of how many days they'd been traveling, but in the few
moments of sleep on the cold, hard ground she managed to catch each time
they stopped, she dreamed of being stretched out on a big feather bed. With
a bowl of chocolate beside her and a young Harrison Ford lookalike massaging
They'd stopped days ago at a village, but Logan had been in such a hurry to
press on that he'd only let them have a few hours of sleep at the inn. Since
then, he'd barely allowed 10 minutes here and there for them to rest. She
knew he was worried about Rogue, and since she was worried as well, Jean
Not out loud, anyway.
From time to time, Scott would shoot her a little grin, and she knew he was
picking up vibes from her, at the very least. Possibly entire words or
phrases she was using to curse Logan as she plodded along. It kept her
They'd finally made it to a place in the forest that Logan knew, and the
knowledge of the place seemed to relax him. He allowed them at least four or
five hours of sleep that night. The strange thing was, there were houses
nearby, and Jean could feel people around them, but they saw no one. When
she mentioned it to Logan, he wasn't concerned.
"You won't see 'em unless they want you to," he said, his step not slowing.
Jean looked at Scott, who shrugged. On impulse, she sent him a thought:
*Great. A whole forest of Logans.*
Scott grinned at her, and for a moment it was like nothing had changed. And
she wanted so badly to go back to the way things used to be, but she told
herself again that it was for the best. She was just doing what was best for
Scott. With a sigh, she continued behind Logan.
At first, she thought her eyes were playing tricks on her when she spotted
Rogue. The younger woman looked terrific, with her hair cut to a chin-length
bob and more color in her face than Jean had ever seen. She wore a dark
green tunic and pants, and she was holding a bow and arrow. Another woman,
tall and slim with short brown hair, stood beside Rogue, speaking too
quietly for Jean to hear and waving her hand at a scarecrow across from the
girls. The straw man was obviously being used as a target, since three
arrows were already sticking out of its chest.
Rogue nodded and drew the bow. Logan had stopped dead, watching, and Jean
and Scott came up on either side.
Rogue stared at the scarecrow, then muttered something and let the arrow
fly. Straight into the trees to the far left of the target.
"Shit," Rogue muttered, then laughed. "I'll maim someone this way. Probably
someone on our side."
The other girl laughed. "I think you are right, Your Highness."
"Knock it off, Risa," Rogue said, shoving the bow back at her. "I told you
not to call me that. Rogue. That's not too hard to remember, is it?"
"Ro ... Ro ... what was that again?" The brunette laughed again and threw an
arm around Rogue. "Well, Your Rogueness, I believe we may conclude after
three days that you will never learn the bow quickly enough."
"Sad but true."
"Jubilee, however ..."
Rogue sighed. "I know, I know."
"She is excellent. She has a true gift." Risa let go of Rogue and went to
pull the arrows out of the scarecrow, and Rogue followed her.
Logan stood still. Jean couldn't believe that neither girl had noticed their
presence. Especially Rogue. She usually had a Logan Radar that was better
than anything the Pentagon could cook up.
Rogue groaned. "Don't remind me."
Risa laughed again. "I am sure she reminds you often enough."
"You have no idea."
"You know," Risa said slowly. "You could ask Celeste to teach you to fight
with the knife. I have a feeling you would do well with one. After all, you
and your cousin are much alike."
"Oh, now you're asking for a fight," Rogue said, jokingly. Then she froze,
pausing only a moment before turning to face the three onlookers. She placed
her hands on her hips and raised an eyebrow at them. "It took y'all long
enough to get here."
Jean waited for Logan to answer, but when he didn't say a word, she spoke
up. "We were taking the scenic route," she said lightly. "How are you? And
"We're great," Rogue answered. If she was surprised to see them, she didn't
show it. "We'd better get to the inn. Sidre's waiting."
Rogue's eyes lingered on Logan for a moment. "You remember Sidre, Logan?"
"How could I forget?" he replied, his voice low.
Rogue glanced back at Risa, who was watching them, her expression neutral.
"Well, you're late, and she's mad."
Logan sighed. "Shit."
A bath and a short nap put Jean in a much better frame of mind. The idea
that they were going to get answers soon also helped. In the brief moments
she'd had to meet Sidre, she sensed that she was going to like the woman.
After all, anyone who could get Logan to call her "ma'am" was just too
interesting not to like.
Jean thought about changing into her only decently clean pair of jeans but
opted for the deep brown cotton dress that someone had laid out beside her
bed. The dress was simple in design and showed off her figure. Not that she
was dressing up for anyone, even though Scott had promised to save her a
seat at dinner.
She sighed, wondering when she'd developed multiple personalities. She
really wasn't trying to play games with Scott, but it was easier to talk
herself into doing the right thing when she wasn't with him 24 hours a day.
Plus, the little voice in the back of her mind telling her that she was
handling this wrong just kept getting louder.
She quickly french-braided her hair to keep it out of her face and pulled on
the pair of soft leather boots that had also been left for her. They fit
perfectly, just like the dress. Someone had a good eye, and she was betting
it was Sidre.
Scott had, indeed, saved her a seat, and she took in his appearance with a
grin. "I thought you'd be wearing tights or something," she teased.
"Hey, I'd look great in tights," he protested. "But this is all they had in
my size." He waved at the neat brown pants and white long-sleeved shirt.
He looked great in whatever he wore, but Jean didn't say so.
As she ate, Jean watched their group, which took up an entire table in the
dining room. The tall girl, Risa, was laughing and poking at a young man
next to her, obviously a relative. He, in turn, was smiling down at Jubilee
on his other side. Jubes, as usual, was talking nonstop. She, like Rogue,
looked somehow ... healthier ... for their time spent in this world. Maybe
it was the exercise.
Jean watched Jubilee lean closer to the young man and held back a grin.
Maybe it wasn't only the exercise.
Rogue sat next to a blond girl whose hair was done up in dozens of small
braids. Rogue had explained that this girl, Celeste, was a cousin, and Jean
could easily see the resemblance there. The blonde was sullenly staring at
the tabletop as she ate, and Rogue couldn't seem to keep her eyes off Logan,
who was talking with the owner of the inn, Sara.
The woman was certainly beautiful, but Jean knew Logan's true interest in
her was that Sara was his cousin, the last of his family left in this place.
Rogue had been talking with Sidre when Jean and Scott witnessed their
Jean was tempted to tell Rogue but decided that interference on her part
wouldn't be welcomed, by Rogue or by Logan. They were obviously in love, but
since Jean had had a slight psychotic episode and kissed Logan that day,
Rogue had avoided her and Logan had been nagging her to make things right
Jean snuck a glance at Scott, remembering Jubilee's in-class summary of a
Shakespeare play. "All Shakespeare is saying," the girl had declared, "is
that love makes asses of us all. Or, you know, something like that."
Jean couldn't have said it better herself.
It was late, at least after midnight, by the time the group gathered again
in the dining room. The tables were all cleared, and the other patrons were
gone. The fire still burned bright, and Jean snagged a seat near its heat.
Sidre was back from wherever she'd disappeared to earlier, and she spoke
with Sara before the inn's owner vanished upstairs. Another short conference
between Sidre and Rogue, and they were ready to begin.
"OK," Rogue said briskly. "I'll start this. If anyone has questions, go
ahead and interrupt me. We've got the dining room to ourselves for hours, if
that's what it takes."
Rogue scanned the group, and ran a hand through her now-shortened hair. "So.
My name ... my *real* name, is Emmarie Rosa Danis Maron. But I still prefer
Rogue. My parents were the king and queen of Sandoriel, and they were
murdered when I was a month old. The one who's responsible for their deaths
is my uncle, Deven. He's now the king."
"Bastard," Logan muttered.
Rogue ignored him. "The night my parents and my brother were killed, Sidre
and Logan took me out of the palace and hid me from Deven. Sidre ... Sidre
sees things in her dreams, and she saw the mirror-portal thingie in the
cave. They took me to our world."
Jean was concerned about Rogue. She was telling of bad things, horrible
things, that happened to her and her family, but her voice was completely
even, her face expressionless. Even if she couldn't remember her real
parents, the thought of them being murdered should elicit some kind of
emotion. Anger, sadness, fear. Instead, there was nothing.
Sidre spoke up. "We came out of the portal into a big room filled with
furniture and other things I did not recognize."
"It was a warehouse," Logan added. "A place where they have auctions. It was
in Mississippi. Sidre knew exactly where to take the baby ... Rogue. There
was a couple who wanted kids but couldn't have them. Turns out, they didn't
deserve to have kids, with the way they treated Mar--"
"Logan," Rogue said sharply. Surprisingly, he shut up.
"I returned home," Sidre said. "And Captain Logan was to remain in the area
and keep watch over the princess."
"I stayed," Logan said. "But when she got a little older, I started
traveling a little. I was only gone for a few weeks, a month at a time. I
worked odd jobs, did some fighting. One day, some military types grabbed me,
and next thing I know, I'm waking up in the middle of nowhere with no
"When did you remember all this?" Rogue asked.
"When you came through the mirror," he said. "I felt it somehow. And I
remembered. Everything about my life."
"Everything?" she smiled at him, the first expression she'd shown all night.
Time seemed to slow as he smiled back at her, and Jean felt herself holding
her breath. There was the sense that everyone in the room was doing the
After a moment, Rogue cleared her throat and shrugged. "So, that's it. Deven
has to be stopped. I've got to do it, and anyone who wants to help is
welcome. Sidre says we've got to get going on this. We're already late."
"What's the big hurry?" Scott asked. "He took over years ago. Why does this
have to happen now?"
"He grows stronger every day," Sidre answered flatly. "He shares the same
Gift as Rogue, but he uses it to steal the Gifts of others. He already has
many more abilities than we can know."
"How is that possible?" Jean asked. "Rogue has absorbed power from Logan
before, but it goes away soon."
Rogue cleared her throat again. "He kills the ones he steals power from.
Sucks 'em dry, I guess. And then he gets to keep the power. Nice deal,
"He uses his Gift in other ways," Celeste added, surprising Jean. The blonde
had spent most of the evening staring at the table or into the fire. This
was the first she'd even heard the girl's voice. "He uses it to create
"The *donte*?" Rogue asked. "He made them? How?"
"What's a *donte*?" Logan interrupted. "What's that mean? 'Shadow'
something, in the old language?"
"'Shadowed ones'," Sidre answered. "Deven has the loyalty of many of the
Outsiders -- they call themselves Barenians now -- those born without Gifts.
He proposes to bestow Gifts upon them, as if he were The One himself.
Somehow he has managed turn his Gift the other way. As well as absorbing
power, he can pass it on to others."
"The *donte* are the first ones he has twisted with his power," Risa added.
"They have the power of camouflage and excellent tracking abilities. They
have been trained to kill only. But the process has made them incredibly
loyal to Deven and single-minded in their purpose. They are not quite sane
any longer. They are very dangerous."
Everyone was quiet as they thought about what they'd heard. As the silence
stretched on, Jean tried to process the information. It was a lot to think
about, but the job of the X-Men was to fight evil, and it seemed there was
someone who fit the bill right here. They would have to help Rogue, of
course. Scott met her eyes, and even without her powers she could tell he
was thinking the same thing.
"If that is all," Sidre said finally, "I must ask the ladies to meet in my
"One thing," Logan said. "Rogue's not fighting that guy. I'll kill the
"Logan, you don't know what the hell you're talking about," Rogue snapped.
"Sidre *saw* it. I can fight his way. I have to fight him. The end."
"I don't care who saw what," he said angrily, standing up. "You are not
fighting that guy. I won't allow it."
"*Allow* it?" Rogue stood up, too. "It's not your business what I do. You
have no say in it."
"The hell with that! I'll tie your ass up and take you back through the damn
mirror if that's what it takes to --"
"Enough!" Sidre hissed. "Logan, you are neither young nor stupid. Please
stop acting that way. You of all people should understand duty."
Jean bit back a laugh as Logan flushed and actually shuffled his feet like a
little kid being scolded. Scott didn't even bother holding back a chuckle.
"Emmarie Rosa Danis Maron," Sidre turned to Rogue, who crossed her arms in
front of her and glared back at Sidre. "You are a princess, not some common
girl off the street. The proper response when one shows concern for you is
Neither Rogue nor Logan answered her, and Sidre sighed. "This must be dealt
with later. We have another matter to handle this evening. Ladies, my room.
Jean looked at Scott, who shrugged, then followed Sidre up to her room. It
should be interesting to see what other matter Sidre had in mind.
The Nightowl: http://www.geocities.com/panda_grrl2000
Past Forward - Jamie (madjm@...)
Disclaimer, etc., with prologue
Sidre had a larger room than Jubilee had, but it still felt tiny with six
grown women crowded into it. Rogue hadn't said much since she got a public
scolding from Sidre, and she leaned by the door with her arms crossed in
front of her.
Jubilee knew what was on the agenda for this evening, and she wondered if it
would work. It would be so cool for her friend to actually be able to
control her power, and Jubes was praying that Sidre wasn't getting her hopes
up for nothing.
After everyone was seated somewhere, Sidre explained why they were there.
All mutants, it seemed, had some sort of psychic power beyond a normal
human. Sidre herself had a secondary mutation that allowed her to link
mutants' power together. It seemed to be related to Rogue's type of
mutation. Sidre proposed that the women combine their power to help Rogue
find the control switch for her Gift. Jean seemed intrigued by the idea and
confident that it had a good chance of working.
Strangely, Rogue didn't seem bothered by the fact that Jean was around, and
Jubilee was glad about that. One of the reasons only the girls were invited
was that they would all be linked quite closely during the procedure, and
Sidre felt it would be more comfortable without the men involved.
Sidre had them shove the bed to the side and sit in a circle. Rogue had
Celeste on her left and Sidre on her right. Jubilee was between Sidre and
Jean, and Risa took the remaining spot next to Celeste. They grasped hands,
and Sidre asked them to close their eyes and clear their minds.
Jubilee closed her eyes, but clearing her mind was a lot harder than it
sounded. Every time she tried to not think about something, she couldn't
stop herself. She was suddenly reminded of a seance she and some friends
tried to have in second grade. Alas, no spirits wanted to talk to half a
dozen second-graders in the middle of the night. Jubilee chuckled, but a
sharp squeeze on her left hand reminded her of why they were there. She
tried again to clear her mind, settling for just focusing on the darkness
behind her eyes.
What seemed like hours later, something began to happen. Something like a
current began to flow through her body, not painful, but strange. She had to
fight the urge to let go of the other women's hands. Though her eyes were
closed, she started to see images. She heard Sidre murmuring on one side and
Jean on the other, but she couldn't concentrate on what they were saying.
In her mind, Jubilee saw Rogue standing in front of her. They were in a
long, dark paneled hallway lined with hundreds of doors in different colors
"Uh, chica?" Jubilee asked, but somehow it wasn't out loud but inside her
head. Or Rogue's head. Or wherever the heck they were.
"Jubes!" Rogue said, then laughed. "What are you doing here?"
"I don't know. I was concentrating, and then, like, I'm here."
"This is my dream," Rogue said. "I have it a lot. I always know I'm looking
for something important, but I can never find it."
"What is it?"
"I don't know." Rogue shrugged. "Wanna help me look?"
"I will," Risa said, popping out of nowhere next to Jubilee.
"Holy cow!" Jubes jumped and tripped, landing at Rogue's feet. Her friend
helped her up, just as Celeste and Jean materialized.
"So, I guess it's a field trip," Jean said. "What are we looking for,
Rogue looked confused. "I don't know. I'd know it if I saw it."
"It must be a door," Sidre said as she appeared behind them all. "It is
better if we find it quickly, before Jean and I tire."
The group set off through the hallway, sometimes randomly trying a door.
Brown doors, blue doors, gilded red doors, purple and green striped doors.
Some of them were locked, but most of them opened onto a scene from Rogue's
life through the girl's eyes. It was strange to see someone else's life, but
they only got brief flashes before Rogue would shake her head and move on.
One strange thing was that Jubilee found, if she concentrated, she could
almost be inside one of the other women's heads as well. She felt how tired
Risa was and that Celeste was frightened of something. Jean ... Jean missed
Scott so much it was like losing a limb. She wondered what they could see
about her. It was a disturbing feeling, and she forced herself to
concentrate only on the hallway and not on her companions, which made it
easier to focus.
Rogue, for her part, seemed intent on finding what she was looking for. She
marched down the hallway, only occasionally pausing at one of the doors.
Finally, they came to a set of slim off-white double-doors, and she stopped.
"I think ..." Rogue said softly. "I think that's the one."
Jubilee reached for the handle, but Sidre stopped her. "Rogue must do this
Rogue's hand hovered over a doorknob for a moment before she twisted it and
pushed one door open, stepping just inside.
They all saw it then.
**"Sweet 16 and never been kissed."
This is what her friend Liz always says, teasing that edges into meanness
that's only forgiven because they've been friends practically since birth.
Liz knows about kissing, having had her first real kiss at 13. Now she dates
a college boy -- community college, but it still counts the same, Liz says.
"Counts for what?" Marie asks, but she never gets an answer.
But Marie is still just sweet and 16 and unkissed, and she wonders if that
makes her a freak. It's not that she doesn't want to be kissed. She dreams
of it and craves it without really knowing why. But apparently there are no
boys who dream of kissing her.
Lately, she's been thinking of kissing David, and she thinks he's been doing
the same. Something in the way he looks at her now speeds up her heart and
makes her blush. She's known him for years, but somehow having him sprawled
on her bed is different, somehow more exciting. On her map, she traces the
path she hopes to follow someday. "...Niagara Falls, up the Canadian
Rockies, and then it's only a few hundred miles to Anchorage," she says, all
the time wondering if he's looking at her butt. And does she *want* him to
look at her butt? Is she supposed to want that?
"Won't it be kinda cold?"
"Well, that's the point, stupid. Otherwise it wouldn't be an adventure," she
"When're you gonna do this?" he asks, smirking just a little in a way that
used to annoy her but somehow now just makes her want to kiss him even more.
She stretches out beside him, close, but not too close. *Kiss me,* she
thinks. "I don't know. After high school," she says. "Before college?"
He's flipped onto his stomach, close enough to touch, and she knows this is
it. She tries to keep calm but thinks *KISS ME KISS ME KISS ME.* They
exchange a few glances, and she tries to smile, tries to show him that she
And then he leans closer, and so does she, and their lips touch. It's almost
funny, after all this time waiting, to find what it really feels like. It's
strange and exciting, and it makes her heart race, but then something
changes. *Something's wrong* she thinks, and so does David, and she knows
this because she can feel him inside her head, and she pulls away.
Then she wishes she'd closed her eyes because the boy she'd dreamed about is
convulsing, hurting because of her. She can't even form words, only a
scream, and David's in her head screaming too, and neither one of them ever
want to stop. She knows what she is. She's heard of mutants before. Even as
she tells her parents it's not her fault, she knows. She knows she's killed
him. She is evil.**
"Stop," Sidre said sharply, and Jubilee jumped. She came out of Marie ...
Rogue's memory, frightened at how she'd almost been pulled into it herself.
A glance told her that Celeste, Risa and Jean had been similarly affected.
Rogue was kneeling on the floor of the room, crying. "I just touched him,"
she sobbed. "I didn't mean to ..."
"Stop," Sidre repeated, and this time Rogue heard her. She looked back at
Sidre standing in the doorway and then back at the room. She swiped at the
tears on her face and stood up.
"Having a Gift does not make you evil," Sidre said firmly. "Only different.
You must accept who you are and use your Gift for good. And you know you did
not kill that boy. He recovered, but you did not. Do not be frightened of
your power. Embrace it."
"How?" Rogue asked shakily.
"Say farewell to this room and its events. Shut the door behind you and move
on," Sidre said simply.
Rogue wandered into the room, brushing her fingers over the bedspread,
picking up a stuffed tiger and hugging it to her chest. She spent a few
minutes in front of the map on the wall behind her bed, laughing softly
before dropping the tiger on the bed. She came to the door, switched off the
light and stepped back into the hall, shutting the door firmly behind her.
"So, that's it?" she asked.
"That is," Sidre said.
"How cheesy," Rogue laughed, and they all woke up.
Indecision was annoying as hell.
Jean stood outside Scott's door, arguing with herself. There were a number
of reasons not to knock. It was the middle of the night. She didn't even
really know what time it was, but it was still pitch black outside. She was
tired and achy. She'd had a little wine. She was probably overly emotional,
which was exactly the condition that had gotten her to this point. There was
also the possibility that she might have been right in breaking things off
with him in the first place, though not in keeping the real reason from him.
There was only one reason to knock, really.
She loved him.
Rogue's breakthrough had come an hour before. The women had all crowded
around her, congratulating and hugging her. Sidre got a bottle of wine from
downstairs for them to toast her with, and it turned into a little
celebration. Jean was so happy for Rogue, who'd been sitting on the floor
with a dazed grin on her face.
Jean remembered so clearly the feeling of freedom she had when the Professor
helped her to finally get her power under control. The wonder of walking
into a crowded room and not being overwhelmed by hundreds of minds was
something she would hold onto forever. She imagined Rogue would remember
this night forever as well. She wanted nothing more than to hug the girl,
but she was afraid it wouldn't be welcome. She concentrated on finishing her
wine instead, letting the other women's chatter and laughter flow over her.
A few minutes later, she nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard
Rogue's voice right beside her. Only the fact that she was so exhausted
could've kept her from noticing the younger woman's presence earlier. It
took a moment for her to grasp what Rogue was saying.
"I still don't get why you kissed Logan," she said. "You love Scott. I felt
how much you really love him. It's not going to go away. You need to fix
So, here she was. On the advice of a single 21-year-old girl. In the middle
of the night. Exhausted and maybe a little bit tipsy from the wine she'd
downed in Sidre's room. But Rogue was right; she needed to fix things.
If she could only make herself knock on the damn door.
At the thought, the door swung open, and Scott smiled at her. "You're
thinking too loud," he said. "You woke me up. What's up?"
"Rogue can control her mutation," Jean blurted. It wasn't what she meant to
say, wanted to say.
Scott looked surprised, then grinned. "No kidding? So, that's what this
ladies night thing was about? That's terrific!"
"It is, isn't it?" Jean laughed a little. "She ... damn it. That's not why I
came here. Scott, we need to talk. I can't take this anymore."
Scott pulled the door open further, and, if possible, his smile got bigger.
"Well, finally. Hurry up and get in here before you change your mind."
The Nightowl: http://www.geocities.com/panda_grrl2000
Look for story information in part 1.
After Charles had headed for his office, Erik went down to the
devastated med-lab to look for Jean.
Jean, Scott, Logan and Rogue had been working there all morning,
cleaning and tidying up.
The material damage had really seemed more serious than it was, and
it looked remarkably better now when all the glass splinters and
spread out chemicals had been removed from the floor. But much of the
equipment had been destroyed. That couldn't be denied.
- Are you coming to help us clean up here? Logan asked
sarcastically when they saw him come.
- You seem to have done well without me, Erik replied. I actually
came to talk to Jean.
Jean handed her brush and dustpan to Rogue, and went to talk to
- How bad is it? Magneto asked.
- Well, you can see for yourself, Jean said with a sigh. It will be
expensive to replace everything.
- Don't worry. I'll pay for it. Mystique was really my
- You mean that?
- At least partially. I know how important this lab is to the
school, and to you especially, Jean.
- Thank you. That would be perfect.
Erik tried to smile, but he felt all but cheerful.
- I even managed to find a small bottle of Rogue's serum that
hasn't been destroyed, Jean said. It will last for a couple of days,
I'd believe. She has to take injections twice a day, like a diabetic
has to take insulin.
- And where is Mystique? Erik asked at last.
- Would you like to see her? Jean asked.
- Not really, but I guess I have to. Can you please take me to her
- Sure. Come on.
Jean brought Erik to a thick door with a numberplate on its right
- Is she in there? he asked.
- Unlock the door. I want to go in.
Jean bit her lower lip and looked hesitant. - Is that wise, you
think? she said carefully. She was very aggressive last night. She
Erik shook his head, determined. - She won't hurt me. Never. She
won't go that far. Please open the door, now.
- Very well. Alright. I'll wait right outside.
Jean pressed a code onto the numberplate, and then gently knocked
on the door.
- Mystique? she called. Erik wants to see you. Is it alright if he
No answer. Jean shrugged and assumed that Mystique had calmed down.
Erik nodded at her, and she pulled the door open. He looked inside.
Mystique sat huddled in the head end of her bunk, with her legs
drawn up to her chest, and her arms around her knees. She lifted her
head when Erik came in. Jean closed the door behind them.
Now, finally, Mystique spoke. Her yellow eyes stared accusingly at
- So you came, anyway? he said mockingly. I thought you said you
never wanted to see me again?
Erik noticed that Mystique's hands, forearms and thighs were
bandaged. Jean had left her a robe, and a pair of panties and
slippers, but she didn't seem to have touched them.
- There is no reason for you to be sarcastic, he replied calmly as
he went and sat down on the side of her bed. We have enough problems
anyway. Don't you think so?
She didn't answer, but simply stared at him.
- Raven, Magneto said. Why did you do it? You can at least tell me
that, can you not?
- It was because of you... murmured Mystique. I wanted to have
revenge on you.
Erik sighed. - So you wanted revenge on *me*, and then you
destroyed the Xavier-institute's medical laboratory? Couldn't you
have taken it with me instead, so we could have...
- But you never came home! Mystique suddenly cried. I tried to tell
you I that wouldn't allow you to treat me like shit anymore, but you
- So this was a trick to get my attention?
She just shrugged in reply.
- Oh my God! Erik exclaimed. How old are you? Three years old?!
- I only wanted to make it clear that I wouldn't allow you to treat
me like you do anymore!
- And how do I treat you? How have a mistreated you? Are you
referring to my relationship with Charles? Are you jealous?
- You treat me like I was non-existent! What am I to you, anyway? I
was good to have around when you wanted to fuck, but now when you
don't need me to that anymore, you just dump me, like old shit! You
used me, and now you dump me! I hate you!
Erik sighed. - I *did not* use you, and you know that damn well.
You wanted me to fuck you, and everything we did, we did on your
terms. Always. You do remember that, right? So don't come here and
tell me that I have used you!
- You did use me! cried Mystique. I did everything for you, but
actually you didn't give a shit about me! Ever!
- No, that is not right, Erik objected. I did care about you, but I
have never loved you like I love Charles. Don't you understand that I
- You say so, yes, but really you don't give a fuck about him
- That was low, Raven. Why can't you simply accept it, and be happy
for me? I would be happy if you found your soulmate, Raven, someone
who you really feel that you belong with. Do you begrudge me to be
- How can you want to be with him? she said with a grimace. He
is... I mean... Does he even feel it when you fuck him? Isn't it like
fucking a dead guy?
- No, it isn't like that at all. Our sex life is working perfectly.
Charles is a wonderful lover, despite his physical handicap.
Mystique just snorted. - Right... she muttered.
- What is wrong with you, Raven? You have always known about my
sexual orientation. I have had male lovers all the time, and you have
known about it. I even took them home, sometimes. You never objected
then. And you knew about my relationship with Charles when we were
young. So what is the problem now?
Mystique simply shrugged again. - I don't know. You seem to have
forgotten me, that's all.
- I had hoped that we could stay as friends and colleagues even
now, but apparently I was wrong, Erik said shortly. I have
unfortunately no other choice than to let you move out of my house.
When she heard this, Mystique gasped and immediately bounced up
into a sitting position.
- What? You can't do that! Where do I go?
Erik just shook his head. - I am afraid I can't have you in my home
anymore. I will find you another place to live.
- No, please, let me stay, she begged and grabbed Erik's arm. I'll
do what you want, just don't throw me out. You know what? I can be
Charles, if you wish. I can be him, Erik, I can.
- Raven! You can't *be* Charles! How can you even think that? You
can take his appearance, yes, but you'll never *be* him. That was the
stupidest thing I have ever heard!
- But what do you want me to do, then? she asked in a trembling
- I want you out of my home. This isn't working any longer. You can
stay until I find you another place, but then you are out.
- Please... I'll change, Erik. I can change... I promise...
- You are not a young girl, anymore, Raven. You can make it on your
own. We will be much better off, both of us, if we don't share a
home. I hope we can remain friends, but we can't live together any
Mystique sighed and leaned back against the wall.
- But I love you... she whispered.
- I only want your respect, Magneto replied. I want you to respect
my relationship with Charles. Can you do that? Ever?
She didn't answer. The look in her eyes had become completely blank
and she looked almost apathetic.
- Raven, anyway, we are leaving now. You can stay at my place until
you find something else, like I said. Come on now. And put those on,
first. The people here probably don't want you to walk through the
At first Mystique didn't react, but when Magneto threw the clothes
onto her lap and snapped that he didn't want to start fighting about
this too, she obediently put on the robe and the panties, and stuck
her feet into the slippers.
Erik knocked on the door and called for Jean, who soon unlocked the
- I am taking her out of here, he explained in reply to Jean's
questioning look. We are leaving today.
- Oh... she said. But does Charles know?
- Not yet, but I will talk to him.
- Have you worked out your problems now? You and Mystique, I mean?
- There isn't much to work out, replied Erik and started leading an
almost catatonic Mystique toward the elevator, which would take them
up to ground level.
Disclaimer, etc., with prologue
"I'm not sure where to start," Jean said after a long pause, slowly pacing
Scott's room. She ran her fingers over a small wooden table in the corner
and turned to face him.
He was still standing by the door, legs spread slightly, hands clasped
together behind his back. His Fearless Leader pose. He was obviously bracing
himself for something bad.
She sighed and waved a hand at the bed. "Sit down, Scott."
After a moment, he nodded and sat on the bed, his back up against the
headboard. "Start at the beginning," he said. "The Donovan Laboratories
After another sigh, she began her pacing again. It was hard to think about
that night. Professor Xavier had been in London when they'd received word of
mutants being held captive at a facility in Boston. After consulting with
the Professor, Scott decided the team should go in right away to rescue the
Logan, Storm, Scott and Jean had taken the Blackbird to the facility. The
sleek metal-and-glass Donovan Laboratories, on paper a testing center for
cancer treatments, turned out to have a sublevel not shown on any blueprints
and apparently unknown to all but a few of the lab's top executives.
The team had split up to search the underground level. Scott and Logan had
found a handful of mutants, all drugged up and unable to escape on their
own. Storm had found an office and had copied all the available files from
the computer system onto a disc for them to study later.
Jean had found something else.
"I found the lab," she said finally. "Where they did their ... tests."
In her nightmares, she always saw the lab again. Cold and white, all sharp
edges and professional neatness. No personality. No touches of humanity ...
but also no touches of the darkness she would associate with those
scientists who would experiment on someone just because they were a mutant.
"I was looking for notes, something to give me a clue about what they were
doing, when I saw her." Adjacent to the lab was a small observation room
with a girl, no more than 15 or 16, stretched out on a table. She was
breathing, but her skin was deathly pale, making the bruises on her bare
arms and legs stand out. Jean acted without thinking.
"I had to get her out," she told Scott. "She was so young, and they'd hurt
The girl hadn't even moved when Jean shoved the door open. She'd lifted the
girl with her TK and carried her out of the room. Before she could contact
Scott or take another look around the lab, the alarms started going off. She
ran for the exit, bringing the girl along behind her.
Logan and Storm had taken out a couple of guards, enabling them to escape
the facility and herd out the few mutants they'd managed to find inside. As
they were taking off in the Blackbird, four black cars full of additional
security personnel arrived, but they were too late. The next day's news was
led with the story of a break-in at the lab that had ended in a mysterious
explosion. The entire building was destroyed, and any hope of finding out
more about the experiments was crushed as well.
"It wasn't until a few days later that I started feeling ill," Jean reminded
him. "And I never connected it to the lab mission at all. You, Logan and
Storm had taken Rogue with you to investigate that Friends of Humanity plot,
and I just thought I was getting the flu."
Jean turned away from him and leaned her forehead against the wall. "Then I
finally had a chance to look at the data Storm had copied from Donovan
Laboratories' computer system."
"Hold on." Scott hopped up from the bed and stood behind her. "You told us
there was nothing on the disk."
She took a deep breath and turned to face him. "I lied about it. There was
plenty on the disk. When we ... when we get back you can look at it. They
were developing a virus. They called it Project Void."
Scott's voice was even, but she could hear the anger just behind it. "Did
you tell Hank what you found?"
"Partly," she admitted. "Because the Professor brought him in to treat me,
he had to know what he was up against. But I didn't even tell him
She took a deep breath. She felt like her whole life was riding on the next
five minutes. "The true purpose of the virus wasn't to kill mutants ... but
to ... sterilize them. To keep us from breeding."
"To keep ..." Scott trailed off. "Of all the ignorant bullshit. My parents
weren't mutants. Yours weren't. My God, *anyone* could have a mutant child."
She laughed harshly. "Science based on ignorance. Or wishful thinking, I
"But ..." Jean could see the exact moment the truth hit him. In fact, she
could feel his shock inside her mind. "Oh, honey."
He was wrapping his arms around her a second later, and she swallowed the
tears that welled up and burrowed into him. He felt so good, and she
mentally called herself 10 kinds of idiot to deny herself his comfort in her
He pulled back slightly, then took a full step back. "*This* is why you
broke up with me?" he said hoarsely, and she realized he was close to crying
himself. Crying for her, which blew her composure all to hell. Tears started
sliding down her face, and she let them.
"I'm sorry. I guess I went a little crazy," she said softly. "It was too
much to handle."
"That's exactly why you should've told me," he said sharply, yanking a hand
through his hair. "The hard times are part of the deal, Jean. I can't
believe you didn't tell me this."
She didn't know what to say. He was so right, and she couldn't even come up
with an argument that didn't make her sound even more unbalanced. She'd just
decided that he deserved someone who could give him children. As crazy as
it sounded to her now, it made perfect sense at the time.
"You told Logan this," he said flatly.
Jean fought a sigh. Were they going back to this again? "That's totally
"Well, for one, I completely fell apart in front of him, and it just came
out," she said quietly. "But the main reason is, if I told you ... it would
make it real. Make it true. Don't ask me to explain, because I don't really
understand it myself."
He stood quietly for a moment, pounding one fist against his leg, and she
knew it was touch and go. He could either stay angry, or he could --
"Well," he said, obviously forcing a lighthearted tone. She relaxed
slightly. "It's about time you realized I only wanted you to make some
babies for me."
"Look," he interrupted, grabbing her hand. With his other hand, he thumbed
away the tears on her face. "I know how much you wanted kids, hon. I'm so
sorry. But you know there are plenty of kids out there who need a good home.
And ... this virus was experimental, anyway. Doesn't mean it will work."
"I know. And I haven't had any tests run, either."
He smiled and pulled her into a hug again. "After the way you hound everyone
else to get regular exams and not ignore potential problems ..."
"I guess I'm pretty much a hopeless basket case," she admitted. It had
crossed her mind that maybe another side effect of the virus was temporary
"Not hopeless," he corrected her gently. "Never without hope."
He said it with such feeling, such certainty, that she believed him.
"It's been a long night," he said, pulling away again. Her heart sank. He
was going to kick her out. How long would it be until things were back to
He ran a hand through her hair, then tilted his head toward the bed. "Shall
"Are we ... OK?"
Scott sighed. "I love you. You love me. Obviously we have some things to
work through, but I want to marry you just as much as I have since the day
we met. We can fix this. Plus, you know, I really miss you hogging the
covers and snoring."
"I *do not* snore."
"You do. But that's OK. I think it's cute." He grinned at her, and she
decided to let him win the argument.
She was feeling a little reckless. A little like her time was running out.
Probably because it was.
Knowing you were going to die had kind of a liberating feel to it. After
all, if most people found out they were going to die tomorrow, they'd
probably do something they'd always been afraid to do before.
She probably should be asleep, but she was wired.
Rogue pushed Logan's door open and slid inside. She could hear him breathing
evenly as she stood, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the dark. When they
did, she headed for the bed. She had a moment of deja vu, remembering the
night they almost killed each other. Since then, if she needed to wake him
up, she'd always done it from a safe distance, just in case.
Before she could change her mind, she was standing over him. She ran one
deliciously bare hand up his chest before leaning down and placing her lips
on his. She paused for a moment, just enjoying the feeling of skin on skin,
mouth on naked mouth with nothing in between, before she nipped his bottom
lip with her teeth and followed it with her tongue.
Just like that, he was awake and she was on her back with one solid, heavy
Logan pressing her into the mattress. Which, she reflected, was a hell of a
lot better than getting clawed.
"Hey," she said.
"He -- wait. Marie?" He sounded confused, and she giggled. Poor Logan. He
automatically braced himself slightly on his arms, taking some weight off
"What are you ... holy shit." Logan was staring down at her in shock. One
hand was cupped behind her neck and the other was grasping one shoulder,
bare in the tank top she was wearing. "I'm touching you."
"Mmmm-hmmm," she said again.
He slowly lowered his mouth to hers, as if giving her time to push him away.
That was the last thing in the world she wanted to do. He started out
gently, brushing his mouth against hers until she opened her mouth to him.
Still, he kept it slow, deepening the kiss until her entire body was humming
and she forgot how to breathe. This -- mouth against mouth, tongues sliding
against one another, breaths mingling -- this was something that couldn't be
replaced. Kissing through scarves was a pale imitation.
She murmured a protest as he pulled out of the kiss but quieted as he began
to press small kisses on her face, her forehead, her eyelids. She moaned
slightly as he moved to her neck, and again he pulled back. "I'm *touching*
you," he said again, this time with wonder in his voice.
"Seems like," she said dryly, not sure where all her good humor was coming
from considering that he was rolling away from her. Damn it.
She sat up and slipped off the bed as he rubbed his hands over his eyes and
then just sat there, staring at her.
"What?" she said finally, embarrassed and suddenly uncertain. What had she
been thinking, to just climb into bed with him?
"How did this happen?"
"Sidre," she said, twisting her fingers together and walking across the room
to the door. "She got up in my head. All the girls did, and we just kind of
found the on-off switch ... or door. Whatever. It's kind of hard to
"You can touch," he said.
"I think we kind of established that," she said, then to her utter horror,
she blushed. She hoped his enhanced vision wouldn't let him see her blush in
the dark. She leaned back against the door. "Well, I guess I'd better, you
know, go. Um, get some sleep."
He stood up and came to her. He touched her face with one hand, running the
other down her arm and clasping her hand. "Stay," he said.
"Stay. And sleep with me. Just ... sleep." She let him pull her toward the
bed. She knew what she wanted, and sleep had little to do with it.
"I'll stay," she said, slipping away from him and stretching out on the bed.
She grinned at him, fingers toying with the bottom edge of her tank top.
"But no sleep."
He hesitated a fraction of a second before joining her. "You're the boss,
Much later, as she snuggled closer to Logan and savored the feeling of his
skin against hers, he kissed her head and spoke.
"Do you want to know about Jean? The Kiss Incident?"
She laughed a little. "I really don't. But there is something I wanted to
"You said you remembered everything about your life before? I was wondering
... is Logan your real name?"
"Yeah," he said. "It's my family name. My last name, you'd say."
When he didn't continue, she poked him in the ribs. "So?"
"So, what's your first name?" she asked.
"Oh. It's Hugh," he said. "After my great-grandfather."
"Hmmph. You don't look like a Hugh," she decided. "I'm still going to call
"You can call me whatever you want, darlin'."
She grinned mischievously. "*Anything* I want?"
"Logan'll do," he said quickly as she laughed.
They lay drowsing for a few minutes before he spoke again.
"Can I tell you a secret?"
"Anything," she said sleepily.
"When I was a kid, there was a woman in Roan that the kids called 'Old
Anni.' Mom would always yell at us for calling her that, but then she
admitted that Anni had been old even when Mom was a kid. Old Anni was
supposedly a seer. Half the people thought she was a crackpot, but half of
them said things she'd told them about their future came true.
"Well, my older brother, Samuel, and I snuck out one night and went to see
Old Anni. I was about 11 or 12, so I wanted to hear about all these
adventures I would have, how I was going to be a great warrior or something.
Do you know what she told me?"
"Ummm. Something about having claws and wearing a lot of black leather?"
Rogue murmured with a laugh.
"She told me I was going to marry a princess."
Rogue froze. "Logan."
He chuckled. "I'm not suggesting we run out tonight and get hitched, Marie.
I'm just saying. It's funny that I ended up falling in love with a princess
Rogue felt a wave of longing go through her. If she left now, if she ran
away, she could have this. She could marry Logan, and they could live
happily ever after with 2.5 kids, a dog and a white picket fence. And God
knows how many people would die because of her selfishness.
"I love you, Logan," she said softly, thinking *Please, make me leave this
Then he kissed her hard again, pulling her body over his, and she didn't
think at all.
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Disclaimer, etc., with prologue
Something was obviously going on, and Jubes didn't like being kept out of
the loop. Rogue and Jean, who hadn't even been speaking before the previous
night, were suddenly whispering and giggling in the corner of the dining
room by themselves. Jubes never thought she would witness the elegant and
brilliant Jean Grey giggling, but the number of strange things happening
just kept piling up lately.
Jubilation Lee wasn't one to waste time, or words.
"What's up with you two?" she asked, dropping down on the bench next to
"What do you mean?" Jean asked.
"You're being all ... giggly. Let me in on the secret," she demanded.
"Sorry, Jubes," Rogue drawled. "You're not part of the club yet. Or *are*
you?" Rogue and Jean exchanged a Significant Glance.
"Which club are we talking about here? Narcotics Anonymous?"
"The Drunken Sluts Club," Rogue said, laughing.
"Well, technically, I wasn't drunk," Jean said.
"Neither was I," Rogue said. "But Tipsy Sluts Club doesn't have the same
ring to it."
Jean laughed. "Good point." She looked at Jubes closely. "I don't suppose
last night you crawled into bed with a certain cute guy we all know?"
"No!" Jubes blushed, which was downright annoying. "Why would you think I
Now Rogue was blushing. Jean was just smiling smugly. Jubes glanced around
the nearly empty room. "You guys got laid last night! No wonder you're in
such a good mood this morning. Way to go."
"Uh, thanks, I think," Rogue said.
Jean suddenly froze, staring across the room. Scott stood in the doorway,
grinning at her. Without a word to the other two, she got up and joined him,
throwing her arms around him. After a moment, they headed upstairs. Jubilee
was glad that they'd worked things out, but geez. Couldn't they keep their
hands off each other for a couple of hours?
"Welllllll," Jubes drew out the word. "Lotta sex going on around here last
night, eh? So."
"So?" Rogue looked at the ground.
"C'mon, chica. This is Jubes you're talking to. Details, girl! I want the
dirt. Was it, you know, mind blowing? Was the Wolviemeister worth waiting
for all this time?"
Rogue grinned, then bit her lip. "I don't kiss and tell, Jubes. I'll just
say ... wow."
Jubes threw an arm around her. "Wow sounds good. I'm just ticked off that I
missed out. You know, I pride myself on being at the forefront of trends. I
guess I'm losing my touch."
Rogue hugged her closer, and it was great to not have to be extra careful of
her friend's skin. "Can you imagine what Alyn would've done if you'd shown
up at his room last night?"
Jubes laughed. "He'd probably have asked me to tell him about hockey or
cheeseburgers again. I'm like his Google.com, his Encyclopedia Jubilanicca,
Rogue pulled back and smiled at her. "I don't think so, Jubes. I've seen the
way he looks at you. There's definitely possibility for a Thing. I think he
asks you all those questions just to have an excuse to watch you and listen
Jubilee shrugged. "I don't know. I just think ... he's so different from the
guys at home, you know? Like, not everything is about sex. He really wants
to get to know me. That's kinda cool." Still, she added silently, it was a
little insulting that he'd never even tried to kiss her or anything.
"Very cool," Rogue agreed. The front door opened, admitting Sidre and Logan.
He turned and aimed a cocky grin at Rogue, who blushed again. "Though
there's certainly nothing wrong with sex."
"So sayeth Drunken Slut Number One," Jubes laughed.
Rogue stood up and smiled down at her. "Just let me know when you pass the,
um, initiation. We'll let you in the club."
Jubes watched her friend walk to Logan. She smiled at him but spoke to
Sidre. Logan ran his hand over Rogue's shoulder and back before draping his
arm around her waist. It was like he was just reassuring himself that she
was there and she was OK.
For a moment, Jubilee pictured Alyn standing beside her, touching her that
way. She sighed. She wasn't quite ready to join the Drunken Sluts Club yet,
but she sure wouldn't mind a damn kiss.
It was a long day, on top of very little sleep. Sidre was like a drill
sergeant, ordering people around right and left. Supplies had to be
purchased, organized and packed. Messages had to be sent. Fighting had to be
practiced. Rogue had to work on controlling the strength of her power.
Everyone, even Logan, rushed to comply when she gave orders. Logan caught
Rogue yawning sleepily from time to time, and the wicked grin he'd give her
worked like a jolt of electricity, keeping her going most of the day.
They planned to leave the next morning and travel to someplace called the
Pendrell Valley, which was just outside the city of A'Mirion. There, they'd
meet with the leaders of a group of soldiers and others who were in
opposition to Deven Maron. The makeshift army would engage Deven's troops in
a battle while their small group entered the city.
Rogue would absorb the Gifts of her companions and go to face Deven alone.
Logan's arguments against this were largely ignored, by Rogue and by Sidre,
but Rogue could tell he hadn't given up yet. She faced the possibility that
she might have to use her power to knock him out before the fight. But she
didn't want to think about that yet.
After dinner, most everyone headed up to bed. They would be getting an
early start the next morning, and it would take several days to get where
they were going. Rogue was staring into the fire and tapping her fork on the
table when Logan sat down beside her on the bench and pulled her close.
"Come to bed," he said gruffly, kissing her neck.
"In a few minutes," she said, turning to smile at him. "I want to talk to
Celeste for a few minutes first, 'K?"
"Sure." He brushed a kiss across her forehead as he got up. "See you in a
Her smile faded as he headed up the stairs. After a few more moments of fire
gazing, she went upstairs to Celeste's room and knocked softly on the door.
Celeste pulled the door open and just stared. Rogue stared back. Her cousin
was wearing a long, white nightgown, and her blond hair was combed out of
the braids she usually wore. She looked different, younger or softer
somehow. It was easy now for Rogue to recognize the similarity in their
features. But still a little strange.
"Hey," Rogue said. "Can I come in for a sec?"
Celeste looked surprised but waved her inside. She shut the door and turned
to face Rogue, her hands nervously clasped in front of her. Rogue figured
she was itching to hold onto a knife or something.
Before she could speak, Celeste suddenly said, "I want to cut my hair. Like
yours." She played with the ends of her hair, which was past her shoulders.
Rogue was startled. "Oh. Well, be completely sure before you do it. It's not
something you can take back after the fact."
"You do not like your hair?"
"I ..." Rogue sighed and ran her hair through the short cut. It still felt
strange after years of wearing her hair long. "It took me ages to grow it
out, and I kind of whacked it off in a fit of frustration. I'm not sure I
really wanted it cut."
"Oh." Celeste went to the bed and sank down, seeming to relax slightly. "It
looks ... nice. And not always in your face. But, if you do not like it, I'm
sure it will grow out again soon enough."
Rogue sighed inwardly. It sure wouldn't grow out again before she died.
Though, she remembered reading somewhere that hair continued to grow even
after someone was dead. Shaking off that morbid thought, she sat down next
"I wanted to ask you something," she said. "When Deven's gone, who'll be in
charge of Sandoriel?"
Celeste looked startled. "You will be named queen," she said.
Rogue winced. "I mean, if I can't rule, who would be the next in line?"
"Why would you not rule?" Celeste stood up. "What is going on? Something is
not right, I feel it. And Sidre will not tell me anything!"
Rogue nodded for her cousin to sit down again. After a moment, Celeste
"I can't be a ruler here," Rogue said carefully. "I may have been born here,
but it's not my home. I don't belong here." True, as far as it went. Even if
she would survive the battle, she couldn't imagine staying in this place.
Celeste was quiet, staring at the floor. Finally, she said, "My father."
"Your father would rule?"
"He is next in line," Celeste nodded.
"Is he ..." Rogue paused. "Will he be a good ruler?"
Celeste met her eyes and smiled, only the second time Rogue had seen her do
such a thing. "He will be a great ruler," she said firmly. "He is smart and
strong, but he is also compassionate."
Rogue smiled wistfully. "Good. I wish I could have known him."
"He is one of the commanders of the soldiers," Celeste said. "You will meet
him in the valley."
"OK. Well." Rogue stood up and headed for the door. She didn't want to think
about leaving this forest, much less getting closer to A'Mirion and her
fate. "I need to get to bed."
"Before you go," Celeste said softly, almost shyly, "would you help me cut
Rogue smiled at her cousin and wished she could have had a chance to know
her better. "I'll cut it for you," she said. "But only if you tell me about
Celeste gasped. "I have no boyfriend!"
"Oh, come on," Rogue teased. "That archer guy that was guarding Fairfield.
The cute one. Thomas, I think? He was totally into you."
Rogue grabbed the scissors Celeste offered her. "He *likes* you."
Celeste blushed. "He is always saying silly things to me."
"He's flirting with you," Rogue laughed and pushed Celeste into the room's
only chair. "You should try saying silly things back to him."
"Oh." Celeste laughed a little. "I cannot even imagine what to say."
"Tell me what sort of silly things he says to you, and I'll tell you what to
say back," Rogue suggested. "You're smart, you'll figure it out."
Celeste sobered and grabbed Rogue's hand before she could start cutting. "I
am sorry I was so hateful to you at first," she said solemnly. "I felt angry
because my father deserves to be king. He has such dreams for Sandoriel, and
I thought you would ruin them."
Rogue blinked back tears, startled when she saw Celeste doing the same.
"Damn it," she said, pulling her cousin into a hug. "This place is giving my
tear ducts a workout."
Celeste hugged her back, tentatively at first, then harder. "I am glad you
came here, cousin."
"Me, too," Rogue said, surprised to find that she meant it. She wasn't that
thrilled about the dying part, but it was amazing to meet her real family
and to finally be with Logan. And, hell, at least she'd go out with a bang.
"OK, look," she said, pulling back. "We've got to get this hair cut before
Logan comes looking for me. And then, we'll be like twins."
Celeste grinned and nodded, sitting back down.
"What took you so long?" Logan growled sleepily as she crawled into bed. He
pulled her back to him and spooned her in his arms.
Rogue stared into the dark, feeling Logan's body warming her through her
nightgown. "You know," she said. "Girl stuff."
"Hmmm," Logan hummed, sliding a hand up from her belly to cup her breast.
"We should get some sleep," he said unconvincingly.
She laughed softly and arched into him, her rear brushing his erection.
"Yeah, I can tell you're real tired," she drawled.
"You could hardly stay awake today," he said. "You'll be exhausted
"Well," she said, rolling over and pushing him onto his back. "I guess
you'll just have to carry me, then."
She hiked her nightgown above her knees and straddled him, rolling her hips
into his, and was rewarded with a groan. "Is it a deal?" she asked.
"Deal," he said, laughing. "I'll carry you the whole damn way."
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Disclaimer, etc., with prologue
Jubilee was awake enough to be cranky, but that was about it. It was early
enough that it was still dark out, and cold as hell. Everyone else seemed to
be in a damn cheery mood, even Rogue. Logan had shown up this morning,
carrying her friend in his arms, despite Rogue's laughing protest. He just
kept saying he was going to keep his promise, whatever that meant.
Finally, Sidre sent them a disapproving look, and Logan put her down, but
not without a long, deep kiss that had Risa whistling and a couple other
people cheering. It just made Jubilee more cranky.
She pulled her cloak closer and huddled against the front of the inn as Alyn
came up to her.
"Would you like me to carry your pack?" he asked politely.
"Oh. I would not mind," he said.
"I said no."
Looking worried, he leaned against the wall beside her. "Are you feeling
ill, Jubilee? Perhaps Sidre could --"
"I'm fine, Alyn," she said tiredly. "I didn't sleep well is all. I don't
feel like talking."
"All right," he said, sounding hurt. "I will leave you alone."
Jubilee sighed as he walked away. She didn't know what was wrong, but she
was just feeling out of sorts. She was having nightmares about Rogue. She
wanted to go home. She wanted Alyn to look at her like a *girl*, not an
encyclopedia. And she wanted to not be freezing her ass off. Right now, she
thought, she should be in Jamaica or the Virgin Islands, sunning herself on
the beach. Or taking a nap in a hammock with a wonderful ocean breeze
cutting through the heat and blowing over her.
"Hey," Rogue said, leaning where Alyn had been a moment before.
"You OK this morning? You look kind of tired."
"Gee, thanks," Jubilee said sarcastically. "It's the butt crack of dawn,
Rogue, of course I'm tired."
Rogue chuckled. "Fair enough. But I noticed you chased Alyn off, too."
"I don't feel like playing Twenty Questions right now. I didn't sleep well."
"I'm sorry," Rogue said. "Insomnia or nightmares?"
"Nightmares, then insomnia," Jubilee said. "I keep dreaming that one of
those *donte* things is killing you and Risa, and I can't stop him."
"Oh, Jubes, I'm sorry."
"It's not your fault."
"I know," Rogue said quickly. "I just mean ... you know, if anything
happened to me, it wouldn't be your fault. Sometimes things are just meant
That was like a jolt of caffeine for Jubilee. "What does that mean?" she
asked, standing up straight. "Do you know something I don't?"
"Don't be silly," Rogue said. "I'm just saying, things happen. That's all."
Before Jubilee could ask anything more, Sidre called to Rogue, who looked
awfully damned relieved to end the conversation.
Jubes pondered the possibility that her nightmares were happening because
she was picking up vibes from her friend. She narrowed her eyes and studied
Rogue and Sidre, leaning close together and talking. A movement to the side
caught her eyes, and for a moment she watched Logan watching the other two
women as well. He then looked straight at Jubilee and raised an eyebrow. She
shrugged back at him. *Don't ask me*, she thought.
They set off a short time later, and Jubilee's mood didn't improve much.
They were traveling on a wide, relatively smooth path, and at least the
walking helped keep her warm. Most people sensed her mood and stayed away
from her, but a few minutes into the journey, Alyn came up beside her.
"Have I ..." he hesitated. "Have I done something to make you angry with
"No," she said. "You haven't done anything wrong."
He nodded and was silent for a moment. "Would you tell me more about your
world?" he asked finally.
Jubilee sighed. "In my world, they have something called kissing. When boys
and girls like each other there, they kiss. Do they do that here, too?"
He blushed. "Yes, we have kissing also."
She stared at him until he flushed even more. "What ..." He cleared his
throat. "What else do you have in your world?"
Jubilee did a fair imitation of a Wolvie growl and sped up, away from him.
Behind her, she heard Risa laughing. "She wants you to *kiss her*, idiot!"
Alyn's response was lost as Jubilee moved ahead, next to Logan and Rogue,
who looked like she was walking in her sleep.
Logan smiled at her -- an actual smile, not a smirk -- the first time she
could remember him doing so. "He's just a slow mover, Jubilee. He'll get
around to it," he said. "Or you could do like Marie, and just jump him. I
promise he won't mind."
That earned him an elbow in the ribs from Rogue and a growl from Jubilee,
but he didn't look too upset about it.
They were a day and a half into their journey, and Jubilee had finally
regained her good mood. The exercise and the sun, combined with a night
without a single nightmare, helped her bounce back. She even approached
Alyn and started telling him about roller coasters before he could even ask.
Things seemed to be fine between them, but the way he looked at her was a
little different now. More intense, more like he was trying to read her
mind. She stopped in her tracks at that thought and looked over at him.
"Alyn, I guess I've never asked you. What is your Gift?"
Risa and Celeste passed them by as he smiled down at her. Startling her, he
reached down and tucked an arm around her waist and lifted her easily,
pressing her into his chest. She kicked her dangling legs slightly and
"Like my sister, I have above-average strength," he said, not letting her
go. "I told you I did not mind carrying your pack as well as my own."
"Hmmm," Jubilee said, on impulse sliding her arms around his neck. "I guess
I should've let you carry it. But I guess I could use the ..." She trailed
off as her eyes met his.
"I wanted to kiss you the first time I saw you, Jubilation Lee," he said
softly. "But I did not want to offend you."
"I'm, um. I'm not offended," she managed.
He grinned and lowered his head.
"Hurry up, lovebirds!" Risa yelled at them. "We do not want to lose you!"
Jubilee groaned as Alyn set her back down. He started to take the bag from
her back, but she stopped him. "I got it," she said, smiling. "I'm stronger
than I look." Strangely shy, she held out a hand.
Alyn took her hand in his, surprisingly gently for someone who could
probably break her in half, and they followed the others.
*The *donte* slid through the forest, its darkened skin changing and
blending with every sly step. It had picked up a new trail; it was the girl
that HE wanted. Although it had different orders, the *donte* never forgot
and it never gave up. The new target could wait; this one was the most
important. HE had made sure that was known. The last one had failed, and
twelve soldiers had been slaughtered because HE was so angry.
Not that the *donte* was concerned for the dead. It only knew that HE would
be pleased to have the girl.
The *donte* wanted, above all, to please its master.*
Jubilee tossed and turned in her sleep. "No," she said.
*It made no sound as it slithered along, melting into the foliage. There
were others with the girl. They would have to die, but the *donte* felt no
concern. It must be done.
They had made a fire, and instinctively the *donte* shied back from it. It
had vague memories of standing in the sun, standing in front of a fire
before, but now it could barely stand the light. It saw a female, standing
guard over the others, who were sleeping. This female was not the one, but
she would have to die before it could get to the one it wanted.*
"Risa," Jubilee muttered.
*It crept closer, and the female with a bow saw it only seconds before one
of its knives plunged into her chest. She reached for a knife of her own,
and the *donte* moved to strike her, but then it saw, across the clearing,
the girl it wanted. Absently, it snatched the first girl's knife while
watching the other one.
She was wrapped in a blanket, with a man curled around her. It remembered
the white streak in her hair, though it was shorter than in the image HE had
given the soldiers. It glanced once more at the girl it had stabbed. Her
skin was dead white and her breathing labored. The wound, combined with the
poison on the knife, would kill her at any moment.*
"NO!" Jubilee snapped awake and yelled. "Risa!"
There was dead silence in the clearing for half a second, then nearly
everyone was on their feet, scanning the woods around them with weapons --
or claws, in Logan's case -- at the ready.
Risa stood in the middle, bow drawn. She was uninjured. "What were you three
yelling about?" she asked, still peering into the forest around them. She
glanced at Jubilee, then Jean and Celeste.
Jubilee looked at the other women in surprise. "You had the dream, too?" she
"I have dreamed of the *donte* for three nights," Celeste said.
"I had the dream, too," Rogue piped up. "I guess I've just trained myself
not to wake up screaming from nightmares."
"I dreamed of it, too, I guess," Jean said. "It's a dark creature that
blends into its surroundings, right? But I only had the dream tonight."
"Me, too," Rogue said. She laughed a little and glanced at Logan. "But, um.
I haven't been getting much sleep lately."
She and Jean exchanged a glance and small smiles.
"You were seeing my Dream," Sidre said quietly, and everyone turned to stare
at her. She was sitting on a log beside the fire with her elbows braced on
her knees. "I suppose the link we forged to help Rogue with her power is
still somewhat intact. You saw what I Dreamed."
Risa swallowed hard and looked at the other women one at a time. Then she
turned to Sidre, kneeling in front of her. "I am to die, then?" she asked
Sidre hesitated, and Alyn answered instead. "No, sister," he said. "We know
it is coming now. We are prepared for it. Right, Sidre?"
Jubilee noticed Rogue watching the older woman closely. Sidre looked at each
of them before sighing. All she said was, "We will be careful."
Which didn't mean a damn thing, as far as Jubilee was concerned.
The attack came the next night.
They were sleeping in shifts, or trying to sleep. None of them were really
getting any rest. Jean was curled up next to Scott by the fire with her eyes
closed. She hoped she looked like she was sleeping, but she was really
keeping a psychic lookout on the whole camp. It was hard, tiring work, and
she was grateful to have Scott close. Just being able to lean back against
him and feel his arms around her helped give her strength.
She felt it the second the *donte* came within range. She was careful not to
probe its mind because she didn't know what, if any, psychic abilities it
might have. But even without trying, she felt its focus, its determination,
its eagerness to please its master. She waited for it to come closer. It
wouldn't be wise to let it get away.
Jean focused on the members of their group. When she had them firmly in
mind, she thought *now*, and they sprang into action.
In mid lunge, the *donte* was caught by two arrows, a thrown knife and a set
of adamantium claws. They'd decided ahead of time that Scott and Jubilee
would only use their power if absolutely necessary. For good measure, Jean
held the shadowed one in place with her telekinesis, but it was unnecessary.
The creature was dead.
Logan insisted on cutting its head off before he would believe it was really
dead. Jean supposed she didn't blame him. He was doing everything in his
power to protect Rogue, and even if he hadn't experienced Sidre's Dream
himself, hearing about it obviously spooked him.
"Sidre," Rogue said, expressionlessly watching Logan at his grisly task. "In
the Dream, that thing was coming after me. That means Deven must know I'm
"Yes," Sidre said. "He must."
"How would he know that?" Logan asked.
Sidre shrugged. "We lost contact with our people in the castle more than a
month ago. Until that time, he had no psychic abilities that we knew about.
However, we have no idea what Gifts he has absorbed since then."
"I knew this was a lousy idea," Logan said, standing up. "I say we leave
now. If he knows we're here, we're walking into a damn trap."
"We're not leaving," Rogue said flatly. "Well, *I'm* not leaving. But maybe
you should go."
Logan glared at her. Jean figured she'd be peeing her pants if anyone gave
her a look like that, but Rogue didn't back down. Finally, Logan growled and
turned, popping the claws on one hand and swiping them across a large tree,
leaving three deep, jagged gashes behind.
He stared at the tree, then pulled in the claws and turned back to Rogue.
"I'm not leaving you," he said finally. The young woman nodded and then
walked into his arms, where he pulled her tighter.
Jean let out a long breath and leaned back into Scott as the group
scattered. "It's 'Days of Our Mutant Lives' around here," he said in a low
voice just for her ears.
She laughed softly and rubbed a hand on her forehead.
"Headache?" he asked, moving to gently massage the back of her neck.
Jean sighed and tilted her head forward to give him better access. The man
could melt her into a puddle with just a neck massage. There were actually
no words in the English language to describe the full-body version. She'd
tried, and failed, to explain it to Ororo before.
"I just have a really bad feeling," she said reluctantly. "Something is
Scott pressed a kiss to the back of her neck. "It'll be OK. We'll just be
She wished she could believe him.
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All In Your Mind
By Nadja Lee 1/31/03
English is not my native language. Please forgive me my mistakes.
Disclaimer: “X-men” and all the characters here belong to Marvel, 20 Century Fox
and I intend no infringement, this is a piece of amateur fan fiction, and I make
no money of it.
Only the original idea contained within this work is the property of the author.
Please do not copy this story to any website or archive without permission of
Timeline: Set after the X-men movie.
Universe: Movie. ONLY movie! AU
Romance: Scott/Jean, Logan/Rogue
Summary: A mind is such a fragile thing to hold….and it might be even more
devastating to lose than a heart…8 continuing drabbles.
Archiving: Want, ASK, take, have.
Feedback: Yes, please. My e-mail address is nadjalee@...
Warnings: Sadness, madness. Are drabbles cause for a warning? *G*
Author’s notes: For Sorciere because this is her plotbunny. Love you,
Thanks much to Karen for great and very fast beta! *greatest hug*
Each drabble is exactly 100 words long.
He smiles when she enters the room. He always smiles when she’s near. She looks
stunning today, he doesn’t know the colours on her dress, but it suits her. It’s
a short summer dress, her hair is hanging loose and her eyes are smiling at him.
“Jean,” he smiles at her and kisses her before he takes her hand and guides her
to the dinner table he had just left. He kisses the top of her head as she sits
down before sitting across from her. For a long time he just looks at her,
getting lost in her eyes.
He starts to tell her about his day and she listens interested, offers support
in the right places. Then he asks about her day, and she tells him of her
classes and hospital routines. He loves just to sit still and listen to her
voice; it feels almost like a caress against his skin.
He finishes his meal and notices hers remains untouched. Concerned he asks if
she’s okay, she smiles and assures him she’s just not hungry. He suggests a walk
outside in the fine weather but she says she prefers to just stay inside and be
He smiles happily at her.
“I love you,” he says softly with all his heart and he knows he has spoken no
truer words. She completes him and makes him whole. Her presence is all around
him, fills his every sense. It’s like they share a common heart, mind and soul.
Never has he felt so complete before.
She smiles warmly and says she loves him too. Warmth and love spreads through
his body and he smiles. Everything is right with the world when she’s near him.
Everything’s perfect when she’s in his world.
Everything is like it should be.
Logan watches from the doorway to Scott’s room and the scene that plays out
before him. Pain and sympathy cuts through his heart. He’s not sure why he keeps
coming by here. He has begun a new life, found a new love…found a home. Why
torture himself with scenes from the past? A past he can’t change and can’t
He hears her name, a name only Scott now speaks and he almost winces. Only he
now speaks that name with that much joy and happiness…none of the others can
bear to say it. It hurts way too much.
He knows he should go. Scott doesn’t seem to notice him, but then he rarely
does. Yet something in him makes him stay and look at the painful scene playing
out before his eyes.
He remembers one time, right after it had happened, he had tried to reach Scott,
had tried to speak to him but to no use.
Xavier had claimed this was better for him, but Logan wasn’t sure. He wouldn’t
want this…he would have preferred the truth and somehow he thought Scott would
On the other hand, the truth is often painful and could be devastating.
“Come, lov…let’s go home. We can visit him some other time…this is one of his
bad days,” Rogue says and lays a gentle hand on Logan’s arm. He puts his arms
around her and pulls her close as he kisses the top of her hair. Maybe that’s
why he comes here…to remind himself of how lucky he has been…how lucky he is to
have found love like this.
“It’s all in his mind,” Logan says and shakes his head with sadness as he turns
“Let him stay there…he’s happy there; he’s loved there. Outside it…he’ll break,”
Logan knows she’s right; they tried it once. The coldness became too much for
him, the loss of her presence, her very being…He had become so used to always
being with her, being a part of her that he no longer knew how not to be.
Logan shakes his head. Xavier could talk for hours about her greatness, but
Xavier hadn’t been the one she had given everything for and therefore had left
Scott like this…that had been Logan.
“Let’s go home, darlin’,” Logan whispers and holds her hand. She knows how he
feels and sensing his distress, hugs him.
He holds her close for a while.
“I love you,” he says softly and he knows he has spoken no truer words. She
makes him whole. Never has he felt so complete before; he has found home.
And he wonders if that’s what Scott feels and suddenly he understands why he
can’t let go because he’s not sure he would be able to either.
With one last look at the man sitting alone by the table, an empty chair and an
uneaten meal across from him, Logan walks with Rogue out of the room and out of
the psychiatric hospital.
Author: Lady-T and Hunter
Title: Dead and Buried
Disclaimer: We didn't do anything. Blameless we are,
totally and utterly blameless. Honest.
Summary: The storm brings trouble. A strange and
slightly twisted Halloween story.
Notes: LT is lazy and doesn't like thinking of plots.
Hunter is lazy and doesn't like thinking of
adjectives. Together things sometimes actually get
done. Eventually. About 6 months late.
Dead and Buried
The yew tree looked to her like death, a smoky hulk on
the distant, fogged meadow.
It called her name, the gallow-tree, ivy-trailed noose
swinging limp and forlorn in the quiet dawn breeze.
It was dark, like a black presence sucking away the
light as it slowly spilled over the horizon, early
morning sun casting slow and hazy across the dark sky.
It would rain later.
Behind her the crowd jeered, blazing torches casting
red over their skin like fresh spilled blood.
A body to die, to join the white, spectral corpses
already hanging from broken necks in the old boughs.
They hung like grisly fruits on the yew branch,
bloated and ripe, old and withered, side by side as
the mist became grey drizzle.
She could feel the cold, saturated air seep chill
moisture through the white linen shift, sticking it to
her skin in semi-translucent wrapping.
It was cold that morning, cold and damp and grey as
they walked her to the tree and stood her on the
They tied her bare hands and feet, binding them tight
as she looked across the crowd, seeing hatred in the
eye of every woman and desire in the eye of every man.
Hidden behind walls of anger, under the black and
white of good Puritans...
She looked down at her wet, clinging shift, the shape
and colour of her naked body visible underneath.
She sneered it under her breath as the crowd booed and
A rancid egg hit her brow, thrown from the throng of
spectators, viscous, evil-smelling yolk oozing down
across one eye.
She hissed as the village laughed in unison, turning
away her face as it slithered down her neck, cold and
slimy on pale, white skin.
"You have been found guilty by this court. A witch in
league with Satan himself!"
It was proclaimed for the whole town to hear, the boos
and screams of hatred growing in pitch and fervour.
The minister, all in black, slapped hard on the cover
of his Bible, raising his voice to God and his people.
"Found guilty!" he exclaimed again. "Guilty of
bewitching this town's men! Of drawing them to you for
your own depravity!"
She looked at them with cold, dark disgust, never
flinching as they lowered the noose about her neck,
the rough weave biting against her throat.
"Found guilty!" screamed the minister, building fever
in the crowd, sweating and red despite the dawn cold.
"Guilty, evil witch, and sentenced to be strung up by
your neck until you breathe no more! Until your heart
beats with silence! Until your immortal soul is back
with Beelzebub where it belongs!"
The crowd throbbed with simmered violence, murmuring
their ascension to the minister's preaching.
"You have been looked upon and found wanting! Judged
and found impure! May you burn in Hell eternal, for
Heaven will never forgive you!"
She laughed then, slow and dark as the minister
stopped silent, a greyish pallor creeping across his
His hands clenched into fists, shaking violently
before growing suddenly weak, his Bible slipping out
of curled fingers and onto the dew-soaked grass.
The crowd grew quiet as they watched him and heard her
laughter, face growing white as he opened his mouth, a
choked gargle bubbling up between blue-tinted lips.
Hush had fallen, every eye on him, every eye on her...
He shook for a terrible, eternal second before
collapsing heavily upon the saturated earth, the woman
throwing back her head, laughing at the slowly
Anger and hatred and new-found fear, they rushed and
mixed in the crowd, a scream of vengeance driving
them, and with an almighty surge of the living the
barrel was pushed from beneath her feet.
The ivy-twined rope snapped taut, the figure bound and
helpless as she came to an abrupt end.
A moment of suffocation before her neck broke with an
audible crack, and then she hung limp...
It all fell so silent in the aftermath, the village
forming a rough circle around her corpse, watching her
swing limply from the yew tree, still the lingering
bloom of life in her cheeks.
It would fade, and she would wither. New fruit to
bloat and then rot on the boughs.
Slowly they drifted away, carrying the minister
between them until once more it was just the yew tree,
the hanging-tree and its idly swinging noose, dark in
the meadow and heavy with produce.
Black clouds had been rolling over the horizon all
day, boiling like dark, viscous soup against the
backdrop of ancient trees.
Lightening crackled high in the atmosphere,
illuminating the clouds as the first heavy drops of
rain began to fall, splattering noisily against the
Jean squinted up at the sky just visible between the
tree branches and cursed. She was going to get
Large, angry droplets began to cascade in earnest from
the unforgiving sky, a deep bass roll of thunder
vibrating through her body as Jean picked up her pace
and ran towards the distant edge of the forest.
The rain beat a staccato rhythm against the tree
canopy above her, drops rattling past the broad leaves
to splatter messily against her hair and shoulders as
she ran beneath.
There was another bright flash of lightening, the
percussive explosion of sound hot on its heels and
Jean swore again, ducking through the muddy
undergrowth towards the neatly trimmed mansion lawns.
Dirt and water had soaked her trousers almost up to
the knees and she angrily pushed through another patch
of bramble, taking a quick shortcut off the meandering
path to reach the mansion faster.
The storm looked like it went on forever in the sky,
dark and ominous and black, shimmering every now and
then with its own internal, magical light show.
She neared the edge of the woodland now, the trees
thinning out until she could see the pale stone
edifice of the mansion sitting like a beacon on the
open expanse of verdant lawn.
A thick wall of rain cut across the grass, hammering
the thin green fronds down into the mud, hazing the
outline of the building beyond, but the lighted
windows glowed welcomingly in the darkness and she
breathed a sigh of relief.
She could see Scott leaning out on the porch, just his
dark shape discernible through the rain, kicking his
feet idly as he looked over the garden. His eyes were
pinned to the forest edge, waiting for her, searching
for her shape amongst the green and black undergrowth.
She took another long stride over a viscous patch of
mud, pausing as she reached the very edge of the
woodland to wave at him before building the nerve to
step out into the sheer wall of cascading water that
separated her from the house.
Her foot had barely begun to lift from the ground when
the lightening struck.
It was an explosion of raw, ancient power, spearing to
the heart of the old, twisted Yew tree that sat guard
at the edge of the lawn.
Jean screamed as she was thrown backwards by the force
of the blast, hurled like a rag into the corner,
slithering through mud and rock and bramble before
coming to a stop, her head smashing hard against the
base of a tree.
The lightening had sizzled like hot fat, leaving a
white streak across her vision before the world
exploded into a kaleidoscope of pain. Her head
throbbed with nauseating strength and it seemed to
pulse right through her and out the other side.
Beside the lawn the ancient Yew creaked in agony,
blowing apart in a cascade of splinters, boughs
crumpling with the grind of tortured flesh as they
smashed onto the earth, the tree split savagely down
the centre. The white, naked wood seemed to gleam in
the storm light, the edges of it smouldering despite
Jean whimpered in pain and fear, clutching the
throbbing, swollen lump on the back of her head as she
clenched her eyes shut, tears escaping down her cheeks
to mingle with the rainwater.
The unforgiving rain seemed to be pouring harder
around her, soaking her to the bone but she barely
noticed. The ache in her head was too great, as if
someone was trying to open her up and force their hand
She could hear Scott's frantic calling on the edge of
her perception as he sprinted across the lawn,
skirting carefully around the shattered tree branches
that still smouldered on the grass.
He was unmindful of the drowning rain, searching
desperately through the battered underbrush that
seemed to try and choke and bind his feet, tangling in
his clothes as he struggled to find her.
From her place under the tree she whimpered and tried
to sit up, swaying unsteadily against the sick
dizziness in her head as luminous spots danced beneath
They seemed to flicker in time to the thundering pulse
of the storm, another crack of lightening illuminating
the woodland like a photographer's flash bulb.
Scott caught the movement from the corner of his eye,
his fiancé's body laying some twenty feet from where
she had stood.
Jean...? Oh, Jesus Christ, are you alright?"
He struggled through the tangled underbrush and
slithered to his knees beside her in the mud, hugging
her tightly as she nodded.
He pulled her back for a brief inspection of her wet,
bedraggled form, her eyes still tightly shut forming a
knot between her brows.
"You hurt?" he asked with concern, reaching out to
touch her cheek.
She grimaced and tried to shake her head, thinking
better of it as it sent another wave of nauseating
pain behind her eyes.
"Just... hit my head," she ground out. "Really fucking
Scott nodded and got to his feet, taking a quick look
upwards into the descending storm, the rain plastering
his hair to his scalp.
"I'll get you inside," he said, gently scooping her up
in his arms as she winced and clutched tighter against
the bruise on her head.
She whimpered, burying her cheek against the wet
cotton of his shirt as he carried her through the
cascading rain, back towards the mansion.
Do you Yahoo!?
The New Yahoo! Search - Faster. Easier. Bingo.
Author: Lady-T and Hunter
Title: Dead and Buried
Disclaimer: We didn't do anything. Blameless we are,
totally and utterly blameless. Honest.
Summary: The storm brings trouble. A strange and
slightly twisted Halloween story.
Notes: LT is lazy and doesn't like thinking of plots.
Hunter is lazy and doesn't like thinking of
adjectives. Together things sometimes actually get
done. Eventually. About 6 months late.
The storm howled outside, battering the glass panes
with angry fingers as the sleet and snow slithered
endlessly through the night.
The wind-blown shadows of ice flurries danced against
the glass as the bathroom door opened, sending a crack
of light across the thick carpet followed by a wall of
Logan padded across the floor to his bed leaving wet
footprints in the pile of the carpet, one towel draped
around his hips and another briskly rubbing his wet
hair into damp spikes.
Illuminated only by the light spilling from the
bathroom his skin shone in the half-dark, covered with
tiny droplets of water that glittered like crystals
with every movement.
His flesh was pink from the heat of the shower and he
could feel a small growl build up inside him in answer
to the sudden pick up in the storm's tempo, the
frenetic cry of the wind suddenly beginning to scream.
He shook his head like a wet dog, getting the last few
droplets of water from his hair before dumping the
towel on the floor and plopping himself down onto the
The temperature suddenly seemed to fall around him and
Logan paused in his search for the TV remote, little
goose bumps of ice suddenly running down his neck. The
hairs across his body shivered and stood on end, his
head turning slowly to face the source of the icy
She smiled a slow, carnivorous grin from the doorway,
a look that didn't quite reach her eyes.
Her voice purred like warm treacle dripping down his
spine, following the cooling drops of water on skin
still wet and flushed from the shower.
The cream silk of her robe seemed to glow, floating
over her curves in a sensual caress, brushing skin and
lingering. He couldn't help but stare at her,
swallowing the sight of her body just right for
She raised her hand and from across the room he felt
the irresistible pressure against his chest, pushing
him back against the bed. He let the touch guide him
down, a bemused smile on his face as he let his head
fall softly onto the pillows.
Snakes of cloth seemed to swiftly ooze out of the
sheets around him like tendrils of weed, creeping and
binding. circling his shoulders and legs with a
sibilant rustle as he shot her a confused glance.
"Not above using mind tricks, Jeannie?"
Jean curled her fingers. "Never."
She licked her lips and walked towards him, the
pressure on his chest spreading slowly down his arms
until it reached his wrists, dragging his hands up and
out until he was stretched across the bed like a
Christ-figure on his cross, the pressure easing to
nothing as the sheets bound themselves around his
wrists. Serpentine cloth seemed to slither where she
wanted it, forming out of the flat sheet, sliding and
caressing across bare skin like melted chocolate,
setting hard as concrete in velvet.
He pulled against the pressure on his limbs for a
moment, fixing her with a dark look as she laughed.
"You won't get far." The words hung in the air for a
second as she smirked. "And don't tell me you don't
like it Logan, I can tell that you're lying."
She cast a meaningful look at his crotch and the start
of an erection that was just beginning tent against
the towel. More in response to that fact that she was
near him than anything else, but a part of him thought
that he should take what he could get because the
scent of her under cream silk was just too hard to
"What is it, Logan? The lack of control? Not having to
be the one held responsible for your actions...? No
guilt, no blame..."
She smiled slow and smooth as he narrowed his eyes at
her. "Never figured you for the submissive type."
She gave the towel a sharp jerk, pulling it open to
expose his naked body before she crooked a finger and
the pressure momentarily returned. It rolled down him
until his hips were held tight against the mattress.
They were bound by a coil of fabric low against his
stomach that wound around the top of each thigh in
turn, weaving him firmly into the sheets as the
tactile, fluid cloth set suddenly hard.
He grumbled low in his chest, ignoring the response of
his body as she climbed onto the bed and swung one leg
over his waist, straddling him with a thigh either
side of his hips as her cream silk robe splayed out
across his stomach.
Her hands plunged roughly into his hair, lifting his
head from the pillows as she forced his lips open with
her tongue, huffing with satisfaction as she felt him
eventually return the kiss.
His tongue probed softly back inside her mouth, for
the moment not questioning why she came to be here and
just accepting that she was, licking against her lips
as she began to pull away. He sighed raggedly as she
slid down to nip him on the throat, her hands running
along his cheeks and neck before gliding over his
shoulders and down to caress his ribs as she sat up.
His chest heaved as she touched him, the pressure of
the bonds still pushing against his limbs as she
slowly circled his nipples with long, cool fingers.
He was stuck somewhere, trying to reconcile the idea
of a hot shower and an early night becoming suddenly
the most sordid of his fantasies. Her weight above him
pressing down on his lap, her hands reaching slowly
along his body...
He shuddered as her fingers fluttered against his
stomach, finally forcing his mouth to work.
“Jeannie, just what do you think you're doing?”
Trying to search her eyes in the gloom she laughed
dryly, her head turning as her back arched in a
“Why Logan,” she sighed, eyes finally catching his in
a flash of fire, “I thought you would have figured it
out by now.” She leaned over him, her tongue flicking
out to lick his jaw as her breath hissed into his ear.
“I’m going to fuck you to death.”
He felt himself shudder at the invitation and the
soft, wet lick of her tongue, his body flooding with
heated blood as she slowly ran her fingers through the
trail of hair on his stomach.
She arched one impeccable eyebrow at his obvious
arousal and he swallowed hard, trying to dislodge the
lump that had suddenly formed in his throat.
"What about Scott?"
The question hung between them for a second before she
"He's in no position to complain."
Her reply barely registered before she took his
swelling penis in her hand, smiling at the resultant
squirm, watching his neck arch as she pumped her fist
slowly down his length. She tugged on him lightly
then, the hitched breath at the spark of pain all the
she needed to know. He screwed his eyes shut,
overwhelmed by sensation, murmuring her name as her
fingers pressed into his hard flesh.
Fantasy come to life, her hands on him, around him,
better than his imagination could have ever dared to
She blinded him with dreaming, fingers slipping just
into the edges of his mind and smoothing away
suspicion, glossing over whatever confusion she found
until he no longer cared why she was there... He just
gloried in the feel and the scent of her, the sex that
was heavy in the air and had always been so long
denied to him.
She curled her lip at the sound of his voice breathing
her name and she chastised him with a rake of her
fingernails down his abdomen, watching the muscles
flutter beneath taut skin.
He hissed in pleasure, levering his eyes open to watch
mesmerized as she pushed the robe down from her
shoulders. The silk dropped away to reveal a naked
body in the peak of physical condition, bare, rounded
breasts topped with darkening nipples as she dropped
the robe off the bed.
His breathing deepened in response, hands flexing
against the binding sheets as she stroked him. God,
all he wanted was to touch her...
He could feel the damp heat between her thighs
pressing against his skin, the surge of thickened
blood in his veins making him ache. She ran the tip
of her index finger in circles just around the head of
his erection, narrowing her eyes as he huffed and
gasped, making little whimpers of need in the back of
"No," she murmured. "I never would have figured you
for the submissive type at all. Shall we play a game,
He didn't reply, too far gone with the feel of her in
his lap as she bent her head forward.
"I asked you a question. Shall we play a game?"
Her tongue flashed out to play back and forth over the
top of one nipple and he moaned quietly in reply.
"I'll take that as a yes."
She fixed her mouth over the firm little nub of flesh,
pressing her teeth into it and biting him slowly,
pulling the nipple with her as she began to raise her
head. It slipped from between her teeth as he grunted
with the small flash of pain, the length of her rough,
hot tongue smoothing over it before repeating the
process with the other side.
He felt like he was riding a crest of ecstasy, the
woman he had wanted for as long as anyone could
remember, here and now pulling fantasies out of the
furthest parts of his mind. Perfect in detail as she
slowly raised herself above him, guiding his rock hard
erection between her thighs.
So perfect, so fucking perfect as she sank down onto
him, and maybe he should have suspected something but
it all felt so good and any suspicion in his mind was
long, long gone...
So hot and tight and wet as he stretched her open,
filling the burning core inside her. So good and
desperate as she gripped him within her channel,
grinding down until he was as deep as he could get,
and then she sat there, holding him still when all he
wanted to do was thrust as hard as he possibly
He moaned, murmuring to God and her name in ecstatic
agony, his head rolling from side to side as she sat
on his hard swollen flesh, her hands raking up and
down his chest.
And then she started to squeeze.
Squeezing his cock inside her body as something began
to lightly squeeze against his windpipe, the pressure
growing in his throat as she began to thrust against
He moaned stupidly, confused between the two
sensations and unable to move, wheezing for air as her
fingers circled his nipples, her hips rocking back and
forth against his pelvis as she began to whisper her
She took one hand off his chest and moved it to her
breast, playing with the darkening, swollen tip as she
began to thrust harder, feeling him ride in and out of
her body as his windpipe finally closed off
He began to struggle then and she relished in it, his
mouth flapping open uselessly as he fought to draw a
breath, his eyes rolling back as she rode him hard and
deep, pinching one of his flat little nipples tight
between her finger and thumb.
So good, so bad... his lungs burned...
She thrust down hard, angling her hips to press him as
far against the front wall of her channel as she
could, dragging his body endlessly in and out until
she could feel her orgasm close.
He could feel the weight of her on his hips, the
tight, desperate pull of her core as she fucked him,
but also the burning, the terrible pain in his chest
as he battled to breathe, pulling him in two different
directions at once. And then her words, barely just
filtering through as he blindly struggled to draw
"Come for me, Logan... you can't breathe until you
come for me..."
He closed his eyes and let it take him, the race for
release... The sudden panic, burning in his chest like
the heat around his cock, heart hammering a mile a
minute as adrenaline filled his system.
He tried to focus, blind and desperate, searching for
an orgasm that would release him from all his
suffering, desperate to find it before he suffocated.
She kept riding him, feeling the pressure build inside
herself as she squeezed, willing it to last until he
was nearly there... nearly there...
His head swam, dizzy and disorientated, black spots in
front of his eyes, every nerve ending passing raw
electricity inside his body as she pumped hard and
fast. Her body gripped him as she sank down again,
impaling herself over and over until he couldn't tell
one from the other, until it was all too much, until
she was screaming as she came and pulling him
deeper... All of it merged and formed into a furnace
of blinding white fire, boiling in his stomach in a
race for blessed release before erupting in a
paralysing, spastic seizure, coming harder than he
ever remembered as release exploded through him and
sweet cold air finally filled his lungs in a
desperate, choking battle. Unable to choose between
screaming or gasping for air, his eyes rolled wildly
as his fingers curled into tight fists, his hips still
twitching against her hold on him as the last of his
orgasm burned through him.
She felt him shake and quiver underneath her, gasping
hard as she continued to milk his cock inside her sex,
never letting up even as the dizziness started to
clear from his eyes.
He choked her name roughly before a coughing fit
"What... what in the..."
She shushed him with a finger to his lips, a soothing
brush against his cheek as he screwed his eyes closed.
He coughed again and she smiled, curling her fingers
once more above his chest, forming her hand into a
fist over his breastbone.
Pain... it lanced through his body as something inside
him started to squeeze, a wail of hurt escaping his
His eyes snapped open as he started to struggle
against his bonds seriously now, trying to throw her
off, pulling against impossible restraint as crushing
pressure filled his chest.
"Get off... Get off me!"
She laughed as he choked and thrashed, sealing off his
windpipe again as her hand started to crush his heart.
His eyes rolled back in his head then, fingers and
toes curling against the pain and pressure in his
chest, the colour draining from his face as her other
hand pressed down on his abdomen, digging telekinetic
fingers into his liver.
He would have screamed if he could have, past the red
and white pain and the scorching heat in his body.
Past the insanity in her eyes and the claws escaping
free from his hands that were useless to free himself
with, pinioned as he was.
She saw the blue tinge of approaching death on his
lips and she smiled, a dark blossom spreading out
underneath his skin as he bled inside, still
struggling with the last of his strength, thrashing
against his restraints.
He was buried inside her even now and every desperate
jerk of his body translated to another thrust for her,
riding out his death throes as her mind kept him hard.
She bit her lip, feeling him buck and twist, rolling
her hips as her hands tightened their grip on his
crushed heart, leaving the pulped mess of his liver
and plunging deep into a kidney...
He was slowing, he was dying, but she could draw this
out, just enough, nearly there, nearly there, and...
"Holy fuckin' shit! What are you doin'?!"
She screamed as she came, her head snapping back as
the body beneath her finally gave up the struggle,
Remy at the doorway frozen in blank shock as she
finally turned to look at him.
It sent shooting ice down his spine, the look in her
eyes, the purest, black evil boring a hole right
Oh God, Oh God... he could taste the panic in the
He reached for a card but she was too fast, stealing
them out of his fingers with the barest flick of her
power as she climbed off Logan's body.
She left him lying there, the serpentine sheets
falling soft and lifeless over his skin as she
released the grip on his throat. Close... so close...
Limp but not dead. She could feel his powers kicking
in to fix the damage but she had time... time enough
to deal with this. Hips swayed as she walked towards
him with purpose, fast on her feet as she flicked the
robe from the floor, wrapping it around herself
without ever using her hands.
And then Remy felt it... the sharp impact that threw
him back against the wall before she ever even touched
him. The invisible grasp that picked him up and flung
him like a rag doll from side to side down the
corridor, beaten against each wall in turn until he
could feel the blood in his mouth and the grind of
broken bone in his chest.
He came to land with a thump, knocking over a small
table and scattering the contents across the floor,
blindly reaching for anything solid among the debris.
His hand wrapped around the broken piece of a glass
paperweight, charging it desperately before she could
steal it from him, throwing it with all the strength
he could muster...
She snarled as the glowing pink glass arced across the
hallway, headed right for her before her mind caught
it, changing the direction and shooting it through the
closest window like a bullet exploding from a gun.
The window shattered, letting in the storm as the
percussive boom rattled through the building, a dark,
angry look holding tight over her features as her mind
dragged Remy from the floor, holding him high in the
air as he coughed and spat blood.
She flung him backwards again, his body hitting the
far wall and knocking free one of the swords that
fanned out on display over the oak panels.
A last desperate attempt, he thought. A last chance.
His last thought, his only thought before his fingers
tightened around the hilt.
He struggled to find his feet, raising the weapon as
he charged towards her, screaming in rage and pain and
fear as he brought it down in a perfect arc, perfect
to kill her, perfect to end this...
A perfect arc that never hit as he was lifted bodily
from the floor and thrown backwards again, his spine
to the wall and this time he didn't fall...
He looked down at his chest, the bloodied sword blade
poking through his ribs glittering oddly in the
darkness, the pommel pressing against his spine as it
held him suspended from the ground.
He let go of the sword he had been clutching so
desperately before, letting it fall to the carpet with
a dull thud as he reached out to touch the red covered
blade through his chest.
His fingers tightened around it, breath rattling
noisily in his lungs as his head lolled backwards.
His breath hitched as his eyes closed, whimpering
before growing limp, suspended on the wall like a
grisly painting as Jean snarled in satisfaction,
watching his blood drip onto the carpet. She spun
around then, stalking back to Logan's room, cream silk
robe billowing around her as the storm flowed in
through the broken window, snow and sleet clouding the
Walking through the storm, she appeared like a ghost.
Pale white, almost translucent against the cold as she
stopped and glowered, the bed lying empty in the
centre of the room.
She closed her eyes, reaching out her mind to find
him, the distinct feeling of his consciousness
sparkling through her senses. Weak... he was weak.
Near death but healing. He'd rolled himself off the
bed and into the far corner and, through the bleak
white storm, she could sense the uneven beat of his
damaged heart leaking as much blood as it pumped. He
was hurting and she fed off the knowing, the fact that
she could bring him to his knees with just the touch
of a thought.
She floated to the centre of the room, hovering just
off the floor with the tall bay windows behind her,
flexing her fingers as she watched him crouched in the
corner like a beaten dog. Deep purple bruises covered
his chest and back, bleeding inside still as he grit
his teeth through the pain, skin covered in glistening
sweat despite the freezing cold billowing through the
He growled softly as the lightening seared the sky
once more, silhouetting her against the tall windows.
"Is that all you can manage, Logan?" She cocked her
head to one side, smiling sarcastically at him.
His voice was rough when he spoke, ground out against
the pain in his sides.
"I don't want to hurt you, Jeannie."
"That's your weakness."
She flicked her fingers out and he thumped back
against the wall like he'd been punched, blood oozing
down his cheek from the clawed fingernail marks that
had appeared on his face. He snarled again, baring his
teeth but she sneered at him contemptuously.
"I could rip you apart, you can't frighten me. I could
peel the metal from your bones piece by piece and rip
it out through your skin. I hold your life in the palm
of my hand and all I have to do is squeeze."
As if to prove her point she clenched her fist,
hearing him whimper in a shocked flash of hurt.
Logan grit his teeth, steadying his breath and leaning
his head against the wall as he tried to swallow down
the flaring red heat that seemed to swallow his body.
"That was just a taste. Do you want more?"
Jean watched him with curiosity, eyes glittering as he
eventually seemed to find control of himself,
painfully rising to his feet with what seemed like
monumental effort, arms wrapped around his battered,
naked body. His eyes were fixed on her as he stumbled,
barely catching himself against the wall, leaning
against it in the end for the support as his injured
body screamed to be allowed to rest.
"I don't want to hurt you, Jeannie..."
He said it again and she laughed at him.
"You can't even touch me. Look at you, you can't even
He growled. A dark, dangerous noise in his chest, his
back hunching slightly as he battled the damage within
his own body to make his legs move, to push away form
that wall and take that first step towards her...
She had amusement on her lips, watching his body shake
at the strain, each slow step seeming to take even
longer than the last, his legs shaking with the effort
not to fall as he closed the distance a fraction at a
"What are you trying to do? Fight me?"
He didn't reply, grunting slightly with the exertion
as his heart strained to pump sluggish blood though
crushed arteries. He was healing, but slowly... so
"You're pathetic. Little, little man..."
Outside the storm screamed, shrieking winds battering
the glass behind her floating body, Logan's low growl
echoing the angry weather.
He took another dogged, shaky step and she curled her
lip in disgust.
She raised her hands, curling her fists as the glass
from the windows exploded inwards with her scream,
shattering in a haze of razor sharp crystals and
beaten, wet snow. Rain and wind and glass shot across
the room with the low, percussive crack of the
thunder, the empty windows letting the storm rage
Lightening illuminated the wind-beaten crystal shards
and he screamed... a thousand glass blades exploding
into his naked flesh at once, the ice cold wind and
force behind the impact hurling him back against the
bed, his head cracking on the wall as he fell.
He barely even registered the sheets against his
spine. All he could see was blood, oozing into his
eyes and burning his skin. Every movement seemed to
burrow the shards deeper inside his body, cutting him
open from within. He couldn't move...
It hurt... hurt so much...
God... and then there she was, floating above him with
her hair and naked skin, that cream silk billowing in
the wind, her laughing face watching his pain,
reaching out to touch him with the softest sweep of
her fingers across his face and...
It all dissolved into shocked pain, like the
lightening stole her smile, the claws in her stomach
slowly moving up into her chest.
She looked like she wanted to scream, but she had
nothing left to do it with. Breath gurgled in her
lungs, blood on his hands as, for a second, her
control began to falter. Her hand wavered as she sank
down on top of him, fingers curling against the pain
as their blood merged, eyes clenching shut as she
fought to stop the waver in her consciousness.
Whispered into his skin, whimpered in pain as his
claws slowly withdrew, bloodied wet hands holding her
tightly against his chest as she shook...
"I... I didn't want to hurt you..."
He sounded broken, hurt as much inside as out, sinking
his hands into her hair, cradling her head against his
shoulder like he'd always wanted to do, glued together
with boiling crimson...
She whined low in her throat, clinging tightly to his
abused chest as the blackness crept forwards, tears
escaping down her face as the two minds inhabiting her
body slowly began to unravel.
Oh God... she was choking...
It hurt... it hurt too much and she sobbed
hysterically in his arms as little by little the
darkness came, quieting her, numbing her, and then
finally, silently, killing her.
The storm outside raged, filling the broken windows
with numbing, blank cold as Logan buried his face
against the side of her head.
He cried, holding her tightly, pressing choked,
desperate kisses against her ear, rocking slightly and
whispering in his grief as the lifeless body in his
arms gradually began to cool.
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Author: Lady-T and Hunter
Title: Dead and Buried
Disclaimer: We didn't do anything. Blameless we are,
totally and utterly blameless. Honest.
Summary: The storm brings trouble. A strange and
slightly twisted Halloween story.
Notes: LT is lazy and doesn't like thinking of plots.
Hunter is lazy and doesn't like thinking of
adjectives. Together things sometimes actually get
done. Eventually. About 6 months late.
Are you SURE you're OK?" Scott asked for what seemed
like the thousandth time that evening.
From her place on the couch Jean grimaced and shifted
the ice-pack slightly against her bruised head.
"I'm fine, Scott. I swear," she grumbled. "I'm keeping
watch on myself for signs of a concussion, no, I don't
have any unexplained complications, I'm not about to
keel over and die, and for God's sake will you stop
asking me that?"
Logan smirked from behind his magazine, boots
comfortably propped up on the coffee table.
"Get an attitude when you get hit on the head, don't
She cracked open one eye and glared at him.
Beside the window Gambit snickered, idly shuffling his
playing cards as he watched the swirling weather
"You can shut up too, swamp rat," she grumbled.
"Meeting a tree head first is NOT funny..."
"Ahh, mon chere," he sighed. "Depends on who's
Jean rolled her eyes and went back to tending her
In the hearth the red, dancing flames crackled
noisily, filling the warm silence with the pops and
snaps of an open fire. The room was lit with a warm
glow from the flames as Remy had turned out the lights
to better watch the lightening.
Outside had grown cold and dark as night descended,
the thermometer on the porch dropping steadily as the
rain began to merge with hail.
"Evil storm tonight," murmured Remy. "Shame 'bout the
Scott nodded and pulled himself out of his armchair to
pour a drink from the decanter on the sideboard.
"One of the Professor's favourites. He'll be upset
when he gets home."
"Non, not because of that," said Remy. He caught
Scott's confused look in the reflection on the window
glass and he blushed slightly, shaking his head. "Jus
superstition, dat's all. Forget I said it."
"Like what? Lightening hitting your Yew tree spells
doom and gloom for all eternity, that kind of thing?"
"Non, nothing quite so drastic... Just, in de olden
days they'd hang witches from Yew trees. Trap their
soul inside the wood. Let's jus' hope ours was not one
of them, non? Could be all sorts of evil t'ings coming
out tonight, now that their souls are free."
Logan snorted, exhaling a cloud of sweet-smelling
"Cajun, you really are more superstitious than anyone
I ever met."
"Jus' the way I am," he smiled. "Never want to miss an
opportunity. Dark spooky mansion, the four of us alone
in de middle of de storm... Remy t'ink it be the
perfect night for a Freddy Kruger marathon..."
Jean groaned. "Thanks but no. I plan to enjoy the time
we've got left before everyone else comes back. That
doesn't include spending this week hiding behind the
sofa with you."
Remy shrugged, sidling up next to her as he flashed
his most winning smile.
"You sure? You, me, a sofa all to ourselves... sounds
like a good idea to Remy..."
"You're a shameless pig."
Logan laughed and went back to his magazine.
Jean took the ice-pack off her head, gingerly feeling
the bruise underneath.
"At least the swelling's gone down..." she sniffed.
The back of her head felt a little tender still, but
the large lump had subsided. Maybe, she thought, she
hadn't hit her head quite as hard as she'd first
believed. It was one of those things that always felt
a lot worse than it really was... like stubbing your
toe on something really, really heavy.
The headache had eased quickly and now she sat up,
dropping the ice pack onto the sofa cushion beside
her, glad that at least moving around didn't result in
nauseating dizziness any more.
"I think..." she said carefully, "I should go upstairs
and take a shower..."
Scott had found her some dry clothes as soon as he got
inside, but she still had traces of mud clinging to
her skin. It was dry and flaky now, clumping her hair
together in patches.
"I'll come with you. Leave these two to their horror
Logan raised an eyebrow from somewhere behind his
"Early night, huh? Remember Summers... no strenuous
activity for 24 hours. First rule of the concussed."
Scott rolled his eyes as he put an arm around Jean's
shoulders, leading her upstairs.
Steam trailed out of the bathroom like a warm fog,
settling over Jean as she lay on the bed.
She could hear the wet, sloshing sound of Scott in the
shower, occasional snatches of half-remembered pop
songs following the steam across the room as he sang
to himself in the bathroom.
She felt... odd.
Sleepy, kind of. Maybe it was just because she was
warm and clean from her bath, tucked up securely in
bed while the storm raged outside.
She sighed and rolled onto her back.
Saying she was sleepy wasn't quite right. She didn't
quite know exactly what she felt. It was an
indescribable sensation, nothing concrete, just an
unarguable feeling of...
She scrunched up her nose, unable to come up with a
It was like she wasn't quite all there. She felt
incomplete, like someone had taken a part of her and
stolen it away. An emotionless void seemed to be
lurking inside, more than just apathy or exhaustion.
It was strange and a little disconcerting.
She rubbed her eyes and focused on the ceiling,
feeling stupid. Of course she was all here, she was
just being melodramatic. She'd whacked her head on a
tree, it was no wonder she didn't feel completely
She chastised herself for being paranoid, staring
again at the white plaster above her as her eyes
followed the path of a minute crack under the paint.
No wonder horror movies are always played out in a
storm... it sets minds to wandering.
Jean snuggled down into the sheets, feeling herself
relax against the soft quilt. In the bathroom Scott
still sang as he washed himself, the sound of him and
the water and the storm mixing together above the bed
as she lay there, watching them swirl together like
bright colours as she felt herself drift...
Maybe it was the monotonous drumming of the rain but
she felt suddenly exhausted. Like she was drifting to
sleep as she lay there. Her mind seemed happy to
wander on blankness as her eyelids drooped shut.
A clunk from the bathroom was followed by a curse as a
dropped bottle of shampoo hit the side of the tub and
it snapped her mind back to momentary wakefulness
again. That was wrong, wasn't it? She didn't usually
zone out like that... Was this one of the symptoms of
She tried to remember but somehow couldn't quite seem
to grasp the information she was looking for. She
was... she was drifting...
She blinked stupidly, her mind sinking back to sleep
as swiftly as it had jarred awake. It felt kind of
nice... quiet, peaceful. Something she hadn't had in a
long time. It was like the irritating background hum
of other people had been removed and it was just her
in her head for the first time in forever. Her and a
tiny little voice whispering for her to sleep... just
relax and let go...
Sleep, yes... that sounded good. Listen to the little
voice as it soothes, the quiet, gentle whisper as it
wraps a comfortable blanket around you...
A glow spilled through her. That felt nice too... warm
and peaceful. She tried to think if that too was a
sign of a concussion but she couldn't seem to remember
any more and at that moment she didn't really care.
Sleep... gentle, warm sleep...
On the edge of her universe she could hear the faint
metallic noise of the TV set downstairs, the squealing
horror movie music echoing up the stairs above the
noise of the shower and the howling rain battering at
Remy was down there watching his movies. Logan was in
Scott was in the shower...
A picture of him came unbidden into her head, naked
amongst the steam, oblivious to her out here, his eyes
tight shut against the water as he sang tunelessly
under the cascade, soap slathering across his naked
Not right, not right...
Sleep, no don't sleep...
She suddenly felt so dizzy, like everything had
started to sway in her vision, like she had been
spinning around in circles...
Dizzy, dizzy, sick...
She twisted her head sideways against the pillow,
trying to focus on the madly jumping bedside lamp, the
room snapping in a sharp arc as she flailed to grab
onto something that wasn't moving around.
The warm serenity vanished along with the voice,
leaving a heaving tumult of faceless fears inside her
skull. A swelling, broiling mass that echoed the
raging gale outside. She gasped and writhed at the
sudden shift, shivering as terrible cold overtook her,
panicking as voices and feelings, and words that
weren't hers were suddenly jammed into her head.
Her voice hardly seemed like her own, shaking, quiet
and confused as she curled up on the sheets, clawing
her fingers into the bedspread to stop the rolling
"I... I don't feel so..."
Her breath hitched in her throat as a blinding pain
seared through her head.
"Don't feel so good..."
He words were just a whimper now, a shaking hand
reaching out to the bedside table but falling just
short as her fingers curled up into a fist.
"I... I don't..."
She gasped then, her body going painfully rigid, her
face a mask of exquisite pain, her eyes clenching
tight shut as she fought against the burning in the
back of her mind, choking harshly before collapsing
against the bedspread, limp and weak. Rough, panted
breaths heaving in her lungs as she rolled over onto
her back again, swallowing nervously, focusing on her
breathing to try and calm her raging heartbeat.
Breath in, breath out, breath in, then silence.
She jerked slightly then froze, eyes growing wide as
her body refused to respond.
Sleep, insisted the voice again... long gone sleep...
No, no... not this... Fight, don't sleep... I can't
Her mind raged then faded, sight leaking away with the
last breath that died on her lips as she grew totally
still, totally silent.
It seemed like an eternity. An eternity of waiting, an
eternity of wanting, forever seeking the cold,
beautiful rush of air in her lungs.
Dead but not, frozen but living...
There but gone.
Jean stared blindly at the ceiling, eyes wide and
bulging, glassy and sightless, lungs frozen, unmoving
for an eternity before she blinked, before she took a
deep breath, before she levered herself upright as the
lightening flickered at the window...
"I don't quite feel myself."
The voice was not her own.
Stretching tensed muscles, she looked at her hands,
clenching and unclenching the fingers like one would
stretch new gloves in the warm yellow glow of the
A deep growl of thunder rippled through the room from
the world outside just as the electricity flickered,
dipping for a short second before returning.
From the shower she could still hear Scott's tuneless
singing and she softly eased herself off the bed.
She knew this place so well... go to the dresser, open
one of the drawers.
She rooted through the contents carefully, pulling out
the flat, thin, ornamental paperknife that she knew
was kept in there. Scott used it for opening all his
letters and the edge of it was dulled through
continual use, the shining, polished blade glowing
orange in the storm light.
She ran her thumb across the blade edge, turning it
over and over in her long fingers as she looked across
to the bathroom door.
"Here today, gone today, hurry up and wait..."
Scott sang under his breath as he leaned his head
forward under the hot cascade of water, massaging the
soap out of his hair.
His eyes were tight shut against the hot water, his
glasses on the ledge by the sink on the far wall.
"We fight it out, we work it out, give me some time to
White bubbles slicked down over his shoulders,
dripping into the tub and gathering around his feet as
he rubbed his hands through his short hair, turning
round to let the hot water sluice down his back.
"You put on quite a show, you know that?"
Jean's voice startled him as the bathroom door clicked
He smirked, his eyes still closed as the water flowed
down his body.
"You're a sneaky one. Enjoying the view over
there...?" he asked.
"Oh, without a doubt."
He snorted in amusement. "You want to hand me my
glasses so I can return the compliment?"
Jean shook her head. "Nope, I don't think I will."
He pouted. "Well that's not fair now... you could be
completely naked for all I know and I wouldn't be able
to enjoy the experience."
Jean's face split into a cunning smile as she took a
step closer. "Well you'll definitely get an
Scott's laughter filled the humid air, his lips
curling into an anticipatory smile as he heard her
footsteps pad across the floor towards him.
"Is that so?"
Jean made a little snort of amusement. "Don't let me
stop you. Please... return to your shower... I can
Scott laughed again and turned around, reaching for
the controls to shut off the water.
Her hand grasped at his arm and stopped him, those
thin, elegant fingers sliding down his skin, making
him stiffen in anticipation.
She was purring right in his ear, he thought, her hand
sliding round his shoulder and down across his chest,
the spray from the shower soaking them both as she
pressed herself close against his back.
He could feel her naked skin brushing past him as her
fingers slowly explored the ridges of his chest.
"Let me look at you just the way you are..."
Scott swallowed, turning slowly to face her as her
hands fell away.
She stepped back, watching the water caress his body,
smiling in amusement at the beginnings of his
"Well, look at you..." she murmured.
"I thought that's what you had been doing," he
Jean smirked and stepped forward again, watching him
shiver in anticipation.
"Turn around. I promise you it'll be good..."
He did as he was told, obeying her voice of honey and
leather as he turned back into the spray, feeling the
hot fingers of water beat against his skin.
She stepped close behind him, curling her arm around
his chest, pulling his back tight against her as she
rubbed his stomach in slow, soothing arcs.
"No touching..." she purred as he reached for her
hand, licking slowly up the side of his neck before
sinking her teeth into his shoulder.
He grunted and dropped his arms, though whether it was
in pleasure or agreement he wasn't sure. Either way,
her hand slid up to caress his chest, dragging a lazy
thumb back and forth over a wet nipple.
"Good boy..." she crooned, pulling her fingers across
the hard muscles of his pectorals to lightly pinch at
the other nipple before easing her touches in a slow
sweep down his body.
She stroked the baby-soft skin at the tops of his
thighs before grasping a firm hold on the blood-heated
flesh between his legs, pumping her hand slowly down
He gasped, jerking against her as she licked her lips.
"I'm going to enjoy this so much..."
She was purring down his ear... stroking his hot flesh
in her palm, jerking him off just the way he liked it,
right on the edge of ecstasy as she brought the
paperknife out from behind her back, sinking it up to
the hilt in his stomach with one swift, fluid
Eternity in a second... he froze in shock and pain,
feeling nothing... feeling everything...
Her telekinesis slammed hard around his jaw, sealing
it shut before he could scream. Locking across his
face like a band of invisible steel, the veins in his
neck bulged with strain, closing his eyes tight with a
slight twitch of her powers.
The blade dragged slowly upwards towards his ribs, the
dulled edge messily parting flesh, ripping like so
much raw meat.
He flailed helplessly before she stilled him, binding
limb by limb, strap by strap until he was frozen, his
skin turning pale with the pressure of her telekinetic
Bands of pinched flesh around his arms and body turned
white then darkened with bruises as she tightened her
hold, his movements restricted to the point where he
toppled backwards, landing half in and half out of the
shower, the hot water sluicing his dark red blood down
He squirmed on the floor, jerking helplessly like a
fly trapped in a spider web.
Disorientated, confused, in so much terrible, terrible
pain... He was frantic beneath her, twitching and
bucking, straining against the hold on his jaw as she
sunk her fingertips into the edge of his wound.
She stretched open the cut to reveal the red and white
gore underneath, his skin tearing back under her hands
like uncooked pork, the skin wrinkling as she pushed
The body is full, she found, packed as tight as can be
with everything needed for life, filled up with blood
and fat and fluids. Hot and wet and sticky under her
hands, familiar but alien both at once, the scientist
left within her coolly naming every part, the rest of
her just glorying in the familiar alien, new old
feeling of blood on her hands, blood on her mind...
She settled on Scott's thighs, sitting on top of him
comfortably, still wet from the shower, now soaked
with blood. His head jerked back and forth as he
hummed and huffed and desperately tried to scream in
muffled, pathetic cries, his hands balled into fists
against the floor as she held him down.
Dark, striped bruises pinched his skin tight beneath
her unseen bonds but she barely even noticed them.
Blood, almost black in the dim light spilled over his
hips as she widened the gaping hole in his stomach
with the blunt, tearing edge of the paperknife,
viscera exposed and pulsing, twitching in time with
his racing, skipping heart.
She calmed him like a fussy child, stroking his face
and hair, leaving red, slippery streaks behind.
Liquid heat oozed from his body, slicking down his
hips and stomach onto the bathroom rug beneath him,
the smiling cartoon duckies vanishing in the swelling
A string of drool escaped down his cheek as he
strained against his frozen jaws, his mouth frothing
with spit foam as he struggled.
"So sweet..." his toes tightly curled as a telekinetic
pressure began to build in his stomach.
He rolled his head back at the pain, the squeezing
pressure pouring through his body in nauseating waves.
"So good, Scott, so good..."
Her voice sounded far away to him. In rapture. Each
passing second making it more distant. Further and
further away as he slipped, then fell, then nothing.
She felt him die, twitching her hips in bliss that
bordered on orgasm as his last breath gurgled free,
his struggling body falling limp and heavy to swim
like a corpse in a crimson lake.
She licked her lips, curling her hands in front of her
face as she watched his lifeblood slither down to her
"I want more."
She left him on the carpet, climbing into the
still-running shower as she cleaned away the evidence
from her hands and body, the swirling red gathering
around her bare feet before vanishing forever down the
A humming pulse still filled her, consuming with its
power. It called to her like the storm.
She needed more, she had to have more, there had to be
Remy was watching his movies. Logan was in his room.
Her soul lit up as she formed him in her mind,
picturing every last detail, the gnawing ache in the
pit of her stomach answering with a push of desire.
Her lips parted as she launched into song under the
hot water, picking up exactly where Scott had left
off. "I'm never there, for you or me. Can't you read,
the story of our lies... Death to me and life for you.
Something isn't right..."
Her heart lifted with joy, a dark sweet smile
splitting her face because this was going to be so.
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Please be warned this fic contains violent death
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Almost done ...
Disclaimer, etc. with prologue
The remaining days of their journey passed in a gloomy blur. The path they
had been taking widened and morphed into a smooth dirt road, bordered by
thick walls of trees on either side. They only passed a handful of people,
and nobody seemed to be curious about them at all. The sun stayed hidden
behind gray clouds, which roused themselves from time to time to drizzle
rain on the group.
The closer they got to the valley, the darker the mood of their party seemed
to get. Rogue, in particular, had almost retreated into herself. She didn't
really speak to anyone but Logan and seemed to be specifically avoiding
Jean noticed that Jubilee, typically, was an exception to the general bad
mood of the group. She and Alyn had taken to holding hands as they walked,
and she had turned the tables on him, asking about his world and his life.
He didn't seem to mind much, though he now always positioned himself between
Jubilee and Risa. It was as though he wanted to be able to defend either one
of them if it came to that.
The days ran into one another, but a few days into their trip, they stopped
at an inn and got a decent night's sleep in a real bed. Even better, the
next morning they found that Sidre had purchased horses for them -- or
conjured them out of thin air. It was sometimes hard to tell with her.
The horses allowed them to pick up speed, and the party reached the Pendrell
Valley less than two days later. The road that they'd been following split
into a Y, and Sidre slowed, leading them into the more wooded area to the
"We're surrounded by soldiers," Logan said casually. He didn't sound very
"We are on the edge of the valley," Sidre replied.
A moment later, a group of 20 soldiers wearing dark blue uniforms with no
insignia or markings ringed their party. The leader exchanged a few quiet
words with Sidre, who asked everyone to dismount.
The horses were led away, and Jean linked arms with Scott as they were
escorted off the road and into the woods by a handful of soldiers. A few
minutes later, they came into a clearing. It was only early afternoon, but a
small group of men were gathered around a fire, apparently eating lunch.
Three of them wore the same blue uniforms, and two were in normal clothing.
One uniformed man stood up. He was probably in his sixties, of average
height, with snow white hair and a ruddy face. When he smiled, a moment
later, it lit his entire face. He reached out and took one of Sidre's hands
in both of his. "Sidre. You made it. Maron has increased patrols to the
south; I was worried."
"We are fine," she said calmly, pulling her hand back.
"Did you find her?" he asked.
Without speaking, Sidre motioned to Rogue, who stepped forward silently and
pulled away the hood that she'd worn over her hair.
Sidre had said Rogue looked very much like her mother, and Jean figured that
must be the case, because the white-haired man gasped and dropped to one
knee. The other men, who had remained sitting, exchanged a glance before
following suit. They had no idea what was going on, Jean thought, but they
had enough respect for the older man to follow his lead without question.
"Princess," the man said, bowing his head. "I am General Oliver Symon. I
served your father, and his father before him. Now I offer my service to
Jean watched Rogue closely. Other than a small flinch, she remained
expressionless before sighing quietly. "Please stand, General. Gentlemen. I
gladly accept your offer of service," she said formally. "But please call me
The General stood and exchanged a quick glance with Sidre. "Er, Rogue. Will
you have something to eat?"
Rogue accepted for all of them, and two younger soldiers came into the
clearing with bowls, spoons and cups for them. Moments later, they were all
seated with bowls of stew in their laps.
Symon turned his attention to Logan. "Captain," he said. "I thought you
dead. Or a deserter."
Logan froze, and without even trying Jean could easily feel his anger
"He was taking care of me," Rogue said quickly, slipping one hand into
Logan's. Her look dared the General to say any more.
The older man glanced at the couple, then at their linked hands, and
laughed. "You did not let me finish. I thought he was dead until this one
--" he nodded at Sidre -- "showed up at my cabin in the middle of the night
with a story about saving the princess. I was in the castle that night. I
know what that bastard Deven did. Er. Pardon the language, Princess."
"You're right," Rogue said evenly. "'Bastard' doesn't quite seem bad enough
for that son of a bitch. And it's *Rogue.*"
The General chuckled but wisely let the subject drop as they finished their
meal. Instead, he introduced the men with him. The two men in civilian
clothing turned out to be leaders of the Barenians, those born without
Gifts. Though many of the younger Barenian men and women had joined with
Deven because of his promises, an even greater number were willing to join
with the Gifted to fight against him. It seemed there was something the
Barenians wanted even more than Gifts.
In exchange for siding with Rogue in the battle, they were asking for
Barenia to become a country of its own when Rogue was named queen. Rogue,
after a glance at Logan, quickly agreed to their request. As soldiers raced
around to gather documents for them to sign, Jean wondered at deciding
something so significant in an instant, though she sensed from Sidre and the
General that the young woman had made the right choice.
*And in half a second a 21-year-old reshapes a country.*
Jean jumped slightly, then met Scott's amused look.
*Could be worse,* she responded with a grin. *Jubilee could've been the
His horrified look was response enough.
She had been meeting people all day.
The valley was full of thousands of people camped in fairly tidy rows of
tents, most of which flew colorful banners out front with different designs
and family names stitched on them. Hundreds of fires burned; the smells of
countless meals being cooked blended together and left a smoky haze over the
entire camp. It seemed impossible that the enemy wouldn't know exactly where
they were and what they were doing.
But Rogue's job, at the moment, was to encourage people. By her royal
presence -- or some garbage like that -- she was giving the people strength.
She wandered the camp all day long, enduring the experience of having people
bow to her; the whole thing was surreal, as far as she was concerned. But
she continued her meeting and greeting.
Military leaders, soldiers, more soldiers, cooks, doctors, stable boys;
regular Barenians who were bakers and lawyers and blacksmiths; wives and
daughters who were joining the fight or setting up a makeshift hospital that
Rogue avoided like the plague.
She told a hundred people to please call her Rogue before giving up and
grudgingly accepting "your highness" and "princess" and "my lady," of all
things. She shook so many hands that she had to put on her gloves for fear
that exhaustion would rob her of her control and she'd hurt someone. She
politely and vaguely answered questions put to her, swiftly turning
conversation after conversation back on the person to whom she was speaking.
Above all, she just wanted to crawl into a bed -- or a sleeping bag on the
ground; she wasn't too picky -- and just let all of this pass her by. No
thinking about what she had to do, no thinking that people she met today
were liable to be dead in a couple days' time.
Logan and Scott had been away most of the day, working out battle plans with
the General. Jean was helping with the hospital preparations. Risa, Alyn and
Jubilee were practicing archery somewhere with some of the soldiers, most of
whom were half in love with Risa already. Probably Jubilee, too, but she
only had eyes for Alyn. Sidre had done her usual vanishing act, and Rogue
didn't see Celeste again until late in the day, when her cousin walked up
with a man.
He was in his forties, tall and lean, with blond hair fringed with silver
and ice blue eyes. His tanned face was lined in a way that made Rogue think
that he spent a lot of time smiling, though he was serious at the moment.
Something in his bearing made her think of a cowboy -- a deceptively relaxed
appearance covering up pure steel. Without thinking about it much, she stood
in front of him and stuck her hand out to shake. "You must be Celeste's dad.
Will Danis, I believe?"
He smiled, taking her hand but bowing slightly over it instead of shaking
it. Celeste rolled her eyes. "A pleasure, your highness--" he ended in a
grunt as his daughter elbowed him in the ribs. "Rogue," he finished.
Rogue laughed slightly. "It's OK," she said. "I've been princessed and
your-highnessed to death already today."
"I was anxious to meet you," he said. "I am hoping that you will spend some
time with my family after this is finished. It is your family as well."
Rogue felt suddenly choked up. "I'd ... I'd love that. I'd like to hear
about my parents." She knew she wouldn't be around for it, but it was a nice
"Are you all right?" Celeste grabbed her arm. "You look ill."
"I'm fine," she lied, stepping back. "Just tired is all. I need a little
Celeste and her father exchanged a worried glance but both nodded. She knew
she was being rude and probably worrying them, but she tried to smile before
she stumbled away.
Logan found her half an hour later, propped up against a tree and sobbing.
She let herself be drawn into his arms, soothed by the nonsense words he was
murmuring against her hair, and cried herself to sleep.
She couldn't have been dozing for more than a few minutes, but when she
woke, Logan was leaned against the tree with her between his legs and
cuddled into his chest. Embarrassed, she tried to push away from him, but he
held her close.
"Tell me," he said.
"I'm just tired."
"Bullshit." His voice was hard, and she winced. She didn't want him to be
mad at her. She felt like she was balanced on a high wire, holding stacks of
plates in each hand. Just one more thing would send her falling into space.
She needed him to help hold her up.
"Something's been bothering you, and it's time you told me." When she still
didn't say anything, he continued, his voice strained "Or did you lie when
you said you loved me?"
"I do love you Logan." She sighed and leaned into him.
"Tell me," he repeated.
So she did. Turning slightly, she leaned her forehead into his chest and
looked down, hiding her face from him and muffling her voice as she told him
about Sidre's Dream, about what she had to do. His arms tightened around her
as she spoke, but he didn't interrupt, and when she was done, he was silent
for a few strained minutes.
Then she felt him relax and rub his cheek against her hair.
This time she succeeded in pushing away from him slightly. His face was set
and stubborn, and the look in his eyes dared her to contradict him.
"No?" She laughed despite herself.
"I'm not letting you die. You should know that by now."
"Logan--" she started, exasperated.
"Sidre doesn't know everything," he said. "I'm not letting you die. Do you
"I don't ... she said ..." Rogue didn't know what to think.
"Tell me you believe me," he said, his hands clasping her shoulders almost
painfully. "If you don't believe it, I swear to God I'm hauling your ass
back home. I don't care if everyone in Sandoriel dies."
She gasped. "Logan! You don't mean that!" She saw his slightly sheepish look
and nodded. "What you mean is, you'll dump me back home and come back here
to kill him yourself."
He didn't answer, but she could tell she was right.
"You think the future can be changed?" she asked.
"She Dreamed that Risa died," he said patiently. "So we were prepared. We
changed what happened. Judging by her Dream, Deven's expecting you, but he's
not expecting me."
Rogue thought about that for a moment, then gasped again.
"What?" Logan looked alarmed.
She grinned at him. "I've got an idea. It might not work, but it's worth a
"Absolutely not," Sidre said firmly.
The whole group had gathered in the large tent that had been set up for them
to sleep in. No more cots were available, so the dirt and grass-covered
ground was littered with the sleeping bags and pallets they'd been using on
their journey. Rogue filled them in on Sidre's Dream and the plan she'd come
up with and worked out with Logan.
Sidre quickly objected to the plan.
For once, most everyone seemed to ignore her. Of course, most of them hadn't
gotten past the fact that Rogue thought she was going to die. In fact, most
of them seemed to be a little pissed that they hadn't been told about the
Dream from the beginning.
Particularly Scott. Everyone on the team jokingly called him their "Fearless
Leader," but they all knew he took the responsibility very seriously. He
felt that he couldn't do his job well if people kept things from him. Plus,
in the years that they'd known each other, Scott and Rogue had fallen into
a sibling-like relationship. She could tell he was hurt that she hadn't told
Jean could tell, too, obviously. Rogue watched as she ran a hand down his
arm and grasped his hand. They exchanged a look, and he seemed to rein in
his temper before he spoke.
"You should have told me."
"Us," Jean added.
"Us," Scott nodded. "We're a team, Rogue. We can't help you if you keep us
in the dark."
Rogue's eyes dropped to the ground, and she felt Logan's hand close around
hers, a mirror to the other couple. "I couldn't talk about it. I wasn't
"*This* is why you asked me about my father," Celeste snapped. She'd been
pacing around the tent like a caged animal the entire time Rogue had been
speaking. Despite the cool temperatures, her face was flushed and she was
obviously pretty angry.
"I didn't lie to you," Rogue objected. "Even if I don't ... even if I
survive, I can't stay in Sandoriel. I don't belong here anymore."
"You did not lie, but you kept something from us," Risa said quietly. "You
... all of you saved me. Why would you not trust us to save you?"
"I wasn't sure it was possible," Rogue said. "Sidre ..."
"The Dreams are true," Sidre said firmly. She stood near the center of the
tent, hands on hips. "We cannot change what is meant."
"Bullshit," Logan said.
"I second that," Scott added.
"This is a waste of time," Jubilee said. She had been uncharacteristically
silent the whole time, and Rogue had nearly forgotten that she was there.
When everyone was looking at her expectantly, she continued.
"I think we can all agree that Rogue should've told us everything." She
aimed a hard look at her friend. "We *will* be talking about that later,
chica. We can all also agree that we've already changed one of your Dreams,
Sidre. How can you argue that?"
"I ..." The older woman sighed and sank onto a blanket. "When I was younger,
I wanted to believe that Dreams could be changed. That I could change the
future. I tried. My husband, Galdran -- I Dreamed his death. I tried to warn
"Oh, Sidre." Rogue crawled over to her and grasped her hand. "I'm sorry."
"He was working to clear an area of the forest with some other men of our
town. I saw that he would be killed by a tree falling the wrong way. I do
not know if he believed me when I warned him, but he knew enough to be
careful. But, it was not enough."
Rogue wasn't sure she wanted to hear anymore. "You don't have to--"
"He avoided being killed outright by the tree," Sidre continued, her voice
soft. "But he was still crushed. He lived for a week, painful week, before
he died. He died anyway. When my teachers told me later that Dreams could
not be changed, I believed them. I had to. Otherwise, I would have to
believe that I could have saved him somehow."
Rogue exchanged a glance with Jean, who had put an arm around Sidre's
shoulders. The pain in her voice had silenced everyone in the tent, and
Rogue wasn't sure what to say.
"Well," Sidre said briskly, shrugging off both Jean and Rogue and pushing to
her feet. "That is an old pain. We must deal with now. I do not know if your
plan will work, but I do not have a better one."
The Nightowl: http://www.geocities.com/panda_grrl2000
Disclaimer, etc., in prologue
Epilogue to follow
She was thinking about pain and loss, and that was not the right frame of
mind for what she was facing.
Sidre sat across from her, eyes closed, trying to focus, and Jean forced
herself to do the same. She exchanged a glance with Scott, who tried to grin
at her. It came out more of a weak smile, but she appreciated the effort.
She knew he was worried about Rogue, as was she. They were trying to change
the future here, trying to change Fate, maybe.
She looked at Rogue, who was completely relaxed, flirting with Logan in the
corner. Well, Jean amended, she looked relaxed. That didn't mean she really
was. A lot went on inside that girl that she never allowed to show. Jean
smiled to herself. There were a lot of similarities between herself and
Rogue, including pure stubbornness.
They weren't letting Rogue die.
She looked back at Scott, and he nodded. He'd obviously picked up on her
thoughts, and she promised herself that she would work to better control her
mental shields after this was over. For her sake and his, it wouldn't do for
him to pick up every single thing she thought.
They were actually in the city of A'Mirion, had snuck in this morning
without arousing any attention. Sidre had led them to a bakery owned by her
cousin. In back of the store, there was a large storage building filled with
baking supplies. It would be just enough room for their purposes, and Sidre
said they were only minutes away from the castle.
General Symon's makeshift army was probably on its way toward the city at
that very moment. Logan and Scott had spent time with the General when he
was planning the attack. In fact, everyone involved was certain that major
casualties could be avoided.
They estimated that half the troops in Maron's army were Gifted, and many of
them were probably only afraid not to fight for him. The other half of the
army would be made up of young Barenians who were only fighting for the
possibility of being given a Gift by Maron. The Barenians in Symon's army
cooked up a plan to carry their family banners into battle near the head of
the battle lines. It was hoped that those who didn't really support Maron,
or didn't want to fight their own family members, would make a hasty retreat
from the fight.
Symon knew a number of the soldiers serving Maron were actively supporting
him by fighting back any signs of rebellion and by recruiting Barenians and
-- forcibly -- Gifted ones for Maron to steal powers from. Symon was very
eager to take a crack at those soldiers, and he had been for years. Many of
those who were joining him felt the same way, Jean knew.
The ultimate plan, of course, was to take out Maron himself. As soon as the
soldiers on his side knew he was gone, there would be nothing left to fight
for either way.
Jean closed her eyes and tried to clear her mind. She didn't know how long
she'd been sitting, cross-legged, facing Sidre before she felt the other
woman take her hands. Though her eyes were closed, she could tell the rest
of the group, except for Scott, was forming a circle enclosing the two
women, just like Sidre had instructed earlier.
She could feel the others around them, their minds, searching for a place of
peace. Some, like Celeste, found it immediately. Others, like Jubilee, took
a little longer. She could feel Scott, outside the circle, force his own
mind to clear so he wouldn't interfere. Once Logan, the last holdout, seemed
to finally relax and give in, the energy humming around them evened out.
The image of a frame, like a weaving loom, came into Jean's mind.
She wasn't, by nature, a crafty sort of person, and she wouldn't have had
the first idea how to weave anything, so it must have come from Sidre. She
felt tinges of amusement from the other woman, proving her right. You don't
have to make a rug, just a connection between minds and powers, she told
herself. Yeah, no problem. Child's play.
In her mind, she saw the image of the loom morphing into an image of herself
and Sidre, their hands clasped. Mentally shrugging, she started with Rogue.
Unsure of what she was doing, she reached out to the girl ... and ended up
with a thick strand of deep green yarn. In her mind, she separated from Jean
and became the Weaver. She threaded the yarn carefully between the hands and
arms of her Jean-self and Sidre. When she sensed approval from Sidre, she
turned to Celeste next. Rogue's cousin, with the same Gift, was represented
by a strand of jade green. It was threaded across the human loom,
intertwined with Rogue's thread.
The Weaver took threads from Alyn and Risa, a royal purple and blue; from
Jubilee, not surprisingly, a bold golden strand; from Logan, a deep, dark
red. The Weaver found she had enough power to even separate a flame
red-orange strand from her Jean-self. She felt the objection from Sidre but
added the strand to the twisted tangle of threads anyway.
It wasn't pretty, and it didn't look like any kind of rug or wall-hanging,
but it was strong. She felt Sidre tugging slightly at the threads, but they
were secure. For the time being, all those in the group would share their
Gifts with one another.
The Weaver had done her job well.
The voice, Jean's voice, spoke in her mind, and Rogue opened her eyes. They
still sat in a circle, holding hands, and everyone else was blinking and
shaking their heads. Rogue let go of Logan's and Celeste's hands and stood
up. She wobbled a little, but she felt different. Strong. She glanced at
Alyn and Risa. She had their strength. Jubilee's power, too. Logan's
healing. And Jean's power as well. That hadn't really been part of the plan,
but it couldn't hurt, she supposed.
Scott came up and grasped her arm. "You OK?"
"I'm fine," she said. "Do you think they're all right?" She looked at Jean
and Sidre, sitting completely still, hands clasped, eyes closed.
"They'll be fine for now," he decided. "At least I can make myself useful by
guarding them until they come out of it."
She knew he was upset that he couldn't help out in the battle against Maron,
but in the absence of visors for everyone, his Gift couldn't be shared with
the whole group. Rogue looked around the room. Jubilee was holding Alyn up
with one hand, and he was laughing at her. Celeste was trying out the
telekinesis, floating a large bag of flour in the air.
Luckily, along with the Gifts seemed to come the knowledge of how to use
them. Rogue wasn't thrilled about the idea of accidentally grilling someone
on their side with Jubilee's powers.
Now, Maron was another story. She would enjoy frying his ass very much.
It took only a few minutes to get to the castle from the bakery. They'd
pushed through the crowded streets, and nobody had given them a second look.
Though the sun was out in full force, it was still cold enough that many
people were covered in cloaks, and their group blended right in with the
Because they'd all received, in varying degrees, enhanced senses from Logan,
they heard the faint sounds of battle long before anyone in the city knew
anything was going on. Rogue saw a group of young children running, laughing
through the street and prayed fervently that the battle would be over, and
Maron dead, before any of the people realized what had happened.
The castle itself was so large that it couldn't really be seen from their
location, but Celeste led them along a wall until she came to a small wooden
door. A flick of Logan's claws got rid of the lock, and their party
disappeared inside the castle a moment later.
Sidre had drawn them a map of the castle with the most up-to-date
information she had. According to the most recent reports, Maron held open
court in the mornings but dined alone at lunch in his room. They had decided
that their best chance was to fight him then. His personal rooms were on the
top floor of the castle, several stories up. The only other thing on that
floor was a wing for his personal bodyguards, the King's Guard.
The group raced up several flights of stairs and through the door at the
top. They hit a dead end and a hallway running left and right, just like
Sidre's map. Rogue, Celeste and Logan headed right, the others went left
toward the King's Guard wing.
Risa, Alyn and Jubilee had a job of their own to complete. Maron reportedly
had ten personal Barenian bodyguards who served him in exchange for the
promise of being given Gifts. Past bodyguards had become *donte*, and it was
always possible that some or all of these men had become that. Or worse. It
would be dangerous, but Rogue thought her friends had the edge in a fight.
King Deven Maron had, of course, more than one personal room in the castle.
A study or office, a bedroom, a second bedroom for his mistress of the
moment, a bath, a sitting room, and a personal dining room.
On the fringes of Maron's personal wing was a small room. According to the
map, it was the secondary kitchen where the king's personal meals were
prepared. Sure enough, a male cook and a female maid were in the small
kitchen, flirting with each other, when Celeste, Logan and Rogue barged in.
Celeste had the two knocked out and tied up before Logan even let Rogue all
the way in the room.
Grumpily, she pushed him to the side and admired Celeste's handiwork. "Nice,
cousin," she said. "You two wait here. Give Uncle D and me a few minutes
before you bust up our party, OK?"
"Marie ..." Logan started, then sighed. "Watch your back."
She gave him a quick kiss, then slid out the door. Three doors down was
Maron's dining room. Rogue took a deep breath, then pushed the door open.
Closing it behind her, she stepped fully into the room. It was sparsely
decorated, with stone walls and a nice ruby and black patterned rug over
most of the stone floor. The table and chairs sat in the center of the room,
with a larger stuffed chair and heavy wooden cabinet at one end by a
fireplace. At the other end of the room, a set of stained glass double-doors
led to what Rogue assumed was a balcony.
A man sat at the table alone. He looked young, younger than she would've
thought he'd be, but his hair was iron gray all the way through. He was a
little overweight, maybe, just slightly rounded around the edges. She knew
it was a mistake to judge someone on a first impression, but he appeared
fairly harmless, and she wondered if this was really Deven Maron. She
suddenly realized that she stupidly had no idea what the man looked like.
His eyes flew to her and he pushed himself half out of his chair, resting
his hands on the table. "Emmarie," he said softly, his voice pleasant. "I
have been expecting you for some time now, but I only had the cook
She'd stopped really listening when she knew, somehow, what was going to
happen next. The enhanced sight she'd picked up from Logan zeroed in on the
flash of a knife as it appeared in Maron's hand. She faced him with a bored
expression and waited. The second he threw the knife, she waved her hand
half-heartedly, and the blade flew into a wall instead.
"Really, now," she said, smirking. "Is that any way to greet your long-lost
Jubilee, Alyn and Risa easily dispensed with the five personal bodyguards
they were able to find. After stashing the soldiers, knocked out and tied
up, in a closet, they searched each room in the wing without finding another
"Let's head back," Jubilee said. "I have a weird feeling."
"What's wrong?" Alyn asked anxiously. Jubilee smiled a little. The fierce
warrior she'd seen in the last few minutes was unfamiliar to her, but this
Alyn she knew well. He was smack dab in the middle of an adventure and not
necessarily thrilled about it.
"I just feel jittery or something," she said. "I don't know why, but --"
"Alyn! Watch out!"
Jubilee saw, almost in slow motion, a knife come out of nowhere and bury
itself in Alyn's stomach. In her shock, it never occurred to her to use her
borrowed powers to stop the blade. Alyn dropped to his knees in shock before
falling to the ground.
Risa threw out her hand even as she yelled a warning and, using telekinesis,
pinned the assailant to a wall. It was a *donte*. The creature snarled at
them but couldn't move.
"Poison," Jubilee gasped, yanking the blade out of Alyn with a wince. The
wound closed up almost immediately due to Logan's healing power, but she
could see through the tear in his clothing that an odd purpley green color
tinged the skin around the cut. Alyn was dead pale and sweating.
"It was poison!" Jubilee said, panicking. "It doesn't look like the healing
power is taking care of it."
Deven Maron stood tall now and came around the table. "I rule Sandoriel,
little girl," he smiled cruelly at Rogue. "No one gets in my way. I killed
your father, I killed your mother, and even your bratty little brother.
Though I sent someone to kill you, I am rather glad I get to take care of it
"Charming," she muttered. Raising a hand, she started to send a plasma blast
his way when she felt an invisible force pick her up and throw her against a
stone wall. Her head slammed into the stone before she fell to the floor,
and her teeth snapped together, catching her tongue and nearly biting it
off. She rolled to her feet and spat blood even as she felt her tongue and
Maron, lighter on his feet than she'd expected, dodged to one side as she
aimed a plasma blast at him. The blast took out a nice flowered
wall-hanging instead. Rogue belated hollered mentally at Logan and Celeste
that now might not be a bad time to pay a visit.
Logan and Celeste were halfway down the hall when five men, dressed in blood
red uniforms and brandishing swords blocked their path.
"I'll take the three on the left if you can handle the other two," Logan
"I will take three," Celeste answered. "You take two."
"Greedy," he said mildly. "Let's each take two, and whoever finishes first
gets the last one."
Perhaps, Rogue considered, a good old-fashioned, strength-enhanced ass
kicking might be just what was called for in this case. She spotted Maron
ducking behind the large chair near the fireplace and headed toward him,
dropping to the floor to dodge a blast of flame. Great. He was going all
Pyro on her now.
She crawled toward his general location, gasping when she felt him mentally
try to pick her up again. This time she pushed back in her mind, startling
him enough that she was able to use the borrowed telekinesis to topple the
wooden standing cabinet on the area where she thought he was hiding.
She heard a slight moan from that direction and got to her feet, carefully
picking her way around the debris. Maron lay on his back, looking up at her.
She was trying to decide what she should do next when he just disappeared.
In the blink of an eye, he was gone.
He was standing on the opposite side of the room by the door, smirking at
her, apparently unhurt. She started toward him and found she couldn't move
"You stupid girl," he said. "I knew you were coming."
She tried to move her legs or arms, tried to wiggle her nose. Nothing moved.
Scott paced nervously around the storage room. He wasn't necessarily
expecting an attack from any quarter, but he had a lot of nervous energy
ready to lash out at something. Anything.
He was worried about the team, especially Rogue, and he preferred being in
the thick of the action to all this waiting and pacing.
Suddenly Jean and Sidre gasped in unison. He dropped into a crouch, peering
into their faces. As far as he could tell, they were still working to keep
everything together. Both women, he noticed now, were sweating, and Jean
looked particularly pale.
He tapped his fingertips together, thinking. Should he try to wake them? The
team in the castle needed their help, but he wasn't about to let anything
happen to Jean. He'd been worried when he realized that Rogue's plan would
rely so much on Jean's power, but she hadn't seemed concerned at all about
it. Obviously, it was taking more of a toll on her than she'd let on.
Suddenly, he heard her inside his mind. She sounded afraid. *We're losing
The poisoned knife flew off the floor where Jubilee had tossed it and into
Risa's hand. Still pinning the *donte* to the wall, she threw the knife
directly at its heart. Or where Jubilee assumed it would be if it still had
Jubilee had Alyn's head in her lap, and she was running one hand over his
clammy forehead. "Risa," she said, suddenly realizing that she was crying,
"I think he's dying. What do we do?"
Once she was certain the *donte* was dead from its own poison, Risa ran over
and dropped to her knees beside her brother. She tugged a small blue bottle
out of her tunic. Uncapping it, she motioned for Jubilee to hold Alyn still.
"You must drink this, brother," she said calmly. "Sidre gave it to me after
she had the Dream. In case I was attacked by a *donte*. It should take away
Jubilee held his head still, and Risa poured the liquid down his throat. The
two young women held onto him and waited.
Maron was in full Evil Bad Guy Lecture form.
"You come here, unarmed, with a handful of weak Gifts, and you expect to
Rogue wondered where Logan and Celeste were.
"You are just as weak as your father was. He never deserved to rule,
This was getting boring. Rogue tuned him out and tried to gather her
strength. She didn't know if the TK would work, but she had to try
something. Experimentally, she pushed against the force that was holding her
still. It pushed back, hard, and for a moment she couldn't breathe.
The door burst open, and Logan and Celeste rushed into the room. The *snikt*
of Logan releasing his claws seemed to echo against the stone walls. In his
surprise, Maron let his grip on Rogue slip enough for her to break free.
Logan lunged at Maron, who pulled his disappearing act, reappearing a few
feet away as Logan stumbled into a wall instead.
Jean and Sidre gasped again, and this time their eyes snapped open and their
hands slipped apart. Scott dropped to the floor beside them again, one hand
on each woman's shoulder.
"We lost it," Jean said weakly, then fainted.
Celeste glared at Maron and raised a hand, obviously about to blast him.
Nothing happened. Rogue figured her cousin had been frozen in place like she
had, but a second later she felt it. The link between them all had been
broken; their powers could no longer be shared.
Celeste took her turn rushing at the older man, who dodged her punch and
sent a band of flames back at her. Celeste yelped as her sleeve caught fire,
and she stopped, dropped and rolled just like they taught in school. Still,
Rogue could smell the burnt flesh, and she yelled at Logan to help heal her
Maron was still ignoring Rogue and lifted his hand, probably to send more
fire at Celeste and Logan. Rogue kicked his legs out from under him and
clamped her hand on his bare arm. Half a second later, she allowed her power
to start drawing from Maron, who wasn't prepared enough to block her
She was immediately disgusted by what she found inside his mind. He was a
horrible, evil person, and the thoughts and images she saw made her want to
throw up. Sidre either didn't know or hadn't told how many people he had
killed or how it made him feel. He enjoyed it. He envisioned himself as a
god to those with no Gifts. By exterminating all those who had Gifts, he
made himself all the more powerful.
She yanked her hand away in disgust and stood up. Maron rolled unsteadily to
his feet and brought up his hand again. Before he could blast her with fire
or anything else, Rogue lashed out with her foot, kicking him square in the
chest. Maron stumbled backward, crashing through the glass double doors.
She followed at a run and feigned a punch. When he lunged away, she kicked
him again, this time higher, under the chin. He tumbled back again and, to
her shock, over the stone balcony. She rushed to the edge of the balcony,
spotting his still body on the ground below.
Logan came up beside her and looked down. "Guess he never learned to fly,"
Celeste leaned over the railing on Rogue's other side. "Too bad," she said.
"When I'm with a boy I like, it's hard for me to say anything cool or
witty ... or at all. I can usually make a few vowel sounds, and then I
have to go away."
~~ Willow, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"
Disclaimer, etc., with prologue
Two months later: Jubilee
They had been back home for a month, and Jubilee had never been more
It was the middle of the night, and while everyone else was snug in their
beds, she wandered the halls of the mansion, not even remotely tempted to
raid the refrigerator or go out and find a good place to have a beer and
dance. She was obsessing, as usual, about Sandoriel.
The mop-up operation after the fight at the castle took no time at all.
Maron was a suspicious bastard who kept as few people nearby as possible.
The actual army battle took a little longer, but it went much as the General
had predicted. Most of the Barenians and a great number of the Gifted
soldiers took off before the fighting began. General Symon's army had little
trouble defeating the fighters who were left behind.
Alyn had quickly recovered after his dose of antidote, and all the other
members of their group came out of the fight without so much as a scratch.
Jean had worried them for a while. Sidre said she'd seriously overtaxed
herself by letting them borrow her telekinetic powers. Every time one of
them used the power, Jean grew weaker. Finally, the task of holding
everything together became too much for both of them, and Jean had
collapsed. She slept for 18 hours and woke up feeling fine and brushing off
anyone's concern for her health. When they got home, Jubilee heard her
telling the Professor that she'd had a breakthrough with her Gift, that it
was stronger than ever.
The people of Sandoriel had been thrilled to find out that their Princess
Emmarie had been found, but they seemed equally happy when the princess
herself crowned the new king of Sandoriel -- Will Danis, Celeste's father.
That made Celeste a princess, and Jubilee admitted to being privately amused
at how uncomfortable the attention made Blondie. Sure, she'd come through in
the end, but that didn't mean Jubes had to bond with her or anything.
They spent almost a month in Sandoriel after the fighting was over, helping
to settle things down and witnessing the birth of a new country as the
Barenians finally got their wish. Rogue spent a lot of time with her
long-lost family finding out about her parents and her country.
Jubilee spent every possible moment with Alyn, running errands for the king,
ridding the castle of everything to do with Maron, helping people who were
injured in the main battle, attending boring banquets and making out in
every closet, nook and cranny they could find in the castle. Once Alyn
caught on to the whole kissing thing, he threw himself into it passionately.
Eventually, the group retraced its path all the way back to Fairfield,
Alyn's home. The night before they were to return home, Alyn finally made a
move, and Jubilee joined the Drunken Sluts Club. But she didn't tell anyone,
because it was too important, too personal to talk about. Too painful, now.
She remembered at least 50 times a day how she'd twined her hand with his
and whispered, "I love you."
He had pulled her closer and kissed her hard, but he didn't return the
And he didn't ask her to stay.
She would have, she knew. Given up everything she knew, given up the X-Men
and her friends. Given up rock music and Pop Tarts and pizza, dancing and
television and Matt Damon movies. She would've given up the damn mall, if
only he'd asked.
She was afraid she was a horrible, evil person, because she could barely
stand to be around her friends anymore. It was bad enough that Scott and
Jean had disappeared two days after their return to the mansion and showed
up a week later married. At least Jubilee was spared from having to attend a
But they were acting uncharacteristically newlywed-y. Every time she turned
a corner in the mansion they were making out or just snuggling and gazing at
each other like they had just started dating or something. At least, she
thought grumpily, she and Alyn had the courtesy to hide in a closet for that
Things were still going great for Kitty and Bobby. Obviously they hadn't
been so concerned for their missing friends that they didn't have time to
have sex every five minutes and on every available surface. Or so it seemed
from the extensive rundown of events Kitty insisted on sharing. At least she
was spared the public displays of affection in their case. Kitty had moved
into the room right next door to Popsicle, apparently so they'd have access
to more flat surfaces for sex.
Some of Rogue's stuff was still in their room, but she'd all but moved in
with Logan as soon as they'd come back. And Jubilee was happy for them. She
was. Most of the time. But she felt if she had to witness Logan groping her
friend under the dinner table one more time, she would gouge her own eyes
out with her fork.
She was a little bitter.
As always, on her nighttime wanderings, she returned to the mirror. The
professor had had it moved upstairs into a room connecting with his office.
He was currently considering what to do with it. He was reluctant to destroy
it, because Rogue had already told him she wanted to go back and visit
sometimes. Yet he was understandably concerned about who might eventually
use the gateway to come into their world. Still, Jubilee could tell that he
was intrigued enough by the mirror that he would never get rid of it.
She would sit, sometimes for hours, in an overstuffed chair next to the
mirror, just thinking. She could go back. She could make Rogue open the
gateway for her, and she could go back to Sandoriel, track down Alyn and
force him to love her.
She sank back into the chair and pulled her legs up, wrapping her arms
around her knees. She knew it was impossible to make someone feel love, but
she'd really thought he felt something for her. Jubilee closed her eyes and
tried to remember every detail of his face. His smile. His warm eyes. The
little line that he'd get on his forehead when he was trying to puzzle out
what she was saying. The way his hair would flop down into his eyes.
The strange sound in the empty room had her bounding to her feet. Her heart
sped up as she saw the mirror had begun to light up. It suddenly occurred to
her that they were never sure they'd gotten all the *donte* out of
Sandoriel. There were no records of how many had been created, so they had
no way of knowing.
Jubilee sent out a mental warning to the professor and stood back from the
mirror as a figure stepped out and into the room, looking around wide-eyed.
She watched in shock as he turned her way and grinned, dropping a large bag
at his side. "Jubilation Lee."
She wanted to go to him but couldn't seem to move. "What ..."
"I wanted to see your world for myself," he said, slowly coming toward her.
"But, really, I wanted to see you."
"I missed you, Jubilation. I tried not to love you because I knew you would
leave, but it did not work. It is darker in Sandoriel without you."
She put her arms around his waist and buried her head in his chest. "You
came to visit me."
He pulled back slightly. "I came to stay. I ... I mean, if you want me to
She was actually speechless. But, typically, it didn't last long. "It just
so happens, I've been looking for a roommate," she said.
"Well, I am your man, then." He grinned at her.
As he pulled her into a kiss, Jubilee decided she could live with that. She
The Nightowl: http://www.geocities.com/panda_grrl2000
*Last chapter ahead!*
Look for story information in part 1.
Doctor Hannibal Lecter was ready to leave the Xavier-institute. He
had returned all the magazines, books and clothes he had borrowed
from Charles, and thanked him.
Now he was neatly dressed in his dark silk suit, which he arrived
in, and with him, he had his briefcase, where he kept everything he
needed to survive in the wide world.
Xavier, plus his X-men, had gathered in the lobby to say goodbye to
- Is it certain now that you don't want to stay? Charles asked him
one last time.
Hannibal shook his head and smiled sadly.
- I am sorry, said Charles.
- I have to leave, said doctor Lecter. I have to. I am sorry.
- It is alright. I understand.
- Where is Erik? Is he coming to say goodbye?
- He will come, Xavier replied. He is leaving too, today, to take
care of some problems.
- Has it got to do with the blue girl? the doctor wondered.
- Yes, it has.
Right in the moment, Erik arrived at the lobby, accompanied by
Mystique, whose arm he held in a firm grip. She was still keeping her
down, and refused to meet anyone's gaze when she entered.
- Are you also leaving now? Erik asked when he saw doctor Lecter.
Hannibal nodded. - Yes, it is time.
- Where are you going?
- To my house in Maryland, to begin with. I will move, but there
are some things that I would like to bring before I go.
- How are you getting there?
- I'll rent a car, Hannibal said.
- Go with me, instead, Erik offered. I am going to New York City.
- Do you mean that?
- Of course. It will be great to have some company.
- Is the blue girl coming? doctor Lecter asked, frowning.
- Yes, she is. But don't worry about her. She will not be any
trouble. I promise.
- Alright, then, Hannibal said, shrugging. If you insist...
Now Mystique raised her head for the first time, and gave doctor
Lecter a poisonous look when he referred to her as "the blue girl".
She recalled that he had helped bandaging her last night, and she
also recalled trying to punch him.
- We should go, Erik said. It is a long drive to New York City.
Suddenly Rogue rushed forth toward Hannibal, and gave him an
unexpected kiss on his cheek. Her entire face was smiling.
- Goodbye, Hannibal, she said. I am forever grateful.
- Knowing that delights me, the doctor replied, taking her hand
into his own, squeezing it lightly. Now she was wearing no gloves,
and everyone could see how happy she was because of it.
Even Logan, who had until now efficiently ignored doctor Lecter,
came and patted his shoulder.
- I also want to thank you...he murmured. You are...a great
- The pleasure was mine, said the doctor, smiling at Logan.
Ororo stood by herself a small distance away. She had large bags
underneath her eyes, probably since she had been crying so much, and
a split, swollen lower lip, after confronting Mystique last night.
Although her arm didn't hurt at all anymore. Hannibal had done a
good job fixing it.
Slowly Hannibal approached her and took her hands in his own. He
looked deep into her eyes. Her large, beautiful, dark eyes expressed
sadness and pain, but also acceptance. She knew that Hannibal Lecter
would disappear out of her life as quickly as he had entered it, and
she could do nothing about it.
- Ororo, he said. Do not hate me, please.
- I don't hate you, Hannibal, she replied gently, with her soft
- I care for you, Ororo, and I will not forget you, he promised.
- Will I ever see you again?
He sighed. - I don't know, he said at last. But I think not.
Then Ororo almost burst into tears and started crying out loud. To
prevent it, she wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him
tightly. She was almost jealous of Magneto, who would get to drive
the doctor all the way to New York City.
- Goodbye... she whispered. Take good care now.
- You too, my weather goddess.
Slowly they disengaged from each other. - Go now, Ororo whispered
and looked down at her feet.
- I promise I'll write, said doctor Lecter.
Ororo brightened up a bit. - You will? So we will keep in touch?
- I will write, the doctor repeated and squeezed her hand one last
time before he turned around and started walking away from her.
- Goodbye, Charles, he said a looked into Xavier's eyes. Thank you
for wanting to understand.
- Goodbye, doctor Lecter. Remember what I said, Charles replied
Erik let go of Mystique's arm and went to his lover. He bent down
and kissed him deeply. Charles returned the kiss with his eyes
- I will call you tonight, promised Erik.
- Do so. I am missing you already.
- I will come here again as soon as I have worked out my problems
- Drive carefully, Erik. Goodbye.
- Goodbye, Charles. Goodbye, everybody.
Erik stood up again and started leading Mystique toward the door.
Doctor Lecter had already gone out beforehand.
Ororo knew that she would never see him again, and now she cried.
Why would life have to be so cruel?
AN ACCIDENTAL INTERCEPTION OF FATE
The day after Jean's awakening, Elaine Grey descended on Xavier's
Institute like the wrath of Demeter upon Persephone's capture. She
and her husband John arrived at noon, and Bobby Drake had the
misfortune to be the one who opened the front door. "Where's
Charles?" she demanded at once, slipping past the boy with a small
woman's grace, then looking about, her chin tilted and dark eyes
narrow. She reminded Bobby of nothing so much as a mink, edgy and
inclined to bite if approached. Her husband, a big-boned man with
silver hair, followed her inside, giving a nod and half-smile to
Bobby, his shoulders slumped as if making an apology in advance.
Bobby, of course, didn't know them, and asked, "Charles who?" because
none of the new students was named 'Charles' and the pair in the
foyer were obviously parents.
"Dr. *Xavier*," Elaine replied with a snap, turning to glare, her
lips pursed slightly and one eyebrow raised. "We're here to see
"The professor is busy right now." All three turned at the new voice
and approaching footsteps. Scott Summers stopped in front of the
stairs, hands on hips. "Can I help you?"
"Elaine, why don't we go somewhere and wait until Charles is free,"
John tried to suggest, but his wife cut him off, speaking to Scott.
"Charles called us this morning. I can't imagine that he's so busy
he wasn't expecting us." The words mixed humorous disdain with faint
reproach. "You can help best by going to fetch him, thank you."
Her tone was one usually reserved for servants and Scott's shoulders
went back, spine snapping straight with the instinctive antipathy of
the working class for the country club set. "Can I tell him who you
are?" he asked bluntly, as Bobby -- no longer the focus -- slunk
"We're the Greys," John interjected, setting one hand on his wife's
shoulder and leaning past her to offer Scott his other. "Jean's
parents. Let me guess; you must be Scott Summers. Jean's talked a
lot about you."
"That's right, I'm Scott." And if he weren't so rude as to refuse
the hand, he wasn't wholly reconciled and wondered what they were
doing there, apparently having driven up that very morning without
advance warning. Had Jean suffered a relapse in the night that he
hadn't been told of?
Or maybe *they* hadn't been told. The professor tended to play his
cards close to his chest, and indeed, Scott's suspicions were
confirmed when he went down to the Danger Room to inform the
professor of the Greys' arrival. "Oh, God, my mother," Jean said,
wrapping her arms about herself like a fence; Scott could *feel* the
anxiety radiating off of her. "Did you have to tell her, professor?"
"Well, I couldn't have put it off much longer, Jean."
"She's going to want to see me."
"Do you want to see her, is the question?" Scott said, walking over.
She still appeared haunted and a little blurred about the eyes.
"No," she replied instantly.
"Then you don't have to."
"Scott, she's my mother, she --"
"You don't have to," he reiterated.
"Scott is correct," the professor told her. "In fact, in your
current condition, I wouldn't advise it, and that's what I intend to
tell her." Turning his chair, Xavier headed for the exit.
Jean looked at Scott in a mix of guilt and hope. "You stay here,"
Scott told her. "I'll go listen." And with a quick squeeze of her
arm, he trotted after Xavier, attaching himself to the professor like
a squire to his knight. If Jean's mother wished to treat him like a
servant, then he'd assume a servant's invisibility.
It worked. No one sent him out of the professor's office, and he
took up a position next to the door as Elaine got right to the point
and Xavier (ever the proper host) made tea. "You told us this
wouldn't happen! You said her telepathy was locked away
"No, Elaine. I *said* her telepathy had been locked away until she
was mature enough to manage it."
"And is she?" John Grey asked.
"Yes," Xavier said. "I think she is." He turned to look at the
couple seated in front of his wide oak desk. "Jean's telepathy is as
much a part of her as her telekinesis. It manifested before she was
ready, but she is no longer a ten-year-old girl. Even had the
telepathy not remanifested, I would have removed the blocks soon.
The only reason I've permitted her to keep them this long is because
she was otherwise occupied with her education."
"Is she going to be all right?" Elaine asked while lighting a
cigarette with nervous fingers. And if Scott would never learn to
like the woman, her question and the obvious worry behind it
mitigated somewhat his disgust.
"Eventually? Certainly," Xavier replied. "By tomorrow afternoon?
No. Would you like sugar or milk in your tea?"
"Neither," John replied, and his wife said, "sugar only." She blew
smoke, then asked, "What about her residency? If this goes on too
long, she'll have wasted all those years. Jean's put too much of
herself into these degrees, Charles."
"Provisions have been made for Jean's residency," Xavier said. The
statement was vague, but the Greys let it go. "For now, we need to
concentrate on stabilizing her."
"I want to see her," Elaine said.
Xavier gestured for Scott's assistance, handing him the teacups to
deliver. Servant indeed, but he'd set himself up for it. Meekly, he
took the tea to the Greys as Xavier said, "At the present time,
that's unadvised. Just as before, Elaine, Jean needs to remain
isolated until she's stabilized."
"I'm her mother."
"You're not a telepath. You have no shielding ability."
"I'm her *mother*."
"Elaine -- "
"Charles, this is my *baby*!"
"Elaine, please." Xavier stared her down until finally she glanced
away, contravened but not cowed. "As soon as Jean is ready for
visitors, you'll be notified." And that was that.
And if Scott were relieved to see the shrew sent packing, a part of
him still felt empathic disquiet. Just two days ago, that had been
*him* begging admittance, and the fact he'd won it owed more to his
usefulness than to any sympathy on Xavier's part. Xavier did what he
thought best for Jean -- not for Elaine, nor for Scott himself. When
Scott had come back to the mansion, he'd come out of his own
neediness, but in this situation, Jean's needs mattered most. And
that, Scott thought, was the difference between maturity and
childishness, the ability to think beyond one's own self.
But Xavier hadn't, originally, believed Scott had anything to offer,
and if Scott hadn't argued his case, he'd never have been admitted
and Jean might still be lost in a swamp of others' impressions.
Scott had been so accustomed to thinking of the professor as the man
with all the answers, all the contacts, and all the experience, he'd
forgotten Xavier was still a *man*. Like anyone else, he made
decisions based on opinions; and however wise he might be, he wasn't
infallible. There was a difference between trusting and following
blindly; understanding that, too, was maturity.
"He's going to be a *teacher*?"
A verbal pinprick, whispered rapidly and barely caught, as Scott
paced down the hall towards the new classroom-cum-arboretum to face
eleven students spread across the equivalent of five different
mathematical classes. And how, he wondered, was he to teach
something like *that*? He was reminded of one-room schoolhouses in
the Old West, and hadn't one of his ancestors been a marshal? But
his own preparation had been geared towards modern classes of
apathetic teenagers bored by the mere idea of inequalities and
absolute value, and since -- by his senior year -- he'd elected to
enter graduate school in something else, he'd never taken a teaching
practicum. In short, his only real experience in a classroom had
been as a student, and a one-and-a-half semester's stint as a
glorified paper grader.
"Good afternoon," he said now as he entered. Eleven sets of eyes
swiveled towards him, glinting with skepticism, amusement, and
perhaps a bit of derision. Who was he trying to fool?
Unsettled by their doubtful expressions, he turned to the mobile
chalkboard and began dividing it up into five sections to scribble
down assignments, then stopped. This was just untenable. With a
sigh, he glanced back at the room. Three were in the equivalent of
Algebra I, which the State of New York called "Integrated Math I" --
just to be complicated -- another four were in "Integrated Math II"
(Algebra II and basic geometry), and two more were ready for
trigonometry. Of the remaining students, one (Jubilee) was in
algebra prep and another (Skids) was in remedial math, still learning
the basics of multiplication and division.
Xavier had told him they were used to splitting up, so he sent
Jubilee and Skids to the library where they could work in peace until
he could tutor them one-on-one. Then he moved around the room
between the other three groups, explaining something, giving them
practice equations, and going on to the next group. But if he were
working with one set, he wasn’t available to answer questions from
another, and between the three larger groups, he couldn’t find time
to break away to answer questions for the two in the library. When
he finally did get down there, he found his final two students
doodling on notebooks in boredom. Apologizing, he sat down at
Jubilee's table. Eying him, she popped her pink bubble gum and
sagely offered, "The professor manages, and he's in a wheelchair."
"Well, I'm not the professor.".
Triumphant, she grinned. "Yeah, I know."
Unsure how to respond to that, he said only, "Get rid of the chewing
gum in the library." And they went to work.
By supper, he was exhausted and depressed, and didn't want to visit
Jean in such a dark mood. Frank found him brooding on a couch in the
den. "So," the Italian began, seating himself in an armchair across
from Scott, who was sprawled inelegantly on the sofa seat.
"So -- I suck as a teacher."
Frank's expression was dubious. "What is the problem?"
"I can’t be in five place places at once?"
"Ah -- so be in five places at different times."
The initial answer was a snort. "Very funny."
"I was serious."
"That's what I *tried*. I divided up the class just like Xavier
said, but they get bored waiting, or can't do the work because they
have a question and I'm not available to answer."
Frank waved a hand. "No, no. I don't mean five in one session; I
mean to teach maths not just in the afternoons. The school, it has
gone from five to eleven this very year. I believe that even the
professor is becoming strained, and the numbers will only increase.
It is time to think anew, no?"
Scott scratched his chin. One didn’t have to be Nostradamus to
predict that the school would just get bigger, compounding the
problem. "You mean it’s time to divide up by age?"
"Or at least into older and younger. There are three of you now, to
teach -- you, Hank and the professor. So have Hank take the youngers
in the mornings for the English and humanities, and you take the
elders for the maths and sciences. Then reverse after lunch. The
professor can teach them the ethics last, when he is completed with
Jean for the day."
“How did a guy who's two years younger than me get to be smarter than
Frank just smiled. "You are the maths one. What is it they say
Then they were silent a while until Scott said, "The other problem is
that they don't take me seriously."
Frank just raised an eyebrow.
"Oh, come on -- look at me, Frank! I'm not much older than them!
Bobby still calls me ‘Scott’ in class."
"And you would rather him to call you 'Mr. Summers"?" Frank seemed
"I’m not comfortable with that, either," Scott allowed, then looked
down at himself. He was wearing nice jeans and a polo shirt. It
wasn’t, he thought, very professional. "I look like a college
student. I need some new clothes."
"The clothes make the man?"
"Well, they damn sure don't hurt." Yet he couldn't go clothes
shopping alone. EJ had helped him in the past, but EJ was in
California and Scott just looked at Frank, too proud to ask directly
for assistance with something as simple as telling green from blue.
Fortunately, Frank had known him a long time, and now rolled his
eyes. "*Basta chiesta, cafone impertinente*!" Just ask, idiot.
"Can you go to the mall with me?"
"Of course." And grinning, he stood. "We should take the Aston
Martin. Shall I drive?"
"When hell freezes over," Scott replied. "But yeah, lets take the
It had been a long time since the two of them had gone somewhere
together, and their friendship had grown stretched and transparent
across a continental divide. Now they remembered it over fast cars,
limp food-court fare, and a running commentary in Italian about the
charms of the women they passed in the mall. "It is the whole
shape," Frank said, illustrating with his hands. "Americans look too
much at the *parts*. Only in America would you find a restaurant
called 'Hooters.' Philistines. All of you."
"Only in Italy," Scott returned, "would newscasters bend over to show
their cleavage to the camera. Don't try to tell me Italians don't
sell stuff on sex, Francesco!"
"I never said that. But it is all about taste, no? Fast food, bad
beer, and infomercials. That is America! Oh, and sieges." He eyed
Scott with humor and made one of his grand Italian gestures. "You
*court* a woman, *mi amico*. You do not lay siege to her."
"So you've said." Had said it several times, in fact, when Scott had
first told him about his determination to win Jean Grey.
"There is a bet on, you know."
Incredulous, Scott glanced over. "A *bet*? About what?"
"What do you think? How soon she will say 'yes,' of course! And I
do not mean to the date." His grin was impish. "The date is a
"Where the hell do they get off, making bets on my love life?" Scott
asked aloud, but was secretly pleased by the apparent confidence of
the others in his eventual success.
"Well," Frank replied, "you were rather vocal about it in the dining
hall yourself, no?"
It took him a moment, before he remembered: the fight with Warren,
to which almost everyone in the mansion had been a witness. At the
time, he'd been too distraught to be properly embarrassed, but now he
felt the blood scald his neck and ears. "So we're gossip fodder,
"*Oh, sì, altro che!*" Absolutely.
Sometime later, in the men's section of Nordstrom's, Scott admitted,
"Man, it's been too long since we just hung out. I don't even know
what you're planning to do after you graduate."
"International law," Frank replied, checking a shirt against a pair
of slacks that Scott had already bought. Summers was a deliberate
shopper rather than an adventuresome one, Frank had discovered, with
a mental list of what he wanted that he stuck to, much to the
exasperation of his more spontaneous Italian companion.
"No," Scott said now -- to the shirt, not the career choice. "Too
Frank just eyed him and put the shirt back. "Since when is
Façonnable too loud? It is *color*. Everything you have is *no
"I've got stuff like that, Frank. I want clothes that are a little
more . . . staid."
"Why international law?"
Frank shrugged and let Summers change the subject. "It will be
And there he went, Scott thought, shifting from fashion-conscious
young Italian to far-seeing Apollo in the blink of an eye. "That
vision you had was a long time ago, Frank."
Francesco only nodded. Most people, he had learned, had a short
attention span. In some ways, that made it easier for him. For two
years, Francesco Placido had been working quietly towards the
fruition of the only bulwark he'd foreseen that could halt
Armageddon. But perhaps, he thought, it was time to remind them.
"Nothing has changed," he said softly under high, bright ceiling
lights amid shelves crowded with shirts and trousers and ties like
Summers shook his head. "I haven't found that people much care. For
my last two years at Berkeley, pretty much everybody I knew, knew I
was a mutant, including some of my professors. Okay, sure, a couple
were nervous at first, but they got over it."
"That was Berkeley. And they knew *you*."
"Fair enough. Still."
Frank considered a moment, then turned to a rack of patched wool
shirts. "Something will change. I cannot say what, or why. This
country is like an open camp now, at ease, confident -- but in five
years, it will not be. Threats real and imagined will create
Frowning, Summers came up beside Placido and set a hand on his
shoulder, turning him until they were face-to-face. "What's going to
"I do not know. Something. Something big. The sky will be black
for days and your country will learn fear. Europe will be safer for
mutants than America, land of the free."
"Is there some way to stop it?"
"I think . . . no. But only time will tell." His smile was wry, but
he didn't look Scott in the face. "Even the smallest change might
avert the avalanche, but for now? No. It bears down on us."
"I do not know. But soon. It will change everything, and they will
fear us. You and the rest can teach them not to fear. Maybe. It is
the only answer that I have seen."
Scott had forgotten how disconcerting Francesco could be, and
swallowed. He also didn't miss the fact that Frank hadn't included
himself in 'the rest.' "So what can we do?"
"The same thing you set out to do two years ago -- be ready."
"You make it sound like I'm the lynchpin or something."
Frank glanced up at him finally. "You are. You will lead them."
Scott snorted and turned away. But he didn't stop thinking about
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Continued directly from Part 17a .....
Jean was reclining on her bed, reading by the light of an end-table
lamp, when the knock came on the Danger Room door. It surprised her
so much, she dropped her book and sat up with a gasp, grabbing for
Three days after returning to herself from the morass of her madness,
Xavier had decided that there was no reason for her to be
uncomfortable, and had transformed one corner of the DR into a
makeshift bedroom complete with a twin-sized bed, end table, small
dresser, desk, her computer, and even some knickknacks that Scott had
brought down, among them her stuffed, spotted white snow leopard.
Other children had cuddled teddy bears or fluffy cats, bunnies or
beanbag dogs. Jean had cuddled a snow leopard named Ralph. Ralph
had gone with her to the sanitarium, to her dorm at Columbia, her
apartment, the institute, and now, the Danger Room. Despite
occasional appearances to the contrary, she had a penchant for
constancy in her affections.
Slipping into her robe, leopard tucked under an arm, she crossed to
the door. "Who is it?"
Smiling, she glanced at her watch. "Hello, Just Me. Do you always
call on women in their towers after midnight?"
"Only if they let down their hair, Rapunzel."
"Sorry. Chopped all mine off."
"Darn. I guess I'll just have to find some convenient dynamite to
blast my way in. Or, oops, I kinda come equipped with my own."
Smiling wider, she unlatched the door so he could enter. She hadn't
realized until she'd heard his voice how disappointed she'd been when
he hadn't shown up after supper like he usually did, and now as he
entered, the warmth of his mind filled her up. It wasn't about
touch. She didn't need his touch to be touched by him and usually
did her best to keep him at arm's length. If she let him touch her
with his hands like he touched her with his thoughts, she'd be lost.
Moving back a step, she hugged the leopard to her breasts, regretting
her half-clothed state even as he noticed it. Color suffused his
cheeks, but not from embarrassment. He wanted her. She felt it
bright in him, intent. How long did she really think she could hold
out against the force of that? "I missed you," she whispered.
"Sorry. I should have called down before we left."
"It's okay. Where'd you go?"
Grinning, he held out his arms. "What d'you think? I just finished
doing laundry for my new duds." She redirected her attention to what
he was wearing, and felt her eyebrows go up. "Do I look like a prep
school math teacher?" he asked.
"You look like you robbed a "Land's End" catalogue." He almost
pouted and she struggled not to laugh, but then picked up, seeping
from the edges of his mind, scattered memories of his awful
afternoon. That removed her amusement. "Oh, Scott -- you don't have
to be somebody else to make them listen to you. Just be yourself.
You're a great teacher."
"Like hell." He turned away, his embarrassed pain stabbing at her.
"It was your *first class*. Of course there were bumps." She
studied his back. "Come on," she said and headed back to her little
'room,' where she took a seat on her bed, her leopard still clutched
to her chest. He followed, slowly, feet dragging, and plopped down
in the chair she pointed to. "I never did tell you about my first
night on call, did I?"
They hadn't been talking much at that point; she'd told Warren but
not Scott. "We had an MVA about eight in the evening -- young couple
in a pickup truck. The man had been driving and was hurt pretty
badly, but his wife was only banged up. Still, she had his blood all
over the front of her shirt and looked frightful. They brought them
in, put the husband in Trauma Room A, and her in an exam room with
me, and as you can imagine, she was just frantic."
Scott had leaned over to listen, hands clasped between his knees,
lamplight falling soft on his serious expression and the shiny red of
his glasses. Clearly, he expected some tragic tale.
"Well, I couldn't keep the wife on the exam bed so I could give her
an exam. She kept hopping off and running out into the hall, to hear
what was going on in Trauma." Scott's serious expression had begun
to crack. Just a little. There was the tiniest tug at the corner of
"ER was full that night so we didn't have spare nurses, and here I
was, almost six feet tall, but I couldn't keep this little thing from
getting away from me. I swear, she was Mighty Mouse!"
The tug turned into a grin
"*Then*," Jean went on, "she ran *right out* into the waiting room --
still wearing those bloody clothes! I don't know what she thought
she was doing -- looking for her mother, she said. But it was nuts.
I felt more like an air traffic controller than a physician!"
And that succeeded in startling a laugh out of him.
"I thought I was an utter failure. But I found out later from the
nurses that it was a crazy situation, and I was just inexperienced,
not incompetent. No doubt someone with more familiarity could have
controlled her better, but it was the situation -- not me." She eyed
him. "It's the situation, Scott. You teach just fine and you know
it. How long have you been tutoring?"
"That's not in front of a classroom --"
"Phoo!" She flicked her fingers away from her, dismissing his
objection. "I've seen you on stage. You're an excellent front man,
and I also know you're a good math tutor. But Scott, a person just
can't teach five classes at once!"
"The professor can."
"The *professor* is *telepathic*. He can carry on two different
conversations at once -- or did you forget that?"
Scott sat up a little. "Oh. Yeah," he said.
"Oh, yeah," she echoed, then winked. "As for the clothes, they're
very New England, Mr. Summers. But you already looked like a math
teacher to me."
He glanced down at himself, pinching the fabric of the oxford. "At
least they make me seem a bit more . . . professional." *And older*,
she heard him think, but not say aloud. And it was true. No longer
so indisputably ephebic, he could have passed for his middle
twenties. She rather liked that, and felt guilty for liking it.
The next evening, two days after he'd begun teaching and a week after
she'd come back to herself, Scott arrived in the sub-basement for
their usual evening visit after supper, guitar case tow. She let him
in and he leaned up against the wall, head back against the metal,
case propped in front of him and forearms crossed over the headstock,
watching her. She could feel his gaze, even if she couldn’t see it.
"What?" she asked, mildly irritated by the force of his regard.
"Go out with me."
She rolled her eyes. "I told you no already."
"And I told you I'd ask in a week."
"Fine, you asked. The answer is still 'no,' and it will continue to
"For how long?"
Embarrassed, she looked away. "A while." But even as she said it,
she doubted. It was easy to make declarations, harder to keep them
-- especially when she clung so to his company. He was her rock, her
redwood, her friend. She needed him. She wanted him, too, and she
was reminded of Clarice's reproach, two months prior. What game was
she playing, and when would it end? "A while, but not forever," she
amended now. "I just . . . You're *twenty-two*, Scott."
His face turned bitter. "And when I'm twenty-three, I'll magically
cease to be jailbait?"
"You're not *jailbait* now -- "
"Then stop acting like I am."
"It's not that simple -- "
"Yes it is! Why do you make such a big fucking deal out of it? I
know how you feel. You know I know. And you know how *I* feel!
This is stupid! What are you waiting for?"
And he'd stalked back out of the room, would probably have slammed
the door if the pneumatics had permitted it. She'd hugged herself
and leaned into the wall where he'd been, wondering if he'd punish
her by not returning, but the next day, there he was as usual, with
his guitar. He sang her Simon and Garfunkle's "Bridge Over Troubled
Waters" as a veiled apology and they both acted as if nothing
untoward had happened.
When you're down and out, when you're on the street,
When evening falls so hard, I will comfort you.
I'll take your part, when darkness comes,
And pain is all around,
Like a bridge over troubled waters, I will lay me down ...
He was, once again, just her friend. But his parting question of the
night before echoed silently between them. What *was* she waiting
*Please come down to the sub-basement when you have a moment,* echoed
through Scott's skull, halting his explanation of fractions in
mid-sentence. *Jean has something to show you.* It was the
professor's telepathic voice, and Scott shook his head a little,
mumbled, "Sorry," to the class of younger students, and tried to
remember where he'd been.
As per Frank's sensible suggestion, seconded by Jean, Scott and Henry
had split up the school enrollment; it made teaching less of a trial,
even if it lengthened Scott's day. He supposed he should get used to
it: this was what he'd be doing for the rest of his life, or at
least the next several years. The thought was sobering, and the road
to his future no longer stretched into a horizon of potential, or
even an adventure of ancient sites and romantic digs (and grant
proposals and academic papers given before fractious colleagues). He
was a high school math teacher, and that was that. There were worse
fates, he supposed, and part of growing up was learning that
sometimes one had to settle. He wouldn't have done anything
differently in the choices that had led him here, so regrets seemed
When he released his students for lunch, he headed below. The steel
halls were empty, and his steps echoed. The professor must still be
in the Danger Room with Jean, he thought. Every time Scott saw her,
she seemed stronger, more centered, more like the woman he
remembered. Given how psychotic she'd been when he'd first seen her
two weeks before, her recovery was nothing short of remarkable, and
the only reason she'd remained isolated in the sub-basement had been
her inability to fully shield.
But now when Scott keyed the door to the Danger Room and entered, he
felt nothing, or at least, no sudden fire-rush of Jean's thoughts
into his like he'd come to expect. It was as if he faced . . .
anyone . . . and he was struck by relief for her, and sadness, for
himself. He missed her touch.
Except, except . . . There was still a small warmth, a feather
brush. She wasn't entirely gone.
He smiled at her. "Wow," he said. "Shields. You did it."
But her face showed irritation rather than triumph, and both hands
were raised to her temples as she sat on her bed. Scott glanced to
Xavier, seated not far away. He, too, was frowning. "I can't do
it!" she said, voice angry. "I can still . . . *feel* him."
"Like a tickle," Scott agreed. "Yeah, I feel it, too." *I like it*,
he sent to her privately.
She looked up at him. "It shouldn't be there!" she said aloud.
And Xavier sighed, their words only confirming what he'd suspected
for two weeks but had hoped was an exaggerated misgiving. "I fear
what the two of you sense is a permanent bond."
"A . . . what?" Scott asked, not liking how Xavier had phrased that.
Jean seemed merely stunned. "But I didn't mean to -- "
"Of course not," Xavier interrupted, though in truth, he thought a
subconscious part of her *had* meant to. "Nonetheless, it exists --
the residue of that first encounter when Scott returned, I suspect.
Apparently, you established it while using Scott's memories to
Jean looked at Scott. Scott looked at Jean. Both wanted it, and
were afraid to admit it, yet both also feared it. They said nothing
for several long minutes and Xavier watched the play of emotions
across their faces, not needing to read their minds to follow the
spiral of their thoughts. "It can be broken," Xavier said -- offered
"No," Scott answered on the instant, then stuttered, "Ah, well, I
mean -- what does it do? Shouldn't we know that first?" He couldn't
look at Jean now; his face was flaming.
"It doesn't *do* anything, Scott. It's a psychic link that connects
you, allowing you to be aware of Jean's presence, and her of yours."
*We can use it to talk*, Jean sent silently into his head.
*You'll always know what I'm thinking?*
*No. I don't know what you're thinking now. But I can . . . feel
*And I feel you. Do you like it?* It was an impulsive question that
he regretted as soon as he asked. But he also needed an answer.
She didn't reply immediately, finally dropped her eyes. *Yes. I
think . . . yes.*
*Me, too. I've gotten used to coming here, feeling your mind. I'd
regret it if I didn't have that.*
*But when I get out, it'll always be between us, Scott. Every minute
of every hour of every day --*
She sighed, exasperated. *It'd take something like the Danger Room
or Cerebro to shield me. And even then -- I don't think . . . Or
rather, now that I consider it, I _have_ felt you in my head since
the very beginning. You're never entirely gone; you're like the
earth under my feet.*
He smiled faintly. *Then it wouldn't be a good idea to lose your
footing, would it?*
She still didn't look at him. *This would be between us all the
time. Do you understand that?*
*I understand it fine. The question is -- do you want it? If you
don't, then let's break it.*
She did look up at him then, and something heated in her dark eyes
set his belly on fire. She spoke to Xavier, not him. "I'd think
we'd like to keep it."
"Very well," the professor replied, but both could tell he wasn't
entirely pleased. "Shall we try the shields with someone else?
Henry perhaps? Or Frank?"
"All right. With Henry or Frank," she replied, but she still wasn't
looking at Xavier.
*It'll be there forever?* Scott sent to her.
*It'll be there forever. Until one of us breaks it, or one of us
And he hadn't been able to keep the stupid grin off his face, even
when Xavier had sent him up to fetch someone new. It wasn't until
much later, alone in his room and cut off from her, that he
reconsidered the wisdom of his choice and had second thoughts. And
when, two days later, Jean finally emerged from the sub-basement for
limited periods in limited company, Scott got the first taste of what
she meant by *constant presence*.
Oddly, though, it eased his doubts. It wasn't intrusive -- more like
background noise, soft, and comforting really, and if he turned his
attention to it, he always knew where she was. He came to think of
it as his own personal Jean compass.
"We can never play hide-and-seek together," he told her, leaning up
against the jamb of the rec room door. She was pressed back against
the door on the other side, as if his physical presence were a force
as strong at repelling her as the link was at tying them together.
They were being watched by some of the younger students, as if they
were better entertainment than the movie on the TV, but they tried to
pretend they didn't know, or that it didn't curtail their
*I don't think we're very good at hide-and-seek, in any case. Ro
told me there's a bet on,* she sent.
*Yeah, I know.*
*I cannot _believe_ that! They're going to be waiting a damn long
time to collect.*
Scott just smirked, eyes half-lidded with speculation behind his
glasses. For four weeks now, he'd asked her every Sunday night to go
out with him, like clockwork. And every Sunday, she'd turned him
down. After the first time, he'd quit taking it so personally, had
decided simply to wear her down because whatever she said, whatever
she did, he was convinced her self-imposed moratorium wouldn't last
out the summer, not the way their bodies drew each other with a
magnet-pull. She stayed so far away because if she came any closer,
they'd snap together, permanent and inseparable. Even now, pressed
into the door, her hips gave her away, tilted in his direction like
an invitation, and her eyes were on his mouth, not his glasses.
"I hear you've been working on one of the old motorbikes in the
"Yeah. A Harley 1960 Panhead. You want to go see it?"
They headed out down the mansion's main hall, walking apart but their
steps in unison; the banks of windows to their right gave back their
reflection against the evening darkness beyond. It was late, and he
knew she was tired, so he took her away from the others. She still
slept in the Danger Room at night, to shore up her shields during her
unconscious hours, but after a month, she was able to spend most of a
day above ground, and was already agitating to return to her
residency. "My sick leave won't last much longer," she said. "I'm
not throwing away years of school just for *this*. I'm not that
weak, dammit!" Scott understood her restlessness, and her anxiety --
and her pride -- but he worried. He didn't think her ready to return
to the pressure cooker of residency.
In the garage, they were alone at last, but it put neither of them
more at ease. He spoke too fast, using technical terms that lost her
within minutes, but she wasn't listening anyway. Mechanics bored
her. Instead, she watched him talk, and the light play over his
hair, and the fabric of his shirt pull across broad shoulders as he
pointed to this or that. At one point, she leaned in, feigning
interest, just as he turned to look at her. They were so close, she
could feel his breath on the skin of her face. He smelled like the
beef and gravy they'd had at dinner, and she started to giggle but it
died on her lips.
Time stretched. He could *feel* her heartbeat, fast as the wings of
a hummingbird where it beat against the bars of her ribcage. He bent
even closer. She didn't pull away. Tilting his head ever so
slightly, he let his mouth barely brush her own. His belly shook.
She jerked back, dark eyes wide. She wanted to stay; she wanted to
flee, and after another second in which he grasped fully that he'd
moved too fast, she gave in to the latter desire and ran from the
garage. The door fell shut behind her.
"*Dammit!*" he snarled, kicking his work stool halfway across the
For three days, she avoided him, and he was too embarrassed to corner
her. The time for his weekly suit came and went without him making
it, and the morning after, Monday, she took her first trip back to
the hospital where it had all begun, the professor along, just in
case. But nothing calamitous happened; her shields had grown strong,
like a Tupperware lid on her thoughts, keeping them unspoilt. People
who knew her asked cautiously how she was, as if afraid she might
shatter, and she, ashamed, wasn't sure what to say. "Fine," she
replied. "I'm fine now."
There were harder questions from the director of the residency
program, but finally, her return was secured. The very next week,
she'd restart rotations, and she was, she knew, very fortunate.
Other residents' careers had miscarried for less, and mindful of
grace, she set herself to prepare, which meant not thinking about a
certain brown-haired boy with hidden eyes and a devastating smile.
Besides, what medical resident had time for a love life?
So their dance of avoidance continued -- quite a feat in the small
company of the mansion -- but the morning of her first day back, she
woke at an ungodly hour, dressed, and descended to the kitchen to
grab coffee . . . only to find Scott making her breakfast. She
didn't really have time to eat, but was touched -- Scott Summers
rising before the sun to cook for her. He seemed to realize her
hurry. Slapping her eggs on a bagel along with three pieces of
bacon, he slipped it in a baggie and held it out. "A McSummers
That made her smile. "Thanks." She accepted the offer and all it
implied, along with a travel mug of coffee fixed with cream and sugar
the way she liked it, though he'd told her often enough that she'd
fallen from the True Faith, contaminating the black bean with foreign
substances. Now, she gave him another smile and, impulsively, set
down everything to hug him, and maybe that was a mistake but she
really didn't care. He hugged her back. It was the first time
they'd touched so close, body-to-body, since the day he'd returned,
and something healed. He kissed her hair and let her go. He didn't
need to say, "I love you." The breakfast had said that. And she
didn't need to say it, either. He could read it in her eyes.
Then she was out the door, wondering to herself -- yet again -- what
game they were playing and how much longer she could keep it up, how
much longer she wanted to keep it up. Not long, she decided, and to
hell with bets or what the rest thought.
Continued directly in Part 17c.....
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Continued directly from Part 17b .....
"Man, I am going out of my fucking *mind*!"
"Whoa, Slim-boy. Crank down the decibel level -- what's the
"I love her. She loves me -- "
"Sure of ourselves, aren't we?"
"It's the telepathy, okay? I'm not guessing -- I *know*, dammit."
"Okay -- sorry. So what's the problem?"
"She refuses to go out with me!"
"Because I'm twenty-fucking-two!"
There was a pause on EJ's end and Scott adjusted the phone on his
shoulder as he flipped over another stack of math homework. "The age
gap won't go away just for you wishing it, man," EJ said finally.
Scott turned his red pen end over end and stared out the window of
the little office the professor had given him on the mansion's second
floor. There were storm clouds on the horizon. "You've never really
thought Jean and I were a good idea."
"I ain't gonna dictate your life. I ain't there; I don't know. I
saw you guys together maybe a week."
"The professor doesn't approve, either."
"I'm sure he just wants what's best for you." And EJ was talking
about himself as much as about Xavier, Scott knew. "I just don't
want to see you hurt."
"I know," Scott said. "But . . . I can't explain it, Eeej. I need
her; she needs me. Waiting a few more months, or even a few more
*years* -- it's not going to change a damn thing. This feels . . .
fated, or something."
"I don't believe in fate, Slim. But I believe in love. Maybe you
just need to get her out of the mansion -- go somewhere it's just the
two of you, and talk."
"I tried that! She keeps saying 'no'!"
"Not on a date, dope. Just . . . meet her somewhere. Go out as
Scott thought about that, rocking his head back and forth to crack
his neck. "Okay." It wasn't a bad idea.
"Just remember it's not a war, man. Love's about partnership. If
it's real, then it'll happen. Let it go -- trust it."
"Always the freakin' cynic. And hey, you could always try singing to
her under her window at midnight."
Scott burst out laughing. "I'll keep that in mind."
May was past its midpoint. Trees had flowered, leaves were out in
full, bulbs had bloomed and were dying away, and the heat had crept
up towards summer temperatures on more than one afternoon. Jean wore
a tan, calico-print dress under her white lab coat, and it was humid
enough to make her damp beneath the arms and down her back. Her
stethoscope hung at rest over the back of her neck as she headed out
to the staff parking lot, another day over and she'd held herself
together again. 'One day at a time,' clichéd or not, had been her
motto since she'd returned to her residency two weeks before.
Fortunately for her, she was doing internal med this rotation.
Approaching her car, she thumbed off the alarm. It made a happy
chirp and she opened the door, slipping inside. Her faithful Toyota
Camry. She could have taken one of the mansion cars, but this was
hers, even if it did have 76,000 miles on it, and the imprint of
Scott (repaired) on the hood. Could one be accused of nostalgia
about a car because of an accident?
She looked forward to dinner, and was thinking more on food than the
even-slower-than-usual traffic -- the drive to and from Columbia
Presbyterian was made on autopilot by now -- when the whole car
suddenly *lurched* forward. If not enough to give her whiplash, it
was enough to make her whole body weak from the adrenaline of shock.
Glancing in her rearview mirror, she caught sight of a guy on a
motorbike. "Dammit!" He'd rear-ended her, and now they were
stopping traffic on the West Side Highway at rush hour. Furious, she
snapped on hazard lights, opened the door (carefully) and got out as
cars zipped past in the other lane. More than one honked. Stalking
back along the length of her car, she opened her mouth to give the
offender a piece of her mind, then stopped cold.
Scott was straddling the old Harley, grinning at her as he removed
his bike helmet.
"You son of a bitch!" she screamed.
"Whoa! I didn't even dent it!" he called, pointing to her rear
She got right in his face and yelled, "What the hell do you think
you're doing? You hit my car!"
"I had to get your attention somehow."
"You hit my car to get my attention?"
"It worked once before."
Jean gestured at the heavy traffic and the line of cars backed up
behind Scott. A middle-aged man in a red Accord was making rude
gestures at both them and the cabbie who'd just cut him off from
pulling out around them. "Did it never occur to you that a *phone
call* might be better than hitting my car during rush hour?"
He shrugged, managing to look both sheepish and cocksure at once. "I
wanted to surprise you at work, but I didn't get done with class
until after four, and by the time I got here, you were already gone.
So I chased you out to the parking lot, but you were already leaving,
so I grabbed the bike . . . "
"And hit my car?"
He shrugged again. "You want to go get something to eat?"
She made fists at her sides and stamped her foot, frustrated beyond
bearing. "You're impossible! I told you I wasn't going to go out
"It's not a date!" he shot back, holding up two fingers. "Just two
friends. You were the one who kept telling me you weren't dating
Warren -- it was just two friends hanging out together. Okay, fine.
Just two friends -- you and me. Now can we please go get something
to eat? I'm starving."
She wanted to tell him to take a flying leap off the George
Washington Bridge, but couldn't, quite, and if they didn't move and
quit blocking the lane, they were likely to become the victims of
someone's road rage. So throwing up hands she said, "Fine! 93rd and
Amsterdam. East side, Purple awning. I'll meet you there." And she
got back in her car, starting the engine just in time to see Scott
zoom past on the bike. "Crazy bastard," she muttered, following.
And smiling. Just a little.
They met at the entrance to Coffee-a-Go-Go. "Is that name for real?"
he asked, thumbing up at the sign above the purple fabric over the
door. "It sounds like something out of the '60s."
"It is something out of the '60s," she replied. "It used to be a
local hangout for the Kerouac and Ferlinghetti wannabes. Now, it's
just a diner with good coffee and cool decor." She opened the door
and gestured him through. With scratched formica tables under chrome
lights, (old original) lava lamps, and Dali art on the walls, the
place was decidedly prosaic compared to its slickly urbane and
upwardly mobile commercial neighbors, here south of 110th -- a
stubborn hold-out of an earlier era. Scott liked it instantly, and
liked it even better when the hamburger he ordered was suitably
greasy and the fries over-salted. Jean rolled her eyes. "Eating
like that, you're going to die of a heart-attack before you're
sixty," she warned. He grinned at her in wordless reply.
They talked of inconsequentials and Beat poetry; he confessed that
he'd owned a copy of ON THE ROAD since his sophomore year of college
but had never actually read it. She called it "overrated." He said
he wouldn't know; literary analysis wasn't his thing. She teased him
about his fondness for science fiction, and he replied that he liked
what he liked. They played three games of checkers while they drank
a pot of coffee. He won all three. She stuck her tongue out at him.
It was eight o'clock by the time they left, exiting into the swirl of
evening pedestrian traffic. They made their way north, up Amsterdam,
by common, unspoken agreement. There were more shops on Broadway,
but if window-shopping were their excuse, it wasn't their real
interest. He slung one arm around her shoulders and she put hers
about his waist in chummy fashion. The May evening air felt cool on
her legs and blew his hair back from his face. He had a cowlick on
one side, near the part, and she wondered why she'd never really
No one looked at them twice. No one offered a disapproving stare.
They were utterly unremarkable, one more young pair amid the human
sea, and there were far more colorful fish than they.
So they walked. At 112th across from the massive, sprawling, gothic
Cathedral of St. John the Divine (impressive despite the construction
scaffolding), she dragged him off west in the direction of Broadway.
"I want to visit Labyrinth Books. Come on; you'll love it."
Obediently, he followed.
The store was cramped and plain, and most of the stock was upstairs
on bookshelves of metal, not wood; there were no seats for lounging,
and books had been crammed everywhere one turned -- serious books,
academic books. He lost himself in front of the archaeology section,
thumbing through texts by Dean Snow on the Iroquois. She gravitated
to the medical section, but after a while, edged back as if pulled by
a magnet. He didn't look up at her, but he was aware of her; she
could feel the slight shift of his mind even while he flipped through
a massive coffee-table book on the Aztecs. "Utter crap," he muttered
and put the book back. Pretending to study the shelves, she moved up
closer until the light calico cotton dress skirt brushed the back of
An electric thrill ran all through him and he held his breath. She
moved even closer, turning slightly, just so. Their fingers brushed.
He moved his hand, caught her pinky with his. She didn't jerk away;
instead, she slid her palm into his. He was staring at the spines of
books but not seeing a one, even while he was hyperaware of
everything else around them -- the musty stink common to bookstores,
the argument of a pair of friends a little further down the aisle,
the tinkle of someone's keys and the scrape of feet as another
shuffled along. For the longest time, he and Jean held as still as
statues, then he moved his hand again, just a little, just enough to
lace their fingers. She let him.
It was magic, scintillating and extraordinary.
He knew he was grinning like a fool but couldn't stop, and felt
excited heat flush in his face. Such a small thing, such a silly
thing, on the face of it; he felt as if he were back in high school
where walking arm in arm might be explained away, attributed to
friendship -- but not this, not the lacing of fingers. This was
intimate. This was for going steady. They said nothing but
continued to stand there, hands entwined, until finally she spoke
softly. "You want to head back?"
"I guess we should."
So they went out, still holding hands, and he didn't want to break
that contact, was afraid to, was afraid that if he did, even to get
the door, she might not let him have her hand back -- or he might not
find the courage to take it. He was very glad of the long return
walk, at least a mile of heaven, and passing by the front of the
stone cathedral under the rose window, if he'd heard angels sing,
he'd probably have believed it.
Jean was just as giddy, her world in freefall, terrifying and
wonderful at once. She didn't want it to end, and kept smiling over
at him. He smiled back. Somewhere around 100th street, they shifted
back to strolling arm in arm, but this wasn't the same as the walk up
had been, with space between their bodies and a perfunctory hold.
Now his arm curled around her snugly and her fingers slid just inside
the waistband of his slacks, gripping his side. He was solid against
her, and it made walking difficult, but she didn't care. They simply
ambled more slowly.
He took her as far as her car in the parking garage. His bike was up
one floor and over. At the driver's side door, they paused and he,
reluctantly, let her go, stepping back. It was all different, all
changed. Just as in Oakland, or in the mansion garage a few weeks
back, they stood inches apart, staring at mouths. She wondered if
he'd kiss her; she wanted him to, and swayed a little nearer to brush
his lips with hers in invitation.
He turned his face away. It was the last thing she'd expected, and
surprised her so much, she rocked back on her heels, mouth open.
But his expression was more puckish than piqued. "I thought it was
customary to get a kiss after the first *date*," he said, one corner
of his mouth quirking up. "This wasn't a *date*. You made that
pretty clear back on West Side Highway."
Her mouth opened wider but nothing came out. She must have looked
like a beached fish.
"I'll see you back at the mansion." And turning on his heel, he
strode away -- or *sauntered*, really, hands in pockets. He held all
the aces this time and knew it, and if she were miffed, she was also
suitably chastised. She'd wanted to have her cake and eat it, too --
and not deal with the calories. But that wasn't fair.
"Well, why don't you try asking me for a date!" she called after him.
Pausing, he turned to glance at her, and positively smirked. Ooo,
she thought -- the *arrogance* of the man! "Maybe I will," he
replied, then walked on, whistling.
It wasn't until she was halfway back to the mansion that it dawned on
her that he'd been whistling the bugle charge.
Special thanks to David for giving me the idea to use Coffee-a-Go-Go,
and to Domenika and Naomi for NYC tutoring. ;>
Do you Yahoo!?
The New Yahoo! Search - Faster. Easier. Bingo.
Title: Liar's Poker
Author: Victoria P. [victoria_p@...]
Summary: "She opens her arms and he falls into them, falls into her. She
is the ocean that will drown him, pulling him down with her love and her
Disclaimer: All X-Men characters belong to Marvel and Fox; this piece of
fan-written fiction intends no infringement on any copyrights.
Archive: Lists, Muse's Fool.
Feedback: All kinds accepted.
Notes: Thanks to Jen, Pete/Melissa, Dot, and Meg. And thanks to DD for
the beta and the encouragement.
He never should have touched her that last time, but seeing her in pain
hurts him, causes him pain in ways his own wounds never do.
He woke in the med lab to her eyes, shining with love and desire for
He left that afternoon.
When he came back the next time, he stayed for a month before his need
for her became overwhelming and he had to leave before he acted on it.
He's been back for three weeks this time, and he's already ready to
He can't take it.
He sees her watching him, knows that she knows, now, what he wants to do
with her. And he's closer to breaking down and giving in than he's ever
He keeps his face neutral, ignores her at dinner, but he should have
known that wouldn't faze her.
She has a natural optimism, a belief in people that even extra doses of
his cynicism can't quell. She believes in him, and that hurts, because
he believes he's done nothing to earn it. She reminds him that he saved
her life, but he knows that was necessary only because he put her at
risk in the first place.
He goes out and finds other women, but all he can see is that they are
*not her*, and his need goes unmet, his desire unslaked, no matter how
often he couples with nameless women in dingy motel rooms and back
alleys behind dive bars in the city.
It makes him weak, and he hates his weakness. He hates himself, because
he cannot hate her. It would be so much easier if he could hate her,
make her hate him. Take the weight of her expectations and shirk it from
his shoulders, loose the yoke in which she has him bound.
He is out at a bar, another night of trying to hide from the truth, when
it hits him. There's one blonde on his lap, another with her tongue in
his ear, when he realizes he has to leave again, because neither of them
smell -- move -- sound like her, and he can't take it anymore.
Fighting, drinking, driving fast -- these no longer give him the
pleasure they once did. Everything is tainted, filtered through the lens
of his need for her.
His determination holds until he stumbles into his room. Her scent is in
the air, but he tells himself it's his imagination, that desire is
clouding his senses.
But she's there.
In his bed.
She wakes at his entrance, sits up and blinks slowly, the soft scent of
sleep, sweat and Marie wafting over him, seducing him. Her hair falls in
gentle waves over silk-covered breasts, and he closes his eyes, clenches
"Logan?" Her voice, husky with sleep, glides over his sensitive ears
He swallows hard.
"What are you doing here?" His voice is hoarse, tight with suppressed
longing and all the words he'll never say.
She shrugs and he feels his body tighten in response to the way her
breasts move with the motion. "I missed you."
"I'm here now."
She pats the spot next to her with a gloved hand. "Come to bed, Logan."
He is frozen in place. All his wishes, dreams, desires are laid before
him, his for the taking. And she wants to be taken, wants to take him,
hold him inside the honeyed cage of her body.
To her, it's love, and love conquers all. She doesn't see that he's
soiled and in need of redemption; she somehow manages to want him as he
is, rather than as he could be, and that's new for him. He believes she
can redeem him, on the rare occasions he believes he can be redeemed. He
wants to believe so badly sometimes.
And tonight, he does.
He stands upon the blade of a knife, thin and sharp and double-sided as
one of his claws, and far more capable of cutting out his heart.
And as easily as that, she has him.
He moves forward purposefully; once the decision is made, once he's
allowed himself to have what he wants, he won't waver, he won't regret.
All that will come tomorrow.
"We're not going to be sleeping." He forces the words out, his voice
still rough and strange. It is the last out he will give her.
Her smile is pure and wicked, knowing and innocent all at once, a
woman's smile for her lover. "I know."
She opens her arms and he falls into them, falls into her. She is the
ocean that will drown him, pulling him down with her love and her hope.
His hands are already moving over her, impatient, the consummation of
which he's dreamed suddenly real – soft flesh over taut muscle, warm and
pliant under his hands.
"God, Marie." A whispered prayer as he lays her back, rubs his face
against her silk-covered breasts, the slight curve of her belly, her
strong thighs. She touches him, and there's no hesitation in her at all.
She doesn't know, she *can't* know that this is wrong, that he will be
punished for it, that she will hate him in the end.
He pushes those thoughts away. He also knows that this was inevitable.
From the first time their eyes slid away from each other in the bar,
this moment has been looming, shadowing their every interaction. He
fought it for as long as he could, but he has no strength left to fight
He covers himself in her scent, breathing her in and knowing he will
never forget this, as long as he lives, and even after he's died, the
scent of vanilla and sweat and Marie --
"God, Logan!" she echoes his words as his hands find the heat between
her legs. She burns him even through the thin cotton of her panties, and
it's enough -- he can forget that this is wrong, that he can't touch
her, that he *shouldn't* touch her, when the evidence of her desire is
He breathes against her already peaked nipples. "Let me--" he begs, a
supplicant worshipping at her altar, this goddess of love and hope and
salvation, more real and merciful than any goddess he's ever heard of.
She smiles again, eyes dark with desire, and fire rushes in his veins
because he makes her look that way, he makes her body twist with want,
makes her lips form his name. He suckles at one full breast, then the
other, and she arches into him, panting. Her wordless cries of pleasure,
the feel of her fingers clutching his shoulders, spur him on. He
convinces himself he does it for her.
"For you, baby, all for you," he murmurs, eyes feasting on her
reactions -- she is wanton and free, and she is his, and he, hers, for
all that he'll try to deny it later.
She comes hard against his hand, her head thrashing against the pillows,
her body arched and curved like a violin, her voice making music that
only he has ever heard.
While she is still shuddering, gasping for breath, he pushes her knees
wide. She meets his eyes boldly -- no fear now, just desire and joy in
her gaze, in her scent, in her body -- and smiles again. She unzips his
jeans, and he draws a long, shuddering breath as her silk-clad thumb
flicks over him.
He fumbles in the drawer for a condom, aware that his desire to feel
her, skin-on-skin, will be the death of him. Yet he considers it for a
moment, selfishly. The foil packet is in his hand, then the condom is
on -- later, he will remember this in flashes, wondering how he got from
point A to point B, but for now, he feels nothing but the blinding need
to slide into her warmth.
Pushing aside the material of her panties, counting on his jeans to
protect him, he sheathes himself in her in one long stroke. Her eyes go
wide, her body tenses, and he realizes that this is her first time, and
he's already screwed it up.
He stills, buries his face in the crook of her neck, and whispers, "It's
okay, baby. It's going to be okay."
"Promise?" she asks, but this time, he can't give her the words. He
pulls out and slides into her again slowly, letting her feel every inch
of him. The words form unbidden in his mind, though he swears he will
never speak them. 'With my body, I thee worship.'
She is silk and velvet to his adamantium and flesh, and she grips him
tightly, matching his rhythm. She bares her throat to him, and he nips
at it, the flutter of her pulse attracting his attention. His lips brush
her skin for a second -- once, twice, three times -- and he's found the
secret to touching her. Butterfly kisses on deadly gossamer skin.
He's working almost solely on instinct now. His body knows this is
right, and won't let his mind get in the way. It begins low in his
belly, the slow, spiral build of release, uncurling like a snake. The
only time he can leave his body behind and be free. His hips piston into
hers; his elbows bear his weight as his hands tangle in her hair, and he
raises her face so her eyes meet his.
He doesn't speak when he comes. He growls low, and she tightens her
muscles around him, pulling him in deeper. He never wants to leave. He
wants to fall into her completely, body and soul, and he knows that she
is the one woman capable of taking all of him in.
He's floating back down to earth, the world making itself known to him
again when she convulses around him, her hand finishing the job he
He takes that hand, brings it to his mouth and licks each silk-clad
finger slowly, memorizing her taste, the flavor of their love, salty and
real and inevitable.
She licks her lips and he again risks the danger of losing himself in
her by brushing his mouth over her cheek, her nose, her lips, quickly
and carefully. He knows that in all the ways that matter, he is already
lost. She owns him more completely than ever, and he begins to hate
himself for giving in when he knows it's wrong.
He has never been a cuddler, never spent the night sleeping with a woman
in his bed, but he gathers her to his chest as she drifts off, content.
When she rolls over, he's already gone.
She stretches, feeling the soreness between her legs, luxuriating in it,
knowing that he's bound to her even more closely now.
She understands his fear, his ambivalence, the way honor and desire war
within him. She is sure that love -- his love for her -- will overcome
all the obstacles he places in their way.
He's touched her and she knows him.
The first time, she initiated the contact, an attempt to save her life
using his healing power. She learned his fears and hopes, his desire to
die, transmuted at the moment of her touch, into the desire to live.
The second time is a rush of white light -- his love, pure and
blinding -- his willingness to sacrifice himself for her. Other people
talk about death as a white light. For Rogue, the light of the machine
was death, yes, but the light of Logan's love is what brought her back.
To others, the white streaks in her hair are reminders of failure, pain,
loss. To Rogue, they are a symbol of the dazzling flare of love Logan
poured into her, a visible reminder of how much he really cares.
The third time... She shivers in delight whenever she thinks of it. The
third time he touched her, the love was there, and the desire to live,
and the love and desire came together in sheer, animal *need*.
He willed her to heal because he needs her. Wants her. Loves her.
And it scares him to death.
She knows he's been dreaming of her -- her body, her kisses, her
scent -- and she also knows that he believes it's wrong, he's wrong.
And he is.
Not in the way he believes. No. He thinks he's wrong *for her.* But
that's not it. He's wrong to deny what is between them -- the connection
that even death hasn't been able to sever. In fact, their bond has been
cemented by her death, and his willingness to follow her into its shadow
and bring her back.
But he only sees the shame -- the difference in their ages, experiences,
backgrounds. He sees himself as nothing, no one, going nowhere.
She sees that together they can make a future that will eclipse his lost
past and her troubled one. They fit together in ways that she never
expected, never even hoped for. And so she is willing to wait.
Now that he's tasted her, she knows that he won't stay away for long.
His hunger for her is wild and fierce, and she will use that to her
She's learned much from him over the past few years; it is her turn to
be the hunter, and his, the prey. And patience is the key to hunting.
She will wait him out, until he sees that his place is at her side. She
pushes down the fear and doubt, tells herself that he is addicted to
her, as she is addicted to his touch. He looks at her like a drowning
man eyes a life preserver, and eventually, he will realize that it is
only together that they can have a life. Alone, they can survive --
they've both made an art of that -- but together they can live, with all
the attendant joys and sorrows.
She wants that so badly she can taste it amid the salty, sweaty flavor
the night's lovemaking has left in her mouth.
The first days afterward pass in a blur. He stays away and she lets him
have his space. She knows he needs the time to acclimate to the change
in their relationship.
When a week passes, and they've done nothing but brush by each other in
the hall, with hellos mumbled and eyes averted, she knows she must take
She goes to him again.
She learned after the very first night years ago not to startle him
awake, so she calls softly to him, edging her way into the room, hoping
her voice and scent will rouse him.
And so they do.
He opens his eyes and she moves quickly; before he can protest, she's in
bed with him. She fits against him perfectly, and after several minutes
of heated kisses and caresses, she slides down his body. Using a sheer
scarf to protect him, she lets her lips speak with kisses instead of
words. She takes him in her mouth and he groans.
She's inexperienced, but with his memories to guide her, she is able to
bring him to climax quickly, probably more quickly than he'd like, she
realizes. He growls but she has no fear. He moves, makes to sit up, and
she pushes him down, gloved hands on bare shoulders. She straddles him,
grinding herself against him as she reaches into the night table drawer
for a condom. With fumbling fingers she manages to get it on him, and
then she lowers herself onto him.
He watches her, and she can see love and fear in his eyes. She moves
slowly, rolling her hips in a way that gives her as much pleasure as it
does him, and she whispers to him of her love, their love. But the fear
never does leave his eyes.
His hands steal to her hips, warm through the sheer silk of her
body-stocking, guiding her rhythm, and she begins to lose control,
shivering, shaking with pleasure as he thrusts deep inside her. She
cries out his name as she comes, a fierce, echoing shout torn from the
depth of her being, and her eyes never leave his as his hands tighten to
bruising on her body.
He growls his release and she strokes his chest with sated languor. She
wants to hold him, protect him from all that haunts his nightmares, but
he turns his back to her as they fall asleep, She nestles against him,
content that come the morning, things will be better.
He wakes to the feel of her pressed against his back, and he has to
stifle a groan.
All that work, all that successful avoidance, and he's back where he
started, in bed with Marie.
In love with--
He refuses to even think it, let alone say it, regardless of her words
to him last night. He has never believed in declarations of love during
sex, and even though he can smell -- hear -- taste -- *feel* the
difference this time, he clings stubbornly to his false beliefs
She burrows in closer to him, and he wonders if she can sense his
withdrawal, though he hasn't yet moved.
That scares him even more than the way his body relaxes into hers when
he's not paying attention.
For as long as he can remember, he has lived by his instincts, trusted
them to keep him whole and sane when everything else was going wrong,
but at this he finally rebels.
With ferocious momentum, he launches himself from the bed and stalks to
He washes her scent -- their scent, mingled and intoxicating -- off his
body, determined, like the heroine of an old movie musical, to wash away
his feelings as well.
She's stirring as he dresses and it takes all of his will to leave the
room before she wakes.
He scowls as he makes his way down to the garage. His room, and she's
driven him from it. He holds fiercely to this anger, lets it simmer and
adds to it other slights (real or imagined) he can lay at her feet --
her way of making him feel awkward and inexperienced and *soft* in her
presence, his desire to curl up with her and never be with another woman
again, the knowledge that he can never ever be good enough for the love
he sees in her eyes...
He never cared about these things before, and he'll be damned to hell
before he starts now.
He guns the motor on the bike and tears down the driveway as if all the
devils in that hell are after him, and he doesn't come back for three
They fall into a pattern.
Avoidance and then combustion. They spend the days separate, in pain,
and come together at night; she heals him in ways his mutation never can
or will, and then she breaks him again, and he returns the favor.
He can't live like this much longer, and he knows it must be tearing her
up inside as well, but he can't give in.
His behavior during the day deteriorates. Two of the girls leave his
class in tears, and when she confronts him about it, he is rude to her,
His words are always carefully chosen. He knows her weak spots, and how
to hit where it hurts.
"Was it necessary to scare them like that?" she asks, and though her
tone is mild, he can feel the reproach; it echoes the one inside his
head. The children haven't harmed him in any way, though they're yet
more evidence of his becoming far too comfortable in the role of
He stops as his thoughts, as always, circle back to her.
"What do you know about it, kid?" he responds, and the word, formerly an
endearment, is a curse in his mouth. "You stick to teaching Shakespeare
and leave the fighting to me. You're useless in combat." A lie, and a
reflection on his own abilities more than hers if true, but he doesn't
care. He just needs to lash out.
She nods, accepting as always. "Yes, but--"
He walks away before she can finish. As he works to make her hate him,
he hates himself more and more, that her love for him will make her
accept the meanness he deals out.
He wonders how long she will put up with this split in his personality
and is ashamed because he secretly hopes she sees through his maneuvers
and loves him anyway.
And again, he's caught in the cycle, trapped like a fly in a spider's
web. The harder he struggles against her, the tighter she binds him.
He can't stop touching her and she knows. She knows all she has to do is
slip into his bed and he's lost. He takes her hard and fast, and then
slow and hot, making her come with his name on her lips.
That's when he knows. In the dark hours of the night, he knows he can't
succeed, that he's as selfish as they all say he is, because he can't
let her go. She sleeps, sated, and he whispers to her of his love and
her beauty, and how it makes him want to howl because he can't tell her
while she's awake, because he's convinced himself it's wrong.
He touches her gently, secretly, letting her feel the things he can't
give her when she's awake. Then he falls into a deep, dreamless sleep,
thinking, 'this is what love is.'
He resolves to redouble his efforts to make her hate him in the morning,
but at night, when she is with him, he can't bring himself to do it, to
prove to her he's everything she's ever been warned about.
The fear that she'll find out and leave him gnaws at him, and he knows
he has to break it off. He's brusque and cold, insensitive to her
feelings, and yet she still returns to him at night, and he takes her,
praying she won't give up on him, the way he's given up on himself.
He knows he loves her, even if he can't say it, can't justify it.
He knows he's wrong for her, and it's tearing him up inside.
She lies awake, warmed by Logan's presence at her side in the bed. He is
with her more in sleep than awake these days, his body automatically
moving closer when his mind isn't in control.
She knows he's beating himself up over the nights they spend together,
and her patience, remarked upon by almost every adult member of the
household, is beginning to wear thin.
To the question, "How can you let him treat you like this?" she answers,
"Because I love him. And he loves me."
"How can you be so sure?" they ask, and she smiles but says nothing
more. How can she explain that she knows because she dreams it? That
while she sleeps, he lets his thoughts and feelings seep into her until
she's so aware of his love that she wants to burst.
She waits and watches and hopes, praying he'll reconcile himself to
their love, but knowing that one or the other of them will break if they
don't change the way they're living now. Soon, she'll call his bluff and
he'll have to choose: night or day, alive and together or alone and
The day comes finally when he can no longer do it.
She comes to him that night, illuminated by a flash of lightning that
throws the room into sharp relief. He sees the strain on her face, in
her body and he has had enough.
"No," he says, and he means it.
But he won't let her speak, can't let her convince him that he's made
the wrong decision. He's doing this for her, and he's leaving as fast as
his legs will carry him, away from this place, from her. From love.
He pushes past her with a growl but of course, she follows. Isn't that
what she does? Follows until he gives in? She's like the sea, wearing
away at his defenses, cutting channels into the heart he thought he'd
lost long ago.
He moves quickly and hears her rushing to keep up. He heads for the door
and out into the late summer storm which has blown up out of nowhere,
the sky turned to an early twilight by thick thunderclouds that roil
above. He spares a thought for Storm and realizes his own turmoil has
somehow infected the others in the house, that his behavior has had
consequences and implications for everyone.
He curses and stops, caught between his feelings of responsibility and
his need to flee before he ruins Rogue's life for good.
She slips on the wet grass and bangs into his back, grasping at him to
He turns and once he's sure she's standing on her own two feet, he lets
They face each other in the rain.
"I can't do this anymore, kid. You deserve better. You always have."
"I'm not a kid anymore, Logan. I'm a woman. And I'm in love with you.
Dammit, can't you see that?
"Or don't you want to see it?" she taunts, running her hands over her
body, the light summer dress she wears clinging to every curve, leaving
nothing to his imagination. Not that he needs imagination. His hands and
lips have mapped every curve and hollow -- he's spent nights on the road
reliving in technicolor detail every inch of her body.
He closes his eyes in pain, opens them again. "Marie. I see it. You're
young, beautiful." He can taste her desperation; the scent fills the
air, overpowering ozone and wet grass, belying the insouciance with
which she speaks.
She talks over him, not letting him finish. "I can't touch or be
touched. Ever. I'm learning to live with that. I'm broken." She is
almost sobbing, her bold façade finally failing, and he can feel his
"You're not broken," he growls, grabbing her shoulders and shaking her.
"I'm the one who's broken, who can never be fixed. You could have anyone
you wanted. Any man would be proud to have you."
"But I want you," she whispers, and while she may try to pass it off as
the rain, he knows those are tears streaming down her face. "Don't you
see? Alone, we're broken. Together, we're whole."
He closes his eyes again, and opens them when he feels her body press
against him. Against his will, his body responds.
"Tell me you don't love me," she challenges. "Look me in the eye and
tell me you don't love me, and I'll walk away."
He looks down at her, his eyes sliding away to focus on the trees behind
her. "I don't love you," he chokes out, his hands tightening on her
She reaches up and grabs his chin, forcing him to meet her gaze. "Liar,"
she says tenderly, and he is lost.
"There are no absolutes in life, only in vodka." Mike Kellerman,
_Homicide: Life on the Street_
The Muse's Fool - http://www.unfitforsociety.net/musesfool
We Invented the Remix...Redux - http://www.unfitforsociety.net/remix
hey everyone im new here and a big fan of the x men movies.
i can't wait till saturday to see X2 although i never read the comics
or were interested in the cartoon the movie captured me and my fav
are logan and jean grey they make a cute couple and hugh jackman is
gorgeous i look forward to reading your fic and maybe writing some
Disclaimer: Disclaimer: BTVS doesn't belong to me, it's Joss
Whendon's baby as is Angel. I don't own X-Men or the concept of
mutants that's Marvel's baby. I just own this story but I don't have
any money so sue someone else.
I'm a freak. I know just putting that out there like that seems odd
but I'm really a freak. Or as they call them now mutant, not that
mutant is very far away from freak. It really is funny how I found
out. I had been travelling for at least a month only stopping for
gas and food - I had left because they told me to go. Well they had
told me they'd kill me if I didn't go is more like it. Let's start
when this all began, shall we? I had been patrolling by myself ever
since Buffy and the gang had started to ignore me, so I would grab a
few stakes and a cross and head towards the nearest cemetery just to
prove to myself that I was worth a damn. The night started off slow
only one vamp staked and it wasn't anything more then a newbie, but
a few minutes after I staked it my luck ran out and his sire came to
play. Harmony didn't look pleased that I had staked her little boy
but why should I care? We ignore her cause well she's just so
pathetic, kind of like Spike but at least he helps. "So Harm sorry
about stakeing your newest reject...oh wait I'm not sorry." She
looked pissed and at the same time she looked like she was checking
me out which just freaked me out to no ends. She stalked nearer to
the young slayerette enjoying the looked of fear that had spread
across Xander's handsome face.
"Now why'd you have to go and stake my boyfriend like that, it
really wasn't very nice of you. I think your going to have to make
it up to me." A sickening smirk appeared on her face just as she
vamped out. //What the hells going on? She's a laughable vampire so
why's she acting super evil all of a sudden and why does she keep
looking at me like that?// Xander knowing something in the vamp
before him had changed reached for his cross only to find it
missing. //Damn, I most have lost it when I was struggling with that
vamp//. Xander nervously began to back away, "Um...so Harm how's the
vampire thing working out for you?" It really was a stupid line but
he couldn't think well right now enough to come up with anything
better. With out warning Harmony lunged for Xander and easily caught
him by the hair and slammed her fist into his face knocking him out.
She then picked up the still figure of the young man and slung him
across her shoulder and began to make her way back to her lair.
He woke up soon after to find him self tied to a large wooden
stretcher. //Serves me right, I should have taken the gang's advice
I'm a nobody with no training or super powers.// He then closed his
eyes and remembered the conversation that they had not long before
they had kicked him out. Xander stood between Willow and Buffy as
they argued about who's powers were better and what they had to do
about Adam. "Buff... Wills, there's no need to fight we all help."
That's when Buffy turned to him with a cruel smirk on her face, "How
could you ever help?" Then both Willow and Buffy had turned on him
and began to belittle him about being the one with no powers in this
Xander shut his eyes harder trying to force the memories out of his
mind but they just wouldn't go. That's when he heard footsteps, he
couldn't really see very well being tied down facing up and all but
he could make out was blond hair. //God I don't wont to hear Buff
right now, I can just hear it now. What were you thinking going
patrolling by your self or were you thinking at all? You're not the
slayer, your nobody just stay home and leave the slaying to the real
heroes and not people that just get in the way like you!//
But it wasn't Buffy that was making her way towards him it was
Harmony. "How's my 'lil Xanderbear doing, I hope I didn't hurt
you...much." Great I'm tied down with a crazied vampire cheerleader,
how much more could my life suck. She then began to slide her hands
from his legs towards his well more manly parts.
"WOW, what the hell are you doing, Harm? You should be like biting
me not feeling me up!"
She then drew her hands away from his body and viciously struck him
across the face. "Just be a good boy and everything will be ok, I
might even keep you around for seconds if you're lucky."
Xander's mind was running a mile a minute - she isn't going to do
what he thinks she is, is she? //She's going to rape me! Of all the
bad things that I've thought would happen to me if I was captured by
vampires this was not on the list!// Xander did the only thing that
came to mind, which wasn't the best idea...he spat in her face.
She was pissed and not just a little bit she was looking almost
Angelus pissed off here. "You're going to pay for that, loser! If
you had only let me have some fun I would have turned you and made
you my boytoy but oh no you had to go off and do something like spit
in my face, this is going to hurt you a hell of a lot more then it's
going to hurt me!"
She then walked away leaving Xander all alone but that didn't last
for long. She returned with what looked like his hand full of stakes
and a hammer. //Not good!// Without uttering a word she grabbed the
nearest stake and began to drive it through his right hand! She then
did the same to his left hand and his ankles, he was pinned to the
stretcher bleeding from his wounds. Xander couldn't think anymore,
after the first stake entered his flesh all he could think about was
the pain. It was excruciating, his screams filled the warehouse and
their only companion were Harmony's almost manic fits of laughter.
After Harm was done she grabbed the first stake she had driven into
him and mercilessly ripped it away. Then she witnessed the strangest
thing she'd seen in her after life, Xander's wound was healing
almost as soon as the stake left his skin. But that wasn't the only
thing that was happening all of a sudden Xander's arm broke the
restraints and grabbed Harmony by the neck and started to crush it.
Harm couldn't even let out a scream of surprise or pain as he
crushed her neck, he was even stronger then Spike had been as he
often would strangle her for the perverse pleasure of watching her
Xander's other arm as well as his legs also broke free and with one
swift move he ripped the stake from his left hand and drove it threw
Harmony's right eyelid. He then removed the other stakes still not
in control of himself, only thinking about the pain, and jumped on
Harmony ripping and shredding her apart with his hands and teeth.
His teeth had changed as well, the tip and bottom canine's had grown
larger almost as long as a vampires were. He had dusted her long
before he regained control of him self, Xander then looked down at
his hands which had completely healed then he reached into his mouth
and felt his larger sharper teeth. He did the only thing he could
have, he ran. He didn't even realize he was moving faster then he'd
ever been able to before. The night was full of sounds and smells
that he hadn't felt since he'd be controlled by that hyena spirit,
he prayed that wasn't the case this time. It couldn't be he was
still himself not some animal in a Xander suit like last time, but
he still felt different. Maybe thirty feet from him stood Riley Finn
who had heard him screaming as he did his nightly patrol. He hadn't
been in any hurry to get to him when he was screaming but he had
witnessed what Xander had done to the vampire and knew what he had
"A filthy mutant."
Riley then drew out his walkie-talkie and spoke into it, "This is
agent Finn we have a mutant sighting please send in the X-Factor,
the suspected mutant's name is Alexander Harris."
Xander didn't know what to do he just ran as fast as he could back
to his home/basement. He still didn't understand what had happened
to him or how he had gotten away from Harmony. He walked over to the
sink and looked into the mirror everything looked normal besides the
large fangs in his mouth. But that's when he felt the pain. It was
excruciating, there were no words for how much he hurt. He dropped
to the ground hard slamming his head against the hard wood floor but
that was nothing compared to the pain that was shooting through his
body. Xander could hear the bones in his body snapping and re-
knitting back together larger and stronger only to snap again in a
few moments. His muscles were twisting and tearing themselves apart
but like his bones there were also growing larger and stronger. His
body shook violently his spine twisting in a painful arc and his
arms and legs were flinging in all directions slamming into the
nearby walls and sink shattering them with the simplest smack. The
pain was so intense he had forgotten to even scream as it went on
but he soon remembers and opened his mouth but it wasn't a scream
that was released. No, it was an animalistic roar as if it had
escaped the mouth of a panther or lion.
The pain was just too intense and he soon lost consciousness. When
he woke up he felt different but didn't know just how much he was.
He raised himself until he was sitting and looked at his body, he
had thought that it would be torn apart from what ever happened to
him but it was torn but it was different...changed. His body had
become huge in size; his arms were filled with new and freakishly
large muscles. His legs were the same larger and ripped with huge
muscles, his clothing was what had ripped, as were his shoes. When
he looked down at his feet they were as unnaturally large as the
rest of his body but his toenails had become claw like and looked
sharp. He reached out to touch his changed body and that's when he
saw his hands, they too had become larger and also had claws where
his fingernails should be...he was a monster. He crawled onto his
feet and turned to look in the mirror, but to his surprise it wasn't
there. Well it was there but he was looking in front of himself. The
mirror was put in so that it was be at eye level with him but now it
wasn't there, in fact to was almost two feet beneath him. To his
surprise he had grown to at least 7'3" or maybe even bigger. So he
crouched down so that he could see into the mirror but the face that
welcomed him was not his own.
His teeth last night had been larger then normal but not like they
were now, they were much larger even bigger then a vampire's. His
hair had changed as well - it used to be a dark shade of brown and
cut short because of his construction job but now it had turned
solid black and had grown much longer. His hair now reached to the
small of his back, which was at least 3'6" from the top of his head.
But that wasn't the only difference. His eyes, once a rich brown
were now as black as his hair, maybe even more so. Xander didn't
know what to do or think he looked as if he was possessed by a lion
spirit or something but he was still himself, in a fit of anger he
slammed his clawed hands onto the sides of the sink and it shattered
into about fifty pieces. He hadn't even tried but still he had
crushed the sink, he was amazed at how strong he had become. He
walked over to his couch and with one hand lifted it and he still
wasn't even trying hard. //Got to go see Giles, he'll know what
happened to me//. But he couldn't go out now it was still day light
and people would notice the large lionman walking down the street
and I don't I'd fit in my car. And another reason was his clothing
was ripped and shredded and he wasn't about to go outside half
naked //speaking of naked// he then looked around to make sure so
one was looking and unzipped his pants and took a look at his...well
Night had come and Xander took off into it still without anything to
wear besides ripped up clothing, he couldn't find anything that
would fit him. He was walking down main street in Sunnydale when he
saw a Big & Tall outlet store. //Well I guess that's me now.// So he
walked over only to find that it had been locked up tight. He kicked
the door right off the frame and walked in, he found some black
leather pants and some black hiking boots as well as a large dark
blue silk shirt. He picked out a piece of paper and jotted down a
apology about the door and left about two hundred dollars for the
clothing he took. On his way out he saw a large black duster and
thought //what the hell, if I'm going out why not look good doing
it// he grabbed the duster and walked out towards Giles' house. He
could hear people speaking threw the door and could make out Giles',
Willow's,Tara's, and Buffy's voices. He opened the door and walked
in quietly, the first to notice him was Tara who let out a loud
scream. Buffy being the slay happy girl she is grabbed her stake and
headed right for him, she drew back the weapon and attempted to
drive it threw his heart. Xander only acting on instinct moved
faster then her and slammed his fist into her stomach, she went down
for the count. He then looked towards the others who all had scared
faces, "Um hi guys I was wondering if you could help me out with
It took him about half an hour to explain what had happened the
night before, they all kept quiet and listened to everything he had
to say. Buffy was still passed out and Giles had laid her down in
the back room.
Willow who had been staring at him then turned to Giles, "Do you
think he could be like possessed or something?"
Giles removed his glasses and started to clean them like he always
did when he didn't understand something. "I don't see how he could
be, he's still Xander just...bigger and with fangs and claws."
Willow and Giles had been sitting far away from him but Tara had
decided to sit right next to him. She kept poking his arm like a
small child who had been given a puppy - she was just as fascinated
by this she didn't even think to explain about mutants. Well Giles
was researching his books and Willow was using a few spells to see
if she could turn his back, nothing was working. A few hours later
Giles was still researching but Willow had given up on the magic and
went home, Tara had fallen asleep next to Xander and was snuggling
up with him like he was a pet that would sleep at the foot of your
bed at night. Buffy woke up soon after that muttering something
about a truck hitting her in the ribs when she saw the creature who
had attacked her sitting on the couch with Tara's unconscious from
next to him.
She, being dumb, grabbed her stake once again and threw it like a
knife right for him, it sank deep into his forearm and he let out an
anger filled roar that shook the whole house.
"Buffy, it's Xander don't attack him!"
She had made it all the way over to him when Giles words sunk into
her head she turned to looked at him and missed the uppercut that
Xander sent her way. She was hit so hard that she did a whole 360 in
mid-air before hitting the ground hard. Giles ran over to Buffy's
once again unconscious from, Tara looked at Xanders injured arm and
watch in amazement as he withdrew the stack and his wound healed in
a matter of seconds.
"Xander, would you please not do that again?"
Xander gave Giles a childish pout, "She started it."
After Buffy woke up the second time Giles explained to her what had
happened as wasn't able to talk with her jaw being broken and all
but she nodded to him that she understood. Tara took this time to
explain about what she had heard about mutants on the Internet, them
being the next stage in humen evolution and all. The next day
Willow, Buffy, and Tara were sitting at the their favorite table in
the lunch room.
"So is there anything we can do about Xander?" Willow asked Tara
since she seemed to know more about it then they did.
"No, he was born like that so he can't change back. Just like Buffy
can't help being the slayer."
Buffy who was still pissed at having her ass handed to her by the
*weak-link* of the group just sent an angry glare towards the shy
"Well I think its cute, its like having a real live teddy bear."
Willow pecked her girlfriend on the cheek and said, "Just remember
real live teddy bears bite, and he looks more like a panther or
On the other side of town in the Harris basement Xander was trying
to explain to Anya why they couldn't see each other anymore, "I want
you to have a normal life and dating a freak of nature isn't on the
to do list for that."
Anya just kept arguing with him, "Can't we at least have break up
sex cause if everything has grown shouldn't the little soldier be
more like King Kong?"
Xander, never being one to turn down sex, did just as she asked,
Anya left that basement with a smile that wouldn't leave her face
for at least a month. Xander lay back and got ready to sleep but
that's when the soldiers lead by Riley Finn busted into his room
firing their blasting guns. Xander reacted faster then any mere
human could ever hope to and attacked them with claws and teeth
first. He killed at least thirteen before he knew what he had done,
he looked down at his blood covered hands and forgot all about Riley
and the other four soldiers that had gotten away. They all fired
their weapons at the same time straight at his huge chest. Xander
fell to the ground but before he passed out he saw Riley standing
above him, "Filthy murdering freak!" he then slammed his boot into
Xander's face knocking him out.
When I opened my eyes all I could see was black. I couldn't move nor
speak and the only thing I felt was the cold. This is how I learned
the drawbacks of animal senses; I don't do very good isolated. With
no sense of smell and no sound I was slowly losing my mind. I don't
know when the door was opened and the room was filled with guards
all pointing their guns at me, but for my very sanity it couldn't
have been a moment too late. Once the guards were sure I wasn't
going to attack anyone they signaled that it was alright for the
doctor to enter. I'm using the word "doctor" loosely, the man's more
like a fiend. He was a tall man maybe 6'1, not that it matters now
that I can pass for a basketball player. He was in his late forties
and had short gray hair and icy cold blue eyes.
"Welcome Mr. Harris, I'm so glad to meet you."
I may have let out a low growl but all it seemed to do was make the
"Did you know Mr. Harris that your mutation is one of the rarest in
the whole world? They've only been two others recorded since this
program was first invented in the 1950s." He then began to walk
towards me and with the look in his eyes I thought he was going to
dissect me right there, but he stopped a few feet away. The guards
still had their weapons pointed at my chest ready to fire if I made
the slightest move towards the doctor. "Where are my manners? I
forgot to introduce myself. I am Doctor Edward Stark and I will be
your doctor for the remainder of your stay."
I had been sitting down during all of his explanations until he said
I was staying here. That's when I stood up and towered over him and
every other mad in the cell. "Sorry doc, I don't plan on staying."
At that moment I was ready to pounce but I never got the chance. The
guards all opened fire before I had the chance to spring on the doc.
I was surprised that bullets weren't what hit me, but electricity.
It wasn't enough to kill me, not that bullets did the job last time,
but it was enough to bring me down.
With a cruel smirk on his face Dr. Stark began to speak once
again, "I'm sorry Mr. Harris but you don't seem to have a choice in
the matter. Now I'm going to leave you here until morning and I do
hope you rest up because we will start the testing bright and early
He then turned to leave but before he reached the door he told the
guards to fire on me once again just for good measure. I passed out
after maybe five minutes of them frying me with those damn zap guns!
It sickens me to admit it but it was better them shooting me then
leaving me in this god-forsaken room! There were no sounds or smells
to distract me from what I had done. I killed people. I broke the
first rule of being a Scooby.
I know I could say it was instinct. Or that common sense would be
enough to tell me to attack at the sight of over a dozen armed men
entering my home with their guns aimed at me. But common sense and
instinct do me no good now. The simple fact that I took the lives
of... I can't even remember how many I killed and that is enough to
feel dirty. At first I wonted to fool myself thinking that I could
be a super hero like Buffy saving the world from the baddies, but I
can't now. I know the truth now and it comes to me like a lightning
strike, "I'm a killer." What right do I have to leave? What right do
I have to be among normal people? I belong here and whatever their
going to do to me is more then likely what I deserve. Maybe with any
luck they will just kill me and get it over with because if I have
to stay in this fucking room one more second I'm going to fucking
rip someone's throat out! I let out one of my lion-like roars and
launch myself towards the doors only to find that even with my
strength I still can't so much as move them.
Thoughts of self-pity and suicide are soon forgotten when dealing
with the cold, numb, and sterile room that is my prison. God why is
this so hard? It's only a room and I know for sure before I became
the freak that I am now that it wouldn't have been so bad. It's
these senses! They've been in hyper- drive ever since I changed, but
they were well enough under control, but now here! I need to hear
something besides the beat of my own heart and my breathing. Hours
pass and they could very well be days for all I know - I'm slowly
going mad. I began to claw at my clothing a while back and by now my
shirt is nothing more the ribbons. At times I've almost slipped back
into the red hot rage that over come me the moment those commandos
entered my room but the thought of Tara calling me a big teddy bear
held them at bay. She seems to be the only real friend I have
anymore. Willow kept trying to use her magic on me to turn me back
and kept muttering under her breath so quietly that if I hadn't
super hearing I would have missed it - that if I wasn't such a freak
she could change me back. And good old Buffy kept looking at me like
some kind of demon to slay, but the two haymakers I gave her might
have a lot to do with that.
When Dr. Stark entered Mr. Harris's cell he was happy to find the
young mutant so far out of it that he posed no danger... for the
moment. He called the guards and nurses in to strap him in a gurney
and take him to the operating room for the first stage in testing.
Once held down in reinforced metal clamps Dr. Stark whispered into
the young mutant's ear, "Now Mr. Harris we will see if like the
other two ferals you possess a healing factor. And if you do then
the real fun can begin."
He then walked over to his tray and picked up a large syringe and a
bottle containing a blue liquid. Once he had the syringe filled he
injected it into Mr. Harris's left arm.
Down the hall agent Finn was complaining that he wanted to be
present for the freak's testing. "That fucking bastard killed a hell
of a lot of my men and I want to make sure the worthless fuck
suffers!" But soon after animal like screaming was heard from the
back labs so high that passers by above ground could make it out.
With a smug smile on his face agent Finn said, "Never mind I'll take
your word for it."
Things changed a great deal once Dr. Stark was done with his first
round of testing. I was moved to The Compound a few hours later; I
was still weak so it was easier to move me. A lot of things changed
there and nothing more then myself. The Compound was where they sent
the captured mutants. I watch helplessly as men, women, and children
are herded into the lower levels like lambs to the slaughter. It
hurts so much because they don't know; they don't know there being
lead to a place that breeds nightmares. They're not all going to die
just some of them - the old, the young, and the weak. A few will be
preserved like myself, those who are "useful". I spend another few
hours in Dr. Stark's lab today. He still can't understand how my
healing factor works, but he knows enough to make one of his
disturbing smirks appear. What he does to me would be enough to kill
any normal person, but he holds of finishing me. I'm still "useful".
There's a closed off field in the back of The Compound where we're
kept. They wouldn't let us out into it without a collar. It turns
off our powers so we can't use them against the guards. I still have
my fangs and claws, but if the guards shot me I'd die like any other
man. I don't know how so many people can be marched into The
Compound. Someone most miss us? Then I think we're mutants and who
would care if a few of us went missing. I watch behind one of the
gates they keep us behind as they drop off another group of mutants.
An old woman carrying her grandchild catches my eye. The girl can't
be more then four years old as she clings to her grandma. She's
green and has scales but she's still a little girl. Just because
she's different doesn't make her any less of a baby! It's winter now
and unlike Sunnydale it gets cold here. The grounds covered in snow
yet those people are still marched in.
The old woman's frail and can't keep up with the others and carry
the little girl. One of the guards come over and takes the girl from
the old woman's arms and throws her a few yards away. She lands in
the snow beside the bodies of the others who couldn't keep up with
the group. They care so little about us that they don't even have
the kindness to bury the dead. I turn away now - I can't bear to
watch the girl scream out for her grandma. She tries to get up and
run after her but its cold, so very cold and she's so young she
trips and falls soon off. She cries out for her nanny but the guards
won't let the old women go back for her. She cries out for help but
there's no one that can help her here, no one. Even if we wanted to
the guards would shot us down even if we were "useful". I can't bear
to watch as she gives up and lies down on the cold ground, but she
still cries out. When I'm alone at night I can still hear the crying
from her and from people just like her.
Once the crying has stopped I some how find the courage to look at
her. She's not moving any more and all I can think is how lucky she
is. Lucky that she wouldn't have to go into The Compound with the
rest of us. Lucky that she would be spared from the labs and the
doctors. Those are things I wouldn't inflect on my worst enemy let
alone a small child. Her soul has left her body and now she's free.
Sometimes I wish I were so lucky. When I can no longer stare at her
still body I look at the snow. I have to be like the snow. It feels
no pain. It feels no guilt. It's just cold. Slowly I am becoming
just like it. Cold, so very, very cold.
I wish I were in Sunnydale. Of course I wish that, but not for the
reasons you'd think. In Sunnydale people died every day, but because
of the Hellmouth its over looked. I found out not so long again that
The Compound is in Ohio. What's Ohio's excuse for the deaths of
dozens of people? Do they have a Hellmouth too? But I'm not as naive
anymore to believe such a thing. People are dying by the handful for
the simple fact that no one cares. I haven't talked to a lot of the
inmates, not that I talk a lot to begin with. There are no
chatterboxes in here, but I hear them talk. And I hear what the
guards call us. They call us monsters and freaks, but do we send
people into places like this where they'll be experimented on? Do we
turn a blind eye as children are murdered? Humans are the monsters.
They're as evil as anything in hell. That's why I don't hate myself
and what I've become anymore. For no matter how bad I am and what
I've done... at least I'm not human.
They became bored with my suffering in the isolation cell so they
moved me into a normal one. The Compound has become crowded so I
soon had a roommate. He was thirteen years old. He didn't have
dangerous power like mine or a god- like power like others; all he
had were orange eyes. His only crime was that his eyes weren't
normal. He was a sweet kid; always tried to lift my spirit even when
his heart was broken from missing his family. I still remember the
day he died. I try and remember all the days that people died
because as long as I am alive they'll never be forgotten. I had been
here for a while and knew to watch out for the kid, but I can't be
everywhere at once. One day I was in the lab for many hours going
through their tests and surgeries that I didn't see him all day. On
my way back to my ceil I found him laying on the ground in one of
the back halls beaten and nude where one of the guards had left him
once he'd had his fun.
I tried to help the kid after he'd been rap... after he'd been hurt.
He wasn't the same after that; he'd lost that spark of hope that was
always in those orange eyes of his. There's a no-man's land around
the far walls that surround the field. He took my hand and told me
goodbye before he walked towards those far walls. I didn't even try
and stop him. What could I have told him? That it would get better?
I wasn't going to lie to him. The guards shouted for him to back
away before they opened fire. He didn't cry out and for that I thank
him; I can't go on with another cry filling my nightmares waking me
in a cold sweat I already have enough.
We were kept in separate cell blacks, the men and women. Some of the
men turned to each other for comfort. I didn't but I can understand
why they did. They wanted to be with someone when death was so close
you could fill his icy hand on your shoulder. Not that we never saw
the women because we did in the field. Some were all right, but
others wore blackened eyes, cuts, and bruises. The guards it seems
didn't just take out their perversions on out young boys, but on
mothers, daughters, and sisters as well. It wasn't just because they
were attractive even if that helped catch their eye; they did it to
show who really had the power in the world. I'm thankful that with
out shaving my face and with my fangs and claws I look more like an
animal then a man. I'm thankful I wasn't pretty enough to catch any
of the guards' eyes.
I wasn't surprised months into this that Buffy never came and saved
me. I don't doubt the soldiers that grabbed me gave out some excuse
to fool anyone that asked; that is if anyone even noticed I was
gone. Maybe Tara. The day I was set free and shown what I needed to
do with my life came almost eleven months after I was first
captured. That's the day I met Magneto and joined The Brotherhood.
We burned down The Compound with most of the guards and doctors
still locked inside. Dr. Stark I took care of myself. As I watched
it burn I thought of two things only. Not that I missed my former
friends. Not that I missed the humanity that was wiped away from me
in there. I thought the words, "NEVER AGAIN!!!"
I'd never stand by and let this happen to anyone again. And how
thankful I was above all else, "At least I'm not human."
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