Characters: Rogue, Gambit, Storm, wee!Forge, Jubilee, various X-men
Word Count: 3564
Author's Notes: For ragingpie! Hope you like it! =D Prompt: "I've seen tags like those before." Takes place post X3 and towards the end of XO: Wolverine. Also, many, many thanks to comeon_eileen for the beta! You rule! =)
Rogue nearly collided with Jubilee on her way down the stairs.
“God, Ah’m so sorry!”
“Whoa, girl, where’s the fire?”
Rogue didn’t stop, but yelled over her shoulder, “Ah was scheduled to relieve Storm.”
“Fifteen minutes ago!”
“Ooh, good luck with that!” Jubilee yelled after her.
Yup, this was a great start to her ‘Show them you can do it!” policy. Storm had allowed her to stay even after taking the cure with the one condition: Rogue had to prove she wasn’t a liability. She could train with the team, but she wasn’t allowed on missions. Not yet, anyway. And not at this rate.
Logan was probably her biggest supporter. Also, the hardest on her. First thing in the morning she met with him — when he was around! — then with the whole team in the afternoon. And, on every other day she would train with Logan once again before going to bed. She didn’t complain, though. She made sure she didn’t. It would only gain her more hours with Logan if she did and it might make Ororo rethink her decision. Instead, she focused on the good that would come eventually and satisfied herself with the few times she managed to drop Logan while the majority of the team watched.
Finally, damn slow elevator opened at the right floor in the underground levels. Rogue ran to the medical bay, punched in the code, and slipped inside.
“Sorry Ah’m late.”
“Bobby?” Ororo looked up from her book, her eyes teasing. At the younger girl’s uncomfortable blush, she smiled, “It is quite alright,” she said, standing, “It has been an uneventful evening. Sadly, no change in his status.”
“Oh, okay,” Rogue looked at the man lying in the narrow cot.
“If he wakes, inform us right away.”
“Colossus will take over for you at two. Any questions?”
Rogue shook her head.
“Very well, have a good night.”
“Thanks, Storm. You, too.”
Rogue watched Ororo go through the sliding doors, activate the alarm, and walk out of view towards the elevators. She glanced over at the unconscious man. Seems she was stuck in there babysitting until Pete showed up.
She looked around the room, then back at the man lying on the cot. Strange that the boys would find him only a few miles away from the school during a training exercise with Kurt and Dr. McCoy. They said he looked sick, vomited a few times, asked where he was, but still put up a fight. Luckily, Hank had a sedative in his bag. Storm sent word to Logan, but they had yet to hear back.
After a few tests, Hank assured them the mutant was only suffering from exhaustion and would require plenty of rest. He also spend much time denying rumors that his powers were dangerously out of control, which is why he was out in one of the beds and not in isolation.
Some of the younger girls volunteered to watch him after hearing Jean-Paul describe him, but Hank and Kurt took the first two shifts. Ororo the third and Rogue had been assigned the fourth.
It was the first time she’d had a chance to see him. He looked young. Couldn’t be much older than she. Not by much at any rate. His hands and feet were secured to the bed, so she risked getting closer to grab his chart.
“Name, unknown. Age, 19-25. Ha, knew it. Powers, manipulation of kinetic energy… Huh.”
She glanced down at him again. For some reason he didn’t look as silly in that white hospital gown as the rest of them usually did. She supposed it was because he was cute, or rather, most would have thought him so. Sexy, even. Jubilee would undoubtedly call him hot. Many would agree, but girls who had just been dumped by their boyfriends for no one in particular — supposedly! —didn’t think much of the male gender as a whole and didn’t really care.
Still… she could be objective.
Her eyes traveled along the lines of his face. His jaw was a combination of smooth and scruffy, or at least that’s what she imagined it would be. She stared at the curves of his lips and for the briefest second, wondered how they might feel.
Feeling incredibly stupid for blushing, she paced around the room. Her gaze returned to him eventually though. He was the newest thing to see in there. She leaned against the side wall and continued to study him. The scars on his palms, the length of his hair… Anyway, if she was completely objective, she could admit he was handsome. She could admit it and it didn’t mean a thing.
Slowly, carefully, he peered his eyes open when he heard the pacing footsteps and peeked at the girl watching him. She was pretty, but weren’t they always? Then, she spoke.
A slight lilt to her words and he almost smiled. It was obvious she’d been gone from home far too long.
“Age, 19-25. Ha, knew it.”
Did she now?
“Powers, manipulation of kinetic energy…”
Just like that, the desire to smile disappeared. For someone he had never seen, never met, she knew too much about him. He thought about getting up, but that’s when his eyes were drawn to the tags she wore.
Seen tags like those before, he thought. Nothing good ever came from them. Shit, they’re the reason he’s wherever the hell he is now.
Clouds of dust rose after the explosion shook the ground.
“Well, shit…” Remy mumbled to himself. Things could only get worse after that, but he couldn’t leave just yet. He stepped out into the clearing and felt an odd sense of relief to see the group of kids he planned to help out of Stryker’s grasp. Remy only hoped the bald man leading them away didn’t turn out to be just as bad.
Beneath his feet, the ground shook again. Time to get out. Problem was he had to go back through the western part of the compound to get to his plane.
Four steps into the building and the walls rumbled and roared all around.
“Fuck it,” he said, turning back. He could always win another one.
That’s when he heard it. Barely audible. Far away.
The only reason he stopped and asked, “Someone there?” was because it sounded like a kid’s voice. Had it been an adult, poor bastard would be assed-out. He was not about to risk his life for someone old enough to know not to lag behind. With little reluctance, he followed the screams to a steel door.
“Step back!” Remy yelled, hoping whoever was on the other side could hear him and move out of the way. Two charged fingers against the lock and within seconds it glowed, ready to blow.
The small explosion was drowned out the rest of the ongoing chaos. Remy kicked the door open. A pair of frightened, dark eyes stared back.
A scrawny kid lay at the other end of the small room, his leg stuck underneath a slab of concrete that used to be the wall. A door at the other end of the room was left open. Whoever was watching the kid left him behind, alone and trapped.
Remy tried to lift the rubble, but didn’t budge it an inch.
“Can you get that box for me?”
Remy looked over at the counter where a small, silver box that looked a lot like a Super Nintendo was.
“Now’s not the time for video games, boy. This here building’s going down. I don’t plan on being in it when it does. Charging the rubble is the fastest way to get rid of it. So, take cover.”
Remy’s eyes flashed red.
“Wait!” the kid protested, “That’s not a video console. I’m Forge, by the way.”
“Congratulations. Now quiet down.”
“Wait, please. That’s my time machine.”
Remy paused. He didn’t say a word, but raised an eyebrow to give the kid an incredulous look.
“It is!” the kid yelled, “If you bring it over to me, I can get us both out.”
At any other time, Remy would have dismissed such nonsense in an instant, but being on Three Mile Island with only minutes before the building caved in, he figured what the hell.
He grabbed the box and gave it to the boy.
“Get yourself out,” Remy said. It might be the only way the kid would make it out alive.
“Don't worry. I can get us both out.”
Rogue thought she caught a glimpse of his eyes flutter. She put the chart away and watched his breathing and brain activity closely. Everything was slow, steady.
Better to err on the side of caution, she thought, and walked over to the communicator to call Storm. But what if he wasn’t waking up and it was only a muscle spasm. He could be dreaming, REM cycle and all that. And was she really going to wake up the whole school for an eye flutter?
She sighed, walked back, and sat on the stool Storm had used. She picked up one of Hank’s fifty pound text books lying on the counter and flipped through it.
Every few minutes she watched him. When his hand twitched once, she had the strangest feeling deep down in the pit of her stomach.
A series of explosions shook the walls.
“I gotta blow this now or we ain’t going nowhere.”
“Just…” Forge struggled with his machine, “give me a min— There!”
The box lit up.
“How ‘bout taking me back a few days, so I know not to be sitting at that table or anywhere near Bourbon. Knowing Logan’s been nothing but a hassle.”
“Unfortunately,” Forge frowned still tinkering with the device, “That’s not exactly how it works. It will though!” he looked optimistic, “One day… All right, I think I got it. Now don’t move.”
“Whoa, wait, wait, wait! Where you sending me?”
“The future. Do you have any metal on you?”
“The future?” Remy asked, “Where in the future? Two second from now next to my plane would be nice.”
“You have a plane, which means you have keys, likely made of metal. Hand them over.”
Remy suddenly felt he was back home with a little scrawny kid trying to boss him around. He was tempted to roll his eyes, but he didn’t and tossed the keys. They landed at the kid’s elbow.
“You might feel a little queasy when you arrive. Ready?”
“Now, hold on—”
The hair on Remy’s arm stood on end. There was a bright light, blinding him, and then it was dark.
One minute Rogue was stifling a yawn and the next his fingertips were glowing pink! She took a step back, then ran forward towards the communicator on the wall to alert the rest of the team.
It all happened so quick that she can’t be sure exactly how he got out of his restraints, but in the blink of an eye he was behind her, pinning her arms to her side.
“Where am I?” he asked.
“Westchester, New York.”
“New York,” he repeated.
“We weren’t hurting you!” Rogue promised, “We took you in. Cleaned you up. Made sure you were fine.”
Yeah, so did Stryker. Bastard helped him. Healed him. Only to cut and prod him later at his leisure. That wasn’t gonna happen again.
“Why?” he asked, “What’s in it for you?”
Think, girl, think. He doesn’t know about your powers. Doesn’t know the cure’s worked so far. He’s wearing practically nothing that could protect him if you had them. And, of course, now’s the perfect time to think about his obvious lack of clothing.
“Nothing. Just let me go, okay?”
His arms tightened around her. She was the only card he held at the moment. He leaned forward to whisper in her ear, “And why would I do that?”
“Ah’m a mutant, too. If you touch my skin, Ah’ll take your powers, your memories, your life force. Everything.”
He’d met many people in his life, not even the best liars could deliver those words with the mixture of misery and sorrow she did. Plus, the girl was covered from head to toe. Even wore gloves. It had to be true.
His grip around her eased and his hands fell to his side.
“You say this is a school?” he asked.
Rogue’s heart was pounding in her chest; she couldn’t believe he bought it. She turned around to face him.
“Yeah,” she smiled a little and slipped a stray strand of white hair behind her ear, “For mutants.”
Momentarily distracted by the coy act, he didn’t even see the right hook coming. About half of the series of punches and kicks that followed made contact until he ducked only to jump over her, flipping through the air.
“Thought we were friends now, chere,” he grinned.
“Name’s Rogue,” she replied lunging at him, “And Ah ain’t ya friend!”
He was quick, she’d give him that. The way he moved reminded Rogue of a jack rabbit. Finally, he stood still high on top of a counter.
“That’s only ‘cause we ain’t been properly introduced,” he half-bowed, “The name’s Gambit.”
He waited for her reaction. When she laughed, his eyes narrowed and he searched the room for anything he might be able to use.
He bowed. Rogue laughed. He bowed. Wearing a hospital gown and standing on a countertop, he bowed like something out of an old movie.
“Curtseying’s out of style or didn’t you hear? What year do you think this is, Gambit?”
If he’d been on The Island, or its inevitable replacement, he was sure the name would have gotten a reaction out of her. Instead she laughed at his etiquette. Maybe he was in New York.
“Some of us still have manners, Rogue. Now, tell me, what’s with your tags?”
Logan’s tags. He’d given them back to her shortly after Jean’s death. A promise of sorts not to stay away too long. A reminder he’d always return.
Her fingers suddenly itched for them, but she hesitated in making any sudden movements.
“They’re not mine.”
“Who’s then? Bobby’s?”
Rogue blinked, “You’ve been awake this whole time.”
He grinned at her, “Your friend tried reading to me. Said it might help. Gotta say, that might’ve been the only time I did sleep.”
Her smile vanished and Rogue turned serious for a moment, “A lot of mutants come here seeking refuge or just a safe place to live. Were you looking for the school?”
He shook his head, “All this? Chance.” Though it would have been nice to know such a place excited back when he needed it.
She watched him, wondering what he meant.
He watched her as she tried to understand what he said. She looked concerned. For him. He’d forgotten what that was like. Seems the kid send him to the right place. His eyes flashed red for the briefest of moments, then he squashed down the emotion.
“Ah guess. How do you feel?” she asked.
“A while ago you were tryin’ to take my head off—”
“Only ‘cause you grabbed me first! What kind of a gentleman are you?”
“—and now you’re worried about my well-being?” he finished, ignoring her remarks.
Rogue rolled her eyes, “Seems you’re fine to me.”
He sat down on the edge of the counter.
“Figured that’s why you’ve been checking me out since you got here,” he smirked.
“Ah have not!”
He shrugged, that damn smirk still in place, “ ‘S okay, chere, nobody’d blame you for it.”
She scoffed and walked over to a closet.
“Here,” she said, tossing him a pair of grey sweatpants and a hooded sweatshirt.
“Why? I’m too distracting for you this way?”
She looked him dead in the eye.
“You don’t affect me one way or the other,” she lied with a straight face.
His smirk turned to a full smile, “Sure, I don’t.”
She wanted to punch him. Wanted to hit him for making her feel…making her feel…dang it, she wanted to punch him for making her feel! She’s supposed to be getting over a break-up that happened only a few hours ago. She shouldn’t be trying to get a guy she just met to believe she wasn’t interested in him!
Rogue took a deep breath, rolled her shoulders back, and headed to the communicator on the wall. Again.
“I have to call Storm,” she said, “Probably Beast, too. How ‘bout you get dressed before they get down here. You think you can manage that?”
“Might need a hand. Or two,” he grinned and Rogue bit the inside of her lip to keep from returning it.
She dialed the code for Storm’s room.
“Is everything all right, Rogue?” came Storm’s sleepy-turned-alert voice.
“Yeah, our…guest’s awake.”
She could hear Storm getting out of bed.
“Is he okay? Any problems breathing? Vomiting?”
Rogue looked over her shoulder at him. He was wearing the sweats and in the process of putting on the sweatshirt. Her throat went dry.
“He’s,” she cleared her throat, “Fine.”
“Keep on saying it,” he whispered, “It don't get old.”
“Is he speaking?”
Storm sounded surprise.
“Call Beast. I'll be right down.”
“Will do,” Rogue replied and started dialing in the code for Hank’s room.
“What?” she asked without looking at him.
“Is this calendar…real?”
She stopped dialing, “Why wouldn’t it be?”
“What?” she asked, stepping away from the communicator and over to where he stood.
He looked dazed, panicked, and ready to bolt all at once.
His eyes were on hers in an instant, trying to anchor himself to the one thing that was certain. Rogue.
His face was blank, unreadable. She had that uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach again. She swallowed.
“You okay?” she asked.
He blinked a few times, his grin returning after he let out a laugh, “I’m fucking great!”
Stryker. Gone. Creed. Gone. All those bastards. Gone. Who knew how long? Who fucking cared.
Rogue watched him with curious eyes.
All teasing gone from his voice, he replied, “Couldn’t be better, chere.” He turned towards the calendar again. “Wonder where Forge ended up?” he mumbled.
“You know Forge?”
Gambit turned to Rogue, “Do you?”
“He used to teach here.”
They both turned to see Storm walk in, “Question is, how do you know him?”
“Forge offered to send him back, but he has chosen to stay.”
Logan’s scowl deepened, “Yeah, I don’t like it.”
Storm placed her hand on Logan’s shoulder, “He helped you once. It is time you returned the favor.”
“Dude, seriously? After only a week?”
“Yes. Storm said he was joining the team.”
“And Logan agreed?”
Pete shook his head, “I don’t think he had much of a choice with Storm, Beast, Kurt, and Rogue fighting him on it.”
“Sucks,” Bobby mumbled.
Jean-Paul snorted, “Pfft, speak for yourself!”
“Oh my God, Jubilee, you’re such a liar!”
“No, I’m not! That’s what I heard. Kitty said Bobby said Pete overheard Ms. Munroe talking to Logan a few days ago.”
“So, Remy’s really staying as an X-man?”
Jubilee nodded slowly and deliberately, “Uh-huh.”
“God, he’s so cute!”
Rahne glanced around to make sure no one was listening, “And, um, did he really come here from the past just to be with Rogue?”
The girls huddled closer to Jubilee waiting for her reply.
“I don’t know all the details yet,” the girls sighed dramatically, “But,” they looked up, hopeful expressions on their young faces, “I do know there was time travelled involved.”
The girls gave a collective sigh.
“Rogue’s so lucky…”
“You hear the latest rumors?”
Rogue seemed to think for a moment, “What? We eloped this time?” she rolled over to her side, resting her head against her palm, “Or did we get back together only to break up again?”
Remy kissed her bare shoulder, “I’m supposed to be proposing soon.”
“Wow, you work right quick,” Rogue laughed, “It’s been four months since you got here, three that we’ve been together. You’d think maybe they’d be over it by now.”
“Can’t blame them really.”
Rogue raised an eyebrow, “Oh, really? And why’s that?”
Remy rolled onto his side to face her, “It’s you, chere,” he grinned, “Everyone here loves you.”
“Everyone?” she asked, letting the post-coital bliss get the best of her.
“Everyone,” he replied and leaned forward to kiss her, one hand running along her thigh, the other through her hair.
Rogue was the first to pull away.
“Mmm, not that that wasn’t nice, sugah, but Ah think you should be heading back to your own room.”
“I prefer a last minute escape,” Remy winked, but gave her one last kiss and slipped out of her bed, “Still, wouldn’t want to give Kurt another near heart-attack.”
Rogue giggled at the memory while she watched him put on his shorts. He in turn stopped to stare at her.
“What happened to Logan’s tags?”
Rogue made a face. “You’re just noticing now?”
Remy smiled, “I was preoccupied before…”
She shook her head, “Ah still have them,” she explained, “Ah just…stored them away.”
“Why?” Remy asked, knowing that though the tags bothered him at first, he came to understand their significance soon enough.
She smiled up at him, “It was time.”