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FF: Slippery When Wet (6/6)

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  • Melissa Flores
    TITLE: Slippery When Wet AUTHOR : Melissa Flores EMAIL: mistiec_flores@yahoo.com GENRE: X-Men: The Movie, Wolverine/Rogue, ensemble. Storm/Gambit, Scott/Jean,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 6, 2001
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      TITLE: Slippery When Wet
      AUTHOR : Melissa Flores
      EMAIL: mistiec_flores@...

      GENRE: X-Men: The Movie, Wolverine/Rogue, ensemble. Storm/Gambit,
      Scott/Jean, Rogue/Augustus

      RATING: R for violence and language, and sexual situations, and MAJOR
      ANGST.

      WARNING: This is a serious roller coaster, guys. There are a lot of
      falls and I'm pretty sure by the end of chapter three half of you will
      be ready to kill me. And after chapter five you'll all be wanting
      to lynch me. What I ask is that you reserve all hangings and death
      threats until you read the whole thing. :-) It's also a day long read,
      so I'm going to be posting a chapter a day, two if I feel I can,
      cause it's heavy stuff. :-)

      DISTRIBUTION: http://www.wolverineandrogue.com/mistiec

      SERIES: Story IV in the Fatal Caress Series. Previous Stories Include
      (in order) :
      Almost a Woman
      Fatal Caress
      A Hazy Shade of Winter
      The Splintering Touch

      WARNING: While I'm familiar with the comics, I never really got into
      them, so to be on the safe side, let's just say that I've departed
      completely from them.

      GUEST STARS:
      Rupert Everett as AUGUSTUS
      Matthew McConaughey as GAMBIT


      CHAPTER SIX


      Scott Summers found his wife alone in the meeting room, back facing
      him, eyes riveted on the maps that had been made of the surrounding
      area.

      He paused, tilting his head, watching her reach out and touch one map,
      slid her finger down it.

      In his red-hazed world, she was still the most beautiful thing he had
      ever seen. Her body was tall, lean, curvy. Her eyes were so bright and
      yet so subtle, and although her looks were something she was never
      allowed to forget, they never seemed to matter. True, she always took
      care to look her best, and true, she was always dressed in the most
      fashionable clothes that Charles' vast resources had afforded her to
      buy, but there was always something about her, as if she was unaware
      that she could cause accidents, very nearly had once while they were
      walking through town.

      And she was his wife. A man who could never appreciate the true
      vibrance of her hair, or the beautiful shade of her eyes. But she loved
      him, despite the fact that she could never see his eyes... she told him
      his mind gave her more.

      And this morning he had denied her even that. Why? Sadness... anger...
      jealousy?

      He swallowed, walking further into the room, steps hesitant.

      "Are they ready?" She spoke without turning, tone distracted, distant,
      talking to him as if he had been anyone.

      "Yes."

      "Good." Her eyes flickered back to him this time, and there her gaze
      stayed. "You look tired."

      "I am tired."

      She nodded, eyebrows narrowing together as she turned back to the maps.
      "Hopefully we'll all be able to get some rest... soon." He nodded,
      didn't move from his spot. "You know it's selfish of me."

      His head lifted slightly, looking at her curiously. "What is?"

      "The fact that I want more than anything to hold you right now, and
      know that I can't..."

      Her back was still turned to him, she never saw his stunned expression,
      but he bet she could most likely feel the heartache that came with it.
      "Jean... you can."

      She stiffened slightly, turned back again to meet his eyes. "I wish I
      could Scott... but with Rogue gone and Storm missing... "

      He bit the inside of his cheek, flushing as he looked away. He knew
      what she was saying... seeing Logan and Remy's faces...

      "What are you doing?" he asked, his voice louder, more impersonal,
      coming forward to stand next to her.

      "Thinking... finally." She clucked her tongue, crossing her arms, her
      eyes narrowed in concentration. "I'm missing something here."

      "What do you mean?"

      "We're going about this the wrong way," she breathed.

      His eyebrows knit together, clearly confused, but he said nothing. Jean
      was without a doubt one of the smartest people he knew, and he had long
      ago learned to simply let her mind go, without interruptions. She would
      explain herself soon enough.

      "Scott, Rogue has never been like this. What we saw, what she said to
      me..." she trailed off, shuddering slightly, her hand cradling the back
      of her neck as she turned, massaging lightly, moving past him to pace.


      "What did she say to you?"

      She paused, looking at him, and then choosing to ignore the question as
      she continued, voicing her thoughts. "It was him. He's inside of her,
      changing her... It's all a game to him. And we've been fighting it all
      wrong."

      "Jean-"

      "NO Scott! Don't you see? It's ... He doesn't like to fight - He's
      playing with our heads. It's a mindgame. All these battles and
      explosions they mean nothing. He's got us in our heads. That's why he's
      using Rogue. He's winning the battle up here!" she emphasized, the hand
      to her temple. She continued her walk, paced, breath hitching
      slightly. "Destiny. He wanted Rogue's mutation because he wants to be
      one of us...Rogue's mutation allows him to use any of our powers
      against us... but... "

      Scott crossed his arm, leaning against the table, fascinated with
      Jean's revelations.

      "What?"

      She paused, one hand leaning against the table, eyes on some far off
      spot only she could see. "Scott... something's changing in his plan...
      he wouldn't NEED Rogue for that... He should have just destroyed
      her..."

      "How do you know-"

      "Because that's what I would have done." Scott swallowed at the
      matter-of-fact answer, stepping back slightly as Jean crossed her arms,
      lost in thought, never noticing his reaction. "But... something
      changed and..." she stopped, turning. "I think he's in love with her."

      Scott blinked, "He's WHAT?"

      "That explains it! Why he would take her back. He's not trying to kill
      her because he's in love with her... and... if That's true... he would
      want to obliterate anything and everything that would bring her back to
      us."

      Scott had to swallow to get the moisture back in hit tongue before he
      spoke. "So he's trying to take over Rogue completely?"

      "Yes. ROGUE. HIS ROGUE. The Rogue he created. He's ... killing Marie...
      the little girl, the heart of Rogue. Anything that links his Rogue to
      Marie... Logan... us... he wants to her to forget it all. And if THAT
      is true..." she paused, her body trembling slightly. "Then Storm is in
      seriously trouble."

      Scott nodded breathlessly.

      "And Rogue?"

      "Rogue's been fighting strong personalities in her head for a long
      time... she can more than hold her own... she would never have let him
      in her if she thought she couldn't unless we were on the line... " she
      paused, her eyes darkening slightly. "I think she needed my help.
      That's what she was telling me. She can't get a hold of him..." Her
      eyes brightened in realization and she whirled to speak when the flap
      flew open and Logan stumbled into the room, breaking into her speech.

      "Storm's dead."

      At first the words didn't seem to make sense. Scott blinked, staring
      blankly at Logan, and when his eyes moved around Logan to Remy, who was
      holding his injured shoulder and bleeding from a cut above his left
      eyebrow, the world suddenly dropped out from under him.

      He forced himself to breathe, felt his chest rising back and forth,
      barely eeking out an answer. "What... happened?"

      Logan swallowed, looked toward Remy, but the Cajun looked incapable of
      anything coherent. Instead he leaned against the wall, head lolling
      back, eyes on Jean as she came forward. She cradled his head in her
      palms, inspecting the damage.

      "What happened, Logan?" he repeated, heart hammering so loudly against
      his chest he had trouble hearing when Logan rasped a reply.

      "Gambit and I... we went after Rogue and Storm... and she... she killed
      her...right in front of us-" The voice was thick, too thick, because
      Logan broke off and something that was akin to a howl and a growl
      emerged unwillingly from his throat. "I shouldn't have let her go,
      FUCK. I SHOULDN'T HAVE LET GO." He banged his fist at the wall. Scott
      could only watch, only aware of the breathing, letting it all sink in.

      "Storm... Ororo's dead?"

      Jean was trembling, trembling so violently, head buried in her hands as
      she hid her face from the world, and he closed his eyes when his vision
      blurred suddenly, mind full of the Goddess of the winds with the somber
      smile and the laughing eyes.

      Their very best friend.

      Killed by Rogue.

      "No," he rasped. "DAMMIT NO." Logan was heaving against the wall like
      a caged animal, Remy's eyes were flooded with tears and the Cajun
      openly grieved, not caring who was in the room or who was watching as
      Jubilee and Kitty ran inside, watching the scene with wide eyes.

      "I loved her," the Creole whispered. "I loved her."

      It never occurred to Scott to be angry with the two men for breaking
      rank and attempting their own rescue. Instead his eyes flew to Jean,
      who now had her hands on her thighs, eyes closed, breathing in and out
      in a way he had seen her do before, putting it all away until she could
      deal with it.

      But flashes of Storm still slid before his eyes and he found himself
      reaching out blindly for a chair, sinking into it as his weakened legs
      gave way.

      His heart beat so fast and his throat was clogged with tears, body
      slumped over like a child as he attempted to swallow down the tears,
      the buried emotion.

      Oh, God.

      He was the leader... he had to... he had to pull it together... he was
      the leader.

      His mind scrambled and he tried his best to say something, but the
      hoarse emotion kept blocking his voice and the lump in his throat was
      beyond painful.

      "We..." he gasped. "We have to..."

      "We can't stay here." He looked up to see Jean standing, coming over to
      him, her hands on his shoulders, squeezing as she looked at the rest of
      the group that had momentarily assembled into the room. "We're not
      doing anything here , and we have no reason to stay here."

      Logan whimpered, lost in his own anger, fear... hurt and betrayal.

      "If Rogue has killed Storm, then she has reached the point of no
      return. She is now considered our enemy, and it will be up to us to
      destroy her at all costs." No one argued, and in the lingering sadness
      that clouded the room, Scott wondered how Jean found the courage to
      speak at all. "But we're not going to do any good here. We need to be
      back at the mansion, regroup... we need to know how to fight her."

      "We... " Logan tried to fight it, Scott could tell, but when he sank
      down on the floor, palms spread out on the ground in desperate
      submission, he knew that it was over.

      And he stood, squeezing Jean's hand as he looked at the group, taking
      over. "Let's go."

      ~*~

      Jean threw the last pack into the jet, her heart beat slow, steady...
      not at all chaotic.

      She didn't allow herself to think of Storm, of her best friend since
      high school, of the smiles or the pranks that had been played, and
      though the knot in her stomach suggested that she felt guilty because
      of it, Jean knew she had the lives of sixteen other team members to
      preserve, and she very much intended they stay that way.

      She swallowed down the lump in her throat that never really went away,
      and when her eyes roamed over the camp that had been collapsed and
      pulled apart in less than twenty minutes, there was only one dark
      figure that was left.

      She bit her lip, glancing back to the other members who were buckling
      up, and jumped back down, her feet sinking into the snow, walking
      toward Logan.

      She gave him a minute, and then came forward, gently touching his
      elbow. "Logan. We have to go."

      He didn't move, didn't look at her, his voice hoarse and rough and
      angry. "I thought you said we'd get her back Jean."

      She could say nothing to that.

      He didn't speak, his eyes narrowed. "She still has to be in there."

      "Logan."

      "I'm not gonna give her up that easy!" he snarled, head whipping about
      to face her. "I can't."

      She stared at him, arms crossed, eyes boring into his. "Who the hell
      says I'm giving up?"

      He stared at her, didn't move.

      "Get your ass in the jet, Logan."

      The order was given, and for a second, she was afraid that the dark,
      uncharacteristic tone wasn't enough, but he only growled slightly, eyes
      full of pain and hurt and voice raw with emotion, and looked back to
      the winds.

      She held her breath until he walked past her, climbing into the jet.

      Her eyes closed and the tears brimmed under hers, but she wiped her
      tears away, looking at the white snow with narrowed eyes.

      God... she had been so close... she could have sworn-

      The wind began to whip harder, startling her back into the present, and
      quickly she moved, grabbing Bobby's outstretched hand and climbing into
      the jet as the door closed behind her.

      "We're going to have trouble," Scott told her matter-of-factly as she
      slipped into the chair beside him. Ororo's old seat.

      She blinked, taking a breath. "What?"

      "The winds," he said, his jaw set and determined. "Bastard sent his
      damn winds after us."

      Jean glanced down at the control panel, her eyes moving up to find that
      indeed, a swirling blizzard was heading in their direction.

      "Sick Fuck," she heard muttered behind her, and even she felt a bit of
      contemptible hate at the reminder of what they had lost.

      "Scott, now."

      He nodded, and the jet rose, expertly going into a take-off until the
      winds hit the jet and it shuddered. Jean jerked out of her seat,
      banging her head against the wall as the shaking started. She paid it
      no mind, hearing the curses and the mutters behind from the other team
      members

      Her hand lurched out to steady herself, eyes now on the controls as the
      jet rocked, the winds pulling at them. Scott's forehead beaded with
      sweat and she gasped as the jet lurched down, her stomach dropping down
      along with it.

      "DAMMIT," he growled, in a tone that would have made Logan proud as he
      pulled up, eyes flicking up to the view screen.

      "Someone sure as hell doesn't want us to leave."

      "Kitty! Radio the other jet and check on the professor!" Jean ordered,
      throwing her words back behind her. "Make sure he's allright."

      Immediately she heard Kitty's voice contacting the other jet as theirs
      continued to rock.

      "They got out, they're fine," she said after a minute.

      "Scott..." Jean said, watching as the winds came faster.

      He only pursed his lips, and with a yell he lurched forward and the jet
      shot forth as if shot out of a cannon. The group lurched forward, then
      snapped back as the seat belts held them and the plane rose higher in
      the sky.

      Jean felt a sigh of relief exhale from her body as she held her hands
      to her forehead, rising shakily, looking back.

      "Everyone okay?"

      "Physically or mentally?"

      Jean gave Kitty a sad shrug, and squeezed her shoulder as she walked
      past her, settling into the seat with the backview, telling Jubilee to
      take her place up top.

      Her heart beat faster as she looked forward.

      God... those had really felt like Ororo's winds.

      She ignored her instincts, closing her eyes, and leaning back,
      steadying her breath.

      As her exhausted mind dozed, she never caught the black figure standing
      in the snow, looking up at the rapidly departing jet.

      ~*~

      Her mind was troubled. He could feel it as he skimmed her skin with his
      fingertips, palm settled on her ribs, her body trembling ever so
      slightly as she nestled in the crook of his arm, licking her lips and
      lost in her own world.

      "How do you feel?"

      Her eyes, brown and soft, but always with the violet tint that was his,
      narrowed slightly as they focused on him.

      "How the hell do you think I feel?"

      "Elated?"

      She pinched him, and he blinked, pinching her back.

      She pulled away from him, sitting on the edge of the bed.

      "No, not ELATED. I just killed my best friend."

      The corners of his mouth turned downwards as he reached for her,
      pulling her back gently against her. "That's disappointing."

      She pursed her lips, looking back at him. "You think so too?"

      He found himself smiling at her child-like ignorance.

      "Disappointing that you feel that way."

      She paused, looking away. "I know you wanted me to do it."

      "Is that why you did it?"

      She shrugged. "I had to make a point. But Remy and Logan's eyes... "

      A cold chill settled over his heart at the mention of her former
      lover's name, and he closed his eyes, taking the moment to breathe,
      aware that the Marie in Rogue's heart was alive and well.

      He reached forward, gripping her wrist, and pulled her back on top of
      him, reaching up to pull her chest until it was level with his bare
      one.

      "That will not do, now will it?" he whispered, his eyes cold, deadly,
      even.

      Her chest heaved against his, arousing him, marking a change in his
      breathing, as he hands slid up her small waist and over her silk night
      gown to her bare shoulders, feeling the skin beneath his palms.

      Her eyes were wide open as he pulled her as close as he could against
      him, pinning her, flipping them over until she was held underneath him.
      For a brief moment, he could sense the fear behind them until he
      reached down, pressing his lips against the spot just under her jaw
      where her aching pulse beat.

      "Augustus," she breathed, raggedly, and when he growled softly in
      response, she stiffened, and pushed him off with a surprising burst of
      strength, knocking him off the bed.

      "NO." Her eyes blinked and her hands rubbed over her shoulders, hugging
      herself as she shook her head adamantly. "I can't... Augustus... it
      HURTS."

      His eyes widened and he moved, immediately scrambling up to grasp her
      hands, thumbs rubbing circles, his own head splintering as the
      connection resurfaced.

      "Rogue, look at me. Come on, dear, look at me." She shuddered, trying
      to push him away, but he continued, until her eyes met his own, and his
      narrowed, mouth speaking words, and the trembling stopped and she
      whimpered, burying herself in his arms. The tears on her cheeks felt
      wet and moist against his chest, but he only continued to hold her,
      pressing kisses against her forehead, her hair, feeling her heart
      beating rapidly under her breasts.

      "I can't do this anymore, Augustus. It has to stop."

      "I know," he whispered, eyes narrowing as his eyes stopped at the
      uniform she had brought with her, at the silver X that was emblazoned
      on it. "Yes it does." He grit his teeth, staving off her pain and once
      again he blocked her out, letting her handle her burden and he cradled
      her head in his palms, looking at her. "Rogue, Rogue look at me. Do you
      want it to stop?"

      She nodded mutely, eyes flooded with tears.

      "The pain and anger and guilt, do you want it to stop?"

      A pause, and then a nod.

      "Then destroy your past. They are the ones causing the pain."

      There was a long moment, but the purple eyes glinted and she finally
      nodded again, lips moving to kiss his palms before extracting herself
      from his arms.

      He moved as she scrambled over him, reaching for the black leather
      pants he had given her, and pulling them on, her back to him as she
      pulled off the nightgown and slid on a black sweater instead.

      "Where are you going, Rogue?"

      "Outside. I need to think. If I do this I need to have my head clear
      for it."

      His eyes narrowed, and he considered protesting, but evidently having
      him in her head had given her a view on his personality because she
      immediately tossed "If I had wanted to leave wouldn't I have done it by
      now? Trust me, Augustus."

      He smiled and raised an eyebrow, lying back on the bed as she pulled on
      the long black jacket that reached her knees. "Get everything ready,
      Augustus. We'll go when I get back."

      His smile widened, content to ask, "Where?"

      She paused. "Ta destroy mah past, sugar."

      ~*~

      His mind was a fucking whirlwind.

      Logan had never felt this tense or angry before, never felt his heart
      splintered into a million pieces and had never felt the nausea that
      settled into the stomach, making him half wild and desperate.

      He had never wanted to not believe something more than what he had
      seen, what he had felt the moment his heart seared in two as his
      beautiful little Marie, responsible for killing a woman, a friend, who
      only tried to save her, tell them that the woman he had given his soul
      too, was dead.

      He couldn't believe it.

      He knew he was an asshole and Dammit if the other team members looked
      at him with that pitying half scared look one more time he was going
      ram some heads up asses.

      He stuck close to Remy. The injured Cajun said nothing to him, but
      Logan stuck by him, making sure the thief was taken care of by the blue
      furred beast in the medical ward, then walking with him to the meeting
      room where he knew Jean and Scott would be waiting.

      He remembered not liking him, only a few weeks ago, he remembered
      hating him. But at that moment the damned Frenchmen with the annoying
      accent and even more annoying third-person talk was the only person he
      could stand to see.

      Remy knew why, and Logan, with his bitter, seething growl and broken
      heart, never mentioned the reason.

      As he walked into the room, made sure Remy was seated and sank down
      into the chair next to him, his mind was buried with flashes.

      His eyes snapped closed and she was under him, whispering his name,
      body bathed in sweat as her fingernails raked across his back and her
      eyes opened as her hips arched, soft and dark and brown and so full of
      passion and -

      "Logan."

      His eyes snapped open and he involuntarily growled, finding Jean
      staring at him, her voice purposely void of any emotion.

      He had wondered at the military act she was putting on, and watching
      her, knowing she could see and probably feel the anger and longing
      ripping through him, he finally felt he figured her out.

      She knew how to act with him. She knew that any minute he'd crack and
      the minute she let up and started being Jean he'd walk all over her
      like he walked all over everyone.

      But she didn't.

      So he stayed put, pulling the cigar out of his jean jacket and sticking
      it into his mouth.

      "What?"

      Her arms were crossed, mouth pursed, the glasses only adding to the
      aura of her newly appointed job as a leader as she looked at the three
      men.

      "What do you think?"

      "About what?"

      "About Rogue." The voice was clipped, crisp.

      He felt his heart lurch, but he managed to sound only bitter and angry
      as he responded. "What about Rogue?"

      "I need to know what will happen when and if you come face to face with
      her," she said matter-of-factly. "Because if you don't know, then I'd
      rather you not be a part of this mission."

      "You're asking if I could kill her."

      "Yes."

      It was honest, and despite the anger flaring and the glare he gave her,
      he had to give her credit for being honest. So he was honest right
      back.

      "Fuck no."

      "That's all I needed to know."

      Scott had moved, turning his face away from him, and Logan watched as
      Jean pulled the glasses from her eyes, closing them and rubbing at them
      slowly.

      "I'm going to have to do it."

      Scott stiffened, the cigar fell out of Logan's mouth and Remy sat up,
      eyes narrowing.

      "What?"

      "This is... not something any of you can handle. It's ... hard to
      explain... I have to shut her down, from the inside."

      "Like what the professor did with Logan?"

      She looked distracted, but she nodded. "Something like that. Then we'll
      only have to worry about Augustus."

      "I'm going to kill that bastard."

      Scott and Remy turned to look at him, but Jean didn't seem the least
      surprised as she regarded Logan, who now stood to face her.

      "Logan-"

      "I almost did it before."

      "He didn't have Rogue's memories, her powers then."

      "I can kill him."

      Jean opened her mouth to argue again when a piercing siren burst into
      his ears. He winced, putting his hands on his ears and Jean and Scott
      immediately exchanged glances, heading to the viewscreen.

      Remy and Logan immediately followed. Logan crossed his arms, trying to
      block out the siren that continued as Jean's hands flew over the
      controls.

      "Holy shit," Scott gasped, and immediately went over to the table,
      calling up the image diagnostic.

      The school appeared, and Logan's eyes widened as he saw what was
      coming.

      Jean licked her lips. "Looks like we don't have to worry about getting
      inside that icebox anymore," she breathed. "They're here."

      ~*~

      The school was under attack.

      Jubilee grit her teeth, replacement goggles fitting over her eyes
      nicely as she led the children down the corridor, once again furious at
      the events that had taken place.

      It just FIGURED Rogue would get that Auggie guy and his deluded mutants
      to attack them on their turf.

      "GO!"

      Jubilee flung her arm around the student, pulling him closer to her as
      she gathered another mutant child with her free arm. The darkness
      flickered back and forth with the red lights and she winced, keeping
      them close to her as she heard the furious sounds of the battle
      outside.

      "KITTY!"

      "HERE!" Shadowcat dove forward, pulling another child with her, and
      then running back into the wall.

      Jubilee winked at the green haired kid... Jess... that was his name...
      and patted him. "It's all good, Jess, we're just taking you down for
      some-"

      BAM!

      The door slammed open and Jubilee immediately placed herself in front
      of the group of children, her eyes narrowed as she held her fingers
      ready.

      The mutant looked more like a beast than a man, and Jubilee felt her
      heart jump slightly as she pushed the kids backwards, opening the door
      that led downstairs.

      "Run. Down to the basement like you've been taught. GO."

      The silver eyes narrowed, and she stood, the fighting stance easy and
      loose.

      He shot out with claws and she ducked under them easily, kicking him
      hard in the stomach before rolling away from him. Thank God for being
      small and nimble. He plowed after her, knocking over desks and chairs
      and she jumped over the large teacher's desk, flipping over it and
      shooting out the sparks that landed directly in his face.

      He growled, arms swinging out and she barely avoided the sharpened
      nails as she stumbled over the fallen desk. He was bleeding where the
      charges had him, but the room was quickly getting smaller.

      Jubilee took in a quick breath and scrambled to her feet, shooting the
      sparks that were blocked when he picked up a student's desk and held it
      in front of him.

      SHIT. He was actually smart.

      The door behind them burst open and Kitty stopped, holding back the
      group of children she had with her as she took in the scene.

      "KITTY! Get them down there!" She launched forward, plowing into
      Silver-Eyed Beastie Guy with a force that send them both flying back,
      and Kitty immediately grabbed the kids, pushing them to the other side
      of the room.

      "Let's go guys, come on. Alex, Prissy, Jake - NOW."

      One of the older students paused as Kitty shut the door, and when she
      turned back, he opened it again.

      "Is that the thing that killed Ms. Munroe?" he shouted over the
      fighting in the room.

      Kitty did a double take, ducking when the Claw guy threw Jubilee across
      the room and reached for her. "DARYL! Get your ass back in there!"

      "IS HE?"

      "NO!"

      Daryl weighed his options, and with a set frown he slipped back inside
      the classroom, and picked up a desk.

      With a yell, he flung it forward, hands shooting out as the thing
      changed in mid air.

      When it struck the mutant in the back, it had become a spear.

      Kitty and Jubilee both watched with widened eyes as the Mutant growled
      in pain, rearing back, dropping Kitty and sinking to the ground.

      Jubilee gasped and she looked at the student.

      "Daryl?"

      He frowned, shrugging slightly. "I liked Ms. Munroe."

      Jubilee's expression was hard to tell, but Kitty's smile froze before
      she came forward, stepping around Silver-Eyed-Mutant-Guy and squeezing
      his shoulder. "We gotta go get the other kids. Can you take care of
      these?"

      The new student nodded, and walked back into the corridor.

      Her shoulders slumped, and Kitty blinked her tears away, taking a deep
      breath before straightening and turning to Jubilee.

      "Come on."

      ~*~

      Explosions boomed all around him, but Logan didn't give a rat's ass. He
      smelled the smoke, saw the ashes, saw the school littered with his
      fighting colleagues, but even the smell of the fight did nothing to
      quell his need to face one man.

      He growled, the knives slipping from his hands as his eyes caught the
      injured Remy grappling with the same snake man from before.

      His eyes narrowed and he launched forward, claws digging into the
      Snake's shoulder, barely looking as the man slithered and cried out,
      barely hearing as Remy shouted his thanks, instead his eyes continued
      to rove, like a hunter in search for prey.

      Something launched at him and he barely paid any noticed, throwing it
      off and kicking it to the ground.

      If these bastards were here, then Rogue was here, and if Rogue was
      here...

      "Logan, I presume?"

      Logan's eyes narrowed and the seething hate bloomed in his soul. The
      bastard with the purple eyes.

      Augustus smiled, crossing his arms. "You know I don't normally do this
      whole climactic battle. But I figured... just one time wouldn't hurt."

      He growled and doved forward, claws extended. Augustus sideswiped him
      easily, kicking him in the back, but Logan caught his knees, bringing
      him to the ground with him.

      ~*~

      "Are you all right?"

      Jean kept her hand on her forehead, keeping the door closed from the
      intruders as she walked backwards, ignoring Cyclops.

      She waited a minute, taking a breath, and pushed with all her might.

      The door stopped banging, for the moment.

      She swallowed, then turned to Scott. "Fine. Scott, I need you to make
      sure Charles is safe. I'll try to keep them from getting in and then we
      help the others."

      "I'm not leaving you."

      "I'll be fine. I'd rather you be with him."

      "Jean-"

      She cut him off by kissing him roughly, letting a lingering hand caress
      the rim of his glasses as she smiled. "Come back when you can."

      He nodded, swallowing and kissing her quickly one more time he let her
      go, running through the library where they were stationed.

      She let out her breath, gathering the loose strands of her reddish mane
      and pulling it back into the ponytail where it had fallen free.

      The door pounded again and she jerked back to face it, grabbing one of
      the battle batons and walking toward it.

      "I wouldn't worry about him. Beast is on the other side completely
      kickin' his ass."

      Jean froze, and her eyes closed as she took a breath, steadying
      herself, keeping her face perfectly neutral as she turned toward the
      open window.

      "Hello, Rogue."

      Rogue smiled, swinging her legs easily as she leaned on the third story
      window ledge. "Hey Jean."

      ~*~

      Robert Drake's eyes were ice blue, and his rage was considerable as he
      slid on the slippery wet ice that his outstretched arm produced before
      him.

      In and out, he weaved between the fighting mutants, icicles spitting
      from his left hand, pinning mutants to the ground, thankful that they
      were fighting on the very grounds he trained on.

      He smiled as he iced the ground one mutant was fighting on, and the
      smile widened as he looked over his shoulder to find St. John melting
      it easily, making the mutant fall back flat on his back, leaving Remy
      to finish the job.

      His throat clogged for just a second as he saw Logan fighting off the
      man with the purple eyes, and the emotion, the hatred directed at him
      outweighed even his dislike for Logan.

      But he wasn't completely useless... he continued to ice and St. John
      continued to melt because the long years of training had taught him one
      thing that fire and ice had both used to their advantage:

      Things got slippery when they were wet.

      And fire and ice, when hot and cold enough, BURNED.

      ~*~

      It felt like a face-off.

      Jean kept her head even, her eyes not on Rogue's eyes, but on her
      hands, as they circled each other slowly, each waiting for the other to
      make the first move.

      Rogue always was a talker, and Jean had learned in the long training
      simulations to let her talk, because Rogue used the distraction to get
      at you, either a foot hooked under a hip, or an elbow sneaking it's way
      under her armpit.

      She was crafty. She didn't just enjoy the battle, didn't launch into it
      like Logan and Remy did or stay as far from it as possible so as to
      have a clear shot like Scott did, to her it was a game...

      A mind game.

      "You know, Jean Ah'm disapointed in you."

      Jean remained silent, watching as Rogue's fingers twitched slightly,
      not looking into the violet eyes for fear of who she might find behind
      it.

      "You out of everyone here could finish it. You know what it takes."

      Again, Jean said nothing. She was ready when Rogue lurched forward and
      when it happened she merely used her mind to swing Rogue with her
      momentum into the nearest wall.

      Books fell off shelves and the walls teetered, but Rogue stood,
      smiling, nodding.

      Jean nodded back, a smile on her own on her face.

      Rogue got up, dusted herself off.

      "You know for the longest time, you were a hero to me. It seemed like
      you had it all together. But I don't think you do. If you did you
      wouldn't have freaked out... would you?"

      Rogue's foot shot out and Jean blocked it easily, again using Rogue's
      much more immense strength against hers, sweeping under her foot and
      pushing up.

      Rogue flipped over her head, catching Jean with a sharp, but largely
      ineffective kick in the back. Jean stumbled forward, but righted
      herself easily, her breath becoming gasps, sweat beginning to bead her
      forehead.

      She turned back, regarding Rogue.

      Rogue paused, hands falling to her sides as she looked at Jean, eyes
      narrowing. "You're learning, Jean. I think you've figured it out."

      Jean merely plastered a fake smirk on her face, eyes on her Rogue's
      hands once again. Something was wrong. Rogue was usually a better
      fighter than this... It was almost as is she was intentionally-

      "You know the darkness... you're afraid of it... afraid you might like
      it maybe? You've never tasted it, have you? But you want to, because
      you know that deep down you can play the game. You can play it better
      than me... better than him."

      Jean shook her head slightly, her lungs tightening as the words washed
      over her. Shit, Jean. Don't listen... don't listen... She wants you to
      listen...

      "All this? The bombs and men with their damn testorone fighting and
      getting sweaty and the bruises and punches and blood... that's not the
      real game. The real game is upstairs... in here." Rogue's finger tapped
      the side of her temple and Jean licked her lips, her heart skipping a
      beat.

      Shit... there it was again... that... feeling she couldn't quite put
      her finger on...

      Her eyebrows knit together in concentration and her gaze went to
      Rogue's eyes, right where she suspected Rogue wanted them.

      Rogue paused, sliding onto a desk, watching Jean quietly.

      "You know what made me run, Jean? It was Bobby. Ah found him an' Logan
      six feet in the snow, and Bobby had three clawmarks through his
      stomach... right here." Her hand rested against her tight abdomen,
      making her point.

      Jean's eyes narrowed, and she found herself pausing, as Rogue's eyes
      bore into hers.

      Bobby never had any claw marks-

      Jean gave a huge gasp inward. She blinked once, twice, and her head
      shook and her body trembled and her heart gave and suddenly Rogue was
      next to her, hand to her throat, seconds away from squeezing the life
      out of her.

      "What'sa matter, Jean?" she whispered roughly, pushing her back against
      the bookshelf. "Fight gone outta ya?"

      Jean stared deeply into her eyes, and she finally smiled, speaking for
      the first time to her old comrade.

      "No. I'm done fighting. I'm ready to play. Game's not lost yet."

      Rogue watched her, Jean felt her hands tighten slightly and she closed
      her eyes, praying she had made the right choice.

      And the fingers slipped away from her throat. Rogue's strong arms
      helped her right herself easily. When Jean's eyes opened, Rogue was
      smiling at her, hands at her sides.

      "Nice to have someone on my team for once."

      ~*~

      If Scott Summers had stopped to muse on his team, he would have been
      quite proud.

      Almost all the mutants who had managed to get inside had been promptly
      shoved out or snuffed out, and thankfully, except for a twisted ankle,
      none of the children were hurt.

      But he never was one to muse during a fight, and instead his mind and
      heart were only trained on one thing : his wife.

      He ran through the corridor, barely stopping to clap Beast on the
      shoulder, his heart hammering against his chest as he pushed the door
      open where he had last seen Jean.

      His throat immediately closed, his eyes widened, and his hand went to
      his visor.

      "Jean duck!"

      Rogue and Jean jerked their heads in his direction, and Rogue's hand
      immediately slipped from Jean's cheek, moving back toward the window.

      Jean reached her hand out, cried out for him to stop, but his fingers
      flicked, and Rogue couldn't move fast enough.

      The red blast hit her square in the chest, taking her body with it.

      Jean ran to the window, stopping as she watched Rogue land with a thud
      in the meadow, in the midst of the fighting.

      "Oh, God, Scott," she whispered. "What the hell did you do?"

      She jerked away from the window, pushing past him, and ran out of the
      room.

      ~*~

      He ducked under his flying hand, reaching up and punching him hard in
      the solarplex.

      Augustus groaned, eyes flashing as he grabbed Logan, ducking under and
      rolling him over him.

      "Enough of the violence. It's so primeval."

      "Oh I think the definition of evil ain't me, bub."

      The blast from the window caused them both to look up, and suddenly
      both forms froze as they watched in horror as one woman landed with a
      sickening squelch on the ground not twenty feet away.

      Augustus cried out at the same time as Logan did, both men running
      toward her immediately.

      "MARIE!"

      "ROGUE!"

      Augustus reached her first, pulling her up, voice raw and hoarse as he
      lifted her to him, barely able to cradle her before he was pushed back
      by Logan.

      "Stay the hell away from her," he growled, claws extended, cradling the
      groaning Rogue closer to him as he backed away from Augustus.

      Augustus narrowed his eyes, but stayed put, eyes only on Rogue. Logan
      gently held her, patted her face, eyes wide and voice unsteady in his
      panic.

      "Marie... Marie, darlin'..." he swallowed, eyes lifting up to see
      Augustus coming near again. "DON'T COME NEAR HER!" he snarled again,
      and there was so much rage in his voice the violet-eyed man actually
      paused, if only for half a second.

      Again Logan pressed his cheek against Rogue's forehead, eyes burning,
      holding her tighter. Her eyes fluttered against his cheek and she
      breathed in, hands at the wound on her chest that hadn't hit her hard
      enough to cause any permanent damage, but he guessed still hurt like
      living hell.

      "Lo-Logan?"

      "Hey... I'm here."

      "Get away from her." Augustus was on his haunches, eyes glittering,
      watching the scene with the grace of a panther. "She's not Marie
      anymore, Animal. She belongs to me."

      "Like HELL she does."

      Marie's hand clutched to Logan's lapels, and he gently brushed his lips
      against the top of her head before setting her down.

      The pounding of footsteps behind him startled him, and that was all
      Augustus needed. He jumped forward, and Logan felt his breath sucked
      out of him as Augustus jammed his shoulder into his the softness of his
      stomach, taking Logan with him as they rolled across the ground.

      ~*~

      Jean winced, watching as the men fought not more than five feet away
      from her, and she took a breath, nodding the Robert Drake, St. John and
      Gambit, all who had finished their battles and were watching with mixed
      emotions.

      "Watch Logan. Make sure he and Augustus-"

      The cry of pain at her feet drew her attention, and immediately Jean
      fell to her knees, gathering Rogue's head and bringing it to her
      thighs.

      "Jean what are you doing?!"

      Jean immediately looked up, and Scott gasped as he was pinned back,
      kept away from the fighting by the power of Jean's mind.

      "Stay away from this, Scott. It's not your fight. It's not your game."

      The voice was harsh and cold and not at all like Jean, but she paid
      them no attention as she helped Rogue to her feet, hand on the abdomen
      that shown clearly through the burned spandex.

      Her eyes fixated on the brown eyes, the weakened version of Rogue, and
      she took a breath. "How much longer are we waiting?"

      Rogue swallowed, wincing, stumbling forward as she looked at the fight.
      "Oh, God. He'll kill him."

      "Who?"

      Rogue's eyes were on the fight, her voice raspy and faint. "Take your
      pick."

      Jean was scared to wonder who the concern was for in Rogue's eyes.

      She swallowed, looking up at the clear blue sky.

      Rogue groaned, and Jean stumbled under her weight, holding her up as
      she took a quick look at the men who were still watching, unsure of
      what to do.

      Rogue sucked in her breath, her eyes riveted on the fight.

      Augustus and Logan were well matched, and it seemed that now both were
      fighting bare knuckled, beating each other to a bloody pulp using fists
      and legs and not much else.

      It seemed almost medieval, the dark knight and the white knight
      fighting for the woman they both loved, for the right to own her, to
      posses her.

      Funny how she knew, in the end, the only one who would own anyone was
      Rogue herself.

      The game was already lost.

      "He's toying with him," she whispered, her eyes dark and violet and
      fascinated.

      "Rogue..." Jean's voice held slight dread, but then the winds whipped
      around them, and Rogue's eyes lifted toward the sky and she smiled.

      "TOOK damn long enough."

      Jean understood completely, sucking in her breath and taking another
      look at her friend. "You sure about this?"

      Rogue closed her eyes, staving off the pain, and when she looked at
      Jean, she swallowed. "What's matter, Jean? Backing out of the game so
      soon?"

      "Not a chance."

      Rogue regarded her. "You sure about this?"

      Jean nodded, almost glaring at her as the fear pounded into her very
      soul. God was she? Really? Did she trust herself that much?

      "Yes," she found herself saying. "I want to play."

      "Good." Their fingers tangled and squeezed and the winds whipped
      harder, swirling around and around until she and Rogue were in the eye
      of a storm, watching as the blizzard cut off everyone else from their
      little playground.

      "Game's lost," she heard Rogue mumble, and suddenly Rogue ran forward,
      pushing herself in between the fight and with an amount of strength
      that was admirable considering her injury, she punched Logan, hard,
      flinging him hard and fast out of the playing field.

      ~*~

      Remy held an arm to the bleeding shoulder, watching through the haze of
      the storm with eyes of uncertainty and dread that shivered through him
      down to his very soul.

      He watched as Logan tried to scramble back in, only to be pushed back
      by the winds. He watched as Scott screamed for Jean until he became
      hoarse, but he too was repelled by the winds, so strong and controlled.


      It caused a lump in his throat to feel so helpless, so confused...

      And it made him damn angry as he looked up on the women he once loved,
      who had killed the woman who had taken his heart in such a way that
      would have made any thief proud.

      ~*~

      Augustus was still, his mouth bleeding, eyes flashing brilliantly when
      Rogue faced him, face drawn and tired, but still holding that trademark
      smirk as she cocked her head at him.

      "You were going suck him into you, weren't you?"

      He pursed his lips, crossing his arms as he watched his little girl,
      regarded her with growing suspicion and unease in his heart. "It seemed
      necessary."

      "Why?"

      "He's a part of you."

      "Augustus." Rogue trembled slightly, hand rising to her head as his
      narrowed. Carefully, he lifted the bond, pulling her mind, her power...
      and she stumbled back, crying out in pain.

      His fingers trembled, but he couldn't take chances now... this had been
      a mistake... bringing her had been a mistake.

      "Time to go home, Rogue."

      Her eyes opened and she glanced to the red headed witch that watched
      from a few feet away, and suddenly the link was severed when an outside
      force pounded into him.

      The stabbing pain brought him to his knees, making him wince, and his
      hands clenched into fists as he groaned, pitching forward, only to be
      caught by Rogue.

      "Augustus," she whispered. "I am home."

      ~*~

      Jean sank to her knees, eyes wide open, but body completely spent,
      tired, so tired already from her invasion in the battle of the minds.

      She took in a breath, sucking it in an attempt to concentrate, thankful
      for the winds that kept her trapped, kept her focused, kept the fear
      away

      Her eyes narrowed as she continued to isolate the heart, the strength,
      in an attempt to sever the bond and when the darkness caught her heart
      and squeezed she almost lost control, falling back, feeling it sear
      into her very soul.

      To make order out of chaos was nearly impossible.

      But Rogue whispered to her not to be a wimp, to continue to play... she
      needed her to play.

      And Jean grit her teeth, hand stretched out and taking a stronger hold,
      thanking Charles for his constant, almost tedious mind lessons that had
      given her this much control... when it could have so easily been lost.

      The stability was killing her, but it was all the stability Rogue had,
      and it was enough, because she watched as Rogue took Augustus, pulled
      him closer, kept them separate, and after what seemed an eternity,
      pressed her lips against his.

      ~*~

      He screamed.

      The pain and agony all came back and he struggled violently against
      her, his mouth muttering words against her lips that should have
      reversed it.

      But it didn't. Her mind simply flipped, locked, found another
      channel...

      She knew too much.

      Her grip was strong and his was weakening with every second, but he
      continued to fight, even as his knees hit the ground, mind reeling,
      searching and fighting back with every ounce of strength.

      ~*~

      "MARIE!"

      Logan scrambled to his feet, tried to run into the whirlwind, but he
      was held back, Scott hooking an arm in his elbow and pulling.

      "LOGAN NO!"

      "What the hell is going on?!" he demanded.

      "I don't know! But you can't go in there until we figure it out!"

      "Marie's fucking in there!"

      "Yeah and so is Jean!" Scott shouted back, pushing him away. "But
      you're not going in there!"

      Logan glared. "Try me."

      He pushed past Scott, but once again he was whipped back by the winds.

      His eyes were wide and his throat was raw, and he was weak and tired
      from the fighting, but still he tried, and still he was flung back, and
      he cried a roar of animal rage as he could only watch helplessly as
      Rogue and Augustus continued to struggle.

      ~*~

      It was a deceptively simple mind-game, but it was often true that the
      most simple easily became the most complex.

      He was struggling, and she could sense Rogue's fear keeping her,
      stopping her. Jean knew her own doubts were not helping.

      So she grit her teeth and pushed past the pain, helping her stay
      clear... focused...

      And prayed she would get through before she passed out.

      ~*~

      A combined howl came from inside the whirlwind, and Logan swallowed
      hard as it became fiercer, the debri flying around it making it
      impossible to see a thing.

      "What's going on?" he breathed. Scott stood next to him, finger on his
      visor, but he looked just as frustrated, craning to find anything to
      target.

      The screaming continued and as quickly as it had come, the winds
      slowed, stopped, and there was a flash and with no warning, Augustus
      and Rogue dropped to the ground.

      "ROGUE!" he ran forward, but was flung back again, this time by Jean,
      who held him fast with her mind.

      "No! Not until we know for sure!"

      "Know what?!"

      "Who won the game." Jean swallowed, and walked forward, hand out,
      keeping Logan at bay as she made her way to the two bodies.

      "Jean what are you doing?" St. John cried, looking at Gambit
      unsteadily. "Get out of there. She killed Storm."

      "No, she didn't." The winds picked up slightly at the foreign voice,
      and like faithful hounds to their master, the winds whipped around
      Ororo Munroe, who landed lightly at her feet a few feet from Jean.

      Storm looked tired, her eyes were still milky white and her knees
      trembled slightly, but she was very much alive.

      Jean paused, her eyes locking with Ororo's, her heart thumping in
      relief, a gentle smile coming from her face.

      "Oh, thank God she didn't lie about that."

      Ororo shrugged slightly. "I am sorry it took so long. I had a long
      flight. You didn't wait for me."

      "You're here. That's all that matters to me. DAMN it's good to see
      you."

      Storm smiled, her eyes clouding slightly as she answered, "Likewise."
      She paused, hesitating, turning to see the X-Men watching with their
      mouths hanging open.

      Her eyes lingered on the face of one red-eyed Cajun in particular, who
      was staring at her as if he was seeing a ghost, but her attention was
      quickly diverted when a groan came from Rogue.

      Her eyes locked on Jean's and both women ran forward, moving past the
      hollowed looking form of Augustus, and picking up Rogue, cradling her
      gently between the two of them.

      Rogue looked tired, worn, half dead.

      Her eyes opened, and upon seeing them, Jean swallowed, dread flooding
      through her. They were completely violet.

      But Rogue gave only a familiar smile, and in a familiar drawl
      whispered, "Did we win?"

      Ororo smiled gently, fingertips running over Rogue's mane,
      disentangling the white locks from the dark browns ones. "Yes."

      "Yes, Rogue," Jean added, her eyes moistened slightly. "The game's
      lost."

      Rogue gave her a weak smile. "Is Logan okay?"

      "Yes."

      "Good." Her eyes closed briefly, and in a weak voice she added, "I like
      it when Ah'm right."

      Leaves crunched behind her and Jean looked up.

      Logan stared down at them, his face oddly void of expression, eyes
      locked on Rogue's. His body was trembling.

      "Marie?"

      Rogue was completely still, but Jean moved, letting Logan kneel down in
      her place, carefully gather the fallen women's body in his strong arms,
      pulling her closer.

      "Marie?"

      She could hear Storm holding her breath beside her, and never realized
      she was holding her own until Rogue burst into tears, burying herself
      in Logan's arms.

      Her heart lurched at the sound. It was painful, so very painful. The
      sobs were from the heart, as Rogue's entire body convulsed with them,
      her eyes closed as she kept her face buried in Logan's shoulder.

      "Logan," she barely heard. "Logan, Ah'm sorry."

      "Shh.." His voice was raw, and Jean could see he had trouble speaking
      by the way he swallowed, the way his mouth trembled and his eyes
      moistened as he pressed his lips to her forehead, bringing her in
      closer, nose inhaling her scent, eyes closed, sliding his cheek roughly
      against hers, as if this moment was what he had been waiting for his
      entire life. "It's okay."

      "No... it's not... " Marie struggled for breath, and Jean stopped
      smiling when she saw Rogue's head fall back.

      And then Rogue promptly passed out.

      ~*~

      He watched her as she slept, fingers reaching out every once in a while
      to run fingers through the strands of her hair that lay pillowed about
      her.

      Her wounds hadn't been serious. Jean had told him that she had been
      more exhausted than hurt, and explained that it was better for all of
      them if Rogue slept.

      She had been asleep for three days, but there was no dreams, no
      nightmares. Every so often her hands twitched or her eyelids fluttered,
      but that was it.

      He knew. He hadn't left her side for more than five minutes from the
      second she was brought in.

      His heart seemed constantly in his throat, and while the others still
      seemed weary, shocked, and more than a little confused, Logan never
      questioned it, never questioned the absolution, or Storm's
      reappearance, even though he had seen her killed before his very eyes.

      All he could think about, all he could concentrate on, was the sleeping
      young woman in the infirmary, with the dark purple eyes that, according
      to Jean, were now her permanent eye color.

      She had absorbed the sick bastard, and Logan's heart was caged with
      worry at what it would do to her.

      He reached forward, taking a gloved palm in his own, pressing it to his
      lips, closing his eyes and just inhaling.

      What he did know, was that there was no way, no how, he was letting her
      go again.

      A deep breath in made his eyes look up.

      Rogue's eyes were wide open, dark purple orbs staring at him, her chest
      heaving back.

      He felt the emotion clog his throat, the love threaten to overwhelm
      him, but he forced himself to stay in his chair, to merely smile,
      keeping her palm enclosed in his as he said gruffly, "Mornin'."

      "Hey, Logan," she whispered, eyes closing again as she attempted to
      gain her bearings, moving back to focus her eyes on him.

      She gazed at him, eyes roaming over him as is he were some sacred
      object that she had been searching for her whole life and had only just
      found.

      Her eyes flooded with tears and her smile trembled as he pressed her
      palm to his face again, mouth pressing against the gloved hand, eyes
      closed in reverence.

      "God, I missed you," she whispered, the digits under his lips opening
      to cup his face lovingly.

      "Same here."

      She nodded, swallowing. "Did Jean and Storm tell you what happened? Ah
      mean... I'm sure everyone's kinda confused..."

      He gave a snort. That was an understatement. "They're more than
      confused, Rogue. Jean said that we had to wait... until you're better.
      You'll explain it better than they could, they don't know half of it
      themselves."

      She managed a small smile. "I did... ask them to take a lot on faith."
      Her smile faltered as she looked at him, and he wondered if he could
      see the wounds in his eyes because her eyes watered again and she
      whispered, "I'm sorry."

      The lump came to his throat and he shook it away, grunting. "Marie,
      that wasn't-"

      "I shouldn't have left you that night. But I couldn't wait... if I had
      waited I wouldn't have been able to leave..."

      His vision blurred suddenly as he remembered that night, but Logan
      didn't cry. He never cried. Instead he only gave a tight smile and
      shook his head again.

      "You were fighting a mad man."

      "No," she whispered. "Ah was fighting me."

      Silence followed that statement, and slowly, gritting her teeth, Rogue
      pulled her hand away from him, using it to pull herself up. He
      immediately stood, hands slipping around her waist to steady her as she
      sat up.

      "Wow," she whispered. "That was... dizzy." With a frown, she looked
      down to the gloves on her hands. "What're these for?"

      His eyes narrowed, his answer clipped. "Jean wasn't sure... she wanted
      to keep them there... just in case."

      "Oh." She nodded matter-of-factly, but immediately pulled them off. "He
      taught me to control it."

      "He?"

      Her violet orbs met his and Logan felt his body shudder with rage. Him.


      "Marie..." he said after a minute, swallowing. "He... did you... "

      Her bare arm on his flannel covered forearm stopped his stammering,
      sliding up his chest to bring his chin down so that his eyes had no
      place to go but to her face.

      "Hey. He doesn't matter. Not anymore. I had to... Logan... he thought I
      was his destiny. He had no idea he was mine." He cocked his head, not
      quiet understanding until Rogue reached up, and gently brushed her lips
      with his.

      The warmth of her lips against his shot a bolt right through him, and
      when her mouth opened and her tongue gently licked his bottom lip, he
      groaned, pulling her closer to him, his beating heart matching hers in
      intensity, body trembling from the contact.

      She held him, lips breaking free, in a desperate embrace. He felt the
      moisture of her tears on his neck but he said nothing, just held her,
      inhaling her scene, inhaling all of her.

      "I love you," she whispered. "You're my heart, Logan."

      He squeezed tighter, and her lips brushed against his outer before
      whispering in a saucy tone, "'Sides, I've dealt with bigger bastards in
      my head before. Do you know how long it took for the urge to scratch my
      non-existent balls went away after you?"

      His eyes opened in shock, and he pulled back slightly to look at her.

      Her expression was playful, wicked, and her smirk held just a trace of
      the child he once knew.

      But it was a trace, and it was enough.

      She winked, and he found himself laughing, the first time in weeks,
      pulling her closer and just holding her.

      "I love you," he whispered. "I'm never, letting you go again."

      "I won't let you."

      ~*~

      Storm stepped into the room where the X-Men had gathered. Once again
      she felt the stares, the looks that told her they couldn't believe it.

      She had made the agreement with Jean not to explain her absence and
      'death' until Rogue awoke, so as to not tell the story two hundred
      different times, and truth be told, she was glad.

      It was nice, she had to admit, if not a little disconcerting, as the
      X-Men worked to rebuild the damage that had been done to the school, to
      be pulled into impulsive hugs and to have children burst into tears and
      jump into her lap.

      Eyes were misty when they saw her, but no eyes bothered her more than
      the blank stares of the Cajun that held her heart.

      She had been unsure what to say to him, what to do. She had felt his
      turmoil... his anger, maybe, at being tricked, stemming from the fact
      that he had been there when Rogue and Storm had carried out the plan.

      It had more than broken her heart when she heard Gambit crying above
      her, but heaviness of the deep sleep was too heavy to fight.

      He had stayed away from her, always in sight, but never coming near,
      and her body trembled and her eyes misted slightly with awareness of
      the fact that she couldn't talk to him, not yet.

      What could she say?

      I'm sorry I tricked you into thinking I was dead? Into thinking Rogue
      had killed me? I'm sorry I broke your heart twice?

      Her eyes landed on him now, and once again the shuddering in her heart
      started as his eyes locked with hers.

      She swallowed, taking a breath, sat down next to Jean, earning a
      sympathetic smile from the telepathic mutant.

      Charles was seated next to Jean, face paler, thinner than he was
      before, but smiling, eyes alert and awake.

      The other X-men wore mixed expressions, and Storm saw the reason as
      Rogue walked in, hand clasped with Logan's, walking hesitantly into the
      room.

      She saw Jubilee avert her eyes immediately, saw Kitty shudder once, saw
      Bobby and St. John look away.

      She also saw the sad expression that had flicked over Rogue's features
      for two seconds before she had pushed it away.

      Jean cleared her throat, motioning for Rogue to sit.

      "We owe you an explanation," she addressed the group. "That's why we're
      here."

      There was silence again, and Rogue straightened, nodded as Jean looked
      at her. "I know ya'll are pretty confused... and I'm sorry. I never
      meant to suck you guys inta this. At the last battle, I met Augustus on
      a rooftop. He touched me, and he told I was his destiny." Her voice was
      soft, gentle, but oddly firm. "Ah didn't believe him, but the touch
      branded me, changed me, and later, when I went to go look for Bobby and
      Logan, Ah was so screwed up in the head... I could have sworn I saw
      Bobby bleedin' from three claw makes in his chest. I thought Logan had
      done... and I lost it." She paused, lips trembling slightly, before
      taking a breath and continuing. "When I realized what I had done, when
      all the murkiness had gone away, I had to leave... I was a danger to a
      group and I had almost killed him." Logan's hand tightened around hers.


      "I don't want to go into to much, but Augustus found and there was this
      spell... and he was in my head at the same time... as I was in his... I
      learned things from him... I learned how to ... I never planned on
      hurting any of you. He... had Storm... and..."

      "Rogue knew that she had to play Augustus' game in order to defeat
      him," Storm broke in gently. Rogue smiled a gentle thanks, and Storm
      nodded back, continuing. "She knew that only she could keep him from
      coming after us, was to learn from him, all she could, and use that
      against him. When she came back to him, she and I formed a plan. She
      had learned how Augustus had used Bobby against her, and she decided to
      turn it around, use it against him, make him believe the she really
      accepted her destiny... with him. She had to cloud his judgment. She
      had to make him love her to keep him from destroying her."

      Jean cleared her throat. "That original plan was to kill the body and
      take the mind. Rogue manipulated him into thinking he needed the body
      as well."

      Kitty raised an eyebrow, but Rogue only took a breath.

      "Storm's death, we staged for HIS benefit. We had no idea Remy and
      Logan were there until it was too late."

      Storm watched as Remy shifted in his seat, and her eyes were only on
      him as she continued. "I was originally supposed to 'die' to get out,
      and then I was supposed to go back to the camp, warn you all, and
      convince Jean to help Rogue. But when Remy and Logan came... that kind
      of threw a wrench in the whole thing."

      "We had to go through with it. He was watchin'... I'm sorry," Rogue
      said again. "I really did not.. you're weren't supposed to know."

      "What did you need Jean's help for?" Jubilee asked.

      Rogue swallowed, looked to Jean, who simply nodded, fielding the
      question. "Rogue wasn't strong enough, she was too weakened to fight
      him off herself. She needed me give her the stability she needed to
      push him out of her body and then suck him back in. That was why she
      convinced him to come here."

      "At the same time, you all had assumed wrong," Storm said, a faint
      trace of a smirk on her face. "I tried to keep you guys from leaving
      long enough to take you with me."

      Bobby gasped and St. John's eyes widened. "Those were YOUR winds
      holding us back?"

      She shrugged. "Apparently they weren't strong enough. I had a hell of a
      long flight back home."

      "Okay," Jubilee's hand rose slightly, the glasses slid from her face as
      she leaned forward. "You know, this explains a lot, but it still
      doesn't explain why Rogue beat us up and why she creeped the living
      hell out of us."

      "Well I couldn't just COME OUT and say I was trying to beat him, could
      I? I mean I had to be semi convincing and considering I had a psycho in
      my head you're lucky I didn't kill you!"

      "Rogue," Jean warned, and Rogue flushed, leaning back. "Rogue kept the
      game was lost, to let her go. She was trying to warn us, that she had
      him beat, and didn't want us to interfere."

      Rogue nodded.

      "Ohhhh..."

      "I know that a lot of you don't trust me... and I don't blame you. But
      I've got Augustus contained. His powers... they're under my control."

      "So you can do all that wind shit.. and the touching thing?"

      "I can flip it back on and off. He was wizard. It's just spells."

      "But you know them all."

      "Yes."

      "You're right, it is gonna be kinda scary for a while."

      Rogue conceded with a slight smirk and Jean shook her head, getting up.


      "I think that explains it for now. If anyone has questions, they can
      direct them to Rogue later. For now I suggest we get lunch."

      Murmurs filled the room as chairs were pushed back. Rogue shot Jean a
      grateful look and Jean only smiled as she whispered to Storm, "This is
      going to be interesting."

      Ororo smiled back, pushing her chair back in and walking toward the
      doorway, keeping her eyes purposely away from Remy's body as she walked
      down the hall to her classroom.

      She sat down at the chair, took a deep breath, and leaned over the
      desk, sliding her fingers in her long white hair, trembling slightly.

      "So that... dying thing. Was not for me, no?"

      Her hands jerked away from her face, as her eyes riveted on the Cajun,
      leaning against the doorway.

      "No, it wasn't for you," she said softly. "It almost killed me that you
      had to go through that. I'm sorry."

      He nodded, hands crossed over his chest as he walked into the room,
      eyes on the floor, studying it curiously.

      "So... Remy go charging in like a big ole' man and get his heart
      broken, non?"

      "Non." She smiled in spite of herself. "Not if I could help it."

      He paused in the middle of the room, watching her with those beautiful
      flaming red eyes. "Curious thing. When I saw you... I didn't just
      thought I had lost my best friend, Cherie. I had lost you." His voice
      was oddly choked, and Storm felt her hands clench uncertainly.
      "Somethin' in here. It die, mon ami."

      Her eyes flooded with tears as she stood, "Oh, Remy. I am sorry." Her
      body seemed trapped in limbo, part of her wanting to wrap her arms
      around him, the other scared to, unsure.

      He swallowed, cocking his head. "So... you love me, eh?"

      She snorted slightly, eyes widening in surprise. "What?"

      "You love Remy, eh? Ole' manly man too much for you? Couldn't resist,
      no?"

      "What?!"

      "Eh. Knew it would happen sooner or later."

      "Pardon?"

      "Remy is all man, mon ami."

      Her eyebrow rose, crossing her arms as she gazed at him evenly.
      "Listen, you scar faced thief, I would never-" She was cut off when he
      rapidly crossed the desk, hauled her against him, and pinned her
      against the wall, bringing his lips down on hers roughly.

      Her eyes widened in surprise, but when the kiss continued, she found
      the arguments turning into a moan, eyes closing when the rough,
      sandpaper chin glided against hers, when he tongue ventured into her
      lips, she sighed.

      When his hands lightly skimmed a breast, her eyes shot wide open.

      "Remy-" the words died in her throat when she saw the intensity in the
      dark red eyes. Oh God... the stare burned.

      "I love you, Stormy," he whispered, fingers cradling her face. "I love
      you."

      Her heart pitter pattered, her chest heaved against him, and Storm
      realized that it was completely hopeless.

      "Remy," she whispered, smiling into his lips, her calf sliding aro<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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