FIC: Past Forward (3/15) PG-13
- Past Forward - Jamie (madjm@...)
Disclaimer, etc., with prologue
Note: I'm numerically challenged, and I just realized there are actually 15
parts (plus prologue and epilogue), which only confirms what I suspected:
This is a long-ass story! :-)
She woke to cold feet on a rough stone surface.
Rogue opened her eyes, taking in the dim surroundings. She rubbed a hand
over her eyes, but it still looked as though she was in a cave of some kind.
To her right was inky blackness, but there was enough light coming from the
mouth of the cave for her to see.
She felt cold, and slightly sick to her stomach. Leaning over, hands on her
thighs, she took a few deep breaths and wondered how on earth she'd managed
to get here.
It must have been the sleepwalking again. She supposed that as soon as the
Professor got back, she was going to have to talk to him about it.
But that was later in the week. Now the problem was how to find her way back
to the mansion. Her bare feet weren't sore at all, just cold, so she doubted
she'd come far through the woods. But in which direction?
There was a slight sound from behind her, like the muffled sound of a
zipper, and someone -- something? -- crashed into her from behind, throwing
her to the ground. Tears bloomed in her eyes as one knee banged against the
stone floor and her palms scraped the rock.
Automatically, Rogue rolled to her feet, slipping into a fighting stance.
Staring up at her from the ground was Jubilee, eyes wide.
Rogue relaxed, unclenching her fists and dropping her arms to her sides,
rubbing the sore palms against her pants. "What'd you do that for?"
"What?" Jubilee just sat there, looking stunned.
"You knocked me down," Rogue complained, wincing at the pain in her knee.
"I -- um. The mirror."
"Well, that clears it right up," Rogue snapped. "What the hell are we doing
Jubilee got to her feet slowly. She, Rogue noted sourly, didn't appear to be
injured. Apparently Rogue had broken her fall. Though she did look a little
"I'm going to -- ugh," Jubes croaked, rushing into the dark part of the cave
before emptying her stomach.
Rogue sighed and rubbed at her knee. Maybe she'd hit her head when she fell.
There was something going on, and Jubilee appeared as confused as she was.
Was there such a thing as group sleepwalking?
"Jubes?" Rogue walked in the general direction of her friend's groaning.
"You OK? I'm sorry I snapped at you."
She could barely make out Jubilee in the dark. She seemed to be kneeling on
the ground, head down. "Hon," Rogue reached out, stopping short of touching
her friend. Her gloves. She'd wandered off without them. If this kept up,
she was going to have to start sleeping in the damn things.
"I'm OK," Jubilee said, lifting her head. "Could really use a breath mint
about now, though."
Rogue shrugged. "I'm fresh out."
Jubilee got to her feet, and they headed toward the entrance of the cave.
"Where are we?"
Rogue stopped. "I thought you knew. Wasn't I sleepwalking?"
"Uh, yeah, and then you pulled an Alice in Wonderland on me," Jubilee
cracked, her voice stronger.
"I was following you," Jubilee said, shrugging. "You went downstairs, into
"I used the elevator in my sleep?" Rogue rubbed at her head again. She must
have brain damage or something.
"No," Jubes said impatiently. "The basement-basement. It must be next to the
secret X-men level or something. I didn't know it was there. It's for
storage, I guess."
Rogue looked around the cave. Obviously she was missing something. "And it
connects to this cave?"
Jubilee sighed. "No, babe, you're not listening to me. There was a huge-ass
mirror down there, and you ... we went through it."
"We ... went through ... a mirror." Ah. Alice in Wonderland. Contrary to
popular opinion, Jubilee almost always made sense. Sometimes that sense just
took a little while to reveal itself. Still ... "A mirror? Jubes, I don't
mean to be rude, but are you on drugs or something?"
"Hey, you're the one who started this whole thing," Jubilee said
indignantly. "I'm just trying to look out for you, and you're going through
freaking *mirrors*, and it feels like thick, warm ... something. Ugh. I
will never get over how creepy that was. You don't remember any of this?"
"Maybe we'd better get back home," Rogue said slowly. Someone was crazy
here, she just wasn't sure which one of them needed the straitjacket and
"Sure," Jubes said. "How?"
"Well," Rogue pointed toward the entrance. "Maybe we'll see our path and be
able to re-trace it."
"Our path wasn't that way," Jubes said, pointing to the spot where Rogue had
woken. "We came from there. I came from *behind* you, remember?"
"Well ..." Rogue frowned, walking to the side of the cave. There was an odd
look to part of the stone. It was a rectangle-shaped section, in a slightly
darker color. There were odd symbols carved along the edge of the section.
Cautiously, she ran her fingertips along the stone.
Instantly, the symbols began to glow, and the stone changed consistency. It
felt like it was melting at her touch. Startled, she yanked her hand back.
"What the hell is going on?"
To her credit, the words "I told you so" didn't pass Jubilee's lips. "I wish
I knew. I mean, I'm up for adventure and everything, but this is a little
different than sneaking out of the mansion to go to a rave, you know? We'd
better get back."
Rogue shot a glance at the cave entrance again. Who knew what they would
find out there? She had the strongest feeling of deja vu, and an odd
tickling at the back of her mind. She almost knew why she had come here, but
the reason slipped away from her before she could get hold of it. Maybe if
she just took a quick peek outside, then returned to the mansion to get
help. Logan would ...
Logan would probably be with Jean. Damn it. Damn him. She could investigate
this on her own. She couldn't depend on Logan to do everything ... anything
for her anymore.
"I'm checking it out," she told Jubilee. "I want to know why I came here.
But you should go back home."
"I'm not leaving you," Jubilee said, jamming her hands on her hips. "And I'm
not going back through that thing by myself."
"But you're sick --"
"I'm not sick," she argued. "I think that trip through the looking glass
disagreed with me."
"OK," Rogue nodded. Maybe it was selfish, but she really didn't want to go
by herself anyway.
They crept toward the entrance, neither sure why they were trying to be
quiet. They'd been talking in normal tones all along; if anyone was outside
it was probably obvious by now that someone was in the cave.
The light was bright compared to the dim interior of the cave, but Rogue
noticed it was cloudy outside. And cold. Wherever they were, it sure didn't
feel like summer. She shivered and ran her hands up her arms. Poor Jubilee
was wearing shorts, but she didn't seem to notice the cold.
While Rogue hung back at the cave entrance, Jubilee wandered out into the
clearing in front of them. The remains of a fire in the middle of the
clearing and the condition of the ground indicated that someone had been
camping there, but Rogue couldn't tell how long ago.
Strangely reluctant, she followed Jubilee outside, heading for the burned
logs. She kneeled down in front of them, placing her hand a few inches away
from the pile. She could still feel their warmth.
"This fire hasn't been out for long," she said quietly.
Rogue got to her feet and turned, shifting into fighting stance again as she
saw the stranger holding a long knife on Jubilee.
It was a girl in her late teens or early twenties, wearing a plain brown
dress over her slim frame, with some kind of purse or bag slung over her
shoulder. A belt held a sheath for her knife, and another knife was sheathed
on the opposite hip. Her long blond hair was twisted into dozens of small
braids, and her eyes darted between Jubilee and Rogue. Rogue thought she
would be pretty, but at the moment she was scowling. Not an attractive look
for her, Rogue thought critically.
"Step back," the girl said evenly, pointing the knife at Jubilee. Rogue
noted that she seemed quite comfortable holding the knife. "Stand by your
Rogue noted Blondie's eyes dart from side to side, clearly looking for
someone. She watched as Jubilee backed toward her. She knew she could take
the blonde, no problem, but she wasn't sure who else was around. Still, it
was better to take out one of them if she could.
"Do not try anything," Blondie said sharply, drawing her second knife. "You
would be dead before you took a step."
Rogue exchanged a look with Jubilee.
"Settle down, Barbie," Jubilee said. "If you make me nervous you might be
swallowing sparks here in a minute."
A brief look of confusion crossed the blonde's face before it hardened
again. "I will have your names," she said. Rogue couldn't quite identify her
Her mind was turning over various escape methods, but she answered calmly.
"Rogue." Blondie nodded and turned to Jubilee. "Name."
A woman of few words, Rogue thought. She should meet Logan. But he didn't
seem that interested in blondes. Redheads were more his speed. She sighed.
Even under knifepoint she couldn't stop thinking about the man. She needed
therapy or something.
"Xena," Jubilee said. "Warrior Princess."
Rogue swallowed a laugh as Blondie looked Jubilee up and down, from her dark
hair, over her Tweety Bird T-shirt and plaid boxer shorts, finally settling
for a moment on the purple bunny slippers. "You do not look like a warrior
to me," she said arrogantly.
"Looks can be deceiving," Jubilee said. "For example, you look pretty tough,
but I don't think you can stop us from taking those knives away from you."
A grin crept across the blonde's face. Rogue felt a tug of familiarity.
This girl reminded her of someone she knew, but who?
"Would you like to try? I have not had a good fight in days."
Rogue was tempted. The blonde obviously needed a good ass-kicking to give
her some perspective. But maybe it would be better, after all, to get some
of the other X-Men before exploring this place.
"We'd love to," Rogue said breezily. "But we really need to get going." She
and Jubilee began to back toward the cave.
"Perhaps I could not get you with the knives," the blonde said calmly. "But
certainly my friend with the bow will kill you instead."
Spinning around, Rogue saw a second woman behind them. And she didn't look
happy at all to see them.
"Celeste, what are you doing?"
The tall, wiry young woman was glaring at Blondie, Celeste, apparently. She
did have a bow, with an arrow loosely held in one hand and a quiver tied
behind her like Robin Hood. In fact, she looked like she could be one of his
merry men in her dark green pants and tunic. Short brown hair was cut pixie
style, and the brown eyes were snapping at the moment.
"They came from the cave," Celeste said. Her sulky tone told Rogue she knew
she'd done something wrong, but she probably would never admit it.
The second woman's eyes widened as she took in their appearance. Obviously,
their pajamas weren't quite appropriate. Not to mention that they weren't
warm enough. It couldn't be warmer than 45 degrees.
"You are freezing," the brunette said, compassion warming her face. Shooting
another glare at Celeste, she disappeared through the trees and returned a
moment later carrying two dark gray woolen cloaks. "Take them, please," she
said, pushing them into their arms.
One bare hand came close to Rogue's skin, and Rogue jumped back.
The brunette had her bow drawn in an instant, eyes searching the clearing
for a threat of some kind.
"You can't touch my skin," Rogue explained hurriedly. She didn't like to
explain about her mutation, especially when she wasn't quite sure what was
going on. But she didn't want to take any chances of the nice one getting
hurt. She didn't trust that Celeste person at all. "It ... will hurt you.
Nobody can touch me."
The brunette looked confused. "This is your Gift?"
"My ... gift?" Rogue and Jubilee exchanged a glance. "Well, I guess you
could say that."
Celeste had moved to stand next to them. Rogue was relieved to see she'd
sheathed both knives. "You cannot control your Gift?" Celeste asked,
obviously disbelieving. Before Rogue could stop her, Celeste reached out and
grabbed her arm.
The usual tingle of her skin began, eagerly reaching for energy to absorb,
but it was as though something was blocking her power. Nothing happened.
Celeste let go of Rogue's arm. "She cannot control it," she laughed
mockingly. "She knows nothing."
The brunette sent a warning frown Celeste's way and carefully draped the
cloak over Rogue's shoulders. "It will be fine," she said reassuringly.
"Sidre will help you."
"She is too old to learn," Celeste objected.
"Sidre will help her," the brunette said confidently. She turned to Rogue
and Jubilee. "I am Risa. The charming one is Celeste. We have been waiting
for you for five days."
"We were about to leave," Celeste said.
Risa rolled her eyes. "One of us was. Then she was going to wish she had
never been born, when she returned home without what she came for."
"What --" Rogue cleared her throat. She was still reeling from the fact that
Celeste had touched her. She seemed to know more about Rogue's power than
Rogue did herself. "What did you come for?"
Risa glanced at Celeste before answering. "I believe we came for you."
The Nightowl: http://www.geocities.com/panda_grrl2000