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FIC: Past Forward (3/15) PG-13

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  • Jamie Madigan
    Past Forward - Jamie (madjm@mac.com) Disclaimer, etc., with prologue Note: I m numerically challenged, and I just realized there are actually 15 parts (plus
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 23, 2003
      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
      the basement."

      "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
      padded room.

      "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.

      "Um, Rogue?"

      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.
      "I'm Rogue."

      "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."

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