FIC: Past Forward (6/15) PG-13
- Past Forward - Jamie (madjm@...)
Disclaimer, etc., with prologue
As a child, Jean had fantasized about joining Alice through the looking
glass. For years, she couldn't pass by a mirror without sliding a hand
gently across the surface, sure that eventually she would find one mirror
that was a portal into another world. A world of adventure and excitement
The reality wasn't nearly as pleasant as the fantasy.
Physically, she was fine, after a bout of dizziness and nausea, but she
couldn't seem to shake the feeling of *wrongness*. It pressed in on her
mind, throbbing and nagging in her head. She hadn't mentioned her feelings
to Scott or Logan, but it was almost as though she were having a premonition
of danger, though she'd never experienced such a strong one before.
As she trudged through the boonies after Logan, she tried to dismiss it as a
looking glass hangover, but it lingered, whispering in a language she
couldn't understand. Jean sighed and glanced back at Scott, who sent her a
tired grin. The nausea had hit him harder than her, and she could tell by
looking that he wasn't over it.
"Logan," she said softly, repeating herself twice before he turned back.
Logan had experienced no nausea, no dizziness, either because of his healing
factor or because he was from this place. Either way, it was hard not to
resent how ... healthy he looked when she felt like she'd been run over by a
bus and Scott was a few minutes from the dry heaves again.
"What?" Logan was impatient. He'd barely been willing to wait for Jean and
Scott to recover from the trip here before he'd had them off and running. He
seemed to know where he was going; Jean only hoped that was really the case.
She didn't have the energy left to worry about it.
"We need to rest," she said in the firm I'm-the-adult-and-I-said-so voice
she used on the students when they got out of control.
She thought for a moment he would argue, but his eyes darted back to Scott,
and he finally nodded. "You two get some sleep," he said. "A couple hours.
I'll keep watch."
Jean wanted to ask what he was watching for, but she decided she didn't want
to know. And when Scott curled up next to her on the cold ground, an arm
lightly around her middle, she couldn't bring herself to push him away.
Enough was enough, Rogue thought. She was in a strange world. She'd gone
without sleep or real food, freezing her ass off and hiking half the night
even though her bare feet had gone beyond simple pain at this point. She'd
been chased by soldiers and essentially taken prisoner by a couple of young
girls. Now she had people shooting at her?
"You cowardly bastards, get out here and fight like men!" she shouted,
disregarding the danger and standing up, jamming her hands on her hips.
"*Rogue*," Jubilee gasped, tugging on her cloak like a little kid trying to
get mommy's attention.
Rogue scanned the area around the waterfall, halfway expecting another
volley of arrows. As she noticed what might be a ledge high up and to the
left of the waterfall, it finally registered that Risa was laughing behind
"Nice shots, Thomas, Phillip," Risa called. "But I believe you have been
challenged to a fight!"
Sure enough, a man's head poked through the wall of leaves around the ledge.
He grinned down at them. "We are on duty right now, Risa Battim. Perhaps
"You two, hush," Celeste hissed. "Have you forgotten who may be following
Rogue rolled her eyes as Celeste and Risa started to argue again. At this
rate, she'd be 30 before they ever got to meet the mysterious Sidre.
"Ladies?" she said loudly.
Risa grinned. "I am sorry, Rogue. We love to argue so, sometimes we forget
ourselves. It is this way."
Rogue exchanged a glance with Jubilee as Risa vanished into a thicket of
leaves below the ledge. The girls sighed in unison and followed. If she made
it through this adventure without poison ivy, Rogue thought, it would be a
Behind the cluster of leaves, a sturdy-looking rope ladder took them to the
hidden ledge. It was wider than Rogue had imagined, with plenty of room for
the two young men and several bags of supplies.
The man who had yelled at Risa grinned at the girls, who hadn't quite
realized the power of his smile from below. He had an angel's face, with
blond curls and blue eyes to match. Something about his grin suggested that
there was a little devil in him as well. Before he could say a word, Celeste
smacked him on the arm. "Are you here to flirt or to keep watch?" she asked.
The man's grin widened. "Jealous, Celeste?" he laughed. "You should know my
heart belongs only to you."
"In your dreams, rat," Celeste snapped, but Rogue noted with interest that
she was blushing. Jubilee smirked.
"I think she likes you, too, Thomas," Risa said, laughing.
Celeste hustled them away from the men and further along the ledge. After a
few feet, it narrowed to half its previous width, but that still left plenty
of room to walk. A few more feet led them through a mist of water and under
the waterfall. Behind the waterfall, it was fairly dark and cool, but Rogue
had little trouble following Celeste. She suspected that passing through at
night would be another matter altogether, and yet she had the strange
feeling that she had already done so. Shaking off the deja vu, she followed
Celeste through a cavelike passage and out into a wooded area. A few minutes
of walking led them into the sun again.
This time, they came out into a wide-open field, and Celeste picked up
speed, charging through the grass. Apparently whatever enemies they were
expecting were nowhere to be found. Rogue followed, spotting a cluster of
buildings in the distance. She sighed silently. Maybe she could finally find
out where they were. And get something to wear on her feet.
She would die before she'd ever admit it in front of Celeste, but her feet
were bruised, cut and aching, and she wasn't even sure she could fit in her
shoes if she had them. The good news was, the pain in her knee had seemed to
work itself out rather than getting worse. Of course, who knew what would
happen if she stopped for any length of time?
As if she could read Rogue's mind, Jubilee came up beside her and threw an
arm around her shoulder. Rogue noticed that her friend was looking a little
tired, but she still had her usual exuberance around the edges. "I think
we're almost there, babe. I don't suppose they'll have a mall so we could
buy some clothes?"
Rogue laughed. "They seem like a pretty mall-less society."
"That's what I figured," Jubilee sighed. "How do they even survive?"
"It boggles the mind."
Less than 10 minutes later, they came upon the village. Risa had told them
it was called Fairfield, which seemed to fit. Now that they were closer,
Rogue could see that it was bigger than she had imagined. The buildings,
most of them made from stone, were lined along a dirt street that twisted
past clusters of trees. She couldn't see how far back they stretched. Dozens
of people walked the streets, along with several horses and a couple of
wagons. At their end of the street, a wider area made what looked like a
park. Smaller trees were arranged around the edges, and several wooden
benches were grouped in the center. A group of women wearing long dresses
waited for them there.
Rogue knew immediately which one was Sidre. She stood in the middle of the
group, taller by several inches than the other four women, silver-white hair
twisted into braids on her head. Her age would be impossible to gauge,
though something suggested that she possessed years of wisdom. She wore a
plain, brown dress and had her hands folded at her waist.
It wasn't her looks that convinced Rogue, however. There was an aura around
her. Even standing perfectly still, just watching them, she had presence. A
charisma. The feeling that this was the person In Charge.
Jubilee came to the same conclusion. Practically hopping, she jumped to a
place in front of the woman. "You're Sidre, yes? I'm Jubilee. This is Rogue.
We came through a mirror, of all things. We're starving, and tired, and we
need some clothes, and we would like to know where we are." She paused and
glanced back at Rogue, who shrugged. "Please," she added.
The woman smiled, and Rogue felt like the sun had increased by half. She
reached out a hand and ran it down Jubilee's arm before moving to Rogue.
"You are late," she said, still smiling. "Where is your guardian?"
"My ... guardian?" Rogue looked at Jubilee. "I ... ah. Well, the professor
*was* my guardian, but I'm 21 now, so ..."
Sidre stopped smiling, and Rogue felt like a kid who'd disappointed her
mother. She hated that feeling. "Where is this place? What the hell am I
doing here, anyway?"
The older woman looked surprised, and Rogue had the feeling that was a rare
event. Before Rogue could ask anything else, however, Celeste spoke.
"She cannot control her Gift, either," the blonde said, wisely keeping her
personal feelings on the subject out of her voice. Rogue suspected that
Sidre knew her feelings, anyway.
Sidre sighed, and for a moment Rogue saw her as older than she had
suspected. "Celeste, your parents are waiting for you," she said finally.
"And Risa, I know your brother will be happy you are back."
"Hmmph," Risa said. "Alyn no doubt has his head stuck in another book." Her
voice sounded annoyed, but the look on her face said otherwise. There was
nothing but love on her face, and with a quick squeeze of Rogue's
cloak-covered arm, she raced off into the village. Celeste followed more
slowly, casting a glance back their way before disappearing down the street.
Bitch probably wanted to hear how disappointed this Sidre was in Inadequate
Rogue. Well, Rogue never asked to come to this freaky place, and she was
sorely regretting that she hadn't returned home as soon as she woke up.
Jubilee was right, they should have gone back for help.
"Are you finished?" Sidre asked politely.
"Feeling sorry for yourself." Sidre raised an eyebrow at her, just like
Logan would do. The thought made her angry.
"Excuse me?" Rogue growled. "I have no idea where I am. I'm cold and tired.
My feet are killing me, I'm wearing my freaking pajamas and everyone seems
to be harping on the fact that I can't control my skin. A fact of which I am
well aware. If I seem a little upset, Get. Over. It."
"That's better," Sidre said, nodding. "Angry is better than pathetic."
"Path--" Rogue started to object, but Sidre turned away from her and
motioned to the youngest-looking of the four women, probably in her 30s,
standing by. "Abby, please take Jubilee to my house for a bath. See if you
can find some clothing for her." For the first time, Sidre seemed to take in
her whole appearance, bunny slippers and all. "And shoes as well, please."
"Uh-uh," Jubilee said. "Sorry, lady, we girls stick together."
Sidre smiled. "Do not worry, Jubilee. I must take your friend ... Rogue ...
to our Healer before her feet become any worse."
"It's OK, Jubes," Rogue said softly. "I'm not going anywhere without you."
"Good. You're my one-way ticket home, babe," Jubilee said lightly. Though
she still looked worried, she allowed Abby to lead her away.
Sidre took Rogue's arm. "I know you have many questions," she said briskly.
"But they will have to wait. Once you have been Healed, I would imagine a
bath and a bed will keep you busy until I can find out what is going on."
Rogue was suddenly too tired to argue.
The Nightowl: http://www.geocities.com/panda_grrl2000