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FIC: Past Forward (9/15) PG-13

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  • Jamie Madigan
    Past Forward - Jamie (madjm@mac.com) Disclaimer, etc., with prologue 9 Jean Jean had lost track of how many days they d been traveling, but in the few moments
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 25, 2003
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      Past Forward - Jamie (madjm@...)
      Disclaimer, etc., with prologue


      9
      Jean

      Jean had lost track of how many days they'd been traveling, but in the few
      moments of sleep on the cold, hard ground she managed to catch each time
      they stopped, she dreamed of being stretched out on a big feather bed. With
      a bowl of chocolate beside her and a young Harrison Ford lookalike massaging
      her feet.

      They'd stopped days ago at a village, but Logan had been in such a hurry to
      press on that he'd only let them have a few hours of sleep at the inn. Since
      then, he'd barely allowed 10 minutes here and there for them to rest. She
      knew he was worried about Rogue, and since she was worried as well, Jean
      didn't complain.

      Not out loud, anyway.

      From time to time, Scott would shoot her a little grin, and she knew he was
      picking up vibes from her, at the very least. Possibly entire words or
      phrases she was using to curse Logan as she plodded along. It kept her
      entertained.

      They'd finally made it to a place in the forest that Logan knew, and the
      knowledge of the place seemed to relax him. He allowed them at least four or
      five hours of sleep that night. The strange thing was, there were houses
      nearby, and Jean could feel people around them, but they saw no one. When
      she mentioned it to Logan, he wasn't concerned.

      "You won't see 'em unless they want you to," he said, his step not slowing.

      Jean looked at Scott, who shrugged. On impulse, she sent him a thought:
      *Great. A whole forest of Logans.*

      Scott grinned at her, and for a moment it was like nothing had changed. And
      she wanted so badly to go back to the way things used to be, but she told
      herself again that it was for the best. She was just doing what was best for
      Scott. With a sigh, she continued behind Logan.

      At first, she thought her eyes were playing tricks on her when she spotted
      Rogue. The younger woman looked terrific, with her hair cut to a chin-length
      bob and more color in her face than Jean had ever seen. She wore a dark
      green tunic and pants, and she was holding a bow and arrow. Another woman,
      tall and slim with short brown hair, stood beside Rogue, speaking too
      quietly for Jean to hear and waving her hand at a scarecrow across from the
      girls. The straw man was obviously being used as a target, since three
      arrows were already sticking out of its chest.

      Rogue nodded and drew the bow. Logan had stopped dead, watching, and Jean
      and Scott came up on either side.

      Rogue stared at the scarecrow, then muttered something and let the arrow
      fly. Straight into the trees to the far left of the target.

      "Shit," Rogue muttered, then laughed. "I'll maim someone this way. Probably
      someone on our side."

      The other girl laughed. "I think you are right, Your Highness."

      "Knock it off, Risa," Rogue said, shoving the bow back at her. "I told you
      not to call me that. Rogue. That's not too hard to remember, is it?"

      "Ro ... Ro ... what was that again?" The brunette laughed again and threw an
      arm around Rogue. "Well, Your Rogueness, I believe we may conclude after
      three days that you will never learn the bow quickly enough."

      "Sad but true."

      "Jubilee, however ..."

      Rogue sighed. "I know, I know."

      "She is excellent. She has a true gift." Risa let go of Rogue and went to
      pull the arrows out of the scarecrow, and Rogue followed her.

      Logan stood still. Jean couldn't believe that neither girl had noticed their
      presence. Especially Rogue. She usually had a Logan Radar that was better
      than anything the Pentagon could cook up.

      Rogue groaned. "Don't remind me."

      Risa laughed again. "I am sure she reminds you often enough."

      "You have no idea."

      "You know," Risa said slowly. "You could ask Celeste to teach you to fight
      with the knife. I have a feeling you would do well with one. After all, you
      and your cousin are much alike."

      "Oh, now you're asking for a fight," Rogue said, jokingly. Then she froze,
      pausing only a moment before turning to face the three onlookers. She placed
      her hands on her hips and raised an eyebrow at them. "It took y'all long
      enough to get here."

      Jean waited for Logan to answer, but when he didn't say a word, she spoke
      up. "We were taking the scenic route," she said lightly. "How are you? And
      Jubilee?"

      "We're great," Rogue answered. If she was surprised to see them, she didn't
      show it. "We'd better get to the inn. Sidre's waiting."

      Rogue's eyes lingered on Logan for a moment. "You remember Sidre, Logan?"

      "How could I forget?" he replied, his voice low.

      Rogue glanced back at Risa, who was watching them, her expression neutral.
      "Well, you're late, and she's mad."

      Logan sighed. "Shit."

      ***

      A bath and a short nap put Jean in a much better frame of mind. The idea
      that they were going to get answers soon also helped. In the brief moments
      she'd had to meet Sidre, she sensed that she was going to like the woman.
      After all, anyone who could get Logan to call her "ma'am" was just too
      interesting not to like.

      Jean thought about changing into her only decently clean pair of jeans but
      opted for the deep brown cotton dress that someone had laid out beside her
      bed. The dress was simple in design and showed off her figure. Not that she
      was dressing up for anyone, even though Scott had promised to save her a
      seat at dinner.

      She sighed, wondering when she'd developed multiple personalities. She
      really wasn't trying to play games with Scott, but it was easier to talk
      herself into doing the right thing when she wasn't with him 24 hours a day.
      Plus, the little voice in the back of her mind telling her that she was
      handling this wrong just kept getting louder.

      She quickly french-braided her hair to keep it out of her face and pulled on
      the pair of soft leather boots that had also been left for her. They fit
      perfectly, just like the dress. Someone had a good eye, and she was betting
      it was Sidre.

      Scott had, indeed, saved her a seat, and she took in his appearance with a
      grin. "I thought you'd be wearing tights or something," she teased.

      "Hey, I'd look great in tights," he protested. "But this is all they had in
      my size." He waved at the neat brown pants and white long-sleeved shirt.

      He looked great in whatever he wore, but Jean didn't say so.

      As she ate, Jean watched their group, which took up an entire table in the
      dining room. The tall girl, Risa, was laughing and poking at a young man
      next to her, obviously a relative. He, in turn, was smiling down at Jubilee
      on his other side. Jubes, as usual, was talking nonstop. She, like Rogue,
      looked somehow ... healthier ... for their time spent in this world. Maybe
      it was the exercise.

      Jean watched Jubilee lean closer to the young man and held back a grin.
      Maybe it wasn't only the exercise.

      Rogue sat next to a blond girl whose hair was done up in dozens of small
      braids. Rogue had explained that this girl, Celeste, was a cousin, and Jean
      could easily see the resemblance there. The blonde was sullenly staring at
      the tabletop as she ate, and Rogue couldn't seem to keep her eyes off Logan,
      who was talking with the owner of the inn, Sara.

      The woman was certainly beautiful, but Jean knew Logan's true interest in
      her was that Sara was his cousin, the last of his family left in this place.
      Rogue had been talking with Sidre when Jean and Scott witnessed their
      reunion.

      Jean was tempted to tell Rogue but decided that interference on her part
      wouldn't be welcomed, by Rogue or by Logan. They were obviously in love, but
      since Jean had had a slight psychotic episode and kissed Logan that day,
      Rogue had avoided her and Logan had been nagging her to make things right
      with Scott.

      Jean snuck a glance at Scott, remembering Jubilee's in-class summary of a
      Shakespeare play. "All Shakespeare is saying," the girl had declared, "is
      that love makes asses of us all. Or, you know, something like that."

      Jean couldn't have said it better herself.

      ***

      It was late, at least after midnight, by the time the group gathered again
      in the dining room. The tables were all cleared, and the other patrons were
      gone. The fire still burned bright, and Jean snagged a seat near its heat.

      Sidre was back from wherever she'd disappeared to earlier, and she spoke
      with Sara before the inn's owner vanished upstairs. Another short conference
      between Sidre and Rogue, and they were ready to begin.

      "OK," Rogue said briskly. "I'll start this. If anyone has questions, go
      ahead and interrupt me. We've got the dining room to ourselves for hours, if
      that's what it takes."

      Rogue scanned the group, and ran a hand through her now-shortened hair. "So.
      My name ... my *real* name, is Emmarie Rosa Danis Maron. But I still prefer
      Rogue. My parents were the king and queen of Sandoriel, and they were
      murdered when I was a month old. The one who's responsible for their deaths
      is my uncle, Deven. He's now the king."

      "Bastard," Logan muttered.

      Rogue ignored him. "The night my parents and my brother were killed, Sidre
      and Logan took me out of the palace and hid me from Deven. Sidre ... Sidre
      sees things in her dreams, and she saw the mirror-portal thingie in the
      cave. They took me to our world."

      Jean was concerned about Rogue. She was telling of bad things, horrible
      things, that happened to her and her family, but her voice was completely
      even, her face expressionless. Even if she couldn't remember her real
      parents, the thought of them being murdered should elicit some kind of
      emotion. Anger, sadness, fear. Instead, there was nothing.

      Sidre spoke up. "We came out of the portal into a big room filled with
      furniture and other things I did not recognize."

      "It was a warehouse," Logan added. "A place where they have auctions. It was
      in Mississippi. Sidre knew exactly where to take the baby ... Rogue. There
      was a couple who wanted kids but couldn't have them. Turns out, they didn't
      deserve to have kids, with the way they treated Mar--"

      "Logan," Rogue said sharply. Surprisingly, he shut up.

      "I returned home," Sidre said. "And Captain Logan was to remain in the area
      and keep watch over the princess."

      "I stayed," Logan said. "But when she got a little older, I started
      traveling a little. I was only gone for a few weeks, a month at a time. I
      worked odd jobs, did some fighting. One day, some military types grabbed me,
      and next thing I know, I'm waking up in the middle of nowhere with no
      memory."

      "When did you remember all this?" Rogue asked.

      "When you came through the mirror," he said. "I felt it somehow. And I
      remembered. Everything about my life."

      "Everything?" she smiled at him, the first expression she'd shown all night.
      "That's terrific."

      Time seemed to slow as he smiled back at her, and Jean felt herself holding
      her breath. There was the sense that everyone in the room was doing the
      same.

      After a moment, Rogue cleared her throat and shrugged. "So, that's it. Deven
      has to be stopped. I've got to do it, and anyone who wants to help is
      welcome. Sidre says we've got to get going on this. We're already late."

      "What's the big hurry?" Scott asked. "He took over years ago. Why does this
      have to happen now?"

      "He grows stronger every day," Sidre answered flatly. "He shares the same
      Gift as Rogue, but he uses it to steal the Gifts of others. He already has
      many more abilities than we can know."

      "How is that possible?" Jean asked. "Rogue has absorbed power from Logan
      before, but it goes away soon."

      Rogue cleared her throat again. "He kills the ones he steals power from.
      Sucks 'em dry, I guess. And then he gets to keep the power. Nice deal,
      huh?"

      "He uses his Gift in other ways," Celeste added, surprising Jean. The blonde
      had spent most of the evening staring at the table or into the fire. This
      was the first she'd even heard the girl's voice. "He uses it to create
      monsters."

      "The *donte*?" Rogue asked. "He made them? How?"

      "What's a *donte*?" Logan interrupted. "What's that mean? 'Shadow'
      something, in the old language?"

      "'Shadowed ones'," Sidre answered. "Deven has the loyalty of many of the
      Outsiders -- they call themselves Barenians now -- those born without Gifts.
      He proposes to bestow Gifts upon them, as if he were The One himself.
      Somehow he has managed turn his Gift the other way. As well as absorbing
      power, he can pass it on to others."

      "The *donte* are the first ones he has twisted with his power," Risa added.
      "They have the power of camouflage and excellent tracking abilities. They
      have been trained to kill only. But the process has made them incredibly
      loyal to Deven and single-minded in their purpose. They are not quite sane
      any longer. They are very dangerous."

      Everyone was quiet as they thought about what they'd heard. As the silence
      stretched on, Jean tried to process the information. It was a lot to think
      about, but the job of the X-Men was to fight evil, and it seemed there was
      someone who fit the bill right here. They would have to help Rogue, of
      course. Scott met her eyes, and even without her powers she could tell he
      was thinking the same thing.

      "If that is all," Sidre said finally, "I must ask the ladies to meet in my
      room."

      "One thing," Logan said. "Rogue's not fighting that guy. I'll kill the
      bastard myself."

      "Logan, you don't know what the hell you're talking about," Rogue snapped.
      "Sidre *saw* it. I can fight his way. I have to fight him. The end."

      "I don't care who saw what," he said angrily, standing up. "You are not
      fighting that guy. I won't allow it."

      "*Allow* it?" Rogue stood up, too. "It's not your business what I do. You
      have no say in it."

      "The hell with that! I'll tie your ass up and take you back through the damn
      mirror if that's what it takes to --"

      "Enough!" Sidre hissed. "Logan, you are neither young nor stupid. Please
      stop acting that way. You of all people should understand duty."

      Jean bit back a laugh as Logan flushed and actually shuffled his feet like a
      little kid being scolded. Scott didn't even bother holding back a chuckle.

      "Emmarie Rosa Danis Maron," Sidre turned to Rogue, who crossed her arms in
      front of her and glared back at Sidre. "You are a princess, not some common
      girl off the street. The proper response when one shows concern for you is
      *not* anger."

      Neither Rogue nor Logan answered her, and Sidre sighed. "This must be dealt
      with later. We have another matter to handle this evening. Ladies, my room.
      Gentlemen, goodnight."

      Jean looked at Scott, who shrugged, then followed Sidre up to her room. It
      should be interesting to see what other matter Sidre had in mind.


      Jamie
      ~*~
      The Nightowl: http://www.geocities.com/panda_grrl2000
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