Title: The Splintering Touch -- Part 2|
Author: Melissa Flores
CHAPTER FIVE : IN WHICH THE DREAMS BEGIN
Her hand slid across the wood of the door, and Jean smiled gently at it, shaking her head as she pressed forward, opening it with a crack.
Inside the darkened room, she discovered the man she was married to slumped over the keyboard, his mouth open, snoring lightly.
A wave of tenderness spread over her, and she stilled, hesitant to wake him. He hadn't slept well in days, and to disturb the still figure seemed wrong somehow. But Storm's message sang well in her head, and she stepped forward, gently sitting on the chair beside him and shaking his form.
He mumbled slightly, stretching before, stirring, reaching up to rub at his eyes and then stopping when his fingers met the hardness of the lenses.
She smiled at him, her face tired, but still more awake that he appeared.
"How long was I out," he slurred, stretching to try and make the circulation in his body flow faster.
"I'm not sure," she responded, leaning across the monitor. "Did you and Bobby find anything?"
"Umm... yeah." He craned his neck, and then sat up straight, turning toward the monitor moving the mouse so the screen would like back up. "We found a trail of similar appearances, going up and down the Midwest. Last place was in Seattle." He blinked, and then said heavily. "But that was a week ago. Nothing since. It's like she disappeared."
Jean frowned, her eyebrows furrowing. "Storm said they went to that bar where the Dakota guy lived. She didn't give me any details about the incident but apparently Rogue has someone following her."
"What?" Scott's head swiveled, turning towards her. "The Feds?"
"I don't know. He said he wasn't with any agency. Just a man in search of destiny."
Scott blew his breath out, leaning against the chair. "So we've got someone else looking for Rogue, that isn't us... and isn't the government. Another mutant?"
"He denied being one."
"You got a name?" The pair turned to see Bobby in the doorway, his eyes dark with concern.
He nodded, sliding into the chair that Scott quickly vacated. "Anything else I can go on?"
Jean reached up, sliding a bang behind her ear before responding. "Violet eyes."
Scott stood behind the young mutant as he began to search the web.
"There's a problem," Scott said after a moment. Jean shot him a questioning look. "If he was there before our group was... then he has a head start. And if there hasn't been an incident since last week, then-"
"He might have Rogue," Jean breathed, realization coming to her immediately. "Dammit."
I'm here, Jean.
Did you get any of that?
Every word. Make sure Bobby finds that man. Tell Kitty, Jubilee, Hank, and Kyle to stand by to suit up. Scott needs to get the jet ready. I'll contact Storm.
We're going -
Rogue in ANYONE's hands is a very dangerous thing, Jean. She could be in a very big trouble, and we're running out of time.
Jean swallowed, and turned back to the two men, who were watching her curiously, a look of nervous agitation on both of their faces.
"Scott, get the jet ready. Bobby, FIND HIM." And with that, she stood, walking to the door, looking back, a swell of anxiety rising in her stomach up to her throat, before she swallowed it down. "Rogue's in trouble."
It had taken her two days to discover that the man she had become entwined with, emotionally, that is, was human.
He was not a God. He was a man.
And it had become a game. She could see it, he enjoyed the chase, knowing that practically every part of her body, with exception to her mind, was virgin to touch, to invasion. Every time his fingers brushed hers, her shoulders, her neck, he knew what he did to her.
He knew the lust. He knew the desire.
He wanted something from her. He wanted her to give in, to agree that her destiny was with him, would always be with him.
She would have by now, if she hadn't known what that had meant, if deep down in recesses of her heart, she wasn't prepared to let Logan go. To let Storm go. To let any of them go.
It was odd, really. She had left them, had sworn that in order to save them from herself, she had to stay as far away from them as she could. It had never occurred to her that they would just let her leave.
But she sensed them, in her mind, in Logan's presence.
But he was fading.
And this time, she didn't fight it.
Perhaps that was the most frightening thing of all.
She sat on her bed, the short slip sliding across her skin, across her thigh, making her remember that she wore nothing else.
No layers, nothing between her fingers and the silk of her bed but air.
Air. She closed her eyes, smiling softly, a smile that was neither happy nor sad, but simply there, as she leaned back, feeling the way the pillow gently cushioned her bare shoulders, the straps slipping down them.
Amazing how odd illusion was. How appearance changed everything. He appeared so dark, so majestic, and yet although she knew he could touch her, she knew he could kiss her and hold her, there was a part of her that was disgusted by the thought, even though everything in her screamed that this was what she was waiting for.
It was Logan, she knew. And every day now she was more confused if it was Logan that was putting up such a fight or herself entwined with him.
The fear was still there, in her heart, but it was no longer paralyzing, because Rogue had realized his game, and had started playing back.
Seduction was an odd thing. One look, one touch, the knowledge, the power.
She knew now how he could touch her. She had discovered it when he, so deep in his meditations had not noticed his "destiny" begin to explore, come up behind him, and place her hands on his bare back.
She had felt the life pull begin almost immediately, and apparently so had he because there was a curse and a chant and suddenly the life pull stopped, almost sucking what little she took from him back into her.
He had turned, his eyes wide, and insecurity in those violet eyes that she had never seen before. In a flash it was gone, replaced with the easy smile as he leaned forward, pressed a kiss to the collar of her neck, before she pulled away, still trembling from the episode, had stumbled back, fallen into a chair.
He had taken her hand and just smiled, acting as if nothing had happened.
But the little she had received had been enough. She had been given a small window in Augustus' mind and she knew now that he was right.
They were entwined. And her touch was evidence of that.
Magic. After all these years, the one thing that could save a person from her touch was magic.
And he was a master of that.
But there were no books, nothing but the incantations of mind. They only worked for him, personalized for years, it seemed, all for her.
He had been watching her for years, and the obsession and the desire had given way to something more. In his quest for power, he had found a soul who like his, was looking for a way to belong, for an intimate entwining.
He had the peace in his heart. The knowledge, and giving into him would mean she had power too.
The game would be lost. Rogue would lose.
She would lose and she would become a part of him. Even she wasn't quite sure exactly what would be done the moment she said yes to him, accepted his advances as if accepting a lover.
He wasn't asking for love. Her love would always be Logan's. Somehow even he knew he could not protect that.
He was asking for her mind.
And losing her mind, what she had worked so hard to keep, what she was on the verge of losing again and again... the thought was horrifying... frightening.
And so tempting. For peace... for power... for unity.
Marie... she sucked in her breath, closing her eyes, hearing the voice calling to her. Marie... remember who you are, remember what makes you happy.
Had she ever been truly happy?
Yes... when you were in my arms, Marie.
In his arms... If she could absorb Augustus, take his mind and his knowledge, would she achieve the blocking of touch? The spell he used could be used in her mind, and would she be able to touch Logan, if somehow... she could win?
She sighed raggedly, closing her eyes, feeling exhaustion coming over her.
Her mind was heavy, foggy, and sleep came quickly, as she moaned softly, her mind beckoning to the one man she loved, the one remnant of her past she fought so hard to keep.
Losing to Augustus would mean losing Logan. . .
Something was changing.
And he wasn't sure if he liked it.
Gambit had always identified himself with what he was, what he loved. He knew, he had loved Rogue.
No one had believed it, but then again, no one had really known him. It had been an acceptance in his heart, the moment he saw the soft eyed young woman, that she was the one person who was possibly as conflicted as he was, that together, they could have somehow put an end to the myriad of confusion.
He had known of the existence of Logan, but she rarely spoke of him, only wore the dog tags out of habit, or so he thought.
Once he had accepted that he loved Rogue, there was nothing else to do, other than pursue her. In the process he had become friends with her friends, found them to become real friends of his own, found that he belonged with the tightly wound X-men, because of who he was.
He was valuable, and they respected the Cajun thief, despite his past. Only one never seemed to be able to forgive him for it, to see past it, and he had always thought that it was because Storm never understood what life was like outside the shelter of the school.
How wrong he was.
It had taken this trip to see a different side of her, a wilder side that had always intrigued him in battle, a side that she fought to contain when she was out of uniform, that was leaking out now despite of herself.
It made him think he didn't know her at all.
And it made him want to get to know her... all of her.
He swallowed, turning his gaze away from the storm goddess as she turned in her sleep, sighing gently, her white hair spilling behind her in long waves.
She was a friend. A good friend, and she was beautiful, no one could argue that. She was also the next best thing to a nun. Never got involved with anyone and as unattainable as Rogue was, this one had always seemed ten times worse. An Ice Queen in every way.
Then why did he get the feeling that her eyes melted slightly every time they locked with his? Why did her hands slide almost lovingly across his stomach when she rode behind him in the motorcycle, and why did her face bury into the back of his coat, almost shuddering?
God, he was imagining things now.
He growled, a trait he had adopted from Logan, lying on his back as he looked toward the beast like man, who was on his haunches, staring into the fire.
Rogue's lover was an oddly complex man, and deceptively simple minded. Unlike the caged confusion that Remy seemed to fear when it came to matters of the heart, Logan seemed to have made up his mind pretty quickly.
Logan's love for Rogue was futile to fight; he knew that now.
He had known it the moment Logan had run to the back of the plane, taken Rogue into his arms, and told her he loved her.
He had seen the look in her eyes, the way they seemed to shine like he had never seen before, brilliant orbs of pure bliss, and love.
It hadn't mattered then that he had no chance.
It mattered like hell now. His eyes drifted to Storm's immobile body, and he leaned up, his voice a low whisper.
Logan didn't turn, but answered in a growl. "What, Frenchy."
"When did you know? That you loved Rogue."
Logan froze, and then turned slowly, his eyes flashing slightly. "You gettin' girly on me, Lefoo?"
Remy felt a swell of irritation slide through him, and he answered, "LeBeau, beastie. And no. I just... I need to know."
Logan's eyes bore into his, and then the man must have seen something in Remy's eyes, because he merely replied, "When she told me I was ripping her apart. Said I was only hurting her by trying to be with her. Realized I would never want that." He looked down, and Remy's eyebrow cocked when Logan chuckled grimly, pained emotion masked in his voice. "Guess I didn't do a great job of that. I hurt her anyway."
"Logan." Remy swallowed, shrugging. "I... She's happiest when she is with you. Dat counts for something, no?"
Logan didn't say anything for a long time. "You're the last person I'd expect to hear that from, Remy."
Remy. Not Frenchy, or Cajun Freak, or Red-Eye. He found himself chuckling grimly, and then shrugged. "I'll always love her, Logan. She's my little Cherie but..." he found his gaze involuntarily landing on Storm's quiet form.
"You've got the hots for Storm, don't you?" Logan asked frankly. Gambit gave a sheepish grin.
"I think dere might be something dere."
Logan didn't move, his gaze flickering over to Ororo, and he slowly shook his head. "She's got the body of a Goddess, alright."
"And a mind to match." Logan's gaze leveled with it. "You make sure you deserve her, Gambit. She's an amazing woman. She ain't no consolation prize."
And with that, Logan gave him one last glare, and rose, stomping on the cigar, putting it out and sliding into his bedroll. "Go to bed. I'm not going to spend ten minutes waking up your sorry ass like I did yesterday."
Gambit rolled his eyes and tossed him the finger, but the meaningless gesture was lost on Logan, who merely rolled over and started snoring almost immediately.
Gambit pursed his lips, and slipped out of his roll, found himself settling beside Storm's sleeping form.
His throat was full, his heart conflicted as he looked down at his friend, one hand stealing down to trace his palm down her face.
She stirred in her sleep, mumbling something before bringing up a hand to swat it away, catching his fingers and wrapping her hand around them.
She never did let go, and Gambit found himself smiling.
"I'm confused, Goddess," he whispered, his eyes bright as he stared at her. "For the first time in my life there's something I don't want to accept. Maybe you can help me, yes?"
There wasn't an answer, but the ebony woman slid closer, her head moving to cradle itself on his palm.
He felt something inside him tremor, and he didn't move for a long time.
The word shivered through her, and she felt herself moan in response. It was a tortured sound, and when it came, she felt the word again, louder, more resilient... sweeter.
Her eyes shot open, and suddenly she felt herself shift up, her heart beating so terribly when she saw who was sitting at the edge of the bed.
He was bare-chested, his hands as gentle as his face, as he smiled at her, a smile that she had never seen on him.
Her chest constricted, and tears came to her eyes, her hands coming up to cover them. "Oh, God, Logan."
"Shhh." He slid up, onto the bed, the springs shaking from his weight, and she shook her head fiercely, trying to move away.
"Logan, you can't, I'll not wearing anyt- I'll hurt you."
"No, Marie. It's okay." The voice was husky, and she felt her heart hammering when suddenly his broad hands were on her knees, sliding up to her thighs, the hands smooth and broad and possessive, his eyes never leaving hers. "You can't hurt me, Marie."
Her throat was full, her chest heaving as she looked down at his hands in surprise. "But Logan, Ah-"
"No... it's okay. You know what this is, don't you?" His eyes bore into hers, and the haze of it all finally seemed to register, as she swallowed and nodded.
"It's a ... a dream, isn't it."
"Yes, Marie. It's a dream." There was a low growl as she suddenly whimpered, and without another thought, she threw herself in his arms, tightening her hold around him, whimpering softly. His hands held her, stroking down her back, fingertips gently sliding across her hot skin, and she felt herself shudder as she buried her forehead into his neck, feeling the roughness of the stubble of the beard, breathing in his scent, shivering from the way she was touching him, holding him. The silk of her gown rustled softly as she pressed her chest against his, and for a moment all she could do was hold him as tightly to her as she could.
"Oh, God, Logan I missed you."
"I missed you too," was his hoarse reply, his hands gently sliding up to cup her face, pull her away from him slightly, studying her. A small smile slid onto his lips as his eyes roved down her body, shaking his head. "Look at you," he growled softly. "They've turned you into a vixen, Marie."
"Ah haven't changed, Logan." she whispered fiercely, her head shaking viciously. "You-"
"You're so beautiful," he whispered, his voice choked. "My little Marie."
She swallowed, and trembling, she leaned her head against his chest, sighing. "Logan, Ah don't know what to do... Ah don't know what to do-"
"You want us to be together, don't you?" She swallowed, and looked up, nodding, her eyes stained with tears. His eyes were soft, dark, tender as his fingers thumbed her full lips, making her sigh raggedly, tilted her head against the caress. "Then give in, Marie."
Her eyes shot open, and she pulled away in shock, but he gathered her close again, rocking her slowly. "Doesn't this feel good, Marie? Doesn't it feel right?"
"Logan if I give in to Augustus, Ah'll be losing-"
"You'll be gaining us," came the firm reply.
She swallowed, closing her eyes, burying herself further in his warmth. God it DID feel good. To hold him like this, to be with Logan in the most intimate way. Could she? Could she possibly? Was it really a bad thing?
She swallowed, pulling back, looking at him straight in the eyes, her own orbs pleading with him to try and understand. "Logan, Ah'll risk losin' mah mind. Ah don't think I'm strong enough to-"
His lips on her silenced her. There was a soft brush, a gentle insistence that made her tremble, moan as he continued to move his lips against hers. Hands slid around her waist, pulling her shaking body closer, and Marie found her pliant body more than willing to share the heated space. His tongue slid into her lips, as if seeking entry, and with a sigh, leaning her head and closing her eyes, her mouth opened. The first, tender brush of the moist tongue against her own, was so real, so soft and intimate and real, she felt tears suddenly swell over, and he only continued the assault, leaning his broad chest against hers. She pulled him on top of her, the bed resisting against the added weight, as he smiled down at her, moving against her mouth, and then lower down against her neck, long, wet kisses that sent a heated warmth from her legs to her stomach, making her arch against his body in pleasure.
"Logan," she whispered.
The soft caress of his hands were insistent, as his mouth moved further down, to the nestle of her collar bone, and further down still. Fingers slid to her shoulders, pulling the tiny straps with him, baring inch, by inch.
"We can be together, Marie," he whispered. "We can feel like this..."
Her mind raged against the assault as she felt the slip give way with a tenderness that seemed so foreign to her. Her body was hot, sweaty, and it wasn't long before she felt her breasts pushed up against his chest, raking against the hair that nestled there.
It was too much... it was heated, feverish...
"Logan," she whispered, knowing she would give in to him, knowing there was no other choice.
She couldn't NOT feel like this, NOT have this with Logan...
"MARIE!" A far away, familiar voice made her eyes open, and she found her head jerking to the side of the bed, where Logan stood, dressed in a familiar pair of blue jeans and jacket, a look of horror and anger on his face.
LOGAN! But wasn't Logan-
There was a roar, and suddenly she jumped when the man on top of her was pulled off with an anger and speed, slammed against the wall, claws against his throat as the dressed Logan glared, his face furious, angry, and very, very frightened.
"Don't you listen to him, Marie!" he growled, keeping the man with his likeness against the wall as she watched from the bed, sheets up to her chest. "You keep fightin'! I'm comin' for you, Marie! Don't listen to a damn word he says!"
"Logan," she whispered, still unsure, shaking her head as she gazed at the man who was held captive.
Her eyes widened, and she felt a cry of surprise and anger burst from her lips when she realized the one thing that should have tipped her off, that her frazzled mind hadn't caught.
The Logan against the wall had violet eyes.
Storm and Gambit scrambled to Logan's thrashing form, landing on each side, eyes wide with surprise and a bit of fear.
"Logan!" Storm gently tried to prod him, but Gambit slid his arms around her and pulled her back. "Be careful. Last girl that tried to wake him up from a dream got impaled," he reminded her gently.
She gave a shuddered gasp inward, and then looked down at Logan with wild eyes. "Look at him, Remy! We have to do something."
Remy pursed his lips, and with out another word, buried his foot into Logan's side.
There was a howl of pain, and he stumbled back, losing his footing and falling back, taking Storm down with him.
There was a moment of uncomfortable silence, as Storm was suddenly chest to chest, eye to eye, and thigh to thigh with the thief, found herself staring intensely into his gaze.
His hands were entangled with hers, and despite her rushing blood, she could feel his rapid heartbeat beneath hers.
A movement from Logan made them body jerk away, Storm scrambling off of Remy and turning back to the now awake Logan.
"Logan, what's wrong?"
Logan looked livid, furious. His sweaty body was heaving, and he barely glanced at Storm before he howled, the sound so painful and angry and Remy once again stepped between them.
But Logan didn't even give him a second look, he went straight for the tree nearest him, burying his claws in them in punches, again, and again, until his fists were raw and bleeding.
Storm crossed her arms, stopping Remy when he stepped forward, shaking her head almost imperceptibly.
They both waited as Logan vented, the poor tree getting a good dose of hits, before the man turned, his eyes narrowed, his voice barely above a growl. "I saw her. I saw her. And that FUCKING BASTARD was using me to get to her."
"What?" Remy's eyes were wide with concern.
"He... he... he was on TOP of her... as ME. Kissing her and hugging her... and... her breast... with MY MARIE."
Storm felt her heart skip a beat, shaking her head. "You had a vision, then."
"A dream," he repeated, now down on his haunches, pawing the ground, the tendons standing out on his arms. "She's with that guy. That... Augustus... he wants to make her... to give in to him... and he can touch her. He can touch her. And he used that..." he took deep breaths, trying to calm down, the anger so palatable Storm could feel it infecting her, infecting Remy. "Used ME... to touch her... to try and be with her and CONVINCE her... And she's weakening. She has this damned idea that he put into her head that if she ... does whatever... she can be with me..." His eyes were moist, and the hot drops slid down his face, flying from his face when he looked pleadingly up at them. "We have to find her now."
Remy's body was trembling, and by instinct Storm moved closer, a hand on his arm. Another palm covered hers, and Remy pulled her closer, his tense body using hers as comfort.
She looked down at Logan, her other hand reached out, and when the older man grabbed it, she clenched it tightly, linking the trio.
"We will." She swallowed, and released them both, turning. "But we need help. We need the X-men."
Logan stiffened, and Remy's eyes narrowed, but she shook her head, warding off their arguments before they could mount them. "I mean it. They're not the enemy. They've been helping us. If they weren't with us they would have caught up to us a long time ago."
Logan's voice was still hoarse with emotion, as he whispered, "Something tells me they already have."
The whir of the jet didn't hit Storm until now, as she turned to see the machine lighting down on the ground.
It wasn't on the ground for a second before Jean stepped out, followed by the younger X-men.
Storm cocked her head, eyeing the uniforms that they all wore, arms crossed as the two men stood behind her, viewed the scene, and their colleagues, warily.
But Jean paid them no attention, eyes only for Storm as she jogged up to her, and said breathlessly, "We found him."
CHAPTER SIX: IN WHICH THEY FIND ROGUE
He bolted up, craning his neck, the sweat on his torso making him aware that what had just happened had been more than the dream he had expected to conjure. Somehow or other he had opened the window of her mind to allow more than just him, but that Logan fellow as well.
With a grimace he lifted his hand to his bruised neck, feeling the smoothness of it marred by a red, inflaming bruise where the damn bastard had hurt him.
So they knew.
Damn clever fiends. He pulled his legs up, kneeling his elbows on his knees, pursing his lips. He was running out of time. She had weakened, just as he had expected but. he was still running out of time.
The door flew open and he looked up in surprise to see a disheveled and furious Rogue in the doorway. He cocked an eyebrow.
Without another word she flew, literally, to his bedside, and with a speed even he could not stop, snapped his head back and threw him off the bed with a blinding punch.
Good God. He had forgotten about that temper of hers. And that strength.
He closed his eyes, breathing slightly, trying to maintain consciousness as she glared over him, looking quite delectable in a shimmering night slip.
"Upset, I take it?"
Her eyes flashed, and she pointed a trembling finger in his direction, while he wisely stayed out of her reach. "Don't you EVER, get inside my head again, you fuckin' bastard," she breathed, her eyes livid. "I know what you were trying to do."
"Do you?" he queried. She stepped back, her eyes suddenly cloudy with uncertainty, shaking her head softly at him when he moved again. He reached a hand up to his chin, grimacing a bit. "Good Lord, I think you gave me a fractured jaw."
"You better be damn glad I didn't castrate you," she drawled, her expression harsh, her form stiff.
He sighed, biting back the pain, and getting up, moving toward the bed and settling down on it with a groan. "Oh, my dear Marie. Still seeing me as the bad guy, is that it?" He leaned back on the bed, his chest muscles flexing slightly, and he was pleased to see that she noticed. Her jaw hardened, and she stepped backwards, crossing her arms, and forcing her eyes to stay on his. He smiled, a gentle smile, as if he was talking to someone who was five, and he patted the bed beside him. "Sit here, darling, and I'll tell you my reasons for my intrusion."
"Intrusion?" she gasped, that temper suddenly riled yet again. "You invade mah dreams, mah thoughts-"
"And you felt something, didn't you?" he asked, gazing at her slightly. She stopped mid rant, looking confused as he smiled, nodding, his voice smooth, gentle. "You felt loved, closeness, that longing that's been missing from you." He came forward, his voice hoarse from the bruising his neck took, and he gently took her palms, warily, in case she got it into her head to strike him again. "I was trying to show you what it could be like. It's wasn't supposed to be a nightmare, Rogue. It was supposed to be a glimpse. of the future."
Her gaze shifted, as her body pulled against his grasp, but his fingers closed around her wrists, and he continued, his knuckles lifting to graze across her face. "Don't you see? What you could have had?"
"Ah don't need you," she spit. "Ah don't need you-"
"Oh, but you do." He smiled, the grin gentle, and it made her shudder as he propelled him towards her, his hands burying themselves in her hair, smoothing them down, holding her young, trembling body against his bare chest. His voice rumbled against her, as he pressed his lips on her forehead, felt her resist only slightly, and smoothing his palms down lower to her bare back, felt her shudder slightly and gasp as a result. "You want that peace, don't you? What happened, my dear girl, the last time you tried to be with that animalistic fellow?" She froze, and he pulled her closer, barely hearing her whimper of self disgust. Rolling his eyes, he pursed his lips. First woman he knew who despised herself for being attracted to him.
Good God, that hold that animal had on her was immense.
He found himself shuddering. What a contemptible, un schooled chap. He had been quite in heaven with Rogue earlier in her dreams, only to have been rather rudely interrupted by the man who acted like Rogue had a big "wolverine's property" tattooed on her head.
He felt a small smile descend onto his lips. It was quite the opposite. His first touch had branded her, and it was quite nice to know she hadn't forgotten.
"You hurt him, Rogue. You hurt a lot of people, and when you do, it all goes into that little head of yours, drives you a bit. insane." He pressed his lips together as he pulled back, studying the tears that slipped from her face. "I can stop that. I can make you. feel. We're destined, you know. It's useless to fight."
She took in a shaky breath, and he could tell she was reaching inside of her for a bit of strength, of resolve. "And what if Ah don't want to be destined?"
And he smiled, leaning forward, brushing his lips tenderly against hers, pulling her closer, and whispering in her ear, "My dear. You have no choice."
"Clayton Augustus." Bobby's voice was triumphant as he slammed down the papers on the wooden picnic table where the group was gathered. "Aged 35, known for his violet eyes, and his way with words. Worked as an operative for the government up until five years ago when he was discharged for his 'pro-mutant' sentiments, and his dabbling in what was called, the 'black arts'. He's also rich as sin."
"Black arts?" Storm asked, coming out of the jet, the sleek black of her X-men uniform making everything but her face and hair completely invisible against the dark night.
Remy, already dressed, stepped back, allowing her access to the papers, and she gave him a surprised look, but he only shrugged, and she turned back to the group.
"Like magic," Jean inserted, sliding up onto the table, taking the papers and handing them to Storm, before sighing. "He became a magician of sorts, did things that would astound people."
"Like what?" Logan growled, from his position on the ground, kneeling, his eyes hooded, and his body tense. Jean swallowed. She had been only vaguely informed of the dream that Logan had been subject to, but it didn't take an empath to see the rigid form was fighting for control.
She swallowed. Hell, she wasn't in love with Rogue and she could feel the anger, the urge to panic sliding through her.
"Like manipulated the weather." Bobby said, with a raised eyebrow.
Storm snapped her head around immediately and her eyes widened. "SHIT," she said, stamping her feet, her eyes closing, and opening again, her chest heaving. "SHIT. SHIT. SHIT. It all makes sense now."
"What does?" The group of X-men all looked at the Storm Goddess, surprise in the younger X-men's faces, not used to see their former teacher sputtering expletives or losing control so easily.
But Storm paid them no mind, instead addressing her leaders as she quickly shook her head. "Don't you remember? When we attacked the building? The winds? They were not MINE. I could not control them. And Rogue and I landed on the roof, and I was hit. I almost blacked out, but I barely heard. but he was up there, talking to her."
"He was THERE?!" Logan roared, jumping to his haunches.
"He was on the roof, I remember barely hearing, but. he said things about destiny, and touch." A small smile flitted on her face despite of herself. "And then I think she punched him out." She grimaced almost immediately, wrapping her arms around herself, feeling a pair of hands descend on her shoulders. "I should have put it together. I should have. SEEN it." Without even thinking twice, she leaned back into his chest, the familiar voice of Remy soothing her thoughts.
"You had a hole in your side, Goddess," he reminded her gently. "I'm surprised you were thinking clearly at all."
She shuddered, and then pulled away, coming forward, as Logan did the same from the other side. "So where is he?"
"Where isn't he?" Scott answered, his lips together in a hard line as he pulled out a map, laying it out, St. John lighting a fire ball that provided them all with the sufficient light to see. "Like Bobby said, this guy is loaded. He's got places everywhere."
"What about in the Midwest? Secluded? In the woods?" Logan asked bluntly, leaning over the map.
"That's what we were thinking. There are two possible places." Scott pointed to one while Jean pointed to another. "There's a ski cabin up here, in the mountains, and another place that seems plausible, been associated with him, was used as a safehouse for mutants, before he was fired."
"Wait, wait. This guy HELPED mutants?" Jubilee looked confused, and Scott merely shrugged, unable to do anything else.
"I don't get it either, Jubilee."
"He's got Rogue and he's usin' her," Logan growled, his eyes flashing. "That's enough to make me impale the guy so hard his heart will come out of his ass."
"Not that I don't agree with the sentiment, but thanks for the imagery," Kitty muttered.
"We're running out of time," Logan said, ignoring her. "She can't hold out for long."
"Problem is we've got two places where he might be," Jean said.
Logan bit his lip, grinding his teeth, looking at them both.
"Mutie hideout," he finally pronounced. "You got Xavier in your head, Jean?"
She looked a bit startled, but nodded.
"Call him up and tell him to look for our gal with my signature." Jean gave Scott a dubious look, but he nodded quickly, and then her mind was fixed, concentrating. "It'll be a couple minutes," she said after a second.
"Okay." Scott looked around at his group, and took a breath. "Magic. Shit. Magic. We're fighting against magic."
"Put Storm, Gambit and me up front," Logan said, without looking up. "The rest of you just act as decoys. It's the safest way."
Scott shot him a glance. "What?"
"We got our asses whipped the last time we came gunning, so -"
"We make a big noise and you three sneak in." Scott nodded, catching on immediately, looking towards where Storm and Gambit were standing side by side. "You two agree on this?"
They exchanged quick glances, and Remy answered with a lazy tone, "Just call us Team Beastie."
"We've done pretty well, the three of us," Storm replied. "It seems right that we be the ones to go in after her."
Scott gave his friend a long look and then nodded, looking toward the group he had with him. "You heard them, we're back up. Strictly."
Jean came jogging back up, her face tight and drawn. "It's the hideout. Xavier felt something that seemed a little... like Logan up there."
Scott turned to glance at the Wolverine, but he merely jerked his head and walked toward the jet.
Scott took a breath and turned to the other. "You heard him. Let's go."
Her eyes were haggard as she looked down at the fingers, entangled in each other in a nervous gesture on her lap. They were cold, and she swallowed, bringing them up against her forehead, which at the moment was curiously hot.
Jean Grey had a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach, and it was doing nothing to calm her worn nerves. The tension in the room threatened to overwhelm her, and because of that simple fact she kept silent. A hand on her shoulder made her draw her hands away from her face, found herself facing Logan, on his face a simple expression of worry.
She felt a small smile drift onto her face. "Shouldn't I be asking you that?"
His jaw ticked slightly, and he swallowed, turning away before gruffly answering. "I'll be okay when I find her."
"When WE find her Logan," she corrected him firmly.
He didn't move for a minute, looking over the other group in the plane who pretended not to hear the conversation.
"Was it always so easy for you to trust people, Jean?"
The question struck her ask strange, but her face didn't betray her surprise, instead she merely looked him in the eyes as he turned to her, cocking her head.
"What do you mean?"
He pursed his lips, half shrugging. "You and Scott are cut out of the same mold, you know? It's easy to trust people. Storm and Gambit," he nodded to the pair sitting across the plane. "They're cut out of the same one too. A little rougher around the edges maybe, but... you can place them if you try hard enough. People like Rogue and me..."
"Can't be placed," she answered softly.
He nodded, his eyes flickering down for a second. When he continued, his voice was gruffer. "Maybe that's... that's why the way we are. Up here." He indicated toward his head, and he sighed ragged, leaning against the seat. "We don't got a mold."
Jean was still for a second, and when she moved, she did something that started him. His eyes opened, and he found her palm gently squeezing his. He felt a grim smile on his face, and his fingers gently tightened over her thinner ones, squeezing back. "I can't lose her, Jean."
Her hand held his tightly, and she placed her head on his shoulder, embracing him gently, feeling the animal heart beat with fear and anxiety, something that she had only seen come from him when one little girl, now woman, was in trouble.
Her hair spilled over the pillow as she lay back, her body perfectly still as the little being crouched on her chest.
The beautiful Siamese had slid onto her chest and was no perfectly content, a soft purring rumbling through the small animal's body, onto her chest.
Her fingers slid across the delicate features of the dozing cat, saw it open it's blue eyes just for a second before closing then again, leaning it's head against one delicate paw.
The cat had been coming to her since she had arrived. Apparently Rogue's bedroom had also been hers, and for this purpose Rogue knew that she was only a guest in this majestic's animals lair.
As payment, Rogue had been frequently used as a bed, a scratching post, an ear to meow on, and an occasionally, a perch.
It was Augustus' cat, and he adored it. She had seen the affection dance in his eyes for the feline, the way he picked up the spoiled animal lovingly, placing it on his thighs, the one bright spot on his otherwise dark attire.
And the cat would purr, a beautiful soft sound that would slide through Rogue's body as well.
It gave her a sense of peace to feel the cat's warmth on her body, to feel the warm fur that she could slide her hands through.
Her eyes closed, and she merely continued to stroke the animal, knowing if she stopped, the animal would take offense and begin to meow her head off in a tone she had come to recognize.
So instead, she lay perfectly still, knowing that in this instance, the cat was master and she was merely the servant, providing the grooming if only for the body on her chest, for the comforting prescense, the state of mind that made her aware she was not alone.
And she was very soon going to be.
She wasn't sure when she made her choice. She wasn't sure when the damning decision to lose her soul to a man who was both frigthening and soothing had slid into her conciousness when every essence inside her told her it was wrong.
In the end, her body never moving an inch, she had finally come to the decision that she understood.
She was tired. She was too fatigued to do nothing more than lay here stroking a cat, and she knew that at any minute, the man who she hated would come bring her, and she would nothing more than just lie here stroking the cat, and look at him, and wait.
Because she was too tired to do anything else.
And her mouth quivered, and she sucked in her breath, and her eyes closed as the tears stung behind her eyelids as she realized that at that moment, it was already too late.
Her chest constricted and she shuddered, as the cat shuffled, and stretched a paw out and pressed it against her face, the tears meeting the dark fur.
"Ah'm sorry, Logan," she whispered. "Ah tried. I really tried."
He sat next to her, and she could feel his fiery eyes gazing, boring into the side of her head, staring at her as if she as the last thing on earth he wanted to see.
The attention was making her uncomfortable, because, as disconcerting as it was to deal with her own tumultous feelings for the former thief, it was twice as disturbing to even entertain the idea that he might be viewing her as anything else but Storm.
But that's exactly the feeling she got, from the moment she had woken up this morning. He had been abnormally quiet, as if his mind was working through things that seemed to weigh on him.
She had stayed away from him, and now, it was no more use avoiding it. They would be going into save a very dear friend, a friend she loved, and a friend she knew he was in love with, and to have these conflicting feelings while that was happening...
She was good at blocking things away. She wasn't that good.
So she took in a breath, calming her nerves, and then turned, stared into his eyes.
She had caught him staring, and he didn't seem to care. There was a brightness in his orbs that took her completely by surprised, and set her heart beating, and left her breathless, because she knew that look, she had seen it on him before.
When he was looking at Rogue.
"Gambit what are you doing?" she whispered, her voice coming out harsher, more harried, and a bit louder than she intended.
He didn't answer, instead swallowed, took his palm and gently leaned up, ignoring the other X-men who had looked over, and now had their eyes wide in surprise, tracing her jawline gently.
She swallowed, her figure trembling, and she tried to pull away, but he wouldn't let her. Instead he caught her hand and held it, intertwining the fingers and pulling the delicate hand into his lap.
"When this is over," he finally spoke thickly, "You and I are going to talk, Goddess."
And his eyes locked with hers, and suddenly she was engaged in one of the most intense stares she had ever known, the fire in his eyes seeming through her cold body, and she could feel the storm inside her, melting, liquifying until her knees felt waters, her breath moist and hot, and it was all she could do to simply nod, turn away, pull her hand back.
Her heart was pounding, and the confliction that slid through her nearly tore it apart.
He loved Rogue. He had always loved Rogue. What did he want from her? Her eyes closed, and she felt the panic seep through her, knowing this was exactly what she didn't want, exactly what she didn't need at this moment.
Not when Rogue was so close... not when she should have been thinking about nothing but saving her friend.
But the haunting body next to her struck through her, awareness pulsing through her body and she bit her lip, arms crossed, anger and love and hate and fear and torment and nervous joy battling for dominance in her heart.
It was unrequited, it was always supposed to be unrequited. It was what she had resigned herself to.
"What?!" she hissed a little too fast, her head jerking around to catch his gaze. And his gaze was smoldering.
"Just in case," he said thickly, and then before she was quite sure what was happening her body was suddenly pulled against his rock hard frame, and her head was bent back and a searing pair of lips covered her own.
There was a muffled groan that made her lips part, and suddenly his tongue invaded her mouth and she shuddered as he continued the lustful assault on her senses, sweeping electricity through her body.
His chest was heated, searing against her colder body, and the kiss that quickly turned into much more paralyzed her.
A clap of thunder, followed by a bolt of lightning that came dangerously close to the jet was followed by a muffled curse up front.
Her eyes shot open and she pushed away from the theif, looking up from their dark corner. "Yes, Scott?" she managed to breathe, Remy's arms still around her waist, not quite ready to let her go yet.
"Whatever the hell it is you're doing back there, stop it! I'm trying to fly here!"
Remy seemed to grin slightly, and she narrowed her eyes at him, but he merely pressed his lips to her temple, and whispered, "Sorry, Goddess. Lost myself for a minute there."
You're not the only one, she thought to herself, and merely clamped her jaw, pushing him away slightly. "You're going to tell me what that was later, Remy."
There was a pause, and then a nod. "You bet."
He had given now announcement, no indication to warn her that he was coming, but he still got the feeling that she was waiting for him.
He stood by the door, and a curious feeling overtook him, his hand poised over the doorknob. Apprehension, maybe? Perhaps the tiniest bit of regret?
It was a marvelous woman who would be snuffed out, and he knew that, she knew that.
But what would come of it would be so much greater, so much greater for them both.
The door opened, and he stood, barechested, his eyes coming down to rest on her body, at the way she stretched almost seductively across the bed, the cat opening one eye at his entrance.
The Siamese narrowed her eyes and hissed, a low meow that came out more as a growl than anything, and August felt his lips curl in amusement as the animal crouched protectively over the young mutant.
"Traitor," he admonished the feline, and then flicked his wrist, sending the cat away.
Rogue opened her eyes, and they were startlingly clear as she leaned up, her elbows propping up her torso, the strap of her gown slipping off her shoulder, leaving it bare.
He sucked in his breath, swallowing as she merely looked at him, saw where his eyes were, and slid her hands to the strap, pulling it back up to cover her shoulder.
She knew the game. That had surprised him. He had expected a much easier conquest. A woman as passionate as she, one who had spent the last five years without being able to touch, who had just experienced a sexual awakening deep within herself, should have been easier to caress.
She had been perhaps one of the most delightful challenges he had ever faced. She was his destiny, and he had never doubted the victory, because the fates were irrevocable.
He leaned against the doorway, and she regarded him, finally sitting up, crossing her legs.
"Ah hate you," was her simple statement, and he pursed his lips, nodding slightly.
"I'm well aware of that, darling."
"Just wanted to make it clear." She swallowed, and her voice seemed to crack a bit a she stood, her body trembling, walking toward him until she stared into his violet eyes with a crackling intensity. "Take me to my destiny, Augustus," she drawled. "And we'll see who wins."
He stared at her, and at the strength in her tone, despite the frazzled and conflicted mind he had seen into, had known was there, had counted on, he felt an unfamiliar shudder run through him.
No. He could no develop feelings for her. She was not a lover. She was closer than that. He could not fall in love with her. That would almost be narcissic, and it would self damning.
So he took a breath, purging the affection from his mind, and instead took her hand in his, pressing the delicate fingers that hid the amazing strength, against his lips.
"Is the game over, then, Rogue?" he asked her.
She cocked an eyebrow, and then, with a look that filled Augustus with an uncertainty that he was not accustomed to feeling, she smirked. "Oh, Auggie. It hasn't even begun."
And she placed her hands in his, and turned, leading him out of the doorway. "Destiny awaits."
He swallowed, and nodded hoarsely. "It most certainly does, Rogue. It most certainly does."
They landed in the drifts, far enough away so that Scott hoped they would not be detected. He felt his heart thump heavily for a minute, because he understood the odds.
They had damn near gotten their asses kicked before, they knew next to nothing about what this Augustus guy could do, and they didn't even know where she was.
Any other day, he would have said it was too dangerous, he would have ordered the team to wait, to try and come up with a full proof plan.
The exception with today was that he knew they had simply run out of time. Logan, Storm, Gambit, and he doubted any one else would wait anymore. Indeed, the panic that threaten to slide through his heart made him aware that even he would not have wanted to wait any longer.
He had had a long talk with Professor Xavier before he had taken the jet, and in that meeting he had come out with two resolutions.
One, he was not the leader. Not this time. This time, they were a team, and he had no knowledge or skills at that time that would make him the leader in this instance. No one did.
Two, the longer they waited, the more dangerous it got. Charles wasn't sure was being done to Rogue, but it had been clear in his eyes that whatever it was, was never good. Rogue had always teetered, and Scott inherently knew the difficultly they would have if Rogue ever turned sides.
He had assured the Professor that Rogue never would. She loved the team and she loved what it stood for, but the simple truth was, if she had almost killed Logan, LOGAN, who she loved so deeply and completely, what about the rest of them?
And to have such traitorous thoughts about such a trusted team member... it damn near killed him inside.
He took a breath, and then clasped hands with Logan, licking his lips. "Good luck. You know the plan. Get in, get out, and meet us back here. We'll be on the look out. Keep your mind open for Jean."
Logan's eyes flickered toward Jean, who came up beside him, and he nodded, his face intense with concentration.
He turned, motioning to Storm and Remy, and before he walked away, he paused, looked back. "Thanks."
With that the three X-men who had walked away from their team, walked away again, and this time with Scott's full blessing.
He crossed his arms as he felt Jean's hands slide onto one elbow, her face leaning against his shoulder.
"What are you thinking?" she asked softly.
A small smile slid onto his face. "You won't read it?"
"I want you to tell me."
He was quiet for a moment, his face haggard as he finally looked back to his wife. "The truth?"
"I'm wondering if we're going to get any of them back alive," he told her grimly, looking back at the spot where they disapeared. "And I'm wondering why the hell I let them go."
Her hand on his elbow tightened, and she just hugged him for a second, pressing her lips against his leather clad shoulder before turning back to the remaining X-men, beginning with instructions.
She hadn't needed to say anything. She hadnt' questioned his decision, and she hadn't done it because she was his wife, or because she trusted him, and loved him, though all that was true.
It was a greater truth that made her stand by him now, a truth that she felt deep within her heart, one that he had at last had no control over.
The truth was... in the end, there was simply no choice.
What would happen, would happen now, and there was not a damn thing any of them could do about it, but pray.
He had taken her into a large room, darkened with candles, secluded, a room she had never seen before.
Men in robes were gathered around, and when they entered, they began chanting in an unknown language.
That was when the fear began to course through her.
As if senseing her trepidation, she felt his hand on her shoulder, pressing, kneading, urging her inside. Her eyes clothes, and her breath was ragged, the composure she fought so hard to maintain threatening to fall apart.
And it was because she realized exactly what she had gotten into.
This was so much more than a game. This was about her soul. This was about her mind.
This was about losing everything that was ever important to her, everything that meant anything.
It was about losing Logan.
Her body began to tremble and she turned, fully prepared to walk out on this, on him, to fight her way out, claw her way if necessary.
But his eyes caught and held, and it was then she knew that whatever they had started, had already begun.
She felt mesmerized, tranced, as if the pull of the violet was sweeping into her, and she felt her steps falter as he smiled slid his palms up her forehands, pulling her close.
"Say it with me, Rogue," he whispered, his breath feathering above her lips. "Destiny."
"Destiny," she found herself whispering back, the sacredness of the word, of the moment, not lost upon her.
"Destiny. Peace. Unity." He continued, moving back with her, moving her into the circle. "Eyes on me Rogue. Eyes always on me."
Her knees felt weak, and she felt her strength leaving her, her resolve seeming to drain with it.
Until the floor seemed to shake.
Her knees buckled, and he caught her. Her eyes widened, and her throat closed up, and she seemed to actually hear things, see things.
"What's going on?" she heard Augustus hiss.
There were hurried whispers, and she thought she heard him curse, felt his grip on her tighten, and she found herself able to stand, to look at him, and look at this, and once again the panic seemed to come through her.
"ROGUE." He pulled her close again, and then he muttered words and the doors shut so fast and hard that the candles blew out, cloaking them in darkness.
"Keep going," he answered, and his eyes suddenly seemed to glow, trapping her stare within him. "Eyes on me, Rogue," he continued, his breath coming in harried breaths, as if he was worried.
She felt his panic as he skin touched hers, and her eyes widened as she felt something completely foriegn to her.
There was the familiar pull that slid through her, as she felt HIM inside of her, as he had never been inside of her, and at first it had been just another mind inside her, until she felt herself weakening, and with a gasp she began to flood, her knees began to buckle and her arms wrapped around him, as she closed her eyes.
In that moment, she felt herself flooding through him, felt him flooding through her, and she knew then that no matter what the doubts, it was already decided. There was no use.
She was already lost.
CHAPTER SEVEN : IN WHICH IT'S TOO LATE
It felt as if they were fighting a onesided battle.
It was in the back of their minds, as they traveled, quietly, quickly, fluidly. They had surprised the few guards they had encountered, and the battle that had started on the other side, in a much open area, had distracted the others.
But it was still too easy.
The shooting slid within ten feet of the house. At first, Logan had thought it was aimed at them, and both he and Remy, in a burst of chivarly, had pounced on Ororo, covering her body from the shots.
The shots had veered off to the side however, and when it was clear it wasn't meant for them, Logan had finally looked down at the body they had practically smothered. Ororo glared at them, muttered something about Neanderathals and pushed them off.
She was on her feet in an instant, and Remy quickly withdrew a flaming card from his pocket, and the three advanced again.
It was only another minute before suddenly they were facing a wall of the mansion, and yet again the thought flashed into Logan's brain.
It was too easy.
"What de hell?" Remy whispered, hands about Ororo's wait, face intense as he was lost in thought. "It worked?"
"Looks like it," Logan answered, his eyes hooded.
And finally, one of them voiced it.
"This is too easy," Storm said, pushing away slightly, crouching up to look at the house that loomed before them. "There should be more than this. Why isn't there a.... tornado or a storm or something to keep us occupied like the last time?"
And then the world reeled.
The winds nearly knocked Logan to the ground, and it pushed Storm into Gambit, the sound furiously pounding into their ears as the wind whipped around their faces.
It was as if they were suddenly in the middle of a tornado.
"Spoke too soon," Remy said, then the three ducked as the wind blew at a furious pace above them.
It immobilized them, and the winds were so furious it was almost painful. Logan's eyes squinted as the sleet began to form around them, walling them in. It was trapping them quickly in.
Remy shot Storm a look, in his eyes was a pleading desperation.
She swallowed, helpess as her own winds seemed to turn on her. Her eyes locked with Remy's, and she felt her throat go dry as she shouted above the chaos, "Remy... I ... they're NOT MINE."
The helplessness in her voice made him freeze, and obvlious to their exchange, she saw out of the corner of her eye Logan growl. A cry of rage and anger slid from his throat and in an astonishing feat of strength she saw him launch himself off of his hindlegs, claws extended, diving towards the wooden wall.
Remy's head whipped around and Ororo felt her mind at a blank as Logan impaled himself on it, the claws digging into the wood the only thing that was keeping him from being carried away in the winds.
He was flopping helplessly, almost like a fish in dry land, and it was clear the claws would not hold him forever.
It was a losing battle, and they all knew it.
Remy cursed and he turned, grabbing her by the shoulders, and shaking her.
"STOP it, Storm!"
"I can't, Remy!" she screamed back, ears over her head as the winds continued to pick up.
"YOU CAN! I've seen you on this trip! You can do the impossible. Don't let the fear take you. You can control them. They're still YOURS."
Her eyes bore into his, her heart pounding as Remy continued stare intently at her.
Her chest was heaving, and her eyes watered as a hand gently smoothed across his face, a tender caress that seemed so out of place in the midst of the complete chaos surrounding it.
The words escaped her lips before she even realized they had.
"I love you."
His eyes widened, but she paid no attention to it, merely jerked her blazing eyes at the torrent that filled the air around them, and called back over her shoulder. "Blast a hole in that wall when I give you the signal."
And then she gave him no other glance, her body was shaking with emotion, and she felt herself cry out to her winds, the enchanted storm that had been taken from her.
Trembling with anger, she felt nothing else as she stood, arms stretched out, calling out with everything in her mind, in her heart, in her soul.
She would not panic now, she would not be paralyzed with fear. She was too damn mad.
"You're MY WINDS," she screamed into the torrent. "I AM your Master." Hands stretched out, and she floated up, and suddenly the winds hit her full force, surrounding her, beating at her. They gushed around her, and she merely grit her teeth as her eyes glazed over, her strength sapped from her at an alarming pace as the winds became conflicted, chaotic as if choosing who to follow.
The white of her orbs continued calling to them, commanding them. Her voice had a hypnotic change, and it was clear she had entered a trance of complete concentration. There was no fear, simply anger and annoyance at their change of pace, and when the lightening came she caught it, searing through her, and her head jerked, and suddenly the white bolt was directed to the wall.
It was the sign, and Remy, who until then had stood, the winds suddenly no longer affecting him, understood. Shaking himself to get out of the daze of watching the Goddess, his hands suddenly slid into his pockets, and he began to run, crashing through the snow with an angered yell.
"Logan, MOVE!" he growled, and with a cry he slid forward, throwing three flaming cards at the same time.
Logan jumped away just in time as the cards and another bolt of lighting hit the wall at the same time, resulting in a huge explosion, so bright they both had to cover their faces.
Remy's trench was thrown aside seconds later, and suddenly in his blazing eyes was the pure resolve, as the cards were thrown again.
Storm paid the eruptions no mind; her body instead was hit again and again by the lightning bolts that had never hurt her before,and were now sliding through her, making her face wince, and her teeth grit in pain.
But she never moved. Her body stayed suspended in the air, and she fought for the one thing she had always wanted and for some reason had always eluded her. Control. Her control was her winds, and she would be damned if she lost that.
The winds swirled, and the lightning and the sleet that surounded her, hit at her battered body almost hid her from Remy and Logan's sight, as the two watched in utter helplessness.
Remy's heart was pounding, and he found himself froze, as the clap of thunder was so loud it pounded into his ear drums.
It was the climatic battle cry, and it was followed by a roar from Ororo, as the lightning came agan and again.
And as quickly as it had begun, it was over. Storm body suddenly went limp in the air, and she crumpled to the ground, and when Logan turned, in the stillness that followed, he could see a gaping hole in front of him, leading into the house.
"STORM!" Remy yelled, scrambling over the fallen, watery snow to slide to her side. He kneeled in front of her, hands reaching out to her to pull her to him.
"Don't touch me yet," she breathed raggedly, and he swallowed, pausing as she looked up, the white eyes clattering with energy. The air around her staticy, stinging. "I... electrocute... Go. Find Rogue. I'll catch my breath and catch up."
"I'll be FINE. GO!"
Logan only hesitated a minute, until a scream could be heard from the house.
He growled and ran inside. Remy felt his heart pounding as he looked back into the darkness of the mansion, and then back to the woman kneeling before him.
"You get your ass in that house, Remy." Her hands suddenly pushed at his chest and he felt a jolt go threw him, one that cleanly knocked him off his feet and unto his ass, landing just inside the hole.
He took a breath, and then stumbled back, eyes fiery red, sparkling with emotion as he looked at the Goddess who knelt breathless in the bank of melting snow, the crackling of electical current still all around her.
His heart wrenched, and then he finally took a breath and turned running back into the house.
She closed her eyes, trying desperately to catch her breath from the fight with her winds. She had won. She was tired. She was weakened and in pain, but she had won. She still had her control. Her mind throbbed, and her gloved hands slid through her hair, and the crackling continued, as she steeled herself, drawing in a shaky breath and tried to stand. She managed a few steps, until the pain racked through her, and her knees buckled under her, and she found her face in the snow again, the coldness seeping through her.
"DAMMIT," she growled, her palms flat on the ground as she took another deep breath, trying to will her strength to return. "Just a few more minutes," she whispered, looking at the open doorway, and then to the chaos that was being caused by her fellow teammates.
"Just a few minutes. I'll be fine."
She didn't HAVE a few more minutes.
She tried again, managed another step, and then the world tipped sideways and she was back on the ground, her face hitting a stone, making her bleed.
She rolled onto her back, looking up at the clear sky, and then inside to the chaos of the house.
Her breath came in deep rasps, and all she could do was lie there.
Just a few more minutes. Then she'd help them find Rogue. Just a few more minutes.
She would be fine.
She had to be.
They hadn't been ready for a fight, and Scott could only wonder why, as the X-men continued their assault, coming forward just long enough to be driven behind.
The X-men had their instructions, and they were following them. Give them hell, just enough so that they could cause damage and no one would get hurt.
And their ground team froze, and fired and sparked and stopped, and they advanced, and the commotion as the men came at them was not nearly as chaotic as before.
And so he had barely enough time to think as the winds came, got knocked off his feet.
He had felt relief when they had suddenly stopped for no reason.
And he had barely time to think when he continued the attack against the mutants who were protecting their Lord at all costs.
But he did feel it, he did hear it, and he knew it rang through the others too, when they heard the scream that was so loud it slid through their bodies, into their minds. The familiarity of the scream had set panic into their hearts.
And they all fought harder, tried desperately to get through, because they had begun to sense the losing battle, and all orders to stay behind were thrown to the wind the second they heard the scream.
Because the scream belonged to Rogue, and in their hearts, they knew what that meant.
It was already too late.
His head was swimming, his body aching, and it was taking every sense, every grasp of energy for him to try to hold together, as she slid into his veins, her body against his, her mind molding inside of him.
His destiny was so very close, and he knew, he knew he was within seconds.
But the chaos outside invaded his mind, and he knew it was tainted her, tainting him. She had recognized it, and she had begun to struggle, a feeble attempt that did not stop what had started, but it had changed things.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. It was supposed to be one sided.
But he still felt the drain, felt her fighting with him, fighting inside of him and inside of her, and he held tighter, his mind slipping, his teeth gritting.
And Rogue opened her eyes at the pain, and she continued to fight him, and he never noticed the fear in the orbs, or the strength she had in resisting him, but he heard the scream.
Everyone heard the scream.
Logan's heart was pounding, his veins rushing with blood as he slid through doorways, the maze of the house making finding his way impossible.
The bars that came down in the hallway had trapped Remy, had almost trapped him. Logan didn't hesitate as he slid the claws back, tearing the bars into pieces, leaving Remy to work himself out of the rest, crying for him to catch up.
He couldn't afford to wait now. His mind was almost fearl, animal, and he felt possessed.
Because he heard the screaming.
It had slid through his mind, and it was her screaming that guided him, as his nostrils flared and he tracked her, moving, claws flying at the people that came to him, throwing them to the side.
Nothing could stop him, and it was her scream that called to him. The fear, the anger, the pure love that filtered into his mind at the idea of his mate in pain, in actual pain to make her scream like that.
He was going to kill the bastard. He was going to kill the bastard and he was going to make sure it was a vicious, cruel death.
That was almost too good for that son of a bitch.
And he was so close, he could feel it inside of him, his little Marie calling to him, and suddenly the screaming stopped, and all that was in the house was silence.
For some reason, that frightened him more than anything.
And he took a deep breath in, closing his eyes, chest heaving, and when his eyes opened they focused on a darkened doorway.
And he howled, and with a roar of pain he burst forward, crashing into it.
It gave way like paper, and he burst into a darkened room with candles, and a sense of evil so tangible he could feel it penetrating through him.
The men in the robes came at him, and with nothing more than a swipe of the claws he ran through them, until they were all lying on the ground, groaning, bloody or motionless.
His eyes darted to the center of the room, the words Marie breaking from his lips until he froze.
The man was holding her to him, clutching her like there was no tomorrow, and from where he stood it was hard to tell where one stood and the other began.
"MARIE!" he cried, and then he ran forward, kicking a leg out, landing it on the man's jaw, watched as there was a crack and Augustus reeled.
Both members of the pair groaned when Logan seperated them, and Logan didn't even think as he jumped on top of the man, claws up, coming down.
"NO!" His eyes widened as Augustus' orbs were on him, weakened, but still quite clear. A smile formed on the man's face, and he merely groaned, whispering hoarsely, "Marie's over here, Logan. She's in trouble."
And Logan's head jerked back, and it was all Augustus needed. With a chant Logan was thrown off, landing on his back, the breath knocked out of him.
He scrambled up, but the room was devoid of Augustus. The bastard had disapeared.
Logan's heart was in his throat as he turned to the crumpled form on the ground.
"Marie," he whispered, crawling toward her. Oh, God. Oh, God. Her body was sprawled, her eyes closed, and her face was pale, so very pale.
He gently gathered her to him, standing, cradling her against him.
Oh, God, Oh, God. Oh, Marie.
"Marie," he pleaded again, looking for any sign that the young woman, that his mate, would open her eyes, answer him, recognize him.
But she was silent, her breathing so light, but even. She was completely out.
He had to get her out of here. He had to find a way to get her out of here.
And he whined, a whine of anger and fear, as he pulled her closer, against his tremoring heart, and walked as fast as he could out of the room.
She stumbled through the hallways, the darkness making her eyes squint as she searched the corridors for any sign of her friends.
They were empty, and nothing, beyond the distant cries of the chaos that now surrounded the house, could be heard.
She was still weak, and Storm had to reach out to steady herself every so often in order to keep up her harried pace.
Her mind was barely on her exhaustion, instead her mind lay clearly on the only things that seemed to matter at all in the world: Logan, Remy and Rogue.
Her throat was clogged as she continued her journey, and in the back of her mind came the idea that even if they were in trouble and she found them, what on earth could she do to help?
But she still continued onward, and turning the corner, she found a sight that made her heart leap.
The Cajun theif froze, turning away from the metallic bars he was almost free of, and when he saw her, suddenly cried out, pressing his body against them as she came forward, pulling with him.
"Oh, God, what happened?" she asked, hands covering his as she looked up at him.
"De damn place is booby trapped," he explained, reaching through the bars to cup her face gently. "You okay, Goddess?"
"I'll live," she tossed at him. "Did you break these bars?"
"Logan did. Then had to run off when he heard Rogue screamin'." His eyes clouded for a second, looking over his shoulder. "I don't know what happened, Goddess. One second I was runnin' after him and de next-"
"Remy." She silenced him quickly with a palm on his lips, and slowly shook her head. "We'll find them. But first we have to get you out of here."
"Right. I almost got it... just... stand back-"
His hands fumbled into his pockets, and she jumped back as the corridor seemed to explode.
His head was bleeding, and his mind was whirling with the voices that had invaded his head.
Augustus heaved, sliding into the wall, trying to brace himself, breathing quickly.
Good God. Why hadn't the girl gone insane before this.
He took a deep breath inward, swallowing, his eyes opening.
Shit. Rogue. Rogue was still in him, battling, and that meant...
He shook at his head, hands reaching for his face, his mind searching for anything to stop the assualt.
It wasn't over yet. It had just begun.
It was already too late for them.
It was already too late for her.
His very world seemed to teeter, and he shut his eyes, sinking down, gritting his teeth, trying to keep his mind clear, vying for dominance amongst the powers that seeped through him.
This was his destiny. It was irrevocable.
But they still had Rogue.
He swallowed down his anger, breathing in, and breathing out.
There were two inside his out.
And neither of them were his Rogue.
Rogue had gotten out.
He had lost Rogue.
WIth a growl, Augustus tore himsel from the wall, running as fast as he could down the corridor.
It was time to stop playing games. He needed Rogue back. He was through humoring those little X-men mutants simply because they were mutant.
No matter that they were brothers.
No one would keep him from his destiny.
The bars had a small opening, and Remy slipped through, running to Storm, pulling her up.
"Let's find Logan and find Rogue and get de hell outta here," he whispered.
"Logan's already left." The British voice bit into the stillness, and Ororo froze, turning her head back to the corridor behind them.
Clayton Augustus stared at them, behind him five mutants. No one looked very happy.
"Didn't anyone tell you it's damn rude to come to a house uninvited, sir?" he asked, quirking his eyebrow.
Remy's eyes narrowed, and he came forward, hands in his pocket. "Stay behind me, Ororo."
"Remy-" she began, and was suddenly cut off when the voilet eyes slid to hers.
"I remember you," Augustus pronounced, a smile that didn't quite meet his flashing eyes coming onto his face. "You were the poor dear that was shot up on my roof, weren't you? Now who did that? Oh yes... that was you, wasn't it?"
A man who looked like a serpant slithered up to Augustus' side, and Remy felt his stomach suddenly turn.
"You're helpin him?"
"They're merely aware of the future. Of destiny. YOU my dear man, are in the way of that."
And there was a flash, and suddenly Remy felt a searing bolt hit his chest, pushing him back. He heard Ororo's cry.
His fiery eyes closed for a millisecond, but it was one millisecond too many. When they shot open, his heart stopped, and his legs were frozen.
Ororo, weakened from her struggle with her own winds, was suddenly in Augustus' grasp, battling against it.
"STORM!" The serpent was upon him, wrapping his arms around Remy and like a python, squeezing, tighter and tighter until all Remy could do was struggle for breath, his head suddenly light, his eyes beseeching, wild with terror as Storm's gaze caught his own.
It was Rogue's strength he carried, and Remy wasn't sure how he knew that, but Storm was unable to break free, and the last thing Remy heard before the darkness claimed him were the words, "You have mine, I'm taking yours."
They knew it was over when the wall of sleet that Bobby had tried to melt back grew to over twenty feet long.
It was an astonishing sight, one that Scott and Jean could only watch with eyes wide with shock, as the snow became ice, and the sleet turned into walls, moving up, forming four huge walls, and then... a roof.
They were completely closed off from the house, and it had been turned into a giant igloo.
The silence that reigned was baffling at first. Scott and Jean could do no more than look at each other, eyes searching the walls of snow before them with hearts tremoring, searching for any sign of what might have gone on, any clue.
A body that seemed fall out of the sky was their only clue, as Jubilee cried, "REMY!", and sure enough the Cajun, it seemed barely breathing, was literally thrown at their feet.
And that was when the rumbling started.
It took Kittys' cry of avalanche to launch them into action, Scott throwing Remy over his shoulder, Bobby creating an ice sled, as they slid to the jet, strapping in and rising above just as the snow slid over the drifts where they had been fighting before.
In the air, Jean had knelt over Gambit, as he coughed and sputtered, wheezing in breath.
"REMY." Jean grabbed his shoulders, shaking him slightly, trying to make him focus. "What happened?"
"Logan... disapeared.... Rogue...taken..." His eyes were imploring, and his voice seemed to cracked when he whispered. "He's got Storm."
He had been a good mile from the house, climbing into the mountains when he saw the jet lift into the air, hovering as the avalanche almost took it.
Logan swallowed, clutching Rogue tightly to him as he watched the scene.
It had been impossible to go back the way he came. Too many mutants, too many guards, too much chaos.
He had barely slipped out as it was, with the strong body in his arms, and he had only been able to hope that Remy and Storm had made it out before the ice had enclosed it.
They had to have made it out. He didn't find Rogue just to lose them.
"Rogue," he whispered breathless, hands covering her face as he teeth chattered, looking at the cut alongside her face.
The young mutant was still, her body slung over his legs, her breath light, erratic. Logan swallowed, grabbing her up, pulling her closer to him as he ran further towards the densest area.
He needed to find a place to keep her safe, revive her while he tried to find help...tried to get Jean's mind thing happening. He had lost the connection and he still wasn't sure how.
But they were looking for Rogue, and he had no idea how to get them and keep Rogue safe. Not when that bastard was still alive. Not when he wasn't even sure what he had done to her.
He continued to run, for God knew how long, and when it seemed he couldn't run anymore, Logan dropped to his knees, his eyes wide, and his teeth chattering as he looked down at his lover, her pale face cold, so very cold.
"Rogue," he whispered, his eyes moistened, his voice gruff with fear, hands patting at her face.
He waited a minute, and then suddenly his heart leapt as she sucked in her breath, coughing, sputtering.
She moaned, moving, and her breath came in huge gasps, as if trying to find her bearings.
And her eyes opened.
Logan was frozen, trapped by the intensity of those eyes, his heart hammering, and his relief suddenly interwoven with fear.
Rogue had violet eyes.
They bore into him, and then Rogue spoke, whispered in an achingly familiar voice, "Lo--... Logan?"
Her fingers were bare, and Logan didn't even seem to notice until they were pressed against his face.
And then it hit him.
Her fingers were touching his face, her splintering touch was on his face, massaging weakly at his cheeks, and...
Nothing was happening.
"Marie," he whispered, his voice cracking.
And there was a faint smile on her face, a smile of rememberance, until her eyes closed and her hand fell, and Rogue, exhausted from whatever the hell she had gone through, passed out again.
Logan was absolutely still, the howling wind his only companion as he kneeled deep in the snow, clutching Marie to him.
The droplets that slid from his face were very real and very cold, and they spilled over her chest as he buried his face into her neck, his shoulders wracking with sobs of anger, of pain, of the guilt and horror of not knowing. Of the wonder of feeling her touch, and the astonishment of seeing her eyes.
Please let it not be too late.
It couldn't be too late.
And he felt utterly helpless as he held her to him, his mind whirling, unable to do anything but hold his lover to him, and howl into the wind.
Because there was nothing more he could do.