Title: The Splintering Touch -- Part 1
Author: Melissa Flores
Email: mistiec_flores@yahoo.com
Fandom: X-Men (movie)
Rating: R for violence and language, and sensuality
Summary: While Rogue attempts to bring her desperation under control, the X-men launch a rescue mission to find their missing colleague, unaware that another group is looking for her as well, with very different intentions in mind.
Series: Story IV in the Fatal Caress Series: http://www.geocities.com/mistiec_reality/xmen/fiction/fatalcaressseries.html
Splash Image: Disclaimer
Category: X-Men: The Movie, Wolverine/Rogue, ensemble
Disclaimer: http://www.geocities.com/mistiec_reality/xmen/fiction/splinteringtouch.html
Archive: Reality is Nothing But a Collective Hunch, List Archives. Anyone who has the rest of the Fatal Caress Series can post this one as well.
Warning: While I'm familiar with the comics, I never really got into them, so to be on the safe side, let's just say that I've departed completely from them.
Author's Notes: Yeah, that's right. This is another fic from one of those pesky Angst Grrls. This is a direct sequel to "A Hazy Shade of Winter", picking up where it left off. It will also be resolved in the last story of this series, "Slippery When Wet". Also, this story is about the painful art of seduction. Rogue and Wolverine are both in it, though quite often not in the same scenes. But stick with me, and I'll take you through the story, and I hope it'll be worth it as we work to getting these two back together. I've also got some other pairings, in here, so be on the look out.
Dedication: To my Angst Grrls, always. Diebin for waiting up for me when I lost my internet connection and giving me nice soundless "meeps" and saying I tore her heart out. For my Nancy babe and Nickley, for being the most awesomest internet best buds a gal could have. For the rest of my Angst Grrls, Kate, Shana, Elizabeth, and the rest. You rock. Thanks for the beta and the support. Special thanks to Sarah, Mel, Kawy, Lori and Chris for the beta read.
Guest Stars: Rupert Everett as AUGUSTUS
Matthew McConaughey as GAMBIT

You can look but
You can't touch
I don't think I like you much
Heaven knows what a girl can do
Heaven knows what you've got to prove

I think I'm paranoid
And complicated
I think I'm paranoid

Bend me break me
Anyway you need me
All I want is you
Bend me break me
Breaking down is easy
All I want is you

I fall down just to give you a thrill
Prop me up with another pill
If I should fail
If I should fold
I nailed my faith to the sticking pole
I think I'm paranoid
I think I'm paranoid
And complicated
I think I'm paranoid
I think I'm paranoid

Steal me deal me anyway you heal me
Maim me, tame me, you can never change me
Love me, like me, come ahead and fight me
Please me, tease me, go ahead and leave me

Bend me break me
Anyway you need me
As long as I want you baby it's alright

Bend me break me
Anyway you need me
As long as I want you baby it's alright

Garbage - I think I'm Paranoid


For a Saturday night, the bar was definitely not as packed as it should have been. Dakota grimaced, and then sighed, taking his baseball cap off to give his sweating forehead some air before winding through the pool tables.

"Yo! Dakota!" He nodded to the group of men standing around the corner, beer bottles in their hands, and he gave the place a dissatisfied growl. It was the same here, every night. Never any different. Just the same two bit people in a two bit town where everyone knew everyone else's business and no one gave a damn.

Just once, he wanted something or someone or damn near anything to come in and sweep through this place and give it a blast of fresh air. It seemed dead to him. Hell not like he was ever goin' anywhere, but.. still. a man liked a little variety.

Sliding into the stool, he greeted his bar buddies the usual way.


"Hey yourself, Dakky." Jake, a young guy of thirty with a thinning hairline and a beer belly, slapped him on the shoulder, handing him a beer. "What do you think? Think it'll be a good night tonight?"

He shrugged, answered in a non-committed voice, "Is it ever?"

"Oh, someone's a little grouchy," remarked Jim, Jake's brother, who had an even further receded hairline and an even bigger beer belly. "What's a matter? Martha not want to give the pickle a little tickle today?"

"Shut up," was his growl, raising the bottle to his lips and taking a slug of it, he narrowed his eyes around the murky establishment he had been frequenting since before he could drive.

It was exactly the same. Nothing had changed.

Hell, this might as well have been the same bottle. It sure tasted like it.

He spit the beer back into the bottle, and made a face. "Shit, Harry!" he called out to the bartender. "What is this, piss?"

"It's the best you're going to get, Dakky. So you may as well shut up and drink it. We're not Hooters."

"But don't we wish," sniggered Jimmy, pulling out a deck of cards as his eyes roved over the crowd. "Not a good looker in the bunch." He sighed wearily, leaning against the wooden bar stained with cigarette burns and knife etchings. "Guess it'll be Samantha again."

"Why don't you just suck it up and marry her, man? One day she's going to end up pregnant and those five brothers of hers will whip your ass to kingdom come."

Dakota rolled his eyes and tuned out the conversation that they seemed to have every night, glaring at his bottle instead of listening.

He was about to complain to Harry again when suddenly Jimmy and Jason stopped their yapping and gasped.

Looking up, he found them staring at the door, their faces transfixed.

Curious, he turned to see what had caused the commotion, and suddenly found his stomach drop, almost falling off the stool with it.


"Who the hell IS that?!" whispered Jimmy.

Exactly his question.

The figure that stood in the doorway was incredible. She wore all black, slim fitting, revealing a figure that was.. Hell it was downright sinful. At least he thought it was. There was a black coat around her, and it seemed to swirl in the frigid wind in the open door, blowing off the hood, almost as if she had flown in.

He sucked in his breath.

Gadzooks. She was pretty. Her eyes were dark and so. damn. deep. and her young face was flawless, with these pouting lips and these cheeks.

But that wasn't the most amazing part.

The most amazing part was her hair. It was long and brown, and wavy and tumbly. and her bangs, they were white. Shocking white.

She didn't notice anyone in the room, not looking or caring that anyone was staring. She merely let the door close behind her, not seeming to notice the sudden silence at all, and glided to the bar.

That's right. She didn't walk. She glided.

Sliding onto the stool about ten feet away from them, she leaned forward, summoning Harry with a quirk of her finger.

The bartender sucked in his breath, and almost fell over his feet in his attempt to serve her.

Jimmy whistled under his breath as she leaned up, and over the bar in an attempt to whisper into Harry's ear.

"What an ass."

"What?" Dakota tore his seconds from her form long enough to glare at him. "You can't even SEE IT."

"I can see through it."

"Pssst. hey. did you get a load of her hair?" Jason whispered, coming around and cocking her head. "You think maybe she's a mutant?"

"A mutant! In these parts?"

"Well come on! I mean, she don't look like she's from around here."

"Mutant or not, I wouldn't mind getting me a piece of that."

"Oh will you guys shut the hell up?" Dakota growled, slamming his bottle down and glaring at them. "She 'ain't no mutant, and hell, even if she was, she wouldn't give either of you balding idiots the time of day."

Jimmy looked taken aback, but Jason just narrowed his eyebrow, slugging back another chug.

"What, and she'll look at you, Dakota?"

"Hell, I've got more chance than either of you ass holes."

Jimmy was about to say something, but Jason clamped his hand on his shoulder, and just smiled. "Alright, Dakky. Prove it. Go talk to her."

His throat suddenly felt a bit tighter. "What?"

"You heard me, Stud. You think you can have a shot at her? Go get her."

Jimmy smirked and Jason glared, and Dakota glared right back, taking his pissy beer and slugging it down, feeling his heart racing.

Screw that. He was no damn coward.

Getting up, he slammed the bottle down, and took a breath, turning to the direction of the woman with the white bangs.

He heard laughter behind him, and reached behind him, showing his buddies his very straight middle finger.

She didn't look at him as he sat down next to her. Her short black gloves hadn't been taken off, and they were misted over the coke that she had taken, her face hidden by the tumbles of her hair.

"Ummm. hey."

She paused, and then straightened slightly, turning to look at him.

He sucked his breath, running his hand nervously through his hair and smiling.

Damn she was pretty.

"Can I buy you a drink?"

She regarded him for a minute, her face passive, stone almost, and her eyes this dark color that was so full of moisture he wasn't sure what color her eyes were.

"Ah have a drink," she responded flatly, turning away.

He was too busy pondering her accent to realize she had just blown him off.

"Wow. Southern?"

"How'd you guess?" was the dry remark.

"Well you have an accent?"

"Really?" She turned, raised a perfectly arched eyebrow and looked him up and down. "Seems to me you've got the accent."

He stared at her blankly, and then suddenly laughed nervously. "Oh cause of. my speech. and YOUR speech. I get it."

She kept the arch raised, and gazed at him for one long minute, before her face softened slightly and she leaned forward.

"What's your name, sugah?"


"Dakota," she repeated, shaking her head. "Figures. Dakota, can Ah give you some well meant advice?"


"You see a woman in all black sittin' alone on purpose, it's usually cause she don't want company, you got it?"

He grinned slightly. "Well ma'am with all due respect, you're a stranger, and well. we don't get many strangers here."

Her dark eyes lifted to the bar and it's surroundings, and a rueful smile ventured onto her face. "Ah can imagine why." She took a breath, and sighed, turning to him. "Dakota, that was a hint. Ah don't want company. Now I realize those trucker types over there are givin' you a hard time, and at the moment Ah don't really want to be reminded of truckers, so, Ah'm going to smile very widely," this she did, flashing him a brilliant smile that made her entire face seem to sparkle, "And tell you very softly to go away, before Ah do somethin' that I'll regret."

He felt his heart drop slightly, and then felt it skip a beat when the beautiful woman's eyes fairly flashed.

"Right, I can take a hint," he muttered, sliding off the stool. He heard snorts behind him and sucked in his breath. "Can I at least get a hand shake or your name or something?"

She paused, cocking her head, drawing in a frustrated breath. "Ah'm not in the mood for talkin'."

"Then what are you doing in a bar?"

"Runnin'." Was the soft answer. He barely heard her, and when he did, he thought he misheard her.

The sting of the rejection flowed through him, and Dakota felt himself grimace.

Bitch. He was just trying to be nice.

"Right well. Miss.. It was nice to meet you. I hope you won't be a stranger."

He reached out a sweaty palm, and her eyes drifted down, looking at it. There was another group of snickers and he looked over the shoulders and glared at his companions.

Looking back at her, the way the white bangs framed the pale face, it was almost as if he was looking at some sort of dark angel.

"Are you a mutant?"

Her eyes widened, and she suddenly coughed, a smile floating on her lips. "Excuse me?"

He saw the surprise on her face at the question and suddenly coughed, feeling acutely embarrassed. "Stupid question, it's just. one of my buddies thought that and. nevermind."

Her eyes narrowed, but she didn't say anything.

His face burned red, and he sneaked another glance at Harry and Jimmy and Jason, all laughing and pointing at him.

Hell it seemed the whole damn bar was laughing at him.

Hell he was never going to hear the end of this.

He felt his gaze slide down to her moist, full lips, and felt a smile curl onto his face. He'd stolen a kiss before.

Just a kiss and he'd let her go. the frail thing wouldn't know what hit her. hell she might even like it.

And those damn bastards down the bar could eat their words.

"Come on, just a shake." He continued to extend his palm, and finally the Southern stranger shrugged and nestled her palm gently in his, shaking it slightly before trying to pull away.

He kept his grip firm, and with a whoop of victory he pulled, bringing her up and against his chest.

His mouth descended quickly, and his lips were met with a gloved hand.

With a sudden push, he was suddenly flung against the bar with such force he could feel the breath knocked out of him as the wood connected with his back, and his eyes widened.

What the hell? She couldn't have.

And her eyes flashed, so dark and hell. dangerous..


"Ah told you to go away," she whispered. "Ah've got a man with a very bad temper in mah head and I WARNED YOU." And her hands pulled at her gloves, freeing one as the whole bar watched in terrified silence.

With that amazing strength she had demonstrated when she had slid him into the bar, she grabbed him by the scruff of his shirt, pulling him down to her level.

"Wanna touch, sugah?" And suddenly her fingers were on his face.

He jerked, suddenly falling to the floor, his eyes wide as he felt the oddest sensations, so. weak. so.

She let him fall, watching with a conflicted face.

A gun cocking made her head suddenly turn, and Harry glared, his shot gun in her face. "Get out of my bar, freak."

The line just seemed to make her smile, and with a quickness that made the bartender jump, she pulled the gun away and bent the barrel in half.

Hands running through her hair, she looked down at the man who was shaking on the floor.

"He won't die," she drawled. "Just goin' to be weak for while."

"What did you do to HIM?!" cried someone.

And she merely shook her head, her eyes suddenly moist as she pushed her away through the crowd.

The doors were flung open, the winds filled the bar and seconds later, the woman in all black was no where to be found.

It was as if she had disappeared, and the only evidence of her earlier presence was the ruined gun and the shaking man on the floor, both victims of her splintering touch.


She had never thought the absence of one person would affect the school so much. Especially the absence of someone who had kept to herself so much.

But it was almost tangible. She could taste it on her lips, on her tongue. She could feel it weighing down on her chest and her throat was constricted because of it.

Her side ached, the stitches not quite fully healed, and her walk was always more gentle, her speech, always softer.

But she couldn't hide the expression in her eyes. And it helped. knowing she wasn't the only one that couldn't hide the pain, the conflicted emotions of not knowing what had caused her to run off.

It was the not knowing that really got to her.

The blasts to her side hadn't been bad. She had lain in the sterile white bed exactly a day, up before even Logan, Remy's strong hands helping her out, moving with her, never leaving her side.

Her heart tremored when she looked at the thief, his red eyes so telling of the anguish he was feeling.

She had never known just how much he had truly loved Rogue until she had looked into his eyes the moment she woke up and was told her best friend was no longer with them. That she ran. that she had almost killed Logan.

A ragged shudder flitted though her body and Storm closed her eyes, a hand on her forehead, feeling her body shake with the anguish. the pain that must have coursed through the young Rogue's body.

God she had loved Logan so much. with such passion.

Rogue where ARE YOU?

"Ms. Munroe?" Her eyes opened to find the young Darryl looking down at her, his hands behind him nervously, on his face an uncertain look.

She sat up, her gaze quickly drifted to the other students, who were also staring at her, on their faces open concern.

She coughed, taking a breath, trying to still her voice when she asked, "Yes, what is it, Darryl?"

"Are you all right?"

The concern in the troubled young boy made her still, looking and smile stiffly. "I'm fine, Darryl. Thank you."

There was silence, and again the students looked at Darryl, who appeared to have been chosen as the student delegate, as he licked his lips, and then bit down on his bottom one.

Her eyes searched his face thoughtfully. "Something on your mind, Darryl?"

"Well. yeah. actually." He ran a hand through his hair nervously, and one of the younger children, losing patience, spoke up.

"Is Rogue coming back?"

Murmuring immediately filled the classroom and Ororo felt her insides suddenly shake inside her. Again, it struck her how missed the Xmen was. Perhaps it was the tragic circumstances, but Rogue wasn't a teacher, not yet. And yet the students knew her... knew of her, enough to miss her... to want her back.

Storm had an idea that if any of them had disappeared, the reaction would be the same, but the emotion still lodged in her throat nonetheless.

"We're going to make sure, she does." She answered in a tight voice, her tone soft, gentle, despite the whiteness of her knuckles as she gripped the sides of her chairs.

"But she-"

"I don't know what you've heard. but we're going to get her back. Rogue is a dear friend of mine. of many of us, and we're not going to rest until we find her."

The certainty in her voice made a few of the younger students smile slightly, but others perceived the shaking, the liquid milkiness in her eyes that betrayed her own turmoil.

A clap of thunder sounded outside, and everyone jumped, leaving Storm to close her eyes and just breathe.

"Why don't we take a break?" she said after a minute. "Finish your assignments in your dorms. We're pick up where we left off tomorrow."

A statement that usually would have been followed with shrieks and hollers had instead been followed with the rustles of soft papers, pencils, low whispering.

Storm crossed her arms, shaking her head slightly.

Damn. It she had only known.

"Ororo." A knocking at her door drifted her out of her thoughts, and she found Remy's face, devoid of it's usual playfulness staring down at her.


He nodded shortly, swallowing before cocking his head to the hallways. "Professor is waking Logan up."

Storm's eyes widened, and immediately she pushed back her seat and rose, following Remy out her classroom and down the hallway.

It was odd.

For as long as she had been with the X-men, with Xavier, Jean had never been a patient in her own medical facility.

It felt extremely unusual, disconcerting, to be sitting on the bed, watching as the Professor and a young mutant worked, their attention on Logan.

She swallowed, looking down at her own white gown, crossing her arms and wrapping her hands around her waist.

She felt naked.

She felt trapped.

And she felt terribly worried.

Her hands fingered the stitches at her side, where the claws of the Falcon Man who had attacked her ripped into her.

They were healing, slowly. It still hurt to move fast.

But that was nothing compared to the aching in her own heart.

It was a curse of a telepath... she had yet to master what the Professor had, the ability to block out the pain when he needed to, to become apart from it...

And so she felt the anguish, the despair of her medical ward, of every person that had ventured into it.

And mostly, she had felt the wild fear, the panic, the desperation and the heartbreak of Logan when he was told that his little Marie, who had almost killed him, had disappeared.

He had almost broken Remy's arm trying to go after her, trying to break out of the ward. He had acted like the beast most people feared he was, trying to find his mate at all costs. It hadn't mattered to him that he was weak, that he was in no condition to brave the winds nor that they had no idea where Rogue had gone to, all that mattered was finding her.

She had been sleeping when it had happened, the pain shooting into her head, waking her up as she bolted straight, not caring about her wounds as they tore, eyes wide open to find the confusion and the panic that had invaded the place.

Kitty was crying. Jubilee was holding her tight, watching the scene with moistened eyes. Even Ororo was wakened by the noise, watching in horror, not knowing what had happened, unsure and confused.

Scott and Remy were holding Logan down as he thrashed about, and it had been the Professor that had finally put Logan down like a dog, with an entrance into his mind, shutting it down, not letting him think... not letting him feel.

She had almost envied him for a moment.

And in the quiet that followed Logan's unconscious state, she had been explained everything, leaning against her husband, his worried and panicked haze mingled with the relief at seeing her awake and alive, listening to Professor X in his calm tone talk about Rogue's disappearance as if a bottle of jam that had gone missing.

She knew him better than others. She wasn't angered by his placid tone. It was a deliberate soothing voice, because nearly everyone in that room had almost gone into hysterics.

The storm and thunder that racked the mansion immediately after the announcement didn't let up for three days.

And Logan was under all that time. Blocked from his mind, until Professor Xavier could come up with a way to find her... to group themselves together and find their lost soul.

Bringing her legs up under her, Jean watched from her bed, the still form of Logan on the table ten feet away. Even in his sleep, the man known as Wolverine had a frown in his face, his jaw firm, almost clamping, his eyebrow narrowed.

She swallowed, looking away, suddenly remembering. Rogue's face when she was cornered by she and Professor Xavier, told that a relationship between her and Logan could never happen, that she would only hurt him...

It had been a curse... a dreadfully wrong way to tell a scared child who looked and acted like a woman that the one hope, the one happiness in her life would never... ever happen.

How long must she have dreamed of Logan? Cherished him in her thoughts... It had to be mutual, for the two of them to fall in love so quickly... so completely...

Her hands reached up, burying her face in them.

DAMN. The guilt was weighing... damning...

A hand gently lay on her bare shoulder, and her head jerked up, surprised at not feeling his presence before.

Scott smiled at her, a tired smile that told of the stress of leadership that was weighing down on him now. She had searched his mind and found it full of what ifs... What if he had only seen the falcon coming, what if he had put the relationship to a stop earlier, what if he had kept Rogue with them...

A leader was not a position she envied him. Every loss he felt keenly, and when he had chosen to save his wife, he had lost his team member.

Without a word she reached up and slid her arms around her husband, pulling him in close. He held her tightly, and she reveled in it, knowing she needed his comfort just as much as he needed hers.

He sat on the bed with her, keeping her close, and she didn't say a word, a soft whimper emerging before gathering her strength, and pulling away. Looking up, she found his red lenses looking down at her, a small smile of worry and strength on his perfect lips.

"Hi," she breathed.

"Hey." He leaned forward, lips pulling against her own, a gentle caress of love before pulling away to gently press his lips against her forehead. "How are you doing?"

She shrugged, wiping at her eyes quickly. "Better."

"I meant in here." Gently, he tapped her foreheard, and she felt her throat suddenly close up.

Sighing, she leaned her head against him. "What do you think?"

He didn't say a word, his eyes suddenly distracted when the doors to the infirmary opened and Ororo and Remy stepped inside, their bodies close together, Remy unconsciously placing a hand to Ororo's waist in case her wounds flared up in pain.

Scott swallowed, closing his eyes for a minute.

Remy had lost the woman he loved. Maybe he may have never had her, her heart had always belonged to Logan, but... still... the thought of losing Jean in the way Remy lost Rogue...

His grip tightened on his wife.

Charles turned, regarding the two mutants that had just entered. "I'm assuming you heard?"

Remy nodded shortly and Storm merely crossed her arms, looking uncertain, and a bit scared.

Charles took a breath, and sighed, moving back towards Logan. "Fine. Scott, and Remy, come here, please. If he loses it like he did the last time, we might have to hold him back."

Jean caught Ororo's eye and the white haired Goddess of the winds started forward, gently pressing next to her old friend.

"You okay?" she asked in a low voice.

Jean sensed the true fear and slowly allowed a soft, tight smile to come over her face. "I'll be okay when we find her."

Ororo swallowed, and nodded, reaching out and gripping her hand, watching what was about to take place on the other bed.

Charles took a breath, leaning forward, gently placing his palms on Logan's forehead, closing his eyes and leaning forward, unlocking his mind.

There was a gentle quiet at first, and Scott was almost able to breathe easily, when Logan suddenly bolted upright.

The young mutant assisting Charles jumped away, but neither Remy nor Scott flinched away, arms crossed, waiting and watching.

Logan's hand immediately went to his head, weak and heady, as his mind suddenly became reconnected to his body. He groaned, blinking, his voice raspy and weak.

"What the fuck did you do to me?"

"Sedated you," Charles immediately responded, watching Logan with a placid, controlled expression. "You were a bit out of your head."

Logan's face contorted, looking away, burying his hands in his hair, grunting and groaning, his strong body appearing to shake as he tried to make sense of what had happened, tried to remember... to think...

Hands suddenly flew away from his face, and his eyes wide, he gave one pleading remark. "Rogue?"

He met Charles' gaze, hands on the edge of his head, eyes wide, looking so desperate, so full of worry and close to panic and desperation and pure hope...

And Charles slowly shook his head.

Logan's chest began to heave, a groan was torn from his lips, and looking up, he found his eyes meeting Remy's.

Wild panic swept through him, and Logan reacted much as an animal would... at the first person he could find.

A cry of pain tore from his throat, and before anyone had time to stop him, he lunged forward, grabbing the taller man and bringing him toward him.

"You were supposed to watch her! You were supposed to take care of her you bastard! How could you-"

"LOGAN! STOP!" Scott came forward, tried to pull Logan away, but the mutant wouldn't have it, pushing Scott away and continuing his assault on Remy.

"LOGAN!" Jean and Ororo slid off the bed, moving forward him, fear on their faces.

Only Remy, the recipient of Logan's anger, appeared unfazed. "That's right you animal. Tear me up with dem claws of yours. See if I give a damn." And out of nowhere a glowing card was produced and Logan was suddenly tossed halfway across the room.

He landed in a heap, not moving for a second, groaning, his hand on the wound in his chest. Remy's eyes flashed dangerously, was about to step forward when a crisp, clear order was barked.

"That is ENOUGH!"

The anger behind the usually calm voice made them freeze, and Logan and Remy both swiveled their heads to Charles, who was leaning forward, his eyebrows narrowed, his face contorted in anger.

"This has gone on long enough," he spoke in a low, dangerous whisper, a deep, controlled anger that made everyone still. "I'm bloody tired of having you break off in shows of hormonal testosterone that will get us no closer to finding Rogue." He swiveled, and his gaze leveled in on Logan. "Now you listen to me. I warned you about what would happen if you chose to pursue a relationship with Rogue. Until you came along we were her home, we were her family. We were her haven. You've turned this place into a hell of her, because you made her think things could be possible that COULD NOT BE YET." Logan glared, his breath heaving, his hands balled into fists, but the Professor continued. "I never said it could never happen, I SAID NOT YET. And you didn't give a damn and NOW we've lost her-"


The word invaded his mind, and he froze, turning his head slowly to Jean, not five feet away, hands wrapped around her thin frame, gently shaking her head.

Jean knew of his affection for Rogue. She knew that because of her melding with Magneto, Rogue knew him as no one else did. She knew and understood her anger. And she knew and understood, it appeared, Logan's as well.

Please. For Rogue. She loves him. And he loves her.

He swallowed, taking a breath, and closing his eyes, he nodded. When they opened, his body had relaxed slightly, and his gaze at Logan no longer held the animosity it had before. "Whatever you believe Logan, we LOVE Rogue. Everyone one of us in this room has come to care for her as family. We will do anything to get her back, and get her back we WILL. You are welcome to join us, as long as you do it our way."

"And what if I don't want to do it YOUR way?" Logan asked, his eyebrows narrowing.

Charles regarded him, and answered immediately. "You already tried it YOURS. That's what got us here." When Logan visibly winced, he straightened, and turned to the others. "Ten minutes. Then meet me in front of Cerebro."

Slowly, the group filed out, leaving Logan by himself, the wound on his stomach healing immediately. Jean alone stayed, gently reaching for her clothes, looking at him softly.

There was a wild desperation in his eyes, a wounded agony that shone from his orbs that told her she didn't have to reach out with her mind in order to feel the pain, the fear that was coursing through him.

He had lost her... she had nearly killed him, and he had lost her, and he blamed himself. The once proud, straight figure seemed buried with an invisible burden, and her heart heaved at the sight.

"Logan... I..." She wanted to say something... anything... and found nothing that came to mind. There were no appropriate words, no gentle soothing ways to tell him that it was going to be alright, that it wasn't his fault, that it wasn't their fault.

Words were always her strong suit, and yet at this moment, she knew there was only one thing she could do. So instead of speaking, instead of a long winded pep talk or a scientific analysis, she did the only thing she knew would work on a man like Logan. She leaned forward, and gently wrapped her arms around him, holding him close.

He stiffened, until his arms suddenly slid around the doctor, and pulled her against him, taking the embrace desperately, if only for a second.

She felt her heart heave slightly, and with moistened eyes, she smiled at him tightly, pulling back.

"Thanks," he said gruffly, looking embarrassed, looking away immediately.

She only cocked her head, and turned, leaving him alone in the piercing cold of the infirmary.

It really was an inconvenience she had developed the ability to fly.

His touch could only do so much, and she had surprised him, with her panicking, her gumption.

And he had to admit, that amused him as well. She had fire. Somehow he had known that. and now he cherished it.

It did make things so much more interesting, albeit a bit more difficult.

Her skin had been soft. so very soft, and so untouched, so. pure.

But her eyes. her eyes were so tormented and deep and dark. They were fascinating eyes

She was a contradiction, a mystery.

It would be a challenge when he found her.

When he found her.

It really was an inconvenience she had developed the ability to fly.

"We should have kept her grounded," he muttered to himself, his hands sliding into his pockets, looking around the dark area.

Now where could his destiny be?

There was a slither behind him, and he turned, his violet eyes picking up the reptilian man who was huddled in the large furs.

Poor cold blooded being. Augustus his eyes flicker over the mutant, and again felt the familiar tug in his heart. The want. The envy. The need.

"Are they looking for her?"

"Ssssoon they will be."

He pursed his lips, crossing his arms and cocking up, looking up at the hazy sky.

"Then we'll just have to find her before they do, hmm?"


Augustus chuckled and clamped the young mutant on the shoulder. "Let them try, old friend. Let them try."

There had been a moment once where all he had felt was pure panic.

When he had awoken from nothing, naked and shivering in the woods, dog tags around his neck, his body rigid, tight. painful.

The wild desperation, the fear, and the pain of NOT KNOWING. Not knowing who he was, not knowing where he came from... not knowing WHAT he was....

He had been an animal. A full on animal, and there had never been more pain or horror or surprise than the moment he panicked and felt the ripping of his skin to reveal claws extending from his body.

Lying with Marie in his arms, only two weeks ago, Logan had thought back to that time, and wondered, and then realized one very important thing. He had come so far, so close, and she was the reason. He had never felt more civilized, never more HOME, never more sure of himself, than the moment his knuckles gently smoothed up the line of her back, the silkiness of her gown underneath his fingers, the scent of her hair and her body filling his nostrils, the warmth of her weight sprawled on top of his, her breath light and soft against his neck.

He felt himself a man, and for once the alloy wasn't at attention, the fear and the desperation and the anger at the world that seemed to come so easily to his mind and his heart was banished far away. He had never felt more human.

Now, he was dangerously close to becoming the animal he once was, and all because he didn't know.

He didn't know where she was, he didn't know what happened, he didn't know why his little Marie had left. He was a man lost without the one thing that had given him a semblance of control. A man with a fury of love, animal love, with animal instincts.

And they were telling him to wait. To wait while they sat around and moped and cried and acted like a bunch of fucking pansies while Rogue... while MARIE was out there?

He growled, the grumble low, dangerous... menacing.

He paced the hall like a caged animal, eyes narrowed, wild, desperate. His hands were clenched into tight fists, his brow narrowed, and his eyes glaring.

No one, not even Jean, dared approach him. The mutants who prided themselves on being more human than human instead were on the sides of the hall, and they were all waiting.

For what, no one knew. Some held hope, others held dread, and even as they waited for Professor X's diagnosis, for him to locate the lost soul so they could bring her home, their eyes lay on the wild vixen's mate, a man who had returned and in less than a week, had reclaimed her heart and her sanity.

Logan paid them no minds. His muscles were taught as he stared at the door, almost seeming to want to will it open with his mind.

As if questioning, his eyes tore to Jean, who stood next to Scott, his face accusing.

"What's taking so long?"

"I... I don't know." Jean swallowed, taking a breath, looking away from Logan. It was an unspoken question that they were all thinking that Logan voiced, and she shuddered against the possibility that Xavier was having trouble.

It had to work. It was their only hope.

He breathed in and out, trying to flood the frustration out of his brain. His concentration was fading, and his strength was waning, and still he hadn't found her.

There was no sign of her, no image of the lost soul with the deep eyes and the deadly skin.

He couldn't even feel his presence, and he was so sure he could.

Come on, Xavier... she's counting on you, ole' boy.

He took a ragged, squelching the urge to even come close to panicking, and again gently reached out for her, searching for any brain pattern, any lock.

His mind swept for miles, and he was never sure where it was going...

Long, winding and steep, and still it continued.

And still there was no sign of her...

Xavier wrenched the helmet off in disgust, almost throwing the piece onto the floor in his anger.

She couldn't have just disappeared. Rogue was a mutant with a strong signature.

He pursed his lips, sighing looking down at the helmet that rested on his lifeless legs.

Closing his eyes he reached down, trying again.

The signatures, the minds of the countless entities slid through his consciousness, and with a jump of his head, he found something familiar: pain. loss. love. and anger.

He continued his descent, taking him through the snowy, bitter cold mountains.

He would find her.

He had to.


She was haunted by two pairs of eyes.

One animal. feral, and beautiful. It was amazing how those two pairs of eyes seemed to sear inside her, and it tore her apart.

Because he was inside her. In her mind, the conflicted soul delving deep within her, and not once did she receive the judgment from him that she so desperately wanted.

He had loved her. unconditionally.

Ironic, almost. Everyone had assumed him to be the animal. Not her. Never her.

And yet here she was, battling yet another consciousness of a man who's only crime had been to consider her beautiful.

Dakota had been born 30 years before. He had grown up in a small house in the corner of the woods, and his father was an Indian, but he never wanted anyone to admit that because he was from part of a town where people said "Injuns" with disgust and narrowed eyes.

There had been a lot of that lately. Racism. Hatred.

She often wondered if Eric was right, if they really was a war coming. Before the thought would horrify her. Now.

Her eyes drifted to her hands, and she took in a shuddering breath, looking away.

Her touch had killed before. And strangely she no longer had a problem with that. Sharing her body with these minds, this one surprisingly rooted still in her, even after a week, was becoming less of a pain, less of a battle.

Humans were easy to absorb, and in a way, she was glad for the loss of temper.

Because she could remember touch. if only in memories.

Still, nothing compared to the animal eyes that seemed to sear through her.

The brown eyes haunted her, along with a pair of violet eyes.

And the violet eyes were always accompanied with a searing, splintering touch.

The touch burned on her face as if she had been seared with a hot iron.

She had never remembered a touch as searing, and yet, as she looked in the mirror, the dark eyes seeming a little violet tinted themselves. The hand felt as if it had been imprinted in her cheek, and she felt branded. Marked.

Guilty and defiled.

Exactly what she was.

They were with her, calling to her, pulling to her, the smooth velvet voice, and she ran.

She was running from so many things, and deep down inside of her, she wondered it maybe she was a coward for refusing to face things, refusing to face Logan and refusing to face the man with the violet eyes and the soft searing touch and the smooth hands. Words of destiny shuddered through her.

She didn't want destiny.

She didn't want anything but Logan.

And because of that, she had almost killed him.

Her eyes closed and she leaned against the sink, feeling her mind suddenly split in two as the temper she immediately associated with Logan's flared up, so angry at her. Angry for running. For leaving him.

He would never understand. For Logan everything was black and white. Only Rogue saw all the grays between, all the have's and have not-s.

She was dangerous, destructive, and losing her mind to the voices in her head.

Of that she was sure. With absolute clarity.

Rogue slowly shook her head, taking a shuddering breath inward, moving away from the sink.

She couldn't look at herself anymore. The longer she looked the more she began to realize that she was never looking at who she was, but who she was not.

And she couldn't handle that right now.

Her life had been the same since she had taken off that day. Money had never been a problem. She had managed to secure it well enough.

She had become a thief. A true Rogue, and she was surprisingly good at it. With exception to the rather. disturbing incident in the bar, where she had taken Dakota the half Indian and put him in a coma, she had remained virtually unseen as she just kept moving.

She never planned on stopping, and the country was quickly getting too small for her.

And still, every moment, of every day, she was haunted by two sets of eyes.

And they never wanted to let go. Not in her mind, not in her heart, and not in her body.

She had been overtaken with incredible longing, pulls.

And she resisted them with every tug.

But she still felt branded.

She still felt Logan.

And God, she didn't think she could ever run from that.

So Marie, ever the girl, and ever the woman, crawled onto the cheap motel bed that she had rented because it reminded her of some distant memory that must have been Logan's, and she curled up, hugging her knees to her chest, and did the only thing she could do when paralyzed with fear and confliction.

Marie cried.

He punched a hole in the wall.

Remy LeBeau cocked his head, watching the beast that had taken his Rogue's heart, and driven her off with an almost passive face, his red eyes narrowed, the beating in his heart slowed to a soft dull.

At his side, the beautiful mutant who controlled the winds was silent, and on her face, in her eyes was a tormented anger, that was churning itself also through his body, journeying upwards, ready to burst.

This time Storm did nothing, merely took a ragged breath, and tore her eyes from Logan, back to Xavier.

Remy had no idea what to say. What to say or do now that their last hope was gone.

Logan seemed to be voicing their anger and desperation perfectly, however.


The professor didn't seem fazed by Logan's lack of composure at all, instead, oddly, he seemed grateful for it, almost as if knowing that Logan releasing his anger would keep the rest of them sane.

Remy merely crossed his arms, the trench coat swishing around him as he watched, listened. It was all he could do.

And Dammit, did he hate being helpless.

"I don't know. At one point I thought I had her. I felt her," his eyes went to Jean, and it seemed that the professor was speaking to her only for a minute. "The next minute I was blocked. It was so much emotion, and then she felt. branded. Her signal was no longer her own."

Feeling his heart shudder, the Creole's eyes went immediately to Logan, who's claws had suddenly extracted and suddenly the fist was in the wall.

"Logan," Storm had gasped beside him.

But the man who was Wolverine, the love of Rogue's life, merely glared, and immediately began shaking his head.

"I shoulda known better than to stay here." And with that, he suddenly whirled, walking away from them with a speed that rivaled even their resident speed demon.

"Logan," Jean's heels could be heard clattering, but he barely stopped. "Wait."

"For what?" he whirled, his eyes flashing and narrowed, growling under his breath. "So you guys can shut my mind down again, make me wait another week while Marie has some sort of BRAND on her?" he spit out his words, edged in disgust, narrowing his eyes. "I tried it your way. It doesn't work. I'm getting her back."

"And how do you propose to do that, Logan?" Xavier called, his face pained, his eyes clear and angry.

"I feel her. I can smell her. I know her. More than any of you who claim to love her SO much." He shook his head. "Any of you try to stop me." he didn't seem to want to make the statement, but a deep breath and a glare told what the words didn't.

No one tried to follow him.

Scott merely sighed, raising his fingers and massaging his temples in one exasperated sigh.

"Well? Any suggestions?"

Remy didn't say a word. His eyes darted down the hallway to the disappearing form of Logan.

His body was tense, his jaw hard.

Rogue was in trouble. He knew it.

And damn if the thought didn't just tear him up inside.


Ororo's voice was questioning, as if knowing what he wanted to do and wondering if he would follow through with it.

He gave her a long gaze, and suddenly tore his eyes away, and ran down the hall, after the man who had taken his Rogue's heart, and taken Remy's sanity with him.

The stares that followed him he didn't pay attention to, neither did he heed the calls of Ororo and Jean. He shut his ears and mind out to anything but the thought of Rogue in trouble.

He needed to find his beauty. And if teaming up with the beast would get the job done, well.

A Creole must do what a Creole must do.

His jacket was pulled on, gloves followed. Everything went into the duffel bag, and he turned, headed towards the doorway when his nose betrayed an all too familiar scent.

His nostrils flared, and a low growl rumbled from his throat.

But the irritating Creole merely shook his head, hands up. "Hold it, Logan."

"You comin' to try to get me to stay?" Logan sneered, his eyes narrowed. "'Cause you're an unlikely choice."

"Hell no." Gambit lifted up a bag, and cocked his head. "I'm comin' with you."

"Excuse me?"

"You heard me, beastie. I'm comin'."

Logan looked at him, his body still, cocking his head, before snorting. "Listen, pal. This isn't a gang deal here. I'm finding her and-"

"You'll need help." The accent was thick, but Logan understood him, as the red-eyed man glared at him. "I don't like you, you don't like me. Dat's-"

"An understatement."

"It's de truth," Gambit glared, crossing his broad shoulders and looking down at the powerful mutant. "Den if we can accept that, we can accept that you can't find her alone. I can help."

"How, Sparky?" Logan asked, a smirk on his face.

Remy merely quirked an eyebrow. "You ain't the only one with a past, beastie. I'm finding Marie. We find her together, we'll find her faster, comprendre?"

Logan was silent for a moment, his eyes looking down the hallway. Every second he waited, that was one second longer Marie was out there on her own. He didn't have time waste. But the Cajun wasn't moving, and although Logan was sorely tempted to impale the bastard, and throw him aside, he doubted that would be the . smartest thing to do.

"What about your 'X-men'?" he asked, his voice slightly sarcastic.

"Finding Rogue is all dat matters. You're the only one with a plan. I'm followin' it."

Logan stared intensely, the glare throwing daggers, but Remy never faltered.

He pursed his lips, and finally his shoulders tightened, his breath low and tight. "Alright listen, Red Eyes. We do this MY way. You fuck up, and you're on your own, you got that?"

Gambit almost laughed in his face, and just looked at Logan, stone-faced. "Don't make pretense, Logan. We hate each other. We love Rogue. Dat's enough."

Glaring at each other warily, the two men stepped immediately turned, and began walking towards the entrance slowly.

Logan shook his head, glaring at the man beside him, and closed his eyes.

Shit. Where the hell was she?

The bar was quiet. Harry sighed, wiping at his face, the humidity in the air from the bodies that frequented his place making him sweaty and annoyed.

The door leading to outside the tavern was now closed, he wasn't sure by who, but he noticed that ever since the "INCIDENT", people had been making sure the door was kept closed. Every time it opened, people's eyes flitted to the doorway, and strangers were most certainly not welcome.

He sucked in his breath.

Mutant bitch. Damn near ruined his business. And jobs were hard enough to find in this place.

He rubbed at the coffee stain at the bar harder, and grimaced when the varnish almost came off with it.

"Hey! Barney!"

"Yeah?" came the call from the back.

"What the hell kinda cleaner is this?"

"That new stuff. Supposed to be really strong."

"I'll say it is. Ruined my bar."

"Hell, Harry with them cigarette stains you won't even be able to tell the difference."

Danielle laughed, coming forward, the tavern regular with the big hair and too much make up giving the spot a languid look, before laughing.

"Aw, come on Harry. It's an improvement."

A rumble of laughter went though the bar, until the door squeaked open.

As was the custom, the bar suddenly went silent.

Harry waited, until he saw the large belly of the sheriff.

A collective sigh of relief went through the bar, and Harry smiled. "Sheriff! Get ya a beer?"

He waved his hand away, holding the door open. "Naw. I'm working."

A masculine hand opened the door wider, and Harry froze when suddenly a man in a black suit emerged.

And he had the craziest pair of eyes he had ever seen.

They were violet. He had never seen anything like it.

The man with the violet eyes walked gracefully, and on anyone else, it would have seemed he was vaguely feminine, had it not been for the masculine scent he seemed to carry, the power he seemed to exude in his obviously expensive suit.

He paused in the doorway, looking down, lifting one leather bound shoe to inspect the peanuts crunchings and the spilt beer that looked and smelled almost like urine.

He raised an eyebrow, and then gazed at the bartender who was watching with everyone else in the tavern.

"If I were you Mr. Larson I would invest in a broom."

Someone snorted, and the violet eyes swiveled, seeming to pinpoint the person. The person immediately stopped sniveling.

The sheriff coughed, hands on his hips as he waddled to Harry.

"This here is Mr. Augustus. He's with some government Agency, looking for that girl that came in here last week."

"That mutie?"

"The very one," Augustus confirmed, straightening his suit. "I've been tracking her for some time now. She's a wanted woman."

"No kidding. Girl's dangerous."

"Invariably so." He turned to the sheriff and offered him a polite nod. "Thank you for your time Sheriff."

"Hope you find the bitch," the sheriff muttered, waddling his way back to the tavern door.

Augustus' eyes narrowed slightly, but his lips pursed and he turned back to Harry who was leaning against the bar curiously.

"Thank you for your time, Mr. Larson. You say you saw the person I'm looking for."

"Wasn't no person, Mister. That there was a mutant."

"A mutant, you say?"

"Hell yeah. Had the strength of a bull, right near threw poor Dakky into the bar."


"Oh yeah. Just for stealing a kiss from her."

"The man took liberties?" Augustus asked, a hard edge in his voice that wasn't quite there before.

Harry looked a little taken aback and he quickly amended. "Well not exactly. He really didn't get that far."

"But that's what started this, wasn't it?"

"Hell he just wanted a kiss! Next thing we knew she was holding him against the bar, touched him once and put the poor bastard in a coma."

"He's still under, I take it?"


And Augustus seemed almost to smile, before he cocked his head and asked, "Did she anything about where she was going?"

"No. Just up and left. Lotta wind that day, couldn't really see much."

His eyes were quite dark when he merely gazed at the bartender. A gloved hand drifted down and traced the counter top. "She sat here, didn't she?"


Augustus was silent, his eyes glittering and Harry narrowed his eyes. "Are you a mutant?"

His eyes drifted upward, and a smile flitted across his face. "Unfortunately no. I'm very much human. Extraordinarily so."

"So you're like the police."

"Not quite."

"Then what are you?"

"A man in search of a destiny. Mutants are the future, Harry. I suggest you realize that and treat them accordingly. Thank you for your time. You've been of absolutely no help whatsoever. Good day."

He nodded, and turned, walking toward the door when Harry snorted.

"Hell them muties are too scared of us to do nothing."

The well-bred young man paused, cocking an eyebrow and regarding him, a cold and disdainful expression in his face that made the glare he gave the bartender that much colder.

For some unknown reason, the bartender stopped smiling

"Do you read the Bible?"

"Go to church every Sunday."

"No, Mr. Larson. Do you READ it? Ever sat down and opened those pages themselves."

"Hell no! Why would I?"

He was quiet for a moment, cocking his head, his violet eyes seeming to regard him, his face closed down with a pursed mouth.

"Fascinating character study. If you actually sit down and read the stories, you'll find quite possibly the most complete book on human emotion, relations, and acts that you could ever need. You learn a good many things. I suggest you peruse them."

He turned, dismissing him, but Harry was intrigued, and leaning forward, he called out, "Like what?"

Augustus paused, and gently turned his head. "Humans are fallible, Mr. Larson. All it took was one boy with a rock to bring down a giant. One woman with a seductive smile to bring down Samson. Seven trips around a city and it's strongest walls came tumbling down. Humans are weak. Kingdoms will fall, and in the end, the people to survive are the ones deemed fittest by the higher powers. No one can prevent that. All we can do is change with the times. The time of humans is over, Mr. Larson. The mutants won't be scared for long. And when they aren't." He paused, his eyes roving over the old tavern. A small smile flitted on his lips as he continued. "I would watch myself."

And with that, he turned and walked calmly out of the tavern, leaving the group of regulars to stare after him with a beating in their hearts and the urge to panic rising in their throats.

She had known they were up to something.

As much as they didn't want to admit it, Remy and Logan were men who were very much the same. They were men of action.

Unlike Scott, who thought everything through, along with Jean and Xavier, sitting here in the damned room DISCUSSING, they did something.

Storm felt herself swallow, doing her best to keep her face passive, her eyes betraying her lack of concentration by staring towards the door.

They would leave.

They were men of action.

But they were also damn stubborn, and prone to rash things.

Ororo Munroe knew this too well.

She was quiet, serene in appearance, so often so quite and serene that people tended to forget who she was. what she was.

She was a storm, pure and simple. Sometimes, most of the times, it was a light shower, pleasant cool, and in rare times, she had the capacity of a hurricane, dangerous, temperamental.

And desperate.

The desperation in Logan's face, in Remy's eyes was infectious, because although Storm had repeated to herself time and time again she was no longer what she was before.

There was a part of her that identified with them, knew them.

She had been a rebel and a thief, a past she had been driven to by hatred, racism, and the utter rage of humans.

She had been taught a new way, a better way, and for that she would be grateful to Xavier always.

But her past whispered to her that Logan and Remy had merit.

Her eyes roved after Scott, the haunted weight of leadership on his face, to Jean, her beautiful face tight and drawn.

They could read her mind. They would know what she was thinking.

They might stop her.

Slowly, she stood, grateful that the discussion had achieved such an intensity that her quiet moving was not missed, until she reached the door.


She froze, looking back, to find them looking up at her.

"Yes professor?" she asked sweetly.

"Where are you going?"

"I'll be back."

That wasn't a blatant lie. She did plan to be back. Eventually.

Xavier wasn't convinced, and Storm didn't give him the opportunity to shut her mind down, or something equally powerful.

He was capable of it, and all she had was the element of surprise.

She waited a moment, and suddenly his eyes narrowed, and it was her signal.

Storm sprinted, closing her eyes, and crashing though the window, airborne in minutes.

She felt pulls, but she fought against them, and shutting her eyes, she concentrated, the storm and thunder coming immediately distracting, blinding, to everyone but her.

And her eyes a milky white haze, she shot up to the sky, until she was sure he was no longer trying to pull her back.

He could find them in an instant, and that meant they didn't have much time.

Pursing her lips, Storm shook her head. Leave it to men not to think of that.

Damn it.

A woman had to think of everything.

She had had no inclination to go into the bar.

Bars were dangerous. They were filled to the brim with people, and in Rogue's shattered state and broken heart, she knew that interacting with people when she had some very anti social mutants in her head was most likely not a good thing.

But it drew her. And in her mind, a smooth, velvety voice whispered that she shouldn't care, that she was better than them. That they deserved it. They were human.

And she shook her head and tried to walk away, tried to stay in the shadows, anything to break free from the burn in her mind.

The lights, the crowds, something in her mind told her that she was going to find answers, something. It was a ludicrous thought, and had she passed through this city a few days ago, she might have fought the feeling.

But her desperation was growing, as was the chasm in her heart, and so she leaned against the lamp post and watched.

She was certainly dressed for the occasion, the all black that had become her staple quite close to what a lot of the other woman were wearing.

A gloved hand floated to her cheek, and she closed her eyes against the searing touch. The brand was flaring up again, pulling her, marking her.

But they're were humans in there.

And she didn't want to see humans. She didn't want to touch anyone, see anyone, unless she had to. She didn't want to be found, and she was so tired of running.

The pull guided her, told her it was okay, and her heart tremored, the panic that she knew was Logan inside of her warning her against it, against her destiny.

But her legs slid off the curb and she walked, her eyes dark and glazed, her face beautiful and drawn, and her gait filled with an authority she didn't feel.

The men guarding the club looked up, saw her, and suddenly nodded, unhooking the ropes, and to the gasps of the people waiting in lines, just let her walk in.

They didn't question who she was.

She didn't ask how they had known her.

It was a destiny. It was a search. It was something she belonged to, one she had been running from too long. It had become more than a search, more than an escape. It had become a pull she had become too fragmented to resist.

She saw Logan everywhere now, terrified that one day he would pop up, terrified that one day it would not be her paranoia and it would really be him, and she would have no idea what to say or do.

She wouldn't have the strength to leave him again.

She was dying without him as it was.

But God, she'd rather it be her than him.

She would die before she hurt him again.

So she let the pull take her, not knowing where else to go, not knowing what else to do. And listening to the smooth voice that wasn't inside her body, but worming it's way from her skin into her very soul. Into her eyes.

Inside the bar, her eyes searching ignoring the patrons, knowing immediately who it was that she was looking for.

And the music drifted through her, pulling her, and suddenly her eyes slid, and then she froze.

She was staring at a pair of violet eyes.


They had taken two motorcycles. Remy hadn't bothered to ask how they would find her, and Logan didn't bother telling him.

They didn't bother mentioning they both loved her. And they didn't bother mentioning that at that moment, because of that fact, they almost liked each other.


Instead both leaned into the wind, Logan squinting and Gambit sliding on the glasses that kept his dark eyes open, his trench coat sliding behind him, both very clear in their resolve.

She wondered if they knew where the hell they were going.

Not that they weren't smart men, they were. Very smart, just not the think it through type, and in a journey as daunting as this one, that was they needed. Someone who remembered Rogue's character, her traits, her personality, a bit more than ogling her friend's other assets.

In other words, someone without a dick.

Storm took a breath, and her eyes misted over, and suddenly the wind they were leaning into was that much fiercer, making them both jerk their heads, immediately wary. Logan continued to try and beat it, so she raised an eyebrow, and made it stronger, almost flipping the machine under his thighs over.

Surprisingly, Gambit was the one who caught on first, his eyes narrowing slightly, and sliding the bike to a stop, ripping the goggles off his face and glaring up at the sky.

His eyes locked with hers, and Storm, standing prettily about ten feet above them, hovering gently, smiled, floating down and landing on the ground.

Remy cocked an eyebrow, looking placid as he said, "Well, if it isn't de Goddess, Ororo."

Logan growled, swinging off the bike and heading towards her.

"Logan," she began, cocking her head to regard him.

"You tell 'em they can take they're cerebro shit and stick it up their-"

"I hate to blow on your parade, beastie," Gambit suddenly interrupted, "But don't ya think that if dey wanted to stop up dey'ed have done it by now? And not sent her?"

Logan stopped, for a second looking confused. Ororo smirked, and suddenly a bolt of lightning slammed about five inches from his heel. He jumped in surprise.

"Watch it Logan, she's going to fry your ass."

"I'll do no such thing." She ran her hands through her long white hair, and then stepped forward, her face suddenly all business. "You're taking me with you."

"What?!" Logan's eyes widened, and then immediately narrowed. "Why the hell does everything think this is an invitation event?"

Gambit merely looked at her, a small smirk on his face.

She winked back, and then shrugged her shoulders, walking in front of them, and turning around, one eyebrow raised.

"You had a good idea, Logan. I'm merely, raising it up a notch. We do not have much time, therefore I'm leading this mission."

"You're WHAT?!" Logan snarled, his eyes widening, his fists balled. "What the-"

"Rogue is my best friend, LOGAN," she snapped, the dainty voice suddenly gone, replaced with a harder, angrier tone. "I want her back just as much as you do and you need someone who's not thinking with their... you know," she remarking, motioning to their waist.

Gambit glanced down and smiled, but Logan actually looked offended.

"I'm thinking with my heart."

"And so am I." She gave a sad smile, and then the skies above crashed, as she floated above the air. "Now I suggest we start where we lost her. Any complaints?"

Gambit shrugged, and then looked towards Logan.

He glared for a minute, huffed for a minute more, but the impressive form of the goddess of the winds with the striking white eyes hovering above them seemed to win out, because he finally just stuck a cigar in his mouth and hopped on the bike, kicking the stand and revving the engine.

"Lead the way, Stormy," he muttered.

Storm smiled.

"Thank you Logan. I think I will." And with that she flew, leaving the two men to follow on the ground.

She was paralyzed. There was an instinct inside her that told her she should have run, she should have tried to stay away from this place, where all she saw was him, those eyes.

Those mesmerizing eyes.

Her hands clenched into her fists, her heart hammering as she looked down at his bare hands.

"We had a devil of a time finding you." He spoke softly, his voice vibrating through her, almost seeping into her, seeming so familiar... so hauntingly familiar.

She closed her eyes against it, but there was a cluck of disapproval, and her eyes opened again to see him shaking her head.

"No, no, dear. Keep those beautiful eyes focused on me, won't you?" His hands motioned to his eyes, and he continued forward, sensing her panic, because he stopped. "Now do me a favor and stop with the violent outbursts. I know you're a bit confused right now... Marie."

Her eyes flashed opened, and suddenly her heart skipped a beat, her senses suddenly alive.

"You ... BASTARD," she whispered, backing away, suddenly afraid, so very afraid.

"Rogue, dear." He came forward, and his eyes never left hers, shaking his head, something in the movement, the way he seemed to own the floor, the air, making her steps falter. "I know you're thinking of him. I know he's in your head. I know there's a lot of people in there. But I can take that all away. I can take that all away dear girl. All that hurting in your head. All that pain. It's eating you alive, I can see it. Anyone can see it."

She closed her eyes against the voice, against the eyes, and then suddenly froze, never more afraid, not of him, but of herself. She wanted to believe him. God she wanted to so much. She wanted to trust him, and she had no idea why.

And then she felt it. The skin, the touch across her bare face, and she sucked in her breath, feeling the shivers, the ecstasy of touch, of skin against hers, the finger soft as it drifted over her cheek, over her lip.

Her eyes opened and caught his, and her eyes were moistened, as a tear drifted down her cheek, down her trembling body.

His eyes flickered to the droplet, and his thumb slid off her mouth to the moistness, wiping it away. "My poor dear."

"How can you do that?" she asked raggedly.

And he stilled, and he smiled, leaning forward, boldly taking her other hand and intertwining her fingers with his, squeezing them tightly in a lover's embrace.

"Come with me, my dear Rogue. Come with me, and I'll show you. You want answers. I can provide them. Stop running. I'll only find you. you can't beat this. you can't beat us." He raised her palm to his lips, and gently, pressed his lips against them, the kiss making her suddenly shudder.

Her breath was ragged, and her mind, God her mind. She felt Logan inside her, warning her, almost pleading with her to stay away, to pull away from this man's touch. She felt Dakota, the human cowering away inside the back, fearful, so very fearful. And Logan... it always came back to Logan.

He was telling her to leave, to strike.

But his eyes.

And his touch. He could touch her, and no one else could do that. And he could.

Oh, God, Logan I'm so scared.

But she bit her lip, and she pulled away from the touch. But she didn't run. Instead she closed her eyes, taking a ragged breath, trying so hard to find herself in her own mind. She caught a fragment, and with her palm against her aching forehead, she straightened, and then looked at those paralyzing eyes.

She had to know. She had to know how he could when Logan couldn't. She had to know how he could not die. How he could not be hurt.

If she found out... then she could... find Logan again.

"Fahn," she drawled shakily. "Fahn. Show me. It doesn't mean Ah trust you. Or that Ah even like you."

And those lips that were perfectly made slowly drifted into a low smile, and his hands stretched outwards, past the bar, past the club, past the world it seemed.

"Welcome, my beautiful girl. Welcome. Welcome to your destiny."

Perhaps the most frightening of this entire ordeal was the sheer unpredictability of it.

Jean had to admit, that being a telepath came with a sort of power. There were very little times when she was surprised of anything anymore, the knowledge that if she was unsure of anything she could slip quietly into a mind and discover exactly what she needed to know.

Not that she did that often. The times she needed to use such an invasion of privacy were rare, and her telepathic abilities were most commonly used willingly by the X-men teams as a communication vessel, a way to coordinate on the most dangerous missions. She suspected strongly that one of the reasons that their previous mission had gone so tragically wrong was her near death experience.

But she had not been able to predict Rogue and Logan's new feelings. Nor had she been able to predict Rogue's nearly fatal touch of Logan and Rogue leaving, then Logan leaving, and Remy following.

Storm leaving she most definitely did not expect.

Nor did she ever expect to see Charles Xavier, friend, father, mentor, so completely desperate and angry.

She sat with her legs crossed, watching her husband's face drawn and tight as his arms crossed, watching alongside of her while the Professor rolled back and force in front of Cerebro.

He was disappointed. Disappointed, angry, and completely full of rage. Not that she could blame him. At this moment, Three of his children, his very best X-men, and quite possibly two of his very best friends, had disappeared, lost to him, with no regard for his authority, or his plan.

That had never happened before. Charles had never been surprised by his mutants, never lost control of their trust, and had never lost faith in them.

She wasn't sure what hurt worse, to see him lose faith in them or to know that in order to have left the way they had, they had to have lost faith in him.

In them. In all of them.

She swallowed, knowing that she and Scott fell in line with the same category as Xavier. The leaders. Who at this moment could not be trusted to find one woman.

Logan. Remy. Ororo. Rogue.

Good God.

"Four." His voice was tight, angry. "Four of my leaders. Four who I trusted. Gone. Gone and I had no idea. I had no way of stopping it. Four."

"Professor, they were frustrated and panicked." Jean's face drifted to Scott, heard the pleading expression and it warmed her heart to see the saddened leader of the splintered group defending his teammates. She loved him for so many reasons, but at this moment, she seemed to love him all the more for that. His faith that was never lost. "They-"

"Do not defend them, Scott. Not now," he snapped, his fists put together, his hand on his chin. He was quiet for a moment and then looked up at Scott. "Do you think they're the only one's who felt Rogue's absence keenly? Do you think Logan even thought once to consider that he might not be the only factor in Rogue's life? Of course not. All they're going to do now is get themselves in trouble, because they're three mutants with dangerous powers and dangerous mindsets running around in a human world that fears them." He swallowed, biting off his words. "It was bad enough having Rogue out there. But now Logan, and Remy?"

"I think you lack faith in them, Professor," Scott said firmly, a bit of hesitancy despite the even tone.

Xavier was silent, and then turned, regarding Scott. "If I have lost faith in them, Scott, it is because they have given me every reason."

Jean shuddered, hearing the judgment, the anger, and mentally cleared her mind of any reaction whatsoever. To judge would be so dangerous now.

She couldn't judge anyone's actions, not anymore. There was so much unpredictability and lack of control and her Professor was falling prey to it as well.

"I've not lost my mind or my anger, Jean," came the voice. She looked up, her cheeks blushing. "If I had I would never had let them leave."

"Of course you would have, Professor," she answered calmly. "Because you believe in choice. Not slavery."

He was quiet, eyes regarding her, before looking away.

Scott's voice was low. "I can take a few of the others, take the jet, convince them to come back-"

"No." Xavier's hand was on his chin, eyes thoughtful as he regarded the screen on the wall. "No. Let them go." There was a tired resignation in his voice, and he sighed, "After all, Logan punching holes my walls was hardly productive, was it?"

Scott was shocked into silence at the joke, but managed a chuckle, and the Professor leaned back, taking a deep breath.

"This only goes to show one thing, Jean." He turned, studied her face. "We're all incredibly human. No matter what anyone says."

She answered with a tired smile. Her hand raised to her hair, intending to brush it back, her mind wandering back to the look on Storm's face as she left them so abruptly. There had been confliction on her face, in her thoughts. She had understood both sides, and never once did the Weather Goddess lose her temper, or her thoughts. Storm had been completely rational.

She felt her mind suddenly freeze, and her eyes widened. "Professor!"

The excited tone made both Scott and Charles give her a scrutinous glance, but she barely noticed it as her eyes suddenly shone. "I have an idea. I have an idea how to use this to our advantage. How to make us a team again. I have an idea of how to find Rogue."

The firelight was flickering, and Ororo made the motions, rubbing at her arms as she leaned in front of it, her eyes watching the sky above her with narrowed lids.

"You sure you don't want one of these?" A blanket was thrust into her lap, and Ororo looked down at it in surprise, looking up to see Gambit staring down at her.

"I'm fine," she said, handing it back.

He didn't look convinced. "And your side?" He indicated to her wound, kneeling in front of her, searching her face.

His eyes were always so fascinating to her. The dark red, flaming at times, amidst the black was haunting, and she found her own orbs locking with his.

"I'm fine," she repeated, standing up, moving around him. "You should get some sleep."

"I can't." He stood, stretching slightly, his hands on his powerful thighs as he kneaded his muscles. "If it was upta him we'd be still ridin'."

Ororo turned, swallowing, the knowledge of why they were camping in the middle of the woods coming back to her as she saw Logan's broad back, turning away from them, huddled on the floor.

"He's worried. I don't blame him."

Gambit was silent for a minute, coming up behind her. She closed her eyes as his warm shoulder brushed hers, and when her eyes darted to meet the Frenchmen's, his eyes were clouded, focused on Logan. "Why does she love him so much?"

Ororo swallowed, moving slightly away. "Because he understands her."

There was a snicker that followed that statement and her eyes narrowed, crossing her arms as she turned and regarded him. "Skeptical?"

"A bit, Cherie." Remy cocked an eyebrow, running his hand through his shaggy mane before squatting down, the fire making his eyes shine. "I think he's not de only one tha' understands her, is all."

"Maybe not," she agreed slowly, her voice even, dry. "But she may be the only one that's see him, the real him, and loves him regardless. It goes both ways Remy, and you just can't worm into something like that."

His head snapped up, his eyes suddenly locked with hers. "What are you saying, goddess?" he spoke sharply, his accent thick in his agitation.

She was quiet for a moment, and then her chest suddenly heaved, betraying some emotion she hadn't bothered to share with him yet, and she turned away. "Nothing yet."

He stood, and then looked back at the fire, kicking at it with his feet. "You think it bothers me? Tha' she loves him? Dat isn't why I'm doin' this, chere. Not even close. She's a team mate. And I love her."

"I know."

They were silent for a minute, and he took a shuddering breath, stretching out on the floor, looking at Logan for a second. "You sure you belong here, Goddess?"

"I'm more dangerous than you are, Remy. And yes, I do belong here." He sat up to regard her flashing eyes, and suddenly his face slid into a smirk.

"Ya got spunk, Ororo. Always liked that about you."

"Glad you approve."

"Oh, I do." He winked, and despite herself, Ororo felt herself suddenly smile.

"Cajun thief."

"And damn proud."

She shook her head, about to respond when a flash ripped through her brain, so powerful she almost stumbled.


She blinked, shaking her head, her heart suddenly hammering in panic. Gambit stood, in his eyes concern. "You alright?"

She shot him a distracted smile, and her hand reached up to her forehead. What the-

ORORO, it's me. It's Jean. Don't panic.

Don't panic?! They were hundreds of miles away from the school and Jean was in her head and she wanted her not to panic?

Just... trust me please. I know it's odd, but we need your help.

"My help?"

Gambit frowned, and when Ororo shot him a wild look he came forward. "Storm?"

Don't tell him anything, Storm, please. Just trust me. For our friendship.

"Uh... I'm... fine."

"I don't believe you."

She bit her lip, stumbling a bit at the shock of the invasion in her head. "Woman issues." That seemed to work because he immediately backed off.

"Okay then. I'm going to bed," was the quick response.

She took a shaky breath, and closed her eyes.

Jean. What the hell?!

Storm. Hanging with those two bandits has you picking up some bad habits.

The amusement that she sensed in Jean's thoughts made her grimace, crossing her arms.

What do you want, Jean?

We need your help, Ororo.

Jean if you haven't noticed I'm not in a position to-

You're in the perfect position, Ororo.

Storm bit her lip, and then looked around the camp warily, before rising into the winds, into the treetops.

Okay, explain.

Look, we're not angry that you left us, Storm.

Good, because none of us really feel too bad about it.

And you shouldn't. You did what you felt needed to be done. All of us. But don't cut us out of the loop. We can still help each other. We can still be a team.

Ororo slid to a branch, settling down, looking down at the campground where the two men lay still.

I'm listening.

We still have all the resources here. The media watch, Cerebro... We can use them to help you. Keep in touch Storm, and as soon as you find Rogue, we'll join you, use the jet to get there as soon as we can, and bring her home. Bring all of you home.

Ororo sighed, leaning against the tree, somehow calm despite the fact that her head was currently being used a live walkie talkie. And the professor?

I'm in complete agreement, Ororo.

Her eyes shot open at the sound of his voice in her head, and she almost slid off the branch. He was calm. Rational. He ...

No, Storm. I'm not angry. Disappointed, yes. She swallowed, taking a ragged breath, but keeping quiet. Jean has a good idea. Logan needs something to do. If we kept him here any longer he would have become a hindrance. He's blind with his love for Rogue. Having him out there with you there to control him and Remy's rambunctious temper has merit. You think like them, but you think like us as well. It's an asset.

You want me to play both sides.

There IS no sides, Storm. Only one team.

She winced. I understand. I'm sorry.

You'll help us? Help Rogue?

Of course I will. I am still an X-men, professor.

There was a pause, as she waited with a furiously beating heart.

Yes you are, Storm. Thank you. She swallowed, her eyes suddenly watered with gratitude. A clink in her mind told her the professor was gone, but the communication flared up again.


She stifled a smile. Yes, Jean?

Try to keep those two under control, will you? Singe them a bit if you need to.

Don't worry. I got it under control.

Thanks.... Good luck.

Storm felt her mind return to her own, and she sighed, letting the wind carry her down, softly, until she reached the ground where the unknowing men slept, snores coming from both sides of the fire.

She put her hands on her waist, and felt a small smile of affection float on her face.

Oh, Rogue. What these men would do for you.

She swallowed, and shook her head, settling down on a log, sitting in between the thief and wolverine.


She felt the lightning crash above her.

Hang on, Rogue. Hang on.


She wasn't sure when she had fallen asleep.

All she knew was that seconds after he had welcomed her to his world, she had suddenly lost track of time, and before she knew it she had been carried gently in his arms into what looked like a suite.

Her eyes had jolted open, the feel of his rough cheek against her own as he set her gently down. With a gasp, she felt her heartbeat suddenly race, and she pushed away from him.

He smirked slightly, and then motioned with his hand. "Your room."

It looked exactly how she expected it to look.

She wasn't even sure she was expecting her suite to look like it did until she walked in, and the canopy covered bed met hers. The wine and fruit at the table made her own stomach betray her, as the smells of the exotic foods invaded her nose.

She paused, breathing in, turned around the large room, and then froze when she felt the soft hands at her bare shoulders.

Her breath sucked in and she immediately moved away, but Augustus merely chuckled, a low, velvety rumble that seemed to accompany the smile perfectly.

"Don't be afraid, dear girl," he whispered, coming forward, sliding his arms gently around her waist. "You don't have to be afraid here."

"Funny, Ah seem to think the exactly opposite," she whispered heatedly, feeling the anger that must have been Logan's flare up inside of her at the exactly same time her body shuddered from the heated caress. With a swallow, she grabbed his arms and pushed them roughly away. "Keep your hands off of me."

He raised an eyebrow, and his beautiful violet eyes bore into her for one long minute. She found herself looking away before he did.

"You want to learn, don't you?"

"Yes," she whispered, her jaw clenching. "But that isn't an excuse to be pawin' me anytahm you like. We're not-"

"Oh, but we are." He again came forward, but he didn't touch her, merely sat down next to her, his weight making the bed creak. "Can't you see that Rogue?"


He was quiet for a minute, and then smiled gently. "It's him, isn't it? In your head? He's making you feel guilty."

She closed her eyes, and then they opened with a flash.

Two seconds later his head was whipped with a powerful slap that had come from her own stinging hand.

There was absolute silence, that she filled in willingly, "Don't you dare mention him. Ah don't' know how you know about him, but you keep him out of this."

He reached up, gently rubbing at the spot she marked, and then put his hand down, craning his neck slightly. "I would like nothing more. But it's not me that's keeping him here. It's you."

"Get out."

He paused for a second, and then suddenly chuckled, the laughter bursting from his tight frame with a shake of his head, as if he was in on some private joke that only he knew. He got up, buttoning his suit, and then turned, planting a soft kiss on her temple.

At the brush of the lips against her head, she found herself closing her eyes, leaning against it slightly, and then the anger flared up and her eyes snapped open and she narrowed her eyes, sliding away from him.

He was quiet for a moment, and then just shook his head.

"No one's done that for you, have they?"

She didn't answer, and he smiled softly.

"I'm your first." With a cluck he walked towards the doorway, pausing once to look at her slightly. "Oh, my dear girl. We'll remedy that confusion right out of you. There's only so much room in that head of yours. We'll see if we can't free some of that up."

Her eyes widened as he shut the door behind her, and suddenly the tension that had been building in her body, the conflicted anger, the desire, and dammit... the LUST suddenly spilt from her as she grabbed a glass from the table and threw it, forcing it to shatter against the door.

God, Logan....

She found herself gasping for breath, sagging against the bed, her fingers reaching up to slide across her forehead. Where he had kissed her. Where he had touched her.

Her heart belonged to Logan. She knew that. He knew that.

But what the hell was her destiny? Why was she so damn confused? Why had she let herself get talked into this?

Why the hell was she so damn scared?

Marie, suddenly feeling so young, and so old, and so lonely, and so incredibly confused, pulled her legs up on the huge bed, and let her cheek rub against the satin sheet.

It smelled sweet. It smell of lilacs and spice and cologne.

It didn't smell like Logan.

And she hated it.

But her hand still slid across the satin, and her body still felt the shudders of the touches of Augustus.

Oh God. She was so scared.

It had been an extremely tiring week. He was exhausted. The lenses hid the haggard eyes, but the tight line of his mouth, the hard jaw, gave away the simple frustration in his face.

And he was stuck with research. Fearless leader, who was so pivotal in all the missions, when his friends were gone and his teammate missing, was for the moment useful in only one purpose.


Scott had never been a computer person. He wasn't sure why. It wasn't that he was scared of the machines, that wasn't it in the slightest, and by average standards he was really quite good at ... doing whatever needed to be done.

But for what he considered an art on these dreaded things, and doing it fast, he needed someone a bit more experienced... and a bit more reliable.

Well... he'd settle for experienced.

The door resounded with a loud knock, and he turned, calling in the younger man.

Bobby poked his head in, and Scott took the moment to study his face lightly.

The young face was drawn, and for a moment, Scott was astounded with the realization that while Rogue was considered as much a teammate, a colleague as the old timers Jean, Ororo and himself, these adults, Kitty, Jubilee, Bobby... were still thought of as children. Teenagers.

So no one thought twice about them, about what they meant to Rogue, her old classmates, her old friends her first friends.... When she had disappeared about all they had cared about were themselves. How Logan felt, how Jean felt... how Scott felt.

And these younger X-men, who were every part as much of the team as they were, had been her friends first, had taken her in and made her feel wanted and loved, had been forced to suffer in silence, not even told what had happened.

And from the look on Bobby's face, the lack of knowledge was slowly searing them apart.

"Bobb-... Iceman." he corrected himself, calling him by his given codename. "How are you?"

Bobby gave him an incredulous look. "With all due respect sir, how do you think I am?"

Scott could only imagine.

Dammit Scott. Some leader you turned out to be.

He took in a breath, and nodded slightly, sitting up and crossing his arms. "I'm sorry, Bobby. I know we've been less than ... informative about what's been going on."

"Considerably, sir."

He sucked in his breath, closing his eyes, and then focusing them on Bobby's angry face. "You want it straight, Bobby? Rogue's gone. You know that. She almost killed Logan. You know that. We can't find her. You must have guessed that. Logan took off after her."

Bobby's eyes widened, and he stiffened.

Scott narrowed his eyes. "You didn't know that." He pursed his lips, and continued. "All right. Yes, Iceman. Logan is gone. Along with Remy Lebeau and Storm."

"What? Miss Munro-... Storm?!"

"Yes. As in Absent Without Leave." Scott gave a soft sigh of frustration, reaching up to rub at his eyes gently. "Luckily, Jean had managed to tweak Cerebro along with Xavier to communicate telepathically with Storm, and she has agreed to help us. We're going to do this a little differently than we've ever done. And we need you're help."

Bobby was silent, swallowing once, before sinking down into a chair. "To find Rogue?"

"Yes. We're going to find her." Scott took a breath and then turned to the screen sitting before him. "You're a whiz at these, if I recall."

Bobby nodded absently, his eyes darkened. "Rogue's in trouble, isn't she?"

Scott froze, his fingers on the keyboard. His shoulders were bunched, so tight he didn't even realize it until he let a long breath out, relaxing them slowly.

"Yes," he answered after a minute. "We really think so." He swallowed, and then turned to Bobby. "But she won't be for long. Because we're going to find her. Right?"

Bobby's eyes bore into his, and there was a clarity in Rogue's best friend's face that made Scott almost smile.

"Yeah. Yeah we are. Lemme at this." he shoved Scott gently away from the monitor, forcing the X-men leader to get up, move around him as Bobby's fingers began to fly rapidly over the keys.

"So what am I doing exactly?"

"News archives," Scott answered immediately, the screen images flickering against his lenses. "Anything about someone that would have some sorta of characteristics like Rogue. Incidents, that sorta thing."

"Got it." Bobby's fingers tapped on the keys rapidly, his iris' moving down the screen, as he searched the browser. "Mutant, comas,.... let's see if we can narrow it down." Scott placed a hand on his shoulder as Bobby grinned when suddenly the articles on the screen were narrowed down to three hits.

"Let's see what we got," Scott breathed.

Bobby clicked on a link, and then read outloud. "Old town.... Midwest... coma.... mutant..."

"And a bar." Scott narrowed his eyes. "Sounds like Rogue."

"Rogue hates to go bar hopping."

"She's got Logan in her head, remember?"

"Oh, right." Bobby pursed his lips and kept typing. "Let's see what else we can find."

It was amazing, how different she felt.

She swallowed, staring at herself in the mirror, her hands gently running up her naked arms, to her naked shoulders, meeting the thin spaghetti strap that seemed barely there. Her breath came out lightly, fogging the mirror and she reached forward, wiping it off, feeling the condensation on her fingertips as she turned to the side, her hands now running down the shimmering fabric.

It was a gorgeous gown, she had never seen anything like it. The straps slid down into a deep vline, the top of her cleavage peeking through in such a way that she had never allowed before. The dress slid down, caressing her skin with it's fine touch like a lover, clinging to every curve, draping down her hips, slitting open to reveal a large portion of her thigh.

The hair had been done up, twisted up into an intricate knot that left her neckline completely bare. The woman who had done it had worn gloves, but more for Rogue's benefit than her own, since Rogue didn't want to change touching anyone at all.

But it hadn't bothered the servant, who tended her and then adorned her, and now, an hour and a half later, she stood in front of the mirror waiting, and completely astounded at the stranger that looked back.

She looked like a woman. A sexy, beautiful woman, the streak of white gently entangled with the ringlets in her hair, cascading down over the nape of her neck, the diamonds that hung from her neck and wrists and ears sparkling.

She took in a shaky breath, but was unable to tear her eyes from the form before her. There was so much skin... and it was allowed... it was encouraged.

It was confusing and frightening, and terribly exhilarating. For a brief moment, she closed her eyes, imagining what Logan would do if he saw he like this. Dressed in something equally stunning perhaps? A dark suit, his hair slick, dark, and yet still wild as his eyes, those beautifully intense, dark eyes that would narrow, and growl at the sight of her.

And he would growl, "Marie" in the way only he could, low and gentle, and she would smile, watching his reaction in the mirror as he came up behind her, sliding his hands around her waist.

And she would feel the pressure of his hands, and the fact that her skin was lethal would be forgotten as she would lean against his well muscled chest, breathing in his scent, the glorious masculine scent that permeated through her, as she would sigh, hands gently sliding up to tangle her fingers in the nape of his neck.

And he would hold her, just like that, whispering soft words of love into her ear, murmuring about affection and beautiful imagery, and growls that sent her body shaking and spread a heat from her toes to her body.

Her eyes would close, sighing. And in her awareness of his, she would barely feel the pressure of his lips on her hair, but would arch against him when his hot lips would descend just below her ear, his tongue flicking out ever so gently, the moistness suddenly turning cold as the air hit the spot as he moved below.

And she could feel it, could feel the arms, could almost taste the embrace as the lips continued to movie, to her shoulder, making her moan. Her fingers slid through the strands, and they were silkier than she remembered.

They slid down the surprisingly smooth neck, down the lean arms, to the fingers, where he held her, and they were long, thin, strong, but... not Logan's.

Her eyes snapped open, shocked out of her daydream, finding her reflection was not alone.

Her chest suddenly heaved, but the arms tightened around her, as Augustus gently placed one more gentle kiss on her bare shoulder, before straightening up.

"That was quite a reception."

And her body shuddered, and the heat spread and she swallowed down her fury, disgust filling her as she realized she WANTED him...

GOD.... she wanted him.

Rogue turned in his arms, the confliction in her face well masked as she smiled, sliding her hand down, lower, below the belt, watching Augustus' smirk widen into a dark, sexy smile.

But his hand was quick, stopping her seconds before she hit him where she wanted most to hurt.

"Now, now, Rogue. It wasn't as if you pushed me away."

"Stay. Out. of . Mah. Head," she whispered, her voice barely a growl. "I'll kill you."

"If you had wanted to do that you would have done so by now," he whispered, his faced inches from her. She swallowed, felt her heart heave, and then looked away, feeling more than hearing him as he paused, taking her hands and spreading them out, as if putting her on display. "You are perfection, my dear," he whispered admiringly.

The words melted through her, and Rogue felt the fire begin, sighing raggedly, closing her eyes against the words, almost as if in pain.

When her eyes opened, they were moist, sparkling. "What are you doing to me?" she whispered softly.

And there was a gentle smile that slid across his face as he lifted a hand to her cheek, caressing it softly. "Nothing that you don't want, Rogue."

"Ah don't-"

"You do," he repeated, a bit firmer. "You just don't know it yet." He took her hand and pressed his lips firmly against the digits, inspecting the bare hand and then reaching into his pocket. "A promise," he whispered. The fingers slowly came out of his pocket. "Whatever you think of me, whatever you do to me, I will never give up on you. On our destiny. We're entwined, my beautiful girl... my beautiful woman. You've never quite felt like you've belonged. Neither have I. But together, we make sense. We make the most glorious sense in the world. We make unity." The finger holding her shaking palm was lifted up to her eye level, and Rogue's eyes darkened as she felt the cool band of metal slide onto her third finger. Her eyes widened, and she was about to jerk away, but he merely shook his head. "It's not what you think it is, my dear. It's a promise ring. You and I will never be married, but we will be closer than lovers... closer than man and woman. That I promise you."

He released her hand, and then turned, snapping his fingers, while she could do nothing but look down at the shining gold band on her finger.

"Dinner, and then dancing, then?" He smiled, his hands behind his waist, as he turned, looking down at her. "And remember, beautiful darling. Our time is yours. It's up to you to decide when to feel the peace. I cannot force you, I can only prod you. And I promise, I'll do my damnedest to make this choice as painless as possible."

There was something so terribly ominous about the way he said it, she felt herself shudder involuntarily.

When she was a couple years younger, she had had a particularly harrowing week. She had spent the week aimless, in her room in solitude, sullen and snappy and generally, well... a bitch. She had pushed even her closest friends away and when she was finally summoned to Xavier she had expected a lecture or at least a brain drain, but he had only asked her one simple question.

"What do you want?"

She had been shocked by the question, had whispered angrily that she had no idea what the hell he was talking about, but he had repeated himself so distinctly.

"Rogue, What do you WANT?"

She had been quiet, knocked out of her answer, and the first thing that had come to her mind was the first thing she had said, "I want to belong. I just want to belong."

That was the day she had become an X-men, and the longing had alleviated somewhat. The desire had blazed inside of her for something more, some more tangible, proof that she really did belong, deep inside of her.

It was what drove her, what made her sane, and here he was offering it to her, and GOD, something in her believed it, believed it so strongly.

And Logan inside of her bristled, called her Marie, told her to hold on, and it kept her from going after Augustus, from pressing her skin against his and telling him she wanted it so badly.

It was Logan that made her eyes blaze, as she called out his name, "Augustus." When he turned, her chin lifted upwards, her eyes narrowed, and the question was hoarsely said. "What do you want?"

The man's eyes bore into hers, and then a smile that was neither gentle nor comforting slid across his elegant features and he answered in a calm, tender tone. "Why my dear. I thought you knew. It's quite simple. I only want to belong."

The trembling in her body that had been barely perceptible now slid through her in such a torrid rate that she knew he could see it. But she didn't care.

She was suddenly terrified, because she no longer wanted to believe him. She completely believed him. This man with eyes of violet and a soul that was as dark and mysterious as those orbs, had wormed his way into her mind, and she feared, because she knew, that his destiny had become entwined with hers.

And Logan. God Logan. Was he a figment, a piece of her mind that she could ignore, WOULD ignore?

And the memories of his body, of his gruff words of love, of days, merely DAYS of knowing him and loving him because of it. Was it truly love?

Marie... the word rang inside of her, pleading to a voice of reason, of memory, of longing. Was she searching for what she already had?

How could she be so sure when the voices inside her were ripping her apart?

Oh, God.

She felt her eyes tear and suddenly the man who was causing the confliction had her in his arms and pulled her close, and she was disgusted and delighted and lustful and self despising because her arms wrapped around him and she began to sob.

And he held her close, and his fingers slid across her skin, sending shivers of ecstasy through her, and her face buried into his suit and she cried for a future she did not know, for a past she could not face.

And Logan screamed inside her, and her heart was torn, as Marie reached blindly for one conclusion, one resolve that she vowed never to break, even as Augustus held her, even as he pulled her closer.

She would find his secrets, she would avoid his destiny. She would not give in.

She had to hold on to Logan, to her one semblance of sanity, because in this man's arms were chaos.

And her destiny be damned, handling such a bitter seduction would kill her mind, somehow she felt it.

Because it had already killed her heart.

"I still don't get it, Storm," Logan mumbled, looking over to the woman as the bikes slid to a stop. "This place seems as bad as any to start looking for her."

Ororo waited a moment, knowing she didn't need the warm of Gambit's back, felt herself pressing against it anyways, sitting on his bike, her thigh's pressed against his. This was really getting completely out of hand. A crush was one thing. Developing actual feelings was something else completely.

Storm had known from the beginning she was attracted to the Cajun thief. But she had pushed it away, as she always had, knowing she was never one to involve herself in trivial flirtations, a past time he had seemed to enjoy. She had brushed off his advances immediately, knowing she was no different than the others, and he had taken the rebuff with a smile and a kiss on the hand. He wasn't devastated, particularly because at that moment, a mutant with a streak of white in her hair and a Southern drawl had sat down next to them and completely captured his fascination and his heart.

It was never Rogue's fault that Ororo felt a slight clamoring inside of her when she saw Gambit's attraction deepen into something more. It was what most of the young men on the campus did sooner or later. Ororo had remembered a particularly memorable movie Scott had picked, watched as a group bonding exercise by the X-men, a raunchy comedy that, despite her better judgment, she had enjoyed, entitled, "There's Something About Mary."

Watching Gambit, Bobby, and a few other not as serious crushes vie for the "Tragic" Marie's attentions had made her think of a sequel of something akin to "There's Something About Marie."

And Storm had shaken her head, smiled, and continued her life.

But right here, with her arms around his waist and his cologne sliding into her nose, her face half buried in his trench coat, she had to wonder if there was something else to these irritating emotions.

And God, what a time to be thinking about them.

She sucked in her breath, anger at herself sliding through her, making her eyes cloud slightly and the skies above her darken and she swung her legs over the bike, getting off and away from her contact with the disconcerting thief.

"Believe me, Logan. She passed through here. The trucker I spoke to was sure of it." She was getting quite good at the lying, falling back into the pattern that had allowed her to survive when she was taken from her village so long ago. It was a lie, blatantly. Jean had contacted her, and her news, the article about a situation in the bar involving one mutant and a young man named Dakota, had tipped them off, since they had been heading this way already.

Even now she wasn't sure what would happen if the two renegades discovered that she was a double agent.

Gambit merely shrugged, turning off the ignition and looking over the small town. "Ain't much," he said indifferently. "But it's not like we had a plan before dis, beastie."

Logan narrowed an eyebrow and said nothing, turning his head away.

The urge to panic, to claw and to hurt was running so rampant within him, and for that, he was thankful for Storm's presence. Had it not been for her calming state of mind, Gambit and he would have most likely gone completely crazy at the now abandoned building where Rogue was last seen.

He could feel her, and he was never sure how he could, but deep in his mind he kept trying to will her to hold on, to resist...

Against what, he never knew, but somehow there was a feeling that Rogue was in deep trouble, a battle of some sorts, maybe her mind, hell he didn't know.

But she was losing control, and fast.

"I'm going to the hospital to check on Dakota," Storm announced, turning around and nodding to what seemed to be the only bar in town.

"Yeah, we got the bar," he grumbled, huddling further into his jacket and sliding off the motorcycle, motioning to his trench coated companion. "Meet ya back there if you got anything."

"Good. Buy me a beer, please," she threw over the back of her shoulder. "I think I'll need one. Oh and boys?" she turned, gazing at them both with a tolerant expression. "Try not to tear the place up too bad."

Logan rolled his eyes, but caught Gambit grinning. "What're you grinning so idiotic like for?" Logan snapped, marching through the snow to the opening.

"That's one hell of woman, that Storm." There was a small, amused chuckle, that Remy let out, before he added. "She's just a bundle of surprises."

Oh like, Logan gave a damn. He sucked in his breath in an effort to keep his irritation in check, using his energy to swing open the doors.

Damn. He felt like he had just stepped into one of those country western saloons.

The play, laughter, chatter, and drinking immediately stopped, as all eyes settled on them. Gambit came up behind him, eyeing the scene, and whistled low under his breath. "Tough crowd, eh?"

Logan didn't given any of the peeping idiots a second glance. "Come on," he grumbled, walking straight to where the bartender was standing frozen, open mouthed.

Logan leaned against the bar, nodding. "Hey there. We're lookin' for a girl-"

"You're mutants, aren't you?" The word was spitted out with so much contempt that for a second all Logan could do was stare at him. He shot a glance to Gambit but the red-eyed man only pursed his lips, leaning against the bar with one arm and sizing up the barrel chested owner.

"Dis is true," he responded. "Any particular reason you ask?"

"We don't cater to no mutants," the bartender said, his eyes narrowing.

"You don't cater to no mutants," Logan mimicked, glaring at the man. "Look, as much fun as this kinda ignorant trash talking is, I could give a rats ass if you cater to me or not. All I need is information."

"And all dey want is a peep show," Gambit commented to the eight burly men that surrounded him. He smiled, tossing aside a lapel of his coat. "Hellooo. Cards?"

"Gambit, not now," Logan growled, and without warning he reached forward, grabbing the bartender from over the counter and pulling him roughly to his side. People shrieked, the men jumped, but Gambit only grinned as he kept his gaze on the eight that surrounded them, letting Logan do his work on the bartender.

"Now you listen to me, you ignorant hick," Logan whispered fiercely. "I promised a real good friend of mine I wouldn't tear your place apart, so I'm going to warn you real nice. I'm looking for my girl. I'm going to FIND my girl. Now..." he raised a fist and a claw slid out, making the bartender's eyes suddenly bug out and a grown man appear to cry.

"I wouldn't be reachin' for that phone, Cherie," Gambit said to a woman with a smile and a wink. "Let's keep dis nice and civil, no?"

"You call this civil?" the bartender croaked, struggling in Logan's grasp.

"It's as civil as I'm going to get," Logan growled, eyes narrowing. "Now. I'm looking for a girl, medium height. Gorgeous. Streak of white in her hair, and a Southern accent. Have you seen her?"

"I've seen her," a voice piped up, and a balding man with a beer belly. He looked ready to soil his underwear. "She came in here 'bout two and a half weeks ago."

"Know where she went to?" Gambit asked, turning his gaze to the man.

"No. Not at all."

"You sure?" Gambit indicated to the bartender, who still seemed to have Logan's claw affixed to his throat.

"Yeah! She just put our friend in that coma and left! I swear!"

Logan and Gambit exchanged glances, and Logan took a deep breath pulling away from the man, the claw retreating. "Sorry for the nerves," he grumbled, stepping back, patting him awkwardly on the shoulder. He turned his head and faced Gambit. "Come on, let's find Ororo and get out of here. At least we're on the right trail."

"You're wasting your time," called out another person. "I'm betting the Feds already got her. One of them agents came in here last week."

Logan froze, turning back. "What?"

"Fella with purple eyes," he commented, shuddering slightly. "Creepy lookin'."

"Name?" Gambit demanded.

"Don't remember his name. One of them Roman names. Ceaser or Brutus or somethin'."

Logan swallowed, and reached into his pocket, pulling out a wad of bills. "Thanks, pal. I owe you one." He tossed the wad into the man's hands, and fingering the bills, the man ignored the comments about "mutie money" and simply beamed.

"Any time."

Logan nodded to Gambit, and they both turned, glaring at the eight men who stood in front of them.

"No one roughs up Harry, like that."

Logan raised an eyebrow. Damn he was itching for a good fight. He really wanted to just pound into a guy. Eight didn't seem to be enough. But there was no time.

He needed to save that energy for the lashing he was going to give Marie once he found out where she was.

"Listen, Dopey," he began. "I don't have time for this-"

The guy leaned forward and pushed him. Actually PUSHED HIM.

Gambit seemed amused by it. "Hey, Dopey. You got a fuckin' death wish?"

He was immediately given the same treatment.

Harry, the bartender, looked incredibly smug as the eight men closed in on the two. "I hope that mutant bitch fries."

The room descended into utter silence then. Logan and Gambit suddenly grabbed the man who had been doing the pushing and with a strength that shocked everyone, sent him careening into a wall.

Then their attention was focused on the bartender. The look in their faces made his eyes bug out, and step back.

"Now the little slurs about muties I could take. The hickness of this place I could take. The little threatening remarks? I can take." Logan's eyes narrowed, and his voice was a dangerous growl when he spoke. "But NO ONE says a word about my Marie."

Gambit's voice was just as hard as he stepped up next to Logan, and tossed a card in the air. "Hey bartender. Catch."

She stepped out of the small hospital, her head shaking as she walked down the snowy street to the bar.

The nurse had liked to talk, and despite the little hushed, "mutant" word that Storm had to bite her lip from responding too, she had actually seemed to help.

It didn't seem to matter that Storm was a mutant, because she obviously wasn't one of "those kind", and since Storm hadn't said a word, except a little fib about coming to try and keep other mutants from hurting men like Dakota (which again, was a half truth. Those things were damn handy) the nurse had filled her in.

She had been at the bar when things had taken place, and her description of what happened, served only to make Storm more frightened for her friend than ever. Rogue was in very bad shape to deliberately harm a human.

And even more disturbing was the mystery man, "Auggie", the lady had called him, who had come in spouting Bibles and mutant end of days prophecies and had apparently the most striking eyes she had ever seen. "Handsome too," she had said. "It wasn't for the fact I damn near fainted when he almost looked at me, I would have asked him to buy me a beer."

And he was looking for Rogue.

She bit her lip, for some reason something about the violet eyes striking some chord deep with in her haze. Where had she seen violet eyes before?

Shaking her head, she looked at the bar, quiet, and sighed, thanking the higher powers for Logan and Gambit's self control.

She opened the door, fully prepared to congratulate her men when her eyes widened and her mouth clamped.

It appeared, that a tornado had hit the room.

Tables had been over turned, a very scared group of people were huddled into a corner amidst bottles of broken glass and chairs, and there were what appeared to be about... eight or so men in various states of pain on the floor.

A heavyset man was hanging by his underwear from a pair of antlers on the wall, and right smack in the middle of all of this, Logan and Gambit sat calmly at the one table that had not been overturned, drinking a beer.

Gambit smiled at her, raising his glass. Logan just shrugged.

Resignation filled her, and all she could do was place her hands on her hip and drolly reply, "Well. This isn't going to be good for mutant/human relations." Her eyes narrowed, and she thumbed towards the door. "Let's go."

Gambit looked slightly confused. "No lecture, Goddess?"

She only rolled her eyes. Logan ambled up, and Gambit followed as Storm walked to the man hanging from the antlers. "That looks uncomfortable."

"LOOKS?! I've got a wedgie the size of freaking Canada?"

Ororo raised an eyebrow. "That man who was in here before. What was his name?"

"I don't remember-"

"Then try," she interrupted. "And we'll let you down. Come on. It was Auggie- something or other."

"Augustus?" Gambit queried, coming up behind her.

She shot him a surprised look.

"Greek, Goddess," he responded. "Roman emperor. Name was Augustus."

The bartender bobbed his head up and down. "That's it."

"You sure?"

"Yes. Let me down."

She quirked an eyebrow to Logan, who rolled his eyes, but did as she bid. Sliding one claw out, he sliced through the antlers, making the bartender crash to the ground.

"We'll send a check for the damage," she said, walking away, the two men behind her. She heard a muttering about "mutant bitches all being the same", and suddenly there was another crash, and a swear. She winced, and then turned to see Gambit holding the man up against the wall.

"You don't talk to de Goddess like that, EVER," he growled.

"Remy," she sighed, coming forward, pulling him gently away, taking his hand.

She was surprised when he didn't let go. "I can fight my own fights," she informed him.

His red eyes were still dark in anger, but he swallowed it down, squeezing the palm gently, bringing it up to his lips and kissing them absently before retreating back to Logan.

Storm turned to the shaking man, and slowly shook her head. "You really should know when to shut up," she informed him quietly, as her eyes turned a milky white, and thunder could be heard cracking so near to the bar that people jumped. A huge gust of wind burst into the room and Storm guided it to the center, letting it wreak havoc.

When the small tornado left, the bartender was without pants at all.

She smiled, and nodded. "Let's go."

Logan and Gambit had watched the whole scene open mouthed, and as she passed Remy, she didn't bother to dwell on the look he gave her, the darkening orbs smiling at her as if he was seeing her differently.

There wasn't time for that. Now she had a name. And it was a race against the clock.