It wasn’t the pounding of her head that awoke Rogue. Nor was it the bone-deep cold of the icy surface she found herself lying face-first against. No, it was the long, languid strokes of a hand making slow and easy patterns against her back. The cold floor she found herself on was both at once causing an uncomfortable ache in her bones, as well as soothing the pulsing of her bruised right cheek from where Sabretooth had struck her. Her cheek felt as though it had split open, as an uncomfortable stinging now accompanied the throbbing. Rogue realized with a start that the hand was tracing the whip scars on her naked back. Whoever it was knew better than to touch her with their bare skin though, she could feel the fine, supple feeling of leather as it continued to swirl against her.
Rogue took a swift inventory of her body and surroundings prior to opening her eyes. The room she was in felt…cavernous and slightly sterile. There seemed to be only one person in here with her; the person who was currently molesting her back. She was relieved to feel she was still clothed, though her uniform appeared to have been cut open at her back. Her hands were strapped together at the wrists with what felt like duct tape and stretched above her head. She could feel a tingling in her shoulders which signaled her arms had likely been asleep for some time. She grimaced internally as she realized the feeling would be surging back into them soon enough, the unpleasant sensations of pins and needles prickling her from the inside out. Her skin broke out in gooseflesh as the fingers on her back suddenly drew close to close to one breast and she unconsciously tensed her body.
“Ah, ma chère,” a smooth low voice greeted her. “Remy knows you are awake.”
For a moment, her body wanted to respond to his touch. His hands on her body was so intimate, his voice so reassuring and familiar. Then, the image of the guard’s brains spilling over the tile floor of the science building came flooding back to her, and she didn’t bother to suppress the shudder that rippled through her body. She rolled away from Gambit’s hands and struggled to sit up, without the full use of her hands. She glanced down at herself and was relieved that her uniform was intact at the front.
Gambit had been sitting next to her, legs folded casually beneath him. He propped his hands beneath his chin and studied her with a warm smile.
“Bonjour, chère,” he murmured as he took in the sight of her.
Rogue, rather than respond to or stare into the eerily familiar eyes of Gambit, took the opportunity to look away from him and inhaled swiftly as she realized where she was. Her brief experience of her current location back in her own world had been accidental. She’d only been passing by when the entryway had opened and she’d seen inside. She’d been slightly awed at the vast expanse of silvery-plated panels which made up the structure of the room, but had quickly averted her gaze as the Professor had made his way outside, his eyebrows raised quizzically at her.
The narrow aisle she’d seen then had been expanded slightly at the center of the room, the controls that she’d seen previously were gone, replaced by a marginally larger surface area. There were still no rails or barriers to prevent one from falling a precipitous distance below to their likely death, and Rogue felt herself trying to scoot further away from the edge, and closer to the center of the cold platform.
“I see you recognize where you are?” he asked her, a small amount of curiosity seeping into his otherwise casual tone.
Rogue nodded. “Cerebro.” Her voice sounded small in the vast space of her surroundings. She now understood why she’d encountered Creed after she’d first arrived in this world. The Brotherhood appeared to have taken up residence in the former X-Men’s underground headquarters.
“Hmm,” Gambit said, his answer giving her nothing.
“I thought it was destroyed when -” Rogue broke off, realizing she was allowing herself to convey information about herself and what she knew, simply by engaging in conversation with Gambit. She needed to learn to shut up and analyze the situation before responding so easily. He’s not him, she thought to herself angrily. Stop acting like this is the Remy you knew. What would Wolverine say if he saw you giving up information so easily to an enemy? Her thoughts then strayed to what had happened to Wolverine and the others. If the rest of the team had been sprayed with the same chemical she had, then they were likely alright. Aside from a throbbing headache and pain in what she could feel was her swollen cheek, she felt fine, physically, at any rate. And seeing as she knew Wolverine had been hit with the same agent, he’d likely regained consciousness well before any of the others. Oh god, she thought closing her eyes briefly, let them be okay.
At that last thought, Rogue steadied herself for what was to come. Then, the feeling in her arms suddenly returned and she grimaced uncomfortably at the weak and painful sensation running up and down both arms, from shoulders to fingertips. She tried to restore the feeling as best she could by rapidly shrugging her shoulders and wiggled her fingers, restrained though they were by the duct tape.
“Are you well?” Gambit asked, smoothly.
Rogue said nothing in response, but looked back at him coldly.
To her intense surprise, Gambit stood up smoothly from his position on the floor and began laughing. Rogue continued to glare at him, thoroughly annoyed at his reaction to her discomfort.
“Ah, chérie, I did miss seeing your lovely face these past several years.”
Rogue gave away nothing, but continued to stare up at Gambit as his laughter echoed through Cerebro.
“Really?” Gambit asked her, wiping a tear from one red eye. “Nothing? No reaction from the lovely mademoiselle at my blatant fishing for information? Tsk,” he said shaking his head in disappointment. “I am saddened by this, of course.”
Rogue continued to glare at him, willing herself to betray nothing. Whatever this Gambit wanted couldn’t be anything good. Though what part in his plans she could possibly play was beyond her.
“Such a shame, ma chére. I was hoping you would be more cooperative with Remy and at least tell him a little somethin about yourself willingly. The other alternatives are,” he paused then, and a slow smile played over his face. “Not so pleasant.”
After several seconds of her silence, he spoke again, this time, completely absent of all warmth and humor. “No?”
And she shook her head in response.
“You did have another choice,” Gambit said, his voice low and cold as he leaned down and whispered in her ear. “Remember that, ma chére.”
As he strode away from her down the long, narrow aisle, Rogue swallowed convulsively at what she saw. As soon as Gambit had left the platform where she sat, the metal walkway had retracted behind him, leaving her alone, suspended on an island. She tried to repress the fear she felt, the feel of claustrophobia rising up as the reality of her situation hit her.
No matter how elaborate, nor how impressive it was, she was back in a cage.
Logan felt a not so subtle push from his psyche and frowned. What was going on? Why was Wolverine bothering him?
They took her, jackass. Wake the fuck up and bring ‘er back to us. I’ll take over yer sorry excuse for a body if you don’t. Get. Up. NOW.
Awareness slammed into Logan as he finally understood what had happened. Wolverine was screaming at him to wake up, that Rogue was gone.
“FUCK,” he roared as he sprang up, claws extended, his chest heaving.
‘Bout time, bub. Now move yer ass, they just left.
Rather than questioning how Wolverine had known what had happened while Logan had been unconscious, he stormed down the hall and flew down the stairwell. He sniffed the air and he simultaneously jerked his head and let out a growl of rage as he detected one scent in particular. He could still smell the acrid stench of Creed, the slick cologne of the swamp rat, and the sweet clean scent of Rogue. It was accompanied by the barest hint of her blood and he tore down the hall as he followed those particular molecules. He couldn’t have been unconscious for more than a few minutes. The scents were still so fresh and if he stretched and strained his senses, he could just hear the thud of heavy footfalls several flights below him. He could detect the pulsing of Ellie’s heartbeat as he passed the fourth floor landing, the thumping of Piotr’s as he rounded the third, and the steady sound of Scott and Jean’s breathing as he reached the bottom of the building. They were alive. The Brotherhood wasn’t interested in killing them, which meant he could focus on his first priority; Rogue.
Fuck, fuck, FUCK! He thought, panic racing through him. He couldn’t lose her. Not again. It would destroy him. His adrenaline was blazing through him, his senses hypersensitive. Thoughts raced through his mind, he calculated the possibilities for the bastards’ escape. How had they arrived? How were they getting away? He hadn’t heard any other vehicles approach while they’d been inside. Had they already been here? Waiting?
Bingo. Took ya long enough, Wolverine rumbled inside his head.
Shut up. Unless ya got somethin’ useful to contribute, keep yer goddamn mouth shut.
Wolverine snorted, then responded. They’re gonna leave on somethin’ that will get ‘em the fuck outta here in a hurry. They knew that shit wasn’t gonna keep us down fer long.
Logan tore out into the courtyard, Storm’s earlier fog still hanging heavy in the air, obstructing his view and hindering his senses. He spun around, sniffing the air, extending his awareness.
But he didn’t need Wolverine to tell him. He’d seen it too. A shadow of movement to the west, and the familiar acrid sweat of his enemy reached him. He growled quietly in his chest and surged forward into the fog, claws extended. An unconscious Rogue was slung over Creed’s right shoulder, her hands swinging limply at his back. Her hair had been freed from its earlier high ponytail and hung loose, obstructing her face. Wolverine flashed briefly back to the image he’d unwillingly pictured of Gambit’s hands running through her high ponytail as he freed it from its confines and hot, boiling rage filled him as he imagined the scene coming to life. “Put ‘er down, furball,” he growled.
“Toldja it wasn’t gonna keep him down as long as you thought,” Creed remarked softly.
Logan heard the swamp rat sigh loudly. “Give her to me then. Finish this. Quickly. Monsieur Wolverine,” he said to Logan. His voice was louder, but strangely muted in the fog. “It has been such a lovely reunion, but Gambit will be leaving with his girl now,” and he disappeared further into the fog, Rogue cradled in his arms her head thrown back over one of Gambit’s arms, exposing the slender column of her vulnerable throat.
Wolverine roared in his head at the fucking gall, the audacity of trying to stake his claim on their mate. We should have marked her when we had the chance.
Marking her was never gonna keep a scumbag like LeBeau away from her. Now get yer ass in the game and help me with Creed.
“Runt, I’m gonna make your girl scream.”
“Over my dead body, Creed,” Wolverine snarled.
“Happy to help with that,” Sabretooth mocked, lip raised as he bared his fangs.
The fog was a definite hindrance. The usual cues and hints he was able to read from Creed’s body were obstructed and the first slice of claws into his neck surprised him. He felt the warm rush of blood drip down inside his uniform and ignored the swift burning pain as he retaliated by thrusting both sets of claws into Creed’s unprotected thighs three times in rapid succession. He’d been hoping to reach deep enough or at the right angle to pop his kneecaps off, but Sabretooth had twisted away from him too quickly. He smiled in satisfaction though at the grunt of pain and smell of Creed’s blood hitting the air. Wolverine didn’t waste any time, but surged forward as Sabretooth turned away from him to plunge his claws into his kidneys and roared in triumph as Creed dropped to his knees. He let out a vicious kick to the back of Creed’s head and he dropped to the cobblestones of the courtyard.
Wolverine wasted no time, but rushed past him frantic to reach Rogue before LeBeau vanished with her. He could hear the whine of helicopter rotor blades starting, smell the fuel seeping through the air and growled. He tore through an opening in the fog which had been cleared by the whirring of the blades and stopped, frozen by the blasting of pain that had exploded through his upper right trapezius. He looked down, frowning, shocked to see the gaping exit wound in his chest. His skin and musculature had been ripped apart from the force of the bullet.
Fuck, Wolverine thought, and Logan echoed the sentiment. He whirled around and saw Creed, holding the same gun that he’d used earlier on the guard. The whisper of the silencer hissed again and again, as his body was riddled with bullets, each leaving a gaping hole, each shredding through a strategic portion of musculature which had little to no adamantium protection. He grunted with each impact and lost count of the number of times Creed continued to fire the pistol.
Blood gushed from his wounds, soaking his uniform. His vision began to go dark with the blood loss as his healing factor struggled to keep up with the rapid damage of the bullets.
No, no, NO. Get up goddammit! Wolverine roared. Logan couldn’t respond though as the world went gray around him, in agony with the thought that he’d failed to save Rogue. The last thing he felt was Creed’s presence behind him as he pressed the muzzle of the gun directly into the base of his skull.
Rogue had lost track of the hours she’d spent inside Cerebro. The place was chillingly cold, and she had sat on the floor, legs crossed beneath her, as she tried to meditate and calm her fear and ignore the shivering of her body. She focused on the positive; she could at least stand up in this cage. The fact that her hands were still bound was deeply troubling to her, it brought back the immediate claustrophobia of the cage she’d spent more than a year of her life in, where she hadn’t been able to stretch them apart further than the length of her elbows.
During her deep breathing exercises, she heard the smooth whoosh of the entrance to Cerebro and opened her eyes. Remy was back, red eyes blazing in the semi-darkness. He strode forward and the walkway advanced beneath his steps. She stood, not wanting him to have any additional advantage over her. He continued to approach her until he stood less than two feet away from her. His coat billowing behind him as he stopped. While Remy didn’t tower over her, he was taller than her, and Rogue moved her eyes upwards to stare into his.
He smiled down at her, the warmth she was used to seeing from him, back in his eyes.
“Ma chére,” he said smoothly. “I hate to see you so miserable in here. I do wish you would let Remy comfort you.” He used the same tone as her Remy whenever he was feeling particularly amorous, and she forced her mind back to her current circumstances. He was not the same man, no matter how similar they appeared. He raised his hands to rub her shoulders briskly, forcing some warmth into her skin through the leather of her uniform. She forced herself to be grateful for the heat, while ignoring the shudder of revulsion she felt at his touch. “You are chilled!” he exclaimed as he ran his hands down her arms to her fingers.
Rogue tried not to snort in disgust. Obviously she was chilled. He was the one who’d left her in here without any blankets or heat source, the circulation in her hands partially limited by the duct tape that bound the together.
“Remy would much like the opportunity to warm you,” he murmured as he bent close to her ear. One leather-gloved hand rose up to tangle itself in her hair and then moved down to thumb over her earlobe. She shivered, though not from pleasure or longing, but from revulsion. God. If she ever got home, how was she going to be able to stand the touch of Remy’s hands on her ever again?
“So beautiful, and so cold,” he sighed as he moved away from her. “You are much the same as her.”
Rogue’s interest was piqued, and her eyes which had been averted as he stroked her, flew back to his. She wondered exactly what he meant by that.
“Remy has decided to give you a second chance, ma chére. You were likely so traumatized by the events at the campus that you were not thinking so clearly before.”
Rogue cocked her head at him, curious to see where he was going with that line.
“May I assume you are more open to a dialog with Remy at this time, ma petite?” He asked her, smiling.
Indecision raced through Rogue’s brain. What should she do? She didn’t want to give away anything, but she was loathe to contemplate what Remy had meant earlier by other alternatives not being so pleasant. Deciding to be cautious in her answers, she swallowed and nodded, pretending not to feel the sick feeling of cowardice that ran through her body as she chose the easier path.
He grinned at her as he brushed his knuckles against her uninjured cheek and in one smooth swirling motion, withdrew his arms from his coat and placed it on her shoulders.
Fucking hell, she thought darkly. Even his coat smells the same, as she tried to ignore the pleasant sensation of warmth seeping through her skin.
“Now,” Remy stated as he stood facing her, arms folded at his chest. “Remy has only a few questions for you.”
Rogue nodded at him, warily, as she waited for him to continue.
“Are you Rogue?” He questioned, his tone casual as he studied her.
Frowning at the absurdity of his first question, she nodded her head. “Yes.”
“Ah, you misunderstand,” he drawled slowly, a slight chill entering his voice. “Are you my Rogue?”
Rogue was unsure how to answer. Clearly he suspected something was off about her. And just why the hell had Remy and Creed taken her in the first place? Come to think of it, she’d thought they were at the science building for the same reason as the X-Men; to retrieve and destroy the weapon being developed by the Friends of Humanity-run government. Was she the reason they’d been there? If that was the case, why go after her at all? What could she possibly have to offer The Brotherhood?
Rogue remained silent as she thought about how to respond. She certainly used to be his Rogue. But she wasn’t now. Not in this place, not in this world. But why did he need to know? Had there been something going on between this Rogue and Gambit? She swiftly discarded that idea. She couldn’t think that would ever be a possibility, not when she knew what she did about Wolverine and Rogue’s relationship. Deciding that the truth of her response wouldn’t necessarily give up too much, she shook her head. “No.”
Remy smiled at her, “Yes,” he whispered. “I thought as much. Tell me,” he continued, dropping his arms and beginning to circle her. “Just who are you then, ma chére?”
It was her turn to shrug. “I’m still Rogue. Just not your Rogue.”
“Then whose Rogue are you?”
Wolverine’s was the immediate reply she heard inside her head. Somehow, the thought of answering that she was Wolverine’s Rogue didn’t seem like such a good idea, no matter how appealing or comforting the thought was. The memory of the moment where she’d finally submitted to her feelings came surging back. She’d wanted so badly to lean into him, to feel his lips against hers in a savage kiss, to feel his hands running through her hair and down her body. Then, Remy had come in and fucked it all up. Now she was here, alone, a fucking prisoner again. She was going to have to figure out a way to get herself out of this.
“My own,” was her quiet response.
“You are angering Gambit now, chére,” he ground out. “But maybe I should ask you in a different way. Where did you come from?”
He knows, she thought, panic racing through her. How does he know?
Gambit was clearly upset at her delayed response and he ground his jaw together once before asking her again. “Remy will not ask you again. I know my Rogue died years ago. So,” he paused as he glared into her eyes. “Where did you come from?
Rogue could feel the rapid beat of her pulse throughout her body. She felt sick, like she might throw up. But she never had been able to demonstrate good sense when being held against her will. And instead of answering his question, shot back with one of her own.
“If you knew she was dead, why did you make such a show of bein’ so happy to see me at the Reiss building?”
Rage flew over Remy’s face for a moment before he paused and looked her appraisingly. “Remy never could pass up an opportunity to rile up the Wolverine when it came to you.”
Pushing her luck, Rogue probed further. “So you weren’t there to destroy the weapon.”
He raised one shoulder in a noncommittal shrug.
“Were they even developing a weapon?”
Remy shrugged again. “Who can say? But I know that the information we planted must’ve held a kernel of truth. Your Professor never would have sent your team otherwise.” He paused then, and shook his head. “So naive. Even after everything that has happened.”
Rogue felt herself flush with anger at those words. “At least they’re tryin’ to do good in this world. Can’t say the same for you and The Brotherhood, can you?”
“’This world,’” He quoted back to her, eyes narrowed in suspicion. “And does this world matter to you, ma petite?”
“Of-of course it does,” Rogue stammered. She could feel the conversation escalating out of her control.
“But why? Why does it matter to you?” He mused, clearly confused by the vehemence of her reaction.
Rogue didn’t trust herself to respond anymore. She clenched her jaw and looked away from his commanding red eyes.
After several strained seconds, Remy’s sigh echoed through the cavernous empty space. “I thought you would have made a better choice. Though you’re not Remy’s Rogue, I still would have thought you’d have more sense than this.”
She was terrified at what was going to happen to her. The remembered pain of her previous imprisonment at the hands of Emmett Knox and the Church of Humanity was foremost in her mind as she responded. “The others, Wolverine, they’ll come.”
“Ah, had I not shared the news with you, ma petite? Wolverine is dead,” he confided with a cruel smile.
Shock blasted through her. No. It’s not possible. Rogue rejected the thought, violently.
“You can’t kill Wolverine,” she said, her voice shaking.
He shrugged, unconcernedly. “As you say. But I saw for myself as Creed put a bullet in his head.”
An unexpected grief ripped through her at the thought. Could he be killed with a bullet to the head? Surely the adamantium that covered his skeleton would protect his skull as well? Doubt swirled through her, but desperation made her act out. She had one avenue left to her. It was unwise, surely, but she wasn’t going to go down without a fight. She knew Wolverine hadn’t.
“Maybe you’re right,” she replied softly. “Maybe he’s dead. I suppose I should thank you.”
Gambit jerked his head toward her, his eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Thank me?”
“Yeah,” she replied, trying to smooth over the tremors in her voice. “Thank you. Ya know,” she continued, laying on the accent extra thick. “Ah always did think he was such a brute. He was so,” she hesitated, trying to find the right words. “Hairy and wild,” her mouth pursed in a moue of distaste.
Gambit’s demeanor relaxed slightly as she looked up at him, her expression changing to a flirtatious smile. “Is that so, ma chére?” he murmured back at her, taking the opportunity to cup her jaw.
“Mmm hmm,” she lied smoothly as she repressed a shudder of revulsion at his touch.
“So who did you prefer instead?” he murmured as he drew closer to her.
“Well,” she said as she fluttered her lashes. “Ah always did think you were kinda sexy.” Her heart was thumping so loudly she thought it would explode out of her chest. Once he kissed her, she’d drop him with her skin and would find a way out of there.
“Mmm, chére,” he whispered into her ear. He was so close she could feel the warmth of his breath against her skin. She steeled herself for what she was about to do, prepared her mind for the invasion, and turned her face into his. Suddenly, his hand flew to the back of her head and took her neck in a cruel grip. “You think to make a fool of Remy?” he asked in a low and dangerous voice as she grimaced with pain. He swiftly twisted her body around until he hung her over the edge of the platform. She couldn’t see through the darkness to the bottom, but she knew it was a long way down. Fear gripped her body and she thrust her weight into her heels, forcing herself into Gambit’s body and away from the edge as much as possible.
With his free hand, he ripped his coat away from her shoulders and gripped her by the hip. He ground himself forcefully against her as he whispered into her ear. “Not even the promise of your body will save you from my anger now. You will be responsible for the additions to your collection of scars. Not Gambit.”
He threw her violently to the platform floor. As she was unable to brace herself, she landed painfully on her right cheek which pulsed so brightly with pain that she nearly passed out.
As Gambit’s footsteps echoed through Cerebro, she felt the familiar overwhelming wave of hopelessness crash down upon her.
The next several days passed in a blur of pain and fear. Rogue continued to keep her mouth shut about who she was and was met with varying degrees of abuse by both Gambit and Sabretooth. At first, they had tried a sort of good cop, bad cop angle on her. At her continued refusal to answer their questions; however, Remy, who had been acting as the good cop began screaming at her to tell them what she knew. Despite the overwhelming terror of his temper, she shook her head, denying him. Then he had slammed his knee into her unprotected abdomen, and kicked her several times in the ribs while she’d been down. She’d blacked out with pain shortly afterward.
After that, Rogue gave up trying to remember all of the ways they had tortured her. If whatever she would tell them about herself was this important, it couldn’t be for anything good. She clung to that belief, and to the believe that Wolverine was alive, and that the others were looking for her. They would find her. They had to.
Now, as Remy wiped her blood from one leather-bound hand, Rogue spit out the excess of coppery saliva next to the chair she sat in. She was breathing hard, pain wracking her face. She wondered how bad the damage was, thankful that she didn’t have a mirror to see how badly she had been disfigured. A twinge of regret ran through her. She knew she’d been pretty. She likely wasn’t anymore.
“Gambit is at his wits end with you,” he hissed at her. “You will tell me who you are.”
Rogue couldn’t help it. This had been going on for days. She laughed at him.
“Shut up,” he commanded her, fury engulfing his features.
His response only made her laugh harder. Then, the pain in her ribs forced her to stop.
Remy glared her, clearly enjoying her pain, and signaled Sabretooth. Creed had been standing at the entryway to Cerebro, watching her beating with a sick grin on his face. But at Gambit’s signal he exited the room, only to appear a moment later, a struggling form in his grasp.
“I think you will tell Gambit what you know now, n’est-ce pas?” Remy crooned at her, coldly.
Rogue felt the blood drain from her face as she saw who Creed had gasped in his hand. The pale blond hair and icy blue eyes of Michael McMahon came into the dim light of Cerebro. Rift. He was alive. He was here. Oh, fuck.
Seeing that Rogue recognized Creed’s captive, Remy nodded his head at Sabretooth. He immediately thrust Rift’s body over the edge of the walkway until he was dangling entirely over the empty cavernous space below by one of Creed’s enormous hands. Michael’s cries of distress echoed loudly in Cerebro and Rogue broke, immediately.
“No!” she cried out, unable to stand it any longer. “Don’t hurt him, please.”
After a quick nod from Gambit, Creed yanked back his arm from over the edge and threw Rift roughly to the floor. His sobs had quieted, but small sniffling noises reached her from across the walkway.
“And why should we not hurt him, ma chére?” Gambit spoke quietly to her. He’d knelt down next to her and her body jumped involuntarily as he raised one hand to gently brush a blood-stained strand of hair from her eyes.
Her voice trembling, she closed her eyes as she gave in. “I need him,” she murmured thickly through her swollen lips.
“And why do you need him?” Gambit responded, soothingly, continuing to stroke her hair away from her face.
“I need him,” Rogue said, closing her eyes, feeling the sick feeling of guilt wash over her. “To go home. To my dimension. To my world.”
She didn’t see the look of triumph on Gambit’s face, but she opened her eyes at the sound of his laughter.
“You were right, monsieur le chat!” Gambit cried out across the walkway.
Creed shook his head as he rumbled in appreciation of the apparent compliment. Rogue observed the scene, thoroughly confused.
“Their kind can’t stand for someone else to be hurt on their account,” Creed called back to Remy.
And then, Rift began to change. The smooth skin rippled and changed to a vibrant blue. A sinking feeling entered the pit of Rogue’s stomach as she realized what had happened. She’d been played. She was so stupid. How could she have fallen for this?
The striking form of Mystique rose up from Rift’s position on the floor and her golden eyes flashed at Rogue with barely suppressed merriment.
“You bastard!” she cried at Gambit. “You utter bastard!”
“I never said I wasn’t a bastard, chére,” he said, grinning down at her.
She felt broken, hollow at what she’d admitted to them. “What are you going to do with me now?”
“You’ve confirmed what we needed to know, ma chére,” Gambit said, shrugging casually. “We have no further use for you.”
He motioned Creed forward, toward Rogue this time and she threw herself forward out of the chair. She cinched backward on her butt and feet, whimpering, trying to get away from Sabretooth. But she had nowhere to go, and Creed advanced on her, his lips twisted in a sick smile. It was the last thing she remembered before the first blow fell.
The place was abandoned. He felt it the moment they entered the underground tunnels. Though the various scents of LeBeau, Creed, Mystique, and St. John still hung in the air, they were slightly stale. Not fresh at all. He ignored the roar of desolation echoing in his mind as Wolverine scented the air, desperate for a hint of Rogue.
Logan thought back to their briefing with Chuck just minutes ago.
They’d been meeting in Chuck’s office to get an update on his search for Rogue. He’d announced sadly that he still hadn’t been able to sense Rogue. Nor LeBeau, Creed, or any other members of The Brotherhood for that matter. Logan had seized on that bit of information and interrupted Scott as he was about to discuss whether or not the weapon they’d been in search of had actually even existed.
“Wait a minute, Scooter,” Logan broke in. “Chuck, we know that Gumbo and the Furball were the ones who took Rogue. Why can’t you sense any of them?” A thought had just come to him, and the smallest hint of hope flooded him for the first time in days. Why had Creed been at the mansion when they’d first intercepted Rogue? Why couldn’t Chuck pick up a hint of any of the Brotherhood scumbags?
“What are you implying, Logan?” Chuck questioned frowning at him.
He sighed in frustration. Why couldn’t Chuck see it?
“She’s at the mansion,” he growled. “Underground. In Cerebro,” he clarified when Chuck and the others looked blankly back at him. Charles was the first to understand.
“Of course,” he murmured. “I would be unable to detect anyone’s presence if they were shielded by the walls of Cerebro.” He frowned then. “Why wasn’t it destroyed in the bombing?”
“I don’t know, and I don’t care, Chuck. I’m leavin’. Now.”
He’d fought against Chuck’s insistence that he take a small team with him. But the offer came with use of the jet, which meant he would be able to reach Westchester in minutes, as opposed to hours. And Wolverine was insisting that he do anything to get to Rogue as soon as possible. It had already been four days since he’d woken up on the jet, the whisper of the pistol echoing in his ear as pain pulsed through his skull. The team had been backed away from him, fear and pity in their eyes as he’d roared and demanded to be taken back to the Reiss building, pissed beyond reason that they’d left Rogue behind.
Logan knew now they’d done the right thing. Rogue had been long gone by the time the rest of the team had regained consciousness, and they needed to regroup after what had happened. It didn’t mean he had to like it, though.
He ignored Cyke and Jeannie as he tore through the halls of the former headquarters, following the stronger scents he found along this passage.
Turning the next corner, he saw it. The entryway to Cerebro. It no longer required Chuck’s retinal scan to open it, that feature had been removed. Instead, a makeshift handle had been attached to the center of the door. Logan didn’t waste any more time, but swiftly turned the knob.
The scent of Rogue’s blood and pain slammed him in the face as he opened the door to Cerebro.
"Oh, fuck. Goddamn. Fuck, Marie. What did you make them do to you?" He ran down the length of the walkway, which already lay extended out to the center platform, ears straining for the sound of her heartbeat. He exhaled in relief as he heard it, faint and slow as it was. He felt the shock of Cyclops and Jean behind him and dimly heard Jean’s plea of, “Logan, wait,” but shut her out. He could only concentrate on getting to Rogue.
When he reached her, his guts constricted with pain. She lay unresponsive on the metal island, one arm dangling at an odd angle over the edge. Her face was nearly unrecognizable with blood, bruises, and swelling. Her uniform had been ripped away from her, revealing several deep gouges and swollen skin, and the sharp white edge of one collarbone stuck up from her chest. Some of the bruising he saw appeared to be three or four days old, meaning she’d likely withstood several days of torture and abuse. The scent of both LeBeau and Creed was thick upon her, stifling her own unique clean scent with theirs and the potential implications of the combination of smells nearly broke him.
“M’rie,” he rasped, his voice hoarse with the pain of seeing her so battered.
She didn’t respond.
“Turn it on, goddamnit!” he roared as he frantically roved his hands lightly over her damaged body. He didn’t want to cause her any more pain, but he needed to touch her skin, needed her to absorb his mutation so she would live. He didn’t care if this time she killed him. He wouldn’t lose her again. Not when he could save her. “Don’t you fuckin’ die on me again, Marie. Wake up and take it!”
Slowly, tortuously, Rogue rose up through the red haze of pain that engulfed her entire body. Something was rousing her, though she didn’t like it. She didn’t want to be aware. Where she was now was quiet, and peaceful, and free of pain. But the thing was continuing to annoy her, and she felt the darkness begin to disappear. As she became more conscious, she realized just how broken her body was. Her skin was raw, her bones, shattered. Her mind was aware of only one thing besides the unbearable throbbing, burning, and stabbing pain in her body; Wolverine was there. He was saying things. But she couldn’t make out the words, only the frantic, desperate tone of his voice. She smiled at him through cracked and bleeding lips. She was so glad he was here with her. She didn’t want to die alone. “Wolv-” she began before a deep bubbling cough stopped her.
Fuck. Wolverine thought. Blood in her lungs. Fix her, goddammit!
“Don’t talk, dammit,” Logan said, ignoring the internal dialog of Wolverine. “Just turn on your fucking skin, Marie.”
She shook her head a tiny fraction of an inch, but he noticed it and fury was ran through his body. Fury that she was unwilling to accept his help.
“I’m gonna keep callin’ you ‘kid’ and ‘Marie’ over and over again until you stop bein’ an idiot and turn on yer skin.”
Another smile from her as she closed her eyes.
He shook her shoulder roughly, alarmed at her expression and her eyes fluttered back open. They were clouded with pain and unshed tears. And despite his order to keep quiet, she opened her mouth again.
“Don’t-wanna-hurt-” she got out haltingly.
“I don’t give a shit if you kill me. I’m not losin’ you again.” And he leaned down and kissed her, ignoring the coppery taste of blood on her lips, ignoring her quick inhale that sounded as though he’d hurt her, though he was trying to be gentle. At first, she didn’t respond, whether or not it was a combination of pain, or shock, or both. But then, after what seemed like hours, he felt her move her lips back against his.
She didn’t want to die alone. The thought, muddy and sluggish though it was, began to churn over and over again in her mind. She didn’t want to die alone. She didn’t want to die alone. Wolverine was here. He was kissing her. Oh, god, he was kissing her. She didn’t want to die alone. She wanted him to keep kissing her, for him to taste her skin with his tongue, use his teeth to scrape against the column of her throat. She didn’t want to die. Period. Full fucking stop. She didn’t want to die. She wanted to kiss Wolverine back. She wanted to live. She began to respond, just a little, and her body was in agony. And the touch of his lips seemed to soothe the pain, if just for a moment. Then, when she had gathered the little strength she had left, she let go of her wall of control and turned on her skin.
The pull was barely noticeable at first. A slight tingling against his lips. Then the force of her mutation hit him like a ton of bricks as she took more and more of him into her. She began to shriek with the pain of healing and he took her screams of agony into his mouth as he continued to kiss her, despite the blackening edges of his vision, despite the screaming of Wolverine in his own mind as he felt himself pouring into her.
She felt the overwhelming rush of Wolverine’s feelings, thoughts, memories. She saw herself - yet, not herself, in a green cloak in a smoke-filled bar. She saw how close her own path had followed that of this dimension’s Marie, and how, if she’d only run away from her parent’s house at 16, just one day sooner, then the entire events of her life would have been different. Regret and relief and pain flowed through her mind as scenes from Wolverine’s - no, Logan’s, his name is Logan - life flooded her. She focused on the flashes of memories as they continued to surge into her mind. It was better than focusing on the excruciating pain of her body healing and knitting itself back together.
Suddenly, her senses flared to life as she felt the force of Logan’s mutation hitting her. She could smell everything, hear everything. She felt his strength surge into her muscles as they were repaired and she felt herself flex her forearms, the phantom feeling of the slice of metal erupting out of her knuckles.
Rogue broke the kiss abruptly, breathing hard. Logan had fallen to the ground beside her unconscious, but alive. She could hear his heartbeat, smell his scent. Oh, fuck, his scent. She wanted to rub it all over her, feel him on top of her, inside her. She wanted to feel the mark of his teeth against her neck and feel the hardness of his body against hers. The wheels that had been set in motion were moving too fast now, and she felt herself swept away with the instincts that were screaming inside of her. Wolverine, Logan, his memories of the other her, everything was swirling in a massive whirlpool of need and memory.
She could feel Wolverine prowling about in her head. She knew was content to be with her. But his thoughts were occupied with other matters. Namely, finding and killing the fucks that had harmed her.
Hunt them, he whispered to her and she shuddered with longing and at the rightness of hearing him inside her head. Kill them.
“I will,” she growled.