Rogue woke late the following day. After her meditation session in the early hours of the morning, she’d been able to sleep through the rest of the night without any further dreams, good or otherwise. Stretching her arms above her head, she groaned as her stiff muscles protested at the sudden movement. She felt like she’d just had a tough training session in the Danger Room. Though her training wasn’t all that frequent anymore, not since she’d taken on some of the more low risk mission tasks such as recruiting and counseling the new students.
Seeing as her mutation really wasn’t all that useful in most combat situations, the Professor and Scott hadn’t seen the merit of engaging her in further combat training, therefore, her training need not be as strenuous or frequent as the Alpha team’s schedule. As a result, Rogue would usually participate in weekly sessions with the junior team members who were just starting their training, in order for her to keep up on the basics.
A part of her was disappointed in the Professor and Scott’s decision; she really enjoyed the hand-to-hand sparring sessions she’d begun with the Alpha team, especially Jiu-Jitsu. The fundamentals of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which focused on grappling and ground-fighting, really came in handy for someone like Rogue, who, while not exactly a petite flower, wouldn’t be able to get much leverage or force over someone say, Sabretooth, otherwise.
She understood the risks that came with someone accidentally coming into contact with her skin, even if she did cover herself head-to-toe in flexible workout gear. Hell, she lived with the risk every day of her life. She knew she had control over herself, but also accepted others’ fear of her mutation. She supposed, if the shoe were on the other foot, she’d be afraid of someone like her too.
Rogue threw back the sheets from the bed and rolled her head to relieve some of the stiffness in her neck. Her headache was nearly gone, but it was still there; a constant nagging ache behind her eyes. But at least it was better than it had been yesterday. She felt for the edges of the butterfly bandages at her temple and winced at the tenderness of her skin. Raising up her arm to examine the bandage, she grimaced as she felt the uncomfortable pull of the stitches in her arm. She was pleased to see the bandage Wolverine had applied late last night remained secure while she slept. She felt herself flush hotly as she remembered the stroke of his thumb against her knuckles and let out a sigh of self recrimination.
It was easy to see why this dimension’s Rogue had been interested in him. Wolverine had a certain raw primal quality that was undeniably attractive. If she hadn’t been with Remy, she could easily see herself wanting to get closer to him. As it was though, she shook her head as if to clear the temptation of getting physically close to Wolverine from her mind, she had to focus her attention on how she could find a way back home.
As usual, she felt much more serene after meditating. While she was still anxious and upset at finding herself in a different world than her own, with her mind calm, she was able to think there might be ways for her to get home. After all, if Rift had existed in her dimension, it was very possible he existed here as well. It was just a question of finding him.
Glancing out the window, she saw a bright blue sky which was unmarred by even a single wisp of cloud. The sun was nearly at its peak, making it close to noon by her best guess. She glanced around the room for some spare clothes to change into, but finding none, decided her borrowed pajamas would have to be good enough for her to head downstairs and get something to eat.
She left her room, bare footed, and made her way down toward the kitchen. The warm thick scent of freshly brewed coffee was hanging in the air and Rogue found herself suddenly taking in a deep breath in, enjoying the familiar aroma. At least this world has coffee, she thought. She hesitated a moment before stepping into the kitchen, nervous at who she might encounter there. But she steeled herself for the unexpected and let out a sigh as she walked forward.
Kitty Pryde, apparently taken off guard by Rogue’s sudden appearance in the kitchen, abruptly lost her grip on the mug of hot coffee she’d had part-way to her mouth, and it dropped to the counter with a loud crash.
“Shit, Kitty! I’m so sorry!” Rogue exclaimed as the burning liquid splashed on Kitty’s exposed arm.
Kitty hadn’t moved from her position at the counter stool since dropping the mug. Her mouth was hanging agape, and her face appeared to drain of blood as Rogue rushed toward her, intent on inspecting any damage done to Kitty’s arm by the hot coffee. But Kitty jerked her hand back away from her and Rogue stopped in her tracks, one bare hand outstretched.
Rogue had learned long ago the look of fear that took over her friends’ faces if she got too close to them. Though that had been before she had learned control over her mutation, Kitty’s face echoed that look perfectly now at the sight of Rogue’s bare hand. Slowly, she withdrew her extended hand back toward her side and waited for a few moments for Kitty to realize she wasn’t going to touch her.
Finally, the stark look of fear faded from Kitty’s face and Rogue took the opportunity to speak. “So. I guess they didn’t tell you about me?”
“They said - yes. They told me about you,” Kitty hesitated, “But I didn’t think you’d be, so, well, like her.”
“Hmm,” Rogue said quietly. She was at a loss for exactly what to say at that. “So I guess I kinda look like her then?”
Kitty nodded in agreement, eyes wide. “Not just kinda like her. You’re the friggin’ spit of her.” Kitty paused for a moment and took in Rogue’s appearance, frowning slightly. “Except the hair.”
“The hair?” Rogue asked, curious to hear more about this alternate version of herself. “What did she do to her hair? Was it a weird cut or somethin’?”
“Nah,” Kitty shook her head. “I guess you could say it was a different color. Rogue - that is, she, had a platinum streak, here,” Kitty said as she pointed to her own widow’s peak. “But she didn’t always have it, she got it after I first met her.”
“Huh. Wonder why she wanted to dye it like that,” Rogue mused under her breath.
“Oh, she didn’t dye it,” Kitty offered quickly. “It happened when she almost died.”
Kitty said the last part so nonchalantly, that Rogue almost missed it. When she processed what Kitty said, she exclaimed, “What?”, instantly forgot about getting her own cup of coffee, and sat down next to Kitty eager to hear more of the story.
Kitty got up from her own stool, and knowing that Rogue was a captive audience, moved to clean up the spilled coffee from the counter top without any sign of continuing the tale anytime soon.
“Well?” Rogue said impatiently, as Kitty carefully mopped up the coffee with a damp paper towel, a smirk at the corner of her mouth.
Kitty tossed the paper towel in the trash can next to the island and retrieved two mugs from the cabinet and filled them both from the nearly full coffee pot. Without asking her how she took her coffee, Kitty grabbed a container of cream from the fridge and set it next to Rogue’s cup. Clearly, she knew how she preferred her coffee; with a splash of cream and no sugar. That thought left Rogue slightly troubled, and she looked back at Kitty, anxious for her to continue the story of this Rogue’s near demise.
“You have a Magneto in your world?” Kitty asked Rogue as she slowly sipped her own black coffee.
Rogue nodded. “Yeah, he’s the head of the Brotherhood of Mutants.”
“Here too,” Kitty added. “Well, he was. After he tried to turn a bunch of world leaders into mutants at the Statue of Liberty, he was locked up for awhile. He tried to use Rogue to power this weird machine, at least, that’s what I think happened. I wasn’t there, just heard bits and pieces of it later on.”
“The Statue of Liberty?” Rogue frowned, trying to think if she’d missed something like that happening in her own world. It was possible it had occurred during the year she’d been held by the Church of Humanity. But she was pretty sure she would have heard about something like that. “When did this happen? How old was she?”
“Hmm. About eight years ago, I think. Rogue was sixteen? Maybe seventeen,” Kitty frowned as she tried to remember. “I mean, she was really just a kid when the whole thing went down. And she pretty much died at the effort it took to make ol’ Metal Head’s machine to work. Any of this ring any bells for you?” Kitty asked, glancing over to take in Rogue’s reaction.
Rogue was hooked. Her pulse was elevated, and she could feel the low-grade rush of caffeine and adrenaline running through her body. She was anxious to hear more about this world’s Rogue. She shook her head quickly, eager for Kitty to continue. “She died?” Rogue said quietly under her breath, her body breaking out in goosebumps at the thought.
“Yeah,” Kitty answered after another sip of coffee. “Wolverine said she was gone when he got to her.”
“Wolverine? What did he do?” But the hair on the back of Rogue’s neck was standing on end. She knew what he’d done. The conversation they’d had in the bathroom late last night came back to her. “You don’t haveta worry about me, darlin’,” he said in a quiet voice. “Super-healer.”
“Healed her,” Kitty added unnecessarily. “Rogue wasn’t all the way dead or something, because she was able to suck almost all the life out of him.”
“Holy shit,” Rogue muttered.
“Holy shit is right. He was unconscious for a few days. Not that he’d admit to Rogue almost killing him.”
Rogue was left pondering this thought while Kitty sipped her coffee.
“Okay. So it’s your turn,” Kitty said finally after several minutes.
“My turn?” Rogue asked, confused at what Kitty was implying.
“Yeah. Your turn. Dish. What’s your world like? Are we friends? Am I evil? Are the X-Men a thing over there? Are you and Wolverine a thing? Are Bobby and I a thing? What about Scott and Jean and the Professor?”
Rogue couldn’t help but laugh. Kitty sounded just like her when she was asking Wolverine questions on the jet after she’d regained consciousness.
“Slow down, Kitty. I only asked you how I almost died. What do you want to know first?”
Kitty hesitated as she pondered what information was most vital to her.
“Am I evil?”
Rogue laughed again and shook her head. “No," she said, a smile plastered on her face. “You’re not evil. You’re with the X-Men in my world too, who are a thing there, by the way. And yeah, Kitty. We’re pretty good friends where I come from,” Rogue offered with a smile.
“Well, darn. I was hoping I’d be evil, or at least have done something a little crazy.”
“Well look at it this way. If what the Professor said about dimensions is true, then there is bound to be at least one evil Kitty out there, somewhere.”
“Hmm. Good point. Okay, next up?” Kitty looked her, eyebrows raised.
Rogue nodded. She was fine with Kitty asking a few more questions. It would allow her some time to think about what she wanted to know next. “Shoot.”
“You and L-” Kitty abruptly stopped whatever it was she was about to say, and Rogue wondered if she might have been about to reveal Wolverine’s real name. It could hardly be Wolverine, after all. Unless his parents had been particularly cruel.
“You and Wolverine,” Kitty continued.
Rogue felt her pulse jump at the statement, but let Kitty continue without further interruption.
“You guys a thing there?”
Rogue shook her head, feeling absurdly relieved at the way Kitty had asked the question. “I don’t know Wolverine in my world. I’d never seen him before yesterday when he picked me up at the mansion.”
Kitty looked stunned. “No kiddin’. You never met him? Never heard of him?”
Rogue shook her head again. “Nope.”
“Wow,” Kitty said. “That’s so weird to think you’d never met him before yesterday. Here, you guys were all over each other. Especially once you two became like, a thing.”
Rogue couldn’t suppress the shudder that went through her at the thought of her and Wolverine being together. She had to hand it to her alternate self for jumping at that opportunity. An image of Remy’s smile rose up in her mind and she berated herself immediately for the stray thought and turned her attention back to Kitty.
“So who are you with, then? I mean,” Kitty raised her eyebrows briefly as she gave Rogue a once-over. “Look at you. You can’t be single.”
“Ha. No,” Rogue answered smiling again at Kitty’s boldness. The similarities between this Kitty and the Kitty she knew were nearly indecipherable. “I’m with Remy.”
Kitty nearly spat out the sip of coffee she’d just taken while waiting for Rogue to answer. “What the holy hell? Remy? LeBeau? What the hell are you doing with that scumbag, Rogue?”
“He’s not a scumbag, Kitty!” Rogue responded, a little heat in her voice at the accusation. She already felt guilty for applauding her alternate self for being with Wolverine, and for allowing him to touch her so intimately last night, and felt as though she needed to defend her relationship with Remy.
“Sorry,” Kitty said in a softer voice. “I forgot for a second that you don’t know about this Gambit. Gambit his codename there too?” she added as an afterthought.
“Yeah. Gambit. He’s not a bad guy there. I mean, sure,” Rogue hesitated, wondering how much she should tell Kitty about Gambit’s less than respectable past in the Thieves’ Guild, but she shrugged, figuring it didn’t really matter what she told her. “He definitely has an interesting past where I come from, but he turned it around a long time ago. He’s a sweet guy,” Rogue insisted, “And he thinks the world of me.”
Kitty tilted her head as she considered Rogue’s words, whatever thoughts she had about Rogue’s relationship with Gambit weren’t visible in her normally expressive face. “How long have you two been together?”
“A year and a half.”
“Wow, that’s great, Rogue. Really. I’m happy for you,” Kitty said with a smile. “Okay, next-”
But Rogue cut her off. “Nope! My turn, missy. You asked plenty of questions.”
Kitty laughed. “Fair enough. Just one more question though?” And before Rogue could protest, Kitty blurted out, “You hungry?”
“Hell yes,” Rogue replied emphatically. “What’ve we got to cook?”
“There’s some bacon and eggs in the fridge. You interested?”
Rogue nodded and the two of them began to fry up breakfast, working companionably, their talk touching on nothing more serious than the spectacular autumn weather Canada was, apparently, experiencing. The work of preparing food and light chatter allowed Rogue time to formulate her next real question. After they’d finished cooking up a half-dozen eggs, several strips of bacon, and brewed a fresh pot of coffee, they both sat back down at the counter stools and ate their late breakfasts in affable silence. After finishing her second fried egg and fourth strip of crispy bacon, Rogue washed it down by polishing off her second cup of coffee and pushed back her plate.
“Alright, Kitty. My turn. What the hell happened here?”
Kitty let out a deep breath and pushed back her own plate. “That’s a long story, Rogue. Not sure I’m the best person to tell it.”
Rogue tried not to let her disappointment at those words show. To say she was interested in what had happened to the X-Men in this world was an understatement.
Kitty must’ve known her pretty well in this world because she spoke softly as she put her own hand on Rogue’s. “Hey, I’m sure the Professor would be happy to speak with you about everything.”
Rogue gently squeezed Kitty’s hand before standing up from the kitchen stool and reaching for their empty plates.
“Holy crap!” Kitty said as she just realized she’d been touching Rogue’s bare hand. “You can control your skin? That’s fucking incredible!”
Rogue grinned at the abrupt change in topic. “She couldn’t control hers?” She loaded the dishes into the dishwasher and turned on the faucet to the sink to wash the skillet and other items they’d used to make breakfast.
“Nah. Our Rogue never quite got there. Seemed like she was getting close, but then…” Kitty trailed off.
“Wait. If your Rogue couldn’t control her skin, then how did she and Wolverine -” Rogue abruptly stopped speaking, embarrassed by the train of thought her mind had taken and her mouth followed without hesitation.
“Don’t know, never asked. But I’m sure they figured something out. Wolverine seems like the kinda guy who could get creative.” Kitty answered with a shit-eating grin as she took in Rogue’s red face.
“Kitty,” a deep voice barked suddenly.
Kitty jumped at the sound of Wolverine’s voice and rushed to stand up from her own seat. Rogue felt the blush in her face deepen as she realized the words they’d just said within definite hearing distance of the man with heightened senses.
“Oh, shit,” Kitty muttered under her breath.
“Oh, shit, is right,” Wolverine said as he strolled into the kitchen and fixed his eyes on Kitty. He was dressed in a tight fitting black t-shirt that showed every single sculpted muscle beneath it along with a pair of black tactical pants and combat boots. Rogue thought he might as well not be wearing a shirt at all, for all the modesty this one offered.
“Any particular reason you’re late for training today?” he growled out.
“Just having breakfast with Rogue here.”
Rogue noticed his gaze flicker over her for a moment, with no trace of the kindness she’d seen in his eyes last night. The lack of warmth was oddly upsetting, and she frowned as she turned her back to the two of them and began washing dishes.
‘“Not sure that’s really an excuse, given that training started an hour ago. You been eating bacon and eggs for an hour straight? Or did you just wake up late. Again.”
“Erm,” Kitty said, struggling come up with an answer that didn’t sound like complete and utter bullshit. “I plead the Fifth.”
Wolverine scoffed. “That doesn’t mean shit anymore. Get downstairs. We’ve got work to do today.”
Kitty hurried past Wolverine, and turned back to Rogue before exiting the kitchen and winked as she caught Rogue’s eye.
Rogue focused on scrubbing the last bit of crusty egg off the edge of the spatula and did her best to ignore the man at her back, not sure she could look him in the eye after what she was certain he’d overheard.
“You wanna join us for training?” Wolverine asked after several moments of tense quiet. His voice was slightly less harsh than when he’d been speaking to Kitty, but Rogue could practically feel the tension he was putting off. “Chuck should be down there later if you wanna pick his brain.”
Rinsing the last of the soap suds from her hands and draining the sink, Rogue contemplated her options. Hadn’t she just been thinking how much she missed training? And here she was, being given the opportunity to join in with the team. A team that didn’t seem to be afraid of her skin. If nothing else, it would certainly be a way for her to pass the time until she could find a way home.
She wiped her hands on a dishtowel and turned to face Wolverine, feeling suddenly very vulnerable in her pajamas. “Yeah. That’d be good.”
He nodded and turned on his boot heel to exit the kitchen. Assuming she should follow, given she had no idea where the entrance to “downstairs” was, Rogue started to walk after him. But she stopped in her tracks as he suddenly turned back toward her and looked her over. His eyes slowly and thoroughly taking in what she could only assume was her sleep-mussed hair, long teal-colored flannel pajama bottoms and dark gray baggy t-shirt. She felt her skin prickle where his eyes lingered and she resolutely kept her arms at her sides, though she desperately wanted to fold her arms over her breasts, which suddenly seemed all too eager to point out the exact position of her nipples.
“Yer gonna need somethin’ else to wear,” he growled.
“Oooof!” Rogue uttered a strangled sort of noise as Piotr once again tossed her easily to the mat. She was drenched in sweat and breathing hard as she ignored Piotr’s good-natured gesture to help her up. She was frustrated and getting cranky at the ease at which Piotr could take her down.
“Pay attention, Rogue!” Wolverine snarled at her from the corner of the room. He was overseeing the team’s last round of sparring and found himself continuously watching Rogue, mostly silently critiquing her obvious lack of even the basic defensive techniques. Though once in awhile, he couldn’t help but barking out a criticism.
“I am payin’ attention!” She snapped back, her accent becoming more pronounced as her level of frustration rose. He didn’t need to tell her to pay attention, it was all she’d been doing. Noticing the advanced skills of the others around her for the past two hours only heightened her awareness of her own inexperience. Clearly, the Scott of her world hadn’t done her any favors in denying her the opportunity to continue her training. She slowly got to her knees and stood up, preparing herself to face Piotr once more. She wiped the sweat off her forehead with one hand and tucked a few loose strands of hair back behind her ears. This time, she was not going to let him get her on the floor.
“Ready?” Piotr asked her kindly. She could tell he felt bad for continuously besting her, but she absolutely did not want him to go easy on her. She’d never learn that way.
Rogue jerked her head in acknowledgment and waited for him to make his move. But before she could blink, he’d grasped her by the thighs, lifted her up and thrown her to the mat.
“Ugh!” This time, Rogue stayed down. Who was she kidding? She was not at all prepared for this level of sparring. She’d barely mastered basic skills in her previous training sessions. She didn’t know how she’d expected to compete against Piotr or the other remaining X-Men, who were clearly much more advanced than her. At first she’d been paired up with Kitty, but after awhile they’d switched it up so that Bobby and Kitty, Kurt and some girl Rogue didn’t recognize by the name of Ellie, and she and Piotr were paired up. She’d been hoping to spot Jubilee when she’d joined the others for training, but after noting her absence, and the absence of so many other familiar faces, began to have a bad feeling in her stomach when she thought about it.
Logan took in Rogue’s sweaty defeated form as she remained on her back on the black gym mat. He hadn’t thought she would be so inadequately trained. It just didn’t make sense. He couldn’t understand why, as one of the X-Men in her world, why she wasn’t able to perform basic defensive maneuvers. Before he’d taken over as combat instructor, the X-Men, while certainly trained to use their powers, had definite room for improvement in their fighting skills. Scooter had done a decent job with them, but if they were to have any chance of defending themselves against some of the very real threats out there, he’d known he would have to ramp up their training, and fast. Guerrilla tactics, street fighting techniques, and martial arts had all been incorporated into the team’s standard training sessions once he became the instructor. The team that remained was a highly trained group of smart, tactical fighters.
Even as underwhelmed as Logan had been after assessing their fighting skills, the X-Men had at least been able to block a basic tackling move. Rogue couldn’t even do that, even though Piotr had been going easy on her. He’d seen Piotr’s own surprise when he’d easily taken Rogue down the first time, and while he was sure Rogue hadn’t noticed, he could see that Piotr had adjusted his level of force down several notches. Logan tried to calm himself at the thought of her being so defenseless against a physical attack. It did not please his inner animal to think of her without the knowledge of proper defense techniques.
“Alright,” he barked out to the team. “That’s enough for today. I’ll see you all back here tomorrow at ten o’clock sharp.” Logan looked at Kitty as he emphasized the word and she unabashedly grinned back at him as she packed up her gear.
The small team began filtering out of the underground training area and toward the locker rooms, whose entry ways were right next to each other at the far end of the room. The area beneath the house was a no-frills kind of place. Concrete walls and floors were decorated only with a section dedicated to weight training, a few treadmills, with the biggest area being dedicated to hand-to-hand combat practice. There were a couple of heavy bags and BOBs for the team to practice their punches and kicks on, as well as the floor space that was decked out in gym mats.
Rogue slowly pushed herself up from one of said mats, her legs wobbling with exertion, the stitches in her arm throbbing in time to the ache in her head. She put her hands on her hips and purposely avoided looking at Wolverine as she caught her breath. The borrowed workout gear was uncomfortably damp with sweat. Moisture wicking, my ass, she thought bitterly as she remembered speaking with Jean about needing to find something to wear for training.
“I thought you said you’d had some training.” He snapped at her without warning.
It was the wrong thing to say. Rogue was in no mood for a lecture. Not after the embarrassing performance she’d just had. She immediately bristled with anger at his tone. “I have,” she responded through gritted teeth.
“Didn’t look like it. Piotr had you on the mat at least a dozen times. Even Kitty was able to take you down.”
“Ya don’t have to tell me how bad I am at this, Wolverine. A blind man could’ve seen it.”
Logan watched as she ripped out the elastic hair tie she’d borrowed from Kitty and began twisting up the fallen strands into a messy bun. A wave of her scent hit him and he clenched his jaw and his fists simultaneously, fighting the urge to run his hands through her hair and down her sweat-soaked body. She’s not her, he reminded himself for the dozenth time since his inappropriate behavior last night. The beast growled disapprovingly at those words. She looked and smelled like her. He’d be willing to bet she’d taste like her too. All salty from exertion, but with the unmistakable sweet taste of Marie just beneath it. He could picture it all too easily; jerking her close to him and tilting her head back to lick the skin on her neck, gently nipping the sensitive tendon with his teeth, not hurting her, but biting down just hard enough to let her know who was in charge. She’d submit easily, and he could almost smell the scent of her arousal as she grasped him by the back of the neck, forcing his lips down to hers -
“…so I don’t need you to lecture me. Believe me, I’m way more pissed than you are about this.”
Logan mentally shook himself out of the pretty picture he’d just painted for himself. Shit. He hadn’t even known she was still talking. Not while he’d been imagining his hands and lips on her body.
“Doubtful,” he muttered under his breath.
“What was that?” She asked sharply.
She narrowed her eyes at his quick response, but continued on. “Look, I don’t know why Scott and the Professor chose not to train me further. I guess I didn’t really need it in my world. I didn’t go on a lot of missions.”
Logan could hear the bitterness in her voice. He ran his hands through his hair and sighed loudly. He shouldn’t offer. But he couldn’t help himself. He didn’t want her to be so defenseless. Particularly in this world. “Look. You wanna get better? Keep showin’ up every morning at ten. We’ll get you up to speed.”
Rogue was silent for a moment as she contemplated his offer. She was furious at her lack of knowledge. And if Wolverine was offering to train her with the others, she could hardly say no. She’d seen the level at which the others were fighting. If he was the one behind their skills, then she wanted in. If her brief encounter with this dimension’s Sabretooth had taught her anything, it was that she wasn’t equipped to deal with this place.
“You sure?” she asked him slowly.
“Yeah. Now go hit the showers, kid.” Wolverine turned away so she wouldn’t see the expression on his face.
“Hey!” She exclaimed. “What did I tell you about callin’ me ‘kid’?”
He didn’t answer as he stalked toward the men’s locker room, his lips turned up in the ghost of a smile.
Kitty was waiting for Rogue in the women’s locker room, her hair freshly damp from the shower.
“So. You get an earful from Mr. Cheery?” Kitty asked her
“Ah. Don’t worry about it. Wolverine’s just off his game right now. He’s usually a lot meaner in training.”
“Ha,” Rogue responded with a smile. She turned her back to Kitty and began stripping off her damp exercise clothes. She couldn’t wait to get in the shower and wash off the sweat from her body. It felt like an eternity since she’d been clean. “Oh, hey,” Rogue said as she looked down at her bandaged forearm. “Can you get stitches wet? I’ve never had stitches before.”
There was no response from Kitty, and turning her head back to make sure that she was still there, saw the pale expression on Kitty’s face as she caught sight of the scars on her back.
“Rogue,” Kitty breathed softly. “What happened to you?”
“Nothin’” Rogue said as she chastised herself for forgetting about where she was. It was so easy to slip into familiar habits and routines with this world’s Kitty, who was basically indistinguishable from the one she knew in her own dimension.
“That’s not nothin’! That’s a definite something.”
“Don’t worry about it, Kitty. It happened a long time ago,” Rogue said stiffly.
“But, Rogue -”
“I don’t want to talk about it, Kitty. Just drop it.”
Rogue grabbed the closest clean towel and headed toward the showers without looking back at Kitty. She wasn’t prepared to talk about her back. Not so soon after her latest nightmare. Not ever.
Pleased that there were a few supplies in one of the shower stalls, she pulled the curtain shut behind her and turned on the water until steam began so billow up around her. She stepped into the spray and sighed, enjoying the feeling of water coursing over her skin. Mindful of the cut at her temple, she began to gently shampoo her hair, lathering up twice, and using the excess suds to wash the sweat from her body. She closed her eyes as she found a bottle of conditioner and worked it into the long tangled mess of her hair. She was rather enjoying the feeling of being clean and not worrying about what to do next. After several more minutes of allowing the conditioner to do its job, she looked around for a spare razor. She let out a sigh. Apparently she’d have to forgo shaving her legs. Rogue finished rinsing and turned off the water, wrapped the towel around her, and headed back into the locker room area.
She found herself relieved that neither Kitty nor Ellie were waiting for her in the changing room when she emerged from the shower. Though looking around she saw that someone had taken both her borrowed pajamas and workout gear.
“Well. Shit,” she said as she looked around for any spare clothes. Finding none in any of the lockers, she realized she was going to have to head back upstairs, in nothing more than a towel.
“It’s just not my week,” she said walked out of the locker room back to the underground training area, her head looking down to make sure she wasn’t exposing any more of her skin than was possible. As she exited the entryway to the locker room, she looked up and found herself staring up at a freshly showered Wolverine.
“Ack!” she shrieked as she jumped and lost the grip on her towel. She quickly bent down, scrambling to pick up the damp towel from the floor, her heart hammering in her ears, her face red with embarrassment.
As she grappled for her dropped towel, Logan’s vision clouded with red as he caught a glimpse of her back. It was covered in scars. The thin white lines overlapped the entire length of her, from shoulders to waist. He knew what kind of a weapon had left those marks. She’d been whipped. Repeatedly. Now, he needed to find out which soon-to-be dead fuck had dared to mark her so. Logan felt the burn of his claws between his knuckles as they released with a metallic twang.
“Who the fuck did that to you?” His words were barely intelligible as he struggled to rein in Wolverine.
“None of your business,” Rogue said, gritting her own teeth as she avoided his eyes and concentrated on wrapping the towel tightly around her. She was beyond pissed. She’d just exposed her back to two people in the space of a few minutes. She’d never told anybody about how she’d gotten those scars, and now there were two people who would be pestering her for more information. It was the last thing she wanted to talk about.
“Marie. I need to know who the fuck did this to you so I can kill them.”
“Don’t call me Marie, Wolverine,” she said, her temper flaring. “You don’t know me. And I don’t know you. I don’t need you to fight my battles for me. You don’t need to concern yourself with my business.” She turned her back on him, intent on brushing past him and heading back upstairs. But she heard the sing of metal as he retracted his claws, and she felt the warmth of his hand on her shoulder, stilling her.
“Wait. Please,” he said, a noticeable strain in his voice.
She stopped, and inhaled a shaky breath. “What. What do you want?”
He moved around to face her and slowly withdrew his hand from her shoulder. They stared at each other for several moments, neither of them speaking. She saw his eyes were deep gold, with no traces of hazel in them. Just as Wolverine opened his mouth to say something, he jerked his head around to face the front of the training room, his body tense once more.
“I’m sorry. Am I interrupting?” Charles said lightly, his chair making no more than a faint humming sound as he entered the room.
Rogue and Wolverine had spoken at the same time, and Rogue glared at Wolverine as he raised one eyebrow back at her.
“No,” Rogue said again, more firmly this time. “Did you want to talk to me, Professor?”
“Kitty mentioned you were down here and that you might be up for a chat. If you’d care to meet me back upstairs once you’ve had a chance to dress, I believe Kitty was in the process of finding some more comfortable clothes for you.”
“Yes, thank you Professor. I’d like that,” she said, as she forced her gaze away from Wolverine.
At that same moment, Kitty came thundering down the stairs, a stack of clothes in her hands. When she reached the bottom of the stairs, she froze at the sight of Rogue in a towel, facing off with Wolverine, with the Professor looking on, a neutral expression on his face.
“Um. Clothes,” she said weakly, unsure what else to do to break the tension in the room.
Rogue whirled away from Wolverine, stalked over and snatched the clothes from Kitty’s arms, and headed back to the locker room to change without a word. She was going to have to avoid Wolverine for awhile, even if it meant not showing up to training for a few days. After pulling on a pair of underwear and a bra that almost fit her, she jerked on a pair of form-fitting dark jeans that Kitty had procured and threw on a dark purple vee necked sweater. Wolverine needed to calm down and get over this weird protective urge he seemed to have around her. He needed to realize that she was not his Rogue, and she wasn’t sure he could do that if she was constantly around him.
Maybe he’d be better off if she left. Maybe there was another place she could go, away from the X-Men, where she would have a chance to look for a way back home.
By the time she zipped up a pair of brown leather knee-high boots, she’d made up her mind. She was going to have a lot to talk to the Professor about.