“Absolutely not,” Rogue said through gritted teeth. Her fists were clenched at her side and she glared at the direction of Scott’s eyes, through the ruby quartz visor.
“It’s either this, or you stay in the jet,” he replied calmly.
Rogue was furious. She’d actually thought she would be going on this mission as a real member of the team. To demonstrate how useful she was, how much she had to offer by helping to look for the bioweapon and destroy it along with any files on it. But she’d been mistaken. Instead of being taken seriously, she was to be given a babysitter.
Rather than having teams sweep each floor of the science building, Scott had announced he would have half the team maintain a secure perimeter outside the building, while others would be going in to sweep the lab floors to locate the weapon. Everyone going inside the building had their own floor. Everyone, that is, except Rogue.
No, Rogue was to be paired up with Wolverine.
“Why only me?”
Scott tilted his head as he considered her. “Because you’re the most junior one here, Rogue.”
“But -” she began, feeling immediately hurt at the statement. She’d thought she had been doing so well during training. After all, only she and Scott had succeeded in getting Wolverine to the mat during the round-robin sparring session.
He held up his hand to stop her protest. “It’s not meant to be an insult. It’s a fact.”
Rogue grudgingly ceded his point. She’d only been training with the team for a month, which was a far cry from the years the other X-Men had been honing their skills.
“You’re the most junior,” Scott continued, “And Wolverine is the toughest, meanest, best damn fighter we’ve got.”
“Aw, shucks, Scooter. I didn’t know ya felt that way about me,” Wolverine rumbled from the corner of the jet.
“Can it, Wolvie,” Scott said without any heat in his voice. “None of us want anything to happen to you,” he said turning back to Rogue.
Rogue took a moment to think about what Scott had said, trying not to let her temper get the better of her. She certainly didn’t want anything to happen to her either. And hadn’t she just been thinking that her going on this mission was a bad idea while getting suited up in the locker room? Her anxiousness had begun to dissipate over the last several hours as they made their way toward Washington. But when they were nearly there, Scott had announced the mission protocol and Rogue’s nervousness had rebounded with spectacular speed.
She knew Wolverine was a bad-ass, she’d seen enough of him in action during training over the past month to squash any doubt about his skills. But the fact that she was the only one who was getting a partner on this mission, because of her junior status, still stung her pride.
Watching her mental struggle, Logan spoke up. “Look at it this way, kid. The more missions you go on with me, the better trained you’ll be, and the sooner you can go solo.”
Rogue let out a deep sigh. “Fine. I’ll consent to a babysitter.”
Logan cringed internally at her words. The last thing he’d ever wanted to be to Rogue was a goddamn babysitter. “I never was much into sitting. How about a partner?” He asked in a low voice as he came to stand next to her. He couldn’t lie to himself. The thought of partnering with Rogue excited him, and at the same time soothed the inner beast’s panic to a degree. While Summers hadn’t acquiesced to his initial request of forbidding Rogue to come along on the mission altogether, he had offered to ensure that Wolverine would be able to keep an eye on her during the excursion by teaming the two of them up. Logan told himself his excitement had nothing to do with him wanting to take in more of the tantalizing scent she’d been giving off in Chuck’s office just hours ago. If he hadn’t known better, he would have sworn that she’d been aroused. She had the same sweet, clean, slightly citrusy scent that his Marie’d given off whenever she’d been turned on. Rogue had even blushed when he’d growled as he was overcome by memories all the while struggling to keep Wolverine chained the fuck up.
But why had she been aroused? What the fuck had she been thinking about? It’d better not have been that swamp rat, LeBeau. Just the thought of the two of them together made his knuckles itch. He could picture it all too easily, that slime bag’s glittering red eyes raking over Rogue’s lithe and strong body, curves enhanced by the slightly too-small uniform she was wearing. Her mahogany hair would be freed from her high ponytail by that bastard’s hands, and it would cascade down her back in waves as her legs wrapped around his scrawny torso. And that Cajun dickweed would smile coldly as Rogue’s head fell back, exposing her neck to his lips and teeth. Logan was momentarily stunned by the clarity of the vision. He’d pictured her hair. Her plain, lustrous, brown hair. With no platinum streak. Fucking fuck, he thought violently as he realized what he’d done. He’d truly been picturing Rogue. This Rogue, and not his Marie. The pain of that realization cut through him and he winced. Glancing at the others, he was glad that nobody had noticed his momentary weakness. Scooter had been looking over his shoulder at the cockpit and Rogue had been staring in the opposite direction. He shook himself and focused back on the mission.
Rogue looked up at Wolverine, considering his words. He was offering her an olive branch, trying to make her feel less inadequate. She wouldn’t deny that she was looking forward to working with him so closely. Hell, maybe she really wanted to work with him. Seeing Wolverine in action without the restraint of holding back against his teammates might be pretty damn exciting. And hot. Damn hot. She was tired of feeling guilty over what she felt when she was around Wolverine. She’d already been in this world for just over two months, and still had no way home. She might not ever see Remy or her world again. And while the thought saddened her, she was also starting to appreciate the friendships and bonds she was forming here.
The rest of the team had started to stir, double-checking their equipment for the mission. Storm had begun their descent, and at the same time started to produce the fog-like cover they would need to remain undetected. They only had moments before touching down.
“So kid,” Wolverine rumbled low in his chest as he moved closer to her. “What’s it gonna be?”
Rogue shivered nearly imperceptibly at his closeness. Turning her head to face him, she grinned slightly. “Let’s do it, partner.”
“Where is everyone?” Rogue asked in a whisper. Her experience of the D.C. in her world was a far cry from the quiet abandoned campus she found herself in. There were no students, no demonstrations, no fliers announcing a Friday night kegger at the Sigma Phi Epsilon frat. It was an eerie feeling, like something terrible had happened on the college grounds and everyone had left in a hurry.
Wolverine glanced at Rogue from the corner of his eye, forgetting for a moment that she wouldn’t know. “Mandatory curfew. Nobody’s allowed out after dark, ‘cept the MPs.”
“MPs?” Rogue asked while wrinkling her forehead in thought.
“Military Police,” Wolverine responded in a hushed tone. He wasn’t comfortable out in the open like this, and didn’t want to be distracted until they were inside the Reiss building. The fog that Storm had helpfully provided as cover for the jet made him uneasy. While he’d easily be able to hear anyone coming, the swirls of dense clouds skewed his perception of potential foes. Every goddamn building, tree, and shrub seemed to be morphing into the shape of an enemy. His senses were on overdrive, trying to compensate and picked up every cue Rogue’s body was putting off as a result. She was nervous, excited, and more than a tiny bit scared. He tried not to let her nerves affect his and focused back on Kitty’s progress on bypassing the security system.
“C’mon, Shadowcat,” Wolverine rumbled quietly. “We’re gonna get caught if you can’t hurry the hell up.”
“Now, now, Wolvie,” Kitty replied softly as she continued her work on the security panel. She had some sort of electronic key pad connected to the exterior panel and was rapidly punching in several combinations of numbers in an attempt to override the controls. “Nearly there, don’t get your panties in a bunch.”
Rogue watched this display with her heart beating loudly in her ears. She wasn’t about to say it, but she was feeling pretty damn anxious. It felt like they were sitting ducks out here in the fog. Even though she knew that Cyclops, Storm, and Jean were somewhere out there in the darkness, she couldn’t help but feeling like there was something else out there. Something that was waiting for her.
Rogue shook herself out of her thoughts as Kitty uttered a small cry of success. There was a series of electronic beeps and a green light shone from the box. Then, Rogue heard the click of a lock disengaging and the door to the science building whooshed open.
Cyclops came striding out of the mist. “Great work, Shadowcat. Now take up position at the eastern perimeter of the building.”
Kitty gave a quick two fingered salute and disappeared into the darkness.
“Jean, you’re on the first floor, I’ve got the second, Colossus, you’re on three, Ellie, you take four, and Wolverine and Rogue are on five,” Scott reminded them. “Let’s make this quick and quiet. Make sure any signs of this weapon and all its files are destroyed, or, if you can’t destroy it, bring it with you on the way out. There’s not supposed to be any physical security, but keep an eye out regardless. Keep in contact on your comms, and alert us if you find the weapon, or run into any trouble.”
And with those encouraging words, the six of them quietly entered the building. Wolverine and Rogue broke away from the others and turned left down the first hallway to locate the stairwell. As she looked around the first floor, Rogue frowned. She thought the building would be more, well, lab-like. Instead, from what she’d seen of the first floor before heading up the stairs had appeared to be mostly abandoned classrooms. There was a fine layer of dust hanging in the air, and it began to swirl around them, illuminating the low level after hours lighting in shafts. For a government-run research facility, Rogue found the whole place entirely underwhelming. She’d heard rumors of labs running horrific experiments on mutants back in her own world, and had pictured buildings of concrete and steel, along with highly advanced lab equipment and tight security. It’s not that this place was a unsatisfying, but well, it was rather a disappointment.
“You know,” she said to Wolverine as they hustled up the concrete stairs. “For a government lab I’d thought this place would’ve been a lot scarier. Just seems like a quiet college building after hours, when everyone’s gone home.”
Wolverine rumbled low in his chest in agreement. Something felt off about this whole thing. Would the Friends of Humanity really be developing a weapon to exterminate all of mutant-kind in an old college science building? His own experience with labs was about as far as you could fucking get from this building. There was hardly anything here, and he didn’t think for one second that they would find anything on this weapon Chuck had told them about. The hair on the back of his neck was standing up and he felt the Wolverine rise to the surface in anticipation of a fight as they neared the last landing.
Without pausing, Rogue opened the stairwell door to the fifth floor and started down the hallway.
“Rogue!” Wolverine called to her. “Slow down, somethin’ feels off about this.”
“Calm down, sugar,” Rogue murmured as she tested the handle of the door nearest to her. It turned easily in her hand and when she poked her head inside, she sighed with disappointment. The room was completely empty, just bare walls and floors, with a row of windows on the far side of the room that needed a good cleaning. She closed the door behind her and turned toward Wolverine. “There’s nothin’ goin’ on here. We’ll be lucky if come across a rat, let alone some bioweapon.”
“Exactly,” he rumbled as he ignored her casual endearment. He was sure she wasn’t even conscious of what she’d called him. She was too busy continuing down the empty hallway. “Why are we here if there’s nothin’ goin’ on.”
She paused then, one hand on the next classroom door and turned her head towards him, appraisingly. “You really think somethin’ is off here? That we got bad information?”
He didn’t hesitate as he nodded. His instincts were screaming that something was wrong with the whole scenario. He cursed Chuck and Scott for sending in the entire team on whatever faulty intel they’d received. His earlier feeling of being a sitting duck in the fog didn’t feel so wrong now, and he was itching to turn around, head back down the stairwell, gather the others, and get the hell back to Canada.
“I think we oughta get out of here, kid.”
Rogue ignored him and continued down the hallway. She wanted to do more than run up five flights of stairs on her first official mission. She at least wanted to check out the rest of the floor, make sure there really wasn’t any information on this weapon before they turned tail and got the hell out of there. She was actively suppressing the fear that was bubbling up from her chest, convinced she just needed to tough it out.
“Cyke, you read me?” Logan barked into his comm. He needed alert the others and get the okay to pull-out. His bad feeling was rapidly becoming worse, and Wolverine was getting more and more impatient for them to get the fuck out of there.
“Scott. Come in, Scott.” Wolverine frowned and tapped the ear piece twice to reset it. Maybe he’d jostled it slightly and it had turned off. A few seconds later, a quick beep signaled the comm had been restarted and he tried to raise the others again. “Scott, Jean, come in. Rogue!” He whisper-shouted at her as she stalked away from him. An alarming smell had just reached him and he needed her to stop in her tracks before they were detected. He could detect the slightly sour body odor of a man around the corner. The man’s aroma mingled with the overpowering aroma of pine-scented floor cleaner and the scent of a recently cleaned gun. Fuck.
“Goddamn it,” he muttered under his breath, and he charged after her.
Rogue strode ahead and turned the corner into the next hallway, determined to put some distance between herself and Wolverine, and abruptly froze. There wasn't supposed to be anyone on this floor. She panicked at the sight of him. All the intel Charles had gathered indicated there wasn’t supposed to be anybody on this floor. In fact, there wasn’t supposed to be anyone patrolling the building period, just the security system which Kitty had already disabled. But there, at the far end of the corridor, blatantly mocking the inadequate intelligence they’d gathered, was a single armed guard, his back turned toward them as he patrolled for intruders.
The guard reached the end of the hallway and after adjusting the automatic weapon slung around his shoulder, began to turn around and come back toward her end of the hallway, where her very much unauthorized access self was visible. She did an about-face, intending to turn back the way they had come and ended up with her face in Wolverine’s shoulder. She hadn't realized he was following her so closely, but she willingly burrowed her face into the leather of his uniform, trying to avoid detection by the guard.
Catching sight of the guard’s movements, Logan immediately twisted them around so that her back was against the wall around the corner, obscuring them both from the guard’s view entirely. He could hear the steady drum of her heartbeat pounding steadily in her chest, its pace increasing slightly with fear and awareness. He leaned down and sniffed deeply. He inhaled the scent that gathered at the crown of her head and he heard the tempo of her pulse jump. Fuck, that scent. It made him crazy. He then gently took her jaw in one rough calloused palm. He was tired of denying what he wanted, tired of walking on fucking eggshells whenever he was around her. He was tired of acting like a fucking uncaring dick whenever he was close to her, when all he wanted to do was be with her, touch her, make her smile. And he was beginning to think that she wanted more from him too. Logan gazed down into the deep chocolate brown of her eyes where she reluctantly met his intense stare. Maintaining eye contact with her, he bent down and deliberately brushed his lips over hers. Once. Twice. Her breath caught in her throat but she didn’t stop him. Didn’t make a move to prevent his actions.
Rogue was dizzy at the rapid change of events. The initial shock of seeing a guard, the gun, and knowing their intelligence may not have been as accurate as they’d been led to believe, then Wolverine’s quick action to prevent them from being seen, now the hot and fast feeling of arousal deep in the pit of her stomach at the feeling of his lips against hers.
She shouldn't want him to continue. Shouldn't want to feel the warmth of his body against hers. Shouldn't enjoy the hot feeling of lust spreading through her. Shouldn't crave the touch of his mouth, his hands.
But she did.
Still holding her eyes with his own, he inhaled sharply, seeming to detect the change in her scent that signaled her acquiescence. Her acceptance of her desire for him.
They stared at each other for a long moment, unaware and uncaring of the precarious position they were in. All that mattered was what Rogue could feel blossoming between the two of them.
Wolverine felt the animal inside him roar with satisfaction. His mate had acknowledged them, had allowed him to touch her, kiss her. He felt the instant desire to claim her surge up which Logan denied with extreme difficulty. He wanted to mark her, to sink his teeth into the junction of neck and shoulder and lave away the pain of his bite. He wanted to taste the salt of her skin, and allow her to rake his back with her nails. He could smell her arousal thicken the air around them and felt himself inhaling, greedily. Forgetting the danger he sensed for just a moment, he slowly moved his hand to cup the back of her head. Her chest was moving up and down rapidly with her breath, but she didn’t resist as he moved closer.
“Ah, I’m sorry to be interrupting such a tender moment,” a low voice said out of nowhere. “But I must insist upon it.”
Rogue felt her body jump at the sound of the voice. Quiet as it was, goosebumps ran down the length of her spine as she recognized the speaker without turning from Wolverine’s arms.
“What’re you doin’ here, Cajun?”
Wolverine’s voice was low and cold. It was a tone Rogue had never heard from him and she wondered exactly what caused him to feel that level of animosity for Remy. He slowly released her from his embrace and he turned toward the voice.
“Ah, mon ami. Maybe we have some similar business with the things inside of this building, n’est-ce pas?”
At that moment, Wolverine sniffed deeply and let out a growl as Sabretooth appeared from behind them and joined Remy. Rogue couldn’t help the shudder that ran through her at his appearance. She hadn’t forgotten their previous encounter, and she clenched her fists at her sides as she remembered being pinned in the rubble of the mansion, his crude thrusts against her back, and the tasting of dried blood crusted on her temple.
Remy grinned as he caught sight of Rogue. “Tsk, tsk. You have been lying to Gambit, Wolverine. Ma petite-fille is alive and well. Very well,” he said as he took his time looking her up and down.
Rogue couldn’t help the small step she took toward Remy as he addressed her. His voice, his words, his actions were all so familiar to her. Was he really the bad guy everyone was making him out to be? He certainly looked exactly the same as her Remy and she couldn’t prevent herself from moving towards him. Wolverine let out another low growl at her movement and she stopped herself from moving any further.
“She ain’t yours, Gumbo,” Wolverine gritted out through clenched teeth. “Never was.”
“Gambit is not so sure about that,” he said as he cocked his head, clearly appraising her actions. “She seems awfully glad to see me. Ain’t that right, chère?” he asked as he winked at Rogue. She felt a familiar tingle run through her body and she heard Wolverine’s reaction to her response in the form of a low growl.
“Monsieur le chat,” Remy continued in a low voice without looking away from Rogue. “S’il vous plait,” as he motioned with one hand toward the guard around the corner.
Without any hesitation, Creed took two steps forward to stand out into the hallway, held up a pistol with a silencer, and shot the guard straight through the back of the head. He crumpled forward instantly, blood and brains splattering the dark floor as he fell.
Rogue sucked in her breath at the carelessness with which the man had just been murdered. Wolverine growled and released his claws with a sharp metallic twang. Her adrenaline spiked and she felt her limbs go weak with the simultaneous desire to fight or flee. She didn’t know what to do. In an instant, she felt all the training she’d learned over the past month vanish.
“What the fuck,” Wolverine barked. “That wasn’t necessary.”
Remy gave a Gallic shrug and took a step closer to Rogue. She shrank away from him, thoroughly horrified at what he’d just instructed Creed to do. Why hadn’t he just knocked the guard out? And why had he used a gun? Both Remy and Creed were more than capable of dealing with a guard without using firearms.
“Gambit don’t really need to explain himself to you, mon ami,” Remy said nonchalantly as he continued to stare at Rogue.
“I ain’t your goddamn friend, swamp rat.”
“Ah, your words, they do wound me. And after Gambit has been so courteous to mademoiselle and monsieur,” he said smiling.
“Courteous?” Rogue asked, her voice high with shock. “That’s what you call murdering that guard? Courteous?”
“He was surely a bad man, working with such scoundrels as he was,” Remy replied smoothly.
“That doesn’t mean you get to decide whether or not he lives or dies!” She said heatedly.
“Hmm, ma chère,” Remy murmured. “You seem different than the last time we met so long ago,” he continued, not reacting to her comment. Instead, he frowned and looked her over again, his eyes lingering on her breasts, then her face, finally her hair.
Rogue moved closer to Wolverine, feeling as though she had just been exposed somehow, that somehow Remy had discovered that she wasn’t exactly who he thought she was. She suddenly wondered how the other Rogue had interacted with Gambit. How she had reacted to his flirtatious ways, his blatant attraction to her. Had she just done something out of character?
“Whaddya want, Cajun?” Wolverine said, stepping forward slightly to shield Rogue.
“Likely the same thing you do. One hears such rumors about the goings on of the world, and has to investigate, oui?”
“Get to the point before the rest of the team shows up and has to clean up your bloody remains.”
“Ah, but I don’t think the rest of your X-Men will be joining you anytime soon,” Remy responded, a sick grin on his face.
Rogue felt her stomach drop. “What did you do to them?” She whispered.
“Gambit has his secrets, and Gambit’s secrets they will remain,” he responded, a cold smile on his face.
“I’ve had enough of this,” Wolverine said through clenched teeth. And he charged forward with a roar, his claws outstretched. Remy let out a bored sigh and reached into his pocket. A small aerosol can appeared in his hand and with a quick depression of the nozzle, a sickly sweet smelling mist issued form the can, and Wolverine dropped to the floor with a heavy thunk.
A small amount of the mist hit Rogue’s face and she felt herself sway on her feet. Whatever was in that can was no joke. It was potent and dangerous.
“What the hell did you do to him?” she said falling to her knees beside Wolverine. She tore off one glove with her teeth and checked his neck for a pulse. She let out a small sigh of relief as she felt the reassuring thumping of his blood beneath her fingers. Now that her hand was bare, she’d waste no time in using her skin to fight Gambit and Sabretooth. Even if it meant having them rattle around in her head, she wouldn’t let them get away with whatever the fuck they were planning. Not if they’d hurt the rest of her team, not after what Gambit had done to Wolverine.
“Ma chère,” Remy sighed with exasperation. “I’ll not explain anything more to you. The Wolverine has been dispensed of, for now, at any rate, and I must insist we depart. Now.” He said as he flicked his eyes at the prone form of Wolverine.
“Tell me,” Rogue said, her voice shaking slightly with anger and fear as she slowly rose from her position next to Wolverine. “Why would I willingly leave here with a psychopath and a rapist?”
Creed growled menacingly at her answer and backhanded her roughly without any warning. Rogue was thrown to the floor by the force of the blow as pain exploded in her right cheek.
Remy clicked his tongue. “Tsk, tsk, monsieur le chat. None of that, s’il vous plait” and he reached down with one arm to help her up. Rogue glared up at him through the strands of hair that had fallen over her face, unsure as to whether or not she should take his hand. She decided against it, as she felt the deep throbbing of pain in her cheek, and slowly pushed herself up without his assistance.
“Such passion, such fire, ma petite fille. I admire you for it, but I do believe it will be detrimental to you in the end.”
And without warning, Remy raised his arm and sprayed Rogue directly in the face with the can, and the world went dark around her.