Whispers

 
 

Guilded Hope

Rogue collapsed onto her bed, breathing hard, limbs still shaking with fear, confusion, and...she didn't know exactly what. She closed her eyes and willed herself to stop crying as she gripped her pillow even tighter, making her fingers hurt from the pressure, and dug her face into the cover until she almost couldn't breathe for the space that was left.

Her mind was reeling. Her emotions were indescribable and achingly strong.

Touch.

She could touch him.

It didn't even matter who it was that had succeeded in crossing her first line of defense, a barrier she had only begun to become resigned to. She had rebelled against her skin, hated her mutation and herself, but even so, slowly given into the unavoidable fact of it. She would never have a lover, children, a family. She would never touch anyone she cared about ever again without hurting them. She couldn't accept it, but she had certainly come to believe it.

If she hadn't, would she be feeling this breaking loose of her world? Would the ground have dropped out from beneath her? She didn't know if she was falling or flying on the simple sensation of Remy's skin.

Touch.

Rogue rolled over on her back and felt the release of what felt like a thousand breaths as air came freely into her lungs once more. She stared at the darkness of her ceiling, lying tense on top of the still mussed sheets, and burrowed her fingers in the blanket. The air tasted stale and still.

When she had first seen Remy in there, fighting like that, it stopped her in her tracks. First, the surprise of another person visiting the Danger Room at such a late hour. Second, that someone fighting blind could fight like that. Only the Logan in her would be dumb enough to walk forward at the sight.

She had given into the Logan.

For a moment, she thought Remy would kill her and she braced herself for the blow. Instead, the faintest wisp of touch across her face. Then more firm, more confident, and wondering. She thought to warn him and then cut herself off, realizing...

Touch.

She wondered if he was lying in his room staring at the ceiling blindly as she was, or if maybe this was all something simple and meaningless to him, even if it was the entire world to her. She wondered what was the sadness in his voice when she asked to see his eyes and he told her no. She wondered why he had so carefully aimed those parting words, as if asking her for permission to touch her again. He didn't touch her then, but he had waited and she had given permission. She was sure he would touch her again.

Rogue smiled in the darkness.

Perhaps it didn't matter who had somehow given her the gift of that moment. Perhaps it didn't matter that it was a complete stranger who had managed it. Perhaps it was a fluke of something and when she saw Dr. McCoy or Dr. Grey in the morning, they would explain it and it would never happen again.

But for the first time since she had been cursed with her mutation and cut off from physical contact with another human, she had hope. One day, she would touch again.

Touch.

He had given her hope.

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She was beautiful.

Her skin was so soft, her scent so delicate and sweet, her emotions so full and fiery. He had been unable to release the gentle tug of that slender, tentative thread between them. Not until she asked to see his eyes.

He thought of Bella Donna, burning theatres, and hot, naked fear.

It was more than enough to give him distance then, enough to back away, to calculate, to push her carefully, and to be Gambit instead of a scared mutant kid named Remy that was out of control.

He shifted uncomfortably on the slightly stiff mattress of his bed.

His mind went over back over what had happened in the Danger Room. The moment had been real and packed with many things he had spent the last few days trying to avoid, not the least, strong emotion. He sorted through her emotions, her words, and tried to discern that niggling uncomfortable feeling that blossomed inside him when he did. He found he could not.

He growled in frustration and flipped over onto his stomach on the bed. Very, very cautiously, he fingered the top of the blindfold, toying with familiar thoughts, made comfortable by their closeness through the days of his enforced darkness.

A trickle of adrenaline lightened his breathing, pounded through his blood, and raised the specter of heightened charge. He held onto his tentative control and unfurled the empathy within his body, shushing the heated cells. The task was made easier after depleting so much charge and energy in the Danger Room. He calmed himself slowly, steadily, until his heart rate returned to normal.

Closing his eyes behind the blindfold was always an odd sensation, like he couldn't be sure if he had accomplished the task. His vision remained the same whether they were opened or closed and he had to close them tight enough to hurt before he knew they were completely shut.

He slowly worked his fingers through the binding at the back of his head and dropped the fold away. There was no sudden brightness behind his lids, for it was night.

Would he really do it?

He stopped breathing altogether and scrounged up another wave of calm, almost hypnotizing himself to do this.

He opened his eyes.

The unique vision he had been born with made discerning the objects in his room as easy as seeing in daylight. The furnishings were simple, the closet slightly open. He saw the squat lamp on the nightstand take on a soft glow. He reached out his hand to uncharge it before it had the chance to brighten. The nightstand itself began to glow, then the deck of cards he'd left sitting atop it, and then the base of the lamp again.

He shut his eyes, grumbling a curse, and uncharged the objects.

Even severely depleted, his body betrayed him.

He rolled over onto his back and ground his palms against his face. He felt like a little boy again, seven years old, playing cards with Henri, trying to prove to the older boy that he would make a good addition to the family. Jean-Luc had simply brought him home, and all of Tante Mattie's reassurances that the boy was good wasn't enough to win Henri's skeptical favor.

So they played cards.

And all his skill with cards or thieving had literally blown up in his face when a hot, vibrating surge ran up his arms and into the cards in his hands. Henri and him both stared at the cards, uncertain of what was happening, and they just got hotter and hotter and brighter and brighter until all hell broke loose, and he was cradling his bleeding arm against his chest, silently moaning with the intensity of pain. He could still hear Henri and Tante Mattie's screams.

Le Diable Blanc.

The white devil.

Remy lowered his palms, slowly blowing out an uneven breath. If that wasn't an introduction to life with the Guild, he didn't know what was. He owed them everything.

Every single thing.

He cursed and fumbled for his phone. It slipped through his fingers at first, but he managed to scoop it up out of the nightstand drawer and flip it open to dial off a number by heart. He clutched it to his ear and held his breath, waiting through the rings.

One... Two... Thr--

"Âllo?" a sleepy, husky feminine voice mumbled out half incoherently.

Remy let out his breath at the sound of it. Her private cell was always sure to get her, but he hadn't wanted to call, hadn't wanted to talk, no matter how much he owed it to her.

"Chèrie?" He was talking.

"Remy?" Disbelief and surprise apparently woke her. Her voice came alive for him. "Remy, 's dat you?" She sounded glad to hear from him, happy even.

Remy's hand shook on the phone, but he rasped out an answer. "Oui, Bella. It's moi."

"Y' disappeared so fast and de T'ieves weren't talkin'. I didn't know what t' believe," she brought out breathlessly. "Y' were 'ere one day and gone de nex'. Like dat." She snapped her fingers in the receiver.

"I'm at de school," he said, cautiously. "Xavier's."

Dead silence on the other end of the line. He heard her when she finally took a shaky breath.

"'S not good den," she said softly. "Y're still having trouble."

And in his mind, the hot, naked fear. Bella Donna. The theatre. He clenched his jaw and pressed his head back into the pillow.

"Oui."

The silence that followed was heavy, not dead, but alive with hope and fear and all their anxious history. He couldn't feel her emotions over the phone line, but he knew what they were from years of listening to her words and to her silences. He knew she was frightened.

"I could come visit y'," she said hesitantly. "Pere would let moi. I know it."

"Dat'd be nice."

"I will den." Her voice strengthened and he knew she had successfully shoved away the remaining vestiges of fear into some buried corner of her mind. Her tone was bright as she went on. "Is dere anyt'in' I c'n bring y'? Smokes? Cards? Drinks?" She giggled a little on the last one. She knew he was underage and how little it mattered.

He managed a small smile, for her sake. She knew his silences as well as he ever knew hers. "Y're enough, chère."

Her breath caught, then she lilted out flirtatiously, "Always de charmer, aren' y'? D'accord. I'll just bring me."

When he finally got off the phone, he held it in his hand for a long time. Fear. Rejection.

Seemed some things never changed.

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"Jeannie?"

Scott sat up on the bed and looked toward her staked out chair, complete with medical, genetic, physics, and biology textbooks, stacks of legal pads with her penciled scribbles, her chart notes and clipboard, and the appropriate amount of caffeinated drinks to help her with her self-assigned project. Jean had curled up after classes were out and only emerged briefly to eat dinner.

"Uh-huh?" She wasn't really paying attention, but Scott's little worry thoughts nagged about the edges of her consciousness, making it impossible to completely ignore him.

He gave an exasperated sigh. "Are you coming to bed yet? It's almost 3:00 in the morning!"

Was it? Jean glanced toward the clock and hummed with amusement that he was right. She had no idea her project would be this complicated. She sighed, pushed her glasses up from where they had slid down, and began to scribble again. "No."

He fell back onto the bed with an irritated thump. She could feel his mental scowl, and it tugged the corners of her mouth into a small smile.

"You're acting juvenile, Scott."

"I am not," he protested, keeping his tone even with much deliberation. "I'm just tired and I can't sleep without you. You know that." He turned his eyes toward her, and she noted the amount of expression she could glimpse around his night visor.

She sighed. "In a minute."

"What are you working on anyway?" Curiosity had finally won out over the exasperation, but she had no intention of answering him.

"In a minute," she repeated.

Scott sighed but didn't ask any more questions, just tried his hardest to drift off to sleep without her. Jean finally set aside her work fifteen minutes later and climbed in beside him. His arms wrapped tightly around her and they both went soundly to sleep.

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Rogue approached the medical bay with some trepidation later in the morning. She peeked in, wondering which doctor would be puttering around. It was Hank McCoy, also known as Beast.

He was on the tall side, with thick, blue fur covering his large frame, wearing slacks and a nice shirt under his lab coat. He wore glasses and a thougtful expression on his otherwise hardly human face, and his ears and teeth resembled a cat's.

"Dr. McCoy," she called out softly.

He looked up from his notes and his coffee and smiled broadly at her. "Rogue! How may I help you on this delightful morning?"

She shook her head at his long words and stepped inside the door. She dropped her backpack and books off on the chair that sat near it, probably left there by Scott when he "observed."

"Well, actually..." And suddenly, she was standing there, simply staring at him. She couldn't ask him, she realized. Remy and her weren't supposed to be anywhere near the Danger Room after midnight without supervision and... She blanched. "Is Jean goin' to be in?"

Hank's bushy eyebrows pushed upward in his furry face. "Later, yes. May I inquire as to why you wish to know this?"

"Um...Ah just need to ask her about some...girl stuff. Hormones actin' up," she rattled out quickly. "Ah think it might be related to my powers, ya know?" She managed an earnest expression for his benefit, and she suppressed a sigh of relief when he seemed to fall for it.

"Having second thoughts about telling a man?" he teased, then sobered. "But I am a doctor, Rogue, and you can come to me if you ever need to about anything. I hope you realize that."

"Ah do. Ah do." And she gathered up her scattered books and composure and high-tailed it out the door. She slammed her back into the wall once she was safely out of view, cheeks burning beneath her skin. Now what?

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"You're late." Remy cocked his head in the direction of Rogue's emotional signature. It was alive with embarrassment and worry and a wash of other lesser emotions. He drank it in, carefully teasing it for a little understanding, but her reticence seemed to spill over into her readability.

"Uh...yeah." She settled into her seat next to him at the dining room table and clanked her breakfast plate onto the cloth. "Just had something to do." Her tone was sharp and brooked no argument.

Interest sparked throughout their little group, and Remy smirked, knowing they wouldn't let it lie.

"Uh-huh. Sure," Jubilee fired at her.

"Ah'm fahne," Rogue flung back. "Just had to do something." Her arm moved and fork scraped on plate.

Piotr changed the subject. Remy narrowed his eyes, attempting to decipher Piotr's thick Russian accent. Something about the teachers having a meeting yesterday.

"I hear they were discussing some sort of threat," John added.

Mixed emotions threaded out from the occupants of the table. Concern. Excitement. Skepticism. Boredom. Worry. Remy tuned in at the words, interested enough to add his own emotion. Anticipation.

"Yeah right," Kitty flipped back, apparently the skeptic. "Probably just the threat of bad grades."

"Well, they have another meeting scheduled today," Jubilee said slyly. "We could always..." She allowed her voice to trail off. Everyone knew what she meant.

Remy grinned. "I t'ink dat's a good idea, petite."

A tiny spike of excitement rode in from Jubilee, and a distinct well of dismay countered from other quarters.

Bobby groaned, and his own fork clattered to the plate. "We'll get in trouble," he protested.

"It's a challenge, ami." Remy clapped one arm around Bobby's stiff shoulders. "Ain't nobody know how I like a challenge."

Kitty and Jubilee giggled. The girls were all moving, tiny actions he couldn't really discern. John snickered and clicked his lighter shut. Piotr seemed to shake his head.

Rogue was silent for a moment before saying, "Is that raght, sugah?"

Remy heard something he didn't like in her tone, and he took a minute to decipher what it was. He reached out with his empathy and combed through her feelings while fixing his unseeing eyes in her direction. She shifted in some manner. He studied her.

"Like a lot o' ot'er t'ings too, chère," he said, offering a wolfish grin.

She humphed and tightened in on herself a bit.

"So is it settled?" Kitty demanded. "We're going to?"

Piotr leaned forward, his heavy form surging onto Remy's radar, and began to speak. "I'm not so sure this is—"

"It'll be great," John said, cutting him over. His lighter flicked open.

Jubilee reached over and clapped it shut. Remy felt the flickering interplay of emotions between them, like little bits of lightning. He pretended he didn't.

"Oui." He rubbed his hands together in front of him. "It be settled."

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Rogue dumped the group somewhere in the broad, meandering school hallways and waited in an unexposed corner for her friend to pass. She saw a bit of brown, a petite girl with a backpack, and pounced.

"Wh—"

Kitty got a gloved hand clapped sharply over her mouth, and Rogue's narrowed gaze directly in her face.

"Shush, sugah. Ah gotta ask ya a question." Rogue reshouldered her own backpack better and released Kitty to stand beside her.

Kitty made a good show of brushing herself off. "Goodness, Rogue! You could just ask, instead of—"

"Yeah, yeah." Rogue cut her off. "What could go haywire with mah hormones 'cause of mah powers?"

Kitty's face snapped up from where she was brushing off invisible specks of dust. "What?"

"Hormones. Powers." Rogue bounced a little impatiently. "Ah have to make somethin' up." She sent her friend a pleading look.

Kitty groaned. "Oh no. You are not getting me involved in whatever cover story for whatever serious trouble you got cooked up around yourself."

"It's not that."

"Uh-huh. Sure." Kitty gave her a knowing look.

Rogue tossed her an exasperated sigh and crossed her arms, pausing to blow a strand of fallen white hair out of her eyes. "Ah was goin' to ask Hank a question about mah powers, but it maght get Remy in trouble."

Kitty's eyebrows shot up to her hairline. "Whoa," she whispered furiously. "How'd you get dirt on him?"

"It's not dirt, per se," Rogue whispered back, leaning in close. "We were in the Danger Room, and Ah don't think he's s'posed to be in there."

Kitty's eyes widened, then danced with positive glee, but she kept her excited squeal at their low volume. "The Danger Room! You and Remy? What happened? Details, chica."

"Later." Rogue rolled her eyes. "Raght now, Ah need a cover and fast. Ah told him mah powers were messin' with mah hormones, and Ah have no idea if they even can."

"You have nightmares again?" Kitty asked, matter-of-fact.

Rogue hesitated, staring at Kitty. "You know about those," she said softly.

Kitty's eyes darkened and flitted away. "Yeah." Her shoulders drooped and Rogue realized Kitty didn't know she'd kept it a secret.

"Yeah." Rogue straightened. "Mostly Logan's."

Kitty frowned and nodded. "Well, with that much testosterone going all the time, you at least oughta get it checked out. How long since your last Auntie visit?"

"Kitty!"

"Well. Hormones." Kitty stared at her blandly.

Rogue suddenly froze, noticing a long, lean figure leaning against the wall just within hearing range for a Logan-type person. And if there was one thing she'd gathered from the boy with scruffy auburn hair hanging into his eyes and his thick Cajun accent and dark blindfold, it was that he either had tremendously good hearing or some other sense to help him out where he couldn't see.

"Uh...Thanks, Kit." She looped her arm through Kitty's. "Let's go."

Kitty glanced around subtly, then nodded when she found the source of discomfort. The two girls walked on down the hallway together, quietly chatting about anything but anything important.

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Remy knew he had to be getting to his next class. He knew it like he knew that four people had just walked by at varying paces, two of them together. He knew it like he knew the lines of heat tracing over the wall behind him were active electrical currents and like he knew that the vase standing beside him was genuine Ming dynasty. He knew it, but the restlessness inside him was already building and he couldn't keep still or go out for a smoke, which he desperately needed, and to shuffle his cards was to invite the charge to start blowing things up indiscriminately.

So he took a few long moments against a wall to try and calm himself and his body, leaning his head back against the hard wood panelling of the school hallway.

Normal.

This was considered normal.

His body had turned on him, betrayed him and his long-sought, hard-earned control, and this was normal. Remy's powers had long been ineffective on anything living and he could now charge a flower, a leaf of grass, hypothetically a person, and this was normal. He couldn't see, couldn't try to, without fear of putting every single person around him in danger of sudden and explosive death, and this was normal. Even thinking about the problem, like he was doing now, was likely to leave him agitated and with excess charge boiling upward under his skin, and this was normal.

He launched off the wall and into the slow, but steady stream of other teenagers.

At least, it wasn't still trying to eat him alive.

Catcalls of "le diable blanc," "fils du diable," "spawn of Satan" half-remembered, half-imagined floated through his mind. Remy had never been normal.

A little hope, he thought as he entered his first class of the day. Was that so much to ask for?
 


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