Whispers

 
 

Guilded Study

Scott Summers opened the front door of the mansion to the smell of cigar smoke and the face of a man he would just as happily never see again. He tightened his jaw and looked over Logan's shoulder at the haphazardly parked bike. His bike.

"Glad to see it back in one piece," Scott ground out tightly.

Logan grunted with what could pass as an almost shrug. He blew out some smoke. "Where's the kid?"

Scott had to bite in his irritation at the rudeness. "You mean Rogue?" he asked, pointedly using her name.

Logan just looked at him.

Maybe he was being a bit petty. Logan was an easy target for all the pent up worry and frustration he felt over Jean shutting him out from their mental link as who knows what happened in the cleared out classroom. Scott took a breath and tried again.

"She's in the media room." He had barely got the words out before he was shoved past and the man known as Wolverine was once again stalking the halls of the mansion.

"Great," Scott muttered. "Just great."

He shut the door.

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Feelings, brushing against the edges of his senses. Such a jumble of heat and confusion and things he wanted to understand and things he didn't. It took everything he had not to shatter his control.

Remy stood slowly, took several calming breaths, trying desperately not to show to the doctor just how badly rattled he really was.

He couldn't feel—not in the typical sense. Everything was heat and potential and just how easily he could begin to charge things. The restless need to see he had harbored from the first time he had to wear the blindfold threatened to burgeon into quite another vision, one he had been warned of in prophecies and wanted no part of.

"We should get you to the Danger Room." The doctor's voice was soothing and calm.

He pointed his head in her direction, feeling with startling intensity the unique pattern of heat and emotion that was her and only her, a bright flare of potential.

"Don' t'ink I c'n make it on m' own," he admitted softly. His fingers dug harder into the pockets of his coat. He could just finger the edge of a card and, with a welling of relief, caught it to make it glow before reabsorbing the charge again.

Jean's sympathy washed over him and he almost jerked away, but he didn't. He let her take one hand to guide him and make the air shimmer around him with a will to contain.

Remy took a deep breath and gave a curt nod to indicate he was ready to go.

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I would like to speak with him, the Professor's mind brushed gently against Jean's.

For once in her life, she brushed him off curtly and threw up a mental wall for good measure, just to show him the severity of how bad that idea was. She was currently walking their new charge down the hallway to the elevator. He let her hand on his back guide him and she could feel the undercurrent of his tightly reined control.

Remy was a walking timebomb and just about anything could set him off.

"Here we go." Jean stepped into the elevator and pressed the button for the underground level. She tossed out a telepathic thought, knowing the Professor would catch it. He's highly sensitive to telepathic contact. Even if you couldn't sense him, he would feel you.

And that's a bad idea?

She snorted aloud, drawing Remy's attention. "Nothing," she said to him. Understatement, she thought.

The Professor retreated, but not before she could feel his consideration and concern over the new information. While it was already fairly common knowledge that the young mutant played his cards close to his chest, Jean had yet to share with anyone just how vehemently he disliked telepaths. Or at least their powers.

The elevator chimed.

"Come on."

She kept her hand lightly against his shoulder, but he had already relaxed, shoulders loosening visibly beneath his trench coat.

"Remy?"

"Not so many people," he replied cryptically.

Jean stopped cold. "Crowds are a problem?" Her eyebrows shot up. She had never even considered anything about people.

Remy just shrugged. "More movin' targets."

She frowned but resumed moving toward the medical bay. She had far too many blindspots with regards to his mutation and today had just proven that. She thought she had it figured out and then something else interacted in unexpected ways.

"Aren' we headed for de Danger Room?" he asked suddenly.

Jean glanced at him sharply. "And how do you know where we're at?" She positioned him in front of a medical bed. "Sit."

"Remember the way, chère," he replied with exaggerated patience. "We're in de med bay." And he swung himself up onto the bed.

"Strip," she stated bluntly, then at his amused leer, added, "Just the top. I need to hook you up to some sensors before I throw you in there."

"Didn' know y' like it rough." But he shedded his coat and shirt.

She merely snorted. She had begun to think the flirting was just his way of blowing off steam in some way that wouldn't end in mass destruction. It relieved some feelings before his body forced them out in other, more dangerous ways. But she didn't share the theory. He'd likely let her believe it whether or not it was true.

Xavier's mind brushed gently against her shields, requesting admittance.

She granted it.

We'll put off our meeting until tomorrow, he said. It seems best that we wait.

She didn't pause in her work on Remy, hooking up several small devices to measure the rate of kinetic energy running through his body, the ebb and flow of critical hormones and neurotransmitters, and the level of exertion he put out. I can be there tonight. She glanced up at Remy's impassive face. Or early tomorrow morning. "We should start meeting daily. Make sure this doesn't happen again."

Very well. I will contact you with the details. The Professor withdrew again.

A short, sharp nod from her patient. "Y' trust him plenty."

Her fingers paused, briefly. He'd sensed the exchange. She turned to scribble on her clipboard. "He was able to help me with my powers because of his." She jotted down his resting numbers.

Remy cocked his head curiously. "How bad were dey?"

"Pretty bad." She waved for him to go with her before remembering he was blindfolded, but he was already up and following her. "Just how much do you feel things move?"

Surprise flickered across his features. He yanked on his t-shirt as they went. He shrugged. "Plenty."

"Specifics, Remy." They were getting to be more comfortable with each other, and he didn't seem bothered by the nagging.

But still he shrugged. "Don't know what it's like wit'out it."

Jean stopped cold again. He stopped just before bumping into her, then waited with exaggerated patience while she did some mental calculations and started adding things up in her head and then felt all the blood drain from her face.

She took a shaky breath. "You've had this since birth?"

He paused. He hadn't discussed times, hadn't mentioned anything that would make her do this kind of adding and putting two and two together, most likely because he really didn't want her to make four.

But she had.

Finally, he nodded, once.

"I see." She kept moving. "I'm going to have Hank join me in observation. He's another doctor and I'd like to consult." She glanced back. "He won't tell the Professor."

Warily, Remy followed behind but did not answer.

"You know how you blow things up?" Jean said suddenly. She stopped in front of their destination. She glanced back again.

He nodded.

"Imagine tearing them apart and that was me." She punched in her access key for the Danger Room. "Disintegrating on the subatomic level just by thinking about it."

Remy whistled low.

Jean glanced back with some chagrin. "Don't remind me." The door opened. "In you go."

She followed him and called up a progam, one of the more intense ones. It was a favorite of hers when she was younger and had tried to master her powers without resorting to ultimate measures.

Remy untied the blindfold she had gotten him but kept his eyes shut. She wasn't sure yet why he preferred it. He handed it to her, took off his coat, and gave her that too.

"What'd he do?" he asked, voice soft.

She paused. She supposed he deserved to know, even if it only made her doubt their arrangement one more time. "The Professor," Jean began slowly, "helped me by shielding off the part of my powers I couldn't control. Since mine are so integrated at the mental level, it wasn't too hard. The idea is to let me grow into them more slowly."

Remy tilted his head toward her. "How's dat workin'?"

Jean shrugged. "Your powers are physically based. It wouldn't work for you."

He didn't comment on her own evasion as she left.

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Rogue shoved her way carefully out of her milling group of peers and crouched in the corner of the media room. She pressed her back up against the wall, closed her eyes, and tried to drown out her misery with thoughts of...

She was coming up blank.

"Rogue?" Kitty said softly by her ear, startling Rogue.

Her eyes flew open to see her friend crouched beside her, chocolate brown eyes wide with concern, hands loosely resting on her knees.

"Ah'm fahne," Rogue said tightly.

Kitty snorted. "Sure, chica. Just keep telling yourself that." The edge in her voice was as surprising as her initial sudden appearance.

Rogue looked away, tucking back some loose hair. She didn't know what to say.

Kitty sighed. "Talk to me, girl. You're not fooling anyone."

"Ah'm not trahin' ta," Rogue snapped back, whipping around to glare at her.

An eyebrow came up and that whole nonchalant, yeah-sure look that only Kitty could pull off so well greeted her.

"Ah'm not."

"Tell me about the Danger Room."

Rogue shook her head and dropped her knees to the ground. "Kitty, Ah am not gettin' him in trouble," she began, but Kitty clapped her—thankfully gloved—hand over her mouth and stopped her from continuing.

"This is me," she hissed. "This isn't going anywhere but between the two of us, but I'm just so sick of you shutting me out—Ow!" Her hand jerked away.

Rogue dropped her shoulders in defeat. "Fahne."

Kitty was still analyzing her hand for marks. "That's just wrong. I wear gloves so you can have some normal contact, and what do you do? You put your teeth in me!"

Rogue chuckled despite their odd circumstances, fighting in whispers in a dark corner with their entire class just a few feet away. She drew up a haughty air for her next line. "Serves ya raght, sugah."

"Sure." But Kitty grinned back. "So...Talk. Remy."

So Rogue told her. It came out in halting, uncertain phrases in between long pauses and hard swallows. She tried not to look at how Kitty's brown eyes widened when she said that Remy had touched her--touched her—without any absorption occurring.

"Oh my—You can't be serious!" Kitty collapsed onto her bum on the floor. "Honest?"

"Close your mouth, sugah," Rogue said. "Ya're goin' ta catch flahs in it."

Kitty closed her mouth, then cast a wicked glare at her friend before opening it again to speak. She never had a chance.

Rogue jumped up and shoved her way through the kids in her path. "Logan!"

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Working out in the Danger Room was much like fighting on his own, only he couldn't be too clear or too incriminating with his Guild training. Jean was watching. And she wasn't the only one.

Remy let his body burn with the effort. Unleashing all his senses and playing without the blindfold was sheer idiocy perhaps, but it was invigorating. A world of missiles and targets, marks and rubble made up his very realistic surroundings. Everywhere he looked, he could see the explosions of pink light. He felt the swarming attackers, using straight-up agility and combat skills to deal with them. He charged buildings with a touch, watched them burn, watched them explode.

The release was killing him. If this was real...

But it wasn't. It wasn't. And he locked away the memories of New Orleans and poured all his energy into fighting right here, right now, where nothing was more than gilded illusion in a dangerous game in a dangerous room.

Above it all, his empathy brushed into the flaring heat of two people in the Control Room. Deliberately, he turned away.

Jean studied the young mutant with severe interest. She had settled herself in her favorite office chair that leaned back when she did, propped her feet up on the edge of the settings panel, and crossed her legs. In her lap, she held a clipboard and scribbled on it at regular intervals as she watched Remy and occasionally glanced at the stats coming in from his monitors.

"Quite fascinating," Hank said, nodding in agreement with her assessment. "Astonishing reflexes," he added when Remy dodged and twisted out of the way of a robot behind him.

"And flexibility," she quipped back, then shook her head ruefully. The kid was rubbing off on her.

Hank missed the reference though and merely loomed his face in close on the stats reading across her monitor. "His body is generating a sizable amount of energy."

Jean hummed her agreement and kept scribbling. Casually, she leaned over and flicked up the level a notch.

Remy grimaced below and picked up his pace. Cards whizzed by in a blur of color. Magenta light. Explosions.

"How can he keep it up?"

"How can't he?" Jean returned. "His energy levels still aren't decreasing and sooner or later his mental acuity has got to give. I'm not trying to kill him."

Of course, the safety protocols were on, but the truth was he was putting out far more physical exertion and not enough kinetic, despite the constant flashes of light and sound. Jean sighed, shaking her head, and frowned at the stats.

"Not bad though," she mused. It was helping. If incrementally.

Hank shook his furry head. "I have never seen a mutant with so many unique powers."

Jean frowned at that, flipped her pencil over, and tapped the eraser against the clipboard.

Hank raised bushy brows. "And what are you speculating upon, my esteemed colleague?"

Jean chuckled. "Nothing much." She turned the pencil back over but she didn't write anything. Finally, she set it down. "I don't think he does."

"Now I truly must hear the expounding of your considerations," Hank insisted. "I fail to see how his powers are related."

She snorted. He also hadn't been up until three o'clock in the morning, keeping the significant other awake and reading up on emotions, genetics, and potential and kinetic energy. And heat. That thought gave her the words to go on.

She picked up her pencil again and started scratching down notes as she spoke. "Remy's powers are all highly integrated, each one capable of setting off another or interfering with them." She watched as the teenager flew over a rain of lasers and each robot in his line of vision lit with a magenta glow. "He experiences the world rather differently from us. Everything—" she paused and looked at Hank—"and I mean everything—expresses some level of potential energy. Emotions, thoughts, physical objects, motion of any kind, all of it registers to him as a degree of potential energy that can be increased and/or converted into kinetic energy."

Hank frowned thoughtfully. "Emotional energy is not physical."

"That's what I thought until he explained it to me." Jean glanced sharply at a spike on the sensors.

As he began to wear out physically, Remy seemed to be moving toward blowing up more things on sight. He nearly got blindsided from behind and dove out of the way at the last second. The Danger Room was adapting to him rather quickly.

"Hm." She frowned but she supposed she would have to be satisfied with Remy's ability to cope.

"And the den mother strikes again," Hank said lightly.

"Very funny." Jean sighed deeply and returned to their topic. "Well, apparently both emotional and mental activity generate heat. He can intensify emotions by encouraging the potential energy, but he claims mental activity is far too complex for him to be able to read or manipulate. Even manipulating emotions on any finer scale is difficult. More importantly, I believe it's the way he controls his own powers."

"Through this emotional manipulation?"

"The only place he can actually reduce the potential or kinetic energy is in his own cells." She stared grimly down at Remy. "He can take it into himself and there disperse it, though clearly he's generating more than he's dispersing."

Both of them fell quiet together.

"What about that?" Hank asked, indicating yet another projectile Remy barely missed that was clearly outside of his line of vision.

"He feels the energy before it gets to him." Jean scribbled down another note. "Acceleration, velocity, motion, density, size, sometimes shape. In order to modify potential energy, first he has to be able to identify it."

"Indubitably," Hank agreed, but the tone was absent. He turned thoughtful and brooding.

She couldn't help but wonder if his superior knowledge of physics was coming into play.

Finally, he lifted his blue head and shook it lightly as if to clear it. "Potential energy is quite a daunting proposition. There are so many things it can...affect." He pushed his glasses a little higher on his face and studied the battle before them. "Our intrepid young mutant seems to be flagging."

"I suppose I should let him out." Jean flashed a small smile and ended the sim.

Remy glanced up sharply, a startled expression in his eyes. A last fading projection burned brightly, and he turned away quickly.

Jean caught her breath. His eyes...

But she wasn't entirely certain of what she had seen.

She turned slowly to Hank. "Let's go down."

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Remy stripped off his sweat-soaked t-shirt. He was rapidly running out of usable clothing if he didn't get help with laundry soon. He didn't even bother to look up when the doors into the Danger Room opened and two figures approached. One was decidedly taller and denser than the doctor.

"Here," she said softly, pressing a soft cloth into his hand.

Recognizing the blindfold, he wrapped it around his eyes and tied it at the back. Weariness settled slowly into his body and he took the towel she offered without the practiced ease he was so known for back home. His senses were sharp, too sharp, but the reflexes were going and the ability to coordinate his movements with the constant swarm of information pouring into his brain was going with them.

"How'd I do?" he asked, accent thicker than usual.

"I believe you have dispatched any contenders with today's scores," came a cheerful masculine voice.

"Remy, this is Hank." Jean's head moved. "Hank, Remy."

"It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."

"Oui." Not the most polite of responses, but all Remy wanted to do was find a spot to drop in and pass out for about twelve hours. Too bad this itching under his skin would likely wake him far sooner than that.

Jean's emotions spiked critically. He waited out her pause.

"I think you should take the afternoon off," she finally said. "I'll see you in the morning, first thing."

"F'r class?"

"In the medical bay." Her tone was firm and brooked no argument.

He winced.

"Remy..."

"D'accor', d'accor'. I'll be dere." He scowled but skidded around both of them and out of the room before she could say more.

The doctor's dismay and Hank's curiosity followed hard behind him.
 


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