The Mind

She wasn't prepared. When she finally emerges from the bathroom, he reaches for her, comforting touch at her shoulder.

She flinches away from him.

His hands fall to his sides.

Storm clouds brew in his dark red eyes. How long has it been since she ever recoiled from him?

She turns away and pulls on her clothes. She doesn't to think about it, to see the way she hurts him. But her body feels foreign to her as she slides into the fitted leather, heavy with the weight of the two consciousnesses inhabiting it. How can she let him touch her?

She can glimpse the red in her dresser mirror when she runs her brush through snarled hair. He is not reaching across the bridge of space that has grown between them with those half-clenched hands.

"I'm supposed to go see Hank," she says. She fixes her eyes on the hair, the brush, her fingers as she pulls it back.

His voice is his voice, not the frustrated growl it has become, when he answers, "I'll come with you."

She meets his gaze openly then, and he flinches back, as if knowing.

But he cannot know.

"He said I should come alone."

His jaw tightens, but he does not speak or ask the questions settling between their unreaching hands. The storm clouds rage in a dark red sea, but she studies his hands as he reaches for the handle of the door and walks away.

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"Hank." She gives the other a mere nod of acknowledgment before gliding sinuously into the medical bay and settling herself on one of the beds, one leg crossed over the other.

This is not the Rogue he knows, and he frowns within his blue, furred face. The newcomer knows no better and casts his smile toward her to be met with a stony glare.

"What are we doing?" she asks, deliberately excluding the unknown from her question.

"We are taking a foray into your mental landscape," Hank says. "Due to the absence of any qualified telepath at our school and due to the delicate nature of the undertaking, we have determined that intermittent periods of suppression of your newly acquired capabilities may be in order." He hazards a glance at the unknown.

She raises an eyebrow. "Meaning?"

"It's not that precise, Hank," he mutters.

But Hank is already waving aside both of their words. "Let us measure your tensile strength, shall we? I must request that you entirely focus on the new psyche within your consciousness."

She bristles, but submits, closing her eyes and turning inward.

Her mind opens up. She moves through it quickly, not looking at all the small mindscapes of the other residents that make up the greater picture of her own. Finally, she reaches the very back and the golden-haired woman by the river.

Carol jumps up.

I'll give you whatever you want. Her voice is frantic, blue eyes pleading, hands reaching out. Just let me fly. Let me out. I'll... Her eyes search about in the mind around them. I'll find a way to keep him safe.

It is the wrong thing to say. The reply is snarled. You can't. And the words are a wound. If she can't, neither can this intruder in her mind.

I'll give you anything, if you'll just let me out.

You can't give! You can only take.

Skin brushes against hers, and she recoils, eyes flung open in shock. Her hands have plastered against her head to stop the pain. But touch...

She screams.

"It's all right," this newcomer says. "I've turned off your power. I can touch you."

She gapes at him in horror.

He's turned off her power.

He can touch you, a voice whispers equal horror.

He can touch me, her own confirms.


Horror coils into hatred. Her jaw clamps shut into an angry line. She reaches for her gloves and jerks them on.

He can touch her and Remy can't.

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Something is wrong.

He doesn't even see le Bête or the other person in the room when he bursts through the door, only the flash of white and mahogany, her head turning toward him, emerald eyes, hard as jewels, in fragile, porcelain skin.

He stops at those eyes, uncertain. "I heard you scream." He sees le Bête then, frowning in his furry face.

But her eyes soften for the first time in so many days, and she slides off the bed and comes toward him, arms open to take him in.

He relishes the feel of her against him, but she's strong. Too strong. The words are right, but the accent is wrong.

"It's all right, sugar," she murmurs in his ear. "I'm all right."

Something is wrong.