Whispers

 
 

Title

Being inside the same four walls, no matter how well furnished and provided for, was ultimately confining, and Logan had been known to become restless over less.

Logan finds Remy in the Danger Room and corrals him in, hollers mentally for Jean, who is horrified that Remy has been spending unsupervised time in the Danger Room

...

 
 
Overhear the plans for getting the Jewel, he talks ice and shadow into going themselves and steals the jet

Breaking in to get the Jewel, picking up a uniform, through the ducts, laser array, into the elevator, ice leads shadow, around the corner, he silences them, works way into room, mind girls come in, know room is compromised, blonde goes to warn boss, glasses stays to fight, he warns shadow not to come out for any reason and to use the mental blocks he's taught her, tells ice to stay in and not come out for any reason, sends her for the jewel, comes out and fights with glasses, wins, shadow finds the jewel to her shock, a girl, grabs, the shadows get stronger, wishes she had some help, no one to tell her what to do, she phases out and catches him and ice and they're going through the building falling, alarms everywhere, she hands the girl to him, he feels what is happening and tells ice to take her, in ice and can't get out, as they're running away, he removes the blindfold and fights hard, things blow up all around as they run to the jet, shadow gets it going and he has to leap on at the last second and close his eyes, he gets tossed around and ice is trying to get him the blindfold, finally managing to get it on, whispered hoarse merci, he shoves shadow out of the driver's seat with all the tossing and missiles nearly hitting them and successfully flies them until they've cleared the cover (by destroying most of it) and then returns control to shadow, rubs the top of girl's head and sits down for journey home

Visit with his girl and touches her, wishes to see her, she is afraid of him, he handles it quietly and well, taking just one last kiss, comes into his room, rough and angry, his new friend are you okay, non, holds her fiercely roughly, harsh ragged breath, finally orders her to leave when he wants to forget and knowing what he's inclined to do

Taken to medlab for an evaluation of gift
brain highly active
heat/static

Training session first one
still blindfolded
noticed by the others
kinesthetic sense
blindfold comes loose

Back to the medlab
recap of session

With Bella
afraid of him, for him
would have to train another assassin
touches her face, tears
wishes he could see her
one last kiss to remember

Extra training
broke into the room
running high level program
bo staff and cards
Logan and Jean stop him
working off da charge
Logan doesn't trust him

This is going to be a huge Author's Note. I know. But with all these little questions about mutation, I thought I'd give you a taste of the comicverse. I won't bother with sources, just verified details. Okay?

Remy's powers without the brain stem include:

CHARM - Hypnotic charm allows him to exert subtle influence over sentient minds, compelling them to believe what he says and agree with his suggestions. It has been stated that the charm is NOT empathy, however IS a low level hypnotic telepathy that works with eye contact. He does not have complete control over it (he thought it worked once when it didn't). He does not use it many times when it would be convenient to. [MY THEORIES include that part, but only part, of the control is tied in with the part of his brain that was removed. Especially since he HAD that part back when he charmed his way around Bogan while supposedly depowered. I also think certain parts of his powers interfere with other parts, but it's hard to say exactly, since he stated bluntly that he avoided certain parts of his powers that New Sun did not.]

CHARGE - Remy's body actually creates what is called biokinetic charge. (This is not a real word.) When he touches any inorganic material, he can transfer the charge into the object, thus making it highly volatile and explosive generally upon impact. The objects that he charges explode with a force somewhat proportional to the size of the object. Gambit has the ability to charge living as well as non living matter. The charge also energizes him, granting him extra strength, stamina, and agility.

SENSES - The whole kinesthetic sense thing may just be fanfiction legend, but it only makes sense with what we've seen. And the fact that he can unleash potential energy with sight alone when fully powered, leaves me to believe he can sense what energy is in there.

MENTAL SHIELDS - He is known to have a mind invisible and/or shielded to telepaths. His mental walls are generally impenetrable. This may be due to something tied into the charm (he might even be telepathic himself) or it might be because the charge's energy field operates this way. [MY THEORIES include both. I think the charge would create impenetrable shields, but I don't think they'd make him invisible. I think you've all seen already how I think that would sound. I've decided in this story at least, that his mental walls are tied to both the charm and the charge.]

PRECOGNITION - (Manifested only when he was blind or as the Witness), he can remember all potential futures.

FULLY POWERED - The ability to charge anything in his line of sight by thought, manipulate the potency of the bio-kinetic energy to cause various effects such as burning, molecular discomfort, or incineration, and utilize the advanced levels of bio-energy active when he uses his powers to augment his strength, agility, endurance, and reflexes, for short periods, or to stimulate his cellular activity to heal himself. The ability to merge into the timestream by transforming into his living energy form.
 
 

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.
 
 

Guilded Charge

Jean caught the signs of it first. A flexing of the fingers. The agitated grinding of his teeth.

She was in the middle of explaining a complex grammar concept that had apparently stumped half of the class, judging from their grades on Monday's assignment, when she stopped herself in the middle of a word. Her telekinetic awareness had been growing for some time, and she could actually feel the shifting of the molecules in the air around him as they slipped out of her potential control and lit with a building energy.

"Remy?" she asked suddenly.

Some of the students diverted their focus from her to Remy, but she ignored them and whatever attention she was attracting. Something was wrong.

He turned toward her slightly, frowning beneath the blindfold. His foot was tapping, one hand twitching away from the desk. He started to speak, then stopped. She couldn't hear his thoughts or feel his emotions. They were clamped down tightly beneath an almost unbearably loud crackling of his mental shields.

"Remy?" she tried again, even as she readied herself to intervene. "Do you need to go outside for a minute?"

Remy's jaw clenched. One hand brushed the school desk.

She never did get to find out what his answer would have been.

Instantly, a wave of bright pink charge pulsed through the desk, whining, and Remy shoved away, cursing loudly in French and gesturing the students away. He dropped to the ground. She barely had time to put up a telekinetic shield.

The desk exploded.

Splinters of wood flew into the invisible walls Jean had set up around it. Burning flowers of metal rained down on Remy. She tried to shield him too. He lay curled up on the floor, arms protectively over his head.

That's when she noticed his clothes.

"God..."

They were glowing.

"Everybody out!" she yelled, throwing calmness and caution to the wind. "Out of the room! Now!"

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Motion, motion everywhere. Heat surrounded him in the molecules, the arms, the legs, the shouts and tumult. He desperately tried to regain control, but it slipped just beyond his grasping reach. His head began to pound with the blood, the charge, the sheer energy running through him, and the theatre slammed back into his mind with all its horrifying detail.

Can't touch. Don't touch, he told himself desperately.

His mind didn't need to touch.

He could feel the bodies in their tussling, haphazard rush out of the classroom, the desks, the debris, the form of the doctor coming toward him. Molecules seething, hissing around him. Size, density, shape. The information was a nightmare of blazing reality in his mind. All of it just waiting to be unleashed.

It begged to him, cried to him, pounded in his blood to let it out. And theatres burned and Bella Donna's eyes were full of fear.

Non!

He reeled inwardly. This couldn't be happening. It couldn't. He'd worked it off this morning. He'd had it under control.

He found he could barely breathe as his senses wrapped around the room in tendrils, finding every potential, feeding to him the possibilities. If he would just let go...

"Non," he whispered aloud, forcing himself to say the word, to hear it, to obey it.

He wasn't there in New Orleans. Bella wasn't here. He was at Xavier's, the school, in the classroom. Non. He would not, could not, nudge, push those burning molecules into the fullness of their potential. Non, he chanted to himself. Non.

The burn, the buzz, the endless possibilities just stretched out more in front of him.

Don't touch. Can't touch. Don't open your eyes.

He tried to hold it in and the ache in his head and behind his eyes grew worse.

He didn't notice the energy slipping out from him, the intensity of the charge growing in his surroundings, his body, his clothes, the floor beneath him, everywhere around filling with the potential to explode.

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Professor Xavier was surprised in the morning by a light knocking on his door. He reached out and identified the waiting caller as Ororo. "Come in."

The mistress of weather came in slowly, a slight frown troubling her brow, her traditional dress flowing gently around her. Always regal and graceful, she glided rather than walked and took a seat in front of his desk.

"Professor," she began, then fell silent for a moment. "I wish to speak with you about something."

"That is what I'm here for," he replied mildly. Among other duties, such as leading the X-Men, heading up an accredited school that offered elementary, high school, and college courses, and working for political and societal acceptance of mutants, providing guidance and counsel to those in his charge was a regular part of his life. "What's on your mind?"

A small smile tugged at the corners of Ororo's mouth. "Can't you read my mind?" she teased him lightly.

He smiled back, sharing in the joke. Xavier was the world's leading telepath, but he would never invade the minds of his students without their permission.

She frowned then, a delicate gesture, not quite strong enough to indicate true trouble. "I knew Remy once," she said.

Xavier had to lean back and reassess this woman in front of him.

"His father mostly," she continued, almost hesitantly. Then she sighed and settled in to tell him. "Jean-Luc and I were friends and I saw Remy when he was just a small boy and Jean-Luc had just adopted him. Professor... He isn't blind."

The words were startling and somewhat disconcerting, even if the Professor had had his suspicions of just that. He steepled his fingers together in front of him and considered her words.

But Ororo was not finished. "His eyes, from birth, weren't normal." She took a deep breath. "They called him diable blanc, white devil. People in the know were aware of him from before his adoption because of his eyes and because he was a thief."

"This friend of yours is from your thieving days?" the Professor asked. He had met Ororo when, as a young teenager, she had picked his pocket, not knowing he was a telepath.

He wasn't really prepared to see her nod. "Jean-Luc was a thief when I was. I have never questioned his choice of professions," she said, a slight challenge to her voice, allowing that she knew much more but that he had no business either asking it of her or condemning it.

"I see." Xavier turned away, looking briefly out the window at the clean, neat lawns of the mansion grounds. "Perhaps the blindfold is to hide these eyes, if they are unique as you say."

"No." She shook her head decidedly. Her voice was firm. "He wore sunglasses for that."

Xavier's frown grew deeper.

"I'm just worried, Professor," Ororo admitted. "I nearly hurt him on the roof, going after him. If he really is out of control, then he'll be extremely dangerous. He was a mutant from birth. I cannot imagine the amount of power he will grow into. And a thief raised on the streets does not trust easily. I don't..." She furrowed her brow in thought, searching for words. "I don't want to push him away, but I feel a need to reach out to him. He is the son of my dearest friend."

Xavier nodded, the real reason for Ororo's visit now clear.

"All I can advise you," he said gently, "is to be a friend. Do not push, but make yourself available if he ever needs someone. Perhaps, tell him your history with his father. The more open you are with him, the more he will be able to trust you."

Ororo looked thoughtful, considering what he was saying.

At that moment, a sharp, almost painful telepath cry shafted through his mind, and he jerked his head as if to dislodge it.

Jean's psychic voice called out, Professor! I need your help.

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Ororo flew down the corridors of the school and broke through a milling gaggle of worried students in the hallway directly outside of the classroom. Pinched faces, furrowed brows, at least one, Piotr, praying softly under his breath.

She opened the classroom door.

"Bright Goddess!"

His skin was livid with bright pink charge, occasionally brightening in patches into a brilliant white blue hue, like a dance of lightning. His clothes glowed. His hands glowed. The patch of floor beneath him burned with radiant brightness.

Jean turned her calm face briefly toward Ororo and the door shut behind the weather goddess. It was no great surprise to Ororo, and she didn't flinch.

"We can't move him," Jean said tightly. "The whole floor would go."

Ororo could see the small furrowed line of skin between Jean's eyes and knew suddenly that the slight shimmer in the air around Remy was a telekinetic shield to protect—him, them, the room?—from the force of his powers.

"Ro." Jean's voice was soft, deliberately calm. Perhaps it was for the huddled teenager, clutching his head with his hands, muttering Catholic prayers beneath his breath. "Please take the students away from here. He can feel their worry and it's making this harder."

Ororo stared at her for a long moment. He could what?

"Please." Jean pulled her gaze from Remy at last and fixed Ororo with a look. "Please get them away."

She pulled to sharply. "I will." With one last look at Remy, one prayerful welling of peace she hoped he could feel, she went out into the hallway and closed the door behind her.

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Kitty could not believe it when Miss Munroe came out and began gathering the students up and herding them away from the room. She felt the tight clenching of Rogue's hand on her shoulder, flashed her friend a sympathetic smile, then projected her voice above the crowd.

"Miss Ro? Is he going to be all right?"

Miss Munroe barely glanced back over her shoulder, white hair whirling with the motion and obscuring Kitty's view of her face. "Yes, Kitty. Now, come with me."

There were protests and concerns and the incessant hum of teenage chatter. Kitty and Rogue exchanged worried glances.

"I hope it wasn't because of me," Rogue whispered, close to her friend's ear.

Kitty shuddered. For Rogue's sake, as well as Remy's, she fervently hoped the same.

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It was easier to calm him once the turmoil of the others' emotions were out of his apparent receiving range. Jean kept up the telekinetic shield until Remy finally blew out several steady, calm breaths and the liquid glow began to dim and sink into his body. It had apparently burned through the blindfold, however. His eyes were shut when he lifted his head, but a slight bluish light slipped out from under the lids. He leaned his head back and was very still for a long moment. Eventually, even that disappeared.

"Remy?" she was hesitant, detemined not to jog his careful control.

Remy did not respond at first. He kept his head back, eyes closed, breaths even.

"What happened?" Jean finally asked in the steadily growing silence.

Something between a snort and a laugh came from his throat. "Y' see m' cloth?" he asked.

"It's burned," she replied.

His jaw tightened and she heard the slight grinding of his teeth. "Figures." He shrugged. Finally, he dropped his head to face forward with an unnervingly accurate angle. If his eyes were open, he would be staring into hers.

"What happened?" she repeated.

One eyebrow came up. "I lost control." The faint amusement crackling through his voice made it clear he thought the question unnecessary.

It renewed her annoyance with his reticence. "Why?" she demanded firmly.

"Got a cloth?" he asked, diverting her again from her line of questioning.

Jean tightened her lips into a thin line, and her anger pulsated dangerously near the surface of her emotions. The last thing she wanted to do, however, was send him over the edge again. She wasn't sure how strong his shields were, and she deliberately moved to clinical detachment. Her gaze flitted over the wreckage of his desk, the displaced objects, and general mess of the room. Finally, she looked over her desk and found a dark winter scarf that would do.

"I'm coming closer," she warned with a weary sigh.

He sat completely still as she approached and allowed her to lift his hand to give him the scarf.

"Merci," he said softly when she backed away. He reached up and tied it around his eyes, then sat back on his heels. "Feelin's. It won' happen again," he promised.

"It might," she stated with that same clinical detachment. She didn't mince words with those that could value the truth.

But Jean did not expect the wave of hard determination that washed over his face or the expression of relentless immovability that belonged only on a soldier or a man honed by years of rough experience, not on a young boy, a teenager, and a minor. It startled her. This face did not belong on him. It was a dangerous face of someone who would just keep coming and coming, even if it killed him.

"It won't," he stated, equally firm.

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The motorcycle ground over the gravel in the driveway leading up to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. Spray flew up, stung the small amounts of visible skin on the rider. Hands, neck, face. His old jacket was only more torn, beaten, and ingrained with the dirt of travel than it had been before. He needed a shave, but it could wait. His manner was that of a loner and a man used to playing rough.

He parked the bike in front of the door with little regard for its care. He kicked down the stand, got off, and lit up a cigar as he approached the front doors of the mansion.

The Wolverine had come home.
 
 

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?
 
 

Guilded Touch

Jean Grey carefully finished transferring the last of her chart notes to her clipboard as Remy sat on the bed, legs dangling over the side, gripping his knees tightly and apparently watching her. His face was pointed in her direction, but then he moved as if to take in the entire room.

Jean winced as she felt the weight of emotion, of being separate, ostracized. She felt cold and distant like everyone was watching her, curious, poking, prodding...

"Remy!" she snapped sharply.

He turned his head toward her again.

Her emotions instantly reverted to confusion and concern, her own feelings. She rubbed her temples and glanced at the various other parties in the room. Kitty was biting her nails. Professor Xavier tapped his fingers together, studying her with a worried expression. Bobby looked half ready to get out of his chair and help Remy. Scott looked like he was feeling the same about her.

And she suddenly realized why Remy had shut her down earlier.

"Out. All of you," she ordered.

She felt Scott's thoughts begin to unfurl and cut them off with a sharp mental order. Kitty was skittering out readily enough, probably nervous to be in there. Bobby glanced toward Remy first.

"Scott..." She let the name trail off, but he caught the unspoken warning and left, a firm frown set on his face, thoughts of worry slipping out to wrap around her.

Only Xavier seemed to still hesitate, his light mental scan of the room having turned up only the faint buzzing of Remy's mind and the tightlipped silence Jean pulled out for her role of being completely and only a doctor. He clearly did not want to and sighed deeply, but even he finally accepted her wishes and left.

She didn't speak again until the room was clear. Then she launched calmly back into her examination. "All right, Remy. How do you do that?" She fixed the young teen with her steady gaze.

Remy seemed rather unaffected, merely tilting his head and inciting the faintest tendrils of curiosity in her mind. "Do what?"

"That." Realizing that wasn't the most helpful of descriptions, she softened her tone and tried again. "I'm feeling your emotions like they're mine."

He froze and the flow of feelings halted with him. He spat out a string of French words under his breath. It didn't take much imagination to know he was cussing.

"Remy," she said gently. "It's all right. It's normal." She projected the most calming thoughts she could, even if he probably wouldn't receive them.

His response was anything but calm.

"Normal?" Years of living with a man behind shades let her see him narrow his eyes at her. "Y' call dis normal?" He gestured almost obscenely at the blindfold.

Jean hesitated, then sighed. "Considering that you're going through a stage of mutation, not having perfect control is normal," she stressed.

He stayed still for a moment, then rubbed at the blindfold. "Non. I had dis befo'. 'S not normal."

Before.

She froze. He was just full of surprises.

She took a deep breath and scribbled down some notes on her clipboard, then looked up again. He was still rubbing at the cloth and she realized that it must be uncomfortable.

"We could make a visor for you," she offered. "It wouldn't have to allow peripheral vision."

He shook his head.

"Okay." She blew out a breath and returned to her main issue with him. The serious lack of information. "How about you describe your gifts to me again. And this time,"—she made sure she had his attention before finishing—"be comprehensive."

"Dey don' have anyt'ing t' do wit' de charge," he said ever so casually while leaning back on one arm. "Dat de touch." A tiny smile quirked at his lips. "An' certain...visuals."

She caught the innuendo, but ignored it. "They might have everything to do with the charge." Then she gambled. "Since you're not allowing yourself to finish mutating."

Jean studied him carefully, alert for any sign of a reaction.

He made no change of expression, but she was fairly certain she had given him pause. Suddenly, he rolled his shoulders. "Seems to moi y' c'n learn whatever y' want t' hands on." The tone was flippant.

The faintest bitterness colored her emotions in response. If she hadn't been watching for it, she wouldn't have felt it.

"Remy. I'm trying to help you," she said. "I can't do that if you don't tell me how your powers work."

"T'ought y' could read all dem notes y' made," he quipped, smirking flirtatiously. No emotional backlash this time either. "Y' had dem hands all over moi gettin' dem."

So he'd noticed her testing him after his fall, even if he misrepresented the method. She wondered if there was anything he didn't notice. She was beginning to lose patience with his evasions.

She pinched her lips together tightly, then gave up and flipped the page on her chart. Fine. "If you don't like talking about your mutation, let's start with today's injuries." She scanned over her analysis then glanced up.

He raised one eyebrow. "T'ought we'd been t'rough dat, chèrie," he said with exaggerated patience.

"How about the ones from before the roof and before the explosion in the Danger Room," she replied unfazed. "I'm a doctor, Remy. I know how to judge the age of cuts and bruises. And you had quite a few that had nothing to do with anything you've already told me about."

Remy's mouth tightened fractionally. He made no other motion.

Jean wanted to reach out and shake him. "Do you really expect me to help you gain control?" she demanded.

It broke something.

"Why's he look at me like an experimen'?" he asked abruptly. "He's always tryin' t' get in m' head."

She backtracked then, slowed down, and tried to follow. She ran quickly over the candidates. "The Professor?" she asked.

"Oui." He looked away in disgust.

Jean paused at that, then considered his question. "He doesn't think of you as an experiment." She ignored the snort of disbelief. "He's always been curious and thoughtful when considering how to help people with their powers. His mental powers are part of the reason he's so good at helping. He can figure out how the mind controls the ability." She measured her next words carefully. "He didn't mean to make you feel that way."

Remy leaned back all the way on the bed, startling her at the sudden relaxing of his guard. She felt like she'd just been shown his soft, vulnerable underside and so she waited for him to speak.

"Y' don' tell him what I tell you. Y' don' tell him how m' powers work." He licked his lips then turned toward her. "Y're a doctor, right? Not s'posed t' tell anyone?"

Invoking doctor/patient confidentiality. Jean could live with that. She understood it.

She accepted the terms. "He'll only know the basics he already has."

The teen visibly relaxed. "Den listen good, Doctor Grey. I'm only goin' t' tell y' once."

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Rogue and Kitty and Jubilee regularly congregated in their choice of classroom desks. That way they could whisper and chatter and gossip things up during class time, provided they were graced with a relatively oblivious teacher, such as Hank McCoy when he got excited about the utter beauty of an obscure scientific formula.

The guys preferred to sit behind them and enjoy the view, one more reason the girls moved in early and took the seats at the very back. Rogue was enjoying a view of Piotr's back, allowing Kitty the more delicious profile shot of sitting katticorner. Jubilee was behind Bobby on Rogue's other side, and St. John Allerdyce was flicking his irritating lighter directly in front of Kitty.

"Where's Remy, you think?" Jubes leaned over to whisper, drawing a shrug from Rogue.

Kitty chewed on her lower lip, ruining the gloss, and pretended to be absorbed in studying the ever oblivious Piotr.

Rogue leaned over and poked Kitty in the ribs.

The smaller girl glared at her.

"Spill," Rogue whispered. "Y'all know something. Ah saw you and Bobby comin' out of the elevator."

Jubes grinned. "Ooh! This is just too good!" She refrained from squealing.

Kitty still rolled her eyes. "He's in his exam. You know. The one we all go through."

"Uh-huh." Rogue crossed her arms. "Again? You forget he already had one?"

"Doesn't matter." Kitty sniffed delicately. "That's where he is."

Of course, Rogue realized that her sudden interest in the blind Cajun was entirely too strong and obvious in the face of their all too brief acquaintance, but she felt perfectly safe indulging it in the company of her two flirtatious and equally interested girlfriends. But all three of them dropped their harmless chatter instantly as the subject of their conversation waltzed in late to the last period of the day and had the nerve to flash a charming grin, white teeth and all, at Hank's clear disapproval and even quip.

"Did I miss anyt'in'?"

It was almost a pity they were sitting in the back. They couldn't offer him a nearby seat and he took one near the front.

Rogue tried to bury her nose in her textbook, but had to keep stealing peeks.

The view was nice.

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He was restless.

Night had the tendency to do that to him. The slowly building charge from a day's worth of living combined with his own frustrations seethed like a pot getting ready to boil over, the molecules of his body doing the dance of kinetic energy. A light electric surge flowed beneath his skin lifting the hairs slightly. The urge in his battered muscles to heal, to restore the damaged strength and flexibility, was almost enough to overpower his almost reflexive self-charm. He kept it turned inward and the burning of his cells firmly under control.

He stared upward in the darkness, ignoring the ache of his limbs to move and the ingrained habit of constant activity.

After days in darkness, his senses had adjusted to taking in all the available information and processing it. He had acquired the unique habit of measuring the degree of motion and heat tumbling through his cells and pressing out from under his skin. He was beginning to know when casual touch would result in terrors like those in New Orleans and when even the slightest glance would break the kinetic bonds in all that seething, burning potential of the molecules around him.

He could feel it with his eyes shut and his vision blinded. He could still reach out and feel the heat, read it off the bodies around him, use the charm to push it into favorable directions. But to do so was to allow this raging inferno within him out to play.

He reined himself inward, fought the urge to rise, the need to charge something. He gritted his teeth with the pain of the struggle. He wanted to stretch out, to fight, to be able to do all that he could do and let out this charge that slid under his skin, burning and begging to be released.

He held it in tightly.

His body needed healing. It would be so very easy...

He cursed.

He couldn't keep doing this. Quickly, he slipped out of bed and moved to the dresser, swiping up his bo staff and cards, trying not to charge anything. Trying not to touch anything.

Nothing except the handles and doors that led to the basement. He'd forego those if he could, but he couldn't. He didn't even bother to try, merely checking after himself each time to feel if he had let go of any of the pent up charge and to coax it back.

If there was one thing he had learned early, it was to play the cards he was dealt.

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Rogue woke and covered her mouth with both hands instantly, stifling her own scream. Her shirt was damp and sticking to her body. Her skin was hot and achy with fear.

She tried not to cry, tried to let go.

Her gaze shifted to the side table and the cool gleam of silver dog tags and she found she couldn't. Instead, she snatched them up and slid them over her tangled hair to let them settle against her chest, the small weight comforting.

They were his dreams after all. A pellmell mishmash of pain and metal slicing through her--his body, liquid burning, glasses clinking, names and dog tags and pain...

Restless wanderlust crept over her, the side effect of not knowing who was who.

She clenched her teeth, restraining the growl that rose up in her throat. Her fingers wanted to curl into fists, but she shoved back the remnants of Logan's psyche swirling upward through her consciousness.

No. She breathed. She was Rogue. Rogue!

She swung her legs over the side of the bed, felt the tickle of carpet on her bare toes, and went to wrangle a sports bra out of her dresser drawer to put on under her shirt. She thought about gloves but made the dubious decision to forego them.

As the psyche settled lower down, back into the dream world, and she broke free into the real one, she felt herself calm and focus in with a sharpened awareness she always had following Logan's nightmares. She could borrow his strengths and release the feral tendencies into the night. She held his raw, brutal strength deep under the surface of her rippling mental landscape until it faded into a sullen silence.

She paused, torn between her own natural desire for ice cream and comfort and the desire of another for release.

She would borrow those strengths, she decided after a moment's thought, and moved with her own easy grace toward the door.

Logan always had one solution for his dreams. Work them off.

And the more people he beat up while he was at it, the better.

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His shirt was slick with sweat and he found himself slipping deeper and deeper into the automatic instincts of a battle without thought. He gave into the spatial awareness, that innate knowledge lying within him of each whistling projectile, each warm body moving toward him, every shift and change in the swarming chaos around him.

He whirled his bo staff into a stomach, hearing the whoomph! of lost breath as one went down, and caught another in the legs on the backlash. He flipped to avoid the slicing ring of metal and fired off three cards to the approaching dangers, before turning again to engage an opponent more directly.

Using his arms, his legs, vicious kicks and lethal punches, every part of his body and training to gain an advantage. He charged an enemy's weapon, dodged, danced and wove through the explosions, and set loose more of his own as he flung his cards into the darkness of the melee.

It was exhilarating, energizing, exhausting.

A heavy weight hurtled downwards toward his head. He used the bo staff to leap out of the way, then charged the admantium and hurled it down into the floor. The charge let loose into the floor and the object and he launched out of the way of the explosion, breathing hard.

He nearly slipped on a pool of sweat or blood, he wasn't sure. Then feeling another form coming from the left, he instantly shifted directions and hit them hard with his body, bringing them down and landing...

"Merde!" he cussed loudly. Hearing a threatening ring of metal, he added, "End program."

The virtual world around him faded into silence. He sat, breathing hard, straddling a warm, female body that was clearly no creation of the Danger Room. He could smell the fear, the faintest hint of some fruity shampoo, the tinge of vanilla and woman. If he could catch his breath, he could ask her who she was and what had ever failed in her pretty little head to make her walk into a fight like the one he'd been in.

But instead of coming to his senses and speaking first, he tentatively reached out a bare hand (he'd removed his gloves earlier) and traced one hand gently along the side of her face.

"Don—"

But her word went unfinished as he reached out the second hand in sheer curiosity to know who this person was, what they looked like, in a sudden urgent need to touch if he couldn't see.

She shuddered as he felt the silky skin, the full lips slightly open, the slightly haughty height of her cheekbones, the delicate eyebrows, the tangle of long, silky hair. His empathy reached out and caressed her.

"Rogue?"

She caught her breath hard, but did not answer directly. Her emotions were in turmoil and she made no move to push him away. He couldn't help but get caught up in the strange, swirling headiness of her. Longing. Frustration. Anxiety. Need. Sadness. Hope.

He continued to lightly map her face with his fingers, trying to imagine her face in his mind.

"I told y' dat y're beautiful," he said softly, almost whispering it above her.

A trace of wetness coated his fingers. He frowned and drew it toward him, tasting it and realized she was crying. "Chère?"

She finally found her voice. "How can ya touch me?" she asked. "How can ya touch meh?" Her accent thickened even as she spoke, the sound of her tears pouring through her southern drawl.

He sat back on his heels, lifted one leg over her, and scrambled away. "Chère?"

She had him thoroughly confused, more so when he felt her moving, crawling toward him on her knees, and reaching out to grasp his hands with hers. Her skin was soft and he could feel her shaking as she cried softly.

"What's wrong, chèrie?" He pulled one hand gently from her grip and returned to stroking her face.

She caught her breath, then answered, "Ah can't touch anyone."

His hand tightened on hers, the question clear.

"Ah drain them," she went on. "Their mem'ries, their thoughts, their lahfe, all of 'em into me. And you're... Nothin's happenin', Remy, when you touch me. Nothing."

Her tears stopped her again.

He carefully, slowly wiped them away.

Something vague and uncertain formed in his belly, but he ignored it. This one person before him somehow demanded his complete focus and he coiled his emotions around hers, calming her until she was quiet.

"I understand," he said softly.

Anger lashed at him as she jerked away and he winced.

"Neve' met anybody that does," she retorted. He could feel the venom of her outburst, the history of empty consolations.

It meant nothing to him.

"Y' jus' did."

She moved, shifted somehow, and her emotions seethed. "Just 'cause ya wear that blahndfold—"

"I ain't blind, chere," he cut her over abruptly.

Silence blanketed them, almost suffocating in its sudden arrival. He withheld his empathy, the charm, not wanting to know what she was feeling. He could feel her every motion on his senses, hear the ragged sounds of her breath, feel the heat of his body, the cold of his skin as the perspiration dried against it.

Finally, a tentative reach toward him, then arrested. She pulled in tighter to herself, so he could barely sense her.

And then she whispered, "Can Ah see your eyes?"

He thought of Bella. And whispered back, "Non."

He clambered to his feet, offered a hand to her. She took it and he helped her up.

She didn't release his hand right away and he waited. She gripped him firmly with the bare flesh of her hand, seeming to revel in the contact.

"Ah thought I'd never touch again," she admitted.

He squeezed her hand, then let it go. "I guess y' will," he said, aiming the remark carefully.

She turned to go.

He waited.

She hesitated, stopped, turned back to him. A slight smile colored her words. "Ah guess Ah will."
 
 

Guilded Pain

Professor Charles Xavier sat at the head of the long oval table in the conference room, better known as the War Room.

He watched as Storm, Ororo Munroe, walked into the room slowly, white hair swirling about the dark skin of her shoulders showing above her blouse with its billowy sleeves. Her eyes and face were still, calm, dignified, despite the flashes of concern and guilt he could read from her mind as she took her seat to his right.

Cyclops, Scott Summers, held similar thoughts of self-recrimination hovering about his consciousness as he entered, eyes hidden behind thick, red-lensed shades, short brown hair tousled from running his hand through it, a frown flittering about the edges of his mouth. He felt responsible for so much here as the voted team leader. He felt responsible for this. He settled in the chair to Xavier's left.

The Professor felt a whiff of calm and saw his recently recalled former student Hank McCoy lumber in to take a seat next to Storm. The blue fur, bulky form, and enlarged canines had earned him the codename Beast. He was mostly in charge of the students, besides having time for his own research projects as a scientist.

Lastly, Jean Grey walked in, carrying a slim file folder and sighing slightly as she dropped into her chair beside Scott's. Her green eyes were tired. She slipped off her glasses, folded them, and tapped them on the table.

Xavier addressed the group. "I'm sure you all know a little bit about why we're here."

Scott frowned and nodded. Ororo refused to respond. Hank took a deep breath.

The Professor nodded at Jean, giving her the floor.

Jean frowned, gathering her thoughts. "I examined him thoroughly," she began slowly. "He'll be fine. He has heavy bruising, stitches in three places, and some scars from what seems to have been about five to seven days ago. He also has minor bruises and cuts from today." She glanced toward Ororo. "In addition to where he was struck on the roof."

Ororo closed her eyes to listen.

Jean continued. "What concerns me most is that he shows signs of being more than an alpha mutant, like I thought. What he calls charge is actually biokinetic energy generated by his body. He seems to have been recently depleted of it."

"How would you know that?" Scott asked.

"Because at the rate that it's increasing, he would be blowing us all up by now if he hadn't."

Jean's words left a pall over the room.

Hank rallied. "Perhaps it has increased its rate of production," he suggested.

"I doubt it." Jean drew her eyebrows together slightly as she studied the table, her hand holding the glasses stilled. She had done that often when studying hard as a teenager and the Professor knew she was trying to piece together a puzzle of some sort. "His cells show signs of being in process of mutating, so it is possible."

Heads snapped to attention. In process?

"However, he seems to be applying some force to slowing it down. The charge became highly active after his injury as if it could perhaps aid in regenerating his cells, but his mental scans show extremely heightened activity and I watched him slow it down with some sort of low level mental power. Almost like he was containing it somehow. He's keeping the charge from fully manifesting. So I don't believe it has increased production. Rather, I believe it has decreased."

As much as his staff could understand what Jean had just explained, Xavier could feel them boggling at it. It was unheard of. A mutant stopping his own powers, caught midmutation.

The Professor mused that Jean was right. Remy was not likely an alpha mutant.

He was almost certainly omega.

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Darkness greeted him when he woke. He moved slowly to get up and winced as pain lanced through his side. He touched his ribs with his gloved hand and found bare skin and bandages instead of a shirt. His coat was gone.

Tentatively, he stretched out with his senses to find motion and almost immediately, the warm thrum of charge began. He retracted hastily and felt around the bed for his coat.

It wasn't there.

He reached into his jeans. Perhaps, he had one left. Two lone cards slipped into his hands. He charged them both more intensely than ever he had charged mere playing cards before and hurled them into the air away from the most delicate equipment. He heard the explosion, felt it only slightly as he held his senses in tightly.

Control. He had to get under control.

The charge was increasing again, but not so fast or strong that he couldn't control it, he told himself.

Remy slid off the bed onto the cold, metal floor of the medical bay. He groped around until he found a chair, his coat. Relief flooded him with a shock of almost physical warmth. He slithered his hand into the inner pocket and felt for a deck. He found his cigarettes.

Good enough.

He lit up with barely a touch and inhaled the nicotine, blowing out the restless tension in his arms. Keep calm, he thought. If he stayed calm, the charge would not increase. The charm stirred as he turned it on himself, calming the raging in his molecules, in his body, in his emotions. He rolled his shoulders backward and reached into the trench coat pockets again. He found another card.

He felt it with his fingers, cursed beneath his breath. The blindfold was stifling, heavy, hot. He charged the card and let loose a flash of the insight he hated. Two of Spades.

Her red hair loose around her, her body suspended in an aura of flaming light. She reached out her hand to use her power.

He cursed and looked away as he drew the charge back in through his fingers.

Two o'clock. Remy consulted his internal clock. An hour. Long enough.

He dropped the card on the bed, shrugged into his coat, and turned a couple times to get his bearings. He located himself within the blueprint in his head and tread quietly out into the hall.

He would have to be careful, he mused. He couldn't get his stitches wet.

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The Professor returned with Jean to the medical bay. She had left Remy sleeping with Kitty, who volunteered to stay with him when Jean asked. When they entered, however, they found Kitty searching frantically for the missing mutant.

"I just went to the bathroom," she said. "I was only gone for a minute!" Both hands flew to her face and a mental wail sang out.

"Calm down," Jean told the distraught girl, reassuring. "We'll find him."

She glanced around the area. Remy had vanished, along with his coat. There was no sign of his presence on the physical or astral planes. Her heart sank. Finding him telepathically would be impossible.

The Professor frowned and folded his hands together. "I have the feeling he will return."

"You do?" Jean glanced toward him.

Kitty turned wide eyes in his direction.

He nodded toward the bed.

Jean used her telekinesis to lift up the small object she found there. A playing card. "I don't understand."

The Professor studied the card intently. "Two o'clock, I believe. Though I do not know where he's gone, I am almost certain that is when he will return."

Jean frowned. Remy was in no condition to go anywhere, but she refrained from arguing. If the Professor thought he was fine, he probably was.

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Bobby was passing by the showers in the boys dormitory when he heard water running. It was an odd time for that, so he opened the door and stepped inside to investigate. He rounded the corner and found Remy.

The tall young man was standing well out of the flow of the water, using a cloth to wash himself off, carefully avoiding a line of stitches down his front and another on his back. His eyes were shut, but the black cloth he usually wore had been removed, revealing a sharp, canny, though handsome face. Bobby couldn't help but feel he was staring at a fighter in every sense of the word, especially as he ran his gaze down the heavy bruises and long scars across Remy's arms. Silvery lines spiderwebbed over the wrists and onto the backs of the hands. He was extremely lean with streamlined muscles.

Staring at the other teen's injuries, Bobby wasn't so surprised now that Remy had seemed pained and tired at times.

"What happened to you?" he asked.

Remy paused, arresting his motion and cocking his head in Bobby's direction. He kept his eyelids shut. "Dese?" he asked, indicating the bruises and stitches down his front.

"Yeah." Bobby sat on one of the benches in front of the lockers.

Remy turned off the water and stepped further toward the benches. He shrugged, rolling his shoulders back. "Caught de bad end o' a charge. Didn' move in time." Remy grabbed a towel off the bench and started drying off, again carefully avoiding his stitches.

Bobby frowned, wondering just what he meant by 'bad end'. "Well, I'm glad you came here," he said with a small smile.

The words brought instant stillness. Remy's mouth tightened. He balled one hand into a fist and pressed at his own closed eyes, squeezing them tighter shut, then reached onto the bench again, feeling about for the blindfold. He wrapped it around his eyes and tied it tightly, then went for his jeans. He turned to Bobby.

"Pourquoi?"

"English, Remy," Bobby answered politely.

"Why?" The mouth tightened again.

Bobby felt an intent scrutiny settle on him.

"Well..." he began, then paused, staring into that knowing, unseeing face, realizing that Remy required the real reason, a real answer. Bobby thought and carefully answered, "Because there's a place for you here. And we help each other to 'move in time.'" He remembered his own days of uncertainty when he didn't even know how to turn his power off.

"Tu dis ça maintenant," Remy muttered.

"English, Remy.

Remy jerked his head sharply. "Non."

He stepped toward the bench again, started to lean over, then stopped, clenching his hands, his mouth tightening in a frown. He seemed to be studying his hands, even though he couldn't see them.

Bobby said nothing. He knew the look, knew the girl who wore it so often, that arrested motion, the realization all over again as she snatched her hand back in aborted touch. He walked over to the bench, picked up the shirt for Remy, and handed it to him.

A strange sort of smile twisted up one side of Remy's mouth.

"I always hated it when I couldn't do things for myself," Bobby said abruptly. "You know, for a while, everything was ice. Food, drinks, the floor I walked on. All of it. One nice block of ice."

Remy slowly reached out and took the shirt.

"And of course, it wasn't even a strong power," Bobby went on as if he hadn't seen. "It was the kind that made things hard for your teammates in a Danger Room session when they would find themselves slipping. Took me ages to even be useful. I mean, who would think of freezing your enemies."

"Makes sense," Remy offered.

Bobby shrugged. "Yeah, well, I learned."

Remy pulled the shirt over his head and then laid his hand against his stomach. Bobby watched in wonder as the hazy pink aura faded from the cloth.

"How do you do that?" he asked.

Remy seemed surprised. "Reabsorb de charge?"

"I guess."

"Y' never reabsorb de ice?"

Bobby stopped and thought about that. "Maybe." He clapped a hand on Remy's back. "They're probably wondering where you're at. We should get back."

Remy stiffened slightly, but said nothing for a long moment. "D'accord," he finally said, waving his hand as if it wasn't worth an argument. His hands then slithered into the pockets of his trench coat and stayed there.

Bobby knew the look. He had seen Rogue do the same thing to keep from touching. But he said nothing.

Some things shouldn't be said.

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Bobby walked alongside him, providing a moving reference point that Remy could follow without having to rely on his memory or other senses. Walking alongside held the reassuring comfort of familiarity. He had often walked alongside his older brother, Henri, down the hallways of his own family's mansion.

Jean Grey greeted them in the medical bay, along with the telepathic professor and a slightly flustered Kitty.

"Sit," Jean ordered.

Remy sat on the bed, ignoring the hum of dissatisfaction coming from the doctor. She pulled up his shirt and ran a professional hand along his stitches.

"You shouldn't have gone out while you were injured," she said critically. "You shouldn't have tried to skip out on your appointment in the first place. And you should not have been on the roof."

Bobby piped up as he sat in the chair that had briefly held Remy's coat. "He needed a shower."

"A shower..." Words failed her.

"I didn' get dem wet," he insisted.

"No, you didn't." She conceded the point and pulled her hand from the stitches to scribble on her clipboard.

Remy leaned back and rested one elbow on the bed. "So all dis a 'scuse to touch moi?" He guaged her reaction.

She stilled suddenly and completely.

He smirked at her.

"How old are you?" she demanded.

"Already told y' dat," he replied smoothly. "Seventeen."

"You should not be flirting with an adult," she admonished.

"Or my wife," Scott added disapprovingly.

Remy chuckled. "Never stopped me before."

Bobby coughed, obviously smothering a laugh or some sound of consternation.

The Professor intervened. "Let's try to keep on topic, shall we?" he said lightly.

Remy shrugged the one shoulder. "Y' wan' t' know why I'm hurt, non?"

"Yes." Jean sighed. "Your injuries are extensive and certainly go beyond what happened today."

"Saw a doctor. Mon Pere had dose taken care o'." He shifted uncomfortably. "What more do y' need?"

"Where did they come from?" she insisted.

He stared up into the darkness of nothing, remembering vaguely a man looking curiously down at him and asking that once about his eyes. The doctor's motions slipped about the edges of his senses, and he tightened his hold on them. "What color is your hair?" he asked, deliberately not flirting when he asked it.

She hesitated. "Red."

Red hair. Red aura. He shuddered and answered the question. "De charge. I blew somet'ing up. Somet'ing big. Hit me pretty hard. I woke up in de hospital." He firmly removed the vision from his mind.

He couldn't see her. He didn't know.

Jean scribbled on her clipboard. Bobby sat near him for moral support. The Professor watched with intent curiosity. Seemed some things never changed.

Remy laughed a soft, dry, bitter laugh, bringing the doctor to another pause.

Freak.
 
 

Guilded Ties

Kitty leaned over and whispered close to Remy's ear. "That's Miss 'Ro. They call her Storm and she's got one of the biggest tempers around here when she's pissed."

He grinned back at her then whispered, "She also one o' de prettiest femmes."

She giggled softly. "How do you know?"

"Like I said, Chaton," he insisted. "I got de sense fo' dese t'ings."

Kitty would believe him too. He was right in his assessment. But how he knew...Well, that was beyond her.

She neatly passed along her notes in verbal format. He listened carefully, like he was really taking it in, and she was impressed at some of the questions he asked her.

"You already take this class?" she demanded finally, still whispering.

He chuckled. "Non. Jus' know de mat'. Had to."

And that was about as clear as mud.

When class was finally over, Kitty stood and gathered her books. "C'mon. I'll take you to lunch."

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The same jumbled laughter and voices of chaos washed over Remy from the dining room as last time. He didn't have the energy to deal with it. He planted one hand on the small of Kitty's back, to her startled reaction, and followed along behind her.

"Um...you okay?" Kitty craned her neck in his direction.

He nodded.

"Um...okay." She didn't argue, just led the way.

They settled in at the same table as yesterday. Bobby spoke up almost immediately.

"Hey! We didn't see you at breakfast. I was worried about you."

Remy raised his eyebrows and smirked. "No need. Jus' catching m' sleep." He wondered though. Bobby was worried about him? It begged a few questions he didn't really want to ask.

"Hey, sugah." The soft, sultry southern twang came from behind him and he tried to look up in her direction. "Yahr in ma seat."

"We coul' always share it," he quipped, then reached out to feel her emotions.

The same wave of pleased embarrassment with it's unique Rogue exasperation washed over his senses. He liked the feeling. He liked her.

"What color is y'r hair?" he asked. It was something he'd been wanting to know for a while now.

Rogue projected a few nasty emotions without much strength in his direction and settled in the seat next to him. He assumed it was a glare and grinned.

"Brown," she said brusquely. "For today, Swamp Rat, yah can have ma seat."

"Swamp Rat, hein?" He tilted his head in her direction. "Dat make y' a river rat?"

This time, there was some strength to the emotional backlash.

He still couldn't keep from grinning.

"Um...earth to y'all!" Jubilee put in a good imitation of Rogue's southern accent. "The rest of us like to converse too, you know."

Remy waved her on and settled in to enjoy the conversation around him. He applied his listening skills to their utmost, committing it all to memory.

Piotr, Bobby, and John got off a 'discussion' regarding which medium was more important and lasting, poetry or canvas. Bobby seemed pretty lost as he floundered between his opinionated friends, but Remy could have answered that pretty quickly. Paintings definitely brought in the bigger bucks. Kitty occasionally threw in comments in Piotr's favor—though she didn't really seem the type to properly appreciate impressionist art, but mostly discussed wardrobes with Jubilee and Rogue. Apparently, Rogue was the fashion princess around here with more gloves, scarves, and accessories than any of the others.

Kitty denied her lack of taste in clothes hotly, then turned to Piotr. "Do you like opera gloves or the little ones with those little strappy dresses?" she demanded.

The quiet Russian seemed stumped for a moment, so Remy decided to help him out.

"De little strappy ones shoul' usually have little gloves. De long ones go wit' opera gloves."

"Well, maybe ah lahke to make a statement," Rogue said dangerously.

"'M sure y'd look good whatever y' wore, chère," Remy replied smoothly.

Flustered confusion overtook the defiance in her signature. He grinned, especially knowing she had no idea how he could read her. Then slowly, he let the grin fade from his face, remembering his parting with Bella. He frowned and started in on the plate Bobby had helped him get.

One more thing he'd have to learn in this place. How to get his own food.

'Like touching all over again.'

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Remy slipped soundlessly across the tiles of the roof until he found what he was looking for, a comfortably sheltered place to sit down. He felt around carefully and settled in, leaning his back against an eave.

He felt around in one of the inner pockets of his trench coat and pulled out a thin, black phone. He flipped it open and dialed from memory and feel.

His Pere had trained him well. Be able to do anything without seeing your hands, in case you were in darkness. This despite the fact that his mutant eyes made darkness negligible. And never keep important names in an address book or on speed dial. Ever.

The phone rang twice.

"Bonjour. LeBeau residence," a heavily accented voice picked up.

"Pere?"

"Remy, y' rascal! I told y' to call as soon as y' were settled!" His Pere sounded as excited to hear from him as Remy was to hear his Pere. "Y' been dere what? 'lmost deux days!"

"About one, if y' break down de hours," Remy said drily. He'd always found little things to correct his Pere on, just to prove he was still stubborn and independent.

It earned him a small chuckle. Then a serious tone overwhelmed Jean-Luc's voice. "Y' had any problems? Anyt'ing serious?"

"Non." Remy smiled thinly at the invisible view. "De Danger Room, it's good."

A brief silence. "Did dey start y' already?" A little disbelief and cynicism colored the voice. Ten years of being family had given the man plenty of insight into Remy's natural behavior.

Ten years off the street and Remy's instincts still didn't believe it. Trust didn't come easy to him and it probably never would. He was still his own person, even if now he had a father and brother and sister-in-law.

Remy shrugged with his uninjured shoulder. "I found de room. Coul'n't wait."

The silence lengthened and then his Pere sighed heavily. "Dat bad?"

"It ain' y'r fault, Pere," Remy said softly.

They'd been on the round since everything went down. Both blamed themselves, Remy for being the cause of so many deaths, Jean-Luc for not seeing it coming and finding a way to help Remy sooner.

"I shoul' o' seen it comin', fils." His Pere's voice was heavy with regret. "Y' were complainin' o' headaches fo' weeks, o' t'ings chargin' when y' weren' tryin'. I lived long enough wit' y' to know dat weren' good."

"Pere..."

"Non. I'm de one s'posed to take care o' y', fils," Jean-Luc insisted. "Y're not still a bot on de street. Y're mon fils."

"Oui, Pere. I got t' go." Remy said his goodbyes and got off the phone.

He looked out on the world around him as the wind continued to pick up. He had noticed the change in an instant and waited for the hovering person below to come up.

She did.

"Remy?" a femme's voice asked from in front of him. Miss 'Ro.

He decided not to ask how she flew.

"Dr. Grey said you're missing your appointment." Slight disappointment in the voice.

He could read her emotions directly if he reached, but he had the empathy shut down. He settled for shrugging the same uninjured shoulder.

Ororo sighed and she moved toward him. In a flash, he was scooting backwards, scrambling away from her outstretched arms.

"Remy!"

He slipped, almost lost his footing, dove out of the way of her next attempt, then slipped again, trying to find purchase... He dropped hard on his already hurt side, hissing out with the explosion of pain as he slid downward and finally stopped himself, barely clinging to the edge of the roof.

His side and front began to throb. It felt wet. He struggled not to lose his bearings, his balance, his grip.

Gentle strong hands took hold of his arms. "I'm sorry, Remy."

Remy let her help him.

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Jean looked up as Ororo walked in, leading a clearly disgruntled Remy. His face was a little pale and he wore an angry scowl.

"We agreed to meet up after lunch," Jean said softly.

Ororo let go of Remy's jacket. He smoothed it out with one hand.

"I've got a class..." Ororo paused. "He hit the corner of the roof when I tried to catch him."

"Of course." Jean dismissed her friend with a wave of her hand. "I'll look at it."

Remy stepped forward, then wavered for a moment. "Merde," he whispered, then went stumbling to the ground.

"Remy!" Jean reached out with thought to catch him as he went down.

He'd fallen unconscious. His shirt was wet and dark and Jean fought down the panic rising in her throat. "Scott! Help me get him up on the table."

Between the two of them, they got Remy laid out on the table and she pulled off his shirt then stared. "Did you see this?"

Scott swore softly. "They were purple before," he said of the heavy discoloration running down Remy's front.

They were an angry red now and he was bleeding from where he'd been hit.

"I've got to get him stabilized." Jean went into doctor mode and ignored her husband. She wanted to shake him, to scream at him, that bruises that size weren't normal. She shouldn't have let Remy get away without his physical earlier.

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Scott watched as Jean bent over Remy with a serious expression, sterilizing the wound and working to stop the bleeding. He couldn't name or describe almost any of what she did. He could only hope it was the right thing.

He should have mentioned the bruises.

Of all the times to hold back, this time could have cost a life. Scott sat down in one of the chairs to wait.

"Is he going to be all right?"

Jean didn't glance his way. "He seems to be the surviving type," she said drily.

That was only mildly reassuring.

"I'm going to take a look at his blood," she continued. "See if he'll be okay with painkiller."

Scott nodded helplessly.

Jean went about putting a small sampling of blood under the microscope then leaned over, fitting her eye to the glass, and studying it intently.

"Oh my..." His wife's whispered voice was one of horrified awe.

"Jean?"

She lifted bewildered eyes to his. "Scott. He's still mutating. Right now. He..." She stared at her wounded charge.

He was coming to, struggling to sit up.

"No, Remy." She reached out and pressed him back gently. "Don't do that. You'll hurt yourself more."

Remy gritted his teeth tightly. "No...painkillers," he gasped out.

"Okay. We won't." Jean rubbed his shoulder. "You're going to be fine. Just let me finish getting you cleaned up."

Remy stayed still for a moment, his face towards Jean, then nodded and dropped back.

Scott watched it all with feelings of confusion. "Jean."

She turned toward him.

"What do you mean, he's still mutating?"

Jean glanced around helplessly, as if trying to find her scattered thoughts. "I...I need to get him stabilized."

It was the easy way out, Scott thought. Slip into doctor mode. He nodded sharply. But she was right. Remy was her priority right now. Not him.

He showed himself out.

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Remy tried not to move too much as the world swirled around him. Blackness flickered at the edges of his consciousness. He tried to stay awake. He really did try. The combination of exhaustion, blood loss, and pain finally won out and he fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.
 
 

Guilded Secrets

Remy yanked his senses in sharply. The traces of heat and electrical energy died from his feelings.

Nobody moved for a long moment, long enough for him to detect the shift in his input. The slightest sound, the breathing of the other two occupants of the room, became sharpened and heightened as he focused on it. He could taste the acrid traces of explosions he had initiated. He could feel the dampness of sweat soaking his shirt and smell it faintly, mingled with the soft fragrance of the doctor's perfume.

One of them moved. He placed the motion, the speed, the velocity. Perhaps an arm moving. Remy located it in the mental blueprint he had engraved upon his nearly perfect memory and identified the motion with the woman.

"We done here?" he demanded finally, the silence grating upon him.

He didn't want to hear so well, not when it wasn't something special he was born with. The gift had been born out of necessity, an urgent need to survive on the deadly, night-clouded streets of New Orleans. It had been honed by years of intense training and discipline. It was something he often tried to drown out.

"I need to do some more evaluating," the doctor said softly. "Perhaps we can continue in the medical bay."

It was a mild command, put in the form of a request. He didn't argue, just shoved his hands in his pockets and followed quietly as she moved ahead of him. His senses tracked and latched onto the motion of the man, Scott, moving in behind him. Remy froze.

"Y' first, mon ami," he said, gesturing Scott on politely.

Scott hesitated, his motion slowed to almost nonexistent.

Remy narrowed his eyes at the man, even though he couldn't see.

"Scott?" The doctor's voice was gentle like a forgotten whiff of his mother's.

Remy stiffened, but followed as Scott went on. He was content to follow the two of them. His blueprint guided him unerringly through the labyrinth and he didn't have to worry about what was going on behind him. That meant more to him than he thought it would once he'd turned his heat detection off.

They entered the medical bay and Remy immediately located the more comfortable of the two beds. He swung himself atop it to sit.

"What's y'r name anyway, chère?" he asked curiously, cocking his head and looking in the direction of the two people moving around.

"It's Jean Grey," she said lightly. "Scott, you sit there." She came forward, waving something in her hand, probably a clipboard, then settled in front of him and scribbled a few things down. "How old are you exactly, Remy?"

"Seventeen."

He felt slight probing against his mental shields, but they were on full strength and she didn't even come close to denting them.

"I won't read your thoughts against your will, you know" she said, her voice tinted with exasperation. "You don't have to do that."

He refrained from any response whatsoever.

She started scribbling again. "When did your powers first manifest?"

"Seven." He left out the part that he'd been born a mutant, complete with the mark of the devil he was called. Remy never found it necessary to provide information that wasn't requested.

"What happened?" Her head moved.

He gripped his knees a little harder. "Card game. Blew up my hand."

"Your cards or your actual hand?"

He stripped off a glove and reached out, showing her the silvery web of scars running across his fingers and wrist. He knew what they looked like, knew that the years had reduced their hideous appearance into something barely there, a reminder of pain unlike any he had known before. And now knew again.

Jean's fingers traced over him lightly, then she went back to scribbling. "I see."

Did she? He pulled back his hand and clenched it loosely before pulling the glove back on.

"Why do you wear the gloves?" she asked, curiosity ringing in her tone.

He shrugged. "Lots o' t'ings charge real well."

The pencil paused. "I thought you said you weren't having problems with touch."

"Non." His powers had exploded six days ago into an inferno of energy and senses and scope that he had little to no control over. He'd overworked the senses, trying desperately to keep a handle on the energy. "If de charge get too strong," he admitted, "den touchin' a problem too."

Scott murmured a swear word.

Remy retreated inside himself. He ignored the next questions, not even hearing them. Why was the man in here? He looked around the room, wishing desperately to see.

Jean's hand settled on his knee and he tuned back into her.

"Remy? Are you okay?"

He slid off the bed, brushing her hand away. "We done here?"

She hesitated, then acquiesced. "Perhaps we should continue after lunch."

"Oui. Fine." He clipped the words and slipped past her out into the hallway.

Like hell they should.

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Ororo Munroe, weather goddess and history teacher extraordinaire, also known as 'Ro or Storm, smiled broadly at the new student when he appeared in the doorway to her classroom. She welcomed him with her usual warmth and received a slight smile in return. His eyes were well hidden beneath the heavy blindfold and a brown trench coat and languid posture hid anything revealing about his body language. But his smile was genuine and friendly.

"Your seat is along the side, next to Kitty," Ororo began only to be cut off by the aforementioned student's bright exuberance.

"Over here!" Kitty said cheerily, waving her arm.

The arm wave was probably unnecessary, but Remy cocked his head slightly as if listening, then walked easily over to the empty chair and dropped into it.

'Ro glanced back at the blackboard. She had asked the Professor earlier how to adapt her teaching methods to a sightless student. His suggestions included reading everything out loud and assigning study partners for homework.

She decided to go over the main points on the board to start.

Kitty whispered something close in Remy's ear, drawing a Cheshire grin, mysterious, coy, amused. He whispered something back.

'Ro sighed, but decided to let them for the first day. He needed to get his bearings more than anything else.

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Jean stepped into Professor Xavier's office with a tired smile. She rubbed her temples and settled into a plush leather chair.

"Are you all right?" he asked, slight concern in his eyes.

"Mm." She nodded. "He's just so...complicated."

"Remy?"

At her nod of confirmation, he settled back in his chair prepared to listen intently. "Did he allow the medical exam?"

Jean hesitated. "Yes. No. He zoned out after a certain point. He just...didn't want to talk about it anymore." She shrugged apologetically. "It's not going to be a quick and easy with him."

"Did you go over his gifts?"

"Yes. I did." Jean sat up and handed him a thin file folder. "I've left out some of the details he asked me to keep confidential. Basically, he's an alpha class mutant, very high level, with the ability to release the potential energy in objects and make them explode. He also seems to have some sort of telepathic ability that he says isn't telepathic. I've never seen mental shields like his anywhere."

Xavier felt surprised, even if he'd experienced those shields as well. "You say he isn't telepathic."

"He says that," she corrected and then continued frankly. "He's doesn't like to answer questions and he doesn't really like me to ask them. Personally, I think the only reason he even submitted to the evaluation was because he needs control. I didn't even get to run his physical."

"Perhaps you should start with that next time," Xavier suggested. "Before going back into his mutation."

Jean looked dubious, but nodded. "Okay. Anything that helps."

The Professor considered whether to show her his own discovery, but decided to wait until she'd completed her evaluation. After she left the office though, he reached in his desk drawer and pulled it out.

An article from a major newspaper in New Orleans bore the striking headline: "Mysterious explosion kills 72 at the Belle Orleans Theatre." More had ended up in the hospital, injured to varying degrees. The picture was the most telling, however. It was full color and Xavier couldn't help but think of playing cards in the dining room dancing through the air as he studied the haze of pink light surrounding the building as it went up in smoke.
 
 

Guilded Sense

Jean woke from a soft, buzzing, throbbing, humming noise in her head.

She reached out physically and found she was still wrapped in Scott's arms. He was fast asleep. She smiled.

Then she reached out mentally.

She frowned.

Jean Grey was a powerful telepath and rarely had difficulty locating anything on the astral plane that had captured her attention, but whatever had woken her had simply vanished into the night.

She did encounter the three girls in Rogue's room having their bimonthly sleepover. She glanced at the clock. It was only midnight. She didn't want to break up their little party.

She'd give them fifteen minutes, she decided, forgetting completely about the sound that had woken her up.

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"So, are you two like official yet?" Kitty demanded of Rogue about her and Bobby.

"No!" Rogue grinned from her perch on her bed.

Jubilee and Kitty had completely taken over her floor with their sleeping bags and had settled in with her as their current target.

"You like John, don't you?" Jubilee squealed. "He is SO hot on you!"

"Jubes!" Rogue laughed and blushed. "Ah'm not serious with anybody."

Ever since the whole incident with Mystique impersonating Bobby, everyone had assumed Rogue was dating him. And John had been hanging around a lot lately. She thought both of them displayed a lack of intelligence on that point. What was the good of dating a girl you couldn't touch?

But as Jubilee and Kitty debated the physical merits of John versus Bobby and even got off on a Piotr tangent, Rogue found herself thinking of a tall, lean frame and messy auburn hair that fell haphazardly almost to Remy's shoulders. Even his name sounded more interesting and exotic than Bobby or John. And he had flirted with her. Twice after they had started eating, once before they'd barely been introduced. He hadn't flirted with any of the other girls—just her.

When he couldn't even see her.

"Ah wonder why he wears the blahndfold," Rogue said abruptly, reentering the conversation without regard for the current topic.

Both stopped and stared at her.

Kitty's eyes lit up. "You like Remy! He is like soooooo hot."

"He's blind," Jubilee answered, at least managing to stay on topic. "Probably for a long time. Did you see how he was able to follow everything just by listening?" She grinned slyly. "But he is hot."

Rogue blushed and burrowed herself lower in the covers.

Jean's mental voice cut off any replies. It's past your time to go to sleep, girls.

Jubilee rolled her eyes but both she and Kitty snuggled down in their sleeping bags. Sleepover night allowed them conversation until midnight. After that, they were supposed to pipe down and lights out.

Rogue stared at the ceiling.

She wondered what color his eyes were.

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When he left his bedroom, Remy found himself in the utter stillness of night indoors. He felt the faint buzzing of the molecules around him, but no movement. All else was lost in the darkness. His darkness.

He pondered whether to do this with all his senses or not.

He was used to seeing the heat patterns all around him, not just feeling them, being able to push on them. Though that last was always a risky proposition. Results were mixed when he pushed, arousal being the only thing he could manage without fail.

But to give up his invisibility to the telepath that had tried to probe him earlier. He'd been hooked in at the start of the meeting with Professor Xavier, but he dropped the reach as soon as he recognized the gentle curiosity licking at his mental defenses. Only the spike in his charge had kept the man at bay.

Remy hesitated, then reached, extending his sense to locate the empathic signature for the Professor. He found him fast asleep, then hurtled back into his own body. It was just as dark and unseeing as before.

He unleashed his senses and felt the world around him fill in.

Lines of heat laced through the walls and ceiling and floor. Remy processed the electrical wiring first, then plunged through the walls to find the heat patterns of sleeping bodies, the hazy neurological activity of dreaming minds: the dance of their emotion in the shifting patterns of the flesh and the dance of their thought in the shifting patterns of the nerves. He could measure thought but could not read it. Emotion was as open to him as a book. He memorized the signatures, even as he located the electronics, the movements, and the static energy in the rooms around him.

He'd need the information later.

Then he started moving.

His senses extended ahead of him, heat and motion and potential energy filling in the details of his world. He located windows by following the wiring. Located light fixtures. Located sockets. He listened with a trained ear to every creak of the wooden floors, felt the textures with hands and feet, found the rugs, the furnishings, the pictures on the wall. He reached the stairs and started back the audio track of Bobby's tour, combining the data fed into his brain with names and places, stories about funny things that had happened in various places.

He entered the elevator.

It was always a nerve-wracking bout of vertigo to feel his weight shift and the falling sensation of the elevator when he couldn't see. Somehow, it meant nothing until all he knew was this box of heat and energy and nothing else came easy to grab a hold of.

The elevator shuddered to a stop, and he slipped out of it into metal hallways. He felt the change instantly and dropped into a crouch to feel the material. It would charge well.

That scared him.

His cards found their way into his hands and he continued on, walking lightly as his pere had trained him to do, shuffling the cards in silence then putting them away.

Casing the lower level was significantly easier. No one seemed to be down here and the metal conducted his senses quite well. His skills, being at Master level, adapted more readily to this high security area. He found his fingers saw without the need for empathy or the spatial sense. He knew what to touch, what to avoid with all the instincts of the professional.

He made sure to cover the entire floor with his silent passage, allowing the dimensions to find permanent residence in his memory. He checked every drawer and cabinet. Every object was briefly handled in his gloved hands.

It took him two hours to find the Danger Room.

He ran knowledgeable hands over the doors and knew. This was the room the Professor had mentioned would allow him to practice his powers without hurting anybody. Remy quickly took apart the security on the door, hesitating only briefly over a couple of wires he couldn't see the color of.

His instincts were rarely wrong.

Only a few moments and he was in. He was where he had hoped to reach from the beginning.

He cased the room as he had all the others, excitement making him rush. But he had to know the dimensions. He found the walls, floor, and ceiling slick and mostly empty. What had he said? Virtual simulations?

"Computer?" he tried.

Nothing.

"Danger Room," he said more certainly.

Electricity shifted in the walls. He calmly allowed the trail of heat to locate the central processor for him.

Then he added, "Run de las' saved program."

His kinesthetic sense went wild, exploding across his perception with forming and moving apparitions that suddenly became real.

He flipped out his bo staff and, with the exhilaration of release and adrenaline, fell into the comfort of the fight.

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Scott was surprised to see the new kid had skipped breakfast. Students tended to make sure they were on time in the dining room, since Ororo had gotten so strict about eating times. Bobby had reported that Remy was completely filled in on the rules of the mansion, even the unfair, idiosyncratic ones.

With a sigh, he left the dining room and headed up the stairs to collect Remy for his testing. The Professor had made it clear that while academics were important, they were not the reason Remy was here. He was here for help with his mutation. That meant the kid got to skip out on the first class or two of the day and instead get tested in the Danger Room with Jean. Scott would stay on hand in case he was needed.

He knocked for almost a full minute before opening the door and just walking in.

"Remy?"

A slight groan came from the twisted covers of the bed and Scott approached to find the young mutant shirtless and covered with sweat. He had light bruises forming across one arm and a line of stitches running down his back.

What in the world had he been up to?

He leaned in and shook Remy's shoulder. "Remy! Wake up."

Remy rolled over and stayed still for a moment before reaching up and touching the cloth on his face. He dropped his hands. "Oui?"

Scott couldn't help but notice the purple splotches and the web of fresh tiny scars interspersed with larger ones across Remy's left shoulder and down his side, terminating at the bottom of his ribcage in the front.

"Testing. You might want to shower first." Scott wanted to ask Remy what he'd been doing, but decided to wait and ask the Professor about it. Some of his injuries looked old, and only a very few looked like they'd happened this morning.

Remy nodded. "Oui. Une petit moment."

Just a moment, Scott translated. "Okay. Meet you by the elevator in ten."

Remy nodded again and Scott let himself out.

Scott led Remy down to the Danger Room. At first, he said various things to guide him, but Scott soon realized that Remy knew the walk cold. Or else he could see.

Either thought was scary.

Remy said nothing and his face below the blindfold was expressionless. Until they entered the Danger Room and stopped in front of Jean. Then he cocked his head slightly to the left and let a small smile quirk the corners of his mouth.

"Bon matin, chère."

Jean smiled at Scott with a look that said I got this, then answered Remy aloud. "Morning to you. Ready to go to work?"

Remy's smile faded slightly, then bloomed into a wicked grin. "Oui, chère."

He was dangerous or he was flirting, Scott realized. Either thought was scary.

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Jean shut out the worried thoughts of her husband and telekinetically nudged him toward the sidelines. He got the hint and went the rest of the way on his own.

"Okay, Remy," she began, all business-like. "First, how about you tell me what you can do."

He froze. The only way she could describe the sudden shift in Remy was to say he looked lost and scared and hiding it.

"What I can," he said softly, his voice thick. "How 'bout I tell y' what I do."

"That'll be fine." He had rattled her. She got her composure back. "You can't hurt anything in here."

He gave a slow, sad smile. "Oui, chère. I can."

That word again. Jean glanced nervously at Scott and cursed his shades. She couldn't see his eyes.

Remy suddenly flicked out a playing card. "De charge," he said as a whining bright pink glow took over the object in his fingers. The whining got louder. The color intensified. He flung the card away from him and it exploded. "Dat de main t'ing. Also kinesthetic sense." He flitted his fingers out to the side, as if he could point at it. "Feel t'ings move."

The words didn't mean much to her, though she was sure they eventually would. "Anything else?" she asked.

He cocked his head, thinking. Suddenly, a sharp, crackling buzz hissed against her telepathy.

She froze. The sound that woke her in the night.

"Dat de charge when I let it all out," he said. His mental signature completely vanished. "Dat when I pull de charm in." The top of his jaw tightened just below the fold, and she thought he was narrowing his eyes at her. "Don' get curious and I won' kick y' out."

"You're a telepath?"

He shrugged. "Non."

He was confusing. Jean glanced at Scott again, but she realized she was pretty much on her own with this. "And that's it?"

"Non."

He turned away from her. "Dat de part I c'n control."

She drew up her telekinetic shields around the perimeter of the room. This was the part that always came, that was what she really needed to see.

"Can you show me the other part?" she asked gently.

He crouched and touched the floor lightly with his fingers. Jean felt startled. She hadn't even noticed he was wearing gloves until he did that.

"Metal charges real well, chère," he finally said. "C'n y' cover it up? I shouldn' see it."

"Cover...?" Jean shoved aside her curiosity and called on the computer to load simulated walls covering the floor, the ceiling, and the walls around them. "A foot good enough?"

"Oui." Remy stood, shrugged back his shoulders. Then he slowly reached up and removed the blindfold. He dropped it on the floor and pulled out a deck of cards. "There not'ing to see?"

"Nothing," she confirmed.

He tossed the cards in the air and turned slightly. She could just see him opening his eyes.

The cards whined with pink energy and exploded in a cloud of cardboard. Jean blinked at the painful brightness. The dust had barely settled when the virtual walls she had simulated began to turn pink. He closed his eyes and reached out both hands. The whining grew louder.

"Jean!" Scott shouted a warning.

She put a telekinetic shield around the images.

"Maudit!" Remy cursed, still trying to draw back the charge.

Everything exploded.

The floor shook. The walls groaned. Remy groaned.

Jean looked up from where she had been covering her head.

Remy sat up, brushing off some of the debris (she'd forgotten the Danger Room made things so real), and rubbing at a new set of bruises along his right arm. "Jus' 'ad to be m' good arm," he muttered. He groped blindly for the discarded black cloth, then reached up and tied it tightly around his eyes.

"The charge," she said. She didn't know what else to say.

He turned sharply toward her and the crackling buzz started up again. It seemed angry to her. "Y' t'ink?"

She flinched.

Then he looked down, clenching his fists. "Don' tell dem. Dey'd all..." Waves of fear and rejection rolled toward her and she suddenly realized she was feeling emotion. "Dey'd be afraid."

"Does it affect everything you see?" she asked, gentle again.

He turned his head toward her again. "Like touchin' all over again," he said softly. Then he stood.

Remy took one last card out of his back pocket and whipped it viciously into the air, where it exploded in a flash of pink light.