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."


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.


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.


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."

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