She'd been saved by the dinner bell and a quick promise to Kurt that she knew prayer was a much, much, much more complicated thing than put in an order and get out an answer and then promptly scooted out the door as fast as she could hightail it.

"Wait for me, Rogue!" Kitty huffed along behind her.

And of course, she'd run smack dab--again—into the most annoying Cajun on the planet, then shriek when Kitty ran into her from behind with a whoomph and end up sandwiched between the two of them on the ground.

Rogue groaned. "Kitty get off me!"

"Just can't resist me," Remy said with a small laugh. Was that his arms around her waist?

"Kitty, off!" Rogue tried to push down on either side of him, but ended up with both hands on his chest.

Kitty scrabbled to get off of them. "Sorry."

Finally, the three had unentangled themselves.

"Any time, chérie," Remy said agreeably.

Rogue glared at him. "I'm sure. C'mon, Kit, let's go."

"Um...Isn't that a little impol—" The rest of her words were cut off sharply as Rogue yanked her on down the hallway towards the lunch room.

Remy chuckled behind them.

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By the time Rogue made it down to the dinner table, she was a walking storm cloud of immense proportions. Kitty skittered over to the other girls, like Jubilee and Theresa, while Kurt neatly ported over to a boys' table for "guy time"—"You mean to save your scrawny hide," Kitty muttered. Remy watched the spectacle with raised eyebrows and a bit of a smirk. It seemed he wasn't the only one ruffling the Rogue's feathers today.

Remy had other ideas. He managed to whisk Piotr away from a deeply suspicious and protesting Kurt on the grounds that he was teaching Piotr cards. A perfectly honest statement. You'd think the blue elf would believe him, especially with Piotr agreeing that it was all above board, instead of giving him the German evil eye. Smart elf, Remy admitted freely to himself.

Playing cards in a friendly setting was kind of like getting your hair done. All sorts of information could be gleaned during the process.

"So how long you been friends with the Chaton?" he asked while shuffling. A good warm-up question that spread a faint blush across the Russian giant's face. Remy could peg a crush a mile away.

Piotr picked up his first card and frowned at it. "We've all been friends since I arrived here. Katya was one of the first to welcome me."

Remy nodded to himself and in acknowledgement. He turned that over in his head as he dealt out, then examined his own hand.

Friendship was something hard to maintain in the Guild. When famille became a duty, relationships tended to sour. And competition, while healthy in the working environment, didn't tend to stay in the working environment. Loyalty was paramount; friendship, not so much.

He sighed. "Raise twenty." He pushed a handful of chips into the pile.

Piotr's frown only deepened. "How does this work exactly?"

Remy went over the betting rules again. Patience only worked in his favor if he wanted a decent playing partner. "What about Rogue? Why is she so uptight?"

Piotr looked genuinely surprised. "She has to always be careful with her strength. Just as I must measure mine."

And that was no answer at all.

"All mutants got to be careful when they're learning," he replied, somewhat testily. No one ever gave him any compassion and patience and leniency when he could explode a friend on sight. "You live with it, practice, get over it. I don't get it."

"Perhaps..." Piotr hesitated. "Perhaps you should ask Rogue."

Remy rolled his eyes. Like Rogue would ever want to give him a straight answer. For all they got off on a decent foot that first day in the medical bay, she seemed to take personal offense to being flirted with. Which seeing as she once had a boyfriend made absolutely no sense at all.

"I'm not sure I can help you," Piotr added.

Remy drew his first card. "Story of my life, mon ami."

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It would just figure Remy was a connoisseur of food. Rogue scowled at the umpteenth comment from the voice in her head.

"Whoa, Rogue! Take it easy." Kitty eyed her up with some concern, but Rogue didn't really notice.

She had other fish to fry.

Shut. Up. She narrowed her eyes, but the girls at her table could clearly see she wasn't looking at them.

At least, they rather hoped not with the way her eyes had taken on an unholy gleam.

"Rogue..." Jubilee started slowly.

Theresa worriedly waved at her to be quiet. Kitty chewed on her lower lip.


Swamp rat, I do not want to hear it. I like spaghetti. I like Storm's spaghetti.

Spaghetti, oui. A rather dubious expression followed by a shudder she could barely suppress from her own shoulders. Mais this ain't spaghetti.

Rogue growled. Just shut up! This is my head and my body and I'll eat whatever I please!

Never said you couldn't, he purred.


She blinked, startled, and found herself staring dazedly into Kitty's worried brown eyes about an inch from her own. Clearly, her friend had phased, as she was literally standing in the middle of the table.

"You okay?"

"I'm fine." Rogue picked up her fork, then yelped at the burning heat that spread through her fingers. She dropped the silver with a clatter. It was glowing pink.

"Duck!" One of the girls yelled.

Perhaps not quite quickly enough...

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Logan realized something was wrong about half a moment before the trouble and about half a minute too late. He lifted his head from the engine of his favorite car and sniffed something...burning?


He abandoned his wrench and launched himself toward the door and in the direction of the large dining hall. What could have caused that explosion? Even while his instincts roared to deal with the attack, his mind logically concluded it very well could be a student accident gone catastrophic.

But he didn't expect to see the entire student body standing around a smoking table and a smoking Kitty—who had thankfully had the presence of mind to phase the thing before it blew—by a very sheepish looking Rogue with...

Red and black eyes.

Logan growled.

"Sorry?" Rogue grimaced in embarrassment.

"I'm going to kill him." Logan changed course to go track down that sneaking, slimy, dangerous Cajun and dispatch him back to the swamp from which he came.

Kitty snorted. "Yeah, sure, everybody. I'm just fine, thanks for asking." Little smoke curls still rose from her tattered shirt and ashy hair.

Rogue burst out laughing.
It was only after a long, dark, warning glare from Logan in the background of Hank's frightening—though Remy was fairly certain it was supposed to be reassuring—speech on the ethics and generally trustworthiness of the Professor with other people's minds, and after a very long speech from Xavier himself on what areas of the mind he would limit himself to in his evaluation, that Remy grudgingly agreed to the mindscan.

And really, it was those big, shiny claws and wicked grin behind the oblivious Hank and Xavier that did it.

So it wasn't really Remy's fault if the Professor was more than a little startled at the profane thoughts running through Remy's head in French when he entered. Of course not. It was Logan's.

"Do try to...compose your thoughts a little, Remy," the Professor said mildly.

Remy crossed his arms and stared upward. The room had finally stopped spinning around him, but he wasn't about to compromise a real good glare by stumbling around like a drunk fool for getting up.

Hank muttered to himself while jotting down notes from all his equipment. Logan examined his claws. He certainly wasn't looking for any weak points though. Remy scowled. The Professor had closed his eyes and was frowning slightly.

"Something wrong?" Remy asked lightly.

"You have a unique way of organizing your thoughts." The Professor opened his eyes and reached out for a clipboard from Hank. "This seemed largely undisturbed from Rogue's absorption."

Remy looked at him oddly. "Organizing my thoughts?"

As I'm not a professional thief, I doubt I would be able to break the security on your private mental space.The Professor's voice echoed inside of his head, making Remy shout and nearly jump right off the bed. Perhaps you should be less paranoid.

Remy glared at the Professor.

Hank and Logan looked at him oddly.

"Is your wellbeing uncompromised?" Hank asked, concerned.

"I'm fine," Remy ground out.

Xavier merely looked highly amused.

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"Rogue!" Kitty shook her shoulder mercilessly. "Stop ignoring me!"

"Go away," Rogue pouted. It just wasn't fair. She had to be submitted to several thoroughly uncomfortable monitors that Hank (and she) could really do without, be manipulated into absorbing that... that...


Idiot swamp rat! She glared into her pillow.

Chère. Y' wound me.

She snorted indignantly. Remy may have been intelligent, but it was an evil, conniving intelligence that was scheming to drive her insane. Because after absorbing him and all his terrible thoughts toward herself (and she was not flattered by him fantasizing about her at all--Tell yourself anything, chère.), she was stuck with an inescapable, excessively interested Katherine Pryde trying to pry out all the details of his perverted mind from her.

Nope. Not fair at all.

"Rogue!" Kitty whined.

Rogue groaned and rolled over to throw her arms up in supplication to the ceiling. "Please! Spare me!"


Both Rogue and Kitty immediately started hacking and coughing at the rather inescapable smell of sulphur and brimstone. An enthusiastic furry blue face emerged from the black cloud of smoke, and Kurt asked loudly, "So what happened?" His tail twitched back and forth excitedly.

Kitty coughed again. "I don't know." Cough. Cough. Glare at Rogue. Cough. "And she won't tell me!"

"What?" He turned to Rogue, who threw back her head and groaned.

"If this is all the help I get from on high, I want a refund!" she shouted.

Kitty's eyes went round as saucers. "Oh, boy," she muttered.

Kurt's eyes went round too, then lit up with a holy fervor. "Rogue, that isn't how prayers work. Gott is not some magician who..."

How could she have forgotten? Never, never get Kurt wound up on a spiritual topic. Rogue covered her face with her pillow and groaned.

It just wasn't fair.

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"I believe I have enough data to begin my analyses," Hank began, mouth still open in speech.

"Merci!" Remy bolted from the bed, darted past the startled Wolverine, and made good his escape, closing the door behind him.

Logan looked at Hank. Hank looked at the Professor.

Professor Xavier laughed.
Kitty poked one finger against Remy's inert form. "I think he's out for the count," she said matter-of-factly.

"You think?" Rogue retorted.

Hank furrowed his brows.

"Awful fast," Logan said dryly.

"My exact conclusions, esteemed friend," Hank replied. Then he went scrounging around on the medical tray.

"If you even think about poking one more thing into me," Rogue threatened, but she didn't get to finish. Hank, seeing his opening, popped the pH monitor under her tongue and left her spluttering in anger.

"Please desist in your struggles," Hank admonished cheerfully. "It will be mere moments before I am able to compile the data resulting from this most fruitful enterprise."

Rogue glared at him, arms crossed, mouth closed around the hated paddle.

Kitty tried very hard not to giggle and Logan pointed the most unsympathetic grin in her direction.

When she was finally allowed to remove the thing, she glared at Hank again. "You meddling opportunist!"

"On the contrary," Hank began with a flourish, one eye and hand still on his clipboard of burgeoning notes, "I have been requested by your most astute person to assist you in the understanding and development of your full capabilities. In such circumstances, you have already entrusted me with the task of executing all necessary procedures to bring about this worthy goal."

She stared blankly.

Kitty leaned over and whispered in her ear. "So what was Remy thinking anyway?"

Rogue blushed dark red and glared at her friend.

Kitty wrinkled up her nose in confusion.

Logan interjected. "How soon before you get the results, Hank?"

Hank frowned, eyes on the notes. "I believe that twenty-four hours will be sufficient to extrapolate on the evidence. This was a rather successful enterprise, and we may be able to move ahead with theorizing on how best to determine which one of your powers will manifest."

Rogue, Logan, Kitty, and Piotr stared blankly.

Hank sighed longsufferingly. "Come back tomorrow."

"Oh," they said in chorus.

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Remy woke with a blazing headache with a big, blue, furry face about three inches away from his. Beast. He blinked. A large, disgustingly cheerful and enthusiastic Beast.

He groaned.

"You are awake, my good comrade," Hank stated—going against all the obvious signs of nonfunctionality right in front of him, as far as Remy was concerned. "Please tell me, what exactly was your experience when her epidermis first contacted yours?"

The ceiling was still shaking. He could barely hear over the pounding in his head.

"How 'bout I get back to you on that one, non?" Remy winced at the pain of speaking. "You feel like dimming the lights?"

Hank hummed thoughtfully. "Perhaps you can instead describe your current symptoms?"

"Spinning. Lights." Remy squinted up at Hank. "Lights."

Mercifully, the lights went dim. Remy sighed in bliss—until he noticed the quiet sounds of wheels approaching. Dieu, could it get any worse?

"Hank, let him rest for a few moments," Xavier said quietly. And then that gentle mental touch requesting admittance. "This would be a purely physical scan of your brain's reaction to her," Xavier said.

Purely physical. Remy fumed. He undergoes medical--medical!—nightmares to assist Rogue, with absolutely no gratitude and now they wanted to put him under a telepath too?

"It is part of the process," Hank pointed out. "The results of the monitors are not as complete without a brain scan."

If Remy didn't feel like roadkill, he'd just skip out from underneath them in the dim room, but of course, he did so he couldn't. He crossed his own arms.

"How 'bout not?"

Logan chuckled.

Wait! Monsieur Claws was still here?

"I'd hate to think you were backing out now?" Logan said wryly.

Remy started praying then.

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The nerve of him! Rogue fumed as she paced back and forth in her bedroom, trying desperately to tamp down on all the naughty images running through her head, the thoughts of how pretty she was, how much he wanted to kiss her, couldn't hurt that bad, non?, how he admired her assets and even her temper!

Rogue huffed and collapsed across her bed. How could she win with a guy that liked being laid out in the middle of the floor with her looming threateningly over him?

"Masochist," she muttered.

Oh, chère, you have no idea. The chuckle inside her turned her stomach inside out.

"Shut up!"

Another low chuckle. But this is fun.

Rogue growled. "I ain't having fun, you swamp rat!"

Somebody ought to teach you how, then, he replied then, nonplussed.

Another growl.

Another chuckle.

A girl phased through the door and pounced on her.

Rogue groaned and buried her face in her pillow. "Go away, Kit," she protested feebly, arm trying to shove back her misguided girlfriend.

"Resistance is futile," Kitty intoned, then proceeded to yank the pillow away from Rogue so her face went splat on the spread. "What was Remy thinking? I just got to know."

"Please, just please go away."

You know, you could just tell her. More definitely x-rated images.

"My eyes! My virgin eyes!" Rogue bemoaned.

Kitty blinked. "You know, this voices thing is just too weird."

Another chuckle.

"Shut up!"
It was time to take control of her life, her mutation, her powers. Rogue repeated this mantra to herself mentally several times. She was in control. This was her time.


She glared down at the self-help book in her hands, then launched it toward the door. However, instead of hearing a resounding—and satisfying—thump, she heard a sharp THWACK! and cringed at the sight of Logan's bewildered expression and the book falling to the floor from where she'd beaned him in the head.

"Rogue? What are you doing?"

"What are you doing?" she demanded. "I didn't hear you knock, jiggle the handle, nothing! What if I hadn't been decent?"

Logan gave her an odd look, but she just crossed her arms and huffed. Slowly, he stooped to pick up the book, then raised both eyebrows at the cover.

"'Powerful Words for Powerful People?'" He eyed her askance.

"It was a gift," Rogue bit out, absolutely not about to tell him that it had come in a package along with two hot romance novels signed rather cheerfully by burning with Pyro's name. She shrugged. "It's dumb."

"Ah." Logan set it on the edge of her desk and stepped a bit further away from it. "Well, just wanted to let you know we've got a couple volunteers for you to test your powers on."

"I'm not touching Kurt!" She had a good idea her friend would probably be open to the experience of having his life sucked out of him, but that didn't mean she was interested in suddenly turning blue and fuzzy and growing a tail, provided her new powers didn't kick in and simply modify his anatomy into something more...common.

Logan chuckled, catching the thought. "Nah, kid. Actually, we've got Piotr and that new kid."

Rogue stared at him in horror. "Remy?"

"We politely turned down Kitty, though she offered." Another chuckle. "Multiple times."

"Wait. The swamp rat?" Rogue persisted.

He gave her another funny look. "Didn't know you had a pet name for him."

"I don't! It's just..." She stopped. Just what? She shook her head. "He's a pain." Then she shook her head more emphatically. "I don't want him in my head."

"Well, sorry, kid," Logan said with a shrug, "but the Professor and Hank are already up for it. But if he gives you any trouble, I'll be happy to lay down some ground rules." His wicked grin told her he was more likely to lay Remy out on the ground, then give the rules.

Rogue scowled. "I'd rather do it myself."

"I don't doubt that, kid." Logan looked her over proudly. "Not a bit."

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Remy was laid out flat on his back on his bed, still on the phone after forty-five minutes of listening to his father's lecture. He tried counting to a hundred to help him get through. In Spanish. Since he already knew French, Nihongo, Cantonese, German, Russian, and Italian, he hadn't been left with a lot of options for his foreign language cred.

Uno, dos, tres, quat--

"Of course, I'm listening, Père. You want me to behave and not give the teachers any trouble. Which I'm not."

Of course, he wasn't. What no one knew, couldn't hurt them, n'est ce pas?

—ro, cinco, seis, siet--

"Oui, she called. I answered."

After twenty-five calls, but who's counting?

—e, ocho, nueve, diez, once, doce, tre--

"Sent Tante Mattie a big letter yesterday. And one for Mercy, before she asks."

What was it with girls and letters anyhow?

—ce, catorce, quince--

"Non, non. I had nothing to do with it."

Remy certainly hadn't gotten himself involved with blowing up that shed down the road. He had heard about some ambitious youngsters, including Jubilee and Hellion, and knew they were trying to see if using certain gifts in tandem could be explosive—which he wholeheartedly approved of—but he hadn't been involved at all. Not even a little bit.

Okay, so he had stated the amount of C4 necessary to actually blow said shed to kingdom come, but he hadn't yet known why they wanted to know, so he had plausible deniability on his side.

—dieciseis, diecisiete, dieciocho, diecinueve--

"Non! I wouldn't prank call Julian!" Now Belladonna might, but did Remy really look like he was about to go and get an Assassin and his fiancé in trouble? He didn't have a death wish. "I wouldn't! And I didn't!"

Someone knocked on his door.


"Père. I gotta go. It's for school. Non, I'm not making that up!" Remy groaned. Sometimes his reputation was a pain. "Oui, oui, I'll call you back. Bye!"


He breathed a sigh of relief and hit the door. After all, he had a date with his chère.

Hank's cheerful blue face met him on the other side. "Come, my most courageous of comrades! We have scientific Everests to ascend!"

"Uh...oui." Remy didn't have much choice though as one very heavy arm swung around his shoulders a tad too familiarly, knocking all the air out of his lungs.

"This way, my boy!"

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Rogue sat on one of the medical beds, arms crossed, glaring at the person sitting across from her. Stupid, stupid swamp rat, getting the Professor on his side, making friends and small talk with the big, blue doctor, keeping Kitty giggling and nearly swooning over him. Rogue's glower darkened.

Logan just chuckled at her.

"Hank, I'm really not sure—" She never had a chance.

"All right!" he exclaimed exuberantly. "All the monitors are operational and we are ready for this auspicious occasion."

Kitty rolled her eyes at Rogue, who giggled in response. Then scowled. She did not want to absorb Remy.

"Really, Hank, I don't—"

"Ah!" He waved Piotr in. "I was wondering when you would appear before us! Come in."

Piotr came politely, giving Rogue a small wave, and sat.

Rogue opened her mouth to talk and promptly shut it when Hank came forward with another monitor. "I am not sticking that in my mouth," she mumbled through half-closed lips.

"Nonsense," Hank said. "I must measure your alkalinity."

Remy gave her a cheeky grin, no doubt knowing just what she hadn't managed to say yet.

"Open up."

She shook her head, glaring.

"Just get on with it, please," Logan muttered.

"Ah, well." Hank gave up with a shrug. "Remy, please take her hand."

"It's what I'm here for, mon ami." He leaned forward to take Rogue's hand.

Despite all her squirming, Remy was always a bit of an operator and he managed to grasp her hand with his for just a moment.

She gasped, then glared at him.

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Remy's head was spinning or the room was—at about seventy miles an hour.

"Dieu!" She packed quite a punch.

"You no-good, thieving..." The epitaphs just rolled off her tongue for quite a few more minutes, but he couldn't really make them out through the ringing in his ears and the blurry vision.

Finally, he managed to make out a pair of red on black eyes staring at him from the most belle face he'd seen in a while.

"Love the eyes, chère," he slurred.

Rogue shrieked with rage.

He was pretty sure he was going to pass out. He tried to hold on, but then blackness took him.
Every once in a while, Remy found it supremely helpful to go over his current goals and remind himself of what would and would not advance them.

1. Finish school.

This was completely and vitally necessary as his adoptive father, Jean-Luc, had sent him here for that sole purpose. Staying alive being a basic prerequisite, it behooved Remy to be circumspect with just whose calls he took. And while the caller ID had been reading Boudreaux mansion all day, if he turned off the ringer and missed a call from either Jean-Luc or his Tante Mattie, he might as well order the casket and be done with it.

2. Delay marriage into family with homocidal, insane future brother-in-law.

Another high priority. Marrying Belladonna came with attractive benefits, very attractive—besides the fact that on good days, they were friends as well as lovers. Mais Julian... Well, both of them had come to the mutual agreement to hate each other's guts and avoid at all costs being actually related. While dying young would certainly contribute to the cause, letting Belle sweet talk him around her little finger would not.

Nope. Shouldn't answer the phone.

3. Win Rogue's affections.

He winced at this. While the goal had little personal benefit that anyone else would support—least of all, his family, he actually enjoyed the fiery southerner, whose companionship—and frankly, it was the dayjob—compared quite favorably with Belladonna's. Letting the phone continue to ring as a raging Rogue banged on his door did not bode well for his intentions.

Naturally, he went with goal three. (This is why his older brother, Henri, threw up his hands at him so often.)


"Finally!" declared a frustrated yell from outside his door and a frustrated exclamation in his ear.

The simultaneity was unsettling.


A stream of angry French made him wince.

"Désolè, ma chérie, mais tu frère..."

"So I should call your cell phone?" Belladonna demanded.

It would be a simple solution, but considering goal two, Remy hesitated to answer affirmative. "Maybe," he hedged. "Or we could set a time."

"D'accord," she agreed, considerably calmer. "When?"

And there went his plan to take control of his life back from the Guilds. And this wedding.

Remy scowled.

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Peace and quiet secured, Rogue stormed off to the haven of her room. Only when she opened the door, it didn't look like a haven. It looked like an ambush. Kitty, Kurt and Jubilee of all people were sprawled across various pieces of furniture: her desk, her chair, her bed. She growled.

"Hey there!" Kitty bounced from her perch on the bed. "We've been waiting for you for like forever."

Kurt gave her a curious look. "We heard you yelling."

"Loudly," Jubilee added.

"What are you doing in here?" Rogue asked Jubilee bluntly. Tact wasn't known as her strong suit, especially after the whole dumping Bobby debacle.

Jubilee grinned from atop her desk. "Well, we all know you've been in the med bay. I just want to know why."

Rogue rolled her eyes. Jubilee was a shameless—if generally harmless—gossip addict, but Rogue's life and mutation were not fodder for the mill. she held the door open and stood to the side. "With all due respect, out."

"Just a little, teensy bit of inf—"

"No," came the implacable reply.

Jubilee huffed but obeyed. Rogue shut the door.

Kitty leaned forward. "Well?"

"It's nothing important," Rogue said, trying to brush them off.

But Kurt snorted indignantly. "You expect us to believe discovering a way to turn your powers off is 'nothing,' leibling?"

"Oh hush." She plopped on the bed next to Kitty, who took to rubbing her shoulders soothingly. Kitty was actually remarkably good at that. "Hank just thinks it's currently as uncontrollable as the other and they're both random, which doesn't help things at all."

Put like that, it actually made Rogue feel a little despondent.

But Kitty immediately bubbled out, "Oh no. You're going to make the most of this 'cause I will make you." She turned Rogue's head and glared in her face to emphasize, drawing a giggle from Rogue. "You have the option of figuring out how to have any power you want. Permanently. Without hurting anyone. Don't you get it?"

Rogue stared wide-eyed. "I hadn't thought about it like that."

Kurt grinned at her, tail lashing back and forth over his head. "We have."

"Really? Wh—" But she fell suddenly silent, thinking over the very thought. Any power. And her own would be off when she used them. "But I mean, Jimmy's the only one that's been passing out samples, if you know what I mean."

Kitty bounced up and down excitedly. "We can get more. I'm sure of it. Quick and painless."

Rogue giggled. Any power. Any power but her own.

"I like it."

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"Oui, oui, right away," Remy reassured his angry fiance. "I promise I'll get you the schedule...Oui. I haven't forgotten to write. First letter went out this morning...I am not lying." The idea! Belladonna was one of the few people that always knew when he was. "I'm not! Chère. The letter is in the mail." Another long pause. "Oui. Bonsoir." He closed his cell with a click and sighed. Loudly.

Piotr had returned and was waiting patiently with his cards. Remy was grateful it was Piotr and not one of the other boys teasing him for being so whipped.

Of course, none of their girlfriends backed up their lectures with knives, guns, and poisons.

Remy sat forward again and glanced over his own hand. "Now. Where were we?"
The phone rang in Remy's room. He was one of the few students with a personal line.

Piotr looked up interestedly as Remy continued to ignore it in favor of their card game.

"Aren't you going to answer that?" asked the gentle giant.

"Non." Remy viewed his cards impassively. "Raise ten."

"Why not?"

Piotr wasn't much of a multi-tasker and Remy resigned himself to explaining so they could get on with the game.

"It's fifty-fifty whether it's Belle or Julian," he said, "making those odds far too high for another death threat before noon. And if it is Belladonna and I've ignored her fifteen times already, it's a hundred percent chance I'll get a death threat no matter which one is calling."

"Death threats?" Piotr looked alarmed and set down his cards, much to Remy's dismay. "Should we tell the Professor?"

Remy waved one hand dismissively. "Chalk it up to the dayjob. Let's just play cards already."

"But this could be serious," Piotr insisted, clearly out of the loop on what was and was not to be taken seriously once a man made plans to marry into a family of Assassins with a two out of four approval rating and a hefty temper from any of them.

Remy eyed Piotr skeptically. "If it's Julian, he's serious. If it's Belle, she ain't." He shrugged. "What else is new? Game?"

Piotr frowned but picked up his cards.

"The Hallelujah Chorus" played a refrain in Remy's head.

Kitty's head suddenly appeared through the door. "Piotr? The Professor said he'd like to talk to you for a minute."

Remy heaved a loud sigh while Piotr excused himself politely and Kitty giggled. Remy scowled. He absolutely hated not finishing a game.

Then he cocked his head appraisingly. "Chaton."

"Oh no. I gotta go." She backed out with a warding gesture and took off after Piotr. "Don't you even think about it!" she called out behind her.

Remy sighed and crossed his arms to stare at his cards. Now what?

The phone rang--again.

He groaned.

But he still didn't pick it up.

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Rogue yelled in sheer frustration at the seventeenth time the phone in the suite below hers started ringing.

"That drat boy needs to answer his phone!" She was trying to do her homework. She was trying to concentrate. And it just kept ringing and ringing and--

There it was again.

"That's it!" Rogue threw down her pen like a gauntlet and marched out of her room to give whatever boy occupied the ringing room a Mississippi-River-sized piece of her mind.

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"Just answer the phone!" Rogue yelled for the fifth time through his bedoom door.

"Non!" Remy shouted back. "You don't even know who's on the other end!"

"Blast it, swamp rat!" She banged her fist on the door. "Turn off the ringer then!"

"Non!" He crossed his arms sullenly.

Good thing he was a Thief, he mused as she fiddled with the lockpick again. His door would have fallen to her efforts already if he hadn't made... enhancements.

The phone stopped ringing.

All other sounds ceased as they held their breath to see if it would last.

His cell phone rang.

Remy groaned.

Rogue yelled. "Pick up the phone!"

It was Belladonna. It had to be. And by now, he was so, so dead.
So this is how everything started. Rogue got Cured and became a walking Cure with about as much control over it as she had over her skin. There was just this one small glitch in the whole thing that worked in her favor.

It was touch-based.

"So only one power activates at a time?" she asked Hank, wanting to be absolutely certain.

"Indubitably," was his unhelpful reply. "However, I must emphasize that the selection process for which mutation will activate is quite randomized. Until we have done more analysis, it would still be prudent to only engage in physical contact under controlled circumstances."

Rogue looked at Logan. Logan looked at the Professor.

The Professor cleared his throat and asked, "Could you please clarify that."

Hank generally spoke at some level above normal English, so merely sighed before trying again. "We do not know yet what is going to happen when you touch somebody, either absorption or suppression, so—"

"Don't touch?" Rogue drawled.


Rogue sighed. "Well, nothing else is new, so I best be getting. Homework, you know." She was now in her first year of college, a combination of study at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters and correspondence courses. She hoisted her backpack and moved out of the medical bay.

Only to run smack dab into the most annoying Cajun on the face of the earth.

"Blast it, swamp rat!" He'd knocked her flat onto her bum and she glared at him, unwilling to accept his proffered hand. "I swear, you're stalking me," she muttered. He'd been showing up everywhere.

"Aww, chère." Gambit smirked down at her. "You wound me! I could think you didn't like me."

"I don't." Rogue picked herself up off the floor and brushed herself off.

He helped himself to her backpack before she caught him and grabbed her around the waist. "I'll walk you back to your room."

"Give that back!" She lunged for the backpack. And missed.

She winced, expecting impact with the hard floor, but she was drawn up short by a warm hand on her wrist. She growled at him.

He kept grinning that infuriating grin.

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Remy just loved this girl's fire. Even if it was usually aimed at him with the thought of incinerating him alive with the nonmanifesting borrowed powers of the late Scott Summers. Actually, especially if it was aimed at him.

But he wasn't at all masochistic. She wouldn't actually hurt him.

At least, he didn't think so.

Rogue yanked her wrist out of his grip. "Thank you," she said stiffly in that thick Southern accent he liked so well, "but I don't need your help."

He chuckled. "Of course, ma chérie."

She glared at his sarcasm.

"Now, where's your room?" He was still holding her backpack hostage, and he swung it easily from one hand.

Rogue scowled at him and lunged for it again, a more restrained motion this time.

He sidestepped and started walking it up the stairs. "This way?"

"You good-for-nothing, troublesome, pesky,"—she stomped up the stairs after him—"skirt-chasing, pain-in-the-butt swamp rat!"

He waited for her at the top of the steps. "You done?"

She reached the top of the staircase, arms crossed over her chest, white streaks framing angry emerald eyes. She smiled. "Nope."

She jumped him.


He hadn't expected her sudden weight thrown at him at high velocity, with a sharp knee aimed straight for his stomach, and a bony elbow planted in his ribs, and an arm twisting into his while the other hand reached for the strap. They went rolling and then she pinned him squarely, using one of Logan's infamous holds.

"Not bad, chère," he said, grinning, once he could catch his breath.

She sniffed at him. "I'd quit while I was behind, Cajun."

Then she snagged her backpack, scrambled off him, and sashayed down the hall.

Remy laughed, watching the sway in her step—and hips. Not bad at all.
Fritz, chapter 5 08/10/2010
Hank eyed the four suspiciously. "Kitty, did you just phase into me, after everything that occurred with Rogue?"

"What do you mean, Mr. McCoy?" she asked, eyes wide. "I'm all the way over here."

Three solemn nods joined hers.

Then Rogue leaned forward. "So what's up, doc? Y'all've been lookin' long enough."

"Well..." He came forward excitedly. "I believe that the Cure in your bloodstream was integrated into your mutation."

Rogue stared at him and his gleefully enthusiastic expression as the words tried—and failed—to sink in. "What?"

Kurt and Kitty moved in closer to stand beside her. Piotr crossed his arms at Hank, trying—and succeeding—at looking protective.

"What exactly does that mean?" Piotr asked.

Hank grinned from ear to ear. "It means that Rogue can absorb other mutants directly from a source containing their DNA. And that now, Jimmy's gift of suppression is one of her own."

Rogue's mouth fell open and she dropped her arms from where she had crossed them.

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Remy studied the little scene with great curiosity. It wasn't like he'd never had anyone who cared for him the way these three obviously cared for Rogue. It was that they were his own age. He'd only had tough, almost cutthroat, competition with people his own age—even Bella.

The doctor's words seemed infinitely less important than that unique undisputable fact: that these four friends were extremely close and really were offering moral support.

He slipped out of his chair, silent as a Thief.

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Rogue glared at Hank. "You mean now I'm a total freak."

"No. Not at all." Hank backtracked uncertainly and glanced between Kurt and Piotr ready to clobber him and Kitty rubbing Rogue's arm sympathetically.

He racked his brain for words. "I mean now that we've proven your body can separate the absorption of mutation and psyche, perhaps we have the key to your control. Yes." He thought that over. "That's what I mean."

Her jaw fell open yet again. "You're kidding, right?"

"No. But it would be nice to have more formal evidence..." He looked Kitty over appraisingly.

"Oh no! I don't think so!" Rogue got to her feet with haste, grabbed her friends' arms, and made tracks.

"Wait! I have so many ideas, Rogue!"

Kitty laughingly phased the four of them through the door, surprised to feel more energy drain than that and she glanced around, dropping the phase, and ran straight into Logan.

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Logan was suddenly catapaulted forward by the weight of three guys and two girls as they fell into him from behind. He landed in a tangle of all the young mutants he'd been keeping at bay.

"Whoa! Watch it!" cried Jubilee, back for her scoop.

"Yikes!" Someone jumping out of the way.

A lithe, agile figure made it around the corner before Logan even looked up, but the rest of them were very much in evidence.

"Kitty," he said warningly.

Kitty grimaced. "Sorry guys. Gotta run!"

The four bamphed away in a cloud of odoriferous sulphur and brimstone.

"Oh my goodness! Who had rotten eggs?" someone asked.

Logan had just about had it.

He flung open the door into the med bay. "What did you tell her?" he demanded.

Hank looked mildly perplexed. "I'm not exactly sure," he said, eyes fixed on a clipboard in his hands. "I'm sure I didn't get down his stats," he muttered.

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Remy settled comfortably and quickly into his new room, delighted with his plan of leaving the medical stats instead of offering up his body in any way to that mad scientist.

He liked this place, he decided. Oh, the adults were going to be difficult to deal with. He could see that. But what a small price to pay.

Remy strolled out into the hallway, whistling under his breath, looking for bright green eyes and white on brown hair and thought to himself, "Things are finally looking up."

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Harry looked up from the bar as a harried Logan stalked in. "Kids again, huh?"

Logan glared at him, settled on his favorite stool, and said, "Just get the usual."

Harry complied with a grin.
Fritz, chapter 4 08/10/2010
"Is Rogue okay?" The St. Croix twins were next.

Logan wondered when it would ever end but glared at them before saying, "Rogue is not receiving visitors right now."

Nicole and Claudette exchanged looks.

"So it's really bad," one of them said.

"No. It's not," Logan replied.

The other one gave him a skeptical look while Shiro and Julian Keller approached from behind.

"We heard Rogue was down here," Shiro said with a concerned look on his face. "Is she all right?"

Julian nodded in agreement.

Logan raised one hand, claws drawn. "She's fine. As long as all these concerned interferers stay out of the room."

Julian gave him a once-over. "I think he's big enough to practice on."

Shiro clapped a hand over his friend's shoulder right as Nicole and Claudette turned to him in horror. Recently Julian's telekinesis couldn't lift a paper clip from the floor, but he could certainly decimate the floor.

"Don't even think about it," Shiro whispered, apparently forgetting that Logan could hear it quite easily.

Julian shrugged. "Never let me have any fun, huh?"

"But what's wrong with her?" The twins returned to the important subject in stereo.

Logan forgot how perniciously insistent those two could be and stifled a groan. "She's fine."

"Yeah," Tabitha Smith said, walking up, crossing her arms, and tapping her foot. "And that's precisely why she's in the medical bay, right?"

The twins, Julian, and Shiro gathered around the generally explosive Tabby.

"Do you kids ever grow up?" Logan finally demanded.

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Rogue waited patiently, counting the second hand ticks on the big clock on the wall.

Okay, so maybe patience wasn't her specialty. She sighed and glanced over at Remy, who would have been impossible to find if she hadn't known where he was already, he was being so quiet. Then she listened to Kitty and Kurt debate over everything from the nonexistent decor in here to what exactly was wrong with Rogue's power.

"Please keep it down," Piotr reminded them yet again.

Kitty immediately dropped her voice to a whisper.

Kurt rolled his eyes.

Piotr glanced at Rogue as if to ask if he could resort to stronger measures.

She shrugged and returned to more important things. "Hank!"

"Yes?" he asked, not looking up from his petri dish.

"When we goin' to hear your theory?" she asked.

"In just one more minute..."

Rogue crossed her arms and huffed, blowing one strand of white hair upwards and then watched as it slowly fell back again.

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Remy watched Rogue, enjoying the view as she crossed her arms and pushed certain assets more into focus. She was a pretty girl, with that distinctive white stripe running through her hair, with those bright green eyes, with that lovely--

Shut up, Remy, he told himself firmly.

He was not here to find another girl, though preferably one less high-maintenance than Bella Donna and sans the whole bona fide insane future brother-in-law and it would certainly be nice to drop their rather gruesome day jobs too... Remy let his eyes run over Rogue again. Yep. That was one belle fille.

Kitty put a finger over her lips, attracting his attention.

He watched as the four friends held a quick, whispered conference. Piotr grinned, Kurt's eyes gleamed, Rogue laughed softly—he liked that sound a lot, and Kitty crouched down and eased toward her target, presumably the grinning, humming big blue doctor who was reading his notes through tiny glasses then scratching down more.

Remy watched the Chaton with undisguised interest as all that excessive, bubbly cheeriness turned into almost professionally bridled glee and she approached Hank by moving through things, keeping well out of his sight.

Oh, the thoughts that provoked!

Jean-Luc would just love this girl, her unique power. Imagine going through walls, security systems, locks, doors... Remy's eyes practically glowed with the thought. He should seriously teach this girl to thieve.

She reached her target, slowly circled around behind Hank, then stood up, and stepped into him.

"Oh my stars and garters!" he yelled.

Remy blinked for a few seconds. The beast wore garters? He glanced him over but noticed no signs of that purely feminine garment. He eyed the doctor with deep suspicion. No man, furry or otherwise, should use that word paired with a possessive.

Hank looked around for the now completely absent Kitty that sat innocently buffing her nails on the corner of Rogue's medical bed.

"What's wrong, Hank?" Piotr asked, the mirror of concern.

Remy wanted to just burst out laughing as four pairs of patently concerned, puzzled, or nonchalant eyes settled on Hank, much to the doctor's bewilderment.

"Y'all figure out what's up yet?" Rogue drawled, once again bringing the topic back to her mutation and the purpose of her exam.
Fritz, chapter 3 08/10/2010
Rogue was definitely feeling distressed. Did everyone have to come in and check on her?

"That's it." Logan stomped across the room, brushed Piotr aside into Remy, and opened the door. "No one else in or out." He released his claws.

Remy's red eyes widened in surprise.

Logan slammed the door shut.

Piotr turned back to Kurt and Kitty with a longsuffering sigh and reverted to normal human flesh. Rogue could see him thinking and then deciding that she wasn't up to dealing with the pair, leaving the job to him, of course.

"Katya," he began.

Kitty let loose an indignant stream. "Of course, I'm not distressing her, Piotr. She's my friend! I'm here to offer moral support."

Or moral temptation. Rogue rolled her eyes. At the moment, she would just love to seriously clue Kitty in with a two by four.

"Of course, you're distressing her," Kurt interjected. "You're the reason she's in here!"

"Please!" Hank held up a furry blue hand. "I require peace for this exam. If you will all behave, I will not remove you from the premises."

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Remy immediately pondered what ways he could misbehave, but then thought better of it. He didn't really feel like being impaled on those claws of Logan's. Deciding that tangling with a Russian sculpture probably wasn't the best idea, he removed himself to the only chair in the area that didn't look like an implement of torture and dropped bonelessly into it. He stayed still, slouched, waiting for memory of his presence to vanish.

A Thief secret that had always served him well was that silence and stillness made you furniture. Unless someone else wanted the chair. And if that someone else happened to be as big a business partner of his Pere's as Freddie Dukes was, you moved. Unless you wanted to permanently become furniture.

He watched with interest as Kitty or Katya or whatever her obliviousness was named went at it with Mr. Tail, then paused to bite down on her lower lip any time Tin Man turned disapproving.

"Piotr! I'm not bothering her, I swear," she insisted again, a little shine in her eyes.

Piotr hesitated.

Remy wanted to roll his eyes. Young love. The drama. The silliness. The stupidity. He scowled instead. He didn't believe in young love. Not if it got you gently kicked out from your family until you were willing to work out your differences with a bona fide insane future brother-in-law. He was nineteen years old, for Pete's sake. (Not the Russian Pete over there.) What did he know about love?

He sent a furtive glance in Rogue's direction.

She was calmly allowing Hank to draw something out with a needle. Afterward, he handed her a cotton swab, which she used on the inside of her mouth.

Genetic testing.


If Stormy hadn't sworn he was just in here for a physical (somewhere in the middle of that whole I'm-gonna-kick-your-butt-you-good-for-nothing-scoundrel thing), he would just blow off the door and be done with it.

He winced.

And probably face Wolvie's claws...

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Rogue glanced nervously towards their guest, Remy. He seemed to be almost falling asleep in the only decent chair the room had over there. He was so still and quiet. She sighed. Unlike certain friends of hers.

"Why y'all in here anyway?" she demanded, cocking both hands on her hips at the trio. She raised an eyebrow.

"To make sure you're okay, of course." Kitty snorted. As if it was obvious.

Kurt shrugged and sat down next to her. "I know you don't like being in here, Leibchin. Thought I'd make sure you were comfortable."

Piotr merely looked upward longsufferingly then pointedly at the two of them. Everyone knew that Kurt and Kitty were best friends when they agreed and quite the opposite when they didn't. Something about all that unbridled enthusiasm. He shared a grin with Rogue. Between the two of them, they kept the pair in line.

Rogue smiled as she rolled down her sleeves. "Well, that was sweet of you. But I am fine, and now we just have to get an answer out of Hank that makes sense."

Hank's head immediately popped up over the counter he was working at. He looked a little panic stricken. "I will be certain to inform you of the entirety of my hypothesis in a moment."

Meaning he didn't want her to sic the enthusiastic duo on him.

Rogue snickered.

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Logan guarded the door by simply standing there, claws drawn. In the last ten minutes, he'd sent Bobby packing, threatened three new puncture marks in Sam, glared at Sam's sister Paige, told off Jimmy who had taken to Rogue like to his brand new momma, and informed Jubilee that the 'scoop' was just gonna have to wait.


This is what he was reduced to. Logan sighed. Babysitter.