Down-Home Charm Photo Album Songbank Fan-Fiction History Books Fan Art Miscellania Links
Fan-Fiction >
Post-Onslaught >
"Wild Cards"

Wild Cards

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26

This story is unfinished.

Wild Cards

Part 25

"For the last time, Hank -- I'm fine."

Reine did her best to glare at Beast, but the full effect was lost as he was busily checking her pupils.

"Indeed? You were unconscious for the better part of a day, are currently suffering from bouts of severe pain due to undetermined causes, and you are 'fine'. It therefore appears that there must be some obscure definition of the word with which I have heretofore been unacquainted. Kindly enlighten me."

"Look -- we've been over this before, when Jean and Elizabeth decided to do their version of the Spanish Inquisition on the Astral Plane, " she replied, exasperated.

"I am fine. It's just that this leftover link, fragment, or whatever the hell you want to call it, is causing some weird overlap in our powers. I know what he feels, he knows what I think... and by the way," she grimaced,  "I'm thinking it's time for his next shot of painkillers."

Hank checked his watch.

"Quite -- pardon me..."

Beast proceeded to fill a syringe with medication, and turning to Remy's bed, injected it into his IV port.

The Cajun was resting now. After finally rousing from his coma some hours previously, he had fallen into a natural, healing sleep. He would likely wake again soon, and though a conscious Gambit made for a cantankerous patient, Beast was looking forward to the event.

Of course, once he's able to stay awake for more than about ten minutes at a time, I'll likely wish that I had simply elected to keep him under sedation until he's fully regained his health...

Reine chuckled, picking up on his thoughts.

"Don't think so loud, Hank -- laughing hurts. And just to warn you, I think you'll be paying for that when he wakes up later."

"And so I shall -- as I had just privately observed," Hank replied with a grin.

Reine bit back a laugh, drawing her arms across her body protectively.

"I thought I just told you not to do that..."

"In point of fact, you didn't -- verbal repartee was not mentioned whatsoever."

"Pain was."

"True -- but then, it has been observed that laughter is potent medicine. I thought it might do you good," Henry replied mischievously.

"Next you'll be telling me it will build character," she grumbled, "Trust me, it's too late."

"I'll take that under advisement," Beast said with a smile, then his expression turned serious.

He wasn't quite sure how to raise the subject he wanted to discuss -- especially given how much Gambit disliked the idea of medical tests on general principles -- but he felt it needed to be said. What had happened -- and was still happening -- with the twins' power was, to his knowledge, unique. The scientist within him was unable to resist the opportunity for discovery -- especially since there was no way of knowing how long the phenomenon would last.

"I find it fascinating that the two of you are able to communicate in this way, however rudimentary it may be -- especially since conventional telepathy requires some level of consciousness," he said carefully, "Elizabeth's hypothesis of the link acting as some kind of mental conduit between you is most intriguing..."

"That's one word for it," Reine sighed, "though not the one I'd choose -- or the one Remy would choose, for that matter..."

"So which word would you choose?"


Not to mention inconvenient...

She felt her brother's grim agreement at her thought, and responded to it.

Don't worry about me, Remy -- just concentrate on yourself now, okay?

Noting her detachment and preoccupied expression, Hank guessed what was happening. No stranger to the signs of telepathic conversation, he realized the two of them had some kind of exchange going on. He waited until he determined it was over before asking his next question.

"Do you have any level of control over what is passed between you?" he asked.

"I think so. I've been trying to filter out some of his feelings -- namely, pain -- and it seems to be having an effect..."

"And Remy?"

Reine cocked her head for a moment, as if listening, then relayed her brother's response.

"As far as I can tell, he thinks he does -- or at least he thought he did when he was awake that time..."

"So most likely there is a dependency on the current state of consciousness, which is logical. The subconscious mind may be able to perceive what is necessary, but is not the seat of control... the phenomenon will require closer study."

Seeing his chance, Henry took advantage of it, proceeding gently.

"I would hope to persuade you both to undergo additional tests later to... "

Reine raised one hand in the air, halting Hank, and brought the other to her temple, massaging away some of the vehemence of Remy's reaction, as his anger and dismay stabbed at her mind.

Would you relax, please ? You don't have to give me a migraine to make your point, she thought, annoyed.

Remy's thoughts were apologetic now, but no less upset, and she could almost make out words coalescing from his feelings, just like the last time. If she figured right, he was about to wake up again. She debated about whether or not to let Hank know, then decided against it -- she and Remy would make that decision together...

"I understand, Hank -- we both do -- but one thing at a time. Right now, let's just concentrate on getting him better."

"Of course," Hank agreed, "But as you know, the opportunities for study that this phenonemon presents are considerable. I only ask that you might consider permitting it."

"I can't make any promises, Hank -- but we'll think about it."

Just then, there was a faint groan from the bed, and both Reine and Hank turned to see a pair of half-open red eyes regarding them groggily, but warily.

Hank grinned.

"Ah, Monsieur LeBeau -- good of you to join us, " he said, as he proceeded to give the injured thief a thorough examination.

After completing the exam, Beast straightened.

"Well, you'll be pleased to know everything is looking good. Neurological checks are normal, and there are currently no signs of infection. I shall be checking at regular intervals throughout the day, to monitor your progress. Do try and get as much sleep as possible -- it will aid the healing considerably, as well as my patience in dealing with your impatience," Hank said.

"Now if you'll excuse me, I have to do some preparatory work for some experiments with Rogue this afternoon. Once she was assured that you were both going to be fine, she was quite adamant about commencing a serious investigation of her powers as soon as possible -- and I don't wish to keep her waiting more than necessary. I've noticed it tends to make her rather testy -- something which should serve as an incentive in your recovery, my friend," he continued, addressing Gambit's prone form.

"Not to worry, Hank -- her temper's enough to put the fear of God in anyone," Reine grinned, "and by the way, he wants to know 'when the hell he can be rid of these damned tubes'."

Hank rolled his eyes -- some things never changed.

"It depends. If he means the ventilator, in twenty-four hours or even today, depending on how his lungs have recovered; if he means the central line for the dialysis, about a day after that, if his condition continues to improve; if he means the IVs, once we've chased his fluids up sufficiently and administered all necessary antibiotics; if he means the Foley, that will have to wait until he's both weaned off the dialysis and is physically able to use more traditional methods of expelling his waste."

"Well, that answers that question," Reine said dryly, wincing as her brother mentally began a symphonic display of cursing. It was a good thing it wasn't audible -- the floors would have blistered.

"I'll be off now -- if you need me, I'll just be in the next room," Beast said.

"Thanks, Hank."

Once the blue-furred scientist left the room, Reine turned to her brother.

"Sounds like you're going to be laid up for a while, Remy -- we'll just have to make the best of it."

#We can't -- you got somewhere else you need to be# he thought firmly.

#I can't leave now -- not with you like this#

#An' you can't jus' wait aroun' for me -- dere's too much riding on you...#

#I know my responsibilities -- I can spare a few days. That should leave plenty of time, and I can still work with an amended timetable#

#But not as safely...#

#No, not as safely -- but I can manage. Besides -- I can't tackle the job if I'm not up to it physically. And as far as we know, until you're at least partially recovered, I won't be. It'll just have to wait...#

After bidding Jean good-bye, Rogue began to make her way back to the Medlab. She had an appointment with Beast, and if she hurried, she might have time for a quick visit with Remy.

Relieved as she had been yesterday when Reine had awakened and confirmed that he was mentally all right, it hadn't been enough. Rogue had stubbornly refused to leave his side until he opened his eyes. After he had, it was only his insistence (relayed through his sister) that she get some rest herself -- and the knowledge that Storm would take her place -- which had prompted her to go.

When she did, however, it wasn't to go to sleep -- the roller coaster of emotions she had been on had left her too keyed up for that -- but to make arrangements. Arrangements with Henry to study her power -- and with Jean, to study herself, in hopes of finding some way of controlling that power... or at least discover what was stopping her from controlling it.

Rogue had wanted to get started immediately, but Jean made it clear that their investigation would have to be gradual. To that end, their first session or two would be very basic, essentially letting the telepath orient herself and become familiar with Rogue's core mind, before they actually attempted to begin work on her problem. The southerner had been nervous about opening herself up this way -- but if there was anyone she would trust in this, it was Jean.

Ah'm almost glad that Charles ain' around foh this, or else he'd probably insist on doin' it himself. Ah know he tried, but I jus' never felt ... comfortable ... with him in mah mind. Heck, maybe that was part o' the problem...

Before they had begun, Jean had taken the time to thoroughly discuss with her exactly what what would and could be done in this first session, encouraging Rogue to set many of the boundaries herself. After their talk, Rogue's nerves had eased considerably, which made the whole experience easier for both of them.

In fact, everything had gone quite smoothly, though Phoenix had seemed a little concerned afterward. When Rogue called her on it, Jean allowed that she was a little surprised at the amount of psychic debris within Rogue's mind.

"But I suppose I should have expected it," Jean had admitted, "Given what we know about the nature of your power, there should be quite an amount of psychic scarring. And there is -- but there are some rather extensive blocks as well. My concern is where those came from. It's likely that a good portion are remnants from your -- problem -- with Carol, and I can see some of the areas the Professor had been working on. But because I'm more or less picking up where he left off, the problem is I don't know exactly what he did -- or why. If you'll allow it, I'd like to see if I can access some of his records on the work he did with you. That should give me a better idea of exactly what's already been done, and how best to proceed."

Rogue had nodded hesitantly.

"All right, " she had conceded, "but just so ya know ... there's ... things ... in mah past that Ah told Charles, but that he promised me he didn' make any records of. An' I can tell ya some of the stuff you are gonna see there might ... well... "

"Shock me?" Jean had asked with a wan smile.

"Rogue, I might not know much about your history -- but I do know a thing or two about Mystique and the Brotherhood. If there wasn't anything that might be considered shocking or upsetting from your past that I don't already know about, I'd be surprised. You proved yourself a long time ago -- as far as I'm concerned, your history isn't an issue, except insofar as it might be related to your problem."

"Well, excuse me foh havin' doubts," Rogue had said shortly, "but given the whole situation with Remy, Ah was under the impression that history must be an issue -- if not with you, then with some o' the others. An' since it is, I jus' wanted ta warn ya about what you're probably gonna find."

"We're not discussing Gambit right now," Jean had replied sharply.

"We're talking about you, Rogue. For lack of any better term, you and I now have a doctor-patient relationship. Anything I discover about you while we're working together is confidential. Unless it affects our progress, what I do or do not feel about your background is irrelevant. What others may or may not feel about your background matters even less."

"What about Scott?" Rogue had challenged.

"What about him?"

"Ah trust ya not to tell anyone on purpose, like -- but with the link ya have with Scott, how can Ah be sure that he won't find out?"

"Rogue, I have a mental rapport with him -- that does not mean that we're in constant mental communication. Our link is very channeled. He doesn't have full access to my mind any more than I have full access to his. Could he stumble across confidential information in my mind? Yes, he could -- but not without me knowing about it. So it really comes down to a simple question -- Rogue, will you trust me?"

She had taken her time to reply, but when she had, there was no mistaking her conviction.

"Yes -- Ah will. I do."

Jean had smiled, and squeezed Rogue's gloved hand.

"Trust is always the first step -- and the hardest. I don't think I need to tell you we have our work cut out for us -- control issues are always difficult. There may be times when I may have to pull you along to get the results we need, but there's only so much I can do. What you can do is what will be key in the work we do together. I won't push you -- but you will have to push yourself when the time comes. And that's never easy..."

That's never easy...

An don't I know it, Rogue thought, as she continued to walk toward the mansion from the boathouse.

Lettin' Jean in on mah past is gonna be one o' the hardest things Ah've ever done, right up there with leavin' Momma and Reenie. Ah didn' even tell the Professor everything, an' he thought havin' a few kills from sniper duty on Momma's missions was bad enough -- Lord knows what he thought about everything else he found in my head. Ah know Jean said that everything would stay between us, an' Ah trust her. But I don't see how we can keep it that way -- not if I'm ever gonna get anywhere with this. Somehow, Ah just know that it's gonna have ta come out. An' if tellin' Jean's going to be bad, how much worse is tellin' Remy going to be?

Mind you, it was a question as to how much of her past Remy already knew about. Due to his line of work prior to joining the X-Men, he would have to have been reasonably well acquainted with the Brotherhood -- on a couple of occasions, Mystique had actually employed Guild members, though not from the New Orleans chapter -- and the kinds of operations they had usually undertaken. He had to at least suspect that her role might have been more active than she had let on -- hell, she'd just about told him as much when he had made his own confession.

But even if Remy did suspect, for reasons she was not able to understand, he still seemed to idealize her. She had learned that much with their kiss in Israel. Seeing herself through his eyes had been nothing short of a sublime experience -- moving, humbling, and terrifying all at once.

And that was a large part of the reason she had run away from him when he had needed her most.

Certainly, the flashes she had seen from his memories of the Massacre reminded her all too well of some of the work she had done with Mystique, and that was another part of why she had fled. But after Israel, what she simply could not come to terms with were Remy's feelings -- not simply because of their depth, but because they were unconditional. And that had scared her to the bone...

Never in her life had anyone come to care for her so deeply with no strings attached. Raven and Irene did truly love her, she knew, but that had come with time. They had originally taken her in because Destiny had foreseen that she would become powerful -- an asset to their plans. The fact that they had come to think of her and love her as their own child was, for lack of a better term, an accident. And even that was far better than her birth mother, who had almost never shown her any kind of affection unless there was an audience -- or rather, a witness -- present.

She was accustomed to having affection as part of a trade-and-barter system -- it was all she had known in her life, and as such, she felt comfortable with it. She knew the rules.

Remy had essentially thrown them out the window -- and she hadn't known how to deal with it.

She still didn't.

If you ever want ta grow, sometimes you've gotta break out of your comfort zone -- an' being comfortable with bein' used is mine. Lord, if that wasn't so pathetic, it'd be Goddamned funny...

Still, she could adapt -- but if she told him the truth about her past, would she ever have a chance to do so?

She knew Remy had killed before -- but only ever in defence of himself or someone else -- never in cold blood. Not like she had...

At the time, she had rationalized that what she had done was self-defence -- of a sort, protecting her family, or ultimately other mutants -- but she realized now that they had been only rationalizations.

Could Remy handle the truth about what she had been?

Well, he was married to an assassin before -- ya'd think he might not mind about bein' involved with a retired one, she thought with grim humour.

There was no question that she was going to have to tell him -- but not now. Remy had enough to deal with at the moment. Once he was well again, then things would be different. And maybe by then, she might have found a way to say the words..

In the boathouse kitchen, Jean Grey-Summers was preparing a pot of herbal tea -- after her work with Rogue, she needed it.

It was true that things had gone well enough -- but after taking her first good, long look at Rogue's psyche, Jean realized just how daunting the task before them was going to be. She had done her best to put on an optimistic front, but the southerner had seen through it. Going into Rogue's mind in any real depth promised to be the telepathic equivalent of waltzing through a minefield...

The sheer number of psychic scars was enough of an obstacle. Vestiges of personalities Rogue had absorbed in the past, most of them should be harmless -- but that wasn't to say that all of them were. Considering some of the people Rogue had absorbed, Jean wasn't inclined to take any unnecessary chances. Figuring out which of those vestiges weren't harmless and working around them would be time-consuming and painstaking work, but it could be done.

What worried Jean more were some of the blocks which were clearly created by the professor. As her mentor, Charles had always impressed upon her the importance of never doing any more than was strictly necessary within another's mind -- to work within the framework of each individual's psyche, rather than imposing structures that were foreign.

Some of the work Charles had done in Rogue's consciousness was uncharacteristically heavy-handed -- and that was concerning. Hopefully, once she had a chance to peruse the professor's notes on Rogue's case, the reasons why that was so would become clear. Most likely the mental battle Rogue had fought with Carol Danvers for so long was at least partially responsible for the amount of psychic wreckage Jean had seen in the other woman's mind.

Once Jean knew enough of Rogue's consciousness to help her address her control problem, other factors would make themselves known as well -- like background. An incident in childhood was often at least partially responsible for how a mutant's powers first appeared -- as Jean knew from personal experience -- or how they developed.

She found herself wondering what kind of childhood Rogue had had with her foster family. While the southerner almost never spoke of the times when she was growing up, when she did, she tended to recount stories of typical childhood escapades. As far as Jean could tell, Rogue's family life with Mystique and Destiny had been stable and loving. It was strange to consider that Mystique -- an amoral international spy and assassin -- had taken it upon herself to provide a supportive family environment for a child -- especially one that was not even her own.

It was an odd thought, but most likely in their work together, Jean would be learning as much about Mystique as she did about Rogue...

Also, in helping her teammate, Jean realized that she was also being given a singular opportunity to really get to know her. Although Rogue had been with the X-Men for years, they still knew little more about her than they did when she first joined. Rogue was always outgoing and social, but she still held herself apart from the others to an extent, and remained taciturn about her past. Rogue had never appeared to truly confide in anyone.

Perhaps that was partially due to her powers -- knowing the possible consequences of getting physically close to another person, Rogue may have been subconsciously keeping her distance in other ways as well. Then too, there was her sense of loyalty. It was probable that Rogue never spoke of her foster family in any detail because she felt she might betray them somehow...

As little as Rogue talks about growing up with Mystique, she talks about her life before then even less. As a matter of fact, I don't believe she's ever mentioned it at all while she's been here ... strange...

Thinking about Rogue's childhood, Jean's thoughts turned to children in general -- she was thinking about them more and more these days...

She and Scott had discussed having children several times, and always ended up postponing their decision. They both wanted children badly, but they worried about what any child of theirs would have to endure. Bigotry against mutants was still the norm, not the exception; even if their child happened to be a normal human, as parents, their biology would be a burden for their offspring. Then with the risks they ran as members of the X-Men, there was a good possibility that one day any child of theirs could lose one or both parents. It wasn't anything they liked to think about, but they knew it was something they had to acknowledge, and take into consideration. They had put off starting a family for years, hoping that one day soon, the mutant situation would improve -- but it hadn't.

The last time they had discussed starting a family -- only a scant two weeks ago -- they had decided that there was no point in putting it off any longer. They weren't getting any younger, and there would never be a 'good' or 'better' time. They had even talked about what steps they might take to ensure the safety of their child once they had conceived. Once those plans were finalized, they had intended to begin trying for a baby.

Jean took a sip of her chamomile tea and smiled.

She wasn't sure yet -- but there was a chance they would need those plans sooner than expected. And though she knew it was premature, she couldn't halt the thrill of excitement that coursed through her at that thought. She tried to contain her hopes, but it was hard. She had always known she had wanted to be a mother, but she had never realized how strong that desire was until she was confronted with it head-on.

It might be nothing -- I could just be late, she reminded herself.

There's no point in getting excited about anything until I know for sure, and there's any number of things it could be, not just pregnancy.

The problem was it would be at least another week or two before she could be certain -- and not getting excited was getting to be a harder and harder job. She would have to make an appointment with Henry for later in the month. Even if it turned out that she wasn't pregnant, it would still be a good idea to get checked out, as her cycle had always been regular.

In the meantime, it would be business as usual.

But as she sipped her tea and looked through a furniture catalog that had come in the morning's mail, she found herself turning to the cribs first...


Continued in Chapter Twenty-Six.

"All warfare is based on deception." -- Sun-Tzu, The Art of War


Down-Home Charm / Fan-Fiction / Fan Artwork / History Books / Photo Album / Songbank / Miscellania / Links / Updates

Legalese: Rogue, the X-Men, and the distinctive likenesses thereof are Trademarks of Marvel Characters, Inc. and are used without permission. This is an unofficial fansite, and is not sponsored, licensed or approved by Marvel Comics.
Privacy Policy and Submission Guidelines