Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Rogue, Gambit, and Mystique with hints of past Gambit/Rogue and a cameo by Storm
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words: Let the good times roll!
Word Count: 2,916
Date Written: 25 February 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
She should've known this wasn’t going to be easy. She should’ve known New Orleans would be crawling with even more mutants and thieves than usual. She should’ve known he’d be here. And yet the thought had not even entered her mind until now as she stands looking up into the red eyes that still haunt her every time she closes her eyes. “Remy,” she breathes his name as soft as a Spring breeze rustling through Georgia peach trees.
Rogue blinks hard and fast, reminding herself that she’s here only to do a job, and an important job at that. She isn’t here to reminsince, and she certainly isn’t here to even consider rekindling an old flame that never should have sparked in the first place. She isn’t here for him, or for the X-Men, or even for herself. She’s here for her government, and knowing Uncle Sam, they’re watching her even now.
“Rogue,” he says in surprise. Then those red eyes of his blink and a slow, charming grin spreads across his whiskered face. God, but the man’s always been handsome -- and always known it too! “Chere.” His voice is like a cat’s purr, and she wants to curl up beside him. “Long time, no see.”
She would have thought that, after all this time, Remy LeBeau wouldn’t still have the same effect on her. Had anyone asked her, she would have declared herself over him, said he was just one of a thousand or more mistakes she’d made in her past, a past that she’s finally set behind her now -- or so she’d thought. She is over it, she thinks, and she’s not going down that road again -- or so she tells herself.
She leans in close to him, letting her body press hard against his through their tight clothes. She angles her mouth towards his. His lips part in welcome, and she can smell rum and brandy, surprisingly not the hard stuff, on his breath. She stops just short of making actual physical contact with him, something she knows has always driven him crazy. She smiles up at him, and her eyes meet his again. “Too long.”
“Mutants, you will surrender.” The booming voice sounds from outside the bar and shakes the whole building. Civilians scream and run for cover. Rogue straightens quickly and looks toward the open, swinging doors, sliding a disc into an inside pocket on her tight jeans as she does so.
Remy doesn’t notice the gesture or, at least, he pretends not to. If he makes a move to get the disc from her, even with all his charm and thieving skills, she’ll know it, and she’ll do whatever she has to to keep that disc. Right now, though, they have other problems. “Don’t tell me somebody’s tinkerin’ with those darn things again!”
“Okay.” She can hear his smug grin in his voice, and a part of her wants to slap him. The other part, as always, wants to kiss him until they’re both driven senseless, but that would just land him in another coma. “I won’t tell you.” He runs pass her and out the door, drawing seven cards from his closest deck of cards.
She rolls her eyes as she hears him exclaim, “Let de good times roll!” Maybe some things never did change after all. She should run now. Now while she’s got the chance and she’s got the disc safely procured, she should run. She’d have a clean getaway out the back door. But she doesn’t take it. Like the lovestruck fool she’s been so many times before, she runs out the front door, right after Gambit.
She’s just in time to see his cards take out the first two Sentinels, but there are five more right behind them. “Damn things’re like rats,” she mutters. “There’s nevah just one o’ ‘em.” She leaps into the air and flies straight at the third Sentinel. She slams her doubled fists into his giant, metal head, then snatches his head off and uses it like a bat against the next robot.
Remy’s running, working on taking out more before they can adjust to his powers. He’s on the ground, and perhaps he doesn’t see the giant hand slamming toward her like a humongous fly swatter. She’s surprised when another, stronger body comes in between them. She can feel the impact shudder through the metal form now covering her. Colossus’ arms and legs are wrapped around hers. Rogue grips him from behind and flies him toward the ground, getting a glance out of the corner of her green eyes as Colossus’ own wings shrink back into his metal.
The thing is, of course, that Piotr Rasputin has never had wings, so just before they hit the ground, she lets him go. He lands hard with a grunt while she spins around on her feet. “Mystique!” she declares, her eyes blazing.
The metal man’s form disappears, leaving a blue-skinned mutant in its wake. Raven grins up at her adopted daughter, but it’s a strange expression. Rogue can’t quite tell if it’s meant to be teasing or sarcastic or is just yet another mask. “Old habits die hard.” She glances at Gambit as he runs between two more Sentinels, trying to get them to miss their mark and hit each other instead. “Don’t they, Rogue?” she asks, looking back at her daughter.
Rogue’s hands ball again into fists. She’d like to pummel the woman before her, but she doesn’t have time for this. Then she remembers the disc and reaches a hand into the pocket that’s supposed to be hidden in her jeans. To her surprise, the disc is still there.
“Don’t act so surprised,” Raven snaps. “I’m trusting you to do the right thing.”
“You -- “ Rogue is surprised. “You could make millions off o’ it.” And she had just had the perfect opportunity to take it from her when she had taken the brunt of the Sentinel’s attack.
“Yes, I could, but some things are more important than money.”
“You finally figured that out, huh? Or at least Ah’m supposed to believe that you did.”
“I have. You’ve been watching my record while you’ve been with that little government team of yours. You know I’m not the same woman I used to be.”
“None o’ us are,” she whispers. It’s the truth. Remy has changed. He’s alone these days rather than with the X-Men, and she knows he would have sold the disc to the highest bidder. Mystique, on the other hand, has been turning up working more and more often with the X-Men. She herself hasn’t been with her old team in years. She’s still doing the heroics, as Raven would call it, but now she’s getting paid for it.
Yet she can still remember when she left the X-Men. It wasn’t because she was tired of laying her life on the line for a world that hated and feared her just because she was born differently. It wasn’t because she wanted to get paid for what she was doing. It wasn’t even simply because she wanted a change. She’d felt she could no longer trust her team, perhaps could even no longer trust herself, and yet now that Captain America has turned, she knows she can’t trust most of the other Avengers.
Yet she’s still with them. She still hasn’t come home. Home. She hasn’t thought of the X-Men as her home in a long time. The original X-Mansion was destroyed nearly a decade ago. The team’s moved around so many times since then and tried so many different schools that she doubts they even have a home any more. And as for as trust is concerned, well, the Professor is gone, killed by one of his first and favorite students who had once been her team leader and a man she had once thought she could have trusted until their deaths.
“You’re right. None of us are. But you’ve still got a good heart and a good head on those strong shoulders, Rogue. You know what they’ll use that disc for.”
“Yeah,” she says softly, “people’ll finally be able to tell if their babies are gonna be mutants or not.”
“So maybe now some o’ those parents who don’t want a mutant for their child will be able to abort th’ baby before they’re born into a world o’ pain.”
“You don’t really think that, do you, girl? You’re smarter than that, Rogue. You know that isn’t how our world works. They’ll still have them. They’ll just sell the babies instead to the highest bidder.”
Rogue’s eyes widen in surprise. She had not considered that angle.
“All the governments and other agencies will be doing everything they can to get the next alpha mutants. Every mutant child born to parents who hate them will still be born, but they will be sold on the very day of their birth and never know a moment of happiness or freedom. They’ll be slaves from the second they’re born.”
They hear Gambit yell a string of colorful French and Cajun cusses and look up in his direction. “Your boyfriend needs saving again,” Mystique mutters. Rogue starts to take flight but stops as she sees her change. “Don’t bother.” Raven morphs only her head, but a couple of quick, deadly optic beams from the eyes of Scott Summers swiftly turns the last Sentinel into a smoldering pile of metal.
Returning to her normal face, Raven looks again at her daughter. “I know we’ve had our differences, Rogue, but I know too that you’ll do what’s right. You’ve always been driven to do the right thing, even when you were too young to understand it and I was too blind to see it. I am sorry for our past. I’ve told you that a thousand times and may well tell you again another thousand before I die, but I know you won’t believe me.”
She stops talking as Gambit’s hurried footsteps approach. Rogue glances at him for just a second, but when she moves her gaze to look back at her mother, Mystique is gone. “Dat was a rush, eh, chere?”
“Sure,” she says and then shows him a true rush as she flies swiftly up into the air and out of his sight. Her mother’s right on many counts. She’ll never believe every word Mystique says. She’ll never believe her apology for their shared past most of all and the heartache through which she forced her. She’ll never believe she has only the best interests of the vast majority in mind, but she knows that, like Magneto who has both served on and off again with the X-Men and whom she has actually enjoyed dating in the past, Mystique will always have what she believes to be the best interests of their people at heart.
As she flies away from Gambit, never hearing the quick, “She took de bait, Stormy,” he mutters into his cell phone, Rogue knows something else too about all that her mother has just so swiftly told her. They have changed and yet not changed. She can not trust herself with LeBeau, and she can not allow her heart to become entangled with his again. But she also can not turn this disc in to her government.
Mystique is right. Every government in the world will be bidding for this disc, and for the mutant children they will know are being born before they ever come into this world. As long as this disc is in creation, it can be used to enslave mutants, . . . but it can also be used, in the right hands, to help mutants. Rogue looks down at her hands, knowing they’re not the right hands. She has so much yet to learn, so much to do, so much to become before she can be responsible for something of that magnitude. There’s only one woman she knows who can handle something like this and do so both discreetly and correctly.
Rogue flies right to that person. She doesn’t have to take time to research her. She already knows where she’s staying, knows where the X-Men have been for a few months now. There’s never a month or even a week that goes by when she doesn’t look them up in the Avengers’ files. She keeps tabs on every one of them, and she knows that, although the woman she’s coming to has had her own moments of doubt, she is right where she has always belonged.
She doesn’t knock when she reaches her window. She just waits on the balcony for the former, self-proclaimed Weather Goddess to note the subtle difference in the atmosphere that her arrival makes. She doesn’t have long to wait, and she isn’t disappointed, either, as her regal, beautiful friend steps out onto her balcony to meet her.
“Rogue.” Ororo’s smile has always been as lovely as a cloudless Spring morning. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“You heard about that program, ‘Ro?” she asks her impatiently. Now that she’s here, she can practically hear a clock ticking in her head. Uncle Sam is watching, and she doesn’t have long. If they’ve seen where she’s come, they’re already headed after her. “Th’ one where it can tell if a baby’s gonna be a mutant or not?”
“Yes, of course.”
Rogue hands her the disc. Ororo takes it while searching her troubled eyes. “Rogue -- “ There is so much she wants to ask her and yet so little time for she can already feel her friend fidgeting impatiently. “You should stay.”
“Ah can’t, Stormy. Least not yet.” She jumps into the air though she knows Ororo can follow her with ease if she chooses and there’s very little she can do to stop her. She can always touch her, always zap her powers and knock her unconscious, but that’s not something she’s willing to do to a friend any more. “They’ll be after me. You haven’t seen me.”
“Of course, my dear friend, but remember -- “ Rogue zips away, but the breeze carries the rest of Ororo’s words to her nonetheless. “ -- you are always welcome here.”
Tears spring in Rogue’s eyes, but she shakes them off. There’s one last thing she has to do. She killed her communicator a while back, and payphones are a lot rare to find these days than they used to be. There’s still an open line, though, if you know how to look and have the connections she does in dive bars and other old, seedy places.
She finally reaches one that’s far enough away from New York that they shouldn’t immediately put two and two together unless they were watching her. They’re the government, Rogue reminds herself. Of course they’re watching! But this will tell them that she’s no longer in New York, no longer with the X-Men, and they’ll come after her instead.
She knows the number by heart and isn’t surprised when it answers on the first ring. “Alex -- “ she starts.
“Do you have it?” he asks, cutting her off. She can tell from his tone that he’s being watched.
“Mission successful,” she says and smiles for it truly has been. Her goal was always to get the disc to the right hands, and although she’d believed at first that that was the government and their Avengers, she’d quickly realized her error. It is in the right hands now though. Every mutant who is detected to be born with that program will find themselves not in a world where they are immediately enslaved or otherwise engulfed in terror but will instead be born into a world where friends are waiting to help them and become their family.
She forces down the lump of emotion in her throat. She realizes Alex has been speaking all this time, but she hasn’t been listening. It doesn’t matter what he’s been saying any way. Nothing can change her mind now. “Ah’m takin’ a leave o’ absence.”
He doesn’t argue with her. He doesn’t even try to get her to drop the disc off with him first. Instead she can almost swear she can hear a note of pride and happiness for her in his voice as he answers, “Be careful, Rogue.”
“Always, hon,” she says, hangs up, and flies away. The government will be after her, but let them come. She’s been a refuge from the law before. She knows how to survive. She knows how to take care of herself. And now there’s going to be a whole generation of mutants who are born into a better place, and a better time, because she did what was right.
Feeling movement behind her, Rogue glances casually back over her shoulder. There are no jets or missiles coming after her, at least not yet, but she does see, some ways back, a bird with blue feathers flying her way. It could be a blue jay or a bluebird, but they don’t usually fly so high. Besides, in her heart, Rogue already knows who that bird is. She lets her come as she flies on, thinking maybe it’s time to set some things in the past right after all. Some things never change, but some things do. Maybe it’s time they changed, and for the better at last. A smile graces her lips as she thinks with pride for the first time in a very, very long time, You were right, Mothah, and flies on toward the sun.