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Minute Change

Part 8

Karolina Phillips

3/9/98

 

"Good morning, Jean, Elizabeth." Joseph trotted to the battered, sweat-stained mats and began stretching.

"Good morning." The two women traded looks trying to continue their discussion in private, only to be interrupted.

"Have either of you seen Rogue? She usually wakes up early."

"She's still asleep. She went to bed late," Jean answered.

"Oh, thank you." He appeared strangely unsurprised but did not comment.

So you're saying there was nothing concrete? It would be helpful to have some evidence of wrong-doing besides 'you felt something was wrong'.

No. I'm not sure how to explain. Rogue came back around two o'clock in the morning by the window. So wherever she was, she'd flown. Obviously, that's just an educated guess, but you know what I mean. She seemed extremely agitated, pensive.

That's hardly unusual. She tends to fly everywhere. As for agitated and pensive, her moods are mercurial at best. And, she'd had a fight with Remy right before she left.

Yes, I know, bitchy.

Now, that's not fair. She's going through a difficult time right now.

She's always going through a difficult time and now she's dragging us along for the ride. I can't change the facts. When I revealed my presence, she became very cold and distant, not at all pleased to be found out. She tried to corner me and said as little as possible. Doesn't it make you wonder what she was doing?

Not really. She's a fairly private individual. Through her mental contact, she could sense Psylocke's honest belief that Rogue had attempted to attack her. A pattern might be developing. You know the Professor often sent her on recon. It's very likely he left contingency orders. A nagging feeling the in the pit of your stomach isn't reason enough to assume anything.

Contingency for how long though? There's been no evidence of her traveling earlier and Bobby didn't mention anything. If she's doing recon, neither Gambit nor Logan are aware of it. Anyway, that's exactly why I scanned her.

You what?! You have no idea- without her permission?

I told you, I felt she was a threat. Not a violent or direct one, but there was a distinct lack of ambiance from her mind. Elizabeth re-adjusted her sweat band. What aren't you telling me?

Nothing. It doesn't matter now. Betsy, she's one of us. You can't just go scanning any member of the team that smells fishy.

Elizabeth slammed the bar she held down, jarring weights. It certainly would have helped with the Professor. I don't know what you're not telling me, but I don't want to find out the hard way.

"Are you all right?" Joseph rolled up and began to step forward.

"I'm fine, Joseph. I just wasn't paying attention and my hand slipped."

"Are you tired?"

"No, I'm fine, really." Joseph sent her another mildly concerned glance and then continued with his exercising. Elizabeth turned back to Jean. The only reason I'm telling you this is because when I did scan her, without her permission, something in her mind rose up and assaulted mine. At the same time, she became quite violent.

Jean slowed on the treadmill. Let me guess. You saw that her shields were down, she was radiating negative emotions, and you felt a vague threat. So, out of simple curiosity, you attempted to scan her surface thoughts but when you did, something grabbed you?

I take it this happened to you also?

Yes, a few times now.

A few times?! Why haven't you told anyone? And what is it? Some kind of telepathy? If it is, I've never seen it before.

I don't for sure yet. It could be a memory block, mental trauma or even a manifestation of her power. As far as I can tell, it's not an aggressive force per se. Obviously, it's something quite sensitive to psionics but it's not telepathy. If it was, I'd know how to deal with it. The latest incident was just last night, before yours.

She offered no more on the subject, not sure what to do. If not mistaken, Rogue's damaged, and highly unstable defenses, but not shields exactly, were systematically replacing the Professor's much more sophisticated ones. The easiest solution would be to do the same and prevent psychic deterioration but Rogue, or her mind, was being uncooperative. Then there's the fact that she doesn't have alternate personalities in her head like she did before. Extra blocks might not be necessary. She reviewed the previous evening once again. Rogue's responses to mental rapport were growing more aggressive, delaying treatment might have permanent consequences. She wanted to help but needed, for her own conscience, permission first.

Did it ever manifest as a physical attack?

I'm not sure attack is the right word, anymore. I'm thinking it might be a reflex behavior. It's entirely possible her precognitive sense triggers it. A simple telekinetic shove usually stops her.

Isn't that grand for you. Unfortunately, I'm not a telekinetic. There's a large bruise on my arm from last night.

Really? The suggestive tone came through despite Jean's serious intention.

Excuse me?

Nothing.

In retrospect, I provoked her. Still, I'm suspicious of her whereabouts last night. Rogue isn't exactly known for her nocturnal escapades.

Elizabeth, drop it. We can't jump to conclusions. She probably just got sick of Remy's...attitude and went for a flight.

I won't say it if you don't.

Say what?, Jean joked with intentional obtuseness to lighten the mood. She hit the stop button of the exercise machine, grabbed a towel, then broke the mental link. Much as she hated to admit it, Elizabeth was right in worrying. Scott needed to be told, perhaps Hank as well. If it was simple trauma, then counseling would serve but memories didn't attack people. This darkness reached out and absorbed psionic energy like a black hole. There, I admitted it. Now let's do something about it before anyone has a coronary.


The mud in her boots squished uncomfortably as she loped back into the forest towards their aircraft. The sky was lightening to a deep cerulean as the earth's shadow passed overhead. Songbirds commenced conversation, undisturbed by the snapping scrapes of a sole person. Humidity had diffused into a cold damp clinging to every available surface and numbing extremities. It would be dawn soon, and that wasn't a good thing. Rogue tried to lighten her step and listen but blood pounded in her ears. Every color seemed brighter, motion faster, noise crisper. Her hand jerked convulsively over the grip and trigger of her pistol. There was no sound of hunters. She wanted to stop and inspect the absence, but there was no time. Mystique and Destiny wouldn't leave her behind, but dallying would infuriate them and earn a lecture. It was too quiet beneath the cacophony of natural sounds. Aw, they probably just got lost. Nothing to worry about.

Past the mossy, split oak, around the gravely marsh, was a small jet. It sat like a gray bug behind a splintered stump overgrown with lichens. Sap green leaves lazily floated in brackish pools that reflected the first tinge of orange sunlight. All that remained was to cross the boggy area and climb the small hill. Crouching down beside the split oak, she clenched her gun uneasily making false starts. An unseen bird serenaded, then cut itself off. Nothing moved. A copse of pine several yards away would offer shelter and camouflage. Sliding further down with a catch of cloth on bark, she bolted away from delayed semi-automatic fire into the pine trees.

There were agents, FBI, intersplicing the trees to her left but at a fair distance from the jet which gleamed dull silver now, shrouded by mist and adrenaline. Square gray windows stared ahead with no recognition. Irené would have known about this, but hadn't told her. Rogue fought down the resentment over this test while examining the bushes. She felt like a dunce for not expecting the ambush or Mystique's reaction to it. A dozen figures were immediately visible in the twitch of a body part or slick line of plastic. They weren't moving, waiting for her to run and expose herself. A crackle of branches and hiss of ripping leaves heralded the arrival of a small hard object. The canister ricocheted off a tree trunk, then landed and rolled into her refuge. She lunged with a hasty grab and threw it back out. Tear gas roiled forth mixing with the mist, stagnating between her and the agents. Glad now for the mud coating, she drew her hood down and dragged the neck of her shirt up over her nose.

The pines offered little protection, but the swat team took only potshots. A medium-sized gray shape would move closer and a gun blast would echo through the air. One by one, they converged. It was lack of intention rather than luck that kept her unharmed. Want me alive for questioning. Her lips and brows pressed together as her gaze darted between the swat team and the dormant jet, unresponsive to her plight. She peered through the needles smelling resin and smoke. Several humans in blue and gray body armor, helmets and visors, were moving in for the proverbial kill. She flipped the safety off her gun taking aim at one.

Snap. The lower half of his face exploded into red fragments as he was flung back to land with a splash. The other three people automatically dropped down, firing while crab-walking to protection. From behind them came the clatter of metal sliding on metal. She lifted the gun to her chin, smelling residual gunpowder. It tickled her nose and she sneezed. No one was visible except for the man who sprawled in the slime. The jet still didn't move. All right, fine. With a bound, she burst through the branches to the sound of guns clicking and mechanical whines.

Machine gun fire, like a roomful of typewriters, spattered from the four turrets of the jet. It fought with the blast and outraged yells of the swat team, blended with the over powering hum of engines and the ringing in her ears. Through it developed an absolute surety and peace. Nothing equaled this. Nothing was exhilarating as this except her power. She could feel the fierce smile even as a bullet stung her ribs. It was trivial in comparison to the pounding beat of her heart. The hatch flipped open and she bent for a leap as the aircraft levitated, turning to fire full force. A hand clad in sky-blue grasped her own, aiding as she clambered into the jet.


A dream. She'd had a dream, but it was gone now. Something felt strange. Oxygen was in short supply. That was remedied by moving her head back until the morning light pierced straight through her eyelids, which were both glued shut, to stab her brain. "Uuuuuuggghhhh." Rogue burrowed her face back into the warm lumpy pillow. It moved making breathing noises. A simple deduction and the pillow proved to be a human being. Which one? Opening her eyes wasn't an option. The smell suggested sweaty and in need of a bath. Bother.

"Afternoon, petite."

"Errrrgggh." Her ears rang with pain amplifying the what the light had begun. The accented sounds rolled together melodiously but neither in a growl nor with commanding attention. She heaved a mental sigh of relief. Probably Remy. That's a good sign. Good to know my common sense still works. Nothing argued with that conclusion so she pushed it to the back of her mind. Now, let's try this talking thing again, maybe, in just a second....

"How y'feelin'?"

Oh Lord. Ow, owow, owww. "Quiet," she whispered in momentary agony. The words made sense this time. What does he mean how do I feel?! Complex speech was out for either a tongue or a dead animal had found residence in her mouth. Logic argued for the former, but one never knew. Her muscles felt like jelly making a jest of motion. On the other hand, she was blessedly warm. If I move, I'll be cold unless I use my powers and then I just won't feel anything at all. She pressed her face back against his shoulder.

"Y'know, I bet de rest of de team wonderin' where we are. Although, wit' Jeanie and Betsy, mebbe not. Den dere's fearless leader, ya know he gon' blow a fuse. Den 'gain, mebbe not 'cause he not one t'talk. T'ink dey gon' ask?"

"Shut. Up." His voice was vastly irritating. Irritating. Anger. That's what I forgot. We're supposed to be fighting. They weren't fighting. Indeed, he was chattering like a demented jaybird not the least bit concerned over the other's reactions. Great, now he'll never take me seriously. Struggling to remember the past events, she morosely realized that there was a gap starting right after Jean harassed her until waking. Fleeting images from a dream teased at the edge of memory. She didn't want to move for, as much as she could touch, he felt nice. The movement of his muscles and beat of his heart was incredibly reassuring. But staying in bed with him isn't smart.

"We should dis 'gain some time. I mean, not de whole fightin' an' arguin' bit, but-"

I wish. "Di'n' do nothin'." I need a shower, but I'm still too clean to have done anything. Not that we could. She peeled one eye open a smidgen. Spots danced. "Ergh." The eye shut, then re-opened.

"How y'know?" He teased.

"'Cause Ah do." The other eye was forced open with encouragement from the first and a fuzzy button met her sight. The button wasn't fuzzy; it was eye crust. On top of that, her arm, the one twisted awkwardly underneath her side, was beginning to tingle.

"D'ya now?"

"Uh huh. Ah do." Giving up the fight, she rolled onto her back picking up her right arm with the other hand. It flopped like a dead fish and she let it fall onto her stomach. Remy leaned over to take it. "Let go."

"Non."

She lay there trying to come up with an appropriately witty response. He held her arm out at an angle while massaging it. It really wasn't something to be angry about. Her eyes strayed to the computer as she scratched her scalp. I need a shower. "Why're y'here?"

"You were drunk. Brought ya back, put ya t'bed. You wan' me t'stay. You sleep easy?"

"Like a log."

"Really? So y'don' 'member your nightmare?"

She regarded him doubtfully wanting to be angry at him for staying, for caring, for being persistent. I'm tired of fighting. All I care about now is getting a promise out of him to tell me about the important things. If not, well, it's not like I haven't hurt before. That's what it came down to now. She recalled no nightmare. "Nope. Ah do anythin' unusual?"

He leaned in closer, bending her arm over with a kiss to her knuckles. "Yup. Y'cried, quiet-like, an' almos' took m'head off when I try t'hol' ya. Night terror, yeah?"

"Sorry, they happen sometimes. Ah'll take y'word for' it. Now please get off my bed." The cold began to invade the blanket. Yes, there had been a dream, but not a frightening one. The scary ones always woke her. Except for the ones that were truly terrifying. And I haven't had those for ages.

"You de one who put me here."

"So? Get off." Belatedly, she sighed and covered her face with the good arm. Why do I say such stupid things in the morning? "Don't even-"

His eye brows rose with a waggle, "What?"

No such luck. "G'way." It was too early to leap off the high dive into the gutter with a resounding splash. There were teeth to be brushed, breakfast to be eaten, a shower to be taken, not necessarily in that order.

"Not a chance, chere. You de one who asked me t'stay las' night an' more dan dat, ya were hurtin'." He shrugged with feigned casualness. "Mebbe we talk some."

The suggestion made her suspicious. He liked to talk even less than Logan but she didn't want to refuse the offer. She tried not to gasp when the sensation started returning to her arm but failing that, lunged off the bed.

"Where ya goin'?"

"T'take a shower." Standing up straight was easy but moving more was not. The black blurry shape bent into a stereo, then slid across the room. Hoo-boy. That's supposed to be the ceiling. Her knees were trembling and nothing held still. least of all, her stomach. Okay, deep breaths.

"Can I watch?"

Voyeur. The disparaging though was immediately recalled. There was nothing wrong with looking. Cause if there is, I'm in serious trouble. "No, y'can't watch or take pictures or invite your' friends so jus' keep it t'y'self." She finally spared him an appraisal and was surprised to discover that he looked as fuzzy as she felt. A smile pulled at the corner of her mouth. His hair was mangled and a pillow imprint decorated the side of a stubbled jaw. She consciously withdrew the smile.

"I let you watch de next time I take one," he offered lecherously.

"No." Her laughter was weak but real. I must look like a drowned rat and he's flirting. When's the last time we did that? Or is it just a show? Her imagination paid no heed. If we didn't use communal showers, mm. She shook her head. I'd just get horny and pissy if I did. "Look, Remy, Ah don' know what y'up to now. Ah'm not sure Ah care. Ah don' rightly recall what happened las' night but Ah do wish your part hadn't."

"Naked." He ignored her and knelt up with hands flat on his knees. Smiling as if the tension and mistrust were non-existent, he casually unbuttoned his shirt.

Squeezing both eyes shut, she rubbed them with her fists. "Y'take y'showers with y'clothes...on?" He was feeling himself up in languid strokes daring her to comment. Oh my. Nice. The knowledge that he was doing this on purpose purely to tempt her did nothing to prevent avid interest from cropping up. No act of exhibitionism could compare to some of the more lurid memories she'd witnessed but to know it was directed at her made it personal. She planted her gaze on the floor finally feeling embarrassed. "Um...can y'please not do that."

"Gotcha."

"Bastard. Y'think that's funny?" Reflexive anger welled up. In the beginning, she had been able to pretend that the deprival of touch was unimportant, that she could live with it. Over the years, it got harder and harder to pretend, to keep calm. These days, it sparked barely below the surface. For him to toy with her when she barely knew how to read his turnabout was too much.

"Nope, t'ink mebbe you wan' do de same. I t'ink ya wan' hol' me down an' touch, an' lick an' rub 'til ya can't feel anymore. An' I t'ink ya mad 'nough t'spit dat ya can't."

"Bravo, y'are a genius. Yeah, Ah do an' Ah am. Happy y'rubbed my face in it? What can either of us do 'bout it, huh? Preten'? Use that damn Z'Noxx gizmo like some type o'freak? How 'bout a collar?"

His smile was pained. "Non, none of dose, jus' touch if ya can, if ya want to. Don' wan' ya t'give up an' give in. I not blind, chere." He tipped his head back, stretching. "I could of left anytime, especially wit' Magneto takin' up all y'time. I di'n'. I'm stayin."

She wanted to tell him it was impossible, that she'd forgotten how to touch, that she didn't want to and that he was wrong. But, he had known about all the ways around her power and hadn't pushed her. No way, he can't really believe that. "Y'honestly think faith can cut it? Is that why y'left it up t'me? That's bullshit, Remy. If it was a matter of will, Ah'd be able t'control my power already."

He made a sound that could be either agreement or dissent. "Will an' fait' two differen' t'ings."

"Swell. It don' help me none. Why're in such a good mood all the sudden, anyway?"

"Like I said, ya blabbed las' night." He slid off the bed, stopping to pick the bottle off the floor. It was tossed unerringly into the wastebasket. He picked up his shirt, still avoiding her gaze, "Ya forgot t'be cold an' right now, much as ya mad at me, I can see y'interested."

"Oh." Rogue fell silent. Searching for something to do, she peeled off her old gloves. Damn. Well, there goes my plan in a hand basket. "Ah wish you'd lef' me 'lone, let me deal with it on my own."

He shrugged but his face said that he would do the same again.

"Did Ah.... Did Ah say anythin' important?" Did I tactlessly admit what I'd seen? Did I mention Suarez? The first was important but irrelevant in the long run. The second could be an extreme inconvenience. If Remy knew anything, he was keeping mum which meant that he would follow her at the drop of a hat. The concern would be touching, the interference as aggravating and hampering as last time.

"Yup." His expression was dead-pan as he sauntered towards her.

She swore under her breath. "Do Ah gave t'drag it out of ya or is it too much t'hope you'll repeat it back t'me?"

"Feelin' better already?"

Her temples were being crushed by a vise, ears were clogged and nausea rolled in her stomach. "My powers, Remy. Well?"

Counting off on his fingers, he began, "You were plannin' on killin' Belle, I have pretty eyes an' you wan' fuck me-"

"Not another word or so help me...an Ah din' say that." Probably did and meant it. Rubbing her forehead, she tried to work the knots out of her shoulders. He had never brought up Belladonna in conversation except last night and that didn't count. She owed it to him.

"Nope. Ya sang it at de top of y'lungs an' you knew all de words." He smiled ingratiatingly.

"It don' have many words." Abruptly, she frowned at his inappropriate good cheer. He had already written off their fight and dissension. Why doesn't he ever take anything seriously?!

"Hey, hey, whoa." He came to stand before her raising one hand as if though to touch. "Di'n' mean t'get you angry 'gain. Jus' glad t'know ya miss me as much as I miss you. Not blowin' off what happen wit' Sinister, we talk 'bout it durin' breakfast, er, lunch, 'kay?"

Rolling one shoulder defensively, she backed away in the guise of collecting her robe and shower caddie. "You serious?"

"Been serious de whole time."

Behind her came the riffle of sliding cloth and a soft sigh. "Remy, Ah'm goin' t'take my shower and get dressed. When Ah get back, Ah don't want ya in my room 'cause it's bad 'enough y'spent the night. Ah'll be down soon." She didn't wait to hear his answer.


"They finally woke up? And she's hungover?" Scott sighed. Remy I could understand, but Rogue? Outside of a competitive situation, she was not prone to rash behavior. He wanted to know what had caused it, yet his concern took a back seat to greater ones. According to the underground, the government was going to close in on the Sentinel program. Maybe. That did not help them find the Professor. He should be formulating a search not dealing with two of his team members. He could not understand why Rogue and Gambit hadn't discussed their problems like two rational adults instead of going through childish posturing. Whatever the problem between them was, or had been, could have been resolved much quicker.

He tapped his communication badge summoning Ororo, Bishop and Psylocke. Angel had replaced Bishop on guard duty. Robert was at home, although he sent a weekly correspondence. He and Ororo had both agreed to leave Samuel and Joseph out of this discussion. While Scott would have enjoyed providing the former with advice on dealing with personal problems inside a team, this was somewhat of a private matter. As for the latter, he could be considered biased and uninformed. Hank had politely declined and was now in his lab. And Logan? Who knows where he is. At least he has a history of acting in an unexpected manner.

Scott, they're both grown adults. Jean was leaning her chin on clasped hands with a slightly distracted expression, monitoring their subjects and doing her best not to give away their more irrelevant actions.

That may be so, but they're also members of this team. We all count on them to act responsible. It distressed him that Jean was withholding information. While he could fully accept the confidential nature of their relationship, whatever occurred was affecting the remainder of the team. Warren had approached him about the incident in the Danger Room with a mild comment about the "slightly callous" way Rogue had behaved. Psylocke offered only a cryptic remark about shadows but the set of her jaw said more. Logan had chewed on a cigar and shrugged when asked if he noticed anything odd. Scott was privately concerned about Jean and what she had told him about last night, or rather, this morning.

The sliding door opened with a whir to admit first Ororo, then Bishop who met his eyes and scanned the room. The officer's hand jerked towards the holster draped across his back when Psylocke emerged from a shadow. Ororo ignored the event entirely.

Scott studied the faces around him. He didn't know if Bishop was impatient, irate over being pulled from his post, or as indifferent as he appeared. Probably the last, he doesn't know Rogue except as a comrade in arms. That was exactly the reason he had been asked to join the conference. He was experienced and impartial. Psylocke now sat motionless with a serene expression.

Storm made no comment but the dignified and controlled way she settled into a seat spoke volumes.

"I wanted to talk with you about an internal conflict. I'm sure you know what I'm referring to."

Storm folded her hands in front of herself. Bishop inclined his head slightly and Psylocke gave a droll half-smile.

"While it originally began as a private spat, it seems to have evolved into something that might be harmful to all of us, specifically psions. Furthermore, she won't talk about it and has chased both Jean and Elizabeth off when they asked too many questions. Maybe it isn't any of our business, but it looks important to me." The indirect beginning would allow him to take measure of their mood.

Jean focused on Bishop as he opened his mouth, but stopped before saying anything. His eyes narrowed looking into the past or the future and the lines between his brows deepened. He shook his head as if dismissing something.

Waiting until the officer finished, Ororo announced, "That is likely a personal matter between Rogue and Remy. I am as concerned for her well-being and the team's as you are, but we should respect their privacy seeing as how neither of them has caused us true harm."

What is it that she knows? Storm was consistently giving those two the benefit of the doubt. One reason, he suspected, was her deep friendship with Gambit. She doesn't want to hurt him by hurting Rogue. There was more to it than that. If she really wanted to help Rogue, she'd offer suspicions, not stone wall. He pushed the concern aside. She was being a good leader and keeping her thoughts to herself until all the facts were straight. "Certain events transpired yesterday evening." Scott signaled Jean.

She chewed on her lip with an unfocused look, then frowned. "I'm not going to repeat the obvious, but Rogue's been acting somewhat strangely recently and that's not an unfounded personal opinion. Bobby didn't tell me much about what happened in Seattle and kept his opinion to himself when she came back with Joseph, but I did get this much. He was angry at both Rogue and Remy, so I don't think we can point any fingers on that subject. What I want to focus on is entirely different because although I think the memories she got from him might have started all this, I think it has a deeper root." Jean traced a finger over the table surface as she paused. "More specifically, she's beginning to react negatively to psionic contact and seems unaware of this. Nor does she have any control over it. Of all the X-Men, you and Logan are the only ones who were present when she first joined and I thought that maybe you might shed some light on this."

Unfolding herself from the swivel chair to her full height, Ororo stepped behind Elizabeth. "It is quite possible that in the absence of the Professor, her mind is becoming more active in some way, but I do not believe that she is...ill in any fashion. Has anyone asked Rogue if she is aware of this phenomenon?"

Jean met Psylocke's eyes briefly before answering. "I don't think so, but last night, early this morning, I found her...unwell and attempted to scan her. I, hmmm...." She pursed her lips. "Okay, let me put it like this, the way she reacted suggested that she does have some control over this behavior. She didn't get upset until after I made mental contact and I'm not sure how she knew that I was because I certainly didn't tell her."

Ororo tipped her head in acknowledgment. "Perhaps she observed some quality of your behavior that led her believe you were ... spying. She is rather irrational about that under any circumstance, no doubt an acquired attitude due to the invasive nature of her power."

"No, I don't mean her physical behavior. I mean her mental." Jean glanced at Elizabeth again and chewed on her lip. "Okay, I don't think I can explain this accurately in words, but for lack of a better phrase, her mind attacked me except I don't know if it was her thoughts, emotions, power or something else entirely. That's what I'm worried about."


Ororo crossed her arms thoughtfully. Bishop still hadn't spoken, choosing instead to listen to the discussion. Nor had Psylocke for that matter. Odd. One would think she would be more vocal about this. Jean?

Yes?

What did the Professor do to help her regain control?

He isolated Carol and blocked some traumatic memories, as far as I know. He may have done more, Rogue certainly implies it, but I find no record of it.

Implies more? She felt a distinct lack of surprise. When you say 'traumatic memories', do you refer to Carol or others from the past?

I was under the impression they related to Carol, but I'll ask her if you like. My first thought was that Charles was referring to something from her childhood, maybe when her ability first manifested, but that doesn't make sense. If he had found something like that, he should have done something about it, never mind noted it down.

My understanding is she retains memories for only a short period of time. Whatever she gained from Carol should be gone as well as Remy's.

Yes, I know. They are. It's hard to describe, but I find a great deal of imagery that isn't hers, but acts as such. You could call them memories of memories, imprints, things she was particularly interested in. She got something from Remy but didn't want to see it but her power works by forcing her to see, so.... I think that might be what happened last night. There are also fragment personalities. I don't know if they're real or just memories. Some of them....

Need I ask why?

Why what?

She is stable. I realize that she was having difficulty of late with her memories of Remy's past, but that with resolve itself in time. Why do you continue to examine her mental state?

Did the Professor ever tell you that he believes Rogue only associates her power with touch?

Storm wondered what this had to do with mental attacks unless both were tied to her power. Not in so many words, but I am not an expert in the matter. All existing evidence suggests that her abilities require touch. If it were possible that she could assume another's identity at will, without the physical contact, that would be frightening. Yet, I have wondered. I have seen the often erratic effects it has when the time of contact was similar. So you are suggesting these attacks are a natural evolution of her power?

...I hadn't thought of that, no. What I discovered doesn't act exactly like her mutant power; it's too cognizant which is why I think it's actually her own mind. The appearance of her mind is ill, almost infected. It's so dark. You'd have to see it. What I'm saying is that maybe this is a symptom of the same thing that caused that association, if it is an association. I mean, Rogue could be right, after all. Treating it would involve complex blocking and even if I could get inside her mind, it would only repeat the cycle eventually. On the other hand, I won't want to let this continue.

Something about the nature of this manifestation disturbs you? So Jean thought it was a psychological problem being partially exhibited by Rogue's mutant ability. She has difficulty controlling those with psionic abilities as if ignorant of their nature, although it is very difficult to defeat someone from within their own mind. She should have no such trouble. Perhaps that is the illness you perceive.

Maybe. But, Ororo, if it was any more sentient, assuming this is even a hostile reaction generated by trauma, it would remind me of the Shadow King.

Storm was unresponsive for a fraction of a second. Yes. Predatory. If that was so, then would it not also be true that she would attack the spirits of any psion she absorbed? She does not.

You're right. If it was a hostile manifestation of her power, it would finish the job. So, maybe it is negative emotions, trauma and self-defense, but it doesn't feel right. It simply doesn't feel right.


He counted to ten, then twenty. Emotions flickered across Jean's face as she stared at a fixed point in space. He held perfectly still. Elizabeth was remaining unresponsive. Too much so. Storm murmured something and then nodded. Her eyes abruptly narrowed and flashed white. "Can anyone jump in or is this a private conversation?"

Jean started and blinked. "Sorry, Scott. Storm and I were just theorizing."

"And?" His brusque attitude became bewildered when she didn't answer. "Is this confidential also?" But you can talk about it to Storm?

"Yes."

He was getting nowhere fast. What had caused the complete turn-around between Rogue and Gambit was still a mystery, as was whatever memories she had gained from him. Her spurt of violent behavior was unexplained and no one who knew, and someone did, would tell him. Looks like I'll have to ask her again. "Fine. Bishop?"

"Lack of control is a weakness."

How profound. Not very helpful. "Anything else?" What was he remembering and why won't he tell? Should I push him for an answer?

"If Rogue's condition affects the team, the course of action is your and Storm's decision, not mine."

In other words, he doesn't believe what he saw is relevant. It was time to make a more aggressive move and settle this debacle. "Jean, you told me earlier that the problem is you can't get into her mind because of its uncooperative nature. If she wore an inhibitor, could you replace the blocks?"

She shook her head absently. "Theoretically, if it's psychological then that'd be the best course of action. On the other hand, if it's her power, then shutting it off would only make things more difficult. Frankly, I'm not sure this has anything to do with mutant powers but at the same time, I can't rule out that possibility."

It was more than nothing. He relaxed a bit. If it wasn't Rogue's power that was responsible for her attacks, then it had less of a chance of hurting the team. If it was, an inhibitor would staunch the attacks. "Is this agreeable with you?" he directed towards Storm.

Her eyes flashed but there was no justifiable reason to say no, "I see no reason why not."

He made a mental note when Psylocke smiled faintly. She's not just satisfied. She's relieved. "It's settled then. Jean, when do you think you can meet with her?"

She answered reluctantly, "I'll try for this afternoon, but no guarantees."


PART9

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