Haunted

The world exploded in a gale-wind force of metal, rock and heat. Rogue heard a scream and realized dully that it was her own. When the world finally stopped shifting, she peered into the dust gloom. "G-gambit?" she was trying to yell, but all that came out was a grime choked cough. She tried to clear her lungs with a round of rib-straining coughs. She tried to filter the air with her hand, then felt silk flutter against her cheek. She caught the end of the scarf and followed it back to the hand that held it out. She squeezed Remy's hand in a worldless thank you and tied it around her mouth.

The only light came for a Coke machine that remained stubbornly on, despite the wreckage. Rogue's eyes adjusted to the gloom and she could make out her lover's ashen face. In her own invulnerability she'd forgotten that he wasn't immortal, or even self-healing like Wolverine. She touched his cheek gently and he turned into the brief cress with a strained smile. There was blook on his lips. His right arm was crushed under part of the ceiling. "So much f' a quick snack."

Rogue laughed a hollow little laugh. She could see the blood on his tee-shirt now. His trench was folded up on the floor, pinned through with a metal bar from one of the vending machines. Suddenly, she remembered an old story about a curse that required nailing down the victim's shadow. With a wild though she looked at his chest. He shook his head in amusement.

"I'm in a bad way, chere," he whispered. "Y' heard from Jeannie or Chuck? They even know we in trouble?"

"My com ain't working. I been thinkin' at them, but I don't know if they've caught it."

"M' chest's fillin' up with blood. I can feel it, chere. Like I got Wolverine sittin' on me. Never thought I'd go out like dis. Done in by a vendin' machine." His voice was numb, like he'd dipped it in frozen nitrogen. "Love ya, me, Roguie."

It was delivered so off-handedly that it caught he by surprise. "Love you too, sugah." She brushed through his bangs, disturbing the fine gray dust that coated every strand. "I'm sure they're comin', honey."

"Don' lie t' m', chere. T'ain't nice." Remy coughed. Rogue watched in fascination as drops of blood fell onto her jeans. She moved so that she could support him with her chest. He leaned his head against her breast without so much as a smirk. "Promise me somet'in', chere."

"What?"

"Y'll get control of y're powers. By any means. Do it. T'ain't fair f' y' t' go t'rough life afraid of touchin'. Find someone who'll shor y' that y' can feel pleasure wit'out touchin' at least. Y' do that f' m'?"

"Yes, Remy. But that someone's gonna be you, boy. Don't die on me, hear?"

He smiled sadly. "I ain't gonna make it outta this one, chere." His voice was a dry crackling of paper. "Tell Stormy I love her. Look after Belle, even though y' get along like rabid chipmunks." Rogue bit her lip to keep from smiling at the image. "An' make sure Bishop don' feel locked out of the team. An' five Scott's blood-pressure a spike or two. Does him good. And make sure dey t'row me one Hell of a party. M' will's in m' dresser."

"Why you talkin' like this?"

"Rogue." Remy was frustrated. The words weren't coming easily. "I'm already dead."

"No! Ya still got a chance, Remy."

His eyes slipped shut as a spasm of pain worked through the numbness of his shock. //Don' f'get m'.//

*****

//Don't f'get m'.// Jean sat straight up when she caught the thought. //Remy? Remy?// There was no response. //Rogue?//

//Where the fuck you been, woman? Remy's dyin' in my arms and I don't dare leave him long enough to get out. Lord knows what the shiftin' would do!//

//Where are you? How badly is he hurt?//

//His heart's flutterin' like a starling pinned on a fence. Don't leave me, Remy. Please, stay here. Jeannie's comin', sugah.// Jean read the location from Rogue's mind. She scrambled the team and they were off.

*****

"Goodbye, chere." The demon eyes fluttered shut with the finality of a coffin lid.

//Where are y'all?//

The team was still a hundred miles out.

Rogue took a deep breath. "Don't fight me, sugah. I love you, Remy. Even the shadows you hate." She pulled her glove off and laid her hand on his forehead. His shields had already crashed. There was no resistance as she absorbed every memory, all of his power, and even his soul. He was whole in her mind, like Carol had been. She wasn't going to let the professor lock away Remy from her though. No, he would be with her until death did they part. His heart fluttered once more, then stopped.

His blood soaked through her jeans. She put on her glove, then leaned over him and kissed his forehead. :Come on, girl, get up.: he told her. :I ain't the only one hurt 'round here. Y' got t' help.:

Rogue stood up, letting Remy's body down softly. She wrenched the spike out of his coat and put it on. She pulled her hair back into a neat tail, wishing for a moment that it were as long as Remy's, then headed for the door. She heard the tapping soon enough. "Iím comin'!" she called our. She realized that she could see clearly. Remy laughed. :Seems y' got my eyes now, chere. Part of the package. Don't suggest makin' the place go 'boom' though.:

:Duh,: she responded. :Already I'm havin' second thoughts.:

:Remy'll be good, chere.:

:Ya better be or I'll have Jeannie lock ya up for me.:

:Didn't know y' were int' that sort of thing.:

She ignored that sally and focussed on getting to the survivors in the next room.

*****

Jean frowned as Gambit flickered onto the astral plane then off of it. He was a psychich ghost usually, but this seemed different somehow. It must be because he's hurt, she decided. //Rogue, what's Remy's status?//

//Gambit's dead. Long live Gambit.// Remy's mind-voice told her. //Rogue's busy. Would you lik t' leave a message?//

//She said you were dying, Remy.//

//I'm dead, chere. But also not. Hurry. Other folks need help too. The whole hospital's down near as we can tell. Rogue done found two others in okay shape. We're hopin' there's a way t' get t' admissions. There was lots of windows there.//

//Rogue's okay?//

//She's dealin'. Smart enough' repress my mem'ries 'til we got time t' sort through them t'gether. She says t' move y're asses. She ain't got unlimited powers y' know.//

Jean smiled. It was bittersweet to hear Remy's voice for what would probably be the last time. His personality would fade, even if Rogue retained his powers. She didn't share the knowledge with any other team-members. Her husband glanced at her, face grim. "He's dead isn't he?"

Jean jumped, "How?"

"That smile, honey. Damn it!" Scott smacked the dashboard. "He'd better really be dead," he muttered.

Jean's jaw dropped. "Scott Daniel Summers!"

"It's a legitimate though. We've had too many people come back from the dead, *Sweetheart*."

"Well, true, but. . ."

"The Cajun's dead, huh?" Logan asked. "Shitty luck. His cousin' just had a baby. Wonder if the kid'll make it."

Jean grimaced. "I wouldn't be on it."

*****

Rogue worked quickly, digging through the debris like a demented sea turtle building her nest. Her new friends worked at a slower pace. They didn't care that their savior was a red-eyed demon-child mutant. All they cared about was getting out alive. They gathered four more people on the way to the front desk. When she launded a tiny fragment at the window, it shattered. They scurried out, mindful of the broken glass.

"Be careful, ma petites," their savior said, then, turned back into the wreckage.

*****

Beast immediately started treating patients along with the emergency personnel that were on-site. Cyclops coordinated with the police officials and sent Warren up for an aerial view. Phoenix, Psylocke and Storm waded into the ruins. Psylocke located surviving minds and comforted them as she could while Storm and Phoenix moved the rubble.

More survivors walked out of the front window into the waiting arms of volunteers and paramedics. Phoenix gasped as she caught sight of a figure in a trenchcoat turning back inside. //Rogue!//

//Tol' y', chere, she's busy.//

//Let me talk to her, Gambit.//

Jean could sense the roll of his eyes and willed her tears away. //Rogue.//

//I'm here, sugah. I'm gettin' folks out. Can't get distracted or I'll miss one. If you've gotta talk, talk to the Swamp Rat. We'll deal with repercussions later.// Rogue's voice was brittle. It almost hurt to listen to it. Jean didn't bother her again, until they were too exhausted to keep searching.

The police chief shook Cyclops' hand. "Thanks."

"You're welcome. We lost one of our people int here. We want to take him home."

The chief nodded. "I'm sorry."

"Thank you."

Rogue carried Remy's battered body to the plane. She set it in the med-bay, then settled into a chair. She sprawled out as she stared out the window. Storm settled next to her. She reached out very slowly to twine their fingers together. Rogue summoned a quicksilver smile. "Don't frown so, chere," she said absently. "It'll give ya wrinkles."

Storm's jaw dropped. Only Jean had been privy to the fact that Rogue had absorbed the Cajun. "Was he already dead or did you kill him?" The weather goddess was very calm and quiet while she waited for an answer.

"His heart was flutterin' like a bird with a broken wing and his blood was near t' gone. His arm was crushed so bad that there's scarcely any left of it. He had a metal shard through his lungs so he could barely talk. I absorbed him at the last minute, girl. He came to me without a fight."

"Not to mention his broken back," Hank added softly. "I doubt even the Shi'ar can bring back the dead. Gambit could not have survived until we arrived."

"Merci, Henri." Hank blinked. "Don' look so cross-eyed, mon frer. Ain't the first person t' be livin' in the femme's head. Just the best lookin'." Rogue looked up at the doctor. The startling red on black combination would take getting used to. If she retained them permanently, that was. Hank smiled, then settled himself down in his own chair.

FINIS

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