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Claremont era
"Fortress Around Your Heart"

Fortress around Your Heart

Author's Notes
Chapter 1: Dramatis Personae
Chapter 2: We All Have Our Separate Battles...
Chapter 3: Tell Me Why
Chapter 4: Setting Parameters
Chapter 5: Approaching Storm
Chapter 6: Basic Training
Chapter 7: A Very Important Date
Chapter 8: Nice from Far, but Far from Nice
Chapter 9: Guest Account
Chapter 10: The Battle for Asteroid M
Chapter 11: With Enemies Like These...
Chapter 12: Denouement

Chapter Twelve -- "Denouement"

She had begun slowing down for a second pass at the asteroid when she felt Fortress' powers start to fade. Her first thought wasn't for her own safety -- it was grief that she would lose the last part of Greg that remained. He felt it, too. His consciousness fought to recall how he'd felt about her, what she'd meant to him -- the last gifts he could give, which evaporated even as he struggled.

Rogue took one last deep breath before the forcefield bubble that held her air supply disappeared. Greg faded away completely, but his last thought echoed in her mind. <<Goodbye, I loved you...>>

She cried again, though her tears evaporated in the sudden vacuum. Finally she began to wonder if she was going to get out of this situation. She had to be over half a million miles from her friends, getting further all the time at better than a quarter of lightspeed.

Wherever you are, Greg, Ah might be seein' you sooner than you expected, she thought. She fought to slow down, to turn back, though she knew it was hopeless. Her love had died, and she couldn't hold her breath for the days it would take to get back to the X-Men.

More from force of habit than anything else, she kept pushing, even as gray smudges began to edge into her peripheral vision. The stars are so bright out here, she thought. She couldn't hold her breath anymore ... she was gasping, but there wasn't any air...

She came to awareness slowly. It snuck up on her. It was a while before she remembered that she shouldn't be aware at all. When that thought struck her, she opened her eyes.

Things came into focus gradually. She was in the infirmary in the X-mansion. An oxygen mask was on her face. Medical equipment made various beeps and clicks. Curtains shielded her from the other beds. Xavier was across the room, his back to her. He sensed that she was awake and turned to face her.

"Welcome back," he said. "You were, as usual, indecently lucky. Rachel and I could barely find you, you were so far away." His smile belied the sharp tone in his voice.

"But how..." she coughed. Her throat was raw. <<How did you rescue me? Ah was going so fast!>> She cast her thoughts at Xavier.

<<Once we had a fix on your position, Lila just teleported over and picked you up.>> He sensed her objections forming, and forestalled them. <<She always appears at rest with respect to whatever she's teleporting to. If you think a moment, you'll see that she has to. After all, she can jump across the galaxy. Picture the relative velocities involved.>> There was an odd "echo" in his mental "voice".

<<That makes sense,>> she conceded. <<Is Magneto...>>

<<He was upset that you destroyed his base, but I think he's quite relieved to be rid of Nimrod. He left with Unus a while ago. I'm given to understand that the truce between us is at an end.>>

<<Can Ah see... Where's Greg's...>> She couldn't complete the thought.

<<As to that,>> Xavier said, approaching her bed, <<it's simplest just to show you.>> He drew the curtain on her right back, and she could see the next bed.

Greg smiled from behind his own mask. He had bandages across his stomach, and he still looked a little pale, but he was alive. Rogue dimly heard an accelerating beeping noise, and realized some machine was tracking her heartbeat.

"You... erk..." she coughed. <<Prof, can you...>>

<<He already is,>> she heard Greg's thoughts relayed in her mind. The echo! <<I've decided that some telepaths are useful, after all. I'd have gone crazy if Charley here hadn't sworn up and down that you hadn't suffered any brain damage.>>

<<But you were bleeding internally, half-electrocuted! You were dying!>> It was so hard to accept; she wasn't experienced in hope. She was terrified that she'd wake out of this dream.

<<Lila got me back here, and that Illyana girl found a healer, from the 'Morlocks', whoever they are. Considering what he had to work with, he did a pretty fair job. He even had some left over for Nightcrawler and Unus.>>

She was staring, this time in shock.

<<Don't look so suprised. From what I've gathered, this kind of thing happens around here a lot. I'm still kinda stiff, and I'll probably flunk midterms from all this time I missed, but ... Hey, don't try to get up! Rest a bit. I want you to be fully able to appreciate the kiss I'm gonna lay on you.>>

He couldn't know what she had experienced when she'd absorbed him. Like a dream, even she was fuzzy on the details now; but she remembered the feeling. It leaked across the telepathic link.

He winked at her. His green eyes were the most beautiful jewels in the world.

Understandably, Rogue had spent a great deal of time pondering the sex lives of others. She had long ago concluded that the couple that must have the best sex on Earth had to be Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman. Given their powers, only an abject poverty of imagination could have prevented it.

Greg had interesting powers himself, and did not lack for imagination. Rogue was positive Reed and Sue hadn't done what they had done at 20,000 feet.

After all, those two would at least have needed jackets to protect them from the cold, right?




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