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
"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
<<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
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
<<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
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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