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"Sleeping Beauty"

Sleeping Beauty

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

This story is in progress.

DISCLAIMER: Rogue and the X-Men belong to Marvel Comics. This is an unauthorized use of the X-Men. I am not making any money off of this so please don't sue me. This fanfic is copy-right by me, Link.
Timeline: This story takes place before Onslaught, around the time when Rogue and Joseph first met. The story does not center around them (sorry) and I selected this moment for no particular reason. I just wanted to try something different. That's all. And also don't bother to look for Gambit in here either. This is not a Gambit and Rogue story. Enjoy!

Chapter 1

Slamming her foot onto the pedal, she braked hard. Her body lurched forward against her seat belt as the tires screeched to a halt, a few feet shy of hitting the jay-walker. "Hey. Watch where ya walkin'!" Rogue shouted. Her eyes rolled back in disgust as the walker decided to show off a certain finger. The townspeople were sure friendly around here.

More mindful of the pedestrians, she carefully watched the street until she spotted an empty space. Now here's the fun part, she mulled over. Parallel parking. Adjusting the rearview mirror, she unsteadily back the car into the spot and managed to fit the car in the tiny space after an eternity of switching between gears and pedals. Setting the parking brakes, she happily switched off the ignition and let out a long breath, resting her forehead against her arms on the steering wheel. The drive was long and hellish. The worse part of the day was hitting traffic and crawling at a snail's pace for almost an hour. Rogue was about to throw in the towel and fly the car out herself when they finally moved off the highway.

"Where are we and why are we stopping here?" her companion asked slowly. Joseph glanced warily out the window. A few pedestrians strolled along by without any notice.

Rogue raised her head and looked at him with an arched eyebrow. He had the luxury of sleeping through most of the drive and he was questioning her. "It's gettin' late an' ah'm tuckered out. You try drivin' for four hours, sugah." She leaned back against her seat, stretching out the kinks in her neck. She giggled when she noted the condition of the steering wheel. It was slightly bent, assuming more of an oval shape. The drive must have been a little more stressful than she realized. Taking a firm grip, she worked it back to a circle. "And b'fore ya open yoah mouth again. As much as ah hate bein' grounded, flyin' ain't an option. Last thing we need is ta stick 'Hit me. Ah'm a mutant.' signs on our backs."

He smiled as he gazed out the window again. "I wasn't going to suggest such an notion. As you wisely stated before. It is not in our best interest to use our mutant powers wastefully." His hand waved over the dashboard. "Not when we have this superb piece of machinery at our disposal."

Shaking her head, she pulled out the key and collected her things. "Yeah. Ah heard that b'fore," she replied. He had made a dozen little remarks about her car. Right then she really wanted to chide him for that bit of sarcasm, but humor wasn't a quality that surfaced very often. Heck. At times she couldn't tell what to make of him. He could be quiet one moment and chatty the next. During certain occassions, he really did surprise her.

"C'mon. Let's rustle up something ta eat. Ah'm stravin'."

Locking up her car, Rogue reached into her pocket, searching for some loose change. "Watcha lookin' at, Joe?" she asked. She deposited two quarters and a nickel into the meter and turned the knob. Hopefully that would be enough. The darn thing didn't take dimes. "Ya've been starin' out the window all day."

"I was just looking at the scenery and that." He extended his hand and pointed. "It appears we haven't seen the last of our ~acquaintances~. They seem to be very well distributed," he said darkly.

Rogue groaned. "Ah don't believe it." It was a billboard with a picture of a family. A father, mother and two children. A normal family by ~their~ definition of course.

"Join Friends of Humanity. Together we can make the country safe for all families," Joseph recited.

"Of all the-- After the hell they put Ms. Watson and Stevie through. They got a lot of nerve ta post somethin' lahk that an' expect decent folks ta buy that load o' crap." Giant robots and military weapons; of all the insane things to threaten a poor mother and her only child with. Rogue snatched Joseph's hand and hauled him away, nearly dragging him off his feet. "Ya don't need ta be lookin' at trash, Joe. C'mon."

"Slow down, Rogue. Please." He had to increase his stride in order to keep up with her furious pace. "There's nothing to get upset over. We proved we are more than a match against the likes of them."

"Honey, ah know that. Ah jus' don't lahk it when they stink up the place."

After she cool down, Rogue found what she was looking for; a descent Chinese restaurant. On the outside there was a low hanging sign with the name Golden Phoenix all in gold. When they entered, there were only two other tables occupied and the lighting was very poor. Rogue could clearly smell the beef chow mein and her mouth watered. A waitress quickly seated them to a table and handed them the menus. Joseph carefully picked up the menu and peered down the list. He flipped through the pages and returned back to the front of the cover, looking lost. "Uh, maybe should order for me. I am not familiar with any of these."

"Why don't ya jus' pick somethin' ya lahk," she responded. She busily skimmed through the names, trying to locate a particular item. She was in the mood for something spicy. Sweet and sour pork sounded good right about now.

"I am not sure what I would like. Do you know?" he asked cautiously. He regarded her intently, waiting for her answer. His clear blue eyes shined with deep concern and doubt.

Her head tilted up and she frowned at his not-so-subtle question.

She hesitated, fingering her menu. He wanted to know who he was again. He asked her before, but she put him off, promising another time. How the heck could she tell him? Well, ya use ta be the most dangerous mutant on the face of the planet. Nothin' much. Ya jus' wanted ta make a safe home for mutants by terrorizin' everyone. An' oh, by the way. The people ya gonna meet happen ta be yoah enemies. Yeah, that would go real smoothly. She rather face a pack of hungry Jubilees than this. "Excuse me." He cleared his throat, quickly reaching over for a glass of water. "What I meant to say is. Do you know what 'Ant Climbed the Tree' is?"

Her shoulders relaxed as she grinned. "Ah don't know. Sounds lahk a mess o' trouble if ya ask me. Ah could ask th' waitress if ya want."

Shaking his head, he answered, "There is no need. I rather not know."

The waitress came back and Rogue made both their orders. She then disappeared into the next room. Rogue could barely hear other people talking and noticed that the waitress had seated them far from the others. Nice and private. The way she liked it.

"Tell me more about the X-Men and Professor Xavier. Why are you not with them?" Joseph began to quietly play with the fork, moving it very slightly with his mutant power. He had been practicing every so often, testing the limit and the range of his ability.

"Well, ah'm sorta on vacation. Ya know, time off from fightin' all the bad guys. Ah figger ah take in the sights." She lifted her cup and blew her tea before taking a leisurely sip. She smirked as her eyes flickered up to him. "Lucky that ah did. Who knows what ya coulda gotten yoahself inta."

He chuckled. "I didn't think I was that defenseless."

"No," she stated, shaking her head. "Yoah sure not that."

Defenseless was the last thing she would describe him as and she was pretty sure that the rest of the X-Men would share her view. They would definitely not welcome him with open arms, even in the state that he was in, with no memory and all. But she knew she had to get him back to Westchester.

Stalling for time, she extended the trip as long as she could. She needed to figure out a way to ease the inevitable encounter and ran through all the possible scenarios. None of them appeared very promising. The images of Logan stabbing him or Bishop blasting him to kingdom come went spinning through her mind. And the Professor. What would he say? And most importantly, what would he do?

Though, if she really thought about it, the whole situation seemed all too impossible anyway. Here she was, towing behind her the Master of Magnetism. What were the odds of her running into him like that? It was definitely a small world in her opinion and the mere idea was too much to believe. Maybe the shock would just numb her friends long enough from killing each other.

She sighed. Life sure never had its dull moments.

Rogue eyed the man sitting across from her again. He looked nothing like his older version. Just watching him play with the silverware was like seeing an entirely different person.

Rogue rested her elbows on the table with her tea cup still in her hand. She could feel her tummy growling and at the same time, her eyelids getting heavy. "About the X-Men. It's bettah if ya meet them first. Ya can ask them all the questions ya want then. Ah don't think ah can explain who they are any bettah."

"Then what about you? Why don't you tell me more about yourself."

She sat up straight, placing her cup on the table. "Me?" She glanced behind her. Where's the food? she wondered. "There's really nothin' ta say 'bout me."

"Why don't you let me be the judge." He bought out a boyish smile that almost startled her. Magneto she knew would never act the way he just did.

She snorted. "If ah didn't know bettah, ah say yoah tryin' ta flirt with me."

"Not at all. I am simply trying to make conversation." His eyes fell to his hands, suddenly becoming bashful. "Though...would you be upset if I was?"

She tried to hold back a smile, but failed. "Not terribly." No. Joseph was certainly not the same Magneto she remembered before. She wondered if this was what Magnus was like in his youth before he became Magneto. Full of curiosity and smiles. Nothing like the angry and driven man she knew from the Savage Land.

The waitress appeared with a tray loaded of food. She quickly place them all on the table and was gone again in a flash. Joseph studied the food.

"Dig in, sugah. Don't be shy. The food ain't gonna bite ya." She scooped up a spoonful of beef and some rice and started eating. She then looked up to watch him, wondering why he wasn't doing anything. In each of his hand held one chopstick. When he saw how she handled her chopsticks, he quickly moved them over to one hand and tried to copy her movement. A piece of broccoli slipped out of his grasp as he tried to transfer it off the plate.

"Here." She leaned over the table and reached for his chopsticks and rested them between his thumb and index finger. "Hold them lahk yoah holdin' a pencil. Lahk this." She demonstrated by picking up another broccoli. He tried to imitate the maneuver, but the broccoli dropped onto his lap along with one of his chopstick. It fell under the table with a sharp clatter.

"Excuse me," he spoke apologetically. Joseph hastily slipped underneath the tablecloth as he went to retrieve his fallen utensil.

"Take yoah time." Rogue snickered as she sat back down. When he finally showed up with the missing chopstick he had a sheepish grin on his face and moved the wooden sticks aside. "Maybe I should use a fork instead."

"Ya know. That's a good idea."

Still flustered, he quickly began eating without paying much attention to what he was doing.

"Uh, ah don't think ya should eat that. That's mighty--"

The expression on his face was classic. He spat out the green chili pepper faster than a cat would jump out of pool of freezing water. At the same time, his hand dove for the glass of water as if his very life depended on it.

"Hot," she ended. She knew the dangerous of eating a green chili pepper. The meat of the fruit was safe enough, but it's the seeds that had to be avoided. The seeds caused even the toughest of men to sweat. Joseph gulped down entire the ice water and wiped his watery eyes.

"Are ya all right?" she asked, trying desperately not to crack. He nodded his head, breathing heavily through his mouth.

Taking another gulp, he answered, "That is very hot. I cannot believe you can eat something that spicy."

"Sugah, ya haven't tasted hot. Ta me, ah would call that pleasingly mild. Ah strongly recommend that ya not try Cajun food. Now that's hot."

The way Joseph spat out the green pepper reminded her of the time when Remy had taken her out to dinner. She had never tasted gumbo before then and was unexpectedly surprised by the strong flavor as well as its spiciness. Remy had laughed hard at her immediate aversion to gumbo. She was amazed to see him finish off the horrible stuff with ease and enjoyment.

Her first real date with Remy, she mused That was awhile back wasn't it. She could still remember how he dressed and how they went on the carriage ride through the park. He had put in a lot thought into their date and she loved every minute of it. She had never been so pampered before. So wanted. Like something out of romance novel. She sorely missed the incorrigible Cajun with all his teasing and flirting. A small part of her wished she never left him and regretted her decision of breaking up.

"Oh, ah'm sorry," she spoke, breaking out of her trance. She didn't realize her hand was hovering over her plate, frozen. "Ah musta drifted off. Did ya say something?"

"I said, 'I enjoy the chow mein.'" He paused and eyed her with worry. "You seemed very distracted for a moment. Is there something the matter?"

"It's nothin'. Jus' spaced out." she muttered.

She really did wish it was nothing. She tried not to think about him, but there were times when memories materialized out of nowhere. Sometimes certain things would trigger them, like the noise of a motorcycle or the smell of a cigarette. She couldn't help but wonder how Remy was doing. Was he well? Was he still with the X-Men? If truth be known, she was more concerned with the last thought. She dreaded the idea of seeing him again after her hurried departure in Seattle, but at the same time she felt anxious. It was only a matter of time before they reach Salem. Before she had to face him again.


Continued in Chapter 2.


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