Author's Chapter Notes:
Someone unexpected from Rogue's past shows up to stir the pot.
1. a person who deliberately behaves in a way to provoke trouble, cause dissension, or invoke a strong reaction; agitator.

It’s been a week. I had been hoping that things would go back to normal once the dust settled, but it seems like the opposite has happened. There’s an unspoken tension in the air between Rogue and the rest of the team, and I can’t tell if it’s Rogue keeping it that way or them. Maybe it’s both.

She took off after she walked out on the group that morning, and disappeared for the entire day. Carol wasn’t kidding when she said that she and Rogue could leave without a trace; I’m the best tracker there is, but when someone can take off into the air and not leave a scent trail, all bets are off.

After searching high and low, checking all the usual haunts and then wandering the campus like a lost soul, I found myself waiting in her room, just like the last time she took off. And like last time, she came back in the middle of the night, stumbling in through the window, drunk and smelling like booze and copper.

She was angry. But more than that, she was hurt. I know that the others didn’t mean anything, and I tried to convince her that they weren’t judging her; but she saw the look in their eyes when they found out about Carol. I saw fear and confusion; Rogue saw judgment and disdain. Either way it still hurt.

Scott didn’t help things when he and Hank started talking about figuring out all the ways that they could capitalize on Rogue’s newly discovered powers. They didn’t mean any harm either, but in Rogue’s mind, this was exactly what she feared would happen. This was what she meant when she said that Xavier’s might not be that different than those elite task force operations that recruit mutants, caring only about what powers they could exploit for their own purposes. And then the look on Rogue’s face when Hank started talking about experiments…

Months of work trying to build up Rogue’s trust in the X-men were swirling down the drain, and I didn’t know how to stop it.

Nothing has been the same since then. She doesn’t smile freely at anyone like she used to. She doesn’t talk to Jubilee the way she used to, or hang out in the garden with ‘Ro any more. She’s convinced that everyone is talking about her behind her back, which I have tried to assure her they are not, but she doesn’t believe it.

Today I finally realized how badly things were broken when I walked in the door and saw Rogue hurrying around her room, gathering clothes and toiletries and tossing them on the bed; when she dragged her green duffle bag out of the closet, I realized immediately what she was doing. She was getting ready to leave.

A lump of panic rose up in my chest and I rushed over to stop her, quickly pulling items out of the bag as fast as she was stuffing them in.

“Will you cut that out?” she said with irritation.

“Don’t do this, darlin’,” I pled, taking her hand as she reached for more clothes.

“I have to get out of here, Logan. I can’t take this anymore. I don’t belong here.”

“You do belong,” I insisted. “This is your home.”

She stopped and held my gaze, her chin raised. “This will never be my home.”

“Not even with me here?”

At that she paused, and her eyes softened. “Logan…you know I…I care for you very much.” She traced her fingers gently alongside my muttonchops. “I want to be with you, but…I feel like I can’t breathe here.” She sighed and dropped her face.

“Then I’ll go, too,” I said, gently lifting her chin. “Wherever you are…that’s where my home is.”

Her eyes lifted to mine in surprise, then melted into warm honey. “You would do that? You’d leave your family for me?”

“In a heartbeat.” I bent down to kiss her soft lips and caressed her cheek. “You’re the family that matters most to me.”

Rogue looked at me for a long moment, the nodded with a smile. A wave of relief washed over me; I really missed that smile. For the first time in a week, I felt like the wall was coming down a little.

. . .

. . .
I've been able to convince Rogue to speak to the Professor before we leave; although she doesn't trust him completely, she has agreed to at least give him a heads up rather than dropping off the grid without a word to anyone. Elite task force or not, he did welcome her into the mansion with warmth and kindness, and she admitted that she was grateful to him for that. He also wasn’t there the morning of the “Muffin of Immunity” event, so it was kind of unfair to lump him with the rest of the group without giving him a chance.

I’ve also convinced her to take an extended trip instead of leaving completely right away. I told her that stepping away for a bit will allow her to clear her head and see where things stand from a less emotional point of view once things settle down.

Rogue is finished packing and it’s time to head over to the Professor’s office. She walks over to the bed where I have been sitting and I pull her to stand between my legs. “You ready for this?”

She wraps her arms around my neck and rests her forehead on mine. “Ready as I’ll ever be, sugar. Are you ready?”

“I was born ready, darlin’.”

She laughs and gives me a kiss. “How do you think the Professor’s going to react?”

“I think he’s going to be more understanding than you think.”

“Even though I’ll be in essence taking away two of his most powerful weapons? The Wolverine and the Rogue are hot commodities you know. I’m sure he knows about the full extent of my powers by now; word gets around in this place.”

“Darlin’,” I sigh, “I told you, it’s not like that. When are you going to realize that you can trust him? He only wants the best for you and every other person here.”

She looks at me tentatively for a moment, then rolls her eyes with a little smile. “C’mon. Let’s go talk to him now. I’ll give the old fart a chance to prove himself.”

“Thank you. That’s all I’m asking; give the old fart a chance.” She laughs as I take her hand and drag her out the door.

. . .

Rogue looks at me as we approach the Professor’s office. She’s nervous, but there’s also a hint of hope in her eyes. I squeeze her hand and knock on the Professor’s door.

“Come in,” he calls out, and we enter his office, hand in hand.

Suddenly, I feel Rogue stop in her tracks and her hand pulls away. Turning around, I watch as her expression changes to shock, and then anger.

“What the hell are you doing here?” She hisses.

I follow her glare and see a man standing next to the Professor’s desk. Wearing a long trench coat and carrying a bo staff, he stares back at Rogue with strange black and red eyes.

"Rogue..." he murmurs.

For a moment they say nothing to each other, but in their eyes an exchange is taking place; a thousand unspoken thoughts are written on their faces. They know each other well; that is evident. The hair stands up on my neck.

"We meet again, chère," the man says in a Cajun accent, his voice so smooth that it already makes we want to punch him. He peers at me with his strange eyes, looking me up and down before turning them Rogue again. "I'm happy to see you are well."

"No thanks to you," she spits.

"Logan, Rogue; this is Remy LeBeau, also known as Gambit. Rogue, you seem to know each other already," the Professor comments, looking at the two.

"Yeah, you could say that," Rogue replies, turning her glare towards Charles. "I have to say, Professor, I'm seeing you in a whole new light. I never thought you would associate with the likes of him," she says, nodding her head toward the Cajun.

"Oh come now, petite; is that any way to talk about an old friend?" says LeBeau.

The Professor glances at LeBeau and then Rogue, his eyes searching her face. I forgot that he is not able to read her mind; he has to figure her out the old fashioned way.

"How's Belladonna?" she asks, turning her attention back to LeBeau.

He stiffens for a split second, then answers her smoothly, "Bella's just fine. She's down in the Big Easy, doin' some reconnaissance for me."

"The Big Easy? Is that what they're calling her these days?" Rogue says with a wry smile.

"Rogue," the Professor interrupts before LeBeau can retort. "That is quite inappropriate. Not to mention that Gambit is our guest."

"S'alright, Xavier," LeBeau says with an arrogant smile. "Rogue and I go way back, don't we chère? I'm used to this sort of thing." He throws me a knowing look and leans in, talking low as if we share a secret. "She can be a fiery one, non? I know you must have your hands full," he says with a wink.

"Excuse me?" I take a step towards him, and the Professor lifts his hand to stop me.

"Logan, Remy, please. This is neither the time nor the place. We have more important matters to discuss."

"Whatever it is, it's got nothing to do with me now, Professor," says Rogue. "Logan and I are leaving."

"I'm afraid it has something to do with all of us," the Professor says, wheeling around his desk. "Gambit has been doing some intel for me, and he's discovered some unsettling information regarding the sentinel program. It has the potential to affect the lives of every mutant in the country."

"Oh and you believed everything that came out of his mouth?" Rogue retorts.

"These lips don't lie, chère." Le Beau winks at me out of the corner of his eye and discreetly makes a kissing motion with his mouth.

That son of a bitch--

"Gambit is a very reliable source, and has been for a long time," the Professor interrupts, raising his hand to stop me. "He's going to work with the team for a while to help lead a mission, and we'll need all hands on deck."

Rogue crosses her arms. "If you think I'm going to go on any mission with him, you can think again. I've worked with him before, and let's just say that the term 'no one left behind' means nothing to him."

Le Beau's eyes snap to Rogue, his expression looking like he just got a sucker punch. "You know that's not fair," he says quietly, the air suddenly sucked out of his arrogant demeanor. "You made a choice."

Rogue raises her chin, her expression stone cold. "And so did you."

The room goes silent, and once again, I can see in their eyes an exchange taking place. It only lasts for a moment before the swagger is back in his stance and the too-cool expression back on his face . My hackles are raised and a hundred questions are swarming in my mind. How do they know each other? When did they work together? And what was the choice she made? I need to know who this guy is, and what he has to do with Rogue.

"I'm going to need everyone to put aside their differences for the mission," says the Professor. This is far too important to allow any sort of history or friction to impede our chances of success."

Rogue scoffs. "That's what it's all about, isn't it Professor? That's what it's always been about. You like to pretend that we're some kind of family here, let us believe that you care about us on a personal level. But really we're all just toy soldiers to add to your little collection. I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt... but now that I know you're in cahoots with him," she nods her head at LeBeau, "that tells me everything I need to know."

The Professor stares at Rogue, stunned.

"Maybe you didn't hear me the first time, Professor. Logan and I are leaving, first thing in the morning. Don't stay up; we will be gone indefinitely."

Chapter End Notes:
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