Remnant of the Past: Chapter Three



Marvel owns everyone but Remnant, so this qualifies as textual poaching.

"Are you ready?" Remnant asked Mystique as they stood outside the doors of Senator Kelly's suite of offices. She had counted minds -- there were four, but only one was the one that they needed.

Mystique, cloaked in the disguise of a pretty blonde, nodded.

Remnant opened the door to the suite and the two women walked to the receptionist.

"Hi, we're here to see Mr. Gyrich about Senator Kelly coming to our county fair," Remnant, looking like Amalie but sounding exactly like a native of one of Kelly's constituent towns, smiled brightly. "He's expecting us."

"Of course," the receptionist nodded after checking her book. After a moment on the phone, they were sent through.

Gyrich was very proud of his role as the senator's senior aide. He could unerringly weed out those whom Kelly didn't want to see and deal with them without causing any negative feelings. And while these two babes were most certainly easy on the eyes, the Mutant Registration Act was occupying all of his boss' time. And so while agreeing to the appearance at the fair was all but a given, that didn't mean that they'd get to see the Senator before then.

They chatted for a while about the fair, about Washington, about the Mutant Registration Act (Gyrich was surprised the women knew what it was, let alone that they were experts on it), and everything short of the weather when the blonde nodded to the brunette and Gyrich could have sworn the room dimmed for a moment.

The brunette stood up and walked around the desk to stand right in front of Gyrich. He turned in his seat to face her.

"Can I tell you a secret, Mr. Gyrich?" she asked, unbuttoning the top button of her blouse. He nodded, absently wondering why he didn't feel like moving.

The brunette leaned forward and Gyrich got an eyeful as she whispered in his ear. "I think you are a most attractive man."

Gyrich, his heart not the only thing suddenly throbbing, felt very uncomfortable sitting as he was and moved his legs apart slowly as to be imperceptible. The brunette smiled.

"I think we can take care of that," she whispered as she ran her finger along his cheekbone and smiled again when he shuddered. She leaned over and kissed him deeply, a kiss he more than enthusiastically returned... Until he felt something stuck into his neck. A needle, he could tell by the fluid being pushed through it. But the brunette wouldn't let him break away, holding his head in place with one hand as she emptied the hypodermic needle with the other. His last thoughts before the world faded to black were that he didn't understand why he hadn't noticed her eyes were black-on-violet before this...

"Well, that took long enough," Mystique sighed as she stood up from her seat, the blonde disguise melting into her natural blue scales.

"Tell me about it," Remnant groused as she popped a couple of white Tic-Tacs into her mouth. "You should have enough of his speech patterns and general views to carry this out for a month."

"Now explain to me again why you had to do it that way," Mystique asked as she stared at Gyrich's limp body, slowly morphing into his exact double.

"The drug works faster if his heart is pumping blood faster," Remnant explained. "And I needed to get the needle into his neck. And I needed to be prepared in case he screamed."

"You're just going to wipe them clean anyway," Mystique/Gyrich shrugged, gesturing towards the other room with the three secretaries.

"But there could be other people in earshot. It's the best way considering we don't want to be cleaning blood or excrement."

"He's not going to wake up, is he?"

"Nah, he'll be dead within the hour. Speaking of, let's get him out of here."

Gyrich/Mystique went to the purse she had brought in and took out a folded-up body bag. They placed Gyrich's body inside -- with help from the telekinesis that Remnant had absorbed from Jean Grey during her check-up at the Xavier estate -- and placed the purse inside the bag before zippering it up.

Remnant closed her eyes in concentration for a moment and then nodded to Gyrich/Mystique. As they walked out of the office dragging the body bag, neither the receptionist nor the two secretaries seemed to care.

"Will you be back in time for your three o'clock meeting?" The receptionist called to them as they were almost out the door.

"Yes, I'll be back in a moment," Gyrich/Mystique answered. Remnant may be moody at times, Mystique thought to herself, but boy, it can be funny as hell hanging out with a telepath.

"Thanks," Remnant smirked. "What? All you have to do is not broadcast."

They dragged the body to the elevator, which Remnant could tell was empty before the doors opened, and took it down to the basement, where Toad waited with the minivan. With the body in the back, Remnant telepathically gave Mystique some of what she had picked out of Gyrich's brain. Mystique thanked her with a deep kiss and then ran off.

Toad was staring at Remnant when she got into the passenger seat.

"What?"

"What do you mean, 'What?'" Toad scowled. "She just kissed you."

"I just downloaded Gyrich's last thoughts into her head and they were horny ones," Remnant shrugged. It was the truth, but she didn't feel like telling poor Mortimer that the real reason was a lot closer to the reason Raven spent so much time away from Magneto's lair with her friend Irene.

"Does Victor want a new toy or can we get rid of Gyrich right away," she asked after she let Toad stew for a few moments.

***

Gotta thank Summers for that bike, Logan mused as he parked the motorcycle in the lot. It was hard to smell Marie's presence in the busy station, but a quick check of the departure board gave him an idea and her scent picked up as he headed for the platform for the next Manhattan-bound departure.

He paused at the entrance to the car she was in. He felt a shot of something -- sympathy? -- as he watched her watch a mother and child sitting in the bulkhead across the aisle. His radar picked up something, though, and sensing danger, he broke the moment and headed to her. By the time he reached Rogue, however, whatever had alerted him had passed and he sensed nothing out of the ordinary.

They sat together and talked, Logan holding her like the little sister she had become to him, whether he'd like to admit it or not. And Rogue tried not to sound like a child as she explained that she had run away because one of the boys at school had told her a story. She rested her cowled head in Logan's lap and she could feel his fingers against her covered hair. She looked up and caught glances with the mother and the look back, one of profound understanding, startled her. When she looked again, the woman was looking away.

The train screeched to a halt and Rogue felt Logan's arm come around her to protect her from falling forward. Rogue looked up again and saw the mother doing the same for her own child. The child looked over at Rogue and smiled, her curious yellow eyes twinkling. A mutant? Some people, Rogue thought bitterly to herself, embrace their loved ones no matter what they turn out to be.

There was a commotion by the car entrance and before Rogue could see if the conductor had anyone with him, she heard Logan curse. Sitting up, she saw someone she only knew through pictures. Magneto, the one who was after Logan.

Rogue sat up as Logan moved to get up.

Snikt

Everyone on the train screamed as the claws came out. Everyone except the mother and child across from Rogue, who instead looked impassive.

Magneto wasn't impressed either. Adamantium was stronger than any other metal, but metal it was and he wasn't called the Master of Magnetism for nothing. He owned everything on that side of the periodic chart and while Wolverine's bravado was quite amusing, it was not part of his (and Amalie's) efficient plan. She had known the girl would run away as soon as Mystique planted the seeds of distrust within her. Amalie had also known that Wolverine would follow and would be there ahead of the X-Men.

A quick flick of the wrists and Wolverine was in crucifixion pose, arms outstretched over the cowering passengers. With a smile, Magneto drove Wolverine against the back wall, acceding to Amalie's telepathic wishes that he elevate his projectile so that the claws not clip any of the humans en route. He absently wondered about Amalie's newfound concern for collateral damage, especially when it was of the homo sapien variety. I expect gratuitous violence from Victor, not from you, she spoke in his mind in that tone of voice that suggested someone was going to be sleeping in the spare bedroom if they didn't comply.

Rogue looked around. Logan was spitting mad pressed against the wall like a magnet on the fridge, frustration almost tangible even if you weren't empathetic. Everyone else on the car seemed to be ducking down, all except for the mother and child across the aisle. She thought it odd until the child sat up, away from the mother, and smiled quaintly.

"What's the matter, Rogue," the child asked, standing up and stretching... into the blue-scaled Mystique. With the loss of physical contact, the mother returned to her natural state as well, and Remnant stood tall in her black finery.

"No!" Rogue screamed, but then fainted as she felt Remnant's surprisingly soothing touch on her mind.

Logan aimed his most vicious thoughts at Remnant, who obviously felt them and turned, violet-and-black eyes glowing with either contempt or rage. He braced himself for the psychic blast he expected her to return with, but none came. Instead, he saw the mental image of a toddler, black hair and blue eyes which he knew to be Mali's and a bright laugh. He didn't know if that was hers as well -- it was the laugh of the innocent and carefree and the Mali he knew was neither of those.

Toad appeared at behind Magneto and he and Mystique loaded Rogue into a burlap sack as Remnant looked on. Logan noticed that all of the passengers were fast asleep, no doubt at her (he didn't know he could think of her as 'Mali' anymore, but 'Remnant' was still an abstract concept) doing.

There was a pounding on the outside of the car and through the window, Logan could see Sabretooth.

"Can you float her out?" Magneto asked Remnant, wiggling his fingers the way people did when they were describing telekinesis.

"I used it up when we dealt with Gyrich," Remnant explained as she shook her head. "I've got a touch of Storm left, but I'm just as likely to make it hail as I am to blow her outside on a gentle breeze."

Mystique waved to Sabretooth, who ducked inside the too-low doorway and smiled cruelly at Wolverine before picking up the sack containing Rogue. He didn't seem to either know or care which end was up and Mystique had to make sure he didn't crash Rogue's head against the doorframe.

Magneto and Toad followed behind, and Remnant took one last look behind her as she, too, made her exit.

Logan tried to move after Magneto left the car, but found himself still stuck against the wall. He magnetized the damned car itself, he fumed.

By the time the Brotherhood had made its way to the front entrance of the station -- Remnant having 'convinced' everyone inside that the troupe was absolutely unworthy of special notice -- the police were out front in force.

Magneto didn't realize Xavier was there until Mystique suddenly transformed herself into an infant (who was promptly scooped up by Remnant) and Toad started speaking to him about letting the girl go. As Sabretooth started to walk towards the police carrying Rogue, Magneto sighed. The policemen's guns were turned on them and the click of their safeties being undone was audible in the suddenly silent lot.

As Magneto and Xavier staged their battle, Remnant allowed her mind to wander. Not too far, just enough to be amused by the scene back at the rail car. Cyclops was reluctantly, very reluctantly, cutting the car away from Logan. She could hear Cyclops' mental grumbling about others' concern that he not aim the blasts too close to Logan's body and she could feel the mixture of reluctant gratitude and irritation that Logan was giving off at having to be rescued -- yet again -- by a man he didn't like.

"Did you hear me, Amalie?"

"Pardon? No, Erik, I did not." Remnant shook her head of the cobwebs.

"Are you ready to go? Charles will sacrifice the girl on behalf of all of these... humans. We are free to leave," Magneto looked a little disappointed. "And can you convince Mystique to revert to a less cumbersome form?"

"She's not very heavy," Remnant shrugged, looking over the infant in her arms. "I'd rather wait until we are clear of Xavier. I don't think I have the strength to maintain my psi shields and deal with Raven at the same time and I don't want Xavier butting in when I can't defend myself."

"Are you all right?" Magneto looked at her critically. "You look a little pale."

"It's been a long day. Maintaining my disguise on the train, plus tampering with the minds of the station full of people... I'm just very tired."

"Let me take the child, then," he held his hands out and Remnant handed over the infant Raven. "You can rest for the balance of the day once we get back."

They walked to the helicopter Toad had stolen and piled in. It was cramped enough with Rogue, so Remnant didn't undo Xavier's handiwork until they had landed back at their headquarters. She was tempted to call Destiny and have her come and pick up her dear friend as-is, but decided against it.

Mystique, once again an adult, was rather amused by her day spent imitating children. She was making arrangements to be flown by Toad back to Washington to return to her existence as Gyrich when Remnant went up to the quarters she shared and fell asleep on the bed after having only taking off her boots.

After having secured Rogue in one of the cells, Magneto worked on his device for a while before, too, feeling the effects of the long day. Sabretooth having gone off with Toad to return Mystique to Washington (he strongly suspected the two would find entertainment there), the quarters were quiet except for Rogue's crying and screams.

Realizing that Rogue couldn't be heard from the living quarters, he retired there, checking in on Amalie to find her sprawled on their bed still in her work clothes. He didn't want to wake her, but he knew she'd want to change and there was no access to his side of the bed unless she moved.

His own uniform was not silently removed, so it was no surprised when a voice came from the bed, muffled by a pillow.

"What time is it, Erik?"

"Eight. Would you like to shower first?"

Amalie answered him with a groan, but rolled over and sat up on the bed. "I'll go. You know where to find me," she smiled drowsily and padded off, grabbing her robe on the way.

Erik smiled after her. He might follow, he might not. There were times when he wondered what he was doing taking up with a woman half his age and felt quite the fool, no time more acutely than in the shower, or any other brightly lit place where he could see the ravages time has wrought to his own body and most certainly not to Amalie's.

You're being unnecessarily self-conscious, Amalie's voice chided gently in his mind.

And you're being unnecessarily nosy, he thought back.

I can feel the waves of self-doubt from here, she returned. And it doesn't suit you at all. Now come help me wash my back.

***

The War Room was dark, which was probably appropriate. Rogue's disappearance and Logan's seething anger over it made the school itself a somber place. But now, the team looked over computer projections and data, hoping to find Rogue and the Brotherhood before they acted upon whatever evil intentions they surely possessed.

Xavier spoke quietly as he explained the situation. Remnant, obviously a telepath, had shielded the Brotherhood from Xavier and Cerebro until they were quite obviously dispersed. Some of the group had appeared in the Washington area, then Baltimore, then a few other locations, but Magneto and Remnant herself were completely hidden. Unfortunately, so was Rogue. Xavier suspected that Erik had built his headquarters with the express purpose of circumventing Cerebro, thus making the job more difficult.

Making things even more difficult was Logan. Wolverine wanted little to do with the X-Men, whom Xavier knew he did not trust, but was at a loss for alternatives as his preferred one -- to work solo -- had so recently proved inadequate. Xavier knew the man was wracked with guilt for letting Rogue be taken, even though there was very little -- if anything -- he could have done to stop it.

The briefing finished and the X-Men went off to contact more mundane sources of information -- the police, informants, and the like. Logan stayed behind a moment.

"Professor?"

"Yes, Logan?"

"How did Mali... Remnant and Mystique sit right across from me without me being able to pick them up?"

"I suspect she 'convinced' you that nothing was wrong."

"But I should have smelled her. Even if I couldn't smell their disguises."

"Remnant knows you well," Xavier explained carefully, trying not to tread on unwelcome or unsteady ground with the other man. "She has undoubtedly used her telepathy and empathy on you before, so it was easier for her to slip through your defenses. Another telepath would not have been able to. I couldn't have."

"So I got Rogue taken? She wouldn't have been able to pull that with you, though, right?"

Xavier sighed. "No one of us is responsible for Rogue's disappearance. That is a group error, one that we will soon correct. I don't know the level of Remnant's telepathic abilities, so whom she may or may not have been able to affect is pure speculation. I do know that she would not have felt the need to bother at all had it been anyone else but you. She fears neither the X-Men nor me."

Logan nodded and then left the War Room, still unsatisfied but needing to sort things through. Xavier could sense his desire to blame the X-Men for Rogue's disappearance, but it was coupled with Logan's own guilt and the two warred in his psyche, as did the continued presence of Remnant.

Xavier couldn't afford to dwell on the brooding man for long. The investigation into what had caused Rogue to go missing in the first place had led to suspicion of a security breach, one that Cyclops was loath to admit but eager to track down.

Bobby Drake had been spotted in too many places at once for even the smooth teenager to have handled, although Logan had needed some strong convincing not to take out his frustrations on the boy. Now that it was known that the 'good Bobby' had been innocent, the boy who would be Iceman was as eager as everyone else to return Rogue to the school. Storm had apparently had to talk to Drake about returning Jean's ophthalmoscope and not examining fellow students' eyes in case they were being impersonated by Mystique.


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