Categories > Cartoons > X-Men: Evolution > Sinister Soldiers

Blossoming Relationships

by slickboy444 0 Reviews

The Evo world is forever turned upside down when a man named Dr. Nathanial Essex begins a project known as Shadow Cell from which the lives of Scott, Jean, Vincent, Wanda, and X23 are changed forev...

Category: X-Men: Evolution - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Romance, Sci-fi - Characters: Avalanche, Berzerker, Blob, Boom Boom, Cannonball, Colossus, Cyclops, Gambit, Iceman, Jean, Magma, Magneto, Mr. Sinister, Multiple, Mystique, Nightcrawler, Professor Xavier, Quicksilver, Rogue, Scarlet Witch, Shadowcat, Storm, Sunspot, Toad - Warnings: [?] [V] [X] - Published: 2007/01/27 - Updated: 2007/01/27 - 6776 words

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Sinister Soldiers
Chapter 61: Blossoming Relationships


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Later that night, Rogue and Remy made their leave together arm in arm. Word quickly spread about their date all throughout the mansion and the buzz words on everybody's lips seemed to be, "Well it's about damn time." However, Mystique made quite a fuss over Rogue, having plenty of long talks with her concerning how she was going to go about this relationship. It was only natural in many ways that she would be more proactive since now that her daughter could touch, that meant that there was a possibility for...Intimacy. And given that Rogue and Remy had been flirting for months, Mystique wanted her to be prepared.

It was a bit strange for Rogue, having her once estranged mother so actively involved in her life now. But she seemed to be doing her best to give this a chance. Although that didn't stop her from sending Remy plenty of warnings. She made it clear that if he hurt her daughter, she would hurt him MUCH worse in return. It was a pretty daunting undertaking, dating the daughter of Mystique. But for Rogue, it was worth it in the end and they went on to spend the night celebrating this new beginning with one another, hoping to make it as memorable as possible for the both of them.

In addition to Rogue, there was another couple that was creating quite a bit of buzz throughout the institute. Kurt and Kitty, while not as obvious as Rogue and Remy, had also finally come around. Their flirting had finally come to ahead and overall, everybody was quite happy for them. This didn't escape the attention of Mystique as she once again showed a more proactive role in her kids' lives by having a little chat with Kurt, much of which made him blush in embarrassment in the end. But she seemed a lot less concerned about him and Kitty in comparison to Rogue and Remy. Kitty was clearly a very sweet girl who really did like Kurt. And if she could accept him, blue fuzz and all, then that was enough for Mystique.

After all the awkward formalities, Mystique finally backed off, choosing to spend the rest of her night hanging with Shadow Cell, who always had a knack for distracting her from her worries. And for Kurt and Kitty, this was most welcomed since it gave them a chance for a little alone time. While they weren't going out on some big fancy date like Rogue and Remy, that didn't mean they couldn't celebrate their new relationship on their own terms. And their terms ended up including a rented movie, a bail of popcorn, and a tub of chocolate chip ice cream that they both shared.

"Mmm...Ice cream and a movie. Now zhis is my kind of date!" grinned Kurt as he and Kitty took another scoop of their frozen treat and shoved it into his mouth.

"Yep! And we didn't even have to leave the mansion," said Kitty, following suit as she sat back on the couch with her new fuzzy boyfriend, nuzzling up against him and enjoying this tender little moment together.

"And zhey say I'm not a romantic," said Kurt in the joking tone that always seemed to make Kitty laugh.

"Oh come now, Mr. Wagner," said Kitty, running her hand down his soft, fuzzy face, "I'd say you have quite the flare."

"You really thinks so, liebe?"

"Of course...What better way to warm a girl's heart than to treat her to a nice 'Die Hard' movie and a tub of ice cream?"

The young couple exchanged a warm smile as they cuddled up closer to one another with the ice cream still in between. They began playfully feeding it to one another, laughing and joking together as they so often did, only this time it seemed to have so much more meaning. It was a simple little romantic moment for a simple couple. And it was all the more proof that this was right. This was the way it was supposed to be. They only wished that they had done this sooner. But given how long it took couples like Betsy and Warren or Rogue and Remy, they considered themselves lucky.

While they continued to laugh and snuggled on into the night, watching as Bruce Willis capped off terrorists in his classic 'tough guy' style, their little escapades did not go unnoticed by a few casual onlookers.

"Well, would you look at that?" grinned Betsy as she and Warren stood in the doorway leading into the living room where Kurt and Kitty were having their little date, "And me without a camera."

"Yeah...Cute," said Warren in agreement, letting out an amused laugh, "Maybe now that they're together, they won't spend as much time teasing us."

"Ha! And they say I'm a cynic," said Betsy, rolling her eyes at her boyfriend's comments.

"Hey, I'm happy for them Betsy...Really, I am," said Warren as he and his purple haired girlfriend left Kurt and Kitty to their privacy, "The same goes for Rogue and Remy. I'm glad to see that their all finding a little happiness together."

"Yeah, so am I, luv," she said, taking her boyfriend's hand and leading him into the foyer, "And besides, it should make things a bit easier for us now that we're not the only couple in the mansion."

"Yeah...Now if only Bobby and Jubilee would finally get their act together, then our lives would be even easier," grinned Warren.

"One step at a time, angel boy...One step at a time," said Betsy as she drew her lover into an embrace, capturing his lips with hers.

This new sense of optimism seemed to permeate with them as it was with many of the others. After all the tension and stress they had faced with Shadow Cell's arrival, it was nice to finally have some down time where they weren't worrying about anything and everything. Sure, there was still some awkwardness, but it was nowhere near as bad as it once was. And now that things were finally beginning to settle, that meant that they could finally have some more 'private time' without the rigors of such stress hanging over their minds.

"Mmm..." moaned Betsy as their lips parted, "You know, luv...Without all the teasing, we may finally have a chance for a little 'alone time.'"

"Elizabeth Braddock...Are you reading my mind again?" grinned Warren in his husky, confident tone.

"Can't help it if you're projecting, luv," she said in a deep, sultry voice as she began to lead him up stairs, "Now come on my winged stud hunk...Let's go have a little fun."

"Lead the way my love."

**************************************************

While the couples were having their fun, many of the others were off amusing themselves in their own personal ways. For many of the New Mutants, that meant having a little video game tournament in the den where they would hopefully be away from all the mushiness. It was annoying enough that they had to see Betsy and Warren act all kissy faced around each other, but now that Rogue and Remy along with Kurt and Kitty had joined the mix, things at the mansion were poised to become sickeningly romantic.

For Tabitha, Amara, Bobby, Jubilee, Sam, Ray, Roberto, Jamie, and Rahne...It seemed as though it was going to be quite a challenge being around all these couples. Some of them were just asking to be teased and that was sure to cause a little friction here and there. But then again, that's what kind of made things interesting.

"Come on, guys! When is it going to be our turn?" groaned Jamie as he and the others watched Sam and Tabitha go into what felt like the fifteen minute mark of their match in Halo 2.

"We'll be done when we're done, Jamie! Quit you're whining, Ah'm trying to concentrate!" said Sam, growing increasingly tense as he tried to outmaneuver Tabitha, who was the reigning champ so far.

"No concentration shall save ye from my wrath, farm boy!" said Tabitha, knowing she needed only one more kill to be victorious.

"You're going down, Tabby!" grinned Sam as he began stepping up his assault, working hard to gain the upper hand now that it was down to the final kill.

"Oh we'll see, Sammy...We'll see," grinned Tabitha confidently.

Everybody watched anxiously as the two video game titans continued to slug it out on screen. Some were a little annoyed that it had gone on this long, but others were eager to see who would come out on top. Tabitha had been in the zone tonight and had pretty much beaten everybody at least once, but Sam wasn't going down without a fight...Not by a long shot.

"Twenty bucks says Tabby offs him," said Ray, thinking that Sam was starting to get a little sloppy.

"No deal..." said Bobby, "She's losing her touch. I can sense it."

"Oh, so you're psychic now?" muttered Jubilee in an amused tone, "I thought you loved to gamble!"

"Not when it's a bet that's horribly unbalanced," said Bobby, leaning back on the couch and waiting for the outcome.

"Unbalanced?" exclaimed Tabitha, shocked that anybody would question her video game prowess, "Oh now it's on Iceman! I'm going to prove you wrong!"

"Yeah, sure ye will..." said Rahne, thinking this was just getting too competitive.

"I will!" she affirmed, trying her hardest to target Sam, but he was just not giving her any good opportunities.

"Oh really? Then what do you say we make it interesting?" said Sam, a slow grin spreading across his face, "How about this...If Ah beat you, you and I go out on a date. If you beat me, I do your chores for a week."

That definitely caught Tabby's attention, turning briefly towards the Kentucky farm boy to see if he was serious. She wasn't sure whether or not he was joking, but the grin on his face told her that this was real. It shook her somewhat, for she had kind of harbored a bit of a flame for the blonde haired boy for a while. He was a genuinely sweet guy who also happened to be very cute and she had been trying to work up the nerve to ask him out for weeks. But now, here was her chance...That is, if he beat her.

"Sam Guthrie...You got yourself a deal!" said Tabitha, returning his grin as she focused back on the game.

"Oh boy...Here we go," said Ray, rolling his eyes at their competitive spirit.

The game once again started to heat up with Sam now playing with an added bit of intensity while Tabitha seemed to falter a bit. It was a tense moment...At least for them it was. The others didn't really seem to care all that much about the subtle undertone going on between them, but neither Sam nor Tabby seemed to care all that much about it. They just wanted to get through this match, hoping that the outcome would be in their favor.

Finally, Sam got his chance and instinctively, he took it. Tabby had lapsed in her strategy for reasons that seemed horribly uncharacteristic of the usually competitive girl. But it didn't seem to panic her...In fact, she kept smiling even as she knew that her time was up and Sam delivered the final blow.

"Yes! Ah win!" exclaimed the Kentucky farm boy as he stood up in triumph, "You're winnin' streak is over, Tabitha!"

"Guess that means I owe you a date," she grinned as she set the controller down.

"Guess so...But you don't seem too disappointed," he said as he watched her get up.

"And why would I be, Sammy?" she said, suddenly snaking her arms around the blonde boy's neck, "Personally...I can't say I would mind going out with a nice, cute guy for a change."

"Uh, well um..." stammered Sam, his face now blushing bright red.

"Smooth Sam...Real smooth," grinned Roberto, trying hard not to laugh.

"Some guys have all the luck," sighed Ray, thinking Sam was a lucky bastard now that he had a date with a sexy, rowdy blonde.

"Oh cheer up, Ray!" said Amara, happy that her friend had finally gotten a date with the guy she had been pining over with her for weeks, "With all the couples that have been coming together around the institute, luck is on our side."

"Yeah, and now we've got another one to deal with," said Jamie, thinking all lovey dovey stuff was just too much for a kid his age.

"Hey! Less talking, more playing!" said Jubilee as she scrambled towards the gaming system, "This time, I challenge you Bobby Drake! And I think I'll go the same route as Sam! If I beat you, you owe me a date!"

"Oh it's on now, Jubilee...It's on!" said Bobby, quickly growing overly excited, partially from the game and from the notion that he may finally have a chance to go out with Jubilee.

"Oh boy...Here we go again," said Rahne, thinking she was never going to get her turn at this rate.

Bobby and Jubilee then went on to slug it out with the others watching intently, wondering if this was going to lead to yet another couple since those two had been flirting for a while now. It seemed as though everybody was beginning to open up. Maybe it was the impact from the tense Shadow Cell situation or maybe it was just one of those spontaneous things that nobody could understand. But either way, it was sure beginning to grow now that love seemed to be in the air.

Naturally, Bobby played much harder than usual given his incentive and he beat Jubilee easily, prompting yet another victory dance of triumph. Although like Tabitha, Jubilee didn't seem all that disappointed over her loss.

"Looks like you're going out with the Iceman, Jubes!" said Bobby with a cocky look in his eye as he finished off his little victory dance.

"Oh well...I guess I'll have to manage," she said with a shrug, a smile never leaving her face.

"Anybody else here getting sick to their stomach from all this?" commented Roberto.

"You're not alone, Sunspot," said Jamie, letting out another groan.

Then suddenly, while the commotion over Bobby's victory was still going on, three new figures stepped into the room, all of whom looked a little curious as to what all the raucous was about.

"Hey, what the hell is this?" asked Vincent as he, Wanda, and Laura stepped in to see the New Mutants lofting about.

"Oh...Uh, hey guys," said Ray, sounding a bit nervous in the presence of the former soldiers, who were now also their rigorous CQC instructors.

However, for some, their presence was simply cause for more fun as Tabitha eagerly welcomed the three mutant soldiers into the room to join their little game.

"Fellas! You're just in time!" she said in an overtly enthused tone, "You want to partake in our little Halo 2 tournament?"

"Halo 2? What's Halo 2?" asked Laura.

The New Mutants just looked at her wide eyed before remembering who they were dealing with here.

"Oh, right...I guess you wouldn't know a whole lot about that," said Tabitha, now sounding a bit awkward.

"But hey, this game should be right up your guys' ally!" said Jubilee, quickly taking over from here, "Come on, let me show you."

"Uh...Okay," said Wanda, always weary about what the New Mutants had to show them, "Just what the hell is this thing, though?"

"Yeah, it sure doesn't look like the arcade games I vaguely remember," said Vincent, who was a bit more familiar with stuff like this since he had played some video games while he was back at the orphanage.

"Oh this is no arcade system my friend! This is the X-box!" said Bobby as he showed them a controller, "This is like video games on steroids. And this game just happens to be a first person shooter with aliens and explosions, so it should be a snap!"

"If you say so," shrugged Laura as she and Wanda picked up a controller and followed the instructions on the screen.

They were a bit surprised at some points, finding this interface to be a little awkward. They were so used to direct VR training or reflex testing of some sorts. It wasn't like they didn't have certain interactive elements back during their training, but it had never been in this context. The controller was certainly a little awkward at first, but they were quick to pick it up. And after seeing some of the cache of weapons, they began to get into it a little more.

"Wow...Those are nice looking guns," commented Laura.

"Yeah, they look kind of like those high tech arms we found on that mission in the Ukraine," said Vincent, his photographic memory quickly springing into action.

"Those guns that could turn a tank into a smoldering heap? Yeah, I remember," said Wanda, taking in the appearance of some of the elaborate firearms, "Even the aliens look more realistic...Kind of like those things we dealt with in Mexico."

"Wow...Hold up!" said Amara, stopping them in mid sentence, "You mean to say that some of these things are real?!"

"Oh you'd be surprise, Princess..." said Laura as she and Wanda finally completed their selection and prepared to have their first death match, "No conspiracy theory is complete bullshit, although most of it is. I still don't get why some people think aliens are green."

"Yeah, I can't remember any aliens that were green...Well, except for the shape shifters," affirmed Vincent, unable to keep himself from laughing somewhat at the looks on their faces.

"Oh, you mean those same shape shifters that tricked you into shooting me?" said Laura distastefully.

"Hey, how was I supposed to know?! Those things were tricky! And besides, you healed from it, didn't you."

"But you STILL shot me!" spat Laura, "It's just a matter of principle!"

"Well it's not like I didn't catch a few rounds from you and Scott later on when those things had us cornered and all we had were AKs and M60s."

"Well you're invulnerable...We're not," argued Laura, now playing the game with more intensity.

"Oh God, let's not do this again..." groaned Wanda, having heard this argument many times before.

While this little squabble which so strangely resembled a fight among siblings of sort went on, the rest of the New Mutants just looked on with shock and amazement.

"Okay...I'm officially very uncomfortable now," said Roberto, shifting a bit in his seat.

"Yeah, me too," said Amara, not finding that tidbit all that uplifting.

"Oh come on you guys, lighten up," said Bobby, who seemed to be a bit more intrigued by it, "So...What other kinds of shit did you guys get a chance to see? How much of all this X-files stuff is real?"

Wanda, Vincent, and Laura simply exchanged humored grins. While they did have some detailed knowledge of some truly mind blowing phenomenon, it was doubtful that these young mutant teens could handle some of it. After all, they had enough to worry about as it was being mutants in a country that wasn't exactly of the people, by the people, and for the people so to speak. But still, they humored them, for those looks on their faces never got old.

"Oh believe me, Bobby..." grinned Wanda, "If we told you that, then you'd all probably never get out from under your beds."

Knowing that these three weren't ones to exaggerate, Bobby abruptly stopped his little pursuit, for chances were they would all sleep easier if they didn't know.

"In that case..." he said as he took a seat on the couch next to Jubilee, "Some things are best left unsaid."

**************************************************

Bayville Park was beautiful under the night sky, bathed in the light of the stars and a shining half moon. It was getting late and there weren't many people out aside from a few joggers here and there and a few people walking their dogs. But aside from this quiet little scene, two figures walked closely, their arms linked together as they strolled through the night with warm smiles on their faces.

Rogue still couldn't believe it. Here she was...The once untouchable girl, out here on a date with Remy Lebeau. She never thought she would ever get a chance like this...She never even thought that she'd ever touch again. But life had once again thrown her a curve ball and her world was once again turned upside down...But in a good way.

It had been a nice evening for the both of them. Remy did his best to pull out all the stops. He took her to a nice French restaurant, took her to see a movie that wasn't half bad, even thought they didn't pay a whole lot of attention to it, and now here they were, this momentous night almost complete. It had been a bit awkward at first and they were both clearly nervous about this, but they eventually eased into things and were now enjoying a sweet little night of romance. And in their opinion, it was a night that was long overdue.

"Mmm...Nice night, ain't it cherè?" commented Remy, breaking the comfortable silence as he turned towards the Southern Belle, who was still latched to his arm.

"Yeah...It certainly is," said Rogue with a smile, "Ah honestly couldn't have hoped for a better night to call mah first date."

"Glad ya feel dat way, cherè..." said Remy with a cocky grin, "It's been...Fun, spendin' time with ya like dis."

"Thanks. Ah just wish we could have done somethin' like this sooner. It sure would have made things a whole lot easier."

"Tell me about it. But better late den never, I guess."

"Yeah, Ah guess. But it probably wouldn't have been nearly as nice since Ah couldn't touch up until a month ago," she said, sounding somewhat solemn.

"Hey, come on now, cherè," said Remy as they stopped for a moment in a clearing, "Don't t'ink of it dat way. Touch or no touch, dat didn't mean dat we couldn't share a moment like dis."

"Ah know, but it just...Remy, Ah always thought Ah was doomed," she said, her voice not lifting despite his warm presence, "Ah thought that Ah would never be able to grow close to anybody for as long as Ah lived. It was just so frustration...It just...It really messes with ya, ya know? It builds and it builds till ya just wanna scream and..."

However, Remy didn't let her finish. Being so isolated from the world had affected Rogue a great deal and now that she could touch again, it was very overwhelming in many ways. But as soon as she felt Remy's finger upon her lips, part of that tension disappeared into thin air as they both stopped in mid stride.

"It's okay, mon amour. It's okay," he said softly, speaking not from his usual cockiness, but from the heart that this woman had so strongly captured.

"Ah...Ah just," she choked out, finding herself quickly taken by his warm touch.

"I know...I know," he said, looking back at her with those alluring red on black eyes of his that always seemed to captivate her, "An'...Remy can't ever know how ya truly feel...Hell, nobody can. What you experienced was yours and yours alone cherè. Nobody can ever take dat away from you. But it's over now. Feel my hand...It's over. You ain't doomed no more."

Rogue found herself gently grasping his hand in hers, giving it a firm squeeze and soaking up the feeling of his skin against hers. It made her heart rate go up and sucked the air out of her lungs from its overwhelming power. After all this time, it was finally beginning to really set in for her. She wasn't cursed anymore. She wasn't doomed anymore. She could touch, hug, share affection, and most importantly...She could love.

It was hard to fight it any longer. She couldn't hide from it. She was in love with Remy Lebeau...That much had become clear to her from this profound night. And now that she could touch...Now that she could grow close to someone...She could finally have the one thing she thought she was never meant to share...Love.

"Remy..." she said, her voice thick with emotion.

"Cherè..."

Then, under the majestic stars of the night sky, Rogue and Remy met in a deep, powerful kiss. Taking each other in a warm embrace, their lips met in a moment of heightened emotions...A moment thick with inner conflict and turmoil. But through this, the two southern born lovers found a link together...Something that was truly sharing with one another.

Ever since they had first met, they had played their games together. But there were no more games now. This was real, honest to God emotion...The kind of feeling that so many people often dream about, yet so few get to experience. It made this moment all the more special to the both of them and it was sure to be one they would both remember now and for many years to come.

When they finally parted, they were both still in somewhat of a daze...Feeling both a rush and a sense of exhilaration as to what had just happened. For what felt like the longest time, they had been waiting for a moment like this. And here they were, finally experiencing it together. And in both their minds, it had been worth the wait.

"Wow..." said Rogue, smiling warmly at her Cajun lover, still enraptured in his warm arms.

"Oui...Definitely wow," said Remy, flashing her the smile he knew she loved so much.

"What a way to end a night," she said, hoping to commit this feeling to memory now and forever.

"Yeah...Ya really know how to show a homme a good time, mon belle."

"And to think...The night is still young," she said as she laced her arm with his and they resumed their walk.

Remy couldn't help but smile at that, for it was only further proof to him that this woman was truly one of a kind. And because of that, he considered himself one of the luckiest guys in the world right about now. Here he was with Rogue by his side under the beautiful night sky. What more could a guy like him ask for?

"You are one amazin' femme, ya know dat, cherè?" he said to her with a smile.

"Ain't that one of the things ya love about me, swamp rat?"

"Well...To name a few," he grinned, giving her a little hug after that, "So how do ya wanna spend de rest o' de night?"

"Oh...Ah'm sure we'll think of something."

A slow smile spread across Rogue's face, for she had plenty of ideas on how to make this night truly perfect. But she would save some of those for later. And if how what had just happened between them was any indication, then she was very optimistic as to where this was going for the both of them. They had waited too long for a chance like this...A chance to be together and share something that neither of them ever thought they'd experience. And after everything they had been through, she didn't want to waste a second of the time in seeing this connection between them blossom into something so much more.

************************

Back at the mansion, things began to settle as the hour drew later into the night. And while many chose to turn in for the night, there were a few of the usual latecomers who had a knack for staying up way past regular hours. After having been shown the joys of Halo 2, Vincent, Wanda, and Laura continued playing long after everybody else had succumbed to exhaustion. Professor Xavier and Hank stayed up a little later as well, mainly to finish a game of chess that had been ongoing for nearly two hours, which finally ended in another victory for the world's strongest telepath. But Hank vowed that one day, he would learn to better his old friend just as he had so many others in a game of such wits. However, like Xavier, he too eventually turned in for the night, leaving the mansion relatively quiet except in a few certain areas.

With Vincent, Wanda, and Laura now glued to the video game console, that left Scott, Jean, and Mystique to continue on their card game on their own. Even though things were opening up for them and they were slowly gaining acceptance throughout the mansion, they still valued some of their alone time together, which was usually spent either exchanging war stories or playing cards. And even though Mystique still seemed a bit bitter towards Jean at times, she was beginning to come around with her and things were definitely a lot better now than they had been.

And in addition, Ororo and Logan chose to join the game. And while they were a bit new to the overall experience, they quickly got into it and the hours simply melted away from there.

"So I heard you gave Kurt and Rogue 'the talk,' Raven," said Scott with a slight grin as he looked at his cards and tried to read what the others were doing.

"Oh yes...They certainly seemed to enjoy THAT," said Raven with a slight laugh, "But I guess that comes with being a mother. And besides, they are at that age."

"Not to mention, they've already got a few love interests now," commented Ororo, having heard about Rogue and Remy's date from the usual gossip mill that ran throughout the mansion like clockwork.

"I know...I know," said the shape shifter with a sigh as she took two cards from the deck, "But Rogue's a big girl and Kurt's a big boy now. I know that I can't necessarily control who they date or how they go about their love lives, but I can still be there to instantly gut anybody who hurts them."

"And they say you don't have a heart," grinned Logan, finding this side of Mystique to be nothing short of comical.

"Oh don't joke too much, Logan. After all, you may need to have the same talk with Laura eventually as well," grinned Raven.

Logan immediately shuttered at the thought of having THAT discussion with his daughter. He had hoped that Shadow Cell had taught her about that kind of thing so he wouldn't have to. Then again, she was a 14 year old teenage girl and it was his name on her adoption papers. He sincerely hoped that he didn't have to walk that route anytime soon, but at the rate things were going between him and Laura...It may come sooner than he would have liked.

"Oh don't worry, Logan. I'm sure you'll manage," said Ororo with a humored grin.

"Hey, compared to sentinels, Magneto, and Sinister...I'd rather handle all three than go through 'the talk,'" he muttered in response.

"Spoken like a true father," mused Jean.

For Scott, Jean, Vincent, and Wanda it was kind of strange learning to see Logan as X23's father. He had already helped her decide upon a name, something which they all failed at when they first met her and tried to help, and since meeting him, they had noticed a clear and apparent change in their comrade. As the little sister of the group, they all were very protective of Laura, but now that she had a father, it was as if their concern would have to be shared. Sure, they were happy for her that she had someone to call family. After all, she sure as hell deserved it after what she had been through. But at the same time, it was a bit surreal, for it somewhat reminded them how they didn't have any family left in the world.

It had been as rough an adjustment for them as it had for Laura, but after seeing how much happier she was thanks to Logan and his parental presence...Scott, Jean, Vincent, and Wanda were willing to do what was necessary to help both their comrade and her new family.

"Okay, what do ya got?" said Logan, holding his cards up closely for what felt like the hundredth hand.

"Pair of nines and Jacks high," said Mystique in a disappointing tone as she tossed her hand onto the table.

"Pair of Kings, Aces high," said Scott.

"I've got nothing...Just an Ace," muttered Jean.

"Three of a kind...Queens," said Logan, sounding triumphant in his tone.

Then, Ororo simply grinned a she set her hand out.

"Full house."

"What?!" said Logan, looking over to check her hand, "Damn, ya did it again, Ro!"

"This makes what? Six times?" muttered Mystique, sounding obviously annoyed by the weather Goddess's winning streak.

"Eight by my count," said Ororo with a grin as Jean used her telekinesis to gather up the cards.

"Not bad..." said the redheaded psychic with an impressed look, "Who would have thought a former weather goddess and pickpocket would have such a hard poker face?"

"What? You don't think we play cards back in Africa?" shrugged Ororo innocently.

"Well whatever they have, it works," said Logan, flashing the beautiful, white haired woman a wolfish grin, "And I don't know about you guys, but I think I've had enough hands for one night. I should probably do my rounds and turn in."

"Yeah, I should probably turn in too," said Ororo, stretching her arms and letting out a slight yawn, "What about you guys?"

"Hey, you know us. We take light sleeping to a whole new level," said Scott, still not tired despite the late hour.

"Well don't stay up too late," she said as she followed Logan out, "And thanks a lot for letting us play. It was fun."

"Yeah, thanks," said Logan as well, although he chose not to articulate it as much, given that he was a man of fewer words.

"No problem," said Jean as she sat back in her chair and let her telekinesis do the shuffling, "Take it easy you two."

Once they were gone, the three remaining players in the game took a moment to settle in. It was past midnight now and much of the mansion was probably asleep or in the process of doing so. But for Scott, Jean, and Raven, they still wanted to play their game...For as soldiers, the sleep they required was minimal at best.

"See Raven...They weren't so bad," said Scott, turning towards his shape shifting friend, who had been reluctant at first to let Logan and Ororo join.

"Says you," she muttered, "I still think Logan was looking to cut me up at one point."

"I'm guessing that's how he always is," commented Jean with a slight laugh, "But hey, he came around, didn't he?"

"Yeah, I guess so," the shape shifter conceded, "But it was probably only because he wouldn't stop gawking at that weather witch."

"Oh, you noticed that too?" asked Scott.

"Oh please! How could anybody NOT notice? With the way he was looking at her, I was uncertain whether or not I should be humored or freaked out."

"Hey, I think it's nice, really," said Jean, doing a few tricks with the cards in mid air as she so often liked to do, "Trust me, I'm a telepath. I could sense the tension between them. They definitely want each other. And from what I know about them on a personal level, they're both already very close."

"Well I don't see why they don't just let it out already," said Mystique, never one to be an expert on real honest love and attraction.

"It's...Probably more complicated than that, Raven," said Scott, sounding a bit more serious about it, "You see, they're both already close friends. It's just grown into something that neither of them probably expected. And from what I've seen, what they have is really strong. And because of that, it's just really hard to get the right words out."

"And how would you know THAT?" said Mystique skeptically.

"Because I've been there before," said Scott with a smile as he turned to Jean and gently took her hand in his.

That in turn got Jean to smile in response, prompting her to send him a special 'I love you' through their link. It was a sight that Mystique often found a bit disconcerting. In getting to know Scott and Jean along with the rest of their comrades, she had come to see that they really shared a special bond. And even though she was no expert when it came to love, even she knew that it was very strong and went beyond anything she herself could understand. In some ways, it was a bit hard to watch...Seeing two people so deeply in love and sharing the kind of things she knew she felt she would never experience. But it was just an unfortunate fact of her excessively complicated life that she had come to accept. And besides, she could live without love. Because in her eyes, her kids and her friends were all she needed.

Just then, Jean telekinetic hold on the cards suddenly faltered and she felt a slight pain in her head. The cards fell to the table and she quickly reached up to rub he temples of her head, while at the same time feeling a mysterious growl in her stomach. Almost immediately, Scott grew concerned, for Jean was certainly not one who would easily falter.

"Jean...Jean, baby are you alright?" he said, caressing the side of her face to feel if there was any warmth or abnormalities.

"Yeah...Yeah, I'm fine," she said quickly, managing to shake off the sudden and unexpected feelings, "It's nothing, just a little headache."

"A headache?" said Mystique skeptically as she gathered up the cards and began shuffling them herself, "I thought you guys never got sick?"

"We don't, it just...It's just part of being a psychic," said Jean, once again regaining her composure.

"Are you sure?" said Scott, not sounding convinced.

"Seriously babe...I'm okay," she assured her lover, "But if it'll make you feel better, I'll eat something. I've got a sudden craving for some of that leftover gumbo Ororo made last night."

"Okay, but if there's anything wrong..."

"Oh don't worry hon...If there is, I promise you that you'll be the first to know," she said with a smile, giving him a kiss on the cheek as she got up to make her way down to the kitchen.

Scott still wasn't convinced, but he wasn't sensing anything too serious through their link, so he didn't worry too much. But still, it had been rather odd. He trusted her in the utmost, but for some reason he just got this strange feeling in the pit of his stomach. He wasn't sure why, but he tried to shake it off for the time being.

"What was that all about?" asked Raven, finding her actions just as curious.

"Honestly Raven...I don't know."

**************************************************

AN: Ah, love is in the air! Kurt and Kitty, Sam and Tabitha, Bobby and Jubilee, Betsy and Warren, Rogue and Remy, Logan and Ororo, and Scott and Jean...Quite a turn, eh? Everybody seems to be coming together! After all the conflict, tension, and turmoil, things are finally beginning to settle. That means that the end is in sight folks! Sinister Soldiers is in the home stretch! There are still a few more loose ends to tie up, but it truly is almost over! Oh, and for the sake of disclaimers, I don't own X-box or Halo 2. Just thought it would be a nice little tidbit to add in! So what do you all think? Have you enjoyed this story? Please tell me! Send me your reviews via email or post them on the fanfiction website! Thank you all very much for reading and I wish each and every one of you the best!

THE END IS NEAR! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! BUT WAIT! REVIEW!
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