Title: Means to an End
'Verse: Comic-verse, 616. Set directly before Adjectiveless Issue #192
Pairing: Implied Rogue/Gambit, slight Rogue/Sabretooth
Rating: Teen to adult for language and implied themes
Genre: Angst a little good'ol creepy UST
Summary: Rogue reminds herself there are things worse than death, and has a little altercation with Sabretooth that goes somewhere a bit unexpected.
AN: A little bit of backstory: Sabretooth is currently the prisoner of the X-Men after asking for sanctuary. Remy (Gambit) recently ran off and joined Apocalypse, becoming his Horseman Death. The X-Men defeated Apocalypse and Remy and Sunfire left the mansion together, after Remy tried to kill Rogue. Rogue is currently the leader of a team and the X-Men are battling a mysterious group of villains called "The Children of the Vault".
Dedicated to willowaus. Thanks to kirabutler and resolute for the beta!
Means to an End
"Creed trailed this trouble across our path, Scott. Seems only fair he takes his share of it. Plus, there's no one better at staying alive than he is. He's proved that." Rogue, X-Men, Issue #192.
"Looks like you ain't havin' a good day, sweetheart."
Rogue looks up as Sabretooth smiles; all flashing incisors and cruelty personified. She watches as he tests the length of his adamantium chains, muscles flexing as he pulls his arms tight. They rattle almost musically. If he's trying to frighten her, it's not working. One little touch from her skin, and even this overgrown cat'll go down. At least, that's what she tells herself.
"It doesn't matter if I am or not," she says tightly, pulling the green cape around her as if she's cold. She's not, but there are too many thoughts that drip like poison through her mind and slide, ice-like, down her spine to curl up cold and hard in her stomach. Mystique and whatever devious reasons she has for hanging around and trying that mother/daughter bonding crap. The safety of her team, who are looking to her for guidance that she doesn't feel she has. The Children of the Vault, who nearly killed them all, and will try again if they don't do something about it.
Remy, and wherever he is now. The feel of his hands around her throat, the memory of his eyes when he--
No. I'm not thinking about that.
Sabretooth is growling with feral delight and sniffing with exaggerated gestures. "Smells like guilt. You all bothered by what happened with the Cajun, little girl?"
She's surprised and she can't hide it; her head snaps up and she purses her lips, narrows her eyes. "You don't know anything, so shut up." It's juvenile, but she's tired of feeling like an adult. Tired of being in charge. Oh, in a minute or so, she'll buck on up and lead her team and fight the good fight. It's just, right now, she's tired and she doesn't care.
"People, you know, they're funny. They don't seem to watch what they're talking about in front of prisoners. As if we can't hear just because we're in chains." Sabretooth makes the adamantium chains dance again, threateningly. He probably has a point, though. They've not treated him as anything other than an inconvenience since he's been here, because that's what he is.
If I can just give him that shot of Nano-Sentinels, he won't be much of anything scary anymore. No one agrees with her plan but she's in charge, and they shouldn't put her in charge if they don't like her decisions. Rogue lifts her chin a notch. "It's not my fault if Gambit makes bad choices." That's putting it mildly, but she's not interested in airing her dirty laundry for Creed's benefit. Besides, it's a tired argument. Gambit has made other bad decisions, hasn't he, and she's always been the one left to pick up the pieces.
"Maybe he wasn't gettin' what he wanted, so he took off to find it," Sabretooth says slyly, and Rogue wonders how much he really knows or whether he's just talking to hear his own voice; to feel like he has some power over his captor, a slip of girl in green.
She walks over and stands directly in front of him. "I ain't afraid of ya," she says slowly, her accent honey-sweet. "So ya can just stop tryin', kitty cat, and take a catnap or whatever it is you do to occupy your time. Maybe if you're real nice to me, I'll set you up with a big ball of yarn."
"Only reason you ain't afraid of me, little girl, is because you think I'm all tied up." He grins again, licking his lips obscenely. "You ain't got a clue what I could do to you."
"Yeah?" Rogue stares up at him from shadowed eyes, uncaring of the difference in their statures. She's taken bigger men than him down. "Maybe I know, maybe I don't care. You're the means to an end, Creed, and when we don't need you..." She trails off because she can't say the word death without thinking about white hair and crimson eyes. Besides, her threat is clear enough. She’s taken a page from Cyclops’ book, and learned how to make each word count.
"You're too much of a cock-tease bitch to do that," Creed says with a rumbling laugh. "You're an X-Man, and you stand for truth and humanity and all that shit. Shoulda just killed me the second I stepped on your lawn. Ain't gonna be as nice to you, little girl, when I get outta here. And I will." He shook the chains again, reminding Rogue inexplicably of Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol, trying to scare Scrooge straight.
My lover became Death, and you think I'm scared of you? "I ain't a pansy, Creed. There are things I can do to keep us safe from you that ain't killin'." Her voice lowers and she smiles at him. "That's what you should be scared of, Sabretooth. There are things worse than death."
The word tastes like sickness in her mouth. She turns her back to walk away, but his growled answer reaches her before she can leave.
"Just ask your Cajun, yeah?"
Maybe he knows more than she thinks.
Rogue whirls and ends up right in front of him, right-hand glove off, fingers a hairsbreadth away from his face. They're staring at each other, both breathing hard. She touches him for just a second, lets a little of him drain into her. Her muscles shift and move like she's trying to escape her own flesh. She can feel something sharp pressing against her tongue, can smell Creed and the scent of fear he's trying to hide. She gives him a version of his own smile, pressing tongue to her elongated canines. "Yeah. That's right. Just ask him."
Sabretooth sniffs the air, his eyes narrowed. His mouth curves suddenly into a smile, and there's a look on his face she's never seen before. "You miss your man, sweetheart? Come here, let me outta these chains, and I'll teach you how to purr."
Rogue smiles for the first time in days, a real smile, one that pulls her mouth up and makes her eyes shine. "That line work on a lot of women, Creed?"
"Enough," he says with a shrug, still leering at her. There must be something--animal pheromones, who the hell knows--that she's emitting that makes him look at her like he wants her for a meal, and not just because he wants to tear out her jugular with his teeth. His power echoes in her mind and bounces around in her skull, and she's moved closer to him without realizing it, fingers dancing up his chest and feeling the race of his heart.
"That'd kill you, sugar," she says, and she does purr--deep inside herself, a rumble where before there was that icy dread--"Not like that'd be a bad thing, I guess." She blames it on her powers, what she does next; Rogue drags her fingernails down his cheek, just to watch red scratches rise to the surface.
"You want to fuck me to death?" Sabretooth gives a low laugh, and his breath is warm on her face. "If that's the way it's gotta go..." He nips at her, playfully maybe, or maybe he really does just want to rip out her throat. "Let me outta here and I'll see about it. Can't say it wouldn't be a helluva fuck, girl."
His power is beginning to fade, and reality is intruding in sudden frigid waves past the burn of illicit desire that's momentarily taken over. Rogue blinks and moves away from him, too warm and a little embarrassed. His eyes are hot, though, and she thinks maybe she's not the only one who might have been--tempted? What did she want from him, exactly?
In her mind flashes images of ripping claws and stinging bites, hands around her throat that aren't Remy's. Skin she doesn't have to worry about protecting pressed up against hers. A man she wants dead and doesn't love, instead of the man she loves who was Death and tried to kill her. Forgetfulness and pleasure and pain, and an end to the threat that is Victor Creed.
They have to give Sabretooth those Nano-Sentinels, now.
Rogue leaves him there without another word, though she can feel his laughter in her mind as she leaves. Her tongue presses against her teeth, and for just a moment, she mourns the fact they're no longer sharp.
There are worse things than death.