Kismet

Wolverine eyed the horizon skeptically. "You sure we're goin' the right way?" He turned to face Rogue, who was driving the boat, before continuing. "I mean, it's a great big ocean out there, you sure you know what you're doin'?"

As she allowed the foreign memories to wash over her, she felt the change coming, so stopped the boat before she could do any damage. Logan watched as her hair turned white and her eyes clouded over, robbing her of one sight, and giving her another. Her physical changes were the result of powers she absorbed from the shape shifter, and her adoptive mother, Mystique, while her ability to see visions came from contact with her other foster-parent, Irene Adler, otherwise known as Destiny. "We're close," she said, waving him over to the controls. "Keep us goin' in the same direction, and ah'll tell you when to stop. Ah'll know it when ah see it."

He almost made a crack about the last thing she said, but thought better of it. Rogue was especially touchy about Destiny and her diaries - she felt they were cursed, that Destiny herself was cursed to bring ruin to those who read her premonitions. He worried that her attempts to prevent others from finding the diaries, and becoming jinxed themselves, would become an obsession that would destroy her as well. But she hadn't reached that point just yet.

She felt her way to the bow of the boat, where she placed her hands on the railing and tilted her head up slightly towards the warmth of the sun. As the wind tore at her hair with invisible fingers, Logan was reminded of those majestic ships of yore that had women's figures on their mastheads. He didn't know if the purpose of these women were to guide, or protect, the ships, but he knew Rogue could do both. In that pose, she was a psychic mermaid guiding her vessel.

After a few minutes, she held up her hand, and he reduced their speed. But it soon became apparent that the gesture wasn't meant for him...she cocked her head and leaned forward, as if she was desperately trying to hear the whispered words of ghosts deep below the waves, even though the only voices speaking to her were those in her mind.

"Stop," she said suddenly. "Stop here. This is the best place to go in." She turned to face him, white hair and cloudy eyes remaining, and pointed to a buoy he knew she couldn't see. "We'll drop anchor here."

He did as he was told, and began double checking their equipment while Rogue waited for her vision to come back. She sat in darkness under a sunny sky, going over the directions in her head over and over. The memory - Destiny's memory - had surfaced about a week ago, when Rogue was reading a book Beast had leant her. He had been encouraging her to broaden her horizons lately, and she finally gave in to his suggestion. Although she wanted to start with something easier, he insisted they begin with Shakespeare, and she reluctantly accepted his collection of Shakespeare's plays. It wasn't as difficult as she imagined it would be, and with Beast's help, she read all of Romeo and Juliet. Once she was used to the language, she was determined to make it through the next play herself, and was already more than halfway through Hamlet when the memory hit. Destiny's memories always had a strange flavor to them...after all, they were the recollections of a blind woman who could "see" the future. It was hard for Rogue to put them into words. But somehow her brain was able to sort out the information into data she could use. This particular data had to do with the precise location of one of the diaries Destiny had scattered around the globe, a topic Rogue felt strongly about. Not only should the diaries be kept from falling into the wrong hands, she believed they could do damage even in the right ones. The future wasn't meant to be known beforehand...the predictions in the diaries would bring destruction to anyone who read them.

"Hey," Logan put a hand on her shoulder. "You ok?"

Rogue opened her eyes - she hadn't realized she had closed them - and looked at him. "Yeah...ah just got a little preoccupied. We ready to go?"

"Everythin' checks out, so we can get goin' whenever you're ready."

"Let's go then."

They put on their BCDs (*author's note: Buoyancy Control Devices - vests divers wear...the air tank is attached to the back of it. The purpose of a BCD is to help you attain neutral buoyancy once you reach the correct depth by blowing it up or deflating it.) weight belts, face masks, and flippers, and jumped into the water. Regulators in their mouths, the pair slowly let the air out of their BCDs and sank to the bottom of the ocean. Rogue hadn't been SCUBA diving in a long time, and had almost forgotten the feeling of freedom that accompanied it. Under the waves, she was just like everyone else. In her wet suit, flippers, and gloves, there was no way she could absorb anyone else. It was perfectly normal to have a full wet suit on, even here in the tropical waters of Hawaii, because body heat was lost quickly in the water. This way she could stay in the ocean for a longer period of time without getting cold. As for her gloves, they were an accessory often worn by divers to protect them from the sharp edges of coral, or stings from creatures such as fire sponges. Down here, she covered her body for completely different reasons than she did on land...for so-called "normal" reasons. Not because of the fear she might do harm to others, but to protect herself from the environment she was in.

While Rogue savored these thoughts, Logan was plagued by concerns. Although he was a certified diver, he didn't find the same solace in the underwater realm...quite the opposite, in fact. He wasn't happy that he lost one of the senses he depended on the most - his sense of smell - when he ventured to the ocean floor. It was often this sense that alerted him to danger before anything else, so he was exceptionally jumpy when he was without it.

Particles of sand drifted gracefully up around them when they finally touched down, approximately 60 feet below the surface. Both adjusted their buoyancy before they were on their way. Feather duster worms, sea anemones, rainbows of fish...they all went unnoticed by Rogue, whose entire being was focused on her destination. Meanwhile, Logan drank everything in as a means of making up for the loss of the use of his olfactory glands...because they weren't a couple of sightseers on vacation or treasure hunters searching for sunken pirate ships, they were X-Men on a mission. The possibility of danger was admittedly slim - this mission was of Rogue's design, and few friends knew the details, forget enemies - but he was taking no chances.

They were only swimming for five minutes when they came across a series of coral cliffs. Rogue dove deeper so she could swim next to the side of the cliffs, with Logan close behind. It wasn't long before she located a small hole in one of the coral walls. She pointed to her discovery, and the two swam closer to inspect it. Rogue was the right size to fit through the hole on her own, but the tank on her back added too much bulk, leaving her with two options. And though she was hesitant to destroy any part of a reef, she preferred tearing off a few hunks of coral to risking the swim without air. So that's what she did.

Without the excess coral, the opening to the cave was just large enough. She knew it would open up after a few feet, so as long as she was careful entering and leaving, she shouldn't have any problems. She motioned for Logan to stay behind, unhooked the small flashlight from her BCD, and cautiously made her way into the passage, which lead her into an extensive cavern. Dozens of thin shafts of light shone through the porous roof of the cave, a touch that, coupled with the silence, resulted in the creation of an underwater cathedral. This place, untouched by man for so long, was sacred. She shouldn't be there. Rogue tried to shake off her uneasiness and concentrate...she was there for a purpose. But the feeling stayed with her even after she had retrieved the watertight box from an alter-like rock and left the cave.

Once they returned to the boat, Logan expected Rogue to immediately examine the contents of the box. Instead, she jumped behind the controls and sped towards the big island of Hawaii without a word. He was tempted to open the box himself - after all, he'd never actually seen one of the famous Libris Veritatus - but felt uncomfortable doing so. This was Rogue's mission, she called the shots. He respected her position as the leader...that was one of the reasons Rogue had asked him to accompany her. Which is not to say that the other X-Men wouldn't follow her as their leader, but few would understand her seemingly contradictory urgency to find, and reluctance to face, that which now lay on the floor of a boat. Even Gambit, who offered to accompany them and was politely turned down, would have picked the lock and inspected the item inside already, in spite of how well he knew and loved Rogue. Logan would wait until Rogue was ready to face it.

~

When they returned to the hotel, Rogue sat on her bed and massaged her temples. This was stressful for her. Logan placed their prize on a table across the room, and her attention immediately focused on the object she had retrieved from its hiding place. She looked at it with a mix of yearning and dread...Pandora pondering the consequences of her actions before she opens the infamous box. Logan went outside onto the balcony to give her privacy.

Alone with her thoughts, she remained frozen on the edge of her bed. To open the box, or not to open the box...that was the question. With temptation only an arm's length away, could she resist the charms and torments of the future? All her rational thoughts warned her to leave things well enough alone, but the twisted mysteries contained in that shiny hunk of metal were difficult to ignore. She got up and approached the table cautiously, as if she were waiting for some kind of demon to appear and challenge her to a duel, but no such monster came forth. She fingered the box gingerly...she could almost hear Irene's voice in her ear, telling her not to be afraid.

"Logan," she called out. "Ah'm gonna open it."

Rogue had already taken out the lock picking kit Gambit gave her by the time Logan came inside.

"Since when can you pick locks?" he asked her as she expertly moved the tiny tools into position.

When she glanced over her shoulder at him, she saw that her eyes had changed from their typical green to Gambit's black scleras and red irises. "When you got de memories of a t'ief at your beck an' call, easy as pie."

Logan wondered why she didn't just tear the blasted thing apart, but wrote it off to her affection for Destiny. After all, this box had belonged to her at one point or another.

"Done," she said a moment before the lock clicked open. "Now let's see what we really have here." She lifted the lid and peered into the metal coffin. Reaching in, she pulled out a thick, bound book with one hand, and a piece of paper with the other. "It's one a' her diaries, all right." She placed the book back in the box, and held the paper in both hands.

"Rogue," she read aloud, " Ah know this letter finds you well. Ah hope you've been enjoying the beauty of the islands, though ah fear you've been too preoccupied to have a good time. Why don't you forget about this volume for a bit, relax, and go out for a few hours. I'm sure Logan will oblige. But make sure you're back by 3...you're expecting a call."

Logan felt a chill run down his spine, but hid it well. This was exceptionally creepy. "I think the lady's right."

Rogue placed the paper back in the box and closed the lid. "Excuse me?"

"You've been pretty tense the last few days...we're in Hawaii, why don't we go out an' enjoy the beaches, catch some rays, forget about the whole X-Men thing for a couple hours?"

"Ah don't know...the diary..."

"The diary ain't goin' nowhere. C'mon, it'll be fun." He wanted to get her mind off Destiny's predictions, the sooner the better. He didn't like the look in her eyes since she had swam out of the cave with that box. He wondered if his concerns about her becoming obsessed weren't too far off base.

Rogue glanced at the alarm clock on the night stand. It was a little after 11 am. "Fine, but ah want to be back here before 3."

Logan would take what he could get. "Done."

The two went to one of the many black sand beaches for several hours. Logan was content to snooze on the beach, but Rogue was antsy, so she opted to go snorkeling instead. Now that she was no longer on a quest for the secrets of the universe, she could appreciate the tropical marine life she had previously been oblivious to. When she had enough of the ocean's charms for one day, she joined Logan on the beach. She had planned on doing some reading, but found the copy of Shakespeare's works missing from her bag. She could've sworn she packed it, but came to the conclusion that she'd simply forgotten it. She scolded herself for being so careless as she stretched out on her towel and got herself suitably situated to get an even tan.

By 2:30 they were back in the room. Rogue once again sat on her bed, this time next to the phone, and waited with the fear that Destiny was right. But 3 o'clock came and went, and nothing happened.

Logan waited until after 4 to approach her. "Guess she ain't such a good precog after all, huh?"

"Ah don't understand," Rogue shook her head. "She's never wrong."

He sat next to her and put his arm around her. "Why don't we get cleaned up, and we'll go out for dinner."

"There's somethin' wrong here," she insisted. "Ah just can't put my finger on it."

"Maybe you broke the pattern of events that would lead up to the phone call," he suggested.

"But she knew ah'd find it, she knew you'd be with me..."

"Nobody ever said she was infallible, did they?"

"No..."

"Then maybe she made a mistake. I'd a' thought this would make you happy."

Rogue ignored his last comment. She stood and headed for the bathroom. "Ah'm taking a shower. You'll have to wait your turn."

~

The ocean was lapping at her bare feet as she stood on the beach...the moon was on its last quarter, and the stars sparkled like glitter in the sky. But everything was slightly out of focus.

"Rogue?"

She turned around and saw Irene Adler standing behind her. "This is a dream."

Irene followed the sound of her voice and embraced her foster daughter. "Of course it is, child, how else would I get to see you?"

Rogue squeezed her back. "Ah've missed you, Irene."

She stroked Rogue's hair, comforting her with a mother's love. "I've missed you too. But I'm always watching."

Rogue pulled away from her and backed away a few feet. "You're not watchin'...you've seen it all years ago. Mah life is nothin' more than a rerun for you. But ah don't want to be a character in one a' your books, ah want mah own life."

"I am not a shaper of destinies, I merely record them," Irene argued patiently.

"Why? Why force us to see what will be? Why burden me with the knowledge that mah choices are not mine to make? Ah don't want to believe it. Ah won't believe it. Ah'll shape mah own destiny, ah don't care what your precious predictions say."

"Then you're stronger than I ever was. Or Mystique was. Your hope is staggering, Rogue, and it is my greatest wish that it is never extinguished. Perhaps your fate is to break the spell I unwittingly cast when I sat down with pen in hand all those years ago."

"Ah have no fate! Don't you understand?" she was yelling now, sick of hearing about destinies and fates and premonitions. "Mah future is unwritten 'til ah decide to write it mahself."

Irene nodded. Whether the action was an acknowledgment of Rogue's determination, or the acceptance of a conversation she had been expecting was unfathomable. She approached Rogue once again and kissed her on the cheek. "You have to go now."

"What?" Rogue asked. "But ah just got here. Ah don't want to fight...ah want to talk to you. It's been such a long time."

"I'm sorry," Irene said, backing away, "but you have to answer the phone."

Destiny's words hit her like a slap in the face. "What did you say?"

"Good-bye, Rogue. No matter what you may think of me, I want you to know that I've always loved you. Now go, he's waiting for you."

"Wait!" Rogue cried as she sat up in bed. The room was dark except for the splash of moonlight peaking through the curtains and the glow of the numbers on the alarm clock. It was 2:59 am. She took a deep breath and leaned her back against the headboard of the bed, her eyes glued to the clock. The minute took hours to pass. And when the digital number changed, the phone rang.

She picked up the receiver before the first ring finished. "Hello?" she said warily.

"But soft! What light t'rough yonder window breaks? It is de East, and Rogue is de sun! Arise, fair sun, and kill de envious moon, who is already sick and pale with grief dat thou her maid art far more fair den she."¹

"Gambit?" she asked. She wasn't sure what she was expecting - the grim reaper, the boogie man, the devil himself? - but she was relieved to hear a familiar voice on the other end of the phone.

"De one an' only. How goes it, ma cherie?"

"Ah just had the strangest dream..." she began, but stopped herself. She wasn't sure she wanted to drag Gambit into the web of destruction Destiny had unintentionally created.

"Tell Gambit about it." Rogue didn't answer, though her silence was enough of an indication that something was wrong. "Chere?"

"Ah'm sorry...it just freaked me out a little. Can we talk about somethin' else?"

He heard the uneasiness in her voice, and wanted to comfort her, but dropped the subject. "How's Hawaii?"

"It's beautiful here, Remy. The water is crystal clear and the sea life is like nothin' you've ever seen." Logan rolled over and grumbled in his bed. She lowered her voice and continued. "The fish are so bright and colorful...you wouldn't believe your eyes. And the black sand is incredibly soft..."

"So you and Wolverine have all de fun while I'm stuck here in Louisiana with de rest of de gang...dat ain't fair. Nobody wants to do anythin' around here, so I'm stuck readin' musty old books an'..."

"Ah knew ah packed it! Damn, Gambit, what do think you're doin' goin' through a girl's things and takin' stuff? Ah'm in the middle of Hamlet for God's sake. How am ah supposed to better mahself if you steal mah books?"

"Jus' tryin' to keep up."

Rogue laughed. "Ah'm goin' too fast for you, big boy?"

"You're shuttin' me out. But you always forget that if you lock all de doors, I'll jus' sneak in de window."

Shutting him out was the only way she could think of to keep him safe. She should have known better than to lock him away in the dark, 'cause he'd only light up a card and break out. Still, she'd rather he kept his distance from the diaries...there was always a chance that he'd get sucked into the downward spiral of trying to change the future, and she couldn't bear to lose another person she loved to that hopeless endeavor. "Ah'm doin' it for your own good."

"So you t'ink."

Nothing like an argument early in the morning to start the day off right. "It's late, ah don't want to do this right now..."

"Guess I can't blame you, though. I'd probably do de same in your shoes."

"Thank you."

"But it'd be a mistake."

"Gambit..."

"Ok, ok," he interrupted. "I'm done for now. We'll talk more about it when you get back."

She sighed. "If we must."

"We must."

"Do you have to do this now?" Logan muttered, half to himself. He rolled over and put a pillow over his head. "Can't you two fight after breakfast."

"Sorry, sugah." Rogue wrapped the covers around her naked body and pulled the phone into the bathroom, closing the door.

"Am I...interruptin' somethin'?" Gambit asked mischievously. "I can call back later."

"Speakin' a' which, any particular reason you're callin' me in the middle of the night?"

"'Cause dat's when I miss you most." Though he couldn't see her, he knew a thousand miles away Rogue was rolling her eyes at him. "Besides, ain't de middle of de night where I'm standin'. Over here de sun's already up."

"An' why are you usin' the phone?"

"Dis ain't business, it's personal. Don' feel right usin' the company equipment for a personal call."

"Interesting words comin' from a thief."

"Dat's not nice."

Rogue yawned. "As nice as it is talkin' to you, ah need to get some sleep."

"When you comin' back?"

"Ah'm not sure. Ah don't know if we're finished here. Sometime in the next couple a' days, ah'd guess."

"What do you mean you don' know if you're finished?"

She paused. "It's hard to explain. Ah just have this feelin' that there's somethin' else ah gotta do."

Gambit wondered if she realized that was Destiny's memories talking, but he let it be. "I'll be here waitin' no matter how long it takes."

"Ah said a few days, not a few years."

"I'll see you soon, den."

"Good-bye, Remy."

"Rogue..."

"Yeah?"

"Somet'in' jus' occurred to me - ain't it kinda funny dat you're readin' Shakespeare?"

"Whadda ya mean?" she asked, not following him.

"Well, you started readin' dis stuff right before Destiny's memories surfaced. Isn't some of his stuff about fate? Like Romeo and Juliet...aren't dey star-crossed lovers?"

She grew pale in the bathroom. No matter how much control she seemed to have over her life, it was just an illusion. Maybe Irene was right. "Yeah," she said softly. "Yeah they are."

"G'night, petite. Sweet dreams."

"Goodnight," she replied, hanging up the phone.

She sat in the bathroom for a long time.

~

The next morning, things were looking brighter again. After getting some much-needed sleep and eating breakfast, Rogue was feeling better about her life. She was overreacting ...an understandable reaction all things considering. Destiny was not God, she could make mistakes. And so what if some of her predictions came true? You make a couple hundred predictions, a few are bound to be right.

But her attitude was short-lived. The smile fell from her face the moment she opened the door to their room and found an envelope on the floor with her name on it, in Destiny's handwriting. She picked it up and handed it to Logan behind her.

"Ah don't want to deal with this," she told him, walking into the other room.

He took that as a sign that it was up to him to read the note. When he unfolded the paper inside, he found that it wasn't Rogue the letter was addressed to, it was him. "Logan, I know Rogue won't read this...she's very upset with me right now. I suppose she has a right to be, but I can't change who I am, or what I've done, so she's going to have to learn to live with it.

"You're wondering why I bothered to write at all, if I knew she wouldn't touch this note. I did it because I need to tell you to let her do it..."

Wolverine looked up and smelled the air. Smoke.

He ran in the direction it was coming from, and found Rogue on the balcony with the box. The book was being devoured by hungry flames that danced in his teammate's eyes. He left her to watch her act of pyromania alone and returned to where he had dropped the note. He picked up where he had left off. "...She needs to rid herself of the hopelessness that is growing inside her, and ridding the world of one of my volumes will help her find peace. But be warned, there are still other volumes out there...perhaps even another copy of this one. I wish you luck in finding the rest, though I already know the end result of your efforts."

This whole situation was a little too bizarre for him, and he had been in some pretty damn strange situations before. But now he felt like his every move was being watched and documented. He continued reading. "...Perhaps you, and she, will find comfort in the idea that I may not be as all-knowing as I seem. For all you know, there are hundreds of letters addressed to Rogue being delivered to hundreds of different locations at this very moment. And if that's the case, then there are a plethora of possible futures...which means that the decisions you make today will shape tomorrow. It may not be the amount of control Rogue wants, but it's better than nothing.

"Now give her the note without a fuss, and let her burn it as well."

He had no sooner finished the sentence than Rogue snatched the paper from him. He followed her outside where she added it to the fire, and stayed with her until there was nothing left but a pile of ashes.

"The future is ours," she said decidedly, picking up the box and pouring its contents into the wind. "Ah won't stand here an' be told differently."

Logan was about to speak, but was cut off by a female voice coming from inside the room. "Rogue, are you there?"

Rogue walked over to the table where she had left her sunglasses and put them on. Immediately she was faced with an image of Sage. "Ah'm here, Sage."

"Storm would like an update on the status of your mission."

Sage watched the holographic image of Rogue in front of her cross her arms. "Don't y'all trust me to get the job done?" She didn't wait for her to answer. "You can tell Storm that mah mission is over. Ah came, ah saw, ah burned that book until it was nothin' more than dust in the wind."

Anyone else would've scolded Rogue, but Sage was ruled by logic, not emotions. There was no point in getting angry over something that couldn't be changed. "When can we expect you back?"

"We'll probably get there sometime tonight."

"Good. We just got word that they need us up north, and we could definitely use you."

"Ah'll start packin'."

"Have a safe flight. Sage out."

"Logan, we're movin' out," she called to him on the balcony.

"I'll be right there." He was still looking in the direction the ashes had blown, thinking that they were all nothing more than specks of dust blown around by the winds of time. Maybe Destiny was right, maybe they didn't have much say in where they were headed after all. But, like Rogue, he refused to let these thoughts ruin his life. Rather than worrying about the possible future, he went back inside to face the present.