Private submission on behalf of Eve. <g> All feedback to her email or I'll
forward it directly to her. Doesn't she just ROCK beyond words? Damn.
Talk about complexities....
Title: Sleight of Hand
Author: Eve [eve11_xf@...
Series: RR #17
Summary: Three days away from Jean's influence, Rogue running off with
and what is Scott doing? Up to and after "Standing Still." I've
taken some about Scott's mutation from Min's 'Climb the Wind', about
his motion sense.
Archived: The Round Robin index at
www.wolverineandrogue.com/seperis/rrindex and Muse's Fool.
Scott Summers was not susceptible to parlor tricks. People attributed
it to his mutation, and maybe that was true. You didn't play pool
with the human smart missile, and you didn't palm a quarter into your
pocket and try to pass it off as a disappearing act, not with the guy
who tracked motion like others tracked fluorescent orange in a sea of
green. So maybe it was his eyes, but damn it, everything was his
eyes. He liked to think it was something more than that. He always
knew where to look. He knew what was important and what was show,
even with something as silly as a card game.
Marie had been so angry about that.
*Petty, Scott. You're only letting yourself remember the petty,
stupid things.* Still, the weight of the memory slowed his
footsteps, and ultimately left him leaning against the mahogany
paneling in a lonely corner of the corridor.
Three weeks ago. A lifetime ago. Bobby met them in the rec room
with a twinkle in his eye.
"Check it out. I bet I can read your mind."
He didn't bite, but Rogue did. A deck of cards and a "magic"
handkerchief. Bobby shuffled the deck, showed Rogue how to cut the
cards under the handkerchief and take one. Under the cloth, she
picked out the queen of hearts. Of course.
"Go on ahead," she said, twirling the card between her gloved
fingers -- careful not to show him the face. "Guess."
"Jack of Spades."
She smiled. "Wrong." She really did have a beautiful smile.
Bobby looked stricken. "No?" He brought a hand to his forehead in
consternation. "Six of Clubs?"
Bobby rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Ten of Diamonds?"
"Nope. That's some trick you got there."
"Wait! No, wait, it's on the tip of my tongue . . . "
At which time Bobby stuck out his tongue. On the very tip, there
was a small folded piece of paper. He took it and unfolded it to
reveal "Queen of Hearts" written in his careful print.
Marie laughed, her cheeks reddening. "Oh, you had me there! Now
how'd y'all do that?"
Bobby just smiled, tipped an imaginary hat, and took the card from
her hand, returning it to the deck with a flourish. "I'm gonna go
When he was gone, Scott opened the coffee table drawer and took out
a deck. He shuffled the queen of hearts to the bottom, flipped it
over with a "demonstration" cut, and showed Marie precisely how she
drew it with her own supposedly random cut, by flipping the bottom
portion of the deck over.
"The paper was under his watch strap. He moved it into place when
he rubbed his forehead, stuck it on his tongue as he brought his
Marie rolled her eyes. "I didn't really want to know," she said.
"You teach him that?"
"No, never seen it before. I just watched."
And of all things, it had turned into a fight. In the hallway,
Scott let out a breath and rubbed his temples. She had actually
sulked about it, and then used it that night to start the same old
"You know, you didn't have to go and ruin it."
"How did I ruin it, for Chrissake, it's just a stupid trick!"
She shifted on her side of the bed, ran still-gloved fingers through
her own hair -- any harder and she would have pulled it out.
"Exactly! Do you have to analyze everything? I mean, you take
everything apart, Scott. It ain't good to do that all the time."
"It's what I do, Marie! I can't help it."
She understood this. She knew him well enough to marry him -- she
had to understand this. But that didn't mean she accepted it. She
closed her eyes, and he anticipated her next statement almost word
"Would it hurt a might to let things go for once, let yourself be
It wasn't about cards anymore. He tightened his jaw, felt a
headache coming on. "I don't like surprises. Please, can we just
go to sleep?"
They made up the next morning. Of course. A night of sleeping
with their backs to each other was enough to cool the old argument.
That morning, he inwardly resolved to try and be more laid back.
More willing to 'go with the flow.' And Marie cooked breakfast,
serving hominy grits with a side of "I'm sorry about last night."
Now, in the hallway, he felt ready to tear his hair out. Surprises
be damned. One redhead and a handshake was all the surprise he
needed, and now his whole life was coming apart at the seams.
Jean. He couldn't explain it, he had no idea what hit him with that
handshake. He was still trying to figure it out. He knew what she
did to him -- he felt the flush in his cheeks and a rush of blood
even now -- but he couldn't find a mechanism. There was no why,
No tricks. It couldn't be real. At least, he thought he had
convinced himself of that two days ago. It was easier to listen
to that argument, now that Jean had gone.
He felt a physical crunch in his chest at that thought.
"Christ," he murmured, and started walking again. Jean had
disappeared, and now Rogue . . .
He stopped and kicked the wall. The sound was louder than he
expected, and he quickly checked behind him and down the hall for
students, but the coast was clear.
Damn her. He didn't want to be angry with Marie, even when she was
making things worse by running around with that walking pheromone
Logan. But for god's sake, when he was trying to separate things
out and make sense of them, Marie the hot-headed 'adventurer' was
twisting them up all again -- calling off the engagement, spending
nights in questionable company, and . . .
And hurting him the same way he hurt her. But she couldn't mean it.
The door was locked when he reached it. He was twenty minutes early
for an eight AM class on a Monday; even the hallway lights were dim.
"Math in the morning", Marie had said on more than one occasion, "It
just ain't right, like kicking someone when they're down." But she
always said it with a smile and an arm around his waist.
Damn it, he had a class to teach.
The room was heavy with old air and silence. His keys clinked loudly
in his hand, and he set them and his three-ring binder on the table,
opened the tab to Lesson 39: Plane Areas by Integration.
He picked up the felt eraser.
The white board was a mess. He recognized his own hand -- the
meticulous plot of y equals x, intersecting with y equals x squared
on the unit square. Jubilee had shaded the area between and scribbled
the definite integral to the right of the graph. She had the signs
switched and ended up with a negative answer. But for some reason,
he didn't catch it at the time.
Strange. A still minute passed, and Scott found himself staring
behind his shoulder at the half-open classroom door, for some reason
expecting to see Jean there in the hallway. But it was empty. Jean
was gone. A hello, a handshake, a hell of a something, and then she
He realized he was still holding the eraser up to the board, frozen
like a man standing at the edge of a cliff. He recognized the
feeling from careful nights with Marie -- the edge of ecstasy and
danger that could destroy them both if unleashed. Marie had felt it
too. She knew him so well; she had once asked him pointedly if he
would still hesitate then, if they didn't have their gifts -- goggles
and bodysuits -- to get in the way.
He couldn't answer her. He couldn't tell her the truth. But he
could tell Jean.
She hadn't disappeared. Like a coin in the palm, there was only one
place that Jean could be. With smooth strokes, Scott erased the board,
scrawled a quick "class canceled" at the top, and left the