And we're back. Still dark, still NC-17 for the content (sexual content,
drug use and language. sorry, I hate ratings too.) and still going. :)
A week post my last hit, I was really having problems. Seven days to the
mark, trapped in that hotel room for fear of going out into the world with a
head full of disembodied people and a craving for heroin so strong I'd sell
a vital organ to get it, I knew I was sinking.
It was the moment when I realised, on my bed in the dark, still wearing the
clothes from a week ago, that I would have been better off dead than sitting
in the middle of my new Hell, that cinched Carol's next move.
Apparently, the bitch credited rehab for saving her life, and now, being
trapped in my mind, considered it the one and only option for me. She had
already knocked me cold turkey off China White, but the cravings agitated
her. I wanted, needed, desired more than life itself to have a needle
sinking into my vein and bringing me my spoon-cooked chemical bliss.
She really hated that. It was a weakness, she screamed at me, a crutch I
leaned on, the teddy bear whose arm I sucked on in the middle of the night;
and I was a selfish cunt for trying to get it back, to release myself from
my obligations to the clean and sober world.
So, I went to rehab.
It wasn't just any rehab, where anyone could join, it was the place Carol
had gone for her own addictions. Through me she found a way back in,
feeding the perfect lines to the person on the other side of the phone to
get a room and bed ready for me.
It was the second place that I had ever been-- the first being Xavier's
school-- where being a mutant was a requirement to get past the gates. No
humans, or Norms, as I heard someone say there, were allowed. They had
their own places of recovery, and as long as they couldn't keep their
prejudiced eyes off what made us mutants, they had no place with us as we
tried to re-discover life.
Well, at least I could wear my gloves and actually explain why I was so
phobic of contact. For once, the truth was on my side.
Three months. Three months I had to be there, dedicating myself to "making
myself whole again," talking about my life, what brought me to heroin, what
got me off it, and what I needed to do after I finally kicked it.
When the craving for it died, my last bastion of being Marie died along with
Carol's rationale was that it was a simple, purifying process. It hurt like
shit, but it had to be done, even if it meant caterwauling with a group of
fellow addicts who left their spouses and children to better indulge
destructive behaviours. Every time I sat in on a group session, I always
felt strange because they talked about the people that mattered to them,
about the ones close to them, and all I could think of was the people, the
friends, I ran away from, and the voices in my head that knew me better than
I knew myself.
It wasn't until the session when we each explained our mutant powers-- it
was an exercise in openness, the therapist said-- that my fellow patients
stopped looking at me strangely. Being an absorber, I explained, was the
fastest way to go from a normal life to the ultimate in reclusive and
schizophrenic. I told them about Cody, about Logan-- omitted Erik for the
sake of his association with domestic terrorism-- about Melissa and the
nightmares I inherited, and finally about Carol, and how it was her fault
that I was amongst them.
I also omitted New York and the X-Men. Surrounded by mutants, many of whom
would fail Xavier's rather severe testing regime because they weren't
anywhere near as powerful as any of the current team members, I knew the
family I was forsaking was an urban legend to my listening audience. Like
the Avengers-- I got the impression Carol omitted them in her life story the
first time she had been here-- they were celebrities to these people, the
only ones strong enough to stand out in a sea of human faces.
The guilt for being one of those so-called celebrities stabbed at me. I had
fallen off the pedestal they would have elevated me to if they knew who I
truly was, and that would have shattered their image of true heroes like
Scott. It would have brought home in painful clarity-- the same clarity I
killed so happily with my habit-- how fragile and easily destroyed the world
could be, and how closely we all drifted to the brink of all out war between
mutants and humans.
Just for having one extra gene.
So I let them have their delusions. When a man with thin, white hair and
luminescent eyes started talking about his life and the day after "the lone
mutant terrorist calling himself Magneto" (the newspaper's exact words) had
damaged the Statue of Liberty, he went on to say that he had been beaten so
badly that he was in a hospital for a week. It was a hate crime, he said,
and he actually resented "the troublemaker Lehnsherr" for it.
In the back of my mind where he sat and observed quietly, Erik shook his
head in amazement.
We weren't always the saviours or protectors of our kind. In fact, as I
lowered my head and suppressed the urge to retell a story Xavier had once
told us, we were often the ones that caused all those laws to be drawn up
And then I suppressed the second urge to call home. I wasn't ready to go
back yet-- if ever-- so it made no sense to open that wound.
Week seven-- I was keeping count on the dogtags, shortening the chain every
Saturday as it hung from my nightstand lamp-- I was sent out into the woods
blindfolded with two other people and told to find my way back.
That's when I realised I had more than Carol's mind. I had her powers, too.
The guy with me had been given a compass and a landscape only map-- but
didn't know how to read either. The girl, younger than me, was assigned to
carry our core supplies on a weak back.
I was assigned to protect our traveling camp and make the fire every night.
The leader, one might argue.
I guess they accurately pegged me for a recluse. Had I stayed at home, I
was heading for a very fast posting on the Gold team-- the team who tended
to stay back to guard the base-- and I had no problem with it.
The purpose of this exercise, I realised as I tried to gather pathetic
sticks of wood for light and heat, was to take us out of our comfortable
The voices in my head, even Melissa, found that amusing. Carol wanted me to
prove my ability to be a leader; she even managed to stir up that little bit
of Logan inside me and woke up instincts that were not naturally mine.
I spent my first hours of dark with my unwilling campmates trying to ignore
the nauseatingly strong smell the fire was giving off. The grove we were
dropped off in was anything but oak, that much was obvious.
By the time I went to bed, suppressing fresh urges to tear after the deer
padding through the forest behind us, I was tired and feeling...
invulnerable. Like, Piotr Rasputin, man-made-of-steel-skin invulnerable.
God damn you, Carol.
Flying was an accident, an accident that I found myself liking. After two
hours of filtering through the memories I had lifted from one ex-alcoholic
Avenger and ignoring the better part of Melissa's ramblings-- the damn girl
was spooked by the quiet of the grove-- I had managed to forget my outward
image. My two tone hair and penchant for gloves everyone accepted, but
sitting on the trunk of a fallen tree and unintentionally lifting into the
air was alarming.
Especially to me.
I didn't push my luck, though. I did my best to settle back down to the
ground like a good non-avian and growled about the fresh set of powers I now
apparently had. Trapped out in a big, untamed playground, I had no Danger
Room to hone them safely, nor could I simply lock myself in a padded room
and experiment without accidentally hurting anyone else.
Rehab wanted to make me a leader. I just wanted my world without Melissa
And now I could FLY.
I decided, making sure my campmates were completely asleep, to test this new
ability. Going a little ways from the circle of tents, taking to a clearing
cast in sickly blue hues from the waning moon, I closed my eyes and willed
myself to float like I had seen Jean do.
But what lifted me wasn't telekinesis. Whatever it was, once my feet
dangled helplessly above the ground, I let go some of the reservations I had
about the entire thing. I moved around in the air. I let my arms drop to
my side-- yeah, flapping skinny little arms would get me real far-- and did
a silly dance ten feet above the tree line. I even managed to do a little
ballerina spin before I got dizzy.
Oddly enough, falling to the ground hurt a lot less than it should have.
In her time, Carol Danvers had a pretty sweet deal in the mutant powers
Dusting off my clothes, standing up on a leg that I should have broken, I
stood in the middle of that clearing, closed my eyes and laughed. In the
middle of a headache that meant the vegan diet of the retreat and lack of
heroin in my blood were forcing me back to reality for good, I realised I
was powerful, moreso than some of them back home, like I always wanted to
But it didn't make me feel better.
I walked back to the camp. If nothing else, I couldn't share my revelation.
Otherwise, they would have sewn a half dozen Girl Guide patches to my
t-shirt and shipped me back to Westchester to compare notes with actual,
former Boy Scout Scott Summers.
I was not a leader. I didn't want to be.
Carol found that funny. She also made fun of me for getting my little lost
trio back to the retreat's main building a day before everyone else.
Rogue was never meant to be a leader. X-Man, yes, Gold Team, yes. But not
The world turned upside down when we got back. We were gone two days, two
damn days, and it turned upside down.
And I was trapped in a Canadian rehab clinic with no way to get back. This
was Fate interceding... but on whose behalf I'll never know.
Sitting back, watching the television in the main lounge of the building, we
all sat there like prisoners-- prisoners of the images on the screen.
Prisoners with two days worth of woods on our clothes, the scent of
campfires in our hair, and openly shocked expressions.
But there are only so many times you can see the decimation of two, one
hundred and ten story tall buildings before being nauseated.
Carol was consoling, ironically enough. She knew she was trapped behind a
border with me, and didn't make much of it. I had a passport and ID on me,
but paranoia is paranoia, and a girl who terminally wore gloves was not a
freaked out border guard's ideal situation.
Idly, I wondered whether or not, mutant related or otherwise, the terrorist
attack would pass the Genosha Law.
Politicians-- and newscasters with their pain-causing footage-- would always
sit on my shit list. The Genosha Law was just another yet unpassed law
that wanted to put people like me behind bars and interment camp walls. The
newscasters fed on that political fervor-- ratings, you know-- and let the
public demonise us.
It stood to make us the next dispensable people. Come and kill us, we
Taking to the clinic's huge deck that faced out towards the woods we had
just come back from, I stared out past the setting sun and tried to sort out
People were dead. People were angry. People were crying and throwing
flowers at empty graves.
All I could do was lean on the railing of a redwood deck in Ontario, and
wonder whether or not I'd have a tattoo like Erik's burned into my arm
before the year was out.
[cont'd in part 6]
"Life? Life's pretty much a knife fight in a dirt covered bar; and if they
get you down, you best get back up." "Last Call at the Broken Hammer,"