Disclaimers in Part 0
2. Rogue's Gallery
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, everyone tried to cheer Rogue up as she moped
around. Every week, Scott tried to convince her to go out. He enlisted her
friends to help. Since Kitty, Bobby, Johnny and Jubes had all gone to
college in "the real world," they had friends outside the mansion. Single,
male friends who were always interested in dating a beautiful woman, even if
there were certain caveats attached.
Finally, to stop them all from badgering her incessantly, and in the vain
hope that she'd meet someone who would help her forget Greg *and* Logan, she
agreed to go out with a friend of Jubilee's.
His name was Jay and he'd worked with Jubes at The Gap while they were in
college. Since he was living in the city, they'd kept in touch, and when
Jubilee called him, she found out he was single and looking.
He took Rogue to a nice French brasserie in Manhattan, and while he wasn't
the best-looking guy she'd ever seen, he was cute in a nebbishy way. She
thought, as she ordered chicken française and a Caesar salad, that she could
learn to like him.
Until he asked her, in the middle of the entrée, if she'd accepted Jesus
Christ as her personal savior, and did she want to attend services with him
on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Given that she'd pretty much stopped believing in gods of any sort the day
she put David in a coma, this was a problem. She didn't much care what other
people believed, but she certainly wasn't going to be preached at.
She skipped dessert and refused his offer of a ride back to Westchester.
On the train going home, she began a list of characteristics she did *not*
want in a date. "Jesus freak" was number one with a bullet.
The next week, it was St. John's turn to set her up, and that date started
well. His name was Sebastian and he was from Portugal. He had a soft accent
she found sexy, and soulful eyes that made her heart flutter slightly.
They discussed movies and music over dinner, and she'd just ordered dessert
when he said, "When John told me you were a mutant, I got really excited."
She raised an eyebrow as he continued, "I only date mutant women. I like the
danger, the taboo. And also, who wouldn't want to move up the evolutionary
ladder?" He reached out a hand to stroke one of the white locks that framed
her face; she shrank away from him. "Are you really untouchable?"
The waiter arrived with their coffee and dessert then, and she decided she
didn't really want the crème brulée after all -- could they wrap it to go?
Item number two on the list: No mutant fetishists.
The next week, it was Kurt's turn. Karl seemed nice. He was incredibly
handsome in a very blond, German sort of way. They'd met for coffee, since
she hadn't had much luck with dinner, and she opened her mouth to suggest
that maybe they could grab a cocktail at the bar next door, when she
sneezed. Three times. She'd always been a "three-sneezer," as Jubilee called
it; no one else had ever commented on it, until tonight.
Karl leaned in and said, "You know, women who have multiple sneezes also
have multiple orgasms."
"Check, please," Rogue called, and left him sitting there alone.
Number three on the list was, "No guys who use lame or sleazy pickup lines."
When she told that to Scott, he laughed. "You'll have to give up on men
"That's not sounding so bad right now," she answered darkly.
She resisted the next few set-up attempts, and a month passed without any
more dates. She'd never been quite so grateful for the Friends of Humanity,
until their stepping up of attacks on mutants meant that the X-Men were too
busy fighting to worry about her love life.
Unfortunately, the X-Men always won, so it wasn't long before they began
focusing on her dating woes again.
This time, she had a little more hope. She checked her lipstick in the
mirror as he drove them to a little "out-of-the-way" Mexican restaurant he'd
chosen. He was a colleague of Jean's; they'd met at a conference and kept up
an email correspondence on advances in genetics research.
Ben made it all the way through dinner -- including dessert -- but when the
movie they'd picked was sold out, he tried to convince her to go back to his
apartment to watch videos. Since he winked every time he said it, Rogue was
pretty sure he didn't actually want to watch videos. Or maybe, she thought
in horrified amusement, he did, but not the kind of videos she'd normally
consider first date material.
She figured she could handle anything he tried, so she went home with him.
And found she'd guessed correctly. Instead of "Roman Holiday" or "The Truth
About Cats and Dogs," he put on "The Erotic Adventures of Jessyca Juggs."
She easily disengaged herself from his wandering hands and called Scott to
come and get her.
Item number four: "No guys who break out the porno on the first date."
When she got into the car, Scott said, "If you'd just go out with Alex, none
of this would happen. I can't believe you went home with the guy on the
"Could I please buckle my seatbelt before you start the lecture?" she asked
sourly. He grinned and she said, "Tell Jean to stay away from this guy at
her next conference. I think he's a big-time perv."
It took one last setup -- this time a double date with Bobby and Kitty,
during which Rogue's date spent the whole night fawning over Kitty -- to get
Rogue to put her foot down.
She said no to every setup, every "friend of a friend," every "he's the
perfect guy for you."
"I don't need a boyfriend," she told them all in exasperation. "I'm very
happy with my Aqua All-Star!"
That shut everyone up for a moment. They stared at her and she blushed.
Then, she drew herself up to her full height; she had nothing to be ashamed
of. It was the twenty-first century and a woman has needs, after all.
"We're just trying to help," Jubilee said weakly.
"Well, stop! With this kind of 'help', I may just join the Brotherhood! I
don't need your help. I don't *want* your help. I just want to be left
alone!" And she stormed out of the rec room in tears.
Scott and Jean exchanged worried glances, and he rose to follow her. Jean's
hand on his arm forestalled him. ~I'll go,~ she said silently, and he
nodded, the concerned look not leaving his face.
"We've been pushing you pretty hard," she began when Rogue opened the door.
"Is it so totally freakish that I might want to be alone for a while?" Rogue
"No. It's not. I don't know when it became unacceptable for a woman to be
single around here." Jean sat down on the edge of the bed and Rogue joined
her. She took Rogue's hand in her own and said, "Before Scott and I got
together, I was convinced I was destined to be alone. And that was all right
with me. I learned the hard way that no relationship at all is better than a
"But Warren, Hank--"
Jean laughed. "You've been listening to history according to Cyclops again,
huh? Yes, Warren and I dated for a while, and Hank supposedly had a crush on
me, but that all changed the moment 'Ro walked in the door.
"I was suddenly boring, old Jean who they'd known forever, while she was
exotic -- beautiful and unknown." Rogue raised an eyebrow in disbelief.
"Yes, Rogue, it's true. I did not have much success in the romance
department until Scott finally got his head out of his ass and asked me out.
So I understand what you're going through. It's just--" she paused to choose
her words, "you don't seem happy alone. If you did, even Scott would back
off. But until you can convince him that you're better off by yourself, he's
going to try to 'help' you, even if sometimes his 'help' only makes thing
Rogue snorted. "I know. I've tried to be cheerful, but it's like, 'Oh, Greg
left, you should be dating again.' Can't I just have some time to get over
it? And the whole Logan thing--" she broke off.
Jean smiled knowingly. "Yeah, the Logan thing. You think you might want to
do something about that?"
Rogue shook her head. "There's nothing *to* do about it, except deal with it
and move on."
"But you haven't dealt with it at all, if it's still there," Jean said
"I'm *trying*, okay? It's just -- do I have an invisible sign on my forehead
that reads, 'Losers, step right up. Regular guys, don't bother'?" She
laughed bitterly. "I mean, I know Logan doesn't want me. And I got over that
a long time ago. Then he goes and *does* something--" again, she stopped,
afraid of saying too much. Jean wore her open, 'you can tell me anything'
expression that made her the favorite confidante of all young mutants in
love at the mansion, wishing she could justify telling Rogue her theory on
Logan's behavior, but knowing that it would only cause trouble.
Rogue pulled her hand away from Jean's and stood. "He kissed me before he
left. Not on the top of my head, like usual. He kissed me here," and she
laid two gloved fingers over her lips. "Not hard and not long. Not like be--
not like Greg used to," she recovered quickly, piquing Jean's curiosity as
to just when exactly Logan had been kissing Rogue long and hard. She cast
her mind back and tried to recall when things had changed between them; the
advent of Greg seemed to be the turning point, which would make a lot of
sense. She wondered if Logan had pushed her too far, or not far enough,
because something had obviously seriously undermined Rogue's confidence in
her attractiveness to the opposite sex, even before this recent heartbreak.
"Oh, hon, it'll all work out in the end. You'll see," Jean said, trying to
offer comfort, when she really *wasn't* sure that it would. Logan was a
hardheaded man, and not because of the adamantium plates in his skull. She
wanted to shake him sometimes for his obliviousness to what was so obvious
"If you say so," Rogue muttered, unconvinced. "As long as I don't have to
have coffee with another friend of Bobby's..."
"I'll keep a tight rein on them," Jean promised.
Jean grinned wickedly. "Especially Scott."
"Okay, Red, that was a little more than I needed to know."
Jean's smile softened and she ran a hand over the white streak in Rogue's
hair. "Now, what's this you were saying about the Aqua All-Star?"
"You have Scott!" Rogue answered, blushing, and the mood was lightened.
Unfortunately, Scott was more determined to get Rogue together with Alex
than even Jean had guessed. While he no longer pressed Rogue on the issue
more than once or twice every few days, he harangued Jean with it every time
he saw Rogue looking mildly unhappy.
And since Rogue seemed to specialize in looking melancholy, even when she
pretended to be happy, Jean was almost at the end of her rope. She might
have 'accidentally' let that slip when she spoke with Logan a couple of
He was home in three days.
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