- No way! Erik repeated. I am not doing it. Forget it, Charles.
- But Erik, Charles tried, it is a wonderful idea. It gives you a
chance to get to know my students and them to know you, and then
maybe they can accept our relationship.
- Please Erik. I beg you. Besides, these kids need a teacher,
Charles added carefully.
A while after Logan had rushed out, Xavier had started to think of
what he actually had said, and he came up with the splendid idea (at
least to him) to let Erik act as Scott's substitute during the
class, which would start now, nine o'clock. It was in ten
He didn't know where he got the idea from, but he thought it
excellent. Erik was a skilled physicist, so he had the knowledge that
was required, and besides it was an excellent opportunity for him to
get acquainted with the students of the Xavier- institute.
Erik was not as positive. He thought it was a dreadful idea.
- Charles, no, he said. There is no chance that I will do that. I
am sure these children hate me. What would they say if---
- Yes, I know they don't have very high thoughts about you,
admitted, but now is a chance to show them you aren't a monster
they think. Don't you think that would be good?
Erik sighed. No matter how he thought he couldn't see
anything "good" in the idea. He thought it sucked.
But Charles had his bright ideas sometimes, and when he did, almost
nothing could stop him. Some of them were good, others were less
good, and some were simply dreadful. This was a dreadful idea.
- Erik, please, Charles begged. If you are going to do it, you had
better hurry. The class begins in five minutes.
- Charles, haven't you been listening to what I said? I
- If you'll do it, I will go public with our relationship,
said suddenly. I promise. I will stop being a coward, he added,
grabbed Erik's hand and squeezed. I love you, and I think
should know that. Including my students.
Erik's eyes widened. He had not expected to hear that, and it
surprised him. A lot.
- Charles? Are you serious?
- I promise, Charles said seriously. But I want them to know that
you are not a terrible person first. Then I swear. No more closeting.
- Alright, Charles, said Erik after one second's doubt.
so. I will act as Cyclops' substitute. If you want.
- Do you mean that, Erik? asked Charles, with sparkling eyes.
Erik smiled and nodded, even though he didn't like the idea any
more now. But he did it for Charles. For Charles and their
Charles leaned forward and kissed him. Erik returned the kiss. But
this kiss was short compared to the previous one.
- Go no, Xavier said finally. The kids are already waiting.
- Where shall I go? Erik asked.
- Room 303. It is...-
- Charles, I know. I used to live here, remember that?
- Of course. Thank you, Erik.
- We'll see.
Rogue was in the classroom waiting, accompanied by 14 other students,
for Scott Summers, their teacher, to show up.
It was already five past nine and Scott never used to be late. He
was as timely as a stopwatch.
Kitty Pride was sitting next to Rogue, to her right. Rogue could
notice that Kitty too had become thoughtful. Rogue leaned forward and
whispered to her,
- What do ya think happened to Mr. Summers? He's never late,
now it's already five past. You think something has happened?
Kitty giggled. - I think so! she whispered back. I've heard
rumours that he and Dr. Grey were out partying last night! Probably
he's lying somewhere, completely out, or throwing up! We all know
Summers can't stand much alcohol.
That was true. Rogue could recall that Scott had been tipsy after
drinking only a couple of glasses of champagne last Christmas. He had
denied it, of course, but everyone had noticed it anyway.
Although Rogue had not heard anything about his "partying"
- Why were they out last night? she asked Kitty. Were they
Kitty shrugged. - I've no idea. But it must have been
since he doesn't show up. Something big.
Rogue snickered and shook her head, but Kitty could be right. She
noticed that even the other students started to become impatient and
restless. The clock ticked on, and there was no Scott. Maybe there
wouldn't be? Rogue thought hopefully. A free period was nothing
despise, especially not when it concerned maths.
I'll wait ten more minutes, then I'm out, Rogue decided. If
hasn't shown up till then, he won't show up at all.
But eight past ten the door to the classroom actually opened, and
the fifteen students expected to see Scott Summers - as always.
But Scott wasn't coming now. The one who came now, was Magneto.
Rogue recognized him at once, but it took the greater part of the
other students, who hadn't seen Magneto anywhere else than on
pictures, a little more time. But they all knew who he was. Sooner or
Magneto, who was a slim, elder, grey-haired man, currently wearing
grey cashmere trousers and a brown pullover, entered their classroom.
He looked like a perfectly normal, elder man. He walked, seemingly
untroubled, to the teacher's desk and opened the book he had
under his arm. It was a copy of their math book. When he had opened
the book, and tried to find the correct page, he looked over the
class that he was supposed to act teacher for.
There was complete silence. Some of the students were quiet and
stared at him. Others didn't even look at him, but looked down at
their feet or desks. But no one said anything.
Rogue was one of them who stared at their feet. She was shocked, of
course, but maybe not as shocked as the rest, considering she was the
only one who had actually known Magneto was here before he came in.
But she had not prepared to encounter him, and definitely not like
this! Her heart was pounding and her throat was as dry as a piece of
Suddenly Magneto cleared his throat and began to speak.
- You must wonder what I'm doing here, he said, and sounded
There was no answer. More and more students started staring at
- Yes, Magneto began, Charles, professor Xavier, invited me here
yesterday. Your regular teacher, Cyclops, eh, Mr. Summers, is ill and
unable to attend, so the professor asked me to act as his substitute
today. I hope we can all agree. By the way, does everyone know who I
There was no answer now either. The whole classroom was as silent
as a graveyard, except for Magneto's own voice.
- Alright, he said, I assume you know. But in case you don't,
name is Erik Lehnsherr; Magneto, if you wish, and you can call me
Still no one said anything. Erik started to feel awkward. He
recognize any of the students, except for that Rogue-girl, who sat in
the middle, next to a girl with short, dark hair. Rogue's face
crimson red and she was staring down at her desk.
Magneto looked at a list of everyone's names and seating. He
assumed he was supposed to check who was present.
- Okay, he began and sighed. Now let's see who is present. Put
your hand when you hear me say your name, alright? First we have...
John Allerdyce? Are you here?
Erik looked questioningly at the class. He didn't receive any
reply. No boy who put up his hand and said he was John Allerdyce.
- Come on, Magneto said in a sharper voice. Is John Allerdyce
It took an eternity before he got a reply. A blond boy sitting in
the front, and who very much was John, also known as Pyro, put his
hand up and said very quietly,
- Good, Magneto said kindly. Then let's move on to the next...
When Magneto called Rogue's name, she sure put her hand up, but
voice had practically disappeared. All she could manage was a hoarse
- Yes, I can see you, Marie, Erik said from his place behind the
teacher's desk. Do we have a Katherine Pride here?
- Kitty, Kitty said reflexively. No one calls me Katherine. My
name's Kitty. Don't call me Katherine, please. I've never
- Of course, Kitty, Erik said with a smile.
The dark-haired girl next to Rogue smiled back. It made Magneto
happy. She was the only one so far who had given him a proper reply
and looked him in the eyes. Whoever "Kitty" was, she seemed
to be a
valiant and sincere girl. He liked that.
When he was finished with the roll call, the time was already
twenty past nine.
- Then let's get started so we can get something done, Magneto
and tried to sound smart and dashing. Take out your books, and open
page... How far have you gotten, by the way?
- It's different, said a small, slender Asian girl, who was
on Rogue's left side. Mr. Summers usually goes through one or two
arithmetic examples on the blackboard, before of everyone, and after
that, we can calculate by ourselves.
- Thank you... He looked at the list again to see what her name
was. Jubilation? Is that your name?
- Well, Jubilee, the girl replied.
- And what did you go through last time, Jubilee? Erik asked.
- Increasing and decreasing functions, said Jubilee. Our next stop
should be maximum and minimum values. Page 145, Mr. Lehnsherr.
- Alright. Do you want me to go through one on the blackboard?
No answer. Magneto assumed he should. He looked down in the book on
page 145. Quickly he glanced through the problems and chose one of
them at random. He wrote what he read in the book on the blackboard.
- "A farmer has an adjustable electric fence that is 440 m
uses his fence to enclose a rectangular grazing area on three sides,
the fourth side being a fixed hedge. Find the maximum area he can
enclose." Erik read.
He also drew a figure that belonged to the arithmetic problem on
the board. When he was finished everyone sat staring. Rogue among
The problem told her nothing. Had Magneto chosen the most difficult
example in the book, or was there something else that caused the lack
of understanding among the students?
- Anyone...? Magneto asked carefully after a moment of complete
silence. What do we need to know to solve this problem?
He had already solved the problem in his head and didn't think
was any difficult at all, but he wondered if that was the reason why
no one spoke. Or were they simply too scared of him to speak?
- Come on, class, he encouraged. I am sure you know this. Now let
me hear. What shall we do?
Magneto's gaze landed on a boy who sat in front of Rogue in the
- Robert Drake? Do you know what we should do?
- I dunno, Bobby "Iceman" Drake muttered, without looking
Magneto's eyes. Rogue wondered if that was true, since Bobby was
usually one of the best math students at the school.
- No one? Erik asked one last time. Alright, then I will explain it
to you. First and foremost, we have to have an equation with only
*one* unknown. We will call the two short sides "x". Like
since we know that the whole fence is 440 metres, we can calculate
the maximum area, "A" like this...
Erik wrote the equation A=x(440-2x) = 440x-2x2 on the blackboard.
- So, anyone who knows how to proceed? he then asked.
Rogue watched what he had written, and she knew how to move on to
solve the problem, and she was convinced that others also knew, but
did she have the courage to put up her hand and answer Magneto in
front of the whole class? Did she dare? Yes, she had to. She had to
be able to meet his eyes sometime.
Since in case he was professor Xavier's lover, it was likely
he would spend quite much time at the institute from now on.
- I know, she said quietly and put her hand up.
- Yes, Marie? Magneto said.
- We have to derive the equation that we've gotten. Then it
A'= 440-4x. Then we can get an extreme point, a maximum point, in
this case, by putting the derivative to 0. It is 0 if x =110.
- That is correct, Marie. Good. But the side "x" was not
were looking for, but the area. Do you know how to continue?
- Yes. Put x =110 in the original equation 440x-2x2, and you'll
have the area, Rogue replied without doubt and this time she looked
straight into the eyes of the man behind the desk while she spoke.
- The area is 24 200 square metres, she finished confidently.
- Correct, Erik said. That was very good, Marie.
- Thank you, Magneto.
Magneto turned around and erased what he had written on the
- Alright, class, he then said. I think we have reached the goal of
the day, I hope. At least Marie has. Now you can start calculating on
your own, if you want.
He sat down on the chair behind the desk and put his elbows on the
table and rested his chin in his hands. He glanced at the clock
hanging on the wall above the door. Thirty-five minutes left.
He sighed. Well, well, he thought. It has not been very fun, but it
*could* have been worse. Much worse.
And much worse it became, although Erik didn't know that yet.
Rogue and Kitty were conversing in quiet, low voices. They looked
down in their math books and stared blankly. Rogue had tried to help
her friend with a problem, but her explanation had only muddled it
for Kitty, since Rogue had found out she didn't understand very
- Ask Magneto, Rogue whispered at last. I'm sure he can help
better than I can.
Kitty grimaced. - I don't dare, she confessed.
- If *I* dare, then you do too, Rogue claimed. Come on. It's
than to sit there the rest of the hour, not getting anything. I think
he'll be happy to help.
- How do I ask? Kitty hissed.
- Call his name and tell him you want help. How else?
Kitty cleared her throat and then called, in a faint, ragged
- Eh... Magneto... Could you help me with something...?
Magneto lifted his head when he heard her voice and started moving
toward her through the aisle.
Rogue watched it all happen. She saw Magneto advancing, almost in
slow motion, it seemed, and then Bobby, sitting in front of her,
slyly sticking out his foot in the aisle, exactly when Magneto was
Rogue opened her mouth to scream - she wasn't sure why - if it
to warn Magneto or to tell Bobby not to do it - but she didn't
time, and the scream got stuck in her throat.
In a flash Erik saw the white sneaker being stuck out in the aisle,
and before he had a chance to stop, he stumbled and fell over it
(clumsy, clumsy, oops!) and landed roughly on his knees and elbows.
A nasty thud sounded, and white-hot pain spread like electricity
through his body. His knees had taken the worst blow. It felt (and
sounded) like he had cracked his kneecaps. He crawled forward in the
aisle, crawled like a wounded animal, and waited for the pain in his
knees to fade out. His whole body trembled.
At first everyone was awkwardly quiet. Even Rogue, who had seen
everything and tried to stop it. Then, before Magneto had managed to
get up, the first laughter sounded.
The sound was like the howl of a hyena, and soon more and more
people fell into the laughter. Soon everybody laughed and screamed
except Rogue. She looked around with dismay and knew she had gotten
all red and warm.
Magneto fought to get up from the floor, crawled forward, and tried
again, with the horrible, awful sound of a whole pack of laughing
kids around him.
And the joke was on him. It was a mocking laughter. Contemptuous.
Some were laughing so violently they had to lean over their desks not
to fall down from their chairs.
Rogue looked around in terror. Everyone but her laughed.
*Everyone*. What are they laughing at? she thought. What's so
Help him instead!
But no one helped him, of course. Someone even threw something at
the crawling shape; probably an eraser, and it fell with a plop onto
the floor and bounced off.
Erik finally managed to get up and stood on his feet, swaying, and
limped to the teacher's desk again. The laughter had not ceased.
were still catcalling, and some were pointing at him, and another
object - a pencil, this time - struck him in the chest, and then fell
to the floor and rolled away.
- Stop! Erik suddenly yelled. Shut up! Stop it, STOP!
The laughter didn't stop. Even though Magneto screamed, his
could barely be heard over the borderline hysterical laughter. His
face had become as red as Rogue felt hers was.
The laughter in the classroom didn't cease, until the
which stood on the desk behind Magneto flew up as though it had
suddenly got a life of its own. It flew right across the classroom,
to finally crash into the outer wall behind the students with a bang.
The laughter stopped as quickly as it had begun.
- Who did it? Erik asked icily. Answer me! Who *did* it?
No one answered him. It was possible that no one except Rogue had
seen that Bobby was responsible, but it was however not likely. But
although she knew, she didn't say anything. She just
Magneto repeated his question. They heard that his voice trembled
this time. The classroom was as silent as a grave for a long time.
The clock stubbornly ticked on.
A quarter past nine, when the lesson finally ended, the first
students began to rise from their desks.
- Sit down! Magneto roared. No one is leaving, before I have found
out who did this. I want to know. Now.
In spite that the lesson had ended Magneto didn't allow them to
leave. No one said anything, but no one dared to defy the furious old
man standing by the desk. Not after what happened with the
There was a stalemate. Rogue knew she had the power to break the
stalemate. She could tell Magneto that she had seen Bobby stick out
his foot, but would she do that?
Bobby was her friend (at least she thought he was) and would she
betray him? But what he had done was a very evil thing. How could he
do something like that?
When the time was half past ten Rogue broke the stalemate. She told
Magneto what she had seen. - It was Bobby, she said quietly and
looked down at her hands. Bobby did it. I saw him.
Gasps sounded from several places in the room. Rogue thought she
could hear their thoughts. "How could she? What a traitor!"
She saw Bobby's shoulders get taut, where he sat in front of
She had made her choice. She couldn't decide whether it was right
- Okay, you can go now, Magneto said with a sigh. Everyone can go
except Robert Drake. I want to have a word with him.
Fourteen relieved students bounced up and headed for the door.
Rogue tried to pass Bobby's seat quickly and avoid eye contact,
before she had passed, he grabbed her arm and stopped her from moving
- You bitch! he hissed in her ear. You'll eat that up, trust me!
Rogue broke free and rushed blindly at the door. She was among the
first to get out, despite that Bobby had stopped her.
The door slid shut behind her, and only Bobby Drake and Magneto
were left in the classroom.
Rogue ran away as soon as she had gotten out. She forgot all her