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FIC: Jus Ad Bellum Part I: 1/6: MA: Rogue, all

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  • Jenn
    Jus Ad Bellum Part I: Glimmer-Glass 1/6 ***** For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 28, 2001
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      Jus Ad Bellum
      Part I: Glimmer-Glass

      1/6

      *****
      "For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know
      in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
      --Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:12

      *****

      "That'll be thirty-one fifty-two," the cashier said, shifting away from me
      when I started hunting through my jeans pockets for the money. He tended
      to try and mask his unease in a thousand little ways--finding a stray penny
      beside the register, fixing the rows of cigarettes behind him, choosing
      that moment to restock the candy jar on the far side of the worn yellow
      counter from me. Straightening his white button-up shirt, he gave me a
      quick glare before turning to the register in unconcealed impatience.

      Convenience stores in Salem sucked, and if it hadn't been an emergency, I
      would have damned well waited until Jubilee got home and let her go out for
      this stuff. She didn't give a good damn how people acted around her; me,
      I got sensitive about crap like the cashier was pulling. He might as well
      have blazed a sign screaming 'Mutants Not Welcome Here; GO AWAY'.

      Great guy. I idly wondered how far I could drop kick him.

      In general, the cashiers in Salem were uncomfortable around mutants. You'd
      think by now they'd be used to us, but no dice. We needed tampons and
      applesauce and clean underwear just like any normal human, and we didn't
      wander around trying to kill or mutilate the local human population for
      sport--but they just *didn't* get it. The connection between the fact that
      the school was located here and that Salem had the lowest crime rate in the
      country was never quite made by the residents.

      Idiots.

      Not everyone in Salem was like that, I was sure of it. Just all the ones
      I'd met, one of the many reasons I hated shopping alone. The sideways looks
      of dislike and fear, the way people jerked out of my way as if I carried
      the latest and greatest version of the plague--none of these things a good
      shopping experience made. Jubilee could take that sort of thing and brush
      it off--I simply couldn't.

      Shifting on the stained concrete floor, I tried to check my back pocket.
      No money there either, and my nylon gloves didn't make it any easier to
      feel if it was there.

      "It's gotta be here," I muttered to myself, and the cashier's mouth twisted
      in contempt. He didn't even try to hide it. I ignored him--after all,
      this was normal. Here, money, money, money; where's the money. Took it
      from 'Ro, grabbed my keys off my desk--I could swear I put it in my front
      jeans pocket. A sigh came from his general direction and I gritted my
      teeth. "Just a sec."

      The gloves made him nervous--he knew what I was, after all, even if he
      didn't know my particular situation. Gloves in eighty-degree summer heat
      were something that *had* to get some notice. And since mutants reacted to
      me in similar ways (though granted, they tended to hide it better), I
      certainly wasn't gonna say that he was outta line or anything--especially
      since Carol. Just--annoying. Like I'm suddenly really hot to play the
      part of a schizophrenic and spend some quality time in that little
      isolation chamber downstairs at the Mansion for a few weeks. Oh yeah, my
      idea of a good time was definitely to have no control over my body and have
      a thousand foreign thoughts drowning out my voice. Always fun. Great.
      Grrrr.

      --Cool it, darlin'.--

      Practice ten days ago, and an accidental touch. Refreshed my inner Logan.
      Oh goodie.

      --Shut up, Logan.--

      The snickering in my head faded slowly, and I bit my lip, before my fingers
      brushed the paper trapped deep in my pocket. Hooking a finger on the
      bills, I fished them up and out, dropping them neatly on the counter (I
      knew better than to try to hand them over personally). The cashier--with
      the oh-so-original-name of Joe--slowly picked them up, and I gave into
      temptation and cracked my gum. He jumped. Love it. I'm such a bitch.
      Should be in my resume--you know, along with Energy Absorber and Ass-Kicker
      Extraordinaire, Carrier of the Personality Formerly Known As Carol Danvers
      and Part of the Personality Currently Known as Logan.

      Of course, I sort of liked the name Rogue. Shorter.

      "Here you go." I was understanding when he carefully laid the change on
      the counter and stepped back again as I reached out a gloved hand to take
      it. Three Washingtons, one Lincoln--I could stop by McDonalds on the way
      home and miss Shepherd's Pie for lunch. Thank God for small miracles.
      Folding them into my hand, I wiped a palm over my forehead, wishing, not
      for the first time, that Logan's senses hadn't been recharged in me from
      that latest encounter. The scent of fear and tobacco was not particularly
      conductive to calmness--made me itch for a cigarette, in fact. I didn't
      smoke--Logan did. Damn.

      Grabbing the bag, I did one last spot check on purchases--tampons for me,
      applesauce for Jubes, some firecrackers for Johnny--we're good to go. I
      smiled brightly at Joe. No 'thanks for shopping here' from him, though I
      wondered if he was aware that mutant purchasers made up three quarters of
      his clients and probably most of his profits. He'd go out of business if
      not for us.

      "Thanks." Smile, Rogue. Look cute and harmless, as if flies are in no
      danger when you are near. He didn't seem reassured. Sorry, babe, I got a
      monthly emergency here, no time to babysit your xenophobia.

      "Mutie," he mumbled as I got to the door. He probably thought I was out of
      range of hearing--or did he? Hot color splashed up my face as I shifted
      the bag to my other arm and used my free hand to push open the door, making
      the tiny bell ring merrily.

      It was sudden, unexpected, and pretty much the definition of shock--there
      *was* no door, because someone else pulled it open, and my hand had nothing
      but air to grab on to.

      Picture it, if you will--one Rogue, one bag, one handful of change, with no
      support. This wasn't going to be pretty. Falling forward, I instinctively
      avoided grabbing for anything--I'd gotten into messes doing that--and
      wished I'd practiced hovering more so I could catch myself mid-air. Damn,
      damn, damn. Another thing Logan was gonna smirk about, reminding me that
      those hours I spent training with him *weren't* just so I'd have great legs
      and good toning.

      That's when my chin hit the concrete sidewalk and I bit my
      tongue--hard--instantly alighting my head with all sorts of new and
      uninteresting varieties of pain. And wouldn't you know, invulnerability
      didn't cover that. Go figure. Instantly, a hand was under my arm and the
      stars in front of my eyes left me completely vulnerable to whatever the
      poor unsuspecting person was planning on doing.

      Dear God, why hadn't I worn long sleeves?

      "I'm sorry." The voice sounded frantic, dangerously close to my ear. "I'm
      so sorry, ma'am. I--I--let me help you with this." Carefully, I was
      deposited on the sidewalk with a sort of weird combination of concern and
      out-and-out fear--I could even smell it, and shit, did I *seriously* need
      heightened senses on top of everything else? Vaguely, through the pounding
      of my head, I could hear whoever it was--and the voice was male, so I was
      going out on a limb and saying man--begin to gather up my dropped items and
      deposit them in back in the bag. Rubbing my forehead, I didn't even try to
      do it myself--I felt like my brain was trying to squeeze its way out my
      ears. Ouch. Shit and ouch.

      In Salem, I could honestly have said that they could watch me being
      murdered in the street and probably not give a damn. Apparently, I was
      wrong.

      Before I could quite bring myself to say anything, the money was thrust
      into my free hand and my fingers closed over it reflexively.

      "Here. I found all of it--I didn't take any. I can--if some's missing, I
      can look for it for you. Okay?"

      I rubbed my head and tentatively opened my eyes to see if they worked.
      Yep. All in good working order. Yeah for me. Invulnerability DID do
      something. With a quick glance down at my hand to see that a five and
      three ones were present, along with sundry coins, I looked up at the man
      who was hovering over me with desperate concern.

      My attempt at a smile faded instantly

      He was soaked with fear, and I'd never run into that before. He was
      crouched beside me on the hot concrete, so I couldn't quite judge his
      height, though he was tall. Faded jeans that had obviously seen better
      days, a long-sleeved blue shirt that needed an iron like no one's business,
      cross-trainers that should have been honorably retired to a landfill
      somewhere. Geez, I thought I was the only masochist who wandered around in
      hot weather wearing heavy clothing. Dark hair and bright blue eyes. Oh
      God, a hottie if there ever was one. Yummy.

      And scared. So scared and I had no idea why.

      "Umm--yeah, that's it," I said, trying to look alluring, but the inner
      pounding of my head didn't help. He leaned over me with disturbing levels
      of consideration. "Thanks, Mr.--"

      "Andrews. John--John Andrews." He paused, blinking rapidly--the fear was
      so strong I was getting nauseated and Logan's dormant fight-or-flight was
      beginning to kick into sluggish gear. Great. Just great. Wonderful time
      for an unheralded flashback of powers. Aching head, skinned knee and chin,
      and I needed to seriously go feral on someone who was already so afraid I
      was getting the distinct impression he might wet his pants if he wasn't
      careful. Joy. "I'm so sorry--I didn't see you at the door. I--I--"

      "I'm Marie," I said, wisely choosing not to extend a hand--his fear was so
      hot that I was pretty sure he might pass out if I moved too quickly.
      Slowly, I stood up--instantly, his hand was under my elbow, supporting me
      as I found my footing. "Nice to meet you, though the circumstances suck,
      huh?" I grinned up at him, a little surprised he'd touched me--mutants, as
      stated above, just *aren't* welcome around Salem. And wow, I'd so
      underestimated the good citizens of the town--this guy was seriously nice.

      "Do you--can I carry these for you? To your car? I'm so sorry--I didn't,
      I swear I didn't see you." He was already reaching for my bag--and were
      his hands shaking? Quickly, I intercepted him, closing my fingers over the
      brown paper.

      "No, it's okay."

      He froze. Okay, moving from strange quickly into weird. Big blue eyes
      looked up into mine, reminding me yet again, damn, he was hot. Hot and
      helpful. That's a combo you don't see every day. I crouched to pick up
      the bag--the aching was cooling down, why thank you , invulnerability,
      you're so kind to FINALLY notice I'm damaged.

      "Um--do you need me to do anything? I--I can--" He swallowed as my body
      lifted in an abbreviated hover--shit, *now* I decide to scare the boy even
      further? I concentrated and replanted my feet on the ground, wondering
      what on earth could have inspired me to try and screw myself over this way.
      Focusing on John--half expecting him to make a run for it--I noted his eyes
      were widening and the fear scent was increasing exponentially. Dear God,
      kid, just stop already, what on earth have you heard about me? I'd *never*
      run into this level of terror before--even the most idiotic of the FoH
      never gave off anything close to this. His eyes weren't on me
      though--suddenly, they were fixed over my shoulder and I turned to see a
      man in uniform approach.

      I didn't recognize the uniform--vaguely paramilitary, and inner-Logan was
      growling softly. Had to hope I wasn't doing it out loud or I'd be in for
      trouble. Instantly, I took a step backward, trying to think of what to do.
      Running, while attractive, just didn't seem like the wisest option, all
      things considered. I hovered. In public. Oh, the stupidity. Oh the
      stupidity, the foolishness of doing that and *if* I was so suicidal as to
      hover in full view of the public, *couldn't* I have done it earlier so I
      wouldn't have a *tres* aching knee and a serious headache?

      And he asked me--

      "Is anything wrong, ma'am?"

      I gaped a little--no words were emerging at first. The frown deepened and
      his gaze went to John. I looked quickly--and the man did such an
      impersonation of a statue as to make anyone proud. Or scared. Really,
      incredibly scared, and the ache behind my eyes was getting worse, working
      its way to the twitch of my fingers and the adrenaline trying to kick-start
      me into action.

      It was as if he thought this guy could do something to him....

      "Umm--no." Clutching my bag to my chest, I started to edge away--uniformed
      people did nothing for me except Bad Things. "Everything's fine, sir."

      "Is he bothering you?"

      Blinking, I turned my gaze on John, who was--dear God, he was shaking. He
      extended a hand, and I saw something flash at his wrist, something in dark
      blue that kicked over a memory for me. I tried to nudge it out, but it
      wouldn't come, so I turned my full attention back outwards. The uniformed
      man was still frowning, vaguely threatening, and every hair on my body went
      on alert. Oh, this wasn't good. This was surreal and Not Good all at the
      same time.

      "No--he just helped me out, that's all." The man's gaze didn't leave
      John--and the fear smell was beyond belief. No, not fear--this was terror,
      pure and simple, and I'd been to horror movies where the entire audience
      didn't generate anything at this level. "I'm fine, thanks. I--uh--I gotta
      go." Weird. Too weird, even for me. Quickly, I groped for my keys in my
      pocket, fumbling them out and nearly dropping them in my haste.

      "You know you're not allowed on this side of town, boy. Maybe you should
      get going back."

      Huh?

      "Y-yes, sir. Sorry, sir. I--I'm going." His gaze went to me. "Sorry,
      ma'am. I'm--I'm glad you're okay. Thanks." He turned and quickly began to
      scurry down the parking lot. His gaze flickered over his shoulder and I
      got the distinct impression that once he was out of sight, he would be
      going straight into a flat out run.

      What the....

      "Sorry about that, ma'am." The man's voice was suddenly gentle. "You're
      from the School, right?"

      "Yes." Umm, yeah. Yes, I am. And you care why...?

      "I'm sorry about that--they just pull crap like that." He shook his head
      with what appeared to be--exasperation? Disgust, definitely, and that was
      new. Did John have a reputation of some kind in town? "I'll make sure he
      doesn't bother you again." With something resembling a salute, he turned
      and walked away, and I followed his progress for a few minutes, before
      making a break for my car.

      My car, my nice six year old Eclipse...

      Which was NOT in the parking lot. In point of fact, there were no cars in
      the parking lot. And for sure, when I walked in, there'd been twenty.

      In every direction around me, the empty parking lot stretched without mercy
      to the high wooden fences that separated this lot from the two adjoining.
      Grey, sleek, just as I remembered, *sans* it's intended users; to wit,
      vehicles.

      --Marie, darlin', you sure you're okay?--

      --Well, I don't know, sugar. How hard did I hit my head?-- In point of
      fact, I hit my chin, not my head, I didn't really black out, and what the
      hell was going on?

      Standing in the middle of the lot, I stared around me, trying to get a grip
      on the situation, which was spiraling toward Freaky real damn fast.
      Slowly, I put down my bag and realized I still had my change clutched in my
      hand.

      One five, three ones, some metal, enough to get a cab. I took the coins to
      stuff in my jeans pocket and began to fold the bills when I froze, staring
      in shock at them in my hand.

      I mean, how often, really, do we take a good look at our money?

      It looked as if ole George Washington had taken a hiatus. The face that
      looked back at me had starred in my worst nightmares often enough, however,
      that I recognized it immediately.

      Senator Robert Kelley was sure moving up in the world for a dead man.

      *****

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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      extraordinaire

      *****

      On Published Versus Fanfic (simplified)

      Q: Why do I do this? I'm a junkie.

      A: And fanfic writers are... what? Slightly scuzzy methadone addicts, as
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      --Barbelith Underground Messageboard, page 7
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