FIC: Jus Ad Bellum Part I: 1/6: MA: Rogue, all
- Jus Ad Bellum
Part I: Glimmer-Glass
"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.
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.
--Cool it, darlin'.--
Practice ten days ago, and an accidental touch. Refreshed my inner Logan.
--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
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
"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
"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."
"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.
"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,
--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
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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