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FIC: Jus Ad Bellum Part I: 3/6: MA: Rogue, all

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  • Jenn
    3/6 My first view of the school was disturbingly familiar--so disturbingly familiar, in fact, that I began to smile as I watched some of the younger kids play
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 28, 2001

      My first view of the school was disturbingly familiar--so disturbingly
      familiar, in fact, that I began to smile as I watched some of the younger
      kids play soccer outside to the left of the bulk of the Mansion proper and
      the clean lines of a well-kept front lawn. The driveway was scrubbed as
      clean as it was every week (my back remembered that chore), and I noted the
      statuary were neatly positioned in the exact right spots around the
      entrance. On benches outside I watched a few students linger, either alone
      with a good book or chatting in the late afternoon sun. Birds seemed to be
      singing on-key and the laughter and shouting of the students lifted toward
      me over the hum of the engine. All we needed to complete this mutant
      Hallmark card were frolicking deer.

      I actually caught myself checking out the wooded slopes to the east and
      only wondered that Bambi hadn't made a personal appearance.

      Three blinks didn't change what I saw. It was home. Reflexively, I
      squeezed the handle of my new bag, stuffed with the clothes I'd bought--and
      luckily, the guy assigned to pick me up and deliver my ID hadn't seen me
      before, so didn't comment on the short blonde hair that skimmed my chin.
      Nor did he pay particular attention to my gloves, which was disconcerting
      in its own way. I was used to people noticing.

      --Very chic, honey.--

      --Yeah, yeah, yeah. I remember what you looked like. Let's both be
      *really* hopeful you stay away, 'kay?--

      --Maybe I'm dead here too.--

      I shivered at the reminder, thinking of the little I'd gotten off the
      computer before Reherr had offered to take me somewhere to get more
      clothes. War. The war Magneto had predicted with Cassandra-esque
      regularity, that he had told us so many times would come to pass.

      It was the strangest thing in the world, to look out on the grounds of the
      school and realize that this place had somehow survived the human/mutant
      war--a war that had never been more than vague theory to me before that
      screen had given, in clipped, bare lines, the history of a different world.

      Salem Complex--internment camp for humans who had participated against
      mutantkind during the war. Simple, black-and-white, clean explanation that
      just didn't seem to relate to the reality of metal towers and long,
      twisting fences, the faces I'd seen from a distance as Reherr led me to a
      car. What scared me most of all--Salem Complex had a number.

      It wasn't the first or only, even in New York.

      I pulled my bag closer, wrapping my fingers into the strap again and almost
      forgetting that I could pull the bag apart without even noticing with my
      strength. To distract myself, I gave a glance to the young man beside me.
      A little tense for someone driving an automatic car, as if he was sure
      something was going to go very wrong if he took his attention off the road
      even for an instant. As he came to a stop in the wide mansion driveway, I
      tightened my grip on the bag and drew in a deep breath.

      I could do this.

      "Here's the school, ma'am."

      Nodding shortly, I reached for the handle of the door, and the man with me
      nearly blanched. I jerked my hand back, wondering what I'd done. What on

      "Just a moment, ma'am." He flipped the car into park and turned off the
      ignition, and I hesitated, wondering what he was planning to do. What he
      did do was weird enough--scurrying around the front of the car as if he was
      trying for a medal in speed dodging, he pulled open my door, motioning
      respectfully for me to emerge now. For the first time, I noted he didn't
      carry weaponry or decoration, though the uniform was identical to that of
      the officers--and I saw the edge of blue/black again below the wide cuff as
      he shut the door behind me, a blur on his wrist.

      Before I could think better of it, I caught his arm and turned his palm
      toward me, pushing the sleeve back.

      "You're human," I whispered, but I supposed I should have guessed that
      immediately. What I didn't expect was the blue tattoo across his inner
      wrist. Twelve numbers over a thin white scar, and my fingertips, even
      through the leather gloves, could catch the change in texture beneath the
      skin. Implant--maybe a chip.

      I supposed, through the haze of shock, that Magneto had a certain sense of
      poetic justice.

      "Y-y-y-yes, ma'am." Poor kid, no idea what to do, how to do it. I wanted
      to shake him and then touch his shoulder and tell him something comforting.
      Though what I would say--fuck if I knew. This was human-hell, sort of.

      "Okay." And I freed his arm, feeling his fear at my touch, my interest.
      "Umm...are you taking me to Magneto?"

      His eyes widened, and I suspected it was because of the name I used. Erik
      Lensherr. Use Erik Lensherr.

      "Mr. Lensherr is waiting. Yes, I'm--I'm supposed to take you." Taking my
      abandoned bag from the ground, he motioned me to precede him--which
      logically, since I had no idea where to go, I could not do. For a second,
      there was a stalemate and our eyes met before he pushed his gaze downward
      to focus on my shoes, an act of blatant submission.

      It made me sick.

      "I'll follow you," I told him, watching his face. He still looked
      uncertain, but either my rank or simple common sense took over, and, with
      half a wary eye on me, he began to walk toward the Mansion. Distantly, I
      saw people emerge from the garage, but it took a moment to register the
      identity of the one laughing--the ash-blonde hair was longer and the
      once-bulky body had been sheared down to pure muscle barely covering heavy
      bones. Older too, in a way that had nothing to do with chronology but
      seemed to settle in the scar over his eye.

      It was Bobby and my entire world stopped revolving. Just--boom. All stop.

      Blue eyes, a mess of dirty-blonde hair, with a smear of grease arrowing
      across his forehead and into his hairline--I'd know him anywhere, anytime.
      Distantly, I heard the boy say something to me, but my focus was on my
      former lover and friend, whose eyes had met mine over the few feet of
      driveway that separated us.

      --Uh-uh. Cool it, honey. That's not your Bobby. You aren't Rogue.
      You're new mutant Marie Danvers.--

      Before I could recover from the shock, Bobby was approaching me with a
      quickened step--his gaze swept right over the boy with me, instead coming
      to rest on my face. A faint shadow crossed the clear blue eyes and I

      --He recognizes me!--

      --He'll put it down to deja vu. Just don't break. Don't, Rogue. We don't
      have any idea about these people. You saw the fences, you know the reps,
      you shopped with people that stank of fear. Don't break.--

      Shit, I didn't want to think of the mall again--the abandoned stores and
      the utter echoing silence of the hub of Salem's teenage social life, the
      surreptitious, frightened gazes on me as I stumbled into the first store I
      could find, my purchases made on the credit card Captain Reherr gave me
      before she left me there to sink or swim at my leisure. The clerk had rang
      my purchases up so quickly I'd wondered if there was a time limit I didn't
      know about, and a boy had been on-hand to carry the two bags outside for me
      before I'd finished scrawling my name across the credit card slip.

      "Hi," he said slowly, and Bobby was never stupid. Never. A golden-tanned
      hand extended and I placed my gloved hand in his, feeling that spark of
      heat again--remembering long nights on the porch swing where we'd talked
      about everything and nothing at all. "You're new?"

      "Yeah. Marie Danvers." I shook his hand firmly and the long fingers clung
      to mine. Yet his memories of me would have ended with that classroom, with
      that night when he hovered outside Logan's room and I almost committed my
      first kill by sheer accident. I had to remember that. Had to. Slowly, I
      withdrew. "And you are...?"

      "Oh, sorry." His smile lit up his whole face and my breath caught again.
      "Bobby Drake. Nice to meet you." He gave the boy with me a dismissive
      nod. "I'll take her to Mr. Lensherr." With another smile at me, he freed
      my hand, taking the bag the boy mutely extended and turning his back as if
      he didn't exist. "Is he expecting you?"

      "Yeah. They called in from Salem C-omplex." Not Center. Complex. With
      chain link fences and razor wire and people who wore guns and uniforms.
      Complex. Come to think of it, not hard to remember at all.

      Bobby nodded in agreement.


      I knew that voice. Long days outside playing basketball, from the time
      that he showed me how to assemble bombs in the lab or the many times he'd
      sat with me after my personality episodes. He'd sent Logan after me when I
      ran away.

      St. John Allerdyce, slim and quick and far, far too observant. He came to
      a dead stop in front of me, almost skidding on the pavement, when his eyes
      rested on my face.


      I didn't like it when Carol said uh-oh.

      --Something you're not telling me, sugar?--

      --Not exactly--

      "...Marie Danvers," Bobby was saying. "Marie, this is St. John Allerdyce,
      our resident pyrokinetic. Say hi, John." A careless grin thrown at me,
      his usual expression when dealing with Johnny. "Usually, he's much nicer."

      "Hey, Marie." A pause. "Scott wants you in the garage, Bobby. You left
      the engine without some seriously key components."

      "Shit." A quick, worried glance at me, then he turned the full power of
      those liquid eyes on Johnny-- and just as in my world, Johnny almost
      melted. Sort of fun to watch. "Can you take her to Lensherr? He's
      expecting her."

      Slowly, the clear eyes turned on me. Looking me up and down, narrowing
      slightly on the chain around my neck, the ID I'd almost forgotten I was

      --Carol, I don't like this. What the hell is--oh FUCK you were with him
      before he came to the school, weren't you?-- Shit, I'd forgotten all about
      that. St. John had never brought it up, though I'd known he had a past
      with her. I'd never pushed about it, though. Never. Mutant trauma was
      too common, and it was an unspoken rule that we left whatever skeletons
      lingered in the mental closets happily concealed.

      --Yeah, honey, chill. You're Marie Danvers, not Carol. You could be my

      --You don't have a sister.--

      --And how would they know? Honey, this is postwar. Computer files were
      destroyed, mutants were scattered--they're still piecing together the files
      from the death camps. For all anyone knows, you are exactly who you say
      you are.--

      "...that's okay, Marie?"

      In my world, I'd never told Bobby my name, even when I'd moaned in bed with
      him. How--wrong it seemed, to hear it now.

      "Sure," I said, smiling brightly.

      --It's not the Danvers part--he's got that look that Bobby had. He feels
      something is off.--

      --Just be cool, honey. Play it very, very cool. Seriously--these people
      think you're dead. They *aren't* going to suspect anything unless you
      start freaking out.--

      I swallowed in a dry throat and Johnny's hand hesitated over my wrists.


      "Yes," I answered briefly, forestalling the questions in his eyes.
      "St--John, right?"

      "St. John Allerdyce, at your service." A slightly self-mocking half-bow,
      before he straightened. There was a wariness in him--but he was so much
      the same. Edges of cynicism in his voice, the slow grace of his movements,
      the vicious control he placed over himself. I knew it all, knew him so
      well--and yet, I didn't know him at all. Here, anyway. "Danvers?"

      "Yes." Keep close to the truth. Close, close, close. "My--my sister died
      in the camps."

      "Carol." His mouth tightened, spitting out the name like a bad piece of

      --What the fuck did you do to him?--

      --I was very young, Rogue. Go sort the memories if you wanna find out.--

      I'd better--this wasn't looking too good. I'd never felt Carol defensive

      "Yeah." I shifted a little, trying to think of something to say. "Nice
      place you have here."

      --Lame, darlin'.--

      --Carol in a huff?--

      Logan's inner smirk made me grin.

      "I like it." He nodded toward a group of students watching us from a
      distance. "I knew your sister." He was still edged, voice tight, and I
      flicked him a glance from the corner of my eyes to check his expression.

      --Shit, Carol, what the fuck did you do to him?--

      No answer. Damn her.

      "Really?" I tried to keep my voice from betraying me and jumping into
      canine highness. "She left home when I was very young. I--I found her in
      the camps, but--"

      --You don't know anything about the camps. You gotta find someone to
      absorb and fast, darlin'--

      And how many ways did I not want to do that. Let me count them.

      "I'm sorry." He didn't sound too sorry. The flat satisfaction in his voice
      startled me. Carol too, apparently.

      --I never did anything to merit that.--


      --I took care of him.-- A pause. Then she was gone and Johnny was watching
      me--no, St. John was watching me. Different boy, different life. When he
      walked, there was the lightest trace of a limp, something I probably
      wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't been trying so hard to avoid his eyes.

      "I didn't know her very well." I struggled, trying to think of something
      to say. "You live here?"

      --Stupid question.--

      --Help me out then.--

      "Yeah, for most of my life." He pushed the front door open, gesturing for
      me to precede him. My back itched when he was behind me and I paused and
      turned as he shut the door. "I'll show you to Mr. Lensherr's office."

      Magneto's office. As we walked toward the stairs, I tried to keep calm,
      though my skin was crawling. This felt--so normal. Like home. Except
      Magneto was in Xavier's office and ran the school, if the direction was
      right. Which was all kinds of wrong, on every level. What the hell had
      happened to Xavier? Where was he?

      There was an obvious answer, of course. One I was avoiding thinking about,
      because it hurt.

      "Here we are." St. John tapped on the door--metal door--and it slid open,
      revealing an office very much like Xavier's. In fact--

      --in point of fact it was almost exactly as I had seen it before I left the
      Mansion that morning. Exactly. The dark wood of the desk was polished to
      a muted gloss, the green lamp on the corner that precise one inch from the
      edge. Neat stacks of files on the other corner, and a black pen seated by
      blank pad just in reach of the antique leather chair. With a breath,
      though, everything shifted again--Xavier's scent was warm and inviting,
      wrapped in cinnamon and cloves and the cigars he'd sometimes enjoyed with
      Logan, the red wine he shared with Jean.

      This room was as sterile as polished metal, and I breathed out abruptly
      before I choked on the feel of it in my lungs.

      "God," I whispered, and St. John jerked, turning to look at me with a
      thoughtful frown. The chair was empty, but I could see a shape beside the
      window, and a flicker of a hand brought the lamp alight.

      Erik Lensherr looked back at me with a slight smile that seemed to strip
      straight through my body and look into my head. The last time I'd seen
      him, his hands were closing around my face as he told me he was sorry.

      He'd lied, of course. When his mind raped mine, I'd seen that he wasn't
      sorry at all. Thinner, the lines of old scars bisecting the left side of
      his face from temple to jaw. Shorter hair and a strange fluidity of
      movement that seemed too carefully cultivated to be natural. With perfect
      ease, he extended a hand for mine, shaking it lightly, and it took
      everything in me not to jerk away.

      "Hello, Ms Danvers," he said in his low, cultured voice, the edges sharper
      than a native speaker of English, but softened since the last time I'd
      heard his voice. "Welcome to Xavier's School for Gifted Children."


      I never knew how I got through that interview.

      He didn't comment on my gloves, motioning me to sit in the overstuffed
      armchair that I could remember sitting in hundreds of times before in
      Xavier's office. He asked me questions, and Carol reemerged to help me
      answer, though the hostility level in her was still pretty high. My
      family, my life before, the camps. He took my reticence as normal trauma
      from my experiences and smiled when he touched my shoulder and gave me a
      key to my room. Then he touched the intercom, speaking to someone outside,
      and in a few minutes, a young girl appeared.

      The fear scent was familiar now, almost normal, and for some reason, that
      made me as sick as the trail of numbers on her inner arm. Numbly, I
      followed her down the hall to the bedroom--ironically, my former room--and
      realized she had my bag when she placed it on the bed.

      "What's your name?" I asked. The girl jumped a little, turning to face me,
      and for the first time I got a good look at her. Dark hair...delicate
      chin...blue-black bruising around dark green eyes.

      I winced and she stood so still--how the hell could anyone be so
      motionless? But the answer occurred to me with sickening ease--don't draw
      attention to yourself. Be still, and maybe they won't notice. Maybe they

      --God, what did they do to her here?

      "Sarah." Barely a whisper.

      I nodded encouragingly.

      "Thank you, Sarah." She bobbed her head and quickly turned to leave. The
      door opened as she reached for it, and she drew back with a start as St.
      John walked in.

      "Get out." The slightest jerk of his head, and the girl retreated quickly,
      sidling by him as if he were poison to touch. Shit. Slowly, I sat down on
      the edge of the bed and began to open my bag, wondering who my roommate
      was. Casually, St. John leaned against the doorway.

      "Kitty, you roommate, is on assignment, so Lensherr assigned me to be your
      guide." His eyes swept over me, freezing on my face again. And Johnny
      wasn't Bobby Drake, handsome and careless and absentminded and open as all
      hell for anyone to read. Behind those blue eyes was a sharp mind and
      observational skills that were a byword at the school.

      "Great." I absently raised a hand to run through my hair, remembering at
      the last second to be careful not to dislodge the wig. This wouldn't last.
      I'd need to cut and dye my hair. If I was here that long.

      And God, I didn't want to be. Oh, I so didn't want to be here any longer
      than absolutely necessary.

      "You remind me of someone." He waited for a moment as I assimilated what
      he said.

      --Careful.-- Carol was lurking behind my eyes, watching this bizarre
      interview with a strange intensity. I shivered at the emotion I got off
      her--anger, dislike, frustration, but also--affection, maybe. --Johnny has
      a good memory and excellent deductive skills. Be very careful.--

      --You said it yourself, I'm dead here.-- The reminder gave me the serious
      willies too, and I shoved the thought clear of my head, letting it nestle
      somewhere that it couldn't bother me.

      --He spent time with me, honey. Nothing about that boy is stupid.--

      I regarded St. John carefully. Cropped blonde hair, no scars, no real
      differences I could see between the St. John of my world and the man in
      front of me. Always staying out of the limelight, letting the rest of us
      take a turn on the stage as Center of Attention. He never wanted to be the
      least bit out of control.

      "Really?" I paused, frowning as if in thought. "I look like my sister, I

      No response. Then he nodded, almost as if he'd made a decision, but I
      didn't think he believed that it was resemblance to Carol. It was all over
      his face--he'd be thinking about this, thinking, thinking, thinking. Shit.

      "Come with me and I'll show you around." A slight smile. "You probably
      want to see her monument, right?"

      Now why did that make me think he wasn't talking about Carol?


      A slight frown pulled his eyebrows sharply together, and his eyes turned to
      the window briefly, before darting back to me.

      "Her monument--the one for Rogue."


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