FIC: Jus Ad Bellum Part I: 3/6: MA: Rogue, all
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
"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
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?--
"...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
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
"...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 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."
--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?"
--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
--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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