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FIC: Jus Ad Bellum Part II: 2/4: MA: Rogue, others

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  • Jenn
    2/4 The short tour ended with Bobby being called away for some unspecified morning duty and left me seriously disturbed and left to my own devices until Scott
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 4, 2001

      The short tour ended with Bobby being called away for some unspecified
      morning duty and left me seriously disturbed and left to my own devices
      until Scott found time to interview me for whatever purposes such an
      interview entailed. We'd gone over most of Mansion at record speed, then
      the grounds--nice, distant spots with an easy view of approaching people
      and upwind of the school, in case Logan's curiosity got the better of him.
      I wanted fair warning. Couldn't imagine how it would play out if we met
      face to face and he *realized* who I was, but--sure as hell didn't want it
      happening like that, here.

      I turned my attention back to scanning the porch area facing a nicely open
      yard that I could see all approachers long before they could see me. So,
      interview. I supposed it had something to do with my future here--what I
      wanted to do. 'Hey, Marie, how do you feel about being a nice little
      executioner or maybe joining up to wipe out human civilization on earth?'
      Nah, Scott would never be so crass. Maybe they needed a secretary. I was
      a good typist.

      Leaning back in the wicker chair, I thought about what the tour had showed
      me. Which was, to wit, a truly scary number of parallels.

      --They remade the school the same. How the hell could they rebuild and
      make it *exactly* the same?-- The same number of classrooms, unused now;
      the mobile blackboard Scott used for the Calculus class that always seemed
      to be in the hallway and likely to be tripped over; the hardwood floors
      and their myriad collection of rugs that looked the same, though most of
      Xavier's had been the expensive, handmade variety and I couldn't tell if
      these were the original or not, though God, they looked it. Frankly, I
      didn't want to know. It was nerve-wrecking enough to be aware that the
      memories of the X-Men were good enough to recall that there was always
      supposed to be a quarter-inch of space between the wall and the main hall
      rug. The rec room was as worn and welcoming as always--obviously still
      used often. When Bobby had jokingly challenged me to a game of foosball,
      I'd turned him down with a grin that I'd hoped hid the nervous shifting of
      my stomach.

      I should *not* have had breakfast. I was going to regret it before the day
      was done.

      --I mean, seriously, these people have memories like *nothing* I've ever
      seen before.--

      Neither of my inner voices answered, but then, they both were as completely
      floored as I was. Carol was less so, perhaps, simply because before her
      death, she hadn't spent any time at the Mansion, but Logan's reaction was
      predictable--he simply didn't discuss the issue. Always a good indication
      of Deep Logan Disturbance.

      --Notice the wainscoting, the flooring, the doors, even the damned hand-cut
      glass. If Bobby hadn't told me, I'd never have even guessed this wasn't
      the original.--

      --They wanted to return to normality after the war.-- Carol answered,
      obviously trying to find the root of my unease. --I don't see why you're
      reacting like this.--

      --No, you don't understand.-- I tried to find a comparison, rummaging
      through Carol's memories, rummaging through Logan's, and finding nada.
      Crap. --Look, that's not natural. You can't--It's almost impossible to
      get the original back perfectly. I mean, me, I'm not the same person I was
      before I absorbed you. Some of the same characteristics, some of the same
      feelings, I'm still Rogue, but I changed. This is a home and a school,
      which by definition should be different, should embody change--and it's
      not. It's like they stuck this place in a time bubble to keep it pristine,
      to keep it the same. That's not natural, it's not normal; I mean, shit,
      even the GARDEN layouts are the same, but 'Ro at home is regularly
      redesigning them for change. But this place... There is no change.--

      There it was, my finger was pressed on the button.

      --This place is more home than home is. They made it a memory.--

      --And what's wrong with that?--

      --That's not life. That's not natural. That is concerted effort to keep
      something from happening.-- Shit, I wasn't explaining this any better
      either. Giving up, I stretched a little and looked around, feeling oddly

      --No training yesterday or today.-- Logan told me. --You're used to the

      He was right about that. I'd trained every day of my life since my
      eighteenth birthday, when Scott approved me for pre-team combat
      instruction. I was used to working out my frustrations and my energy,
      channeling them into positive destruction in the Danger Room or the
      practice ring.

      "Marie Danvers, right?"

      I came to startled attention, looking up into the smooth visor of my mentor
      and friend and teacher. Smiling down at me, he extended a friendly hand to
      pull me to my feet.

      I drew in a breath and took it, irrationally reassured by the familiar
      strong grip. In the seconds it took to find my footing, I took him in.
      Sunstreaked dark brown hair was combed back neatly from his forehead,
      definitely longer than he'd ever worn it before, though ruthlessly trimmed
      into a fine straight line--Scott's anality tended to manifest in personal
      hygiene most strongly, though a close second had always been the pristine
      garage; in a plain yellow t-shirt and jeans, as if he was on his way to a
      class like any other morning in my life. A scar on one high cheekbone,
      just below the line of the visor--must have been old since it was nearly
      healed. I studied him as if he was a stranger, trying to figure out how to
      talk to him, how to approach him.

      "Hi." --Okay, should I know who he is?--

      --Yes. He led the Resistance. You'll know.--

      "Mr. Summers." I said, feeling oddly off-center--not exactly an unusual
      feeling here, but not one I was enjoying either.

      "Scott." A brilliant smile, his put-at-ease smile, one of the Three Good
      Ones that the teenage girls of the Mansion had always sighed over. I
      knew--I'd been one of them. Still was, and my heart did a quick mini-pitter
      as he stepped back, releasing my hand. "Just Scott. I'm sorry this took
      so long--we're in the middle of a project right now." I stiffened, knew I
      did, and hoped he didn't notice. "But now's as good a time as any. Has
      Erik given you a room assignment?"

      "Yeah." Again, that personal name use, screaming immense amounts of
      unnatural intimacy that made me wonder what on earth had changed so
      radically in the interpersonal relationships of the X-Men. I fell into
      step beside him, trying to throw out casual glances, trying to feel the
      difference. There wasn't one.

      I shivered a little and Scott did notice, coming to a halt as he opened the
      front door to lead me back inside.

      "Are you all right?" All that warm sympathy--too much, too much like him.
      But the Scott Summers I knew would never have bombed a city--or cities, as
      the case might be. Of course, the Scott Summer I knew wasn't forced to
      watch his wife raped, feel her every scream and shudder, while being held
      down and asked questions he couldn't answer. He hadn't watched Xavier die
      and he'd never watched students tortured.

      God, I hated how Kitty's memories filtered through my mind, sticky with
      leftover emotion. The assimilation process of what I'd received was almost
      complete. These were mine now, and I didn't want them. I didn't want
      these things crawling through my thoughts, even if I needed them to

      "Fine. Just--" I waved a hand in general, hoping he'd take it as just
      normal new-mutant confusion--well, of course he'd take it like that. And
      it wasn't even a lie, not really. I wondered why he didn't ask me about my
      little performance at breakfast and decided that he was putting it down to
      the same thing--new mutant reaction.

      "It can be overwhelming," he agreed as we went down the bright, sunny
      corridors, and Scott smiled as he noted a broken tile in the foyer and
      pointed out the sad little dehydrated ivy clinging to life in the far
      corner. The light chat was designed to put me at ease, and even being
      aware of that, it did its job and I was smiling as we went down the office

      He came to a pause at a large polished wooden door--his office door, I
      realized with a shock of recognition--and he opened it, ushering me inside
      with a gentleman's grace, giving me all those warm smiles, smiles I
      remembered from my first days at the Mansion as well. Slowly, I sat down
      on a high-backed chair that shouldn't be so familiar and waited for him to
      seat himself at his immaculate desk. The pens were arranged to the left by
      size and he still had the neatest workspace of anyone I'd ever met.

      "Marie--Danvers, right?" He paused as he rifled absently through a set of
      folders in the inbox on the corner, pulling out one in what seemed like
      random chance and flipping it open. Looking over the information sheet, he
      gave me a long look--I supposed it was the sheet the nice people at the
      Salem Complex had written up for me. Please God, don't let there be a
      physical description. "Flying, strength, and invulnerability?"

      "Yeah." I nodded quickly, lacing my fingers together, and I saw his gaze
      linger on my gloves. He didn't ask questions though--Scott Summers was
      sensitive to other people's feelings.

      Like Lensherr the night before, he asked about my past and Carol helped me
      reconstruct what I'd told him, adding detail when necessary and forcing
      myself to memorize every word. With Kitty's memories, I was even able to
      elaborate on my camp experiences.

      "Palm Beach." His voice was colorless. "Yeah." A pause. "I'm
      sorry--that was one of the last liberated."

      I shook my head quickly.

      "I don't--" God, he felt guilty. Shit. Move on, move on, move on, I
      didn't need to hear Scott Summers apologize to me for something I hadn't
      gone through. Palm Beach had been a random choice from Kitty's memories of
      the locations of the camps. "I--just moved after that. I didn't
      feel--comfortable--being out in the open."

      He nodded sympathetically.

      "Yes, I can understand that." Absently, his pencil began to tap against
      the wooden surface of the desk and I felt my fingers echo it against my
      knee--it was an addictive rhythm, always had been. "And then you decided
      to come here after the elections?"

      Elections? Ah, one dollar bill. Got it. But--I did a rapid sort through
      Kitty and found it.

      "Not exactly." Elections had been awhile back, soon after the end of the
      war while trying to return to a normal government--he was testing me. I
      wondered why. "I just--I was tired of being alone." I looked down, trying
      to elaborate, because I couldn't think of a reason.

      "I don't mean to put you on the spot, Ms Danvers," Scott said quietly, and
      I watched as he took the pencil from between his fingers, gripping it
      tightly. "We've had--problems with some mutant groups. Reconstruction
      hasn't been easy."

      --Protests against the human camps.-- Carol Danvers told me after her
      delve though Kitty's memories. --A lot of groups don't agree with it.--

      And you know, I would have sworn that if anything like this happened, the
      X-Men would be the first to protest against it. At least the worry about
      infiltrators explained Betsy's and most especially Jean's mental probes the
      night before. Something in me relaxed--this wasn't normal behavior, they
      didn't just wander around reading people's thoughts at random. As a
      newbie, I was under suspicion.

      --The X-Men and the Brotherhood had been targeted specifically to be
      broken--Lensherr, Scott, Logan, Jean, Ororo, Bobby. Targeted for their
      profile, especially Jean.-- Carol said, pulling out Kitty's memories for
      me. One look and I dismissed the images quickly, focusing on Scott again.

      No, Scott Summers would forgive so much, but not the torture of Jean. That
      I could definitely understand.

      --But this...--

      --This is reconstruction, honey. We need more information, but my
      suggestion is you don't get it here. You don't need to be suspected of
      being an infiltrator on top of everything else. Be low-key.--

      Oh yeah. Definitely. I was *not* interested in getting noticed. I was
      going to be the very epitome of low-key.

      --You know who I haven't seen? Sabretooth, Mystique, Toad, some of
      Lensherr's favorites.--

      It was an interesting thought. I leaned back into my chair, my boots
      kicking lightly at the legs as I considered that. Then I tilted my head,
      realizing Scott was watching me.

      --This wasn't accidental. The timing of this meeting.-- I blinked,
      thinking. --I'd take bets that Betsy and Jean both reported about their
      inability to get into my mind to him. Shit.--

      So I waited. Scott Summers glanced down at the paper, then back up, that
      same smile on his face.

      "All right. I think that'll be all for now, at least for a few days."
      The project. Definitely. "Until then, decompress a little, decide what
      you want to do. Relax. Bobby's being useful?" There, a teasing grin.
      Wow. "And my door is always open if you need to talk. So feel free to use
      it, okay?"

      That was a dismissal, and a graceful one at that. Relieved, I found my
      feet, smiling in gratitude before making for the door as Scott went back to
      work. Checking my watch, I noted the interview had taken an hour--I needed
      something else to do.

      "...I think they'll all be here in time." Jean's voice drifted from down
      the hall, and if I hadn't had Logan's senses, I never would have heard it.
      Closing Scott's door behind me, I began to scout for a non-suspicious area
      to sit and look busy doing something. Hmm. Wish I'd grabbed a book.
      Seeing a bench against the wall that wasn't too far out of range, I quickly
      approached and sat down, then turned all my concentration to listening.

      "...problems with retrieval?" Logan. Dear God. I did some quick mental
      calculations--if I was quiet, Logan wouldn't hear me, but I couldn't be
      equally sure of scent range. God, this was stupid--I was trying to *avoid*
      him. Being caught out here would *not* be a good thing.

      --Too many twists in this corridor--he'd have to know someone was here to
      start lookin', kid.-- I nodded gratefully to Inner Logan and shut my eyes
      to concentrate.

      "Betsy's going over to try and keep them under control. There are so
      many--too many, and we have every telepath available working on keeping
      them under control. We're going to have to hurry. I don't think we can
      afford to wait. Especially if the revolts continue. This has to happen
      now or not at all."


      "How many?"

      "All the remaining leaders you retrieved, five thousand seventy volunteers.
      I don't know how many others Erik is bringing in." A pause. "I don't like
      the odds. He has to have found a way to make the casualty rate lower."

      "What's the current rate?"

      "Same as it was on the Statue--twenty-five percent mortality. He says it
      will be lower this time, but the computer simulations aren't backing that
      up. I don't like it."

      "I don't like our other options."

      Jean sighed in frustration. I listened closer--they were getting to the
      very edge of my best current range.

      "I know, I know. If it works--then this will be over faster. Much faster
      than waiting until we're recovered. But I--" their voices drifted further
      away, and I almost got up to follow.

      Didn't though--my legs were frozen in place and my mind was rewinding and
      replaying the conversation

      Leaders. Volunteers. Casualty Rate. The Statue.

      Now I knew why they were risking Polaris in that machine.


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