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FIC: Jus Ad Bellum Part II: 1/4: MA: Rogue, others

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  • Jenn
    Title: Jus Ad Bellum: Part II: The Way of It Author: jenn (jenn@thegateway.net) See earlier posts for summary, notes, rating, disclaimer, etc. Thanks to
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 4, 2001
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      Title: Jus Ad Bellum: Part II: The Way of It
      Author: jenn (jenn@...)

      See earlier posts for summary, notes, rating, disclaimer, etc. Thanks to
      everyone who sent feedback. I appreciate it.

      Quick note: My computer started acting REALLY loopy yesterday, so
      formatting on this story by email may turn out REALLY strange. I checked
      it a few times before posting, but I don't trust my computer much right
      now. If you have any problems reading it, please email me. Earlier parts
      can be found on my webpage.

      Quick note to Colleen: ask and ye shall recieve. How's THAT for timing?
      <g>


      1/4

      *****
      "...it is far better to be feared than loved if you can't have both."
      --Niccolo Machiavelli, "The Prince"

      *****

      "Marie?"

      The voice was far away from my nice, comfortable, warm--oh, I fell asleep.
      Didn't expect that. There was a reason I wasn't supposed to fall asleep.
      Lemme think...

      "Marie? Hey, it's morning. You wanna go get some breakfast?"

      Bobby? Darling Bobby, who was...who was at the door. I stifled a yawn,
      turning into my pillow. Mornings sucked--and what was up with that Marie
      stuff? As I tried to roll onto my side, I noted my legs were
      tangled--crossed, even, as if I'd fallen asleep sitting up. Why--

      --Wakey, wakey. Welcome to hell.-- Why thank you, Carol. Always good to
      get your snark first thing in the morning. Stretching my arms idly, I
      noted I was still wearing my gloves. Why did I sleep in....

      "Shit!" I sat up, trying to take in my surroundings, blinking the
      sleep-fog away. My room--yes. There was Kitty's bed, and--where was
      Jubilee's? Did she move out again? No, this was something else--

      "Marie?" I looked at Bobby. When did he let his hair grow--and that scar
      was new...

      --Marie, wake the hell up, darlin'. You're not in Kansas today.--

      A flood of memories--a short one, granted, and I sucked in a startled
      breath. This wasn't Kansas--eh, my Kansas--umm...my Westchester. It was
      that other place, this was that other Bobby, and Jubilee didn't live here
      anymore.

      Where *was* Jubilee anyway?

      "Hey." I kicked the blankets off, trying to bring everything in my head
      together: different Westchester, different Bobby, camps, fences,
      Rogue-dead--got it. My--my hair--I pushed a hand up to my head in panic
      but the blonde wig was still locked in place. I was good with bobby-pins.
      "Yeah. Breakfast." Think, think, think. "Umm...I'm gonna take a shower.
      Do you--"

      "I'll meet you downstairs," he said with a smile. He'd always been a
      morning person, damn him. "Come on, Johnny."

      Ah, Johnny, who stabbed me with a quick, sharp glance as he passed by my
      door. I slowly stood up, walking to push the door closed, then rethought
      the situation and locked it for good measure. Which I seriously should
      have considered doing the night before. Oh well. Shaking my head, I went
      into the bathroom, taking off the wig after a few tactical pin removals and
      placing it on the sink, then unpinned my hair and took a good look at
      myself in the mirror.

      Oh yes. Here you are, in mirror world. Oz, even. Something like that.
      And you look fine. So far, you've changed timelines, seen your tomb,
      almost killed one of your best friends, and made a lot of people
      ultra-suspicious. All kinds of good things managed in one day. And don't
      forget that being dead part.

      "Shit."

      --Clever, darlin'.--

      I so wasn't in the mood for him right now. With a growl, I turned to the
      shower, flipping on the hot water and pulling off my t-shirt and underwear
      before climbing in. Kitty had quite a selection of bath gels and shampoos.
      And I should feel really guilty for using them after half-killing her.

      I should, but I was feeling like crap, and mint bodywash, with any luck,
      would do something for my mood. Leaning back against the cool tile wall, I
      shut my eyes. A nice long, leisurely hot shower. Oh yes. That would
      help. Ducking my head beneath the water, I reconsidered the idea of
      cutting my hair--but where would I go to get it done? Was my favorite
      salon in operation, and anyway, with my skin issues, that could be a
      problem if it wasn't--not to mention the entire issue of making sure no one
      *saw* me, and what if other mutants went there regularly too? Find the
      time to dye it--and getting from brown to blonde was hell on earth; I'd
      tried it during my Carol-controlled days and never gotten it right. Maybe
      I should have chosen a different shade of blonde wig. Golden-blonde was
      hard to get right....

      --Marie, honey, we don't have time for this. Bobby and Johnny are waiting
      downstairs for you.--

      Bobby was waiting downstairs. I take too long, he might come looking for
      me.

      Straightening, I grabbed a sponge and got to work.

      Getting out, I towel-dried my hair and looked into the mirror for a long
      time, absently brushing it tangle-free. It'd be easier if I cut it--less
      danger of my hair forcing the wig off or random strands appearing out of
      nowhere. With a sigh, I began rooting through the cabinet drawers. Kitty
      always kept a good supply of possibly necessary beauty products and other
      sundry, but me, couldn't even keep up with my own pair of tweezers. First
      drawer--brush, comb, pick, toilet paper; second drawer--tweezers, toenail
      clippers, here we go, scissors. Straightening in front of the mirror, I
      took a long, deep breath.

      I hadn't had a serious haircut since my tenth birthday--running my fingers
      through the waving brown strands that clung damply to my fingers, I
      remembered how Jean would help me find creative ways to keep it out of my
      way during missions, remembered the number of hair care products in my
      closet at home, the luxury of mayonnaise treatments with Jubes and Kitty.
      Absently, I caressed a long length down over my shoulder, felt it heavy and
      wet on my lower back.

      No problem. It was just hair. I could do this.

      Picking up a length of hair, I held the scissors and marked the place I
      needed to cut with two fingers. Shutting my eyes tight, I made the first
      cut and felt the heavy length drop to my feet on the floor. The stunted
      end caressed the edge of my chin and I opened my eyes to check the length
      and winced. Grabbing the trash can with trembling fingers, I picked up the
      dropped hair and slipped it in, then ducked from the sight of the mirror
      and tilted my head forward, blindly made the corrections by touch, watching
      with a strange sort of sick fascination as the weight of silky-dark and
      blinding silver-white coiled like a snake at the bottom of the plastic
      liner. Barely breathing, I made the final cut and shut my eyes tight again
      as I brushed away the remaining cut hairs from my neck and face and slowly
      stood up. The ends of my hair brushed my cheeks and the top of my neck
      with every movement of my head.

      For a full minute, I stared into the mirror and recognized that I'd made
      Marie Danvers fact. Unevenly chopped, the waves thickened into
      half-hearted curls as I reached for the pins and my hands shook as I began
      to secure the remains of my hair to my head.

      It'd grow back. It was just hair. No biggie here, none at all. I bit
      down on my lip while I picked up the bag from the trashcan and hid it under
      my bed once my wig was in place. I'd need to dispose of that someplace
      safe soon.

      Dressed and rewigged, I emerged from my room, passing kids who gave me nods
      and a few adults I didn't recognize. Several humans edged by me, blending
      themselves into the walls as if they wished they could disappear into them.
      Frankly, it was spooky--worse, it seemed justified, when a kid that
      couldn't be above thirteen winked at me and levitated a young man off his
      feet and into the air. The human let out a startled scream, spilling the
      pile of folded cream linen onto the woven blue hall rug.

      The laughter from the kid's group of friends was sickening and I turned
      away quickly, hoping my face didn't reflect anything but blank acceptance.
      Breakfast suddenly seemed like a *really* bad idea.

      At the bottom of the stairs, true to form, were Bobby and Johnny. Johnny,
      making cute little fire shapes that danced in midair, was smiling at
      something Bobby was saying, and I noted how really sinister he could look
      all in black--shirt, jeans, and cross-trainers. As I touched my foot to
      the bottom stair, both of them looked up, alerted by whatever sixth sense
      men had about things like attractive women appearing in their general
      proximity.

      No, I'd never lacked confidence. At least something was looking up today.

      "Hey," said Bobby, admiring gaze tracing me in the three-quartered sleeve
      green shirt and the jeans that were a size too big, but I'd been in a rush
      at the store. He didn't look bad himself--a red t-shirt that looked
      vaguely starched stretched over a muscled chest, combined with nicely worn
      jeans. Yummy. St. John blinked, taking me in--all that nice clean morning
      sunlight on my face from all the huge windows. Shit. He frowned a little,
      then shut his hand over his fire and shrugged, touching Bobby's shoulder.

      There was no way he could recognize me, even with statuary of my face
      scattered around. Just no way. Seven years of maturity had changed me,
      the eye-color was green, no longer brown, and short, straight blonde hair.
      Think about it, Roguey. You're good here.

      "You two ready?" Johnny asked as Bobby's admiring regard stretched out
      uncomfortably enough for me to shift slightly on the last stair. I'd
      forgotten how Bobby used to look at me, as if I was the most wonderful
      thing in the world. It was a heady feeling, truth be told.

      "Sure," Bobby answered, without a glance at Johnny, and very lightly
      brushed the collar of my shirt. I smiled tightly, forcing my body not to
      react.

      --Now that you're done drooling over Drake, honey, maybe you should think
      about finding out some stuff.--

      --Okay. This is what I'll do. I stand up in the middle of breakfast and
      ask who specialized in Twilight Zone as a hard science, because man, do I
      have a problem.--

      Carol went perfectly silent--I wasn't sure whether it was because she was
      angry or because I actually had a point--sort of. Victory was victory,
      however, and I took it any way I could.

      --You need to find a way to talk to someone, see someone you can trust.--

      --Jean and Betsy play psi-games and I wouldn't trust Magneto any farther
      than the tip of my nose. Scott is Jean's husband--thank you Kitty for that
      trivia--and I don't know about the others.--

      --You want an excuse to approach Logan.--

      Maybe. I tried to consider that, dodging out of the way of a passing
      student. Probably unnecessary, but the habits of being Rogue the
      Untouchable stuck.

      --Yes and no. He's my best friend. I don't trust anyone like I trust
      him.--

      --He's not the same here.--

      --None of them are. Feel free to suggest. Bobby's enthusiasm for the
      Polaris experiment isn't doing anything for my peace of mind, and
      Johnny...I don't know.--

      "Marie, what are you hungry for?"

      Oh. Hmm, here we were at the breakfast buffet and I hadn't even noticed
      we'd gotten to the dining room. This inner talk stuff was going to have to
      be curtailed in public. I consulted my stomach briefly, then eyed the
      variety of breakfasty foods available. "Fruit, I think." I got a tray
      from the stack on the edge of the buffet table, carefully not looking at
      the humans very inconspicuously carrying empty bowls and trays in and out
      of the kitchen door. It wouldn't help my appetite.

      Picking out a banana and a bowl of strawberries, I grabbed a glass of
      orange juice as an afterthought, and then silverware at the end of the
      sideboard. As before, Bobby led me to a quiet table, and oddly well out of
      range of the main table, where the other X-Men were eating. From the
      corner of my eye, I saw Jean and Scott come in together, but they were too
      far away for me to hear what they were talking about. Quickly, I dropped
      into the closest chair, looking down at my tray, wondering where Logan was.

      "You don't eat much, do you?" I blinked, looking up from my contemplation
      of the banana to see Bobby smiling at me over his truly massive breakfast
      selection. God, that boy could eat. Surreal. He'd commented often on my
      eating habits when we were together. Once said he didn't understand how I
      survived on how little I ate. He didn't know how my body had adjusted to
      little food during my time as a runaway hitchhiker, and I'd never made the
      push to adjust back. Just seemed safer that way.

      "No--have you seen Kitty this morning?" Grabbing my fork, I picked out a
      ripe strawberry, trying to look interested and hopeful--which I was.
      Definitely. Almost killed the girl, after all.

      "Not yet." Bobby thought for a second. "I heard about what happened." He
      practically oozed sympathy. I caught a disgusted expression on St. John's
      face and quickly turned my eyes back down. "If Jean's up here, she should
      be fine, though. Don't worry. It happens to all of us." So warm, so
      sweet, so very, very Bobby. Almost normal, too, and how disturbing was
      that?

      And how very disturbing could it be that someone waking up and attacking a
      roommate could be considered pretty damn normal? I choked down a
      half-chewed chunk of strawberry and stabbed another in half. My stomach
      wasn't too thrilled with the prospect of food, no matter what kind. Damn.
      Absorptions had always taken my appetite away for a few days--I'd never
      quite figured out why.

      --All right, get done there.-- Ah, Logan. Great.

      --And how are you this fine, morning, sugar?--

      --Don't be smart with me. We have things to do. I suggest you start
      lookin' around the school and see what you can find out about Magneto's
      newest experiments.--

      --Bobby can show me around.--

      Logan growled softly and I dropped my fork in surprise. That was
      unexpected.

      --Logan?--

      --Never mind. You're right. Get your new best friend there to show you
      around, see what you can get from him.--

      I nodded--the touch with Kitty had been so quick, most of it was fading
      already. But I had a little bit trailing through my head like a trail of
      slime--sudden, horribly vivid images that I knew would make up my newest
      nightmares, no question. I glanced at Bobby as he devoured a small
      mountain of scrambled eggs and St. John played with his pancakes--they were
      quiet, and for some reason, their silence didn't seem comfortable.

      I thought about that for a few moments.

      --St. John never liked me.--

      --St. John never liked you when you were hangin' all over Bobby. He was
      fine with you otherwise, you know.--

      I sighed, because that was true, and got two pair of vivid blue eyes fixed
      on me for my trouble. I pulled out a smile and pasted it across my face
      before burying myself back in conspicuous strawberry consumption.

      --Yeah. I know.-- Didn't like it, hadn't liked it when Bobby and I were
      dating and St. John had played the part of best friend to perfection, but I
      could always feel it, feel his dislike. And here it was again. Whoo-hoo.
      Again, sameness.

      "Bobby," I said, looking up with my brightest smile. "You mind finishing
      the tour after breakfast?"

      He lit up, pure happiness oozing from every pore, and it was familiar. So
      familiar, wonderful, and I caught my breath a little in surprise--had he
      always looked at me like that?

      --Libido down, girl.-- Carol's amusement was rich through me.

      "Sure. Just give me a second to finish." He attacked the eggs with new
      determination and I grinned as I dropped my fork into my half-finished bowl
      of strawberries, absently tucking the banana into my pocket. I might want
      it later, if my appetite returned.

      "I'll meet you in the garden." I answered, getting to my feet and reaching
      for my tray, ignoring the stab of St. John's eyes. "I'm going to go ask
      Dr. Grey how Kitty is."

      Bobby opened his mouth to say something--umm, why?--but St. John's hand on
      his arm stopped him flat. Johnny had always been like that though--Bobby's
      single decent link to the earth. Left to his own devices, Robert Drake was
      either relatively quiet or an incredibly careless extrovert--a lethal
      combination if there ever was one. St. John, both cynical and circumspect,
      had always been his best foil as well as his best friend.

      Well, except when they froze and melted the pipes in my bathroom for fun,
      at which time they joined my Top Ten List of People To Watch.

      Turning away, I deposited my tray and turned toward the main table. Then
      stopped short, checking--ah, no Logan.

      --Clever, darlin'. Maybe next time you'll *look* before you leap.--

      Ah, sarcasm in the morning. Always good for digestion. Picking up my pace
      and hoping no one noticed my hesitation, I slowly approached the dais and
      realized--

      --wow, was I allowed to go up there? Magneto wasn't in evidence anymore,
      and the faintest traces of Erik that still remained in my head reminded me
      that he had always been an ultra-early morning person. He was probably
      already at work, plotting the destruction of mankind. Were common mutants
      allowed to approach the Big Table? Was I breaking some weird new mutant
      etiquette?

      Screw it.

      "Marie." Jean was smart, I'd give her that. Dropping her napkin and
      turning her attention from Ororo, she motioned me over. Gratefully,
      despite our interesting conversation the night before, I ascended the dais.
      "I thought I'd see you this morning. Sit down."

      I nodded dumbly, tentatively perching on the chair beside her. Jean
      shifted until she faced me, the sharp brown eyes meeting mine. She was
      dressed far more casually today--simple short-sleeved, dark-green blouse
      that complemented the chin-length red hair, plain khaki slacks. The
      slightest edge of power lingered just outside my shields--she wasn't "on"
      so to speak, and I blinked a little. It was somewhat comparable to being
      inches from an electric fence--you could *feel* the buzz, just beyond the
      range of your senses.

      "Is--is Kitty okay?" I asked, forcing my attention from the feel of her.
      Inner Logan and Carol were both silent, stationed in key positions inside
      my shield--if she broke through, she'd be dealing with some seriously
      interesting personalities wandering around and blocking my presence. I
      wondered, a little vaguely, what she'd make of Logan there.

      Jean pursed her lips, head tilting.

      "She's still unconscious, but otherwise uninjured, and I'm not seeing any
      abnormalities in the tests I ran."

      --Shit. Could they pick up my little sucking thing in a test on Kitty?--

      --Well, Jeannie couldn't back at the lab, so probably not, darlin'. Just
      don't look so jumpy.--

      I wanted to growl back, but refrained, keeping the expression of concern on
      my face, mostly because it was real. God, I hoped I hadn't hurt her too
      much.

      "Can I--stop by and see her?"

      Jean began to nod, then suddenly frowned in thought.

      "Of course, after lunch--she should be awake by then. Reminds me--I need
      to reschedule your appointment."

      I was pretty sure God had just intervened directly on my behalf.

      "Oh?" I nodded, trying not to look too eager, but Jean was frowning still,
      and the tell-tale shifting of her body in the seat--she didn't like it,
      whatever she had to do, and it was bothering her. This could mean a
      short-tempered Jean, never a fun thing. God, a short tempered telepath of
      any flavor couldn't be a good thing any way you looked at it.

      "Some--tests to run." Interesting--she didn't have to tell me that. "In
      any case--"

      I didn't hear the rest of the sentence, as my gaze over Jean's shoulder
      showed me Logan, rapidly approaching the table. I stood up so suddenly the
      other woman started.

      "I--I'm sorry." I tried to think of a reason, but my mind was blank.
      Seven words. Logan. Coming. This. Way. Get. Out. NOW. "Excuse me,
      Dr. Grey. I--feel a little ill." Truth was, I did. My stomach was
      interested in rejecting the strawberries. I tried to negotiate with it as
      I took a step back.

      "Marie?" On her feet as well, and Logan was closing in--oh thank God, a
      student stopped him for something. They were paused, talking, but I
      couldn't count on that for long. "You look pale. Are you--" One hand
      reached out dangerously close to my face and I backed off another stumbling
      step, almost tangling my feet in the chair I'd just left.

      "Just--not used to eating this early." I spit the words out, still backing
      up--shit, how obvious did I need to be? Ororo's attention was on me now
      and I wondered how close I was to the edge of the dais and what my chances
      were of falling over. Farther down, Scott had looked up from breakfast and
      the red glasses were turning their full attention on me. Great, I had all
      kinds of attention now. Just exactly what I needed. "Thanks, Dr.
      Gre--Jean. I'll be by after lunch."

      --Just put up a sign.-- Carol advised acidly. --An "I am uncomfortable and
      stay BACK" posterboard. Calm down. Look nauseated. Good girl.--

      Nauseated I could do--Logan was moving back toward the table and the clear
      hazel eyes fixed on me briefly.

      For a second, there was no one else in the room. Logan took *everything*,
      always had to me, whether I wanted him to or not. Taking my sight, my
      hearing, soaking the scents around me until there was nothing left *but*
      him. A sharp breath and I broke the lock and turned away, getting down off
      the dais without undue difficulty and feeling the curious gazes of the
      diners who had witnessed my frankly weird behavior and were wondering at
      it. Way to be inconspicuous there, Rogue. Good for you.

      --Cool down, Rogue. It's been years. He can't remember your face that
      perfectly.--

      An inner sigh from Logan made my stomach drop and I scurried from the
      dining room and leaned back against the doorway just outside, drawing in a
      deep breath.

      No need for this. Being silly, definitely. Definitely.

      Taking a chance, I ducked my head back in the room briefly, watching Logan
      sit down beside Jean, before his head jerked around in startlement.
      Catching the scent on the chair, where my hand had touched the table, all
      around him. Jean frowned, leaning over on one elbow to ask him something,
      then both sets of eyes went to the door I'd just exited.

      I ducked back into the hallway and flattened myself against the wall, torn
      between outright paranoia and the knowledge that there was no way on earth
      that anyone could seriously think that Rogue had returned from the Great
      Beyond.

      --My scent, my face, it's been seven years. He's forgotten by now.--

      Logan was quiet inside for a moment.

      --No, darlin'. He'd never forget.--

      *****


      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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      *****

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