Rites of Passage [1/1], X2
- TITLE: Rites of Passage
AUTHOR: Em Meredith (emily@...)
SUMMARY: Rogue and Bobby get their uniforms. A missing
scene from X2.
DISTRIBUTION: WRFA. My site:
DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to Bryan Singer, Marvel,
Fox, and not me. I'm just borrowing them because it bothered me
that we didn't see this onscreen.
Rites of Passage
By Em Meredith
When Marie was ten, she went with her Momma and Daddy to her
cousin's high school graduation. She watched, fascinated, as Leila
walked across the stage to get her diploma, her tassel swinging
back and forth. At the family party afterward, Marie sat next to
Leila on the swing in the back yard, swatting at mosquitoes and
memorizing everything the older girl said. Leila explained how
many bobby pins she'd gone through trying to get her hair to look
right for the ceremony and she complained about how hot the blue
polyester was in the early summer heat. She told Marie that she'd
been about to die while the valedictorian droned on about moving
forward and embracing the future. Leila laughed when Marie asked
to try on the mortarboard. "Careful," she'd said, "It will give you
hat hair like you wouldn't believe."
Marie took it inside and stood in the foyer of her aunt's house,
gazing into the large round mirror. She placed the mortarboard
carefully on her head, trying unsuccessfully to find a position
where the cap looked like it fit correctly. She stood there, moving
the tassel from one side to the other, thinking about all the power
in the little piece of string. One moment her cousin had been a kid-
- a high school student-- and then she'd moved the tassel to the
other side and she was a graduate. She was an adult and no one
could tell her what to do. She had freedom.
Marie's momma's voice carried into the house, calling her to come
get a burger, and Marie ran down the hall and back outside. When
she handed the mortarboard back to Leila, Marie decided that
when *she* graduated, she'd never complain about the polyester or
the hat hair.
Of course, for Rogue there was no graduation ceremony with
polyester robes and relatives crammed into bleachers. The
Professor wanted them all to have normal lives -- or as close to
normal as possible when you couldn't be touched or you set things
on fire -- but their graduation had been a bit more low-key than
what she remembered from Leila's. No hollering and cheering
while they walked across the stage and certainly no smoky
barbecue afterward with cousins playing freeze tag on the front
Instead, the entire school gathered together, and Scott handed out
diplomas to the eldest students. Marie wore not a blue polyester
gown, but a simple black dress. And gloves. Always gloves.
She'd stifled a laugh as she and Jubilee exchanged an eye roll when
the professor made his speech. It wasn't as if he needed a special
occasion to speak at length on the Role of Mutants in Society. But
she smiled warmly when he congratulated her and carefully shook
her hand. Marie giggled with Jubilee and John at the party
afterward when Bobby froze the punch and she promised Jean
they'd help chaperone the next day's field trip to the museum,
ignoring John and Bobby's desperate attempts to get her to say no.
Jean laughed and told them that waving their arms frantically
behind her back would be more effective if she weren't a telepath.
But later that evening Rogue took off her gloves and sat in front of
the mirror, looking for something different. She wondered if she'd
feel any different if she'd had the mortarboard and tassel. She
didn't really know what being an adult is supposed to feel like,
but she suspected this wasn't it. But then, she sure didn't
herself a kid anymore-- she hadn't in years. She wondered when
things would change.
The flight back from Alkali Lake was eerily silent, the steady
murmur of Kurt's prayers the only sound. For once the younger
kids didn't utter a word-- not even Jubilee, which might have been
amusing under any other circumstance.
They all seemed to be trying to look anywhere but at Scott, as if by
ignoring his grief they could pretend that he was still just a
teacher and a leader. They didn't want to see him human and weak, but
Rogue stole a glance anyway. He was cradling his head in his
hands and the defeated slump of his shoulders made her ache for
Logan had taken the seat next to Storm and occasionally Rogue
heard them speaking softly, voices pitched too low to carry to the
back of the plane. The professor looked as if he were too wrapped
up in his own thoughts to be paying attention, but then Rogue
heard him tell Logan that it was time-- whatever that meant.
When the Blackbird landed, Scott was the first one off. He
carefully carried the professor down the ramp while the others
followed at a distance. Rogue was relieved to see some of the
purpose return to Scott's stride and she thought that he must want
something to do that would take his mind off Jean, if only for a
They stood in the hangar, waiting for someone to take charge.
Storm and Logan exchanged a long glance, but before Rogue could
figure out its meaning, Storm announced that it was time to start
cleaning up and to find Kurt a room. With that, she turned and
walked out of the hanger, Kurt and the children trailing dutifully
after her. Bobby grabbed Rogue's gloved fingers and they started
to follow along, stopping when Logan touched Rogue's shoulder.
"You two," he growled. "Come with me."
Rogue glanced at Bobby, who gazed wistfully after Storm's group.
Logan stalked out of the hanger and down the hall, not sparing
them a glance as they scurried to catch up.
Logan turned the corner and headed down yet another gleaming
corridor. The recessed lighting gave the shiny metal walls and
eerie look, and hell if they didn't all look the same. Rogue
wondered if Logan's sense of direction was as finely honed as his
other senses. If Logan wasn't going to explain where they were
going or how to get back, maybe she'd need to leave a trail of
bread crumbs, since her experience with the lower levels was
limited to waiting in the med bay while Logan was comatose.
Bobby tugged on her sleeve, his eyebrows raised in question.
Rogue just shrugged and hurried along, trying to keep up with
Logan. He may have taken up residence in her head, but that didn't
mean she had any idea what he was planning.
Logan veered to the left and into the large room at the end of the
hallway. It had the stark look the rest of the lower levels, but the
walls were lined with closet doors and display cases. Logan
crossed to the closets and Rogue saw his jaw clench as he passed
the glass case where Jean's uniform was usually displayed. The
empty glass served as a sharp reminder that putting on the leather
wasn't an opportunity to dress-up and play superhero -- it was real.
Logan jerked the closet door open with a force that would have
pulled any normal door off its hinges. Rogue figured that the
professor had reinforced the doors to withstand any number of
powerful mutations. Logan ignored the pile of sweatpants and t-
shirts, reaching for the top shelf and the stack of three neatly
folded black leather uniforms. He took the top two down, handing
one to Rogue and the other to Bobby.
"Get suited up," he ordered, ignoring their bewildered expressions.
"We leave for the White House in half an hour." With that he
slammed the closet door shut and disappeared down the hall.
Rogue looked over at Bobby and almost laughed at how wide his
"So, what does this mean?" he asked. "Are we X-Men now?"
"Well, I doubt they're bringing us along on this mission so that
I can fly the plane again. I guess we're X-Men," she said,
wondering if her voice sounded as uncertain as she felt. "Or maybe
this is a one-time thing."
"You don't know?"
"Bobby, why would I know? You were standing right here too. We
both got the same uninformative initiation speech from Logan."
"Yeah, but..." Bobby paused, choosing his words carefully.
"You've got him in there--" he gestured vaguely toward her head.
"Can't he tell you what's going on?"
Rogue rolled her eyes and wondered if Bobby thought that
absorbing someone's personality meant that she had a permanent
telepathic link with them. "It's not like that. I can't see
what's in his head *now.*"
"Why don't you ask him?"
"Yeah." He nodded. "Logan barely knows me. Plus I've seen what
he can do when he's pissed off, and I don't really want to
take any chances. He's not going to gut *you,* Rogue." As soon as
words left his mouth, she could tell he'd remembered the night
Logan had stabbed her. His mouth opened soundlessly, and she
knew he was going to fumble around, trying to apologize. She'd
rather face Logan on a rampage than have a conversation with
Bobby about her first night at the Mansion, so she cut him off
before he could start down that path.
"Maybe not. I'll go see." And with that she turned and headed out
the way Logan had gone, hoping that she could find the elevator
and get out of the lower levels. She took several wrong turns and
kept having to double back, cursing Logan for leaving them alone
in the maze of passages.
Rogue tracked him down to a bench in the garden, smoking a cigar
and staring at a large oak tree in the distance. He didn't even
look her way when she sat down next to him. She set the heavy uniform
next to her on the bench and followed his gaze to the tree, trying to
figure out what made it so fascinating for him.
"You'd better get suited up," he said, blowing a smoke ring into
the air. "You'll want a chance to get used to the leather before
you try the stairs."
She studied his face, searching for some clue about what he was
thinking. She saw none of the grief or anguish she'd expected,
but his attempt at his usual impassive expression was marred by the
set of his jaw and his haunted eyes.
"Logan, I'm sorry about Jean."
"Not your fault. Now go get ready."
Rogue figured she should leave the subject of Jean alone. She'd
talk to him about it later when he was a little less raw.
"What's with the uniforms?" she asked instead.
The ghost of a grin crossed his face. "I think you're supposed to
be grateful they're not yellow spandex."
"No," she sighed, trying not to laugh at his joke. Was he being
difficult on purpose, or was he just being Logan? Sometimes it was
hard to tell. "You said we had to wait a couple years."
He sighed, letting the cigar smoke cloud the air around him. "The
professor talked to me about it when I got back. He wanted my
opinion before he gave them to you and the other two kids."
"And you told him no?" she demanded, arching an eyebrow.
"I told him I didn't think you were ready."
Rogue stiffened, feeling all the indignation of an eighteen-year-old
being told to sit at the kids' table. "I've been training, Logan.
We all have. Scott runs us through--"
"Not that," he said. "God knows what's in your head thanks to me
and Magneto. But you didn't choose those battles and you're still
so young, Marie. You shouldn't have to be a superhero until
"But I am ready."
"I know. You proved that today."
She felt the heat rising in her cheeks, inordinately pleased at the
compliment. "So this is permanent? It's not just for today or
until we regroup?"
He turned sharply, looking directly at her for the first time since
she sat down. He studied her face carefully, and she was sure he
was looking for signs of uncertainty, so she tried hard to convey an
air of confidence that she wasn't sure she felt yet. "It's for
good. But if you've changed your mind, I can go tell the
"No!" she exclaimed and she noticed his lips twitch at her
vehemence. "I'm ready. I can do this. I *want* to do this."
He nodded shortly and got to his feet, dropping his cigar on the
ground and grinding it out with his boot. He reached out for
Rogue's gloved hand and pulled her to her feet, gently shoving
her toward the mansion. "Good. Then go get ready or you're going
get left behind on your first mission."
Rogue picked up her uniform from the bench and headed back into
the mansion. Her room was quiet without Jubilee and Kitty, who
were down the hall with Storm, but she was grateful that she'd
have the bathroom to herself for once.
She shut the bathroom door carefully and began peeling off her
jacket and Bobby's mother's clothes. She splashed some water on
her face, wishing she had time to take a shower. After smoothing
her hair back into its ponytail, she started on the uniform, pulling
the leather pants on and up over her legs. She eased the jacket over
her arms, fighting the stiffness of the leather as she zipped up the
bodice. Last of all she slid on the gloves, buttoning them at her
Rogue crossed her room, noting that Logan wasn't kidding about
needing to break in the leather. She stood in front of the full-
length mirror, taking in the sight of her new uniform. It fit her
like a second skin, but she wasn't embarrassed to be on display
she imagined she might be. Because it wasn't the curves of a woman
that captured Rogue's attention, it was the body of a fighter.
Leather molded to muscles she'd earned sparring in the Danger
Room. A shock of white hair her proudly worn battle scar. Pale,
smooth, deadly white skin. She looked down at her gloved hands,
flexing them to soften up the leather.
Just then the door swung open and Rogue jumped back, narrowly
avoiding being run over by Jubilee. Jubilee took one look at
Rogue's uniform and she skidded to a stop, her eyes opening wide
"Wow," she said, her voice awed. "An X-Man, hunh?"
"Yeah," Rogue blushed.
"Wow," Jubilee repeated. "Happy graduation, chica!"
"Yeah." Images from Leila's graduation flashed through her mind--
blue polyester robes and caps and tassels. Rogue looked down at
the sleek black leather and grinned. "Thanks."
Maybe this was better than being normal after all.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Feedback happily received at emily@....
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Many thanks to kate and Philateley (even
though I didn't use your suggestion for the ending *g*). Thanks
as always to Macha for the editing and putting up with the whining.