FIC: Seasons of Growth Chapter 7
- Title: Seasons of Growth
Chapter 7: Shelter
Author: November Tuesday
Summary: Profound evil coexists with profound compassion.
Continuity: Series begins 3 years after X1.
Disclaimer: Marvel, Fox, Brian Singer yadda yadda yadda
Archive: Sure, and if it's someplace other than list archives, please
let me know.
Feedback: is my lifeblood. Please please please!
Author's Notes: Thanks to N. E. Star for beta.
"Oh, the storm is threatening
My very life today,
If I don't get some shelter,
Oh yeah, i'm gonna fade away..."
She was only a toddler, just a bit older than a baby. Rogue squatted
down so she was at the girl's eye level.
"Hi sweetie. My name is Marie. I won't hurt you. Where's your momma
The girl, whose hair was a striking shade of periwinkle, sobbed "I
"Ok, it's gonna be okay. How long have you been here?"
"Since yesterday." Her voice was so tiny.
Rogue was incredulous. "Right here? All this time?"
"They told me not to move or the monsters would get me."
Rogue swallowed. "Someone brought you here?"
The girl nodded. She had stopped sobbing. Tears still shone on her
"Yeah? You remember who?"
"Momma and Daddy."
"Your momma and daddy left you here?"
"Yeah. They don`t want me no more."
"Have you had anything to eat or drink?"
"It looks like someone hurt you. Can you tell me who hurt you?"
"Momma and daddy."
"Aw, I'm so sorry they did that." Marie slowly reached a hand to
touch a strand of blue hair. The child's forehead was hot. "What's
"Maggie, did you ever ride in an airplane?"
"No," she whispered.
"Okay, I'm gonna take care of you, but you have to come with me. And
you get to ride in my airplane."
"Okay." Rogue reached for her hand and helped her stand up. She
realized that the child had been sitting in broken glass and
Rogue had the sense that her life up until now had been benign and
safe, a simulation of real life, and that this was the first real
thing to happen to her. Even nearly killing Cody and the torch
incident did not feel as real as this moment. She felt alive and
galvanized, heart pounding.
She lifted her up and was shocked at how light she was. "How old are
Maggie held up three fingers.
"Wow, what a big girl you are." Kitty had already gone back to tell
the others. Rogue ran back toward the blackbird "This is my friend
Stormy. She won't hurt you. She's really nice."
~Hank, three year-old female, mutant coloring, abandoned overnight,
bruising to head, feverish, appears dehydrated, oriented and alert.~
Hank met them at the bottom of the steps. "That's Hank, he's gonna
help take care of you, ok?"
"He's blue like me." A small smile was on Maggie's lips.
"Yes, he is." It was the first time Rogue had seen a child not run in
terror at seeing Hank for the first time.
Hank leaned over and took a deep sniff of the little girl, then took
her from Rogue's arms. She gave him a look. ~What the hell was that?~
~Checking for Mystique. Fool me once and all.~
Scott was on the phone with Xavier. "Yes, it's a little girl. She was
abandoned. Uh uh. Should we notify the authorities? Well-"
Rogue strode to the cockpit. "Let me talk to him."
"Hold on, Rogue wants to talk to you."
"We need to save this girl, she was abandoned."
"Rogue, I don't doubt that, I was merely-"
"She either comes with us or I stay here."
"Very well. Please put Scott back on."
Rogue wordlessly handed Scott the phone and walked out of the
They had finally managed to stabilize the weak man. He was on a bunk
with an IV in his arm, eyes closed in his gaunt face. The other four
were lying quietly, watching their surroundings in confusion or
Jean buckled Maggie in next to Rogue who kept talking to her in a
soothing voice. Jean ran her hands over her to check for broken
bones. Hank shone a light in her eyes. She let them do everything
with quiet resignation. Her eyes kept darting to Rogue, who held her
hand the whole time. Hank got her some juice which she sucked
hungrily through a straw. It was time for takeoff.
After they were in the air, Rogue picked her up and held her, still
whispering. "You're gonna be ok, we're gonna take care of you, I
promise. Maggie's eyes were heavy and she slept. It was, however, a
very short flight. Rogue held her for as long as she could and put
her back into her chair and fastened her seatbelt.
They walked down the long hallway as they always did after a mission.
This time they were wheeling along five gurneys. Rogue carried
Maggie, her hand splayed protectively on the girl's back. Even in
sleep Maggie clung to her. A painful sweetness flowed through Rogue's
Xavier met them at the end of the hall. "Good work, everyone." His
gaze lit on Rogue. He watched her with the girl for a few long
seconds. "Debriefing in twenty minutes."
Jean, Rogue, Hank, Darla and Kitty got the patients situated in the
medbay. They answered their questions and told them that Xavier would
be down momentarily to speak with them. Rogue set Maggie down on a
gurney and watched over her as she spoke to patients, got them juice,
got extra blankets.
Twenty minutes passed and Rogue reluctantly left the girl in Darla's
care. Both teams sat around the conference table. Rogue squeezed in
next to Hank.
Xavier came in last and shut the door.
"Scott tells me everyone's work tonight was excellent. I have a
bottle of Dom Perignon in my office that I've reserved for teamwork
like this but considering tonight's rather gruesome findings it
doesn`t seem appropriate."
The team was somber, and agreed silently. "Scott, do you have
anything to add?"
"Well, this was the first time we've used our telepathic comm hub and
I think Jean did a great job."
"It was much easier than using a manual device." Storm said quietly.
"I have a headache," Jean said. Everyone laughed weakly.
"And she did all of that while shaking her booty," Jubilee
said. "That's what I call grrrl power." Everyone laughed again.
"Pyro, run those prints and IDs through our database." Scott said.
"Already started on it."
"Did the bodies have any ID?"
"No, tomorrow we'll question the casualties."
"Good work. Everyone, the teamwork tonight was excellent, you were
efficient and communicative and according to my watch we were in and
out of there in under a half hour. That's the kind of speed that will
hopefully help us avoid combat situations."
"Go get some sleep." Xavier said. "Rogue and Cyclops, could you
Rogue's pulse quickened. However, neither Xavier or Scott seemed to
be mad at her.
"Rogue, what did you learn about the girl?"
"She said that she was there since yesterday, that she stayed between
two dumpsters, that her parents had beat her and left her there and
told her that if she went anywhere else monsters would get her."
"Good god." Xavier said.
"Did she say anything else?"
"She fell asleep and I wasn't about to wake her." Rogue was bristling
like a mother bear.
"We'll let her sleep tonight, and tomorrow we'll investigate the
"Do you think - if her story pans out that we should report it to
child services?" Rogue asked.
Xavier pressed his fingertips together under his chin. "Ordinarily,
yes, but I don't have much faith in their ability to protect mutant
children. Their orphanages aren`t much more than juvenile detention
Scott bristled at the mention of orphanages. "So we'll keep her here,
"I'll stay with her." Rogue said. "She should get a room. I've woke
up in the medlab before and it's not a good thing."
"Good idea. Take one of the guest rooms on four; there are keys.
Thank you for staying with her Rogue. Let's meet back here at nine
a.m. and we'll talk to her and go from there."
Rogue returned directly to the medbay. Maggie was sleeping. She
looked tiny on a gurney, surrounded by white linens. Rogue moved
quickly to her bedside, but was stopped by one of the women they had
rescued. The woman grabbed her hand and squeezed it. "Miss? Thank you
so much for getting us out of there."
During triage Rogue had guessed the woman's age to be late sixties,
but with some fluids in her and after she was cleaned up Rogue
realized that it was closer to late fifties. Her skin was dark and
slightly wrinkled, and her eyes were shining with tears.
"Oh, you're so welcome. How you holdin' up?" Rogue pulled up a chair
and continued to hold the woman's hand, sitting so she could watch
the little girl sleep.
"I'm lucky to be alive. They whipped me."
"I'm so sorry that happened to you."
"Are you a mutant girl, darlin'?"
Rogue felt tears rise to her eyes again. She hadn't heard anyone say
that word since Logan.
"And you're from the South like me, I can tell." The woman's dulcet
voice made Rogue blink back tears.
"Meridian, Mississippi. Is that where they took you from, down
"No, I'm from Valdosta Georgia, but I was up in Philly, visiting my
daughter." The woman's tears spilled over. Rogue squeezed her hand
and reached for a tissue. She handed one to the woman, and dabbed her
own eyes with another.
"That's why they took me. I'm not a mutant but my daughter and
grandbaby are. They took them and took me too when I tried to protect
Suddenly she knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that two of the bodies
she'd pulled out of there were this woman's daughter and
granddaughter. She could still smell their bodies. She closed her
eyes and breathed and focused on not vomiting.
Rogue took a deep breath. "I'm so sorry. I want you to know that
those people are never gonna do that to anyone ever again."
"Praise the lord." She was sobbing openly now. "I know they're dead.
I saw them take them away."
"We brought them with us. They're here. You can give them a proper
"Thank you." The woman was crying hard. Rogue just held her. She
smelled of sweat and blood and fear. Rogue didn't see the point in
holding back her own tears. There was no reason to be "strong" for
this woman. She had seen it all.
After a few minutes, they both calmed down.
"What's your name, child?"
"Here they call me Rogue. You can call me Marie."
"Marie, such a pretty name. I'm Esther. Esther Bankston."
"Hi Esther." Despite her best efforts more tears slipped from her
eyes. "I`m sorry, you remind me of my momma."
"Aww, honey. We'll get by." Despite all her own pain, she rubbed
Marie's back in slow circles.
Marie was struck dumb at that moment that the compassion of some
could exist next to the cruelty of others.
"I'm sorry, I'm just leaky. Can I get you anything, Esther?"
"Water'd be good."
"Sure." Marie brought her water from the cooler, ice cold. She downed
"What is this place, honey?"
"It's a school. The guy who runs it should be down here any minute to
talk to y'all. It's a school for mutants, to learn to control their
powers. And we protect mutants wherever we can."
"You're those X-men, aren't you, from the teevee?"
Marie smiled. "Yeah."
"I think it's great what y'all are doing. My baby girl never had a
chance, but someday..."
"Yeah. I hope."
"I don't know what I'm gonna do now. Those girls was my whole life."
"And in Valdosta?"
"They were the only family I had. Only reason I stayed in Valdosta
was because my husband and I, rest his soul, had our house there."
"I'm sorry. You've had your share of losses, huh?"
"Oh, Cole died nearly twelve years ago. It was his time."
Marie nodded. She was watching Maggie sleep.
"Is that your little girl over there?"
"No. Have you seen her before?"
"No, I think I'd remember that pretty blue hair."
Marie was about to tell how they found Maggie, but she thought they'd
shared enough sadness for one night.
Xavier came into the medbay. "Rogue," he nodded.
"Professor X, this is Esther."
"Hello Esther, how are you feeling?"
"Hangin' in there. This nice girl is helpin' me through."
"Did she tell you where you're at?"
"That's correct. Do you have anyone you'd like me to call?"
"No, the only family I had was my girls, and they killed them."
"We found her daughter and granddaughter at the scene," Rogue said as
gently as she could.
"I'm so sorry for your loss, Esther. We can help you with burial
arrangements if you wish."
"Thank you sir."
"Please, call me Charles."
"You're welcome to stay here for as long as you wish. Or, if you want
a ride home, we can do that too."
"You're very kind. Thank you."
Rogue stayed in the medbay all night, sitting with casualties,
watching over Maggie, helping Hank. Esther finally fell asleep and
snored softly. At around five the man who was sickest start siezing
again. Rogue and Hank quickly pulled down the rails on the gurney and
held him on his side as best they could. Jean came back down and
frowned. "His lytes are stable. He shouldn't be siezing."
"Maybe he's epileptic," Rogue said.
"Yeah. Let's give him some Tegretol."
"I'm not sure if we have that," Jean said quietly.
"That I know we have."
When the man stopped convulsing Rogue went to Maggie's side. The
little girl's pale skin and blue hair were striking against the white
pillow. She looked peaceful, ethereal. Rogue gently pushed the hair
back from her face.
"Pretty little girl," Hank said.
"She likes you."
"It's quite anomalous for a child to not find me frightening."
"I guess you guys don't clash." The corners of her mouth twisted.
"I suppose not."
"Is she stable for me to take upstairs?"
"Yes. She has some bruising and soft tissue tenderness but no
fractures. I can take her IV out and you can take her."
"That would be good."
The little girl woke up as Hank was removing her IV. Her eyes
fluttered open prettily, revealing eyes as blue as her hair.
"Hi, sweetie," Rogue said.
"He's taking your IV out, you're all better."
"I'm gonna give her some children's Tylenol for the soreness."
"Where am I?"
"I brought you to a school. You're safe here."
"Am I gonna hafta go back to my mommy and daddy?"
"Absolutely not. We're gonna take care of you for a while. You're
safe here. No one's gonna hurt you. I'm gonna stay with you."
"I'm gonna take you upstairs to a real bed where you can be a little
Maggie reached out and touched Marie's hair. "Pretty skunk."
Marie laughed. "Yeah, I guess so."
"Am I gonna hafta go to school?"
"No, not if you don't want. This is a school but people live here
"Why's that man all furry?"
"Because he's a mutant. His name is Hank."
"My mommandaddy said I'm a mutie."
"Well there's nothing wrong with bein' a mutant."
"Are you gonna make me go away because of it?"
Rogue laughed, when she really wanted to cry. "No, sweetie, everyone
here is a mutant."
"Even me. See that lady with the red hair? She can move things
without touching them. That man in the wheelchair can read minds.
Hank can climb walls. Everyone here is special."
Hank returned with a med cup. "Okay, honey, Hank's gonna give you
some medicine to help your booboos. Down the hatch. Here's some
Maggie swallowed dutifully. "Thank you," she said politely.
"You're very welcome, Maggie," Hank said.
"Okay, kiddo. Let's get you into a real bed. I know these aren't
really comfy." Rogue picked the little girl up. She clung to her
tightly. Rogue felt a sweet tenderness. The feeling of being needed
brought tears to her eyes again. She thought of the little girl
they'd pulled out of there. No one would hold her again.
"Thanks, Hank," Rogue said quietly.
"You're welcome. Goodnight, Maggie."
"Night," the girl said.
Upstairs, Marie gave Maggie one of her tee shirts. "Here, honey, put
this on. We'll buy you some real nightgowns tomorrow."
Maggie lifted her arms and allowed Rogue to dress her.
"Are you gonna leave me here all alone?"
"No, sweetie. You're gonna sleep here, and I'm gonna sleep in that
bed. You want me to leave the bathroom light on so you're not
"Okay." Rogue tucked the covers around her and kissed her
forehead. "I'll be here when you wake up, allright?"
"Okay." Rogue left the bathroom door ajar, and climbed into bed
Nine a.m. came quickly. Rogue dressed Maggie and took her to see
Xavier. Scott was already there, sipping his morning coffee. Rogue
sat and pulled Maggie onto her lap. The girl cuddled there, seeking
comfort, and Rogue felt that sweetness again.
"Good morning, Maggie." Xavier said. "My name is Charles."
"Hi." she said shyly.
"Did you sleep well?"
"Good. Has Rogue been nice to you?"
"That's good. Maggie, I want you to know you're safe here."
Maggie was looking at Scott's sunglasses. "Who's that?"
"That's my friend Scott."
"Why doesn't he have eyes?"
Scott smiled and laughed. "Hi Maggie. I have eyes, I just have to
wear these glasses over them."
"Oh. They're pretty red." They all laughed.
"Maggie, can you tell me how Rogue found you last night?" Xavier
Maggie looked up at Rogue.
"It's okay, sugar, tell him what you remember."
"I was sitting in between two of those green things."
"Dumpsters," Marie added.
"I bet that was very cold and uncomfortable," Xavier said.
"My momma and daddy said I was a mutie and they didn't want me no
more. He said Shiela we have to get rid of it. She said she wanted to
take me down to the lake. They fought over it. They told me to stay
there or the monsters would get me."
Xavier was silent for a minute. Rogue had never seen him so floored
"Maggie, do you know what it means to be a mutant?"
"I have blue hair."
"Yes, and it's very pretty. You must know that there's nothing wrong
with being the way you are. Miss Rogue tells me that you are a very
Rogue smiled softly.
"They said I was bad."
"Why are you bad, Maggie?" Xavier said.
"Because my hair turned blue."
"Were you a bad girl before that?"
"Well that's kind of silly, don't you think?" Xavier was smiling.
Maggie smiled too. "Yes." Rogue marveled at how good he was with her.
"I think so too."
"Maggie, do you remember where your mother and father live?" Scott
"Fourteen East Park Avenue Apartment B12 Baltimore Maryland two o two
one two." She parroted.
"Wow. What a smart girl you are."
"What's your last name, Maggie?"
"Magdalene Leigh Detwiler."
"And your momma's name is Shiela?"
Maggie started crying. "Hey, what's wrong?" Marie held her
close. "What're you thinking, baby?"
"Please don't make me go back."
"No, sweetie, we'll never ever do that, okay?"
"When is your birthday, Maggie?"
"Do you have any aunts or uncles, or grammas and grampas?"
"Where does your gramma live?"
"Do you know where in Florida?"
"On the beach." Rogue and Scott looked at each other.
"Do you know your gramma's name?"
"Does Barbara have a last name?"
"Okay. How about any aunts or uncles or cousins?"
"Momma says my aunt Ellen is a whore."
"She did? Wow. Is that true?" Xavier's eyes twinkled with amusement.
"I dunno. She died."
"Yeah? Do you have any brothers or sisters?"
Thank god, they all thought.
"Maggie, would you like to stay here for a while?"
"Okay. I'm gonna call my friend Storm and have her take you outside
to play for a little while, okay?"
"I wanna stay with Miss Rogue."
"It's okay, sweetie, I need to talk to the professor and Scott a
minute. You go outside and play with Stormy and I'll come out and
find you, okay?"
"And then I'm gonna take you shopping!"
"For some clothes and a night light and maybe a few toys." Rogue
smiled, eyes twinkling.
Maggie grinned. "Yay!"
"Storm's on her way," Xavier said.
"Why'd you call her Storm?"
"Because she can make it rain."
"What can you do?" She asked Rogue.
"Well, nothing much. But the professor will maybe show you what he
Xavier grinned. A crystal candy dish floated from his desk to Maggie.
The lid came off. Maggie squealed in delight.
"Would you like a piece of candy?"
"Take one for later, too."
Maggie picked a red one and an orange one and the lid was replaced.
It floated gently back to its place on Xavier's desk.
"Say thank you," Rogue said.
Maggie looked at Scott, curious, the trauma of her ordeal momentarily
forgotten. "What can you do?"
"I'll show you sometime outside of the house."
"His power is more of an outdoor thing." Marie explained.
Storm walked in. "Hi, Maggie. Wanna go see my flower garden?"
Maggie looked to Rogue. She squeezed her and said "It's okay, I'll be
out to find you in a while."
"Okay." Maggie dutifully climbed from Marie's lap and went to Storm.
She sweetly held her hand up for Storm to take.
The door shut. Rogue, Cyclops, and the professor looked at each
"Wow," Scott said.
The door opened. Eloise came in. She had been Xavier's assistant for
years. She had yellow skin, black hair, and a photographic memory.
She could type 100 words a minute and was fluent in seven languages.
She made the best baklava any of them had ever tasted.
"Yes, Eloise. Could you please find out everything you can about a
Shiela Detwiler, fourteen East Park Avenue, Baltimore. Try to find
her birth records and parents' names, and the birth record of a
Magdalene Leigh Detwiler."
Eloise jotted the info down. "What year?"
"Two thousand," Rogue said.
"Okay. You want credit and criminal too?"
"Please. On the father if you can, and also on Shiela's mother
Barbara. She lives somewhere in Florida."
"Okay. Anything else?"
"Have Dean Tierney give me a call. I believe that's it."
"Okay. How soon do you need this?"
"ASAP, but Pyro's database searches take precedence."
"Okay. I'll get on it."
"Thank you, Eloise."
"No problem." Eloise left as quietly as she had come.
"Can we take out this Detwiler bitch?" Scott said. Rogue was shocked.
She had never heard him be so vengeful.
"Scott, I hardly think that would be prudent right now. We need to
gather information for now, verify that Maggie didn't run away."
"Who's Dean Tierney?" Rogue asked.
"He's an attorney friend of mine. He specializes in family court
matters. He can give us some advice on this issue once we find the
information we need about Maggie's family."
"We can't let her become a ward of the State," Scott said
"That is not my intention, Scott. You of all people should know that.
I'm merely saying that we should get some advice before proceeding.
In the meanwhile, we'll take her in. We'll need someone to take care
"I'll do it." It was a tone they rarely heard from Rogue. A command,
not an offer.
"Rogue, are you sure? You've got college in a few months-" Scott
"I said I'm gonna do it." Rogue had not spoken that way since Logan
was strong in her mind.
"You're so good with her Rogue. I think that's an excellent idea. You
let me know if you need any help." Xavier reached into his desk for a
credit card, handed it to Rogue. "Go shopping."
"Are you sure? Thanks."
"You shouldn't have to spend your own money. Go out and get her
everything she needs. I`m afraid we don`t have anything here for a
child that young." Their youngest student was twelve.
"Thanks. I'm gonna move into that room with her if that's ok. No need
to inflict Jubie and Kitty on the poor kid."
Xavier smiled. "Excellent idea."
"I'll coordinate for a sitter whenever I have class or a mission.
Come fall there won't be any shortage of teenagers to baby-sit."
"True. If you change your mind, Rogue, let me know and I'll find
someone to take over. It's a lot of responsibility and I don't want
you to defer your studies."
"Charles, did you read her mind at all?" Scott asked.
"Just a little bit. It was hard to get past all of her current
emotions. Perhaps when she is a little more stable in that regard I
or Jean can try again."
"What kind of person names their child Magdalene?" Scott said
"I kinda like it," Rogue said. "I think the more important question
is who leaves their child between two dumpsters to rot." Her jaw was
clenched and her eyes narrowed.
"The cruelty people are capable of never ceases to amaze me."
"We've just got to remember that people are just as capable of
extreme compassion," Rogue said, thinking back to her conversation
"That's very wise, Rogue. It's a good thing to remember when times
Storm and Maggie were in the rose garden. A low gray cloud hovered
between them and the sun, and snowflakes fell softly down on the June
day. Maggie was twirling happily under the snow. Storm's eyes slowly
turned blue and the cloud melted away.
"Cool trick," Rogue said. Maggie stopped her twirling and ran to
Rogue. "Hi, sugar. You ready to go shopping?"
Rogue took her to the dining hall for breakfast. Maggie ate pancakes
and bacon while staring warily around the room. The bruises on her
pretty skin were angry and yellow. Rogue sipped her coffee and
answered all of Maggie's questions about who could do what.
They went to Target and spent an obscene amount of Xavier's money.
Rogue bought her dresses and shoes and underwear and baby shampoo for
her blue hair and a pink plaid duvet. She bought a bathing suit and
flip flops and a Barbie doll and a night light and a little pink
Maggie would not tolerate being out of Rogue's sight, even when she
was using the bathroom. If they seperated for only a few seconds the
crying would start. Rogue adapted quickly and learned to keep close.
When she did Maggie was like a different child, chattering happily,
touching everything, and generally keeping Marie's hands full.
Four hours later, Rogue was exhausted. They both laid down for naps
and it was quiet. Marie was half asleep when she felt her bed move.
Maggie's eyes met hers and she smiled as the little girl climbed into
her bed. She pulled the sheets up over them and they cuddled, Rogue's
body wrapped protectively around Maggie as they slept.
Chapter 8 is up at novemberotica.com