Chapter Three: Cold War
Disclaimer: All belongs to Marvel. etc, etc, etc. Damn it all.
Authors' note: Okay, so we didn't write the Juggernaut fight in detail. Why? Because we thought it was fine just as it was portrayed in the cartoon and there wasn't much doing a huge rewrite. Erik and Rogue's magnetic powers wouldn't have a huge affect on the battle, and Erik was - as mentioned in this chapter - occupied during it anyway. For those of you who haven't seen the cartoon yet... umm... use your imaginations, okay? ^_^
Words in //slashes// indicate telepathic conversation.
"Ow, ow, ow, I think I have bruises on my bruises," Evan moaned loudly as he and Kurt entered his room.
"Yes, but it was all in a good cause," Kurt replied. "We defeated the Juggernaut, we rescued the Professor, and we all came back safe and sound."
"What do you mean _we_?" Evan flopped down on his bed. "WE got kicked around! ROGUE lays one little pinkie on Juggernaut and the next thing you know she's smacking him about like she's King Kong!"
"Now that's an exaggeration! Cyclops _nearly_ had him when he took off his visor and we held up pretty good. And she put her whole hand on him for quite a while too!" Kurt said. "I was getting worried that she was going to wind up keeping all of HIS powers too!"
They both shuddered at the mental image that produced.
"Hey you guys, the bathroom's free!" Kitty popped her head around the door.
"Is there any hot water left?" Evan sat up and looked hopeful.
"Aw man..." Evan flopped back down. "I might not bother."
"Like, ewww," Kitty wrinkled her nose. "Go to sleep with all the sweat and muck on you? Just, ew."
"So guys, what do you think Storm and the others are gonna do about Erik?" Kitty asked changing the subject so quickly that the boys stared at her, blinking.
"They're talking about it with the Professor now I bet. You know, should we even be _calling_ him Erik now? Or Magneto? And if so, is he gonna stay or are they gonna throw him out? I mean, like, what's his plan? Why didn't he say anything?"
"Whoa, whoa!" Kurt threw up his hands. "Slow down, Kitty!"
"She's got a point though," Evan rolled over onto his stomach. "How do we know the guy isn't going to splat us?"
"He helped us out with Juggernaut," said Kurt mildly. "And the Sentinel AND Nanny"
"Which he built originally."
"Yeah, but he could've let Nanny capture us."
"And he is fighting those Aco-whatsits Sabretooth and the others" Kitty chewed a fingernail thoughtfully. "Maybe he HAS changed, like Rogue said."
"Or he could just be waiting until we don't think he's a threat and bam!" Evan smacked his fist into his palm. "Take us down."
"That's paranoia talking," said Kurt, yawning. "I think we should give him a chance if it hadn't be for him tonight we'd have had a tougher time taking down that Sentinel AND our faces would be splashed all over the TV. We got on all right with him before we knew he had his memories back, why should that change?"
"I still think you're taking this way too easy, man," Evan looked at Kitty. "What do the New Mutants think?"
She shrugged. "They don't really care, I mean, they never met him when he was old and nasty, you know. They're cracking up about him really being ancient."
"Well, there you go," Kurt stretched. "I don't think we should panic. Besides, if the Professor knew already then I bet he was keeping an eye on him."
"Huh, yeah I guess," Evan agreed. "I bet Aunty O and the others are going to tell the Prof off for not letting THEM know though!"
"Are you sure you're all right, Charles?" Storm asked.
"Fine thank you," Charles replied. "One doesn't feel anything in the stasis tank. That's how it was designed. It... was interesting to know how it worked."
"I'm sure there were easier ways to find that out," Beast replied.
The three teachers and Xavier were seated in his study, going over the events of the day.
"I'm only sorry I couldn't find you earlier," Beast continued. "However, when I learnt of the Juggernaut, I did wonder."
"Don't worry about it, Hank, somebody had to stay here and look after the kids," Wolverine said. "I'm just sorry that Mystique managed to get away... again."
"Yes, and from the sounds of it, her powers have become even more advanced," Xavier said. "I blame myself for not picking up her mind before she knocked me out."
"I was wondering how she'd got the drop on you," Wolverine admitted.
"She's a smart woman, she must have overheard my conversation with Erik and Rogue and decided to take advantage of the situation. Although I confess I am not a hundred percent sure of why she chose this particular time and decided to send a team against the Sentinel."
"Huh," Wolverine snorted, "That woman's got plots within plots going on. But speaking of Erik..."
"Yes, I apologise for keeping you all in the dark regarding his memories, but I felt it was best considering the situation."
"Are you sure we can trust him, Charles?" Storm leaned forward. "I find it hard to believe that he has changed so much in such a short time."
"But shoot not at me in your wakened hate; Since my appeal says I did strive to prove; The constancy and virtue of your love," Beast smiled. "Shakespeare, Sonnet 117."
"Right," said Wolverine, after a long pause. "And that's another thing that's bothering me."
"I think it's bothering everyone somewhat," Charles admitted. "Including Erik, and excepting Rogue. But there is not a lot I can do. It would be wrong to try and alter their feelings. The more we oppose it, the more we will drive them together, and for now, Rogue is a good influence on Erik. It is for her sake that he stays and helps and I hope that in time he will come to do so not because of her, but for his own sake."
"I dunno, Charles," Wolverine said. "Women who set out to change bad boys often wind up disappointed."
"But she's not trying to change him," Beast countered. "She accepts him for who he is, and I think that's part of her appeal."
"Don't go there, Beast. She's still only seventeen, and he's what? Over sixty?"
"The mental and actual age gap is formidable, I will admit," Charles acknowledged. "But while he is here, he is under our gaze, and we can make sure that nothing adverse happens."
"Well at least she still shares a room with Kitty," Wolverine grumbled. "Maybe we should put him in a room with one of the other boys as well." He grinned. "Like Scott."
"Do you WANT the house destroyed Logan?" Storm asked. "Because if so, you may as well put Rogue in Jean's room as well."
Charles frowned. "Yes, the tensions between the four are rising significantly. We shall have to keep an eye on that."
"So, I suppose what you're saying is that we just leave things as they are," Wolverine grumbled. "So what about Trask and his Sentinel?"
"Well, the base was effectively destroyed, and most of the data seems to have vanished, possibly deleted," Storm said thoughtfully. "So I do not believe he will be an immediate threat."
"People like him don't stop," Wolverine said bluntly.
"Then we will be ready for him next time," Charles said.
Rogue hesitated outside the rec room. She had gone straight to her room after they had returned from the fight with Juggernaut. She didn't want to be around people just then, not while Cain Marko's rage roared through her head. So she lay on her bed, eyes closed, trying to exorcise the images from her head and waiting for the voices to stop.
*But they never really stop...* She put a hand on her forehead. She gripped the door handle tightly and then eased up when she felt the metal give beneath her fingers. Oops. Better be careful. Clearly some of Juggernaut's strength was still within her. She opened the door, letting her expression fall back into its customary mask.
Scott looked up from his book. "Rogue... uh, hi."
She froze. Great, just great. "Hello Scott," she didn't know what to do. She was still angry for the way he had snapped at Erik, but at the same time this was _Scott_, the guy who had always been nice to her. Her friend, teammate and once, her crush.
She stiffened. "Ah believe _Erik_ is taking a shower. Why? Did ya have something to say to him?"
Scott's cheeks flushed slightly. "No, not really, but..." he hesitated and got to his feet. "Rogue, why didn't you say anything? We've all been on tiptoes, trying not to do anything to bring back his memory and he was laughing at us!"
"He was not!" Rogue snapped. "He was sad, because it reminded him of what he'd been. Who he'd been."
"Are you sure he's so different now?" Scott asked carefully.
"Yes, Ah swear," Rogue said earnestly. "He's willing to try now... Ah don't think he's totally convinced that the Prof's ideal is right, but he's prepared to give it a chance and he WON'T betray us," a small smile curved her mouth. "If he does AH'LL be the one tearing him to pieces."
Scott had to laugh at that. "I believe you!" he came over and laid a hand on her shoulder. "Rogue, I... we only get upset because we care, okay? None of us want you to get hurt."
Rogue's cheeks went pink. "Thanks Scott, Ah appreciate it but Ah... Ah'm pretty good at looking after myself."
"Of course," he agreed. "But you know... it's what we do, look out for each other."
"Y'mean you'd even watch out for Erik?" Rogue asked slyly.
"Hm... maybe," Scott said grudgingly.
Rogue smiled. "Thanks, Scott, Ah knew Ah could count on you."
"Of course you can, I care about you Rogue," Scott reached out and gently hugged Rogue.
For once, Rogue put aside her fears about contact and wrapped her arms around him, hugging back, relishing his warmth and support.
Behind them, the door opened.
As they broke their embrace, they turned to see Jean Grey staring at them both. The light fell on her face, enhancing the colour of her eyes so that they almost seemed to glow bright green.
"Jean!" Scott was surprised, and stepped back hurriedly from Rogue in embarrassment. "We were just talking about Erik."
"Oh, I see," Jean said frostily. "Well don't let _me_ interrupt you!" She turned on her heel and walked away.
"Okay," said Rogue. "That was interesting."
"Oh no," muttered Scott. *Sheesh, and she calls ME irrational.*
Jean walked hastily down the corridor, fuming. How many guys did Rogue really need wrapped round her finger? It's not like she could DO anything with any of them. And Scott, how could he be so forgiving all of a sudden?
Wait... could it be that the reason that Scott had been so irrational about Erik earlier be because he was interested in Rogue? Had he been _jealous_?!
Jean shook her head. This was stupid, she was getting all worked up over nothing. Scott was simply being friendly and supportive in the way that Scott was. After all, he was the team leader, it was best for him to make sure that everyone was happy. Right?
Lance softly made his way towards his goal, occasionally glancing over his shoulder at Fred who was camped out on the couch, eyes glued to the TV. He tilted his head, listening for the others. The muffled crashes coming from Pietro's room indicated that he was occupied and Todd hadn't made an appearance yet, so it was safe to assume that he was still on the porch waiting for Wanda.
Quickly, Lance snatched the phone and scarpered upstairs, making sure to unroll the cord to its full capacity. Once inside his room with the door safely closed he smirked. Success! Leaning against the door he picked up the receiver and dialled nervously. He didn't know that it was a good idea to call Kitty right now, but he was SURE it would be a bad idea to let her stew for too long.
The phone rang once twice and he began to worry that Rogue was going to pick up. Then
"Hey, Kitty, it's me, Lance!"
There was a chilly pause on the other end of the line.
Lance winced. 'You' sounded synonymous with 'scum'. "Um, yeah, so I guess you got back okay and all, right?"
"Yes, no thanks to you," Kitty made a rude noise. "Look Lance, I don't know if I want to talk to you right now, so..."
"Wait! WAIT!" Lance yelled down the phone. "Kitty, I wanted to say to say that..."
There was another pause, but this one wasn't so chilly.
"But what could I do?" Lance continued. "Wanda walked off and no way was she gonna work with you-know-who, Pietro was out of it, Todd was chasing Wanda it would've just been me and Fred. And y'know, my powers on a dam might not have had great results!"
"Yeah, I hey!" Kitty's voice was sharp. "How did you know we were on a dam?"
"It was on the TV News. Don't worry," Lance said quickly as Kitty whimpered. "There weren't any pictures of you or nothing. They were just saying that some weird stuff had happened on this dam, and I figured from what I could make out that it was you guys. Strange they didn't get any pictures or that no one saw you guys."
"That's because Jean fogged people's minds if they got too close to see and Erik was scrambling the cameras," relief flooded through Kitty's voice. "Geez you, like, totally freaked me out. I thought he'd missed one!"
"So speaking of _Erik_ I guess he's still at the Institute?"
"Yeah," Kitty sighed. "He is. It's totally weird. The Professor knew that he had his memories but didn't even tell Storm or Wolverine. And Rogue knew and wasn't saying either."
"So he's gonna stay?"
"I don't know, I guess so. It would be pretty dumb to chuck out _Magneto_ if he wanted to stay. Not that I get why he does when he doesn't agree with the Professor. Unless it's because of Rogue."
"Uh," Lance didn't know what to say to this.
"So has Wanda calmed down much?" Kitty asked.
Lance thankfully snatched at the change of subject. "She hasn't come back yet. We kinda talked about going after her, but well, we figured she wanted to be alone."
"Yeah, _I_ wouldn't want to get in her way when she's in such a bad mood."
Lance jumped. "However, I think she might just have come back."
Footsteps clumped up the stairs, the sound radiating anger. Todd's voice floated up to Lance's ears. "Welcome home, sweet cheeks!"
"At least he's not stupid enough to try and follow her to her room," Lance muttered.
"Nothing, just thinking out loud," Wanda's bedroom door slammed and the lights flickered. Lance let out the breath he hadn't realised he was holding. "Phew. Looks like she's not going to pull the house down around our ears at least."
"She must be, like, so mad. About Erik and Rogue not telling her," Kitty breathed. "I wonder what he DID to her exactly that made her so angry?"
"No idea," Lance answered. "Pietro ain't telling. And I don't think he's gonna say a word for a while. He was pretty shocked you know."
"Yeah, I bet."
The scream was loud enough to make Lance's ears ring and Kitty exclaim over the phone. "What was THAT?"
Lance peered round the door and spotted Pietro zooming up the stairs holding something small and pink?
"My socks! My socks!" he howled. "They're PINK! I have PINK socks!"
Lance managed to shut the door before he started laughing. It took a couple of minutes before he could calm down enough to tell Kitty what happened.
"Like, how?" she asked once she'd regained her breath.
"Dunno, maybe they got mixed up with Wanda's stuff. She wears a lot of red."
Kitty giggled. "I can't believe that he was actually doing _laundry_. He must REALLY be upset about his dad!"
Lance's spirits soared. She'd obviously forgiven him. "Hey, I better go and calm Speedy down," he said. "I'll see you at school, okay?"
"Okay! Bye Lance!" she hung up and he grinned like a loon before wiping the grin away and getting up to replace the phone.
All in all, life was pretty good Magneto or no Magneto.
Erik squeezed the water out of his hair and then slicked it back. In the steamy bathroom he dried himself quickly, keeping his mind deliberately blank. Only when he stood in front of the mirror, now cleared of steam that he actually let his thoughts wander.
Tonight had not turned out exactly as he had planned so many months ago. Well, that was to be expected. He had abandoned many schemes after the accident that de-aged him. True, he should've done something about the Acolytes sooner, but to be fair he hadn't really remembered them until recently nor had he expected them to show up so soon. However, he still found himself surprised that he was becoming so actively involved with the X-Men, even to the point of sabotaging his own plans.
He rubbed his eyes. Now there was a new problem to face. They knew, all of them, X-Men and the Brotherhood knew that he had regained his memories. Wanda's reaction was not a surprise. Would the others react in a similar fashion after they had recovered from the shock? Erik smiled ruefully at his reflection.
"Now I'm worried that I might be asked to leave?" he shook his head. "I must have hit my head at some point. Caring about such a thing."
//There's no shame in admitting that you enjoy our company, Erik.//
Erik rolled his eyes and sighed. //Can't I have a private thought without you psycho-analysing it, Charles?//
//My apologies, Erik,// Xavier didn't sound the least bit sorry. //But I wanted to speak to you.//
//Ah, I expected this. Do I pack my bags then?//
//No, you get to stay.//
//How magnanimous of you.// Erik 'said' sarcastically. A thought occurred to him. //Charles, if they know that I have my memories then...//
//No, Erik, you still have to attend school.//
The population of Bayville High School was unnaturally subdued on Monday afternoon. Whispers flew everywhere in the corridors, except for the two moving zones of silence which marked the positions of Rogue and Wanda.
"Man," one boy muttered to his friend after Wanda had stalked by, radiating anger, "and I used to think that nothing could be more scary than those two being friends."
"Yeah, it turns out their NOT being friends is MUCH scarier," the other boy moaned.
*You want scary? Try being stuck in the middle of it,* Erik thought as he went past. As if Rogue's bad mood wasn't bad enough, the death glares Wanda was giving him every time he got within sight was seriously, what was the phrase Kurt had used? Oh yes, 'freaking him out, man'. And Risty's constant smirks on top of it all were in danger of becoming the straw that broke his back. If it weren't for the small amusement he gained every time Pietro went green upon seeing him and Rogue together, he'd have gone home shortly after first period. As it was, he was taking a certain comfort in knowing that there was at least one person more uncomfortable with the whole thing than he was.
*Oh well,* he thought, *at least this can't go on for very long, right? It's only day one, I'm sure they'll get over it soon.*
By the end of the week, it was frostier than ever. Not helped by Jean 'delicately' suggesting to Rogue that she should try and make up with Wanda.
"WHO THE HELL ASKED FOR YOUR OPINION?!!!"
And Wanda was denying all knowledge of any friendship.
"Rogue? I know no one by that name. Sounds like a skanky Southern skunk kind of name to me."
By the middle of the second week, Erik was giving serious thought to moving back to his headquarters in the snowy-covered mountains in the hopes that it would be warmer there.
*Still,* he thought as he settled down in front of the television that evening, *At least some of the other X-Men are becoming more comfortable around me, since I haven't tried to kill anyone or use them in a Master Plot yet.*
*And, since they're still just a _little_ nervous, no one comes to bother me.*
*Which means I have complete control of the TV remote.*
"THERE you are," Rogue said in exasperation, as she marched into the living room. "What are you doing?"
"I'm watching a documentary on the Discovery Channel," he responded nervously. In truth, he'd been avoiding Rogue as much as he could without her noticing over the past few days. He still felt responsible for the whole situation with Wanda and Rogue's mood had been rather abrupt lately.
"Oh, what's it about?"
"Uh, the Crusades."
"Score!" Rogue threw herself onto the sofa next to him. "Ah'm about to cover them in World History. This way Ah can look good in front of crabby Mr Simpson." She snuggled up against him.
"Don't get like that, Ah KNOW you like me," Rogue informed him. "And I know that you're keeping that magnetic shield of yours up all the time, so we're safe."
"And don't think you can put me off on accounta your age. You may still have your memories but you ACT like a boy of 18."
"Thanks." The sarcasm packed into that one word was so heavy that Rogue was amazed it didn't crash through the floor and into the basement.
"So what's the problem?" She asked, resting her head against his shoulder.
"Rogue," Erik groped for words. "In my day... women just didn't BEHAVE like this. They were, er, more, uh..."
Rogue elbowed him lightly in the ribs. "Get over it," she told him, swinging up her legs so that they rested on the sofa and she could lean comfortably against his body.
"Shhh! I'm trying to watch this!"
"Rogue..." It was time to make an effort. He had to try and mend the breach. "I really think you need to talk to Wanda."
The change in air temperature was astonishing. He wondered if she'd absorbed Bobby lately.
"Oh you do, do you?"
"Yes," he plunged on. "I don't want to be the ruin of your friendship."
"It's not YOU, it's HER!" Rogue emphasised. "YOU can't help it if she's a stuck-up, obsessed, psycho revenge-seeking cow from hell."
"She is my daughter."
"Yeah well, you know what they say. You can choose your friends, you can choose your enemies, but you're stuck with your family. Ah mean, Pietro's your son."
Erik paused. "Point. But still, don't you think it's time that you at least tried. I mean, you were _both_ keeping secrets from each other..."
"Oh, so now it's MY fault?!"
"No! No! It's just that, if you want to blame someone, blame..." he thought about it briefly. "Mystique! Blame Mystique! If she hadn't come back none of this would have happened."
Rogue gave him a look.
"Okay so it's my fault too, I know that! Why don't you go and tell Wanda that? I'm sure the two of you can have fun ripping me apart. You always have done before."
"Ah'm sure Ah don't know what you're talking about," Rogue said huffily. "And Ah'll thank you to keep your long aristocratic nose out of my business!" She flounced off angrily.
Erik sighed and got a blank tape out of the cabinet, deciding to leave the taped documentary on her desk. He touched his nose with a small smile, "Aristocratic hmmm?"
As the days rolled on the atmosphere at school grew no better. Wanda was still furious with Rogue and Erik. Rogue was still angry with Wanda, and huffy towards Erik - who was once more seriously considering chucking it all in and going back to being a super villain.
On one particular day, he actually started walking towards Charles' office to say that he was quitting.
It was the day Kitty got her learners permit.
"Erik! Hey Erik! Wait up!"
Erik paused and his fists clenched. *I have faced the worst humanity can throw at me,* he reminded himself. *I have seen wars, disasters, atrocities, the deaths of all those I loved, surely I can handle this?*
"Kitty," he said firmly. "I have already told you that I am NOT available to supervise your driving."
"But you're over 18 now!" Kitty looked at him with big pleading eyes. "And you know how to drive! Pietro told Lance that you used to drive a huge, big Mercedes or something."
Erik made a mental note to lock Pietro in a dumpster sometime. "Yes, but I don't have a licence now Kitty," he said calmly. "Well I do, but it kind of says I'm slightly older than I look. Besides, I don't have it on me."
"But the Professor could set you up with one..."
"Kitty, I'm surprised at you!" Erik said in shock. "Are you suggesting that Professor Charles Xavier should hack into the DMV records just to get a licence for me?"
"Oh, I guess I hadn't thought of that," Kitty's shoulders slumped and she walked away.
*Phew. Now as long as she doesn't mention this to Charles I should be safe.*
He sighed in mixed relief and irritation as Kitty hurried off to try and find Jean and Scott, who were in hiding, as they had been ever since the news had been broken. It wasn't that he objected to Kitty pestering _them_, it was that watching Scott and Jean huddle together for safety in strange places such as the broom closet was making Rogue more irritable than ever.
"I thought you were over him."
"Then why are you annoyed?"
"Yes you are!"
"Well Ah am NOW!"
"Argh! I can't win!"
As Erik stomped away in exasperation he realised that every time he tried to talk about a topic that had nothing to do with his relationship with Rogue, he got in to trouble. The one thing _he_ didn't want to talk about, was the _only_ thing that she wanted to hear.
And so events progressed frostily. Fortunately there were other distractions. On that Tuesday Kurt finally received the invitation to meet the parents of Amanda Sefton (the love of his life) on Thursday night. Kurt was nervous because a) he was meeting her parents, and b) his image inducer was acting up a bit. He wasn't quite prepared for Amanda's parents to meet the blue fuzzy version of himself.
"I don't see what the problem is," Erik said to Rogue at the dinner table on Thursday, after Kurt had left. "Yes, mutants are still in hiding, but if he truly loves this girl, and she loves him, then she should accept him no matter what he looks like. Why should mutants hide who they really are? Being a mutant is nothing to be ashamed of, we are a natural step in evolution, the next step! Homo mutatis, no! Homo superior!"
Everyone looked at each other nervously.
"Why should we skulk in fear of being discovered?" Erik banged his fist on the table, warming up to his topic. "We should be proud of who we are, and what we can do. Mutant powers are not a curse, they are a gift!"
"Speak for yourself," muttered Rogue.
"Humans may hate us and fear us," Erik carried on, not having caught her comment. "But it is only because they fear what they do not understand, and they fear their own inferiority. We are the future, not them! If this girl truly loved Kurt, she should embrace his true nature, fur and all."
"She does," Rogue interrupted.
"What?" Erik asked blankly.
"I said she does," Rogue said louder. "She knew about the fur and everything before she asked him out. She wanted him to come over as he really was, but he was too nervous."
"Oh," said Erik blankly. "Uh, I wish you'd told me that _before_ I started airing my opinions."
"Oh but it was so fascinating," Bobby said with a wicked grin. "That whole thing about how superior we all are."
"And loving people for who they truly are," Kitty added. "I mean that really gives me hope for me and Lance."
Scott choked on his drink.
Erik went red, muttered something, and concentrated fiercely on his food for the rest of the meal.
As they all rose, Xavier shot him a look.
"Erik, could I have a word with you?"
"Ooooohhhh... someone's in trouble!" sang Rahne and Jubilee.
"Shut up," he shot them the fiercest glare he could manage, and they dissolved into giggles.
Rogue patted him on the shoulder. "It's pretty hard to be intimidating when you're 18 and have spot on your chin."
Erik's hand went to his chin, "I do not!"
"Made you look," she taunted, and ran off.
"ARGH! What did I do to deserve this?"
"Do you have to ask?" Scott inquired as he walked past.
Sighing, Erik followed Professor Xavier up to his office.
"Yes Charles?" He said as he sank into a chair, trying to quell the feeling of being a naughty little schoolboy about to be scolded by his teacher.
"This is not about your dinner conversation," Xavier said, trying to put him at ease, "Although that was... interesting."
"I haven't had a chance to talk to you properly about the events of the last few weeks." The Professor smiled. "First I'd like to thank you for all the help you rendered, and in particular the way you worked out that something was wrong when Mystique was masquerading as me."
"Well, I have known you for some years now," Erik said, "It wasn't that hard."
"Also I'd like to say that I was impressed with the way you handled the cameras and scrambled the reception during the fight with Juggernaut. I was encouraged by that, it seems that you are taking a step towards..."
"Don't get your hopes up Charles," Erik interrupted. "I just decided that humans weren't yet ready for us. It was in the X-Men's best interest that they remain anonymous."
"The X-Men's?" Xavier's eyebrow rose. "Or Rogue's?"
Erik's expression went very wooden. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Erik, just as you know me, I know _you_," Xavier said. "And it is fairly obvious that your feelings for Rogue have become stronger over the last couple of weeks, and so have hers for you."
"Really?" Erik briefly brightened, before hastily assuming a blank look. "Uh, I mean, I still don't understand."
"The two of you are falling in love," Xavier said bluntly.
"Ah. Oh. That."
"Yes, that. Now, while I would normally support a relationship between two people who find each other mutually attractive on a mental and physical level, there is still the problem that you are technically..."
"Too old for her," Erik finished, "Yes, we've had this conversation before."
"Then you understand my reservations?"
"Not really. Rogue knows what she wants, and she's very determined." Erik thought about some recent events. "VERY determined," he added. "Yes, she is still young, and I'm aware that her feelings may change, but I respect her too much to treat her like a child with a crush. She's been through a lot, and she's not the infant you think she is. Besides, it's not often I encounter someone who is not afraid to stand up to me, and who is prepared to give me a chance. I think she's capable of doing whatever she wants to do, and dealing with the results."
"And what if you leave her, and take up your old ways, becoming our enemy once again?"
"I know her well enough to know that she will do what is necessary, even if it meant taking me down. Or trying to," he amended.
"Well, then I suppose there is not much more I can say," Xavier sighed. "Now, about those Acolytes of yours..."
"We haven't seen them for a while, but I'm sure that they haven't gone far. Are they going to be a re-occurring problem?"
Erik thought about it. "I could probably dissuade Colossus, since I was blackmailing him on to the team anyway. Stop looking at me like that! Gambit's in it for kicks; he's a former member of the Thieves Guild from New Orleans... Charles, I said stop looking at me like that! Pyro is, how do I put it, certifiable? And Sabretooth, well, he never listened to me much anyway. Always doing his own thing."
He leaned back in his chair and sighed. "The number of times I had to punish the man absolutely boggles... WILL YOU STOP GIVING ME THOSE LOOKS?!"
Professor Xavier sighed and shook his head. "So you'll deal with them?"
"Yes, yes," Erik got to his feet. "Can I go now? I have an English essay to do for tomorrow on the so-called modern novel."
"You haven't started it yet?"
Erik headed down to the library, clutching his homework bag. "I should have asked Charles if I could stop going to school now," he muttered. "These teachers are sadistic, and I thought they were bad in the 1930s!"
"At least they don't have corporal punishment now," Rogue said sweetly, popping up next to him.
"GAH! When did you get Kurt's power?" He demanded.
Rogue glared at him. "Ah'll have you know Ah haven't absorbed _anyone_ for days now. Not since Juggernaut!" she grinned. "So, did the Professor give you a spanking?"
Erik sighed. At least Rogue's manic behaviour around him meant he was forgiven again.
"Rogue, I've been meaning to ask you something."
"Oh? What?" Rogue's eyes widened.
"Why do you..." Erik groped for the words. "Act like this around me?"
"Act like what?"
"Psycho-perky goth," he said.
"Where did you get that term from?"
"Anyway, the point is, why? Why the bouncy, happy you? Not that I don't like you being happy, but usually you're busy snapping everybody's head off. Except for Scott of course."
She rolled her eyes at him. "Leave Scott out of it okay? I don't know. You just bring this out in me, I guess. I tried to stop, I really did. But it's kind of fun, and you should SEE the look on your face."
"Uh huh." He opened his books. "So you're doing this because you like to watch me be nervous?"
"Pretty much," Rogue sat down opposite him and propped her chin on her hands, beaming. "Like Ah said before, Ah just like watching you sweat."
"I'm never going to get this essay done," moaned Erik.
"Well you should have done it earlier!" Rogue sang. "This is what happens when you leave everything to the last minute."
"I didn't get it done earlier because I was helping YOU with your math!"
"Ah know. Life's hard isn't it?" Rogue grinned. "Want me to kiss and make it better?"
As Erik stared at her, she crawled onto the table, leaned over and kissed him firmly on the mouth.
"And now Ah'll leave you to your work," she said, crawling off. "See you later sugah!"
Erik sat in stunned silence as she left, while the room around him erupted in giggles. The various other students of Xavier's tried to muffle their laughter but soon gave up.
"You know, I was going to do this assignment, but the floor show is much better," Roberto said, in near-hysterical laughter. "Does anyone have a camera? I want to immortalise the look on his face!"
Erik never did get his essay done.
As she left the library, barely restraining herself from skipping, Rogue smiled giddily, savouring the feel of Erik's lips.
*Amanda's so great! Jean I love you, why don't you look at me? Kitty I really like you. Lance I like you a lot. Wanda sweetums!*
She whirled around to see Scott standing on the stairs, a worried expression on his face. "Are you all right?"
She smiled weakly. "Sure, just a bit of a headache."
"I take it this means you're not up for the racquetball game tonight?"
She had completely forgotten they had challenged each other to a match. "Um, not really. How about tomorrow morning before school?"
He shrugged. "Sure, if you like," he smiled at her. "Go get some rest, get rid of that headache."
"Night, Scott," she watched him walk towards the library and then winced, clutching at the banister as the voices in her head welled up again. Damn powers. Why couldn't they all shut up! She hadn't absorbed anyone for days now, but her head still felt... crowded. She rubbed her forehead, wanting to be in her room, and lying down in her bed, and then blinked. She was on her bed.
*How'd that happen? Ah don't even remember going up the stairs. Must have been the headache.*
With a sigh, she collapsed on her bed, and into a deep sleep.
Go on to Chapter Four
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