Chapter Four: Self Possessed
Disclaimer: All belongs to Marvel. etc, etc, etc. Damn it all.
Words in //slashes// indicate telepathic conversation.
Rogue smirked triumphantly as she watched Scott dive and miss the ball.
"Oh man, you beat me again," he said, getting to his feet. "One of these days I'm going to beat you at this game."
She grinned at him. "One day. Maybe. Want a rematch? I'm free this evening."
"Oh, sorry Rogue, it's the concert this evening."
"Oh yeah," she remembered. Kurt had been talking about nothing else. "So, are you going?"
"Yeah, me and Jean are going together."
It was strange. Even though she had Erik now, in some strange fashion, she still cared about Scott. It still made her angry that he preferred Jean over her, and in fact had never even noticed her feelings towards him.
"Are you going?" Scott asked.
"Uh, probably not," she said. "You know, crowds, me, not good combination."
"So you and Erik will be staying here?" Scott asked casually.
Rogue frowned at him. "Maybe, we haven't made any firm plans."
"Oh, it's just that uh," Scott hesitated. "I kind of heard that the two of you were getting... quite friendly in the library yesterday."
"If you're referring to me kissing him, yes," Rogue said coolly.
"It's just that..." Scott floundered. "He's..."
"Older than me, Magneto, Master of Magnetism, evil, evil, evil, blah, blah, blah," Rogue finished. "Ah've heard the lecture. Several times now. Ah know what Ah'm doing!"
"I'm sure you do, it's just that, I worry about you."
"You do?" Rogue melted.
"Yeah, I was just saying so to Jean."
"Oh really?!" Rogue re-froze.
Scott exhibited his usual cluelessness and packed up his gear. "Yeah, we all worry about you, Rogue," he said. "You're part of the team!" He patted her on the shoulder and left.
Rogue stared after him with mixed feelings. Something roared within her and her temper flared.
With a shout of rage, she threw her racquet at the wall. Pain stabbed in her temple and she sank to her knees, not noticing the large hole in the wall, where her racquet had smashed its way in.
After a couple of minutes, she felt better, and got to her feet.
Quickly she left the court and nearly crashed into Wolverine.
"Where's the fire, stripes?" He asked.
"Uh, sorry, late for school! Gotta get a shower and changed." Rogue shot past him and headed for her room, and some tylenol.
Wolverine frowned after her and then looked inside the court. His frown deepened when he saw the racquet embedded in the wall.
Rogue's headache was still bothering her as she walked up the steps into school. Kitty and Kurt had teased Jean about her 'date' with Scott almost all the way to school and Rogue felt grumpier and grumpier with each word. Luckily the others didn't question her mood and she was able to escape without having to answer any unwelcome questions. Erik would have queried, but he had left early to try and do some work on his non-existent essay. Rogue opened her locker and sighed. Not that she really wanted Erik to interrogate her about the wonky way her powers were behaving.
Rogue frowned as she slipped the morning's books into her bag. Her powers had been misbehaving a lot lately and a nagging little voice said that she really should tell the others. Since Jean's problems with evolving powers Professor Xavier was adamant that the X-Men should come to him if there were any developments. Rogue bit her lower lip and reached for the handle of the girl's bathroom door. "It's not that bad" she said to herself. "Ah'm sure it's just because Ah've been a bit stressed, everything will be fine!"
She immediately found herself phasing through the door and stumbling into the bathroom.
Rogue looked up and saw Risty standing at the sink, staring at her.
"R-Risty Uh, hi good morning how are you?" Rogue babbled, wondering how much her friend had seen.
"I'm fine," Risty put away her lipstick. "_You_ look like you're going to collapse. Are you okay, girl?"
"Uh, yes, sort-of"
"Oh, right, sure you are," Risty took her arm. "Come on, talk to me."
They left the bathroom and walked down the corridor. Rogue tried to organise her thoughts into a plausible explanation. "Ah was studying late and"
"Don't believe you," Risty interrupted. "Come up with something better."
"Well," Rogue paused. Wanda was walking towards them, her expression hostile. Rogue's brows drew together and she turned her head, looking at Risty and ignoring Wanda as they passed by. Risty's eyes flickered over to Wanda for a brief second and she smiled slightly.
"Rogue, unlike some people, I have _always_ been there for you, you KNOW you can trust me."
"Ah know, but" Rogue stopped by a water fountain. "This isn't something that Ah can just"
Pain lanced through her head along with images of clouds, lightening and rain. She stumbled back, clutching at her head. There was a rumble of thunder and with a sharp crack the water fountain seemed to explode. Water shot into the air, soaking Rogue, Risty and a number of nearby students who backed away in alarm.
"What the hell happened?"
"I don't know!"
"The fountain blew up!"
"Is it a bomb?"
Risty grabbed the dazed Rogue and dragged her out of the panicking crowd.
"Have to get out" Rogue gasped and Risty nodded.
They ran outside to the picnic area and Rogue collapsed on one of the seats. Risty stood by, watching her gather her scattered wits.
"Does this what happened back there have anything to do with you and your friends, and all the strange things that seem to happen around you?" Risty asked.
Rogue looked up, eyes wide and a little frightened. "Wh-what do you mean?"
Risty's mouth curved into a half-smile. "Rogue, I'm not _blind_ you know. Hanging around with you and the others, I've seen some things that are a little hard to explain."
"Oh" Rogue looked at her hands. She tried to think clearly, to decide what was the best thing to say. Risty was her friend and she seemed, no, she was trustworthy in Rogue's opinion, but could Rogue really tell her the truth? And yet, it would be wonderful to talk to someone, to confide in Risty all the messed up feelings and fears running around in her head right now. She bit her lip and looked up again. "Actually, Risty there is something Ah need to tell you"
"Mutant? Is that what you call it?" Risty tapped her lower lip thoughtfully with one finger. "I guess that makes sense."
It was half an hour later, first period was almost over, and Rogue had just revealed everything about her power and the X-Men to Risty. Risty had taken the news surprisingly well; in fact she seemed to be more curious than appalled.
"Well, now I know why you wear gloves all the time," she grinned. "I have to admit I WAS wondering about that!"
"Yeah," Rogue laughed slightly. "Some powers can be really problematic."
"But you are okay getting close to Erik," Risty frowned. "Does he neutralise your power or something?"
"Umm he has magnetic powers and he creates this shield that" Rogue blushed. "Anyway, it means we can touch, yeah. Ah still haven't got the hang of it yet."
"I'm sure you'll figure it out soon," Risty said soothingly, putting a hand on Rogue's arm. "So, now did you make the fountain blow up?"
"Ah Ah think so," Rogue sighed. "Ah think my powers are a little whacked right now. Ah keep hearing voices in my head of the people Ah've absorbed and sometimes Ah manifest their powers too," she shivered. "It's scary sometimes."
"You know what you need?" Risty said cheerily. "You need to stop _thinking_ about this so much! Why don't you and I spend some quality 'girl time' together tonight? Go to the concert maybe, and then do something else that's fun?"
"The concert? Ah don't know," Rogue frowned. "Ah'm not real good with crowds, for obvious reasons."
"I'll protect you! Come on," Risty urged. "You need to get away from it all! What do you say?"
There were a dozen good reasons to refuse, but Risty's enthusiasm was infectious. "Umm well, okay," Rogue said with a slight smile. "Thanks, Risty. You're a good friend."
"Did you get angry about something today?" Pietro enquired, laying a hand on the door of his sister's open locker.
Wanda looked blank. "What?"
"The water fountain," Pietro jerked his head in the direction of the destroyed fountain. "Was that you?"
"What are you implying?" Wanda glared at her brother. The locker door rippled beneath his hand and he grinned nervously.
"Nothing, nothing! I was just asking!"
"Then stop asking," she snapped. "I didn't do it."
"Okay, okay," Pietro said quickly. "Hey Wanda, now that you're not buddy-buddy with you-know-who, why don't you join the Brotherhood in showing up those X-geeks?"
She raised an eyebrow. "What are you talking about?"
"Well," he leaned in. "The way I figure it, Mystique's not around and _he's_ playing nice with the other side, so it's up to us to make sure that the x-geeks don't get the idea that they've won."
Wanda snorted. "Get a clue, Pietro! He's only friendly with them so he can get information. Once he's got what he wants then he'll be back, orchestrating his big master plan. And when he does," her voice lowered to an angry hiss. "I'll be there, ready to take him down."
Pietro drew back. "Whoa you're still pissed at him? If you're so mad, why aren't you attacking him now?"
"Because unlike SOME people, I am not stupid enough to bring the X-Men down on me, which would happen if I attacked him now because they think he's one of them!" Wanda wrenched her locker door from his grasp and closed it. "And what makes you think Mystique isn't around? She's a shapeshifter! She could be anyone here, a teacher or a student," she smirked at her brother's stunned expression. "Think about it."
Leaving Pietro to gape after her, Wanda stalked down the corridor. Yeah, Mystique could be anyone, but she knew who the shapeshifter was right now. Risty Wilde, Rogue's friend. Wanda recalled the smirk on Risty's face earlier that day. Mystique was clearly pleased by the rift, since that meant Rogue would rely on her more and more. Well, Wanda decided that she didn't care. She really didn't. No matter that she had intended to tell Rogue Risty's identity before the Sentinel debacle. Rogue deserved to be duped by Mystique, she was a stupid, secret-keeping idiot who had the hots for a man Wanda believed should be squashed like the cockroach he was.
"I don't care," Wanda muttered defiantly, ignoring the stares of the other students. I just don't CARE!"
Erik came home alone that day. Rogue had not turned up at their usual meeting spot after school, and he'd heard from Kurt that she'd left with Risty. Figuring that he would see her at dinner, and because he had no reason to stay out, he decided to go home immediately and get his homework out of the way for the weekend.
The mansion was in a state of chaos. Erik stared at the people running around and yelling at each other, and for a moment, thought that they were under attack. He grabbed a passing Multiple.
"What's going on, Jamie?" He demanded.
"We gotta get ready!" Jamie said excitedly. "For the concert, you know? I'm taking Kitty! I'm going to give her a corsage to wear!"
Erik raised an eyebrow. "Concert?"
"You know! The Concert! The one that we've been waiting for all week. You're going, right?"
"You have GOT to be joking."
"But, but... they're great! Their music..."
"That is NOT music!" Erik complained. "I've heard that stuff, it's just a lot of shouting and banging!"
Spyke paused behind him. "Man, you are REALLY showing your age."
Erik glared and let Jamie go. "At least Rogue isn't going," he muttered.
Rogue burst through the door. "Hi Erik! Bye Erik!" She started up the stairs.
"Wait! Wait! What's the rush?"
"Ah've got to get ready for the concert!"
Erik's jaw dropped. "What?"
"Risty and Ah are going, Ah didn't really want to but she talked me into it, and maybe she's right, maybe it will be fun."
"Oh," Erik suddenly felt very left out.
"You can come if you like. Ah'm sure Risty wouldn't mind."
"No, I'm sure she would mind," Erik managed a smile. "Have a nice time Rogue, be careful there'll be a lot of people there."
"Yes _Sir_," Rogue rolled her eyes. "Ah know how to keep covered up. Have a good night in!" She fled up the stairs to change.
Erik watched her go and sighed.
"So," Wolverine's voice behind him made him jump. "Looks like it's just gonna be you, me, Ororo, the Professor and Hank in tonight."
Erik sighed again. "Oh. Fantastic. If you need me, I will be in the library."
Two hours later, Erik had completed a translating a text for German, some calculus problems, and made a start on his European History essay when the library door slammed open.
Wolverine stared at him. "Have you been here all evening?"
Erik stared back. "Yes... Why?"
"Because Scott just called. Apparently the concert was trashed by Sabretooth, Juggernaut, and Mystique... and there's just been a report on the late news that a guy answering to your, old, description just destroyed a police car."
Erik looked at him blankly. "I have been here, all night! I've been studying idiotic topics that I already know!"
"You don't have a twin brother or something do you?"
"No!" Erik said indignantly. Then he calmed down and thought about what Wolverine had just said. "The, uh, me had magnetic powers?"
"Certainly sounds that way."
"So, it couldn't have been Mystique imitating me, because she wouldn't have had my powers, only my form. It would have to be someone who could either mimic, or had acquired..." A horrible, horrible image formed in Erik's mind. "Rogue was at the concert do any of the others know where she is?"
Wolverine's eloquence silence and then subsequent swearing was enough answer.
"But why would she DO that?" Erik demanded. "And how _could_ she anyway? It's been ages since she absorbed Mystique."
"Well, whatever it is, if this is Rogue, she's not thinking straight, and we need to stop her," Wolverine turned to go. "You coming?"
"Yes. But, I'm going to get someone else first." If Rogue's powers really have gone berserk, Erik thought, then it's going to take more than we've got to bring her down.
"Wanda! Open the door, it's an emergency! WANDA!" Erik beat his fists on the Brotherhood's door before pausing. "What am I doing?"
Focusing his magnetic powers, he wrenched a section of railing loose and smashed it through the door. "WANDA! Get down here!"
Wanda stormed down the stairs, power pooling in her hands.
"What do _you_ want?" She spat. "Get OUT!"
"No, I need you," Erik said. "Rogue may be in trouble."
"Why should I care?" Wanda sniffed.
"It's _serious_, Wanda," Erik gritted. "Her powers may have gone completely out of control."
"Oh, well why don't you stick her in an ASYLUM then!" Wanda screamed back.
"What happened?" Lance put a word in.
"We don't know!" Erik said in frustration. "Rogue went out to the concert tonight with Risty, the next thing we know is Juggernaut, Sabretooth and Mystique are all crashing the stadium, then apparently me, and we can't find Rogue, and _someone's_ going ballistic downtown!"
Wanda's face went pale. "Rogue went with Risty?"
"Yes," Erik paused, and then his face hardened. "Why?!"
"Risty is Mystique," Wanda whispered.
Erik took a deep breath.
"AND YOU DIDN'T TELL ROGUE??!!!"
"That's not the point now!" Wanda grabbed her coat. "Let's just go!"
Lance, Pietro, Toad and Blob looked at each other. It had been a long time ago, and they were on opposite sides now, but Rogue had been one of them once. Besides, if Rogue was going psycho in the middle of town, then it was only a matter of time before mutants were outted, and even the Brotherhood knew that would be a bad thing.
"We're coming too."
The road rippled, cars toppled over, lightening flashed and destructive beams of ruby red were fired on the retreating X-Men. Erik stared in horror at the devastation around him and then looked up at the slender figure in the sky who was responsible. The X-Men kept trying, again and again, to halt Rogue's rampage, but she continually threw them back literally. Pietro zapped out of the way as Spyke was hurled past, only managing to stop himself by digging his spikes into the road.
"We are SO screwed yo," said Toad behind Erik.
Erik couldn't help but agree. A small part of him kept saying: *damn! If only she was on _my_ team*. But he squashed that thought.
"Okay, I'll go up there and contain her. Then we will try and calm her down."
"Good luck," muttered Lance. "She doesn't look very happy."
Erik ignored him and flew up. "Rogue! I..."
He shuddered as a lightning bolt hit his shields. "Ow. Listen Rogue, we just want to help! We're your friends."
"Oh no," said Scott, down on the ground. "Everyone duck! He used the F word!"
Rogue's blazing eyes fixed on Erik. "AH HAVE NO FRIENDS!"
Eyebeams, lightning and hexbolts hit his shields simultaneously, destroying them completely. Erik tried to maintain a calm demeanour and hide his fear. "Rogue! I don't want to do this, but you leave me no choice."
Metal from all sources flew up into the sky, encircling Rogue.
"Please calm down!" Erik yelled as he formed a cage around her. "I don't want to hurt you!"
"Your loss," said Rogue, in an accent completely different from her normal one. "Fool! I have been caged too long! Now I control this body, and all its powers, and Zaladane shall defeat you all!"
The cage was shredded apart, and thrown back at Erik, who only just managed to deflect the pieces. Horrified, he realised that the personality of Zaladane, the psychotic wielder of magnetism who Rogue had absorbed so long ago, was now in control.
There was a loud bamf, and Rogue disappeared. Before Erik could react, there was another bamf behind him, and Rogue/Zaladane wrapped her arms around his neck.
"Surprise lover," she purred in his ear. "And goodbye!"
Erik's body convulsed as electricity coursed through his body, and he fell silently while Rogue/Zaladane laughed. Luckily his fall was halted by Jean, who lowered him gently down to the ground.
Down on the ground, Wolverine took charge. "Okay, EVERYBODY clear out!" He ordered. "I can take a beating better than any of you can."
Wanda stepped forward. "I'm not leaving. She has magnetic powers, you have adamantium bones. She could rip them clean out of you. Let me help. I owe her that much."
Wolverine nodded. "Try and disorient her, and I'll get her down onto the ground. Bobby! I need a lift."
Wanda fired the biggest hex-bolt she could muster straight at Rogue/Zaladane who staggered in mid-air. As Rogue/Zaladane faltered, Wolverine zoomed up towards her, courtesy of Iceman, and launched himself at her. Still disorientated, Rogue/Zaladane was caught off guard by the additional weight and Wolverine bore her down onto the roof of a car, taking the brunt of the impact. Before he could get to his feet he found himself suspended in mid-air, claws extended and pushing towards his throat. Rogue/Zaladane smiled cruelly at him and leapt down to the ground. "Stupid little man, how dare you try to take me on."
"Fight her, Rogue!" Wolverine gasped as he was twisted around. "Don't let her push you around. I know what it's like to have nothing make sense in your head, but you have to fight!"
For a moment she faltered, her eyes turning green once more, but then they narrowed and the cruel smile returned. "Pathetic," she scorned. "All of you, unable to take on one little girl. You all deserve to die!"
"You're the pathetic one," Wanda sneered from behind her. "You couldn't beat Rogue all this time, and you had to _wait_ until her powers went crazy before you could even get up the guts to come out."
Rogue/Zaladane whirled but didn't manage to get up a shield before a hexbolt hit her.
"Now back in your cage, bitch. I want to talk to Rogue!" Wanda ordered. "Rogue! Can you hear me?"
"Wolverine's right, you gotta fight her!" Wanda yelled. "You have to fight all of them! I know it's hard, you just want to hurt everything and everyone right now, but you have to control it."
"But you hate me! Why do you care?"
"I don't _hate_ you, I was just _annoyed_. Friends get annoyed with each other sometimes," Wanda could hardly believe she was actually saying this, _and_ meaning it at the same time. It felt rather good actually. "And anyone will tell you that I have a really _bad_ temper, and tend to hold grudges for a very long time."
"She really does!" yelled Pietro from across the street.
"Shut up Pietro," Wanda snapped. "The point is that I've learnt to control my powers, and I will not let anyone control me. You're strong, and you're tough like me. The Rogue I know would not let anyone push her around."
"You can do it Rogue!" Wolverine called.
Erik staggered up behind Wanda. "Come back to us Rogue. We need you." Softly he added to her, "_I_ need you."
"Ah can't!" Rogue yelled, dropping to her knees. "There's too many of them!"
"You can take them! We'll help!" Wanda yelled. "Just hang on."
Erik turned around. "Charles!"
"I'm here Erik," Professor Xavier wheeled up beside him. "Rogue, let me help you. Together we can drive out these other personalities."
Rogue screamed and started morphing, taking on one by one the forms of all the people she had ever absorbed. Finally she turned into Zaladane, who glared at him. "I will not leave," she hissed. "This girl stole my life, and I will have hers in return."
"The hell you will!" Wanda said. "Rogue was there first. You get the hell out."
Jean stepped up to the Professor's side. "Do you need my help?"
"In this instance, yes."
"No!" Zaladane howled as Xavier and Jean united their minds against her, pushing her out. She screamed and her form wavered, until finally Rogue was herself again. Unconscious, she fell forward into Erik's arms.
Professor Xavier sank back in his chair, exhausted. Jean slumped to the ground next to him.
"That was horrible!" Jean moaned. "That woman's mind was disgusting!"
"Is Rogue going to be okay now?" Wolverine asked.
"I don't know," said Xavier. "It's not just this possession and exorcism that she has to deal with, but also Mystique's betrayal. I saw in her mind their true relationship."
"Mystique was Risty," Wanda blurted out. "I'm sorry I didn't say anything earlier. She's been masquerading as her to get close to Rogue this whole time. I guess to spy on you guys. Rogue must have found that out this evening."
"Yes, but that is not the end of the story. Tonight Rogue discovered that Mystique is also her adopted mother."
"MOTHER??!!" Everybody squawked.
"Mother? Mother is Rogue's mother?" Kurt blinked. "I have a big sister!"
Erik cradled Rogue gently in his arms. "I'm sure you're thrilled Kurt, but save it till later. Rogue needs to recover."
"Indeed, she needs to get some medical attention at once, and plenty of rest. This experience will leave her very fragile."
After Rogue had been taken away with Erik, Wanda and Kurt accompanying the Professor and Wolverine, the rest of the X-Men stood around looking at the destruction.
"You know," Pietro said. "I bet that if my father was himself, as he was before, he'd be kicking himself right now."
"Why?" Spyke asked.
"Well, he had Rogue on his team and he _lost_ her to _you_ guys, and she can do _this_!" Pietro spread his arms wide. "He wouldn't NEED anyone else, she's an army all by herself!"
"That's really insensitive Pietro," Kitty scolded. "After all Rogue's just been through, that's all you can think about?"
"Well, all of this rubble lying around does kind of bring it to mind, yes."
"Rubble. Yes. There is quite a lot of it isn't there?" Scott said. "That's going to make things interesting to explain."
"What do you mean, explain?" Lance asked.
"Well, how are we going to explain the fact that most of the school saw Sabretooth, Mystique and Juggernaut at the concert. Plus all the reports of weird people running around with weird powers?"
"_We_ don't have to explain anything," said Bobby. "Look at it this way the only people who got seen were villains. Not us. I doubt anyone was taking much notice of you guys stopping things from falling when they were running away from the stadium. So, we can just blame it on, maybe Juggernaut? People have seen him around before."
"As much as I hate to say it Bobby, that makes sense." Jean agreed. "We should be okay. I hope."
"You don't think people might get just a _little_ bit suspicious that something's up?" Spyke demanded.
"They can _suspect_ all they want," Kitty snapped. "No one can _prove_ anything, as long as we make sure that we don't display our powers in any way." She glared meaningfully at the Brotherhood as she said this. "Then we will be fine."
"What's she looking at us for?" Blob asked.
Scott nodded. "In that case, let's get home before the police arrive and we have _really_ interesting questions to answer."
As the X-Men and Brotherhood began to make their respective ways home, Kitty grabbed Lance's elbow. "Hey, thanks for coming."
"S'okay," he grinned. "We didn't wind up _doing_ very much anyway."
"Yeah, but you came, and that's what counts." Kitty kissed him quickly. "See you later!"
Lance waved and smiled goofily. A snickering behind him wiped the smile off and he glared at his teammates. "Oh shut up."
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