Chapter Seven: Confrontation
Disclaimer: All belongs to Marvel. etc, etc, etc. Damn it all.
Words in //slashes// indicate telepathic conversation.
Water sluiced down the windows of the high-rise, expensive New York apartment known to belong to a reclusive millionaire by the name of Byron Biggs. Inside the dimly lit living room Mystique glowered at the torrential rain and sighed irritably.
"How long do I have to remain here?" she asked turning her head to glare at the room's other occupant.
"Just a few more days," Irene said calmly, unruffled by Mystique's anger. She ran her fingers lightly over the braile book on her lap. "Wolverine and Storm will call off their search soon."
"I don't even know why I'm bothering to hide like this," Mystique raged. "Wolverine can't scent me any longer, they wouldn't be able to find me."
"Do you no longer trust my predictions, Raven? I told you that if you..."
"Leave this place they will find me, yes, Irene, I know," Mystique turned away from the window and stared to pace. "It's a good thing I developed this identity years ago," she muttered.
"Really, Raven, you only have yourself to blame," Irene shut her book, blind eyes turning to her friend. "I warned you that posing as Rogue's friend could end badly."
Mystique scowled. "You weren't very specific," she accused and Irene shrugged.
"It's hard, I'm not sure why, but I cannot see your, and Rogue's, path clearly," Irene smiled slightly. "Perhaps I care about you both too much."
Mystique was silent for a moment and then burst out with another question that had been on her mind for days. "What of this powerful mutant, Apocalypse, that you say will have a hand in our destiny?"
Another shrug. "Again, I cannot clearly see what will happen," Irene replied. "All I know is that he will rise and he will affect you and Rogue in some way. Very soon you will have to make a choice to secure your futures."
"And that choice is?"
"I do not know."
Mystique gritted her teeth. "Oh, _that's_ helpful."
There was a subdued silence on the X-copter as all the occupants dwelt on the night's events. Sitting behind Beast, who was piloting, Scott kept twisting round to randomly glare at the Acolytes and most specifically at Erik. Beside him, Jean laid a hand on his arm, keeping him in his seat when the urge to jump up and harangue Erik swept over him. However, Erik probably wouldn't have noticed if Scott was jumping up and down in front of him. The Master of Magnetism had lapsed into a grim brooding silence ever since they left London. He sat, holding his helmet in his hands and staring unseeing at it. Behind him sat the Acolytes, trying not to fidget too much and wearing slightly confused expressions.
//Are you ready to talk about it now, Erik?//
Erik's head jerked up and he stared in Xavier's direction, then his eyes narrowed.
//What is there to talk about, Charles?//
//Oh, the imminent danger we face, what steps we need to take, and your behaviour this evening.//
Erik winced. He _really_ wasn't in the mood for that.
//Would it help if I said I was sorry?//
//_Are_ you sorry?//
//I am sorry that it didn't work out.//
Xavier sighed, causing Beast to glance at him. //You are the most stubborn man I have ever known.//
//Likewise.// Erik exhaled in resignation. //Rather than chew over what happened, shouldn't we be planning how to prevent Mesmero from acquiring the final key?//
//Of course,// Xavier replied smoothly. //Do you have any suggestions?//
//Send a team to investigate all known references to Apocalypse. I know you are uncomfortable with my Acolytes staying at the mansion, so why not send them? They're not completely stupid, and Gambit is extremely skilled at finding things out.//
//An excellent suggestion.//
//And, since I'm sure you're disappointed with my recent behaviour, I can accompany them if you like.//
//Don't be ridiculous Erik, you know you are welcome to stay with us as long as you like.//
Erik's eyebrows shot up.
//After all, now, more than ever, we need to work together in the spirit of mutant cooperation.//
//Oh shut up Charles.// Erik slumped sulkily in his chair. //You just want to keep an eye on me.//
Rogue's eyes were slightly gazed as the torture continued.
"This has been such a life-changing experience for me!" gushed the perky blonde. "I'm so happy to be here, and thrilled to be a part of this wonderful group."
"Where'd they put the barf bag?" Rogue wondered out loud.
"Are you feeling ill again?" Erik asked from the doorway.
"Erik!" Rogue surged up slightly. "Come in, come in!"
Erik quirked an eyebrow at her enthusiastic greeting. "You missed me that much?"
"No, Ah can only get one channel on this TV and they've been showing the last 3 episodes of The Bachelor back-to-back. Ah'm going mad. Turn that stupid thing off and sit down and _talk_ to me."
"With pleasure," Erik suited words to action, before settling down on the bed beside Rogue. "How are you fee..." he spotted the large bouquet of flowers. "Those are nice."
"Yeah, they are, aren't they?" Rogue grinned.
Erik narrowed his eyes. "From Kurt?"
"Yeah, he was real sweet. Came to see me, gave me the flowers and chatted."
"How nice." Erik hoped Rogue couldn't hear him grinding his teeth. "I brought you something too."
He fished a small object out of a pocket. "Here you go."
Rogue blinked. "A key ring?"
"It's from the Tisdale Museum."
"You brought me a key ring." She frowned. "Hey wait a minute, weren't you on a mission? When did you have time to go souvenir shopping?"
"Uh," Erik looked guilty. "Actually, the Museum was closed, and we had to break in. During the whole fiasco, Gambit somehow acquired it."
"You're giving me a _stolen_ key ring?!"
"But at least I'm not the one who stole it."
"No! Your evil minions stole it. Not impressed!"
"Well by the time I knew he'd taken it we were halfway back. What did you expect me to do? And I thought you might like it."
Rogue sighed. "Well it was nice of you to think of me," she said, fiddling with the key ring. "So, why do you call it a fiasco?"
Erik coughed. "Um, I, uh, well, this is sort of what happened..."
Rogue's eyes got wider and wider as Erik described the mission in detail, and the result.
"It's the helmet, right?" she asked when he'd finished. "It's something about that bucket that makes you go all psycho. It's not radioactive or anything is it?"
"I thought I was doing the right thing," Erik said stiffly. "I feel bad enough about this, without you making allegations about my helmet."
"So do the others know yet?"
"Charles is briefing them right now," Erik shifted uncomfortably. "I, uh, wanted you to hear it from me first."
Rogue's glare softened. "Ah appreciate that." She laid a hand on his arm. "You know, we all make mistakes."
"But this one may cost us dearly."
The days wore on and no news of Mesmero was heard. The Acolytes continued to search for information or news of his whereabouts, with the help of Warren Worthington. Beast spent every waking moment researching the legends of En Sabah Nur, with the assistance of the other teachers. All offers by the students to help were politely turned down, Xavier finally explaining that there was relatively little they could do at this stage.
The only excitement was caused by the attacks of a young mutant girl with adamantium bones and an unwarranted grudge against Wolverine. In one night she laid out over half of the Institute, only being stopped when she attempted to attack Erik. He would have dealt with her himself, but was stopped by Wolverine who eventually managed to calm the girl down and helped her get free of her pursuers. The downside of this attack was that Rogue, who had begun to feel better, ended up back down in the infirmary after having absorbed Scott and Ray's powers and memories inadvertently.
Rogue sighed as she lay in bed again. She was heartily sick of the infirmary, but it did have one major advantage: no training sessions with Wolverine.
"How are you feeling today?" Professor Xavier smiled at her.
"Better," she admitted. "Not quite up to full strength, but better."
Xavier paused briefly. "Rogue, I was wondering if you had tried to use your magnetic powers since the original accident."
Rogue tensed. "No. No, not really."
"That's alright," Xavier said calmly. "Take your time, and rejoin us when you're ready."
"Are you _still_ lazing around down here?" Erik said from behind him.
He sighed. "Come on lazybones. At this rate your muscles will atrophy and you'll turn into a female Blob."
"ARE YOU SAYING AH'M FAT??!!"
"Of course not." He brushed past Xavier, who was staring at him in shock, and scooped Rogue out of the bed. "Come on, it's a beautiful day out there, why don't you go and see Wanda. You've missed a lot of school you know, she might be able to help you catch up."
"Ah hate you! Put me down, put me down, PUT ME DOWN!" Rogue kicked her feet and punched him in the shoulder.
"Ow! Well, you seem healthy enough to _me_," he said. "Excuse us, Charles. Behave Rogue, or I'll just sling you over a shoulder."
"I'm Magneto, Master of Magnetism and the ultimate evil mutant. Of course I would."
Rogue choked. "Scumbag," she finally managed.
Rogue started to giggle as he carried her up the stairs. "Oh all right, but at least let me walk."
"Why? I'm rather enjoying this."
"ERIK! Erik, don't carry me outside, everyone's going to look at us!"
"It's _embarrassing_. And Ah'm still in mah pyjamas!"
"And very fetching they are too." Erik grinned at her, an evil glint in his eyes. "Consider it revenge for all the times you teased _me_."
"Ah don't have any gloves on! Ah don't have any _shoes_ on!"
"I guess I'll just have to keep carrying you then."
Outside, the older X-Men were watching the New Mutants play mutant basketball, one of the most destructive sports in the known world, when their attention was attracted by an indignant yell.
"That sounded like Rogue," Kitty said, twisting around. "Oh my GOD!"
"What?" Kurt stared. "What is he doing with my sister?"
"Good morning everybody," Erik said casually, walking up to them. "Mind if we join you?"
Kitty giggled. "Go right ahead."
"Kurt!" Rogue begged. "Rescue me from this jerk!"
Kurt smirked. "Oh but I wouldn't want to interfere in my big sister's personal life."
"You all suck," Rogue snarled as Erik gently set her down on the benches next to Kitty.
"So, who's winning?" Erik asked Evan.
"Sam's team is ahead on points, but Ray's is ahead on style."
"They shouldn't be playing like this at all," Scott grumbled.
"Oh lighten up," Kurt said. "Look it at this way, if they exhaust themselves on the courts now, they'll be too tired to pull anything during dinner."
"You have a very good point there."
"See, isn't this nice?" Erik asked Rogue.
"Ah still hate you."
Jean approached the benches, carrying some drinks. "I brought the... Rogue, what are you doing outside in your pyjamas?"
"Sleep walking," Rogue said snarkily.
"There's no need to be like that," Jean snapped back. "I was just asking a question."
Rogue glared and shut up, surreptitiously trying to tidy her hair at the same time. Jean, of course, looked perfect.
For a while they concentrated on the game, until a time out was called after a particularly destructive foul.
"So Rogue, are you feeling better now," Jean asked, trying to defuse the tension.
"Yeah, Ah guess so," Rogue said.
"Do you still have your magnetic powers?"
Rogue scowled and the others flinched. No one had dared ask before now.
"I don't know."
"You haven't tried?"
"In case it's escaped your notice, _Ms_ Grey, Ah've been in the infirmary, and in no condition to go around straining anything."
"Rogue, I'm only asking because we need to know if we can rely on you in a fight," Jean explained in a patient tone of voice.
"You can ALWAYS rely on me in a fight," Rogue snapped back. "But Ah don't have to tell you everything about mah life."
"But things like this are important," Jean insisted. "For example, if you'd told us when your powers started going crazy, we could have helped."
"You mean like _you_ did?"
"Oooooh, burned," muttered Kitty.
"Sssh! Don't draw attention," Kurt hissed.
"Professor Xavier and I _did_ discuss it!" Jean said defensively. "It wasn't my fault. I'm just amazed you didn't notice anything odd before the concert. When my powers started evolving, I kept hearing people's voices in my head and moving things without realising it."
Rogue fidgeted and then admitted it. "Ah did sort of notice it, but Ah thought it would go away."
"You thought it would go AWAY! That's so stupid! I just don't understand why you didn't tell us," Jean pressed further, her long-privately-held annoyance with Rogue beginning to surface. "We're your teammates! We're your friends! You should always tell us when something's going strange with your power. At least to Professor Xavier! Or do you only tell _Erik_ important things these days?"
"Erik's mah friend!" Rogue shot back. "Of course Ah talk to him!"
"Uh," Erik tried to interrupt.
"Is he more important than us?" Jean asked loudly. "You spend all of your time with him! You practically never even talk to the rest of us anymore."
"She talks to me!" Kurt interjected, but was unheard.
"Ah do _too_ talk to you. Ah just don't jabber on and on and ON about stupid boring things like soccer and debating! And Ah like spending time with him because he's mah friend and Ah enjoy his company!" Rogue screamed back.
"More than you like hanging out with us?" Jean demanded, hanging on to the last shreds of her temper.
For the first time in X-Men history, Jean Grey lost her temper. "You ungrateful brat!" she screamed, the cry drawing the attention of the New Mutants. "We've been your friends for years and stood by you through everything even when you were with the BROTHERHOOD! What's so great about him? How can you throw us all over for a guy?
"Jean!" Scott tried to intervene. "Rogue! Both of you! Calm down and let's discuss this like adults!"
"This is nothing to do with Erik!" Rogue screeched, ignoring Scott completely.
"YES IT IS!" Jean screamed back. "You haven't been the same since he came here! You let him get close to you you never let the rest of us get near you! I've TRIED to be your friend..."
"Oh, THANKS for the great honour your grace," Rogue spat. "What makes you think I WANT to be friends with YOU?"
"You've NEVER liked me, have you?" Jean demanded. "It's because you're jealous!"
"JEALOUS!" Everyone winced at Rogue's scream. "Of YOU?!! Why would I want to be a stuck-up, manipulating, bimbo PRINCESS PRIMA DONNA!"
"Maybe because it's better than being a WEIRDO OUTCAST WANNA-BE GOTH!"
The benches rattled.
Clearing his throat, Scott decided once more to try and intervene before things went any further. A hand came down on his shoulder.
"Much as I'd find it amusing to watch them beat you up," Erik said quietly into one of his ears. "They're so angry they'd probably kill you if you tried to interfere right now, so I'd suggest shutting up and hoping they don't notice you."
Scott shut up.
Jean and Rogue continued to scream at each other, as the assembled X-Men and New Mutants watched in horror.
"How could you possibly understand, Miss Perfect?" Rogue screamed. "You'll NEVER have my problems! You want us to get _closer_? Do you have ANY idea what that means? Do you WANT me to drain you like Ah drained Zaladane! Ah don't! Ah've had enough people in my head! Ah _can't_ get close to ANYONE, EVER! Can't touch, can't hold, can't kiss, can't have a relationship! Yes, Erik can touch me, and Ah'd be lying if Ah said that wasn't a factor in my interest in him. But what other options do Ah have? Standing outside the window watching you and Scott making eyes at each other?"
"Scott and I are just friends!" Jean shouted. "And there's no reason to think that someday we might find a way for you to..."
"SOME DAY??? When will that be exactly?" Rogue demanded. "Next week, next year, NEVER?!! No one's worked out how my powers work yet. Not Mystique, not the Professor, not YOU! Maybe there ISN'T any way to turn them off, maybe Ah'll NEVER know another humans touch. It's easy to be optimistic when you already HAVE everything you want, AND MORE! You may SAY that you and Scott are just friends, but we've ALL seen the way you look at each other. And if you REALLY aren't interested, then cut him loose and quit acting like a jealous cat every time someone ELSE tries to show an interest in him!"
"YOU LEAVE SCOTT OUT OF THIS!" Jean yelled. "This is about ERIK!"
"YOU LEAVE _ERIK_ OUT OF THIS!" Rogue yelled back. "This is about US! All the time Ah've been here Ah've had to watch YOU get all the attention and all the praise. 'Jean's so perfect, Jean's so wonderful. Rogue, why can't you be more like Jean?'"
"It's not LIKE that," Jean defended. "If YOU would just make a little effort to try and fit in more..."
"You mean be more like you!"
"That's not what I'm saying!"
"THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT YOU'RE SAYING!" Rogue screeched, her voice cracking on the last syllable.
"You're just being stubborn!" Jean shouted.
"And you're being deliberately blind!" Rogue shot back. "You just won't _listen_!"
Jean struggled with herself. "I've had enough of this," she said, making an effort to speak normally. "There's clearly no talking to you right now." She turned on her heel and began to walk away from the benches.
Rogue trembled with rage. "That's right," she spat back. "Just ignore Rogue, she's being irrational. Not like _Jean_." There was so much venom in her tone that the name came out like a curse. "Because the sun would fall out of the sky before Jean was wrong. Well the hell with you!" She turned on her heel and headed for the gardens.
"Rogue..." Kurt looked after his sister.
"I'll go," Erik said hurriedly, and sprinted after her.
The other X-Men looked at each other. "Should we go after Jean then?" Kitty asked nervously.
"I'll do it..." Scott began.
//That's alright Scott,// the Professor's voice echoed in their minds. //I need to discuss this with Jean. The rest of you, get some rest.//
"Yeah, sure, cos that'll be easy," Kitty muttered as the Professor's mental presence left. "Nothing to see here folks, just move along."
Stomping up the back steps, Jean barely heard the Professor. //Jean, could you come to my office please?//
Jean altered her direction and went to the Professor's office door. Pausing outside it, she took a deep breath and tried to calm down. "You... wanted to see me Professor?" She said, trying to appear normal, as she entered the room.
"Please take a seat," Professor Xavier watched her come in and sit down.
"I... I take it you heard the... argument," Jean said, a blush coming to her face as she remembered how she'd been screaming.
"I don't think there's anyone in Bayville who _missed_ it," Xavier said dryly. "Allow me to congratulate you on a very strong pair of lungs."
"It's all the sports," Jean said lamely, wiping at the tears that began to pour down her cheeks. "I... I guess I didn't handle it very well did I?" She managed to get out, before bursting into tears.
Xavier waited for her to bring herself under control again. "Have a glass of water Jean," he said gently. "There's a carafe on the sideboard."
Jean gratefully soothed her burning throat with the ice cold water, and tried to regain her poise.
"Jean, do you know why you're so upset?" Xavier's voice was very gentle.
She shook her head mutely.
"It's not because you lost your temper," he said, "it's because you have a suspicion that some of the things that Rogue said to you are true."
"So are some of the things I said to her!" Jean defended herself, before stopping suddenly, exhausted from her earlier fight. "Sorry Professor."
"It's alright Jean," Xavier sighed. "I should be the one apologising. I should have spent more time trying to avert this event, although I doubt I could have."
Jean stared at him, and he chuckled lightly. "Oh Jean," he said, "you and Rogue have been on a collision course since you first met. Despite your differences, you're both so similar in some ways, most notably in the way you both bottle up your true feelings inside. It was inevitable that someday something would happen to finally cause those feelings to explode, it was just fortunate that it happened at home and not in a combat situation."
Jean sat down again, staring at him blankly. "You mean, you KNEW we'd fight?" Her voice was incredulous. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Some things are inevitable," Xavier said. "You're both very strong-willed young women living in a stressful environment with some repressed emotions and a lot of personality conflicts. Of course you were going to clash eventually. But now that you've both finally gotten those opinions and feelings out into the open, you can get to work on trying to deal with them. There was nothing I could do before both of you said out loud what the problem was. It's rather like lancing a boil, I'm afraid. Painful, and it may leave a scar, but necessary all the same."
"I don't understand," Jean said, staring at her hands. "We said such terrible things to each other."
Xavier sighed. "And they were all the more painful because they were true, if somewhat exaggerated. You have a naturally high sense of ambition and a demand for excellence. Failing to connect with Rogue was a terrible irritation to you, all the more so because you couldn't understand why not. Rogue sees you as being the person who has everything that she wants, and can't have, so she naturally resents you for that. Add to the fact that you're both so different in tastes and styles, and that for a while you both, er, had an interest in the same man..."
Jean went red, but didn't interrupt.
"And the conflict was, as I said, inevitable," Xavier concluded. "And now it's happened, and we all must deal with the aftermath."
Jean wouldn't meet his eyes. "I'm so ashamed," she admitted. "I can't believe I lost it like that."
"Let it go Jean," Xavier counselled her. "The best thing you can do now is to try and deal with the results of the fight. Both you and Rogue have legitimate complaints against each other, and the only way you can deal with them is by talking it out. You've opened up a dialogue tonight. Rather loudly admittedly, but the first step to dealing with a problem is by admitting that there IS one. Now you know it's there, it's up to you to fix it. I know you won't let me down."
Jean stood up, and hesitated. "What about Erik?"
"Erik is not relevant to this," Xavier said firmly. "He is still a member of the X-Men, and I expect you all to treat him as one."
"Yes Professor," Jean said humbly. She left the room, intending to go and find Rogue and apologise.
As the door closed, the Professor sighed. *Erik, I hope you justify my faith in you tonight,* he thought, staring out the window. *And I hope your feelings for Rogue are as strong as I think they are, because they're the only thing that can prevent her from making a terrible mistake.*
*Even if it does mean the end of your relationship.*
Rogue stormed along, Erik following her. Finally he caught up with her, in a private part of the garden.
"Ah can't believe that cow," Rogue spat venomously. "Where does she get off? Who the hell does she think she is? Sanctimonious Princess Perfect! Nothing ever goes wrong in HER beautiful life does it? Nooo, everything's always perfect for Jean Grey, it's alright for Jean, perfect, perfect Jean." She sniffed and dashed her hand across her eyes to wipe away the tears. "Well, Ah don't need her OR her prissy life and stupid boyfriends."
Erik felt that they had finally reached a safe point at which to make a comment. "That's right Rogue," he said tentatively. "You're fine just the way you are."
"Damn right Ah am! We don't need her! We don't need any of them!" Rogue's tone was defiant, but she was watching Erik nervously out of the corner of her eyes. She turned to face him and clasped her hands together anxiously. "Do we?" She asked, biting her lip. "Erik?"
"What do you mean by that Rogue?" Erik asked carefully.
"Ah mean, we... we could go away. Leave all of them. Together," Rogue reached up with one hand and stroked the side of his face. "You... you could go back to your secret headquarters, wherever they are, and... and Ah could come with you. Ah could be an Acolyte, and we could be together." Her other hand reached out to caress his chest and she slowly leaned in closer to him, tilting her head upwards and sliding the hand on his chest around to bring him closer to her. "It could be... nice together," she barely whispered.
Erik kept himself perfectly still as Rogue pressed herself against him. Taking that as acceptance, Rogue slid the hand she'd been using to caress his face around to the back of his head and began to bring his lips down to meet hers.
Erik hovered for what felt like a lifetime above her face as hormones surged through his body and let him know in no uncertain terms what they wanted to happen next. And wasn't this what he'd always wanted, he thought to himself, wasn't this his dream? He could have it all: be the Master of Magnetism again, get away from the whole stupid school situation and his annoying offspring, and go back to what he truly believed in mutant supremacy. And he could do it all without giving up Rogue. He could have her too. One of the most powerful mutants of this generation on his team, by his side, in his bed...
"No!" Erik jerked backwards out of Rogue's grip. "No," he repeated again. "Rogue, this isn't right."
Rogue was shocked. "What... what do you mean?" She didn't understand it, he'd definitely responded to her then, why was he doing this?
"I can't do this. I... I just can't." Erik fumbled for words. "It's not right. You don't really mean any of this. You're upset and angry and you don't know what you're saying."
"Ah DO know what Ah'm..."
"NO YOU DON'T!" Erik shouted. "Rogue, you're still young, so very young, and I don't want you to throw everything away because of me. You have your whole life ahead of you."
"My LIFE?!" Rogue shrieked. "What kind of like do Ah have to look forward to? Always on the outside, twice cursed by mutanthood, AH HAVE NO LIFE!"
"Yes you do," Erik said. "You're beautiful and intelligent and powerful and you have so much potential it scares me. But right now you're angry and hurting and you just want to hurt them all back, and if we leave now and you join me they'll never trust you again and you'll never be able to come back. And you'll want to you don't believe in the Cause and you _certainly_ don't believe that I'm right about it! But you'll be trapped in a life you didn't really want and you'll hate me for it and you'll hate _yourself_ for it. Rogue, I _can't_ accept your offer."
Silence fell after he'd finished. Rogue stared at him with huge eyes, filling with tears.
"I'm sorry," Erik said lamely. "I wish I could, but I can't."
Without a word, Rogue turned on her heel and fled back towards the mansion.
Professor Xavier's words still ringing in her ears, Jean was the first to spot Rogue as she nearly threw herself through the front door.
"Rogue! Please wait, I wanted to apologi..."
Rogue paused and stared at her. Jean was taken aback by how pale and strained she looked. "Are you okay? Are you having a relapse?"
"He doesn't love me," Rogue said very tightly, through gritted teeth. "Ah went to him and he said no! He thinks Ah'm just a kid and he doesn't love me!" She gripped Jean's arm.
"Oh boy," Jean said, wincing as Rogue's grip tightened. Rogue was so upset that her thoughts were yelling loudly enough to penetrate Jean's shielding, and the redhead had no trouble grasping the situation. "There, there Rogue, it's gonna be alright," she tried to soothe the distraught girl.
"What's going on?" Kurt teleported into the foyer. "Rogue? What is...?"
"Kurt, OUT!" Jean said firmly. "Go tell Kitty to come here, and then tell everyone else to stay out of the foyer!"
"But what's happened?"
Jean led Rogue over to the sofa against the wall, and sat down with her, carefully making sure her hands didn't come into contact with Rogue's bare skin. Rogue let out a hiccup and silent tears began to trickle down her face.
A few minutes later, Kitty ran through the closed door. "What's wrong?" She asked.
Rogue let out a particularly loud sob.
"Erik turned Rogue down," Jean said.
"What? Oh. Oooohhhhhh..." Kitty said as comprehension dawned. "Uh, why don't we go upstairs to our room? I'll tell the other girls, and they'll bring the ice cream."
"He hates me," Rogue whispered.
"LOTS of ice cream," Kitty said. "Meet you up there in five."
"Invite Wanda," Rogue sniffed. "I need to be mean about Erik."
"Ah, and you want to call in the expert."
"Just call her already."
"Well, that went well," said Erik to nobody in particular. "Now Rogue hates me too. Why am I here again?"
"Alright, what did you do?"
Erik sighed. "Oh, hello Kurt."
"Don't hello Kurt me," Kurt waved the ornamental sword he'd grabbed at him menacingly. "What did you do?"
"Can you be more specific? I seem to have done a lot of things lately."
"What did you do to _Rogue_," Kurt enunciated.
"Oh, that." Erik fell silent.
"Put it this way Kurt, would you want your sister to leave?"
"No," Kurt looked bewildered. "What are you asking me that for?"
"Because if I had done what she asked me to, I would have taken her away."
"Huh?" Kurt thought about it for a moment and lowered the sword. "Oh. She was _that_ angry?"
"You have no idea."
"Actually I have a pretty good idea," Kurt sighed. "She's scary when she's angry."
Erik slumped down onto the ground and rubbed his forehead. "She now believes I have rejected her advances, which I did, but not in the way that she thinks."
"Can't you have a simple relationship with _anybody_?" Kurt moaned.
"Obviously not," Erik sighed. "Perhaps I should just leave."
"No! Don't go!" Kurt was shocked. "I thought you liked it here!"
"To some degree I do, but I am sure you would agree I am not the most popular person here."
"What are you talking about? Of course you're popular! Evan and I like you, the New Mutants adore you, Rahne has an amazing crush on you. Sure you fight with Scott and Jean, but so what? Not everyone gets along with everyone. There are days when I want to teleport Roberto into a large cold lake, but that doesn't mean I want him to leave." Kurt said in exasperation. "Trust the fuzzy one. Just because we have to work together in the shared spirit blah blah, doesn't mean we all have to swear undying friendship and promise never to fight in our entire lives. We're only human."
Erik stared at him. "Right"
"You should listen to him, father," a new voice intervened.
Erik shot to his feet. "Wanda."
"Hello," Wanda walked into the clearing, carrying a very large tub of cookie dough ice cream. "I hear you and Rogue had words earlier."
"Word spreads faster than your brother I see," Erik sighed.
"Well you know, it's these wonderful new inventions they have these days called 'telephones'."
Kurt snickered. "What's the ice cream for?"
"Oh, apparently we're getting together for a bitching session about him," Wanda jerked a thumb in Erik's direction.
Erik lifted an eyebrow. "Oh great."
"Oh don't worry about it. It'll be good to help Rogue get over her anger and probably forgive you tomorrow."
"Forgive?" Erik was getting exasperated. "I was _trying_ to help her!"
"Yes, but you're a man so you said it the wrong way. It's not your fault. It's the way you guys are."
"Thanks," Kurt and Erik said in sarcastic unison.
Wanda smiled sweetly at the two of them. "Now, if you'll excuse me, this ice cream is starting to melt. I'll see you in the morning, father. And you should stay. I think this place is good for you. It's grown you a conscience." She waved and walked away.
"Alright, _that_ was frightening," Kurt said.
"You're telling _me_?"
Kurt shook himself. "Hey, you know what we should do?"
"I dread to ask."
"We should have a boys night out!"
"Well, the girls are all in with the ice cream and god knows I would not want to get in their way right now, so the boys should all go out and get... root beer." Kurt began pacing around as the idea took further hold. "We can invite the other guys, go to a movie, you could bring Pietro, although if you do we will have to make sure that someone sits on Evan, but if we take Lance then he can take care of it"
"When exactly did all of the teams become one?" Erik asked snidely.
"About two weeks ago. We took a vote. You weren't included." Kurt winked. "Come on, those guys aren't too bad. Except at cleaning. And personal hygiene in reference to Toad. And Blob. Okay, you go get the X-van, and I will make the calls."
Kurt bamfed away before Erik could say another word.
"But I don't have a licence!" Erik cried into the uncaring air. "I can't drive without... wait a minute. Yes I can. I'm evil! Sort of. I can drive without a licence. Yeah."
Back at the New York penthouse apartment, Irene started to laugh.
Go on to Chapter Eight
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