Part One: Tuesday
Chemistry, Shakespeare and New Friendships
Disclaimer: All belongs to Marvel. etc, etc, etc.
Authors notes: This is an AU ending to Season 2 and the timeline begins during the first half of 'Hex Factor', with references to 'Operation Rebirth' - where events have been changed for the purposes of this story (and will be explained - don't worry! ).
Words in //slashes// indicate telepathic conversation.
"Good morning!" Jean beamed at Rogue as the skunk-haired teen wandered into the breakfast room. "Did you sleep well?"
"Uhn," was all Rogue said in reply. There were times when she really hated the popular red-head and this was one of them. Rogue was not a morning person and found people who were very annoying. Seating herself, she grabbed some pancakes and then scanned the breakfast table for the maple syrup. *Darn... right at the bottom of the table...* she glared at the offending metal jug, *Wish I had Jean's powers, could just...*
Jean almost dropped her fork at Rogue's yell. "What? What?"
Rogue blinked, the maple syrup jug held in her trembling hands. "Ummm... nothing... I just thought I saw a... a mouse."
"Eek!" Kitty, who had just entered, leapt onto a chair. "Where?"
"Ah guess Ah was mistaken... sorry."
Kitty got down of her chair and looked around nervously. “Like, I hope so. Ugh... mice...” then she winced, waiting for Rogue to heap scorn on her fear.
For once, Rogue didn’t make an insulting remark, instead she just stared at the maple syrup jug with a perplexed expression on her face. *Okay... how...? Oh Ah KNOW how, but... the Prof said... oh man... this is NOT good. But Ah’m not gonna panic... not until tonight, if this power’s still around by then Ah’ll panic...*
Kitty frowned and then shrugged. So she’d been spared the edge of Rogue’s sharp tongue this time, unusual, but not unwelcome. She grabbed some fruit salad and museli and sat down to eat. The rest of the X-team poured in, chattering in some cases, yawning loudly in others. Morning greetings were exchanged by all, except for Rogue who was still musing on her new (and so far secret) powers while munching her pancakes. However, no one was too surprised by Rogue’s silence as the goth girl didn’t usually join in much of the breakfast chatter.
Then Rogue suddenly glanced at the clock on the wall.
"Oh mah gosh," she turned and sprinted up the stairs.
"Rogue!" Jean called after her.
"What's with HER this morning?" Kitty asked.
Rogue ran along the corridor, past Scott and Evan's rooms. They must have put him in the remaining empty... here!
"Hey!" She banged on the door. "Magneto! Wake up!" Hang on a sec, his name was... ummm... oh yeah.
"ERIK! Erik wake up! You're going to make us late! ERIIIKKK!!!"
In the room, Erik frowned and finished tying his shoelaces. Who on earth was banging on his door like that?
"ERIK! Get your lazy butt out here!"
Grumbling, he went to the door and opened it, and was confronted by a vividly coloured face.
"AAGGGHHH!!!" He screamed.
Rogue panted and yelled at him. "Do you know what time it is?"
"Who ARE you?" Erik demanded. "Why are you banging on my door? What do you want? And why is your face like that? Oh, I'm sorry," he paused, suddenly concerned. "Is that part of your mutation?"
Rogue steamed. "It is part of mah MAKE-UP, mah name is Rogue, Ah'm s'posed to show you the ropes and help yah out, and Ah'm bangin' on your door because you're gonna make us both late for school!"
"Yes! School! You know, the place where yah learn things?"
"Wait, I remember you. You were the one in the fight yesterday."
"Yes, yes, now come on!"
Rogue dragged Erik out the door and down the stairs. At the foot of the stairs Ororo handed them both a pack.
"Erik, I've packed some notebooks and pens for you, as well as lunch," she told him as he was hauled past. "Let me have a list of schoolbooks you need when you get back this evening and I'll get them for you tomorrow."
"Thanks," Erik said, taking the pack hastily. "Hold on a moment won't you?" He demanded of Rogue.
"No! Ah'm not gonna be late because of you!"
“You’d better hurry,” Storm advised. “Scott and the others are already in the car.”
"But I haven't had breakfast yeMMMMPH!" Erik attempted to shake free of Rogue's hold, remove the muffin she'd just shoved in his mouth, and put on his coat and backpack at the same time. He failed.
"Scott! SCOOOOTTTT!!! Don't ya dare ignore me! Give us a lift!" Rogue shouted, towing Erik along. "SCOOOTTT!!! Aw dammit." She watched his car accelerate away, and turned to Erik. "Aren't you ready yet?"
Erik glared at her.
“Fine, we’ll just have to take the bus!” Rogue grumbled, ignoring him. “Come on!”
“Argh!” Erik was nearly pulled off his feet. “Let go!” he demanded, stumbling along after her, still trying to sort himself out. “I can walk unaided!”
Rogue scowled and abruptly let go of his wrist, almost causing him to overbalance and fall on his face. “Jus’ keep up!” she snapped. She looked up and snarled.
"Oh no, the BUS!" Rogue sprinted down the street. "Pick up the pace Erik, darn it, I can't afford another tardy!"
Erik sprinted alongside Rogue, but the bus was pulling away. Reaching out with his magnetic powers, he gave it a slight tug, just enough to slow it down so that they could catch it. Beside him, Rogue did the same thing, albeit slightly more clumsily. Still, either of them would have been successful. Unfortunately, BOTH of them...
With a loud *CLUNK* the back half of the bus jerked backwards and somehow snapped clear of the front half. Screaming students scrambled frantically to avoid being spilled into the street as the bus driver stomped on what brakes remained. In two pieces, the bus came finally to a halt.
Erik and Rogue stared at the broken bus in stunned silence for a full minute before Erik cleared his throat and turned to Rogue.
"So," he said casually, "You have magnetic powers too?"
"I see," Erik said as he followed Rogue and the rest of the students who had been on the bus through the school gates. "So you steal other mutants powers and use them as your own?"
"Ah don't _steal_," Rogue said defensively. "Ah _borrow_."
Erik arched an eyebrow. "What's the difference?"
"There's a BIG difference," Rogue said. "Ah can't STAND people who steal."
"Uh huh," Erik let it go. "So that's what you were doing yesterday. I thought it was some sort of psychic attack gone wrong."
Rogue shook her head. "Never borrowed telepathy before. Just strength, some eye blasts, ooh... Ah got teleportation once, that was fun. Earthquakes," she ticked the mutant powers off on her gloved fingers. "Super-speed, phasing, weather too, though Ah couldn't control that one. But maybe that was cos Ah already had another one."
"You can do more than one at a time?" Erik was surprised, and a little impressed.
"One, two, three, don't matter. Although after two Ah start to get all confused. Oh, shapeshifting! Forgot that one. Ah think that's it." She sighed. "And now magnetism."
Erik frowned as they walked up the school steps. "You seem nervous about that."
Rogue looked around nervously and then stepped closer to him. "It's never lasted this long before," she said quietly. "Normally, Ah keep the powers only a coupla minutes, sometimes even less, it usually depends on how long Ah hold on. But Ah've never held on for as long as with that Zaladane woman, and Ah didn't really want to, her mind was horrible. Ah'm... nervous is all. It's been hours, and... they're still here."
Erik patted her shoulder. Carefully. "I wouldn't worry about it," he said. "It's probably just because of prolonged exposure. It's not like you have anything to compare this to after all."
"You're right," Rogue said. "The Professor said the same thing." She pushed open the door to her class.
"Hey, maybe you should start keeping track of how long each 'borrowing' lasts," Erik suggested as he followed her inside. "It might be increasing exponential to the amount of time you hold on."
"That's a good idea, I'll..."
Rogue’s eyes widened. She had been so caught up in the conversation that it didn’t register that they had just walked in on a full class and the teacher was already behind the desk.
“Uh... uh... Mr Lawrence, Ah’m sorry,” she said. “But the bus...”
"Yes, I heard about the bus and I accept that, but this young man seems to be intent on following you to class, and I'm fairly sure we have rules about that," Lawrence said with an undercurrent of humour.
"Oh yeah, this is Erik, he's new," Rogue explained.
Lawrence raised his eyebrow at her. "Then shouldn't you take him to the Office?" he smiled. “I’ll make sure you get the notes on what you miss.”
"Uh, yeah sure, thanks. This way Erik."
Rogue’s agitation was further increased when she noticed the entire class staring was at her and Erik, many of them smirking.
"What?" she demanded. "Sheesh. C'mon Erik."
As they left, Duncan Matheson leaned over to Scott and whispered, "Wow, the new guy works _fast_."
"Yes, he certainly does," Scott gritted out.
Duncan snickered. “What’s the matter, Summers? You jealous? Didn’t think Goth girl was your type.”
“Shut up, Matheson,” Scott stared fixedly at his chemistry book. “She’s just my friend.” *And that guy is _Magneto_...*
“Man, this day is turning into an absolute nightmare,” Rogue grumbled as she led Erik into the school office. “What more could go wrong?”
Erik watched as Rogue closed her eyes and groaned softly. “Great... jus’ great...” she turned and greeted the boy who had hailed her. “Hello Lance, ya already in trouble or somethin’?”
Lance Alvers attempted to look innocent. “Who me?” he looked curiously at Erik. “Who’s this?” he asked. “Another goody-good recruit?” the long-haired boy frowned slightly. “He looks kinda familiar...”
Rogue scowled. “None of your business, Alvers!” she gave Erik a shove. “C’mon, let’s go.”
“Will you stop ordering me about?” Erik shook her hand off. “I am perfectly capable of...”
Erik jumped back slightly. “Where the hell did you come from?”
Pietro smiled wickedly. “If-you-got-to-ask-I’m-not-telling!”
Lance’s frown deepened as he looked from his team mate to Erik. “Wait a second...”
“Hey! Lady! I need some forms and stuff!” Rogue banged on the office desk. The secretary bustled out, her face set in an expression of disapproval. “No need to shout,” she scolded. “I can hear you just fine.”
“What is all the racket?” Principal Kelly burst out of his office. “Oh no... Alvers and Maximoff AGAIN?” he sighed. Then he spotted Rogue. “And what have you done now, young lady? Skipped class again?”
“NO!” Rogue yelled. At Kelly’s shocked look, she checked herself and lowered her voice. “Ah mean... this is a new student, suh. He needs to be...”
“Oh, this would be Erik Magnus?” Kelly smiled. “Professor Xavier left a message that I was to expect him. Estelle, please give Mr Magnus the necessary forms and there should be a timetable available.”
“Yes, Mr Kelly,” the secretary was all sweetness.
“As for you two boys...” Kelly opened his office door. “Inside.”
Five minutes later, as they were walking back to chemistry, Erik raised the point that had been niggling at him.
“Rogue, are those two boys we met also mutants?”
“But they don’t live at the Institute?”
“Is there a reason?”
“Are you going to tell me?”
“I thought you were supposed to be helping me!” Erik snapped. “All this evasion is...”
“Ah’m only not explaining NOW because we’re just about to reach the classroom again!” Rogue interrupted. “Ah’ll tell you later, okay? You think you can control yourself, hmmm?” she pushed open the door.
“Welcome back,” Mr Lawrence grinned at them. “Everything sorted out, Erik?”
“Good! Now we’ve just finished off discussing what we did yesterday – I’m sure Scott will be able to fill you both in – and are just about to begin a new experiment: Miniature Explosions with Hydrogen Gas Bubbles...”
Erik let out an audible sigh and rolled his eyes. “Huh... child’s play,” he muttered.
“Oh really?” Lawrence had sharp hearing. “Would you like to explain the elements needed and the procedure then?”
This request, which would have most normal students groaning, didn’t faze Erik in the slightest. “Certainly,” he said, getting up and walking to the head of the class. “First you require a syringe full of oxygen...”
Rogue listened, open-mouthed, as Erik casually reeled off ingredients, as he started on the procedure (and mentioned the safety precautions), she glanced over at Scott who was also looking stunned. Her team leader looked back at her and mouthed, “How the hell does he know this if he’s lost his memory?”, but all Rogue could do was shrug. Finally Erik finished, a smug, rather superior smirk on his face that Rogue longed to wipe off.
Lawrence blinked a couple of times and then recovered his wits. “Well... ah... thank you, Erik. Alright class, get into pairs and I want you to perform the experiment, answering the pre-lab questions that I’ve written on the board...”
Erik looked at Rogue and started to move towards her, just as Scott, a stony expression on his face, got to his feet. Rogue viewed the approaching boys with a feeling nearing panic. Whoever she chose as a lab partner, one was going to be miffed. She frowned. How DARE they put her in this position!
“Sorry I’m late, teach!”
Rogue’s salvation stood in the door, a grin curling her lips and a note held in her hands that she tossed to Lawrence. “My train from New York got held up this morning,” Risty Wilde explained. “So I asked the conductor to write this note – it’s okay, right?”
Lawrence scanned the note quickly and nodded. “That’s fine, Risty, and you’re just in time for the experiment, so grab a lab partner quickly.”
“Sure!” Risty swivelled round and zoomed over to Rogue’s side. “Got one!”
Rogue sighed in relief. Scott and Erik scowled.
"Hmm..." Lawrence surveyed his class. "Well, it looks like we have one extra person... Erik, Scott and Duncan you three work together, okay?" There was a gleam of amusement in his eyes as the three boys looked at each other. Grimly, Scott and Erik sat down facing each other with Duncan, looking a little puzzled, sitting beside Scott.
"Alright, safety goggles on, everyone," Lawrence waved his in the air.
"Ah'm so glad ya made it, Risty!" Rogue said, putting on her goggles. "Ah... Risty?" she nudged her friend. "What's up?"
Risty was frozen, her eyes glued on Erik. She blinked when Rogue nudged her. "Uh... wha? Oh!" she laughed. "I was just wondering who the new kid was..."
"Oh, that's just Erik," Rogue said dismissively.
"'Just' Erik?" Risty raised her eyebrows at her friend. "You seem awfully familiar to be bored with him already!"
Rogue made a face as she put on her goggles and reviewed the experiment. "He's a new boy at the Institute as well."
"Ooooohhh..." Risty said. "So you've already called dibs then? Since you're gonna be living with him, that is."
"Oh _please_, why would ANYONE want someone as arrogant as he is?" Rogue sniffed. "Thinks he's such hot stuff just because he knows lots about chemistry and has magneti... uh, uh... a magnetic personality."
"He looks pretty hot stuff to me," Risty said archly. "Well if you don't want him, will you introduce me after class?"
"Sure. Whatever. What are we supposed to add next?"
Over at the boys’ table, things weren't going so amicably.
"Erik, why don't YOU add the next ingredient?" Scott said.
"No Scott, I've ALREADY explained the experiment, so why don't YOU do it," Erik replied.
"Oh but you're obviously so GOOD at this!" Scott glared at Erik.
"Yes, and the only way YOU'LL learn is by doing!" Erik shot back.
"What's THAT supposed to mean?"
"Well if you don't know that EITHER maybe I should explain it in more detail!"
"What a great idea! You can explain it to me AFTER SCHOOL!"
"Oh why wait? It won't take me long to explain it to you at LUNCHTIME!"
Duncan stared at both guys, who were now standing up, fists clenched and faces barely apart.
"I don't know what's wrong with you two," he said in puzzlement. "If it's such a big deal, I'LL add the next item."
So saying, he picked up the tongs and dropped the nearest crystal into the vial.
Scott and Erik swung around and stared in horror.
"NOT THAT ONE!!!"
There was a long silence.
"Right. So Erik, Duncan and Scott on clean-up duty then."
“What was all _that_ about?” Risty asked as she and Rogue exited the classroom. She winked. “Sound like they were fighting about _you_, girlfriend!”
“No way!” snapped Rogue, glaring at her friend. “They were just being… _guys_. Ah had nothing to do with it.”
“Uh-huh, Suuuure…” Risty grinned wickedly. “That’s not what I see!”
“Oh for… Can’t ya just drop it, Risty? Ah’m having a bad enough day as it is without you making insinuations!”
“Sorry!” Risty couldn’t quite conceal a smirk. “Hey, I better get to class… see you at lunch?”
“Oh, yes… you’ll be showing _Erik_ around,” Risty said. “Well, I won’t interrupt! See you later.”
“That’s not what Ah… argh!” Rogue gave up and stomped off towards her next class.
“Rogue, wait up!” Erik called. She rolled her eyes and muttered under her breath, but slowed down enough for him to catch up with her.
“You cleaned up awful quick,” she observed. “What did ya do, stick Scott and Duncan with the work?”
He looked faintly offended. “Of course I didn’t! I tided the assigned area completely… with a little help.”
Her eyes widened. “You used your _powers_?” she hissed. “With Duncan in the room? You can’t do that!”
“Why not?” he asked. “Why shouldn’t I use such God-given powers to make my job easier?”
“Because…” Rogue faltered a little. “Well, because normal people might see you and freak out!” she said defiantly. “And then we’d all be in trouble.”
He sneered faintly. “We shouldn’t have to hide ourselves from ordinary humans.”
Rogue eyed him in alarm. This was Magneto talking and that was _not_ a good sign. She bit her lip and wondered what on earth she could say to get away from the topic.
“Uh… so how do you know so much about science?” she asked lamely.
He shrugged. “I have no idea,” he looked closely at her. “Perhaps you can tell me.”
“Ah have no idea,” she said truthfully. After all, it was Professor Xavier who knew all about Magneto, Rogue only knew he dabbled in science and had no clue how far his knowledge extended.
His eyes narrowed, but he decided not to press the issue further and pulled out his timetable. “Speech next? What’s that like?”
“Not too bad,” said Scott. He had finally caught up with them and was looking rather peeved. “The teacher is extremely fond of Shakespeare though.”
“And that’s an understatement…” muttered Rogue.
“Oh. You’re in this class as well?” Erik’s tone could have frozen fire. “Wonderful.”
Luckily they entered the classroom at that point and Scott had to quell his reaction to Erik’s statement. With an inward groan, Rogue noticed that the rumour mill – faster than Quicksilver in cases like this – had already been at work. Several people grinned knowingly in their direction while Taryn - Jean’s friend and a pretty brunette with a hankering for Scott – glared furiously at Rogue. Erik remained fairly oblivious, acting as if it was beneath him to notice the insinuations, he simply introduced himself to the teacher and then seated himself at an empty desk – which just happened to be on Rogue’s right-side. With Scott in front of her and Erik beside her, the Goth girl felt trapped again and scowled. If there’s a God up there then we better not be doing Romeo and Juliet!
“All right class,” the teacher – Mr Holgate – clapped his hands. “Now we’ve been through the tragedies we are now going to start on the Shakespeare comedies. I’m going to divide you into groups of six and give you all a scene from a different play. Read through the scene in your groups in the parts I’ve assigned for you and then discuss…”
He droned on and Erik’s eyelids started feeling heavy. Somehow he suspected that Shakespeare was not a great passion of his. He only snapped back to attention when some sheets of paper were dropped on the desk in front of him. He glanced down at the title: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ Act III, Scene II. His name had been hastily scribbled down with the name ‘Demetrius’ scrawled alongside it. The other names – neatly typed – included Scott who was listed as ‘Lysander’ and Rogue who was listed as ‘Helena'.
“Well, this ain’t so bad,” said Rogue, scanning the first lines of dialogue. “Seems like Scott, Taryn and Paul have the most to do…”
“What kind of name is Hermia?” Taryn grumbled to Scott. “Sounds like a disease!”
“I think it’s supposed to be Greek,” said another classmate, a girl called Lucy who was listed as ‘Puck’.
“Oh… whatever!” Taryn sighed. “Let’s get started then.”
Paul cleared his throat. “I wonder if Titania be awaked; Then, what it was that next came in her eye, Which she must dote on in extremity…”
Erik soon got the gist of the story and although mixed-up romance and magic was not really his thing he was able to do justice to his dialogue with Taryn. After that he listened with one ear as Paul and Lucy acted and skimmed ahead.
“What’s the matter?” Rogue whispered.
“How can these things in me seem scorn to you, Bearing the badge of faith, to prove them true?” Scott looked significantly at Rogue.
“Oh!” Rogue scrambled for her script and picked it up. “Sorry… ummm…
You do advance your cunning more and more. When truth kills truth, O devilish-holy
fray! These vows are Hermia's: will you give her o'er? Weigh oath with
oath, and you will nothing weigh: Your vows to her and me, put in two scales,
Will even weigh, and both as light as tales.”
“I had no judgment when to her I swore.”
“Nor none, in my mind, now you give her o'er.”
“Demetrius loves her, and he loves not you.” Scott read earnestly.
Rogue’s eyes skipped to the next set of lines and her eyes widened. Erik winced at the expression on her face, but plunged on regardless with his lines. “O Helena, goddess, nymph, perfect, divine! To what, my love, shall I compare thine eyne? Crystal is muddy. O, how ripe in show; Thy lips, those kissing cherries, tempting grow!”
Muffled giggles sprang up from around the classroom and Rogue’s face reddened. Scott looked like he was about to explode and Paul was stuffing his fist in his mouth to prevent himself from laughing aloud. She hung her head, staring at the floor in utter mortification, trying to ignore the words coming out of Erik’s mouth.
“That pure congealed white, high Taurus snow, Fann'd with the eastern wind, turns to a crow; When thou hold'st up thy hand: O, let me kiss This princess of pure white, this seal of bliss!”
“O spite! O hell!” Rogue mumbled. “I see you all are bent; To set against me for your merriment…”
“Enunciate, Rogue,” Mr Holgate chided her. “Your words should be crystal clear.”
She tossed her hair back and glared at him, almost shouting her lines. “If you were civil and knew courtesy, You would not do me thus much injury…” and somehow she managed to get through the entire speech.
Through gritted teeth, Scott spoke Lysander’s lines. “You are unkind,
Demetrius; be not so; For you love Hermia; this you know I know: And here,
with all good will, with all my heart, In Hermia's love I yield you up
And yours of Helena to me bequeath, Whom I do love and will do till my death.”
Feeling Taryn’s furious glare on her back, Rogue said: “Never did mockers waste more idle breath.”
Scowling at Scott, Erik spoke: “Lysander, keep thy Hermia; I will
none: If e'er I loved her, all that love is gone.
My heart to her but as guest-wise sojourn'd, And now to Helen is it home return'd, There to remain.”
And it just got worse. The rest of the students gave up on their scenes completely and watched avidly, taking note of every look, gesture and inflection in the players’ voices. Giggles and murmurs ran around, speculation running rife, and by the time the last line had been spoken Rogue was ready to run out of the room and die. Her only consolation was that Erik and Scott looked almost as embarrassed as she felt… almost.
Mr Holgate restored order and the class continued, without much input from Rogue, Erik or Scott. After what seemed like forever, the bell for next class rang and Rogue attempted to bolt away. Unfortunately…
"Oh look! A nymph divine!"
"Shall I compare thee to an eyne!"
"Can I kiss your tempting cherry lips?"
"SHUT UP!" Rogue screamed. "Ya bunch of losers! Shakespeare woulda BURNED his plays rather than let YOU hacks try and say em!" And with that, she shoved past the last few students standing between herself and the door and disappeared down the corridor.
Erik stood there. "Ah... how'm I going to get to my next class?"
Wanda idly kicked the wall and glared at some pebbles, which promptly transformed into butterflies and flew away. She heard the bell and growled to herself. "No way, don't care what that woman says I'm not going to classes! Besides, history sucks."
It had been two weeks since the mysterious woman Mystique had broken her out of the Institute her hated father had placed her in, and in that time she'd managed to learn enough control over her powers so that she could attend school. That didn't mean she was going to however. Even if Mystique went, in her "Risty" disguise, for whatever mysterious reason.
"Stupid jerks," she muttered to herself, and then was surprised to hear her comments echoed.
"Stupid jerks! How dare they insult me like that! I'd like to pound their faces into the ground for that. Hate them all. Hate Scott. Hate Erik. ESPECIALLY hate Erik! Hate perfect Jean Grey and little Miss Kitty. Hate Evan! Hate Ku... well, annoyed with Kurt. Hate hate hate stupid school. Stupid dumb moronic idiotic horrible horrible HORRIBLE SCHOOL!"
The rant trailed off as Wanda watched the person complaining turn the corner and stop when she saw her. The girl was dressed in black and green and seemed to be surprised to encounter someone else out here, in the alleys behind the school.
Wanda looked at her and raised an eyebrow. "I couldn't agree more," she said.
Rogue blushed faintly. "Ahem, it's been a bad morning."
"Oh, I know how THAT goes." Wanda agreed. "Wanda."
"Cool name. Strange, but cool."
"Yours too," Rogue felt the need to say more. "I like your boots."
The conversation lapsed.
"So," Wanda said. "What do you do for fun around here?"
"Try to think of ways to leave." Rogue replied.
Wanda laughed. "Sounds about right. What class are you cutting?"
"History. It sucks."
"I totally agree!" Wanda said. "Who cares who died when?"
"Yeah, so long as they DIED!"
"So, why were you so upset?" Wanda asked after another silence.
Rogue groaned. "It was TOO embarrassing. We're doing Shakespeare in Speech class, and we had to act out a scene. A love scene."
"Ew," Wanda winced.
"Yeah. And to make things WORSE I had to do the scene with these two guys and they were both such IDIOTS."
"Aren't all men?" Wanda snarked. "So what's wrong with them? Did they hit on you or something?"
"No way," Rogue snorted. "Scott's only got eyes for perfect Jean Grey," her tone turned a little wistful. "He'd NEVER be interested in me. And Erik? *sigh* Don't get me started."
"Aw, go on," Wanda urged, interested in spite of herself.
"Let me see, how best to describe him? Hmmm..." Rogue grinned. "We'll go with arrogant, obnoxious, and annoying for starters, before moving on to egotistical..."
Erik sadly perused his schedule as he stood by his locker. "Okay, so I need to get to history, which is in 2B. Where is 2B? 2B or not 2B? I think Shakespeare's given me enough trouble for one day." He closed his locker door and jumped back when confronted by Pietro Maximoff's face. "What the hell? Where'd you come from?"
Pietro smirked briefly and then resumed staring at Erik's face. Erik looked at him in confusion. "What? Do I have pen ink or something on me?"
"I don't know what everyone's talking about," Pietro said suddenly. "We look NOTHING alike."
"It's going around that there's a new guy who looks like me," Pietro said. "But we don't look alike at all. Thank goodness, I was getting really worried, especially after Wan... anyway. Clearly a mistake has been made."
The two remarkably similar boys stared at each other.
"Ridiculous!" They both agreed.
"Hey Pietro! Is that your brother?"
"NO!" Pietro turned to leave.
"Hey wait!" Erik grabbed him. "Where's room 2B?"
"Downthatway, firstleft, turnafterthethirdcorridorandupthestairs, it’sonyourright." Pietro ran off.
Erik stared after him. "Thanks," he deadpanned. "That was so helpful."
He looked around for someone else to ask, when Risty came marching up to him.
"Risty! Just the person I… Urk!"
Risty shoved him up against the wall, her hands around his throat. "I know who you are, I know what you're trying to do, and I just want you to know that it's not going to happen. Because I will stop you. And if you get in my way, I will kill you!" Her eyes briefly glowed yellow, before she let him go and stalked away.
"Huh? The women in this school are _strange_…" Erik said in confusion, as he rubbed his throat.
Erik manoeuvred his way carefully through the tables in the school cafeteria, his eyes peeled for a spare seat. He spied a familiar white streak of hair and aimed for it.
"There you are!" He said. "Where were you? Do you know how long it took me to find my history classroom! And..." he trailed off as two pairs of hostile female glares locked on him.
"Who's this?" Wanda asked, her voice like ice.
"This is Erik," said Rogue.
"Oooooohhh, THIS is Erik." Wanda smirked. "You're right! He hasn't said a word yet but I'd still recognise him from your description. He DOES look like an arrogant b-OW! Why'd you kick me?"
The lights in the cafeteria flickered.
"Shh!" Rogue said. She looked at Erik, who was looking rather affronted. "Oh sit down Erik, there's space. This is Wanda. She's new too."
Erik said frostily as he sat. "Hello Wanda. What happened? Did the person who was supposed to show you around ditch you as well?" He glared at Rogue.
"No, she just isn't here yet." Wanda snapped. "There she is now." She stood up, "HEY, RISTY!"
There was a loud crash as Risty dropped her food tray, staring at Wanda and her table-mates in horror, and then sprinted from the cafeteria.
"Ah, I see your charming personality has worked its magic on her as well," Erik smirked.
Rogue frowned. "That's not like Risty. Maybe she just didn't want to sit with Erik."
"No." Rogue tugged at Wanda's arm. "Sit down Wanda, don't worry about it. Remember what I said about him."
"Look, I'm telling you, he looks NOTHING like me."
As Wanda sat down, they all turned to see Pietro dragging Todd over to the table. Pietro pointed triumphantly at Erik. "SEE? We... WANDA?"
The lights flickered again.
"Must be a fault in the electrical system," said Erik. "What do you want, Maximoff?"
"I... how'd you find out my name?"
"People keep calling me that and then asking if we're related," Erik said in an annoyed tone of voice. Then he paused and sniffed the air. "What is that smell?"
"That's Todd." Rogue said. "He only bathes once a month."
"Ugh. Get AWAY from me!" Erik made shooing motions. "I'm trying to eat here."
"Yeah, shove off, TOAD," Rogue said.
"YEAH, Toad." said Wanda. "Go bug someone else."
"Look, I didn't ASK to come over here." Toad replied. "And Maximoff, next time you want to do an identification parade, go ask someone else." He pushed past Pietro and slunk off.
Pietro lingered. "So, Wanda, want to join me for lunch?"
Wanda merely stared at him stonily. Pietro deflated slightly. "Then, can I sit here instead?"
Rogue raised an eyebrow in surprise. "Pietro Maximoff being humble?"
"You can sit with us," Erik scooted over to one side. "We need more guys at this table."
Pietro sat next to Erik. "Um, thanks. I guess sitting opposite the Goth twins would get anyone down."
"If it bothers you so much you could just LEAVE you know!" Wanda and Rogue said in unison.
"Okay, that was just scary," said Erik.
"Yeah," Pietro agreed.
The two girls contented themselves with a glare at the boys before turning their attention to the food on their trays and lunch proceeded in silence.
"Hey Duncan, do that thing where you stick the straws up your nose!"
Or at least as much silence as a school cafeteria would allow.
"Taryn! Did you hear about this new mall!"
"Detention! Can you believe it? Just because I forgot about the stupid assignment for the third time."
"Hey, did you hear about Cyndi?"
"Oh, some people are saying she's run away. But I heard that she's been kidnapped."
"Heyhey, didn't Johnny disappear a little while ago?"
"Yeah, but they said he ran away."
"Johnny wasn't the kind of guy to run away. He was, you know, nice."
The gossipers moved away, and Erik, Wanda, Rogue and Pietro all became aware that they'd all been paying particular attention to this piece of information.
Pietro raised an eyebrow at Rogue. "You know something about this?"
"No, but Cyndi was in one of my classes." Rogue said slowly. "And she didn't seem like a runaway type. I KNOW runaway types." She looked at Pietro. "How about you?"
Pietro shook his head. "Nope, not us."
The bell rang and Rogue gasped. "Crap! I have to get my French notes! Wanda? Erik? What classes do you have next?"
Wanda disdainfully pulled out a piece of paper and examined it. "Social studies."
"German," Erik said.
"I'll show you where your class is, Wanda," Pietro hurriedly offered.
Wanda nodded reluctantly and stood up.
"And your German class is on the way to French, so you can come with me Erik. You better move it though."
"Oh thank you Rogue," Erik muttered as he followed the girl. "What ever would I do without you?"
Tabitha Smith AKA Boom-Boom, wandered aimlessly around Bayville Mall. She had been out on her own for the past two weeks, ever since she had marched out of the Brotherhood house after Mystique and that weirdo new girl had arrived. At first the whole experience was quite fun – no bothersome boys, no school – just her and her own rules, but now…
She looked at her reflection in a shop window and made a face. Sneaking into the showers at school kept her clean, but sleeping rough was definitely taking its toll. However, there was no way in hell that she was going to return to the Brotherhood – not while Mystique was there! – and neither was she going to go back to the Xavier Institute. As she walked out of the mall and look up at the grey sky, a small voice whispered that the Institute wouldn’t be that bad, but she clamped down on that thought and marched resolutely on.
“Never going back,” she muttered. “Sure they’d all _act_ like they were okay with it, but really they’d be sneering and pitying me… and that would be worse that freezing!”
Besides, she had discovered a really good place to shelter from the rain now. It was a little on the ick side, but she’d be warm and dry. So she hurried into the park and down a path that led her to a large old grating set into a brick wall. Part of the grating was broken, providing enough room for Tabitha to slip through and into the old sewer system. The pipes were huge and old, disused now so they were quite dry and if one didn’t mind a slight musty smell of earth and leaves it was a good place to rest. Switching on a torch, Tabitha picked her way past a couple more homeless people, one of them even giving her a small smile and a wave as she passed by. She waved back, but continued on, going deeper into the tunnels. The light from her torch barely penetrated the darkness in front and Tabitha had to swallow hard to quell the irrational fear that welled within her. Finally she reached her destination – a small alcove set into the wall.
“Home sweet home,” she said to herself, her voice echoing oddly. “Now… hey! What happened to my blankets?”
She scowled and swung the torch around. Some low-down bum had nicked the two blankets she had left here!
“When I find the…” a scraping sound made her pause. “Who’s there?” Tabitha formed a ‘bomb’ on her hand. “Come out where I can see you!”
The scraping sound intensified and was accompanied by a whirring. Stepping backward, Tabitha shone her torch in the direction of the noise.
“I’m warning you… AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!”
“I’m telling you, her eyes _glowed_!”
“And I’m telling you that it was probably the light!”
“Oh yes, of course, it’s a well known scientific fact that electric lights turn people’s eyes bright yellow!”
“Risty is NOT a mutant!” Rogue paused before the steps leading up to the Xavier Institute scowled at Erik. “If she was the professor or Cerebro would’ve picked it up! Ya just imaginin’ things!”
Erik threw his hands in the air. “Fine!” he snapped. “Don’t believe me!” he leaned in close so that they were nearly nose to nose. “Just don’t complain to _me_ if your dear little friend doesn’t turn out to be the person you thought she was!”
“Jeez… have you guys been like this ALL day?”
Rogue and Erik whirled to see Kitty standing behind them, an amused look on her face. Rogue jumped back and folded her arms. “What do you mean by that?” she demanded.
Kitty giggled. “Oh, it’s been the _talk_ of the school! The mystery new guy and the _sparks_ flying between him, you _and_ Scott! Plus everyone thinks he’s related to Pietro! I nearly died laughing a hundred times today!”
“Ah wish you HAD!” Rogue yelled and stomped up the steps and into the mansion, slamming the door behind her.
Kitty winced. “Ooo… like, did I touch a nerve there or what?”
“Is she always like that?” Erik asked, looking after Rogue.
Kitty raised an eyebrow. “You mean unsociable, irritable and prickly? Yeah.”
“What on earth was the professor thinking, assigning her to show me about if she’s like that?” Erik shook his head as he pushed open the door.
“Probably because she stood up for you and… ulp!” Kitty clapped a hand over her mouth. “Ooops.”
Erik’s eyes narrowed. “Stood up for me? Why would she need to do that?”
Kitty sweated. “I… uh… I…”
//It’s alright, Kitty. Erik, I would like to talk to you please.//
Relieved, Kitty fled to the room she shared with Rogue. The other girl was already there, lying on her bed and glaring at the ceiling. She turned her head when Kitty phased through the door and her unfriendly expression darkened. “Ah really have to demand mah own room…” Rogue muttered, turning her face away.
Kitty barely heard her, she was so upset with herself. Had she just blown everything?
Meanwhile, Erik entered Professor Xavier’s study and marched straight over to the X-Men’s leader. “I want some answers, Professor!” he demanded. “Clearly there is _something_ about me that makes many of your students nervous, like we’ve met before and under unpleasant circumstances. Why did Rogue have to speak in my defence? Why is Summers on my case ALL THE TIME? Why do I look like that boy, Pietro Maximoff?”
Xavier smiled slightly. “If you would just take a breath and listen, Erik, then I may be able to answer some of your questions.”
Erik looked slightly abashed. “I apologize,” he said stiffly. “But it’s been a… well, a trying day.”
“So I’ve heard,” Xavier commented. “Erik… you are correct in believing that you have met the X-Men before and you clashed with them. But you were… a different person then, committed to a violent path. You and I were friends and you were always a man of strong convictions and someone haunted by the past.”
“If you and I were friends then I can’t truly be a teenager,” Erik pointed out and Xavier nodded.
“This is true. Something happened to you, an accident I’m guessing, and it rejuvenated your body to this state. Unfortunately I don’t know what you did or how to reverse it.”
Erik folded his arms. “Alright… So I am a former adversary who has mysteriously de-aged and turned up here. I may not remember WHY I fought you, but many of you think I will remember. However, you have decided to give me a chance to start over and build up my life anew. Am I right so far?”
Erik looked away. “That’s a lot of trust to invest in someone, Professor.”
“Perhaps,” Xavier steepled his fingers. “But I remember our friendship and the good man that you were before we embraced difference ideologies. And it has always been my policy to give people second chances. Like Rogue,” he smiled at Erik’s obvious surprise. “She was a former adversary of the X-Men, but I was happy to take her on.”
Erik’s mouth curved into a small answering smile. “Well, in that case I will respect your trust and curb my curiousity… for now,” he nodded to Xavier and turned to leave, then he paused. “Speaking of Rogue, she still has…”
“Magnetic powers,” Xavier nodded. “Yes, I know. It troubles me, but Zaladane’s mind does not seem to be bothering her. However, if she keeps these powers then I will have to see that she gets some training in how to use them,” he glanced at Erik. “I heard about the school bus.”
Erik coughed. "Yes… well…"
Xavier eyed Erik with a speculative gleam in his eyes. "Perhaps you would be the best person to teach her…"
Erik gaped at him. "Me? A former enemy?" he narrowed his eyes. "Are you _feeling_ alright?"
"Perfectly," Xavier said. "Just think it over, Erik, you don't have to decide right now."
Later that evening, Xavier called all of the X-Men and Erik to his study. Once they were all assembled he told them about the mutant girl in a mental institution whom he had been treating for a while. He told them of her powers to affect probability and how she had disappeared two weeks ago.
"I do not think that she escaped on her own," he said. "I suspect there is another's hand in this and that person will use Wanda's powers in dangerous manner."
Rogue and Erik exchanged startled glances. "Wanda? Her name is Wanda?" Rogue asked and Xavier nodded.
"Yes, Wanda Maximoff. She is Pietro's twin sister. She is full of rage fueled by her hatred for her father who placed her in the institution when her powers became uncontrollable."
"But she seemed so nice," Rogue said in confusion.
The rest of the X-Men stared at her. "You've seen her?" Jean asked.
Rogue nodded. "We talked after…" she hesitated, not wanting to let on that she had skipped class. "Uh… anyway… we had lunch together and talked and she seemed okay…"
"Just a little prickly," Erik said dryly. All eyes turned to him.
"You spoke to her too?" Scott asked suspiciously.
"Yes Summers, I did," Erik looked coldly at him. "What, I can't _talk_ to anyone without your permission?"
"Why you…" Scott felt his eyes burn with anger.
"Erik! Scott!" Xavier's voice cut across the pending argument. "Calm down, both of you."
Scott clenched his fists, but sat down again – although he continued to glare at Erik who also reseated himself.
"So… are you going to tell me not to talk to Wanda again?" Rogue lifted her chin defiantly.
"No," Xavier shook his head. "In fact, I'm glad that you still want to, Rogue. I doubt Wanda has had many friends in her life and it would probably do her good to have one. Just be careful."
The Brotherhood house was in its usual state of disrepair and chaos when Pietro walked (well, ran) in the door. Lance was in the kitchen, heating up some left over pizza, Fred was watching TV, eating about three McDonalds Happy Meals and taking up most of the couch while Todd perched on the armrest and occasionally snatched a fry (or a fly).
"Hey," Fred said, waving one hand lazily. "Where've you been?"
Pietro shrugged and started pacing the room. "Just out… thinking about things."
"What things, yo?" Todd asked.
"Just stuff," said Pietro. He paused and looked around. "Is Wanda here?"
"I think she's in her room," Fred said thickly through a mouthful of hamburger. "Why?"
"Nothing… nothing…" Pietro zoomed up the stairs and shot into his own room.
"What's eating him?" Lance wondered from the kitchen doorway.
In his room, Pietro leaned against his bedroom door and fished his cell phone out of his pockets. He stared at it for what seemed like an hour, but was really only a minute and then resumed his rapid pacing. "Whyhasn'thecalled?" he said aloud. It wasn't like _him_ to break an appointment… Something had to be wrong, but what? What could have happened to someone so powerful? And if that wasn't enough there was the whole Wanda problem to deal with AND this new guy – Erik – who just gave Pietro bad vibes. Despite all the denial, Pietro couldn't convince himself that he and Erik didn't look alike and he had a horrible feeling that they really were related…
Slowly, Rogue turned the handle and cautiously pulled open the front door. She glanced behind her before slipping out and running quickly down the steps. "Phew…" she breathed as she made her way across the front lawn. "Lucky Kitty sleeps like a log!"
"Where _are_ you going?"
Startled she whirled around to see Erik hovering in the air behind her. "Where the hell did you come from?"
"My room," he said, smirking. "I was looking out of the window and saw you scrurrying across the lawn…"
"And you had to come an' stick your big nose in where it don't belong!" Rogue snapped, folding her arms and glaring at him irritably.
He lifted an eyebrow. "My nose is not big."
"Look, Erik… what Ah do in mah time is not your concern, so just go back to bed and don't bother me!"
He descended to the ground and matched her glare. "You're planning to find out what happened to that Cyndi girl, aren't you?"
She blinked. "Ah… wh… how did you know?"
"Oh? So I am right?" he grinned and she snarled.
"Ah wish Scott HAD blasted you tonight!"
He ignored the comment. "So why are you doing this? Surely the police…"
Rogue made a dismissive gesture. "Hah… Ah doubt they'll find 'em. Anyway, Ah told you that Cyndi wasn't a runaway type and Ah remembered that when she and Ah had to do translate a poem in French she told me that the description of the poem reminded her of Bayville Park at night and that she'd go walking there sometimes when it was a full moon. So Ah checked and the night she vanished was a full moon! Also… the other boy who vanished was also last seen near the park."
"And again I ask, _why_ are you doing this? These people weren't your friends."
"So what?" Rogue cried. She couldn't believe how cold and indifferent he sounded. Was this Magneto bubbling to the surface? "What if there's some looney out there and he's going to grab more kids? Ah have powers and training, Ah might be able to do something…"
"So why don't you tell the others?"
She looked away. "Because Ah… if…"
"If you're wrong you think they'll laugh?" Erik sighed. "I don't believe I'm saying this, but… I'll come with you and… help. And I promise I won't laugh."
"Yeah, right," Rogue sniffed. "You can come if ya want, Ah don't care," she turned on her heel and started for the gate.
"Where are you going?"
"To the front gate, moron!" she looked back at him, exasperated. "How else am Ah supposed to get out?"
"Huh? Ah can't…"
"You can, you have magnetic powers now," he smiled, remembering Xavier's request. *Well, I guess now's as good a time as any for a lesson…* "I can show you."
Rogue's eyes widened. "Fly…?"
"Fly?" Rogue repeated, blinking. She remembered when she had absorbed Magneto's powers a little while back that she had been able to fly after him, but she had used his knowledge and couldn't recall exactly how she could soar into the sky.
"Take my hand," Erik said. "And then concentrate..."
Soon they were floating over the mansion and as adrenalin rushed through her, Rogue could feel the goofy grin on her face. "This is great!" she thrilled. "Ah feel so free!"
Erik caught her enthusiasm and found himself grinning back at her. "This is the only way to travel!"
Rogue giggled and executed a back-flip in mid-air. "Too bad the Prof would chew us out if he knew!"
"Who's going to tell him?" Erik smirked.
Rogue giggled again and dealt him a playful shove. "Tag! You're it!" she served out of his way, giggling as he stared at her in confusion. Then his mouth curved into a predatory smile. "Oh... so you think you are better at this than me, eh?"
"Eek!" Rogue squeaked and zoomed out of the way as he dived for her. "Hey! No fair!" she cried as a small bolt of magnetic energy sprang from his fingers and tickled her. "Okay, sugah, this means WAR!"
They play-fought for quite a while until the sight of Bayville Park brought Rogue up short and she recalled her self-appointed mission. As she hovered there, Erik grabbed her from behind and laughed in her ear. "Too slow, Rogue!"
She wriggled out of his grasp and turned on him, trying to keep her expression stern. "Playtime's over... remember why Ah wanted to come here..."
It was almost frightening how quickly Erik snapped back into his serious mode. "Then I suggest we find a convenient look-out point."
They stationed themselves in the branches of a large tree near one of the main entrances to the park and waited.
"Ah think Ah was wrong," Rogue sighed eventually. "And Ah'm getting pins 'n needles in mah legs..."
"We have been waiting for over an hour," Erik commented. He surreptitiously tried to shift his position; not wanting to admit that his backside was numb.
Rogue sighed again and floated herself out of the tree and down to the ground. "Mah own fault," she said, rubbing her tingling legs. "Ah shouldn't think Ah'm so smart and try and do stuff by mahself."
"I don't think it was a bad idea," said Erik, landing beside her. "You acted on good instincts. Also, just because nothing has happened tonight doesn't mean that you're wrong."
She looked at him and smiled slightly. "Thanks..." she tentatively reached out and touched his shoulder. "Y'know... you can be a really nice guy when you're not bein' all arrogant and stuff."
He quirked an eyebrow at her. "I suppose I should take that as a compliment," his expression relaxed into a smile. "And you can be very..." he stopped and swivelled around as footsteps sounded a few metres away.
"Someone's coming!" Rogue grabbed his arm and leapt into the bushes, hauling Erik along with her. They landed in a heap, Erik only just managing to stop his face from coning into contact with Rogue's. There was a brief, quiet scuffle as they sorted themselves out and crouched behind a large bush, peeking through the leaves.
The footsteps belonged to a lanky teenage boy who loped down the path, head bopping in time to the music on his discman. He was so absorbed that he probably wouldn't have noticed the two young mutants if they were standing right next to him. Erik and Rogue kept him in their sights until he rounded the corner and then both sighed.
"Well, that was rather anticlimactic," Erik said, getting to his feet and brushing dirt off his trousers. "Perhaps the other two students did run away..."
They froze for a second, but Erik was soon in the air and flying towards the scream at top speed, Rogue close behind him. Ready to fight, they rounded the corner and found nothing except for the discman lying on the edge of the path.
"Looks like it was torn off him," Rogue said. "But Ah can't see any sign of..."
"A struggle? No, neither can I," Erik frowned. "Nor any sign of a trail. It's as if he just vanished into thin air..."
Rogue nibbled nervously at her lower lip. "Ah don't know what to do about this," she confessed. "Should Ah tell the Professor and the others or should we just keep quiet for now?"
"And continue to stake out the park?" Erik looked vaguely amused. He stooped and picked up the discman. "Honestly, I don't think we have much to go on here... unless Wolverine can sniff out a trail. I suggest keeping it quiet - for now," he looked rather disdainful. "I'm sure between the two of us, we are more than a match for anything that crosses OUR path."
Rogue rolled her eyes. "Just when ya start getting bearable you suddenly get annoying!" she grumbled. "Well... okay... we'll come here again and keep watch for now... But," she looked at her hands. "Ah'm gonna have to do some practice with these powers if Ah'm going to be fighting with 'em."
Go on to Part Two
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