Part Two: Wednesday
Invitation, Stakeout and Exposure
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.
“It should be a crime to make someone get up so early in the morning and fight for their life in that room!” Erik grumbled, exiting the danger room. Scott smirked at him.
“Sorry about that, Erik. Somehow it got stuck on one of Wolverine’s programs and those are always tough.”
Erik shot Scott a narrow glare, but declined to comment. He had a good idea why that particular program had been used. The only reason he hadn’t wrapped an iron bar around Scott’s head was because he had managed to defeat the various obstacles quite spectacularly. Apart from feeling tired and bruised, Erik was pleased with himself. There was only one question on his mind…
“Surely I must have had a codename,” he said as he pushed open the breakfast room.
There was a long pause as everyone looked nervously at each other and then applied themselves to breakfast with forced jollity.
“MMmm, those pancakes look delicious!”
“Urgh… Kurt, those things are, like, so fatty! You should eat…”
“Kitty, if I ate what you eat then I would starve!”
“Pass me the orange juice!”
Erik raised an eyebrow. “Uh-huh,” he looked in Rogue’s direction and went to sit down by her. “Was my codename something that bad?”
She gulped. “Er… no… not really, but it’s ummmm…”
He took pity on her discomfort and smiled. “Well, perhaps I should think of one, since you all have them…”
“Jean doesn’t,” Rogue pointed out. She wrinkled her nose. “Although apparently she was considering ‘Marvel Girl’ for a while… yuck! Sounds like a sixties B grade super hero.”
Erik picked up a pen and began scribbling on a paper napkin. “Let’s see… I have magnetic powers, so it should be something to reflect that…” he muttered. “Magnetix? No… no… Metallic? Absolutely not… Mag…. Magnet… hmmm…. Magnet…”
“How about… ummm… Metalsmith?” Rogue offered quickly interrupting him.
“Metalsmith?” he considered it. “Well, I suppose that’s not too bad… Now, I wonder what sort of costume I should have….”
Rogue sat watching him for a while, but she had to leave when he started sketching an outfit that had a big ‘M’ on its front, otherwise she would have fallen off her chair laughing.
“So if anyone needs tickets then I’ve got enough for ALL of us,” Jean was talking to a crowd of the New Mutants in the hallway as Rogue exited the breakfast room. “And I expect your full support, ok?”
What goody-good cause is she involved in NOW? Rogue wondered. She skulked along the wall, hoping that Jean and the New Mutants wouldn’t look in her direction. Luckily, the younger teens were all enthusiastically clamouring for the tickets Jean was holding up and the noise covered Rogue’s footsteps. However…
“So,” Kitty popped up from nowhere and started walking beside Rogue. “What are you going to wear to the Ball?”
Rogue blinked. “What Ball?”
“Duh! The Charity Ball of course! The one that Jean’s helping organise! Apparently it’s going to have a really cool theme and there’s going to be a great band and everything!”
Rogue wrinkled her nose. “Who said Ah was going to it anyway?”
Kitty blinked. “What? Oh come on Rogue! It’s going to, like, totally rock! How can you stay away?”
“Easily,” Rogue glared at Kitty. “Ah don’t like places with big crowds and besides…” she couldn’t stop the slightly wistful tone entering her voice. “Nobody’s asked me.”
“Hey girl, this IS modern times!” Kitty giggled. “Just ASK someone yourself!” she nudged Rogue with her elbow. “Maybe even Erik?”
Rogue’s cheeks reddened. “No way!” she cried. “Why would Ah go with HIM?”
“OOooh…” Kitty looked speculatively at her. “I think you’re, like, scared…”
“Ah am NOT!”
“So you WILL go with him?”
“Of course Ah WILL!” Rogue paused as her words trickled through her brain. “Aw… nuts…”
Wanda ran her fingers through her short hair and looked at her reflection in the mirror. With a satisfied nod, she turned away and walked out, her face settling into the usual sullen expression, her eyes burning with suppressed anger.
She had dreamed of her father again last night. Once more he was placing her in the mental institution, ignoring her pleas and walking away as she screamed for him. But then something odd had happened… Instead of the dream ending with her watching helplessly from the barred window as the car carrying her father and brother drove away, Wanda found herself at school. She was standing at the front entrance and beside her, grinning, was Rogue. Wanda wasn’t quite sure what to make of this dream or of Rogue for that matter. She had never had any friends that she could remember and having someone – who was not crazy – to talk to was a totally new experience.
As she walked down the stairs she passed Mystique who reached out and grabbed Wanda’s shoulder, pulling the teenager to an abrupt halt.
“You shouldn’t let yourself get too close to the X-Men,” Mystique said softly. “You can bet that Xavier’s told them all about you now. They’ll regard you as an enemy, and a particularly dangerous one at that.”
Wanda shook off Mystique’s hand. “I don’t need your advice!” she snarled and stalked away.
Mystique watched her go, her brow furrowed in an angry, yet thoughtful frown.
Rogue balanced her food tray carefully and slowly scanned the cafeteria. She'd just come from what had possibly been the most boring mathematics class in the history of math, and had left in such a hurry that Pietro had blinked in surprise as she hurtled past him down the corridor. He'd then smirked in amusement as Erik came sprinting after her yelling for her to slow down, wait up, hang on a second... whatever!
"Lover's quarrel?" A number of people had called after the pursuing boy, and he'd been absolutely fuming by the time he caught up with her. Or at least, caught up with her location.
"Honestly," he stared at the closed door of the women's toilets. "If she'd HAD to go why didn't she just ask for the bathroom pass?"
He'd waited outside for fifteen minutes before realising he'd been ditched and he was receiving some odd looks from the students walking by.
Meanwhile, Rogue continued to search the cafeteria until she spotted a familiar face.
She slowly and carefully made her way over to Wanda, who spotted her coming and shot her a glare. Rogue ignored it, recognising it as a standard "leave me alone, I hate everyone" glare and continued to head over.
"Hey Rogue! Over here!" Risty waved at her from a table.
"Can't. Gotta talk to someone. Later." Rogue walked past and finally sat down next to Wanda.
"Hey." She said.
Wanda gave her an unfriendly look.
"That won't work on me," Rogue informed her.
The unfriendly look deepened. Rogue matched it with one of her own.
People began to watch.
Wanda's turned angry. Rogue's turned nasty.
The entire cafeteria waited with bated breath.
Wanda's eyes flickered with rage. Rogue stuck out her tongue.
The cafeteria face-faulted.
Wanda cracked up. Rogue joined her.
After the two girls had stopped laughing, they settled down to eat their lunch.
"So I guess you've heard all about me," Wanda said, still slightly suspicious.
"Yep, everything from your natural hair colour to the cute little mole on your butt."
"I don't have a mole on my butt!" Wanda blushed as neighbouring tables of students turned to stare at her.
"Mah mistake," Rogue grinned.
"You'll pay for that."
"Ooooh... Ah'm shaking."
"You should be." Wanda ate another bite of her sandwich. "So where's Erik?"
The girls snickered.
“There you are!” Erik’s exasperated voice interrupted them. He leant on the table, hands planted firmly on the surface and glared at Rogue. “Are you purposefully trying to embarrass me?”
Rogue raised her eyebrows. “Ah never asked you to follow me!” she snapped.
“I was trying to give you back this!” Erik flicked a pen towards her. “Excuse me for trying to be nice!”
Rogue blinked and took the pen. “Umm… Ah…”
“Just what is your problem today?” he continued. “You refuse to speak to me and then glare at me all morning. As far as I know I haven’t done anything wrong and after last night…” he sat down and regarded her intently. “I thought we were starting to get along.”
“Last night?” Wanda asked, her eyes bright with curiosity. “What happened?” she paused. “Er… then again, maybe that’s something I don’t want to know…”
“It’s nothing like that!” Rogue protested. “We just… umm…” she glanced around and then leaned closer to Wanda. “We went to Bayville Park last night to do some investigations.”
“On the people who disappeared,” Rogue explained. “Ah just had this weird feeling that there’s someone or some thing that’s responsible…” she went on to tell Wanda about the boy who disappeared and the other girl’s eyes went wide.
“And you’re going to check it out again tonight?” she asked. When they nodded, she leaned forward eagerly. “Can I come? An extra pair of eyes is always handy, right?”
Erik was about to protest, but Rogue jumped in. “Sure you can,” she said, smiling. “It’ll be fun!”
“Fun?” Erik spluttered. “We’re trying to track down someone who may or may not be kidnapping teenagers for some sick purpose and you call that fun?”
“What’s fun?” Pietro suddenly appeared at the table and they all jumped.
“Don’t DO that!” Wanda snarled. Her plate suddenly dissolved and the food turned rock hard.
“Sorry,” Pietro didn’t sound very apologetic. “So what’s fun? I like fun.”
“None of your business,” Rogue and Wanda snapped.
“Rogue… are you trying to avoid me?” Risty asked, catching up with the other girl on her way to geography.
Rogue felt guilty. “Ah’m sorry, Risty. Ah didn’t mean to, it’s just… well, with showin’ Erik around and all… Ah’ve been pretty busy.”
“And Wanda?” Risty fiddled with the edge of her book. “What’s the deal there?”
“Huh?” Rogue looked at her friend in surprise. “Risty, are you mad because Ah’ve been making friends with Wanda? Ah’m sorry Ah brushed you off at lunch, but Ah… well, Ah’d just learnt some stuff about her and Ah wanted…”
“Don’t you find her a little scary?” Risty asked quietly. “She hardly ever smiles and she HATES her brother and her father… not exactly a charming person to get to know!”
Rogue frowned. “How do you know she hates her Daddy?”
Inwardly Mystique winced. Her agitation over Rogue was making her unusually clumsy. “Oh… well, I heard it when I was showing her around.”
“Well, Ah don’t see why Ah shouldn’t try and be nice to her,” Rogue said with a shrug as they entered the classroom. “Actually she reminds me a bit of… well, me. Ah can understand where she’s coming from.”
“I still say she seems a bit dangerous,” said Risty. “You should be careful.”
Rogue rolled her eyes. “Yes, ‘momma’!” she joked, not noticing the brief pain that flashed through Risty's eyes. “Anyway, Wanda isn’t mah biggest problem right now…”
Rogue sighed. “Ah have to figure out a way to ask Erik to the Charity Ball!”
"Erik! Hey, wait up a second!"
Erik turned around halfway up the Xavier mansion driveway and glared at Rogue. "Oh, so now you want _me_ to wait for _you_."
Rogue glared back, then collected herself and looked around nervously. "So, anyway, Ah, um..."
"What Ah mean to say is, that is, you know, if you're not busy, but you probably are, but you don't have to, plans can be changed, it'll probably be stupid anyway, but you know, it's for charity and, um..." Rogue babbled nervously.
"And Friday's usually such a busy day and Ah'll understand if you don't want to and you probably don't because who wants to go anyway? So, bye."
As Rogue walked past Erik he grabbed her arm and looked at her in confusion. "What _exactly_ are you trying to say?" He demanded.
She glared at him. "It doesn't matter, you're too busy anyway."
"WHAT? I don't, argh! What am I supposed to be too busy _for_? You haven't _told_ me anything!" Erik shouted in exasperation.
"Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about," Rogue snapped.
"But I DON'T!"
"Duh," Rogue tugged her arm free. "The charity ball this Friday of course!"
"What?" Erik shook his head in confusion. "I really don't understand what you're talking about. Something about a ball... and…?"
Rogue snarled at him and the pieces came together in Erik's head. "Oh! You want to go to the ball!"
"JERK!" Rogue snapped.
Erik stared at her. "_Oh_, you want ME to go to the ball with YOU!"
"YES! No. Yes. No. Sort of. It's complicated. And you're probably too busy. It was a stupid idea anyway."
"Okay!" Erik yelled. "I'll go! Just stop talking!"
"And there's probably about a million girls you'd rather go with anyway and... What?"
"I said I'll go! With you. To the ball." Erik said clearly. "Okay?"
"Well. Okay I guess."
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN, OKAY I GUESS!!!"
Logan looked out the window and raised his eyebrow at the sight of Rogue and Erik bickering and walking across the lawn. "Sheesh… Kids."
“So…” Wanda looked around the park. “What do we do?”
“Keep watch,” said Rogue promptly. “And find a comfortable place to watch from.”
They managed to find a tree with broad, low branches and perched. Rogue went to check out the main entrance and the other two waited. For a while there was silence, and then Erik became aware that Wanda was scrutinizing him intently.
“You’re supposed to be watching the park,” he said and she blinked.
“I know that!” Wanda snapped. “But…” she frowned. “You DO look a lot like my brother you know… it’s very weird because I’m sure you’re not an older brother of mine…”
“Hey, Wanda… can you check out the other entrance?” Rogue asked, coming back to them. She was rubbing her thigh. “There’s nothing at the main gate, just a couple of cats that freaked me out and caused me to bang into the wall.”
“Sure,” Wanda shrugged and left. Rogue sat down and sighed. “Man… am Ah tired…” she said. “Tonight and last night are catching up on me… hey, what’s wrong?”
Erik hesitated, but then told her what Wanda had said. Rogue swallowed nervously. “Y-yeah… it’s an odd thing, isn’t it…” she said. “But… hey, tell me something.” She said suddenly.
“If you had a kid and sh… they were weird, would you lock he.. them up in a mental home?”
Erik blinked. “What brought this on?” he looked at her. “Do I have children then?”
Rogue fidgeted. “I said if,” was her only reply.
He rolled his eyes, deciding not push her - yet. “Alright, alright… IF I had a child and it was weird… what do you mean by weird anyway? If the child was weird as in dangerous to itself and others then perhaps I would have no choice…”
“It’s not a very nice thing to do to your own kid!” Rogue said.
“Well… no, but all I’m saying is that there’s two sides to any story and if you don’t know one then it’s a little hard to judge!” Erik snapped. He suddenly remembered the other night when Xavier told them all about Wanda and Rogue’s line of questioning – along with a few other things – started to make horrible sense. “This is about Wanda, isn’t it?”
Rogue couldn’t meet his eyes. “It’s all hypothetical,” she mumbled, letting her hair fall forward, obscuring her face. A strong finger and thumb encased in smooth gloves gripped her chin and forced her head up. Erik pushed aside her hair and stared into her face. “Are Wanda and Pietro my children? Am I the one who put Wanda in the institution?”
Rogue swallowed nervously. “Well… umm… yeah… Ah guess you are their daddy…” she said.
He sighed. “Well, at least that clears up the resemblance question,” he raised an eyebrow. “Do they know who I am? No, don’t answer… they clearly don’t. Otherwise I suspect that I would have been attacked several times over by now.”
“Well, Wanda does have cause,” Rogue said defensively. “Ah couldn’t figure how a man could do that to his daughter!”
“And you thought trying to ask hypothetical questions of a man with amnesia would tell you why Wanda was locked up?” Erik shook his head. “Rogue, how can I give you any answers if I don’t know them myself?”
She flushed. “Well… it was kinda stupid, ah admit, but…” her lashes veiled her eyes. “Ah guess Ah wanted to know if you’d do the same thing now… and it seems like…” she suddenly felt inexplicable tears pricking her eyelids. “It seems like you would…”
He exhaled heavily, breath ruffling her hair. “It’s not the same thing, Rogue… I don’t know what kind of person I was, perhaps I didn’t have cause to lock her away, but now… well, I would like to think that I’d consider the situation very carefully before reaching such a difficult decision.”
Rogue looked back up at him then and smiled slightly. “Well… that’s something ah guess…”
“Achem!” Wanda cleared her throat and they both jumped and sprang apart. The short- haired girl looked at them with an amused smirk. “Did I come at a bad time?”
“N-no, we were just talking!” Rogue insisted – hating herself for stuttering and blushing at the same time. “Did you find anything?”
“Nada,” Wanda said with a sigh, seating herself. “Are you sure…?”
“A boy disappeared right by this spot last night,” said Erik. “Of course that doesn’t mean that there will be another attack right here, but we don’t have much more to go on.”
“I’m surprised that you two haven’t told the other X-Men yet,” confessed Wanda. “Aren’t you all supposed to be one big happy family team?” there was a distinct sneer in her voice.
“Yeah,” said Rogue. “Ah guess, but sometimes that can be a bit…” she hesitated. “Suffocating, you know?”
“I don’t,” said Wanda curtly. “I’ve never had that sort of experience. Family means nothing to me.”
Tabitha’s return to consciousness was slow and her mind remained muddled long after her eyes had opened. This may have had something to do with the fact that she found herself in some sort of warm cocoon that kept her curled up and was made of some opaque material that blurred everything outside. What is this? Am I being kept in ‘storage’ or something? But that… thing… that got me didn’t look like it would eat people…
She concentrated, trying to generate some of her little ‘bombs’, but nothing happened. Tabby whimpered, feeling more helpless and lost than she could ever remember. No powers, nobody knew where she was, no way out of this cocoon…
“Don’t cry, pumpkin,” a sugary, sickeningly sweet voice murmured near her ear. Tabby realised that someone (or something) was standing by her cocoon. “You are safe and sound here. Go to sleep little one and dream sweet dreams. You will have some friends joining you soon.”
Tears flowed down Tabby’s cheeks. Professor! She screamed her thoughts as loud as she could, Please! You HAVE to hear me! Professor Xavier! Help me!
But there was no answer and Tabitha eventually gave up and fell into a distressed sleep, despairing of ever being freed.
"Well that was a waste of time," Erik commented as he and Rogue landed outside the mansion. "Apart from spending quality time with a daughter who doesn't know who I am and if she did would kill me."
"Haha," Rogue said sarcastically. "You think you're so witty."
"I am," he said. "By the way, was there a reason for cutting the stakeout shorter? It's only twelve thirty and last night we didn't get back until two am."
"Well, Ah don't know about _you_, but Ah was feeling pretty wiped during the morning's Danger Room session… plus Ah could hardly keep mah eyes open in class!"
"Considering how dull some of those classes are, I'm surprised that you don't fall asleep more often."
"Unlike SOME people Ah need to get an education," Rogue snapped.
"Anyway, here's mah room, see you in the morning."
"Of course," he waved and started walking towards the area where the boys’ dormitory was.
Rogue levitated herself up to the second floor level and reached out for the edge of the open window to the bedroom that she shared with Kitty. She had decided to leave it open to make her return easier considering that the last time she had nearly run into Evan who was on a midnight food run.
However, at that very moment, Kitty had just returned from the bathroom and noticed the curtain waving in the breeze. Frowning and feeling a little nervous she went over to the window and yanked the curtain back.
"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!" Kitty screamed at the top of her voice when confront with the pale face floating outside the window.
"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!" Rogue screamed involuntarily and immediately lost her concentration and fell. She hit the ground with a painful thud and lay there, rather stunned.
"Are you alright?" Erik rushed over to her. "What happened?"
"Ow… ow… ow…"
"Oh my God… I… oh… Rogue? Erik?" Kitty suddenly phased out of the wall. "Oh… you nearly a heart attack, I thought you were… like… some monster or vampire…"
"I told you that you should do something about that make-up."
"Shut UP, Erik!" Rogue swiped at him and got to her feet, wincing. "I nearly gave YOU a heart attack? You nearly KILLED me!"
"But like… what were you doing out there anyway at midnight… whatever… and…" Kitty paused. "Wait a sec… how DID you get up there?"
"Uh, um... Erik levitated me up there," Rogue said hastily.
Erik raised an eyebrow at her, but said nothing.
"Ohhhh..." Kitty smiled knowingly. "So you and _Erik_ were out late tonight huh?"
"NO!" Rogue blinked. "Ah mean yes, but no! But sort of, but..."
"I think we've had this conversation," Erik said tiredly.
There was a loud BAMF and Kurt appeared before them. "Vas is happening?!" He demanded. "What is all the screaming about?"
"Well, um, Rogue was outside my window and she was kind of flying, but she says that Erik was levitating her but that seems kind of weird since he was still panting from sprinting over to her after she fell when I got here and that seems odd because, like, wouldn't you need to be near her anyway to lift her up and what is with the uniforms and Rogue says they were out together but not together and I'm really confused."
By the time Kitty had finished, the rest of the X-Men, the New Mutants, and the teachers (minus Xavier) had arrived.
"She said that all in one breath?!" Erik didn't know whether to be impressed or horrified.
"We think it's part of her mutant powers," Rogue snarked.
"I think a few explanations are in order," Storm said. "What have you two been up to?"
Rogue took a deep breath. "Well, you see..."
"We were doing some late night training," Erik interrupted.
"Why would Rogue need training from YOU?" Jean demanded.
Erik winced. "It's kind of awkward. You see..." he trailed off, looking at Rogue apologetically.
Rogue sighed. "Ah still have Zaladane's powers."
Everyone took a step back from Rogue.
"Oh way to show your support! Thanks a lot!" Rogue snapped. "Ah knew you'd all react this way, Ah _knew_ it! Ah knew Ah couldn't tell you. Thanks a LOT everyone! It really means a lot to me to know how much you care. GOOD NIGHT!"
She levitated herself back into the air, gestured the window open, and flew in.
"I don't understand," Scott said.
//All of you please come inside and I will explain// Xavier's voice echoed in their minds.
Slowly, all except Erik displaying varying degrees of vexation and puzzlement, the X-Men filed back inside to their mentor’s study. Erik hesitated at first, wondering if he should come since Xavier probably wouldn’t be telling them anything he didn’t know.
//Come in, Erik. Your input will be valuable here//
Casting a worried glance in the direction of the girls’ dorms, Erik followed the others.
And up in her room, Rogue buried her head in her pillow and cried.
Go on to Part Three
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