Rogue 1/2: The Scent of a Mutant

Introduction:

Orla: Hello! This time I'm doing the introduction (applaud or die now, thank you) The only way I could do this is by tying Jaelle up with tape. What's that Jaelle? Sorry, I don't know what "Mmmph Mmmph" means, I guess you will have to stay there. (By the way, it has come to my attention that I am known as the evil twin, this is untrue -I am the insane, violent evil twin -please get this right for future reference.)

Anyway, an introduction to Rogue 1/2:
A battle in China goes terribly wrong! (Well, what can you expect when it's right over a place called Jusenkyo?) Now Rogue is avoiding cold water like mad, Bobby is running after her with kettles of hot water, Mystique is trying to kill Xavier and Magneto and his Acolytes are attacking! No Storm! Don't call up a rainstorm!

Now for a continuity note: Mystique and Sabretooth are in X-Factor in this story and Magneto is leading the Acolytes and living in Avalon -well stuff it! Who needs accuracy?

Also, a competition: if you can spot all the Ranma 1/2 references you get a chocolate fish (in spirit -it would be messy to email) and we will certify that you are as insane as us.

Okay, that's all from me (Jaelle is getting free -I need more tape) Love and Daggers, Orla (The insane, violent evil twin).


Rogue 1/2: The Scent of a Mutant

By Orla (the insane, violent, evil one) and Jaelle (the one whose account this is... _yeow_... watch it with that tape! That hurts! *rip*)

Disclaimer: We have no money! Don't sue us!

They're not our characters. The premise is copyrighted to Rumiko Takahashi (or Takahashi Rumiko if you're one of those pedantic people who absolutely _has_ to point out that in Japanese the family name comes first) and the characters are copyrighted to Marvel Comics (or Comics Marvel, whatever). We wouldn't hurt them, we treat them as though the're our own, no money is being made from this, yadda yadda yadda.


Prologue:

"X-Men - Sanjo!"

"Bobby, that's Japanese, not Chinese!"

"But I don't know the Chinese for go!"

"Never mind, WATCH YOUR BACK!"

*CRUNCH*

"Owww!"

"Told you."

"Storm, help me!"

"She's a bit tied up sugah, Ah'll help."

Scott shook his head as he surveyed the battle scene from his vantage point on a clifftop. Below him the X-Men struggled against the Acolytes. Normally, this would have been relatively easy, the Acolytes for the most part being pathetic losers :-), however in this case there was a minor hitch (well, major actually) Magneto had joined the fray. Even now he had Iceman at his mercy. Rogue flew to assist the beleagured X-Man. Exodus, seeing the threat to his lord, moved in to head her off with a vicious power burst. However Exodus had forgotten the history his lord shared with Rogue. As he approached, Rogue was surrounded by a magnetic shield. With a gesture Magneto brought the bubble closer to him.

"Why are ya doin' this Magneto?" Rogue asked him pleadingly.

Magneto sighed, the always seemed to be having this conversation, "I do what I must Rogue," he said tiredly, "For the good of our kind, to protect us."

"Those people were just scared when that boy manifested his powers. They didn't mean to hurt him."

"It's no use Rogue, we've been through this before," he said. "If you will persist in defying me, then one day you will have to take the consequences. But today at least, I can spare you." A magnetic blast pulsed through the bubble and Rogue fell from the sky. Magneto watched her fall, secure in the knowledge that her invulnerability would protect her.

Below, a small Chinese man was very surprised to see a beautiful American woman fall from the sky and land with a resounding splash in a large pool. He picked up a small sign by the pool and looked at it, "<Oh too bad sir...>"

***

Rogue 1/2 Theme song
(to the tune of first season Ranma 1/2 theme)

Yappa pa yappa pa don't know what to do,
My heart is not a game, it's poker to you.
Yappa pa yappa pa feel like such a shrew,
Who needs cheres? Don't you dare make me wild like you.

Before you femmes got on their knees,
Rogue Rogue it's me you always tease.
Since the day I ran into you,
Rogue Rogue you stole my powers and you
Don't you dare go and make me wild like you.

Somebody tell me why it's so hard
To say those three words; "I love you"?
If I let myself give in to you,
I'll become just a part of you!

Before you come in like a breeze
Won't you stop and ring the bell please?
Before you make my heart a home
Why not let me love you on my own?
I'd be better off without you
But just tonight it's alright
Until tomorrow alright.

Every time your hands touch me,
Rogue Rogue you make me feel dizzy.
Someday we may be more than "friends",
Rogue Rogue you've gone and done it true,
Don't you see you've absorbed me into you!

***

The battle finally over (another draw, noone died and the bad guys got away but empty-handed), Cyclops gathered the X-Men around him and realised with a start that one of their members was missing. "Where's Rogue?" he demanded.

"I haven't seen her since Magneto er... saved her." said Iceman.

"_Saved_ her? You sure bout de phrasing dere homme?" asked Gambit.

"Do not forget Gambit, that Rogue and Magneto have had a long friendship." reminded Storm.

"Friendship? Is _that_ what we're callin' it these days?" asked Wolverine with a grin.
Gambit looked blank, "What you talkin' bout?"

There was a silence. "Oh, did Rogue forget to mention that?" asked Iceman. "Uh, well you see..."

"This is totally irrelevant," Scott interrupted. "Rogue is missing and we have to find her. Jean, can you 'hear' her?"

Jean Grey put her fingertips to her temples, "I think I've found her... I think..."

"What's wrong?"

"Her thoughts are very confused, but I do have the location." She pointed to the valley of pools below them, "Down there."

"Well, let's be goin'!" snapped Gambit.

***

The Chinese man was mumbling to himself quietly as he waited for the kettle to boil and was slightly surprised when Beast tapped him on the shoulder."<How strange! I not recall _that_ spring.>" he said (in Chinese).

"Nihao," said Beast politely, "<We're looking for a friend of ours. A young woman with a white streak through her hair. Have you seen her?"

"<Oh sirs, very bad trouble.>"

Gambit panicked, even though he didn't speak Chinese, he knew something was wrong, "What? Where's she at?"

"I am endeavouring to find out Gambit," said Hank, "Please be patient."

"Patient? We find her uniform floatin' in one of the pools and you 'spect me to be patient?"

"What?"

"It's true Hank," said Jean, coming forward with the soggy uniform. "We found this over there." Hank turned back to the man, "<Please tell me what happened?>"

"<Oh very terrible sirs,>" said the man, as Hank translated, "<Your friend, she fall in cursed Jusenkyo spring, Spring of Drowned Skunk. Very tragic story of Skunk who drown in spring 500 year ago. Now whoever fall in spring take a body of skunk!>"

Hank finished translating and there was complete silence. Then Bobby leaned over to Wolverine; "Well, I guess we know what kind of herbs they use in that Chinese tea now."

"Bright Lady, look over there!"

The others all turned at Storm's gasp. A very wet, very bedraggled skunk with brown fur and green eyes was coming towards them.

"No," said Scott, "This is too ridiculous. Even for us."

Spying them, the skunk came charging up and rubbed itself against Gambit's boots.

"Eugh," he cried, recalling an unfortunate incident in his youth. "Get it away from me before it stinks me up!" He kicked the skunk, which promptly charged him and took a chunk out of his boots.

Bobby looked impressed, "That's one smart skunk!"

Jean just stood there, her mouth wide open. Scott gave her a worried look, "What is it?"

"The thoughts of the skunk... it... it... it IS Rogue!"

Hank leant down and peered at the skunk which was looking distinctly peeved. "That is impossible Jean, there is no way..."

"Hank, it's true. The skunk's mind is Rogue's... this whole cursed spring thing is true!"

Gambit (who'd been hopping up and down in pain) groaned. "I don' believe dis!"

"Is she goin' ta be stuck like that forever?" asked Wolverine.

"I hope not," murmured Storm.

Hank turned back to the Chinese man, "<Is there anything we can do to change her back?>"

"<Oh yes sirs, please to use hot water.>" The man indicated his kettle which had now boiled.

"You're not serious 'bout dis?" asked Gambit. "It's crazy!"

Jean glared, "You doubt me?" she asked frostily.

"YES!"

"How's your foot gumbo?" asked Wolverine.

"You're not seriously expecting me to believe dat all I gotta do is pour _dis_ water over _dis_ skunk," asked Gambit, suiting actions to words, "And den it...."

"HOOOOOOOOOOOOTTTTT!" screamed Rogue, "HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT!!!"

"Oh my God!"

"Goddess!"

"Chere!"

"Oh my stars and garters."

"What the..."

"Hey, she's not wearing anything!" said Bobby. "Heeeeeey, she's not _wearing_ anything..." he repeated, with a lecherous expression on his face.

Storm ripped off her cape and threw it to Rogue, who wrapped it around herself.

"BOBBY! SHADDUP!" she yelled. "Ah nearly _drowned_ there! I didn't know skunks couldn't swim! Thank God Ah've changed back."

The others agreed, (some of them a little belatedly) and Rogue turned to Gambit. "By the way Remy, about that little kick from before."

*THUMP*

After Gambit's nose had stopped bleeding, the team decided to leave as quickly as possible.

***

The Next Morning:

Rogue's alarm clock went off at 8am as usual, tinkling it's familiar tune, "Yappa pa, yappa pa..."

"Alright alright Ah'm up already! Quit it with the cheerful music!" Rogue snarled.

She blinked sleepily, grabbed a towel and a change of clothes and staggered towards the bathroom, looking for her usual cold shower to wake her up. She thought about the events of the day before and shuddered. Thank God it was all over. "Must remember to punch Erik in the nose next time Ah see him," she muttered, and turned on the shower.

***

It was the usual mayhem at breakfast:

"Bobby, you ice over my cereal one more time and I'm gonna..."

"Jean, can you pass the butter?"

"Sure."

"Aagh! By hand! By hand!"

"You didn't say."

"Jean, why is the butter floating in mid-air?"

"Drink your coffee Scott."

"Yes dear."

"I see Graydon's gaining in the polls."

"I know a certain someone with blue skin and red hair who's going to be unhappy about that."

"I know a whole bunch of people not a million miles away who are already unhappy about that."

"Speaking of, has anyone seen Rogue this morning?"

"Maybe she sleep in?"

"Wanna go wake her cajun?"

"Last time I do that, she t'row a pillow at me. Den I t'row it back. She not speak to me for a week."

"Would somebody _please_ feed the cat?" asked Jean.

There was a pause.

"We don't _have_ a cat." said Psylocke.

"Then what's this furry thing rubbing against my legs?" asked Jean.

Everyone looked at Hank, but he was at the other end of the table.

Everybody looked down.

"Oh dear," said the Professor, "Everybody stay calm, if we don't scare it, it won't spray us."

The skunk gave him a disgusted look.

"Hot water! Hot water!" cried Bobby.

Warren walked in with a kettle in his hand, "Can't wait for your morning coffee huh?"

Gambit grabbed the hot water just before Bobby did. "What you be tinkin of?" he demanded, "No wait, don't tell me."

Psylocke, Warren and the Professor looked confused. And the comprehension dawned as Jean telepathically filled them in. Meanwhile, Bobby and Gambit continued to wrestle for the kettle.

"_I_ got it," said Bobby.

"Fine, you want it?" asked Gambit, using his powers and letting go, "It's yours."

"Yipes!" Bobby dropped the kettle.

*BOOM*

Hot water sprayed everywhere, and as the steam cleared the rest of the X-Men brushed at themselves and glared at the two.

"Thanks a lot guys," growled Wolverine.

"You can say _that_ again sugah," drawled a familiar voice.

"Rogue!" cried Gambit, hurrying towards her.

"No! Don't touch me you fool!" Rogue held up her hands to ward him off. *ZAP* "Damn, too late. Now I gon' be tinkin' in cajun all day. However... oh Bobby..." her voice was sweet as she picked up a piece of toast and charged it. Bobby yelped and ran for it. Unfortunately, not fast enough. Jean stepped over the comatose man and wrapped the tablecloth around Rogue.

"So, it really _is_ a curse."

***

"Well, it's confirmed." said Xavier from the Danger Room observation deck. "Cold water triggers the transformation and hot water reverses it. However, we have yet to conclude what, if any, powers she retains in her changeform."

Jean and Psylocke stood amongst the buckets of hot and cold water.

"Ready Rogue?"

Rogue sighed, "Again? Alright, hit me."

Psylocke hurled the cold water at Rogue.

"Yeow! That's COLD!" Rogue-skunk shook herself and glared at Psylocke. The look clearly saying, 'did you _have_ to use ice water'?

"Okay Rogue," said Jean, "We know you can understand us so please demonstrate what, if any, powers you still have."

Rogue-skunk whuffled and pointed her nose at Betsy, who knelt. Rogue-skunk rushed up to the ninja and laid her nose against Betsy's bare arm. Nothing happened.

Betsy smiled, "Oh she's so cute like this." She ruffled Rogue's fur. Rogue promptly bit her.

Betsy's cries brought Warren and Gambit running. As Warren comforted Betsy (who was using words no proper English lady was supposed to know) Jean explained to Gambit what they were doing. Gambit grinned, "Can you fly chere?"

Rogue-skunk ran up to a little ledge and jumped.

Jean picked the dazed skunk off the floor.

"Well that answers _that_ question."

Gambit was laughing hysterically. Rogue-skunk glared and charged him. Gambit fell to the ground and saw large stars as Rogue-skunk jumped up and down on him.

"Okay," said Jean, "She does have her strength."

"How... oof... nice... argh... of... owww... you to notice!" gasped Gambit. He glared at Rogue-skunk, "You are so uncute like this chere!"

Rogue was soon changed back (after Gambit and Warren had left).

"This is awful," she sighed, "Ah can't go through life dodging cold water. It's bad enough not being able to touch anyone!"

"Well," said Xavier," We could go back to Jusenkyo. Hank and I have done some research and there is mention of a spring of drowned girl - that should turn you back to normal."

Rogue glared, "Was it too much effort for you to have done the research _before_ we went there in the first place?"

Bobby ran in, "Uh Professor... the... er... X-Factor people are here."

"Good," said Xavier, "Is it Forge or Polaris?"

"Well... nooo..."

"Who then?"

***

Mystique sighed impatiently. She would never have agreed to have come if it wasn't for the chance of seeing Rogue. What really annoyed her was the fact that Sabretooth had been sent with her.

Xavier entered, "Good afternoon. I trust we can finish this quickly?"

"Don't worry Chuck, I don't wanna be around here longer than I have to be," growled Creed.

At that moment there was a loud splash.

"BOBBY! YOU JERK!" screamed Jean.

Mystique raised an eyebrow, "Trouble in paradise?"

Xavier looked distinctly embarassed, "Well..."

"By the way, how's Rogue?"

Xavier looked even more embarassed, "She's... fine."

Mystique and Sabretooth looked at each other. They'd been around long enough to be able to tell when someone was lying blatantly through their teeth.

Mystique stood and loomed over Xavier, "Tell me Charles... is something wrong with my daughter?"

Bobby burst through the room, "Mad skunk! Mad skunk!" he ran across the room and leapt out of the bay windows. An extremely pissed-off skunk barrelled into the room, skidded on the wooden floor and crashed into the couch.

Silence.

Mystique frowned, "I can't say I like your taste in pets Charles. Or is this your new security system?"

The skunk looked at her and whuffed. A terrible sense of doom washed over Mystique as she looked into the familiar green eyes.

"Oh no... don't tell me..."

Sabretooth sniffed, "Hey, that smells like..."

"Xavier! You I kill!" Mystique leapt at the Professor, morphing into a fanged monster with purple hair. Xavier hastily threw himself aside.

"It wasn't me! It was an accident! Magneto did it!"

"Pitiful!" cried Mystique, "I thought better of you!"

Rogue-skunk, having had enough of this, darted out the door.

Mystique turned, "Oh my baby! Don't go!"

"Don't worry," assured Sabretooth. "I can sniff her out," he grinned. "Course I could do with some incentive."

Mystique said nothing.

Sabretooth inhaled deeply and then gasped and choked. Mystique smiled, "Ooooo, does the poor widdle puddy-tat smell something bad?"

Sabretooth collapsed, eyes watering. "Yep... *wheeze* she's your kid."

Rogue strolled into the room in a bathrobe, steam rising off her.

She smiled, "My, Ah didn't know ah could do _that_."

Xavier sighed, "Could someone turn on the airconditioning?"

Just then the alarm went off.

"Wrong button!" Xavier yelled.

"No, right button! We're under attack!" yelled Scott, barreling into the room. "It's Magneto and the Acolytes!" [Sounds like a band. Josie and the Pussycats. Jem and the Holograms. Magneto and the Acolytes... *THWAP* Owww... that hurt Orla. - Jaelle. Mwahahahahaha - Orla.]

"Oh great," said Sabretooth, "It's a visit from the loser brigade. Don't worry though kiddies. Raven and I will protect you."

"Good plan," said Mystique. "You go charge them and I'll watch your back."

"No no ladies first."

"I'm no lady. After you, I _insist_."

"Will you two stop arguing and come fight already?" Rogue demanded as she finished buckling her uniform and flew out the bay windows after everyone else.

Sabretooth and Mystique glared at each other and charged together.

***

The fight was fast and furious, with the Acolytes putting everything they had into it. And in the middle of the fight, Rogue once again found herself confronting the master of magnetism.

"Rogue," said Magneto, "Get _out_ of my way. This mission is too important to let anything stop me. I _must_ have that information."

"You got bigger problems that that sugah," she spat, "Erik Lensherr prepare to die!"

"You seek to stop me fair one?" he asked in an injured tone, "Very well then. I am the Master of Magnetism! The one they call the Blue Thunder of Avalon!" With that he "threw" a steel bar at her. Rogue started an attack run when Storm shouted, "You are not welcome here Acolytes! Begone!"

The Mistress of weather gathered all her power and unleashed it in a huge deluge of wind and rain against the Acolytes. Unfortunately, Rogue was quite close to the Acolytes.

"Storm NOOOOO!!" she shrieked, and Magneto stared as she fled, trying to outrun... He blinked again as a crack of lightning illuminated the now dark grounds. He could see her costume falling, and in it something wriggling. Noone was nearby - the X-Men were all trying to chase off the remaining Acolytes so he followed Rogue down. He caught her uniform a foot above the ground and was surprised when a skunk fell out of it. He stared some more when it tried to charge him. Magneto picked up the wet animal and looked into it's green eyes.

"Who did you absorb _this_ time?" he wondered. The skunk glared at him. He could hear the rest of the X-Men approaching so he touched the bedraggled creature under on arm and flew away.

***

On Avalon:

"We failed to get the information my Lord," Exodus started as soon as they arrived back.

"I am aware of that Exodus. This is a setback but not a major one. We shall merely have to rely on other sources." Magneto brushed him off.

"Are you alright Lord? You seem a little preoccupied," one of the other Acolytes asked.

"I am quite alright Unscionae," Magneto said. "Everybody get cleaned up and have their injuries taken care of. I shall be in my quarters if I am needed."

Inside his quarters he pulled Rogue-skunk out from a fold of his cloak and dropped her on a table.

"What am I going to do with you?" he wondered. The skunk turned and whipped up her tail.

"Rogue, we are in space. All of our air is recycled. If you spray here we will all suffocate." he said, hoping that she didn't know enough about the workings of his asteroid and the air conditioning system to call his bluff.

Rogue-skunk sourly turned back to face him and glared.

"Thank you," he said gravely. "Now just behave," and he walked into the adjoining room.

Rogue-skunk watched him go, turned away, and then turned back as her attention was caught by the sound of rushing water and the faint tendrils of steam that floated out of the room.

Erik lowered himself into his large deep bathtub, grateful that even standing up the water reached only midway up his chest, as the warm water eased his aches. He was half-frozen from Storm's storm and this was just the thing to rela... *SPLASH*

He straightened in surprise and stared at the bubbles coming from the opposite end of the bath.

"Rogue?" he asked and moved towards them.

*WHOOSH* Rogue's head surged out of the tub as she stood up.

Erik's jaw dropped as she wiped her face and pushed her hair out of the way. They stood there for a while.

"My Lord, here are the results of those tests you..." Exodus' voice trailed off as he looked up from the papers he was carrying. "I... uh... ummm... is there anything you need Lord?"

"Just another towel Exodus," Erik said tiredly. "You can _leave_ it out in my main quarters."

"Yes sir," Exodus departed hastily.

Erik looked at Rogue, who was still glaring at him. "Would you like to explain this?" he asked.

"Me? This is all _your_ fault Erik!" she snarled, throwing the soap at him. He easily avoided it... and the shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, razor, mirror and soapdish she also threw.

"Rogue, will you please calm down?" he asked.

"I will not! This is your fault Erik, you jerk!" she aimed a punch at his nose, but he caught her arm and held it, "Calm down!"

"What?" Rogue stared at his hand gripping her fist. "You... you can touch me?!!!"

"Of course I can," replied Erik, "Now will..."

"You PERVERT!!!"

Erik's head rocked back as the force of Rogues slap left a perfect imprint of her hand on his face.  Rogue got out of the bath, wrapped a towel around her, and stalked back into the other room.

Erik rubbed his cheek gingerly and grinned suddenly, "She's so cute when she's angry." he murmured.

***

"I can't believe dat you used a rainstorm Stormy!"

"I am tired of hearing you go on about it Remy! I have already apologised several times!"

"That don't..."

"SILENCE!"

Scott hit the table. Remy and Storm glared at each other one final time and then looked away. The X-Men were gathered in the Ready Room discussing the battle with the Acolytes. Well, trying to anyway - Gambit had not stopped shooting his mouth off since they began.

"Yes I agree that it is distressing that we lost Rogue, BUT remember that Magneto failed in his objective." Xavier pointed out.

"But Charles," said Jean, "Don't you think that he'll use Rogue as a bargaining chip to make us _give_ him what he wants?"

"I expect he will."

Bobby sighed, "It's a pity we can't get Magneto to Jusenkyo and make him fall into a spring... _that_ would keep him out of our hair."

Everybody looked at Bobby.

"Wha... what did I do now?"

"My goodness," murmured Betsy, "Bobby actually had a good idea!"

"Hey!"

"Hmmm... if we did get Magneto to meet us at Jusenkyo then we could also look for the Spring of Drowned Girl," said Beast. "Then once he brought back Rogue we could turn her back!"

"Wait a minute," said Jean. "What are we thinking? How could we wish the Jusenkyo curse on anyone? _Even_ Magneto."

"Yes, well you have a point," conceded Scott. "We can't lower ourselves..."

"Are you kidding mon ami?"

"I hope he falls into a mean one bub!"

"Ha! Imagine a cat or a pig with a bucket on its head!"

"Good one Warren!"

"No charge Bobby."

"Bright Lady - let Magneto take the plunge!"

"_Storm_!"

"Oh sorry Jean, I got carried away."

Xavier hid a smile, "I can see there is a consensus - to Jusenkyo!"

"Yeah!" everybody except Psylocke posed dramatically.

"Ummm... I hate to point this out," she said. "But how exactly are we going to _find_ the Spring of Drowned Girl?"

"..."

***

"And that's when Ah realised Ah had been cast into hell!" Rogue finished her story with a dramatic flourish. Magneto shook his head, "I am truly sorry that it was my action which caused this Rogue. Please forgive me."

Rogue sighed and smiled, "Oh Magnus, of course Ah... DON'T!!!"

Magneto ducked the desk that hurtled at his head.

"Who do Ah look like? A Good Samaritan? Ah hate you! You moron!"

Rogue leapt at Magneto, fists ready. Magneto grabbed a cup of cold water and threw it at her. He then plucked the soggy (and irritated) skunk from the depths of the robe she had been wearing.

"I told you to behave, whatever form you're in!" he commanded sternly.

Rogue-skunk hissed.

"Stop that! Now, as I am indirectly responsible..."

"*SNORT*"

"Alright alright, as I am _directly_ responsible I will help you to find the Spring of Drowned Girl and turn you back to normal."

Rogue-skunk squeaked excitedly. Magneto smiled, "Hmmm... this may work to my advantage... I can use you to trade for that information I need."

Rogue-skunk bared her teeth, Magneto set her down hastily. She jumped up and down on the table, shaking it and creating ominous cracks.

"Rogue, this isn't helpful!"

"Uh... Lord?" Exodus came in rather tentatively, then he saw the skunk.

"Aaaaaagh! vermin on our sacred ground... it must be destroyed!"

*CRASH*

Magneto plucked Exodus out from under the remains of the desk he had just thrown at his devotee. "Whatever made me do that?" he wondered out loud, dragging the unconcious Exodus out into the hallway. "I could have just stopped him with my powers. Hey! What the..."

Rogue-skunk scampered past him and down the hallway. Magneto dropped Exous with a thud and charged after her.

"Rogue! Come back here!"

The Acolytes were extremely astonished when a skunk crashed through the wall of the audience chamber and skidded to a halt.

"Wow!" said Scanner, eyes wide. "A mutant skunk... is Lord Magneto allowing us pets now?"

"Don't be silly," said Milan. "I'm sure there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for..." His voice trailed off as Magneto rushed into the room. The Acolytes bowed but he ignored them and grabbed the skunk by the scruff of its neck.

"I suppose it didn't occur to you to use the door at least?" he demanded of the wiggling animal. "You aren't helping yourself at all."

The Acolytes stared as their Lord tucked the skunk under his arm,

"Now behave," Magneto told it. "Or I'll use hot water and take you to the Springs stark naked!"
Magneto then realised where he was. "Uhh..." he drew what was left of his dignity together. "Carry on, carry on." and stalked out.

Rusty Collins leant over to Scanner, "Do you think the pressure of his position has finally taken its toll on Lord Magneto's mind?"

***

Magneto went back to his chambers and placed Rogue-skunk on his bed, wrapping her in the covers to prevent escape. He then contacted the X-Men.

"We've been expecting this," said Cyclops, after Magneto had made his demands. "Alright, we'll bring the information - you'll meet us at Jusenkyo, in China, in seven hours."

Magneto frowned, what were the X-Men planing? Still, he'd intended to go there himself anyway. Besides, once he had the information and then rescued Rogue maybe she would be so grateful that... Magneto's hand went to his nose as he felt a slight dampness. Damn, nosebleed.

"I will come," he told Cyclops in a muffled voice and quickly cut the transmission.

He wiped his nose and went to the bed, "Rogue, we need to talk."

There was a muffled wuffle from under the bedclothes.

"Well, of course you can't talk as a skunk!"

Magneto picked Rogue-skunk up and went into the bathroom. The hot water was sill in the tub, although it was no longer as warm. He threw her in.

Rogue surfaced, blinking water out of her eyes, "What d'ya do that for?" she demanded.

"I need to talk to you," he said. "I've spoken to the X-Men and they've agreed to exchange you for the information I require. We're meeting at Jusenkyo in 7 hours, which means if we leave now we'll have about five hours to search for the Spring of Drowned Girl."

"Well, why didn't you say so? Gimme my clothes!"

"Umm... unfortunately we left them in a puddle back at the mansion."

"What are we going to do then? I certainly can't go to Jusenkyo in a dressing gown!"

"How about in a carry-cage?"

"Not unless you wanna be picking your teeth up offa the floor."

"I thought you'd feel that way," Magneto said. "Unfortunately we're somewhat short of casual clothes up here, and if I'm transporting both of us and meeting the X-Men I don't want to waste power I might need creating you clothes so..." he put an Acolyte uniform down by the bath.

"Oh no, Ah ain't wearin' that!"

"There's no other option! The only clothes not in this design are mine!"

Rogue fumed, "Alright, but you gotta lend me one o'your bucket helmets."

"Why?"

"Because Ah don't wanna be recognised by any o'mah friends wearin' this stupid getup."

"Humph. We're leaving in 20 minutes, be ready."

***

"He took the bait," reported Scott. "He's meeting us at Jusenkyo in 7 hours."

"So if we leave now, we'll have 5 hours to find the Spring of Drowned Girl!" said Storm. "Let us depart at once!"

"You know, we still haven't figured out how to _find_ the spring," said Betsy.

"Oh... something will turn up."

***

Two hours later:

"Ah can't believe you brought me here to find the Spring when you don't speak a _word_ of Chinese!" snarled rogue, adjusting her helmet.

"Not true, I know "Nihao" - it means "hi"!"

Rogue swiped at him, "That is not what I meant! How are we going to find the Spring when we can't even read the signs?"

Just then a small Chinese man stumbled onto them, "Oh hello sirs. You need help? I am official Guide to Jusenkyo."

"You again? Hey, how come this time you can speak English?" Rogue asked, recognising him.

"Speak many languages sirs. You need Guide?"

"Yes," said Magneto, "We most certainly do."

"Then follow me. Oh, be careful you not fall in that Spring." he pointed one out.

"Why not?"

"That spring full of pirahna."

"Spring of Drowned Pirahna?"

"No no... is not cursed... is just full of pirahna."

"Oh." Rogue and Magneto looked at each other and floated a foot off the ground, "Lead on."

The Guide walked into the brush.

***

[Background Music: Road to Nowhere]

The X-Men land and follow Beast as he reads signs. Betsy takes Warren and Bobby with her and Jean takes Scott and Gambit as they split up to look, having had a telepathic crash course in Chinese. Wolverine and Storm stay with Beast.

Scenes of the X-Men and Magneto and Rogue just missing each other - Betsy and co bend over to read a sign on the ground and are obscured by a bush as Magneto and Rogue follow the guide past... then they stop and take a side path. Just as they get out of sight Scott wanders down to the main road and so on... This goes on for four hours.

[End music]

***

Gambit, Cyclops and Jean rounded a corner and stopped in shock. There was Magneto, arguing with a Guide, and next to them was Rogue in an Acolytes uniform with a spare helmet on.

"I... I don't believe it," said Cyclops.

"I'm sure there's an explanation," said Jean.

"Grrrr... Rogue you dummy! What you be doin' wit dat jerk!?!!" Gambit charged up to Rogue and tackled her.

"Whoulfn. Hey!" she said, "What are ya doin'?"

"Why you joining him?" Gambit demanded.

"Ah ain't..."

"Oh sure, dat's why you're wearin' an Acolytes costume!"

"Geez Gambit, listen t'_mah_ side for once would'ya? He's only tryin' to help me find the Spring..."
Rogue was cut off as a magnetic bubble surrounded her and lifted her away from Gambit.

"And what are _you_ doing here so early?" asked Magneto. "Is this some kind of trick?"

"We just tryin' t'find the Spring of Drowned Girl," spat Gambit.

"What an amazing coincidence. So am I. So why don't we make _that_ the appointed rendezvous? See you there in an hour." Magneto, Rogue, and the Guide floated away.

***

One Hour Later, at the Spring of Drowned Girl:

"At _last_," said Magneto. The Guide had finally brought them to the Spring (after taking them past the Springs of Drowned Pig, Cat, and Duck). Rogue looked dubiously at the pool, "Are you sure this is the one?"

"Oh yes sirs."

"Okay... cause Ah don't wanna turn into anythin' else."

"That must be it!!!"

Magneto and Rogue turned and saw the X-Men charging towards them.

"Right," said Rogue. "Well Magnus, this is where Ah leave ya!"

Magneto sighed, "I thought you would."

Rogue flew up into the air, but before she could fly away Magneto drew a bottle of water from his cloak and threw it on her.

"You bast... *whuffle*" The helmet fell to the ground, Rogue-skunk inside it. Magneto picked her up, she bit his hand. He smiled, "That won't work dear Rogue, I'm wearing reinforced gloves."

The X-Men arrived on the other side of the Spring. Cyclops held up a disk.

"Here's the information you wanted Magneto, hand over Rogue."

"Hand over the disk first."

"Ha!" said Gambit. "You t'ink we fall for dat one? No - you give us Rogue first."

"No, the disk."

"Rogue!"

"Disk!"

"Rogue!"

"Disk!"

"How about sending them over at the same time?"

Everyone looked at Psylocke. Cyclops scratched his neck in embarassment. "Well yes, we could do that."

Magneto cleared his throat, "Of course, that was my next suggestion." He held up Rogue-skunk. She squealed frantically, her noises roughly translating as, 'Ya have gotta be kidding!'"

"Ready?" asked Cyclops.

"Yes."

"NOW!"

Cyclops threw the disk, Magneto threw Rogue-skunk.

"Squeeeeeee... *THUNK*"

The disk hit Rogue-skunk on the nose. She scrabbled frantically in the air for a moment and then fell like a stone. *SPLASH*

"Rogue!"

"The disk!" Magneto saw it floating in the spring, "No!"

"Well," said Psylocke, "I believe everyone lost on that one."

"Rogue chere!" Gambit knelt at the edge of the pool. The water bubbled and Rogue flew out.

"It's not everyday you see _that_," said Bobby, his eyes goggling.

"Owwwwww!!!!" A bolt of magnetic energy had hit him on one side and a charged card on the other Rogue dived for the abandoned Acolyte costume and at a speed almost surpassing Quicksilver's, pulled it on.

Magneto smiled at Rogue, "I'm glad the cure worked."

"Oh, really?" Rogue glared at him, a green low surrounded her body. "Ya throw me around like that and... and... grrr...." She picked up the Jusenkyo sign. Magneto backed away, "Rogue, calm down."

"Shut up... you... you... you idiot!"

She swung the sign in a wide arc and hit Magneto with all her considerable might.

"Oh my stars and garters," Hank shaded his eyes as he looked into the sky, "With that trajectory he should land right on Avalon's doorstep."

"Alright," growled Rogue, "Who's next?" The X-Men scattered. Unfortunately Bobby caught his foot on a root as he ran and fell. Jean paused in her flight and half-turned undecided, should she help him or not? She eyed Rogue who was bearing down on him and shook her head. *After all,* she consoled herself mentally, *He was asking for it*.

"Aw c'mon Rogue, can't you take a joke?" begged Bobby. Rogue shook him, his teeth rattled together nicely from his upside down position as she grasped his ankle.

"Of course Ah can sugah," she smiled sweetly. "So now Ah'm goin' t'play a little one on you."

"Jean! Scott! Help me!"

"You're on your own!" Scott yelled from behind a bush.

Rogue flew into the air, "Okay Bobby, pick a Spring."

"B-but I can't read Chinese, I don't know what they are!"

"Ah'm aware of that... now PICK A SPRING!!!"

Bobby shut his eyes and pointed.

"Sayonara sugah!" Rogue threw him. There was a loud splash.

Scott gasped, "I can't believe she actually did that!"

"I can," said Jean.

"I have to check on Bobby," said Scott.

"Sure hon, I'll make sure Rogue has calmed down."

Scott ran off. The rest of the X-Men approached Rogue warily.

"So, ummm... how are you doing?" asked Warren.

Rogue stretched, "Oh Ah feel much better!"

Gambit put an arm around her, "Nice to see you back to normal."

Rogue shook him off, "D'ya mind Gambit? Ah haven't forgotten your treatment of me!"

"I protest!"

"Hey," Wolverine spoke up, "I didn't know penguins inhabited China."

They all turned, a penguin was coming towards them... on an ice slide.

Rogue giggled, "Oops! Looks like Bobby found the Spring of Drowned Penguin!"

Jean frowned, "Where's Scott? I can't hear him on our psychic link... oh no!!!" She went pale and swayed. Wolverine supported her.

"What's up Red?"

"That I suppose," Psylocke pointed. A bear cub was ambling towards them, a ruby visor over its eyes.

"Scott! Darling!" Jean ran to her husband and picked him up.

Rogue groaned, "Now we're gonna have to find the Spring of Drowned Man!"

Jean looked up, she was smiling, "Oh I don't know, perhaps it will be okay."

They all gaped at her.

"Well... I get cold feet in winter, a nice furry bear would be just the thing to warm my toes, and he's so kawaii!" [Cute]

***

Magneto hit one of the airlocks on Avalon with a thud. An alarmed Exodus let him in the space doors. "Are you alright Lord?"

Magneto staggered into his quarters. "I will be fine Exodus. I just want to relax and forget the past 24 hours."

"Perhaps a hot bath would help my Lord?"

Magneto fainted.

***

THE END.

***

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