Things at X-World are going downhill fast for our white and brown-haired heroine. In this chapter, I include references to Rogue turning to alcohol to deal with her problems. I choose this because Rogue is young, 21 years old in this story, and people that age often experiment with alcohol. Don’t worry once life turns around for Rogue, she won’t turn to drink any longer.
Chapter Nine: An Academy Award Goes To…
It was February 2nd and Rogue had been rooming with Jubilation Lee for exactly 3 weeks, 2 days, 6 hours and 4 minutes. Rogue knew exactly how long it had been because Jubilee’s energetic, effervescent personality was driving Rogue to drink, literally.
She had moved in with Jubilee after discovering her former roommate, Kitty Pryde, was sneaking around behind her back with her then boyfriend Bobby. Having a cheating boyfriend wasn’t bad enough; it had to be her closest friend at Xavier’s who was an accomplice. To add insult to injury, Rogue’s deadly skin mutation was back and it was deadlier then ever. All this left Rogue feeling anything but stable. It isn’t hard to see why she might want to escape in drink.
It started with a night cap after Jubilee had spent two hours dissecting every interaction she had had with her latest crush Peter, also known as Colossus. Jubilee had spent over 45 minutes describing the way he had helped her wash the dishes the night she had kitchen duty. Jubilee, anything but tactful, had actually managed to avoid mentioning the blossoming relationship between Bobby and Kitty that everyone else at the mansion seemed thrilled to see. Everyone else but Rogue and Logan.
Logan had threatened to gut Bobby in less than 6 seconds with his claws. Rogue hadn’t really wanted to tell him not to. She was spending more and more time with Logan now that she no longer on speaking terms with Bobby or Kitty. Logan was her closest friend at the mansion but he couldn’t adequately replace Bobby and Kitty as someone to talk to. For one thing Logan was older, a guy, and never spoke in more than monosyllables unless forced to.
Seeing all the time Rogue spent around the Wolverine, Jubilee’s overactive, boy crazy imagination flared out of control. Talking to Rogue that night, she had made pointed hints that now that Jean Grey was out of the picture, Logan might return her feelings. Feelings based on a crush that was almost four years old and had dissipated into a comfortable friendship. Rogue couldn’t stand Jubilee insinuations.
She had excused herself and padded to the kitchen in her pajamas and white cotton sleep gloves. When she found no one in it (a rarity with so many growing, young men at the mansion), it had seemed harmless to fix herself a stiff one. It was a SoCo on the rocks, the way Janis Joplin used to like.
A week later she had progressed from night caps to after dinner drinks from a bottle of Maker’s Mark Bourbon she had smuggled into the mansion and hidden in her closet inside the red duffle bag she had hitchhiked with. After a third week of Jubilee’s continuous gossip, hurt looks from Kitty, and cold stares from Bobby, Rogue decided to start each day with a Screwdriver made from adding Stolichnaya Vodka to her morning orange juice before the other students woke up.
Rogue knew what she was doing was wrong and was increasingly worried Logan could smell the liquor on her breath, but she needed something to get through the days at the mansion which had taken a distinctive turn for the worse after the battle at Alcatraz.
Gone were the happy days when Professor X had kept a firm hand and ever vigilant mind over the school. With the loss of teachers like himself, Jean Grey, and Cyclops, subjects like European History had been temporarily cut and the younger students had bigger and bigger class sizes. Only Storm, Dr. McCoy, and Logan were left of the teachers Rogue had had when she had taken high school classes at the mansion.
Storm’s time was consumed by the day-to-day logistics of running the school and shouldering the political and social mantle she had assumed by becoming its headmaster. Every time Rogue tried to meet with Storm, she was pulled away to discuss some issue with a donor or confirm a public appearance at a mutant tolerance rally.
Dr. McCoy carried much of the burden of teaching, his lectures spanning elementary school math to advanced biology. With all his time full, Rogue knew he wasn’t able to devote much energy to helping to make more of the Cure for her. She didn’t necessarily blame the Beast for his slow progress. However, she desperately wanted more of that glowing green liquid and she would occasionally day dream about trying to recreate it herself.
Logan, who once had the travel bug as badly as she did, had settled down as though he had intended to become a full time X-Men in the first place. The loss of the Professor and his love Jean Grey had had a big effect on him and he took the duty of filling their respective shoes seriously. Logan started teaching more classes than just P.E. and combat readiness. He completely took over the Danger Room sessions, moving effortlessly into his new role as chief inflictor of sore muscles and hard lessons learned as the younger mutants battled it out in simulated warfare.
The Wolverine’s efforts to teach English classes on the other hand didn’t meet with the same success. Logan could barely stand the British Romantic poets, let alone analyze their cultural significance. With all respect to her friend’s well meant efforts, Rogue still believed Logan was the worst teacher she had ever seen. She could tell he really cared for his students, considered them like young cubs in his pack, but it was painfully obvious that Logan hadn’t read a book in his entire life.
Rogue knew the time was coming when she would move from student to teacher at the mansion. Soon enough older students like herself, Bobby, Kitty, Jubilee, and Peter would have to step up and begin to contribute to the smooth running of Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. And with the position of teacher, came a position on the team of X-Men, complete with custom black acrylic X-jumpsuit.
A week later Rogue had a meeting scheduled to meet with Storm, Beast, and Wolverine in the Professor’s office. Every one still called it that even though the Professor would never spend another day inside its walls. His wheelchair rested respectfully in the corner, begging the question, “What would Professor Xavier have done, if he was still here?”
At first Rouge had worried she was in trouble, until Jubilee had pulled her aside to share the latest gossip which said that the three instructors were in there deciding the fate of the X-Men team. She approached the office slowly, not too eager to meet with Storm and Co. about her role in the X-Men after she had so recently been trying to destroy her mutation with the Cure.
As she neared the door, Rogue couldn’t help but overhear Beast’s loud voice as he said:
“Do we tell her that she won’t be receiving anymore of the Cure?”
“Are you sure there’s no hope, Doctor?” Storm’s pleasant mezzo alto voice was more difficult to hear through the closed thick wooden door.
“There’s a movement in Congress backed by the Mutant lobbyists and the administration to ban the Cure permanently as an illegal substance. The lobbyists claim it is a “Hate” drug designed by humans to eradicate mutants from the Earth. My sources tell me the administration wants to keep its formula under lock and key for itself to be used only under its auspices and its terms. They mean to keep it a controlled substance, where it could be used by them under a state of emergency.”
“So they don’t want to keep selling the Cure, but they’re still pushing forward with the Mutant Registration Act?” Logan questioned the Beast.
“Yes. Magneto’s destruction of the Golden Gate Bridge has made it almost certain to pass within this term. They’ve also added a provision to have registered mutants fitted with RFID transmitter tags so they’re movements could be tracked by the Department of Defense.”
“They can’t allow that. That’s a blatant violation of our constitutional rights.” It was easy to hear the fear and anger in Storm’s voice.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Munroe.” There was a long pause. “Public sentiment for mutants has never been this bad before. I have to say things may get far worse before they get better.” A longer pause followed that.
“But couldn’t you get her a little more of the drug? Make it maybe?” Logan’s tone was quiet and hopeful and Rogue waited with bated breath to hear the Beast’s answer.
“It’s not an easy drug to make. It took Worthington Labs ten years to create it. I can’t imagine being able to produce more of it without detailed chemical lab procedures. I doubt we would be able to get our hands on those.” Dr. McCoy must have moved because his voice came from a different angle behind the door. “Personally, I am against the Cure. But in cases like Rogue’s…”
“Poor Rogue. She took the failure of the Cure really hard. And now her issues with Bobby and Kitty… How can we expect her to work with them on the X-Men?” Storm’s words froze Rogue in place.
“The kid’s a survivor. The three of them will work it out.” Logan came to her aid and she silently thanked him.
“So it’s settled she will fly the X-Jet?” the Beast said.
“Her powers only work at close range and she doesn’t like to use them. She’s a decent fighter in the Danger Room, because she’s fast and smart, but she’s too weak to be overpowering. I can never see her being a part of a strike force, except in some tactical sense.” Logan offered his expert opinion.
“She’s a liability to us in most fights.” Beast said.
“Yes, her mutation isn’t much of a help to us.” Storm followed and Rogue fought back tears behind the closed door. “We’ll train her to fly the X-Jet.” Storm’s voice was decisive as though the matter was a closed issue. Rogue fell against the wood-paneled wall of the mansion she had been leaning against. She was a liability to them.
Even Logan felt that she would never be a strong enough combatant to be much help. Sure, she had considered the issue before and she knew she would never have Wolverine’s strength, Bobby’s long range ice-shooting abilities, or Kitty’s transpirative defense, but she was doing her best to be useful. It wasn’t too easy to train for combat when you had to keep your gloves on for fear of hurting anyone and if you “tagged” them, they had to freeze in place.
So now the truth came out. There wasn’t a place for her on the X-Men team, except in the capacity of jet chauffeur for a team she would never truly be a part of. That team would include Bobby and Kitty, and Rogue would be forced to eventually put their differences aside. But she wouldn’t do so unless someone physically forced her. Till then she wasn’t on speaking terms with the Ice Prick. He could shove it up his frost-cold ass for all she cared.
Rogue laughed to herself in the hallway. She was a mutant, so she didn’t fit in with humans. But she was such a weak mutant; the other mutants had rejected her. If God didn’t have a cruel sense of humor, she didn’t know who did. She couldn’t help but wonder if Magneto had been pulling her chain about making her more powerful than Jean Grey. She shook her head. That’s what you get for listening to the ravings of a madman. Soon she might become so desperate that she would begin to believe in them. Perish the thought.
After steeling her resolve a moment more, it still took all of Rogue’s inner strength to walk to the large brass-handled door leading to the Professor’s study and knock. She had been greeted by a friendly: “Come in” from Storm and Rogue had walked in and closing the door behind her, hoping her watery eyes didn’t give away what she had heard. She tried to study the patterns on the rugs because she wasn’t sure she could look them in the eyes and contain her anger.
“What y’all want?” She managed to get out after a moment of studying a grey elephant holding a log on the rug.
“We’re here to discuss what courses you’d be interested in teaching here Rogue.” Dr. McCoy’s blue face looked kind but Rogue couldn’t forget the words she had just heard him say a moment ago. A liability.
“We’re giving the older students like you a chance to help teach our younger mutants. You’re majoring in Philosophy at Harvard, right Rogue?” Ororo waited for her to give a nod. “Are there any subjects you’d most like to teach?” Rogue’s eyes left the comforting curve of the palm tree next to the elephant on the Persian carpet. She answered with more strength in her voice than she had thought she had left.
“English, if Logan don’t wanna teach it anymore. Otherwise, Ah’d like to work with the youngest mutants. The elementary level ones.”
“I have my hands full with the Danger Room as it is. I’d love it if you wanted to take a class or two Marie.” Logan gave a smile that Rogue couldn’t discern. She guessed he must be happy to get out of struggling through the lectures.
“You’re a favorite among the children Rogue, so I am sure they would love to have you as their teacher. How would you like to start with the 5-7 year olds in August?” Storm asked.
“That sounds just peachy.” Rogue put on her best Southern belle smile, letting the Mississippi slip into her voice to cover the pain she felt must be as visible in her countenance as if she was wearing a big glowing neon sign.
“Thank you, Rogue. You understand how much work we have cut out for us to get the school back into shape.” Storm said.
“Ah know.” Rogue pretended in her mind she was Scarlett O’Hara wearing her mother’s emerald green curtains to visit Rhett Butler in jail. If she didn’t think about what she had just heard while ease dropping in the hallway, Rogue could act as if it hadn’t happened. She tried to give her best performance.
“Now that you’re a teacher, you’re also going to be an official member of the X-Men. Congratulations Rogue.” Dr. McCoy handed her a pin and an X-Men cell phone. She studied the bizarre object in her hand as if it would bite her any minute. Rogue noticed the Nextel symbol printed in the lower left corner, nearly eclipsed by the dark grey “X” faceplate. The pin was a thin black X outlined in silver and it looked cheaply made, not something she would ever wear on a dressy outfit.
“The pin is an emergency homing beacon. If you press and hold it for 30 seconds it’ll send a signal to the mansion.” Logan told her.
“Without Professor Xavier or Jean Grey to run Cerebro this is the best system we have managed to devise.” The Beast informed her.
“Ah don’t know what to say. Ah’m mighty flattered you guys think Ah’m ready.” Rogue drawled out.
“Don’t mention it Rogue. You’re a valued member of this team.” Storm had replied, absolutely straight faced. Rogue gripped the cell phone so tightly she was sure she would snap its stupid grey “X” shaped face plate in two. She smiled sweetly at Storm and said “Thank You” while inside her head she decided she should win an Oscar for this performance. An academy award goes to Marie D’Ancanto for her performance as happy, obedient Rogue, the mutant who gets her hopes and dreams stepped on by everyone she has ever trusted and never says a word in complaint.
“Hey kid, we were wondering if you were interested in learning to fly the X-Jet.” Logan’s face wasn’t smiling like Storm or the Beast’s. His tone was quieter and less gruff than usual.
“Um, sure Logan.”
“Logan’s going to take you for some piloting lessons over at the airport in Albany. Does Tuesday work for you?” Storm asked.
“Sure,” Rogue replied as the spike was driven into her heart a little further.
After the meeting Logan pulled her aside: “I smelled you the whole time outside that door, Marie.”
“Why didn’t you say something?” Rogue wouldn’t meet his gaze, but she felt a little comforted just smelling the old cigar smoke on his worn leather jacket.
“I figured you had the right to hear a discussion about yourself.” Rogue looked up at the Wolverine’s bushy hair. Slowly she gave his cheek a stroke through the fabric of her black opera length gloves, feeling the bristles of his beard through the fabric.
“Thanks Logan. Ah appreciate it.” Rogue took comfort in the idea she had at least one true friend in the older, hardly tame mutant. It appeared that Logan was the only one at the mansion these days who was sticking up for her. She prayed that Logan was here to stay for good this time and didn’t get wanderlust again, leaving her for months on end. She wouldn’t survive another month at the mansion without him.
Notes: Some people have objected to my trash talking Logan here: mentioning it was unlikely he had ever read a book. Remember, he has little memory of his past and original education and that he doesn’t particularly act like the type to curl up with a book. I could see him reading other things: like a newspaper, much more readily than any type of literature.
Also, I know that the X-mansion is much closer to NYC that Albany and it is unlikely that the X-Men who ever use that airport. But for the sake of the story ignore the little detail of distance and pretend that they might take flying lessons there.
I think Dr. McCoy took a position as ambassador to the UN at the end of the third movie, but for the sake of the story just assume he didn’t. Also for the sake of the story, just accept that Logan, rather than Storm who knows how to fly, takes Rogue for flying lessons. Also ignore the idea that she could have trained on the X-Jet back at the mansion. You’ll see why she needs to go to the airport in the next chapter.
Preview: Magneto and Rogue meet again at the Albany International Airport. Will Magneto succeed in his plan to steal a 747? Will Rogue and Magneto kiss again? Who knows!
Write reviews. Give suggestions. Seriously, if I don’t get four reviews for this chapter I’ll hold off writing the next.
I’m serious. (Gives mean author stare). I know who you are. Click review now. Go to Chapter 10