Chapter Twelve: Always Blame Your X
T. S. Elliot once said that the world would end not with a bang but with a whimper. Rogue’s world, on the other hand, had ended with a bang: the bang of the Bowing 747 lifting off from Albany International Airport at 7:26AM with Magneto, Mystique, and Pyro on board. As Rogue had sat on the frigidly cold concrete floor of the hanger bay and tried to make sense of how much her life had changed in the last hour, Logan had begun to stir. His body had lain at Rogue’s feet, where he had succumbed to unconsciousness after Rogue had drained him nearly dry with her deadly mutation.
It had taken Logan 20 minutes to feel well enough to drive Rogue back to the mansion. Rogue was intimately familiar with Logan’s phenomenal healing mutation and she knew that 20 minutes meant she had brought Logan right to the brink of death with her skin. Without a word, Logan had picked up the gloves he had given Rogue just that morning from the floor of the hanger where she had dropped them in her haste to stop him with her mutation. He had handed them to her without looking her in the eye and turned to walk out of the hanger bay. Rogue had followed him walking several steps behind, not eager to see the pain of betrayal in her friends brown eyes. They had raced away on the motorcycle immediately after that to avoid meeting with the Albany City Police Force, Department of Homeland Security, and Capital News 9, Albany’s local TV news network; that had already begun to swarm the scene of destruction at the airport.
Rogue had clutched onto Logan for dear life on the ride back to the mansion as he pushed the bike to speeds as high as 98 mph. She knew she was the cause of his distress and she searched her mind to discern where she had begun to go wrong, why all this had occurred. She couldn’t figure how things had gotten so out of hand, so quickly. And with Logan’s thoughts and memories in the forefront of her mind, Rogue could see just how she and Magneto had looked when he had walked in on them. The sight of their passionate embrace was utterly damming. There was no way she would be able to explain this away.
The thirty minute drive had given Rogue time to think about the events of the last few months and examine the circumstances leading up to her self-destructive tryst with Magneto against the aluminum blinds in the airport’s private lessons office. Rogue’s desperate need to feel touch had driven her to do things she would have never thought herself capable of. She reflected back on her urgent, furtive search to find more of the Cure after her first dose had worn off and the lonely, ultimately ill-fated trip to San Francisco that had started her down the path of seeking help with her mutation from Magneto.
Rogue had dug her own grave with the frenzy she had entered into after learning she had only two months left to touch. She had been the cause of her own destruction, sleeping with Bobby, ignoring the problems in their relationship, partying without any thought to her responsibilities, and taking up a drinking habit to drown her brain that was screaming at her how wrong her actions were. Somewhere in the back of her mind she had sensed her impending doom, but only now did she see how inevitable it all had been.
How much of the ruin that her life had become was because Rogue wanted to make Bobby happy? The sad look on Bobby’s face when she had been too afraid to kiss him had made her want to touch even more strongly if not for her sake, then for his. Rogue had stopped her introspection after that, afraid to look any deeper into the abyss of blame.
Logan had held onto the left sleeve of Rogue’s green nylon sweater as he escorted her directly to the Professor’s study. The helplessness of knowing there was nothing she could do now to reverse her fate made Rouge feel as though she was a spectator rather than a participant in the events that followed. She had gotten the distinct impression she was back in elementary school and was being dragged to the Principle’s office because she had touched a boy inappropriately.
As Logan gave Storm and Dr. McCoy a detailed account of what had gone down at the airport, Rogue had sat on the soft green leathered mahogany chair in the Professor’s study with her hands neatly folded on her lap and her head bowed deep in thought wondering what the elephant on the Persian carpet would do with the log he held in his trunk. Rogue knew that Dr. McCoy and Storm had watched her with mistrusting gazes throughout Logan’s speech, disbelieving that anything so unlikely had really occurred.
When the moment came for Rogue to explain herself, she found it easier facing her judges then she had believed it would be. She experienced a sudden relaxing wave of calm as she realized that she had nothing left to lose in the eyes of the three X-Men. They already thought so little of her and Rogue knew her days at Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters were numbered that their approval or disapproval no longer mattered to her.
With her honey-sweet voice, Storm had asked Rogue what she had to say for herself. Rogue had taken a moment to contemplate the vivid colors of the carpet before answering. She had not been able to look at the white-haired woman. Just seeing Storm’s white hair reminded Rogue of Magneto’s and made a guilty blush creep onto her cheek. Continuing to look at the patterns on the carpet, Rogue had related her earlier encounter with Magneto at Alcatraz. She made an unconscious decision not to mention their first kiss, skipping over that fact without really considering it. Rogue was already in the dog house and had no desire to infuriate the sensibilities of the trio before her anymore than she already had.
Speaking in a tiny, audibly ashamed voice Rogue then explained in detail Magneto’s offer of help and his revelations about the hidden nature of her mutation. Rogue breezed by the make-out session Logan had walked in on, giving the excuse that she was so thrilled Magneto could touch her without being hurt she had gotten carried away. In her mind Rogue wasn’t as sure that was the true reason she had kissed Magneto back but she feared the resulting conclusion of such a disturbing line of thinking.
She ended by requesting to be allowed to search the Professor’s files for more information about the psychic block he had put on her brain. With an eye to improve their opinion of her, she had pointed out several advantages her improved powers could bring to the X-Men.
Storm had looked over at Dr. McCoy, a mixture of condemnation and reluctance on her face. Logan had his back to the two, still refusing to look at Rogue, he was starring out the window, and his head hung in abject disgust. She was reminded of the wretched expression a puppy develops if it has been cruelly abused by its owner. Logan’s passive disappointment hurt Rogue worse then if he had taken his claws and drove them into her stomach repeatedly. With a deeply worrying pang, she wondered if her friendship with the Wolverine was unrecoverable.
After a moment of silence in which Rogue had suddenly known with blinding clarity her days at the X-Men were over, Storm explained that Rogue couldn’t view the Professor’s records. His files were stored on his computer but they were password protected and no one had been able to access them since his untimely death.
Leaving the Professor’s office, Rogue had walked the halls of the mansion as though it were her last time. She found herself studying the well-used carpet her feet tread on and examining the wooden paneling that she found so pleasant. With an attention to detail a person only experiences when they try to consciously record a memory, Rogue walked to the common room.
There she met with the sight of many of the school’s mutants glued to the television watching the Capital 9 News Report of the “Mutant Terrorist Attack at Albany International”. She had come in at the moment where the reporter was showing grainy black and white security camera footage of Pyro blasting two fire trucks in wild abandon. Rogue thought she ought to leave before the others noticed her presence, but a tap on the shoulder told her she was not quick enough. She turned around to face the last person she wanted to see.
“Is it true, Rogue?” Bobby asked his arms folded in front of his blue wool sweater. Bobby looked so handsome in that posture with his chiseled jaw and Ken doll-like face, Rogue wondered if he would have ended up becoming a model if he had not been born a mutant. Not for the first time his male beauty bothered Rogue in a way she could not explain.
“Is what true?” She didn’t back down from his accusatory glare, no matter how cold it felt. Instead, she straightened her posture, squaring her shoulders and holding her head high. Her hands at her sides balled into fists.
“That you kissed Magneto.” Rogue considered asking where he had heard the rumor or chastising him for believing it. She even decided for a moment to deny it and denounce it as a total fabrication. Just then Storm had entered the room with Logan and the Beast trailing behind her, presumably to watch the news report. Logan’s well toned body walked with none of its usual swagger and Rogue studied him until his head finally rose and looked back at her. Seeing what might be tears’ forming in Logan’s eyes was too much for Rogue. She lost every ounce of composure she had and reeled on Bobby with a ferocity that was distinctively the Wolverine’s. She decided she would mind her manners and try to be the more mature individual no longer.
“Yes, Ah did kiss him.” She said loudly so the whole room could hear. Even to her own ears her voice did not sound like her own. It was imbued with a confidence and timber deeper than she had had before. “He’s a much better kisser than you Bobby.” There she had said it. But feeling on a roll she couldn’t stop herself. “And you know what else? Magneto’s gonna teach me to control my mutation so Ah’ll be able to touch again. But Ah’m not gonna waste my touches by fucking you anymore Bobby. Not that it matters, you got Kitty for that now, don’t you? Ah sure hope you’re better to her then you were to me. You were a lousy lover and an even worse boyfriend. Not that Kitty deserves to be treated well, mind you.” Rogue turned her gaze to eye her former best friend sitting on the sofa watching them with an expression that looked like she had just sucked a lemon bone dry. “Only the worst type of creature betrays a friend like she did.”
Bobby backed away from her then, his lips tightly pursed and his eyes showing an anger that said he was not happy with her attempt to give him a comeuppance. Kitty looked as though she might melt into the floor she was so stunned. Turning on her heel then, Rogue had stuck her chin up and kept her head firmly facing forward, ignoring the shocked visages of her living companions that she could feel starring at her back. She took slow graceful strides as her boots making rhythmic clicks on the parquet floor. She waked from the common room to the kitchen, where she removed an apple from the fruit bowl on the counter and exited the room, leaving it so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.
Rogue had made it to the stairs when she felt a firm but soft hand touch her arm though her sweater’s sleeve. It had been Logan who stopped her, his mouth hanging open as though he had forgotten to close it in shock. She did not speak first, instead only openly looking at him from eye level while she had paused on the first step of the stairs. Internally she had dared Logan to finally call her bluff.
“Magneto?” He said after a minute passed. The question could have referred to a million different things: was he really a better kisser, was she leaving to go to him, did she trust him, had he offered to help her. It didn’t matter what the question was, there was only one answer to Rogue.
“You’re leaving?” She had not entertained the option of staying since the airport. She had known she had to leave more resolutely than she had ever known anything in her life. However, Logan’s pleading face had made her heart waver momentarily.
“Why?” He had heard the logical reasons in the Professor’s study only shortly before, so Rogue knew he was asking for her personal ones.
“This ain’t where Ah belong anymore.” She could tell he disagreed with that. “Ah ain’t appreciated here and no one tries to help me deal with my skin. Ya’ll look at me as though Ah’m some sort of person to be pitied rather than to be accepted. Worse none of ya seem to want me around. Everyone thinks Ah’m good fur nuthin’. Ah can’t be an X-Men anymore; this ain’t the place Ah need to be right now.”
Logan had no response for her. After a minute of absorbing what she had said, he embraced Rogue holding her snuggly to his chest.
“This is goodbye, then.”
Rogue hadn’t let the tears forming in her eyes deter her. She wiped them on her sleeve as they started to run vigorously down her cheeks. In the room she shared with Jubilee, Rogue began to pack her red duffel bag, removing the Maker’s Mark Bourbon she had hid in it, leaving it out in the open on her dresser as she choose between her 30 pairs of gloves.
When she sat down to compare the respective advantages of her white opera gloves vs. her black ones, she remembered Magneto’s black leather gloves she still had in her back pocket. Pushing her opera gloves to the side, she had pulled out the large gloves. They were a men’s large and were made by Gucci, Rogue had discovered when she checked the tag inside. Feeling the soft, well-preserved leather in her hands, she had looked towards the open door of her room then; making sure no one would catch her.
With butterflies in her stomach she slid first her left hand into one and then her right. The gloves were far too large for her and Rogue’s fingers didn’t nearly fill them, there was at least two inches of extra room at the end of all ten digits. My, he must have long fingers. Rogue inhaled a deep, heady breath as her mind thought of other appendages. She began to pull the gloves off then, only to stop herself. She forced herself to continue wearing them alternating between feelings of repulsion for what they represented and a jarring sensation of heat that ran from her stomach to her toes.
It wasn’t possible for Rogue to suppress the distressing thought that she was attracted to Magneto any longer. Ignoring the ethical dilemmas, it was still a very odd and unsettling development indeed. Magneto was many decades her elder, certainly a distinguished looking older man, but no equal to Bobby in looks. Rogue had never been the type of woman to seek a father figure, but she was none the less drawn to Magneto in an undeniable way. She felt as though her body was betraying her by its very attraction to a man who was a ruthless terrorist and who had come so close to killing her four years ago. Rogue abhorred the feelings Magneto produced in her even while she excitedly awaited her next chance to see him. Her abrupt need to wear his gloves represented all these mixed emotions.
She packed mostly clothes, a few toiletries and her laptop while wearing the oversized black gloves. She had stopped her efforts when she came to the part of her dresser that held her clothing from when she had been on the Cure. The camisoles and shorts were out of season and she couldn’t possibly need them for several months in light of the fact it was still early February. She packed two of her favorite crushed velvet spaghetti-string camisoles and a pair of corduroy short-shorts.
Rogue wasn’t going to give up on her dreams of touch anymore. No, now more than ever she believed that she would conquer her mutation.
Notes: Wow, even I’m shocked by Rogue’s behavior and I wrote it. Let me know if you think she went too far, I’m not sure it works for her character. The line were Rogue thinks “Somewhere in the back of her mind she had sensed her impending doom, but only now did she see how inevitable it all had been.” is basically a one line description of the last two years of my own life. The speech Rogue made to Bobby is very much based on my own failed relationship that ended under the same sort of terrible circumstances.
Magneto continues hatching his plans for world domination and mutant supremacy. Rogue shows up at the Brotherhood’s headquarters. Go to Chapter 13