Chapter 3: Pouring
"Fruitcake," Kitty Pryde said angrily, staring down at the sheets of yellow lying on the light-colored wood before her. Two textbooks sat near her arm as she glared despairingly at the work beneath her, showing the beautiful gold bold type print on their glossy covers revealingly. Modern Algebra, The American Heritage College Dictionary.
She hated teachers. They weren't human.
Yes. Yes they were. They were human and she wasn't, so that made it perfectly fine to search through her locker with suspiciousness born out of nowhere and pronounce the five stickers she had of various bands posted on the sides "inappropriate." And then it was perfectly fine to charge her five hours of detention and extra homework for it.
For something I didn't even do!She groaned out loud and buried her face in her arms, blinking back the scalding hot tears that threatened to overflow and cascade down her cheeks. I didn't know that we weren't supposed to paste posters -- everyone else was doing it--!
"Kitty?" A hesitant knock on the wooden door behind her sounded quietly.
"Go away Kurt," she moaned, her answer muffled through her sweater. She got a taste of wool washed too many times. "I just wanna be alone."
He frowned at the door. "I'd like to, I really vould," he said sympathetically, "but Ororo told me to get you for dinner."
"Zere's blueberry muffins for desert…"
Sighing, he tried the door, found it was locked, and rolled his eyes. Teleporting inside with a flourish, he sat down lightly on her bed and laughed as she coughed and swatted the purplish air around them with a hand. "Come on," he teased, bouncing on the cushions, his tail moving wildly, "I vanna eat. I'm not going anyvhere with you acting like a sulking brat princess." Glancing at the bed behind him, he frowned slightly. "Have you seen Rogue? She vas not at training…"
"The term is jappy," she said angrily. "No, I haven't, she hasn't been up here since four. And since when did I give you permission to just barge in here, Kurt? You could have just asked --"
"Oh right, and you were just going to let me in." He snorted. "I don't zink so."
"Yeah, well…" She sat down on the bed next to him, and flopped down with a thump. "I don't like it when people barge into my business, you know?"
"Yes, I know. We've had zis conversation before, no?"
"Yeah." She hugged a purple and pink pillow to her chest. "But, like, no one cares anymore. Its all just, "oh, I'm in a hurry, can't talk." She frowned into the plush. "Jean, like, totally knocked into me this morning and didn't say she was sorry."
Kurt scratched behind his left ear as it twitched slightly. "You're right, that iz worrisome. Miz Perfect, not saying sorry for somezink?"
"Yeah. Isn't that totally whacked? But she was just like, running down the hall in such a hurry, and she didn't even say anything at all, just 'shit.'"
The furry blue teen wrapped his hands around his throat and fell onto the cushions beside her, his tongue hanging out of his mouth and his eyes wide open. "Heelp…" he whispered, rasping. "I'm having a -- what do you call it here? -- heartattack!" Thrashing on the bed, he pulled the giggling girl beside him and grinned, still holding onto his neck. "Miz Perfect iz being a total bitch!"
"Kurt…" She said, flopping away, "stop it! Man!"
"Aw, come'on Kitty, have some fun --"
"You, like, furry blue thing, get out of my room!" She growled at him and scowled, turning her face into an exact replica of Logan without a shagadelic beard. "Tell Ororo I'll eat in my room, if she forces me. I can just like, phase through the floor if she refuses, so tell her that, Mr. Wagner."
"Fine." Standing up, he brushed his clothes lightly off before sticking out his tongue and disappearing in a puff of purple smoke, leaving the smell of brimstone behind him. Two seconds he reappeared. "Here." He threw her an apple, and disappeared once again.
She moaned once more.
"Is there no privacy in this house?"
She watched the moon rising quietly above the outlined trees in the forest behind her, resting her feet atop the stone bench, her knees tucked underneath her chin and her fingers sprawled across her bright pink shoes. They weren't hers, of course -- they were borrowed from Kitty. It was a gesture of acceptance of her "condition", and just the fact that she just wanted something new, something not dark, something light colored and bright, something not her so that maybe she'd stand out among the others like her for once. Lord knew there were enough Goths in the world.
The school grounds had been always like she remembered them; long halls, filled with people who hated her, people who wanted to spit in her face, people whose very notions of religion and vast spiritual beings clashed with their own beliefs of self preservations. She'd always thought that if they had anything to fear, it wasn't them, but themselves, like the old saying that adorned Professor Hank's walls near her seat -- we have nothing to fear but fear itself.
As if they knew that,something whispered to her. They don't even want to look at you, let alone know something that could shake their confidence about you.
"Shut up in there," she said quietly, rubbing her temple with a slight crease between her eyebrows. "Ah've got enough to worry 'bout without you guys bustin' a gut."
They didn't go away. She knew she should have told the Professor when she'd woken up, she knew he couldn't go into her mind without permission, she knew that he knew that she knew that he knew. And although it was complicated enough without the stupid voices chorusing in her head day and night, she knew that she could take it, so she clamed up. It was a war, they were living in, and they were all stressed enough, so why add more to it?
"Its not like they need more of it," she stubbornly hissed, reassuring the tight feeling sneaking up the back of her spine and settling in the back of her neck. "They've got their own problems. Ah can handle it."
The small stone pillars that reached around her cast long shadows from the moonlight across the reddish-brown patio. Ororo's plants reached from their oval pots and clambered towards the tops of the towers and columns, the silken ivy and others wrapping themselves around the cylinders. The early rains that had come down earlier in the month had soaked them well, causing the amount of growth from their internal passages to nearly double.
Recent rains had also soaked everything in sight -- the hard ground, people, plants, buildings, cars. The water had also delighted Ororo, whose happiness was easy to see as she mediated about Rogue's head, beyond the garden pillars and above her own bedroom window. Her white silvering hair flew out above her and crackled with electricity; she had told Bobby earlier when he had asked about it about the beautiful sounds that she heard when she flew there, just listening to the sounds of the storm. It was a pity, she'd said to her class sadly, sweetly, that all of them couldn't fly. That they'd love it. That they'd enjoy it like nothing they'd ever had before.
The water ran overhead over the stone ceiling; she shifted her arms and wrapped the black cloak she wore around her shoulders over them, not surprised at the white gooseflesh that made itself known. The air was chilly, and she wasn't about to go and walk into the pouring rain in nothing but a cloak and a pair of bright pink shoes. The garden was close to the Institute, merely about thirty yards from the back, but the rain was hard enough that she didn't feel like risking it. So she just sat there, and watched it hitting the panes behind her, the droplets hitting the small dark specks dried onto the clear surface.
She hoped the flooding wouldn't get into the basement levels again; the last time it'd happened, the last level before the earth had seeped in, malfunctioning the valuable instrument known as the washing machine and everyone residing at the Institute hadn't been able to wash their clothes for a week. It'd gotten to the point where Kitty and Amara had come up with a plan to douse their T-shirts in Dawn and rinse them in cold water in the bathroom tub. It'd worked, but Rogue had figured that it was worth the money and gone to the laundry mat near the school. But she wasn't a prep or a jappy bent on destruction should their clothes be destroyed. She instantly winced, taking back the thought hesitantly. She knew they couldn't hear her thoughts, not being telepathic, but as it was, honestly was the one last thing she had left in the world.
Suffice to say, though, the flooding had ruined the good drain they had down there and had plugged it up so well it was weeks before the plumber could fix it.
Sewers. Aww man, she thought with slight anxiety. Hope they're doin' OK down there.
She'd seen Ray off when he'd left three days ago, and she had helped him come back, too, her and Bobby and Amara. She and Bobby, together, by her draining just the slightest bit of his powers for two minutes without knocking him out, had managed to slide the heavy trunk towards Scott's car, which the recent graduate had begrudgingly let them borrow for the purpose of goodwill. Amara had welded wheels onto one of the old trunks that Jean had unearthed from storage, so that once he was on his own Ray would be able to move. After her job was done, the fiery girl asked Rogue quietly why she was helping them doing it, when all the others wouldn't.
She'd explained quietly that she'd done it because she missed the Spyke man. He was one of the few people she could tolerate in the world, and one of the few people who liked her back, and if he was gonna stay with friends, OK, just as long as he was safe. But he better not be forgetting them, because if he was she was gonna drain him 'til he keeled right over on his spike-adorned butt.
It was more complicated than that, but she let it go at that because of the stupid stubborn feeling creeping down her spine, for the sake of lying desperately when she really didn't need to. It just never went away, that urge, and one should always feed their urges before they completely devour you. She was suddenly glad she'd never taken up smoking.
Ray hadn't talked much about it. She had a feeling he was mourning for something, although he wouldn't' say what. She let it go at that.
It wasn't like she didn't have secrets of her own.
It was close to midnight, she realized, as she stared at her spiked watch behind her jangling bracelets. She'd better get inside before something woke Kitty and the girl realized that there was an empty bed next to her. Kitty was a light sleeper, not being fully recovered from the many things that had happened to her during the night, and the effect of having insomnia many times didn't exactly let her fall into a deep sleep, despite logic. She'd woken Rogue before, a lot, and they'd gone many times together before the "break of ze hate" as Kurt called of it, out to the diner down a couple blocks down, passing the Professor and grabbing a pass from the hall.
They couldn't do that anymore. There were people who slept in their yard, trying to kill them.
She shouldn't even have been in the yard after curfew, she realized, glancing warily at the bushes rustling in the wind behind her. Damn paranoia -- now it'd gotten her too, like it'd gotten to the younger recruits. On the trips she took to the bathroom during the night, she usually saw Roberto and Bobby's room light on, the light murmur of voices leaking under the door. All of them, all of the kids (they hated to be called kids -- God, even Jamie was a freshman now, but she called them that anyway), looked behind their shoulders at every turn. It had even got to the point where some of them pulled out mirrors before turning a corner. It was ridiculous that they did that, and even more ridiculous that it actually proved useful more than once.
She was constantly flooded with insufferable rage at their pale faces staring up at her every night from their homework at the table. Just this afternoon she'd found Jamie leaning against the door, all five of him, each of them adorned with at least one eye blackened and some blood running down from their noses. She'd helped him turn back into one and managed to support him until they got to the medical ward, indignant tears shimmering in her eyes and her gloved hands stretching the fabric as they crunched into a tense fist. The Professor had assured her that he'd be alright, it was only a couple of bruised ribs and a hard knock on the head -- but she saw it, the look in his eyes. Being untouchable made you think about people's minds more than their touch, for the sake of distracting anger.
"God dammit," she cursed, wrapping her arms around her waist and grimacing at the shadows, stepping off the bench lightly and walking the few feet towards the entrance, which was slowly wetting the stone towards a light brown color. "He's jus' a kid. He shouldn' have ta go through that…" She trailed off in mid sentence, hearing a slight rustle behind her in the failing rain as she walked towards the back entrance of the school.
She flung around and crouched, kicking the bushes now in front of her with a roundhouse turn and hearing a pained "oomph" from the direct middle with satisfaction. Reaching into the foliage, she took hold of a collar and pulled, angrily, frustrated at her lack of hearing before. Stupid rain, ruining mah concentration…
Pulling the person close, almost to her face, she almost laughed out loud as she stared at the bedraggled form of Scott Summers. There would have been a time when she would have blushed and started fidgeting, apologizing and stammering, but she didn't have the energy or the pure happiness to dredge that feeling up to her cheeks and neck again.
"Sorry," she said simply, letting go of his sweater collar as he coughed. "But yeh shouldn' have sneaked up on me like that, idiot."
"I know," gasped the boy -- she still thought of him as a boy, she couldn't help it -- "but you weren't in bed, and I was worried…" he trailed off as he went through another coughing fit shortly, and stood up straight slowly, sniffing and rubbing his forehead. "I thought you were someone… else… in there," he said quietly, nodding his head sideways towards the greenhouse.
She decided to let this go, and concentrate instead on the sentence he'd said before, pretending to ignore his hesitation in his last spoken words. She stared at him with a hand on her hip, automatically suspicious. "Jus' a minute, mister, how'd yeh know Ah wasn't in mah bed?"
A faint blush appeared on his face -- hell, faint nothing, she could see it even with the faint rain pouring slightly in between them. Cocking an eyebrow, she tapped her foot expectantly, enjoying his falter with obvious enthusiasm even though she knew it was going to cost her later. He opened his mouth, blinked, closed it again, then started again with difficulty, "I don't know."
It was her turn to blink. "What?"
"I dunno," he mumbled softly, so unlike himself that she stared at him with vague surprise.
"What've yeh done with Scott?" She asked, pointing at his tender stomach, and staring as he winced anyway. "Where's the stupid strong headed rebel idiot who "met" meh durin' lunch?"
"That was an accident," he said indignantly, the shaded glasses he wore slipping down his nose in the wet slop that was the rain. "I… I wasn't watching where I was going."
"Yeah," she said, the one eyebrow still up there, high. "It was actually pretty obvious, if yeh'll believe me."
"Mmmm." He gave an unintelligible grunt and straightened, the faint blush he wore fading. "You're to go inside, Rogue. You're supposed to be in bed, what if the Professor woke up and sensed you here? You're already --" He stopped suddenly, his face passive, and then moved quietly let out a breath through his nose.
"Already wat, one-ah?"
"Nothing." He gripped her arm and started steering her back towards the house. "We've got to get back, Kurt's already worried--"
"Ah'm not going anywhere," she spat, brushing his grip off her with disdain, "until yeh tell me wat yeh said." Her eyes narrowed dangerously. "Kurt's worried, is he? Well, that explains it," she hissed, "Ah'm on thin ice, aren't Ah? Isn't that wat you're talkin' bout?"
"Rogue, no, I --"
"Y'all keep talkin' behind mah back, sayin' those nasty things, and yeh obviously believe ah can't hear you, huh? Well think again, hotshot. Ah'm hearin' yah loud an' clear." She felt her vision blurring. She was concentrating too hard. "Ah'm a murderer and there's nothin' y'all can do about it."
The hood was down and her hair was soaking wet, her face tight and her lips pursed. Scott reacted as if slapped, and stepped back, his pale face contorting. After a minute, he tried again.
"Don't understand -- don't think you're a murder --"
She laughed high-pitched, her voice cracking. "No? Then wah does Miss Perfect call me that behind mah back, huh? Actin' like Ah can't hear her, like Ah--Ah'm just a statue at the dinner table?" She winced, feeling her sharp fingernails digging into her palm as she realized what she had just said, and at the look on her companion's face.
"Jean doesn't think anything like that," Scott forced out, hotly, his face now flushed with anger. "You're delirious, Rogue. That fever you had this morning must be serious; we've got to get you inside before you catch anything else. You're already weak enough." He gripped her arm and despite the screeching that she commended to, he pulled her along until they reached the top of the back steps, the gutters pouring out reluctant spouts of water that tainted the sidewalk a rusty brown. He entered the access code and, ignoring her protests, shut the door behind them and pulled off her hood.
"Come on," he said softer, noticing the shivering that convulsed her body as he gently pulled her towards the grand staircase on their left, "let's get something warm for you. You're freezing."
"…Rogue?" Sulfur and brimstone littered the halls, as Kurt Wagner bamfed to the space directly in front of his fellow soaking pupils, dressed in light green nightclothes complete with hole cut for long blue tail. His face was pale blue and his jaw was tight as he stared, worried, at his shivering sister. "Are you alright, shvester…? Kitty said you weren't in bed, ve vere verried --"
"Ah --" She mumbled, abashed at the look on his face, and at the flush creeping up to her cheeks. "Ah'm… fine, Kurt. Yeh don't have to worry about me."
The boy in front of her shook his head. "Vhat, are you crazy? You were gone, ve thought you'd been kidnapped, Jean kept babbling about somethink about dinner rolls, Scott said he had a dream about you fallink --"
Kurt stopped short at the look on the older boy's face. Rogue smiled grimly and clutched the flimsy black blouse she wore against the cold, the tension making her laugh inwardly despite herself.
"So, pretty-boy had little a dream about meh?" She asked quietly, anger muffled and simmering directly below the surface, amusement bubbling around with the rest and the voices chorusing complaints in her head. "Well, that certainly explains a lot…"
"It isn't like he's in love with you or anythink," the younger boy said defiantly, ignoring the various gestures Scott was waving at him from behind and above Rogue's head. "He just woke us all up tellink us that you'd been kidnapped. Totally different circumstancees."
"Let's go to bed."
"Good idea, one-ah. I wanna be able to sleep with the knowledge that Ah've at least caused you enough discomfort fer one day."
Scott. Rogue. Kurt.
They jumped, startled, and she felt Scott's hand gripping her arm once again. "…Professor?"
Rogue, Kurt, meet me in the library right away. Scott, go wake up the others.
Bad. She could feel it, it was bad. Her brother was licking his lips nervously, as she took his hand and they started trudging up the stairs after Scott, too preoccupied to think of doing anything else. "…Professor? Is it -- somethink bad, sir?"
I'm afraid so, Kurt. Now, please, hurry.
Twenty minutes later the group stood around the study, the younger students rubbing their eyes and trying to look alert, and failing at it, while the older circle stood apart, their eyes wide and dark. Their eyes adjusted slowly to the dark library and the thousands of books that adorned the sides as the adults stood as silent and as waiting as the children themselves.
"Everyone," Professor Charles Xavier said to the team known as the X-men, his hands clasping together nervously and tightened, "Pietro Maximoff's body has been found near the clocktower near the school."
She barely had time to hear Kitty's choked scream before her stomach churned and her head felt light as she felt arms holding her up as she heard voices calling her name, and hands touching her face as she shook with the knowledge that she didn't want to know this.
And one voice in her ear, her mind, telling her that it wasn't quite over, yet.
Review? Oh, yes, I would like a slice of that, thank you. You're such a kind host.