An alternate universe fiction by fudje based on X-Men: Evolution. If Mystique taught Rogue about mutants and her own powers from the very start, and treated her a little more as a child and not purely a power source, what would that have meant for the young southerner?
Disclaimer: 'X-Men,' the 'X-Men: Evolution' storyline, and all related characters are property of Marvel Comics. I don't own a thing, only my warped perversion of the story, and they have the right to take even that away. Story is not party to the traditional good vs. bad sides. Represents the views of the X-Men as often naïve and sometimes stupid. Contains sexual references that are not advisable to be realised in the real world. Not recommended for mass consumption whilst on low-intellect diets. Produced in a plant owned by a nut.
A Little Backstory
Mystique smiled as she hung up the phone. So, it would be soon? Good thing she'd bought an expensive present for her next visit to her little girl, then. Picking up a little velvet box from her dressing table, the blue mutant opened it and surveyed the necklace inside. On a black leather thong was a brass pendant of Celtic design. Inside a simple knot engraved on the pendant was the Ogham rune Ruis, the Elder, embossed with silver. Both fitting and ironic, she thought.
"Avalanche!" she called, snapping the box closed again.
The orphan ran hastily to her room, but chose wisely to stop at the door. "What is it, Mystique?" he asked.
"I want you and Toad to stay away from Xavier's kids for the next few days," the shapeshifter replied in a commanding tone. "They shall soon be departing for Mississippi to recruit a new mutant and I do not want them distracted. Understand?"
Lance frowned and proceeded to ask a question that would have been suicidal had Mystique not been in such a good mood. "There's already four of them, and they have that Wolverine guy. Shouldn't we be recruiting, too?"
Instead of yelling at, pounding, or otherwise being mad at him, Mystique smirked. "Don't you worry about that, young Avalanche. They will not be successful."
Something clicked in the boy's head. "Should we–"
"Your presence will not be required. I only have to sow a little doubt in the girl's mind on the intentions of the X-Men, and she will come to us."
"I-if you s-say so, Mystique," Lance stuttered. It really did creep him when she spoke with so much confidence about the future. "I mean, y-you're the boss." He didn't need to wait to know he was dismissed.
Mystique smiled wider as the boy disappeared. 'She's already mine, anyway,' she thought as she slipped a ribbon around the box. 'My little Rogue. I still remember when we adopted her….'
Irene looked at the bundle in her friend's hands. She may have been blind, but that didn't prevent her from seeing. "You are planning to look after her well, aren't you?" she asked. "You know how your son, Graydon, feels about you."
"He's more Victor's son than mine," cursed Mystique. "And it's not my fault that overgrown ball of fur wouldn't look after him."
"It was you who deposited him in that boarding school," chided Destiny. "And you other son? The blue one?"
"Kurt?" A moment of sadness washed over the shapeshifter – all that Irene needed to be sure, but brief nonetheless. "He's in the best care he could be, now. Gypsy folk, and a circus too. With how he is, it's the best place for him until he's old enough to look after himself, and he certainly doesn't need to be attached to my affairs. He's fragile, you know?"
Destiny smiled. Then she frowned slightly. "She's about to wake up, Raven."
Mystique morphed into the form of a tall and strict woman hardly a second before the child she was holding woke up. The four year old blinked a few times as her new mother set her down on the ground, and refused to step far away from her.
"It's okay, dear," Raven said, "this woman is a friend."
Irene reached a hand out towards the girl. "My name's Irene. What's yours?" she asked.
The girl stepped backwards away from the seer, but Mystique pushed her forward. "Don't know," she said.
This puzzled Destiny, but she smiled anyway. "Well, we're going to have to find out, aren't we? What's a name you like?"
"Do I have to have a name?" complained the girl.
"It does help you get along in life," explained Raven. "So people know who you are."
"I don't care," exclaimed the four year old. "I don't need a name, 'cause I can be anyone!"
This took Irene and Raven by surprise. It was almost as if she
somehow knew…. Finally, Raven broke the silence.
"Well, you are quite the little rogue, aren't
Little did she know that this branding would stick.
The child smiled mischievously. "I had a friend called Anna once," she offered. "If I need something to go by, I suppose that would do." She then glared at Raven. "Do that thing – be funny coloured again!"
Raven was again startled, but quickly smiled at the girl. She morphed back into her true self. "Well, well. You're quite the attentive one, too. Anna it is then?"
The girl shrugged. "If I have to. How do you do that?" she asked curiously.
Mystique appeared to be making a hard decision for a moment, and then relaxed and sat down on a couch. She patted her knee, and much to the surprise of both adults, 'Anna' immediately rushed over and sat on it, reading her new mother's face attentively.
"Well, let me tell you a story. There are a few people in this world who are special. Gifted. I am one, Irene is one, and one day you too shall be one. A very special one indeed…."
Irene was amazed by the amount of trust that this girl put in Mystique, but decided it was for the best. The child did, after all, seem otherwise to be extraordinarily intelligent.
Thus is was that Anna, who soon acquired the nickname 'Rogue,' around both the house and when she started school, began a new life with the mutants Mystique and Destiny. Learning all about her kind and what she would become, helping to unravel Irene's prophecies and learning the techniques of living that Raven employed. She was eager to reach her full potential, and learned fast. Rogue had become an agile and athletic fighter and a knowledgeable student of many arts by the time she was thirteen, a fateful age when she would spend the last of her time under the direct care of her adoptive mother, and meet for the first time a boy nearing manhood who would teach her even more about the arts of deception, espionage, and secrecy.
Jean-Luc surveyed the crowd on the streets of New Orleans, his hand on his surrogate son's shoulder. He was looking for two things, one specific, the other less so. A contact and a target. He spied a wealthily dressed man in the crowd and tapped on his son's shoulder. When there was no response, he looked down at him, and then followed his gaze. Standing not far away from the girl that he was staring at was the very person the thief was looking for, though Jean-Luc felt sure his son didn't even know of this secondary mission.
"Remy, stop staring at les filles," he vituperated.
The boy looked up at Jean-Luc, although his sunglasses denied his face true expression. «Mais papa, elle est si tres belle….»
The master thief glared at his son. "Dis is your last test, mon fils. Don't fail us." Then he looked up to see where the target he'd found was. Seeing the man standing at a shop window, he didn't point, but just asked Remy, «Tu le vois?»
Remy nodded, and didn't wait for instruction before he was off. He'd blended into the crowd within seconds.
Jean-Luc looked back towards the woman and child. "Henri?" he suggested.
Another boy, a little older than Remy, appeared from out of the darkness «Oui, papa?»
"De Lady Mystique, Henri. Elle est ici."
"You found her already?"
"Thank ton frère's wanderin' eyes."
Henri shook his head. "Remy, Remy, Remy. 'E is one pour les filles, isn't he?"
"Not that Ah'm complainin', by why are we in New Orleans, mom?" A teenaged girl with pied hair, dressed in black leather leggings, a navy blue sleeveless button top, and combat boots was walking with another woman, her mother, who had long black hair and wore a very specifically casual blouse with jeans and walking boots. "You said you'd tell me when we got here."
Raven smiled. "Of course, dear. The time has come for me to go up north, as you know, and there is someone I'd like you to meet before we part. His profession encourages skills that will be of great use to you, and he has need to leave home for a while before he marries. As such, I have arranged for a mutual–"
"You're not expecting me to, you know, … with him?" Rogue asked, shocked.
Her mother smirked. "No, nothing like that. He is already betrothed. Besides, I gather from your colleagues at school that you get around to quite bit of 'you know, …' yourself."
The girl looked away and at the ground. "I don't know what you're talking about," she started to explain.
Raver laughed. "Now I know that you don't care that I know about your exploits; I taught you to lie better than that."
Rogue looked up, smiling. "I figure you have to get what you can, when you can," she said. There wasn't so much as a trace of red on her cheeks.
"You'll still get yours after you've begun to be, dear. Just there won't be too many people who'll be able to get any from you."
Rogue suddenly pulled Raven to the ground, just before an arrow bounced off the pavement near them. While the arrow was not expected, the premature reaction was. Just from the amount of control that Mystique had already taught her adopted daughter, even the part of her power that was present even when non-manifest had become usable. It was probably the very same thing that meant she didn't have a blood mother. The amount of time that Rogue spend with Irene and herself, with frequent physical contact, had meant that Rogue had started to absorb if not their memories, then a little of their power. Even without concentrating, the girl already had the kind of psychic awareness that only second sight could bring, and her appearance, whilst not as flexible as that of a true shapeshifter, was malleable to the subtle hints of difference that meant, among other things, that she could change herself to appear more attractive to any male target.
Now was not the time for that, however. "Th' Assassins are already after y'?!" A Cajun man asked, pulling Raven to her feet, and a boy offered his hand to Rogue. She blinked and took it, sensing that her mother was relaxed, and the two were whisked into a dark alley and from there another, and then down a manhole into a tunnel. They then were led through a few more, before finally coming to a well lit tunnel-alley, that was for some reason or other furnished with tables, lounges, desks, and a pool table. There was a bar on one wall, and there was another boy there, somewhere between the age of the first and Rogue herself, leaning against the bar, sorting some monetary notes with his gloved hands.
Without looking up, he said «Deux mille, trois cent et quarante-sept, Jean-Luc»
"Dat all?" asked the man.
The boy started rubbing his thumb against his fingers on his free hand. It was clearly a nervous reaction, as his breathing started to become erratic, and as though it were somehow possible, his head sunk lower than it already was. "I c'n go back out dere, get mo'" he started.
"Merde, Remy, when I did m' solo finale, I managed a total of eighty five dollars," said the boy who had helped Rogue. "Admit'dly, it were wor't more."
Remy straightened up and grinned, his chest proudly inflated. "Yeah, Henri, a whole ten cents mo'." Then he noticed the two women for the first time. He quickly hid his eyes and grabbed at a pair of sunglasses nearby on the bar. Fumbling with them, he cried out before tossing them away with a flick of his wrist. Just as they bounced off the floor, they exploded violently. "Aw, crap," he muttered under his breath.
"It's okay," said Mystique, "You can let us see them."
Remy lowered his hand (that was still holding the money), to see that the dark-haired lady was now red haired, and had blue skin. His strange burning red eyes seemed to pale in comparison. He also noted that the girl was the same one he'd been watching in the arcade earlier.
"Is that the guy?" Rogue asked.
Jean-Luc smirked at this. "Non, petite, not Remy." He walked over to the boy and embraced him in one arm, patting him on the back. "Well done Remy. Now don' spend it all at once."
«Que?» As far as the young thief was aware, that money was now the property of the Guild, and spending it would be stealing from them. Sure, he'd stolen from them before, but he hadn't even heard of them then, and now he was a member. As of just now, a full member.
Henri laughed. "On y' final test, you get to keep your winnings. Et toi, mon frère, you hit de jackpot, y' lucky rat."
"Even if it's wort' mo' than de Masters norm'ly get each in a single run, it's tr'dition," continued Jean-Luc. "Can't fight tradition."
"Now go buy y'self a belle femme for de night or sum'tin," Henri finished.
Rogue watched the boy leave. "Well, dayamn," she said. "If only."
Henri laughed. "All de filles say dat at first. But Remy, he's just a charmer. He's even got dat nightshade belle hankerin' after 'im." He shuddered. "Poor guy."
"Is she ugaly or something?" asked Rogue
"Far from't. But she's an evil wench if e'er there were one." Henri then picked up on the gratuitous syllable. "Y' want me t' teach a river rat?" he asked his father.
"You always said y' fav'rd a challenge," Jean-Luc stated simply, folding his arms.
"But a river rat? Dey're so slow…."
"Ah'll make ya eat those words," Rogue retorted.
"Oh? So lessee what y' got…." Henri pulled a metal rod from his boot, and then twisted on it a little. It extended to the full six foot quarter-staff, and he grinned.
His smirk was short lived however, as Rogue was already airborne. Henri hardly had time to deflect her right foot before she already hit him with her left, and soon the girl was standing behind him, restraining his arms with his own staff. Trying to use this to his advantage, he started to flip her over his back, but just after he'd commit to the move, she let go of his arms so that instead he lost his balance and fell over forwards. He rolled up quickly enough, but the fight continued much the same, every time he attacked her she'd somehow end up restraining him with the staff, and he was unable to properly counter her attacks. Finally she ducked under a swing and somehow came up between him and his staff, twisted it out of his grip and then wrapped around him so that now she was behind him again, and was holding the staff close up against his neck.
"Y're as bad as Remy," Henri gasped. "Y'lways seem to know wha'm gunna do!"
"Nah, y'all are just slow," Rogue teased before twisting around Henri again and tripping him to the floor, flinging herself down so that they were in a very compromising position, but Henri more so as the staff was now crushing his neck against the floor. Releasing the pressure on it, Rogue leaned in and kissed him, forcing her tongue into his mouth.
When she finally let up, Henri said, "I take dat back. Y' worse than Remy."
Rogue smiled. "So, that's what someone eatin' their words sounds lahke." Her thigh was pressed into his groin, and she could most definitely feel it made him uncomfortable. She pushed down harder, lowering herself so that they were closer together in that region. Henri became exponentially more uncomfortable.
"'d say so," interjected Jean-Luc. "Ain't it lucky that ain't what he's s'posed t' be teachin' you 'bout?"
"Quite," said Mystique. "Now stop molesting the lad before he explodes, Anna. Unlike the boys you spend your time with back home, he's probably actually old enough to do so."
Ignoring the use of her 'real' name, Rogue grinned and opted to slide her hand up Henri's leg towards the fly of his trousers instead. Henri's eyes grew wide as she did this, and he managed to pull enough self control together to flip Rogue off of him, get up, and run away at high speed. The Mississippi gal waited until her own laughing had subsided before pushing herself up off the floor.
"Rogue," Mystique chided, barely holding in a grin of her own, "that wasn't nice."
Jean-Luc was much less reserved with his smirk. "So, th' boy has t' go an' change 'is pants." He shrugged.
Rogue, still smiling, shook her head. "So what is he supposed to be teachin' me?"
Mystique inhaled deeply and sighed. "In a nutshell," she said, "subtlety."
To be continued….
So, there you are. First chapter of my procastrinatory diversion from writers' tectonic chasm (I missed swapping plates before the earthquake happened). You may find that I will be intertwining writing this and Mystical Children, even when I'm not suffering from review-induced derailment as I am now. There are reasons for this, a primary one being that my imagination is, essentially, sick, and I need to syphon off the sickness so that it doesn't invade my other writing so much.
You read right, It's not Remy teaching her about the Way of the Thief, it's his foster brother. I have deliberately made him much younger than he actually is. Don't worry, they're not being paired. I don't really write like that anyway, and it's not in the nature of this fic.
If you're good and review quick, you get to help decide on the contents of chapter two. Shall it be a montage of Henri teaching Rogue how to be silent and deadly (with the occasional insertion of Remy for the sake of posterity and the god of Setup), or do I dive straight in to retelling 'Rogue Recruit'? Note that the former option will force me to ramp the rating of the fic prematurely for reasons that should be fairly obvious (you've probably noticed by now Rogue's modified personality), which I'd rather not do because I get the distinct impression that people don't check the R fics much unless they're tracking them, and I want to attract an actual readership before I do that. That said, I'll do it if more than half of the potential people who might give a damn ask for it.
That said, please tell me if you've already done something along these lines so I can take preventative measures against repetition and apparent plagiarism.
Again, please now set your revumeter to maximum :·D
Before you ask, yes, I've been in the thesaurus. 'Vituperate' is a real verb (so is 'defenestrate,' but I ain't thrown anyt'in out any windows).
If you want to know why Ruis is both fitting and ironic for Rogue, it is because the Elder tree is traditionally a dream-stealer and employed as a medicinal herb.
Long phrases of French you may not understand: (I feel most
should be obvious, but hey. I don't normally do this anyway).
«Deux mille, trois cent et quarante-sept» – 2 347
«Mais papa, elle est si tres belle.» – "But papa, she is so very beautiful."
«Tu le vois?» – "You see him?"
«Elle est ici.» – "She is here."