Title: Shades of
Author: Gaeriel Mallory
Fandoms: Angel the Series and X-men (movieverse)
Disclaimer: Lorne and all Angel the Series is property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy, Inc. X-men is property of Marvel Comics, Bryon Singer, and FOX. I do not own any of the characters portrayed in this piece of fiction. No money is being made off of this story.
Ever since meeting Bobby's family, I had been thinking a lot about my own. If I had been more reckless, or braver, I might have even contacted them. I never knew if the Professor ever had, though I suspect he must have if he allowed me to stay at the school. He couldn't risk being found harboring a runaway from Mississippi, and a teenage girl at that. I'm not that naïve about the world. People would assume the worst about the rich old man who was still unmarried after all these years.
Still, I was glad for his charity – I had no illusions about that; I paid no tuition and he even supplied the money for my clothes and school supplies – because where else in the world could I have found a place that suited me as well as Xavier's? Don't get me wrong; my parents aren't horrible. They were typical middle-class Americans, though a bit more WASPy (that's White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, not the Women Airforce Service Pilots who I learned about in history class) than most. I probably could have stayed at home after I manifested but I freaked out when I saw Cody lying there on my bed unconscious but screaming in my head. My first instinct was to run and I didn't have time to look back until after I woke up in the medical lab in the basement.
And everything did work out all right in the end. I even had a semi-normal teenage life with a boyfriend and best friends, if you ignore the fact that we are all a bit less normal than average. And most days, I don't even hear Magneto's voice in my head, though Logan's a bit more prevalent. John, too, but I don't like to think about him. Cody's gone now so I figured they will all fade away with time. I hope. It's getting awfully crowded inside my head.
I left history class with Miss Munroe and almost ran into Bobby. "Hi!" I said, grinning. "What's up?"
He smiled at me and took my books from me. That was sweet of him. "Nothing. I just thought I'd meet my girlfriend after her last class." He put his arm around my waist and steered me down the hall. "I had a pretty interesting conversation today with Lorne."
I looked at him in puzzlement, trying to place the name. "Lorne?"
"He's the new guy, the one with the green skin. I ran into him earlier in the gardens and we got to talking." Bobby frowned. "Man, I thought we had it bad. What we faced is barely a blip on the radar compared to him."
I stopped walking and had to force myself to not hyperventilate. "How can you say that?" I asked. "The school was invaded by men with guns. We had to run or be kidnapped. Dr. Grey, she—" I stopped, unable to say the words. Around us, other kids had stopped and stared, mouths open in shock and I realized that I had started shouting. I glared at them and grabbed Bobby's arm, dragging him down the hall and into an empty room. The terror of that horrible night crept back on me, and the feeling of being chased, the knowledge that Xavier's—home—was no longer safe.
He sat down at one of the desks and placed my books down in front of him. "I didn't mean that, Rogue," he said softly. "I wasn't trying to make what we had gone through less important." He looked at me. "We don't know what life is really like," he said softly. "Lorne, he and his people saved the world and they paid the price, just like we did. And it was a much more than just one person dying, Rogue." Bobby shook his head and I watched him try and gather his thoughts into words. "What we do, what the X-men do, it's kiddie stuff. We couldn't even begin to handle what he had."
I gripped the wood of the teacher's desk at the front of the room, trying to think of what could possibly be bigger than Magneto, than Stryker. "The X-men save lives out there, mutant and non-mutant. You're saying that that's kiddie stuff? What could be more important than making sure that the world is safe for mutants to walk down the street?"
"Making sure that there will be a world tomorrow," was his quiet response. He got up and looked at me. "Look, Rogue, I don't think this is anything I can make you see. If you had heard what Lorne had told me, you wouldn't even be arguing with me right now."
I stared speechlessly as my boyfriend walked out of the room. I grabbed my books and headed for the garage. I couldn't talk to Bobby, which left one other person in the school who might help me make sense of my confusion. Logan looked up at me as I stumbled through the door. He slowly straightened, wiping his hands on a grease-covered rag. I absently noted that he was fiddling with the engine of one of the cars.
"What's the matter, Marie?" he asked me. He tossed the rag aside and leaned against the car, crossing his arms across his chest.
"Bobby…" I trailed off, not sure how to continue. "Do you think that what the X-men do is worthwhile?" I blurted out, seeing him start to frown at my mention of Bobby's name.
His frown deepened. "Why in the world would you ask something like that?" he asked.
"Bobby was talking to that new guy, Lorne, I think, and he told me that the X-men deal with 'kiddie stuff' compared to whatever it is that Lorne did."
"And just what did the Jolly Green Giant do?"
"Bobby – I think they saved the world, or at least, they thought they were saving the world." I shook my head. "But, that's crazy. How can just one group do something that can affect the entire earth? The X-men, they…" I trailed off, unsure of where my thoughts were going.
Logan sighed and uncrossed his arms. "Marie," he said softly, "what we do is important. It's very important, in fact, but that doesn't make it the most important thing."
"But—" I started but he cut me off with a shake of his head.
"Listen, I know what you're feeling. You're young and you just lost someone in the fight." I bit my lip when I noticed how his jaw clenched at that. "Jean knew what she was doing. She made her choice over what fight she would take part in. I'm not going to say to you that making sure that mutants and humans can live together in peace ain't a good cause, because I'd be lying. But I think that if you had asked her to choose between giving mutants a good life and giving all humanity a good life, she wouldn't even hesitate before picking the last one. You and everyone else in this damn school identify yourselves as a mutant first. You sometimes forget that you're also human."
I hesitated, unsure if Logan would even know the answer. "Is it true that Lorne's group saved the world?" And what could they possibly save the world from? Where they a group that went after terrorists with nuclear bombs? Because that was the only thing I could think of that could kill everyone on earth, yet I somehow didn't think that was what Bobby had meant.
Logan shook his head. "Look kid, this isn't a conversation you need to have with me. If you want answers, you go talk to Lorne yourself."
Libraries are great places. They're quiet, allowing one to get quality thinking time in, and at the same time full of books to distract one from the worst of the bad thoughts. I was sitting in an entirely too-comfortable chair flipping through a vintage copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland when Logan found me. I had first read the book when I had arrived in this world, but had never picked it up since. I suppose it reminded me a little of my own plight, only instead of falling through the rabbit hole and wanting to get home like Alice, I fell out of the rabbit hole and never looked back.
He dropped down into the chair next to mine with a heavy thump. I winced as I heard the chair creak in protest of his heavy frame. He didn't say anything for a while, just staring off into space, his arms folded loosely over his chest. "So, you saved the world, huh?" he finally remarked nonchalantly.
I dropped the book in surprise. I cringed when it hit the floor and bent down to pick it up, carefully inspecting it for damage while I put my thoughts in order. "I suppose you could say that," I said softly. "Though sometimes, you have to ask yourself if it's a world worth saving." I looked him square in the eye. "I've seen some of the very worst that humanity has had to offer. I've also known some damn good individuals who I thought made up for all the bads. It's a shame when you learn differently." Standing up, I clutched the book in my hands. "If you'll excuse me, I really don't feel like having yet another heart-to-heart today."
Before I reached the door, however, Logan's voice stopped me. "Fine by me. I don't do touchy-feely anyway."
My lips twitched at that. "Yeah. I pictured you more as the 'hit first' type."
He actually grunted, which made me snort in amusement. "I heard that you had a talk with Drake," he said, leaning forward in his seat. "Seems that he in turn talked to Marie who is rather upset now. Don't suppose you'll let me in on whatever it was that you and he talked about?"
"Marie – she one of the students?" I asked, curious.
"What is she to you, exactly? I mean, you seem awfully concerned about a girl who has got to be half your age, and I assume unrelated to you."
I barely saw him move. The next thing I knew, I was pinned against a table with three very sharp blades pressing into my cheek. "You watch what you're implying there, Greenie," he snarled at me.
I held up my hands in surrender. "No implications at all, there, cupcake. Just an observation."
He released me with a little snarl, and I straightened my clothing. "Marie's a friend. We saved each other's hides back in the day." The blades retreated back into the back of his hand with a snickt.
I gulped. I picked up the book again – poor Alice, so mistreated – which I had dropped when Logan had attacked me. "I'm sorry," I told him. "I do understand loyalty to friends."
He eyed me skeptically. "Just what did happen, anyway?" He crossed his arms over his chest. "I noticed that none of your friends are here right now."
I dropped my eyes. "I parted company with them. We had some different ideas of what actions justified the ends, is all." I looked at him and steeled myself. "In the end, I was asked to do something I didn't want to do. I did it, like a good little soldier, but I couldn't stay to see how everything turned out." I set Alice down on the table and sighed. I turned my back to Logan and rested my palms against the wood grain.
His hand on my shoulder surprised me and I tensed up. "What did you do?" he asked, more softly and gently than I could have thought possible of him.
I was silent for a long moment. I closed my eyes and remembered the weight of the gun in my hand, the sound of the shot, the recoil. "I killed a man." Lindsay's look of utter disbelief as he fell to the ground. "He was helping us, but he had betrayed us badly before and we couldn't take the chance that he would again." The smell of blood.
Angel had asked so much of us all in the end. It had been too much.
"We had to save the world, after all, right?" I laughed, but there was no humor in it at all. It was either laugh or cry and I've already reached my breakdown quota for the day. "I never even met up afterwards, to see if they had finished their own tasks. I just left." Lindsay's dead eyes staring blankly up at me. "I watched the news reports later. LA went crazy that night. I never did find out what went down in the end, who lived – if any of them even made it out." I shook my head. "I'm afraid to find out."
Logan squeezed my shoulder lightly and his hand dropped away. He stayed silent though, which was in many ways worse than anything he could have said. It left me with nothing to distract me from my memories.
--End Part 6--