Well, I teased about this in
"Xanadu," and actually this is only one of possible two or three
ballad/poem-based ROMYs I have in mind. I think I referred to this as
a "short story;" however, looking at my plot layout, I don't
know really how "short" a story it will be. Ah, well, I suppose
we'll all find out together!
And no worries-I am still writing Xanadu, but getting this on paper (or computer) is driving me nuts! Once I get at least some of this out of my system, I'm sure Xanadu will come along easier. Rather a mental block just now, however, as far as the actual words go. I know where the plot is going, it's just getting the words to explain it…without the words getting in the way!
Anyway, points for people who can tell what ballad/poem this is based on, though this one is fairly well known to English-reading romantics. (Not romance readers, romantics.)
Black is the Color (working title)
Chapter 1. Post-Apocalypse Life
Following the narrow defeat of Apocalypse, mutant leaders Charles Xavier and Eric Lenscherr had finally managed to put their differences aside and work together, as their vision years before had dictated. Obviosuly, the near-annihilation of the Earth had an effect on their former enemy.
Lenscherr, better known to the X-Men as Magneto, was actually managing to patch things up with his daughter and son Wanda and Pietro, much to everyone's surprise. The Waltons their little family unit wasn't, but all three were willing to try their best to make it work after nearly having the world destroyed. Apparently, his children's obvious concern for him during the battle, even after all he'd done to them in their lives, had made a profound impact on him and resulted in a fundamental change in Magneto's mental makeup. He no longer wanted to destroy all 'normal' humans (well, not really. He still wanted them to admit they were inferior to homo sapiens mutens, but he didn't particularly want to kill them indiscriminately anymore). Instead, he was focusing his energies on helping to forge Xavier's X-men into better, more controlled examples of mutantkind, and focusing on cautiously becoming a father to his children, abandoned so long ago.
Professor Charles Xavier, for his part, was still sorting through the myriad of possible futures he'd gleaned from Apocalypse's mind, but now, nearly a year after the event in question, things were finally getting back to normal… or at least as normal as it ever got at the Xavier Institute.
The Institute's population had increased greatly with the influx of both Acolytes and Brotherhood to their ranks; that meant not only Magneto's children, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, but also Toad, Blob, Avalanche, Gambit, Colossus, and Pyro. They had even convinced the genius inventor Forge to officially join up, although the time-traveling inventor remained living separate from the rest.
Life was not golden for all of them, however. Raven Darkholme, aka Mystique, was persona non grata around the Institute. Following the Apocalypse fight, she had made a pathetic attempt to (insincerely) apologize to Kurt and Rogue for all she'd done to them—abandoning them both, using her daughter as a tool, spying on them as their principal…. They weren't talking to her, although every now and again she'd send a note or a letter to one or both of them. Mostly, they viewed these attempts at communication as merely another attempt to control them, and threw them away, unread; Mystique had made her adopted children paranoid of her but good.
There was much to distract Rogue and Kurt from their strange family situation, though. Since both the Brotherhood and the Acolytes had been absorbed into the X-Men, the Xavier Institute had become a little more crowded…and a lot more tense. There was a lot of difficulty getting the separate "teams" to integrate, but with a lot of patience on Storm, Xavier, and even Logan's parts, the young mutants were finally starting to come together as a bizarre sort of family.
Lance and Kitty had initially tried to pair up again, but both soon agreed that it just wasn't going to work. Kitty recovered quickly, though, and had been dating the gentle Russian, Colossus, for about eight months.
Kurt was still going out with his longtime girlfriend Amanda, who kept the Institute informed about what was being said in regard to mutantkind on the street. Since it became apparent that a handful of mostly-teen aged mutants had literally saved the Earth, it seemed that generally, people were pretty cool with the idea of mutants living among them.
Changing that idea into reality, however, was proving more difficult, and there were several human-supremacist groups (who had formerly been ethnic-supremacist groups) who were lobbying still for mutant internment camps. Fortunately, most public leaders couldn't afford to shrug off the X-men's saving of the world, so those supremacist groups could mostly be ignored.
Remy and Rogue, by far the most cynical and the least "team-minded" of the whole place (excepting, of course, Logan), had, to everyone's surprise, hit it off very well after the integration of the Acolytes into the X-men. They made an announcement at the breakfast table that they were 'officially seeing each other' to avoid annoying gossip. The attempt to curtail gossip didn't work: immediately, there was a flurry of speculation among the girls of the group as to what, exactly, had gone on between the two Southerners during Remy's kidnapping of Rogue nearly a year and a half ago, that she'd go out with him now. Rogue put a quick stop to the speculation with a few whispered comments, which produced either smirks or looks of sheerest terror. The Southerner didn't care what they really thought, only that they not annoy her with speculating out loud about her personal life.
Remy simply found the idea of carrying on a relationship (of any sort) 'in public' (eg, under the eyes of the whole Institute) to be a great novelty, and took a perverse joy in embarrassing other students by catching them trying to spy on himself and his paramour when they got a rare moment alone
Despite the whispered, giggled comments about her boyfriend, Rogue was still pretty happy with her life. As Xavier had foreseen, Rogue had finally achieved control over her absorption powers, about six months after the Apocalypse Incident. As fate would have it, though, like they hadn't given her enough trouble already, once she found that control, they mutated again, about four months after she'd achieved control. Remy kept her laughing, though, and she dealt with the new side-effects with a much better mood than she would have done before the Apocalypse Incident, or before Remy.
Now, she had control over most other powers she'd absorbed, and was no longer absorbing people's psyches from touching them—unless she did so intentionally. She had complete control over her original powers. No, now what she had to be careful of was others' personal objects. She could handle it, though, because this mutation was so much more benign than what she used to have to deal with.
Anything that had a great amount of personal energy invested in it—a child's favorite stuffed animal, for instance, or a particularly favored book—would give her "flashes" of memories associated with that item. For her to get anything concrete, however, the person had to have handled the item relatively recently, and to get anything other than a momentary flash, she had to purposely access this new facet of her absorption powers. Since she could now walk in a crowd with relative calm, Rogue figured getting just a glimpse of someone else's life—which did not stay with her forever, just a few moments—was a fair trade-off. Also, she'd managed to help a few anxious parents find wandering children at the local park; having a mundanely useful power was a nice change, too. The parents' profuse praise only helped to foster the image of mutant powers as simply very useful, rare skills, like being able to play the piano very well. Not everyone could do it, but it was nice to know a few people around could, should the need arise
So, yes, things were about as normal as they ever got around the Xavier Institute.
"Professor X has gone insane, you know," Rogue remarked conversationally to Remy, as they sat on the roof together in the mid-October night. She leaned one shoulder against him.
"Taking a bunch of just-graduated-from-high-school mutants and one human with him to Merrie Olde England while he's at a human-mutant relations conference, and expecting us to not only behave ourselves, but learn something about English history while we're there? He's insane."
"Ah, but he is only taking those eighteen and over. It's only…" he trailed off for a moment. "H'm. Remy, you, Kitty, Piotr, Lance, Amara, Kurt, Amanda, Bobby, Tabby, Pyro, Sam, Scott and Jeannie." He counted the names off on his long fingers. "Fourteen… and only Stormy and de Wolverine to supervise. Chere," he said, sounding mock-surprised, "I t'ink you may be right. De good professor has gone mad."
"Tell me about it," Rogue groaned. "At least Wanda and Pietro—trouble by themselves—are going to get to spend some quality time with Magneto, as strange as that sounds."
"Yes, and de Beast is remaining here to make sure the younger recruits do not destroy de mansion."
They both considered the situation for a moment. Remy sighed and said, "It's true den. He's insane."
"Ah said so, didn't I? Sad… such a waste of a brilliant mind."
They kept their calm for a moment, then laughed, Remy's velvet, Rogue's like bells chiming.
Suddenly, Kitty phased up through the roof. "Hey, could you two quit talking already? Some of us are trying to get some beauty rest for the transatlantic flight tomorrow morning."
"P'tite," Remy leaned toward her charmingly. "You don't need any beauty rest. Come join the conversation."
"What, that Xavier's insane for taking us all to England? Like, duh. Of course he is! Now come on, Rogue, you need sleep. You'll be mean tomorrow if you don't get sleep, you know it. So, like, kiss Remy goodnight and go to sleep. Besides," she added brightly, "Logan's coming upstairs." She vanished downward through the shingles.
"Merde," Remy muttered. "Guess dat's good night, then, chere. I'll see you in de morning."
"Night, Cajun." Rogue smiled, and kissed him briefly. "See ya in the morning." Following Kitty's example, she carefully phased them both through the roof; they landed in the hallway. Footsteps on the stairs warned them that Wolverine was, indeed, coming. They quickly departed for their own rooms.
Wolverine arrived in the hallway a moment later, and scented the two Southerners on the still air. "Teenagers," he muttered to himself, half-smiling. He had, of course, been totally against Rogue seeing Remy at first—after all, the thief had drugged and kidnapped her only about a year and a half ago. But seeing how Remy brought Rogue out of her shell—even before she'd gained control over her powers—had softened him toward the relationship somewhat.
There was also the fact that Rogue had bitched him out royally, as only Rogue could do, for interfering too much in her personal life. Following that, he backed off of Remy, but remained vigilant for any over-the-line behavior. Rogue couldn't complain about that, however, since Logan did the same to every other couple in the mansion. "Going to the same Institute and getting along with former enemies," he told her, "doesn't mean I'm gonna let anyone's hormones run amok, so you're getting the same treatment as Kurt and Amanda and Kitty and Piotr are getting. That's not negotiable, kid," he'd growled firmly, and Rogue could only go along with it.
So he policed the various relationships in the mansion, which was why he had been chosen as a chaperone for the England trip. Privately, he agreed with the kids: Xavier had gone plumb crazy, taking that many teens along, and his own imposing presence safely away at the conference, but most of the kids were fairly responsible, and at least there were pubs most everywhere in England. Sure, the beer in most of them wasn't that great, but that would only keep the kids from drinking too much—Logan personally didn't care overmuch about the taste of his beer, only that there was beer to be had. And who knew? Xavier might be right, and the exposure to another culture, however similar to their own, might be good for the kids in the long run. At least they'd all have an interesting vacation, and this was a good, relatively cheap graduation present for them.
Well, sleep isn't going to come standing out here in the hallway, he thought to himself. And the Blackbird II isn't going to fly itself in the morning. And… he paused, listened intently for a moment, letting his sensitive ears filter information to him. And the kids are all mostly asleep, or getting there. Close enough, anyway, he shrugged, and went to bed.
In another room of the mansion, Professor Xavier woke from a troubled dream. A new danger to mutantkind. Just a dream, or more of Apocalypse's visions? It has something to do with this conference trip, but what, I don't know. I can't cancel the trip on the students at this date, though… I suppose I'll have to warn the senior staff in the morning… and hope that this is just a normal dream.
He uneasily went back to sleep, conveniently ignoring the fact that he hadn't had a "normal" dream since the Apocalypse Incident.
Quiet—if not peace—fell over the Xavier mansion, then, and the hours sped by to the new day, the day they were flying to England.
Yeah, I know pretty much no hints as to which ballad/poem this is from in this chapter, but if you read my stuff, you know my first chapters are mostly exposition, anyway.
Comments? Questions? Clickety-click on that little box, you know, the one that says, "REVIEW"! Let me know what you think so far! --Alara