Chapter Title: Minds
Notes: It's hard to pit a mind against itself.
She bought a chess set, on one of her rare visits to the mall, and set it up on one of the tables in the garden. It was a beautiful set, wood inlaid with metal, and her bare fingers caressed each piece as she laid it out.
It was a sunny day, but she was in a secluded part of the garden, and she hadn't told anyone where she was. The sounds of the children playing filtered through the bushes and trees.
"And how," he drawled, "do you intend on playing chess?"
"You're going to play me," she said simply, not looking at him. "White or black?"
"You can only play with what you know of me," he pointed out. "Your moves are my moves."
"I can play as myself," she muttered. She reached out and moved a pawn two spaces forward. He sat opposite her and tapped his fingers on the table for a moment. "Please play," she said then, almost pleadingly. "I have these moves in my head…black and white, pawn, king, knight…please, I need to play."
He beat her in ten moves, and she frowned thoughtfully at the board.
"I don't understand," she said.
"You've said that before," he observed wryly. "What is it this time?"
"How can you beat me, if we've got the exact same knowledge in our head? We've read the same books, we've played the same games." She lifted her hand, and the white queen rose in response. "We're the same, how can you beat me?"
"We're not the same, Marie," he said firmly. "You have an imprint of me in your mind, but you are not me."
"I feel like I am, sometimes," she whispered. "I was bored, in English class earlier…" She lifted her sleeve to show him the numbers inked onto her arm with felt-tip. One, four, nine, eight, two. He inhaled sharply. "I didn't know I was doing it until it was there, on my arm," she told him.
"You've go to stop this, Marie," he told her. "You are not me."
"Hey, at least I'm not going around smoking and drinking," she pointed out. "I wanted to, for a while."
"Yes, but you didn't touch Wolverine for nearly as long as you were touching me," he reminded her. "Much as it pains me to say it, I think you should talk to Charles."
"And have him mess with my mind?" she retorted. "I don't think so." She waved her hand, and the pieces rearranged themselves on the board. "I've got enough voices in my head."
"Wolverine, and that boy. What was his name?"
"You know very well," she said tiredly. She rested her head on her hand and turned the board around. "You go first."
He made a swift motion with his fingers, and a pawn shuffled forwards. She bit her lip and made a move.
He beat her in fifteen moves this time, and in frustration she swept the board and chess pieces onto the floor.
She turned, startled, to see Professor Xavier wheeling towards her, a kind smile on his face.
"Charles," she said, then flushed. "Sorry. I mean, Professor."
Xavier took in the scattered chess pieces, and then looked at her thoughtfully.
"I take it Erik's personality has not gone completely?" he inquired gently. She shook her head. "And you were attempting to play chess?" She said nothing, but bent down to pick up the pieces. "I imagine that must be difficult."
"Why would you think that?" she challenged, her accent more pronounced than usual.
"You know all his moves, my dear," he said, and positioned himself opposite her. "I haven't had a good game of chess in quite some time. I don't suppose you'd oblige me?"
She bit her lip and her gaze drifted for a moment to Erik, who was standing behind Xavier with a frown on his face. Then she lifted her hands; the pieces rose, then dropped neatly into their places.
"White or black?" she asked, with the faint trace of an accent that wasn't her own.
"White, thank you. I learnt long ago to take the advantage wherever I can."
Rogue smiled faintly. "I know."