A/N: This is a new story I've started, a work in progress. Unfortunately, I've abandoned my other story (an Ender's Game/Harry Potter crossover) out of respect for the wishes of Orson Scott Card, who has explicitly stated that he doesn't want his work being used for fanfic. Alas. Sorry to those of you who were reading it.
This will be a Magneto/Rogue pairing, but it'll take a long while to get there. Please review!
Disclaimer: I own nothing to do with the X-Men franchise.
She woke shivering in the cold, her gloved arms wrapped around herself and her head aching terribly. It felt like she had been pistol whipped, she thought; and then she wondered how she knew what that felt like. The was cold, damp stone beneath her cheek, and it felt as if the chill it radiated had spread throughout her bones in the time she had been lying there.
Wherever "there" was.
She rolled onto her back in an attempt to move the painful cold to a less sensitive part of her body, then winced at both the nauseating pain in her head and the warning tug in her side where the mostly-healed wound protested drastic movement. She opened her eyes and was surprised to find that she wasn't staring at the starry sky somewhere near Laughlin City after having been mugged, but at a dark stone ceiling that pressed ominously down on her. Further examination of her location revealed to her dismay that she was in a cell of some kind, complete with uncomfortable-looking cot and metal bars on the windows. There was something strange about it, though, and it took her a moment to realize what it was -- there was no door, only a man-sized hole in the wall covered by several more thick metal bars. Still, a cell is a cell is a cell, as her father would have said.
She had been kidnapped, then. It wasn't such an uncommon event for young women foolish enough to go hitchhiking, she knew, but what her captor undoubtedly didn't know was that she was not a common young woman. She didn't like touching people, didn't like the feeling of their voices inside her head, didn't like knowing that she could kill just by holding on too long to someone's arm, but her mama hadn't raised no coward, and if it came down to letting some sicko hurt her or using the mutation she was cursed with, well, she wouldn't hesitate.
Of course, thinking about her mutation only reminded her of how embarrassed she was to have been taken down so easily. It's all well and good to talk about being self-sufficient until someone comes along and bashes you on the head and drags you to some prison cell probably hoping to do something perverted to you.
Carefully, mindful of her wound, she drew herself into a sitting position, leaning against the wall and pulling her legs to her chest, wrapping her arms around them and dropping her head down to rest on her knees. She closed her eyes and found herself drifting into sleep.
She was looking at herself. She wasn't sure just who she was exactly, though. She knew that usually she wasn't this tall, and she didn't smell this bad, and she never, ever, walked around half-naked, especially not in some dive like this one. She didn't usually have this feeling of power, of rippling sinew, and for some reason she kept getting the urge to clench her hands, thinking that something would come shooting from her knuckles if she did so. She pulled her eyes away from herself -- and, gawd, did she really look that pathetic sitting at the counter with her hood and gloves? -- and turned back to the huge man who had just entered the ring. She mentally winced, but kept her face implacable. If he hit her, it would hurt, but she had to let it happen. Take him down too quickly and they'd figure out something was up; some of them were already looking at her suspiciously.
She let the man knock her down a couple of times, shaking off the blows with an ease borne of long experience, and then her patience snapped. With a growl, she pushed herself up from the floor, letting some of her savage nature loose as she unleashed a mighty punch at the other man's chin, bringing him down hard, and then kicked him in the stomach just because she could. God, sometimes it felt good to be alive.
Minutes, or was it hours, later, she sat down at the counter next to the girl -- or was it her? Who was she, anyways? -- and nursed a beer. There was something about the girl that pulled at him, something about her face or eyes that stuck a cord deep inside her and raised certain emotions she wasn't used to feeling. It wasn't lust -- for one thing, that was a feeling she could recognize right off, having experienced it enough, and for another, she was too young for her. It was almost a protective instinct. Luckily, she was able to shrug the feeling away. So what if she was an unfeeling bastard? She'd always known she was, and it had never bothered her before.
As expected, one of the men from the ring decided to get tough, to steal back what she'd earned in the ring. She shrugged him off, turning back to her alcohol dismissively. The man couldn't hurt her if he tried, and he wasn't worth wasting her time on until he did something really threatening. The next thing she knew, though, she was being pushed off her chair by a slight weight being thrown with surprising force, and her drink was spilling all over her shirt, causing her to spit out some curses she was pretty sure she'd never heard before.
But then her keen sense of smell was caught by the distinctive odor of blood, and then she was looking into the oh-so-pale face of the young woman at the bar. Only now she wasn't sitting at the bar, but kind of crouched over her, and one of her gloved hands was pressed against her side, where a dark red stain was quickly spreading on her shirt where the punk's knife had slid through her young flesh like butter.
The girl gave a little choking noise, and she found herself changing positions so that the girl's head was in her lap, and she was frantically placing pressure on the wound, but the blood wasn't stopping, and there must have been something inside that was damaged because she was fading so quickly, and she slapped her face to keep her conscious and when that didn't seem to work she grabbed her head in her hands, shouting "look at me, just keep looking at me!" And then something strange happened, and she felt something begin to pull at the skin of her palms, and then she was trying to pull her hands away and found that she couldn't, and then there was only darkness.
The second time she woke, she knew she was not alone. She thought it might have been some sixth sense she had gained from Logan -- that was his name, the man in the ring, the man who'd touched her, who'd healed her somehow, Logan -- this ability to tell when someone was watching her. She didn't react for the moment, thoughts racing as she contemplated her dream and exactly what it meant. It hadn't been a dream, exactly, she knew, having experienced the events she remembered from the other perspective, it had actually been what had happened from Logan's point of view. She had absorbed those memories through his touch, and she felt that if she concentrated she could remember other things as well, things she shouldn't know about the man she'd never even been introduced to.
Again, she found the strange urge to clench her fists and to pounce at whoever was watching her, maiming him for daring to kidnap her. She figured that was the Logan in her speaking. The other part of her, though, the part of her that was Rogue, the part that was Marie, protested that that was probably not the wisest thing to do. Logan was strong, but physical strength was not her asset. If she wanted to get out of this alive, she had to play things a bit smarter.
So she gave a little stretch, as if she was just waking up, and she allowed herself a couple of the sobs that she had bottled up, and then she raised her head from her knees, tears staining her face, and looked into the face of her kidnapper, letting her fear and anguish show in her eyes.
The sight that greeted her was a surprise. From her encounters with some truly frightening personalities on the highway, she had thought she would have been kidnapped by a creepy middle-aged man with a leer and beer belly. This cell didn't exactly fit in with that image, but she couldn't think who else would want to kidnap a person like her, anyways; it wasn't like she'd be worth a ransom or something, and she'd always felt secure knowing that if it did nothing else for her her mutation protected her from rape.
Nowhere in her imaginings had she thought that she'd be kidnapped by a handsome older man wearing a nice grey sweater and black slacks. He was standing inside her cell, somehow -- she still didn't get how one got in and out of the cell since it conspicuously lacked a door -- watching her intently with piercing blue eyes. It really was a nice looking face, she thought, the kind that would have been devastatingly attractive when he was younger and that probably still turned more than a few heads even among the younger ladies. He was pretty creepy, though; she'd gotten that part right.
When she first glanced at him, his face had seemed almost soft, as if he pitied her for the situation he had placed her in; but when she sniveled, "What's going on? I don't want to be here! Let me go!" and squeezed out a few more tears, his face hardened, and a sneer formed around his mouth.
She could read what he thought of her in his eyes. Pathetic. Just what she'd wanted.
"I apologize for the accommodations," he said regally, his accent more British than American but she suspected English wasn't his first language. "Never fear, however; your stay here will not be a distressingly long one." She didn't think that sounded like a good thing.
"Listen, if it's money you want -- " she began, but he cut her off with a harsh laugh.
"Money? My dear girl, my 'want,' as you call it, is nothing so petty. What I want is nothing less than the freedom of our people from tyranny, the acknowledgement of our supremacy over mere humans." His eyes burned with a passion when he spoke, and she silently acknowledged to herself that this was a zealot, a man who wouldn't listen to reason. Her mother had gotten that look in her eyes when she read the Bible sometimes; it was the look she'd worn when she'd thrown her abomination of a daughter out of the house for being a child of the Devil.
She'd burned with a passion of her own then, too. "Our people?" she asked in a quavering voice, restraining the desire to shout at him.
He looked at her as if she were stupid. "Our people," he repeated. "Mutants. Homo Superior."
She blinked at that in honest confusion. She knew she was a mutant, of course, and that Logan must have been a mutant as well, since he had done something to heal her, but she didn't think of herself as being part of some cult or something. Mutancy was a disease, a curse she had been damned by, not something to boast about.
"Listen," she said slowly, and she had to force herself not to start screaming at him. Instead, she heightened her natural accent, silently urging him to accept the Southern belle image that people were often fooled by. "Ah don't know what you're talking about. Ah'm just a girl."
He smiled coldly, and she wished that he were still glaring. This was more frightening, this strange mixture of cold amusement and undisguised disgust for her weakness in his eyes. "You are not just a girl, you are a mutant. And soon you won't be just a normal mutant, either, but a martyr. A sacrifice for a glorious cause."
"Why?" she asked, not having to fake terror as she listened to his words with utter horror. "Why are you going to -- to sacrifice me?" She pulled in on herself, pressing herself as close to the wall as possible, trying to climb inside it, as he took several steps toward her, a looming monster driven by frenzied passion and cold, deadly reason. She noticed that he wore gloves, that in fact most of his body was covered. Only his face and neck were bare.
"Because America was supposed to be the land of peace. Of tolerance," he said, and she thought that it was a travesty for the bad guy to have such a nice voice -- because he was obviously the bad guy, and if this was a comic book or TV show she thought she'd be able to expect some superhero to come save her, but this wasn't a comic book or TV show and all she had was herself to rely on. Her. Marie. Rogue. "But there is no land of peace and tolerance, and there never shall be while mutants everywhere are being suppressed and oppressed. You, my dear, will be the end to that oppression. You will be the key to our survival." His eyes raked over her trembling form, and she could practically read his thoughts as he dismissed her from concern. "I'll understand if that comes as small consolation."
It seemed that he had said all that he came to say, and she wondered whether he had come to convince her, or himself. She still didn't know his name, and she doubted he knew hers. He didn't seem interested in remedying the situation. This was like some bad nightmare, and he was like the bogeyman, this strange specter of menace who came to torment her in her cell, who planned to keep her locked up until he could sacrifice her, probably in some horribly painful, arcane ritual, supposedly with the belief that doing so would bring a better world.
Not if she could help it.
She waited until he was almost to the door/bars in the wall -- it was a small cell, so the journey only took a couple of steps -- before she made her move. She slipped off her elbow-length gloves and dropped them on the ground beside her. She braced herself for the pain in her side, then with a sudden burst of adrenaline giving her the energy she needed, and perhaps with some help from the Logan part of her brain, she sprung from her position against the wall and wrapped her fingers around his neck, feeling the pull begin immediately.
With it of course came the man's thoughts and feelings. His name was Erik Lensherr, but he called himself Magneto. He really did believe the crap he'd been spouting. He couldn't believe he'd been so foolish as to let his guard down around the pretty young woman with dangerous skin, and he really thought this would be an ignominious way for him to die.
She held on until she was sure that he was unconscious, and then she let go. She wasn't a killer, after all, and looking at him right now she thought he looked like nothing more than a powerless old man. Not so powerless or old, Erik's voice whispered in her brain, but she shrugged it off. It was time to get out of here. She knew how to open the door. She could feel the metal throughout the fortress calling to her, humming a note that resonated with her entire being.
It took barely a thought to bend the bars to allow her through, and no thought at all to straighten them again, although she knew they wouldn't hold Magneto once he woke up. She had to get out of here before then. There's no way you can get off this fortress, Erik said again, but she ignored him. He'd just entered her head, after all, and he didn't know her very well yet. She knew that there was a helipad on the roof, and she thought she could fly the helicopter if necessary, but she'd rather take the boat on the ground floor.
She hurried down a corridor, letting her feet rather than her conscious mind direct her, and practically stumbled upon an enormous man with menacing claws and rather a lot of hair. Sabretooth, Erik supplied. He had been the one who kidnapped her. Fortunately, he wasn't the most intelligent of mutants, and stood there blinking stupidly at her long enough for Rogue to knock him over the head with a convenient hunk of metal, delighting in the use of Erik's power.
She navigated the maze of corridors, sneaking when she could and running when she couldn't, and was nearly to the boat dock when she heard an alarm go off. Uh-oh. Magneto was awake, and probably not happy. Forgetting stealth, she broke into an all-out sprint down the final hall to the boat dock, jerked the door open violently -- and almost sobbed in despair when she saw that the boat was gone. Someone in the fortress must have taken it to go to town.
She forced herself to breathe, to get control of herself, and almost managed to convince herself that she could make it to the helipad and escape without being caught. She turned back the way she'd come, ready to run again, only to come face-to-chest with Sabretooth. He looked big up close. And scary. And angry. She only had time to frantically stretch out her senses, to feel Erik's gift give way, leaving her with only her natural power to defend herself, before the man's fist made contact with her chin, sending her flying back, stunned, and slamming her painfully into the wall.
The brief moment of pause she had laying there, staring at her attacker, was enough for her to feel the ache in her back from where she had made contact with the wall, the fierce pain in her head, and the warm trickle of blood down her side where her healing knife wound had torn open sometime during her attempted escape. All three pains reminded her that she was a fighter, a survivor, and that she wouldn't just lie here and let some Neanderthal beat her to death. She pulled on the very last of her reserves, feeling her adrenaline begin to give out, and pushed herself back to her feet, swaying, nauseous.
She let Logan direct her into a fighting stance, and tiredly watched her opponent, who looked rather surprised that she had gotten up at all. Unfortunately, that surprise quickly faded, and he snarled in savage pleasure as he swung at her again, this time catching her in the ribs, and she couldn't help the gasp of pain at the painful pressure around her injury, and she stumbled against the wall. She stared at him with eyes that strangely held no fear, and watched him come at her with the third strike that would most certainly knock her out when it landed.
The strike landed not on her chin, however, as it had been intended to, but on a thick sheet of metal that suddenly was levitating between her face and the monster's fist. Sabretooth let out a howl of pain, gripping his knuckles and staring at his swelling hand in dismay. Rogue allowed herself to hope for a moment that Erik's power had somehow manifested itself again, but then she looked up past the floating sheet of metal, past Sabretooth, into the face of Magneto.
Her last thought was that this whole adventure had obviously changed his opinion of her, since he was now looking at her with an expression that appeared to combine respect, admiration even, and regret. No anger. She wouldn't have been able to decipher his expression before, of course, but now...she knew him. He was in her head. And then her battered body refused to take any more, her eyes rolled back into her head, and she collapsed into an undignified heap on the floor.