The wound that would not heal
Verse: House of M
Character/Pairing: Rogue, Red Guard
Summary: A look at House of M!Rogue and what made her happy and how quickly it all fell apart.
It's the bitter
taste of losing everything
I have held so dear
Anna breathed in deeply, continuing her steady pace through the garden. Pleased to be able to smell flowers--real ones--not the artificial creations that the helicarrier's gymnasium program was able to manipulate. This was much better. Earth--hard and unlevelled beneath her pounding feet. Animal noises in the background, the wind whipping her hair about her face. This was heaven.
Mortimer and Kurt could grumble all they wanted about pollen and allergies, she didn't care. Their brief forays in Genosha were wonderful respites from the cold sleekness of their home. Not that she didn't enjoy the helicarrier and her family, her team. She loved them more than anything in the world. But there was definitely something special about being able to dock here from time to time. If nothing else than for the beautiful gardens.
She slowed her pace, allowing herself to look at the variety of flowers. To take in the entire atmosphere. There was so much beauty mixed in with the world of steel. A delicate balance so artfully crafted. A testimony to the brilliance that was Genosha. She stopped, taking another deep breath and braced her hands on her knees. Pushing hair from her face.
Looking up, she admired the intricate architecture on the side of the palace. Tiny ornaments etched into the metal. Her gaze drifted to the balcony and she took a step back, watching as someone slipped out of sight. A red cloak flapping once in the wind before disappearing from view. She nearly flew up to see who it was when her watch alarm beeped, alerting her that it was time to return.
Her momma was expecting her. And one did not skip out on engagements with that woman.
Anna began jogging back towards the Red Squad's quarters on Genosha--home away from home--taking flight when she got close. Five minutes and three security protocols later and she was inside the actual living area, nodding to Mortimer and Kurt who were sprawled out on the couch, watching some movie starring Mary Jane Watson.
"Y'all are predictable," she drawled, fixing her hair. Drawing it into a tight ponytail.
"And you reek," Mortimer countered, raising his hand for a high-five from Kurt.
"Leave her be, Morty." Kurt hit his friend in the shoulder before pointing back towards the kitchen. "She is expecting you, ja?" he asked, his accent thicker than her own.
"An' I'm goin' to meet her, big brother." Anna ruffled his hair as she passed. "Be thankful I ain't got kitchen duty while we're here." She rolled her eyes at their cheerful response, striding into the kitchen. Nodded at the two women seated at the table. "Mornin', Momma. Jess. How're y'all this morning?"
Jessica nodded in greeting, gathering her mug of coffee and the daily paper before exiting the kitchen. "Just you and me, huh?" Anna grinned at Raven, sitting in the chair across from her adoptive mother. The only family she'd ever known.
"Did you enjoy your run?" Raven asked, setting down the paper. Smiling.
"Always do." Anna rolled her eyes as the older woman looked her over, checking for injuries. "I'd tell ya if'n I got into trouble. 'Sides, we're in Genosha. Ain't gonna find any here."
"That attitude is precisely what will get you into trouble, Anna," Raven reminded, sipping at her coffee. She reached across the table, squeezing Anna's hand briefly. Pulling away before her power started. "And stop rolling your eyes. You are not four years old."
"Yes, ma'am." Anna picked through the remaining sections of the paper before settling on the lifestyle insert. Settling into their routine. They never missed this breakfast engagement, not even when one of them was injured. "We ain't gonna even get to be here long, are we?"
"Until Lord Magnus tells us to leave." Raven looked up, nodding at the plate of eggs, bacon and toast. "Eat."
"Yes, ma'am." Anna dug into the meal. Quickly drinking the glass of orange juice beside it. "I got time for another workout before we have duty?"
Raven shook her head. "We will be guarding Lord Magnus. Make sure your uniform is impeccable, Anna."
"Always is, Momma." She rose, kissing Raven briefly on the forehead and dumped her plate and glass in the sink. "How long I got?"
"An hour. Meet everyone in main room. Shaw will be deciding who gets this job." Raven stood, gently hugging Anna. "Make me proud."
"Course, Momma. Say 'hi' to Logan for me." Anna watched the woman slip out of the room. Quiet as ever. "Always do," she murmured, heading towards her own room. Ready to make herself into the perfect little soldier.
It didn't take long. One quick shower and she braided her hair into her trademark braided pigtails, tugging on all the pieces to her Red Guard uniform. Brushing any stray specs of dust from it. She pulled on her boots, giving them a last minute polish before making her way towards the front. She saw the rest of her team--her family--Raven, Kurt, Mortimer, Jess, Logan. Each of them she would die for and she knew they'd all die for her. Especially Kurt and Raven.
She got into line with them, arriving just before Sebastian Shaw and his assistant. The man didn't take long, looking them over quickly before nodding for Raven, Logan, Jess and her to step forward. The boys walked back towards the common room. No doubt ready for another Mary Jane Watson movie. She followed the others out of the building, listening to Shaw explain their assignment. It seemed fairly straight forward and really not something that warranted the Red Guard's attention. Except that involved Lord Magneto and they were involved in anything that required his presence.
They were entering back into the garden she'd enjoyed this morning. But there were tables and chairs filling up the open space she'd enjoyed. A large red curtain and stage blocking the intricate wall of the balcony she'd gazed at this morning. She shook her head, forcing herself to focus. Thinking about anything but the mission could only end in disaster--for her or someone she loved. Or, god forbid, Lord Magnus. None of those options seemed viable desirable.
Anna quickly took her position at the east end of the stage, surveying the entering crowd that quickly filed inside, following the hostesses towards the appropriate seats. She touched her commlink, relaying the logistics. "Every seat is accounted for, Agent Darkholme," she told her mother, making sure to use the appropriate name.
"Copied, Agent Marie."
Anna stifled the urge to roll her eyes at her 'agent name'. There'd been no way she could go by her last name so they'd chosen her middle to represent her. Kurt used his father's surname. When she'd first joined she'd thought she was merely playing the role of an agent--sliding through the motions and been more than a little terrified. But she knew she wasn't now. She'd made the Red Guard not on the basis of her family connections--though that'd probably had helped--but because she was capable. More than capable. This was exactly where she belonged. With her family, doing what she did best. And hell, also gave her an opportunity to kick ass.
The curtains moved and Magnus walked through, making his presence known. The crowd rose, clapping loudly. She gave him a quick glance, not as in awe as she'd been the first time she'd been in his guard detail. But the man had a way about him that made everyone want to stand at attention. His voice echoed through the gardens and she forced herself to focus on the people listening. She could always listen to his speech again on television--well, if she was able to wrestle the control from Kurt and Mortimer.
Lord Magnus was walking down the stairs of the stage and she followed, seeing Agent Drew copying her movement on the other side. All senses alert and ready for action. Anna almost wished there would be some. She was itching for a good fight. Sparring against her brother and the others had become too easy. She knew their movements, the signals they gave off and the helicarriers simulations just weren't as much fun as a good old fashioned shoot out. Somehow, she just couldn't see any of these stuffy old mutants trying to cause any chaos. Ah, well. Maybe she'd be able to put in another run in the garden before they had to leave.
Anna continued to follow Lord Magnus, keeping back a few feet at all times to his right, while Jess stayed on his left. Perfect symmetry. And now came the mind-numbingly boring part where they had to flank him as he spoke with members of high society. Schmoozing as Mortimer would say. Maybe he and Kurt actually had the better gig. She knew everyone here--or well, she knew their names. What country was theres. Little intricacies about each of them. She highly doubted that a single one of them even knew her name. Just another nameless face in the Guard. Which suited her fine. Being nameless meant she got to stay with her family.
They'd stopped walking and Anna clasped her hands behind her back, standing at attention. Waiting. Forcing herself not to let her mind wander like it wanted. Lord Magnus was looking towards her and she stepped to the side, wondering if she was blocking someone from his path that he wished to speak with. No one passed and he was still looking towards her. She turned, looking behind her, but no one was there.
He ain't lookin' at me...is he? No. That was simply ridiculous. She looked back, confused by the smile tugging at his lips. A rarity. She didn't think she'd ever seen him smile before at one of these functions. Ambassador Geralt from Sweden stepped forward blocking her view and began speaking with him. Anna stepped back, falling into place beside Jess. She wondered if the girl had noticed the same thing, filing away to ask later. Red Guard didn't speak at these functions. Not unless spoken to. And Anna was nothing but an excellent soldier.
Anna ruffled her hair, little beads of water sprinkling everywhere as she walked. Tightening the robe around her. Briskly walking towards the kitchen. Needing her post-detail bowl of ice cream with lots of chocolate syrup. She grinned as she saw James sitting sprawled on the kitchen chair. "Like clockwork, kid," he told her, pushing a bowl of ice cream towards her.
"Well, Momma did raise me to be punctual." Anna sat down, quickly scooping up some ice cream. "An' you put just enough chocolate syrup on it."
"I do know you, darlin'." He took a swig of his beer, smiling at her. "You did well today."
"Thanks, James." Her smile broadened and she swirled the spoon between her fingers. "Wasn't much to do today. Simply followin' Lord Magnus around. Ain't many who'd be foolish enough to try somethin' here on Genosha."
James snorted. "Not with the Red Guard in attendance." He pointed at her bowl. "Its meltin'."
She rolled her eyes and eagerly finished the bowl. "Ain't I heard Raven tellin' you to stop doin' that?" he asked, and she looked up. Eyes wide. "Ain't about to tell her. She's told me how your sparring is comin' along."
"Just wanna do you proud," she told him, earnest.
He reached out. Patted her hand. "You do, girl."
Anna blossomed a little. Sat taller. Her smile seemed to glow. "I. Thanks."
There was a rustling behind them and they both turned to watch Kurt skulk into the kitchen. He stopped at the table, giving Anna a quick hug. Glaring at James. She tried not to sigh. It was no secret that her brother disapproved of Momma and James's relationship. He thought she could do better. Wouldn't believe she was happy. Kurt moved away, grabbing a bag of pretzels and some beer before leaving the room.
James sighed. Obviously frustrated. "He hates me."
Anna shook her head. "He doesn't--he just. Yeah." She stopped, cocked her head and smiled. "I don't hate ya."
James smiled back. "I know you don't, kid."
Anna rose and walked over, giving him a big hug. Careful of his skin. "Gonna go see what's botherin' him," she informed James and left the room, ready to give her big brother an earful. An' which of us is supposed to be the older, wiser one?
She found him sitting on the couch--surprisingly alone--and dropped down beside him. Glaring. "Why do you have to do that?"
"Do what, lieblingKurt asked, stuffing his mouth full of pretzels. Giving her his best 'I'm innocent' look.
She reciprocated with their mother's patented 'Don't fuck with me' look. "You know what, Kurt."
He shrugged, sinking low into the couch. "She can do better," he grumbled, changing the channel with his tail.
"She's happy," Anna reminded, snagging a pretzel from the bag.
Kurt shook his head. "She is content. Not happy." He looked back at her. Determined. "There is a difference."
Anna smiled. "Momma can figure that out."
Kurt frowned. "Our mother believes she is helping us by sleeping with him." He shrugged, taking a long drink.
"Kurt, we're the best at what we do." Anna jostled him with her elbow.
He pulled her close. Shifting her so that she was leaning against him. "I know, liebling. I know."
She's happy, Kurt. We all are. She snuggled close, unable to voice the words. He wouldn't appreciate them. Nor believe them. Even if they were true.
They had each other. What more could they possibly need?
They wouldn't be leaving for at least another day. The boys were getting antsy which Anna didn't understand. How could anyone get antsy with the fresh air and not being confined to a helicarrier. Though, they were confined to their quarters. Mostly anyways. Her mother and James were off at one of the markets. Kurt was currently being a cloud of doom and she'd needed out. Put on her running shoes and took off through the garden, enjoying the solitude.
She took her time. Smelled the air, took in the scenery. She was surprised no one else seemed to travel through this place. Maybe it was only ever used for press conferences and shindigs . The palace was certainly big enough to be sectioned off like that.
Her pace slowed as she saw someone up ahead. Stopping altogether when she realized it was Lord Magnus. Merely standing in her path. Hands clasped behind his back. He wasn't facing her way. Maybe I can just turn around and head-- Her breath caught as he turned, raising an eyebrow at her presence. She quickly did a bow. Heart racing in her chest. She tried to get her voice to work. To explain what she was doing. To apologize. Anything but stand there dumbstruck.
"I," Anna squeaked, turning three times redder. He did not move. Simply stared at her. Waiting. She took a deep breath. "I'm so sorry, Lord Magnus. I...I didn't think anyone was usin'--"
"That is obvious," he replied, and she quickly stood at attention. "Agent Marie, yes?"
"I. Yeah. That'd be me." She gave a little smile but quickly erased it. Maybe she wasn't supposed to do that.
He stepped forward. His face as impassive as ever. "I would not have recognized you out of your uniform." He stopped in front of her. "Except for the unique streak in your hair."
"Oh? I--yeah. Always had it." Anna touched the white. Nervous as hell. "I look that different?"
"You look younger," he informed her, and she nodded.
"Now or when I'm wearin' the uniform?" she asked, hands clasped behind her back. Looking up at him. He seemed a lot taller today.
"Now. Though, even then you look entirely too young to have made the Red Guard."
She stood up taller at that. Hands balling at her sides. "I assure you, sir, I went through the same obstacles as all the others--hell, more than all of them."
Magnus held up his hand and she quickly shut her mouth. Oh crap. "Easily riled, I see," he remarked, and she blushed. Looking away from him. God she must look like some witless little teenager. "Is there a reason you come to these gardens? The rest of your members run at the track I created."
Anna looked down. "I. I'm sorry, sir. I won't do it again," she promised. Wouldn't matter anyway. He'd probably have her demoted. Her stomach lurched. She wouldn't be with her family anymore.
"That's not what I asked, girl." She looked up. He almost sounded amused.
"I. Well. Cause its beautiful," she replied. It didn't look like that would satisfy him. "Not that the track ain't nice. It is. An' so are the helicarriers but its nice to be able to smell real flowers and have grass beneath my feet. An' the palace." She motioned towards the structure behind them. "The walls. Its very intricate. I like looking at the detail."
"Ah." That was all he said, waved for her to follow him towards the wall. She quickly complied, falling into step right behind him out of habit.
He slowed his pace and she did as well, stopping when he whipped around. Regarding her calmly. "You are not on duty, Agent--what is your name?" he asked, motioning her to move forward.
Anna hesitantly did so. "Anna. Anna Marie Darkholme."
"Ah, you are Raven's girl. The adopted child." He started walking again and she made sure to keep pace with him.
"Yeah. She's the only Momma I've ever known. Her and Kurt--Agent Wagner--they're my family." He was walking back towards a part of the garden she hadn't dared venture. It'd been too close to the palace. Somewhere she thought she wouldn't be welcomed. Where she couldn't see the Red Guard's quarters.
He didn't say a word and she chose to copy him, growing more anxious with each step. They passed a small grove of trees and her residence was completely out of view. She cast a nervous glance at him but he merely continued on. Maybe I wasn't supposed to follow...
They rounded a corner and her breath caught in her throat. Astonished by what lay before them. An ornate fountain spouting water high into the air from a small sculpted winged girl. More flowers than she could give name to blossoming around her. Roses growing up the walls. "What is this place?" she breathed. Her voice soft, barely audible.
"My own personal sanctuary," he informed her, walking further inside. She followed, taking a deep breath. Wanting to be able to remember this moment vividly the rest of her life.
"Amazing." She grinned over at him, walking past when she spotted a small monkey perched on a vine. Nibbling on fruit. "There are animals."
He followed her this time and she swore she saw the beginnings of a smile on his face when she looked back at him. "I see why you like this place, Lord Magnus," she told him, watching a colorful lizard scurry across a rock.
"Oh?" he asked, and she noticed he was standing closer than before.
"Its beautiful," she replied, smiling broadly.
"Yes, beautiful," he murmured. It wasn't until later that she realized he hadn't been looking at the garden.
Anna was starving. She hadn't realized how long she'd been with Lord Magnus until he'd walked her back to the main garden and the sun had been setting. She'd hastily made a respectful goodbye and then flew back to the Red Guard's quarters. No one was in the living area, which would work in her favor. She was on cloud nine after their talk and seeing all the exotic specimens and had no intent on disturbing any of that.
She headed straight towards the kitchen. Didn't bother with the light and went to the fridge, tensing as the light flicked on behind her. "Where have you been?" Raven demanded. She knew her mother was angry, probably had been worried. Anna took her time choosing what she wanted to eat before turning around, smiling slowly.
"I went runnin'." She sat down at the table. Popped open her drink and began fixing herself a sandwich.
"For three hours?" Raven sat down across from her, mug of tea nestled in her hands.
Anna shrugged. "I have done that before," she pointed out, feeling mischievous.
Raven sighed. Exasperated. "Anna."
"I really was runnin'. For a bit," Anna aquiesed, biting into the sandwich. "I ran into Lord Magnus." At her mother's horrified look she quickly clarified. "Well not into him. He an' I talked. Showed me his garden. It was real pretty."
Raven raised a brow. Leaned back in her chair, obviously interested. "His garden?"
"Uh huh." Anna sipped at her soda. Twirled the grape between her fingers. "Has exotic plants. An' animals. We talked. Lost track of the time. I didn't mean to worry you." She nodded vigorously. "Honest."
"You talked privately. About what, Anna?" Raven looked worried and Anna reached across, patted her mother's hand.
"He wanted ta know my name." Anna pursed her lips, trying to remember exactly. "Told me about his plants. An' we talked about the animals. How he got 'em."
"Oh?" Raven blew on her tea, appearing nonchalant.
"Yeah." Anna finished off the sandwich. "Nothin' big."
Raven snorted. "Anna. Lord Magnus is not one to dally around discussing plants and animals."
"Well, he did," she protested, slightly miffed that her mother didn't believe her.
"Honey." Raven reached across the table and patted her hand. Smiling reassuringly. "I believe you, but you must know he had a reason for doing so."
Anna stared at her. Not sure what her mother meant. "He wanted ta brag. That's all."
Raven laughed. "He has plenty of people he can do that with, Anna. He singled you out."
"I ran inta him. He coulda picked anyone," she murmured, popping another grape into her mouth. Fresh fruit was nice. She was so used to the damn canned stuff they got on the helicarriers.
"Lord Magnus doesn't frequent these gardens," Raven informed her.
"Well, he was takin' a break from routine." Anna rose, disposing of her plates. "No biggie. I'm gonna shower, Momma."
"Yes, yes," Raven replied, blowing on her cup of tea.
Anna knew that look in her mother's eye. She was planning something. She sighed and kissed the top of Raven's head before leaving the room. Lord Magnus hadn't singled her out. She was simply one of his soldiers and he'd wanted to show what he'd acquired through the years. That was all. It didn't mean a single thing.
The Red Guard was shipped out the next day. James had said Lord Magnus had needed them in New York City to deal with the recent rumors of uprising by a small sect of humans. And that had to be the reason. Right? Anna shook her head, forcing herself to focus on her brother and Mortimer. Watching them steadily as they made their way through the hologram room. They were playing their own unique brand of tag and she needed to think clearly if she had any hope of winning.
Dwelling on whatever happened with Lord Magnus back in that garden was best left behind her. It was just like she'd told her mother, he'd wanted someone to brag to and he done that. His interest in her--as Raven was so apt to putting it--was over. Not that she cared. Right? No, of course not.
She had her family, a good job. What more could she possibly need?
Anna leaped into the air, catching Kurt's hands and let him toss her forward. Tucking her body as she rolled through the air, gracefully landing on the other side of the room. She spun around, kicking out and connecting with Mortimer's gut. Smiled as he groaned.
"Gotta do better than that, Morty," she chided, leaping backwards. She blew him a kiss and utilized Kurt's powers to BAMF away, twirling around at the sound of clapping. "Hey, Momma."
Raven smiled, nodding to the boys and beckoned for her to follow. Anna waved to the others and left the room, running a hand through her disheveled hair as the doors closed behind her. "You will be attending the Gala," Raven stated, smiling slowly.
"Uh, yeah, Momma." Anna shrugged. That wasn't big news. "We all are. Red Guards in charge of security."
Raven handed her a thick envelop. "I'm so proud of you, little one," she murmured, brushing Anna's cheek.
Anna shook her head, watching her Momma leave, heading towards the quarters she shared with James. I don't understand her at all sometimes. She looked down at the envelope and pursed her lips at the script. It wasn't Director Shaw's or anyone else she knew. But that was definitely her name. "Anna Marie Darkholme. SHIELD Red Guard."
That was odd. Most of her things said 'Agent Marie' on them unless it was someone who knew her, like Jess or Kurt. Then all it said was Anna. She walked back to her quarters, turning the envelope over and over in her hands, touching the red seal on the back with the large M. Once in her bedroom, she opened it. Removing the large, thick paper. Her eyes widened in disbelief. It was an invitation--an actual invitation to the Gala. To the anniversary of Lord Magnus's victorious day.
She sank onto the bed, rereading the paper. Unable to believe it and jostled the envelope, startled when another smaller paper fell out accompanied by a single lily. She picked up the lily first and smiled. She'd told Magneto that had been her favorite flower. In his secret garden. She grinned and picked up the other paper, reading over the note. It was from him. From Lord Magnus himself, and she realized the writing on the envelope was his as well.
"Look forward to seeing you there, Anna," she read, unable to stop smiling and brought the lily up. Breathed in the scent.
She dropped them both as her bedroom door opened. Her mother looking frantic on the other side. "Momma?" she asked, pushing the items back into the envelope. "What's wrong?"
"James," Raven said, her voice broken. "He jumped. Somethings--not right with him."
The loud speaker came alive, sending Shaw's voice loud and clear. "Agent Drew, Wagner, Tonybee, Darkholme, and Marie report to my office immediately."
Anna pushed the items into her pocket and hugged her mother hard. "We'll get him back, Momma," she whispered, nodding. "Everythin'll be fine."
Rogue--yes, Rogue, she wasn't Anna anymore, hadn't been Anna for a very long time, no matter what Wanda had caused to happen--took off towards the palace. So many others on her sides, before her, behind her. All of them here to do what they needed. To put the world back to how it should be. A world where her mother and her--No. She wasn't going to think about that now.
Scott had given her a job to do and she couldn't afford to fail them. Her team. Her makeshift family. There was no way she could simply go back to seeing Raven and Kurt in the same light she had been. The way she so desperately wanted. Shaking her head, she dived down towards the honored guests, removing her gloves as she went. They'd only be a hindrance at this point.
She took as many powers as she could handle, using them to fight the Red Guard, her team. Old team--no never really my team, she reminded herself. That was hard to fathom with memories still fresh in her mind of how things were. Rogue pushed thoughts away, knocked Pietro back off his feet and headed towards others. Defending her 'real' team, helping by them all time.
She froze momentarily, seeing the garden. Magneto's private oasis. Her fingers touched her hip, skirted over the invitation in her pocket. Heart lurched a little and she bowed her head. Just like everything else in this world, it wasn't meant to be.