Keys to the Kingdom, Part One
Character/Pairing: Magneto, Rogue, people of Genosha
Word Count: 5000+
Summary: What if Rogue had decided to stay and help out with the building of Genosha?
Rogue couldn't believe she was doing this. Flying off to that hell of a country, a place she'd vowed never to return--honestly, she wasn't all that sure she could set foot down there---and see a man she wasn't sure was really there anymore. Oh Magneto was there. Genosha was his damn country now. Signed, sealed and delivered. But that didn't mean the man she thought he was--the one she'd seen so long ago in him--was still there. Everyone was against that being a possibility, told her he was nothing but a madman. Even the Professor believed he was a lost cause.
But that was always her problem, wasn't it? Entirely too much hope.
God, she still believed people could really have a happily ever after. And if asked at the right moment, that there really was a Neverland. Heck, I can fly.
Frowning, she rose higher into the air, intent on getting further up in the atmosphere where she wouldn't need to worry about airplanes. There was already enough on her mind. The X-Men were missing. Joseph was...She closed her eyes, taking a deep breath before opening them. He was dead. Died saving the world. Was that all that was left for any of them? A thankless death as they saved others' lives?
She forced herself to rise higher, moving out over the ocean. If she went lower she could see dolphins and whales, an occasional shark tossing in the air with a fish in its jaws. But she was too high now. This wasn't a leisurely flight. She had a purpose. If he was nothing but Magneto anymore it was better to know that up front than to always be wondering. Wasn't it?
The wind picked up behind her and she turned back to see a fighter jet closing in. "Attention, Unidentified...person." She almost grinned at the man's hesitancy. It was amazing how people were still surprised to see someone flying. "You are in restricted airspace. Abort your pattern or I will be forced to take appropriate measures."
Rogue raised an eyebrow at that. My, but he's a sweet-talker, ain't he? She utilized her superspeed--knowing she'd surprised the young pilot--and continued on her path towards Genosha. She wished she had time to spot a whale, instead of barreling full speed ahead to a place she didn't want to be.
Genosha was as much of a hell on Earth as Rogue remembered. Though, this time there seemed to be infinitely more smoke sleeking up into the sky. She set down on a rooftop, watching hordes of people running through the streets. The terror in their faces, the watchful glances they directed towards the buildings and alleyways let her know they were human. Trying to get out of the city. Afraid of those that they so viciously oppressed-- she shook her head, hating that she'd even thought that and growled when she realized her hand was touching her throat. Sometimes it was as though she could still feel the collar locked around her throat, the damn suit grafted to her body.
Frowning, she pushed those thoughts back, knowing she needed to focus. She had no clue where Erik--no, Magneto--would be, not entirely certain where she should even start. It definitely wouldn't help if she was thinking of him as Erik. She needed to be cautious, to go in with no predisposed ideas. That was becoming less likely with each minute.
Too late now, she thought, pressing forward, making sure she stayed in the shadows. She wasn't worried about the humans running for their lives, it was the other mutants that made her cautious. The white streak in her hair gave her identity away before she'd ever get a chance to use her power, and she had no clue how the mutants currently occupying Genosha would react to her presence. She wasn't all that sure Magneto would react favorably. She kind of doubted he would. This was stupid.
She turned, ready to leave, and froze as she saw Voght standing behind her, watching her steadily. "Rogue," the older woman stated, her expression grim.
"Voght." Rogue stared at her, scrambling for something else to say, to explain her presence. "I ain't here with the X-Men."
The woman nodded, surveying the scene around and Rogue thought she saw something flash in the woman's eyes as she looked down at the humans running for their lives. Pity? "I know. Our radar saw your approach a couple hundred miles out to sea and I've been tracking since." Voght took a step forward and stopped, eyes narrowing slightly. "Why are you here?"
"Ain't your business why--" Rogue shook her head and offered an apologetic smile. "I'm here to see Magneto." Don't ask me why. Don't ask.
"That's his business." Rogue stared quietly back, forcing herself not to fidget or give any sign of her anxiety. Look strong, resilient. Think like Momm- Mystique.
Voght's expression didn't change --still hard, still unreadable-- but she nodded her head ever so slightly. "Very well."
Rogue stiffened as the woman changed, shifting into the green mist of her power, before the change started on Rogue as well and she blinked, gasping for a breath as light seemed to blind her. And then it was gone and she was hovering in air in the middle of a room. She didn't even have time to gather her bearings before her body felt like it was on fire. She couldn't move and cringed at the pain raging through her body. Just because she was invulnerable didn't mean it didn't hurt.
"My dear Rogue." She didn't even need to twist to see him. She knew that voice. And not just because Scott liked to have them listen to the old news reels of various villains threatening destruction of humanity. Focus, girl. Focus, she berated herself, thankful he allowed her to twist her head so she could see him as he continued. "I wish I could say this was a welcome surprise, but I would be lying."
"Well ain't that a nice greeting," she grumbled, interrupting him. Pleased to see him falter for a moment in his speech.
His jaw tightened. She doubted anyone else noticed but she'd been staring straight at him, comparing it to Joseph's. Stop it, she ordered, forcing herself to listen as he continued. "...so eager to continue our little dance--even against the wishes of the United Nations?"
Huh? She looked blankly at him for a few moments, hating that she hadn't been listening, before realizing he was referring to the X-Men. "I didn't come with the X-Men, I came alone. To talk with you." She averted her gaze, not wanting to look into his hardened eyes. "Personal like."
"Alone? How very courageous of you," Magneto replied, his sarcasm sticking like a knife into her gut. This wasn't going at all how she'd pictured it. Maybe that was the problem. She wasn't that fairy tale princess. He certainly wasn't a prince in shining armor. She looked back up at him, trying not to show how completely lost she was feeling. His gaze was raking over her face and his fist clenched tightly, the pain in her body subsiding as she was pulled towards the ground. "I am intrigued. You momentarily have my undivided attention."
Problem was, now she didn't want it. She never should have come. Foolish. Rogue finally realized he wasn't alone. She'd interrupted a meeting of some kind and all the participants were watching her with varying degrees of hostility. Even Magneto. "It doesn't matter. I see that now," Rogue stated, startled by the sadness enveloping her own voice. She stiffened, watching him and the others carefully. There was little chance of her simply walking out of here. What the hell was I thinking?
"Your response is not endearing your motives to me, Rogue." Magneto's fist tightened and she glared.
"Yeah, well, yours ain't really endearing you to me either," she snapped, hands pressing against her hips.
There were unpleasant murmurs from the others but Rogue didn't care, keeping her focus on Magneto. Refusing to back down. "My lord, perhaps she truly is a spy. Sent here by Xavier to infiltrate the society you are trying to cultivate," Fabian Cortez offered, and she rolled her eyes. That was beyond ridiculous.
"You believe that then I should just leave." Rogue tried to rise but he wasn't letting her and she growled. "Out of everyone in this room, Eri--Magneto, who hasn't tried to kill you. Cause if'n I remember correctly, I'm one of those. He"--she nodded towards Cortez--"ain't."
"However, I believe in his cause," Cortez stated, and she heard a hint of nervousness in his voice.
Rogue snorted. "And I'm the Easter Bunny."
"Enough!" Magneto demanded, his voice reverberating off the metal. He fixed her with a steely glare. "I do not have time for childish behavior, Rogue. You may either stay and be silent or leave."
And here was her chance to-- "Stay." Well, hell. Apparently her mouth was working against her brain.
He released his hold on her and she nearly fell to the ground before righting herself, landing gracefully. "Ferris, take Rogue on a tour of the perimeter," Magneto ordered and Rogue raised an eyebrow, wondering who he was referring to before the robot stepped forward.
She was frozen for a moment, old fears wrapping themselves tightly around her before she pushed them aside, forcing herself to be strong and followed the robot--No, Ferris--from the room. She glanced behind her at Magneto, frowning at his implacable stare and quickly turned away, sighing. What the hell did I get myself into?
They passed a multitude of rooms and Rogue idly wished Voght was in charge of carting her around. However, with the robot as her guide, that should make it an easier if she wished to simply leave. Fly off into the sunset and never look back. It was an idea with a lot of merit but every time she rose a little in the air she frowned. What was the point of coming all the way out here if all she did was turn around when it got a little uncomfortable? He hadn't hurt her--well, besides on initially seeing her, but that had been a means of restraint--and she was getting a chance to survey the nation. See what his plans were. Sort of. That had to be a good thing. Right?
Scott or Logan would probably have found multiple holes in it. Ain't like they're here, she reasoned and followed Ferris towards the electric fence being set in place. "Why's he putting in a perimeter?"
"Magneto does as he see fits," came the electronic answer.
She rolled her eyes and coasted down beside a newly put in post, watching the men and women continuing to lace the wire. "Trying to keep someone out or something in?" She'd never liked fences. Hadn't had them as a child. She'd been able to roam free.
A boy ran past, couldn't have been more then ten, dragging a large thermos behind him. His purple skin gave way that he was a mutant and she frowned, watching him move as quick as he could towards a table, struggling to set the thermos on top. He ran back the way he'd come and she sucked in a breath at his eyes, quickly shutting her own at the scars covering them. The damn Genoshan doctors. Those scars looked new. They weren't older ones like she'd saw on some of the others working hard. Which meant the experimentation hadn't stopped.
She raked a hand through her hair, following the robot past the workers, watching the sun set. A little ahead, there was a group of mutants trying to heave another post. Struggling. She broke away from the robot and moved towards them, pushing the wood into place. A chorus of cheers and thank-yous resounded and Rogue smiled, pleased to have been of some aid. "How long have y'all been at this?" she inquired, following them towards the table, Ferris on her heels.
"Since our Savior came to help us," one of the women stated, bowing her head slightly and Rogue stifled the urge to raise an eyebrow, keeping her expression blank.
They were all looking in awe at Ferris--no doubt having seen him with Magneto before--and she could tell they held him in high regard. Both the robot and its master. "We need to put in a secure border," one of the men informed her, massaging the back of his neck as the young boy from earlier began handing out water.
"Why?" If Magneto had control of Genosha, if it was now his, why did he need a border?
He nodded towards the fence and she turned, spotting a ruined small aircraft in the distance. "Magistrate." There was so much venom in his voice when he said that word and the others shuddered. "They aren't about to step aside and let Magneto take his rightful reign."
She continued to stare at the vehicle. She hadn't thought of that, people still trying to fight against the fledgling regime. But of course there would be those who'd oppose Magneto to their bitter deaths. She tried not to imagine precisely how vicious those deaths would be and closed her eyes. That was a mistake. Images of Zaladane butchered before her eyes rushed at her and she stumbled back a bit.
"I hope he kills them all," the boy whispered, kicking the side of the table. Jugs shaking precariously before he righted them.
Rogue looked at him, watched his face set in hard determination. His scars even more visible than before. "I had wings," he continued, voice choking with tears. "Long, blue ones. Rough. Leathery." He stopped and looked at her, eyes pleading for understanding. "They cut them off."
What could she say to that? What comfort was there to even give?
"It'll be different now. No more fighting," a woman said, nodding her head adamantly, purple hair shaking with the movement.
"Not waiting for the next bomb. The next random attack," another added, with a growl.
"Anything will be better than the cells."
Rogue tensed, memories flickering in her mind of the bars. The skin suit. No. She shoved them violently into the back of her mind. The boy was giving her an odd look before he dropped to his knees, quickly bowing his head. She looked at him, startled, before the others repeated the motion. Huh? She spun around, unable to stop herself from rolling her eyes as Magneto landed a few feet away.
She couldn't read his expression because of the helmet and his eyes were no help. Icy cold, a trait that should have been Bobby's. But her friend's eyes were always so warm, so mischievous. She forced herself to hold his gaze, refusing to look away, to show weakness. She thought she saw him smirk but it could have been a trick of the light, the shadows on his face interfering with a better assessment. He strode forward, walk already regal, and stopped at her side, looking down at the mutates. "You don't even know their names," she muttered, turning to face them.
"Neither do you," he replied, and she glared, watching as he surveyed their handiwork. "Rise, my brethren. You're job has been impeccable. Do not let us keep you."
They rose with evident pride, none quite able to meet his gaze as they bowed and moved back to the posts. This is ridiculous. "I hope she wasn't any trouble," Magneto continued, sparing her a glance before directing his attention to Ferris.
"She was not a problem. She helped put up a beam and engaged in a discussion with the mutates," Ferris replied, voice almost impeccable except for the slight mechanical hint to it.
"Ain't being simply handed over the regime, are ya? Magistrates are still fighting back." Rogue's brow creased, discomfited as she looked at the group hauling the new beam into place.
"Will you be helping them?" Magneto asked and she looked up, shifting back slightly at his nearness.
"Who's them? The Magistrates? The United Nations?" She pursed her lips, crossing her arms defensively. "You and your tin man friend?" Shaking her head, she looked away, back at the group, focusing on the boy, trying with all his strength to help. Who was she supposed to help? "The mutates?"
"If it was not me who the United Nations had given control of Genosha to, who would you be here to help?" Magneto asked, and she looked up, unable to stop the smile tugging at her lips.
"Wouldn't have ever come," she murmured, and looked away, knowing that wasn't what he'd wanted to hear. It was the truth though. She hated being here now. Her body didn't know how to relax here. It never would.
"Of course not," he replied, angered. "You would have merely allowed them--your brethren--to continue to suffer at the hands of their human oppressors. Selfish--"
"Don't think you know my motivations or thoughts on anything," she growled, interrupting him, eyes narrowed in anger. It was a far better emotion to be showing than the fear trying to overtake her again.
"I do not pretend to understand you at all, Rogue." He grasped her forearm and they rose into the air, Ferris following behind them.
"Ain't like I understand you either," she murmured, pleased when they made the rest of the trip back to his base in silence. What the hell am I doing here?
They landed on a roof-like structure and she nearly stumbled as he released his hold on her, pulling at her with his power as he began a brisk pace into the building. She followed, trying to determine what on her uniform was metal. Zipper, belt. She was pretty sure there was more but what use was that now. She wasn't about to strip naked so he couldn't drag her around. Not that he was even dragging her, more like guiding her through the hall.
They ended their journey in a room like the one she'd been in earlier. Long metal walls, television screens. Nothing all that descriptive except for the structure in the middle. "You made yourself a throne?" she asked incredulously. Maybe the others were right. Maybe he was simply far too gone to...To what, Rogue? Her eyes widened as he sat down in it, levitating the helmet off his head. Why am I here?
"Why are you here?" Magneto demanded and she gasped as a chair bumped into the back of her knees.
She sat down, knowing he could force her to if he desired, and held onto the seat as he dragged her and it forward a little. "I already told you."
"Oh yes, to talk to me." His eyes were distant as he looked at her, expression hard as stone.
"Ain't a point anymore. I see that," she murmured, hating how defeated her voice sounded. It would be best if she stopped dreaming, stopped yearning. What was the point? Every dream seemed to turn to dust in her hands.
"So you will simply fly away and leave this all behind." He sounded angrier than before and she sighed.
"What would you have me do?" she demanded, clenching her hands in her lap. "I'm an X-Man. I can't simply stand by as you terrorize the humans that live here."
His fingers trailed along the metal. "Have you seen me 'terrorize' a single human here?"
"You will. Doesn't even have to be a human. You'd do the same to a mutant that opposes you." Zaladane. It always came back to that woman. To what he had done.
"As is my right, Rogue. As leader of this nation, I will not allow any to harm my vision."
She shook her head. Unable to believe that. He leaned forward slightly, drawing her chair nearer. "Would you have me allow the magistrates to continue their campaign of violence? To kill more mutates?"
"Of course not."
"To allow another nation to come in here and try to usurp my power? To enslave my people?" he demanded, fixing her with a steady gaze.
"No." She frowned but forced herself to continue to look at him. "They ain't your people."
"Semantics." He waved his hand. "What will you do now? Fly back to New York, tell the X-Men what you have seen?"
"I don't know where they are." Why the hell did she tell him that?
He raised an eyebrow. "Then what help can you be there?"
"What help could I be here?" she countered, leaning back in the chair. "I don't believe in your vision."
"You helped the mutates today, Rogue. Why could you not do so again tomorrow? Or the next day?"
She averted her gaze, wringing her hands in her lap. He had a way of twisting words, of making something seem like a good idea when it just couldn't be. "Is it because then you would be helping me? Hmmm?" he inquired, and she looked back at him, ready to deny it, mouth quickly shutting when she realized she couldn't. "Without your help, many will die."
"That ain't fair," she protested, glaring.
"Neither is life." He rose and her chair shifted back a little. "I give you an hour to decide, Rogue. Either be prepared to swear loyalty to me or leave, and be done with this. There can be no middle ground."
She glared at his retreating form and kicked the helmet once he was gone. Watching it skid across the room and slam into the wall gave her a little satisfaction. Not much but she was glad to take any right now. Bastard, she growled inwardly, hands clenched at her sides, fighting back the urge to slam them into the nearest wall. To tear his 'throne' apart. Of course she couldn't stay. Couldn't swear loyalty to him. Was he insane? Clearly that is the case, Rogue.
"Hello, Voght," Rogue greeted, watching the green mist slide through the creases in the door before shifting into the mutant. "What do you want?"
"Rogue, before you make any rash decisions, I need you to come with me."
Rogue laughed. She didn't mean to but once she started she couldn't stop. "Why the hell should I trust you? Any of you?"
"You will see," Voght replied, and before Rogue could stop her teleported them out of the building and to another hilltop.
Rogue looked down, staring in horror at the containment center below. Rows of makeshift houses, contained by barbed wire fences. "What is this?"
"This is where those with the legacy virus have been sent," Voght told her, wrapping her arms around her body. Rogue wasn't sure if it was because of the chill of the night air or something else. "Magneto has segregated them. Hopes that this will stop the spread of the virus. The conditions. Are abysmal."
"They are mutants." Rogue gasped as a child appeared outside of one of the buildings, walking forlornly towards another one.
"It is hoped that a cure will be found in time." Voght shook her head. "These poor souls will not live long enough to see one." She turned and grasped Rogue's arm, looking earnestly at her. "And that isn't anything. Not truly in the grand design that he has planned. Plans for expansion."
"Expansion?" The word sunk in and Rogue shook her head. "No."
"Genosha is only the beginning. The United Nations believe giving him this will settle him down. Bog him down with so much he can't worry about the rest of the world." Voght's grip tightened, shaking Rogue slightly. "If nothing else, it's strengthened his need, his plan, for domination."
"What would you have me do?" Rogue demanded, wrenching herself free. "What am I supposed to do? Break them out?" She looked down at the buildings. "I could. It would only hasten their deaths though. No good would come of that."
"Stay. Help me try and lessen his need for...for this." Voght shook her head. "He's changed since I first joined. He is convinced that only pure force will change anything. That only he can be the one to set that change into motion."
"And you think I can help you? Hon, that's crazy."
"Is it?" Voght gently touched Rogue's arm. "You came here because you remembered the man he was. He's still in there, somewhere. He just needs to remember."
"He doesn't want to remember, Amelia." Rogue shrugged her off. "There ain't anything I can do."
"Then you are not the woman I thought you were," Voght replied, and the unsettling feeling enveloped Rogue before they appeared back in the room.
Rogue watched the woman shift to green mist and disappear back through the door, leaving her alone with her thoughts. Well, hell. That encounter certainly hadn't helped any. If anything it had made everything muddled, confusing. She had a clear cut answer. She was going to leave, finally put the breaks on--On what? A half formed fantasy that never had a chance to come to fruition. So, leave. Yes. That was the simplest choice. The easy one.
But. What about the mutates? What about those she saw suffering? She had been able to help. She could continue to help. Except she'd have to stay here. In Genosha. She didn't look forward to that idea at all. Already she was antsy, moving around, not daring to sit still. Fearful her mind would take over, that she'd remember it all again. Genosha was part of her past. Deeply pressed back into the recesses of her mind, something she didn't think about. Wouldn't. Couldn't. And being here wouldn't be conducive to keeping that up.
Selfish. She frowned, looking back at the makeshift throne. But really was it being selfish? He wanted her loyalty, to make her an Acolyte or something. That wasn't about to happen. She'd been a Brotherhood member once--so yeah, it'd been Mystique's team, not his--but she wasn't about to make that same mistake again. Think, she demanded, and sank onto the throne, tapping her fingers along the metal.
The door slid open and she glared at Magneto as he entered, unable to believe it had been an hour. He raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms, watching her. Expression unreadable. "Your answer?"
Rogue cocked her head, staring steadily back. "I ain't swearing any oaths of loyalty to you. I ain't leaving either. There's a middle ground." She smoothed back her hair, then crossed her arm, mimicking his gaze. "Deal with it."
"Is that so?" He didn't move, didn't react to her statement at all.
"I ain't here to be an Acolyte. I ain't here to believe in your...cause." She leaned back, continuing the show of bravado. "I'd be staying to help the mutates. To make sure you got their best interests at heart." She narrowed her eyes. "As their leader, you should."
She was raised into the air and frozen, hovering above the ground. "And if I do not accept these stipulations?" Magneto asked, voice chillingly calm.
"Why wouldn't you?" she countered, pursing her lips. "None of them would go against anything you're doing. You'd merely be gaining an ally."
Magneto sat down on the throne, strumming his fingers along the metal, watching her closely. Contemplating. "In order to stay, Rogue, you will live with the mutates. If you truly have their best interests at heart that should not be a problem."
She tried hard not to react, but was unable to stop her body from tensing. "I'd need to be allowed...access to you. Not a representative of yours. Not Amelia. Not Ferris. You, if and when I need it." There. She could do this. Strong. She was strong.
"Done." He released his hold on her and she landed, steadying herself as her feet hit the ground.
His tone had a hint of amusement and she glared, jutting her chin out defiantly. "You think this'll break me. That I'll be gone soon. You're wrong." She rose into the air and flew towards the door, pushing it open. "I've endured far worse here."
She was frozen in place again and sighed in frustration. "Do you have more to say? Cause I gotta say, Magneto, there are better ways to get someone's attention than to force them to stop." Rogue rolled her eyes as he turned her so that she was facing him.
"The mutates will not trust you if you go alone." He waved his hand and Ferris floated into the room. "Ferris will accompany you and will be your means to contact me."
"Uh uh. You agreed that I would meet directly with you." Rogue narrowed her eyes, fists clenching at her sides.
"And you will. However, you will need to locate me. Ferris will be your means to accomplish that." His attention turned to Ferris. "You will accompany her and do whatever she asks. Except leave her side." He looked back at Rogue. "By having Ferris with you, the mutates will accept that you are linked to me. You will not be harmed."
As if you care. She desperately wanted to voice those words but held her tongue, wanting this masquerade to end. He wanted nothing more than her to fail. She knew it by the amusement earlier. It didn't matter. She'd prove him wrong. "Fine. Now release me so I can find a place to sleep."
"Don't be foolish," Magneto replied, releasing his hold. "Ferris, take Rogue to one of the empty rooms. Tomorrow, the two of you may scout out an area for your residence."
"And an office."
He raised an eyebrow. "An office?"
"If I'm their representative, I will need a way for the mutates to contact me. For me to meet with them and to figure out the best course of action for them." Ha. There. See she was professional. Not the naive, little Southerner he probably believed she was. Why did everyone seem to forget that she'd been raised by Mystique and Destiny? Two of the craftiest, wisest women she knew.
"Very well." He waved his hand, effectively dismissing them.
Rogue turned on her heel and forced herself not to clench her arms at her sides, following Ferris through the halls. Desperately trying not to think about what she'd just agreed to. After some time, Ferris stopped at a doorway. "This will be your room for the night. I will remain outside. Call if you need assistance."
"Thanks." She didn't bother smiling as she entered, shutting the door and locking it behind her. The room looked like it might have been a storage room, but there was a light and a bed. That was probably more than most mutates had available to them tonight. She collapsed onto the bed and sighed, hugging the pillow tightly as the exhaustion took hold. Her worries could wait until tomorrow.