An X-Men: Evolution Fanfiction by Seriana Ritani
Summary: Slightly post-series. Mystique unleashes the full force of Rogue's powers against an unknown woman, leaving Rogue stranded far from home, in the power of a former enemy, and altered forever. The incident of Carol Danvers, Evolution style.
"I love summer," Kitty Pryde announced, for the fourth time in as many hours.
"It's not summer," Kurt reminded her. "It's only April."
"But doesn't it feel like summer? A Saturday afternoon, no school, no homework, no Logan—just me and my two best friends and the mall." She gestured expansively, taking in the wide mall courtyard, the sparkling fountain, the sunshine pouring through the skylight, the smells wafting from the food court, and the dozen or so stores displaying clothes, electronics, skateboards, books, jewelry, and anything else an American teen could desire.
"Uh-huh," said Rogue noncommittally. "Meet you guys in half an hour." She veered in the direction of Hot Topic.
"Oh, no, you don't!" Kitty grabbed her friend's long-sleeved arm and hauled with all her insignificant strength. "You are not buying one more dark, gloomy, broody, goth piece of clothing. You need something pastel. Kurt, help me!"
Kurt warily eyed the two girls, the one pulling as hard as she could, the other reluctantly allowing herself to be dragged rather than risk touching her friend. "I think you're doing fine by yourself, Kitty."
"Kurt!" Rogue protested plaintively.
"Sorry," said Kurt with a shrug.
Heartened by her victory, Kitty hauled Rogue into the nearest clothing store and began piling garments into her arms. "Try blue. Lots of blue. Blue skirts—you never wear fun skirts. Ooh, this jacket would be nice with that. Take two sizes, in case one doesn't fit. And a belt. Try all these and see which one looks best. How do you feel about salmon?"
"Yummy?" Rogue tried, struggling to hang onto the pile of fabric as one piece after another slithered toward the floor.
"The color, silly. This color."
"Try it on."
"It's pink, Kitty!"
"It's salmon. Try it on. With this blouse. Go!"
"This is cruel and unusual punishment," Rogue muttered as she allowed herself to be shepherded into a changing room.
"You'll thank me later!" Kitty called through the changing room door.
"Five bucks says I won't."
"Shoes." Kitty snatched a pair of high-heeled sandals off a nearby rack and shoved them through the door.
"Kitty!" Rogue hissed, snatching the shoes away so Kitty could withdraw her arm. "Ya know you're not supposed to do that stuff in public! What if the Professor sees you?"
"He can't," offered Kurt, who was leaning against the wall opposite Rogue's changing room and fiddling with his holowatch. "Not today, anyway. He and Forge took Cerebro apart zis morning to run some diagnostics. Kitty could phase right through the floor and the Professor vould be se only person who vouldn't notice."
"Do you think she should try yellow first, or green?" asked Kitty. "Come on, Kurt. You have to help me pick stuff out." She grabbed his arm and pulled him toward the front of the store.
"She likes green," Kurt pointed out. "Vhy shouldn't she vear it?"
"Because she likes forest green. I'm talking kelly green."
"Vhat's the difference?"
Inside her changing room, Rogue sighed. Though she loved her roommate dearly, and was glad to have a friend in this lonely world, Kitty could be overwhelming sometimes. Resigning herself to an afternoon of clothes shopping, she pulled off her gloves and shirt and tried on the first of the blouses Kitty had thrown at her.
She'd barely finished putting on the much-praised "salmon" skirt, and was coaxing her feet into the absurd high-heeled sandals, when she heard a brisk knock on the changing room door. "I brought you some more things to try. Open up."
"Ah'm still in the first uh the ones you already gave me!" Rogue protested. Any more clothes in here and there wouldn't be room for her.
"You'll like these. Let me in."
Rogue tugged on the heel strap of the second sandal, settled it into place around her ankle, and reached for the latch.
Just as she turned it, a thought flashed across her mind. Why does Kitty need me to open the door for her?
She saw a glimpse of Kitty's face, strangely stony, and then heard the hiss of a pneumatic pistol. Something sharp bit into her arm, and before she could mutter a syllable of protest, blackness overtook her mind.
"Kitty," with astounding strength for such a tiny frame, caught Rogue as she collapsed and eased her onto the narrow bench. Though she was gripping Rogue's arms with her bare hands, she showed no sign of being affected by Rogue's absorbtion. As soon as the unconscious body was settled, the delicate form of Kitty peeled away to reveal the tall, powerful Mystique, wearing a long-sleeved turtleneck, gloves, and a balaclava.
Mystique stripped off her protective outer garments and buried them in the pile of clothes on the floor. Then she fished a communicator out of some nearly-invisible pocket in her nearly-indecent black skirt and activated it. "Avalanche, Quicksilver, you are go. I've unlocked the emergency exit."
"We copy," answered Quicksilver's voice, almost too fast to be comprehensible.
"Pyro, you are T minus seven minutes."
"I copy," said Pyro in his twanging Aussie accent.
"We are in radio silence. Out."
Mystique tucked the communicator away again and took Rogue's shape, dressed in the usual black and green goth ensemble. Shaking the white streaks of her hair out of her eyes, she left the changing room and joined Kurt and Kitty at the front of the store.
Kurt was now the one being burdened with an armload of clothes. He dropped them as soon as Kitty's attention was distracted by Rogue's outfit. "You're done already? You didn't even show us any! Wasn't there anything you liked?"
Rogue shook her head. "Ah'm just . . . really not enjoyin' this. Not today. Let's just keep movin' and look at somethin' else."
"Okay," said Kitty hesitantly, though she didn't look as though she understood how someone could 'not enjoy' shopping. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah. I just don't feel lahk tryin' on clothes, that's all."
Somewhat subdued, Kitty nodded, and the three of them left the clothing store.
"You sure you okay?" asked Kurt quietly, laying a hand on Rogue's arm. "Don't let Kitty bug you. She's just being silly."
"Yeah, Ah'm fahne," Rogue insisted. She shrugged his hand away.
Back behind the changing rooms, the store's emergency exit eased open. Pietro poked his head out and glanced around. "Clear," he whispered to Lance. "Come on."
Without waiting for Avalanche, he zipped to the changing room where Rogue still lay unconscious. "Think you can carry her?" he asked, pulling open the door.
Lance crouched to fit his arms (long-sleeved and gloved, as Mystique's had been) under Rogue's shoulders and knees. "She's tall, but she's not too heavy," he decided, grunting a little as he lifted her. "Get her clothes."
"Which ones are hers?" asked Pietro, nudging the pile with his toe.
"They're on the bench there. She was lying on them. Hurry up and get the door for me."
"Are you listening to yourself?" demanded Pietro, 'hurrying up' as he was told.
Kitty, Kurt, and Rogue were halfway down the mall's wide main corridor when a blaring alarm sounded. Red lights began to flash, and with a hiss, automatic sprinklers poured freezing water onto the glossy marble floors.
Kitty squeaked and tried futilely to cover her head with her arms. "What happened?"
"Fire," yelled Kurt, to make himself heard over the blaring alarms. "Let's get out of here before the vater fries my projector!"
"Should we try to help?" asked Kitty hesitantly.
"Naw," said Rogue. "Fire department's probably got it. We'll just be in the way." She headed for the closest exit, joining the dozens of others evacuating the mall.
"I guess she's right," Kitty acknowledged. "Hey, Rogue, wait up!"
In the back parking lot, Avalanche and Quicksilver were wrestling the unconscious Rogue into the back of a nondescript brown car. Pyro sat in the passenger seat, blatantly not helping.
"You want to at least stop whistling?" Lance demanded.
"Don't you whistle over a good day's work?" asked Pyro.
"What work? All you did was set off the stupid fire alarm."
"Correction, mate: I set off all the fire alarms. That takes a trick in a building that big. You two wanna hurry up? You-Know-Who's not gonna want to wait once she gets back."
"Here's an idea," Quicksilver grumbled. "How about you shut up and let us work?"
"She coming?" asked Avalanche, trying to keep Rogue's head from flopping over and getting caught in her seatbelt.
"And how'm I to know that? There're a couple hundred people walking into this parking lot, and she could be any one of them."
"I hate working for this woman," Pietro moaned.
"And I hate it when the milk goes sour because our power's been cut off," Lance snapped, "so shut up and do your job."
A balding man wearing a Raiders t-shirt jerked open the driver's door and swung inside. "Strap her in. Let's go."
All three boys stared at him. "Ruddy unnerving when she does that," Pyro muttered. Avalanche and Quicksilver piled into the car, supporting Rogue from either side, and slammed the rear doors. Mystique started the engine and pulled the car out of its space.
"So what're we doing with her now we've got her, then?" asked Pyro.
"As long as you're getting paid, it's no concern of yours," Mystique growled.
Kitty and Kurt pushed through the crowd outside, their cries becoming increasingly frantic. The fire department had arrived, and a crowd was gathering outside the mall to see what had happened. It grew larger and denser by the minute, and neither of the young X-Men had caught so much as a glimpse of Rogue since they'd all left the mall, now nearly a quarter of an hour ago. The more people gathered, the harder it became to search without resorting to powers.
"She was just here!" Kitty moaned. "Right here! I saw her!"
"ROGUE!" Kurt hollered, cupping his hands around his mouth.
Kitty and Kurt wheeled, hoping the voice was Rogue's and knowing that it wasn't, and saw Jean forcing her way through the crowd toward them. "What happened?" she demanded, her voice tinged with fear. "Storm sent me to pick you guys up when you were done shopping, but—"
"Jean, we lost Rogue!" wailed Kitty. "The fire alarm went off, and we all came out together, and I could see her right in front of me, and . . . and we lost her!"
Jean's expression grew focused, and she closed her eyes, reaching out with her psychic abilities to locate Rogue's mind. "I can't feel her anywhere," she announced after a minute. "Are you sure she didn't stay inside the mall?"
"Positive," said Kurt. "We both saw her come out. She vas ahead of us."
"Keep looking," Jean ordered. "I'm calling Logan."
Logan, not wanting to be cooped up in the mansion on a Saturday afternoon any more than anyone else did, was at the sporting goods store half a mile down the road. He arrived at the mall within minutes, and both he and his motorcycle were roaring when he tore into the parking lot.
"How do you LOSE Rogue?" he demanded, flinging away the butt of the cigar he wasn't supposed to be smoking in front of the students. "Did she absorb the elf and take off? Was she abducted by aliens? You'd better have a dang good story, because if you let one of your teammates just WANDER OFF—"
"Can you track her?" asked Jean, ignoring her professor's directionless fury.
"In a crowd like this?" Logan snarled. "I can't pick out a thing. Couldn't even tell you if she made it outside, not unless she touched something." He tried a double sniff and a snort. Then he did it again. "Hold on."
Without any explanation or apology, he started sniffing around Kurt, who fidgeted uncomfortably. "Logan, you're making everyone stare."
Ignoring Kurt as easily as Jean had ignored him, Logan grabbed Kurt's hand and sniffed the palm. Then he flung it away as though burned, muttering a word that was even more forbidden in front of the kids than the cigar had been. "Who've you touched in the past half hour?"
"Nobody!" Kurt protested. "Just Rogue, for a second."
"Thought so." Logan turned his attention to the evacuated building. "Rogue never made it out of there—at least, not with you two. Mystique's got her. Now think. Before she took off in the crowd, when was the last time you lost sight of her, even for a second?"
"Uh . . ." Both Kitty and Kurt were numbed into terrified panic at the name Mystique, which made clear, fast thinking very difficult. "In the bookstore, maybe . . ." tried Kurt, frantically combing through his brain to remember back that far.
"No, it was in the changing room!" cried Kitty. "P. Dalton's."
Logan nodded. "I'm on it. Red, take 'em home." He planted a hand on each of the students' backs and pushed them roughly at Jean. "Tell the Professor to get Cerebro running."
"Should I send Storm to help you?" asked Jean. Even though he was more focused on the hunt at hand, Logan made a mental note to praise her for how well she was keeping her head. Her good training was showing through.
"No. Chasin' Mystique's no team sport. I don't wanna have to keep checking that she hasn't replaced whoever I got watchin' my back."
Jean nodded. "Call us when you know something."
"Right away. Now git movin'."