The writer: I love to tell stories.
The goal: A test bed for character(s) development
Disclaimer: I do not own X-men Evolution
"How fascinating it is that people seem to thrive in their own soap opera. As though happiness and misery are one in the same. What a wonderful world."
From the logs of Kalurey Vis Xuihon zu Xaikonish
Chapter 1: Home Sweet Home
TWO WEEKS AGO
Stepping out of a yellow airport taxi van, Rogue looks up while taking a deep silent breath. The familiar scent of the estate fills her senses as she steps onto the near perfectly paved driveway. The silence of the property is so comforting she can't help but smile in content. Rogue lightly clears her throat at the same time straightening her outfit from the long trip sitting in the shuttle van. She catches her slightly distorted reflection on the side window of the van stares at herself with a plain expression. Rogue turns her head to her left to check on her put up ponytail. She then checks her slightly accessorized outfit. The reflection reveals her slender figure wearing a form fitted black turtleneck over a pair of relaxed fit boot cut blue jeans that also covers a pair of thick soled black leather shoes she managed to pick out during her trip. Stepping back away from the van, Rogue lets the driver do his job unloading her matching luggage from the back hatch back. She watches as the short stocky man carefully places her three green matching cases on the sidewalk steps then stands up straight to stretch his back. Grunting lightly, the driver asks, "So, you actually live here?"
Not answering at first, Rogue reaches back into the back passenger seat of the van grabbing her dark burgundy long coat from the seat. She glances up towards the front of the mansion and finally replies calmly, "Yeah."
Nodding his head in acknowledgement, the driver adds, "Don't look so bad. I mean, there have been a lot of talk about this place. Weird talk too."
Feeling the cold nip in the air, Rogue drapes her coat around her and adjusts her outfit for better comfort. She reaches in the side pockets of her coat pulling out a pair thin leather gloves and carefully slides them over her bare hands then proceeds to reach into her inside coat pocket sliding out her long black wallet. Rogue tediously opens her money pouch pulling out a twenty and ten dollar bill then gently hands them over to the driver remarking, "You don't know the half of it. Keep the change" as she grins contently.
With a big smile on his aged face, the driver happily accepts her money taking the two bills then playfully waves as he steps securing the doors to the van. Rogue watches as the driver quickly hops back into his vehicle, eager to make his next fair driving away from the property. Sighing almost out of relief, Rogue slips her wallet back into her coat pocket while turning to face the enormous house. A hint of nervousness tingles in her mind as she seems to hesitate taking a step up the stone stair way to the front entrance. Slightly shaking her head to clear the nervous sensation, Rogue grins and reaches down to pick up her baggage. Just then, a cheery familiar female voice calls out to her, "Omigod… Rogue?"
Quickly turning to face the voice while straightening her posture, Rogue replies with a bit a playful sarcasm, "Well, who do ya think Ah'd be, Kitty?"
Rogue looks with a content smile as she spots her youthful friend approaching. Without warning, Kitty lets out gleeful squeal as she quickly rushes over to Rogue with a bright wide smile on her face. Caught completely off guard, Rogue can barely react to Kitty's advance as she hugs Rogue. With a somewhat shocked yet playful manner, Rogue asks out, "Have ya lost your mind, girl?!" as she tries to push her friend back.
"Oh relax Rogue." Kitty replies as she ghostly phases through Rogue's physical being stepping through from her hug.
Rogue turns to follow Kitty with a sarcastic smirk on her face and adds, "Gotten a bit cocky since Ah've been gone?"
Taking a quick glance at Kitty's stylized outfit, she notices a much more mature look than she is used to seeing on her friend. Sporting a form fitted dark blue outfit with her mid drift clearly showing, Kitty's X-man uniform is definitely geared for combat but sleek enough to show sexuality as well. A pair of protective yellow gauntlets strap over her wrists and forearms and are accented by what appears to be color matching functioning utility belt and shoulder pads with an 'X' symbol printed on both sides. As if the uniform wasn't enough, Rogue also notices one obvious drastic change on Kitty. Her eyes widen as she asks out, "You cut your hair?"
Almost nervous like, Kitty reaches up and lightly brushes her hand through her shorts cut brown hair that hangs just above her neck line and answers with a grin and, "Oh, yeah, well, it needed to go, I guess."
Remaining silent while looking her youthful friend's new look over, Rogue just smiles as Kitty adds, "And I wouldn't actually call it 'cocky', I'd say more of a 'new confidence' really." as she playfully poses like a runway model.
Chuckling from Kitty's comment, Rogue slightly looks off to her left and notices a small group of young teenagers standing silently watching them. A quick glance shows a huddled gathering of what appears to be mutant youngsters. All of which stare at the two young women with an almost innocent disposition. Lowering her tone while carefully clearing her throat, Rogue asks, "So, what's with the entourage, Kitty?"
Looking back to the group of teenagers, Kitty replies with slight enthusiasm, "Oh, that's my orientation group."
Rogue smiles with a baffled expression as Kitty giggles and adds, "I know, ever since Ms. Frost was added to the new administration here, we've been getting a new flow of fresh students lately. She has this determination to change the way the public looks at the mutant community, I guess."
Raising her eyebrows in almost slight disbelief, Rogue remarks, "Sounds more like she was placed in charge of the place."
Kitty's expression quickly changes from chipper to nervous innocence as she replies, "Well, sort of. It's kind of complicated. Let's just say, she has invested a lot of her own money into the institute. Officially, Mr. Lehnsherr is in charge along with Ororo and Mr. McCoy. But like I said, it's complicated. Even more so now since the Professor went on some kind of sabbatical."
With her eyes widening out of surprise, Rogue asks out, "Professor Xavier is not here?!"
"You've been gone for almost six months, Rogue," Kitty states while shrugging her shoulders, " a lot's been going on since you were absent."
Glancing around curiously, Kitty asks softly, "So, where is your car? For that matter, where is Remy? I thought you two were together."
Rogue slightly adjusts her posture as she clears her throat and replies with a somewhat plain expression, "Oh, my car is with Remy. And Ah really don't wanna talk about him right now."
Kitty returns her comment silently with a nervous smile. In a sudden flash just off to their side, both young ladies gasp the sound of a smoke pluming 'bamf'. They both lightly cough waving their hands in attempt to clear the air in front of their faces. Rogue then darts out in an annoyed tone, "Kurt!"
As the sulfur smoke gently dissipates, a slender male figure stands casually before them dressed simply in a pair of loose fit khaki colored cargo slacks and a red and white baseball jersey. The two young ladies sigh simultaneously as they stare at a youthful smile whose complexion is covered with a fine, thin, blue velvet like fur. With his three fingered hands, the young man brushes back his blue hair and remarks, "Enough with the questions, Kitty. My sister is home, what else is there to know?"
Rogue returns with a smile of her own, "It's great to see you too, Kurt."
Kitty continues to grin and lightly chuckles, "Well, I have to get back to my little orientation. We'll catch up later." as she scampers back to her diverse group of young new students.
Letting out a slight breath of relief, Rogue watches the gathering migrate towards the back of the vast manor, then turns her brightened attention to Kurt who adds, "Let's get you settled in, sis."
Kurt picks up the two larger pieces of Rogue's luggage as she shoulders the carry on sized bag then places her left hand on his trim right shoulder. In an instant, they both vanish in a plume of dark blue smoke and then rematerialize in an open plush bedroom seemingly located in the far west end of the mansion. Rogue fans the dissipating remnants of the smoke from her face. She had grown used to the instantaneous form to travel her foster brother is capable of. The smell of sulfur and brimstone, however, is something she feels she'll never get used to. Quickly regaining her bearings, Rogue places her carry on bag gently on the floor looks about the familiar room. Kurt clears his throat in almost nervous manner as she also places the matching luggage on the floor remarking, "We kept your room as is. I mean, I did clean up a little for you, just in case you came back. Um, Mr. Lehnsherr and Miss Frost thought there were some things that needed to be put in a secure storage. I guess they meant the stuff that belonged to… um… you know…"
Rogue notices Kurt's expression sadden and quickly adds with a soft grin, "It's alright, Kurt. Ah'm ok. It's been close to four years since that day."
Returning her grin, Kurt lightens back up and says, "Look, uh, let me leave you alone so you can settle in. And maybe later, we can go out we the others and grab a bite."
"Sounds great." Rogue replies contently.
Kurt smiles as he bows playfully, then vanishes from her room in a "bamfing" plume smoke. With Kurt instantaneously leaving her room, a comforting silence settles back in.
Rogue begins to move about her familiar surroundings, slowly focusing on each piece of furniture. And with each piece follows a memory of a simpler time. A time when she was allowed to share this room with a significant other. She walks over toward the dark oak dresser and gently pulls open one of the top smaller drawer. Much to her dismay, Rogue finds it empty. An almost lost sensation fills her mind as mutters to herself, "Secure storage?"
Letting out a slightly frustrated sigh, Rogue quickly dresses down her attire taking off her coat and slipping off her shoes for a pair of casual burgundy velvet like slippers. Without a word, she exits her room walking out into the plush vast hallway. But as she starts her trek, she is immediately overwhelmed by the sight of bustling youngsters. Rogue manages to avoid full contact with the new students despite their young carelessness and makes her way to the main study hoping to see another familiar face. But instead of seeing the gentle disposition she was hoping to come across, she is instead faced with a more fair skinned cold expression glare. Rogue can not help but be impressed by the dramatic figure before her. Standing elegantly by the study window staring back at her, a platinum blonde woman appears to have been busying herself with several books. Rogue notices the complete form fitting low cut white leather outfit that hugs the woman's slender curves with only her arms and shoulders exposed. Closing the book in her hand quietly, the blonde woman speaks out plainly, "Rogue."
Straightening her posture and slightly nodding her head in acknowledgement, Rogue responds in same cold plain manner, "Miss Frost."
"Oh honestly, Rogue," the woman remarks, "It has been quite some time since anyone here, especially myself, considered you a student of this institute. You may drop the formalities."
Shrugging her shoulders, Rogue flashes sarcastic grin and replies, "Alright then, Emma."
"There," Emma responds while gently closing the book in her near perfect manicured hands, "that is much better. Welcome home. Now, how may I help you?"
Unsure of how to answer her question, Rogue takes a slight breath and reluctantly replies, "Well, Ah'm not all sure you can help me. Ah was expectin' to find Mr. McCoy in here. So… um…"
"Dreams," Emma suddenly interrupts with a somewhat annoyed expression and adds, "you have been having some rather strange dreams that Charles had been trying to help you cope with, and Henry has been administering you a light sedative to help you sleep at night."
Rogue responds with a silent yet shocked face as Emma continues, "I am well aware of your unique dilemma, Rogue."
Returning an almost cold glare, Rogue remarks sarcastically, "Wow, it must be really nice bein' telepathic, saves you from dealin' with sensitive issues."
Unmoved by Rogue's remark, Emma playfully grins and chuckles, "Relax, Rogue, I didn't have to read your thoughts to learn about it. As acting head mistress of the Xavier Institute, I have access to all the special case files the good Professor had taken personal interest in, which also includes, yours. And just like Charles, I have addressed and kept these 'sensitive issues' confidential."
Rogue lightly clears her throat out of slight embarrassment as she calms listening to Emma continue on, "Now, how may help you."
Keeping her pride intact, Rogue slightly grins and adds, "Well, no offense, Emma, Ah'm just not ready to talk about my problems with just anybody, accept for the Professor and Mr. McCoy. You can actually help me with another issue, though."
Taking a more softer posture, Emma replies, "Go on."
"Well," Rogue adds, "a few keep sakes of mine, Ah was told you put into secure storage? Ah'd like them back."
Emma pauses for a moment then answers in a light tone, "Yes indeed. Some rather unique 'keep sakes' if I may add."
Shrugging her shoulders, Rogue nods in acknowledgement with a slight grin as Emma continues. "I hope you don't mind. I just felt it safer to have those particular items secured. Let's face it, Rogue, despite their domestic nature, those items will be 'state of the art' for at least a hundred years. So I had Forge build a vault in the sub levels to keep them safe. It is beneath the command center. The vault is code key activated, type in the name, and you will have access."
Rogue grins slightly, then turns to leave the room. As she exits, Emma remarks, "Welcome home, Rogue."
Glancing back, Rogue smile and replies, "Thank you, Emma." Then quickly leaves.
Emma smiles watching Rogue nearly dart out of the room. But as Rogue leaves, Emma's smile softens, then turns to a cold like sadness.
Quickening her pace, Rogue rushes through the halls, practically ignoring the bustling crowd of young students moving about. An assortment of unfamiliar faces now fill the plush halls of the Xavier Institute. Faces that she begins to notice, stare at her with curious, yet innocent wonderment. Rogue pauses to look back only to catch their stares before they quickly turn away out of embarrassment. With a slight sarcastic sigh, Rogue raises her eyebrows and continues her way toward the access elevator, trying to ignore the other double takes to notices from other young students as she passes them by. Upon reaching the access elevator, Rogue quickly steps in and presses the command level button on the console. A sense of relief passes over her as the elevator doors slide shut, silencing the bustling sounds of the now busy school. A slight hum and the sensation of the descending elevator indicates she is now leaving an educational atmosphere for an area where logic, life and death work side by side. Rogue know the halls and chambers beneath the institute very well. She found herself growing up quite fast in those halls. At times, she believes too fast. Her mind wanders to the sound of the elevator as it continues to descend. Rogue lets memories of a rebellious young teenager fill her mind. An angry young teen, secluding herself from the world, later allowing hope and trust enter her life. But just as she begins to allow the mixture of emotional memories flood her mind, the elevator doors slide open interrupting the comforting silence with the blaring sounds a repetitive alarm. The sudden wake up call almost stuns her with wide fearful eyes. The alarm however, is one Rogue knows well, and reacts accordingly, darting out of the elevator in a full run. She takes several turns through the familiar brushed chromed halls. Just ahead of her, a door slides open off to her right. Another person darts out into the hall with almost running into her. Rogue shuffles over continuing her run and immediately recognizes the person. "Bobby!" she remarks, "What's goin on?! Who's hurt?"
The young man glance back at her in mid run with concerned and now surprised expression as he replies, "Whoa! Hey… uh Rogue… didn't know you were back."
"Yeah, Ah'm back," Rogue adds, "now what the hell is goin' on?!"
Catching his breath in mid run, Bobby replies with confusion, "Not sure. I was on monitoring duty, and Wolverine radios in a distress from the jet."
Rogue's expression grows from concern to confusion, "The jet? Was he on a mission or something?"
"Well," Bobby answers, "something like that."
With her expression growing even more baffled, Rogue follows Bobby through a series of reinforced security doors opening up to an underground hanger bay. Upon entering the bulkhead reinforced chamber, they are met with the loud turbine sounds of a taxiing advanced shiny black aircraft. The two wait anxiously as the sleek craft comes to a soft halt. A sudden pressure release and the plane's belly ramp slowly swings down and locks in place. Muffled voices are heard then become clear as small group make their way down the ramp. A stern scruffy voice speaks out, "This is the last time kid."
A young, yet stern female voice replies back, "I got the job done. And stop calling me kid."
Rogue approaches the first of the group to descend the ramp and asks out, "Logan, what's the emergency? Who's hurt?"
Dressed in a somewhat sleek black uniform with sharp yellow accents, the brawny dark haired man gestures behind him. Walking down the ramp past them, a slender young brunette girl dressed in a similar uniform, sneers quietly at Logan as she passes by. Rogue follows with her eyes, watching as the girls exit's the hanger bay in anger. But just as Rogue is about to speak up, another voice speaks up, "Everything is alright, Rogue."
Lumbering down the ramp, a beastly man covered head to toe in blue fur supports another young man nursing a left leg wound. With her eyes widening in concern, Rogue speaks out, "Mr. McCoy, Scott, are ya'll ok?"
The injured younger man replies calmly, "Relax, Rogue. It looks a lot worse than it feels."
"Actually Rogue," the larger blue furred man adds, "that would the morphine talking. Scott's wound is a lot worse than he perceives." as he adjusts his posture supporting his injured friend.
Shuffling over towards Bobby, the large man leans Scott on his young shoulders saying, "If you would, Bobby, please take Mr. Summers here to the infirmary, while I scout out the current student roster for a resident healer."
With a concerned look of his own, Bobby grunts as he begins to support Scott's weight, "Ok, sure."
Rogue watches Bobby hobble with Scott leaning on his right shoulder leaving the hanger bay followed closely by McCoy's lumbering presence. Shaking her head in light frustration, she turns back to Logan and inquires again, "What happened Logan? Scott looks like he was shot in the leg."
"In manner speaking." Logan replies and adds, "It was the Marauder, Harpoon. We got reckless, he got lucky."
"The Marauders?" Rogue remarks, "Ah thought we were done with them a year ago."
"I guess not." Logan says shrugging his shoulders and adds, "He and Vertigo were waitin' for us, took us by surprise."
With her expression still in somewhat shock, Rogue continues to inquire, "And what about X-23, she looked more pissed than usual."
Sighing, Logan responds, "Oh, her. She jumped the gun, Cyclops tried to cover her and he took the hit."
Rogue falls silent, unsure what else to ask. Logan stares at her curiously with a smirk and asks, "So, what're you doin' back, Rogue? A couple of us were sure you called it quits."
Returning his smirk, Rogue replies, "Ah didn't quit, Logan. Ah just… needed some time away. You know, from all the craziness."
Logan nods silently and follows Rogue out of the hanger bay. Walking back towards the command section of the underground complex, their nerves seem to calm. Logan takes a breath and glances around, "So, is Remy back also? He caught up with you on your road trip didn't he?"
Noticing Rogue's expression turn to frustration once more, Logan continues to inquire, "Did I say something wrong, Rogue?"
Clearing her throat, then taking a quick breath, Rogue lightens her mood and answers, "No, nothing wrong. Um… he did catch up."
Walking with her through the hall, Logan asks, "And?"
Rogue stares ahead while walking, "And," she replies, "Ah'd rather not talk about it right now."
Logan notices a slight embarrassment Rogue is trying to hide and decides to back off. "Fair enough." he remarks.
"So where're you headin' now?" he asks her.
Seeming relieved of the subject change, Rogue answers lightly, "Ah'm reclaimin' my, uh… stuff. Emma told me about the vault ya'll built to store my 'special' belongings."
As he continues to follow her down the hall, Logan nods and chuckles, "Oh yeah, that stuff. It was a 'no brainer' of why we locked those away, I hope you know."
Expressing a slight grin to his remark, Rogue replies, "Yup, Ah know."
The two make their way around the command level to a access door at the end of the hall. Logan proceeds Rogue and opens the door revealing a stairwell that seems to slightly turn and spiral underneath the command level. Rogue steps cautiously with Logan following close behind down the wide descending hall. The steps level off at the bottom and end at an elaborate security door. Rogue's expression widens with surprise at the level of the security measures. "So, Forge built this thing?" she asks.
"Yup." Logan replies, "Hank programmed it."
Rogue stares up and down at the door, noticing a vault like piston crank at center and a detailed keypad just off to the right. She recalls what Emma had told her and whispers the words to herself, "Type in the name, and you will have access."
She reaches up with her right hand and begins to type the letters N.
Pressing the enter key to confirm the code, Rogue steps back as the keypad blips to life. A gentle electronic voice speaks out, "Access confirmed." just as the piston crank at the center suddenly spins counter clockwise. One after another, clanking hydraulic sounds vibrate down the door releasing their hold allowing it the gently open inward. Sighing out, Rogue glances back at Logan and chuckles, "Bit of an overkill don't ya think?"
Logan just chuckles as well and smiles in silence following her into the widening chamber. The room seems as wide as a regular bedroom, accept for the fact that it is lined wall to wall with seamless metal tiles. Placed randomly throughout the room are sealed moving boxes and object that seems to be covers with a opaque cloth draping in the far corner. Upon stepping into the room motion sensing lights illuminate around them. Without saying a word, Rogue begins to open random boxes. Logan notices her mood become determined as he watches her open box after box. Rogue pulls out one denim colored button up casual shirt. She grins and as she holds it to her face sniffing it deeply. Logan gets curious and speaks up, "Um, Rogue?"
Glancing back at him, Rogue quickly replies, "Hmm? Oh, it's uh… it's a comfortable shirt."
"I bet," Logan returns, "from what I'm told, it's made of special synthetic polymers rendering it almost stain proof. That pretty much goes for most of the other clothes in that box."
Rogue smiles and looks around the room saying, "Even after all this time, Ah can't get over how cool the stuff is."
Logan walks over the draped covered item in the corner of the room and grins remarking, "I'll admit, I was very tempted to take this baby out for spin."
Rogue steps up and pulls the draping off revealing a sleek aerodynamic motorcycle underneath. Her smile widens as she playfully mentions, "Yeah, well too bad it's only calibrated to fit me."
Passing her hand over the elaborate handlebars, Rogue activates the bike's seemingly holographic dash board. Digital readouts hover ghost like as Rogue looks it over and says, "Kinda neat how a vehicle can fit like a good pair of pants."
Logan smiles and nods in agreement. Rogue turns her attention back at him and inquires once more, "So, Logan, tell me, what were you guys doin' when Scott got hurt. Ah mean, it was kinda weird mix for a team during a mission. You, Scott, Mr. McCoy, and X-23?"
Returning her attention, Logan answers, "True, it was last second. But it was necessary. Hank has been tracking recent disappearances in the last few weeks. None of them seemed really significant at the time, just missing persons cases. But then he noticed a pattern dealing missing mutants. We were checkin' out the last disappearance when we were jumped. And you know the rest."
Rogue raises her eyebrows in acknowledgement as she continues to rummage through the boxes and asks, "So ya think the Marauders are involved?"
Shrugging his broad shoulders, Logan mutters out, "Can't be no coincidence."
Just then, Logan sees Rogue's mood change from content to concern and worry. She begins to sift through the boxes as though confused. Her mood turns lightly frantic opening each box. Logan steps up and asks, "Everything ok, Rogue?"
With an expression of uncertainty, Rogue picks herself up and looks around at the gathering of opened boxes. Logan asks again, "Rogue, what's up?"
In calm manner, she replies, "Something is missing."
Logan looks around and remarks, "Everything is here. Everything we knew that was unique. Why, what's missing?"
Rogue brushes back her hair while looking around and answers, "The computer. You know, that holographic computer laptop thing."
A confused expression washes over Logan's face as he adds, "That it?"
"Well," Rogue speaks up, "some large sketch pads. And um… one ring."
"A ring?" Logan asks.
In an almost disappointed manner, Rogue returns, "A special ring, made from a piece of the sun, or something."
Logan's expression becomes more curious as he nods lightly while looking around. Rogue steps away from the boxes dusting off her hands. She lets her eyes drift over the boxes, trying to think if she had missed something in her search. Looking back at Logan with a calm demeanor, she asks, "Who was the last person to access this room?"
Taking breath, Logan thinks for moment, then replies casually, "Besides you today, that'd be Forge. He was the person who sealed it shut. Or so I was told."
Rogue falls silent as Logan speaks up, "Hey come on, you don't seriously think Forge would take that stuff, do ya?"
"Only one way to find out, Logan." Rogue returns calmly and adds, "Let me ask him."
Taking a couple steps back while scratching his head, Logan sighs out, "There might be a slight problem with that, Rogue."
His comment catches her off guard as she replies, "What."
Shaking his head, Logan says, "That's where we were, at Forge's family house. He has a lab in the basement. That's where Scott got hit in the leg when were ambushed."
Rogues expression becomes baffled, "And Forge?" she asks.
Sighing out with a concerned look, Logan replies, "He's one of the missing mutants."
Sorry it took so long for me to get back to this.
Rest assured, it will not happen again… now that I'm re-energized!
Hope you enjoy the ride!
Note: For those new to this story, or for recap, please feel free to read the last few chapters of "The New Art Teacher".
It helped me…