A/N: okay, a new story. I was just sitting up in bed, drugged up to the nines, watching Midnight Express with my brother and my lovely nurse friend Richard (who has great taste in scrubs, let me tell you. Very fashionable altogether) when I was raped by a plot bunny. I'm still unsure as to whether it was an epiphany or a highly traumatic experience. Either way, this is the result. I hope you enjoy it.
Disclaimer: Obviously, I don't own X-Men. If I did, there would be a least a dozen Irish mutants. As it stands, there are none. Which, I find, is extremely distressing. I think no comic is complete without an Irish outpost. Also, seeing as one eighth of the world claims to be 'Irish' – yes, I am talking to you, Mister 'My Great-Great-Great-Grandma's Brother's Sister's Cousin's Mother-in-law's best friend was from Galway! I'm, like, totally Irish. Top o' the morning to yeh'. You know who you are.
Okay, moving on before someone gets sued. Probably me.
Rating: will stay a T, I guess, unless I decide otherwise. In that case, it could be anything. I haven't decided yet
Pairing: it's a progressive Pyro/Rogue featuring his Royal Remyness and, perhaps, someone else
Thank you to WandaW who, once again, Beta'd this story. She has the patience of a saint, that lady. Either that, or she's completely mental
Our lives are made of glass and there is nothing we can do to protect ourselves.
Joyce Carol Oates
Rogue once read in a book that it only took nineteen minutes for your life to change completely. Only one thousand, one hundred and fourteen seconds for everything you ever knew to be irrevocably turned upside down and inside out. In essence, she agreed with the author. Over the course of the next nineteen minutes she could contract tropical malaria, or become a paraplegic, or get disintegrated by a nuclear bomb. They were all life-changing things, weren't they? Over the course of the next nineteen minutes she could win the lottery, or become a nun or be abducted by aliens. At a stretch, she could change her clothes, her hair and her nail polish in nineteen minutes. No one ever said the change had to be a big one. But, then again, in nineteen minutes she might just lose again at Wii tennis or have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or pretend she didn't see Bobby and Kitty falling all over each as they played Piotr and Jubilee at foosball. When it all boiled down it, Rogue thought the author was wrong. Because it didn't take a nineteen whole minutes for life as you knew it to dissolve into nothingness. It only took one.
"Turn on the news, Jones," Kitty called across the rec room. Rogue watched as Jubilee craftily took advantage of her opponent's momentary lack of concentration to slot home a goal. She and Piotr high-fived while Bobby frowned, torn between wanting win the game fair and square and wanting to watch the news. Or did he just want to please Kitty? Rogue didn't know anymore, and, quite frankly, she didn't care.
"Do I have to?" Jones complained, aimlessly flicking through channels.
"Yes," Bobby told him firmly. "It's important we know what's going on. Especially with the Brotherhood out there going mental and attacking people and stuff."
Jubilee and Piotr scored another two goals while Kitty nodded in agreement with her partner. "Especially." Partner? Boyfriend? Idol, maybe, was a more appropriate word judging by the adoring looks Kitty sent Bobby. It was lucky she only did when his back was turned, Rogue thought, because if someone looked at her like that she was positive she would puke all over them. She cringed a little, feeling guilty. Kitty had been nothing but nice to her ever since she arrived at the mansion and she considered her a good friend; she didn't deserve such nasty thoughts. Bobby, on the other hand … Rogue had seen him. Sure, that night at the fountain Kitty had kissed him first, but he had kissed her back. And that wasn't the only time. His only saving grace was that he kept his conquests on the QT and refrained from playing tonsil hockey with Kitty across the breakfast table. And the funny thing was that Rogue was certain she would have forgiven him if he had been open with her about it, if he had just told her upfront that he liked Kitty and that he was sorry and that they should just be friends and blah blah blah. But he didn't. He chose to hide it from her. Rogue didn't understand it and she didn't like it.
With much muttered dissent Jones finally brought the TV back to CNN and slouched from the room with a parting gift of "Lame-os. What kind of sad freak watches the news?"
"Thanks Jones," Kitty called after him, abandoning the foosball and edging across the room to stand by the couch. Like a little lovesick puppy, Bobby followed her. Rogue rolled her eyes. As they said, it took two to tango.
" …another terrorist attack by the Brotherhood of Mutants," announced the newsreader in serious voice. Jubilee gasped and danced over to join Kitty, Piotr at her heels, his arms folded and his expression grave. He shot a meaningful look at Bobby and they both nodded. Rogue stayed put. The X-Men had congregated around the couch – but she was not an X-Man. One month ago she had given up her powers and, no matter what the whisperers said, she was enjoying every minute of her new-found freedom.
" …attack on a research facility in north-west Texas. So far we have confirmation on fifteen fatalities …"
"This is ridiculous," snapped Kitty angrily. "I mean, they're, like, giving all Mutants a bad name. It's so totally unfair. I know Magneto isn't there anymore but if they stopped and thought about it for, like, two secs, they'd see it's really bad idea."
"At least the government knows it's only few radicals doing it and not all of us," Bobby reasoned.
Piotr wasn't so optimistic. "I think if things keep going the vay they are it won't matter who's doing vhat," he said, his deep, calm voice tinted with a faded Russian accent. "The government'll have no choice but to act. They'll have to do something or there'll be riots. People are scared. The Brotherhood aren't targeting shops or subvay stations. They're targeting research centres … And homes. People … It's really veird. Erratic." He scratched his head and finished ominously, "It's almost like they're looking for something. Or someone."
"Yes," agreed Kitty. Then she turned to Rogue. "What do you think, Rogue?"
Rogue started, surprised at being asked her opinion. She shrugged. "Ah think ya'll should try and sort out the Brotherhood problem before the government feels they need tah."
"That's really smart, Rogue," Kitty said. Rogue scowled at her tone of surprise. The Cure suppressed her mutation, not her IQ. Unfazed, Kitty beamed up at Bobby. "Think about it, Bobby. If the X-Men can stop the Brotherhood attacking people, people will see that not all Mutants are bad guys."
"And the government won't have to do anything, which will save money," Bobby added.
"And you can be guaranteed that vhat ever ve do vill be ten times better than vhat the government vill do," Piotr finished wisely.
"We should tell Storm!" Kitty exclaimed jubilantly.
Rogue sighed inwardly. For someone who could recite all ninety-nine elements in chronological order without pausing to think, Kitty could sure be stupid. She was book-smart, computer-smart, people-smart, saving-the-world-smart, Jubilee-smart, and even boy-smart, but she wasn't smart-smart. She had no common sense. How on earth could she not think that Storm and Logan just might have had the same discussion when the first attack happened? And did she really think that if there was anything that could be done to stop the series of seemingly random attacks that Storm and Logan would not have done everything in their power to do so? Rogue got to her feet. It was almost ten o'clock. She would go back to her room, have a shower, wash her hair and finish her history essay, leaving the Three Musketeers (plus Jubilee, who was too young to be an X-Man) to unravel the fabrics of the universe.
"Where you going?" Bobby asked as she walked by him.
"Mah room," Rogue answered pleasantly. "Ah wasn't aware Ah needed ya're permission."
Bobby frowned disapprovingly. He gestures at the TV, still spewing live footage of teams of people – everyone from the head honchos at Homeland Security to the local news team – all milling around the decimated buildings like flies to a rotting corpse. As with all of the recent Brotherhood attacks, there was no evidence of fire. Just destruction. "Don't you want to watch the news?"
"Nah," Rogue said lightly, shaking her head and shrugging. "Not really."
"Why?" Rogue countered blandly. "Why bother? It's only gonna be the exact same as yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. More attacks, more anti-Mutant protests, more war and famine and death, more bad news. Ah don't need to see it on the TV tah know it's happenin'."
"It's not the same," Kitty protested. "Last time the attack was in some backwoods town in North Dakota. Today it happened in Texas."
Rogue resisted the urge to slap herself on the forehead in pure exasperation. "Who cares where they are? That ain't the point. The point is people don't like Mutants. They never did and they never will. And because of that, the Brotherhood are gonna keep bein' terrorists and, so long as they do that, Ah'm gonna hafta watch it on the news. And Ah'm sick of it." She folded her arms, point proven.
"Rogue has a point," Poitr said.
"She does?" Bobby asked, surprised.
"Yes. She's right. People's dislike for Mutants and the actions of the Brotherhood are connected in a vicious cycle," he explained.
"And we need to break that cycle," Jubilee finished excitedly.
"Ya don't say," Rogue mumbled sarcastically to herself.
"So what do we do?" Bobby wondered aloud.
We don't put you in charge, that's for sure, Rogue snickered mentally.
"Simple," Piotr said. "Ve need to stop the Brotherhood. If ve can do that people vill see that Mutants don't condone their behaviour, and that ve intend to abide by the law and are fully capable of policing our own vhen they step out of line." Rogue agreed with Piotr, but she could not help but to think that the X-Men had been constantly cleaning up the Brotherhood's messes for the past few years and, instead of things getting better for Mutants, they had gotten worse. The only thing that was saving them now was Dr. Hank McCoy's grace as a diplomat and Magneto's absence from the Brotherhood attacks. Rogue guessed the government assumed that without Magneto the Brotherhood would soon run out of steam and fade away. Little did the government know that when one 'assumes', they make an ass out of u and me.
"And how do we do that?"
"Ve find out their plan of attack and intercept it before it can be put into action … Duh."
Rogue grinned. Amen on that duh, my metal-plated amigo.
"But how do we find out their plans?" Kitty challenged. "They don't exactly post them on their MySpace account."
Jubilee raised her eyebrows. "The Brotherhood has a MySpace account? For real?" She sounded impressed.
"It's was a joke, Jubes."
"Well, yeah, maybe they should have one," Jubilee retorted defensively. "Obama had one and it worked for him."
"So you're suggesting Magneto run for president now?" Bobby teased.
"No," Jubilee said, blushing a little. "But if they had one we could pretend to be someone interested in joining and find out some of their plans and stuff. By, like, a spy. James Bond."
"That's, like, a really good idea!" Kitty gasped. "That's exactly what we need! Jubes, you're a genius!"
"I already have a MySpace account."
Kitty shook her head. "No, not the MySpace account. A spy! Someone who can infiltrate the Brotherhood and report back to us."
"But who vould go?" Piotr asked slowly. "None of us can because Pyro knows us all."
"He's not there," Rogue said quickly.
They all turned to look at her.
"How do you know that?" Bobby demanded.
"Because none of the attacks are connected to fire. If Pyro was there, Ah think ya'd be safe in bettin' that sumthin' would be burnin'."
Piotr was still doubtful. "That still leaves Magneto. He saw us all at Alcatraz. I don't think he's forgotten us."
"But Magneto's not there," Bobby pointed out. "So we'd be okay."
"Eh guys …" Her face stricken, Jubilee pointed a shaking figure the TV. "About Magneto …"
"Like, OMG!" Kitty cried out, clapping her hands to her mouth. "That's the Pentagon!"
Rogue stared at the TV, horror flooding through her like there was ice in her veins instead of blood. Sure enough, there was Magneto, Master of Magnetism, standing on a mountain of crushed cars while all around him panic reigned supreme. A strip of red at the bottom read breaking news and frantic reporter was panting into his microphone while simultaneously trying to avoid being crushed by UFOs.
" … Brotherhood terrorists attacking the Pentagon. Magneto is among them. He appears to have full use of his powers. This can only mean one thing. The Cure has failed …"
Back in the news studio the anchorman had a spokesperson from Worthington Labs on conference call. Rogue saw their mouths opening but she heard nothing. Echoing around her head were the words the Cure has failed … Cure has failed … Cure has failed … Cure … failed … failed …
Nineteen minutes for your life to change completely? Nineteen fucking seconds was all it took; all it took for your life to shatter into a billion irreconcilable pieces, just like glass.
Soooo … What do people think? I'm not quite sure if it was the Muse or the Medication talking when I wrote this. I would appreciate any and all feedback, as always.