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A/N: This is the first installment of the "Misguided" trilogy, three interconnecting oneshots featuring Hank and Rogue. The next installment is "Detention Disclosures", which is followed by the last installment, "Injury Immunities."
I see Hank (Beast) as illustrated by John Cassaday. See the Wikipedia article on Beast to see one of Cassaday's pictures, I think it's much better than the show's design.
Not beta'd, so any mistakes are my own.
Henry McCoy loved teaching. The idea that he was encouraging young minds to think for themselves and discover new interests never failed to inspire him. And that was why, after getting two PhD's, one in genetics and the other in biophysics, he returned to his own high school in the town of Bayville with the intention of teaching the next generation.
But there was a downside to teaching high school. Hank was working with a group of people feared and hated by the rest of American society.
To be honest, Hank didn't really mind teenagers. Yes, some were immoral and destructive, but most of them weren't half bad. The kids who were terrible people just came with the territory and the rest were bearable.
The teenagers of the Xavier Institute possessed a variety of personalities and interests. They had their quirks, Hank knew, but they weren't all that bad and definitely not as excruciatingly annoying as Logan claimed.
Of course, Hank knew the New Mutants best. Tabitha, unpredictable and wild, Sam, easygoing and casual, Jubilee, who devoted more time to fashion than to schoolwork and Robert, who had a sharp wit and a wicked sense of humor. Ray, clever and resourceful, Amara, who had never left Nova Roma before coming to the Institute but was determined to her competence in the world, Roberto, somewhat arrogant but ultimately kind-hearted, and Jamie, the youngest but the most eager to prove himself.
Hank was their field supervisor, after all; it was only rational that he would be closer to them than the rest of the students. But that didn't stop him from getting to know Logan's protégées.
Out of all of them, Scott was the most likeable, in Hank's opinion. It wasn't just that he was responsible and charismatic, but because he watched out for his teammates and was always willing to help them. Obviously a born leader, Scott managed to skillfully control the team without appearing like tyrant, shown through his genuine care for others.
With his bleached hair and bad habit of cutting class so he could skateboard and subsequently irritate drivers, Evan Daniels was decidedly not the ideal student. Attitude and misplaced priorities aside, Evan proved to be hardworking when he actually attempted to make an effort and accepting of other people for their flaws and shortcomings, a rare trait in modern teenagers.
Jean Grey shared the position with Scott as leader of the X-Men, and was definitely a good choice for the position. Beautiful, charming and talented, she was the model, wholesome image of a modern teenager that movies and television programs incessantly attempted to promote. Hank still retained some mild reservations about the girl, perhaps because she retained some upper middle class snobbery. Her condescending attitude was sometimes unconsciously exhibited by her words and actions, but otherwise she was always friendly.
"Friendly" was also a word that would describe Kurt Wagner. A sophomore in high school and one of Bobby's favorite cohorts to conspire plans and execute pranks, Kurt was playful, but also managed to be firmly grounded in reality. Hank was sometimes surprised that a teenager in his situation remained so optimistic. Whenever that thought crossed his mind, he was uncomfortably reminded of his own teenage years, and how he had desperately hid the effects of his mutation.
Kurt's unrequited crush, Hank suspected, was none than teenybopper Kitty Pryde. Definitely book-smart, but she lacked common sense, a regrettable asset when training to be a member of a combat team. Besides that flaw and her "valley girl" manner of speaking, Kitty was a fun and cheerful honor student, peppy and upbeat without appearing outright obnoxious. In fact, had their life been a work of literature, her direct foil would have been Rogue, her roommate and apparently also her closest friend.
Hank said "foil", because Rogue and Kitty were two very different people. In contrast to Kitty's trendy, pastel clothing and buoyancy, Rogue preferred to maintain sullen silence while sporting clothes that looked more appropriate for the set of the Rocky Horror Picture Show than daily wear, especially to school.
In terms of personality, it was difficult for Hank to describe Rogue, other than that she didn't support his "Teenagers are actually good people" rebuttal.
She hadn't been one of his chemistry students like Kitty, instead assigned to another class with a different teacher; although both girls were freshmen, both were advanced students, especially in the areas of math and science, and due to their accelerated learning they took such courses with upperclassmen rather than students in their own grade.
Rogue hadn't been assigned to a physical education class at all, and during his stint as a teacher at Bayville High, Hank had wondered why that was.
Of course, after accepting the teaching position at the Xavier Institute he had found his answer. Xavier had shared the students' profiles with him and glance through Rogue's file revealed that her mutation was exceedingly unique, allowing her to steal a person's memories, thoughts, abilities and powers- that is, if they possessed such- with just a single touch of the finger. It wouldn't be so terrible if she could actually control her mutation.
But she couldn't.
Similar to him, in a way.
One would think that Rogue's personality would be difficult to describe because her mutation allowed the personality of every person she had touched to take up residency with her mind. Because the personalities continuously switched, causing what appeared to be bipolar mood swings and random changes in habits and interests.
That was what one would think, but they wouldn't be correct.
The reason Hank didn't know what to think of Rogue was because he spent so little time with her. He didn't know her at all; there was no opportunity for the two of them to talk. Hank barely even saw Rogue throughout the course of the day.
Consequently, he had few conclusions and little evidence to utilize when judging her character, beyond her preferred style of dress (A goth version of any female backup dancer from any MTV music video) and the discussion of the New Mutants, (The boys thought she was hot and the girls thought she was a skilled combatant. All of them readily agreed that Rogue was, as delicately phrased Bobby Drake, "A cold-hearted, scary bitch.")
Clues about Rogue's personality might be gained if Hank ever really saw her interact with the other students. Most of the information he heard about her was second hand; he had no way of knowing what was fact, opinion or exaggerated to extreme proportions.
The select few Hank had ever witnessed her talking to were Kitty Pryde, who with Rogue seemed to posses some sort of love-hate relationship, Scott, who with she had once engaged in an active philosophical discussion, and Logan, who had complimented Rogue on her combat skills and Rogue responded with a simple, "Thanks."
Not very much to go on.
Of course, there was the way she spoke, her tone either sarcastic, or both at the same time, which, Hank had been informed by Bobby, "was like being verbally assaulted by a nuclear winter" at the worst of times.
And then there were her facial expressions. Most often Rogue offered others a cold smirk instead of a smile, or retained a detached expression that suggested she possessed a cavalier attitude about the topic at hand. Occasionally Rogue's face was simply unreadable, but if it was not any of those, she scowled. Hank presumed it was either in skepticism or dissatisfaction, or perhaps because she simply didn't enjoy the present company.
Rogue had attitude; that much was assured. Perhaps it was just to spite the residents of the Institute, to show them all how little she cared about their opinion of her, but Rogue rarely showed up at meals. If this was to display to everyone just how large the chip in her shoulder actually was, it was working. An increasingly irritated expression settled upon Scott's face every time he saw her empty chair, and his scowl refused to relent even when Logan informed him that he should relax.
Optioning to skip breakfast was an action Hank could understand. Infamously not a morning person, it would make sense that Rogue left before she actually might have to deal with the utterly unspeakable horror of conversing with a housemate when she was not in the best mood.
What Hank didn't understand in the slightest was her decision to rarely join them for meals at all. She was present at dinner in the dining hall twice, maybe thrice a week.
According to Ray, Rogue always switched chores with him or someone else so she was never assigned the task of meal preparation, most often trading kitchen duty for some sort of outdoor work. With that consideration, it was entirely plausible that she simply did not believe in eating regularly scheduled meals.
Frankly, Hank doubted that she was receiving the proper amount of nutrition necessary for a growing teenager and judging from Rogue's unnaturally pale skin and thin body, he was correct in that assumption.
And yet, she still somehow managed to summon enough energy and willpower to complete Logan's Danger Room exercises and enter and exit the Institute primarily through the windows on various floors; for some reason, Rogue just couldn't bring herself to use a door like any other normal person.
Hank wondered if this indicated a possible history of crime and was reminded of what Logan had told him when he had inquired about the nature of Rogue's habits.
"I thought that Chuck might've gotten in over his head when he offered her a place on the team, but she really isn't that bad. But that doesn't change the fact that Mystique had her claws in her for awhile, so that means Rogue is basically a delinquent," Logan had said, shrugging off Hank's concerns over the girl.
"Delinquent." It wasn't a happy word; it denoted that the person in question had broken the law with full knowledge of what they were doing.
Thinking about it, "delinquent" didn't truly describe Rogue. Hank would choose another word. Maybe "troubled?" "Disaffected," perhaps? "Misguided?"
Yes. That was it. Rogue was most certainly misguided. All she needed was someone to inform her of the boundaries and perhaps give her some positive reinforcement. Ororo was a strong role model for any girl; Hank considered the option of asking his friend to step in and show Rogue some guidance.
Hank continued with the development of this idea until about a week later, when he was finishing cleaning up in the medical bay after a particularly nasty motorcross collision between Bobby, Sam and the shrubbery. An odd, scraping noise interrupted him in the midst of sterilizing the medical equipment whilst thanking his lucky stars that no one had been seriously injured.
Aware that this could be a burglary in progress, Hank immediately determined the source of noise and walked into the corridor outside just in time to witness the window be shoved upward and Rogue elegantly vault inside with the graceful skill of an expert.
Dressed in her normal style of "biker babe meets vampire" (Copyright © Jubilation Lee), Rogue emerged from the shadows of the night wearing an outfit that to Hank's discomfort, managed to cover all of her skin while still showcasing her curves. With one hand casually reposing on the strap of the black backpack slung over a single shoulder, Rogue appeared supremely unconcerned that a teacher had just caught her after midnight, well beyond the eleven o'clock weekend curfew. She only glanced at him before pushing the window shut with one hand and proceeded to pass by him as she sauntered down the corridor.
"Rogue," Hank called when he managed to recover from his surprise.
Pausing in her sashay across the mansion, Rogue turned the full one-eighty degrees to look at him.
"It's after curfew," Hank said, inwardly wincing at his statement of the obvious.
A self-satisfied smirk twisted her lips upward, and Rogue raised an eyebrow in a deliberate "what-the-hell-are-you-going-to-do-about-it?" look, clearly challenging him.
"And that is why you will meet me at seven o'clock tomorrow morning and spend your Saturday working in Ms. Munroe's garden," Hank continued. "You also may start several new rows of flowers beside the drive and walkway."
The smirk instantly disappeared, vanishing from her face so rapidly that it was almost comical, replaced by anger and outrage. A scowl superseded her previously confident expression, but Hank was surprised when she merely returned to strolling down the hallway; he had expected her to initiate some argument.
Sighing, Hank watched her go.
Perhaps helping Rogue was going to take a tad more than showing her "some guidance."