Disclaimer: The X-Men belong to Marvel and I am not making money from this page.
Sequence: This is the sequel to "Observations of Oddity." The next and final installment of the"Misguided" trilogy is "Injury Immunities."
A/N: As always, Hank has John Cassaday's design. See the Wikipedia entry on Beast for a picture.
Not beta'd, so any mistakes are my own.
Considering that it was early November, the weather was exceedingly pleasant. The sun shone in the clear blue sky; the only hint of the fall season was the brisk temperature and slight breeze.
It was the type of day people hoped and prayed for when they made plans to roller-skate in the park, go sightseeing, or have a picnic. The kind of weather people wanted when they arranged an outdoor family reunion.
In other words, not the day you'd want to spend in detention, thought Hank. But of course, if you're in detention, you don't have much of a choice in the matter.
And it was through injudicious choices that Rogue had managed to earn herself a Saturday detention.
The reputation Rogue held at the Institute would suggest that she would greet the idea of detention with at least some dissatisfaction. Generally a figure regarded with a mixture of fear, awe and suspicion whose delinquent behaviors were condoned by his fellow teachers, Hank was mildly surprised that Rogue hadn't even attempted to protest his decision to take disciplinary action where she was concerned. In fact, she was presently serving her detention accordingly, working hard to prepare Ororo's garden for next spring.
Sore muscles were a guarantee with gardening, due to the methodical digging necessary to plant the bulbs and the kneeling in the earth. Rogue seemed to realize this, and in order to avoid discomfort, had apparently decided to dig every hole first. Then she would return to the first hole and drop a bulb into the earth, and then push the dirt over it all, burying the bulb.
When one o'clock struck, Hank decided that six hours of gardening would suffice as Rogue's motivation to regret her misdeeds to the point that she would never repeat her actions, and strolled outside to find that the detentionee had made considerable progress. She had lined not only the front and rear gardens of the mansion with bulbs, but both sides of driveway as well, as she had been instructed. At the moment, she was starting to dig along the walkway.
Hank watched her for a few minutes, noting that for once she was wearing clothes atypical to a normal teenager instead of an ensemble that constituted of a cross between a female motorcyclist and the bride of Dracula.
Rogue paused in the midst of her gardening regimen, obviously sensing his presence. Silence reigned; he was politely waiting for her to speak first and she seemed intent on remaining silent. Finally, she spoke after the silence began to become awkward.
"If you're going to say something, Dr. McCoy, you might as well say it now. I'm not going to wait all day for you to talk." Her words were cold and precise and her tone was clipped. Together, they almost, but not quite hid the slight southern accent present in her voice.
Despite Rogue's attitude, Hank couldn't stop himself from smiling in amusement. The girl was almost certainly a delinquent, but at least she wasn't lacking in self-confidence like so many teens her age.
"When you finish the walkway, you're done with your detention," Hank informed her, unable to completely keep the mirth from his voice.
A perfectly shaped eyebrow arched and a smirk emphasized her full lips. "You know Dr. McCoy, I have to say that I feel you missed your mark with this detention . . . arrangement. I thought that the entire point was to punish me."
"That was the point," Hank said, not liking where this was going at all.
Rogue's eyes shifted from side to side, as if she was searching for someone to explain to her what exactly Hank was talking about, like she suspected he wasn't being serious and was playing some sort of joke on her. The hairstyle she sported today consisted of her hair pulled back with wisps of her white bangs framing her face. In addition to complimenting her cheekbones, the style also served to make her expression appear even more sarcastic than usual.
Almost seeming to weigh her options, Rogue spoke. "If that's the case, then I'm afraid it wasn't very effective. It would have been more of a punishment if I had to go to Jean's soccer game with Scott and the rest of the X-Teens." The last word dripped with an acidic amount of sarcasm.
So came Hank's turn to raise an eyebrow. "You really don't like her, do you?"
"Jean?" Rogue mirrored his Mr. Spock impression. "Is there any reason why I should?"
For a moment, Hank was at a loss for words, but he recovered with little floundering and narrowed his eyes at the teenager before him. "Is there a reason why you do not?"
"Excellent," Rogue said, rolling her eyes with skill worthy of an Emmy award. "This is the part where I get to share my "feelings" with you, isn't it?" She put finger quotes around the word "feelings" and her lips twisted with sarcasm. "You're reaching out to the goth kid because it's the right thing to do. How nice." She shook her head and returned to systematically digging holes in the earth.
Strongly tempted to roll his eyes himself, Hank knew he had to try to resolve the conflict, no matter how petty it might be. "With the consideration that you and Jean are teammates who must depend on each other in life or death situations, I feel that it would be worthwhile to resolve whatever issue that is between the two of you."
"I have an ongoing issue with Jean," Rogue said flatly.
"Which is?" Hank inquired, wondering what minimal offense Jean had committed to earn Rogue's ire.
"Other than her abysmal taste in men, I dislike like Jean for her flaws," Rogue stated grimly.
"Such as?" Hank promptly, starting to grow weary of this conversation.
"None in particular," Rogue responded. "I just find it disappointing that she has flaws."
Several moments passed as Hank registered what exactly Rogue had said. Another few minutes went as Hank decided to how to go about phrasing his next question. "So your entire motivation for your dislike Jean is because she has flaws just like anyone else?"
"It's more than that," Rogue's eyes met his, and he noticed, not for the first time, the hardness of her cold, green gaze.
Rogue exhaled, as if at a loss to continue, but Hank was no fool; he knew she was just posturing in hopes to delay this conversation. There was absolutely no reason for her to suddenly instigate a heart-to-heart conversation with him. Obviously, this was a smokescreen for something else. Despite her youth, Rogue was no novice when it came to manipulation.
"Look at Jean, Dr. McCoy. She's on several athletic teams, she's a cheerleader. She can charm her way into getting whatever she wants. And I'm not afraid to say it. She's beautiful." Rogue shrugged her shoulders. "Or, at least, she's proclaimed to be by everyone around her. But seriously, all that, and she still has flaws. If Jean has that much talent, if she's that pretty, then she should be perfect. Otherwise, everything about her is just worthless. All or nothing. That's the way it has to be."
After a few seconds musing about what Rogue had said, Hank finally replied. "That's rather illogical, Rogue. Humans are flawed creatures by nature; that is unalterable and inevitable. Is there some other reason why you can't accept Jean for her flaws?"
Holding up a hand as if to placate him, Rogue shook her head. "It's like this, Dr. McCoy. Push past your willing suspension of disbelief and pretend that a pop star is amazingly talented. So you deicide to go hear it sing live at a concert after listening to it warble on the radio for six months. But then when the pop star begins to sing at the concert, it's horrible. It has absolutely no talent. When the realization hits, you feel as if you've been lied to, probably because you have. It's like that for me and Jean."
"Really," Hank said, genius intellect failing him at Rogue's sudden revelation.
"Yeah," Rogue said, seeming bored now.
The pieces of the puzzle in Hank's mind clicked together. "That's why you degrade her at every given opportunity."
Rogue studied her fingernails, painted with dark purple polish; obviously, she was not concerned with wearing gloves during her detention and willing to task the risk of accidently felling another student. "If I can't make Jean perfect, Dr. McCoy, the least I can do is make her a martyr."
"Forgive me for asking, but what for possible reason do you believe that Jean has to be perfect?" Hank asked in disbelief.
Rogue gave him a vulpine smile. "Jean can't pretend to be perfect when she isn't, Dr. McCoy. That's lying. So my constant jabs at her will either expose her as a fake or elevate her to sainthood, because she's tormented by vicious, nasty Rogue."
"So you want this behavior to add to the reputation you've already created for yourself," Hank speculated.
The smile morphed into a full-fledged smirk, as if she found what he had said amusing in some way. "I'm not the one who pretends to be perfect, Dr. McCoy. I have no reason to do so."
She returned to her digging, steadily ignoring him as she shoveled earth from the ground. Hank perceived this as his dismissal, and since he was at a loss for words, decided that the most favorable action was merely to let her be.
While walking away from her as she continued with her work, Hank couldn't help but wonder about Rogue's motive for telling him this.
Huh. Rogue came across as slightly weird/insane in this story and that was never my intention. To be honest, I think she's jealous that Jean has it so much better than her.
Oh well. Con crit is always appreciated.