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The views and opinions expressed in the story content do not correlate with the views and opinions of Artemis's Liege.
A/N: Let's pretend that in X-Men: Evolution, Hank McCoy was designed by John Cassaday. I don't think I even need to say it anymore.
Sequence: The final installment in the "Misguided" trilogy. This is set after "Detention Disclosures", which is in turn follows "Observations of an Oddity."
Warning: Minor profanity. Oh, the horror. Also, this has not been beta'd, so all mistakes are my own.
The bright, sunny weather that had started off the morning was quickly overcome by gray afternoon clouds, leaving the sky gloomy and overcast, much to the disappointment of the students of the Xavier Institute. Activities that had been planned were prorogued due to the rain that came and went, on and off, for hours.
"This sucks," whined Jubilee. "I wanted to take out the motorcross bikes today."
"You know what really sucks?" Amara glared at Roberto as Hank cleaned the scratches on her arm. "Having some clumsy, uncoordinated klutz crash into you on the staircase while carrying a lava lamp. And then the lava lamp shatters, ruining your clothes and cutting up your arm."
"It was your own damn fault for not looking where you were going," Roberto accused. He tried to sit up but fell back with a groan, pressing the ice pack to his head. "Besides, then Jubilee and Bobby had to run down the stairs and slip on the lava and fall on top of us."
"And all of those insults mean the same thing, Amara," Bobby chimed in. "But considering you were the one who collided with us and ruined my lava lamp, I'd expect you to be somewhat idiotic. Don't try to blame other people for your own problems! And I really liked that lava lamp."
"If you want, I'll give you some real lava," Amara threatened.
"Quiet, all of you." Hank held up his hand to placate all parties. "First of all, none you are going to accomplish anything by accusing one another of fault for this situation. Second, all of you are free to go, but take it easy for the rest of the day. That means no motorcross for any of you. And Roberto, if your headache gets worse, come see me immediately."
"Will do, Dr. McCoy," Roberto agreed.
The four filed out the door, still bickering and Hank rolled his eyes as they left. They were well intentioned, but he had never seen such a group of accidental troublemakers like those before. It was no wonder Logan was so exasperated while dealing with them.
A faint noise from outside in the corridor distracted Hank from his musings about his rambunctious students. Alert at the sound, he concentrated, straining his senses, and the sound grew louder. Running footsteps, a tinge of blood in the air, although not enough for a serious injury, thank goodness . . .
Hank sighed. Another one of the New Mutants had probably injured themselves while performing some sort of inane action, as they were prone to do on a daily basis. Reaching up and opening the one of the cabinets that lined the walls, Hank removed large antiseptic swabs, bandages, and gauze while wondering how those kids managed to walk upright without injuring themselves. But then again, they really didn't, did they?
As the footsteps approached, Hank mentally prepared himself to deal with the injuries of an overly animated teenager with too much energy and too little common sense, and the arguments between his students that would undoubtedly ensue when various others were fostered with the blame for whatever malady it was.
The door to medical bay flew open, the metal slamming against the wall. Turning to see the identity and the damage of the student, Hank was taken aback to see Rogue instead of one of the New Mutants.
"Rogue!" Hank exclaimed. "What's the matter?"
The girl who was able to emerge from Logan's Danger Room sessions completely unscathed was now more disheveled than Hank had ever seen her. The faded, black jeans she wore were torn in various places, most prominently at the knees, revealing blood trickling out of the scrapes on her kneecaps. The right sleeve had been almost fully ripped off of her hooded, black sweatshirt, which hung unzipped over her dark purple T-shirt, that Hank noted with puzzlement, had a white Celtic cross printed on the front and center. Her auburn hair had been pulled back from her face and twisted into a loose knot, but the white streaks on both sides of her head had fallen free and framed her pale face.
Rogue held her right hand over her left arm; the sleeve was torn there as well, but the more obvious problem was blood dripping down her arm. Her clothes were spotted with water, a sign that she had been outside in the rain.
"Here," Hank said, gently placing a hand on the girl's covered shoulder and guiding her over to sit down on one of the beds.
Rogue sat down with no argument, offering no comments.
Swiftly, Hank pulled on a pair of gloves, glad that he was already wearing his doctor's coat. He grabbed the medical supplies and returned to Rogue, quickly unwrapping the bandages.
"May I see?" Hank asked benignly.
Silently, Rogue extended her arm, removing her hand and revealing the wound. Hank could see that the fabric of her glove was stained with blood.
Examining the long scratch on Rogue's forearm, Hank sighed in relief. The cut was merely superficial.
"It's only a minor abrasion," he told her, hoping reassure the teenager. "It might seem as if there's a considerable amount of blood, but it's shallow." He met her eyes and was startled to see that her normally cool, green eyes were glazed and empty. Her posture was stiff, and the bright lights and white walls made her ivory complexion appear even more cadaverous than usual.
"Rogue?" Hank placed a hand on her shoulder and she started, jerking away from him, standing so fast that she swayed on her feet.
Her gaze focused on Hank and a light seemed to ignite in her eyes, her gaze regaining awareness. She sat down again, the ever-present aloof and cold expression settling upon her features.
"Sorry," Rogue said in a low voice, staring fixedly at the wall opposite her.
"It's all right," Hank said, concerned. "Does your head hurt? You may have a concussion-"
"I don't," Rogue interrupted. "I just slipped and scraped my arm and knees. I regained my balance before I completely fell."
Hank grimaced. "Were you climbing on the roof again?"
"Yes," came the sullen reply.
"This may hurt," Hank informed her, gesturing to the antiseptic swab.
She shrugged; he proceeded to clean out the shallow but wide abrasion on her arm. Hank couldn't help but be perplexed yet impressed by her lack of reaction to the fierce bite of the antiseptic; she barely winced.
"For your own safety, you would be wise to cease this ludicrous business of entering and exiting the mansion through windows," Hank told her. "Frankly, it's dangerous. Had you not reassumed your balance promptly, you very well could have been killed."
"I wouldn't do it nearly so much if it didn't get a reaction out of everyone," Rogue replied, smirking.
Hank sighed. "So you do this for attention?"
"I do it because it's fun to make other people so upset about it," Rogue responded flippantly. "What do you think the whole goth wardrobe is about?"
"So you dress like that to rebel?" Hank queried.
"It's fun to make people angry," Rogue replied, cutting her eyes at him.
"Do you also find it 'fun' to fabricate excuses about why you slander Jean?" Hank asked, starting to bandage her arm.
A pair of hard, green eyes met his amber, feline gaze. Rogue did not respond for several moments.
"What would you have me do Dr. McCoy?" She demanded quietly. "Admit the real reason I don't like Jean? Don't you think that's just slightly pathetic?"
"Personally, I find it more pathetic that you need to devise excuses in order to explain your aversion to Jean," Hank replied curtly.
"In the world I come from, Dr. McCoy, you do anything to save face. No matter what." Rogue stared at him icily.
"Personally, Rogue, I can't help but feel as if you need to reorder your priorities." Hank realized that he was pulling the bandage too tight and loosened it slightly.
"Thanks," Rogue said, her tone dripping with such saccharine that its insincerity was evident. "I realize that it might be tempting and even somewhat gratifying if you had cut off my circulation, but the fact that you didn't speaks miles about your character."
Impatience rising, Hank met her gaze. She smirked back at him.
"Does it take a considerable amount of energy, Rogue?" Hank asked carefully.
Rogue studied him without appearing to do so, and he was willing to admit that subtlety was definitely one of her strengths, his personal frustration with the girl aside.
"What are you talking about?" She finally asked, a hint of wariness in her tone.
"You lied about why you dislike Jean," Hank stated calmly. "And it doesn't stop there. Your personality as the resident cold-hearted delinquent of the mansion, it's a complete façade, is that right?"
If it was possible, Rogue's face grew even colder.
"It's because you're jealous of Jean, isn't it?" Hank questioned.
Gazing at him disdainfully, Rogue seemed as if she wasn't going to respond at all. Finally, she spoke after allowing several moments to pass, her tone positively frigid.
"There's a lot to envy where Jean is concerned. For one, the fact her mutation benefits her instead of hindering her. And of course, the way she draws people to worship her like flies to honey. It's not unexpected that I would be jealous of her." Rogue scowled.
Hank raised an eyebrow. "In that case, why would you choose to lie to hide your jealousy?"
"Because it's pathetic," Rogue returned, her tone laden with disgust. "It sucks that I can't even look at Jean without feeling like I'm screwed up and a screw-up. Even if I was normal I wouldn't be able to even compare to her, because her talent is natural, while mine is stolen from other people using my mutant abilities. But if Jean was normal, she would still be hailed as the freakin' Messiah. So if I have to lie about my reasons for disliking her, fine. I really don't care."
A silence settled between them, uncomfortable on Hank's part, at least. He broke the pause in the conversation with another question. "And what about the rest of your act?"
A look of faint amusement settled on Rogue's features. "You don't know, Dr. McCoy?"
"Should I?" Hank questioned, narrowing his eyes at Rogue.
Rogue shrugged. "It's like this. I'm in a dangerous situation. Hell's bells, I'm dangerous. And at the moment, I have no chance of returning to a normal life. I'm a mutant, and I can't change that no matter how much I want to. And trust me, I want to. My philosophy is that if you wear your heart on your sleeve, it's going to be stabbed. So it's understandable that I try to be cold and detached in order to protect myself and anyone else from becoming to close to anyone, mentally or physically."
Taking a moment to absorb this information, Hank studied Rogue. This was the truth- she seemed to be honest and open about this, and it wasn't far-fetched and unbelievable like the pack of lies she had spun about her dislike of Jean the day of her detention. Although, he couldn't help but wonder why she was willing to talk to him so suddenly.
"And if I begin to forget my initial personality and actually begin to become the cold-hearted bitch I spend so much effort attempting to emulate," Rogue continued, "It's for the better."
"Why?" Hank couldn't help but question, bemused, as he rose to return the medical supplies to their cabinets.
The amused expression returned to Rogue's face. "This isn't exactly how I wanted my life to be, Dr. McCoy. I never wanted to be a mutant. If I had a choice, I wouldn't be a mutant. Once the rest of the world finds out that mutants exist, everyone will hate and fear us. It takes a hell of a lot of courage to deal with that negativity directed at you, so I might as well just make myself immune to it now. That way, nothing can shake me when it really matters."
Rogue's cynical yet pragmatic reasoning startled Hank. Her realist manner of thinking was a stark contrast to idealist goals of Charles Xavier. With new eyes, he watched Rogue tug at the bandage on her forearm, wondering what exactly had shaped her cold methods of reasoning.
"Can I go now?" Rogue glanced at him, her expression returning to her usual expression of cold scorn.
"You're free to leave," Hank informed her in a measured tone, before beginning to clean up the bloodied gauze and cotton swabs.
"Thanks." Rogue stood, sauntering to the door. "Dr. McCoy."
Wondering what else Rogue possibly could want to say to him, Hank turned. "Yes?"
"Thank you," Rogue said impassively, her hand resting on the doorknob.
"You're welcome," Hank replied with some deliberation.
Cold as ever, the girl nodded at him before pushing the door open and exiting the medical bay.
The door swung shut behind her, and Hank wondered if the image of the door closing was symbolic to metaphorical doors that Rogue had opened, however briefly. Odd that she had chosen to admit the truth behind her actions, but he supposed because she wasn't an actual ice queen, she still needed someone to talk to without damaging the reputation she had so carefully constructed.
The outwardly frigid persona, bad attitude, juvenile delinquent behavior, goth wardrobe and heavy makeup . . . Rogue had admitted that all but the former were specifically designed to solicit a reaction from other people.
Now, after his discussion with Rogue, the conclusion was obvious to Hank. Rogue wasn't misguided; she wasn't even troubled in the sense that he had thought.
She was afraid. Afraid of allowing other people to become close to her. So she pushed them away before they even had the chance, using a variety of mediums, including her appearance.
And yet . . . despite her misgivings, Rogue had honestly shared her thoughts with him, and explained her reasons for lying to him. It took guts, Hank knew, to explain to a person that you had lied to their face. Rogue hadn't even flinched when she informed him that she had been dishonest.
All right. Perhaps that example was less bravery and more arrogance. But the fact remained that Rogue had chosen to be honest with one of the people she was trying to deceive.
Hank smiled, because Rogue was slowly, but surely opening more doors than she knew.
The title "Injury Immunites" refers to the different ways Rogue tries to push people away from her to avoid being hurt. She just doesn't know what else to do. :(
Let me know if you thought anyone was OOC or just didn't understand something. Con crit is great.