Title: Next Stop, The Twilight Zone
Disclaimer: Not mine, but I'd probably sell my soul to the devil for one night with a certain hot Aussie.
Summary: The newest resident of the mansion may have a solution to the dilemma of Marie's mutation.
Author's notes: While I wholeheartedly believe that the movie provided plenty of solid reasons for Jean to be portrayed in fanfic in a less than flattering light, ie: feeling up a certain hunky patient at every opportunity and not being very supportive of her fiancé – I decided to challenge myself to write a story where she's not the devil incarnate – therefore, in this story Jean does something benevolent and selfless and it's even for Rogue.
I borrowed the name of Hank's former employers from Terri's fic "Pick Your Poison".
Thanks to Terri and Taryn for previewing this.
~ Next Stop, The Twilight Zone ~
Chapter One: The *Cure*
Logan left yesterday and Rogue was absolutely devastated. Even though he'd promised to check in occasionally and had even given her his dog tag, I wasn't sure that he'd ever be back. From what he'd told us about his life, Logan didn't appear to be the type who'd be comfortable attached to any one person or place for too long. I surmised that when he'd borrowed Scott's uniform the night we went to the Statute of Liberty that it was doubtful he'd ever be fitted for his own suit. It was sweet and probably totally out of character for him to promise to take care of Rogue, but I also knew that his definition of exactly what that meant and Rogue's were completely diametrical. Yes, she'd be safe here and we'd protect her to the best of our abilities, but she needed – no, make that craved – his attention and presence in her life. I don't blame him for wanting to follow the lead Charles had provided and taking Rogue with him was simply out of the question.
I was just worried that she'd get it into her head to run away and attempt to follow him. Charles said not to fret, that she wouldn't get far before we'd be able to track her down and retrieve her, but I'd hate to hold her here by sheer force. I know she's a clever girl who deep down understands that she's better off here than wandering aimlessly in the Canadian wilderness. I just hope her heart doesn't override her brain.
I decided to check on her and found her huddled on one of the benches in the garden, feet tucked up under her, her arms hugging her knees and her head hanging down. I walked up to her and cleared my throat to announce my presence. She looked up at me with a tear-stained face and my heart broke into a million pieces. I wordlessly held out the mug of steaming herbal tea I'd just made and she took it with a shaky hand and a mumbled "Thanks." I parked myself next to her and took a sip from my own mug.
"He'll be back," I said, hoping I sounded convincing.
"He said he'd take care of me. He promised," she choked out.
"This is the best place for you right now, Rogue. Logan knew that and I think you realize that, too," I replied as I reached out and pushed a strand of hair off of her face.
She must've been really upset because she didn't even flinch when my hand got that close to her bare skin. I'd been trying to make a conscious effort not to show fear around her as Charles felt it was important that we set a good example for the students. It seemed to be working, as recently she appeared to be a little less jumpy than when she'd first arrived. In an effort to lighten her melancholy mood, I reminisced about the first couple of days after we'd returned from rescuing her from Magneto's clutches when she'd absorbed Logan's personality along with his healing factor and had exhibited some of his more *charming* personality traits. I jokingly reminded her of how amusing it had been for us to watch this tiny slip of a girl get right up in Scott's face as she challenged him in regards to just about everything and how she'd growled rather seductively at me, which at the time was quite unnerving.
"I'm sorry about that and the butt pinching, too," Rogue said, a glimmer of a smile finally breaking through.
"Logan likes you … in that way," she stated with just a hint of jealousy peeking through.
"Logan likes to flirt, and with me he had the added bonus of irritating Scott. I never took him seriously," I replied with a shrug.
"You flirted back," she said, her eyebrows were knitted together, the hint of a smile was gone and she looked slightly upset again.
"Did I?" I asked innocently.
"Yeah, big time," she answered nodding her head.
I personally didn't think so and felt her opinion was somewhat colored by her own crush and natural sense of competition with any other female within Logan's orbit, but decided not to risk an argument.
"Well, if I did, it didn't mean anything because I love Scott," I stated firmly.
The smile was back now, a little bigger this time. Good. Mission accomplished. Scott came out the door from the kitchen and called to us that dinner was ready.
"If you need to talk, you can come to me anytime you know," I told her as we started walking back toward the house.
"Thanks. I'll keep that in mind," she responded.
Over the next few weeks Rogue's frame of mind seemed to improve slightly. I have to admit that I was surprised when Logan called her every week. As I didn't eavesdrop or unethically read her thoughts, I'm not certain exactly what they discussed, but it seemed to make her both joyful and sad all at the same time. Jubilee and Kitty informed me that while she still cried herself to sleep at night, at least she was able to concentrate in school, enough to pass all of her classes with no less than a B in any of them. I knew she was a smart girl and made a point of congratulating her on her success, pointing out that after missing so much school while being on the road, that her ability to catch up was especially impressive and something to be proud of. Charles was working with her on attempting to gain some semblance of control over her gift and I'm glad he never expressed to her his opinion that it was highly unlikely she'd ever gain full mastery. The problem lay in the fact that we didn't know what caused her mutation to be stuck permanently in the *on* position. With Scott, it was due to irreversible damage to the optic nerves, but nothing so obvious explained Rogue's predicament. Charles felt if we could trace the source of the problem, we'd have a better chance of finally solving the mystery. Meanwhile, he conducted meditation sessions with her and she also took private yoga lessons, which if nothing else helped to relax and soothe her troubled psyche.
I was at a medical conference in Denver where I met a brilliant scientist by the name of Henry McCoy who, in the course of small talk, informed me that his funding at Phillips Pharmaceuticals was being cut and he would be out of a job within the month. He told me that he was particularly disappointed as he was so close to a significant breakthrough with his most recent project, a mutation-suppressing drug. My eyes lit up at that information and I told him about our own special little 'project' at the school who would benefit greatly from such a discovery. We exchanged business cards and I told him that I just might have the solution to both of our problems. Now all I had to do was convince Charles to fund the continuation of Dr. McCoy's research, which I was fairly certain wasn't going to be terribly difficult.
I was correct, it didn't take much persuasion for Charles to agree to sponsor Henry's research and I contacted him to make the necessary arrangements for him to set up 'shop' in the medlab. Surprisingly, Phillips Pharmaceuticals agreed to allow Henry to take possession of all of his documentation. He said rather sadly that it just proved how little faith they'd had in his research. Charles graciously told him that we should be grateful for their imperceptiveness, because it meant that when the formula was perfected we could make certain that it never fell into the wrong hands and possibly be used against mutants in some negative way. That show of confidence boosted Henry's morale immensely. One of the many attributes I admire about Charles is his ability to reassure those around him that they are indeed worthy. It's no wonder that he's so highly respected and admired by so many people.
Once Henry, or Hank as he informed us he preferred to be addressed, was settled in I introduced him to Rogue. They immediately took to each other and I could see the beginnings of a warm and close friendship forming. In studying Hank's documentation I was stunned at just how close he was to actually perfecting the formula. Even after attaining the goal of having it ready for submission to the FDA, the drug would not likely have been available on the market for several years as it went through the myriad maze of government red tape. Phillips Pharmaceuticals loss was our gain, or rather Rogue's. Hank tweaked the formula to the point he was satisfied it was ready for a real test. He explained the possible side effects to Rogue who, in her excitement, was only half paying attention. But I couldn't blame her. After all, a little nausea was a small price to pay for the opportunity to finally be able to once again enjoy the sensation of touch. She understood that she was in essence being a human guinea pig and I was prepared in case she had an adverse reaction to the drug, so we proceeded.
Rogue flinched slightly as the needle pushed through her pale skin and watched with wide eyes as Hank depressed the plunger, dispatching the *magic* elixir into her bloodstream. Hank told her that the first effects she'd feel would be slight dizziness and that he wanted her to stay in the medlab overnight so that he could monitor her. When I went into the medlab the next morning he informed me that apart from a mild headache and a bout of nausea, Rogue appeared to be handling the drug splendidly and he'd released her to go eat breakfast with her friends.
I helped him document the results of Rogue's treatment and when I went up to the dining room for lunch I was delighted to see a seemingly healthy looking Rogue surrounded by her friends. Bobby, who'd always had a crush on her was even giving her a massage – on her bare shoulders. It was good to see her relaxed and laughing.
The shot would have to be re-administered on a monthly basis and Hank had already informed Rogue that one of the other known side effects in females was that the drug also suppressed ovulation, which meant it acted as a form of birth control. She blushed deeply and told him that although birth control wasn't an issue at the present time, it was good to know. Somewhere below all that thick blue fur, I do believe Hank blushed, too.
The weekly phone call from Logan came in and I could see how excited Rogue was to share this latest news with him. Closing the door to Charles' office to afford her some privacy, I wondered what kind of reaction Logan would have to this new development.
An hour later she literally came skipping out of Charles' office and informed me in a voice bursting with happiness and excitement that Logan was on his way home. Now, why didn't that surprise me?