Miss Perfect

"How about Marvel Girl'?"

I wrote it down with the other suggestions. "Yeah, at least it's better than Evan's contribution," I said with a smirk as I glanced over at Evan.

He got up from the couch, never taking his eyes off of the basketball spinning on his finger. "Hey, man, I think Girl who floats things with her mind' would be a cool code name."

"Yeah, almost as good as The Mind Crusher,'" Scott laughed as he crossed his legs and nodded his head towards Kurt.

Kurt stopped stuffing popcorn in his mouth for a second to shoot Scott an indignant look. "Hey, I think dat would be a kickin' code name!"

Kitty giggled and snatched some popcorn from the bowl. "It, like, sounds like the name of a professional wrestler or something."

"Ja, that's because it is," Kurt said with a grin. Leave it to Kurt to use the WWF as fodder for my code name.

I took a look down at the very short list.

"Ah got one for ya," said Rogue as she took a sip of her lemonade and pulled up a chair. I already knew what she was going to say and I didn't want to hear it. She smirked at me. Sometimes I feel like she would like me more if I were a complete bitch to her. I know she hates me, and it drives me crazy because I don't understand what I did to her. "How about Miss Perfect'?" She flashed a huge fake grin and set her glass down on the table.

Everybody started laughing. Kitty giggled, she even snorted a few times–something she only does when she thinks something is really funny.

Kurt slapped the arm of the couch and laughed, "Dat's a good one, Rogue, I think you've got it! Wondervoll!"

I just smiled and tried to ignore the queasy feeling building in my stomach. Rogue loves to push my buttons and all I do in response is smile.

Evan let the ball drop by his side and struck a pose. He set his hands on his hips and pushed his chest out. "Beware, evil doers, I am Miss Perfect and I have come to overshadow you with my superhuman skill to do anything and everything.perfectly!"

Kitty snorted again and doubled over.

Evan, the big ham, grinned widely and stuck his chest out further.

"Aww, come on, Daniels," said Scott as he gave me a playful shove. Thank God he finally stepped in. I looked over at him and sighed. He knows how much I hate being labeled as perfect. "You forgot about Miss Perfect's ability to balance a 4.3 grade point average, edit the school news paper, captain the lacrosse team and reign over the school as homecoming queen."

"Fuck you, Scott," I heard myself say in a low, threatening voice. My eyes widened. Did I just say that out loud? Everybody was staring at me. Scott's eyebrows had shot high above his glasses. I don't need to see his eyes to know that he was very surprised. Kitty blushed and pretended to tie her shoe. Kurt kept looking from me to Scott. And Evan stood in front of me, mouth hanging open. To my surprise, it was Rogue who came to my defense.

"What's the matter, porcupine, ain't you ever heard that word before?" Rogue was smirking again. Then she started laughing.

I hate Rogue's laugh. Well, let me correct that–I hate the laugh she does when she laughs AT somebody. She has two different kinds of laughs. I once caught her watching "The Life of Brian." I was drawn to the sound of her laughter. It was loud and totally free, that's the best way I can describe it. I was amazed to find that it was Rogue who was laughing. The lights were off and the sound was turned down very low. I think she wanted to be alone.

"What are you watching?" I made the mistake of asking.

"None of yoah business," she grumbled as she flipped off the TV and stalked past me. She was wearing a short sleeve tee shirt so I practically jumped out of her way. In the darkness, I saw the smirk again.

That's the only look she has for me, the smirk. Oh, or the look she gets on her face when she sees Scott and me together. She gets this wistful look on her face and she stares at me because she thinks I don't know she's doing it. I'm not stupid; I know what she wants. She doesn't want Scott, some people may think that but it's not true. Rogue wants the idea of Scott but more than that, she wants me. She wants to be me. She thinks I'm perfect, she thinks I'm normal and she hates me because that's what she wants to be more than anything else in the world. She knows that it's something she can never have. In her mind, she's already given up on the idea but her heart still holds on to it. She even does things to amplify her identity as an outsider.' I think it's the main reason she dresses the way she does. I guess she figures, if she has to be a freak she might as well go all out. This isn't something I've come up with on my own; I've actually heard her thinking this. It's hard to block sometimes. Part of me almost applauds that. It takes courage. Courage I've never seen myself as having.

Sometimes I feel like I am actively trying to hide the fact that I am not normal by overcompensating and being perfect.' I guess it extends to my personality too. I am nice. That's just they way I am. It's the way I've always been and lately I've started to wonder why. Do I have some sort of sick need for everybody to like me? I mean, the only one who actively dislikes me is Rogue and I have become obsessed with changing that fact. But the more I go out of my way to be nice to her, the more perfect I become in her eyes and the more she hates me.

"Jean, I'm sorry, I was just joking," Scott said in a worried voice. I don't know if he's worried that I'm hurt or that I might get angry and start unintentionally throwing things around the room. Right now I'm being cynical and guessing it's the later. Always the leader, always so in control. Scott fills his role without complaint and I love him for that. But I also hate him for that because it means that I have to do the same thing. I'm a model of what the institute has to offer.

Fuck that.

I got up and pushed Scott's hand off of my shoulder. With Rogue's laughter echoing in my head I rushed out of the rec. room. I didn't even bother with the stairs; instead, I levitated up to the second floor and ran toward my room. The biggest room, the one at the end of the hallway, the one I had been in since I was ten years old.

I flopped down on my white down comforter and buried by head in my pillow. I could feel the tears coming. I sat up and closed my eyes, willing them to go away. I didn't want to cry right now, I didn't want them to see how much what they said bothered me. It shouldn't have not if I was the confident girl I thought I was. It had taken me sixteen long years to become the self-assured, outgoing person I was today. Sixteen years and all of it fell apart the moment Rogue walked into the mansion.

She doesn't hate me for what I do, she hates me for what I am and even though I know there's nothing I can do to change that, I still try. Rogue treats me like shit and I put up with it. Why? Because I don't want to give up on her. People think they know who she is minute they lay eyes on her. She's a Goth, she's a freak, and she's a bitch. My friends at school think that I only hang out with her because she is from the institute. They think I am just being nice to her because I feel sorry that she has no friends. They don't understand and, when they make fun of her, they don't understand why I defend her.

She really doesn't have any friends at school. That's because she doesn't want any, at least, that's what she tells herself in her head. But Scott never gave up trying with her and eventually he got through. I'm hoping that one day I will too.

But every little comment she makes hurts me just a little bit more. Kitty asked me why I put up with it. I guess I put up with it because I try to see things from Rogue's point of view. I don't judge people, or at least, I try not to. When I was younger and my mental shields weren't as well developed as they are now, I learned a very important lesson. A person's mind is the only thing they have complete privacy in. People hide things and sometimes they act differently because the things that they hide are effecting them. Take Fred for instance.

It's easy to write him off as a fat, stupid idiot. And that's just what everybody did. I couldn't help what he projected to me and, in truth, I'm almost glad I couldn't. Ever since he was a little boy he's been picked on and laughed at not only by kids at school, but also by his family. His own father was not above making comments "And here's my boy, Freddie. Yup, it's true what they say ya know, they do grow em big in Texas. Makes me wish me and the missus had moved to New Jersey." For years he endured both physical and mental abuse. No child should have to grow up in the environment he did. His self-esteem was non-existent. He would starve himself for days hoping to loose weight and become normal. Fred hid his pain for so long, too long. All he wanted was to be loved and accepted by his father. Instead, he was pushed aside and laughed at. In the end, when it finally became just too much. Fred threw a Volkswagen Beetle on top of his father. It was ruled an accident, but Fred's father isn't laughing at him anymore.

Seeing all of that helped me understand why Fred acts the way he does. I'm not saying it's an excuse for the things he does, but it makes me realize why he does them. By labeling him as stupid, or bad, people shut themselves off from any chances of ever understanding him. And by his accepting that label, he's shutting himself off from getting to know the real him. I pray that Rogue doesn't fall into the same trap. Because that's when people stop trying to understand you and just see you as bad. I think that as long as you try to understand somebody, you can never truly hate them. Great, now I sound like the Professor.

I don't hate Fred and I never will but, I know that I can never be friends with him again. Every time I pass him in the hallway, I get a tingly feeling on the back of my neck. Fear. He watches me, tracks me with his eyes. The memory of what he did sends shivers down my spine. Well, not what he did, specifically, but how it made me feel. Kidnapping me was a desperate, pathetic move, but it made me feel more helpless than I ever had since my TK manifested. Fred made me realize that even with my TK, I am not invincible and I never will be. He reminds me of that every time he looks at me.

He swears that he hates me, but we both know that's not true. I've heard that he spread rumors about me, not that anybody would believe him. I fuck my teachers to maintain my 4.3 GPA and sleep with the vice principle just for kicks. To secure my spot as homecoming queen I gave blowjobs to the football teams entire offensive line (including him). God, I hope for his sake those rumors never get traced back to him. He may be immovable but, when Scott gets pissed he can move anything he damn well pleases.

In fact, right this minute I can hear Scott working on my door. He could just blast right through it, he's done it before, but that was when it was just us two. Now he has an image to maintain.

"Like, maybe we should just leave her alone. She seemed pretty upset," I heard Kitty whisper from behind the door.

"It's ok, guys. I'll talk to her. Why don't you all go down stairs and start the movie. Jean and I will be down in a sec," Scott said.

"Why dontcha just leave her in there to pout? If she wants to be a big cry baby, why the hell should we care?"

"Dude, chill. It's your fault she's in there anyway," Evan said to Rogue.

"Mah fault!"

"Ja, your fault!"

"Guys, calm down. Just go down stairs, I'll handle it," Scott tried to break up the argument.

***Bamf***

"Kurt! Can't you ever just walk like a normal person?!" Kitty yelled.

"Kitty, Kitty, you make one vital mistake in that statement," I heard Evan say as their voices got further away.

"He isn't a normal person," Kitty responded in a deadpan voice.

"Bingo," Evan said as their conversation was drowned out by the clomping sound of Evan jumping down the stairs three at a time like he always does.

The doorknob jiggled and there was a soft tapping.

"Go away, Scott," I said to the door. Rogue was still out there and I was close to tears. The last thing I wanted was to see the smug look on her face when Scott opened the door and she caught a glimpse of tears coming down my cheeks. Scott would rush in and give me a big hug and she would hate me even more. And I would feel guilty. I would feel guilty for being able to touch him.

"Come on, Scott, let's just leave Miss Perfect to sulk by herself."

"Jean? I'm sorry, we were just kidding around. Come on, Red, I know you're not perfect. Hell, if anybody should know I should, right?"

I half smiled involuntarily. *You can come in, but not Rogue* I thought to him as I wiped my eyes and walked toward the door.

*Sure thing, Jean.*

As I placed my hand on the handle, I heard Rogue snort. "Oh, so now y'all are talking behind my back! Jean, if you got something to say why don't ya just come out n say it stead of being a sissy and doin' it like that."

"Rogue, just relax," Scott said in an even voice.

"She always does this! She dives in an out of people's head like it ain't no big deal. Everybody else has to be so careful with their mutations, but not Jean! No, Miss Perfect can do whatevah she damn well pleases."

I stood in front of the door, listening to what she was saying. Was that true?

"Open the door, Jean, I'm sick of this little princess bullshit," Rogue said in a low voice.

I struggled against the thought, but in my own mind Rogue had now solidified her place as the bad guy.' I didn't want to open the door.

"Rogue! Cut it out," Scott hissed.

Things between Rogue and I had been building toward a head lately. People had begun to notice the tension between us. And while recently I thought we might have been getting over it, I could tell from the way she was acting that she certainly didn't hold the same opinion.

Scott was the only one I confided in, so he knew just how trapped and helpless I felt around her. But more than that, he also knew that behind my passive exterior lurked an explosive temper. It was something that I had been working on a very long time. Meditations with Ms. Monroe, martial arts with Wolverine and training sessions with the Professor had all helped tone it down. But I think Scott could sense that it was building up. This confrontation was inevitable, but nonetheless, he was always seeking to deter it.

"Ah won't cut it out. Ah'm sick of living under double standards. Ah'm sick of the Professor always holding her up as some fucking model for all of us to follow. Ah am not Jean and I never will be." *Thank the Lord Almighty*

I flinched at the volume of her thought. She had sent it directly to me. The Professor had been teaching everybody to do that, send thoughts directly to me. I would act like a relay during combat situations, coordinating attacks and linking people to each other. In a loud, spread out confrontation unspoken communication is vital, but very exhausting for me. Having to divide my concentration between that and actual physical participation was incredibly difficult. The Professor compared it to playing the piano; both hands move independently from each other, perfect coordination directed by the brain. All it required was practice. But I don't play the piano, I play the violin, I had answered. He had just smiled in his elusive manner and said, then you must learn.

My hand hovered near the doorknob for a moment. Did I really want to do this right now? Was I ready for Rogue to be brutally honest with me? And believe me, she can be brutal.

*Open the fucking door, Jean, or I'll grab Scott and blast it down myself* she sent directly to me.

I twisted the knob without giving it a second thought. I didn't think she would actually do it, but the malice behind her thought brought out that part of me that I had long struggled to keep down. It was like a fire with a life of it's own surging from a place deep inside me. The raw power and hugeness of it made my stomach turn with memories of the nightmares I had as a little girl. I would wake up screaming with visions of myself engulfed in flames, something inside me taking over and pushing out of every part of my body. Professor Xavier had made them stop by going into my mind and setting up shields but, every once in a while I could feel it trying to escape. I gritted my teeth and held it in. I looked out the door to find myself starring at the top of Rogue's head.

She pushed past me into my room, she had been in motion a fraction of a second before the door had swung open, as if she knew I would open it. It bothered me immensely that she was able to manipulate me so well. Was I that easy to read?

I caught a glimpse of Scott before I slammed the door shut. He made no effort to open the door. As much as he wanted to stop the fight, I think he knew it had to happen sometime. And he trusted me to be the responsible one, the one in control. Great.

"Thank you for allowing me entrance into the palace," Rogue snorted as she gestured around my freakishly clean room. Even I had to admit it was a little bit sterile. But I am obsessive about clutter and I'll be the first to admit it.

She paced around for a while. I stood patiently, waiting for whatever she had to say. This intense animosity came as a surprise to me. Just the other day I had finally persuaded her to eat lunch with me and some of my friends. Kitty and Scott were away on a field trip and Evan and Kurt had skipped lunch to goof around with the dunk tank that had been set up for the school carnival.

There was definitely some incident that fueled her anger. Something I did, something I said. It must have been pretty recently too because this was the first I had seen her act this outwardly hostile to me. Her hatred of me had always been brooding and rather silent.

But now I could feel the rush of her own white-hot anger mixing with my own. I took a deep breath and tried to strengthen my mental shields.

"What did I do now, Rogue," I asked. It was a pattern. She would accuse, I would apologize for something that I didn't do and she would go back to quietly ripping away at my self-esteem. Sometimes she was even able to convince me that I had done or said something that I really hadn't. She could make me feel intensely guilty over things I had never done.

I stepped around her and sat at the edge of my queen-sized bed. I was very conscious of the fact that my room was bigger than the room that Rogue and Kitty both shared. That really wasn't helping me get rid of the little princess' image.

Rogue turned her back to me again and walked over to my desk. Although her back was turned to me, I could feel her rage lessen as her radiating anger melted into a kind of sadness. I was unprepared for that and waited quietly. Something told me that this time things would be different. I got the feeling that Rogue didn't have a specific problem with something I had done, but rather she wanted to use me to get out some of the anger she was feeling over something that had happened to her. Not this time, I could feel myself tingling with aggression and adrenaline. I was done being nice.

In a sudden motion she grabbed a framed photo off my desk, turned and hurled it at my feet. I instinctively put up a shield but the plastic frame bounced harmlessly against the blue carpet and landed somewhere under the bed.

She stared at me, her gray eyes shined over with tears.

Maybe I should have been more sympathetic, but I wasn't. I guess I picked a bad time to make my stand.

I leapt off the bed; I could feel the fire surging inside of me. With a grunt I shoved Rogue into my bookcase using my TK. Her eyes lit up in surprise. She struggled but I held her with my mind. She winced in pain. I was hurting her and I really couldn't care less.

"Just what the hell is your problem?" I yelled, taking a step toward her. I narrowed my eyes and lifted her off the ground a few feet. "What the fuck is your problem with me? What did I do to you? Why do you hate me so much?"

She glared at me and jutted her chin out. Proud Rogue. I held her with the raw power I had always kept so carefully in check. I was out of control and, what's worse, I couldn't even see it.

"Why do I hate you? Because you're a fucking coward, who's ashamed of what you are," she spat at me. But under her bravado came a backlash of pure terror. I saw myself in her fear.

I blinked and struggled with myself. I stood in silence for a moment as I struggled to push down the fire. I took a step back, bumping into the edge of my bed and let go of my hold on Rogue. She slid down the bookcase back onto her feet.

We stood facing each other, not really sure what came next.

"What are you talking about?" I rasped quietly, surprised at the sound of my own voice. I had regained the ability to control my own body and was frightened by the thought that I had not been in control previously.

"You're a mutant, Jean. You are a freak of nature. Yoah not human and no matter how smart or pretty or talented you are you never will be," she leaned up against my desk and folded her arms across her chest.

My legs felt like jelly. I sank slowly onto my bed. What she said cut to the very core of a struggle I had been going through since my mutation had surfaced. But I had never asked myself that aloud, and nobody had ever said anything like that to me before. It was as if she could read my mind. What part of me was a mutation and what part was just me?

My mutation directly effects the physiology of my brain. I have a photographic memory and an aptitude for learning far beyond that of a normal human. But unlike Kitty's intelligence and Dr. McCoy's genius, my superior intelligence is not my own. The only reason I have such a high grade point average is because of my mutation. Scott achieves his grades thorough hard work. But for me, school is almost a joke. My real learning comes from Professor Xavier, Miss Monroe, Logan and Dr. McCoy.

From the age of 10, Xavier has been tutoring me. First I learned to set up the metal walls that would block the hurricane of thoughts that pushed into my mind. Then I began to develop my TK. I learned to suppress my raw power and use control with my mutation. Next, the Professor introduced me to telepathic learning. Mathematics, history, philosophy, languages, literature, science were all fed directly into my mind. With this amazing base I was able to find my own opinions and thoughts through discussion and experimentation. But as much as I longed to discover more about my mutation and about my new abilities, I quickly learned that intelligence does nothing but isolate a person. At twelve years old I had become an outcast. I was a gawky, nerdy, gangly kid with bright red hair.

I went to a private all girls' school for sixth through eighth grade. I was teased mercilessly and tagged as a know it all, the teacher's pet. I would cry myself to sleep every night and ask God why he made me so different. I hated school and had no friends my own age until Scott came to the institute in the summer between seventh and eight grade.

I was depressed through most of Junior High and had become a very quiet, lonely girl. I sat in the back of the classroom and never talked. I ate lunch by myself and tried to remain as inconspicuous as possible.

As much as I tried to hide my sadness from my new family' Logan picked up on it quickly and did all he could to improve my self-image. He helped me with my training, teaching me physically what Xavier was teaching me mentally. I learned to control my mutation and make it mine. As time went on, I became less ashamed of what I was. Scott's arrival helped immensely with that.

By high school I had become much more comfortable with who I was and had decided to stop hiding. I would be who I was and if anybody had a problem with that, well, that was just too bad. Much of this fuck you' attitude came from Logan.

With my newfound self-confidence, came other changes as well. I was growing up and gawky had turned into graceful. I was a natural athlete and, thanks to Logan's teaching, a well practiced one as well.

I was also introduced to another element of life that I had been shielded from at my all girls school–boys. Much to my embarrassment, I became aware that even the senior boys had not missed my entrance into the school. Scott is my very best friend so he and I were always hanging around together. I suspect this chased away most of the guys who mistakenly believed I was taken.' Those who were bold enough to ask me out were politely turned down. As a freshman my innocence and newfound good looks made a bad paring with my ability to read minds. I had not quite perfected my mental shields and the senior boys' intentions were quite clear to me. Some of them even had a bet going.

So I had stumbled into a newfound popularity. With my acceptance came confidence. I was able to be myself and excel in school without being ashamed. And I made friends. I was friends with the cheerleaders and the jocks, the chess team and the science club, the skaters and the drama club. I was an honors student, an athlete, a reporter for the school paper, and the only freshman to be invited to the senior prom. After spending my pre-teen years as an outcast, this was some shock. Despite all of it, I was obsessed with not forgetting how I had been made to feel. If my cheerleader friends had a problem with my hanging out with Horace from the chess club well, that was just too bad. It was like living a dream, I was able to be me and popular at the same time.

In my freshman year biology class, we learned about genetics and Darwin's theory of sexual selection. And once again I found myself wondering what was me and what was my mutation. I had often heard that I was beautiful, which was hard for me to believe after enduring years of teasing. When I asked Scott directly, knowing he wouldn't lie to me, he admitted so with a blush. I would spend hours staring into the mirror trying to decide what was mine and what was only there to attract the opposite sex and spread my mutation. It was scary to think of myself in such detached, purely scientific terms.

I had never discussed my thoughts on this question with anybody else, not even Scott. I'm sure the Professor knew I was struggling with it, but he would never pry.

Rogue was right, I was trying to hide the fact that I was a mutant. It started out being something I did for my parent's sake. While outwardly supportive and loving, inside their heads they were scared shitless and even a little paranoid of me. My own sister wanted nothing to do with me. She was afraid that if she hung around me too much, she would catch it too and then she would be just like me.

After witnessing my best friend Annie's death at the age of eight, my telepathy manifested and the sudden rush of emotions, the voices in my head, the pain, it pushed me into a two year long coma. When I woke up, I was not the Jean that my parents remembered. I would go home from the Institute, which I now considered my real home, for Christmas break. At home I would have to frantically push back against their thoughts. "I can't believe this happened. How could this happen? Is it my fault? Sarah is normal, why did Jean have to be like this? At least we have Sarah, thank God she isn't one too." "Does she know what I'm thinking right now? Does she always know? How can I block it, how can I stop her from reading my mind all the time? I hope Xavier is able to cure her, I don't want my grandchildren to be freaks too. John! Don't think that! She's your daughter for Chrissakes. Did she hear me think that? Just smile, think about something else, anything else. I love my daughter, I love her."

I tried to be perfect for them. I hoped that, in their minds, it would make me something else besides just a mutant. But, I guess I was perfect for me too. The more normal I acted, the easier it was for me to forget what I was.

Rogue had remained silent for a very long time. I was suddenly aware of the tears that were slipping down my cheeks. I rubbed them away with the back of my sleeve, sniffing a little. She was right, I was ashamed, I was a coward.

Then she smirked.

"You're just jealous," I spat at her, wanting so much to cover my vulnerability with aggression.

"What?"

"You're just jealous of me," I said, realizing how completely arrogant I sounded.

She threw her head back and laughed. "Jean, yoah so full of yourself. God, you are so shallow! You're not even real, yoah like some kind of cheerleader clone. If I were anything like you" she paused as if to think about it, "fuck, I'd shoot myself." She looked me dead in the eye and shook her head.

But through her complete bitchiness there was something else I sensed. There was anger, and a little fear and yes, some jealousy, but there was something else. It was like a little burning pinprick of light. I stared into her eyes, she flinched and looked away for a second. Someone had compared her to me. I read it in her eyes, the way she looked at me, in the tone of her voice, she was furious at the possibility that someone thought she was a shallow, superficial airhead who used people and only cared about looks and popularity. That's what she thought I was.

Now it was my turn to smirk, I was in control. "So who said it?"

She narrowed her eyes and stared at me as if she didn't know what I was talking about. But she knew. "What are you talking about?"

"Who compared you to me?" I replied, my voice steady, my insides churning.

"Stay the fuck out of my head!" She took a step forward. Her arms hung at her sides, hands balled tightly into fists.

I stood up and faced her, we were a few feet apart. "I didn't need to go into your head."

She snorted and crossed her arms again. "Right," she said in a low voice. "As if anybody would ever compare me to Miss Perfect."

We were at an impasse. She wouldn't tell me and I wouldn't pry.

I felt drained; I didn't have the strength to keep up my anger.

I sighed and sat back down on the bed. "Are you done now?" I asked, trying to sound totally unconcerned.

"Why, am I being allowed to leave?"

"You're the one who barged in here, you can leave whenever you want to," I said with a shrug of my shoulders.

She looked at me one last time and turned to leave.

As she walked away, I realized that I felt very sick inside.

"Would it be that bad?" I asked in a small voice, half hoping that she would not hear me and would just walk out the door.

"Huh?" She twirled around.

"Would it be that bad if you were a little bit like me?"

She was silent.

"What is it about me that you hate so much? You don't even really know me. Is it the way I look, or the way I dress, or my grades or my friends?" she remained silent, "Because, if it is, you're the shallow one, not me."

Her back straightened and she looked as if she had been struck across the face.

"I'm not perfect, and I never will be," I said, looking down at my feet. "I guess I just kept trying because I thought it would make my parents love me," when I realized I had mentioned the very touchy subject of parents, I looked suddenly up at her.

There was a sad, far away look misted over in her cloudy gray eyes.

"I don't want to be just a freak," I said quietly. "I don't know who I am and I don't know what part of me is a mutant and what part is normal."

"Ah don't think you can separate it," Rogue replied. Obviously she had done some thinking on the subject too.

"Maybe not," I conceded.

Her eyes softened a bit and she pushed her foot against the soft carpet in a small semi-circle.

"Please, Rogue, don't make me the enemy," I said softly, hoping she wouldn't think I was accusing her of something. I wanted to say, I want to be your friend,' but I couldn't stand the pain she would cause me if she were to laugh in my face.

She stood for a moment and finally sighed, "Whatevah," she said as she rolled her eyes and turned to leave. She wanted to appear uninterested, but I had the feeling her thoughts about me had changed a little.

As she left and shut the door behind herself, I wondered why it was so important to me that Rogue didn't think of me as some brainless cheerleader robot. I knew for a fact that there were people in the school who did think that, but I didn't care. Why did Rogue's opinion matter so much to me?

I lay back on my bed and absently twirled a finger in my hair. Even though Rogue had violently denied it, I knew that there was some little part of her that wished she were more like me. And that wasn't just me being full of myself.

As I thought about her standing there so aggressive and proud, yet scared and confused at the same time, the thought struck me. We were alike in many ways. I had always known that she wanted to be a little more like me, but I hadn't realized until now that I wanted to be a little like her too.