A/N: Reviews and con crit are always appreciated.
After the "Gazikhanian Incident", as Bobby has dubbed the event in his head, life at the Xavier Institute returns to normal. Bobby, Roberto, Ray, and Sam receive detention for pranking Georgiana, and unlike Tom Sawyer, they don't manage to escape the drudgery of whitewashing the wooden fence.
Jean and Rogue spend most of their free time at the school, rehearsing for the musical under the tutelage of the high school's musical arts director, a notorious perfectionist. Dr. McCoy arranges training sessions and team-building exercises for the New Mutants. Logan continues to try to teach Kitty how to drive until Ms. Munroe points out that Kitty is only fifteen and cannot so much as apply for a permit yet, at which point he stops, informing Kitty that her parents can take over when she did actually turn sixteen.
Bobby is slammed with detention for another weekend when he returns one of the motorcross bikes to the shed forty-three minutes past five o'clock, the designated time all bikes and riders had to return to the Institute. As a result, his schedule for Saturday is filled by the chore of cleaning out the carriage house that laid by the edge of the forest on the property. But he wasn't alone in the task.
Rogue has been penalized as well, though her offense is fairly minor: breaking curfew. The one who administered the detention for her is Dr. McCoy, and he's also supposed to be supervising them, but for whatever reason, Professor Xavier has suddenly called a teachers' meeting, thus none of the instructors are able to be there.
"So, Morticia," Bobby says amicably as they walk down to the carriage house, "this must suck for you, huh? After all, you spend half your life practicing for that musical these days, and now you have to waste your one free day in detention, because you have training tomorrow."
Rogue arches an eyebrow with skill that would even bring Mr. Spock to cry with envy but doesn't speak. For once she wears clothes that a normal person might select: faded blue jeans splattered with various paint colors from previous detention work, a hoodie with a camouflage pattern of varying shades of purple, zipped only halfway, and beneath that, a bright goldenrod T-Shirt embellished with the slogan, "Bayville High School Girls' Tennis". Bobby isn't quite sure if she participated on the team or just mugged someone who did. However, the vibrant colors are rendered positively garish by her winter pale skin.
The only abnormal article of clothing are the dark brown boots that she wears. The leather extends halfway to her knees, held tight against her legs by the laces that run all the way up the fronts. The shoes appear to be legitimate work boots and are scuffed as if they have seen actual use, but Bobby knows for a fact that Rogue comes from a fairly wealthy family and has probably never needed to do an honest day's labor in her life. To add to the oddness, she carries a compact metal toolbox, though Bobby can't imagine what's inside.
The old carriage house, relative in size to a cottage, sits about two hundred yards beyond Ororo's western flower garden. The set stone walkways that snaked around the gardens don't lead all the way there, so Rogue and Bobby proceed off the path down to the weathered brick building, the absence of conversation between them apparent.
"It's locked," Bobby observes as they arrive at the pair of thick doors, which appear to have been reinforced with steel fairly recently, judging by the slats of metal that crisscross over the wood. "Well, damn, what do we do now?"
In response, Rogue extracts a shiny steel key from her jeans pocket and shoves it unceremoniously into the heavy iron padlock, twisting the insert till the lock's robust shackle pops out of its wide metal body. She pulls the padlock off and lets it drop to the ground.
"Gee, thanks," Bobby says sarcastically, displeased that he was actually have to follow through with his detention.
Rogue ignores him. "Dr. McCoy said to sort out the boxes first," she says as she yanks the door open and enters. Bobby follows her inside the carriage house and wrinkles his nose in disgust: the interior reeks of must and mildew. Wooden crates ranging from size of ornamental desks to fruit storage boxes are lined up against every wall, some in stacks. But what catches Bobby's attention is the legitimate sleigh that reposes in one corner.
"Whoa." Bobby raises an eyebrow as he walks over to it. The old-fashioned red sleigh is full-sized with two bench seats, arranged one behind the other. He runs his fingers along the edge and to his surprise, finds that the surface isn't rusted. Instead the paint is smooth, as if a stablehand has just polished the metal and then gone to harness the horses to draw the sleigh.
"Weird, huh?" He turns to Rogue, who is already perusing boxes.
"Don't tell Jean about this," she advises, choosing a box and hefting it up. "If you do, she'll want to do some asinine team bonding thing and try to get us rent a horse so we can ride around in the sleigh this winter."
"That wouldn't be so bad," Bobby replies. "I mean, come on, you've shoveled the driveway, you know how long that takes."
Rogue grimaces and hauls the box out of the carriage house, and Bobby grabs one of the smaller crates and does likewise. Once out the door, he takes a deep breath of fresh air, relieved that he no longer has to breath in the scent of mold.
He places his box nearby Rogue, who has donned one of the pairs of heavy work gloves Dr. McCoy had instructed them to wear as a safety precaution, and is now sorting through the contents of her box. The crate appears to contain various metal implements, and as Bobby watches, she sifts through the parts, dividing them into two piles that Bobby has already guessed: scrap metal and mechanical pieces that might be reusable.
Glancing down at his own box, Bobby suppresses a groan: the crate is filled with various-sized pieces of wooden props that look as if they might have once been fence pickets, some with long, rusty nails halfway hammered through them.
"How did we get stuck with this job?" He asks sourly, walking over to the pair of remaining work gloves and pulling them on.
"Jubilee is on a recycling kick," Rogue informs him in a bored tone. "She was talking to the Professor about it ad nauseam last week. That gave him the idea for this detention."
"Typical," Bobby says in disgust. "She's like one of those politicians who's always promoting recycling and protecting the environment but then flies around in a private jet everywhere."
"People are, as a vast majority, hypocritical and judgmental," Rogue says darkly.
"Back to the misanthropy, are we?" Bobby asks, tossing a few pieces of wood out of his box. "Always looking on the bright side."
Rogue scoffs in reply.
Bobby picks up another piece of wood and makes a motion to throw it aside, but pauses. This piece is slightly longer than the size of a ruler and about four inches wide at the top but his fingers easily wrap around the other end, which is slimmer.
An idea strikes him. "Hey, Rogue," he says.
She glances up from her work unenthusiastically.
Bobby grins. "En garde!"
A genuine smile spreads across her face, but Bobby doesn't have the opportunity to muse upon her expression because she quickly snatches a broken post similar to his and assumes a fencing pose."Procéder!" She brings up her "sword" up against Bobby's.
For several moments, they pretend to intensely spar with the lengths of wood, chuckling slightly at themselves and each other all the while. Bobby is surprised that he and Rogue have actually managed to achieve the level of comfort required for the two of them to enjoy their time together.
But the companionable romp is interrupted when Bobby decided to take the "battle" a step further- he swings the rod in an arc, quickly swiping the wood down Rogue's arm.
The sound of ripping fabric tips him off that all is not well, and frowning, Bobby holds his wooden stake and scrutinizes its length, realizing with a jolt that a rusty nail jutted out from one end. As he watches in dismay, a single drop of blood falls from the pointed end of the nail.
"Oh my God," Bobby manages in a delayed and understated reaction.
Unperturbed, Rogue brushes an ungloved finger along the scratch that has already welled with blood. "It's all right," she says offhandedly. "This isn't time someone else has slashed at me with metal." She looks at him thoughtfully. "It's the first time that someone was waving around a blade and wounded me by mistake, though."
Bobby is shaken by her distinct lack of concern. "We need to get you to Dr. McCoy." Hurriedly, he grabs her uninjured arm and begins pulling her back toward the mansion.
Rogue twists out of his grip, seeming vaguely annoyed. "Relax, Drake. I'm not some damsel in distress you have to drag around. I can walk on my own just fine."
Luckily for them, Dr. McCoy is back from his meeting and does not appear very surprised when they arrive at the medical bay. "You should have been more careful," he informs them disapprovingly. "And how exactly did both of you fail to notice that there was a nail protruding from the very board you were using for your game of pretend?"
"I'm sorry," Bobby says shamefacedly to Rogue, realizing that he has neglected to apologize until that point.
Dr. McCoy glances up from paging through Rogue's medical file. "Imagination is a wonderful thing, but carelessness only hurts others." He prepares an antiseptic swab and then sterilizes a needle and thread. "This may sting, Rogue. And the stitches will certainly be painful. However, you won't need another tetanus shot because you received one after that mission to New York City a few months ago, if that's any consolation."
"I think that a little pain is good for the soul," Rogue says inexplicably, to the bafflement of both Bobby and Dr. McCoy. She reacts not at all to neither the bite of the hydrogen peroxide nor the needle stitching her skin back together, merely continues drumming her fingers in boredom.
"You may go," Dr. McCoy says when he's finished, and she leaves with nary a goodbye.
"Weird girl, isn't she?" Bobby comments. "Don't get me wrong, I like Morticia a lot, but she's locked up inside herself, don't you think?"
"Quite." Dr. McCoy's tone is noncommittal despite his agreement.
"I mean, sometimes I have to wonder why she is that way, you know?" Bobby continues. "I know her mutation isolates her from everybody else, but I think she must have been really unemotional before, because she just doesn't have the right reactions to anything. When I accidentally cut her arm, she didn't even seem to care that much. And did you notice how she didn't react to pain at all? She didn't so much as flinch."
Lost in his own ramblings, Bobby didn't notice Dr. McCoy pause at his words.
"I wonder what her parents are like," he speculated. "What kind of mom does she have? Did her mom teach her to be so cold and distant?"
"Indeed." Dr. McCoy shuts the cabinet door with more force than necessary and Bobby starts at his uncharacteristically harsh tone. "Robert, I would suggest that you would return to your assigned manual task at moment and complete your detention."
"Oh, come on," Bobby protests. "I have to clean out the carriage house myself now? How is that fair?"
"Rest assured that Rogue will be allocated another chore next week when her arm is recovered," Dr. McCoy says, his tone calmer now.
Bobby sighs but proceeds out the door.
Once his student is gone, Dr. McCoy recalls the speculations on Rogue's family. "Just like her mother," he murmurs, thinking of the woman who called herself "Mystique".
Down at the carriage house, Bobby scowls and kicks over the crate of wooden stakes in frustration, knowing that he will just have to pick them up again.
A/N: So, I want to make this story one of my shorter ongoing fics. Does anyone want to see it go in a particular direction? Let me know, I always appreciate suggestions.
Also, for a story about Dr. McCoy and Mystique, my fic "Of Flesh and Bond" details their history together and shares Hank's thoughts on Rogue.