A/N: This is my first fan fiction in seven years, and the first I have ever posted publicly. So be gentle with me, I'm a rookie! Comments and creative criticism are more than welcome!
She woke up groggily to the incessant ringing of the bedside telephone. The shrill sound pierced through her dream-laden sleep and refused to leave her alone. Uttering a curse under her breath, she reached across the bed and felt for the receiver.
"It's time to get up, darling," the voice on the other end said. "Your appointments start at seven this morning."
She swore again before asking, "Timezzz it?" It was too bleeding early in the day to actually be coherent.
"Five o'clock." She could her the echoing buzz of a hairdryer in the background. "I'm leaving in a little while. I want you bathed, dressed and out the door in thirty minutes. Hair and make-up will be waiting at the television studio. Are the boys up yet?"
She strained to hear the familiar sounds of pots and pans clanging in the kitchen. "Mmmm..."
"They didn't keep you out too late again, did they? I explicitly told them that you needed to get some sleep. But do they ever listen? No, of course not. You'd think…"
The comfort and warmth of her bed was simply too inviting to ignore. She sighed and sank deeper into the pillows as her wake-up call continued on with the tirade. She was halfway between consciousness and sleep when...
"Rogue!" came the sharp rebuke in her ear.
She immediately sprang to attention. "Ah'm up, Momma, Ah'm up."
"Are you really up? Or are you just saying that when you're actually still lounging in bed?" Raven Darkholme asked, expelling some of the sternness in her voice but still keeping her tone firm.
Just to prove her mother wrong, Rogue jumped out of bed and made her way into the bathroom. "Ah'm really up," she confirmed, turning on the hot water to the shower. "Ah'm up an' Ah'm hittin' th' shower right now."
"All right, good. I'll see you in the studio in half an hour, darling."
"Half an hour," Rogue dutifully replied and then hung up. That's mah momma fo' ya, she thought wryly, staring at the receiver in her hand. Always checkin' ev'ry li'l detail an' makin' sure it all gets done.
Well, Ah'm damn lucky ta have her. She slipped out of her nightshirt and stepped under the steady beat of the water. With all th' things that woman does fo' me, all th' schedulin' an' bookin', th' way she takes care o' me... damn lucky.
She picked up the bottle of apple-scented shampoo and poured some onto her palm. 'Course it wasn't jus' Momma who helped me get where Ah am right now. Ev'ryone in mah life -- good an' bad -- has in some way gotten me here.
Pausing for a minute, she let the warm water trickle down her scalp, easily rinsing out the shampoo suds without assistance. Wasn't that long ago, was it, sugah? She slowly closed her eyes and remembered.
She was eight years old at the time. Supposedly young and naïve, too innocent to know anything about the world; blissfully ignorant of its harshness. But that wasn't her life. That was never her life.
Her life consisted of a dead mother at the age of three, and a physically abusive father who took all of his frustrations at the world out on his little girl. She could hardly remember a time when he wasn't beating her, or when he didn't have some form of cheap liquor in his hand. For the first eight years, that had been her life. Day after day of abuse. And day after day of her justifying her father's actions as acts of love and concern for her well-being. He hit her because she had done something wrong. He slapped her because she gave him 'a look.' He beat her because he wanted her to be good. And this continued on until one day Daddy came home drunk... and stoned.
She had been asleep in her bed, waking up to the sound of her father stumbling in the kitchen and calling out her name. As quickly as she could, she made her way down to the other side of the house, only to be greeted by the sight of her father wielding one of their butcher knives and wearing a malevolent grin on his face. He began spewing out incomprehensible statements of demons and justice, and how he had a duty to purge the world of 'her filthy soul.' She had always been scared during those times that her father beat her, but at that moment, as he came closer and closer bearing the knife, she was terrified. She turned on her heel and rushed through the backdoor, plunging into the cold, bitter night with nothing but her flimsy pajamas on, never to look back again.
She soon found herself at the local train station; one of the few places in town that was open twenty-four hours and that could provide warmth for a now-runaway eight-year-old. She had no idea what she was going to do; she had no money, no food, and no clothes. She pulled her legs up to her chest, resting her head against her knees and began to cry.
A few moments later, she jerked up as someone rested their hand on her shoulder. Thinking that her father had found her and was now going to make good on his 'duty to the world,' she started to run.
"Wait," a soft, motherly voice said, freezing her in place. "I didn't mean to startle you, sweetheart. Please don't be scared."
The child turned back to see the most beautiful woman she had ever seen. She had straight, jet-black hair that ended just above her waist; pale, porcelain-looking skin, and refined facial features that looked as if they had been taken off of the visage of a collector's doll. Her eyes were a strange honey color that appeared almost yellow in the sterile fluorescent light of the station.
She had just been on her way home, the stranger told her, and she was wondering if she had a place to stay.
Remembering her lessons from school -- how you should never talk to strangers -- the young girl was about to politely decline when she realized she had nowhere else to go. She couldn't very well stay in the train station. Once the morning came and the regular staff of employees reported for work, they would recognize her and would no doubt haul her back to her father's house. She shivered at the thought. Turning back to her would-be savior, she tried to make up her mind. Which would be better: to return to an evil she did know, or to go forth into a possible evil that she didn't know?
Slowly, and with unsteady fingers, she reached out to take the woman's hand. Little did she know that simple action was the start of an entirely different life for her.
Ah started believin' in fate aftah that, Ah think, Rogue thought as she conditioned her auburn locks. Aftah all, Raven wasn't even s'pposed ta be there that night. It was all jus' a coincidence, her car breakin' down like that. She stopped by th' train station ta get a bite ta eat while she waited fo' th' mechanic ta get his behind outta bed.
'Home' turned out to be a two-bedroom house in the woods, about two miles outside of town. It was in no way a grand-scale residence, but to Rogue it was certainly warmer than her father's house, in more ways than one. She later learned that Raven was merely renting what she dubbed 'the cabin,' and that she and Irene -- whom Rogue met the following morning -- were actually from New York.
The trio remained in Mississippi for the next several months; both to give Raven time to finish with some business she had, and to let Rogue become accustomed to living with them.
Rogue's transition from an abusive home life to a safe, loving environment wasn't exactly an easy one. The first couple of weeks she spent jumping at the smallest sound; convinced that she would be hit because a glass had tipped over, or because Irene had accidentally dropped a fork. By the second month, she had relented some, but was still apologizing profusely for the slightest mistake she would make. Now, after three months of patience, understanding and outwardly-expressed love, she had begun to trust them. And though her jumpy behavior still remained, it had significantly lessened.
The move to New York was like an adventure in itself for Rogue. She had never been to a city before and all the sights and sounds fascinated her. The subway was a particular point of interest; well, sure they had trains in Mississippi, but they never ran underground! Central Park reminded her of the nature back home, only with different types of trees and animal life. But nothing had prepared her for the absolute awe and wonder she would feel on the day Raven and Irene took her to see the Statue of Liberty. Standing at the base of it, straining her neck back until Irene feared she would snap it, she gazed up at the national monument. To the little girl, it looked bigger than huge, bigger than enormous. It looked... gargantuous -- she was pretty sure she was using the word wrong, but at that moment she couldn't have cared less about her grammar.
Over the course of the next six months, Rogue slowly began to come out of her shell. She had yet to become the social butterfly of her third grade class, but at least now she didn't shy away from the people around her, and her apologetic behavior had all but vanished.
Oddly enough, it was Rogue who took the first step toward her career. Nearly a year after living with her foster parents, she saw an ad in the newspaper for a singing contest. Having no prior knowledge that the child even knew how to sing, Irene and Raven reluctantly consented. However, since she was a minor, she needed to have the permission of and be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Legally speaking, Raven and Irene were neither. Although she could think of a million other things that she would like to have done rather than speak with Rogue's worthless father, Raven agreed to fly down to Mississippi and talk him into allowing them to adopt Rogue. Upon returning from her trip south, Raven brought home the disturbing news that Rogue's father had died a few months back, after getting into a bar fight with another local drunkard. The couple was now free to adopt their foster daughter.
After that first singing contest -- in which she placed fifth -- the performing bug hit Rogue hard. She soon became involved in the school choir, the church choir -- although their family was not that religious -- the drama club, the dance club, and just about anything else that dealt with performing in front of an audience. And at every chance she got, she would join contests and competitions. As she became a better, more well rounded performer, she began to win more and more competitions, and her confidence in her craft grew.
Following three years of honing her skills as a performer, Rogue found herself at a statewide audition that would change her life yet again. It was here that she met Jean Grey and Ororo Munroe. While waiting in line for their turn to audition, the three young women struck up a casual conversation. By the end of the day, they had exchanged phone numbers and had made plans to go shopping the following day. The trio became fast friends and were soon inseparable.
Ororo, the eldest and a freshman in college, was the serious one of the group. She would appear to be regal and sophisticated to others, the very epitome of elegance, but when with her friends, she possessed the wildest sense of humor.
Jean, a high school junior, was the typical girl-next-door; she was sweet, kind and a very generous person, both with material things and her attention. Like Ororo, people tended to underestimate her, and therefore they would miss the naughtier, more wicked side to her personality.
Rogue, being the youngest with one more year of junior high left, never felt out of place or inferior to the two older girls. It simply wasn't in their friendship to take into consideration their age differences. They merely concentrated on all the things they had in common, one of which was singing.
Ah guess that's what people call "th' good ol' days."
She finished rinsing off a few wayward soapsuds just as a knock sounded at the bathroom door.
"Ya almost done, darlin'?" a gruff voice asked from her bedroom. "We only got ten minutes 'til yer mother starts callin' an' demandin' ta know when we plan ta get a move on."
"Ah'll be out inna second, Logan," she answered, wrapping a soft terrycloth robe around her body. Those may have been th' good ol' days, she thought as she towel-dried her hair, but Ah think Ah'm havin' just as much fun now!
With that thought, she opened the door, more than ready to face another long day.
A/N: So whatcha think? I honestly didn't think it would be this long. I wanted to get all of Rogue's background into the first introductory chapter but I think I got cared away a bit, so there's a little more to follow. I have parts for nearly every X-Man but I'd love to hear who you think should make an appearance. Drop me a line and let me know! :)