Disclaimer: Characters belong to Marvel. Only the original ideas contained within this work is the property of the author. No infringement is intended as this is a written for fun and without profitable gain.
Setting-Universe: Set in the Evolution universe, a couple months after the two Day of Reckoning episodes and after the rescue of Rogue, Evan, Hank, Fred, and Wolverine. It strays vastly from where the third season will likely go.
Summary: A different kind of After 'Day of Reckoning' story. They've all been rescued, but what is Rogue hiding? What happened while imprisoned by Trask? While trying to breach Rogue's callous veneer (which has thickened since the events that took place during her imprisonment), the X-Men and the BoM try to survive the growing public hysteria surrounding mutants and a devious plan wielded by some big time villains.
Reviews: Please, please post reviews on . They are very, very much welcome. I like to be publicly praised and critiqued. It can help other readers understand the story as well.
Acknowledgments: I take a lot of character history and inspiration from the comics and other fan fictions, unless it absolutely clashes with what I've seen in the Evolution cartoon. Fan fiction references likely to come from Lori McDonald (specifically Looking at a Woman, and Thick as Thieves which is co-authored w/ Valerie Jones), Valerie Jones (co-authored Thick as Thieves, unfinished but unbelievably good Blind Sight, and the Betrayal arc), and Ruby Lis (End of Innocence and Scars).
Rated PG 13: This is a serious story and deals with subject matters that are intended for the maturity levels of teenagers and higher. Language is relatively mild and gratuity level of violence and sexual instances will NOT be explicit, but enough will be told so that the reader knows what has occurred. The focus is on the consequences of these things, how they effect the character's lives, and not on the violence (etc.) itself.
Time line: This story jumps in time with memories and because well, sometimes events have more impact when revealed out of order. To help keep track, I include an updated time line at the bottom of every chapter.
Author Trivia: I lived in Bayville as a baby and toddler. My grandmother lives there to this day.
In a small town in upstate Maine, a warehouse was in rubble. A construction crew had cleared away all the debris and another crew was beginning construction on a new building to take its place. Plaster, glass, concrete, steel, and wood were easy to throw away, never to be revisited again. The memories of what had occurred in that warehouse could not be so easily forgotten.
Like in all small towns, rumors had spread that mutants were involved in the warehouse's destruction. Ever since the startling live news broadcast two months ago, mutants had come to take the blame for every little thing. The media proclaimed that the destruction of this particular warehouse had nothing to do with mutant activity. They proclaimed that the federal government owned building had been demolished as it had been scheduled to be. Still, the rumors spread, as rumors do when people are frightened that their kids will be endangered, that their money could be threatened, that their kids would manifest the strangeness themselves, that they might be accused of being a mutant. Or almost as bad, they might be accused of being a mutant sympathizer!
Another small town, this one on Long Island in the state of New York, called Bayville, was undergoing the most significant change of the entire country. It too had undergone a social uprising full of fear and paranoia immediately following the news broadcast. In so many ways, theirs were the worst transformation, the worst bout of paranoia in the entire country, since most of the town's residents personally recognized the many teenagers that were seen wielding strange and awesome powers. In fact, most of the participants in the fight that the local traffic reporter had filmed went to their very own Bayville High School.
Two of the students above all the others stood out the most. One was noticeable because of her popularity and for being known as a star player of the school's girls' soccer team. Her name was Jean Grey and she was even dating the star football player of the team. They were the typical homecoming king and queen types… turned into characters from Stephen King's Carrie. The other student held notoriety because she was the least popular student in the school… well, not even that classified her correctly. They all knew who she was; they just didn't associate with her. She was the school's outcast, the different one, the strange one… the Goth girl. She was Rogue. When her face appeared, everybody sighed and whispered, "I knew there was something wrong with her." But for Jean, for Jean, they had gasped and at first thought, "Poor girl!" But, like with Rogue, they soon whispered hateful things to one another about Jean being a freak. At least Jean had had a moment of pity before the hate filtered in. They all had seen Rogue captured, and still their pity for her was absent.
It didn't take long for the residents to put two and two together. Kids talked, parents questioned, and the connection was made to the Institute. In short order, calls were placed to police and media venues and even to state and federal agencies, and the X-Men's home, their "base of terrorist activities," as news broadcasts had proclaimed, was turned in. Three days following the initial broadcast, the Institute was rushed by armed forces. Everything found had been confiscated as evidence. Only the lower levels had been free of the raid. Somehow, it had been overlooked. But, what good were a war room, a danger room, a Cerebro room, and a hanger bay to a group of kids no older than eighteen with only one adult among them. It was all that saved them from being captured as well. It's what helped them find and rescue Xavier, and what helped them find and rescue their captured teammates and friends. It saved their lives.
That was the first transformation the town of Bayville had gone through, the transformation into scared sheep that suddenly couldn't think for themselves, but thought as a public singularity… for the most part. That transformation wasn't the most impressive one, though. The most impressive one—the one that had set it apart from nearly the rest of the country—well, that transformation went unnoticed by every person that had undergone it. As they were forced to forget that they ever saw mutants fighting against a Sentinel and soldiers, they also forgot that they forgot. It had been Xavier's doing, and he wasn't proud of it. Not at all.
That forgetfulness allowed them the time to heal physical injuries and to work at rebuilding what the self-destruct had practically demolished. Unlike the site of the warehouse in upstate Maine, there was no construction crew on this one. The X-Men themselves worked hard at reconstructing the building. They were trying to make it their institute again, a haven for learning and socializing. They were trying to make it a mansion again, a place of elegance and worth and luxury… a place for extravagance… to match the extravagance of its inhabitant's potential. Their worthiness resided much in their being accepted and maybe even envied a little. People tended to want to be the type of people who lived in mansions. Maybe, their residing in a mansion would help their image a little when the mutant leak spread through Bayville once again. And it would, to a very small extent, to those who were on the edge of sympathizing with them already. However, they didn't even try to lie to themselves that the town wouldn't turn against them again… eventually. It would happen. It was just a matter of time. Mostly, though in their rebuilding of the mansion, they were trying to make it a home again.
It was slow going.
Most of them had worked on the construction in relative quietness. The sounds of hammering and sawing and the like often drowned out conversation and laughter. The physical act of rebuilding their home mirrored the rebuilding of themselves and their bonds and their relationships. They lumbered from one task to the next, shoulders slumped, muscles sore, and motivations hesitant because of the weight of coping. Coping… it was a palpable thing, so swollen and massive, the atmosphere was heavy with it. Like the oxygen they breathed, it was necessary to their survival. But the real coping occurred when in the moments that it appeared that that they needed it the least. It occurred when the conversation and laughter drowned out everything else.
Sometimes, the brotherhood members joined the X-Men in the rebuilding, but mostly they joined in the cooperative coping. In more ways than one, the brotherhood members were peers. In just as many ways, these outsiders were enemies—were lesser than the X-Men--so it was a brave thing they did in assisting the rebuilding, in offering a helping hand. Brave indeed, since the favor was never returned for their home, which was in dire need of repairs. For a second time—or was it third time now—they only had each other to depend on. They had no generous, wealthy founder to provide maintenance for their home, food in their kitchen, clothes on their bodies, and stability for their environment. They would never admit it, but the help they provided for the Institute's rebuilding, was really a selfish thing they were doing for themselves. While there, they were provided with the things that their own home lacked… things they would never ask for nor accept in an act of charity. They were the Brotherhood (of Mutants, aka the BoM) and they didn't need anything from the X-Men.
One thing some of the BoM members would admit to, though, was the concern that some of them felt for certain members of the X-Men and each other. Lance, of course, wanted to check on Kitty, and wanted to make sure her home was in a livable condition. Tabby wanted the girl-talk and she wanted to flirt with Kurt and make sure he was doing well. Fred… well, honestly, Fred wanted the food. And he wanted to do something in return for being rescued. He didn't want them being able to hold that over his head. He'd been the only brotherhood member that had been captured and he was still amazed and shy around the X-Men who had helped the Brotherhood rescue him… and the others too, of course… but that didn't change that they had rescued him.They didn't even like him.
Todd, though, was merely content with the semblance of friendship that had sort of grown amongst them all. Suddenly, he'd gained over a dozen new protectors, even if it was limited, and there were times when they'd seemed to target him as the butt of their jokes. And granted, those were usually when he was grossing them all out. But, even those times were fun. It was teasing… It was like friendship. And, that changed him. Out of everyone, he'd gained the most healing from all that had happened. Ironically, because of the traumatic events that had brought them together—sort of, sometimes—Todd had grown more of a backbone since that day and had begun acting like Jamie's big brother. Not many people noticed, but Lance had. And maybe Scott, Jubilee, Sam, Rahne, and Xavier had, too. They had seemed to keep a closer eye on Jamie than the others… Rahne especially. But nobody said anything. They just smiled quiet smiles when they caught sight of Todd trying to keep Jamie in good humor.
As for the rest of the brotherhood… Pietro wanted to make sure that Evan, his long time rival was up to par, so that their petty competitions would be worthwhile. At least that was his outward and very verbal excuse. But Scott, Lance, Fred, Bobby, Kurt, Kitty, Jean and Wanda had figured out other reasons for Pietro's sudden willingness to work with the X-Men. Pietro was Wanda's sole reason for participating. She no longer trusted Xavier like she had before Mystique removed her from the institute. A part of her harbored resentment for his having had been able to cloud their minds and free her, yet hadn't because it went against his ideals. He did it for his precious X-Men so they could walk around the town, though, didn't he? That was a constant twitch in her thoughts, as was her distrust for Pietro. Wanda went anywhere Pietro went, since the discovery of his involvement with their father, Magneto. Well, not everywhere… but pretty darn close. If he was doing something with someone that was even sometimes the enemy… then it was a sure bet that she'd be there—when he hadn't escaped her with his speed—watching and waiting for just one sign or real proof that he was betraying them once again. And she wasn't alone in this. The other Brotherhood members were keeping a close eye on him at Fred's insistence. They weren't sure why Fred was adamant about it, but Lance agreed to it, figuring it had something to do with the events that had occurred during the imprisonment, something to do with a particular member of the opposite team that Pietro had been giving a lot of attention to…
Rogue… now there was a solitary figure if ever there was one. Wanda was quite curious with her. Not only had Pietro been eyeing Rogue to a disturbing degree… And not only did the other members of the BoM speak of Rogue in an intriguing mixture of distaste, regret, and fondness… But Rogue seemed to be as hard and closed off as Wanda, herself, was. The only problem, though, was that Rogue actually seemed to be less social than Wanda was. Wanda never saw her help much with the construction. When she did see her, it was only a glimpse here or there, far off, and away from all the others.
Rogue… Her name had been the whispers on a lot of people's lips over the last few months. Yes, her teammates were concerned for her. Yes, her former teammates were concerned for her. Yes, she was even more closed off than before she and Hank and Evan and Fred and Wolverine had been captured. But in locked rooms, on classified reports, on test tube labels, and in the thoughts of devils of many kinds, floated her name. Experiments were only half accomplished. Plans were yet to be fulfilled. Bonds were yet to been solidified. And she, not she alone, but she was apart of them all.
Rogue… She thought it best to keep the others out of it. That would be safest for them. The less they knew, the less they would try to stir up… Which meant, that more dust would collect on her files and on the test tubes, and fewer times her name would feather the lips and thoughts of devils, and eventually, she would be forgotten. And that, that, meant they wouldn't come for her here, amongst those she cared for most.
Rogue… She kept to herself. She had a thick skin. She could take the isolation. She had to do it anyway. And the longer she lived with the gnawing, chaffing, and scraping effects of the entire ordeal, the thicker her skin became… the tougher it became… the more resilient she became. In no time, she'd been callused… calloused.
But did her hardened, thickened skin mean she was insensitive, indifferent, and unsympathetic?
Rogue… She hoped so. She thought it would be best.
Thank you for reading. I'm so terribly honored that so many of you enjoy this story so much.
0 days: DAY OF RECKONING. 1st news broadcast of mutants. Rogue, Logan, Fred, and Hank are captured.
3 days: RAID ON THE INSTITUTE. Described briefly in prologue.
42 days (6 weeks): RESCUE. Mentioned briefly in prologue.
56 days (8 weeks): PROLOGUE. It is revealed that Xavier changed the memories of Bayville inhabitants to make them forget that the X-Men and Brotherhood were the mutants involved in the news broadcast of the giant Sentinel attack.