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[personal profile] calleigh_j
Title: A Place For Me And You
Author: [ profile] calleigh_j
Artist: [ profile] enmuse
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: none
Pairing: Rogue/Kitty
Summary: It isn't being in love that's the problem, Rogue thinks, but being in love with Kitty Pryde.
Notes: thousands of thanks to [ profile] dis_inclined for her awesome beta work and [ profile] enmuse for her gorgeous art

Chapter One:

It isn't being in love that's the problem, Rogue thinks, but being in love with Kitty Pryde. Kitty, whose favourite past times are going to the mall and talking on her cell. Kitty, who listens to music Rogue can't stand. Kitty, who has this ongoing thing with Lance Alvarez that makes Rogue want to puke. And yet, despite all of that, Rogue has no choice but to admit, if only to herself, that her feelings for Kitty are far more than platonic.

She's been on her own in the infirmary for almost a day now. Besides Mr McCoy's hourly checks and Logan's 'subtle' hovering the doorway, she's been more alone over the past day than in the past two years at the Institute. That is, she thinks, her main problem with being here - she's never alone, not really. It's not that she misses the loneliness of where she was before, but she'd gotten used to a certain amount of solitude and even after all this time, she still finds constant companionship difficult to deal with. Sometimes she feels like she's losing a bit of herself in here where she no longer has the time to sort out her own feelings. Lately though, she's been kept awake later and later by questions she's not sure she can answer. How does she really feel about Kitty? What would happen if Kitty found out? If she likes Kitty, does that make her gay? She lies in her bed at night, listening to the sound of Kitty breathing on the other side of the room, and she feels lost.

She saw the faces of the others too as they waited outside the room to hear if she was okay: concern, affection, a little fear too. She can't blame them for that - she was completely, utterly out of control. Out of her mind with power and abilities and the thoughts of a dozen different people whirling about in her brain. She doesn't know how the Professor copes with it, with having to constantly keep his mind shielded from the thoughts of everyone around him. Rogue may not like her own powers, but she's not sure she'd enjoy his any more.

"Rogue, how are you feeling?"

Pushing herself up to a sitting position, Rogue attempts a smile as Mr McCoy steps into the room.

"Better, thanks," she replies, and she's only lying a little. Physically, she feels much better; exhausted still, but no longer like she might pass out every time she moves. Mentally, she's still a mess, but she feels no need to share that with Mr McCoy.

He eyes her suspiciously though, as though he's suddenly developed telepathy and knows the whole of the fractured thoughts in her head.

"Really, I feel much better," she adds and offers up her best smile.

He fusses around her bed for a few minutes, making a note of the numbers on the screens beside her and taking her temperature yet again. Rogue feigns a yawn then and with another reminder her to call him if she needs anything, Mr McCoy leaves and Rogue has her solitude again.

The yawn wasn't entirely fake and Rogue really is tired, but she's still reeling from having all those different personalities trying to express themselves at once. As she tries to focus on her own thoughts and shut out the remnants of the others, the questions she tries to ignore end up forefront in her mind once more.

Sometimes, she thinks that everyone must know how she feels. Sometimes it seems so written across her face that even the people she passes on the sidewalk have to know; there's no way they couldn't. Living in a house with telepaths doesn't help that feeling. She knows Jean's telepathy isn't that strong, and that the Professor keeps out of other peoples' mind as much as possible, but just the idea that one of them might know her thoughts on this particular subject is more than she can bear to consider.

Really, it's not being in love that's the problem. It's not even being in love with a girl - she's not stupid; she knows the relationship between Mystique and Destiny was always more than they let on to her. She's never had a problem with anything like that and were it any other girl, she'd probably just be happy she could feel the possibility of an actual stable relationship with someone. She's always been alone, always been bad at making friends, always been looking for something more, though she'd deny it if anyone ever asked. It's being in love with Kitty Pryde that's the problem because no matter which way she looks at it, she can't see any possible way Kitty could ever feel the same.


"I mean it Rogue. Whatever you're going through, I'm here for you, okay?" Kurt says, before adding something about pizza and vanishing from her room.

As much as she's never going to talk to him about how she feels, knowing that he would be willing to listen makes her feel better. Their relationship has always been a little odd. As Rogue had said to him just a few moments before, Mystique is his biological mother and Rogue was only adopted. That doesn't seem to matter to Kurt though. He's taken her into his life as though she were his real flesh and blood, though a great deal more loyal and caring than any of their biological parents have ever shown themselves to be. When she was younger, stuck with her odd clothes and her odd parents, she wanted nothing more than a brother or sister to hang around with. She grew out of that soon enough: it was patently never going to happen, and after enough time learning to amuse herself, she got used to the idea that she had herself to look after and no-one else to really bother her or bother with her.

It still takes her by surprise sometimes that that isn't the case any more. Now she has friends, a team, a family almost. She has the kind of people around her that she imagined everyone else must have. It's nice, but still a little odd. She's used to relying on herself and it's hard still to let people in, no matter how certain she is that their intentions are good. She's learning to do it though. Just a few days ago, when she so full of other people she thought she might have lost herself forever, Logan stepped in and pulled her back. He told her to fight it and as she listened to the sound of his voice, it got just that little bit easier to push the voices back and focus on herself.

Sighing, Rogue rolls over in the narrow bed and pulls the covers up higher. Since everything went to hell at the club, she hasn't quite been able to get warm. She feels cold all the way through, as though she's been standing outside for too long without her coat in the middle of winter. Being cold has never been much of a problem for her before: after all, she grew up in Mississippi wearing gloves all the year round. But now, she's freezing from the inside out and her fingers feel like blocks of ice. It'll pass, Mr McCoy had told her when she'd complained the day before, just part of her body's reaction to the extreme stress. It feels wrong though, like despite the fact that the fragments of consciousness from all those other people have supposedly been excised from her body, there's still something foreign in there making things wrong.

That's not the only thing that's wrong. She can't get over how bitter she sounded when she pointed out to Kurt that Mystique had only adopted her. As if she wants Mystique to be her real mother! It seems so unfair though. Her biological parents weren't anything like parents ought to be, and when she should've gotten a second chance, instead she got Destiny and Mystique. Kurt seems so much more willing to accept Mystique; maybe not to forgive her, but be willing at least to hear her out. Rogue can barely stomach the thought of that, of sitting and listening to Mystique talk about how Magneto just wants to make the world a better place for mutants, and how she only did what she did to help Rogue, to get her on the right side. Maybe it's different for Kurt, but when Rogue thinks about Mystique, all she can think about are the times Mystique has tried to manipulate her and the times she's used other people to manipulate her and the times she's put Rogue in danger and left her there. They're enemies, it's that simple, and all Rogue can do is wonder how differently things might have turned out if someone else had adopted her.

When Kurt comes back with the oddest-smelling pizza Rogue's ever had the misfortune to be close to, she pretends to be asleep.


The girl shoves her and she crashes, out of control, into Scott and Bezerker. Just moments before, she'd been completely prepared to suck whatever powers the girl had out of her, but as she hurtles towards the guys, arms outstretched, she's terrified. She's going right back to where she was before, losing herself again to powers she can't control and memories not her own. As it is, the unnatural sleep of whatever the girl - X-23, it turns out her name is - slaps on her forehead is more than welcome. When she wakes up, she bolts from the infirmary and to the welcome solitude of her room. Her window ledge is wide enough to sit on and from there she watches Mr McCoy and Storm's training session. It looks, loathe as Rogue is to admit it, like fun. For the first time since everything went wrong at the club, she feels like maybe she could stand to be around people again.

She hates her powers. She really, truly does. As far as she can see, there's no upside to what she can do except that she can help her team. If she's too scared to use her powers and too scared of how they can go wrong, which she never completely understood before, then she's of no use to the X-Men. She has to get over the fear, she knows this, but it's hard. She never wants to experience that complete loss of control again.

There's a hesitant knock on her door and Rogue looks towards it suspiciously.

"Come in," she calls, not moving from her position in the window.

The door opens and Kitty appears in the doorway.

"Are you okay?" she asks with a tempered concern unusual of Kitty who tends towards overflowing emotion in most situations.

"I'm fine," Rogue replies.

"Kurt just went down to check on you," Kitty explains, "and you weren't in the infirmary."

"I know, I just had to get out of there," Rogue says.

Kitty nods in apparent understanding and flops down onto Rogue's bed. She picks up one of the books on the bedside table and thumbs through it and it's like they're back to being roommates again. Rogue surprises herself with the sudden realisation that she's actually missed sharing a room with Kitty. When the Professor had said that there was a spare room going and one of them could take it if they wished, Rogue had jumped at the chance. Kitty had seemed keen on it too, mentioning something about needing the extra closet space. Rogue's reasons had been less material: maybe if she and Kitty weren't sharing a room, Rogue would have the chance to sort through the mess of feelings tangled up in her head. That hasn't been the case though. It's not exactly confusion causing Rogue problems. She knows exactly what she's feeling and it's that she has no idea how to deal with.

"Crap," Kitty exclaims suddenly, jumping up from the bed, "We have a training session with Wolverine." She groans before adding, "I hate these. He's so uptight at the moment - someone's going to get seriously hurt if he doesn't lighten up. Are you coming?"

"Not if I can help it," Rogue says teasingly. Kitty grins as she hurries across the room and phases through the door.

When Wolverine and Professor X turn up to get her to go down for the training exercise, she's ready to go, ready to be a part of something again.


Chapter Two:

The journey back from Louisana to Bayville seems to take forever. Rogue sits at the back of the jet and pretends to be asleep, unwilling to talk to anyone.

Gambit is, she thinks, the most confusing person she's ever met. One minute he's charming and sweet, and the next he's back to being completely untrustworthy and infuriating. Those different aspects of his personality don't cancel each other out, but he switches from one to the other so quickly that Rogue can't keep up. He seems like he wants to help, like he's trying to be a good guy, but then he works alongside Magneto and is clearly a thief.

His charm is so strong she thinks it might be part of his abilities. When she's with him - usually because he's kidnapped her or is trying to stop her from doing something - there's nothing she wouldn't do for him. He occupies her thoughts completely and she can't help but follow him. But when she's not with him, he rarely crosses her mind. It doesn't bother her as much as it ought to have. She hates being out of control, but then she understands wanting people around, wanting to have people like you and help you and follow you wherever you go. She has the X-Men for that and Gambit has no-one really, as far as she can tell. At least no-one that he can really trust. As much as she feels bad for him though, she's not sure she would want him around all time. With a power like that, the power of persuasion, she would never really know if she was doing things because she wanted to do them or because he wanted her to do them. As it is, she thinks when they're together that she's attracted to him, but it fades almost entirely when he goes away.

It's not like that with Kitty. The stray thought wanders through her mind and Rogue grimaces inwardly, turning in her chair to look out of the window. That's the one good thing about being with Gambit: there's no room for thoughts of Kitty.

She may be undecided about where his loyalties lie and how she really feels about him, but Rogue knows for sure that she hates the way Gambit treats her. He's so condescending and patronising and yet she does whatever he wants her to do. It's maddening to be that irritated by someone and yet be unable to do anything about it. When she protests to him that, he just laughs in his charming way and her words lose all their power. She hates the way she feels when he's gone too, slightly lost, like there's something missing. That feeling passes but she hates it while it lasts.


She snaps her head away from the window to find Logan sitting in the seat next to hers. She looks towards the front of the jet. Kurt's flying now, with his feet which never stops being disconcerting, and Storm's sitting in the co-pilot's seat.

"I need some answers," he says firmly.

As much as Rogue would like to ignore him, Logan doesn't take kindly to people keeping things from him. So she tells him about how Gambit turned up and before she knew it, she was in Louisiana. She finds herself trying to take some of the heat off Gambit. Truly, he didn't have any other option. He wanted to free his father, he couldn't do it alone, and there was no-one else to help him. She said to Logan what she'd said to Gambit - he'd done the wrong thing for the right reason - and surely that's a step in the right direction. Logan looks unconvinced, but Rogue can think of plenty of situations and imagines there are plenty more where Logan's intentions have been good but his methods unconventional. She doesn't bring it up though: being told he's wrong is another thing Logan doesn't like.

"Look, Logan," Rogue says finally, "He shouldn't have done it, and maybe I should've tried harder to stop him taking me with him. But his father's free now and I'm okay. Can't we just let it go?"

Logan stares at her and she stares right back, holding his gaze until he gives up and looks away. Rogue turns away too and looks out the window again. She wants to go home.


She wakes up and thinks she should be screaming, but she's not. In her dream, she was screaming. In her dreams at the moment, she's always screaming. She can't stop thinking about everything that happened with Mesmero, how it felt to be under his control. She was conscious the whole time, screaming for someone to help her. All the way to Tibet, she was through her own eyes, seeing everything she was doing, and completely unable to stop herself. And when they arrived and she understood her part, it was so much worse.

Logan keeps telling her it wasn't her fault, but it feels like it was. It was her body, her powers that brought Apocalypse back. They weren't under her control, but they should've been. She should've been strong enough to stop Mesmero from ever getting a hold over her. Then none of this would have happened and there would be no giant domes and no Apocalypse. Without her, none of this mess would have happened.

Kurt's in her dreams as well, screaming at her. He hates her now, Rogue's sure of it. Sure, he was there in Louisiana, but just because he saved her life doesn't mean he doesn't hate her. She didn't really mean to push Mystique off that cliff, but standing in front of her, knowing that she's the only person who can bring Mystique back, she just can't do it. Mystique stands there in front of her, unmoving stone, and Rogue knows that if she helps Mystique, nothing will ever change. For the rest of her life, she will never be her own person. She'll always be whoever Mystique wants her to be, doing whatever Mystique wants her to do, and she can't live with that. So she pushes and it's over. She's supposed to be free now, but it doesn't feel like it.

Unable to get back to sleep, Rogue pushes off her covers, pulls on her robe, and heads down to the kitchen. She doesn't turn on any of the lights on the way down, always wary of waking people, but as she walks quietly down the hall, she can see there's already a light on in the lounge. She hesitates for a moment, not certain if she wants company. But she has a feeling and she goes in.

Kurt's sitting there on one of the couches, the TV on in front of him so quiet as to almost be on mute.

"Hi," Rogue says quietly, approaching one of the other couches and waiting for Kurt to tell her to leave. He doesn't though, just murmurs something indecipherable in her direction, and Rogue takes that as permission to sit down.

She doesn't recognise the programme he's watching - some brightly coloured cartoon - but is more than happy to sit and watch it if it means Kurt doesn't actually hate her. They sit without speaking for a while, long enough for one episode to end and another to begin, and then finally Kurt speaks up.

"I forgive you."

It's apropos of nothing and Rogue is caught completely off-guard. She's not sure what she was expecting, but it certainly wasn't that. It wasn't a screaming match either - Kurt, for all his boundless enthusiasm, is generally pretty balanced and willing to let people speak their turn.

"I wish you hadn't done it," Kurt's saying now, "But I understand why you did."

Rogue still can't actually say anything in response. She doesn't know what she's supposed to say any more. She knows how to deal with anger and hatred and fear; she's not so good on dealing with unconditional forgiveness.

"I'm sorry," is all she can think of to say.

Conversation lulls again. The cartoon ends and the early morning news comes on before Rogue finds the words she's looking for.

"I'm sorry," she says again, "I know she was your mother and that no matter what she did, you wanted a chance to have her in your life. But I couldn't bring her back to hurt me again, I just couldn't."

Even as she says it, she's aware of how deeply selfish it is, especially in light of what Kurt's just said. She can't bring herself to truly regret it though. Rogue regrets that Kurt will never get a chance to know his mother, no matter how insane an idea she thinks that is anyway. She doesn't regret getting Mystique out of her life once and for all though.

"I understand," Kurt says, and Rogue honestly believes that he does.

"You're a better person than I am," she says honestly.

A few minutes later, a light goes on in the hall outside. Both Rogue and Kurt turn towards the new source of light and see Storm standing in the doorway.

"Good morning Rogue, Kurt," she says, "You're both up early."

Rogue looks over and her eyes meet Kurt's, and everything's okay between them.

"Yeah, just couldn't sleep," Kurt says nonchalantly.

"Will you come and help me get breakfast ready?" Storm asks.

"Sure," Rogue agrees.

She gets up from the couch and follows Storm towards the kitchen, Kurt just behind her, and for the first time in days, she feels okay.


"I'm so sorry," she says the minute Kitty opens her door, and it feels like she's been saying that a lot recently. She's been wanting to say it to Kitty for days now. What happened was her fault and though some good did come out of it, with Danielle being found and reunited with her family, that doesn't change the fact that Kitty was hurt and it was Rogue's fault. She feels sick just thinking about what could have happened. She's tried telling herself she'd feel just the same if it had been Kurt or Jean or Scott or anyone else in Kitty's place, but the truth is she wouldn't. She'd feel bad, but not as bad as she feels now because it was Kitty she put in danger.

The guilt Rogue's already feeling is magnified ten-fold when she sees how truly exhausted Kitty looks, like she hasn't slept in weeks.

"It's okay," Kitty says wearily. She steps back a little and Rogue hesitantly steps into the room, the room that used to be hers too.

"How are you feeling?" Rogue asks as Kitty slumps down onto her bed.

"I'm fine," she replies, "Just tired. Glad Danielle's okay though. Glad I'm not crazy." The last is said with more life and humour than Rogue's heard in Kitty's voice since everything with Danielle started.

"I'm really sorry," Rogue can't help herself from saying once more.

"It's okay," Kitty says again.

She's sprawled now across the comforter as Rogue hovers awkwardly, still barely into the room. The room doesn't look that different to how it did when it was Rogue and Kitty's, not just Kitty's. There was more stuff, another bed, another desk, but it's still the same really.

"How's Danielle doing?" Rogue asks, stuck for things to say. She came to Kitty's room with the intention of apologising and maybe listening to Kitty if she needed to talk. But with the apology done and Kitty not seeming to want to talk, Rogue feels distinctly out of place.

"She seems pretty good considering she was trapped in a cavern for years," Kitty replies. It's bluntly put, but completely true.

Rogue thinks she might have met someone whose powers are even harder to control than her own and she feels sorry for Danielle. She knows what it's like to feel like the safest course of action would be to shut yourself away from the world. She's reminded once again how lucky she is to have people who trust her to control her powers as best she can and who she knows will always help her.

"What was it like?" Rogue asks, perching on the end of the bed when Kitty impatiently tells her to sit down, "I mean, when Danielle was speaking to you with her powers, what was it like?"

"It was like she was there," Kitty replies after a pause, "And then when I came down and none of you knew who she was and you all thought I was mad, I thought maybe I was too. But it just felt was so real I knew she was out there somewhere."

"Do you think she'll be okay?"

"I know she will," Kitty replies with her usual confidence, "The Professor will help her get her powers under control, and she's got her grandfather. She'll be fine."

Kitty's belief in the power of good to triumph over evil is endearing, even if Rogue doesn't necessarily agree with it.

They sit in silence for a few moments before Kitty's stomach rubbles loudly. She grins and jumps up from the bed.

"I'm starving," she announces, grabbing Rogue's hand and pulling her off the bed and towards the door, "Let's get something to eat."

Rogue's not hungry, but with Kitty holding her hand and seemingly wanting her company, she can pretend.


Chapter Three:

It's nice to be given something of her own to do, even if the circumstances are far from ideal. She always relishes the reassurance that she's still trusted. That's pretty much the only good thing to come out of the last few days, and it's not even close to being worth all the insanity they're having to deal with.

Rogue looks around the helicopter. It's a bizarre mixture of people. Nick Fury's sitting with the pilots and has barely said a word. Wolverine has assured her that they'll be safe with Fury, but Rogue can't help feeling uneasy around him. S.H.I.E.L.D. are more ambiguous in their nature than Rogue is comfortable with. Still, they needed some way of getting from Bayville to the Sphinx and S.H.I.E.L.D. offered up one of their choppers. Ms Leech is sitting at the back of the helicopter, eyes fixed on Dorian as he darts about, picking up everything that catches his eye. One of the S.H.I.E.L.D. guys is keeping an eye on him too, presumably to make sure he doesn't mess with anything important. The little boy seems more lively though than Rogue's seen him before.

It was actually Dorian who convinced his mother to let him help with the resistance effort. Rogue had given her all the reasons Wolverine had suggested, and Fury had offered up the traditional 'in defence of his country' line, and neither of them had any effect. Ms Leech was so terrified of losing her son that she wanted to keep him as far away from the domes as possible, and Rogue could understand that. But Dorian had stepped out from behind her legs and turned to face his mother.

"I want to help," he'd said firmly, and two minutes later, they were all on the chopper.

Sam seems as interested as Dorian in the helicopter. Almost since they left Bayville, he's been stood behind the pilots' seats asking question after question about what they're doing and how everything works. All this leaves Rogue to her own devices. That's fine with her because while they're in the air and there's nothing she can actually do to help, she can't stop thinking about her friends and what's going on on the ground. She knows where everyone is, knows Kitty's in Mexico with Wanda, Sunspot, Havok, and Angel. She has no idea what's happening though. She's asked Nick Fury, but he says her communication device won't work while she's on a S.H.I.E.L.D. chopper. It's hell, being stuck up here and not knowing what's going on down there. When she asked Fury about communicating and he told her he couldn't, he offered up something about the world not ending without them knowing about it that she thinks was supposed to be supportive. It really wasn't though.

Until then, the idea of the world ending hadn't really crossed her mind. She'd been too focussed on the human - mutant - effort and the fact that it was her friends fighting, and that some of the people they were fighting were their teachers. If they failed, she would lose the closest things she had to family. That if they failed, things would be a lot worse than that honestly hadn't occurred to her. It has now though. Visions of their chopper landing in Egypt too late assault her imagination now. Scenarios play out in her head. They're seconds too late or minutes too late and it doesn't matter: they're too late. Everyone's dead and Apocalypse is powerful beyond measure and Storm and the Professor are doomed to be his foot soldiers forever more.

They are, Fury assures her, going as fast as they can in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fastest airborne vehicle. It no longer seems fast enough though and Rogue wishes she had some more effective power - maybe something that could increase the power of an engine or something similar. She doesn't though, so she sits in the spartan military chopper, wishing for the comfort of the X-Jet and just waiting to arrive.

Eventually Sam yells that he can see the Sphinx. Logically, Rogue knows it can't have taken more than a few hours, but it feels like a lifetime and she's never felt such relief as she does standing beside Sam, looking out the window as they get closer and closer to the ground. A few minutes later, as the helicopter hovers above the ground, the doors open and Rogue can see the Sphinx. It's still standing, though Rogue doesn't yet know whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Ms Leech is fairly shaking with fright as she stands with her son a little way back from the open door. Rogue speaks as calmly as she can as she explains that she needs to borrow Dorian's power for a little while so she can stop Apocalypse. The little boy looks scared and glances up at his mother for reassurance: she stands firm now and he nods. Rogue removes one glove and touches his face, and she is for once glad of her own power - she doesn't want him any closer to danger than he already is. Ms Leech looks relieved as well. Then Sam grabs hold of her and they shoot up into the sky, straight towards the Sphinx. It's only another few moments of being airborne, and then finally, finally she's there. She can feel Dorian Leech's power within her, just under the surface of her skin, waiting until she's ready to use it, and wishes briefly that she found it as easy to control her own power as she finds it to control his. She pushes those thoughts aside: now is not the time for self-pity.

Inside, she arrives just in time to halt Mystique's mid-air attack, in panther form, on Logan. He slices a hole in the doors and yells at her to go. From inside the chamber, Rogue can hear the fight continuing on the other side of the doors. She has no time to worry though, faced as she is with the huge glowing sphere Apocalypse is using to control people. Breathing deeply, she channels Dorian's power through her hands and straight towards the globe. The lights flicker and die, and then she can hear something from the space underneath where the sphere used to be. It's quiet now she's taken the power out and she approaches the platform carefully. It's open but she's still not entirely prepared for Apocalypse to reach out and grab her wrist. He's weak though without his powers and she pulls free, slamming down the panels that form the lid of his...pod thing - she's sure the Professor has given it a name before, but in that moment, it eludes her.

With it sealed, all Apocalypse's rage is contained. Logan flies through the air then, landing on the sealed pod and yelling for her to turn the power back on. Rogue raises her arms and thinks 'on' and everything comes back. It's an incredible feeling, all the power surging through her and the knowledge that she's in total control of it. Symbols flash up brightly and Logan stabs his claws into a panel. He grabs her arm and propels her forward: they dive out of the ship with moments to spare. They run, the light behind them getting brighter by the second, but before they've reached the end of the chamber, it's gone.

"Where'd it go?" Rogue asks breathlessly.

"I don't know," Logan replies as he hoists Kurt over his shoulders, "Hopefully it just fell through the cracks of time, never to be seen again."

Rogue wishes she could share that belief, but she can't and says as much to Logan. He shrugs and they head out of the temple. They find Scott on the way, still lying on the floor but quickly regaining consciousness. Outside, the night sky is streaked with lights as Kurt expresses his happiness that she, cynic of the year, saved the world.

"I wish I could say I did it for the world," she replies honestly. The end of the world had nothing to do with it: Rogue was concerned only with the people she knew, the people who'd stood by her. Saving the world is just a useful by-product of saving them.

Rogue's about to tell Kurt that when, from behind them, Mystique speaks. She has nothing new to offer, only the same empty apologies. It's Kurt who speaks up first though, shunning her offered platitudes. Walking away with Kurt, leaving Mystique on the steps of the temple, is as good, if not better, than saving the world.


The S.H.I.E.L.D. helicopter takes them back to the mansion, stopping just briefly to return Ms Leech and Dorian to their home. They're the last ones back and the chopper lands on the grass out the front of the mansion. Everyone's sort of hovering outside in small groups and as the doors of the helicopter open, a rush of people comes towards them. Rogue's fairly humming with adrenaline as she steps out onto the grass. The journey back seemed to take even longer than the journey out and all of them, even Logan, have been bouncing off the walls a little as the reality of what they've done sinks in.

On the ground, Rogue finds herself being hugged - carefully - by Tabitha and Amara and Bobby and Kitty. Kitty's eyes are wide when she pulls back and that's when Rogue catches sight of Lance. All the adrenaline rushes from her body and suddenly she's so, so tired. Her hands are shaking a little and she shoves them into her pockets.

"The Professor told us what happened," Kitty says breathlessly, completely oblivious to the sudden sag in Rogue's posture, "He said you used Dorian Leech's power to stop Apocalypse."

All Rogue can nod and mumble a vague assent. Kitty looks confused now but Professor X speaks up then and she and Rogue, along with everyone else, turn towards him. He tells them in painfully vague terms about things he saw when he was under Apocalypse's control, and when he says something about friends becoming enemies, Rogue can't help but be fearful that it's her he's talking about. She looks over to Kitty to try and work out if she's the only one assuming she'll turn evil, but Lance is standing beside Kitty now and Rogue can't stop herself from looking away.

She has no right to do so, no right to be so angry at the way Lance is standing with his hand on Kitty's waist. Sure, she thinks Lance is a waste of space like the rest of the Brotherhood (apart from Wanda, who apparently was the only one to join the fight against Apocalypse when Kitty first went to ask the Brotherhood for help), but Kitty makes her own decisions and if she wants to date a moron, so be it. It blows though, seeing Kitty smile at Lance as Rogue stands idly by.

Lost in her thoughts, she misses the rest of what the Professor has to say and only realises she's zoned out completely when Kurt starts waving his hand in front of her face.

"Hey, Rogue, are you listening?"

"What?" Rogue asks, blinking and pushing Kurt's hand away.

"Everyone's going inside," Kurt says, pointing at the crowd of people disappearing into the mansion, "And you were just standing there."

"Sorry," Rogue replies weakly, "I was just thinking."

At Kurt's urging, she follows him into the mansion. She shrugs off the offer of food and goes up the stairs to her room. It's quiet there and it feels like she's been surrounded by people for months, though really it's only been a couple of days since she last got some time to herself. She locks the door, not in the mood for visitors, and flops down onto her bed. The ceiling is white and unchanging as she stares at it, willing it to provide her with some sort of solace. It doesn't though, it never has, and she rolls onto her side, disconsolate. She needs to do something. She needs to get out of Bayville.



Rogue confuses Kitty. Kitty's pretty straightforward, or at least she likes to think she is. She likes shopping and music and hanging out with her friends. Yeah, she's also got this weird mutant power that lets her phase through stuff, but to her, that's not the important part. She's popular and has been everywhere she's ever lived. Even after everyone found out about mutants, it hasn't been so bad for her. Her power isn't as weird as some of the others are and from looking at her, no-one would ever know there's something different about her. She misses her parents but she's happy living at the Institute, happy going to high school and seeing her friends, and happy enough to hang around where she is and see what happens.

Rogue, on the other hand, is sullen and closed off. Even when she smiles, it never seems quite real to Kitty. Kitty knows about everything that's happened to Rogue and guesses it must be difficult for her, all wrapped up in long sleeves and gloves, unable to touch. And having it turn out that, after your biological parents gave you up, that you were only adopted because of the powers you were going to develop? That can't be easy either. But sometimes Rogue's so quiet, so aloof, so far out of reach that Kitty doesn't know what to say to her.

She always gets the feeling too that there's something Rogue isn't telling her. Sometimes, when Kitty looks around, she'll see Rogue looking at her. But before Kitty can ever ask what's up, Rogue looks away. Sometimes there's this look in Rogue's eyes too, like she's happy and sad all at once. Kitty doesn't get it and whenever she asks Rogue what she's thinking about, trying to find out why she looks so weird, she gets blown off with some vague reply that doesn't mean anything. She and Rogue are friends, Kitty would say so anyway, but sometimes she feels like she barely knows the other girl.

Since everything with Apocalypse happened, Rogue's been more distant than ever. School's only been back a couple of weeks and already Rogue's surrounded herself with college applications and SAT practice papers. She'd announced just a few days before the start of school that she was going to go to college out of state. Kitty was shocked by the announcement and, from the expressions of everyone else around the table, she guessed they were just as surprised. Even Jean, whose position as the brightest of all them would be disputed by no-one, is staying in state for college and travelling back to the mansion every other night. Of all the people Kitty had imagined leaving the mansion, Rogue would have been nowhere near the top of that list.

Except that now she's decided to do it, now she's putting all her energy into making a plan, it sort of seems like it makes sense. They were all affected by the events with Apocalypse, but Rogue seems to have been the most shaken by it. She's spent most of the summer in the Danger Room with Logan and Storm, practicing god knows what. While almost everyone else has been home to visit family or at least been away from the mansion for an extended period of time, Rogue hasn't. It's understandable - she has, after all, no family to visit, and as far as Kitty can tell, no-one outside the X-Men she even cares about that much - but the dedication she's put into her training is bewildering. It seems, now Kitty looks back, that Rogue's spent her summer, and apparently plans on spending her senior year of high school, getting ready to leave Bayville.

"Why are you doing this?" Kitty asks finally as she follows Rogue into her room after school one afternoon.

"Doing what?" Rogue replies, dropping a stack of books onto her desk. They land with a loud thump and Kitty winces.

"Why do you want to leave so badly?" Kitty elaborates, "Aren't you happy here?"

Rogue turns around and Kitty thinks that these days, there seems to be something different about her. There's something about the way she stands, the way she holds herself, that reminds Kitty more of Storm than of the Rogue she's familiar with. Rogue seems more confident and generally just more sure of herself.

"I am happy," Rogue replies, "But I just need to get out of here. I need to go somewhere new. I need to be with different people...I just need to be somewhere where I'm not that weird girl who sucks out peoples' lives by touching them."

"You're not that...we don't think of you like that," Kitty protests, stepping closer to Rogue as if to prove the point.

"Sure you do," Rogue replies with a shrug, "Everyone does. I do. Here, that's just who I am. No-one can change that, so I need to go somewhere else."

"You don't have to leave," Kitty offers, although even as she says the words she doesn't know what she could possibly follow them up with.

"I'm not leaving you," Rogue says quietly, and there it is: that something in her eyes that makes Kitty think she and Rogue are having different conversations, "I'm not leaving the X-Men; I'm leaving Bayville. And I'm not leaving forever. I mean, where else could I go?"

"Can't you just do what Scott and Jean are doing?" Kitty asks, and for the life of her she can't work out why she sounds so pissed off about the whole thing, "I don't understand why you want to go so far away."

"I'm not going that far away," Rogue protests, "Just a little way out of the state, just far enough away that I can have some real independence. Kitty, I love it here, it's my home, but I need to...I need to work out who I am away from here. I need to work out who I am and what I want to be."

It's unusually introspective coming from Rogue and Kitty doesn't know how to argue with that. When she was living with her parents, she dreamed about growing up and living on her own in an amazing apartment somewhere and not having to let anyone know who she was going out with or when she would be home. Rogue's desire for independence is deeper than that though, Kitty knows, and she just wishes there was something, anything she could say to keep her friend around.

Part Two
Part Three
Art and soundtrack
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December 2010

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