|Sat, 07 Nov 1998
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Through a Mirror Clear
But since, alas! frail beauty must decay,
"Drake!" Rogue hissed into Bobby's ear. "Wake up!"
Curled up in his bed with a pillow, Bobby stirred slightly and grunted in acknowledgement but didn't open his eyes.
Rogue, crouched next to his bed, narrowed her eyes in annoyance and tried again. "Bobby, you need to wake up."
Bobby clasped his pillow tighter and squeezed his eyes shut. Frustrated, Rogue said in a low voice, "Bobby, it's time. I need you to take me to the hospital."
"Wha--?" Bobby jolted out of bed and began to quickly dress. As he pulled on his jeans, he froze for a second in realization. "Hey! That wasn't fair!" With that he tossed aside his jeans and flopped back into bed.
"Serves you right." Rogue yanked on the pillow Bobby had clasped in his arms, half dragging him out of bed trailing sheets and blankets behind him. "Bobby, this stupid prank was _your_ idea. Gettin' up in the dead 'a night to do this was _your_ idea." She pulled the pillow completely out of Bobby's grasp and bopped him lightly on the head with it.
"Go 'way," Bobby grumbled as he moved to get back in bed.
"Ah can't believe you're going to pass up on an opportunity like this," Rogue hissed as she tapped a gloved finger on Bobby's nose. "An' 'redecoratin' the mansion at _2_ in the mornin' was your idea."
Annoyed, Bobby gave up hope on going back to sleep. "And you listened to me?" Pulling a blanket over his lap to cover his bare legs and boxer shorts, Bobby sat up in bed and blanched when he glanced over at his wind-up alarm clock. "Geez, Rogue - It's two in the morning! Can't a man sleep?"
"Lazy-ass. Ah thought the 'Prince 'a Practical Jokes' would make any sacrifice for a good prank," Rogue retorted, hands on her hips.
"I hang up the crown between midnight and whenever I wake up." Bobby picked up his pillow and stood up. "How about this? I hereby dub thee 'Princess Prankster,'" he said, tapping Rogue on either shoulder with the pillow. "Now go do your worst - just leave me out of this one." With that, he dived back under the covers.
"Wuss," Rogue said as she walked to the door. "Not my fault ya probably stayed up 'til 1 watchin' Mystery Science Theater."
Bobby responded with a raspberry.
"Yeah, yeah...real mature, Drake..."
"As if playing practical jokes in the middle of the night wasn't?"
Rogue barely managed to hold back her giggles until she slipped out the door into the hallway. 'Real mature, girl. Actin' like a teenager at a slumber party.' She inwardly chuckled as she glided noiselessly down the corridor of the men's wing.
She and Bobby had gone to Harry's for milkshakes earlier that day, spurred on by another of her sudden cravings for an Oreo shake. Over their treat, the Rogue had complained about how overly serious everyone was becoming, and Bobby, true to form, had suggested some sort of prank to lighten things up.
Rogue knew he'd been joking about the idea, but after tossing in bed for what seemed like hours, pestering Bobby about the prank didn't seem so bad an idea. 'Never prank a prankster, though, girl...'
She stopped short when she realized where she was: at the end of the men's wing, in front of a door -- _his_ door. Rogue wondered for a moment why she had arrived there so automatically, without even thinking about it. Over the past two and a half months she had avoided even looking at his door, much less entering it, and she had never been a frequent visitor even when the room had been occupied.
Yet now she felt drawn to it, almost as if she was being pulled in against her will.
As if it had a mind of its own, her hand began to turn the doorknob and open the door. Unwillingly, she stumbled inside the empty room and closed the door quickly behind her.
This room was one of the smaller ones in the Mansion, but when it had been occupied, its decor had somehow managed to make it seem larger than it was. Now, left empty and alone for nearly three months, it was dusty and felt almost cave-like.
As soon as she entered, she wanted to leave, yet she couldn't force herself to do so. Even though bright moonlight shone through the uncovered window, the room felt dark and oppressive, and with the door closed behind her, she began to feel almost claustrophobic. 'Why am Ah here?'
Rogue was drawn to the moonlight and moved to open the window. She sank to her knees when the brisk March air hit her, and she bit her lip hard to try to keep herself from crying. 'Done too much crybabyin' already these days, girl...Hold it in, put it behind you...' She squeezed her eyes and fists tight for a moment and regained control of herself. 'There...deep breath...good girl.'
Basking in the moonlight, Rogue idly traced the edges of the floorboards beneath her. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed that one of the boards curved up slightly where it met the wall. Somehow, she knew it would be there. Curious, she reached over and tried to pry the board up; it moved with little difficulty, as if someone else had done the same thing before.
The light shone into the opening, illuminating a small hoard of photos and momentos that likely belonged to the room's previous occupant. Rogue picked up the first item in the pile; lifting it up, she realized it was a photo of herself, flying up to grab the bouquet at Scott and Jean's wedding. She didn't know he'd gotten a copy of the picture, yet she wasn't surprised, either.
Holding it close to her face, she studied the happy figure in the photograph.
'The wedding...That was what, a year ago? Gal in that picture might as well be a different person; she's nothin' like me....
'She had love, or at least a chance at it. Trust. Security.
'Didn't realize what she had...
'What do you have, gal? Killed two lovers in the past year. Sleepin' on a mattress on the floor. Baby on the way.
She reached under the floorboard and pulled out another item: a gold ring. Holding it between her thumb and index finger, Rogue examined the jewelry. 'Probably his wedding ring...Ah wonder...Is he still a widower, even though Belle came back?'
Rogue pulled off her left glove and tried to put on the ring; it would only fit on her thumb. 'Yeah...Him as the lonely widower...never gonna happen...'
She pulled the next item out of the hiding place and froze when she recognized it: a photo of Gambit and Belladonna from their wedding day. Both were laughing and ducking away as each tried to smash a piece of wedding cake into the other's face.
'Ah 'member that day like it was yesterday...Walkin' down the aisle with my daddy...no...Watchin' her come toward me in that beautiful white dress...'
'None of this was mine...No matter how much Ah wanted it to be...'
Rogue studied the happy couple and lightly traced their outlines with her fingertip. Closing her eyes, she recalled how he once traced the outlines of her face with his bare fingertip. How he'd stared into her eyes. How...
Suddenly she realized she'd clenched her left fist, crumpling the photo of herself. She quickly tore off the wedding ring and threw it, along with the pictures and her glove, under the floorboards, then deliberately put the missing floorboard back in place.
Rogue stood and closed the window before leaving the room. 'Too damn cold in here...'
Idly stirring her hot chocolate, Rogue glanced up at the kitchen doorway when Ororo entered.
Storm shot her an odd look. "Good morning, Rogue," she answered, reaching into the refrigerator. "You are not normally awake at six in the morning; are you feeling well?"
"Well enough, Ah guess. Just decided it was time to get outta bed." Rogue resumed poking at the froth of her hot chocolate with her spoon.
"Ah." Storm pulled a cannister of tea out of the pantry and used her powers to prepare herself a cup of hot tea. Holding the warm mug in her hands, she gazed out the window and smiled. "Spring is my favorite time of year, when the Goddess begins to awaken the earth and help give birth to new life." She took a sip from her tea. "Perhaps that is why I wake up early to watch the sunrise - It is like witnessing a rebirth every day."
Rogue stood and joined Ororo by the window. "Ah've always liked sunsets better myself, but maybe that's more 'cause Ah'm usually not awake ta see the sunrise. An' when Ah _am_ awake ta see the sunrise, Ah'm usually too grumpy to appreciate it." Rogue drained the last of the hot chocolate from her mug. "It _is_ really pretty, though."
"Perhaps we shall make a morning person of you yet."
Beast's entrance into the kitchen interrupted their thoughts.
"Pardon me for disrupting your attempt to convert our unregenerate friend to being one who is most energetic in the forenoon hours, but might I steal away our uncharacteristically early riser for a moment to discuss a matter of a medical nature?"
"Of course, Henry," Storm said. "You may remain in here, actually; I will go outdoors."
"Many thanks, Ororo."
Empty mug still in hand, Rogue stayed by the window, ostensibly watching the sunrise outside. When Storm had left the room, Rogue broke the silence. "So what's up, Beastie?"
"Given your reticence to call upon the good Doctor Reyes or I at all since your first visit nine weeks ago, I have decided that perhaps a 'house call' is in order," Hank answered, his normally cheerful voice betraying a hint of disapproval.
Rogue swiveled her head toward him, then turned back to look out the window. "Ha, ha. Ah get the hint."
"I am not attempting to make merry. This is a serious matter." He gestured toward the kitchen table. "Would you like to take a seat so we can discuss this?"
"No, thanks. Ah'm fine," Rogue said frostily.
"Well, I shall sit down, then." Beast took a seat near Rogue, turning his chair toward her. "To begin, Cecilia and I have been studying your medical files, and we have some concern as to whether you will be able to carry a pregnancy at all." He looked up at Rogue, hoping she would at all react to his statement. She said and did nothing, so he continued.
"Because of the Kree DNA you absorbed from Carol Danvers, the former Ms. Marvel, you have a certain immunity to poisons. When your body is pregnant, it manufactures a number of hormones and other chemicals to protect the fetus from your own immune system, which at first sees the fetus as a kind of alien intruder. Given your enhanced immune system, then, your body may reject the fetus entirely, meaning you may miscarry."
Rogue's heart skipped a beat, but she remained silent.
Beast cleared his throat, then added, "This is possible, but unlikely. Carol herself had a child several years ago, although under very unusual circumstances."
"So what's the problem?" Rogue finally broke in.
Beast looked up from the table to find Rogue staring at him. "The 'problem,' as you put it, lies more in your powers. We have no idea if the fetus is immune to your absorption powers, or even if they function internally. But if your powers do not have an internal 'off switch,' the child may be born effectively brain dead."
Rogue turned back to the window, crossing her arms across her chest. Studying her face, Hank couldn't decipher what emotions might be playing out within her.
"We do not know this for sure," he added. "You know that we have long suspected that your problems with controlling your powers are psychologically based. Even if your absorption powers could operate in the womb, your block against controlling your powers could be such that it only applies to skin-to-skin contact, and not internally. Or, as the child is of your own genetic material, perhaps the wee tyke is immune to your powers anyway.
"If you would come into the MedLab for an examination, we could determine what is happening and then decide the best course of action."
"That's not necessary, Hank," Rogue said stonily, her back now turned fully toward the doctor.
"Rogue..." Hank's voice became sterner, as if he were talking to a rebellious child. "Only after a thorough examination can we truly evaluate your condition and find any potential problems. You needn't be so stubborn."
"It's not necessary, Hank," Rogue repeated.
"Rogue, we no longer have the resources to restrain you, and furthermore that would not be my means of choice to convince you to submit to this exam. Please be reasonable..."
Rogue shot Beast an angry look and stalked out of the room. Staring out the doorway after Rogue, Hank sighed as he ran a hand through his hair.