Rogue stood barefoot in front of the bathroom sink, her eyes
locked with those of the woman in the mirror. Eyes she had
not seen for years stared back at her. There was a momentary
accusation followed by the acceptance that what had happened
had not been her fault. For the first time since she'd left
Caldecott, she remembered Anne. Standing with a toothbrush
poised delicately in one hand, Rogue let herself be overwhelmed
with the memories of the emerald-eyed girl with twin white
stripes in her hair...
Rogue had grown up in a neighborhood with few children, and
Rogue's real mother had never been one to show much affection
to her daughter, usually too occupied with herself to worry
much over what Rogue spent her time doing.
There had been an antique mirror in the apartment Rogue shared
with her mother -- one of the few nice things that Rogues
grandmother had given to Rogue's mother before passing on.
It was supposed to be given to Rogue upon her wedding. Because
the diamond dust was worn away and the glass slightly warped,
Rogue's mother had seen little beauty in the antique. Left
leaning against the wall in the utility room of their apartment,
the mirror caught Rogue's attention one day when her mother
was away visiting with neighbors.
While Rogue's mother disliked the mirror because the reflection
it gave was blurred and distorted, Rogue found the change
in her appearance to be treasured. The girl she saw in the
mirror looked so much like herself yet so different that she
imagined her to have her own personality. Day after day when
Rogue's mother would leave her daughter at home, Rogue would
retreat to the utility room, lift the sheet that was the mirror's
only protection, and confide her deepest secrets to the girl
she came to think of as "Anne." She was careful
not to let her mother know about her secret friend for fear
that Anne would be taken away from her. Though Rogue's mother
cared little enough for Rogue's happiness, she seemed interested
enough in her daughter's misery.
Rogue had once found a half-starved kitten behind their apartment
and had brought it home to her mother in the hopes that they
could keep it and nurse it back to health. Upon catching sight
of the kitten, her mother had shrieked and snatched it away
from her daughter, rushing outside and throwing it down from
their second floor apartment. Rogue had never forgotten the
plaintive mew of the little kitten as it fell nor the sickening
sound of it being crushed on the pavement. Rogue had burst
into hysterical tears at her mother's cruelty only to feel
the sting of her mother's hand across her face moments later.
"Thank your mother for protecting you from that nasty,
dirty animal," her mother had demanded of the girl sprawled
across the open doorway of their apartment.
By that age, Rogue had been beaten enough to know to do exactly
as she was told. "Thank you, Mother," she whimpered,
covering her face to conceal her anger and despair over the
"Good girl, now go wash your hands so that you don't
get sick from whatever that cat was carrying."
No, Rogue knew better than to let her mother find out about
Anne. She had no doubt that Anne would end up shattered against
the pavement like the kitten she had momentarily cared for.
But with a mother like Rogue's it was only a matter of time
before even the simplest pleasure of imagined companionship
were taken away from her.
It happened when Rogue's mother came down with a bad case
of the flu. It had been two weeks since her mother had left
the apartment and, in all that time, Rogue hadn't been alone
with Anne. As sick as she was, Rogue's mother lost none of
her contempt for the child that had been an inconvenience
to her since conception. Rogue did her best to stay out of
her mother's way, keeping locked away in her tiny, sparely
decorated bedroom. With no toys to play with and nothing to
distract her, Rogue longed to visit Anne and, with each passing
day, the urge grew stronger.
One day when Rogue thought her mother to be resting, she
had crept down the hall into the utility room and pulled back
the sheet to find Anne waiting for her. She lay her cheek
against the dirty linoleum floor and whispered to Anne for
more than an hour, explaining to her why she had been away
so long and that they must keep their friendship a secret
lest her mother take her away. She waited as long as she thought
was safe then bid Anne goodbye before sneaking back to her
room. She never knew that her mother had overheard the entire
It was almost a week before her mother went to rest long
enough that Rogue was able to return to Anne. But when she
pulled the sheet back, she cried out in anguish. The mirror
had been shattered. More than that, the shards of glass had
been dipped in some type of resin and thrown against the mirror's
wooden back. The larger pieces had been gouged through the
wood, jutting up at dangerously sharp angles. Rogue had barely
been able to scream when her mother had grabbed both her hands
and pressed them flat against the mirror, slicing her hands
open and pouring blood onto the floor.
As she ground her daughter's hands against the perversion,
Rogue's mother screamed at her hysterically, "No daughter
of mine talks to imaginary people! Stupid, vain bitch, I ought
to use this glass to cut your face! Don't you EVER keep secrets
from me, girl!"
It had been nearly ten months before her hands had healed
enough that she needn't wear gloves to cover her slashed palms.
Even now as she looked down at her hands, Rogue could still
see imagined lines where the scars had been. Her permanent
absorption of Ms. Marvel had healed all her physical scars.
It had done nothing for the emotional damage her mother had
She had been devastated by Anne's loss, very nearly unable
to cope. She had only been seven when it happened and nearly
suffered a complete breakdown because of it. That was just
before Cody Robbins moved into the apartment downstairs from
her own. For the first time, she had a real friend -- someone
she could confide in though she would never tell him
of what her mother did to her lest she lose him too. Rogue's
mother surprisingly didn't seem to mind Cody so long as Rogue
wore gloves and "acted the little lady." Not acting
the little lady with a boy was what had gotten Rogue born
in the first place after all.
Not for the first time, Rogue wondered how long her powers
had been active. Because she had been forced to wear gloves
to hide the damage her mother had done to her hands, she had
no way of knowing when her powers first manifested themselves,
only that Cody -- her first and only childhood friend -- had
been their first victim when he'd kissed her. Anne was something
she had kept locked away in one of her secret places. In all
her sessions with Professor X, she'd never quite been able
to tell him about her because doing so would have forced her
to remember the mother she had before Mystique rescued her.
After Anne and after Cody, Rogue had found the very thought
of touch abhorrent. Her powers hadn't seemed that much of
a burden to her then. After all, if she could not be touched,
she could not be hurt.
But now, staring into Anne's face for the first time in over
fifteen years, Rogue questioned her inability to control that
which caused her the greatest pain these days. Was it that
she couldn't touch another person or merely that she
was afraid to try? Though Anne's eyes held no answer, Rogue
had a feeling that her memory was the key.
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