THE ARCHETYPE ASSOCIATION
Rogue knocked lightly on the door to Peter's - no, Archetype's
room. She cursed silently, reminding herself that Peter was
no longer the occupant. "Come in," she heard from
the other side. She opened the door and went through.
Archetype was seated at his computer, busily typing away.
He glanced up at her. "Hello, Rogue," he said politely,
taking off his glasses.
She looked at him. "Why don't you wear contacts?"
"What, and ruin my secret identity?" He smiled
at her chuckle.
"What are you writing?" she asked him.
"Something I've been working on for a while now. It
can wait. What's up?"
"We're taking you out to eat. It's an X-Men tradition."
"Anywhere in particular?"
"Harry's Hideaway. It's been the X-Men's watering hole
He nodded. "All right. Give me a few minutes to get
changed." He reached behind the desk, pulling out a straight
cane, which he leaned on as he got out of the chair.
"Did you hurt yourself?" she asked him.
"It's an old injury," he said. "Sometimes
it acts up. I think I strained it during my Danger Room session
earlier. I'll be fine," he assured her. "Be down
in a few minutes." She nodded and left, meeting Bobby
at the front door.
"What's keeping him?" Bobby asked.
"He wanted to get changed." She had already changed
into a matching skirt and blouse, both in her trademark green.
Bobby wore a turtleneck and jeans.
He nodded. "What was he doing?"
"Working on his computer. He settled in pretty quickly."
"Home is where you hang your hat, Rogue," she heard
behind her. She turned around to find Archetype stepping out
from behind the staircase.
"How'd you get down here so fast?" Bobby asked.
He shrugged. "The elevator." He had changed into
a pair of light blue jeans, with a grey shirt and black denim
vest. He also wore gloves, and was still leaning on his cane.
The overall effect was to make him look older. "Are we
"All set," Bobby replied.
"Let's go, then." He reached out at the air in
front of him, and his jacket appeared in his hand. He put
it on, opened the door, and motioned for Rogue to go first.
She smiled and walked out, Bobby and Archetype following in
As she and Bobby headed towards the garage, Archetype spoke
up. "Um, excuse me, but isn't the road that way?"
he said, pointing with his cane.
"Yeah, but the garage is this way," Bobby said.
"True, but I passed Harry's when I walked here before.
It's only about three kilos away. Why drive?"
"Because it's three kilos away," Bobby replied.
"Let me get this straight," Archetype said, leaning
on his cane. "You spend three hours a day in physical
training, and you're all built like fitness ads, but you won't
walk an easy three kilos? Why spend all that time in the gym,
when the real world has enough physical challenges for you?"
"He's got a point, Bobby," Rogue said. "Besides,
it's a nice night. Let's walk."
"All right," Bobby sighed. He joined them on the
road which led to Graymalkin Lane. They made good time, Rogue
realized, since Archetype, even with the cane, moved at a
"Your leg seems to be feeling better," she remarked.
"It improves if I walk it off," he replied. He
looked at Bobby. "I can shorten the trip if you want."
"The same way I got here yesterday. I'll fold space-time."
"Is it safe?"
"Totally. It'll look a little strange, though."
"Just what do you mean by strange?" Bobby asked
He frowned for a moment. "Ever watch a car as it came
towards you?" When they nodded, he continued. "Did
you notice that, if the car was moving fast, it seemed to
flatten out slightly?"
"Yeah," Bobby replied doubtfully.
"Well, everything's going to look like that for the
next few minutes. Well," he amended, "everything
"How long will it take us to get there, then?"
Rogue asked him.
"About ten minutes," he said. "I won't compress
things too much."
"All right," Bobby said, "let's get moving,
"Just one moment, Mister Drake." Archetype furrowed
his brow for a second, and everything seemed to dim. "We're
ready now." He started walking towards Graymalkin Lane,
which seemed to be approaching very quickly as they followed
"Will anybody see us?" Rogue asked him.
"No," he replied. "We're appearing in normal
space, but for only a fraction of an instant at any given
time, faster than the time which the brain needs to process
new information. No one will notice us. I'll put us back in
normal space somewhere where we won't be noticed for a moment,
so people will think we had just walked in." By the time
he had finished his sentence, they were on Graymalkin Lane
and heading towards town.
"Have you ever had any problem with the people in town?"
he asked them.
"Nothing we haven't been able to handle," Bobby
replied. "We're far enough away to keep the curious away,
but we show up often enough to remind them that we're still
around. We've never been in any trouble, if that's what you
He nodded. "I just wanted to know if there was anything
I should be aware of. Should I simply say that I'm a resident
at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning if asked?"
"That should work," Rogue said. "If it doesn't,
you can just fake a really strong accent, and make like a
"Sounds fair. This the place?" he asked as they
"That's it," she confirmed.
"Let me put us back in normal space. Let's go over there,"
he said, pointing towards an area of the parking lot that
was only dimly lighted. They entered the shadows, and Archetype
closed his eyes for a moment. The light around them became
slightly brighter. "We're baaack," he said
in an eerie voice.
"Cute," Bobby said dryly.
"I rather liked it," Archetype replied brightly
as they went inside.
Harry's was rather crowded for a weeknight. The reason why
was evident, as the band on the stage was being met with cheers
and applause. Archetype winced slightly as he removed his
jacket. "Something wrong?" Rogue asked him.
"My hearing is pretty sensitive. That's a bit too loud
for my comfort."
"The booths over there are quieter," she said,
pointing to the opposite corner of the taproom.
"Why don't we go over there, then?" They found
a booth where the noise level was considerably lower. "What's
on the menu here?" he asked.
"It's a pretty standard grill menu," Bobby replied.
"The waitress will tell us what tonight's specials are."
A few minutes later, they put in their orders. Bobby and Rogue
ordered their usuals, while Archetype ordered potato skins
and a mushroom cheeseburger with a cola.
"You don't drink?" Bobby asked him. He and Rogue
were sharing a pitcher of beer.
Archetype shook his head. "It's hard enough for me to
maintain my concentration when I'm sober. I don't need intoxication
added to the mix. In any case, I never acquired a taste for
Bobby smiled. "That should frustrate Wolvie's plans
for male bonding."
Archetype smirked. "And I hate most organized sports."
"Oh boy, you're gonna be in real trouble with him, then.
He goes nuts around Super Bowl time."
"Oh, I'll just stay in the kitchen and make snacks for
everybody. That should get me off the hook."
"So what do you do for hobbies?" Rogue asked him.
"Well, like I told you earlier, I do a lot of reading.
I also do some writing on the side. I do a lot of traveling..."
"Your way or the usual way?" Bobby interrupted.
"The usual way. I'll decide on the spur of the moment
to go somewhere and then I usually just go to the airport
and take whatever the next available international flight
is. I play it by ear from there. When I get sick of living
out of a suitcase, I go to my nearest safehouse and rest up."
"If you're so rich, why not just take a private plane?"
Rogue asked him.
"Calls too much attention. Besides, I prefer not to
throw my money around if I can help it. I like to just go
with the flow." He stopped talking as the waitress returned
with their orders. "Either of you want one?" he
said, gesturing to the potato skins. Rogue and Bobby took
one each. Archetype put some steak sauce on his burger and
"Well, enough about me," he said. "How about
I learn something about you two?"
"Like what?" Bobby asked.
He shrugged. "I know why I'm here. Why did you two join
That question prompted a discussion about the history of
the X-Men. Archetype seemed to accept most of it, although
he looked a bit disbelieving at certain points.
"Let me make sure I understand this," he asked
Rogue. "You really did die that night in Dallas?"
"All the X-Men that were there did," she informed
"I'll take your word for it," he said dubiously.
Then he raised an eyebrow. "I must say, though, that
you're the most voluptuous corpse that I've seen in some time."
Then he winced.
"What's wrong?" Bobby asked him.
"That lead guitar. It's so out of tune it's pathetic.
I'll be right back." He got up and walked over to the
stage, where the band was taking its break.
"Well, he's certainly a flirt," Bobby said to Rogue
after he was out of earshot.
"Yeah, but it's a nice sort of flirting," she replied
with a smile.
"There's an explanation for that, I suppose."
Rogue thought for a moment. "There are two ways that
a guy can flirt with a girl. They sort of reflect the approach
that he wants to take with her. The first way is more common
- the old lines, the obvious ploys - and a girl can spot them
a mile away, because she's seen them all before." She
paused for a moment. "I think that the other way, being
a nice flirt, means walking a very fine line. You have to
compliment a woman's looks without making her feel that they're
the only reason you're interested in her."
Bobby raised an eyebrow. "You think he's interested?"
She shook her head. "I don't think so. But he doesn't
seem to mind using the compliments anyway. They seem to let
him fill up the space in a conversation. You did see
how nervous he was looking?"
He nodded. "I don't think he's looking out for anybody.
He told us himself that he's worked alone for a long time.
I don't think he's used to dealing with large numbers of people.
You said that he considers himself an introvert."
"That's true," she conceded. "And Jean and
Betsy have had problems in crowds before. If his powers are
psychic, maybe he has a similar problem."
"Could be." He nodded towards Archetype, who was
talking with the guitarist of the band as he tuned the offending
instrument. "Did you get any clue as to the music he
She shook her head. "No. He seems like an oldies type,
though. Looks like he convinced the band to let him play a
set." She had noticed that he was getting on the stage
with the rest of the band.
"What do you think? Beatles? Stones?"
Archetype played the opening riff. Rogue and Bobby looked
at each other.
"Why didn't you tell us you could play an instrument?"
Bobby asked him as they walked out of Harry's about an hour
Archetype shrugged. "There wasn't any room on the application.
Besides, I didn't really think it had any practical use for
the sorts of things that you guys do. What would I use it
for? Serenading the Juggernaut to sleep? Getting the female
supervillans to start swooning and fainting?" He snapped
his fingers. "I've got it! You guys need theme
"You, my friend, are out of your mind," Bobby informed
"Oh, we're all mad here," he replied gleefully.
"I'm mad, you're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" Rogue replied, remembering
the lines from Alice in Wonderland.
"You must be," Archetype said, "or you wouldn't
have come here."
"You got that right, asshole," said a voice behind
them. They turned around to find four young men, who appeared
to be in their late teens, standing before them. Their dress
and mannerisms suggested that they had each spent some time
under the watchful eyes of the state at one time or another.
"Can I help you gentlemen?" Archetype asked mildly.
"Your money... now," one of the teens said,
in as close to a menacing tone his warbling voice could get.
"Now isn't this just a bit cliched?" Archetype
asked them. "Late at night, a deserted street... next
thing you'll tell me is that you're all carrying guns."
The apparent leader of the group pulled out a Glock-7. "Gods,"
Archetype said, covering his eyes with one hand. "Why
must the young always show such a lack of imagination?"
He looked up at the sky, raising his hands as if imploring.
He then swept his right arm down in a flash, striking his
cane on the outstretched arm of the punk. Rogue heard the
crack! as the young man's arm broke. He fell to his
knees, moaning in pain. Archetype was moving before the young
man had fully fallen to his knees, striking one of remaining
four in the stomach with the head of the cane, then downing
another with a leg sweep. He placed his foot on the neck of
one of the fallen, then looked at the two would-be assailants
who were still standing. "Are you two ready for more
of the same?" he asked them. They bolted. He then stooped
down beside the young man who had pulled the gun, picking
it up by the tip of the barrel. "I'll dispose of this
if you don't mind," he told the punk. He then looked
at Rogue and Bobby. "You two coming?" he asked them.
They followed him, not knowing what else to do or say. After
a few minutes of walking, Rogue finally spoke up. "Just
how did you do that?"
"Do what?" he asked.
"Break that guy's arm!"
"Oh. Would you hold this, please?" he asked Bobby,
handing the cane to him.
"Sure." Bobby took it, and almost dropped it again
as soon as Archetype had let go. It weighed a ton. "Jesus
Christ!" Bobby swore. "What is this thing made of?"
"Well, the outside is a wood veneer, but the core is
solid brass." He took the cane back, then looked at both
of them. "Two things to remember. One: hardly anything
is what it seems. Two: like I told Xavier earlier today, I'm
never unarmed. Shall we head back?" he said, moving
in the general direction of the mansion.
"What are you going to do with the gun?" Bobby
Archetype thought about it for a second. "If I throw
this up in the air, can you freeze it?"
"No problem. How cold do you want it?"
"Cold enough for the steel to crack. After that,"
he said, looking at Rogue, "it's all yours." He
tossed the gun into the air.
Bobby froze the gun on its way down, and Rogue shattered
it with one blow. "Not bad," Archetype said.
As they made their way back, one of the streetlights that
they walked under burned out. "Not again,"
"Something wrong?" Rogue asked him.
He pointed to the streetlight with his cane. "You just
saw the reason why you don't want me around the computers
for very long. Let's get going."
Continued in Chapter
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