THE ARCHETYPE ASSOCIATION
"Where will you be going now?" Kurt asked.
They had all returned to the research center to relax and
debrief. Moira had examined Archetype again, pronouncing him
fully healthy, although he did complain of feeling "different."
"Well, this young lady," he replied, nodding at
Rogue, "wanted to see Paris. Since I have some business
interests there, we'll leave this afternoon. We'll make one
last stop in Brussels, then it's back to New York."
"What's there to see in Brussels?" Kitty inquired.
"The best chocolate in the world," he said with
a dreamy smile. He stood up, pulling a calling card out of
his wallet. "May I use your phone for a moment? I'd like
to make some hotel reservations."
Moria waved her hand imperiously. "Put that thing away.
If we can afford neutronium barbells for Brian, we can pay
for a phone call to Paris. The phone's over there."
Archetype tilted his head in acknowledgment and started dialing,
then stopped. "Uh oh."
"What?" Rogue asked.
"I just remembered that I don't speak French."
"Let me," she said, taking the phone. "Do
you want a double suite again?"
He nodded. "Tell them we'll be there in three hours
or so. I'll just teleport us over."
"Why not take the Chunnel?" Meggan asked.
"Because I'm wanted for questioning by British authorities,"
he replied calmly.
Braddock's head shot up at that. "For what?"
"I'm considered a suspected Sinn Fein member. I'm not,"
he said hastily, seeing how Braddock was tensing up, "but
I have made statements, on record, critical of Britain's
"And your feelings on the Irish Republican Army?"
"Those are my own business, Mister Braddock," Archetype
said flatly, "and they have no bearing on my association
with the X-Men." He stood up. "I believe that I've
just worn out my welcome. Rogue, if you have no objections,
we'll leave immediately. I'll go get my coat." He left
"That could have gone better," Rahne muttered.
"I warned you about his political views, Brian,"
Rogue said, hurt. "Why did you even bring it up?"
Braddock found that he didn't have an answer for her.
A few minutes later, after Rogue had finished stuffing her
things into the large suitcase that Kitty had given her, she
met Archetype at the main door to the center. "All set,"
she said. "We're going straight to Paris?"
"Yes. Our reservations at the George V are set."
Her jaw dropped. "We're staying at the George V? That
place costs a fortune!"
"Yes," he agreed, "lucky for us, I've got
"What about food?"
He shrugged. "We'll find something." He turned
to the members of Excalibur, who had filtered into the room
to see them off. "Thank you for your hospitality,"
he said, nodding curtly.
"Mister Riley," Meggan said, "Brian has something
that he'd like to say to you." She turned to Braddock
with a hard look. "Don't you, Brian?"
Braddock looked uncomfortable for a moment. "I want
to apologize for my attitude earlier. I've been on the wrong
side of the government myself, so I really didn't have any
cause to be short with you."
"That's all right, Mister Braddock." Archetype
said magnanimously. "I'm used to rubbing people the wrong
way. If I can get used to Cyclops, I can get used to you...
even if you are symbolic of a corrupt, morally bankrupt imperialist
"Gee, thanks," Braddock said dryly.
"No charge. Honestly, Braddock, I've nothing against
you personally, but I lived in Belfast for a few years, and
that tends to harden one's heart. If it makes you feel any
better, I'm equal opportunity: I also support the Scottish
"Really?" Moria asked, "How so?"
"I've made a few donations over the years. To be honest,
what I'd like to see is a breakup of the Commonwealth into
its component parts: Erie, Cymru, Alba, Cornwall, and England."
"Unlikely," Kurt remarked.
"Hey, I can dream, can't I? You all set?" he asked
"Ready. Let's go to Paris. Bye, guys!" she said
brightly as they winked out.
"An immortal billionaire with Celtic nationalist ambitions,"
Wisdom mused. "Well, I know what I'm doing next time
I take a vacation."
"What's that?" Kitty asked.
"Looking into dual citizenship."
"Do you want to go anywhere in particular? I was going
to place us by the Arc d'Triumphe." They stood in the
black, featureless terrain which lay within Archetype's Doors.
"Not really. Let's just walk for a while. I haven't
been to Paris in a while, and I've always had something or
other distracting me every other time I've been here. Do you
have a lot to do with your business contacts?"
He shook his head. "Not really. Actually, Rogue, I'll
let you in on a little secret: I made my money by being lazy."
She frowned. "I don't get it."
"I'm a silent partner in most of my businesses. If I
find somebody who wants to start a business, I lend them the
starting capital, then let them run it their own way. They
have an option of buying me out if they want, but most don't
because I can come in and help out if things get bad. This
way, I can make a profit and not have to do anything. It's
a nice little system that fits in well with my personal philosophy."
"There are two forces which get things done in life:
self-interest and laziness."
"Isn't that just a bit cynical?"
"Not really. Think about it: why do most people drive
to places they could easily walk to?"
"Because it's easier to drive."
"Exactly. They're too lazy to expend the effort to walk.
And why do most people get up and go to work every day?"
"Very good. Now, can we have a realistic answer?"
"To get the money they need to survive," she said
"Or the things that they want. My first rule of business
is to appeal to my client's base nature, then work my way
"If you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds
will follow?" she asked with a smile.
"You are a quick study."
They made the rounds of a few art galleries, then went to
a rather posh outdoor café, where, although Rogue found the
food delicious, Archetype found it somewhat lacking. "I
can do better," he disclosed, "and at better prices
than they're asking."
"Oh, stop complaining," Rogue said cheerfully.
"At least you're not the one sweating behind the stove."
"Good point. We'll stop at the hotel and check in once
we're done here. After that, our itinerary is up to you."
"Great." Her face became a bit more serious. "Will,
can I ask you a question?"
"Exactly what happened to you last night?"
He sat for a few moments, eyes distant. "Before I can
explain that, I think I may have to tell you something about
what happened to me when I recovered from my accident. I wandered
all over the world for the better part of two years, feeling
drawn to specific places."
"Stonehenge, for one. Also Maccu Picchu, Ur, Luxor,
Rome, Istanbul, Beijing, Knossos, Jerusalem, Mali, and Tibet,
for starters. Notice any connections?"
"They're all ancient sites. But why Mali?"
"It was the center of an empire in the 1400s. Essentially,
I went to places that had massive psychic energy associated
with them." His eyes became sad for a moment. "I
was also drawn to places that had negative associations attached
"We're only a few hours drive away from one of them.
"Also, there was the Coliseum, the Bastille, the Appian
"The road along which Spartacus and his army were crucified.
There was also Transylvania..."
"What? You went to see Dracula?"
"No, his historical counterpart, Vlad Tsepes. And of
course, there was what I refer to as the Grand Tour."
"What was that?"
"Dachau. Bergen-Belsen. Treblinka. Auschwitz-Berkanow.
I'm sure you get the idea."
"How can you be so flippant about that?"
"It's either that or go into hysterics. As bad as it
sounds just to hear about it, imagine feeling the psychic
imprints left by those places. To hear the echoes, however
faint, of each dying child..."
"Will!" Rogue said sharply, seeing that
he was drifting off. "Snap out of it!"
His head snapped up. He blinked, then inhaled sharply. "Thanks.
You have no idea how easy it is to get lost in those collective
memories. I almost collapsed at Auschwitz. Anyway, what happened
last night was, as far as my experiences with those places
go, one of the better ones."
"You see, the Celts believed that the king was bound
to the land, and that the crops were dependent on the health
of the king. For centuries, the kings underwent a ceremony
that tied them to the land. Because the deer were a major
food source for the people, the king was also considered the
master of the hunt, and was given power over the herds by
the gods. But in order to claim that power, the king had to
conquer the old king of the herd, the King Stag. Now,
whether that battle took place on a physical or psychic level,
I have no idea. Anyway, what I went through was a concentrated
form of the psychic events that bound the Celtic kings to
"So now you're a king?"
"On a psychic level, sure. I wouldn't make any bets
on my finding a throne, though."
"Well, your Majesty," she said, standing up, "shall
we get to our hotel?"
"Okay, but if I stay here, does that make you a lady
in waiting?" He ducked to avoid the baguette she threw
Their suite at the George V was divided by a set of sliding
doors, which the bellhop opened as they entered. "[Will
you require anything, madam?]"
"[No, that will be all, thank you,]" Rogue replied,
handing him a generous tip. She and Archetype had decided
that, since she was fluent in French, she would be 'in charge'
while they were in France.
As the door shut, she leaned back, falling onto the bed,
and sighed. "I could get used to this."
"Should I start serving you breakfast in bed every day
when we get back to Salem Center?"
"Let me get back to you on that."
"I await with bated breath." He yawned. "I
think a nap is in order."
"Are you okay?" she asked with some concern.
"I'm fine. Last night drained me a little, that's all.
I just need a few hours sleep."
"I could stand a nap, myself. Here's an idea: we get
two or three hours sleep, then go out on the town."
"I can live with that. Actually, this way I can mix
with business with pleasure."
"You'll see. Do you want to factor in some shopping
"With a blank check? Are you kidding? Of course."
She waved him away. "Now scoot. I'm scheduled for a coma,
and you're making me late."
"Yes, ma'am," he replied, shooting her a
two-fingered salute. He shut the doors behind him as he left.
Rogue called the front desk for a wake-up call to be made
three hours later, then shut the curtains, stripped down to
her underwear, and settled underneath the covers with a contented
The ring of the telephone jarred her awake, and she fumbled
for the receiver. "H'lo?" she mumbled.
"[Hello, Miss O'Hara!]" a female voice
answered. The voice had the bright, cheerful quality that
makes most sleepy people want to reach through the phone line
and strangle the speaker. "[This is the wake-up call
which you requested!]"
"[Thank you,]" Rogue said as she put the receiver
back into the cradle. After thinking about the wisdom of the
whole thing for a few moments, she slid out of bed and stood
She started to reach for a bathrobe, but then decided that
if she could handle seeing Will nude, then he could handle
her in her underwear. She strode up to the doors, sliding
Archetype lay on his stomach, his breathing deep and regular.
His face was expressionless, and Rogue was amazed by how much
younger he looked when in repose.
"Archetype?" she asked softly. "Will? Are
"Now that's a question that simply can't be answered
yes," he replied. He opened his eyes as he turned over,
and cocked one eyebrow as he saw her. "My, my, aren't
we casual today."
"Hey, I saw you naked. I thought you deserved a free
"Did you hear me complaining? What time is it?"
"About four, local time. What's on the program?"
"That's up to you. You know Paris better than I do,
so you're calling the shots. Any idea if we're running too
late for the Louvre?"
She frowned. "I don't know. Like I said before, I haven't
been here in a while. Why don't we set that for tomorrow,
just to be safe?"
"Makes sense. Okay then, we let you bankrupt me for
a while, then we go eat. One hour?"
"I'll be ready in less than that."
He nodded. "Just let me shower and change."
As she showered, Rogue realized that she had undergone a
shift in her perceptions of Will. One of the idiosyncrasies
of the life which she chose to lead was that one often spent
months, or sometimes even years, being acquainted with people
whose real names you never knew, or never considered. She
had worked beside, and against, Pietro Maximoff many times,
for example, but she still thought of that name as the 'other'
name of Quicksilver. She, of course, had, for her own reasons,
gone by the name Rogue for almost as long as she could remember.
Her life before that name was a dim memory, one that she had
left behind her.
But the code names acted as a barrier, and the dropping of
them in casual conversation was often considered, in the rather
esoteric community that she and the other X-Men belonged to,
a form of intimacy, a willingness to avoid pretense. When
one thought of an individual by their real name first, it
meant that you had bonded with them in a special way. It was
a process, she remembered Kurt had once told her, similar
to the duzen process in German society, where one stopped
using the formal mode of address and shifted to the familiar
one. As she considered this, Rogue decided that she was glad
that this had happened in her relationship with Will, and
Forty-five minutes later, they were walking the streets of
Paris. Rogue was dressed in jeans and a blouse, since she
was planning on wearing what she brought out of the store.
Archetype was dressed in his usual grey tweed jacket and slacks,
with a white turtleneck and a black vest, to which he had
added a silver pocket watch. He had donned his hat as they
left the hotel.
"Do you have anywhere particular in mind?" he asked
"Not really. I'll just look in the windows. If I see
something that catches my eye, I'll go in."
"Let me see if I can find an English language local
"I'll get it," she offered as they passed by a
news stand. After she paid for the paper and handed it to
him, she asked, "is that to read while you're waiting
"It's either this or twiddle my thumbs. I'm not built
right for doing nothing. Does any of that clothing appeal
to you?" he asked, gesturing at a nearby window.
She looked for a moment. The clothing was stylish, but not
the ridiculously outrageous stuff that you saw on the runway
floor. "It's got potential," she admitted. "Let's
He opened the door for her as they entered. "Old-fashioned
gentleman, remember?" he commented as she looked at him.
She enjoyed herself for an hour or so, but decided to stay
conservative for the night, as he had mentioned that they
might be visiting some of his businesses. She saw no reason
to make Will undergo embarrassment among people whose respect
was essential. She finally settled on a velour evening gown
in a shade that matched the color of her hair, her black evening
gloves, and a choker with a green stone. "Well?"
she asked him. "How do I look?"
"Exquisite," he assured her. "Are you done?"
"I think I've done enough damage for one day. Let's
He nodded and handed a credit card to the attendant. After
he signed the receipt, they left and hailed a taxi. He gave
their destination to the driver, and fifteen minutes later,
they stepped out in front of the restaurant.
"'The Green Willow'?" Rogue asked, translating
the sign in the front.
"An Irish reference that most people wouldn't get."
The restaurant was designed in an open manner, and a small
fountain in the center bubbled pleasantly. Hanging plants
and trellises of ivy gave the impression of being in a garden,
and a large fireplace against one wall gave the place a homey
"Will!" a beefy man in a white tuxedo cried. He
was grinning, and embraced Will warmly. "How are you
doing, you scoundrel?"
"I'm great, Robby. May," he said, looking at Rogue
to indicate that he meant her, "This is Robert Brennan.
He and I went to the Culinary Academy together. Robby, Miss
"Charmed, Miss," he greeted her, shaking her gloved
hand warmly. "My condolences that you have to be saddled
with this old lump."
"Now don't start spreading tales, Robby," Will
"Oh, no Robby, do spread them, do!" she gushed.
"I like him!" she told Will.
"You would. How's business, Robby?" Will asked.
"Fantastic! I've had to expand the kitchen somewhat,
but other than that, it's been smooth as silk."
"How are the books?"
"We're up twenty percent over last year."
"When does the crowd come in?"
"Not for another two hours. Come on, sit down, both
of you!" He guided them to a table.
"What's the special tonight?" Will asked.
"Duck l'orange with stuffing and double-baked potatoes."
"Sounds good to me."
"Me too," Rogue added.
"Just give me a few minutes to warm up some bread, and
we'll get you started," Robby offered. "And yes,
Will, I know, olive oil for you, not butter."
"I'm surprised you remember," Will said with a
smile. "It has been three years, after all."
Robby shrugged. "You have a knack with money, I have
a good memory."
"And a talent for cooking," Will pointed out. "Why
do you think I hired you?"
"Because I have the blackmail photos. Back in a few."
He walked off to the kitchen.
"Blackmail photos?" Rogue asked.
"They'll never prove it. The girl was a professional
model, and we were doing an artistic rendering of the rites
of Pan. That's not what makes it a scandalous photo, though.
The details of the photo could ruin my culinary reputation."
"Why?" she asked, not believing a word.
"Because I'm eating a Quarter Pounder."
Robby waved Will's money aside as he tried to pay for the
meal. "Forget it. I owe you enough favors over the years
that I can spare you a free meal. How was it, by the way?
I want your professional opinion."
"It was delicious, Robby. But I have to admit, it was
a bit heavier than what I'm used to. The people I cook for
now are all health nuts, so I make my meals a bit lighter."
Robby nodded. "I can see that. The French like their
meals heavy. Just thank God we're not in Germany."
Archetype shuddered in mock horror. "By the way, how's
"He finishes his dissertation this semester. I'll tell
him you asked."
"Thanks. I'll give you a call in a few weeks. If you
need anything, let Jeff know. Ready, May?"
"All set. Thanks for the meal, Robby. Good luck!"
"Thanks, miss. Keep this wretch out of trouble."
"I'll try. Who's Jean-Paul?" she asked after they
"His lover. He's working on a sociology degree, as I
"You took that a lot better than I expected. Most people
would have done a double take, at least."
"That's right, you wouldn't know. My momma, Mystique,
"Really?" he said, raising an eyebrow. "I
guess that makes sense, in a way."
"What do you mean?"
"That's just my psychology background talking. I was
just thinking. Most mutant abilities manifest themselves in
"Well, what would the ability to be either male or female
at will do to someone's sexual identity? Which way would they
go, AC or DC? I think being bisexual would be the only rational
choice that biology could give someone who was a shapeshifter."
Rogue thought about it for a moment. "I never thought
about it that way. I'll avoid telling her that you said that."
She sighed. "Her lover, Destiny, died about two years
ago. She's been a bit sensitive on the subject since, and
if she heard that you'd said that, she might try to see just
how effective your healing abilities are."
Rogue dragged him into the nearest dance club that she could
find, and tried to get him to join her on the floor. "Come
on! I want to see how well you can dance!" she told him
over the din of the music.
"Rogue," he said falteringly, "I'm not very
comfortable with this... I'd like to go back outside, please..."
He was suddenly nervous, his eyes darting around the room,
hesitant and wary.
"Oh, no," she replied, not noticing his distress
in her enthusiasm. "I'm getting at least one dance out
of you this trip!" She continued to drag him into the
crowd, holding the sleeve of his jacket.
"I said no!" he half shouted, slipping out
of his jacket and moving back outside as fast he could without
actually pushing people out of the way.
Rogue looked at him for a moment, holding the jacket in one
hand, then folded it over one arm and followed him.
She found him outside the club, leaning against the wall.
He was breathing heavily, and his face was covered in sweat.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" she asked him.
He regained his composure and looked at her. "Ororo
is a claustrophobe, right?"
"Yeah. What does that have to do with you?"
"I'm an ocolophobe. Being in a crowd sends me into a
"Add to that the fact that I get psychic backwash from
all the people in there, and you can see why I was a little
uncomfortable. I'm sorry. I should have warned you."
"That's okay. Are you all right?"
He nodded. "I just have to catch my breath. You wanted
to dance, right?"
"Look, we don't have to if it makes you uncomfortable..."
"I've got a compromise."
They found a small pawnshop a few blocks away, where Will
bought a portable stereo with a CD player. A quick trip to
an all-night store produced a largish stack of CDs that they
could agree upon. They hailed another taxi and returned to
"Any preferences for the first album?" he asked
her as they entered their suite.
"How about the 10,000 Maniacs one?" she suggested
as she kicked off her shoes.
"Your wish is my command." He popped the disc into
the player, then fiddled with the volume a bit. In a moment,
"Noah's Dove" emanated from the speakers. "That
"Actually, it's a little quiet. Your hearing is
sharp, isn't it?"
He nodded. "That's another reason I had to leave the
club early. The sound was hurting my ears." He turned
to her. "May I have the honor of this dance, miss?"
"Well, since you asked nicely..."
They were both wearing gloves, and the fact that Will was
wearing a long-sleeved shirt with a high collar made Rogue
a little daring, resting her head against his shoulder. "You
smell good," she noted.
"Thank you. So do you. What's that perfume, by the way?"
"Erin Mist. I got it while we were in Dublin."
"They misnamed it. It should be called Criminal Assault."
"I take it you like it."
"You could say that."
They slow danced through Natalie Merchant's low voice. As
the final notes of "I'm Not the Man" faded away,
"Do you want me to change the disc?" Will asked.
"No," she said softly. "Let's just stay like
this for a while, okay?"
"Whatever you say."
Just how long they stood, there, silent, Rogue wasn't sure,
but after a time, she stepped back from Will, looking at him
with affection. "Thanks. You have no idea how much I
"Why are you being so nice to me?" she asked him
"What do you mean?"
"Let's sit down," she said. After they had planted
themselves in the large couch, she looked at him thoughtfully
for a few moments. "I hope I'm not about to insult you
with what I'm about to ask."
"What's that?" he asked.
"As old-fashioned as the question seems, what are your
intentions towards me?"
He raised an eyebrow. "Well, that's direct enough,
isn't it?" He pursed his lips for a moment, lost in thought.
"I like you, Rogue," he said. "I like you
a lot. I'm very glad that you came along. If I'd made this
trip on my own, I probably would have just stayed in Ireland
for a week, gone crazy from boredom, then headed back to New
York, and would be in even worse shape than I was when I left.
Being around you is good for me."
"Why?" she asked curiously.
"You help me find a focus for my energy. Without a focus,
I tend to be off in all directions at once, never settling
down. I couldn't have asked for a more pleasant traveling
"Would I be interested in making our relationship something
more... intense? Yes, I would. That is, if you're not opposed,"
he added hastily.
"If you're asking me if I'm opposed to our becoming
boyfriend and girlfriend," Rogue, said, trying to stifle
a laugh, "then the answer's no. You really picked a roundabout
way of getting there, though."
"Blame it on my literary background," he said,
smiling. "I can say absolutely nothing in a hundred words
They spent the next three days making the rounds of the usual
Parisian landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral,
and the Louvre. They also visited the Rodin Museum at Will's
insistence. Rogue spent quite a bit of time looking at The
Kiss. "You like this one?" Will asked her.
She nodded. "I've always liked this one. I've never
been one for modern art, but this is an exception."
"Rodin worked in the period back when modern art was
striving to mean something, before it went totally gaga. We'll
get a folio on the way out."
"Thanks. What's next?"
"I think we'll settle our bill at the hotel and get
going for Brussells. We really have been gone a while, and
we ought to get back to the mansion."
"Yeah," she sighed, "you're right. Shouldn't
we get some more souvenirs for the others?"
"Good idea. Any suggestions?"
"I don't know. Let's just window shop and see what we
After two or three hours, they decided that they had gathered
enough trinkets to give the other X-Men, and went back to
the hotel to pack and check out. "Can you ask the manager
to call our bellhop over?" he asked as they descended
to the lobby.
A few minutes later, the young man was hurrying to the front
desk. "[Yes, Madam?]"
"[We wanted to thank you for your excellent service,]"
Rogue told him, as Will handed him a large tip.
"[Thank you, sir!]" he replied.
Will nodded, smiling, and he and Rogue went outside to hail
a taxi to the airport.
They spent less than a day in Belgium. Most of their time
was spent in confectionery shops, where Will spent ridiculous
amounts of money on candy. "I give some of this to my
business contacts," he explained.
"Thank God. We'd have to roll you around the mansion
if you ate all of this."
"Be nice. Our flight back's in four hours. Would you
rather see the town or get some rest?"
"Why don't we find a café and eat up? I'm not looking
forward to more airline food."
"I can't argue with that. By the way, what do you want
to tell the others when we get back?"
"Let's just tell them the truth: that we've decided
to become an item."
"Cyclops might have some problems with that," he
pointed out. "He still doesn't trust me, you know."
"We'll deal with Scott when we get to him. Now let's
As they walked around, looking for a restaurant, Will stopped
at a florist's street cart and purchased a white rose, which
he handed to Rogue. "For you, my dear," he said
with a florid bow as he handed it to her, "because I
like you." Rogue just smiled and took it with a curtsey,
bringing it to her nose and holding it close to her face.
"Could you get me a pillow again?" Rogue asked
as they boarded the plane.
"Sure. You going to sleep all the way back?"
"I just might. I want to shift my body clock back to
New York time. How about you?"
"I'll just read. I'll sleep when we get back home."
"I was wondering when you'd slip up," she said,
"You just called the mansion 'home'. You really are
one of us now."
He smiled slowly. "I guess I am now, aren't I? Get to
sleep, beautiful. I'll wake you when we're there."
Rogue closed her eyes and nodded off, still smiling.
A few hours later, she moved in her sleep, resting her head
against Will's shoulder. He looked at her, smiled, closed
his book, and turned off the light.
Continued in Chapter
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