THE ARCHETYPE ASSOCIATION
Will spent most of the next morning in training with Xavier
and Jean, attempting to devise psychic defenses which would
best make use of his unique situation. The effort was frustrating
for all of them, and left Will with a splitting headache.
Rogue had decided to go shopping with Betsy that afternoon,
so Will chose to continue his independent study into the history
of the X-Men. He made himself a pot of tea, then descended
to the War Room and placed himself in one of the seats at
the Annotation Secretarial Terminal.
Henry had, once Will had expressed an interest in the subject,
compiled a general history of the X-Men, which gave the various
missions, with historical background information, in a generally
chronological order. The program was designed to run as a
multimedia event, providing as much or as little detail as
Will desired. It was also designed to turn itself off after
an hour, since experimentation had determined that to be the
longest amount of time that Will could spend around the computers
without his powers putting them at risk.
"All right," Will said to himself, as he took down
notes, "Morlock Massacre. Injured X-Men were Shadowcat,
Nightcrawler, and Colossus, now all in Excalibur. New Mutants
had one casualty, Cypher. X-Factor, pre-Fed, lost Warren."
He paused, sipping at his tea. "Computer, if Angel was
injured in Morlock massacre, explain current status as X-Man.
Is his current condition the result of a new mutation?"
"Negative. Current physical status of Angel result
of genetic manipulation by Apocalypse."
Will paused a moment. That name meant something to him, but
he couldn't quite place it. "Please show visual record
The computer complied, placing the image on the largest screen.
Will froze, staring at the viewscreen. The next thing he
knew, he was being shaken gently by Logan.
"Hey, you okay? You spaced out on us there."
Will shook his head, trying to clear it. "How long?"
"At least an hour."
Will looked thoughtful for a moment. He touched the teapot.
It was cold. He glanced at the monitor, then got up and left
the room, not saying a word.
Rogue and Betsy came back about two hours later, loaded down
with shopping bags. "You think Warren'll like that nightie
you bought?" Rogue asked Betsy as she shut the door.
"I'll think he'll find some way to show his appreciation,"
she replied with a smile.
"Rogue?" Bobby's voice echoed from the kitchen.
"Is that you?" He entered the foyer, his face concerned.
"You'd better look in on Will."
"We don't know. He was going over the historical files,
and Wolvie says he zoned out for a while. When Wolvie shook
him out of it, he just got up and went straight to bed. 'Roro
and me tried to get him to talk to us, but all he does is
lie there in the dark."
"Will? Are you okay?"
"Please go away, Rogue. I'd like to be alone for a little
"Not until you tell me what happened. You've got everybody
"I'm touched," he said sarcastically.
"Hey, you're the one who wanted a family. Now you have
to put up with nosy relatives." She switched on the light.
He snarled at the sudden illumination. "You're not going
to let this lie, are you?"
He exhaled. "Give me a minute to get dressed."
"Okay," she said, leaning against the wall.
"Why bother? I've seen you naked before."
"You have?" Ororo asked, raising an eyebrow
as she walked in.
"Gee, thanks, Rogue," Will said dryly. "Why
don't we post it to the Internet?"
"Post what?" Bobby asked as he walked by.
"What is this, 'A Night at the Opera'!?"
"Well, we could invite everybody else in if you want..."
"Out. Out! Out!"
"We want you downstairs in five minutes," Ororo
said as she shut the door. Will could only make a strangled
noise in return.
"How'd you know that would work?" Bobby asked Rogue
as they went downstairs.
Rogue gave him a sneaky little smile. "He may not want
to talk with us, but he wants to have all of the X-Men in
his bedroom even less."
Five minutes later, Will was in pajamas and a robe and sitting
in the parlor with the rest of the team.
"This is going to take me a while to explain. A lot
of what happened to me took place at an intuitive, gut level."
"Take your time," Xavier said.
"That's what I was trying to do when I was shanghaied
down here," he grumbled. "I'm still sorting through
"Start at the beginning," Jean suggested.
"I've got a feeling that the beginning of this started
about four thousand years ago, Jean."
"Right." He leaned back a bit in the chair. "While
I was healing on my mountain..."
"I've been meaning to ask you about that," Warren
interrupted. "Why do you call it your mountain?"
"Because I bought the land as soon as I had enough money.
Now you woke me up for this. Do you want to hear it or not?"
Will's mood had obviously not improved.
"While I was there, on the floor of my cabin, my mind
drifted all over the place. I heard everything from conversations
between five-year olds to Gregorian chants. There didn't seem
to be any rhyme or reason to it, except for certain times
when an emotion and an image converged." He tossed a
printout of Apocalypse's face onto the table. "That
"What was the emotion?" Henry asked.
"Calling it hatred would be generous."
"But you've never actually seen Apocalypse before
today?" Scott asked.
"Never. But when I saw that picture, it felt like someone
wrapped a fist around my heart and gave it a good squeeze."
His face was grim.
"What do you think this means, Will?" Xavier asked.
"I don't know yet. I'll have to chew on it a bit more."
"So you can reason it out?"
"I don't think reason will have much to do with my answer.
It's been my experience that most of the answers that I get
are irrational, but true anyway." He yawned. "Can
I go back to bed now?"
"Aren't you hungry?"
"Not really. I'll warn you now, I plan to stay asleep
until I figure this out."
Xavier frowned. "We'll wake you if I think you're going
too far, or if there's an emergency."
"Fair enough." He winked out.
"Well?" Xavier asked everyone there.
"I'm worried about him," Rogue confessed. "This
is a side of him I haven't seen before."
"I think we're starting to see that dark side that he
keeps talking about," Betsy commented.
"I think you're right," Scott conceded. "Does
that make him too dangerous?"
"I don't think so," Ororo said. "He hasn't
been violent without cause, and he seems to be aware enough
of what his emotions are. So far, he's only been aggressive
when he's been threatened."
"I know I would've been a lot tougher on that guy who
shot him than he was," Logan agreed.
"We might want to keep an eye on him when he wakes up,"
Jean advised. "He may take a day or two to get back to
the real world."
In fact, it took three days. Will had closed the shutters
and drawn the shades, so no light entered his room. He woke
up at two in the morning on the second day, put on some pajamas
and a robe, and plodded down to the kitchen.
To his surprise, Rogue was there, her back to him, scrounging
through the cabinets. She was wearing a light blue pair of
"Found anything edible?" he asked.
"Give me a minute," Rogue replied, not turning
around. Then she stopped for a moment, and looked behind her
shoulder. "I wasn't expecting you up yet."
"I just wanted a bite to eat. I'll be going back to
bed soon. What were you having?"
"I haven't decided yet."
"How about a sandwich?"
"Are you making it?"
He shrugged. "No problem." A few minutes later,
he had assembled a pair of massive roast beef and turkey sandwiches.
"Have you figured out what happened?"
"I've got one or two theories, but nothing concrete."
"This is really bothering you, isn't it?"
He nodded. "I know it's important, but I don't know
what to do about it."
"Why not leave it alone? Just let events take care of
He thought about it for a moment. "That's good advice,
actually. I've been so active since I got here, maybe it would
be a good idea to relax for a while."
"What are you going to be doing, then?"
"I'll act as if it never happened. I can't do anything
about it yet, so I'm not going to strain my brain." He
finished his sandwich and sat up, putting the plate in the
sink. "I'll see you in a day or two. Good night."
"Night. No, wait," she said as he started to leave.
"Can we talk for a while?"
He sat back down, waiting, one eyebrow arched.
"I need to know some things about you," she said
"What were you like... before?"
"Before everything happened?" She nodded.
He became thoughtful. "All I really have is random bits
of memory, and the emotional impressions that go with them.
I do remember that I wasn't a very happy man. I think that
I was lonely... depressed. I was very timid. I didn't assert
myself. I was cold, impersonal. I buried myself in my work.
Does that help at all?"
"Were you ever in love?"
"Not that I recall. I think that I'd remember something
like that. I don't think I dated much, if at all. I was too
He shrugged. "I'm still shy. Do you have any idea how
much courage it took me to ask you out? You're an intimidating
woman, you know."
"I was terrified you'd laugh in my face."
"I'd never do that."
"I know that now. I didn't then."
"Why did I seem intimidating?"
"I looked a lot different when I was younger. I was
your typical pencil neck geek. Girls may as well have been
from another planet. The fact that I hated crowds didn't help.
I couldn't go to parties the sort of thing you go to
in college nowadays would send me into a panic attack. By
the time I got out of the awkward stage, my reaction around
women was to clam up and try to blend in with the wallpaper.
If you and I had run into one another back then, I would have
turned six shades of red if you so much as said a word to
He gave her an ironic smile. "Believe it or not, I'm
still intimidated by you."
"Because, my dear, you are the most beautiful creature
I have ever seen, and I'm surprised that you haven't left
a trail of broken-hearted men in your wake."
Rogue blushed at the compliment. "You didn't see me
when I first came to the X-Men."
"You looked different then?"
"Let me get a picture. I'll be right back." She
walked over to the gallery and removed a photo from the wall.
"That's what I looked like when I first joined,"
she said as she handed it to him.
"Your hair is different," he noted. "What's
Rogue became embarrassed. "That was one of my dumber
moves." Seeing his confused expression, she continued.
"I was born with my hair like this," she said, as
she twisted a piece of her white forelock in her fingers.
"I got teased so much about it, though, that I covered
it with dye until I was twelve."
"One day, I saw a picture of Stephen Strange
Doctor Strange. His hair had natural white streaks that I
thought looked a lot better than anything I had, so I bleached
my hair to look like his. I let it go back to the single streak
later, after I joined the X-Men, because I realized how silly
I was being about the whole thing."
"When did you go back to your natural colors?"
"Not until the Savage Land. It started curling once
I let it go long, so I just decided to stick with what I'd
been born with."
"Well, I think you look fabulous with what nature has
She smiled shyly. "Thanks. I'd better get back to bed,"
she decided, glancing at the clock. "I've got a Danger
Room session at eight."
"I need to get back to sleep, too. I want to be back
on duty tomorrow if I can." He shut off the light as
they left the kitchen.
"Do you think you're ready?" she asked him quietly
as they ascended the stairs.
"I'm not sure, but I know I can't let this throw me
"Please promise me that you'll talk about it if you
have any problems."
"I promise. Good night."
As she readied for bed, Rogue reviewed their conversation
in her mind. She recalled his portrayal of her as intimidating.
That was a word that she had never considered descriptive
of herself. She rolled the word around in her mind a few times,
smiling naughtily as she drifted into sleep.
When Will woke up again, he seemed to be rather irritated
for some reason. "I want to be pushed to my limit on
this test," he told Xavier as he walked into the Danger
"Are you sure about that?"
"I've been a lump for the past four days. I need a real
"All right. Give us a few minutes to come up with something."
Xavier switched off the intercom, then looked at Henry and
Ororo, who were there to observe. "Any ideas?" he
Ororo thought about it for a moment. "We've done a thorough
job of testing him physically. I think we should start looking
for psychological weaknesses."
"Not a bad idea," Henry agreed. "Where should
"Rogue told me that he's an ocolaphobe. Why don't we
surround him - slowly, of course - and see how he reacts?"
"Good idea." Henry entered a series of commands
into the computer, then switched the intercom back on. "This
will be a test of your combat skills only. No powers, please.
Just take down your opponents. Destructive force is allowed."
Will nodded his understanding and pulled his sword from the
air. Henry executed the program, and three humaniform dummies,
mounted on wheels so that they could move around, rose from
the floor. This particular model, an improvement on an earlier
design, had articulated limbs which gave them the ability
to attack and the equivalent strength of a human bodybuilder.
"Here's what we'll do," Xavier told Ororo and Henry.
"We're going to slowly increase his number of opponents,
then we'll add in visual and audio distractions, while cornering
him at the same time. That ought to get some kind of reaction
out of him."
"Don't push him too far," Ororo cautioned. "I
don't want a repeat of what happened when he fought Logan."
"Session beginning now," Henry said.
The robots started moving in for an attack. In the space
of two seconds, Will struck the head from one, then sliced
the arms off the others.
"Is it just me," Henry mused as he observed, "or
does this seem familiar?"
"Increasing to five," Xavier announced as more
robots arose from the floor.
Will became a bit more inventive this time. As the robots
sped towards him, he simply pushed them into one another and
severed their hydraulic lines with his sword, causing them
to short out and leaving a large pile of metal on the floor.
"Seven." Xavier said. "Adding distractions."
A series of small, high-intensity spotlights emerged from
the walls, shining randomly. At the same time, the general
lighting of the room dimmed, making it harder for Will to
see his opponents. Meanwhile, the pressor fields created sounds
of gunfire, screaming, and yelling.
"That spooked him," Henry noted, observing Will's
"He recovered pretty quickly, though" Ororo replied.
"Charles, are you getting anything from him?"
"He's off-balance, but he's not panicking yet."
"Time to heighten the pressure, then. Increase the temperature
to thirty degrees, and add another ten opponents. We'll try
to herd him into a corner."
Will was slowly pushed back by the robots towards the far
corner of the room. His attacks became more frantic, affecting
the robots randomly, in stark contrast to the methodical steps
he had taken earlier in the exercise.
He was finally pushed back to the corner, where he flattened
against the wall. He looked frantically for a way out, finding
Henry, who had been monitoring Will's medical signs, suddenly
gasped. "Get down!" he barked, doing so himself,
grabbing Xavier on the way to the floor.
Ororo hit the floor as soon as she heard Henry, covering
her head with her arms.
Later, when they talked with each other about the experience,
they would have trouble coming up with words to describe it.
They all got the sudden feeling, however, that things were
not as they should have been - that there was a wrongness
to the event.
A wave of nausea gripped Ororo, and she clamped down on her
mouth to avoid vomiting. The sensation quickly passed, however,
and she stood up a minute later. "Are you both all right?"
she asked Henry and Xavier.
They both nodded weakly. Henry struggled up to the window.
"Oh my stars and garters," he whispered.
"What is it, Hank?" Xavier asked as he maneuvered
his chair to an upright position.
"I think you'd better see for yourself, Charles."
Xavier and Ororo made their way to the window. The room was
a shambles. Pieces of the computers which made up the walls
of the Danger Room had exploded, leaving small holes scattered
over the usually white walls and giving the room a pockmarked
appearance. The robots had been hurled against the wall below
them, resulting in a pile of junk.
Will was still leaning against the opposite wall. His face
was white, and his breathing was heavy and erratic. As he
wiped his brow, they could see that his hands were shaking.
His face had the look of a frightened child.
"Henry, see to him," Xavier said in a businesslike
Henry made no reply, but instead leaped out of the room and
entered the elevator. When he hit the button to go down, sparks
flew out of the panel, causing Henry to curse under his breath.
"We'll have to pop the window," he said.
He and Ororo went back to the viewport and peeled off the
polymer lining which framed it. Pushing on the bottom of the
window caused it to pivot out on its hinges, giving both Henry
and Ororo enough room to jump out. Ororo lowered them down
on a gust of wind.
They approached Will slowly, taking care not to panic him.
"Will," Henry said quietly, "are you all right?"
Will didn't answer him. His eyes were staring into space,
not seeing either of them.
"Let me try," Ororo suggested. She crouched down,
looking straight into his eyes. He didn't seem to see her.
"Will, it's Ororo. Are you all right?"
He glanced at her nervously, then, with a visible effort,
brought himself under control. "Yes," he said, as
he stood up and straightened his clothing, "I'm fine,
thank you. Is the test complete?"
"Yes, it is," Xavier said from above them. "I
want Hank to give you a checkup, though."
"Fine." He walked out of the Danger Room, with
Henry right behind him.
"I wasn't able to do an EKG scan because of his disruption
field," Henry told Xavier later, "but a blood analysis
showed extremely high levels of adrenaline. I think that what
happened was some sort of instinctive reaction to being trapped."
"I agree," Xavier said. "Anything else?"
"He had some minor cuts and scrapes, but that was it."
"Where is he now?"
"I believe he went outside."
It was Bobby's turn for perimeter duty, and he made a game
of it as usual, tossing snowballs at anything that looked
like a likely target. He sauntered along, whistling to himself
as he entered the woods which bordered the lake.
As he wound his way through the trees, he created six snowballs,
juggling them with the ease of long practice. Bobby had been
taught juggling by Nightcrawler, and liked to keep his skills
He became more daring as he continued, tossing them higher
and higher until they went up into the trees. After long practice,
he had reached the point where he could send all six balls
into the air, then catch them without breaking stride. He
waited for them to come down.
Bobby frowned, thinking that they must have stuck to something
up in the tree. He wandered under the tree for a few moments,
trying to get a better view, but the thick leaves prevented
that. Finally, he iced up and ascended into the tree on an
Will was comfortably settled in one of the larger branches
of the tree, a writing pad balanced on one knee. He had a
small lunch hanging from a bag next to him. The snowballs
had been placed on another branch.
"What are you doing up here?" Bobby asked.
"Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits."
Bobby thought about that a moment. "I know I've heard
that somewhere before."
"I saw it on a poster once when I was in college."
Will nodded. "I just needed to be alone for a little
while." He placed the pad and pencil in the bag and jumped
out of the tree. "I have to get started on dinner."
"Dinner's not for five hours," Bobby protested.
"I'm making chili. That takes a while."
"Oh. How hot do you make it?"
"Let's just say that you don't want to be in your ice
form while you're eating it."
Ororo entered the kitchen two hours later, attracted by an
intriguing smell. "What are you making?" she asked
"Chili," he replied as he cut up some onions and
peppers. "And there's bread in the oven."
Ororo peeked into the oven. "That's quite a bit of bread."
"I'm going to hollow them out and use them as serving
bowls for the chili. Less mess to clean up later."
He shrugged. "Elementary."
"Can I help with anything?"
"There's some cheese on the top drawer of the refrigerator.
Could you pull out the food processor and shred it?"
"Certainly." A few moments later, Ororo was chopping
the cheese into manageable blocks. "Will?" she asked
after a few minutes.
"May I ask you a question?"
"Rogue told me that you serve the Goddess. Is that true?"
He looked at her and nodded. "Yes, it's true. Why?"
"Were you raised to believe in her?"
He shook his head. "No. I was raised Catholic, actually.
But I never really believed in any of it."
"I don't understand."
Will looked thoughtful as he stirred the vegetables into
the pot. "Did you ever get the feeling that a situation
that you were in was just wrong? Well, not entirely
wrong, but just wrong for you?"
She thought about it a moment. "Yes. I was once trapped
in a world that was full of life, but had no soul. I always
felt that there was something... hollow about that place."
"That was the Adversary's world, right?"
"Well, Catholic school was a lot like that for me. I
just couldn't bring myself to believe that what I was being
taught was the truth. I decided that it might work for everybody
else, but it didn't work for me. Once I graduated, and stopped
being surrounded by nuns and priests eight hours a day, I
started doing some research into my Irish heritage. Once I
started that, I eventually learned about Celtic paganism,
and that eventually led me to Wicca. That was when I discovered
something that was very important to me."
"That Wicca was what I had always believed. I
just didn't have a word to describe it before."
Ororo nodded. "I think I can understand that. I had
what one might call a personal experience with the Goddess
when I was a young girl."
"You did?" Will asked, raising one eyebrow.
"Would you mind describing it? If it isn't too personal,"
he amended hastily.
"Not at all," she replied, as she placed the cheese
back in the refrigerator. She sat down, thinking back. "What
do you know of my life before the X-Men?"
"Not much. I'm still working on the history of the team.
I don't want to get into individual histories until I'm done
"I will keep this brief, then. I was orphaned as a child,
and lived on the streets of Cairo as a thief for several years.
Eventually, I wandered down to Kenya, where I was adopted
by my mother's tribe, who thought me a goddess."
"Because of your appearance?" he guessed.
"Yes. I resembled their goddess so closely that it was
uncanny." She stopped for a moment, frowning. "Let
me rephrase that. They considered me an earthly manifestation
of the Goddess. As my mutant powers developed, I realized
that along with them went a awareness of the state of the
environment around me. I could feel the health of the
"In any case, it was a custom among the tribe that a
young woman, soon after menarche, would go up into the hills
to speak with the Goddess as an initiation into womanhood.
Because of my importance to the tribe, my initiation was a
highly anticipated event.
"The initiation was preceded by a three-day period of
fasting and meditation, intended to purify the body and spirit.
I went into the hills, and sat on the top of the highest point,
staring at the stars.
"I have never been certain of just how long I stood
there, waiting. Even to this day, I am not sure that I expected
anything to happen. After a while, I suppose that I became
bored and anxious. I gazed up at the full moon. I can still
remember my exact words: 'Great Mother, Bright Lady of the
earth and air, heed thy daughter's call!'"
"And to my amazement... she did."
"What did you see?" he asked her in a quiet voice.
"The most beautiful woman I have ever seen, before or
since. Her hair was the silver of the moon, and her skin was
flawlessly smooth, unweathered by the elements. Her eyes held
a timeless wisdom and love that I have not experienced since.
"When I came back down, the villagers could see in my
eyes what had happened. From that day on, I became a protector
of the lands, sending rain whenever the crops risked failure.
I remained in that role until Charles approached me and asked
me to join the X-Men.
"And now and then," she said to herself, "I
wonder if I made the right decision."
Will looked at her for a moment. "I envy you, Ororo.
You were gifted with something that I've tried to attain for
ten years now.
"One of the disadvantages of my powers is that serenity
is not something that I can attain easily. My mind bounces
around so much that I can't gain sufficient balance to meditate
properly. I've wondered just how much more I might be able
to accomplish if I could focus properly." He glanced
back at the pot, then went to the cupboard, removing some
spices, which he added to the chili. "We'll just let
that simmer for an hour or two." He stood there for a
moment, thinking, then straightened up. "The full moon
will be next week. I usually hold a private worship service,
and I was planning on going to one of the places that I own
that night, so that I wouldn't disturb anybody else. You're
more than welcome to join me if you wish."
"I would be honored, but you don't have to leave,"
Ororo informed him. "We will all respect your privacy.
If you ask Charles, I am sure that he will allow you to hold
your service in the gardens."
"I'll think about it." He opened the oven. "These
are ready." He grabbed a pair of oven mitts and removed
the loaves. "They should be cool by dinnertime."
Dinner was attended by most of the residents of the mansion,
since the aroma from the chili had attracted most of them
at one point or another. Will had hollowed out the loaves,
poured in the chili, and placed the tops back on as lids,
placing the cores beside them on the plates. The cheese was
placed in the center of the table, and pitchers of water and
milk were at the ends.
Bobby dug right in. "I want to see if this stuff is
as hot as you say it is," he told Will.
Will poured a glass of milk and handed it to Warren. "Could
you pass this down to him, please? I give him about ten seconds."
Bobby's face turned a shade of red that none of them had
ever seen before. He grabbed the glass from Warren and gulped
it down. "What did you put in this stuff!?" he exclaimed.
"Oh, the usual - dragon fire, lava, brimstone."
Logan ate with relish. "Haven't tasted chili this good
in a while," he complimented Will.
"Thanks. Think it rates a six-alarm rating?"
"I'd give it a five."
"Everybody's a critic," Will sniffed.
After everyone else had sufficiently cauterized their taste
buds, they came to the conclusion that the meal was quite
good. Afterwards, Henry and Logan took care of the dishes.
Will flopped into an easy chair in the parlor and stretched.
Rogue sat next to him a minute later. "You feeling any
better?" she asked him.
"I'm not as anxious as I was before, if that's what
"Good. Are you up to doing anything tonight?"
"I thought we could rent a movie."
"Sounds good to me. I assume you have a membership somewhere
"There's a place in town. I'll drive."
They stood among the various offerings of the video store.
"Okay," Will asked, "do we see something new,
or a classic?"
"Let's go with something older. How about Gone With
"A bit too sappy for my taste. What about Spartacus?
I'm a Kirk Douglas fan."
"Let's make that your choice. I want a romantic movie."
"We'll get three, then. I'm off duty tomorrow, anyway.
Here's one," he said, handing a tape box to her.
"The Princess Bride? Kurt's been telling me about
this movie for years, but I haven't gotten around to seeing
"Romance, comedy, and adventure, all in one."
"Sounds good. What's the third one, then?"
"How about Casablanca?"
"Ooh, I love that movie!"
"Well, then, sweetheart," Will said in an awful
impression of Humphrey Bogart, "next time we can look
for the black bird."
"Don't quit your day job."
When they got back to the mansion, they found that the television
was being used by Logan and Bishop. Logan was watching The
Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and trying to answer Bishop's
incessant questions about the historical setting at the same
time. "We'll never pry them away from there," Will
"That's okay," Rogue replied. "I have a TV
and VCR in my room. Come on." She started up the stairs.
Will simply raised one eyebrow and followed her.
Rogue dug her TV/VCR combo from the closet and placed it
on her hope chest. "Which do you want to see first?"
she asked him.
"Your room, your TV, your choice."
"The Princess Bride it is, then." She popped
the tape in and sat up against the header of the bed. She
noticed that Will hadn't moved. "What's wrong?"
He looked around the room. "Where do I sit?"
"Right next to me, silly."
"Isn't that a little risky? I mean, with your powers?"
She looked at him pointedly as she kicked off her shoes.
"Will, you haven't been anything less than a perfect
gentleman since the day I met you. I don't think that's going
to change. We're both wearing gloves and long-sleeved shirts.
If I'm not worried, you shouldn't be."
He thought about that a moment, then nodded. "Fair enough."
He removed his shoes and sat down next to her, stretching
out his legs. Rogue gestured with the remote and the movie
Since she had never seen it before, the various perils of
Wesley and Buttercup kept her entranced, while Senor Montoya,
Fezzig, Prince Humperdinck, Miracle Max and the Man in Black
kept her in stitches, and the duel between Montoya and Wesley
floored her. "No wonder Kurt loves this movie. That's
the best sword fight scene I've ever seen," she said
at the end.
"Remind me to rent The Court Jester next time.
You liked it?"
"It was great. Which one next?"
"Let's watch Casablanca next. It's getting late,
so we'll watch the other one tomorrow."
"I'll switch tapes."
Rogue had always seen Casablanca on television before,
so watching it without incessant commercial breaks was new
to her. She had sat back on the bed a bit lower than before,
and after a few minutes, she decided to take a risk. "Will?"
"Would you mind if I moved a little bit?"
"Of course not."
She paused the movie for a moment, then moved so that she
was leaning back onto Will, her body positioned between his
legs. She lay back slightly, her head resting against his
chest. She took his right hand in hers and held it loosely.
"That's better," she sighed as she started the movie
Will said nothing. He had decided back in Paris to allow
her to control the direction of their relationship, seeing
immediately that she was nervous about any sort of intimacy.
He was glad to see that she had relaxed enough around him
to be able to instigate a degree of casual contact. He smiled
and turned his attention to the movie.
As the closing credits rolled, he squeezed Rogue's hand lightly.
"What did you think?"
He didn't get an answer. "Rogue?" he asked.
After a moment, he heard the soft sound of her snoring. He
gently disengaged her hand from his, then slowly moved his
body out from underneath hers, trying to disturb her as little
as possible. He quietly put the TV back in the closet, then
opened the chest and removed a blanket, which he draped over
her. He looked at her a moment, his eyes soft, then put his
gloved fingertips to his lips and placed them on her forehead.
He picked up his shoes and the tapes, then left her room,
closing the door behind him.
"Sweet dreams," he whispered just before shutting
Continued in Chapter
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