THE ARCHETYPE ASSOCIATION
Will dropped the bags containing his uniform onto the table
of the motel room as he, Rogue, and Henry entered. "Are
you going to need the bathroom for anything, Hank?"
"No. I'm just going to check on the condition of her
shoulder. It should only take a few minutes."
Will nodded. "Just let me know when you're done."
He closed the bathroom door behind him. A moment later, the
bathroom fan activated as he turned on the light.
Henry put on some rubber gloves as Rogue removed her shirt
and sat in a chair, flipping it around so that she faced the
back. She held still and followed Henry's instructions, stretching
out her arm and rotating her shoulder. "It doesn't hurt
the same way it did before," she noted.
"More stiff than sore, right?" She nodded. "That's
probably because you were sleeping in one position for so
long. I'd advise a shower. Make it as hot as you can stand
and stay under it for a long time. That should loosen up the
"Okay. Anything else?" she asked as she put her
shirt back on.
"I think I'm going to ask Will to help out by applying
some therapeutic massage to the area. It was Jean's idea,"
he said upon seeing the look Rogue gave him. "Since Will
still blames himself, to some degree, for your injury, assisting
you in your recovery may be of some help psychologically."
He stepped over to the bathroom door and tapped on it lightly.
"Not a bad idea," she conceded. "But we didn't
bring a dampening collar."
"For what?" Will asked as he stepped out of the
Henry outlined his therapy plans for Rogue, tactfully glossing
over the aspects which applied to Will. "Do you foresee
Will considered it for a moment. "No. Do you think a
sitting or prone position would be more effective? If she's
lying down, I could apply a bit more pressure."
"Good point. Use the prone position. Actually, if you
do it that way, you could use a bed sheet as a barrier. You
wouldn't have to wear gloves."
Will pressed his hands against the mattress of the bed nearest
to him. "I think the mattress is firm enough that we
can use the bed instead of the floor."
Henry nodded. "I'm going to bed. I've still got eyestrain
"Try putting a warm washcloth over your eyes for a few
minutes," Will suggested. "That usually helps me
a bit when I feel like my eyes are about to fall out of my
head and roll across the floor."
"I'll give it a shot. Good night."
"Mind if I hit the shower first?" Will asked after
Henry had left. "I'll be in and out, and then you can
use as much of the hot water as you want."
"Okay," she agreed. "What will you wear once
you get out?"
He frowned. "I didn't even think about that. I'll knock
on Stephen's door and see if he can conjure up an extra outfit
or two for me. Be right back."
"Do you have anything particular in mind?" Strange
asked him a minute later.
Will thought for a moment. "How about a powder blue
denim shirt, black jeans, and black Rockports? These boots
are starting to hurt."
"All right," Strange agreed. "I'll add a few
pairs of briefs, some white socks, and some plain T-shirts.
Do navy, grey, and black sound good?"
"Perfect. Could you give them pockets?"
"No problem. I think that maroon pajamas will work,
and we'll make the robe navy blue."
"You have very good fashion sense, Stephen."
"I've been conjuring up my own clothes for years. You
pick up a knack for it after a while. Let Rogue know that
I'll whip up a few outfits for her if she likes."
"And take away the pleasure of shopping? Perish the
"Nice outfit," Rogue said as Will walked out of
the bathroom, dressed in the pajamas.
"Thanks. I like the color, actually. Stephen made a
good choice. You can use one of the T-shirts as a nightshirt
if you want." He tossed the robe to her.
"I'll think about it," she said as she stood up.
"Why don't you nudge the beds together while I'm in there?
I'll probably be a while."
"Okay. Remember, make it as hot as hell."
"Right." The bathroom door shut.
Will sat down in the chair, rubbing his eyes and yawning.
He was feeling much better, but he still tired very easily.
I hope I recover enough before Chicago to play tour guide
like I promised.
After stretching for a moment, wincing as he heard various
joints in his body crack and pop, he stood up and pushed the
two beds together, removing the top sheets and spreading one
out so that it lay across the two mattresses. He folded the
other sheet into quarters and placed it at the foot of the
bed. After digging through one of the bags that he had brought
in, he took his notebook and a pen, and started to jot down
some ideas for his novel.
Will knew that he tended to lose track of time when he was
brainstorming, so he was not really surprised when the bathroom
door opened after what seemed to be only a few minutes. "Feel
any better?" he asked as he wrote down one last, fleeting
"Much," she replied in a contented voice. "Just
give me a second so I can tie my hair back." She spent
a few seconds arguing silently with the rubber band.
"Okay." He finished writing and closed the notebook.
"All set?" he asked, turning around.
"All set," she told him as his jaw dropped and
his heart skipped several beats.
The rubber band was all she was wearing.
"Is something wrong?" she asked in an innocent
Will tried to answer, but found that he was temporarily robbed
of the ability to speak coherently.
"Shush," she whispered. She stepped up to him and
knelt down, propping her elbows on his knees and cradling
her face in her hands. She looked straight into his eyes,
and he looked into hers, mostly because they were the only
part of her that he could watch without blushing bright red.
"I haven't told you yet how much what you said in the
desert meant to me. For a long time, I didn't think that anybody
could love me or want me for who I was, powers and all. But
when you told me that you loved me, and the way I made you
feel, I realized that I can have a relationship that doesn't
revolve around my power. I may not be able to have everything
that an ordinary woman has, but I can have something.
And I know that whatever that something is, I want to discover
it with you.
"Now," she instructed him as she stood back up,
"stop blushing. I want you to take a good look at me.
And no switching your vision to the infrared, either. I'm
not embarrassed about showing you my body, and there's no
reason why you should be."
Will obeyed, looking closely at her. After a short time,
he became more comfortable, and found that he was able to
appreciate Rogue's body on an aesthetic level. "How did
you get that scar on your breastbone?" he asked.
She traced the white mark lightly with one finger. "That
happened right after I joined the team. I was blocking an
energy blast that was meant for Logan and his fiancée, Lady
Mariko. I would have died if Logan hadn't made me absorb his
"That's one that I owe Logan, then." He stood up,
circling her, and she was suddenly struck by the parallels
to the dream which she had experienced less than two days
After about a minute, which he spent studying her closely,
Will sat back down. "I'm going to have to see if the
Chorus can teach me to paint or draw," he said quietly.
"You deserve to be immortalized somehow."
She blushed. "Maybe we should take care of my shoulder
He nodded. "Lie down on your stomach, and I'll cover
you with the other sheet." She did so, and a few seconds
later, the top sheet billowed above her and settled over her
body as he spread it out. Rogue tucked the ends under her
feet and head so that it would stay in place.
Will lowered the lights in the room, then knelt at head of
the bed where the upper half of her body lay. "Can you
breathe okay?" he asked.
He didn't say anything further, but after a moment, she felt
his hands touch her injured shoulder through the sheet. He
started lightly massaging the shoulder blade with his thumbs,
making small circles. "I'm going to slowly increase the
pressure," he informed her. "I want to see if I
can loosen up the knots that are in the muscles. I doubt that
I can hurt you, since your invulnerability seems to be at
full strength, but let me know if it gets to be too uncomfortable."
"Okay," she murmured. She quickly relaxed, letting
herself fall into a light trance as he kneaded her shoulder
and collarbone. Within a few minutes, the stiffness in the
area began to fade away, and her arm was soon hanging limply
off her shoulder as the muscles began to feel like overcooked
Will stopped massaging her shoulder, but did not remove his
hands. "Does that feel any better?" he asked in
a quiet voice.
"Wonderful," she replied, "but why did you
stop? You've got a lot more area to cover, buster. I want
the full treatment."
To her surprise, he chuckled. "As my lady commands,"
he said in a formal tone. He moved his hands to the back of
her neck, where he stroked the muscles on either side of her
vertebrae, then caressed the sides of her neck with his fingers.
Moving back down, he treated her other shoulder with the same
attention that he had shown the injured one. He slowly moved
down her arm, paying special attention to her bicep and tricep,
then applied firm pressure to her wrist and hand, bending
her fingers back slightly and rubbing his thumbs into the
palm. Moving back up her arm, she crossed his hands over her
shoulders again, then kneaded her other arm, taking care to
avoid stretching the muscles too much.
Moving back up to her neck, he made a 'peace' sign with both
hands, placing the extended fingers on either side of her
spine, and drew them down, one after the other, alternating
so that he never lost contact with her back. After several
of these strokes, he brought his hands down to the base of
her hips, where he firmly traced the outline of her tailbone
with his thumbs. Moving down, he bypassed her hips, and began
a series of slow, gentle caresses on the insides of her upper
legs, starting just above the knee and gradually working his
"If you move any higher," Rogue warned, "one
of us is going to have a problem. We'll either be unconscious
or really, really frustrated."
Will chuckled. "Duly noted." After a few moments
of kneading her buttocks with squeezes that reminded her of
a baker making bread dough, he bent down, kissing her lightly
at the nape of her neck. "Time to turn over." She
did so, and after taking a moment to make sure that the sheet
was still in place, Will gave her a very thorough scalp massage,
moving his fingers in small circles which relieved tensions
that Rogue didn't even know were there. He moved her head
from side to side, treating the whole of her scalp, then massaged
the small bones just behind her ears. He drew his hands up,
lightly massaging her temples, then making small circles on
her forehead and firmly rubbing the bridge of her nose. He
placed his hands on her collarbone, with the fingers pointing
towards one another, and slowly slid his hands down her chest
and stomach, moving his hands to her sides and drawing them
back up, towards her shoulders, where he moved back towards
the center of her chest. He repeated this series of strokes
four more times, tickling the sides of her ribs slightly on
the last pass.
Rogue squirmed and giggled. "Stop that."
"Aha!" Will said with an evil smile. "The
lady is ticklish. This offers some possibilities."
"Don't even think about it."
Will laughed. "Bend your knees a little." She did
so, and he made wide circles across her abdomen, slowly reducing
the size of the area covered, then widening it again. Moving
back up, he made several figure eight passes around the muscles
which supported her breasts.
Rogue purred when he did that. "That feels fantastic."
"Really?" he asked. "How about this?"
He concentrated on one breast, placing both thumbs on the
nipple, then moving them down towards the edge. He repeated
the process three times, tracing a star pattern. A moment
later, her repeated the process on her other breast. Rogue
didn't say anything, but did arch her back in response.
Lightly moving his fingers down her body, Will circled the
edges of her kneecaps with his thumbs, then gently rubbed
the muscles on the backs of her knees. Tracing his way down
her legs, he made a fist with one hand and gently dug into
the soles of her feet with the knuckles. He ended the massage
with one light stroke, which started at her toes and followed
the contours of her body all the way up to her face, where
he gently pressed his lips to hers through the sheet. "All
done," he told her in a soft voice.
Rogue stretched, letting a low, satisfied growl escape from
her throat. "He followed me home, Mom. Can I keep him?"
Will lightly scratched her belly. "You've already got
my heart, halainn,"
She poked her head out from under the sheet. "What was
that last word?"
He smiled. "It's Gaelic. It means beautiful."
She returned his smile as she rolled onto her side so that
she could see him. "That's nice," she sighed. She
arched her neck in an effort to see the clock, but couldn't
quite make it. "What time is it?"
"That massage took over an hour?" she asked incredulously.
"You were so relaxed for a while there that you were
almost asleep. That tends to skew your internal clock a little.
Besides, when you don't have to worry about deadlines, schedules,
or things to do, who cares how long things take?"
"Scott would have a stroke if he heard you say that."
Will snorted derisively. "Scott is a man in serious
need of a colonic enema."
Rogue had to bite her lip to keep from laughing out loud.
"Where's that T-shirt?"
He stood up and walked over to the table, where he had placed
the wardrobe that Strange had made for him. "What color
do you want?" he asked, holding up the shirts.
"Which one do you think you'll wear tomorrow?"
"Probably the grey one."
"I'll take that one, then. Can you wear one of the others
under your pajama top?"
"Sure, but why?"
"I'll wear it in the morning. I like the idea of our
being able to smell each other's scents for a while tomorrow."
Will grinned and tossed her the shirt. A few seconds later,
they were both ready for bed. "Whose turn is it to cover
up?" Will asked. "I've lost track."
"I'll do it." She wrapped herself up in one of
the top sheets. Will curled up beside her a moment later and
pulled a light blanket over them both as he shut off the light.
Neither of them said anything for quite some time, choosing
instead to simply enjoy one another's company. Rogue turned
over so that she faced him and slid down the mattress a little,
cradling her head against his chest. "Will?"
"Hmm?" he murmured.
"If I could control my powers
. If I were a normal
"Hey," he said sternly, "don't you talk like
that. You are not defined by your power. You have a problem
a problem that we're going to learn how to deal with, together.
That does not make you abnormal."
"I know," she assured him. "I just forgot
it for a while. You've helped me to remember it. But if my
powers weren't a problem, would you be acting any differently?"
"Not a bit," he said without hesitation. He stroked
her back with his free hand. "We've got something special
starting here, and we have plenty of time to learn about one
another and become closer. But I already know one thing. I
have absolute faith that you'll work your way through your
problems eventually, and I'm willing to wait as long as that
takes." He embraced her tightly. "It took me a long
time to find you
. to find someone I could open up to,
trust, and love. I'm not about to give you up without a fight,
and I'll annihilate anyone who tries to hurt you or come between
He fell silent for a few moments as he gathered his thoughts,
but was brought out of his reverie when he felt Rogue shaking
underneath him. He glanced down at her. "Hey, are you
okay?" he whispered. "Why are you crying?"
"Please," she begged, as tears which mixed frustration
and joy flowed down her face, "don't talk. Just hold
me. Dream with me. Let me hope."
Eventually lulled to sleep by one another's warmth, feeling
one another's hearts beat, they held tightly to one another
in the darkness.
Rogue awoke first, finding that she had rolled away from
Will at some point during the night. The clock beside the
bed told her that it was just after six in the morning. The
sun was just beginning to peek through the curtains, and the
eighteen wheelers were starting out on their runs.
She slowly sat up, taking care not to awaken Will, and got
out of bed. Slithering out of the sheet, which was still wrapped
around her, she stood up straight and stretched, discovering
to her delight that her shoulder felt much better. Moving
it around experimentally, she found that she had almost full
mobility. Smiling, she threw off her T-shirt and walked into
The sound of running water had its traditional effect on
Will, and he slowly roused himself. He opened his eyes, and
was momentarily confused when he discovered that Rogue was
not next to him. After a few seconds, his brain's operating
system booted up, and he was able to put sound and sight together
and come to a conclusion:
Figures, he thought with a sleepy smile. We just
started getting serious, and she's already monopolizing the
After one or two false starts, he was able to sit up, scratching
at his emerging beard. "Hope I get used to this itching
soon," he muttered to himself. Standing up, he walked
over to the chair and plopped back down, burying his face
in his hands.
Okay, you're out of bed, he thought. Now if you
can shower and get dressed, you'll be all set to pretend that
After a few minutes, the water in the shower shut off, and
Rogue walked out of the bathroom, wrapped in a towel. "Good
morning," she said cheerfully as she brushed her hair
"Morning," he replied with a bleary smile. "How
do you feel?"
"Great," she told him, beaming. "How about
"Can I hold off on answering until I've had a shower
and some caffeine?"
"Sure. Can I have my shirt?"
He looked puzzled for a moment, then nodded in comprehension.
"Oh. Sure." He unbuttoned his pajama top, removing
it, then pulled off his blue T-shirt and tossed it to her.
"Here you go."
"Thanks." She looked at him closely for a moment.
"Your scar's almost gone," she noted.
"I think this is about as good as it's going to get.
I usually have some reminder of a major injury, especially
if there's an emotional association to go with it."
"And that association would be seeing me get hurt?"
He nodded, then yawned. "I'd better take that shower
now, before I fall back asleep."
"I slept like a baby."
"I told you you'd sleep through the night."
"True, but I'm usually not up this early
. at least
not willingly." She searched through the bag that held
her clothes and pulled out a clean set of underwear. Throwing
aside the towel, she slipped into the panties and bra. Will,
to her disappointment, didn't even bat an eye. "I was
hoping I could at least make you do a double take," she
"You were too obvious about it. I could tell what you
were planning." He stood up and walked into the bathroom.
His pajama bottoms flew out a moment later, and she heard
the shower curtain open and close.
Will stared blearily at the dial which controlled the water
flow to the shower, then tugged on it negligently.
Rogue rushed into the bathroom, where she found Will lying
on the floor. "What happened!?" she demanded.
He rolled over, looking up at her. "If we ever reach
a point in our relationship where it's possible for us to
shower together, we'll have to have a long discussion
beforehand on the difference between 'hot' and 'scalding'."
She cringed. "Are you okay?"
"I'll live. At least I'm awake now."
"I'm sorry. It's a little hard for me to feel differences
in temperature because of my invulnerability." She reached
into the shower and switched the water to something cooler.
"See if that's any better."
He reached into the shower with one hand. "Much,"
he sighed as he stood up. "I should only be a few minutes."
He stepped into the shower and grabbed the shampoo.
Five minutes later, after he had quickly scrubbed himself
down, Will stepped out of the shower and dried himself off.
Slipping into his clothes, he sniffed at his shirt before
putting it on. "I doubt that I'll ever be as good as
Logan," he told her, "but I bet I'd be able to find
your clothes in a pile just from your scent. No one else could
smell as delicious as you." He smiled as Rogue blushed.
Ten minutes later, they were in the diner. Rogue ordered
a western omelet with black coffee, and Will ordered chicken
fried steak with a Coke.
"Coke with breakfast?" Rogue asked him after the
waitress had left.
"You get your caffeine your way, I get it my way. Be
right back." He walked over to a stack of newspapers
by the lunch counter and took a copy of USA Today,
dropping a dollar in the honor can. "You want the Life
section?" he asked her when he came back.
"Please." They buried themselves in the papers
for a few minutes, and their meals soon arrived. Jean, Ororo,
and the others entered just as Rogue was starting on her second
cup of coffee. "You two are certainly up early,"
"What did you expect?" Will shrugged. "We
slept through most of yesterday."
"Good point. How's your shoulder?" he asked Rogue.
"It feels great. The heat and massage did wonders for
it. I think that another one or two treatments could bring
me back up to full strength."
Henry nodded. "It might be a good idea if you sat up
while we were driving today. Lying on your side could aggravate
the muscles again."
"Okay. I'd better get something to read, then."
She polished off her coffee and wiped at her mouth with the
napkin. "Coming?" she asked Will.
"Sure. Anybody want the paper?" he asked, holding
"I'll take it," Strange said.
Will handed the paper to him and stood up. "I'd like
some of my money, please, Jean."
Jean blinked a moment, then recovered. "Oh. Sure,"
she replied, as she picked up the purse she had purchased
on their first day. "How much?"
"Forty should be enough. No, better add another twenty
for breakfast. I assume you've been breaking up the larger
bills whenever you could?"
She nodded. "I figured that we'll need small bills eventually,"
she told him as she handed him three twenties.
"Smart thinking." He took the bills and pocketed
them. "Rendezvous at the van in an hour?"
"Sounds good. Have fun."
They found a small bookstore a few blocks away, and Rogue
spent several minutes picking out some magazines and books
to read, finally deciding on Vogue, People,
Entertainment Weekly, and the latest Anne Rice novel.
Will spent a bit longer at it, and walked up to the counter
with a large stack of magazines. "Are you actually going
to read all those?" she asked him.
He nodded. "These should keep me busy for a day or two."
"Let me see those." She leafed through the magazines.
"Money, GQ, Discover, Smithsonian, Psychology Today,
Utne Reader, Gourmet, Guns, and Guns & Ammo?"
He shrugged. "I have a wide range of interests. You
know that." He paid for their purchase.
"I didn't think it was that wide," she said
as they exited.
"The two gun magazines are for research. That Glock-7
that I'm carrying is useless against the people that we go
up against. I want to get some ideas that I can run by Logan
and Bishop when we get back about a replacement firearm. I
want something that I can carry around when I'm not actually
on a mission, just in case we're surprised, and something
larger that I'd carry while I was in uniform
one of the more powerful air rifles, or something else that
can fire tranquilizer darts."
"That's a good idea," she agreed. "At least
you're trying to find ways to avoid killing people."
"It's more out of a sense of economy than any moral
imperative," he admitted. "Sometimes, killing somebody
is more trouble than it's worth, especially in our line of
work. You drop one villain, and ten more show up next week
screaming for revenge. Besides, I can always start loading
the darts with poisons if I have to. I'm thinking of using
the rifle because it's relatively silent."
"The pistol will do that, if you use a silencer."
He shook his head. "There ain't no such critter. Any
gun that uses powder, even with a suppressor
. and that's
what they really are, sound suppressors, not sound
. is going to make a lot of noise, because
the bullet is already going faster than the speed of sound.
I'll add one to my pistol to reduce the noise, but I won't
be able to mask it completely
. not unless I'm firing
point-blank at my target, and at that range, I'm better off
using my sword or daggers."
"You've been thinking about this for a while, haven't
He was silent for a few moments as they neared the van. "I
think that I've been going about things from the wrong angle,
that's all." He put down the bag and sat down on the
ground. "Since I joined the team, I've been doing most
of my work out in the open
. but I'm starting to think
that that's not where I can do the most good. I think that
I can get more done, make more progress, if I start working
from the grey areas, behind the scenes, in ways that would
complement the things that the X-Men do out in the open."
She sat down beside him. "Like what?"
"Well, here's an example. We know that Mister Sinister
is constantly working on his genetic research, and that most
of his other activities are geared towards advancing that
research. We also know that he's got bases all over the place,
so destroying one or two of them isn't going to do us any
"What if we took it from another angle? We know the
basics of what Sinister does, and between Henry, Xavier, and
MacTaggart, we can make some educated guesses about what sort
of things he needs to do his work. If we track purchases made
from manufactures of those kinds of equipment and supplies,
and see where they go, we might be able to discover where
Sinister is, instead of where he was.
"We can also try to trip him up. Imagine what would
happen to his plans if he found that the secret accounts that
he finances all his work with were suddenly empty, or that
a shipment of supplies that he needed was sent to another
continent due to a 'computer error'. What if some of the spies
and underlings that he has in various places suddenly started
vanishing, or coming down with unfortunate illnesses? We could
ruin some of his schemes without putting any of our people
"That strategy would work against the Hellfire Club,
too," she supplied. "You were talking about getting
a big financial stake in an industry. What if you made a few
hostile takeovers of the companies that the Hellfire Club
types own? They wouldn't have a way to hide what they were
doing any more, and you'd pull the plug on a lot of their
stunts, because they'd lose a big source of income, not to
mention their political connections."
"My dear, you are a conniving, devious, and manipulative
woman." He smiled evilly. "I like that."
She snorted. "I was raised by Mystique, remember? I
just might let her know about some of your plans. Her opinion
of you would skyrocket." She leaned her head against
his shoulder. "Sorry about what happened when she met
you, by the way."
"That's okay. It's kind of nice to know that she's so
protective of you."
"Overprotective, you mean."
"There's a thin line between the two. Most parents can't
see for themselves when they've crossed it."
"Do you ever think about that?"
"Being a parent."
Will seemed surprised at the question. "Me, as a father?"
He thought for a moment. "No, I haven't ever really thought
about it. I don't think I'd make a good one."
"I'm too inconsistent. A child needs stability in their
life. I don't think I could provide that, not the way my life
is right now."
"Will, we live a life where we could be killed on any
given day. That's not exactly what you'd call stable."
"I'm talking about the little things. Think of it from
a kid's point of view. Dad comes into your room one morning
and tells you that your room is a pigsty, and that you'll
be punished if you don't clean it today. Now, your room really
doesn't look any different than it has for the past month.
Why didn't he say anything before? The answer is that he's
been too distracted to notice it before, but you're too young
to understand that. So you really don't know what the rules
are going to be from one day to the next. Once you add missed
pick-ups, forgotten promises, and the feeling that you're
being ignored because you have to repeat a lot of things,
life becomes very hard for a child."
"I hadn't thought about any of that," she admitted.
"I guess it would be the little things that would
trip us up."
"It always is the little things that make life
difficult from day to day. Think about it
. what would
annoy you more: having a stack of bills to pay, or having
a constant itch at that spot on your back that you just can't
She shivered. "I'll take the bills, thanks. While we're
on the subject
"Of what? Bills?"
"No, silly. I've got an itch on my back, and my arm
can't quite reach back that far yet."
"Oh. Lean forward a little." Once she did so, he
took off his gloves and started scratching at her back with
his fingernails. "Higher or lower?"
"A little higher
. now to the left
there." She sighed in relief. "Oh, thank you."
"No problem," he told her with a smile. "I
can sympathize, believe me. One of my safe houses has a coat
hook in the middle of one wall, just below chest level. I
installed it one day when my back was driving me insane and
I couldn't leave the house to buy a back scratcher."
She giggled, picturing his frustration. "Somehow, I
see you as being a bit more dignified."
"Hardly," he snorted. "I'm a lazy, soft, decadent,
sybaritic bum. I want good food, plenty of naps, hot baths,
and constant pampering, with generous quantities of gourmet
chocolate thrown in for good measure."
"You talk as if that's a bad thing," Henry said
as he walked up to them.
"I thought it would be heresy among all you fitness
buffs," Strange commented from behind him as he and the
others joined them at the van.
"That's a misconception that a lot of people have,"
Jean admitted. "Sure, we have to keep in shape, but we
also have to be able to bounce back pretty easily from different
conditions. If we were always working out so much that we
were real hardbodies, then any extended missions would be
a problem for us, not to mention that it would be a lot harder
for us to be inconspicuous when we had to. I mean, who do
you notice more... The redhead or the woman who looks like
she's taking enough steroids to cause cancer?"
"I hadn't considered that," Strange conceded, "but
you do have to admit that you ladies are almost unhealthily
"Actually, Stephen, that's not quite the case,"
Henry informed him. "Our research suggests that many
mutants who are female, such as our lovely companions here,
have a lower fat-to-muscle ratio than baseline human women.
What would be unhealthy for other women is perfectly normal
for them. Moria and Charles think it might have something
to do with processing the extra cellular energy inherent in
"I didn't know that," Will confessed. "I thought
it was just because of the exercise we all get."
"That helps, too," Rogue said as she stood up and
dusted herself off. "Moria thinks that what happens is
that nature gears our bodies for two things at once. We have
to be healthy enough to survive, so we have more muscle mass,
like a predator, but we also have to be able to make more
little mutants, so we also get a build that'll attract potential
"Well," Will said as he stood up, "I think
that we gentlemen can agree that the Bright Lady succeeded
admirably in the cases among us right now."
"You are a silver-tongued devil," Ororo told him
with a smile.
"No, I'm a grey-eyed immortal. We get mixed up a lot."
Continued in Chapter
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