Down-Home Charm Photo Album Songbank Fan-Fiction History Books Fan Art Miscellania Links
Fan-Fiction >
Post-Claremont >
"The Archetype Association"

The Archetype Association

Author's Notes
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Chapter 41
Chapter 42
Chapter 43
Chapter 44
Chapter 45
Chapter 46
Chapter 47
Chapter 48
Chapter 49


Will's eyes opened up as the kitchen timer beside him started beeping. Standing up with a yawn, he shrugged the blanket off his shoulders and shuffled over to the woodpile. Taking three large pieces of wood, he returned to the fire pit and nudged the reflector open with a stick. Shielding his eyes from the blast of heat, he tossed the three logs into the pit. A quick glance at the bricks showed that they were baking well. Eight more hours should do it, he thought to himself as he pushed the reflector closed again.

"How's it going?"

He glanced up at Rogue, who was closing the stable door behind her as she entered. "Pretty well. This batch should be ready in the morning. Once they cool, I can start the base for the kiln."

She nodded. "You sleeping okay?"

He shrugged. "About as well as I can when I have to get up every hour to add wood."

She glanced at the sleeping bag and blankets on the ground. "I wish you'd let me put a bunk in here."

"Believe it or not, this is actually better for my back. The Army cots that we have don't give any back support. I'd be walking around looking like a question mark."

She smiled. "We can't have that. There's already somebody walking around calling himself Quasimodo."

"Wasn't he a halfback for Notre Dame?"

She rolled her eyes. "I swear, I'm starting to think that the better you feel, the worse your jokes get."

He chuckled as he sat down on the blankets again. "What are you doing up at this hour anyway? Isn't it almost two?"

She shrugged. "I had some stuff piled on top of my night table, and it slid off. I spent about half an hour trying to get back to sleep, then decided to see what you were up to."

"I'm okay. I'm just not used to getting up this often, that's all."

"That's why I came to help out." Noticing his look of confusion, she explained. "I was thinking we could trade off on the watch. We'll each get four hours sleep that way."

He smiled. "I just can't counter such flawless logic." He offered her one of the blankets, and she happily curled up beside him, nestling her head in his lap. Will repositioned himself so that he was also lying down, cushioning his head on the bundled sweatshirt that he was using as a pillow.

"This isn't exactly a rug in front of the fireplace," she decided, "but it isn't bad."

"I'm glad you approve. What's been going on inside?"

"Not much. Bobby short-sheeted Logan's bed, so now he's hiding on the roof."

"You think he'd learn eventually."

Rogue sniffed derisively. "He'll never grow up. We'll all be old and in the Home for Retired Superheroes, and he'll either be icing up the whirlpool tub or trying to look up the nurses' skirts."

Will laughed silently, causing his abdomen to tremble slightly beneath Rogue's hair. "Suddenly, I've got the mental image of Henry chasing him around the poker table where Logan, Bishop, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm are still playing their endless poker game. Meanwhile, Ororo is zapping anybody who gets too close to her flower beds."

"And Warren's complaining about how the young people don't know how to fly anymore," she added with a giggle.

"And the entire island of Manhattan has been rented for the cross-time, pan-dimensional Summers family reunion."

She laughed out loud at that. "That's mean."

"I could see the maitre'd at the dinner." He switched to a deeper, more formal tone. "'Would that be the clone or non-clone section, madam? I'm sorry, sir, but we do have a dress code. However, if you're not carrying enough angst, I'm sure that one of your relatives will be happy to lend you some of theirs.'"

By this point, Rogue was laughing out loud, nearly at the verge of tears. "Stop, please," she begged.

"And then the XSE could handle security. Of course, there'd be the problem of finding places to hold the dragons, winged horses, red wolves, and space whales. Can you imagine what the vet bills and paperwork would be like?"

"Okay, okay, enough," she told him as she got herself back under control. She rolled over, resting her arms on his chest and propping her chin up so that she could look him in the face. "This conversation has become way too silly."

"It got a laugh out of you, though," Will noted.

"You can always make me laugh," she said as she rested her cheek against his chest. She was silent for several seconds as she stared into a crack in the reflector, watching the flames crackle within the pit. "You meditate by staring into a fire sometimes, right?"

"Mm hmm," he replied drowsily.

"What do you see?"

"It's different every time. I just let the Chorus lead me along."

"Can you show me?"

He gave her a surprised look. "Are you sure? It's not always a pleasant experience. I don't have any control over what I see."

"I trust you, Will. I know you'd never hurt me intentionally. Won't you be right there?"

"Right next to you."

"Okay then. What should I do?"

"Look into the fire," he said in a soft voice. "Watch the flames dance and tremble. Let your mind wander along with them. Try not to think about anything…. just float up with the flames."

Rogue's breathing gradually slowed, and her pupils dilated as she let her attention start to drift. Her body went limp as she relaxed, and she lay sprawled atop Will's body, her eyes staring off into space. As her vision became unfocused, all of the colors melded into a featureless grey.

"There is a secret song at the core of your being. This is not Fact. This is Truth. You have always known that this is true. You've never had to think about it, but it has always been there, in the hidden, private parts of your soul.

"Listen, now. Not to me, to yourself. The song is there. It's always been there, waiting for you to notice it. Listen."

Rogue listened.

And she heard.

It was similar to Gregorian chant, but only in the way that a bass boat is similar to a cruise ship. A multitude of voices joined in song, pouring out the essence of their being through the music which permeated her body and soul.

Do you hear it? Will's voice whispered inside her head.

You're in my mind?

No, he chuckled, we're both inside the Chorus. The boundaries between minds are a bit more fluid here.

I can't see you.

Wait a moment. A part of the chaotic greyness started to become a bit more defined. After a few seconds, it coalesced into a human form, and Will's features came into focus soon after. How's that? he asked, turning his glowing eyes towards her.

She studied him closely. You look a little older.

I may not have many years, love, but there's a lot of mileage. He studied her for a moment. Do you want some help with your form?

Rogue glanced at her 'body', which was little more than a basic outline. Can you do that? Stephen said that an astral form takes practice.

The rules are a little different here. Hold that pose. Strangely, she felt a mild tingling sensation for a moment. There. That's much better.

Is there any way I can see myself?

No problem. He waved his hand casually, and a patch of the greyness hardened, taking on a reflective sheen.

Rogue looked into the 'mirror' and gasped. She took her own breath away. She was wearing a diaphanous, flowing gown, almost brilliantly white, which billowed and undulated in a nonexistent breeze. Her hair floated lazily about her, as if she were underwater.

Is this how you see me? she asked. Had they been physically speaking, she would have whispered.

Only partly. Mostly, this is how you really are. He gave her a gentle, fond smile. I told you that you were beautiful. He held a hand out to her. Shall we go?

She reached out to take it, then hesitated. Will noticed it. These aren't physical forms, Rogue. They're just visualizations. You don't have to worry about your powers here.

Rogue thought about that for a moment, steeled herself, then gently placed her hand in Will's. Nothing happened.

Wow, she marveled. This is unreal.

Wrong choice of words, love. This is about as real as things get. Ready to go?

To where?

We'll find out soon enough. Now, just relax and let yourself drift. Allow the music to carry you along.

Rogue let the mental tension slide off her 'body', and soon they started gliding over to what she arbitrarily labeled her 'left'. Glancing over in that direction, she saw what resembled a path, similar in appearance to the 'mirror', which stretched off into the distance. Where does that go? she asked.

Why don't we find out? Will glanced at the path, and they slowly hovered towards it.

The instant their 'feet' touched the path, they accelerated to a phenomenal speed, although there was no sensation of movement. A bright light appeared on the horizon, which rapidly approached and enveloped them. Rogue felt a brief sensation of vertigo and then….

….she stepped over the keel timber of the longboat and handed the drinking horn to the captain. It was grained in one gulp, then tossed back to her with a shrug.

As she turned around and carefully walked back to her place in the prow, she stumbled and started to fall. Just before she banged her knees on the deck, however, she was caught and gently hauled back onto her feet.

"Are you all right?" a voice asked her.

"Yes, great sir, I…." Her voice trailed off as she recognized her helper. "You!?"

"Me," the grey-haired man replied. "Look around. See if you can remember where and when you are."


"We're traveling through a realm of memory and legend. Right now, you're a part of this story, so you can remember what led you to this point. Think…. why are you here? What are you here and now?"

She wrinkled her forehead for a moment. "We're going…. on a raid?"

"Very good. Where?"

"Um…. Ireland?"

"Ira-Land, actually. That's what they call it, anyway. The Nordic languages can't pronounce. 'Erie'. What do you do here?"

She looked down at her threadbare clothes. "I guess I'm a slave."

"Good guess. So am I, by the way."

"Why did we wind up here?"

He shrugged. "This is where the path led us. Apparently, there's something that we can learn here."

"Any idea what?"

"Well," he said, turning so that they both faced the bow of the longboat, "let's look at the situation. "We're in the middle of a totally empty ocean. All we can hear is the wind against the sail. Look up," he instructed her, doing so himself.

She looked up and gasped. The sky was absolutely brilliant with stars. The Milky Way, which was little more than a smudge of color in twentieth-century New York, blazed its trail across the sky.

"Wow," she said again. "It's…. it's…. I can't find the words."

"You don't need them. Just let yourself be for a little while. Don't try to think."

She sat quietly next to him in the darkness, enjoying the feel of the ship bobbing up and down with the waves. After a while she sidled over and leaned against him, placing her head on his shoulder. "This is why they went out," she whispered. "It wasn't so they could conquer anything or get away from home. They just had to get out onto the ocean like this."

"Having six screaming kids and a nagging wife probably helped, though," he said with a chuckle. "Ready to see something else?"

"Could we?"

"Right away." The path appeared in front of them, and they were off again.

 She bent down and gathered a handful of reeds from the water, placing them in her basket. She looked up and squinted against the midday sun, adjusting her woven hat to shield her eyes.

"Any guesses now?" a voice asked her. She turned to the speaker, an older man who was, like her, knee-deep in the mud.

She looked around and studied the manicured terrain. "China."

He nodded. "Han Dynasty…. not that it matters to serfs like us."

"First a slave, then a serf," she mused. "I'm starting to detect a pattern here."

"History is written by the rulers," he said soberly, "but it's experienced by the common man…. a tale that can be read in the very earth." He reached down into the water, pulling out a handful of yellowish mud. "This ground has already felt the weight of countless feet. Armies, pilgrims, and vagabonds have crossed it, and the Great Mother has claimed them all, existing in Her own time."

She nodded, then glanced down at her reflection in the water. She had classic Asian features, brown eyes, and black hair which was pinned back. "I don't look half-bad," she noted.

"You couldn't be anything less than absolutely beautiful," he said sincerely. "It doesn't mater to me what form you take."

She smiled shyly, then looked down at the road below them. "Someone's coming."

"Nobility, by the looks of it," he observed. "Too many people for ordinary travelers, and most of them look like servants."

"Pretty pudgy servants," she pointed out.

"They're courtiers," he said with distaste. "They haven't worked a day in their lives. Their days consist of intrigue and plots, trying to get closer to the center of power. Money that could help entire provinces goes into bribes and assassinations." He shook his head sadly. "What a waste."

"But the people just go on."

"No," he disagreed, "individuals go on. Thinking of individuals as a featureless mob demeans all of them. People who want to change the world from the top down always forget that, so they're going to fail. Without the single notes, there wouldn't be a Chorus."

"If that's your philosophy, then why did you build up a fortune?"

He shrugged. "Money is a tool, that's all. It's one way to achieve one's goals. It was finance, politics, or religion, and I only considered myself corrupt enough to go into the first."

She giggled. "Anything more here?"

"I don't think so. Let's move on." A heartbeat later, they were back on the path….

….and sucked into darkness.

She looked around frantically, trying to find him (who was he?). A rising panic began to swell within her, one which could not be vocalized because she no longer remembered how to speak. She dropped to her hands and knees and scrabbled around her, desperately seeking a place to hide.

Sensing another being nearby, she started running, not knowing or caring where she went, as long as it was away. She heard it behind her. Pursuing. Seeking. Hunting her down.

She stumbled and fell, then looked over her shoulder with terror clutching at her heart. A dark figure loomed over her, reaching out…

She awakened and scrambled away, huddling against the wall and trembling. Looking around, she saw a building which was suddenly unfamiliar, and a shadowy figure which stood up and started moving towards her. She shrank back as it squatted down in front of her and regarded her intently.

"It's all right, Rogue," it said in a soft, familiar voice. "Come back out now…."

She blinked, then shook her head to clear it. "Will!? What happened? What the hell was that!?"

"We went a lot deeper than I had planned," he apologized. "We were remembering a time when people were still hiding from predators during the night."

"Why couldn't I talk?"

"Language hadn't been developed by that time, so it wasn't an option, I guess. Are you okay now?"

She nodded. "I think so. I just freaked out for a few seconds."

"Do you want to go back to your room? I can send you straight there."

"I don't think I want to be alone after that. Could we just cuddle for a while?"

He smiled. "Sure." They wrapped themselves up in the blankets again and lay back down. She quickly fell asleep in his arms, while he just started into the fire, letting his mind drift and listening to her own, special music.

The next morning, Will tossed one last batch of wood onto the fire, then headed back to the mansion with Rogue. After showering and tossing his smoke-infused clothing into the laundry chute, he went down to the kitchen for breakfast, where Logan, Bishop, Xavier, and Betsy were already eating. Betsy was cooking a traditional English breakfast, so Will chose the oatmeal, deciding that it was the most palatable option.

"Do you feel up to going back on duty yet?" Xavier asked him.

He nodded. "I think so. If Henry gives me his stamp of approval, I'll do some training sessions later."

"Good," Henry said. "Both you and Rogue are scheduled for physicals after breakfast, so you can run through an individual scenario immediately afterwards."

"After you're done with Hank," Logan said, "you can come down to the armory. I got the guns you asked for."

"What models did you decide on?" Bishop asked.

"I got a Randall nine mil, and a Benjamin Sheraton fifty-cal."

"Why did you choose the Benjamin?"

"No markings or serial numbers. Besides, the barrel's brass, so that should help against guys like Mags."

"What's the length of the rifle?" Will asked.

"About ninety-three centimeters."

Will frowned. "That's a bit long. What if you cut off the stock?"

Logan thought about it. "That'd make it about sixty."

"Why don't you do that? Then I'll be able to carry it inside my coat."

"Not a bad idea. I'll play around with the strap a bit."

"If you three don't mind," Xavier interrupted, "I prefer to have discussions on deadly weapons restricted to lunch and dinner."

Henry's examinations of Will and Rogue proved them both to be fit for light duty. "Your shoulder's in much better condition than I had anticipated, Rogue," he said as he put his instruments away. "I think that Will's massage therapy did you a world of good."

"There was a bit of accupressure involved, Henry," Will said from behind the curtain. "I think that might have helped."

"Possibly," Henry admitted. "I think I'll modify your session this afternoon so that you two work as a team, rather than as individuals. Since you're a couple so much in your off time, you should get some experience in working together in case of a surprise attack."

"That's a good idea," Rogue said as she finished getting dressed. "Can we pull up some of the old files that we used to use for Ilyanna?"

Henry considered that for a moment. "I don't see why not. It'll take some time, though, so why don't we just make this session a straightforward fight against drones?"

Will and Rogue looked at one another, then nodded. "That sounds fair," Will said. "Let's get started."

After they both changed into their uniforms, they walked into the staging area of the Danger Room. "I'm going to start you out with three-to-one odds and move up from there," Henry told them over the intercom. "The skill levels of your opponents will also increase accordingly. They're all flesh-and-bone analogues."

"Got it," Rogue confirmed.

"'Let slip the dogs of war'," Will added.

"Hey," Henry objected, "Shakespeare is my department."

"He 'doth protest too much,'" Rogue observed.

Several panels opened in the floor, and six combat drones, armed with various blade and energy weapons, ascended onto the arena. Quickly circling the pair, they bent forward slightly, their weapons causing a slight hum in the air as they powered up.

Will and Rogue quickly stood back-to-back, not allowing an opening for the robots to separate them. "Any suggestions?" Will asked.

She thought for a moment. "When you sparred with Logan, you let the Chorus lead you along, right?"

"Right," he replied as he kept an eye on their opponents.

"Can you do the same thing for me?"

"I don't see why not. Let your mind drift again." He closed his eyes for a moment. "Do you hear it?"

Her gaze wandered off for a moment, then refocused. "Yes."

"You see what to do?" he asked.

"It seems easy enough."

"Ready, then?"

"Ready," she replied.

"Let's rock."

Henry walked into Xavier's office a few hours later, interrupting his conference with Ororo and Scott. "Charles, you absolutely must see this."

"Can it wait?" Xavier asked, somewhat annoyed at being interrupted.

"I don't think so," he replied, taking the keyboard to Xavier's computer and accessing the Danger Room files. "The ramifications may be too great."

"What is it?" Scott asked, suddenly interested.

"Will and Rogue just finished their training session."

Scott glanced at the clock. "I thought that you wanted to start them out just after their physicals."

"I did, Scott."

"They were occupied in that session for three hours?" Ororo asked incredulously.

"Yes, but I feel that more importance should be placed on how they held the program at bay for that long." He paused as the opening documentation for the session appeared on the screen. "Rogue asked Will to let her experience the link that he has with the Chorus during combat. Watch carefully now."

They all studied the video intently, watching the drones surround the pair. "I think I saw it," Ororo said suddenly.

"Saw what?" Scott asked.

"Go back about ten seconds, Henry." After the digital record was 'rewound', she pointed at the monitor. "Look at their stances. It's a bit difficult to tell because of Will's coat, but once you account for their different body masses and centers of gravity, they're starting from identical fighting positions."

"There's more," Henry said, moving the 'tape' forward again. "Rogue, like most of the second generation of X-Men, was trained in unarmed combat by Logan, so her style reflects his influence. But look at this." He set the record on 'play' again.

For the next several minutes, they watched as the recording progressed. Will and Rogue moved in perfect tandem, each completing the other's maneuvers: Rogue would, for example, toss a drone over her shoulder, and Will would disable it with a sweep of his sword.

"They're acting like they've worked together for years," Xavier noted.

"That's not too surprising," Scott said. "They have been working together pretty closely."

"True," Henry agreed, "but there's something else. That isn't Logan's style that Rogue is using. It's Will's."

Ororo studied the screen closely. "You're right."

"But Will hasn't taught Rogue any of his combat skills," Xavier said. "At least not that I know of."

"And watch here," Henry continued, pointing at the screen again.

Will drew a dagger from the sheath at the small of his back and tossed it lightly behind him. Rogue, without even turning around, snatched it from the air and hurled it at a drone, shorting it out.

"Would anyone like to explain to me how she knew the knife was there?" Henry asked.

"Her sixth sense?" Scott suggested.

"No, that only kicks in when she's in danger," Xavier disagreed. "That dagger was hardly a threat to her."

"And Will knew exactly where to throw it," Ororo pointed out. "He seemed absolutely certain that she would catch it."

"The next three hours are more of the same," Henry told them. "I started winding it down when I felt that the threat level was becoming excessive." He advanced the record still further. Rogue and Will continued to decimate their mechanical opponents, slowing down slightly as the odds against them decreased.

As the final drone clattered to the floor, the pair once again assumed identical stances. They both closed their eyes, inhaled deeply, let the breath out, then opened their eyes and walked towards the door. Will opened the door and gestured Rogue through, closing it behind him as he followed her.

"Neither one of them was injured," Henry said as he turned off the monitor, "so there was no need for a medical evaluation. You might want them to give you a debriefing, however."

"We'll give them a chance to rest first," Xavier said. "They'll need time to clean up, anyway."

"Actually, Charles, they should almost be finished. Rogue asked me to let you know that she'd be up as soon as she could. She seemed anxious to talk about the experience."

"What about Will?"

"He said that he wanted to ground himself, so he went to his room to meditate for a few minutes."

"Probably a good idea. I don't feel like replacing any more appliances."

Rogue stepped into the room a few minutes later, still toweling off her hair. "I have got to talk to you guys!" she exclaimed as she sat down. She was grinning from ear to ear, and her eyes sparkled with delight.

"We just finished reviewing the tape," Ororo told her. "You were both very impressive."

"Impressive?" she snorted. "Face it, Ororo. We kicked butt."

"We wanted to get your feelings on the experience," Xavier told her. "What was it like being liked with the Chorus during the session?"

Rogue became more animated, gesturing with her hands as she answered. "Professor, it was one of the most…. amazing…. incredible…. phenomenal things that's ever happened to me! I…. I don't even know where to begin!"

"How about the beginning?" Ororo suggested. "What did it feel like the moment that Will linked you?"

She thought for a moment. "It was like having the volume on a stereo turned up so that I could hear the music. Only this stereo was inside me, not outside. I was suddenly able to understand things that I hadn't even noticed before."

"Like what?" Scott asked.

"You've seen how Will fights, right?" She waited for the answering nods, then continued. "Well, he's not really fighting as much as he's…. I was going to say dancing, but I don't think that's the right word. It's more like he's taking cues from the music."

"I don't get it."

"Ever watch a movie with a soundtrack?"


"Well, that's what everyday life is like for Will. He's always got a tune playing in the back of his mind, and if he listens to it closely enough, and in the right way, he can tell what's going to happen in a future scene."


"'Life is but a stage,'" Will said as he walked in and sat down, "and a lucky few of us get to see the dress rehearsals."

"Could you be a little less obscure, please?"

Will leaned back in the chair and rubbed at his mustache. "Think of an event in time as a note in the air. When I listen to the music of the Chorus, I look for patterns and themes…. things that tend to repeat themselves. There are enough parallels and recurring events in history for certain things to pop up from time to time. I get a bit of sound that I can recognize, and that gives me a good idea of what might be about to happen."

Scott mulled over that for a moment, then shook his head in frustration. "I'm sorry. I still don't understand."

Rogue thought about the problem for a few seconds, then turned to Will. "I've got an idea."

Fifteen minutes later, the five of them met in the observation deck for the Danger Room. Rogue had changed into her uniform, and Will had brought down a violin from his room.

"So you want to divide the room in two?" Ororo asked.

"Right," Rogue confirmed. "Just set up a wall right down the middle."

Xavier nodded, and after a few moments of typing, a featureless wall, eight feet in height, appeared in the center of the room, dividing it. "Now what?"

"Give Will a chair to sit in, facing away from the wall. Do you have them, Jean?"

"Right here," Jean replied, handing Rogue and Will each a pair of earphones. "They'll generate a white noise pulse which should keep you from hearing anything."

"Just make sure to keep the threat level at low," Rogue told her. "I don't feel like getting pounded."

"So just what is the plan here?" Scott asked.

"I'm going to run through a combat session. Will's going to listen to the 'music' that I make while I'm fighting, and duplicate it as best he can on the violin."

"Make sure that you record this," Will requested. "I don't know how aware I'm going to be of what I'm doing. I might not remember it later."

"Are you both ready?" Ororo asked.

"All set." Will replied.

"Me too," Rogue added.

"Starting sequence now," Xavier said. As soon as he finished speaking, he turned on the white noise generators.

Rogue quickly went into a defensive stance. At the same time, Will touched his bow to the strings of the violin. He slowly drew it across, then back, creating a sound which suggested anticipation.

Xavier tapped at the controls, and a series of openings appeared in the walls surrounding Rogue. A few seconds later, a foam cushion shot out of one, heading straight for her. Just before she kicked it aside, Will drew the bow down sharply, perfectly matching the duration of her movement, and reversed the note as she recovered.

Several more cushions flew towards her from all four sides. She dealt with them by flying up a foot or so and spinning around, grabbing two of them and using them as makeshift clubs to bat the others aside. As before, Will's notes preceded her movements by about half a second.

"They're right," Scott observed as he watched Rogue bat her targets aside. "It is like a soundtrack." He paused for a moment. "Seems a little out of sync, though."

"That may because it's predicting the action," Jean pointed out, "and not in time with it."

"Probably," he agreed.

"It looks like Will's running just over half a second ahead of events," Xavier said as he looked at the computer readout.

"He's not disrupting the system?" Jean asked with some surprise.

"It doesn't look like it. Probably because he's not actually doing anything, just monitoring her. It's a passive role, not active."

"Like using a long-range microphone instead of planting a bug."

"Exactly." Xavier looked down at Rogue as she drop-kicked a cushion across the room. "Let's start winding it down. She's had enough of a workout for today, and I don't want to push her too hard."

Xavier slowed down the fire rate for the cushions, and Rogue gradually became more relaxed, while still throwing them aside effortlessly. Will also slowed down, increasing the length of the notes while decreasing the tempo. As Rogue stepped into her ending stance, Will finished with one final, low note, which seemed to linger in the air for several heartbeats, before he lifted the bow off the strings.

"If that is what Will experiences all the time," Ororo said thoughtfully, "I'm amazed that he doesn't withdraw completely."

"We can't be sure what the normal…. volume level, I guess, is for him," Jean mused. "It may not be as dominant on a day-to-day basis as it was just now. He did say that he was focusing his attention on Rogue's 'music'.

"That's true," Henry said. "He's not normally as intent on one thing as he was just now. He usually divides his attention between several things at once."

"All right," Xavier told Will and Rogue as he shut down the program, "you can both take the rest of the day off. You might want to think about eating out tonight."

"Why's that?" Rogue asked.

"Logan's cooking."

"We'll be gone by five."

"What are you in the mood for tonight?" he asked once she had changed into casual clothes.

"I'm not sure. I'd like to try something different. Any ideas?"

"How about Moroccan?" he suggested. "I know a nice place in Manhattan. They have lamb shish kebabs, baklava, mint tea…. and as an extra treat, male and female belly dancers."

"That sure sounds different enough. Feel like driving there? It looks like it's about to rain, and I don't really want to get my dress wet."

"If you feel up to braving Manhattan traffic, it's fine with me." They borrowed Warren's Saab and were soon underway.

As they stepped into the restaurant, Rogue's nose quickly picked up the smells of several kinds of spices and oils. "Smells good," she noted.

"I think you'll enjoy the food," Will said as they were led to a table. Since it was early in the evening, and a weeknight, they found themselves seated alone, on cushions surrounding a low, round table built for eight. They faced a small stage built against one wall, which had a small set of stairs leading to floor level.

"Would you care to order anything to drink?" the waiter asked them in a heavily accented voice. He was dressed in a rather elegant white suit and had a red fez perched on his head.

"Just Coke for me, please," Will requested.

"Club soda, please," Rogue added.

"Would you be interested in the dinner special for two?"

"What's included in that?"

"Lamb or beef shish kebabs, seasoned carrots, couscous, meat pie, baklava, and mint tea."

"That sound good to you?" she asked Will.

"Excellent. Will there be dancing tonight?"

"Yes, sir. One show every half hour."

"Thank you."

The waiter nodded with a smile, then went to the lounge to get their drinks.

Rogue glanced down at the table. "He forgot to give us silverware."

"You eat with your fingers here."

"Oh. We'd better be careful, then."

"As long as we don't make a grab for the same thing, we should be fine. Oh, that reminds me." He reached into his shirt pocket and placed a small plastic packet on the table. "You might want to use these."


"The music here can get pretty loud here. Better safe than sorry."

"Good point."

Their first course arrived about ten minutes later. Rogue tore a piece off the ball-shaped pie and tasted it. "Hey!" she exclaimed. "That is good. Very spicy."

"I thought you'd like it." He took a piece for himself and sat back. A moment later, very loud music began playing from speakers in the corners of the room.

A man stepped out from behind the curtain, dressed in a turban, baggy pants which reminded Rogue of parachute gear, shoes with long, pointed toes, and an intricately embroidered vest which showed off a muscular chest. He held a large, curved sword in one hand, but Rogue's trained eye immediately saw that it was a fake. She and Will put in their earplugs and enjoyed the show.

Will admired the dancer's skill with the blade, as he watched him twirl it overhead and toss it into the air, catching it easily. Rogue found that she was interested more in the way that he could make his abdominal muscles 'dance' by rolling them up and down. "Do you think you could do that with your stomach?" she asked Will once the music had ended.

"I'd probably wind up in a full body cast."

"But then I could play nurse," she said with a wicked smile. She leaned back as the next course came out, then tore into the spiced carrots with enthusiasm.

Half an hour later, the music started again, and they put down their shish kebabs and turned their attention to the stage.

The dancer who stepped out this time was female, and, Rogue had to admit, very attractive, with dark brown eyes and raven-black hair which was nearly waist-long. She was dressed in a red bikini top and diaphanous red silk pants which allowed the silhouette of her legs to show through. She had bracelets on her left ankle and right wrist, composed of tiny bells, which chimed as she moved.

The music picked up in tempo, and she began to sway in time with it, raising her arms above her head and moving among the patrons, occasionally pausing in front of someone and shimmying about for a few seconds. Rogue noticed that while some of the women smiled in admiration of the woman's skill, while others appeared to be jealous, the men invariably turned beet red with embarrassment.

As the dancer moved towards their table, Rogue studied Will's face, curious about his reaction. He kept his eyes on the performer, studying her movements carefully, but his face remained impassive. This was apparently taken as a challenge by the young woman, who threw herself wholly into the dance. Her hair floated about her wildly as she spun around and threw her arms wide, displaying her obviously feminine attributes in a manner which made Rogue blush.

Will managed to maintain an unemotional expression until the music ended, at which point his face went red enough to throw off any orbiting satellites with thermal scanners. Rogue broke into laughter upon seeing his expression. "I knew she'd get to you eventually!"

"You have to admit," he said with an embarrassed grin, "she knows how to work with what she has." They both joined in the applause as the young woman bowed gracefully and ducked back behind the curtain.

The rest of the meal passed quietly, and the dessert of baklava and mint tea provided some entertainment when the waiter filled the demitasse-sized cups by holding the teapot nearly a meter above them, not spilling a drop.

As they got ready to leave, Rogue asked Will to excuse her for a few minutes. "Little girls' room," she explained.

"Take your time," he told her. "I'll wait outside."

A few minutes later, she left the restroom and headed for the front door. Before reaching it, however, she noticed that the female dancer was now working behind the cash register, dressed in a black pantsuit. On impulse, Rogue walked up to her. "I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your show," she said.

"Thank you," the young woman said with a smile. "It takes a lot of energy, but I enjoy it."

"You managed to make my boyfriend blush."

The returning smile was naughty. "That's the part I enjoy most."

"Actually, I wanted to ask you something."

"What's that?"

Rogue leaned in close.

"Do you give lessons?"


Continued in Chapter 44


Down-Home Charm / Fan-Fiction / Fan Artwork / History Books / Photo Album / Songbank / Miscellania / Links / Updates

Legalese: Rogue, the X-Men, and the distinctive likenesses thereof are Trademarks of Marvel Characters, Inc. and are used without permission. This is an unofficial fansite, and is not sponsored, licensed or approved by Marvel Comics.
Privacy Policy and Submission Guidelines