THE ARCHETYPE ASSOCIATION
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
"I'm okay. I'm just not used to getting up this often,
"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
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
"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
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."
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
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
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
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?
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
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?"
"Ira-Land, actually. That's what they call it, anyway.
The Nordic languages can't pronounce. 'Erie'. What do you
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
"Wow," she said again. "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
"Having six screaming kids and a nagging wife probably
helped, though," he said with a chuckle. "Ready
to see something else?"
"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
"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,"
"You couldn't be anything less than absolutely beautiful,"
he said sincerely. "It doesn't mater to me what form
She smiled shyly, then looked down at the road below them.
"Nobility, by the looks of it," he observed. "Too
many people for ordinary travelers, and most of them look
"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
"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
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
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,
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
"Do you want to go back to your room? I can send you
"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
"Do you feel up to going back on duty yet?" Xavier
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
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
"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
Will and Rogue quickly stood back-to-back, not allowing an
opening for the robots to separate them. "Any suggestions?"
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
"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," she replied.
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
"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
They all studied the video intently, watching the drones
surround the pair. "I think I saw it," Ororo said
"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
"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,"
"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
"And Will knew exactly where to throw it," Ororo
pointed out. "He seemed absolutely certain that she would
"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,
"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
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
. phenomenal things that's ever happened to
. 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
"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
. 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
"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
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,
"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
"He's not disrupting the system?" Jean asked with
"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
"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
"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.
"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.
"How about Moroccan?" he suggested. "I know
a nice place in Manhattan. They have lamb shish kebabs, baklava,
. and as an extra treat, male and female
"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
"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."
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
"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
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
"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
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
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
"Actually, I wanted to ask you something."
Rogue leaned in close.
"Do you give lessons?"
Continued in Chapter
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