DISCLAIMER: This is an unauthorized
work of fiction using characters that are (c) & TM by
Marvel Comics Group. No profit is being made on this story,
so I think I'll invoke The Marvel Readers' Bill of Rights
(for the full text see Stan's Soapbox in some of the May 1998
comics, e.g. Generation X #38):
"8. The right to practice scripting and drawing our Marvel
characters for your own pleasure and amusement."
The story is (c) Tilman Stieve (Menshevik@aol.com).
You can download this and copy it for your entertainment,
but don't sell it for profit, or Marvel will set their lawyers
on you. Please do not archive this on your website without
informing me first.
This story features sexual scenes [M/F],
although they are not really more graphic than what you would
find in the steamier kind of romance novel or in a science-fiction
story sold without age restrictions.
by Tilman Stieve,
aka the Menshevik
Valerie Cooper's Diary
9/15/96. as yesterday. Irene was christened today. Quite
a crowd, w/ Raven's family, mine, X-Factor & a few guests
from out of town. Thankfully Mom & Dad had been prepared
what to expect when they first met Kurt -- Dale was of course
unfazed. I was especially grateful that Captain America came
to represent the Avengers, considering that our previous relationship
was not always the smoothest one. Forge, Polaris & Audrey
were the godparents, we also took advantage of the occasion
to have our family blessed (R. did not grumble too much when
I suggested that, saying "so long as there's no talk
of a wedding" -- as if that was a realistic proposition
for the 2 of us, not just because of the gay thing, but also
for personal reasons &c). It really brought home that
Raven, Irene and I now really are a family of our own (Mom
& Dad sat behind me at the time, so I'm not sure how they
felt during that rite), and it is a little daunting with a
woman like Raven. What makes things more complicated is that
I now also have 3 'foster children', although I guess that
Graydon C. won't be expecting any Xmas presents & only
Rogue seems to be keen on the idea. K. has just begun to accept
the fact that he is R's son, & w/ the age difference he
feels more like Irene's uncle than her brother, so we'll still
have to work out our relationship. It is noticeable that he
is much less comfortable with R. than Rogue -- she probably
left it too long, while her relationship to Rogue was close
enough that they could talk about a lot of things even when
they still were on different sides of the fence. The reception
was nice & not too exhausting. Many of the guests had
to leave in the afternoon & by the evening most had left.
D. & A. took Mom & Dad to the airport before setting
off themselves, and in the end only Rogue remained of the
out-of-towners. She'll be staying the night at our home &
will go on a little vacation on her own tomorrow. Irene, your
parents will always look after you and care for you, but it
is good to know that if anything should befall either of us,
there are people who love you too -- your godparents, your
siblings Rogue and Kurt, and so many others. We'll all do
all we can to make a world in which you can live and shape
your destiny in peace. And with God's help I hope we succeed.
9/16/96. sunny, humid, thunderstorm in the evening. Rogue
had breakfast w/ us. Her eyes became all misty when I nursed
Irene afterwards & she was rather distracted in the conversation.
She does not open up easily about what ails her, but it wasn't
hard to tell that she was thinking that breastfeeding a child
is something she won't be able to do for quite a while yet.
Still, when I mentioned the possibility of Forge building
some device that might allow her to touch another person's
skin w/o wearing gloves, she gave the air of being strangely
uninterested. But maybe that has to do w/ a certain Darkhölme
antipathy to X-Factor's techno-wizard. Later, after Rogue
had set off on her one-day vacation, I discussed this w/ Raven,
who also said she was a bit surprised, but was otherwise rather
non-committal. I wonder if it had anything to do w/ R &
R's little 4-eyes talk before Rogue's departure. So there
may yet be things still that Rogue does not trust me with.
In the afternoon we held our usual X-Factor monday meeting.
Thanks to Raven's help, I am able to slowly return to my normal
official duties w/o Irene being neglected. But it isn't always
easy to adjust our daily lives to the changes our love &
Irene's birth has caused. When I compare my current situation
with that a year ago, it really is unbelievable. The same
probably goes double for R, especially today, the 3rd anniversary
of Destiny's death, and the day after the baptism of the daughter
she had not expected to have. We had a lot to ponder this
evening, sitting in the living-room & watching the rain
beat against the window.
9/17/96. sunny all day. Not much to record today, which
we appreciated, as we were still recovering from the big weekend
event. I did a bit of work at the office at home and took
care of Irene, while R. went to HQ & reports it was an
uneventful, routine day there. In the evening we went to see
'Bound', a thriller (w/ Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly as
a couple trying to outwit the mob) that we really enjoyed
& which R. declared 'our' movie, although I'm not sure
how seriously. Shortly after we returned home (Lorna had looked
after Irene), Rogue called to tell us she had arrived safely
at Xavier Mansion. She sounded very preoccupied. There seems
to have been some argument going on there, but obviously she
would not tell about it on the phone. Ah well, there's always
something going on in Salem Center, I guess we'll hear about
it soon enough if it's important.
Because she had gone to bed late after the party in honor
of her sister's baptism, Rogue had hoped to stay in later
than normal, but -- as she had feared, or at least expected
-- Irene would have none of it. Her cries woke up her mothers
at what felt like the middle of the night, and Valerie and
Mystique decided to have breakfast early after their baby
was fed. Rogue would have felt churlish not to join them,
even though Mystique had told her in the evening that she
would not have to. It did not actually come that hard to her
-- even though she did not go to the lengths Logan did (he
usually had completed a jog around the Xavier estate before
most of the others got out of bed), she was reckoned an early
morning person by her teammates.
And she would not miss this opportunity for the world. It
was years, in fact the first time since she joined the X-Men,
that she woke up in her mother's home and could break fast
in an intimate family circle. Granted, over the years some
of her teammates had become trusted friends -- Ororo, Logan
and Bobby, especially -- and when they gathered informally
in the kitchen or went out together, it almost felt like family.
She also had fallen in love: first with Magneto, then with
Gambit -- dear, undependable Rémy-the-Fair, whose inability
to trust her and to face up to his own past destroyed what
might have been -- and now with Magneto again. But it was
not the same as with Mystique. Even after Rogue had left the
Brotherhood, even after she had discarded Raven's terrorist
(later opportunist) political agenda, even when their teams
faced each other in battle, their love endured, and it always
had been wrenching to part after their far too infrequent
The last time she had sat together at breakfast in the kitchen
with Raven, Destiny, Rogue's other adoptive mother, had been
with them. Today was in fact the anniversary of her death,
which stressed even more the gap left in their lives after
the death of the gentle old woman, Kurt's mother, whose outward
frailty belied her inner strength, and whose sensitivity and
wisdom had quietly counteracted the desire Mystique once had
to shape Rogue into a likeness of herself. Thinking of Irene
Adler on this of all days brought tears to Rogue's eyes. She
discreetly wiped them away.
Destiny had loved Raven and Rogue with all her heart, and
had not wanted them to beat themselves up over her death.
She had foreseen it, or rather her mutant power of precognition
had enabled her to see that in her last battle on Muir Island
either she or Mystique would be killed. Unhesitatingly she
had seen to it that she, and not her lover, would die. Days
earlier, she had already started to act as a matchmaker for
Mystique and Forge, so that even after she herself was gone,
Raven would have someone else to love and be loved by.
It turned out differently from the way Irene Adler had foreseen
or expected it to happen. Destiny's precognitive powers had
been such that they grew less precise the further she looked
into the future. While it had been comparatively easy for
her to 'see' which of several possible sequences of events
would come to pass in an hour or even a day, the future becomes
more fluid the larger its distance to the present is, and
so it had been much harder to assess which strands of reality
were the ones that would actually happen -- for the most likely
sequence is not always the one that in the end will come true.
Even telling someone what would happen may in some cases affect
the future, making a prophecy a self-fulfilling or a self-defeating
one. In this particular case, Raven blamed Forge for Irene's
death and actively resisted the idea of a romance with him.
Instead, she went off on her own for a time, seeking solace
in a succession of short sexual adventures and, as the expression
goes, went 'rogue' again. Another thing was that the effect
of time-travelers and their activities on the fabric of reality
always hampered Irene Adler's powers, and about a year after
her death there was a quite serious event that threw everything
into confusion: David Haller -- Legion -- traveled back in
time to try to kill Magneto before he could embark on his
career as the foremost mutant supervillain. An attempt that
for a time threatened the very fabric of history, of time
and space even, in ways entirely unforeseen.
But in the end things worked out for the best, and in a way,
Rogue felt, that would have satisfied Destiny, had she foreseen
it. Dr. Valerie Cooper caught up with Mystique and corralled
her to work for her and the US government again. She made
her an offer she could not refuse, to become a member of the
new X-Factor team in exchange for a reinstatement of her conditional
pardon. Much to their surprise, the two strong-willed women,
forced into closeness by their chosen professions, fell in
love with each other. They even conceived a child whom Valerie
insisted on naming Irene. And so, it seemed, stability was
finally returning to Raven's private life.
Because the new X-Factor had been initiated by both Val Cooper
and Charles Xavier (who wanted there to be a high-profile,
government-sanctioned team to improve the image of mutant
superheroes with the American public), it even became possible
for Mystique to see Rogue more often and finally to open up
to her son, Nightcrawler.
In their guest's honor, Mystique was more elaborate that
morning: so instead of their usual -- muesli and tea for Val,
coffee and a glass of orange juice for Raven -- they had a
big spread with bacon, eggs, griddle cakes, biscuits, grits
and pancakes, with several varieties of jam, syrup and juice,
pretty much anything you could think of.
"Mah stars," said Rogue, "reckon we won't
have to think about lunch today."
Mystique smiled like a contented cat: "You said you
were going to leave around noon, so it seemed the logical
thing to do."
Everyone at the table was relaxed, and the conversation flowed
easily. Not surprisingly, it turned to some aspects of politics
that affected mutants, and to recent developments at the Xavier
Institute. The day before, Valerie Cooper had gathered a handful
of details about Xavier's School relaunching its entrance
class at the Massachusetts Academy, and so Rogue had to help
explain about the new group of freshers (nicknamed 'Generation
X' by their elders) and their headmasters, Sean Cassidy and
Emma Frost. It was a combination that struck Mystique's sense
of humor -- the ex-Interpol agent and the former White Queen
of the Hellfire Club. "And," she added with a grin,
"there's bound to be sparks if they're supposed to cooperate
as equal partners!"
Which got her a snort from Valerie: "As if a fixed chain
of command eliminated frictions! You're supposed to be subordinate
to Forge, Alex and me, and I don't recall that ever being
a smoothly running arrangement." But she smiled when
she said it -- these days, she knew, Forge and Havok bore
the brunt of the problems, because at the end of the day Raven
did not go home with them.
The three women also talked about the last time they had
been together, earlier in the year at the NATO Metapowers
Conference in Hamburg. And that brought up the strange matter
of the fracas that had broken up the press conference, when
a group of inept supervillains found itself behind bars much
faster than expected because their electronic weapons seized
up. Both Mystique and Valerie speculated that some outside
agency might have intervened, and since electromagnetism was
involved, Valerie said she had wondered ever since if Magneto
had been involved.
Raven disagreed: "I think you're engaging in wishful
thinking, my love. You would so much enjoy seeing Magneto
'on the side of the angels' again, that you'd seize upon the
slenderest of clues to fuel your hope. What do you think,
But Rogue refused to speculate, saying that she and Val had
not been there at the fight, so Mystique, who had been, would
probably be best qualified to judge.
If Mystique was not satisfied with that answer, she betrayed
no sign. The conversation now became more family-oriented,
turning towards the huge pile of cuddly toys, dolls and various
baby bric-a-brac the guests had brought as presents for Irene
yesterday -- just about doubling what she already had. "If
things go on like this," Valerie comically groaned, "we'll
have to add to this house just to get enough storage space
for Irene's toys!"
Having deposited the dirty crockery in the dishwasher, Rogue
and Mystique took Irene out into the garden to give Valerie
a chance to catch up on her paperwork before the afternoon
meeting. Rogue and Raven sat down with Irene beneath the big
willow tree at the lower end of the garden. Rogue enjoyed
playing with her baby sister, even if she was hampered by
having to wear gloves and even if she had to keep watching
out that Irene's tiny hands did not come too near to her own
face. Raven took advantage of the opportunity for a little
mother-to-daughter talk. Her opening shot struck uncomfortably
"You know more than you let on just now, don't you?"
Rogue tried to reply, her mouth dropped open, but Mystique
went on regardless: "Don't worry. I don't think Val suspects
anything. But then she did not raise you from childhood and
doesn't know the signs on your face when you're hiding something."
"And you've known them almost from the start,"
answered Rogue in resignation. "Guess ah should've moved
behind you when ah talked about Hamburg."
"Rogue, I have to notice these little signs if I want
to use my power to its full potential. Even so, if you know
someone really well, if you love her, you learn to know what
to look for. I mean, you can see through my disguises a lot
of the times, and I expect one of these days so will Valerie."
She allowed herself a rueful smile. "Okay, you're hiding
something, and maybe my guess as to what it may be isn't too
far off the mark. But listen me out before you give in to
a sudden urge to confess."
Rogue cautiously nodded. She had not bargained on being rumbled
so quickly. Did Mystique suspect what was up with Magneto
since they met again in that little hotel outside Hamburg?
"Now it's either some X-Men secret that Uncle Sam does
not have to know," Raven continued, "but that's
unlikely given Xavier's current more cooperative attitude,
and from what I've seen of you and Val I'd say there is not
much left that you would not trust her with. To you, she's
become almost family, and though I'm not sure how to take
it that you two have hit it off so well after so short a time,
I'm not against it. I know you've been inside her head, so
I guess you have the advantage of me on that."
Rogue's lips pressed together. It was not a memory she looked
back on with relish.
"Or it is something private that only concerns you ...
and another." Mystique was either stabbing in the dark
or pretending to. "Either way, I won't press you in the
matter, even though, if it is what I think it is, it comes
as a surprise to me."
No kidding, Rogue thought, recalling what Mystique had said
about Val's 'wishful thinking'. "Ah c'n 'preciate that,
momma," she said, visibly relieved. "Ah'd rather
not tell at the moment, but hopefully..."
There was a brief silence. Mystique shifted next to Rogue
and ran her gloved hand through her daughter's hair. "Rogue,
dear, you are your own person. It took your adoptive mother
some time to realize that, but she finally learned to live
She leaned back and sighed, her mind wandering off into the
past: "You know, when Irene and I first took you in,
what made up my mind was your spirit, the qualities that had
already earned you your name. They reminded me of what I was
like when I was a girl. Which blinded me a bit to the differences
between us. After your powers manifested themselves, it became
even easier, even more seductive to look on you as a young
version of myself..."
"But there was more to it than that," Rogue protested,
"Ah know what you felt for me came with no strings attached.
Otherwise you'd never've accepted that ah joined the X-Men!"
"With time, with time. You became my daughter through
my choice, and no matter what happened or happens, I've never
regretted that choice and never will. Even if it was painful
to accept that your new ideals and your loyalty to your new
friends would become so important to you that you would not
return to me to save your life. To see you knowingly go to
certain death in Dallas."
Rogue breathed in deeply. "For what it's worth, ah'm
sorry for the hurt ah caused you. Ah never meant to, but ah
did what ah thought was right."
Raven Darkhölme smiled indulgently at her daughter's subdued
defensiveness. "Well, I wanted you to be as strong-willed,
or should I say stubborn, as me." She seemed to want
to say more, but thought better of it, and Rogue could read
in her mien that whatever she had just been about to divulge,
there was now nothing she could say to pry it from her lips.
Rogue wondered what her mother had been about to say. After
an awkward pause, Raven finally said: "If it hadn't been
for Irene, I probably would have made a dreadful mess of raising
The thought of her departed leman took hold of her. "Oh
Rogue, I still miss her so," she said with tears welling
up in her eyes.
Rogue could not but put her arm around her shoulder. "Ah
miss her too, momma."
"I know. There isn't a day when I don't feel the loss.
Her ashes may be scattered all over the Atlantic Ocean, but
she'll always be in my heart."
They stood a while in silence. In the distance, a bird was
singing, its voice almost drowned out by the noise of the
"But you told me you were happy with Valerie,"
Rogue cautiously suggested.
Oh, we're happy enough," said Raven, smiling at her
concern, "happier than I ever dared hope after Destiny
was killed. But what we have is different. Irene was the calm
center to my life, Valerie is too young and too much like
me to play that part. With her, it is less predictable, more
passionate, more volatile. Irene had more patience with me,
even when we both were younger. And I am glad about these
differences -- I would not want Val to be a one-for-one replacement,
a surrogate for Irene. I think she understands that though
I continue to cherish the memory of the love Destiny and I
shared, it does not diminish my feelings for her."
"You think she understands?"
"We don't always talk about our feelings for each other,
we show them in different ways. We kiss more often, for instance."
Surprisingly, Raven seemed a bit reluctant to talk about this.
The conversation then shifted to another family matter, first
the presidential candidacy of Mystique's oldest son, Graydon
Creed, on the anti-mutant Friends of Humanity ticket, and
then about Kurt Wagner's current activities in Britain and
the way he was slowly adjusting to the idea of being related
to Mystique and, by extension, Rogue. In the end, Mystique
put on her old ironic smile, and winked at her daughter: "You
realize of course that if you breathe a word of all this to
Val, I'll utterly disown you."
Later in the morning, everybody was back in the house, talking
about this and that -- recent developments with X-Factor,
including the private lives of various members, little Irene's
crawling progress on the road to mobility, and some of the
gossip overheard at the reception yesterday. Valerie wanted
to discuss the agenda for the afternoon meeting with Mystique,
but Raven managed to fob off her attempts.
Then Rogue's little sister loudly announced that she was
hungry again. Raven moved towards her, but Valerie insisted:
"Uh-uh, you fed her this morning. It's my turn now."
She sat down on the couch with her baby, opening four buttons
of her blouse. With a few practiced movements she bared her
left breast, providing Irene access to its swollen nipple.
She lay down on her side with the child and began to suckle
Rogue watched in fascination, almost mesmerized by the remarkable
contrast between the white and powder pink of Valerie's tautly-filled
breast and the sky blue and mauve of Irene's face and lips.
It was strange, she reflected, not that long ago an experience
like this would have been unattainable for her, but now that
Magneto had discovered that by projecting a biomagnetic field
over her body he could enable her to experience skin-to-skin
contact, her outlook had changed. Instead of wondering if
she would ever be able to touch someone, she was now wondering
if it would be possible for her to have children. Would a
developing child in her be immune to her power, or would she
drain it of all its thoughts, its personality, maybe even
of whatever powers it might have through the umbilical cord
and the walls of her womb?
She realized that Valerie noticed that she was staring at
her, and blushed a little. Trying to hide her embarrassment,
Rogue blurted out: "Guess this must be the first baby
that's breast-fed by both parents, right?"
Valerie smiled, but Raven said: "Actually, in quite
a few lesbian families both women breast-feed the baby to
both bond with it. It is possible to induce lactation without
"Although," said Valerie, who had read up on the
subject in a book, "the milk you produce that way is
not as nourishing as that of the biological mother. There
Raven's handy control of her bodily functions is a godsend
that allows her to produce the full-calorie article."
Irene meanwhile did not let the conversation distract her,
and her lips and jaw continued to move rhythmically as she
drew in her birth-mother's milk. Valerie suddenly frowned,
no doubt in reflection of Rogue's interest in what she saw.
But she made no comment, and for that Rogue was grateful,
as she usually did not like to have to reply to expressions
of sympathy with her not being able to touch another person's
flesh. But no, there appeared a twinkle in Val's eyes: "So,
Rogue, what do you want for lunch?"
And the two older women took a wicked delight in Rogue's
pink embarrassment. Raven, who happened to be wearing her
gloves gently let her fingers run through her foster-daughter's
hair: "Come on dear, let's go pack something for your
trip. There's still tons of leftovers from yesterday."
When they returned, Valerie was just depositing Irene in
The three grownups went out into the garden again for a final
round of coffee and tea before Rogue's departure. Then, after
fetching her carrier-bag, Rogue hugged both Val and Raven
and took off.
Shortly after noon, Rogue soared across the line originally
surveyed by Mason and Dixon. She took the normal precautions
that had become second nature to her when she still was in
the Brotherhood, when her lifestyle was still shaped by Mystique's
clandestine operations. Once Washington had disappeared under
the horizon behind her, she changed course several times to
shake off any pursuers she might have failed to detect, while
almost brushing the treetops of the woods over which she was
flying. Having left the more populated areas behind, she now
only saw the occasional picnicking family outing or backpack-laden
overland hikers beneath her. The roads were also noticeably
Finally, she arrived at the pre-arranged place of rendezvous.
Magneto was already waiting near a dilapidated and abandoned
"Sorry ah'm late," she apologized as they embraced
in greeting, "my new family held me back longer than
"Be grateful for what you have." Magnus gently
said, but there also was a regretful quality to his smile
that made Rogue feel a little embarrassed. He was probably
thinking of his own family, murdered by the Nazis and their
henchmen in World War 2. Of Anya, his eldest daughter, who
had died in a burning house in Vinnitsa. And perhaps not least
of his surviving children, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch.
He had destroyed the chance to be a father them when he had
made them join the join his Brotherhood and held them in it,
not knowing that they were Magda's twins. Wanda and Pietro
still bore the scars of the harsh autocratic leadership that
had been his trademark in the days when tyranny was his only
solution to the conflict between Homo sapiens sapiens
and Homo sapiens superior. Rogue wished to console
him, to help him to effect a reconciliation, but she did not
know what to say.
Magneto sensed that she had deduced what he was thinking
-- or at least some of it -- but brushed the sad thoughts
aside: "It is good to see you again." And, using
his power to raise a bio-magnetic field that isolated him
from her power, he kissed her on the mouth.
The day was sunny, so they decided to talk a longish walk
into the woods to a secluded lake Rogue had seen from above
on her way from DC. The air was warm and fragrant, and they
could hear all sorts of birds. They even saw the odd woodpecker
passing by in its characteristic flight, going and down with
every stroke of its wings.
They spoke little as they went, enjoying the quiet and that
they were together. Occasionally they stopped to gaze into
each other's eyes, hold hands and do other things lovers do.
For that was what they had become again after their reunion
in Hamburg. They had met surreptitiously a few times since
then, but of necessity only for a few hours at a time. This
was the first time they had an entire day and, perhaps more
significantly, a night together. They knew they could make
the most of it and they could afford to take it slowly. And
walk, not fly, to 'their' lake.
When they got there, they spread out the blanket, and took
their afternoon tea from the thermos and box of sandwiches
and fruit Magneto had brought with him. Rogue supplied cold
meats and cake from Irene's baptismal buffet. She had to tell
him all about that family gathering, which apparently interested
him more than the more official matters she had come across.
He told her of his old base in the Allegheny Mountains of
West Virginia which he had just reactivated as his new American
home. Earlier in his career, Magneto had set up bases all
over the globe, although he had so far only used two of them
with anything approaching regularity -- one in Antarctica
on the edge of Pangea, the other on an uncharted island in
the Bermuda Triangle. The complex in the Alleghenies was smaller
than the one in Antarctica, and he had only lived in this
one a handful of times after he built it deep under a disused
mine, about a decade ago. Now, he found his old continental
base useful as a place to stay before or after one of their
Rogue took out a few CDs with European popular music from
the 1920, 30s and 40s which she had bought in her favorite
record store in Salem Center. Her own tastes tended towards
'60s and '70s rock (and she had also brought Nazgul's remastered
Music to Wake the Dead), but as she remembered from
their short times together, his were even more conservative,
so she opted for easy listening. The first one she put in
her little portable player began with La mer, on her
somewhat tenuous reasoning that they were sitting next to
a body of water. Listening to Charles Trenet's deceptively
easy-sounding warblings reminded them of Paris and the time
they had been there for Magneto's trial before an international
court, too busy to appreciate the beauties of the city, or
to sample any of the cafés and restaurants. And so the afternoon
wore on, the soft tones of old-time old-world music counter-pointing
their relaxed conversation.
A while after their tea, Rogue decided to go for a swim.
When she tested the water temperature with her hand, she confirmed
her suspicion that it was rather colder than back home in
Caldecott County around this time of the year, but it was
acceptable. Having forgotten to take a swimsuit on the trip,
and since no one else was around, she simply shed her clothes.
Considering where she had grown up, she would probably never
be able to think it as innocent as Ororo did to bathe in the
nude in the presence of others who wore more, but then she
did not necessarily want it to be 'innocent'. She rather liked
the idea of showing off her body to Magnus -- he had seen
it without clothes before, and it certainly was not a body
to be embarrassed about! She laughed prettily as she looked
at him, and he smiled back, not turning his gaze away, reacquainting
himself with the flat of her stomach and well-turned navel,
with the roundness of her breasts (a shade or two less tanned
than they had been in the Savage Land), the triangular patch
of auburn between her legs, and, when she turned around and
dove into the lake, the rippling of her muscles in her back
The coolness of the water came over her in a big splash,
and she shivered involuntarily before she adjusted to the
temperature. Gooseflesh appeared everywhere, but disappeared
within a minute or two. Rogue settled into a lazy backstroke
and looked back at their picnic site on the shore, where Magneto
had risen to his feet, evidently liking what he saw.
"Dontcha wanna come in?" she sang out to him. "The
He shook his head, preferring to watch as the young woman
began to circumnavigate the lake, flipping over into a breaststroke
to see where she was going. Magneto just sat down at the shore,
gazing as she drew further away from him.
The good thing -- one of the good things -- of having him
around was that you could be reasonably sure that you would
not be surprised easily. Years of a life spent in illegality
had honed his instincts of self-protection to an extent where
it would take a bit of an effort not to notice a person's
approach by the minute distortion in the Earth's magnetic
field -- and it was not just those carrying objects made of
ferromagnetic metals, like guns, cameras, watches, belt-buckles
etc., but also batteries and, in the right conditions, even
the charge of static electricity of a cashmere sweater. But
all was peaceful. Only a mallard and her ducklings retreated
into the reeds at the far end of the lake when Rogue swam
When she had finished her second tour of the lake, Rogue
called out again: "Aww, c'mon in, you ol' stick-in-the-mud!"
and playfully splashed some water at his feet. Or rather,
somewhat misjudging the distance, she sent a big spray in
his direction that would have soaked him, had he not raised
a protective field at the last moment. A variation on the
trick he used so he would not be bothered by flies and mosquitoes.
("It's simple," he had once told her, "all
you have to remember that the same magnetic poles and electric
charges repel each other.")
"Ooops." Rogue's face was a struggle between embarrassment
and laughter, and laughter was winning.
"Very well, young woman," he said in theatrical
outrage, "that does it!"
His clothing dissolved off his body -- as usual, he was wearing
iron -- except for his underpants. Honey, you really have
the oddest taste in underwear, she thought as she turned in
simulated flight. In the Savage Land it was that strange dhoti
thingy, and now pin-striped boxer shorts??
She was swimming down the length of the lake, so she switched
to doing the backstroke again so she could watch him as he
prepared to get in, splashing himself with water before leaping
in. He really is a specimen, she thought, struck once again
by his muscular frame. You look after yourself well. Yum!
She used just her feet now so it would not be too hard for
him to catch up. She could have gone faster, but that way
he did not have to boost his speed with his magnetic powers,
and so they would not alarm the local fauna too much. Playfully
she allowed him to dunk her under, using the momentum to dive,
surprise him and quickly redress the sartorial imbalance between
them (taking advantage of the fact that he had already raised
his protective field).
"Sugah, you're overdressed for this event," she
shouted as she came up to the surface twenty feet away, proudly
raising her white and blue striped prize in the air.
"Rogue, you're being childish!" But despite his
best efforts, Magnus could not stay serious.
"Ain't ah though," she said as she took to the
air and relocated to their spot on the shore. Grumbling under
his breath, Magneto swam back towards her.
Since neither of them had thought of bringing towels, Rogue
lay down on a sunny patch of grass to dry. Her body shimmered
in the bright late summer light. When Magnus came up to her,
he could see her nipples were still puckered from the time
in the water. She insolently looked his athletic body up and
down when he climbed out of the water to join her. She held
up his boxers for him, but he shook his head and grinned.
"I'm not putting those wet things back on," he
said, lying down beside her. "Dear, dear, the last time
someone pulled that stunt on me was before I was a teenager.
Actually it was in a place a bit like this."
"Really?" Rogue frowned a little. At their few
meetings she had not asked him much about his early years.
"Come to think of it, ah don't even know where you're
from originally. B'fore..." She stopped dead. Mentioning
the past could be a good way to spoil the moment. From the
two times she had absorbed parts of his memories, once in
a battle, the other time in Hamburg, she had this impression
that for him the Holocaust was this big black blot that darkened
his entire past. So she was afraid that thinking of some happy
episode of his childhood might somehow trigger something bad
-- maybe the guy who had pulled down young Magnus' swimming-trunks
was later battered to death in the invasion, or maybe it had
been a cousin who later was shot along with his family, or
died in Auschwitz -- and that would then fill his mind with
a storm of those memories that had been so overpowering the
first time she had been inside his head, of what he had gone
through, what he had done just to survive in that death camp...
But Magnus continued as if nothing remarkable had happened.
Well, life had gone on for him, in spite of everything, five
decades of it, she thought hopefully.
"A town in Lithuania, directly on the border to East
Prussia," he explained. "And at least in my days,
the picture postcards they sold in that part of the world
either showed the sand dunes on the Baltic coast, or a moose
drinking from a forest lake. Maybe that's what still sells.
I haven't actually been back there again. Too many memories."
He noticed her tense expression and gently put his hand to
her cheek, looking deep into her moss-green eyes. "Rogue,
not all my memories are terrifying or tragic, even if you
may have got that impression from what I normally mention.
You don't have to fear them."
"Oh, my fears ain't the problem here, or I don't think
they are" she said, slightly unsure, "ah want to
know you, to understand you as well as ah can, and in the
fullness of time, ah'd like to know pretty much your entire
life story. If you'll let me." She looked up into his
eyes with utter sincerity. You can trust me with anything,
and I'll try to understand as well as another person, as well
as someone who wasn't there can understand. "Only maybe
not today, or leastways not right now."
"Yes, judging by your antics and your dress..."
his eyes strayed and rested on her naked bosom, "...
it's obvious you already had plans which involve less talk,
don't you?" She smiled, somewhat reassured. "Don't
worry, those plans will be addressed, I'm lying on my stomach
for a reason." He was rewarded with a relieved schoolgirlish
peal of laughter. "But I'm glad you care. I'll promise
you I'll try to answer all your questions if you'll stop fretting.
I love you, Rogue. From the moment I you appeared on my monitor
in the Savage Land."
"An' ah love you. From -- oh, who cares about chronology!
Ah love you, ah never want to lose you again -- that's all
ye need to know."
Their lips came together in a long kiss, and then they both
sat up, looking at each other. Once again Rogue was struck
by the contradictions of his body -- the youthful muscles
and skin, legacy of the two occasions his age was changed,
first by Alpha, then by Eric the Red's, the silver-white hair
caused by his mutation, and the steely blue eyes that spoke
so eloquently of his past, of his true age. There were times
when the nearly fifty years difference between them seemed
an awesome challenge, but this was not one of them. Right
now it only added to his sex appeal. As he took her in his
arms for seconds, she registered that his arousal was indeed
becoming apparent. She resisted an urge to lower her hand
down there. Let's not rush things, she thought, as she languidly
let her tongue insinuate itself between his lips.
When they had made love for the first time, over two years
ago, in the Savage Land, Rogue had been temporarily stripped
of her powers and so did not have to watch out for what they
could not forget now. Today, Magneto could not relax his protective
field for one instant if he did not want her absorption power
to send him into a coma in mid-romp, and she had to watch
out with her super-strength, so she did not accidentally hurt
him in the throes of passion. At least she thought she'd better
watch out. In actual fact, she remembered from a number of
fights that his magnetic powers made him a lot tougher than
a normal person.
As their tongues sinuously danced with each other, Rogue
pressed against his chest, flattening her breasts on his ribcage.
Magneto's right hand slowly moved from her back into the squeeze
to cup the left one. It was warming up, its tip stiff with
arousal now, no longer because of the cool water. A low moan
escaped from her mouth, but because of their deep kiss it
was immediately captured in his. They separated to catch their
breath, and Magneto's freed hand began to caress her breast
more intently, squeezing, stroking, tracing little circles
around the tingling bud.
His lips did not return to hers, they began to move, with
tantalizing slowness, from her chin and throat downwards.
At last, he toured around her left breast -- kissing, nuzzling,
drawing in her fragrance -- and at last his lips closed moistly,
then wetly, around the morsel at its end. Rogue threw back
her head and groaned as she gave herself to her feelings of
growing arousal as she felt his lips, teeth and tongue alternating
all the while on the distending nipple, while his left hand
now began to work on her right breast. Her hands ran through
his hair and held his head in position as she whispered encouragements
He rolled her onto her back and extended his oral attentions
to her other breast. After bringing both nipples to throbbing
rigidity, his mouth continued its downward trail, lingering
for a while at her navel. He finally arrived at the juncture
between her legs and was somewhat surprised at the excited
state of her femininity.
"My, you are ready for this!"
"Haven't touched mahself in days. Ah wanted this t'be
special." She easily flipped him over and began to repay
his attentions. He sucked the air in sharply as she gently
pinched his nipples and began a sensual attack on his body
that surprised him by its expertise. Where had she learned
to do that thing with the tongue?
"That's one of the advantages of mah power," she
answered his unspoken question, "ah never had t' rent
an instructional video. There's tons of stuff ah want to try
out just in what ah got from Wolvie's memories..."
He groaned heavily under her nonstop assault. "Slow
down, Rogue," he panted between ragged breaths, struggling
to retain control in the press between her breasts. She reluctantly
paused, but as she looked down on him a somewhat goofy smile
appeared on her face. She wanted to tell him how much she
loved him, but, unusually for her, she felt tongue-tied. So
instead, she took one of his hands, slowly raised it to her
lips and kissed its palm. Then she picked a condom from the
belt-pouch beside the blanket and tore open the package. She
went down on her haunches and rolled it on him, before moving
herself above his crotch into a position where her sex was
above his erection. Their eyes met, and by silent consent
their two bodies rushed towards each other to become one.
She relished the feeling of him moving inside her and took
his hands to press them against her swelling breasts. Rogue
and Magneto moved in unison, adapting their rhythms to each
other. But they were already so keyed up that their ascent
to climax was easier and somewhat quicker than she had expected.
They rolled over a few more times during the crescendo and
accelerando that preceded the finale. The sounds issuing from
their mouths became louder and more inarticulate, until at
last they came to a shuddering climax and collapsed in a sweaty
heap. A short while after, by no means sated by the experience,
they made love a second time.
Later they dried off and dressed, and lay down in each other's
arms. With the CD player once more in use, the two basked
in the afterglow of their afternoon of passion. Rogue began
to tell him of her youth in Mississippi, when she used to
go for swims in the 'Father of Waters', and of the time she
first experienced her power when she was necking with Cody
Robbins under 'her' tree on the river bank, and he suddenly
fell into a coma that lasted for almost a quarter of an hour,
during which time she experienced his thoughts and memories
in her own mind. "Ah haven't been in Caldecott County
often since my family moved away," she finished her account,
"but things don't change much there. Last ah heard, Cody
got married an' moved 'cross the river to Louisiana."
The last record Rogue had put on was one of the Comedian
Harmonists, one of the most successful acts in Germany (and
Europe) before 1933. When the Nazis came to power, they were
forced to break up, as only half of them were Aryans and their
style of music was not to the new rulers' liking. Kurt had
introduced Rogue to them, and she had been rather tickled
by their version of songs like Night and Day -- a German
singing quintet (and pianist) performing American classics
in the French language. Now they launched into one of their
German successes, but when they went into the chorus, for
the first time (In der Bar zum Krokodil/Am Nil, am Nil,
am Nil,/Verkehren ganz inkognito/Der Josef und der Pharao/Dort
tanzt man nur dreiviertelnackt/Im Rumba- und Dreivierteltakt...)*
, Magnus fell silent and she was shocked to see that his face
turned pale and tears slowly welled up in the corners of his
eyes. Instinctively her hand moved to switch the CD player
off, but he stopped her. With a faraway look on his face,
he listened to the song until its end.
"That was one of my sister's favorite records,"
he at last told her. "She used to play it so often it
drove my parents to distraction. My grandfather did not like
it at all, as it is based on the biblical story of Joseph
and he thought it made fun of holy writ. And it was in her
suitcase the day..." He wiped his eyes and cleared his
throat. Rogue started to say she was sorry for selecting that
recording, but he would have none of it: "Actually, I'm
glad of the coincidence that you chose that record. After
55 years, memories grow hazy. I had all but forgotten about
that record until I heard the song again just now. My family
exists only in my memories now, and so I can only cherish
when a memory is returned from oblivion to the front of my
mind." He paused a short while. "You said you wanted
to understand me, Rogue. But talking about these things with
you will also help me to understand myself better, if it helps
bring back some of what I forgot because I never discussed
many aspects of the story of my life and that of my family
They hugged, and as she buried her face in the crook of his
neck, Rogue felt strangely, silently happy. All of a sudden,
her anxiousness about touching Magneto's past were for the
greatest part laid to rest, looked largely irrational in retrospect.
She even felt a little ashamed: "Ah'm sorry. Ah'll try
not to treat you like a raw egg in future. It was wrong of
me to doubt your strength. If you ever catch me at it again..."
He stopped her flow of words with a kiss, after which he
said: "Strength can be illusory, as I learned when Fabian
Cortez inveigled me to trust him. But from now on, we'll assume
we can talk about everything until one of us says he'd rather
not discuss it. No more presupposed taboos. Agreed?"
Rogue nodded in silent, grateful assent.
They turned to other subjects. The afternoon's activities
brought back memories of the first time they had made love,
back in the Savage Land. Magneto remarked on the fact that
this time around they had brought condoms, and got an unexpected
"Actually, maybe ah did catch then," Rogue said,
suddenly looking very serious again. "Ah was a bit late
when ah arrived at Muir Island and fell under the Shadow King's
control. He made me 'n' Strong Guy fight in an arena so he
could get his jollies, an' ah got knocked around a bit. That
night ah got my period, more violently than in quite some
He held her close, not sure what to say. Her eyes blinked
a couple of times as she tried to control her emotions. "Ah'm
not sure if ah really was pregnant. Ah'm not even sure if
ah can complete a pregnancy without technological aid. Maybe
mah cycle had just been thrown out of whack by the Siege Perilous.
But ah couldn't help thinkin' what if ah had had your child."
"Why didn't you ever tell me?"
"Well, the first few times we met after that, you weren't
really in the mood to listen t'me," she said with an
ironic, but slightly sad smile, "'sides, ah reckoned
you'd think ah'd try to get you around by goin' all mushy
on you. An' like ah said, ah never was sure, so ah kinda hesitated
to tell you in Hamburg or later. Ah only mentioned it now
'cause ah just saw li'l Irene and that got me thinkin' about
what it would be like to have kids of my own."
The next couple of hours passed easily as the two talked
about whatever the meandering stream of their conversation
washed ashore. Without them noticing, the sky clouded over,
and suddenly they heard portentous rumblings of thunder in
the distance. Already, the first raindrops were falling. Rogue
said: "Damn, we'd better go somewhere where it's dry.
What do you say Magnus, mah place or yours?" She grinned.
Magneto had to laugh out loud. The thought of him going with
her to her home -- Charles Xavier's mansion -- was too humorous.
He was not yet ready to go there. Besides, it was so far away,
that they'd probably get out of the rainstorm before they
even got halfway there.
* In the Crocodile Bar/On the Nile, on the Nile, on the
Nile/ There visit all incognito/Joseph and the Pharaoh/There
they only dance three-quarters naked/In rumba and three-four
In the end they decided to look for a hotel to spend the
night, which they already had half-planned to do from the
start. They found a small Bed & Breakfast in a nearby
town. This part of Pennsylvania did not attract many tourists
-- too far both from 'classic' Amish Country and from Gettysburg
-- so they had no trouble getting a double room at such short
notice. Magneto idly watched as Rogue took care of the formalities.
He was a bit surprised by the name under which she checked
in, but his features betrayed nothing to the owner, a middle-aged
Once they settled in their chintzy room, he could no longer
contain his curiosity: "Persephone Adler? Is that your
"That's what it says on mah driver's license,"
she replied as she dropped her bags on the little shelf at
the foot of the bed, "of course Mystique helped me get
it when ah was still livin' with her and Destiny. It was either
Darkhölme or Adler, so we chose Adler figurin' that's the
more common of the two. As for the Persephone part, let's
just say my late biological mother had an unfortunate thing
'bout classical names that did not go well with her last name."
Rogue's smile turned a little sad when she talked of her.
"Anyway, ah never really liked that name. And it wasn't
just the sound. Okay, Greek goddess of spring ain't so bad,
but bein' remembered practically for nothin' but gettin' herself
kidnapped -- sheesh! Bein' a victim is something ah never
was keen on..." Her eyes became a bit dreamy as she remembered
those long-gone days. "So once people started callin'
me Rogue, ah never used any other name 'round people. But
as there never was any name a particularly wanted to have
besides that, ah kinda fell back on Persephone for mah official
identity when ah was still with the 'Brotherhood of Evil Mutants'."
They changed into different clothes for supper, with Rogue
putting on the dress she had worn at the christening. It made
her feel a bit overdressed when they entered the small Italian
restaurant two streets away, but that could not be helped.
But they enjoyed the meal, which oddly enough was accompanied
by canned Andrews Sisters songs. When they got out again,
it had stopped raining, and they decided to take a walk around
town before retiring to their room. The dinner and the walk
both were occasions where the two lovers spent a lot of time
in the kind of conversation that consisted of holding hands
and looking into each other's eyes in silence.
Back in their room, Rogue was still feeling amorous and suggested
making it three times that day. Magneto was amenable, and
after drawing the curtains they undressed and made love on
the old-fashioned bed. But Magneto was more tired than he
thought, and when he reached his climax, he momentarily dropped
his biomagnetic shields. Rogue's power immediately struck
and he swooned into unconsciousness beneath her.
Rogue was in the throes of her own orgasm and could not do
anything about it. In fact, being charged with the wave of
his climax she felt her own jump off the scale. When it finally
subsided, she gingerly got off him. She sat down on the edge
of the bed, careful not to touch his comatose form.
Whew, that was something, she thought. Ever since the day
Ororo had offered herself to her on the banks of the Mississippi,
she knew what it could be like to absorb the fullness of the
personality of someone who trusted her, someone she loved.
She knew what sex was like, obviously. But to have it all
combined in one experience was unbelievable. Also, from the
flashes of memories she had absorbed from Logan, Kurt, Piotr
and others, she already had some idea of what sex was like
from a male point of view, but to experience it as it happened
was something new. Glad you liked it, Magnus, she thought,
But there was something else, she slowly realized. A very
intense memory that occupied a large part of his consciousness
as he raced towards his climax...
-- our bodies in perfectly synchronized rhythm dampness
under the small of my back Rogue rampant above me majestic
her bosom swaying from side to side juddering arousingly she
loves this my hands gripping her buttocks she bows down so
hot inside my lips try to capture your breasts the springs
of the old bed squeaking like cries of seabirds sound of seagulls
smell of the sea in the nostrils taste of salt in the air,
lying with the woman on a shattered bed her blond hair shining
in the moonlight silver and gold woman in a flimsy nightgown
the glistening pool of sweat between her breasts moving in
the rhythm of my body in oh Aleytis! out you don't in know
out what this in means to me! she pants beneath me her eyes
are shut tight beads of sweat break out on her brow deeper
my heart beats harder the dark tips on her silver globes deeper
move in rapid circles thy navel is like a round goblet, wherein
no mingled wine is wanting oscillate in crazy orbits 'Harder'
she cries didn't wear a condom then her head thrashes left
and right her throat laid bare as if in offering she trusts
me I thought I'd never trust again it has been so long how
pretty her little nostrils flare her moans and whimpers louder
her fingernails scratch across my back this new really is
great I had forgotten how good making love can be thy two
breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed
among the lilies we're both out of breath but too far gone
to stop Rogue above me her full breasts leaping up and down
faster and faster the tips a much deeper pink than Lee's this
thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters
of grapes and that pretty little mole on the underside of
the left one I said I will climb up into the palm tree and
take hold of the branches the sound of waves in my ears oh
the softness and hardness of Lee's body she cries ecstatically
yes I'm coming I'm coming oh Rogue but there is no one to
hear us hundreds of miles of ocean I answer oh Aleytis oh
Rogue oh Lee I cannolongerholdback oh R--
And then blackness.
Rogue sat stunned, shaky in the backwash of the experience,
breathing heavily, trying to sort out what she had just seen
and what she should feel about it. She was not happy that
Magnus had been thinking of another woman when he was making
love to her. She felt reminded of what she and Mystique had
been talking of only this morning, about how Raven still missed
Destiny, even though she found happiness again with Valerie.
But as far as she could tell the memory had come to Magneto
unbidden and she the other thoughts she had just absorbed
indicated that Lee Forrester was not a rival anymore. She
would have liked to feel angry at Magneto but she was struck
by another thought: Before they had parted, before Dallas,
Lee had been Magneto's girlfriend. In the Savage Land, she
had not hesitated to act on her new-found passion for him,
partly because she did not know if she was going to see the
end of the next day, but Lee might not see things that way.
A bit late to suddenly have scruples, but still...
After a few minutes, Magnus came to again. He took a while
to find his bearings. "Uhhh," he groaned, "that...
really was..." He stopped, noticing her look. It was
not angry or mocking, still there was an unspoken question.
He collected his thoughts, racking his head trying to remember
what had been on his mind before...
Rogue finally could no longer hold back her question. No
more secrets between us she thought, he said so himself. "Lee
really was special to you, wasn't she?"
His face reddened in realization and then assumed a sober
expression: "Yes, she was. And still is, but on a different
level." He reached out to her, once more protected by
his biomagnetic field. She felt uncomfortable, but did not
resist as he put out his arm around her. "She saved my
life, in more ways than one. If it had not been for her, I
would have ended up as breakfast to some sharks, and she also
taught me things I had forgotten when I became Magneto, the
terrorist mutant master of magnetism."
As was his custom now, he recited his old appellation in
such a self-ironic way that Rogue could not help but gently
"That it was possible after all," he continued,
"that a 'normal' human looked at me without fear and
that I did not have to feel fear myself. That it is possible
to be forgiven for some things, if not for all one did."
Rogue nodded -- she had had similar experiences after she
reformed, with Mariko Yashida, with Alison Blaire. "You
probably know what happened the first time we met, when she
still was Cyclops' girlfriend. Yet Lee did not hold my treatment
of her against me, she gave me another chance. I discovered
I could trust her in a way I had not trusted another human
being -- mutant or not -- probably since my way and Charles's
parted in Israel. For a while, we became lovers. Or so we
thought. Later we discovered it had been largely a 'Samaritan
effect' and grew apart. Then I had my ... relapse. I met her
again a few times after I finally came back to my senses..."
"Ah had never really thought about her and you,"
Rogue said pensively, "must've been at least in part
denial. Ah remember her arrivin' together with you when we
had all that hassle with the Beyonder fella, and ah only thought
of her as your girlfriend. Ah had never considered that she
might be partly responsible for your changed outlook on life..."
"So your not angry at me for thinking of her when...?"
he cautiously asked.
"Heck, no!" she said, perhaps a fraction too readily,
"ah might as well ask you if you're mad at me f'r ...
intrudin' and then makin' a fuss..." She leaned closer
to him. "Who knows what you might find if the process
worked both ways and if ah had a bigger body of experiences
of mah own." She paused in thought. "No, ah'm glad
we had this out. A gal can't help wonderin' about her man's
old flames, and ah knew about you and Lee anyway. Leastways
now ah have a better idea of what she means to you. Did you
ever tell her ... about us?"
"I told her about the Savage Land. She said she was
surprised herself how little it bothered her." Magneto
sighed. "But then I only told her about it after we had
finally faced up to the fact that we had not been in love
with each other as much as we thought we had. In a way, we
were both relieved, because we no longer felt obliged to look
on each other as lovers, which had become increasingly hard
for her as well, and could go on to being friends, although
mainly at a distance. The life of a fishing captain seems
even less conducive to frequent meetings with me than that
of an X-Man. The last time we met -- this was before Hamburg
-- she even made jokes about it and warned me not to fall
in love with Amelia Voght just because she helped me."
Rogue exhaled, audibly relieved. "Ah'd be lyin' if ah
didn't say ah'm glad turned out this way. Ah know it sounds
selfish, but bein' in love don't always bring out the best
in a person." She grimaced and her brow furrowed in contemplation.
Maybe she really ought to call on Lee one of theses day, if
not exactly to apologize, then to talk things out, perhaps
even thank her for what she had done for Magneto. "Ah
know what ah feel for you, Magnus, and you c'n be sure that
if any woman tries to take you away, she'll have a fight on
her hands. Still, ah can't really begrudge Lee the part of
your heart she holds. But as for the other parts of your body...",
she finished on an unspecified, half-serious threat.
"Guess I should keep working on that isolating field,"
he said distractedly. "or maybe we could use one of my
But Rogue relented and relaxed: "Ah think it'll be enough
if we become so good at makin' love that all your past experiences
pale in comparison." She winked and briefly grinned,
then she put her hand to his cheek: "Seriously, Magnus,
ah'm of two minds on this, like ah usually am where my power's
concerned. It's a two-edged sword -- sometimes ah hate what
it does t'me, sometimes ah wouldn't miss it for the world.
Just now, ah'm glad that we talked things through, even if
it wasn't exactly pleasant. But ah'm not sorry it happened,
and ah can't beginn t'tell you how much it means t'me that
you trusted me so much that you took the risk even though
you knew since Hamburg what would happen if you let your concentration
slip. Ah'd rather wish for it to work both ways than for a
perfect isolating field. So less'n you'd rather use one o'
your machines... Ah mean, ah'd understand if'n you wanted
your thoughts to be private, but ah'd rather we made love
less often or not at all than now go back to usin' that kinda
"Of course it would be a lot easier if you could learn
to control your power," Magneto suggested. "Are
you sure that's impossible?"
Rogue pondered a while. "No, not really. Years ago the
Prof helped me to extract Cloak and Dagger's powers from Rahne
and Berto without affecting their own. So ah'd say evidence
says it can be done. It's just that more important seemed
to crop up all the time. Or when there would've been time
Professor Xavier was gone. And after a while it seemed less
urgent to try. But ah guess if we put our minds to it..."
"Well, let's make it a priority again," Magneto
suggested, "surely Charles, Moira and some of the others
should be able to come up with something...!"
It had grown late, and they ended on that hopeful note and
got under the sheets together. The night was quiet, and Rogue
slowly slipped away. "Everybody's got a mania,"
she drowsily hummed as she fell asleep, "to do the
polka in Pennsylvania."
Magneto looked at the sleeping form beside him. Strange that
you should be named Persephone, he mused. Though you don't
like name, it is appropriate to you in one respect: Persephone
lived both in the world of the living and that of the dead,
embodied by her mother Demeter and her spouse Hades. You never
stopped loving your death-obsessed foster mother (or what
else is the significance or Mystique's skull fetish?) and
now embark on a romance with me, a man haunted by death, and
yet you never lessened your commitment to Xavier and his followers,
whose creed is the preservation of life regardless of the
But maybe, he continued thinking through the analogy, maybe
Rogue really is a reverse Persephone, for she had gone from
the realm of death to that of life when she joined the X-Men.
Well, at least according to chronology, if not by biological
age we two are very much spring and autumn. How full of vitality,
of restless energy she is! How much activity and exchange
of thoughts she had crammed into half a day. How confident
she is that she and her friends can make a difference, help
change the world for the better. And now she lies beside me,
sleeping like a baby. She is happy just to be with me.
By a constellation of fate and choice, Magneto had spent
most nights of his long life alone. After living through the
enforced intimacy of the crowded barracks of Auschwitz, he
valued his privacy, and after Magda had left him, he was reluctant
to let even his lovers get too close. With Isabelle and Aleytis
it had somehow worked out that they slept in separate quarters,
most of the time. With Rogue this was now only the second
night they spent together, and the first one in a real bed,
but already he sensed that he would be missing her in 24 hours'
time, when she would be back in Westchester, and he would
be back in his technological underworld in the Alleghenies.
He bowed down to kiss her on the cheek, then lay back to
let his exhaustion overtake him.
A black column of oily smoke rose from the burning factory
building that just came into view. She flew at supersonic
speed, trailing a booming shockwave behind her. She must not
be late, Mystique was counting on her, she must not fail!
Better not think of what may have happened in the minutes
since she received her call for help.
She crashed through the skylight, into the cavernous assembly
hall, which was filled with smoke. Landing on the floor, she
tried to find her bearings. It was not easy to see anything,
nor could she hear much over the crackling of the blaze to
her left, the occasional crash of falling debris. She poked
around in the murk, and suddenly stumbled over a body. A huge
body, male, dressed in a costume suit, with a dark bloodstain
on his chest. The face was unrecognizable, transformed into
a bloody pulp by a spray of bullets at close range.
"Is that you, Rogue?" she heard Mystique call
"Yeah, momma." She ran in the direction of her
voice, suddenly filled with apprehension. She turned around
a corner, and found Mystique crouching over something... or
someone, an Uzi and another, bigger firearm carelessly dropped
on the floor beside her. As Rogue came nearer, she was filled
with dread. Why wasn't Mystique turning around to look at
Then it became only too obvious: Raven Darkhölme was kneeling
next to Valerie Cooper, whose lower body was not visible,
crushed beneath the huge cylinder of the rolling mill. The
iron mass must weigh tons, and the pain felt by the woman
who was both X-Factor's government liaison and Mystique's
leman was sharply etched into every line of her grimace. Mystique's
face was scary: Rogue could not remember ever seeing such
an expression of utter helplessness on her features. Heedless
of the tears running from her eyes, Raven was cradling her
lover's head in her hand and futilely stroking her hair.
Rogue moved to lift the huge cylinder off Valerie, but
Mystique stopped her. "It's no use," she said in
a hoarse, almost gruff half-whisper, "she's dying. It's
too late... she'll be gone in a few minutes. No time to get
her to a hospital, even if we could carry her there without
"At least I went out with a bang," added Valerie,
but the humor was as forced as her voice.
Rogue kneeled down beside her mother, tears welling up
in her eyes as she bowed down to Valerie's face. "Too
late," she sobbed, "oh, Val! Ah--"
Suddenly a thought hit her: "Wait! Maybe there's
still something ah c'n do."
Mystique immediately understood and gasped: "You
don't mean... but when you absorbed Danvers' mind it drove
you insane... surely you can't."
But Rogue could also see that she was torn up over this,
worried about the well-being of her chosen daughter, yet at
the same time desperate to save her mate's life, even if only
in this reduced form.
"If'n we both want this, ah think it can work out
fine." Rogue turned to Valerie: "Looks like your
last chance is to transfer your essence to mah mind. Ah'm
willin' t'take the risks. We'll think of a way to share mah
body. Ah was away when Destiny got killed, ah don't want momma
to lose you as well. Or li'l Irene. Heck, ah don't want t'
lose you. Or would you rather leave us behind?"
Val's voice was low and reflected her physical agony:
"I just wish this would stop, Rogue ... if it only ended
... Raven ... Irene ... Irene ... No! I want to live!."
She looked at the young mutant imploringly.
"Okay, let's do it" She moved forward, but Mystique
held her back to kiss Valerie one last time while she still
was in her own body. It only took a few seconds, then it was
Rogue's turn. Remembering their first long conversation in
Hamburg, and wanting to make the transfer from brain to brain
easier, she had decided to kiss Val. Her lips were softer
than Magneto's or Gambit's, and on them was the salty taste
of tears and the metal of blood. Immediately she felt the
surge as Valerie's memories and personality passed through
her, like a golden glow filling her field of vision. She could
feel the difference to other times -- not only was Valerie
offering no resistance, her inner self was positively rushing
from one body to the other. It suffused Rogue's mind, and
at the same time she felt Valerie's pain from her short-term
memory. Her abdomen went through a spasm of sharp sympathetic
pain, and she collapsed on top of her, but she managed not
to let the skin-to-skin contact break. Valerie went limp,
as she immediately fell into a coma, but Rogue could feel
how Val's personality began to reconfigure itself inside of
her mind, settling down in a corner, or so it seemed to her.
She had absorbed Valerie Cooper's mind before, years ago,
when she and Henry Gyrich had tried to capture Rogue (who
then was sought for a murder she hadn't committed), but instead
had hit Storm with Forge's experimental Neutralizer, depriving
her of her powers for several months. Rogue had been separated
from the X-Men's leader and later ambushed Val Cooper to track
her down -- as fate would have it, she had to save her from
a Dire Wraith attack first -- and put her into a coma that
lasted over a day. On that occasion, the transfer had been
anything but peaceful -- her mind had been filled with the
clamor of Valerie's fear and resistance, and also with her
own desire to punish Dr. Cooper for what she had done to Ororo.
Now there was nothing of that; the only parallel to the earlier
transfer was her fierce determination not to fail her friends.
What she felt from Val was gratitude and relief at escaping
from her dying body, at not having to abandon her loved ones.
She also felt her own worries of what it would be like to
live out the rest of her life sharing her skull with Val Cooper.
Minutes passed slowly, seemingly turning to hours. Rogue maintained
the flesh-to-flesh contact, while Mystique felt the comatose
At last it was over. The heart gave out, and the body
that had been Valerie Cooper's died. Rogue rose, and Raven
drew down the lids over her lover's eyes.
Rogue was sure that the transfer was permanent, she did
not feel the almost imperceptible draining pull she normally
felt after absorbing someone's powers and personality temporarily.
So far, so good. But what had she got herself into? Wasn't
it almost incestuous to share her own body with her mother's
mate? Okay, Mystique was not her biological mother. And whatever
would Magneto say when he heard the news???
She awoke with a start, both eyes simultaneously popping
open. She looked around. Magneto lay beside her, breathing
regularly. It had been a dream, or maybe it should better
be classified as a nightmare.
Or maybe even ...?
She broke out in a cold sweat. She only rarely experienced
the seventh sense she had permanently absorbed from Ms. Marvel,
but she knew that Carol Danvers sometimes had had these precognitive
visions. What if this dream was actually a vision of the future?
Or rather, of a future, since Ms. Marvel's visions
showed what could happen, not what necessarily had to happen.
Carol had on occasion prevented the catastrophic events she
foresaw from becoming a reality, maybe she could do the same.
Or maybe it really was just a dream, caused not by the most
erratic power she had absorbed from Carol Danvers, but just
by something she had eaten the preceding day.
Magneto was sleeping quietly beside her. Her heart swelled
with love for him. This was their first night they spent a
night together since the night before the final battle with
So much had happened since then. Their sad parting. His mercifully
brief return to the role of the X-Men's prime enemy. Their
clashes and battles. His giving up what they had had in the
Savage Land when he no longer wanted to listen to her appeals
to his reason and his better self, when he had Moira try and
put her under mind control and make her forget she had loved
him. At least he had attempted to make a clean break, knowing
that the love of a thrall to his will would be no replacement
for the real thing. The last fight against the X-Men, in which
Logan lost his adamantium implants, and Magneto for a time
lost his mind. Her own romance on the rebound with Gambit.
The way slick Rémy had played her like a fiddle -- feeding
the idea that he might be immune to her power, asking her
to trust him without giving any trust back -- in order not
to ask him about his past. The sudden discovery that he had
a wife, who then apparently died. His possessive annoyance
at her growing friendship with Bobby Drake. Bobby's concern.
Belladonna's return and her own sin, when Rémy took advantage
of Belle's fortuitous amnesia to keep her in the dark about
their marriage, and she let him, when she should have insisted
on calling on one of the many X-Men's telepaths to help heal
her condition. But she had been to afraid to lose Gambit totally,
so she remained passive. And then, when they thought the world
would end, the kiss that spelled finis to their romance, when
she absorbed his memories and -- after some months, during
which she was almost driven mad by what had passed from his
mind directly into her subconscious -- learned what he had
tried to keep from her, his deepest shame. She learned that
he was not the man she had thought he was, that the strength
and confidence she had admired was to a large extent bluster,
that indeed he was not so much a man as a boy, and one who
was always tempted by the easy way out, who could not bring
himself to face up to his past without a lot of help. Slowly
and painfully she came to reassess her own feelings, losing
the illusions she had nursed far too long, realizing where
her love -- or was it an infatuation? -- with Rémy had been
taking her. She had to make a break or lose the chance of
regaining her self-respect. The painful, difficult moment
when she tried to explain her changed feelings to Rémy, make
him see that she did not hate him for what he had done for
Mister Sinister, that she sympathized, but that he could not
be his girl, his prop, the way he subconsciously needed her
to be. The heartbreak at the breakup, mixed as it was for
both of them with a relief they dared not acknowledge openly.
It was the right thing to do, she no longer was mad at him
for playing with her mind, or at herself for permitting it.
It still hurt to see how Rémy tore himself up over the guilt
he could not, despite her best efforts to persuade him, admit
to any of the others, but there simply was no base left for
a relationship anything like the one Rémy once had had with
Belladonna. She came out of the dumps when she got back into
touch with her mother after Valerie Cooper pressganged Mystique
to join X-Factor. Suddenly, Rogue found herself part of a
family again, with a 'foster-brother' across the Atlantic
and soon a baby sister on the way.
And then Magneto reappeared from nowhere.
The way their old, suppressed feelings reasserted, especially
after it became clear that Magnus had turned away from his
old ways once more (and, Rogue was confident, for good), that
he no longer was an enemy, was overwhelming. But they both
had been changed to a greater or lesser extent by their experiences
in the meantime, so it was never a question of simply picking
up where they had left off in the Savage Land. They were a
touch more cautious, more deliberate now, making sure they
understood and trusted each other before proceeding to the
next level. Rogue's deflowering in the Savage Land may have
been more spontaneous, born of a passion felt more immediately
and made more urgent by the possibility that they might not
survive the battle the next day in their weakened states,
but their love-making today was the expression of a more mature
love, a deeper understanding of each other, of an unspoken
commitment. With a flash of realization, Rogue acknowledged
to herself that she was now thinking in terms of wanting to
make their relationship work, of making it something that
would only end when one of them died. There obviously would
be problems on the way, but -- by nature or because of their
different experiences -- she was much more of an optimist
than he, and confident that they were capable of rising to
whatever challenge life would throw at them. Magnus' inner
strength had of course long been legend, but he was a considerate
lover; being with him did not diminish her confidence in herself.
When she was with him she knew she remained her own woman
and that he respected her for making her own choices and her
ability to stand up even to her friends for what she believed
in. When she had been in love with Rémy (or thought she had
been), she had always been plagued by self-doubt, and on occasion
acted against her better judgment in order to conform to his
wishes. With Magneto she knew that she would not grow in his
affection by acceding to his wishes, that she would lose not
only her own respect for herself if she did not stick to what
she thought was right, but also his. Should there ever come
another situation where their philosophical differences led
to their separation (her secret fear, for who could hope to
foretell the future if even Destiny could get it wrong?),
it would break both their hearts, but their love would endure
as a memory because they loved each other too much to want
the other to betray their principles, their true self in a
misguided bid to 'save' their love. In the past, both had
tried to convince the other that their own view was the right
one, but they would never try to use their feelings for each
other as a lever to achieve that end, for that way they would
destroy those very feelings.
A deep sigh interrupted her train of thought. Magnus too
seemed to be having bad dreams, his head and upper body suddenly
thrashed left and right for a few seconds, before he subsided
again. He mumbled a few words, but they were so indistinct
she could not even decide what language they were in -- Yiddish,
German, Lithuanian (she had no idea what that sounded like),
or maybe one of the languages Magnus learned later in his
life, like Modern Hebrew? Impossible to tell. And what was
he dreaming about -- the horrors he lived through in World
War 2 and after? Or was he haunted by some deed of his own,
by victims like the sailors of the Leningrad? In an attempt
to comfort him, she wrapped him in the blanket and held him
in her close embrace, for she was not sure whether or not
his control over his powers slipped when he had a nightmare.
She whispered to him soothingly until at last he quitened
down and sank back into a deep sleep. And a while later, she
fell asleep once more, content in their closeness.
Rogue washed and showered thoroughly before breakfast. Considering
Wolverine's sense of smell, she felt it would be better not
to return to the Mansion reeking too much of sex and of Magneto.
Logan might ask questions.
When she returned to their room, she asked him, toweling
her hair: "Hmm, the obvious is out. Any suggestions,
what we're doing today? Blast, no dryer. Guess ah'll have
to go back to the old style."
"Well, we could go to the Antietam battlefield."
Magnus pointed to an article in the local newspaper. "They
had a big re-enactment nearby on the weekend and there's some
commemorative ceremonies today, for the anniversary. So you
could cover up my smell even more with some black powder..."
Rogue began to put on a pair of jeans and black shirt, part
of her traveling outfit. "It's a thought. Funny, ah hadn't
pegged you for a Civil War buff, sugar."
"It fits in with my ... usual obsessions. Man's inhumanity
to man, fearing the different and unable to coexist as equal.
I'm not really interested in the military aspects, more in
the political ones, the abolition of slavery and the subsequent
impact on race relations here."
"Yeah, where ah come from, a lot of people still like
to b'lieve it was about states' rights. Ah personally tend
to agree with something ah read somewhere: The South used
the fight for states' rights to try an' preserve slavery,
and the North used the fight against slavery to preserve the
Union. But maybe," her eyes twinkled, "just maybe
ah was corrupted by my foster-moms, since they didn't come
from the South. Or America, for that matter. You prob'ly would
get on well with Raven. She tole me the Confederacy was a
great example of 'flatscan stupidity', since without secession
and all that, slavery wouldn't and couldn't have been touched
in the Southern states."
"Yes, I recall Lincoln's finance minister said something
like that, about secession being the greatest folly committed
by a class, the thing that made emancipation possible..."
The two walked downstairs into the dining room. As they were
not the only guests having breakfast, they kept their voices
fairly low and were a bit more careful in what they said.
"Actually, before we met yesterday, I was in Lancaster
to see Thaddeus Stevens' grave," Magnus continued after
he sat down.
"Ah don't think ah remember that name..." she said
doubtfully, "'course ah wasn't always very attentive
"Sic transit gloria mundi," he replied in
theatrical resignation. "In his day, he was one of the
most admired and most hated politicians in the USA, and now
he is all but forgotten. When I asked a woman at the tourist
information for directions to the cemetery, she had to ask
her colleague. But she could have told me where President
Buchanan was buried, no problem."
He shook his head in mock exasperation and went on to explain:
"Thad Stevens was one of the leading anti-slavery and
anti-discrimination speakers in Congress during the Civil
War, one of the fathers of Reconstruction and the 14th Amendment,
you might say. To tell you the truth, I sometimes see in him
a kindred spirit, both to myself and to Charles."
He took in Rogue's slightly surprised look and went on: "Like
me, he was a radical, and when the opportunity arose to enact
his program in the context of a war, he did not hesitate to
seize it. Like Charles he was a publicly known spokesman about
his cause, and like Charles he felt he could not be totally
candid because of widespread prejudices. Stevens could not
marry the woman he loved because she was Black, and Charles...
has not come out of the closet to this very day. Like Charles,
Thaddeus Stevens believed in the equality of all men..."
"And women?" Rogue could not help asking.
"I'm afraid I don't know about that. A few of his political
friends were also active for women's rights, but as to his
own views... Anyway, he believed in equality, but like me
he had moments when he despaired of living to see it become
a reality. And sadly he didn't. But he kept fighting, even
after he died, shouting out defiance on his gravestone and
even getting re-elected."
He paused in somber thought. But then the owner brought the
toast, tea, bacon and eggs, and thanks to her arrival the
conversation turned to more pleasant matters, such as the
weather and the beautiful sights of the region in late summer.
She also offered to lend Rogue her blow-dryer when she noticed
her damp hair, an offer she was happy to take advantage of
after they had finished the meal.
It proved possible to fly to the Sharpsburg area undetected,
but after that they found themselves somewhat handicapped
because they did not have a car. Antietam National Battlefield
Park was too large to be covered on foot and there were too
many sightseers to fly from observation point to observation
point without attracting undue attention. So Rogue and Magneto
first had a look around the visitors' center and then decided
just to go to the Dunker Church. Rogue was from Mississippi,
and some Mississippi regiments had fought there, in the ranks
of Hood's Division.
They looked around the cornfields that covered the setting
of the bloodiest day in the Civil War. Rogue read the explanatory
texts on display while Magneto inspected the row of cannons
across the road. In the distance they could make out a few
of the literally dozens of state and regimental monuments
that dot the battlefield.
"So, how do you feel about your compatriots who fought
here?" Magneto asked Rogue gently after a while.
"It is an eerie feeling," she said, "ah
mean, on one level these were my people. Maybe one or two
of my ancestors fought or even got killed in this spot. Ah
know Sam's proud of his Confederate ancestors, but ah mostly
feel sad. People expect ya to support the 'Lost Cause', but
when ah think that meant that my ancestors -- whether they
admitted or knew it, or not -- gave their all, fighting Professor
Xavier's and some of my other teammates ancestors to try to
ensure that life stayed miserable for Ororo's ancestors...
An' when ah then think 'bout the cause Mystique an' me fought
for in our Brotherhood days..."
Magnus nodded almost imperceptibly. In his past he too had
once been obsessed -- to the point of madness, even -- with
an ignoble cause, that of mutant domination of the world.
Granted, he really did have mental problems at the time, from
his body's difficulties in coping with an overuse of his powers,
but knowing that did not necessarily make it easier to remember.
"So ah reckon that if mutants are Homo superior,
the superior part don't necessarily apply to their intelligence."
She smiled ruefully, and Magneto just had to smile back. They
turned to walk back to the visitors' center.
On their way, they were passed by a metallic-green stationwagon
with Mississippi plates and a bumper-sticker "Re-enactors
do it again and again". Rogue, still immersed in thoughts
of her thinking of her home state, semi-automatically gave
the driver a wave. A bit unexpectedly, the car pulled up next
to the road and waited for them. As they approached, the driver
called out: "Y'all want a lift to the re-enactors' encampment?"
They looked at each other. "Sure, why not?" Rogue
turned towards the man and said: "Thanks for the offer.
Don' mind if we accept." As they crammed into the back,
they noticed he his old-fashioned checkered shirt and patched
butternut-brown homespun trousers, obviously part of a recreated
"Hi, Jed Coote the name, ah'm with the 11th Miss."
He shook Magneto's hand and then Rogue's (Magneto quickly
put up an isolating field; gloves would have looked out of
place in the weather). Magneto gave his name as Max, Rogue
opted for the more stereotypical Penny-Sue. When Jed heard
that she too was from the Magnolia State, he was very much
pleased and determined to show 'Max' that what she said about
Southern hospitality was no exaggeration.
Once they arrived at the camp, Jed showed them around and
introduced them to his friends and to his wife, Sumitra. In
ten minutes, the two learned more about Confederate camp equipment
and 19th-century camp diseases than they ever wanted to know.
Rogue also got her chance to 'change her smell' when one of
Jed's pals let her try what it was like to fire a Springfield
musket and a 'Navy' Colt.
Magneto meanwhile talked with Mrs. Coote, a second-generation
Indian immigrant whose subcontinental features added a dash
of the big wide world to the otherwise almost parochial surroundings.
Magneto could not help asking how she felt about her husband's
hobby in view of her own background.
"Oh, we have fun, even if I cannot go on the battlefield
with him," Sumitra said with a smile. "And if we
recreate an old CSA regiment, it does not mean that we are
everybody like the originals in our politics and all of that.
Many of us just enjoy being Rebels or enjoy the romantic aspects
of the Old South. You know, even Joan Baez had her The
Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. But then we're not as
dogmatic as some about historical accuracy in camp as some
of the other units. We don't feel we have to recreate the
dysentery and other camp sicknesses, and we have the best
Chicken Korma in the Army of Northern Virginia."
"I was wondering about these scents," 'Max' interjected.
"But it is a lot more relaxed and easygoing than I expected."
"Oh, you do not know half of it," she replied.
"Re-enactment is a funny world, with all these idiosyncrasies,
inter-unit politics, differences of re-encatment philosophies
etcetera. So we get on better with some of the Union units
than with some of our fellow Confederate ones. Speaking of
which..." She turned towards a man dressed in a dark
blue uniform and a black hat who was approaching in a most
"Howdy, minions of a corrupt and crumbling oppressive
society!" the new arrival cheerfully greeted the camping
"Hello, agent of the evil capitalist Northern aggressors!"
Jed gave back with a broad grin.
"Hi Tom, meet Max," Sumitra said, "Max, this
is Tom Calani, of the 6th Wisconsin and California. And Penny-Sue
should be around here somewhere..."
Rogue was indeed around, having just been decked out in the
full regalia of a captain of the regiment and having Polaroid
photographs taken (Magneto of course made sure that he did
not appear on any of them). When she took off the gold-braided
cap and shook out her hair, Tom suddenly raised his eyebrows,
but did not say a thing.
Of course Tom and Jed, too, were drawn into the discussion
'Max' had started, and of course, as he had a reputation as
a troublemaker to maintain, Tom propounded a definitely radical
view of the Civil War, while Jed became more apologetic for
the Old South than he otherwise would have been. Finally Sumitra
called an end to proceedings, adding: "And anyway, Mississippi
is the only state that elected Blacks into the US Senate during
After that, the conversation turned to other matters, and
after about half an hour 'Max' and 'Penny' said their good-byes.
Tom went with them part of the way. As they walked through
the trees, he took Rogue aside and almost blurted out his
question: "Excuse me for asking, but aren't you one of
Rogue might have said yes immediately under normal circumstances,
but with Magneto around she was a bit wary: "Now whatever
gives ya that idea?"
"Well, about three years ago I was on a train going
into Edinburgh, Scotland, when suddenly there was this superheroine
who looked a lot like you -- especially the hair -- and she
flew by, dropped this little blond fella into the carriage
I was in, and then she stopped the train just in time to prevent
it from derailing. And then, a few weeks later I move to San
Francisco, and suddenly the X-Men are in town fighting some
super bad guy. And you were with them, weren't you?"
"What if ah was?" was Rogue's guarded reply.
"Well, I'd like to thank you, obviously, for saving
my life, or at least from injury."
"Really?" Rogue smiled, a bit relieved, "that's
very nice of you. A lot of the time we tend to get blamed
for the damage ourselves, so ah'm glad our work is appreciated
by some. So, you're from San Fran?"
"Yup, moved there three years ago. Originally I'm from
"We always liked it in San Francisco, people always
were much friendlier'n pretty much anywhere else. Seem to
have much fewer problems 'bout livin' together with mutants."
"Oh, but we don't a monopoly on that, I think,"
Tom said modestly, "there's good people everywhere..."
"Ah wasn't gonna deny that," Rogue replied, "there's
usually just a few hard-shell mutant-haters, and a lot of
those who give us a hard time are the same way to non-mutant
superheroes. But to balance it, there's also people who stick
up for 'mutie rights', even if they usually don't seem to
make the news," She sighed. "Friends of Humanity
seem t'make better copy..."
"Yeah, they seem to be on the news a lot, don't they,
especially with their head guy running for President."
"Uh-huh," Rogue said noncommittally.
"And the others -- for instance, you just met Jed and
Sumitra. They were very active in organizing protests to prevent
a child people said was a mutant from being driven out of
their local high school. But that never made the national
"Really?" Magnus, who had listened in silence up
until now, joined in. "What happened?"
"Oh, in the end the boy turned out not to be a mutant
after all," Tom explained, "it had started with
him trying to draw attention to himself and then got out of
hand. But everyone thought he was when they started the protests.
I guess it's the principle that counts."
"You're probably right," Magneto replied.
Tom now turned to him: "D'you two know each other long?
Are you also with... I don't remember seeing you with the
others in '93..."
"Now, now," Rogue interrupted him, "let's
not ask too many questions. Max is a friend, let's leave it
"Oh, I suppose you have your reasons," Tom shrugged.
"Superheroing really is a funny business, I guess."
He pulled out his pocket watch to check the time. "Well,
I got to hurry back to the Iron Brigade camp now, or I'll
only get leftovers. Do you want to come?"
Rogue and Magneto thanked for the offer, but sadly declined,
saying it was time for them to be on their way home anyway.
"Well, it was a pleasure meeting you," Tom said,
"and if you're ever in San Francisco again, I'm in the
phone book." And with that and friendly wishes they parted,
Tom turning right into the bushes, and Rogue and Magneto left,
ostensibly towards the road, but really to find a spot where
they could take off unobserved.
"I guess you would have gone with him or have stayed
longer at the other camp if it wasn't for me," Magneto
said after Tom Calani had passed out of view and hearing.
"Maybe," she said reluctantly.
"It's really envy you for this," he said quietly,
"you make it look so easy, making acquaintances and pleasant
conversation. Sorry being around me spoils things for you."
Tom remembered Rogue, who knew if he might not also recall
the media coverage of Magneto's trial.
"You spoiled nothing, sugar," Rogue insisted, "ah'm
here 'cause ah wanted to be with you. Ah... love you. And
if that means puttin' up with some... inconvenience from time
She moved closer in order to kiss him, but suddenly shrank
back. "This really sucks. Can't even touch you too much
'cause of Wolvie's nose." She kicked up some dirt in
frustration. Magneto sighed sympathetically, but that did
not help. "Magnus, what are we goin' to do? Do we keep
meetin' just once every month or two? How long do we want
to keep this a secret? How long can we?"
Magneto was a bit taken aback by her sudden vehemence. "Do
you think they suspect?"
"Ah'm pretty sure momma, uh, Mystique suspects. And
as for the others -- well, it's impossible to tell what Wolvie
thinks if he doesn't tell you. And ah hate lyin' to friends
and fam'ly 'bout something ah'm not ashamed of!"
Magneto was hesitant: "But after what happened when
I tried to be an X-Man, and after that. When you just think
about what I did to Wolverine..."
Rogue earnestly looked him in the eyes: "Look, ah don't
want you to become anything you don't want to be. But ah want
to be with you more, and ah want to be upfront about it. Would
it be too much just to talk to the Prof and some o' the others?
You could do your own thing as you do now, but at least try
and talk with 'em. Ah'm sure ah can get 'em to listen. Ah
mean, you haven't tried to take over the world ever since
our last battle, you even gave everybody some help in Hamburg,
and ah'm sure we can work something out with Logan, he always
is more, uhm, interested in people who hurt his friends than
those who tried to kill him..."
Magneto had to smile. "Well, if you're as persuasive
with them as you are with me, how can I say no? I'll talk
with Charles. But how are we going to go about it?"
He barely was able to finish his last question before Rogue
had him in her embrace and connected in a long drawn-out kiss.
When she was finished, she said: "Well, if you're game,
ah'm for the direct approach. Let's just go."
And after a final moment of hesitation, Magneto acquiesced,
and the two mutants took to the air, setting off north towards
New York and Salem Center.
For this story, which was first printed in Hamburg Menshevik
#50 for the May 1998 mailing of MZS-APA, I made use of some
of my experiences of my journey across the US in 1993. I then
visited Washington, parts of Pennsylvania and the Antietam
battlefield. When I was in Lancaster, PA, I too found it rather
difficult to locate Thaddeus Stevens' grave. However, I have
no firsthand experience of what American Civil War re-enactors
in America are like, the ones that are here are partly based
on what I remember from my experiences with Napoleonic re-enactors,
mainly in Britain, in the 1980s, and partly simply made up.
The MZS-APA homepage is at http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Studios/8661/.
In der Bar zum Krokodil is by Engel, Berger and Beda.
Pennsylvania Polka is by Lester Lee and Zeke Manners.
Professor X helped Rogue to control her powers to heal Wolfsbane
and Sunsport in NEW MUTANTS #25.
Rogue was possibly thinking of the following quote from George
Washington Cable: The Negro Question (New York 1890)
"Emancipation of the negroes was
not what the North fought for, but only what it fought with.
The right to secede was not what the South fought for, but
only what it fought with. The great majority of the Southern
people loved the Union, and consented to its destruction only
when there seemed no other way to save slavery; the great
bulk of the North consented to destroy slavery only when there
seemed no other way to save the Union."
Magneto was thinking of something Salmon Portland Chase said
at one of the celebrations after the announcement of the Emancipation
Proclamation (recorded by Lincoln's secretary John Hay):
"This is the most wonderful history
of an insanity of a class that the world has ever seen. No
party, no public feeling in the North could ever have hoped
to touch what the rebels have madly placed in the very path
The inscription on Thaddeus' Stevens' grave reads:
I REPOSE IN THIS QUIET AND SECLUDED SPOT,
NOT FROM ANY NATURAL PREFERENCE FOR SOLITUDE
BUT, FINDING OTHER CEMETERIES LIMITED AS TO RACE
BY CHARTER RULES,
I HAVE CHOSEN THIS THAT I MIGHT ILLUSTRATE IN MY DEATH
THE PRINCIPLES WHICH I ADVOCATED
THROUGH A LONG LIFE:
EQUALITY OF MAN BEFORE HIS CREATOR.
Mississippi elected two Black US Senators during Reconstruction:
Hiram R. Revels (1870-71), who ironically held Jefferson Davis'
old seat, and Blanche K. Bruce (1875-1881).
Useful books include: Fawn M. Brodie: Thaddeus Stevens. Scourge
of the South (New York 1959) and Stephen W. Sears: Landscape
Turned Red. The Battle of Antietam (New Haven 1983).
Thanks to Rivka Jacobs and Alara Rogers for their input.
The characters in this story are copyrighted and trademarked
by Marvel Comics, with the following exceptions: Dale and
Audrey Cooper (née Horne) belong to David Lynch and Mark Frost;
Tom Calani, Irene Cooper, Jed and Sumitra Coote are mine.
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