DISCLAIMER: All characters belong
to Marvel, and no dinero is being made off of this.
CONTINUITY: Takes place between X-Men (2nd
series) #42 and X-Men #45. Lots of angst to choose from!
REQUISITE DEIFICATION: Thanks to Mitai for beta reading
and to Tilman Stieve for back-issue hunting.
FEEDBACK: Yes, please -- and lots of it -- to firstname.lastname@example.org
What am I doing here?
It would be the understatement of the year to say it's been
a pretty ... interesting ... month. With the lives we live,
you could say it's been a pretty "interesting" life,
But putting it all in perspective, I think it's pretty safe
to say that this past month has just sucked.
Losing your mind -- in more ways than one -- can do that
to you, I guess.
I'm better now. Better than I was before, at least. I have
to be the strong one, the responsible one right now.
Wouldn't do either of us any good if we both cracked,
now, would it?
I can't really picture myself as the strong, authoritative
type. Maybe I got that from Emma. Everyone knows that "Bobbo
the clown" is incapable of being serious.
So why am I here in Key West, tagging along with Rogue? She
seems fine -- now -- dancing her heart out and looking like
she's having a blast out on the dance floor. Maybe I'm
the headcase here. They say it's always the quiet ones, and
it's not like I'm saying much of anything to anyone, babbling
to myself while I nurse a beer at the bar.
Well, trying to nurse it. This is pretty rancid swill.
Then again, in a place like this, maybe I shouldn't expect
too much from the bar. From the looks of the drunks at the
tables, the emphasis here is quantity, not quality.
I'm becoming quite the purist in my old age, aren't I? Wonder
if that's because of Emma, too.
Uh, oh. Looks like trouble on the dance floor.
Rogue, do you want to get yourself in trouble? When
we started out on this trip, you made it flat-out clear: no
powers. The way you're dancing so close to that guy, the way
you're dressed (or not dressed), the way that dance floor
is so crowded -- Someone's going to touch your skin at some
point, whether by accident or on purpose. The way your dance
partner's looking at you right now...He's probably going to
try to cop a feel or something any minute now. Some of the
other locals are looking at you, too.
Time to put on the kid gloves and intervene. I know you're
going to shoot me for this. You're going to say that you're
perfectly capable of taking care of yourself and that I should
just stay out of your business. Stay out of your way. And
But then again I know that if something does happen
tonight, you're going to be all over me later, yelling at
me for not stopping you. Dealing with whatever you absorbed
from Gambit is bad enough. God knows what absorbing someone
else will do to you right now.
Yes, I know you're strong. Yes, I know you're perfectly capable.
Mr. Friendly looks like he's about to pounce. He's only an
arm's length away -- too late to back out now, Bobster. A
twist of the wrist, flash of the ice, and the guy's down on
the ground. 20 points for the Iceman!
I grab Rogue's wrist and pull her out of the crowd, out of
the bar. She's mad at me. Looking back, I see that Mr. Friendly
and his buddies don't look too happy, either. Believe me,
guys, you wouldn't want to touch her; she'll only hurt you.
Why did I just think that?
The anger in her eyes, brightly glowing red, catches my eye.
Even a couple days after her kiss with Gambit, she still has
his eyes, and it really startles me when she looks at me without
glasses. Too used to those deep green eyes. Now, her fury,
combined with those devil eyes, manages to scare the crap
out of me. She yanks her hand out of mine and stalks off,
shooting me a poisonous look before she turns the corner out
Let her go. Don't let the frustration get the better of you,
Bobby. Don't want to make things worse for this trip by snapping
at her. She's probably going back to the hotel. Going to tear
up a pillow or something and pretend it's my face. Love you,
I turn my head for a moment before I round the corner. Looks
like the party's started back up at the bar. Kinda funny --
this doesn't seem like Rogue's kind of nightspot. Seems like
the kind of place we'd find Logan. Or Gambit.
It's like 3 in the morning. Where could she be? My eyes scan
the room. Her stuff's still here. Looking...Looking... The
newspaper's sitting open on the table. I don't remember buying
Lessee...local drowning...Jimmy Buffett concert...highway
renovations...new exhibit at the art museum. Something tells
me that that's the one. Reading further... 16th-century
Spanish artifacts, valued at quite a bit... Shit.
Rogue, what have you gotten yourself into?
She hasn't said a word since I picked her up at the museum
two hours ago. The past few days together, I've gotten used
to her moodiness. Gotten used to the manic swings between
hyperactive mischiefmaker and sullen depressive. But this
is seriously starting to get to me.
I can see her through the sliding glass door, sitting out
on the balcony. She's perched on the railing, with her legs
dangling out over the concrete sidewalk 10 stories down. Anyone
else sitting out there like that and I'd be worried about
them jumping. Rogue's invulnerable, though. Even if she did
jump, the fall wouldn't do hardly anything to her.
Still, the idea of her jumping is...unsettling. If she wasn't
invulnerable, would she do it? I'm halfway frightened that,
with everything that's been going on lately, she might.
A knock on the door. Room service brings in an early breakfast.
I'd ordered Rogue's favorites -- scrambled eggs, biscuits
and gravy, sausage, orange juice. She doesn't even turn around.
I wait five minutes, then join her out on the balcony. I
nearly gag on the smell of cigarette smoke.
"What is it, Bobby?"
"Umm...Breakfast is here. Room service just brought
"No offense, but Ah'm not really hungry right now."
"Okay. I guess I'll just give your breakfast the special
Bobby Drake freeze-dry treatment. It'll be...um...oh, nevermind..."
Yeah, Bobby. Nevermind. Can't even crack a decent joke these
I see her take a long drag from the cigarette, then slowly
exhale the smoke through her nostrils. "Bobby, what's
happening to me?"
You're going crazy. Losing it. You're losing yourself, and
it's scaring me. After losing myself to Emma, I can't understand
how you can use your powers at all. I guess you're comfortable
knowing that whoever you touch will be gone, out of your head
soon enough. Something must have gone wrong when you kissed
I warned you.
Why did I just think that?
I can't bring myself to answer her, and her question just
hangs there in the uneasy silence between us. She takes a
few more puffs from her cigarette, then pauses to light a
new cigarette. I have to resist the urge to grab the pack
and lighter out of her shaking hands.
It's hard to see her like this. Then again, what can I do
to make things better? Zippo. The Prof might have been able
to do something, but she skipped out of the mansion so fast
that I could barely catch up to her and convince her to let
me come along.
I look back inside the room for a moment. Breakfast is getting
cold. Oh well. I've kind of lost my appetite anyway. I turn
my head back to the balcony ledge.
I rub my eyes and shake my head. No, it's Rogue. But with
her head silhouetted behind the moon, I could have sworn...
Nevermind. We don't need two headcases on this trip.
She's looking at me. With her sunglasses on, I can't see
her eyes, so I can't really make out the expression on her
face. She stares at me for what seems like hours. Then she
pushes herself off the railing.
I ice up in the half-second it takes to get to the railing,
ready to...do something...to save her from falling. I breathe
a sigh of relief when I see her, just floating there about
five stories down. Watching the sunrise. She seems fine.
Of course she's fine, idiot. She's invulnerable, and she
can fly. If she wasn't, it's not like you could have
done anything to save her. Emma probably could have. Not Bobby.
Jean would have caught her in a TK bubble. Warren -- jumped
off the balcony and flown down to catch her. Hank...Hank probably
would have devised some ingenious thing to catch her, or to
save her from dying after she landed. With his powers, Scott
wouldn't have been able to do anything but watch her fall
or give the others orders. I guess that makes me feel a little
Well, not really.
I keep watching Rogue, watching the sunrise. She seems a
lot calmer, a lot more together. Probably doing some kind
of meditation to get herself back under control. I see her
glance up at me, and I step back from the railing. She doesn't
want me watching her. Well, that's perfectly understandable.
I go back inside the room. Breakfast is still there, sitting
on the pushcart. I help myself to some cold scrambled eggs.
Austin's been a lot of fun. Well, flat tire on MoPac aside...
She says we'll be fine, that we've used up all our
bad karma and that we'll probably get...wherever it is we're
going...just fine without buying another spare tire. Besides,
she said, there's also the issue of the expense. And she's
right -- I've nearly maxed out my Visa on this road trip.
But I still don't like the idea of driving without a spare.
It's too unpredictable.
Then again, look at who I'm travelling with.
She's gotten a lot better lately, though. We left Key West
the day after the museum incident. The further we got into
Florida, the more like her normal self she became, chatting,
joking, even playing little games with other drivers on the
interstate. By the time we got to Mobile, Alabama, her eyes
had returned to their normal color, and it seemed like she
was truly back to "normal."
She really tensed up when we got to the Mississippi state
border, and she had me drive through Mississippi and Louisiana.
She made me take the long way, through country backroads and
all, to get through Louisiana because I-10 ran through New
Orleans. Going through Louisiana especially, she really worried
me, looking over her shoulder whenever something "unusual"
caught her eye. She kept pushing me to drive faster. If it
had occurred to her, I think she may have just picked up the
car and flown us out of the state.
Once New Orleans and the whole of Louisiana were far behind
us, though, she visibly relaxed and became more like herself
again. We checked out a baseball game in Houston. Danced and
barhopped along the Riverwalk in San Antonio.
We came to Austin on a lark, deciding to check out the city
just for the heck of it. I've never figured Rogue for much
of a country music person, but she's had a lot of fun at some
of the bars and stuff around here. I even got into the act
and bought a cowboy hat. She'll give me that goofy, "Ah
can't beLIEVE you're wearin' that" look when we leave
the motel in the morning, and sometimes when we're just driving
down the road someplace. Then I'll chide her about being a
traitor to her punk rock roots. Her usual response is to pull
my hat down over my eyes so I can't see, then give me a punch
on the shoulder.
Right now we're at Zilker Park, sitting on the grass in the
middle of a crowd of sunbathers. There's a rock band playing
over on the stage. A bunch of kids are splashing it up down
in the creek. It's hot and god-awfully humid. If the devil
wanted tips on how to make Hell more unbearable, he'd add
humidity like this. Maybe I'll mention that to Magik the next
time she comes back from the dead.
That was bad of me.
Rogue's sitting next to me, just basking in the sun. I can't
believe she looks like she's actually enjoying this
weather. Grew up with it, I guess. But, geez...it's just inhumanly
She notices the look on my face and laughs, squirting me
with water from her water bottle. "Doesn't take a telepath
to know you're just dyin' here in this heat." She gets
up and, barefoot, heads over to the concession stand, carefully
stepping over the sunbathers in her path. She seems a lot
happier, a lot more stable now. Her insistence on keeping
this a "power-free" trip aside, I'd say she's been
back to her normal self for the past few days. Maybe she's
off that manic roller coaster now.
Maybe she'll actually talk to me now about what's been going
on. Why she had to go on this trip and run away from everyone.
I have an idea, of course, but it'll do her -- and maybe me,
too -- some good just to talk it out.
And maybe it'll be okay for me to talk to her, too, about
Nah...That can wait.
An unexpected tap on my shoulder interrupts my thoughts.
Turning around, I see...Emma?
"Hi, stranger," she says.
She crouches down on the grass next to me and looks out at
the bright water of the creek in front of us. "Beautiful
day today. It's always fun to people watch on days like this.
All kinds of folks come to cool off and relax by the springs."
I look back at her. She's not Emma, but she bears a striking
resemblance to her. Tall, slender, straight blonde hair. Something
of a permanent smirk on her face.
"Name's Laura. Student at UT. You?" She sticks
out her hand, and I shake it.
"Bobby. I'm just on a...road trip with a friend of mine."
"Ah. Didn't seem like y'all were from around here."
"Nah. We're from New York. Well...I am. She's
originally from Mississippi, but she kinda lives in New York
"What part of New York?"
"Westchester. We've got a place kind of out in the country."
"So you guys live together?"
"Yes. I mean, no. I mean, yes, but not like that."
I feel my face begin to grow hot. "We live in a big house
with some friends. We're students."
I look over Laura's shoulder and see Rogue over at the concession
stand. She's just standing there, smiling at me. She winks.
"Sounds like fun." She smiles. "Me and some
of my friends are having a party tonight. You're welcome
to come, if you like. Your friend' can come, too."
"Umm...sure." I smile gamely as she scribbles down
the address and a small map. "Thanks."
She stands up and walks off. "See ya tonight!"
I look at the map. I don't know the city very well yet, but
I think the address is somewhere near the university. I'm
still trying to mentally work out how to get there when Rogue
sits down next to me, a hot dog in each hand.
"She seemed nice," she says, offering me a hot
"You set me up, didn't you?"
"Well, Ah may have suggested that she come over
and talk to you. What's the harm in that?"
I hand her the piece of paper. "She invited us to a
"Oh, darn. A party. We just can't have strange girls
inviting you to parties, can we?" The sarcasm in her
voice is almost palpable, going well with the self-satisfied
smirk on her face.
"Is there a reason why you're trying to get me
"Just thought you might like to have a little fun on
this trip. Anythin' wrong with that?"
"Guess not," I mumble. "Just...she looked
a lot like Emma."
"Huh?" Rogue looks at me, confused. "What
do you mean?"
"Tall, thin, straight blonde hair. Sounds like Emma
"Um...Bobby? Laura had curly black hair and dark skin."
I feel my face redden with embarrassment and confusion. She
puts her gloved palm against my forehead. "You okay,
I so don't want to go to this party. After what happened
this afternoon... I don't want to think about what'll happen
if she comes up to me and I don't recognize her. Or, worse,
if she looks like Emma again.
What's going on these days? I don't get why I keep seeing
Emma everywhere. Is she consciously trying to mess with my
head, or is there some kind of residue of her still left?
I know for sure that Emma Frost is not someone I want
messing with my head. Don't want to get on that woman's bad
There's a knock on the door and I answer it. Rogue walks
right past me, grabs my duffel bag off the bed and practically
drags me to the car.
"We've got to leave. Now."
There's a dangerous edge to her voice, and I don't want to
argue with her.
"Okay." I slide uneasily into the passenger seat.
She backs out of the parking space and speeds through the
city streets to the highway. "Um...Rogue? What's going
"Nothing. Nothing. Ah...just have a bad feeling, okay?"
We ride in silence as she races out of the city, heading
north towards Oklahoma.
Told you so.
God forbid I actually say that aloud, though. Nah. I'll say
it anyway. She's ignoring me, focusing on her Clearly Canadian
instead of the flat tire on our rental car.
"'Maybe we should have replaced that spare tire we used
in Austin, Rogue.' 'Who knows if we'll get another flat, Rogue?'
'It's not wise to tour the country on four tires, Rogue.'
Does any of this ring a bell -- Rogue?"
"Every word, sugah. And do you remember me
sayin' 'Ya gotta learn to relax, Bobby?' After all, is it
really all that bad, Mister Drake? There are probably plenty
o' fellas who could think of a worser fate than bein' trapped
in the middle o' absolutely nowhere with me."
She's being patronizing, but I don't want to argue. Time
to problem-solve... "Yeah, well, when you put it like
that... I guess it wouldn't be a problem for me to use my
mutant ice powers to whip up a temporary tire to get us to
the nearest gas--"
"Two words: 'No' and 'way'." A smirk on her face,
she pours some of her water on my shoulder. It's ice-cold,
and with all the sugar in that stuff, I know it's going to
be sticky later.
"Hey! what gives?"
"When ya begged to join me on this road trip, ya agreed
to one rule. 'No powers.'"
A rule that you've broken a number of times yourself, Rogue.
"True. But I assumed you were talking about no 'in costume
let's go out and save the world' X-Men powers. What's wrong
with using our mutant abilities to get us from point A to
"No dice, Ice." She grabs her bag out of the car
and starts walking away from me. "Ah wanted -- ah needed
some time away from bein' a mutant in general and an X-Man
in particular. Ah thought you understood that."
"Sure, but --"
"If we need a spare tire, we'll get it the normal way."
Rogue, Rogue, Rogue... you haven't been the same since you
kissed Gambit. I don't mind reaching out to you... to be a
friend when you need one. Here's hoping I don't evaporate
in the process.
I grab a map out of the glove box before I run to catch up
with her. Just think of it as an adventure, Bobby...
It's too hot to be adventuring.
We walk for like three hours before finally stopping. Rogue
spies a trail leading to a nice, big rock overlooking a series
of mesas. Thankful for the break, I climb up on the rock next
to her to watch the sunset.
All the colors and shadows are really hypnotizing. Sunsets
out west really are like no others. It's so easy to lose yourself
I glance at Rogue; she seems focused on watching the scene,
too. She's trying to control her breathing, almost like a
meditative exercise. It doesn't look like it's working. I've
noticed she's been less and less successful with her "cool-down"
exercises lately. She's definitely been a lot more irritable.
She looks like she's fighting something mentally, like she's
pondering something that's bothering her.
"So. What are you thinking?"
She shakes her head playfully, but a hint of annoyance crosses
her face. "Who says ah'm thinkin' anything? Why can't
ah just be enjoyin' the view?"
"Rogue, please. This is the Bobster you're talking to.
As Iceman, I've made a career of denial. Or so I recently
discovered." This may be a good time to talk to her,
maybe try to get her to talk out what's been bothering her.
I test out my "theory" about her problems. "Downtime
is one thing, Rogue, but it's pretty obvious you saw something
in Remy's mind -- when you kissed him. Something that scared
"Even if ah remembered -- and ah ain't sayin'
ah do -- maybe ah ain't ready to talk about it."
"Yet." She seems to float down off the rock and
heads back toward the road.
"Yet" is good, I guess. Means maybe there's some
hope she'll talk it out. Sooner rather than later, I hope.
The longer she keeps this in, the more irritable she gets.
I'd still like to know what happened in Austin. Everything
seemed to go downhill after we left there.
"Nice move, Drake."
Her voice sounds like ice. It's unmistakable. Figures that
she'd show up sometime and actually talk to me.
"Wha-- The White Queen?!"
"Please, Bobby, it's 'Emma' to everyone I've been intimate
with. And it doesn't get much more intimate than two minds
sharing the same body, does it?"
Gee, Emma, you put it so genteel. Make it sound like it was
all quite the pleasant experience, instead of you invading
my mind and using my powers better than I've ever been able
to do. She's got a lot of brass just sitting as-you-please
there on the rock next to me. I feel the anger begin to build.
Doesn't take very long; it's been there for quite a while
and is just waiting to be released. "Knock it off, Frost!
What are you doing here?"
"Who says I'm even 'here' at all? Maybe I'm just in
The anger, the remembered sense of violation -- it all comes
boiling back to the surface, and I feel almost violent. "Don't
play games with me, you --!!"
I hear Rogue's voice from around the bend. "Bobby? Who
ya talkin' to, sugah?"
My head spins in the direction of the sound to make sure
Rogue didn't see me. She's out of sight, though, and I allow
myself a brief sigh of relief. Then I turn back to Emma. She's
"Who says I was talking to someone? We ready to go?"
Where's Hank when I need him? Rogue's "relapsing,"
so to speak, and Emma's haunting me more than ever. Hank would
know what to do. Hank always knows what to do.
At the very least, I'd be able to talk to him. I don't want
to bother Rogue right now with my problems. She's got enough
of her own.
Nah...He's so busy searching for a cure to the Legacy Virus
right now. Probably doesn't have time to talk. Besides, he's
got problems of his own, what with Trish selling him out on
national TV. We'll talk when I get back. Whenever that is.
It's probably stupid of me, but I'm going to call Emma Frost.
Rogue's in there paying the check. I've already picked up
the car from the repair shop. What harm could it be?
What if she is somehow playing with my mind from this
far away? She was able to activate my powers from 10 feet
away, just by plugging into my head with her telepathy. She
possessed my body and was able to use my powers in ways I'd
never dreamed, when she'd had my body for just hours and I'd
had it for my entire life.
She scares me.
Is it because she could kick my ass whenever she wanted to
with just a thought? Or is it because she's a living, breathing
reminder of what a slacker I am? Because while Scott, Jean,
Warren and Hank have gone on to do great things with their
powers and their lives, I've always played it safe as the
class clown and the team accountant?
Makes a guy feel like such a success story to be reminded
of all his past failures like this.
Rogue'll be a few minutes more. She said she had to hit the
restroom, too, before we leave. Should I call?
I pick up the phone. The mouthpiece smells like cigarette
smoke, and I take care to hold it as far away from my mouth
as possible while I punch in my calling card number and the
number to the Massachusetts Academy. It's late in Massachusetts
right now, but everyone lives in the building. Someone has
Although I'm dreading that she might be the one who picks
Instead the phone rings. And rings. Six rings. Seven rings.
Instead of call waiting, the Academy has voice mail, so if
someone's on the main line and someone calls, the caller goes
straight to the answering system. And if the phone's been
ringing this long, someone had to have turned off the answering
machine function, then.
That means someone's there. My bet's that it's Emma.
I feel a faint tickling in my brain. I don't know if I'm
imagining it or if it's actually there, but it's mocking me.
The ringing of the phone is mocking me. "Emma,"
I yell into the phone, "I know you're there. Pick up
I try to project my thoughts toward her, like the Prof taught
us back when the Institute was still a real school. *Stop
messing with my head!* I scream. *Pick up the damn
phone! I know you're there!*
My only answer is the faint sound of mocking laughter in
Bobby Drake, you've been possessed by a former villainess,
been sent to the past and had your memory erased, been dragged
along on the road trip from hell and completely maxed out
your credit card. What are you going to do now?
I'm going to...Seattle?
Well, on this trip, Rogue's wish is her command, I suppose.
And I get the feeling that we're not going there to relive
early 90s grunge and make a pilgrimage to Kurt Cobain's grave.
She's beyond worrying me. At some points she downright frightens
me. She'll get angry at the slightest provocation -- sometimes
violently angry. She threw a huge boulder at me and
the car for asking where we were going.
It's not just the quick-to-violent-anger stuff that's bothering
me. It's the quick drop from angry high to sobbing despair
in less than 30 seconds that worries me.
And it's been getting worse the closer we get to Seattle.
I know it has everything to do with Gambit. Her skittishness,
her roller coaster mood swings, her admission that even she
doesn't know exactly what's going on -- It's just like back
in Key West, when this all started. When she had Gambit's
eyes and tried to steal from that museum. She's even taken
up smoking again, although I think she's trying to hide it
We're in southern Oregon now. If things are this bad now,
God help us when we get to Seattle.
Well...we're here. To borrow from Han Solo, I've got a bad
feeling about this. It's a dark and stormy night, and while
that's not all that unusual for Seattle, it's only adding
to my feeling of dread about being here.
If I thought Rogue was tense before... She has me drive down
to the University of Washington and park in one of the more
commercial areas. She jumps out of the car at her first opportunity
and is out of sight before I can catch her. I don't have time
to suggest she wear a jacket, either.
Given the way she's been acting lately, I figure this is
not a good time to just let her run off like that.
I follow after her. This seems like a bar district. Lots of
college students, either summer school kids or ones who live
in the neighborhood already. Rogue and I blend right in, I
I peek into bar after bar, looking for her. I finally find
her at one near the end of the road. Not much of a surprise
that she's already surrounded by college boys offering her
drinks. This crowd doesn't look nearly as menacing as the
one in Key West, but considering that this is a group of college-age,
Time to put on the kid gloves again.
Just like in Key West, she's not happy that I'm there
to spoil her fun again. But just look at you, Rogue: the gloves
are off. I've got a feeling that you're not about to
be pulling any punches today, and you can do some serious
Yes, I know you're strong. Yes, I know you're perfectly capable.
She doesn't even give me the chance to talk to her this time,
flying through the roof before I can really catch her.
So much for that "no powers" rule.
Her "spectacular" exit broke some of the roof supports.
I use my ice powers to shore up the roof and keep it from
caving in. And this crowd is starting to look dangerous. I've
spoiled their good time, and as far as they're concerned,
I've also spoiled their hangout. Blame it all on the mutie
And here's the spectacular entrance by the enigmatic Gambit,
to the rescue once again.
I could've handled it myself -- without destroying the bar
any more than it was already. But that's not the way of the
modern X-Man, is it?
All he asks is where Rogue's gone. I tell him I don't know,
and he tells me to follow him.
"How do you know where she is?" I ask as we ride
my ice slide through downtown Seattle.
"Just a stab in the dark."
That's the way it always is with you, isn't it Gambit? Shadows
and mirrors. You're scared to death that something's gonna
come back and bite you in the butt, aren't you? Something
you did a long time ago, or maybe even something you're involved
I truly hope it does. Whatever she absorbed from you is eating
her alive. Whatever you did, you don't deserve her.
Woah -- Rein in the hostility, Bobby. It's not going to help
you get to Rogue any faster.
We find her at
an abandoned theater in a run-down side of town. Well, to
be more accurate, Gambit brings me to an abandoned theater
in a run-down side of town and tells me that Rogue's inside.
He dives in through the skylight, leaving me on the roof.
I want to follow, but get the hint that he wants to talk to
And he should. He should tell her what's going on, explain
why she's been falling apart.
It's really a matter between the two of them, and it's best
that I stay out of it. It's none of my business. But after
spending the past three weeks with Rogue, I feel...responsible,
I guess, for her.
Rogue bursts through the roof of the theater -- gee, is that
like a recurring theme tonight or what -- and starts to fly
away. I hear Gambit calling after her. Should I follow her?
It's her life, but...
Yes, Rogue, I know you're strong. Yes, I know you're perfectly
You have to stop running away like this.
I follow her on my ice slide. She slows down to let me catch
up, and we both stop mid-air to talk. I tell her she needs
to stop running away from her problems and herself. She tells
me to listen to my own advice.
Her comment stings, as if she's slapped me across the face.
I try to push it aside, telling myself that she's not herself
now, that she doesn't really know what she's talking about.
But it still nags at me, like a needle pricking me on the
back of the neck.
But I don't get a chance, really, to respond to her. Gambit
decides to play hero and uses a charged-up sandbag to pull
her back down to the ground before she can get away again.
Takes down most of the building in the process. He didn't
need to intervene. I could've handled it myself -- without
destroying the building any more than it was already.
The blast shatters my ice slide, too, and I have to get inventive
to get back down to the ground without killing myself. One
twisty-twirly ice slide to the rescue. If I wasn't so annoyed
about being knocked down in the first place, I might actually
enjoy the ride.
I'm not incompetent. I could have dealt with Rogue, maybe
gotten her to calm down, if you'd given me the chance, Gambit.
But no -- not only do you have to interrupt, but you have
to make a fool of me in the process.
Okay... deep breath... Calm down...
I skid to a stop and finally get back on my feet, briefly
glancing around to make sure no one saw my less-than-spectacular
nosedive. I'm almost... disappointed?... when I realize no
I jog over to the front of the building to make sure Rogue's
okay. What am I thinking? Of course she's okay, physically
at least. A building could fall on her and she'd walk right
out from under it without a scratch.
I see Gambit help Rogue out of the rubble, and they start
to talk. I think they've forgotten I'm even there, and I'm
starting to feel like the third wheel here. Always in the
But in spite of myself, I stay and watch. Gambit is standoffish
as ever about talking about his past, trying to talk his way
out of the situation. And Rogue keeps switching between pushing
him away and begging him to tell her the truth.
But then Gambit does something that surprises me. He offers
to let her absorb him again, so that maybe this time she'll
be able to see his memories and unlock whatever's stuck up
in her mind. I worry about what it'll do to her, absorbing
him and maybe losing herself again to him and his memories.
But at least then the cards will be on the table, so to speak.
She turns him down. I'm not surprised.
"Ah'm sorry, Remy," she says.
"Me too, Chere. What now?"
"I don't know. I want some time to myself."
"You're leaving the X-Men?" I ask. I start feeling
almost...panicked?...at the idea.
"For a bit."
Great. "Bobby the Failure" yet again. "Rogue,
"Be good, Bobby. Be strong -- in control. You can be
if you just try." She acts like she's saying her last
good-byes. She's planning to be gone for a long time.
Gambit interrupts. "And what about us? I love you, Rogue."
"Ah love you too, Remy. From the first time ah laid
eyes on ya. Ah thought, Honey, this snake charmer is
as close ta Prince Charming as you're evah gonna get.'"
"Girl, I'm sorry that I couldn' live up to ya expectations."
"No, that's the saddest part of all, Remy--you did.
You were exactly what I expected."
He's on his knees as she flies away. I look at Gambit as
he watches Rogue disappear from sight. He's visibly upset
by it all. Anger and disappointment flash across his face.
I can't decide if I hate him for driving Rogue away or if
I feel bad for him.
"Look...I know we're not best buds or anything, but
if you want to talk..."
He brushes me off. What did I expect? Instant friendship?
to take a few days off. Probably mope a little. Do that brooding
hero thing. Rogue's gone, for who knows how long. Me? My job's
to take the Blackbird back home.
It's been a while since I had so much time to myself. I guess
I can use the solo flight time to think. About what happened
these past three weeks. About what happened to Rogue. About
what a loser I am.
What Rogue said to me before she left -- about being in control
and all -- stays in my mind. Thinking about it, I don't really
get why she said that. I guess she meant me trying to work
on my powers and all that, but control has never really been
my problem, just living up to my potential, I guess.
Control is really her issue. She was in control for
most of this trip, yet she had trouble controlling herself.
She can't control her powers. "Be good, Bobby. Be strong
-- in control. You can be if you just try." Maybe you
can, too, Rogue.
I didn't have any real goal when I started on this trip,
but I was hoping that I'd be able to...I don't know...help
her somehow. Be there for her like she was there for me with
my father. Pasts aside, Rogue and I have a lot of similar
issues: power problems, insecurities, parents. I'd hoped she'd
learn that she didn't really have to run away.
Did really well with that one. You'd make a great shrink.
"Road trip therapy," you could call it. Make a mint,
I admit it: I was running away, too. Running away from Emma.
Running away from the friends who'd tell me, "Of course
you're not a failure. You're just a late bloomer." Running
away from having to use my powers at all.
"You've been doing that all your life, you know."
"Wha--?" I spin around. Emma's sitting next to
me in the co-pilot's seat.
I'm tired. Not just lack-of-sleep tired. Tired of fighting.
Tired of running. "What do you want, Emma?" I ask,
my voice low as I look back at the Blackbird controls.
"I want you to get a spine."
I look back at her, confused. "Huh?"
"Stop being the doormat."
"You've lost me."
"You're the happy one. The friendly one. The practical
joker. You keep trying to make everyone else happy, so you
do nothing for yourself. Get a spine."
Friendly. Happy. Doormat. Lovely. "Out of curiosity,
just what makes you such an authority on my life, Emma?"
I ask through gritted teeth.
"Because I had your life, idiot. I experienced
your memories. You have no idea of your potential, and because
you don't recognize it, you're simply a waste of space."
My hands clench around the controls. "So if I'm such
a waste of space, why are you so interested in me?"
"Because of your potential. You could do amazing things
with your powers, things I did when I was in your body, things
people probably haven't even thought of yet. And after spending
all that time in your head, I guess you could say I have something
of a soft spot for you."
"So you're tormenting me like this because you want
to help me?"
"Something like that, yes."
"You've got a pretty messed-up way of showing you care,
"Well, like you've said yourself, I'm a living,
breathing reminder of what a failure you are' -- was that
how it went? I had hoped you might get angry enough
that you'd drop those inhibitions of yours and start actually
"I don't need your kind of help, Emma."
"Well, you certainly haven't been trying to meet your
potential on your own, have you? I'm just trying to be the
proverbial kick in the ass.' Seems like all I've done
is hit you with a sledgehammer of angst. Pity."
"Will you just leave me the hell alone?"
"If that's what you want, Drake. If that's what you
I turn back to the co-pilot's seat. She's gone. I breathe
a small sigh of relief. But something keeps nagging me, tugging
at my brain.
Doormat. Inhibitions. Control.
It's plain as day to Emma. To Rogue. Probably to everyone
else. There's more to my powers than anyone ever thought,
and I'm the one standing in the way of them becoming what
they can be.
But I'm not my powers. They're a part of me, but they don't
define who I am. But it's always "my powers, my powers,
my powers." Especially lately.
I'm not Iceman. I'm just Bobby Drake, a practical joking
slacker from New York.
Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. Be the best mutant
you can be. But what about being human?
Part of the goal of the X-Men is to "foster better relations
between humans and mutants." I think that's how Scott
put it in one of his briefings. Humans. Mutants. The dividing
line is that one damned gene.
Wow. I'm getting profound in my old age.
I hear Emma's voice again, echoing in my head.
Waste of space.
The mansion is just ahead. I park the Blackbird in the hangar
and head inside. I need a shower.
But I think I'll go talk to Hank first.
Emma Frost possessed Bobby's body in Uncanny X-Men #314. Bobby
confronted her later in UXM 318, and she "activated"
his powers, so to speak, to show him his potential. Bobby
"warned" Rogue about Gambit in UXM #319. Rogue kissed
Gambit in X-Men #41 and presumably began her road trip soon
after the team returned to Westchester.
Rogue and Bobby were at the Key West bar in X-Men Prime. Rogue
tried to steal a Spanish helmet from a Key West museum in
XM #42. There is a one-line reference to their stop in Austin
in UXM #323, which is also the issue where they get a flat
tire somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Arizona, on Route
66. This is also the issue where Gambit awakens from his kiss-induced
coma. (Some of the July 3 dialogue was borrowed from this
issue, written by Scott Lobdell.) The infamous "Grey
Crow" diner incident was in UXM #324. Rogue called up
Gambit in UXM #325 to tell him that she and Bobby were going
And, of course, the big break-up was in XM #45. Much of Fabian
Nicieza's dialogue stolen from this book was taken from memory,
so my apologies if any of it is incorrect.
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