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"Smoke and Mirrors"

Smoke and Mirrors

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19

Disclaimer: Most characters in this story are property of Marvel, as are some events. I'm not making a cent out of this, so I guess that they can't sue me. This story is freeware, and can be distributed to anyone you want. If you wish to archive, I'd appreciate an e-mail ( If I don't answer in a week, feel free to put it on your page. This story contains no scenes of violence, profanity etc.
It's all ages, and squeaky clean ! Apologies to those who like the idea of Rogue and Joseph together (the very suggestion makes me sick !) this is one of 'those' stories ;-)
Without any further ado - I present my very first fan-fiction attempt !
RogueStar (e-mail me at:

Smoke and Mirrors
(Part 1)

It seems like all my life I've been hiding behind a mask; lost in a room o' smoke and mirrors.

Dere is an exit somewhere, far off in the distance, but every turn in my life takes me farther from it and deeper into de lie. I t'ought once I saw the neon sign flashing de way out, but den the mist rose, and when it finally cleared, de sign was gone. My life is like dat: a funhouse of incredible complexity, twisting itself farther and farther in, approaching de center of a spiral. What is dere I don't know, yet don't want t'find out.You know how it is when you're trapped by de circumstances of your life, by what you've done. It's a feeling of utter hopelessness, of utter fear; fear of what you've done and what you might do. You need someone to pull you out; to set you free; to spring the trap. Dat's where she came in. But I've lost her now and I don't know if I have any hope of ever getting her back ... both for myself an' my freedom.

It started a long time ago, Ah guess. Back in th' little town of Caldecott in Mississippi, where Ah was born. It was a small town; a quiet town; a town where Farmer Jones buying a new cow was a major event. It was a town where privacy was nonexistent, where th' only thing a body could do with her life was get married and have seventeen children. Ah thought once that that was what Ah would ... could do ... Ah realise know that Ah was wrong. That night changed it all. It was a night like any other, harvest moon hangin' in a dark sky studded with stars, except for one thing - it was the night I was going out with Cody Robbins for the first time. Mah best friend said he was everythin' a girl could want in a future husband - obviously, in her mind, we were already married.

Ah was wearing a green, long-sleeved dress, matching shoes and  white sweater. Ah thought Ah looked decent ... Cody obviously agreed. At the end of the date, which took place at th' only restaurant in town, he kissed me. An' that's when Ah felt them for th' first time, mah powers.

It was as if everythin' about him flowed into me, his soul, his energy and his memories. Through his eyes, Ah experienced his past, his present and his hopes for th' future, a future Ah took away from him in one kiss. Ah ran as far away as Ah could, seeking refuge in the only place possible - home. Ah cried all night, both for him and mahself. The next mornin', they found him, he was still breathing - barely. They rushed him to a hospital, connected him up to a respirator and then continued to find out why he was how he was. Naturally, th' first person they came to ask was me.

"Miss ... ?" The plump policeman walked into the house, puffing on his cigarette. "We're here to ask you about yer involvement in th' incident which occured last night."

Gazing around, he was not impressed.  A typical, poor-white farmhouse complete with mangy dog.' he thought,  Lawd, how Ah hate Mississippi!' He'd always dreamed of something bigger, something better; a post in New York or Seattle, one of the big towns - not a town like this, where a chicken theft was a crime. This boy, Freddy ... or something like that, was his ticket out of here; his ticket to greatness.

But this girl who stared at him with terrified emerald eyes, she was different. Perhaps it was the white stripe woven through her braid, highlights without a doubt; or perhaps ...

"It wasn't mah fault, Ah didn't mean to ... honest." Tears trickled down her cheeks. "Ah just touched him and then he ... he ..." The last words were lost in sobs.

She was a mutie. The sentence finished itself in the officer's mind.

"There, there. Ah understand."

"Please ... don't tell anyone." She begged.

"Ah won't." However, in his mind, the headline was already written.  Mutie girl puts local boy in a coma - heroic officer solves case.'

Caldecott, Mississippi, a quiet town in a furore. One of their own, Cody, had been put in a coma by a girl, a mutant - ironically enough, a resident of the self-same town. Anti-mutant feeling exploded in riots and trials in which extremists acted as judge, jury and executioner. It was a whirlwind of accusations, fabrications and hatred. In the heart of this storm, the girl responsible could only whisper, "He promised."

"Ah know it's you, daughter." The heavy-set bearded man folded his arms across his chest.

His auburn and white haired daughter looked at him with pleading green eyes. She was clutching her old ragdoll, hugging it tight to her body.

"Please, daddy, let me explain."

"Explain what ? That yer a mutant freak, that it ain't yer fault because o' the fact that God made you a mutie..."

"Daddy ..."

"God don't make muties, he don't make freaks - it musta been somethin' you did. Lawd, child, didn't Ah raise you well enough after yer no-account momma left us? Ah'm ashamed o' the fact that y'are mah daughter... that mah own flesh and blood is a FREAK !"

"Daddy ..."

The bus-stop was cold with a wind blowing through it, chasing the litter and dry leaves. A man leant against a lamp-post, smoking a cigarette. The grey smoke blew up into the air as it discharged from his lips, diffusing into the black, moonless night. On the bench, a girl clutched a bus-ticket. One-way. It didn't really matter where, just as long as it wasn't there. Shivering, partially from cold and mostly from fear, she pulled the jacket tighter around herself.

"Got the time, miss ?" An old man reeking of tobacco and sweat approached her.

"Yeah ... it's 12.15."

"The bus should be here soon." he said, sinking down on the seat next to her.

Nervously, she moved away.

"I had a girl once, like you." He continued. "But she married, moved away, disowned me. Her old father didn't fit her new image. Still, que sera, sera."

"Ah beg your pardon ?"

"It's french, it means: what will be, will be."

"What will be, will be." She whispered to herself.

"And you ? Why are you here all alone ? You can't be more than 15."

"Mah daddy decided that Ah didn't fit in with his image either."

"Shame when that happens. I would give anything to have my daughter back. Perhaps, one day, your father will realise that as well."

The girl laughed, a bitter tone in her voice. "An' hell may freeze over."

"The train's here."

Almost as soon as those three words were spoken, the train whisked the girl and the old man off to a new city, and, perhaps, a new start.

The city was an unfriendly place to those who came from afar. The city was filled with millions of people, all of whom cared only about themselves, their family and friends. The city was no place for a girl who was alone. For many days she wandered the streets of New York, her dollars buying only the very lowest steps of Maslow's Hierachy of Needs - food, drink and shelter. Every night she lay awake wondering what she could do when her money ran out and when at last it did  it seemed that providence had smiled on her. She found a home - of sorts - and a mother - of sorts.

Her name was Raven Darkholme. She said that she was a divorcee who had lost her children in a bitter custody struggle. She said that she was desperate for a child to call her own again. The girl had no choice but to accept Raven's proposition. It seemed good; a house, three meals a day, a bed in which to sleep, and someone to call momma. Raven, not suceeding in finding out the child's true name, gave her one - Rogue. She then said that she would introduce her to some friends of hers who belonged to something called the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Inwardly, Rogue cringed at the thought - the name alone was ominous - but Raven had been so kind to her, she couldn't accept that Ms. Darkholme wouldn't act in her best interests. Besides Raven had said that they could teach her to control her burgeoning mutant powers ... and Rogue would take any chance she was given to be able to do that. No matter if the price was her soul. The people at the Brotherhood seemed nice, apart from the fact that something about them gave her shivers each time she was near them.

It was a quintet of hatred, comprised of Pyro, Avalanche, the Blob, Mystique and Destiny, under the auspices of a man known only as Magneto. Their sole desire was to gain power for mutants, by any means necessary, including, and preferably, total genocide of Homo Sapiens. Naturally, as every force of evil has its analogous force of good, they had many enemies. One of whom were the Avengers; an assemblage of noble heroes dedicated to upholding the rights of those who were unable to defend themselves. A member of which was Carol Danvers, also known as Miss Marvel...

Carol Danvers was th' person Ah stole mah powers from. Not mah  real' powers, those Ah was cursed with at birth, but the powers Ah use whenever Ah go out t'save the world - the powers of flight and super-strength. Sometimes Ah wonder how mah life might've been different if Ah hadn't gotten them; if Ah hadn't been on the bridge on that day; if Ah hadn't listened to Mystique. The absorbtion was a simple matter - Miss Marvel hadn't heard of me or of mah powers. Ah snuck up on her and touched her. Like a thief or an assassin who uses darkness to cover their deeds.

Kinda ironic, if Ah think about it. But Ah don't want to ... it still hurts too bad... Instantly, her whole life flowed into me and Ah was swept along on a river of memories. Ah wanted to let go - Ah knew that it Ah hung on for too long, somethin' bad would happen. Ah would o' let go - if it wasn't for Mystique. She told me to hang on tight; to not let go no matter how Ah felt ... hurt.

Soon, Miss Marvel was a limp figure in mah arms and Ah had her inside me. After that Ah couldn't stay, Ah ran away again and sought the one person of whom Ah had heard so much - the one man who could perhaps do the impossible.

Charles Xavier regarded the young woman standing on his doorstep with a mixture of apprehension and pity. His one finger was poised on the communicator which would call his X-Men within seconds  if she became violent. Was this the dangerous woman of whom he had heard so much and knew so little ? Was she the one who had taken down his X-Men just previously? If so, why was she here ?

"Sir, Ah ... Ah need your help." Her voice was deeply Southern, Mississippi or thereabouts.

"Certainly." Xavier hesitated for a minute before continuing, "What is wrong ?"

"Ah want to learn how to control mah powers... Ah want to be free of the ... the dreams."


"More like flashes of ... of the past but ... but it ain't mine."

"It is possible that part of Miss Marvel's persona was transferred into you when you touched her. This would result in the  flashes' as you call them."

"So, you know about Miss Marvel ?"

"Yes, it is hard to keep much from a telepath, I'm afraid. Besides which, the near-death of one of our nation's heroes is headline news in any country."

"One of our nation's heroes ?! Momma ... Ah mean ... Raven said she was evil ... that she was trying t'steal something that belonged to us."

"This Raven of whom you speak ? Who is she ?"

"Ah'm not sure any more ... if Ah ever was. She called herself Raven Darkholme, but Ah've heard others call her Mystique."

Charles Xavier grimaced, this Raven Darkholme, whom the young woman called mother, was a lethal shape-shifter, a believer in Magneto's vision of mutant supremacy.

A vision for which he felt he should bear some responsibility ...

"Sir ?"

Xavier realised that the girl was looking at him with something akin to concern on her face. He must have been lost in his own private thoughts again.

"Yes ?"

"Can y'help me ?"

The professor stopped, caught between Scylla and Charybdis. On one hand what she was asking him to do was unthinkable, to take a known enemy into his house and train her in the use of her powers was insanity. On the other, that was exactly why he had formed the X-Men - to educate mutants in the use of their powers and show them why they should use them to protect a race who would rather see them killed. Compassion prevailed.

"I can't promise anything, but I will try to the very best of my abilities."

"Sir, thank you." She smiled, "Ah can't say how much this means t'me"

"Thank me after you've had a hot bath and a meal."

He opened the door and let her inside.

Cyclops glared at his teacher, his mentor and, more importantly, the man who was like a father to him.

"No disrespect, sir. But do you know who she is ?"

"Yes, I am aware of the fact that she is the mutant who put Miss Marvel in a coma and I am aware of the fact that you were beaten at her hands." Xavier stoked the fire in his study.

"Then why is she here ?"

"For much the same reason you are; to learn how to control her powers."

"You know what I mean."

"I know, Scott. But I also believe that everyone deserves a second chance. How can I expect others to forgive and understand if I can not do the same ?"

"But others don't have as much to forgive or understand as we have to for her."

"Rogue stays."

"Sir ..."

"Enough, Scott. I am aware of your objection to my decision - I respect that and I ask you to respect my judgement in this matter."

"I do, sir, but this matter could mean the end of the X-Men."

"Unlikely." The professor turned around and looked his first student in the eyes, "Thank you, Scott. It is always a pleasure to see you. Now, please leave - I have much to do."

"As always, sir, I will have to accept your judgement in the matter."

Iceman studied the young woman with consternation. She was sitting directly opposite to him at the dinner table. Her green eyes were downcast and it appeared that the meatloaf was occupying all of her attention. Next to her, the weather goddess, Ororo Munroe was engaged in the mundane activity of eating carrots, as was Beast, ex-Avenger, Scientist and mutant.

"So ..." He attempted to start a conversation, "Where do you come from ?"


"Ah, the hard-to-spell state."

He laughed, expecting her to join in. She looked at him oddly.

"What's so funny ?"

"You know, M-I-S-S-I-P-P-I-S-S-I."

"Actually, my frosty friend. That spells Missippissi." Beast told him, amusement on his face.

Iceman looked abashed, "It does ?"

"Yes, Mississippi is spelt ..."

"Enough already, We aren't in class right now." Bobby Drake held a hand up in surrender.

"It seems like you should spend more time in that hitherto unknown room, Bobby." Henry McCoy  smiled.

"Ha ha ha ha."

"Hmm ? Didn't I order my peas thermically enhanced ?" Beast poked at the frozen mound with his fork.

"Special order, peasicle !"

"Bobby, are you misbehaving again ?" An amused voice asked from the doorway.

Iceman turned around to see the beautiful, red-headed telepath known as Jean Grey. By her side, as usual, was Cyclops, who did not look very pleased, as usual.

"Take a seat, Cyke. Jean." He gestured to a few empty chairs.

Ostentatiously, Cyclops pulled out a chair as far as he could from Rogue and sat in it. Jean, naturally,  followed his lead.

"If you would pass the salt." Scott asked.

Rogue handed it over to him. He let her put it on the table, before picking it up as if it had the plague.

"Thank you." His tone gave the opposite meaning to his polite words.

"Mah pleasure." She stifled a yawn, "And if y'all will excuse me, Ah'm tired and would like to go t'sleep."

"You're excused."

"Allow me to show you to your room." Storm volunteered.

"Thank you." She stood up and pushed her chair in.

Ororo led her out of the room and up the stairs.

"Cyclops doesn't seem to happy about havin' me around, does he ?" Rogue commented.

"Scott can be ... difficult. I have known him a while, though shorter than some of the others. He does not adapt well to change; give him a little time to get used to the idea."

"Ah know, but havin' him glarin' at me from th' other side of the table ain't exactly mah idea o' fun."

Storm laughed, "He was hardly making an effort to be friendly, was he ?"

Rogue joined in, "One might say that."

"Here is your room." She pushed open a door to her right. "I am afraid it only contains the bare essentials, but I am sure it will suffice until you can redecorate it."

"Thank you again. For everythin'. Ah don't know if ya know how much Ah appreciate it."

Storm squeezed the younger woman's shoulder. "I have a fair idea. Sleep well."

"You too."

Closing the door behind her, Rogue surveyed her room. Storm was correct in saying it only had the basics: bed, chair, dresser and cupboard. She packed her clothes away in the closet, before sinking onto her bed.

"Perhaps something in green." was her final thought as she drifted into sleep.

Mah room isn't much different from those early days. Naturally, Ah've painted th' walls a few times, bought new sheets an' stuff and added some photographs - but otherwise it is exactly th' same. Same bed, same chair, same dresser, same cupboard, only thing different in it is me. Ah always thought after Ah kissed Cody, Ah'd never fall in love again. From then on, Ah felt that love was dangerous; was a bomb - hold it too long an' it'll blow up in yer face - takin' you with it, and leavin' nothin' behind but smoke. Ah was right.

He looked as if he owned the place. The words flickered in and out of Rogue's consciousness. His easy assurance and confident grace was far removed from her own first days when she could barely string a sentence together without stammering. He was talking to Storm; he'd come with Storm; for all she knew, he was in love with Storm. Why do Ah care ? She looked at her hands, and repeated her vow to never fall in love again; to never be loved again. Not the latter part was too hard. What man could ever want a woman he couldn't touch ? And why did she want to be touched by this particular man ?

The questions had no answers. Storm laughed. The sound set Rogue's teeth on edge, although it never had before. To disguise her discomfort, she looked around the room. Scott was regarding the new arrival with his patented suspicious look on his face while, next to him, Jean was looking at the snacks with trepidation. Iceman had  made' them with some assistance from Wolverine.

'You ice, I slice, bub.' seemed to be the principle behind them. Hence the iced salami, iced pizza, iced ham, iced chicken and iced potato chips! She absent-mindedly took a handful of chips, and put them in her mouth, letting them melt before chewing. Storm laughed again. Is he that funny, Sugah ? The words came unbidden into her mind. This was ridiculous - she was jealous of a woman laughing with a man to whom she hadn't even talked ! If she wasn't careful, someone might almost think she was...

"Mademoiselle ?"

French. The accent was even familiar. The memory of the old man at the bus-stop came drifting back. His words ... que sera, sera. What will be, will be.

"Mademoiselle ?"

"Yes ?" She yelled, annoyed at having her train of thought derailed.

"Guess my charm isn't working too well on you ? Henh ?"

She turned around to come face to face with the man who she had been watching earlier.

"Ah ... ah ..." She felt a blush creep over her face. "Didn't mean t'snap like that."

"You southern ?" He smiled, "Me too."

"Yeah - Ah'm from Miss'ssippi."

"I'm from Louisiana - N'awlins to be precise."

"You're cajun then ?"

"Was it jus' my general appearance or did ya work dat out from de accent ?"

"The latter. Only ever met one before."

He nodded, "As for me, I've never met any femme half as pretty as y'are."

"Usually Ah like t'know th' name of th' man who compliments me "

"Remy. Remy le Beau. Enchante, chere." He lifted her hand as if to kiss it, but she slipped it out of his grasp and put it behind her back.

"They call me Rogue."

"Unusual name."

"Not mah real one."

He smiled in recognition, familiar with the masks people wore and the names by which they chose to be known. He'd had many of both.

"So, guess you're a mutant as well ?" He asked.

"D'Oh. Everyone here is."

"And your power is ?"

She looked away, knowing that telling him could mean the end of the impossible dream that she had built in this short space of time.

"Ah can fly, lift... uh ...about 50 tons and ..." She hesitated. And what ? Ah can steal people's lives away, taking with one touch everythin' they ever were and could be. Ah can kill most everthin' about them. "When Ah touch someone, their powers and memories are ... transferred into mah body...usually leavin' them unconscious. "

Rogue laughed bitterly.

"Dat's why you took your hand away."

"Yeah - Ah wouldn't want you to end up in a coma on your very first day here."

"Perhaps it might be worth it ?"

"No. "

"Pity." He smiled, as if doing so might take away some of her hurt and pain.

"What is your power ?" She said pointedly, covering all her confusing feelings with a simple question. He knew now, so why did he pretend to be interested in her ? Did he want to hurt her?

"As your resident scientist might say: I c'n change potential energy into kinetic energy on contact.

What dis means is ... I explode t'ings."

"Explode things ?"

"I'll have t'show you."

"Remy ?" Storm walked up to them, "I see you already have met Rogue."


"Perhaps now we should go and meet the Professor." Storm jerked at his arm.

"Bet he's not as pretty as Rogue."

"Be that as it may, we do need to go talk to him in order to see if you can stay permanently."

"Chere, we discussed this on de way back from Paris. I said I'd see ya safely home, den I'd return t'mine."

"Y'mean ... you ain't stayin' ?" The words came out of Rogue's mouth almost automatically.

"Sorry, chere, Places to go, people t'see, all de rest of it." He shrugged his shoulders.

"Ah guess. Pity." Her words belied the look in her eyes.

"Perhaps a few days ?" He suggested. "Poppa said ya should never disappoint a lady."

"Y'think Ah mind either way ?"

"We'll have t'see about dat as well."

"Ah'll save you th' trouble - Ah don't."



"Come on, Gambit. You haven't met Scott or Jean yet." Storm was impatient.

"Do I want to ?" He whispered to Rogue.

"No." She suppressed a smile.

"Strange. Dat's what I was going t'say."

"Come ON."

"Well ... see ya around de Mansion." He said as Storm dragged him off in Scott's general direction.

"You can close that bottom jaw now." Iceman said wryly.

Rogue jumped, "Y'all ... startled me."

"I bet." Robert Drake nodded his head.

"What do you want, Drake ?"

"I don't trust him. You shouldn't either."

"Ah don't."

"I also hope you don't fall for him." Iceman looked preoccupied.

"Why, Bobby Drake. Are y'all jealous ?" Rogue grinned.

"Seriously, Rogue ... I don't want to see you hurt. And that guy has 'juggle-with-carving-knives' written all over him."

"It's not that Ah don't appreciate your concern but Ah AM quite old enough t'look after mahself."

"Just a warning from your friendly neighbourhood Iceman."

"Thanks, Bobby. And by the way, Ah don't have any intention of doing so."

"Good, but the fact is you usually don't plan to fall in love with anyone."

"Don't you worry about me. Ah'm not attracted to him in the least."

"Hence the drooling earlier."

"Ah was not drooling !"

"Only by the very finest of margins."

"Drake - don't you have somethin' better t'do ?"


"Find somethin' then."

"Okay, okay ... I get the message." He smiled then walked off.

Rogue shook her head in annoyance because, if she was honest with herself, she knew that she was halfway to doing the very thing about which Iceman had warned her. Even worse, she didn't seem to want to fight it...


Continued in Chapter 2.


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