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"Through a Mirror Clear"

Through a Mirror Clear

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten

Future Chapters

Brunch with Mystique
A Night on the Town
The Return

Chapter ???

Just when I seemed about to learn!
Where is the thread now? Off again!
The old trick! Only I discern --
Infinite passion, and the pain
Of finite hearts that yearn.
~ from "Two in the Campagna" ~
by Robert Browning

A crisp summer breeze wafted into Rogue's room through her open window, gently waking her. Enjoying the moment, she basked in the warm morning sunlight that spilled over her comforter onto her face and body.

On a whim, she swung her legs off her bed and walked to a corner of the room to her new stereo, a gift from Mystique. The metamorph had become surprisingly maternal towards her foster daughter since learning of Rogue's pregnancy, subsequent depression and possession by the Shadow King, and Mystique seemed to want nothing better than to ensure Rogue's happiness -- and perhaps make a somewhat belated attempt at helping her daughter heal her fractured psyche. After so many years on her own, Rogue found it almost amusing that now, she found it difficult to hold off her foster mother's attempts to buy her anything and everything she might possibly need.

It used ta be, "Call me if you need me. Otherwise, it's your life; you're on your own." Now, Ah can't get her ta leave me alone! she mused. Ah think the notion of bein' a gramma is scarin' her.

Rogue flipped a switch on the stereo, and the brassy sounds of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy filtered through the speakers. Almost involuntarily, she began dancing lightly to the music, tapping out remembered dance steps and giggling as she tripped or fell off-balance or messed up a step.

Her back was to the door, so she did not hear Iceman's knock nor notice his entrance.

Bobby Drake had meant just to come up to tell her that breakfast was ready, but seeing her laughing and dancing to the music, he didn't have the heart to interrupt her. I haven't seen her laugh like this in a long time...

Rogue, now six months into her pregnancy, was dressed only in underwear and her old oversized nightshirt, which, because of her swollen belly, only reached midway up her thighs in front and almost all the way down to her knees in back. The combination of nightshirt and dancing made for quite the revealing sight -- and Bobby knew Rogue would die of embarrassment if she knew someone was watching her.

But at the same time, he couldn't pull himself away. Seized by sudden inspiration, he called out to her. "Hey, Rogue -- ?"

She froze for a split second, and then quickly turned off the stereo. Suddenly self-conscious, Rogue turned toward her visitor, at the same time tugging on her nightshirt to keep it from flying up too much.


Bobby, for his part, was both amused by the sight and overcome with an almost overwhelming desire to pound his head against the wooden doorframe. Stupid, stupid, stupid, Bobby! he yelled inwardly at himself, with "stupid" coinciding with each imaginary thump of his head on the wall.

"Uh...sorry about that -- um...the interrupting you, I mean. I just wanted to say you that...uh...Beast sent me you that lunch -- oops -- Breakfast is ready." Bobby finally managed to stammer out. Smooth, Bobby. Real smooth. Stupid!

"Okay." She stared at him for a moment, as if expecting him to say something more. "Anything else?"

"That was about it."

"Well, could ya leave so Ah can get dressed?"

"Oh. Yeah. Sorry. Consider me gone." With as much dignity as he could muster, he stepped out of the room, closing the door behind him.

Lightly banging his head on the doorframe across the hall, Bobby found a curious feeling of comfort in the dull, repetitive thuds. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid...

In her room, changing into a sundress, Rogue had gotten over her momentary embarrassment. She giggled, remembering Bobby's apparent nervousness.

If Ah didn't know better... She shook her head. Nah...There's no way...

Opening the door, she stepped out into the empty hallway, where the rich aromas of pancakes, maple syrup and scrambled eggs were already making her stomach grumble in anticipation.

It had actually been Cecilia's turn to clean the breakfast dishes, but she had begged Rogue to trade dish duty with her so she could go with Beast to a medical conference in the city (although Rogue suspected that something more was afoot between the team's two resident doctors). The others, not wanting to get roped into trading themselves, had quickly disappeared after breakfast, leaving Rogue alone with the dirty dishes and a lot of flimsy excuses.

"‘The pool needs ta be cleaned,' indeed! We don't even have a pool anymore!" she muttered darkly to herself as she cleared off the table. "The nerve a' them, leavin' a poor pregnant woman like me ta clean up after all a' them."

Scraping the leftover food off the plates into the trash, she paused and had to laugh. "‘Poor pregnant woman' Ah am certainly not. Ah get annoyed when they don't baby me, when Ah know Ah'd be annoyed as hell if they ever did try to baby me."

Returning to her sudsy dishes in the sink, she smiled. "Yup. Things're definitely going back to normal..."

Wincing as she walked out of the kitchen, dishes finally done, Rogue put her hands on her hips to help support her aching back, which despite her vaunted super-strength and invulnerability was feeling strained. Gotta be a hormonal thing...

"Rogue?" Bobby's voice sounded behind her, more confident than earlier that morning in her room. ‘I'm going to get this right for once...'

"Yeah?" Rogue answered, massaging the small of her back as she turned to look at him.

"Here -- Let me get that for you." He motioned for Rogue to turn around and began to gently massage her lower back for her.

"Mmmmm....," Rogue closed her eyes and enjoyed the release of tension in her back. " An' what am Ah supposed ta do ta repay you for this bit o' kindness, Mr. Drake?"

"Nothing at all," Bobby answered quickly, now working on her shoulders. "...well, actually..."

"Uh, huh...," Rogue smirked, cocking an eyebrow as she craned her neck to look at him.

"Careful!" Bobby exclaimed, quickly removing his hands from her shoulders to avoid skin-to-skin contact.

A faint look of hurt passed quickly over Rogue's face and just as quickly disappeared, but Bobby caught the expression and kicked himself inwardly for it. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid... he muttered in his head, repeating what was becoming his own personal mantra. "Sorry -- I just -- "

"It's okay -- Ah understand, Bobby. Relax." Rogue smiled at him and tried to keep her voice light. She leaned back against the wall, trying to both ease the tension in her spine and appear laid-back at the same time. "So what was it you were sayin'?"

Bobby glanced down at his shoes. Why am I having so much trouble with this? I'm a college grad and an X-Man, for cryin' out loud, but I feel like I'm back in junior high.

He looked back up at Rogue, still trying to avoid eye contact. "Well, I was looked like you were having so much fun with the music this morning..." Rogue blushed slightly. "...and I was wondering if -- the next time you decided you wanted to dance, I mean -- if you would mind having a partner."

He looked back down at his shoes, tensing for the possible rejection but still hoping she'd accept.

Suddenly her arms were around him in a fierce hug, and Bobby, relief flooding through him, felt powerless to do anything but return it. "Ah think that's the sweetest thing ya ever coulda done for me," she told him, burying her head in his shoulder.

Rogue lifted her head but did not move to let go of him just yet. "So when do ya wanna go?"

"I don't know...What's good for you?"

"Well, there's a good swing band playing in town tonight, actually. Ah was thinking of going. Interested?"

"Sounds great. When do we go?"

"Concert starts at 8. So we leave around 7?"

"How about 6 -- I'll buy dinner."

"Who am Ah to argue with an offer like that?" Rogue smiled at him.

Bobby paused for a moment to clear his throat. "Um...Rogue? I've got a question. How do you swing dance?"

"Offerin' ta take me dancin' and ya don't know how ta dance yourself? You're brave!" Rogue's laughter caught in her throat as her eyes met Bobby's. "Ah....Ah'll show ya how when we get there..."

They stood there for a few moments, eyes locked together and faces mere inches apart, The sound of Wolverine's footsteps at the far end of the hall ended the moment abruptly, as Rogue broke away and started moving quickly toward the stairs to the women's rooms. "Ah'll meet ya at 6 by the front doors. Don't be late," he heard her say as she disappeared through the doorway.

Bobby let out a sigh as he leaned back against the wall, again feeling the strange desire to knock his head against the doorjamb. She said yes! But, my god...she must think I'm some big geek by now. He groaned. Who am I kidding -- I am a big geek. Real smooth, Bob. Real smooth.

Thinking of the night ahead, though, he grinned. "She said yes!" he said aloud.

"Yes ta what?" Logan's gruff voice broke his reverie. "You takin' Rogue out tonight, then?"

"How did you -- "

"You know no secrets last long around here...'Sides, I heard you all the way down the hall."

"Oh...I was going to take her dancing tonight. There's some band she wants to hear, and I'm buying dinner."

"Sounds like fun. Enjoy," Logan walked past Bobby into the kitchen, indicating the conversation was over.

Bobby sighed inwardly with relief and darted off to his room to look for something to wear -- and to figure out what he wanted to do for tonight.

He didn't notice that Logan watched him leave from the kitchen doorway, a faint note of worry marking his face. When Bobby disappeared from sight, Logan re-entered the kitchen to snatch a couple pancakes off the platter on the kitchen counter and sat down at the table, munching thoughtfully on the leftover food.

Rogue stood in front of the full-length mirror on the back of her bedroom door, looking at herself appraisingly. Who do you think you're foolin', girl? Look at yourself -- You're six months pregnant. You're just getting yourself back together. You need romance right now like ya need a hole in the head...Who knows -- the hole in the head might be a better choice...

She smoothed the folds of her dress, trying to create a more pleasing silhouette in the mirror. She had managed to keep most of her figure intact despite the weight the pregnancy had added on, but she still felt puffy and unattractive. Why would he want me, anyway? she told her reflection. Baby on the way...waaay too many loose ends...Why would someone as sweet as him want someone like me? Rogue sighed. What am Ah gonna do? Sweet as he is, Ah can't fall for Bobby -- or at least, Ah can't be encouragin' him. Ah don't deserve him -- or anybody right now...

<<You deserve every happiness, Rogue. There's no need to beat yourself down for it.>>


<<Sorry to intrude. It's just you were projecting your thoughts so plainly...I'm right outside your door, with Ororo. Would you mind if we came in?>>

"Sure. Come join the party." Rogue stepped back and opened the door for the two women.

"Look...If you're coming here to lecture me about Bobby..." she began.

"No, no...We just wanted to see how you were doing," Jean said.

"Checkin' up on me, huh?" Rogue sat down wearily on her bed. "So what's up?"

"Logan told us that you and Bobby were going to go out tonight," Storm said, taking a seat next to Rogue's desk. "Seeing as how this has been your first evening out in...such a long time, we were wondering if you needed any help preparing for the evening."

Rogue noted the unspoken reference to Gambit but chose to ignore it, wanting to keep the mood light. "Do Ah look like Ah need help from the likes ‘a y'all?" she asked playfully, gesturing towards her wrinkled sundress and pulled-back hair. "Sure -- Ah'm all yours. Direct away."

It was actually something of an event in the mansion when one of their own went out on a date, especially if both parties resided in the mansion and the "romance" was fresh. In such an enclosed community as the mansion (and considering the abilities of some of the residents), secrets and hidden romances were few and far between.

And news of Bobby and Rogue's impending outing spread like wildfire among the X-Men, some of them smirking as they collected on bets placed months ago.

"Knew it was going to happen." "Saw it a mile away." "Told ya so. Now pay up."

Some, feeling a need to dispense advice that they themselves had never had success following, knocked on both Rogue and Bobby's doors.

knock, knock

"Who is it now?"

"Sam. Ah just wanted ta recommend a restaurant. How about -- "

"Sam? I don't mean to be rude, but I think I've heard the names of every restaurant in Salem now -- and maybe half the City as well -- from people banging on my door all day. Don't you people have anything better to do than worry about my love life?"

"Not really..."


With all the people fussing over them, it was a wonder that Bobby and Rogue made it out the door on time. With the help of their combined closets, Cyclops and Logan had helped Bobby pick out a nice-but-not-too-nice suit, and Jean and Ororo had dressed Rogue in a tunic sweater and long skirt and had done her hair and makeup for her.

Rogue hated being babied but enjoyed the occasional pampering -- and the option to veto a few of the hair and outfit combinations Jean and Storm had chosen for her.

And Scott had tried to teach Bobby a few dance steps -- but had stopped when Logan had nearly choked on his cigar from laughing at the spectacle. Logan stopped laughing when Scott suggested that he try to give the dancing lessons, sending Bobby into (wisely muted) waves of snickering.

While they appreciated their friends' interest, Rogue and Bobby both breathed quiet sighs of relief when they finally stepped out the door to Bobby's new Saturn.

"Nice car," Rogue commented.

"Yeah -- A lot of the people in town I helped with their taxes back in April finally paid off their accounts. So the X-Men get some new stuff for the mansion, and I get a car again."

He opened the passenger door for her. "Your chariot awaits, m'lady."

"My, my...A nice car and he's a gentleman -- So hard to come by these days," Rogue said, smiling as she sat down and adjusted her seat.

"Yeah, yeah...Well..." Trying hard not to blush, Bobby found himself unable to come up with a witty rejoinder and just enjoyed the feeling of Rogue's warm gaze upon him as he closed her door and got in on his side of the car.

Dinner went well for the couple, with Bobby taking them to a small, out-of-the-way Italian restaurant for their meal. Business was heavy and the restaurant short-staffed, so the two were late for the concert, but neither particularly minded. They were so busy talking and reminiscing and exchanging stories that they didn't notice the quick passage of time.

By the time they arrived at the small club for the concert, it was already nearly 9, and the swing band had only an hour left to play because another band had been booked for that night as well. Hearing the jaunty jazz beats from the parking lot, Rogue felt invigorated, and once Bobby had parked the car, she took his hand and half-dragged him into the club.

Teaching Bobby how to follow the complicated dance steps was an interesting experience for them both, to say the least. Rogue, familiar with the steps but still kind of rusty, tried to simultaneously recall the correct sequence of dance moves and teach Bobby those same steps, which resulted in both mutants becoming hopelessly confused and, in some cases, earning odd looks from other dancers.

Eventually, the two found their own rhythm once Bobby had a basic understanding of a few dance steps and Rogue stopped insisting that he perform each step perfectly. The result was something that was not always pretty, but that both participants enjoyed immensely, sometimes breaking off mid-twirl to laugh at themselves and their pathetic combined dancing abilities.

"And that's it for us tonight, folks! Have a nice night, and thanks for comin'!" The lead singer said his good-byes as band's last tunes began to fade out. Rogue fell back, laughing breathlessly, into Bobby's arms at the end of a spin, and the two walked hand-in-hand to the bar for a drink as they waited for the next band to set up. The night had been wonderful so far, and neither wanted to go home just yet -- Maybe enjoy a few songs from the next band and go out for a moonlit stroll.

Anything to keep the night from ending too soon.

Rogue sipped her virgin strawberry daiquiri and Bobby, his ginger ale, and the two laughed and smiled as they critiqued the band and their own less-than-notable dancing abilities (although Bobby suspected that Rogue was actually a much better dancer and had just toned it down to keep him from feeling stupid, while Rogue was congratulating herself for not getting too frustrated with Bobby's inexperience and just enjoying the moment).

When the two heard the band begin to warm up, Bobby took Rogue's hand and led her out onto the dance floor to await the start of the next set.

"Back from the Bayou, New Orleans' own classic Cajun group. Let's hear it for Cajun Conja!"**

Rogue froze at the announcer's words, the blood draining from her face. She moved to dart away, but Bobby's grip on her hand kept her from straying too far.

"Rogue? -- Rogue?! You look like you've seen a ghost! Are you okay?" Bobby put his hands on her shoulders, trying to get her to look at him. When she finally did, he noticed the tears in her eyes. Pulling a handkerchief out of his pocket, he reached to wipe away the tears that were spilling. "You want to go?"

Her eyes wide in almost panic, she could only nod her head in assent, not trusting herself to speak. "Okay. Let's go." Taking her hand again, he led her off the dance floor into the parking lot and to the car.

At Bobby's car, Rogue sat in the passenger seat but left the door open and her legs hanging out as she slouched and put her head in her hands, massaging her temples. Bobby crouched in front of her, his hand awkwardly on her shoulder. "Rogue? Is there anything I can do to help? Do you want to talk about it, maybe?"

He heard Rogue take in a deep breath, and then she lifted her head, with eyes slightly red, to face him. "Ah can't escape him -- can't get away from it," she said wearily, her voice becoming increasingly edgy. "Ever'where Ah go, there's a reminder. Ah try to ignore it, just move on an' pretend it never happened, but..." She bit her lip to hold back more tears, and looked away to collect herself.

After a moment, she looked back up at Bobby. "Can you take me back home now? Ah don't think Ah'm really fit company f'r anyone t'night."

Bobby patted her shoulder reassuringly and stood. "Whatever you say," he said, holding the car door open for a moment to let Rogue get fully inside.

Settling into the driver's seat, he started the car, and the two rode home in silence.

Still in his suit, Bobby lay on his back on his bed, unable to sleep but not quite willing to admit to his insomnia. Despite his efforts to keep it in check, his anger was bubbling beneath the surface and threatening to burst through.

He'd had a wonderful time that night, and the way Rogue's eyes had glinted and sparkled like they hadn't in nearly a year made him feel even warmer inside.

It had all been so perfect.

But then it had to end.

It wasn't the fact of the night's ending that gnawed at Bobby, but rather the way it ended. Not that he blamed her for it.

No. For Bobby, all the blame belonged to him.

And Bobby hated him for it.

Six months! Six months and he's still hurting her -- doesn't even have to be here to do it, either. Six months and the littlest reminder of him puts her in tears. How much is it going to take for her to get over him? I hadn't seen her so happy in months. But the minute they announced that damn band, the twinkle in her eyes just went poof.

We were connecting tonight, I know it. If he showed up tomorrow, I don't know that she wouldn't just go right back to him, and he'd make her unhappy all over again. Hasn't he done more than enough already?

To be continued.


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