The X-Men belong to Marvel, but the story
is mine. As always, this has no place in continuity.
I hope this idea hasn't been used before, but I wouldn't be
at all surprised if it has. I'm not sure this is any good.
So, why, why, you ask, am I posting it if I'm not sure that
it's any good? 'Cause I'm pretty sure it's not horrible,
Enjoy. Feedback much appreciated. Always. You cannot send
too much feedback. It's a physical impossibility.
For Old Times' Sake
I could never sleep on planes. Betsy was always able to fall
asleep whenever and wherever she wanted. I swear sometimes
she'd will herself to sleep just to spite me. When she woke
up she'd be bright-eyed and energetic, ready for anything.
I might as well be using my own two wings to travel for all
the rest I get on a plane.
It's not that there's any reason to fall asleep yet. It's
just that I have so much to think about, and I'd really rather
not think about any of it. I wish I could just sleep the whole
flight away. The whole next few weeks away. Maybe the next
I must've been crazy to do this. I wonder what Betsy would
say. But Betsy's not here ... that's the whole point, isn't
I glance over at the woman next to me. Rogue is braiding
her hair. She had it done up in a loose bun before, but her
masses of wavy hair refused to stay in an orderly knot at
the nape of her neck like Betsy's would have done. The white
stripe in the braid makes for a nice effect, anyway.
She seems to feel my gaze on her, and she flashes me a grin
before turning her attention back to her hair.
I must've been absolutely insane to have done this. But I
don't think I could've refused her even if I had been sane.
She's finished with her hair, and suddenly she turns, raising
her head to speak to a person behind us. "Don't worry. Ah'll
watch him for you."
I hear the woman behind me thank her, and then she gets up
and walks past me down the aisle. "What was that about?" I
ask. She's been very aware of the people around us this whole
trip, aware of their actions and moods, and sometimes it gets
a bit strange.
Rogue gets onto her knees on the seat and looks behind her.
"She needed to use the restroom, and she wasn't sure whether
to take her baby or not. So Ah offered to watch it." The baby
gurgles, and Rogue gurgles back. She slips her glove off and
extends a finger to the baby. I twist my head around, and
I can see the baby clutch her naked finger with its tiny,
fat hand. I'm not at all surprised.
She woke me up with a kiss. I had returned the kiss instinctively,
and it took me a second to remember that the lips pressed
against mine couldn't possibly be Betsy's. I sat up with a
jerk to find Rogue smiling at me, bewilderingly. And I wasn't
in a coma. "You can control your powers now?" It was a stupid
question, but I still wasn't quite awake.
She nodded. "Betsy's touched me before, I just never understood
how it worked until now."
"So I guess some good came out of this, huh?" I asked her
Her expression became wary, and she shook her head mutely.
"Ah need to get out of here," she said, and then displayed
a suitcase in case I had missed the point.
I almost asked her why she was telling me this, but then
felt an odd shiver run down my spine as the answer occured
to me. It was kind of flattering, but also kind of frightening.
I heard myself say, "Where do you want to go?"
"Ah don't know. You choose." Her accent flickered out of
existence for a moment, "I can't take these people any more,
and you're the only one who it seemed I could rely on."
Tell me, honestly, how could I possibly have refused?
She seated herself cross-legged on the bed, suitcase in her
lap. I stumbled to my closet and opened it, then paused and
asked the woman on my bed if she'd mind turning around while
I got dressed.
She laughed. "But, Warren..."
"I don't care. Just turn around."
She had shrugged a closed her eyes, but a Mona Lisa smile
was still playing on her lips.
Her smile for the baby is a lot different. In fact, it's
brilliant. If being short and fat and bald would get me the
same smiles that babies get, I'd stop exercising, shave my
head, and cut off my legs below the knees.
The mother returns, thanks her baby-sitter, and Rogue sinks
back into her seat. She looks at her lap and murmurs, "You
know, Betsy wanted a baby."
For a second I can only blink at her. Why did she have to
tell me that? "No, I didn't know."
Rogue nods, then stares out the window even though it's too
dark to see anything. She looks so fragile, you'd never guess
that it had taken a world-class telepath and telekinetic,
a woman who could control the weather, and a man with inhuman
strength and agility to take her down before. And that's not
even tallying in the casualties.
I had arrived too late to see any of the action. More importantly,
I had arrived too late to prevent any of the action.
I've rarely seen Jean look so exhausted as she did that evening.
She had looked at me as if she wasn't quite sure who I was
or why I was there. But she had managed a weary, "Warren."
"Jean. Are you okay? Where is she? I mean, are they?"
"The infirmary," said Jean, knowing my first question was
merely a pleasantry. "Hank is there."
I've run to the infirmary a few times in my day, but never
so quickly as I did that time. Not that it mattered. I could've
teleported, and it wouldn't have made a difference.
Hank greeted me reservedly and ushered me in. I saw Bobby
first. He wasn't hit too hard, said Hank. Good. One less worry.
Gambit was in the next bed. Forgive me for not caring. Then
Rogue. Jean took her out. She'll live.
She was at the other end of the infirmary. For a moment,
I had frozen, not sure I wanted to make the last leg of the
journey. I had this feeling that if I saw her up close, all
my worst fears, then merely speculation, would become certainties.
But Hank was watching me, so I went over stood beside her
and wished I wasn't anywhere in her vicinity. I turned away,
ostensibly to ask Hank a question, but it had really been
because I couldn't bear to look at her face. She was breathing,
but that didn't mean anything; her face was lifeless.
"Do you think she'll come out of it?" I whispered. I don't
know why I whispered. It's not like any of them could hear
Hank had shrugged. "She was the first victim, and whatever
was controlling Rogue was making a point of acquiring Betsy's
telepathic abilities. She ... held on for a long time. But,
though it may take longer, I do believe she'll eventually
That was almost a month ago.
I don't know who Hank thinks he's fooling. I've known him
for years, become familiar with every nuance of his expressive
countenance, every twist and turn of language he uses to try
to manipulate the conversation. He was using all his doctor's
evasions long before he became a doctor. Even now, calling
up an image of his face as he told me that, I know he was
See? This is why I wish I could fall asleep.
Rogue seems to have cheered up a little. That could be the
work of the cocktails. She clenches her fist and makes a psychic
knife, then plunges it into her brain. She stabs herself in
the head a few times, and grins at me. "Pretty cool, huh?"
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Bobby isn't
quite conscious yet.
Food is brought to us by a stewardess, and Rogue brightens
up even more. She falls ravenously on the strange rectangular
thing that's supposed to be lasagna. Betsy's secret shame
was her love of airplane food. When she revealed that to me,
that's when I began to suspect she was letting me in more
than she wanted me to know.
I wonder if Rogue always liked airplane food, or if this
is a new development.
I wonder what she'll be like when all the personalities have
The X-Men probably think that I've flipped, that I've stolen
Rogue in some twisted attempt to get Betsy back. It's nothing
like that, though. I know she isn't Betsy, and I know she
never will be. I'm not trying to use her as a replacement.
That would be worse than falling in love with a woman and
settling for her twin. Hell, that would be worse than falling
in love with a woman and setting for her clone.
Rogue laughs. After a confused pause I realize what she's
laughing at. I look at her accusingly. "No mind reading."
"Sorry," she says, abashed. "It's hard not to. Ah still can't
quite figure out these powers."
"You seem to be using them well enough," I say drily.
She grins impishly. "Yeah." She becomes more serious, and
touches my arm lightly. "Thank you for doing this, Warren.
It means a lot to me."
I shrug. "It's no problem."
A smile dawns again, heartbreakingly familiar but wrong on
those lips. "Really?" she says interestedly.
"Really." She's all I have left of Betsy, after all. And
it was the Betsy in her that asked for my help. I know she's
not a replacement for Psylocke, but she can at least be a
I can't pretend Betsy was the love of my life. I know that
sounds horrible, but I can't lie about it, not with her unconscious
body lying in the infirmary at the mansion. I didn't look
at her and think 'til death do us part. She knew that. We
understood each other.
But every now and then, I'd catch her at the right moment,
in the right light, and I'd think that this had to be forever.
That I couldn't stand it if it wasn't.
Right now, all I can think about are those moments.
I pride myself on having seen Betsy like none of the others
have. Silly Betsy, impetuous Betsy, Betsy overcome with annoyance
at some tiny, unimportant thing. Everyone saw Betsy sailing
through life like she was queen of all she surveyed. Fewer
people saw behind the scenes.
I remember one time we were on our way to a party, and her
dress had somehow gotten ripped right below her hip. She had
stared at the rip a moment, seeming not to hear my suggestion
we go back to the apartment and get her another dress. Then
she had ripped the skirt in three places and turned to me,
asking me to help her rip up the bodice a little for balance.
She had carried it off, of course. I may have been a little
put off by the fact that my date's formerly demure dress now
exposed more skin than her X-Men uniform, but I had never
doubted she could carry it off.
Rogue makes a sort of pained noise, and I lean towards her,
concerned. "You feel okay? Are the people's thoughts bothering
you?" That was what was usually wrong when Betsy was uncomfortable.
She shakes her head, pressing her lips together. "No, it's
just ... I remember that."
I can't very well tell her to stop reading my mind when there
are tears starting in her eyes. "Good," I say, before I can
stop myself. "I'm glad I'm not the only one."
"It's not as if Ah didn't have enough of an identity crisis,
what with Kwannon, and now this." She doesn't seem to notice
her mistake, and I'm certainly not going to point it out.
She looks at me earnestly. "Ah should've fought it, not let
it take over my mind. I should have resisted."
Now I'm on familiar ground. Mental resistance to evil influences
trying to control one's mind. She's preaching to the choir.
"I'm betting there's nothing you could've done, Rogue."
"Ah don't know, Ah really don't. Ah'm sorry Ah've made a
mess of this all, Warren. Ah really am. It must be so confusing,
not knowing whether you're supposed to be mourning Betsy,
or hoping she'll recover, or what."
I shake my head, and say softly, "No, there's no confusion.
I'm mourning her, definitely. I'm just helping you out because,
because..." I search her face. Why am I helping her out, exactly?
She's not Betsy. She should be at the mansion, where she can
be taken care of, get her chaotic mind organized.
"You're helping me as a memorial. Ah know," says Rogue. She
sounds dubious, but I'm not really listening. All I can think
is, what a stupid memorial. A decent boyfriend would be off
getting revenge on whoever or whatever it was that had taken
control of Rogue, not leaving that to Scott and Jean and running
off with some other woman.
Rogue sighs. "Here we are, the two chief mourners, you for
the love, me for the guilt."
"Yeah," I begin to agree, but stop. No. "Damn!" I hit my
forehead, since it seems the only suitable gesture. "Did anyone
Rogue looks suddenly worried, and says quickly. "It's okay,
really. It's better if he doesn't know until we're absolutely
certain Betsy won't make it. He'd hate this situation." She
shrinks a little, under my wide-eyed, bemused gaze. "Ah mean,
Betsy would rather he didn't know yet, Ah'm sure."
"I'm sure," I agree, still staring at her. I can't help it.
This has to be the weirdest situation I've ever been in. The
most stupid, tragic, bizarre situation I've been in.
Of course, it's not as weird as when she still had Gambit's
powers. She used the charm indiscriminately, and men and women
alike would stare after her as she passed, wondering why they
found this skunk-striped woman so attractive.
I'm kind of looking forward to when Rogue next encounters
Gambit. First of all, I'm betting that absorbing his personality
and memories only makes you more contemptuous of him and his
thought processes. Secondly, Psylocke never took any crap
from the Cajun, and maybe now Rogue won't either. A few good
ninja moves with super strength behind them could work wonders
in the way of discouraging Gambit.
Beside me, Rogue reclines her seat and closes her eyes.
I sigh, preparing to have everyone around me asleep, leaving
me to my happy, happy thoughts. God. I wish I had packed sleeping
pills, but I had been in something of a hurry.
We had flown to JFK. As in, flown using our powers. I had
kept glancing back, expecting to see the Blackbird chasing
after us. Rogue had displayed a Psylocke-ish nonchalance the
whole way, to my chagrin. I'd really have preferred to have
a panicky female to soothe, to take my mind off my own worries.
Rogue had carried all the bags, too. No problem for a woman
with super strength. It occurred to me, now that she has a
telepathic powers added to the mix, she's basically invincible.
I mentioned that to her, to have something to say to pass
the time, but she snorted derisively.
"Yeah, just what I need. More invulnerability." She was shouting,
since her voice was muffled by her scarf. Unlike me, she had
wisely bundled up. Then she looked back at me and says, "Don't
you get tired, flying that way?"
"Not really. A little, but this is nothing my wings can't
"Huh. Well, if you get too tired, Ah can carry you." She
smiled mischievously, knowing perfectly well that I'd fall
out of the sky before I'd let her carry me.
Rogue's asleep now. Looking at her, peaceful for the first
time in so long, I'm pretty sure I'd run off with her again
in a heartbeat. Not just for the sake of the Betsy in her,
but for Rogue's sake. Yeah, the occasional murmur of 'Bloody
hell' on her part did contribute to my desire to help her,
but she's been tormented so much by this whole situation,
by life and love and luck, I'm glad to help her take a break
from it all for a while.
And I need a break, too. I can't stand being in the same
house as Betsy's body. I couldn't stand watching Rogue slowly
lose Bobby's and Remy's powers and personalities while Betsy
remained in full force inside of her.
I guess I'll still have to watch that happen. Maybe this
has nothing to do with sadness, or compassion, or escape.
Maybe this whole trip is just self-punishment.
They're bringing around breakfast. Reluctantly, I nudge Rogue.
"Hey, time to wake up. Food, and then we'll be there soon.
I think you'll like Italy."
She opens her eyes and looks sleepily at me. "Of course.
I liked it before, after all." She smiles, a smile of memories.
A smile like she knows me, like she loves me, like it makes
perfect sense that she's next to me on a flight to Rome. Then
she closes her eyes again, and I can only gape, completely
shaken by that look and by the revelations it holds.
She's not Betsy. Not at all.
I know that.
I really need a drink now. I glance around, hoping a stewardess
is nearby who can bring me some of those miniature bottles
of alcohol, but there are no flight attendants in sight. I
may be a very demanding person, but even I'm reticent about
pressing that red button next to the lights and airconditioning.
I can't believe myself sometimes. A memorial to the dead.
Helping Rogue out. Taking a break. Yeah, right.
I'm an idiot. I know that much.
Whatever the X-Men are thinking about this escapade, they're
I glance over at Rogue, who's fallen asleep again, just like
I must've been crazy.
But what frightens me is that I wouldn't undo it if I could.
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