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"
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'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 I should.
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
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 of sight.
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, too, Rogue.
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 a newspaper.
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
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 it up."
"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 days.
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 Gambit.
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 better.
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
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
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 hot.
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 Emma.
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 now, too."
"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 dog.
"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 party."
"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 dates?"
"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
"Huh?" Rogue looks at me, confused. "What do you mean?"
"Tall, thin, straight blonde hair. Sounds like Emma to me."
"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, hon?"
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
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
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
"We've got to leave. Now."
There's a dangerous edge to her voice, and I don't want to argue
"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 on?"
"Nothing. Nothing. Ah...just have a bad feeling, okay?"
We ride in silence as she races out of the city, heading north towards
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
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 point B?"
"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
All the colors and shadows are really hypnotizing. Sunsets out west
really are like no others. It's so easy to lose yourself in them.
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 you."
"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
"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 your head."
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'
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 gone. Figures.
"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 to answer.
Although I'm dreading that she might be the one who picks up.
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 the phone!"
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
My only answer is the faint sound of mocking laughter in my head.
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 from me.
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,
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 guess.
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, at-least-slightly-drunk guys...
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 damage.
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 scum, folks.
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
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 with now.
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 Rogue alone.
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 capable.
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
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 one did.
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
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 way.
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
"For a bit."
Great. "Bobby the Failure" yet again. "Rogue, I--wanted
"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
He brushes me off. What did I expect? Instant friendship? Right.
Gambit's going 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
Did really well with that one. You'd make a great shrink. "Road
trip therapy," you could call it. Make a mint, too.
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
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
"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
"Something like that, yes."
"You've got a pretty messed-up way of showing you care, Emma."
"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 doing something."
"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 want."
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."
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.
1) 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.
2) 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 to Seattle.
3) 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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