Summertime graces the northern hemisphere once again. The coming fall semester would prove crucial for Jean as she was due to receive her undergraduate degree in Biology from Barnard so she could graduate into Columbia proper. She had opted to remain on campus (for most of the holiday duration) to prepare for her finals. Scott on the other hand had accompanied his brother Alex to Alaska to visit their grandparents.
"Kurt, tell me again why ah we skiin in the middle o' summah?" Rogue tugged at her gloves to make sure they stayed on.
"Oh come on Rogue, it'll be like so much fun. Besides, everyone like skis in the winter and it like gets way crowded then. And it was Kurt's idea," Kitty directed that remark at Kurt.
"Ya could've just brought Kitty. Ah'm not very good at this skiin thing 'ither."
"Vell, I vanted to spend some time vith my favourite sister. And ve needed to escape zhat nuthouse too."
"Ah sure hope Logan and Storm ah holding out alright."
"They'll be like fine. I'm sure we like gave them a lot more hell. Like, see you at the bottom guys!" With that, Kitty took off in her skis.
"Last one down there owes us a treat!" Kurt gave Rogue a little wave and chased after Kitty as she sped down the snowy slopes.
"Yeah, sure," Rogue was preparing to set off, when a particular conversation caught her attention.
"Please sir, you've gotta help me find my daughter." A middle aged woman approached one of the ski lodge personals.
"Could you tell us what happened, Mrs..."
"Danvers. My daughter Carol went skiing with her brother, but my son hadn't seen her for the past hour when he reached the end of the course. He searched the route he took, but he couldn't find her." The woman sounded pretty anxious.
"Don't worry Mrs Danvers. We'll despatch a search party to find her. How does she look like?"
"She's about fifteen, short blonde hair..."
Rogue decided that she would not be such a nosey-parker and set off in search of Kitty and Kurt before she had to fork out a treat. And considering how much Kurt was likely to eat...
The weather was calm, as at this time of the year, the only snow appeared high up in the mountains. Rogue made her way swiftly down the slopes, but half-way down the mountain it was just her luck that she was tripped and fell over.
"Damn skis!" She cursed under her breath. Well, she was right about the fact because she did indeed trip over a ski. Rogue picked herself up and brushed the snow off her jacket and pants. The ski that was the cause of her little accident stuck out of the snow almost perpendicular to the mountain slope. A few feet from it, another one stuck out in a similar fashion. One glance in that direction, she saw the ski poles and then a coniferous tree that grew precariously along the edge of what seemed to be a cliff (with a dislodged portion). Its top was broken off in the most peculiar way, and some branches were scattered about. Rogue discarded her skis and poles and wandered carefully to the edge of the cliff. What happened here?
There was not much except for the missing top of the tree and a whole lot of fresh snow. But upon scrutiny, Rogue saw a limp hand sticking out of the jumbled heap of snow and branches.
"Oh gawd..." She wondered for a few seconds what to do. Seeing there was no one in the vicinity and none likely to come upon hearing her shouts. Was that the missing girl? And how did she get down there? One just did not go skiing off a cliff and having only the top of a tree fall onto you.
Rogue decided she had to rescue the girl and approached the steep cliff face in an attempt to climb to the ledge below, which was quite far down actually. Rogue made it half-way down, before the fabric of her right glove got caught in a crevice the same time as she lost her footing and slipped, losing her right glove in this instance, and falling onto the ledge with a noticeable hard landing followed by a string of curses.
Rogue got up and stared upwards. Great, how was she going to get this girl up there? It was near impossible to get back up to the top, unless you could fly. But maybe if she waited long enough, someone would come by. They had that search party right?
"Rogue should be like here by now."
"I haven't seen her 'ither. I zhought she vas right behind me."
"Should we like go find her?"
"You vait here, I'll start from ze top."
The branches were heavier that she thought as Rogue attempted to lift them off the girl. She appeared to be unconscious and the awkward position of her left leg could indicate that it was broken. Rogue certainly hoped it was not the case. She had wished for Blob's or Colossus' strength; it was quite a portion of tree that had fallen onto the blonde girl across her chest. From Rogue's view, she seemed relatively unharmed, except for minor grazes and cuts. She heard a murmur; the girl was stirring. Rogue continued to work on the tree, but it seemingly refused to budge, and the splinters were getting into the exposed skin of her right hand.
"Heeelp meee..." the voice was weak and faint. The girl was just swimming to the surface of consciousness. Rogue did not see the girl reach out with her free hand to grab onto hers. Rogue felt an icy cold touch, but the next thing she knew, the girl was gripping onto her right hand.
Oh shit...let go...please...Rogue tried to release her hand from the grip of the girl's frozen fingers but too no avail. The girl was unusually strong, and any moment now that she held on any longer, Rogue would start to drain her life force. "Heeelp meee..."
"Lemme go if ya want me to!" But Rogue felt her powers kick in and energy flow into her. And the longer the girl held onto her, the more life force poured into Rogue. What followed were bloodcurdling screams from both parties as Rogue struggled to free herself. When she finally managed to, the girl had slipped back into unconsciousness.
"Oh no...oh no...dammit..." not another one...Her and her cursed powers. Rogue panicked. She had better get this girl medical attention quickly. With one heave, she literally tossed the branch off the ledge. It did not occur to her how easily she did that when she could not even move that thing an inch previously. Now she wondered how she was going to get the girl up the cliff.
"Rogue?" She looked up hearing her name called.
"Kurt? Oh gawd am ah glad to see ya!"
In no time, Kurt had them teleported to safety.
"Ah found 'er down thar. Ah didn't mean it, but she wouldn't let go..."
"Vhat are you saying Rogue?"
"Ah absorbed her...but it was an accident ah swear!"
"You two, search there!" Rogue and Kurt heard someone bark orders from a distance.
"They're coming for 'er."
"Yeah, she was missin. You and Kitty had left when ah heard 'em."
"Ay! O'er 'ere!" The two waved frantically at the search party which approached them. "Ah think we've found the gal you're lookin for."
"Thank god. What happened?"
"She fell o'er the cliff ah think."
"But ve managed to get her up here."
"She's unconscious. We better get her back quickly." They missed it when Rogue cringed at that statement and bit her lip.
"Be careful, ah think she might've broken 'er leg too."
Kitty rejoined Rogue and Kurt at the top of the mountain where they were tending to the unconscious girl.
"What's wrong with her?" Mrs Danvers exclaimed worriedly. Carol was not responding to any method they tried to revive her.
"I don't know. She appears to be in a comatose state, but she didn't sustain any injuries to her head," The paramedic shone a pentorch into the girl's eyes, "which is unusual."
Rogue was nervously fidgeting in her seat. She knew she was responsible for the girl's state, but what was she to do? Tell them?
"Miss? Would you like me to have a look at that?" Another standby paramedic gestured to her right hand.
"Ah'm fayne." She replied curtly.
"It looks pretty bad," he reached out, wanting to examine her hand closer.
"Don't touch me!" Rogue absently flung her hand outwards. It hit the paramedic and threw him forcefully across the room, hitting the opposite wall.
Rogue was starting to get nervous. She did not need to be discovered yet again. But it was happening all over again, just like it did with Cody. She was dazed for a moment, and the next thing she knew, Rogue found herself hovering over all the people, her body pressed flat against the high ceiling. She screamed.
"Rogue? Oh my god! Like what are you doing?"
"Get me down!" Rogue screamed.
The people down below looked equally shocked.
Instinctively, Kurt teleported and got Rogue off the ceiling, to no avail, she still floated upwards, defying gravity.
"Muties! What have you done with my daughter?!"
"They saved your daughter that's what!" Kitty half-yelled in reply.
"Security! Get them muties!" The woman shouted, cradling her daughter's head protectively.
"What about the one on the ceiling?"
"I don't know! Just do something!"
Carol was sent to a nearby hospital shortly after. It had taken Rogue a couple of hours, but when she finally calmed down, she just floated back down onto the ground. Security held them in custody, and the professor was flown in from Westchester to negotiate matters. They had no evidences to press charges against the three of them, so Kitty, Kurt and Rogue were released.
"Professor?" Rogue sought him out in the library that evening.
"Yes Rogue? Come in. Kurt mentioned that you caused quite a...commotion...this afternoon."
"Ah don't know what happened. Ah lost mah glove tryin to save 'er, and she grabbed mah hand, and ah absorbed 'er. Then ah suddenly had increased strength, and ah could fly." Rogue did not know how to react to this revelation.
"How much of her life force did you absorb Rogue?"
"Ah don't know. But it must've been a lot, 'cause she's now in a coma. And it's all mah fault."
"Wait, you said you suddenly developed new powers after absorbing that girl." Rogue nodded.
Charles Xavier steepled his fingers. "It would then appear that this Carol Danvers happened to be a mutant, and you happened to absorb her powers by chance."
"But it's not wearing off. Nothin' like this has ever happened."
What Rogue eventually came to learn was that she had absorbed the girl's powers permanently, and Carol remained comatose for as long as Rogue could remember. But Rogue also did eventually learn how to fly.
Unfortunately, that fateful afternoon at the ski lodge fuelled dormant anti-mutant hysteria. Mutants soon became the talk of the town once again, and people had begun to keep a close watch out for them.
News had spread on campus, but majority of the students seemed more intrigued by this mysterious "flying" mutant. Jean had received news from the professor regarding this matter, and had hoped Rogue was well and adapting. But Jean was careful not to reveal herself on campus. Misty had stumbled onto her mutancy by accident, but she was good at keeping her secrets. And so a few months passed and the frenzy had died down on campus in place for the latest fall fashion catalogues.
And that fall meant that she was due to graduate from Barnard. Jean was eagerly anticipating it, and when the results were released, it was a cause for joyous celebration, and her friends from Barnard dragged her partying. Truth be told, Jean did not fancy such forms of social entertainment and politely opted to sit out on the occasion and nurse her drink when the bunch hit the dance floor. Her thoughts drifted to Scott. She wondered how he was doing this past year. She had not heard from him, but half of the time, she had rather not. He was probably enjoying himself too much with that witch. That thought filled the pit of her stomach with bitter rage, and she washed it down with her drink. But the next thing she knew, the other shoe was going to drop.
"Not enjoying yourself, Jean?" Ted came over to catch his breath and sit himself down beside her.
"It's not that." She looked away. She was not feeling comfortable in this place either.
"Don't you want to dance?" He put his arm over her shoulders. Jean scooted further across the seat.
"I don't feel like it that's all." This time, his hand was on her knee, and his fingers were climbing.
"Stop it." Jean shrugged him off.
Ted noticed her glass was near empty and promptly called for another.
"You're still thinking about him aren't you? Well, he sure ain't thinking about you. The other day, I heard this blonde tell Misty..." his voice trailed off into a whisper in her ear.
At first Jean was disbelieving. Why had Misty not told her? Well, she was not one to go unethically telepathically reading people's minds. Maybe you should have. And to think she had tried to forgive him all this time. She had felt this urge to cry, but was he worth all the tears?
"Hey Jean, what's wrong?"
"Look, you haven't even touched your drink since we left."
"Oh come on Jean. You wouldn't want to waste it."
Jean had a vague idea what alcohol could do to telepaths, but she did not count on the fact that after barely two cocktails, she could hardly walk in a straight line. Nevermind the third (they thought the second) one they dared her to drink. But it was true what they mentioned alcohol could do to you. She felt so high, and found almost everything ridiculously funny. And the lights above her were spinning; it was pretty.
She was hiccupping and giggling in the parking lot as Ted led her back to the car. He was not all that coherent himself either, but Jean was in a worse state.
The car was slightly warmer inside than it was outside, and Jean felt really sleepy. She wanted to go home to her comfy bed.
"Hmm..." She mumbled as his fingers fiddled with her red locks, then the buttons on her blouse. She tried to brush his fingers off her, but they were defiant. She felt his breath on her as he trailed kisses down her neck and nipped at her collarbone. He got out of the driver's seat and crawled over her, embracing her while half-kneeling in an awkward position which the leg room of the front passenger seat would allow him.
"Stop it..." Jean fought to regain consciousness. Alcohol apparently did not work well with telepaths. She was feeling very dizzy right now.
But Ted's hands were all over her body and they tugged at her skirt, hitching it up to her waist, and then pulled at her underwear.
"Stop..." He pressed his mouth against hers and inserted two fingers into her. Jean half gasped and half winced, and at that moment, realisation hit her. She mustered her strength and consciousness and telekinetically bashed him, albeit weakly, against the windscreen.
"Why you bitch!" He threw himself forcefully onto Jean as she tried to struggle out of his grip. Sure, she was a telekinetic, but she could barely concentrate long enough to use her powers; it was as if alcohol had a dampening effect on her powers, if not, it was giving her one hell of a headache.
"Stop it! Get off me!" Jean felt the temperature rise inside the car. Given all the struggling, it was a small wonder, but she was feeling hotter than usual. And she had not felt like that since...
It was without warning that Ted was sent flying out of the vehicle in a flaming parabola. His clothes and hair were on fire, and this bizarre but appalling situation caught the attention of passers-by. But the man was not the only one caught in flames. There was another feminine figure in the car, and her limp body was raging in flames.
"Oh my god! She's burning!" Someone tried to come to her aid and get her out of the car. Jean turned to stare at her supposed saviour. And the weirdest thing was, there were flames within the depths of her eyes as well.
"Leave me alone!" She stretched out her hand, and with a flick of her wrist, flung him across the street, doused in flames. She then stepped out of the car, dishevelled and hysterical. If the men in her life wanted to play her, see how they would like playing with fire. Literally. But this fire was not real, it was all in the mind. Ted discovered this fact when he tried rolling over on the ground but could not put the fire out. He curled up in a foetal position as the flames engulfed him.
"Poor little man..." Jean reached out and seemingly tugged at his mind. He grabbed his head in his hands and screamed in pain. As if his mind was a tangible object, it was wrenched and scorched, and having its every essence practically torn apart at a molecular level, leaving him cowering at her feet in a vegetative state, eyes widen open, and body spasming, as if he had a stroke. Jean just stood there and laughed. She was enjoying herself too much.
"Says who? Admit it Jean. They're all like that. And you're having way too much fun."
"Stop it! You're hurting people!" The flames started retreating. Jean staggered, head clutched in her hands. The world started spinning again.
"You're so pitiful. You're nothing without me!"
"I thought I told you to leave me alone!" Jean stumbled backwards. Behind her, the cars eerily lifted themselves up, and Jean started telekinetically flinging them about randomly. But the more she struggled to keep the voice out of her head, the more violent she apparently became.
"Embrace the power! Let us be one!"
The people in the vicinity fled in fear, but there were others who dared to oppose her.
"There's the mutie bitch! Get her!"
In response to that comment, Jean threw a car at them. Or that's what the voice commanded her body to do.
"I won't let you do this!"
"Oh yes I will! I shall do as I please! Surrender to me!"
"NO!" Jean summoned her sanity to lower the remaining cars, and fled down an alley as the rest of the mob gave chase. She ran and ran, turning into corners and hiding in shadows until she lost them. Frantically, she tried to reach out to the one man who could help her.
Professor, help me...I think I almost killed him.