1963-06-07 - No Small Test
Summary: A casual encounter in the Xavier Institute Library quickly becomes oppressive and painful, for all.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
erik moira rogue 


"Particle Physics: An Introduction." - by Reed Richards, Ph.D

The book rests between Erik Lensherr's fingers as he lounges in the institute's library. 'Washington Square' by The Village Stompers is playing on the record player, and the windows are open, allowing a cool breeze in from the sunny evening skies outside.

Resting on the table next to the man is a glass of water, a small glass of scotch whiskey, and a plate with grapes and cheese cubes upon it.


A small cart drawn behind her, Moira has brought her first set of offerings to the institute — Namely, a copy of every book she's personally published and about a dozen more books on genetics/genetic mutations. Most of them are on the college level, so they are probably over many of the younger student's heads, but at least they'd have access to reference for questions. A polite young man let her in the front door, but she's been allowed to explore herself otherwise.

It took her a bit to actually *find* the library, but Moira wasn't complaining. It let her learn the layout of the place a little more, greet some of the more friendly students, and generally take in this odd and lovely building that somehow feels like home, despite her first time being here (that she recalls) being yesterday. Finally, the sound of her crutch and footsteps can be heard outside the door, she pushing the library door open and spinning the cart around so she can wheel it in before her, holding the door open with her hip meanwhile.


No one would rightly count her as a younger student, though she has been with the Institute no more than two years. Rogue slips out from behind some stack or another, a broad-brimmed sunhat suitable for the Belmont Stakes tilted rakishly atop her fiery hair and a heavy bookbag carried like it weighs little more than tissue paper in a hatbox. Any guesses who was actually doing her course work? An umbrella painted in vermilion and emerald designs scarcely warrants much use indoors, closed up so the bamboo handle tilts against her shoulder. Just another day at the races or class for a girl who accidentally tripped out of the society pages into a school, nothing more to see. The gossamer tones of music pull her in, luring her deeper from her idle course, and she might just be seen dancing to the twanging strings, twirling once on the melody.

One can only hope Moira doesn't decide to push her cart forward or Erik look up at that exact moment. But those hyperactive senses of hers bring her stopping mid-sashay to the trumpet's seduction, one step, two step, and then none as she goes up on the toes of those utterly magnificent boots. "Sunny ways, pardon me. I didn't mean to get all caught up in your way."


The pages of a book canonly be so distracting, especially when it's subject matter is as dry (albeit interesting) as particle physics. Erik looks up, first to the doorway, and then toward the young woman who makes herself known.

For a moment or two, Erik studies Rogue with blue eyes that seem to see more than they know. "Music is not a thing to exclude but to unite," he answers, before folding the book over and marking its place with a thin ribbon in metallic silver. So as not to be rude, he rises from his perch upon the loveseat, offering the woman a pensive smile. "And you are?"


While Moira is pretty in her own way, possibly even elegant, but NOTHING compared to Rogue. She looks very much the scientist or teacher who has put away her labcoat for the day in compare to the young beauty who is sashaying in the room. A slightly wider smile crosses her pale lips at the sight and she doesn't actually disturb, she simply watches until Rogue ceases her own dancing. "I don't know that I'd call it caught up. Nice to see someone relaxing." Moira offers warmly, before she finishes her carting in the room. "Pardon me. I thought I'd drop off some extra books that could be of interest to the students…" Now just to find free bookshelves, if nothing else. She lets the, apparently unfamiliar, pair introduce themselves before she offers her own name.


The bookbag thumps against the back of Rogue's hip, its weight substantial enough to pullsmaller objects into its own orbit. Paper and pens rustle about under the canvas flap decorated by pretty artwork probably doodled between courses. Albeit that mandala design might have taken a few days of executed planning and effort. She pins the satchel to her side with her palm, and casts a look discreetly in Erik's direction.

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be said," she replies, the cultivated English held back from its tendency to drawl. Her hand curls to her chest, the umbrella entrapped. "My name is Rogue. A pleasure to make your acquaintance. Likewise, ma'am. I would be happy to offer you any assistance you might like to make up for interrupting either of you." Because whom else dances in a library? Not living that one down.


With a subtle tilt of his head, Erik seems intrigued by how this woman introduces herself by way of an alias, rather than a name. It's difficult to tell whether the expression that crosses his face is more whimsical or trepidatious in nature.

"'Rogue'." He repeats the name with the quotations that sandwich it, clearly pointing out the obvious, before bowing his head in a manner that is not entirely without grace. "I am Erik, Erik Lensherr. An old friend of Ch… of Professor Xavier's."

Moira's entrance draws his eye, and a more friendly smile spreads across his chiseled features. "Moira. Hello, again, and not soon enough." He turns to walk toward her cart, the collection of books most interesting. One in particular is lifted, and he examines its cover closely. "These will be a fine addition to Charles' already expansive collection."


"…Rogue. Lovely name. I take it that's not what your mother calls you." Moira states with a slightly amused twist of her lips. Where as Erik is more quietly accepting of the pseudonym, Moira's charmed, amused, but not entirely buying it. She's very much a woman who is used to teaching young people and every trick they might have up their sleeves. "Dr. MacTaggert, Miss Rogue. But you're welcome to call me Moira." She states with a respectful bow of her head. "Have you been at school here long?"

Then, pale eyes flicker back up to Erik, her smile turning a bit more comfortable, even if the man was new to her. There was a somewhat strange, odd comfort between them. Like this was natural. "I wasn't certain all of what he had. A few haven't gotten much in the way of printing. And, besides, with this many students, doubles are never a poor idea…" She begins carrying a few books over to the shelves, happy to accept Rogue's assistance. She pauses as she sees the T shelf, loaded with her books already. A single brow arches. "…Goodness, the Professor was not joking when he said he knew my work. I'm… flattered."


Not a twitch from the blithe young woman even indicates some kind of offense or fear at thereaction. Nor is there cocky posturing on her part for adopting some kind of cute alias. "Yes, Mr. Lensherr, Dr. MacTaggert. I'm afraid whatever my mother chose to name me never took, or was lost when I woke up." No one can fault Rogue on manners, even as she lays her umbrella down upon a table. A quarter turn and she faces them again, hands clasped in front of her. "Any friends of the Professor's are surely welcome here, and I hope you do find your stay pleasant and enjoyable. Plenty quiet these past few days, not that peace is something to be bothered with." Working the strap of her bag over her head, she sets that aside on the table as well where no one will be at risk of premature osteoporosis or back strain.

Moira's cart of books might be temptation in their own right, but the young woman is polite about digging in. She trails her fingers over the spines, and then determines any similarities or pre-existing organization by title, author's name, Dewey decimal classification, Moira's favourite colours. A few of those won't be hard to reach, and neither is the topmost shelf.


The book taken is replaced, but not until after Erik has taken the time to note the visible weight of Rogue's backpack. A single eyebrow arches, but he says nothing of it. Instead, he moves behind the two in an effort to assist with the sorting.

"Peace is something to be valued, but I find it tends to be fleeting," the European tells Rogue. "I would enjoy it while it is with us. If-"

Erik's thought seems stalled, however, conveniently when Moira speaks of being flattered. He looks toward the books Moira is inspecting and, seeing how many are her own works, finds himself suddenly feeling embarrassed. "Yes. Well, Charles is a well read person, you know," he tells her. "Given that you both share fields, it… it seems reasonable he would have, ah, found your work. Enjoyable. Or interesting."

He manages to stifle a grimace, but a hand does rise to scratch at the back of his neck.


That small sense of the joke she somehow missed last night has returned, Moira tossing a sharply intelligent blue eyed gaze across her shoulder as Erik speaks. Just in time to catch that grimace and the faint embarrassment on his features. Strange. She tilts her head, not verbally remarking on it with a student in the room, but there is no doubt he's been caught and questions will be asked later. She then finishes putting away two more of the books, but with the need of her crutch, she can't actually take that large a load of books at a time.

Rogue, however, is given a far softer smile. The books are many, all at the collegiate level, about genetics, mutations, new genetic research and, at the bottom, just a few on philosophy and human evolution. "If you see any you like, feel free to take. Just return them here when you're done, really. And any further questions you have… I know I'm not one of your regular teachers, but I am hoping Professor Xavier will let me take some part time teaching duties, especially with the older students. Understanding exactly what is happening to your… well, with your gifts… I think it could be valuable for everyone here."


Twenty somethings, like teenagers, have a radar when their betters strike upon choppy waters and turbulence. Rogue averts her too-luminous green eyes from the adults entrapped in the vagaries of discomfort, picking up three of the books and placing them at appropriate intervals along the shelf in order to be moved in later. Two more join the trinity, and the brim of her sunhat covers her alabaster face beneath its generous sunset arc. So too, the curious loft of her arched brows. Nothing on earth is quite so dogged at piercing a riddle like a young person with piqued curiosity. But, on her part, she tries to suppress that.

"That is an awfully kind offer, Doctor. I fear I may not be quite up to the standard of this yet, though you inspire me to fit what I can into my timetable." Her gaze flits across the titles again, and then averts to Moira, holding its own considerable weight and warmth. The girl's a ray of sunshine masquerading as a human, honest to everything. "Perhaps if you can set me straight, that would be your project to demonstrate to the Professor anything is possible. Though you can say what it is outright, I don't need a sugar coatin'. Changing the words doesn't much change that I'm different because something in my physiology went active. That is how they were telling us it goes. Having some idea of the biology behind it gives me a little hope of understanding it, though we all have to shift for ourselves. Like Mr. Lensherr says, it's a unifying music except I hear a different key than everyone else."


There is a distinct possibility that Erik knows he's been had. What on Earth was Charles thinking, tampering with her head like that? Needless and ineffective, especially considering she managed to find her way back here, of all places. There might be something in one of those philosophy books read to be keen on the issue.

Either way, Erik has long since learned the art of deflection. "The science of genetics and mutation is as new as anything," he tells both. "There is much to be studied, to learn, to practice. Does it ever concern you - either of you - that the sum of this scientific journey inevitably leads to human testing?" A pause. "A more apt choice of words might be, mutant testing. To my knowledge, no rodents have developed the ability to read minds; no rabbits, the ability to create ice from thin air. Tell me." He then turns toward Rogue specifically. "What talent is it that brings you to this fine institution, my dear?"

He smiles mischievously. "Surely it isn't merely an enhanced musculature construction."


Damn, he was good. Few things can entirely deflect Moira, but bringing up discussion of what is absolutely her life's work would be one of those things. As there aren't that many books, easily put away between the three of them, she limps over to one of the more stiff backed and high seated chairs, lowering herself into it smoothly without being invited. Erik opened the door to this kind of conversation, she sure as hell was going to walk through it.

"Well, firstly, Miss Rogue, it is a gift. A mutation, yes, a deviation in the human genome, but still a gift. Even if there are downsides. I fully recognize even the most lucky mutant with full control over his or her gifts faces social issues and pressures unlike any other in the world. But any questions you have I am more than happy to go over everything with you." Then her blue eyes settle back on Erik and, strangely, he might get a sense of deja vu. She's said these words to him before, so many times it might feel. They've had this conversation. Only she doesn't remember it. But she's still just as passionate as she used to be, if not more so. "Human testing is, sadly, the inevitable step of any scientific journey that is about humanity. But, doing it ethically and with full consent of the participants is the most important thing. And no, we are not aware of mice that can read minds… But there have been gorilla subjects that have shown empathic capabilities even when separated with completely sealed walls in captivity. Mice with altered strength compared to their size. Mutation is a part of all natural evolution. I should share with you a new paper of a study I did in Chile last year."


The door is open and Wonderland waiting on the other side, which probably makes the Cheshire Cat as good a guide to that wild realm as any. Rogue finishes putting the books away, gently pushing volumes apart to accommodate the new neighbour. "I dread to think of pigeons and rabbits given any form of opinion they could impose on the rest of us. That might go down rather poorly in a city such as this." The next civil war will be a guerrilla battle run from the streets, the dumpsters, the rooftops using detritus and fuzzy ears, and humanity will not be prepared except among the rare few skeptics. They will be washed away in a tide of 'Aww, look— great big TEETH!'

"I have to agree a little with Mr. Lensherr, Doctor. The prospect of being subjected to lab experiments and tests frankly put me here in the first place," she remarks, even-toned, for all she won Mother Nature's lottery for looks. "One thing to consent to such treatment, understanding the outcome for any results, but quite another for the trend of those experiments and hypotheses to eventually end with a young man or woman strapped down to a gurney in a bunker while prodded and poked, filled by all manner of peculiar devices an' such. I suspect I would rather hide under the Antarctic ice sheet with the penguins than put myself through that wringer. Problem is, as I see it, no one has to keep to an ethical covenant. Maybe the kind doctor performing the research with the best of intentions keeps the results to himself, but what about his assistant? What about the Surgeon-General who convinces the Congressperson there ought to be a law in the state house, or worse in Washington, that those results have to be shared with the wider medical community? Published in a journal? Why, the cover of privacy and the Hippocratic Oath go right out the door then, for how can they be doing no harm by lining up 'Caucasian female, twenty-six, this genome and that power to sap heat from the air?' Unlike the general population, we have such a small sample size that someone with an affliction — a mutation, whatever we opt to name it — will stand out even if you don't give them a name. And assured some of those gifts will give plenty of pause to all those good doctors in their hospitals and ivory towers. I haven't a good answer for you on the legitimacy of the social and medical ethics, though I wish I did. I think it would go a long way to assuaging fears that you hear even among the younger students here. I ain't deaf or blind, and know the nature of power. Why, you need only look at the map to see that. Half the countries that have borders now didn't exist as such when you were born, I reckon. And that great, vast sea o' red, and a fair pretty bit of pink, draws out to me the strange new world we all are embarking upon. I keep peering at certain little places on the map, places I'm sure I was told about as a girl, and still cringe when I hear."

She doesn't name them. She need not. They are wrought there in the fissures between her answers, a toss-up of English melodiously held to a rhythm that wants to whisper in horror with umlauts and harsh edges. "My 'talent,' Mr. Lensherr? Why, a girl's not to share all her secrets with a fine gentleman she just met. That lessens the mystique in her, doesn't it? I lament to say it's nothing so sweet as making ice or helpful as reading thoughts, though maybe under the circumstances I might do that. One of the churchmen would probably tell you I steal souls."


While Erik's attention seems riveted to Moira, it is something Rogue speaks that draws a change in his demeanor.

Tied to a gurney. Prodded and poked.

A shadow comes over the German's face; a shadow that pierces the face of an intellect and a pleasant man, as if veiled by the horde of the devil himself. Jaw tightened, eyes glazing, a veritable chill coming from his bones.

Pain. Anguish. A needle into the arm, eyes pried open, forced to watch. First, a man gutted from sternum to stomach, blood and organ spilled onto a dirty cement floor to the sickening tune of choking. Next, a woman, beaten and flogged 'til she lie on the ground. A boot stomped into her jaw until bone is crushed, teeth split, moans and wails paired with the laughter of man and the mockery of pigs.

Finally, a young boy, no older than five, made to stand in front of a large target before his little body is riddled with bullet holes. All made to watch, eyes pried open, narcotics coursing through his veins.

When I count to three, you will move this coin.

For a moment, everything metal in the room trembles.

Including the pins in Moira's shattered leg.

It all happens when Rogue is finished speaking. Her words are like a brand into Erik's brain, though he seems not to have noticed them. Instead, with a gasp, he reaches out to grasp hold of Moira's book cart, so as not to collapse on the polished wooden floor.


Well, Moira did have something to say, but it's all quickly out of her head at the sudden and somewhat violent ache that goes all the way up her leg. While things have mostly healed and she's been far more mobile the last month than she'd been in the two previous, she's never felt pain like that before. Her eyes press tightly shut, shifting in the chair, trying to move in some way to stop whatever is happening… and then it's gone. She's not nearly so lost to memories as Erik is, she just looks like ashen paper for a moment as her body kicks adrenaline and endorphins intooverdrive to deal with pain that isn't really any longer there. But the aches will renew, minor fissures in the bones that were still healing.

No, these powers were not always gifts.

Moira swallows back against the gallop of her pulse, staring between the two, trying to figure out exactly what happened but only aware the man had zoned out and then that pain came. She takes another shallow breath and whispers quietly. "…Perhaps this… is not a comfortable conversation for… anyone. Though one that needs to be… had. So… so we're prepared… when the government does start… making such choices." Moira's generally eloquent, intelligent words are stilted and uncertain now. She is not in the right headspace to return the proper debate.


Everything metal in the room. Buttons on a dress, tightening and rattling. Zippers. Pins in the body. Rogue should be shuddering in the harmonic vibrations to the pulsations around her, but the immediate reaction isn't curling back on herself or fleeing. A look of dread and compassion storming together in a curious morass, like Picasso started etching Guernica out of her fair complexion. Whatever will Charles make out of this? Perhaps ask whose brain she has been picking, whose unintentional powers have been drained? None. The girl just throws darts with bullseye accuracy off hand.

Gifts are not always gifts.

"With the Professor moderating to keep any emotions from running too hot. I am so sorry if I touched a nerve. Ah just…" She moves slowly, ever so slowly, towards Moira as though interposing herself would change anything about the demons gnawing at her bones from the inside out. Fear. Fear she can grapple, stare straight in the eyes. Instead she offers her arm politely, long sleeve covering it unless, too, her clothing is at risk of being ripped asunder. If Moira wants to go over /there/ anywhere fast, well, she's got the dame to do it.


Knowing exactly what has happened, Erik struggles to regain control, and does so quickly. For a moment or two, he's taken by the numbness that follows such an experience. The trauma of his youth cannot easily be explained.

Still, Erik is well aware of what transpired. He could feel every shred of metal vibrating at his will, well aware of what torment he just caused to Moira, albeit by sheer accident. Mouth parted, he draws a deep breath and dares to pry his eyes open.

A single glance is given to Moira, and then to Rogue. There is torment upon his face, a thing he cannot speak of.

"I will never stand for mutants to be made lab experiments," he tells them. "I assure you. Such a thing will never happen so long as I live."

Rising, Erik reaches for his discarded book, and the glass of scotch. The liquor is taken down in one gulp, it's glass replaced on the table next to the uneaten grapes and cheese cubes. "If you'll excuseme."

He slows, in walking past Moira. Eyes of bright blue look toward her with an earnest that sneaks past the dark cloud that has fallen across his face, and he murmurs something to her before departing.

"My deepest apologies, Miss MacTaggert."


Moira MacTaggert is a woman who understands pain, probably more than any woman should, in truth. So, while there is now a fine sheen of cold sweat across her features, she has not been felled by the experience. If nothing else, she looks worried about Erik more than anything. There is forgiveness in her gaze before apologies are even given. Her hand comes up, resting against Rogue's arm, but not so she can escape. Just to give the girl's limb a gentle, reassuring squeeze, as if to say she was just fine and there is no fear here.

Her other hand comes up as Erik moves to pass and leans over to murmur those words. She touches his shoulder, ever so softly, the soft, warm pressure of her hand still the same touch that was so familiar from years past. Still with all that care. How could she forget how he smelled, or the tone of his voice? Something in her doesn't, affection already in that touch. "…No need. Go, Mr. Lensherr. Care for you and yours. We… we will talk another day." She reassures him, not a drop of fear or anger in her voice. Then she's looking back to Rogue, the women being left alone, and she gives the younger lady a pale smile. "If you had studying to be doing, don't let me keep you. I shall be out of everyone's hair shortly."


Charles is going to murder her. With a very sad, disappointed look and compassionate shake of his head.

But murder her all the same.

All that it takes to destroy her in a go is that tormented look. One wordless look to strike a fissure so deep, the young woman cleaves in two. Her hand claps over her rounded mouth and the light in those foxfire emerald eyes dies, slanting almost molten in its disappearance. Liquid wells up, for reasons that won't express themselves in any sound. The sting hurts in a blur that pride insists not go before a fall.

Erik might as well have reached over and backhanded her. Maybe it would be easier.

An awful tremor runs through her under the tender hand raised on her skin, and it's all that the redhead can do not to lift right off the floor. But a certain buoyant pressure is there, phasing on the fulcrum of standing upon toepoint only by superficial standards. "I do wish you wouldn't say that." The only words she can offer are nearly at a whisper, streaked by a fine ash of regret and remorse. Then, taking a moment, she restrains herself long enough to reclaim her precious coursework from the bookbag. No one ever makes the ceilings high enough for a treed aerialist, and flying cats are sadly not a thing. She might just find herself bolting out a high window if there were.

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