Summary: It's hard being normal in the goldfish bowl.
Fandom: X-Men movieverse
Pairing: Bobby Drake/Rogue
Disclaimer: These characters belong to Marvel Comics and Fox Studios, not to me.
Original story: One Day at a Time by ficwize
Notes: Thanks to sionnain for beta reading.
Goldfish Bowl (Glass Houses remix)
After Liberty Island, some of the kids keep their distance from Marie, but Bobby and John still hang around. Bobby figures it must be bad enough for her to have left her family and be stuck in a strange place without people treating her like she's got some kind of awful disease. He thinks John's just trying to prove that he's not afraid of anything. John seems to like the way that when he leans in close to Marie, other kids stumble off-balance trying not to touch either of them.
He thinks that it really wasn't that bad, what she did to Logan, not compared to the time with the fire outside the greenhouse, or the time when he accidentally froze the water in the swimming pool. It's funny now, but it wasn't funny when he was curled up in the ice, unable to move or breathe, not knowing whose arms and legs he could see the shadows of through the ice. Mr. Summers broke the ice, and later John said Bobby ought to freeze the pool so they could slide around on it in their tennis shoes, so he did, and it turned into one of those funny stories that people tell later to prove they're friends.
He thinks Mr. Summers would have made the whole thing into a funny story by now to help Marie out if it didn't involve Logan. They're supposed to pretend that they don't know that Mr. Summers and Ms. Grey are fighting about Logan, but there's no way for them not to know that. There's no way for anybody to have a fight in the mansion without people knowing about it. It's like living in a goldfish bowl.
Marie doesn't seem to be used to living in a goldfish bowl yet, and she keeps saying things like "I'm okay, really," which just get the teachers to hover over her more being concerned, rather than "I'm kind of shook up, but I'm getting used to being here," which would satisfy them. The trick of having any privacy with telepathic teachers, Bobby's learned over the years, is to make them think they know what's going on with you at all times, so that they won't try to pry your head open to find out.
Marie says the thing she can do is sort of like being telepathic; it doesn't tell you what somebody is really thinking now, she says, but it tells you who they are. She won't talk about Magneto, but she talks a little bit about Logan, which always makes John hang around and listen, even though John usually pretends he's not paying attention the whole time. Bobby isn't sure if John likes the idea of being Logan or likes the idea of being Rogue or just likes talking about Rogue's powers because he can make it sound like talking about sex.
Marie is shy of the girls and hangs around with the boys; she looks more comfortable when he offers to teach her how to play poker than she ever does with Jubilee and Kitty. He's not sure if it's Logan in her head or just the fact that girls touch more, and she's always worried someone will brush against her skin without warning. He's not sure why he has this many questions about Marie. He feels like ever since she came he has nothing but questions and no answers.
She picks up the game quickly enough for someone who's never played before. John thinks he's good at poker, but he never can bluff. Bobby is good at figuring the odds, and he's careful with his bets.
At first, John and Peter aren't very happy about having her in the game, but she plays seriously, like there's real money involved instead of plastic poker chips, and after a while everybody chills out. The next time they play, they go out to the poolhouse, which is locked in winter but which Bobby can open with a sharp sliver of ice in the lock. John likes to smoke while they play, and when he passes the cigarette to Marie she inhales without thinking and then chokes. John laughs at her, and she gives him the finger and then takes a long drag on the cigarette again.
She has trouble handling the cards in her gloves, and Bobby finds himself hoping she'll take them off to deal. He wants to see her fingertips and the pale skin where her wrists disappear into the sleeves of her sweater. He thinks there's something screwed up about that -- he probably ought to be thinking about her breasts -- but he can't help being disappointed when she finds a way to slide each card off the deck with her gloved fingers.
Bobby is trying to remember to call her Rogue, because that's the name she likes. She still answers better to Marie, looking up immediately across a crowded room instead of taking a moment to realize someone's talking to her, but she frowns when she notices what he's done. "I like 'Rogue,'" she says, pushing back her white-streaked hair. "I'm not that girl anymore."
Bobby thinks she is the same girl, just like he's the same person he was before he found out he was a mutant. But Rogue wants everything to be different, like she can't stand any reminder of a normal life. She won't go hang out at the mall with Jubilee and Kitty, and when Kitty asks if she wants to dye her hair she says she likes it that way.
"It's like she won't do anything normal," Bobby says.
John shrugs. "Who'd want to drag around the mall watching Jubilee shop?"
"It's important," Bobby says. "We can't just hang around here thinking about how we're freaks all the time. We have to have regular lives."
"You've been drinking the Kool-Aid," John says. "Who wants to be normal?" He flicks on his lighter, the flame making dancing patterns on his face.
Professor Xavier isn't very helpful about it either, the one time Bobby brings it up to him in one of his counseling sessions. It's a way to have something to talk about other than his feelings about his parents, which Bobby has the sinking suspicion Professor Xavier knows.
"Rogue has been through a great deal," the Professor says. "She has to find her own sense of self in the face of experiences that have challenged her own definition of what's normal." Bobby must look blank, because the Professor adds more gently, "What I'm saying is that this isn't something anyone else can do for her."
"You told me that it was important for me to keep doing the stuff I'd done at home," Bobby said. He remembers it feeling wrong to enjoy something normal like watching TV, when he was supposed to be getting used to being a mutant freak. It took him a while to relax and be a mutant freak who liked television.
"Rogue is not you."
"Well, she's a girl," Bobby says.
Professor Xavier looks a little amused. "That, too."
All the teachers look a little amused when Bobby and Rogue are together, but also like they're not unhappy about whatever it is that's going on between them. He's supposed to be a good influence on her, while everybody pretty much agrees that John can only be a bad influence. John seems to like it that way.
The only problem is that he's not sure what's going on between them. They might be friends, or they might have slid over into dating while he wasn't looking, although they've never actually gone out on a date.
"It's not dating until you've had your tongue in her mouth," John says, and when Bobby frowns at him, he grins.
Bobby never has nightmares about the swimming pool incident, but sometimes he dreams that he's behind a wall of ice, with all the people at the school, and sometimes his mom and dad, too, looking in from the other side. They press their hands up against the ice and stare at him like he's in a zoo, and he tries to talk to them but he can't think of any words. If he could just talk, it would prove that he's really human and they would let him out, but instead they all go away after a while and turn out the lights and leave him alone.
The dream leaves him kind of freaked out when he wakes up, and he sits up and looks over at John's bed. John is sound asleep with the blankets pulled up over his head, and waking up John when he's sound asleep is usually a bad idea. There's always a kind of scary moment where he thinks John might hit him, and then nothing ever goes right when they try to talk after that.
Instead he gets up and goes downstairs barefoot. There are potato chips in the kitchen, and he thinks there might be some kind of old movie on TV. If he sits up in front of the TV eating potato chips it will make him feel more like he's having some kind of real life.
He stops in the doorway of the rec room. Rogue is curled up on the sofa asleep with the television on. She's in her pajamas, her cheek pillowed on one bare hand. Her feet are bare, too, and the way she's sleeping her shirt is pulled down off one of her shoulders.
He could wake her up and offer her the potato chips, and they could watch an old movie together. It would scare her, though, and she'd wake up feeling for her gloves, pulling her shirt back over her shoulder, thinking about what might have happened. It's probably better to let her sleep with the TV on like she would if this were really her home.
He goes back upstairs and eats potato chips in bed and eventually puts the bag down and lies there in the dark staring at the ceiling, thinking about how much he wanted to touch her bare shoulder or the curve of her ankle. He presses his hands together, trying to satisfy himself with the feel of his own skin, but it's not the same. He thinks she'd feel warmer.
On Saturday they watch cartoons in their pajamas. Rogue is wearing gloves and fuzzy socks, but she's left her scarf up in her room. She leans back against the sofa eating sugared cereal with her gloved fingers. John sprawls on the floor with his chin in his hands and makes smart remarks about the cartoon characters.
"Umm, Rogue," Bobby says, and there's only a moment's hesitation before she looks up at him. "I was wondering if you maybe wanted to go to a movie."
"Oh, real smooth, Drake," John says. "You must get a lot of action that way."
"More than you," Rogue says. "Sure, we could go to a movie."
"She wants you," John says confidentially to Bobby. "She really does."
"Shut up," Rogue says. She climbs up on the sofa and puts her feet on Bobby's lap. "I'm not sitting next to you," she says to John, although she lets him snag the cereal box.
There is a sliver of pale skin showing between the top of her sock and her pajama leg. It's a conscious effort to keep his fingers away from it. He wishes he had something to do with his hands.
There are footsteps in the hall and Bobby starts to push her feet off his lap, but then he makes himself relax. There's nothing wrong here for anyone to see.