The Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, Weeks Ago

 

“Rogue”, a voice called. Anna Marie turned away from the window, away from the throngs that had assembled to mourn the loss of Charles Xavier. It was just one more in a long string of tragedies.  Moira, Jean, Warren, Sean, Kurt … the list went on.

The crowd continued to mingle outside. The X-Men had deemed that the school itself was still a tad too unpredictable to allow so many to enter. Hank still hadn’t managed to completely stop the sporadic Danger Room activations that had plagued staff  and students almost since day one and that was without mentioning the extradimensional gremlins known as Bamfs. She had figured this would mean she could count on being alone inside the school for a little while. She should have known.

“Bobby, this ain’t really the time.” she said brimming with annoyance.

Life had taken a frustrating turn as of late. The mutant race had once again sparked to life but human-mutant relations were back to square one, the Professor was dead, Scott Summers was a criminal and the Avengers were insisting on making Magneto a wanted fugitive.

Before M-Day, the event which had depowered all but a few hundred mutants, mutantkind had begun to find its feet. Despite the atrocities that had been committed against them there were signs that people were beginning to accept them. Now, law enforcement around the world attacked emerging mutants on sight and no one batted an eyelid. Their messiah had saved them but where was hope now?

“What? You don’t even know why I’m here.” Bobby Drake, the mutant known as Iceman replied, his face lighting up with a brief flash of mock innocence.

Rogue couldn’t help but give him a weak smile. Here they were mourning the man who had meant so many different things to all of them and Bobby was still the same, loyal to a fault, always there for his friends no matter what he himself was going through because…because somebody had to keep it together on the outside even if on the inside they were falling apart. That was what Bobby did best.

“Then ah’ll bite. Why are you here, Bobby? Why aren’t you out there with Kitty?”

Bobby let out a sigh. “Kitty is… busy. She and Hank have their hands full with the students.”

They both remained silent for a few moments. Rogue cursed herself, she had been so caught up in her own grief that she hadn’t given a thought to the idea that maybe Bobby hadn’t come here so she could cry on his shoulder but that it was the other way around.

“She always did think the Professor was a jerk anyways.”

At this the two mutants couldn’t help but laugh. Although neither of them had been on the team when Kitty had thrown a strop at being downgraded from the X-Men to the New Mutants, her tantrum had entered the annals of Xavier’s.

“What do you think happens now?” Bobby asked and his voice seemed to quiver ever so slightly.

Rogue was taken aback by the question.

“What d’ya mean?” she asked him.

“I mean,” Bobby began, quieter than before. “Last time we thought the Professor was dead we just up and went our separate ways.”

“Yeah, but last time mutants was on the verge of dying out.,” Rogue rebuffed. “We’d just sent Hope into the future and it didn’t last long.”

Bobby cast his eyes to the ground. “It’s just hard you know? Scott just… killed him right in front of us.”  His voice trembled.

“I’m sorry”, he said leaning against the wall, his expression pained, struggling to keep his tears back as he let himself slide to the ground.

Rogue moved towards him and placed her hand on his shoulder as she bent down.

“Bobby, you can’t give up”, she said.

“We’ve got more hope now than we’ve had for a long time.”

Rogue was unsure that she believed the words herself but that wasn’t the point. She wasn’t the one she needed to convince right now.

“That’s not really saying much is it?” Bobby said his features flickering with the hint of a smile.

“Guess not”, Rogue replied. “But something’s better than nothing.”

“Thanks, Rogue,” Bobby said as he got up and began to walk in the direction of the stairs, back out to the crowd.

“Bobby,” she called.

He turned.

“Ah’m sorry ah snapped at you earlier. Solitude is a habit of mine. It didn’t help havin’ other people around when ah was trying to get away from voices in mah head.”

“Old habits, die hard, huh?”

“Yeah, ah guess so.”