Author's Chapter Notes:
Rogue meets a woman named Carol Danvers (I think that I have issues involving trying to get Rogue back in the air while making it not her fault...) at the clinic.
There were actually three “mutant cure” clinics located in NYC. As advertised, all stated that they were government-funded. Mutants stood in a line three blocks long at the one that Rogue chose. Some had mutations that were very apparent; Rogue could understand why the man with wings was in line. Others, like Rogue herself, appeared normal on the surface. She knew, though, that looks could always be deceiving when it came to mutations.

As the line slowly advanced forward, Rogue let her mind settle into the watchful, calm state that she had learned during her training as an X-Man. She observed the mutants in front of her, young and old, some obviously infirm with others helping them to stand and walk. Another aspect of the wait that Rogue found intriguing was the reaction of those who walked by the long line.

It was almost possible to tell who was a normal human and who was a mutant by their facial expressions alone. The normals glared or stared warily, trying to walk as far to the other side of the line as possible. Those who were mutants and not part of the line gave off more interesting and definitely mixed signals. Rogue saw hope, fear, longing, loathing, compassion, and contempt, sometimes all in the same person. They would walk close to the line, almost as if they wanted to join it. She was sure that some did. Others, she wanted to yell at them that there were some things that were too much to live with, some things that they would do anything to escape if they had the chance. Rogue stayed silent, though. All of the mutants in line managed to bite their tongues, sometimes literally, even when passersby would mutter snide comments or give them openly dirty looks.

Rogue had joined the line around noon. It was almost dark when she finally made it through the front door of the clinic. She was given a clipboard with a medical form on it and told to sit in one of the available chairs to fill it out. The chairs were not the most comfortable in the world, but waiting rooms are rarely known for their comfort anyway.

Rogue settled in to fill out the small boxes with as little information as she could get away with. For the box marked “Residence,” she wrote “none.” Other personal information was also off limits, as far as she was concerned. These people didn’t need to know any more than that she was a mutant, she wanted that mutation gone, and then she would quietly fade back into the general human population.

Finally, she finished filling out the form and rose from her chair to hand it to the woman sitting at the front desk. Sharp grey eyes glanced down at the information and then turned to glare at her.

“You have not filled out these forms completely,” the woman said in one of the starchiest voices Rogue had ever heard.

“Well, lady, sometimes you can’t help not having a place t’ live and stuff,” Rogue pointed out with an indifferent shrug and raised eyebrow that she knew was a small bit of leftover Logan.

The woman humphed and then told her to take a seat. She was sure the doctors would call her in shortly. Rogue obliged like a good girl, her tense shoulders and tight lips the only sign that she was incredibly uncomfortable in that place already.

The wait to be called back was remarkably short by comparison to the wait to get into the building. After ten minutes, a nurse with a rosy round face and honest looking blue eyes called her name. Rogue followed her through a white door into a very routinely hospital looking hallway.

“Now, Ms. Rogue, we will make you comfortable here for the night, as the doctors who administer the cure are already gone for the day. You will be fed and have access to adequate facilities to meet your needs, although you’ll probably have a roommate or two. Try to relax as much as possible tonight. The doctors say that it’s a good idea for the patients to be in a positive frame of mind throughout the procedure. I think they’re right, although their reasons seem a little odd to me. I’ve never been one to consider auras and all that to be very real,” the nurse babbled as she showed Rogue the way to her room.

Rogue simply listened to the chatter, wondering what the night would bring. The place looked clean and as comfortable as any hospital wing might be. The beds in rooms with open doors were crisply made, as if they were just waiting for the occupants the government knew would be flooding in.

Rogue’s room was on the first floor. The nurse explained that she was very lucky; the room’s former occupant, a mutant who had shown up much earlier in the day, had already been taken in to receive the cure. Rogue hoped that was a good sign; mutants receiving the cure didn’t need to stay over night to recover from the effects of whatever it was they did.

As the nurse left, Rogue took off her jacket and dumped it and her backpack by the bed closest to the door. She felt there was no reason to be cornered by the back wall, just in case. Rogue settled down on her bed and picked up the TV remote on the small nightstand next to it. There was a decent-sized TV suspended from the ceiling, and there was really nothing else to do but watch a few shows until she got tired. The lights in the room were low, probably meant to be restive, but there was no way she was getting to sleep yet. She was going to avoid the news, however; she didn’t need to get upset over any mutant-related stories that night.

Around nine o’clock, Rogue heard a knock at the door, and the same friendly nurse entered. She ushered in another mutant, a tall blond woman who looked around with much more self-confidence than most of those who had been standing in line. The woman looked at Rogue and smiled a little, but there was also something vaguely disturbing in her brown eyes.

“Ms. Rogue, this is Ms…um, Ms. Marvel. She will be staying in here tonight. We’re trying to keep everyone as close together as possible, for their own comfort, except those who express wishes in the opposite direction. Since you didn’t say that you would object to a roommate, I brought Ms. Marvel here,” the nurse babbled for a minute. She, too, had a strange look in her eyes, slightly different from the way she had looked before. Rogue wondered about that, but she was quickly gone.

Rogue watched the other woman put her things down by the bed next to hers. She wasn’t an incredibly good-looking woman, but she had a nice face and a kind set to her eyes, Rogue thought. Something was still niggling at the back her mind, something to do with those eyes, but she turned back to the TV, not wanting to be caught staring.

“So your name’s Rogue?” Ms. Marvel’s voice broke into the steady drone coming from the sitcom currently airing. She had a faintly British accent.

“Yeah. At least, that’s what I go by,” Rogue said, glancing over at her temporary roommate.

“My real name is Carol,” the woman said as she folded herself gracefully onto the bed, turned so that she faced Rogue.

“Marie,” Rogue replied softly.

“So you don’t trust them, either?” Carol asked in an equally quiet voice.

“Not a chance. I mean, I do hope that the cure’s real, but I can’t say that I believe it is. There’s just…a very small chance. It’s one I’d willingly take, though,” Rogue said. She knew she sounded a little bitter, and she just didn’t care.

“Why--I mean, I don’t want to be rude, but what kind of mutation do you have that makes you want to get rid of it that badly?” Carol’s question didn’t really catch Rogue off-guard. It would have to be brought up soon anyway, if only to warn Carol off.

“My skin. Trust me, you really don’t want to touch my skin. It’s a very bad idea for anyone who does,” Rogue said shortly. Seeing the inquiring look in Carol’s eyes and the tilt of her head, she sighed. “I drain people. Anyone who touches me is drained of energy, life force, whatever you want to call it. When a mutant is involved, I can drain their powers as well. If the touch lasts too long…the person touching me doesn’t survive.”

The room was quiet after Rogue announced that final bit. She was sure it had been a mistake, as necessary as it was to let Carol know. Now she would be just as scared of her as everyone else was.

A firm hand on her arm startled Rogue so much that she nearly jumped off the bed. She looked over into Carol’s eyes, which were a little shiny with unshed tears.

“I’m so sorry for you, Marie. I can definitely understand why you would want to do this, and I hope for your sake that it’s real.”

Rogue nodded in acknowledgment, still a little taken by surprise. Carol was touching her arm, a contact very few had dared since her mutation manifested. It felt good to connect in a human way with someone, even if that person was someone she had barely met.

In an attempt to steer the conversation away from her self-pity, Rogue asked, “What about you, Carol? Is your mutation so horrible that you would sacrifice so much to get rid of it?” Just looking at her, Rogue would have said no, but she knew very well that looks could be completely deceiving.

Carol shook her head. She glanced around, as if wondering how much she could say here.

“There aren’t any bugs,” Rogue reassured her. “I would have smelled ‘em or heard ‘em by now.”

Carol raised her eyebrows a little at that, and Rogue clarified, “I’ve had some pretty thorough training, and a few of the abilities that I’ve picked up from other mutants have stayed with me, including very sensitive senses. So don’t worry. We can say what we like here. I don’t know if that’s good or not. They’re not worried about what we say, what information we convey to each other.”

Carol nodded. “Well, I was sent by an organization I work with from time to time to check out one of these clinics, and it just happens that I was in the area when the announcement was made and my orders were handed down. We’re not very sure what to make of this place or of the ‘cure,’” Carol admitted.

Rogue grinned a little at that. “Well, it looks like the Brits, or whoever it is you work for, and the Americans have had the same great idea on this one. Granted, I might be a little more suited for it in terms of motivation, although you still haven’t answered my question about your abilities. I told you about mine, after all.”

Carol laughed a little at that. “Very true,” she said, relaxing a little. “My mutations are pretty straightforward. If I had wanted to, I could have crushed your arm with very little effort just now. I’m invulnerable, which means I'm very hard to kill, although I think that skin of yours could give that particular aspect of my mutation a run for its money! I can also fly.” She confessed the last proudly. It was obviously her favorite part of her mutations.

Rogue sighed. “Now, wouldn’t it be nice to have a nice normal mutation like being able to fly!” she exclaimed in mock sadness, trying to cover up her envy.

Carol laughed even more. “It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. There are some things that shouldn’t be mixed, and super-strength and adolescence are two of them.”

Rogue winced. “I guess you’re right,” she said.

They settled down into companionable silence after that, content to watch TV and comment occasionally on the shows.

Both women fell asleep sometime around ten-thirty. The opening of the door woke Rogue, who was never a heavy sleeper. The nurse from earlier entered, seeming to be as cheerful as she had at first, although Rogue noticed that she had also closed the door behind her, something she hadn’t done before.

“Time for lights out, ladies,” the nurse said merrily as she came further into the room.

Rogue and Carol were both staring at her as her expression turned very serious. She stepped forward to stand between their beds, and the two mutants exchanged an alarmed glance.

“You’re both in grave danger,” the nurse whispered softly, almost too softly for Rogue, with her superior hearing, to catch. “All of the mutants here are in danger.”

“What do you mean?” Rogue asked, making sure to keep her own voice low and as unthreatening as possible. Something in the nurse’s eyes told her that this woman was terrified and ready to bolt at any moment.

“I overheard two of the doctors talking as they were leaving earlier, before I brought Ms. Marvel in here. It seems that the miraculous cure the government is promising you is all a lie,” the nurse muttered bitterly. Rogue was sorry to see her so disillusioned, but this was important.

“Do you know any details?” Carol asked. Rogue silently hoped that she did.

“There were some comments about how amusing it was that the ‘patients’ were mostly still unaware that they were actually captives instead. There is a guard at the end of each hallway now. They didn’t have that earlier. I think they’re going to move you all soon. Just…just don’t eat or drink anything, okay, even if I bring it. I don’t know everything that they’re planning. I heard one of the guards saying that it was going to be a long five hours, though, so I think that they will be changing out at three a.m. I’m going to leave your door unlocked when I leave. You have to try to get out of here then. I think it will be your only hope. I’ve heard that the patients who arrived here earlier today…have not been seen leaving. So something more is definitely going on, but I really don’t know what, and I need to go tell as many as I can so that I can help you all. It’s just not right, when all you want to do is be free,” the nurse said with tears in her eyes.

Carol nodded. “Yes, go. We’ll be waiting at three.”

The nurse headed for the door. “I won’t be here when you leave, so good luck,” she said on her way out, her head hanging a little before she straightened and sailed out the door.

“So they are watching us, and this is definitely not what they promised it was going to be,” Carol stated bleakly. “Honestly, I did hope it was true, for the sake of some of my friends who are like you, possessing a mutation that does them more harm than good. It looks like it’s just another trap to gather up and destroy as many mutants as these damn governments can get their hands on.”

Rogue sighed. She looked at the TV, which was still on. There was nothing she could say to that. The pit of her stomach felt heavy and cold, and her eyes were suddenly sore from unshed tears. Slowly, she reached down and stripped off her gloves.

“I guess I won’t need these until later,” she said quietly.

“Does it hurt, Marie?” Carol asked, looking at the deadly white skin.

Rogue stared at her own hands, nails neatly trimmed and shaped, skin smooth and deceptively soft. “Every time,” she said, unconsciously quoting Logan’s response to the same question. “You would think that my body would at least enjoy what it was designed to do, but it doesn’t work that way at all.”

Carol turned to look at the TV, too. There was nothing else to say. They could only wait for the change of shift and hope for the best.
Chapter End Notes:
Now, the next chapter is the one that needs finishing, and it's also where there's some kickin'-butt action. Hopefully putting most of this up here will inspire me to finish it!
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