The Rat Trap - TheCostumer's X-Men Fan FicThe Rat TrapAuthor: TheCostumer
Fandom: X-Men the Movie
All characters belong to the Marvel Entertainment Group
and Twentieth Century Fox, and are used without permission, for entertainment purposes only. Images on this page are property of 20th Century Fox. No infringement upon the rights of Marvel and Fox should be inferred; nor is any intended.
Characters: Magneto, Charles, Rogue.
Rating: PG. Sexual themes, angst, comedy.
Summary: Sequel to Finding Hope. Erik and Charles have a discussion about Rogue.
The Rat TrapWhen they turned out the lights, the nightly struggle began. Not that in this room the lights ever went out completely, or that fear of the dark was ever an issue. But the dark engendered sleep, and sleep engendered weakness to the nightmares, and there were too many watchers who might see the struggle.
The transfer of power that had occurred between Magneto and Rogue on that terrifying night had transferred memories, emotions and dreams, in a sudden awful rush along with all the energy. Both of them felt the effects, and would probably do so to a fading degree till they died. It was at night, however that the effects were at their worst.
Frightful memories of the past were mixed up with fearful (and embarrassing) fantasies that could take a sudden turn to horror in an instant. Murder, guilt, remembered passions, blind terror, all mixed to make a heady cocktail of nightly despair.
It was all a bit much, Magneto mused. Surely, with the horrors contained in his own past, the guilt he had stored up and savored almost like a connoisseur, it should be SHE who was getting nightmares from HIM, not the other way around!
Then again, perhaps she was. He doubted it.
And he had thought her such a nice girl when he'd kidnapped her.
He had felt so guilty about using her to forward his plans. Well. Perhaps, not that much. Guilt, he realized, was getting to be a reflex with him. He had so much to feel guilty about in his early life -- his parents' death, his work in the camps, his marriage, his early out-of-control killings -- that lately he had felt like something was wrong with him if he didn't have something to feel guilty about. Rogue, so young and helpless, with chocolate brown eyes like his dear dead Magda, seemed a perfect candidate for making him feel guilty.
Perhaps that was why he allowed visits from Charles, even though they irritated him. He dearly loved Xavier, but he had to admit, Charles was such a Yenta, spooning up duty and guilt like oatmeal. The weekly visits were often little more than exercises in mutual flagellation.
But guilt was about the last thing he felt about Rogue right now. There were even times on nights like this when he wished he had killed her. It had been decades ago when he had last felt this victimized and out of control.
It wasn't really Rogue's fault, he had to admit. It was not as though she'd wanted to transfer with him, or he had given her any choice. But her dreams and memories were so intense and vivid it was very hard to remember that she hadn't forced them on him. That he had intentionally sucked them out, as a sop to his conscience before killing her, or nearly killing her.
Now she was nearly killing him. He wondered if she realized it.
On one visit, Charles had told him that Rogue wanted to send him a message that she had forgiven him, and understood his motivations now. That had amazed him at first, though he realized that it made perfect sense. She would now have a very clear idea now of why he had done what he did, and since his intentions were, in fact, entirely good, it made sense that the little Baptist child in her would want to make such a formal declaration. He just hoped she wouldn't start sending him little homilies or woven W.W.J.D. bracelets for his birthday or some such embarrassing nonsense.
Charles had then also admitted that Rogue had asked if she might visit Erik. That, he was dead certain, had nothing to do with the Baptist upbringing. He knew the inside of her head now, and knew that the one thing sweet little Marie most wanted was something he had. Not that she was particularly attracted to him, he thought (although the poor creature seemed to be increasingly attracted to everybody, particularly anyone male) but he could see how she might have realized, that her only key to touching or making love to anyone she DID want in the future was predicated on her being able to practice on a person she could not kill. Or, practice on someone she didn't care if she did kill. Magneto supposed he qualified on both counts.
Charles explained that he told Rogue a visit was unadvisable. And for once, Erik had to agree with his highhanded preemption. In his present tormented mood, if Rogue were to walk through the door of his cell right now he would probably grab her by the throat and choke the life out of her. Either that or something even less dignified or controlled.
This is silly, he kept telling himself. I'm seventy years old. I should not be obsessing in this way. He tried to exert his iron will on his thoughts, or at least his anatomy, to no avail. It was like sitting in a corner NOT thinking of pink elephants. The more he tried to master it, the farther it spun out of his control. It was exhausting him.
Each night, after the lights had been out for hours, he would lose the struggle. He would get exhausted trying not to think, yet thinking in circles, like a rat in one of those endless little running wheels. He'd drift off to sleep, and then dream, and dream, till he'd jerk or even scream himself awake in the morning. Sweaty, aroused, and thoroughly embarrassed in his Plexiglas prison, surrounded by eyes.
"You seem a bit gray, Erik," Charles asked the next day, as he tried probing around his brain in concern "Have you been ill?"
"DON'T DO THAT!" Erik practically screamed, his shout literally vibrating the walls with his annoyance.
"Sorry, Erik," Charles said, in genuine, and amazingly innocent, concern. "I'm just worried about you of late. If you would only let me into your mind, perhaps I could help..." He sent out a gentle mental tendril of concern, which Magneto slapped away at once.
"Charles, I swear unless you want this chessboard shoved up you sideways, DON'T do that AGAIN!"
The unflappable Charles seemed a bit taken aback by the violence of his friend's reaction.
"I suppose this has something to do with Rogue."
Erik went from gray to dead white.
"You are feeling guilty about what you did to her. My telling you she'd forgiven you..."
Erik sighed. "No, Charles." He said, shifting in resignation to the back of his chair. "I DON'T feel tortured with guilt at what I tried to do to her." He realized there was no way he could get out of having this conversation with Xavier. Charles knew him too well; he was trapped like a rat in a cage, and common sense told him that he needed to talk about this with someone or go insane.
When the prison psychiatrist, Dr. Jacobs
, had diagnosed him with something she called "Bi-Polar Disorder," she was simultaneously amazed at how comfortably and easily she could get him to talk about traumas like the death of his daughter, the loss of his wife, and his work in the camps. Erik never resisted answering her questions about his estranged children, his love/hate passion for Charles, or even his recent actions. It was only his present problem he had difficulty expressing to her. Of the two, Charles would be easier to bear.
"I'm having difficulty with what she did to me, Charles," Erik began. "When I transferred my power to her, I got a sort of duplicate version of her feelings and memories shoved into my brain, and they are not very comfortable there."
"I should think that you, of all people, would not feel threatened because she has some sort of crush on one of the boys," Xavier admonished. "Or perhaps it's Logan she was obsessing about? She seems rather taken with him."
"She's taken with everybody, Charles." Magneto sighed. "She is taken with YOU, with Logan, with nearly every boy in the school, with Jean Gray...even with me, if you can imagine that."
"Actually, I DID imagine that." Charles smiled. "Why do you think I told her she could not visit you?"
"I just supposed that you thought I might be a bad influence."
"And now you are telling me that it is she who is a bad influence."
"I know it's not her fault." Erik conceded, with only a touch of a whine in his tone.
"It's just puberty, Erik. You've been through it before." Charles grinned, vaguely enjoying his friend's discomfiture.
"No I haven't, Charles. I'm afraid that was something I rather missed out on, for obvious reasons." He was sounding snappish. "Besides, in her case it is much more than that. I'm surprised you haven't sensed it."
"I have tried, but she is as resistant to me as you are today. She won't talk about it, and panics if I try to read her mind. I won't force my way in..."
"As I did?" Erik asked with irony. "That IS what you were thinking, isn't it?"
"Well, you would hardly be having this problem now..."
"...if I had been a good boy and not tried to hurt her?" Magneto smiled again. "Quite true."
"So what exactly 'more' than the usual amorous obsessions of puberty has got Rogue upset?" Charles inquired. "And you upset as well."
"Do you know she killed a man?"
"Given her gift, it's not surprising that would have occurred. I did not know, but suspected, that she might be hiding that there had been a terrible accident."
"It was NOT an accident. She did it quite consciously and with intent." When Xavier looked surprised he went on: "After she ran away from home, she was picked up by some lunatic who tried to rape her at knifepoint. Knowing what her touch could do, she quite deliberately held onto him until she was certain he was dead."
Charles considered that in silence.
"That isn't all. He didn't have many clear memories, but from the snatches she absorbed from his fogged brain, I think it fairly certain he was a serial sex killer."
"That is the tip of the iceberg, Charles," he went on. "She then went on a sort of spree hitchhiking north, attacking anyone who tried to molest her. On the one hand, she never touched anyone who wasn't actually trying to hurt her. On the other, from the number of those who tried to do so, and the situations she kept putting herself in, I can only conclude she was subconsciously seeking out rides from men who she knew would give her an excuse to assault them."
"That's absurd." Xavier frowned disapprovingly. "She is a perfectly timid little thing!"
"Don't you remember the 'Disappearing Hitchhiker' on the news?" Magneto asked, rhetorically. "That was how I originally found out about her. I also found out she was a runaway, who had her 'gift' show up while kissing her first boy."
"That would be rather disconcerting for any young girl."
"Disconcerting?" Erik laughed. "Oh, how I do love your gift for understatement!"
They both laughed freely, at long last.
Finally, Erik said, "It's not just 'disconcerting,' it's that it felt good to her. Transferring for her, or with her, is rather like a heroin rush, or some such thing." He coughed uncomfortably. "What is worse, she absorbs all the amorous longings (to put it tastefully) of whomever she touches. This includes, no doubt, those of her high school boyfriend, of Logan, that lunatic killer, and the half-dozen lechers she assaulted."
"And now you."
"I suppose so."
"And you have hers?"
"That is the problem. Or at any rate, my problem," he mused. "I would think I only have a faint image of what she has running through her. If that is true, your problem is that if she can't learn some way to control her 'gift' she could easily turn into a serial killer."
"You are confusing her fears and fantasies with actual memories. I still can't believe she would kill anyone deliberately."
"She certainly tried to kill me deliberately," he remembered, "twice. I rather admired her for trying." In fact he still did.
"How? You mean she tried to touch you deliberately?"
"She did touch me." He smiled at Xavier's discomfiture. "It was hours before the whole incident at the statue. I brought her food where we were holding her, and she went after my hand."
"Did she render you unconscious?" Xavier asked, confused.
"No, no. Nothing of the kind. I just raised the lightest little electrostatic barrier, and it stopped the transfer." Erik enjoyed Charles' reaction to that, then went on: "She tried again just before I took her to the boat -- went after my face that time, with similar results. I'm afraid I quite frustrated her with my apparent indifference to her assaults."
"She probably thought you meant to kill her."
"I did mean to kill her," Erik admitted. "So did the man she killed." He shifted uncomfortably in his chair. "Her thought, just before I let the static down and transferred with her, was that I was like him, only worse."
There was a pause. Xavier sensitively refrained from issuing an I-told-you-so. But it took great self-control.
"My point is this, Charles," Erik went on after collecting himself. "I have been living with this girl's dreams, nightmares, and longings for less than a month, and I'm a wreck. Yet I know, that if, say, I touched you just now, it would not harm you (unless I wanted it to), nor would it feel like a heroin rush. I know I'll get out of this absurd rat-cage sooner or later. Rogue, on the other hand, can only suppose that she will be trapped like a rat by her powers her whole life. She needs a way around her problem or she will either consciously and deliberately start to try controlling her touch by 'practicing' on people she is willing to kill, or just lose all control one day and inadvertently kill somebody she loves like Logan."
"What do you suggest I do about it?" Xavier protested. "I have been trying to think of a solution since she arrived."
"I don't know!" Magneto protested, weakly. "Put an ad in the papers looking for another mutant like me with electromagnetic powers, issue the students full body condoms, build her an android boyfriend -- DO SOMETHING." Somehow Erik felt that if he didn't have to contend with a mental picture of Rogue seething with romantic longings off in Westchester, he could sleep better.
"Perhaps I should let Rogue visit you here after all..." Charles mused.
"NO! Absolutely NOT!" Erik nearly shouted in panic.
That was the second time in less than an hour he'd lost control, Charles realized. Little Marie had really got to him. Eric was what Jean would describe as a "control-freak."
"Are you actually afraid of her?" he asked in astonishment.
"Not so much afraid of her as afraid of her effect on my ability to ever sleep again would be."
"What exactly is the problem with her, or should I say your, dreams?"
"I should describe them as 'ours' best. They are put together from bits of mine, hers, Logan's and anyone else's who she made a full transfer with."
"Like the boy she kissed, and that man."
"Yes, but hers seem to be dominant for the moment." Erik elaborated, "I could not describe any single one of them in detail, but they all are vaguely yet strongly erotic in nature, and then always turn quite horrifying in the end. The cast of characters seems to come from all over the map. Last night one included, as I remember, Logan, her high school boyfriend, another high school boy to which they were both attracted, herself, Dr. Mengele, and Sylvia Lipchitz."
There was a pause.
"You know Sylvia?
"She designed me a new suit," Erik explained. "But that really isn't relevant."
"Then why was she in your dream?" Charles pondered.
"Because she looks sexy in a purple vinyl dress that shows too many of her attributes to be decent, Charles. I told you these things are erotic nightmares. I've temporarily, (I pray) absorbed little Marie's teenage hormonal angst -- which is, not surprisingly, in her circumstances, undercut with an extreme level of guilt. It is probably made worse for me here and now because of the fact that my present physical situation looks and feels so much like a comic-book metaphor for her internal state."
"And you are afraid that if she comes here while you are in this state, you will find yourself...how shall I put it...growing attached to her?"
"That ship has sailed, Charles." He sighed. "What I fear, and I hope I am wrong, is that she might eventually get attached to me."
"I don't see why that would bother you, Erik. She is a nice girl, whatever you say, and having a pretty young girl like that with a crush on you can't hurt you. In fact it might help. It seems to have done wonders for Logan." Charles smiled.
"You don't think it's a bit ICKY?" Magneto asked.
"Icky?" Xavier looked askance, as much at the choice of word, as the concept.
"It's one of her words, rattling around my brain, but it seems to fit. I just find the notion of having any sort of thoughts of an amorous nature towards a girl that young quite embarrassing, and the idea of her returning those thoughts pathetic, ridiculous, and depraved."
"Your latest inamorata, Erik, is hardly an antique."
"Raven is almost twice Rogue's age, and was my right arm in the Brotherhood." Erik got defensive. "She told me that every one of her past lovers had wanted her to change her appearance before making love. It seemed easier to convince her she was beautiful by demonstrating that I thought she was, than by arguing with her endlessly about it. As soon as she finds someone else who feels the same way, she will probably ditch me. Perhaps she already has."
"I still don't see that you could do Marie any real harm, while you are stuck in this prison. And it might do you both good." Charles warmed to the comforting notion of two troubled souls working out their problems by helping one another. He couldn't help radiating warmth in happy psi waves.
"Oh, cut it, Charles." Erik sighed. "Do you seriously want Rogue to end up with someone like me? I mean, don't you find that just a bit kinky?"
"I don't mean for you to marry her, Erik. Just talk to her, help her with this touch business, since she can't hurt you. Is that unreasonable?"
"It would be both embarrassing and uncomfortable."
"I cannot believe that you, of all people, can tell me that you refuse to help a fellow mutant, who needs you, simply because it would be uncomfortable. Surely after what you put that child through, you owe it to her to help her."
Oh God, Erik thought, it's Charles the Yenta again. I'm doomed.
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