Author's Chapter Notes:
Some unpleasant truths are revealed.
1. make (something) visible by uncovering it.
2. reveal the true, objectionable nature of (someone or something).

I gotta hand it to Jubilee, this little "Muffin of Immunity" exercise is entertaining, if nothing else. I've learned some pretty interesting things about my team mates, though it's a shame that we have to button our lips about it after this is over. I've learned that Hank has an extensive porcelain doll collection, Kurt once tried to wear makeup so that he could have a 'normal' skin color, and Jean sometimes uses her powers to cheat at board games because she can't stand to lose. Scott pees in the shower. Bobby is afraid of snakes. Kitty has phased into the men's shower and has seen each of us naked--though she swears up and down that it was an accident. Storm admitted that she sometimes will purposely cause the sky to crack with thunder whenever she has gas so that no one can hear her break wind. Seriously, I can't make this stuff up.

After a few rounds of silly admissions and good natured ribbing, people have started opening up more for real, though. The tone has eventually shifted from funny to more serious and emotionally revealing with each passing round; and as each one has allowed themselves to be a little more vulnerable, so has Rogue.

I can tell that she's working up the courage to tell everyone about Carol. If we all keep this up, she just might talk. It will be a huge step for her. She shifts nervously in her seat; Scott is up, and then it's her turn.

"...I'm worried that I won't be a good father," Scott admits, his shoulders slumped. Everyone rushes to reassure him, patting him on the back and telling him how amazing of a father he is already.

"Don't worry Scott; you are going to be an awesome father," Jubilee says confidently. "Besides, it takes a village to raise a child, and you know this child is going to have the best village in the world--the X-team."

Scott nods, somewhat relieved. "Thanks, guys."

"Rogue, your turn!" Jubilee smiles.
Rogue looks up apprehensively. "Oh. Is it my turn already? I...I don't know what to say."

"Dear, I remember you were going to tell us about your mutation earlier," Storm reminds her with a kind smile.

"Maybe you could tell us more, if you're ready."

"Oh...right. Well, yeah...ok," Rogue fumbles with her words. "I'm sure you're all wondering what happened in the Danger Room yesterday...and it does relate to my mutation."

Touching her back, I give her a reassuring look. She takes a breath and nods. "Ok... so you all know about my skin, right? And you remember how I said that I wasn't born with the mutation that would allow me to fly and have super strength?"

"Yes, you said that you somehow 'acquired' these secondary mutations," says Hank, "rather than developing them."

"Yes--that's true. I acquired them." Rogue fidgets with the fingers of her gloves, picking at the fabric. "I acquired them because...I have the ability to absorb other mutant's powers through touch."

She stares at her lap without glancing up, waiting for the reaction.

"Cool!" Jubilee breathes, her voice laced with awe.

"Fascinating," says Hank, amidst several murmurs of excitement around the table. "You are able to absorb another mutant's powers and use them as your own?"

"Um, yeah," answers Rogue, looking somewhat hopeful after the positive reaction.

"Fascinating," Hank says again.

"You mean, you could suddenly be able to teleport, like me?" asks Kurt.

"Or turn to steel, like me?" Piotr knocks on his chest.

"Um...yeah. Anything you can do, I can do," answers Rogue.

"Fantastic!" Kurt says in wonder.

"Why didn't you tell us this before, Rogue?" Scott asks. "This sounds like a very useful mutation."

"Indeed, the possible applications of this mutation are limitless," Hank adds. "Just think of it. If one of us were injured on a mission, you could borrow our powers and be a kind of substitute."

Out of the corner of my eye, I notice Rogue bristle at his words. Hank is caught up in his excitement, oblivious to her reaction.

"Or you could borrow powers from several mutants," he continues, "and be one woman army of sorts! You could--"

"She could," I interrupt, "but it's not that simple. Absorbing another mutant's powers come at a price...for both Rogue and the other person."

"Oh...I see. There are side effects to using your powers, then," says Hank.

"Yes...unfortunately." Rogue slumps a little in her seat. "It's not all it's cracked up to be. Along with the powers, I absorb a person's memories and sometimes even personality traits. Sometimes when I first absorb someone, I can't tell which memories are mine and which are theirs. It really messes with my head. Worst of all," she winces a little, "when I touch people, I take some of their life force."

"Life force?" Jubilee says, tilting her head. "As in, you suck out some of their life?"

"Jubilee," Storm chides her. "Try to be a little more sensitive in the way you phrase your questions."

"I'm sorry, Roguey--I didn't mean it like that." Jubilee ducks her head apologetically.

"It's ok," Rogue replies, looking uncomfortable. "But yeah. That's pretty much what happens. Let's put it this way; the first boy I ever kissed ended up in a coma for three weeks."

"Whoah," Jubilee utters.

"I can still feel him in my head. He's just an echo now; that's what happens to the people I absorb. They kind of fade after a while. But if I hold onto a person long enough..." Rogue trails off.

The table goes quiet; a few people exchange worried glances. Jean is the first to break the silence.

"Rogue...if you hold on to a person long enough, they don't fade away, do they?"

Rogue looks down dejectedly and shakes her head no.

"They die, and you retain them in your mind, that what happens?"

Rogue nods slowly.

Jean gives her a sympathetic look. "I'm so sorry to hear that, honey. That can't be easy to deal with."

"I understand why you are reluctant to use your powers," Hank says solemnly.

"Wait, does that explain why you were acting so strange in the danger room?" asks Bobby. "That wasn't you yelling at us then. That was a person you absorbed."

Rogue meets his gaze, her expression unapologetic. "Yes, Bobby. That was my friend Carol you met; she's like a big sister to me. After you left me to fight that sentinel alone and I got hurt," she says calmly as Bobby flinches, "she got a little pissed...and Carol doesn't mince words."

"I'm sorry," Bobby mumbles, his eyes downcast. "I don't know what else to say. It was a gut reaction when Kitty got hurt."

Rogue remains silent, and I put my arms around her.

"So...Carol, huh?" Jubilee pipes up. "Sounds like a pretty good friend to stick up for you like that." She smiles at Rogue encouragingly.

"The best," Rogue says softly. She sighs and bows her head. "I feel so bad that she has to live inside my head like this."

"She's living in your mind? Like, forever?"

"As far as can tell, yes...permanently," answers Rogue.

Storm reaches out and places her hand on Rogue's sleeved arm. "Poor dear, you must have been devastated when you accidentally touched her." She looks at Rogue, waiting for an answer. Rogue lifts her eyes to Storm, but remains silent. "Rogue?" Confusion crosses her face when she receives no answer.

"Of course she was devastated," Jubilee says quickly. "She was Rogue's friend. That had to have been traumatic to have such a terrible accident. Right, Roguey?"

"Yes, it was absolutely devastating." Rogue looks at her, hesitating to say more.

"But it wasn't an accident...was it?" Storm's eyes are stricken with realization. Kitty gasps, and Jean looks at Scott, shock written on her face. Storm looks down at her hand on Rogue's arm, withdrawing it quietly.

Rogue's eyes follow the movement of Storm's hand, and she looks up, hurt.

"I...I don't understand," Jubilee stutters. "Why would you...she was your friend."

Rogue's mouth opens, but no sound comes out. "I had no choice," she finally chokes out.

"You always have a choice," Bobby says, putting his arm around Kitty and pulling her close.

Rogue throws him a dirty look. "You have no right to judge me, Bobby."

"We're trying not to," says Kitty timidly, "but you killed your friend, Rogue. That' do we know you wouldn't do the same to one of us if you were in a pinch?"

Rogue sucks in a breath. "I wouldn't!"

Kurt looks at Piotr and stands up, motioning with his hands for everyone to calm down. "Let us not be too hasty to pass judgement, my friends. Remember the Muffin of Immunity."

"I don't think the muffin is supposed to cover something like this," Bobby mutters.

"Watch your mouth, Ice Prick," I growl at him. "You lookin' to have your guts spilled?"

"Alright, that's enough," orders Scott. "I think it's best if we all take a step back for a moment; things are getting a little too emotionally charged."

Everyone sits in uncomfortable silence. Rogue looks like she's ready to bolt again.

"Let's focus on the logistics of Rogue's mutation, and how it can be used to benefit the team. Hank, can't you help her find some way to use her ability to absorb powers, without all the adverse effects?" says Scott.

Hank clears his throat. "I don't know," he says thoughtfully. "I would certainly like to try. This is such a unique mutation, with incredible possibilities. I would love to try some experiments."

Rogue's eyes snap to Hank, and immediately I can almost feel the hair standing up on her neck.

"Perhaps the Professor could help her," Jean says.

"Jean's right," says Scott. "The Professor will definitely want to hear about this. He's helped a lot of mutants control their powers so that they can live up to their fullest potential."

"Maybe I don't want his help," Rogue says acidly. She stands up to leave. I rise, placing my hand on her arm, and she shakes me off. "I think you people need decide: Am I an asset, or a liability? Family, or--" she looks around, her eyes fierce. "Friend-killer."

With her words hanging in the air, she spins on her heel and storms away without looking back.

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