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What If I Stumble?

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Summary: As Marie walks the line between good and evil… the front lines and the sidelines… not even she knows where she'll eventually end up. Holiday fic-a-thon response for TubbsMcGee.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Fred/Illyria-Centered(Moderator)JoeHundredaireFR181949,5971212944,22921 Dec 0724 Jan 08Yes

Chapter One

Title: What If I Stumble?
Author: JoeHundredaire (
Rating: R/FR18.
Pairings: Marie D'Ancanto (Rogue)/Illyria
Disclaimer: Stan Lee created the original X-Men, assorted other people created the newer characters, I'm sure Marvel holds most of the rights and 21st Century Fox fits in there somewhere too. Someone who's not me (but may be Joss Whedon) owns Buffy. DC belongs to the Warner Brother parent company, I presume, and Heroes belongs to Tim Kring and his people. Not mine, at any rate.
Summary: As Marie walks the line between good and evil… the front lines and the sidelines… not even she knows where she'll eventually end up.
Joe's Note: Long story short, since I'm on a time limit for the fic-a-thon and my Specialist muse wandered off, Demona agreed to let me do a replacement fic for TubbsMcGee. Hopefully this will cooperate or my other muse will come back to visit… I don't particularly care which as long as TMG gets his fic-a-thon fic. Let's try this again, eh?

'What if I stumble? What if I fall?
What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue, when my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble, and what if I fall?'

     Marie D'Ancanto scowled as she watched Bobby Drake and Kitty Pryde out on the dance floor. Why did she subject herself to this? Looking around the club, Marie sighed. She wasn't sure which part was more masochistic of her: coming out to somewhere with all of these people who could touch each other without fear, or coming with her ex-boyfriend and the slut who'd stolen him from her.

     Although, to be fair, Bobby had been awful willing to be stolen from her.

     It was to be expected, though. Every shakeup in her love life came down to a kiss. Cody had gone into a coma when they first kissed. Bobby had gotten over her taking the Cure the first time they kissed. Bobby had broken up with her when said Cure turned out to be not as permanent as advertised and another kiss had landed him in Dr. McCoy's lab. Kitty had been there when he wanted someone non-lethal to kiss.

     Picking up her glass, Marie swirled it and watched the pale brown Bailey's slosh against the sides, creating a thing brown film as it clung to the glass for a few seconds. Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. It was a marvelous invention, in her none-too-humble opinion.

     Lifting it to her lips, Marie drained the contents in one long pull. Ah yes, this was why she subjected herself to clubs. Booze. Not that it worked too well. Logan giving her his ability atop the Statue of Liberty to save her life had left her with a slightly faster-than-human healing ability. Nothing useful in battle, of course. That would be too convenient. No, there was just enough of Logan running around in her system to ensure it was difficult and expensive for her to get drunk.

     "Would you like another serving of the alcohol of your choice?" Marie looked up from her glass, ready to shoot down yet another guy who didn't seem to get that she was sulking in a shadowy corner for a reason, but found herself staring instead. For the first time outside the school, she was face to face with a visible mutant. The young woman had icy blue eyes that matched patches of blue skin along her hairline, and her brown hair was shot with streaks of the same blue. "I did not think such a question would be that difficult to answer…"

     Marie went to shake her head before changing her mind and nodding slowly. After all, she had almost depleted this trip's 'get sloshed' fund - one more drink and she'd have to start dipping into the money she'd set aside to pick up new leggings next week at the mall - Bobby was still busy inspecting Kitty's tonsils with his tongue, and as much as she wanted to leave, she wasn't really in the mood to head home yet either. So it was either sit here and get increasingly sober, go home, or accept this girl's hospitality. Why not? "Mint chocolate Bailey's, on the rocks."

     Nodding, the woman turned and retreated back towards the bar. Watching her leave, Marie realized the unnamed woman had probably sought her out because Marie was the only other person in the club who shared her love for the color black. In her case, it was practicality: she had to layer to protect people from her powers and she never had to worry about mismatched shades if everything was black. Tonight, she'd gone out in a black t-shirt over a black long-sleeve top, black opera gloves, black jeans, and black combat boots.

     Her newfound drinking buddy had forgone the long-sleeved shirt underlayer that was a necessity in Marie's case, but was wearing a black t-shirt as well, combined with a pleated black skirt and knee-high black boots with thick soles. Idly, Marie wondered why she hadn't dyed her brown hair black as well; it would have gone with her look and made the blue streaks stand out even better.

     After a minute at the bar, the woman was on her way back with a drink in each hand. Sliding around the table a bit so she could keep an eye on Bobby and Kitty, Marie patted a spot in the booth next to her. "Thank you. Here is the drink you requested. My name is Illyria. What is yours?"

     Illyria? With no last name? That certainly sounded like a mut… post-human form of address to Marie. And Illyria's way of speaking was a bit odd… almost like Professor McCoy's more formal way of speaking. But Illyria looked too young to be a stuffy doctor. Maybe English wasn't her first language and so she spoke like whatever textbook she'd used to learn it, like Professor Wagner? Eh, not that big a deal. Marie extended a hand to her. "Call me Rogue."

     Glancing down at the hand for a moment, Illyria looked up and raised an eyebrow. "Aren't you uncomfortable wearing long sleeves and gloves in a place as warm as this?"

     "I… need them." Illyria's other eyebrow went up and Marie wiggled her fingers. "My mutant power. I can suck the life out of living beings when I touch their skin. S'why I'm wearing all these clothes even though it's warm in here. I can't let people touch me."

     Illyria let out a snort at that, reaching over to tug at the glove. "I doubt anyone else would have approached such an unfriendly looking girl, and my presence lowers those odds even further. I believe you are safe from human contact." Marie was about to rebut that Illyria still counted, when she felt warm fingers brush over the inside of her wrist. The touch disappeared quickly as Illyria continued to wrestle the glove off and then the blue-tinged woman took Marie's hand in hers. She waited for the inevitable…

     And waited…

     And waited…

     "Do not presume me to be an idiot, Rogue. I know exactly who you are and what you're capable of. Your role in the Liberty Island Incident has earned you a position of considerable notoriety within the mutant community. I wouldn't have touched you if I thought your ability would affect me." Illyria took Marie's hand, guiding it to press against her bare forearm and then sliding it up and down gently to prove it wasn't a fluke. The whole time, Marie felt absolutely nothing save for the heat radiating from the woman's skin and a faint pulsing of veins.

     Eyes wide, Marie ripped her other glove off and pressed her hand to Illyria's other forearm. For the first time in months, she could feel heat… life… when she touched a person, and not immediately have to flinch back out of fear. "Is this your mutation or something? You're a living dead girl?"

     Illyria's lips quirked upward slightly as she pulled one arm out of Marie's grasp, reaching for her drink. "Something along those lines." Marie's fingers continued to roam over Illyria's unoccupied arm and as soon as she was put her glass back on the table, the brunette presented both hands for Marie's exploration. "I desire to know more about you, other than that you sit in a corner and attempt to get drunk because you cannot touch other people."

     "Well, I'm not sitting here getting drunk because I can't touch people. I'm sitting here getting drunk - or trying to, at any rate - because I can't touch people and so the person I wanted to touch decided to start touching someone else." Marie nodded at where Kitty and Bobby were dancing and Illyria let out soft hum to show her comprehension. "We're not allowed out alone because people are still freaking out after what Magneto did to Alcatraz, so I get to pick between getting drunk watching them or getting drunk with the happy couple's friends who don't even really like me and would only be letting me come because they're afraid my adoptive father figure is going to hurt them."

     "The former seemed like a better idea to you?"

     "Well yeah. They leave me to wallow in self-pity. The others… yeah. Let's just say I'd rather be in this situation and leave it at that." Deciding to veer off that topic and into safer waters, Marie pondered what to tell Illyria about her life. How did she say anything approaching the truth and not come off sounding hideously boring? She couldn't. "As for me… not much to know. I go to school, I go to school, I try to find a way to control my powers so I'm not a cancer on society, and I like to go swimming, even if it means the entire pool at the school empties out because they see me coming." Marie frowned. Yeah, her hobbies made her sound downright pathetic. "Oh, and I read a lot." And lo and behold, she somehow managed to make it even worse. Sigh.

     The response made her wonder if Illyria's powers included telepathy, too. "There is nothing wrong with reading. I find reading to be quite enjoyable, although I prefer math and physics research to prose. I do make an exception for some science fiction. No horror or supernatural fiction, though." Illyria took another sip of what Marie recognized by smell as Jack and Coke. "Were you aware that vampires and demons are real?"

     Marie paused in her inspection of Illyria's slightly blue-tinged fingertips and looked over at the other woman. "You're kidding, right?"

     "I kid you not. I have met many score vampires and numerous demons of dozens of species, and have killed a number of both as well. After dealing with the real thing on a regular basis, reading about Anita Blake's necrophilia and metaphysics-induced nymphomania holds no appeal for me, nor does Anne Rice's drivel." Illyria paused and pulled one hand out of Marie's grasp so she could take a long sip from her glass. Then another. The silence stretched out for a minute or so as Illyria finished off her drink before setting the glass down and nodding toward the dance floor. "I have never danced like that before. Would you be willing to instruct me?"

     Did she want to? Yes. It'd been forever since she'd gotten to dance somewhere other than alone in her room. Should she? Probably not. Then again, she probably shouldn't be drinking with, talking to, or touching random mutants she barely knew. Marie smirked and knocked back her second drink in ten minutes before sliding out of the booth. Tonight was all for things she shouldn't be doing, evidently. "Sure, why not."

     Illyria slid out behind Marie, looking her up and down before frowning. "You are not dressed properly for being out there, though." Gripping one sleeve of Marie's long-sleeved top, she yanked sharply, tearing it off at about the same length as the sleeves from her t-shirt. Depositing the fabric on the table, she gently turned Marie and did the same for the other sleeve. "That is sufficient for the time being."

     Rubbing her now bare arms, Marie shivered. Funny how much she'd gotten used to her layers of clothing, despite her hatred of it. "But what about the other people? The ones who aren't living dead girls?"

     "There is a simple solution to that." Illyria's fingers ran up and down Marie's arms slowly before she took the brunette's hands in her own. "If you dance close enough to me, I will be able to keep other people from touching you."

     Marie had to give Illyria points for originality; it was a creative pick-up line. But… she opened her mouth to turn the woman down, before pausing. She'd always thought of herself as heterosexual, but in reality she was more asexual. After all, it was a bit hard to be sexual when your partner tended to go into a coma a minute or so into things. So while Illyria wasn't exactly her ideal dance partner, she was better than no dance partner. And the lithe brunette wasn't exactly hard on the eyes, if you were into women.

     Not that she was.

     But hey, it was better than nothing.

     "Sounds like a plan." Illyria's lips quirked up again in the little half-smile and Marie let herself be led out onto the dance floor. Once they got there, Illyria paused and looked at Marie for help. Marie could understand the girl's plight, especially if she was as academically-oriented and sheltered as she seemed. She'd come from a small town in Mississippi and the whole bump 'n grind, vertical sex style of dancing that was popular with people her age had been about as foreign to her as the German foods that Erik's imprint on her mind sometimes had her craving when she first arrived at the mansion.

     And just what the hell was sauerbraten, anyways?

     Still, being left on the sidelines as the untouchable girl had given her plenty of time to watch and she had a thorough grounding in the theoretical aspect of things. How hard could it possibly be? Marie smiled at Illyria before turning and reaching back, grabbing Illyria's hips and pulling the slightly taller woman so they were pressed close together. Illyria's hands settled onto her hips and Marie started to rock back and forth to the beat, eventually bringing her hands forward to rest on Illyria's. "Not so hard, is it?"

     "It is not." After a few minutes, Illyria's hands slid up to Marie's shoulders, and then down her arms to cover them before guiding them to wrap around her waist. Standing there, wrapped in Illyria's embrace as they rocked to the beat, felt both incredibly intimate and protective. "Is this comfortable for you?"

     "Mmm, perfect." Marie's eyes went wide. She'd never, ever managed to make her voice sound that throaty and sexy before. And she'd never thought a woman would be the intended recipient. On the other hand, though, it was true. She'd never gotten to dance like this with Bobby, even when her powers were gone, and she'd never tried it before they manifested. Even if her partner was the wrong gender and a relative stranger, being wrapped tight in warm arms as she rocked her hips back and forth in time to the beat was… perfect, for lack of a better term.

     Man, was her life fucked up or what?

     ♫We have to take our clothes off.
     We have to party all night,
     We have to take our clothes off,
     To have a good time…
     Oh no, no, no…♫

     Kitty knew instantly that something was wrong. Her wonderful night out - well, as wonderful as it could be with her new boyfriend's ex-girlfriend tagging along - came to an abrupt halt as Bobby made like his nickname and froze, staring at something behind her. She could easily guess it most likely had something to do with Rogue. Was the little emo bitch tired of staring at them like a lovesick puppy and finally leaving the club? Turning in Bobby's embrace, Kitty found herself freezing in shock as well.

     Rogue was dancing with another girl. And not in a 'two girls who came together and are dancing because they're friends' sort of way, either.

     As Kitty watched in disbelief, Rogue leaned her head back on the stranger's shoulder as her lips moved. Whatever it was caused the Mississippian to laugh loudly. Kitty was officially weirded out. Rogue never laughed. She was supposed to be all broody and angsty. Was this a sign of the apocalypse? And she'd evidently taken the current song to heart, because Kitty could see two sets of pale, bare arms meaning a certain someone wasn't covered up like she was supposed to be. What was she hoping to accomplish with a stunt like that?

     Kitty discovered it was a bit like a train wreck that fell off a bridge onto a highway and caused a massive pile-up: she really didn't want to stare, but she couldn't seem to look away. The stranger had visible blue bits of skin and hair… maybe she was a mutant with the power to make herself the center of attention? Then again… the way the two were dancing, they would have attracted plenty of male attention without the help of any sort of superhuman power.

     Wait, then what was her excuse?

     As if attracted by her thoughts, a pair of icy blue eyes locked onto hers and one eyebrow rose. Kitty quickly found herself the subject of both Rogue and her dance partner's attentions, and she squirmed. Rogue hadn't been particularly friendly toward her since she started seeing Bobby and the new woman was just… off. She didn't know what or why, but something about her was just… wrong.

     "Are you seeing what I'm seeing? Marie is dancing with another hot girl?" Kitty nodded slowly and looked up to find Bobby grinning like an idiot. "Just checking. Because… that is awesome!" Rolling her eyes, Kitty punched him hard on the arm. "Oww! What?"

     Ugh. Boys! Kitty sighed and looked at Rogue again. The two girls were talking as they stared over at her and Bobby and it made her nervous. Then the stranger reached up and brushed her fingers over Rogue's cheek… her bare fingers. Nothing happened. Rogue didn't turn blue, the Smurfette didn't pass out, nothing. What the hell?

     The air behind Rogue rippled and the Smurfette disappeared for a second before reappearing, holding up a key with a large yellow X keychain dangling from it. Kitty didn't think anything of it until Rogue did likewise. Between the three of them, they'd decided to take two of the mansion's motorcycles for transportation… and now Rogue and her friend had both sets of keys. Crappity crap crap crap, of the deepest, darkest, most chocolatey brown kind.

     At least that seemed to snap Bobby out of his lesbilust-induced catatonia and she heard him running behind her as she rushed toward the exit. But by the time she reached the parking lot, Kitty knew they were screwed. The deep, throaty growls of the mansion's bikes were quite distinctive… and she could hear them receding off into the distance.

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