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Evolution Of Friends

By JessicaX

Drama / Action

Chapter One

EvF:START

X-Men are a registered trademark of Marvel. The X-Men: Evolution characters are property of Marvel, too. In fact, there aren't even any fan characters in this, so all of everything is copyrighted to Marvel. Well, except one mutant codename, but the character it belongs to is Marvel's. So there. All hail Marvel.

PG-13 for profanity, mild violence and occasional suggestive dialogue.

CAUTIONS: I realise most of you won't need to be told this, but there are those select few who can't seem to grasp such things, so I'm going to spell it out for them: This is an AU fic. There will be things you know and remember happening in the series, and things you'll see and cry out "BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SUCHANDSUCH YOU HARLOT!1" This is your warning: IT'S AN AU FIC. THINGS WILL NOT BE THE SAME. I HAVE CHANGED THINGS BECAUSE I WANTED TO. Don't flame, or you'll just burn yourself.

I'm sorry if I come off as a bit tweaky, but I've been up far too long, and... yes, I've been drinking tea, again. No, it's not the herbal... IT'S CHAI, OKAY? There, you've gone and twisted my arm and forced me to admit my addiction. I am chai's bitch.

FOREWORD: All that taken care of, I hope you enjoy my foray into the X-Men fandom! Technically, rather than an AU fic, it's more of a "What if?" scenario I had a bit too much fun with. I also realize it's been done before by other authors after a fashion, but then... well, everything under the sun's been done one way or the other, so all that's left is doing the old things in new ways, eh? You'll probably see what I mean soon enough. But I do go on so...

FAIR WARNING, a lot of dialogue is borrowed from the TV series and interwoven with my own story. I was new at fic writing and used that as a crutch a lot.

•••••••••INITIATE PROLOGUE

Reminiscing.

"I'm open, Risty!"

Maybe it is kinda weird, but I catch myself doing it all the time. I always wonder how things would've turned out if I'd hesitated, or just plain didn't feel like playing that day. Y'know... if I'd kept my mouth shut.

"It's comin' t' you, luv!"

I mean, maybe it woulda happened later anyway, a different way and a different time. Maybe the fact that it happened that day at that time wasn't important. But what if...

"Damn, my shoelace..."

Even after so long, I try and reflect on those days in great detail every so often; to think about exactly how it happened. How lucky I am. How if it had never happened at all, my life would be so different... and how much I would hate that. How if I could go back and do it all over again...

"Rogue, look sharp! ROGUE-!"

...I probably would've hollered just as loud.

Evolution of Friendsby Jessica X

•Chapter One•

"Oh my God, Rogue!" Risty Wilde cried, sprinting over the gymnasium floor faster than I'd ever seen her move, violet tresses fluttering to the right of her head. "Blimey, are you alright?"

I finally lifted a gloved hand from my face. Sure enough, blood was running down it, staining the sleeve of my gray sweatshirt.

"Dear God..." Her face went slightly pale.

"Relax," I said - my voice sounded a little funny. "Hurts like hellfire, but I think that's the gist of the damage." A tear still decided to roll down my cheek.

"Oh, good," she said, putting her hand on my shoulder. A moment later, she slapped me upside the head. "What the hell were you daydreamin' about, ya bloody git?"

I couldn't help but laugh. "Ya got the 'bloody' part right..."

She shook her head and chuckled. "Only you could take a basketball in the conk and still manage a smile. C'mon, let's get you to the locker room."

She pulled me to my feet and held me steady as we made our way to the showers, Risty shouting "ONE SIDE!" to my concerned classmates. "Here," she soothed, handing me a few cold, wet paper towels. A crowd of onlookers was forming at the doorway. "We're not selling tickets!" she shouted.

"It's okay, Risty," I said, dabbing at my throbbing nose. "It's just a nosebleed."

"Sorry, luv." She gently rubbed my shoulder. "You sure you're alright?"

"Yeah, but I'll look like a train wreck for a while."

"Oh, come off it, can't be that bad... lemme see." She reached for my face.

Suddenly my eyes flew open. "RISTY-"

Her hand jerked back. "What, what?" I sat there blinking at her for what seemed like hours, but was probably only a few seconds. "What is it, Rogue?"

"N-nothing." I touched a hand to my cheek. "It's nothing, sorry."

Her features relaxed as her panic subsided. "Oh, I guess you didn't want me to bump your nose." She laughed nervously. "Sorry 'bout that."

I nodded dumbly.

"Everything alright in here?"

"Fine, Coach Lazenby," Risty called brightly. "Maybe she should see the nurse, though."

"Go ahead, grab a pass." Having settled that matter, Coach ducked her head back out.

"Feel better, okay, girl?" She gave me a quick hug, then ran back into the gym, pausing at the door to glance back at me again.

I stumbled toward the coach's office in a daze. Was my mind playing tricks on me?

••••••••••••••••••X••••••••••••••••••

"Hey, Kitty! Here's your math book. Thanks again, by the way."

Kitty Pryde looked up from her reading and beamed at the tall boy in red sunglasses holding it out to her. "Sure, no problem," she said, taking it.

"Oh, Rogue," Scott Summers continued, leaning against our bedroom's door jamb. "Mr. Ryan asked me to pass along your homework assignment."

I sat up, drawing my knees under my chin. I really just wanted to be alone to think. "K."

"It's... chapter 7. Answer questions 1-4."

"K."

I could see them exchange a glance out of the corner of my eye. Kitty set the math book on the desk.

"You okay?" Scott asked.

"Yeah, fine."

"Well, other than the nose," Kitty put in.

I laughed halfheartedly. "Yeah, it doesn't really hurt anymore."

"Bet you wish you could just brush Logan real fast," she continued. "Heal it the easy way."

"Right." I was staring out the window, no longer paying much attention.

Scott's eyebrow raised above those shades of his. "Alright, Rogue," he said, folding his arms, "we'll bite. What's wrong?"

"I said nothing." I was getting irritated, even though I knew they were just trying to help.

"Don't make me go get Jean."

"Hey, you keep her outta this," I said, tapping my forehead. "That's all I need."

"C'mon, he was just kidding."

"Half-kidding." He put his hands in his pockets.

"Alright, God," I sighed, turning to face them, hanging my legs off the edge of my bed. "If I tell you guys, will you keep Jean outta my head?"

"Duh!" Kitty spun her chair around, eager for the gossip.

"And the Professor?"

"We promise," Scott said, holding up his hands.

"SPILL!"

I hesitated, took a deep breath, then plunged forward. "Today, in gym class... somebody... touched me."

"Omigosh, are they okay?" Kitty asked, leaning in.

"Yeah, fine. That's just it: nothing happened."

They both blinked. "So," Scott said slowly, "no... power-sucking?"

"Not even a tingle." I scratched my head. "I don't get it, what's up with me?"

Kitty hesitantly reached toward me and placed her finger on my chin. Immediately, I felt the all-too-familiar surge of energy course through my veins. She jerked her hand back, and we were both breathing pretty hard.

"Rogue," Scott said with a slight tinge of amusement, "your butt's halfway through the bed."

He was right; I'd grifted just enough of Kitty's "ghosting" power to manage to lose my backside. "Guess that means I still got it."

"Uh, yeah," Kitty panted.

"Then what happened?" I asked, trying to extract my rear end from the mattress. "Did my powers just... wink out for a minute or somethin'?"

"Maybe it had something to do with the bloody nose," Kitty suggested. "Like, maybe pain cancels out your powers?"

"Or it could've been who touched you." Scott sat down on the other end of the bed, one hand on his chin thoughtfully. And yeah, even though I shoulda been focused on breaking free of my own boxsprings, I couldn't suppress the tiny flutter in my heart. Scott Summers was sitting on my bed! How amazing was this? But I couldn't let him know how much that affected me. "Was it another mutant?"

"N-no." Here's where I finally succeeded in pulling my ass back into solid space with the wispy residuals of Kitty's power. "It was just Risty."

"Maybe we should go back on our promise and call the Prof in," Scott said, pushing his shades up. "This is serious."

"But-"

"Rogue, what if your powers start going ballistic?" Kitty interrupted. "Like, you start absorbing people you're not even touching!"

I frowned, suddenly annoyed that she was there. Why couldn't Scott and I have a minute alone? "Very funny, Shadowcat."

"I'm serious!" she pouted. "Remember when Jean-"

"All right," Scott cut in, standing. "We'll keep a lid on it... for now. Maybe it was a one-time fluke and it's nothing to worry about. Sunspots, or something like that." He looked right at me, and I'm sure if I could've seen through those ruby-quartz lenses, his gaze would've been just as piercing as his optic blasts. "If anything like this happens again, let us know, okay?"

I rolled my eyes. Scott Summers was a pretty cool guy – and between you and me, blazin' hot - but sometimes he could be a little too... intense. "I'll keep you in the loop."

Scott waved and headed out the door.

"So, um, when did Risty touch you?"

I smiled. "Right after she nailed me in the schnozz."

"I knew it, it was the pain!" Kitty shouted triumphantly. "So she was helping you and stuff?"

"Yeah. She touched my face in the locker room to get a better look at her handiwork." I scratched my arm absentmindedly. "It felt funny..."

She knitted her eyebrows. It's strange, but she really does look like a kitten when she does that. "Like how?"

"Well, it's been a long time since somebody touched me without the 'zap'. Since I got my powers."

"Since they awakened, you mean."

I flopped back on my bed. "To-may-to, to-mah-to."

Kitty went back to her homework, and I went back to wondering. Why didn't Risty get a jolt when she touched me? Why wasn't I still swimming in her memories - why didn't I get them at all? It didn't add up. She didn't have any special powers or anything to counteract my absorption; she was just British. Maybe there's something in the Manchester water...

Now I was being silly. I needed a soda.

••••••••••••••••••X••••••••••••••••••

I got all bloodied up on a Friday, and by the following Monday I'd forgotten all about Risty touching me. That is, until I saw her, anyway. She was digging in her locker for something, oblivious to the world.

Okay, it probably wasn't very nice of me, but I suddenly decided to test my theory that Risty was immune to my deadly touch. I nonchalantly removed my leather gloves and tucked them in my back pocket. Then, slowly, quietly, I walked up behind her, reaching for her neck with my fingers...

Contact. Nothing.

Well, not exactly nothing; I mean, Risty jumped out of her skin, her cranium making a very audible BANG on the ceiling of her locker.

"What th'- Dammit, Rogue, you scared the bloody hell outta me!" She punched me in the arm, hard enough to let me know she wasn't that pissed.

"Sorry," I laughed, trying not to let on how mystified I was. "What ya huntin' for?"

"My geometry book," she said distractedly, turning her attention back to the locker. "I need it for next period."

"You mean this one?" I said, pointing to one of the books in her arm. When she finally realized what I was trying to point out, she squeezed her eyes shut.

"Christ, I'm a scatterbrain." She slammed the door, laughing. "I... really can't believe I did that."

"Don't sweat it, we all have off-days."

"Speaking of 'off', I'd better be!" she said, pelting down the hall. "Chat later, luv!"

"Later!" Lost in thought, I wandered in the general direction of health class.

"Hey, Rogue!"

I looked up to see Jean Grey waving at me. I was instantly on edge. Me and the future Phoenix never were very close; I guess we just got off on the wrong foot. That, and we both started liking Scott around the same time, which took us beyond passive dislike to budding rivals. I resented her for having a better shot at him than me, what with being able to touch him and all.

I suddenly had a deliciously evil idea. Why not test my powers on her?

I waved as I said "What's up?", then left my hand there, trying for a high-five. Sure enough, she held out her hand on instinct - I mean, most people would, right? I slapped it, and got a minuscule trickle of Jean's thoughts and energy.

"Ouch!" She yanked her hand back. "Rogue, what... why did you trick me like that?"

I smiled innocently. "Sorry, forgot my gloves weren't on. See ya later!"

She just looked at me funny for a moment. "Uh, yeah." I knew she was thinking 'What's up with HER today?', due to my tiny nip of her own telepathic powers.

Any other day, playing a cruel-but-harmless prank like that on Jean would've had me rolling - I'm kind of ashamed of that now, but it's the truth. Not today, though... I was too preoccupied with the results. I'd been in contact with Jean's hand much less time than with Risty's neck, yet my powers had worked. There had to be something about Risty.

I ducked into the girls' room. The thoughts of the kids in the hallway were bouncing around in my head, and I needed some isolation until the mind-reading power faded.

••••••••••••••••••X••••••••••••••••••

Over the next few days, I tried draining my best friend's life force at least a dozen times. I even tried concentrating, thinking she might just have thicker skin or something; didn't make a bit of difference. I hate to say it like that - it makes it sound like I wanted to knock her flat on her ass - but I was just trying to figure it out, I had to know! I mentioned none of this to the others, but I was about ready to tell Kitty, at least. I mean, maybe Risty was a mutant and she just didn't know... or didn't want anyone else to.

It was another Friday. We were in the food court at the mall, splitting an order of cheese fries. I'd pretty much given up on my powers working on her; she was obviously immune to my poison touch, and I was starting to get used to it. I was still gonna talk to Scott or Kitty, but it didn't bother me anymore - it was actually kinda nice. Risty, for her part, seemed to think I was just getting less withdrawn.

"I said, do you want anything?"

I blinked. "Huh?"

Risty cocked her head to the side, her purple hair falling in her eyes. "Rogue, you're acting a bit off. You okay?"

"Yeah, sorry... my mind just wandered off without me for a sec. What were you saying?"

"I was saying I'm gonna replenish my Coke. Do you want anything?"

"Yeah, get me one, too," I said, handing over my cup. "Mountain Dew."

"Dew, gotcha." She trotted off toward Dairy Queen.

I was twirling a cheddar-coated fry, staring at it as if it held all the answers, when Kitty strolled over, complete with an over-abundance of bags from at least a half-dozen stores.

"Hey, Rogue! What's new?"

"Well-"

"Ooh, hang on, let me get a smoothie, k?" And off she bounced. Two seconds later, Risty was back with the drinks.

"Here you are, luv. So, what'd I miss?"

I laughed. "Me pondering the awesome might of the cheese fry. Oh, and Kitty said 'hi'."

"Mint," she said drily, playing with her straw. A few quiet moments passed like that before she looked up at me, a funny look on her face. "Rogue..."

"Yeah?"

"Ever had... a secret, that you wanted to tell someone, but... but you didn't know if it was the best idea?"

I dropped my fry, complete with cheddar, narrowly missing my new shirt. Was this it? Was she about to tell me she was another mutant, or whatever? But I didn't know that for sure, so I had to play the guessing game coyly.

"You mean, like... a crush?"

She hesitated a moment. "Something like that..."

"Oooooh, does Risty like somebody?"

I glanced over my shoulder. "God, Kitty, you're so nosy."

"What?" She frowned, taking a sip of her reddish frozen treat. "I'm just asking..."

"You know what they say about curiosity and kitties..."

"Oops!" Risty said, looking up from her watch. "Where has the time gone? I've got scads of homework..." She stood, grabbing her drink. "You can polish off the chips if you like."

"Thanks. Hey, talk later, right?"

"Groovy. Tee-tee-eff-enn, mate!" She kinda hesitated, half-nervous and half-frantic, then gave a little wave before running off at full tilt.

"Good job, Kitty."

"Whaaat? What'd I do?"

"I think she was gonna tell me..."

"Yeah, I heard the beginnings of something juicy, there." Oh, something had to be done to wipe that stupid, excited smirk off her face... permanently, if possible.

"No, Kitty..." I gave her a meaningful stare - over-exaggerated specifically for Kitty's airy head. Thank God she got it, and her eyes widened.

"You mean about her anti-Rogue power thingy?" She frowned, plopping down in the now-empty seat. "I'm sorry, really, I didn't-"

"Oh, I know." I picked up one of the "chips," then put it back. "It's just so frustrating; I keep trying to use my power on her, over and over... and nothing. It doesn't make any sense." I lowered my voice. "I think she is one of us."

"For sure... I mean, how else could she trump you like that?"

"I'm gonna go back to the mansion. See ya..." Before she could stop me, I was up and moving fast. I wasn't sure if I was chasing after Risty in vain, or if I wanted to be alone. It was just time to go.

"Hey, wait!" she shouted after me. "What about your fries?"

••••••••••••••••••X••••••••••••••••••END CH I

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