Wheels of Love
Roleplaying Log: Wheels of Love
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Mystique tracks Rogue down. She wants a word.

Other Characters Referenced: Tabitha Smith, Pietro Maximoff, Wanda Maximoff
IC Date: March 28, 2019
IC Location: The Outskirts of NYC
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 29 Mar 2019 02:44
Rating & Warnings: G
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

People who don't use last names, draw paychecks, use social security numbers, or have bank accounts aren't always the easiest people in the world to find. And if it's known about the Brotherhood that Rogue is living in a certain mansion in upstate New York, that doesn't mean it's a great idea to go clear out there to see her. The security is awfully tight, and relations between the X-Men and the Brotherhood are awfully strained.

But she has a distinctive look, and a code name she doesn't change. Habits that are about the same, and interests. Asking around at various auto parts stores, for example, is a good bet, as is asking anyone on the classic car restoration scene. After a few dead ends Mystique could have easily found some hits that brought her…

Here. To a small garage on the outskirts of New York City, a place called Love on Wheels. For those who must commute, who need cars, the lack of one is crushing. And insurance does not, even now, cover demon or dragon rampages, blown up government buildings that send debris flying everywhere, various and sundry super-power people fights, and…well. The whole host of things that make a lot of the humans 100% behind Registration, really. Those who reach out to Wheels of Love can have their car towed to this location, where they will be taken care of, built and put in good working repair, even if they have to be stripped down to the skeleton and created again from scratch using the vast pile of scrap metal in the back. The proprietor is a tiny black woman named Margie Lanes, full of energy in a shop that is mostly her and volunteers. And if one of her best volunteers is an unregistered mutant, well, it's none of her nevermind, not as long as the mutant is fixing cars instead of breaking them.

For that is how Rogue has been spending a great deal of her time, pursuant to her own suggestions to the X-Men about how they might build some bridges. Fixing the cars of humans (and probably some metas, some people just need to drive) with a good enough sob story.

Right now she's beneath the hood of a 2003 Pontiac Grand Am, removing parts that have been cracked and damaged by the impact of…something. That looks, by the growing pile beside her, like it might well be all of the parts. She's got a radio nearby blaring some country music, and her hair is tied back away from her face. She wears a Wheels of Love blue coverall, work gloves, and a fair amount of grease, which means she's probably, as she would say, 'just about as happy as a clam right about now.'

* * *

Some legwork needs to begin days in advance. Weeks. Sometimes months. This one didn't stretch as far as requiring more than a year, fortunately. Mystique may have that kind of time to spare but she'd question whether Rogue would live longer than the average country girl. Because Rogue is a difficult one to track down the initial recon had been done some time before the fall of the Triskelion, back even before Registration when it was easier for all mutants to move around. The last part had been up to the metamorph but by then it was a matter of putting together the last few pieces.

The country music gives her away in an instant. Few people fit Anna-Marie's physical profile but it's the music itself which gives away her true identity. As for the next step Raven has a few ideas in mind.

The first one starts with an early thirties male with those 'ruggedly handsome' features so many women seem to go for. Blue jeans, Western style boots, flannel shirt, brown leather coat, and the piece de resistance: A topaz blue 1965 Dodge Challenger. The color of a perfect summer sky.

Just don't ask where the car itself had come from.

It doesn't take long for the Dodge to pull up by the garage and shut down. It also doesn't take long for the driver to get out and take a look around while flicking the keys once around an index finger. All he has to do is follow the sound of the music, eventually coming to stand right next to the somewhat greasy girl poking at the Grand Am.

"Well here's someone who looks like she knows what she's doin.' Can I talk atcha for a minute?"

* * *

Rogue doesn't look up at the sound of the car right away; that's a common enough sound, and getting this engine out is giving her some fits. But she does look up at the voice. She takes one of those orange grease cloths all mechanics seem to have and wipes at her face for a moment before stepping over to turn off the stereo. She gives a welcoming enough smile and says, "Sure thing, sugar, what can I do for you?"

Her eyes flick to see the car beside the garage now, and she whistles low. The handsome car is getting about 500% more attention than the handsome man. "Nice wheels," she says. "She still got the original Hemi in her, or did you have to make do with swapping it out for something from a later year?"

* * *

The man can't help but smile proudly, though it just -might- be for some reason other than the attention his car happens to be getting. "She's an original," he offers while looking over his shoulder at the car in question. "Helped my father rebuild her straight up from the chassis. Sad to say he's no longer with us but he left a legacy with that lovely lady. Though I'm afraid she's not aging so well without his delicate touch, y'know? I just helped hand over the tools and throw the bits into the degreaser."

When he turns back to Rogue he acts all embarrassed with ducking his head and rubbing the back of his neck. "Ah, shucks. Where're my manners. Dave Wallace," comes his introduction while holding out a hand. Is Rogue wearing gloves? Will she take the greeting or find an excuse?

"Listen, I was wonderin' if maybe I could take you for a little drive around the block? She's been getting a bit temperamental when up at speed, I could use a pro ridin' shotgun to help me figure out what's goin' on."

* * *

Rogue reaches for the hand and shakes. She is wearing gloves. They're rough and dirty, but she's wearing them. "Nice to meet you, Dave. My name's Rogue."

She steps back, and leans against the frame of the car she'd been working on, tearing her eyes away from the car to settle them on Dave instead. A one-thousand Watt smile, an amused incline of her head.

"I'd be happy to help with her, sugar," she says, "but I reckon I don't get into cars with strangers, not even right comely ones. You wanna take a seat in our lobby and hand me the keys after fillin' out the form so I can run her out and listen, then I'm happy to. Nothing against you. A lady's just gotta watch herself, this day n' age."

And if the casual lean happens to put her right in arm's reach of several different sharp or heavy tools, well, that's just plum coincidence, right?

* * *

Dave continues to wear a smile, though he falls silent for a moment at Rogue's reaction. Somehow his smile only turns into a grin as he stands his ground, arms resting at his hips. He's looking..oddly proud again. "That's my girl," he mutters in a lower croak of a voice.

The man sighs as he glances from one side to the next then, briefly, down to his feet. The coast looks clear. "I'm glad to see you've taken -some- of what I've taught you to heart, Rogue. Survival instinct is a good look on you."

Here he holds both of his hands up, only the car keys hooked around the index finger of his right hand. "I'm not about to force you to take a ride but know that it would mean a lot to me if you did. It's been years since we've had the opportunity to talk and one lesson which you've truly taken to heart is being difficult to track down."

* * *

"Momma…"

Rogue says it softly, with all the smiling armor sliding away for just a moment. It comes, does that voice, with all the conflicting emotions she feels and has been feeling about…well. Everything. She studies this woman who took her in, who consented to being granted the title of Mother even though nothing of legal artifice or blood made it so. Who trained her.

She nods, emerald eyes troubled, and closes the hood of the Grand Am.

"Okay," she says, and she leaves the tools where they are. "Let's take a ride."

She holds up a finger though, because she's not about to get in that perfectly nice car like this. She steps out of her coveralls and peels off her gloves, revealing the long-sleeved button-up green blouse beneath, over a perfectly feminine little yellow cami and slightly distressed jeans. New brown leather gloves replace the nastier ones, and she reaches up to pull up her hairtie and fluff up her hair. One wet wipe packet applied to the face later, and she's ready to go.

She slips into the passenger side of the Challenger despite wanting to drive it just to drive it, adding, "Is she really actin' up at speed?"

* * *

Oh, if only all of her children could be so understanding. Despite the inherent difficulties in tracking them down Mystique is also putting her own neck on the line by being around them. Maybe someday the others would come to realize everything which she's done for them and continues to do for them. But Rogue… She's always been something special. Not simply because she had been the adopted one. She was the one child that Raven had ever truly felt a proper familial connection with. Like the one time she finally managed to do something -right.-

It's always reassuring to see that this hasn't been lost. Not so far.

There is some waiting involved, however. For the sake of the Challenger it's nice of Rogue to shed the grungy duds but this means more waiting. More standing around. While patience is no stranger to Raven it's currently being accompanied with an awkward silence.

As soon as Rogue takes a step toward the car Dave is quick to fall back into motion and climb behind the wheel. The engine starts with a clean throaty rumble which only a classic American V8 can produce. Before shifting into gear an impish smile crosses Dave's face as he glances sidelong to Rogue. "Nope."

With a healthy growl and an almost polite chirping of the wheels he pulls out into the street and shuffles back into traffic. At least most of the salt has been washed off of the pavement by now.

Once they're on the move no more time is wasted. "It pains me that I must hide myself from you but as you well know the situation has gone from 'bad' to 'dire.'" He pauses long enough to let that take root in her mind before adding "I heard you stepped away from the Brotherhood. I'd like to know why."

* * *

There's a flash of a real grin, far more open and childlike than the charmer's smile she so often adopts, when the car moves into gear. It's incredible, and even the very sound of it edges some of the awkardness out of her, at least.

But there are important matters to discuss.

"Yeah," Rogue agrees, in regards to the situation being dire. But Mystique cuts right to it. Like Pietro, with little patience. Like Tabitha, with more of an ear towards what she has to say, and why.

Tabitha, her oldest friend, well, she got the full, in-depth explanation. The twins got very little explanation at all, because Rogue thought they rather didn't care to have one. Enough to know what was going on. Enough to let her get to the real point of that meeting.

Momma gets somethin' in between.

"It's cause I'm a liability," she says, staring out the window. "I can't do some of the things that gotta be done without bursting into tears or going into hysterics. Without being wracked with guilt for days. Maybe that'll fade. Maybe that nurse'll finally work her way out of my head, but I think I done nearly killed her so I ain't sure. So I either freeze in the field at a crucial moment and screw all y'all, or I choose to work the problem from the other side of the fence, cause I still want the same end results. Just can't take the same road to get to them, is all."

* * *

With anyone else, family, friend, foe, Mystique wouldn't accept an excuse. Giving up is failure and failure is allowing the flatscans to win. She wouldn't have any sympathy for them. Here as well, Rogue is something special. A unique oddity within Raven's life. When Anna Marie speaks it isn't immediately written off as an excuse to get out of doing what has to be done.

A look of real sympathy crosses Dave's face and there it stays, ultimately manifesting itself as a frown.

"You're still having complications," he gently says in a way which is more statement than question.

A soft sigh is released as he looks out through the windshield, giving the Dodge a little more gas to cleanly overtake another vehicle. The metamorph can't fault Rogue for what she's going through but dammitall if it leaves Raven feeling helpless.

"I know..that I haven't been around for you so much lately." No excuse is given with the pseudo-apology. "Matters regarding the Brotherhood have become acutely complicated. It is better that you not associate with them for the immediate future. But Rogue, I want you to understand that you do still have family here. -Proper- family."

None of that 'family' family like what the X-Men claim to provide wayward mutants.

Dave passes another troubled glance toward his adopted daughter. "For a time I wasn't here for you, but I am now. If you feel that you are where you need to be then I will support your decision. All that I ask is that you allow me back into your life."

* * *

"Oh Mamma, I know your work's important," Rogue says, finally looking at her. "I didn't fault you for that none at all. It was just. A bad mission. A bad scene. A bad outcome. Bad all 'round. But…I'm glad."

She swallows the lump in her throat, looking down quickly. It won't do to cry, to display that level of weakness, so she just sucks in a breath and lets it out. "Mamma, I absolutely want you in my life. Always. I'm glad you came today. It's hard to know…who wants to see me and who doesn't."

And if letting Mystique back into her life creates all manner of complications, well, they're complications Rogue can live with and welcome at least.

"It ain't total radio silence, you know? Tabi and me, we ended up runnin' a mission together just a few weeks ago. It's not…it's not about cutting y'all out, or anything like that. It ain't about judgin' nobody's choices, neither."

* * *

"And if I am ever able to find someone who might be able to help you…" is openly promised.

Dave's smile is one of pure gold, taking one hand off of the wheel to rest it atop of Rogue's shoulder and give a light squeeze. If there's one place Raven wants Rogue to feel comfortable enough to cry, it's in the metamorph's presence.

"Of -course- I want to see you, Rogue. Don't be foolish. I only regret having taken so long to return."

Hearing about the mission with Tabitha has Dave quietly nodding once. "I didn't think that had been your intention." Though Raven DID have to check and verify this was the case.

"The climate is rapidly changing for us all. Now that we have proof SHIELD had been working on some sort of 'cure' for mutants I fear what it will mean for our species. I just want you to be safe."

And gods help the poor bastard who might try to 'cure' her daughter.

His hand slips away from her shoulder and reaches into a coat pocket, pulling out a plain looking business card. "The rest of the team has spread out and gone to ground while the dust settles but I am remaining in the area. If you need anything, Anna…" Dave offers with a meaningful stare and a passing of the card with a phone number. "-Any-thing. I will continue to look for a trustworthy psychic in the meantime. Know that you are never alone."

* * *

That light squeeze produces a watery smile from Rogue, a grateful one. A loving one.

Rogue nods about SHIELD, emerald eyes troubled. "If they were, others are," she murmurs. "Others are workin' on all kinds of awful stuff."

She takes the card, though, and slides it into her back pocket wallet right behind a fake ID reading Louann Cripke. Somewhere it won't be found on casual inspection, or by chance. As to what the X-Men plan to do about SHIELD's depredations, or anyone else's, she does not know. She supposes she should quit skulking around their edges and find out. Surely they plan to do something.

"Thank you, Mamma," she says sincerely. "My number ain't changed," she adds.

But forget ideological lines, because if Mystique is in trouble Rogue, too, will come running. So she verifies: "Same code for 'need ya right now?' Two rings and a hang-up?"

And does that rather than giving the return comment, which is, after all, somewhat fraught. Laden with questions of just how far Rogue would really go, and just how much help she'd really be, if she's such a liability. Questions she's already asking herself, and has no desire to spark in Mystique.

* * *

"You're right," Dave quietly agrees with a touch of encouragement in his voice. Rogue is thinking about the bigger picture here.

If Mystique knew what was going through Anna's mind regarding finding out what the X-Men might know she would ask to be kept appraised of any findings. As it stands she will just have to hope that Rogue does the 'right thing' by providing any intel which she might happen to come across.

Then comes the first look of -dis-approval from Dave. "Why not?" he suddenly asks with a slight edge in his words. "Rogue. I have been gone for four years and you are -still- using the same number?"

With an irritated flick of a hand Dave puts the blinker on. The resulting lane change is almost as abrupt. Change of plans, it would seem!

The question is confirmed with a simple "Yes."

Rogue doesn't have to dig any deeper on the subject. It's weighing pretty heavily on Raven's mind that she might lose one of her own to such an insidious creation. To think that they even require a -cure- in the first place. The way those vials had felt like solid bars of acid while concealed within her legs, fully enclosed as they were! What kind of horrors await any mutant who comes into direct contact with such a solution?

She cannot be Rogue's full time protector. She simply has to trust that Anna can take care of herself in most situations.

Most. But not all. Whether Rogue asks where they're driving or not, Dave flatly states "We're getting you a new number."

* * *

"Nobody had it but— "

But Rogue cuts herself off before she can make excuses for the oversight. And really, at this point is it better that nobody had it but the Brotherhood?

"Yes, Mamma," is what she says instead. But rather than being exasperated or even embarrassed, Rogue actually grins a little. Mamma can't be her full-time protector, but every now and then it's nice to have someone look after you or fuss over you or anything of the sort. Every now and then, it makes a body feel loved.

Speaking of which…

She puts her gloved hand on 'Dave's arm. "I love you," she says, and while she doesn't get overly sappy about it there's a lot behind those words.

* * *

That semi-grim expression set within Dave's features rather quickly crumbles away as Rogue's hand finds its way onto his arm. Another glance to Anna, another smile, and a hand reaches out to fall upon Rogue's gloved one.

It's almost enough to make a mutant mother cry. Mystique isn't leaving without getting a proper hug today, that's for damn sure.

"I love you too. Once your number is updated you can drive us back to the garage." Because she just -knows- Rogue is itching to get some time behind the Hemi's wheel.

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