Rogue was just a teenage girl who couldn’t touch anyone. Accelerator was just a teenage boy no one could touch.
It was no wonder after they were briefly introduced by Ororo Munroe, her new teacher at Xavier’s School for the Gifted, that she kept glancing over curiously from time to time.
He didn’t really look that interested in class. They were in calculus and Rogue probably needed to be paying more attention than she was.
“Are you even paying attention, Accelerator?” Mr. Summers asked suddenly with a firm frown.
Everyone else was listening studiously but not him—or Rogue. She sat up a little straighter.
Accelerator just clicked his tongue. “What’s to listen to?” He rattled off the workings out of the calculation Mr. Summers had been trying to demonstrate as if he could do it in his sleep.
Their teacher sighed and returned to the board.
He could do it in his sleep. Literally.
“How the hell does anyone wake you up?” she demanded after finally solving the problem by shining a bright flashlight in his face until he stirred.
He stretched his neck from side to side, looking sleepy and disgruntled, then he glared at her. “You’re not supposed to.”
“You couldn’t even hear me!”
“I was reflecting the noise,” he answered, as if it was obvious.
He reached out and snatched the flashlight from her hand, not even making an effort to avoid contact, and yet…
“Can nothing touch you at all?” she asked quietly.
Accelerator blinked up at her, a question mark writ large across his face, barely outweighing the annoyance that she was still talking to him. “I have to let in some things.”
Let in. Like his ability was just as permanently active as hers was.
“Gravity, certain parts of sunlight, oxygen.” His tone said she should be able to figure that out for herself.
She wanted to touch him, just to see if she could, just to see if she really couldn’t hurt him. She kept her hands to herself and finally brought out the reason she’d been struggling to wake him from his nap on the couch. “The Professor wants to see you.”
“Ah.” Accelerator stood, jammed his hands in his pockets, a too skinny, too pale kid that looked like anything but the apparent powerhouse that he was. “He could have just bothered me himself.”
“So you’re susceptible to telepathy?” she asked curiously.
Accelerator barely glanced at her. “No.”
Blocking brainwaves was always possible, but like sound, light, and other useful conveniences, Accelerator only did it when it made sense to do so.
Rogue was an interesting one, primarily because she was curious and tough and wouldn’t go down easily in the Danger Room. Now if she just applied herself and borrowed powers when it made sense, she could probably defeat anyone else in their class except him.
“You’re an embarrassment to mutants,” he told her, sitting down at her table at lunch.
Kitty’s mouth dropped open, Bobby looked like he wanted to punch Accelerator, but Accelerator just watched Rogue.
Her eyes flashed and she replied cuttingly, “Sorry your threshold for embarrassment is so low. At least my hormones aren’t screwed up.”
Point. Not that Accelerator actually cared about his hormones, for all he knew perfectly well how screwed up they were. “You have that much power and you barely use it. You could actually be a battle worth having, if you bothered to apply yourself.”
He waited a moment for her to clench her jaw and internally fume. “What the hell do you know about it?” she asked.
“Maybe you should just bug off, Accelerator,” Bobby interjected.
“Bug off yourself, third string.” There was absolutely nothing Bobby could do to him that he didn’t have a counter for. “Do you know what it is that I do?”
He’d never told her, for all she could figure some of it out for herself.
Kitty interjected this time, “Vector transformation. You can control anything with a direction.”
He probably should have raised this conversation when the peanut gallery was not in residence, but she wasn’t wrong and it spared Rogue having to guess, so he just deadpanned back, “Give the girl a prize.”
“Your absence?” Kitty asked sweetly.
Rogue wasn’t looking at him like she wanted him to go though. She was looking at him curiously. “What do you think I do?”
The million dollar question. But it was pretty obvious after she’d nearly killed a self-healing mutant with apparently bone claws under the metal.
“Anything you want.”
She stared at him.
He got up to go, finally blessing her low life friends with the gift of his absence. Was it such a bad thing to want someone decently challenging to fight against?
“Is everything a fight with you?” Rogue asked after poking and prodding him with more questions than he really wanted to answer, judging from the growing state of his annoyance. But if she was going to get tutored in math—Mr. Summers’ brilliant idea—then she was going to have personal conversations too.
“Everything’s a fight. You’re a mutant. You haven’t noticed?” He turned red eyes on her with that dark, flat look on his face he always seemed to wear when he wasn’t reveling in dishing out violence and destruction, the one that said he’d lived through a lot of misery and not a lot of love or happiness.
She shrugged, scribbled down another answer to a question.
Accelerator swore. “You’re doing it wrong again. Screw it.” He leaned over, head close to hers, and wrote out the proper way to calculate the vectors.
“Just because not everybody’s a genius doesn’t make them an idiot.”
“Only an idiot would underestimate someone else,” he countered. “You’re still doing it wrong.”
“Someday I’m going to figure out how to shut you up and drain you dry,” she commented bitingly back.
He looked at her interestedly from under the white hair falling across his eyes, mouth splitting into that slash of a deadly smile in his face. “I’d love to see you try.”
It took a moment, a long moment for her to think through that reaction. She’d been itching to try touching him since she heard he was untouchable, and that was as much an invitation as she’d ever heard before. She carefully tugged off on glove and reached out to touch him.
It felt like touch, but he was staring steadily back at her, unhurt, unharmed, with the tenor and content of his thoughts safely locked inside his own head instead of hers.
“You can reflect anything?” she asked again, already knowing the answer. There were rules around the use of any power, but without borrowing someone else’s gifts, she wasn’t likely to ever break his barrier like this.
“Are you done yet?” He sounded a little bored.
That was his way too. Let someone else exhaust their options, then finish them off.
She held on just a little longer, long enough to feel a little bit more like a normal human girl, before finally letting go. “I suppose I’ll just have to learn more and try again.”
He didn’t let on that people didn’t touch him like that, didn’t look at him like that, didn’t stare at him with wonder in their eyes or warm gentleness in their hands. Accelerator liked her bite and her fire and her potential, but he’d never really thought about her humanity.
A tiny little part of him remembered flailing his hands desperately, unable to stop destroying everyone who tried to stop him. A part of him remembered wanting friends, wanting to stop hurting people, wanting people to stop destroying everything he loved.
It was easier to not acknowledge that and take her words at face value. “You’re going to have to do better than that.”
She threw a pencil at his head and shifted so it could bounce harmlessly past her. “Don’t you worry. I will.”0