"Perhaps he was never held enough as a child," Mystique suggested. "Indeed," Erik Lehnsherr agreed.
Robert Kelly adjusted his glasses and cleared his throat. "I think that everyone has something that they're ashamed of. I was wrong. It's as simple as that."
"But doesn't that reveal you to be a fickle and uncertain man?" Creed pressed. "One who is unfit to guide the United States?"
"It shows me to be a man of conscience," Kelly countered. "I realized the horrible implications of the Mutant Registration Act and wanted to be able to look myself in the mirror again."
"But the Mutant Registration Act has positive implications for both human and mutant alike," Creed argued. "You wouldn't harbor any ill will towards mutants now would you, Senator?"
"The Mutant Registration Act is anti-mutant," Kelly stated. "It sounds simple enough, but the basic groundwork is there. If the Mutant Registration Act is enacted, it would be very easy to start requiring mutants to wear, say, Stars of David so they could stand out in a crowd. Before you know it we'll have little mutant ghettos set up."
The pallor of Graydon Creed's face had darkened. His over-polished teeth were hidden by a scowl. He placed a glass of water to his lips and drank slowly.
He finally said, "Those are very strong words, Senator."
Senator Robert Kelly walked briskly through the crowds of photographers and reporters. Although the debate had not gone quite as planned, it couldn't have been considered unsuccessful.
As soon as the throng of people thinned out, the senator was joined by an elderly man with wispy gray hair. Kelly's eyes glinted yellow briefly to reveal that the senator was far more than he seemed.
"That Graydon Creed is a rather repulsive individual," the older gentleman noted.
As the two rounded a corner, the senator's features seemed to melt. In mere seconds Caucasian skin was replaced with blue, flame red hair fell to a woman's shoulders where a man's graying head of brown hair had lain previously. Mystique walked where Robert Kelly had been with a cold smirk on her face.
"Perhaps he was never held enough as a child," she suggested.
"Indeed," Erik Lehnsherr agreed.
"Hey, Rachel." Bobby reached out for the redheaded girl's shoulder.
Rachel's head snapped up immediately before he could touch her. Bobby's hand snaked back nervously. Rogue was by his side, her arms pinned behind her back.
"We just wanted t' say sorry for earlier," Rogue offered.
"Logan's a jerk," Bobby said.
Rogue raised an eyebrow at her boyfriend. Bobby shifted his weight to his other foot uncomfortably.
"Logan can act like a jerk," Bobby corrected himself. "But he's a good guy."
"I'll take your word for it." Rachel smiled wryly.
"So all's forgotten then?" Bobby grinned.
"Why not?" Rachel held out her left hand.
Bobby took it and gave it a firm shake. Rachel offered her hand to Rogue next. Rogue shot Bobby a look of apprehension and his grin rapidly became lukewarm. Rogue brought her hands in front of her, the pink lines of her bare palms faced outward defensively.
"Ah can't," she murmured.
"It's her power," Bobby explained. "She can't touch people."
"Well, she can touch this," Rachel said as she examined her left hand. "It's not real."
Rogue gave Rachel a doubtful look.
"I'm serious," Rachel insisted. She flung her left hand in front of the other girl who shrank away from it. "Touch it. It'll be fine, I promise."
Bobby's brows furrowed with concern. "You don't have to if you don't want to," he reassured. Bobby massaged the clothed small of Rogue's back with his knuckles.
Rogue's hand crept up hesitantly. The pads of the girl's fingertips gingerly grazed first the knuckles of Rachel's outstretched hand and when Rogue realized that both girls lacked any negative reaction, she fully embraced Rachel's hand with her own.
A surge of anti-climactic disappointment briefly flitted across Rogue's brown eyes. "It's so cold," she whispered.
Rachel shrugged. "It works better than the one before it did."
Rogue and Bobby looked to each other for what to do next. Rachel watched the two with a slightly amused smirk.
"Shouldn't you two be studying for the upcoming test?"
At the sound of their teacher's voice, Bobby's shoulders tensed while Rogue looked sheepish.
Scott Summers walked over to the two students and looked them up and down before he added, "Well?"
Rogue gave a grudging nod. Bobby groaned. The two took it as their cue to leave and quickly made a beeline towards a nearby corridor.
Rachel looked up at Scott expectantly. Despite the fact that his ruby quartz glasses hid his eyes, his slight frown revealed the careful thought he put into his words.
After an awkward silence, he said, "Hi."
Rachel smiled. "Hi."
"Doctor McCoy wanted to see you again," Scott said. "Unless you're busy."
"Am I busy?" she asked hopefully?
"Hank seemed pretty excited to see you," Scott replied.
"He just wants to rip my arm and leg off," Rachel muttered.
"Hank's really a good guy," Scott assured. "I used to work with him years ago."
"I'm sure you're right." Rachel sighed. "I just don't have a good track record when it comes to doctors."
"Your prosthetics wouldn't happen to be adamantium, would they?" Scott asked dryly.
"No. I don't think so," Rachel said.
"Just checking." Scott smiled.
"So how do you know Dr. McCoy?" Rachel asked.
"He was one of the first students here at the school," Scott explained. "Along with me and..."
Scott swallowed hard. He massaged the bridge of his nose fiercely and cleared his throat.
"Jean Grey?" Rachel finished for him.
"Yeah." Scott said. "How did you?"
"Logan told me that she..."
"Yeah," he cut her off. The way they were able to finish one another's sentences was uncanny, but while it left Rachel pleased, it made Scott uncomfortable.
"You cared for her a lot, didn't you?" Rachel whispered.
"Is it so easy to see?" he asked bitterly.
"It only hurts when you lose someone you love," she replied. Rachel's smile was sad. "But at the same time, if don't love anyone, you die."
"Let's just go see what Dr. McCoy wants," Scott suggested.
Rachel nodded and followed him out of the room.
"Mr. Summers?" Rachel stopped abruptly.
"Yeah?" Scott turned to face the girl.
"Why are you so nice to me?" she asked.
"I try to be nice to everyone." Scott shrugged.
"Yeah, but with everybody else you'll say 'hi' or pat them on the head or whatever," Rachel explained. "You actually talk to me."
Scott adjusted his glasses nervously. He looked at her and Rachel pretended that she could see his brown eyes behind his glasses. Scott cleared his throat.
"You remind me of someone," he said finally.
"Is that a good thing?" Rachel asked.
Scott hesitated before he replied, "I don't know yet."