TITLE: Ace of Hearts
SERIES: Royal Flush - #5
RATING: R for very bad language and references to things kiddies shouldn't
know about in a perfect world.
SUMMARY: The end is the beginning is the end. Matters are resolved through
shouting and quiet contemplation, though perhaps not to everyone's
DISCLAIMER: No ownership. No money. No nothing.
DEDICATION: Jamie, this one's all for you. :-)
NOTES: Gambit note in part one. Poker glossary at:
Here it is, so late it's not funny. Illness was part of it. The fact
that I had all the *bits*, but I just couldn't piece them together. Rogue
was being obstreperous with me. As I was writing, I wasn't sure about this
ending, but now that it's done, I'm certain. I like this. Thanks to
Mistiec for the advice regarding an all-nighter. I should have taken it.
I'll know better next time. Enjoy. Love it? (Hate it?) Let me know.
It's all welcome, even the flames.
She'd stared at that page, blank but for those two words, for a long time
before finally leaving it and going to bed last night. She didn't know what
to say. Didn't know where to begin with the whole situation and how she
felt about it. She didn't want to think about it, so she'd crawled into bed
and stared, eyes wide and dry, at the wall for an even longer time before
sleep had finally crept up on her.
Now it was morning and she still didn't want to think about it, didn't want
to face that empty page, except she had to because there was someone
knocking at the door and they wouldn't bloody well quit.
"Come in already," she snapped.
The door opened quietly, and he stepped into the room even more quietly, and
every automatic system in her body stopped. "Logan," she greeted him, as he
closed the door behind him. He was fully dressed. Dressed for going out.
Dressed for leaving. She didn't even try to keep the acrimony out of her
voice. "This time you are running. I thought we were going to talk?"
"We are," he replied curtly, pulling the chair from the desk closer to the
bed and sitting down. "Right now."
Right now? With him dressed and wide-awake and her in her nightgown and
still wondering if this was some weird masochistic dream. Real fair.
"Great. You actually going to talk this time? Because I don't speak fluent
grunt, especially not at this hour."
He sighed, running a hand through his hair and making her feel like a petty
five-year-old. Which wasn't what she wanted, damn him. But if she stopped
being angry at him, she was going to cry. And beg and plead and that really
wasn't what she wanted. Suddenly an awful thought struck her. "If you
apologise for last night, so help me God I'll kill you." Wow, was that her
voice being so flat and cold?
Logan didn't look surprised, just shook his head. "I don't want to
apologise for it." His dark eyes stabbed into her as he looked up, and
she'd almost forgotten how intense he could be without really trying. "I'm
not sorry about a thing. It was exactly what I wanted. Exactly."
And just like that she was crying. Tears spilling down her cheeks and
dammit, she didn't want to be crying in front of him. "Then why are you
leaving?" she demanded. She swiped at her eyes angrily. He was still
sitting there, watching her with unreadable black eyes and that wasn't
right. He should hold her, comfort her, protect her. Love her.
"Because it's not what you wanted."
She almost gaped at him, sitting calmly in her chair. Not what she wanted?
"And of course, you'd know better than me what I want. Because you've been
here constantly for the past two years and you know all about the dreams
I've had and how long I've wanted you. You, Logan! Jesus, do I have to
spell it out in block capitals? I want you to stay. I want you to love me.
I want you to protect me totally, like you promised you would."
Silence followed her tirade, the only sound her breathing, fast and heavy
with her need for him to understand. To comprehend. Please, Logan.
He closed his eyes slowly for a moment. And when he opened them again she
knew just by looking that he wasn't going to. "You don't need to be
protected, Rogue." Rogue? When did he start calling her that? But he just
kept talking in that low, steady way that precluded interruptions. "You are
beautiful, and capable, and strong. You can take care of yourself, and get
what you want, and beat the crap out of anyone who stands in your way. You
are not weak. You are not a little girl who needs dreams to console her.
You're a woman. And I'm in love with that woman. The woman who kissed me
through white gauze, who danced on a table, who licked my blood off her
Logan sighed and lowered his head, and the absence of his gaze was like the
loss of something tangible. He stood, pushing the chair back into its spot
under the desk. She opened her mouth, but nothing came out. Say something.
Say something or he'll leave!
"I love you."
He shook his head, turning to look at her. "No, you don't. You love an
idea of me. Part of me. I want you to have all of me. Like I want to have
all of you. Anything else isn't good enough. For either of us."
There was nothing left to say and so she said nothing as he crossed to the
door. Three steps, two, one, and then he was out the door. It closed
behind him. He was gone. Rogue hadn't told him to take care and he hadn't
told her to keep the tags safe and he had left. She sat on the bed, exactly
where she'd been when she woke up. She hadn't moved. The world had moved
She could feel fresh tears trickling slowly down her face, following the
dried remains of her previous tears. She didn't care, though, staring into
space. What had happened? He'd said last night had been everything he
wanted, but he still left. He said he loved her, but he still left. She'd
said she loved him. He'd walked out. What the hell had happened? It was
too big, too much to understand. She could feel it all rattling around
inside her skull, making her dizzy, and not making any sense.
Rogue crawled out of bed, starting to gather up her clothes from where she'd
hurled them last night. Bodysuit in the corner. One of the boots under the
bed. Far under. Simple movements, uncomplicated.
He loved her. He loved that woman. But that woman was her, wasn't she?
She'd done all those things. Kissed him and danced and licked his blood
from her gloves with her heart pounding in her ears and wanting him to push
her up against the wall and make her scream. She hadn't wanted him to make
love to her then. She wanted to be fucked. And he had. All of that. Then
this morning, he'd left.
Kneeling beside the bed, her fist tightened on the boot she'd just rescued.
After what they'd said and done in the past few days, he'd walked out. Who
the /fuck/ did he think he was, to leave her here on the goddamned /floor/
trying to deal with this. Alone. Without him. She could deal with it -
/they/ could deal with it - but why did he have to leave? He ran away,
that's all there was to it. It got too complicated for him and he fucking
Stomp to her feet and grab the other boot from its position by the foot of
the bed. Slam the pair of them down by the door so hard that one fell over
again. She didn't pause to straighten it, heading over to the wardrobe to
put the bodysuit away before her grip left creases in it. Movements crisp
and quick, and she slammed the drawer shut again.
Well, if he thought she was just going to let him get away with that, he had
another thing coming. After all the effort she'd put in - /her/, mind you,
never him, was it? - she wasn't going to let him just ride off into the
sunset without her. No. She'd got him once - twice, if you counted the
curtain incident - and she would bloody well get him again. Third time
Movements quick with purpose, not anger, now, she moved around the room,
pulling out clothes. Jeans and shirt. Gloves. Scarf. She dragged a brush
through her hair, impatient when it tangled. She could borrow Kitty's car
and follow him. Was it too early to wake Kitty up? No, with luck she'd be
up by now. Rogue just hoped she wouldn't ask too many questions. She had
to move fast.
Sitting down on the bed to tie her shoelaces, she worked over the options in
her head. He could go anywhere, of course. He roamed far and wide on his
little jaunts. She couldn't afford to make a mistake in guessing his
destination this time. She couldn't afford to be distracted by whimsy, and
that's certainly what was making her think that he'd go back to Canada.
To Canada. To Laughlin City. Her foot slipped off the bed and she didn't
even notice. Laughlin City, where they'd met for the first time. Him, in
that cage, drawing every eye because even at rest he was more vital, more
alive, more masculine than anyone she'd ever seen. Like in the alley, the
fight last night. He'd been alive like that. Brilliant. The Wolverine.
The man with whom she'd shared that blinding moment.
And despite it all, he'd left. After all that, he'd still left, and she
thought she could bring him back? She didn't have anything left to use.
All her cards were on the table and they still hadn't been good enough.
One shoe was still untied, and it slipped off as she curled up on the bed,
hugging her knees to her chest. No more tears. She didn't feel them,
didn't feel sad, didn't feel anything but this weight on her. Like despair.
Like lethargy. Like she'd just like to lie down and go to sleep and wake up
to find that this hadn't happened, please. The energy of her previous
determination drained out of her. Her body slowed. Her mind stilled.
In that stillness, Rogue heard again Kitty's voice: 'You can't dress like
that without some intentions.' Except she hadn't gone out looking like that
with those intentions. She'd wanted Logan to stop her. To be concerned
about her. He hadn't been. He'd taken her with him. Bought her a drink.
Encouraged her. To dance. To fight. Now she heard his voice, felt his
hand warm on her elbow as he growled: "You could take these fuckers down
alone. And you're not alone."
But she was alone now.
Not what she'd wanted? He'd said that. But before that, before he said the
things that brought everything crashing down in pieces, those dark, deep
eyes had gone right through her and he'd said: "It was exactly what I
She hadn't got what she'd wanted. But what she had got... it hadn't been so
bad, had it? Sensations... Bone under her fist and his eyes on her and
glass breaking behind her head and his breath on her lips and /him/ against
Mmm... not so bad at all.
A knock on the door brought her upright in an instant, eyes she didn't
remember closing springing open again as she scrambled off the bed to yank
the door open and greet...
"Remy!" she gasped. Disappointment squashing the elation that had been
pushing its way up.
"Oui," he replied, grinning rakishly. "Remy indeed. How are you, cher?"
"Me? Um... yeah, fine." Rogue sat back down on the bed and pulled over her
other shoe. Yep, just putting on my shoes. Nothing weird going on here.
Surreptitiously trying to take a look in the mirror. What must she look
Remy leaned on the doorframe with his usual insolent grace. "Remy bets you
are fine, cher. Last night, it was a big night?" His grin might have been
considered a leer if he was anything other than her friend. As it was...
A big night? Rogue pulled the bow of her laces tight, and sat up straight.
A big night. What he wanted. Not what she wanted? But in that alley,
she'd wanted... what she got. To be fucked. No. Not the passive voice.
To fuck. Equal. Giving and taking and sharing. Together.
What was 'making love', anyway? Some romantic notion delivered with sighs
and roses and moonlit satin sheets? Honestly, Rogue, can you see him doing
that? The Wolverine. Pure testosterone poured into muscle-sheathed
Because that's what he was. He was grubby fights in cages and
blood-pounding blows in back alleys and wild and free on the road and curt
and private and deep, but still. He wasn't her knight in shining armour.
She was wasting her dreams and her sighs on him, not because he didn't
deserve them but because they didn't deserve him.
She stood up and went over to her dressing table. She ran her fingers over
the carved wood of the box before she opened it. A jewelry box, for a young
woman, not a girl.
She took them out of the closed compartment and turned to smile at Remy.
"Yes, Remy, it was a big night." She looked around for a moment, then
reached up to hook the tags around the corner of the mirror. A moment to
get them to hang properly. Yes. They might slide off, but she could do
something to fix them properly in place later. It would do for now.
She turned back to Remy fully to find him grinning at her, arms crossed over
his chest. "What?" she asked, grinning in return.
"Your smile," he answered simply. "It's enough to stop my heart, cher. I
used to think it was beautiful when it made you look so ethereal, like you
were dreaming. But now... Now it is like the sun coming out."
Rogue blushed, and swatted at him. "Get away, you big flatterer. Enough!"
She laughed, pushing him out the door and closing it behind them. "Come on,
I'm starving. Are we too late for breakfast?"
/I think I understand now. Why he said those things. Why he had to go.
I've been thinking about it all day, on and off, through a long afternoon
nothing-session with Kitty and Jubes, and then through a poker game tonight.
I played badly, but there's more to poker than cards, remember? I remember.
/He wasn't who I wanted him to be. But then again, neither was I. I'm not
a fairytale princess any more than he's a prince. And pretending I was was
all fine and good when I was a kid, but I'm growing up now. Grown up,
maybe. Almost. I think I might have made it now.
/I can be all those things he said I was. All those things the woman was.
And not because they're what he wants. But because they're me. Mine. What
and who I am. It's easy, really.
/Maybe, when he comes back, we can try again, reading from the same page
this time. Looking each other in the eye. I know it can work, because it's
exactly what he wants.
/It's exactly what I want, as well.
/But in the meantime, I have a life to live./
"Absolutely all this unrecognisable flowing darkness
hidden by darkness in the beginning..."
- The Rig Veda, X:129:3