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Fic: The Road Away From Heartache 3/15 (X2, Scott/Rogue, various)

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  • princesstwilite1
    Detailed warnings, disclaimer, summary, etc. in chapter one. Spoilers for X2. Pairings include: Scott/Rogue, Scott/Jean, Rogue/Bobby, very slight Rogue/Logan.
    Message 1 of 1 , May 29, 2003
      Detailed warnings, disclaimer, summary, etc. in chapter one.
      Spoilers for X2. Pairings include: Scott/Rogue, Scott/Jean,
      Rogue/Bobby, very slight Rogue/Logan. Rating: Nc-17/Mature

      Chapter Three Beta Readers: A.J. and Laura. Love you girls. I take up
      far too much of your time.

      * * *

      The Road Away From Heartache
      Chapter Three (3/15)
      by Princess Twilite

      Bobby's hand trailed over her stomach, and her muscles
      clenched against the touch. She bit her lip, lying carefully back
      against his pillows as he had asked her to. He stared down at her
      intently, his lips slightly parted, a line around his mouth that was
      a dimple when he smiled. But Bobby wasn't smiling now, too busy

      "You okay?" he asked in a strange, hoarse voice.

      Rogue blinked, once, and then smiled at him in answer. Yeah,
      she was doing okay. The blinds had been drawn, so the room was left a
      shaded yellow, dust mites drifting through the air, caught up in the
      half-light. Twisting like her nerves. The door to his room was
      locked, and Billy, who he shared it with since St. John had run off
      with Magneto and Mystique, was at lunch. They should have been
      themselves, but there was the lure of privacy and Rogue's
      courage to push the envelope.

      "Good," he whispered, and pressed more firmly against her
      belly, sliding his palm up until it rested just beneath her left
      breast. Her breath picked up as he leaned down, shifting onto his
      side beside her. The mattress dipped slightly, caving in at the
      center, bringing their bodies flush together. His pelvis rested
      against her thigh.

      Their eyes met and a spark shot up her stomach, bouncing
      around like a ping-pong ball. His mouth quirked up at the corner.
      Cocky... She didn't finish the thought because just then, Bobby
      decided to slip his hand up to fully cover her breast for the first
      time. A breath gasped out of her, soft and between her teeth. Rogue
      could have cursed three ways from Sunday about the attentive way he
      was looking down at her. A hot look, from a guy that could freeze her
      if he liked.

      A pile of scarves sat beside her head, one edge tickling her
      cheek as she turned her head to the side, hissing out a soft moan and
      squeezing her eyes closed at the new sensation. His breath warmed the
      side of her face, setting off the tingling of danger and excitement
      low in her stomach.

      There was a knock on the door.

      "Dammit, Bobby, you locked the door again!"

      Bobby groaned in disgust and dropped down onto the mattress
      beside her, his palm sliding away from her breast. Rogue laughed at
      the ceiling, listening to him curse at his roommate.

      * * * *

      The morning was misty, gray and wet like it had been raining.
      The thick, evocative smell of freshly cut grass tickled Rogue's
      nostrils as she waited for Scott to appear at the doors of the
      mansion. It was chilly enough that she regretted not wearing a
      jacket, but the air was heavy in a way that meant the chill would
      soon be gone and replaced with the bloated heat of new summer.

      She was smoothing her hair back from her face when she caught
      sight of Scott heading toward her, his long strides taking him down
      the steps to where she was, leaning against his parked car. Rogue
      pushed herself to a standing position, smiling warmly at him in
      greeting even as her fingers threaded together.

      "Morning," he said, rubbing a hand over the side of his jaw
      like he always did when he was tired, scraping the palm across his
      freshly shaved face. She'd seen him do it a million times in math
      class when Pyro made yet another smart-ass comment. But thinking
      about Pyro, the way he'd just walked away, made her stomach twist
      because damn, he was in her head and she *understood* why he'd
      It wasn't about betrayal. It was about need.

      "Morning," she replied, tipping her toes up and rolling back
      onto her heels, flashing her eyebrows at him. "So..."

      He shook his head. "I'm okay. Don't tell me you're
      going to
      be yet another person who asks that same question constantly."

      Rogue bit her bottom lip, glancing down at her boots. "You
      can't blame us for it, Scott. You always look so sad, and yet,
      I don't know if there are words, but it's like you're
      part of this
      big... big... THING... and sometimes that thing is all around
      Scott only stared at her, and Rogue found herself blushing,
      eyeballing her toes as she rocked forward onto them again. "Guess
      that doesn't make a bit of sense, but I don't care because
      it's what
      I mean."

      "It makes sense," he assured her. And then he laughed, a
      sharp little chuckle that had her looking back up at him. "God
      us all, but it does. Which scares me. So let's leave before I
      a coward and decide to leave all the arrangements to the Professor
      after all."

      When they were in the car, Rogue automatically buckled up,
      figuring he was the type of person that would be anal about it. Sure
      enough, he immediately slid the seatbelt over his chest like it was
      second nature, and then started the car up. It rumbled beneath their
      thighs, and she smiled secretly to herself, quickly concealing it
      with her gloved hand when he glanced over at her with a curious
      expression on his face.

      He left the music off, so the sound of gravel popping under
      the tires and the hum of the pavement filled the air inside the car.
      It wasn't an unpleasant silence, more the type that was worn
      before a
      long night of speaking. An outfit that could be discarded at will
      when the time was right. Rogue found herself inexplicably
      comfortable, occasionally flicking her eyes to where his hands rested
      on the steering wheel, fingers shifting over the rubber grip,
      pointing north and west, tapping like maybe there WAS music playing.

      There was a time when she could have said her life was made
      up of a of a future 'somewhere'. It had always been
      `somewhere' down
      the road, she'd be happy again. `Somewhere' not here, she
      could sit
      and breathe, not worrying about some little kid stumbling over his
      shoelaces and falling into her bare hands.

      Death was a somewhere. And for a while there she had wanted
      it, even been a little hungry for it. To know it and bring it into

      Rogue shuddered, clenching her teeth inside her mouth,
      fighting it back.

      She didn't want to think about `somewhere' anymore.

      "You never speak of your parents," Scott said out of the
      blue, five minutes later. Rogue jerked her gaze over to him,
      surprised that he had even mentioned them, especially so bluntly. It
      was like being sucker-punched in the stomach, when she hadn't
      prepared with her usual defenses. He had his eyebrows raised, and
      with the road a straight line in front of them, he was able to stare
      at her directly without worrying he'd run them into a ditch.

      Rogue shrugged, trying at carelessness. "There's nothing
      really to say about them."

      Admittedly, that was the understatement of the century. Her
      fingers were sweating beneath the gloves, making her itch to take
      them off. Instead she just clenched her hands together in her lap and
      stared at the road ahead, shrouded by green-leaved trees, acutely
      aware that he wasn't doing the same. The sound of his fingers
      against the wheel was making her jaw twitch, a nervous tick she had
      never quite been able to get rid of.

      Careless? Not quite. She counted the carcasses of run-over
      animals as they passed.

      "Nothing, hmm?" Tap. Tap. Tap.

      Logan in her head, "I'm telling ya, kid, he's a tight

      One. A cat.

      "Nothing," Rogue muttered, glaring at him sideways. The
      he wore cast a shadow over his nose, making him look stern and
      imposing, but mostly concerned.

      "But isn't this how it goes?"

      Two. A rabbit this time.

      "What?" Rogue asked, confused. She raised her hands into the
      air, palms facing the ceiling. He turned his face toward the road
      again, but a smile was fiddling with his lips, like he wanted to
      tease her with it, but wasn't really sure how. Like he'd
      never really
      done it before. She felt an odd sadness for him permeate her belly.
      There were moments where he seemed like he had never really gotten to
      play. At least she'd had a childhood. Sort of.

      "Show me yours, I'll show you mine."

      Was that a joke? Had Scott Summers actually cracked a joke?

      Rogue rolled her eyes. "Men."

      "We're all pigs at heart," he said wisely.

      They both laughed and she felt her heart lighten, a tight
      knot beneath her ribs loosen. Rogue tossed him a quiet thanks with
      her eyes, but he wasn't looking at her. His jaw was moving slowly
      he chewed thoughtfully on his bottom lip, facing the road.

      In the distance, Rogue could see a town looming, like a
      blister that had to be popped at exactly sunset so that it
      hurt. Not quite real like a folklore wasn't quite true. It always
      that look about it, the surrealistic quality of fog, because none of
      them really lived there, even though they *did*. The sun peeked over
      the buildings, blinking through the gray, fading air, dissolving it
      into a bittersweet memory that she could taste on the back of her
      tongue but could never swallow.

      "So you've successfully avoided the subject," Scott
      out, a moment later when they had entered the town. He slowed the
      vehicle down to about twenty miles per hour, driving carefully among
      the other cars and trucks, with fresh light glinting off their hoods.

      Rogue only sighed, squinting her eyes when the rays bounced
      of the metal surfaces and blinded her. Friends they might be, or at
      least heading in that direction, but still... just no. She didn't
      talk about her parents to anyone.

      "It's that building right over there," she said
      when she saw the red-bricked funeral parlor at the end of Main
      Street. Of course, he already knew that. But it was something to say,
      something to fill the space where another answer could have sat.

      `My parents hate me.'

      `Because you're a mutant?'

      `Yeah, but that's probably an excuse. I think they just hate

      Scott slowed the car to a stop, put his blinker on, and
      pulled them into a parking space. Rogue unbuckled her seatbelt when
      he turned off the engine with a flick of his wrist, shoving the door
      open immediately and stepping out.

      Friendship shouldn't be so exhausting, should it? Maybe it
      was just being friends with HIM that was tiring her out. Scott was so
      miserable that he sucked the life right out of her heart, made her
      ache for him, even love him a little for standing so straight and
      strong, made her care. But then, there were those moments when she
      could feel his focus on her, and it was like the only thing that
      mattered to him was figuring her out, which might be the most
      exhausting part of all.

      She didn't want anyone to know her. Not really. Not when she
      wasn't sure who she really was. There were nights when she'd
      wake up
      and think she was an entirely different person, suspended like a
      reflection of someone else in the water. Clear and breakable as glass.

      Rogue startled when she heard the slap of a palm against
      metal, breaking out of her reverie and looking sharply over her
      shoulder. Scott was on the opposite side of the car, lips a flat
      line, watching her as he rested his forearms against the roof.

      "What?" she mumbled, slamming the door shut.

      Scott shrugged, a casual shift of shoulders beneath white
      cotton. "I'm just thinking that you look alone again. Look, I
      may be
      a little rusty at being friends with someone other than... Jean...
      but I'm pretty sure friendship involves sharing of life
      And yes, I pry often, and you hate it, but that's part of the

      "And if I don't like this little deal of yours?"

      "Tough." That firm line stretched over his mouth again.

      A drop of rain landed on her cheek, making her flinch. She
      wiped the wetness away, smearing it across her skin. Wondered yet
      again if guilt was reason enough to put herself through this
      dissecting he loved to do.

      "My parents hate me," she said, giving in.

      Guilt *was* reason enough. Scott looked like she'd slapped

      * * * *

      Stepping into the funeral parlor was like stepping into a
      closet that had been overwhelmed by florists. Everywhere she looked
      there was a vase with flowers inside of it, stinking up the entire
      room. Oh, she loved flowers, but this place was just a bit
      overbearing with them.

      Pushers. Flowers didn't make people live again. What was the
      use crowding up space that could be used for something that helped,
      like photographs?

      Scott's shoulder brushed against hers, just slightly. Rogue
      eyed him, catching the intense expression of discomfort on his face.
      He didn't want to be here anymore than she did. She was about to
      suggest that they could come back another time when a plump man came
      out from behind a black velvet curtain, his skin streaked with sweat
      in the dim lighting.

      "Welcome," he said gravely. "Have you come to pay your
      respects to Mr. Clevington?"

      Scott appeared to be swallowing a grapefruit. Rogue cleared
      her throat. "Ah, no," she said when Scott didn't speak.
      "Actually, we
      came to discuss funeral arrangements for a loved one."

      The plump man nodded sagely, as if he had known all along.
      The light glistened off of his shiny forehead, a clump of hair spun
      up at the center like it was wistful for days when it had been more
      than just a clump.

      "This way," he said in a quiet voice, gesturing with his
      hands toward a door on the opposite side of the room, book-ended by
      two tables with yet more flowers on them. Rogue scratched her nose
      discreetly, irritated by the overwhelming scents.

      She and Scott followed behind him, matching the slow,
      respectful pace he had set. Rogue was overly-aware of how silent the
      rooms they passed were. Like the dead would awaken if anyone so much
      as whispered. She shivered. There was just something about a funeral
      parlor that made a person want to run far, far away. It wasn't
      about mortality, which was too obvious. No, it was facing the fact
      that there just might not be something beyond this world to look
      forward to. And if that was true, if there wasn't anything
      than this world, they were all just screwed.

      The room they were led to was an office that smelled like
      dust. Near the window, it had a large oak desk with a fat leather
      chair behind it. Rogue shifted uneasily on her feet when the plump
      man took a seat in it and gestured for them to do the same with the
      two chairs facing the desk. Scott cast his eyes toward her as he did
      so, pushing her into motion beside him.

      When they were seated, the man before them smiled.
      Vaguely. "My name is Frank Chaplin. You may call me Mr.

      So... polite. Not quite honest.

      Rogue nodded, keeping Scott in her sights as she leaned
      forward and shook the man's hand. "You can call me

      Frank cocked his head to the side, a roll on his neck bulging
      over his shirt collar. His eyes moved down to her gloves, and then
      over to Scott's visor. Jerked away on a quiet cough, his fingers
      fidgeting in her own, as if he'd just noticed what they
      were. "Rogue... Do you have a last name to go with the first?"

      "Just Rogue."

      "Just... Rogue. Lovely name." He coughed discreetly, and
      dipped his head in the direction of Scott, who was sitting very
      stiffly, hands clenched over the arms of the chair. "And your

      A pause. Tension that had nothing to do with what they were
      at the funeral home for. "Scott Summers," he answered
      when white lines had appeared around Frank's nostrils, and he
      appeared to be swallowing convulsively. Was he afraid?

      "I am pleased to make your acquaintance," Frank said,
      hands with Scott. When he pulled back, he tugged at his collar,
      stretching his neck as if to escape its confines. "Though, not
      these circumstances, of course."

      "Of course," Scott replied politely, with a dip of his chin.
      And then he threaded his fingers together, calmly placing them on his
      stomach. "My fiancee passed away recently." So direct, so
      cool. He
      might as well be made of ice. "The body was never found. What
      sort of
      packages do you offer for a situation like this? I want the best
      there is." His voice cracked, just slightly, before he cleared
      throat and continued. "The absolute best."

      Frank looked uncomfortable. "Was she..." He paused,
      expecting Scott to fill in the blanks for them all. Rogue remained
      quiet, watching.

      "A mutant?" Scott raised an eyebrow, arching it high above
      the visor. "I'm not sure what relevance that has to a

      Frank flinched, and covered it by looking down at a pile of
      papers that sat on top of his desk. When he looked up again, his face
      was blank. "It does have relevance, I'm afraid to say. After
      events, the churches we are connected to have decided that we should
      sever any and all ties with... well. We just think that it's
      to separate ourselves from the controversy."

      Scott's face was flat, showing no emotion. Abruptly, he got
      to his feet. Frank shrank back in his chair, his eyes squeezing shut.
      Rogue felt sick as Scott reached down and took her hand, pulling her
      from the chair gently and leading her out of the room, all without
      looking back at the cowardly man who was doing everything but hiding
      beneath his desk.

      They didn't say anything the entire trip back to the mansion.
      Instead, he turned on the radio and held onto the steering wheel with
      more force than necessary. When they were home, he quietly escorted
      Rogue to her room, and told her he'd see her at dinner.

      He didn't show.

      Rogue sat with Jubilee, Kitty, and Bobby, trying to focus on
      them instead of casting her eyes to the door and worrying. Scott was
      a grown man. He'd be fine.

      "....movies. Are you even listening? Rogue!"

      Rogue jerked in her seat when Kitty slapped her on the
      shoulder, nearly falling off. She looked around to find all three of
      them staring at her with concerned expressions.

      "Sorry," she said, clearing her throat. "What?"

      Bobby looked at her oddly, and Rogue found herself blushing.
      She shoved a forkful of salad past her lips, chewing so she
      have to explain herself.

      "We were talking about going to see that new Matrix movie,"
      Bobby said, after a moment of eyeballing her. He spooned some soup
      into his mouth, and then set the spoon down into the bowl with a
      clink. "Actually, we've been talking about it for the past
      minutes. We, as in, not really you talking at all. Are you okay?"

      She stared at him. "Yeah. Just distracted. It's been one of
      those long days."

      "You left pretty early," Jubilee said conversationally,
      taking a big bite of watermelon. Juice dripped down her chin, so she
      wiped it away with her finger, sucking on the tip like she wasn't
      drawing every boys' eyes in the room. "I woke up when you
      getting dressed."

      Rogue shifted uneasily, staring down at her food. "Yeah."

      "You got up before noon?" Kitty gasped. "On a Saturday?
      you *sick*?"

      "Ha Ha," Rogue muttered. The lettuce on her plate looked
      it had crawled off of something dead. She poked at it curiously,
      lifting it up with her fork and examining it. Feeling a bit queasy,
      she scraped her tongue over the roof of her mouth and wished she
      hadn't taken the bite she had.

      "So," Bobby began, leaning down to catch her eyes.
      up, Rogue?"

      "*Nothing*!" She said, emphasizing the word. Turning nothing
      into something. She fiddled with her silverware, before finally
      slapping her hands down on the table and meeting his gaze.

      His eyes narrowed. "`Nothing' seems to be making you
      Tell me what's wrong with you."

      "Look," she said, noticing that everyone at the table was
      watching what was escalating into a intensely person moment.
      nothing, okay? It's personal."

      Bobby pulled back like she had swung at him, Kitty coughed
      and went back to eating, and Jubilee appeared to be studying her
      fingernail polish as intently as her teachers wished she would study
      her schoolwork. Rogue felt like pond scum. But it *wasn't* her
      problem to tell. That was a rule of friendship, right? Don't tell
      unless they say you can.


      He shook his hand, shoving the chair out and standing. She
      leaned back, looking up at him as he hovered near the table for a
      moment, and then walked away. There was a familiar tension in his
      shoulders, one she remembered from every time he'd asked her out
      she had said no.

      "Damn it, Bobby," she whispered.

      Jubilee tapped her nails against the table. And then, "So...
      are we still going to the movies?"

      Rogue rolled her eyes. "J."

      "Just asking!"

      * * * *

      The adults' rooms were one floor above the oldest of the
      teenagers. Rogue climbed the stairs, holding a plate with foil
      covering it in her hands. It was still hot, so she found herself
      pausing every few seconds and shifting it on her palms to avoid
      burning her skin. She hesitated when she reached his door, sedate and
      brown, before taking a deep breath and knocking sharply on the wood.

      `Hey, Scott,' she could say. `So, I figured I could come
      clean with you about a few things. You see, I might be at least a
      part of the reason Jean's gone. How about that? Do you hate me?
      you hungry?'

      She could see the dull pain in his eyes already. Shook off
      the image.

      Rogue heard nothing for a moment, but then there was the
      sound of footsteps heading in her direction. She pasted a smile onto
      her face and held up the plate. Scott opened the door a second later,
      surprising her with his appearance. His hair was mussed up, sticking
      out in odd directions, flattened at the side. His jaw had that
      mysterious five o' clock shadow men got that somehow made them
      dangerous, although on Scott, it just made him look ruffled and edgy.
      The shirt he was wearing was half unbuttoned, hanging from his body
      limply, wrinkled like he'd slept in it.

      "Rogue?" His voice was rusty. His forehead wrinkled above
      glasses, puzzled.

      She blinked and held the plate up higher. "You weren't at

      He shook his head, pushing away the last vestiges of sleep,
      and then glanced at the watch on his wrist. With a sigh, he dropped
      his arm and rubbed his fingers into his forehead, scrubbing at the
      skin. "I guess I slept through it." Scott gestured to the
      plate she
      was holding. "Tell me that's what I think it is."

      "Freshly made by the chef. Or not so freshly, depending on
      your definition of that word."

      Scott smiled ruefully, taking the plate from her. "Thanks.
      Um, come on in." He opened the door wider and stepped out of the
      archway, ushering her in with a light hand on her elbow. She moved
      inside, trying to be inconspicious as she looked around in curiosity.

      "I appreciate the food," he said from behind her, voice
      gravelly from sleep. She heard the shuffling of tin foil and nodded
      vaguely, glancing at the unmade bed and the bottle of vodka she
      spotted beside it. A space inside her stomach felt hollow. Regretful.
      Maybe she'd had a reason to worry, after all.

      "Well, I was there. I figured bringing you up some food
      wouldn't completely ruin my day."

      "Good thing," he muttered, taking a seat in one of the large
      chairs that looked like Jean had hand picked them from a antique
      shop. "I'm starved." When she turned to face him,
      pretending she
      hadn't seen the bottle, he motioned for her to take a seat beside
      him. Rogue noted the lines of tension around his mouth were showing
      instead of the dimples she'd often seen there.

      "I really can't," she replied, regretfully. "I have
      to find
      Bobby before he makes some grand romantic gesture. You don't know
      embarrassing those can be."

      "I don't know," Scott said, setting the tin foil aside
      picking up a fork. He poked at the salad with interest. "I've
      thought they were sweet. That time he sent you a singing telegram to
      ask you on a date in the middle of class was funny. He's a

      "Yeah," Rogue laughed, still standing there, hands in her
      pockets. "But we all know your secret. You're just a big

      His lips parted, head jerking up to eye her through his
      glasses. "What? No. I'm not. I'm extremely unpredictable

      "Yep. Saving stray dogs and everything. I'm so scared of

      Scott shook his head and pointed to the door with his
      fork. "Out."

      Rogue laughed again and started out of the room. She paused
      at the doorway, glancing over her shoulder. "Watch out for the
      lettuce. I think it's alive. It tried to climb off my plate."

      Scott chuckled. The lines around his mouth had faded.
      I just tell you to get out?"

      "I'm going, Sugah. I'm going."

      When she closed the door behind her, she felt a little better
      about the day. Granted, he'd turned to drinking and she had some
      memories associated with alcohol, mostly originating from her
      experiences in bars, but he'd been laughing when she left. And
      was something. A definite something.

      * * * *

      It took only a few seconds to go crazy, Rogue thought. She
      felt sick at heart and sick of fighting. It was always the same
      thing, every time. He wanted more than she could give him, and she
      was left unsure how much of her there really was to give.

      Bobby wasn't in his room or the library, where he sometimes
      went when he wanted to be alone. It took Rogue over an hour to find
      him. In fact, she had pretty much given up on finding him when she
      stumbled upon him. In her room.

      "Bobby," she gasped, when she found him sitting on her bed,
      elbows on his knee, shoulders hunched forward. She placed a hand
      over her heart, which throbbed in her chest, and smiled at him
      hesitantly. "I've been looking everywhere for you."

      He slowly lifted his chin, watching her silently. The light
      from the lamp slanted over his cheeks, making his pale skin seem
      somehow more vibrant, fluid and thick with things she would probably
      never fully understand.

      "Why'd you run off like that?" Rogue asked, wrapping her
      fingers around each other, tangling the fabric of her gloves
      together. "I was worried about you."

      "Were you?" Bobby sighed, long and drawn out, studying her
      closely. The bulb in the lamp hesitated, flickering, before flaring
      brighter than before. Revelations were like that, pulsing and
      hateful. Rogue swallowed at the sadness on his face, inching her way
      forward into the room, closing the door behind her so that whatever
      was going on (and she wasn't sure what WAS going on) wouldn't
      broadcasted to the teenagers lounging in the hallway.

      "What's that supposed to mean?" Rogue demanded
      She was painfully aware of how loud her voice was. "Of course I
      worried about you. I mean, you don't usually wear that look on

      "Hmm." Bobby nodded, an ironic glint in his eyes. The collar
      of the jacket he wore was wet, like he'd been outside, walking in
      rain. "That's probably a good thing, because I don't
      usually discover
      my girlfriend doesn't want me to get close to her." Rogue
      opened her
      mouth up to respond, but he held a hand up in the air. "Before
      say anything, Rogue, that's not what I mean. You've let me
      physically. But with everything else? No. When something makes you
      sad, you close up tighter than a clam and I can't even get you to
      talk about it. Why is that?"

      She crossed her arms over her chest, feeling the band of
      pressure tighten around her lungs like it always did whenever he
      began pushing the envelope of their intimacy. His gaze drifted down,
      landing on her forearms pointedly, making Rogue aware of exactly what
      she had done. With an effort, she uncrossed her arms and took a step
      forward. He didn't move, just continued looking at her like he
      waiting for her to say something. Something important. Something that
      she didn't know how to say. Rogue took another step forward,
      out to touch the side of his face with a single, gloved-finger. His
      eyes fell closed.

      "I know I'm not always the most forthcoming girl in the
      world," she murmured, and he chuckled ruefully, deep in his
      She tapped his lips in response, keeping him quiet. "That
      mean I'm trying to keep you out. I let you touch me physically,
      means more than you'll ever know. But there are some things...
      things just aren't meant to be said, Bobby, and I can't
      change that."

      "What *things*, Rogue?" He asked pleadingly, opening his
      and looking into hers with a flicker of hope. He was always
      flickering, as if he sat on the edge of a flame and was forever
      dashing it with ice to keep it away. She remembered a feeling
      gotten from him during that first, dangerous kiss... he WAS afraid of
      her. Bobby was afraid she'd break his heart. She didn't know
      how to
      comfort him or make that fear go away.

      "People in relationships share what hurts them," he was
      saying. "And most of the time, I feel like you... like you just
      want this or *need* this as much as I do."

      "Oh Bobby, of course I do." She cupped his jaw with her
      palms, kneeling between his thighs and leaning close to his face,
      wishing she could kiss him on the lips. "I need you *so* much.
      don't even understand the half of it."

      "Then tell me," he whispered. "*Tell me*."

      "I... need you to understand me," she told him, reaching her
      arms around his waist to grasp the silk scarf lying on the bed behind
      him. His breath fell against her forehead, warm and quickening.
      need you to believe me." Rogue pulled the scarf up toward his
      watching him intently. "I need you to hold me." She leaned
      lifting her butt off of her heels, stretching to kiss him lightly
      through the fabric. His eyes were open on hers, serious. "I need
      to kiss me," she whispered.

      "Rogue," he said, painfully.

      "I need you to kiss me," she repeated, compelling him by
      touching his mouth with just her fingertips. "Kiss me, Bobby."

      With a groan, he did.

      * * * *

      "Looks like we're not going to make it to the movie,"
      pointed out, a few hours later, after they had spent far too long
      making out and not enough time cooling down. His breath was a little
      shallow as he cuddled her into the crook of his arm, laying back
      against the pillows and staring at the dark ceiling. He smelled like
      a lust, a hot scent that she found herself drawn to.

      Rogue stroked his cotton-covered chest slowly, feeling his
      heart thud beneath her palm. Nodding against his arm, she said
      nothing. Instead, she counted the shadows as they shifted inside the
      ever-darkening room. Her stomach was cramped with tension.

      "Rogue," he murmured, threading his fingers through her
      holding her against him. He was using the `shaky voice.' The
      one that
      got to her every damn time because she knew he needed her, had
      sometimes rubbed her hands over her own body because she knew what it
      was like to ache for herself, from his point of view. She knew how,
      at times, his fingertips throbbed to touch her.

      "What had you so distracted today? Please, just tell me. As
      much as you can. You looked upset."

      "Bobby." She didn't want to fight again. She'd had
      enough of
      fighting with him about how open she was. It wasn't like she was
      nutshell to be cracked open. These days, she wasn't even sure if
      there was anything inside her to be found but scattered remains of
      other people.

      A car passed outside, its light briefly touching the ceiling
      of her room, washing it in yellow light, stretching out the shadows
      into creepy shapes. And then it was gone, and the room seemed darker
      than it had even before the headlights had flooded it.

      "No. I mean, I know. You need space, I understand that. Just
      tell me what you can."

      His finger, moving along her collar bone. Gentle. He was
      always so gentle.

      "Okay," she said, on a breath of resignation. "This
      I went with a friend to help him with certain arrangements. I was
      worried that it had been too much for him when I didn't see him

      Bobby's finger paused briefly, and she felt his chest rise
      and fall before he resumed the caress. "Ahh. So, you're
      having second thoughts about this whole sexual side to our

      "What?" Rogue gasped, sitting up. She saw the slightly
      embarrassed look on his face and slapped at his chest. "No! Is
      what you were upset about? Scott's right, all men are pigs!"
      But she
      was giggling when Bobby grabbed her around the waist to keep her from
      scrambling off the bed, hauling her onto the mattress and trapping
      her beneath his body.

      "That we are, Rogue, my dear. That we are."

      She smiled as he kissed her through the shield of her hair.

      Fight avoided. Harmony restored.

      * * * *

      Some days moved like molasses. Everyone spoke slower, laughed
      harder, and kissed sweeter. The sunshine, noon-bright, slid its nosy
      fingers through the blinds and crept over the desks as students read
      aloud, passed notes amongst themselves, and took notes as their
      teacher dictated. The sound of chalk on the chalkboard, scraping and
      scratching, was familiar and numbing, bringing about the taste of
      ease and comfort inside the mouth. Students joked, occasionally, and
      were tossed stern glances from the smart girl in front of them who
      wanted to hear what the teacher had to say.

      Today was one of those days.

      After math class, Rogue plopped down in the chair she'd
      pulled across the room, propping her feet up on Scott's desk, and
      clunking her boots down on the surface. His chin lifted and he peered
      over her toes at her in annoyance.

      "Feet," he said, tapping the sole of one boot.

      She smiled coquettishly. "C'mon, Sugah, they're

      "Maybe," Scott replied, while pushing her feet off the
      desk. "But it's rude."

      Rogue shook her head, straightening in the chair. "Whatever.
      So, how'd I do on the exam?"

      Scott didn't look up at from the homework he was grading, but
      his dimples were winking on and off, like he was fighting a
      smile. "I'm not telling you that."

      Rogue pouted her lips, folding her arms over her
      stomach. "How come?"

      "Because you'll find out your grade as soon as every other
      student in the class does." He tapped the desk with his pen,
      emphasizing his words. "Next week."

      She shook her head, sadly. "Why are you so uptight, Scott?"

      He lifted his head, touching the pen to his mouth as if in
      deep thought. And then he flashed her a mocking smile. "Why are
      so persistent, Rogue?"

      Yes, one of those days for sure. The type that itched with
      layers, bloated and happy, like nothing could go wrong. Rogue crossed
      one ankle over the other, the tights she wore bunching at the calves.
      She picked at the wrinkles, and then gave up, pushing her skirt
      further down.

      She hated to break the mood.

      "So," Rogue began deliberately, watching his jaw tense, and
      then release. "How are things?"

      Scott set the pen down carefully, and then he laced his
      fingers together, leaning forward against the desk. "You can ask
      outright, Rogue. I'm not going to break."

      "I know that," she defended. Her shoulders tensed, before
      took a careful breath and relaxed. Things didn't have to be
      constantly hard between them. She didn't have to be constantly
      defensive. At least, she told herself this much.

      Scott was watching her, waiting. "Then ask," he said simply.

      Rogue took a breath, thinking wryly that Bobby was often
      trying to get her to do the same exact thing: open up, be a little
      more carefree, say what she wanted to say. She sometimes wondered if
      she inspired something protective in men. Logan, Bobby, Scott, and at
      one time, Pyro ( before he had been Pyro, and just Bobby's
      roommate who would probably do just about anything to keep her and
      Bobby alive... and had). All the men in her life seemed intent on
      fixing whatever they saw broken in her. The difference was that Scott
      didn't appear to have any motivation.

      "I was wondering what you were going to do for Jean now
      that..." she trailed off, swallowing. It hurt. The rejection,
      because they were different. Right to the simple truth of it, she
      felt as human as they probably did, just with a little more problems
      and a little less ability to touch. She cleared her throat, and light
      sun shifted across the desk, turning a darker yellow, shadows
      lengthening as a stray cloud shielded the sun. "Now that they
      perform the services."

      Scott shifted in his chair, a soft sadness passing over his
      face like the rain during a quiet summer storm. Shrugged.
      "I'm not
      sure. I was considering performing a quiet ceremony here."

      Rogue nodded. "I think that's an excellent idea."

      "Yes," he murmured, a far away expression on his features
      a moment as he appeared to look somewhere over her shoulder. "I
      thinking that we'd hold it outside, by the pond. Sometimes
      she'd sit
      there in the summertime, in that white dress she had, and just dip
      her toes into the water, picking on me because I wouldn't do so

      "Hmm," Rogue hummed, seeing the memory clearly in her head,
      as if it was her own. "I think that would be a lovely place to
      it. You could set up a quiet picnic, and people could remember her as
      she was. Lovely, kind, and strong. I envied her."

      Scott's face cleared and he turned his head toward her.
      do you mean?"

      "What?" She inquired, confused. And then her chest filled
      with horror over what she had said. "Oh, I didn't mean... I
      only... God. I should go." She stood to leave, but found her arm
      captured before she could, careful fingers wrapping around her
      wrist. "Scott."

      "Hey, I'm not mad. I just want to know what you meant by

      She blushed furiously, trying to hide it by ducking her head
      down and concealing her cheeks with the veil of her hair. "I um,
      well, you know when I first arrived here? Everything that
      Rogue waited for him to nod and then continued. "Well, I had this
      huge embarrassing crush on Logan."

      Scott's face shifted into a knowing smirk. "That's not
      exactly news. You were envious of his feelings for Jean. His rather
      *blatant* feelings for Jean." He let go of her wrist and sat
      his face hidden by the shadows of the room, the sun only catching the
      tip of his chin. "There's no shame in that. And there
      shouldn't be
      any guilt. You're only... well, I'd like to say human here,
      that's not quite true. You exist, you have a heart, you feel
      There's nothing wrong with that."

      Rogue nodded, still avoiding looking at him too directly.

      There was something to be guilty over.

      "I take it your huge embarrassing crush on Logan has gone
      away?" He asked, and she found herself laughing reluctantly, and
      taking a seat again.

      "I guess you could say that," she said.

      Scott leaned forward, a teasing note entering his
      voice. "What else might I say?"

      "You're digging," Rogue pointed out.

      "And you're evading," he tossed back.

      They both stayed quiet for a moment, facing off. And then
      Rogue tossed her feet back up onto his desk, distracting him briefly,
      and toyed with her gloved fingers. "Well, maybe, and this is a
      maybe... but maybe sometimes, I toy with naked-Logan in my head."

      Scott's face twisted into an expression of disgust.

      "What?" she demanded innocently, eyes deceptively wide.
      were the one that was digging."

      "Well," he replied, still looking mildly perturbed. "You
      the one that should have continued evading."

      A content silence, moving like the return of molasses, filled
      the room. Rogue continued to fiddle with her fingers, and Scott
      didn't push her feet off the desk. Instead, he picked up a
      assignment that one of his students had turned in, and leaned back,
      stretching his legs out in front of him.

      After a moment, he calmly set the paper onto his lap. She
      glanced up, feeling his attention on her.

      "Flowers, do you think?"

      Rogue's lips twisted to the side, thinking of Frank
      Chaplin. "No," she said, chest full of memories. "I was

      "Pictures?" Scott frowned, forehead creasing. She nodded,
      he did the same thoughtfully, spinning his chair so that he could
      look out the window. The sunlight moved over him, catching on his
      glasses, reflecting a red glare across the desk. And then, at
      last: "That sounds about right."

      * * * *

      Rogue had a dream, that night, as she often did.

      This one was different.

      There were colors, mostly red, and they burned into her eyes.
      She was standing in the middle of Bobby's bedroom, holding onto
      as he pressed his lips onto her throat, and her bare skin bit him,
      grew hungry.

      He cried. He cried, and then he was dead.

      There were colors, mostly red, and it was the color of
      Bobby's bloodless lips that struck her the most, as he fell to
      ground, inside her as much as he was gone.

      Jean stood silently in the doorway, holding pictures in her
      hand while Scott looked in through the window, lips moving like he
      was counting, flowers in his hair.

      "Rogue," Jean said. "Marie," she whispered.
      "Take care."

      Someone shook her arm, and Marie turned around, still holding
      onto Bobby's lifeless form, finding Jubilee standing over her in
      nightgown, a concerned expression on her beautiful face.

      "Rogue," she called. "Rogue, wake up. You're

      * * * *

      Bobby passed her the popcorn, and Rogue shook her head, even
      though she took it anyway, balancing it on her thighs as her focus
      remained on the movie. He had been careful to order popcorn with
      absolutely no butter, so she wouldn't stain her gloves, but she
      felt uncomfortable with the idea of eating finger-food wearing them,
      and she wasn't about to take them off.

      She knew it frustrated him, but there were still some truths
      that weren't about to change.

      Bobby had to fight to keep his mutation under control when
      his emotions were volatile; his love for her was making that control
      come harder, and sometimes, he couldn't sleep at night because
      parents, his father especially, had rejected him. Logan was restless,
      stalking through the hallways with a cigar shoved between his teeth,
      growling at anyone that looked at him a second too long, sometimes
      dragging her into town for a game of pool, a drink of beer and a
      warning to not tell Scott he'd let her drink underage. Scott was
      getting better, laughing a little, loosening up, but he was still
      grieving, and he probably always would be.

      Rogue... well, she was still the girl with the deadly skin.
      The girl who wasn't really sure who she was, if she even existed
      if she was just the compiled bits and pieces of other peoples'
      personalities. And she'd probably never, ever let anyone inside
      she didn't have to. She'd had a few that she hadn't had a
      about, after all. There was no way she would let in anyone when she
      could keep them out.

      "Would you like a soda?" Bobby asked in her ear, causing her
      to flinch, ever so slightly. Luckily, he didn't appear to notice.

      "Nah, Sugah. I'm fine. You know how I get if I have a soda
      during the movie. I always have to go to the bathroom while it's
      still playing, and I hate missing scenes."

      Bobby nodded, turning his eyes back to the movie screen.

      Rogue watched his profile, shivering with emotion that
      floated in the back of her head and heart like a low buzzing white-
      noise. Always there. Never leaving. As the light from the movie
      shifted over his face as the scenes changed, she couldn't help
      picture him as he was in her dream: in love, dead, and both because
      of her.

      End Chapter Three (3/15)

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