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Fic: Dall'Acqua 2/3 (Scott/Rogue, X2)

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  • princesstwilite1
    Dall Acqua (From The Water) 2/3 by Princess Twilite * * * * Rogue yawned, stretching her arms to the ceiling as she came down the stairs. She d slept like a
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 17, 2003
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      Dall'Acqua (From The Water) 2/3
      by Princess Twilite

      * * * *

      Rogue yawned, stretching her arms to the ceiling as she came
      down the stairs. She'd slept like a baby after talking with Storm
      for
      a half an hour about how the school was doing without them.

      "The sky is not falling," Storm had laughed. "No one has
      died yet. I think we can handle everything without you two for a few
      days."

      Rogue had huffed into the receiver. "I don't know how
      I'm
      going to take it."

      "With a side of Scott Summers perhaps?" Storm suggested
      innocently.

      As innocent as Storm ever was.

      "I don't even want to KNOW what you're talking
      about," Rogue
      had said quickly into the phone. "I have to go to bed before
      Scott
      gets cranky at me again."

      "Eager is he?"

      "Shut up, Ororo!"

      Scott looked up from the stove when he heard her enter the
      kitchen, smiling widely at her. She pulled up short at the scene
      before her. Scott stood next to the stove, stirring something
      slowly, steam rising around him. He wore shorts and a thin t-shirt,
      hair ruffled like he hadn't combed it. He looked calmer than
      she'd
      seen him in a long time.

      "Morning," he greeted affectionately. "I was beginning
      to
      think you were going to sleep the day away."

      Rogue yawned again, covering her mouth with her palm. "What
      time is it?" she asked, wiping sleep-gunk from her eyelids.

      He gestured toward the clock with a spatula. "A little after
      noon."

      Her mouth fell open and she blinked at the clock. "What? You
      let me sleep this late?" When he only shrugged, she growled at
      him
      and stalked toward the refrigerator, jerking open the door.
      "Orange
      Juice... Orange Juice..." She turned, still holding onto the top
      of
      the door. "Scott-"

      "In the door," Scott stated mildly, pushing the spatula
      through the cooking eggs. "Don't drink from the carton,"
      he said,
      just as she lifted it to her mouth to do so. She sighed, tossing him
      an irritated grimace before doing exactly as he'd requested she
      not.
      So much for the chain of command, he thought, but grinned down into
      the eggs.

      "Is that my breakfast you're cooking?" She asked with
      interest, coming up beside him as she wiped her mouth clean with the
      back of her hand. He looked her over quickly, from the tips of her
      polished toenails to the top of her messy hair. She noticed, but
      didn't comment. It was just something that he had always done.

      "You're going to have to work for your food," Scott
      warned,
      scraping the scrambled eggs into a bowl. Her mouth watered.

      "What is this work you speak of?" Rogue asked, scowling.

      He laughed, turning toward her and tapping the tip of her
      nose with his index finger. "Only a proper morning
      greeting." When
      she continued to scowl, Scott narrowed his eyes. "We're not
      exactly
      talking slave labor here, Rogue."

      The smile gave on her mouth, and then she embraced him with
      a quick, but firm hug that only lingered when her fingers trailed
      away from his neck. He forced himself to release her with only a
      quick look at her face, before twisting back toward the stove and
      picking up the bowl. He handed it to her.

      "I love you," she said seriously as she took it and moved to

      take a seat at the table.

      Scott froze, staring at the back of her head.

      "Yeah, um." He cleared his throat. "You too."

      "Oh, this is delicious," Rogue muttered around a
      mouthful. "You've always cooked me the best breakfast. I
      swear, I've
      been spoiled. One of these days, I'm going to move out of the
      mansion, and where will I be then?" She shook her head, shoving
      another fork full into her mouth. "I'm going to starve."

      Scott pushed down the spurt of panic. Damn it, he thought to
      himself. He had to calm down. He'd been on edge around her
      lately,
      frayed and in the final stages of his patience. She'd notice,
      even
      as oblivious to him as she was, if he wasn't careful.

      "Oh? Well, maybe I should teach you how to cook."

      Calm. Cool. He was in control. Right.

      Rogue cocked her head to the side, chewing thoughtfully.
      Then she shook her head, hair waving across her back. "No. I
      don't
      think you should." She stabbed the fork into the air pointedly
      as
      she continued. "You'll have to come with me."

      He finished scrambling breakfast for himself and sat down
      beside her. "The horror."

      "I know." Rogue nodded mockingly. "I guess you'll
      just have
      to cope."

      "Somehow, I think I'll manage."

      She glanced at him curiously, before shaking her head and
      catching another bit of egg on her fork, shoveling it into her
      mouth. "So," she said, talking around the food. "What
      are we gonna
      do today?"

      Scott stared at the wall opposite while he considered,
      tapping his fork against the side of the plate. "I don't
      know.
      There's a million options. We could go swimming, diving, shell-
      hunting, shopping, sight-seeing..."

      Rogue interrupted by placing her palm gently over his mouth.
      He looked at her over her fingers, unsure of what she was about to
      do.

      "Is nothing an option?" She asked quietly. "I think
      I'd just
      like to sit with you and do nothing for once."

      Scott cleared his throat when her hand dropped away. "It's
      an option," he said, voice tellingly rough. He coughed,
      uncomfortable. "It's always an option."

      She nodded, as if putting a period on their
      conversation. "Well then, I say we get out the lazy stick and
      beat
      you with it."

      "I worry about you," Scott replied teasingly.

      She only tossed him a quelling look.

      * * * *

      Rogue lounged in the sunlight, letting it bathe her in its
      warm rays. She sat in a beach chair, hair tied back into a messy
      ponytail, sunglasses shielding her eyes. She had a lovely view of
      the ocean, vast and a dim blue through the lenses, Light Houses
      sitting on chunks of land in the distance, tall grass fluttering
      with every gust of the wind.

      The wind was cool and dry, even as the sun burned hot. Other
      people mingled on the beach, with tan, well-oiled skin, and sun-
      streaked hair. It was easy to ignore them.

      Scott came out a moment later, a silver tray in hand. She
      blinked up at him when he handed her a glass. She wrapped her
      fingers around it, smiling warmly. The glass, cold to the touch,
      felt good against her forehead. She pressed it there, rolling it
      against her skin.

      "It's hot today," she observed, stating the obvious.
      Sweat
      made her thighs stick to the chair, and her flesh made silly tearing
      sounds as she lifted her leg, bending it at the knee so her foot
      rested flat on the beach chair.

      "Very," Scott agreed, sitting down in the seat beside her.

      "I love it," she qualified.

      He glanced at her, for only a second. "Me too."

      Out on the water, a bird swooped low, diving for a fish.
      Rogue took a sip of her water, watching with curiosity. She taught a
      class on Geography to the students, but a part of her had always
      been interested in Marine Biology. It was probably because water had
      been one of the few things she could touch for so long, and it had
      always felt so alive beneath her fingertips. So smooth and silky, as
      if she was touching skin.

      Almost... but never quite.

      "I brought out a few slices of watermelon," Scott told her,
      interrupting her musings. She looked away from the water, toward his
      bent head. He lifted the tray from the sand, holding it out for her.
      She eyed the fruit on the tray with as much interest as the bird had
      eyed the fish it had seen in the ocean.

      "I told you that I loved you, right?" Rogue asked, plucking
      a slice of watermelon from the tray's surface. A strange
      expression
      came over his face, but she couldn't comment because juice
      dribbled
      from her mouth, running down her chin. "Shit."

      "Don't curse," Scott said, vaguely. Rogue looked over
      and
      found him very close, leaning over the side of his chair with an
      outstretched hand. Surprised, her lips parted. A single finger of
      his wiped gently along the corner of her mouth, down her chin,
      clearing the juice away.

      Her eyes fell shut at the scrape of flesh against flesh,
      always such a pleasure, always such a painfully intimate act. A
      spark of *something* tingled at the bottom of her spine, rising
      slowly like heat, wet with the moisture building inside her mouth.
      It felt strangely like arousal, but thicker. Weightier.

      Scott...

      "There you go," he murmured, taking his touch away.

      Rogue's eyes flew open, and she blinked, dazed. What the
      hell had just happened? She searched his face for some sign, but she
      only found his profile, the skin pulled tautly across his
      cheekbones, leaving him looking wounded and tense. A dark flush
      tainted the skin beneath his shades.

      His voice sounded thick. "All better."

      "Right," Rogue drawled, blinking three quick times and
      pushing it all to the back of her mind where she wouldn't have
      to
      think about it. "Thanks."

      They remained quiet for a long time after that, enjoying the
      heat. He noticed that she didn't complain about the smell of the
      ocean anymore, but seemed to embrace it. It was something he'd
      found
      you just had to get used to, like an acquired taste. It had grown on
      him, since his first of many visits to Cape Cod all those years ago
      when he'd first lost Jean. It had been a terrible trip, but
      he'd sat
      on the beach and stared at the ocean for hours on end, all the water
      that had taken her away from him.

      Scott watched Rogue from the corner of his eye, stealing
      glances like a thief steals silver knifes. The way she moved in the
      chair, the way her chest rose and fell with her breathing. Her
      stomach, revealed in all its pale glory, had begun to take on a rosy
      color from being exposed to the sun. Every now and then she would
      lick her bottom lip to apply moisture, and his heart would give one
      sickening thud in response.

      He wanted badly to taste her, but knew he couldn't.

      God, he thought, turning his head so he wouldn't have to
      look at her unintentionally seductive movements anymore. He
      shouldn't have brought her here. She hadn't acted any
      differently
      than if she was surrounded by a roomful of people along with him.
      Just more relaxed.

      It shouldn't make him want to hit something, but it did.

      Taking a deep breath, he pushed himself from the chair. She
      tilted her head, following him with her eyes as he rose. They were
      dark behind her glasses.

      "Where are you going?" She asked, drowsily. The sun had
      worked its magic on her, flushing her cheeks, making her eyes
      glitter even as her eyelids fell lazily low. "It's too hot
      to move."

      "Swimming," he answered, clipped. "The heat's
      getting to me."

      "Mmm," she hummed, taking her glasses off and setting them
      to the side. "I think I'm going to go with you. Help me
      up." She
      lifted an imperial hand, waiting for him to take it. Scott found he
      couldn't resist her charming smile and pulled her from the chair
      with a put-upon sigh. When she was upright, they held hands for
      another moment, and then he let her go, making a run for the water.
      The sand burned hotly beneath his bare feet and his toes sank
      blissfully deeper as he ran, searching for colder ground.

      Rogue followed close behind him, laughing wildly when he
      kicked up water with his feet as he ran full speed into the water,
      splashing her thighs.

      "Oh, cold!" She squealed, coming to a skidding halt when she

      was ankle deep.

      Scott dove toward the deeper water, going under where it was
      dark and cool, before rising to the surface with an arc of his back
      and a kick of his legs. Gulping in air, he turned, searching for
      her. The sun blinded him for a moment, and he blinked past it,
      adjusting his sight. He grinned when he saw that she hadn't
      gotten
      very far in and had already begun shivering. She wasn't even up
      to
      her knees yet.

      "Just jump in," he called to her over the sound of the waves.

      She shook her head, crossing her arms over her chest and
      shivering.

      "You'll get used to it faster!" When she just continued
      to
      ignore him, Scott shook his head and started toward her. Rogue's
      eyes widened and she backed up a single step. He picked up speed,
      lifting his legs high in the water and dashing for her. When she saw
      him coming for her at break neck speed, Rogue made a move to turn
      and run back to the shore. Scott got to her first, bending low and
      scooping her up by the back of her thighs and shoulders.

      "Scott!" Rogue screamed, thrashing in his hold like an angry

      fish. "Put me down, you... idiot! The water's fucking
      cold!"

      "Nope!" Scott grunted, hefting her a little higher in his
      arms. Her skin burned his, and he found himself clumsy again. It was
      only worsened by the wriggling body in his arms. "Damn it,
      Rogue,
      you're going to make us..."

      She gave another tremendous wriggle that threw him off
      balance.

      Shit.

      They both tumbled backwards into the water with a loud
      splash. It was still shallow enough where he had stood that he
      landed flat on his back on in the muddy sand beneath the water
      without going under. Rogue landed with a grunt on top of him, the
      curve of her hip driving the air from his lungs when it lodged
      against his ribs. Instinctively as he had fallen, Scott had wrapped
      his arms around her waist and cradled her close to him so that her
      side was firmly pressed against his belly and he could protect her
      from any damage.

      They both laid still for a moment, shocked. And then slowly,
      Scott became aware of her shaking on top of him. "Rogue?"

      Her laughter burst into the air, like the crystal sound of a
      bubble popping. "Oh God, Scott. Aren't you supposed to be
      smooth or
      something?"

      A chuckle rumbled from his chest in response, and he ran his
      palms along the bare skin of her arms, pulling her a little closer.
      Hell, he was obsessed, so he might as well get a feel for her before
      she realized who's arms she was in.

      Rogue abruptly stopped laughing, stilling on top of him. She
      turned her head, only slightly, so that she was almost looking
      directly into his shades. She stopped though, twitching a little as
      if she were suddenly afraid to stare at him straight. Her tongue
      swiped out, catching on her dry bottom lip, and a surge of water
      rushed around them, hissing in his ears.

      Everything else: the people, the birds, the sky... it all
      grew far away.

      "Scott?" She whispered, anxiously. A soft crescent line
      appeared between her eyebrows, and suddenly nothing was funny
      anymore. Giddy thoughts ran through his head. There were things they
      both had to do, things that seemed to have always been on a to-do
      list that they had ignored, hoping it would go away and they
      wouldn't have to deal with the consequences.

      "Scott," she said, and it wasn't a question.

      His stomach muscles contracted. In her voice, there was a
      slow drawl that he had been waiting to hear directed his way for
      longer than he could remember. There was something darker than the
      ruby color in which he saw the world, something richer, with a
      flavor he'd been aching to taste for far too long.

      "Yeah?" He whispered back to her, voice sandpaper rough.

      "What's going on?" she asked. Her eyes flicked up,
      across
      his face and she began to slowly crawl off his body. Scott sat up
      with her, following as if drawn by an invisible rope strung between
      them.

      "It's okay," he assured her quietly, keeping her in his
      lap
      by holding her arms. The skin was hot and slick beneath his fingers,
      and he slowly slid his hands up until one was wrapped around her
      shoulder and the other cupped the nape of her neck.

      A shiver, there, in that place between her neck and shoulder.

      Rogue's eyes, wide and wary, grew darker by degrees. She
      grasped the wrist that held onto her shoulder as if she was trying
      to keep him from drowning, tugging it upward, but he wouldn't
      move,
      except for forward, toward her face with his own. He took his time,
      careful not to scare her off now that he had her exactly where he
      wanted her, but his grip tightened on her in increments until he was
      clutching her.

      "It's just me," he said, breathlessly.

      Contact. His eyes fell shut the second he kissed her.

      Real. Burning. Blood red and just as thick. He shook his
      hand from her claw-like grip and wrapped an arm around her waist,
      turning her, pulling her closer. She didn't fight him, allowing
      herself to be pulled in even as she struggled not to respond in
      kind.

      Her lips were salt and tea, and he wanted more.

      A kiss, beyond the holiday pecks and quiet hellos; a kiss
      where he pressed his lips onto hers as if he were desperate for a
      deeper taste. Rogue's lips remained motionless beneath his, her
      heart screaming with anxiety, but he was so urgent that she was
      compelled to open up, to let his firm lips part her own.

      Desire. Friendship. The two mixed and became something else
      altogether.

      Electrified, the hairs on her arm stood at end, and she
      slowly parted her lips, edgy but hungry in a way she didn't
      quite
      understand. There hadn't been this before. This feeling of doing
      something wrong, but something so completely right it could break
      her.

      His tongue touched the corner of her mouth, as if testing
      her, and something in her gave like a dam beneath a flood, breaking
      down. She wrapped both arms around his neck and kissed him back for
      all she was worth. He gave a hearty groan of encouragement, and
      guided her by the hand that held her nape, focusing all his energy
      on his tongue tangling with hers, on her heart beating against his.

      And then, like a tide, she was out of his arms, standing
      above him with her hands over her mouth. Water ran down her thighs,
      dripping from her chin, behaving like pearls of tears that clung to
      her eyelids. He panted as she stared down at him in horror, pale
      faced and trembling, as if she'd just done the absolute worst
      thing
      she could ever do.

      "Oh, fuck," she muttered to herself, backing further into
      the water. "Oh shit, Scott."

      "What?" He croaked, climbing awkwardly to his feet. His
      entire back was covered in wet sand. It fell off in clumps, plopping
      down behind him as he followed her, inexorably pulled by the swollen
      lips she was nervously biting. "What's wrong?"

      "What's wrong!" She screeched, outraged, like a proper
      southern belle. Her face flushed suddenly, filling with hot blood
      and she stormed toward him in wet splashes, hair falling out of the
      tie that had held it up. "You... stupid... stupid... Ahh!"

      Without the benefit speech, Rogue placed two hot hands on
      the center of his chest and shoved him. Hard. Scott stumbled back a
      few steps, but didn't fall. Hurt burned through him at her
      reaction,
      so dreadful and powerful that he felt sick, green raveling around
      his stomach and pulling tautly. She continued to advance on him,
      fists clenched.

      "You kissed me!" She yelled, stabbing his chest with a
      pointed finger.

      "Ow," he muttered distractedly, eyeing her face
      warily. "Rogue. Calm down."

      "I will not!" Her accent, which she had lost most of over
      the years, came back full force. "I'm going to roast you
      over an
      open fire, ya yank. I'm going to tie you up and hang you from
      your
      toes!"

      "Rogue!" He growled, when she continued poking him. Tears
      stung behind his eyelids and he blinked them back, anger rising up
      to take their place. "Stop!" To make sure she did so, he
      wrapped his
      hands around hers, holding himself out of reach for her
      fists. "You're acting like a maniac."

      Her eyes widened further, and then swept low, narrowing into
      dangerous slits. "I'm acting like a maniac? *I* didn't
      just kiss
      you, Scott Summers. You're the one that suddenly got all
      hormonal
      and insane. So you should retract that statement AND that kiss
      before I decide to do it for you by putting my knee in a place
      you'd
      rather not have it."

      Scott looked at her, hard, like he could drill through her
      skull and figure out the puzzle that was her brain. Rogue grew
      uncomfortable beneath the weight of his scrutiny, shifting around on
      her feet, crossing her arms over her chest. As she fidgeted, his
      face gradually turned to stone and he dropped his chin down against
      his chest, so that he could let out the stale breath dying inside
      his lungs.

      "Just an whim," he told her, and it wasn't a complete
      lie. "Won't happen again."

      The look on his face had something tearing apart in her chest.

      Rogue softened. "Scott..."

      "It won't happen again," he said once more, suddenly
      lifting
      his head and staring at her from behind the glasses. A stiff ache
      permeated his voice, making her feel sickly ashamed, like she'd
      cut
      down an already wounded man. There had never been a moment where she
      wanted to see his eyes more than she did right then, to see the truth.

      There was a stretch of silence where only the sound of the
      water splashing against their legs could be heard in the space
      between them. He waited for her to say something. When she
      didn't,
      he turned his face from her, lips pulling to the side. Inside her
      chest, her heart gave a single, throbbing ache, even though she
      didn't -couldn't- make a move.

      `Everything happened so fast,' she wanted to say. `How
      can I
      have hurt you already? This doesn't make sense. Look at me,
      Scott.
      Just look at me.'

      His lips parted, teeth clenched over his next words. "I
      promise."

      Rogue nodded, because there was nothing else for her to do.
      She swallowed hard, feeling dangerously nauseous, a blaze of heat
      burning her cheeks. Scott turned his back on her, walking toward the
      shore, and she only stood there, the waves coming and going between
      her planted feet.

      * * * *

      Scott kept his mind blank as he entered the large bathroom
      on the ground floor of the house. The door closed behind him with a
      quiet click, and he tracked wet sand across the clean floor
      carelessly. It was something he might have been anal about at any
      other time, but right then he could give a damn if he stained the
      floor permanently with his footprints.

      He unsnapped his jeans while staring sightlessly toward the
      high window, outside where the sun still burned hotly and Rogue
      probably still stood on the beach, shocked by his behavior. A stab
      of pain shocked him into fumbling his zipper down, nearly causing
      himself bodily harm. Scott tried once more to block out the thought
      of her as the shorts dropped to the floor with a wet plop.

      Stepping out of the shorts, he reached past the shower
      curtain and turned the water on so high that it snapped out like
      wet, biting bullets. He had to get this sand off of him, before he
      went crazy from all the places it was making him itch. Feet, thighs,
      back, stomach... heart. Scott, satisfied with the temperature of the
      water, stepped inside the shower and ducked beneath the scalding
      spray.

      The water pounded against his scalp, and God, he couldn't
      block her out completely. That was his problem, had been his problem
      since that one time he woke up with her beside him, and it had all
      just clicked into place.

      He had kissed her. She had kissed him back.

      Scott hissed as he turned the water a notch hotter.

      * * * *

      The air was dry and she was a coward. Simple as that. But
      then, as Logan said, running wasn't cowardly, just
      self-preserving.
      Logan had been drunk when he spouted that bit of wisdom, so maybe
      he'd been lying too.

      Instead of facing up to Scott like an adult, Rogue slipped
      into her skirt, wrapping it tightly around her waist, and took a
      walk. The sand was soft beneath her bare feet, like walking on silk,
      but an unbearable loneliness had swept over her at his absence.
      Tears pricked her eyes, stinging like a thousand sharp little pins
      were jabbing at the sensitive flesh behind her nose. She sunk with
      the weight of it, feet first into the sand, as she walked further
      and further away from the house, until it was a dot in the distance
      and she was a mile down the beach.

      Away. Alone. So *good* at alone.

      And maybe... stirred.

      There had been passion in his kiss. The type of repressed
      desire that ate away at the soul, until there was nothing, and their
      center had shifted over to the person they had kissed. Her. Rogue
      stopped walking, winded by the mere thought of him feeling anything
      for her. It couldn't be. She wouldn't let it be.

      "It didn't happen," she muttered to herself, razing a
      hand
      over her forehead as if to wipe the thought away. "Scott
      didn't just
      maul me."

      Rogue stopped walking, staring forlornly at her toes curling
      into the sand. Scott had once told her that she had ugly feet. At
      first, she'd felt insulted, but then he had mentioned that
      he'd read
      somewhere that all dancers have ugly feet. Strong. Large. Angular.
      It meant that she could move fast and gracefully in even the most
      awkward of situations. Except for the situations where her best
      friend attacked her.

      She was being unfair. It hadn't been an attack. It had been
      holding, caressing. It had been heat, pleasure, friendship,
      familiarity, wildness... God, STOP. She forced herself to take a
      breath. A deep one. As she did, she looked over at a little girl
      sitting in the sand with a red bucket in hand. It was then, with the
      little girl staring at her with wide eyes full of incomprehension,
      that she realized she'd been talking out loud the whole time.

      Embarrassing? Yes.

      "Was I just talking to myself?" Rogue asked the little girl,

      feeling the blush crawl up from her chest, suffusing her face with
      heat.

      The little girl blinked, and then stood, running off down
      the beach toward a woman Rogue assumed was the child's mother.

      Pivoting quickly, kicking up sand as she did so, Rogue began
      to walk back toward the beach house. She told herself that once she
      got there, she'd know what to say. That the words would just
      roll
      off her tongue and everything would be okay between them again. And
      yes, she was lying to herself, but she'd let herself live in the
      land of denial just a little while longer. It was safe, and it was
      quiet, and it oddly resembled Scott when he was sleeping.

      Shaking the image out of her head, she spotted a pretty
      shell from the corner of her eye. It sparked a memory in her, and
      she stopped, bending down to look at it closer. She found that it
      had sharp silver-colored specks glittering from its surface, while
      on the inside it was as smooth and glassy as porcelain. Rogue dipped
      her fingers beneath it, lifting it from the sand and closer to her
      face. Lovely. The way it shone reminded her of a bracelet Scott had
      bought her a year back for her birthday. She'd hardly worn it
      since,
      because it looked so expensive and breakable that she hadn't
      dared
      to keep it on for more than five minutes at a time. With the lives
      they led, one couldn't be too careful. Besides, a secret part of
      her
      had been too pleased by the gift, and she couldn't have that.

      Rubbing her fingertips across the rough surface of the
      shell, Rogue plopped down in the sand, facing the ocean. The ground
      beneath her was hot, sand catching inside the folds of her wrap-
      around skirt, and burning her thighs. She wiggled into a more
      comfortable position, situating the cloth so that she sat on it, and
      not on the sand.

      Why had he brought her here? Why *really*?

      She shook her head, not sure if she wanted to know the
      answer. She could have continued her journey back to where Scott
      undoubtedly waited for her return and asked him for the truth, but
      instead she held the sea shell up to her ear and listened to the
      hollow humming of the ocean. Closing her eyes, she let it warm the
      back of her throat and just... sat.

      It was a good hour and a half later when she finally
      approached the beach house. It loomed before her, rickety green-
      shingles, paint-chipped porch, and streaked glass windows, with the
      sun setting across its face. Rogue rubbed her hands together
      nervously and took the porch steps slowly, one at a time, anxiety
      riding low in her stomach. She was surprised to find a tablecloth
      laid out across the picnic table on the porch, a candle lit in the
      center, paper plates surrounding the arrangement.

      The screen door creaked open, and Rogue's eyes jerked toward
      the sound. She swallowed at the sight of Scott standing there,
      looking freshly showered, holding the door open with one hand, and a
      tray of sandwiches with the other. There was nothing for her to read
      on his face.

      "You were gone for a long time," Scott observed, eyes
      tracing over her features. He wondered, briefly, if she'd been
      crying.

      Rogue shrugged. "I lost track of time." She held up the
      shell as if it was an explanation itself and Scott nodded, accepting
      the gesture. He let the door slam shut behind him and strode over to
      the picnic table, setting the tray down on its surface.

      She cautiously approached him, halting when she was two feet
      away from where he stood with his back to her. "What's all
      this?"

      He looked at her over his shoulder. "A peace offering,"
      Scott said plainly. The waves washed toward the shore at their
      right, burnishing the edges of his words with the hissing sound of
      water meeting earth. He placed the sandwiches on the paper plates,
      and then turned to her, dusting breadcrumbs from his palms. A
      certain sharpness covered his chin. "The question is whether or
      not
      I'll be forgiven."

      Ouch. Rogue tried for a smile. "Scott, staying mad at you is
      like beating my head against a brick wall just because it's in my
      way."

      His mouth tipped up at the edges. "Are you saying I'm hard
      headed?"

      Rogue chuckled, and said, "You were the one that said it. I
      only implied." When he gave in gracefully with a dip of his head,
      and stretched an arm out at his side, gesturing for her to take a
      seat on the picnic table's bench, she stepped past him, sitting
      down. "So, is this gourmet food or should I expect a trip to the
      hospital this evening?"

      Scott sat opposite of her, and picked up his sandwich. "Live
      dangerously, Rogue."

      Funny, she thought. Between the candle light, the setting
      sun, and the repressed expression he wore, she kind of thought she
      was.

      "We should go shopping tomorrow," Rogue suggested around a
      mouthful of her peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When he looked up
      curiously, she placed a hand over her mouth and swallowed. "I
      want
      to go back with a tan, a smile, and an outfit to knock everyone
      right out of their socks."

      "You don't need an outfit for that," Scott replied,
      watching
      her over the flickering flame of the candle. She noticed the glint
      of it across his visor and the way it sliced across his cheekbones,
      highlighting their sharpness.

      "It's a vanity thing," she explained, setting her half-
      finished sandwich onto the plate. "You know how I am. Pretty
      clothes
      became a skin to me."

      Scott's face didn't change. "You're pretty without
      your
      clothes."

      Rogue blinked, swallowed, and then flushed. Scott realizing,
      what he had said backpedaled quickly, stumbling over his words.
      "No.
      No! I didn't mean it like that! I only meant... I meant
      that..."
      Foiled by his own nervousness, he blew out a breath. "I was
      trying
      to pay you a compliment."

      "Well, it certainly was one, though I'd like to know when
      you've seen me naked," she teased, gently. But her heart
      wasn't in
      it. "Scott," she began, seriously and waited to continue
      until he
      stopped shifting around like he had bugs beneath his skin. "Why
      did
      you really bring me here?"

      "I already told you."

      When he moved to take another sandwich from the tray, she
      grabbed his hand, digging her fingers into the back of it. His lips
      parted, the tips of his teeth glinting at her across the table.
      Slowly, he uncurled her fingers from him, careful of the candle
      inches away from their skin, and pulled back.

      "I didn't bring you here to seduce you, if that's what
      you're implying," Scott stated darkly, jaw tensed.

      Rogue felt her stomach rise and bump against her heart. "No,
      I didn't mean..." Now it was she that backpedaled, but from
      the look
      on his face, it was far too late for that. "Scott, I didn't
      mean it
      like that."

      He pressed his tongue against the inside of his bottom lip,
      shaking his head with mirthless humor. "You... you drive me
      crazy,
      Rogue. Nuts. Sometimes I feel like I could just grab you and *shake*
      you. Others..." Scott trailed off, voice coarsening.

      "I don't know what you're talking about," she said,
      desperately. Her fingers trembled finely as she flattened them
      against the table, pushing herself off the bench. "You're
      not making
      any sense. Is this about earlier?" She raised her hand when he
      would
      have answered, stopping him. "No, never mind. I don't want
      to know.
      I'll be back later." Rogue turned, stalking toward the
      steps. What
      he had said... she wouldn't think about it. She should have
      waited
      to come back.

      Before she even made it to the top step, strong fingers
      curled around her bare shoulder, pulling her up short. She tried to
      shrug them off, but another clamped around her upper arm, and Scott
      spun her around to face him. Rogue took a sharp step back at the
      sight of his flushed, angry face, and slammed into the beam holding
      up the porch's roof. "Dammit, Scott!" She shoved his
      hands away from
      her. "You're acting like an idiot."

      "Me?" Scott growled, taking a step forward until his clothed

      body pressed against hers, until the air from his mouth brushed
      hotly across her cheek. His hands came up, wrapping around the poll
      behind her so that she couldn't walk away from him. "At
      least I face
      up to reality, to the truth. You just sit with your head in the
      sand, pretending like none of this even exists."

      She tried to push out of his arms, but he only pressed in
      tighter, until she could barely breath. "Let me go," she
      urged, a
      warning hanging on the back of her tongue.

      "Not just yet." He pressed his cheek against hers, and the
      visor dug into her temple. Cold. Hard. A sharp reminder that this
      was Scott's body making her stomach muscles melt into a confused
      mess of a puddle. "You see," he whispered, breath warm on
      her chin
      as his head tipped down and his lips dragged very lightly across her
      skin. "I may not have brought you here to seduce you, but I
      wouldn't
      be opposed to it, if that's what happens."

      Rogue shivered, before biting down on the reaction and
      forcing her body into complete stillness. "What the fuck are you
      talking about?" She demanded.

      Scott shrugged, and the motion made his chest rub against
      hers. Her breath caught in her throat, backing up her air supply
      until she thought she might choke.

      "I'm talking about the fact that I've wanted you, badly,
      for
      nearly two years now." A revelation that could devastate.
      "And if
      you're suddenly seeing me as a sexual creature, I'm not
      averse to
      the idea." He stepped back, just a little, and she could see the
      tension in the line curled thinly around his nostril. "But Good
      lord, Rogue, I'm not trying to force you into my bed. You'll
      come to
      me when you're ready to be there."

      Anger filled her veins, blood surging to the surface of her
      skin, propelling her into motion. Lunging at him, she shoved her
      palms against the stone wall of his chest, forcing him back farther.
      He grunted, lips pursing as he fought her struggling, grasping her
      wrists finally and pushing her away from him with a sharp jerk. Her
      head fell back, hair slapping across the side of her cheek, and she
      glared at him.

      "You're so fucking self-assured," she growled, hating
      him
      more than she'd ever hated anyone before. "Me going to your
      bed?
      That's arrogant."

      "No." He shook his head. "It's inevitable." With
      that, he
      released her. She stumbled before she could help it, grabbing onto
      the porch railing so that she wouldn't fall. He raised an
      eyebrow. "Now, if you'll excuse me, it's been a long,
      emotionally
      exhausting day. I think I'm more than ready to retire."

      "To retire?" She spat. "Were you raised in a tea
      room?"

      Scott said nothing, turning away from her and striding
      toward the screen door. She watched, furious, as he pulled it open
      and let it slam shut behind him. She flinched at the noise, raising
      a hand to her heart. After a moment where she stared at the closed
      door like it was going to jump off its hinges and attack her, Rogue
      dragged herself over to the picnic table and sat back down.

      Brooding, still flustered with fury, she glared at the flame
      on the wick of the candlestick. It flickered, as if giving her the
      finger, and Rogue leaned forward, blowing the tiny flame out with
      the hard air rumbling around inside of her mouth. Smoke rose
      pitifully from the crisp wick, curling into the air in thin strings.

      Dropping her face into her hands, a quiet shudder escaped
      her. She'd never expected this from him. The way he had spoken
      to
      her, the harsh scrape of his voice in the air that had spoken of
      waiting. His lips touching her in something other than those softly
      shared holiday pecks on the mouth. None of it. She hadn't
      expected
      any of it.

      Should she have?

      Rogue racked her brain, searching for some clue she had
      missed. Certainly they had flirted madly at times, but that was who
      she was, and by default, who she was with him. She didn't
      remember
      him ever showing the mildest sign of interest in her. He'd only
      been
      there for her. All these years, he'd been the most sincere,
      beautiful, amazing person in her realm. He'd dealt roughly with
      the
      death of the love of his life. For months, he'd carried on like
      a
      zombie, sickly looking and desperate. And then, when he'd drunk
      himself into a hole, he dug himself out. She'd watched, from
      afar,
      as he turned himself into the man he was today. She'd admired
      him
      and maybe even developed a small crush. Before she left for college,
      she'd grown the courage to speak with him on a more intimate
      level
      and from only that, he'd accepted her into his life.

      She'd felt... cherished. Nothing more. That was enough. It
      was everything.

      "And now?"

      Her own voice shocked her. Rogue lifted her head out of her
      hands and stared blankly at the paint-chipped wall before her.

      And now?

      Now she felt overwhelmed. Because she was picking out
      segmented moments that could mean something, soft words that had
      hinted, dark looks that might have suggested if she hadn't been
      so
      oblivious, she would have known. Beneath all of that, the surprise
      and the self-recriminations, a very real anger began to boil. Sex-
      hot, it fingered her thighs, gripped her stomach, and chewed in her
      mouth.

      Scott had kept this from her. THIS of all things. She could
      hate him. It was unfair, but she could hate him for this. Glowing
      from the anger, breathing hard, she stood and tried to calm herself
      by clearing off the table. There were no satisfying clinks when the
      paper plates were put on top of each other, and Rogue found her ire
      growing. Adrenaline flooded her veins, and abruptly, she lifted the
      entire tray, where she had piled the mess, and tossed it over the
      porch railing.

      It landed with a crash on the sand.

      Now *that* was satisfying.

      * * * *

      End 2/3
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