Title: The Road Away From Heartache

Author: Princess Twilite (princesstwilite2@aol.com)

Rating: R

Summary: "I didn't fall in love with Rogue because it was time to let go of Jean." "Looks kinda
like that from where I'm standing..." "No, Logan, you've got it all wrong. I let go of Jean... and
then I fell in love with Rogue."

Pairings: Scott/Rogue, Rogue/Bobby, Scott/Jean, slight Rogue/Logan.

Spoilers: Post X-Men 2: The Movie

Beta Readers (this chapter): A.J., Alex Dollard

WARNING! X-MEN 2: The Movie Spoilers ahead! You've been warned!!

A/N: Well, I went, saw the movie, and came out with the urge to write a really Scott/Rogue
oriented novel. It can't be explained. So, I figured if I was going to do it, I was going to do it
right. This is really heavy with the Scott/Jean and Rogue/Bobby as well, but make no mistake -
Scott/Rogue. To the core. VERY Rogue focused, as well as Scott focused. Other characters will
be making their appearances, but for necessity sake, must be delegated to the background while
these two are the ones to shine.

A/N 2: A chapter will be posted each week, that way it doesn't strain my beta readers. But hey,
each chapter is fairly long, so there's filling.
Feedback: um, yes? Please. The critical should be sent off list.

* * *
The Road Away From Heartache
by Princess Twilite
Chapter One (1/15)
These days, grief intertwined with hope and fear, and tasted like apple pie heating in the kitchen.
She had sat one day, speaking with Ororo in a quiet voice, about how her mother had never really
cared for apple pie, but had always made it anyway, because Marie (and she'd once loved her
own name) had adored it.

Ororo had taken her hand and told her that Jean liked apple pie too.

For a moment, Rogue had felt like a simple child with absolutely no bearings, touched by
something deeper and older than she could ever possibly understand. Death was big and wide,
and something loomed even wider, tasting like war, metal, and pie.
* * *
Rogue was occasionally fascinated by her own skin. When she sat by her window in the
moonlight without her gloves, pressing her palm against the glass, testing the slickness of the
surface, the fascination grew more acute. The moon glittered through the trees, cut in half by
branches swaying at the will of breaking wind, hushing through the leaves.

The gloves rested half on the back of the chair, flat fingers drifting ever closer to the floor as she
shifted on the cushions, thrusting the silk away from her with the sharp outline of her shoulders.
Bobby had taught her how to be cold, she thought ironically, pulling her fingers away from the
glass and brushing the tips across the smooth skin of her cheek.

Bobby taught her every day what it was like to constantly be on the edge of freezing, hungry for
something warm to fill you up. She'd taken him into herself, sucked at his soul through his
strangely heated lips and now, when he looked at her, she knew what he was feeling. The burning
ache she made inside his heart, which twisted inside her own chest now. How could she tell him,
when he felt so intensely, that she wasn't sure if what she felt for him was real or possibly only a
reflection for how he felt when it came to her?

He... loved her. She couldn't quite get over it, and she knew it frustrated him to no end.

Taking her hand away from her face, Rogue leaned forward and tested the glass with her
forehead, staring hard outside and thinking about how easy it would be to just go away again,
slipping into the quiet grays of her life on the run. Easy, but not really, because she didn't want to
leave so much as she wanted to escape the ties that were making her care enough to stay.

There was a movement out in the garden. Rogue's breath caught and she pressed her forehead
harder against the glass, peering into the yard below. Clouds slipped over the moon, blackening
the sky, creeping into the edges and turning the shadows into a solid wall that she couldn't look
through. Maybe she'd imagined the movement, to distract her own mind from the cowardly
thoughts that burned there.

Grief was too permanent, and everyone around her had a face full of it. She could feel it in her
own expression, weighing down her features, when the clouds passed and the garden was
suddenly awash in silver light. She caught the shape of visor, glinting red, and knew who stood
there, like a crumbling statue waiting for his artist to come back and finish him off.

Cyclops. Scott. Too many names and she'd barely ever spoken to him, but knew him anyway, in
the weird way you know the people you always see from the corner of your eye. Sitting there, in
her large, comfortable chair with her face pressed against the glass, she suddenly ached for him.

Jean was gone. There was no changing that, and yet he stood there, like there MUST be a way. In
his shoulders, a *someday* just waiting to happen.

Rogue found herself standing, still looking through the window at him wearing moonlight on his
back, as she slipped on her gloves, hiding her deadly skin. She didn't know exactly what she
could say to him. After all, nothing would console him, but she understood loss and grief better
than she wanted to. The floorboards creaked as she slipped out of the room she shared with
Jubilee and she heard the other girl snort in her sleep, tossing on the bed. Rogue didn't look back,
but closed the door gently behind her, with little more than a quiet click as the metal caught and

The hallways seemed longer at night, like something out of a Hitchcock movie.

They twisted, turned, and the stairs were hard beneath her sock covered feet. A part of her hoped
that all the time she was taking, being careful not to wake anyone, would end with Scott being
gone from the garden. He wouldn't want to speak to her, not when he didn't know her and
probably thought of her like a little lost orphan girl, a child compared to him. But he wasn't gone.
He was standing just as stiffly when she had opened the door to the garden and closed it behind
her, taking the cold night air into her lungs.

The night smelled of fresh cut grass, making her nostrils twitch. Grief had a smell now too. Or
maybe she was just a little more fanciful than she let on.

Scott turned, just his head, when Rogue was about ten feet behind him, walking across the grass.
It always unnerved her that she couldn't see his eyes, even when she knew he was looking at her.
But the stone set of his jaw was enough to read his expression.

It said, loud and clearly, that she shouldn't have come.

Pebbles weighed down her heart. "I'm sorry." She had blurted the words out, whistled nearly,
breath backing up. So bad with emotion. "I saw you and I wanted to say that." Even though she
hadn't known that until she'd seen the way his mouth was faded into a thin line of sorrow. "You
two were... I'm sorry."

His jaw clenched, shoulders twitching, hunching down. "You should be in bed, Rogue. It's late
and I know you have class early in the morning."

She raised an eyebrow, but caught herself before asking how he knew. Of course he knew. He
was Scott after all. A part of Logan that insisted on lingering in her mind whispered mockingly in
her ear that the Fearless Leader knew absolutely everything.

"Yea', I do." Rogue knotted her fingers together in front of her, pressing them to her gut,
gathering courage. "I liked her, ya know. I mean, I didn't know her that well, but she had the
prettiest red hair."

"Yes." Scott turned his gaze back toward the sky. "But everything's red to me. I couldn't really
see it."

Click. Grief kicking back into place. Rogue swallowed and stepped toward him, the wet grass
staining her socks, water absorbing through the cotton and freezing her toes. She had that queasy,
*not-quite-there* feeling in her stomach as she reached up and touched the visor he used to keep
his power under control. He flinched as if she'd bitten him, grabbing her hand firmly but
carefully, pushing it down to her waist.

"What are you doing?" he demanded in a flat voice.

Rogue twisted her wrist free from his grasp, still unused to being touched, even with all the
touching Bobby did. His lips parted slightly, in realization, and his hand dropped to his side.

"I just want to show you something," Rogue said. She reached up again, almost smiling when he
backed away. Yes, she understood something about grief, and there were small ways to make it
better. She reached for his visor again, and once more, he stumbled back, mouth frowning.
"Honestly. It won't hurt, I promise."

Scott opened his mouth, taking a breath as if to argue.

"Close your eyes," Rogue ordered, just as she took away the visor. He did so automatically,
entire body tensing as if she'd just killed them both. She saw his teeth clench together violently, a
hiss breaking through, saying more than if he'd been able to argue.

Looking down at the visor in her hand, she turned it left, then right, before slipping it onto her
face. A slow throbbing began at her temples as she stared through the lenses, seeing the night in
dark shades of red. Rogue blinked a few times, trying to get used to the new way of looking at
the world. And then she smiled, brightly, and took the visor off, handing it to his outstretched,
seeking hand.

Scott took it back with a sigh of relief, immediately putting the visor where it belonged, on his
face. His teeth were still clenched as he looked over at her, and she knew he was probably glaring
at her behind the obstruction he always wore.

"Do you mind telling me what that was all about? I came out here to be alone, not to nearly kill
one of my students."

But Rogue was still smiling. "You said you couldn't see her hair."

Scott's eyebrows furrowed, lips closing into that familiar line, and he continued to look at her. "I

"Well, I know you're an elder and all," she said softly, "But the way you see the world? That's
the exact color of her hair."

Scott's face loosened, became soft, light with the moon. He swallowed, as if taking the
information inside of him. Then he nodded, just a dip of his chin.

Rogue's smile fell away in the face of his expression, because she really didn't belong out here,
even if she'd felt the urge to make him okay and 'fearless' again. This wasn't her place, seeing
him like this. Time to give back his solitude. She walked away, surprised to hear him softly call
after her when she'd reached the doors to the mansion. She pivoted on the stairs, the grain of the
cement rough on her feet, looking at him alone in the middle of the garden... alone like she'd
never seen him before. It was uncomfortable, waiting in silence for him to speak.

"Thank you," he said. Simply.

Rogue nodded. And then she slipped back into the mansion, contemplating the idea of taking a
nice big bite of that uneaten apple pie.
* * *
Bobby stroked her left shoulder while they talked, a constant motion that lulled her. They sat on
the steps outside of the school, eating their lunch and watching the younger children play.
Everyone was still a little shaky from the recent attack, worry showing in faltering steps and eyes
darting at loud sounds. Rogue was caught in the blister of it all, remembering Logan dropping
from nowhere, slicing men in two and their bodies falling limply to the floor.

After it all, the confusion, the death, Bobby had asked her, "Are you in love with him?"

"Him?" She'd replied, confused. "Who's 'him'?"

"Wolverine," he'd said. A tense frown crinkled the sweet lines of his face and he'd tapped a
pencil against the table in the library. Rogue had narrowed her eyes when the pencil began to

"Don't be stupid," she'd bitten out, a slice of heated anger breaking off in the face of his cool
behavior. The irony wasn't lost on her. "I had a crush. He saved my life, Bobby. I think I'm
entitled to caring for him, don't you?"

"So you don't?" He'd glanced at her, with those hungry eyes of his that made her worry at how
quickly things were happening between them. *Scared* her because he actually gave a damn
about her.

"No, Bobby. I'm not in love with Logan. I wish you'd stop thinking it."

"Okay." He had blown out a breath, dropping the frozen pencil onto the table. "Okay."

And now the finger, brushing back and forth, slipping over her shoulder blade, up around, near
her neck, near the skin. Always so intense. Bobby, the boy next door, was a lot hotter than the

"I don't know," Rogue muttered, shivering a little. He paused, pulled back.

"Don't know what?"

"Huh?" She asked, confused, and then shook her head. "Oh, about the tension lately. I don't
know when we're gonna get over this. It's frustrating." Rogue reached back and took his fingers
into her gloved hand, pressing them back into her shoulder, trying to convey that it was okay, she
liked it.

"It's hard," he confirmed, once more stroking her. She smiled softly, glancing at him with veiled
eyes. His eyes widened briefly, before he laughed, stilted and nervous. "That too."

Cute, she thought, cute.

Rogue patted his hand. "Kidding, Sugar." Feeling strangely connected to him with the children
running around them and the gray clouds rolling into the sky above, she laced their fingers
together. "What I mean is... I just don't want to feel like this, ya know?" She squeezed his palm
in emphasis, because yes, he *did* know. "Any moment, I feel like the earth is going to drop out
from beneath my feet and I'm gonna be floating around in space."

Bobby said nothing, searching her eyes. Rogue's head pulled back, just the slightest, in response.
He got like this at the oddest times, and it was like they were talking on a whole different level.
"Like you can't breathe?" He whispered, as if they shared a secret. "Like one day you're going to
wake up and not have a heart anymore?"

Her heart, the one they spoke of, throbbed painfully, and suddenly their connection was too
much. She flexed her fingers, freeing her hand. Bobby's hung there, fingers splayed in the air, an
expression of confusion moving as slowly across his face as the clouds above them moved across
the sky.

"Yeah," Rogue said anxiously, not breaking his gaze, hoping he'd understand even if she didn't,
not completely. "Kinda like that."

Bobby's eyes cleared, moved into that pure blue that made her ache inside, a line between them
that twisted and tugged. He moved in swiftly, before she could stop him, and stole one dangerous
kiss, nipping at her mouth. She felt the brief swipe of his tongue. He pulled away just as quickly,
and she was left gasping, lips parted, staring addlebrained into his gaze.

"Bobby..." she began, and stopped, not knowing what to say.

"You don't want to hurt me," he said, and she frowned. "Well, you won't. Because as much as
you try to make me, Rogue, I'm not going anywhere."

The way he said it, so sure, so very sincere, had her looking away, at Siren who had suddenly
laughed loudly, a splintering sound of joy that slapped ears sharply and left Rogue dizzy.
* * *
Rogue nervously entered the math classroom, skirting around the edge of other people, sliding
into the seat of her familiar desk in the back row. She set her textbook onto the wooden surface,
tucked her skirt beneath her thighs, and slumped a little.

Scott taught this class.

Peering cautiously around the head of the student in front of her, she saw that he was at the front
of the class, writing numbers on the chalkboard. He wore his usual resolute air. She'd thought
more than once that math fit him. Numbers were precise. They never changed. You could count
on them, no matter what. A moment later, when the final student had entered, Scott faced the
class. Rogue moved back sharply, glad for the first time that Shaun, the boy in front of her, had
such a fat head. After the previous night, she wasn't eager to be noticed by Scott.

"Afternoon, class," he said, placing his hands together and clapping loudly to get everyone's
attention. There were a few 'Afternoon Mr. Summers' in return, mumbled sporadically in the
room. Rogue remained quiet, casually opening her notebook to a blank page, preparing for the
notes she would no doubt have to take.

Scott, as usual, jumped straight into the deep waters, starting where they had left off in the last
class. He worked through the problem he had created on the board, showing his work, going
through the steps with everyone and explaining how he had come to his solution. Rogue took
notes idly, busy wondering how he could do it, act so calm when only the night before, he'd worn
the face of a broken man. 'Fearless leader' indeed, she thought wryly, stronger than she'd ever

It wasn't until he had begun moving down the aisles, passing back their latest test, that she
caught the signs of weariness on his face. Tired lines stretched around his mouth. She quickly
pulled her gaze away from him when he turned in her direction, just a casual glance landing on
her that had her heart thumping sickeningly in her chest.

Last night she'd seen him near tears. And as much as she told herself she hadn't overstepped her
territory, she felt oddly out of place under his concealed gaze.

A moment later, a hand appeared in her line of sight, and a paper was sat face down onto her
desk. Rogue looked up, finding Scott at her side, a small smile on his lips.

"You did well," he said quietly. Rogue nodded dumbly, not sure what to say. Scott remained, for
a moment longer than he had with the others, standing silently beside her desk. Rogue
swallowed, feeling strangely guilty for knowing more about his grief than she should. Was he
angry? She might have asked, though probably not, but he suddenly moved away, heading back
to his place in front of the class, like he hadn't just spoken to her like a friend instead of a

Rogue blinked and turned over her test, staring at the B+ written at the top in red, red ink. She
looked up, found him facing her, but couldn't tell if his eyes were on her because of his glasses.
Below the B+, written clearly: "See me after class."

Yeah, he was probably angry.
* * *
By the time math class was over (each session lasted two hours and they met three times a week),
Rogue had almost talked herself into slipping out the door anyway. After all, Bobby would
probably be waiting outside, and that was reason enough to blow off Scott's request. Then again,
he was her teacher. Just because she had seen him vulnerable a time or two didn't make her
different from any other student he taught.

She tucked the books and pencil into her bag, and then walked toward the front of the room,
where Scott was sitting behind his desk, waiting for her patiently, with his fingers laced together,
hands resting casually on his stomach. Crossing her arms over her chest, she stood on the other
side of the desk.

"Yes, Mr. Summers?"

Scott tilted his head to the side, eyebrows drawn together above his shades. "I believe it would be
appropriate for you to call me Scott."

Feeling admonished and more out of place than ever, Rogue tightened her arms around her torso,
shaking her head. "I was always taught that it's rude to call a teacher by their first name."

"Rogue," Scott said quietly, "Not only have we been on a mission together..." He stopped, voice
catching on a rough patch of memory about just how bad that mission had gone. "You've also
seen me during... inopportune moments. You've always been a bit more than a student around
here. Trust me."

Rogue nodded her head, if only to pacify him. "Yes, Mr... Scott."

"Better." Scott shifted in the chair, leaning back and regarding her seriously. "About last night..."

"I'm sorry," she burst out, much like the night before. "I shouldn't have bothered you, I know it. I
was raised better than that, but you just looked so sad and alone..."

"Rogue," he interceded. "It's okay. I didn't request your presence to lecture you on proper
student-teacher behavior, though I should say to you that you shouldn't be wandering around
alone that late at night in the first place, but we'll leave that be for the moment." He smiled, not
grandly, but a low key, half-there grin of self-awareness. "For the moment. I wanted to thank you

"For what?" Even though she knew. Obviously, he wanted to tell her.

"For giving me what no one else did," he replied in a wistful voice. "Something back."

Rogue's eyes clouded over, and she hid them, staring down at her scuffed black combat boots.
She pushed the toe against the edge of his desk, uneasy in the silence. Since she'd come to the
mansion, everyone had been so kind to her, so giving and understanding and NORMAL about it
all. But even though she'd had a unique bond with the adults and the X-men team, she hadn't
spent a whole lot of time participating in heart to hearts with them. In fact, the only person she'd
even broached anything close to depth with had been Bobby, Logan, and occasionally Storm. But
Storm was hard to speak with because they didn't know each other that well yet, and Logan, well
as much as he was around these days, she'd had a hard enough time dealing with Bobby's
jealously of the man, and she didn't care to risk losing him over it.

"You don't need to thank me again," Rogue responded, still looking at her toes. Her hair fell
forward, veiling half her face and shading her eyes. "I just thought maybe you'd needed some
company or something. I really shouldn't have..."

"Not that again."

She looked up, pushing her hair back. "Yeah, said that huh? Um, anyway, you're welcome." She
smiled, trying to break the tension building in her chest. How could she tell him that she felt
partly responsible, that if she'd just been able to get the craft down easier, they'd been gone in
time? How could she tell him that she hadn't quite liked Jean in the first place, even though she'd
been nice enough, because of one really big crush she'd had on Logan?

She couldn't tell him. *Couldn't*.

Guilt made her back away from the desk, her smile turning shaky. He watched her curiously, still
frowning. Rogue cleared her throat. "Just... it was nothing, all right? No more thanking me."

After a moment, he nodded, and that was that. He bent over his desk and went to work on
grading homework, and Rogue slipped out of the classroom, meeting Bobby who was waiting
outside. She hoped they fell back into their normal roles quickly. It was hard as hell being a
kinda-friend to your teacher.
* * *
A level of excitement worked its way through the halls of the mansion, worming into the corners
and falling from the eyes of the adults. A level of tension that couldn't be hidden. Classes were
postponed, excuses handed out, and everyone was told nothing was going on.

Nothing. *Right*.

Rogue stared at the clock in the cafeteria, and then looked over at the table near the window,
where all the X-Men sat. Storm glanced over once, knowing Rogue knew exactly what was going

"Let's go Cyke," she heard Logan growl, standing impatiently at the edge of the table. Scott took
a slow bite of his pudding, nodding his head. When he stood, there was a strange expression of
hesitancy on his face. First mission since... that one mission that had taken everything from him.

Rogue looked away. Guilt turned her face red.

"Hey," Bobby said, patting her knee. "We can't go every time, ya know. That's a bit down the
line... we still have a lot to learn."
* * *
"No... No, mom, just listen to me. Listen... please, mom?"

Rogue stared at the written-in pages of her text book while Bobby talked to his mom on the
lounge phone. The cracking in his voice made her stomach twist into knots. Giving up on trying
to pretend she wasn't listening, she leaned over and grabbed his hand in a vice grip. He looked at
her in misery, holding her palm tightly against his stomach.

"I can't help what I am," he said in a hoarse voice, blinking back tears. "Any more than I can
help that I'm your son. It's just who I am. Mom?"

Rogue watched his face intently, the fine trembling of his mouth, the way the skin stretched
tautly over his cheekbones, and prayed his mother would realize just what she'd be giving up if
she didn't accept him.

"Don't hang up. Don't..."

His face flinched, and Rogue's heart thumped unpleasantly in sympathy. She'd hung up on him.
His mother, the woman who had given birth to him had cut him out, left him hanging onto the
phone, freezing its plastic surface. Bobby's eyes stared blankly at the wall for a moment before
they turned toward her, a lost look in their depths, something hazy and tortured waiting there.
Rogue made a soft sound in her throat and touched the back of his neck with the gloved fingers
of her other hand, pulling until his forehead was pressed into her cloth covered shoulders and she
could press their cheeks together with the protection of her hair.

Bobby didn't fight her tug, came easily, blindly dropping the frozen phone and reaching out to
wrap his arms around her waist, tucking their bodies together as heartbreak began to make him

Rogue stared absently at the ceiling while she rocked him, not knowing how to comfort him, not
knowing if there was even a way at all. What do you say to someone when their mother just picks
up and goes away? Probably the same thing someone could have said when she'd picked up and
gone away herself. Absolutely nothing.

In the distance, she heard the sound of a plane descending, the rumbling noise of returning
fighters, weary and bloody. She closed her eyes and pressed her cheek harder against her
* * *
Life was something to think about, too much when she was trying to sleep and the weight of her
blanket was making her nightgown-covered thighs itch like something was biting her. When the
weather was hot and the air conditioning was broke, when Jubilee was snoring like a tiger, and it
felt like a fly was buzzing around her ear, constantly waking her up when she'd just gotten to the
point where maybe... MAYBE... she could sleep...

If she got wrapped up in thought, she started thinking about her skin, about dying, about the
dead. Her thoughts would drift on about Jean and Scott, about fatal love, about how Bobby's
kisses tasted, and about those people she'd sucked inside her with her deadly skin. She was fatal.
She wasn't sure about love. She cared...

Sometimes she thought about Pyro, wearing that constantly conflicted - wanting more than *this*
life - face of his. And then she'd remember the way he tossed fire at those people, who hadn't
been exactly friendly-like, no, but hadn't understood either.

She remembered the smell of their flesh burning, and how she'd pushed up his pant leg and
grabbed onto his ankle, skin prickled with hair, standing on end... How his life started pouring
into her, and she'd stared out at the orange flames, pulling all the fire back away, manipulating it
as he'd done.

And now she had Pyro in her head because of it, though he was starting to fade a little as the
weeks passed. Sometimes when Bobby came in for a quick kiss that she was never prepared for;
the biting, fear-filled gotta-do-it type, she could hear Pyro in the back of her head, making
kissing-noises and joking about teenage pregnancy.

Sometimes... she wished she had a chance to miss him. But he was in her head, always there.
Somewhere. She didn't tell Bobby, as sweet as he was. She didn't tell anyone.

It was keeping her awake tonight. Rogue, frustrated that sleep still alluded her, kicked the
blankets toward the end of the bed, and slapped the back of her head against the pillow as if she
could make her brain smarten up or at least knock herself out. Hell, she thought, this ain't gonna

After a growl or two that was her *own* and not Logan's, Rogue got out of bed, pushing her toes
into her slippers and grabbing the robe she'd taken to keeping by the bedside, just in case she
couldn't sleep. The silk touched her skin softly, made her sigh as she tied the knot around her
waist, closing the robe. Hoping some fresh air would clear her head, take away the painful
thoughts and the cock-eyed twinges of guilt, she slipped through her bedroom door. Down the
hall, stairs, and outside, into the garden.

Cool air immediately assaulted her lungs, washing through her nostrils and down her throat,
taking away the heat of a night spent tangling with her blankets on a gasp. Rogue closed her eyes,
smiling widely, in the fresh, open way she did when no one was around to see. She left her arms
at her side and tilted her chin up, feeling the breeze waft over her, toying with the edges of her
robe and nightgown, slipping over her ankles and the bare skin of her throat.

Her cheeks flushed when she heard someone clear their throat, and she jumped guiltily, snapping
her eyes open and taking a quick step back, out of the light spilled by the moon. Her heart beat
like a bass drum, loud and heavy in her chest. A man's figure stood in the shadows, a few feet
away from the steps. The line of his shoulders was familiar.

Scott stepped forward, head tilted to the side, the same expression on his face that he had worn
around her for days.

"You should do that more," he said.

Rogue placed a hand over her chest, touching two fingers to the spot where her heart thundered
beneath, and then began to slow as she recognized the man in front of her. "I should do what
more? Get the hell scared right out of me? New form of shock treatment curing us mutants, Mr.

Scott frowned, lips tipping down. "I was going to say that you should smile more often.
However, if the acid has to come after you've done so, maybe you should keep that smile to

"Deadly-skin, deadly-grin," Rogue sang sarcastically, crossing her arms over her chest, forgetting
for a moment that this man was her teacher. He made her feel defensive. "What are you doing out

"I should ask you the same question. Oh, yes, but that's right, I'm the adult here. I CAN ask you
that question. Two nights in a row, Rogue. Don't you think it's a bit dangerous for a young
woman to be wandering around outside at night?"

Rogue shrugged, looking away from his serious face, over his shoulder where the horizon
glittered with stars, split only occasionally by a haze of clouds. "I've wandered around in places a
lot more dangerous than this." She paused, and then said, deliberately, "Mr. Summers."

She smiled when he pursed his lips, sliding his hands into the pockets on his jacket.

"You know what confuses me, Rogue?"

"What's that Sugah?" She asked, crooking an eyebrow.

"The fact that you just can't seem to make friends around here," he said. Rogue's eyes widened,
and her eyebrow dropped down before she could help it. He nodded. "I've been paying more
attention to you lately, because you seem... after you came out to see me the other night, you've
stood out to me, not as a student, but as a possible friend. I said that you'd given me something, a
gift, and you did. It was kind of you, and you didn't need to do it at all, but still, you did. That's
what a friend is. Lately, I think we ALL need a friend or two or we're just not going to make it."

"Is this the fearless leader routine that I hear so much about?" Rogue asked, uncomfortable, yet
again, with the situation she'd gotten herself into.

"Fearless leader? Maybe I just care, Rogue, but I suppose you haven't considered that. After all
we've been through lately, after all that you've seen of me and with what I've seen of you, in
dangerous, highly volatile and emotion circumstances, I'm fairly sure we've moved beyond the
student-teacher relationship. So I don't feel like I'm overstepping my boundaries by telling you

"What ARE you telling me?" Rogue demanded, stepping back into the moonlight.

Scott closed his mouth, looking at her for a long moment. "I'm trying to tell you that when I look
at you in a crowded room, you somehow manage to look alone. I'm telling you that it worries
me, to see someone with your obvious talents, sitting in the back of the class. What I'm *telling*
you, Rogue, is that when I see you with your friends, I see you faking your way through it. And I
think that's the reason why just because you happened to share a REAL moment with me last
week, the type that friendships are made of, you're behaving like a bratty child whenever you're
around me."

Rogue scoffed, even though she felt like he'd driven a nail into her belly. But he still didn't know
the half of it. He couldn't. "I'm sorry, but being a teacher doesn't qualify you to make judgments
about my life. Obviously, you should keep your day job. I have plenty of friends. I'm not that
same closed off girl you saw when I first came here. And I don't need you for a friend."

Scott's cheek twitched, a sign that he was getting angry.

"You might want to think twice before turning down offers of friendship. They don't come often,
Rogue, and even less than they do are they even sincere."

"Another lecture, teacher? Or can I be excused from class?" Rogue asked snidely, pivoting on
her slippered heel, reaching for the door handle. Scott's hand lashed out, grabbing onto her silk
covered wrist and forcing her to turn back around. Her composure faltered as she saw the look on
his face. Determination.

"One question, and then you better head up to bed," he said sternly. His eyes were probably
stone-hard behind his shades. "If I'm not right, and I think I am, just why would you turn down
my offer of friendship?"

Rogue opened her mouth to respond, but she couldn't think of a response.

"Exactly," Scott said. "I honestly wouldn't mind a friend right now, Rogue."

"I'm just a kid..." she argued, feeling trapped, a fish on a hook. Scott was one of 'them', one of
the X-Men. She couldn't imagine being friends with him. Especially with what had went on
recently. Plus, he didn't seem like the type to let things casually go. If he thought she was lying,
he'd probably call her on it.

"A kid?" Scott shook his head. "Younger than me, sure, but a kid? No, I don't think so. A kid
wouldn't have helped me. A kid wouldn't have been standing here a few minutes ago, looking
like she'd just been freed from a cage."

"All this just because I took away your visor?" Rogue muttered, laughing uncomfortably. "Seems
a bit much."

"All this," Scott clarified, "Because right now, my life is about as bad as it can get. One more
friend eases the load."

Great. Now she just felt guilty. Sighing, she gave in. "Okay, so what comes along with this
friendship gig?"

"I don't know." Scott frowned. "I suppose I'm a little short in that department myself. I imagine
we would talk occasionally?"

"You have friends. Ororo, Xavier..." Rogue trailed off, watching his chin dip down. She didn't
say Jean, as she'd been about to.

"Not really friends, more like family," he replied quietly.

"We really don't have to be best friends? I mean, I'm not really good at this stuff. I like to keep
me-stuff... well, for me."

Scott lifted his face again, smiling slightly, but there wasn't much happiness there. "I understand

"This is strange," Rogue complained, crossing her arms around herself again.

"How so?" He looked genuinely confused.

"I mean, you're light ages older than me. How good of friends could we possibly be?"

Scott smiled, this time for real. "Did you just call me old?"

* * *
Just because she'd agreed to be friends with him, and it WAS strange to even consider it, didn't
mean that it was going to happen immediately. This gave her some comfort. It bothered her that
she was so uneasy about striking up a friendship with someone, but there were real reasons for it.
The only person she'd really gotten close to were Bobby Drake, and even him, as wonderful as he
was, she'd kept at a certain distance.

Did Scott really expect her to be 'friends' with him?

It didn't play right in her head. The facts just didn't compute. And yet, she'd agreed, and she'd
never REALLY broken a promise before. Then again, she hadn't made that many, only had the
vague sensation of making them, being someone else and never breaking them.

She saw Bobby sitting with Jubilee in the cafeteria. She smiled and headed toward them. Jubilee
glanced up from the food she'd been picking at, and grinned vapidly at Rogue, giving a little
wave. Rogue nodded in response and sat down with a plop, her plate snapping against the wood.

Bobby jumped, looking tense. His face melted when he saw her.

"Hey," he said.

"Hey," she replied. "What's wrong?"

Bobby cleared his throat, looking back down at his food. Rogue frowned, reaching out with a
gloved hand and placing it over his. His shoulders slumped forward, an air of defeat marking
him, of gravity pulling him under.

Jubilee coughed, before standing. "Wow, look at that big hunk over there, with the real wide
shoulders? I think I'm gonna go see if he can lift me up." She paused when she'd reached the
edge of the table and met Rogue's eyes. Rogue mouthed 'thank you.' Jubilee just shrugged,
raised an eyebrow, and sauntered off in her usual fashion.


"Shh." He interrupted her, turning his palm over to squeeze her hand. "Just be here, okay? That's
all I need."

"But what's-"

Rogue stopped, catching the look on his face. What else could it possibly be? His family. She
nodded slowly and stroked her finger over the back of his hand. He closed his eyes, and let
himself be comforted.

'Who's Scott to say I don't have any friends?' Rogue thought. 'Before being my boyfriend,
before being a potential lover, Bobby's my friend. He's everything.'

She looked away from Bobby's down-turned face, toward the table where she knew the
'big-kids' would be sitting. Scott looked over at her, a moment later, and gave her a small, sad
smile. The type made of ashes, of someone burning inside with grief.

She thought of Jean's face, Jean's extraordinary power, and wished she could will her back to
life. Because watching Scott's face as he went back to eating and talking to Ororo, it was like
watching a man slip into a mask.

Rogue felt a tear drop onto her hand, and jerked her gaze back to the boy-man before her,
shivering as the tear seeped through her glove and froze.

Everyone was fucked, she realized, just plain fucked.

And so was she, because Scott was right about one thing. She could love Bobby all she wanted,
and she was sure she did, but that didn't change the fact that she was scared.

Really. Fucking. Scared.
* * *

Sleep was a wet thing. She woke up sweating, thinking about how cold Bobby's hands were
when he was sad. Thinking about how beautiful his lips were. How she wished she could just...

Sleep was a terrible thing.

* * *

One night, a week or two later, after dinner Rogue was passing by her math classroom when she
noticed light spilling from beneath the door. The shade was drawn, but she found herself peering
around the crack, drawn toward whatever sight was hidden behind the barrier.

Her heart caught. She felt shamed.

Scott sat against the side of his desk, thighs pulled up against his stomach, forehead down against
his knees. His shoulders were shaking like an earthquake, jerking back against the desk. Pain. His
shades lay down by his feet, so she imagined his eyes were squeezed shut. He leaned back,
banging his head against the wood, covering his face with his hands.

So much *pain*.

She could hear him, just slightly, through the door that separated them, sobbing, choking on air.
She watched him for a moment longer, feeling like the worst kind of intruder, the type that stared
at car wrecks, at people dying, at falling buildings. And then she took one step back, then
another, until she was pressed against the wall opposite the door, holding a palm over her mouth.

Fearless leader, right? Not exactly. She couldn't hear him anymore, but her ears throbbed with
the sound of his heartache. Dammit, why did she have to care? There had been a time when
nothing had mattered but keeping her skin covered and making it to the next town by sundown.
Things had changed. There was Bobby, sometimes Jubilee and Kitty, and now... well now there
was her math teacher, Mr. Summers... Scott.

He'd asked for a friend. And she'd been avoiding actually living up to that request. But now,
having witnessed the very true need that had made him reach out, she felt like a rat. Or a bug that
needed to be squashed beneath a boot heel. Rogue closed her eyes and tucked the streak of white
hair behind her ear.

Yeah, Scott Summers had asked for a friend. And it was the least she could do.
* * *
Logan took her shopping the next day, after grunting at her to hop in the car. *Scott's* car.
Scott's very *expensive* car. He hadn't really explained himself, but she hadn't really expected
him to. That was Logan's way. All gruff orders and not quite soft insides.

She didn't mind.

It had just stopped raining a few hours ago, and the sky had cleared up to a nice dark blue, misted
only by the occasional string of gray cloud. The buildings in town were wet and gray from the
previous shower, but carried the scent of drying bricks, of water evaporating. Maybe a little of
starting over too. It was the type of smell that got her every time, made her hunger for a train
ticket out of there. Just because new things could taste so sweet, and it was hard to imagine a life
where she never experienced that exciting twinge of newness again.

Rogue stared through the wide window of a clothing shop, a frown on her face. "You really
didn't have to do this," she admonished him. "You sticking around a few weeks has been strange
enough without you turning into my big brother."

Logan shrugged casually, shoulders hunching beneath his jacket as he glanced around them, eyes
surveying the small town they'd driven into. Sometimes, when he behaved just like that, she
could remember why she'd had such a crush on him not so long ago. Who wouldn't be slightly
attracted to a man who had a bit of animal in him?

"Well, kid, we haven't spent all that much time together since I've been back. I've actually felt a
little like you've been avoiding me, which has been hell on my ego. And I don't want the blame
for it further down the road if we don't talk at all while I'm here. Figured we'd shoot some pool
or something after to make up for this torture you call shopping."

"Sorry," she said, wincing. Animal indeed. "I didn't think you'd notice."

Logan grunted. "You used to crawl all over me for attention. 'Course I'd notice."

Rogue laughed out loud. "I crawled all over you? Hardly. I had a crush. It got gone. But as an
excuse for my poor manners-I am southern after all, so I DO have them-Bobby has issues about

Logan brought his gaze down to her face, a look of interest crinkling his brow. "What kind of

Rogue shrugged casually, tossing her hair back in the way Jubilee had taught her one late night
when they'd first gotten to know each other. "Insanely jealous issues. It's because of that very
small crush on you I once had. I didn't figure on picking at that wound of his all that much. He'll
have to get over it eventually, but you'll be gone soon enough, and right now he's... he shouldn't
have to face anything but what's going on in his own head, ya know?"

Logan frowned, scratching the side of his face, just beside the hair on his cheek. "No more
crawling all over me? Damn, and I was just getting used to it, Marie."

"You better shut your mouth before I punch you in it," Rogue warned, eyeballing him. "And stop
calling me 'Marie.'"

"Sure thing." A pause, and then he curved his handsome mouth into a smirk. "Marie."
She flicked him a telling glance, before stalking to the door of the shop and jerking it open,
storming inside.

"Time of the month?" Logan called after her, voice ringing out far too loudly.

Rogue smiled secretly into her hand, before she closed the door firmly behind her and left him
out on the sidewalk. It was good to have him hanging around, if only for a little while. And if she
sometimes caught a stinging sadness on his face, well, at least he hid it better than the others. She
needed him to hide it. She was sick, plainly and fiercely, of all the sadness. Maybe it made her
petty, maybe it made her a lot of things, but she wanted it to go away.

Inside, the store smelled like darkly scented candles. It was draped in purple and black crushed
velvet, with the occasional splash of vivacious red that stood out like the lenses on Scott's nose
in a room full of people with plain faces. Rogue shivered in remembrance, rubbing her
silk-shielded fingers over her elbows, as she began to look around at what the shop offered on its

Logan entered a moment later, having crushed the tip of his cigar, slipping it into his sagging
shirt pocket. She pretended to ignore him as he stood impatiently by the door, shifting from one
foot to another, making hurry-up noises in his throat. Rogue sifted through the shirts on one of
the racks, wishing she could feel the texture of their cloth beneath her fingers, but it was too
dangerous to take her gloves off in public. At least in a place like this, most people would just
consider her covered body an odd fashion choice. She had a brief thought of how it must be for
Scott, who could never hide what he was, who had it sitting right on the tip of his nose. Literally.

Shrugging, she moved toward another rack, when something caught her eye. A glint of sunlight
flashing on a silver scarf, lying in a pile of several others like it, various colors and styles.
Curious, she walked over to it, drawn by the translucent way it glittered. Picking it up, she laid it
across her palm and rubbed it between her thumb and forefinger. A vague notion began to tickle
the back of her brain, like an oncoming sneeze. She wrinkled her nose as it began to evolved into
something more, turning into a slow burning idea that had her heart hitching like someone had
stuck a hook into it.

Carefully, Rogue pinched the tip of the thumb on her left glove between her fingers and began
tugging it from her arm. The familiar material slid away like a ghost that haunted her, such a
small thing to protect the people around her... and herself from what was in their heads.

Logan appeared at her side, eyebrows raised. He looked distinctly pleased. "Finally figured out
that being a mutant doesn't doom you to a life of gothic-living?"

Rogue shook her head, staring intently at the scarf laying in her now bare hand. The material was
soft, smooth, and very, very thin. When she closed her fingers around it, she could feel the heat
and texture of her skin. "Not exactly." Turning to him, she smiled hesitantly.

"What?" He demanded gruffly, looking down at her.

"Do you trust me?" She asked, clutching the scarf in her hand, swallowing convulsively.


Rogue nodded. Fair enough. "Because I kinda need to test something out, and well, you're here."
Before he could step back, or say anything at all, Rogue touched his forearm with only the silver
scarf separating their skin. She sucked in her breath and squeezed her eyes closed. Couldn't bare
to watch. Logan barely flinched, even though his eyes did bulge briefly in his head.

A moment passed, infinite in its stillness. Rogue forced herself to open her eyes, blinking
quickly. She met Logan's gaze, who was staring at her in worry, and then dragged her stare down
to where her hand sat on the scarf, and beneath, she could feel the exact texture of his forearm. It
was like being skin to skin... without the part where she sucked the life out of him.

"You might want to warn a guy before you use him as a test subject," Logan muttered roughly,
but he was smiling crookedly at her.

Rogue only pulled her hand slowly back to herself, curling her fingers into her palm, and
pressing the fist to her rolling stomach.

"Hey. You okay, kid?"

"Fine," she whispered. Thought of Bobby. "I'm gonna be just fine."

Over Logan's shoulder, the sun struck the roof of the building across the street, streaking into her
face, blinding her for just an instant.
* * *
A human heart beat 2 Billion times in an average lifetime.

Because she was mutant, did that mean it beat more? It was throbbing now, in edgy anticipation.
They'd been talking lately, about taking steps toward intimacy.

Bobby had said, in that hoarse voice: "I need to kiss you again, Rogue. I don't care if you hurt

This was a step. A small, almost useless step. But one all the same.

Rogue knocked on his bedroom door, fingers trembling beneath her gloves. She heard his
footsteps approaching, saw his shadow stretch out beneath the crack between the door and the
floor, falling over her legs. Swallowed once and tried to smile. He opened the door, his grin of
welcome immediately falling away as he took in the expression on her face.

"What's wrong?" He asked, wearing the panic-look: round eyes, parted lips, and pale cheeks.

"This," she whispered, voice quiet because she couldn't seem to make herself speak loudly. She
reached up and placed the scarf over the lower half of his face, startling him. He asked a question
with his eyes that she didn't answer; instead she leaned toward him and placed her lips carefully
over his. Bobby went still, eyes still wide open and on hers.

She kissed him slowly, gently, just pressing her mouth onto his over and over again. A moment
later, when he hadn't yet responded, Rogue dropped back down on her heels and took a step
back, watching him for any sign of what he could be thinking. Her ears were burning, anxiety
taking a heavy swing at her stomach, like a battering ram.

Bobby peeled the scarf from his jaw, irises glittering darkly, and stepped right into her space,
laying the scarf across her face and kissing her with the fierceness of someone long denied. His
lips were hard on hers through the silk, peeling hers apart, and she found herself wrapping her
arms around his waist, straining to get closer. Her gut jolted when she felt his tongue against her
bottom lip, and then against her teeth, pushing inside her mouth and touching her own.

She could *feel* him.


Her eyes fell shut, and a sound came from the back of her throat, unheard by them both, lost in
the nowhere space between their mouths.

End (1/15)

Next chapter coming soon.