Disclaimer: The usual babbling "these characters aren't mine" stuff.

Author's Notes: This is the Ro/Lo story that was promised at the end of "Unexpected." It does run parallel to that storyline...at least at first. It does not, however, go chapter by chapter. I will be taking bits and pieces from "Unexpected" scenes, recreating and expanding upon them, as well as coming up with whole different scenes. And don't worry Romy fans...I'm still a Rogue/Gambit relationship priestess. There will be plenty of them in this story. I hope you enjoy!!

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Inamorata

by Kristen Elizabeth

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Inamorata: n. A woman with whom one is in love or has an intimate relationship; a woman in love; a mistress. v. innamorare, to inspire with love.

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She couldn't pinpoint the moment the attraction had begun. Perhaps it wasn't even a single moment, but a series of much smaller events all falling into place and touching her heart enough to soften the rough edges he presented, the barriers he put up against almost everyone, with the possible exceptions of Jubilee, Rogue and Jean.

The former two weren't obstacles to overcome; he loved the teenager like she was his own daughter, and the southern belle as a trusted companion. But the latter…well, it was little wonder that Ororo Munroe had said nothing for years. She didn't like competing with her friends, even if that friend wasn't technically in the race.

Logan had never tried to hide his feelings for the very taken Jean Grey. And because of them, and the uncertainty about whether the telepath returned those feelings, the woman called Storm had ignored her own, letting physical attraction turn into emotional attachment without ever letting on.

And until the day she and Kitty Pryde brought Remy LeBeau back to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, the home base of the X-Men, Storm felt fairly successful in her denial. There had only ever been a few cheek kisses between her and the Wolverine, several embraces, mostly initiated by her, but nothing that could be construed as anything other than teammate-to-teammate contact.

But it all changed when Gambit returned to his Rogue. She could feel it, the tension that settled over the mansion even though he chose to stay in the boathouse. Her own guilt about his abandonment in Antarctica was keeping her up on the night they returned. As she lay in the cool, cotton sheets of her bed, Storm knew that sleep was not going to find her that night. With a sigh, she got up, pulled on a silk robe, and made her way into the kitchen. Warm milk was slightly disgusting, but if often did the trick.

There were no lights on in the house, but she sensed movement in the darkness. "Who is there?" she asked.

"It's just me, darlin'." As she came further into the room, she could see Logan in the weak light of the moon, sitting at the counter digging into a bowl of cereal. "Couldn't sleep?" She didn't seem able to relax; he was only wearing a tight undershirt that left his powerful arms bare. His muscles rippled as he raised his spoon to his mouth. "Ro? What's wrong?"

"Nothing," she said, finding her voice again. Storm reached into the fridge and pulled out a half-empty gallon of milk. "Why are you eating Chocolate-Frosted-Deathbombs, Logan?"

He looked down at his bowl. "It was this or Jeannie's leftover pot roast." She wanted to laugh when his face twisted into vague disgust. "Lord love the gal, but she can't cook to save her life."

Storm uncapped the milk and poured some into a mug she took from a cabinet. The lord wasn't the only person in the room who loved Scott Summers' wife. "Something happened tonight," she began after only debating with herself about telling him for a second. There was little love-loss between him and the Cajun man she'd brought back from South Korea, so it was probably better to tell him and let him work out whatever feelings he had about Gambit's return before he saw him. "In Seoul, Kitty and I happened to run into…"

"Gumbo." Logan crunched down on a mouthful of cereal, punishing it with his teeth. A scowl spread on his rugged face. "Yeah, I know. I saw him."

She paused as she put the mug into the microwave. "You saw him? Where?"

"In Rogue's room." He pushed his bowl aside. "He's got no reason for bein' in there…botherin' her while she's sleepin'."

"The Professor and I woke her up, Logan." Storm started her milk warming and faced him, her arms crossed tightly over her breasts. "We sent her down to the boathouse to see him. It's what she's needed for four months."

Logan shook his head. "Ro, she's better off without him in her life."

"No one's better off without love. Impossible, broken…unrequited, it doesn't matter. We all need it in some form." The microwave beeped. "Or else why live at all?"

He watched her take a sip of her milk, and make a face at the taste of it. "If you don't like it, darlin', why'd you fix it?"

"You smoke cigars and eat sugar-loaded cereal; I drink warm milk." Storm took another sip. "If you have another way of falling asleep, I'd be glad to hear it."

Logan stood up and carried his bowl to the sink, trained after years of living at the mansion to pick up after himself. "Well, there is one thing that's always worked for me, better than food or tobacco."

"And what's that?"

He turned around, giving her a devilish smile. "Sex." She choked on her milk, and coughed. "You asked."

"I did," she said, recovering. "But in lieu of a willing partner, I'm forced to stick with a more…mundane method."

"Ro…any man who's not willing to be your partner needs his goddamn head examined."

Storm could feel herself blushing, and tried to hide it behind her mug. "They must all be doing that, because there's certainly no one standing in line, waiting to apply for the position." The milk was making her stomach queasy, or maybe it was just being alone with him in the kitchen in the middle of the night, wearing nothing but her flimsiest nightclothes. She set it aside. "I hope you at least welcomed him home."

The Wolverine lifted his shoulder. "He got the greeting he deserved."

With a little sigh, she moved to the sink and poured her milk down the drain. To get there, she had to come dangerously close to his side, so close in fact that she could feel the heat his body generated. "It's going to be hard on everyone, having him back. Especially Rogue, although I have a feeling things might be better when she tells him about the baby. Gam…he likes children. I know that I…" She paused before moving back to a safe distance.

"You what?"

"Nothing." Storm gave him a brief smile. "Goodnight, Logan."

"Ro!" he called out.

She stopped in the doorway and glanced back at him. "What?"

After a moment of staring at her, Logan shook his head. "'Night." When she was gone, he muttered a string of curses. This was Storm, a leader of the team, unquestionably an indispensable component of the glue that held them all together. They were friends; that's all they'd ever been. That was surely all they'd ever be.

So, it just wasn't a good idea to notice that she had some of the longest legs in the known universe.

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The next time Storm was in the kitchen, she found Remy hunched over the counter, surrounded by a beignet disaster. With quiet understanding, she turned off the stove underneath the pan of oil and threw away the unused dough. He was a fairly neat cook, so there wasn't much else for her to do. She approached her friend and touched his arm, hesitant. There was still so much to be said between them before they could ever get back to the friendship they'd once shared.

His head shot up; his eyes, naturally red and black, seemed even darker. "Dere be somet'in, Stormy," he began. "Somet'in' she don' want me t'know."

He looked so completely anguished that she forgave him the use of her hated nickname. If only there were some way to tell him, without betraying Rogue's secrets. "Come, Gambit." She gestured to him, even as she winced on the inside when he gave her a look in return for her using his code name, rather than his real one. "Follow me."

"We goin' where, petit?" he asked.

"I designed a new Danger Room program with Scott. It might help you work some things out."

He ran his tongue over his lower lip, thinking. "Dat sound like de right idea." Remy nodded. "Lead de way."

Storm smiled and walked past him. The men of the house were entirely predictable. Any problem they had could be forgotten in the midst of a good fight.

As they took the elevator down to the sub-levels, there was only silence between them. She shifted from one foot to the other, trying to find a comfort zone around her old friend. Had too much passed between him and the team for things to ever go back to normal?

Taking one look at him, she realized how much life had gone out of the mansion when he had failed to return to it.

"How are you…settling in?" Storm suddenly asked, desperate to break that silence.

He smiled ruefully, shaking his head. "It be like Gambit never left, chere."

"In some ways…you didn't."

The doors opened and a voice announced, "Sub-level One. Danger Room, War Room, Medical Labs One and Two."

There was someone else trying to get into the Danger Room as they approached it. Logan punched the command codes to open the exterior doors, swiveling his head when he sensed them. "Can't a man train in peace around here?"

"If you don' want t'get your claws dirty, mon ami, Gambit happy t'take it easy on you," Remy replied, flippantly.

Because she saw the centers of Logan's eyes grow even darker, Storm quickly stepped in between the two men. "Save it for inside, boys. I'll be watching."

She was heading for the separate entrance to the control room, feeling somewhat apprehensive about leaving the two of them alone, when she felt a strong hand grab her arm from behind.

"Ro," the person said, and it could only be him. She closed her eyes, but didn't turn around. "You're not gonna join us?"

"And get caught in the testosterone crossfire? No, thank you."

Logan came around to her front side and for a single moment, she couldn't decide whether Jean was the most devoted wife on earth, or just the dumbest woman on the planet. It wasn't that Logan was particularly handsome; he certainly had none of Scott's Abercrombie and Fitch good looks. Neither did he have Remy's rakish, whiskey-roughened sexual appeal. He was his own man, and nothing like anyone she'd ever been attracted to in the past. There was an animalistic quality to him, but behind the brute force of muscle and attitude, there were old pains and a pervading sense of longing that he emanated. He was the kind of man a woman fell for without having any idea why, and took to her bed without asking too many questions.

"Is somethin' wrong, darlin'?" he asked. "You were up all last night, and now you're, well, you seem kinda out of it."

"How do you know I was up all night?"

"Took a walk around the grounds just before dawn. Saw your light on."

Storm sighed. "Logan, I'm fine, truly. You didn't sleep either, and you're fine."

"Yeah, but that's…"

"Different, right. Because you have a penis, and I don't, therefore you can do whatever you want, but if I'm a little withdrawn or snappish…"

Logan cut her off with his snorting laughter. "It's a great word on its own, Ro, but hearin' you say it…priceless."

"I really need to get to the booth. Gambit needs something to take his mind off of…"

"Why do you keep callin' him that?" he asked, the joking set aside for the moment.

Storm blinked. "Why do you think it's so amusing to hear me say 'penis'?"

"You first."

It took her a moment to reply, and half of that moment was spent wondering if their amazing ability to par with words and with fists might mean anything if they were ever between the sheets together. "I don't feel…comfortable just yet, using his real name. I don't…" She hung her head. "I don't deserve to."

He had a way of making his point without needing to lecture, and when he didn't say anything in response, she realized how much she had only needed to say the actual words. He offered no solutions, leaving it up to her to find them on her own. All he replied with was, "You're a class act, darlin'. But when you say stuff like that, I get reminded that you're also a damn attractive woman."

"You think…I'm attractive?"

Logan took a step towards her. He was reaching out, just about to touch her smooth, caramel-colored cheek when he suddenly stopped, as though he'd been frozen. Storm watched him back away a moment later; he muttered something about getting back to training.

He cursed himself all the way back to the Danger Room entrance against which Remy leaned, shuffling his ever-present deck of cards. The Cajun man opened his mouth to speak, but Logan threw up one hand and unsheathed his claws. "Keep it to yourself, bub. I ain't in the mood."

Remy lifted both eyebrows as the doors opened and the Wolverine stormed inside. "Dere goes a homme who need t'get laid worse den dis t'ief," he said to himself.

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Days turned into more days, and before Storm knew it, Remy had been back in the mansion for nearly two weeks. She was reminded of this fact when the Professor came to her room to talk to her about throwing their returned comrade a party. It was a good idea of Jubilee's; after all that time, not only had Rogue failed to tell Remy anything about her pregnancy, but Storm still couldn't bring herself to call him by his real name. It was an intensely uneasy time in the mansion, and if a pot of boiled shrimp and corn could smooth things out, she'd help put together two pots.

It became her unspoken task to tell Rogue about the party, not an easy one considering that in her quest to avoid Remy, Rogue was successfully doing the same with the entire house. But she still had her appointments with Hank to check up on the baby's health and progress, and Storm caught her outside of her room as she returned from one of them, the day before the party.

The younger woman, who usually dressed so provocatively as if by showing more skin, people would be less likely to come near her for fear of accidentally touching it, was wearing a pair of shapeless exercise pants and an oversized, button-down shirt. She stopped cold when Storm addressed her. "Why are ya waitin' outside my door, sugah?" Rogue asked, puzzled.

Taking in the complete effect of her outfit, chosen with the obvious intention of hiding her pregnancy, Storm shook her head. "I'm saving you from yourself, Rogue."

"'Scuse me?"

"We're going shopping."

On the way to the Salem shopping center that was home to the only maternity store Storm could think of off the top of her head, Rogue was exceptionally quiet for a long time. It was only after they'd been driving for a good twenty minutes that she said anything at all. "Ah take it ya don' like my outfit."

"I'm certain it's comfortable. But I suspect that years from now, you'd burn any pictures of yourself wearing it."

"Who's gonna be takin' pictures o' me anytime soon?"

Storm turned into the parking lot and began searching for an empty space. "Won't you be wanting pictures to chronicle your pregnancy?"

Rogue stared out the window at the endless rows of cars. "Hadn' thought 'bout it. It's not like this is some kinda…Martha Stewart event. It's not gonna all be baby books an' showers an' stitchin' quilts. Ah'm havin' a kid that never should've been conceived in the firs' place."

"Do you really believe that?" Storm asked, swinging into a narrow spot. She turned off the engine and looked over at her friend. "Shouldn't the extreme circumstances assure you that it was most definitely meant to be?"

"Ah'm not sayin' Ah'm not…happy it happened," Rogue replied, opening her door. "But, sugah, this came 'bout 'cause for once in his life, Remy didn' have a condom in his coat pocket. Hardly what ya'd call a miracle."

Storm got out and stared at Rogue over the top of the car. "You are going to tell him, aren't you?"

The other woman sighed. "'Course Ah'm gonna. Ah just need some more time. There's never a good enough time."

She let it go for the moment as they entered the mall and made their way to the maternity store. Rogue's mood seemed to lighten when she was surrounded by clothes that had actually been designed to flatter a pregnant woman, not make her feel like she was wearing colorful curtains. Storm enjoyed watching her collect items like a child in a toy store. Rogue disappeared into a dressing room provided by a sales clerk who couldn't seem to stop staring at Storm's hair.

"Ah haven't had new clothes in ages," she confessed through the wooden shuttered door that separated the changing area from the rest of the store. "Ah just hadn't gotten 'round to goin' out shoppin' myself." Rogue emerged wearing a sweet little sundress with an very loose waist. "How's it look, sugah?"

Storm took a deep breath. "We're having a party for Gambit tomorrow afternoon. Please say that you'll come."

Her smile fell. "Ya could've jus' answered my question."

"Rogue. Isn't it time that he was made to feel at home again?"

"Home," she repeated, glancing down at her bare feet. "Ah told him…that he didn' have a home no more. When Ah left him…" When she looked back up, there were tears in the corners of her eyes. "Ya didn' see the way he looked at me after that. Ah've never seen him so…affected. But all he said was…that he loved me. An' Ah flew away…"

"It's not so much the house that he needs back, Rogue. It's the home he found in you. That you found in each other." She gestured to the woman's gently rounded belly, visible now that she wasn't wearing baggy clothes. "That you're expanding on."

Rogue wiped at her cheeks. "Ah'm so damn tired o' cryin'!" After a second, she nodded. "Ah'll come. 'Course Ah will. Ah gotta tell him…" She shrugged. "Seems like a party's as good at time as any."

Storm smiled. "Good. And the dress…it's perfect for you."

"Is Logan coming?" Rogue asked, heading back into the dressing room for another outfit. "To the party."

The white hairs on the back of her neck prickled, and she stammered, "I…think so. Yes. Probably." Storm frowned. "Why do you ask?"

"Oh…" As she shut the door, she gave the older woman a little, private grin. "No reason. Just wonderin'."

Reaching for a pair of maternity jeans, Rogue wanted to laugh. If her two friends didn't have a thing for each other, she'd eat her hat.

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To Be Continued