Well, here it is. The final chapter. Wow, I can't believe I actually did it! But, of course, this chapter is really here thanks to everyone who reviewed, it means so much to me and I wouldn't have, couldn't have done it without you guys. However, I am dedicating it personally to ishandahalf, who faithfully reviewed me since chapter 2. Thankyou so much for your support, you rock! That goes for everyone else too, thanks for reading, I love you all! (P.S. sorry if there's lots of OOC ness)
With sadness, and relief,
ishandahalf: I'm glad you think so! More Romy here, just for you! Thanks for always being the first to review a new chapter, and for sticking with the fic. You're the bestest:)
epona04: Relieved that the huge waits are tolerable! Thanks for staying with me!
Aralia: Sorry, I seem to have a disability that refuses to allow me to update quickly! Here is the last chappie, hope you enjoy!
koriaena: I wasn't sure of the details either, as you may have noticed! Glad you like the story.
fudje: There's probably lots more OOCness in this chappie, but I hope it's bearable! I try my best, but it is a fanfic after all. Sabotage the characters! Sabotage, I say!
Klaus: Wow, I can't believe it's over! Fanks for all your encouragement, I may even have time to start that original that you want me to, but I'm not making any promises! Love you!
Now, on with the show, for the last time…
"Thank heaven you are safe, we thought the most terrible things! We were so worried, so afraid, I thought I may never see your faces smiling at me again, and I couldn't bear to think it!"
"Darlings, how we survived without you, I do not know. I don't know how we have deserved to have you brought back to us, as we have not taken the amount of care that we should have, but I promise you that we will from now on. I feel so blessed that I am allowed to have you two in my life again. I do not know what I would have done had I lost you."
Kurt nudged Rogue, a large grin on his face at the copious amounts of hugs and kisses that Eva and Maximo were receiving from their hysterical parents. It was heart-wrenchingly sweet and everything, the whole tearful reunion bit, but maybe it was the fact that Rogue couldn't understand a word they were saying that made her slightly less enthusiastic than her brother. The whole bunch were jabbering away in Spanish through tears and embraces, had been for a few minutes now, and Rogue was trying very hard not to look as exhausted as she felt, well aware of Logan's watchful eyes on her back.
"What?" she hissed irritably as Kurt dug her in the ribs again with his elbow. He seemed to have conveniently forgotten her injuries in his eagerness for her to watch Eva get her 50 millionth hug from her mother.
"I zink zey're talking about you!" he said, pointing at the children, who were both pointing at her. Rogue felt her pale complexion flush a less attractive crimson.
"They totally are, that's so sweet," gushed Kitty in a whisper, who up till now had been silently blinking back her own tears. "They're, like, smitten with you, Rogue."
Rogue was about to protest, because she felt more comfortable sniping at Kitty than trying to ignore the stares she was getting, but then she realised said staring parents had not only stopped talking, hugging, kissing and staring, but were now making their way towards her.
"Omigosh!" breathed Kitty, and she and Kurt hastily retreated, leaving her alone to see what the parents had to say. They stopped in front of her, but seemed to be at a loss for words. Rogue tried to keep her expression neutral.
"We…we…" stammered the father slowly, and Rogue remembered that of course they would be at a loss for words, seeing as they barely spoke a word of English.
"We wish to, to…we thank you," he managed, and she nodded to show that she understood.
"You take to me, my childs," he continued determinedly, "also I cannot tell how happy am I. Also much thankful."
She couldn't help smiling then. He smiled too, and before she knew what was happening, had taken her in his arms for a hug. She automatically tensed, waiting for the pull. But it seemed the Spaniard had got lucky, as he let her go soon after without any signs of discomfort. He put a hand on her shoulder, and muttered "Bendígale, niño."(1) Although she didn't understand the words, the feeling with which he spoke was meaning enough.
Now the children's' mother stood in front of her, looking as though she was about to burst into tears herself.
"I cannot thank you for as much for what you have done," she said shyly, her English obviously the better. "My children, safe. Not anything is worth more."
Then she, too, reached out, and pulled Rogue into so tight a hug that she felt severely flattened once she was released. They both took her hands and squeezed them gratefully. She felt an automatic and embarrassed urge to pull away, but didn't. They uttered another Spanish word in unison, then kissed her hands and returned to where their beaming kids were standing.
She stood there awkwardly, still with that infuriating blush in her cheeks. She didn't know where to look. The kids were whispering urgently to their parents, and she definitely didn't want to see the looks that the Xmen would give her if she turned. But then Eva and Max came forward, and she heard the buzz of Xavier's wheelchair behind her, as he went to talk to the parents (or attempt to) himself.
"I can almost control my fire-thing now," said Eva abruptly. Rogue stepped aside as she puffed out a few mouthfuls, which left a smoky smiley face hanging in the air. Rogue nodded in admiration. The kid had got a hold of it so quickly. Suddenly there was a shriek, and they turned to see Jean leaping away from the tree that Eva's flames were burning, frantically swatting at her hair. Rogue couldn't supress a smirk.
"Well done," she told the little girl, who beamed with pride.
"Madre y Padre can't really speak English very well," she began. "But they want me to say, they are grateful to you. They don't know what they can possibly do to repay you. They feel like they owe you so much, and there's no words or anything they could do to show how thankful they really are."
"I know how thankful they are," said Rogue. "And they don't need to repay me or anything. It was nothing."
Eva just smiled.
"Well, I guess we'd better say goodbye then," said Rogue after a pause.
"Yes," said Eva, still with that knowing smile on her face.
"Well, um, I'm glad you two are safe and everything now," Rogue continued awkwardly. "And, good luck with your powers. You'll be OK."
"We will," Eva agreed. "Thanks to you."
And then all of a sudden, two small pairs of arms had clasped her round the middle. Rogue peeled them off, knowing they would be unfazed.
"Thankyou for being so nice to us Rogue," said Eva genuinely. "I don't know what we would have done if you were not there. You were so brave and you helped us, that scary man kept hurted you, but you still helped us. I know that we would still be pris'nors there if you had not come. We would be really scared and not know what to do, but you did, and you saved us."
"I couldn't have done anything else," said Rogue, and she meant it.
She felt a little tug on the remains of her pants. She looked down into Max's earnest, 7-year-old face.
"Thankyou Rogue," he said. "I'm glad we meeted you."
Rogue smiled. It was the first proper sentence he'd said to her. Well, in English.
"I'm glad too, Maximo," she said. "I'm glad too."
She stood up as she saw Xavier and the children's' parents rejoining the group.
"I'd better go," she told them. "We've got to get back to the institute. The kids smiled at her. Eva grabbed her brother's hand.
"Goodbye, Rogue," Max said.
"We will see you again, won't we?" said Eva.
"You never know," said Rogue. She looked over to Xavier shaking hands with Eva's father. "You just might."
She walked to the jet, were Xavier was waiting at the ramp for her. The parents had returned to their kids, and their dad swept them up in his arms. She turned back just before it closed, and saw two small hands waving. She looked around to make sure nobody was watching, and waved back.
Rogue felt more than a little disgruntled. She was trapped, not only trapped but bedridden, uncomfortably hot and sweaty, and in one of her very least favourite places. The infirmary. Her many, many, many visits to the bland, poorly decorated room that smelt like dentists had helped her develop a strong hatred for the cursed place. She hated everything about it. She hated the squeaky, lumpy hospital beds, she hated the light browny-grey colour of the walls, she hated the faded floral curtains, and she hated how it was always immaculately tidy and smelt like rubber and disinfectant. But most of all, above everything else that irked her about it, the thing that she really loathed was the way people treated her like she was unstable and fragile whenever she was shoved back in here.
Well, that's what she felt like bellowing at the opaque glass doors and whoever was behind them. But she didn't.
"May I come in? I wish to speak to you for a moment."
"Sure," said Rogue, though she didn't really have a choice in the matter. Xavier wheeled in, the usual serene-smile-and-hands-clasped-in-lap pose firmly in place. He came to a halt beside Rogue's bed. She heaved herself up on her pillows.
"I just wanted to say, Rogue, how proud I am of you. You have showed outstanding courage, responsibility and intelligence. You endured things during your captivity that no teenager should have to endure. You took the safety of two young children into your own hands, and took many blows for it. It was entirely thanks to you that we could deliver them, unharmed, back to their parents. Your strength and bravery throughout this ordeal, quite frankly, was incredible. I can tell you with all truthfulness that I have never been prouder of one of my students."
"Professor, I couldn't have done any different," Rogue said, slightly annoyed about everyone being so shocked that she hadn't abandoned Eva and Max and made her own escape.
"You could have," said Xavier." That's the point. You could have given up, lost hope and written all three of you off as dead. You could have panicked and frightened the children. You could have dismissed their imprisonment as none of your business and left them to fend for themselves. But you didn't, Rogue, you were calm and you explained things to them and tried to help them escape too. You put their safety before your own."
"Really," insisted Rogue, getting quite heated up. "I couldn't have done any of those things. I couldn't. No one would have turned their backs and said 'why should I care?' or 'none of your business'. I did what anyone would have done. It was nothing special. Really."
Xavier smiled. "You may think so," he said in that annoyingly all-knowing way. "But in any case Rogue, I am very impressed with what you have done, and, as I believe I have said, unspeakably proud of you."
Rogue shuffled uncomfortably. She wanted to argue again, but he'd just keep saying he was proud of her, and she didn't really want to hear it again. So she stayed silent and waited.
"I hope Mr and Mrs de Vega-Montoya might bring Eva and Maximo to the institute when they are old enough," he said after awhile, half to himself.
"Oh," said Rogue, not sure if she should reply to this or not.
"They are going to be incredibly powerful mutants, Rogue," he said, facing her properly. "I cannot even tell how strong they are going to be."
"Uh," said Rogue, her vocabulary continuing to flourish. "How do you figure?"
"The only mutants who developed their powers younger than Eva has are myself and Magneto. I have told you my theory about powers manifesting young. You have seen Eva's abilities. She already has a surprising grip on them. She can conjure and control fire. There are no records of a mutant who could do that. She may even develop additional powers as she grows older. I have also spent long hours studying Maximo's genetic make up, blood samples and his physical and mental abilities, and I have reached the hypothesis that he will have the powers of both telepathy and foresight. His premonitions, however, will be infrequent and usually inaccurate, as telepathy will be his strongest power. He is unusually quiet and perceptive for his age, had you noticed? Not to mention outstandingly intelligent."
"Well, since he spoke about 3 sentences of English, I didn't really notice, no," muttered Rogue, but Xavier appeared not to hear her.
"Sure signs of his telepathy making itself known. It will not be anything but echoes for several years, and by then I am sure he will be more than capable to deal with the full extent of these powers. Erik knew. He would not kidnap them for any other reason."
"So, when can I get out of here?" Rogue interrupted, trying to stop the lecture that seemed to be only partly directed at her.
Xavier smiled at her again. She was certain that if a world terrorist burst into the mansion, threatening and swearing, Xavier would sit, perfectly undisturbed in his wheelchair, smiling his little bald head off. It really aggravated her.
"I apologise, I guess I am still a little shocked about the power in these two children. Well, you do seem to be well on your way to recovery, I admit, and, though I would prefer to keep you longer just to be sure…"
"Professor!" Rogue burst out angrily, but he held up his hand.
"…I'd say you could be back at school on Friday."
"Two more days," Rogue groaned, wanting to flop back onto her pillows, but not trusting herself to resist wincing and have her stay in this hellhole extended.
"Yes, Rogue, two more days. I know you are still sore, and I want to ensure your health is completely restored before I send you back to school and have a teacher call social services on you."
"Like any teacher would give a damn about…" Rogue began scornfully, but then she spotted the smile tugging at the corner of his mouth and realised he was teasing her.
"Fine," she grunted. "I've already spent half my life in this place, what's a couple more days gonna do?"
"Good attitude," he said, and winked at her before wheeling, or buzzing, through the double doors.
"Hi Rogue, good to see you on your feet!"
"Morning, schwester! Couldn't resist the fuzzy one any longer, could you?"
"Rogue, I'm, like, so glad you're allowed out of the infirmary now! I totally hate only having Kurt and Evan to talk to at school!"
"Thanks, K, the feeling's mutual girl! Welcome back anyhoo, Rogue."
"Yeah, how are you feeling Rogue? It's great you're finally up!"
Rogue stood in the doorway, surveying the people in the kitchen beyond, all of who were watching her, smiling expectantly. She nodded awkwardly.
Scott stood and walked over to her, watched hawkishly by Jean.
"I'm ok, Scott," she said impatiently.
"I'm sure you are, and I wouldn't want you to be shut in the infirmary any longer than you have to, believe me. I was just wondering if you wanted a ride to school. I'm giving Kurt and Kitty one."
Rogue shook her head. "Naw, that's ok, I think I'm just gonna walk, you know, get some fresh air and everything."
"Sure, I understand," he nodded, returning to the table. Rogue quickly slipped back out the door before anyone noticed.
Once out the front door, she stopped on the top step and took a deep breath. Air had never tasted so good. She took it in great gulps, as though trying to purify her lungs from the stale infirmary air. It was a beautiful day. The sun was reaching down with burning hot fingers, but a pleasantly cool breeze kept them at bay. Long fluffy clouds stretched lazily across the sky, and every colour seemed especially vibrant and rich.
Feeling considerably more light hearted than she had the last few days, Rogue continued down the steps and wandered off the path, intending to reinstate herself with the grounds before actually making her way to school.
As she rounded the corner, a distraught female voice caught her ears.
"Logan! You've ripped out my bleeding heart!"
More than a little concerned, Rogue rushed around the clump of trees that was hiding the scene. Had Logan lost control of his temper and accidentally sliced someone? Of course it would happen on her first day out of the house…
Rogue stopped short. Ororo Munroe was bent over a flowerbed, tenderly picking up the remains of a bush. Logan was hovering behind her, arms folded almost sulkily.
"Can't you keep your simulations away from my plants?" cried Ororo, half distressed, half exasperated.
"Sorry," muttered Logan gruffly. "But s'not like they won't grow back or anything."
Ororo stood up, cradling the crumpled stems like they were her only family. She sniffed dramatically and flounced away. Logan stood there, looking slightly shocked. He made to walk away and finally noticed Rogue, leaning against a tree with a smirk tugging at her painted lips.
"Stupid name for a flower anyway," he grunted, stomping past her towards the house. She smothered a laugh.
By the time Rogue actually got to school it was quarter past nine.
'Maybe they'll be so happy to see me that they won't be impulsively homicidal,' thought Rogue sarcastically. She stepped unwillingly through the main doors, facing an empty corridor. Obviously first period had already started. Rogue went to her locker first and checked her timetable. She shrugged. It could be worse. She grabbed the books that she would need, and headed for her class.
Lance was physically incapable of listening to a word his teacher was saying. He sat slouched in his chair, staring blankly straight ahead, ignoring the dark looks the man kept shooting him. He was in a dark mood himself. Rogue wasn't here again. She hadn't been seen for days, by anyone, and the X-geeks were walking around school looking anxious and miserable. As much as he hated to admit it, he was worried about her. If she didn't turn up very soon, someone was going to have hell to pay.
"Sorry I'm late Mr Hart."
"Ah, hello Rogue. Glad you're finally better."
She looked confused for a moment before answering. "Oh, yeah, better. I am. Thanks."
"Take a seat Rogue, the lesson's just started."
She walked towards him and sat down, cool as a cucumber, without so much as a hello. She didn't even look at him. But Lance knew she was doing it on purpose.
"Well?" he burst out impatiently. She just looked at him obstinately.
"What?" she asked.
"Don't you 'what' me! You've been gone for days without a single trace. The X-geeks have been moping about the school looking as though someone killed their dog. Then they all disappear too, and a few days later you're back here pretending like nothing ever happened. But something did happen, I'm not stupid, and I want to know what it is!"
She shrugged irritatingly. He wanted to shake her. Instead he growled and slammed his fist into the desk. "If you don't tell me, I'll kidnap Scooter and hold him for ransom until you do."
"Why would I care what happens to him?" she scoffed. "At least it'd give us a break from the 'we are the Xmen' speech!"
"Yeah, well, I probably couldn't stand being near him for more than 5 minutes anyway," Lance agreed. "But I don't care. I just thought Todd could do with a new bedtime story, that's all, cos everyone's sick of hearing how Pietro's better than Evan. Like we actually give a shit what you geeks get up to."
"Alvers! Would you please be quiet and let me teach, unless you feel you can do a better job?"
"Nah, I'm not in a teaching mood right now. Maybe another day," Lance replied casually.
"You're in another sort of mood though, ain't ya?" teased Rogue, once the teacher had turned his back on them.
"I'm not in a mood, ok? Just shut up."
"I'll tell ya, if you really wanna know that bad," Rogue smirked. "I just didn't realise it meant so much to you."
"I hate you," Lance growled.
"No you don't," she replied. She settled down in her seat and opened her book on the page they were supposed to be on. She turned towards him.
"Ok, well, you remember I told y'all bout those kids?" she asked. Lance nodded. "Well, we had to do our hero thing and go rescue them. But the thing is, Acolytes aren't just any mutants. They're trained, they're not exactly compassionate, and half of them are a little off in the head. When we got there we realised we didn't actually have a clue how to break into Mags' giant metal ball, and while we were trying to figure it out, they discovered us and attacked. After a series of fiascoes, me an' Kit ended up on a clifftop, where your buddy Pietro shoved her off the edge."
"He WHAT!" cried Lance. Several people looked at him strangely. Rogue ignored him.
"Then Sabes arrived, attacking me for the second time that day before knocking me unconscious. I came to in a big metal room, chained up next to the Spanish kids. We tried to escape, but Sabertooth attacked me again. This time I downed him, but something hit me on the head and knocked me out, again. When I woke up, minus a few brain cells, that big Russian, the one that can cover his body in metal, was in place of the kids, covered in bruises. It turned out that Mags had to 'punish' him for not keeping a proper eye on Sabes, who wants to kill me."
"He wants to…" began Lance incredulously, but Rogue, once again, ignored him and carried on with her story.
"So, later on, after the kids were put back in, Sabertooth somehow managed to break in and tried, yet again, to kill me. I was still chained up, so he might have actually succeeded if the little girl's powers hadn't manifested. Apparently she tried to yell and instead, fire came pouring out, and Sabes scarpered. After telling her she was a mutant, I passed out, for the fifty millionth time. Not long after that, the Xmen arrived, and kicked Acolyte ass. Then we flew back home, and I was shoved into the infirmary. A few days ago, Xavier told me the kids may well become the most powerful mutants that have ever existed, which is why Magneto wanted them in the first place, to fight his war, or some bullshit. Today I was finally allowed out of there, so, here I am."
Lance stared at her for a full minute before saying anything.
"You get yourself into some bloody messed up situations trying to save the world all the time," he said eventually.
"I know. But we don't really have a choice. If you had seen those kids get kidnapped you'd have wanted to save them too."
"I'm not saying that I wouldn't, I'm just saying that you have to realise you can't save everyone. You're not responsible for the safety of the entire population. You can't counteract all the bad stuff that happens in the world. If you think that you can, you'll only get hurt yourself."
"I can take care of myself," Rogue snapped.
"Not always Rogue. You're not invincible. If that little girl's powers hadn't manifested, Sabertooth could've killed you. Don't you get it?"
"Yeah, I get it, Lance. But don't you get that there are times when someone else's safety is more important than your own?"
Lance rolled his eyes. "Alright, alright. Don't go all baldy and lecture me on the values of selflessness."
"As if I'd want to," Rogue chided.
"You'd think Bucket-Head and his lot haven't got a heart or soul between them, the way they carry on," Lance said, hurriedly changing the subject.
Rogue stared at the whiteboard, thoughts rushing around her head like Olympic sprinters. She couldn't really agree with Lance's statement. They had hearts, well some of them anyway. Even though one heart in particular broke many others who sought after its love.
"Lance," Rogue blurted suddenly before she could stop herself. He looked at her expectantly. She dithered. She didn't actually want to say what had been so eager to spill out of her mouth. He was looking at her suspiciously.
"Um, there's a, well, Kitty likes this guy, right?" she burbled in a feeble attempt to cover up her blunder.
"Does she?" said Lance, looking crestfallen. He bought it. She was safe.
"Yeah," said Rogue, relieved. "But the thing is, I know he's not really the best of guys, and he'll probably treat her bad, cos he's had so many girls that they don't seem like seperate beings to him anymore, just like this giant, adoring conquest. He says that she's different from all the rest, but he doesn't really come from an honest backround and, well, I don't really see why he would want to change for a girl like, um, her."
"I would," Lance muttered, but Rogue didn't seem to hear him.
"I don't trust him. And, she shouldn't trust him. There's so many things that, you know, Kitty shouldn't like about him, but I don't know, I, I think she does, and I don't understand it."
Lance smirked. He was starting to get it.
"Oh, so, um, what do you think she shouldn't like about him?" he asked innocently.
"There's so much! He's a thief for a start, he's a real flirt, I know he wouldn't be able to stick with just one girl, he thinks of them as trophies, a challenge to overcome. He's got absolutely no shame, he won't quit till he gets what he wants, he doesn't know when to stop, he has no respect, he never has honorable intentions, ever, and, and he's the enemy! I just don't understand it, I don't know why she would like him, but, but, she does, Lance! I think she really does, and I don't know what to do. About Kitty. You know, to make her see sense."
Rogue looked away, half frustrated, half embarrassed. Lance grinned.
"You can't help who your heart loves," he said.
"You know, I didn't say she loved…" began Rogue, but Lance ignored her.
"If she really likes this guy, there must be something pretty damn special about him. Maybe you should just give him a chance."
He smiled at her. She sighed, pretending to be annoyed. But they understood each other.
Lance watched her for a moment, wondering if he should say what he wanted to say. He could see right through her, of course; he knew she wasn't really talking about Kitty. But maybe he could play it how she wanted, and set a few things straight while he was about it.
"So, Kitty really likes him then?" he said, purposefully avoiding her eyes when she turned back to look at him.
"Oh, yeah, probably," Rogue said, with a non-committal shrug. "Why?"
"Oh, nothing," Lance said, putting on a mournful, puppy-dog face and looking out of the window.
"No, go on," persisted Rogue, a smile on her own face now that the conversation was back in comfortable territory. "It's cos you like her, isn't it?"
"No I don't," Lance protested half-heartedly, feeling his face flush in spite of himself.
"Sure ya do," Rogue grinned. "Just about everyone knows. And it's pretty obvious she likes you, too."
"Oh yeah?" Lance challenged, unable to resist. "What about this other guy that you were going on about?"
"Well, she likes you more," Rogue said quickly. "And I'll be able to put her off him anyway."
"How? It sounds to me that she's really into him, no matter how much you don't want her to be," Lance teased.
"It's pretty simple," Rogue smirked. "You turn up at the manor tonight with flowers and a romantic destination, and I can guarantee that she'll be pleased to see ya."
"What?" Lance gaped. He hadn't really expected things to be set that straight.
At that moment, the bell rang, signaling the end of first period. Rogue shoved her stuff in her bag and got up.
"Be there at 7.30," she called to him as she left. "And dress nice!"
It was 7.35 when the bell on the mansion's front doors was rung, echoing throughout the halls.
"I'll get it!" yelled Rogue, hurtling up from her spot on the sofa and forcing Kurt to port out of the way. She pulled one door open a crack and peered out. Lance was standing there, wearing clean, unripped pants, and a formal-ish jacket over his best t-shirt. He was clutching a bunch of red and white roses, wrapped in pink and silver paper. Rogue nodded approvingly.
"I guess it's the best you could do," she said, and yanked him inside.
He stood awkwardly in the hall. Several of the Xmen poked their heads around doors, looking confused. He shuffled his feet uncomfortably.
"Wait here," Rogue ordered, and went up the stairs out of sight.
He didn't really know what to do once she'd gone. He briefly considered rushing straight back out the door, but decided he would prefer to see his 18th birthday. He waited, staring determinedly at the ceiling and trying not to imagine the smirks on the X-geeks' faces.
He heard a noise from the stairs. He looked up at them hopefully what he saw was better than he had imagined.
Kitty was ascending the stairs towards him. She had an endearing tinge of pink in her cheeks. Her hair was out, straight and beautifully glossy. She wore a pink strapless top and a light brown skirt that came past her knees and had several white flowers embroidered in the bottom corner. On her face was the biggest smile Lance had ever seen. She rushed down to him and threw her arms around him. Lance was surprised, but thrilled. He hugged her back.
"I'm so glad you came, Lance," she said.
"Me too," he replied.
"So where are we going?" she asked, grabbing onto his arm. He smiled down at her.
"It's a surprise."
Her eyes sparkled with excitement. He pulled the door open again. He turned around, and saw Kurt and Scott looking accusingly at Rogue. She had her arms folded stubbornly. He smiled fondly, and led Kitty down to his car.
Rogue liked it up on the roof. It was quiet and peaceful, a place where she could get away from everything. She needed that sometimes. She especially liked it at night, when the wind was blowing and the moon was shining above her head, and all she could see were the silhouettes of the trees out on the grounds, and all she could hear was a few birds calling sleepily to each other. It was one of those nights. It was warm, but the breeze was pleasantly cool as it blew strands of white and red away from her face. She lay back, indifferent to the uneven surface, watching the clouds and counting the stars. She hadn't been up on the roof in so long, and it was complete and utter bliss.
"We meet again, chere."
Rogue almost jumped out of her skin. She leapt to her feet, fists at the ready, but the newcomer made no move to attack her.
"Take it easy, cher. Remy not here to hurt you, you know that."
"Oh, do I?" Rogue growled, annoyed at being caught off guard.
"'Course," Remy said, looking injured. "Remy would never let any harm come to you, cher, not if he could help it."
"Look, what are you doing here anyway?" Rogue demanded. "If someone catches you, you're dead. They'll think I'm, I'm fraternising with the enemy or something."
"Fraternising?" chuckled Remy. "Never. B'sides, you can't really t'ink of us as enemies. We simply work for diff'rent bosses."
"Um, Xavier's not a 'boss', ok, and we don't work for him. This is my home, and I didn't invite you into it."
"People invite demselves into other peoples' homes all de time, chere," Remy told her, grinning mischievously.
Rogue sat down and gave an irritated sigh. "What d'ya want, swamp rat?"
"I want to see you, Rogue."
"Why would you want to see me?"
"Is it not customary for a man to want to see a girl he int'rested in?"
"Y'all aren't interested in me."
"What makes you so sure?"
"Don't even bother. I know what you're like. I know what you're really interested in. A challenge. I'm the only girl who don't throw herself all over ya, so you feel you've got to take me on so you can prove that you can have anyone you want. Well you should save yourself the trouble, cos I wouldn't let a guy like you touch me even if ya could."
"Chere," Remy said. Rogue ignored him. He repeated it. She refused to look at him.
"Rogue," he said firmly, grabbing her by the shoulders and making her face him. She tried to pull away, outraged, but he wouldn't let her.
"Now listen to me, chere. Remy does not t'ink of you as a challenge, or a conquest. Remy knows he may not have been as respectful as he should have been with de other femmes, but you not like other femmes, Rogue, you different. Dat what Remy likes about you. Dat why he int'rested. He really is int'rested, Rogue. He don't care 'bout your skin. Remy cares about you."
Rogue tried to yank herself free again, but he held on.
"Let me go," she said sullenly. He shook his head, smiling at her in the dark.
"Remy likes to hold you, cher," he said, trying to pull her closer. Rogue struggled and wriggled her way out of his arms. She stood up, glaring at him.
"Well I don't want you to hold me," she said. "And don't call me cher."
"What are you afraid of, Rogue?" asked Remy softly. "I promise, I won't hurt you."
"How many others have you said that to?" she demanded accusingly. "How many times have you broken that promise? Hurt isn't only physical Remy. You just don't get it. Girls adore you, and I know you know that. But it doesn't mean that you can just amuse yourself with them for awhile, then just leave and take their hearts with you."
"Non, you don't get it," said Remy. "I don't want to leave you. What do you t'ink I am doing here now? Why do you t'ink I risked Magneto's fury, over and over, to see you and talk to you? How can I prove myself to you? Not'ing I do is ever de right t'ing. What can I do to make you happy, Rogue?"
"I don't know," she said quietly, her hair falling over her face as she sat down again. "I feel I can't trust you. I just don't know why…"
"Why what, chere?"
"Why, why you would be interested in me, when you could have any other girl you want. Love isn't only physical either, and I don't know if you can understand that."
Remy gently brushed a lock of hair behind her ear. "Oui, I understand it, Rogue."
She looked at him, fear glistening behind her beautiful green eyes. She wanted to love, she wanted it more than anything, but she couldn't allow it, because it felt like nothing but an invitation for more hurt, more betrayal, more loss.
She looked so vulnerable, so resigned to the life she'd been given. It angered him. Why should she have to put up with this? Why should this burden rest on her shoulders? Did she not deserve happiness, after everything she'd been put through? Could there not be one thing she had to enjoy for herself?
"You deserve better, chere," he said. "You shouldn't have to live like this."
She didn't answer, just continued to stare at the tiles on the roof as though they were the most interesting things in the world.
"I have to go now," he said. A small shrug was all the response she made.
"I'll come back," he told her, at the same time the decision was made in his head. "I like to see you. I wouldn't want you to be missing me for too long. Remy gives his word, cher. He will come back to you soon."
"I'll let Logan know," Rogue replied maliciously. Remy clutched his heart.
"You wound me, chere," he said.
"Good," said Rogue.
He bent down so he was level with her face. "Until next time, den. I'll be looking forward to it." Very quickly, he brushed his lips across hers, and wavered for a moment before steadying himself. She pushed him over.
"Makes one of us," she countered. He smiled. At least she wasn't feeling awkward anymore. He was simply her knight in shining armour, and she didn't even realise it.
"Farewell, cher. I'll wait until your dreams."
She could have come up with a snarky reply to that, but he had already gone. She peered out into the grounds, the trees, trying to spot him, but she couldn't. He certainly had a knack for disappearing.
She pulled off her glove, something she only ever did when she was alone, and twisted the amethyst ring round and round her finger. She put her hand to her lips, the feeling of skin against them almost a foreign texture.
"Sweet dreams, Rogue," she whispered, before swinging herself onto the balcony and going inside.
(1): Bless you, child