Note: Thank you to everyone who has reviewed! And, to x_authentic, Gambit was in the last chapter-- kind of. He was who John thought of as Mister Casino Dealer. I didn't mention his real name though, and didn't want to even attempt writing dialogue for him so it was just a short little insert. : P

Rogue watched John as he sat by the window. He was across the room from where she sat with Bobby and Jubilee, oblivious to any of them. She would have given anything to have the Professor's powers at that moment, to know what was going through his mind.

She hadn't told anyone about John's confrontation with Magneto, and keeping it to herself was haunting her. She had a pretty good idea what Magneto had wanted--and it scared her that John seemed to be thinking about giving it to him--that John was actually thinking about leaving and joining him.

She wasn't naïve, she knew that he was. She couldn't fathom why he would ever consider it, but as she watched him stare into the distance with that detached gaze she knew in her heart he was. And she didn't know what to say to keep him here.

John seemed to feel her eyes on him, and he turned slowly in her direction. With a sigh, he got to his feet and left the room. Rogue watched him worriedly, but when she moved to follow Bobby gently grabbed her hand and shook his head.

"Let him go," he told her.

Rogue looked down at the floor. Bobby didn't know what he was asking. He didn't know like she did where John was planning to run. But she stayed where she was regardless. She would talk to John tonight, she would get him to confide in her again tonight and they would work this all out once and for all.

But that night, John didn't come.

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He had sat on his bed for hours before deciding to do it--his lighter in one hand, Magneto's Mutant Terrorist business card in the other. He just sat there in the dark, waging a war inside of himself. Part of him wanted to just turn the number to ashes and move on with his life, but the rest of him seemed to know already that he wouldn't. That he would eventually be drawn to use it.

So he had forced himself to his feet, and crept from his room--taking the hall that would lead him away from Rogue's room and take him to the mansion's front entrance. He knew he should at least say goodbye, but he didn't want to put either of them through that if he didn't have to. So he just left.

But Rogue followed him. She had been determined to get him to talk, so she had gone to find him when he had not shown up--only when she had reached his room it was empty. Panic took control of her then, and she was flying down the hallway and racing down the steps towards the front doors before she could even run through all the possibilities of where he had gone. She just ran, not even caring if she was making enough noise to wake some of the others.

She flew out the doors, letting them swing shut behind her. "John!" she called after him. She could see that he had already reached the broken part of the 'gate, and he had stopped half-way through at her shout. "Why didn't you come get me?" she demanded breathlessly when she reached him.

"Go back inside, Rogue," he told her softly.

"What?" she demanded. "No. I'm going with you. I always go." Rogue made a move to go through the gate but John's hand shot out, blocking her way.

"I'm not coming back this time," he whispered.

Rogue froze at the confession. She had been so afraid this would happen, but over the last few days, she had finally convinced herself it would no longer have to. "You can't," she hissed. "You can't just leave! John--"

"I have to," he interrupted. "I've always had to, Rogue--it's just that neither of us wanted to accept it until now."

Rogue glared at him, and trapped his face between her gloved hands. "I DO NOT accept this."

John closed his eyes. "Well I do."

"No, no! You can't. I won't LET you--I'm getting Xavier."

Rogue turned to leave but John caught her wrists. She tried to jerk away but he held on tighter. "Let me go," she demanded, blinking to hold back tears.

John pulled her towards him. He wrapped his arms around her, trapping her in his embrace.

"Let me go," she demanded again, this time in a whisper.

"If you can't stop me--they won't, Rogue," he told her.

"I CAN stop you," she told him.

"I know. But this time you won't. You know what it would cost me. What it would cost us both."

"You can't do this, John--not after all of this." Rogue pulled back from him, and this time he let her. "I thought you were getting better. Happier. I thought you knew you could trust me again."

"I do trust you, Rogue," he told her finally. "And maybe that's part of the reason I have to go."

"You don't! I WON'T betray you, John, you have to believe that--you can stay."

"I know you wouldn't betray me," he said. "But if I stay--I might betray you. I have to go, Rogue."

"And where are you going?" Rogue snapped. "Where, John? Magneto?! Are you going to join him?"

John didn't say anything, but the silence was answer enough. Rogue shook her head disbelievingly. "I thought we had a connection--I thought we were going to face the future together," she said.

"We can't--because I don't have a future here, Rogue--and I know you can't come with me. I would never ask." John turned to look out through the gate, one of his hands clasping onto the metal chain links.

"What if I did want to?" Rogue asked quietly, following his gaze to the dark street.

John looked over at her sadly. "I still wouldn't ask."

"John--"

"You belong here, Rogue, but we both know I don't."

"You could," Rogue snapped. "If you really wanted to, John--you COULD."

"It doesn't work like that. We all have paths we have to follow, Rogue. And ours don't meet up. Not any time soon."

"If you do this--" Rogue started. "If you do this, Bobby will never forgive you."

"But you will," John told her, flashing an arrogant grin.

Rogue glared at him. "No. I won't forgive you either."

John stepped up to her, placed a hand behind her neck and then moved down to pull her into a kiss. Rogue was too startled to pull away, and she wasn't sure if she could have anyway. He moved away after what could only have been a moment, leaving her shivering at the sudden cold his absence brought. He grinned at her dazed expression.

"Yes you will," he repeated, and then he slipped through the gate and disappeared into the shadows.

Rogue watched him disappear--uncertain what to do. She was caught between chasing down after him, getting someone to help her bring him back--and just letting him go. She eventually turned around and headed back inside. She would let him go, for now--she didn't really have a choice.

When she entered the mansion again, the light from the open door illuminated the Professor's powerful visage. He looked at Rogue sadly. "He's gone."

Rogue nodded, even though she knew it had not been a question. Then she fled past him and up the stairs.

________________________________________________________

John pulled his coat tighter around him. He hadn't looked back, and truthfully, he only had one reason to. Rogue was the only thing he would miss--but he couldn't stay there even for her. He had to leave *for* and because her. She would be far better off with the X-Men and Bobby, and what had been growing between them was dangerous for them both.

He'd been walking for three blocks when he finally came across a phone booth. He entered the booth and shut the door against the cold, nervously smoothing his hand over his lighter. He leaned back against the glass and closed his eyes.

He was doing the right thing. The right thing for him. Magneto may not have the best methods, but he was at least getting things done.

He slowly reached out and picked up the phone, he dropped in two quarters then pulled out the crumpled paper with the number Magneto had left with him. He hesitated for a moment, and then dialed.

The "Hello?" came almost instantly, and John thought it might be Mystique's voice that answered. One of them, anyway.

John's eyes strayed back in the direction of the mansion, and with a sigh he closed them again. No looking back. "Hey," he said evenly. "It's Pyro."

The End--maybe. I'm not sure yet if I want to add more chapters. This was how I always intended to leave it, but now that I've got here, I feel like I need to write more. I'm almost tempted to have Rogue and John end up together or at least write more confrontation ; )---but I'm not sure how I would do it.