What If I Said?

The song 'What If I Said?' was originally performed and recorded by Anita Cochran and Steve Wariner

Italics = Rogue's POV
Bold = Lance's POV

We've been friends for a long, long time.
You tell me your secrets and I tell you mine.
She's left you all alone and you feel like no one cares.
But I have never failed you…I've always been there.

Rogue walked around the side of the Brotherhood Boardinghouse, smirking as she saw the dilapidated sign that had still managed not to get torn down by the boys' antics. She saw her quarry sitting on the back porch railing and cleared her throat nervously.

"Hey, Lance," Rogue said softly as he turned her way.

Lance grunted.

Letting out a deep breath, she walked up the steps and stood next to him, leaning back against the railing, shifting back and forth on her feet.

Sighing, Lance turned to look at her. "Hey, Rogue. I guess you heard, right? She is your roommate."

"That you and Kitty broke up?" At Lance's nod, she continued, "Yeah, Ah heard. Ah spent an hour before dinner listening to her insult you – o'course, she kept using the same ones over and over, so after the third repetition it got pretty boring."

Lance's lips lifted a little in an almost smile. "Yeah, she never was very inventive." He sighed. "She called me a 'hood, Rogue. That really hurt. She's never tried to understand where I'm coming from. I've been in fourteen different foster homes from the time I was seven, and it was the same in all of them: you show weakness, you get put down."

"That may be so, sugah, but you did team up with Duncan and his goons to attack us," she shot back.

Lance looked crestfallen. "Yeah, I know. But you think she woulda at least found out why before she left me."

Rogue looked suspicious. "Why did you do that?" she asked curiously. She really wanted to understand, and unlike Kitty, she'd give Lance a chance to explain…but it had better be good!

"Duncan said if we didn't he and his boys would do it by themselves anyway, and then they'd go to the cops and said we made 'em do it. None of us are 'paths, but it wouldn't matter to the cops. We're mutants, and Duncan's Bayville's star football player. Who're they gonna believe: him or us?"

"Man… I shoulda kicked Matthews' ass when I had the chance," Rogue growled, eyes flashing.

"You can still go after him after school on Monday," Lance pointed out.

Rogue nodded thoughtfully. "True. If we manage ta get through school. That little stunt of yours and Matthews' almost got us kicked out of school permanently." She sighed half-heartedly.

Lance snorted and shot a smirk her way. "Like I really want to go somewhere I'm not wanted? Like you do? No one wants us there, and it's not like even if I do graduate high school I'll be able to get a job. I got fired from the video store when the manager found out I was a mutant. I had to get a job as a dishwasher in the next town over, where no one knows me. At least the pay is good, or I wouldn't be able to pay the bills around here."

Rogue sighed. "Maybe you're right…but we have to at least try, or things will nevah get bettah. We'll always be persecuted. We have to fight foh our rights, just like every othah minority." She gave him a pleading look.

"But we shouldn't have to!" Lance exploded, jumping off the railing. He stuck his hands in his pockets and kicked a rock across the barren backyard. "This is supposed to be America, Land of the Free, Home of the Brave. All I'm seein' is 'America, Land of the Intolerant, Home of the Hypocrites.'"

"Hypocrites?" Rogue asked, her brow furrowing.

Lance snorted. "My manager at the video store, Sal? He's black. Over fifty, and he used to tell me stories about livin' in Alabama, and when the schools got desegregated, and how his sister almost got killed by the Klan. He's been persecuted most of his life…and now he's persecuting us!" He sighed and flopped down on the cracked steps. "It's just not fair…"

Slowly, Rogue walked over to him, and dropped down beside, making sure to keep at least six inches between them so she wouldn't accidentally touch him.

"Yeah… Ah know what ya mean. Everythin's changed. Evan's gotten quiet; he nevah talks no more. His skateboard's gatherin' dust since most of his boardin' buddies want nothin' ta do with him. Bobby doesn't play practical jokes, Kurt's almost frantic about makin' sure he takes his spare holo to school so no one will catch him all furry. Jean won't quit the basketball team even though they don't let her play, and took her trophies down. She says she's making a point, but Ah think she's just scared of things changing. And Scott…" She shook her head.

Lance grinned widely. "Yes, how is loverboy?"

Rogue groaned and flopped back on the porch, hands over her face. "Not that again! Why do you always have to bring that up?"

"Bring up the fact that you had a crush on Summers? It's priceless teasing material, Marie," Lance said, smiling.

Rogue smiled back. "No one's called me that in a long time, Lancelot."

Snorting, Lance said, low in his throat, "No one's called me that, either."

They sat in silence for a moment, before Rogue spoke up. "Ah didn't evah really have a thing for Scott – it's just, he has kinda the same problem Ah do. Ah can't control my skin, and he can't control his eyes. Ah can kill people if Ah don't keep covered up, and he kills people if he doesn't wear his shades. Ah thought maybe we could be friends, on account of the common ground…" She trailed off.

"But?" Lance asked.

"But he's even more afraid of me than anyone else…" There were tears in her eyes, and she brushed them away angrily. "Ah've touched him…twice, and Ah think it makes him mad, knowin' that when Ah got his powers Ah could control them…but he can't."

Taken aback by the melancholy look on his friend's face, Lance, hesitantly wrapped an arm around her shoulders.

"Well, hey, if he's gonna let his pride get in the way, he's not worth it. If he doesn't see how great you are, then he doesn't deserve you," he said gruffly, a half-hearted smile on his face. He wasn't really good at the comforting thing.

You tell your story, it sounds a bit like mine.
It's the same old situation, it happens every time.
Can't we see, oh, maybe you and me…
…is what's meant to be.
Or do we disagree?

Rogue smiled sadly. "Thanks, Lance." She reached up and gave him a peck on cheek, quick so as not to drain him. She'd been getting better at her control, able to hold off her powers for a few minutes, but it took a lot of concentration.

Surprised, befuddled…and also a little touched (not that he'd ever admit it, even under pain of death) at the gesture, Lance said, "No problem, babe."

Rogue snorted. "Babe? Isn't that what you used ta call Kitty?"

Lance shrugged. "It's what I call all hot chicks."

Arching one eyebrow, Rogue asked, "You think Ah'm hot? Didn't know you went fah the zombie look, sugah." She grimaced and looked away, surreptitiously trying to edge out from under his arm.

But Lance wouldn't let her go. "You don't look like a zombie, Marie. And if you left off the Goth makeup, everyone would know how beautiful you are." He wasn't quite sure what made him say that (though it was true) but it seemed worth it when he saw Rogue smile.

"You're full of it, Alvers," she mock-growled, glad her makeup hid her blush.

But Lance could tell. Thinking about that kiss must've shut down the connection between his brain and his mouth, because he blurted out, "You ever think…maybe you and me would work?" Then he cringed, unable to believe he'd said that…even though it was true.

Rogue whipped around so fast that Lance thought she'd get whiplash. "You…and meh?" she stuttered.

Lance could only nod dumbly.

What if I told you?
What if I said?
That I loved you?

How would you feel?
What would you think?
What would we do?

Do we dare cross that line?
Between your heart and mine?
Or would I lose a friend?
Or find a love that would never end?
What if I said?

Oh, my God… This is what I've dreamed of almost since the moment I first met him. But he deserves better than 'The Untouchable'. Rogue took a deep breath and let it out on a shuddering sigh. "Ah…Ah don't know," she faltered. "Ah mean…we're friends. And Ah've never…really thought ah ya as anythin' else."

But Lance caught her hesitation. "Haven't you?"

"Yeah," she said quietly. "Ah have. But…" Tears gathered in her eyes. "Ah can't touch anyone, Lance. Sure, fah a few minutes…until Ah lose mah concentration. But Ah can't concentrate all tha time. And what if Ah'm nevah able ta hold it fah any longer than that? You deserve someone you can touch…and so do Ah," she finished in a whisper.

Putting both hands on her shoulders, Lance turned Rogue to face him. He tilted her chin up and looked into her eyes, holding her gaze steady. "Rogue…I firmly believe that someday you will get control. And even if you don't…there are…ways…around it." He waggled his eyebrows comically, making her laugh wetly. "Besides…we'll never know if we don't try."

She doesn't love you, oh, it's plain to see.
I can read between the lines of what you're telling me.
And he doesn't hold you the way a woman should be held.
How long can I go on keeping these feelings to myself?

Rogue took a deep breath. I hafta at least try to get him to see reason. Then, if he still wants to…still wants me

"You sure you're not just on the rebound from Kitty?" Rogue asked desperately. Oh, she was being offered everything (well, almost everything; she still didn't have complete control over her skin) on a silver platter, but it would be unfair to take advantage. Lance was her best friend…

Lance gave her an incredulous look. "You were the one who pointed out, like, a month into our so-called relationship, that we weren't so much dating, as hanging out and occasionally kissing. Our relationship was practically over before it began."

"If that was true, then why were you so upset when Kitty broke up with you?" Rogue asked; she knew, but needed to stall.

Sighing, and running a hand through his hair, Lance said, "Because I thought, at the very least, that she was my friend. And that cinched it; she isn't. At least not the way I was her friend. Besides, who's to say you aren't on the rebound?"

Rogue blinked, shook her head, and blinked again. Finally she said, "Huh?"

Lance growled, flushed, and looked away. "I know that Cajun has been sniffing after you, Marie. And yeah, he can be charming, but Gambit's a player!"

"Ah know he's not serious about meh, Lance," Rogue said quietly, clasping her hands in her lap. "But he's tha only guy ta evah show any interest in meh…and it's kinda nice."

Lance rounded on her, and said, in an impassioned voice, "He only wants you, because he thinks he can't have you. None of the Acolytes bother to talk to us anymore; I think Magneto doesn't consider us part of his 'team' any longer; so Gambit doesn't know that you're getting control. He sees a different girl every night he has off, and pretends he only wants you. You're a game to him, Marie, why can't you realize that?" He gasped for air, having gotten that all out on one breath. Taking in her stricken face, he dropped his head into his hands. "Aw, man! I can't do anything right," he mumbled.

Unable to bear Lance's pain any longer, Rogue wrapped her arms around him and started talking.

What if I told you?
What if I said?
That I loved you?

How would you feel?
What would you think?
What would we do?

Do we dare cross that line?
Between your heart and mine?
Or would I lose a friend?
Or find a love that would never end.
What if I said?

"Ah…Ah didn't know you felt so strongly about this, Lance," she started. "Ah just…we're friends. And what if we get tagethah…and it don't work out…and then we can't even be friends anymore?"

Lance took a deep breath, preparing to bare his soul. "Rogue…Marie. You're right – we are friends. Which is why I know that this will work." Taking her gloved hand in his and looking deep into her eyes, he said, "Marie, we like each other, we want each other…there's no reason to think it won't work. And even if you never get complete control…there are ways around that." He grinned wolfishly, and was pleased a see a small smile grace her face. "Besides…what have we got to lose? Even if it doesn't work out, we can still be friends. I know it, babe."

Looking into his eyes, Rogue knew Lance was right. If anything in the whole world – her whole world – was worth fighting for, it was Lance.

And she was tired of being lonely, tired of pretending that she was the Untouchable Goth who didn't care about love.

Because she did care.

Oh, we've both had our share of loneliness.
So who's to say we can't have a little happiness?
And if I found that in you…
It would make my dreams come true.
Or would you walk away?
Hear what I have to say.

She had always been more a show than tell girl. Words weren't her strong suit, so she decided to use action to let Lance know how she felt.

"You're right," she said softly, and leaned in to kiss him.

Lance started in surprise, but quickly recovered. Their lips moved against each other tentatively at first, but soon they were moving in a rhythm all their own.

Rogue had never actually kissed someone before. Cody at that party, but she had sucked his lifeforce out before anything really happened. So she decided to think of this as her first kiss.

And what a kiss it was. Lance's lips were warm and soft, and they fit so perfectly against her own. Daringly, she slid her tongue out between her lips and pressed against his. With no hesitation, he let her in.

And then their tongues were twined around each other, almost like the way his hands were entwined in her hair, holding her close. Her own arms went around his neck in a mute plea for him not to let go.

They stayed like for long minutes, lips pressed firmly against lips, tongues moving softly together. Finally they were both breathless, and they broke apart to catch some air.

Lance was the first to speak. "That was…amazing," he said softly.

"Yeah…it was," Rogue agreed. Bringing gloved fingers to her lips, and then moving to touch Lance's, she said wonderingly, "And Ah didn't lose mah concentration once."

Lance's eyes widened, as if only just realizing that he was still conscious. "No…you didn't." Speculation glimmered in his eyes as he said, "You know, maybe you didn't lose your concentration because you couldn't actually concentrate. We should try that again. Just to make sure, you understand."

Rogue grinned back. "Sure, sugah. Anything you want," she breathed out as their lips met in another kiss.

She'd been wrong – Lance was everything she'd ever wanted. Being able to touch was just a bonus.

But what a bonus.

What if I told you?
What if I said?
That I loved you?

How would you feel?
What would you think?
What would we do?

Oh, do we dare cross that line?
Between your heart and mine?

I've always wondered, from the day that we met

What if I said?
What if I said?