- Y'all know the dilly yo that I don't own these characters and Marvel does though the song, "Lately" belongs to a Mr. Stevie Wonder

Lately

The infinite amount of sparkling white flakes fall in a fury. Every corner of the glorious green land becomes covered with a thick blanket of snow, and it looks like the blanket will only grow thicker. Although the platinum provides an impeccable view that can only be fully appreciated by seeing it with one's own eyes, it also provides a cold uninviting atmosphere that will make even the polar bears shudder. The blistering chill of the blizzard will be reason enough to stay out of the many potential fun-filled snow banks. But for this one man, he will defy all reasons as he soars high up into the sky and remains hovering while the snow falls endlessly.

It is not so much that he prefers the company of the freezing cold weather. It is not so much that he is admiring the beautiful scenery that only Mother Nature could provide. In truth, he does not know why he chooses to linger in the middle of a blizzard.

Maybe it is because it reminds of him of that one fateful night where he gives her, her first kiss since Israel.

Maybe it is because it numbs the undeniable heartache that he feels every day.

Maybe it is because he is trying to prove to her that he is not afraid of the cold, and he isn't afraid of her love - like the other man is.

Maybe it is because he is trying to show her that although they are two years from then, she has chosen to leave him in Antarctica now.

---

Lately I've had the strangest feeling

With no vivid reason here to find

Yet, the thought of losing you

Has been hanging around my mind

---

Sitting on the couch with his arm around her shoulder, she snuggles up closer to him while trying to stay awake. The fire is roaring, the mansion is silent for once and it only tempts her more to close her eyes and sleep.

"Sugah, don't mind me if ah fall asleep on ya." She warns him while yawning at the same time.

He chuckles softly and pulls her closer to him to provide more warmth, though by the look of the fire it proves to be highly unnecessary. But she doesn't reject his action and instead delight in the fact that nobody is afraid of touching her now that her powers are under control.

"Thank ya, sugah." She mumbles for perhaps the thousandth time since that night he helped her do the impossible.

"No need for that, my heart. You did it all yourself." He says and kisses her softly on the top of her head. A satisfied moan escapes her lips for she can never get enough of physical contact.

"Joe, trust me, it was all you. Don't know how ya got me t'do it, but it was you who did." She states firmly, reassuring him in her own subtle way that he is very much a necessity in her life.

"Rogue, only you had the strength to go through all those vigorous tests that you went through, and I don't mean your physical strength. You're incredible, did you know that?" He states more than questions.

"With compliments like that all the time, ah can see why ah love ya so." She murmurs and looks up at him with her glowing green eyes. He smiles gently at her before bending down and giving her a soft kiss on the lips.

He will jerk back suddenly as the grounds' alarm goes off. The two bolt up from the couch and ran towards the front door. The other X-Men are there already and the door is wide open. It is pitch black outside as Logan and Cyclops scan the perimeters, yet not going into the vast area just yet, due to Professor Xavier's orders. Scanning the area with his telepathic gift, he finally opens his eyes and he looks completely astounded and surprised by his findings.

"Professor, what is it?" Cyclops asks while he attempts to read the Professor's expression but comes up short.

"It's Gambit." Xavier simply replies.

"Remy?" Rogue mumbles, and as soon as she does, she flies out the door in a rush.

"Rogue!" Joseph yells after her as he runs out the door as well. She is too high up to hear him, however, while she scans the area intensively. With the help of the moonlight, she sees a glint of red in the far distance and quickly races to get there. Joseph follows in mad pursuit, but he will arrive ten seconds too late.

Upon seeing Rogue's bent form over the bruised and battered body on the ground, he freezes as he watches the former lovers re-acquaint.

"Remy? Remy? How did ya get here? Are ya okay, sugah? Ah'm so sorry. Ah'm so sorry." She cries almost incoherently as she cradles his head in her lap.

"Chere... dis be so good t'see y'. Been dreamin' about dis for awhile..." He mumbles before he passes out from exhaustion.

He doesn't remember much else about that night after that. But what he does remember is the sudden pang of pain in his heart – undoubtedly the crack that has begun it all.

---

Far more frequently you're wearing perfume

With you say no special place to go

But when I ask will you be coming back soon

You don't know – Never know

---

The dining hall is as boisterous as always. Almost every X-Men are engaged in one conversation or another – the key word being almost. For Joseph, he mentally disassociates himself from reality as he chews on whatever concoction Jean Grey has cooked up that night. The only thing on his mind right now is his girlfriend, although that title is becoming more questionable every day.

He watches her smile and laugh like he has never seen her done so before. Even in the happier times of their two years together, he has never seen her smile that way – at least not for him. It's painstakingly obvious that she can only smile that way for Gambit and in a sense; it will always be Gambit's smile. Though, that does not stop him from yearning for that smile to be his – for her to be his and not just part of her, but all of her.

It has been five months since his return, but for Joseph, it feels like he has never left. At first, he was hostile towards her, but ultimately even Joseph knew that he still loves her. How can one not? She has tried futilely to assure him that it is over between her and Gambit, but that was when she didn't know that he still loves her. Perhaps, she knows now but he isn't ready to ask.

"Remy! Stop it!" She squeals as Gambit tickles her side.

"Den y'shouldn't have taken my dinner roll!" He chastises lightly while relishing in the fact that he can be so close to her now.

"Ah said ah was sorry!" She complains while trying to fight off his wandering fingers.

Not able to look at the two any longer, Joseph gets up and leaves the room abruptly, silencing the room on his way out. The tension is so thick in the air he swears he can practically see it. But see it or not, he ambles out the room in search of anywhere that will provide a relief from reality.

"Joe! Joe! Wait up, sugah!" Her sweet southern drawl calls from behind him. One to never be able to ignore her, he stops while she runs up from behind and faces him.

"Where ya goin', hon?" She queries, concern in her eyes.

"Need to take a walk." He answers briskly while trying to remain angry with her.

"Want me to come wit' ya?" She offers and takes his hand into her own.

He wants to say no. He wants to tell her that he will not tolerate her shameless flirting with the other man. He wants to tell her to stop playing with his heart so carelessly. He wants her to love him for all that he is.

He does nothing except says, "Yes."

---

Lately I've been staring in the mirror

Very slowly picking me apart

Trying to tell myself I have no reason with your heart

---

Stepping out of the shower, he grabs a towel and ties it around his waist. He looks in the mirror and is glad that he sees nothing due to the fogging up of it. He hates how he looks because he knows that his face isn't really his. It belongs to someone else. His life belongs to someone else. And in a sense, it is that very reason why she chooses to take a chance on him in the first place. Then, she had yearned for something that doesn't exist anymore.

Now, he is the one who does the yearning.

He walks out of the bathroom and back into their room. Gazing around, he notices the many trinkets and mementos of their relationship. In the corner on top of drawers is a bouquet of a dozen dried red roses, the one he bought for her last Valentine's Day. Next to it is a glamour portrait of her in a rather revealing dress, given to him by her on that very Valentine's Day. By the vanity table, there lies the antique silver jewellery chest he had searched the entire state of New York for in order to give it to her on her birthday. He knows in it lays the diamond bracelet that had accompanied the chest. It is then that he realizes that she has stopped wearing the bracelet a while back.

Shaking his head with distress while drops of water flies off his platinum long hair. He ambles towards the dresser and immediately halts in his actions when his eyes set upon the picture frame. Picking it up with a mixture of desperation and apprehension, he gazes at her dazzling smile and also at his own. She has her arms wrapped around his waist, he has his around hers; they looked so secure, loving - happy.

The events of that night come back to him as he closes his eyes and remembers. It was a year and a half after the trial and it was also their one-year anniversary. He had brought her to her favourite restaurant in the heart of Manhattan where he rented a private room that was decorated with twelve dozen red and pink roses. He remembered her surprise when he brought her there. He remembered how her eyes sparkled with absolute mirth. He remembered that that was the night she told him she loved him.

Flashing his eyes open, he drops the picture back onto the counter. Pulling out a drawer too hastily, he inadvertently pulls the whole thing out and all the contents fall to the ground. He bends down and begins to collect the clothing that is obviously hers. Stuffing the drawer back with her clothing, he stops when he finds a piece of paper that clearly doesn't belong with the rest of the items.

It is a picture.

It is a picture of him and her.

It is a picture of Gambit and her.

And in the picture she has that smile – the smile that only Gambit owns, the smile that will never be his, the very smile that offers all her love with it.

---

Just the other night while you were sleeping

I vaguely heard you whisper someone's name

But when I asked you of the thoughts you're keeping

You just say nothing's changed

---

The light heaving in her chest used to bring a sense of happiness to his heart. Now, all it does is remind him that he's living a lie. Maybe he should just count his blessings. After all, she still returns to him every night. She still makes it a point to reassure him about her stance on their relationship. She still tells him she needs him. Yet, he can't ignore the fact that she doesn't say those three little words all too much anymore. And really, that is all he needs to hear whether or not they hold any truth to them.

He watches her slumber with the help of the dim light of the dying candle on the bedside table. If only she knows how much he hurts inside. If only she will tell him that he has no reasons to hurt and actually mean the words she says. If only she will just love him.

He knows he is holding onto something that isn't really there and at this very moment he isn't sure if it ever existed in the first place.

But he refuses to face reality. He wants to live in ignorance. He cannot let her go. He will not let her go. He slips his arms around her waist and pulls her closer to him. Relaxing slightly, he revels at the feeling of her in his arms and at the thought that she will always be there.

She loves him.

He knows she loves him.

He closes his eyes and kisses the back of her head while tightening his hold on her. She stirs slightly and he hushes her with a sweet soothing song she always sings in the shower. Feeling more secure about their relationship he slowly drifts off to sleep.

But he will become alert in an instant as he releases his hold on her.

"Remy." She has whispered in her sleep and that will be all he hears for the rest of the night.

---

Well, I'm a man of many wishes

I hope my premonition misses

What I really feel my eyes won't let me hide

'Cause they always start to cry

---

The snow is falling harder – hard enough that the flakes cut where his skin is exposed. He doesn't feel the pain that it causes though. He's too numb inside to feel anything. He has been living a lie too long to know what life feels like. Even the pain has turned into a dull numbing feeling that occasionally will send a sharp pang of hurt to his heart to remind him that he is still alive.

He knows that he should leave her. He knows that love isn't supposed to be like this. He knows that he should free himself and free her.

But he has coveted her for too long now. He has made her his reason for living – for simply being. He has made her his everything. Without her, he has no one.

Without her, he will no longer know who he is, himself.

And so, despite the pain, despite the constant breaking of his already shattered heart, despite the obvious love that she doesn't have for him, he will continue to hover in the air until he is ready.

Until he is ready to go back and live the lie that he has masked as reality.

'Cause this time could mean goodbye.

------------------------------------