disclaimer: I do not own Marvel (TM) characters...

Rogue shut her anthropology textbook, feeling herself becoming overwhelmed with sadness. She had just read a passage about the concept of language. A man-a scientist-had taken orphaned infants and used them in a n experiment. Half of them were used as the control group, raised like any other child. The other half only received the minimum requirement of human contact to meet their basic needs for survival. They weren't held, they weren't spoken to. The scientist wanted to see if the development of language was inherent to human nature. He never did find out. All of the "experimental" children died for lack of human contact. Was that to be her fate as well? She was incapable of human contact. Well, not incapable, just extremely dangerous. She would end up killing anyone who wanted intimate contact with her. Then who would she have? She tried to suppress the feelings, but they has already surfaces in her consciousness, overwhelming her. She didn't want to display her vulnerability to the others, whom already pitied her. But a single tear ran down her cheek, betraying her carefully guarded emotions to the outside world.

Bobby Drake was sitting beside her on the sofa, their bodies touching without actually touching. He saw her hurriedly shut the book she was reading, and turn her head away from him. He tried to pretend to continue reading his own book. He knew she didn't want him to witness her fragility and frustration, but he cared about her. He wanted to be close to her. He just didn't know how. He sat for a moment, trying to figure out how to comfort her without appearing to be bestowing pity on her. Then he saw the tear roll gently down her soft, pale cheek. it was too much for him to tolerate. It was breaking his heart. He wanted to sweep her up in his arms and comfort her-love her. He desperately wanted to wipe away the tear from her cheek, a gesture that she'd never accept. She wouldn't let him touch her. They had kissed that once at his parents' house. He'd never forget her lips, what they felt like pressed against his own. He felt that sharing that kiss only had deepened their relationship. He could tell that it had only highlighted her insecurities. She felt that she had lost control, that she had hurt him. She hadn't hurt him then. But she had hurt him now, by pulling away. He may not have been as close to her as he desired, but he was close enough to her see when she was suffering, and it hurt him as well. He couldn't stand it any longer, if they kept maintaining this distance, if she kept pulling away, and if he continued to let her, neither of them would stay sane for much longer.

He turned towards her and lightly touched her chin to turn her back to face him. She turned her head quickly to face him, and brought up a gloved hand to remove his from her skin. He stopped her gloved hand his own free one, holding it tightly yet gently still. She could feel his power and energy being absorbed slowly by her body, her skin tingling at the contact. Sure that she would not try to stop him, he let go of her hand and wiped the wetness from her cheek, gently caressing her skin with his thumb. His hand rested there for a moment, cupping her face. Their eyes met in understanding. He didn't want her to push him away anymore. She wouldn't. she didn't want pity. He could never reduce her to a creature to be pitied. They realized that they couldn't be intimate in traditional ways, but they were very close. They simultaneously broke the contact, trying to catch their breath. Rogue smiled at Bobby. She might survive after all...