Moving On

Summary: One of the undoubtedly numerous 'what happens after X3' fics. X3 spoilers and slash, in Bobby's POV
Fandom: X-men
Pairings: Bobby/Rogue, hints of Bobby/John, John/OC, Remy/Rogue
Warnings: Bad language, slash
Disclaimer: I own Cypher and the Medusa. Nothing else
Author's Note: I apologise profusely for the long time you had to wait. Have another chapter, with my compliments. Free cyber-cookies to all who review

Chapter 3 – The Need to Know

I would have liked to sleep in the next morning, but it was Thursday and I had a class to teach. I staggered out of bed and into the en-suite bathroom. A cold shower woke me up a little until I felt about capable of facing the students. I didn't really feel like breakfast, so I went straight down to my classroom.

I had the younger students first, so there was nothing too taxing on the agenda. Just as well really – my mind was mainly occupied with the events of the previous night. Sensing my preoccupation in that rather worrying way that schoolchildren do, the class paid very little attention. But I wasn't really paying attention either, so that was alright. I had senior students next, however, so I had to get my head together a bit for that. I finally made my decision which eased my worries somewhat. It was break after that class, so I let them go a few minutes early, and headed towards the Biology classroom.

"So Ah want those projects on mah desk by Monday," the familiar accent drifted out from the classroom, followed by a chorus of 'yes, Professor D'Ancanto'. I stood aside as the students streamed past me then knocked on the door to announce my presence. Rogue looked up briefly, and then did a small double-take as she saw me, eyes betraying her surprise. We hadn't really spoken much since we split up.

"Ah have a lot of work to do," she said neutrally.
"I know," I replied, "So have I." I examined my sneakers once more, trying to phrase my request in the most inoffensive way possible; "Rogue, can I talk to you?"
"Uh…why?"
I managed to raise my eyes from my sneakers and look at her; "Something's happened, and I think you have a right to know."
"Are you okay?" she asked, frowning. She glanced around her rather disorganised classroom, "Come in, have a seat."

I gratefully sank onto a spare chair and she sat near me, a look of curiosity tinged with suspicion and apprehension on her face.
I paused, unsure of how to start; "I'm having a…moral crisis of a sort, and I think you're the only person who'd understand it. Or care, for that matter."
"Maybe you ought talk t' Kitty then," she muttered.
"No, it's not about me," I said quickly; "I went out to the Medusa last night, and I…I ran into John."

He eyes widened, and for a moment she struggled to frame a coherent reply. I could practically feel the shock radiating from her. "Wha- Why didn't you kill each other?"
I raised my eyebrows at the question, and she smiled sheepishly; "He's changed a lot," I said, "It was a kind of truce, I suppose. He didn't try and blast me into oblivion, so I felt it was polite to return the favour."
"Where has he been all this time?"
"He didn't go into any detail. He…" I stopped. I knew I should tell her everything, but it was hard to put words around it. Her eager look was replaced by a slight frown.
"Ah know there's somethin' you're not tellin' me."

"He looked…sick," I said, gazing at my shoes, "I asked him what was wrong, and…"
"And?"
"He's got cancer, Rogue. He's dying."

I finally summoned the courage to tear my eyes away from my shoes – I was really going to have to get that sole mended – and look at her. If I had thought she looked shocked before, it was nothing compared to how she looked now. Her initial response was much as mine had been:

"What!"

Afterwards I felt bad for dropping that on her. But in a way, I'd have felt worse if I hadn't told her. She had a right to know: after all, she'd been friends with John as well before he switched sides. We both had things to do, so I made my excuses and left. I went back to the Medusa most nights after that. Sometimes John was there, sometimes he wasn't. We would talk about nothing in particular for a while then go our separate ways at an unspoken signal.

It was about a month after I'd first met them in the bar that I saw Cypher walk in alone, John nowhere in sight. That was so unusual as to be just plain weird – I'd never seen one without the other. He leant on the bar, ordering a drink, and I went over.

"Hey," I said. He looked at me warily.
"Hi."
"Where's John?"
"He's gotta talk to some people about some things," Cypher said evasively. Neither of them had ever said what they did for a living, but I got the feeling it wasn't entirely legal – what else would you expect from a world-famous hacker and a notorious terrorist? I nodded in understanding and tactfully dropped the subject. I didn't really know Cypher very well – I always got the impression that he didn't particularly like me. I racked my brains for something to say, but to my surprise, he spoke first.

"What?"
"I didn't say anything," I replied, confused.
"You wanted to," he shrugged; "It was pretty obvious."
"Oh, right," I paused, considering how to phrase my reply; "I just realised I don't know anything about you."
"Observant," he commented, then grinned at my offended expression; "Sorry, I just can't help myself. If you're that curious, ask away." As soon as I had the chance to ask, everything I'd wanted to know immediately disappeared from my mind. I gathered my scattered thoughts.

"How did you meet John?"
He shifted uncomfortably then said quietly; "It was about two years ago. He…he saved my life."
For a moment I could only stare.

"Details?"
"I got cornered by a mob of those anti-mutant psychos," he said, downing a shot, "John came past and saw – one moment angry mob; the next, pile of crispy barbecue." I suppressed a shudder at the vivid mental image that his flippant description gave me. I'd seen the effects of John's powers up close a few times too often. But something I was beginning to understand about Cypher was that he rarely took anything seriously.

Perhaps it's not a bad philosophy. I certainly don't think I could have coped in his position. Sometimes if you don't laugh, you'll end up crying.