Authors' Note: This is the sequel to "Not Like Bobby . . ." –you know, the one I said I didn't intend to write? Well, everyone's feedback was so positive and the Pyro scenes in X-Men 3 so disappointing (what a waste of Aaron Stanford) I just couldn't help myself. This scene is my dream of what should have been- when Rogue waits in line to receive the cure for mutation.

Disclaimer (delivered in haiku): I own nothing here,

No character, no plot line

Thanks to the big men.

Not Broken-

Rogue waited in line, suspended between mutants she assumed were as desperate and broken as she was, as she was suspended somewhere between hope and despair. She stared at the back of the enormous man in front of her, her arms crossed tightly against her stomach. She couldn't hear the shouts from the crowd, couldn't feel the occasional sprinkling of rain from the dark clouds overhead. In an hour she could be free. The thought made her shake and tremble.

There was a motion at her back, a stirring of air.

"I always knew Bobby was a coward but I thought you at least had some guts." The voice was in her ear, all of a sudden, so close it might have been coming from inside her own head. But Rogues' thoughts had ever been articulated in that hot snarl.

She turned slowly in the line, brushing her hand against the wall, hoping irrationally that the touch of cool indifferent stone might help steady her. But Rogue was wearing her gloves and all she felt under her palm was the texture of the blocks- they were almost as rough as the beat of her heart. When she opened her eyes she found herself nose to nose with John, once again close enough to feel the fever under his skin. Normally being suddenly so near to someone would have Rogue scrambling desperately to move away but on one side of her was the wall, at her back was another mutant, and she wouldn't step out of line. She wouldn't.

"What are you doing here, John?" She demanded, lifting her chin stubbornly.

When she dared to look into his face she could see something had changed about him. John was standing ramrod straight, legs apart, like a solider Gone was that aggressive indifference he must have practice to get it so perfect. Gone too was his ever present lighter.

He had not let go of his rage though. Rogue could almost smell it, coiling around him like campfire smoke.

"Looking for traitors." He answered, glaring down at her

"I don't see any mirrors around here." Rogue snapped back. She wouldn't apologize for her choice. She wouldn't let him make her ashamed.

"I'm not the one standing in line waiting to join the other side-"

"Don't- don't you dare! You have no idea what it's like- to never touch-"

"You touched me."

It was true.

And they were standing close enough that they were almost touching again.

She couldn't let him confuse her. She wouldn't get out of the line. Ignoring the ghostly memory of his lips on hers and the cinnamon smell of his anger, Rogue looked up at him, straight into his eyes, "So what?" She asked deliberately.

His recoil was so brief- as fast as the flicker of a flame- she might have missed it. But looking up into his eyes- having been behind his eyes once- she saw it clearly.

And because she had hurt him, he would hurt her back.

"Do you think this'll change things between you?" He mocked, putting one hand flat on the stones about her left shoulder, pinning her in place. The line moved around them, creating a wall between them and the view of the crowd. Sunk as they were in their own battles and desperate hopes, the other mutants ignored them. Pyro and Rogue barely registered except as an obstacle to be avoided.

"Do you think he'll love you the way you want him to now? That maybe if he can touch you, he'll need you?" He wouldn't break their eye contact, trapping Rogue with his gaze and his body positioned to prevent escape. Even when he reached over with his other hand to toy with the edge of her jacket and his fingers grazed dangerously close to the skin of her neck, he wouldn't let go of her eyes "Maybe he'll be hot instead of cold-" The old sneer was creeping back into his voice.

"It's not about that-" The rough stone was digging into her shoulder blades, pressing hard enough to bruise but it didn't seem as intrusive as Pyros' gaze. "This is for me." She insisted.

"No." He rejected her words fiercely, "This is you." He leaned in and brushed his lips against the side of her neck, where his fingers had cleared a little patch of milky skin. The kiss was fleeting but she could still feel it- the fire that was John washing over her, engulfing her like a wave.

Her breath caught on a sound somewhere between a sob and a sigh. It was wrong to want this- which was perhaps the reason she needed so desperately to get rid of it- to rid herself of the temptation. What she had never confessed to anyone was that sometimes she felt a longing to use her power, to reach out and drink the essence of people in great rushing heady gulps. The desire could be nearly overwhelming. Like now. John was still bent over her, his breath stirring the hair against her neck but she felt like she was swallowing him. Her mouth was full and heavy with the taste of it- the burning that was equal parts pain and beauty- that was John.

He glanced upward at the sound she made before deliberately lowering his mouth again. This time it rested against her jawbone. Her eyes fell shut. It had been so long- no one had touched her in so long. Not since he had.

"John-" Rogue didn't know if she was begging him to stop or to keep going. She was gripping the lapels of his jacket, poised on a knifes' edge to push him away or pull him closer.

He slid his fingers into her hair, his fingertips resting against the warm secret hollow where skull meets neck. Her power was pulling at him but he felt no pain, only a hot caressing sensation like fire over and just below his skin. It didn't feel like an invasion. It felt like intimacy.

John was trembling, desperate for more and only frightened by his desperation. This was the only thing he missed. The only thing he regretted leaving behind.

He moved slowly, to prove to himself that he could, that he had not completely lost control. It seemed to take years for him to lower his mouth to hers, to lean his body against her body. The sensations from this moment of contact hit him from all sides at once- her sweet soft mouth, her sweet soft warm body, her fear and desire and the old war between them. John, her blood sang. John, her lips shaped against his before opening to him. He slid an arm around her waist and took all that she offered.

When they parted finally, John leaned his forehead against hers and Rogue could feel his breath moving gently across her eyes. She could hear the rushing rivers of his blood, feel his heart pounding against his breastbone . . . or was it her heart? It was so good, so sweet- that little connection and she left her eyes shut so she could enjoy it just a moment longer.

"You're not broken." She heard him whisper and one of them took a fluttery uncertain breath.

Maybe he was right.