The Side Effect Of War

Rating: M

Pairing: Pyro/Rogue

Spoiler: Mind Games and For Propriety's Sake.

A/N: Thank you so much to those who reviewed and encouraged me to continue this series.

Song: "In Over My Head" by The Fray

Lying in bed much later in the evening, John calculated that it took exactly 9 minutes and 10 seconds for them to make it into the hotel room-now a second home to them. Of course considering John's situation with the Brotherhood, he wasn't sure he'd have a home to come back to.

A week after their last tryst, John found himself once again on the battlefield opposite the X-Men. She looked tantalizing in a tight as can be leather body suit and flowing brown hair. She also looked ready to kill anything in her path affiliated with the enemy.

Little did he know that the visceral look on her face he had misconstrued for anger was actually pent up sexual frustration and a few minutes after the Brotherhood and X-men came face to face, John found himself pressed up against a tree, his mouth ravished by the usually controlled Rogue.

It wasn't until he pushed her off him that he noticed one of Magneto's minions staring with surprise at John's apparent betrayal, and knowing Magneto, John knew he would not tolerate such a travesty even though he knew about his relationship with Marie before anyone else did.

Thus, knowing Magneto would feign innocence and threaten to expel Pyro from the Brotherhood upon hearing of his indiscretion, John hadn't been back to headquarters for exactly three days.

He contemplated contacting Rogue the very night after the battle but changed his mind, because he knew if he came to her with this situation she would convince him to come back to Xavier's and against his protestations he would succumb, like he always did, with a bit of convincing on her part of course.

He knew coming back to Xavier's would backfire eventually and he also knew things would change drastically in their personal relationship; therefore, John had yet to tell his lover of his predicament.

Now, lying in the glow of aftershock, he couldn't for the life of him ignore the gnawing voice in the back of his head telling him to stop being such a wuss and make a decision.

It really came down to compromising his principles for his personal happiness, because he knew he would be more than willing to give up the Brotherhood for Rogue, but would he be giving up the only integrity he had?

That question remained unanswered until dawn, when wide awake, John turned to his sleeping counterpart and stroked her delicate unblemished skin and decided that perhaps the decision wasn't so hard to make if he could wake up to her every morning.

That morning Rogue woke up shivering. A bit disoriented, she rubbed the cobwebs of sleep from her eyes and tried to find John in the sunlit room. There was no sign of the pyromaniac, and despite her inner voice telling her not to worry, the level headed girl couldn't help herself and got out of bed to put on some clothes that would fend of the cold.

Winter in New York could be so deceiving, she mused, more so to keep her thoughts away from the inevitable question of where her missing boyfriend was, than actual curiosity about the weather pattern.

After slipping into some sweats she brought with her, she opened her pack of Capris and lit a cigarette, inhaling deeply and crawling back into bed, still not allowing herself to think about the repercussions of John's absence.

The past reared its ugly head once in a while and caused a rift between the two lovers. Both knew John was a notorious runaway and both knew at times she could be the most hurtful and distant person towards him because he chose to support a cause driven by a man who tried to kill her some years back.

Sometimes, when they made love and he reached up to brush that singular strip of white hair from her face, Rogue wanted to scream and lose control of her power just for once, only to hurt John because he was the closest tie she had to Magneto.

Of course, afterwards she'd feel guilty and not speak to him for much of their rendezvous. John never knew what she was thinking, which is why he must've brought up the whole 'mind games' thing with her.

Rogue blew out a puff of smoke and contemplated his inquiry from some weeks back, mainly because she didn't remember giving him an honest answer in response since she'd never thought about that.

Was she really playing mind games with him?

She'd been so caught up in his past mistakes, trying so desperately to hold on to him in this relationship that she kind of forgot that she was capable of mistakes too, and what was worse was that because she had never committed them, she was unaware of their magnitude.

Stubbing out the cigarette, Rogue rolled over on her back and stared at the ceiling, wondering if she was making mistakes in this relationship right and left and John was too defeated to point them out.

After all, no one knew about their relationship, well except Logan, and though the wolverine was near and dear to her heart, she couldn't confide in him about certain things, John and sex being two of them, so Rogue had no outside perspective and she knew John well enough to know he would never speak up.

He'd leave though…

I never knew
I never knew that everything was falling through
That everyone I knew was waiting on a queue
To turn and run when all I needed was the truth

"You scared the hell out of me John." She yelled into his back as he walked nonchalantly into the hotel room four hours later.

She'd fallen asleep a few hours before but when she'd awoken alone again rumination turned into panic and his 'devil make care' attitude wasn't helping any.

"Sorry mom." He quipped back, his tone dripping with sarcasm and smelling of alcohol.

"Have you been drinking?" She walked up to him and spun him around, catching a whiff of gin on his breath.

"I had a mimosa with my breakfast darlin'." He made a failing attempt to mock the high society life he oh so despised, Rogue merely rolled her eyes.

But that's how it's got to be
It's coming down to nothing more than apathy
I'd rather run the other way than stay and see
The smoke and who's still standing when it clears

However, her anger subsided as she sat on the bed and flashbacked to the talk she had with herself that morning, realizing that she should be slightly less harsh with him, even if he did go and get drunk at 6 am, god knows where.

Catching herself in the act of pestering him, Rogue felt marginal relief but simultaneous fear, recalling all the other times she wasn't so self aware.

John turned around, wondering why she stopped attacking him and watching as Rogue twisted the comforter between her fingers nervously sobered him up a little bit.


"Yeah." Pyro sat down next to her gingerly, giving her space yet close enough to catch a whiff of her perfume.

Let's rearrange
I wish you were a stranger I could disengage
Just say that we agree and then never change
Soften a bit until we all just get along

"Do I make mistakes?" She looked up at him with large saucer shaped coffee hued eyes and he was speechless.

"Everyone makes mistakes." He shrugged, not really knowing what else to say to such an open ended question.

"But do I make mistakes that harm you?"

That definitely sobered John up considerably. He had no clue where these questions were coming from and although still a bit confused, decided to put his battle with angst farther back into his mind and figure out what was bothering his girlfriend.

"Rogue…Marie, where is this coming from?"

"No where." She shrugged and walked towards the vanity she adored so much. Silently studying her reflection, Rogue wondered if it had been the right choice to ask John these questions that made absolutely no sense to her either.

"I don't know why I feel like this, but something is telling me that I'm about to fuck this up and selfishly I have always thought you would by leaving abruptly. This little shtick you pulled today wouldn't have angered me so much if in the back of my head I haven't been doubting your ability to commit this whole relationship."

Studying John's stunned reaction in the mirror, Rogue never left so much regret at being honest. Then his face changed completely and he stood up, reaching into his pocket, flicking the lighter as if it were his last lifeline.

There was heavy silence in the room, and the clicking from the lighter wasn't alleviating the quiet, on the contrary, each click felt like another slash to Rogue's heart and tears filled her eyes and the defeated look on John's face.

Then suddenly he led out a loud chuckle, and then another, and then another until he was full on laughing, the whole time burning deep circles on Rogue's shoulder blades with his eyes. His expression was unreadable but Rogue guessed he had just been delivered the shock of his life.

"So you thought I'd fuck this up too huh?" Shaking his head at either the absurdity or the predictability of her comment, John picked up his jacket and pulled it on haphazardly.

But that's disregard
Find another friend and you discard
As you lose the argument in a cable car
Hanging above as the canyon comes between

"Well, since it is such a predicable trait of mine that you've held on to, it will come to you as no surprise when I walk out this door and never see you again unless I'm beating the shit of one of your fucking X-Men, whenever that might be." He walked closer to her, alcohol prevalent in his decision making process and his breath.

"John that's not what I-…" John interrupted her with a forceful kiss that Rogue was no expecting but relished in, thinking it would be the last opportunity to be so close to him.

"Guess what Marie." John breathed heavily against her collarbone and Rogue shivered for the second time that morning, "I wasn't just using you for sex."

He couldn't help but wonder if it were simpler that way, if he had been using her for sex maybe they wouldn't have ended up so fucked up in the end. Not that the beginning was any healthier, they just chose ignore that for all the time we've loved each other they've been on opposing side of one war and sooner or later it would've caught up with them.

Now it had.

"I know you weren't." She was quite in her affirmation but he understood in her voice how tired she really was. Perhaps even as tired as he was.

"I don't want to lose you." He whispered, tracing that infamous lock of white he knew she despised so much but to him remained an endless reminder of how he could never truly commit himself to the Brotherhood.

"You wont." She looked up at him, reveling in his warmth, "Even if we don't do this anymore, you wont lose me." She said uncertainly and John knew exactly what she meant without actually saying it.

"Are you positive about that?" He asked shakily, unsure of exposing his vulnerability to her, more than her answer.

"Never, baby, I promise you."

And suddenly I become a part of your past
I'm becoming the part that don't last
I'm losing you and its effortless

And to John the vow seemed genuine, sincere just like everything about her had been up to that point. Even when they made love, he could see an earnest expression of pleasure in her eyes, an unbridled love he knew she only ever felt towards him, and this enticed him to pleasure her even more.

Now, it seemed that the woman he thought he knew so intimately revealed an ugly side of herself he wasn't sure he could cope with, and all because she had admitted to him what she held so fearful to her heart.

She couldn't let go of the past, she couldn't give him a chance that deep down he knew he didn't deserve but still felt she would be the one to give. He had relied on her on self-renewal and the future and with just a few words she destroyed his dream.

John knew he was being irrational but couldn't hold back the deep hatred that sprouted whenever someone would broach the topic of his past betrayals and penchant to run when shit hit the fan.

Without a sound we lose sight of the ground
In the throw around
Never thought that you wanted to bring it down
I won't let it go down till we torch it ourselves

He just never thought this moment would occur with her.

The woman he loved.

"So I guess loving you wasn't good enough huh?" He asked, but he expected no answer, nothing she said would've comforted him anyway.

"No!" Rogue replied, clutching his arm in her hand, feeling her skin almost sent him on a fire rampage. All he wanted to do was unleash all his anger and blow up this fucking hotel, with her in it.

Consequences and heartbreak be damned.

He was done succumbing to his human side, it never benefited him anyway, not when the woman he thought he would marry someday (if he looked so far in to the future) was throwing all of his insecurities back in his face and wounding herself in the process too.

"I think we're both just tired Rogue." He sighed, walking slowly towards the door, "Don't you agree?"

The helpless mutant could do nothing but watch him walk away.

As he opened the door and walked out he said, "I think we're experiencing the side effect of war so maybe we shouldn't fight anymore."

And she knew he wasn't talking about the X-Men or the Brotherhood.

He was talking about them…

Everyone knows I'm in
Over my head
Over my head
With eight seconds left in overtime
She's on your mind
She's on your mind