Title: "A Simple Rose"
Author: Pirate Turner
Dedicated To: Pirate Sparrow -- Happy Valentine's Day:-)
Rating: G
Spoilers: Joseph's fate as well as the author's "When Roses Speak", "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing", and "A Simple Kiss".
Summary: It's Valentine's Day, but Joseph's gone . . . or is he?
Disclaimer: Joseph; Rogue; Remy "Gambit" LeBeau; the X-Mansion; the X-Men; and all other characters mentioned within are © & TM Marvel comics and are used without permission. Everything else is © & TM Pirate Turner. The author makes absolutely no profit from this story.

An unseen head snapped up, faded blue eyes coming instantly to alert, at the sudden exclamation of an angry, Southern voice on the other side of the door. "Remy LeBeau," Rogue nearly spat as she opened her bedroom door, "Ah don't know how many times Ah've already told ya I'm not interested, an' if ya try an' give me those flowahs one more time, Ah swear Ah'm gonna make ya eat them!"

She stormed into her bedroom, her emerald eyes blazing with barely contained fury, leaving a very upset Cajun in the hall. "But, chere -- " Gambit began to protest even as the door slammed shut in his face.

Rogue stormed over to her window and almost instantly regretted looking out over the snow-covered grounds of her home. Her eyes fell immediately on the deep, passionate kiss Scott and Jean Grey-Summers were sharing, and when she ripped her eyes away from them, the sight of the married couple's loving embrace was only replaced by Logan and Ororo's. Rogue snatched her eyes just as quickly as she had before, and this time her gaze turned to the blue sky that stretched far above. There was not a cloud in the sky; indeed, it was a day meant for flying. She might have enjoyed it on any other day, but there was no way she would make the mistake of setting foot outside of the quiet sanctuary her bedroom provided her a second time that day.

A figure suddenly appeared in the sky, and Rogue blinked in startled surprise. Slowly, she began to be able to make out the form, and then a frustrated sigh escaped her mouth as she turned her back on Warren and Betsy. She was so sick of all the warm, loving scenes around the mansion and even sicker still of the flowers, candies, and little hearts. It wasn't that she didn't understand for she couldn't blame the others for enjoying Valentine's Day to its fullest nor would she wish for any of her loved ones to be even an ounce as miserable as she was. She just wished they'd keep it to themselves, but she knew from past experience that this day meant for lovers gave every one with a sweetheart an excuse to display their feelings openly without any concern for whoever else might be around.

There had once been a day when she would not have hesitated for even a second to join in the festivities, but how could she when the only man who she had ever truly loved who had returned her love in full and without ever hurting her lay six feet under? Without him, Valentine's Day was just another day in Hell for her. All of the sweets and roses throughout the world meant nothing to Rogue if they did not come from him or she could not at least share them with him. Her eyes turned to her dresser where they were met with a set of dazzling blues, and tears filled her eyes as she whispered his name, her heart breaking even more than it already had been. "Joseph . . . "

He watched her silently, his heart shattering even more at the sadness he saw in her eyes and the grief and loneliness he knew filled her heart. His every fiber desperately cried out for him to hold her, but he knew he could not. He had only been able to touch her that once on Christmas Eve, and no matter how hard he had tried since then or when or even where he had tried, he had continued to pass right through her. He would have given everything to be able to hold her just one more time, but he knew all too well that there was no price he could pay for her that would be any greater that what he had already given up to save her and the rest of her world.

As tears ran down her face, he flew closer to her. He dipped to where he hovered right before her, his eyes gazing into hers. "Oh, Rogue . . . " His own voice broke with emotion as tears filled his eyes. His shaking hand reached out to cup her cheek, but his hand passed right through her flesh, only succeeding in sending a shiver through her that made her wrap her arms around her torso even more tightly.

"If only there was a way," he whispered to himself, knowing she could not hear him as he turned from her to once again scan her bedroom. "Some way to make her know I'm thinking of her . . . Any way to let her know that I'm still with her . . . "

Rogue began to move again, and Joseph watched as she walked toward her dresser. He followed her and reached her just as she opened the top drawer of her dresser. He peered questioningly over her slender shoulder as her fingers dipped into the drawer, and he smiled sadly when he saw what lay in the top of the drawer.

As she stared down at the single rose, Rogue had no ideal that she was not the only one suddenly flooded even more with memories of the past. She remembered the day he had given her the rose with a bittersweet smile and tears shining in her eyes. It had been just a normal day, but he had turned a typical shopping trip into a momentary romantic break from their hard lifes. She had never been able to figure out how he had managed to buy the rose without her seeing him when she had been with him that entire day, but she now finally realized that he must have found a way to do so when she had been lost in his eyes.

Her chest heaved a silent sigh as she remembered those deep pools of baby blue. They had always been so easy to get lost in, and she once more began to lose herself in his memory as she reached out for the rose. However, when the rose suddenly moved just outside of her reach, Rogue's surprise forced her to snap back to the harsh present. She sighed again and shook her head. She hadn't slept well since the previous Christmas, and she knew that her mind had to be playing tricks on her. The rose had never moved; it was only her imagination.

When she reached again for the rose, it not only evaded her hand but soar to hover before her startled eyes. As Joseph's unseen arms circled Rogue so that he could keep the rose before her, his scent suddenly filled her nose, and a feeling that she had only felt once before nearly overwhelmed her. "Joseph?" she whispered so softly that her own ears could barely even make out her words, both her lips and body trembling. "Is that you?"

In response, he leaned closer. His head bent to press a kiss to her silky hair, but his lips passed right through her yet again. "Joseph?" she whispered his name a second time, her trembling fingers outstretched for the rose.

Although she could not see him, Rogue knew that it was Joseph's hand that brought the rose towards her and then placed it in her hand. Sparks shot through both as his fingers passed through hers. As Rogue's hand gently but securely grasped the rose, she smiled through her tears. Although she missed him even more than before, there was still no end to the relief that filled her heart by just knowing that he had not truly left her.

"I'll never leave you, Rogue. Through Heaven, Earth, or Hell, I'll always be with you. I love you, and I'll never let you go." Her ears could not hear his whispered words, but it would have made no difference if he had screamed them at the loudest possible decibel straight into her ears.

"Ah love you too, Joseph," she whispered, her voice barely audible and breaking even more than before with the mixture of emotions that filled her soul to overflowing. She gazed down at the rose, and a tiny, white teddy bear looked knowingly up at her as it served as the one witness to the eternal love the mutant shared with her paranormal soul mate.

The End