Notes: Pre- X2 fic. In response to a request by PsychoTherapy17, who wanted some Pre-X2 Ryro fluff with lots and lots of fun snarkiness. Hope ya like it, Psych!

Chapter One

The coughing was getting worse by the hour, Rogue reflected, pulling her dark green blanket even further over her head. That last set had probably been loud enough to have been heard two states over.

She had felt the cold coming on since the weekend. That familiar tickling in the back of her throat, the tightness in her chest… the signs were as unmistakable as they were miserable, and had had her running for chicken noodle soup, orange juice, and cough syrup as soon as she'd realized that her body was plotting against her. She'd hoped that liberal administration of each would be enough to stave off the worst of it.

She'd been wrong.

Three days and one and a half boxes of tissue later, she remained trapped in her prison of bed sheets with the heater turned up as far as she dared. For the first time in quite a while she was grateful that, in the interest of safety, she was the only girl in her year with a single resident dorm room.

It had been a rough few days, with the cold hitting her harder than it ever had before. Thankfully, the worst seemed to be over now—though she still felt truly wretched. The relentless sneezing and fever were all but past, leaving her symptoms limited to painfully intense coughing spells and occasional dizziness. As a matter of fact, she'd probably force herself out of bed tomorrow, despite Dr. Grey's admonitions. Right now, though, she just wanted one more evening to revel peacefully in her misery.

Rogue frowned hazily, uncovering her head and reluctantly sitting up in the bed. There was a ringing in her ears, and it was driving her absolutely crazy. She had been trying her best to ignore it for the last few minutes, but to no avail. What would one take for something like that, anyway? She was in the process of rummaging through the virtual pharmacy that her bedside bureau had become when the door suddenly burst open with a resounding crash. In her astonishment, Rogue managed to drop an armful of medicine bottles and throat lozenges to the floor.

Raising wide eyes to the source of the noise, she was all the more amazed to find John Allerdyce standing in the doorway. He was breathing heavily, clothing slightly askew, and looking at her with just as much shock as she imagined she was looking at him.

Rogue blinked. "Dick Tracy, I presume?"

He glared at her. Slamming the amazingly still intact door behind him as he entered the room, he moved to stand over her bed, hands fisted at his sides—restlessly opening and closing in a manner that suggested he was fighting the urge to throttle her. "What the hell is your problem?" he bit out. His hair was falling over his eyes, making him look even more unkempt than usual. Naturally, it just added to his intriguingly rebellious looks. As though he actually needed improvement. Honestly, it was enough to make a person sick. Well...sicker. Especially when that person looked like death warmed over, and was wearing truly garish green and yellow plaid pajamas—a gift from Jubilee, and, unfortunately, the only night-clothing she owned appropriate for fighting off a cold.

It was so typical of her life. A whole drawer full of silk and satin nighties, and the one time a gorgeous boy broke her door down to see her she was covered from top to bottom in clashing, possibly glow-in-the-dark flannel.

And was that ever an inappropriate thought for a girl with a boyfriend.

Rogue tried her best divert her wondering thoughts long enough to send a matching glower back at him; difficult, as she was experiencing double vision at the moment. "Excuse me? You're the one who just assaulted my door."

"I've been banging on that damned door for fucking five minutes straight. Why the hell didn't you answer?" He was clearly agitated. Well, she couldn't really say that she cared. She was pretty sure that she was angry with him over something, though, at the moment, she couldn't really remember what that something was.

"Oh, thank God." Rogue sighed in relief, lying back against her pillow as she tried her best to keep her eyes open. "That was you. I thought that one of the voices in my head had come up with a new way to try and drive me insane."

John tugged the pillow out from under her head, and she whimpered in protest, trying to get it back. He held it out of her reach though, and she eventually sat back against the lightly padded headboard, pouting and plotting revenge.

"Why haven't you been in Monroe's class? Or at lunch or dinner?"

She looked at him through squinted eyes, not sure if he was for real or not. "You're kidding, right? What do you think?" She gestured towards the vast number of pill bottles and loose tissue littering her bureau and floor. "Okay, you caught me. I thought I'd take a few days to organize my medicine cabinet."

He rolled his eyes, kicking the bottles out of his way as he moved to crouch by her bed, even with her eye-level. "You've got a real smart mouth, you know that?"

"Yeah? Well, you want cheerful, you can just give me my pillow back."

He actually obliged her, holding the pillow out, and Rogue snatched it away before he had the chance to change his mind. She attempted to assume a more upright position, but all she really wanted to do was roll over and sleep for another twelve hours. Against her will, her eyes started to close once again.

She felt the bed shift slightly as John braced his arms upon the mattress, hovering over her, and it was enough to snap her out of her exhaustion.

She looked up resentfully. She had finally remembered her reason for being angry with him. Or angrier than usual, anyway.

He was examining her intently, and she was once again all too aware of what a pathetic picture she must present. Her hair hadn't seen a brush in over twenty-four hours, and the dark circles under her eyes were truly massive in proportion.

"So, to what do I owe the honor of your oh-so-valuable presence?" she demanded, her cold lending an unusual throatiness to her voice. She winced, reaching for the cup of water beside her bed.

One dark eyebrow quirked derisively. "Is that supposed to mean something to me, or are you just shooting off your mouth like usual?"

If her throat wasn't currently swollen to twice its normal size, she may be tempted to laugh. The best she could manage was a weak huff. "Don't tell me you're going to pretend you haven't been ignoring me for three straight weeks, Pyro? I would think that'd be a stretch, even for you."

She was going for sarcastic and accusatory, but was disgusted to find that it came out sounding more hurt and spiteful than anything. Why did he have to hate her so much? And why did she let it bother her as much as it did? She had never been the type to care too much about what other people thought of her. This fixation on John's perception of her was completely out of character.

She supposed that she should be grateful for his silent treatment and outright avoidance of her. It was better than what she was used to. What kind of fool was she, to actually miss being insulted and mocked for every facet of her personality, appearance, manner of speaking, and behavior? When she had first come to the mansion, he had been so nice. Well, not really nice, but...interesting. And, she had thought, interested in her.

Talk about being mistaken.

"Even for me, huh?" John was giving her the most insolent look, and she wondered why he didn't just leave. Her head hurt—hell, her whole body hurt—and she was in no mood to deal with him at the moment. "And just what makes you think you're so special, Rogue, that I'd even bother to avoid you?" He studied her speculatively before continuing. "You've got a pretty high opinion of yourself, don't you? You figure that if a guy isn't constantly fawning over you, he must be trying to avoid you."

She interrupted him with a very unladylike snort. "Oh, yeah. And exactly when have you ever 'fawned' over me, Allerdyce? Why don't you just do me a favor and get lost? You've been too busy to so much as say hello to me for the past couple of days, is that it? Well, great. I'm kind of busy myself, so—" her words were cut off with a new fit of coughing, even more violent than the last.

When she finally looked up, John was hovering over her indecisively. She got the impression that he actually wanted to help, but had no idea how to go about it. Well, she knew exactly how he could help her. "I think you know where the door is, John, seeing as you nearly broke it when you came in. Go away."

She closed her eyes, trusting that he could find his own way out. By the slam of the door, he clearly had. And he hadn't put up much of an argument about it, either. Not that she cared. Another fit of coughing seized her, and she rolled onto her side, bringing her knees to her chest. Completely miserable, she closed her eyes. Maybe now she could get some sleep.

This was actually supposed to be a one-shot, but it just got too long. So, I've divided it into three parts. Please let me know what you think! I don't write fluff for the sake of fluff a lot, so I am a little iffy on this--I would appreciate your input very much.