How to Cure the Common Cold (Without Really Trying)

Chapter Three

Rogue just looked at him, disbelief and embarrassment coloring her expression—trying to ignore the fact that all of the blood in her body had suddenly relocated to her cheeks. Naturally, it was a losing battle. She huffed in exasperation and made to stand up. Before she could get very far, though, John had grasped a fistful of her hair, pulling her back down again.

She fought the urge to hit him, and only just barely came out victorious. He was wounded, after all.

"You could have told me you weren't dying, you know. I was about to run for Dr. Grey." She affected a sing-song voice, mocking herself. "'Hey, Dr. Grey? I just put another boy in a coma. I thought you oughtta know.'" Rogue shook her head. "Oh, yeah. That would've been fun."

John smirked slightly, breath leaving his lips in a silent laugh. "I don't know. Personally, I can't think of a better way to go down."

Rogue scowled at him. "Oh, yeah, like I haven't heard that one a thousand times. And, you know what?" she bit out. "Each time I hear it, it gets a little. Less. Funny."

"Yeah? Good. It wasn't meant to be funny." His grip on her hair loosened, and she moved to lean back against her pillows, eyes closing as she was suddenly overwhelmed with the exhaustion that inevitably followed any excessive use of her powers. John's absorbed persona was buzzing around beneath the temporary mental field she had erected, clearly not happy with being pent up. The effort of holding him back was, all at once, too much for her. She focused her remaining strength on letting him out—but gradually, as the Professor had taught her. Slowly enough to avoid overwhelming her own psyche.

Lots of people imagined that she absorbed entire personalities and life histories. That wasn't strictly true; really, it was more like getting a sampler of different individual facets and memories. A little bit of everything, and so jumbled and expansive that she usually couldn't put the pieces together into a comprehensible order even if she wanted to. Which she absolutely didn't.

The experience was no different with John. No different except that, in the past, she had invariable resented the overflow of other people's thoughts and feelings into her brain. With John, amazingly, she almost enjoyed it. One thing was for sure—it had definitely put a new spin on things.

She thought that she may have drifted off for a few minutes. Maybe a half an hour, but definitely no more than that. At some point, John must have hauled himself up from the foot of the bed. He now lay across from her, head on her pillow. They weren't touching, but they may as well have been. When she opened her eyes, his face was the first thing that she saw.

It was an unsettling, but not altogether unpleasant, way to wake up.

Rogue scrunched her eyes closed—not sure if he was awake or not. If he was, she wasn't ready to deal with him.

If he wasn't... she still wasn't ready to deal with him.

She could feel him inside of her, moving about in her mind. For once, the sensation didn't disturb her. It was almost nice, in a very disturbing sort of way. Her whole body felt wired—somehow, more alive than it had before.




One eyelid raised hesitantly...covertly. Only to find John staring back at her, brows arched lightly. Lips curved into a knowing smirk. Blue eyes laughing at her.

Rogue sighed, officially dropping the pretense of sleep, and rolled over onto her back—abandoning the comfort of the pillow, but for the greater good of putting a little distance between them. And hopefully doing so in a sufficiently subtle matter. If she had held out any doubt that John was aware of his effect on her, all she had to do was examine the absorbed thoughts she now carried about in her mind. With the first touch of his lips against hers, that hope had been virtually annihilated.

And, oh boy, now was most definitely not the time to think about his kiss. Not when they were lying on her bed. Not when the sun—the only source of light in the room—was slowly fading outside of her window, leaving them bathed in only the dimmest of light. And most definitely not while his hot little thoughts were jumping around beneath her skin, telling her everything that she had wanted to hear from the very first day she had entered Ms. Munroe's classroom. Her eyes closed, seemingly of their own volition, and she latched onto the first coherent thought she could find.

"How long has Bobby been cheating on me?" And, come to think of it, that was a really damned good question. One that she would like to know the answer to, and in great detail. She needed to know just how hard to slap him the next time she saw him, after all.

She felt rather than saw John's hand lift to tangle in the ends of her hair—still spread out across the pillow next to him. "You picked up on that, huh?"

She snorted inelegantly, sending him a dirty look—but making no attempt to free her hair from his soothing grasp. "Bits and pieces. Among other things. And you needn't attempt to sound so sympathetic and regretful. I happen to know for a fact that you're just delighted with this whole damn situation."

His hand tightened in her hair, tugging gently in retaliation, and she smacked it away. "I asked you a question, John. Are you going to answer me, or am I going to have to go back in for more information?" She winced as soon as the words left her mouth, and, of course, he didn't miss a beat. She was thankfully spared from the usual sarcastic remark, but the salacious grin he offered in its place was almost worse. Rogue rolled her eyes—really more annoyed with herself than she was with him.

What kind of idiot was she? How could she not have realized that her 'perfect' boyfriend had been messing around with her supposed best friend behind her back?

And, more importantly, how had she missed the fact that the bane of her existence was madly in love with her?

God, she was confused. And hurt. And happy. And then confused again. She was completely wrung out, both emotionally and physically, and all of the stress of the last few hours suddenly burst out with all the callousness of a match striking flint. "Damn it, John, I want to know how long my boyfriend has been fooling around with Kitty Pryde, and I want to know now. Why do you keep stalling?" She sat up, batting his hands away as the betrayal really hit home. "Why won't you answer my question?"

John's expression—which had, in the last few minutes, been more open than she ever remembered seeing it—rapidly closed off. He glowered at her, arms crossing over his chest as he lay back against her pillows. "'Why don't I answer your question?' Fuck. Why don't you quit your bitching for five seconds and answer a question for me, huh Roguey? How come, of all the shit you leeched out of my brain, the first and only thing you're fixating on here is Bobby fucking Drake?" His gaze remained fixed upon her reproachfully, full lips pulled thin as his teeth locked into a visible grind.

Suddenly, it was all Rogue could do not to smile. Her thoughtlessness had hurt his manly pride. How cute was that? Distracted from her anger, she hesitantly returned to her position, lying down on the bed. This time closer than before, and facing him.

When John made no move to look at her, she scooted even closer, tugging at his crossed arms until he looked up—glare still firmly in place. She shamelessly drew upon his absorbed memories, easily finding the one expression—somewhere between 'tremulous, pre-crying jag' and 'puppy-dog pathetic'—guaranteed to make him cave. It worked like a charm, of course. He rolled his eyes, and then stretched an arm nonchalantly along the top of the pillow next to him.

It could easily be mistaken for a casual attempt to find a more comfortable position on the bed. But it wasn't. She knew it, and he knew it. All it would take was one move on her part, and their relationship—as it were—would be irrevocably altered.

Rogue chewed her bottom-lip nervously, hesitant to take that final leap.

He really was a jerk.

'Yeah, came the echo of his persona, now permanently etched into her subconscious. I really am.

If he had irritated her before, when she had only seen him on the odd occasions that they both happened to be hanging out with Bobby at the same time, imagine how much he would bother her as her boyfriend.

'I fully intend to drive you insane at every possible opportunity.'

She didn't doubt it in the least.

'You shouldn't. You know, you're fucking hot when you're fighting the impulse to kick my ass.'

Damn him. He was still lying there, watching her. Lips curved into a smirk, blue eyes mocking her. He didn't doubt for a moment that she was going to take him up on his offer. Not for a single moment.

'As if you could resist me if you tried.'

He had a point.

'And have you even noticed that you haven't coughed once since you kissed me—'

Rogue scowled. " You kissed me!"

John frowned. "Yeah... I kissed you. That just sinking in?"

'Since you kissed me, you haven't coughed once. That's me, baby. I'm the best anti-cold remedy you'll ever take.'

God, that did it. How much could a girl be expected to take? Shaking with laughter, Rogue ignored John's outstretched arm—instead choosing to settle easily on top of him. But not before kicking out blindly with one sock-clad foot. At the end of the bed, Bernard toppled from his place of honor.

One of Rogue's hands came up to entangle in John's hair, and she nuzzled her face against his chest. "Okay, okay. I surrender."

Over her head and inside of her head, John smiled.


At last, we reach the end... Please, please let me know what you think! It took me several hours to write this, and it would take you...what? thirty seconds to leave me a comment? Believe me, I appreciate every piece of feedback I receive, so... ;)

And, to my lovely reviewers... my deepest apologies for not thanking you each individually, as I am accostomed to. I'm running a bit short on time tonight, and I figured that you would rather go ahead and be reading the fic than wait 'til tomorrow. My apologies--won't happen again--and my thanks for your past and continued comments:)