It was a book. Just a damned book. And it nearly had her in tears.

Storm had warned her. Jean had warned her. Scott had warned her. Even Logan had tried to tell her that it had been a bad idea from the start, although he hadn't interfered.

And no one needed to remind her how bad off Warren had been when Betsy died.

And they had all tried to make her feel better when she had come back alone.

But it seemed as if the least little thing would set her off. All of the gifts had been burned or tucked away in a box in her closet, and yet, there was always something there.

None of the others had told her that it would be this hard to move on. Although, to be fair, none of the others had left their significant others stranded in Antarctica to freeze to death.

Today it had been a romance novel, bookmarked by a card. Two of hearts.

He'd brushed it against her cheek, teasing her when he'd caught her reading it out on under one of the trees on grounds right before…

She could not have stopped the tears at that moment if she tried. He was gone. As gone as if he had died there. And there was no way that he would forgive her. She'd already tried apologizing.

It was a little over an hour later when she woke up, her eyes dry and her head throbbing from crying out the last of her tears. She fumbled around briefly for a tissue and padded her way softly to the kitchen, hoping a glass of water would take the last edge off her grief.

She had just set the glass down on the table when she saw the note.


I never said I didn't accept you apology either, non? And I told ya once I play for keeps.

She stared, blinking softly, picking up the note. Underneath the folded edges, two cards tumbled to the floor.

A king of hearts and a dogeared two of hearts, exactly like the one that marked her book.

Exactly like…

She didn't turn as she heard the steps behind her, felt the hands on her shoulders, the warmth sinking through the sleeves of her tee-shirt.

"All I can say chere, is it had better be one helluva welcome back ya got planned ta make up for leavin' me out dere in da cold."