So the thought popped into my head; what if,…? This had spun off my work on Partners, but had no place there and over the last two days took off on its own path. I hope you like it.

Merick

"Whatever the issue is, we have to deal with it now."

"No we don't Rogue."

"You may be able to shove this animosity out of your mind Scott, but I can't. And I am not leaving here without knowing what your problem with me is."

"I should think I'd made that very obvious by now."

We were facing off in the center of his office. At my arrival he'd finally come out from behind his desk; the one that looked like Xavier's. Damn, if truth be told the whole damn place looked like Xavier's. It wouldn't have been hard for anyone to figure out whom he was trying to emulate. He'd spent his whole life in the shadow of a great man, and now that that man was gone, he needed to fill the void in the only way he knew: to replace, rather than build on the lessons. At least that was my take on it: which admittedly could have been clouded by the anger I felt towards him. I figured you had to earn respect, not step into someone else's shoes and simply expect it.

I could have had that respect for him, but not anymore. It had been a year since Xavier had been lost to us; and we had all dealt with our grief in different ways. He apparently did not approve of my methods and had been riding me, fueling a greater sense of derision and venom between the two of us.

I had never had a problem with Scott before; I had even harbored the hope that Scott would step up, in his own way, and give us the point to rally around. But I suppose none of us really had any point once Xavier was gone. That fact saddened me, as I knew it would have saddened Xavier; to know that he was the only glue that had held all of us together. He had wanted it to be the teamwork, but we had, all of us, fragmented in our own grief once he was gone.

Oh certainly, Scott had those who wanted desperately to keep the X-Men together, and all of us had really tried. We still went out on missions together, and in the heat of battle we were everything Xavier had dreamed of. But back in the mansion we were 'Ronin', a word Logan had taught me: lone warriors. At least the more senior of us were. Those who were junior students clung to Scott's authority, having nowhere else to turn, especially now that the possibility of their own mortality had been thrown in their faces.

Piotyr had left months ago, awash in grief, and Kitty had followed him, needing to comfort him as much as to take comfort from him. They had returned to his native Russia. I heard from her once in awhile, they were trying to build a life there for themselves.

Storm was still here; she would always be here for the children. Kurt had gone away and returned several times over the months, searching for a place where he belonged. And though I sensed he was not comfortable with everything as it now stood, he needed, by his very nature, to stay in the fight against evil, and he needed to be here. He'd figure it out for himself soon enough.

Jean was here, out of tribute to what Xavier had started, and the technology she had at her disposal was addicting, well perhaps that is the wrong word, perhaps helpful or integral, to continuing Xavier's dream, no matter how her husband was perverting it.

Logan came and went as he saw fit, just as he had always done. But lately even he was taking more assignments from the Canadian government. I had reason to believe that they wanted him to head up his own domestic team, and this time they had obviously found enough incentives; proper ones, to keep him talking. His longer absences had finally forced me to make my own decisions about staying or going, and Scott's attitude had tipped the balance.

Logan and I had found each other after a drunk one night up on the roof. He didn't get drunk easily, but was sure making a good attempt at it that night; and it was my birthday, and Xavier always remembered my birthday. No one else did, and me and my bottle of bourbon were feeling mighty sorry for ourselves that night.

I was two or three shots in when I heard him scrabble up the roof beside me, the last two beers in their plastic ring holder, swinging from the index finger on his left hand. He plunked himself down beside me, pulled one beer free, popped the top, took a swig and finally turned to me.

"Beer?" he asked, I held up my bottle.

"No thanks, I'm good."

He nodded, finished off his open beer, crushed the can and tossed it into the yard.

"I'll pick it up tomorrow."

"Whatever." I had another drink from the bottle and continued to stare out into the night sky.

"What are you celebrating?" The sarcasm was obvious.

"The usual I suppose."

"How wonderful things are in our lives right now?"

"Yeah, spot on." I had another drink, he finished his second beer and the can joined its mate on the lawn. I held out the bottle for him.

"Thanks." He took a drink too and handed it back, grimacing, "that tastes like shit."

"Yeah well."

"But seriously Rogue, what's going on?"

"Absolutely nothing." Bloody hell I was being obtuse. "Sorry Logan. I just felt like feeling sorry for myself for awhile."

"Want me to leave?"

"No, company would be nice actually." Maybe it was the bourbon talking, I didn't care, and neither did Logan it seemed. He slid a little closer to me. I still had my gloves and body suit on, so he wasn't in any danger, even drunk that part of my nature was always in the forefront of my mind. I finally looked up at his face, stone, as it always was, but with a purpose behind his eyes.

"I just need to stop thinking about things here for awhile." I swung the bottle around a bit, and Logan caught it mid ark in my swing.

"Well, that'll take care of it, but you'll hurt in the morning."

"At least I'd feel something other than grief."

"Maybe I can help with that." He had a new look in his eyes, one that I recognized. "You want to come back to my room?"

"You got a death wish?"

"Oh I'm sure we can come up with something."

That was how it had started, we found a respite from the pain with each other, and Logan had been right, we found a way; his healing factor giving us a bit more time. I think he actually liked the risk involved, maybe it helped to make him feel alive again too. I had no illusions that I was the only woman he was sleeping with; it didn't matter. Friends with benefits, that was all I needed, mostly it was just a port in the storm. But Scott saw my coping strategies differently. And now my support system was thinking about leaving, and I needed to make my own decision; and I had. I had come to Scott's office to tell him I was going, not necessarily to follow Logan, he had not asked me, only knowing that I had to get away. But I wasn't going to leave with the knot in my stomach, wondering what the hell was going on in Scott's head. I had enough eating away at me.

And so here we were, shouting at each other again.

"I have my own theories Scott, about why you've decided to treat me like shit, but rather than give you more ammunition, why don't you just humor me this one last time and tell me the truth."

"Just go Rogue, you don't want to be here, and I don't want you here where you can poison anyone who might actually be loyal to me."

"Is that was this is about? You don't think I'm loyal to you? Good God you are arrogant Scott." He said nothing. "When we are in the field don't I always follow the game plan? Your plans? Just like always?" I had to admit that Scott was an excellent strategist; he had always given the orders on missions, even before.

"No Rogue, you're good in the field. And you are a real asset to the team."

"Then what?"

"It's what happens when we get back."

"What I do on my own time is none of your God-damned business, or anyone else's." I wasn't giving up my anger easily, it felt too good to let loose.

"You made it my business, and everyone else's when you started drinking and started sleeping with Logan!" Oh boy, he had venom too it seemed, and he liked the feeling of it as well. Now the truth was out.

"I don't ever drink in front of the students! And I've never missed an assignment, or put anyone at risk! And who I choose to sleep with is my choice!"

"And the young ones who avoid you in the halls after dark?"

I had had no idea I was inspiring fear, part of me felt ashamed at that revelation.

"Why do you drink Rogue?"

"Because then I don't have to think about him, or feel the loss for a while."

"We all miss him Rogue." Could I be imagining it? Was his voice getting softer?

"Well I guess I'm just not the 'crying in the shower' type anymore."

"No, apparently you're the 'casual sex will make me feel better' type." Ok, the animosity was back, in full force.

"That was cruel! You can go to hell Scott! I haven't said word one about your coping methods! You're just trying to replace Xavier! Maybe you even think you can become him," I spun in the room, my arms outstretched. "Everything you do channels his ghost!" Now it was his turn to be defensive.

"I am following his path, his dreams!"

"Make some of your own Scott! You aren't him and you never will be! And as soon as you can accept that you can start moving forward!"

I was as shocked as him at the words that had come out of my mouth. They were the truth, but I had never coherently stepped into his shoes before, not enough to really see. We stood, facing each other silently as the ramifications of all the accusations cut into us. He was the first to speak, and it was barely above a whisper.

"You could have come to me." Behind his ruby glasses I could see the pupils dilate. The scowl on his lips had relaxed to a sad smile and his shoulders, once tensed as if he wanted to pounce at me, had now sunk.

"What?" I answered in question; not believing what I was hearing after so much hatred had been thrust at me.

"I wanted you to come to me," he swallowed hard, this was obviously killing him to say out loud. "You were supposed to come to me."

At that point I didn't know exactly what he had meant. Did he mean that he had expected all of us to pour our grief out to him and wait for his sage advice to transcend our misery? I thought not, this seemed a lot more personal, and as it ran around in my head my own expressions softened, his words had managed to completely deflate me.

"You said I should make my own dreams Rogue?" I was beginning to regret every word I had spit out in anger. "Well I did, hundreds of nights lying awake, dreaming of how you would come to me, how you would trust me to help you, just as you trust me in the field."

I shook my head, "I didn't know, you never said anything."

"I meant to, dozens of times." This was news to me, and besides disarming my adversarial posture; I was beginning to feel weak in the knees. "I came to find you, on your birthday."

"You know when my birthday is?" I was shocked; Scott only smiled, just a little.

"But I heard you and Logan up on the roof, and I couldn't join you. I guess I figured you'd find your comfort with him too, just like all the women around here seem to."

His voice had such regret in it, something here was so deeply personal that his words, which might have stung me five minutes ago didn't affect me at all.

"Jean?" I ventured, knowing I was overstepping. I gave Scott credit though; he kept looking straight into my eyes as he answered me.

"The day of the funeral, I don't know how many times afterwards."

"Oh Scott, I'm so sorry." And I meant it.

"I gave up caring about it a long time ago Rogue. I just wanted someone to need me again, for me, not as a leader, just as me. I wanted that person to be you, and I let myself get carried away in the fantasy."

"I was a fantasy?" I was beyond shocked at the way this conversation had turned, but Scott seemed bolder with every moment. His hands reached out to the silk scarf I was wearing around my neck. He pulled gently at one end and it slipped free.

"You still are." He brought the mass of nearly transparent fabric to his face and breathed in my scent from it.

"Was I meant as some kind of revenge on them both? Or replacement?"

"Never. I just wanted you, and wanted you to want me." He twisted the ends of my scarf around his fists. When I had first walked into the room, had he been doing that I would have assumed that he planned to garrote me, but now I had no insight. I stood my ground as he took the two steps, which separated us. He raised the silk in his hands and put it over my lips, and then he brought his mouth down over mine and pushed his entire body against me.

It's not that Scott wasn't attractive. He certainly was, in the cover boy model sort of way. Perfect hair, perfect teeth, pressed clothes, soft skin, he was the antithesis of Logan. Logan was the kind of guy who you hooked up with for a good, animalistic, passionate tumble, one who would likely never call you again, or even bother to learn your name. But one that would rock your world for the half hour or so of it that you let him have. Scott was different, Scott was someone who you could think about making love with, spending a whole night with, touching, and tasting and fitting into. You could. And until that moment, I had never, ever, thought of such a thing. But the insistent crush of his mouth against mine, and the nearness of his body and I could think of little else, and I wrapped my arms around his back, and pulled my body against his with as much force as I had. I could feel his chest heaving against mine, and I could feel the pressure growing against me as he became aroused. And I could feel myself responding to him, and I was lost.

When he did pull his mouth away from me I had to take several hard breaths just to steady myself. He dropped his hands, and the silk and I was able to look at him directly in the face, we were still pressed together, both perhaps, too afraid to make another move. What had been anger for so long, while seemingly easily dispelled, was really not. And I needed a moment to put my head back on straight and sort out what the hell was going on. But at the same time, the closeness of his body made me want so many different things.

"You dreamed about this?"

"A thousand times."

"And it's what you want, knowing everything you do about me?"

"Could I be what you want? Knowing every word of anger I have hurled at you over the last year?"

I had forgotten them all in that moment. I gave him my answer by brushing my gloved hands down in between us, resting them on the front of his perfectly pressed trousers, pushing just gently against his desire there. He moaned softly, still staring into my eyes.

"I hope I can live up to the fantasy."

He curled his head around to whisper into my ear, "you already have." Then the silk was back over my face, and he pressed kisses against my eyes, the bridge of my nose, then its tip, both cheeks, and back to a waiting mouth, desperate for him by then. Nimble fingers, despite the gloves, had undone the waistband of his pants, and the zipper, and were beginning to caress him; shyly because though my body had made it quite clear what it wanted, my mind was still catching up.

He pushed the tip of his tongue against the silk, seeking my own, and nervously they touched and tasted for the first time, it didn't even matter at that point the limitations of my powers, all I felt was the desire growing to have very part of him that I could. My hands continued their work, feeling the heat of his body, even through his boxers, and I found that it greatly excited me to be able to make him tremble the way it seemed I could.

"I don't want to wait any longer for you Rogue, please, I need you now." The silk was curled back around one fist, and his other hand was working on the buttons of my jeans.

"Here?" I was a little concerned about how we were going to go about this.

"I have condoms in my desk."

"Really?" Perhaps there was a bit more surprise in my voice than I had meant there to be, but it hadn't stopped his work opening the front of my jeans, and beginning to slide them off my waist.

"I always had hope." I could do nothing but smile as he lifted me from the floor to lay me on top of the desk, cleared of all work, as Scott's desk always was by the end of the day. He fumbled in a lower drawer, underneath his files and pulled out what he was searching for, them turned back to me.

"Yes?" He asked, once more for reassurance.

"Yes."

And he was straddling me, and running his hands over me, urging me to guide him. I did, my mind still trailing a few steps behind. And then I felt him brush himself against me, and my whole body trembled with the anticipation, and then he thrust himself inside me with a deep moan as I enveloped him, and wrapped my arms around his back, drawing him to me deeply. His movements were frenzied, long denied passions finally released, along with the anger and the sadness of not knowing where or how to focus. I let myself cry out to him, and it only fed his desire, and in moments I could feel the tension in his muscles begin to build and it only fed my own. His breaths were staccato, and then he gave himself to me with a cry of pure delight, it nearly brought tears to my eyes, even as I came for him. And his paced slowed, moving against me until he became still, and simply looked down at my face, smiling. I could not tell what was on his mind at that moment as his face hovered over mine.

"Close your eyes." I did. And then I felt his mouth touch mine again, but this time there was no silk, and his tongue forced into me, and danced with me, and I felt the drain of my power begin, only seconds after realizing the bliss of real human touch. I threw him off of me as I felt the burning begin in my eyes, knowing I was taking his beams. I kept my eyes closed as I sat, trying to face the direction I had pushed him away. I did not know what might happen if I opened them, and I did not know if I had hurt him.

"Scott?" I cried out into my self-imposed blackness. "Scott are you ok? Speak to me?"

"I am here." The voice was weak, but definitely alive, thank God.

"Are you insane? Do you have a death wish?"

"I think I used to Rogue, but I'm not so sure anymore."

"Why would you do that?" His fingers brushed through my hair, I started at the touch.

"It was worth it."

I felt something pushed into my hands; glasses."

"They're spares, put them on until the power fades." I fit them over my ears and nose, and only then dared to open one eye; just a crack to make certain it was safe. The whole world was red through the ruby crystal.

"This is what you see?"

"Everyday."

"Wow." Not very original I admit, but I was probably lucky I could even get that coherent thought together at the time. I looked at Scott, my mirror opposite in his own glasses, and then down at myself. Realizing my exposure, I quickly pulled my self to decency. "You're ok aren't you?"

A bright smile lit his face. "I am perfect right now Rogue."

"Is it what you wanted?"

"In almost every way."

"What did I miss?"

"I want to wake up with you beside me, so I know it wasn't just a dream, or a one night stand." I was quiet, suddenly there was so much more to consider, I guess my brain had finally caught up, though apparently it wasn't in total control as of yet.

"Do you want to come back to my room?"

"Yes, I do."

"I came here tonight to tell you I was leaving, you know that right?"

"I thought as much, and I knew it was going to be my last chance."

"And are you happy you took it?"

"I'll tell you in the morning. You aren't going to leave now, are you Rogue?"

"I'll be there in the morning."

"No other promises?"

"Not yet, I still have a lot of healing to do, we both do."

"We could be good for each other."

"Yes we could Scott." I held out my hand and he took it, and we left his office and went up the stairs to my room. Once inside I sat down on the end of the bed and he joined me.

"Can I ask you something Rogue?"

"I'll try to give you a good answer."

"Why do women turn to men like Logan?"

"Because he's the bad boy, the rebel without a cause, the dangerous body that can make you feel safe and frightened all at the same time. He's strong and hard, and can make you forget about everything."

"And why not men like me?"

"Because men like you really scare us Scott. You're sensitive and responsible and dependable, and you don't just give yourself away for pleasure. With men like you there is a commitment to every action, and we're so afraid to disappoint you. Sex is one thing; it's easy, physical, a quantifiable release. But with men like you it's intimacy, and that is so much deeper, and so much more real and frightening."

He thought about that for a few minutes, while he held my hand.

"Shouldn't all that be a good thing?"

"Yes Scott, it should."

"Can I ask you one more thing?"

"Ok."

"Do you have any more silk, because I want to touch you again, and undress you, and make love to you before we sleep."

A tingle ran the length of my body at that point, and a visible shudder.

"Top drawer." I managed to get out, pointing at my dresser. I didn't know what was going to come by morning, perhaps the sunlight would bring an end to the fantasy, perhaps not, but I could wait those few more hours to see. I began to unbutton my shirt, and I laid back on the bed to wait for him to come back to me.