A/N: So I changed it. A LOT.

ColorCoated (I think that's what I like the most about this fic, trying to dive deep into their heads and just dissect those brief, world-changing moments in all of this mess. When you really think about what these two have to deal with, the emotional consequences of that are a whole lot stronger than what some folks give them credit for. :sighs: Well, I'd like to say it gets better, but it ends up before Dances, so... Yeah.), CurrentlyIncognito (Sorry! :frowns: I didn't mean to depress you. But um...Read Dances. That one's sweeter. This fic is how they got there in the first place.), Lucky's Girl (Gus's mutation is to suppress others. In the comics, Mystique thought he was the only suitable match for Rogue because of it. And you, girl, are very sweet. I'm glad you enjoyed the chapter. One of the things Ludi said in Dances was about that: Remy is the one that's Rogue's greatest source of comfort, which is what makes it tough to really take when she pushes him away. But I don't actually blame her for being afraid and for not wanting to deal with all of this. She's human, after all.)

Now on to the story.

The Bargain

Neither of them can handle what he does to her. They are both defined by touch, the caress of empty air.

It's like a breath taken away when he suppresses her powers, the shuddering repulsion of skin upon her skin—not his—the frightening burden of the earth beneath her feet—I want to fly.

They hate him.

Beast knows this. He does not mention these things when they test and train and he is watching outside the Danger Room, hands pressed to the glass as another man tries to get a touch in on a girl that won't be touched.

Only him.

I want to fly.

Carol loves the open air. She wishes it away. Anything to have that skin, not waking in the night, heart pounding, remembering that breath taken away.

I want to touch.

I want to fly.

Mantras shudder, sliding towards a harmony. But nothing they can do can bring her back. And nothing they do can take these nightmares away.

He wishes he could reach her. He wakes to watch her breathe shallowly against the pillow, silken strands of white and chestnut rippling over the pillow, bathing his skin with the only touch of hers he'll have. Her eyelashes tremble as though the lids will open and he'll see the emerald shining underneath, but they never do. Her eyes are shut, and he hears the moaning whimpers of her dreams.

"I love y', chère." He brushes his fingers over her hair, breathes the words against her mouth, knowing she will not wake, not wanting to know who would wake if he roused her from her sleep.

He knows when she wakes, she'll turn away and he will not see her eyes.

Neither of them can handle what he does to her. Even Carol is affected by the nightmares, the morbid fascination of a guilty mind with the pain of such potential. She could kill him, the one person she promised to love unconditionally.

It's only a matter of time before the chasm between becomes too great, and she feigns sleep when he wakes and touches her hair—don't shudder, don't touch, please—before rising and leaving her for the Danger Room.

He knows how to play with danger.

But she doesn't. She doesn't.

She wants to scream and rail and just wants this unbearable tension to end, all this fighting against the very thing she wants.

I can give you flight and strength, just let me out. I want to live!

You cannot give me anything I want.

There is only one thing she wants, and both of them know who it is.

She sees a flash of blue eyes, golden hair whipped by the winds in a battle with the Brotherhood. Her skin remembers, too well, the instant, too long, too late, of contact with that uncovered skin. She remembers the promise of a frightened mind without a home: I'll do anything you want. I'll keep him safe.

She cannot have what she wants.


Minds meld into one, ideas exchanged, separate again.

They cry.