This chapter got split into two parts because it was getting a little long, so the next chapter will be up quick as a jackrabbit on speed. It's quite a bit shorter, but you'll make due.


"First rule of combat - trust your instincts."

Rogue rolled her eyes at what she was sure Logan considered sage advice as she raised her staff, mirroring his action. The older man grunted and raised an eyebrow as if to say 'I saw that'.

It was four thirty in the morning and Rogue really wasn't in the mood for talking. Beating things to a pulp, yes, lectures on how to give said beatings, not so much.

It was the same way Logan always started his lessons.

Trust your instincts.

Go with your gut.

Don't think, just do.

As Logan's most advanced student, she had heard them all before. Over and over again. And seeing as how she was, once again, laying flat back on the mat staring up at him with little birdies flying around, it was one lesson that wasn't quite getting through.

"Ah did trust mah instincts." She groaned as she refused his hand to stand. She got up on her own. "They told meh you were gonna swing left."

"No, you seeing me drop my shoulder told you I was going swing left - my instincts told me you saw that and I'd have to trip ya up." He smirked. "Which I did, by the way."

She picked up her staff once again and got back into the ready position.

It was going to be a long day.

***

Rogue was...frustrated. That was a good word to describe the burning feeling she had in her chest.

The professor was certain she had some how tapped into Gambits psyche just before she decided to steal the Blackbird. Only problem was she didn't know how she had done it, or why.

And as for controlling the touching part of her power...lets just say she'd been spending more time in the Danger room than both Logan and Remy combined working off her...frustrations.

Really, the only thing keeping her from reaching over the Professor's desk and draining him dry for ever getting her hopes up was the fact that she had no need for the telepath in her head.

That, and Logan probably wouldn't be very pleased.

The professors oh-so wise suggestion on gaining control over her skin? Be calm, clear your mind.

That was a real help when she had at least 20 voices in her head screaming at her at all hours of the day.

But he seemed to think that she had already touched Homework a multitude of times and just hadn't noticed. More than likely while she had been asleep, or just when she was playing with him.

While Rogue trusted and cared for the professor...she felt that, in this particular instance, the old man was full of so much crap his eyes were brown!

Trust your instincts, Rogue.

Clear your mind, Rogue.

"How's it goin', Rogue?"

Rogue looked to see Remy standing there with Homework tucked under his arm. Not in the mood to put up with whatever it was Remy felt like harassing her about today she just held out her arms.

"Give meh the dog."

"Pardon?"

"The dog. Homework. Ah want him" Then, as an after thought. "...please."

"Y'r lookin' pretty tense, chere...m'ybe y' should jus' let me keep him f'r now."

"Dang it Remy!" She stomped her foot, secretly wishing his face were under her boot. "Just hand him ov'a!"

"Calm y'rself down, Rogue."

"Calm yar self down, Rogue. Clear your mind, Rogue. Trust your instincts, Rogue." She mocked under her breathe, snatching a happy Homework out from under his arm. She pointed an accusing finger in his face. "Y'all reallah need tah stop tellin' meh what tah do!"

She turned in a huff and stomped up to her room. "Men." She spat.

Remy watched as she took off down the hallway shaking his head. He could never win with her, that's for sure.

"Women." He mused aloud.

On the plus side...As much as he hates to see her leave he loved to watch her walk away. He snickered to himself. From where he stood he could hear her bedroom door slam.

Shrugging to himself he went to see if there was anything left that was edible in the fridge.

***

Disregarding Scott's psyche reaming her out, Rogue threw herself up on to her bed, dirty boots and all. In fact, all the psyche's complaining did was cause Rogue to ground her dirty boots into the blanket even harder.

She mentally stuck her tongue out at him.

She pulled Homework to her side, cuddling hum under her chin.

.net/s/5385392/

In her arms the puppy whimpered and squirmed out of her arms to look up at her with an expression that said "Just try and ignore me lady...you know I'm cute enough to make you cave.". She let out a soft laugh.

"'Cept for you of course." She frowned again. "Well, it's decided. With the obvious exception of you, ah'm just gonna ignore everything male from this point forward."

Oy! Wha' da 'ell?

Now Stripes...

Mon chere...

"If you'd all just shut the hell up now, that'd be great, thanks." Rogue mumbled under her breathe. The last thing she needed to deal with was overactive psyches. "Ya'll think yar so bright..." She closed her eyes and a soft smile played on her lips. "Ahhhh....a world without men."

Would be a world without any one.

"Spare meh the logistics, would ya Erik? Ah'm tryin' tah live in a dream world here."

And what good would that do you? Eventually one has to wake up and realize that your dreams are just that - figments of you imagination.

"Any one else seein' th' irony of this conversation?" she sighed. "Ah cant even dream in private. Men, men everywhere."

We're just trying to look out for you, kid. You know that.

I'm not. Any one else sm-

Shut it furball.

You shut it runt.

"Grahhh!" Rogue screamed into her pillow. "Hows about both of ya shut it?"

Regardless of how you feel about us, nothing changes the fact that we are, in fact, here to stay. Ignoring us isn't going to make us disappear.

"A girl can hope, can't she?"

Are we really so bad?

"Some times ah feel ah don't even know who ah am anymore."

Rogue jumped when she heard her door slam open. She up looked to see Kitty standing in the doorway, arm raised as if to knock.

"Rude much?" She snarled at her friend.

"Me?" Kitty squeaked. "I so did not do that!"

"Whatever." Rogue waved it off. "Ya gonna come in or ya letting all the cool air out?"

Kitty made her way into the room, only turning her nose up slightly at the mess. It was times like these Kitty remembered why she was glad she didn't have to room with Rogue anymore.

"So, like, what did you do to your door handle? It's all, like...squished."

Rogue shrugged again. "Ah dunno, that's news tah meh." She was unconcerned. Things got broken in the mansion all the time. Kitty sat down beside her friend on the bed.

"So...."

"So..." Rogue repeated, eyebrow raised.

"Okay, now this is where you're supposed to like, spill your guts."

"About what?"

"Whatever it is that has you completely freaking on anything with a Y-chromosome lately." She patted her own shoulder. "Come on, out with it. Share all with Aunty Kitty."

"Aunty?"

"Hey, you have a kid. Well, a dog, but same diff. So that totally makes me an aunt."

"Why are you here again?"

"I told you. I'm just here for you to talk to, if you want."

"But ya ain't leavin' til ah do, right?"

"Precisely."

"Faaahn." Rogue drew the word out regretfully. "As you know, the prof thinks he knows how tah control my powers-"

"Congratulations by the way!"

"Let's wait til somethin' actually works before we celebrate, hey Kit? Any way, he's tryin' tah get me tah tap into whatever it is ah tap into when ah touch Homework, which, by the way ah apparently can do."

"How does that work?"

"No idea. Xavier said something about trust, but ah trust you. And Logan. And a dozen other people in this school an' ah can' touch them."

"I thought this all had something to do with when you, like, stole the Blackbird out from underneath Scott's nose?"

"He seems tah think ah did it because ah tapped into mini-Remy," Rogue tapped the side of her head. "And while ah was still in control ah was bein'...influenced by his persona. They also think ah may have been using his power, seein' as how Jean couldn't get past mah static shield. It kinda makes sense, ah mean...ah was chattin' with him before it happened."

"With Remy?"

"The psyche version, yeah."

"You, like, talk with them?" Kitty's nose became scrunched.

"Ah've tried ignorin' 'em. Trust meh when ah say it doesn't work."

"Weird."

"Try bein' on this side of it." Rogue shook her head. "It's just all so a mess. They keep pressurin' meh tah do something ah've already done, even though ah've only eva done it on accident." Kitty contemplated Rogue for a moment.

"Rogue. How did your bedroom door open just before I came in?"

"Ah dunno. Ya threw it open?"

"No, I didn't." She bit her lip, thinking hard. "Who were you talking to before the door opened? In your head?"

"Ummm...Erik."

"Erik?"

"Sorry, Magneto."

"Okay, Mag- wait. You call him Erik?"

"It's fairly comfy cozy up in here, Kit."

"Right, off topic. Any way, remember the door handle? Do you think you could have pulled the door open with Magneto's powers?"

Rogue shook her head. "Nah. Ah mean, it's possible, but ah didn't even know you were at the door. 'Nd Erik doesn't have any power that woulda let me know."

"Oh." Kitty pouted. "It was worth a try."

"It was a good one Kitty. And it was the first thang ah though of too. But it's kinda a silly theory."

"I guess."

The two girls sat in silence, both petting Homework, who was more than happy to try to alleviate the tension just by being oh-so-adorable.

"We should get you outta here. It's so...dank." Kitty decided, standing. She picked up the dog. "We'll take Homer to the park, teach him how to bring his own ball back?"

"What?"

"Funny story! The last time me and Jubes took him to the park, no matter what you threw for-"

"That's not what ah meant." Rogue rolled her eyes. "Homer?"

"Oh....oops?"

"Opps? Why are you re-namin' mah dog?" Rogue snatched Homework out of her arms. Kitty let out a whiney sound and pouted.

"Homeworks such a baaaaad name, Rogue! Even you have to be able to see that."

"It's a perfectly fahne name!"

"It's horrid."

"Why can't y'all just drop this?" Rogue was very annoyed. What was it, pick on every one of Rogue's failings day? Yeesh. "Even little Jamie was raggin' on meh. There's nothin' wrong with Homework!"

"Except that everyone who's not a teacher hates it."

"Kitty yar really-" Rogue stood, stalking closer to the smaller girl, a scowl firmly set in place. Kitty jumped up and out the door.

"Really Rogue, you should maybe try to calm down. Maybe go for a walk? Clear your head?" Kitty's voice got smaller and small as she ran down the stairs.

***

It was absolutely beautiful out. The sky was bright blue, the sun was warm and the air was crisp. Even Rogue's bad mood couldn't last very long while her and Homework were out at the park. Annoying as she was, Kitty was full of some pretty good ideas.

Rogue tossed the ball, and chased after Homework when he wouldn't bring it back. They ran all around the dog park, tiring each other out. Eventually, they both just laid out on the grass, panting.

"Now that's a nice sight to see!"

Placing a hand to block out the suns rays from her eyes, Rogue sat up to see a strange guy standing in front of her.

"Scues meh?"

"Ooo. And an accent too. Cute." He was about her age, maybe a year or so older. He stood about six inches taller than her with blonde hair. From her spot on the grass, she couldn't see his eyes.

"Cahn ah help you?"

"Sure can, babe." He sat down beside her. His eyes were brown. "Names Chase. What's yours?" He held out a hand for her to shake.

"Rogue." Blunt, to the point. She looked down at his hand and then back to his face. It shortly became obvious she was not going to reciprocate, so he put his hands down behind him and leaned back.

"Rogue, huh?" He smiled and gave a small nod. "I like it."

"Nahce tah have yar approvable."

"Me-ow." He laughed. "Kitten's got claws. It amazing out today."

"I guess." Rogue felt fairly uncomfortable, briefly wishing she'd asked Remy to come out with her. If nothing else he was good at keeping would-be suitors away.

"You think ya could move it along?" Rogue shooed him away, but all he did was raise an eyebrow.

"Did I do something to offend you?"

"You're a man." She grumbled. "And ah have had enough of men tahday."

"No I'm not." He grinned. "I'm just a boy. A kid really."

"Y'r close enough."

"Don't make me pay for the mistakes of my gender." He put his hands together, like he was begging, but his laughed almost ruined the effect. "Please, we're idiots. There's no way to come back from that!"

"Well...Ah guess since you already know yar an idiot."

"And everything I say is wrong."

"Exactly."

"So do you really mind if I just hang out here?"

Rogue shrugged. "It's a free country. And a public park."

"That your dog?"

"No, ah stole it." When Chase just grinned at her she found herself giving him a small smile back. "He's mine, yeah."

"What's his name?"

Rogue frowned, and didn't answer.

"Uh, sorry?" Chase scratched his head. "Touchy subject?"

"Kinda. No one else likes it."

"But it's your dog right?"

"Mostly. At least until the project is done."

"Then it doesn't matter what other people think."

"That's what ah said!" Rogue threw her hands up into the air, exasperated. "No one eva listens tah meh." Chase laughed with her.

"So do I get the privilege?"

Rogue squinted her eyes, as if deep in thought. "Ah dunno. Ah'm pretty sure its one of those things where if ah tell ya, ah have tah kill ya."

"Alright, alright." Chase nodded, playing along. He looked from her to the dog. The puppy nuzzled up close to him under his hand. "What do you think, pup? Is it worth it?"

He let out a happy yelp, spinning around, making both Chase and Rogue chuckle. Chase looked back to Rogue.

"I guess that's a yes then."

"Homework."

"Huh?"

"That's his name. Homework?"

"Ouch." He grinned, to let her know he was kidding. "What he do to make you hate him?"

"Oh, shut up." Rogue gave him a small shove.

"Just kidding. It's a cool name. He'll never have to wonder if people are calling for him or some one else."

"That's true." They fell into a comfortable silence. She scanned him out of the corner of her eye. He was nice. Good-looking even. A little cocky, but not arrogant.

"Ice cream." Chase's voice broke Rogue from her musings.

"Pardon?"

"I'm gonna by you an ice cream." He stood. "And Homework a treat. If that's alright with you."

"That's fahne....but maybe ah don't like ice cream."

"Are you kidding? Everybody loves ice cream!" He held out a hand to help her up. She surprised herself by taking the offered hand with very little hesitation.

"Ah'm not everybody."

"No...you certainly are not." He gave her an appreciative look that had her blushing. When she was standing he kept a hold on her hand. "I could tell that right away."

"Thank ya, kind sir." She gave a small bow.

"Come on!"

Rogue had to laugh as she was pulled threw the park. She momentarily wondered if this situation was at all strange. It wasn't everyday a strange good looking guy just came over and started talking to her, so maybe it was just strange to her. And it was a public area, lots of people around, so it was unlikely anything bad would happen - and if it did, her skin would stop it almost before it began.

The three of them sat once again after they had gotten ice cream from the cart (Chase had insisted on paying, as well as getting a small scoop of vanilla in a cup for Homework). Rogue shocked herself by chatting with him easily and having fun. Was it possible that she, the self-proclaimed Rogue of Bayville, was flirting?

It had started to get late - later than she had realized - when Chase looked down at his watch.

"Whoa! Where did the time go?" He looked regretful. "It's been a slice, but I really gotta get home. Late for dinner."

"Eep." Rogue checked her watch. "Ah shoulda been home ova an hour ago."

"Can I see you again?"

"Well, ah..." Rogue was stunned, unprepared for the question.

"I like you Rogue. you're a pretty cool chick." He grinned again. "I'd like to take you out on a real date."

"Ah'm not-"

"And I want to kiss you."

"Pa-pa-pardon?" She sputtered. He stepped closer. She stared into his eyes, her mind running a million miles a minute. Kiss him? She just met him. But he was really nice...wait. She couldn't kiss him...

He drew closer.

Why cant ah kiss him?

His lips were mere inches from hers.

Ah just met him, this'll be mah first kiss...MY POWERS! Right powers. Tell him you're a mutant and he'll back off. Just tell him what you can do and he'll run away and you'll never have tah see him again just tell him-

"Remy!" She half shouted just before Chases lips touched hers. His eyes widened and her took a step back.

"Umm...huh?"

She covered her mouth with her hands. "Ah have no idea why ah said his name."

"Ahhh." Chase nodded, giving her a small sad-ish smile. "Boyfriend?"

"He's...he's just..." What the hell was he?

"Don't worry about it. I understand. A girl a good-looking as you is never single." Chase shook her gloved hand. "Thanks anyway Rogue. I had a really nice time today."

"Meh too..."

"I'll see you around okay?"

"Alright. Good-bye Chase."

"See you later, Rogue."

And then the blonde was gone.

And Rogue's head hurt. Why did guys have to make everything so complicated?

***

By the time she made it back to the mansion, she had long since missed dinner. It had been Kitty's night though, so she couldn't really feel to bad about it. After letting Logan know she was home, she took Homework out to the back yard to play some more fetch. He would be sleeping like a log tonight, that was for sure

Deciding not to think about Chase, or Remy for that matter, (because, really, how random was that whole situation?) she began to try out some different names on the pup.

"Rover. Too common." She frowned. "Raja. Nah, that's a tiger. This is harder than ah thought. Maybe ah should just go with Kitty's Homer idea - it is pretty close to his name now..."

"Rogue?" Her musings were broke by the soft voice of one Miss Ororro Monroe. Rogue lead her head back to see her.

"Hey Storm."

"I didn't see you at dinner tonight."

"Ah decided mah days been bad enough with out food poisonin' thank ya very much."

"May I ask where you were?"

"Ah already told Logan ah was sorry ah was late - can' a girl just go out without havin' everyone houndin' her? It's not like ah was getting' inta trouble."

"I never thought you were." Storm sat down beside her, taking a turn at throwing the stick. "I was just inquiring about your life, as people who care about you are bound to do, time and again."

"Oh." Rogue was embarrassed she had jumped all over her like that. "Sorry 'bout that."

"All is forgiven."

"It's been gorgeous all day. That you?"

"A little. The nice weather put me in a good mood."

"Thus makin' the weather even nicer."

"Exactly. So you got out to enjoy the sunshine?"

"Yeah. I went to the park." Rogue paused for a moment, not sure if she really felt like confiding in the weather witch, but who else was she going to tell, Kitty? "Ah met a boy."

"Oh?" Ororro raise an eyebrow.

"He was reallah nice, and Homework liked him."

"But..."

"But nothing. He was funny, cute an' polite. There's no reason not to like him."

"I keep feeling like there's something you're not telling me."

"Ah guess just that, even though ah liked him, when he asked meh out ah felt kinda...sick. Tah my stomach. Which was odd, because he was in no way repulsive."

"Did you tell him you were a mutant?" When Rogue shook her head no, she continued. "Perhaps you were afraid of what he would say if he really knew."

"Maybe..." Rogue shrugged. "Anyway, it's ova now, and I probably won't see him again, so it doesn't even matter."

"It that what you were doing out here? Thinking about a boy?"

"First, don't say it like that." Storm laughed at her. "An' second, no. Ah'm tryin' tah come up for a new name for the dog. Everyone's been on mah case about it."

"Hmmm." Ororro nodded.

"What was that?" Rogue looked at her suspiciously.

"What was what?"

"That face."

"What face?"

"The face you're making now."

"This is my normal face, Rogue."

"No, it's your 'I have something to say but there's no real polite way to say it so I'm just gonna keep mah mouth closed' face."

"My face is apparently quite the chatterbox."

"Out with it Storm."

"It's simply that I didn't know you to be one to cave to peer pressure so easily."

"Ah'm not caving!" Rogue stood and crossed her arms. "Ah'm just...Ah named him that because I was pis- angry. Let's face it everyone hates homework. It's just a bad implication, is all."

"I have come to learn, in instances such as these, it is some time just best to go with-"

"So help me lord, if you say go with yar gut ah'ma gonna hafta hurt ya!" Rogue ran her finger through her hair. "Why is that all everyone's been telling meh lately! 'Trust yer instincts, Stripes'. Bah! Ah'm not even sure ah have instincts."

"Everyone has instincts. Gut feelings, hunches, sixth senses....intuition. It's all the same."

"I don't have any of those!"

"Yes you do. You just have to learn to listen to them."

"Ah'm just..." Rogue shook her head. "How am ah ever supposed tah hear mah instincts, with all these voices in mah head?"

"they do make you quite unique."

"Ah wish ah could just be normal."

"You are normal Rogue. Being unique makes you normal. Everyone is unique in their own way." The were both quiet for a moment. Ororro stood to leave. "Rogue, I'm going to ask you to do me a favor."

"Ask away."

"Next time, I want you to listen to the voices."

"What? Why?"

"Call it a hunch.

Rogue watched as Storm made her way back into the house. Turning back to her dog, who appeared to be chasing flies, she called him over, and placed him into her lap, his small face in her hands.

"Alright mutt. What is your name?"

TBC...


Um. Chase, yeah. No idea where he came from. Really. He just showed up, without being invited.