"Come on, Rogue! You have to play, just this once!!" Kitty managed to pull carefully on Rogue's sleeve, beg, and pout with her big, hazel puppy eyes all at once. Perhaps kitty-cat eyes would be more appropriate.

"Ah don't think that's th' best idea, Kitty!"

"Oh, come off it, Rogue! One little game of spin-the-bottle's not gonna hurt anything!"

Unwillingly, Rogue allowed herself to be dragged over to the circle on the carpet, muttering, "Not gonna hurt anythin' - like my powers don't do nothin' but hurt folks!"

The four already sitting in the circle, Piotr, Bobby, Jubilee, and St. Jean all looked up at her, trying and failing to hide their apprehension. Rogue blanched, then yanked her arm back. Kitty turned back to her, eyes confused.

"Kitty, do ya even know how to play spin-the-bottle!?"

"Course I do, silly!"

"Then you must know it involves kissin' people!" Kitty rolled her eyes. "Kitty, you know Ah can't be kissin' people!"

"Rogue, Rogue, Rogue," Kitty reassured as she pulled her friend down to the carpet. "Girlie, you got to stop worrying! We'll think of something, when your turn comes!"

Rogue was not reassured and tried to scoot back from the group as much as the sofa behind her would allow.

As Kitty smiled triumphantly, Jean walked into the room.

Jean, help! Rogue begged inside her mind.

What is it, Rogue? What's wrong? Out loud, Jean asked, "What are you all doing?"

The others ducked their heads, but Kitty pipped unabashedly, "Spin-the-bottle!"


Oh, my. "Do you all think that game is appropriate?"

Kitty jumped up, ran through the sofa, and grabbed Jean around the waist. "Jeeeeean! We're just having a bit of fun - don't you remember what it was like to be young?"

Jean stiffened at that last bit, but then softened. "All right, Kitty. But I'll be staying in here, to make sure you keep this PG rated!"

Aw, Jean!

Don't worry, Rogue. Who's the mutant with telepathy and telekenisis? I'll keep you safe from the dreaded spinning bottle.

Thanks, Jean.

Sure, sweetheart. It's important that you participate as much as possible - even if we must cheat!

Rogue grinned and glanced over at Jean, who was flipping through a magazine, apparently ignoring them all.

Distracted, Rogue only realized that the game had started when Kitty and Jubilee gasped, and the bottle began to spin. She watched nervously as the bottle spun round and round. Had she been watching the others, she would have realized her feelings were not much different from all of theirs. The Coke bottle slowed, then stopped in front of Bobby.

Bobby barely had time to blush before Kitty leaned over and pecked him on the cheek.

"Ve don't haff to kiss on the mouth?" Piotr asked, unable to keep the relief out of his voice.

"You can if you want," informed Jubilee.

Kitty looked chagrined. "It's not like I'm too shy to kiss him on the lips, you guys!"

Jubilee laughed, "Whatever, Kitty! You just don't like Bobby." She teased in a sing-song voice.

With a scornful laugh, Kitty leaned over, ready to prove her courage, but Jubilee held her back. "Hold on there, girlfriend! You'll get a second chance!"

Everyone laughed as the two girls settled back down, and Rogue felt the stress ebbing away. Despite herself, she was having fun. "All right, Bobby, Ah think it's your turn t' spin!"

"Thanks, Rogue. Settle down now, everyone and pay attention!" Bobby gave it such a hard spin that it wobbled out of its rotation and veered off toward Jubilee, who yelped and scooted back out of the way. As it slowed Rogue became afraid that it would stop on her again, but it moved past her to point at Bobby. "Now what am I supposed to do!?"

"Spin again, silly! But without so much force there, Hulk!" laughed Jubilee, poking him in the ribs.

He spun again (softer) and it pointed at Piotr. "Noooow what?" he whined.

"Ya can kiss 'im on the cheek, Bobby!" Rogue teased.

"Shucks." With a disgusted look on both their faces, Bobby barely touched Poitr, somewhere near his ear. The girls laughed, and the boys glared at them, faces red.

"That's the game, boys," crowed Jubilee. This time you struck out, but maybe next time you get to kiss one of us very, lovely ladies."

"Ve vill see, Jubilee!" Piotr spun the bottle with skill, and it spun many times before stopping right in front of Jubilee.

For a moment, Jubilee lost her cocky grin, but then gave him her best seductive smile.

The normally shy Piotr surprised them all by leaned across the circle and kissing the stunned Jubilee right on the mouth. "That's how we do kissing in Russia!"

They were all shocked, but then Bobby let out a low wolf-whistle, prompting Rogue and Kitty to cheer. "Now that's how you play spin-the-bottle!" joked Kitty!

The game got into full swing then. Soon they were all rolling on the floor laughing hysterically. Each round made them more and more daring, until Jean's throat clearing reminded them that they weren't in fact alone. Jubilee spun the bottle and kissed Bobby; Bobby kissed Kitty; Kitty kissed Bobby; Bobby kissed Jubilee; Jubilee kissed Piotr; Piotr kissed Kitty; Kitty kissed Jubilee; Jubilee kissed Bobby; and on and on until Kitty noticed that Rogue, while enjoying herself (if the tears of laughter running down her face were any indication), had yet to be kissed.

"Hold on!" Kitty grabbed the bottle from Bobby, who looked miffed. "Rogue has not had a turn yet. Not even one!" Everyone looked toward Rogue.

"It's all right, ya'll. Ah really don't mind. It just hasn't swung on me yet. Ah'm sure--"

"Kitty's right," interrupted Jubilee, "we've played like a hundred rounds and you haven't been kissed once. I'd remember! You go now."

"Ya'll, it's okay. Ain't we breakin' the rules if Ah go outta turn?"

Bobby took the bottle from Kitty's hands and passed it to Rogue. "It's fine, Rogue. Your turn now."

"Ah don't think that's the best idea..." Rogue trailed off, the excitement she had been feeling leaving, replaced by that familiar feeling of dread.

Piotr carefully patted her on the arm. "It vill be fine, Rogue. You should play."

Stalling, Rogue slowly took the bottle. Jean? She didn't dare look backwards; that might give away their secret.

It's all right, Rogue. Trust me.

With a sigh, Rogue spun the bottle hard, hoping against hope that it might never stop spinning. Everyone was silent, watching carefully. It slowed, meandering past Jubilee, past Kitty, until finally settling in front of Piotr.

"Ah don't think--"

"Hush, Rouge, it vill be okay," instructed Piotr with confidence. He smiled as his body changed to his organic steel form.

Everyone relaxed. Rogue smiled. She leaned forward and delicately kissed Piotr on the lips. She was surprised when he gently kissed her back, careful not to harm her. He pulled back and winked, "Now, that vas not so bad, da?"

"Not bad at all, sugah."

Kitty and Jubilee cheered, and Bobby laughed loudly.

Jean stood up, and everyone turned, having forgotten she was even there, except Rogue. "I think nows a good time to stop the game." Everyone groaned, until she reminded them, "Do you realize how late it is?" They all looked at the clock and were surprised by the late hour.

"Yikes!" exclaimed Kitty as she stood up quickly. "I've got a physics test tomorrow morning!"

They got their belongings together and exited the room, heading for bed. Rogue lingered behind and caught Jean's eye.

"What's up, sweetie?"

"Thanks, Jean."

"Of course. I'm always happy to help."

Slowly, Rogue wrapped her arms around Jean, being careful to keep her exposed face and neck away from any bare part of Jean's skin. She was stiff, but as Jean returned the hug, Rogue breathed a sigh and relaxed. They stayed in the sisterly embrace for a few moments longer, until Rogue regretfully pulled away.

"It's so hard not bein' able...." Rogue trailed off.

"I know, that's why I'm always here for you."