A/N: Hey y'all. I don't own any of these characters; they're all Marvel's. The story, though, is mine. I know these characters and their stories mostly through the animated series from the 90's and through fansites, so this... really doesn't take place at any real time in the storyline, though I may mention events that happened in the show or that I've read about. Yay! I'm also going to try to write in the first person and alternate characters, starting with Rogue. I like to try to write in accents for dialog, but I can't keep that up, nor make it readable, for the entirety of each chapter. Let me know if the accents, or anything else for that matter, are incomprehensible. And now, with all that out of the way... enjoy!
For the first time in nearly two weeks, I wake up in my own bed. The feel of my soft cotton sheets is so nice on my bare limbs, so much better than scratchy hotel sheets, I almost don't want to get up and start the day, but my stomach is grumbling loudly, insisting that I run downstairs for a bite to eat. I wonder who's on kitchen duty this morning. If it's Bobby, I might have to sneak past the kitchen and into the garage so I can get some real food in town. The last time I ate his food, I didn't think I was ever going to taste anything again; the flavor was so overwhelmingly foul it numbed my mouth. Shuddering at the memory, I reluctantly roll out of bed and stretch. A good night's sleep in my own bed is so refreshing. I almost don't feel like I'd spent the last week and a half on a wild goose chase. I still look it, though. When I walk into the bathroom attached to my bedroom, I'm staring at a very tired looking woman. There are shadows under my eyes, but it's nothing I can't cover up with a little makeup until it goes away. I just need to get some good sleep while I'm here if I can.
I shower, clean myself up real good, and dry my hair. I've started wearing it straight, so that's less work for me, but I still spend forever on my makeup. My stomach protests as I sit down to put my face on, but there is no way in hell I'm going downstairs without my lipstick and at least a bit of mascara. I can't control much else, but I am in complete control of my appearance. I'm not going to waste that. Once I've finally dressed, an embroidered green t-shirt and some jeans that fit just right, I pick up my gloves and frown. All that work, all that looking, all these years, and I still can't go anywhere or do anything without barriers and covers. Every morning I go about my business in my little bubble, wearing my tank top and sleep shorts and pretending like I'm normal, and I'm happy. I feel good about myself. And every morning that all comes to an end when I have to put on my gloves and go out into the world. That bubble doesn't go away though. It just changes into a prison rather than a little place of peace. No one can come in, I can't get out. And these pretty white opera gloves, made of the thinnest material I can find, represent that prison to me. I pull them on tight; a shaky sigh escapes my lips before I realize it's there. The smooth material coats my hands, my forearms, and stops above my elbow. An inch-wide strip of skin is left open on my arms - a chink in my armor, a gap in my barrier - and I know that that's too much... but I just don't care right now. I want to have a good day.
When I get downstairs, I smell something heavenly coming from the kitchen. Thank the Lord, it's someone who can really cook. I can hear the others already in there, so I smile big as I open up the door. But when I sweep my eyes across the room, my heart flips and sinks at the same time. He's cooking. He's back from his own mission and he's smiling. I don't know why I'm surprised he's here; he, Logan, and Kurt left a day before Storm and I did, and they were supposed to be helping out a group of mutants being harassed by the FoH. In and out. I guess I'm just surprised he's up so early, he normally sleeps in unless Scott wakes him up for morning training. He looks up from the skillet he's holding and looks at me, pinning me to the spot with those beautiful, strange eyes and that crooked little smile. That smile makes me warm all over every time it's directed at me, and this morning ain't an exception.
"Mornin', cheré. Y' wan' you a omelet? Gambit make y' one up special."
In a flash I collect myself and I put my mask up. I'm Rogue, tough stuff; I don't take nothin'. And I can't let him see what he does to me. I can't. No matter how sweet he is, no matter how handsome he is, no matter how hard he makes my heart beat, I can't let him know. I mutter something to him about wanting a ham and cheese omelet and sit down next to Storm. The group at the table smiles over at me, and I train my eyes on them rather than letting them drift over to Remy. No, I can't do this to myself, not again. I don't let my eyes fall on Gambit. Kurt smiles at me from across the small kitchen table as Scott continues to fire questions off at Storm. I hear her telling Scott in several different ways that we didn't find hide nor hair of any kind of mutant cure or a scientist working towards it at the end of any of our leads. Kurt seems to know that their conversation and the Cajun man at the stove are distressing me a bit, cause he tries to distract me.
"Guten morgen, schwester, wie geht es dir heute?"
"Ah'm good, Kurt. How're you?"
"Sehr gut. Vhat are your plans for the day?"
"Ah guess Ah'm gonna-"
I cut myself off as I see a plate enter my field of vision. Gambit's laying it down in between my gloved hands with a little smirk on his face, trying not to interrupt me by saying something. Well, he interrupted me anyway. I'm trying my best to get grumpy at him, and I open my mouth to say something smartassed when he sits down next to me with his own plate and just grins. The kitchen table is full and he got the last seat... I didn't have a choice but to sit next to him.
"You planned it this way, didn'tcha?"
"Planned what, petite?"
He has that doggone grin on his face that he gets when he wins or gets his way, and somehow that completely disarms me. My eyes are still narrowed from my little accusatory statement, but I end up looking at my plate instead of going on with whatever little tirade I had in my head. It's getting hard to get fiesty with him, to act angry and take offense at every little thing. I guess it's because every little thing just makes me... no. I won't admit that to myself again. Not after the last time. I can't do this again.
"Nothin', swamp rat. Anyway, Kurt, Ah guess Ah'm gonna hang 'round here today. Ah need to do some cleanin' in mah room an' Ah got a book Ah still haven't finished after tryin' for nearly a month."
"That sounds relaxink."
Kurt smiles at me, almost as if he's proud that I didn't haul off and hit Gambit, and starts eating. I'm just about to ask him what he's got planned when I see Gambit start to lean in out of the corner of my eye.
"If you need help, cheré, Gambit can help clean. He good at makin' t'ings disappear."
Even though that strikes me funny, I force myself to look pained at the lined and shake my head dramatically. This is the first time in several weeks we've been this close, and it's painful. I just want to get away from him before something happens and one of us gets hurt. I start to hurriedly cut up my omelet as I talk to save myself some time in the long run.
"Ah'm sure ya can, but Ah'm perfectly capable a' cleanin' mah room by myself. Need some alone time anyway."
"Y' can be alone wit' Gambit."
It took everything I had not to shiver when his voice dropped to a husky whisper. I would give anything to be alone with Remy again, like it was before. But we can't do things like that ever again and he knows it. My powers would kill him. I can feel tears sting my eyes as I turn to look at him, my best scowl set in my features.
"Can it, swamp rat, ya know better than that!"
I start to eat quickly, trying to look normal. Kurt's now trying to talk to Bobby next to him, and thankfully Storm is still talking to Scott. But this is normal, me yelling at Gambit, Gambit smirking and saying something almost no one but me can here, me socking Gambit in the gut and running off. Damn it all, I don't want to do this this morning. But he won't let it go. He just leans in closer, his voice even lower.
"Dere're ways we can get 'round dat, cheré, if ya let dis Cajun in."
I want it, but I can't have it, and he's teasing me with it. It'll all just end up the same: him on the floor unconscious and me standing there blabbering in his stupid, sexy accent with his exotic eyes and his powers, and all of his memories in my head. So I let him know that this conversation is over by pushing him away and storming off. I can't see the hurt look on his face or even where he landed this time as I exit, leaving him and the half-eaten omelet behind. It's better this way. It's better that I'm alone, walled off from the rest. It's better that I don't let anyone close. It's better that I don't show anyone what I really feel. I can't hurt anyone if they don't get to close, and they can't hurt me. It's just better this way.