Challenge: Word #186 at 15_minute_fic LJ comm

This was a 15_minute_fic story, but it doesn't feel finished to me, so... Chapter One? Also, not beta'ed.


Rogue rubbed the warm cardboard between her fingers, over and over, in a rhythm no less annoying than Gambit's shuffling. She was lying on her back on her bed, staring straight upward at the ceiling, likely without even seeing it.

Kitty sighed. This was getting serious.

Gambit had taken off three weeks ago, mouth grim over some flimsy piece of paper he got in the mail. Two hours of brooding, fifteen minutes of vanishing, then one duffle and a roar of motorcycle later and he was gone. And a new piece of cardboard was taped to Kitty and Rogue's mirror. A nine of diamonds. Strange chosen language of playing cards aside, it bothered Kitty mightily that Gambit would just take off and leave his chére behind to brood worse than he had. No word, no phone calls, no letters, no "I'll be back soon"—what in the world did a nine of diamonds mean anyway?—just a token card and hit the road.

"Rogue?" Kitty bit her lip. She glanced at the clock.

"Ah'm not hungry, Kit." Rogue didn't even glance up, just kept rubbing on that card.

"Well, it's dinner time and you haven't eaten anything all day and..."

Rogue tortuously dragged her emerald green stare from the card to her roommate's face. There wasn't much life in those normally vivid green eyes.

"I can save you something," Kitty added.

Rogue nodded, like it wasn't worth the fight, then dropped her gaze back to the card and sighed.

Kitty cursed Gambit in her mind and stomped downstairs.

Rogue knew her friend was worried about her, no doubt about that, but Rogue was more worried about Gambit. He had taken off for the south. She knew the look he got on his face when family business came up to bite him on the bum, and there was this card. She'd looked it up.

A meeting or appointment.

She was just about downright scared. What kind of meeting? It had to be Guild, but she wasn't even supposed to know about that, and Gambit worked overtime to keep her out of that side of his life.

Rogue stared at the card, rubbing it between gloved fingers, wondering if she could extract any more meaning out of nine red diamonds.

He always left her tokens.

Rogue stopped rubbing and stared at the card. She cocked her head, thinking, then rolled off her bed and walked over to the mirror. The tape he'd used to attach the card was still bubbled on the glass. She centered the card over it and pressed it in firmly.

A token. One more meaning; one more clue. He was coming back.

Rogue stared at the card; she gave one short satisfied nod, then went downstairs to dinner.