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The End

It isn't true what you read in action and adventure novels, or what you see in movies. Blood in real life isn't thick, or dark, or slow to spread.

It's brighter than life, so red it hurts your eyes to look at it, and it spreads quickly on cement floors. It flows like a river towards that sinister looking drain, and as you watch it, your hope drains along with it.

Because there's no chance now. You still can't touch the only man you've ever loved, and hated, and wanted. You're still locked in a dark cell below ground, and you're still watching him bleed out from bullet wounds.

Your gloves are red now, when they used to be pristine, a blinding white to match your dress.

As your tears mingle with his blood you lose all hope, drip drip dropping down a rusty floor drain.

Chapter 1

Nine Months Previous

It started down south of the Mason-Dixon line, in the wet slippery heat of Mississippi, where a young girl stole her first kiss, and almost stole a life along with it.

With Cody in a coma, she changed your hair, and her style, and her mother. Now she is Rogue—alone, and lonely.

Now she wears gloves, and now people see her as that girl with striped hair and sad, strange eyes.

"Rogue!" she startles out of her daydreams with a jolt, her gloved hand slamming down onto the kitchen tabled with a smack.

"Ah! Oh, Storm. Whad'ya want sug'?" She collects calm around herslef like a blanket.

"There's a danger room session with Logan in twenty minutes," she said with a twinkle of her mysterious eyes, a strand of long silvery hair sliding down her shoulder. There is amoment of silence as they both process the statement, then Rogue nods and curves her lips in a smile.

Kurt enters the kitchen just then, a frantic Kitty on his heels.

"Kurt! I can't believe you hacked my MySpace! Now all my friends are going to think I'm a total freak!" She snarled, true to her name, hands reaching for his neck like a cat's claws. Kurt's tail whips back and forth to escape her grasp.

"But Keety, you are a freak, ja? We all are!" Kurt replied with an impish grin, ducking around to the other side of the table. With that he teleported away.

Kitty let out another ear-splitting shriek, and started to stomp away.

"I'm so glad we have a danger room session today, I'm going to tear Kurt a new one!"

Storm let out a quiet chuckle, and also left the kitchen.

Alone again, Anna lets herself frown. She hears the ticking of the clock sink into her bones, and feels the pulse in her fingertips, in her face and toes.

She quiets her body.

I will not absorb, I will not absorb, I will not absorb.

The Danger room session is pretty typical, Scott and Logan split off right away, after Logan ruffles her hair in the most careful way. Storm stays in the control room, and Rogue can see Kitty trying to tackle Kurt to the ground, made hard by her and Kurt's mutation. A robot pops out of the ground to her right, a laser taking aim at her, and she whips her hand out and knocks it aside like a harmless fly. It isn't damaged, but deflected.

Several more surround her, popping up from the floor with a mechanical whirring sound, well-oiled gears not betraying any sort of shoddy machinery. Xavier truly spared no expense. She settles into a crouch, hands at the level of her eyes.

She lashes out at the nearest one with a foot, and uses her momentum to smack another with a flat palm, allowing it to fire its beam onto its neighbor. The one she kicked doing the same. She drops to my stomach and rolls onto her knees, springing between the last two, letting their beams strike each other.

She uses her opponents strengths against them. It's one of the main reasons no one really wants to spar with her. If she touches them they pass out, even just a little scrape, and their attacks can be used to her advantage only too often. Many people in the x-men are rather arrogant—it's almost surprising.

Jean's been missing for two months. Logan and Scott have been taking out their frustration on each other, and Bobby…

Bobby and Rogue have been tense since they broke up. It's kind of obvious that I'm the worst possible choice for a girlfriend. But it doesn't help that Kitty likes him.

I know it's hard to control who you fall in love with, but her timing is really terrible. I feel guilty for making her feel guilty.

But she doesn't blame either of them for wanting to hold hands in darkened corners. It's a dangerous enough time, it's understandable for them to want some comfort when they still have the chance, the time, the ability.

He wished for a girlfriend he can love, and she wished for a boyfriend she could touch.

They both didn't get what they wanted.

I'm impossible to love anyways.

They were flying to some evil scientist's lab out west, somewhere in the middle of flat plains of corn and beans, under the rounded dome of the Midwestern sky.

Storm was hoping it was a place Jean might have been taken, but all thye found were some abandoned mutant experimentations.

They had left pretty much right before the X-Men arrived, because they were still suspended in cylinders of gel, hooked up to IV's and oxygen. Rogue stared at the face of a naked man, probably in his mid-twenties, and so carefully, roguishly handsome. His chest rose and fell in a slow steady rhythm inside his…tank.

"Storm, are we going to rescue them?" she asked loudly.

"Yes," was her short reply. Anna could tell she was a disturbed by this as the rest of them. She inspected the outside of the tank, and found a control panel standing slightly towards the left. Since the handsome man was in the first one in the room, a large number one resided at the top of the panel. She pressed the button next to the word "drain", and then proceeded to the next tank, and so on, all the way down the line.

There were twenty tanks in that room alone, and she looked at and memorized each face using a little of the Professor's telepathy stored inside of her. His powers of the mind helped to enhance her memory, as well as her mental shields.

She made her way back to the first tank, where the man inside was still asleep and slumped against the bottom and side of the tank. She switched the "release" lever, and prepared herself to catch him.

His eyes flew open as the glass rose, and he pounced. Taken aback, he ended up sprawled atop of her, her hands pinned above her head.

Blushing, she yelled at him, "What the hell, are ya crazy? Is this normally how you treat rescuers?"

His eyes remained unfocused, and she noticed the inverted whites of his eyes, black with burning coals for irises.

As they came into focus, they noticed shouts coming from the doorway of the scientific prison.

There, watching Rogue being pinned by a naked, gel covered, devilish man, was Storm, Scott, and Logan.

They looked very unimpressed.

"Well," she shouted at them. "Are you going to help me, or stand there like a buncha' dumbasses?"

It's safe to say that the incredible naked wonder was soon removed from her person, and given a blanket.

With the rest of the entire compound freed, which took about three hours, the X-Men struggled to get them blankets and make sure the drugs left no lingering effects.

The youngest mutant there was thirteen. She had gills and webbed hands and feet, and her eyes were a murky yellow-green with slit pupils. She looked terrified, and refused to say a word.

The oldest was in his eighties, the cat-like features of his face and body, two-foot furred tail and paws included. He hissed at them, tail twitching angrily.

Somehow, they found clothes, explained the situation, and checked the health of all hundred and forty of them.

Three of them decided to go bavk with them: the handsome man with devil's eyes, a nineteen year old mutant who's skin had a distinct green hue that also claimed some telekinesis and telepathy, and a muscled man who was anywhere between twenty and forty, it was impossible to tell.

The look of protectiveness he cast towards the skinny green youth was enough reason to let him come too, although he wouldn't say a word, and we couldn't deduce what his mutation might be, or if he even had one.

Back at the mansion, rooms were being traded to make room for the new additions. The teen's name Martin, but went by Martian. He told us the older man had been through several experiments with him, but still didn't know his name.

Logan took a liking to the silent man at once, offering a cigar and a set of clothes from his own room.

They wouldn't know for several more weeks that he had superstrength, and that he would break down several doors to save Martian, but that will be explained in due time.

For Rogue, the main trouble caused by their failed attempt at finding Jean was Scott's increasing apathy, Logan's increasing frustration, and the devil taking an apparent liking to her.

He also reminded her too much of a home she could never return to—a home of sweltering summers, exotic and spicy food, and mystical hypocritical people.

She missed the aura of the south; she missed Caldecott, and Biloxi, the swingy, brassy jazz of N'Orleans, and the small town Baptist choirs full of colorful women and personalities.

The sound of his twangy, rakish, colorful accent was like a knife in her heart. His voice brought back all her old demons.

This Cajun was the devil himself.

It was three days later, and she finally had a moment to myself. There was a...grotto, I suppose you could call it, a sort of secluded section by the pond, hidden from the world by a weeping willow and a cluster of rose bushes. There was a stone bench and a stone statue of an angel. Stains from long years of weather left green trails down her face and arms. Rogue sat there to watch the sun set.

It's her favorite time of day, when the sky's colors blend and shift every moment. It's twenty minutes, thirty, an hour of beautiful colors and moments and light.

It was a time, and a place, where she could be alone with herself and not feel sad about it. She could sort out the memories in her head, the moments, the powers, the personalities. The system she had created for herself was like a filing system, like the safety deposit boxes in a bank: numbered, layered, and impenetrable save a giant explosion.

But since that devil has been present at the mansion, she's been finding him following her each night when she tries to get away, getting closer and closer, until he's found her spot.

The scent of June roses is heady in the warm summer stillness, and as his glowing coal eyes try to memorize her features, she feels a frown carve its way onto her face.

"Gambit," she starts, but when she realizes that she doesn't have anything to say she sighs, and gives up.

"Chère. Cette place est très belle, non?" he pulls a cigarette out of a gleaming silver case, an object far too old fashioned for someone like him, but then again, he is from the south. A lot of customs survived there that they didn't elsewhere.

"I know it's beautiful here Gambit, but why do you insist on following me?" she asks him, her arms crossing over her chest as her right leg folds over her left one.

He takes one long drag on his cigarette, letting the smoke fall out of his mouth and into the darkening day like a will-o-the-wisp.

"Because, Chère, you intrigue me, non? Gambit wonders why all you so is hide away and sigh." A smirk spreads across his face as he speaks, making some warm liquid feeling pool in her gut.

"Do you know what my mutation is sug'?" she asks.

"Do you know mine?" he retorts.

"Hmm." She doesn't answer. She standsup, and stretches her hip. "You like to bet, don'cha? It's in your name after all."

His eyebrows raise but he says nothing. The fire in his eyes smolders.

"Well," she continues. "Because if you come and give me a kiss, Ah bet you'll find out mah mutation pretty quick."

A smile like poison-laced molasses spreads across his face, and as she lets his lips brush hers, a bright, burning triumph fills her chest.

He drops like a stone, and she starts to laugh.