A/N: Story prompted by whipsy. Also, thanks to Rogue in Rouge, whose amazing, wonderful story It Takes Two, To Practice, helped put me in the right mood to write this fic. This one's a multi-chapter. Hope you like. I won't be working on any other major fanfiction (I promised someone an Awake squee! fest and Insurgent countdown, so some ficlets may occur) until this one is finished. Testing my own ability to do so.


on the outside looking in...

They nearly tore the roof off before Logan did anything. Every day almost, Rogue and Gambit would square off over something: unnecessary risks in the Danger Room or in a battle, not touching him, never leaving her alone, mangled favorite recipes, keeping secrets from her, lying, prying or nagging him, false assumptions, preconceptions... The list was endless and enough to make the rest of the teams wonder why the two stuck it out at all.

Gambit had pursued a relationship with Rogue from the day he stepped foot in the door and asked to join the X-Men, and nobody doubted the sincerity of their good moments: the flirting, the banter, the laughter, and the simple affection shining in their eyes. "They'll work it out," Ororo kept saying hopefully. Logan didn't think they would, but he let them try until he finally got sick of it.

He finally did.

Which is why he ended up slamming both southerners apart and against the wall in the media room, each held by a set of threatening claws. Rogue should have been surprised—usually Logan favored her over the Cajun—but she was too mad at Gambit to think about that.

"Now that I got your attention," Logan began, "I want to take a moment for you both to realize how strange it is for me to step in as a voice of reason."

That got their attention.

"But then, you both usually manage to act like adults."

He released them then. They straightened their clothes and didn't look at each other.

Logan shook his head. "If you two can't compromise, find some other way to meet in the middle before you tear each other apart." With that, he stalked away, leaving them alone to figure it out.

He'd give them half an hour, he decided, then see what they'd come up with.

Logan may have been the kind of person to give a guy and girl some privacy when they were dealing with personal issues, like figuring out how to not kill each other when they disagreed, but Kitty and Kurt had been occupying the media room when they were so rudely interrupted, and the petite phaser was more than a little interested in listening. It was the work of a moment to phase into the wall, peek out just a tiny bit, and get in a good position to hear all the juicy details.

Rogue had pulled an absolutely typical Rogue and blown up at Gambit for sliding an arm around her waist and pulling her close. If she'd merely squirmed away, maybe it wouldn't have turned into another shouting match, but it had, and even now, they eyed each other warily in the tension left behind. From what Kitty could figure (and she had girlfriend-slash-roommate conversations to back her up) Rogue genuinely couldn't understand why her reticence concerning physical contact left him angry (it's not like he hadn't read the warning label). Gambit, on the other hand, genuinely didn't get why the tiniest forward progress in their relationship sent them spiraling back into her dangerously volatile temper and netted him another round from her razor tongue. Kitty knew. He had grumbled about it under his breath enough times for her to get the gist.

"Compromise, huh?" Rogue crossed her arms and blew fluffy white bangs out of her eyes. Breaking silence required some bolstering of the defenses, and she favored physical gestures.

But Gambit didn't look at her arms. His gaze flicked to her hair, the first real compromise they'd ever made. He'd asked her to leave her hair curly once in a while, and she had.

That seemed to make her angry all over again. What compromise had he ever made for her? Kitty couldn't think of even one. He still smoked, still went all touchy-feely after Rogue demanded he stop, still flirted, still kept horrible hours, still stole. List went on.

"So?" Rogue demanded.

Burning red eyes narrowed at her change in tone, but he didn't take the bait. Great way to get the Wolverine back in here and deciding their lives for them, that would be, and Gambit was clearly done with being dictated to by an elder. He even ignored most of the Professor's advice, something which always puzzled Kitty. He was living in the man's house. Rogue, on the other hand, was another story. Gambit took terms from her far more often than from anyone else.

Kitty paused her thought-stream at that. Would that be considered a compromise?

Gambit settled onto the arm of the couch to study Rogue, drawing Kitty's attention again, and flicked out a deck of cards to shuffle. The repetitive sound and feel soothed his nerves, even as it annoyed Rogue. She narrowed her eyes at him. He ignored her and thought.

"We take turns," he finally said. "This week, you call the shots. Next week, I do."

Rogue frowned. "What do you mean?"

He measured her with his eyes, but she didn't seem upset, just confused. He put away the cards. "You mad at me 'cause I don't accept you putting your foot down, n'est ce pas?"

She nodded, slowly.

"I get mad at you for the same thing."

"I'll say," she muttered, giving him pause. She tossed her head. "So I start, huh?"

He eyed her warily.

"We need some rules then." She frowned again, not really looking at him. 'Calling the shots' was a pretty big topic. "So we just suggest or ask and the other has to listen?"

He almost laughed, but he didn't seem amused. "Non. This be real, chérie." His words made Kitty freeze. He stared at Rogue intently until her gaze faltered. "We ask to get out of it, and the other decides yes or no."

"Sounds like slavery." Rogue shifted uncomfortably.

Kitty mirrored the gesture.

He shrugged. "When we disagree, someone needs to get the last word. If you just can't, you use a safeword. But only if you really can't."

Rogue blurted out abruptly. "Marshmallow."

He blinked.

She smiled a little at his expression. "That's the safeword."

"Cute." But he nodded, accepted. "Fine."

Logan didn't know whether to be pleased or horrified, but the two presented a united front, sitting beside each other on the couch, gloved fingers laced together.

"You sure about this, Stripes?" he asked for the fifth time.

Rogue lifted her chin. "I'm sure." The opportunity to say 'no' and have Gambit actually back down? How could she pass that up?

Logan turned back to Gambit, but the Cajun's face was hard and unreadable. "This backfires and—"

"It'll be our mistake," Gambit snapped. Then he tilted his head and said softly, "I ain't going to take advantage of her."

The whole idea made Logan nauseous, but he threw up his hands in surrender. "I'm here if you need me."

Kitty wasn't sure if she was supposed to feel guilty for eavesdropping, but Kurt certainly seemed to think so with his fierce eyes almost glowing and his tail switching back and forth while he opined vehemently in what she assumed was German (seeing as she didn't understand a word of it, except for 'sister.')

"Whoa, elf! Relax. I'm her girlfriend and I'm not going to tell anybody." Not what she saw, not what she heard. She nodded emphatically to underline the statement.

Kurt's jaw dropped open and his formerly wildly waving hands stilled. "Not even me?" he demanded.

Kitty snapped her mouth shut. Just when she thought she understood a guy...