Dall'Acqua (From The Water)
by Princess Twilite

"This is my invitation, but how do I begin?" - My Invitation, Sarah Slean.

Scott stood with his back to the water, watching Rogue climb down the steps toward the beach. The wind whipped her skirt against her legs, twisting the blue cloth around her ankles. She stumbled a little, but caught herself with the railing, cursing like a sailor. He covered his mouth, hiding a grin. She stopped at the bottom step, lifting a hand to shield her eyes from the sun. He assumed she was searching for his familiar figure somewhere on the beach and started toward her across the sand.

She smiled when she caught sight of him. "There you are."

Scott nodded and gestured around them in explanation. "I thought I'd check out the scenery while you were taking a shower. Make sure the ocean was still there."

Rogue shook her head at his bad joke, not laughing. His humor was horrible as it was; he didn't need encouragement. "So this is where you blackmailed me into coming?" She stepped past him, walking sandal-footed across the stretch of sand between her and the water. "It's really... big. And nice."

"I like the smell of saltwater," Scott replied, coming up behind her and placing a warm hand on the bare skin of her shoulder. Rogue flinched slightly, still far from used to being touched. It had only been a few months since she'd gained controls over her powers, but only Scott, Logan, and once, Ororo, had dared to touch her skin.

"That's what that smell is?" Rogue asked, wrinkling her nose and tossing him a look. Clearly, she wasn't as charmed as he was by the surrounding scenery. "Is there a way to make it go away?"

Scott looked at her sharply. "You don't like it?"

She blinked, smiling blandly. "I love it."

"Right." He smiled unevenly. "Well, breathe through your mouth if it's going to be a bother." When she did as instructed, he touched her chin with his fingertips and guided her face toward the water. "Now, look at that view."

A sweet burst of surprise moved through her as she finally let herself fully take in the vastness of the ocean. "God, that's gorgeous."

"Isn't it?" He paused, looking at her profile, before forcing his eyes to return to the view. "I've always loved the water. It's like outer-space, but right here in front of us." "I never thought of it like that," Rogue replied, a line between her eyebrows. And then she shrugged carelessly, looping her arm through his and squeezing briefly. "It's lovely. Thanks for bringing me here."

"Anytime," he said, smiling down at her.

The pale line of her neck winked at him as she glanced up, smiling in return.


Rogue stumbled her way into high heels while slipping an earring into her earlobe at the same time, scowling in frustration when she couldn't perform the miraculous feat. Scott leaned against the kitchen counter in his suit jacket, watching her in amusement. Her scowl turned on him full force, eyes glinting behind a slash of hair.

"If you laugh, I'll make you cry."

It was said with enough venom that Scott raised an amused eyebrow, mouth trembling with repressed humor. "And how will you do this, pray tell?"

"Very, very slowly." She strode toward him so quickly that he had to quell the urge to back up, even though it was impossible. A soundless sigh moved through him when she turned her back to him and gestured vaguely. "Zip."

Scott blinked, looking down at the slit in the fabric of the dress, at the flesh hinted at between the folds of cloth. He wet his lips and then carefully slid the zipper up until it caught at the top, and he realized it was fully closed. His fingertips brushed her skin very lightly, in the most ghostly of touches. "There," he said quietly, and she stepped away from him. His hands hung suspended for a single second, reaching, before he could pull them down and tuck them into the pockets of his slacks.

"Thanks," she replied, distracted, still trying to put the earring in.

"Do you need help with that too?" He asked, dryly. "I can't say that I've ever done it before. Once, when I was a teenager, I contemplated piercing my ear, but I saw my friend get it done and he bled all over the place.

She curled her nose and dropped her hand, done. "I've got it, but thanks." When she would have turned toward the mirror hanging on the wall, Scott cleared his throat quietly and she glanced at him over her shoulder.

"You look... beautiful," he said, voice tight. A strange expression blunted his features, making him appear tense.

Her eyebrows drew together in confusion. "Thank you."

He nodded, straightening away from the counter. "Are you ready to go?"

Rogue met his eyes, and then looked around her. "Well, even though it's a bit irresponsible in a way that's not like you, I suppose the unpacking can wait until we come back from dinner."

"That's the spirit of vacation," Scott reminded her. He walked over to the door and pulled it open, gesturing grandly for her to exit. She gave a mocking curtsy and did so, sashaying through the doorway. He shot one last sweeping look around the beach house, gleaming with the afternoon sunlight, and left with her.

The next week was going to be interesting, one way or another.


Scott remained quiet on the ride to the restaurant, and Rogue found herself engrossed in watching the scenery. Even with the windows rolled all the way up, she swore she could smell the ocean as they drove past the rolling, sandy hills that Cape Cod called its own. Light Towers shone in the distance, only just turned on, a dull flashing yellow in the still light evening. In the distance, a seagull flew serenely through the cloudless sky, floating down to the earth with ease.

"It's so beautiful," she sighed.

"Mmm," was his only reply. She looked at him in reaction, and startled a little upon seeing him looking at her and not the road. He immediately focused on the road again.

"Scott," she began, quietly. "I only let you talk me into coming here, away from our work, under the impression that you would eventually tell me what's been on your mind lately."

He only shrugged his shoulders.

Frustrated, she blew out a breath. "Why did you really take me here? I know you're worried about me, but I can't figure out why."

"You work too hard," he said flatly. "When you're not teaching, you're training. When you're not doing that, you're on a mission with us. It's been a long time since you've even sat down with me, had a drink, and played a game of cards."

"I've never really liked cards," Rogue replied absently.

"Me either, but we've still always played them." He tucked his lips together, in the way he did when he was fighting annoyance. "I didn't think I needed a motivation to want to take my best friend on a vacation."

"I'm not saying you have to. I'm just saying that you don't have to worry about me." Rogue reached over and laid her hand over his forearm in a rare display of physical affection. "I've been a big girl for a long time, Scott. I can take care of myself."

"I know it," Scott said. He remained a strange type of still beneath her touch. "I've known it for a long time, but that doesn't make me any less interested in your welfare. You're important to me, Marie. You always have been."

Rogue blinked. He only used her real name when he was very serious and sometimes sad. Casually, she pulled her hand from his arm, smiling widely. "I bet you say that to all the mutant girls with brain-sucking powers."

"Nah," he replied, softly. "Just one. Just you."

Rogue looked at him sharply, but his sunglasses only reflected her own face and she couldn't read anything in the set of his jaw. Complicated, she thought grouchily and turned back to the scenery. Things were complicated between them lately, and she couldn't pin point why it had become so.

However, she was entirely sure the blame lay solely on him.

On the horizon, a small, crowded town appeared. She perked up, studying it with interest. Beside her, Scott smiled at her pleasure. She rarely got the glowing look of new discovery on her face these days. She'd become more jaded, hardened, and it bothered him to see the shadows beneath her eyes.

"It's... cute," she said, a line between her eyebrows as if she was displeased with her own description of the town.

"I know what you mean." Scott nodded, and then pointed toward a building at their left. "That's the restaurant. We're going to have to park about a block away though, because these streets are too crowded and we're never going to find a space."

She nodded, still eyeing the buildings surrounding them.

"I knew you'd like it here," he said, with satisfaction.

Rogue shot him a look. "Wow there, Captain. Just because I like the look of it, that doesn't mean it's going to be the most pleasant experience of my life."

Scott frowned. "What do you mean by that?"

Rogue looked at him oddly, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. "Stop being so defensive. I was only kidding."

"Right." He shook his head. "Sorry. I'm just... tired and hungry. I'll stop being so grumpy, I promise."

She shrugged. "I don't care. It's not like you haven't been grumpy with me a million times before. In fact, I might one day get veteran privileges for going to war with you on a daily basis."

"Yes, but this is different." Before she could ask him how, he had slowed the car down and pulled into a parking space. "It will be about a half-mile walk. Your feet..."

"Will be perfectly fine," she insisted, and opened the door. A gust of air blew her perfume toward him, a tantalizing scent that teased his nostrils. She glanced at him over her shoulder before slamming the door shut "My stomach, however, is just as grumpy as yours. Let's go eat. Like now."

He got out of the car and locked it behind him, before walking to where she waited impatiently on the sidewalk, holding her hair with her palms so that the wind wouldn't mess it up. The darkening day cast her in deeper reds, and there was a single hitch in his belly that he dutifully ignored.

"The wind's picked up," he said, unnecessarily. She nodded and rolled her eyes as if to say `duh.' Scott ignored her and held out his arm for her to take. Used to his odd acts of chivalry, Rogue slipped her arm through his, patting the muscle beneath her fingertips. The wind played with a few strands of his hair, pulling it messily across his forehead.

She'd never understand why he remained single for such long stretches. Once, she'd assumed it was because of Jean, but her death had been nearly ten years ago. A month ago, when curiosity got the best of her, Rogue had asked him why he didn't date more.

"Well," he had begun thoughtfully, leaning back against the couch. There had been a strange quality to his voice, like he wasn't sure of his words. "I guess I'm just waiting for something exceptional."

"Penny for your thoughts," the Now-Scott said into her ear. Rogue blinked, pulled back to the present. She only looked at him and shook her head. Some things were better left unspoken.

Surprisingly, he let her off the hook.

It took only a few minutes to walk to the restaurant. They passed more than one person on the street that looked at Scott with visible wariness, but he seemed unfazed by it, as if he was used to being eyed with such trepidation. She couldn't imagine it. They had both worn visible reminders of their mutation, but hers was often considered just a gothic fashion statement by most of the people she had met during her life. Only other mutants guessed that she was one as well.

He opened the door for her, touching the curve of her back gently as he ushered her inside. But it seemed, for just a second, that his hand lingered before it dropped away. They remained silent as they waited for the Hostess to seat them.

"Welcome to the Charlotte Belle," a woman dressed in a sharp black suit said, walking toward them with her fingers threaded together. "We serve the best in Southern Cuisine this side of the country. Two for tonight?"

Rogue shot him an amused glance. Southern?

He smiled smugly, showing his incisors wolfishly. "Yes. Two."

"If you have extra room for an ego, that'd be nice," Rogue drawled. "You know how you get, sweetie," she teased, squeezing his arm. "If your ego doesn't have a place to sit down, your inferiority complex kicks in."

Scott's lips thinned, and he laughed dryly. "Funny, darling. Very funny."

"Married long?" The Hostess asked kindly as she led them toward a table in the back. The lighting was lower there, like it had to go through a filter just to touch the air.

Scott disengaged himself from her and then looped a long arm around her shoulders, tugging her into the crook of his arm. Rogue looked up at him in shock as his face descended toward hers. Quickly, she looked forward, feeling awkward and embarrassed while he rubbed his nose lovingly across her cheekbone.

"Newlyweds," he whispered, hot air teasing her skin.

Rogue felt curiously short of breath.

"Ah, that explains it," the Hostess said, and gestured toward their table. Rogue scurried from beneath his arm and into a chair before he could pull it out. Scott, amused, casually took a seat himself.

"Public displays of affection," Scott explained ruefully, looking up at the Hostess. "She hates them."

"Aw, a few years and she'll get over it." She wiggled her ring finger. On it was a sturdy gold wedding band. "Trust me. Now, here are your menus." She set them down on the table, politely ignoring Rogue's furious blush. "The waitress will be here in a minute to take your orders. I hope your dinner is as lovely as your marriage is bound to be."

"Thanks," Rogue said, through clenched teeth. "I appreciate it."

The Hostess nodded and walked away. Rogue immediately kicked Scott beneath the table. He winced, banging his knee off the table as he pulled it away from her.

"Ow! Damn it, what was that about?"

"Newlyweds!" She hissed, seething. "Drop dead."

"You teased me first," he complained, bending until his chin was nearly touching the pristine tablecloth to rub his sore shin. "It was a joke."

"I don't appreciate being manhandled," she said, lifting her chin. She eyed him haughtily down her nose, in the way only truly southern-blooded women could pull off. "Joke or no joke. I'm sure you remember what I did to you that time you tossed me into the pool."

Scott swallowed, paling slightly . "In detail."

She bared her teeth at him, leaning forward to rest her elbows on the table and look him hard in the face. It was he who had taught her intimidation. "Get my point?"

He nodded, straightening in his chair. There was something in his eyes, something that made Rogue pause and lean back a little as he opened his mouth to speak. A young girl with a bouncy ponytail and a perky smile stopped at their table. Scott's gaze went to her, and he blew out a frustrated breath.

"My name is Samantha," she said, smiling brightly. In her hands, she clutched a basket of rolls. "I'm here to take your order."

Scott looked over at Rogue, who was biting her bottom lip, and then back up at Samantha. "I think we're going to need another minute."

She nodded. "That's fine. I'll be back in about five to take your order." Before she left, she set a basket of fluffy rolls down onto the table. Rogue's hand snatched out immediately, grabbing a roll from the top. Samantha eyed her warily, shocked by the display. She began to slowly back away.

"I think you frightened her," Scott pointed out, amused. He glanced at Samantha's quickly retreating form, and then back at his friend, who was getting into the roll the way some people got into sex.

"I'm terrifying," Rogue agreed wryly, mumbling around her food. She was far too engrossed to see the way his smile weakened and his throat worked like he'd gotten something stuck there.

Scott nearly said that yes, she really was, but he kept his mouth shut, swallowing the words back. Instead, he took a roll himself, buttering it carefully and avoiding her oblivious eyes. She'd never know, it seemed. She'd never understand exactly what kept him at her side, year after year. And he found he was too much of a coward to tell her.

Rogue swallowed and licked her fingers to clear them of butter. Her eyes landed on Scott, narrowing. "Are you going to eat that?"


"God, that was good," Rogue groaned happily as Scott unlocked the house doors. She rubbed her stomach on a happy hum, standing behind him. "I haven't eaten like that in a year."

"I'm glad you enjoyed it," Scott said, gesturing for her to enter before him. As she passed, he caught another whiff of her perfume. Familiar. Rich. Sexy. Much like the woman herself. "It's been a while since I had a meal like that myself."

"Better than sex," she said, in her offhand way.

Scott nearly tripped on the rug, dropping the keys. Their sharp jingle sounded embarrassingly loud, and he laughed nervously as he bent to retrieve them.

"Clutz," Rogue murmured, as she took her earrings out and set them on the counter. Scott remained in his crouched position, watching her intensely. The moonlight fell across her hair in thick waves, highlighting the light streaks around her face. The removal of her earrings had been such an intimate thing to witness that it made his stomach ache, and it throbbed in accompaniment to his heart.

Pain. Lust. Heat.


Scott turned his face down, clutching the keys in his hand, afraid that she would notice his expression and have a reason to be afraid of him. Hell, she should be. Swallowing hard, acutely aware of the blood rushing between his thighs, he stood awkwardly.

"I think I'm just going to go to bed," he told her, biting the inside of his cheek to keep himself from groaning. He turned his shoulder to her and ate up the space between him and the curving staircase. "I'm beat. Today's been a long day."

"But fun," he heard her call softly. "Sleep well."

Scott paused at the drawling sadness in her voice, and even though he told himself not to, turned to look down at her. She stood next to the window, rubbing a hand over the back of her neck. Desire warmed his face, even as emotion cooled his heart. She looked so terribly alone.

"You're not going to bed?" He asked, palming the smooth banister and leaning forward as if he could get a better look at her face.

She didn't turn, but her hand stilled. "In a little while. I think I might call home and see if everyone is doing okay without us."

Scott pursed his lips. "Is everything all right?"

Finally, she tossed him a careful look, eyes glittering up at him through the moon-wet shadows. "Of course. But I think you have me pegged, Scott. The work is hard to let go. This will be good for me."

"Don't stay up long," he told her.

"Don't nag." Then her back was to him again, and Scott was left with the feeling that he'd had for months. She was the most beautiful creature in his life. And she was also the unhappiest.

Three hours later, Scott tossed in uneasy consciousness. It was brutally apparent that he wouldn't sleep well tonight. There was no way to get comfortable in his present state. He was used to sleeping a room away from her, but he wasn't used to doing so when they were all alone. Occasionally, after her infamous break up with Bobby the day before their wedding, she had crawled into bed with him and slept on top of the covers with her head buried in her own arm, but that had been rare and things were different then. He hadn't been in love with her.

Blood burning hot, he stared up at the naked ceiling, wondering at the shadows dancing along its surface. The ray from the Light House spun, flashing directly through his bare, open window every few seconds. It should have helped him to sleep with its lulling monotony, but it only made him more aware of how very close she was, and how if they made love tonight, they wouldn't have to worry about anyone else hearing.

The back of his throat closed up in need.

Damn it, Rogue.

Giving in, Scott rubbed a hand along the muscles of his stomach, letting out a broken groan as his hand slipped lower, lower, lower.


Later, much later, with guilt twitching inside his belly, Scott slipped inside her bedroom to check on her. It wasn't something he normally did. Only on nights like these, when he gave into his baser impulses. He always felt like he had somehow wronged her and violated their friendship by thinking of her while he brought himself to a lonely, cold orgasm. He had to make it okay again.

Rogue lay sprawled on her front across the bed, taking up all the space in the way single people used to having the bed completely to themselves did. The blanket had been kicked to the floor, sheets to the bottom of the bed, and he had no idea where her pillows were.

With a sigh, he let his gaze travel over the bare skin of her calves, where they were revealed by her riding nightgown. Her flesh, always looking so soft, fairly glowed in the spinning beam from the Light House. Gently, he gripped the sheets she'd discarded and lifted them over her body. She shivered a little as the cool air generated from the motion brushed over her sleeping form.

"Scott," she murmured huskily, and he stilled, shaken.

She was still asleep. She didn't know she had spoken his name.

Scott took a deep breath and leaned forward, brushing a whisper-soft kiss across the bare flesh of her right shoulder, pulling back before he could give into the temptation of her slack mouth.

"Sleep," he said, smiling weakly at her as he forced himself from her side and from her bed. Temptation was one thing. Masochism was entirely something else.


Rogue yawned, stretching her arms to the ceiling as she came down the stairs. She'd slept like a baby after talking with Storm for a half an hour about how the school was doing without them.

"The sky is not falling," Storm had laughed. "No one has died yet. I think we can handle everything without you two for a few days."

Rogue had huffed into the receiver. "I don't know how I'm going to take it."

"With a side of Scott Summers perhaps?" Storm suggested innocently.

As innocent as Storm ever was.

"I don't even want to KNOW what you're talking about," Rogue had said quickly into the phone. "I have to go to bed before Scott gets cranky at me again."

"Eager is he?"

"Shut up, Ororo!"

Scott looked up from the stove when he heard her enter the kitchen, smiling widely at her. She pulled up short at the scene before her. Scott stood next to the stove, stirring something slowly, steam rising around him. He wore shorts and a thin t-shirt, hair ruffled like he hadn't combed it. He looked calmer than she'd seen him in a long time.

"Morning," he greeted affectionately. "I was beginning to think you were going to sleep the day away."

Rogue yawned again, covering her mouth with her palm. "What time is it?" she asked, wiping sleep-gunk from her eyelids.

He gestured toward the clock with a spatula. "A little after noon."

Her mouth fell open and she blinked at the clock. "What? You let me sleep this late?" When he only shrugged, she growled at him and stalked toward the refrigerator, jerking open the door. "Orange Juice... Orange Juice..." She turned, still holding onto the top of the door. "Scott-"

"In the door," Scott stated mildly, pushing the spatula through the cooking eggs. "Don't drink from the carton," he said, just as she lifted it to her mouth to do so. She sighed, tossing him an irritated grimace before doing exactly as he'd requested she not. So much for the chain of command, he thought, but grinned down into the eggs.

"Is that my breakfast you're cooking?" She asked with interest, coming up beside him as she wiped her mouth clean with the back of her hand. He looked her over quickly, from the tips of her polished toenails to the top of her messy hair. She noticed, but didn't comment. It was just something that he had always done.

"You're going to have to work for your food," Scott warned, scraping the scrambled eggs into a bowl. Her mouth watered.

"What is this work you speak of?" Rogue asked, scowling.

He laughed, turning toward her and tapping the tip of her nose with his index finger. "Only a proper morning greeting." When she continued to scowl, Scott narrowed his eyes. "We're not exactly talking slave labor here, Rogue."

The smile gave on her mouth, and then she embraced him with a quick, but firm hug that only lingered when her fingers trailed away from his neck. He forced himself to release her with only a quick look at her face, before twisting back toward the stove and picking up the bowl. He handed it to her.

"I love you," she said seriously as she took it and moved to take a seat at the table.

Scott froze, staring at the back of her head.

"Yeah, um." He cleared his throat. "You too."

"Oh, this is delicious," Rogue muttered around a mouthful. "You've always cooked me the best breakfast. I swear, I've been spoiled. One of these days, I'm going to move out of the mansion, and where will I be then?" She shook her head, shoving another fork full into her mouth. "I'm going to starve."

Scott pushed down the spurt of panic. Damn it, he thought to himself. He had to calm down. He'd been on edge around her lately, frayed and in the final stages of his patience. She'd notice, even as oblivious to him as she was, if he wasn't careful.

"Oh? Well, maybe I should teach you how to cook."

Calm. Cool. He was in control. Right.

Rogue cocked her head to the side, chewing thoughtfully. Then she shook her head, hair waving across her back. "No. I don't think you should." She stabbed the fork into the air pointedly as she continued. "You'll have to come with me."

He finished scrambling breakfast for himself and sat down beside her. "The horror."

"I know." Rogue nodded mockingly. "I guess you'll just have to cope."

"Somehow, I think I'll manage."

She glanced at him curiously, before shaking her head and catching another bit of egg on her fork, shoveling it into her mouth. "So," she said, talking around the food. "What are we gonna do today?"

Scott stared at the wall opposite while he considered, tapping his fork against the side of the plate. "I don't know. There's a million options. We could go swimming, diving, shell- hunting, shopping, sight-seeing..."

Rogue interrupted by placing her palm gently over his mouth. He looked at her over her fingers, unsure of what she was about to do.

"Is nothing an option?" She asked quietly. "I think I'd just like to sit with you and do nothing for once."

Scott cleared his throat when her hand dropped away. "It's an option," he said, voice tellingly rough. He coughed, uncomfortable. "It's always an option."

She nodded, as if putting a period on their conversation. "Well then, I say we get out the lazy stick and beat you with it."

"I worry about you," Scott replied teasingly.

She only tossed him a quelling look.


Rogue lounged in the sunlight, letting it bathe her in its warm rays. She sat in a beach chair, hair tied back into a messy ponytail, sunglasses shielding her eyes. She had a lovely view of the ocean, vast and a dim blue through the lenses, Light Houses sitting on chunks of land in the distance, tall grass fluttering with every gust of the wind.

The wind was cool and dry, even as the sun burned hot. Other people mingled on the beach, with tan, well-oiled skin, and sun- streaked hair. It was easy to ignore them.

Scott came out a moment later, a silver tray in hand. She blinked up at him when he handed her a glass. She wrapped her fingers around it, smiling warmly. The glass, cold to the touch, felt good against her forehead. She pressed it there, rolling it against her skin.

"It's hot today," she observed, stating the obvious. Sweat made her thighs stick to the chair, and her flesh made silly tearing sounds as she lifted her leg, bending it at the knee so her foot rested flat on the beach chair.

"Very," Scott agreed, sitting down in the seat beside her. "I love it," she qualified.

He glanced at her, for only a second. "Me too."

Out on the water, a bird swooped low, diving for a fish. Rogue took a sip of her water, watching with curiosity. She taught a class on Geography to the students, but a part of her had always been interested in Marine Biology. It was probably because water had been one of the few things she could touch for so long, and it had always felt so alive beneath her fingertips. So smooth and silky, as if she was touching skin.

Almost... but never quite.

"I brought out a few slices of watermelon," Scott told her, interrupting her musings. She looked away from the water, toward his bent head. He lifted the tray from the sand, holding it out for her. She eyed the fruit on the tray with as much interest as the bird had eyed the fish it had seen in the ocean.

"I told you that I loved you, right?" Rogue asked, plucking a slice of watermelon from the tray's surface. A strange expression came over his face, but she couldn't comment because juice dribbled from her mouth, running down her chin. "Shit."

"Don't curse," Scott said, vaguely. Rogue looked over and found him very close, leaning over the side of his chair with an outstretched hand. Surprised, her lips parted. A single finger of his wiped gently along the corner of her mouth, down her chin, clearing the juice away.

Her eyes fell shut at the scrape of flesh against flesh, always such a pleasure, always such a painfully intimate act. A spark of something tingled at the bottom of her spine, rising slowly like heat, wet with the moisture building inside her mouth. It felt strangely like arousal, but thicker. Weightier.


"There you go," he murmured, taking his touch away.

Rogue's eyes flew open, and she blinked, dazed. What the hell had just happened? She searched his face for some sign, but she only found his profile, the skin pulled tautly across his cheekbones, leaving him looking wounded and tense. A dark flush tainted the skin beneath his shades.

His voice sounded thick. "All better."

"Right," Rogue drawled, blinking three quick times and pushing it all to the back of her mind where she wouldn't have to think about it. "Thanks."

They remained quiet for a long time after that, enjoying the heat. He noticed that she didn't complain about the smell of the ocean anymore, but seemed to embrace it. It was something he'd found you just had to get used to, like an acquired taste. It had grown on him, since his first of many visits to Cape Cod all those years ago when he'd first lost Jean. It had been a terrible trip, but he'd sat on the beach and stared at the ocean for hours on end, all the water that had taken her away from him.

Scott watched Rogue from the corner of his eye, stealing glances like a thief steals silver knifes. The way she moved in the chair, the way her chest rose and fell with her breathing. Her stomach, revealed in all its pale glory, had begun to take on a rosy color from being exposed to the sun. Every now and then she would lick her bottom lip to apply moisture, and his heart would give one sickening thud in response.

He wanted badly to taste her, but knew he couldn't.

God, he thought, turning his head so he wouldn't have to look at her unintentionally seductive movements anymore. He shouldn't have brought her here. She hadn't acted any differently than if she was surrounded by a roomful of people along with him. Just more relaxed.

It shouldn't make him want to hit something, but it did.

Taking a deep breath, he pushed himself from the chair. She tilted her head, following him with her eyes as he rose. They were dark behind her glasses.

"Where are you going?" She asked, drowsily. The sun had worked its magic on her, flushing her cheeks, making her eyes glitter even as her eyelids fell lazily low. "It's too hot to move."

"Swimming," he answered, clipped. "The heat's getting to me."

"Mmm," she hummed, taking her glasses off and setting them to the side. "I think I'm going to go with you. Help me up." She lifted an imperial hand, waiting for him to take it. Scott found he couldn't resist her charming smile and pulled her from the chair with a put- upon sigh. When she was upright, they held hands for another moment, and then he let her go, making a run for the water. The sand burned hotly beneath his bare feet and his toes sank blissfully deeper as he ran, searching for colder ground.

Rogue followed close behind him, laughing wildly when he kicked up water with his feet as he ran full speed into the water, splashing her thighs.

"Oh, cold!" She squealed, coming to a skidding halt when she was ankle deep.

Scott dove toward the deeper water, going under where it was dark and cool, before rising to the surface with an arc of his back and a kick of his legs. Gulping in air, he turned, searching for her. The sun blinded him for a moment, and he blinked past it, adjusting his sight. He grinned when he saw that she hadn't gotten very far in and had already begun shivering. She wasn't even up to her knees yet.

"Just jump in," he called to her over the sound of the waves.

She shook her head, crossing her arms over her chest and shivering.

"You'll get used to it faster!" When she just continued to ignore him, Scott shook his head and started toward her. Rogue's eyes widened and she backed up a single step. He picked up speed, lifting his legs high in the water and dashing for her. When she saw him coming for her at break neck speed, Rogue made a move to turn and run back to the shore. Scott got to her first, bending low and scooping her up by the back of her thighs and shoulders.

"Scott!" Rogue screamed, thrashing in his hold like an angry fish. "Put me down, you... idiot! The water's fucking cold!"

"Nope!" Scott grunted, hefting her a little higher in his arms. Her skin burned his, and he found himself clumsy again. It was only worsened by the wriggling body in his arms. "Damn it, Rogue, you're going to make us..."

She gave another tremendous wriggle that threw him off balance.


They both tumbled backwards into the water with a loud splash. It was still shallow enough where he had stood that he landed flat on his back on in the muddy sand beneath the water without going under. Rogue landed with a grunt on top of him, the curve of her hip driving the air from his lungs when it lodged against his ribs. Instinctively as he had fallen, Scott had wrapped his arms around her waist and cradled her close to him so that her side was firmly pressed against his belly and he could protect her from any damage.

They both laid still for a moment, shocked. And then slowly, Scott became aware of her shaking on top of him. "Rogue?"

Her laughter burst into the air, like the crystal sound of a bubble popping. "Oh God, Scott. Aren't you supposed to be smooth or something?"

A chuckle rumbled from his chest in response, and he ran his palms along the bare skin of her arms, pulling her a little closer. Hell, he was obsessed, so he might as well get a feel for her before she realized who's arms she was in.

Rogue abruptly stopped laughing, stilling on top of him. She turned her head, only slightly, so that she was almost looking directly into his shades. She stopped though, twitching a little as if she were suddenly afraid to stare at him straight. Her tongue swiped out, catching on her dry bottom lip, and a surge of water rushed around them, hissing in his ears.

Everything else: the people, the birds, the sky... it all grew far away.

"Scott?" She whispered, anxiously. A soft crescent line appeared between her eyebrows, and suddenly nothing was funny anymore. Giddy thoughts ran through his head. There were things they both had to do, things that seemed to have always been on a to-do list that they had ignored, hoping it would go away and they wouldn't have to deal with the consequences.

"Scott," she said, and it wasn't a question.

His stomach muscles contracted. In her voice, there was a slow drawl that he had been waiting to hear directed his way for longer than he could remember. There was something darker than the ruby color in which he saw the world, something richer, with a flavor he'd been aching to taste for far too long.

"Yeah?" He whispered back to her, voice sandpaper rough.

"What's going on?" she asked. Her eyes flicked up, across his face and she began to slowly crawl off his body. Scott sat up with her, following as if drawn by an invisible rope strung between them.

"It's okay," he assured her quietly, keeping her in his lap by holding her arms. The skin was hot and slick beneath his fingers, and he slowly slid his hands up until one was wrapped around her shoulder and the other cupped the nape of her neck.

A shiver, there, in that place between her neck and shoulder.

Rogue's eyes, wide and wary, grew darker by degrees. She grasped the wrist that held onto her shoulder as if she was trying to keep him from drowning, tugging it upward, but he wouldn't move, except for forward, toward her face with his own. He took his time, careful not to scare her off now that he had her exactly where he wanted her, but his grip tightened on her in increments until he was clutching her.

"It's just me," he said, breathlessly.

Contact. His eyes fell shut the second he kissed her.

Real. Burning. Blood red and just as thick. He shook his hand from her claw-like grip and wrapped an arm around her waist, turning her, pulling her closer. She didn't fight him, allowing herself to be pulled in even as she struggled not to respond in kind.

Her lips were salt and tea, and he wanted more.

A kiss, beyond the holiday pecks and quiet hellos; a kiss where he pressed his lips onto hers as if he were desperate for a deeper taste. Rogue's lips remained motionless beneath his, her heart screaming with anxiety, but he was so urgent that she was compelled to open up, to let his firm lips part her own.

Desire. Friendship. The two mixed and became something else altogether.

Electrified, the hairs on her arm stood at end, and she slowly parted her lips, edgy but hungry in a way she didn't quite understand. There hadn't been this before. This feeling of doing something wrong, but something so completely right it could break her.

His tongue touched the corner of her mouth, as if testing her, and something in her gave like a dam beneath a flood, breaking down. She wrapped both arms around his neck and kissed him back for all she was worth. He gave a hearty groan of encouragement, and guided her by the hand that held her nape, focusing all his energy on his tongue tangling with hers, on her heart beating against his.

And then, like a tide, she was out of his arms, standing above him with her hands over her mouth. Water ran down her thighs, dripping from her chin, behaving like pearls of tears that clung to her eyelids. He panted as she stared down at him in horror, pale faced and trembling, as if she'd just done the absolute worst thing she could ever do.

"Oh, fuck," she muttered to herself, backing further into the water. "Oh shit, Scott."

"What?" He croaked, climbing awkwardly to his feet. His entire back was covered in wet sand. It fell off in clumps, plopping down behind him as he followed her, inexorably pulled by the swollen lips she was nervously biting. "What's wrong?"

"What's wrong!" She screeched, outraged, like a proper southern belle. Her face flushed suddenly, filling with hot blood and she stormed toward him in wet splashes, hair falling out of the tie that had held it up. "You... stupid... stupid... Ahh!"

Without the benefit speech, Rogue placed two hot hands on the center of his chest and shoved him. Hard. Scott stumbled back a few steps, but didn't fall. Hurt burned through him at her reaction, so dreadful and powerful that he felt sick, green raveling around his stomach and pulling tautly. She continued to advance on him, fists clenched.

"You kissed me!" She yelled, stabbing his chest with a pointed finger.

"Ow," he muttered distractedly, eyeing her face warily. "Rogue. Calm down."

"I will not!" Her accent, which she had lost most of over the years, came back full force. "I'm going to roast you over an open fire, ya yank. I'm going to tie you up and hang you from your toes!"

"Rogue!" He growled, when she continued poking him. Tears stung behind his eyelids and he blinked them back, anger rising up to take their place. "Stop!" To make sure she did so, he wrapped his hands around hers, holding himself out of reach for her fists. "You're acting like a maniac."

Her eyes widened further, and then swept low, narrowing into dangerous slits. "I'm acting like a maniac? I didn't just kiss you, Scott Summers. You're the one that suddenly got all hormonal and insane. So you should retract that statement AND that kiss before I decide to do it for you by putting my knee in a place you'd rather not have it."

Scott looked at her, hard, like he could drill through her skull and figure out the puzzle that was her brain. Rogue grew uncomfortable beneath the weight of his scrutiny, shifting around on her feet, crossing her arms over her chest. As she fidgeted, his face gradually turned to stone and he dropped his chin down against his chest, so that he could let out the stale breath dying inside his lungs.

"Just an whim," he told her, and it wasn't a complete lie. "Won't happen again."

The look on his face had something tearing apart in her chest.

Rogue softened. "Scott..."

"It won't happen again," he said once more, suddenly lifting his head and staring at her from behind the glasses. A stiff ache permeated his voice, making her feel sickly ashamed, like she'd cut down an already wounded man. There had never been a moment where she wanted to see his eyes more than she did right then, to see the truth.

There was a stretch of silence where only the sound of the water splashing against their legs could be heard in the space between them. He waited for her to say something. When she didn't, he turned his face from her, lips pulling to the side. Inside her chest, her heart gave a single, throbbing ache, even though she didn't - couldn't- make a move.

`Everything happened so fast,' she wanted to say. `How can I have hurt you already? This doesn't make sense. Look at me, Scott. Just look at me.'

His lips parted, teeth clenched over his next words. "I promise."

Rogue nodded, because there was nothing else for her to do. She swallowed hard, feeling dangerously nauseous, a blaze of heat burning her cheeks. Scott turned his back on her, walking toward the shore, and she only stood there, the waves coming and going between her planted feet.


Scott kept his mind blank as he entered the large bathroom on the ground floor of the house. The door closed behind him with a quiet click, and he tracked wet sand across the clean floor carelessly. It was something he might have been anal about at any other time, but right then he could give a damn if he stained the floor permanently with his footprints.

He unsnapped his jeans while staring sightlessly toward the high window, outside where the sun still burned hotly and Rogue probably still stood on the beach, shocked by his behavior. A stab of pain shocked him into fumbling his zipper down, nearly causing himself bodily harm. Scott tried once more to block out the thought of her as the shorts dropped to the floor with a wet plop.

Stepping out of the shorts, he reached past the shower curtain and turned the water on so high that it snapped out like wet, biting bullets. He had to get this sand off of him, before he went crazy from all the places it was making him itch. Feet, thighs, back, stomach... heart. Scott, satisfied with the temperature of the water, stepped inside the shower and ducked beneath the scalding spray.

The water pounded against his scalp, and God, he couldn't block her out completely. That was his problem, had been his problem since that one time he woke up with her beside him, and it had all just clicked into place.

He had kissed her. She had kissed him back.

Scott hissed as he turned the water a notch hotter.


The air was dry and she was a coward. Simple as that. But then, as Logan said, running wasn't cowardly, just self-preserving. Logan had been drunk when he spouted that bit of wisdom, so maybe he'd been lying too.

Instead of facing up to Scott like an adult, Rogue slipped into her skirt, wrapping it tightly around her waist, and took a walk. The sand was soft beneath her bare feet, like walking on silk, but an unbearable loneliness had swept over her at his absence. Tears pricked her eyes, stinging like a thousand sharp little pins were jabbing at the sensitive flesh behind her nose. She sunk with the weight of it, feet first into the sand, as she walked further and further away from the house, until it was a dot in the distance and she was a mile down the beach.

Away. Alone. So good at alone.

And maybe... stirred.

There had been passion in his kiss. The type of repressed desire that ate away at the soul, until there was nothing, and their center had shifted over to the person they had kissed. Her. Rogue stopped walking, winded by the mere thought of him feeling anything for her. It couldn't be. She wouldn't let it be.

"It didn't happen," she muttered to herself, razing a hand over her forehead as if to wipe the thought away. "Scott didn't just maul me."

Rogue stopped walking, staring forlornly at her toes curling into the sand. Scott had once told her that she had ugly feet. At first, she'd felt insulted, but then he had mentioned that he'd read somewhere that all dancers have ugly feet. Strong. Large. Angular. It meant that she could move fast and gracefully in even the most awkward of situations. Except for the situations where her best friend attacked her.

She was being unfair. It hadn't been an attack. It had been holding, caressing. It had been heat, pleasure, friendship, familiarity, wildness... God, STOP. She forced herself to take a breath. A deep one. As she did, she looked over at a little girl sitting in the sand with a red bucket in hand. It was then, with the little girl staring at her with wide eyes full of incomprehension, that she realized she'd been talking out loud the whole time.

Embarrassing? Yes.

"Was I just talking to myself?" Rogue asked the little girl, feeling the blush crawl up from her chest, suffusing her face with heat.

The little girl blinked, and then stood, running off down the beach toward a woman Rogue assumed was the child's mother.

Pivoting quickly, kicking up sand as she did so, Rogue began to walk back toward the beach house. She told herself that once she got there, she'd know what to say. That the words would just roll off her tongue and everything would be okay between them again. And yes, she was lying to herself, but she'd let herself live in the land of denial just a little while longer. It was safe, and it was quiet, and it oddly resembled Scott when he was sleeping.

Shaking the image out of her head, she spotted a pretty shell from the corner of her eye. It sparked a memory in her, and she stopped, bending down to look at it closer. She found that it had sharp silver-colored specks glittering from its surface, while on the inside it was as smooth and glassy as porcelain. Rogue dipped her fingers beneath it, lifting it from the sand and closer to her face. Lovely. The way it shone reminded her of a bracelet Scott had bought her a year back for her birthday. She'd hardly worn it since, because it looked so expensive and breakable that she hadn't dared to keep it on for more than five minutes at a time. With the lives they led, one couldn't be too careful. Besides, a secret part of her had been too pleased by the gift, and she couldn't have that.

Rubbing her fingertips across the rough surface of the shell, Rogue plopped down in the sand, facing the ocean. The ground beneath her was hot, sand catching inside the folds of her wrap-around skirt, and burning her thighs. She wiggled into a more comfortable position, situating the cloth so that she sat on it, and not on the sand.

Why had he brought her here? Why really?

She shook her head, not sure if she wanted to know the answer. She could have continued her journey back to where Scott undoubtedly waited for her return and asked him for the truth, but instead she held the sea shell up to her ear and listened to the hollow humming of the ocean. Closing her eyes, she let it warm the back of her throat and just... sat.

It was a good hour and a half later when she finally approached the beach house. It loomed before her, rickety green- shingles, paint-chipped porch, and streaked glass windows, with the sun setting across its face. Rogue rubbed her hands together nervously and took the porch steps slowly, one at a time, anxiety riding low in her stomach. She was surprised to find a tablecloth laid out across the picnic table on the porch, a candle lit in the center, paper plates surrounding the arrangement.

The screen door creaked open, and Rogue's eyes jerked toward the sound. She swallowed at the sight of Scott standing there, looking freshly showered, holding the door open with one hand, and a tray of sandwiches with the other. There was nothing for her to read on his face.

"You were gone for a long time," Scott observed, eyes tracing over her features. He wondered, briefly, if she'd been crying.

Rogue shrugged. "I lost track of time." She held up the shell as if it was an explanation itself and Scott nodded, accepting the gesture. He let the door slam shut behind him and strode over to the picnic table, setting the tray down on its surface.

She cautiously approached him, halting when she was two feet away from where he stood with his back to her. "What's all this?"

He looked at her over his shoulder. "A peace offering," Scott said plainly. The waves washed toward the shore at their right, burnishing the edges of his words with the hissing sound of water meeting earth. He placed the sandwiches on the paper plates, and then turned to her, dusting breadcrumbs from his palms. A certain sharpness covered his chin. "The question is whether or not I'll be forgiven."

Ouch. Rogue tried for a smile. "Scott, staying mad at you is like beating my head against a brick wall just because it's in my way."

His mouth tipped up at the edges. "Are you saying I'm hard headed?"

Rogue chuckled, and said, "You were the one that said it. I only implied." When he gave in gracefully with a dip of his head, and stretched an arm out at his side, gesturing for her to take a seat on the picnic table's bench, she stepped past him, sitting down. "So, is this gourmet food or should I expect a trip to the hospital this evening?"

Scott sat opposite of her, and picked up his sandwich. "Live dangerously, Rogue."

Funny, she thought. Between the candle light, the setting sun, and the repressed expression he wore, she kind of thought she was.

"We should go shopping tomorrow," Rogue suggested around a mouthful of her peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When he looked up curiously, she placed a hand over her mouth and swallowed. "I want to go back with a tan, a smile, and an outfit to knock everyone right out of their socks."

"You don't need an outfit for that," Scott replied, watching her over the flickering flame of the candle. She noticed the glint of it across his visor and the way it sliced across his cheekbones, highlighting their sharpness.

"It's a vanity thing," she explained, setting her half- finished sandwich onto the plate. "You know how I am. Pretty clothes became a skin to me."

Scott's face didn't change. "You're pretty without your clothes."

Rogue blinked, swallowed, and then flushed. Scott realizing, what he had said backpedaled quickly, stumbling over his words. "No. No! I didn't mean it like that! I only meant... I meant that..." Foiled by his own nervousness, he blew out a breath. "I was trying to pay you a compliment."

"Well, it certainly was one, though I'd like to know when you've seen me naked," she teased, gently. But her heart wasn't in it. "Scott," she began, seriously and waited to continue until he stopped shifting around like he had bugs beneath his skin. "Why did you really bring me here?"

"I already told you."

When he moved to take another sandwich from the tray, she grabbed his hand, digging her fingers into the back of it. His lips parted, the tips of his teeth glinting at her across the table. Slowly, he uncurled her fingers from him, careful of the candle inches away from their skin, and pulled back.

"I didn't bring you here to seduce you, if that's what you're implying," Scott stated darkly, jaw tensed.

Rogue felt her stomach rise and bump against her heart. "No, I didn't mean..." Now it was she that backpedaled, but from the look on his face, it was far too late for that. "Scott, I didn't mean it like that."

He pressed his tongue against the inside of his bottom lip, shaking his head with mirthless humor. "You... you drive me crazy, Rogue. Nuts. Sometimes I feel like I could just grab you and shake you. Others..." Scott trailed off, voice coarsening.

"I don't know what you're talking about," she said, desperately. Her fingers trembled finely as she flattened them against the table, pushing herself off the bench. "You're not making any sense. Is this about earlier?" She raised her hand when he would have answered, stopping him. "No, never mind. I don't want to know. I'll be back later." Rogue turned, stalking toward the steps. What he had said... she wouldn't think about it. She should have waited to come back.

Before she even made it to the top step, strong fingers curled around her bare shoulder, pulling her up short. She tried to shrug them off, but another clamped around her upper arm, and Scott spun her around to face him. Rogue took a sharp step back at the sight of his flushed, angry face, and slammed into the beam holding up the porch's roof. "Dammit, Scott!" She shoved his hands away from her. "You're acting like an idiot."

"Me?" Scott growled, taking a step forward until his clothed body pressed against hers, until the air from his mouth brushed hotly across her cheek. His hands came up, wrapping around the poll behind her so that she couldn't walk away from him. "At least I face up to reality, to the truth. You just sit with your head in the sand, pretending like none of this even exists."

She tried to push out of his arms, but he only pressed in tighter, until she could barely breath. "Let me go," she urged, a warning hanging on the back of her tongue.

"Not just yet." He pressed his cheek against hers, and the visor dug into her temple. Cold. Hard. A sharp reminder that this was Scott's body making her stomach muscles melt into a confused mess of a puddle. "You see," he whispered, breath warm on her chin as his head tipped down and his lips dragged very lightly across her skin. "I may not have brought you here to seduce you, but I wouldn't be opposed to it, if that's what happens." Rogue shivered, before biting down on the reaction and forcing her body into complete stillness. "What the fuck are you talking about?" She demanded.

Scott shrugged, and the motion made his chest rub against hers. Her breath caught in her throat, backing up her air supply until she thought she might choke. "I'm talking about the fact that I've wanted you, badly, for nearly two years now." A revelation that could devastate. "And if you're suddenly seeing me as a sexual creature, I'm not averse to the idea." He stepped back, just a little, and she could see the tension in the line curled thinly around his nostril. "But Good lord, Rogue, I'm not trying to force you into my bed. You'll come to me when you're ready to be there."

Anger filled her veins, blood surging to the surface of her skin, propelling her into motion. Lunging at him, she shoved her palms against the stone wall of his chest, forcing him back farther. He grunted, lips pursing as he fought her struggling, grasping her wrists finally and pushing her away from him with a sharp jerk. Her head fell back, hair slapping across the side of her cheek, and she glared at him.

"You're so fucking self-assured," she growled, hating him more than she'd ever hated anyone before. "Me going to your bed? That's arrogant."

"No." He shook his head. "It's inevitable." With that, he released her. She stumbled before she could help it, grabbing onto the porch railing so that she wouldn't fall. He raised an eyebrow. "Now, if you'll excuse me, it's been a long, emotionally exhausting day. I think I'm more than ready to retire."

"To retire?" She spat. "Were you raised in a tea room?"

Scott said nothing, turning away from her and striding toward the screen door. She watched, furious, as he pulled it open and let it slam shut behind him. She flinched at the noise, raising a hand to her heart. After a moment where she stared at the closed door like it was going to jump off its hinges and attack her, Rogue dragged herself over to the picnic table and sat back down.

Brooding, still flustered with fury, she glared at the flame on the wick of the candlestick. It flickered, as if giving her the finger, and Rogue leaned forward, blowing the tiny flame out with the hard air rumbling around inside of her mouth. Smoke rose pitifully from the crisp wick, curling into the air in thin strings.

Dropping her face into her hands, a quiet shudder escaped her. She'd never expected this from him. The way he had spoken to her, the harsh scrape of his voice in the air that had spoken of waiting. His lips touching her in something other than those softly shared holiday pecks on the mouth. None of it. She hadn't expected any of it.

Should she have?

Rogue racked her brain, searching for some clue she had missed. Certainly they had flirted madly at times, but that was who she was, and by default, who she was with him. She didn't remember him ever showing the mildest sign of interest in her. He'd only been there for her. All these years, he'd been the most sincere, beautiful, amazing person in her realm. He'd dealt roughly with the death of the love of his life. For months, he'd carried on like a zombie, sickly looking and desperate. And then, when he'd drunk himself into a hole, he dug himself out. She'd watched, from afar, as he turned himself into the man he was today. She'd admired him and maybe even developed a small crush. Before she left for college, she'd grown the courage to speak with him on a more intimate level and from only that, he'd accepted her into his life.

She'd felt... cherished. Nothing more. That was enough. It was everything.

"And now?"

Her own voice shocked her. Rogue lifted her head out of her hands and stared blankly at the paint-chipped wall before her.

And now?

Now she felt overwhelmed. Because she was picking out segmented moments that could mean something, soft words that had hinted, dark looks that might have suggested if she hadn't been so oblivious, she would have known. Beneath all of that, the surprise and the self-recriminations, a very real anger began to boil. Sex- hot, it fingered her thighs, gripped her stomach, and chewed in her mouth.

Scott had kept this from her. THIS of all things. She could hate him. It was unfair, but she could hate him for this. Glowing from the anger, breathing hard, she stood and tried to calm herself by clearing off the table. There were no satisfying clinks when the paper plates were put on top of each other, and Rogue found her ire growing. Adrenaline flooded her veins, and abruptly, she lifted the entire tray, where she had piled the mess, and tossed it over the porch railing.

It landed with a crash on the sand.

Now that was satisfying.


Rogue couldn't sleep.

It seemed impossible beneath the huge weight of Scott's revelation to her today. The sheets were damp from her sweat, wet in the places her limbs had pushed against as she tossed and turned, trying to find a cool place to rest her body. No such luck. Cursing, she rolled over again, kicking the sheets to the bottom of the bed. Not like it helped. The air was too hot, too heavy, to make any prominent change in her situation. Instead, she only felt revealed and open to attack.

Flopping onto her back, she glared at the ceiling. Shadows blotted it, floating across the surface, as outside, the clouds concealed the moon, darkening the world. She took a deep breath. In. Out. C'mon. Snap out of it. Don't think of anything.

Fuck, she'd never been good at Yoga.

"Too much thought," her instruction had grumbled at her on her very first class. "Very little action. You must stop thinking. Now."

Yeah, and that wouldn't get her killed. Right. Rogue didn't return to that class again. Instead, she started smoking for a few weeks to kill the tension. Nadda. Finally, she'd just given up, worked hard to kick the barely there habit, and accepted the fact that she'd have tense neck muscles for the rest of her life. Being an X-Man wasn't all about the rest and relaxation, not that she'd complain.

Rogue banged her head against the pillow, wishing she'd taken just a few more classes. Her mind wouldn't shut the hell up and she was left with the aftermath of every moment Scott and she had ever shared. She'd already dissected them until they'd lost all shape and sound, and their innards had hung in her hand. There wasn't anything left for her to do but let it go. Or kill him. The second option was beginning to look more viable by the minute as sleep eluded her.

Damn him.

It was like he'd infected her with naked Scott thoughts just by kissing her and suggesting that he'd be open to experimenting further with the scene that had gone unfinished. Naked Scott was a bad thing, she told herself. A bad, bad thing. Something she wanted nothing to do with. Best friend, she repeated over and over in her head. Scott was her best friend and she shouldn't want to see him naked.

Groaning, she pushed herself out of bed, grabbing the terry- cloth robe on top of her dresser and slipping her arms inside of the armholes. Knotting it shut at the waist, Rogue left her bedroom. Silently, she crept past Scott's bedroom, carefully avoiding the board of the floor that creaked loudly every time she stepped on it. She wasn't so lucky with the stairs. Every other step seemed to groan and pout beneath her wait, snapping at her whenever she stepped on it. Conceding defeat, she to the last few steps quickly, hoping to get the noisiest part behind her faster.

At the bottom, she turned and looked up at the shadowy staircase. No naked Scott following her. No half naked Scott either. Breathing a sigh of relief, she wiped her sweaty palms off on the front of the robe before striding into the open kitchen. She opened up two cabinet doors before she found the one that held the glasses, snatched a large one from the bottom shelf, and then turned to the sink and filled the glass she held with water.

Rogue lifted the glass to her lips and took a sip of the lukewarm water, washing the taste of anxiety down her throat and into her stomach. Yuck. She drank the rest of the water anyway, swallowing heavy gulps to wet her parched mouth. After she was done, she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, placed the glass into the sink with a metallic clink, and gripped the edge of the counter tightly.

Don't think. Don't want. Don't let it in.

Through the window, she could see the darkened stretch of water ballooning out at the edge of the shore. The waves swelled forward, overlapping each other. There was something dark out there, something mysterious and unknown, something untouchable in the grasp of nighttime. She shut her mouth, breathing steadily through her nose to calm the sudden urge to storm back up the stairs, throw open Scott's bedroom door, and climb on top of him. It would pass. It had to.

Forcing herself away from the sink, she left the kitchen, padding barefooted across the length of the living room toward the stairs. She paused in front of them, uneasy about climbing them all over again and making that much noise. Biting her bottom lip, she gripped the railing, and took the first step.


Resigned, Rogue took the rest of the stairs steadily. She didn't bother to breathe a sigh of relief at the top. She might have, if there had been anything to be relieved about, but as it was, she couldn't breathe at all.

Scott. Coming out of his bedroom. Wearing only his boxers.

Rogue blinked, slowly.

He stopped short when he saw her, and tried to look surprised. "Rogue." He took another step forward, into the puddle of moonlight spilling in through the window at the end of the hall. "What are you doing awake?" If there was a certain roughness to his voice, he blamed it on sleep. Or the lack there of.

"It's hot," she said, simply.

Scott nodded and lifted a hand, scraping it along the stubble on his jaw. "I noticed." Shifting on his feet, he forced himself not to reach out for her. "I haven't slept much myself."

Because of her. He didn't have to say it.

"Sorry," she said, blankly. And then she carelessly flicked her hair behind her shoulder. "I'm going back to bed. Night."

Before he could help himself, he blocked her path when she tried to walk past him, towering over her in the shadowed space of the hallway. "Marie..."

She kept her gaze on his chest, as naked and tempting as it was. Anything was better than giving in and looking at his face. "What is it?"

His lips tightened fractionally, the muscles of his chest pulling taut as he squared his shoulders. "You. Know." The words out of his mouth were like a hammer driving the nail home. She flinched.

"I don't want to," she said, through clenched teeth, and shouldered past him. The back of her hand brushed against his lower abdomen as she passed. The muscles there clenched reflexively, and a sharp groan broke raggedly from his throat. Rogue froze in her footsteps, shoulder against his, still lightly touching his ever- tightening muscles.

Don't think. Don't want. Don't let it in.

Scott's hand closed over hers, pressing it hard against his stomach. She could feel his heart beating, hard and low, like a drum. Thump. Thump. Picking up speed as she slowly, hesitantly, lifted her eyes.

"You want to," he whispered.

She shook her head half-heartedly, but she didn't move her fingers away from the burn of his flesh. Instead, they flattened against him, stroking along his belly as if they had a mind of their own. Rogue's eyes fell shut and she leaned forward, resting her cheek against his naked shoulder. His scent overwhelmed her. So familiar, but something about him now had her throat closing up with hunger.

His other hand came up, palming the back of her skull, holding her there against his shoulder gently. Scott's fingers threaded through her hair, tightening by degrees as he turned, pulling her hand away from his stomach. He brought it up into the air beside them and threaded their fingers together. Tightly. She clutched at him and rubbed her cheek against his skin. In response, Scott hummed softly in his throat and brushed the front of his body against hers.

Like they were dancing.

Like they were making love standing up.

Don't think. Don't want. Don't-

Rogue forcefully pulled herself out of his arms, ignoring his mumble of protest. She pushed her hair out of her eyes, combing it out of the way with her fingers. And then, she made a decision. Looking at him fiercely, she deliberately stepped forward, pushing her torso against his as she wrapped vice-like arms around his neck and pulled his head down to meet her kiss. It wasn't gentle, and it wasn't slow. He grasped at her back, curling handfuls of terry-cloth into his hands as he struggled to pull her closer. She kissed him hard enough that their teeth mashed together behind their lips, and when he opened his mouth over hers, she didn't hesitate to return the favor.

If she was going to screw things up, then at least she could let herself enjoy it.

Scott's tongue massaging hers was a new, but not altogether unpleasant sensation. Rogue smoothed her hands along the unshaven length of his jaw, feeling it stretch and clench as he kissed her wildly, breathing hard from his nose. She'd never known herself to evoke passion like this in anyone. She certainly hadn't felt it before.

Rogue had latched herself onto his body, and she tried to climb up him like a ladder. He eagerly accepted, cupping his palms around her thighs and lifting her against him so that the bulge in his boxers was situated almost exactly between her thighs. The added weight threw him off balance and he stumbled backwards, knocking into the wall roughly.

"Ow," Rogue muttered, as his tooth cut into her top lip at the impact, but she didn't stop kissing him.

"Sorry." The word was muffled by her mouth. Inside his stomach, the ball of lust flexed, burning hotter. He swallowed her moans like a starving man, wanting to make it last, wanting to draw it out so that he could calm the craving. As if he ever could.

A grunt was her only response. Scott jerked her up again, cupping the firm globes of her ass, not quite believing that he was allowed to. But he wasn't about to question it. When she hissed and drew back from his mouth, head falling back so that all he saw was her pointed chin and the smooth column of her neck, he stared at her in a daze. Rogue's hips rolled against his, and he flinched, lips pulling back across his teeth.

"God," he grunted, and abruptly spun them around until she was pressed against the wall and he could hump his hips forward against hers without the fear of toppling over. She turned her face to the side, the curve of her cheek catching the moonlight and he couldn't even suck in a breath as he landed hot kisses on her neck, the curve of her jaw, the corner of her eye. "Marie... God, Marie. Let's go to my bedroom."

She shifted, pushing him back a step.

He stood there, with his hands at his side, waiting.

Rogue's mouth pulled to the side in a half-slung smile. "You still want me?"

Something twisted in him, and he latched onto her jaw with both hands, pulling her face close to his. "Always." And it was the truth. The dangerous, heartbreaking truth.

Rogue's eyes flickered, left, then right, and then she held out her hand to him, palm up. Scott looked at it, and carefully placed his fingers in hers. She sighed, very softly, like the wind brushing against leaves, and tugged on his fingers, pulling him toward his bedroom. He kept his gaze on the sway of the terry-cloth against her calves, drawn to the shape of her legs. It burned a hole in his gut to think that those legs would soon be wrapped around his waist, as he had imagined them so often.

She looked at him once, a solid glance over her shoulder, and he could see the sex in her eyes. Her mouth, tilted at the corner, drew him further inside the bedroom like a beacon, and he shut the door firmly behind him, letting go of her hand. Rogue paused in the center of his room, turning to face him. He thought he saw her fingers trembling, but she clasped them together, and he couldn't be sure.

It was a little awkward, and a part of him wished they had just stumbled together in here, limbs and lips locked, so they could have avoided this moment. But then, as the silence stretched, gathering weight, and she took a hesitant step forward, he realized this was how it must be. Gentle, he told himself. Careful. Don't scare her away now that she's within your grasp.

Lust warred with love as he reached for her, gripping her by the forearms and pulling her to the bed. "I've dreamed of you here," he whispered, as he kneeled on the bed, sinking into the soft mattress. She climbed in after him, eyes shades of desire and fear. When they kneeled before each other, not touching, he carefully reached out and stroked a line from the back of her ear down to the skin just beneath the sagging edge of her robe.

She shivered, eyes falling shut. "Here?" Rogue whispered, a lilt of amusement coloring her voice. "In this exact bed? But this is the first time we've been here."

"Together, yes." His finger continued its journey, razing across her collarbone, steady over the bumps and hollows. "But I've come here before, without you." His tone thickened as his forefinger moved further down, beneath the cloth, to run over the tops of her breasts. "I imagined what you'd look like laying beneath me on these blankets, with your hair across these pillows. I imagined the sounds you'd make." His voice caught, and he worked his whole hand inside the robe, cupping a warm, weighty breast. "How you'd feel."

Rogue breathed roughly, opening her eyes and staring down at his large hand inside her robe. It was almost surreal, hard to believe that the hand stroking her nipple into hardness was her best friend's. But the fact that it was his hand made her heart beat that much harder, made her fingers that much more shaky as she ran them over the hot skin of his chest, following the path of his muscles.

Scott felt hot and alive and real beneath her touch, and a flame that she had never felt before flickered to life inside her. Pulling back from him, scooting awkwardly on the bed, she untied the knot in her robe. The cloth fell apart, and then she was naked before him as she let the robe fall to the bed with a quiet swish.

Naked in more ways than one.

Scott's breathing had changed, rumbling in and out of his chest now with increasing force as he looked at her. Just sat, with his palms on his knees, and stared. Rogue smiled, shyly, and ran her palm over the flat surface of her own stomach. "You can touch," she told him, softly, wickedly. "I won't bite."

He smiled, vaguely. "You can. I won't mind." And then his hands were on her. Everywhere. Her breasts. Her thighs. The curve of her ass. They rubbed and molded her skin until she was on her back beneath him, arching up into his touch, body soaked with fresh sweat. They moved over her like he had known her intimately before, like he had always known her, and she found herself crying out when he loomed over her, spread her legs, and stabbed a finger inside of her. The way he wanted her was in his touch, and it made her arousal that much more acute.

Scott suckled her nipple into his mouth, and then pulled back, flicking it with just the tip of his tongue. He watched from her torso, intently, as she tossed her head to the side, flailing her arms against the mattress until she found purchase, gripping the bottom rungs of the headboard. Scott smiled at her lack of control. Rogue bowed her body up until he took her nipple further into her mouth and added a second finger inside of her, curling them into a hook and tugging against the wall of her vagina.

She gave a shocked gasp, twitching in his arms.

"Do you like that?" He asked roughly, as he lifted his mouth away from her breast. Her glazed eyes shifting in his direction, and a small nod was his only response. Scott bent to give her nipple one final lick before sliding down the bed so that he could dot wet kisses along the span of her rib cage. His fingers remained busy down below, and he added another finger, stretching her passage. Rogue tensed up, pushing herself into a half-sitting position on the bed with her elbows. Sweat dripped between her breasts as she stared down at him. He dragged his teeth against the curve of her waist, the moonlight sparking off his visor, throwing ruby waves of light across her skin.

"Scott," she whispered, reaching one hand out to twine it in the messy strands of his hair, scratching her blunt nails gently on his scalp. He hummed, and the sensation hijacked her stomach, stealing her concern away. "Oh... God..."

"No," he said into her navel as his tongue slipped inside, swirling around the sensitive skin. Carefully, he removed his fingers. "Just me. Just Scott."

And that was the entire reason her body felt like jelly, she thought.

Just Scott. Because of Scott.

Falling back against the mattress, she gave her body over to him. She was his. For now. Scott pressed his cheek against her stomach for a vibrating minute, thankful for her surrender, and then he planted his lips below her belly button, sucking the skin there between his teeth. Rogue's hips made jerky circles beneath him as she tried to gain some form of contact with her pelvis. Scott slipped one hand up her stomach, cupping her breast, distracting her, while the other raced down ahead of him. She jolted when she felt his fingers spread her open. Scott shifted further down on the bed, until he was on his belly between her open legs.

Rogue felt wanton, open as she was to him, in a way she had been with very few people in her life. She'd made love rarely, because for the longest time she hadn't been able to touch... and then... well, then because she wasn't used to being touched. The irony hadn't escaped her. All thought left her general orbit when she felt his warm breath wash over her heated flesh, and then, a deep swipe of his tongue against her slit.

She arched off the bed, electrified.

"Yeah, you like that," he said coarsely, lapping at her again, while his other hand trailed up to join its partner, palming both of her breasts. "You like that a lot."

Rogue didn't answer him. Couldn't. She stared vaguely at the ceiling, feeling the burn of her approaching orgasm all the way up to her eyeballs as he stroked, tongued, and tortured her. And it was torture. Of the worst and best kind.

Scott kept his gaze on her face, watching her reaction to this most intimate kiss.

And then he did something... something wonderful with that tongue of his. He moved it in such a way that it nearly curled around her clit, yanked, and damn it, she came like she'd been building up for years, pulling hard on his hair and half bending over him as her body stiffened. Burned. Overflowed. The orgasm was as bright, shiny, and three-dimensional as the seashell she had picked up from the beach just that day. It blossomed through her and she shuddered in his arms.

Scott continued to press his tongue in circles around her clit until she couldn't take it anymore, and pushed at his shoulders to move him away. He gave a few more licks, because he had to keep the taste of her in his mouth for as long as he could, and then pressed his cheek against her shaking thigh, closing his eyes.

"Beautiful," he whispered. "Thank you for letting me do that."

A warm laugh rumbled through her. "I think I should be thanking you." She looked down at him; lips curled up like a Cheshire cat, arms over her head. "Yeah, I should definitely be thanking you. Where'd you learn to do that thing with your tongue?"

Scott smiled, baring his teeth. "A man has to have some mystery to him." And then he pushed himself to a kneeling position, crawling backwards off the bed. Rogue sat up, following him with her eyes as he strode over to the suitcase in the plush chair by his dresser.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

Scott looked at her over his shoulder. "Protecting you." And then he bent down, unzipping the side pocket of the suitcase, plucking a foil wrapper from its confines. "I promise there will be more foreplay next time, but right now I can't wait."

When he turned, she caught his profile. The bulge in his boxers had grown, deforming the front of his underwear obscenely. She licked her lips like she was about to be served cream and Scott hesitated at the edge of the bed, clutching the condom in his hand. Rogue stilled at the strained expression on his face, watching him with her head cocked to the side.

"Is this real?" He asked gruffly, feeling the gnawing ache return to his gut. The one that had nothing and everything to do with desire. "Because I don't think I can take waking up tomorrow and having this be some wet dream."

Rogue raised an eyebrow. "Get in this bed."

Scott's breath rushed out of him in a whoosh. "You know I'd never deny a lady." He slipped his boxers off, letting them pool at his feet, and then climbed back onto the mattress. "Are you sure about this?"

She could say no, she wasn't sure at all. But she wanted him, and telling him that she wasn't one hundred percent sure wouldn't get him between her thighs, inside her in a way she'd only just realized she needed. At least now. She'd give herself this for now.

"Well, you're on the bed at least," she muttered dryly. "It's the first step." The moonlight flooded his skin as he laughed and shifted forward, pushing her back down onto the bed and following with his body. She briefly caught a glimpse of his naked form, the hard length of his erection red in the pool of light.

Scott stroked an errant strand of hair away from her cheek, laying it carefully across his pillow. Muscles corded tightly, he leaned down, chest pressing against hers, and kissed her carefully on the mouth. The tang of her own taste greeted her, and then it was only Scott's tongue molding hers as his palms stroked up and down the outside of her thighs, his chest pressing against hers.

"What does it take for a girl to get you inside her?" She said into his mouth. Scott pulled back from her, eyebrows raised. Any amusement fled his face as she wrapped her fingers around his erection, cupping the unfamiliar weight with a careful hand. His jaw muscles tightened, flinching beneath his skin, and a hiss of air escaped between his clenched teeth.

Stroking him more firmly, she situated her hips beneath his, lifting them a little so that the head of his penis rubbed against the wet heat of her entrance. She sighed, in pleasure, and stroked the tip of his penis further up, against her clit. Scott gave what sounded suspiciously like a whine, and grabbed her hand, pulling it roughly off of his erection. Rogue pouted up at him, chuckling when he bent to nip at her bottom lip, tugging it between his teeth.

"You're such a tease," he muttered, releasing her lip to take her chin briefly between his teeth, and then he laved his tongue over the reddened skin. "Always teasing me with what I can't have."

"But you can have me," she pointed out, softly, and palmed the sides of his head, curling her fingers into his hair. "All you have to do is get the fuck inside."

His heart throbbed. One beat. Painfully.

Lust, still twitching, was tempered by emotion.

When Scott remained still on top of her, Rogue reached up and trailed her fingers over the ruby lenses that kept her from seeing his eyes. From seeing why the atmosphere had changed. "Sometimes I feel like I don't know you at all," she admitted, a little hesitantly. "I feel like I've walked in on the tail end of an important conversation. You've kept all this inside you for this long. What else are you keeping from me?"

I love you, he could have said. And you've never seen it.

"I'm not keeping anything from you," he whispered, dipping his head until his forehead rested against her shoulder, and gripped his cock, leading it to her entrance again. She made a little sound in the pit of her throat, one that he felt more than heard, as he began to slip into of her, pushing through the tautly held walls, wedging his erection inside. His eyes rolled back, and his arms began to shake at the sensation of the first awkward thrust. He could barely hold himself up right.

Rogue's arms slid under his, cupping his shoulder blades as she thrust aggressively against him, burying his entire length inside of her body. She arched, back curling off the bed, in response to the lash of pain and pleasure. Scott shook above her, before pulling out of her sharply and ramming back in, like a jack hammer. Her breath left her in a whoosh, flooding across his ear as he kept his face buried in the crook of her shoulder.

"See?" He grunted into her skin, tongue darting out to catch a drop of sweat, salt burning the chapped side of his mouth. "Not keeping anything from you."

A chuckle rumbled from her chest, never reaching the air as he repeated the motion, pulling out, angling his hips, and stabbing his erection back into her. Rogue blinked, and bucked, lips parting on a silent cry as the top of his penis dragged across her distended clit, forcing a shock of pleasure through her nerves. Her internal muscles contracted in reaction, and Scott muttered something hot and wet into her ear that she didn't understand. Couldn't. She was too focused on the way his body fit into her, the way he fucked her into the mattress like he'd been waiting a million years to do so, as if he'd never been inside a woman before.

Eyes fluttering shut, Rogue smoothed her palms down the sweat- slick length of his back, savoring the feeling of his muscles shifting as he rolled his hips against hers. Reaching down, she cupped her hands around his flanks and changed their rhythm. Slow. Hard. Just as desperate, but a controlled pummeling that had sparks lighting behind her eyes. He gasped, like a fish out of water, and his head lifted. She felt sweat drip against her cheek, flinched, and opened her eyes to find his face above hers.

Scott shifted, ever so slightly, so that his arms were propped near her head and breathed hotly over her mouth. Thrust deeper. Harder. Once. She cried out, nails digging into his ass. He did it again, twisting his hips, and canting his head to the side. Watching her reaction in pure, male satisfaction. Arousal churned uneasily in his gut, and knowing that he was about to climax, he made himself stop thrusting.

Not without her.

"Wha..." Rogue gripped his ass, trying to get him to move again, so damn close that her hips were curling convulsively against his. "C'mon. Scott. Just-"

"Shh." He carefully situated his knees on the mattress and slid his arms beneath her hips. Slowly, with the utmost care, he lifted his torso away from her body, shifting until her ass was sitting on his thighs. She gasped, eyes flying open as the new angle sent him deeper into her.

"Oh, God."

"Mmm-hmm." He smiled at her in the dark, teeth flashing. "Mostly just me. How's it feel?"

Rogue choked on a breath as he slammed his hips against hers with the resounding sound of wet flesh. "Like... a redwood..."

Scott laughed, restraining his own needs with the metal cuffs of his control, slowly pulling from her body, the edge of his cock dragging along the bundle over nerves above her opening. "Sounds good to me."

"Yeah," she grunted, when he slammed back in, his face twisting.

So. Fucking. Close.

Scott, breathing hard, pulled out. And thrust back in. Hard. Her hands flailed, palms slapping against the sheets, curling into the fabric and tugging until they came loose from the mattress, snapping down to where their bodies twisted together in the center of the bed.

And then it was there. Right there.

Rogue's nostrils flared and her hands clenched shut, nails digging into her palms, as she pushed her hips harder against his, riding him from her prone positing.

"That's right," he hissed, gripping her waist tightly and half bending over her. "Oh yeah, that's right, Marie. Make it what you need."

She came, blind-sided by the white-wash of pleasure, head slamming back against the pillow. Her teeth clenched together as a growl tore up her throat, and lust throbbed dangerously at the tip of every nerve. Stomach clenching, she reached for him, blindly grabbing onto his shoulders and pulling his heavy body down onto hers. Couldn't breathe. Didn't matter as his hips continued to pummel hers, as his jaw scraped against her neck, and his breath heated the side of her face.

Slowly, her body stopped convulsing. Her throat felt scraped raw, as if she had been crying. Or screaming. And Scott had stilled on top of her, his cock still hard. Catching her breath, Rogue ran her fingers over the shell of his ear, tracing the wet line of his hair, pushing the messy strands off his forehead.

Scott's lips tilted, flickering shakily into a smile.

And he started moving again, picking up speed. She kept his face above hers with her palms, watching the way his lips stretched tautly across his jaw, the way his eyebrows drew together, as he thrust inside of her so hard it almost hurt. The smell of sex lingered around her, powdering her lips, and she licked them, tasting him there. And then, when he climaxed, his weight fell against her, pushing the breath from her lungs. His hands gripped her hips, holding her pierced by his cock while his body shook on top of her.

She smiled, broadly.

It was more than a minute before he stopped thrusting against her with those longing, half-thrusts of post-orgasmic bliss. Scott sighed, deep in his chest, and then moved down to rest his cheek just above her breast, where her heart continued to beat quickly against her ribs. He spoke soft and low, saying things she didn't quite hear to the skin over her heart. Secret things between him and it that lulled her like a song.

Rogue threaded her fingers through his hair, stroking the sweet skin behind his ears, and shut her eyes, drifting inexorably toward a sleep that had evaded her only an hour before. The last thing she felt before she lost consciousness was a light, damp kiss just beneath her chin.


Scott wasn't sure what woke him. Maybe it was the light of dawn, peeking its nosy fingers in through the unshuttered window. Maybe it was the feel of the empty bed beside him as he rolled over. Or maybe it was the sound of the box spring creaking and soft footfalls surrounding him like ripples in a lake. But he woke with her name in his mouth, speaking it softly.

Blinking his eyes open drowsily, he slowly became aware that Rogue was no longer in bed with him. Rubbing his palm over the area where her breast had been last night, he sighed. Scott rolled over onto his side, finding her naked form kneeling on the floor just beside the bed. She bent down, looking beneath the bed.

"Rogue," he said, again. His voice cracked, morning rough.

She tensed, the muscles in her shoulders clenching. Her head popped up, and she eyed him over the mattress, mouth not visible. "Hi."

Scott smiled, stroking the twisted sheet as if it was her skin. "Hi yourself. What are you doing down there?"

Rogue swallowed, eyebrow twitching in the way it did when she was nervous. "I can't seem to find my robe."

He cleared his throat, sitting up. "Why do you need your robe?"

"There it is!" Rogue exclaimed, hand diving beneath the bed. When she sat back, she pulled out the white terry-cloth with her, draping it across her torso. "I'd like to know how it got under there."

Scott eyed her. The gray light lit the track of beard-rash across her skin, the small hickey just above her left breast. Rogue's dark hair looked wild, tumbling across her shoulders, messy from rolling around on the mattress with him half of the night. She looked unwashed, tired, anxious, and she took his breath away.

"Why do you need your robe?"

"So that I'm not naked," she said, speaking deliberately, like she was talking to a child. "Cloth is made to cover the body."

He took in her expression. "Marie..."

"Don't panic," she said, too quickly. "I was just going downstairs to make us some breakfast. I mean, I know I can't cook like you, but I thought it'd be a nice thing to do." Blowing a breath, Rogue lifted a hand, pushing the wave of hair out of her face. "And maybe I'm a little confused, but it can wait for a little while, because I want to be with you right now."

Scott nodded, swallowing. "Do you still want breakfast?"

Rogue stood, knees cracking as she rose from the chilly floor. Taking a tentative step forward, she smiled awkwardly. "Not so much, no."

He grinned, wickedly. "C'mere."

After, when the sweat was cooling on their skin and their heartbeats were slowing, Scott arm curled his arm around her shoulder, hugging her body to his side. Rogue placed her cheek on his chest, running her fingertips in a ghostly touch across the dips and curves of his muscled abdomen. The skin beneath her fingers was hot, and very soft, like it hadn't been touched often.

"You're thinking too much," he murmured into her hair, placing a gentle kiss there. She shifted in his arms, rolling so that she lay on top of him and she could look down at his face intently. Scott said nothing as she trailed her forefinger over the curve of his mouth, only reached up with his own hand and traced the line of her brow, memorizing its shape.

"There's a lot to think about," she said, softly. The sad quality to her voice had his stomach tightening beneath her, a hard rock of apprehension balling in his gut.

"Don't," Scott said, harshly. "Just be happy."

It wasn't that easy. Nothing was ever as simple as that. Rogue shook her head, dislodging his hand, and sat up, thighs cupping his waist. "What are we doing, Scott?"

"And the voice of Rogue's commitment issues rears its ugly head," he muttered, shutting his eyes. He scrubbed his palms roughly over his face, stifling a yawn. "I was wondering when they would." Said into his hands, the words were muffled.

She pursed her lips. "Don't make me angry, Scott. I don't want to be mad at you right now." When he only kept his hands over his face, Rogue pulled them away, holding them against the bed. "Okay?"

"Then don't be mad," he said, as if that was that. "Be with me." "Scott..."

"We're becoming lovers," he stated, interrupting her, and she nodded as if he was stupid, rolling her eyes. Scott slipped his hands free from her hold so that he could cup her jaw, fingers spreading across her cheeks as he forced her to look directly at him. "The transition from friends to lovers is never an easy one."

She breathed deeply, air washing over his fingers as she exhaled. "I know that."

Scott pushed his hands up, tangling his fingers in her hair. "I've been hoping for it for a long time, so perhaps it won't be as hard for me as it is for you right now. You're thinking of me in a new light," he observed. He spoke as if his heart wasn't ramming roughly against his ribs. "I'll understand if it takes you time to adjust. Just... don't walk away, okay? Not like you did with Bobby, not like I've watched you walk away from every man in your life."

She opened her mouth to speak, but he placed his thumb over her lips, sealing whatever she would have said inside. "Give it a try," he whispered, urgently. "Give me a try. We already know that we're good in bed. And you like me, right? My body?"

Rogue smiled. "Very much."

"Then that's all I need for now."

She nodded, and dropped her head down so that it rested in the crook of his shoulder, breathing him in. His heart pounded against her ear, painfully loud in the silence between them. Tension stretched. And she knew, then, that what she'd feared he'd been keeping from her was true. "You love me, don't you?"

A quiet, and then, "More than we'd both like, but I can handle it."

Handle it? Rogue nodded against his skin, like she understood, when she didn't. There was no more talking. His breathing slowed by degrees, his hand becoming heavy on the back of her head until she was sure he'd fallen asleep. Cautiously, she lifted her cheek from his shoulder, peering at his slack face. Scott seemed suddenly precious to her, someone that she couldn't stand to lose. Curling into him, wrapping her arms around his waist as if she could protect him, she struggled with an overwhelming wave of emotions.

"I think I love you too," she whispered, lips brushing against the shell of his ear. Scott twitched, but there was no other response. She watched him, for any sign that he had heard her, but he remained fast asleep.

Think? No, she knew.

In the space of two days, Rogue had fallen in love with her best friend.

And it felt like drowning.


Silverlake: Authors / Mediums / Titles / Links / List / About / Plain Style / Fancy Style