THE ARCHETYPE ASSOCIATION
The merciless sun beat down on their heads the moment they
appeared in the Wyoming desert. Bobby quickly coated one hand
in ice and rubbed it against his head and face. "Oh,
man. This is brutal."
"And Will's been out here for at least one or two hours,"
Jean said. "He'll be in bad shape."
"Then we should stop yapping and go find him,"
Rogue declared as she put on her sunglasses. "Can you
give us a direction, Stephen?"
Strange took a few steps away from them, then floated up
about three feet with the aid of his coat. He closed his eyes
for a few seconds, then pointed to an area to the right of
the overbearing bulk of the mesa known as Devil's Rock. "That
"Is he moving away from us or towards us?" Ororo
"You'd better let me carry everybody, Ororo," Jean
suggested. "We may spook him if you use your winds."
Ororo nodded and let Jean carry her and the others. Strange
went ahead of them, levitating above the sparse, dusty ground.
They moved quickly, accelerating until the terrain underneath
them became a blur.
Rogue tried to remain calm, aware that the anger and worry
that had given her the strength to get out of her sickbed
would be a liability when dealing with Will. Her best tactic
would be to radiate calm and understanding.
While she did not agree with Will's decision to leave after
his encounter with Scott, she felt that she could understand
it to some degree. She had fled from emotionally stressful
situations at several points in her life. But she had always
left to seek help; she had left her hometown to go with Mystique
and Destiny when she was just a child, but she knew even at
a young age that the situation she was leaving would eventually
destroy her if she did not escape. She had loved Mystique
and Destiny, but they could not give her the help and guidance
in her powers that Xavier could.
Will had fled because he felt guilty for hurting her, but
Rogue knew from painful experience that fleeing did not end
the guilt; it just drove it deep inside, giving it an opportunity
to fester and infect the mind and soul. She cared far too
much for Will to allow him to fall into the emotional pit
that she had been in for so long.
Bobby's voice broke through her quiet musings: "I see
him!" he said, pointing ahead of them.
Rogue followed his arm to see a distant figure slowly making
its way through the desert. The dirt which coated its clothing
made it seem almost a part of the landscape.
"We're lucky you were looking that way," Jean told
him. "He's covered with so much dust, we might have missed
"Stephen," Rogue asked, "can you keep us out
of his sight for a few minutes?"
"Already done. I'm also setting up some small dimensional
passages. They won't keep him from teleporting away if he
really wants to, but they'll slow him down long enough that
he won't just vanish on us without warning."
"Good work," Ororo said. "Do you have a plan,
"You're going to put me down about a hundred yards in
front of him, and drop my visual cloak. Then you're going
to get out of earshot and out of his sight. I'm going to talk
to him, and convince him to come back. I'll wave to you when
it's safe to come for us."
"Rogue," Jean objected, "that's too dangerous.
We don't have any idea of what his mental state is."
"He won't hurt me," Rogue said with absolute certainty.
"What if he tries to run?"
"Then you zap him. But that's our last resort. Now,
let's do this." Jean looked unhappy about it, but she
complied with Rogue's request, gently setting her down.
"Give me two of the canteens, Hank."
"Here," he said, handing them to her and helping
her clip them to her belt. "Good luck, Rogue."
She watched the others maneuver behind a large boulder, then
turned to face Will. His face was downcast, and had the same
hopeless expression that she had seen in her dream. Jean,
she asked mentally, tell Stephen to drop the cloak now.
She counted to ten, giving Strange enough time to dispel the
enchantment, then waited for Will to get within twenty feet
of her before she spoke.
"Don't you think it's time you stopped to rest?"
Will's head snapped up, and his wild eyes stared at her intently.
After a moment, he shook his head and started walking again.
He probably thinks I'm another hallucination, she
thought to herself. She took one of the canteens and shook
it in her hand, causing the water to slosh. "You could
use some of this, too," she told him. "Here, catch."
She tossed the canteen to him, and he reacted by jumping
back. Slowly, he bent down onto one knee and touched the canteen
with one shaking hand. After determining that it was indeed
real, he took it and slowly stood back up, looking at her
with both surprise and fear.
"Yes, I'm really here," she said gently, "and
I'm okay, and I want you to come back to the mansion with
Will tried to speak, but all his parched throat could manage
was a dusty cough. He opened the canteen, and took a long,
deep drink from it. After another brief coughing fit, he tried
again. "But... I hurt you."
"What did you do to me, Will?" she asked in a quiet
voice. "How did you hurt me? You're not the one who shot
"I wasn't fast enough," he muttered. "I could
have prevented it. I could have taken my man down and gone
to help you."
"No. You tried not to kill anyone. That's nothing to
be ashamed of."
"But... Scott said..."
"Scott didn't know anything about what had happened.
He didn't have any right to say the things he did. No one
is blaming you for what happened, and we all want you to come
home." She held out her free hand. "Please."
Will started to move towards her, but stopped himself and
turned away. "I can't," he wailed.
"Why not?" she pressed, feeling that she was close
to convincing him.
"You weren't hurt because of me then, but you will be
eventually. I hurt everyone eventually." He said the
last statement more to himself than to Rogue.
"Will, I don't understand what you're trying to say."
He took in a long, shuddering breath. "Rogue, I've done
something terrible. Something unforgivable."
Rogue paused at that, wondering just what Will would consider
unforgivable. "What did you do, Will?"
"I DON'T KNOW!" he shouted in a voice which cracked
from the sudden strain. "That's the hell of it, Rogue.
I can't remember!" He collapsed to his knees.
"I catch glimpses of it sometimes, like it's in the
corner of my eye. But it always hides when I try to remember
it. It's always there, though, staying in the back of my mind.
All I know is that whatever I did, I did it to someone I cared
"That's why I have to stay away from you, Rogue. I'd
never be able to live with myself if I ever hurt you. Now,
please... run away, and save yourself while you can."
"No," she told him in a firm voice. She walked
closer to him and squatted slightly, so that she could look
him in the face. "You told me once that you didn't care
about my past; that it didn't make any difference to you.
That works both ways, Will. Your past doesn't make any difference
Will got to his feet and started pacing. "I know that.
But every instinct I have tells me to hide you, protect you,
put you up in an ivory tower with a dragon to guard you and
keep you safe. I know that I can't do that... that you're
meant to be free, but that's how I feel. I can't think straight
when you're around me... I can't stop thinking about you when
you're not. You've become the first thing I think of when
I wake up, the last image in my mind before I go to sleep."
He whirled around to face her, beating his fists against his
chest. "Don't you understand that I'm in love with you!?"
Rogue's heart skipped a beat, and she had to swallow to speak
again. "You are?"
He looked at her for a moment, seemingly confused, then walked
up to her and, taking her by her uninjured shoulder, gently
but firmly hauled her to her feet.
"Oh, you foolish, silly, stupid woman," he said
in a low, rough voice. "You stand by me, no matter what
happens. You defend me, you watch over me, you bring a light
into my soul that I never even knew was missing. Before I
met you, the noise in my mind and soul was so loud that it
was drowning me out... I was starting to forget just who I
was, losing my sense of self. Now I feel more connected to
the world than ever before... all because you've refused to
give up on me. How could I not love you?"
"Then come home," she begged. "Whatever you
did, whatever the consequences are, let me help you face them.
I won't give up on you... but you can't give up on us. You
let me lean on you when I was weak... now it's your turn to
lean on me. You're not alone any more. You have a family that
cares about you, and a woman who loves you. Come home."
He said nothing, simply looking at her, then, without warning,
started crying, sagging to the ground as the exhaustion and
stress of the past two days finally took their toll on him.
Rogue helped him down, holding his head against her chest
as he sobbed. Raising her free arm, she gestured for the others
to join them. "We don't have to go straight back if you
don't think you're ready yet," she told Will as they
"I... I think I need some time," he said in a tear-strained
"Then you'll get it," Jean promised him.
"Charles, it's Jean. We found him. Not good... he's
physically exhausted, and between that, the stress, and probably
having his brain baked from the heat, he's about to collapse.
We're in a small town just outside the park. I'm going to
look into renting a van and driving back for at least part
of the way. No, there's no way he could handle coming straight
back. Stephen is going to stay with us to keep an eye on him.
For now, we're all beat, so I got the location of the local
motel. Would you believe that Will is paying for us?
Apparently, he just grabbed things at random when he left
- including five bundles of hundred dollar bills. Henry's
going to examine Will when we get to the motel, so I'll call
again from there if there's anything serious. Rogue's a lot
better than I expected... about the only good thing that came
out of this is that they finally confessed that they love
each other. You're damn right, it's about time. Okay, I have
to go. Tell Scott that I love him, but I'm still mad as hell
at him after seeing what happened to Will. Bye."
The door to the motel room opened, and Henry and Bobby helped
move Will onto a bed. "Bobby," Henry said in a clinical
tone, "fill the tub with water."
"You'll want it to be cool, but not cold," Strange
added. "Too cold, and he'll go into shock."
"What supplies will we need?" Ororo asked.
"Food, obviously. You'd better get some bottled water,
too. There's no telling what's in the water around here. Get
him a change of clothes... do you know what size he is, Rogue?"
"Men's medium shirt, thirty-six waist, thirty-four leg.
If you're getting jeans, you'd better make them loose fit.
I think he's a size nine shoe."
"We'll need aloe gel for his sunburn, and some aspirin
for the pain from the burn," Strange said as he and Henry
started stripping Will of his clothing.
"Something's sticking here," Henry said as he tried
to remove Will's shirt. Unbuttoning it from the top down,
he looked underneath the collar. "Oh, my God," he
said as his face fell.
"What's wrong?" Ororo asked.
"Remember that knife wound?"
"It never healed properly. The entire front of his shirt
is pasted with dried blood." Grabbing the first aid kit,
he pulled out the surgical scissors and started cutting the
Strange took the scissors for a moment and cut the laces
off Will's boots so that he could pull them off. "We'll
have to cut through the clot just below the surface, then
slowly peel the shirt off. You'd better add hydrogen peroxide
to the list, Ororo."
"Give me a psychic yell if you need anything else,"
Jean said as she and Ororo left.
It took nearly twenty minutes for Strange and Henry to remove
the remainder of the shirt. When they were done, they found
that the original wound was closed, but not healed. "Can
we risk putting him in the water?" Rogue asked.
"I think it's safe," Henry said. "Once we
bring his body temperature back down and let him rest, his
healing abilities should kick in. Get his pants, Stephen."
They moved Will's nude body towards the bathroom a minute
later. Bobby quickly moved out of the way to give them room,
and they slowly lowered Will's body into the water. Strange
grabbed the towels from the rack, soaking them in the water
and draping them over Will's chest and the back of his head.
"He's lucky he was wearing his hat. The only thing that
got sunburned was his neck."
"Why don't we clean him up while we're at it?"
Bobby suggested. "We might be missing something under
all that dirt."
"Good idea," Henry agreed. He and Strange scrubbed
Will down with a clinical efficiency that came from their
time spent as interns. Ororo and Jean returned just as they
"The local store didn't have much in the way of clothes,"
Jean said. "Will's stuck with the cowboy look until we
can find something that he'd actually buy on his own."
"I can transform it into something more appropriate
later," Strange told her as he started to disinfect the
"How bad is it?" Ororo asked.
"Well... it's closed, but the scar isn't too clean.
If he were a normal patient, I might be worried, but Henry
tells me that Will is anything but a normal patient.
So I guess I have to say that he's not too bad." He and
Henry pulled Will out of the tub, and Bobby quickly toweled
him off. After Will's chest was bandaged, he was deposited
in the nearest bed. "He should be all right for a while,"
"Why don't we get something to eat, then?" Ororo
suggested. "Then we can get some rest ourselves."
"I can't argue with that," Jean said. "I'm
"Didn't we pass a greasy spoon on the way here?"
"I think it was called 'The Desert Skillet,'" Henry
"Why don't you guys get something to eat," Rogue
suggested, "and I'll keep an eye on Will? I'm more tired
than I am hungry, anyway, so I'll have something when I get
"You did push yourself pretty hard today," Jean
told her, handing her a twenty dollar bill. "The diner's
open twenty-four hours, so sleep yourself out."
"Okay. I'll stay here for now. Wake me up when you get
back, and I'll switch rooms."
Jean nodded, taking the room key and shutting the door behind
her as she and the others left.
Rogue wearily slumped onto the empty bed, removing her sneakers
and lying down. Turning her head towards Will, she saw that
his face was still lined with strain and worry.
Biting her lip for a moment, Rogue got up and slid her bed
over so that it touched Will's. Placing a pillow between their
heads, she wrapped herself up in the top sheet and curled
up beside him. Willingly succumbing to the exhaustion and
strain of the day, she quickly started to drift into slumber.
Just before she fell completely asleep, her hand searched
through the sheet for Will's. Finding it, she gripped it gently,
giving it a reassuring squeeze.
"I love you," she whispered, surrendering to dreams.
Jean and the others came in about an hour later. Opening
the door slowly, they quietly walked in and looked at the
two sleeping forms on the bed.
"They do make a cute couple, don't they?"
Strange commented after a few moments.
"We like to think so," Henry said.
"Think we should wake her?" Bobby asked.
Ororo thought for a moment. "No. After the past few
days, the least they deserve is a night together."
"Is it safe?" Strange asked in a concerned voice.
"It should be," Jean told him. "Rogue's power
isn't active when she's asleep."
"Fortunately, my magic is. I can sleep while levitating.
Bobby, would you and Henry mind a roomie for the evening?"
"No problem. You'll just be another target for the pillow
Strange sighed. "Maybe I should set up a protective
Jean telekinetically closed the door behind her as she and
Ororo entered their room. "God, I'm beat," she said
as she collapsed onto her bed. "I think that the sun
baked all the energy out of me."
"I could sleep for a day or two myself," Ororo
confessed, "but I absolutely must take a shower
first." She slipped out of her clothes and walked into
the bathroom. A few seconds later, there was a small rainstorm
falling onto the shower tile. "Oh, Goddess," she
sighed, "I needed this. I feel like I carried half the
desert in my hair."
"Then I must have the other half. Is there any shampoo
"Two sample bottles."
Ororo stepped out a few minutes later, wrapped in a bath
towel. "Your turn," she said in a contented voice.
"You don't have to tell me twice," Jean replied
as she practically threw her clothes off. "Don't fall
asleep while I'm in there. I don't want to have to explain
any flooding damage."
"I can hold out for a few more minutes. Enjoy yourself."
As Jean hummed to herself while taking her shower, Ororo
toweled herself off and tied her hair back with some elastic
bands they had purchased at the drugstore. "Do you think
Will is going to be all right?" she asked.
"If we give him enough time to recover before he gets
back, then yes. Could you make the rain a little harder, please?"
Ororo complied. "All done," Jean said a few minutes
later. Ororo dissipated the cloud, and soon afterwards, a
T-shirt floated out of the shopping bag and towards the bathroom.
Jean walked out wearing it after a few moments. "I just
adore the way that feels."
Ororo, who had finished drying herself, was now under the
sheets, rapidly lapsing into sleep. "Can you get the
light?" she yawned.
Jean turned the switch off with a flicker of thought. "I
want to go looking for a van in the afternoon," she told
Ororo. "I think Hank should come along... he can check
the candidates in the car lot for problems, and I should be
able to catch any obvious lies from the salesman."
"Excellent strategy," was the murmured reply. "Good
Consciousness returned to Will very slowly, as his weary
body demanded food and water. He rolled over onto his stomach,
groaning from the soreness in his legs. A few minutes later,
he was coherent enough to sit up and open his eyes, which
squinted against the morning light. As he sat at the edge
of the bed, he became aware of several things:
- His memories of the past few days were very hazy.
- He was nude.
- There was a pile of clothing on the chair to his right...
which included a bra and panties.
- He could both feel and see some residual heat from a depression
next to him on the mattress.
- The shower in the bathroom was running.
The average man, upon putting these facts together, will
react in one of several manners, ranging from an ecstatic
"Yes!" to sheer panic.
Will chose to panic.
Frantically searching around the room, he noticed a small,
neatly folded stack of clothing on a nearby table. He quickly
jumped out of the bed and tried them on. The clothes, which
appeared to be a country/western style, were not his preferred
mode of dress, but at that moment he would gladly have worn
a pink velvet tutu and whalebone corset if they were the only
things on hand.
Part of him wanted to run out the door and keep running,
but he realized that he wouldn't get any answers about just
what had happened to him until he found out the identity of
his companion. He pulled out the other free chair and sat
down, trying to remain calm.
A few minutes later, the sound of flowing water ceased. A
brief, quiet rumble indicated that the door to the shower
stall was opening.
May as well get this over with, he thought to himself.
"Um... good morning," he said in a voice which cracked
slightly near the end.
The bathroom door opened slightly, and a head poked out into
"Good morning," Rogue told him cheerfully before
pulling her head back and closing the door again.
Will sat there, unmoving, with his mouth hanging open and
three words echoing in his head:
Rogue dried herself off with the towel and tied it off around
her chest, trying to stay quiet as she shook with laughter.
Will's expression, she decided, was beyond words. After brushing
her hair, she opened the door a second time. "Can you
hand me my clothes, please? They're in the bag by the door."
After the bag seemed to transport itself across the room...
she didn't think that Will had enough strength to work in
overdrive, but he came damn close... she dressed and left
the bathroom. "The other towel's on the rack," she
Will mumbled his thanks and practically flew into the bathroom,
shutting the door behind him.
Once she heard the shower running, she had to bury her head
in a pillow to muffle the laughter.
About ten minutes later, Will stepped out of the bathroom,
dressed and with his hair slicked back. "You hungry?"
he asked her.
"Starving. I was too tired to eat yesterday." Standing
up, she tossed him a pair of leather work gloves. "We
got them at the hardware store. Let's go eat."
Will nodded and opened the door for her. "Shouldn't
we let the others know where we're going?"
"I told Jean that I'd eat when I got up. She'll give
us a telepathic buzz if she gets worried."
"Which way to the diner?"
"Take a right." A few minutes later, the bell on
the door clinked as they entered the diner.
"Good morning," the waitress told them cheerfully.
"Table for two?"
"Yes, please," Rogue said. They were led to a booth,
and a few minutes later, Rogue was starting on her bottomless
cup of coffee, waiting for her ham steak and eggs. Will had
ordered a stack of pancakes with sausage and toast on the
"So," Rogue said.
"Where do we go from here?"
"I could answer that with a few jokes, but that wouldn't
feel right. I think we should take this slowly, and see just
where it leads. If we try to move to fast, we could ruin things,
and that's the last thing I want."
"That sounds good," she said as she reached across
the table and took his hand in hers.
"Can I ask you something?" he ventured.
Will covered his face with his left hand for a moment. "I
cannot believe that I'm instigating this conversation,"
he said to himself. "You see, my memories of the past
few days are really sketchy. I remember walking around for
a long time, I remember my conversation with you... and the
next thing after that is waking up about... oh, an hour or
so ago. Can you fill in any gaps?"
Rogue gave him a blank look. "You mean you don't remember
how wonderful last night was?"
For the second time that morning, Will's mind achieved a
state equivalent to that of a car whose engine has seized.
"Excuse me?" he asked in a small voice.
"Well, I would have waited for you to take a shower,"
she told him, fighting to keep a straight face, "but
I was so hot and sweaty that I couldn't wait. You weren't
as bad, of course, but the rubdown that you got probably helped..."
By this point, Will had the appearance of someone whose brain
was undergoing a nuclear meltdown. Rogue decided to be merciful
at that point and burst into laughter, explaining the events
of the past day. She had finished by the time their meals
"So how do you feel?" she asked as she put salt
and pepper on her eggs.
"Weak," he admitted. "Outside of having some
very sore feet, though, I don't think I'm hurt. I should be
okay after a few days of rest."
"I think Jean and Hank were going to look for a van
today. If they can find one with an extended cab, you'll be
able to lie down in the back seat."
"Well, I've never been able to sleep in a car,"
Will said with a grimace, "but at least I'll be able
to relax." His gaze shifted to a point just beyond her.
"Good morning, Jean, Ororo."
"Good morning," Ororo said as the two women walked
up to them. "How do you two feel?"
"Weak, but recovering," Will said.
"Same here," Rogue added with a smile.
"How's the shoulder?" Jean asked.
"Still a little stiff," Rogue admitted. "I
blasted it with some heat when I was in the shower, though,
so it's not too bad."
Will gave her a concerned look. "I didn't even think
to ask about that."
"Hey, it's okay," Rogue said, patting him on the
arm. "You've had enough to deal with. I'm fine. I just
need some rest, same as you."
"May we sit down?" Ororo asked. Rogue and Will
nodded, sliding over to give them room.
"We already ordered," Will told her. "Any
sign of life from the others?"
"I knocked on the door before we came here," Jean
told them. "We may want to look into getting an extra
room for Stephen from here on. Bobby and Hank were up to their
usual antics during the night, and he didn't get any sleep."
"We'd better keep him happy," Will decided. "As
the wise man said, 'do not meddle in the affairs of wizards,
for you are crunchy and good with ketchup'."
Ororo chuckled. "At least your good spirits are returning."
"The company that I've been keeping has helped. Rogue
told me that you'll be looking for a van today," he said,
turning to Jean.
"That's right. I'd like to see if we can get going by
"Any idea which route we'll have to take?" Rogue
"I'm not sure. I haven't had a chance to look at an
"The most direct route would be to take I-90 until we
hit Chicago," Will suggested. "Then we switch to
I-80 all the way to New York."
"I thought you didn't drive," Ororo said in surprise.
"I don't. But I've spent enough time as navigator to
remember the basic outline of some maps." He turned his
attention back to his breakfast when the waitress showed up
to take orders from Ororo and Jean. "You know,"
he said half to himself, "I don't have the appetite that
I thought I would."
"Probably because you're breaking a two day fast,"
"Probably," he agreed, yawning. "If you need
any leverage at the car lot, Jean, come and get me. I'll wave
my credit cards around for a few minutes, and get the salesman
drooling to make a sale. That should drop the price down a
few hundred bucks. Otherwise, I think I'll go back to sleep
for a while."
"Okay. By the way, any problem with the clothes we got
"Well, to be honest, they're starting to chafe."
Ororo winced. "Where?"
"Normally, I'd tell you, but you're about to eat. Can
I slide out, please?" Ororo got out of the booth, and
Will stood up. "See you in a few hours."
"Wait up," Rogue told him as she wiped off her
mouth with a napkin.
After they had paid the check and tipped the waitress, they
walked back to the motel. Henry, Bobby and Strange left their
room just as Rogue was pulling out her keys. "Morning,
guys," she said cheerfully.
"Morning," Bobby said. "You two look a lot
"I feel better," Will replied. "I still need
a lot more sleep, though. I'm crashing until we have some
transportation. Ororo and Jean are still at the diner."
Strange looked at Will. "You haven't shaved yet."
"Didn't have my straightedge," was the shrugged
"You shave with a straightedge?" Henry asked incredulously.
"I have to, if I don't want to get lacerated. The safety
razor's only a century or so old, and whenever I try to use
one, the Chorus keeps messing me up. Besides, I haven't had
a beard since I went grey. I'm curious about how I'll look
"To be honest, so am I," Rogue mused. "We'll
talk about it later. See you guys in a few hours."
"Enjoy your rest," Bobby said, "or whatever
it is you'll be doing."
Will sighed. "Get your mind out of the gutter, Bobby.
It's crowded enough with me in there." He followed Rogue
into their room, shutting the door behind him. "Remind
me to smack him later."
"I get to go first," she told him as she sat down
on the bed and removed her sneakers, tossing them aside.
"I should have straightened out the sheets before we
left," Will remarked. "I hate sleeping in an unmade
"Poor baby," she teased. "The burdens you
have to bear."
"It's so nice to have a sympathetic ear," he replied
blandly. "Do you want to split the beds back apart?"
She thought about it for a moment. "I'd really feel
better if I was close to you," she said shyly.
Will gave her a gentle smile. "Okay. But it's my
turn for the Boris Karloff impersonation." He kicked
off his shoes, then took the top sheet off the bed and wrapped
himself in it in a manner similar to the way Rogue had when
she was in his room. Standing at the foot of the bed, he let
his eyes roll back and tilted forward, collapsing onto the
Rogue laughed as she caught him and gently rolled him onto
his back. "I've finally got you where I want you,"
she told him with a mischievous smile.
Will gave her a look of mock fright. "Oh, my. I've fallen
into the clutches of the legendary Mississippi Marauder. Whatever
shall become of me?"
"Whatever I want," she replied in a husky whisper,
a smoldering look building in her eyes.
Rogue examined the sheet where it surrounded Will's head.
Taking a loose section below his chin, she pulled it taut
and covered his face up to the bridge of his nose. "Perfect,"
"For what? Planning on using me to start your own male
"No," she said with a chuckle. "Perfect for
She slowly lowered her head, breathing softly over his forehead
and eyes. Moving down, she tilted her head slightly and brought
her lips in contact with the cloth. She could feel the pressure
of his lips through it, and the warmth of his body penetrated
the fabric, allowing her to sense the flush riding in his
The kiss lasted about a minute, and both Rogue and Will had
to gasp for breath when their lips separated. "Wow,"
"Haven't you been kissed before?" she asked with
"Not like that," he admitted.
"You're going to make me blush," she said, yawning
as she finished. "We'd better take that nap now."
She stood up and walked over to the door, placing the 'Do
Not Disturb' sign on the outside, then closing and locking
it. A moment later, she closed the curtains, reducing the
light in the room to a level comfortable enough to fall asleep
in. "That's your only change of clothes for the next
day or two," she pointed out. "It might be a good
idea to let them air out."
"Good idea," Will agreed. He sat up and disentangled
himself from the sheet.
"I'll be out in a minute," she told him as she
went into the bathroom and closed the door.
Will stripped down to his briefs and bundled himself in the
sheet again. It actually wasn't that uncomfortable, he decided.
He had slept in a mummy style sleeping bag at times during
his travels, and the sensation was a similar one. Before covering
his arms, he pulled back the next level of sheet on the bed
so that Rogue would not have to make him move. Turning away
from the door, he started to relax and drift into the beginning
stages of sleep.
After a few minutes, he heard the bathroom door open, and
felt the mattress shift as Rogue settled into the bed. "Comfortable?"
"Good." He felt the pressure of her body against
his as she leaned her head against the back of his neck. She
draped her left arm over his chest, and curled her left leg
around his waist.
Will glanced down at her leg - he did have normal desires,
after all - and was slightly surprised to see that she had
removed her jeans. I suppose it's safe with me covered
up like this, he decided. Besides, even with invulnerable
skin, sleeping in jeans can't be too comfortable.
Rogue shifted a bit, getting into a more comfortable position,
and lifted her hips off the bed for a moment. This brought
her left side into Will's field of vision for about three-quarters
of a second. Will's heart caught in his throat when he realized
that he saw no band of fabric or elastic crossing Rogue's
He found that his throat had suddenly gone dry. "Uh...
"I know what you're going to ask," she said in
a quiet voice. "You're right. I'm not."
"No," she told him firmly, as she felt his body
tense. "Relax." She tightened her embrace, being
careful to keep the pressure at a level firm enough to immobilize
him, but not hurt him. "You love me, and I love you,
and we're going to find something that works for us. You're
weak, and you need to let someone else be the strong one for
a while. You've let me lean on you, so now it's time for you
to lean on me. I won't hurt you, Will, and I won't let anyone
else hurt you. Trust me. Please?"
She felt him slowly relax, and heard his breathing soften.
"Good," she said in an encouraging voice. "Now
sleep, and heal."
After a few minutes, his breathing became deep and regular,
and she realized that he had fallen asleep. She yawned, letting
her own drowsiness overwhelm her, then kissed the back of
Will's head through the sheet.
"See you in dreams, lover," she whispered as she
Continued in Chapter
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