Note: This is not the final version. It's
still in the editing stages.
Woman much missed, how you call
to me, call to me,
Saying that now you are not as you were
When you had changed from the one who was all to me,
But as at first, when our day was fair.
~ from "The Voice"~
by Thomas Hardy
He sat on the small bed of his New York City motel room,
head resting heavily in his hands, trying to convince himself
not to go through with it.
It's been six months already. She's prob'ly gotten on
with her life, like I'm tryin' ta get on with mine.
For all she knows I'm dead.
In a way, I am, I guess.
She killed me.
No, that's not fair.
I killed myself.
M'own fault everything happened de way it did.
But she left me b'hind. Left me t'die.
Seein' de cold hatred in her eyes b'fore she left...a
part of me died in dat cold Antarctic air.
I'm not de same man I was den.
Makes sense dat she'd be a different person now, too.
Different good, or different bad?
Why am I here? Why am I doin' this?
She don' need me. She always made dat perfectly
clear. You'd think dat spell in Antarctica woulda drilled
it inta me.
But no matter what I do, I can' escape her.
I hate her.
But I still love her.
Six months, and I still need t'know how she's doing. What
she's doing. If she's happy. If she's not.
Dey're not just bits o' wistful thinkin'. I can' explain
I need t'see her.
Why go through it all again?
If dey see me, dey'll probably try t'kill me. Who's to
say she won' be right in there wit' dem?
He stood up suddenly, channeling his frustration into a strong
kick to the mattress.
"Pah! Enough o' your complainin', boy." He straightened
up and smoothed out his clothes. "Y'came all dis way
- Might as well get it over with."
Smoothing his hair back with his free hand, he took a deep
puff from his cigarette and walked out to his rental car.
Stretching his arms above his head, Bobby yawned as he entered
the kitchen at 5 a.m. His night had been far from restful,
as he had found himself spending more time tossing restlessly
in bed more than sleeping. He was surprised to see Logan sitting
in front of the television, a half-emptied beer on the counter
in front of him and a barely cooked steak on a plate in his
"Mornin', Drake." Wolverine's eyes remained fixed
on the television screen, watching a Space Ghost Coast to
Coast rerun with an air of mixed contempt and amusement.
"Don't you sleep?" Bobby joked as he reached into
the refrigerator for a carton of orange juice.
Bobby shrugged as the gruffness of his voice and took a gulp
of juice out of the carton.
"You and Rogue have a good time?"
"Yeah..." He tried to keep his voice light, but
a note of frustration crept in.
"Hazards of dating a pregnant woman with a past, Drake.
There's baggage to deal with."
"Yeah...I guess so..." Bobby opened the refrigerator
and tried to cleverly hide the carton of orange juice in the
back so he could have the remainder later.
"You guys doin' anything today?"
"I don't know..." Bobby was struck with a sudden
inspiration flashed, and he moved to dart out of the kitchen.
Hesitating in the doorway, he turned back to look at Logan,
who still apparently glued to the television. "Hey, Logan...?"
"Umm.....You wouldn't happen to know what kind of flowers
Rogue likes, would you?"
"Gumbo always gave her red roses. Try for yellow. Somethin'
"Thanks." Flashing a smile of gratitude, Bobby
ran out of the kitchen toward the front door.
He was back within seconds, arm outstretched to grab his
keys and wallet from the shelf next to the kitchen door. "Money
and keys would help..."
Logan took a swig from his beer and shook his head as he
watched Bobby leave.
Retracing the all-too-familiar route from Salem Center to
the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, Remy LeBeau sat
back in the driver's seat and tried to enjoy the sensation
of the wind whipping through his long hair, trying to distract
himself with anything he could think of - anything but his
It wasn't working.
I remember that bike path...Rogue 'n me used ta...
No. Can' think 'bout dat...
We'd turn into de woods dere, racin' all de way. She'd
always tease me about...
"Dammit!" He pounded his fists against
the steering wheel. This is only makin' things worse. I
shouldn't have come. The car slowed to a stop. I should
turn back right now, b'fore it's too late...
No. He pressed down on the accelerator, and the rental
car jerked back into motion, going faster than before. It's
already too late. Dis day is as inevitable as de Trial was...
Frustrated, Rogue gave up on sleep at about 6 a.m. Deciding
that she had better things to do than toss and turn in bed,
she threw back the bedcovers and got out of bed. Sitting in
front of her vanity mirror, she surveyed her puffy eyes and
dark undereye circles with distaste. She had slept fitfully
through the night, never getting more than an hour's rest
at a time before being awakened by memories of Remy.
There was a time when such dreams would have been a comfort
to her, welcomed and relished. That time had long since passed,
with all that had gone on since the two had parted.
She recalled memories both good and bad. The picnics by the
lake. Belladonna. The constant flirtatious banter that both
thrilled and terrified her. The moonlit joyrides down backroads
in her Miata and on his Harley. The secrets. The kiss. Christmas.
That night. The Trial.
She thought she had been able to forget them, or at least
shove them to the back of her mind at will. And most of the
X-Men had been careful to avoid mentioning him in her presence,
trying not to upset her. Still, references to the missing
Cajun still came up on occasion, and for the most part she
had been able to ignore them, pushing aside all the feelings
and memories that would inevitably bubble up to the surface.
Why, then, had the mention of a mere music group last night
disturbed her so much?
True, she had accepted Remy's absence -- and her role in
the affair -- but that did not mean it did not still bother
her. Perhaps the circumstances of the night before - her first
date in over six months, since Joseph had taken her out for
Christmas - had been the cause of her panic. After that last
date, she and some of the other X-Men had been summoned to
save the Shi'ar from the Phalanx, during which time she and
Remy had reconciled, and after which...
Rogue shook her head and thought back instead to her date
with Bobby. She smiled at the memory. He had been so cute,
trying hard to follow her lead, to make sure she was happy
and comfortable, to listen to what she had to say and laugh
at her jokes. It had all been so...ordinary, and she relished
But she wished that was all that night was, just an experience.
If it was "just an experience," she wouldn't be
feeling the way she did now, genuinely excited about the prospect
of going out with Bobby again yet possessed with an almost
overwhelming feeling of guilt. What about Remy? What about
the baby? What about Bobby?
She still wasn't sure how she felt now about Remy, and she
doubted she would ever really know until the day she might
meet up with him again. And the baby complicated things even
further. She could feel herself beginning to fall for Bobby,
but because she cared for him so much, she knew she shouldn't
pursue any kind of romantic relationship with him.
He deserves better than the trouble Ah'd bring him...He
doesn't need someone like me - Ah'd only end up hurtin' him
in the end...
With a sigh, Rogue pulled her hair into a ponytail and stood
up from the vanity. Changing into a tee-shirt and an old pair
of Joseph's overalls, she was reminded of another man she
had once cared for. Joseph had been sweet, to be sure, but
his constant attentions, while flattering, had begun to wear
thin on her. She didn't like to admit it, but for her Joseph
had served as a rebound attachment from Remy, and a reminder
of Magnus, another unresolved interest.
Stepping out of her room, she resolved to dissuade Bobby
from pursing her - and to keep herself from wanting to be
Ah'm only trouble...
Yawning, Rogue walked into the kitchen. Logan was still there,
watching the morning news.
"Mornin', darlin'," he grunted, eyes fixed on the
television screen as she passed through the doorway.
"Good mornin' yourself."
Logan watched her out of the corner of his eye as she opened
the refrigerator and searched for orange juice. She quickly
found the opened carton hidden in the back of the refrigerator,
behind Sam's marinating liver and onions and some foil-encased
unidentified leftovers that, from the stench they were emitting,
seemed to have been there since the beginning of time, or
somewhere thereabouts. She raised an eyebrow at the juice's
placement, but, deciding her craving for orange juice took
precedence over the protestations of her sense of smell, she
elected to hold her breath and nose as she reached for the
carton. She quickly closed the refrigerator door after retrieving
her prize and, after checking the expiration date, gulped
down the remainder of the orange juice.
"How was last night?" he asked after she had finished.
"A lot of fun..." Rogue avoided his gaze as she
turned to put the empty carton back in its hiding place. "So
how'd you make out in the pool?"
Logan let out a snort. "Just $50. Everybody's still
broke as hell. Remember when Elf and the Russkie were still
here? We'd make as much as $500 sometimes on some of these
wagers. This is nothin'. So Jeannie tell you bout this
"Yeah, but Ah woulda figured on it even without her
tellin' me." Rogue looked back at him and grinned conspiratorially.
"Ya know, if you'd told me and Bobby about it, we coulda
held out 'til the pool was up a bit higher -- provided we
got a cut, too, o'course."
"Riiight." Logan shifted his gaze back to the news.
Rogue moved to leave the kitchen but hesitated in the doorway.
She wanted to tell Logan -- tell someone -- all about the
previous night and her current misgivings, but she didn't
know how to broach the topic now, after Logan had inquired
and she had so quickly changed the subject.
"Ummm....Anyone picked up the Sunday paper yet?"
"Doubt it. It's probably still out in the driveway."
"Okay...Ah'll get it..."
She hesitated for a moment longer and then left to get the
With two dozen yellow roses in the passenger seat, Bobby
sped down Greymalkin Lane toward the mansion, not noticing
as he passed the green Honda that had stopped alongside the
road about a half mile from the entrance to the mansion grounds.
As he pulled up to the front of the mansion, he noticed a
barefoot Rogue stepping outside. Mumbling a curse underneath
his breath, he frantically tried to hide the roses from sight
and wave nonchalantly.
Whether he was successful at his efforts or Rogue was simply
too tired to notice, Bobby did not know, as she smiled wearily
at him and continued down the front walkway to the gates by
the main road, where the paperboy left the newspaper (to the
chagrin of early-morning risers who were not particularly
inclined to hike the quarter mile from the house to the gates).
Still unsure of how to approach Rogue with the flowers, Bobby
decided to just park the car and wait for her to come back.
From his roadside vantage point, Remy could see through the
mansion's fence and gates to the mansion's inner grounds.
Not expecting any of the mansion's residents to be up and
about so early on a Sunday morning, he had left his car parked
on the side of the road. When the red Saturn had come breezing
past, Remy could do little else but hide behind the decorative
shrubbery next to the gates. Even though he did not believe
the driver had noticed him, he cursed at himself for not having
been more careful.
Peering through the iron bars, he saw the Saturn slow considerably
when a figure in blue overalls and a yellow shirt stepped
out of the mansion's front doors. His eyes narrowed and his
fists clenched tight when he recognized the distinctive streak
through the hair of the overall-clad figure. Her head still
turned toward the Saturn, she walked down the sidewalk.
Remy's heart caught in his throat as she approached, and
he found himself staring at her, caught up in a flood of old
memories that engulfed him.
Remy remembered himself as Rogue's head turned toward the
gate -- and where he was standing. With the grace of an experienced
thief, he slunk back into the shrubbery, where he could still
watch his former lover unseen. He breathed a sigh of relief
as she continued down the path, seemingly oblivious to his
He froze in place, breathing in sharply, when she stopped
right in front of him.
Drawing back noiselessly further into the brush, his whole
body tensed up as she bent down to grab the paper and then,
standing upright, paused to browse the stories on the front
page of the New York Times. As she scanned through the articles,
Remy studied her face from behind the shrubbery. She looked
tired, he noted, her hair limp and faint lines of weariness
etched into her forehead and around her eyes. From where he
crouched he could not see the brilliant green of her eyes,
but he did notice that they were puffy and dark, as if from
lack of sleep or crying or both.
She had changed a lot in the past six months,
but the difference was less in appearance and more in how
she carried herself. Just standing to read the paper, she
was slouched, her shoulders slumped over as if carrying a
large weight. Even the simple fact that she was awake this
early struck him as odd -- she had never been what anyone
would call a morning person.
Something else was different as well, something he couldn't
put his finger on just yet. He wondered what had happened
to her since she had left him...
Both almost jumped when Bobby's voice sounded from further
up the sidewalk. "Rogue?" He stood uncomfortably
about ten feet behind Rogue, one hand holding something behind
his back and the other dangling awkwardly at his side.
Remy hadn't identified him at first, but now he recognized
Bobby as the driver of the Saturn that had passed by him earlier.
As Bobby approached Rogue, Remy idly wondered how Bobby had
gotten the money for a car.
"Howdy, stranger," he heard Rogue say in her familiar
Mississippi drawl. "What're you doin' out and about so
early on a Sunday mornin'?"
"Well..um...I had a good time with you last night and
all..." Remy's fists began to tighten reflexively. "...and
I just wanted to give you these." Pulling his hand from
behind his back, he revealed the large bouquet of roses.
Rogue, for her part, had suspected what he had hidden behind
his back, but that made his gift no less pleasing. Despite
her previous resolve, she felt her heart melt at his gesture,
and she impulsively flung her arms around Bobby's neck and
hugged him. Bobby let out a surprised grunt at the force of
her hug, and he smiled as he returned her embrace, careful
not to touch her bare forearms.
Rogue, flowers firmly in hand, was the first to break away
from the embrace, almost embarrassed as she studied and counted
the flowers in the bouquet. "Two dozen! And in yellow,
too -- my favorite! Ah can only guess how much these cost.
Bobby, you really shouldn't have..."
"No...I wanted to, really." He smiled warmly at
her, genuinely excited that she had appreciated the gift.
"Hey, you up for breakfast?"
She looked up at him, her eyes bright. "Any time."
Bobby rested his arm tentatively across her shoulders. She
moved in closer to him in seeming approval of his gesture,
cradling the flowers in her arms. Together, the two walked
slowly and quietly back to the mansion doors.
By the front gates, Remy collapsed to the ground in exhaustion.
The notion that Rogue might have found someone new was certainly
not improbable, but the reality of it took him completely
off guard and stirred up emotions ranging from anger to approval
to resentment to resignation. Sitting on the ground with his
back to the fence, he massaged his temples as he tried to
get a handle on the situation and the hurricane of emotions
blowing through him.
Should he be happy that she had found someone new, someone
that he knew would always be honest and kind to her? Should
he resent the notion -- given what had happened between them,
did she deserve such happiness?
At the same time, the uncharacteristic weariness he saw in
her face worried him, and he wondered what had happened to
her in the last six months to cause such a change in her.
He had seen the fatigue in her face and body as she read
the paper, and then the way her whole self seemed to brighten
up when Bobby had arrived.
And her comment about the flowers, and how yellow was her
favorite, grated on him. She had told him that red roses were
With a sigh, he pulled himself to his feet and sprinted back
to the car. He had seen her; now he wanted to get as far from
Salem and from her as possible.
I never shoulda come back...
As was her habit, Storm had awakened with the sun and took
her morning flight above the mansion grounds that served as
both security check-up and spiritual rejuvenation. From her
vantage point, she had noticed Bobby's gift of flowers to
Rogue and their return to the mansion.
And on her second patrol, she saw the stranger.
It was unusual enough that someone outside the X-Men was
even near the mansion. What caught her attention even further
was that something about the man seemed very familiar to her.
His sprint from the mansion gates to a car parked down the
road, and his subsequent rapid departure, further aroused
her suspicions, and she decided to follow and investigate
this mysterious stranger.
To be continued.
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