The Quiet

She curls up into his arms, into his touch, and allows him to cradle her against him. She's not quite sure what gives her the strength, the weakness, to do it when she's been pushing him away so long.

"Rogue," he whispers, but she cuts him off with the faintest brush across his lips.

She hears him sigh, feels him shift into a more comfortable position, lying next to her on the bed. Eventually, one of them will break the silence between. It's the way of them. Any quiet, tentative peace they find is eventually shattered in the need to speak.

She closes her eyes and presses closer. His grip tightens obligingly.

"I'm sorry," she whispers.

His breath catches and she feels his muscles tense. "Chère?" His voice is soft, almost hesitant.

And she cannot stop the tears from falling down.

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

He slides one hand against her neck and leans her head back so he can look into her eyes. But they are shut and leaking silent tears from beneath the lids.


Her eyes flutter open and he sees the emerald greens, bright with pain, dim with sorrow. "Désolé," she whispers, taking on his native French.

And he cannot help but wonder what she means. So many times they've walked this road, and he told, promised himself he would not walk it again. He takes the first hesitant step.

"Let me come back, chère," he asks, brushing back her hair from falling into her eyes, caressing her gently.

He isn't prepared for the breaking of the dam as all the pain she's been holding in, trying desperately, perhaps vainly, to forego this conversation, unleashes in a torrent of violent sobs. She clutches his shirt and buries her face in his chest. He holds her, allows her to cling to him, as he murmurs soft words against her hair.

Finally, the tears ebb and she leans back and fixes her gaze on the ceiling. Her breath still falls in gasps, but quieter now, until her exhalations are even and he watches the gentle rise and fall of her breasts. A few tentative fingers remain twined with his. He waits for her to speak.

"I hurt you," she says.

He leans back his own head on the pillow, fingering her hand where he touches her, but otherwise avoiding contact now that silence has been breached.

"Oui, you did."

Quiet settles across them and they simply breathe together. This peace, this tentative peace, never lasts long.

He sighs. "I didn't want to leave."

"No," she says calmly. "You didn't."

If anyone could hear the way they dance with words, never saying the truth, never saying the lies, he wonders if they would tell him to just let go. But he can't. He's tried.


He feels her head nestle onto his shoulder, her warmth against his side, and her fingers tightening in his.

"Do you remember Carol?" she asks.

He looks at her then, peering beneath the silken hair falling over her shoulders. Does she honestly think he could forget?

Her hand grows more tentative, almost retreating, but held there as if by the force of her will.

"I had nightmares," she says.

Her voice drops so he can hardly hear her and he finds himself holding in his breath to make the silence soft enough. Her words cover him like the blanket of night as they talk in the darkness.

"Every night, I dreamed it was you instead of Carol. I dreamed I'd touch you while I slept..." She fights to say the words. "And when I woke, you'd be..." She cannot say the words. She presses against him and her hand bites painfully into his flesh.

He does not speak for a long while. He allows her to release the fear and the pain and waits for her grip to ease and the blood flow to return. He waits for the quiet, tentative peace to return between them and the silence to stretch and grow.

She breaks it first.

"I thought if I pushed you away, then it couldn't happen." The words are delivered flatly. Something dead and empty lies on the tongue.

He slides a strand of her hair through his fingers, letting the white glide out like a stream of water. "You still have 'em," he says.

She does not deny it.

"Who was he?" he asks, drawing blood for the first time this night.

Her body tightens and he strokes her back gently, soothingly.

"Just a friend," she says bitterly.

Bitterness makes a hard bedfellow. He knows.

"Friends, hein?" He slides out from under her and props himself up on one arm.

She pulls away warily, tensed for the attack.

"Friends date?" He narrows his eyes at her, feeling the dangerous glow of charge beginning to boil.

She looks away, twisting her fingers in the blanket where his hand used to be. "Friends have sex?"

He hisses inward, drawing in the pain. "You wanted me to wait?" he demands harshly, flinging the words against her.

He feels her flinch, but he cannot see it. She's better at hiding her emotions than she ever was before. He wonders if that's the Carol in her or the bitterness.

She continues to trace her fingers against the fabric of the bed covers, finding it more interesting to look at than him. He wants to force her to look at him, to yank her head up to face him, to hear the words that will allow him to walk away and forget her.

He waits in this silence. It is anything but peaceful.

Finally, she speaks.

"His name is Gus," she says. "He's my training partner and asked if I wanted to get out. I told him plainly that is all it would be." Her green eyes drift upward and he feels the heat of her pointed gaze, the intensity of that emerald fire.

His anger burns yet brighter.

"It's nice sometimes. To forget." Her gaze wanders over him slowly. "The first one was Warren," she continues even though he wishes she would stop. But he started this. He can hardly stop her now. "I'm sure you remember him."

He does.

"Might like to know that he's with Betsy now." Her voice hardens as she speaks. "Neither of us wanted a relationship, just a night out on the town."

The words are almost enough, enough to let him return, enough to let him leave.

She doesn't let it lie though. She adds, "To forget."

Suddenly, he reaches out and closes her mouth with one finger. She watches him warily out of eyes that are dimming before him and end up dull, as if coated with dust.

There is so much to say. Nothing to say. Darkness and moonlight play across her features and he studies her. What can they say?

"I might like to know if you want me back," he says and something in him knows that this is the breaking point, the last time he'll allow himself to walk this road.

She's staring at him as if those are the last words she expected him to say. Her body trembles slightly, though he can tell she tries to hide it. She takes a breath and looks at the ceiling.

"I hurt you," she says, a whisper, a plead.

He sighs and wonders vaguely if he'll regret the night, the dance, the kiss.

"I forgive you."

She closes her eyes and the silence overtakes them.

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

Words burn and ache and wound. She is left reeling from this blow, the ultimate realization of how much better he deserves. Her fingers reach out and find his and she almost cries to feel him clinging back.

"I love you," she whispers, knowing it isn't the words he wants to hear, but that the truth is too much to say. She has always wanted him, never stopped, never really let him go.

He rubs one finger across the back of her hand. "Rogue." Only the tiniest hint of impatience colors his voice, but it is there. She hears it.

Her heart cannot contain the word any longer. She cannot deny the only hope she's ever had, the only love strong enough to survive the fires she's poured upon it.

She leans close to him and breathes him in, breathes herself out against his skin.