Story Summary: It's the aftertaste that'll kill you.

Canonical Notes: Post X3.

Author's Note: I wrote this mostly because of misgivings that "Noir" was too subtle. I wanted to make it clear what had happened to Rogue. She is now single and the Cure is a thing of the past.
Story Summary: Trust ain't a should. It's a choice.

Canonical Notes: Post X3.

Author's Note: This little two-shot is part of the original inspiration for the story arc. The first lines of each chapter are actually the very first words that popped into my head for all three stories. Please read very, very carefully. This is not a sweet, fluffy story. It's angst.
Story Summary: If you play with fire, you're gonna get burnt.

Canonical Notes: Set between during and between X1 - X3.

Author's Note: This little two-shot hit me upside the muse one night along with its sequels. It's a bit of a prose poem and contains a whole lot more implications than it might look like on the surface.

: : Sheds : :

He never was much for crying. Shedding tears was what men did when there was nothing left and nowhere else to go, when you couldn't go on and the battle was done and the losses were down on the ground for keeps and for good. She would agree with her inner Logan when he reminded her that what flowed through her arteries wasn't water and what kept her heart beating was more than blood.

Rogue refuses to look into blood-colored eyes or the face made of ice when she fights. The Danger Room is her escape. Her faux enemies are nameless, faceless, don't whisper secrets over coffee or break her trust—her heart has been past breaking for far too long—with icy ponds, don't write her name in flames across the sheet of poetry like burnt sunsets, don't smell like anything but blood.

She doesn't cry when she sheds a little. Isn't strong and fiery the way of the Southern belle?

Her skin draws secrets, whispers of thoughts, dark and rich like poison into her own soul, nightmares and dreams, the phantasia of a person's mind. Is it any wonder the blood she sheds leaks memories and desires, things best left forgotten, like the way it feels to love and laugh and spill milk into coffee and hearts into hands and heat into another's burning eyes?

And this time, the blood that stains her gloves is the color of her heart.

: : Spills : :

She never held much with crying. Shedding tears was what weak girls did when they found out their boyfriends cheated, they're fatally ill, they're never gonna marry, they broke up with the best thing they ever had sitting in front of them before it could be inside of them.

Don't cry over spilt milk. Strong and fiery was the way of the Southern belle.

Rogue would think about hot tea in the middle of the night when nightmares would wake her and tumble her down the stairs of the girls dorm and landing forlornly in an empty kitchen, the only one up. She would think about coffee, latte to be specific. Hot milk in scalding drink.

She ends up with milk.

Rogue always liked to wake on hot Mississippi nights and drink her tea, cold and sweet, to rock on the front porch swing with her Mama under her singing softly until she fell asleep once more. Never mind New York summers that feel like winters because there's no one to keep her warm.

She pours herself a glass.

It's the vaunted cure for insomnia and tears. It's something they never gave her, not with ice cold water or flaming mugs or chuckles and spices. She pretends she doesn't see dark eyes that burn and drown her, hear soft lies in Mystique's tongue, or smell that Cajun spice. Pretends not to remember flaming apples of lost innocence and fragile trust cracked and open, raw darkness.

Rogue sways to some forgotten melody sung by a Mama over a girl already too old for trust. These Southern ladies, they take what they're offered, smile, say thank you. They don't say yes; they don't say no.

She swings too wide and white hits the tile. There are no tears when she slowly stoops to clean it up.

Shattered glass, cold nights and hands, warm water, clean air.

And all she sees is liquid white staining her gloves like blood.

: : Noir : :

He always was a coffee black kind of guy, straight up, without pretense, drink the bitter dregs of this world and call it good. She never thought she'd like the flavor of something so open, raw, and dark.

Mystery burned in eyes of darkness. Still a Southern belle, she takes what is offered and pours what he likes best.

How did they come to this?

This is how she takes him: black as sin, black as a thief, a liar, a wanderer in eyes and heart. She takes the way he never denies his guilts, takes that he never denies the way he wants her. They sit at the little coffee shop down the road from the mansion and drink their coffee. His is noir. She learned to pronounce the word for him.

Never tells him she likes good Southern English and front porch swings and hot and sticky Mississippi afternoons because in New York winters you gotta have something to keep you warm and if it's Cajun and spicy and black—noir—you take it because it's what is offered. It keeps you warm.

But she would be the one that brought him here at the end of each test, at the beginning of each time they turned on the news.

There is no cure for what ails her.

Her last date at the same Starbucks, sipping her latte, watching him slide one finger around the edge of his coffee, black, without drinking it or looking at it. She stares at her own gloved hands.

He would be looking at her. Remy always would.

Dark eyes and dark coffee, rich and bitter, warm and real.

Her last impression of coffee is that he never drank.

: : Latte : :

She never was a coffee black kind of girl, never took her bitterness without the sweet, never drank the darkness without the light, not on her first date, not on her last.

Rogue coughs and spews when she first tastes the scalding, dark liquid Remy hands her. She wonders—not briefly—how she let him talk her into a date, any date, even 'just coffee' the way he drawled it out so innocently.

But he chuckles at her reaction, then turns red eyes on hers, intrigued. "Y' ain't ever had coffee?"

She glares in lieu of a blush. The jokes on virginity are something she can forego.

Red irises flare like flames in a dark fireplace against black darkness in his eyes. She never liked the shadows or the dark that burned, would remember liquid shadows in the eyes that drowned her. How she always gets so close to fire, always ends up burnt.

Remy moves smoothly out of his seat, goes up to the Starbucks girl behind the counter, chats her up softly so Rogue can't quite hear but for their laughter setting fire in her belly. It was an endless circle, find a guy and watch them flirt up someone else. Remy returns, slides into his seat across from her, leans forward. He still hasn't sipped his coffee.

"Y'll like dis one," he says.

She raises a brow. "An' whah should Ah trust ya?"

He tilts his head at her, furrows his own brow as if perplexed. "Trust ain't a should, chère. It's a choice."

Are they even talking about coffee?

The barista approaches with a steaming cup. The color is not so dark.

"Try it," he urges, red flaring brighter, like flames.

Rogue sips her drink. It's a latte. She's startled to find she likes it. She tells him so and is startled anew to hear the rich sound of his laugh and how real it sounds and she wants it to.

He still hasn't drunk from his coffee. His eyes are on her mouth.

Her first impression of coffee is that it's hot.

: : Breaks : :

He never was one for hot tea, always liked everything cold as the ice that flooded his veins, never knew that ice was fragile and water on the rocks was only the sign of a relationship that should never be. She took what he offered, always that lady, still dancing with fire, still dancing with ice.

If fire melted ice, then why did they always break?

Rogue used to sit nights down in the kitchen with John, sipping hot tea and melt off the edges where the ice had cracked.

She sees Mystique's eyes in Bobby's when he walks in from the ice, denying there was anyone else out there and that they were doing anything that mattered. He pours himself some water, freezes cubes into the glass. Eyes that lie and ice that cracks.

She always liked her tea cold and sweet on a hot and sticky Mississippi afternoon, rocking on a porch swing, never dreaming of New York winters and ice skating on frozen ponds out on mansion grounds, breathing in the cold condensation of her boyfriend's kiss.

Skin touches skin, and the ice cracks.

"Ya were with Kitty. Ah saw you." Rogue waits for him to admit it, wishes that John would melt away the cracks and help her forget.

Too hot, too cold.

He flushes but does not speak.

She takes her tea, hot, so hot, and dumps in ice just to watch it break.

: : Scalds : :

She never was one for hot tea, let alone the kind that John would hand her in the middle of the night when they both were up with nightmares and he set his fire ablaze around the mug.

"Let me warm it up."

He'd look at her and his dark eyes would be darker than night and darker than the black sea crashing over her when she fell into her dreams and could not wake. Drowning in those fiery, liquid shadows in his eyes.

Rogue would smile, just softly. "Thanks."

She liked her tea cold and sweet on a hot, sticky Mississippi afternoon, sitting on the front porch swing. She liked the way Cody would laugh at her from the doorway while she read aloud from a book on the far side. The distance pleased her. Coy and proper was the way of a Southern belle.

John likes everything hot. She tastes his tea. It scalds her tongue.

She sips it gently, slowly, with long, spicy pauses in between. That's how she takes his fire, his drive, his shadowy eyes that would not let her go. It never stopped with the apple in Eden. He is nothing if not persistent, and he didn't let her go without a fight. Flirt, laugh, be friends. Back away from the fire. Don't wanna get burnt.

It was an endless circle, Bobby and John, whirling around Rogue like hot tea swirling in her cup. She didn't say yes, she didn't say no. A lady always took what was offered.

His dark eyes burn.

She takes another sip and lets it scald.


    FANDOM: X-Men: The Movie

    STORY SUMMARY: These Southern ladies, they take what they're offered, smile, say thank you. They don't say yes. They don't say no.

    DISCLAIMERS: All characters and organizations (with the exception of small, mostly unnamed minor characters) throughout the series are the product of Marvel.

    CANONICAL NOTES: This story arc accepts X1, X2, and X3 as canon. All other sources of canon are ignored or modified as desired.

    LANGUAGE AND ACCENTS: Cajun French is courtesy of Heavenmetal (many thanks). I will attempt to reproduce accents in this story arc.

    (UNBOUND) entries are in drafting phase and are likely to change radically before complete.



    1. The Temperature Of Pain
    1.1 Scalds
    1.2 Breaks
    2. How Do You Take It
    2.1 Latte
    2.2 Noir
    3. What Little Girls Are Made Of
    3.1 Spills
    3.2 Sheds

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