Rogue waits for the sun's rays to dance idly across her pillow before she finally slides out of bed after a wakeful night. She brushes past the clothes she wants to wear, the long sleeves, the scarves, the gloves, the boots and pants. Instead, she chooses low-slung jeans, a pretty tank top, a light sweater she can see skin through to ward off the autumn chill.


Her fingers reach up, brush at the ivory strands of hair framing her face, glide down the smooth skin of her cheeks, hesitate.

She feels her jaw harden beneath her fingertips.

Long ago, life dealt her new cards, left her an out-of-control mutant with no family and a new name, only a loner Wolverine to take care of her, with the amoral Brotherhood after her life. She became Rogue.

She drops her hands to her sides and crosses her room to clamber out the window and shimmy up to the roof and her—and Remy's—secret place. It's a struggle to pull herself over the edge, and the shingles are rough as they slide against her shirt and slightly exposed stomach. She crawls forward on her knees and feels at the carved initials A.M.D.

She tries not to cry as some nameless feeling washes over her. She isn't just Rogue anymore. She isn't a savage abnormality to be weeded out from any place she could possibly belong.

She sits up on her knees and stares down at the letters.

It's time to deal anew.

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She backs Logan into a corner, still coming. Her leg swings up to hit him. He deflects her with an upraised arm—just like she expected him to—and misses her hard left.


He goes down and it's a grapple and a tumble and a roll, and then he's pinned beneath her and she's grinning down at him like the little kid in the candy store she feels like.

"Who wins today?" Rogue asks, not above rubbing it in.

"Crazy girl." Logan pushes her off, but gives her the nod of acknowledgement. "You're getting better at those holds."

"Thank ya." She stands, brushing herself off carefully, straightening her leather suit, checking her modesty before dreaming of leaving the room.

Logan is still staring at her.

She pops her head up in his direction. "What?"

"Ro's putting together final teams for missions, you know." He looks at her sideways almost, as if trying to get her to finish the thought for him.

Rogue frowns.

Logan isn't long on patience and he sighs before just saying it. "You're on mine." He stalks off in the direction of the doors as she stares after him.

"Logan," she calls out softly.

He turns.

"Ah'm not a mutant."

Their eyes meet. She's worked hard for this and both of them know it. She put in nights and mornings and every ounce of strength and will she has. She has a lot.

"You're still Rogue."

She lets his words sink in, and a small smile flutters across her lips.

He promised.

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She's still riding on a cloud when she goes to Bobby's room and walks in without knocking. He looks up from his desk.

"Rogue. Hey." Bobby glances around, then pulls over a chair and empties it of a heap of textbooks. "What's up?"

She sits as gracefully as she can, very quiet.

He looks at her, waiting patiently for her to speak.

"We aren't," she says quietly, knowing no way to soften the truth of them.

He intakes sharply. "Rogue..."

But she reaches out and places her fingers against his mouth to hush him. It's the first time they've really met, skin to skin, felt each other's warmth this way.

He stares at her. She can see the growing agitation in his foot, his jaw, his eyes.

"Is this about Remy?" he demands at last.

She drops her hand to her lap. "No," she says. "This is about us, sugah. You and me. We aren't workin'. We haven't been for a long tahme."

The truth settles between them. He lifts a pencil with one hand, eyes fixed on the textbook on his desk, the papers he was grading. When did he get to be so like Scott? He sets his hand back down and looks at her. This time he sees her.

He breathes out a sigh. "We aren't."

Her words are almost comforting, whispered softly. "No."

He nods, accepts.

And all she can think is he never once touched her.

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Rogue has settled in at the kitchen counter, wrapping her legs around the legs of the breakfast stool and carefully slapping her cards face up against the granite.

She draws the first and lays it out. The two of clubs. A winner and a keeper. Her Wolverine.

She smiles softly.

The second card is a spade, the ten. Work, work, work and the X of the X-Men.

She lays it beside the first.

Warm breath washes over the back of her neck, and she shivers, feeling the nearness of a body directly behind hers. His body heat fills the mere centimeters between them and she doesn't move, for fear they'll touch.

"Can Ah help ya, sugah?" she drawls, hoping her voice is steadier than her beating heart.

"Hm." His fingers trail her waist as he moves to settle in beside her on the other stool. They continue to play with the hem of her shirt.

She turns to see him, but he isn't looking at her. He's staring at her cards.

"What are y' doin', chère?" Remy asks.

He's still touching her.

"Drawing." Rogue wonders why he even needs to ask, how he always knows when something's important. "It's nothing." She turns back to her task.

She slides out another card and turns it up beside the others.

The ace of diamonds is suitable to represent the Cure, she decides. And the jack of hearts will do for her freedom from Bobby.

She's about to pick her final card when Remy stops her.

"Y' dropped dis," he says. His hand goes from her waist to his back pocket.

Rogue waits.

He holds out a playing card, slightly singed around the edges.

She sucks in her breath.

The Queen of Hearts.

The Danger Room and the card and the first time she realized that there was something more to the way he touched her, saw her, whispered in her ear comes blazing back into her mind. Her gaze flies up to his.

His red eyes burn on her.

For the longest heart-stopping moment, neither of them say a word.

Finally, with trembling fingers, she reaches out and takes it.