Rogue wakes up with the distinct feeling that something is off. She sits up sleepily, rubbing her eyes with one hand, and looks around. She smells roses.

She stops, staring at her second pillow.


A single long-stemmed white rose lies across it with the unmistakable signature of a playing card. The queen of hearts.

Rogue reaches out and fingers the card. It's new, still sticking on her skin from the box. She moves on to the rose, picks it up, and sniffs it appreciatively.

Just then, someone knocks on the door. Kitty peeks her head in quite literally, and Rogue cocks an amused eyebrow at the disembodied expression.

"Logan wants us in the Danger Room in..." The phaser trails off in the middle of rushed words. Her face lights up. "A rose?"

"Yup." Rogue twirls the rose in her fingers, still smelling it.

"That's like so totally awesome!" Kitty announces while launching herself through the door and over to Rogue. She plops down on her stomach on the bed and swings her legs in the air. "From Remy, right? Details, chica. I like so, so gotta know."

Rogue shrugs a little. She doesn't know whether to be flattered or bothered by the fact that he was in her room and saw her sleeping. "What did ya want?" Rogue asks. She slides out of the bed to get dressed.

"Oh, that." Kitty sighs. "Logan wants us in the Danger Room in ten."

"Ten?" Rogue shrieks. "Out. Ah gotta get dressed."

Kitty giggles while Rogue flies around the room and into her uniform. Just once, Rogue glances back at the rose and the card on the bed.

She's inclined to be flattered.

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

Logan runs them hard—even if he never doesn't—and Rogue's first action upon entering the locker room is to lean her tired body against her locker door, inhale deeply of the odors of sweat and metal, and do nothing.

Lorna chuckles as she settles her own self on the bench and drapes a hand towel over her neck. "Tired?"

Rogue makes a small, indecipherable sound in the back of her throat.

Lorna just chuckles again.

"Ooh, I'm gonna feel this for a week," Jubilee complains. "What was with Sentinels and the Brotherhood and rabid mutant haters and rogue law enforcement, huh?"

Rogue manages to shrug and peel herself off the locker to remove her uniform.

Kitty opens the door into the locker room, shuffles inside, closes it behind her, and leans on it. A sure sign she's tired. She didn't phase right through. She lets out a weary sigh. Even Dazzler casts a sympathetic eye her way.

Kitty takes a long deep breath, as if drawing in strength, then explodes, "Like what in the world was with the power suppressors?" she demands, glaring at everyone and no one in particular.

Rogue flips open her locker and reaches for a pair of jeans. "We'll have to deal with them, ya know."

"Not like without any warning." Kitty's eyes flash. "We like didn't even know they existed."

"We still don't," Lorna says.

Rogue pulls on a shirt as Lorna continues.

"Logan had me and Storm help him simulate the effects in the Danger Room in case they do come up with them."

Jubilee groans. "In case?"

"He's raght, ya know." Rogue furrows her brow and pokes at a forgotten library book in her locker. The fines on it will be awful. She grimaces. "We wouldn't have warning."

She pulls the book forward off the locker shelf. An ace of spades falls out with a gilt-edged bookmark onto the locker room floor. She stares blankly.

Interest sparks throughout the room, then Kitty squeals.

"Another one!"

"Another?" Jubilee demands.

Rogue groans and reaches to pick up the card. "It's nothin'." She looks up, sees all the girls staring at her, and flushes. "It isn't."

Somehow, none of them believe her.

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

Rogue is torn between hunting Remy down and demanding what in the world is going on or waiting to see what—if anything—he actually has planned.

She decides on the latter when she finds another playing card by her bathroom sink, a chocolate kiss atop it. It certainly wasn't there when Rogue left for her Danger Room run, and both Remy and his explosive charge were quite evident when she got there.

When could he have pulled this off?

She finishes washing her hands, then picks up the five of hearts and searches it thoroughly for any signs of the unusual or of Remy's sharp scrawl. The card is new, shiny, unmarked, and unworn.


She eats the chocolate kiss.

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

In her teacher book, in her favorite library chair, on her lunch tray, in her back pocket—Rogue keeps finding those exasperating, infuriating, flattering cards—and their attendant gifts. Her girlfriends are starting to give her sidelong looks.

And of course, Remy himself is nowhere to be found.

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

She's getting changed and running her fingers through her drawer of scarves and gloves when they encounter a cool, smooth curve like a rope. She stops and scrabbles for a moment to uncover the item.

A bracelet of twisted golden chains tangles with the jack of diamonds.

Rogue frowns, lifting it higher, then turning it in her palm. She rubs her thumb over emerald letters.


She can feel the flush in her cheeks at the memories of their night on the roof, his mouth, and their kiss. She closes her eyes and her hand so that she can see the way he looked and taste his spicy flavor again and feel the bracelet biting into her skin.

She needs to finish changing. Rogue opens her eyes.

But she slips the trinket on before pulling her favorite pair of gloves over it.

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

"Rogue!" Jubilee calls. "We're going to be late!"

"Ah'm comin'. Keep yahr shirt on." Rogue shakes her head, wondering how they could be late for shopping, and yanks her purse on over one arm as she trots down the stairs to her friends that are waiting at the bottom.

Kitty's bouncing impatiently and Lorna's tapping green manicured nails that match her hair against one forearm.

"Ah'm comin'," Rogue repeats crossly, but her purse catches on the decorative knob on the banister and she has to stop and detach it. "Oh bother!"

Kitty giggles.

Jubilee advises, "Just turn it upside down. It's twisted."

The purse strap is twisted. It takes Rogue a minute to unwind it. In the process, the edge of another playing card slips between the zipper. Rogue stops, takes a look. Her eyes widen at the real silk scarf she finds in the pocket.

She takes a deep breath and turns back to her friends.

The girls look at her strangely when she approaches as if nothing went wrong. "We leavin'?" she asks, arching one eyebrow.

Lorna elbows her and lowers her voice. "Did you get another one?"

"It's nothin'," Rogue says.

Even she doesn't believe herself.

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

Fifty-one cards.

She tries not to ponder what it might mean, even as she's faced with fifty gifts—she'd already eaten the kiss—spread out across her bedspread. Grudgingly, she hands it to Remy. He knows her better than she gave him credit for. The gifts are all things she would have picked out for herself, given the funds and opportunity.

From a soft cashmere sweater that fits her perfectly to a bag of her favorite coffee blend to the original white rose that started it all. She can't help but feel flattered and noticed and--

Rogue makes a strangled, defeated sound in her throat.

"That swamp rat," she mutters.

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

Rogue tosses beneath her sheets that night until she finally gives a rather Logan-like growl before launching out of the bed. She can still see the outline of so many gifts piled on her dresser, and she still doesn't know what to do with them.

Or him.

Fifty-one. She tries not to think about what that means or which card is missing. She doesn't want to think about it. Instead, she decides to take her mind off of it with a late-night glass of milk and to check and see if any of Ororo's cookies are left from lunchtime.

She slips into a robe and pads quietly down the stairs and into the dark kitchen.

The hairs on the back of her neck stand on end and a prickle goes down her spine.

She flicks on the lights.

Remy is leaning against one countertop, shuffling a deck silently with one hand. His eyes are turned downward so she can't see them.

Rogue slowly lets out her breath and crosses the kitchen to open the refrigerator. She pulls out the jug of milk, all the while pretending Remy's presence isn't making her stomach do flip-flops and telling herself it doesn't matter that he hasn't responded to hers at all yet.

She sets the milk on the counter.

Remy's cards suddenly vanish and his eyes come up, burning crimson searing into her. He stares at her—her hair, her face—lingering on her hands.

She's wearing the bracelet.

"Bonjour, chérie." His voice is low, heavy with suggestion and smooth as silk.

Rogue tries to keep her tone light as she opens the milk, tries to ignore the shivers running through her. "Couldn't sleep?" she asks.

The glasses are in the cupboard by his head. She curses in her mind.

She catches the flash of white teeth, but she doesn't turn to see the predatory smile.

"Still up."

Of course, he is. He's wearing his trench coat.

If there is anything Rogue isn't, it's a girl that will make a fool of herself or shy away from a confrontation, and all this small talk isn't cutting it. She forces herself to face him, lifts her chin a little as she does.

His eyes are fixed on hers.

Rogue holds up her wrist and the bracelet she's wearing. "Are ya wooin' me?" she asks with one arched brow and proud when her voice holds steady.

It gains her a reaction. He pushes off the counter, one hand reaching behind him. He closes the gap quickly, and Rogue takes half a step backward. But he is gliding toward her, has reached her, leans forward into her space, and their breath mingles warmly between them.

Remy holds out a long-stemmed red rose and a card. She doesn't have to look to know it is the king of hearts.

"Is it workin'?" he whispers, his voice rolling over her, his scent swirling around them.

She swallows, trying desperately to catch her breath. Her eyes close halfway and she can taste again his flavor, feel the bracelet warm from her own body heat against her wrist. They're so close, any motion would almost be another kiss. Her fingers are meeting his on the stem of the rose. His heady gaze refuses to let hers go.

She breathes, "Yes."