Rogue curls up deeper into her covers at the sound of her alarm clock blaring through the morning stillness. Why does she even set that thing on Saturdays?

The alarm kicks up a notch and she has to dig up her pillow and bury her head under it to try to drown out the racket. She doesn't want to emerge from her warm pocket of covers. It's snowing outside (first snow of the season and a predicted ten to twelve inches), her wooden floors—and feet—are bare, and her bedroom feels like an icebox. No way is she climbing out from under the covers to rescue herself from her own misplaced ideas of responsibility last night to put the offending clock out of her reach to make herself get up.

Logan wants to run an early morning Danger Room session (on a Saturday, for crying out loud!), and now Rogue regrets thoroughly agreeing to it.

Pounding on her door.

"Go 'way," she gets the words out, muffled as they are beneath her covers.

"Rogue!" Lorna shouts. "Wake up in there and turn off that d—"

"Just turn off the clock, would you?" Kitty's high voice chimes in. The muted sounds of struggle imply that Lorna had intended to finish her naughty word.

Rogue just buries herself deeper.

The alarm clock finally becomes a high, shrill, unrelenting keen.

"Turn it off!" Jubilee shouts.

Kitty phases through the door and barges through yesterday's clothes dropped lazily on the floor and the desk chair Rogue left in the middle of the room. "I swear, Rogue. It takes five seconds to turn it off." The alarm clock goes silent with a snap.

Rogue breathes a sigh of relief and stretches her legs in sheer bliss before nestling a little further into her blankets.

Kitty sighs. Loudly. Rogue can hear the light tap, tap, tapping of an impatient socked foot and Kitty counting aloud, "One, two, three, four—"

"Count out there." Rogue slips one arm out from the bed to wave it in the general direction of her door.

Kitty huffs.

She grabs the protruding arm and yanks while Rogue shrieks in equal parts surprise and fury. Rogue slides off the bed and lands in a jarring heap of all her covers on the floor. She sputters, spitting out hair and blanket fuzz.

Kitty plants both hands on her hips, sights down at Rogue with narrow eyes and one uplifted brow. "Get up." Then she turns on her heel and phases back out the way she came.

Rogue groans and stares out the window at the bleak, frozen panes. "This is so unfair."

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

The girls gather in the library afterward for their first annual tea party for the X-girls. It's supposed to be a nice pick-me-up after Logan's harsh double sessions for senior team members.

"Ah'm not entahrely sure Ah want to repeat this experience," Rogue says dryly.

But Ororo just smiles at her and sips on her dark English Toffee.

Jubilee snorts in disbelief. "Oh, you'll be here all right. If I have to drag you down here every year."

"That's what locks are for," Rogue points out.

Lorna and Dazzler snicker and Kitty raises that knowing eyebrow.

"Children," Moira chides gently. "Ye know better than that."

"So." Ororo leans forward. "What have I been missing?" Her eyes sparkle and Rogue has to laugh at her headmistress.

"Never took ya for a dealer in gossip, sugah," she says with a smile.

"Pish-posh." Dazzler waves a dismissive hand. "Our lives. Our choice."

"We can talk about whatever we want," Lorna adds with a grin. And heaven help whatever poor soul they actually live with.

"Piotr asked me out," Kitty states triumphantly. Her peppermint tea sloshes wildly in the delicate teacup.

Moira eyes it warily as if wondering whether she was wise to offer the set up for the X-girls less than delicate handling.

Exclamations of surprise and delight follow that piece of news. Jubilee and Ororo jump in to offer ideas for what to dress in on her first outing with the gentle Russian giant. Lorna haughtily disagrees with the color matching schemes while a horrified Moira shoots down Dazzler's suggestions on hemline. Rogue simply sits back, one nail gliding along the edge of her saucer, watching her friends and her comrades (never was friendly with Dazzler). Her thoughts are elsewhere.

Jubilee waves a hand in front of Rogue's face, startling her, while Kitty snaps her fingers by her head.

"What?" Rogue snaps.

"Well," Kitty says. "What do you think?"

Ororo pushes a catalog across the table. It's open to a page of classy evening wear in petite sizes. "We were thinking this outfit."

Lorna points one green manicured nail at their selection. It clashes against the rich royal purple. For a moment, every person at the table is looking at Rogue. She stares at the dress, the shoes, the matching shawl.

"Ah have opera gloves that will go with that," Rogue says softly.

That gets them all going again and Rogue smiles as if she's listening, pleased with her successful distraction.

She's not quite sure what bothers her about it.

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

She never thought for one moment about what Remy and her were doing and whether it was normal or whether she wanted anything different.

He isn't normal. She isn't normal.

Rogue frowns, staring out the window at the snow. She sees a figure sitting on the back steps and pauses long enough to identify him.

She goes to get her coat.

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

She finds him charging the petals off a carnation, one petal at a time, dark eyes intent on the pink flower. A loose bouquet of green leaves and white, yellow, pink, and purple flowers lies beside him on the step wrapped in a matching pink. She's not certain what it means, but his hands have always been restless, charging, shuffling, fiddling, something. Maybe that's all this is.

"Makin' wishes?" she asks lightly.

Remy turns to her, crimson brightening, and flashes her that charming, lopsided smile that always makes her heart stop when he turns it on her. "Chère." It's cold out, but something warms insider her under that smile.

"Swamp Rat." She gives him a wicked grin.

He laughs and catches her hand in one of his, drawing her forward. He brushes a kiss against her knuckles. "Wishes?"

"Mm." Rogue nods.

He gives her a puzzled look but offers her the limp flower with its few remaining bits of former glory.

Rogue kneels down beside him to take it, the cold of damp wood soaking through her jeans. For a second, their fingers meet and his eyes are too warm on hers for this to be any anger at her. She settles down next to him and expertly plucks a petal to blow it away with a soft whisper over the snow.

"The Cure for meh is permanent."

She's heard too many rumors about metal dancing off of skyscrapers, newscasters speculating on the reemergence of Magneto's powers, a missing inmate from the facility that once held Mystique.

She hasn't told anyone besides Hank that sometimes the voices still whisper in her head. She still dreams their dreams. He says it's just the previously absorbed changes to her mental structure, that the Cure has held firm.

Remy's gaze follows the soft pink petal until it lands on the snow. For one more second, she wonders what he's thinking.

She pulls another.

"Ah'll be married in mah mother's weddin' dress."

A piece of normalcy she's always wanted, always dreamed about it, and she's suddenly heartened, remembering that all those dates and plans and dreams that Kitty is having now were never a part of Rogue's own wishes. She had those with Bobby and they never led her where she really wanted to go: back home to the south with her own dream and her own promise of a family.

Back where it's warm.

She smiles softly and laughingly blows away another petal with yet another whispered wish, the culmination of her girlhood desires, "Motherhood." She doesn't look at Remy on that one, nervous at his possible reaction. But recklessly she adds, "More than one child." If she's going to send out her wishes, they're going to be real.

And then she sends a fleeting smile at Remy. His eyes are fixed unswervingly on her, intent and bright and serious. Her numb cheeks warm under his gaze, but she does not look away as she pulls another petal.

"Xavier's dream comes true."

Both of them watch that petal flutter in the faint breeze and flurries. Rogue wonders if the dream will fair any better than that tiny bit of carnation. Always trouble and fighting and never any signs that anybody cares but for the men and women beneath this roof.

No rest for the weary.

She frowns at the two remaining petals and then pulls one off and sends it drifting away.

"Ah get two years behind a white picket fence," she says firmly, displeased with a vision of the future where there is no peace. And why shouldn't she be? She's fought for this, for touch, for something every other person in her world could almost take for granted.

She reaches for the last petal, but Remy's hand suddenly reaches out and stops her. She stares at his hand on hers as the warmth of it seeps through his glove and hers. She looks up and meets his steady gaze again, her breath harsh and steaming in the chilly air.

Remy takes the flower from her fingers, never looking away. His eyes are full of something when he charges off the last petal and says, "Rogue."

They stay that way for a long moment. Finally, she reaches out tentatively, bridging the gap between them to slide her hand over the angle of his jaw, eyes shuttering to feel him better. Something is blooming up inside her and then he's tucking her gently against him and she can hear his heart beating beneath her and she wonders if she can actually hear what he's really saying.

"What's y'r name?" he asks softly.

Rogue catches her breath in surprise. But after a long moment, she releases it. "What's botherin' ya?"

Tit for tat.

He chuckles. It rumbles through her.

"Remy?" The word is soft, a question rather than a prod.

He blows out a sigh. "Jus' missin' home," he says simply. He shrugs one shoulder. "Almos' Christmas."

She wonders if it is as simple as that, but he doesn't give her time to voice the thought, instead gently pushing her away with that lopsided grin on his face. He picks up the forgotten bouquet of flowers. "Didn' mean t' ruin it for y'."

The heady fragrance of the flowers wells up out of the wrapper. She can't help but laugh at her own earlier fears. Of course, it wasn't her. Then she looks at him and replies in all seriousness. "Ya could never ruin it for meh."

Their hands twine together.

Right now, she doesn't want what Kitty has. She doesn't want the evening gown, the giggling girlfriends, or the gentle warnings of the older women. She's happy just the way they are.


"Oui." He tilts his head, questioning.

It takes all the breath she has and more, but she's glad for once that she never told Bobby the whole of it, or even Logan.

"Mah name," she says.

His eyes flash startlement.

"It's Anna Marie."