So Impossible

Part 1 - So Like a Rose

"Anything else, miss?"

Rogue shook her head slightly, bringing the coffee cup to her lips. "No thanks," she said quietly before sipping the newly poured hot liquid. She drank it burning hot and black as night. No milk, no cream, not even a pinch of sugar, though she could arguably stand to be a little sweeter. She was sitting in a corner booth of her favorite hangout - The Dungeon - a bar turned diner located in the basement of a local restaurant. She liked the fact that the diner still had the feel of a bar...dimly lit, with a more serious, adult-like atmosphere than most of the bright cheery teen establishments of Bayville. Granted, most of her fellow classmates weren't able to appreciate the ambiance the same way she did, but that didn't stop them from coming, and coming often. Aside from the excellent, though simple, food, they were fixated on the idea that it had once been a place that served large quantities of alcohol...for some reason this fact fascinated them.

At the moment, The Dungeon had a good-sized crowd in it, but because of her status as a regular, and her friendly relations with the owner, Rogue had managed to snatch a booth with enough room for four, even though she was alone. She had just finished writing in her journal, which was nothing more than a regular notebook where she recorded her thoughts and feelings whenever the spirit moved her. She wrote sporadically, sometimes going weeks without opening it, sometimes writing in it every day. It all depended on her mood, and whether or not she felt particularly alienated, or was working on alienating herself from those around her. In either case, she turned to her journal when she had something to say, but no one to tell. Since joining the X-Men, the need to write had diminished, but wasn't entirely extinguished. There were still things she wasn't comfortable sharing with anyone.

She closed the notebook and distractedly looked around. Nothing special about this crowd...wait.

Rogue quickly averted her eyes from their previous target, pretending that she hadn't noticed Gambit in a dark corner across the busy room. She smiled slightly as she finished her coffee. So he was watching over her. On one hand it was a little creepy that he was semi-stalking her...but on the other, it was sweet that he was keeping an eye on her. From the brief time she'd spent with him in the past, she knew this was just his way of showing that he cared.

Still...he was kinda stalking her. A girl could take that the wrong way.

Not knowing if he realized that she spotted him, Rogue left some money on the table, threw on her coat, grabbed her notebook, and left. Once the door had closed behind her, she ran up the stairs into the alley and hid next to a nearby dumpster. She heard the door close a few seconds after she crouched down, followed by soft footsteps. The steps paused when they reached street level before walking towards the front of the building, where they paused once again.

"Good," Rogue thought with a silent laugh, "he can't find me. Serves him right." She thought back to the previous month, when he had effectively kidnapped and used her, and her mood darkened. "Especially after what he did."

She listened for the footsteps to begin again, and waited several minutes after they had disappeared before she emerged from her hiding place. She made it back to the Institute without incident.

~

"Hey, hand me the torque wrench, will ya?"

Rogue looked up from what she was doing and glanced at the tools scattered around the garage floor. She found the tool in question and placed it in Logan's outstretched hand, sticking out from under the X-SUV. "Here ya go."

"Ya need any help with that?"

She swore she could hear a touch of nervousness in her otherwise fearless mentor. "Ah told you, ah know all about bikes, so quit askin'."

"Ok, ok...but if ya have any questions, let me know."

Rogue smiled at his uncertainty. She knew how much his motorcycle meant to him. When he asked her to help him do some routine maintenance on the X-vehicles, she was more than willing, but had been astonished when he suggested she work on his bike. Touched by the invitation, she realized that it was more than just a request for help, and readily accepted.

She was tempted to talk to him about Gambit...but after several minutes of working in silence, decided against it. She was closer to him than anyone else...she felt like he understood her, and although he never said it, she knew that he felt the same way about her. But Rogue was uncomfortable talking to him about a guy she liked; it was almost as if it went beyond the boundaries of their friendship, even though they had shared more intimate information before. She was afraid he would brush her feelings aside, or worse, not understand. And if he did care, she was positive he wouldn't approve, especially after what happened recently. While she told her other teammates that she had voluntarily accompanied Gambit down to New Orleans in order to help him, and had not had the opportunity to notify them due to the urgency of the matter, she sang a different tune when she had a chance to speak to Logan alone. To him, she confessed the truth, the whole truth, from the time she was grabbed in the alley to the moment he had almost sliced and diced the Cajun. He took it well, all things considering, though she thought she saw a flicker of regret cross his face when she was finished...like he wished he had gotten in at least one good swipe of his claws.

A whiff of brimstone and a soft bamf brought her back to reality.

"Hey Rogue..."

A clatter, a bang, and a groan came from under the SUV, and Logan rolled himself out.

"Elf, ya gotta stop doin' that when I'm workin' on the cars..."

"Sorry, Logan," Kurt apologized before turning to Rogue. "Did you know that you got mail?"

"Me...? You gotta be kiddin' me. Who would send me somethin'?" He handed over an envelope with her name on it. "That's weird, there's no address...you sure this came in the mail?"

"Well," he looked at her sheepishly, "I'm not sure really...it was on your bed."

"What were you doin' in mah room?" she demanded, forgetting about the letter.

He put up his hands. "Don't get upset...I wanted to borrow your history book, but when I knocked, you didn't answer."

"That doesn't mean you have the right to..."

"I know, but I really needed it, and sometimes you don't answer the door if you don't want to be disturbed...I thought I could 'port in and grab the book without bothering you, no harm done."

She sighed. Ever since she found out that he was her foster-brother, Rogue had slowly but surely developed a soft spot for Kurt. What he did wasn't so bad...it was just an annoying invasion of privacy that brothers have been thoughtlessly committing since the dawn of time. "Don't do it again, ok?"

"I won't," he assured her. He waited a few seconds before his curiosity got the better of him. "Well, aren't you going to open it?"

"Oh, yeah," she said, remembering the envelope in her hand. She ripped it open and unfolded the piece of paper.

Sleeping with ghosts
It's such a lonely experience
The stars are out tonight
Only they can hear you breathing¹

Meet me on the hill overlooking town tonight, 8 pm.

Rogue read it over three times...she couldn't believe it. The message wasn't signed, but it didn't take a genius to figure out who it was from.

"Well..." Logan ventured. "What is it?"

She felt her face flush at the question as she stuffed the letter back in its envelope. "Nothing...it's nothing. Nothing important." She quickly turned her back on them and went back to tinkering with his bike, pretending to be engrossed in her work. It was a lame attempt at trying to hide her feelings, but she was so flustered by the unexpected invitation that she couldn't think of anything better.

Logan and Kurt exchanged a surprised glance...neither had ever seen Rogue's face that shade of crimson before. Kurt shrugged and left the garage, leaving Logan to ponder the possibilities alone.

~

She had just finished drying her hair when there was a knock on the door.

"You gonna be in there all night?" Kitty asked impatiently.

"Just a second," Rogue called back, trying to hide her annoyance. It wasn't like she went out all that often and needed the bathroom for hours at a time to primp like some people... "Finished," she announced as she emerged from the steamy bathroom in nothing but a towel.

Kitty pushed past and slammed the door behind her. Rogue ignored her and ran back to her room where she hastily closed the door and began to get dressed. This wasn't a date...not technically. Or, at least, she didn't think it was. Her love life was nonexistent before her powers surfaced, and now that they had, it was practically impossible for her to have an intimate relationship. So as much as she wanted this to be a date, she doubted it was. "Still," she thought to herself, slipping on a pair of black jeans, "he wants me to meet him somewhere relatively remote at night..."

She went over to her dresser and pulled out the top she had previously decided to wear - a dark green sweater that was practically off the shoulder, and ended right at her hips. It showed off her figure nicely without being skin tight. Rogue glanced into the mirror once she put it on. Perfect. She wanted to look nice, but not too nice. After all, she wasn't convinced it was a date. After grabbing a pair of socks and her boots, she made her way back to the dresser, leaned in towards the mirror and carefully applied her makeup. When she was done, she backed up a few steps and studied herself in the mirror. She had opted to wear a strapless bra, rather than her characteristic black tank top beneath the sweater, accentuating the line of her neck and shoulders, and making her look a little more grown up...a little more elegant...

A soft knocking interrupted her thoughts. "Rogue...you in there?"

"Yeah...come on in."

Kurt slipped in, leaving the door ajar behind him. "Look, I just wanted to say how sorry I am that I came in here before...hey, you look good."

Her eyes brightened slightly at the compliment. "Really?"

"Yeah...I mean, you always look good, but now you look great."

"Thanks," she replied, grabbing her rose scented perfume, which she only wore on special occasions, and quickly sprayed it on her wrists and neck.

"You goin' out?" He asked cautiously, sitting on her bed.

"What was your first clue?"

"Rogue, can I borrow your..." Kitty began as she opened the door. "Hey, you goin' out?"

She rolled her eyes at the question. "What do you wanna borrow?"

"Oh...um...I was wondering if you could lend me your collection of Edgar Allen Poe stories...I have to write a paper on..."

Rogue didn't wait for her to finish. She walked over to her bookcase, grabbed the book in question, and handed it over. "Just be careful with it."

Kitty accepted the book, and had intended on leaving, but she had to find out what was going on first. Rogue went back to the mirror and brushed her already neat hair.

"You look fine...stop stalling," Kurt encouraged.

"Yeah, you look fine," Kitty agreed. "Since when do you fuss over your looks? It's not like you have a hot date or something..."

Rogue threw her a dirty look and turned away so she couldn't see her blush. Kitty was puzzled for a moment, she didn't know Rogue was interested in anyone other than maybe Scott, and he was officially off the market. But then, as she watched Rogue give herself one last glance in the mirror, something caught her eye. There, wedged between the glass and the wooden frame lay a Queen of Hearts card.

"Ah gotta go." Rogue grabbed her gloves and shot Kurt a meaningful look. "Just make sure you leave when you're done in here."

Once she was gone, Kitty let out a disapproving sigh. "I can't believe she's going on a date with that guy."

"What guy?" Kurt asked, hoping that Kitty didn't really know what she was talking about...because if she knew, it wasn't long before the whole mansion found out.

She walked up to the mirror and plucked the card from its mount. "This guy, you know, Mr. Everything-I-Touch-Blows-Up."

Kurt grabbed the card from her and carefully returned it to its place. "Oh, like you should talk...how many hours have you spent on the phone talking to Lance?"

"That's different...Lance wouldn't hurt a fly."

"Um, Kitty, I hate to break it to you, but there have been occasions that you've had to phase through massive amounts of rock thanks to Avalanche. If it wasn't for your powers, you'd be flat as a pancake."

"Yeah, but he'd never hurt me on purpose. He's not like the others, you know? Just because he hangs out with that bunch of losers doesn't mean..."

"...doesn't mean he doesn't care about you," Kurt finished. "Maybe it's the same way with this Gambit guy." He thought back to the way the two had looked at each other when they parted in the bayou...there was definitely something going on between them.

"Well, I still don't think it's right," Kitty stated, storming out. Kurt followed her, turning off the lights and closing the door behind him.

~

"Why am I even botherin'?" Gambit asked himself as he finished his preparations. "It's not like this is gonna go anywhere..." Behind him, the sound of an engine approached, and the slight quickening of his pulse gave him all the answer he needed. "Because it takes a special girl to get Remy's heart racin'."

He turned around as Rogue parked her bike next to his under a tree. She took off her helmet, shook out her hair, and expertly swung her leg over the seat. Gambit involuntarily smiled as he approached her, party because it was good to see her, and partly because he recognized the bike.

"Points for brass, cherie. I see you've 'borrowed' Wolverine's property for the night."

An annoyed look crossed her face, and he immediately realized his mistake. "Mah kind of borrowin' involves askin' permission, not like some people's..."

He left the accusation alone, mostly because she was right. "Never occurred to me that Wolverine would let anyone borrow his motorcycle...you know, the bond between a man and his bike is a sacred thing."

This was apparently enough of an explanation for her, because she dropped it. "So, ah'm here, whadda ya want?"

"The girl likes to get right to the point I see," he said, motioning her to follow. "I have prepared, in my unbiased opinion, some of the finest southern home cookin' you'll ever taste."

He lead her to a clearing on the hill, where he had spread a picnic blanket, upon which lay a medium sized black bag, and two unlit long black candlesticks in crystal holders. "What's all this?"

"This," he said, taking a deep breath in anticipation of using a word that he rarely humbled himself to say, "is an apology." She crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow at him. "Look, I'm sorry about last month, I shouldn't have done what I did."

She walked onto the blanket and knelt down, opening the black bag, which was filled with still-warm tupperware containers, plates, napkins, and utensils. "You made me dinner?" she asked, a smile touching the corner of her mouth.

"A gentleman always atones for his mistakes," he replied, sitting across from her and spreading the contents of the bag between them.

"Funny," she thought aloud, "you never struck me as the gentleman-type." He stopped what he was doing and looked at her. "You're more of an 'ah get whatever ah want' kinda guy...a ladies man."

"True enough," he admitted, touching the tips of the candle wicks and charging them. "But even a guy like that can change."

The wicks sprang to life with energetic flames. "Ah hope so," Rogue thought to herself. "So, what's for dinner?"

~

Gambit had made a variety of spicy southern foods, all of which Rogue enjoyed thoroughly. He had even brought along sparkling cider - non alcoholic because Rogue wasn't of age yet and he secretly worried that she'd get in trouble for consuming even a little bit of the bubbly - which they drank out of plastic champagne glasses.

"That was delicious," Rogue said, sipping her cider. "Never would'a pegged you as a guy who knew his way around a kitchen."

"I'm full of surprises," Gambit agreed before becoming serious. "I was raised one of many, trained from an early age to become a master thief...we took turns doin' chores. Learnin' how to cook kept the older members of the guild happy with me. Most of the time, anyway."

She made a face. "That must'a been horrible, livin' like that, a nameless face in a crowd, nobody to love you..."

He shrugged. "Didn' know there was any other way it could be back then, so it wasn't so bad."

"Even though your...father...was the leader of the Thieves Guild, you didn't get any special treatment?"

"You have to earn your place in the guild...even blood relations have to carve out a niche of their own."

"An' ah thought ah had it bad with mah so-called skin condition..."

"Can't choose the hand you're dealt," he said before changing the subject. "You seem to be settlin' in nicely with your new family."

"Ah still don't know if ah really fit in with them, but at least ah know they care about me...an' if ah'm ever in trouble, they'll be there in a heartbeat."

Gambit nodded. "So I've seen."

"You know," Rogue began, treading lightly, "the door is always open to anyone who wants to join. Ah mean, ah wasn't exactly always an ally, and even an out-and-out enemy like Lance almost became an X-Man..."

"It's a nice thought, but I don't..."

"C'mon," she urged, "ah think you'd make a good addition to the team."

"Maybe. Maybe someday. But not yet. I'm finally on my own, I don't need to become another face in the crowd following orders again." He'd actually been considering joining the X-Men for a while now, but wasn't quite ready to do so.

"It's not like that," she argued.

"I know, I know, I didn' mean it the way it sounded."

"Well, if you change your mind, you know who to come to."

Gambit looked up at the stars...the spring sky had moved, it was getting late. And the last thing he wanted to do was get Rogue in trouble for staying out past the curfew he knew she must have. He got up and offered her his hand. "I appreciate the thought, p'tite, an' I won't forget it. But now I think it's about time I got you home."

She was disappointed, but knew he was right. She helped him clean up in silence, and was happy when he offered to follow her back, just to make sure she got home all right. Gambit was as good as his word, and she stopped at the gate to thank him.

"It was nothin'...so is it safe to assume I'm forgiven my sins?"

"Well," she said, pretending to mull it over as she removed her helmet. "Ah guess so...at least for the whole Louisiana mess. In the future, if you want mah help, ask. As for your other sins, ah'll have to deal with them one at a time whenever it is you decide to share them."

Rogue was half-kidding, but she didn't know how close to the truth she was. "I'll just have to do a whole lotta cookin' then."

"Ah'm always in the mood for somethin' spicy, you tell me the time an' the place an' I'll be there."

"Well, then, I guess this is good night."

"No, wait," she said, suddenly remembering the question that had been secretly tormenting her since reading his note. "Why 'So Like a Rose'?"

"What?"

"Your note...you quoted the song 'So Like a Rose'...what's that about?"

He gave her one of his trademark charismatic grins. "Can't figure it out yourself?"

Rogue peered at him curiously from behind the lock of hair that inevitably fell directly in her line of vision. There were a million reasons why he could've chosen that song...because he's been doing his homework, so he knew she liked Garbage, because that verse was so wonderfully dark that he knew she'd like it, because he knew that's how she felt sometimes...but she didn't share any of these thoughts with him, because she somehow knew that while all of these factors played a part in his choice, the main reason was a mystery to her.

He moved as if to stroke her cheek, but stopped himself just before his fingers touched her face. "Didn't anyone ever tell you that you resemble a rose, Rogue?"

Just hearing him say her name sent an electric current through her body. "No," she whispered with effort. He didn't say anything more, and the few seconds of silence allowed her to collect herself and revert to her typical response to people trying to get close to her - defensiveness. "Me an' roses ain't got nothin' in common, so stop tryin' to charm me with your romantic crap."

Gambit, who didn't have a patient bone in his body, at least, not when it came to people, smiled at her response, and calmly went on to explain his logic. "Sure you do...you both look pretty," he leaned forward and inhaled, "you both smell pretty, and you both have ways of keepin' people from touchin' you. Roses got thorns, you have your powers...and your attitude, so no one can get close to you, physically or otherwise."

She never thought of it that way before...he did have a point. And it was kinda romantic. And it took some thought on his part. "Ah guess."

"Think about it, an' we'll discuss it another time. But for now, it's time for you to get inside before you get in trouble, or worse, they send Wolverine out to sic me again."

"Honey, you don't know the half of it," she laughed.

Now that she was in a better mood again, it was time to use that old fashioned Cajun allure to flirt a little. "You know, this is the part where I'd kiss you good night..."

Rogue blushed, thankful for the minimal light. "But ah guess you can't, huh?"

"Oh I don't know," he teased, "maybe it's worth it."

Rather than being annoyed, Rogue was amused. She decided to accept the challenge and throw it back in his face. "Oh yeah, well no one's stoppin' you, Cajun," she mocked, leaning forward so he could feel her hot breath on his face.

He froze, gazing into her glittering green eyes with a mix of wonder and fear. She smiled and backed away, triumphant, but disappointed. "Thanks for dinner...it was fun. 'Night, Gambit."

After punching the code on the keypad and opening the gate, she got back on her bike and put her helmet on - no way was she getting in trouble for not wearing the blasted thing for the short drive to the garage.

"Hey Rogue," he called after her, and she turned around expectantly. "Call me Remy."

~

It wasn't that late, but most of the lights were out in the mansion, and the halls were empty. Not only did they have a curfew at the Institute, they had a "lights out" - which wasn't so much a bedtime as it was a time they had to be in their rooms by. In theory, lights out was supposed to encourage them to go to sleep, but they still had video games, CD players, and mountains of homework that sometimes kept them from getting to bed until much later. Still, as long as you didn't disturb anyone else's rest, you could pretty much stay up as late as you wanted.

Rogue had made curfew by a good ten minutes, and lights out by over an hour, so she was a little confused by the darkness of the entrance hall. She shrugged it off, assuming that everyone else was in, and they had forgotten that she'd gone out tonight. After all, no one really hung out here, so there'd be no reason to keep the lights on at night except for someone coming in. She was mistaken, however, in thinking that her teammates had forgotten her, it was quite the opposite, in fact, but so few of them knew about her nocturnal activity tonight, that one of her uninformed peers turned the lights off to conserve electricity.

She went to the kitchen to grab an apple on the way to her room, and found Logan sitting at the table, reading a newspaper. Unbeknownst to her, Logan had picked up the paper in an attempt to distract himself while he anxiously awaited her return. He suspected the note was from Gambit when he saw Rogue's reaction to it, and this suspicion was confirmed when she asked to borrow his bike for the evening. It was a difficult thing for him to do, but he leant her his pride and joy because he trusted her...and because he knew how embarrassing it would be for her to meet him driving Scott's flashy convertible, or Jean's fashionable SUV.

"So, did you have a good time?" he asked without taking his face out of the paper.

"Yeah...it was nice."

There were no apples left, so she took an orange instead. Rogue once again considered telling Logan about Gambit, and once again decided against it. There was no way he'd be interested in her stupid little crush.

In a way, she was right. Logan didn't like kids when he was a kid...or, at least, he didn't think he did. His mind was so messed up he could only remember so far back, and that certainly didn't involve his childhood. And even though he enjoyed working with the X-Men and new recruits, they drove him crazy sometimes with their emotional outbursts that ran anywhere from fits of excessive silliness to eruptions of teen angst. But the others were more outgoing and popular than the rogue, who was introverted, somewhat insecure, and secretive. She needed someone to confide in, and he knew that he had become one of the few people in her life that she felt she could trust. "You know," he began as she was leaving, "I'm always here for you, kid. If you ever want to talk about anythin', you can come to me."

"Even if it's stupid an' insignificant?"

Logan folded the top of the newspaper down, peering at her. "Even if it's about a boy."

"Really?"

"Absolutely."

"So...you tellin' me you wanna hear about mah night?"

"If you're in the mood to share."

Rogue's face shone with excitement as she sat across him and began telling him about her night down to the smallest detail. Logan watched in wonder as his moody wallflower opened up and became a fully bloomed beauty. He wasn't a big fan of Gambit, but he marveled at the change he brought out in Rogue.

By the time she'd finished, he had decided that maybe there was hope for the Cajun after all, though he didn't say so to Rogue. Listening hadn't been the torture he had anticipated, and it really seemed to mean a lot to her, so he was glad he offered to lend his ear.

After saying good night to Logan, she replayed the events of the night in her head as she ascended the stairs, and realized something...

It had been a date after all.

 

1 - Excerpt from So Like a Rose, by Garbage

 

Part 2