So Impossible

Part 8 - The Edge of Night

The next morning, Rogue quickly realized that she needed to escape again. Her reawakened emotions were stronger than anything she had ever experienced...the intensity with which she felt them, and the fact that they swept over her in a jumbled assortment, was almost worse than the horrific numbness she had recently experienced. Her teammates were no help, with their eyes full of silent pity. She wanted no part of their pity, she felt it was beneath her to even acknowledge it, yet she found herself drowning in it. She had to get out of there.

Packing a few things in a bag, she announced in front of several people that she was going out, but would be back sometime that night. God forbid she leave without telling anyone again...who knows what mass hysteria might ensue. Rogue climbed into Jean's SUV, and had just closed the door when she saw motion in the rearview mirror.

"Where y'goin?"

"It's none a' your business."

"Don't be mad at them...they're worried about you."

By then Gambit had walked over to the open driver's side window, and put his hand on the frame. Rogue avoided his gaze...his eyes were the only ones she couldn't bring herself to meet. She didn't know what she'd find when she looked into them, and she didn't want to. "Ah know," she said softly. "It's just...ah need some time. To sort things out."

She saw him nod his head in her peripheral vision. "When you're ready...I'm here."

"Ah know," she repeated, turning the key in the ignition as Gambit stepped back from the car. "Don't follow me," she added before closing the window and driving off.

As Rogue drove through the gates, she had a vague sense of where she was headed. She was going the one place she could think of where she would not be pitied...or even welcome. That's what she needed, someone who would be completely indifferent to her plight, who would leave her alone, if not outright ignore her. She would have preferred somewhere completely isolated, but couldn't think of anywhere secluded, warm, and most importantly, safe. After all, someone had tried to kill her. Going off to some remote location probably wasn't the best idea.

She parked the SUV next to several crates, grabbed her bag, and locked the doors. Rogue circled the building, uncertain of how to best get Pyro's attention without setting him off. She finally decided to press the buzzer next to what appeared to be the main entrance. After almost a minute, the door creaked open to reveal a suspicious looking ex-Acolyte, his right arm out in front of him, ready to fry her at the slightest provocation.

"What have we here?" he asked, lowering his arm ever so slightly.

"Ah...ah need somewhere to go," she stated, stepping over the threshold and pushing past him.

"Wait a minute..." he protested.

"Look, ah don't need a place to stay, ah just need to get away from...from the rest of 'em."

Pyro raised an eyebrow and looked her up and down. "Ya don't say."

She wasn't in the mood to play games, and started to leave. "Never mind."

He closed the door and leaned against it, trapping her. "Now hold on, mate...this is a pretty big place. I don't see why we can't share. Especially if it's just a one time thing."

"It is."

"Let me give you the fifty cent tour."

Pyro lead her through the labyrinthine halls of the mostly empty warehouse, lighting the way with a good-sized flame. He pointed out the bathroom, the kitchen, his bedroom, and the main control room. The tour ended in the living room, which consisted of a small TV on a crate, two mismatched, worn, secondhand couches, an assortment of boxes arranged to form makeshift tables, and an expensive looking sound system that looked out of place in comparison to the rest of the room. "That's about it...the rest of the rooms are empty. You can have your pick a' those."

"Ah like this one."

He shrugged. "Neva use this room myself. Take it."

Rogue threw her backpack on the couch and put her hands on her hips, waiting.


"Ah came here to get away." Pyro tilted his head and eyed her speculatively. "From people."

"Oooooh..." he said, catching her drift. "Gotcha. Good. Well then...I'll just go back ta what I was doin'...make yourself at home. If ya need anythin', let me know."

Once he was gone, Rogue riffled through the contents of her backpack until she found the CD she wanted. She crossed the room and slid the disk into the sound system, turning up the volume until she could no longer hear her thoughts, then returned to the surprisingly comfortable couch and stretched out. As a multitude of emotions flooded through her, she closed her eyes and told herself to relax, that this was all for the best...


In spite of her assurances that this was a one-time thing, Rogue spent the days that followed her initial request in the warehouse. Pyro didn't mind the be honest, he welcomed it. As antisocial as his seemingly psychotic behavior may be, he was more comfortable in the company of others...especially if one of those others was a leader-type. He was a follower, always had been, always would be. He needed someone to tell him what to do. Of course, he had derived a degree of gleeful pleasure in watching Magneto get squashed by Apocalypse, but once the novelty of his defeat had worn off, he found that he didn't know what to do with himself. The master of magnetism gone, John's loyalties had transferred to Gambit...but he had begun to show a definite interest in one of their enemies, and it wasn't long before he had moved out. Colossus was already long gone, and Sabertooth...well, that guy had some serious anger management issues. And so John Allerdyce found himself the sole inhabitant of the warehouse that had once been the home base of one of the strongest mutant terrorist groups in the world. Since then, he had been working freelance...scrounging for jobs that would pay that month's bills. Having a daily visitor was a nice change of pace. If one could call Rogue a visitor. She never sought him out, and never said anything the few times he had run into her in the hall. For his part, he left her alone to do...well...whatever she was doing.

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but after several days, John was overcome by a need to know what Rogue was doing in there all by herself. He started to make a habit of stopping by the living room while she was there, and became a silent witness to her pursuit of relief. He often found her scribbling in one of many notebooks scattered around the floor, though there were times when she simply laid on the couch or floor and stared at the ceiling. His comings and goings were masked by the music she inevitably blasted; he was fascinated by her taste in music, which ranged anywhere from classical to heavy metal.

Late one night he cautiously ventured into the dark room...he was always a little jumpy after she left; the deafening stillness she inevitably left behind made the warehouse feel like a tomb. Lighter in hand, he turned a small flame into a torch as he approached the couch, beyond which lay Rogue's assortment of notebooks and writing utensils. He was about to pick one up when a faint moan broke through the darkness. Stumbling backwards, Pyro lifted his fire wielding hand and saw Rogue curled up on the couch. Bewildered by her presence, he crept up to the sleeping girl, whose dark clothes had merged with the fabric on the couch in the dim light. Standing over her, Pyro studied her tortured face as shadows cast by his flames danced playfully across it.

"What'd they do t'ya?" he asked her quietly, but received no response.

Abandoning his mission, he left the living room and headed for the kitchen. After switching on the light and grabbing one of the few bottles in the fridge, he jumped onto the counter and took a swig of beer. This was getting serious...she'd been coming for a week, maybe longer, and now she was sleeping there. He didn't mind, but who knows what those X-freaks would think. Sure, they'd stayed back when he brought Rogue back, but that was probably because they were afraid that he'd hurt her. If they found out that Rogue was with him now, it could be disastrous. Would they think he kidnapped her? Possession was nine tenths of the law, after all...

And what was the sheila doing there anyway? Something must've happened to her, but what? Finishing off his beer, Pyro decided that there was only one way to find out...ok, so there was more than one way, but he knew that asking Rogue would be useless. He snuck into the living room, grabbed several notebooks, and returned to the kitchen. The first two appeared to be journals, full of stream-of-consciousness confessions, poems, and doodles...flipping through them, Pyro did not achieve the kind of understanding he had hoped fact, skimming her journals made her more enigmatic than before. Putting those aside, he reached for another, and saw that this one was full of sketches...deeply disturbing sketches of a girl on the brink. On the brink of what, he still didn't know. They were done mostly in what looked like black crayon, though more than a few of them also had red in them. She wasn't an artist by any stretch of the imagination, but her amateur drawings evoked strong emotions in the viewer. John didn't even make it through half the book before he closed it, unable to go further. His quest for answers had led him to the abstract confessions of a troubled girl that he couldn't begin to comprehend.

He restored the notebooks to their previous positions before going to his room. Her apparent instability frightened, but at the same time, excited him. There was a sense of danger to allowing her to come there.

That night, he locked his door.


The next morning, upon realizing that she wasn't in her room, Rogue returned to the Institute. After assuring the professor that she was fine, taking a shower, and changing, she drove back to the warehouse. As she entered the living room, she saw that someone, presumably Pyro, had straightened up. Her notebooks were in a neat pile on one box, with her pens, pencils, and crayons lined up next to them, and her CD cases were stacked next to the sound system. She also noticed that a number of blankets and a pillow had been left for her on one of the couches. A flashlight with extra batteries, a box of charcoals, and several sketch pads were lying on another crate. She hadn't expected any kind of hospitality from her fiery host, and appreciated what he had done. But she didn't thank him for the gifts. Instead, she put a CD in the player, opened her new art supplies, and went back to work.

Pyro smiled when he heard the faint sound of music all the way on the other side of the warehouse. He had seen her leave, and rushed around to make the necessary arrangements before she returned. As long as she wanted him to be invisible, he was willing to play the absent landlord...but he wanted to make sure that she didn't forget he was there. Pleased with what he thought was a successful reminder of his presence, he leaned back in his cushioned chair and turned on the big screen TV. So much to watch, so little time...

He had been flipping through the channels aimlessly for a while when a voice spoke up behind him. "I see things haven't changed around here."

"Come for your girlfriend?" Pyro asked without turning around. "It's taken ya long enough."

"She asked me not to follow her."

"So why're ya here now, mate?"

Gambit grabbed a chair from the side of the room, placed it next to his former teammate, and straddled it. " 'Cause she didn' come home last night."

Pyro shrugged. "She went back this mornin'."

"I'm worried about her."

"Ya should be...let me tell ya what she's been doin'..."

"I know," he replied pulling out a deck of cards and shuffling them in his left hand. "I stopped by the living room on the way up."

"Did ya talk ta her?"

Gambit shook his head. "She has to work this out on her own."

"Was she writin' or drawin'?"

"Writing, I was hard to tell."

"The things she's been drawin''s like she's puttin' someone's nightmare on paper." Pyro hesitated, wondering if pressing Gambit for information would result in a confrontation, but he couldn't resist the possibility of getting some insight into her situation. "What happened to her?"

"Has Sabertooth been around?" Gambit asked absently, staring into space.

"Nah...haven't seen him for a few months."


"Ya gonna tell me what's goin' on, or what?"

"I need you to do somethin' for me."

Pyro's patience was wearing thin. "What?"

"Keep an eye on her."

"What the hell is goin' on?"

Gambit stopped shuffling cards and looked him straight in the eye. "Someone tried to kill her, John."

There was a pause. "You're not serious." He waited for the punch line, but one never came. "Who?"

Gambit had not spoken to anyone about that night, except the professor and McCoy, and even then he had kept emotion out of it. But here, sitting with his old teammate in his old base, he suddenly had the urge to tell him everything. He put his head in his hands. "I don' know."

The typically hyper Pyro grew quiet, and waited for Gambit to continue. After thinking it over, the Cajun decided to confide in him. It was unlikely that John had anything to do with the attempt on Rogue's life, especially since there had been no trace of fire at the scene. Besides, he wasn't the type to ambush...he was the kind of guy who'd meet his foes head on, fires blazing. "She was alone at the Institute...when we got back, I couldn't find her of the others happened to wander into the room she was in." He looked up, and Pyro saw echoes of the horror he had felt in his eyes. "There was so much blood...she was literally torn to shreds..."

His voice faded, and Pyro found himself uncharacteristically moved by the confession. He put a hand on Gambit's arm, and encouraged him to go on. "What happened next?"

"I...I picked her up and held her...and I waited for her to die." He closed his eyes against the images that had been scorched into his mind and pulled his arm from Pyro's grasp. He took a deep breath and when he spoke again, his voice was stronger. "And then Logan came and made her absorb him. And that was that."

"No wonder the sheila's actin' the way she is."

Gambit nodded. "An' that's just a taste of what she's dealin' with."

"Ya think good ol' Sabey did it?"

"No...there's no evidence he did."

"But ya wouldn't put it past him."

"Let's just say he's on my list of suspects."

Pyro leaned back in his chair and put his feet on the control panel. "All right, then...I'll keep a closa eye on the security cameras."

"I owe you one," Gambit said, standing.

"Nah," Pyro dismissed him with a wave of his hand, "I spend most a' my time in here's just a matter of lookin' from one screen to anotha."

Gambit left then, knowing that Rogue was in capable hands. If nothing else, Pyro was always on the lookout for something to fry...the possibility of someone coming after his guest increased the chance of his getting to do just that.

Originally, allowing Rogue to stay there had been an act of loneliness, but now Pyro was using her as bait. He giggled in anticipation over what big, bad, soon-to-be barbecued thugs she would attract. Things were starting to get interesting...


Pyro opened his eyes and listened. Nothing. He was a fairly light sleeper, so it wasn't unusual for him to wake up several times during the night. But since his conversation with Gambit that afternoon, he had been especially attentive to the world around him. He waited a few minutes, but the silence that followed assured him that nothing in particular had woken him up. Rolling over, he closed his eyes and was about to drift off to sleep when he heard something again.

He sat up in bed and concentrated...footsteps, soft but distinct, overhead. On the roof. He jumped out of bed and threw on some clothes. There was no time to put on his uniform, so he put on the first things he could get his hands on - a pair of jeans and a sweater - and grabbed his lighter on the way out. The footsteps had stopped, and Pyro made his way up to roof without a sound. As he approached the door at the top of the staircase, he heard another sound, and realized that the intruder was not a threat. He opened the door and found Rogue sitting on the raised edge of the roof, holding her knees to her chest, with her presumably bare feet tucked under her long skirt. She was singing softly into the night, and though she wasn't particularly talented, her voice had a touch of melancholy to it that gave it a special kind of beauty. Touched by the scene, Pyro stepped outside, quietly closing the door behind him. The click of the lock made her aware of his presence, she turned her head towards him and sang one more line before growing silent.

Pyro walked up to her and sat down beside her, dangling his feet over the edge. He flicked his lighter a few times, trying to come up with something to say. Her gaze had returned to the horizon, a pitch black sky littered with hundreds of pin pricks of light. "Sing it again," he requested softly.

Rogue took a deep breath, and began to sing.

"Home is behind
The world ahead,
And there are many
Paths to tread.

Through shadow,
To the edge of night,

Until the stars
Are all alight.

Mist and shadow,
Cloud and shade.
All shall fade..."

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the lighter's flame change shape. As she sang, Pyro illustrated her words with simple images that danced before her eyes. Her voice trailed off, and he held the final form, a rose floating in a sea of darkness, with tiny sparks shimmering around it. Transfixed by the flame, Rogue slowly reached out, her fingers as long and graceful as a ballerina's. As if in a spell, she repeated the last line. "All shall..." Right before she touched the burning flower, Pyro extinguished the flame, and recognition crossed her face. "...fade...¹ "

She wrapped her arm back around her legs and looked out into the night. Pyro didn't know what to do. They sat in silence for a long time before he spoke again. "Do ya want..." he hesitated. He couldn't believe what he was about to say. "Do ya wanna talk about it?"

Rogue moved as if to speak, but eased herself off the edge of the roof instead. She walked to the door, but when her hand touched the knob, she seemed to change her mind. Turning around, she put her hand on her hip. She was wearing black...had been since recovering from "the incident." At the moment, she was in a black turtleneck sweater that ended an inch above her waist, and a long, black, flowing skirt. Her gloves and shoes were missing. Pyro studied her in the dim light...she was a creature of the night - mysterious and solemn, wanting nothing more than to be left alone with her pain. But she unexpectedly found comfort in his silent companionship...she had felt his unseen presence every day she was there. The unspoken understanding between them had grown in to a kind of camaraderie that neither could deny. He would not pressure her to spill out her heart to him, nor would he have any pity for her if she did. For her part, she gave him a purpose, even if it was merely to lie in wait for an ambush.

"There's nothin' to say that hasn't been already said," she told him gravely before going back inside. Even so, as she walked down the stairs, she began to feel lighter, as if his simple offer had been enough to shift her mood. She was almost ready...almost. Tonight would be her last night in the Acolyte's old hideout. Curling up on the couch, Rogue drifted into a dreamless sleep.


She spent the entire next day completing her work. Journal entries were finished and sketchbooks were filled - her hands turned red and black from the charcoals that she feverishly scribbled across page after page. Her artistic frenzy was spent by the time the sun was sinking in the sky, at which point she wandered the halls of the warehouse searching for Pyro. She found him in the control room, watching cartoons.

"Ah have somethin' for you."

Pyro nearly tipped the chair over at the sound of her voice. "Ya shouldn't sneak up on people like that," he complained, righting himself.

"Here." She threw a pile of notebooks and sketchbooks at his feet. One flipped open to reveal sinister red eyes glowing from a black background.

He picked that one up and looked up at her. "What's this?"

Snatching it from his hands, she flung it back to the floor. "Kindling."

"Really...?" he asked, his eyes glazing over in feverish delight.

"Burn it all."

No sooner had the words escaped her lips than flames burst forth and consumed the inner demons Rogue had imprisoned on the pages. In his haste, Pyro incinerated her gracious offering far too quickly, and was disappointed when there was nothing left.

"Ah'm gonna get goin'," Rogue said after he had calmed down a bit.

"Already? But we're just gettin' ta know each otha," he replied, half-joking.

"Ah'm ready to go back."

John understood, she didn't belong here with him. He nodded.

"Ah just wanted to, you know, thank you. For everythin'."

"It was nothin'."

His attention returned to the TV, and Rogue walked away. She had just reached the door when he spoke again. "Listen...ya eva need a place ta stay...the door's always open." She lingered in the doorway, wondering if he expected a response. But he didn't say anything else, so she continued on her previous heading.

Driving back to the Institute, she found that she was looking forward to returning to her normal routine...and having some much-needed talks with some of her fellow X-Men, especially Logan and Remy. There was so much she had to get out of her system before she was ready to sit down and face them, and this short sabbatical, far from prying eyes, had allowed her to work through some of her darker emotions in privacy.

She pulled up to the gate with hope in her heart, and punched in the security code, looking forward to new beginnings...

Access denied.

"What?" she asked aloud, typing in the code again.

Access denied.

They had locked her out. Her friends, her family...she was gone for one night, and they changed the locks to the palace. Did they know where she had been spending her time...? How...? Gambit. He knew. He told them. And they saw it as a betrayal. Hadn't she been through enough by their side to prove that she was loyal?

This was the last straw...her rage grew by the dare they? Unwilling to play the part of the fool yet again, she left the SUV, with the keys still in the ignition, at the gate and proceeded on foot. Her flip-flops echoed in the darkness as she walked the near-deserted streets, wondering why everyone she trusted turned their back on her. Whatever the reason, she refused to be the victim this time. The X-Men didn't want her? No problem. She'd go off on her own and do just fine without them. After all, she had somewhere to go...

By the time she reached the warehouse, it was late. She was much calmer now, still angry, but not to the point of wanting to rip someone's head off. Without permission, she strode into the building, dropped her bag in the living room, slipped off her flip flops, and headed for the control room.

Pyro was dozing in his cushiony chair, his feet up on the control panel.


In an instant he was on his feet, arms extended, ready to envelop her in flames. But realization crossed his face, and he lowered his arms. "'s just you."

"Is that invitation still open?"

He raised an eyebrow, but managed to otherwise suppress his surprise. "Absolutely."

"Ah don't know how long ah'll be here," she said casually as she headed for the door, "ah hope you don't mind..."

"With all this space, I won't even know you're here," he replied, watching her leave. He settled back into his chair and put his hands behind his head. Now things were definitely interesting...


1 - The Edge of Night from The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King


Part 9