Disclaimer: Rogue and Bobby are Marvel's, not mine. Yay them.
Continuity: Shortly before X-Men #45, on the roadtrip.
Note: Wrote this a fair while ago - first draft in May '98, according to my notes, though they're never very accurate. I was practising my Rogue (which, obviously, could desperately use the practise... ;-)) Found it today while going through my files, looking for something I actually wanted to work on (didn't find anything. big surprise there). It's not remotely original, it's a bit Remy/Rogue, which is now my all time least favourite thing ever, and the ending sucks in a big way, but I don't think it's quite as bad as I thought then. So I figured I might as well post it. If it's crap, just blame it on my two years ago self, and assume I've grown since. <g>
So now, Bobby, Rogue, and her exciting accent, in:

One Touch
by Poi Lass

Rogue lay flopped on her bed, arms wrapped behind her head. Another day, another hotel room. Another step closer to the place she didn't want to go. Another inch closer to the truth. Go there or don't go there.


That was where the answers were. She could up and go look for them, any time. She would too, she knew it. Couldn't keep away from it, a sore on her soul she kept scraping up against, a scab she couldn't keep from itching.

Not mah soul. Remy's.

But it was in her now, and she needed to take a closer look at it, one of these days. And the eyes she needed to see it were in Seattle. Go there or don't go there.

Flip a coin. Take a risk.

You a gambler, ain't ya?

No. Not today. Not yet.

Ah'm on a road trip, that's all. Ah'm lookin' to find mah self, not Remy's. If there's even much of a difference these days...

Too wound to sleep, she slipped out of her room, into the hall, and tried Bobby's door. It would be locked, of course ... except that it wasn't.

A slight smile lit on her lips at that; you'd expect a superhero to be a bit more paranoid, but Bobby never had been. Never would be, and she'd bet on that. Someone who'd seen the kind of things he had oughta be less trusting...

Or mebbe he jus' forgot, neh?

She opened the door quietly, caught sight of a dark figure hovering in the room -- and her heart stopped a moment before she realised it was her own reflection in the wardrobe mirror.

Ah hate mirrors, she thought churlishly, though it was a new hate, barely a week old. Born early one morning in another cheap hotel, as she'd stared at her reflection in admiration. Beautiful hair. Beautiful eyes. Pert nose, pouting lips. Wonderful body ... that no one would ever touch ... and she'd punched the mirror in sudden rage, despising the mockery it made of her beauty.

It shattered over her fist and feet, pieces of glass tinkling to the floor.

What a pretty sound, she thought distantly. Well, Ah guess a mirror's gotta be good for somethin'.

"Rogue?" Bobby's anxious face had peered around the door, looking at the broken glass in surprised worry. "Are you okay?" and she'd turned on him, suddenly hating him, too, for his endless concern and his unconditional friendship and his ability to touch, touch...

"Ah'm invulnerable." She spat the words at him. "Of course Ah'm okay. Why don't ya use your brain and your eyes for once, insteada jus' your mouth?" And then, Damn it, why's he have to look at me like that, like some kicked puppy? He knows Ah didn't mean it.

"Look, will ya just get me a brush or somethin' to clean this up?"

He blinked at her stupidly, and she suppressed another irritated outburst while he re-focused his attention on the glass. He shrugged -- and she found that annoyed her too, just because.

"No need," he said, "I've got it." He iced over the fragments of glass carefully, and pulled the whole lot into one big snowball, which he dumped in the metal wastepaper bin. Then he pulled the ice back out of the bin, leaving only the glass behind. "There." He looked at his work in satisfaction. "But I don't do floors or windows, okay? So you'd better not break any of them."

"Fine," she replied sourly. "Thanks. Ah won't." She threw herself grumpily on the bed, trying to avoid his suddenly serious gaze.

"Rogue -- can I ask you something?"

A heartfelt sigh. "Ah guess."

"Promise you won't get mad?"

A derisive snort. "Ah'll do no such thing. Ah know the sorta questions you like to ask Mister Drake."

His most innocent face, and: "No, it's nothing like that. Geez, you've got such a dirty mind. Tsk tsk." He shook his head disapprovingly and she laughed despite herself. "Okay, here goes then." He sat back on his heels, apparently steeling himself for her reaction. "How come you've never tried to control your powers?"

It was the last question she'd expected, and her temper snapped back on line, right on cue. "What the hell are ya taking about? All Ah've ever done is try to control them. Ah can't." She flounced to her feet furiously, thinking, Drake, window, free trip to the stratosphere. But he waved his hands placatingly as he fell back on his butt.

"That's not what I meant! I mean -- artificially, y'know? I dunno, a modified collar or something. Or inhibitor drugs. Or," he was warming up to his subject in a big way, wasn't he, "you could've asked Hank or Forge to try and find a way to block just your absorbing powers and leave you the rest. Or something. But you never did. And I'm just wondering -- why."

"Ah didn't want to control them artificially. It wouldn't be safe for one thing. And I'm never wearing one a those collars--"

"I just suggested that as a--"

A finger waved dangerously close to his eyes: "Ah don't want to mess around with drugs or mechanical devices or whatever. Ah want to control them on my own. Can ya understand that Bobby, or is the idea of self-control completely beyond you?"

"Fair enough. I just asked. And y'know, you did promise not to get mad." He gave her the puppy dog eyes again, forcing her into a reluctant smile.

"Ah did not." She sighed, the smile fading. "Ah guess ah can understand why you'd think it was easier to control them some artificial way, but it just ain't enough for me. Ah joined the X-men in the first place so ah could learn how to control them myself, even though mama offered to find me some other way. Only -- somewhere along the way, ah guess ah gave up on that, cos I just never seemed to get any closer." She sighed gustily again, but instead of offering sympathy, Bobby just looked at her thoughtfully.

"So ... if you've given up on trying to control them naturally, why don't you try controlling them artificially?"

"Why don't you shut the hell up?" God damn him.

"Sorry." He backed off, way off, but wasn't it just too late for him to be makin' nice? "Just trying to help--"

"Well don't! Ah don't need your help, Bobby Drake. Ah only let ya come with me cos ah figured you could use some time away yourself, not so ya could spent the whole time gettin' on mah nerves!"

"Rogue, would you just--"

And she could stop there, and let him speak, but contempt was so much easier, "Ya can't even control your own powers properly, what the hell do ya think gives ya the right to tell me what t'do with mine?"Aand she knew she'd gone too far as soon as the angry words broke from her lips.

There were things they didn't talk about, it was understood. Bobby wouldn't ask about Remy's memories, she wouldn't mention anything to do with the 'E' word, even if she did know for a fact that whatever Emma 'Bitch Queen' Frost had done to him still gave him screaming nightmares. The subject was out of bounds, in a big way -- and now she'd used it as a weapon, to win an argument he'd hardly even been taking part in.

The shocked hurt in his eyes made her feel a bitch.

That's cos you're being a bitch.

"Bobby--" How many apologies before he tired of hearing them? "Ah'm sorry. Ah didn't mean it. Ah'm just -- frustrated." And that, she thought, was not even one of her better ones.

"I know Rogue. I understand that you--"

"Ya don't know." And she lashed out again, her anger returning, again, yet again, so much easier to be angry, and something so comforting about it... "You think ya understand? Ya don't have a clue what it's like for me, goin' all my life never being able to touch anyone, not for so much as a second." Full rant mode, clear the decks, "No handshakes, no hugs, no kisses, no wiping anyone's tears away, no-one ever wiping yours. You think ya can know what that's like? You just try it mister, and see how long you last!"

"Okay." And he agreed, calmly, deflating her fury with a word, "I will."


"You're right. I don't know what it's like for you. So I'll try it. And see how long I last."

He lasted three days, and freely admitted it probably would've been less if they hadn't mostly been on the road, away from other people.

The experiment ended when he accidentally brushed the hand of the attendant, handing over the cash at a petrol station.

He hadn't even noticed until she pointed it out.

"I betcha ya woulda noticed if he'd collapsed at your feet," she'd said tartly, and didn't mention that three days was a lot longer than she'd managed when she first got her powers.

"Okay, okay, I admit it. I confess my total inadequacy and incompetence. Your life is suckier than mine. You are a far stronger and more wonderful person than me. Now are you done gloating yet?"

Strong? Was she? She'd thought of herself as strong, once, a long time ago. Thought she was tough. Thought she could handle anything life threw at her. Until she'd kissed the Cajun, and he'd sucked all of her strength right out of her.

It was supposed to be the other way around, wasn't it? She was the one with the power. He was the one in the coma. But here she was, falling apart at the seams, going crazy without knowing why.

Years she'd gone, not touching. Years, and years and years and years and years and years and years and years and years--

Alone. Separate. Isolate. Trapped in her own skin, no exit, no visitors. She'd learnt to cope with it. Accept it. Try not to think about it. A body can get used to just about anything, after all.

And so she'd been just fine with it, she'd managed just fine and dandy, until along came Remy LeBeau to rub her nose in it, to wave love in her face, to bring it up, over and over and over again -- We can't touch, you can't touch. Can't touch, won't touch. Just one touch, oh, just one touch, please...

You manipulative bastard, Remy. Why couldn't ya just leave me alone?

And she wondered, not for the first time, if this desperate need for contact, this sudden, pathetic inability to manage on her own, as she had always done before, was really hers.

Maybe she could blame it on Remy.

Why not?

No. Coward. It's you what's gotta deal with it, don't help none to go throwing the blame on someone else. Even if it does belong there ... But if ya can't cope anymore, well -- ya could once. So you'll just have to learn how to again, all over again. You can do it. Ain't no choice, so suck it up and deal.

But she stared at Bobby's sleeping form, longingly.

Just one touch, oh, just one touch, please...

If she could just touch him ... just a little touch, nothing that would hurt him. He was asleep. He'd never know, just sleep a little longer in the morning. Wake up with a hangover from drinking he didn't do.

Was one little touch really so much to ask? A touch of human contact, skin on her skin. Her hand went involuntarily to her own face, rubbed hard against her cheekbone, feeling the slick sweat there. She leaned into her own caress, desperately wishing it was someone else. Anyone at all.


"Whu -- Rogue? What're you doing in here?"

She started as Bobby's sleep-filled voice invaded her fantasy, and then smiled, turning on the southern charm that had, over the years, become second nature to her.

Dere ain't not'ing I can't charm m' way out of...

"Ah -- Ah'm hot. It's terrible hot in mah room. Woo, even with your powers, Ah just don't know how ya can stand it sugah." She dropped impulsively to her knees beside his bed, as he sat up in puzzlement. "Be a sweetie and cool me off some, huh?"

"You woke me up for this? Y'know, there's an ice-machine out in the hall. Or you could do like one of those 'normal' humans you keep saying you want to be, and take a cold shower..." But he held out his icy hand anyway, inches from her face. She felt a breath of coolness, heard a faint crackle, as he dropped the temperature around her body. She shivered slightly and leaned forward a little. Just a little further and she could touch him, taste him, she could...

She glanced up at his face. He hadn't moved his hand away, though her lips were bare millimetres from it now. And he wouldn't, she knew. But his clear blue eyes looked steadily into hers, and she felt suddenly ashamed. She got up and moved away.

"So, you wanna tell me what this is about Rogue?" His voice was calm, there were no accusations in it. There never were.

"Ah toldya, Ah was--"

"Hot. Yeah. And?" She let silence fill the room again, hoping he'd break it himself, change the subject, let it go, he always let it go ... but he didn't. Just let his question hang in the air until she finally answered it.

"Ah wanted to -- touch you," she confessed defiantly.

"You -- you did?" But she missed the strange tone in that, as she continued, suddenly passionate.

"Oh god, to touch anyone! Ah just want it so much, just to -- ah don't know." Passion fled, and shame crept back in its place, status quo, once again, again. "Ah'm sorry," again, "I know ah shouldn'ta even thought of it but - Ah've gone so long, alone, y'know? Sometimes ... sometimes ah just don't think ah can stand it another second more."

"I know," he said softly. She didn't hear him. She never did.

He sat on the edge of the bed and she could feel him watching her anxiously, feel him not knowing what to do.

"Do you really think it would help? To touch -- someone?"

She sighed as she admitted, "No. Not really. For a little while, maybe. For a second. Ah don't know." She moved to leave. "Ah'm sorry ah woke ya Bobby. I was just--"

"Hot?" and his eyes twinkled slightly. Forgiving her, as always. One more time. She smiled her thanks at his understanding, and moved toward the door.

He said, "Rogue, wait--" but he stood too fast, moved too close, stumbled -- and his hand clutched against her arm before either of them had time to stop it. For a split second his wide, horrified eyes met hers and then he was falling and she was backing away and there were thoughts in her head that weren't her own and they were all of--

"Oh. God. Oh God. Ah didn't know. Ah didn't know--" she choked herself off and tried to push the thoughts away. The touch had been so brief she hadn't gotten much,

much too much too much too much

and it wasn't hard to get under control.

But his unconscious body lay at her feet, accusingly.

She wrapped him gently in a sheet, careful not to touch him again, and put him back in his bed. If she was real lucky, if they were both real lucky, he wouldn't even remember it tomorrow. And tomorrow -- tomorrow they'd start heading -- for Seattle? For the truth? Go there or don't go there.

Go. Go. Just go.

And, "Ah'm sorry," she whispered softly. "Ah'm so sorry." Deep in an unnatural sleep, he didn't stir, and tears pricked her eyes again as she slowly closed the door behind her.

He was funny, kind, generous, compassionate. A handsome man. A good person. A wonderful friend. He was there when she needed him. He forgave her everything.

He loved her.

She wished it was enough.


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