Christmas Gift

BY : Wyzeguy
Category: X-Men - Animated Series (all) > AU - Alternate Universe
Dragon prints: 2282
Disclaimer: All X-Men: Evolution characters herein are owned by Marvel Characters, Inc. I am making no money off of this; I'm simply exploring a possibility that exists in my head between two of my favorite characters. Please don't sue.

Title: Christmas Gift (1/3)
Author: Wyzeguy
Universe: X-Men Evolution
Pairing: Scott/Rogue
Summary: Following the events of "On Angel's Wings", Scott and Rogue find themselves getting even closer.
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Language; Concentual sex between teenagers (but not minors, since Scott was 18 during the flashback sequence while Rogue was 17, which is legal in the state of New York).
Disclaimer: All characters herein are owned by Marvel Characters, Inc. I am making no money off of this; I'm simply exploring a possibility that exists in my head between two of my favorite characters. Please don't sue.

CHRISTMAS GIFT, Part One
Wyzeguy



JUNE, 2008
Flames exploded in every direction, before coalescing into the shape of a bird. A terrible, angry bird of prey ... a Phoenix.

The shockwave from the explosion sent the X-Men flying in every directon. Colossus, Beast, Shadowcat, Storm, Iceman, X23, and more ... all were propelled away from the flames by bone-crunching telekinetic force.

"Stay away from me!" the woman at the center of the Phoenix shouted, rage twisting her voice into something unrecognizable. But to all involved, the horror was that the figure could be easily recognized. She was Jean Grey -- glowing eyes, fiery red hair, black-and-gold X-uniform, and all.

Scott Summers leaned against a brick wall, trying to regain his breath. The wall was one of the few left standing in the mansion that was the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning; he tried not to think about that. He was Cyclops, the leader of the X-Men, and his team needed him to lead them ... against one of their own.

Against the woman he loved.

Standing on shaky legs, he swept his gaze around to his scattered teammates. No one looked to be in any shape to stand up, at least for the moment. Some of them were durable to the point of near-invulnerability, and a couple had advanced healing factors, but they'd still need time to recover.

Finally, he looked up and saw Rogue flying toward the scene. She hadn't been present when everything had gone to hell, but the explosion was probably difficult to miss. "What the hell's goin' on?" she asked as she approached, her long coat billowing in the wind. "Is that Jean?"

"No time to explain," Cyclops shouted, his voice hard and devoid of any of the conflicting emotions he felt. "Just take her down." He opened up the lens of his visor and projected a powerful concussive beam at Jean.

It wasn't powerful enough. She simply absorbed it into her fiery aura, and he felt her telekinesis dragging him toward her.

"Let go of him," Rogue demanded, swooping in and swinging a fist at Jean with all of her acquired superstrength.

Jean held out a hand to stop Rogue's fist in midair, then gestured to send Rogue face-first into the ground.

"The two of you together," Jean seethed, her eyes glowing brighter and brighter. "It's always the two of you together, even after all these years! Coming between us ... undermining what we had!"

Cyclops tried to ask what she was talking about, but her telekinetic grip on him made even the act of talking difficult. Plus, she'd clearly been driven over the edge by current events, so reasoning with her was looking like less and less of an option.

"I can't stand it anymore," Jean continued with her rant, applying more psionic pressure to Rogue to keep her from standing up. "I'm going to see exactly what you two have been hiding from me!"

Scott's eyes widened as he felt a mental pull of a different kind; chaotic memories flooded to the surface, and it actually felt to him as if Jean were searching through his mind like one would root through a wastebasket for one hidden document.

The deeper she delved, the more painful the feeling became, and Scott screamed. He couldn't help it. Even worse, he could hear Rogue screaming as well.

"I knew it," Jean declared, sounding as if she were ready to rip off their heads the old-fashioned way. "You thought you could hide this from me forever! You waited until I was away; that's when your little affair began!"

CHRISTMAS DAY, 2001
"Glad that's over," the young woman known as Rogue muttered, as she reclined in Scott's lap. They'd spent the day on a mission to track down the mysterious "Angel" who'd been sighted throughout New York; that combined with a brief battle with their nemesis Magneto left them exhausted. Their short time spent at the hospital after their encounter with the Master of Magnetism had done very little to help this. It probably had something to do with the fact that neither of them liked spending time in hospitals, much less on Christmas.

The night hadn't been a total wash, however: they'd spent time together, confirmed the existence of a mutant good samaritan, and even shopped. Finally, with their X-Men business taken care of, the two exhausted teenagers sat in the back seat of one of Charles Xavier's chauffer-driven Bentleys.

Scott smiled as he glanced out the windows and found that they'd arrived at the front gates. "Always the cynic," he replied. "We just witnessed a Christmas miracle not too long ago. We found out my guardian angel was real."

He didn't have to see her face to know she had raised her eyebrow in disbelief. "Pretty sure he wasn't your guardian angel," she pointed out. "He was *a* guardian angel, maybe, but not yours. He was just some mutant; I doubt he even knows who your brother is."

"Just trying to be optimistic," he replied with a shrug.

She nuzzled his lap and looked up at him. "Well, here's hopin' you find your angel one o' these days."

He stared back at her, at a loss for words.

The chauffeur turned around to glance back at them. "You want me to drop you off at the garage or on the front stoop?"

"I'm fine right where I am," a drowsy Rogue answered, looking as if she were ready to fall asleep on the spot.

Scott didn't think that was a good idea, since she was all but draped over him. "Er, no, you can drop us off here, and we can walk the rest of the way to the mansion."

That caused Rogue to sit up. "It's cold out there."

"It'll wake you up a little. Come on."

After a few minutes of further urging, Scott and Rogue exited the Bentley and started walking, leaving the driver to wonder which of them was more stubborn.

Rogue hugged her jacket closer to herself and huddled against Scott for warmth as they walked. "You SURE it wouldn'ta been a better idea t'let 'im drop us off in the garage. It's gotta be warmer in there."

Scott tried to keep his teeth from chattering. "It seemed like a good idea at the time."

She raised an eyebrow, studying him in profile. A devious smile crept onto her face. "Yeah, right. You were just afraid I'd feel the boner you got from me sittin' almost in your lap like that."

He abruptly stopped walking and stared at her slack-jawed. "Rogue!"

"Oh, c'mon, you think you can hide somethin' like that from me? But walkin' it off IS a good idea."

Scott frowned, turning away from her and walking straight ahead. "Think whatever you like. But the fact remains that walking a short distance in the cold isn't going to kill either one of us." But as much as he didn't want to admit it, she was right: he had been aroused by her proximity in the car. He wasn't sure he wanted to think of her that way, but he couldn't help it. And now that she pointed out, he couldn't think of anything else.

He heard Rogue's hurried footsteps behind him, as she tried to catch up. "Scott Summers! Will you wait up? What're you, mad at me or somethin'?"

He kept walking, staring straight ahead. "It wasn't the most appropriate comment to make."

"Since when have you ever known me to be appropriate?"

"You're right. I should know better by now."

She caught up with him, clearly angry. "Hold on, now it sounds like you should be apologizin' to me!"

He stopped, then turning to face her. "For ...?"

"For that ... that remark you just made! Sounded like some kinda backhanded comment. Just 'cause I'm not a proper lady, you think I'm not good enough for you?"

"Huh?"

"Sorry I'm not all popular an' perfect like Jean Grey, but that don't give you the right to act like I'm some kinda tramp!"

"What does Jean have to do with--?"

Her hands clenched into fists as she grabbed his jacket to pull him closer. They stood eye to eye. "I oughtta knock your glasses off for that!"

"Rogue. Calm down. I didn't mean anything by it, okay?"

"No? Then what did you...?" Realizing how close they were, Rogue let go and looked away. "Never mind. Forget it. Just leave me alone."

Scott watched as she stormed off in the direction of the boathouse near the lake. "What was that all about....?"

It took several minutes -- almost an eternity -- but Scott finally managed to convince himself to follow Rogue to the boathouse. He could hear her sobs even from outside, and he very carefully knocked on the door.

"Go away," was her predictable answer.

"Are you okay?"

"What the hell do you think?"

"Can I come in?"

Her next response was much quieter, and Scott almost missed it. "Haven't you done enough?"

"C'mon, Rogue, it's freezing out here."

"GOOD!"

"I ... guess I deserved that."

"No shit?"

Scott paused. "Tell you what. I'm gonna go jump in the lake as an encore. If you want, you can come watch."

The door opened, and Rogue poked her head out. Her face was smeared with wet mascara, and her eyes were red from crying.

"I knew you couldn't resist," Scott commented with a smile.

"Do I get to dunk ya?" she asked. "It'll give me some serious braggin' rights around here."

"For being the one to dunk the X-Men's socially-retarded deputy leader in Breakstone Lake?"

Rogue's eyes shone in the moonlight. "For bein' the one to see Scott Summers in a wet t-shirt."

Scott couldn't help but laugh at that. He enjoyed her morbid sense of humor more than he typically let on. "Listen, Rogue ... I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings."

"What do you know about my feelings?"

"You think I don't care about you? Remember all that earlier talk about angels, and how I used to think they were watching over my brother?"

She seemed to ponder it. "Yeah, there was all that stuff about God ... which doesn't make much difference to an atheist. So?"

He sighed, his breath escaping in a cloud of steam. "So ... do you know how rare it is that I tell anyone about that?"

Rogue tilted her head to the side, clearly skeptical. "I bet you've told Jean."

"No." Scott hung his head at the admission. "I've never told Jean that."

Rogue blinked. "You haven't ... so ... Jean doesn't know?"

He shook his head. "I haven't even told Alex that, because he might think I'm an even bigger dork than he already does."

"Why haven't you told her? I mean, you two talk about everything, right?"

Scott looked up at her, and any other time he'd have been mildly amused by her one-track mind concerning his relationship with Jean. "We talk about less than you might think."

Sighing, Rogue stepped backward into the boathouse doorway and tugged his sleeve. "C'mon in, Scott. You're gonna freeze to death out there."

"Does that mean I can't jump in the lake?"

"Maybe later."

A year prior, the boathouse overlooking Breakstone Lake wouldn't have been nearly as much of a relief from the outside cold as it was now. But that was before the current semester had brought an influx of new students to the mansion. They had taken over almost all of the available guest rooms, and as a result the boathouse had been renovated to serve as additional guest quarters. The building that had once served merely as a storehouse for boats was now almost indistinguishable from the interior of the mansion. If anything, it was easier to heat, and it wasn't in as much constant danger of being wrecked by rough-housing mutant teenagers.

Still, between Sam Guthrie's flight power and the various fire-based mutants in the student body, there had been some close calls.

Scott warmed up inside the boathouse, glad for that reason that none of those students were currently on the grounds. Leaving his jacket on, he took off his gloves and warmed them in the heat of the fireplace.

"Likin' the fire?" Rogue asked, reclining on the rug next to him. She'd warmed up enough to remove her jacket, and was now in her light-colored wool sweater and jeans. "Why not take off the jacket, an' stay awhile?"

"I'm fine like this," he replied, though he did feel the need to unzip his jacket more. He was wearing a turtleneck sweater underneath as well, though it wasn't as bulky as hers.

"Yeah, right. You're gonna burn up in that thing before too long."

He smirked. "You just want to watch me take off my clothes."

Her voice came out in a purr. "Never said I didn't."

Scott decided to stare straight ahead at the fire. Suddenly he wished there were other students around. Maybe then her attention wouldn't be so relentlessly focused on him.

She sat up and placed a gloved hand on his shoulder. "Oh, c'mon, Summers, don't clam up on me now. It's just a little harmless flirtin'."

He raised an eyebrow, turning to her. "'Harmless'? You could knock me unconscious by touching me, and I could kill you just by looking at you without these glasses. 'Harmless' isn't a word I'd use."

She gave a dismissive wave and reclined once again. "Yeah, yeah, I know. You prefer safe people, like Taryn ... or Jean."

His gaze turned into an unkind glare.

"Try to deny it all you want, but we both know that's the reason you're interested in either one of 'em to begin with."

"Rogue." His voice carried an unsubtle warning.

"Fine, fine. You want me to drop it, I will. But first y'gotta prove me wrong."

He continued to glare at her. "That would defeat the purpose of wanting you to drop the subject."

She couldn't help but grin at that. "See? That's what I like about you: you're always thinkin'."

Almost against his will, he felt himself relaxing. He had a hard time staying mad at her, especially when she opened up this much around him. The two of them had talked more in the hours they'd spent in New York than in the rest of the time he'd known her. He was pretty sure she didn't talk to anyone that much.

Then again, neither did he, to anyone but Jean. And even then, there were some things he kept from her. Like angels....

He shed his jacket and lied down on the carpet next to Rogue. They stayed that way in companionable silence for a long while, and somewhere along the way Rogue curled up to him with her head resting on her chest. This felt familiar, like the way they'd reclined in the Bentley as they'd been driven back to the mansion.

Finally, Scott ended the silence with a soft mutter. "You're wrong."

"Now what?"

"About Taryn and Jean. It's not that they're safe."

"Then ... what?"

"It's that if I get too close to them, one slip of my glasses ... or my visor, and--"

"'Zap'."

"Well ... yeah. Like what happens if you're not careful keeping your skin covered."

"So it's about protectin' them from you," Rogue replied, her voice rising in challenge. "It ain't remotely about protecting you from them, huh?"

He rose to the challenge. "Why would it be?"

She sat up, her gaze drilling into him. "I've absorbed your memories, Summers. Not all of 'em, and some of 'em are real faint, but they're in my head. They sneak up on me once in a while. You're not the privileged fuckin' preppy you want people t'think you are. I know better."

He sat up, meeting her face-to-face. "Oh really?"

"If Mystique got to you before Xavier did? I bet you anything you'd've been in the Brotherhood instead of the X-Men. You had that kinda past."

Furious, Scott stood up and walked away from her. "I appreciate the invasion of privacy."

"I can't control my power, remember? Your privacy invades my privacy! Think I like gettin' blindsided by the bad shit people have tucked away in their memories?"

Scott's jaw clenched. He picked up his jacket. "You certainly think highly of my memories."

"I think as much of 'em as you do. And that ain't much. All that pain, neglect, gettin' fucked over by the system...." She took a breath. "I'm not pissed at you. I'm pissed on your behalf."

Scott turned back to her, confused. "Come again?"

"I got a lot of people's memories swimmin' around in my head, Scott. Most of 'em I just wanna shut out before I go completely nuts. But you know what's crazy? Yours are worse than most, and I don't wanna shut 'em out. I wanna see more."

He kept staring at her, curious about her sudden pause. "You do...?"

"It ... it angers me that you had to go through all that as a kid, but that's part of you. It made you who you are, and I--"

She cut herself off, as if she were forcing herself not to voice what she was thinking. "Forget it," she muttered.

"Rogue...?"

She turned around and walked toward the fireplace, holding herself and trembling as though she were freezing.

He stepped toward her. "Rogue."

"You're the only one I want in my head, all right?" She whipped around as she shouted this, and the sheer force of her declaration made Scott stop in his tracks.

That wasn't the only thing that made him stop. He dropped the jacket in his hand. "Uh, Rogue...?"

She was near tears. "What more do you want from me? I tell you this about myself, knowin' nothin's gonna come out of it 'cause I can't touch an' you're too hung up on Jean, an' you can't even say anything back?"

Scott wasn't looking at her. "Rogue, seriously...." He pointed to her left, directing her attention to five metal pokers that had risen from their spot near the fireplace. They were hovering in midair next to Rogue, pointing straight at him.

Her eyes widened. The metal rods fell to the floor with a loud clatter, but Rogue held out a hand and willing them to levitate once more. "How the ... how the hell am I...?"

Scott ventured a guess. "Magneto's power. I guess a trace of it was left behind."

Realization dawned on her as she studied the pokers, making them dance in midair. "That explains the weird glow I was gettin' in my peripheral vision. I was wonderin' what that was." She turned to Scott, excitement mounting at her discovery. "It's the electromagnetic spectrum. Magneto can see it. So can I now, I guess."

He scratched his head. "You couldn't when you were using Magneto's power in the city?"

"I could, I think, but it was stronger then. More overpowerin'. Now it's so faint I didn't know it was still there." She attempted to bend the pokers with the magnetism. It took a bit of concentration, but she managed to curl them into spirals and straighten them out again.

Scott watched, fascinated. "Cool. What else can you do, fly?"

Gently setting down the pokers, Rogue floated a few feet above the carpeted floor.

Scott applauded.

Watching him, Rogue pursed her lips in thought, then floated toward him. She took off her left glove.

"...Huh? What're you...?"

She stopped hovering, and reached out to touch his face.

Scott jerked back in self-defense as her bare fingers brushed his skin. He gripped his sunglasses to keep them in place.

Nothing happened.

"Rogue...? Your power -- I didn't feel it absorb me."

"It didn't." A smile crept onto her face. "It didn't! It worked!" She wrapped her arms around a very confused Scott Summers and hugged him.

"I'm going to guess: magnetic field." He had to admit, this was a good use for it.

Then she kissed him hard on the lips.

The sensation was electric, and Scott kissed back, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her closer. She peeled off her other glove, then touched his face with both hands as her tongue parted his lips.

A bulge formed in Scott's pants and pressed against her.

Rogue moaned as her tongue explored his mouth, and he felt her back him against a wall. The next thing he knew, she had rucked up his sweater and shirt around his underarms. "Want it off," she urged.

Scott helped her take them off, taking care not to knock his glasses askew in the process. This left him bare-chested, and as he tossed his sweater and long-sleeved shirt to the side, Rogue kissed his neck and collarbone before quickly shedding her own top layers. This left her in a lacy black bra.

Entranced, Scott watched as she took a step back from him and turned around, offering him a view of her bra-strap. Taking the hint, he unclasped it, then slid the shoulder straps down her arms until she was free of it completely. As she tossed the garment aside, her cupped her breasts from behind and kissed her neck where it met her shoulder.

Enjoying what his hands and lips were doing to her, she leaned against Scott even more. In the process, her shapely ass rubbed against his erection through their respective pants. She started grinding against him, earning a groan from Scott.

He kissed her on the lips again when she turned her head to the side, but then she surprised him by prying herself free from his grasp and facing him directly. She started frenching him deeply, but she didn't stop there. She started kissing a trail from his chin down to his collarbone and kept going. Her hands massaged his hard abs and the dusting of hair that became progressively denser the further down she went.

Scott gulped as she kissed her way down his stomach. Her nimble fingers found the button and zipper on his pants. "A-are you sure?"

Rogue unfastened the button, and pulled the zipper down to reveal the thin fabric of his boxers. "I'm sure. I want this so bad, Scott."

He was silently glad she chose not to comment on his X-decorated boxers; she simply reached inside them. His eyes closed when her fingers gripped his hard shaft and freed it from its confines.

"Mmmm ... look at this," Rogue whispered in reverent tones as she ran her hands along his length. "All long an' hard ... do I turn you on this much?"

He nodded. He couldn't tear his gaze from her. He'd never seen so much of her pale skin before, and he was hypnotized by the way it contrasted with the dark colors of her hair, lips, and lust-darkened eyes.

She buried her face in his tangled nest of pubic hair and breathed deeply, closing her eyes. "Smells so good...."

Scott dimly recalled something he'd learned in biology class about pheromones. But then Rogue nuzzled his cock and glided it across the contours of her face, and he lost almost all coherent thought.

There she was, using touch to explore his manhood the way a blind person might, and Scott was about to spill his seed right there. Still, watching her gave him an idea. "Ghh ... lay on your back," he urged her.

Rogue had opened her mouth and was about to guide his cock into it when he said that. She blinked at him, her eyes questioning. "But I was gonna ... y'know...."

"I ... I know. But trust me."

Curious, she laid down on the rug, looking up at him. Scott slid off his pants, boxers, and shoes, but when Rogue started to do the same he stopped her. "Not yet."

She whimpered.

Carefully, he straddled her torso, cupping her breasts with both hands. Beneath him, Rogue practically purred like a cat and arched her back, pushing her breasts upward against his palms. He then slid his manhood between her breasts, squeezing her soft globes together around it. Her breasts were just large enough for the activity.

Rogue gasped, apparently realizing what he was doing. "Ohhh ... that's it, Scott ... fuck my tits...." She placed her hands atop his to guide him.

Precum formed at the tip of his cock, and Scott closed his eyes as he rode her chest for several minutes -- almost an eternity. "Rogue ... I'm about to...."

Hearing this, she let go of his hands and rolled them over so that he was on his back. Meeting his gaze, she gripped his shaft once again and slid her tongue from its base to its tip.

Then she dipped her head to engulf it, and Scott nearly lost his mind. Her wet, warm mouth felt incredible. He closed his eyes as he felt her tongue slide along the underside of his shaft. "Rogue...."

"Hmmmm...?" she asked coyly, vibrating his shaft.

Scott sucked in a breath. "K ... keep that up and I'm gonna come...."

She made a chuckling sound around him. Then her fingernails lightly raked his balls.

He squirmed as she teased him, running through Danger Room scenarios in his head to keep his composure. He realized he could no longer feel her hands, and he heard the sound of a zipper being pulled and the shuffling of fabric. Most likely she was getting rid of the rest of her clothes.

She continued to suck on his manhood, vibrating it with her moans, but Scott became aware of another, softer sound in the background. It sounded wet and rhythmic, as if....

As if she were touching herself as she used her mouth on him.

That did it. His eyes were still closed, but the mental image of that alone was enough to dissolve the last of his restraint. He let out a strangled grunt, and his cock spasmed, filling her mouth. He gripped his glasses to ensure they stayed on.

He slowly opened his eyes and watched as Rogue pulled away from him, her eyes watching him. A thin thread of semen extended from the tip of his cock to her lips. She swallowed her mouthful, and her face scrunched up. "Ugh ... no offense, but the taste ain't all it's cracked up to be, hon."

Scott blinked. "Sorry?"

She chuckled, wiping the residue from her mouth. "Not your fault. I'll just be sure not to swallow next time."

"Next time?"

"Shhh." She placed a finger on his lips. "Let's not ruin this with what may or may not happen after. Let's just enjoy what we have right n--"

He felt a sudden jolt, as if she'd dragged her feet across carpet and zapped him. But rather than the sting of electricity shooting outward from her, it felt as if that momentary touch had pulled something from him.

His eyes widened. Her power. Shit. He heard Rogue saying something to him, and she looked increasingly panicked, but he couldn't hear her. His eyelids felt heavy and he drifted off....

"...got to wake up, Scott. I don't know what I'm going do if you don't." He focused on Rogue's voice as he woke up and opened his eyes. She was sitting in front of him with her crossed arms resting on her knees. "Please, give me some kind of sign...."

He spoke; his voice came out in a dry creak, "you already have my glasses; what more do you want?"

Indeed, she was wearing the same pair of ruby-quartz glasses he'd worn before he passed out. He was pleased to note that the shades didn't look that bad on Rogue's face.

On the other hand, he noted with a swell of disappointment that she was fully dressed again.

For his own part, Scott realized he was wearing the battle visor that was typically a part of his X-Men uniform ... but the only other thing he had on was his boxers. "Guess this means Magneto's power wore off. Exactly how long was I out?"

She shrugged, somewhat shyly. "A minute or two, I guess."

"And ... that was enough time for you to get dressed...."

She shot him a dirty look. "Well, what do you expect? You passed out, then I felt your eye beams charging up, so I had to shut my eyes. From there I had to feel around to put my gloves on just so I could use your glasses. Once I had them on," she continued, "I got dressed to minimize the skin contact."

He touched his visor, making the connections. "And you found my visor in my jacket pocket."

"I -- I mean you put it there after the fight with Magneto in case he came back or we ran into any more trouble." She tapped her forehead with a gloved finger. "It's right there in my memory."

He smiled. "So you put them on me so I couldn't blast a hole in the wall. You figured that I was still the bigger risk because you'd only absorbed a fraction of my energy."

"And I kept you in boxers 'cause it'd be too much trouble to get all the rest of your clothes on you." She paused for effect, then allowed a seductive tone into her words. "And because I like you better that way."

He sat up and studied her in amusement. "Sounds like some tactical thinking to me."

She blushed, feeling the keen eye of his scrutiny even through his eyes were covered. "Yeah, well ... what do you expect? I absorbed it from you."

He grinned. "As evidenced by the lack of Southern drawl. Your accent's gone."

Rogue looked away, even more embarrased. She hid her face in her folded arms. "It is not. I still have an accent, just not the right one. And yours isn't any better than mine, I'll have you know."

He chuckled and started putting on his own clothes. He stood up to slide his pants up onto his hips. He was no longer remotely erect; it was hard to believe he'd received oral sex mere minutes before. "I never said my accent's better than yours. I like your accent."

She glanced up at him, and judging by the flicker of the tiny pinlights behind her shades, she was blinking at him in disbelief. "You do?"

"Of course I do. I like the way it sounds." He zipped and fastened his pants, then looped his buckle back into place. "Or at least ... I like the way it sounds when you say it." He glanced at Rogue, fearing she'd find that admission to be impossibly corny.

She picked up his shirt, then stood up and sauntered up to him. "You do, huh? Well that's good ... because it'll be back."

He let out an uncharacteristic snicker.

Offended, Rogue whipped his shirt at him. "What? What was that for?"

"Sorry ... sorry! It's just...." He slipped the long-sleeved shirt on. "That sex-kitten voice of yours works so much better with the drawl."

She stuck her tongue out at him. "Asshole."

"Brutally honest," he corrected her, then put on his jacket. "We have that in common. Now come on; we have an appointment with the Danger Room."

Her brows knit in an expression that combined confusion and utter horror. "Late at night on Christmas Day? Why the hell would we do a thing like that?"

He smiled. "You have to get rid of the optic blasts, don't you? I promise, it'll be fun."

Skeptical, she let him lead her out of the boat house and into the cold snow outside. "Couldn't this wait until morning?"

He didn't say a word. He continued walking toward the mansion, keeping a secret his other reason for wanting to use the Danger Room.

TO BE CONTINUED


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