//…// is telepathic speech
The Thing About Kissing
Rogue stood on the roof of the X-Mansion, looking out over the landscape. To the West, the summer sun was already setting, emitting the last rays of its golden glow on the horizon. A light breeze played with her two-coloured hair, caressing her in ways that were usually denied to her. On this evening, she felt unusually content with the world. She took a few steps, and her feet left the edge of the roof. Instead of crashing like other mortals would, she flew up into the evening sky. She danced a dance without gravity, making pirouettes in the air. On moments like these, she actually liked her powers. So many children dreamt of being able to fly. Once upon a time, she did too. And now she could.
She decided to head for the trees, using them as an obstacle course. With great speed she flew through and around widespread branches, avoiding some of them by less than an inch. She lost track of time and only stopped her playful maneuvers when she realised it was getting difficult to see.
The grass below looked tempting still, though. She landed gracefully and sat down beneath one of the trees. She slipped off her gloves, digging her fingers into the sea of green. It felt good to touch something, to feel her fingertips tingle while knowing she wasn't causing damage.
She closed her eyes, breathing in the scent of flowers in bloom. She remained there for a long while, enjoying her unexpected bout of happiness.
When she did open her eyes at last, something caught her attention. Beyond the trees there was a light glow. Too late for the sunset, it was already fully dark. Besides, it was more local. It looked like a campfire. Only thing was, if it was a fire she should have smelled it. Yet not even the slightest hint of smoke was carried on the wind. She lifted up from the ground, regaining the freedom of flight. As she flew closer, she could make out a silhouette. The light was man-made. Quite literally, in fact. Sitting at the base of a tree, the young mutant known as Chamber was surrounded by the psionic energy that was produced by his own body. No bandages restricted his power and it danced around him like a fire, making for an interesting spectacle.
// Enjoying the freak show//, a voice sounded in Rogue's head. She should have known her presence would not go unnoticed. He was a telepath, after all.
"They might have told you this before, sugah, but it's impolite to read people's minds". She said.
// I wasn't reading yer mind. It was blatantly obvious. //
Rogue sighed mentally and approached the boy, sitting down next to him. He clearly wasn't too keen on her doing that, she did not need telepathy to figure that out. But for the one time she actually felt at peace; she would not let him spoil the moment. Reluctantly, Chamber took the headphones out of his ears. Rogue had not noticed them before and only now she could hear the faint tones of rock music for a few seconds, before Chamber switched off his mp3-player.
"Ah think it's rather beautiful, in fact." she finally said.
// You don't have to try to make me feel better. // he stated.
"Wouldn't dream of it."
Much to Rogue's disappointment, the young Brit was already wrapping bandages around what was left of his face and torso, plunging their surroundings into darkness again. Silence, too, was restored and neither of them spoke for the longest time. The strange thing was, they both seemed rather comfortable to sit like this – quiet, motionless, not doing anything in particular.
"Don't you evah like being a mutant? Ah don't mean always, but sometimes?" Rogue finally dared to ask.
// Do you// He bounced the question back at her.
"Sometimes. Today ah do."
Again her words sank into silence. She studied Chamber's eyes in the darkness. He looked pensive, sad even. He pulled up his legs, wrapping his arms around them as if trying to protect himself.
// Doesn't it drive you bonkers, luv//
"What exactly, Jonothon ?"
// Not being able to kiss. Cause I can't bloody bear it. Now I thought it would get better with time, I really did. But it just doesn't. Every day without it I'm just reminded of what I've lost. //
Jono's voice felt like it was breaking up – that is, if telepathic voices could break up. If not, Rogue thought, she was just reading too much into it. But his body language seemed to support her theory.
"At least you can touch. God, Jono, there's so many things you can do. Things ah can only dream about."
// I know. That's why I wonder how you can bear it. //
"Ah take one day at a time."
// And what about love// Again, a tremble in his "voice".
"Ah think love is more than just kissing." She said. "But maybe ah'm not the right person to ask."
Rogue's words died out in the night air. It took a good few minutes until he spoke again.
// It's funny. You sound a bit like her. Yer accent's similar, I mean. //
Chamber nodded in the darkness. Rogue put on one of her gloves again, and reached for his hand. Much to her surprise he not only let her, but squeezed back against her fingers. Perhaps it was possible to give him some comfort, after all.
// You could probably touch me without killing me. I'm just a shell. I don't even have a pulse. //
"Let's not find out the hard way, sugah."
Jonothon Starsmore looked at the sky, and if he was trying to find an answer there. The constellation of Ursa Major was reflected in his eyes.
//Sometimes I just wish I wasn't born at all. Or born normal. Or at least, if I had to be a mutant, to just be born without all these feelings..//
"But then what's the point of fightin'? If there's nothin' to fight for?"
// I don't know. But it just might make things bearable. //
Silence. And then a sob. It was a sob, not just her imagination, she was quite sure. It rang in her head.
No answer came from the black-clad figure, but she could swear she felt him shiver. It was easy to forget he was just a boy really, not even out of his teens yet. The world they lived in, the hatred, their powers – they all made them grow up too soon. She pulled him closer and wrapped her arms around him. She felt the tensing in his muscles, the uneasiness he felt from such proximity. Yet again he did not stop her. He leaned in, allowing her to hold him. He buried what was left of his face against her shoulder.
"It's her loss, you know". Rogue said as she stroked his hair.
// Nah. That's just what people say to make themselves feel better. A gal like her could never love a bloke like me. She deserves much more. It just took her a long time to figger it out. //
Chamber pulled away from her. She could just make out his eyes in the moonlight. They were the saddest eyes she'd ever seen, and that was something. No tears, though – and her breath stopped when she realised he might not be able to cry.
"Sugah…" she started, hoping she sounder confident. "Thing is, we all gotta find ourselves a place in this world. An' feeling sorry for yourself ain't gonna make it any easier."
She put her hand where his cheek once was. "Everyone deserves to be loved. But it ain't even about who we deserve; it's about who we love. And the thing about kissin' – well, it ain't about your lips, or about technique or whateva silly magazines will tell ya. It's about showing people how much you care."
With that, she pressed her own lips on the spot where his lips used to be. His bandages formed a barrier – a safety net that allowed both to share something of a kiss without causing damage to each other.
They broke contact after a long time, only to reinitiate it moments later. Rogue's hands trailed down his back, feeling his contours under the leather jackets. He, in turn, wrapped his arms around her waist. Again they kissed, in their own special way.
Finally they broke away, looking into each other's eyes.
// Rogue, we can't…// he finally started.
She placed her finger on non-existing lips.
"Hush, darlin'. I know. But we'll always have this."
She hugged him once more, sharing genuine affection.
"Love's worth fightin' for, Jono. You're worth fightin' for. Don't you evah forget that."
She broke the hug, smiling at him. She flew up again, leaving before the moment could end, invaded by reality. As she headed back to the mansion, she could see light coming from behind the trees again. Chamber's psionic energy had been set free again and danced in the darkness. Rogue smiled again, even though this time there was no-one to see it.
Today, she was contented with the world indeed.