Warning: Spoilers for X3.
Her first encounter with John Allerdyce is nothing like her first encounter with Bobby Drake. Bobby is the kind of boy from storybooks, fairytales and the like--fair haired and gallant. He enters her life like the white knight he is.
She first sees John while he's setting fire to the lawn.
He was writing his name out with fire, scorching the grass and leaving it burnt in the ground, a "was here" etched in ash beneath it. She remembers him laughing, and barely sparing her a glance. There was something dangerous about him, as there always was in people with passion left unchecked.
She only falls in love with one of them at first sight, and it isn't the one it's supposed to be.
She loves Bobby later, slower; it's gradual and a hell of a lot safer. She's fairly certain no one could be the focus of his attention without falling in love with him, except maybe John; but John is an exception to a lot of things, and a complication she doesn't need.
She's on the outside enough already that she doesn't want to add to it by associating with the black sheep of the school, but she learns fairly early on that John and Bobby are a package deal. No one without the other.
There are a lot of stories about those two, and how they met, more than there are about her meeting anyone. There are lots of talks of fights with fire and ice, but Rogue knows what really happened because Bobby told her and he never lies. They sat next to each other in class, bonded over the pointlessness of the latest assignment, and haven't left each other's side since.
It was all very calm and civil, and Bobby would only realize later that he was the first person John had talked to in his three months at the school.
The fights didn't come until later, and there was always more fire than ice.
Rogue isn't deluded. She knows John never noticed her until Bobby did. Competition was building between them even then, and so when John started smiling at her and flirting, she wasn't fooled. He just wanted to best Bobby at whatever he could, and she had decided to be over him within five minutes of meeting him.
Only it isn't that easy, of course, because nothing with John ever is, and he can be charming when he wants.
He's never afraid to touch her. None of the hesitancy she always catches lurking in Bobby's eyes can ever be found in John's. He throws his arm over her shoulders, grabs her gloved hand, ushers her through the halls and makes her late for class.
There's a recklessness to him that's catching, except maybe for Bobby.
Bobby was an exception to a lot of things, too; but then, they weren't all together by being status quo.
John is the first to kiss her of the two. He waits until Bobby and everyone else is asleep, then he drags her outside to the fountain and dares her to jump in. She does it, if only to see his look of surprise, because she loves not being what he expects, and then she pulls him in after her even though he must be expecting that.
They're both soaking wet and its pitch black and freezing, but John is warm to the touch, and his temperature always seems so much higher than hers. He takes her hands to warm them, and then kisses her without warning.
She's the one that pulls away because he doesn't, even though it's draining him of everything he has. He laughs when she does, pale and out of breath, and still he's only laughing. He tells her it was worth it. It's the most romantic thing she'll ever get out of him, and he forgets it soon after.
But he gives her a piece of himself to keep. She doesn't think of it as stolen for once because John knew what he was doing when he kissed her. He gets out his lighter and places the fire in her hands afterwards, because his power is inside her--she plays with it for almost an hour before it gets hot enough to burn.
And once the flame flickers out, she's cold again, and John is gone.
John tells Bobby what happened the very next day, even though Rogue had meant to take it to the grave. "I kissed your girlfriend at the fountain," he says, just like that.
Rogue freezes, waits for the fallout, but Bobby just kicks him under the table and calls him a jerk. He doesn't believe him, maybe, or maybe he just doesn't care. "Try to have some restraint, will you?" he asks. "She's way too good for you, anyway."
"We can't all be wound as tight as you," John says to him, and then winks at her.
"I can lie with the best of them," he tells her later. "But it's so much easier to tell the truth, because they'll just think I'm lying anyway."
It's a neat concept, and she wonders if it would work for her. Chances are it won't, because she lies to herself anyway, and doesn't trust herself to find the truth in anything. She couldn't blame Bobby for not knowing the difference when she can't find it herself.
"John and I are going to run away together some day," she tells Bobby that night. She doesn't know which one of them she's testing, but Bobby only laughs, and she's fairly certain that's not the reaction she's searching for.
"I hope you send me a postcard," he says.
When Bobby finally kisses her, she mostly remembers it for the cold. She can't get warm again for days.
John walks off the jet and doesn't come back. That's his version of goodbye.
It should have simplified things, losing him, like they had both always known they would. He's always been an obstacle between them, though Rogue was never certain which one of them he was holding back. It couldn't have just been her.
It doesn't go that way, they don't grow closer in conflict. They spend too much time wondering if he's still alive, if Magneto's killed him, if someone else has, to think much about each other. Rogue deals by pretending she never wanted him around anyway, and that she's glad he's gone.
Bobby deals by pulling away from her, and turning to Kitty instead.
They stay together the whole time John tries to tear them apart, and finally start to lose everything they built the very moment he stops. She's sure he'd appreciate the irony, but he's not around to hear about it.
Everything only goes further downhill from there. Losing Jean was only the catalyst, and getting her back turns out to be far worse than burying her ever would have been. Scott and the Professor, too, gone just like that, and there's no bodies to bury there at all. Just headstones standing over empty graves.
"I fought him and won," Bobby tells her, when she wants to know what happened, because she wasn't there.
She's only human now, and Storm has told her she can stay until she finds somewhere else to go; but she didn't tell her she's welcome to stay as long as she likes, because she no longer is.
They think she's a traitor, but they never had her power or that strange absence of power she lived with so long, and they can't understand. The consequences still linger, the pieces of people she loves are still locked in her mind. The cure didn't really fix all that much, but she's burned all of her gloves and touches Bobby's skin with her bare hands and that's something.
Fire is always such a lovely way to signify an end. She learned that from John.
They hear it on a tip, and Bobby knows he shouldn't go. Storm isn't going to bother, she has other things on her mind, like running the school. She'll manage it Rogue is sure, but it won't be easy. Scott was the one that Professor X has been grooming to take over all this time.
Young man, late teens, concussion. That's the tip, all they had, but they know it's him. They had an ear out for leads on him and didn't know what to do now they had one. He could be trouble, Logan says, if he's still around. Another Magneto in the making.
So Bobby says he'll go, and Rogue goes with him. She's not allowed on missions anymore, so it will be good to just get out, and she wouldn't mind seeing him anyway. She knows Bobby has to.
He hasn't been the same since the fight, not since he left John unconscious in the middle of their own Apocalypse. John was the one with the taste for betrayal, but Bobby knew it too, because he'd knocked John down and left him there, and it didn't matter that he'd been left no other choice.
"He's the enemy now," she tells him, and means it as comfort, but Bobby already knows it, that's not the problem. The problem is what he used to be.
They find him on a gurney in the emergency room, looking weirdly young and normal, like some high school student in for a check up. He glances around like he knows he's being watched, pulls on his jacket and sneaks right out the front doors without looking back. Pyro never looks back.
They watch him go and don't follow. There's really nothing much left to say; wars tend to make it hard to find words, especially for those that were on the opposite side.
The X-Men still keep tabs on him when they can, but Pyro drops off the radar along with Mystique and Magneto, like he's been rendered human like them and has just slipped off somewhere into a crowd.
Bobby knows better, and Rogue does too. The phone rings once in the middle of the night, and Rogue is still stashed away in Bobby's room, sharing his bed. The others don't know she's there, probably wouldn't like it if they did, but she can hide easy these days. It's easier to hide in plain sight than it is to hide by covering every sliver of skin.
"You ever think about retirement?"
Bobby wakes up quickly at the voice, and glances at the clock. Rogue hears it too, and scoots in close. She can get as close as she wants.
"John," he says, and it's not exactly relief in his voice, but it's something like it. "Where are you?"
"You aren't supposed to reveal your location to the enemy, Drake," he says. "I learned that back at school."
"You aren't supposed to call them at three in the morning either," Bobby says wryly.
"Sleep deprivation," Pyro says. "All part of my plan to get an edge. Apparently I need one now that you can turn yourself into an ice sculpture. You don't play fair."
"You were trying to kill an innocent child," Bobby snaps.
"I was trying to stop a massacre," John says, "but I won't bother trying to convince you of that. I know when not to waste my breath."
"What do you want?" Bobby asks.
"I already told you. I've got a question," he says. "You ever think of retirement?"
"Every damn day," Bobby says, and Rogue's eyes widen. Bobby has perfect etiquette, for everyone but John.
"Yeah," John says. "Me too." Then he hangs up, and doesn't call again.
At least, not when she's there to hear it.
It doesn't come out of nowhere, because she's maybe known for years, but it still feels unbelievable. She can't even breathe for a moment, while Bobby sits there and stares at her with those huge sad eyes.
"You're kicking me out?" she asks.
He shakes his head. "It's not like that. I'm leaving, Rogue, and I don't know if--"
He doesn't finish the thought, but she knows what he's saying; she can't stay there without him. He's the only ally she has left, but he can't bring himself to say it out loud, even if they both know it's true. "You're leaving," she says. "Where are you going?"
He doesn't look at her. He's already started packing. Thinking back, she knows those labeled boxes have been sitting in the corner of his room for days. "Early retirement," he says softly.
And then she knows where he'll be, knows what else he can't bring himself to speak. If she's honest, she's known it all along.
There was a reason John could betray them completely and Bobby would still care. There was a reason John used to toy with her that had nothing to do with her, because it wasn't about her and never had been.
It had been about Bobby all the time, and John has always been far smarter than he gets credit for.
She doesn't know what happened, and probably never will. John might have called and told Bobby where to find him, or maybe Bobby tracked him down, but she knows somehow that they're together. She thought John would never be forgiven, but she was wrong, because she was the one that wouldn't be forgiven.
The moment Bobby could finally touch her he stopped wanting to. She made herself human just when Bobby accepted he was something else, and they couldn't be together after that. At least, that's what she tells herself. John lies with the truth and she finds truth in lies, and neither of them will ever really be able to tell the difference.
Honesty, however, hurts; because it's possible that Bobby never wanted her the way he wanted him, and that John never wanted her at all.
She doesn't know how they find her, either, but the postcard comes in May. Wish you were here, it says, and it's Bobby's handwriting and signed with his name. It's probably the first time he lies to her, honestly lies, but it's for the best, because it's better than the truth.