Dedicated to lucyglitter11 and every person who loves Rogue and Lucy together.
He Told Me Later
Autumn is beautiful. Magnolia accents that especially with its beautiful woods strewn with the red-yellow and orange leaves. Everything is brighter and the weather is mild.
And I didn't look at any of that as I stumbled through the soft grass, the leaves crunching under my feet. The twilight left a golden glow over the woods as I made my way to the clearing I called secret, hidden by a circle of trees.
Then, when I found it again, I did what I didn't when Natsu confessed his love for someone else. A second and oh, the magic is gone. No us.
"What do you mean we can't do this anymore? What did I do?"
"You don't understand, Lucy. I fell in love with someone else…it's not…you."
"It's not me," I had repeated. "Really?"
"I just…don't think we were ever meant to be together, Luce. I'm sorry, it's not because of what you think, I know you're sick, and I swear I'll be here for you."
"It doesn't seem that way, Natsu."
"I'm sorry, Luce."
Silent tears streamed down my cheeks as I kneeled down on to the leaves, letting the sunlight streaming in through the gaps between the trees fall on my face. I found comfort here more than I did at home. Generally, nature-person didn't really cover it, but I found peace here for some reason.
And I didn't realize someone was watching me as I cried and wondered what I had done or not done which wasn't good enough until my peripheral vision caught onto the tall figure hidden by the trees.
Fear took over me because I was not aware of anyone ever coming here. This was off the trail and off the main route. He stepped forward as my eyes bore into his hiding place.
He was tall enough to loom over me while I was on the ground. Tousled, glossy black hair fell over his forehead and one eyes and his face was a warm coffee-with-milk colour. He kept his distance and despite his breathtaking appearance which held no interest for me right then, his eyes scared me. They were ruby.
"Don't hurt me," I managed.
His voice was so unnaturally soft, so warm, I momentarily lost my sudden attack of fear. "I won't. I promise."
My tears were still flowing, maybe out of trying to suppress it which only increased it, or out of embarrassment for a stranger to see me like this. I wiped them away, my blonde hair catching in the wind. The golden light dimmed to a soft orange, and the circle of trees glittered.
As I got up to leave, knowing even this safe haven wasn't a secret, the boy moved forward by an inch, his fingers stretching out hesitantly. "Don't go," he pleaded.
"I—who are you?"
His face did not betray any emotions, but his features were…sad, somehow. His eyes spoke his eagerness for him. It confused me even further; he looked like a lost soul seeing hope after so long. And then the newly formed sadness in his eyes made me feel as if that soul knew that the hope was not going to work.
"You can call me Rogue."
"So, Rogue," I didn't know what to say. He had not laughed at me for crying in the middle of the woods nor did he seem like some psycho rapist on the loose. Oddly enough, he had a strange aura about him. Sad, but warm. Distant but welcoming. "I cannot stay here. And I don't know you…"
Or maybe it was his good looks.
I didn't care. Good looks…if I was going to be the naïve little superhero getting moony-eyed over every boy who had the slightest bit of charm to him, then I had myself to blame for Natsu.
"I won't hurt you," he repeated. "Lucy, I swear."
A chill ran down my back and froze me. "How do you know my name?"
Stalker? Rapist? I began to inch backwards.
"Heard someone call you downtown," Rogue said. His voice held no hint of lies. "I have seen you before, so…"
We were still standing across from each other, a golden half-halo of light in between. The leaves were the only sound as I started to walk away again.
"I'll go now, Rogue," I said.
I didn't hear him move, or the leaves crunch, but when I tilted my face back, he was standing closer than I expected him to. "Please don't cry."
He sighed, his dark locks concealing his eyes completely. His slender fingers came back to his side. "I won't force you to stay. Just don't cry."
"I—I won't," I said, surprised. My senses were slowly focusing on nothing but him at the moment, I had almost forgotten why I was here and why I was talking to him.
"Goodbye," he said softly. Then he turned and walked back into the shadows. I watched him with a frown on my lips, as his shoulders hunched. He wore a black T-shirt with sleeves too long for him and a rugged pair of jeans, and his entire form seemed to slump as he disappeared among the trees.
I ran a hand over my head and ran the way to my house. The sun was setting and I didn't want to stay here any longer. The meeting was brief, but I repeated it several times over the year.
"What's WRONG with you Lucy?!"
My tears had flown hot and strong as my blonde hair became messed up all over my face. "Stop shouting at me, Natsu."
"Then stop turning away!"
"I keep trusting you and…"
"I'm sorry, alright? I know I shouldn't have forgotten you were waiting and—"
"It was so late, Natsu! I never blame you for stuff like this, not picking me up…but hanging out at the bar with her and just forgetting me, it's—"
"Damn it, I'm sorry, Lucy!"
I actually had ended up forgiving him for forgetting I had no car and no means of transport that night. It had been eleven, I had been waiting for two hours. Hoping and praying Natsu was safe. While hoping I would be too, considering the streets were dark and empty.
What had I seen in him? The smiles? The promises?
"I love you."
"That's all you can say, huh Luce…"
I knew it. It honestly was pathetic, just going over it again and again in my mind as I curled up on my bed. And then I started to go back to work, obviously, ignoring Erza's protests of how I should not stress myself in my condition.
And over the last week, I had been visiting my secret clearing in the woods. At least the last time I did, another one of those absurdly mild autumn afternoons, he was there.
I didn't question him. He was like a blessing, one I didn't want to keep knowing more about yet craved to understand. He made little words and phrases sometimes spun together in the phrases of older centuries' spoken tongues and I didn't mind. He made me smile, and he kept his distance.
"So you've been following me?" I teased today.
Rogue never changed that outfit of his. The same long-sleeved black T-shit and same dirty jeans. His hair still was tousled as if he woke up looking perfect. And his eyes didn't scare me, not even the second time I had visited him. He had asked me, if he could talk to me. And then, gently, I told him all about Natsu.
"What makes you say that?" he enquired softly. He looked at me as if I was a miniature sun. I didn't understand it, but I never got too close. There was always that delicate physical gap in between us.
"You heard my name and you remembered it," I said. "You said I sing well."
"Beautifully," he amended.
"No, it was in February," he said.
My eyes, I was sure, were filled with surprise. We were sitting on the ground, on the floor of leaves and I didn't have to worry about work today. I didn't worry about anything, when I was with my friend in the woods.
"What about it?"
"You were singing to yourself here," he reminded me, an infinitesimally formed smile tugging at his smooth, perfect lips. He reminded me of a runaway model from another era. "And scribbling something on a sheet."
"That chapter!" I recalled. Then another one of those tiny fears crept up my spine, the way it always did when Rogue Cheney spoke of things I had never done or said in front of him. "How did you see that? When did you hear me?"
His face became sad again, and hopeful again. I still struggled to understand these very two emotions which clouded his warm face from time to time.
"Let's just say, I am here oftener than you think."
"So you do follow me," I mutter.
And he laughed. It was the first time since I heard him laugh, he rarely smiled, and his eyes did it for him usually. The sound was rich and pure and melodious in way that did not mar his masculinity. It rose once and then stopped and I felt like someone stopped the most beautiful music I had ever heard.
"I promise you I am not a stalker," and his voice held the gentle amusement of an unshared private joke.
"Can you sing for me?" he asked softly after a minute of silence. "Please?"
I stared at him for a second. Then I opened my mouth and sang my favourite song, tapping my leg for the beat. The melodies filled the little clearing and Rogue breathed in deeply, as if drinking the song in.
He didn't speak or move until I sang the last note. Then I smiled shyly at him, but he didn't return with his lips, he did it with his eyes.
It was then that I'd feel way too close. I tried not to let my guard down anymore and I would sigh and look up. "I have to go."
"I'll be here," he would promise.
And the next morning, and the next, and the next, I would work and laugh with my friends in peace. Occasionally, Natsu would be around. We were friends, we were good, and yet the casual touches hurt.
I started to write more chapters and didn't realize until the eight one that my main character seemed far too close to what I knew of Rogue. The enigma with the smoldering good looks and small phrases and rare smiles.
And I scrubbed off a few parts and rewrote lies. I didn't want to share him.
His friends, his former schools, his home, his family. He didn't say anything. Though I recognized some of the people he spoke about, people who lived in Clover and were famous and infamous alike, I never asked more about them. He turned sad and I feared to ask more.
"Don't you ever go down?" I had asked one day. "Out of the woods, I mean."
"I do," he said nonchalantly.
"I never see you anywhere but here."
"Let's keep that a secret," he teased.
I huffed and crossed my arms. "If you did come downtown more often, I wouldn't race to the woods every day. What do people think?"
"You can always stop coming," Rogue said, as if it were obvious, but I didn't miss the hurt in his eyes. "I mean, why do you always come here."
Because you are the friend who is always there. "Because this was my secret before you invaded it," I teased back, scowling. Rogue gave a small smile, and then again turned the conversation back to me. My life, my work, my home, my family. Today it was friends.
"Tell me about your friends."
"Well, there is Erza," I said, rolling over on my belly onto the leaves. "She's loyal and dependable and scary when she wants to be."
Rogue smiled, his left leg outstretched with his left arm supporting him, and his right arm resting on his right knee. "She sounds interesting."
"Oh wait till you meet her!" I exclaimed, and then I couldn't help but notice that as I spoke about my best friend Rogue's eyes softened and bore into mine. I got the feeling he wasn't really listening to me and I felt like I couldn't care less.
"Then there's Mira, and Levy. Oh and I can't forget Gray, he's—"
Hours, I guess, passed there. It must not be appealing to sit in a clearing in the middle of the woods purely to talk and laugh, but it was to me. Or maybe it was him.
It was almost the end of summer. The grass was greener and the sun was definitely hotter. The woods were cool yet only just.
Maybe it was wrong to do this, maybe it was not right, after Natsu. But Rogue was not him. Rogue was far too different to put into words, and he had never even come and talked to me before asking. The extremes of which confused me.
"Why do you always ask me this?" I questioned his today, putting my bag down. Yes, straight from work. "You don't always have to ask me whether you can talk to me."
Rogue sighed and his face lowered, his slender fingers cupping it. "I will never," he said. "Do or say anything you don't want me to."
"Why do you always speak like that?" I grumbled rhetorically. Anyone would think these were the words some kind boyfriend would say before you fell into his bed for a night of passion and I knew with every molecule in my body that was not the case. There was something stronger in Rogue's words and sudden glances.
He gave me a sad smile. His eyes melted me. Then I knew I couldn't keep holding on to a stupid theory just because Natsu had been the wrong choice. Decisions, decisions.
And I reached forward to touch his hand for the first time. I had to tell him, and I couldn't allow myself to fall in love with him until I did. My skin made contact with his and a warm feeling spread across my body.
He closed his eyes. "Oh, Lucy."
I frowned. "What?"
I bit my lip. "I need to tell you something," I said.
His fingers locked with mine, pressing them together tightly. "Anything."
I sighed as he opened his eyes. "I'm sick."
His ruby eyes tightened with pain and he hesitantly raised his left hand to brush my cheek. He touched it ever so softly and then raised his fingers to my hairline, brushing my hair back. It was my turn to close my eyes.
"Lucy, I always watched you, you were just so beautiful and interesting…you…you made people smile and you're this happy person despite your…and your voice, and you're—" I had never seen his scramble for words before, breaking off in the middle, and then starting again.
"What are you saying?"
"I know it's wrong, but it won't be, later. I swear, if your heartbeat didn't draw me in this close…I honestly don't want this for you, but it will happen and I can't stop feeling guilty for being relieved for it happening!"
I withdrew my hand. "Rogue, I don't understand you."
"I'm sorry Lucy," he muttered. "Oh, this is so messed up!" The first time I heard him use a normal, street phrase I use all the time.
"Rogue," I said again. "How do you know so much about me?"
There was a steady silence in the clearing now and the only sound was the gentle swaying of the grass. Then Rogue looked up at me through his lashes. "You're dying."
I should have run away that instant. I should have been scared. I should have asked him a million questions as to how he knew and I should have known he was not just any boy. And for some reason, his mixed world drew me in and I believed everything, not even questioning it.
"That's doesn't answer my question," I whispered.
Twilight settled again as Rogue looked up at the sky. "I became far too interested in you, you see, once your weak aura marked you as the dying," he winced. "And I swear I am not a stalker," he half-smiled. "But your presence became stronger than most of the mortals and you were just…beautiful."
I didn't move as he looked back at me, ruby into dull brown, and touched my cheek lightly again. "I don't mean to say in outward presence, though that certainly is included," he whispered. "I mean throughout. You're pure. And I told you before, I heard you sing and saw you with your friends and I guess I got attracted wrongly."
"Mortals," I repeated.
I knew that leukemia would eventually kill, since the cures had not worked. And only Natsu, Mira, Erza and Gray knew about it. I knew I was dying. But getting involved with Rogue and hearing him speak like this, sent a thrill of fear and lust alike.
"Mortals," Rogue said again, and withdrew his hand gently. Then he moved away from me, again creating the delicate gap, and said, "I won't stop you if you wish to leave."
"I love you," I replied. My eyes closed in pure shock as I uttered the words, but I didn't care. He was my comforter and my admirer and the person who I had got to know over these secret months. And he belonged to the world I would join. He knew me before I did, but if the reason for this closeness was dying...that was how he knew my name?
His face was shocked, probably more than mine. The orange sunlight illuminated my hands, but not his. "How can you?"
"Is it wrong?"
"I was not supposed to fall in love with you," he moaned. "I did though, longer than you. But my very presence makes you even closer to this world."
"Your presence makes me strong," I disagreed coolly. I was surprisingly peaceful and calm despite this realization. That Rogue was not human. Anymore. "You make me so happy."
"Lucy, I don't want to be selfish," he said. "I don't want you to join, I want to live. Yet I want to be with you."
"Say I survived," I said slowly after a second. "Couldn't you still meet me, like this?"
"Do you think it's healthy?" Soft anger laced his voice and it was the first time I had ever seen him angry. He had always been calm, collected, sad but warm.
"You're teaching me about health?" I laughed. "Leukemia kills."
"I know," he murmured.
Then I asked another question, something I felt strange asking yet not so strange. "Rogue, how did you...?"
"Drowned," he replied, looking away. "It's so easy. I didn't realize it until I did."
I flinched at the thought of a pale, unmoving Rogue sinking deeper into the waters and brushed it away. "Too easy," I said bitterly.
"Lucy," Rogue started, and then he reached forward and grabbed my hand. Then he pressed it to his chest while a steady blush crept up my cheeks. My eyes widened only slightly when I realized there was no heartbeat.
"But you're so warm," I muttered. No fear. None at all.
"That's why I never touched you, in the beginning," Rogue said. "You would know. Don't you understand, you're getting closer?"
"And I don't care."
I left my whole idea of decisions and rationality lying on the grass for a minute as I moved forward and pressed my lips to his. It was less than a second, but once I pulled away, Rogue had gone.
Winter again, and I can't help but be angry at the weather. Sure, winter is pretty. But it's too cold and I can't forget the morning yesterday when I woke up and immediately fainted.
Which must mean Rogue is closer. Or I am.
Three weeks later, I looked out of the window again to see a mild weather with the snow still clinging to the leaves like bees to honey, but bearable enough not to catch the death of a cold in the woods.
No one really came into the woods during the afternoon in winter, because it started to get darker. Some feared ghosts. The idea made me laugh out loud as my boots trudged along the fallen snow, sunlight streaming in through the conifers.
It was so wrong to be here, outside, since my condition had worsened. Even Erza, who had been around taking care of me the last few weeks more, knew I found another happiness in this 'secret-place-of-Lucy's' as she called it, would not let me come here today.
Twice, on the short way to my clearing—our clearing—I had to stop. My entire body ached and my vision turned black as I walked the last few steps. Then I collapsed.
I fell into warm arms instead of the expected cold snow. My eyes closed and I felt my face growing hot and flushed as I breathed deeply against his clad chest, his arms holding me close.
"Why did you come?!" he asked anguished.
"I didn't for a month, Rogue," I grumbled against his chest. "Don't tell me you're bored of mortals this soon."
"Lucy, you need to get back."
"I want to stay here."
"If you do," do ghosts choke? "Then you'll never make it back."
I felt both of us sink to the ground as he kneeled down. My knees too felt the moist snow seep up and into the jeans and my arms were still encircled by his. My eyes burned but I wanted to see him so I lifted my head up and his face was too close. It reminded me of the way Natsu had hugged me the day he asked me out, but Rogue's worried face chased that memory away.
"You're weaker," he mused. His lips parted as he spoke, of course, but the wisp of air in the chill didn't come out like it did for everybody else.
Then my eyes met his and he knew that I knew. It was time. Erza's hushed whispers with Gray and the quiet sobbing of Mira had been right to my ears for the last few days, because I distinctly felt myself finally giving in. How had I managed the walk up here? Determination?
"I know," I told him with a double meaning.
That hope-and-sadness thing came back on his face. We were so close, my blonde hair bobbed against his black one. "Did you say goodbye?"
"They'll be okay." I promised, silently thanking my friends. "Had you ever...?"
"They're okay," he said.
"How had you...?"
He pressed his lips to my forehead. I still couldn't feel his pulse or heartbeat and yet I felt his warmth. "I'm sleepy."
"Go to sleep," he murmured in my ear.
His voice soothed me like a lullaby and sleepiness washed over me. My incessant headache went away and so did the burning in my eyes. My chest felt lighter and I only cared about that very moment as I closed my eyes and slept. He told me later, the truth. And I didn't mind because it was meant to be this way, written or unwritten.
Maybe it was seconds or minutes or hours or a day. But the next time I opened my eyes, my right hand was locked fiercely with Rogue's left. We were close and breathing yet not breathing.
And when I smiled at him and took a last look at that secret clearing, a boy in a long black T-shirt and a blonde girl embraced as snowfall fell over them, unmoving. And then it was just the blonde as the boy faded away, a soft smile on her face.
I sincerely hope everyone reading this liked it :) This is the second Rogue and Lucy one shot I had promised to write a millennium ago, so here it is ;) Please review, tell me your thoughts! :)