Disclaimer: Not mine. They belong to Stan Lee, Marvel Comics, and 20th Century Fox

Author’s Note: Written for Donna C. Punk based on a Live Journal icon of mine. And thank you to Necia for the awesome dustjacket.

Leaning on the table in the mall’s food court, John Allerdyce absently clicked his lighter lid open and closed. Open and closed. The third time he snapped it shut, Rogue reached across the table and snatched it from him.

“Could you please not do that?” she asked.

“Oh, come on. You love it,” he replied as he reached across the table for it.

Rogue kept it just out of his reach, a smile on her face. “I dare you to sit there for five minutes without touching this thing.”

John raised an eyebrow at the challenge. “What? You don’t think I can do it?”

“Nope.”

He leaned back in his chair and propped his feet on the table. “What do I get if I do it?”

“I’ll buy you the CD of your choice.”

“Oh, this’ll be easy,” he laughed.

Rogue’s dark eyes met his, and he could see the mischief in them clear across the table. “Ah, but here’s the kicker. I’ll set it down here in the middle of the table, right where you can see it.” She did, and John’s feet fell off the table.

“That’s not fair!”

“You want that CD or not?”

Grumbling, John agreed. Rogue smiled as she looked at her watch. When the second hand reached the twelve, she started timing him.

John settled back into the chair and stared out the window. Five minutes. He could do this. He just wouldn’t look at the lighter gleaming at him from the middle of the table. When he couldn’t find anything interesting outside, his hazel eyes wandered around the food court. He could feel the fire as grills lit in different restaurants. The sun seemed to grow hotter on the back of his brown leather jacket. A candle store across the way lit several of the candles sitting in the display window. A few people lit cigarettes as they stepped outside to smoke. All the fire around him drove him nuts.

“Has it been five minutes yet?” he asked.

Rogue narrowed her eyes. “It’s only been two. God, John, you’re weaker than I thought.”

John waved off the comment as his eyes landed on the lighter. His lighter. With its silver surface and the shark teeth painted around the lid, it had been made for him. It contained his element, his power. He felt secure when he held it. However, he couldn’t let Rogue win. He couldn’t let her think he was that weak. Just three more minutes.

He looked away and chose to amuse himself with the candles in the store display window. Choosing a red one, he caused the flame to flare just for a second.

“That’s cheating,” Rogue announced.

John turned his attention to her. “No, it’s not. You said I couldn’t touch my lighter, not that I couldn’t play with other flames.” He flashed her a dazzling smile, and she just rolled her eyes.

Finally, when he thought he couldn’t take it anymore, Rogue called, “Time!”

Grinning like an idiot, he grabbed his lighter and gleefully clicked it open and closed. He turned his eyes to Rogue. “Now, you were saying about a CD?”

“You suck, Allerdyce.”

“And you love it.”

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© 2004 Crimson Idealist