Disclaimer: The X-Men characters,
and all other recognizable characters are copyright to Marvel
Entertainment Group. This work of FanFiction is not meant
to infringe on that copyright or defame Marvel Comics or the
X-Men and related characters in any way.
Copyright: This work of FanFiction and the original
characters described within are the intellectual property
of K-NICE and her IRL persona. No copying, distributing or
editing of this material is permitted without the express
permission of the creator, K-Nice, under United States copyright
law. Relax, I won't sue you. I'll just ask my Cousin Tony
to choke you with his dreds.
Thanks: Fanatic, Whitewolf, Em-Spider, Sparks for beta reading.
© K-Nice 1999
Rogue stirred suddenly, twisting her sheets around her body
so tightly that she cried out at the feeling of confinement.
She was having irritating dreams. Dreams that seemed so real
-- not perfect or even ideal but so nearly accurate that she
could believe it was all true -- until she woke up.
She awoke panting and began to weep silently over her empty
arms and empty bed. Rogue hadn't thought of herself by her
real name in so long, but for what seemed like hours or days
-- but was only really a few precious moments of REM -- she
was who she had been, and who that girl could have been. That
added element had made the dream so real. So heartbreakingly
Rogue was sick of blaming her unhappiness on her powers,
but nights like this made her consider losing those powers
forever -- as she had attempted with the Agee Institute. Rogue
felt a sleepy pang of disappointment. It wasn't directed at
any particular thing, it was a general, all-encompassing dissatisfaction
with life and everything her life entailed. It pulled a cry
of despair from the young girl inside her who had all but
disappeared the day Cody Robbins became the first person to
bounce around in her head.
Gambit paused as he crossed the roof. He was using his favorite
shortcut to the garage in anticipation of a very busy night
in New York City. But as the sound of Rogue's sobbing carried
out her open window, he adroitly changed directions and climbed
down onto Rogue's windowsill. He was adept at crouching on
her sill and watching her sleep -- one of the only "cheap
thrills" he was afforded in the relationship.
She continued to cry, albeit more quietly, and he struggled
to find something to say to her. With Rogue, any number of
things could have triggered this outpouring of grief. The
girl had had a tough life and it didn't seem things were going
to get any more pleasant for her in the near future.
"Hey, Chére, I'm going into de City. Wanna come?"
He wasn't sure why that came out of his mouth, but he needed
to say something. And now that he had said it, it did seem
like the right something.
Rogue was suddenly silent as her mood flashed from depressed
to startled to angry. She finally settled on curious. What
did he do when he went out at night? This could be her one
chance to find out. This could be her one chance to fix whatever
it was they had broken along the way. "Thanks, I'd love
Not the answer he was expecting. "Oookay, den I'll let
you get dressed. Meet me at de garage."
Remy was stuck between a lie and pretense with very few options.
He could actually go through with his original plans for the
evening, or he could pretty it up to impress her.
Undecided, Gambit moved silently out the window and stealthily
made his way to the garage.
Rogue stood in her underwear in front of her closet and contemplated
and evening on the town with Remy. An evening that began well
after midnight. Rogue let the image of Remy's ripped jeans
and motorcycle boots ripple across her mind. With the resultant
sultry smile still creasing her face, she chose a deep green
halter top, tight jeans with air-conditioned knees and a few
slashes at the back of her upper thighs. She finished the
outfit with a jean jacket, green leather gloves and the green
suede Filas Jubilee had given her way back when.
Rogue appraised herself in the mirror. She was somewhere
between Biker Babe and College Chick. Satisfied, she flew
out of her window to avoid disturbing her housemates.
She slowed up as she came upon the garage, which seemed to
attract dark, mysterious shadows. She stepped onto solid ground
and prepared to enter his presence.
He stood, smoking a cigarette, leaning his long, muscular
frame against the black and chrome Harley he secretly called
Belle. "Rea'y ta go, Chére?" Remy was almost surprised
she had come, and even seemed ready for whatever it was he
was going to throw at her. That in itself improved his outlook
on the whole situation.
"Of course, Sugah." Rogue held back a biting comment
-- if she wasn't ready she wouldn't be there, now would she.
Sarcasm of the worst kind seemed to come naturally as their
relationship dissolved into loosely strung together feelings
of hurt and distrust.
"Den let's get." Remy climbed onto the bike, turning
the ignition key then adjusting the throttle. He turned toward
her as the engine roared to life, the very essence dangerous
and powerful. The bike was pretty impressive too.
Rogue got on the bike behind him. She felt awkward, unsure:
Should she hold him around the waist? She didn't feel comfortable
with such close contact, even through layers of leather and
She gripped the bike between her powerful legs, trusting
them to hold her steady. "Reahdy."
As the word came out of her mouth, Remy revved the bike and
squealed loudly out of the driveway.
"Are you crazy!!! What are you doing?!?" Rogue
couldn't believe he could possibly be that inconsiderate.
"Folks are tryin' to sleep!" This was turning out
to be a very bad idea. She was tried of finding out about
the less desirable parts of Remy's nature.
"No dey not! Dey're staring at us t'rough the living
room windows." He hoped some of his housemates had wet
their jammies at the sudden noise. The nosy jerks deserved
it. He wondered how the team even knew they what were up to,
but between Logan's hearing and Scott's paranoia, he could
think up a few scenarios. They had no business spying on Rogue
and him. And, even more so, he was sick of Rogue always assuming
the worst, never looking for anything good from him. Her screeching
was as unwelcome as the prying eyes behind the curtains.
They were silent for the entire 45-minute ride into the City.
As Remy began to drive through downtown Manhattan, Rogue's
worries grew. She was definitely in over her head. They were
in a somewhat ritzy area. The cars around them were expensive
and the restaurants all had valets.
At a stop light Rogue leaned forward and said, "What
ahre we doin' heah, sugah? This don't look like our kind of
Gambit's response was a hearty laugh and a wide peel-out
turn off of Broadway. Rogue held onto the bike desperately,
her nerves strained. This was becoming more and more difficult
Rogue remained silent, but struggled with her composure.
It was like he was going out of his way to antagonize her.
Not that he hadn't made a habit of baiting her before this,
but she had hoped this invitation was part of some change
on his part. It was becoming increasing clear that it was
not, that he was still the same old Gambit.
Wrapped up in her thoughts, Rogue was startled when the bike
rolled to a stop. At some point they had entered an underground
parking area. A stuffy-looking valet was making a bee-line
for them, and prompt service did not seem to be foremost in
his mind. As she looked around at the Lexus', BMWs and even
a few Porsches, she wasn't surprised that he took exception
to their presence. Rogue herself knew they didn't belong.
Gambit stepped off the motorcycle as the uniformed man rushed
up. Before he could speak, Remy removed his headband so his
face was clearly visible. The man came up short and was suddenly
all smiles. "Bon soir, Monsieur, Mademoiselle ... Nous
sommes trés heureaux pour vous servir ce soir. Permittez-moi
à prendre son vehicle." He was ingratiating in ways that
only worked in French.
Remy snorted and tossed him the keys to the Harley. In tone
that brooked no argument, and probably wouldn't tolerate sulking
either, he ordered, "Gardes-la. Elle est plus de chére
à moi que vous." He turned, effectively ending the conversation
and offered Rogue his arm.
Rogue's eyes threatened to bug out of her head, years of
Mystique's training suddenly saved her from making a fool
of herself. She graciously accepted the unneeded help and
matched Remy stride for arrogant stride as they walked through
the garage toward an elegant entrance way.
Rogue wasn't sure what was on the other side of the red carpet,
but the doorman looked impressive enough. He was huge, solid
as a rock and just as unmoved by their arrival.
Remy read the guard's eye signals and passed him with a small
nod that could have been missed as the bounce in his step.
The lobby was opulent to say the least. They passed rich
dark wood paneling and the chandeliers dripped crystals. Again,
they met with an anxious employee; this time it was a man
in a formal tuxedo who exuded disdain from every sneer and
arched eyebrow he directed at them.
Remy immediately engaged him in a low, quick-paced conversation.
In French. Rogue used the moment to examine her surroundings.
She took note of the layout and the decor and assumed it must
be a restaurant. Her conclusion was confirmed as she wandered
nearer to the double doors and saw the dining room. In one
quick glimpse she saw crystal and silverware that glittered
in the dim lighting.
Rogue had an urgent desire to leave. Remy had brought her
here to embarrass her. Bitter anger welled up inside. She
looked back at the elegance and style in the room and then
at her own attire. There was no way she was going in there
dressed like an overgrown teenager.
She was turning to tell him so when the Maitre D', sneering
with what had to be indigestion because it couldn't have been
respect, lead them into the dining room.
Remy took her arm in his and followed as if he were the one
leading the way. Rogue's anger grew as people stared and whispered
but she also felt a flash of that old thrill. That devil-may-care-but-I-don't
attitude of his was the thing that got her every time. She
could almost feel the echo of that uncomplicated desire they
had shared for so short a time before they each built their
walls up higher and thicker.
Remy fought a grin as they wove their way through the main
dining room. He had eaten at those self-same tables many times
before and knew what it was like when someone "arrived."
His sensitive thief's ears picked up whispered words like
"Gambit" "Prince" and, most painfully,
"banished." But it was more than enough to inform
him that he had not been forgotten.
When he had first "arrived" in New York as a somewhat
permanent resident, he had quelled the rumors, speculations
and death threats by firmly stating he would not seek work
in the Metropolitan area. Gradually the offers died down as
the criminal community realized he was serious. It was good
to know that out of sight did not mean out of mind.
They came to the kitchen door and the bristling hellcat at
his side relaxed by a fraction as they left their observers
Rogue was not pleased. He supposed they could have come in
the kitchen entrance, but that would have meant parking his
bike on the street, wandering down dark alleys and begging
at the door with his hat in his hand. He was tired of that
sort of thing -- he preferred waltzing in and stirring up
the bees nest to slinking in the back door. But that was just
his overactive flair for the dramatic. However, she did look
rather attractive with the embarrassed flush still coloring
The Maitre D' led them to a dusty hallway. It looked like
it might lead to storage areas, or be used as one itself.
The man drifted away as they continued down the hall into
the dim recesses beyond the light of the kitchen. Instead
of going all the way down the hall, Remy cut into a side doorway,
gently indicating Rogue should follow him. He wouldn't pull
on her since he had learned early on that her natural response
was to pull back, which, with her strength, could leave him
with a dislocated shoulder and her with another reason to
hate her life.
He could sense her growing discomfort, yet Rogue still had
the sense to pull the door closed behind her. They carefully
made their way down the stone stairs. This was a very old
part of the building, likely predating the subways and the
sewers. It smell old, musty. The hair on his hands and neck
stood up at the familiar setting. So much like the Guild tunnels
at home ...
Remy took the stairs slowly, one by one, making special effort
to be noisy as he went. He realized he didn't really need
to do that since Rogue was being loud enough for the both
of them. Loud by thief standards anyway. Her step was light
and wary, firm and feminine but she did not have the knack
for "ghosting" that Remy possessed. He often wondered
if Mystique had never taught her such things or if she let
them fall by the wayside as she grew more and more dependent
on her powers. He hoped she remember enough of her early training
to handle what came next.
He could tell she was just this side of bolting for the door
and hoped she would stay just a few moments more. He didn't
remember when this had become so important to him. But now,
the idea that she would leave and never know filled him with
pain and grief, which meant a lot because he had a very high
pain and grief tolerance. They, along with his busom buddy,
guilt, were his constant companions.
At the foot of the stair, Remy halted and Rogue fell in beside
him. Two men materialized out of the dark. They wore body
armor and carried rather effective-looking weapons. Remy stood
still as Rogue stared.
Rogue swore to herself. She was feeling about as stupid as
it is possible to feel. Her green eyes narrowed to slits as
she watched the Thief and Assassin who faded out of the gloom
in what appeared to be a cellar.
As they descended the stairs, all those drills with Mystique
came to fruitation as she decoded her surroundings. The whole
hidden side door trick had thrown her off. However, she coupled
that with the stone stairwell that was too old for the building's
concrete foundation. She took what she thought she knew about
Gambit and concluded that it was some underground club. He
did have to hang out in the dingiest places. She remembered
going into dive after beer-soaked dive in Miami and always
feeling his memories of them rush to the surface.
Now Rogue had to reassess the situation. Her head was spinning.
This was not New Orleans, there was no Guild presence here.
That's what the Kingpin was for, or so her Momma said.
The men wore what she had come to know as traditional Guild
costumes. They accessorized similarly with both swords and
guns and who knew what else tucked away somewhere.
Rogue was taken aback as they stared at her with recognition.
She was about to see what they wanted to make of the fact
that she had probably beaten the tar out of them on one of
her "visits" to New Orleans, when Gambit reached
behind his back and flipped out his Bo-Staff.
And then threw it on the floor. He pulled several knives,
a gun, throwing blades, and three decks of cards out of some
rather interesting places and tossed them at his feet.
They turned their attention to Rogue expectantly. But she
never carried any weapons. She was super-fast, super-strong
and could suck the life out of anyone. What would be the point?
They were still staring at her when she dropped her X-Men
sigil which tripled as a com-badge and homing device. They
seemed to accept this and moved their hands from their weapons.
Then Remy did the strangest thing. His lips pulled back,
exposing his teeth and his eyes appeared to be narrowed. It
took her a moment to realize it, but he was grinning.
Remy couldn't help it. For her to throw her com-badge down
like that was hilarious, at least as far as he was concerned.
He stifled his laughter and transformed it into his infamous
Those hardened, callused, mean faces that had seemed seconds
from violence not a minute before, were split by huge grins.
They looked at Rogue appraisingly and grinned some more.
While the Assassin, Paul Something-or-Other, slipped back
into the shadows, the Thief, a distant relation by the name
of Christophe, stepped forward with a little bow of his head.
"Dey waitin' fo' you, Master LeBeau."
Gambit nodded and shook the thief's hand firmly. "Den
I better not be late, hehn?" He smiled briefly and took
He could almost feel the wheels turning in her head. That
whole "Master" thing must have thrown her for a
loop. It's not like she had ever seen anyone show him any
kind of respect before, especially not around the X-Mansion.
Rather than dwell on his unfortunate lot in life, which he
could do rather skillfully at this stage in the game, Remy
opened the scruffiest-looking oak door to ever be steel reinforced.
Rogue found her tongue long enough to sneer incredulously
"Master LeBeau?" then promptly when speechless again
when she saw what was behind Door #2.
It appeared to be a very large living room -- the kind that
interior decorator's dreamed up and put in presidential palaces.
Of course, though not a avid reader of Home, Remy doubted
12 square feet of TV consoles, full-sized bars or more psi-shielding
than the X-Mansion where part of the standard package. But
some of the room's accouterments were. Plush beige carpet
covered the floor except in the center, which was tiled in
beige and white diamonds. Beige leather couches and chairs
were sprinkled liberally around the cavernous space. The walls
were covered in an ever-changing array of high-quality art.
He just stood there for a second a took it all in. He hadn't
actually been inside Safezone in a very long while. While
banished, he had snuck in occasionally to get news from home
or even to speak to his father but he had always remained
in the stairwell and never tried to come any further. At the
time, he was the sort of person this place was supposed to
be safe from, (i.e. disgruntled former members).
Even though he was late, he couldn't help making an entrance.
He released Rogue's hand, which had gone stiff as they entered,
and literally took a flying leap over the back of a couch,
only to roll to his feet in front of its occupants. They sat
in stunned silence for a second and suddenly roared up from
their places. He held Rogue's fighting instinct back with
a quick grin and fell into the middle of the mob.
They hugged him, kissed him, shook his hand, or stared, all
with a hidden wariness, all with secret guile. But he was
used to that. Even in the best of times, he had been a rebel
that most of the Guild was unwilling to be overtly aligned
with. These few seemed to hedge their bets and Remy didn't
blame them. It was also telling that there were several Assassins
among the group. He could pick them out by face, as no one
would dare conceal themselves by wearing a costume in Safezone.
They seemed no more reserved than their thief companions,
and Remy had to admit that things must have really changed
between the Guilds.
Rogue listened to the raucous cheering in mixed English and
French and tried to decipher some of it. She was startled
by a high-pitched noise that part of her that was not her
recognized as a swamp call. She turned to the bar, unconsciously
mimicking Remy's actions. She looked over at him and saw one
of those rare, genuine smiles that he seemed to hoard like
war rations. She watched as the walked around the couch and
moved to the bar.
Since she had nothing else to do, she followed.
"Big Sherl!" Remy sounded purely excited to see
"Remy, you dog! Where y' been? Dey got 'ere 'alf an
'our ago. You're gonna catch it dis time, mark my word!"
The man's boisterous voice boomed out the admonition as he
and Remy hugged.
"Yeah, well is dere ev'r a time when I don't?"
Remy's glee at seeing his friend seemed to disappear with
those bitter words. Rogue felt like and eavesdropper until
he turned to her and said "Oh, dis is Rogue."
"Hello." Rogue wasn't sure if that was a proper
introduction but she took it for what it was worth.
As she turned to Remy to chide him on his poor etiquette,
she realized he was walking away. Before she could protest,
he said, "Hey, Sherl!"
"Yeah" came the loud reply.
"Be nice." Remy was gone on the next breath, slipping
through a steel door at the other end of the bar.
The massive man beside her began to chuckle softly. Rogue
took a moment to examine him. Remy obviously cared about him
and the feeling was mutual. He was very tall and very thick
and very, very dark. His face was the color of dark chocolate
but, from a quick look at the inside of his arm, Rogue could
tell he had recently gotten a lot of sun. All in all, he reminded
her of a cheerful Bishop. He had that same solid air about
him, but he was much too jovial to have anything but a surface
resemblance to the serious XSE officer from the future.
She sat at the bar, watching him laugh to himself quietly.
She was curious. "'Big Shirl?' Is that your real name?"
As soon as if came out of her mouth she wished she could take
it back. It was a foolish question for a woman who went by
a codename only to ask, since she could not reciprocate a
response. Yet, the man seemed untroubled by this paradox.
"You're a bold one, Rogue," but he said it with
a conspiratorial smile to soften the blow, "My birth
name is Sherman Dupris. Folks used to call me Sher or Sherm
but I had this one little cousin," and his eyes darted
to the mysterious steel door, "who said Sherl and it
"Ah guess I don't have to ask why they call you 'Big'?"
She gestured with her hand to indicate his large frame.
"No, but I wouldn't mind going into detail." His
grin was reminiscent of Remy's and that, along with his naughty
innuendo, made Rogue blush.
"Lemme buy y' a drink, chere?" He recovered from
his own little joke and looked at Rogue mischievously. There
was real interest in his eyes and a hint of further humor.
Rogue relaxed all at once and laughed out loud. It was so
ridiculous: that all the strange things that had happened
that night would end up with her at a bar flirting like a
normal girl. She felt the pain of her dream slide away as
she leaned closer to him. "Sure, Big Sherl Sugah."
She batted her green eyes and settled on to her stool with
her legs crossed and her full attention on her very pleasant
Remy sat on a stool in the dark. The room was a chapel, paneled
in dark wood. The stool was in the nave, where Remy sat with
his back to two men. He stared into the blackness around him.
He adjusted his eyes to the light that glowed from the candles
that circled the altar.
He was assigned the left part of the altar and part of the
darkness. His father, Jean-Luc, and his brother, Henri, sat
on similar stools, searching as he did for any fluctuation,
any slight shift that could indicate they had a visitor. Henri
and Jean-Luc had sat for half-an-hour with no detected motion.
They had insisted he be there so that his spatial awareness
and special eyes could give them some edge in this exercise.
Remy felt barely restrained excitement, and it wasn't merely
the result of this 'bait and wait' game. There was something
so right about him being here. He had never really doubted
that Henri would recover from his "death." It was
very hard to kill any thief worth the Elixir of Life, and
Henri had tasted it more than once. But, to see him again,
and on good terms, was a blessing. Remy often tried to ignore
the loss that had settled into his heart the night he was
banished, but lately, with his relationship with Rogue eating
him alive from the inside out, he found that old pain stirring.
And then the call had come, demanding his presence at an initiation
ceremony and suddenly it was lessening, until at this moment,
he felt as if he would one day be able to come home.
If he was participating in an official Guild ceremony, by
request of the Council no less, attitudes about him had to
be changing. Maybe to the point where he could reclaim his
former status. As much as he told himself that he wanted nothing
to do with the Guild, he knew it wasn't so. He needed the
Guild because the Guild needed him, unlike the X-Men who acted
like they were doing him a favor in letting him stay. Of course,
like the X-Men, the Guild knew little about his greatest crime.
Shaking his head mentally, Gambit scanned the darkness. Remy
realized that the initiation was being held in New York because
customs was a real hassle in the City, which meant the thief
in question would have to find a creative way to get the loot
back into the United States. For a second he thought he sensed
movement among the candles. He quickly snapped his eyes back
to the altar. He was rewarded with the glint
of warm flame-light against gold.
He shifted in his seat. Henri and Jean-Luc took his signal
and turned to look at the altar. They looked at each other
silently, three thieves, all in the worlds top ten,
all completely baffled. Remy bit his lip to hide his surprise
as a figure emerged from the three foot triangle of darkness
between them. The figure was of medium height and slim but
muscular and absolutely silent as it gracefully raised its
hands above its head and performed a prefect pirouette without
even brushing their stools.
"I cain't believe it." Henri was the first to find
his voice. He shook his head and smiled ruefully.
"Why not, you trained 'er." Jean-Luc could not
suppress the proud smile that over took his features. The
figure was still more shadow than substance even in the candlelight.
"You really done it dis time, Andy!" Remy grinned
as he scooped the jewel-encrusted, one-of-a-kind necklace
from the alter. It was Chinese in design -- his off-hand guess
was Chang Dynasty -- and likely priceless.
"Oui, mon frere, isn't it wonderful! And don't call
me Andy. Y'd t'ink I was still seven years old de way you
go on so." The masked figure began to strip off the simple,
black thief's clothing. As quiet as her movements were, her
voice was another matter. "I can't wait to get out of
dis stuff -- it reeks, man, it totally reeks. I'll never fly
as luggage again. I wish I could have worn my colors."
Her tone of voice told Remy that he had missed a ongoing
battle, as did his father's long-suffering reply: "Now,
Remy laughed as her eyes rolled, "I know, I know, dere
not really my colors until the Guild accepts my offering but
still ..." Remy remembered that she could whine with
the best of them.
"Yes, child, but I am sure dis will be sufficient. Raiding
tombs in de middle of de PRC is still pretty good by Guild
standards." Henri neutralized the argument before it
even had a chance to pick up steam. He was impressed and Remy
could tell. Henri had acted as her registrar and if the note
of respect in his voice was a gauge, she had far exceeded
"Yah, petite, you can tell us all 'bout it later."
Remy could feel the rush come off her in waves and he missed
that heady feeling of conquering the world with your mind
and your body. He grabbed her up in a hug, her undressed body
an after-thought. She grinned and put her head in his shoulder.
This was the first time they had touched each other since
he had left New Orleans for good. He had seen her on his rare
visits to his hometown, but from afar. It was good to hold
her again and it made him feel forgiven.
Jean-Luc watched his children get reacquainted with moist
eyes. Remy's transition back into the family was going smoothly
so far. With Julien Boudreaux showing up not-dead during that
fiasco with Chandra, Jean-Luc had begun working to get his
son's banishment rescinded. At the time, sentiment was against
him, but slowly, as war between the Guilds was called to yet
another truce, things began to look up. Apparently BellaDonna
finally decided to honor her father, rather than sullying
his name, and called off her foolish quest for revenge. That,
and the fact that without the Elixirs, the Guilds had little
to fight over. Cooperation was much better for business than
squabbling among themselves.
Things were in motion to return Remy to the fold. It was
only a matter of time before he would have his family whole
again. But tonight was not his night, nor was it Remy's. It
belonged to the young girl who had just become the youngest
person to become a full member of the New Orleans Thieves
Guild, Alexandre LeBeau. Jean-Luc took one last look and felt
Henri return from wherever he had disappeared to. "Aren't
you goin' ta get dressed, petite? De people are waitin'."
Henri passed her a little black dress and she slipped into
it gratefully. "I love it, 'Ri, I love it, but -- "
she objected when he offered her a pair of heels, "I'm
gonna wear my boots." Despite the upturned noses and
deep-throated groans of her father and oldest brother, she
seemed perfectly comfortable in Donna Karen and knee-high
high-heeled boots. She bent over to lace them up as Remy placed
his heavy leather jacket on a stool.
Remy wisely did not comment on the ensemble, which was not
that bad as far as he was concerned -- although he felt a
stirring of the Big-Brother part of his brain at the amount
of leg she was showing. It was nearly indecent for a girl
of 17 -- well, for his sister at 17 -- but he got over
it. He was relishing in the feeling of peace he felt, basking
in the off-hand acceptance that had been apparent from the
moment he enter the 'zone. He almost felt as if he had never
left and being received this way softened the rough exterior
of his heart so some of the hurt could seep out and fall away.
Rogue looked at the steel door as Big Sherl stopped in the
middle of his punch line to stare at the people coming out
of it. She was shocked to see Remy's brother, Henri. Rogue
was sure she seen the man dead on the balcony at the X-Mansion
not very long ago. Her eyes passed over him and Jean-Luc LeBeau,
noting that he never seemed to wear anything but that hideously-green
traditional costume, and settled on the object of her wrath.
It was all still there: those long legs taking long strides
in her direction, those unbelievable eyes that seemed to pull
her across the room, that smile that made her want to melt
in a puddle at his feet. Yep, Remy was still gorgeous, if
infuriating. Her eyes narrowed at the sight of a young woman
standing very close to what she unconsciously considered her
She was distracted from her murderous fantasy by the low
rumble she had come to associate with Sherl's laughter. He
swiveled in his seat as the young woman trotted over to him.
She was exotically beautiful and her unconventional looks
matched her unique fashion choices.
"Come on, Lexie, what's wit' de knee-high combat boots?"
"Oh, hush Unca Sherl, dey ain't combat boots and you
know it. Just congratulate me on being wonderful." She
draped herself on his shoulder, which was quite a feat considering
their comparative sizes. Rogue put another strike against
her for distracting her new friend.
"Well, are you wonderful now? I was t'inkin' you were
spectacular or some such t'ing. No? Well den, "Congratulations!"
and all that. Have you met Rogue?"
There was something wrong with the fact that it was Sherl
who introduced them not Remy, but then, this whole night was
wrong from beginning to end. Rogue felt sweat building up
in the gloves and peeled them off. She held them in one hand
and took another swig of alcohol with the other.
"Hey, Lex, lemme buy y' a beer." A young man dashed
up and hugged the young woman and then she was gone into the
Rogue took it as an opportunity to get back to the one person
who was paying attention to her this evening. "Big Sherl,
finish your story," she prompted. Big Sherl was funny
and genuinely interesting and interested in her. She felt
so normal, like she was a regular girl and not a complete
He turned back to her and settled right back into his story-telling
groove. "So, I figure, I got nut'in to lose and I take
de gun, right ..." Rogue gave him her most rapt attention,
ignoring Remy as he slipped away from the bar. On the other
hand, Big Sherl wouldn't let him slide away this time.
" -- Remy, old dog, where you runnin' off to?"
Sherl grabbed the lanky X-Man by his jacket collar as he moved
past him. Rogue fought a delighted smile as Remy stopped short
to avoid being yanked backwards. Sherl looked at him indignantly
as he tried to straighten himself out. "I'm not steallin
you mojo, boy chile. Unca Sherl ain't after ya woman so don't
get all huffy."
Remy's face went several shades of red, then he seemed to
collect himself and force the flush from his cheeks. Rogue
could barely contain herself. In the two years she had known
him, she had never even seen Remy blush and in a matter of
seconds she was seeing him tongue-tied and flummoxed. He was
always so calm, cool and collected and he had taken great
pleasure in running her emotions ragged with his quick wit
and stinging innuendo. Now he was the one on the ropes, in
public with a full audience. Rogue bit her lip with a grin
and watched the scene continue.
"However, I will talk to any pretty chere that will
listen to me, hear?" It was the wagging finger, that
ruined Rogue's composure. Apparently it was also to much for
Sherl and Remy because they joined with their own rich laughter.
Remy's smile was light and playful, and for once it did not
put her on edge. " Rogue, you wanna listen to this
blowhard tell his hundred-year-old stories or do you want
to dance?" His voice was smug and arrogant and oh, so
Rogue looked at Sherl and Remy and then at her third whiskey
sour. "Sherl, sugah ..." She raised her eyebrows
at him questioningly and grabbed his hand. "Let's boogie."
She stuck her tongue out at Remy and moved to the center of
the floor where a mob of people were throwing themselves together
to the heavy bass of the music.
She felt good, better than three drinks should make her feel.
She was accustomed to her stolen Kree metabolism protecting
her from the effects of alcohol, so she credited her carefree
attitude to this mysterious Safezone. Rogue definitely didn't
want to like this place, but it was infectious, like a fungus
or something. She half-remembered something about secret hideouts,
but she couldn't attribute the source -- either her mother,
or Remy's memories or something else entirely. From what she
remembered, this Safezone was just that. So she let the worry
of "a world that fears and hates me" roll off her
back as Sherl placed his large hand on the base her spine.
As they moved into the crush of bodies that writhed on the
hard wood dance floor, Rogue became terrified. Her hands had
grown hotter still from holding her gloves, and she had forgotten
them on the bar. Without their security, Rogue's mind spun
at the possible opportunities for contact. There were too
many bodies, too much skin. There was no way to avoid them
all as Sherl spun and twisted her body around his massive
frame. She had only meant to punish Remy for dragging her
to who knows where in the middle of the night, leaving her
with a complete stranger (a handsome, pleasant stranger but
a stranger) and offering no apology or explanation when he
returned. Now she had committed herself to this press of human
flesh and she didn't think she could handle it.Yet, as Sherl
dipped her, she felt the blood rush to her head and the reason
oozing out her ears. Maybe she could be normal, just for one
Once she got started, she forgot about not touching and found
all of the ways she could touch, the subtle things like touching
Sherl's gloved hands, gripping the shoulder of the shorter
blond man that cut in on a slow song. After a while she just
let the worry go. She didn't have her gloves but she was still
safe and she couldn't remember why she had worried about her
powers in the first place.
Rogue swirled from partner to partner reveling in the revelry.
Fast songs were the best because you didn't have to hold hands,
although several of her partners couldn't keep their hands
from drifting to her waist or back. Rogue leaned into their
touch, loving the feel of it. Part of her knew she was playing
with fire but most of her was just having a really good time.
After almost an hour of dancing the sweat on her skin, the
smile she couldn't get rid of, the beating of her heart that
rocked her like drum, all told her she should do this more
often. The music changed to something fast and Latin and she
found herself grinding her hips against some guy.
"Oh my God."
"What, you didn't know it was me?" It was Remy.
Rogue looked out over his shoulder and bit her lip. Why was
she more comfortable with a stranger than with him? If she
were at home, she would ponder that question for hours, soak
her pillow with pointless tears seeking understanding of the
twisted mess their relationship had become. But since she
was far from home, and far from ready to sink back into her
own private pit of despair, she turned around and fell into
his arms as a slow song started.
She let her whole body relax and enjoyed the feel of their
close dance and the peacefulness of his silence. The pounding
bass pushed her nerves away (or maybe it was the six whiskey
sours she had downed in the last two hours).
It felt good -- very good -- to toss back her head and just
move her body, knowing for once that she couldn't hurt him
-- not even when they danced so close Rogue could smell three
different liquors on his breath. She wondered why they had
never danced this way before but an aching in her calves kept
her from finishing the thought.
As they slow jammed, Rogue didn't notice that Remy was steadily
moving them towards the couches. She sat down gratefully when
they got there. The wall of TV screens flickered madly --
sports events, movies, music videos. Rogue was staring at
something decidedly adult that ran on the bottom row. She
was leaning over slightly, poised on toes, to get a better
view, giving Remy a much better view of the soft skin at small
of her back and more.
"Hey Rogue." She looked like she was going to fall
off the chair if he didn't get her attention. Her head snapped
up to face him. At first she looked awkward, as if she had
been caught doing something she wasn't sure she should be
doing. Then her expression
changed. "Yeah, Remy." The eyebrows arched, the
lip curled and Remy leaned back unconsciously. Anger flamed
her face, instead of embarrassment. Anger over what?
Remy ran his mind back of his recent crimes and misdemeanors.
"Sorry ta drag ya 'ere, chere. My sister, Alex, she
did 'er first professional job tonight and I really wanted
to be 'ere to support 'er. I shun'ta left ya out 'ere by yaself
but I knew ya'd be alright."
"How'd ya know Ah'd be alright? What if Sentinels would've
attacked or sumth'n? What then huh?" She wasn't going
to give an inch until he earned it.
"This place ... it's de only place in de City dat's
completely blind to surveillance, scanners and such. Dat's
why its a Safezone. No Sentinels, no police, not even S.H.E.I.L.D.
know dis place is 'ere." He wasn't sure about that last
part but it sounded good and it was true in principle. "So,
wouldn't nuth'n happened ta ya, non? "
"Yeah, Ah suppose that makes sense." Her head dropped
and they sat in silence for a second. Remy let out a slow
sigh of relief.
"I guess dat's why dis place is so popular." He
tried to redirect the conversation toward something light
and positive. He didn't want to fight with her tonight. He
couldn't remember when he had felt so... okay. Between his
banishment and joining the X-Men, he had spent a lot of time
convincing himself that he didn't need anybody, especially
not a family. But, when he followed Stormy home, he realized
that he both needed and wanted the feelings he lost when Jean-Luc
told him to leave and never come back. Tonight, he felt like
he belonged in his family again. He wasn't going home -- he
was still an X-Man -- but at least he had the option now.
"Ah don't know, Remy, Ah think it's your sister who's
popular." Remy looked at Rogue, a serious expression
warring with his sparkling eyes. She was going to accept the
situation, and his place in it, and move on from it. He never
wanted to kiss her more than he did right then. He indulged
the desire for a moment more before resigning himself to his
too-brief memories of their fleeting intimacy in the past.
"Huh?" Her words began to register through the
fog of want that was tearing though the walls inside him.
"See?" She pointed toward the ever thickening crowd
at the center of the dance floor. Remy looked and saw Alex
at the center, dancing sensuously to a throbbing R&B song.
That was the last straw for Gambit. It was one thing to join
the Guild at a younger age than he had, but Alex was going
to get the fight of her life if she thought she would unseat
him as the sexy thing in New Orleans.
"Oh no, she's not betta den us!" He grabbed Rogue's
hand and pulled her onto the floor. Before she could protest
they were back to bumping and grinding.
Alex and Big Sherl where moving smoothly through several
suggestive moves. They wisely kept 18 inches between them,
both in deference to Jean-Luc (and the bodily harm he would
have done to anyone who was that forward with his daughter)
and because the half-foot difference in height and 100-pound
difference in weight would make them look ridiculous. Joining
them in at the center of attention, Remy guided Rogue as they
moved together. Rogue felt a flame run through her veins,
sending heat straight to her body. They fit each other. Perfectly.
She felt herself being aroused -- by the words, the song,
the volume, this apparent competition with Remy's sister and
friend. It reminded her of all the times she and Remy had
competed against each other, only this time the excitement
wasn't tinged with a desire to grind his face into the pavement.
Rogue filled her mind with that beautiful, wonderful, horrible
dream that had lead her here and ground her hips against Remy's,
raising her arms to his shoulders, linking her hands behind
He pulled her so close that she was straddling his leg as
they pressed on into the rhythm. Big Sherl and Alex were literally
bent over backwards as they executed a complex Reggae move.
As the song ended, the crowd cheered their respective performances.
Rogue found that she liked hearing her name chanted almost
as much as the feel of Remy's firm body moving against her.
Though that had her skin pulsing with every heartbeat. She
had never been this close to him, always keeping him at arms
length or further, and suddenly she never wanted to pull way.
Sherl and Alex flanked them as they moved toward the sitting
area again. They collapsed together on the couch and Rogue
did not pull away from the confused tangle. She instead stared
at her bare hand on Alex's exposed knee. When it finally reached
her that she was touching someone, skin to skin, and nothing
was happening, she snatched her hand away and stared at it,
a tad drunkenly.
"Hey, wassa matta." She shifted her stare to Sherl's
"Mah ...mah powers?" Rogue stammered. She ran her
mind over the evening and realized she had touched several
people over the course of the evening, but since nothing had
happened, she had ignored the contact.
"Oh, de whole club's got dis psi-field -- Thank you
-- dat kinda 'softens' ya powers. It don' shut 'em off or
nuth'n, just ...lessens dem. Keeps de place off all dat mutant
huntin' radar, ya know." Alex' answer was swift, puncuated
by her acceptance of a mixed drink from a tray that was circulating.
Rogue also took a glass and downed it quickly.
"Remy, why didn't ya tell me?" Rogue tried not
to look hurt. She felt slivers of violation, betrayal and
confusion leave a bitter taste at the back of her throat.
"'Cause I didn't want you to t'ink I brought ya here
'cause a dat."
Rogue turned away. She could trust that he had kept it secret
out of deference for her feelings or she could go the suspicious
route and worry that he was setting her up for attack. She
knew him too well to really believe he was a traitor, yet
she had not come to expect kindness and courtesy from him.
Perhaps it was time she did.
"Tha ...Thanks, sugah. Ah guess Ah can understand that."
She kept her head averted as she started to cry. With her
invulnerability dampened, she was feeling the full effects
of the alcohol she had consumed and it was beginning to take
Remy hugged her, puzzled but comforting her by instinct.
Sherl and Alex slipped away to other parts of the party, leaving
them in relative solitude. The way things were going for him
tonight, he felt better, freer than he had in a long time.
His good mood was sobered by her melancholy. They sat close
soaking up each others' warmth, Rogue's face against Gambit's
t-shirt. After several moments, when her tears did not abate,
"Wha's wrong, chere?"
"Ah want to ... be so badly."
"Be normal?" Remy sighed. That was her usual lament,
to matter how pointless it seemed.
"No, just be. Be more than a villainess or a hero. Be
a person, a woman." Rogue choked out that last word with
Remy said nothing, hugging her closer as she wept drunkenly.
He smiled as she mumbled to herself and sipped on whatever
drink he could get his hands on. She quieted eventually and
he wondered if she had gone to sleep. he tried to pull away
from her to let her sleep it off but as he moved, she clutched
him to her tightly. It wasn't her full strength, but it was
"Don't leave me alone, Remy," she pleaded with
him. Remy was more than willing but not able. And that was
the key, wasn't it. Neither of them wanted to be alone but
neither could trust enough to be together.
"I have to 'go' chere."
"Oh." Rogue blushed and reluctantly sat up.
"'S'okay." He got up and disappeared. She lost
sight of him as he passed a dart game that had drawn a group
of staggering drunks all prime to be hustled.
Rogue wiped her face and straightened her clothes. According
to her watch, she was going to be late for her morning Danger
Room session. She lay her head back and tried to push away
to despair that had gripped her. It was all the fault of that
dumb dream, the kind of dream she thought she had escaped
as she accepted her place in the X-Men. Rogue tended to prefer
her fantasies to her real life and felt guilty because of
what she had instead. A home to feel safe in, a goal to fight
for and people who loved her. That should be enough, shouldn't
it? When she laid it out like that, she felt childish
But things weren't really that way in real life and all along
Rogue had known she wanted more from life. She wanted someone
who understood her, who could share the bad memories and the
good and still care about her. Little by little she had come
to believe that someone was Remy, but after the Trial, she
questioned her own ability to "love unconditionally."
It all came down to one thing. She wasn't normal. But then
again, neither was anyone else she knew. She looked around
the room at the people whose party she crashed. They weren't
normal but they weren't angsting over it. Yet Rogue couldn't
separate her view of herself from her powers and her past,
both of which she hated.
Mystique had always pressured her to accept herself, but
Rogue had kept that vision of normality so fixed in her mind
that she never could see herself past it, which lead her to
play the saintly martyr in her own tragic romance. After the
sensations she had experienced tonight, however, Rogue was
growing less attached to her martyrdom. Just as she began
to feel pathetic again, Remy appeared at her elbow.
"Hey." He smiled down at her as she dragged herself
to her feet.
"You ready ta go."
"Ah don't know if Ah can balance on that bike of yours."
"I don' t'ink I should try t'drive anyway. I'll get
us a ride."
Ten minutes later, Remy and Rogue were sitting on the middle
seat of a black Minivan with the license plate BGSHERL. Big
Sherl and an unidentified woman were making out in the back
seat. Henri's wife, a prim-looking woman by the name of Penelope,
sat next to Rogue. Three across was pretty tight, but Rogue
found herself enjoying the contact. Rogue realized that no
one had been squeamish about her powers tonight, though that
made sense with the power dampening equipment. Still, it was
a welcome rare occurrence not to be treated like a pariah.
Remy put his arm around her and pulled her close. He had
managed one night without lying to her, one night without
hiding behind carefully created facades. But more importantly,
he was one night closer to his family, to the people who made
him remember his was a man, not a monster. He was one night
closer to forgiving himself.
"So, who's drivin'?" Rogue had assumed Big Sherl
would, but he looked more than a little occupied.
"I am." Alex sat in the driver's seat and Henri
"Um, don't you think ya've a little to much to drink?"
Rogue knew she was too drunk to drive and Alex didn't have
the benefit of Carol Danver's Kree metabolism.
"I'll be fine. I got betta reflexes drunk den ya'll
have sober." The arrogence in the girl's voice set Rogue's
teeth on edge but Henri interjected, "Her powers give
her some super fast reflexes. Never seen her hit anyt'ing
so I figger it's safe, huh Catalyste?" He nudged Alex,
who promptly opened the door and emptied her stomach. As unsettling
as that was, Rogue had to respect the way the girl handled
herself in 5:00 am downtown traffic.
Once she was convinced she would not wake up with her head
stuck through a tree, Rogue leaned her head into Remy's shoulder
and dozed on the ride home. She woke with a start as they
stopped by the Mansion gates.
Remy hugged his sister and brother goodbye. He was reluctant
to let them go but still had no desire to leave with them.
It was Rogue that pulled him into the gate after the van
disappeared into the early morning fog on Graymalkin Lane.
They walked down the driveway, each deep in their own thoughts.
"Chere." Remy stopped and turned to Rogue as they
approached the door.
"Hmm?" Rogue was more focused on the trouble they'd
be in for coming in so late than the pensive look in Remy's
"Ya t'ink maybe we could get some coffee later and,
ya know, talk."
"Yeah, that ... that sounds like a vera good idea."
Someone opened the door, and they found the courage to walk
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