Introductory Note: This fic was
completely inspired by reading an amazing book. You've heard
of song-fic -- this is a novel-fic. And the novel in question
is Rebecca Wells' transcendent work, Divine Secrets of the
Ya-Ya Sisterhood. It's a story of mothers, daughters, friendship
and, as Tom Robbins put it, "the monkey-dance of life". I
can't recommend it enough. Also, this fits in with the other
two holiday-themed stories I wrote, A
Time for Family (Mystique) and A
Time for Homecoming (Gambit).
Disclaimer: I am in no way profiting from this work
of fiction. Vivi, Necie, Caro, Teensy and Siddalee belong
to themselves and to Rebecca Wells, and appear here only in
reference to the novel, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.
Rogue and all other Marvel characters belong to Marvel. The
story and the mountains of crumpled paper that I created while
writing it belong to me though :-)
A Time for Giving
You think your pains and your
heartbreaks are unprecedented in the history of the world,
but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things
that tormented me were the very things that connected me with
all the people who were alive, or who have ever been alive.
-- James Baldwin
What can we see, read, acquire,
but ourselves. Take the book, my friend, and read your eyes
out, you will never find there what I find.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
It was only the second week of December, but the mall was
already filled with the usual holiday crowd. Rogue deftly
navigated through the throngs of other shoppers with ease,
despite having her arms laden with so many bags and boxes
she could just manage to see over them.
Chalk up another advantage ta all of them Danger Room
sessions -- mind ya, if Ah play my cards right, this is one
skill Ah won't have ta use again 'til next year. she thought
with a chuckle.
Only one more stop to make, and her Christmas shopping would
be complete -- and in record time. She soon reached her destination,
flashing a grin at the bookstore clerk as she entered.
"I don't suppose y' all have anywhere I could stash these
while I look around, do ya? I wouldn' want ta get in anybody's
"No problem at all -- if you just leave those here, there
should be just enough room behind the counter..."
"You are jus' too kind, sugah," Rogue sighed, handing over
"Anything for a regular customer -- especially at this time
of year! Your timing couldn't be better, either. Your special
order just arrived."
"Oh honey, that is too perfect foh words. An' thanks so much
foh lettin' me leave these things with ya -- Ah'll only be
a few minutes..."
She walked through the store, feeling pleased with herself.
She hadn't expected Scott's gift -- a hardcover, twenty-fifth
anniversary edition of Slaughterhouse-Five -- to arrive
so soon. It was Scott's favorite novel, and his own well-loved
paperback copy was in the process of falling apart.
Moving to the Cookery section, she browsed the shelves looking
for the volume she had heard Remy talk about getting. It would
complement the other gifts she had found for him perfectly,
even if they weren't as ... personal ... as she might have
liked. After what had happened in Antarctica, she wasn't sure
she had the right to assume their former level of closeness,
despite everything else that had happened in the year since
Remy's return. And as for what Remy thought ... she had no
clue. They had been walking on eggshells around each other
for months, so it seemed safer to go with a comparatively
Me, playin' it safe... Ah can just imagine what Momma
would say ta that...
Of course, she thought wryly, that was assuming her mother
would speak to her at all, which was an uncertain proposition
at best. Although Rogue knew Mystique loved her, she also
knew that her mother had never truly forgiven her for leaving,
still considered it a personal betrayal. Their relationship
had alternated between uneasy and hurtful ever since. Their
last meeting had been typical -- equal amounts awkward affection,
old bitterness, and manipulation -- but at least Raven had
left her on a good note this time...1
Bringing herself back to the task at hand, she resumed her
search, and soon found what she was looking for. One down,
just two more to go...
Looking in the Biography section, she noticed a very well-received
account of the life of Richard Feynman -- one of Hank's heroes
-- and she knew for a fact that he hadn't picked it up yet.
With all of the additional hours he'd been spending in the
lab, he hadn't had time. A good book might just be enough
to coax him into taking a badly needed break...
Picking up the large volume, she paused, thinking about what
she could get to finish Ororo's present. Gardening books ?
Storm had every one, and knew them by rote. If there was one
that she didn't own, it was because it wasn't worth owning.
Ditto most nature books, and Ororo had little interest in
the popular genres...
Suddenly, she remembered a book Logan had mentioned some
time ago. She went into Non-Fiction, and after a couple of
minutes of searching, she spied her quarry, and seized it
triumphantly. If any of what Logan had said about it was true,
'Ro would love it...
An' now that my shopping's done -- I think I deserve a
Rogue slowly walked through the aisles, looking over the
many titles, and she soon found herself in Fiction. After
browsing for a time, she came across one particular title
that made her stop with a raised eyebrow and an inquisitive
'Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood? That's gotta
be worth a look...
She picked up the book, glancing at the cover, then opened
it and read the first two pages. She could always tell if
a book was worth buying from this little test -- and this
one passed muster. She added the book to the small pile she
carried, and made her way back to the counter.
"Those four, plus your special order? Would you like them
"Thank you kindly -- except this one, seein' as it's a present
Once the clerk rang in and wrapped her new purchases, Rogue
gathered her collection of bags once more.
"Are you sure you don't want any help with that?" the clerk
"No thanks, hon -- Ah'm fine, really."
"I don't know how you manage without a cart," the clerk said
"Ah spend a lot of time workin' out -- ya have a Merry Christmas
"Thanks -- and the same to you!"
Thankfully, Rogue had managed to get a parking space near
the mall entrance. After loading everything in the Cherokee,
she climbed behind the wheel, and started the drive home.
Upon her arrival at the mansion, it took only a few minutes
to lug everything up to her room, though she had to spurn
Bobby's offers to 'help' repeatedly.
"What, can't I even make a polite gesture without being suspected
of something?" he complained.
"Not this close ta Christmas, ya can't," Rogue said sharply,
"Don't you think that Ah've forgotten how ya peeked in every
last bag last year, Bobby Drake. I might have fallen foh your
act once, but it ain't happenin' again."
"C'mon, Rogue -- where's your sense of tradition? Peeking
at presents is as much a part of Christmas as plum pudding
and 'Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer'. Can't I even..."
"Fine," Bobby grumbled, "But the next time you need a hand,
I don't want to hear any smart remarks..."
"...'bout chivalry bein' dead," Rogue said, finishing his
sentence with him, "Gotcha -- now scoot!"
Once everything was safely stowed in her room, she took her
new book, flopped down on her bed and started reading.
She only noticed the time when her stomach grumbled rather
loudly. Glancing at the clock, she received a mild shock when
she realized how much time had passed. It had been a long
time since she had so lost herself in a good book ... particularly
one that spoke to her as this one did.
The storyline of an estranged mother and daughter -- and
the daughter's strained romance -- had her identifying with
the characters more than she would have thought possible.
The Southern setting hadn't hurt either, though it was Louisiana
and not Mississippi...
Rogue's stomach rumbled again. Marking her place, she put
the book down, and wandered down to the kitchen, snippets
of prose running through her mind along with thoughts of her
"I'm sorry I didn't call, Pal. It was just
too Goddamn touchy down here with Vivi. She made us swear
not to talk to you. Your mama's terrified of betrayal..."2
Terrified of betrayal...
That thought had stuck with Rogue because it had never occurred
to her that her mother might be terrified of anything. She
knew that to think so was being unrealistic, and she recognized
where a good part of that false perception was coming from
-- to the brutalized little girl she had been, Raven had been
nothing short of a saviour, and Rogue had idealized her accordingly
-- but the more Rogue considered the idea, the more likely
Raven Darkholme was pragmatic, capable and supremely self-reliant
-- yet she was always guarded in her manner. With the exceptions
of Irene and Rogue herself, Mystique had trusted no-one, not
even the most loyal members of the Brotherhood.
After Rogue had left them, Raven had gone into a towering
rage, for a time not even speaking to Destiny, suspecting
that the precognitive had known what would happen and had
said nothing. Even after Mystique was over the worst of her
anger, it had been months before she would even permit people
to speak of Rogue in her presence.
Could it have been fear that had fuelled her mother's anger?
"You and your mama have broken each other's
That too, was true enough. When Rogue had left the Brotherhood
for the X-Men, it was true that she had done so for the sake
of her sanity. But ever since Rogue's power had manifested,
her mother had been paying less attention to her as a person,
and more to her potential as a weapon. Rogue had deeply resented
-- and feared -- Raven's apparently growing detachment. Deep
inside herself, Rogue had actually relished leaving as an
opportunity to strike back at her mother for that neglect...
Not that Ah ever admitted it -- real mature, gal...
Arriving in the kitchen, she poked around in the refrigerator,
and smiled at the several small containers of leftovers from
the day before. It had been Remy's turn as cook, and between
the large number of dishes he had made, and the tiny quantities
left over from each, there was just enough to make a full
Bayou food for a bayou book...
As she arranged her dinner on a plate, her mind drifted to
the man who had cooked it. He was equally charming and irritating,
open and distant, considerate and demanding. She loved Remy
-- and he drove her crazy.
Like her mother, Rogue didn't like mysteries, or the unknown
-- she felt compelled to find solutions, facts. And when she
couldn't, it frustrated her no end. That facet of her personality
went a long way to explaining the course of her relationship
with the Cajun. He was a puzzle that she wanted -- needed
-- to figure out. And whenever she couldn't, she withdrew
in frustration and fear, until she worked up the nerve for
her next attempt.
"You can't figure me out. I can't figure
me out. It's life, Sidda. You don't figure it out.
You just climb up on the beast and ride."4
She knew how unfair she was being to Remy -- demanding full
knowledge of someone else's life before you would divulge
any facts about your own was as unfair as it got -- but somehow
she couldn't stop herself. Why did she have to know
all of his answers? What did she hope to learn from them?
Why do I keep tryin'? Is it that Ah'm afraid Ah don't
know how to love, like Sidda?
She remembered another part in the book that dismissed that
thought. She had read it over several times, amazed at how
much the fictional Vivi's letter sounded like Mystique on
Good God, child! What do you mean, you "don't
know how to love"?Do you think any of us know how to
love?! Do you think anybody would ever do anything
if they waited until they knew how to love?! Do you think
that babies would ever get made or meals cooked or crops planted
or books written or what Goddamn-have-you? Do you think people
would even get out of bed in the morning if they waited
until they knew how to love?
You have had too much therapy. Or not enough. God knows
how to love, Kiddo -- the rest of us are only good actors.5
Or is it somethin' more fundamental than 'not knowin'
how ta love'? Maybe I'm like Momma, and what I'm really scared
of is bein' betrayed...
She was brought out of her reverie by the beeping of the
microwave announcing her dinner was ready. After setting her
plate on the table, she snagged the last bottle of her stash
of Mississippi Mud Black and Tan from the fridge, and sat
down to eat.
Is it a fear of bein' betrayed by someone I love? Lord
knows that would make sense ... but somehow, Ah don' think
that's it, not really. Or at least not directly ... so what
Abandoning her train of thought for the moment, she concentrated
on her dinner. The food was delicious, as per Remy's usual
standard -- and the cold beer was just enough to cut and complement
the heat of the spices. Good, home-cooked meals were something
Rogue had come to appreciate immediately after Raven and Irene
adopted her. There was something about such a meal that spoke
to an elemental part of the soul -- and it said 'love'.
When Irene had taught her how to cook, she had told Rogue
that love was always the secret ingredient that made a good
Rogue smiled, remembering her early days with her foster
family. It had taken a lot of getting used to -- but then,
so did getting out of any kind of prison. They had been so
patient with her, giving her the time she needed to learn
to trust again, even though she had had her setbacks from
time to time...
In a flash of memory, she recalled the first time Raven had
left her and Irene while on a mission for a few days. Rogue
had been frantic. Despite reassurances from both her parents
to the contrary, she had been convinced that Mystique's departure
was somehow her fault, that she had done something wrong to
drive her mother away. While Raven was gone, Rogue had stuck
to Irene like a limpet, terrified that Destiny would leave
her, too -- that she would be left alone, like Mother had
left her alone.
Of all the things Mother had done to her -- that had been
the worst. She had taken the beatings, the wounding words
-- but at least Mother had noticed she was there. It wasn't
like being locked up by yourself in an empty house, with nobody
to know if you lived or died...
Maybe that was it.
She wasn't afraid of being betrayed -- she was afraid of
being left alone.
She took a long swallow of her beer, and closed her eyes
Lord, Ah hate rememberin' this ... an' Ah don't want to.
Damn it, I lived through it once, and that was more 'n enough
-- I am not that scared little girl any more. she
So why did she insist upon acting like one? Although she
was capable enough with concrete problems, facing them head-on,
whenever she had a personal crisis the first thing she did
No big surprise -- that's the one thing livin' with Mother
taught me ta do. It was safer that way...
And so here she was, back to playing it safe...
Thing is, like Momma always said -- playin' it safe ain't
always the same thing as playin' it smart. So which is it
Can I soften to love, with full knowledge of the suffering
I welcome in?6
That was the question -- if only she knew what her answer
was. She had seen and borne a lifetime's worth of suffering
before she was out of her childhood -- she didn't know if
she could bear any more.
Her meal finished, Rogue placed the dishes in the sink, and
returned to her room. Taking up the book again, she settled
herself on her bed and resumed her reading.
She didn't even know how to find her answers. But just maybe,
the Ya-Yas could give her an idea of where to start looking...
It was very late -- or very early -- when Rogue finally laid
the book down. Although she was smiling, tears streaked her
face, and she reached again for the large linen handkerchief
on her night table to wipe them away. Slowly, she got up,
and walked to her closet.
She knew where to look for her answers now.
Reaching in to one of the far corners of the closet floor,
Rogue retrieved a large box. She removed the lid, pulling
out a thick, leather-bound album. Then she went to her desk,
and picked up a framed picture, being careful not to look
at it. She had looked at it thousands of times before, but
never in the way she was going to now.
She sat on her bed, and laid the picture face down beside
her, then opened the album on her lap.
Here were pictures from some of the happiest days of her
life, taken when she was a child, after Irene and Raven had
given her a home and family. The album was one of the few
things she had taken with her when she had left the Brotherhood.
Rogue leafed through the book, pausing briefly at some pages.
She knew what she was looking for -- it was only a matter
of finding it.
At last, she stopped at one picture. It had been taken not
long after her first anniversary as a Darkholme -- her "rebirthday",
as Irene had christened it. Her parents had pulled out all
the stops to celebrate, and among the many gifts she had received
was her first bicycle. Raven had spent hours with Rogue, teaching
her how to ride it and care for it, and watching her carefully
as she rode around the outside of the house.
It wasn't too long after that when the big day arrived --
the day the training wheels came off. Rogue had been excited
and anxious -- could she do it ? Would she fall?
She didn't -- and her Momma had been ready with her camera
when Rogue made her first circuit around the property by herself
on her new bike.
Rogue studied the picture -- particularly her expression.
Eyes laughing, cheeks flushed with triumph, her younger self
smiled back at her brilliantly.
It was the smile of a girl with her own longings,
her own pleasures. It was a smile smiled for no one else.7
It's all in that smile...
After all she had been through earlier in her life, she had
thought that smile had been lost to her forever -- but Irene
and Raven had changed that. Because of the care they had given
her, she smiled again because she wanted to, not because
she had to, like a trained dog on cue...
Irene and Raven had given her back that real smile. She had
never fully realized the magnitude of that gift before...
Can you reclaim that free-girl smile, or is
it like virginity -- once you lose it, that's it? 8
Looking at the picture, she knew the answer to that question.
"Oh, Reenie, Momma -- Ah don't think Ah ever even said thank-you,"
She looked at the picture for a few moments more before she
reached for the framed photograph that was face down beside
her. Taking a steadying breath, she paused, then picked it
up, holding it in front of her.
It was of herself and Remy, sitting on the back porch of
the mansion. It had been taken late on a summer afternoon
a few weeks after their first real -- and uninterrupted --
date, on one of the rare days off the team enjoyed from time
to time. As usual, the day had been spent in playing sports,
eating barbecue, and simple relaxation. After stuffing themselves
with a late lunch, the teammates had broken up into smaller
groups to while away the rest of the afternoon.
Jean was the one who had snapped the picture, with neither
Rogue nor Remy realizing she was there. The two of them were
just sitting together, Remy with his arm loosely about her
shoulders. He was leaning close to her to say something as
she looked off into the distance, and she was smiling. As
in the other picture, it was that smile that drew closer attention...
"She's smiling that smile they smile before
they grow bosoms," Teensy said.
"The kind you smile for yourself, not the guy with the Goddamn
camera," Caro said. 9
She had reclaimed that smile not once, but twice. She had
lost it too early, when she was robbed of her childhood by
her birth mother, but she had gotten it back with the help
of her foster family. Then she had lost it again at the normal
time -- when she had ceased to be a child and started becoming
Remy had brought it back.
Her vision grew blurry with welling tears as she set the
picture and the album on her night table, and she reached
for her handkerchief again.
Who would have thought that a little thing like a smile
could tell ya so much when you really look at it?
She knew what she needed to do now -- she just had to figure
out how to do it.
Suddenly aware of how tired she was, she decided to put off
a plan of action until she had gotten some sleep.
One thing's foh sure, though -- my shopping ain't done
That thought was the last on her mind before she finally
Despite having been up late the night before, Rogue still
woke at her usual hour on Christmas morning, but she wasn't
tired -- nervous and elated, but not tired.
Elated, because on Christmas Eve, she had successfully approached
her mother -- and she and Mystique had made a lot of progress
in mending their damaged relationship.
Rogue hadn't known what to expect when she arrived at Raven's
safehouse -- she only knew that if she passed up this opportunity,
it would haunt her forever. It was only by chance that she
even knew about the New York apartment that her mother had
kept as an inner sanctum. And since both Kitty and Rogue now
knew of it, it was no longer secure. As such, it was only
a matter of time before Mystique would clear out of the apartment
for good, leaving no way for Rogue -- or anyone else -- to
Luck had been with the southerner -- Mystique was just finishing
up her packing, planning to move out that night, when Rogue
had arrived. After their first awkward exchange, she had taken
the plunge and explained why she was there -- it was Christmas
Eve, after all...
"An' I was wonderin' if we could spend it together. Reenie
always said it was a time foh family -- an' this is the first
one Ah ever belonged to. I haven't forgotten that, Momma --
an' I don't want to. You an' Reenie gave me a life that was
worth livin'. She might be gone, but you're still here --
Ah was hopin' we could make up foh lost time, that is, if
ya want to..." a
To her relief and delight, Raven had said yes.
They had repaired to an intimate little coffee house not
far off, and they had spoken of many things -- of Irene most
of all. When Destiny was killed, the two of them had never
had a chance to talk about it -- or grieve together. But on
Christmas Eve, more than three years after the death of Irene
Adler, Rogue and Raven had managed to come together to remember
the remarkable woman who had meant so much to them both --
and that had opened the door for them to discuss other things.
Rogue knew that they would never fully regain the ease their
relationship had enjoyed in her childhood -- but last night
had been a huge step forward.
Now if only her luck would hold when she spoke to Remy ...
Well, sittin' here ain' gonna help any in finding out.
she thought dryly.
Getting out of bed, she put on her slippers and padded over
to her closet. She reached for her robe, paused briefly, then
rifled through her hangers until she found what she wanted.
The kimono had been a past Christmas present from Remy that
she loved, but had seldom worn, considering it too good for
But then, this ain't every day...
Cut of the finest quality silk, the garment was a pale jade
green in colour, with a delicate pattern of white cranes that
had been painstakingly hand-painted onto the fabric. She slipped
it on over the long white T-shirt that served her as a nightgown,
fastening the ties at the sides, and carefully tying the wide
belt around her waist. Finishing that, she looked herself
over in the mirror.
It does look good on me -- an' it's definitely
an elegant enough look foh gloves, at least. she thought
wistfully, as she selected a pair from her drawer to match.
But I am not gonna dwell on that now -- not when
I'm gonna have better things ta dwell on ... Ah hope...
She picked up the card and small, gift-wrapped package she
had left on her vanity the night before, slipping them into
one of the deep pockets of the kimono, just as there was a
loud rap at the door.
She had just turned to see who it was when a head poked through
the door -- literally -- making her start.
"Lord, gal! Ya know Ah never got used to you doin' that before
you left foh England -- what makes ya think it'd be any different
now?" she asked, her voice scolding and chuckling at the same
Kitty Pryde grinned as she replied, phasing through the door
completely as she walked inside.
"Who said I thought it would be? Wow -- you look great! Where
did you get that?" she asked admiringly.
"It was a present awhile back -- seein' as it's Christmas,
Ah thought Ah might as well get a little gussied up," Rogue
"Sure, and make everyone else look bad," Kitty joked, gesturing
to the flannel robe she wore over the old set of sweats she
had fallen asleep in the night before.
"Maybe jus' the ones who were busy doin' a complete systems
overhaul until God-knows-when," Rogue teased, "Besides, you
can get me back at New Year's, seein' as I doubt you'll wait
'til next Hanukkah. What did ya want, sugah?"
"I just wanted to ask if you were ready to come down for
breakfast -- I think the party's about to get started."
"Right with you, hon..."
Rogue pulled on her gloves and followed Kitty out the door.
Here goes everythin'...
Rogue was getting anxious -- breakfast was almost over, and
Remy had yet to make an appearance. She had hoped to have
an opportunity to talk to him privately, but once the gift-giving
started, she wouldn't have another chance for hours -- and
she was tired of waiting.
Like Ah wasn't already nervous enough -- an' this would
have ta be the one day the man's ever been late foh a meal
in his life...
"Has anyone seen Remy?" Scott asked with a frown, "We can't
just start without him..."
"Kid got in pretty late last night," Logan said, "He's probably
still sleepin' it off."
"And we all know how he loves his sleep," muttered Henry,
remembering a time when he had tried to wake the Cajun early
and immediately discovered the gravity of his mistake.
Seizing the opportunity, Rogue piped up.
"Ah'll get him -- after all, bein' invulnerable might come
"Good point," Scott chuckled, "Go on -- we'll wait for both
"Do we have to?"
"Yes, Bobby, we do. Try to hurry up, Rogue -- there's only
so much of his whining the rest of us can take," Scott said
with a grin.
"I do not whine! I just..."
Leaving the ruckus behind, Rogue flew through the corridors
of the mansion until she found herself outside Remy's room.
She lighted on the floor, and taking a deep breath, rapped
on the door.
She tried again, louder this time, but there wasn't so much
as a sleepily mumbled curse from inside.
All right -- so it's the direct approach after all...
She rapped the door once more as she opened it, and called
"Remy? Sugah, everyone's waitin' on you..."
As she peered in, she immediately noticed two things -- he
wasn't in bed, and the room was freezing. Growing alarmed,
she strode inside -- and that's when she saw him standing
at the open window, clad only in a pair of pajama bottoms.
Her entrance broke him out of his reverie, and he turned to
look at her.
"Remy, have ya lost your mind?! You're gonna catch yoh death!"
she scolded, then cringed inwardly as she realized what she
had just said.
Think about what you say, gal, an' hopefully, you'll be
able ta walk out of here on the foot you didn't put in yoh
She flew toward him, seizing his robe from the foot of his
bed as she did so, noting that the chair which should have
been at his desk had been moved. She draped the robe over
his shoulders, and as she landed, closed the window. Fresh
tracks led to the perimeter wall from the ground below --
and there were signs underneath them of an earlier set from
the other direction. Someone had been here.
Remy still said nothing, his face masklike, anticipating
the hurt, angry questions to come. And maybe at one time,
she would have asked them -- but not now. His face was haggard
-- from his appearance, it was doubtful he'd gotten any sleep
during the night -- and his eyes were red-rimmed.
Forget love -- try good manners.10
With an effort she squashed her rising mistrust -- and did
what any well-mannered person would do when presented with
someone who was clearly upset.
She reached up, cupping his cheek with one gloved hand.
"Dahlin', are you all right?" she asked gently.
Although taken aback by her unexpected reaction, Remy managed
to find his voice.
"Wish I knew, chère," he replied hoarsely.
"Then let me rephrase that -- are ya going ta be all right?"
she asked, dropping her hand from his face to his shoulder.
Remy gave her a fleeting smile.
"Once I get a chance t' get a handle on what my Poppa jus'
tol' me -- maybe." b
"Can Ah help?"
He smiled again, like he meant it this time, and raising
her hand from his shoulder to his lips, he kissed her fingers.
"Y' already have, cherie -- you already have."
Reluctantly, he released her hand.
"'Spose we should get downstairs 'fore we miss the party,
Her nerves returned with a vengeance, but she managed to
quell them before she spoke, and was rather proud of the fact
that she was able to keep her voice steady when she did.
"In a minute -- Ah have somethin' for ya first."
"Was hopin' you'd say dat," he grinned as he sat on his bed,
taking in and enjoying the sight of her wearing his gift.
"Down, boy," Rogue said severely, though she was barely successful
in stifling her own grin.
Reaching into her pocket, she withdrew both the card and
the small box, and held them out to him.
"Merry Christmas, Remy."
He received them with a broad smile, and setting the card
down, he proceeded to make short work of the giftwrapping
on the box. Lifting the lid, he found a tiny vial, less than
an inch and a half long, which held some clear liquid. The
vial itself was made of glass set into a gold framework, and
a tiny cabochon ruby was set into its lid. Remy immediately
recognized it for what it was -- a lachrymatory. In Victorian
times and earlier, a tiny container of tears had been a common
love gift, symbolizing the willingness to share all life had
to offer with one's object of affection -- sorrow as well
Very slowly, he placed the lid back on the box, and set it
carefully on his nightstand. When he looked up at her, his
eyes were shining, and his voice was husky when he was finally
able to speak.
"Chère, I don'..."
"Ya ain't done yet, sugah," she interrupted, "Read the card."
Wordlessly, he obeyed.
It was a simple card, with no Christmas theme to speak of
-- on the cover there was only a quotation from Henri Nouwen:
Forgiveness is the name of love practiced
among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all of
us love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day,
every hour -- unceasingly. That is the great work of love
among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.11
Opening the card, he read the brief note she had written
-- and found that she had left him another gift.
Rogue watched him anxiously as he read the card, not sure
how he was going to react. She had thought long and hard about
her decision, and even after she had made up her mind, she
almost didn't go through with it. But at last, she faced her
fears, and at the end of the message, she had signed her name
-- her real name -- and sealed the envelope before she could
change her mind again. Rogue didn't trust easily -- she never
had -- but if complete trust was what she wanted from Remy,
she had to be willing to give her own, completely.
When his red eyes finally met hers, any lingering insecurities
she might have had about revealing herself to him in this
way vanished. The smile that lit his face was instantly recognizable
to her, given her recent study on the subject. It was the
same one she had seen in her pictures only a couple of weeks
Sometimes lost treasures can be reclaimed.12
Putting the card down, he took her hands in his, bringing
them to his lips for a kiss -- then he surprised her by drawing
her down onto his lap, hugging her tightly. She was a little
stiff at first, worried about making contact with his skin,
but then allowed herself to relax and enjoy the sensation
of being held by him. After all, she had her gloves, and the
kimono was floor length and long sleeved -- he was as safe
from her as he could be...
That would be another obstacle, for another time, she resolved
-- and they would pass it. Together, they would find a way.
Remy had given her that promise once before, but she hadn't
been ready to accept it then. To do so would have meant giving
her trust, and accepting the possibility of getting hurt --
and the injured child within her had balked at that.
If you want to receive, ya have to be willing ta give
too -- and Christmas is a time for givin', after all.
Very soon, they would have to go down and join the others.
But as Remy whispered into her ear, she leaned back against
him and smiled, placing her hands on his.
Soon -- but not just yet.
a. This is taken from my Mystique Christmas
story, "A Time for Family."
b. The situation takes place following
the events in my Gambit Christmas story, A
Time for Homecoming.
1. X-Men issue #94.
All other notes, with the exception of
11 (a quotation which appears before the prologue of the novel)
are taken from the pages of Rebecca Wells' Divine Secrets
of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, which was published in 1996.
It came up as a selection in the book club to which I belong,
and now ranks among my favorite books.
Thanks go to Faith Barnett and Dandelion
for their beta-reading -- and I have to thank Kielle, as well.
Without her CFAN Christmas fic project for 1999, I probably
wouldn't have gotten the idea to write this story.
"Be as hard as the world forces you to be --
and be as soft as the world allows you to be."
-- Sensei Chuck Merriman
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