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After Gambit's Return >
"Cantique Noel"

Stories in this series

Le Luth Constelle (Siryn)
Misteltoe and Diamonds (Rogue/Gambit)
A Rosary of Bone (Marrow)

'The heart has its reasons that reason cannot know'
- Pascal

Mistletoe. Or the approximation thereof, fashioned out of filigreed gold and studded with diamond-berries. Rogue traced the delicate lines of the brooch, holding it up indecisively to her neck, where the high-collared dress gave way to skin. Eschewing her traditional cloth of green, she was dressed simply in a black sheath with a chiffon overdress that melted from scarlet to gold, broken by the occasional, dark flourish of a rose. A daring outfit by her standards, Gambit thought, that left much of her arms bare, despite the obligatory elbow-high gloves. The rest of the team, who could rival Tante Mattie and her coterie when it came to gossiping, were delighted with this particular morsel. Bobby's reasons for sticking close to her had grown thinner as the evening had worn on, Wolverine had been grinning knowingly and Henry had moved into the realms of words like: 'postulate', 'posit' and 'hypothesis.'

"C'n I pin dat on f'r ya?" Remy asked casually, seeing the hesitation on her face, and berating himself again for the inappropriate nature of the present. Mistletoe, with all its connotations of fertility and sensuality. Mistletoe, under which couples kissed. He should have gotten her gloves, he thought despondantly, or soap. There had been a lovely set of magnolia-scented soap in the mail order catalog...

"Please," she grinned, "Ah'm scared o' jabbin' myself an' snappin' th' pin. Mah eyesight still ain't what it used ta be."

Taking the trinket from her, Remy eased out the pin from its latch and slipped it through the chiffon and silk, before fastening it. The fabric slipped against his fingers, but, thief-nimble, they were able to fasten the brooch without difficulty. Throughout the proceedings, Rogue had remained impossibly still, betraying her incredible self-control. The beat of her pulse and movement of her throat were the only signs that she was not an elegantly carved ice-sculpture. He stepped back to admire his handiwork, swallowing as he did so. Against the rich, fiery fabric, the gold and diamonds caught alight, burning in the hollow formed by her collar-bones. A slight, skewed smile touched her lips, her eyes were invisible behind the dark glasses.

"So? How does th' rock look?"

"Suits ya," he replied flippantly, grasping for the rags of his devil-may-care facade to cover himself, "Ya outshine it though."

Rogue laughed, diamond-brilliant, "Flattery'll get you gifts."

To his surprise, she handed him back a slender package, before walking off to rejoin Ororo and Jean's speculation on what Scott had gotten his wife for Christmas -- inevitably a household appliance, socks and/or rose-scented soaps from the famous catalog. Wrapped in prismatic, green paper and frothy with silver ribbon, it had an envelope attached to it. Not of the old school who believed that cards should be opened first, Remy pried off the sticky-tape and ribbon, acknowledging the absurd instincts that led him to disturb the condition of the gift the least but unable to defy them. Inside, a slim, leather leash was curled around an old newspaper. Untwining the two, he spread out the newspaper, finding no clue to the nature or purpose of the present within it. Perhaps this was Rogue's way of paying him back for the diving-board incident, confusion for confusion, a lesson for a lesson. Perplexed but too proud to ask her for explanation, he turned to the card. On its front, a golden labrador of excruciating cuteness and resplendant in reindeer horns wished the recipient a Happy Grr-istmas. The inside was occupied by her nigh-indecipherable scrawl and two slips of paper.

'To my personal guide-dog,
Thank you for being my eyes when I was blind -- in more ways than one -- and seeing where we should go. What path we should take. What our destination should be. Although I've had my doubts about us, I think its time to follow you, even if it is into Breakstone Lake. Can we walk our road together?
P.S. If you'd opened this first, cajun, the present would have made sense.'

Too numb to comprehend the significance of the note, he examined the enclosures. There was a letter from a Cajun restaurant confirming that reservations had been made for two, as well as a double ticket for a jazz festival happening in Central Park. He had attempted to buy one on markets of every available hue to be informed by both the snootiest of clerks and the scuzziest of felons that it was fully booked. How had she managed it?

His surprise at Rogue's skills at ticket acquisition was subsumed by a sudden realisation of what the card's message had meant. You and I. Us. We. Shocked but profoundly happy, Remy turned to find her among their friends. She and Ororo were teasing Jean about the electric can-opener with which Scott had just proudly presented her. Lifting her head from the conversation in which she was engrossed, Rogue turned to face him with a secretive smile on her face, hand touching the mistletoe at her collar.

"Can we?" she mouthed.

Wryly acknowledging the pun inherent in the word, the stem from which all meaning and action proceeded, "Oui."

1. For those of you who read 'Strangers in Paradise', the Pascal quote is the one with which the first book opens. The only one I've read to be honest, but it's good.
2. For more on Scott's inability to buy gifts, read one of last year's X-Mas stories by me - Gold.
3. I made up the sad, labrador card, but ... I've seen worse. Really.
4. Oui is pronounced 'we' for those who do not speak le francais at all, and have never seen a Warner Bros. cartoon with Pepe lePeu.
5. Continuity-wise this fits somewhere after Rogue was blinded by Strobe and X-Men #17.


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