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Claremont's Return

Stories by Ratmist

"The Responsible One"
Rogue considers her feelings for Gambit and his for her -- and resolves to let him go.

"The Irresponsible One"
Gambit considers his feelings for Rogue and hers for him -- and grieves in his feelings of aloneness.

Rogue thinks of home -- and Magneto's home, and Logan's home.


Web site: Ratmist Creations

Standard Disclaimer: Marvel characters appear here in a work of non-profit.
Rating: PG-PG/13
Notes: This one is for Oberon. Merry Christmas to you and Sarah. May yall never sleep with swords and knives. Many thanks to Crantz, the most delicious chocolate covered cricket, for the French translation.

The Irresponsible One

Waking up hurt. Every major joint ached due to the activities of the night before, far less pleasurable activities than others may have expected from him. He grimaced as a few of his bones crackled and then sighed, feeling his age in his neck. Sitting up, slouched in bed, dressed in black cotton boxers and the obligatory bad taste in his mouth, he narrowed his eyes at the alarm clock. The blurriness gave warning to the four minutes before enduring the ear-piercing screeching out of that monstrous invention. He quickly leaned over the empty left side of the bed to turn it off.

Afterwards, like a little boy, he just stayed in his position. His lanky form was twisted into half, with his torso draped over the pillow and blankets on the empty half of the bed. His legs and bare feet lay exposed, because as always, he had kicked his half of the covers down to the edge of the bed. He was pretty hairy, he noticed for a moment, then grinned.

Twisted on the bed, akwardly curled around the blankets and pillows, his grin slid to a very faint frown. He really had tried to fall and stay asleep in the middle again; sometime during the night, he had scooted over to the right side of the bed. Generous blankets, the extra pillow, which had first been placed by his side, lay close to falling off the other side of the bed. The untouched portion of the mattress attested to his night's slumber.

When she had first begun sleeping next to him, he had learned that fighting for blankets was only cute to an extent; after that, super-human strength meant she was going to have her way, if it meant he tumbled to the floor. He had adapted easily, deciding on teasing her at times with a tight pinch on that invulnerable bottom or a comment of my, how her hips were looking wide tonight from his view on the parquay. The laughter lasted for invaluable minutes, the best form of foreplay he had ever known. Orgasms were nothing in comparison to the laughter she brought from him. Another lesson of love, he thought sourly.

He grumbled. Brooding wasn't fun without a cigarette and someone to watch from the skies above the mansion's rooftops. Still, he wanted his cigarette and a shower.

He ran a tired hand through rumpled hair before he swung his legs over the bed. His side, of course.

Cursing mildly in both English and French, he made his way to the bathroom and the mirror near the shower. He stared at his reflection.

He knew it was a face that could charm into social circles, in and out of trouble, and tempt the iciest heart. His face hardened as he examined the rest of himself in the mirror. Unkempt, unshaven, and flawed only by his red on black eyes. What any woman crossing his path may have thought he lacked, he could charm into convincing themselves that he lacked for nothing. He knew how to fake it, flaunt it, and walk away. He was a gambler, one who relied on change to make the tables eventually turn his way. He was a manipulator of the highest order, so good that sometimes he found himself wanting so badly to believe in his own lies. Every difficult topic could be avoided with a smile and a drag on a cigarette, the occasional veiled threat or comment. He was even good at hiding his running; that changed when Rogue had absorbed him in their first kiss.

That had given her access to the real man behind all the ever changing masks and disguises. He had given her that kiss, hoping even then in the last moments that somehow they would find a way to live forever. He had always been a pessimistic romantic, which made sense when all his broodiness was accounted. In those last moments before yet another end of the world, which he hadn't beleived quite believed was really the end, he let it all go, laid every single card on the table. Even the cards stuffed up his sleeves.

Sometimes, in his dreams, he would see that moment reflect in her eyes. She wanted that access as badly as he wanted to give it to her, daring to be the persons they were at that frightening, small moment rather than who they wanted to one day become.

Sure, he wanted to be her mate for life. Yes, he wanted to love her for the rest of forever. More than anything, though, he remembered how badly he wanted to make that moment last, feeling the emptiness inside disappear because she had taken it from him and given him something in return.

Later, when the mess of his recovery had finished, before she had left the team, he had lain awake and wondering at his new treasure. He had thought he wouldn't have to carry the burdens alone anymore. He had given her everything he could've ever claimed to be his own; surely that proved his intentions towards her. He hadn't stolen her heart; he had given his, and it wasn't to some psuedo-Juliet character. She was real, flesh and boned, with problems and flaws and insecurities he wanted so badly to wrap around himself. They would work, because all the signs were there. It wasn't a formula, it just hummed in his body and made his body feel at peace. Was it love? He didn't know love, and he wasn't sure yet if he was capable of feeling it; he told her he'd let her know when they were playing with their grandchildren if he had truly loved.

So the first time she ran away, he forgave her. She had come back, and they had begun the too few years of life together in the Mansion. He remembered everything with the precision of a thief's abilities, and he missed the curved hips pressed against his backside at night. He could not stop the memories of how they had made love. The second time she ran away, they had resolved that together they would beat back their demons. He had a partner in the night, on the rooftops and in the cities. He was never alone, no matter how far away she was on a mission. Everything improved; he rarely drank, he ran across the edge of danger with a caution previously unknown, and he found he hung around the Mansion on days and nights he previously would've disappeared.

And then, she had just ... changed. This time, neither ran away to some distant city or into a dangerous, suicidal mission. It was just ... over. She would never come to him again, never run her hands through his hair or tuck the strands back behind his ears. She would never again steal a kiss on his forehead, brief enough to allow the most minimum of consequences. Her heart was dead, and his was slowly dying. The gifts she had given him spurred the feelings of grief so deep in his heart, he did not know how to properly acknowledge them. He took every postcard, every letter, every piece of tactile memory and placed it in a cardboard box tucked far back into an unused closet in the Mansion. He couldn't burn the contents, yet. Ever.

He stared at himself in the mirror, catching his own eye and the dangerously sad glint. He dimly remembered his decision from the drunken million nights before. Never again would he open his heart. Belladonna had practically ripped him down the middle and left the pieces wandering around aimlessly, trying to find the glue to put it all back together again. Rogue had loved him, though; he was certain of it. She had seen all there was to see of him, and had still loved him. He had known he would love her from the moment he had met her, just as well as he thought he understood the dangers. He thought Belladonna had taught him all he needed to know in gambles of the heart; this time, he had thought it was going to last. It wasn't a formula, he just thought he had known it all. He had been completely honest, laid shaking in her arms following devastating climaxes, touched the empty part of his old self with her hand in his.

And then she had just ... changed. There was no waiting for her to return because she hadn't gone anywhere. He reached deep and wrapped his thoughts in the purest of resignation. He understood now the mystery which had escaped him in the wake of his former marriage. It wasn't that he couldn't be loved; the stark reality lay in that he was now convinced he would never be loved the way he deserved. He had to believe this, or the hard-earned soul he had regained would be lost to the shadows once again. He had found filled the ache of hatred within his soul because she had loved him; he would not lose it again because she didn't love him anymore. He had to hold on to himself, or this would eat him alive and drown him in pulsing lights of a hazed unreality. He had worked too hard to remember why he was worthy of being alive; as proud as he was to have her by his side, he was as proud of himself alone now. Proud, and alone in a cold bathroom in the depths of the French Quarter and the Thieves Guild.

Looking down at the creamy porcelain of the bathroom tiles, he made himself say the quiet litany again and again, drops of clear tears plopping into the sink below.

"Dieu ... M'accordent le serenity pour recevoir les choses que ... je ne puis pas changer. Le courage de recevoir les choses je dois ... Et la sagesse savoir la différence. Dieu ... m'accordent le serenity pour recevoir les choses que je ne pius pas changer..."


the end

"...we need something to kill
the pain of all that nothing inside..."


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