Chapter 7: Bliss
Where there is great love, there
will always be miracles.
- Willa Cather, 'Death Comes to the Archbishop'
"So, when we movin chere?"
"Goodness, ah don' know. Ah jus decided this last night.
Soon as we find ah place ah guess."
"Maybe we should look for jobs first, neh?"
"Yoah goin tah get ah job too? This aught tah be interestin."
"Ya might be surprised. I got a few back up options."
She glanced at the smug look on his face. Why, the slimy
devil. He already knew what he was going to do. Here she was
making the biggest decision of her life, thinking how drastic
a change this was going to be for the both of them, and the
sneak had an ace up his sleeve. Well it darn well better be
a legitimate job, or he was going to find out just how pushy
this broad could get.
She wondered what he had in mind. Truthfully, he knew her
better than to believe she'd accept him getting an illegal
job for this part of their life. The whole point of this was
to be somewhat normal; so she didn't really worry about that.
And though she knew he sometimes walked the line and kept
up with his shady contacts to gather and swap information
to help the X-Men's cause, it was no more than Wolverine did.
The X-Men and the humans and mutants Remy helped on the other
side needed him. He was one of the few people they had that
was respected in that seedy world hidden right below the surface
of their own.
Rogue suddenly shivered. A few vague images she'd been able
to tap into from Remy's early childhood flashed in her mind.
Pain, hunger, survival. Before the kiss, she could never have
imagined how cold and predatory his early years had been.
It made her thankful for even her mother. For Mystique. At
least she'd never been beaten or left alone so young. She
admired him all the more for being able to keep a core of
warmth and gentleness deep inside him despite it all. It was
that strength she loved.
Remy felt her shiver and held her tighter.
"Ya cold p'tite?"
She leaned into his embrace.
"No. Ah've nevah been warmer than right heah in yoah
embrace. Ah don' evah want tah leave it."
He smiled wishing he could hold her closer still but that
type of warmth was denied them. The intimacy was in their
hearts and though he might wish for better, this was more
than enough for him.
She moved her head cradle it in his shoulder. He could smell
the warm soft scent of magnolias that always permeated the
air around her. She sighed contentedly.
"Remy, now that we've decided tah try again, theah's
one othath thing ah've been thinkin about."
Remy cocked an eyebrow. "An dat is?"
Rogue insistently removed herself from his embrace since
he seemed reluctant to let her go. Then went over to the chair
she had been in and began fishing in her purse finally pulling
out a black circular ring about six inches around. She walked
back over to him and held it up.
Remy's eyes narrowed. It looked familiar.
"Dat looks a lot like a suppression collar chere."
"A modified version ah picked up at thah airport on
mah first stop this mornin. Ah asked Kurt tah send it ovah
from Excalibur. Ah thought ... well, that yah could fix thah
lock so ah could wear it some of thah time."
He picked it up eyeing the mechanism and lock carefully.
"Since ya never mentioned it an' had never considered
usin one before, I assumed ya didn't want ta be trapped by
one. An' I don' really like dese t'ings, specially on you.
Anyone o' us is more vulnerable wearin one. What if we got
attacked an' ya didn't have time ta get it off?"
"Ah know. That's one ah the reasons ah nevah used one
befoah. Ah might not have been able tah help someone, help
thah team. But ... thah main reason was, ah was scared. Ah
could always hide behind mah power tah keep me protected so
ah couldn't be hurt emotionally. Nobody would really care
foah me an' so ah couldn't be hurt or hurt them in return.
But yah changed all that. Yah showed me mah power was as much
ah crutch as ah curse. An' ah'm not gonna run anymore. Ah
love yah Remy. Ah trust yah an' ah want tah be wit yah. Yah've
risked so much foah me. It's about time ah met yah halfway.
Cyclops uses his visor. Ah diabetic uses insulin. Theah are
sideffects but it's bettah than usin nuthin at all. How's
this any different foah improving mah life?"
"I'm not goin ta lie an' say I don' want ta be wit you,
but ya don' have ta do dis for me, chere. I love ya no matter
what. Sides, I still don' be likin it much. It's dangerous
"Then we'll have tah be real careful. But ah'm doin
this foah me. Ah'm tired o' not tryin things. Ah'm not gonna
let mah powers control life anymore. We'll find ah way around
them until ah can control it. An' ah am goin tah learn tah
control it. Ah am. Until then, we'll try this an' anythin
else that might work. Joseph's worked on this Z'Noxx chamber
o' thah professah's that may protect someone else from mah
"Uh huh. He showed it to me at Christmas. I want Hank
tah run some tests first though. I trust Joseph but somethin
he said about how it worked set off bells in mah head. Something
ah'm afraid he missed. Hank an' ah were gonna test it, but
he's had his hands full wit thah Legacy Virus. Hopefully,
we'll get ah chance in the next week or so. Right now, this
will be fine, really."
"Mmmhmm. Besides," she grinned "It's gonna
save us money when we move intah thah new place."
Now she really smirked and placed a hand on his chest. "This
way we'll only need tah buy one bed."
Remy grinned back. "I love a woman wit a head for finances."
It didn't take Gambit long to disengage the lock. He was
one of the best after all. Then he stood up and handed it
Rogue took it gingerly and snapped it open and closed a few
times. She finally placed it around her neck. It's click echoing
in the room. Rogue felt a brief tingle. Then the air seemed
to go stagnant with the significance of moment as if the world
was holding her breath for them.
Rogue held out her hand to him, and he bent his head to kiss
the gloved digits. She blushed thinking it was like a fairytale
as he then pulled her to him wrapping her in a strong embrace.
She pushed against him to get a purchase of her own suddenly
realizing with a bit of shock how little strength she normally
had. But that didn't matter as his head lowered to hers, all
she could see was the love shining in his eyes and no fear
could live long in it's brightness.
Their lips touched, and the world changed forever.
Gasping, they broke from the kiss they didn't want to end.
"Mon amour." He breathed heavily. "I ... I
need to tell you..."
"Remy,... no,... please." She panted clinging to
him and staring into his eyes. "Ah have somethin first
"Mah name ... Mah name is Solitaire."
Remy blinked. "Solitaire?"
A single gem. Beautiful in its own right. It fit her
"Solitaire Rose McKenna." Rogue sighed. "Ah
lonely game ah cards ... Mah mother said she named me that
since because o' me, she was all alone. An that's all ah'd
evah be too. I've hated it all mah life."
Remy hugged her tighter to him kissing her forehead.
"She was wrong. About everythin. She had you, only she
couldn't see dat. An I love de name."
"Non. It's beautiful. A single gem. Jus like you."
She looked surprised. Then smiled.
"Ah nevah thought ah it that way."
"I'm a t'ief chere. I know a valuable gem when I see
one. Sides," he smirked. "as for de card implication.
I love playing solitaire."
She gave him an impudent sidelong look. "Oh, ah jus
knew yah were going tah say that. Jus mah luck tah fall in
love wit a card sharp. I'll nevah live it down."
"It can be our secret den. Rose McKenna's a lovely name
"No. Ah might as well get it all out. Ah am going tah
have tah have a normal name tah get ah job. An' Rose was mah
mama's name. It nevah felt right tah me ... But can' yah hear
Logan though? ... Solitaire McKenna? That's it? It took you
years to tell us that? What's thah big deal? Women."
Remy laughed at Rogue's impression. She even did a pretty
good Wolverine snort at the end.
"Dis from a man wit only one name? If nuthin else dis
place is always amusin."
They smiled together. Then Remy took a deep breath.
"Chere, there is somethin I need to confess too..."
She reached up and grabbed him to pull his head back down
for another kiss. Their lips inches apart.
"Later... please. Right now this is all ah want to know.
We'll both talk tah thah whole group ... later."
Downstairs in the war room some time thereafter...
"You mean Onslaught was continually messin wit our heads?"
Wolverine growled unhappy with what he had been hearing.
"Unfortunately yes." Jean sighed. "He was
trying to tear away at our greatest assets. Our cooperation,
organization, concern for each other. Our confidence in ourselves
and our trust in one another. The last psionic influencer
I found was steadily telling each of us to only trust ourselves
and pointing out each other's faults. He wanted us defeated
mentally as well as physically so if some of us did escape,
we'd never organize against him again."
Scott nodded. "But it didn't work. We're still together."
Jean looked sad. Just like Ororo and Hank, who seemed to
understand better than her husband.
"Yes and no, my love. We were strong. Strong enough
to stay together and stand up to him, but he suspected we
might be. He still did it anyway because that doesn't mean
we weren't affected, that he might not still plant a seed
of slow destruction even if he failed to defeat us outright.
The X-Men may have yet lost something. I guess you could consider
it Onslaught's revenge."
"And that would be, Jeannie?" Looking around the
room at the people there, Logan suddenly had an eerie feeling
he knew what was coming.
"Our family." Jean said. "Onslaught hoped
that no matter what, our distrust of one another would drive
unreparable wedges between us. Either to aid him in his quest
or to get his revenge on us later ... Warren, why didn't you
or Betsy come to any of us or each other about your changes?
We're your friends. We cared once."
Archangel and Psylocke looked stunned as if they had never
considered the idea.
"I didn't think... didn't know.. ."
"Don't worry Warren. That's what the subliminal messages
were telling you. To distrust. Just a little. Like Wolverine
suddenly living outside the mansion. We all tended to react
with suspicion against everything, even the people we know
and much more so against the ones we don't. And unfortunately
there is no real way to know have much of what we felt was
normal human nature and how much we were influenced by these
suggestions. Most of our reactions were a combination of both.
And since people naturally are more suspicious of the unknown
I'm ... afraid not only have we not been there for one another
as much as we should have but we may have driven off one of
our own because of this."
Psylocke looked puzzled. "No one has left Jean. I don't
see the problem."
"Betsy, when was the last time you saw Gambit? When
was the last time any of us saw Gambit? It hadn't occured
to me either, until I learned Onslaught's intentions, but
Remy's been slowly withdrawing from the group since all this
started. Remember how much of an upbeat charmer he use to
be? What happened to that? Luckily, I scanned for him using
Cerebro, which is the only way to vaguely track him, and he
is hanging around the area, ... for the moment. The fights
with Rogue, the underlying distrust we've been giving off.
I just found out Gambit's a full blown empath. Empaths are
very sensitive to the emotional energy around them, even the
emotions not directed solely at them. And if our general feelings
of isolation weren't enough, whether intentionally or not,
for months now, we've all been continually telling Gambit
how untrustworthy he is. It's lucky he hasn't cracked and
proved us right.
"I don't buy that," Scott addressed his wife, "Gambit's
the one who hasn't been open with us not the other way around."
"But that's the point Scott. Why would he be open with
a bunch of people who've mistrusted him without a reason?
He's never let us down, and considering Wolverine's, Rogue's,
Archangel's, and Joseph's pasts, why does it matter? We don't
know everything about them. What's so different about Gambit?
But based on our actions, what do you think he thinks we'll
do if we have a reason to dislike him? The same as Rogue?
She took off while he was in a coma. It doesn't bring up a
whole lot of confidence in the rest of us when the person
who says they love you can't stick by you at least until you're
well. Trust me if someone ever did that to me
there'd be hell to pay. Gambit was damn forgiving if you ask
"You know that would never happen between us."
"Scott, if it could happen to Gambit, it could happen
to the rest of us. It did on a smaller scale look at Archangel
and Psylocke. They didn't trust us either. None of us is perfect.
As for Remy, with the exception of Storm, who could he say
for sure would be there to back him up? Where were we? I can't
remember a time when one of us was injured as bad as Gambit,
and we weren't trying everything we could. Weren't worried.
You would have never know from the way we acted that we even
had an injured member. Onslaught, the Professor, wanted Gambit
out of commission. He considered him the most unpredictable
of us because he'd been able to hide how powerful an empath
he was. And we played right along."
"Oh god." Betsy suddenly sobbed. "How could
I have done that?"
Warren looked at her sympathetically. "Don't worry Betts,
we're all as guilty."
"No." she choked. "No you aren't ... I ...
I invaded Gambit's mind right after he woke up because something
made me suspicious."
There was a small gasp in the room but Jean touched Betsy
"It was Onslaught, Betsy. I could have been the one
to have done it as easily as you. Don't eat yourself up."
"Goddess. Remy must have felt totally abandoned."
Wolverine growled. "Wish there was a way to make Onslaught
pay for this. You think some of Gambit's and Rogue's problems
are partially his fault too, don' ya, Jeannie? That's why
Rogue ain't here."
"Yes. She couldn't have been less affected than the
rest of us, and she had strong feelings for him. She must
have been utterly confused. No wonder she ran off."
Surprisingly, Joseph spoke. "There is no use feeling
guilt now over some things you may not have been able to totally
control. The question that needs to be answered is the damage
irreparable? And if not, where to start. Rogue and I are...
best of friends, and it is obvious from my talk with her this
morning she still loves him. Besides, I am ... finding a bit
of kinship with Gambit. I was not here for this. Perhaps I
could talk to them."
"No. I don't think telling Gambit Onslaught used our
distrust of him as a weapon would be best right yet. Remy
may not see this clearly since it concerns him. It may only
verify to him that none of us trust him at all. That may be
all it takes."
Bishop nodded. "The fact is, even without Onslaught's
manipulations, some of us don't fully trust Gambit. Suddenly
acting like we do will not be believable to Gambit, especially
if he is as powerful an empath as you say."
"True." Jean smiled. "I'm not asking anyone
to fake it. Just give the man the same consideration you would
someone else.We've been better to our enemies. It would be
nice though if everyone could be a touch upbeat around him
for awhile. If he doesn't come out of this depression, he
may leave anyway. Then we'll never know if it was our fault
"And Rogue, darlin?"
"I'll talk to her. They do have real obstacles to overcome.
Every couple does, and them more than most, but Rogue needs
to know she may need to reconsider her feelings. Think it
through. Whatever she decides this time will less likely to
be influenced by anyone but herself. She does need to stay
away from Gambit though. I suspect the reason we've gotten
harder and harder on him is that not only did Onslaught keep
telling us to mistrust everyone, but as the emotional dislike
built, Remy himself may have unconsciously been reflecting
that back at us with his powers as he became more and more
depressed with himself. It was a vicious cycle that's been
Storm smiled. "And if Gambit had been the Hellion's
Empath he would have made us like him instead. That alone
should prove he has not been trying to mislead us. And he
could have easily just made Rogue love him, as well, could
he not? But he let her walk away instead. Remy has always
continually surprised me with his ability to be gracious at
the times when he has every right to be hurt."
Jean smiled. "And now it's our chance to return the
Remy hugged Rogue to him, happy. Truly happy for the first
time in his life. This hadn't started out as something they
had decided to do right his moment exactly. He thought they'd
work up to it, but it ... well ... happened. It was almost
like once they touched, once they breathed their souls into
each other, they couldn't just stop there. All the pent-up
desire and frustration boiled over and swept them away.
Girl should have kept her hands to herself if she had
wanted him to keep his cool.
Rogue stretched and purred rubbing her hand over his chest.
She loved his masculine scent and breathed it in hungrily
. She had dreamed of this moment from the minute they first
truly looked into each other's eyes, but none of her fantasies
were as wonderful as this experience. Her first time jitters
quickly dissipated with a gentle touch, and their lovemaking
was even more exhilarating and breathtaking than anything
in those wild dreams. The love surrounded and filled her.
No one could ask for more. She'd never been happier.
Logan stomped up the stairs in his usual determined and heavy-footed
way. Beers? Pool? Cards? Need to be something that sounded
natural or he'd smell a pity party a mile off. No one had
ever said Gumbo was easy to fool. He rounded the corner and
stopped dead in his tracks. Slower and less loudly he walked
up to Gambit's door.
"What is this? Let's hang out in front of his door day?"
The group looked a bit chagrined.
"After the recent divulgences, it seemed most proper
and punctilious of us..."
"What Beast is tryin tah say is ah few us thought..."
Storm chuckled quietly glancing over the group. "I came
to cheer Remy up. I would assume since the rest of you have
all managed to arrive almost at the exact same time, there
is a concerted effort to do the same?"
There were some embarrassed affirmatives while Bishop shrugged
meekly. "He has been ... 'helpful' at times."
Jean tried not to laugh holding to Scott who looked like
he would rather be somewhere, anywhere, else. "So much
for subtle, huh, Ororo?"
"Subtle?" Wolverine snorted as quietly as he could
so as not to alert Gambit. He was surprised that the Cajun
hadn't already yanked the door open. He usually picked up
on these things. Kid must be more depressed than he thought.
He wrinkled up his nose, not wanting to pick up a scent of
pain. He didn't want to know how much Gambit could be hurting
because of this. "You ever think of hiring a band too?"
Storm smiled and reached for the door. "I hope he is
in. Perhaps we should ..."
"Oh please!" Wolverine snorted. "Quit pussy-footin
around. We're here to eat crow, let's eat it."
"Hey Cajun!" Logan whammed on the door three times
and then threw it open barging right in with the rest on his
heels. 'Go way' was grumbled none too nicely at about the
Of course, that was polite compared to the shriek that assaulted
their ears seconds later.
"Oh my!" "Oops!" "Rogue?" "Oh
my stars and garters!" "Pardon us." "Help."
"Thank god Jubilee's not here."
Living together in such close quarters, it was bound to happen
to someone sooner or later. Letting out a scream loud enough
to wake the dead, and grabbing at every cover in sight, Rogue
certainly wished it had been later ... and most definitely
someone else. Why, why, why? Why did it have to be her? Them?
On this special occasion? She'd been a good little girl. Really
she had, even if she hadn't wanted to. The odds of it being
her had been absolutely nil up until a few hours ago. She
turned beet red, embarrassed and angry, just knowing some
fate-like deity was laughing their ass off.
"Ya pardon mes amis, which part o'... Go Away ... DIDN'T
Amused and trying not to look like it, Logan noticed that
despite the totally embarrassing circumstances and the fact
that Rogue had grabbed most of the sheets to cover herself,
Gambit leaned back against the headboard and managed to look
for the most part unperturbed and dignified. Certainly more
so than most of the dumbstruck goldfish gaping X-Men staring
at him. Logan would bet dollars to donuts this wasn't the
first time the Cajun had been caught flagrante delicto as
it were or in this case, right after the fact. Logan grinned.
He had odds on a jealous boyfriend or husband. Having been
there himself, he knew this was barely an annoyance in comparison.
"HOW DARE YAH!!! DON' ANYBODY ROUND HERE KNOW HOW TAH
Rogue had found her tongue and her temper. She threw a pillow
at the lot of them. If she had her strength it could have
been dangerous, pillow or no, but as it was, it whacked right
into Bishop's face with a poof sound. She was on her knees
clutching the sheets at her throat while Remy looked on vastly
The pillow pretty much woke everyone up, and they scrambled
nearly over one another to get through the door. Wolverine
was last and couldn't help himself.
The pillow caught him in the back of the head with a fair
amount of force. She had a heck of an arm on her, powers or
no. He'd bet the Cajun had been giving her lessons hitting
a moving target too.
Rogue jumped off the bed, sheets and all, grabbed the pillow
at the door, slamming it with force. She looked disheveled
and wild. Her green eyes flashing. Remy thought she was beautiful.
He followed her across the room picking up the pillow on
the floor and taking the one from her to throw them both back
on the bed.
"Ah can't believe it." she sniffed. "Tahday
o' all days. It was suppose tah be magic."
Remy smiled. "It was magic, Chere. Is magic. Dis jus
makes even de quiet minutes completely unforgettable as well,
She giggled slightly and leaned into him. "Ah suppose.
But why is it this sorta stuff only happens tah us? Why don'
it evah happen tah Scott an' Jean?"
"Dat's easy. If it ever be happenin ta Scott, he'd die
o' embarrassment, an' we'd have no fearless leader no more."
Rogue relaxed and really started laughing. "Ain't that
"Sides," he smirked, "it coulda been worse."
"How could it have possibly been worse?"
"Easy." He grabbed her up and carried her to the
bed lying both of them down and burying his face in her neck.
"Dey could have come in while we were doing ... dis."
The group could hear the laughing half way down the hall.
"Nice to know they're taking it well." Logan stated
still somewhat amused.
"Ah'll say. Ah wouldn't want Miss Rogue mad at me for
Logan snorted. "Yeah, ya ain't kiddin. Rogue's got a
wicked right hook ... So Jeannie ... Depressed huh? May leave
the team any minute. Really beat up. I don' know, darlin.
Seems ta me he's made a miraculous recovery." Wolverine
grinned at her.
"Alright already." Jean sniffed. "I'm sorry.
How embarrassing. But they're both so hard to read. How was
I to know they'd made up?" She got a twinkle in her eye.
"I mean seriously made up?"
Everyone chuckled good-naturedly trying to hide their embarrassment
too. It had been one of those days. Par for the course for
the X-Men, it seemed.
"Thank the goddess things are starting to get back to
normal around here."
"It's about time." Logan snorted. "How about
we toast the happy couple with some beers at Harry's? Cyke's
Everyone broke into a run for the stairs as Cyclops screamed,
"No! Absolutely not! Logan, I'll get you for this!"
The rate at which a person can
directly proportional to the embarrassment he can tolerate.
- Doug Englebart
Concluded in the Epilogue.
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