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"Confusing the Issue"

Confusing the Issue

Warning: Adult material, explicit sexual content.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

Confusing The Issue

Part Two

By the dint of rising unnaturally early and using his thiefly skills, Gambit managed to avoid both Rogue and Joseph the next morning. He could not, however, avoid himself.

Seated in the curve of a tree, he stared up at the unnaturally bright sky -- fortunately dimmed by his sunglasses -- and wondered yet again what exactly it was that life had against him. Life wasn't fair -- he understood that. But sometime the luck had to break his way. Didn't it? The percentage was on the side of the house, but there was such a thing as luck, wasn't there?

A stupid question to ask yourself when you knew that the only way to guarantee winning was to cheat. When you'd spent much of your life learning how to cheat and how to get away with it.

He dreaded facing Rogue and Joseph again. Not because he knew what would happen. But because every possible situation he could imagine was bad. Maybe Joseph had told Rogue about last night, and now Rogue had yet one more thing to hold against him. She wouldn't appreciate Joseph telling Gambit that she loved him, especially if it were true, and she wouldn't appreciate anything else that had happened last night earlier, like Joseph getting drunk or the kiss.

And then there was Joseph. Gambit decided that, if a punch was forthcoming, he would take it. Getting hit might trigger some survival instinct that he was obviously currently lacking.

The real issue was how to handle things. Did he slink back into the house at dinner and hope the whole thing had blown over?  Pull a Logan and disappear for a month? Pretend that nothing had happened? Ridicule Joseph if the matter were broached? Sit in the tree 'til he starved?

Gambit shuffled his cards, wishing he hadn't run out of cigarettes. The half-empty pack he'd brought with him hadn't lasted long enough, and now he was faced with going back to the mansion if he wanted more.

Was nicotine worth braving the dangers of the mansion?

He reshuffled the cards.

He didn't know what he felt anymore. Exhaustion, betrayal, an ever-present darkness of spirit... these were the things coloring his personality now, and they weren't feelings. His feelings were buried too deeply to trust, hidden away because feeling hurt too much and gave him too little.

Gambit swung himself down from the tree. Time to return to the mansion. He couldn't face these thoughts without nicotine, and would have preferred to put them aside entirely for some more physical form of expression. But the Danger Room was not available, no crisis seemed imminent, and there was no one he felt able to tolerate enough to battle. Not this morning.

Avoiding the inside of the mansion, Remy easily scaled the side of the house and slipped into his room. He grabbed a new pack of cigarettes and threw out the old one, cleaning his pocket of butts as he did so.

Hiding in the woods no longer seemed appealing, and if one of the people he'd been avoiding found him, well, the resulting confrontation would only be what he deserved. Gambit slipped out onto the roof, curling his legs under himself and lighting one of the cigarettes.

Rogue found him there, flying up to hover across from him.

"Remy, Ah want to talk to you."

"Den talk, chere."

"It's about Joseph."

Gambit kept himself from stiffening from long practice at not showing his reactions outwardly, although he knew that this would be the conversation he had been dreading. She knew what had happened last night, and would scold him for encouraging Joseph to drink, tallying up yet another reason why he was no good for her.


She sat down beside him on the roof. "He's been acting strange lately. Ah don't know what to do about him. Last night, he left our room after he thought Ah was asleep -- Ah'm not sure he wants me anymore."

That wasn't quite what he'd expected to hear. "Mebbe you should talk t'him about dis, p'tite."

"Ah've tried," she said, frustrated. "Don't you think Ah wouldn't try? He just says it's not mah fault and there's nothing wrong. And Ah know that there is. Ah'm not dumb."

Gambit sighed. So she was only guessing that something was going on. For a moment, he felt tempted to tell Rogue the truth, and then went with a safe answer. "What do you t'ink is wrong?"

She glanced at him sideways before looking out at the same landscape he was currently surveying. "Ah don't think he really wants me. As a woman, you know."

He swallowed hard. If this were anyone else, he'd be gone, away from her, no longer listening to the discussion. He was a person, damnit, a man who loved this woman, and the last thing he wanted to do was to take part in this conversation, to do the right thing and cement the relationship between her and his rival. But he wanted her happiness most of all, and that was the important thing. Wasn't it? "You're sleeping t'gether -- don't you know dat he wants you?"

She shook her head, and then insinuated her gloved hand into his. "That's just it, sugah. He can't want me -- he can only keep up the shield when he's concentratin', so Ah never get to do anything for him. Ah don't know if he wants me at all -- he nevah gets turned on or anythin'."

Gambit's mouth quirked into a wry smile. "Chere, when a man give up sex for a woman, he love her. Trust Remy 'bout dis."

"But Ah want to touch him. Ah want to make a man go crazy over me."

He felt his fingers stroking hers as her hand rested in his, and he forced himself to let her hand drop. "Lots of men'd go crazy over you."

"Yeah, but Ah only want one." She pulled away from him, floating up from the roof. "Guess Ah just can't make a relationship work with anybody."

She was gone before he could reply, and Gambit closed his eyes. He didn't feel tears in his eyes. There was nothing in this whole unfunny paradoxical triangle to make anyone laugh, and he certainly would not be crying. Not him. Not Gambit.

Remy wanted Rogue, but she wouldn't have him because she couldn't touch him without absorbing his personality and self along with her touch. Rogue wanted to be touched, and so had acquired Joseph, who could touch her -- but apparently that was not enough because she could not touch him in return, not the way that she wanted to. And Joseph wanted Rogue and thought that he couldn't have her because she loved Remy.

Dear God. It was enough to drive a sane man to drink.

Gambit didn't move from his position on the roof. An idea struck him, and a tiny grin enlivened his face. There could be a solution to their problems. If everyone in this little triangle were sufficiently flexible and open-minded, everything could be fixed -- he could have Rogue, Rogue could have Joseph, and Joseph could have Rogue as well. Of course, he'd have to share Rogue with Joseph, and he didn't think the other man was up for the threesome thing, even if he, Gambit, had the experience to appreciate such a thing. But wouldn't that be a tidy little way to solve things?

He firmly stepped on the idea, and his smile disappeared.  Things didn't happen that way. No, their dance of pain would continue until someone was mortally injured, in the heart where it would hurt the worst.

"Remy?" a voice called from the window.

Gambit recognized it as belonging to Joseph and stubbed out his cigarette. Time to face his doom like a man. He dropped down to the window, perching on the sill. "Dis be Remy."

Joseph stood in front of the window seat, expression unhappy.  "I wish I didn't have to say this--"

Here it comes, Gambit thought, expecting anything from an accusation to an attack.

"Rogue's left me. I'm not the better man, after all. You've got another chance with her now. After last night -- after our conversation last night -- I don't think I'll stand in your way.  She loves you and you love her--"

Taken off-guard by yet another unexpected turn of conversation, Gambit chose to respect Joseph's desire to confide in him, and observed quietly, "You love her, too, mon ami."

"I know. That only makes it more painful." Joseph's expression twisted. "I want her to be happy. And she wants you.  She didn't say that, but I know that it's true nonetheless. I love her, and I have to let her go. Remy, if I thought it would make her happy I'd stand by the side of her bed and cast a field around her while she had sex with you, that's how much I want her happiness over my own. I want her to have what she wants -- you."

Gambit's expression was as pained as Joseph's. "Dat be de best of both worlds if Gambit could have Rogue an' hold her too.  But dat's not fair to you, homme, even if you were serious 'bout de offer. 'Preciate de t'ought though. Gambit don't know dat de lady is t'inking what you t'ink she's t'inking eit'er. Not going t'kiss and tell, but Gambit t'ink you could still work t'ings out wit' her."

Joseph shook his head sadly. "No. As strange as this may sound considering our history, I-- I thought you and I connected last night. And I have few enough friends to risk even one for any reason. I'm not going to try to work this out with Rogue. I'm going to let her follow her heart."

"Rogue didn't want me before, homme. What makes you t'ink dat she want me now? She only want Gambit if she can touch him, and she can't. We both be losing if you don't fight for her, and Rogue too, 'cause den she not have anybody t'love her."

"Then let me help."

"What you have in mind?" Gambit looked at Joseph curiously, then raised his hands. "Oh, no. Not dat. You not going t'use your powers t'make it possible for dis t'ief t'get Rogue. Dat not fair t'you."

"It's fair if I say it's fair."

"Dis gonna get real complicated real fast," Remy warned Joseph, wondering why he was talking as though this crazy idea were actually a possibility. "It's hard enough t'manage a relationship wit' two people in it -- t'ree people is even more difficult, not easier."

"Three people? I was only talking about helping you and Rogue to..."

"I know what you said. But Gambit t'ink he know somet'ing you don't about de problems you been having, and dat he could help you if he wanted. An' he couldn't let you help him and not help you too."

Joseph began to look vaguely horrified, as though a new and fascinating world had been opened to him, and one that he wasn't sure he liked very much. "Perhaps this isn't the best idea..."

"Dat's what Gambit's been trying t'tell you. Now, shoo. Go find Roguie and 'pologize."

"I didn't do anything."

"Wit' women, dat only makes it worse. Shoo."

Joseph shook his head. "There's still something else we need to discuss."

Shoulda known that this wouldn't be so easy. "Gambit's listening."

"About last night -- I'm sorry."

"You're what?"

"I'm sorry. I rarely drink, and what happened must embarrass you as much as it does me. I-- I can only say that..." he looked uncomfortable, "it's, uh, been a while for me, and you and I seemed to have just made some kind of emotional connection, and then I did something unwarranted. And I am truly sorry for it."

"Den you're not--" Gambit cut himself off as he realized where that sentence was going.

"Not what?" Joseph asked curiously.

Gambit threw up his mental hands and gave up on caution for the day. His love life couldn't get any worse than it was already.

"You really are attracted to me, den?"

"I'd prefer to forget about last night."

"'Cause if you are, den you ought t'know dat de only reason Gambit stopped last night was dat you were drinking an' I t'ought you wouldn't know what you were doing."

Joseph drew himself back a bit. "You love Rogue."

"Sure I do. But dat doesn't mean I've given up on loving ot'er people too. Rogue doesn't seem t'want me, y'know."

"She does."

Gambit shrugged. "Not going t'argue dat wit' you, homme. But if you serious 'bout last night, den mebbe you don't have t'leave."

"Why not? I'm glad that we established some sort of connection yesterday, but that's barely enough to base a friendship on, let alone what you're suggesting." Joseph's words spoke of revulsion and rejection -- but he did not leave the room, and his expression was guarded, as though there was something deeper here, something that he wanted but was afraid to take.

Gambit came in the window, stepped down from the windowseat and stood, stretching languorously, a move that he knew showed off many of the best points about his body. "Mebbe dat's so. Not going t'argue dat eit'er. But Gambit t'ink dat dere's one t'ing dat neit'er of us is getting and dat both of us want."

"What's that?" Joseph asked warily. His eyes had dilated as Gambit stretched; something that Remy had not missed. So, Joseph was interested? Gambit stepped closer to him, smiling blatantly now, one of his most heartstopping smiles.

"Sex, mon ami. Sex."

Joseph turned a dull red. "I-- how do you know about that?"

He turned a deeper red. "Rogue told you, didn't she?"

"Oui," he said, nodding. "Don't hold it against her -- de chere needed t'talk t'someone, and Gambit won't tell."

"You just told me."

"Gambit t'ink dat it relevant t'you an' me. An' you already know all about it." He reached out a hand to Joseph, fingers touching the cleft of his chin, then running down his neck, caressing his chest and feeling down to his solid thigh. "Don't you?"

"Um, yes."

"So what do you want t'do?" Gambit asked, feeling his answer in the way that Joseph pressed his body against Gambit's hand, seeking more of that elusive touch.

"This." And Joseph took hold of Gambit's head, fastened his lips over the other man's and kissed him fiercely.

Gambit thought that Joseph was more taken off-guard by his sudden action than Remy was himself. Gambit, at least, had been taunting Joseph with the idea and was mentally prepared for the sudden influx of warmth and intimacy -- and need -- running between their bodies.

Joseph broke the kiss, startled to find his body intimately entwined with the Cajun's, one of Gambit's legs thrust through his, bodies chest to chest, and desperate wanting hardness up against a hardness resonant with its own. Gasping, he looked at Gambit, desire muddling his vision.

Remy seemed less affected, his hand on Joseph's cheek, stroking it while he smiled knowledgeably. "Gambit got no problem wit' dis."

"I should," Joseph said, fighting to find some semblance of control inside himself, and instead finding lust rampaging through him -- his body demanding that he pull Gambit down on the bed, pull him down and cover himself with the other man. "I'm certain I should have a problem."

Gambit's smile grew warmer. Almost crooning, he said to Joseph, "Dat's not what your body's telling me."

"It's not what it's telling me either," Joseph admitted frankly. If he were as honest with himself as his body was being with Gambit, he wanted this too much. Not because he was specifically attracted to Gambit -- although the man did give off signals like a peacock flashing his feathers -- but because it had been too long since he'd allowed himself to feel any sort of desire. He couldn't risk it, not with Rogue. The magnetic shield he could put up to protect him from her powers only worked when he was concentrating. And he could not concentrate properly when he was at the mercy of his hormones. To protect them both, he had consciously forced himself not to feel anything sexual while around Rogue. To selflessly harness his desire for her in order to give her the touching and physical contact that she so wanted. But here, with Gambit, it was safe to feel, and he felt, if anything, too much.

Remy kissed him, long fingers still cradling his face, and Joseph began pulling at the other man's shirt, hands reaching under it to feel the skin underneath. To feel it for his own pleasure, rather than because his touch gave pleasure to someone else. It was a relief, and freeing, to be able to feel without consequence, and he put his hands on Remy's shoulders, pulling the duster off, and then rapidly moving to open Gambit's shirt further so that he could enjoy the skin below.

"Mon ami, dere's no need to rush," Gambit rebuked him softly, breaking off their kiss. "Dere's plenty of time."

Joseph met his eyes with some of the desperate need he felt, wondering if Remy could read him better than he could read those red pupils.

"Or mebbe dere's not." Gambit pulled his hands away from Joseph and willingly stripped off his shirt, leaving his chest bare for Joseph's further exploration. "Dat better?"

Joseph looked at the masculine chest before him, and wondered for the first time, what his sexual orientation had been before he had lost his memories. He himself had no idea, but as he felt no swell of revulsion looking at the swirl of hair over taut muscles that he was currently seeing, he had obviously had nothing against homosexuality. Instead, he felt the desire he had not allowed himself to feel with Rogue.

He reached out to Gambit, letting his hands roam over the other man's body, closing his eyes to better experience the sensations running back to him through his palms and fingers. Warm skin that shivered under his touch. Muscles that flexed in interesting ways as his hands tightened on them. The sensitive spot he found at Gambit's navel that caused the Cajun to twitch and yelp before grabbing Joseph's hand.

"No more o'dat." Gambit said firmly, then with a mischievous grin, "Your turn."

Joseph felt confused for a moment, then Gambit's hands went to his own shirt, helping him to remove it. Regular work-outs and basic genetics gave Joseph a body even more impressive than Gambit's -- his frame ran to muscular upper-body strength, while Remy was more wiry and less bulky. Gambit showed every sign of appreciating Joseph's body just as much as Joseph had appreciated his, and Joseph felt compelled to ask, "You, then, are...bisexual?"

The question could have been awkward, and Joseph regretted asking it as soon as it was out of his mouth.

Gambit looked up quickly from his visual exploration of Joseph's exposed skin and flashed white teeth. "Gambit don't make de distinction 'tween male an' female when it come t'sex. Suppose you call that being bisexual. Gambit prefer de term ambisexual, t'ough."

Joseph thought that might have been a joke, intended to make him laugh. If so, he missed the point. "I was only curious."

"Not'ing wrong wit' dat." Gambit smiled again, and then said in a velvety, seductive voice. "Dere's somet'ing dat Gambit's curious about as well."

"What's that?"

"Dis." With one fluid motion, Remy knelt before Joseph, undoing the fastening of his trousers and reaching inside to free Joseph's erection.

Joseph found himself unable to do anything except breathe heavily and try not to shove himself into Remy's sensitive hands.

"My God."

"Non -- but dat's a good guess."

Joseph froze, eyes closing as Gambit began first licking at his erection, and then took it inside his mouth. "I don't think--" his hands reached down to find Remy's head and stroke the other man's hair with impatient, needy fingers, "I don't think I can take very much of this."

Remy's hands fastened on his buttocks, and squeezed, encouraging Joseph. He knew he could only stop himself from doing this by jumping away right that moment. In a few more seconds, it would be too late to stop. And he didn't want to. No, he didn't. He surged heavily into Remy's mouth, coming in a sharp burst of something almost like pain. He felt the other man taking it, sucking at his penis, encouraging little aftershocks to run though him until Joseph sagged over onto Remy, hands dropping to Gambit's shoulders to support himself. "My God, Remy."

"Dere you go again," Gambit said with good humor, maneuvering Joseph onto the bed, where he fell down gratefully. "Gambit tell you -- he no god."

Joseph watched him as Gambit came to sprawl on the bed, form haloed by the light from the open window and looking deliciously dissolute. "A fallen angel, then."

"Oh, sugah, Remy's definitely not that."

The voice caught Joseph off-guard and he jerked upright, staring at Rogue, who was hovering in the space left by the open window.

Gambit did not seem surprised. "'Allo, Roguie. Did you see what you wanted t'see?"

"Ah think Ah saw more than Ah ever wanted to." Rogue's tone was filled with a resigned kind of jealousy, even though her posture screamed of anger. "Ah know why now neither of you ever really wanted me. No wonder Ah couldn't turn Joseph on."

Joseph felt mortified. Only his overwhelming orgasm seconds before kept him from hiding under the sheets and perhaps hoping for a cataclysm to occur so that he could somehow sneak away. As it was, his body could not react, and he laid back, stunned, letting Gambit respond for the both of them.

"You could've stopped us if you wanted, chere. Gambit know you were watching."

"Why should Ah?" she asked tensely. "It's obvious to me now that neither of you ever truly loved me. How could Ah be so stupid?"

"You not being stupid, p'tite. Gambit t'ink dat dis de best demonstration of how we both want you." He swept his hand over the bed, gesturing to himself and Joseph. "Gambit can't touch you so he's feelin' frustrated. An' Joseph even worse off 'cause he can touch you but he can't do anyt'ing about what he's seeing and touching."

"What are you talkin' about?"

Gambit regarded her quizzically. "You know what I mean, femme. De magnetic shield dat Joseph be using to let you touch him -- he can't use it if he be aroused."

"If he really wanted me..."

"Den he be in as much of a world of hurt as Gambit."

Remy turned his head to look at Joseph for his opinion, and surprised, Joseph could almost believe for a moment that what he saw on the other man's face was tenderness. "You want to add anyt'ing, mon ami?"

Joseph shook his head. "No. You've got it right."

"So dat's de way it is," Gambit said, returning his attention to Rogue. "Doesn't have anyt'ing t'do wit' not loving you, chere.  Only t'do wit' not being able t'have you."

Rogue collapsed into a sitting position on the windowseat. Her hands went to her face, and she dropped her head. "Ah'm never gonna have anybody ta love me."

"Chere, didn't you listen to Remy? Both of us love you. Too much, mebbe, an' not in de way you want, but we do."

"But I can't have either of you!" she wailed, tears falling.

"Aw, chere, don't cry." Gambit sat on the bed, helpless to go to her. He knew what she was feeling right now -- he had many and varied romantic experiences, and had a very good idea of what someone might be expected to feel even in a situation as unusual as this one. What she needed right now was to be physically reassured that one or both of them did want her -- to be taken to bed and thoroughly loved. But it was the one thing neither man could give her, not the way she wanted.

Joseph watched the two of them and made his own decision. His experience was less, but he came to the same conclusion that Gambit had -- Rogue needed something that he couldn't give her, something that Gambit could, if Joseph were willing to make the sacrifice that would allow it. He caught Gambit's shoulder so that the Cajun turned to look at him. "She needs you. I'll make it right.  Just... do something. I... I can't stand seeing her cry either.  At least this way, she'll have someone."

Gambit regarded him seriously, and then nodded. He didn't ruin Joseph's moment of altruism by protesting against it. "T'ank you, mon ami."

Joseph stood slowly, watching Gambit go to Rogue and coax her to the bed, then redressed himself and settled into the windowseat, careful to look outside rather than in. He only wanted Rogue to be happy -- and he felt grateful to Gambit -- and so he could and would do this. But he couldn't watch. So instead he concentrated on holding up the magnetic shield that separated Rogue from Gambit by the barest of margins, and tried not to listen to the soft sounds of lovemaking going on behind him.

Those sounds accentuated his loneliness. Whatever changes had occurred to his relationship with Gambit over the past day, he knew that Rogue was the most important person to the other man. And Rogue loved Gambit as she did not love Joseph. Rogue didn't love him and would not want him if she could touch Gambit. And if they could have each other, then there was no place for him. He'd been working for some time on a device that would neutralize Rogue's absorption ability without removing her other powers; it had been his hope that she would use it with him, but it would work equally well, once it was complete, to allow Rogue and Gambit to be together without the unwelcome interference of a third party such as himself. It could be his gift to the couple -- to Rogue, for the relationship he had almost had with her and the caring she had mistakenly given him, and to Gambit, for the comradeship that the Cajun had had no reason to extend, but had anyway.

That he would be left out and left alone was painful, but inevitable. He would lose Rogue, and Gambit as well, and there would be no one for him. Perhaps, if he were very lucky, they would remain friendly toward him, giving him some bastion of support amid the mostly hostile X-Men, but he knew it was more likely that Rogue and Gambit would turn against him, shutting out the intruder who could only threaten their newly acquired closeness.

He could deal with that. He would deal with that.

Joseph closed his eyes against tears, but felt them prickling at his eyes nonetheless. He let them fall, trying to keep his mind on the shield rather than on the aching pain of loss that he felt inside.

Focused in on himself, he was taken off-guard when a hand touched his chin, holding it so that his face could be inspected. "Mon ami," came Gambit's sensuous, caressing voice. "What's wrong?"

Startled, Joseph looked up, the shield dropping. Gambit bent over him, unselfconsciously nude, still touching him. Joseph glanced behind him; Rogue rested on the bed, also nude, curled up and looking very satisfied. "Nothing. I'm fine."

"Gambit t'ink dat you're not fine."

Careful fingers brushed his face, taking the tears away.  Joseph bit down on another wave of tears, the casual gesture of affection almost undoing him. "It's nothing you can do anything about."

"Why don't you let Gambit be de judge of dat?"

"I'm very happy for you and Rogue," Joseph said tightly, trying to keep his emotions leashed long enough to say what he needed to say and get out of there. "I think that I can construct some sort of device so that the two of you can be together without needing me." His voice started to crack, and he forced himself to cut what he was saying short, his words running together as he spoke faster to get them all out before he broke down. "You belong together. I know you'll be happy." He stood, making for the door.

Gambit caught him by the arm, pulling him back. Joseph held still as Gambit put his hands on Joseph's arms, forcing him to look into the other man's eyes. "What you t'ink? Dat Gambit going t'steal Roguie from you? Non. I wouldn't do dat to you, homme.   Gambit promised."

"Then what," Joseph choked out, trying not to hope too hard, "are you doing?"

"Gambit going t'show you how much it means to him dat you give him dis chance wit' Rogue." Red eyes regarded him seriously. "Your problem wit' Rogue is easy t'fix -- Gambit show you how t'get 'round it so dat you and Roguie can be toget'er."

Joseph didn't understand what the Cajun was proposing. "It's all right. I've given up. I know now that you love Rogue and she loves you, and that I'm only in the way."

"You're really upset, aren't you?"

Joseph nodded miserably.

Before he could object, Gambit was steering him toward the bed, and sitting him down on the edge of it. The other man pulled a sheet up over Rogue, covering her bare skin, then sat as well, back against the wall. Gambit opened his arms to Joseph.


In a daze of non-comprehension, Joseph followed the instruction, letting Remy hold him close. A hand stroked his hair, and Joseph wondered what bizarre alternate reality he had stumbled into.

Rogue looked up at them, expression glazed, as though reality was a long distance from where she was now. "Is there a problem, sugah?"

"Non," Gambit replied. "Everyt'ing be all right."

She seemed to accept that, and moved closer, settling into them until the three of them were jumbled together, Joseph sprawled half-over Gambit, leaning against him, while Rogue curled up alongside them, face pressed into the pillow Remy had thoughtfully placed between her head and his hip.

Joseph didn't know what he felt, lying there cradled in the other man's arms. Confusion, security, perhaps even affection. It felt good to close his eyes and rest there, breathing in the scent of Gambit's skin.

They laid there in a comfortable silence, until Rogue started to come back and began to notice her surroundings more thoroughly.  She wrinkled her nose in perplexment. "Not that Ah have a problem with it, but just what are we all doing here together?"

"Gambit t'ought dat it a good idea if he show de two of you dat not being able to touch doesn't mean dat you can't arouse a man."

Rogue's eyebrows went up. "And why do you want to do that?"

"'Cause you tol' me dat de reason you be unhappy wit' Joseph is dat you don't know dat he wants you. Gambit t'ink dat you're wrong, an' he t'ink dat he can prove it."

"How?" Rogue challenged him.

"Gambit show you if you want."

She looked at Joseph, who nodded shakily. The world was a terrible and confusing place, but if Rogue wanted this, and if anything could get him closer to Rogue, then he was all for it.

For a moment, his mind wondered about Gambit, and whether Joseph had made the right choices to begin with, but he skittered away from that thought and back to the now desperate hope that this situation might somehow be put right.

Gambit pushed on Joseph's shoulders, guiding him to lie down on the bed next to Rogue, as he himself slipped out of the bed.  "Just a moment." He got up, pulled on a robe, then left the room.

Joseph laid there, alone with Rogue, looking at her. He brought up the magnetic shield so that he could reach out and brush her hair back from her face. She was so beautiful, and at the moment, she looked happy, something he'd always wanted her to be.

He'd thought he'd brought her a certain sort of peace in his arms before, and perhaps that was true, but she had never found this kind of incandescent happiness with him. He resolved to accept whatever Gambit was offering, and then leave. For Rogue's sake. For his own. He tried not to think about Gambit.

Remy returned with a pair of Rogue's gloves, and then went through his own clothing, emerging with a white silk scarf.


He approached the bed, and handed the gloves to Rogue, who put them on. "These are silk, Remy."

"You noticed!" The Cajun pretended to pout. "And dis is another piece of silk."

"What am Ah supposed ta do with this?" she asked dubiously. "Ah've been able to touch people using gloves for years, and Ah already know that's not what Ah want. How is this gonna be any different?"

"Trust Gambit, p'tite."

"Hah! That's a joke." She smiled at him, taking the sting from her words.

He bowed his head in acknowledgement of the hit, then knelt back. "Joseph, you just lie dere and enjoy yourself. You don't need t'do not'ing." He looked at Rogue. "An' you, chere, are going t'touch him. All over. An' see dat you really do have an effect on him."

"But Ah can't -- we can't have sex," she protested.

"Don't worry 'bout dat. Gambit don't t'ink dat'll be a problem. But if it is, he promise dat he'll take care of it."

"Ah hope you know what you're doing, sugah." She sat up, sheet spilling over her, and looked down at Joseph.

"You really don't have to do this," Joseph said, nervous and uncomfortable. He had the sickening feeling that Rogue felt obligated to him in some way because he'd given her time with her lover. The alternate explanation, that he was being used as some sort of lesson in how to arouse a man did not appeal to him either.

"But Ah want to."

Joseph stared at her helplessly, then gave in. He couldn't refuse Rogue. "As you will."

She giggled, and he felt a smile forming on his own face.  Perhaps this would be all right.


Concluded in Part Three.


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