Reine was busy in the kitchen of the X-Mansion. It had been
agreed at the beginning of her stay that she would be treated
as any other resident, and all things being equal, it was
her turn to prepare lunch. It had been some time since she
had had to cook for a crowd, and she had almost forgotten
how much she enjoyed it. Humming along to a tune on the radio,
she was critically surveying her handiwork when a voice broke
" Impressive ... is there anyt'ing left that I c'n help
She turned toward the sound with a warm smile. Gambit stood
in the doorway, leaning against the frame.
"Hey bro -- there sure is. Would you be a sweetheart
and make some béchamel for me? I'll need about six cups ..."
"Béchamel? D' you mean t' tell me you're makin' lasagna,
an' not red beans an' rice?" he pouted, but with a gleam
in his eye.
"Yep -- after all, man does not live by andouille alone
... besides -- you're the one who owes me red beans
and rice, if memory serves. And I know you love lasagna anyway,
so quit giving me puppy-dog eyes -- I'm immune."
Remy smiled broadly, then eyed the laden counter appreciatively.
"Some spread y' settin' up, ma soeur. Scott's going
t' be sorry he missed it -- He loves Italian."
" Imperious Leader's loss, our gain. More for us --
Wings, Betts, and Jean are out too ..."
She rolled her eyes.
"Only eleven for lunch."
"Dat all? We must be goin' easy on you on account o'
you bein' a guest."
"Yeah, right -- shut up and start cooking ..."
For a time, they worked in companionable silence, until Reine's
concern finally got the better of her. After Remy's decision
that morning, she wanted to know how he was coping.
" Everything okay, Remy? " she asked softly.
He sighed, knowing that she wasn't talking about cooking.
Since entering the kitchen, he had detected her worry for
him, and had been wondering when she was going to say something.
" F' now, oui .. Ask me again later t'night," he
# Want to tell me about it? #
She had switched to telepathy to ensure the privacy of their
conversation. Even knowing that he intended to tell all to
his friends, she would protect his secret until he chose to
divulge it himself -- and they both knew the acoustics of
the room allowed words to carry. It was a gesture that Remy
Through the telepathic link she had established, Remy slowly
told her of his thoughts, actions, and decisions of the morning.
As he did, he felt her unwavering support -- warm, constant,
comforting -- like sunlight on bare skin. He allowed himself
to touch those feelings and the deeper core of love behind
them, drawing strength from his sister's emotions. In the
past, there had been times when he cursed his empathy, as
he too often experienced the pain of others and amplified
his own. Now, he found himself grateful for his extra gift.
While he told his story, she said nothing -- she simply listened
until he was done. It was a comfort to be asked no questions,
just allowed to pour out his feelings. When at last he was
finished, her approval could be felt almost like a physical
# You're doing the right thing, Remy # she told him firmly.
# What? Tellin' them, or lettin' Stormy an' Rogue have de
first crack at me? # he answered with grim humour.
Her mental sigh was exasperated.
# That's what I like about you, petit frère -- that bright,
positive attitude. What say you let them decide how
they feel before you start the self-flagellation routine?
# I'm tryin', chère -- I really am. But ...#
# But me no buts! You won't know either way until tonight,
so there's no point in worrying about it now -- let it go
# Oui, maman ... #1
# Watch it, brother mine -- I still owe you, remember? Not
a good idea to add fuel to the fire # she warned with a grin.
# C'mon ... how much more trouble c'n I be in? #
Her grin grew broader. It was somewhat reminiscent of a Great
White shark going in for the kill.
* Uh oh ...*
# On second thought, don' answer dat #
Reine shrugged her shoulders eloquently before resuming their
" So, what are your plans until then?"
" Don' have any, actually. Why? Y' got somet'ing in
" I figure you could stand to get away from here for
a bit. Want to spend some quality time in town with your favorite
" Doin' what? "
" How 'bout if we figure it out as we go? "
" I think y' got a deal ... "
Stepping out of the shower, Rogue quickly towelled herself
off. After her training session with Bishop and Logan, she
had felt like a limp rag, and she revelled in the revitalizing
sensation of being clean.
Joseph had originally been set to join them, but he had suffered
some sort of fainting spell that morning, and Beast had sternly
ordered him to rest.
* Just as well, Ah guess * she thought as she put on her
* It's still all Logan can do ta be civil to the man. Mind
you, all things considered, cain't say as Ah blame him ...
Taking another towel, she wound her long hair into a turban,
then put on her slippers and walked down the hallway to her
She opened her door and stepped inside, closing it behind
her. It was as she was walking toward the dresser that she
A stark white envelope lay on the floor, a few feet in from
the doorway. Curious, she walked to where it was and picked
it up, noticing the bold handwriting, in solid black ink --
Remy's. Her brow furrowed, as she carefully opened the sealed
letter while moving to the chair in front of her vanity.
* White stationery, black ink -- Ah wonder what's up ...
* she thought with concern.
For a cheerfully avowed scoundrel, Remy possessed quite the
set of old-fashioned mannerisms, and one of them dealt with
letter-writing -- white paper and black ink were reserved
for very serious topics.
With some trepidation, she withdrew the carefully folded
paper from its nest, smoothed it out and began to read.
My dear Rogue,
I've made up my mind. I'm tired of running away from my past,
hoping that distance will make my sins disappear. I never
really believed that would happen, but I guess that self-delusion
can be considered a survival instinct. You've carried a Hell
of my making in your head for a long time now -- my history.
In Seattle, I managed to convince myself that I was protecting
you by keeping silent -- I now realize I was protecting myself.
I was afraid that if you knew the truth, you would leave me
for good -- but you deserve the truth, chère. You always have.
I am still afraid, but there comes a time when you have to
face your fears -- to do anything less is to deny yourself,
and the ones you care about. And how I do care about you,
Rogue ... I'll tell you everything, even knowing that you'll
probably hate me for what I've done. All I can do is swear
to you that I am not the man I was, thank the Saints -- and
that no matter how much you might come to hate me, it can't
be as much as I hate myself.
And lastly, no matter what happens between us, please know
that I will always love you.
Rocks by the lake, ten o' clock tonight.
* Ah don't believe it ... *
She had given up hoping for this some time ago, and she found
herself thinking about the old adage of taking care of what
you wish for ...
Her eyes flashed with determination.
* C'mon now, gal -- you're the one who wanted the
truth. If it's as bad as he says it is ... he's bein' brave
enough ta face it -- the least you can do is be brave enough
to listen ... *
Entering her attic room, Ororo immediately noticed the plain
white envelope against the wood grain of the floor. She had
just finished tending to her herb garden at the rear of the
mansion, and had intended to turn her attention to her houseplants
With a fluid motion, she stooped and picked it up from where
* Remy's handwriting ... *
Like Rogue, she too had noticed the combination of ink and
stationery, and was more than a little worried as she opened
You've known me longer than anyone else here, and there's
something I have to confess. It happened a long time before
I ever met up with you, padnat, but it's been eating away
at me ever since it happened. Even when you were just a child,
I think you knew it was shame that was driving me, you just
never knew what it was that I was ashamed of.
I'm tired of hiding, 'Ro.
I'm tired of running from the shadows of my past.
It's time I faced up to what I did, even if you'll be tempted
to kill me where I stand for it. And no, chère -- I'm not
exaggerating. After what I did, there were times I thought
about doing the job myself -- but then I realized that would
be taking an easy way out -- one that I didn't deserve.
I need to tell you the truth, Ororo -- all the more so because
it concerns you, and you deserve nothing less -- even though
you'll hate me for it. You've been my best friend, and there
aren't words to tell you what you mean to me.
I don't expect forgiveness -- that's not an option -- but
I hope you will find it in your heart to give me closure.
Rocks by the lake, ten o' clock tonight.
She read it over twice -- three times. The thought that her
cheerful, devil-may-care best friend had once been in despair
great enough to consider suicide ... that told her the magnitude
of whatever crime he wished to confess, perhaps more than
the words he would speak to her later.
Whatever else Remy was, he had never been one to choose to
escape his problems in any way. He would face them down, with
a shrug of his shoulders and a grin on his face ... that his
deed, whatever it was, could have made him react in such a
fashion was horrifying.
* Before he ever met me ... *
The thoughts came unbidden to her mind -- had it not been
for Remy, she would have been dead ... as would most of the
others ... many a villain would have triumphed ... and the
world would undoubtedly have been a darker, uglier place ...
... but for a charming Cajun thief.
Everyone on the team tended to consider him an outsider,
perhaps because he kept to himself almost as much as Logan
did. Ororo wondered if any of them had truly considered just
how important Remy had become to them over the years. She
She considered the contents of the letter again for some
clue as to what he wished to tell her that night. The only
thing that stuck in her mind was the depth of remorse, and
his assurance that whatever he had done was irredeemable.
* Whatever he wishes to tell me has weighed upon his conscience
for years -- that much is clear. I have relied upon his strength
often enough in the past. I hope he knows that he can rely
on mine ...*
Continued in Chapter
1. Yes mom. ( Probably not a necessary translation, but you
"All warfare is based on deception."
-- Sun-Tzu, The Art of War
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