"What's wrong, Scott?"
Jean looked across the kitchen table at her husband, concern
in her eyes. When he had returned to their home that morning,
he had seemed preoccupied. As usual, going over
the training tapes had been first on Scott's agenda, and to
Phoenix's practised eye, it was clear that something he had
seen was troubling him.
"I'm really not sure ... probably nothing ..."
he replied with a thoughtful frown.
'Probably nothing' ... that's what I told myself last
night. It could be coincidence -- or not. Best to find out,
"Would it be something to do with Gambit?" Phoenix
Scott's mouth twitched in a small smile.
"It might be. Now was that just a flash of insight,
or one of your 'telepathic parlour tricks,' as Hank would
say?" he asked in a teasing voice.
Despite his light tone, it was a serious question, and Jean
responded in kind.
"I thought Remy might be involved because of a ... psychic
incident last night. I wasn't sure if you had felt it or not,
and I didn't think that it was anything to be worried about..."
Scott shook his head.
"No, I didn't feel anything ... what happened?"
he asked curiously.
"About the time I had gone upstairs to change, I think
Gambit accidentally let his shields slip for just a moment."
"While you were upstairs? That was what -- about eleven-thirty,
Phoenix nodded in confirmation, and thought back, trying
to pinpoint the exact time.
"Probably closer to midnight ... anyway, in that moment,
he sort of broadcast his emotional state empathically. It
Jean nibbled her lower lip as she sought words to describe
what she had felt. She might have simply 'shown' Scott what
had happened with her own mental powers; but if she was correct,
and Remy's lapse had been unintentional, that would be a further
invasion of his privacy. Jean wasn't about to do that.
"You know that Gambit has always been ... aloof. He
constantly puts up this uncaring front -- and the only time
he ever mentions his own feelings is to make fun of them.
But last night really put the lie to that. I think he cares
almost too deeply about things for his own good ..."
Jean was hesitant now, and Scott immediately understood her
"Is there anything that you can ethically tell me?"
he asked gently.
"Apart from that overall impression -- just that he
was feeling relieved beyond words, with disbelief and happiness
thrown in at about equal measure."
"I wonder ... there just might be a connection after
all..." Cyclops muttered thoughtfully.
Jean looked at her husband, amused.
"Glad to hear it -- now will you let me in on just how
Remy's emotional state might be related to whatever it is
that's bothering you?"
"One word -- Riposte."
It was Phoenix's turn to be curious. Quickly, using their
mental link, Scott recounted Reine's unusual behaviour during
her training session, and his run-in with her earlier that
"Interesting ... very interesting ..."
"What's your take on this, Jean?"
"Hard to say -- I'm not sure if there's a direct correlation
between the two events, but I get the feeling that there may
be an indirect one. And the timing between the end of her
session and Remy's slip seems too pat to be simple coincidence."
"That's what I thought. While I was talking to Reine
this morning, I tried to get her to open up about what was
going on. But it was like she headed me off at the pass every
time by changing the subject rather neatly. I didn't even
realize it at the time ... the more I think back to that conversation,
the more I feel that I've been had."
"Are you going to talk to Logan?"
"Maybe," he conceded.
"Riposte may have just been trying to keep me off-balance,
but it's still worth looking into ... Jean, if you get the
chance, would you ask Gambit some questions? I think he's
more likely to talk to you than to me."
"All right, but I think I know the answers I'll get
Jean noticed her husband had become lost in his own thoughts
again. He was nibbling on a pencil, and she couldn't suppress
a small laugh.
"What?" Scott asked quizzically.
"You and your 'oral fixation'," she teased.
Scott gave her a mock injured look.
"I don't recall you ever complaining about it before,"
he replied in a warm voice.
Jean shivered as he rose from his seat, and stepped toward
"You know," she said conversationally as he drew
her to him, "I can think of better things for you to
chew on than that pencil."
"Why, Mrs. Summers -- was that a come-on?"
"No -- but this is ..."
Rogue drifted back slowly toward wakefulness, her mind playing
out the end of a wonderful dream.
She and Remy were sitting side by side on the lakeshore,
hand in hand, watching the sun rise, as they had last night.
They watched in silence as the Earth's star slowly climbed,
until it almost completely cleared the horizon.
Gently, Remy lifted her hand, his thumb tracing small circles
over the thin fabric of her glove.
"This is de best day I've had in a long time, chère,"
he said quietly.
"Since when did ya turn precognitive, Cajun? The day's
only jus' started," she teased.
"Oui -- but it's de first day I ever started wit' you
by m' side."
Her eyes misted slightly.
Ah don' know what good I evah did ta deserve him ...
"An' it ain't gonna be the last, so ya better start
gettin' used to it, swamp-rat."
"I'm goin' to hold y' to that, chèrie ... but y' know,
Rogue -- good as dis day's been t' me so far, I c'n think
of a way t' make it even better."
"Oh? An' what might that be?"
Before she knew what was happening, he leaned in and pressed
his lips to hers. After a moment of shocked surprise, she
quickly recovered and grasped his shoulders, pushing him away
to safety, ready to catch him when he fell ...
But he didn't.
"Mah God, what were ya tryin' ta do -- get yohself killed?
Ah could hav ... "
Her panicked relief had propelled her halfway through her
anxious scolding before the reality of the situation dawned
on her, and she froze in mid-sentence.
Remy had kissed her -- but he was all right.
More than that -- he was fully conscious, and smiling at
And she was experiencing no voices, sights or sensations
foreign to her own mind.
Her eyes opened wide in disbelief.
"Remy? H - how ...?"
His smile grew even broader.
"Jus' had an idea. Didn' know if it was goin' t' work
or not, but I had t' try."
Rogue managed at last to get a word past the lump in her
"How?" she repeated.
"Dat 'ambient force field' me an ma soeur have on 'count
of our kinetic charge. It ain' much 'gainst plasma bolts or
bullets, but I figured if it c'n slow them down jus' a little,
it should still be more dan enough t' protect me from y' power."
"Ah ... I never ... Ah don' know what ta say ..."
He looked at her earnestly.
"I know it ain' a solution, chère ... but it's a start.
An' one day, Rogue, we'll find one, so dat the only time you'll
be wearin' gloves is when y' want to."
His voice was tender, but filled with such fierce conviction
that Rogue allowed her buried hopes to cautiously resurface
'We' ... he said, 'we'll find one' ...
"When you say it, Remy ... Ah believe it ..." she
Her tears were falling now, and with a small smile, Gambit
raised his hand to her face and carefully wiped them away.
"Seems t' me I owe ya dis ..."
Rogue drank in the sensation of his fingertips stroking the
apple of her cheek -- she could swear that she felt every
ridge of his skin. Finally, he drew his hand away, letting
his arm move down to her waist, pulling her close.
"Maybe ya did at that ... but then, let's be fair sugah
... Ah have somethin' ta give back, too ..."
She raised her face towards him, ready to return his kiss
Rogue sighed, fully awake now, but she put off opening her
eyes, choosing instead to relive the last moments of the dream.
If only ...
"Why cain't dreams come true jus' once in a while?"
she muttered bitterly.
"An' here I t'ought they done jus' that ..."
Her eyes flew open, and she found herself staring into Remy's
face, complete with his trademark cocky grin.
"Least mine did," he smirked.
"You always so grumpy in de mornin', chère?"
Memory was returning now, and with it came her tears.
It wasn't just a dream ...
Remy opened his arms to her, in mute invitation. She fell
into them, pressing her face against his shoulder, breathing
in his scent, her tears soaking into the fine cotton of his
T-shirt. He held her, rocking slightly, whispering words of
comfort, as she cried softly.
After a short time, Rogue regained control of herself, and
pulled away from him -- just enough to see his face clearly,
while still allowing herself to be comfortably ensconced in
"Ah'm sorry, Remy, " she sniffed, " Ah was
so sure I just dreamed it all ..."
"Don' think so -- not 'less we been havin' de same ones."
"I jus' can't ... Ah can really ..."
"Y' can ... really. But I see y' havin' some problems
believin' it, chère. So usin' a bit o' Hank's scientific method,
I t'ink there's only one thing f' you to do."
"An' what's that?"
With that, he slowly kissed her.
"Ah ... believe the experiment was a success ..."
"Oui -- but t' be sure, we should confirm that de result
wasn' an anomaly ..."
They kissed again -- it was sweet, boldly explorative, and
left them both near breathless.
"Well -- ya'll are still conscious ... an' the world
didn't come to an end."
"Don' t'ink I would've noticed if it did, chère ...
it'd kind o' pale in comparison."
"Ah've wanted ta do this for so long ..."
Rogue took off her right glove, and slowly raised her bare
hand to Remy's face, marvelling at the feel of his skin, exploring
his features with her fingertips. Remy sat still for her,
until finally, when she cupped his cheek, he turned his face
into her caress and kissed the inside of her wrist.
"Ah love you," she breathed.
"An' I love you -- but," he said, reluctantly breaking
their embrace, "I t'ink it's time f' me to go."
There was no mistaking the disappointment in her voice. Remy
looked at her intently, his eyes smouldering, as he replied
with a chuckle.
"'Cause mon père taught me t' be a thief an' a gentleman
-- not a saint."
Rogue looked at him, the fire in her own gaze matching his.
"Then it's a good thing Ah don't want a saint."
"Oui -- an' it's also a good thing t' think 'bout what
ya do want, 'fore y' make any decisions. I want t'
give ya the time t' do dat, chère."
Much as Rogue wanted to ignore his words, she knew that he
was right. This change in the status quo of their relationship
had come about quickly. And although, as Remy had said, it
wasn't a solution to her problem, it opened up a lot of possibilities
-- and she did need time to think about them. Although Remy's
response to the change only convinced her all the more that
she knew what her ultimate decision would be ...
She sighed, then leaned forward, and kissed his cheek.
" I know ... thank ya, sugah ... "
In silence, they rose from her bed. Remy picked up his boots
from the floor, while Rogue retrieved his leather jacket from
the closet where she had hung it much earlier that morning.
Together, they walked the short distance to the door, hand
"Come down in an hour, an' I'll have y' breakfast ready,"
"Earl Gray, buttermilk biscuits, country ham -- fried
green tomatoes, if we got any ..."
"Ah do love a man who knows his way 'round the kitchen."
Remy's eyes gleamed.
"Lucky me ... see you in an hour, chère."
With that, Gambit brushed his lips over the knuckles of her
right hand, then slipped outside and closed the door behind
With a broad smile, Rogue turned from the door, and flew
back to her bed, seizing the pillow Remy had used, and hugging
it tight -- it smelled like him.
An hour ... Ah still have some time ta daydream. An' maybe
one of 'em will come true next ...
Continued in Chapter 20.
" All warfare is based on deception. "
-- Sun-Tzu, The Art of War
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