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Warnings: Mature themes throughout the story, dealing with rape, torture and the psychological traumas of imprisonment in a concentration camp. Sexually explicit scene in Chapter 23.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Author's Notes



Rogue stirs restlessly, her fingers twisting the sheets in agitation. She swallows against the painful dryness in her throat. Fights back the sudden surge of nausea that threatens. In the still darkness of early morning, she feels familiar hands slip beneath her shoulders and neck, helping her to sit up. A moment later, something cold and wet presses against her lips.

"...sno cone...?"

"Jus' de t'ing, eh?"

She nods, still disoriented. Remy feels the tension in her body, as he as so many times before, when he has been near. Without being told to, he moves away from her side. Rogue feels another pair of hands place a stethoscope over her chest and back, then slip to her wrist to check her pulse.

"Liebling, turn your head this way, please."

Kurt's nimble fingers tilt Rogue's chin up.

"Eyes closed."

His hand rests lightly on her forehead as he quickly, expertly, checks her pupils with a small pen light. He flashes her a reassuring grin. Over his shoulder, Rogue sees Ororo's concerned face along with Mystique's dark scowl. Kurt checks the i.v. and nods, satisfied.

"I can remove the i.v. now if you like."

"If ya don't, sugah, ah will."

She hears the quiet chuckle rumble through Remy's chest. Ororo steps to her side, quickly applying cotton and a small bandage as Kurt smoothly withdraws the needle. Ororo studies Rogue's pale face.

"Are you certain you are up to your plans for today, Rogue? If you wish to postpone--"


Immediately, Rogue's green eyes brighten in anticipation as she remembers what this day promises.

"Ah have to be ready."

She squeezes Ororo's hand, reinforcing her plea.

"Whatever it takes."

Remy shares Mystique's frown at Rogue's mysteriousness.

"Chere, what--"

"Ah thought you an' Storm were goin' shoppin', sugah. Best get a move on."

Taking the cue, Storm pointedly grabs Remy's arm and steers him towards the door. Once inside the corridor, she quickly silences his protests by flashing Rogue's ring.

"There is still this matter to be addressed, thief."

Remy smiles disarmingly.

"Like dey girl say, padnat, I goin' shoppin' to replace de stone. N'est-ce pas?"

"If that was not your true intention before, then most assuredly it will be now."

Surprisingly, Remy finds himself relaxing in Ororo's company. He's amused by the attention she unknowingly draws from several men as she strides by, drawn by this window display or that objet d'art. Their overt stares strikes a playful chord in the recovering Cajun, drawing his mind away from a flurry of concerns.

As he lounges against a wall, patiently waiting for Ororo to complete a purchase, one of her bolder admirers approaches. Remy takes his time sizing him up with a long, slow scan from head to toe.

"You with the lady?"

"What you t'ink,homme?"

"No, I mean, are you with the lady?"

He winks. Remy grins, playing along.

"Ain't my type."

The man's oily smirk broadens into a grin. He takes a step towards Ororo, Remy intercepts, placing his body between the man and his goal.

"But you might be."

Remy returns the wink. The man blanches, then hurriedly backs away. Remy's voice follows.

"Y'breakin' my heart, mon ami!"

"Did I not tell you to behave yourself, Remy?"

Remy turns to greet Storm, the humor in her eyes belays her tone of voice.

"Jus' mingling wit' de locals, chere."


Remy whirls at the name, his pulse quickening.

"You're a rogue! You little scamp--!"

He locates the voice--a young mother chasing down her daughter, without much success. The young girl darts across the mall and into the children's area. Her auburn hair putting him in mind of another Rogue. His somber mood returns. He watches the child for a long moment with mixed feelings, until he feels Ororo's arm slip into his.

"The best medicine for Rogue will be for you to concentrate on healing yourself. Come. It should be all right for us to return now."

Remy throws her a quizzical look, but Ororo merely smiles.

When they return to the mansion, Ororo again makes a point of steering Remy. This time, she directs him away from the main entrance and into the kitchen. As soon as he enters, he's greeted by the lingering aroma of southern cooking at its best. Fried chicken. Hominy and grits. Greens. Peach cobbler. Ororo touches her fingers to a pot and frowns. The food has grown cold.

"Dis Rogue's surprise?"


He feels a warm glow spread through his body at the obvious effort that went into this special dinner. He steps into the dining room, and stops, taking in the sight. The table is set for two. Candles. Fine china. A tablecloth he recognizes from her hope chest. He senses Ororo joining him.

"Now dis is more like de welcome I was expectin'!"

"This was not for you, Remy."


Ororo sympathizes with his disappointment.

"Rogue received a letter from her father. In it he expressed his desire for reconciliation--and asked her forgiveness."

Storm gestures gracefully to the abandoned dining room.

"All of this was to welcome her father. Rogue requested that we leave, so that she might have a quiet reunion. As I feared, her efforts have been in vain."



Ororo's eyes narrow, suspicious of her companion's sudden pallor. Observant of his averted gaze. Her hand grips his arm.

"Tell me you are not involved in this."

His bleak eyes meet hers.

"Seemed like a good idea at de time."

The air around him crackles with the threat of unreleased energy. He can sense the storm brewing as Ororo's displeasure mounts. A gust of wind fans her hair wildly, before the room again falls into stillness. Without another word, she strides over to the table and quietly begins clearing the china. Remy starts to join her, but one icy glance convinces him otherwise.



"You have greatly disappointed me."

He turns to leave, his steps leaden, shoulders slumped as he slowly climbs the stairs and heads for Rogue's room.

For a moment, he says nothing. His throat tightens when he recognizes the dress Rogue wears. It's the one he gave her for her birthday. The one she never felt comfortable wearing because it left her arms and shoulders bare. She had promised him to wear it one day, on a day as special to her as the man who had given her the dress. Her words.

She reclines on an antique fainting couch, face turned towards the setting sun, rose-colored silk trailing onto the carpet. He notes the ribbon in her carefully curled hair. Definitely out of character for Rogue. But perhaps exactly the extra touch a father might appreciate seeing in his daughter. He glimpses her face in the mirror. When she lifts her eyes to his, he can see she's been crying.

"Ah really thought he'd come this time."

She speaks more to herself than to him, her mind still turning over the past several hours she has spent waiting, anticipating the moment she could once again step into her father's embrace.

"Dat's what you s'posed to think."

Confusion gives way to clarity as the true nature of the situation burns into Rogue's soul.

"Ya set me up?"


"Get out."

Her words are hollow, without anger, without any indication of how deeply his betrayal affects her. And in that instant, Remy LeBeau understands. He has finally hurt her deeply enough that she, too, must keep a tight reign on her emotions or risk losing herself to the pain. Finally, they come to each other from equal positions.


"Ya knew what this would mean to me!"

Her fury erupts like a sudden thunderstorm as she snatches a crystal atomizer from the bureau and hurls it. Remy's own mood quickly deteriorates to match hers. A flick of his wrist, and he deftly catches the perfume bottle before it strikes his chest.

In a surprising blur of movement, he slams and locks the door with one hand then turns and smoothly sends the crystal crashing into the newly installed mirror behind Rogue. Obvious displeasure brightens her eyes as she glances first at the silver confetti raining across the bureau, then back to Remy.

"Ev't'ing ain't 'bout you, Rogue!"


"Y'stop an' t'ink why I fake de letter? No, de only t'ing on y'mind is dat you got hurt. De only t'ing y'see, de only t'ing y'ever see is how ev'body hurt you. You so wrapped in y'self, you don' see what you doin' to ev'ryone else."

Her voice hardens.

"And just what is it that ah'm doin', Cajun?"

Maybe it's the tilt of her chin, or the tap of her fingernails against the table, but for a moment he sees Mystique's influence in Rogue's demeanor--and he hates it.

"Leavin' y'loved ones in death camps."

The blood drains from her face and Rogue's grip tightens on the arms of the chaise. It only takes a second for her to straighten her back and meet his eyes squarely. He admires her for that.

"Ah expect ya got more to say on that matter, Cajun. Don't stop on mah account."

"Maybe if enough time passes, I can understan' dat you was doin' what you thought was necessary, but still don' explain why you not willin' to offer me any comfort since I been back. Y'pushin' me away when I need you."

"Seems to me ah wasn't pushin' ya away the other night."

"It ain't about sex! Any homme could take you for a tumble in de sheets."

"'Scuse me?!"

He runs a tired hand through his hair, sweeping the long strands from his eyes.

"Y'know what I mean."

"Do ah?"

For long moment, he says nothing, merely watches the woman he loves, the woman he spent so many nights in hell dreaming about. The woman standing only a few feet away. Finally, close enough to touch, to hold. He has a fleeting thought of how much it would mean to him to have her make the first move for once. To have her willingly reach out and wrap him in the comfort of her arms.

To see himself reflected in her eyes as someone who brought depth and meaning to her life.

He walks slowly over to the vanity, letting his eyes and fingers trace all of the little knick knacks as if memorizing them. Her lipstick. Her perfume. Her gloves. With a heavy sigh, he settles onto the vanity chair, straddling it as he faces her. His foot brushes hers. She reacts by curling her feet beneath her. His voice is soft, raw with emotion.

"I wan' to hold you, feel you relaxin' against me. Wan' to see your eyes light up when I come in de room, wit'out bein' darkened wit' de fear dat I come too close. De comfort a your hand slippin' into mine. Don' matter t'me if y'got a hundred gloves on, mignonne, long as y'not flinchin' away like y'can' stand to be near me."

He reaches out.

"Remy, don't--"

She reacts instinctively, thoughtlessly, as she has dozens of times before. She flinches from his touch. She lifts her eyes to their fractured images reflected in the bureau, and for the first time realizes that she has left her own scars on this man.

"I'm tired a de games 'tween us. Dis is it, Rogue. Y'got one shot at bein' wit' me."

He rises smoothly from the chair and takes the final step to stand before her. Again he offers his hand. And waits.


"Y'ain't de one to decide what I do wit' my life, p'tite. I can live wit' de risks--been doin' it all my life. De important t'ing is, I wan' be wit' you, Rogue. Simple as dat."

"Ya askin' more from me than ah can give."

"I'm askin' you t'be dere for me when I'm hurtin'--like I was dere for you."

"Ah'm sorry, Remy."

"Go t'hell."

With that, he's gone, leaving Rogue in a room as suddenly cold and empty as her heart.


Continued in Chapter 29.


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