Home | Forum | Mailing List | Repository | Links | Gallery
 
 
Chapters
Chapter 1
 
 
 

Falling in Love: Once More for Old Heartís Sake - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by K-Nice
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 1

Ranged around the table were the combined might of the X-Men, Excalibur, X-Force and X-Factor. At the table's head sat the guest of honor: Professor Charles Francis Xavier. Recent events had pushed a wedge between Xavier and his extended family and this evening out as a group was the first step in repairing the relationships that had been damaged by Onslaught.

However, one of his former students was no longer enjoying this welcome home dinner. Her eyes flashed and saline solution began its trek down her cheek. She felt an unbound pressure building behind her eyes. A surging pain ran through her. There were voices in her head, though unintelligible that were forcefully crowding out her happy thoughts. She was losing control of herself and she didn't like it.

She looked across the table at Tabitha Smith's fair hair and pink cheeks. But just as Tabitha's appearance hid raging powers, Rogue's own rosy skin was concealing her inner warring. No one seemed to notice the slight paling of her forehead or the flush leaving her cheek as she sat at the dining table. She could feel herself spiraling into darkness.

Her hand leapt out at her left. Rogue felt the warmth of his hand through the lace evening gloves she wore on her fingers. She still could not touch his flesh but she was thrilled to even feel the warmth of another person's body. Even after her precious moments with another, his touch still had that power over her.

Remy had noticed the minute changes in her appearance.

He suspected Rogue was not quite herself and the desperation of her touch was proof: Rogue never tried to touch him, especially not since Joseph, or as Bobby once said, "The-Mutant-Formerly-Known-As-Magneto", had shown up. Remy and Rogue's relationship had become more than awkward, as relationships tend to when old flames appear out of nowhere, stoking old fires back to life. Remy's heart was still hers, even with the ever present questions as to where their relationship was heading, if it was heading anywhere.

He quickly rose to his feet, at the same time hoisting her into his arms. On the other side of Rogue's place, Joseph's face registered total shock. He was already miffed that Rogue chose to sit between himself and Gambit but now these theatrics on Gambit's part were the last straw.

Storm, who was seated across the table from Remy, was the first to react. Ororo turned Sam, who sat at her left, and said, "I may be leaving shortly." Unlike both Remy and Joseph, Storm had some insight into to what Rogue was going through. But before she could offer them her assistance, Remy was walking out the door of the private dining room.

None of the other guests really registered the scene as Remy shifted Rogue in a fireman's hold and strode across the elegantly carpeted floor. It was just too bizarre to be really happening. Remy made little noise, he just moved toward the door without saying a word. Logan was just turning to Jean and Scott, who occupied the seats near the head of the table, to comment, "Now, what is that crazy Cajun up to this time." Bobby heard and was about the crack one of his inane witticisms, when the door slammed.

Bishop half rose out of his chair but Shard pulled him down into their conversation. Scott was too dumbfounded to react but one look at Storm told him that whatever was up, was not an issue for the whole room to discuss. In fact, it seemed that most of them were not aware of the little drama that had just taken place. Scott figured he would leave things as they were and went back to his discussion with the Professor.

Outside the door, Remy bent to catch Rogue's shawl in mid-air as it floated from her pale shoulders. The door had barely closed behind him as Remy started stalking through the restaurant toward the outside doors. Even the officious Maitre D' realized this was a man on a mission and stayed away from those glowing eyes and grim visage. The patrons of The Arbor, Salem Center's trendiest continental restaurant, gaped as he marched past them and into the night outside. The incident was the subject of much conversation, at least until a busboy dropped a tureen of bouillabaisse on the floor, creating a whole new buzz.

As they crossed the parking lot, Rogue's breath became labored; her body trembled. Remy kept her over his shoulder even as he boarded the Harley he'd seen parked near the edge of the lot. He set her gently on the bike behind him. She shook violently as he removed the kickstand and up-righted the bike. In that instant he realized it wasn't Wolverine's bike. He shrugged. It was very convenient that the bike's ignition wires were exposed, making it easier to hot-wire it, since he had no idea whom it belonged to.

Rogue realized they would soon be on the move and wrapped her arms around his waist with all the strength she could muster. She was temporarily bereft of her super-strength due to the lingering effects of Joseph's Z'noxx neutralizer. She hoped the results would be temporary.

Blue-white smoke covered the ground behind them as he roared the bike out of the parking lot. They hit the road driving around 40 mph. Remy kept the bike under control while looking to the sides of the road for a very specific place. Rogue just struggled to keep her grip.

She pressed her face into his back as the pain shivered through her. Yet, even as it intensified, she grew more optimistic. Rogue's trembling lessened as they got farther from the restaurant, farther from Joseph, but she was starting to shiver. She was wearing a sheer long sleeved jacket over a sleeveless dress and the wind was whipping through her clothes.

Remy drove three miles down the road before he found what he wanted -- a deserted but well lit parking lot.

He pulled into the lot of a Dairy Queen that was about to close for the evening and parked the bike near the back of the parking area. He twisted around to look at her. Though the maintained their strict silence, he could see that she had been crying. He had seen her blind, and even near death but he had never seen her look so physically and emotionally weak. Holding her steady with his arm around her waist, he sat down facing her with the bike throbbing and purring beneath them.

She saw his black leather driving gloves as he crooked his finger under her chin and asked softly, gently, "Do you wanna talk, chère?"

As his words reached her ears, she again began to cry. No, Rogue didn't want to talk but this situation would force her to explain herself. She didn't know how to tell him that she was losing her mind. So, she said nothing.

Remy didn't draw her to him but he hesitated, questioning whether she would welcome the gesture of comfort, seeing she had pretty much taken up with Joseph of late. He knew that she was trying to keep it from him but he knew she could touch Joseph, just like she could touch Magneto. And Joseph had manipulated the Z'noxx technology in the Mansion's sub-basement to make a device to help Rogue with her powers. Remy knew these things but he was leaving it up to Rogue to tell him what that meant for her. For them.

The instant that he waited was enough for her to seek refuge in him, specifically in his shoulder. Her head rocked against his shoulder for about ten minutes and in that period of semi-silence, the front of his suit jacket became as wet as the back.

She stopped crying but did not remove her head, or take her hands from gripping his shirt. She was panting, but she didn't say a word. Remy pushed her off of him without a word.

Remy moved so that she was sitting up front on the bike. He placed his hands over hers and revved the motorcycle's engine. Even though he knew she had probably ridden before, he kept his hands on hers to help her steer the bike as they pulled onto the roadway again. She seemed so shaky that he didn't want to take any chances. They drove on for a mile like that, hand over hand, back towards the restaurant.

Suddenly, she spoke. Clear as a bell, her voice never faltering, she tried to joke, saying, "Ah hope they don't think we ditched them back there at dinner. How embarrassing! I wonder what Joseph would have thought of this ride. I bet he would have enjoyed it too."

The awkwardness that followed was brief but telling. Remy tried not to show it in his face or his body language, but he couldn't care less about what Joseph would enjoy. He turned the handles abruptly and slowed the bike. He guided them into a small clearing near the side of the road.

He whispered to her, "Look." She was staring back at the road, thinking about Joseph, when he tenderly put his hand on her neck and turned her head so she could see what he was looking at.

She gasped almost silently. From the clearing, the Hudson River looked only a few feet away. A barge chugged along in the night air. On either side of the river, houses snuggled in for the evening, their warmth welcoming their families home. The surrounding countryside sloped toward the river. Farther away, they could see all the towns surrounding it were laid out before them. It was beautiful.

It reminded her of the mighty Mississippi River, so many hundreds of miles away. There was a cruise boat moving through the water, making the water sparkle around it, so much like the river boats of Mississippi, cutting through the cool night air. The splendor of it offered Rogue strength in her time of need. She was haunted by her own indecision, and she could not forgive herself if she hurt either of the men in her life. She had experienced so little love in her life that she couldn't bear to break another's heart or to lose the attention Remy and Joseph showered her with. Yet, she knew she had to make the decision that was right for her. And that might hurt them both.

Looking at the Hudson, she remembered the way the Mississippi River had appeared in her childhood. Through the ear of her past she could hear the raging of that river and its swift tributaries, only a few miles from the house she grew up in, the house she had fled when her family rejected her and her powers. She shivered wordlessly when she thought that, at the same time she was finding out how hard life can be when you're different, down-river in Louisiana, Remy had been learning the same lessons, only in vastly different, and more dangerous, ways. She had only and inkling of what he had gone through from the memories that were floating in her head. His was one of the voices that had plagued her at the restaurant and she could feel the echoes of her absorption of his mind.

Remy sensed her pensiveness, and it came naturally to him, like a well-honed reflex, to rouse in her a physical way, in a manner that would put him at an advantage over his rival, if only for the moment. Joseph was at least two miles away while Remy was right there, close enough to touch. It was almost an unconscious motion when he placed his hands on her bare shoulders, the tips of his gloved fingers barely caressing her skin. He felt her shiver with pleasure at the gentle contact. The feeling was electric as it passed through their bodies. Rogue closed her eyes but did not respond.

He was looking down at her neck, like a vampire planning his next move, when her head shifted so she could look into the woods around them. He too turned his eyes toward the forest, as his hands drifted down her arms then caressed her sides. She seemed to be feeling better and for once they weren't fighting. He felt a measure of peace come over him.

They sat like that, watching the trees stand confidently around the flicker and motion of forest creatures. A deer darted through the clearing, startling them both. Rogue gathered her courage and decided to wade into the shattered silence.

This time, when she spoke her voice was shaky but her words were sure and from her heart. "Ah'm afraid to tell you this, but this touching thing, Joseph can give me that. Ah haven't touched another human being since Ah was a little girl." She would always remember that last touch.

"Remy, it has nothing to do with how Ah feel about you. I still love you, Ah want you to know that foh sure, but . . . Ah have this need, the same need you have: to touch, to hold, to love and be loved, to feel it in every part of me. And theah's just no other way for me to get what I need."

She sighed and watched at his troubled face. He was taking this very well, considering. "Don't hate Joseph foh this. It's my choice and I choose to touch him. Ah cain't . . . Ah cain't stay with you bahcause eitha Ah'll hurt you or you'll get tired of waitin' on me. Ah want to end this thing now--while we can still be friends, instead of lettin' it drag out and destroy us both. Ah need this and raght now, Ah don't need you. Ah love ya, but Ah don't need ya."

She stared into his smoldering eyes, "You understand, don't ya?" Her voice faded away petulantly. He was still not responding to her. She expected him to get angry, to rage against her decision, but he seemed calmer than she was. She let her emerald green eyes search his face, waiting for either an outburst or some kind of acceptance. She was hoping for the acceptance.

He looked at her with none of the sympathy or understanding she had been aiming for. For once in their relationship, he said what he really f elt, the only honest thing he could say. He told her the truth, the truth she was always demanding of him. As he spoke the anger in his voice was nakedly apparent. "How dare you?" The three words were ground out underneath his breath. Rogue's eyes were riveted to his. He was bitter. It was one thing to break up with him. It was a whole other thing to delude herself.

"Oh, all of a sudd'n you love me? Ya spend all ya time saying 'you can't love me if you can't trus' me,' that 'you don' t'ink you can trus' me if I don' tell you everyt'in,' 'you don't t'ink I know what love is.' And all along you've been de one wit' de misconceptions. You t'ink not bein' able to touch each odda is our problem?" He grunted. "Il n'est pas. If only you were willin' ta touch me . . . " He broke off wistfully. There was so much she didn't know and it seemed she didn't want to know those things anymore. She had made her choice and it wasn't him. But, her decision was about more than their relationship. It was about her life and he hated to see her make a choice she would regret later. Even he could see that everything with Joseph was not as it seemed. He had to let her see what this was really all about.

"Ya so afraid a' ya powers dat ya'll never let yaself be happy."

She broke in, somewhat defensively, "Remy that's a lie. Ya see what I'm tryin' ta do now. Ah'm trying to learn to deal with mah powers, ta learn to live with 'em. You're just upset because Joseph can give me what you cain't no matta how hard you try. He can give me a chance at a normal life."

"Ha," Remy barked, "Normal Life! Are you serious, Rogue? Chère, lissen ta me: Theah's nothin' normal about dis power neutralizer he got rigged up. You'll be dependent on it. You'll nevah learn ta control ya powers on ya own. Dat's wha' I want foh ya, not ta be controlled by some alien machine, but to be in control, of yaself. I care a lot foh ya, and if I t'ought you'd bahlieve me, I'd tell you que je t'aime, mais I know ya don' wanna heah dat from me." Now he sighed. This, what would the last of their long string of arguments, was getting them nowhere.

"You're right, ya know. I got no idea how ta love you 'cause I got no idea who you really are. You don' know who you are. And ya won' botha tryin' ta find out as long as ya got yah powers to hide behin'." She flinched. He had hit too close to the heart of the matter. Lately, she literally didn't know who she would be from one minute to the next. Like that day Storm had caught her trying to pee standing up. She had thought she was Scott, just one of the many she had absorbed in the past. Remy's words were true in more ways than one. She turned away as he continued.

He paused, disgusted with the whole situation, himself especially. "Look, we need to get back. I saw ya in pain an' I t'ought I could help, mais, it just not possible for us at dis point. We just too far 'part now. You take de bike back, an', ya know, explain t'ings to everyone . . . especially to Joseph. I guess we can' break up since we nevah officially been togedder." That hurt, both to say and to hear.

He shifted his weight behind her. "I . . . I'm gonna need some time . . . to t'ink. I'll see y'all as soon as I figure t'ings out." Remy was in anguish. She didn't want him, or his love. No matter that he had begun to invest all his hope in her, that she was one of the things that kept him sane. He needed to hurt something as badly as she had hurt him. He also needed to get as far away from her and "Joseph" as possible. He couldn't stand to lose her and he couldn't stand to watch her lose herself.

He was off the bike and leaving through the woods, heading away from the road, before she could say anything. That was a shame since she had realized that in some ways he was right. She couldn't tell him how right but he had hit the proverbial nail. Besides, she had a great rebuttal ready, about his lies and self-delusions, but he gave her no opportunity to deliver it. He was lost among the tangle of branches and limbs in the forest.

She started the bike up and looked around one last time. For the second time in their relationship, she knew she was losing him but this time there was something she could do about it. She would take his words to heart and see what could be done about her powers. Only, this time she would turn to Joseph for help.

Then it came to her: She hadn't turned to Joseph when she felt herself passing out. She had gone to Remy, instinctively knowing he would help, as he had helped so often in the past. She didn't know what he would do, but she knew he would find some way to make it better.

Her physical pain stemmed from the neutralizer yet she still believed it was the only way for her to gain control of her curse instead of letting it control her. Remy had at least reopened her eyes, reminding her of the future possibilities they had both dreamed of, dreams she was trying to reject. Rogue was willing to go through the pain and insanity of the Z'noxx chamber if it meant she would ultimately be able to regulate her powers, even to a small extent. She was tired of waiting.

Yet, what made the pain of the Z'noxx chamber, and the every present threat of losing herself in the souls within her, more desirable than the pain of trial and error, the agony of gaining true control of herself, of knowing herself? Rogue stared into the night, until she made her decision, freeing herself from life as human ping-pong ball, bouncing between Remy and Joseph, ad infinim.

Rogue straddled the bike for a minute before riding onto the road. Alone. She was not like Remy, however, who was too proud to act on what was in his heart. Rogue was ready to live her life and she knew who she wanted to live it with. She just hoped that he would be ready when she finally returned to him.

Gambit watched her go from a thicket. He would have lit a cigarette if it wasn't for the threat of forest-fire. It might not have mattered. The tears falling from his eyes would have put the fire out. He should have felt something else other than this hollow, aching grief. He imagined he would rather any other feeling than this breathless pain in the heart. But it was better than the guilt of lying to her, the shame of dissembling every time he looked in her eyes.

She had meant it when she said she loved him. And he had known he would have to let her go. Because he loved her too much to hurt her anymore.

He walked to the road, aimed himself toward Graymalkin Lane and wept in the still of the night.

 

GambitGuild is neither an official fansite of nor affiliated with Marvel Enterprises, Inc.
Nonetheless, we do acknowledge our debt to them for creating such a wonderful character and would not dream of making any profit from him other than the enrichment of our imaginations.
X-Men and associated characters and Marvel images are © Marvel Enterprises, Inc.
The GambitGuild site itself is © 2006 - 2007; other elements may have copyrights held by their respective owners.