author: Alex L
rating/genre: (R) - Drama/Angst
warnings: Het, language, adult situations, attempted rape
summary: Not all homecomings are happy ones. R for language, disturbing imagery, and references to attempted rape. Featuring Iceman, Wolverine, Gambit, Jubilee, Rogue, and Storm, as well as other favorites.
comments/disclaimers: While I don't own any of the characters (Marvel), this story is mine, mine.
Chapter Fourteen: More Than This
Remy LeBeau had just stepped out of the shower, his muscles still weary from the Danger Room session he had with Storm earlier that evening. During the session, he could tell there was something on his friend's mind that had troubled her for days, but that she was also hesitant to share with him. While he did not want to pry, he was still concerned and offered to end the session early so that she could sort things out. After all, who was he to force someone to open with his or her secrets when he had so many of his own to guard? To his surprise, she had taken him up on his offer.
That was before she played rough with Gambit, he mused, stretching his lean, muscular arms over his head. Despite her graceful appearance, Ororo was quite the competitor. Not only were her powers at manipulating the weather awe-inspiring, but also she had become skilled in hand-to-hand combat, thanks to Logan's training. No amount of charged objects or Cajun charm could take that away from her. Not that he wanted to. She had come a long way since the little girl he had met in the Bayou many years ago.
He leaned over the white porcelain sink, peering at his reflection in the bathroom mirror. The years had aged him, adding tiny lines around places where they had not been before. However, these signs of aging did not diminish the attractiveness of his chiseled features. Despite the cool and gray weather of upstate New York, he had managed to maintain his golden skin from his days in the tropics. His wavy, auburn hair, which he had worn long in his younger days, was now cut short, leaving sideburns and the top slightly longer so that his locks would flop over his brow. Steamy days in Jamaica saw to that decision in a heartbeat. The Cajun thief's long, lean body was still muscular and tight, thanks to daily Danger Room sessions and the occasional field mission.
Remy knew he was a good-looking man. To deny it, would be lying and to him, he had told enough lies to last himself a lifetime. A person would be hard-pressed to think of a time when a woman did not flirt with him. This was especially true at the mansion, where he had cultivated a fan base among both the female instructors and the female students. He was, as Alex Summers put it in a conversation last week, "A chick magnet."
Naturally, Remy made good use of what he had born with. While he was in Jamaica, he had his share of female acquaintances-all of whom were only to eager to please. Who was he to say no? Besides, he deserved their comfort after all he had been through prior to coming to the island. He had been to hell and back, both physically and psychologically.
Yet, for all the companionship he had, there was still something missing.
It always came back to Rogue.
The first woman he had declared his love to. The first woman he had relationship with without being physically intimate. The first woman he thought of during those months in Antarctica.
Now the woman who was with someone else, who was not Remy LeBeau.
The first weeks after his return to the mansion had been incredibly awkward. He could see that she was doing her best to avoid him in all situations-whether it was during Danger Room sessions or on field missions. She clung to her new boyfriend, Joseph, as if for dear life whenever Remy was in the same room.
There were times when he wanted to confront her, to demand to know whether or not she really loved that man. However, Remy could sense that like him, Rogue was still hurting-from his lies and from what she had done all those years ago. No amount of coercion was going to change that. So, he had given her space, allowed her to treat him as if he had the plague.
Why? He supposed it was because he was still in love with her. At the same time, every opportunity he saw her, Remy could not help but feel some growing resentment and anger towards Rogue. Who was she to play the victim? It was he who was stranded alone in the arctic. He was the one was betrayed. He was the one who was left to die. He was the one who was now struggling to prove his loyalty to the likes of Scott and Warren in order to gain their trust again (other than Storm, Wolverine, Jean, and Jubilee, his allies were scarce). And her? She got to start all over again without him. She has the sympathy of some of the teammates.
His red irises flashed as the wave of frustration soon subsided. Non, he decided, no one is to blame. Not for any of this.
There was a soft rapping at his door. Without thinking of who could be on the other side of the door, he swung the door open while clad in only a white towel around his hips. Nothing could prepare him for who the visitor was.
Rogue's cheeks immediately turned crimson. Her eyes cast down to the floor as she mumbled, "Oh, Ah'm sorry. Ah'll come back later.When ya decent." She began to turn on her heel to leave.
His fingers grasped her sleeved arm gently. "Non, chère," he said huskily. Then he added teasingly, "Come on in. Gambit not modest."
"No, really. It wouldn't be right."
"When you get shy, chère?"
"Ah'm not shy."
"Ah just don't think Ah should be talking with ya when ya half-naked, swamp rat."
"And why dat be?"
"It's not decent, is all."
"Afraid you get distracted, chèrie?"
"Distracted? Don't flatter yourself."
"It's been known to happen, Rogue. Call it a phenomenon."
She groaned and shoved him back inside the room with her gloved hands, closing the door swiftly behind her. Her hazel eyes were simmering with irritation, which she masked behind a controlled countenance. She was dressed less casually, wearing a pair of black, flannel cropped cargo pants, a black-and-white wool, zip-up cardigan, and a pair of mid-calf, black high-heeled boots. Her brown hair with white streaks was loose, framing her lightly made-up face.
Rogue scanned the room, a place she had spent a great deal of time a long time ago. Nothing much had changed since its occupant returned. The decor was a mix of sophisticated, cutting-edge modern touches with English classics, outfitted in black-and-white menswear fabric and accents of regal purple. Against the rich backdrop of the glossy purple walls was an ebony bedside chest with distinctive graining and striations. A stately, crystal hurricane with a silver and ebony base echoed the elegance of the chest it was perched upon. On the far side of the wall was his king-sized bed with its tufted leather frame and shirting striped and necktie silk bedding with dapper black-and-white patterns. The comforter, which she had purchased for him still remained-a herringbone alpaca blanket with touches of purple velvet, alligator, and mink. At the other end of the room was a sitting area, composed of a Lawson-style sofa upholstered in purple, plush auburgine velvet with rolled arms and nailhead trim, and a sleek modern chair made of high-tech carbon fiber and streamlined black leather.
As comfortable and inviting as the sitting area was to her, Rogue remained standing. She nervously crossed her arms over her chest, acutely aware of Remy's eyes gazing upon her with great intensity. "Ah wanted to say.Ah wanted to say." Her eyes fluttered away from his face, wanting desperately to finish her thought. Suddenly, it wasn't the fact that he was almost nude that was distracting her.
"Say what, chère?" While he was standing not very close, he could still feel her discomfort. He thought about touching her arm as an act of placating, but decided against it. He could never be sure if she would take it the wrong way.
"Forget it. Ah should have never come."
"Wait, chère. What is it?"
She turned her back to him, realizing it was the only way she was going to be able to express a cogent thought. "Ah wanted to say thank you. for takin' care of me that night. Ah wasn't right in my head."
Remy felt a weight being lifted from his shoulders. This was a start. She was trying to be civil. She was the one initiating a conversation. After a brief pause, he said quietly, "You're welcome."
Then he inquired, "You remember everyt'in, chère?"
"Some-a little here and there with some help from Tabitha and Sarah. Ah remember ya tryin' to get me to drink some water and take Advil. Ah should have listened to you on that one. Ah felt like hell the next day. Almost thought about absorbin' Logan again to get some healin' factor in me."
Then she turned around to face him again, chewing on her lower lip. "Ah also remember sayin' really nasty and cruel things to ya, Remy," she continued, her voice dropping in volume to a slight whisper. "Ah.Ah didn't mean 'em. An don't know why Ah said 'em in the first place."
"Sometimes, we say t'ings we don' mean when we drink. Alcohol is like dat, chère."
"Still, Ah shouldn't have said those things."
"No, let me finish. They were hurtful."
"Chère, you didn't know. You were not yourself."
"Ya too kind, Remy. Ah basically called ya a child molester and then Ah.then Ah."
His red-on-black eyes watched as his former lover struggle to contain her emotions. There was so much going on inside of her at that moment. He wanted to pull her close to him and tell her that it was fine; that she could never hurt him as badly as she thought she did. Instead, he edged closer to her and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"You don' have to say anymore, chère."
She did not pull away, but finished her sentence. "Ah threw myself at ya as if ya were goin' to go for that, like some monster. That's not what Ah think of ya, Remy. Ah know you're a decent man."
He stared at her. For so long he had wanted to hear those last words come from her mouth. Now that he heard them, he wasn't sure how to react. Surprised, elated, smug? No. He simply continued to stare at her.
For her part, Rogue did not sense his confusion. She interpreted his stunned reaction as something else. Disgust? Anger? She didn't want to find out. "Ah know ya must not think too highly of me..."
At that moment, she wanted to run to the door, open, and race out before she lost her composure. However, her body was not cooperating. Rogue found herself planted in place, her eyes meeting the Cajun thief's, which were now smoldering. He took a few steps closer to her and she could smell his freshly showered skin, which had a fresh pine scent to it.
"Chère, how could you say dat? Gambit never judge you."
"Cajun, Ah know. Ah'm sorry Ah put you in an awkward position."
He leaned towards her. "Rogue, you t'ink Gambit look down at you after a night of drinking? Just because you drink a little too much, you t'ink you hurt me? Den you don' know Gambit well." Both of his hands were on her shoulders, gripping them tightly. There were so many things that were going through his mind at that moment that he wanted to say, but was afraid to. All he could think of doing was to hold her closer, to see if she could understand by just meeting his gaze.
Slowly, gloved fingertips grazed his stubble-ridden cheek. "Remy." she whispered, hazel eyes brimming with tears. What is happening to me? Why am I acting like this? I just came to apologize and I'm totally losing my mind. I shouldn't have.What was I thinking? Was I thinking? Oh, God.
"Why you cry, chèrie?" he asked, his hand holding hers gently.
"Ah.Ah didn't mean to hurt ya." From the way Rogue choked out that statement, it was unclear if she meant that night or before. "Ah never meant to hurt ya."
"Shh." He stroked her hair, careful to keep his fingers away from her face. Then he placed an arm around her waist and drew her close to him. He made sure that her face and neck did not come close to his bare chest, which did not take anything away from the embrace. His lips brushed against her hair. He could smell her familiar and warm scent, pears and vanilla-sweet but subtle.
Rogue's gloved hands raced up and down his muscular back. Her fingers traced light, feathery circles into his sinewy skin. She was breathing heavily, her breath hot against his chest. She also found herself pressed against him tightly, feeling every inch of him underneath. Slowly, she raised her head to stare into those handsome features she had loved for so long-perfectly sculpted lips, chiseled cheekbones, red-on-black eyes, and thick, wild hair of winter fire. Not at all like.
Suddenly, she pulled away, taking several steps away from. Her back was against the door. "Ah can't," she breathed, face flushed pink. She nervously smoothed out her sweater and her hair.
Remy sauntered towards her, his face filled with confusion. "Chère?" He reached out a hand to touch her shoulder, but she jerked away abruptly. What happened? What changed?
"Ah can't," she repeated, almost stoically. Then she blurted out, "Ah love him."
Remy almost winced when he realized what stopped her. Rather, who. Even when he was thousands of miles away, Joseph still managed to have the upper hand. He groaned inwardly, wanting to tear his hair out in frustration. Instead, he whispered, "I know. He's a good man. Gambit see how he treats you."
"Then ya understand." Rogue wanted to convince herself that he did. It would be easier for her if he did. Then all of this would go away.
He sighed in resignation. "Non, chère. I just want you to be happy. You deserve it."
"So that's what ya want."
"Oui, Rogue. Vraiment."
She tried to smile, but it came out as a grimace. Gripping the doorknob, Rogue nodded slowly. "Then everythin's settled."
Remy returned the nods, glumly. There was nothing he could else he could say to her without feeling like traitor to himself. He allowed her to continue to think what she wanted.
"Good, good. Ah'm glad we talked." She opened the door and slipped outside, retreating into the safety of the hallway. Her footsteps were lightly as she jogged towards her own bedroom, which was on the other side of the hallway.
Remy closed the door behind her. He rested his forehead and palms against it, feeling the cool wood against his skin. His shoulders heaved as he said softly, "I want you to be happy. I want you to be happy wit' me, chère.
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