Night was a singular thing in New Orleans, Remy thought. Too often he had spent his waking hours during darkness, prowling streets and rooms and alleyways and anonymous ladies' beds in the small hours, forcing sanity upon madness. In the darkness flaws seemed less apparent, and vices became a thing of beauty. Shadows followed, sucked you in whole, hiding all ugly truths from the outside world, turning the ungainly into phantoms and the elegant into the wanton and lewd. Remy had become a proprietor of this world, slipping in and out of the shades at will, preferring most times to become an extension of them. A man may mark him but never know his face; a woman may know him and lose him before the morning filtered through her bedroom window. Night was Remy's province, his domain, and he its master. It was his gambling den, his boudoir, his sanctuary. It asked no questions, needed no answers. It was his ally, his oldest friend.
But tonight, it was his enemy.
Now the shadows haunted him, taunted him, dogged on his heels and mocked him. He felt trapped in his own element, ridiculed by those of his own kind. One shot at redemption he'd had. He'd gone to the X-Men seeking penance, an atonement for his sins. None had come with any ease. He had never truly believed that Xavier's dream would absolve him of his past wrongdoings. At best, he had only pretended it would be so.
But then, on the beaches of Muir Island, he'd met a girl, alike and yet unlike him, willful yet innocent. In the strange rationality that had governed most of his life, he had simply chosen to view her as another one of his potential conquests. He hadn't bothered to figure out the illogical mess that the whole affair was – he, after all, was incapable of touching her – he simply knew that he wanted her, and that was the only factor the primeval laws of the hunt took into account. Besides, the chemistry had been there from the first moment they had laid eyes upon one another, and so he had shrugged and thought, well, one day they might be able to work something out.
He hadn't meant to fall in love with her. He hadn't meant to hang around for her sake. From desire had sprung affection, from affection, love. A love restricted purely to the bonds of the spiritual, not the physical. To Remy, it had been a bizarre complication, but he had still stuck it out, long enough for him to learn what it was to love, long enough to taste her, long enough to believe that she was the one to redeem him. And every time they had wanted more she had pushed him away. At first he had accepted it, believing he deserved it. But the last time had been a time too many. He was angry, bitter, resentful. He'd given himself to her, promised to be there for her, to love her unconditionally, only to be turned away. And now she had come back to him because it suited her, because now there were no more strings attached and she was her own free woman.
The streets played before his eyes as he walked, impersonal, hostile. He paused, striking a trashcan with his fist, venting the raw violence of his vengeance before moving on. She had betrayed him, stolen from him, sucked the love out of him without return. He'd tried, God knew he'd tried to meet her halfway, but she had rubbished every attempt at compromise that he had made, accusing him of untrustworthiness, of weakness, of an inability to love her. Ironic, he thought, when all his life, all he had needed was to love her the way he did, to be loved the way she had loved him.
He sucked in a breath, stopping, leaning into the dark niche of some building, finding consolation in the shadow's embrace. Dieu, and how she had loved him, offering the tender softness of her body to him, those gentle arms and sweet lips, the richness of her curves, the comfort of her warm core… He groaned at the recollection of what they had shared, the intimacy that had been there's for far too short a time. Day in, day out, in the dead of the night the memory haunted him, of her smooth limbs wound about him, welcoming him into a place he had known only in dreams and had always called home. Even that, she had stolen from him. How could he love her now, when she had given herself to him and withdrawn herself from him, playing with his emotions, with his heart, tossing them aside as only so much trash?
And therein lay his dilemma.
He still wanted her, wanted her with a passion that knew no bounds, now that he knew he could have her. He had returned to the X-Men expecting to find himself angry with her, rejecting her, pushing her aside as she had done him. But meeting her again, he had not been able to do so. He would have, he told himself. He would have, if only she weren't so damn delicious, still as beautiful, still as attractive, still as irresistible. It hadn't seemed fair. He'd wanted to shout at her, argue with her, physically fight with her if he had to. But, face to face with her again, he couldn't. She still loved him, still wanted him. He still wanted her. Simple, apart from the festering of the wounds she had dealt him. He had been caught in the most torturous of traps, unable to repulse her, unable to love her, his rage contained, simmering under the surface.
He began to walk again, his cheeks hot in the sharp wind. It was an intolerable situation, one he had masked under his usual cool casualness. The bubbling concoction of unvented fury and untapped passion made for volatile bedfellows. If he hadn't been so furious, he would probably have checked himself before both emotions had got out of hand. Now, it was too late. Every moment spent with her was torture. His longing for vengeance was stoked only by his desire for her. His fantasies were brutal, savage. His dreams were even worse. Every tender moment they had shared was twisted into a nightmarish parody where he would ravish her, rip her body apart as he made love to her, only to wake up sweating profusely and painfully aroused. The violence of his thoughts frightened him, horrified him even. He could not purge himself of them, tantalizing and forbidden as they were. Every day the sense of betrayal only grew stronger, the need to whet his raging appetite only consumed him all the more.
He halted, breathing heavily, looking about him with a sudden sense of familiarity. He stood in a square, illuminated by the frosty lamplight, embraced by the cold. Here he had come as a boy, dressed in his Sunday best, Jean-Luc by his side, ushering him by the hand up towards the imposing building whose shadow he now stood in. Looking up, he remembered that great height, the sharp spindly steeple branching off into a place he did not believe existed, the scenes of an alien time and an alien land etched into colored glass. The church called out to him, and he obeyed, because he had nothing else, no other recourse. He did not believe in God – but he believed in himself even less.
Slowly he pushed open the heavy oak door, assailed suddenly by the dark scenes of his childhood – polished hewn pews and gold-adorned statues, candles burning in nooks and corners, pillars and carvings and symbols and incense and musty cold air. He inched forwards, and the door creaked shut behind him. All it had taken was one step to be thrust back into this old world, a far more innocent world, a world divorced so totally from his present. The church meant nothing to him, but it had once – it had meant security and safety and routine and purity and virtue. Sin had touched him then, but had not been his. He had known darkness, but he had not feared to be consumed by it. Maybe now he thought that he might be able to recapture that lost past. Maybe redemption might be found here, where he had lost it.
He walked down the isle, not thinking, genuflecting before the white altar, sliding into one of the pews, kneeling down, hands clasped, and it all seemed so strange, so odd, so mechanical.
"Je vous salut Marie…" he began, quietly, only to pause, trying to remember the words. Images flittered into his mind, unbidden, bestial, and he closed his eyes, struggling to even his breathing.
"Je vous salut Marie, pleine de grâce, le Seigneur est avec vous…"
Words, words, he'd tried too hard to talk, all that mattered were actions, not prayers…Pleadings for mercy, not her apologies, her stupid, worthless apologies…
"…Vous êtes béni entre toutes les femmes, et Jésus le fruit de vous entraille est béni…"
…He shouldn't have left her there, not when he had been so close, so close to holding her, to showing her what it was like to suffer…
"…Sainte Marie, Mère de Dieu, priez pour nous pauvre pècheurs…"
…And if it was a sin to make her struggle, to hold her down and defile her, then God in heaven help him, it would only be the last sin in a list of many…
"…Maintenant et a l'heure de notre mort…"
…And it wouldn't matter anyhow, because when it was over, he'd be dead inside, and so would she.
He raised his hand, sweat beading on his forehead, his eyes suddenly wet. Mon Dieu, let me love her, he thought, please let me love her…
He made the sign of the cross, tentative, feeling as though he had desecrated the sanctuary with his thoughts. No one, he thought, would answer his prayer. The room seemed cold, indifferent to his pain, his guilt, his remorse. He had come here because it had suited him, just as it had suited her to come back to him. He deserved no forgiveness, no reparation for his sins. Even the very church he sought solace in seemed to refute him, disown him. He had sinned too much. Lied too much, stolen too much, killed too much. He was heinous and damned. Too mired in filth to be saved. Too corrupt to be loved, too wicked to love in return.
He forced back the bile in his throat, self-loathing mingling with the hate and lust inside him. All these years, and suddenly it became clear to him. He was beyond repair.
Trembling, he stood up, slid out of the pew, wanting to run from this place full of ghosts. But he walked, because he had never run from anything in his life, only turned his back on them because he believed them beneath his attention.
"Remy? Remy Entienne LeBeau?"
He looked up, surprised. By the sacristy stood the old parish priest, gnarled of face, ancient as a twisted birch tree, silvery blue eyes hidden behind thick-rimmed glasses. Many things had changed since Remy had last been here – this man, apparently, had not.
"Father Lardinois," he nodded in greeting, advancing towards the aging priest out of politeness, and because the exit stood behind him.
"Ah, so it is you," the old man smiled benevolently. "Must've been all of ten years since I saw you last. How is Jean-Luc?"
"My father is well."
"Ah, good." The man appraised him, silent, hawk-eyed. "And you have grown into a fine young man, dear boy. What brings you here? The last time I heard, you were in New York."
"Vacation," Remy replied, his tone non-commital. He wanted to leave. Every fibre of his being cringed at the thought of staying another minute.
"I see." There was a look in the old man's eyes, oddly divorced from the rest of his face. Remy wondered, fleetingly, inanely, whether the man was a mutant like himself, a mind-reader. He coughed, wanting to vomit, disguising his sudden horror with an effort.
"Excusé moi," he apologised. "Smokin'. Bad habit."
"We all have our vices," the priest nodded, his words slow, deliberate.
"I've seen no reason t' give it up yet."
"Non? Nothing? No wife, no children?"
Silence, momentary, almost imperceptible. Remy glanced at his watch.
"I should be gettin' back."
"Nice t' meet you again, father."
"You too, M'sieu LeBeau. Take care now."
He made for the door, pushing it open wide, blanching in the gust of frigid air that came gushing in. For a moment he stood, contemplating, uncertain of his path, of what lay before him.
"M'sieu LeBeau?" the old man's voice spoke.
"Oui?" He half-looked back over his shoulder.
"The confessional is open, you know."
He considered the invitation, considered slipping into the darkened box and kneeling there, head bent in repentance, letting out the tirade of lies and deception and folly and wickedness, unravelling the thread of depravity and wrongdoing, laying the burden of his guilt before an invisible God, weeping in remorse and regret at the wasteland that was his life. There was comfort and promise in that thought, and he would have turned round accepted the ancient priest's offer, but for one vile sin that he could not confess. How could he say it? How could he kneel there and admit that he wanted to rape the woman he loved?
He opened the door wider, turned away.
"Sorry, father," he murmured. "Thank you, but no t'anks."
He stepped forwards, back into the cold, back into the dark arms of the night.
The entirety of 'Rogue Psychology' can be read at www.geocities.com/cassphang100/
It has not been posted here due to mature themes rated NC-17.