Author's Note: One rabid plot-bunny unclenched from my leg...two more to go. This is between X-Treme #19 and #31, during some random night at Valle Soleada. Impuissant: French, powerless.
Thank edanielrya and Ludi for the urge to write; after you're done with this, go and pay homage to them. Well worth it.
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It was, Remy admitted to himself, a beautiful night. The moon was low in the western horizon, only hours before the first rays of light greeted them from over the mountains in the east. It wasn't humid, but the dry air was warm and occasionally a sea breeze would offer a bit of relief to the two people lounging on the pier.
Funny, how only months before, their dates at night had consisted of bar fights and all that hero business. He was glad to be rid the responsibility, glad for the change in scenery. Life had been getting old fast and now there was a peace he hadn't experienced before, anywhere.
If he had one small, minor complaint, it was his powers. He missed them, more than he admitted and more than Rogue knew. The urge to charge something and then watch in satisfaction as it blew up came and went, but mostly he missed the feeling because it had given him a sense of security, something to fall back on in case his other non-mutant abilities fell through. The one thing that bothered him most was his eyes. They'd caused him so much pain throughout his entire life and they were still riding shotgun. It didn't quite make sense to him that his powers were gone and his eyes were still red on black, but after all, you couldn't change genetics.
He didn't let it trouble him now. They were simply enjoying the night. She sat on the railing of the pier, dangling her feet over the edge. He lay back to watch the stars, taking advantage of the darkness this time of the night offered. They discovered that between the hours of two and five in the morning the lamplights were turned off and offered more secrecy. Not that they cared if anyone saw them on their midnight walks, but it felt more private, as if they owned the whole city. Just the two of them.
He felt young. If he closed his eyes long enough and replaced the sound of the waves below him with crickets chirping and the rustling of grasses in the wind, he swore he could hear his brother pointing out the constellations and then telling him the myths behind him. He still missed Henri, after all these years, missed the protection he'd felt around him. All he had was memories and dreams.
However, he mused, there was a better dream in front of him. Her hair was in braids; a few wisps of brown and white had escaped their bonds and were flying madly in the wind. Her faded cut-offs were getting scandalously short, which was, not surprisingly, just the way he liked them. The flannel shirt was threadbare on the shoulder and patched in other places. She had tied it in the front with only a few buttons done, all at random It looked absolutely gorgeous on her in an innocent farm-girl sort of way. A wicked thought popped in his head. His very own Daisy Duke. Could life get any sweeter than this?
"Christ, what am Ah, your fetish?" Her words cut him brutally out his small little fantasy. "Ah'm not your fuckin' car ornament."
He could have sworn he'd said it only to himself and even then had meant it as a tease. Was it his fault if she, at the moment, resembled the obsession of many a Southern boy? "Sorry. Don't like the Dukes of Hazzard?" His voice was light but the joke fell flat into a the now sour air. The scent, which until recently had been the clean salty spray of the water below them, was now a foul stench he associated with hospitals. What, now the air was empathic according the conversation around him?
What would he give to feel what made her tick, to understand her better. Empathy had allowed that advantage. Now he had to watch her to know, no, to guess, what she was feeling, but now he could touch her. It seemed he was could never have the best of both worlds; he was constantly trying to bargain one ability in exchange for another.
She didn't answer him but moved so her legs were on the inside of the pier, the planks of battered wood supporting her standing frame against the railing. Her gaze was to the tumultuous ocean. The waves had begun to get bigger and clouds had formed in the west as if a storm was brewing in the distance. He got up and cautiously approached her, wrapping his arms around her tanned legs, securing her wavering stance.
"Don't touch me."
Her voice had gone ice cold and he felt her legs tense up as he gently hugged them. "Anna, you all right?"
"Don't call me that."
Now he was confused, officially. What the hell was this all about? He didn't try to completely understand her brain and any of the psyches in it, but he knew well enough when one took over from his girlfriend. The only time she'd been uncomfortable with touching was the first few weeks after they'd left New Orleans, and that was out of habit. Years of having poison skin had made her instinctually flinch at the simplest of touches. She hadn't cringed away from any skin-to-skin contact in months.
And don't call her Anna? Who'd been so fed up with the pseudonym 'Rogue' that one night she up and christened herself 'Anna Raven' with an empty Pepsi can filled with water? She'd insisted he try and call her that if he could remember, wanted so badly to have a name like everyone else. Granted, she had been a little drunk that night, but Mon Dieu! If this is what it was going to be like for the rest of his life…
"Ah said don't touch me."
He grudgingly unwrapped his arms around her legs, only to recoil in disgust as he saw the welts of red along her calves.
"See? Ya hurt me."
"Didn' mean to. Honestly, chere, didn' know you were dat sensitive…" He stumbled around his words, the marks on her legs baffling him.
"Well, Ah am. Don't know me as good as you thought, dontchya boy?"
The silence was painful as he tried to find a way to apologise sufficiently. Could he do nothing right? He hadn't felt like such a continued failure since...
"Gonna answer me?"
What the hell was going on? So many things raced in his mind as he saw her, as if in slow motion, step up to the ledge of the railing, teetering precariously, so close between tumbling to the waves below or falling back and touching him. The pier, which had been large enough for a grown man to comfortably lie across, was now too small. Anywhere she'd fall, he'd touch her. He'd hurt her. He tried to reach for her covered shoulder to steady her, but he couldn't move. A lump was beginning to form in the back of his throat and if he opened his goddamn mouth, he was bound to say something and hurt her.
"You miss your powers." Her voice was accusatory. "Don't lie. Ah see you, tryin' ta charge cards behind mah back. Do ya want revenge? For me pullin' ya back?"
"I tol' you, I ain't mad 'bout dat no more," he began, his voice strangely tight.
"Bull shit." It'd been a long time since he felt this submissive, this controlled over. "S'ok, though, sugah." Her voice was saccharine enough, but all that sweetness was nauseating. "Ah miss mah powers, too. Miss the protection Ah had, the security Ah felt when no one could touch me." Her too? He never knew. "Do ya remember, Rem, when Ah could fly?"
She moved her arms to mimic the motions small children use when they imitate airplanes. "Do ya remember the wind in your hair when Ah'd carry ya and we'd fly?" Her voice was soft again, reminiscent. Like her old self. Leaning forward, she turned back to face him, a mad smile on her face, her features crazed, her braids already flowing like kite-tails around her face. "Do ya remember what it was like ta fly?"
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He woke with a spectacular jolt, nearly capsizing himself out of the bed. The nauseous feeling in his stomach was ebbing as he breathed the clean air around him. Just a dream, homme. Nothin' more. But good God, but how horrible that'd been! To see her, tumbling over the edge of the pier, and him helpless and unmoving.
Ya hurt me, her dream words whispered. Did he? Tante Mattie always taught him that dreams told us things that we needed to know, things that people didn't speak about cause they hurt to much. Did he hurt her?
"Rogue," he whispered, turning himself towards her side of the bed. "Rogue..." He stopped cold. His heart, already wildly beating, paused. She was gone...the bed sheets tousled in a little ball at the baseboard of the bed. Don' panic, he told himself. "Rogue?" he tried louder, his voice cracking from the lack of use and from the hellish dream he'd just escaped.
"Ah'm on the porch, sugah," Her voice floated from the opened doorway. "Did Ah wake ya up?"
He collected himself and slowly made his way towards her. "Non, you didn'." There she was, illuminated in the moonlight. She looked wonderful, standing there against the porch railing, in nothing but an oversized shirt of his, her hair dishevelled. He walked slowly towards her, extending his arms towards her waist, stopping short. "Can I touch you?"
"What?" She turned around, her face calm but amused, green eyes still sleepy but alert. "Like Ah'm gonna say no." He sighed in relief, still not over that damn dream. Hugging her gently, he pressed his face in the nape of her neck, inhaling her clean, bedded scent.
"Ya feel feverish and you're handlin' me like Ah'm antique china." She was teasing him. He could tell by her voice. It wasn't mocking or snide or unstable. It was her, his Rogue, his Anna, his girl.
"Had a bad dream."
"Mmmm, poor baby. Was it bad?" A nod. "Tell me what happened. You'll feel better."
"We were on de pier," he began, speaking slow and soft "You didn' want me to touch you. You fell off an' I couldn' move. I couldn' hold on." He couldn't help but to let his voice shake. It'd been so real...
"Just a dream, sugah." He felt her hands tenderly massage his forearms, lightly relaxing his tense body. "Ah had a dream, too, 'cept mine didn't make me yelp out of bed."
In spite of himself, he smiled into her hair. "What was it about, ma chere?"
She shrugged, continuing her hypnotic kneading of his arms, rubbing his fingers now. "Oh, it wasn't much. Nothing like me fallin' off a pier or nothin'. " She opened her mouth to continue, but then closed it. He didn't press for more information, but relished the feel of her in his arms, much like he wanted to on the pier before his dream took a turn for the worse.
The wind picked up and brought a cool breeze in from the sea, letting the wooden chimes she'd tacked up the day before ring drowsily in the wind. This was how life is supposed to be, he thought. If every now and then I get a moment like this, everything is worth it.
"Remy?" Her melodic drawl joined the chimes in their unorthodox song. Sounded like angels, sounded like a dream.
"Do ya remember what it was like to fly?"