Title: Cheating at Solitaire
Rating: PG 13
Summary: Sequel to Bad Touch.
Note: I revised the prev. chapter a bit – cleaned it up some, I think. Also, can't remember if I've mentioned this previously, but I noticed FF . net had loaded previous chapters kind of… wonkily. There were a lot of periods and commas and things like that missing which… I don't know how that happened but I think I fixed them all… plus there were instances of some things not being in italics and if y'all have gotten this far with me you know I love me some italics (see below… ahem). So hopefully the story is more readable now… That was embarrassing. My grammar is admittedly… creative, and not always something I'm as concerned with as I should be, but I swear I'm not that much of an idiot. Ok. Moving on :)!
Note 2: THANK YOU to all of you who have stuck with this story through my (ridiculously) long absences and to all of you who have found it recently and have posted! It is admittedly kind of difficult getting back into the flow of this thing and hearing your thoughtful comments really help motivate me to keep going – so, really, really thank you!
Note 3: Ludi – I AM THE WORST. I have been sitting on last year's Christmas present for you for forever. I have it! I just need to mail it! It will happen, I promise :)!
He starts a sim, he sets it at level 10, and he knows he's going to get shit for being in the Danger Room unsupervised, but really he could give two fucks about all the rules and regulations being here comes with right now.
Scott's going to say no.
He knows if he goes to him first thing tomorrow morning and proposes going in he's going to have to listen to some bullshit explanation about Erik again and, really, fuckErik, because they have no idea... they have no idea what that thing has done... what it's still doing...
Those people are not just sitting in cells waiting for a cure to be forced on them.
They're being tortured, ripped apart by that thing...
He catapults over a droid, kicks its partner in the face with both feet sending it flying, its pieces shattering against the wall and disappearing before his eyes...
Y'should've gone after him...
He slams his bo-staff through the sensor on the chest of another droid, never stops moving as he pulls it out it's back
Y'should've tracked him down once y'were strong 'nough...
and whips it at his next attacker, slicing it's head off neatly
Y'should've foun' him an' stopped him 'fore he could hurt anyone else ever 'gain...
Dat fucker had her all dis time...
He twists another one's head off with his bare hands, charges it and throws it at two more stalking towards him.
She said there were others.
There were others who were still there.
If Scott won't allow them to go in as a team and blow the place to fucking smithereens he will do it himself.
Rogue will tell him where and he will go…
He had been in a daze when Jean took her away, when the rest of them had finally left the med lab earlier that night. Everything had suddenly gone all soft and muffled when she said it… said It's name... Everything went dark and cold and he spent most of the time after trying not to throw up as he imagined what It did to her, remembered once again in full-on Technicolor what It had done to him…
He had spent so much of the last year and half since he escaped pushing it all down into the darkest recesses of his mind only to have the memories bobbing to the surface again and again this past week… It was almost like he was subconsciously preparing himself to deal with all this again, almost like he knew this was coming…
He never would have expected it would be coming through her, that the miracle of her being alive would bust everything open again, making everything he went through feel as near and real and raw as yesterday with just one word…
Her voice, her shaking voice that she tried to keep steady because she knows just as well as he does that you never let them see how deep you're cut, how bad you're bruised. Even when it's obvious, even when everyone knows…
Ororo is not a person who touches readily, easily. She is a person who seems to have an almost physical barrier around her at all times. The Goddess thing. Or maybe it's the claustrophobia thing. He almost always initiates contact and when he does it is small, it is barely a touch at all.
Everyone left and she stayed. She didn't say a word and neither did he as she came up behind him, wrapped her arms around him so tight, like being swaddled, like being held like a child in the middle of a nightmare until it passed. She stayed there with him until he could come back to himself, get himself under control.
She knew he was embarrassed and she left him alone then. She left him to take out his aggression on the Danger Room like she knew he would, like she knew he needed.
He half wonders if she had sent Wolverine there to keep an eye on him.
The lights suddenly flicker accompanied by the unmistakable sound of powering down he's been waiting for since he started, and he mutters a curse under his breath glaring up at the Observation Room as the sim cuts out completely and the remaining droids disappear. The wreckage around him fuzzes out and away until it's just an empty room, and he's left standing there panting in the middle of it, still buzzing, still itching for a fight.
He hopes it's Betsy up there. All he has to do is push the right buttons when she comes down to berate him for breaking Scott's Rulesand she'll take him on. Flesh hitting flesh is always better than a hologram no matter how real it feels, how easy it is to forget it's not and that all you're doing is swatting at ghosts and he grins, feeling feral and jacked up with readiness for a good fight, a vicious fight, a real fight.
The doors slide open, there's a telltale puff of cigar smoke before Wolverine enters and before he can stop himself Remy throws down his bo-staff with a clatter, frustrated as fuck because Logan's not gonna engage like Betsy would have and he needs it, he needs to hit, to be hit…
Logan watches him, silent, patiently waiting for him to explain himself, his being here, and he decides to try and pick a fight anyway, spits out, slightly desperate for it, "What, homme? You gon' lecture me 'bout being in here? Tonight?"
He cracks his knuckles and shakes out his hands, releasing some of that still-fizzing energy. There are sparks when he does it he's so wired. His own sweat is a weapon at this point and Logan takes another easy pull from his cigar and says, simply, "Nope".
"Den turn it back on," He snarls.
And Logan will.
Point being made that he's not supposed to be in here alone, Logan will give him something good, he thinks.
Because Logan understands.
This is how he keeps from exploding too.
"I have to tell you sumthin', Gumbo. You ain't gonna like it."
"Later. Dis now. I gotta finish."
He shakes his head, "Gambit -"
"LOGAN," he turns to him, eyes flashing and the sparks and his bared teeth and "Turn degoddamnsim back o-"
"The mornin' after you left Rogue for dead she came to the Institute."
He jerks to a stop, frozen in shock, numb for what feels like the millionth time today, he doesn't know how many more of these surprises he can take.
"She told me where she was gonna be. Where you could find her. And I didn't tell you, because I didn't trust her. And I didn't trust you when it came to her."
Logan stubs out the cigar on his palm.
"For the record, I still don't."
Wolverine comes towards him and he still can't seem to move, still can't seem to speak…
"So you go ahead and hit me with all you got. I deserve it."
He stops, barely a foot away.
"But I ain't gonna apologize, Gumbo."
Logan waits for it.
And waits for it.
And Remy feels his blood start to run hot again, start to fizz and pop, that trace-fire rushing down his forearms, to his wrists, to his hands… and he thinks he could kill him. He could melt his fucking skeleton down to nothing…
Logan had been treating him with kid gloves for the past few weeks. He had noticed, had thought it was weird, and now he finally knows why.
As unapologetic as he tried to appear, admitting to him what he had done, Remy saw it in his face. He saw it and in a split second when his power was bubbling under his skin with rage he decided he'd rather Logan live with the truth that he had played a part in the torture of another human being. That someone had come for help and he threw her to the wolves.
Not nearly as fucking satisfying for Remy, but going for the pain can be nastier than going for the kill, and he knows enough about Logan that this is going to sit with him for a long time.
So he didn't say a word.
He turned on his heel and left Logan staring after him. He forced the buzzing away, shook out his hands as he went leaving sizzling droplets in his wake.
And he found himself here, at the med lab again.
He looks through the window at the hospital bed with its bent legs, the remnants of the chair she had reduced to kindling sticking up out of the garbage can. The hole in the wall. He sees her there again, surrounded by bloody feathers and gauze, trying to fight her way back to herself and then once there being forced to remember, to tell them all what she'd been through…
Logan's betrayal enrages him. He'd love nothing more than to stalk back into the Danger Room and blow him to pieces, but all he can think about right now is that Rogue needs what Ororo had given him. What she'd given him since he was rescued and what she gave him tonight.
She needs someone. Right now. Someone who knows. And if she'll let him he will hold her tight, he will tell her she's here, she's safe, and he will never let anything like that happen ever again, he will die first.
He climbs through the window of his bedroom, intending to go to Ororo and ask her where Jean took her, where her room is, where can he find her.
He pulls himself up into the open air and sky and almost falls over the edge because Rogue is there, standing on the peak with her arms flung back, her head flung back the blouse she wears only buttoned to the top of her ribcage blown back like wings and the white flash of her skin, the soft curve of the underside of her breast the same glowing white as the moon and her face tilted up to it illuminated and Jesus, God, he can't take all of these things thrown at him, this bombardment of a million different things to feel when he's been trying so hard to tamp it all down, to lessen it all, to keep it all physical so he can get rid of it, shake it off in sparks, toss it off in explosions.
He says, quietly, painfully, "You gon' kill me, chere..."
He startles her.
She almost falls and he reaches out instinctively but she steadies herself before he can, his fingers just grazing the edge of her blouse that's thin as tissue paper and clings to her in some places, but doesn't at all in others.
She keeps her eyes on his, the sudden flutter of fabric across her smooth belly reminding her of her state of undress, and her hands button the rest of the buttons slowly, steadily, neither of them looking away just like that first time, and when she's done, her hands fall to her sides and he gazes at her standing there before him, backlit like a ghost, like an angel without wings.
She says, softly
And him, just as softly
She bites her lip.
He says, "I didn' know."
She looks at him and he knows she knows what he's talking about, so he goes on, he says, "I t'ought you died dat night. I… I didn' know y'came here, he didn' tell me. He didn' tell me where you were gon' be..."
She nods, pauses, takes a breath, then, "Would you've-"
She bites her lip again, turns away from him to look down at the endless dark of the lawn, the blacker twist of the gates beyond that say "safety", the velvet sky above them and she says, finally, softly, "Ah'm glad he didn' tell ya."
"They woulda got ya too. He woulda got ya..."
He shakes his head, "We woulda had a better chance fightin' 'em off t'gether, no?"
"Ah don' think so, Remy."
They're both quiet for a moment, and he wants her to come down, to come closer, she's so far away…
"Where did y' wan' me to fin' y'?"
She laughs humorlessly, shakes her head at herself like she's embarrassed to say it, but she does.
"New Orleans. Place d'-"
"Armes. Yes." His heart tight in his chest, "I love dat place…"
"Ah know y'do…"
She turns to him suddenly, a hand on her hip, head cocked and squinting at him, Rogue all over, and it almost takes his breath away.
"Ya really woulda come?"
"Yes." A t'ousan' time, yes…
"Well… Shit, then."
He laughs, surprised.
"We probly woulda been gone b'fore those assholes even came f'me, right?"
"Someone from de Guilds woulda come de secon' I showed up to ruin de fun…" he agrees.
"An we woulda gone somewhere else… Paris, maybe?" She grins, and he can see the pain behind it, the effort to stay on this path, keep it light, not delve, not dwell…
"Ah never been…"
"I take you dere. I show you ever'tin'…"
She smiles softly and then looks away, looks down at her hands, her thumb rubbing the inside of her palm, the scar there maybe, and again, he feels a flash of guilt for being the cause of that… His mark on her body like a brand, like he'd claimed her in some grotesque way only to have the monster of his past become hers as well… like he'd cursed her somehow… the very first moment they met he'd cursed her-
She looks up at him concerned, "Y'okay?"
He swallows, guiltily, "I should be askin' you dat…"
She gazes at him for a moment, then, softly, "Ah feel… better… Ah feel… good, actually… It's kinda freakin' me out a lil' t'be hones'…"
"Hank an' Cyc gon' wan' do some tests t'morrow. You gon' go through some runs in de Danger Room, prob'ly… See what powers y' c'n manifes'…'"
"An dere gonna be askin' you s'more questions… 'Bout dat place."
She's quiet at that, so quiet his voice sounds almost too loud to his ears, when he says, "Rogue, you tell me where you were, I go dere. I go dere an' I burn it down-"
"No," she comes to him then, she finally comes to him, her hand on his arm. "Don't go back there."
"Somethin' bad's gonna happen if ya do-"
"Sometin' bad's already happen' – it's still happenin'"
"Then… then we go together, ok?" She squeezes his arm and it almost hurts how hard. She immediately loosens her grip when she realizes, surprised at herself.
She looks up at him, closer than she's been in what feels like forever and a lock of hair falls into her eyes and he brushes it away, natural as breathing but careful as always not to really touch as she says, "Promise me ya won't go alone…"
Her hand on his heart now, her hand resting on his heart, and her eyes, those eyes…
No man will ever say no to you, chere…
She nods, she nods and she lets go of him but she doesn't move away and after a moment he reaches out to her, he wraps his arms around her like he's been aching to and he pulls her close, so close until her body is flush against his and her arms curving around him too and they hold each other like they've never let themselves hold each other before. Silent, breathing together like one body, he murmurs against her hair when she starts to tremble a little, "It gon' be okay. It gon' be okay, y'here. Y'safe now… y'safe…" He kisses her hair, once, twice, breathes in her scent. "'M sorry…"
"M'fault… All dis… m'fault…"
She pulls back suddenly, looks up at him, frowning, "No, it ain't…" and he blinks, not realizing he had spoken aloud.
She grabs the collar of his shirt, curls her fingers into it, standing on the tips of her toes to look him dead in the eye. "Remy LeBeau, it ain't yo' fault," and he shakes his head, because it is. More than it's Logan's it's his.
"I shoulda gone after him…" He strokes her cheek with his gloved knuckles, his thumb tracing her lips like he can't help it. "I shoulda foun' him an stop him b'fore he could get t'you…"
"Don't do that t'y'self, sugah…" she breathes against his fingertips. "No one blames you…"
I blame me.
She closes her eyes, she whispers against his open palm, "God, Ah wanna kiss you, Remy… Ah wanna kiss you so bad…"
And his heart, his pulse, that quickening, he murmurs huskily, "Prolly not de safes' place on de roof…"
"It's never gonna be safe…" she whispers against his lips as she pulls him down to her.
"Non…" he whispers back in agreement…
They stop there, a breath away from a kiss, his arm locked around her waist, his hand cradling her face, her fingers curled in the collar of his shirt, standing on her toes to match is height…
She opens her eyes, looks into his as she takes a step back, away from him, her hand trailing down his chest, his down her hip as they reluctantly part.
She shakes her head suddenly, mutters, "Ah know, Warr…"
"Warren", she says and he feels a wasp-bite of jealousy sting his heart.
"De angel? He still dere wit' you?"
"Yeah… He's a little… weirded out…"
"Yeh?" Tell him to go away an' leave us 'lone den…
"Wouldn' you be?" she says lightly, "Stuck in a woman's body…"
"I neve' leave m'room."
She laughs, clapping a hand over her mouth and he smiles. He doesn't know if he's ever heard her laugh like this before and he thinks how strange that after everything, after everything, this is the easiest they've ever been able to be with each other… This is the most relaxed he's ever seen her, the most comfortable. He almost finds it hard to believe, knowing what she's been through and then it suddenly occurs to him that it's because of Warr that she's dealing this well. That Warren has been her Ororo through it all and it suddenly becomes clear to him that she doesn't need him like he had thought.
"Ah should… Ah should go…"
He doesn't answer and she says, "Remy?"
"Will ya be there? T'morrow? With th' testin' an stuff? Th'… whaddaya call it… uh. Danger Room?"
"You wan' me t'be?"
She blinks at him, surprised at the question.
"Well, yeah… unless y'don-"
"I do. M'sorry. 'Course I be dere. Jus…"
"Don' be growin' anymo' wings dere, chere… Don' tink m'heart c'n take it…"
She looks at him for a long moment, and then suddenly, seriously, "I wanna tell y'somethin'."
She comes back to him, so close he could reach out again and have her back in his arms if he let himself, but he doesn't and she doesn't touch him either but she gets back on her toes, she looks him right in the eye.
"You got me through it. The you ah absorbed that night we…" she shakes her head, not wanting to remember that. "Ya saved mah life in there, Remy. Ah wanned ta give up, ah wanned ta die and ya wouldn' let me. Stubborn as hell ya held on... You… you were where Ah'd go to get away from Him..." She says, softly, "You were my sanctuary. Ah'm here b'cuz o'you. B'cuz y'didn' let me give up. An' some day Remy LeBeau… some day Ah'm gonna thank you th' way I've wanned to since th' night we met. Ok?"
All he can do is nod mutely.
"So don't you be gettin' jealous o' me an' Warren."
She shakes her head when he opens his mouth to protest, silencing him as she turns to climb back down to her window, her voice floating back to him, over her shoulder, "Ya poker face don't work on me, Sugah."