A/N: Wow, what amazing support from everyone! Thank you so much! This half isn't as humorous as the last one, but I tried to keep everything well rounded. Don't blame me, blame my subconscious!
Part Two: Eye of the Storm
Set sail and away!
The ventures of dreamland
Are thine for a day
- Silas Weir Mitchell
"Uh… bonjour?" I offered, not knowing how else to treat this ridiculous situation. How else did one greet a thief you just poured flour on?
The facts of said situation slowly settled themselves in his mind. The fact that I had just run into him chasing his sister-in-law who was covered in flour. That I was covered head to foot in his Tante's flour. And that, yes, there was a bucket the very same flour resting on his head like a helmet.
I found myself dropped the rest of the way onto my butt. I would have given him a piece of my mind, but he too had fallen. Fallen, thrown back his head, and laughed like he was in pure bliss. Laughed long and hard.
I watched him for a moment, having never seen him like this. Not even earlier when I was spying on him and his cousins. No, this was pure, untainted happiness. I'd forgotten what it sounded like. No one ever laughed like this anymore. No one. A shame too, because it was such a beautiful thing to witness.
Looking up from him I saw both Henri and his wife watching us. Some others who were curious at the mini cloud of white powder than had erupted in our collision also stopped to stare. The elder brother caught my eye with an odd nameless look on his face. I read the word 'merci' come from his lips.
Why was he thanking me? What had I done?
"Yo' gonna bus' somethin' if yeh keep laughin' like dat," Mercy scolded her brother-in-law, coming to my rescue. She took the bowl off his head, leaving a mountain of white upon his auburn head. "Come on, Rogue. Dat boy's a ragin' lunatic."
"Merci, Mercy," he gasped before dissolving into another fit. She frowned at the pun he liked so much to use and ruffled his powdery white hair. Another white cloud filled the atmosphere making both he and I sneeze.
"Insane," she sighed, standing and helping me up. "Let's get yeh cleaned up, Rogue. Almos' time fo' dinner."
Having no other choice, I followed her, still trying to comprehend the joyful Cajun I was leaving behind. Yet I could still hear Henri speaking to his brother as he knelt at his side. "Ah swea', Remy LeBeau, if yeh don' marry dat fille Ah'll throw yeh t' de 'gaters mahself."
Mercy chuckled at my flushed, flour covered cheeks but said nothing, probably knowing I would go right back inside for more food to throw. Once we were inside, she led me to the bathroom so we could wipe off all the flour. The good news was that it came off with no problem. The bad news was that so did my make-up.
Explaining the dilemma to Mercy didn't accomplish much. "Mais, pourquoi?" she asked when I requested the use of her own stash. "Yeh look so pretty wit'out it."
"That's th' problem," I said. "Ah can' look pretty." So the story came out. How I was a mutant superhero who fought crime complete with spandex. How I hadn't felt the real touch from a human being for so long, I no longer remembered it. How if I did touch another living thing, from grass to people, its very essence would be taken.
As uncomfortable as this conversation made me, her reaction couldn't have been better. Mercy showed no fear or anger at me. But the best part, I felt, was the look in her eyes as I spoke. While she couldn't possibly know what I was going through, she did understand the precautions I took to protect others. Remy was lucky to have such a sister-in-law. One who looked into his eyes and saw only eyes.
So once again I asked for some make-up.
Mercy smiled sweetly and said quite firmly, "Non."
Then she ordered me out to help Tante Mattie finish dinner while she saw to something. I think that translated into 'go out there and show everyone your new look.' I could be wrong though.
Dinner was served in a buffet style, allowing the enormous family to spread all over the plantation. However this also made it that much more difficult to track down the Swamp Rat. My mission couldn't wait any longer, no matter how much I was enjoying myself. It would be too easy to forget my sorrows, but I couldn't. The X-Men were counting on me.
I found him beneath a tree, lounging with his brother and cousins. Fortunately, Ansel was not among them. They were all laughing and smiling. I hated to interrupt it.
Especially when the future may only hold blood and terror.
Would any mutant ever enjoy peace for very long?
"Ah, chère," he looked up, finally noticing my presence. "Reposez-vous! Yeh ain' tried Tante's chicken 'n 'tatoes yet. An' Remy loves de new look. All dat make-up ruined yeh, chérie."
"Remy," I shook my head. The smile died on his face as he looked up at me. I should have remembered he was an empath. He probably sensed my somber mood. If I didn't watch my mental shields, he could probably feel everything I did. "We gotta talk."
"Can' it wait till mornin'?" he tried, visibly trying to hold onto the good feeling the South filled him with. The peace it offered. And I wished I could let him.
Regretfully I shook my head. "Ah stayed too long already. Ah'm leavin' in th' mornin'."
Then before my eyes, Remy LeBeau was no more. Gambit stood in his place, leaving his merry family behind. Now he was all business, the hardened warrior I knew from the North.
"Everythin' alrigh', Rem?" Henri asked, concerned for his suddenly serious brother.
"Remy take care o' everythin'," he told him, nodding. I followed him to a more secluded spot of the yard where we could talk without interruption or eavesdroppers. I could tell by the rigidness of his body that he only expected bad news. I was leading him into another battle. Why else would I come to him, braving the journey South seemingly on my own? I snuck into the Thieves Guild to see him and risked the danger his family posed to outsiders. The peace and healing Remy had found in his home was about to be broken and we both knew it.
"Now den," he said, turning to face me when we had walked far enough. "What's on yo' mind, chère? Tell Gambit what yeh need." The usage of his 'battle-name' did not go unnoticed.
"Ah'm sorry," I apologized first, feeling terrible about what I was about to do. "Ah know our problems ain' yours, but Ah had nowhere else t' go…"
"'S fine, ma chère," he assured me, the hardness in him softening somewhat. "Yeh did what yeh needed t' do. Jus' tell Remy de problem an' he'll do all he can t' help."
He wanted to help me. He agreed without even knowing what I needed from him. I was startled into silence for a moment, but then found my voice. "They're gone, Remy," I blurted out. "They jus' disappeared an' Ah don' know where they went."
"De X-Men?" he asked, red eyes widening. Whatever he had expected, it was obviously not this.
I nodded, embarrassed at the tears that threatened to well. But I was just so frustrated at this point. Frightened. I hated being alone, and before I arrived at the LeBeau's, I was. He and his family were my last hope. "It happened a week ago. Ah took a long walk like Ah do sometimes t' clear mah head, an' fell asleep under a tree. When Ah woke up, it was dark out, but no one came afte' meh. Ah wen' back t' th' mansion, but no one was there."
"Dey didn' jus' go on a mission?" he asked, obviously skeptical of my story.
"An' not tell meh? There wasn' a note or nothin' that might explain where they went." I could tell he still wasn't convinced that I wasn't overreacting. And who could blame him, really. I knew very well that I wasn't the most logical thinking mutant alive. "Ah waited three days, Remy. They ain' comin' back. They're in trouble, Ah know it."
At last he looked convinced. "What did de Brothe'hood have t' say? Dey yo' friends, oui?"
I couldn't stay under his piercing gaze anymore. Wrapping my arms around my middle, I had to look away. What if he refused to help me now that he knew the stakes? It was too dangerous for two mutants. I knew it. He knew it. I couldn't hold him to a promise made in haste.
"They're gone too. That's why Ah know somethin's wrong." I heard him sigh heavily as he ran his fingers through his hair, but he said nothing. It was as I feared. I was alone. "This was th' only place Ah could think t' go."
"Dere's somethin' else, non? Yo' scared, chère, Remy can feel it. What scared yeh so bad?"
Damn him. And damn his powers. "Afte' 'bout three days, there were some men snoopin' round th' mansion grounds. They had guns an' were talkin' 'bout how they had 'missed one.' They weren' no stun guns, so Ah hid."
Well, that was only slightly mortifying. Some superhero I made. I ran and hid from a couple of humans when I didn't have my whole team with me for protection. I could have subdued them, gotten information. But instead, I…
"Don'," Remy interrupted my self-pity. His vermillion eyes burned a little more than usual, like dying embers still clinging to life. "Don' be ashamed o' hidin', chère. Dey woulda killed yeh." I found I couldn't hold his gaze again. Not with the intense look he had. Suddenly feeling shy, I tried to look away, anywhere but at him.
The Cajun took my chin in a gloved hand, forcing me to look at him. "Tell meh what yeh need, Rogue," he urged softly. "Ah'll do it, but yeh have t' tell meh."
"Ah need t' find 'em," I answered, even softer. I didn't even know if he could hear me. "Ah need someone t' help meh find 'em an' rescue 'em." I chose not to voice my need for companionship to him. I always prided myself on working alone. Of not needing anyone to rely on. Yet I always had the X-Men to back me up if I fell short. And now that I was finally on my own, I found I didn't like it so much. In the end, though, he could probably feel my loneliness. My mental shields weren't as strong as they normally were. Too much had happened too fast.
His gaze didn't waver. "Done," he nodded. Then he released me, smiling easily. Gambit was gone and Remy returned. "Now den," he said, "yeh still ain' had none o' Tante Mattie's chicken, chérie."
And just like that, the issue was settled. I returned to the party at his side with a much lighter heart than when I left it. There was no sign on Remy's face that he would soon be leaving his family for another mission that had nothing to do with him. But then, I already knew he was a good actor. He had to have an opinion on the matter and I wanted to know what it was. But if he caught me fretting about it, he only grinned and thrust more food at me.
A true Southerner.
If I didn't need his help so badly, I think I'd have killed him.
Eventually it became late, even by partying Cajun standards. The sun was a couple of hours away from rising and the family took up whatever space they could find to fall asleep on. There was no way the large house was big enough for us all.
Stepping gingerly over unconscious thieves, I managed to find a bench swing somewhere not claimed yet. So claim it I did. The ease at which the LeBeau plantation put me didn't cease to amaze me, for as soon as I took one last look at my surroundings, I found myself drifting off to sleep quickly.
That is, until someone decided to sneak up on me.
"Woah dere, easy mon chère," he held up his hands in surrender when I shot up, ready to absorb the trespasser. "'S jus' ol' Remy payin' yeh a visit, hein?"
Remy sat down on the swing without any further ceremony or invitation, propping my legs on his lap so I didn't have to curl up into a ball. Not that I had a say in the matter of course. Were it any other day under any other circumstance, I'd have probably yelled at him for bothering me and getting way too close to my exposed skin. Mercy's summer collection didn't exactly cover as much skin as I would have liked. Either way, I was not the most comfortable with having so many people near me when all I had on were a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and long gloves. But it wasn't as though he didn't know the risks. Ever since we met he'd made it perfectly clear that he didn't care about risks and rules. Arguing with him would only get me a headache.
Besides, after today, I owed him big. I could probably lay off insulting the Cajun for a while.
"Yeh look sleepy, chérie," he teased, grinning as I yawned despite myself.
"'S been a long day," I admitted. "Ah came straight here after th'… th' soldiers showed up at th' mansion."
"Ah Remy t'ough yeh didn' like his ville natale," his half-lidded scarlet eyes betrayed his own fatigue, but the accented voice as light as ever. "Mais, here yeh are. How did yeh get so close t' de house wit'out bein' caught, by de way?"
So I told him about my psyches and how I could communicate with them. Assuring him that I couldn't see any memories the originals didn't want me to, I went on to explain how I had a psyche of him as well. That after the men with the guns left, I was desperate to find anyone left and how he was the first person I could think of who might be safe. The mini-Remy in my head had offered all he could to get me here safely so I might speak with his larger self.
Remy sat there on the swing, not saying anything to my revelation. Even his psyche, who hadn't been doing much all night, was wondering at his thoughts. At least he didn't seem weirded out that I could talk with the voices in my head.
"Remy," I started, "Ah didn' want t' involve yeh, really Ah didn', but Ah had nowhere else t' go, an' Ah…"
"Stop it," he ordered, eyes hardening, but still looking over the horizon. "No mo' apologizin'. Yeh did righ' by comin' straight here. Ain' no safe' place t' be den wit' de T'ieves an' de petite Remy knew dat too. If yeh eve' in trouble again, don' even t'ink 'bout not comin' t' Remy o' his famille. Yo' always welcome."
This wasn't an offer one made lightly and I knew it. He didn't extend this offer of protection to just any of his friends. I was family now, he had said to the others, and family protected each other.
"Thank yeh," was all I could say to this. The Cajun just waved it off with a flip of his wrist.
"Pas de problem," Remy yawned again. "So yeh wanted t' leave t'morrow? Where we goin'?"
"Ah… Ah'm not quite sure," I blushed. "Ah don' even know where t' start. But Ah can' jus' sit still waitin' fo' somethin' t' happen. Eventually th' goons wit' th' guns are gonna find meh an' Ah have t' find th' othe's by then."
"No one's gonna hurt yeh, Chère," he stated firmly, eyes glowing brighter again. He had the same look when I told him about hiding from said goons. "Dey won' even get de chance."
I never fancied myself as a girl who played the damsel in distress. I watched out for myself, and could hold my own against anyone who messed with me. But some small part of me relaxed at his words. I wasn't helpless, but it felt nice to be able to be protected. To be assured that I was safe.
"An' t' think a couple o' months ago we were enemies," I wondered aloud even as I relaxed in the swing.
Remy finally turned to look at me then, a strange expression on his face that I was too tired to read into. But it seemed largely bemused and kind. "We ain' neve' been enemies, Chère. Jus' didn' always agree." He leaned against the other arm of the swing, laying his head on the back so he half lay half sat. How we both managed to fit, I'll never know. "Now go t' sleep. We can talk mo' in de mornin'."
"It is mornin'," I replied groggily. A gloved hand swatted my foot.
"Hush. Let Remy get some sleep."
"Like that?" He'd have a terrible stiff neck when he woke up.
"'M comfy," was his excuse before drifting off completely. Face relaxed, it was hard to see the harsh, frightening warrior I knew he could be. It occurred to me that I had been placing the mask on the wrong face. Remy was Remy. A young man just as frightened of the future as any other mutant. As any other person. Upon first meeting him, I thought he was a thief who pretended to be kind as he charmed his way out of trouble. But now… it was Gambit all along that was the mask. Frightening people offered self-protection, I knew that well enough myself. I should have seen his shield for what it was long before now. If he was scary enough for his enemies, they would not want to attempt hurting him or his own for fear of invoking his wrath. How many times had I done the same?
The sky grew lighter as dawn approached and I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer. Peace and safety surrounded me, how could I not allow my body the rest it had been denied for nearly a week?
Burrowing my head into the pillow I had swiped from a closet, I soon drifted off into a deep sleep. The following day would be the beginning of another long adventure full of unknown dangers. But I didn't have to face them alone. He would be with me the whole way, and I would never forget that. We weren't enemies, we weren't even friends really. Whatever we were didn't matter anymore.
We just were.
A/N: Yeah, that's the end of the dream. I won't go any further into it. However, if anyone else would like to, you have my full blessing to continue this in your own story. Just let me know that you are doing it so I can come and read it : ) and also please just say at the beginning of your story that the set-up for this was mine. That's all! I don't like to be stingy. Think of it as a challenge if you will. The same also holds true for my other story Exodus, which I know some people wanted more of.
Pardon My French!
ville natale - hometown
Yuppers, the answer was goblins. From one of my all-time favorite movies 'The Labyrinth.' Cyber cookies to all who got it right!
Princess Sha Sha: Very cute name! Thank you for your support!
Dee Saylors: I know it's not as soon as one might hope, but I do hope the wait was worth it.
Ishandahalf: lol, you're one of my favorite people, you know that? I'm sorry I'm about as slow as a slug on depressants, but I hope you enjoy it anyway. I always love writing about Remy's family, they are very much like my own. I also want to thank you for your comments on Exodus. The above mentioned challenge I think you would be excellent at, but it's totally up to you.
Xmengirlzrule: Yeah they do! Thank you for your encouragement, it means a lot to me.
The Past: Rogue always seemed like she would fit right in with his family. So now that the big secret is revealed on why she is there, I decide to end it : ) Would you like to take up the challenge I set up in my A/N? You don't have to, of course, but I think you'd be great for it. Btw, I am in love with your quote of the month! Any other good ones?
Kitrazzle Fayn: lol, Labyrinth rules of course! Thanks for everything, I hope you enjoy this half too.
Sangofanatic: Hey, girl! Nice to hear from you again!
XME: Yay, you got it too! Hope you enjoy this part, sorry it's a bit late in coming : )
Chica De Los Ojos Café: Yeah, unfortunately I had to wake up sometime : ) If you like, you can take up the challenge I set in my A/N. Either way, it's good to hear from you again. I hope you enjoy this chapter too.
Enchantedlight: Thanks! Sorry it's a bit late though. : )
Nuwie: Hey you! I was thinking of you as I wrote this, just cringing at the accents. All I could think was 'oh dear, she won't be able to tell what in the world is going on!' Hope you did alright. Just think of it this way: it helps you with your pronunciation. If you can't pronounce the original English properly, there's no way you'll be able to pronounce the Southern accent. And thanks for reviewing Exodus! Little Remy was so much fun to write. And yeah yeah, I'm working on schoolwork too… sorta. Eh, Chinese can wait. I'm very excited that I worked out a quick and easy way to get the accents in. Oh, and when I get off my lazy butt and finish the email for you, me and my roomie made a surprise for you… let's just say you won't be able to watch HP the same way ever again. Désole!
Abril4: Thank you!
Sleepy26: Nice name, it describes my whole life : ) I hope you enjoy this chapter too.
Lucy Loo: GOBLINS! YAY!
Nightshade: Are you in ff . net? I'll be glad to read your stories. I'm always on the search for new good stuff! And reviewers tend to be picky too. I admit I'm not the best when it comes to reviewing stories unless I really do have something to say. Labyrinth is definitely one of the coolest. Jareth just makes the whole movie. I think they're called Fieries, but I'm not sure. I could be wrong. I'll email you when I get the chance. You can email me too, I'd love to hear from you! Do my school one since I never check the hotmail one. It's mlachari student.