Disclaimer: Yeah, so I didn't think 'em up and have no rights to 'em. But I am playing with them a bit.


Our Masks

Rogue didn't bother making excuses to herself. Sometimes, you just didn't need a reason. You just needed to get out. So she left the mansion to breathe in the crisp fall air under the rising moon. Rogue wasn't worried that Logan would stop her. He knew what it was like to need to get out.

When she reached her favorite part of the park, she wrapped her arms around her body and shivered. Now that she had stopped walking, she was cold. The wind picked up and cut through her. But the moon was rising and the air was brisk and through the pain she felt alive.

Rogue didn't know how long she stood there before his coat draped her body. She hadn't heard or felt a thing as he came up behind her. But she wasn't surprised at that anymore. He was the best at what he did, and he'd be the first to tell you so.

Rogue tugged his trench coat closer around her. It smelled of leather, spices, and cigarettes. "Won't ya be cold?"

"Not like dis," he said and wrapped his arms around her from behind, pulling her into him.

Rogue elbowed him sharply in the gut and ripped out of his grip. She spun to face him, the coat falling unattended to the ground. "What the hell! Haven't Ah told ya not ta touch meh? Ah don't want to be close ta ya, Swamp Rat! Keep your slimey hands ta yerself."

Remy smirked and reached for her again, grabbing her lightly by the shoulders. "I don' believe y'."

Rogue reached up and slapped his grasp away with her hands. "But Ah'm tellin' ya it's true! Who the hell do ya think ya are ta ignore what Ah'm sayin' ta ya?"

Remy didn't say anything for a moment, he just stood there staring into her eyes.

Rogue broke their gaze. "Damnit. How do you do this ta me? Who are you?"

He leaned forward, his red-on-black eyes gleaming, "Who do y' want me t' be?" (1)

His tone was warm and husky, meant to seduce, and Rogue felt a corresponding quiver in response to what he was offering. He always knew how to get her blood stirring. She closed her eyes to break from his too-intense gaze. She thought about his words. Then she laughed. She opened her eyes and she laughed.

Remy pulled away from her, mildly offended. That line always got some sort of response. But it had never gotten that one.

"You mean you don't know?" Rogue said. "Or you mean you're willing to change yourself just to be with me? Gawd, do you really have such low self-esteem, that you think you have to be what Ah want in order for me to be with you? Ah'm not interested in masks, Ah've got enough of my own. An' Ah use 'em, yeah. But Ah use 'em for me. It's one of the many useful things Ah learned from my 'mama.' The way ya said that," the light of laughter left her eyes, "reminded me of her, a little. But of course, it was just part of your mask, wasn't it? Ya wouldn't really change ta be with anyone. But Ah wonder if you even know who you are? Ah wonder why ya're beating yourself up with so much pleasure that you can't think straight."

"Who da hell do ya t'ink you are?" Remy whispered. He was mad, he was irritated, he was scared, defensive.

Rogue shrugged. "Ah'm a lot of things, really. Ah've got so many people in my head that sometimes Ah wonder myself. Ah wonder--even though Ah'm being honest with ya right now--Ah wonder why Ah'm doing it. Maybe that's why Ah called you on it, even though Ah knew ya'd probably hate me for it. In most ways, we're so different. But when it comes ta who we are…we've got so much in common it scares the crap out of me."

Remy didn't say anything. He couldn't believe what he had heard, the way she'd analyzed him, opened herself up to him was unlike anything he'd ever seen. He didn't know whether to be pissed or grateful, insulted or awed.

Rogue sighed. She already regretted opening up to him; admitting her masks, her one true defense, was almost enough to void any protection they provided. But she had already opened her mouth and she couldn't take it back. Looking at his face, she wondered if it was worth it.

Then she decided it didn't matter. She was going to walk away.

She moved past him to do just that.

One hand caught her upper arm. "If ya t'ink I'm just gonna let ya walk away, then y' don know me as well as y' t'ought."

"Let go," she said without turning around.

"Non, I don't t'ink so."

"What could y' possibly want with me? The game's done, LeBeau. Ya know it and so do Ah. Anything else we do here will just hurt."

"Mais, maybe it's better t' hurt dan not to feel," he said and pulled her against him.

"Let go."

"Why cherie? Y' had your say. Now it's my turn."

"Ah don't need to be in your arms to hear you speak, LeBeau."

"Mais, maybe I'm not going to say anyt'ing." He lowered his head and breathed on her cheek.

"Ah'm askin' ya one last time to let me go. Don't make me hurt you."

"An' I'm telling y', I ain't lettin' y' go," he continued to caress her cheek with his breath.

That's it. Rogue began to struggle.

Remy pushed her against an ancient oak and locked his legs around hers so she couldn't kick him. He removed his arms from around her waist and gently, but firmly clasped her wrists and placed them above her head against the tree. He held her in place with the pressure of his body, keeping his head well away from her attempt to hit him with her own.

"Y' can keep struggling, chere, I don't mind. Mais, I tink y' might be givin' me de wrong idea."

Rogue immediately stopped writhing. She looked at him, angry and a little scared.

"I ain't gonna hurt ya, Rogue," he spoke softly.

"Coming from the man who has me pinned to a tree, Ah don't find that very reassuring!"

"How else am I gonna get ya t' stand still with me for a minute?"

"Maybe Ah don't want ta 'stand still with you.'"

"Mebbe dat's too bad."

"What do you want from me?" Rogue almost screamed.

"Just…close yer eyes for a minute."

"What?"

"Close your eyes, Rogue. Just for a minute. Den after I've had my turn, I'll let y' go, I swear."

Rogue glared at him, "Ah didn't exactly force ya to hear my side."

"Non, but den I'm a lot nicer then you are, neh?" Remy grinned at her.

"An' this is nice?"

"I'm glad you agree, cherie. Maybe dis'll be easier den I t'ought."

Rogue narrowed her eyes and her glare kicked up a notch. "What's the 'dis' that will be easier?"

Remy sighed, abruptly tired of playing, "Close your damn eyes already, Rogue."

Abruptly, another mask slid over Rogue's face. She slowly batted her eyes at him, deliberately thickened her accent, and smiled, "Ah thought ya liked mah eyes."

Unconsciously, Remy clenched his grip tighter around her wrists. "None of dat, now, Rogue. Dis is between y' and me. Leave the rest of dat behind and close your eyes."

"What if that's all that's left of me, swamp rat?" she snarled at him, feral now. Facets of truth make the best masks. "What if Ah ain't nothing but a bunch of masks?"

"Den we'll both go t' de devil toget'er. Why don't ya pretend y' trust me and close your eyes?"

"You want my pretend trust?"

Remy rolled his eyes, "At dis point I'll take what I can get. An' here I t'ought ya said dat y' didn't want me holdin' ya. I don' care if it takes us into next week, Rogue. I ain't lettin' ya go til you do as I ask."

"When you ask a person something, they get the option to say 'no,'" Rogue couldn't help but point out.

"Keep it up, Roguey. I like m' position just fine. Y' comfortable?"

"Go ta hell."

"I'm takin' ya with me."

"Damnit!" Rogue banged her head against the tree. She glared at him again for a moment. Then she closed her eyes.

Remy waited a moment to make sure that she wasn't faking, that she had really and truly decided to give him a chance.

Then he brought her wrists away from the tree and wrapped them around his waist, and holding them there with one hand, brought his other hand up to gently smooth back her hair.

He angled his head to breathe on her cheek again. He let his breath caress her face, her lips, her ear, forcing the awareness of his nearness on her. He felt her tense in his arms and he simply breathed on her again, and again.

He lowered his head so this his mouth was near to her ear and his nose was buried in her hair. "Why do ya fight dis, cherie? Why do y' fight what ya feel?"

Rogue didn't answer, didn't relax against him.

Gambit sighed, his breath flowing down her neck. He felt her tremble, despite herself. But she remained unyielding in his arms. He released her and quickly stepped back and away from her, alert for an attack.

Rogue's eyes popped open, and quickly wrapped her arms around herself and shivered. She couldn't help it. He had been so near…

Gambit noticed, and took hope.

Rogue's masks told her all the things that she could say, should say:

What, all that fuss for this?

I didn't think you really meant to let me go. I thought you would hurt me.

Why are you wasting your time on a girl like me?

You idiot, don't you know you could have gotten hurt?

All you wanted to do was hold me? Couldn't you think of anything more creative to do?

You breathed on me. Eww.

Good, now that that's over, I can kill you.

All of them options, all of them at least partly true. But she was so cold without him…

She drew in a deep shuddering breath and closed her eyes. Then she spoke, so softly, Remy had to step closer to hear. "Ah fight it because it hurts. Not that being with ya hurts. But not being with ya hurts. And Gawd, what am Ah gonna do when ya just walk away after you're tired of me? It's better not to feel."

"But y' did feel," he said and stepped even closer. He gently ran his hands up and down her arms to warm her. "And I ain't walking away."

Rogue opened her eyes. "Not yet. But ya will."

Remy desperately wished that he could promise her that he wouldn't. He wished that she would believe him. He wished that he would believe himself, if he promised.

"I ain't gonna lie t' ya. I might, one day, walk away. I don't believe in makin' promises for forever. But I do know dat I ain't walking away now. Ya can have me now."

Rogue looked at him, long and hard. "How can Ah have ya when ya don't even know who ya are?"

Remy stopped touching her and stepped back.

Rogue shivered again, but he hardly noticed.

He was silent a long time. She looked at him, waiting. She had decided to tell him the truth. She would wait it out, she wouldn't run away.

"Mon Dieu," he said. "Y' know ya're de only one who can do dis t' me? Make me look at m'self and want to be better dan what I am. Y' make me want to try, Rogue. I can't promise ya forever. But I can promise y' I'll try. I won't lie t' ya, I won't play ya. And I won't run away from ya."

"But…"

Remy lifted a gloved finger to her lips. He refused to believe that his hand was actually trembling. "Don't say dat y' don't know who I am. Don't say it. It just ain't true. How can y' not know who I am when you read me like a book? How can y' not know who I am when you've walked around inside m' mind? An' maybe I don' know who I am under de masks, Rogue, but maybe m'masks are a part of me, just like yours are a part of y'. Maybe we can find out who we are together, neh?"

Rogue just blinked. He actually made sense. He actually sounded sincere. Maybe he would try…after all, she couldn't promise forever either. Who knew what her next mood would bring? But could she trust him…

"I've told you de truth, Rogue." He couldn't help himself, he ran his thumb along her lips before he removed his hand. "Now de only question is, are ya willing t' take dis Gambit?"

He held out his hand to her.

No more running and hiding, she had said. Now she had to make a choice.

What will I regret more?

Why can't I just take the easy choice?

Hell if I know, but he's standing there waiting for me.

"That, LeBeau, was a terrible pun," Rogue grinned and laughed and slapped her hand gently onto his.

Remy could breathe again, she had smiled and laughed at him and his world was suddenly lit in Technicolor. He laughed, gripped her hand, and spun her in a pirouette towards him.

"Oui, mais I'll take what I can get."

She stood in front of him, grinning at him, and suddenly he couldn't think of a single reason why he would ever walk away.

He took her other hand in his and said, "So is dat a yes or a no, cherie? Y' gonna give it a try?"

Rogue looked down for a moment, then she laughed and shook her head. She looked back up at him."Oui, Gambit. That's a oui."

He felt like he could take on the world with one hand tied behind his back. Had the world shrunk or was he suddenly as tall as the stars? He had to bite back a giggle, a wild woop of relief, of joy. He felt as if he were flying.

She had said yes. Non…she said 'oui.'

Remy cocked an eyebrow, "Dat French y' speakin', chere?"

Rogue widened her eyes in mock horror, "Aw hell, it was, wasn't it? Ya must be rubbing off on me, Cajun."

Remy smirked, "Not as much as I'd like to." He stepped close and wiggled against her.

Rogue laughed and pushed him away. "Gawd, do you ever stop?"

Remy shook his head stubbornly and pulled her into his arms again. "Not as long as I'm breathin', cherie."

Rogue closed her eyes and willingly and gratefully relaxed against him in the same position that she had fought so hard to avoid. She sighed and let peace fill her.

She was letting him hold her.

Remy kissed her on the top of her hair and repeated himself softly, "Not as long as I'm breathing."

Fin.


1: Mystique/Logan scene in X2

AN: This was some dialogue I had thought up while planning through "Shall We Dance." It didn't fit in that story, but I liked it anyway so I thought I'd share.

So I just got back from North Carolina, but I didn't have any time to work on the next chapter of Shall We Dance. (New title name, anyone? I'll make you a cookie!) But the main dialogue of this was kicking around in my computer, so I thought I'd post it to try and make up for the lack of update. Hopefully I'll get the next chapter up by the end of the week.

Anyway, I really like this really confrontation. I love playing with the idea of truth/masks. Let me know what ya think!