Disclaimer: I do not own these characters in any way, shape, or form.
AN: Bet you thought I forgot all about this fic, huh? Well, it's back--for a little while, anyway.
love is the only heart disease that is best left to "run
on"--the only affection of the heart for which there is no help,
and none desired.
- Mark Twain's Notebook
are no people who are quite so vulgar as the over-refined.
- Mark Twain, Following the Equator
Chapter One: The First Engagement
"You look beautiful."
Anna-Marie Darkholme smiled up at her handsome fiancé's reflection, "Fit ta grace your arm, am Ah?"
Pietro Maximoff smirked down at her, "You'll make me look good, all right. Not that that's too hard to do."
They were in her lush cabin's quarters. Anna-Marie was just putting the finishing touches on her make up in front of what she was sure was a real gold-gilt mirror. Pietro was standing behind her, eyeing her appreciatively.
Anna-Marie laughed and turning around gave him a smack on the shoulder.
"Ow! Rogue!" he whined.
"Please, ya know ya were askin' for it," she responded teasingly
"That isn't all I'm asking for," he murmured huskily.
"But Ah only give you what's good for ya," Rogue winked at him. "'Sides, don't ya want to go and impress all your old classmates?"
Pietro grinned at her, "You know it, babe." He took her hand and entwined her fingers with his, leading the way to the dining hall.
The ship's corridors were just as elegant as the rest of it. Plush crimson carpeting lined the center of the floor only to reveal the gleaming wood along the edges. The walls were decorated with gold trim. Rogue felt as if she were drowning in luxury. She found it curiously suffocating, and attempted to divert her attention from her surroundings.
"Are ya nervous about seein' Wanda?"
"No, of course not," his voice was pitched just a little too high for her to believe him. "You?"
"No. She's been talkin' ta me again for weeks now. Of course, at first that wasn't an improvement, but Ah think we've pretty much worked it out now. She's still pissed at ya though."
"Why am I not surprised?" he muttered.
"When are you gonna learn that runnin' away from her only makes her angrier?"
"When she stops punching so damn hard," Pietro said as they reached the door to the main dining hall.
"Don't be such a wimp, Pety. Ya know she only does it cause she loves ya. If she didn't care, she'd let you run your life as ya please."
Pietro drew up in mock offense, "Are you calling Pietro Maximoff a wimp? That's it, now you must pay!"
Rogue cocked an eyebrow at him, "What exactly did ya have in mind?"
"This," and he stepped close and kissed her.
Rogue felt herself sigh a little before she wrapped her arms around her fiancé's neck and responded to his kiss.
When Pietro finally pulled back, he looked into Rogue's eyes for a long moment. "Have I told you lately how glad I am that you said yes?"
One corner of Rogue's mouth twitched upwards, "Finally?"
"Finally," he conceded, then smirked, releasing her to open the door. "After all, who could hold out on this forever?"
Rogue swallowed back her retort forced herself to behave. She settled for staring at him with her amusement evident on her face. After all, she was finally going to meet the classmates that she had heard so much about every summer growing up. There were so many stories she wanted to confirm, so many ideas waiting to be hatched, so much potential for stirring up mischief…
Pietro held out his arm to escort her in like a gentleman. She took it and turned in, scanning the room.
Anna-Marie barely noticed the elegant gold and crystal chandeliers dangling from the ceiling, the dark wooden molding that gracefully accented the lightly gold walls, or the elaborate table settings concealing food which, judging by the aroma, was going to be a true feast.
Instead, her attention was drawn through the open bay doors onto the deck. There was a man standing there, leaning on the rail and smoking a cigarette. He was tall, immaculately dressed in an perfectly tailored suit that emphasized a lean, fit, utterly masculine build. It was too dark outside for her to see his features clearly. But for some reason, she was certain that they would be handsome, and speak of mystery. The only thing she could see clearly was his eyes and they seemed…they seemed to glow red in the darkness.
No wonder her attention had been drawn to him. His eyes were locked on her.
Her mind automatically began writing a description of him. She wished she had snuck in a pen and notebook. These things were never as good remembered as they were on first impression…His eyes smoldered with unearthly light as he smoked his last cigarette. He watched the sparkling lights through open doors but felt no compulsion to enter. His place was in the darkness, and he relished the mystery it brought him. He was as illusive as the wind that stirred his hair, as perilous and dynamic as the sea crashing behind him…
She felt something in her chest catch and reach towards that dark figure. Call it curiosity, a writer's instinct, a nose for trouble…attraction… No matter what it was, it was enough for her to freeze in place, trapped in the stranger's gaze.
Hmm, 'trapped in a stranger's gaze.' That's a good one. Ah should remember it. And like that the trap was broken as Pietro, oblivious to whatever it was that had just been exchanged between the stranger and his fiancée, led her to their table.
Remy LeBeau's eyes narrowed as he watched the mysterious belle walk away from his gaze without a backwards glance. He took one last, long drag on his cigarette and then flicked it over the ship's rail into the sea.
She was a complication that he hadn't anticipated, but he welcomed it. He was always up for more of a challenge. Especially if it came incased in the form of a beautiful femme.
Remy surveyed the room one more time, evaluating his next move.
Scott Summers was standing with the founder of the school, Prof. Charles Xavier and one of the teachers, Dr. Hank McCoy. But his eyes were fixed on someone across the room. Remy followed his gaze to Jean Grey.
Jean was very obviously talking with Warren Worthington on the other side of the room. He allowed his mouth to quirk up in a bitter smirk. He had never liked Scott Summers. When the idiot had started ignoring his relationship with the beautiful Jean Grey in favor of putting more and more time into his father's company, any respect that he had possessed for the man crumbled. When Scott's lack of attention caused Jean to drop him like a hot brick, Remy could only shake his head at the man's foolishness. Remy believed in true love. He knew that it wasn't often in the world that it could be found, and he knew that like all rare things it should be cherished. Jean had truly loved Scott, and Scott had let that slip through his fingers.
It's not everyone that finds true love. Why is it that the ones who do always seem to let it go so easily?
Standing three paces away at a thirty-five degree angle from Jean was her bodyguard, the same bodyguard she had had since her older sister Sarah had been kidnapped and murdered when Jean was eight. Logan, also known by his old Green Beret call sign Wolverine was a fierce looking man in his mid thirties. Wolverine was one of the main reasons why Remy had never seriously made a move on Jean Grey. The man was as overprotective as they came. Sometimes Remy wondered at the source of that overprotectiveness…
But he's so old, Remy thought and, as always, shuddered.
Jubilation Lee and Princess Amara Aquilla were crowding Piotr Rasputin, who appeared to be trying to have an intelligent conversation with the school's other instructor, Ororo Monroe. Remy couldn't help but smile at the sight. Ororo was a beautiful woman who had understood him very well, and Piotr was one of the three schoolmates that he could actually stand. He felt bad for Piotr. It was obvious that the two girls were much more concerned with getting his attention than they were with contributing anything meaningful to the conversation.
Any other day, I'd be glad to take such pretty filles off your hands, mon ami, mais, today…
Over by the bar stood Pietro's twin sister Wanda and her on-again-off-again boyfriend St. John Allerdyce. Remy had always found it strange that he got along so well with Wanda, but could barely stand to be in the same room with Pietro. Perhaps it was because she shared the same distain for her brother and her father as he did. Since she had found out the truth about her patronage, Wanda had made it a point to distance herself from her father Erik Lensherr. She had left the family business and had opened up a very successful clothing line, Scarlet Styles, and was well on her way to becoming the next Gucci. As for St. John--well, you either had to love him or hate him, and since Remy had long since decided that hiding John's corpse would be too much effort, he and the crazy Aussie had struck up a true friendship.
If I want information on de femme, that's where I should go.
He saw John point over to where Pietro and the mysterious belle were sitting. Wanda rolled her eyes and ordered another drink, before grabbing John's hand and starting to head in their direction.
Time t' go, he thought.
He crossed the dining room floor smoothly and intercepted Wanda and John. "Bonsoir, ma belle," he said and grabbed Wanda's hand, bringing it up for a kiss.
"Remy LeBeau, you scamp! I didn't think you would come!" Wanda grinned at him.
"Hands off, mate," John growled, his eyes twinkling. "Don't be getting any ideas."
"Mais, with a vision such as dis before me, how could I help but get ideas?"
"Well, it probably would help if you had a brain to think with," Wanda agreed cheerfully, removing her hand from his grasp and snuggling into the arm that John had wrapped around her shoulder.
Must be one of their 'on' nights.
"Well, we can't all measure up t' your peerless frere, belle."
A muscle in Wanda's face twitched and she turned to John, "I want another drink."
"Now Wanda, you know I'd love to see you kick the crap out of your brother. But you made me promise to you that I wouldn't let you do it on the first night so you could build up the suspense. And if I go get you that drink, are you really gonna be able to hold back, luv?"
Wanda huffed, crossed her arms, and pouted.
"He's not exactly her favorite person at the moment," John explained to Remy.
"I can see that," Remy said. "Why the sudden increase in hostility?"
Wanda muttered something that sounded suspiciously like 'hard-headed arrogant jerk,' but Remy couldn't be sure.
Remy made a great show of glancing over at Pietro and said, "I see he's brought company with him. Who's that?"
"That? Oh, that's Rogue. I mean, Anna-Marie Darkholme," Wanda responded, relaxing slightly.
Rogue? Remy wasn't sure which of the two names intrigued him more. He decided to ask about the one that tugged at his memory. "Dat name is familiar…"
"It should be," Wanda smirked, "if you haven't been hiding under a rock for the past seven years."
Some indefinable expression crossed Remy's face.
Wanda's eyes widened. "Oh no you don't."
He looked at her, confused.
"Now listen, I may not be ecstatic over the fact that my best friend is marrying my dumber half, but I know for a fact that she's better off with him than with you. At least he respects her for who she is; I've never known you to look past a good time. So stay away."
Unfortunately for him, Remy only heard one part of Wanda's warning, Marrying. She can't be. That gem--is gonna belong to Pietro Maximoff forever? Non, non, this ain't right. I've gotta fix dis.
He blinked a couple of times and focused back on Wanda, "He's gonna marry her?"
Wanda snorted. "Apparently. That's usually what follows an engagement."
She's engaged. … I can work around that.
"Come on, luv. You promised you'd finally introduce me to her," John was tugging at Wanda's arm like a puppy straining at a leash.
Wanda's face suddenly lit up in an evil grin, "She's been waiting to meet you for years, John. She's always said that some of my stories were too crazy to be true. I can't wait to hear which one she asks you about first!"
John paled slightly, "You coming, Rems?" Save me! clearly intimated in his voice.
Play nonchalant. Don't want to raise Wanda's suspicions any more. 'Sides, it looks like Piotr could use some help.
"Nah, I'll catch up with good ol' Pietro later. Right now it looks like Piotr needs some rescuing from some fair damsels."
John's eyes narrowed as Wanda began to lead him away, "Careful, mate. News is out that Jubes' company is going down the tubes. She's probably fishing for some fresh revenue, if you know what I mean."
"T'anks for de warnin', mon ami." Remy grinned and headed over towards Piotr and Ororo.
"Bonsoir, mes amis! Did you miss me?" He called out while still a few feet away from them, throwing his arms out expansively.
"Remy!" Jubliee squealed and left the circle, throwing herself into his arms.
He chuckled softly, "I reckon so." Throwing his arm casually around Jubliee's shoulders, he approached the circle. (1)
Amara smiled at him with her usual diplomatic grace. Piotr looked relieved to see him. Ororo extended a graceful hand. "It is good to see you here, Remy."
Without missing a beat, Remy grasped Ororo's hand and lifted it to his lips, "With an invitation from a woman such as you, Ms. Monroe, how could I refuse?"
"I see that you haven't changed," Ororo said smiling.
"That's not entirely true. What happened to speaking in the third person?" Amara asked, one eyebrow raising elegantly as she took a sip of her wine.
"Dis real magnifique femme talked me out of it," Remy responded, grinning.
"What did she have that I didn't?" Amara pouted slightly. She had spent years in school trying to rid him of "That infuriating habit."
"A cast iron frying pan," he said wryly, smirking.
The others laughed, not knowing how true his statement was.
A few months ago his Tante Mattie had cornered him in the kitchen. "I've had about enough of dis, boy."
"You talkin' in de t'ird person like some cheap comic book character. Ya better learn to talk like a normal human being, boy, or I'll follow you around with dis here pan and make ya feel it!"
"I talk in first person sometimes, Tante!"
"Like when you're in a corner wit' a fryin' pan between you an' freedom. Dat's such a tell, Remy, ya should be ashamed! But if a fryin' pan's what it takes t' get ya t' start speakin' like a normal person, ya better believe dat's what you're gonna get!"
Remy shook his head from his memory. Jubliee was speaking. "It's just so good to see everyone back together again! It's been, like, way too long! I'm so happy--"
Jean Grey and Professor Xavier had obtained a microphone. "I'd like to thank everyone for coming," Jean's voice cut through the various pieces of mundane conversation. "As you all know, we're here to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of Xavier's school. Since we spent most of high school traveling around the world with these teachers, learning many of the skills that have influenced our lives so much today…"
Remy starting tuning Jean out. Instead, he focused on the beautiful woman standing next to Pietro. Anna-Marie Darkholme. World famous author. She had taken the literary world by a storm seven years ago. She was famous for picking an area of the world and living in it for a while, almost seeming to absorb the culture and history, and then converting it into a story. She had published one book every year, and several short stories. She wasn't restricted by genre, but she usually dealt with historical fiction, suspense, and romance all rolled into one. He had read her latest novel on an airplane from Holland to Louisiana. It had kept him up all night. The fact that just her words, her mind could do that to him was intriguing…
Even more intriguing, her friends called her Rogue. Rogue. He liked the sound of that name. He wondered why they gave it to her…
Jean had finally given the microphone over to Professor Xavier. "My dear students, it is a great joy to see all of you gathered here. I hope to be able to speak with all of you during this time and learn what you have been accomplishing with your great gifts. One of the precepts that we strained to impress upon you during your time with us was that to whom much is given much is required. And you have all been given much. I look forward to speaking with each of you and I trust that you will all enjoy yourselves together."
Oh, don't worry Prof. I plan on it.
Pietro was gossiping over with Warren, discreet music had begun to play, and Wanda and John were dancing. Now would be the perfect time to approach her…
"It's good to see you again, Remy."
Remy grimaced, then forced himself to turn around and smile at the lovely Jean Grey. "It's always good to see me," he winked at her, counting on the arrogance that had so repulsed her in high school to do so now so that he could make a quick escape.
Instead, Jean threw her head back and laughed. Remy's eyes traced the long smooth line of her neck appreciatively. This is different.
"Oh Remy, you're so silly," Jean said and slipped her hand around his arm. "Come get a drink with me."
He glanced around, noticing that Scott was glaring at them, feeling Logan's presence become just a bit more threatening behind him. Oh, clever, Jeannie, clever.
Remy decided that he'd play along, for now. After all, annoying Scott had been one of his favorite pass times in high school. It would probably prove to be just as amusing now. Besides, Jubliee had followed Piotr over to talk to his prospective belle. It was better to wait for the opportune moment.
There was no doubt about it. Rogue was bored. Oh, she knew she would be. She hated parties like this, pointless mingling and sneaky snubs and networking. But Pietro was in his element. He had seen Wanda dragging John over to meet her and had quickly occupied himself somewhere else. Chicken, she smirked.
She had enjoyed finally meeting John, watching him turn as red as his hair was orange when she asked him if the story about wearing pink underwear on his head to the Sistine Chapel was true.
But then Wanda had to take him away to "comfort" him. They were obviously having an 'on' night.
No, she had never met any of these people before, but she felt like she knew them already from Wanda and Pietro's stories.
That couple coming towards her now--she'd bet her eyeteeth they were Piotr Rasputin and Jubliee.
"I don't recall having seen you before, Miss…" the muscled handsome man spoke with a slight Russian accent.
Rogue smiled and extended her hand, "Darkholme. Anna-Marie Darkholme. Soon to be Maximoff. And you are?"
The man took her hand in his much larger one for in a gentle grasp, "Piotr Rasputin. And this is Jubilation Lee."
"I like to be called Jubliee," the pretty Asian girl spoke up.
Guess Ah get to keep my eyeteeth.
"It's a pleasure to meet both of you," Rogue smiled, retrieving her hand from Piotr's grip.
"'Soon to be Maximoff?' You're marrying Pietro?" Jubliee asked, eyes wide.
"That's what he tells me," Rogue felt her smile strain a little. Why did Ah agree to come on this again?
"Wow. I never thought he would settle down. He was always such a flirt."
Anna-Marie smiled, "Don't Ah know it. But he's my ticket on this ship, sure enough." And Ah can't wait to thank him for it.
Jubliee was eyeing her somewhat skeptically. Piotr was eyeing her as well, but it wasn't skeptical at all.
"Are you the Anna-Marie Darkholme?" Piotr asked suddenly, as if he was coming to a realization.
"Ah wasn't aware that there was another," she smiled at him. Piotr was not looking at her eyes. Yes, her smile was definitely starting to crack. Where was Pietro?
"I understand you are up for a Pulitzer Price for your latest book, The Sun Sets in the East." Piotr said.
"Yes, it's a great honor." Rogue felt something in her relax slightly. The man had stopped eyeing her like a hunk of meat and was now looking at her face. Still, she was always wary when it came to talking about her work. She had found that it was the one subject that she could talk about forever, regardless of who she was speaking with. She had to be careful, she didn't want to start to run on too long.
"I've like, wanted to ask you about that. About the title, I mean--what did you mean by it? I've never understood it. I mean, the sun sets in the west, doesn't it?" Jubliee scrunched up her nose as she finished asking her question.
Rogue sighed quietly. It wouldn't due to offend them on the first night, after all. Better to wait for the second night. Or the second afternoon, depending on how long her patience lasted. She took a breath to respond when a husky voice from behind her said,
"I always t'ought de name had somet'ing to do wit' de fact that it was set at de end of Japan's samurai age. The sun settin' symbolizing de end of de age. Mais, me, I also t'ought dat it might be a bit of a joke, a t'umbing of de nose at de way t'ings are expected an' supposed t' go, and dat ties into de story too, non?"
Rogue turned to face the voice, "That's very insightful Mr…" she trailed off, not only because she didn't know his name, but at the sight of the man behind her.
It was the man from the deck.
AN: Please, don't expect this fic to be serious. It's for fun. Also, I'm not doing major accents in this fic for two reasons. One--Xavier's was a traveling school. All the kiddies spent 4 years of their life all over the world, that's enough to get rid of strong accent tendencies. Two: I'm scared of Piotr and John's accent.
Expect to see a lot of quotes from Mark Twain and random song lyrics--I know, I know, Mark Twain wasn't born in Miss, and he didn't really live there either--but he spent a whole lotta time on the river, so I'm saying that counts.
Yes, I will be messing around with the other characters. They're just too fun to leave alone. I only know for sure how two other couples, besides Remy/Rogue, (this is a Romy, I swear) will end up. I want you all to realize how painful writing sweet moments with Pietro is. Ugh. Gag me.
Oh, and Eileen, if you're reading this, I want you to know that Tante Mattie's frying pan was for you.
I would like to thank everyone who reviewed and encouraged me to continue with this fic. If you like it, you can pat yourself on the back because there's a good chance that I wouldn't be writing it if you hadn't encouraged me to do so.
1--ad libbed from X-Men the Animated Series; Night of the Sentinals 2
Special thanks to all the wonderful readers who reviewed and encouraged me to continue with this fic!
DragonScales13, bored247, RogueandGambit, Ishy, Kit, 4rogue, Mercutioslover (great name, btw), Cat, Les723, Le Rossignol de la Soiree, Captain Annie, Chica de Los Ojos Cafe, Roguechere, enchantedlight, anon, WolvGambit Le Diable Blanc, helppuppie, pinkpunkmonkey, addtothenoise, G.U.L.P., BLISSFULLY-JADED73, punkrogue, heartsyhawk
Seriously, this wouldn't be up here now if it wasn't for you guys. Thanks a bunch!