AUTHORS NOTE: Thanks to my roomie, I started trawling the web for stuff on Gambit. I came across the Gambit Guild, where they have full scans of important events in his life. Among these was "What If #106", and upon reading it I was mobbed by this plot bunny. Hence this piece of work.
I hereby dedicate this to my roomie, GreenAmber, who believes in happy endings. Sorry girl, this ain't one.
Rogue hasn't been sleeping well lately. When she does, she dreams strange things that she would much rather forget. Visions of bloods-red eyes pervade the dark corners of her consciousness, staring at her accusingly. When she is awake, she is half convinced that she'll find those same eyes around every shadowed corner. Logic tells her that she won't, but logic has a funny way of not appealing to minds on the brink. Lack of sleep contributes to irrationality, and irrationality takes on a life of its own. It doesn't matter that her fears are fantasies designed by her own guilt. They're real as the blankets she clutches about herself as a feeble shield against the hurtful things the shadows whisper. They call her awful things-traitor, killer, leech-but more often than not, they just say his name, and that pains her the most.
Those two syllables hold more power over her than any other word ever could. The mere mention of his name is enough to coax forth tears that burn like his touch as they fall down her face. The mere mention of his name is enough to take her back to the day that she lost him forever.
She will always hate herself for that day. Rogue stood there and watched as the man that she had given herself to unconditionally back in Antarctica fought for his life against Angel, under the indifferent watch of those that had once called themselves his friends. At the time, she thought she understood what a vacuum felt like-cold, empty, dark. She was the personification of nothingness. She steeled her face and watched.
She tells herself that she could have maintained her stony mask had Remy not spoken. She knows it's a lie, but she tells it to herself nonetheless. Deceiving herself in this way offers her a measure of comfort, however cold. In the end though, it always comes back to the fact that he did speak, and that her carefully feigned lack of sympathy was shown to be as false as a snake's promise.
She remembers every word he said. Each of them still stings as keenly as when they were first uttered. Although they had been directed towards Angel, they were intended for all of them to hear.
"I want you to know what's comin' Angel . . . you need to prepare yourself! Your dreams will be crammed wit' nightmares even when you're awake! An' your soul will churn with a maelstrom of torment that just won't quit!"
Although he addressed these remarks to Angel, Rogue knew that they were intended for each and every person present. They weren't even about Angel, really, but about Remy himself. He was sharing his own personal torment with each of them, the price he had paid for every wrong act he had ever committed. He begged no forgiveness, though likely because he could hardly offer it to himself, much less expect it expect itfrom his former friends. He had already been judged, and to apologize now would be both superfluous and a waste of breath.
"You think you know hell? You don't . . . but it's coming! Killin' me ain't gonna erase your pain . . . or ease your memories!"
Rogue had heard the warning he gave in these words, but did her best to ignore it. He was saying things that she didn't want to hear, now or ever, despite the fact she knew the truth of them deep down. She bit her lip as she watched Angel charge at Remy with all the ferocity that his righteous anger would allow. Even now, months after the fact, she still had trouble reconciling this traitor before her with the man she had known. The Remy before Antarctica was kind, warm, and full of laughter. As she looked at the murderer in front of her, all she could think of was how gently he had held her that night in the cave. She shook her head, trying to remind herself that it was this killer who had held her. The man she had loved never existed. Ever. The idea that he might have once been that man hurt her more than the idea that she had fallen prey to a con-man and an executioner.
"Tol' you earlier I wasn't ready to die . . . that's 'cause I thought I still had reason t'live. I was wrong! Go for it friend . . . you'd be doin' me a favour!
Though she had managed to tear her gaze away from him by this point, she knew he had looked to her before he began goading Angel on. His voice was that of a man who has nothing left. That wasn't what had frightened Rogue, though. What had scared her, what had her terrified, was how ready Remy seemed to be to face the fate he called for.
"Rogue! When you shouted--"
"Only nerves Remy . . . don't be readin' too much into it. You heard the Angel . . . you no longer exist to us. Any of us!"
Rogue was a terrible liar. She couldn't even face Remy as she imposed this exile upon the Cajun. An overwhelming sense of unease filled her chest as she pronounced these words. She felt horrible. She attempted to steel herself by recalling what she had seen when she had looked in to his head during the trial. She willed herself to call up the images of murdered Morlocks, of Remy in the service of Mr. Sinister. She found herself shaking, though she would never ever be sure if it had been out of rage or sorrow. She heard Remy inhale as if to speak-she didn't want to hear it. No point in forcing herself to endure anything more. She made to fly off, to be gone from this place.
"HANG ON REMY! Don't you dare die on me! We'll get you to a hospital, sugah. You're going to make it and--"
"N-no cherie…ain't no happy ending for the future."
"D-don't waste no tears on me, darlin'. A-and for God's sake…p-please don't kiss me!"
"My powers…I can absorb--"
"W-wouldn't be fair t' saddle you…with more memories…m-more pain."
Rogue had felt her heart breaking the moment Marrow launched her projectile at Remy's chest. It shattered with a resounding SHUNK that echoed the sound of the bone embedding itself in his lungs. Her lover's silent scream echoed through her head despite the fact he never made a sound. She herself gave voice to the pain she had known he was feeling. She ran to his side, holding his dying body close to her with all the greed of a bitter child. He couldn't be taken from her. He wouldn't be. She spoke reassuring words, knowing they were for her own peace of mind rather than his. Remy had always been so strong, he didn't need her assurance. He stopped her mid-sentence, wheezing something about happy endings. Through her tears, Rogue tried to tell him to shut up, to stop being stupid.
". . . P-please don't kiss me!" He had begged, cringing. She was shocked at this refusal to accept what help she could give. He rasped something about fairness and saddling, memories and pain. Rogue could barely make sense of it, but she was able to understand that he wanted to spare her suffering. Her frustration was palpable. Dammit, how she wanted that pain. Bearing his memories would be a small price to have him breathing beside her, to have him with her now.
"I…I don't blame Marrow for goin' off on me. I got no worse than I deserved. B-but I want this team t' draw back together. P-please let the circle of hate…end here…and now…"
Remy's voice had been so weak. It was excruciating to listen to him as he fought to express himself, each word more difficult to speak than the last. Rogue didn't bother to blink back the tears that fell as the man in her arms exonerated Marrow for her actions, as he implored the X-Men to remain united. He had looked sadly towards Rogue as he spoke his last sentence, begging for this hate to come to an end. That was when the lights in Remy's eyes snapped out. His body went limp in her arms, and he was no more.
There are simply no words to explain what it feels like to have someone die in your arms. You cannot give words to something that transcends communication. The only way to understand is to experience it. The closest that one can come to explaining it is to use horribly overwrought clichés that simply make a mockery of the hurt and loss.
She hides under her blankets now, trying to block out painful thoughts while clutching at a scribbled map of Antarctica. It's all she has left.