Chapter 28

You've got to promise not to stop when I say when

Foo Fighters, Everlong

"Ya look awful."

"Well, chére, I was shot." He smiled despite the weight of his words and turned to face her. "Desolé," he whispered at the way her mouth turned down. "Bad joke."

Shaking her head, she laid on his pillow. "Ya need to rest. Ah'll come back later. Ya're probably sick of me anyway..."

He looked down at her. "Non. I'm not. Here." He scooted over and patted the bed beside him. "Why don' you lay up here next to me?"

She raised an eyebrow.

"Oh, come on. If'n I wanted t' seduce you, I sure as hell wouldn't do it here." He smiled wickedly, then, "'Less you like dis kind o' thing."

She shook her head. "Shove over, Sparky."

"Now see. You didn' actually say no. Gives a man hope."

She rolled her eyes, but didn't say anything; instead, she curled into him, her head laying on his good shoulder. He curved his arm around her and fingered the ends of her wild curls. Quiet fell over them like a comfortable blanket and Rogue was certain he had fallen asleep. She looked up at him from under her lashes and saw that he was still awake. His face was calm, open. In that moment, she realized how young he really was. He always seemed so much older, more worldly than her, but right then, with his face relaxed and his breathing deep, she saw a young man. A handsome young man.

She hadn't forgotten that he was handsome. She'd found him attractive the first time she saw him. It was was different. Normally, there was some expression on his face. Some cocky half-grin or a grimace of some kind. But at that moment, he was just...peaceful. And a little vulnerable.

Heaven help her, maybe she did like this kind of thing.

She pursed her lips. "Remy?"

He glanced down at her, his mouth tilting up ever so slightly.

"Ah was-" she drew in a deep breath against the tears threatening behind her eyes. "Ah was really scared. Ah really thought Ah was gonna lose you." She swallowed, licked her lips. "Some hero, huh? Scared shitless. Oh, mah gosh, you scared me shitless."

Red eyes glittered down at her; he could see her clean to her soul, she was sure. She felt uneasy under his gaze and shifted in the bed before looking back up at him.

He smiled tightly. "When Creed shot you, I t'ought I'd die." He grimaced and moved his wounded arm toward her to trace his fingers down her cheek. "Hush, now. We both gon' need to rest." He tilted her head up and pressed a kiss on her forehead.



"...Sweet dreams."

"Beaux rêves, p'tite." (Sweet dreams, little one.)


"How long will rehabilitation last?"

"He was shot, Scott. Twice, actually. Not an insignificant amount. Of course, the argument could be made that being shot even once is difficult." Hank inspected his spectacles for smudges before slipping them back on his face. "He needs time."

Scott sucked at his teeth; Hank made a sour face.

"We don't have time. You saw the video surveillance."

"What I saw changes nothing." He placed a hand on his friend's shoulder. "Let him alone. He needs to gain strength and comfort."

Scott peered through the glass window of Remy's door. "Well, he looks pretty comfortable to me. In fact, it's grotesque how 'comfortable' he's looking."


He was not in an easy position, Remy decided. Rogue curled against him, her breathing steady, slow, warming his good side into a comfortable quasi relaxation. His other side? Throbbed like a mother. But that wasn't what was weighing on his mind as he felt her shift beside him and let out a breathy sigh.

No, it was much more serious than that.

Remy knew that he had broken one of the most important rules of the X-Men. And, not only had he broken it, he had actually broken it twice. Two times he had taken a life. Granted, both were crazed psychopaths bent on killing every mutant they crossed, but he knew Scott and Xavier. Rules were set in stone, unyielding to circumstances. Black and white. Cut and dry. And he had committed a cardinal sin. Twice.

Grinding his teeth, against the pain, he shifted, turning his body away from Rogue's warmth and laying on his bad side. Searing pain cut through his muscles before the pressure from his weight stopped it.

He knew what breaking the rules could mean for him. He could be exiled from the X-Men, the school...from her. That would be her choice, of course, but he doubted very much that she would be willing to survive the way that he knew how. Stealing a living was not her thing. Deep down he wished it wasn't his thing either.

The uncertainty of his situation wasn't the only thing keeping him from joining her in sleep.

His dreams were bloodied and broken versions of the reality he lived. Sometimes, he would find himself gripping Creed's shirt only to watch him shift into Lane and back again. He would pour his power into them until they glowed radioactive. Then he would watch as they became little more than red vapor. This was always followed by the Professor or Scott or whoever clamping chains around his arms and hauling him into a dungeon fit for a dragon.

Sometimes he hesitated. They were the worse dreams of all, he decided, when he hesitated. They always ended with Rogue slashed from her navel to her neck and him kneeling in a puddle of her blood trying to revive her. When he had that dream, he vomited all over the floor.

He knew he had broken a rule. A huge rule, to be sure. But, he also knew, he knew that he had made the only decision he could. He knew his dreams, as mutilated as they were, were not that far off from the reality that would have been. Better he be destroyed than to see those he loved destroyed.

And if he lost his home, his family, his love...he would be.

He hadn't spoken to Xavier or Scott. They'd both been to visit him on numerous occasions, but he had simply feigned sleep to avoid them. Scott would flick him in the ear and call him an asshole. Xavier would simply sit and wait for him to awaken. It took all his nerve to wait the old man out.

"Yes, you've become very adept at faking sleep."

Remy started at that, and despite himself, sent a way-too-obvious glance over his shoulder.

Xavier sat beside Rogue's side of the bed, his fingers steepled together.

Remy rolled his eyes and pursed his lips. "Professor." He grimaced and turned to face the older man. "You sneak up on me?"

Xavier shook his head. "Not at all. You were lost in your thoughts and didn't hear me."


Xavier sighed, "Remy, we need to talk."

He shook his head. "Non, we don'. I know what ya gon' say. I broke de rule. I killed two people. Dere ain' no place for a murderer in de X-Men."

The Professor chewed on the corner of his mouth. "I see you've been considering the obvious."

A self-deprecating smile, then, "Ouí. What else?"

Xavier looked thoughtful. "Tell me, Remy. Why did you kill Lane and Creed?"

"If I didn't kill 'em, they woulda killed me. Or Rogue. Hell, anybody that was a mutant."

"I agree. I believe that is called self-defense. I also believe that if you weren't a mutant, no jury in the world would convict you. That being said, you are a mutant. And while you are guaranteed a free and unbiased trial of your peers by the rules of our government, there is no real guarantee that you would get one. You can't look at a person and know whether or not they are unprejudiced and I doubt very much that the Friends of Humanity would permit your testimony to be weighed by a jury of mutants. I also don't think that they will be seeking a police investigation into the deaths of Creed and Lane. That would jeopardize their society; I think even 'normal' people would question their methods. If it ever does come to that, we have cataloged the entire mission. We have eye-witness testimony. We have surveillance feeds."

"What're ya sayin'?"

"I'm saying that you will always have a home here. With the school. With the X-Men." He paused, catching Remy's glance to Rogue. "As for her, that's not up to me. But, if I were a betting man..." He began to roll away from the bed. "You belong here, Remy."


"Did you tell him?"

Xavier looked up from his desk and fixed his brown eyes on his visitor. "No, Scott, I did not."

Scott dropped into one of the chairs opposite the professor and leaned forward, his knuckles knocking nervously against the desk's smooth surface. "I think it's important."

Xavier nodded, "I agree. But I also think that a little timing is necessary. Besides, whether we tell him now or later isn't going to effect him more or less."

"I understand that, Professor, but it just seems better to get it out in the open. No surprises."

Xavier rubbed his hand against his chin. "Is that borne of a guilty conscience?" When Scott didn't answer, Xavier clasped his hands before him and sighed. "You did what you thought was appropriate given the situation. Hindsight is always 20/20. Scott, you are a very gifted leader and strategist, but, despite what many may believe, you are only human and therefore, you are subject to mistakes."

"Mine could have cost us lives."

"Yes, well, mine could have as well."


"It was my plan. I was the one who decided to infiltrate the Friends on a multiple front. I am just as guilty as everyone else for the failure of this mission." His eyes fell to his desktop, and he traced a pattern in the wood grain. "Does the in-tel change how you feel about Remy's presence at the school?"

Scott straightened, "No, not at all. He deserves to be here."

"He was under the impression that he was going to have to leave."


"He killed two people, Scott. We have always stressed that X-Men don't kill. I think it seemed logical to him that he would be banished."

"You told him, though?"

"Of course. I think every one of us would have made the same choice."

"Damn straight."

Xavier started at that, a small smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. "I echo that feeling."


She woke up shivering.

It confused her. She'd been so warm, so comfortable, and then, suddenly, she hadn't. It seemed as if the warmth had been simply stolen from her body. She kept her eyes closed, hoping that would allow her to fall back to sleep with little incidence. She reached to the foot of the bed, snagged the bedspread and pulled it to cover her body. Then she snuggled in toward Remy.

He wasn't there.

Her eyes opened. She shook the sleep from her head as she waited for her eyes to focus on the indentation in his pillow and the carelessly heaped blankets on his side of the small bed. She rubbed at her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose.

Shaking her head, she kicked the covers from her legs and placed her bare feet on the cold infirmary floor.

"Remy?" Her voice was a sleepy whisper as she stared into the darkness of the room. Hearing no response, she padded over to the bathroom door and pushed it ajar. "Remy?" She asked again. Still there was no answer and she was awake.

Rounding back to the bed, she ran a tired hand across her forehead before deciding to buzz Hank.

"Salutations," Hank's cheery voice was a direct contrast to the dark room. "Is everything copacetic?"

Rogue rubbed her eyes. "Hank," she croaked, her voice husky from sleep, "where's Remy?"

There was a pause. "Isn't he with you?"


Gravel skittered across the pavement and crunched beneath a pair of heavy boots. The boots moved across the way, slipping and dipping in and out of shadows that seemed to have their own agendas. An uncovered man-hole was side-stepped, and the boots continued on their way, stopping ten feet away to lean against a brick wall.

Remy scuffed a toe against the cement, disrupting a small pile of pebbles that had gathered near the building he was using as a crutch. They tumbled and rolled, the sound much louder than the alley actually could afford.

Some where an alley-cat howled and hissed.

He ignored the defamation and, instead, reached into one of his many pockets. His nimble fingers pulled out an unopened package of playing cards. He sighed, ran a fingertip across the cellophane packaging and watched with little interest as the plastic melted into nothingness. He slipped the cards from their holder, tossing the cardboard into a nearby garbage can. He cracked the cards, bending them forwards and backwards. It was a nervous habit of his. He never wanted to be caught off-guard, without a back-up plan. So, he prepared his arsenal; 52 light-weight bombs were at his disposal. He twisted his wrist; the cards disappeared, deposited seamlessly into the hidden compartments up his sleeves. Sighing, he dug into his pockets once more. Retrieving a cigarette, he lit the tip with his power as his eyes scanned the area. He recognized the terrain; he'd fought on it before. It wasn't his favorite, but at least it was familiar. He sighed and shifted his stance.

The garbage can shook.

A half-hitched grin slid on his face.

"Bonne nuit, Joe."


Scott pinched the bridge of his nose. "I really don't get paid enough for this."

Hank allowed a snicker to slip out. Scott threw him a haggard look; he squeezed his lips closed. "It's not extraordinarily out of his character, you know." He glanced at where Rogue stood staring down the hall and wringing her hands nervously. "He's been showing symptoms of cabin fever for several weeks now."

Scott inclined his head. "As long as he didn't leave the grounds; he's not been told of the circumstances."

Rogue looked at them. "What circumstances?"

Sighing, Scott ran a tired hand down his face. "It's the Friends," he began. Rogue visibly stiffened; Scott continued. "They've named him 'Enemy Number One'." He swallowed at the wrinkle that appeared between her brows. "There's a bounty on his head."

"Well, if they don't kill him, Ah just might."

Scott shrugged, acceptance on his face.

"Perhaps we should see if he's with Ororo or JP." Hank suggested.

"Not it." Rogue folded her arms across her chest.

"Rogue, I understand your vacillation, but it is entirely plausible that Remy could be with them."

"And if he's not?" Scott countered, "You really want to open that can of worms?" When Hank opened his mouth to continue, Scott cut him off. "Okay. You call 'Ro and tell her you might have lost her little brother. Then tell her that he's number one on the Friends' mutant hit list. I'm sure she'll take it well."

Hank blinked his blue eyes. "We really should exhaust all possible avenues before involving them. We wouldn't want to worry them prematurely."


"I've been watching you for weeks."

Remy blew out a cloud of smoke. "No 'ffense, homme, but dat's about a seven on de creepy scale." He tapped the cigarette between his fingers; ash floated to the ground.

"It took me a little while to figure out that you were leaving every night."

No response.

Joseph continued. "I didn't think you would. Since she was in there with you. Laying beside you. In your bed."

The line of Remy's mouth was set in a poker face. No emotion. No change in his demeanor. His eyes watched with feigned interest as he rolled the butt between his fingers and thumb. After a second, he crushed it, the red-hot tip dousing against his skin. Still his face did not change, did not belie his feelings.

"So, I started following you." Joe stretched out his hand. The garbage can rattled against the pavement before sliding toward him. He turned it over and sat down. His face was void of emotion and he used his power to pull another can forward. "Forgive me, I've forgotten my manners. May I offer you a seat?"

Remy raised his hand and shook his head, dismissing the offer.

"Very well." Joe seemed unfazed and continued. "Sometimes, I didn't follow you."


Rogue rubbed her temples and tried to keep her anxiety from breaking free. Remy was still at the mansion; Scott had checked the garage and all of the cars were accounted for. She felt a small relief in that, but now, knowing that the Friends still wanted a piece of him, made her nervous all over again. She knew that he was perfectly capable of taking care of himself. She knew that he was a skillful fighter with complete control of his powers.

She also knew that she was in love with him.

And she knew that if something happened to him, she'd die.

She tapped the comm link Hank had given her. "He's not on the roof."

"Nor in the kitchen." Hank's voice sounded muffled. "However, I did find the last piece of meatloaf."

Scott's voice sounded annoyed. "I got one place left. Then we have to talk to 'Ro and JP."

Rogue nodded as she answered. "Danger Room?"

"Meet you there."


This time Remy looked at him.

Despite his determination to keep his poker face in place, he could feel his jaw twitch. His fingers curled into a fist at his side; the other hand continued to roll the butt nonchalantly in front of him.

Blue eyes reflected a nearby neon light. "Sometimes, I took your place."

The butt stilled in his fingers. His heart pounded within his chest and he raised an eyebrow, his mask beginning to chip away. "Qu'avez-vous dit? (What did you say?)"

Still sitting on the trashcan, Joe leaned in, his elbows on his knees, his hands out in front of him. "I'm curious, Gambit," his voice set Remy's teeth on edge, "her shampoo-is it roses or magnolias?"

His mask cracked wide open. Magenta burned fiercely from his eyes. As his hand shot out, a garbage can lid flew at him and crushed around his arm like a silver cast. Using his power, Joseph grabbed hold of the lid and lifted Remy into the air.


The butt detonated against Joe's chest. The explosion threw him backward. When his head cracked against the far wall, Joe's grip on Remy slackened and the latter was dropped to the ground.

Remy scrambled to his feet, his free hand digging at the metal sleeve crushing around his arm. He couldn't claw it off and he wasn't wildly keen on the idea of turning it into a bomb. He flipped his wrist, freeing a card from its hidden compartment. Filling it with kinetic energy until it glowed fuchsia, he used the card to slice through the lid. It clattered to the ground. Remy crouched down, letting himself fade into the shadows.

With a groan, Joe pulled himself up, blue eyes scanning for any sign of the other man. Pushing silver wisps from his face, he goaded, "Come out, come out, Gambit. Or have you crawled back into the rat hole you came from?" He paused, listening for the scuffled sound of boots on pavement. Only silence echoed back to him.

"She has the softest skin, you know. Like silk." He yanked back his arm. Another garbage can flew toward him, disrupting a pile of trash. Joe sucked at his teeth, clearly unsatisfied with the results. He dipped his head; narrowed eyes searching the dark. Electric lights half-hidden from the alley fell in patches upon his normally handsome features. The effect was off-putting, elongating Joe's face into a malevolent mask.

Remy kept to the shadows, analyzing his opponent and biding his time. His shoulder was beginning to burn; while he used it during his self-prescribed Danger Room sessions, he realized he hadn't before had it yanked up above his head and his entire weight hung from it. The fact that Joe's leg had healed and he was still recovering from his wounds weighed in the other man's favor. He moved silently through the shadows, his eyes more equipped for the darkness than the blue-eyed man currently stalking him. In his peripheral vision, he spotted the outline of a fire escape. He licked his lips, his mind flipping through a variety of scenarios, none of which ended favorably for him.

The problem with this sim, he silently evaluated, was that it was littered with metal.

Here, he was the underdog.

He had cards, rocks, broken bottles, and the assorted paper product; Joe had, well, everything else.

Trash cans careened across the way, heaping themselves into a pile. Finding plenty of trash, but no Gambit, Joe growled. "Coward!" He bared his teeth, cursing the man hidden in the shadows. "You don't deserve her!" As if to punctuate his feelings, he threw his arms into the air.

Above him, Remy could hear the squeal of metal being pulled too far. He looked up; the fire escape stretched, protesting its closeness to the decrepit building. Tiny explosions rained brick upon him as the contraption freed itself from its hanging place. It pulled and twisted, a great metallic snake leaving the confines of its basket at the wish of its charmer. Joe beckoned; it responded. Wave after wave of its steps and landings slithered from the building until it lay, coiled and predatory, at Joe's feet.

If it wasn't probably going to be the death of him, Remy would've been impressed.

Joe raised his arms once more; the serpentine pile of metal lifted its rusty head. He pushed his hand forward; the fire escape dove against a building. It sounded like a bomb when it hit. As the beast pulled back its head, the rest of the wall collapsed.

Joe seemed to be satisfied with his creation and clicked his tongue at his adversary. "Oh, Gambit, Gambit, Gambit." This time his tone was mirthful, a direct contrast to the biting words he had previously shouted. "You can't hide forever!"

"Don't got to." Remy answered with a handful of crushed brick.

Joe hollered as the charged particles exploded in his face; he clawed at his eyes. Remy dug his fist into Joe's gut and finished with an upper-cut to his jaw. The silver-haired man fell back into the pile of garbage and trash cans, his soldered serpent freezing in mid-strike. Remy hauled him up by his collar; his power flickered from his hand and filled Joe's shirt.

"You got a probl'm wit' me, homme?"

Blood pooled from his nose, disrupted by an eery smile. "Yeah, I do." He wiped at his nose with the back of his hand. "She's my girlfriend. You left. She picked me."

"Oui. And now I'm back." Remy's voice dropped to a threatening whisper. "An' you even t'ink 'bout touchin' her, I'll blow you sky high."

"Before or after I flatten you?"

"Won' matter none. I let go an' you're vapor."

"You don't deserve her!"

"Maybe not." Remy's eyes glowed and the twist of his mouth slid itself into a crooked grin. "But neither do you." And, pulling the shirt's charge back, he gritted against the throbbing in his shoulder and punched Joe in the face.

Joe fell back into his pile of garbage; Remy slumped down beside him, his shoulder aching. He let his head fall back against a trashcan and closed his eyes for a second. The swish of the door surprised him and he jerked his head up.

Scott was stalking toward him, his hands balled into fists and his mouth set in a grim line. He stopped in front of the two men.

A lopsided grin slid across Remy's face despite the soreness in his body. "Scott," he acknowledged his friend with a casual tilt of the head.

The stoic man answered with a nod of his own before sighing heavily and rubbing the corners of his eyes. "Saw your run."

A forced chuckle. "An' you came to congratulate me? Merci beaucoup."

"Getting a little predictable, aren't you?"

Remy's brow furrowed. "Whaddaya mean?"

Scott shrugged his shoulders, a bored expression playing on his face. "The shirt thing. You some kind of one-trick pony?"

"You get shot twice and see how experimental you're feelin'," Remy retorted.

Scott grinned. Remy decided it didn't suit him. "I've never been shot. I know what I'm doing."

Remy half-shrugged. "You never get into the action. You're an out-fielder at best."

Scott's visor flashed in annoyance; Remy's half-hitched grin smoothed across his face.

"I'll take Joe from here. I'm sure he's got some sort of explanation. Probably you irritated him into it." But his lips flickered upward and Remy knew Scott was on his side. "You need to go back to the infirmary."

As if on cue, Hank ambled into the room.

Remy shook his head. "Non. Dere's no way in hell, I'm spendin' another night in dat snowball!" Then, setting his gaze on his blue-furred friend, he added, "No 'ffense, Doc."

Hank merely shrugged his shoulders and smiled. "'We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.' Abraham Lincoln." He examined Remy's shoulder before patting him on the back. "Perhaps you would be fine to retire to your own room."

Remy watched him warily. "I'll need to get Rogue."

Hank and Scott exchanged looks. It did not go unnoticed by Remy.

"Quoi? (What?)"

Hank licked his lips. "Rogue's not there."

He sat up straight, worry etched around his eyes. "Why not? Where is she?"

"She woke up and you were gone."

Remy's eyes widened. "Merde," he groaned. Pulling himself up, he dodged between his friends and slipped out the door; his boots pounded against the tiled floor.

Scott shook his head as he hauled Joseph up by his shoulders. "That seemed a little dramatic."

Hank innocently cleared his throat. "Well, perhaps, I did insinuate to the effect that she felt neglected or rejected by his actions." He grasped Joe's ankles as Scott shifted his own grip. "But, he did insult my infirmary."


He took a deep breath before letting his forehead fall against his bedroom door. He was tired, worn and tired. His confrontation with Joe had used much of his energy and had further exacerbated his wounded shoulder. The dull throb swam down his arm and pumped pain with each thump of his heartbeat. Since he had run from the sub-levels of the mansion, his heart rate was a little faster than he could stand. He was under no pretense that the pounding in his chest was from exertion, however; no, it came from the fact that he couldn't find Rogue.

She wasn't in her room. He hadn't seen her as he flew past the rec room or the kitchen. He considered that she might be on the roof. They were a lot alike in that respect, both enjoying the solitude that the eaves and hangings granted. He pictured her sitting in the warm night air, over-analyzing the fact that he had left her alone in the hospital bed. She was a fille, after all, and if experience had taught him anything, it was that they over-thought everything.

He sighed and pressed his hand into the bandage knotted around his battle-scarred shoulder. He needed to find her before she convinced herself this was some sort of sign that he didn't want her. No, it was entirely the opposite.

He wanted her.

In the worst possible way, he wanted her.

Laying beside her each night while she slept, and him with all the pent-up energy from being confined to the med-lab; it was killing him. He had to have some sort of physical release. And, while it wasn't the preferred one, the Danger Room's runs had served his purpose. He'd been able to hold her, kiss her, and stay the gentleman.

He twisted the knob, fleetingly wondering how he was going to explain the situation to her without making it seem like he was rushing or pressuring her. Stepping into the room, he instantly stiffened.

Candles were lit about the room, bathing it in a golden warmth. The full moon shone silver through the filmy gauze of his balcony curtains. A puddle of moonlight pooled in the center of his bed, and, sitting cross-legged, her skin glowing in the ethereal light, was Rogue.

Her face was calm, open. Her hair was tied back in a messy ponytail, tendrils twisting in front of her ears. The curls tangled their way down her back, skimming the top of a simple, lacy nightgown. Remy's eyes followed the filigreed fabric until it stopped mid-way down her thighs. As he watched, she uncurled her legs, stretching them so far in front of her, he wasn't sure they would ever end. She leaned back, her head tilting so that she captured the moonlight on her cheeks and illuminated the white of her forelocks. Sooty lashes fluttered open and her emerald eyes glistened. They seemed deeper, darker, magnified by the rich green of her nightgown. He had never seen them quite that shade and he caught himself gulping from something akin to terror.

She scared him. Hell, she terrified him. One look from her, one downturn of her lips, one tear, and he could be obliterated. She could turn him into a blithering fool in a matter of moments. And yet, he couldn't resist. He stood staring for several heartbeats before it registered that he was still lingering in his doorway. He pulled the door to and turned back to watch her. She returned his gaze.

Licking her lips, her voice broke the silence. The genteel intonations of her southern accent filled the dim room, but Remy wasn't fooled. He could still hear the tinge of nerves behind her bravado. "Where ya been, Swamprat?" She pretended to study her fingernails, feigning nonchalance.

He moved slowly toward his bed, peeling his trench coat from his body. He grinned when her eyes widened at his apparent boldness. He tossed it on top of the desk and stood just beyond the moon beams' reach at the foot of the bed. His eyes glowed and he could see the pulse in her neck quicken under his scrutiny. An easy grin flirted across his lips and he cocked his head to one side, considering her question.

"Why? You miss me?"

She scoffed at that, pretended to pick at an invisible thread on his blanket. "Not hardly." But her eyes flittered up to his and he saw the spark within them. "Jus' don't want ya goin' and gettin' yo'self killed."

He raised an eyebrow. "Pardon?"

She swallowed, cleared her throat; he could hear fear inking its way back into her voice. She shook herself, clamping a smile on her face. "Seems the Friends have named you 'Enemy Number One.'"

His brow furrowed. "Is that all?"

That did it.

She flew at him, pushing him back from the foot of the bed as she jabbed her finger into his chest. "What do you mean 'is that all'? Ah was worried, Remy! Ah was worried you went on some fool trip to the city an' they got you! Ah was scared you were lying in some filthy gutter dying! An' all you can say is 'is that all'!"

He grabbed her wrists, a humorous glint in his eyes despite hers beginning to throw daggers. "Sssshhh, Rogue. 'S okay." He chuckled, earning a green-eyed glare. "'S okay, really."

"Ah fail to see the humor in this."

He shrugged, unable to hide his mirth. "If I got de jitters every time I was named t' some hit list, I'd never get t' go anywhere."

"An' jus' how many hit lists are you on?"

"Dat I know of?" He counted on his fingers. "Two hundred eighty-three." He laughed as her face paled and she dropped to sit on the bed.

He joined her, slinging his arm around her shoulders. "Dat was a joke." He swirled his fingertips over her bare shoulder and suddenly the comicality of the situation lessened.

As she examined her hands, he examined her. The strap to her nightgown slipped from her shoulder, dipping the fabric of the bodice down low on one breast. He licked his lips, his body responding instantly to the subtleties of hers. He watched her, his eyes darkening with desire and he ran his hand feather-light up her arm, slipping the strap back into place.

She stilled, turned toward him, her eyes still downcast. He hooked a finger beneath her chin, his touch tender, and lifted her face toward his. When she looked up at him through those long, black lashes, he felt his breath catch. She dropped her gaze for a second before meeting his eyes once more. Swallowing, she reached her hand up to stroke his cheek. She held her breath; he leaned into her touch. His fingertips grazed up her arms before wrapping around her shoulders. His breath shook and he stared into her eyes.

"Rogue." His voice was a whisper. "Je t'aime (I love you)."

She smiled. "Et Je t'aime (And I love you)."

And he kissed her.

And they lived happily ever-after...except for the crazy megalomaniacs...and countless ex-girlfriends that are bound to pop up eventually... ;)

Thank you for reviewing and for keeping tabs on my story. Sorry about the year (plus) hiatus. Who knew all I needed was a change in scenery? This is my first story (that I actually finished and had the guts to share) and I hope that you enjoyed reading it as much as I loved writing it. Now I can finally start a new story...

Please review.

Thank you for reading!