Talks, Walks and Stalks
For Alara – as a um, very late birthday gift. I swear that next year I will much more prompt. Also, sorry for the slight bastardizatoin of your request. I knew what I wanted and the muses knew what they wanted, and this is the compromise we settled on. In apology for not only having this late, but also not having it when I said I would, yesterday or tonight, I hereby remove my next update (following this) from the game of tag and count it as a freeby.
Remy LeBeau wasn't a stalker. That was – well, such a harsh word. Angry and suspicious. And – really, now – a complete misnomer. Stalker, ha! He wasn't a stalker. He just liked to observe, in the way that required binoculars, inconspicuous clothing, and constant pursuit.
Tell that to the cop that had pulled him back from the crowded sidewalk he'd been lurking on. And, okay, Remy had, in bright terms and a cheerful voice and maybe with that little something extra that made people want to just curl under his hand like a puppy, and maybe after the cop had folded like he thought Remy was carrying a straight, but not before the whole experience had cost him five minutes and her trail.
He stood on the street corner with his hands in his pockets and snowflakes in his hair, wondering where to go next.
The mansion gates were an easy, if vaguely boring option. There'd be no thrill to it, no scent to pursue. Or... He reached up briefly to shake the falling snow from his wet hair and started walking in the direction he'd last seen her go. He could do something a little more fun. Pretend to be a husband or a brother, claim her as a runaway relative. All it'd take was a sad eye and a down-turned lip and people were sure to start volunteering information.
He smiled at a girl who smiled at him. Long hair, big eyes, curved in a good way and dressed in completely inappropriate clothes: a skirt that left her knees exposed, a jacket that slipped off one shoulder, and what seemed like a camisole underneath. There was a good line for him there – something about body heat and nice girls and days like this – but he held it on his tongue and moved past her, because he was after bigger fish this day.
A silly grin spread across his face. Rogue. She was – she was – well. Hard to categorize. But damn fun, that much he knew. There was something so amusing about the way she glared, all tortured emo darkness mixed with that southern stubborn spite. It made him want to pull her hair and then run across the playground so that she'd have to chase him. It also made him want to coax her to softness with kisses and caresses in the back of a dark room and it was a downright shame that he could do neither, because both activities required her actually knowing that he was in Bayville and watching her. That, in turn, would require his explaining why, and probably his paying some kind of mandatory fee in physical pain.
He nodded pleasantly in acknowledgement of a middle-aged woman headed in his direction, frazzled and quite possibly, sleep-deprived. There were shadows under her eyes, frizz in her hair, and a sort-of sag in her shoulders. "Good afternoon," he declared, because she didn't seem the type to be greeted enough. She blossomed a bit under the attention. In the corner of his eye Remy could see the okay-girl pouting that she had been overlooked, and he was doubly glad that he had moved past her.
After a few more steps in the snow, he was beyond both women, and his mind refocused on the one that he had come to see. There was a dead-end up ahead, where the sidewalk met the giant Macy's store wall. The path turned left or right, and he paused, wondering which direction to choose. He tapped a finger against his pants and then decided that right was right, just because, and went that way.
He barely had two feet around the corner when a hand slid between his hair and his collar. There was a cold flash that lasted a second or two, and then he slumped forwards, unconscious, to the ground and was just barely saved by the efforts of two slender, pale arms.
The first words he heard as he found his way back to consciousness were, "Hey, do ya want some chocolate?", and there was an accompanying vision: a small piece of chocolate-and-something-nutty pushed towards his face. He blinked and seized the offer, while straightening his back.
He was on a bench in the park. The snowing had ceased, and she was next to him. Remy frowned. "You-"
"Ah'd save those accusations, Gumbo. Let's not forget who was stalkin' who." Rogue stared down at the rest of the candy in her hand. "Did ya really think Ah didn't know? Ah have been trained, Remy. Ya could've at least stuck ta the rooftops." She shook her head and placed a piece of candy into her own mouth.
"Next time," he promised earnestly.
"Uh huh." She leveled her gaze at him. It wasn't a glare, not yet, but something close. He couldn't help but smile. "So, are ya gonna tell me why Ah can't get ya off my footsteps, Remy? Or should Ah just infer the answer. Ain't seen Magneto around lately, but ya never really know with that man."
"An' naturally, Ah trust your every word."
"Well. Not t' be difficult, Chere. You know how I'd hate t' be that. I wanna be nothin' but easy, so far as you're concerned. But uh, y' did go an' touch me. Shoudn't all my deepest secrets be yours by now? Includin' my motivation for seekin' y' out this fine an' blustery December afternoon?"
She rolled her eyes. "It was a very slight touch, Cajun."
"I don't know 'bout that. It seemed t' be a very pronounced skin-to-skin contact."
"You seem ta be a very pronounced fool, but do Ah go around announcin' that?"
He paused. "Yes."
She nodded in consent. "Anyways, it's not like Ah get ta choose what Ah take. It all just sort a' comes. Ah took some very interestin' information about me that Ah'm not so sure was necessary or appropriate, some imagery involvin' the both o' us that Ah really, really didn't need." She shrugged. "Not so much with the why ya are here."
He mouthed an, "Oh", and then chewed thoughtfully on the candy she'd handed him. How best to explain it. "Chere," he began, because that was always a good starting point. "I happened t' be nearby in da city, and it occurred t' me dat maybe I oughta check in on my good friend in Bayville. Make sure she's doin' all right."
"Ya mean, without a big strong man t' protect me?" She wondered, before kicking him hard in the shin. It stung like hell, but he swallowed hard and focused on the fact that she hadn't corrected him for her calling her a friend. A good friend, even. He grinned brighter.
"Just because a lady can protect herself, doesn't mean a gentleman shouldn't step in and lend her a hand."
Rogue crossed her arms. "Is that what that was? You lendin' me a hand?"
"Would you prefer a different appendage?"
"Only if Ah can set it on fire," She said, dragging a stray lock of hair behind an ear. Her face was brightened by the cold, more rosy and just as clear. He approved – and, kept that to himself, because he wasn't a complete idiot.
He sighed. "I was just tryin' t' verify your happiness, Chere. I know y' chose t' stay wit' family, but sometimes – sometimes dat does not work out da way one might hope."
"Am Ah ta infer that the LeBeaus-"
"Same as ever," he shrugged, not particularly interested in revisiting that history. They could never seem to treat him like a person. First, he was the human weapon, then he became the human olive branch. Engaged, they'd said. To that murderous, arrow-shooting, whore-red-lipstick-wearing, brother-kissing thing. Even he had standards, and Belladonna fell well below that line.
Like, if that line was the sky, she was trapped in an underground cavern.
If that line was the ribbon at the end of a marathon, she was choking on desperation with twenty thousand left to go.
Like hell he was marrying that.
But now Rogue was watching him with some concern, the murky green-gray swirl of her eyes was intent upon him and he wasn't going to waste that attention. He sighed heavily, and leaned towards her just a bit, inviting her to drape her arm across his shoulders – which she did not do. She pushed herself back an inch instead and said, "Well, buck up. No one wants ta be around a sad mopey loser, an' Ah am no exception."
He frowned. "I didn't tell you dat."
"No. Ya kidnapped me an' dragged me into Family Fued: The Bayou Version; now with real explodin' sons."
He grinned at her. "I missed you, Chere."
She sighed. "Ya don't know me."
"Which is only evidence dat we could be da best friends ever, if given a chance, oui? Come on. We take a walk. It'll be fun, educational, an' completely devoid o' inappropriate behavior. Scout's honor." He tugged at her sleeve. "You get t' know me, I get t' know you. In da completely non-Biblical sense o' da word." She dropped her head to hide a smile at that, and he felt encouraged. "I ain't above fallin' t' my knees, if dat's what it takes." He slipped off the bench to his knees and reached for her hand.
He didn't catch it, but it caught him, and swiftly, across the back of the head. "Ah don't know why Ah bother with you."
"Is dat a 'yes, Remy LeBeau, He Whom I Adore Greatly, I will go on a walk wit' you'?"
"More like a 'shut up before Ah change my mind'." She stood up, straightened her jacket and refused the arm he offered. But she stood beside him, and when he moved onto a bike trail heading into the woods, she followed. That was progress, he thought, happily, especially given their past. She trusted him enough not think he had an evil, magnetically-charged posse waiting behind the trees, and liked him enough accompany him anyways. This was turning out better than he had supposed. "An' wipe that stupid grin off your face," Rogue demanded.
"Damn it, LeBeau. Ah am not gonna climb trees with ya. Just – no. "
Rogue had her arms crossed, her back pushed up against the bark of a tree, and her eyes were somewhere in the leaves or on the horizon or maybe on her watch (Remy made a personal note to relieve her of that – human competition, he laughed at, but enemies of the electronic sort...those he hated). Remy was sitting in a tree, positioned on a branch so that his legs kicked the air two feet sideways of her shoulders. They'd been walking for a while, and he was trying to convince her to join him in the rest.
Trying, and failing. "Chere!"
She turned, peered over her shoulder to glare at him. "Ya think Ah don't know ya?"
"But... y' don't. Dat's why we sharin' dis time, remember?"
"We've shared time enough. Ah get the picture."
He frowned. "Rogue, what could possibly happen?"
"Ah could hear ya singin', 'Rogue an' Remy, sittin' in a tree...' somewhere inside my head for the rest o' my natural life. There's enough junk in my head, Ah don't need that memory, too." She shuddered, like she was shaking off the bogeyman, but he couldn't help but smile.
"Dat's got a nice ring to it."
"So will your head, once Ah carve out your peanut-sized brain."
He frowned and pulled his legs up. "Dat's not very nice."
"Damn," she said, with the snap of her fingers. "Ah had so wanted t' be an emblem o' sweetness an' grace."
With a grin, he curled himself around the branch and swung down so that they were face-to-upside-face. "Wasn't dis in a movie?" He wondered when she took a step closer. "It was rainy an' just him an' her were around, no one else..."
"Aw, nice." She smiled – and he froze suddenly, because it was a real smile, a genuine happy-to-be-here curve of the lips, and it was sweet and graceful and all of the things that Remy had previously noticed in the way she moved, but never before in the way she smiled (she'd never smiled at him like that before). He opened his mouth to talk, but her gloved fingertips pressed his lips together. "Hey, Remy?"
She trailed a glove across his face and leaned in. "Don't drop your guard." And then she push-pulled him from the tree, so forcefully he hit the ground with a thud, head-first, before he had a chance to react. He laid there after, blinking, trying to figure out what had happened. A shoe nudged his leg. "Come on, Gumbo. We gotta head back before it's dark. Ah don't wanna have ta save ya from the midnight monsters. An' watch out, will ya? There's a-"
He was only half-listening as he rolled over to push himself back onto his feet. Except that the ground where he rolled wasn't actually there, the beginning of a ravine existed instead. Somewhere in his head, it clicked, Rogue's words and the sudden sensation of falling (tumbling), but only just barely, because the greater part of his mental resources were far too busy repeating a phrase:
"Just once, I'd like t' wake up next t' you in a nice settin'." Remy sighed, after opening his eyes and finding darkness and Rogue and great pain in his chest. He tried to move and found it couldn't, not quite. "Ow."
Her hands pushed at him to lie down. "Stupid Cajun. Ya hurt yourself. Right now, it isn't that bad but if ya move, it might get serious an' Ah don't know that Ah want ta deal with that kind o' drama, so shut it an' lie down before Ah decide ta put ya out ta pasture an' skip on home ta coffee an' Heroes. There's a new episode t'night."
"Let me guess. Someone's brains get eaten."
"Ah don't appreciate that tone o' voice, Gambit."
He frowned. "It's gone from Remy t' LeBeau t' Gumbo t' Gambit. Are we becomin' less acquainted as time goes on, because somethin' tells me dat ain't da way it's supposed t' go. By da time I can walk again, it'll be 'hey, stranger, why are you lookin' at me?'"
"We're not waitin' on stupid Cajuns ta recover. We'll be here forever, if that were the case. There is no helpin' you." She shifted, crossed her legs beneath her. "We're waitin' for the X-men. The cavalry, if ya will. When Ah don't go home, they will wonder why, the professor will search Cerebro, locate our powers – everyone will freak out 'cause Ah'm near you – and rush ta my aid, at which point Ah will explain that you're dumb and thus, injured. They'll stick you in the infirmary, probably with Logan as a guard, an' Ah'll sit down for a nice hour with Nathan Petrelli."
Gambit made a face. "It ain't real."
"Right," she agreed. "'Cause people with extraordinary powers. Ha! Most ridiculous thing Ah ever heard." He scoffed, and she laughed, lightly. "It's just nice ta watch someone else save the world for a change."
"I am sorry I didn't come back for da whole Apocalypse event." He was sorry; he had watched it on the news and wanted to be there, felt like a creep for sitting on warm couches with wine and books and Bella instead, but his father's hand had held him there. Negotiations, son!
"Don't let it keep ya up." She shrugged. "Someone will try ta conquer the world again. There'll be a second chance."
"An' you're dead set on bein' a hero." He smiled at her.
"Ah'm set on playin' an active role in the continued existence o' my person."
He shifted – painfully – and said, "Seems like you're playin' an active role in da continued existence o' my person, too. Dare I say ya want me alive, especially, for my manly charms an' devil-may-care attitude? O' would y' like t' own up t' bein' just a little more romantic an' admit you're a hero?"
"Good God." She said, lightly. "How do Ah not hate ya?"
"Magic voodoo spell," he assured her. "I keep a special made Rogue-poppet in my top drawer, spring some pixie dust, an' make her love me. Some other stuff, too, but a gentleman never talks about dat."
"You're disgustin'," she muttered.
"But lovable." He pointed out. She didn't respond – to confirm or deny – and he was beginning to realize that her silence was it's own language, requiring interpretation (or maybe he was losing blood and/or oxygen somewhere). They sat for a moment in silence, Remy on his back, and Rogue at his side, until, unable to resist, he said, "When I came t' Bayville t' see you, I had no idea we'd be spendin' da night t'gether."
"Ugh." He chuckled to himself until he felt the brush of her fingertips – ungloved – against his neck. He breathed in, and was unconscious by the time he breathed out.
Somewhere inside her, Remy looked at Remy and sighed. "Well dat's just great. Knock me out."
"Ah was tired o' listenin' ta prattle."
"Shut up. This is my mind, my rules, an' my rules say, Remy LeBeau has got ta be quiet."
"Hey, I was invited!"
"It wasn't an invitation. It was a reaction."
"So, what? Y' just couldn't keep your hands off me? I understand."
"Ya know what? Ya wanna talk? Go talk ta someone else."
"Because I have so many options, in here."
"Ah'll have ya know, my mind is a crowded intersection. Ah don't know where everyone goes, when they're not chatterin' around me, but it's somewhere, so why don't ya go find them and be all flirty-cute-charmin'-loser-pants ta someone else."
"Cute? I knew it!"
"Can Ah use your powers ta blow up my own head? 'Cause that's lookin' like a good option right about now."
"Figures. Useless Cajun."
"If you don't like me so much, how come you still around. Get up an' go – y' know I can't follow."
"Ah also know it's winter an' snowy an' we've been lucky, so far, that it hasn't been so bad. If Ah leave, what's gonna happen? He could die. Not in the, please-go-die-now way Ah think when he gives me that stupid goofy grin, but in the very real, very serious, no longer living in this world sense."
"He is – that is, I am – a survivor, Chere."
"He is an idiot. Thinks he's so great, so damn fantastic, always talkin' like he owns the world an' might make it a present, if Ah only express an interest. Ah know that game. Ah know guys like Remy LeBeau. An' mostly? Ah know Ah don't need it in my life. Ah just wanna get rescued an' get home."
"...He – I – like you, too."
"Ta be frank, Ah'm disappointed." They'd changed positions, Remy found, as he emerged from his forced slumber. For the better, though: she'd moved them closer, so that his head was in her lap and corners of her coat warmed them both. And – it was snowing, light flakes that cooled his skin where they touched. "Never met a man with such little stamina. Ah almost feel bad for ya."
"What!" Then, calmer, he added, "I didn't know y' had occasion t' test m' stamina, Chere."
"The wonders o' extrapolation." She held up three slender, gloved fingers. "This is how many times you've passed out on me, Remy LeBeau. In a more intimate context, that would be downright humiliatin'."
"Hey, now, Rogue. You touched me!"
"Ah'll be sure it doesn't happen again," she declared, and he had the sudden feeling of being a knock-kneed geeky boy with bottle cap glasses and a pocket protector, shying away from a feminine touch.
"Dat's not what I meant."
"Touch me all y' want!" He offered. "Wherever da lady pleases. Please."
"Nice recovery," she exclaimed.
"Is dat sarcasm?"
"Is that insecurity?" She laughed and he stuck out tongue, mostly because it almost seemed like she was right. Remy LeBeau didn't get insecure – ha!. But nevertheless, he'd lost his footing this round, and couldn't regain it. Damn it. He could do it, he had just to focus.
"Maybe," he said, just a second too late, "Da lady could give it back. Make a man o' me."
She just smiled and said softly, "Sugah, it'd take more n' a night."
He coughed. Glared. "Who da hell are you? All dis suggestive talk."
"Well, most folks know me by Rogue Darkholme, although-" When he frowned at her she laughed again and tapped the side of his head lightly. "Personality residue," she explained. "Ah've been gettin' in touch with my inner Remy."
"Couldn't y' get in touch wit' your outer Remy, first?"
"Ah gotta tell ya, there's lots o' things Ah could do that Ah won't be doin' in this acquaintance."
"Relationship," he corrected.
"Friendship," she specified.
"Friendship, friendship, just a perfect blendship," he sang softly.
"If they put a bullet in your brain, I'll complain."
They looked at each other and smiled, and Remy couldn't help but note that it was That Smile again, the one that she'd had before, near the tree, the one that made him realize he still had a lot to learn about Rogue. Then she leaned down, and he felt her hair tickle his face, and thought that maybe she was going to put him to sleep again – the nice way, when all of a sudden a flash shone through the woods and spotlighted them. She pulled back, and the smile slipped away.
"It's about time."
"Well!" There was a rustling of leaves and then the slight figure of Katherine Pryde came into his line of sight. She flushed. "You're not an easy girl to find. This is not an easy place to navigate through in the dark, you know. And it's cold! We heard that Gambit's power signature was nearby, and we didn't know what to think." She lifted an eyebrow at the sight of them. "Clearly, we needn't have been so very concerned."
"He's injured." Rogue said. "Ah think he broke er, several... stuff. Probably is on his way ta frostbite. Hasn't been complainin' much about that, though, o' the ice he's sittin' on, an' in case ya haven't noticed, it's damn cold, so that might also be a subject o' consideration."
There was a poof of smoke, and then Kurt Wagner was standing there, too. "Rogue!" He cried, touching a hand to her shoulder to ensure that she was all right. His bright eyes settled on Remy. "Gambit." He straightened his back and said, "I'll take him. Rogue, if you're in good health, Kitty can show you ze path. I'll notify Scott and Logan."
"Guess this is where we part ways," Rogue said quietly, and Remy could just barely hear.
"We'll always have Bayville." He winked at her, and then Kurt's hand fell on his shoulder and then he vanished.
He wasn't there to see her give a small sigh and all but giggle when Kitty rolled her eyes and said, "Geez, Rogue. Am I invited to the wedding?"
I am alive, and sticking (sort of) to the new schedule I have put up on my Author's Page. In addition, I do lots of other things (even write a little shortfic) on my livejournal, which is linked to my page. I love hearing from everyone, so please (with a Remy on top) review! And once you're gone, go tell Alara to update, too.
Random notes: The whole 'friendship/blendship/bullet thing is actually lyrics from a song by Cole Porter. There are several other-fandom references included, including Spider-man's upside down kiss, the blatant Heroes mention, and I think something else I might have forgotten (it's getting late).
Wait! I want to get ahold of you, Eileen and send you something like questions! Or comments! Or better yet, coconuts! Where do I go! (you ask) Your options (should you chose to accept them): Again, my journal. The little review button, begging to be pressed. Or, alternatively, you may email me at Eileenblzr (at) yahoo (dot) com, or IM me on yahoo, with the same ID.