Disclaimer: Don't own them!
Chapter 1: Things change.
"I didn't b'lieve it when dey first told me. Or instead, didn't want t' b'lieve it. It was so unlike y', chere, so different from de Rogue I met an' fell in love with.
Dey said dey've seen y' 'bout two or three times in the last couple years, when they came an' tried t' take y' with dem. But sure stubborn Rogue would never accept she needs help. Mais, don't worry; it's never bee any easier for me either. Y' remember dat, don't y'?
Dey said y' do nothin' but wanderin' around, dat y' pretty much live in bars, dat y' won't stop drinkin', dat y're in plain trouble. Ma belle cherie, de only person I've ever cared 'bout in my entire life, with rings under her eyes an' scars in her forearms? Goin' through all of dis, an' I swear I don't understand why. Why, chere? Did y' forget 'bout y'self...?"
Remy slowed down his car, looking out the window and up to the line of old grey buildings. It had to be around here.
Now that he was maybe only a few minutes from seeing her again, his heart felt so heavy it almost ached. How could he spend all this time away from her? He always tried to pretend he had moved on, and that she was just a nice memory from a part of his life when things seemed right. In spite of the fact that he never even held her hands without gloves, and there was always a thin fabric between their lips in the very few times they had kissed, he wished he could bring back those days when they spent so much time together, back at the mansion, when he was an X-Man. True, there were hard times too, but…
"But." Remy sighed, parking in front of a building, whose colour wasn't easy to define.
All the reasons he used to give himself now seemed completely absurd and stupid. Why did he wait so long? Why did he ever leave, to begin with?
Right after crossing the entrance door, he found himself in a small lobby with ochre walls; it was so gloomy it seemed it was night time already. He was about to take the first hallway that led to the apartments' doors when suddenly, someone appeared out of the closest door to him.
"What you looking for?" asked the old man dressed in overalls. The man didn't once look at Remy directly. He was more focused on pouring some washing liquid on the floor from an old rusty can.
"Bon soir," he inquired. "I'm lookin' for a girl named Rogue. Y' know her?"
"Rogue?" the man frowned and picked up his sponge to scrub the floor: "Never heard of someone with such name."
"Oui, she's…" He thought for a moment. How did she look now after so long? "She's got green eyes, auburn hair wit' some white strands…" He simply voiced how he remembered her.
"Oh! Yeah," the man caught up. "Yeah, that girl." He gave Remy a questioning look. "And you are…?"
He wasn't too sure anymore of who he was, because time had stopped for him ever since he decided to forget about her. "De name's Remy," he said, trying to give as little detail as possible. "I'm friends wit' her."
"Sure you are," the old man said, beaming. There seemed to be a bit of suspicion in his voice. "I hope you're here to pay the rent, buddy." The man hesitated for a moment but then gave in: "Second floor, fifth door to the left."
"Merci." He had turned his back to the janitor already to run to the apartment, when he heard his voice again.
"She's not in there right now."
This was kind of a relief on Remy's part; it would give him some extra time to think about what he was going to say.
"Don't y' know when she comin' back?"
"No, sir," said the janitor. He seemed uninterested in Remy's dilemma.
"What time she leave?"
The man added a little more soap on a specific dirty spot: "Saw her leaving last night, but she hasn't returned since then."
With this information, he resumed his walk to the apartment. The hall was so narrow three people wouldn't have been able to walk through it side by side at the same time. There was very little illumination, and the only light that filtered in came from a dusty glass window at the very bottom. Remy looked out of it, but he could only see an alley and another building just as drab as this one.
Instinctively, he pulled out a deck of cards but just as everything else did, it reminded him of her. He remembered that time they went to sleep at 6 in the morning, after spending the whole night playing poker, teasing each other and pigging out on potato chips in the kitchen of the mansion. Was that Rogue the same one that now lived in this murky place?
One or two people passed him in the hallway, and two or three came in or out of other apartments. Not one person even acknowledged his presence. Almost an hour had already gone by. That's when he noticed a familiar figure emerge from the stairs.
He couldn't move or say anything at the beginning. He just stared at her as she walked like in slow motion towards her door. He had imagined this moment so many times, and the more he thought about it the clearer he could see her in his mind. Now she was right here, but not the way he pictured her. Her once loose hair was now held up with a hairpin.
She hadn't noticed him standing there at first. She was too preoccupied with a bag of groceries on one arm and her purse on the other. She was now standing by the door rummaging through her bag with her free hand until she finally found the key.
Rogue froze. He could feel in the air, in the space in between them, a whole bunch of memories hitting her at once; memories they shared together from so long ago. She abruptly turned to see him, and their eyes met. It was like an internal shock for him. Her eyes, that's all he could see. They were still the same, but… different. There was a different kind of sadness in them now, and her face looked so pale without make-up.
"Wow, this is… unexpected," she huffed, while turning back to the door and twisting the key in the lock, but not without a little effort: "To what do ah owe the pleasure?" Her voice was hostile, but he expected that.
Remy could always read people very well and her, even more so. If she was to start it up with that little old sarcasm, he wouldn't do less but not because he wanted to. It'd just help him get closer to her, or so he thought.
"Dunno," he said, trying to answer her question. "Christmas, mebbe?"
"Oh, ain't that sweet?" She finally pushed the door open and smiled awkwardly. "Happy holidays then, an' good bye."
"Wait," Remy said and held onto the door before she was able to slam it closed. God, he hadn't been so close from her in ages. He had almost forgotten the way her presence intoxicated him. "Can we talk?"
"We're talkin' now," she shot at him.
"Bien. Can I come in?"
She refused to look at him.
"Nah," she said, trying to close the door again, but he wouldn't let her.
"Chere, please," he pleaded, and she finally looked into his eyes. "Just give me a few minutes. Or y're too busy?" he gazed over her shoulder at her small living room.
Rogue stared at him for an instant and waved away from her face some white strands. "What do yah want, Remy?" She seemed so tired when saying this.
What did he really want? He just wanted to know that everything they said about her wasn't true.
"Just t' talk," he said. He hesitated for a moment and then added, "For now."
"If ah let yah in yah won't wanna leave, an' ah have to go out in 'bout… ah don't know, ten minutes."
"Ten minutes, den," he said. He could tell she was trying to make up an excuse to get rid of him, but he wasn't going to let her.
She narrowed her eyes and scrutinized him. She could find no way out of it, so she relented and let him in.
He followed her in and closed the door behind him. It wasn't just the living room that surprised him. This was actually the whole apartment, a single room and a door on a side that probably led to the bathroom. The bedcover was green which was the only splash of color in the room. Besides that, everything else was made of wood, white or gray.
"Make yahself comfortable," she said, not looking at him, while placing the bag on a table next to three or four glasses and cans. He saw her taking her scarf off as he sat on the coach. Either she was a great actress, or she didn't really give a damn about his presence.
This place didn't look like her at all. He wondered where all the books she used to have back at the mansion were. There were no pictures either, and it didn't smell like lilies and flowers, or whatever delicious thing she used to smell like. There were only a few magazines lying on the floor in a corner, and an ashtray was the only decoration on the little table in front of him.
"So…" she sighed, sitting next to him and lighting on a cigarette at the same time. "How's the weather today?"
"Y' smoke now." he asked, surprised. "Y' used t' say dose t'ings would kill me."
"Yeah…" she breathed in. "But they haven't so far, have they? So they can't be that bad. Besides… things change."
"How much, Rogue? How much dey've changed?"
She looked away now, exhaling some smoke. "What yah mean?"
"Dunno, cherie, y' tell me," he said, but she still refused to look at him. She only did this when she was trying to hide her feelings, not that she could hide anything from him anyway. "What y've been doin' lately? Y're workin'… what're y'…?"
"If yah came to play the cop an' interrogate me, please, ah've seen it enough with the others."
"Really?" was all he could say. He was dying to ask her why she left the Institute, and why she didn't come back as soon as possible. But he knew that if he did he'd be kicked out of the place in a second. He had to give it some time first. "So… y' said y' had to go out. Where to? Can I join y'?"
She laughed, leaning back on the couch.
"Nah, yah can't," she put out her cigarette and immediately took another one out of the pack and lit it. "An' why don't yah let me ask the questions, just for a change, huh?"
"D'accord," he said, trying to comply with her wishes. There was nothing but plain sadness in her eyes. He felt it too. "I've missed that. Haven't y'?"
Rogue pretended she didn't hear that, just leaning her neck back and staring at the smoke that made circles up to the ceiling.
"Just outta curiosity, not like ah care or anythin', but what have yah been doin', besides pick pocketin', of course?"
That was when he could name and point out one of the differences in her. She was just speaking her mind, not worrying about what he would think about her question. Was this a good thing or a bad thing? He wasn't sure. Whatever the case, he would overlook let the resentment in the question.
"I'm back with the guild, I do some jobs for the family, stuff like dat. Been out of the mutant hero business for a while already."
"Hm?" No more savin' the day stuff, eh? Ah know. It gets kinda old after a while. An'…ahh… yah married, or what?"
"Moi?! Y' serious?" It was so weird the way she asked this: the same way you ask it to an old friend. But he thought he wasn't just a friend, was he?
"Hey, things change."
"Not dat much," he said, his voice turning caring again. "Remy still a free man."
"Great," she pronounced this word slowly, making emphasis on each letter. "Good for yah." There was her indifference again. He didn't know what to make of it or of her.
There was a sound coming from the kitchen area: water drops tapping in the sink from time to time. It was the only thing that could be heard for a few moments.
"Y' done?" Remy asked, breaking the silence: "Can I start with my questions now?"
"Nah," she said, placing another cigarette in the ashtray: "An' yah better leave now. This is way too much sappiness for one day."
"But I just got here, chere," he said, a pleading look in his eye. "What… why y' so scared to remember de past?"
She fixated her eyes on his. What if she was? Her mood changed from indifference to angriness. "Get out."
She walked to the door and opened it, standing besides it with her arms crossed over her chest. There was a little bit of that old Rogue's annoyed expression.
"Fine," he said and stood right in front of her: "But don't think y' got rid of me dat easy."
"Nah?" she remarked, obviously growing angrier. "Ah remember ah did that once." He didn't move, just stood there and scanned her face. "Go away!" she screamed and pushed him out and closed the door.
As Remy went down the stairs, he reran the whole conversation in his mind again, every word of it. It was not what he had expected. Part of him wasn't sure if this was Rogue, or if this woman was just a shadow of the person he once knew.
Note: Ok first of all I gotta say some BIG thanks to my beta, SPARK187; so if you think my English is better here, thank her, not me. I've been having a really nasty writer's block lately with my other two fics, but somehow my mind gave birth to this new idea, and I think I'm gonna be able to put the three chapters together soon. The idea came because of a song named "Laura" by a guy named Ricardo Arjona; have you heard it, Pennylane87? ;-) His songs are really amazing. Btw: I don't mean to say a girl's life would go to hell without a guy; I just wanted to portray a possibility of the things that could happen to Rogue. You know how much we like to mess her up.