Author's Note: This is my first venture into the X-men: Evolution world, so feedback would be wonderful. Like, amazingly wonderful. This fic is based on the short story "Rappaccini's Daughter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne, mostly because the main character, Beatrice, reminds me so much of Rogue. The lines from "Rappaccini's Daughter" are in italics. Please review!!!
"Signora," said he, "there are pure and healthful flowers. Wear them for the sake of Giovanni Guasconti!"
"Thanks, Signor," replied Beatrice, with her rich voice that came forth as if were like a gush of music; and with a mirthful expression half childish and half woman-like. "I accept your gift, and would fain recompense it with this precious purple flower; but if I toss it into the air, it will not reach you. So Signor Guasconti must even content himself with my thanks."
She lifted the bouquet from the ground, and then as if inwardly ashamed at having stepped aside her maidenly reserve to respond to a stranger's greeting, passed swiftly homeward through the garden. But, few as the moments were, it seemed to Giovanni when she was on the point of vanishing beneath the sculptured portal, that his beautiful bouquet was already beginning to wither in her grasp…
"Rogue? What are you doing?" Kitty asked as she stood standing in the door way of their shared bedroom, her hands on her hips.
"Ah'm readin'," Rogue replied, not bothering to raise her eyes from the tattered paperback in her grasp. It was a change from her typical gothic romances. Instead, it was a book of the short stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
"Hawthorne? Is that, like, for school?" Kitty questioned, knowing that it was a far cry from her usual reading material.
"Yeah, it is. Can Ah finish it now?" Normally, she would try to avoid pissing off the person she had to share a room with, but she really wasn't in a mood to be disturbed right now.
"Some of us were going to go to the mall—"
"Ah just wanna read mah book, if that's alright with ya." She didn't mean for her tone to be quite as harsh as it was, and she immediately regretted it when she saw the hurt look on her friend's face.
"Can I at least know what story I'm getting blown off for?"
"Right. Well, enjoy," Kitty said as she left the room.
The reading was for school, and while she didn't set out with the intention of liking it—she didn't really like Hawthorne that much, he was too puritanical—she couldn't stop reading despite herself. There were so many teachers who had always told her that it was just a matter of "finding the story that you can really connect to," and for the first time, she found herself actually understanding.
It was everything that she had ever felt, embodied in words and put on a page. It was like reading some of her own thoughts. Beatrice was Rogue: a poisonous young woman, incapable of touching a living creature. Skin was deadly. Yes, for the first time, Rogue knew exactly what the character was feeling. The intense loneliness, the want for love…love that Beatrice found with Giovanni. Rogue had yet to find anything like that—
"Rogue, what 'y doin' inside on a day like 'dis?" a voice asked. She didn't need to look up to know that Remy LeBeau, resident thief, was perched on her window sill. Finally giving up on her book, she set it on her bedside table so that she could better devote time to warding off the advances that she knew were coming. Not to mention, her concentration was completely shot now.
"Ah'm tryin' ta read," she answered, her southern drawl getting stronger as she got more annoyed.
"Ever'body's outside playin'. 'Y not' gon' join 'em?"
"In case ya haven't noticed, swamp rat, it's kinda hard to play a game when ya gotta cover up from head ta toe. Too hot for that."
"'Y could still be outside wid' da rest o' us."
"Ya weren't playin' anyway."
"Remy would play wid' 'y."
"Yeah, fo' all o' fahve seconds until ya fell ta tha floor dead."
"Only 'n convulsions, chere."
"Not funny. Ah could kill ya. Ah don't think ya got that through yo' thick skull," Rogue shot back, crossing her arms in front of her defensively. Remy stood and walked with catlike grace to where she was sitting on the bed. Without asking her permission, he perched on the end of her bed, studying her intently with those gorgeous red-on-black eyes.
"Don't call meh that."
"Y're workin' ta control it." He began to crawl up the bed towards her, and she inched away until her back was to the wall. He continued to move closer, until finally, she rested a gloved hand against his chest and stopped him.
"Ah'm not makin' much prahgress, and ya know it," she said. Her tone was strange. Something that was a mixture of shame and guilt, and definitely something that Remy didn't like to hear in his Rogue's voice. It didn't suit her at all. Rebellion, sarcasm…those suited her, but not this strange combination that he was hearing now. He pulled away to study her more closely. Shame was written all over her face, and he didn't like it one bit.
"Don' sound lahke 'dat."
"How am Ah supposed ta sound, Remy? Ah'm not really overjoyed about' it."
"'Y shouldn' be 'shamed, chere. Dere's not'in' 'y could do 'bout it."
"That's the problem! Ah should be able ta do somethin' 'bout it. Ah'm gonna spend the rest of mah life lahke Beatrice—"
"Who?" Remy asked.
"Beatrice. She's tha girl in the story Ah gotta read fo' school. She's poisonous to anythan' and everythan' she touches…lahke meh."
"'Y not poisonous. Don't evah say 'dat," Remy said vehemently. He gripped her shoulders and moved closer, so that their noses were centimeters apart. "'Dere ain't not'in' wrong wid 'y. Understand?"
"People are supposed ta be able ta touch other people. Ah cain't. Ah'd say that's a problem. Now, can Ah puh-lease finish mah story?"
"What 'y readin', chere?" he asked, picking up the book before she could stop him.
"Rappaccini's Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It's fo' mah English class. Ah don't expect ya to understand. Now can Ah have mah book, please, swamp rat?"
She saw the hurt in his eyes the minute the words were out of her mouth, and of course she immediately regretted them. He was the one person who wasn't afraid to approach her when she was in self-imposed solitude. After all, being a professional thief, he was definitely used to spending time alone. He knew what it was to be a lone wolf, and she was pushing him away with every word that came out of her mouth. Before she could correct her harsh words, he was gone.
Too upset to finish the story that had caused so much trouble for her, she lay down on her bed and went to sleep.
At dinner, Remy noticed that Rogue quiet—more quiet than usual—and prickly, too. Her makeup was smeared, her hair was a mess, and her eyes were red and bloodshot. Logan had asked her several times if she was alright, and she simply responded with a silent nod. Kitty and Kurt got the same response for their efforts. Remy tried as well, but just got a death glare from the goth.
Now, Remy LeBeau had never had a formal education, but he had plenty common sense, and that common sense was telling him that her foul mood had something to do with that damn story she had been reading. According to Kitty, it was Hawthorne, after all, and that meant that it couldn't possibly have a happy ending. After dinner, he tried to catch up with Rogue, but she just shrugged him off.
"Chere, 'y wanna tell Remy what's wrong—"
"Cain't say Ah do," she had snapped, and disappeared around the corner. Since he and Kurt had dishwashing duty, he had lost her. As soon as dinner was done, he began to search the mansion high and low, looking for her. He expected to find her in one of two places: her bedroom (duh), or the library. When she wasn't in either place, a twinge of true worry began to take root in his mind.
He ran into Kitty in the hallway outside the library. "Have 'y seen Rogue?" he asked.
"Not, like, since dinner. She's probably in our room."
"Remy already checked 'dere."
"Oh…I don't know, then. She'll turn up," Kitty answered, and bounced away to catch up with Kurt, who was starting a movie in the living room. Remy headed back to the kitchen, hoping to run into Logan. Logan might not have liked him very much, but he did care for Rogue, and Remy was hoping that meant he would help find her.
"What do you need, gumbo?" Logan asked the minute Remy set foot in the kitchen.
"Do 'y know where Rogue went?" he asked, unable to keep the concern out of his voice. "She's not in 'de library o' her room."
"Haven't seen her. Ask the Professor."
With an exasperated sigh, Remy set out to find Professor X. Luckily, he was much easier to find than Rogue. He was sitting exactly where Remy would expect to find him: in his office, sitting peacefully behind his desk. He didn't bother to look up when Remy entered the room, probably because he already knew that Remy was coming. It was one of the many advantages of being a telepath.
"Remy can't find Rogue," the thief said bluntly. Of course, he probably didn't actually need to explain the situation. The Professor knew everything that went on his school, though he would rarely ever let on that he did.
"Perhaps she doesn't want to be found," Professor X answered calmly.
"You shouldn't be. She is fine. She just doesn't want to be found just yet. When she wants you to find her, she will. Now, why don't you tell me what this is all about?"
"A dam—uh…a book she was readin'."
"Somebody's daughter o' somethin'."
"Ah, yes, Rappaccini's Daughter. We have a copy in our library, I do believe…perhaps if you knew the story, it would all make more sense," the Professor said. It was more than just a statement, of course. What the Professor was really saying was, "go find it and read it, and then you'll understand." With a single nod of thanks, Remy rose from his seat, and headed to the library.
There were hundreds of books in the library. Everything from leather-bound classics to old college textbooks to trashy romance novels. After several minutes of searching, Remy pulled an old, dusty book from the shelf that was simply labeled "The Short Fiction of Nathaniel Hawthorne." If the dust was any indication, it hadn't been read in quite some time, and if Kitty was right about how depressing Hawthorne was, Remy could totally understand why. But nonetheless, he found himself and chair and settled in to read the damn story that had upset his chere.
Immediately, he understood Rogue's connection with the story. The title character, Beatrice, was alone, isolated in a garden of plants that had made her poisonous. She literally was unable to touch another human being without killing them. Her very breath itself was enough to kill the insects flying around her head. She was a beautiful, mysterious young woman that wanted to love. Yes, that was his Rogue. Beautiful, mysterious, and deadly.
It wasn't until he read farther about Beatrice's love for Giovanni that all the pieces began to fall in to place for him. Beatrice had found a man that she loved more than anything else in this world, and was unable to physically be with him. They could talk and take walks all they wanted, but a single touch from her would kill him. But in spending so much time together in a garden of poisonous plants, Giovanni became tainted, too. His touch became deadly, and he was isolated from the rest of the world, just as Beatrice was.
Yes, he could see how this would upset Rogue. She was seeing the worst possible scenario for a relationship laid out right in front of her. Beatrice was the perfect representation of the Rogue he had come to know and love, and Giovanni was a bit like him. They were alone, isolated from society because of what they were. At least for Giovanni and Beatrice, there was relief in sight. An antidote for the poison…
An antidote that didn't work. The words describing Beatrice's fate stood out on the page. As poison had been life, so the powerful antidote was death. Taking the antidote had killed Beatrice. No wonder Rogue was upset. In his anger at the story, he unthinkingly ripped the final page of the story out of the book and tucked it into his pocket, before heading to look for her again, cursing Nathaniel Hawthorne—an old dead guy that he had never heard of before today—all the way.
He searched the mansion high and low, and still was unable to find her. Kitty an Kurt had all joined in the effort, and had they all had little success. Remembering the Professor's words, Remy went back to his room to gather his thoughts before re-embarking on another search of the grounds. As he pushed open the door, he was completely floored to find Rogue curled in a ball, lying on her side on his bed. He quickly shut the door behind him and ran to her side.
He could tell that she had been crying; her face was blotchy and tearstained, her eyes bloodshot. Any remnants of makeup that she had at dinner were long gone. The tip of her nose was red as she if she had wiped it one too many times. Carefully, not wanting to upset her even more, he sat on the bed beside her. He wanted more than anything to take her into his arms and hold her, but he didn't want to overwhelm her.
"Chere, 'y wanna tell Remy what's wrong?" he asked, repeating his question from earlier in the evening. This time, instead of a glare, she turned to face him and stared up at him with her big, emerald eyes.
"She died, Remy. Beatrice died," she said, her voice completely devoid of any emotion.
"It's just a story, chere. It don' mattah in real lahfe," he answered.
"She was meh on a page, and she died. What if that's meh, Remy? What if Ah die tryin' ta control it?"
All caution thrown to the wind, Remy reached out and pulled her against him. She needed the comfort of another human body, and he was going to give it to her. She needed to know that she wasn't alone.
"Rogue, 'y not gon' die tryin' ta control y're powers. 'Y stronger 'dan dat girl in de book. 'Y're Rogue, an X-man. 'Y got Kitty an' Kurt an' Logan…an' Remy."
She pressed herself closer to him, and he began to rub comforting circles on her back. The tears that she had been trying to hold back since the minute he walked in the room fell over, and she began to sob. Every thought and fear that she had seemed to come pouring out of her mouth.
"Ah'm Beatrice, Remy. Ah destroy everythan' I touch, an' Ah can't control it, an' Ah should be able ta, 'an Ah'm afraid Ah might hurt ya, 'an Ah can't do that. Ah can't hurt ya, 'cause ya're the only one that understands. But Ah did just what Beatrice did. Ah isolate ya from everyone else, so that ya're stuck in tha dark with meh, an' Ah should let ya go so that ya can actually have someone that can touch ya. But Ah'm selfish an' weak an' Ah love ya an' Ah love that ya're not scared o' meh…"
Throughout the whole messy, sobbing confession, Remy continued to hold her and stroke her back comfortingly. In her hysterics, she fisted her hands in the front of his shirt and buried her face in his chest. Remy was unsure how long they went on like this. Time seemed to move differently when he was holding the woman he loved. Her pain made it seem like hours, but the very fact that she was there, in his arms…there would never be enough time for that.
When she finally stopped crying, she let go of his shirt and wiped at her face before laying down. He lie down dangerously close beside her, so that their noses were almost touching. Gradually, her breathing began to slow and she calmed down.
"Ah'm sorry for tha' outburst—"
"Non, chere. Don' say that. Remy t'inks you need to know somethin'."
"Yeah? What's that?" she asked.
"'Dis ain't a book. 'Dis is lahfe, an' 'y ain't Beatrice. 'Y definitely didn' take Remy away from ever'body. Remy would rather be in 'de dark with 'y 'dan anywhere else. Remy loves 'y. Got 'dat, chere?"
She nodded as a faint smile crept on to her face. Almost of their own accord, her gloved hands came to cup his face. She ran her fingers over his high cheekbones and across his strong, stubbly jaw line. Eventually, they tangled in his hair as she came even closer to him. Thinking quickly, Remy grabbed the first thing that he came to in his pocket, slid it between them, and pressed his lips to hers. It was a chaste kiss, but it was a kiss nonetheless, and that was what mattered. She had trusted him—and herself—enough to let him close enough for a kiss. As she pulled away she stared at him, and the barrier than been between them.
"Ya kissed meh with a…what is that?" Rogue asked curiously. Remy studied the paper and realized that it was the page he had torn out of the book. Rogue took the paper and flipped on the bedside light to study it. "Ya pulled a page outta tha book?"
"Yeah…Guess 'dat Hawthorne guy is good fo' somethin' after all."
And with that, he pressed the page to her lips and kissed her once again.
Author's Note: So, there you have it. Please let me know what you think so that I can fix issues, know what to improve on for the next one, that sort of thing. I hope you enjoyed!!