An Ever Fixed Mark – by Darlin

Disclaimer – No profit is made, no ownership claimed, just playing with Marvels creations.

A/N – My first OreO. Expect not a whit of Rogue bashing because why should there be? And, well she's a favorite character of mine.

Chapter One –Till the End

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark

~ Shakespeare Sonnet # 116

-xox-

If a woman could fall in love with a man's voice Ororo Munroe would've been utterly smitten with Remy LeBeau. But Ororo was sure she was made of sterner stuff. Besides they were more like brother and sister. Nevertheless, the rogue owned her heart. Until he proved he didn't deserve her trust and love she would forever stand by him.

He was laughing now, his eyes fairly glowing. The way his smile quirked up to the right more so than the left, the dimple in the right cheek, the crinkles at the corners of his eyes, such simple things always made her heart speed up. It was times like this that she wasn't quite as sure she could resist him and so it was best to ignore him. Only Remy didn't like being ignored by Ororo.

"Playin' in de dirt," he observed as he watched her digging in her garden. His voice, deep and languid, sent shivers down her spine but she was determined to ignore him. He squatted down and plucked a flower, took in its pungent odor then handed it to her.

"Beauty deserves beauty," he said in that rich, mellifluous voice of his.

Ororo took the flower with only a glance at her friend. She took in its unpleasant scent just as he had and smiled because she couldn't help herself. Despite years of being friends she was still susceptible to his charm though she told herself she would deny it till her dying day.

Remy leaned back against a tree, hands stuffed in his pockets so he wouldn't be tempted to light up a cigarette because he knew how much she hated that he still hadn't stopped smoking. He watched in silence as she slowly plucked each petal from the flower before tossing the empty stem into her basket of weeds. He wondered if she was playing the old "he loves me, he loves me not" game and if so who was the man of her dreams?

She concentrated on her weeding. The earth was rich and muddy from frequent spring showers and her gloves were covered in mud.

"Come on, let's do somethin'," he said.

"I already am."

"It can wait."

"Perhaps, but I've nothing more important to do right now."

Remy balked. "Bonjour, Stormy! You got company here! Remember me, Stormy?"

Ororo grit her teeth and ignored him because she couldn't count the many times she'd told him not to call her that.

"Let's go fishin' or maybe hikin' chère," he persisted and when she continued to ignore him he took a different route. He wet his lips with his tongue briefly and started whistling. When she still didn't say anything he plucked up a watering can near the tree and started sprinkling water liberally over the flowers.

"Remy, don't the leaves, you must water the roots! Besides that's far too much!"

"Jus' makin' mud pies," he said.

"Well, stop it or go away," she said, harsher than she'd intended.

She had a flash of memory, saw herself young, lost, a little too arrogant, not sure who or what she was; saw Remy, sure, confident, more charming than any mortal man should be, trying his best to take care of her. The things he'd tried to do for her, once even getting her a doll – she'd hated it, hated dolls – and the mud pies he'd tried to get her to make, trying to make light of her lack of control over her powers after one of her freak rainstorms. She'd been so young and inexperienced back then, not quite child but not a woman either. To her it had all been absurd, childish stuff but he had tried so hard. She'd secretly loved him for that. She shook her head in defeat then laughed.

Her unexpected laughter made him laugh in turn.

"You're determined to bother me today I see," she said.

"I'm bored."

Ororo suppressed a sigh. A bored Remy meant she'd get no work done.

"It's a beautiful day, let's play," he teased her.

"After I finish."

"Ah, come on, Stormy."

"I will give you only one warning, Remy . . ."

"Always de spitfire."

"Most probably hereditary. All women are annoyed with little boys pretending to be men."

"Ah, Remy see. And here I thought by hereditary you were reminiscing about your mère."

Ororo's expression immediately changed. Where once anger and humor had flashed over her face at different intervals now there was nothing but the slightly stern expression she always wore when she was hiding her true feelings.

"Your mother must've been somethin' else, chère, like you," Remy said, his voice so seductive it sounded as if he were almost purring.

"She was. You would have liked her, Remy, and she you." She smiled wistfully.

Remy had a way of changing her moods so fast she sometimes couldn't keep up. Finally conceding defeat she sat down on the warm grass stretching her legs out so her bare toes tickled the grass. It was a natural thing for Remy to join her. He sat with his back pressed to hers, leaning his head backwards just a little so that his dark auburn locks mingled with her silvery white strands. She tilted her own head back, enjoying the contact. She heard his sigh of contentment just as her chest rose and sank with a satisfied sigh. There was such an easy going peace between the two even when he teased her. And sometimes just sitting together beneath the open sky, their legs outstretched on the sweet smelling grass, this was all they needed to find a sorely needed respite in their often chaotic lives.

"We really should go fishin' chère it would be fun after all dis time," he said, his fingers busy running through a patch of clover.

"I hate fishing."

"You used to love it."

"Used to when I was younger. Different time, different person, besides there's too much to be done in my garden."

"What? Make more mud pies?"

"You're not going to give up I see but I'm stronger, Remy LeBeau and I am not going fishing."

"You'd have fun."

"I would not."

"You would."

"I would not – rather, make that 'will not' because I am not going fishing."

"You'd have fun if you'd only let yourself."

"I'm not going to argue, let it alone."

"You used to have fun."

"Remy, I hate fishing all right?"

"No, you don't."

"I find it boring."

"Tasty though, non?"

"I'm not partial to fish and you know it."

"Still it's best when fresh an' even better when caught yourself."

She sighed, not interested in pursuing the pointless conversation. He felt her shoulders heave slightly, heard the small huff of frustration, but didn't let it deter him.

"See, Stormy de t'ing wid you is you don't know how ta have fun."

"Oh, please, Remy! Fun by your standards is not fun to me. I am not a little girl any more. Making mud pies and going fishing is not something I want to do as an adult."

Feeling frustrated she stood up and Remy purposely fell back onto the grass. He laid there looking up at the sky. It was a light, clear blue, lighter than her eyes which always reminded him of sparkling sapphires. He could never forget those eyes. He remembered how they would fill with unshed tears of anger that always accompanied that defiant look whenever she'd differed with his decisions so, so long ago back when she was a young little thing. He was sure that same look, sans teary eyes, was even now vivid on her pretty face even though older Ororo didn't wear her emotions on her sleeve as easily younger Ororo had.

"Non, you not a kid anymore," he murmured.

She thought she caught a hint of regret in his voice and she reluctantly took a peek at him. As if he knew she was looking at him his long lashes fluttered slightly before he shut his eyes tight. His lips pressed together in a hard straight line. Was he angry with her? He was so hard to read sometimes.

"We all have to grow up sometime," she said and went back to her weeding.

Later, when she was finished with her gardening she glanced at Remy. His eyes were still closed, his lips parted, his breathing heavy. He was sound asleep. She smiled feeling the tenderness she always felt for him overtake her. In sleep men often look like little boys but Remy looked more like a Greek god, sculpted to perfection. She scooted closer to him, hovered over him a moment, fought the urge to kiss his cheek. Instead, she got up and stood watching him sleep finding contentment in the innocent yet voyeuristic act.

A crow cawed from somewhere in the distance. She looked for it; saw it strutting along near the terrace flapping its wings then pecking at something on the flagstones. It had most likely found one remaining crumb of Rogue's left over morning toast for that was her habit to toss it out for the birds. Ororo swatted a gnat away, the move angrier than warranted. She'd begun to dislike thinking about Rogue. Remy wouldn't be outside with her now if he and Rogue weren't involved in another disagreement. She didn't mind Remy being there, even pestering her, but she did mind that he acted so aimlessly when Rogue refused to speak to him.

So often she wanted to shake Rogue, make her come to her senses. It pained her that Rogue could get Remy so off centered, like a little boy not yet sure about girls. That wasn't Remy, not the Remy she knew. When he and Rogue were angry with each other Ororo wanted to shake Remy too, make him snap out of it, come to his senses and then she wanted to hold him tight until his heart mended. She hated feeling so deeply because she could do nothing for either of them. Worse, her intense emotions threw her equilibrium off forcing her to work harder on controlling her feelings in order to keep the atmosphere free of disruptive weather. But today she forced herself to let all thoughts of Remy and Rogue go.

She surveyed the mansion, saw no signs of life, then sat down beside Remy fully intending to take a nap alongside him. And why not? A nap would do her good. She stretched out close to him, covered her eyes with one arm and allowed a contented even wicked smile to slowly spread as she closed her eyes. But it wasn't meant to be. Her nearness woke Remy with a start and then she cried out as he pulled her on top of him. He flashed a wicked, heart stopping smile which caught her off guard and sent shivers through her body and as if he knew it would, expected it even, he pinned her beneath him with a grin more wicked than Ororo could ever manage.

"You!" she laughed.

"I like to hear you laugh, chère," he said, his velvet voice deeper than usual, husky from sleep.

"Someone might be watching, Remy," Ororo warned.

"Someone might be at dat."

"Remy . . ."

"What?" His grin faded. Her clear blue eyes, once full of fun, were now full of something he'd never expected to see. And as if mesmerized by this new thing, this look of total vulnerability, his body sunk lower without conscious thought, his face drawing closer.

Ororo's lips parted as if she meant to speak but she didn't. She couldn't. His lips parted too but she saw he meant to kiss her. Their eyes closed as if in accord. They moved closer still, time suspended. But they didn't kiss. Their eyes opened almost at the same moment and they stared at each other as if they knew they'd gone too far. Still, neither moved away. They starred at each other, lips parted, breath coming unexpectedly fast. What might have happened they would not know for Logan was standing above them, arms akimbo and bristling with anger.

"What the hell're you two doing?" he demanded.

Ororo shoved Remy from her and scrambled up. Remy laid comfortably where he'd fallen, putting his arms behind his head and closed his eyes, saying in that indolent tone of his, "Remy jus' takin' a nap is all."

Logan glared daggers at Remy before taking Ororo by the arm and jerking her away. He didn't care that she stumbled in his haste and didn't let her go until they were on the terrace.

"Rogue could've seen you, 'Ro!" he hissed.

"Seen me what? Remy and I did nothing! Nothing at all!" she retorted angrily.

"You wouldn't be so pissed if that were true."

"I am not pissed as you so eloquently phrased it," Ororo said, lowering her voice.

"What kind of game are you playin', 'Ro? You know better 'n most – Rogue can't handle anything like that."

"If you're implying Rogue and Remy are together then you should know that they're not but Remy and I did nothing we haven't done before. Nothing is any different between us," she said, refusing to think of how close they'd come to doing something she had a feeling they'd both later regret.

"That's just it," Logan snarled. "When Gambit came here it was like he owned you, like you were his an' nobody else had the right to be concerned about you. He still acts that way and you let him."

"He was protective because of the circumstances, you know that. I was a child when he met me."

"That was a long time ago, Ro. You grew up fast."

"We have a bond, Logan, one that has stood the test of time as well as betrayals. He is the dearest of friends and I will always be there for him as he'll always be there for me . . . unlike others," Ororo said giving him a disdainful look.

Logan snatched her arm, held it fast, fingers digging into flesh. "You play with fire you'll burn this whole damn place down, Storm. What you an' Remy are doing is dead wrong."

"We did nothing; I have already told you this. I will not say it again," she said and pulled her arm free.

"You two do 'nothing' all day every day an' I'm not the only one who sees it."

"You're mad to suggest such a thing!"

"Ain't crazy but I'm damn sure angry," he admitted. He caught his breath before exhaling deeply. "You can't play games with the Cajun, Ororo, not without gettin' hurt."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"You don't do you?" Logan said, studying her. "You think it's just a game, maybe like when you used to play with him when you were a kid but you ain't a kid now an' these aren't kiddie games, 'Roro so grow up."

"What're you talking about? Remy and I were partners, I was a child, nothing happened then any more than it did today!"

"I never said it did but seems ta me you're protesting a little too much fer nothin' ta have happened an' if you keep it up someone's gonna end up hurt. Rogue's your friend; she thinks you're her best friend."

Ororo fumed inwardly, angry at Logan for not understanding the unique relationship she had with Remy but also angry with herself for letting both men get to her. And she felt guilty which made her even angrier. But she straightened that tall body of hers and forced a calm façade then started towards the half opened French doors that led into the house. She stopped however when she saw Rogue watching her from just inside the doors.

"Ah don't care," Rogue said and she pulled the doors open so Ororo could enter.

Ororo paused on the threshold. "It is not like Logan has made it out to seem," she said, unable to stop herself from sounding defensive.

"Ah know it ain't, Ororo. Yer mah best friend. Ah know you would never try ta steal Remy from me even if we ain't t'gether right now."

Ororo turned and shut the doors. She didn't turn back to face Rogue but stood there looking out at Logan who was looking out over the lawn. She hoped he wasn't going to start something with Remy.

"Then you know me better than Logan," she murmured.

"He's just jealous is all. He likes you a whole lot, he just don't know how ta tell ya."

"I hardly believe that," Ororo said, still watching Logan.

As if sensing her eyes on him he turned and glanced at her before he went down the steps. She almost held her breath but no – he didn't even look at Remy, he turned to the left and headed to the garage. Remy, she saw, was still resting by the flower bed as unfazed as ever, splayed out on the grass probably asleep again.

"After all this time an' the way he acts around you, haven't' you figured it out?"

"What do you mean?" Ororo asked, spinning around.

"He loves you," Rogue said.

Ororo's heart leapt within her. Remy loved her?

"Ah think he has ever since we were in Australia," Rogue continued.

The unexpected elation that had soared within Ororo plummeted. Remy hadn't been with them in Australia. She'd misunderstood but it was obvious Rogue didn't understand her confusion and Ororo thought, she certainly didn't understand Logan either.

"Are you confusing me with Jean?" Ororo said, not able to hold back an angry scowl.

The women eyed each other. Rogue wasn't used to seeing Ororo flare with anger but she didn't back down. "Things change," she replied. "He loves Jeanie in a different way."

"I would be a fool to believe that," Ororo said and started to go but something stopped her.

Remy. She glanced at the motionless figure lying on the lawn and felt a rush of love for him but she also felt pity. He was so unhappy and she knew she should do what she could to help him so with some effort she reigned in her sour mood.

"Rogue, you should go and talk to Remy," she suggested, the words hard and bitter to say.

"Ah – ah don't think so, Ororo. Ah can't, not just now."

"Rogue, you have to trust him."

"You weren't so quick to trust him after – well, when he came back."

"You mean after you left him to fend for himself in Antarctica without shelter, without food, without transportation?" Ororo said, not able to hold back angry sarcasm. "Yes, perhaps I did doubt him when he returned but he appeared out of nowhere and was after the same object as Yukio and I, and I will not deny that I felt guilty for not trying to find him which clouded my judgment at the time. Still, I always hoped he would show himself to be the honorable man I've always known him to be and he did so, as you well know, Rogue. I should never have doubted him and neither should you."

"Ororo, ah told y'all he told me ta leave 'im!"

"I am sure you believe that and perhaps in his shame he did want you to abandon him, but even a heinous creature such as Sauron deserves a chance. We are not cold-blooded killers like Mystique, Rogue; the X-Men are made of finer stuff than that."

"Is that why you tried ta kill Callisto and Marrow, huh? You ain't as innocent as yer trying ta make out, 'Rroro."

Ororo's eyes widened but she quickly recovered from her surprise and said, "I did what I had to in order to save Warren's life. I did, as I always do, what I must for the X-Men. Marrow, fortunately, has two hearts. But what is done is done. I have made many mistakes as have you but I am not accusing you only asking you to start trusting Remy, that is all."

"Well, it sounds as if you are accusin' me, ridin' yer high horse as usual."

Staggered at Rogues retort Ororo's mouth fell open but then fury quickly overcame her.

"I have every right to be upset, Rogue. Because of me Remy joined the X-Men and because of that what happened in Antarctica was partly my fault. I trusted him just as I did you, as we all trusted you even against our better judgment when Charles allowed you to join us. We knew your crimes and forgave them as you proved yourself. Remy had long proven himself to us, especially to me. I do not claim to be innocent, Rogue; I have my own crimes and have to live with them each and every day just as you have to live with what you did to Remy every day."

"Ah didn't leave him ta die, Ororo ah just did what he wanted me to," Rogue said, all spite and confidence in her voice now gone. She looked wretched and felt worse. She had convinced herself for so long that it had been Remy who wanted her to leave him but the words sounded hollow and false when Ororo confronted her.

"He loves you, Rogue and I know you love him just try to work it out."

"It ain't that easy, Ororo. He slept with Mystique; she's the closest ah got ta a mother!"

"Mystique is a known liar; she was trying to discredit Remy. Why must you always believe the worse in him?"

Even though Mystique had given Remy the chance to sleep with her in the guise of Rogue's form Ororo would never believe he'd been so immoral as to have accepted such a proposition. She shook her head in exasperation. She'd done what she could, there was no reason to stay and argue.

Rogue watched her closest friend leave. "Oh, Ororo give me some time ta work things out. Don't steal him from me, he's all ah got," she whispered to the empty room.

-xox-

Long hours later, Ororo was still reeling from the mess of emotions tugging at her. Was Logan right? He was always so arrogant, so sure of himself and she trusted him implicitly. She was so sure Remy had meant to kiss her and she'd wanted him too. They'd shared kisses before and yes desire was there but neither of them would have thought to do anything more. Yet this time she'd wanted more and had wanted him to want her. Did he? For a second she'd been so sure he did. But of course they couldn't have gone down that road. Logan was right about that. And still, when she'd thought Rogue meant Remy loved her, the sheer joy Ororo had felt had been euphoric. Of course she knew Remy loved her just as she did him but in that little space of time Ororo had allowed herself to hope for more than platonic love. Wrong it might be but she didn't feel as appalled with herself as she should. Did Rogue have the right to trust her then? Ororo deemed her friend utterly pathetic in her mistrust of Remy but was she also not pathetic to have hoped for something more with Remy even for a millisecond?

No, she decided. It was an ordinary reaction. He was a handsome man, a flirt. He used his sonorous voice and sweet words to weave spells over women whether intentionally or not and Ororo was just as susceptible. She knew his heart belonged to Rogue. Still, she could count on one hand the number of times Remy and Rogue had been able to be an actual couple over the years. All the time in between they were either playing coy or not speaking like now or fighting. They had gotten over the worse when Rogue deserted Remy in the frozen Antarctic but now with Remy refusing to tell Rogue if he had or hadn't slept with Mystique Ororo didn't know if they could survive. What chance did they have unless there was some permanent way to stave off Rogue's power so that there could be no question of him ever being with another woman because he could be with Rogue always?

Ororo groaned, suddenly feeling the need to flee. She felt burdened with her friend's problems when she knew it shouldn't trouble her any more than when Warren and Betsy had broken up after Betsy's flirting with Neal. But it was impossible to view Remy as she did Warren or any other man she knew. She'd told Logan there was a bond between her and Remy but she hadn't admitted how deep it was. When he hurt so did she. She wanted to fix his hurts, make him happy. But when he was happy . . . no, she wouldn't allow herself to think about her own happiness, his was all that mattered. She rather he was happy than finding happiness for herself, such was the bond she had with him.

Finding it useless to try to make sense of her conflicting feelings Ororo, now standing alone in her room, summoned a wind through the open windows and let the soft breeze calm her. She closed her eyes, breathed in deeply, and tried not to think of anything at all only it proved to be an impossible task. She saw Remy laying on the grass looking so peaceful but then he was moving, leaning over her, his devils eyes boring into her as if unforeseen possibilities had opened up to him.

"Ohhh," she groaned, "Stupid! stupid!"

Indeed, she'd let her guard down. The momentary fantasy was silly, meant nothing. All she wanted was for him to be happy and it wasn't important that his happiness with Rogue would bring Ororo pain.

In a flurry of movement she crumpled to the bed, her hands covering her ears as if that would keep the long denied thoughts at bay. This was torture. It was so wrong to feel this way, to think such thoughts. She longed to not think at all, to not feel, to crush her emotions forever. She had to get away, clear her head, go some place she wouldn't think of Remy but where? Somewhere far away, anywhere but there, away from Remy and those dark bewitching eyes, the captivating smile, that tantalizing voice, his touch that burned and made her yearn for so much more. Oh how she longed for his touch and as much as she didn't want to admit it, it was true. She wanted him to hold her, to kiss her. She wanted him and it wasn't as a friend that she wanted him.

"No!" she whispered in alarm, her eyes wide with sudden realization. "I love him," she groaned as her hands fell to cover her mouth. "I love him," she repeated, the revelation startling. But then sudden calmness took hold of her. She knew what she must do.

"I have no choice but to leave," she decided with finality.

She packed light and with shaky fingers scribbled a note saying she would be in touch then folded the paper in half and left it on her bed. Where would she go? Life for her was over with the X-Men. She couldn't remain now, knowing the truth. Logan was unerringly right, she should have known. She would bring chaos to their little family of misfits. She had no other choice but to go.

And yet she hesitated. She knew what she had to do and she would but not before she saw him one last time. She set her backpack on the floor, looked around her room, at her plants, the swords on the wall, all the small things she'd managed to keep over the years despite the many times the mansion had been destroyed and rebuilt. Like her life – gone now. Would she be able to rebuild, start anew on her own? She cursed herself – so foolish, too blind to read her own heart. She covered her face with her hands and fought back a cry of anguish.

"He must never know," she whispered when she regained her composure.

It was easy to find him even as late as it was. Outside smoking on the side porch he favored when he couldn't sleep, a glass of brandy on the step beside him. It was so obvious that he was miserable with the way things were between him and Rogue and because he was hurting so was Ororo.

"If I could take your pain from you I would," she said not realizing she'd spoken aloud until the words were out.

"What pain chère?" Remy asked, laughingly as he stubbed out his cigarette.

She pushed the screen door open but she didn't join him as she normally would. Instead she stood behind him there in the darkness afraid to speak. But then he patted the space next to him she felt obliged to sit.

He glanced at her, grinned, and took her hand in his, squeezing it gently. His hand was slightly moist and very warm but to Ororo his touch burned through her so that she leaned closer to him wanting more than just his hand hot in hers. But she caught herself and forced herself to slide a little away from him though he didn't let her hand go. She didn't want him to ever let go and because of this she knew with certainty that she had made the right decision. Everything was so clear now. She pulled her hand free. She would leave right after she told him goodbye. What else could she do?

"You mad at me, ma Stormy?" he asked, his fingers drumming on her arm, his touch too familiar.

"Always when you call me that," she replied, catching his hand in hers and holding it tight.

"Sometimes Remy forget you dun like it when I call you dat it's true but sometimes I do it ta get a rise out of you, chère, ta see de thunder in those lovely eyes of yours. You always beautiful but when you angry de way yo' face light up, it make my heart beat quicker."

She laughed quietly, shaking her head. "You're a rascal; don't waste your charms on me my friend."

"Never wasted on you chère." Voice like liquid – smooth, rich, indescribably seductive. It engulfed you, mesmerized you. Just like his eyes.

She looked away, dropped his hand then rose. She stooped to kiss his forehead and made to go but he caught her wrist, held onto her as he got up. They stood like that only seconds but it seemed a very long, sweet time. Her heart was beating so fast. She tried to concentrate on what was important but couldn't. She hated herself for being so weak under his gaze. His eyes devoured her. Her long white hair falling over her shoulders, slightly tangled, silvery in the moonlight, her eyes half closed, those full lips slightly parted as if inviting him to . . .

It happened again, the expectancy, the yearning, the awareness of desire, and then the sudden realization, knowing that they mustn't – that they couldn't!

"Remy bid you adieu chère," he said, too loudly as if he'd just awakened from some trance. He dropped her hand but couldn't resist letting his eyes roam down her body.

She caught her breath. He silently reprimanded himself. She wasn't Rogue, she wasn't for him he told himself. But in that moment, like so many others before, he wanted her. Desperately. To take her in his arms, press her so close, feel her breast against his chest, the heat of her body burning into him. Without another word he turned and fled.