Disclaimer: The X-Men and all mentioned characters are the property of Marvel.

To the gentlemen, I fear this is more Romy than anything else.

To the avid Marvel reader, I apologize now. This story does not really correspond with the comics. Instead, its main storyline comes from an episode of the 90's X-Men animated series. The events would follow "Come the Apocalypse."

To those whose only knowledge of Rogue and Gambit come from the movies, these characters will bare little resemblance to their cinematic counterparts.

To everyone else, my rendition of Rogue and Gambit may share little in common with the characters we know and love from the Marvel universe. I apologize for any flaws and hope I have not bored you to tears with this small snippet of romantic fluff.


The Knave & His Queen of Hearts


Darkness and shadow, the elements of night that gave a thief cover for his profession; a thief or an assassin. "No," Gambit murmured to himself as quickly as the thought had come. "You ain't neither one." He spoke to the red eyes that glowed back at him from the mirror across the room. "Not anymore."

Propped up on the bed, his usual uniform, with its long coat, black gloves, and fabric hood that protected the back of his head and neck but allowed a shock of brown hair to escape the top, enveloped him in the still darkness of his room. The only light came from the moon shining in through the windows. It reflected off the red eyes that had earned him the name Le Diable Blanc as the imposing figure casually shuffled a deck of cards.

He should be sleeping; he needed the rest. They all did. The return from England had been a long flight. All of them were exhausted after facing off with Apocalypse and his horsemen. They had defeated the evil mutant henchmen, but their leader had vanished from Stone Hinge in a craft that left little doubt to the creature's origins being alien. Wherever Apocalypse came from, he was gone.

Bon débarras, Gambit thought, good riddance. His dislike for their foe manifested itself by the soft glow that appeared around the edges of the card he held. Even as he drew the charge back into his fingertips, Gambit couldn't help thinking that some 'gators looked better stuffed than floating in the bayou. He shuffled the card back into the deck and drew another. A wry smile crossed his lips as red eyes focused on the queen of hearts. Rogue; she was the real reason he couldn't sleep. He couldn't get her out of his mind. Unbidden, the incident from the week before came to the surface.

He'd been in the rec. room when Jean had challenged him to a game of darts; his accuracy against her telekinetic powers. He'd never been one to turn down a lady and so the match had begun in earnest only to be interrupted by Rogue's arrival. The moment she'd stepped into the room, Gambit had lost his focus and nearly skewered Beast in the process. After apologizing to their hairiest member, he'd turned to find Rogue smirking at him from her position next to the dart board. "Don't tell me your losen' your sight, Sugar. Or do you just need more practice?" He might have ignored the goad if it had come from anyone less…enticing. A wicked grin had touched the corners of his mouth as he tossed the darts he held with pinpoint accuracy, pinning her to the wall by the loose fabric of her jacket.

Rogue could have easily pulled away, but she'd been too stubborn to move as he'd come to stand in front of her. He'd removed the darts slower than necessary to prolong his proximity while murmuring, "There ain't nothin' wrong with Gambit's aim, Chere." His gloved finger had brushed against her lips. "I never miss." The tension had been dispelled when Cyclopes' voice had sounded over the intercom, calling Rogue to the danger room. He'd watched her go only to have Jean comment, "Playing the knave is dangerous. Beware Monsieur Thief, it is your heart that may be stolen." Now, studying the card in his hand, Gambit fought the impulse to acknowledge the words of Mademoiselle Grey, though his reaction to their latest battle threatened to prove her observations true.

He wasn't angry with Apocalypse because the creature wanted to destroy human life, or mutant life for that matter. Apocalypse had come seeking utter destruction and complete chaos, but Gambit was accustomed to facing psychopathic madness cloaked by a misguided righteousness. The X-Men had many foes whose ambition led them to believe that they must create a new order through the annihilation of the present population. No, Gambit didn't hold grudges because of insanity. His expression darkened. He did, however, have a problem with a creature whose original plan would have turned Rogue into a slave driven by fear and evil. As one of Apocalypse's horsemen, she would have been nearly unstoppable. The thought of being forced to bring her down…

Gambit's attention was brought back to the present as the queen of hearts began to radiate enough energy to cast a glow about the entire room. Once again he withdrew the charge, unwilling to wake the rest of the mansion with the explosion that would have followed had he released the card. No need to rouse the others just because he couldn't seem to catch any shut eye. Then again, he mused as a shadow passed outside his room, it appeared that he wasn't the only one that couldn't sleep. Gambit went to the window and glanced out to find a familiar shape hovering beside the mansion. Even in the moonlight he could distinguish the green and yellow uniform that outlined her perfect curves, the brown jacket that stopped just above her lovely abdomen, and the belt that hung diagonally along her superb hips. He imagined the tart reply she'd give his appraisal with an impish grin. Beauty was meant to be admired, no?

Oblivious to his thoughts or scrutiny, Rogue hung in limbo as though lost in uncertainty before turning toward the wooded horizon and flying away. Gambit frowned as he watched her head for the trees. "Where you goin' Chere?" He voiced the question in a tone too soft for anyone to hear as he raised the window and jumped out. Grabbing a branch from the tree beside the house, Gambit swung down to the ground and followed the apparition floating overhead. Wherever Rogue was headed, she wasn't in a hurry. Otherwise, he would have never been able to keep up with her. As it was, Gambit was finding it difficult to keep her in sight as he dodged trees and underbrush while jogging through the small wood that afforded the school privacy from the outside world. He came to a small knoll and paused to catch his breath, careful to keep his eyes trained on the woman ahead. She too had slowed and was beginning to descend. His gaze followed her down into the trees, and he recognized her destination. She was going to the lake.

Now certain of her location, Gambit continued his pursuit but at a more comfortable pace. By the time he'd reached the water, he found Rogue sitting against the trunk of an old tree along the bank. Her legs were pulled up against her chest, and her face was buried against her knees. Even from a distance, he could see that she was shaking. The memories were haunting her; not her own, but those of Arc Angel, the mutant that Apocalypse had turned into Death. During the fight, Rogue had tried to slow him down by draining his energy. She had managed to pull out enough of the evil to bring Arc Angel back to his senses, but at what cost? Gambit remembered the terrified scream that had torn from her as she released the mutant. It had shred his insides with more ferocity than Wolverine had ever threatened. The memory renewed his anger at Apocalypse, who had fled to the stars before Gambit could hospitably blow his head off or, at the least, congenially shove a glowing poker chip down his throat.

A sniff escaped the figure huddled at the base of the tree, reminding Gambit that his longing for retribution was the last thing Rogue needed right now. Slowly, he approached her. She didn't hear him until he'd come to a stop beside her. Rogue's surprised gaze followed him as he slid down to sit beside her and leaned back against the tree. She blinked, but not quick enough to hide the tears as she glanced away.

"It's alright, Chere," he spoke softly, his tone void of its usual arrogance. "Gambit is here. Tell him all about it, eh?" She shook her head, the streak of white in her brown hair dancing in the moonlight.

"There's nothin' to tell." Rogue's reply was delivered with her customary rebuff. "I couldn't sleep is all. You shouldn't be sneakin' up on people, you danged nosey Cajun; it ain't polite." Gambit wasn't fooled. She did a decent job of sounding defiant, but the trembling belied her feigned confidence.

"Bad dreams?" His gentle inquiry seemed to cool her fiery resilience, but she gave no immediate response. For a moment there was only silence before she gave a nod. He watched her profile and waited. If he'd learned anything from cards and thieves, it was patience. There were times you hunted the deer and others when you let it come to you. Rogue was no animal, but she couldn't be cornered either. One wrong move and she'd bolt quicker than a squirrel that smelled dumplings.

"When I close my eyes…I keep seein' things. Things I ain't never seen before. An feelins' of…" for a moment her voice trailed off. "Such hatred and fear and pain…. I keep thinkin' that it could have been me that Apocalypse enslaved. Even though it wasn't," she looked back at him, "it frightens me." It was the same dreadful thought that had plagued him earlier, but Rogue had Warren's memories to make the nightmare more real and harder to escape. Instinctively, he reached for her.

"C'mere, Chere." He wrapped his arm about her shoulders, and Rogue curled up against his side. "Let Gambit make it better," he murmured into her hair. He wrapped his other arm about her and pulled her close. The fact that she didn't push him away was a testament to her fragile state. Instead she buried her face against his chest, clinging to him as the shaking continued. Gambit placed a tender kiss against her wild tendrils, careful not to let his lips touch her skin. She needed his comfort tonight, not his demons. Tightening his embrace, he held Rogue as she trembled uncontrollably in his arms. Gambit didn't put much stock in deities, but as the woman he held continued to shake, he found himself desperate for her to find peace and sending out a silent plea to the heavens.

Little did Gambit realize that his unspoken call for help had been heard, but not by angels. The anxiety at the lake was perceived by Charles Xavier, whose tireless vigilance urged him to use Cerebro even after the draining confrontation with Apocalypse. The Professor had been monitoring to ensure the threat was gone when he'd felt Rogue's anguish and Gambit's presence with her. Charles wasn't surprised to sense their resident Cajun at her side. One did not have to be a telepathic mutant to observe the bond connecting them. Just as he could see the tension between Jean, Scott, and Logan, Xavier could read the feelings shared by Gambit and Rogue without ever probing their minds. However, though he did not always need telepathic abilities to sense the emotional attachments of his X-men, there were times when Charles' powers were needed to help them heal. Focusing on the two at the lake, Xavier reached out.

Gambit. The Professor's voice sounded as clearly as if he'd been sitting on the bank beside them. Gambit found himself glancing about to make sure the two of them were still alone, when the voice spoke again. Gambit, I am going to soothe Rogue's mind. Do not leave her alone. I'm placing her in your care.

"Whatever you say, Professor," the words left his lips in a whisper too soft to be heard. He needed no prodding from Xavier; Gambit wasn't going anywhere. Though he'd seen no more tears, Rogue was still trembling. Nothing could have torn him away, leaving her alone in such misery, not even Wolverine's adamantium claws. For a moment, Rogue's arms tightened about him as though the visions grew worse, and Gambit responded by pulling her closer until the only space between them was occupied by the cloth of their uniforms.

"Please, just make it stop," she begged. He wasn't sure if she was talking to him or Xavier, but the plea was followed by a soft gasp as she gave a quick jerk before the shaking gradually began to weaken. Gambit wasn't certain how much time passed as the tremors subsided and the tension slowly melted from her body, but he was aware of the moment she grew limp against him as she drifted off into a peaceful sleep.

A grin touched his features as he ran an exposed fingertip over the gloved hand that now rested against his chest. Tomorrow she would deny this moment had ever happened. She'd once again be cloaked by her feisty refusal to let him in, they'd return to their cat and mouse flirtations, and the knave would again find himself playing with the queen of hearts. But for tonight, she was his to hold. "Bon rêve, Chere," he whispered. Lifting her hand to his lips, he placed a gentle kiss on her gloved fingers. "Sweet dreams." Tenderly releasing her hand to lie against his shoulder, Gambit wrapped his arms about Rogue once more; content to keep watch over her throughout the night while the moon continued its silent trip across the dark velvet sky, oblivious to the knave and his queen of hearts.


The End