Author's Note: So, this is slightly AU. Please enjoy! Flashbacks in italics.
Remy stood still as a statue, his back pressed against the wall, as he listened to the clock strike midnight. Lights out was at ten, but Logan patrolled until well after eleven, though he was always in bed by midnight. Trusting the shadows to cover him, he quickly slid out of his hiding place and slunk with cat-like grace down the hallway. Normally he would take the scenic balcony route, but Jean had left her doors open and that put a slight damper on those plans. Instead, he took the shorter route through the hallway to the one place that no one would ever expect him to be: the library.
He knew that Rogue was getting better and better at slipping out at night. Luckily for her—and Remy—Kitty Pryde was a romantic at heart, and rather than telling on them when she caught Rogue sneaking out, she smiled knowingly instead. The sneaking really wasn't that difficult after midnight because Logan had gone to bed. And Remy had taught her more than one of his tricks in the time he had spent at the mansion. He hoped that she would be waiting for him in the library.
The first time they met in the library, it had been an accident. Instead of being late at night, it had been in the early hours of the morning. Remy had come in late from going out on the town, and Rogue was looking for something before the morning Danger Room session. Trying to avoid Logan, Remy had dashed into the library, only to have his silent sneaking ruined when Rogue ran smack into him, her arms full of books.
"Watch where yah goin', swamp rat!" she snapped.
"'Y 'da one 'dat needs tah be watchin'. How 'y gonna see wid' all 'dem books?" Remy asked, turning on the charm in hopes that she wouldn't give him away.
She raised an eyebrow and gave him the once over. He took the opportunity to do the same. While it was understandable that he was still in the same clothes from last night, it was less so with her. After all, she'd been at the Institute all night. So why was she in the same clothes from yesterday?
"Yah still in yahr clothes from yestaday," she commented.
"So are 'y, chere. Accept 'y been here all nigh', so what's 'y're excuse?" he asked lightly, pulling her behind one of the many shelves as the door opened. His arms were around her, her face pressed against his chest, and she was completely unable to move. The smell of the bar clung to him: stale beer and cigarette smoke, with whiskey on his breath. It wasn't an entirely unpleasant smell.
Though he was hardly breathing, he couldn't help but notice that she smelled like magnolias. It made sense; if nothing else, Rogue was a good Southern belle. Though he had to wonder what a good Southern belle was doing out of bed so early—or so late. He also noticed that her slender frame fit perfectly against him.
The sound of the door slamming pulled Remy from his thoughts, and Rogue pulled herself from his grip. "Yah didn't hafta smother meh lahke that," she whispered venomously before she realized what she was doing.
"Remy don' know 'bout 'y, but he don' wanna deal wid Logan rahght now. 'Specially since we both outta bed when we shouldn' be."
"Yah're the one that's been out at a bar all nahght. At least Ah've been here."
"'Den why 'y been up all nahght?" Remy asked.
"Ah could ask yah the same thing."
"Answer fo' answer?" he proposed. She nodded, picking up her books from where they had fallen on the floor. "Why 'y up 'dis early?"
"Ah couldn't sleep," she answered simply. "How 'bout yah? Why do yah go out so much?"
"Can't sleep." Rogue rolled her eyes in frustration at his answer. He just grinned, though without humor. "Tit fo' tat, chere. Now, 'y wanna tell Remy what 'y doin' readin'…Descartes?" he asked, holding up one of the books she dropped on the floor.
"The Professor recommended it for my trainin'. Tah help meh get control. Descartes came up with that whole "Ah think, therefo' Ah am," thing. Maybe if Ah think Ah have control, Ah will." She sounded skeptical.
"'Y been up all nahght readin' philosophy?" Remy sounded just as skeptical as she did.
"It's bettah than doin' nothin'." Now she just sounded tired. Tired and wary, as if she was afraid to give too much away. Remy could see the tiredness written all over her face; in the dark circles under her eyes, in the heaviness of her eyelids, in her slower than normal wit. He was also quite sure that she could see the same in him.
"Very true, cherie. Very true." He eyed the window seat and the big leather chairs nearby. "Nap?"
She didn't protest, which set off warning bells in his mind. Normally, she seized any opportunity to throw his womanizing reputation into his face. Instead, she silently nodded her head, and let him guide her to the window seat. Within minutes, she was asleep. Remy settled in to one of the leather arm chairs, hoping to follow Rogue's example. When sleep didn't come, he studied her.
Sleep was supposed to be peaceful, but hers wasn't. She didn't stay still or look angelic. Instead, she was constantly shifting, unable to get comfortable—even in sleep—and she looked troubled. No, he thought, not how sleeping should be. But at least she was sleeping, which was more than he could say for himself.
They hadn't meant to keep meeting in the library, but the window seat had become Rogue's second bed. When she woke up alone in her bed at night, she would quickly tip-toe down the hallway to the library. The first few times, she had fallen asleep alone and woken up to find Remy sitting in the leather chair, watching her. It wasn't that she tried to avoid sleep—God only knows she had tried everything to get some sleep, but nothing worked. She would drift off, only to be startled out of sleep an hour or two later.
If things were bad for Rogue, it was worse for Remy. At night, he alternated between prowling the grounds of the Institute and finding a bar where he could sit all night and nurse a whiskey. He tried more natural ways to get some sleep, but nothing worked. He would go for days at a time with no sleep before finally giving in and sneaking into the Med Bay to steal a sedative. The sedative would give him a good ten hours of dreamless sleep before he was up and at it again.
The only respite they had was each other. Those few hours when they sat in the library—not having to maintain any sort of guise—were the best parts of their day. Yes, at first it was an accident, their meetings, but afterward they started to look forward to it. The library became their place of refuge at night when no one else was around. Whether they were sitting in silence—companionable silence, not awkward silence—or dancing around each other's questions, they were relaxed.
Months later, after a mission, Rogue finally asked the question that was on both their minds. She didn't want to pry and normally she wouldn't have asked, but not sleeping was starting to affect Remy's performance on their mission. An injured civilian had begged for help, and Remy froze. As a result, Rogue had to do both their jobs, and had gotten hurt.
"How come yah don't sleep, Remy?" she asked from her spot on the window seat.. When she asked questions, it was normally in jest. Whenever a serious question came up, it was always asked in a joking manner. When they joked, there was always the option of answering with another joke if they didn't really want to answer the question seriously. But now when she spoke, it was with an earnestness that he couldn't resist.
"When Remy sleeps, he dreams. An' dreams ain't all 'dey're cracked up tah be," he answered with a sigh. From his seat in the leather arm chair, he could see her expression soften as studied his tired features. He hadn't slept in three days. She'd had five hours in the past two.
"What do yah dream?" she asked again, her voice timid, as though afraid of hurting him by delving too deep. He didn't mind. Instead, he wanted to reassure her that she wasn't hurting him, that she would never hurt him.
"When Remy was young…when he firs' got his powers…he couldn' control 'em. Everyt'in' 'dat Ah touched blew tah smithereens. Ah couldn' work, an' Ah couldn' hide from da Rippers 'cause Ah left a trail everywhere Ah went. After 'while, Mr. Sinister sent someone tah talk tah Remy. Said he could help meh—"
"Mister Sinister? Yah mean the—"
"Yeah. 'Dat's de one Remy's talkin' 'bout. He gave meh my control, an' in exchange, Ah did jobs fo' him. Jobs Ah regret." He looked more than tired as he spoke, the story just pouring out of him as if he could hold it back no longer. He didn't want to hide anything from her for another minute. "Ah gave him more power…Ah stole things fo' him. Ah let people die fo' him. Ah watched people die fo' him…Ah coulda saved 'em and Ah let 'em die instead…an' they begged an' cried… an' Ah regret all o' it."
He looked at Rogue, who simply looked horrified. He had hoped that telling her about his connection with Mr. Sinister wouldn't drive her away, but he also knew that he should be ready for that very thing to happen. Tears trickled down his cheeks and he rose from the chair and headed towards the door.
"Where yah goin'?" Rogue asked from behind him.
"'Y look so horrified, chere. 'Y don' wanna be around a killer," he said, his voice completely flat. He was physically and emotionally exhausted, as was she. But she couldn't let him go anywhere. Not like this. Not when he looked dead on his feet. He looked as if the burden he carried was going to overwhelm him, and she couldn't let that happen.
"Come here," she said, her tone leaving no room for argument. She pushed her exhaustion to the back of her mind. Remy's distress was completely intolerable right now. They had been on many missions together, and in quite a few life-or-death situations, but she had never seen him look defeated. Not until now.
Too exhausted to protest, Remy made his way over to where she was sitting on the window seat and stood before her like a defendant awaiting his sentencing. Without hesitation, she reached for him and took his hand. With a slight tug, he collapsed next to her onto the window seat, and she pulled him against her, needing to comfort him. He needed to know that she would help shoulder his burden, and she needed him to know that. Remy's head rested on her breast, and she could feel his tears soaking through her pajamas.
"'Y looked so…'Y must hate Remy," he whispered, tears continuing to stream down his cheeks.
"No. Ah don't hate yah. Ah hate that yah had tah go through that, but Ah will nevah hate yah. It's alrahght. Yah're a different man now, Remy. Yah not gonna do that again. We both know that. It's alrahght," she whispered, running her gloved fingers through his hair, comforting him the best she could.
"Remy shoulda been stonger. 'Y almost died this afternoon 'cause Remy was distracted. Ah shoulda been stronger then an' Ah should be stronger now."
"It's okay," she said again, kissing the top of his head gently. "Yah go 'head and cry. Rahght now, Ah'll be strong 'nough for the both of us."
After several more minutes, he fell stilled in her arms, finally sleeping naturally for the first time in months.
He slept better now, but she didn't. She tried valiantly to hide it from Remy but was unsuccessful. Now, she slept more often in the library than she did in her own room, sometimes going straight to the library. Remy, as always, sat in the leather armchair and watched her sleep. Always, always, her sleep was fitful. She never stilled, and she was rarely quiet.
When her crying finally became too much to bear, he would take her gently by the shoulder and shake her awake. Each time he woke her, in those first moments, he could see the fear in her emerald eyes. Most of the time, she would try to fight him for a split-second until she realized who he was. Then she would draw several deep breaths, regain her composure, and they would continue on as if nothing was wrong.
He knew that she needed to talk about whatever it was that she was dreaming, but he also knew that she wasn't ready, and he was going to press the issue until she was. Remy wasn't entirely sure how he would know when she was ready, but he was fairly sure that he would just know. At least, he hoped he would. He mostly knew that he needed to be there for her, because at some point, she was going to tell him what nightmare was slowly tearing her apart.
Tonight, as he pushed open the heavy library door, the air felt heavy and oppressive. That was never a good sign, especially when his gut was practically screaming at him that something was wrong. Quietly, he made his way back to her window seat and found it empty. Not only was it strange, it was also disquieting. He was so used to seeing her sit on that window seat, so used to watching her there, that it seemed terribly, terribly empty to him.
It also made him wonder where the hell she was. He had heard the chorus of moaning and groaning as he passed Kitty and Rogue's room, so he knew that Kitty must have company. Rogue wasn't there. She came to this place for comfort. She would be somewhere close by. Immediately, he started scouring the area until it hit him, and he made a beeline for the first place they had run into each other in the library.
She was a lying in the floor, thrashing in her sleep. Her hair was tousled around her blotchy, tear-stained face. "Please," she begged. "Please stop…" Her words were not the clearest, but he knew exactly what she was doing. He had heard that plea before. The plea of a person who can't take anymore. The plea of a person who wants nothing more than for everything to just fade away. As gently as possible, he shook her awake.
The minute her eyes opened, she threw a punch, which caught him on the jaw. Upon realizing who she had struck, she froze and took several deep breaths, trying to calm herself. This time, Remy wasn't going to allow it. Without further thought of what was safe for him, and only thoughts of what was best for her, he picked her up as gently as he could and carried her to the window seat. She tried to pull away from him, but he held her against him in a vise-like grip.
"Remy, left meh go! Ah could kill yah! Let go!" she said.
"Non, chere. Not tonahght. 'Y gotta stop 'dis. 'De no sleepin' and 'de nahghtmares…'dere killin' 'y. 'Y can' do 'dis anymore. Now, tell Remy what's wrong," he said, his voice low and soothing. "Tell Remy 'bout 'de nahghtmare."
"It was when Apocalypse took meh," she whispered. "Before he was gonna use meh tah end the world, he decided tah have a little fun first…He lahked tah watch while they held meh underwater until Ah was about tah pass out…It felt lahke mah lungs were on fire, and Ah wanted to breathe so bad…And he would make meh do things…things Ah never wanted tah do, Remy, and Ah couldn't help it. Ah just wanted it tah stop. Ah needed it tah stop and it wouldn't. He just kept hurting and hurting, and it won't go away. It's in mah head now. Whenever Ah close mah eyes, Ah just keep dreamin' about what happens if he gets tah keep playin' his game, and it hurts, and Ah just wanna make stop…"
Her words dissolved into sobs. They were terrible, loud, heart-wrenching sobs that made his heart stop for the briefest moment. Remy could feel her tears soaking through his shirt as he tried his best to comfort her. He ran his fingers lightly through her hair and spoke gently to her, telling her that it was okay, all the while marveling at the woman in his arms. He knew she had scars; he had been able to see them when she wore her mesh top, but he had never known just how she had gotten them. Now he did, and he was completely in awe of her. The fact that she had the strength to get up and come back from that pain was amazing. Most people would lay down and die, but instead, she came back and functioned the best she could.
"Ah'm sorry, Remy, Ah'm makin' a mess all ovah yahr shirt," she whispered brokenly.
"Non, cherie. 'Y go ahead an' cry all 'y want. All 'y need. It's gonna be alrahght. Remy's not gonna let anyone else hurt 'y. 'Y go ahead and cry."
"Ah just feel lahke Ah need tah be stronger. For everyone else. For yah."
"Rahght now, Ah'll be strong enough fo' da both of us," he whispered comfortingly. She nodded her head and settled against him. When she had cried all her tears, she drifted off to sleep. Remy smiled, honored that she trusted him, and knowing that tomorrow, they would both be strong enough to stand alone. He also knew that even though they would be strong enough to stand on their own, they would lean on each other because they were stronger together than they were apart.
Author's Note: So, I felt like I needed to write this because the great thing about Remy and Rogue is that each of them is strong enough to pull the other through an angsty moment like this. They're individually strong, but together, they draw strength from one another. Or that's how I always saw it.
Anyway, please review. I love feedback. Tell me what you loved, what you hated, etc.