Thanks for all the reviews last chapter, and sorry about the hold up on this one. Writer's block is killing me! I'm stilll trying to get through it! To make up for it, though, this chapter is a bit longer than normal.
Oh, and as a blanket statement in response to last chapter's reviews: Bella is a little B. For serious.
And, lastly, how the heck did this every get to 24 chapters?! My goodness!
Turning Point - Chapter 24
Rogue sat across from Mercy at a small table at the edge of the dining room, feeling awkward. She wondered what was taking Kitty so long and when she'd get back into the room.
Her eyes glanced down slightly to watch the small toddler sitting in the blonde woman's lap. Lily seemed quite content, playing with the few small plastic animals that she had been given. Her grubby little hand wrapped tightly around a penguin as she waved it up and down.
Mercy's held tilted down slightly and she kissed her niece's little head. Sure, she could've set the baby down, but she hadn't seen her for months and she all ready grew so much. Mercy wasn't ready to give up the child when she knew it might be an even longer time until she saw her again.
Rogue opened her mouth to say something, but wasn't sure what that something would be. After Logan had asked Remy if he was staying or going, Remy hesitated a long moment, then said he needed some space to think. After checking that Mercy had his baby, he had exited the War Room to go off to who-knows-where. Rogue wrinkled her nose, assuming he was probably off somewhere smoking like a chimney. Either way, the professor had asked her and Kitty to entertain Mercy. After heading to the Dining Room, Kitty said she'd be right back. Rogue was still waiting.
"So," Mercy interrupted Rogue's thoughts and she slightly bounced the child in her lap, "You an' my beau frere, no?"
"Huh?" Rogue's head snapped up in confusion – her wayward thoughts having kept her quite distracted. It seemed like an odd thing to imply, "Meh an' Remy? What about it?"
"You deux are," she shrugged, "Together?"
"What?" Rogue looked shocked and shook her head vehemently, "We're not together."
"Ooooh," After a pause, Mercy grinned knowingly and winked, "I get it. Not together. Dat sounds like Remy. He was always a bit of a Tom ."
"What?" She shook her head again, "No, no, it's not like that either."
Mercy looked unconvinced, "Uh huh."
Rogue sighed, looking for the right words, "Remy and Ah were friends once. Ah'm just trying tah get back tah that again."
Despite her words and the uncomfortable conversation, Rogue could feel her lips burn slightly and the memory of the kiss she'd received hours ago, she still had the card Remy used tucked into her back pocket.
"Oh," Mercy's eyes softened and she thought about it, "Dat's good. Remy don' have a lot o' friends. He don' trust people enough."
"Ah noticed," she muttered in reply, thinking about why Remy didn't trust people. Of course he didn't trust people. When you go around lying to everyone's face, how can you trust that they won't do the same in turn? Easy. You don't. She frowned. Maybe he shouldn't have lied to her, to everyone.
The blonde woman sighed, "Seemed like he made some friends here. De poor kid. Jus when it seems like he's gettin' his life together, it all falls apart again."
Rogue wasn't sure what to say to that, so she just kept her eyes locked on Mercy and waited for her to continue.
"Obviously he's upset," She shook her head, "But he's doing fine. I can tell. He's always upset, at least he seems more relaxed here."
"Relaxed?" Rogue's eyes widened in surprise, "Ha. Ah don't think he's ever relaxed. He's always frowning, always worrying about something."
"Back in 'Nawlins, when Remy an' de bebe were still living dere, he had a hard time." She frowned, "Despite everyting dat was done for de treaty - his marriage and de bebe - I don't tink he ever really trusted Belladonna. I tink he was always on edge, at least here he had a chance to breath for a few months."
"Didn't trust her? But he married her." Rogue had a sour look on her face.
"An' he did jus about everyting he could t' avoid marrying her. It jus didn't work. You know, he moved in wit her because didn' want his family sleepin' near de Assassins, even wit the treaty in place. An' he had t' go t' work at night knowin' de only person wit eyes on his bebe was de nanny. Dat was hard fo' him. Remy always put de whole world on his shoulders, he don' expect himself t' get de chance t' be happy." She paused and looked down at Lily fondly, "I t'ought de bebe would change dat."
"Remy loves Lily," She wasn't sure if she was defending him or even why.
Mercy nodded her head in agreement, "Oui, he does. An' he was happy about being a Pere... I jus t'ought dat if he could ever truly get away from Belladonna, den he could actually have a life." She sighed again, "Now he actually had de chance fo' dat. Not dat I wanted it t' happen de way it did - her adultery cut him deep - but at least he had a chance t' finally do want he wanted. But den, o' course, Bella found a way o' pullin' her puppet strings, even dis far away." She bit her lip, "If Remy looses Lily, I don' tink there'd be any way t' heal from dat."
Rogue frowned, "Ah can't believe she'd kill her own daughter."
"Believe it, petite, because it's de truth."
Rogue paused for a moment, trying to take in all that she had heard. It was a lot to wrap her head around, that was for sure. It was interesting that his sister in law thought that he was happy here, because Rogue didn't know if that was true. He always seemed distracted, like he was miles away. On the other hand, she'd seen his joyful smiled that he reserved only for his daughter, and she'd seen the smaller, more uncertain ones he'd given her.
She supposed it was possible for him to be happy here, or at least happier than he was in New Orleans, given all the baggage he'd left behind. The more she thought about it, the more she realized that he did have a life here, or at least a routine. He worked out with Logan every morning, danced with Kitty three days a week, ate breakfast with the whole group once a week, sat next to her while reading in the sitting room a handful of times. She never would have realized it before, especially because of the fact that al the other residents always mentioned how closed off he was, but he really managed to have something here.
"Ah don't think," She paused, "Ah don't think Remy would let anything happen to Lily."
Mercy appreciated the girl's wishful thinking; even if she knew it was just that, "Oui, dat's true. Remy would cut off his own arm befo' he'd let any harm come to de bebe, but Belladonna is ruthless and skilled. Yo' don't become a Master Assassin by bein' sloppy. Trust me, petite, dat girl is very good at what she does."
She could easily read between the lines, "Yah think he's gonna leave?"
The blonde's eyes looked sad, "I tink he's gonna run. He always runs."
"What if," Rogue bit her lip, speaking tentatively, "What if Ah don't want him tah go?"
Mercy shrugged, she'd be more than happy for someone to convince him to stay in this place. She knew that if Remy left, Bella would find him eventually. Even if he went to Paris, and bought himself a few more years of peace with his daughter, Bella didn't know the meaning of giving up. She'd find Remy and the little girl eventually. Well, most likely. Remy was very good at hiding when he didn't want to be found.
Her lips twisted in a frown. But didn't her brother in law deserve a chance to have a home? To have some semblance of a family? It was obvious that after a few months, this group of people had come to care about him and his daughter. Didn't Lily deserve that?
And, although it seemed unlikely, there was a chance that Bella could wait until Lily's seventeenth birthday, when she was officially of age. The fact that Remy would have raised the girl would sure make the hit an enticing challenge.
And, as for now, her and Henri were the only two that knew Remy was in New York. That would buy him some time.
She sighed, it felt impossible. The whole mess felt impossible. Was this stupid treaty even worth it anymore? She wasn't sure.
As Mercy watched the thin brunette from earlier enter the room again, she turned back to Rogue, "Mebbe yo' should let him know dat? We don't kno what's gonna happen wit Belladonna, but I'd hate for him to run if he don't have to."
. . . . . .
Remy watched as the smoke trailed lazily from the end of his cigarette. He was fully aware it was a filthy habit, but it was as much of him as the air he breathed. He needed it; at this point, it was the only thing that could help him relax.
He took a long slow drag, determined to make his cigarette last as long as possible. Having tried to placate his nerves from Mercy's alert text that morning, he had found that he'd chain smoked through nearly the entire Marlboro package.
He inhaled slowly and, pursing his lips, blew smoke away from his body.
He sighed as he felt his shoulders slump. Having needed somewhere to think (and outdoors of course, for his need for nicotine was screaming in his head), Remy exited the mansion and walked the grounds until he reached the pond on the west end of Xavier's property.
Unceremoniously, he dropped his whole body on the dock. He didn't care that the air was getting chilly as the sun was setting; all he cared about was that there was a weight so heavy on his chest full of fear and hate and uncertainty that he was sure he wouldn't be able to breath.
He tossed his leather jacket to the side after fishing out his smokes, and stretched his legs out in front of him, near the edge of the dock.
The water was dark and still, and Remy found that he liked it like that for some reason.
After a moment, he pulled his long sleeve shirt over his head, leaving him on the dock in his boots, black pants, and thin white tank top.
Closing his eyes, he took a minute to feel the cold air on his now exposed skin. He needed to remember that he could feel something, anything.
Feeling the chill, some small voice in the back of his mind whispered that he wasn't completely numb.
He knew that. In fact, it had been far too long since he felt numb. He felt everything these days.
And for the record: this emotional shit was exhausting.
When Remy was in New Orleans, before Lily, when he still had time before standing at the altar, he could just bury everything. He could push everything away and slip into his Gambit persona that didn't hurt like he did now.
Between having a child and his wife's betrayal, he just hurt. Hurt in a way that he ached all over. It was as if Lily's birth somehow opened the floodgates and he was inundated was all the feelings he'd never experienced before.
The highs were higher than every before; the joy his daughter provided was more fulfilling than drugs or booze or sex, and the happiness was more than ever.
As much as he tried to be emotionless, Lily had made that impossible for him, and he had been feeling everything for the last year and a half in a way he had never expected.
But of course, that meant he felt the lows, like his wife's betrayal, and became intimately reacquainted with the fact that those closest to you could hurt you the most.
And now Bella was going to hurt him again.
This time, he couldn't walk away. No matter what happened, this was going to hurt both emotionally and (most likely) physically. See, he couldn't leave Lily. He just couldn't.
His folks had left him and looked how he turned out? An emotionally crippled, untrusting mess that couldn't get close to people. Choosing that choice for his daughter would be like ripping his own heart out.
Remy knew he was broken, he had always known it, but he was a good parent; despite everything, he knew he was a good parent.
And that's what he strived to be. Liliette LeBeau had given him some sort of purpose and direction in life, and he enthusiastically accepted that his life was not about just him anymore. His job was no longer such a simple thing; his job now was to be a father, the best one he could.
And said job now included making choices that were harder than ever before.
When he was being pushed towards marriage, he knew that it was inevitable. He supposed he didn't think about it much before the day ('denial' was the word that came to mind), but he had just resigned himself to the fact that marriage would tie him to the city he both loved and hated, and that he would live unhappily until the assassins or stupidity killed him. It wasn't much to look forward to in life, but at least he had expected it. Having known from the beginning that he was one not to get happy endings, he could accept it.
Of course, the unexpected feelings of unconditional love he had experienced the minute his daughter was born (and possibly the minute she was conceived) had changed that - had changed everything.
"Merde." Remy whispered the simple (yet ridiculously accurate) statement as he pushed away all those thoughts about his past and what got him to this point.
What was most important now was that he take care of Lily, by whatever means possible. And if that meant jetting off to Paris? Then so be it.
The one teeny tiny, minuscule silver lining to all this, was that Remy knew Bella couldn't kill him. His death by her hands would mean the end of the treaty, and he was pretty sure the thieves wouldn't take it lying down. He smiled then, as his sick little fantasy had one of his own murdering his wife.
Maybe the Redhead was right, he mused. Maybe that was sick. Who daydreams about their wife's murder? He took another long drag.
Knowing Bella couldn't come after him, he wasn't going to let Lily out of his sight. His wife was a warrior, he knew that for sure, but surely he could hold his own against her? He was made of stealth and speed, he was stronger than her.
For the first time in his life, Remy found himself doubting his body's abilities. That was the one thing could always trust: himself. Not having anyone else to rely on, he didn't have much of a choice. Not to mention that once he moved into the LeBeau mansion and started eating real food, he was finally able to put some weight on. Having learned from a young age that physically beauty could get you far in life (it's easier to con someone if they're looking at a pretty face), Remy kept himself in perfect physical shape for that reason (among many others, like the previously mentioned tiny air vents).
Either way, he looked down at the thin material stretched over his flat stomach; his traitorous body all ready lost five pounds. What else would it lose? Who's to say it wouldn't do something else he didn't like? Who's to say he was stronger than his wife?
Not to mention the fact that he'd probably be fighting a pregnant woman. The idea made him feel a little sick, and he quickly brought his cigarette back to his lips. Again, he knew Bella was a bitch (other accepted names: whore, adulterer, liar, swap hag), but those babies in utero were innocent - just as innocent as Lily. The babies were being brought into a world beyond their control or choices, same as his daughter had.
Of course, knowing his wife the way he did, he was sure she'd use that to her advantage. Of course she would know that he'd be uncomfortable squaring off against a pregnant woman, and, of course, she was just ruthless enough to use it against him.
For the second time, he cursed all the emotions he was feeling.
He was so confused.
Well, he knew he was angry. Angry in a way he had never been before. Angry in a way that he was having a hard time controlling it (hence separating himself from other people). The buzzing in his hands was increasing with the red that he was seeing, begging to be let out. Begging him for destruction and the relief that only came with releasing an obscene amount of energy. Perhaps it would have been wiser to choose the Danger Room over his need to smoke.
He was hurt, that was for sure. He could handle the pain caused by Belladonna, or at least he hoped he could, but that didn't make it hurt any less. He ached in his bones. He felt ripped up, chewed up, torn apart. It was almost like his body was being torn apart slowly, piece by piece, as he struggled fruitlessly the hold the seams together.
He did his best not to let the pain show on the surface, but in his heart he was breaking down.
He was afraid, afraid for a number of things actually. The last thing he wanted was for his daughter to get hurt - or worse (even though he couldn't even mouth the words) - and the idea terrified him to no end. He was also afraid of the choice he had to make. What if he made the wrong one? Would he be damning the baby the same way he damned himself? How could he avoid that?
He also had a sense of nervous curiosity. Of course, his mind hesitated to go down that road. Remy was aware of the support system he had in life... It started with him and ended with him; that was all he had. Sure, Mercy and Henri would do what they could for him, by the two were still under the Guild's thumb. He was on his own.
He had always been on his own. He came into the world that way, and always assumed that was the way he would leave it. Of course, becoming a parent had thrown a wrench into the mix, but now he was parenting alone. It seemed like a simple pattern to follow.
But then why would Logan mention that 'we' would have to figure out what to do about Belladonna?
The voice in his head laughed bitterly. Who did think he was? Thinking someone else would be there for him? That would never happen, the voice reminded him snidely. He shouldn't trust that - the last person he trusted was Belladonna and look how that ended up. Sadly agreeing that it wasn't in his cards to have someone come to his rescue, he felt embarrassed for even entertaining he idea, no matter how brief it had been. Of course, that embarrassment made him even angrier.
With worry pooling in his heart, Remy brought the cigarette up to his lips for another drag. As he blew he smoke away from his body, he tilted his head slightly. He heard footsteps approaching, but didn't even bother to turn towards the source. Smoking was clearly more important than anyone else.
Rogue approached Remy slowly, having found him on the dock, and cleared her throat to announce her presence. Her anger was the last thing she had to worry about, she decided. She told Mercy that she was trying to be friends with Remy. It was clear right now that he needed a friend . . . and if they were friends, and he did stay at the mansion, she would have more than enough time to be angry with him later.
Remy turned his head and saw Rogue staring at him. He couldn't read the look on her face, so therefore he didn't like it. The last thing he needed were all these people in his business, and now they knew everything.
Belladonna knew his past and present too; and what did she do with it? Hurt him, of course.
Remy tried to anticipate what Rogue was gong to say, and he wasn't sure. The last thing he needed was yet another person judging him, judging his life. He made his choices and was living with them; he didn't need to hear any misguided opinions about what people thought of him.
He could just hear Rogue's voice in his head: condemning him, berating him, calling him a coward again; another voice of someone reminding him of mistakes he's made and the failure he's become.
Rather than give her the chance, he sub-consciously switched to the offensive: if she was to try to hurt him away, he sure as hell was going to do it first.
"What?" His voice was laced with sarcasm as he took another drag and let his upper lip roll up in a bit of a sneer, "Upset dat yo' kissed a married man?"
Perturbed, her eyes narrowed. Of course she was angry about the way he lied to her, but she was trying not to let that anger get to her. She was here to convince Remy to stay, not to let her temper get the better of her and chase him off.
Still, that didn't mean she was going to lie.
She sat down next to him and shrugged, "A little, yeah."
He shrugged back at her, leaning back on his hands and reclining with a sort of laissez-faire attitude. He flipped the cigarette butt away from him with a pop. If she thought she could get a rise out of him, she was wrong. He fought to look very blasé about the whole thing. He took out another cigarette, and brought a fingertip up to light it, inhaling deeply.
Grimacing at how cliché she knew it would sound, Rogue settled herself to ask Remy one question. It sounded ridiculous, especially considering the more dangerous situation his daughter was in, but she couldn't help herself; she needed to know the answer. She knew Remy cared about her, and although she hadn't voiced the words, she knew she cared about him too. She wasn't going to ask him to stay (for many reasons amongst her selfish ones) before she knew. She was not going to get [even more] emotionally involved until she knew.
She frowned, her eyes critically looking him over. There was a pause, and then she decided she couldn't wait any longer, "Do yah love her?"
Clearly caught off guard, Remy's surprise showed on his face. That was most unexpected.
His knee jerk reaction was to spit out a nasty retort and remind her that this was none of her business, but seeing a sort of openness on her face, he held it back.
It took him a few more drags on his cigarette to decide if he was going to be honest with her or if he was going to answer her question at all.
"Belladonna?" He sighed and followed it with a shrug. It was clear whom Rogue was referring to. "I loved her once, I tink, but dat was a long time ago."
How could he not? It was like a fairy tale, the story that was to be written about he and his now wife. There would be no dragons or knights, but there were heirs to thrones and beautiful princesses.
Remy looked at Rogue's guarded expressions and, again, wasn't sure what to make of it. He sighed once more and wondered if he really did owe her an explanation; if that would be fair. On one hand, he did care about her and because of him she was aware of that fact, but on the other hand, hadn't he been honest with her enough. He may have only opened up to her the smallest bit, but it was leaps and bounds above the amount he'd opened to others.
When he could accurately make out concern on her face (below the slight anger in her partially furrowed brow), he decided he could continue to be honest, be open with her. It had been a long time since anyone had looked at him like they actually had any interest in what happened to him. Of course, that look made him partially uncomfortable, but he didn't want it turned away from him either.
His voice was a whisper, "How could I not?"
Tentatively, as she had sat down near him, she angled her body towards his. Warily, she noted all of his visible skin, but continued to look at him regardless. Like his, her voice was also soft, "What do yah mean?"
He sighed once more, this time even more heavy, "How could I not love her?" He could picture her clearly in his mind, when they were younger and slightly more carefree (because he had never been completely carefree). "She saved my life, chere."
Rogue was easily shocked, "What?"
Remy repeated himself, fully believing the words. "Belladonna saved my life. Livin' on de streets was hell, a hell on earth dat 'M never goin' back t'. I was just a kid when Jean Luc took me in an' he took me in so dat one day I could marry her. I loved her fo' dat, fo' givin' moi a chance."
As a ten-year-old boy, it was a terribly romantic gesture that he didn't quite understand. He may not have believed in happy endings, but he could comprehend the vague notions of fairy tales. Ironically enough, in his story Bella was both the [actual] princess and the price. She was the princess who needed a price, and she was the price because she saved him.
Knowing from a young age that Jean Luc had rescued him from the streets for such a noble and fantastic purpose, he didn't fight the idea. At 12, if you had to choose someone to marry, wouldn't you choose the girl who saved your life? And if someone else chose that same girl for you, would it be so wrong? At 14 knowing you were going to marry a young girl who was developing breasts and turning into a beautiful woman, it didn't seem so bad. Not having a choice in who you were going to marry didn't mean much when you were going to marry a princess and bring peace to your family.
It was all very grandiose and romantic. What ten-year-old boy couldn't love that? Couldn't love the girl who gave all of that to him?
Rogue held her breath as he spoke, the answer unexpected. Maybe she didn't say it out loud, but when she had asked him if he loved his wife, her planned response may have been what some would call 'ugly' if he had answered yes. But instead? Instead he had surprised her, admitting his feelings. It was a bit sad, she thought, that Remy attributed his life to this Belladonna character. But still. . ."Do yah still love her?"
"Non." Although Remy's immediate response was truthful, he took a moment to think about it. He wanted to make sure his words were entirely sincere. He tilted his head slightly and took the last deep drag off of his rapidly burring up cigg. He frowned and even he could feel the sadness leaking out in his words, "I don' tink I can hate her, though. At least not completely. I feel like Bella's ruining my life, but witout her, I wouldn' have a life to ruin."
And that was the conundrum, wasn't it?
If it came down to Lily or Belladonna, Remy was sure that he wouldn't hesitate. He would do what he had to, regardless of the consequences.
He would do whatever it was that he had to, treaty be damned. Could his daughter ever forgive him if he murdered her mother?
Rogue appreciated his honesty, but she would be lying if she said she was completely comfortable. She felt awkward. It wasn't that she was ignoring the words that he candidly shared with her, it was just that she didn't know how to respond; she didn't know what to say to him after he opened up to her. She bit her lip before nervously holding her hands tightly together.
Meeting his eyes, she said the one thing he thought he would never hear, "Remy, don't go."
 Tom as in Tomcat as in Ladies' man. I think this phrase is regional.
Reviews = Love (I put it in bold so it'd look more important).
Hopefully I'll figure out where this is going soon!