A/N Pretty solidly sick. It's a bummer for me, but means that I have the time to type up a chapter I've been putting off. Here's the ending of An Apple in the Brussels Sprouts! Maybe a sequel later!
Oh, and I've been asked to contribute to a Round Robin effort, Like A Bat Out Of Hell, which is seen on the wonderful fostersb's account.
All together, 26 mutants were saved. This both pleased and appalled the team. Luckily, the two corpses Storm's team recovered were the only dead, and very few X-Men or team members were injured. Unfortunately, the records they'd recovered hinted at over a dozen more deaths during 'conversion'. Gambit didn't know he could be so disgusted.
Hank came to Storm a few days after they'd rescued everyone. The survivors were slowly recovering and gaining strength, and Hank was analyzing the strange compound he'd found in the mutants' blood.
"It's a drug," he reported.
"What kind of drug?" Gambit asked.
"It specifically targets mutants and slows them down, eventually causing them to lose consciousness."
"Like germ warfare?"
"Not exactly, it isn't a disease. But definitely designed to adversely affect mutants," Hank told them. "It was in Rogue's system, too. It's the only explanation as to how an ordinary human with minimal training could have taken her out."
"Ingested?" Storm asked.
"Looks like it only needs physical contact, or it could be airborne."
"Could this be sent out on a mass level?"
"If you're thinking nationwide, I'm going to say no, but in concentrated areas, it could be very problematic."
"Great," Storm said. "Just another problem to deal with."
"We'll deal with it later," Logan said firmly. "Let's deal with the issues we have now."
"We should tell the others, though," Rogue said. Magneto and Mystique had left, though surprisingly, Pyro stayed behind to help with the mutants they'd saved. Polaris, Domino, Emma, Pietro, Wanda and Tabby all left, too. Betsy and Molly decided to stay and help. Warren and Betsy tended to be seen mostly in the other's company.
One by one, the mutants regained their strength. Most were grateful, though some were suspicious and downright hostile. No one could blame them for that. Eventually, the mansion emptied, leaving justr the X-Men, Molly, Betsy, and Pyro. Pyro found Rogue in the rec room shooting pool with Gambit a few days later.
"Hey John," she greeted, sinking another ball into the corner pocket. Gambit shook his head.
"How did yo' get so good at pool?"
"Logan taught me," she said with a shrug. Another ball sunk in. "Oh, I did mention I used to hustle pool, right?" Pyro laughed.
"I forgot how much fun you are to be around," he said.
"You, too," Rogue said with a smile. "Except, you know, that whole 'turning to the Brotherhood of Evil' thing."
"I like how the Brotherhood gets things done," he said simply. "It doesn't mean I dislike you…just Bobby." Rogue and Gambit laughed.
"Dat's ok, mon ami," Gambit assured him. "We aren't too fond of de icicle either."
"Yeah, you know it's the arrogance that really does it for me," Pyro mused. "Which is saying something. I mean, I work with Magneto after all." They all laughed.
"I thought Magneto left Mystique behind when she was 'cured'?" Rogue asked. "I was meaning to ask, how'd she end up back with you guys?"
"Scarily," Pyro shuddered. "There was like, four whole days of yelling. But they're okay now…ish."
"I don't envy yo'."
"Sometimes, I don't either," Pyro answered. He ended up giving Rogue his PO Box number and threatening her with arson if she didn't keep in contact. With a dry smile, she assured him that she would. Pyro left that night. The next day, Molly took off, too. Betsy surprised all of them by shyly asking Storm for permission to stay. Slightly taken aback, Storm quickly recovered and told her she was more than welcome.
"Storm also had the task of tracking down the families of the two deceased mutants, and telling them about the deaths. She brought Logan with her. The first family strongly didn't care, even going as far to say they were glad. Logan cut the legs off all their living room furniture. Though while leaving in their fury, a girl no older than 11 came running out the side door and grabbed Logan's hand. She asked if her big brother had died painfully. Logan promised her that it was like going to sleep. She told them she was scared she was going to be a mutant and her parents would do 'bad things' to her, like they did to her brother. They gave her the institute's address and contact information. The second family was appropriately horrified and requested the body for a proper funeral.
When they returned, Rogue informed them that she and Gambit would be taking off over the weekend on a 'personal errand'. Confused, Storm agreed.
Adrianna and Carl returned to their home around midnight from their date. They were celebrating a fresh start. They'd had wine, lobster, and felt just like they were first dating again. Carl locked up while Adrianna slipped into something 'a little more comfortable'. Carl came up to the bedroom, grin on his face.
"Adrianna?" he called.
"Right here," she answered, slinking in wearing silky lingerie.
"Good, de party's all here." Gambit stepped in from the walk-in closet. Adrianna screamed, lunging for the phone while her husband threw himself in front of her.
"No use calling the cops," Rogue said, strolling into the room, twirling a long fire poker around her fingers. "Phones are down."
"What do you want?"
"Only t' talk, o' course," Gambit answered and took off his sunglasses. Carl hissed and Adrianna screamed again.
"What do you want, mutant?"
"Are you deaf?" Rogue asked, spinning the poker. "We want to chat."
"Well," Gambit amended. "We want t' talk. Yo' need t' listen."
"This is about Toby."
"Toby is no longer a part of our lives," Adrianna said immediately.
"You're not too bright are you?" Rogue snapped. "So you threw your son away. Decided he wasn't worth having, so you dumped him in the middle of a New York street at night."
"Toby was a monster!"
"You BEAT your son because of his genetics! Genetics that came from you. You might as well beat him for having blue eyes! And you think he is the monster?"
Carl and Adrianna just stared at them, eyes wide with fear.
"Let me put dis another way for yo'," Gambit said, waggling a charged card at them. He threw it in the air and Adrianna screamed as it exploded. "Watch out, be careful, try t' curb your bigotry. And never come near Toby again. Friendly words o' advice." Adrianna and Carl nodded very quickly.
"Good. Don't make us come back here."
Adrianna and Carl didn't feel in a very sexy mood for the rest of the night. In fact, they didn't leave their house for the next few days.
Storm and Logan politely didn't ask where they'd gone, though they were obviously curious. Slowly, the X-Men returned to their normal lives. They taught their classes, and eventually, the kids stopped gossiping about what had happened. Betsy approached Warren a few weeks after what they started to call 'that church thing'.
"Warren?" she asked with a knock at the door.
"Oh, Betsy, hi come in." Warren stood.
"Thanks," she said. "I just came from Storm's office. She said there are still no signs of the church regrouping."
"That's good news."
"Yes," Betsy agreed. She twisted her wrists uncomfortably. "I would like to thank you."
"Thank me?" he asked, cocking his head to the side in confusion. "Why?"
"For giving me a chance here, considering…considering what happened."
"I didn't do it lightly," Warren said seriously. "But I understand why you did what you did. Everyone deserves a second chance."
"Still, thank you."
They stood in silence for a moment before Warren spoke.
"Well, we should probably-nph!" His words were cut off when Betsy threw herself at him, lips crashing to his.
Not long after, students were released for the Christmas break, all cautioned about being careful. This also meant that Rogue was being swept out of the mansion and off to New Orleans.
"You're not nervous, are yo'?"
"No of course not," Rogue said dryly. "Just meeting the family of the man I love, no big deal."
"You've already met Henri."
"And he thinks I'm drugging you."
The train ride down was refreshingly short compared to the drive they'd taken last time from New Orleans to New York. Rogue immediately noticed Henri waiting for them at the train station.
"Henri, old man! Yo' have bags under your eyes!"
"Rogue, as I love and breathe!" Henri said, ignoring Gambit's comment. "I half thought Remy as kidding when he said he was bringing yo'."
"Nope, still stuck with me," Rogue said wryly. "I didn't even blackmail him, either." Henri didn't even bother to look ashamed.
"It was a valid theory at de time. Well…still kind o' is."
"Smart ass," Gambit said.
"Keep your eyes to yourself," a pretty blonde woman scolded, coming up next to Henri. "Bonjour, Remy."
"Mercy! Wonderful t' see yo'!"
"I'm sure," she said tolerantly. She turned and shook Rogue's hand. "I'm Mercy. This poisson is my husband."
"Poisson?" Henri asked. "I'm a fish?"
"A very stinky fish," Gambit confirmed. They followed Mercy and Henri to the car. Gambit had tried to take Rogue's bag, but she whacked him with it and said she could carry her own stuff. Mercy laughed, declaring that she liked Rogue. Henri said, "I told you so."
The Guild headquarters was nothing like Rogue had imagined. The building was huge, and it took them two minutes to get from the gates to the front door. Hired help immediately disappeared with their luggage.
"Mon Pére is in a meeting," Gambit explained as they walked into their room. "So we'll be seeing him in an hour or so for dinner. In de meantime, a tour!"
Gambit dragged Rogue all over the massive 'house', pointing out all the places she couldn't go. She was appropriately shocked at the huge pool and grotto in the backyard, swearing that they would be back down there soon. The tour took nearly an hour, so Henri, Mercy and a small woman Gambit introduced as Tante Mattie were already gathered in the dining room. Tante Mattie sized up Rogue and immediately pulled her into a hug.
"Welcome to the family, my dear," she whispered in her ear. Rogue looked at her, astonished.
"Pére!" Gambit jovially said. Rogue turned in time to see him hug a tall man with plenty of silver hair.
"It's good t' see yo', mon fils."
"Yo' too, Pére. I'll try not t' stay away for so long next time."
"Next time?" Jean-Luc asked quizzically. "You're not staying?"
"Non, Rogue and I are needed still," Gambit said. "Oh! Rogue!" He seized her hand and pulled her up to Jean-Luc. "Pére, dis is Rogue. Rogue, dis is mon pére."
"Yo' may call me Jean-Luc," he said, taking her hand and kissing it. "So yo' are de belle filled at has managed t' steal de heart o' mon fils. We probably should give yo' and honorary thief rank for dat."
"I see where Remy gets his abundance of charm from," Rogue said wryly. Jean-Luc threw his head back in laughter.
"Oh, Remy, very good choice!"
Jean-Luc, who professed many times that Rogue was the greatest woman Gambit ever met, was busy most of the time with Guild matters, same with Henri and Mercy. This however, gave Gambit time to drag Rogue all over the city, to favorite views, bars, restaurants, etc. They managed to avoid the restaurant from months ago where they'd met their homicidal waiter.
Nearly a week later, Gambit bounded into the room, his room, that he was sharing with Rogue. There was small package in his hands. He thrust it at Rogue, who raised an eyebrow.
"Well, open it!" he demanded.
"You're a day early," she said, taking the floppy package.
"Oui," he said shrugging. She tore off the paper to reveal a set of bright red lingerie, complete with white fluffy lining to give it a Christmas touch. Rogue raised her eyebrow higher and looked at him.
"Don't worry, chère, I bought something for myself dat matches," he said with a wicked grin.
"I don't doubt that," Rogue laughed. "So, a lingerie man huh?"
"I can be," he said with a shrug. "It mostly depends in de person, and I definitely would love t' see dis on yo'." His tone was very deep and husky by the end of his sentence, sending shivers down her spine. "Yo' don't have t' if yo' don't want t'. Just an option."
Rogue bit her tongue and managed to filter out every smartass comment (she couldn't help that they just kept coming to her). Without a word, she snatched the package up, grabbed another box and marched into the attached bathroom.
"Five minutes," she called over her shoulder. Gambit grinned and changed into the matching red and white Christmas boxers he'd bought. He lounged back on the bed, eyes on the bathroom door and arms behind his head. Minutes later, the door open to reveal Rogue, leaning against the doorframe. Her hair was tousled, brushing against the plunging neckline, which immediately drew Gambit's attention to her voluptuous breasts. Her hand was on her curvy hip, long legs crossed ending in black three inch heels. Gambit's brain was useless, it might as well have been covered in mold.
Rogue sauntered up to the bed and climbed on, crawling on all fours to Gambit. She straddled him and leaned down. Gambit's brain finally kicked in and he seized the back of her neck and kissed her, their tongues dueling for control. The feel of his hardness pressed against her already wet center drew a moan from her. Gambit groaned and ground himself against her.
"Wait," he managed to mutter.
"What?" Rogue asked, biting his neck. Gambit groaned again and rolled out from under her. He crossed the room and set the elaborate locks on the door.
"It won't stop dem, but it'll send a clear message." He turned to see Rogue, standing on the edge of the bed, feet apart and hands on her hips. "Mon dieu," he breathed. He wrapped his hands around the back of her thighs, rubbing his hands up and down her smooth skin.
"Yo' like t' tease me, don't yo'?"
She grinned. "Possibly."
"I can work wit' dat." He pulled her thighs so she fell back onto the bed. He crawled over her, pinning her under him. Rogue wrapped her legs around his waist as he bit and kissed her neck. Moaning, she reached between them to pull down his boxers, only to have him take her hands and pin them above her head. She whimpered and he moved from her neck to her chest, using his free hand to pull down the front of the red lace.
Rogue bucked against him, gasping as he licked a trail to her breast, taking and rolling a nipple in his mouth. He moved to the other nipple, already hard and sensitive.
"Remy," she moaned, the wetness between her legs growing. He let go of her hands so he could move lower, spreading her legs. He gave her a long, slow lick. Rogue grasped the headboard with a hiss. He slid a finger into her, so wet and slick already. His mouth found her clit, and he alternated between running his tongue over the sensitive spot, and gently sucking, all while starting a steady rhythm with his fingers inside her. When she started to tighten up, he pulled away, leaving her whimpering. Until she felt him at her entrance.
He pinned her hands down again, and pushed inside her. Screaming, she writhed under him, unable to stay still. Gambit pulled slowly out until only the tip of him was inside her, before thrusting back in. Again, and again. Rogue twisted her arms and grabbed his wrists as she felt the weight building between her legs.
"Oh god," she moaned. "Remy. Remy. Remy. Remy. Remy!" She screamed as she came, squeezing her legs around his waist. Her inner muscles spasming brought Gambit to his breaking point and with two final thrusts, he came, moaning her name.
Breathing hard, Gambit collapsed on the bed next to her and snaked an arm around her, pulling her into his side. He finally spoke when they'd both had enough time to recover and their lungs were functioning properly again.
"I told yo' dat yo' would enjoy Christmas wit' me."
"Oh I definitely enjoy you," Rogue assured him. Gambit rolled over to his ringing cell phone.
"Would yo' mind giving us some warning before yo' take your fille to bed? Some of us were trying t' eat lunch and it's very difficult to eat a bratwurst to a live porno soundtrack."
"Well yo' shouldn't be eating a bratwurst. We aren't at a barbeque Henri!"
"I'll eat a bratwurst when I want t', damn it!"
"Whatever makes yo' happy mon frère, but you'd better not tell Mercy."
Rogue was more than prepared to sleep in on Christmas morning, but she should have known that wasn't in Gambit's plan. It was 6:30 AM when Gambit yanked the blankets from the bed. Rogue shot up, her naked body suddenly very cold.
"Remy," she growled dangerously. "It's 6:30 in the morning!"
"It's Christmas, chère!"
"It's 6:30 in the morning!"
"Presents, breakfast, cookies!"
"It's 6:30 in the morning!"
"I'll give yo' a half hour."
Gambit turned around and left, presumably to harass more members of his family. He took her blankets with him. Grumbling, Rogue pulled herself out of bed to rummage through the drawers for something to wear. By the time she got on pajamas and a robe, Rogue wasn't nearly as sleepy as she'd been. That ticked her off, she would much rather be in bed. Gambit waltzed back in and swept Rogue into his arms, kissing her passionately. This took the edge off of Rogue's annoyance, but she was still cranky.
"Come on, breakfast! Den presents!" He wrapped her in his arms and kissed the top of her head. "Merry first Christmas." She smiled up at him and let him lead her to where the family was assembled, munching on breakfast. Henri looked like Gambit had dragged him bodily from bed, though Mercy looked very well put together for it being 7:00 AM, in a long silk robe.
"You are entirely too pretty for it being 7:00," Rogue grumbled, pulling her hair into a sloppy bun. Mercy smiled.
"You're entirely too sweet to be with this freak," she said, nodding at Gambit. He flicked a blueberry at her. "REMY LEBEAU IF YOU STAIN THIS SILK ROBE-"
"Let's relax," Jean-Luc said from the head of the table. "We shouldn't waste dis breakfast."
Gambit grinned at Mercy, before starting in on his french toast. The LeBeaus and Rogue, who Jean-Luc insisted was part of the family now, slowly gained energy as they ate. Henri was lounging in his chair, casually picking at his teeth when Gambit yanked Rogue out of her chair.
"Presents!" Gambit yelled over his shoulder. He dragged Rogue into a secluded family room. There was a grand tree decorated in silver tinsel, lights and purple baubles. Dozens of presents in different shapes and sizes were littered underneath.
Henri, Mercy, Tante Mattie and Jean-Luc followed a few seconds later. They crowded in the room, taking seats on the soft furniture. Gambit sat on the ground, tossing presents to family members.
"Careful!" Tante Mattie scolded. "You don't know what's in there, it could be breakable." Gambit kept with he'd bought for last.
Mercy opened a beautiful pair of diamond earrings, courtesy of Henri. Rogue gave Henri and Mercy a whip and pair of handcuffs, much to their embarrassment and Gambit's delight. Jean-Luc bestowed upon Rogue a fake ID, birth certificate, school and housing records, the works.
"Oh wow," Rogue said, slightly unsure how to respond. "Thank you, this probably took a lot of effort."
"Not too much," Jean-Luc waved her off. "I can guarantee you that it will come in handy if you keep dating my son."
They all laughed at that. "Plus, it's fun."
When nearly all the presents were done, Gambit grabbed his gifts for people from under the tree, first passing one to Mercy and Henri. Henri opened it while Mercy stood behind him, sipping on a glass of orange juice.
"Wow Remy!" Henri exclaimed. He inspected the extravagantly expensive bottle of wine. "Dis is incredible! Mercy and I will love dis!" Mercy sighed dramatically behind Henri.
"Henri will enjoy it thoroughly," she corrected.
"Finally admitting you're an alcoholic, Mercy?" Gambit teased.
"No you useless little Cajun," Mercy retorted calmly.
"Oh den what?" Gambit asked. Mercy turned to the side and pulled her billowing robe taught across her belly, revealing a small but very noticeable bump.
"Aw Mercy, it's not dat bad, just start watching what yo' eat and yo' will be fine," Henri said absently. Gambit threw an almond at him with a laugh. Mercy rapped him on the back of the head.
"Ow! What, woman?" He turned and looked closer and gaped like a fish. "Yo'…us…we…really?"
"Yes," Mercy said smirking.
"I…" Henri was frozen for a few moments before leaping over the back of the couch and swinging Mercy around, hugging her. "YES!" They all laughed and offered their congratulations. "Who would've thought that I beat Remy!"
"Who said you did?" Rogue said with an eyebrow waggle. Gambit turned to her, slack jawed and eyes wide. "Oh close your mouth Cajun, you're safe." Jean-Luc boomed his laughter and gave Rogue a nod of approval. Gambit poked an accusing finger at her.
"Next time yo' say dat, yo' better be knocked up," he scolded
"Next time?" Rogue asked, eyebrow raised.
"Oui." The entire room was silent, even Henri hadn't spoken.
"You want to have kids with me?"
"Oui," he said simply. "Eventually. And I probably shouldn't have discussed dis wit' yo' for de first time in front o' my family… Let's go back to celebrating wit' Henri and Mercy and asking dem about due dates and doctor's appointments!" Rogue's mind however, was still on what Gambit had let slip. He wanted to start a family with her.
After the fuss over Mercy and Henri died down, Gambit continued handing out the rest of his gifts. Tante Mattie received and ornate pearl necklace, while Jean-Luc was gifted a horrendously ugly wool sweater with snowmen all over it. And what amounted to a year's supply of his favorite cigars. Last was Rogue. He handed her the slim box, which she took apprehensively. She always felt vaguely uncomfortable receiving gifts, unsure how to respond. Tearing at the paper, she was very aware of everyone's eyes on her. She flipped the lid off the box, jaw dropping.
"Remy!" The velvet lined box cushioned a delicate silver chain. Hanging on the chain was a swirling circular pendant, with a bright shining emerald in the middle of it. Rogue's eyes were nearly popping out of her head. "It's incredible! I – thank you!"
Gambit leaned over and kissed her hand, staring up at her. "Den it suits yo' perfectly."
The rest of the trip passed quickly. Gambit was definitely going to miss his home in New Orleans, but he was surprisingly happy to be going back to New York with Rogue. He liked that they had their own space away from his family. Though technically, it wasn't really a place of their own since the rest of the X-Men were there, too. Hm. Maybe he'd have to do something about that soon.
Toby recovered fairly well, he was still traumatized over what his family did to him, though. Sarah was spending a lot of time with him, trying to help him. Gambit was pleased with this, it gave Sarah some measure of calm, knowing she was doing something good. She and Toby were both opening up a lot more.
Storm was relieved that Betsy had stayed on, she even agreed to take on a few classes. Logan was relieved, an anxious Storm was one of the few things he actually worried about dealing with.
Gambit's words at Christmas still stuck with Rogue, though neither of them had brought it up yet. He wanted her to have his kids. Someday. She wasn't quite sure how she felt about that, she hadn't exactly grown up with good parental role models to draw from. So she would follow his lead, and worry about it someday. As of now, he loved her, wholly and completely, and she loved him right back. That was more than enough for both of them, and more than expected.
All done! Once again, thank you to everyone who reviewed, added this to their watch lists and favorites!