1982

He had always loved Bella Donna in a sense. After all, when a man knew a woman his whole life, when said man was expected to love said woman- betrothed to her even, the man couldn't really help but to love her.

Of course, at his young, restless age; he'd convinced himself it was more than that. He and Bella Donna weren't in love because they had to be, they were in love because they were meant to be. The things that made their relationship work were simple: they both wanted a family some day, for Remy that day was far, far away, they both wanted to unite the guilds, they both…well, there wasn't much more to it. All he knew was that he loved her and that they were happy making their little home.

Or maybe he hadn't loved her then. Maybe he hadn't truly loved her until later on, when he'd come home and found her in the kitchen; carefree and innocent in a way he hadn't seen her in years.

Yes, the more he thought about it, he could pinpoint the exact day his heart swelled and he thought to himself: This could be it, homme. She could be the one; forever. No one else.

Her hair, like tresses made of gold, was piled atop her head; pins stuck through it to keep it in place. A bandana kept her bangs back, she wore a stained shirt, baggy cargo shorts, and the ratty blue sandals she'd bought at a flea market.

Her hips swayed back and forth to the ragged ecstasy of Patti Smith; she danced while mopping their wooden floors.

She did not stop her movement when she noticed his presence. Instead she held out her arms invitingly and he'd laughed, joining her with a glow in his red eyes.

He held her tight, and they swirled through the kitchen and into the dining room and eventually they landed in their bedroom; mouths seared together; hands reaching and searching.

.

She'd asked him once what he loved about her, and he tried dodging the question. "I love everyt'ing about y', Bella. Don' ask me to choose one t'ing."

"Well I'm askin' y' to," she'd said stubbornly, a fierce gleam in her eyes of blue and lilac.

"Y' eyes," he'd answered quickly.

He could tell by the slump in her shoulders that he'd not said the right thing.

.

In the second year of their marriage everything went wrong. Guild traditions and arguing families stretched their loyalty away from each other, and instead of clinging to one another they clung to their respective families. He took the Thieves' side on most issues and she took the Assassins' side. Her brother Julian picked fights with him; his père never approved of her, and it made for bitter, heated arguments that, for once, they could not solve with a simple make-up fuck.

They were falling apart and Remy didn't want them to, but he felt helpless; miserable. He loved his wife, he had since childhood. But if that were the case, why was he finding relief when she came home late at night and left early in the morning? To his shame, he didn't care where she went or what she did when she got there, he didn't care that they talked less and less and avoided each other more and more.

.

In the third year of their marriage, Remy fully realized the severity of his situation. He realized that he'd made a horrible mistake and that what he and Bella had wasn't enough to make a relationship work. He'd been young when they'd gotten married; barely twenty years old. He hadn't known what marriage was, what it took to keep it going, to keep it fresh and alive.

He was a young man feeling trapped and desolate and he wanted out.

.

But life seemed to have other plans.

.

Bella Donna cornered him in the kitchen one day with tears in her eyes and displeasure around her mouth and told him in a flat tone that she was pregnant.

He'd gone silent, his whole plan was thrown off course. He felt the strings; like hooks in his skin, tightening. There was no way he could leave her, not with his seed blossoming in her womb.

"It's okay, Bella." He'd taken her in his arms; always the strong one, always the comforting one. "I'll take care of y' an' our bebe. Don' y' worry about nothin'."

.

Remy knew he and his wife didn't belong together; it was obvious. Every day their passion grew more stale and brittle. There were more forced smiles and awkward kisses shared between them than he'd liked to admit, even to himself, and the feeling that his youth was being wasted, sucked away even; made their relationship grow all the more resentful.

.

But maybe fate didn't think they belonged together, either, because in the fourth month of her pregnancy Bella Donna miscarried, and through her tears and his depression, all-consuming relief was apparent on both of their faces.

.

And as he mounted his bike and looked back at his wife; his wife with billowing sunshine hair and gorgeous eyes and tan, toned skin, Remy knew they'd done the right thing. Had they stayed together, hate and acrimony would have grown abundant between them- and Remy couldn't stand the thought of hating his Bella.

"I t'ink I knew years ago dat y' an' I could never be," she'd whispered. There had been tears in her eyes, but they were tears of liberation; not regret. "I asked what y' loved about me, remember?"

He'd nodded hesitantly; not understanding the point in rehashing old pains instead of just saying their goodbye's and walking away.

"Y' couldn't answer me. Y' made somet'ing up an' left it at dat."

His feet itched to lift from the ground so that he could speed away and pretend there had never been such a thing as 'Remy and Belle', or 'Bella and Rems'. Just 'Remy' and 'Bella Donna'; separate people that had nothing between them, people that had never mistook love for friendship and lust, people that could look each other in the eyes without cringing and inevitably thinking about what could have been.

"Wanna know what my answer would have been?"

He'd looked at her; truly looked at her; and what he saw was a lonely girl; searching endlessly for something that could fill the void of Daddy's love.

She didn't wait for his answer.

"I would have said I loved de way de red in y' eyes glowed when y' laughed, I would have said I loved de way de corner of y' mouth lifted jus' so when you'd done somethin' y' knew was wrong, I would have said I loved de way you snuck cayenne in Mattie's gumbo, I would have said I loved de way y' tangled y' fingers in my hair when we made love."

He was taken aback; he was speechless.

"Belle- I do love y'..."

She shook her head as if she pitied him, and walked away.

As it turned out; his love alone was not enough.

1988

Remy was what his Tante used to refer to as 'touched'. He sensed things and saw things that others just didn't; not because they couldn't, but because along with technology, science, and medical advances came rationalism, and it took over; shoving ghosts, spells, and sixth senses to dark corners and haunted villages.

New Orleans was one of those dark corners and haunted villages.

It crawled with supernatural whispers and thrummed with eerie light. Prostitutes on street corners wore garlic to keep away les chasseurs de sang; mothers sprinkled herbs on the heads of their enfants to prevent animal deities from growing beneath their skin; old women scrubbed their porches with gris-gris to repel black magic and negative forces.

Remy knew the place like he knew his cards; he thrived.

.

On a cool night in September; les esprits murmured their wise words in his ear and sure enough, not five minutes later; a wild man with wild eyes (he'd find out later from shady sources his real name was James; and find out even later he'd started going by Logan) burst into the decrepit, seductive night club and demanded to see Gambit.

He'd taken another languid gulp of his bourbon; his red orbs pulsated with excitement and glowed through the contacts he wore. The thrill of the chase he was sure would ensue caused his palms to sweat and his pants to tighten.

While his poker opponents and on-lookers scrambled away, he simply cocked an arrogant smirk and tilted his head to the side. He could see that the lazy, not-so-innocent once over he gave the man made him uncomfortable.

"An' who, M'seu, is askin'? S'not safe to throw de name 'Gambit' around in dese parts."

The man growled. He didn't glower or even snarl; he growled; and Remy knew that the man: in his tight flannel shirt and form-fitting jeans, would end up in the bed of the Ragin' Cajun, and that he would growl for reasons completely different than why he did just then.

"Are you Gambit or not?" The gruff voice that fell from the man's proud mouth sounded like tires on gravel.

Remy wanted his cock in that proud mouth.

He stood lazily and performed a dramatic bow. "Mais oui, I am de Gambit. At y' service."

Quick reflexes aside, Remy's spatial sense spider-webbed the locations around him; he felt every movement and change in the air like a tiny pull on his limbs. So when the man's powerful fist moved to hit him; Remy's body reacted while his mind stayed detached.

The man was obviously surprised by how swiftly the rat before him could move, but he hesitated only a second before he struck again; this time with his claws at the ready.

Remy cart wheeled and landed nimbly on the bar; the glass broke beneath his weight and sent flickering shards across the floor. His bo-staff was extended and its surface shone with the lights of the club.

"Let's see how y' metal stands up against mine, pourquoi ne pas?" Remy licked his lips. He was going to thoroughly enjoy stripping the man of his bristly pride and making him the proverbial putty in his notorious, thieving hands.

The man charged with a fierce cry; just as Remy expected, and the Cajun flung a charged card at the man's feet- he didn't want to hurt his petit loup too badly.

He would soon come to find; as the man stood from the rubble and his wounds faded, that he had no need to hold himself back. He could turn this man into a living bomb, he could touch every one of his sleek claws and fill them with kinetic energy, he could scratch, scrape, kick, punch, and it wouldn't make a difference. The man would just keep coming for more.

The thought caused Remy to grow even more aroused.

.

The man grunted as Remy ground his boot fiercely in his stomach, and shook his head. "This would be so much damn easier if you would just tell me where Stryker is-"

The name chilled all of the hot, leaping emotions that had, just a few moments ago, been running rampant up and down his body.

The momentary lapse proved to have injurious consequences, and Remy found himself pinned beneath the man. But the mention of his ex-captor's name made the close proximity hollow. Remy's fun was over; in fact, the man above him became loathsome in his eyes. Remy couldn't even consider him a proper conquest anymore.

And so he pushed away all of his plans, fantasies, and good humor, and shoved the man off with one, immense explosion.

He turned and ran through the freshly made hole in the wall.

He would never let Stryker get his clammy hands on him again, and anyone looking for the villain was no friend of Remy's.

.

He'd reached the fire escape; his escape, when he saw the men surround his petit loup.

His brain screamed at him to keep going. Remember the island, it said.

But the feral man had already infected Remy like a fever ignored for too long; there was no way he could relieve himself of the man so easily.

.

They fought together in startling familiarity. Their bodies reacted to each other in perfect sync. Their sweat mingled and their breathing matched. Remy recognized the connection of their movements as foreshadowing of what was to come in a more intimate setting.

"Call me Wolverine," the man managed as they ran together through the streets of the French Quarter.

Remy grinned. "Pleasure t' meet y'."

.

They reached his apartment and Remy swung open the door and waved Wolverine inside with a flourish.

"Welcome t' my humble abode." Despite his own raggedy appearance, Remy was quite clean and his home showed the fact.

There were no dishes on the gleaming counter tops, paintings and artwork (Wolverine had a sneaking suspicion Gambit hadn't received them legally) hung tastefully from the walls or sat just so on wooden in-tables. Lit candles and burning essence made for a seductive atmosphere that both sickened and stimulated the Canadian.

"Thirsty?" Remy flipped open cupboards without pausing for an answer and retrieved two wine glasses.

Wolverine's fist slammed against the granite tabletop. "I know all about you, punk. I know you know how to get to Three Mile Island, so fess up. I need to find Stryker." Remy could hear the desperation ringing in the man's gravely voice.

Memories of scalpels against flesh and blinding lights in his eyes filled Remy's mind; and he hummed a jazzy tune to himself while fixing the drinks.

He set a glass in front of Wolverine and tsk-tsked. "Y' need to learn a little virtue called patience, homme."

Wolverine knocked the glass from the table; it hit the floor with a clash and spewed wine across Remy's boots. The man stood up; grabbing Remy's collar as he did so. His hazel eyes held a pain Remy was familiar with; and he sipped his drink daintily.

"Ah. Remy understand now. Dis is about une fille, ain't it Wolverine?"

He nodded.

"Is she worth it?" Remy hoped he would say no; he leant in closer to the man's warmth.

The question obviously angered him. "She's worth everything. I'll never let her go!"

Remy locked his gaze with the other man's and searched. He said: "I take y' dere an' den I disappear, comprenez?"

He nodded and released Remy's silk shirt from his grasp. "Thank you, Gambit."

Remy bit his lip and glared at the floor. "Don' y' dare t'ank m', jus' be sure y' kill dat bâtard."

Something near brutality overtook Wolverine's face and he smirked grimly. "That, Gumbo, is something I can do."

.

He knew the man's heart belonged to another; he knew the man was broken and vulnerable, but those thoughts alone were not enough to quench the raw, heated need in his gut. He'd wanted Wolverine from first glance; and he might never get the chance again. The odds of Wolverine's survival were low, regenerative capabilities or none.

Wolverine pushed away his advances with rough words and ferocious threats, but Remy had expected as much.

"Why do you wear those things in your eyes," Wolverine said as Remy mounted him on the bed. He seemed mesmerized with his crimson and onyx orbs; and was disgusted with himself because of it.

"Brown eyes are less conspicuous den dese, wouldn't y' agree?" He stroked the man through his flannel shirt and tight jeans with the flair of an expert. He could feel the low rumble in Wolverine's chest.

He discarded his coat and shirt on the floor. Wolverine's rough and blistered hands went over Remy's rippling chest and stomach; he could smell the Cajun's arousal.

Before he could react; Remy was pinned on his stomach; Wolverine's hot lips nibbled his ear and his erection pressed against Remy's taunt backside. There was a snikt and a rush of air; and then Remy's jeans were torn away from his body and thrown across the room.

Remy reached from behind and deftly unzipped the man's pants; he couldn't help but reach his hand in the opening and touch what he wanted so badly to be inside of him. Wolverine answered with a groan; and Remy's control began to slip.

"Table," he rasped, and wordlessly; Wolverine wrapped his hand around the lubricant Remy had been pointing to.

And Wolverine's animalistic instincts and Remy's exquisite loving techniques took over; Remy's earlier premonition proved true.

.

Remy joked and annoyed Wolverine during the entire flight. It was a nervous habit; and though Wolverine snapped at him he knew it was, too.

Remy silently hoped that the man, his man, would abandon the crazy endeavor and pull him close like he had the night before.

But Wolverine was a type of brave Remy could never hope or try to be; and he went toward his certain demise.

.

It took a total of five minutes before Remy turned the clanking jet around; back towards the hell he'd been trapped in a few, short years ago.

He was so hopelessly in love with Wolverine that he couldn't help but laugh at himself and the pounding of his foolish heart. He would save the Wolverine and maybe they could live happily ever after.

Remy was so battle-hardened he didn't even believe his own wishful lie.

.

He found Wolverine beneath a concrete slab and pulled him to his feet. "Come on, we have t' get outta here!" He was panicking; the feds were coming and he hated the feds.

Wolverine snatched his hand back and stared at the woman at his feet. "Who am I," he murmured. "Who is she?"

"Doesn't matter. Come, follow m'-"

"I don't remember anything!" He was becoming hysterical. "Why can't I remember anything?"

Remy's posture softened and he reached for the terrified man. "Y' Wolverine, y' came to kill Stryker. Y' an' I are…" What could he call their arrangement? He didn't want to scare the guy away- "friends. Trust me, I'll tell y' everyt'ing once we leave-"

Wolverine looked back down at the woman; into her deep, lifeless eyes. "I can figure things out on my own. I don't need you," he spat.

Remy knew from experience that a frying pan to the back of the head throbbed less. He stared at the man; expecting him to turn around and hold him at any minute.

He didn't; and the sound of guns reached his ears. He had no choice but to retreat.

He'd thought that maybe Wolverine would see the adoration in his eyes and forget about the past and look toward the future they could have had together.

As it turned out; his love alone was not enough.

1996

Her face was too sweet; her eyes were too trusting and warm. "Come inside, let me take care of you."

He had a sixth sense about things; she was no exception. He felt her goodness and her purity- and he knew he didn't deserve it. For years he'd wallowed in filth and sin; whatever humanity he had left after the drugs burned him up and the drinks pushed him down was gone then, or at least buried so deep he had no chance of reaching it on his own.

She took all that in on that summer day: his greasy, matted down hair, the puffiness under his eyes and the thinness of his cheeks, the stench of his clothing; which seemed to grow more foul as he lay on the steps, letting the sun bake him alive.

And still she did not look away. She did just the opposite- she let her grey eyes drink in his pitiful state; yet she did not judge.

He felt her cool, smooth hands on his forehead.

"Tout-puissant et éternel de Dieu, l'éternel salut de ceux qui croient, écoutez-nous, au nom de ton serviteur malade, N., pour qui nous prions l'aide de ta pitié pitié, qui, avec sa santé physique restauré, il peut donner Merci à toi dans ton église. Par le Christ notre Seigneur. Amen."(1)

She prayed for him. He wept; because she was praying for him and he wanted to tell her so badly that there was no point; that his soul was long beyond saving and that he'd done things so horrible; so blood-chillingly cruel and selfish, that certainly God had long ago forsaken him. He had no hope because there was nothing to hope for. He was a failure and a scoundrel; his insides were crusted over from bitter hate and the blood of his victims; with the blood of virgins, with the juices of sex he'd so easily given away. No amount of scrubbing could cleanse Le Diable Blanc.

The daylight streamed down behind her that day on the steps of the St. Louis cathedral; she looked like un ange. Was she one? Did he truly have a guardian? He was too delirious to discern otherwise.

"Come inside," she'd said. "Let me take care of you."

And Remy was too broken and sick to refuse.

.

He vomited until his throat began to bleed. He sweated at night but remained so very cold. He saw things that weren't there and sometimes he unintentionally hurt her. He didn't eat or sleep; he could barely function on his own: he went through all the pain and embarrassments of withdrawal, and she kept a constant vigil at his side, her grey eyes big and patient and calming to the fire beneath his skin.

There were times he almost walked away and gave into the monster growing weaker and weaker in his veins; she would not let him. And when he had those weak moments, she guided his head to her lap; and he laid there on her black robe and wept from the horrible aching throughout his entire frame.

She held her rosary and prayed: "Tout-puissant et éternel de Dieu, l'éternel salut de ceux qui croient, écoutez-nous, au nom de ton serviteur malade, N., pour qui nous prions l'aide de ta pitié pitié, qui, avec sa santé physique restauré, il peut donner Merci à toi dans ton église. Par le Christ notre Seigneur. Amen."

Always the same prayer; always in the beautiful melody that was her voice.

.

It wasn't hard for Remy to fall in love with Katrina (he wouldn't understand the irony of her name until years later)(2). She helped him and accepted him in a way no one had ever done.

He would often lose himself in the agony and unknowingly confess his sins to her. Though her mouth would sometimes part in a silent cry and tears would fill those big grey eyes; she still told him he was a child of God and that if he wanted to, he could be saved.

She constantly prayed for him in that hushed; flurried way of hers. She fought harder for his soul than he ever even thought of fighting.

.

He asked her once what she was saying; he heard the words and they filled his brain but his thought process was too fried and muddled to understand.

She laughed and it was like tinkling bells. "A prayer for healing, Remy. Shame on you!"

Ashamed he was. "S' been a long time since dis Cajun been t' mass, petite."

She took his blistered, wary hands in hers and smiled. "Would you like to re-learn?"

He nodded eagerly; he wanted to prove himself in her eyes more than anything.

They leafed through the bible every afternoon until he was better; his head resting on her knee as he listened to her mellifluous voice.

.

He'd been clean for a month and a half when he decided he needed to stand on his own two feet.

"Katrina," She'd allowed him to drop the 'Sister' from her name weeks prior, "Come wit m'." He was ready to leave the church, but he wasn't ready to leave his savior.

"Remy," there was true regret in her grey eyes, "you know that I cannot do that, mon ami. The church is my life."

His chest brushed against hers, he tugged at her headdress and her sweet-smelling; strawberry blonde hair fell to cascade around her shoulders. He wrapped his arms around her before she could turn and flee.

"Let m' be y' life, Katrina." He felt her stature going lax; he knew what he was doing to her, he'd seen the way she looked at him in the time they'd been together. "Y' know how I feel about y'-"

"There is only one man I can allow into my life," it was the first time her voice held any real harshness in it. She pushed him away and made to leave. "And you are not him. I must go."

More swiftly than she thought possible; Remy stepped behind her and pressed his lips against her smooth neck.

"Y' don' mean dat, an' we both know it." His hands whispered above her hips and waist. He kneaded soft circles in her flesh and his warm breath sent shivers across her entire form.

Somewhere deep inside, he knew what he was doing was wrong. He knew her religion was all she had and that, if this happened, she'd never forgive herself.

He also knew his hypnotic eyes and deep timbre could woo any woman; a nun was no exception.

.

She was thin and delicate. Her breasts were small but the endless landscape of smooth, virginal skin more than made up for the lack in curves. Her blonde lashes caught up the sunlight and made the grey in her eyes smolder.

He left kisses on her jaw and collarbone, she was flushed all over.

"Do you truly love me?" She'd looked at him; he was too busy marveling at her beauty to pay full attention.

"I love y', Katrina. More den anyone I've ever met." He wasn't lying. The strange fluttering in his chest had never occurred with Bella Donna or Wolverine or any of the others.

Instead of joy on her pixkie-like features he saw a sort of reserved sadness, and she nodded.

And he took all she had and murmured confessions of love into her ears.

.

He woke with a note and a necklace on the pillow next to him; Katrina was no where in sight.

He knew without a doubt that she'd left him and that there night of passionate love making was no more than a temporary fall from grace and curiosity on her part. She'd gotten a glimpse of carnal pleasures from a true professional, but just a glimpse. She wanted no more.

I'll pray for both of us, the note said. The silver cross dangling from the chain seemed to burn his fingers.

He slipped it over his head anyways; and looked out the window. Bitter tears seared trails down his cheeks and the hurricane of his emotions whipped around violently within him. He was alone in the cold, cold room. She wasn't there to comfort him this time and it was all his fault. Would he never learn? Every bond he formed- no matter how pure; would ultimately turn to ruin because of who he was.

He would be alone forever; the devil was not meant to have companions.

Katrina had her religion, and for to her it was enough. She didn't need him, he'd been arrogant to assume his feelings of love and craving were mirrored by her.

As it turned out; his love alone was not enough.

2007

He met Rogue for the first time completely by accident. He hadn't been looking for anything; he'd given up on finding love years before, but there she was- small and intrigueing. What he saw at first was less than attractive: She'd been standing in line for 'the cure'; shivering in an oversized coat and pretending the curses and protests from the other side had no effect on her. The gentle curve of her nose was bright red from the cold, her thin arms were wrapped around her thin body. She was a skinny little waif of a woman about to make the biggest mistake of her life.

Never one to ignore a fille in trouble; Remy made his way through the crowds and signs and tapped her on the shoulder.

She spun around with a scowl on her face and he was startled by her beauty, though she wasn't his type. She was bitter, this one, and he knew from past experiences to avoid bitter women. Her hair (the freaky dye job and heavy make-up really didn't work for her) and eyes were darker than he liked; her skin, while tempting, was too pale to make his mouth water.

And she was too young, much too young.

"What?" He liked the shape of her upper lip and the plumpness of her bottom one and the way she made no attempt at hiding her impatience.

He raised his eyebrow. A southern spitfire, hm? "I couldn't help but notice y' standin' here, Chére, an' I must say dis ain't a place for a sweet t'ing like-"

"Ah have a boyfriend." She turned back around with a roll of her eyes and a click of her boot. "...Pervert," she muttered under her breath.

He stood there in shock before a slow grin spread across his mouth. He felt young and playful in a way he hadn't for years; he wanted to see that angry blush sweep across her cheeks again.

"Dat boyfriend a' yo's know y' here?"

He noted the sharpening of her shoulders, but she did not give a response.

He tapped her again; she knocked his hand away with a swift movement of her gloved hand. "Look, buddy-" Her eyes snapped with attitude and a hidden depth that looked almost familiar. "All it takes is one touch- and you're outta comission. Do ya really wanna continue messin' with me?"

He laughed in her face outright. "Sounds like quite de handy mutation y' got dere. Why y' tryin' to get rid of it?"

Her anger shrank and her lids became heavy; as if she'd forgotten where she was and the realization of what she was about to do began to choke her. "Ya wouldn't understand," she whispered, "and Ah don't owe a complete stranger an explanation." The fierceness was back, and she turned back around.

He was nearly disappointed. "Jus' thought y' looked different den de rest of dese cowards; guess I was wrong." He shoved his hands in the deep pockets of his trench and kept walking.

"Guess ya were." Her words got caught in the wind; he didn't hear her.

.

He thought of the girl at times, but only fleetingly. If he saw a waterfall of dark hair he took a second look; if he heard a husky voice he listened harder, but he soon forgot all about the spitfire with the sexy lips.

.

Until Ororo; someone he'd hoped to avoid despite moving back to New York, tracked down his number and left him a message:

Remy? It's Oro- it's Storm. Her breathing was heavy and her tone reluctant. Listen, I heard you were back up North and I decided to give you a call because I, well I-

He winced and ran his hand over his face. Years apart could do a lot of damage; he never thought he'd see the day when it would be awkward between himself and Stormy. He basically raised the girl during her first few years in America.

I need your help. As you know, Jean, Scott, and Charles passed away recently- He remembered nights of pickpocketing with Ororo and popcorn wars between him and Jean and witty banter with Scott.

She'd been shy and so very sweet back then; she sounded so cold now. There aren't enough of us. If you could come back we'd pay you in full and- He didn't listen to the rest. She knew he couldn't come back to the X-men. Not after The Massacre, and Sinister, and Sage- Please just give me a call.

He roared in anger and punched a hole through the cheap cabinet.

He ended up calling her back anyway. Maybe he wasn't as ready to live a lonely life as he'd originally thought.

.

He pulled into the circular drive in the wee hours of the morning; when he knew nosy kids and old friends were asleep.

He remembered every nook and cranny. Call it the memory of a thief, but Remy thought it was so familiar because he'd done this same thing- snuck through the garage hours before dawn as quietly as possible- so many times in the past that it was forever stuck in his long term memory.

Their security hadn't got any better; and he found himself inside the garage within minutes. He'd have to remind Cyke- a numbing ache began spreading in his chest. He'd never get to annoy Scott again, would he?

He made his way to the door, but paused as he heard muffled music and a hushed sniffling. Curious, Remy dropped his bag where he stood and snuck through the spaces between the cars.

He peeked his head aound the last vehicle and there she was. The year had been good to her. There was color in her skin, she glowed. Her hair was shorter, to her breasts instead of her waist, her make-up was still a tad dark, but nothing compared to the extremeties of the year before.

She was even more beautiful; if at all possible, but her eyes were empty and it wasn't because of the half-empty bottle of vodka in her bare hand.

She saw him, and she laughed. She laughed, but she still cried and her head shook in disbelief and she motioned for him to come closer. "Ah've had a shitty night, and Ah thought to myself: Rogue gal-"

Her name was Rogue. It suited her.

"-you've had a shitty month and shitty weeks and shitty days and maybe, God will run out of shit to throw at ya and for once, just once, ya won't get the shitty end of the deal." She laughed again; he winced at the bitter sound. "But guess what? There was still plenty of shit to fling around and I found him; Ah found Bobby-" She took another swig in lieu of the words she could not speak. "And then there's you. Never thought Ah'd have to see ya again."

His eyes glowed in the dark and he wanted to walk away. The weak, sniveling thing disgusted him; he despised her because she reminded him too much of himself: broken, sarcastic, feeling sorry, and on the road to self-destruction.

She looked at him; her gaze was unfocused. "Ever been cheated on?" She slapped her hand against her forehead. "Stupid question. You're probably the one who does the cheatin', am Ah right?"

He walked away from the weeping woman and slept in the den.

.

She found him after dinner two days later with a red face, but proud shoulders. "Ah'm sorry about the other night. Ah was really drunk and angry, it had nothin' to do with ya."

He shrugged and turned back to watching the stars. "Y' still wit 'im?"

She staggered back as if in pain, but when he looked at her, recklessness leaked from every pore on her body. "Ah'm not." She bit her lip. "Ah'm not with anyone."

He had the decency to warn her. "Don' wanna get involved wit de likes a' Gambit. S'not good company for a sweet fille such as y'self."

She sat next to him and pulled her knees against her chest. "Sweet, huh?" He noted once again the depths of her eyes. "You're not the only one who thinks so." She licked her lips; he couldn't help but watch the movement and want her.

"Ah don't know why, Ah'm the opposite really."

"Is dat so?" His hand went to her hip; his thumb stroked her there. "If y' want t' be treated like y' grown, I'll do dat. Mais it's gonna hurt, an' y' gonna get scarred. Y' gonna hate me when it's all said an' done; I'm sure Stormy's tol' y' my reputation."

Her voice shook. "Ah don't care who ya are, and Ah don't care where your from. Ah want to hurt him like he hurt me." She leant closer. "Ah don't wanna be thought of us innocent, Gambit. Bobby took my innocence away and it ain't never comin' back."

He could taste vengeance in the air; he could see hatred in her stance. She came closer; he knew he couldn't push her away, he couldn't turn down what a pretty girl offered so readily.

He couldn't, even after all these years, take the higher road and save a heart.

She smirked. "You touched my skin that day in line. Remember that day? It was so brief you didn't notice it, but it was enough. Your voice felt different, it didn't hurt as much."

He didn't understand but he soon ceased to care; her mouth found his and he felt her breasts against his chest.

.

"He's a fool," he murmured. He was surprised, he actually meant it.

She clamped her eyes shut and the thrusting of her hips became more intense and desperate. "Don't talk about him. Don't talk at all."

He was more than happy to oblige.

.

Her white hair was even prettier than he remembered. She tried her best at being sympathetic. "I hope you didn't lose everything in the flood. It must have been awful."

He wanted to tell her the raging waters had taken away the only thing that had never betrayed him. He wanted to tell her the devastation of his belle city haunted him always.

He didn't. He knew there were some things that just couldn't be put back together; he and Stormy were one of those things.

.

Remy liked to sleep after their amazing romps; Rogue liked to talk. She chatted animatedly about anything: the cure, the weather, every one of Bobby's faults, and every one of Kitty's flaws.

He almost liked her better when she was being a bitch; or moaning and writhing beneath him. Almost, because he had to admit he enjoyed the way in which she clung to him.

And when the weeks flew past and she frequented his bed more and more; she discussed all there was to discuss about herself and turned the spotlight on him. He'd been dreading the fact.

He answered most of her questions with lies, and she knew they were lies, and he knew that he was the only one who listened to her; who cared (somewhat) about what she had to say. Ororo made her distaste for Rogue's traitorous acts known; Rogue didn't make friends at the community college she went to, and secretly confessed to him that she planned on dropping out; after only her second year.

"College just isn't for me," she'd said one night. "Ah used to have dreams and plans on what Ah would do with my life, and this definitely ain't it."

He liked her when she was like this. Her face went lax and her eyes got wide and misty and she looked truly beautiful. She reminded him of a time when he had hope left, when he still thought good defeated evil and that things would always work out for the better.

She rolled onto her side and kissed his lips. "What do ya want in life?"

He swallowed; completely absorbed by her question. "I used t' know," he couldn't stop the truth from spilling from his mouth- "mais, now? I don' gotta clue. I'm tired, Chére. Bone tired. I don' even dream when I sleep anymore."

She seemed to understand him in a way only her poisonous skin could allow her to. "Let's be tired together."

They slumbered and for the first time he dreamt-

Of her.

.

It seemed Rogue and Storm weren't the only ones he'd met before. There was a great commotion one morning, and Rogue slipped from his bed and got dressed in a flurry.

"He's back," she kept saying over and over again. "Logan is back!"

He raised his eyebrow. "Y' gonna make a Cajun jealous if y' don' quit." She was his somehow; whether they wanted to admit it or not.

Remy didn't want her and she didn't want him to want her. She wanted raw passion and dirty sex and meaningless hook-ups. He didn't have the heart to tell her things stopped being meaningless the moment he took her to dinner, or the eighth night in a row she laid next to him. 'Nothing' was becoming 'something'; but neither one of them was brave (stupid) enough to address the issue.

So what they had stagnated. They didn't go forward, but they didn't recede, either.

"Can't talk…don't have time…"

He followed her out of bored curiosity and nothing more. He heard her laugh like she'd never laughed for him, she threw herself in the man's arms and held him possessively, and with a sense of disappointment Remy saw that Rogue was in love.

She stepped down from the man's enthusiastic hug; and Remy did his best to keep his nonchalant smirk on his face as Wolverine's smile dropped.

"Long time no see, mon ami."

Rogue looked between the two. "Logan, you know Remy?"

"Knew him as 'Gambit' a long time ago." Logan nodded his head uncomfortably in some sort of greeting and offered Remy his hand.

Remy could only balk at the casualty. Wolverine obviously wanted no mention of the confusing few minutes they'd spent together that night. The Cajun wished he could remember the night before that.

Rogue's eyes met Remy's and she saw the pain hiding within. She took his hand in hers, and it was the most simple, perfect thing anyone had ever done for him.

.

"And he didn't even remember ya?" She looked down to her lap. "That's so sad."

He shrugged, once again surprised at how honest he'd been with her. It was if she was his Pandora's box; he told her all of his sins and dark secrets and they were locked away within her, hopefully for all time.

She smirked. "At least he didn't give ya a chance because he lost his memory. He didn't give me a chance cause he wasn't interested."

"I find dat hard t' believe, Chére. A person would have t' be outta dere mind t' say no t' dat pretty face." He kissed her throat and wrapped a straight, white lock around his finger. "I know I can't-"

Rogue punched his shoulder and told him to stop, but he saw the blush that leaped up on her pale cheeks. It scared him. It scared him because she slept in his room every night and his first reaction had been to suggest she bring over her clothes. It scared him because he was interested, he wanted to take her apart and examine her insides, and he wanted her to do the same to him. It scared him because they were beyond the point of fuck buddies or friends, he liked Rogue. He enjoyed being around her, he strived to make her laugh, he aimed to please any desire and fulfill even the most mundane whim she came up with.

He knew what it was; what he was feeling for the girl by his side- but he couldn't come to terms with it. Poets attempted to capture it with words; movies portrayed it as a fluffy, happy emotion, artists had painted scenes of the emotion for centuries. Remy wanted nothing to do with the damned thing- love. He'd fallen in love before and had gotten his heart ripped apart each time. It didn't work out, it ruined things.

And he was tired of hurting. He wanted to spend the rest of his days detached and doing the things he loved doing: thieving, fucking, and getting drunk. Those things couldn't hurt him like a person could.

He looked at her and felt fear; he couldn't survive another heartache.

So Remy decided to do what he did best: he withdrew himself and hurt the one he cared about most.

.

Her lips were hot and smooth against his; he detangled her arms from around his neck gently. "Not tonight, Rogue. I got a headache."

"Bullshit." She righted her blouse and blew hair from her eyes. "Gambit is never not horny. So what's your problem? You've been actin' weird all week."

There was worry in her eyes, almost like she knew what was coming.

"I been t'inkin'-"

There were tears in her eyes before he even finished his sentence. "Oh god," she ran a hand through her hair and shook her head. "Ya can't do this to me, Remy. Just tell me what's wrong and Ah'll make it better!" Her eyes searched his imploringly and her hands went over his chest.

She was in love with him. With him.

.

He told her his reasons. She shook her head and shoved him away; hard.

"Ah thought ya were brave, Ah thought ya were real." She wiped beneath her eyes angrily. "But now Ah know you're nothin' but an old, washed up coward."

He didn't take offense to what she said, because it was true.

"Y' deserve better den me. Y' deserve someone young an' hard-workin', without so much baggage. I would only drag y' down, Chére. Y' may t'ink y' understand now- but after a few months; maybe even a few weeks, you'd come t' hate me an' resent me. I would hurt y' somehow or you'd hurt me, an' I can't take no more hurt." It was hard for him not to hold her and kiss her sexy lips. "I got nothin' to offer, deres millions of perfect guys out dere jus' waitin' t' worship de ground y' walk on."

"But Remy, ya are perfect."

She took his breath away with that statement.

"You're perfect for me. Ah tried not lovin' ya, Ah pushed ya away and pretended what Ah was feelin' wasn't real, but Ah couldn't. Ah would never hurt ya, and if Ah got hurt; so what? Ah'm stronger than any of ya know."

She opened the door and stepped through. "But if ya don't think Ah'm worth the risk Ah understand."

The door clicked softly behind her.

.

That night he packed his bags. He knew what he was doing was right. They could both be spared the inevitable agony that would result; their hearts were protected.

He winced; she'd been right in calling him a coward.

.

There were a few minutes of thick silence as he approached her. Drops of fresh dew rested on each and every plant in Ororo's garden; the air was heavy with the smell of greenery.

Her sweatpants were soaked at the bottoms and her hair was tied sloppily at the top of her head. He'd never seen her look more beautiful.

Soon she was running and he was running and they met at the middle in a frenzy of lips and caresses. She loved him and he loved her; neither of them cared about the aftermath of what they were doing, they knew being with each other; being in love, was worth any pain they might suffer when it was all said and done.

As it turned out; his love alone was more than enough.

Fin.


(1): A catholic prayer from the actual St. Louis cathedral. It reads: Omnipotent and eternal God, the everlasting Salvation of those who believe, hear us on behalf of Thy sick servant, N., for whom we beg the aid of Thy pitying mercy, that, with his bodily health restored, he may give thanks to Thee in Thy church. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. (christian . org)

(2): In the comics, Remy actually seduced a nun named Katrina. And then hurricane Katrina swept through and ruined the lives of so many people. I just thought the contrast of Katrina the Nun's personality against the devastating hurricane was interesting.

Phew! This one-shot put me through some times. I cried, laughed, screamed, and slept with this story. There were times when I thought I was going to delete it, and I still want to sometimes.

Believe it or not, this was meant as a humor-fic. But as usual, the angsty gnomes that reside in my mind took over and this was the result. 3,000 words became 8,000; one hour of editing became two or three, and three days of writing turned into two weeks. This damn thing still isn't where I want it, but I'm done with re-writing this thing over and over again...

Hope you enjoyed!

Feedback is encouraged :]