~ Part Thirteen ~
~ Sacrifice ~
Remy felt like an idiot. It wasn't very often he felt like an idiot, because he'd always somehow managed to rely on his charm and wit to get him out of most situations that should ever cause him to look like one.
But now he felt like a prized idiot.
It had been bad timing – he couldn't deny that the day of his father's funeral had been the wrong day to confess he loved Rogue. He couldn't deny that it had been even worse timing to do so after being caught kissing with Bella Donna.
Why did I do that? Why did I kiss her back? Am I that fucking stupid? Why did I just risk everything for nothing?
So many things had just happened at once and somehow he hadn't been able to censor himself; he hadn't been able to help kissing Bella Donna back...it had been the first time he'd been kissed in months...the first time he'd been offered anything other than a platonic touch and for one moment he'd been been unable to ignore the part of him that was still a man.
But then the thought of Rogue had invaded every part of him, and he'd imagined Bella Donna's lips were hers...and the sad reality that they were not nor would they ever be had given him enough strength and determination to knock her back.
Something else he hadn't been able to censor was how he felt for Rogue...he hadn't been able to help himself as he tried desperately to apologise and stop her from walking out on him. He couldn't blame her for doing so.
He felt sick to the stomach as he walked downstairs only an hour later after stewing up in his room trying to decide what course of action to take next, how to explain himself...how to hopefully win her affection or at least get her to give him a chance.
When he came down the stairs, he found that the mourners had all left; their cars had left a great big mess of the lawn, but he didn't care. Rogue wasn't anywhere in the house; Remy felt immediately responsible and wondered if she had left. He winced at the thought as he stepped through into the kitchen to find Logan putting plates away in a cupboard.
"Seen Rogue?" Remy asked meekly.
"She went for a walk. Looked upset. Didn't ask her what was wrong," Logan shrugged. "You did something?"
"Fucked up. Royally," Remy said miserably.
"How?" Logan's expression darkened.
"Told her how I felt."
"I guess that was too much of a blow for her to handle right now on top of all this," Logan grumbled. "Ya gotta be careful with Rogue, like I said..."
"Most people would be happy t' hear someone love them...she act like it was the most miserable thing could ever happen."
"To hear someone loves her when she can't do much about it...sure that's gonna make her miserable," Logan stated. "She's just confused. And I can't blame her."
"She's not the only one who's confused," Remy rubbed the back of his neck, the tension building up at the back of his neck was painfully tight. "She thinks I won't need her anymore...once we're away from here...she's out of her goddamn mind if she thinks that..."
"Will you need her once ya get over all this?"
Remy frowned, "you believe I won't?"
"I don't know."
"I think ya need her, Gambit. But I think ya might also be too independent to tie yourself down to one girl. She knows that...she's heard all about your reputation all over town. And she's not able to keep you content with what you're used to getting...so can you honestly blame her for having doubts?"
"This is so fucked up."
"Love can't be simple when ya gonna be limited to never touchin' maybe for the rest of your life."
"I know that," Remy frowned.
"And ya don't care?" he asked.
"I've had my fill of that kind of relationship...it was nice...but..."
"It's not what ya got with Rogue."
"I can't explain it," Remy admitted. "It's like I don't care about it when I'm with her...I don't need anything from her...other than just her being with me."
"You sure about that."
"Maybe. I mean...I'd like more, but...if bein' with her means givin' all that up...then...I'd be ready enough to make that sacrifice...it'd be worth it t' be with her."
"Sounds like you're content," Logan remarked.
"You sound mad with me," said Remy as he dropped himself tiredly into a chair, he loosened his tie with a grunt.
Logan turned and stared at Remy, his gaze was always cold, but he didn't seem particularly angry. "It's not that I'm mad, Gambit. It's that I don't trust you to not hurt her, like I said. Rogue isn't the kind of girl who can just bounce back from a relationship gone sour...as much as I don't want to set her aside from the rest of the girls in the world, she's different...she's not gonna find a whole lot of guys out there willin' to pick up the pieces and put up with never bein' able to get close to her...and to be dropped for it would destroy her."
"What makes you think I'd drop her at all?" Remy demanded. "Y' don't do that t' someone y' love."
"Do you love her?" Logan asked seriously.
"The question is," Remy frwoend, "Do you love her?"
Logan moved over and sat in the chair opposite. "Do I love her? Absolutely. The way I love all the other kids at Xaviers," he answered. "But that's not really what you're asking here, is it?"
"I guess not."
"What kinda bothers me," Logan admitted, he folded his arms on the table, "is that you expect it of me. You expect somethin' underhanded..."
"It's not like it isn't possible, mon ami. How many instructors in the world in all kinds of schools abuse their positions t' get closer to students? People always usin' their power t' hurt people...it's the way things always are. And you're probably the only person who has the ability t' recover from what her powers can do..."
"So..." Logan sighed, "you think...because your dad did something...underhanded to you...that I'm gonna do the same to Rogue?"
"He never did anythin' underhanded to me," Remy furiously remarked. Just the comment Logan had made left foul taste in his mouth, and a tightness in his chest that made it hard to breathe.
"How many fathers abuse their positions of trust to hurt their children?"
Remy looked away. "What's that got to do with anythin'?"
"I can tell just from your tone that it's got plenty to do with everythin'. How long did it go on for?"
"I dunno what you're talkin' about," Remy ran a fingernail across the dented pine table top.
"You were a kid taken off the street, physically and emotionally abused. You were an easy target for the wrong kind of person."
"You assume too much."
"I'm assuming nothing. Your reaction tells me all I need to know...you honestly think I can't tell your father went further than what you say?"
"He weren't my father."
"No. He was the guy who abused you."
"He hit me. He hit everyone. He was free with his fists."
"He did more than hit you. There's emotional bruises on you, LeBeau. Kind you can't see...but I can hear them in the way you talk about him...can see it hidden behind your eyes when someone mentions his name. He damaged you...more than just a couple of slams in the face with a fist..."
"Look, it's really none of your business," Remy slammed his fist on the table.
"You're right," Logan said finally, a sigh escaped his lips. "Really, it's not. But I just wanna point out that just because you had a bad experience doesn't mean it's gonna happen to Rogue with me. I wouldn't do anythin' to hurt her."
"Bad experience," Remy said through gritted teeth, there was something about the way that Logan said it that felt like the catalyst for a fight, he couldn't ignore it, not now that his blood was starting to boil. "Y' think I would jus' sit back and let him do that t' me? Y' think I'm that weak!"
"I don't know what to think about ya, you're a closed book, Gambit."
Remy picked up the salt shaker on the table and charged it up in his hand, he threw it towards the wall and it exploded, leaving part of the inside wall missing in it's wake, the salt all over the floor and the nearby counter.
"Ya let him hit you," Logan remarked after the blast; he hadn't even flinched. "Ya did sit back and take that. Maybe you'd sit by and let him do a whole lot more if you thought you deserved it."
"Maybe I did. So what?" Remy pushed himself up from the chair, he turned to head towards the back door where he found Rogue standing looking astounded. His heart felt like it might be caught in his throat now at that gaze. He couldn't stand that gaze and he had to turn away from it, it felt like if he kept looking he'd feel her eyes burning right down into his soul. Had she heard everything?
"What would make you deserve bein' handled that way?" Logan asked carefully. "What could you have done that made you deserve a beatin' on a regular basis, Remy. What makes you think that you deserved the years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse?"
Remy drew his breath in deep and held it in his lungs so long it began to hurt. He'd never really given it a name. He'd been avoiding thinking about it; had tried to lock it up in a little place in his mind where no one could get to. Why was it these people seemed to have the key?
"Remy..." Rogue coaxed gently, she placed her hand on his back and he flinched away from her defensively. He couldn't have her touching him while this was all being brought up, it was too weird...too inappropriate.
"Don't!" he held up a hand to her warningly.
"Whatever he done...whatever happened...it's hauntin' you..." Logan growled. "It's there at the back of everything you ever do down here...it's what you're always running from when you come to Bayville...he's the face you're fighting when you spar for your life against every enemy you've ever had..."
Remy swallowed hard, it felt like there might be a rock stuck in his throat at that moment and he tried to get it down enough to speak.
"Chew it up, spit it out and let it go, kid. We planted him in the ground six feet below, he can't hurt you anymore. He ain't comin' back. Y' got nothin' t' fear...nothin' t' be ashamed of anymore...so tell us, Remy. Why did you deserve it?"
"I killed her, alright?" he spun around to yell in Rogue's face, his voice high and full of distress, he tried to shove her out of the way; he hadn't realised he'd been so rough because before he could even get past her he felt Logan's hand tight around his arm and he was swung away from the door before he had the chance to walk out.
Wouldn't have been that easy t' just walk away, he mused, feeling close to tears. Never was.
"You killed who?" Logan demanded.
Remy looked away, his chest rising and falling fast, his back pinned hard against the wall by the door. He couldn't say her name, it felt improper to use her name. He hadn't used the woman's name since the day it had happened...and he wasn't about to start again now.
Rogue spoke up, her voice shaky. "Your mother?"
"She was tryin' t' get away! I was tryin' t' help her..." Remy looked down to the floor, his eyes glassy.
"What did you do?" Logan demanded.
"He was gonna kill her! He had his hands around her throat! I tried t' stop him..." Remy drew his breath, words broken, heart thumping fast, "everythin' was happenin' so fast, we were at the top of the stairs and I tried to stop him from stranglin' her...and...I pushed him and it caused her t' fall..." he swallowed.
"Oh God..." Rogue whispered.
"I tried t' catch her but I was too small t' hold her...and she fell and so did I..." he swallowed, "and she caught me t' try and save me...and broke my fall...and when her neck snap...she was holdin' on t' me."
"But it was an accident," Rogue stated.
"Doesn't bring her back...doesn't take it back...doesn't make it okay...doesn't excuse it."
"He's been hurtin' you ever since?" Rogue asked softly.
Remy looked away from them both, "I killed his wife...don't y' think he was entitled t' hate me? Y' don' think I was meant t' suffer some?"
"I don't think he was entitled to lay a hand on ya," Logan remarked, he let go of Remy, "and ya shouldn't be tellin' yourself that he was."
Remy moved away. "If I hadn't-"
"If you hadn't what, Remy?" Rogue demanded, "If you hadn't got involved he would have killed her anyway...Tante Mattie told me about all the stuff he did...he would have gone on until there was no life left in her!"
"He wouldn't have killed her. He's not a murderer."
"Keep tellin' yourself that, kid," Logan snarled, "ruin what's left of the life he didn't finish ruinin'. Fuck, why ya would even come back here doesn't make sense. If ya had come to us we would have protected ya from these people...ya wouldn't have needed to come back here...ya know that..."
Remy slid down the wall and sat upon the floor, he stared into space. "I never wanted t' come back here. But I had t' come back...t' make sure nothin' happened to him and Henri...I owe somethin' t' them...even if they hate me...even if I hate them..."
"You owe them nothin'," Rogue dropped to her knees at his side, "You supported them, took the fall for their crimes, let them use you...how can you say you owe them anything? What happened wasn't your fault and if Jean-Luc hadn't been beatin' up on Vivienne you wouldn't have had to get involved and it wouldn't have happened. He caused that accident himself!"
Remy shook his head, "no. It was my fault. 'Cause they were fightin' about me."
He felt Rogue's eyes on him, her stare was heavy like the drag of chains.
"She didn't want me goin' into the family business. She already regretted ever lettin' him train up Henri...and when he started trainin' me she tried t' draw the line...'cause I had no one else t' draw that line for me..." Remy swallowed. "And he got mad...always had a temper...always layin' his hands on people when they didn't deserve it...always...and she never deserved it...but she got it...'cause of me."
Rogue brushed his hair away from his eyes tenderly. "Not because of you. Because of him. You can't be blamed for his actions..."
"Y'know that was when he really started drinkin' really heavily..." Remy sighed, "I'm responsible for his death...I'm responsible for hers...I'm responsible for Henri takin' off to god knows where..." Remy pulled himself up slowly. "And the two of you..." he headed for the door, "jus' wan' make me relive it."
"That's not what we're tryin to do," Rogue sounded angry, "Ah want to help you...we both do...we just need to know what it is that's tearin' you up."
"She's right, gumbo," said Logan. "Can't begin to help you with your problems if we don't know what they are. Talkin' about it is the first step to getting help."
"I didn't ask for your help on this. All I want is to get out of this place...that was all I asked for..." Remy's eyes fell on the clock on the windowsill, it showed nine pm. A sudden surge of nausea seemed to wave through him from his stomach to the back of his throat. "And now...it's time t' go to the council hall...and wait for the sentence."
"But-" Rogue began.
"Later," he said. "We don't have time to fuck around with this shit right now...we need to get there...'cause if we don't..."
"If we don't?" Rogue asked.
"They could just see it as insolence...and make the decision anyway..."
Rogue gripped the windowsill of the car door as Remy stepped on the gas down the long road that seemed to go on forever. The sky was still slightly light despite the sun had set an hour before and yet the heat had not died with the falling of that sun.
Wiping her sweat-tinged hair away from her face she gave a sigh. "What are we supposed to say at this thing anyway?" she asked uneasily. "Shouldn't we have rehearsed what we're meant to say?"
"No. Rehearsing lines makes it sound too glossy," Remy remarked coolly, his eyes were on the rear view mirror. "We don't want it sounding like we rehearsed this."
"Then what do we say?"
"Whatever comes to mind...but don't take too much time thinkin' it over...or they'll know right away that this whole thing is a fucked up lie..." he responded.
"Ah'm kinda nervous."
"Don't be. Even if the sentence gets passed that we have t' get this annulled nothin' will happen t' you."
"Marriage...punishment...god knows what else. I've never really crossed these people before...all I know is that the Assassins get to decide my punishment if I should be caught lyin'."
"What could they do?"
"I don't know. I heard a story once that one of Jean-Luc's distant cousins was caught stealing from an Assassination target and was left t' fend for himself in the middle of the Sahara desert with no clothes on. I don't think his body was ever found."
Rogue shuddered. "What do you think they'll do to you?"
"Best case scenario, they get ready to marry me to Belle. Worse case...in addition to forcin' me to marry Belle, the council make me their whipping boy for the next twenty or so years I might actually have some usefulness."
"Could they do that?"
"How you think Jean-Luc got so bitter in the first place?"
Rogue blinked, "they did that to him?"
"Up until he got too drunk to care or be useful. He lost interest in keepin' in shape and got careless...fell a few times...hurt his back and when y' hurt y' back doin' our line of work...it can affect how y' break in t' a place...y'know? If y' ain't got the flexibility, then y' gonna struggle with certain aspects of the job and it gets y' caught. After he nearly got caught, I took the rap and spent a couple days in jail – though they couldn't hold me with not enough evidence. Jean-Luc subsequently got chosen as the guild leader 'cause it was the only job he was capable of after that – his mistake could have cost the entire guild t' be exposed."
"So what was he like as a leader?" Rogue queried.
"Great at planning, good at barkin' orders but lousy at doin' the jobs himself. It's true what they say y'know, those who can't teach. He trained us all."
"He was good at that?"
"He was great at it. It's always the way of it...the ones who're real hardasses are the ones who always get you t' live up t' y' real potential."
"He made you really live up to yours," Rogue admitted.
Remy glanced uneasily at the clock on the dash, then slowed the car to a stop. Rogue watched him with confusion, surely they couldn't be there already? She glanced around but there was nothing for miles other than trees. Her eyes watched his shaking hand as he put on the parking brake, and he turned to her slowly.
"What's wrong?" she asked of him.
"Y' know there's a good chance this might not all go t' plan."
Rogue didn't want to believe that, and she shook her head in refusal of the news.
"We might not be leavin' together tonight."
"Yes, we will," Rogue said, she put her hand on his, "we'll leave and we'll be X-Men together."
"No, there's a chance this is all gon' blow up in my face. And y' need t' prepare y'self for it. I do too," he glanced down at her hand upon his, resting on the parking brake. He raised his hand with hers upon it to kiss her gloved knuckle. "I just need y' t' know...that this past ten days has meant a lot t' me."
Her eyes fell to the dashboard, she felt sick at the thought of standing in front of the council, she was afraid of their sentence on to him. He'd survive, yes, but they'd take away what little freedom he'd ever had and break him in the process. Bella Donna would perhaps be good to him – it seemed she did love him after all – but he'd be bitter and resentful of her following their marriage. He'd never be happy, would he? He'd be stuck here...stuck with the memories...the bright light of his soul would be snuffed out like a candle.
"Y' done a lot more for me than anyone ever has. Y' the only person t' show me true kindness...only person to sacrifice f' me without askin' for anything in return."
"Ah didn't sacrifice anything," Rogue said quietly.
"Y' sacrificed more than y' know..." Remy sighed, "You...you will never be the same after this..." he looked at her. "And y' never gon' see me the same ever again either."
"You think that?" Rogue asked.
"After what I said," he looked to the steering wheel, "y' knowin' I was responsible for the death of another human bein'...knowin' the pain I've been through at the hands of another...y' can't just overlook that. It's always gonna be in the back of your mind...y' always gon' be feelin' sorry for me...always wonderin' if things that get said are gonna stir up memories or feelin's I went through...things I tried t' forget..." he gripped the steering wheel hard.
She had to think about this. It was always a possibility that it would be forever back in her mind now that it had been aired. But she also had to hope that she could overlook it and focus on other things, such as what a good person Remy actually was, and not how damaged he had revealed himself to be.
"Maybe it'd be just as well if this whole thing did get revealed t' be a sham,"he sighed, he rubbed his head. "I've ruined things...things aren't gon' be the same with us even if I do go back with you to Bayville..."
"'Course they'll be the same," Rogue reached for him and touched his shoulder, she gave it a comforting squeeze.
"I was bein' selfish when I said I loved you..."
"Why is that selfish?" she asked in a shaky tone. She already knew the answer. Love was a selfish feeling...it was the want of something so bad it could barely be stand. She was beginning to understand it all too well.
"'Cause I knew that lettin' you in t' my life is gon' ruin parts of yours...I was just so...caught up in the fact that I ever could feel that for anyone. Comin' from here...I wasn't sure I had the capacity in me t' feel that way about anyone..." he blinked, and Rogue noticed there was a trickle of water dancing it's way down his cheek. "I've never felt like anyone was there for me...never felt like I needed anyone b'fore..." he angrily swiped at his cheek leaving a wet smear across his face. "I didn't want this. I didn't want the complication and I thought I was strong enough t' get through this. I didn't for one second believe I would ever fall in love with anyone...especially not you..."
Rogue watched him, her whole body was trembling and she couldn't pinpoint why.
"Then on our weddin' day...there you were...all dressed in white, like I had imagined it was gon' be...what I'd sat for weeks plannin' even before I'd asked y' t' make a sacrifice and get me out of my mess..." he swallowed. "I looked at y' comin' down that little aisle, and for one moment...it was like I saw an angel gon' lift me t' salvation..." he turned and looked at her.
"I'm no angel," she shrugged.
"But y' are. Y' made me feel like...I was gon' be saved. For the first time in my life...someone's been there t' catch me when I fall...and it's only made me more selfish. I want that all the time...I need that...I need someone t' save me...'cause I'm not capable of savin' myself."
Rogue drew her breath nervously, "are you...sayin' that you need me?"
"Need y'...want y'...ache for y'...it's like magnetic force...I'm bein' pulled towards y', chere," he spoke with a shaky voice, his lip trembling. He glanced towards the clock, and with a sigh of resignation he started the car again "Lets get this over with...I hate long goodbyes."
The Council Hall was in the middle of nowhere, virtually, as Rogue discovered. Remy had to get out of the car to move back the low hanging branches of trees to reveal a hidden road that made it's way for another twenty minutes until it led to what looked like the oldest cemetery in Louisiana. The entrance, Rogue thought to be rather cliché, was a mausoleum.
The staircase went down and down for what felt like miles, the smell of earth and burning wax filling Rogue's nostrils as they descended further and further down until they were in a long passage lined with more candles. Remy held onto her hand the whole time, leading the way determinedly, picking up the pace. They were already five minutes late thanks to Remy's unplanned stop on the main road.
Everything he'd said during that brief stop on the journey lingered with her, each sentence seemed to replay itself in her head as she followed him further and further into the caverns.
Eventually, they entered a larger cave which finished with two large carved doors. One door was carved intricately with the design of a dagger entwined by serpents, the other door, a key shape on what looked to be the carving of a foxes head. Each door was a symbol, Rogue realised. Assassin, and Thief.
"This is it..." Remy said softly, he brushed his fingers against the foxhead carving with a strange look of regret upon his face.
"Are you ready?" she asked of him.
"Doesn't matter anymore," he responded, and he gave the Thieves door a hard push and it moved slowly as he did.
Inside, the hall was massive; bigger than Rogue had thought it might be. The floors were ancient carved stone, their designs mostly filled by dust. A C shaped table was facing them, nine cloaked and masked figures taking the seats, the central dome end had only one recognisable face behind a black mask. The alien eyes gave it away, Rogue felt. The rest of the hall was almost bland, but it's size and echo gave it such resonance and sense of importance; it was meant to be intimidating, Rogue realised, and it was.
"Sorry we're late," said Remy dully as he closed the door behind them, "we had to clear away the mess from Jean-Luc's funeral."
"Under the circumstances, you can be forgiven for your untimely entrance, but do not let it happen again," said Candra, her voice was thick with a strange timbre that made her seem older than the dawn of man.
Remy nodded and gave a curt bow although Rogue could tell he resented doing this; he gestured for her to do the same and she awkwardly did, feeling very self-conscious and already trying to map out an escape route should anything go wrong.
"Marius and his daughter are both contesting your marriage," Candra spoke, "you have given reason to them to doubt the authenticity of your relationship to this girl."
Remy, still holding onto Rogue's hand, drew her closer to the table, so that they could stand a few feet away from Candra. "Only you can decide the authenticity," he said.
"Why did you go against guild orders to marry this woman?" asked another from the nine council at the table, Rogue glanced around to see who had spoken but with these black masks, she couldn't tell who had done so.
"We were married before-"
"Do not lie," Candra warned. "Checks were made, the sources you used for altering identifications and for altering the date on your marriage license were easily bought."
"I guess that means you paid more than I did," Remy winced.
"We want reasons, not sarcasm," spoke up one of the other council members.
"Rumours circulate around town that your marriage is not even consummated," spoke up another council member, an older sounding gentleman with a French accent.
"Sex doesn't define a marriage," Remy spoke quickly.
"We still need reasons, young LeBeau. It is a crime against the guilds that you have committed here."
"It should be my choice who I marry, shouldn't it?" Remy asked, his voice was so tired that Rogue felt like the lack of enthusiasm in his voice might seal his doom.
"Not when you have sworn your life to the guild," Candra stated with a tone that felt like a stamp of finality.
"I swore my life to the guild when I was eleven years old," Remy spoke up, "Barely knew how t' tell time, let alone know what I wanted t' be."
"Regardless of your age, LeBeau, you are sworn to this guild and sworn to obey orders. Your orders were to marry Bella Donna Bordereaux to seal the pact of peace between the two guilds."
"It would have never worked. You don't think both guilds would have been usin' it as an excuse t' keep tabs on each other?" Remy asked with a frown.
"Maybe so, but there would have been peace."
"Not for long," Remy retorted. "So I guess since you all think this marriage was such a sham and proved that I went about it the wrong way, that you've already decided on my sentence."
"Perhaps," said Candra. "Perhaps not."
"What's that s'pposed t' mean?" Remy asked.
"Things have been brought into question, Gambit. Perhaps there are other arrangements to be made."
"Other arrangements? What other arrangements."
"Perhaps to let you be free of this betrothal altogether," Candra stood up slowly, she slipped her mask off and sighed, her expression rather bored.
"Free...I like the sound of it," Remy confessed.
"And free of marriage too," Candra added, glancing towards Rogue and forcing a slight smile.
Remy and Rogue briefly glanced at each other before looking back to the council leader.
"Without any repercussions?"
"I didn't say that," Candra warned.
"Since the death of your father, you must realise that this leaves a rather large gap in the Thieves guild."
"Course it does," Remy shrugged.
"And you would fill that gap."
Rogue gasped and turned to look at Remy, she could barely believe the suggestion of it.
"Are you crazy!" Remy blinked, "I'm not a leader. It'd be like the blind leadin' the fuckin' blind."
"You took charge of things when you needed to with maturity and strength, you have worked exhaustedly into amassing a large fortune, you have the skill, finesse and intelligence to pass your training onto others..." Candra explained.
"I had help. I didn't deal with anything...my wife took charge...I didn't..."
"You still worked through it regardless of this...you stood and gave your eulogy instead of hiding weakly like your brother did."
"But Henri should be the next in line to be leader...he's Jean-Luc's heir," Remy reminded.
"Henri has neither the want nor ability," one of the masked council grunted, "a waste of space in the guild, unlike yourself. You have potential."
"I don't want to have potential...I want t' be out of here...I want t' lead my own life, be free of this. I've done my time...I've worked off my family's debts..." Remy reminded.
"What would you do out there? Outside of guild life?"
Remy drew a breath, "I want t' be with my wife."
"The wife you married, not out of love but out of desperation to avoid marrying someone else..." Candra pointed out.
"Never said I didn't love her," Remy remarked angrily.
"Is there love?" questioned Candra.
One of the other council members spoke up, a larger figure, a woman's voice soft yet strong broke through before Remy could begin to response.
"You only have to look at this two to know there's something there."
Rogue raised an eyebrow. She recognised that voice.
"You think so?" asked Candra, curiously.
"Symmetry...balance...you can practically see the bond stretching between them."
Tante Mattie? Rogue wondered in surprise as she stared ahead. It had never struck her as being possible that Tante Mattie might be on the council herself.
"Then perhaps an exception could be made to allow the new Mrs. LeBeau to remain married to him and remain with him while he runs the guild," Candra suggested.
"No..." Rogue shook her head, "don't you understand that he needs to be away from here?"
"I did not give you allowance to speak," Candra responded quickly.
Remy sighed, "can't I just be exiled instead? I'll do anything you ask in order t' be exiled."
"No one is ever exiled from the guild, Remy. Those who are exiled take our secrets and those who take our secrets can work against us."
"I don't want to pass on your secrets...I want a life that's mine," Remy pleaded desperately.
"I'm sorry, the answer is no."
"Could I buy my freedom?"
A pause amongst the council, then they all glanced between each other questioningly before Candra spoke again. "What would you have to offer that we do not already have?" Candra demanded.
"My fortune," he answered.
"Your fortune...of how much? The three million sitting in six bank accounts?" Candra laughed.
Rogue blinked. Remy has three million? Wow...
Remy frowned, "I'm talkin' about my fortune of sixty-three million sitting in forty-eight bank accounts worldwide, actually."
There was a sudden hushed whisper amongst all nine council members; Rogue took that moment to spin around and gape at Remy. "Sixty-three million?"
"I told y' I had money," he remarked with a nervous smile.
"How the hell did you-?" Rogue began.
"Don't ask," he warned her.
"Sixty-three million is a lot of money," Candra finally said.
"I know both guilds are worth considerably more," Remy explained, "but I also know the Thieves haven't brought any of their share in a while since Jean-Luc became dependent on drink. Each guild is asked to pay a percentage of their earnings each year at what? Minimum of two million?" Remy asked, "How many years has that gone unpaid now? Three?"
Candra gave a steady nod.
"Money is all I have other than myself and my wife," Remy explained.
A strange smile warped Candra's alien-beautiful face. "And would you sacrifice her for your freedom?"
Rogue's heart gave a hard thump and she turned to look at Remy awaiting his response. Would he sacrifice her for freedom? She had to wonder...he wanted it so badly it seemed.
Remy's face darkened, "you want me to hand over my wife...for freedom."
"Her powers could be useful to us," Candra admitted.
"No..." Remy shook his head and moved to stand in front of Rogue, "you can't have her. She's off limits."
"You said you would do anything in order to be exiled," reminded one of the other council members, his accent thick and mean.
"I can't sacrifice her."
"Are you sure about that?" Candra asked.
"I love her. If lettin' her go free from here means I have t' make the sacrifice, then so be it. She's sacrificed enough for me. It's my turn now."
Candra moved away from the table to walk around it and stand in front of Remy. "You would do that for love?"
"Yes..." Remy nodded, "I would."
She moved aside her cloak to take something from her hip.
"Candra, no!" came the cry of Tante Mattie from the end of the table, the large woman was standing, her large brown eyes from behind her mask were wide with horror.
"Silence," said Candra. "Sacrifice is what he's speaking of here and sacrifice it shall be..." she unsheathed a dagger and held it up, offering it to him. "Make your choice, Remy LeBeau; make your sacrifice. You give her to us in return for your freedom...or you take the sacrifice yourself, and sacrifice yours for hers."
Rogue stared at the dagger, it flashed in the light of many burning candles. "No, Remy..." she shook her head. "Don't do that..."
He turned to look at her, "what choice do I have?" he asked.
"Let them take me...and I'll figure a way out..." she whispered to him, although she was positive Candra could hear her.
"No...I can't do that...you've sacrificed everythin' for me...it's time I did the same."
"But you're talkin' about your life."
"My life isn't worth livin' without you in it," he stated. "I got nothin' left but you, and I don' wan' live in a world that doesn't have you there with me in it..." he took the dagger from Candra.
"Remy no!" Rogue grabbed his wrist, "think about this...the X-men will get me...they'll save me. This isn't the only option here..."
"I've made my decision," Remy said to Candra.
"Remy, no..." Rogue blinked tears, "please don't...think about this! You wanted your freedom, we did this for your freedom...you can't just give in now!"
"I'll be free," he broke free of her arm, "just lemme hear what I wanna hear b'fore I do this..." he pleaded.
Rogue shook her head, "No..." she refused, tears spilling down her cheeks.
"This gon' be the only time I ever hear it, chere...gon' be the first and last...it's only fittin' that it's you...my wife...the moon..." he pushed the tip of the blade to his stomach.
"Remy Ah..." she lunged forward to try to grab the knife from him; her arms were instantly held back by an invisible force and she gasped; Candra had her arm held up, apparently the immortal had telekinetic abilities. "Let me go!"
"This is a guild matter! Your interference cannot me tolerated!" Candra warned.
"Remy! Don't do it!"
"I gotta..." Remy swallowed, he was breathing hard and fast, his chest rising and falling quickly, both hands curled firmly around the hilt.
"No..." she pleaded, she felt tears trickling down her cheeks.
"Y' the only person I ever loved my entire life..." he drew a deep breath, and braced himself, Rogue saw the muscles in his face tense as he prepared for the pain.
"Ah love you too..." she whispered, she felt her breath catch in the middle of her throat as she saw the blade slide into him. Her arms suddenly were let lose by the grasp of Candra's telekinetic powers and she rushed towards him, gasping. "Remy!"
Remy made an odd sound that made Rogue's stomach turn. He was looking down to the dagger in his hands in shock and confusion.
"Remy...oh my god..." she placed her hand on both of his to hold the dagger there. She remembered her first aid training...if he took that blade out, he was going to bleed to death...if she left it there she could perhaps somehow still get help somehow until it could be removed and someone could stem the bleeding. But how long would he live?
His expression was so...troubled...and he moved his hands outwards to remove the blade from himself.
"No!" Rogue tried to stop him; her eyes fell to the blade to see that there was no blood at all upon it...not a smear...no blood on his pristine white shirt either...it should have been soaked with it by now but not a drop stood out in contrast.
He freed the blade from himself completely, holding it away from himself and looking at it, nonplussed and apparently free of pain.
Rogue grabbed the bottom of his shirt to rip the buttons open, a few pinging off in her haste; no blood, no wound, no nothing. His torso was still perfectly in tact. She smoothed her gloved hands over him as if to make sure, gaping, looking for anything that might have taken a moment to reveal itself but it appeared that the dagger had not penetrated his skin at all.
"You're okay..." she whispered. "It didn't go through!"
Confused, they both looked at Candra, who had taken the dagger away from Remy to show them that the blade sprung into the hilt at the lightest pressure on the tip. "A noble sacrifice, had the blade been real. It's hard to believe you would take your life for someone else, Remy, given your history..."
Remy grabbed onto Rogue's arms to hold himself steady, he looked queasy.
"Your marriage may be a cleverly executed piece of trickery that unfortunately wasn't enough to fool us, but your love for this girl...it seems to be quite real...and your true feelings speak volumes..." Candra sighed.
Rogue pressed her face to Remy's shoulder and held onto him, the feeling of almost having lost him overwhelmed her and she couldn't bear to let go now.
"What now, Candra?" Remy asked, shaken by the experience of what could have been death. He held onto Rogue tightly – so tightly that it actually hurt her - and sighed in what seemed to Rogue to be the greatest relief.
"You're too valuable for us to exile, but we'll allow you to buy your freedom...on the grounds that should we need your services, you will return when prompted..."
"I..." Remy began, his voice full of disagreement before he'd even really begun the sentence.
"There is no negotiation."
"Under contract only?" he asked, sounding vaguely hopeful.
"Perhaps," Candra tapped her nose.
"So we can leave?"
"As soon as it suits you."
"And no repercussions? No Assassins tailin' me for the rest of my life?" Remy asked hopefully. "No Assassination attempts on me OR my wife?"
"As long as you do nothing else to warrant it," one of the other council members replied.
"What about Henri?" Rogue asked quietly. She couldn't help but feel slightly sorry for Henri despite his wicked attitude and his disregard for Remy. "What will happen to him?"
"We'll keep an eye on him," Tante Mattie spoke up. "I'll make sure of it."
"He may still have usefulness to the guild. Perhaps," Candra admitted. "Keep in mind, though, Remy LeBeau, we will be watching you, and we will call upon yo some day."
"I'll keep it in mind," Remy nodded, his face uncertain.
"Now go. Before we feel obligated to change our minds."
They walked silently to the car, drained from the emotion they'd experienced in the hall. Rogue couldn't believe it was finally all over. Free to go. No more getting up in the morning to make coffee, no more struggling to get comfortable at night on half of a single bed. No more fighting for covers, no more struggling to share a pillow, no more struggling for privacy.
"Y' wan' drive?" he asked, tossing her the keys as they approached the car once leaving the cemetery.
"Ah guess," she shrugged. She unlocked the car and leaned over to unlock his door for him. He climbed in with a tired expression on his face. She had a feeling he would probably fall asleep during the drive.
"Drive slow," he instructed, taking his iPhone out of his pocket and unlocking it with the slide of a finger. "I can get a weak signal here and I need t' make arrangements."
Rogue realised that yes, arrangements did have to be made. She would also have some packing when she got back – if she really wanted to keep any of the things Remy had bought her, that was. And his own arrangements...passing on all his bank accounts to the guild council...she supposed that would take a lot of arranging too. Tying up loose ends and paying for the funeral in total still had to be done too.
As Rogue drove, Remy fiddled with the phone, saying nothing, his expression concentrated.
"Remy?" she asked softly as she shifted awkwardly into fifth gear, still not used to the clutch even after eight days she still managed to make it scream in anger with her every time she tried to do so.
"You didn't know the dagger was gonna do that...did you?" she asked curiously.
He stopped what he was doing momentarily, his expression dark, "Y' think I'm that good an actor?"
"Of course Ah know you're that good an actor. Ah just wanted to know if you knew the dagger was a trick..."
Remy gave a deep sigh, and shook his head, "I didn't."
"You would have died."
"Maybe. Mighta made it, who knows."
"It was a stupid thing to do," Rogue frowned.
"Was worth it," he answered, "Bought me my freedom, bought me yours..." he placed his right hand up on her knee, "and I got t' hear y' say what I wanted t' hear y' say."
She threw him a look.
"Was a win-win-win, non?"
"Don't sound so smug about it."
"Sorry," he smiled a little. "I just...feel so goddamn liberated right now. I can leave, I don't have anyt'ing t' tie me here anymore. I don't have t' worry 'bout my past hauntin' me."
Rogue doubted that he had escaped his past completely. She was sure there were many demons he would still be facing in his life whether he left this hell or not, and she knew eventually he was going to be called back here again...and the memories would eventually resurface too. Still, she tried to force a smile for his sake. "How long before we can get out of this place?"
Remy glanced at his iPhone. "I've booked Logan a flight out for t'morrow mornin', nine am...it's the soonest I could get him out," he explained.
"You're booking Logan a flight, but not us?" she asked. She wasn't sure why he felt obligated to get Logan out...Logan was perfectly capable of making his own arrangements, after all.
"We're taking a later flight out," Remy replied, "our arrangements need a little more time before I get them sorted..."
Rogue raised an eyebrow, "our arrangements?"
"What arrangements?" she asked.
"Well..." he paused for a moment of contemplation, then finally said, "we're goin' t' St. Tropez."
"Wait...that's...where?" she tried to think...geography had never been her best subject.
"French Riviera..." he glanced at her, "sunny beaches, white sand, blue-green water...luxury villa?" he tempted.
"Sounds...expensive...for a man who just paid sixty-three million for his freedom," Rogue pointed out.
"I got some spare change saved up," he admitted.
"So...why are we goin' there? Is this to do with more of your arrangements ?"
"No...this is nothin' t' do with anything other than you."
"I promised you a honeymoon, didn't I? A real one?"
"We aren't even married, really."
"For the next week we are," he smirked. "At least until we go back to Bayville...and your professor forces us t' get an annulment on the grounds of your usin' a fake name t' marry me with. And y' know he will. If he don't, I'm sure Logan will."
"But nothin," he said, "I'm the man, I get t' say what goes."
Rogue gave a strange laugh and shook her head at him.
"Might be nice...no interruptions, no worries...just us...alone on a private beach...y' can even get a little thong bikini and get some colour in y'."
Rogue wondered how it was he could joke so easily after everything that had just happened. She wondered how he could just take it in his stride after revealing so much about his past and having experienced death, having almost experienced his own. Turning everything into something else was his way, hiding the pain with a joke, trying to make everything alright when it just wasn't. If it helped him get through things at the end of the day, who was she to argue and tell him differently?
Who am Ah to argue? His wife, Rogue reminded herself. For now, at least.
"Remy...a luxury resort isn't going to fix everything, you know that, right?" she asked quietly. "It's not going to make everything okay..."
"I know that," he sighed, "Believe me, I know that..." he squeezed her knee affectionately. "I can't dive right in t' bein' with your family just yet, I need an adjustment period away from mine before I can become part of yours..." he smiled a little. "Besides...I still feel bad that I ruined our weddin' night, and ruined most of the marriage with my pullin' away from you..." he explained. "Y' upheld y' part of the bargain, y' made everythin' about me the moment y' said I do. Y' forgave me for the most stupid shit...y' somehow even managed to tolerate and forgive my family for their shit. Everythin' was about me and my family and now it's my turn t' make everythin' about you."
"What we gonna do in St. Tropez, Remy?"
"Anything we want, chere. Anything we want."
~ The End ~
Thanks to everyone for their constant support and for hanging with me to see the story end. Thanks to Alex who never stopped believing I could do this (and by "this" I mean believe I could actually FINISH a fanfiction!) and for believing this story had something worth posting here.
I'm so grateful to you all for reviewing and keeping my motivation going. You all mean so much to me, and have helped boost my confidence in writing so much even if my grammar sucks and my spelling is a bit questionable at times. Eventually I hope to have this all beta'd and re-posted in better form (it's finding someone willing to go through the 175 pages of this story!) but for now this is all I can offer.
Hopefully the sequel I'm trying to write will be something worth continuing with and posting (and something people will be interested in reading!)
Thank you all again for seeing me to the end!