A/N: I thought I could leave Scorch alone, but it seems that I can't yet—there's still a story I feel compelled to tell. This one-shot takes place in the 'hidden' years between chapter 16 and the epilogue. I feel that this one-shot can stand without Scorch, but I suppose some things may not make sense or have the same meaning unless you've read the fic. (shameless plug)

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Time is the fire in which we burn. —Delmore Schwartz.

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Year One.

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As he tried following the map and entertaining his infant companion at the same time, it was easy for Remy to forget all the anguish and remorse the past decades of his life had been filled with. Looking down at Rogue: at her tiny booties and minute hands, at the way she struggled to free herself from the car seat, and at the drool on her chin—it was as if things like 'Phoenix' and 'death' had never been prevalent at any time. She was healing him so fast it was almost too good to be true.

Of course, leaving his wife and children behind was more than just painful, but he'd known—maybe from the beginning— that he hadn't belonged in their world. He loved them, and he always would, but he'd been a spectator and they'd been the sport. Now that he had Rogue back, he could feel again. He could love fully and dream happily and wake up wanting to live for another day.

Today was the end in a sense, but it was also the beginning.

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Their six-month long road trip took them across the United States. They dined in Los Angeles and watched the sunset in Nevada. Rogue's first tooth broke through while they were staying in Arizona and they saw Dora the Explorer live in Texas. In all places he was often mistaken as her father or grandfather, and though it bothered him somewhat— he made no effort to correct the assumptions.

Eventually, though, he knew it was time to settle. A baby couldn't be raised on airplanes and inside rented vehicles, and shouldn't have to. He wanted to give Rogue the kind of childhood she should have had in the first place. He wanted her to grow up careless and worry-free.

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They boarded a plane weeks later—first class. Rogue bobbed up and down in her booster seat and mewled softly in the gibberish he found so endearing.

He let her suck the salt off of his peanuts before he popped them into his mouth and finished them off. He made sure to hold them so she wouldn't choke, and he could tell by her scowls and grunts that she did not appreciate his efforts.

They landed in Paris—some place he thought he'd never end back at, and he bought her anything she pointed at: from colorful balloons and candies, to multi-flavored ice cream cones and wooden dolls.

Soon, they were in a cab heading for the excluded countryside. He and his family had often visited Le Limousin region in the summertime. He had somewhat fond memories of running through the nearby wood and bringing back berries and insects. At night, Tante would serve warm goat's milk and sweet potato bread, with mint and bourbon crème anglaise.

The times spent amongst nature and farmland in Le Limousin were the only memories Remy had of Jean-Luc smiling and unconcerned with guild affairs and the pressure of being Patriarch. In the summer, Remy had been able forget the cruelty of his foster father. Things always seemed sweeter and less painful beneath the glowing light of the sun.

The cab drove by rolling hills covered with lush meadows and extensive forests, and Rogue watched from her place in his arms, enraptured, at the farmers trotting by with their sheep and cattle.

"Like it, chère? 'Cause we're gonna be stayin' here for a long while."

They came to a break in the tree line, and Remy looked over the seat to see their residence.

Their new home was at the bottom of the gorge in all its blue and white quaintness, and completely submerged in oscillating, sun burnt grass. He could see a similarly-colored shed towards the back southwestern corner of the estate, as well as a bed of poppy flowers that carpeted the ground in red as far as the eye could see.

They pulled into a small gravel road. The tires crunched against the rock as the car chugged up the small incline.

"Vous allez à l'intérieur et à explorer. Je vais prendre soin des bagages,(1)" the cabby offered.

Remy glanced down at the squirming baby in his arms and nodded. "Merci. Elle s'impatiente." He took the first step up the walkway, and found himself slightly out of breath by the time he reached the top.

The Cajun explored his pocket until he found the key. "See dis, p'tite?" He dangled the key in front of her face, and watched with a laugh as she reached for it with her plump hand.

Rogue grew frustrated with the dangle and pull away game. She began turning red, but stared at the glinting metal even more intensely. She gave up on her hands altogether, and attempted to shove it in her mouth.

It was only a one-floored home, but it made up for its lack of height with its width. The mahogany floors spread far; the windows were large and took up entire walls. It gave the home a bright, airy feel that Remy loved.

Giving his tiny companion another assuring smile, Remy made his way from the front door and went further into what he assumed was the main room. He took the two steps down into the sitting area, and imagined where they'd put the brand new sofas, inn tables, and entertainment center.

He went through the swinging doors located in the corner of the room and came to the dining room/kitchenette.

"Would y' look at dat view," he breathed in awe.

The backyard was a heavenly picture of thick, rounded bushes, swirling trees, more carpets of red flowers, and chattering squirrels.

She clapped her hands, obviously in agreement.

He managed to tear his attention away from the outdoor sight and continued on his self-guided tour. They discovered the master bedroom and en suite bathroom, as well as an office, a spare bedroom and bathroom—Rogue made a show of claiming them as her own—and a screened-in sunroom that Remy found himself falling in love with right off the bat.

He stepped into the wood-trimmed, cozy space. The room was enclosed on three sides by trees and swaying fields for miles and miles into the distance. He felt quite poignantly the seclusion and peace the room exuded.

"I did a pretty good job, if I do say so m'self."

Rogue giggled.

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Immortality didn't change him over night. It came with time, with changing diapers and warming up milk; it came with holding his napping chère on the sunny porch swing and bathing her gently with bubblegum baby soap; it came with cradling her tightly against his chest when she fussed at night and teaching her how to crawl. It came with love: with every coo and giggle she let loose he felt his aches and pains ease into nothing. Her adoration transferred from her to him; she kept him alive.

He noticed the wrinkles around his eyes were growing steadily more smooth, and that the minor scrapes and bruises that accompanied every day life were healing within hours.

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She said his name for the first time at eight months old; he'd started looking forty-eight by then.

He'd laid down her favorite cotton blanket on the floor, and stationed her various dolls and playthings on the edges. It was passed her bedtime, but he knew she loved occupying herself while he ate his own dinner and watched television.

That night was different.

She dropped her toys indifferently and crawled over to the sofa. She clapped her tiny hands down on his feet. She glanced up at him devotedly with those wise green eyes, and grinned big and wide.

"Re-y." She said.

And though it wasn't quite right, he jumped for joy and laughed anyway. Rogue, wanting to join in the celebration, raised her arms until he lifted her and twirled around the room.

"Re-y!" she squealed. "Re-y, Re-y, Re-y!" Her excitement grew with his, and she giggled frantically when he kissed her chubby hands and tickled her tummy.

"Y' always know how to make dis Cajun de happiest homme in de world, chére." He brushed a downy curl from her cheek. "Let's get y' to bed, hein? S'been a long day."

She pouted, but her cheeks dimpled as she yawned. "Re-y," she repeated a final time before slipping into sleep. Her hand curled around his thumb.

His heart throbbed.

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They went through all the major milestones that were expected in the first year: she learned to walk and thus got into everything. He often found pages of his books ripped from their bindings and decorated with yellow and green swirls. His cards were taken from their respective decks and adorned with scented stickers and stuck together with glitter glue. She 'explored' the lower cabinetry and used the various pots and pans to orchestrate a musical—it felt completely natural for him to get on his knees and join in the fun.

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Year Three.

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To say he simply spoiled the girl would not do Remy's dedication to every one of her whims justice. Everything she wanted, and even some things she didn't, was granted to her as soon as she asked. She had a slight obsession with Dora and Boots—he thought it funny that the show was considered a 'classic' by that time—and her bedroom mirrored her idol. Of course, walking into her room and seeing the character's smiling face on pillows, dolls, pajamas, and posters made Remy just the slightest bit uneasy, but what Rogue wanted, Rogue received.

He'd never been any good at saying no to Rogue back when she was an adult, and Ororo had always handled putting Marie in time outs—he just couldn't discipline a fille. There was something about big eyes and sweet voices that left him lacking a backbone.

She banged her tiny hands on the arm rests of her highchair. "Doughnuts! Doughnuts!" she chanted.

He held a bowl and her favorite cereal before her. "How 'bout y' eat somethin' else, p'tite? You've had doughnuts for breakfast all week. Do y' wanna get fat?"

Rogue gave him a withering look, and it was more than hilarious, if not a little strange, seeing the familiar expression of his lover on a toddler's face.

"Don't cay-er! Want 'um! Pweeese?" She was begging him with those eyes, and he never could say no once those sparkling emeralds got involved.

He returned the cereal box to its rightful place, and heard Rogue giggling excitedly—she knew she'd gotten her way. Again.

"Come on." He hauled her up from the chair easily.

It was getting less and less difficult to lift heavier and heavier objects. When he washed his stomach in the shower he could feel the old, but familiar feeling of muscle. His back only ached sometimes and his daily morning jogs had gone from thirty minutes to a full hour.

He smiled. The implications of what this meant always managed to astound and excite him—no matter how long or how often he thought about them.

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In the mornings while Rogue still slept and before he left for his run, Remy would sit in the sunroom with his mug of black coffee and his French newspaper.

The sky in Le Limousin was like none other in the world, and Remy had seen a lot of skies and many dawns. Here, in his cottage surrounded by tall grass, it was as if he was someplace straight from the pages of a fantasy novel. Violet and pink splashed like watercolors across the heavens.

He closed his eyes, took a final sip of his bitter, steaming brew, and then stood to begin his run across his land.

"My land," he uttered into the chilly air. There was no one to hear him say it, yet he knew he was heard. By Tante and Jean-Luc, by Bobby, by Kitty—by all those who weren't with him anymore.

And he said it simply because it felt nice to do so.

Remy let the screen door flap shut. His sneakers slid across the dewy grass. Grey fog surrounded him and the wet mist splattered against his face; if he licked his lips he could taste the earthy moisture.

He liked to run along the poppy flower field once he left the sunroom. The bright red petals reminded him of sweet fire. If Phoenix had had a body of her own he would have buried her here—no other place would have suited her better.

His jog took him past the small stream and at least a mile of wooded land. He had familiarized himself with the jagged roots and large rocks that littered the ground, and avoided them easily. Birds chirped high in the branches he couldn't see or hope to reach. Rabbits and other rodents scurried from the path and bounded into bushes and holes as he passed by. It'd been a long time since anything or anyone had regarded Gambit with fear.

He paused to take a breath at what Rogue had so aptly named 'The Twisty Trees' when they'd come here to play. He glanced down the line and marveled at the curving branches. They were just barely tall enough to avoid hitting him as he gathered his energy and ran beneath them, but the sagging blankets of moss and leaves still tickled the top of his head. The trees did look out of this world and a little bit magical, now that he thought about it, and he supposed Rogue's various tales of leprechauns and pixies residing in the upper branches weren't completely born of her imagination alone.

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When he reached the end of his jaunt he was atop the hill that overlooked his home and the surrounding areas. He could see everything so clearly—even the rising globe of warmth that was shooting orange and yellow daggers through the violet and rose-tipped fingers in the sky.

He wiped the sweat from his brow, and made his way down.

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He towel-dried his hair when he finished his soothing shower and hopped back into the bed in jeans and a t-shirt. He wasn't sleepy, but he knew how much Rogue enjoyed throwing open his door when she woke up and tickling him until his eyes opened.

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Most days were spent in leisure and love. They went to the market and re-stocked their cabinets and fridge. They rented movies off of the internet and watched them on their television. Their afternoons were spent exploring more of the woods and fields, and Rogue grew faster and faster right before his eyes.

But one morning, just another morning—complete with doughnuts and cartoons—the happy melody of their life hit an off-key note.

Ororo called him, and while that wasn't a bad thing, Remy felt himself reeling from the sound of her voice. She was quite literally a blast from his past, and the guilt of leaving her hit him harshly.

"S'good to hear from y', 'Ro." He turned to watch Rogue in her high-chair, and she gave him a grin full of chocolate and sprinkles.

He grinned right back; the knots in his stomach began to unravel.

"I'm glad to hear you say that, Remy." She chuckled.

The sound sent warmth sprawling through his chest.

"I received the dress you sent me—you really shouldn't have, it's much too expensive!"

"Y' can't ever get somethin' too expensive on y' birthday, p'tite. Y' only turn fifty-six once." Sometimes he tried to imagine what Ororo and the others must have looked like. But most times it was too painful—after all, he'd cheated aging and death in a way. They hadn't. They were still mortal and their strength was steadily weaning.

"Ugh. Don't remind me! I'm finding myself losing my keys more often—only to find that they were in my hand the whole time!"

She laughed, but Remy wanted to weep.

Ororo could sense his sadness in the deep silence. "Do not pity me, Remy. I am happy, I have lived a full life."

It was then he was able to smile. "Marie an de boys—" He leant against the wall and pressed his forehead against the cool stone. He felt the absence of his children like a missing limb. "How are dey? Did dey like what I sent for Christmas?"

"Of course they did. You've always known them so well."

"Have you—"

"No." She still managed to sound so polite, even when she was cutting him off, "They still think you died in a car crash, and I don't plan on telling them any differently."

He'd thought as much, but it still hurt hearing it voiced aloud. "Makes sense," he managed.

"Yes," her breath crackled in the headset of the phone, "but I know it doesn't make it any less painful, and for that I am sorry, Remy."

He nodded, though he knew she couldn't see the action. "Sometimes I t'ink about how t'ings could be different if we hadn't let Jeannie try to fight Phoenix off by herself—"

"Don't look back," she pleaded. "It will drive you crazy if you look back. What happened, happened, and we can't change it now."

"Who says I ain't crazy already?"

The comment had the desired effect. Ororo chuckled and he smiled at hearing the sound of it, and the harsh, dense ice that had descended upon them was turned to mush. Their words still had a tint of cold to them, but it was bearable then.

"Rogue must be three by now—"

"Three and a half, mais smarter den a femme twenty years older," he declared proudly. "She's gorgeous, Stormy."

She couldn't seem to answer him at first. "That name—it brings back so many memories." Her voice wavered, but she pressed on. "Have you thought about schooling yet?"

He scratched the back of his head bashfully. "Well, I figured since her memories are gonna come back anyway—"

"—that you'd just spend your time playing and getting nothing done?" she finished, her voice full of barbs. "Remy LeBeau you should be ashamed of yourself! What if her memories don't come back for another fifty years, hm? Are you just going to live with an uneducated woman until then?"

He was laughing too hard to speak, and Rogue was studying him curiously from across the kitchen.

"What's so funny?" she demanded in her tiny, yet commanding, voice. "Tell me," she wailed when he continued to laugh instead of listening to her.

He turned his head away from the phone and gave his chère a wink. "I'm talkin' wit an old friend right now, I'll tell y' in a little bit, d'accord?"

The belle puffed up her reddening cheeks in frustration, but said nothing more on the matter. She stuck out her tongue at him before returning to her paper and crayons. The face and sides of their massive refrigerator were already covered in over-lapping artwork, and Remy winced when he began to think of where else around the house he could stuff her—'misterpaces'— as she liked to call them.

He pressed the phone back against his cheek. "Did I mention her attitude is still de same? Dieu, s'like de woman knows what she's doin'."

"I wish I could see her one last time," she murmured wistfully.

He didn't like the pain or the longing coming from her. He didn't like that she spoke as if she'd truly never see Rogue again. It was too final, too sure. The image of Storm, of his Storm, was as it had always been: a radiant goddess with a mane of white hair and eyes of the clearest blue. A woman with astounding eloquence who held herself proudly, like only a goddess could. If he accepted what she said it would mean he'd have to accept the glaring fact that Ororo—his teammate, his friend, his wife, the mother of his children—was going to die without him. He was racing towards youth and she was racing towards the grave.

"Don' talk like dat, y' hear me?" He was trembling. He hadn't trembled that badly since before he gave up drinking for good. "I promise you'll see her again."

He expected an argument, but she gave him none.

"I believe you, Remy."

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The conversation left him raw but cleansed. He held Rogue as soon as the phone was on the receiver and wept on her small, curly head.

"Don't be sad." He felt her arms encircle his neck and squeeze him tight.

And it was easy for him to wipe away his tears and do as she asked. "Merci, p'tite. I'm better now."

"Luh ya."

"Love y', too." He transferred her back to her seat and righted the papers he'd knocked over while picking her up. "Rogue," he began seriously, "What would y' say to bein' home schooled?"

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Year Seven.

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Winter came to Le Limousin and Remy grumbled under his breath each time Rogue shook him awake in the morning and insisted that he get dressed. She wouldn't leave him alone until he completed the tedious task of pulling on clothes as well as his coat, gloves, and boots in his half-asleep state. She would shove him through the door and roll her eyes when he complained about the cold.

"Stop complainin'!" She kept his hand in hers as they made their way around back. "It snowed the perfect snow last night!"

"Perfect snow for breakin' my ass bone—"

She shot a dirty glare over her shoulder and ran the rest of the way to the shed. "Hurry up and unlock it!"

"De snow ain't goin' no where, chère." But he sped up his comfortable trot anyway and unlocked the bolt.

She squeezed by him through the tiny opening and retrieved their sleds from the rack. "Ah'm so excited!" She jumped up and down, and he couldn't help but grin.

He still wasn't used to hearing the return of that familiar accent, but it was getting easier all the time.

Remy, knowing the drill all too well, sat on the bright pink sled of doom that he was forced to buy, and dug his feet into the snow to keep from moving. With an almost devious smirk the belle settled herself on his lap and fidgeted with the reins impatiently. He made sure he had a secure hold around her narrow waist before he tucked his feet in the sled and pushed off the ground.

She screamed all the way down. He screamed, too, but out of terror rather than glee. Of course, he'd deny it when Rogue would bring it up at dinner later that night.

They hit an embankment before the sled could slow down or come to a stop, and were thrown from the flimsy, plastic plaything and deposited some feet later. Remy, who felt eight years younger at least, barely felt the throbbing in his joints. He was more occupied with brushing the snowflakes from the curls of the giggling girl atop him—along with his own loud, hearty laughter.

Her head fell to his chest when she calmed down and they both attempted to catch their breath. He saw that her cheeks were red when she looked up to meet his eyes.

"Ya gotta admit—that was fun as hell!"

"Watch y' language," he chuckled. "An' I wouldn't confuse 'fun' wit 'suicidal' if I were y'. S'not safe." He gave her a wink before sitting up and overturning her onto the snowy ground.

"Hey!" She blew snow from her nose and swept her wool mittens across her face. "Jerk!" She ran after him as he tried to escape to the backyard. "No fair!" she managed in between gulps of air. "Yoah legs are longer than mine!"

Instead of answering her, Remy purposefully slipped on the ice and allowed himself to fall to the solid surface. "Ouch! Oh help me! I can't get up!"

Rogue's face brightened and she straddled the Cajun's waist. "Gotcha!" She giggled and took hold of the lapels of his coat.

Had she been older, much older, it would have been an erotic position, and he wouldn't have minded so much. But the thought of being attracted to Rogue—even the adult Rogue—sent Remy through a sea of emotions: from guilt, to longing, to sadness, and even disgust with himself. Because even though the laughing girl above him wasn't attractive to him in the least, she was still Rogue, and therefore—still attractive to him. The love he felt for Rogue wasn't brotherly or fatherly, and that fact hadn't changed.

As if reading his thoughts, Rogue sobered and bit her lip. The action sent his heart to beating.

"Remy? Can Ah ask ya a question?"

The snow was beginning to fall more harshly, so Remy grabbed her close and stood up. "O'course, p'tite. But why don't we go inside an' warm up first?" He carried her to the screen door of the sunroom.

They kicked off their boots and left their coats, mittens, and scarves to dry. He could sense Rogue's burning need to ask her question, and somehow, he knew it wasn't going to be easy to answer. Especially since she seemed so lost in thought. Any other time she would simply ask what was on her mind without a second thought.

She was practically bursting at the seams by the time they'd sat down at the kitchen table with mugs of steaming cocoa in their hands.

"Remy—"

"Marshmallows?" He left his cup on the table and went to the cabinet to retrieve the sweets. Something about this…felt strange. Monumental even. Like what she was itching to ask was going to change the dynamic of their entire relationship.

Puffy treats found, Remy sat back down and silently scoffed at himself. She was seven years old—how significant could her question possibly be?

"Stop stallin'," said she. She did, however, scoop up many of the miniature puffs and drop them into her mug.

"Stallin'?" He sipped his hot drink and smiled stiffly. "Who's stallin'?"

Rogue gave him a look but dropped the banter. "Ah was just wonderin'"—she ducked her head and stirred her cocoa sullenly—"what we are? To each other Ah mean."

His lips paused on the lip of his mug, and the steam wafting up from the brown drink hurt his eyes. He'd expected this question—how couldn't he?

"What do y' mean?" He put more marshmallows into his cup in nervousness rather than desire. He knew exactly what she meant.

"It's just, well, Ah don't call ya dad—"

He had to force the brew to slide down his throat.

"And Ah'm pretty sure yoah not my brother…"

She was waiting for him to contribute some sort of response, but he was too shaken. His mind was racing with thoughts: should he tell her the truth? Should he lie for now but tell her when she got older? Should he wait until her memories returned and let her remember on her own? He remembered what Ororo said years before—what if she didn't regain her memories for another fifty years? If he didn't tell her now she could grow tired of waiting and move on. She could begin to think of him as an uncle figure and fall in love with another man, and by the time her memories returned it would be too late.

"So what are we?" she repeated.

He felt overwhelmed by her impatient emerald eyes. It shouldn't be so hard; he should have been able to lay everything on the table before her and answer the many more question she'd be sure to have.

But how did one tell a seven-year-old that she was the love of his life?

As good timing would have it—he'd realize later on that it was nothing less than amazing timing since they lived too far out for much company—there was a round of muffled knocking on the door.

He gave Rogue a pointed look and she nodded before running off to her room. Meanwhile, Remy reached into his pocket and began tearing away the plastic he'd bought off of a brand new deck of cards. He let the energy in the first card buzz at his fingertips as he made his way over to the front door.

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After listening to her breathless explanation in a flurried mix of both French and English, Remy led the shivering woman to the living room and did his best to make her comfortable. He insisted that she sit in the chair closest to the fireplace, and gave her a warm blanket from his bedroom.

"My name's Robert. Robert Lord." He held out his hand and she shook it with a smile.

"I'm Monet. Lovely to meet you."

"Y' hands are freezin'. How about some cocoa?" he offered.

She nodded eagerly, still rubbing her hands together, and he went to the kitchen.

Rogue was watching the dark-haired woman warily from her place around the corner. "Who the hell is she?"

"Watch y' language," he corrected automatically as he began to heat up a fresh pot of cocoa. "An' I'm not sure who she is, chère. Her car broke down a ways back, an' she had to walk half a mile to get here." He shook his head and unpleasant tremors went up his spine. "Just t'inkin' about it makes my teeth chatter."

Her eyes narrowed. "Nobody ever comes this far out in the country," she pointed out. "Ah think it's weird that she got stranded out here of all places." Her upper lip was curled slightly, which alerted Remy to her temperamental state.

"Would y' feel better if I interrogated de femme?" He was only joking, but he saw that he'd unwittingly given Rogue ammunition.

"Much better actually." She tossed her hair over her shoulder haughtily. "Weren't ya the one always harpin' on me about stranger danger and all that bullsh—"

Remy gave her a look.

"—crap? Ah mean, what if she's some kinda serial killer who pulls this sort of plan all the time! Maybe we're just gonna be another family on her list of victims!"

The Cajun leant against the counter and held his aching sides. Rogue glared at him.

"Laugh all ya want, but Ah'm sleepin' with a knife."

"An' risk cuttin' y'self? Don' t'ink so," said he, finally recovering from his laughter. His hand found her shoulder and he squeezed her there. "Y' got nothin' to worry about, Roguey."

She pouted and stomped her foot. "Well don't expect me to introduce myself to our murderer." With that, she spun on her heel and went to sulk in her bedroom.

Remy shook his head fondly and readied the drink for serving.

"It's hot." He handed her the cup on a saucer and gave her a warm smile before sitting on the opposite chair.

"Thank you so much." She drank gratefully; he could see color returning to her cheeks.

He gave her another grin in lieu of an answer and watched the fire crackling in the hearth. He couldn't believe how lucky he was for having this distraction. He wasn't ready to decide what to do about Rogue yet, and it would probably be a while before he was. For now, he wanted to give her a happy, normal life, and worrying her with all the tragic, painful times their story was filled with would hinder that.

And he still could not imagine professing his love to someone so young. It gave him chills.

"—alright?"

His attention snapped to her; he winced apologetically after noticing her empty cup and patient stance.

"Désolé. I've got a lot on my mind." That was the understatement of the century. "Could y' repeat dat?"

She was obviously not surprised that he hadn't been listening. "I was just asking if your daughter is alright." He found himself enjoying the coloring the French accent added to her voice. "She seemed…uncomfortable. I hope it wasn't something I said—"

"She just isn't used to meetin' strangers," he said smoothly, then chuckled. "Guess dat's my fault. I've kept her pretty sheltered since her mama passed away."

Remy stood to prevent her from speaking, and gathered their dishes. He'd given her enough to satiate any curiosity she may have possessed; he hoped that she wouldn't ask anymore questions for fear of being rude. He'd never expected company out of the blue like this. Living so far out in the country had caused him to relax, and he was paying for it now. He hadn't even warned Rogue about the importance of giving away her true name to no one.

Not that any of his foes could have been concerned with him after so many years, but the guild still expected him to take Henri's place when the time was right. Remy had managed to keep both his brother and the elders at bay before his 'death', but if they ever found out he was alive there would be great consequences.

"I am sorry to hear that." She handed him her cup and saucer; her navy blue eyes were endless and searching. "She's a beautiful girl…" She seemed to go away for a moment. "What did you say her name was?"

He froze on the spot.

"Princess."

The two adults turned to stare at the girl. The woman with a smile and glinting eyes, and Remy with a raised eyebrow. Partly because she'd been eavesdropping, and partly because she couldn't think of anything better than 'Princess.'

"My mama," she gave Remy a dubious look, "was the daughter of a duke."

Remy fell into a fit of forced laughter and went across the room to pull Rogue tight against his chest, effectively smothering any further lies. "Kids and deir imagination!" he explained to Monet.

Really? his eyes and glower said.

Really. her smirk responded.

"Well, Princess," he forced out, "how about y' put some extra blankets in de guest bedroom?"

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Her curls were still wet from the bath, and they stuck like leeches to her night gown. He went into the bathroom to pick up her towel and mess before entering her room. Her normal room—it'd been more than a relief when she'd grown out of her Dora the Explorer phase. Her décor now was more like the Rogue he knew: lots of green and stuffed animals on every surface he could see.

He pushed the gauzy material of the canopy away and sat on the edge of the bed. "Everyt'ing okay?" She hadn't been her usual chatty self during dinner or when she'd finished her bath. Every other night she was dragging him to her bedroom for their nightly story time.

She shrugged and turned to the opposite side of the bed. He was taken aback. He knew Monet's presence made her uncomfortable—he couldn't understand why, women were such complex creatures—but he hadn't thought she'd be mad at him.

"She'll be gone tomorrow, chère."

The belle buried deeper beneath the covers. Her muffled voice came to him through the blankets. "That's not what Ah'm worried 'bout."

Remy leaned over and pulled the comforter from over her face. Her cheeks were red and tears were standing in her eyes. She sat up and some of the salty droplets fell to glide down to her chin.

"Ya were lookin' at her all…funny like." she grumbled. "And Ah'm the only person you can look at like that, okay?"

After rushing through the last part she flounced back against the pillows and pulled the blanket over her head.

.

When he was done comforting the distraught girl and assuring her that he and Monet weren't going to 'do it'—he'd have to start putting parental locks on the television and computer from now on—he stopped in the hallway to mull over what she'd said.

He meant it when he said nothing was going to happen. He was more than content to wait until Rogue was old enough and gained her memories back for kissing and love making. He couldn't help but think, however, just how long it'd been. He hadn't noticed the craving in the beginning because of his age. Although he and Ororo had still been intimate in their marriage, the need had always been evoked instead of being there constantly. But he'd regressed, by his guess, back to his mid-forty's, and now he thought about it often. It was like an engine revving to life after years of being dormant.

It made him long for Rogue even more. Each time he thought about her as she used to be his stomach flip-flopped. He daydreamed about the nice little things he'd do for her and the smiles she'd give him in return. And that was what he wanted most: to make her smile, to keep her smile there. He'd caused too many tears to fall from her jeweled eyes when he'd had her, but if things go his way she'd never cry for him again.

But wasn't that exactly what was happening? Hadn't she been huddled under her blankets weeping because of him?

He thought about her watery eyes and blushing cheeks. He thought about her unanswered question and her complete distrust of Monet. He thought about her fear concerning his feelings towards their guest and her statement: 'Ah'm the only person you can look at like that.'

And he sighed and sat down, right there in the hallway. It seemed that despite her age and lack of memory, there was still some part of Rogue that wanted him and loved him as much as he still wanted and loved her.

.

The snow did not let up during the night, and the three inhabitants in the house woke to a world of utter whiteness. The doors and windows were completely buried beneath the masses of snow and ice; it would be impossible for their guest to leave just yet.

He saw that Rogue figured this out as well, and her expression was that of dread and a frosty anger that chilled him from across the room.

Remy's entire body screamed an apology, but Rogue wouldn't have it. She gave Monet a hateful glare before leaving the sunroom and returning to her room.

"She sure is protective of you." Monet turned from the white-washed window. Her hands were twisting together nervously. "I feel like such a burden—"

Remy didn't say anything at first. In all honesty she was quite the burden: because of her Rogue wouldn't speak to him, and, he hated to admit it, she was a burden on him. She was the first attractive female he'd been this close to in years. He couldn't help the way he was wired, his body naturally responded to a pretty pair of breasts. Even if he found himself sometimes sweating beneath her piercing eyes, even if he didn't like the way she seemed to know so much more than what he told her, even if he'd caught her watching Rogue from the doorway while she slept the night before—his hormones still reacted.

He couldn't help it, but he felt as though he was betraying Rogue some how.

She wore a sweatshirt and sweatpants of his that he'd leant her as pajamas. He wouldn't admit, even to himself, that she looked absolutely arousing in them.

Remy managed a flippant assurance that she was not a burden, then went to track down his angered belle. Monet was a beautiful woman, but nothing compared to his green-eyed girl.

.

He found her at Rogue's door in the wee hours of the morning. The moonlight was gleaming off of the moisture brimming in her eyes.

She acknowledged his presence calmly, as if she'd known this night and the last he'd been watching her.

"What're you doin'?" His voice wavered; he didn't sound as foreboding as he wanted to.

"She's happy, Remy. You've obviously done well."

He wanted to grill her and get some answers. He wanted the heaviness in his stomach to disappear. He wanted her gaze to be less piercing, knowing.

Just then the sun rose, and yellow flashed in her eyes.

The rest of the inquiries died upon reaching his lips. There was a pressure building behind his eyes as he tried figuring this strange woman out.

She went back to watching the sleeping girl, and he stood there. Haunted memories slithered their way into his brain and familiarity wasn't far behind. He wondered about Monet: the things she knew about them, the way she seemed to know he was lying to her face, her preoccupancy with Rogue.

Monet moved and so did he. They both ended up standing above Rogue's bed, listening to her breathe in and out.

"I wanted to steal her away," she confessed. "I was convinced that I could do a better job." She kneeled and rested her hand on Rogue's pale cheek. Something like grief and anguish were building inside the woman. He could see and feel that.

The question was: why?

"But I will never again make her do something she doesn't want to. I'll never push her away again." She stood up, stretching as she did so. "I'm exhausted. Good night."

He nodded, still in a daze from all he'd just witnessed and heard, and watched as Monet leaned over and kissed the girl's forehead.

"Goodnight, Marie."

.

He woke to the sound of fluttering bird wings. He knew from the quiet, less oppressing air that Monet was gone.

Once he distanced himself from the situation it was easy for his mind to come up with the answer.

Rogue burst into his room. "She's gone!" She ran in and landed next to him. "Now things can go back to normal." He felt her nuzzle against him.

He envisioned the yellow in her eyes and heard her saying Rogue's name. He wondered if his chère would be as happy seeing the woman gone if she knew that woman had been her mother.


I broke the chapter into two parts because it was going on 16 pages with no sight in end, and I know that HUGE chapters can sometimes be a bit discouraging.

Hope y'all enjoyed, and I'll begin working on Part Two this weekend.

Song: Strawberry Swing from the album: Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends.

Review Please.