Five years later:
Rogue and Remy pulled up in the parking lot of a quiet café, and Remy took Rogue's hand as they headed inside. Both of them were a little nervous about having lunch with Jackie.
It had taken time, but the X-men had eventually accepted Remy as one of their own. Occasionally he would even join them or otherwise advise them on various missions as he was often able to supply valuable information.
Rogue had eventually started giving Remy those spankings he was so fond of. At first it just felt weird to her, but when he started giving her verbal lists of all the things had done wrong (many of them Rogue considered trivial), she started feeling very uncomfortable with the whole thing. It was one thing if it was a kink, quite another thing if he actually thought he deserved it, and Rogue couldn't really tell which one it was. She began countering his lists of wrongdoings with lists of good deeds (some of them Remy considered trivial), which she subsequently rewarded him for.
As Rogue never did find out that Remy hated himself, she also never realised that her insistence in pointing out all the good in him—and even arguing him out of certain items on his lists of misdeeds—had gone a long way towards mending his poor self esteem. Bella Donna did notice, however, and rightly credited this newer, happier Remy to Rogue's influence. She also made a point of telling Jackie that she thought that Rogue was the best thing to ever happen to him, and even thanked her for putting her own feelings aside so they could be together.
"There she is," Remy said, with a nod in Jackie's direction.
Rogue looked and grinned when she spotted six-month pregnant Jackie, sitting at one of the tables with her laptop opened in front of her. They walked over and sat down at the two empty chairs. Jackie smiled at their arrival and shut the lid of her laptop.
"Hey," Jackie greeted them. "I was starting to wonder if you'd ever get here."
"Oh please, we're right on time," Rogue said, pulling a face at her. "You're way early."
"I hate people watching me waddle," Jackie replied flippantly.
Remy chuckled. A waitress came over and the three ordered drinks.
"So, what's this about?" Jackie asked them. "I get worried when I get calls from you two saying you want to meet with me."
Rogue and Remy looked at each other, then back at Jackie.
"Well, see, sugar..." Rogue began awkwardly.
"Mon dieu, you're not pregnant are you?" Jackie asked, wincing at the very idea.
"No," Rogue said slowly, then glanced at Remy. "But we're hoping that'll be a possibility in the future."
"Aww man," Jackie said irritably. "Papa, you're pushing fifty. What the hell do you need to be a father again for?"
"I happen to be a very youthful forty-eight year old," Remy replied good-naturedly. "And Roguey wants kids."
"But that's not why we wanted to talk to you, Sunshine," Remy went on and took Rogue's hand in his. "You see, the thing is... We want to get married."
There was dead silence.
"Married?" Jackie repeated, sounding like she was almost choking on the word. "Papa, seriously, you were married to Maman for twenty-three years. Have you learned nothing?"
"Henri and Mercy have been married for thirty-four years," Remy replied. "And they certainly don't regret it."
"Well, someone's got to make the other fifty percent," Jackie muttered. "Besides, statistically speaking, second marriages don't last as long as first marriages where the first one died 'cause of divorce."
"But I haven't been married before," Rogue pointed out.
"I'm well aware of what's at stake, Sunshine," Remy said patiently. "Why do you think it took me so long to pop the question in the first place? I have zero interest in repeating the same mistakes with Rogue as I did with Belle."
"Different mistakes on the other hand..."
"Everyone makes mistakes, sugar," said Rogue. "And yeah, it's likely that we'll have our rough patches, married or not. It's how we deal with them that's the important thing."
"Can't you just be together without getting married?" Jackie asked.
"Well, we could," Remy said. "Marriage is more than just a wedding and a bit of paper. It's a sharing of your entire lives; heart, body, mind, experiences, everything. It's knowing that when you're going through a rough time that there's always going to be someone there to help you up. It's always having someone to celebrate the good times with. It's having someone to create good times with. It's having someone you can share everything you are with, especially the things you can't share with anyone else. It's being able to see each other at our worst and at our best. It's being complete. It's mutual enhancement of our lives. It's the ultimate adventure, the greatest challenge and the most beautiful relationship any two people can have."
"When it works," Jackie said, completely unimpressed with Remy's romanticised speech.
"That's the greatest challenge part," Remy said with a slight grin. "Making it work. I know you can't understand why people still get married, but it's that fulfilment you get from a marriage that works that everyone's after. That's why Roguey wants to get married, and that's why I want to try again. We don't need a wedding or a piece of paper to have the relationship we want, Sunshine, but it would be nice to make it official."
"Besides, if it's not formalised, you have no incentive to stick together when things get tough," Rogue added.
"Things got tough for Papa and Maman," Jackie pointed out, "and they got divorced."
"Oui, but we got married for political reasons, not personal ones," Remy replied wryly. "Politically speaking, our marriage worked, and it only ended after it served its purpose."
Jackie blanched and was saved from responding by the arrival of their drinks. The waitress gave Remy and Rogue their coffees, and slid an iced chocolate across the table to Jackie.
"So, you'll be glad to know," Jackie said as she scooped up some of the cream off her iced chocolate, "that I finally told Edmund about the Guild."
"About time," Rogue replied with a grin.
Jackie poked her tongue out at Rogue and then licked the cream off her spoon.
"How'd he take it?" Remy asked.
"Better than I hoped, not as well as I would have liked," Jackie replied. "He told me he suspected that there was more going on with me than what I was telling him. I guess that's just a natural consequence of living together for five years."
"Probably," Rogue said.
"He seemed happy about the fact that there wasn't going to be any financial pressure, but I think he was a little freaked out by the whole assassin thing," Jackie went on thoughtfully as she scooped up more cream. "He did ask me to teach him how to pick locks though."
Rogue giggled and Remy nodded.
"Mais, I'm glad you told him," Remy said. "If he was going to be a good father to your child, he needed to know you were planning on raising his baby to be a career criminal."
"Yeah, yeah, I know, I know," Jackie said. "He knows now. Hopefully he'll settle down and we won't have any problems."
"I'm sure everything'll work out," said Rogue.
Remy sipped at his coffee and Jackie sighed.
"I think I would have preferred it if you told me you were pregnant," Jackie muttered. "I'm sure I could handle having a half brother or sister younger than my kid way better."
"Well, with any luck I will be telling you that one day," Rogue said wickedly. "Hopefully a couple of times so you can have a half brother and a half sister."
"Meh," Jackie grumbled. "If I agree to this, I am not calling you 'Mama'."
"I wouldn't want you to," Rogue replied with a smirk. "Besides, I don't know what you're complaining about. By the time we get married—assuming we do—you will have had your baby, and I'll become a wife, a stepmother and a grandmother all on the same day."
Jackie laughed and Remy grinned at Rogue.
"Little anxious about being a grand-mère, chère?" he asked.
"I'm way too young to be a grandmother," Rogue replied, grinning back at him. "I'm not even thirty yet."
"I don't know, chère," said Remy, his eyes glinting with mischief. "There are children of teenage mothers becoming teenage mothers too, thus making their mothers grandmothers at about thirty or younger."
"Yeah, but at least they have kids first," Rogue said, and took a sip of her own coffee.
Jackie stirred her iced chocolate while they bantered, and then sipped some through the straw. She didn't like this marriage idea of theirs, not one bit. She didn't want to see either of them get hurt, and as far as Jackie saw things, marriage was a good way to ruin a perfectly good relationship. On the other hand, Remy was right about Henri and Mercy. Jean-Luc and Carole seemed to be doing okay too. She couldn't say for certain with Louis and Adele, who were coming up to their fourth wedding anniversary.
"Okay," Jackie said.
Rogue and Remy looked at her.
"Okay?" Remy asked.
"Okay, you can get married," Jackie said, not actually looking at either of them. "Just promise me before you tie the knot that you're absolument sure this is what you want."
"It is and we do," Rogue said, reaching over to take Jackie's hand. "Thank you, sugar."
"Merci, Sunshine," Remy said, smiling at her. "You have no idea how much—"
"Yeah, yeah," Jackie cut in. "Don't get all sappy on me now."
"All I ask in return is that I get to be the maid of honour," Jackie went on. "I've never been a bridesmaid before. Plus, I want to make a speech."
"Sure," Rogue said, grinning at her. "I wouldn't want anyone else, anyway."
"Good to know," Jackie said slyly, "Grandma."
Rogue pulled a face at her. Remy just laughed.
I can't believe it's really over. This story has been a joy, a chore and a challenge to write. While I can't say that I enjoyed every moment of it, every moment of being stuck and frustrated has been completely worth it. There were times when I thought I'd never see the end, and now that I'm here I don't want to let go, haha.
Thanks as always to all my reviewers for all your support and encouragement.
Especial thanks to those who took the time to go over different things that happened in each chapter; the things that you noticed the most was very helpful. As I said previously, all my scenes have a purpose and it was useful as a writer to know what you as readers pick up on. (Admittedly, in some cases, the purpose of the scene was to distract you from something that happen just prior, heh).
If by chance anyone here decides to reread this story in the future, I would appreciate it if you could let me know either through PM or review if you picked up on anything new the second time. There were lots of things that happened at the end of the story which I needed to plant seeds for in advance so it didn't seem out of the blue, but I didn't want those seeds to be too obvious on a first reading and risk spoiling the ending ;)
There were also a number of ideas and subplots I ended up having to cut from the story:
Perhaps the most significant subplot I had to cut involved Jackie going to rape victim support meetings. The idea was that she would come across one girl who would declare that she wished her rapist was dead. Jackie, being Jackie, would supply the means to this end. As a result, Jackie would end up going on a rapist killing spree. Eventually she would meet one girl, a Christian who ended up pregnant as a result of her rape. Jackie would ask her why she didn't get an abortion ("because God is creating this life inside me"), and offer to kill the rapist for her ("no, I'm trying to forgive him, and he can't be saved if he's dead"). Obviously such attitudes would be really confusing for Jackie, and I thought it would be fun to explore. I also liked the idea of Rogue trying to explain that it's very easy to hate, it's a lot harder to forgive. Unfortunately, it didn't really add anything to the story, there were time constraints, and it would have put the focus on Jackie, rather than Rogue and Gambit where it belonged.
I also originally planned to have Rogue and Gambit sleep together prior to Rogue finding out the truth about the Cure. By extension, I also toyed with the idea of Rogue ending up pregnant. This idea was dropped because Rogue informed me that there was no way she'd ever take Gambit back if she felt he'd tricked her into having sex with him. I wanted a happy ending, so, no sex.
Oh and for everyone who was disappointed about Gambit's eyes being brown, I had thought of a way to change them back: Jackie can manipulate living matter, and although it reverts back to its original state after she "lets go", Gambit's brown eyes aren't his original state. Theoretically it could work permanently. I decided not to for multiple reasons: #1, It would have added nothing to the story; #2, It would have pushed Jackie over the edge into Mary Sue territory; #3, While Jackie is prepared to experiment on herself and homeless people, I didn't think she was inclined to experiment on her loved ones like that unless she was absolutely certain she knew what she was doing. But for those of you who really wanted Gambit's eyes to be restored, you can always pretend that it happened after the events of the story, when Jackie was better equipped with more knowledge and experience in her powers, and possibly doing some research into neuroscience or something.
Carol Danvers' appearance was actually a little last minute. I really wanted to write a danger room scene where Rogue was being pushed, but I was having trouble writing it. The truth of the matter is that anyone could have had Carol's role in that scene, but I was really taken with the idea of having Rogue and Carol in a story that didn't involve Rogue absorbing Carol. (Come on, just how many of you thought Rogue was going to absorb her the moment Carol introduced herself? Hehehe.) That fact that Carol's appearance was last minute is also the reason why there ended up being 'Carol' and 'Carole', as I had invented Jean-Luc's second wife long before I wrote the danger room scene.
There was one suggestion from a reviewer that I adored. In a review to chapter 11 (while I was working on chapters in the 20s), Ruroca57 suggested I write Remy and Jackie do a father/daughter heist. That would have been awesome, and I even started writing it, but then discovered it wasn't going to fit in with what I needed. Pity.
This end note is way, way longer than I intended, heh.
Finally, my next story is tentatively titled "The Chase". It's not ready to be posted yet, not even close. In preparation for this story, I highly recommend watching Wolverine and the X-men as it will be set in that universe and it will refer to it heavily. There will be spoilers and/or confusion for anyone who hasn't seen it.