A/N So here's the sequel to Noctambulism. It isn't one hundred percent crazy strictly necessary that you read that first, but I seriously advise that. On that note, most important topics should be brought up soon so if you decide eh, don't feel like it, life goes on.
"It has been six months to the day since the mutant terrorist known as Magneto launched his attack on Boston. Over 4,500 people are assumed dead, though experts say those numbers could be much higher."
The news reporter's face disappeared, replaced by a series of images. A bombed out police station, the rubble surrounding what used to be an office building, a very shocking stain of red on the cement, thousands of people running in the streets streaming toward any way out.
"Among the destroyed buildings are churches, office buildings, military locations and clinics that supported the so-called mutant cure. Magneto has rekindled the terrorist group known as The Brotherhood. The exact number of mutants with Magneto is not known, but it is estimated that at least 1,000 have rallied to his cause, with more pouring in everyday.
"The military has so far been unable to enter Boston, every attempt foiled by mutants protecting the borders of what Magneto is calling the 'free mutant state'. It is rumored that an airstrike was ordered two days ago, but interference of some kind caused the bombs to detonate early, miles above the city. As Boston is on a harbor, Magneto has many options for obtaining food, goods and anything he needs to keep the city running.
"Many mutants have been drawn to the Brotherhood, fighting or sneaking into Boston. The largest surge was seen when hundreds of mutants fled to Boston after the riots of New York, Dallas, and Los Angeles where a total of three humans were killed as well as over 60 mutants in total. The last six months have also seen a dramatic 59% rise in crime against mutants, most of these crimes violent, though less than 1% make it to trial. In fact, last week, despite multiple eyewitness testimonies and incontrovertible evidence, Michael Ettle, a Florida man, was found not guilty of brutally murdering his mutant neighbor. Hours after the verdict of not guilty, Ettle was found stabbed to death in his own home.
"Cities such as Tallahassee and many small towns scattered across America have publically proclaimed mutants are no longer welcome. Because of this, many mutants have become targets of mob and vigilante justice. Mutant safe havens have been erected in cities such as Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. Also, many pacifist all-mutant camps have been set up in the deserts on the western half of the country, the inhabitants preferring to retreat from the violence seen in most communities."
"Well at least their closer to de truth dan dat Fox News bullshit," Gambit said, turning off the news. "What did dey say last week, mutants in America are all part of a mass conspiracy t' overthrow de world's governments?"
"Yes," Storm said wearily. "Something along those lines."
The X-Men, Logan, Storm, Hank, Jubilee, Rogue, Gambit, Bobby, Pete, Kitty, John and Emma were gathered, all looking ragged. The past six months had them running all over the country, stopping riots, anti-mutant violence and, of course, saving and taking in kids. In fact, they became so overwhelmed that they'd had to start a second school and safe haven in Seattle, the one mentioned in the news. Warren had volunteered to run it with, surprisingly, Betsy aka Psylocke. She, like John, had been deeply disturbed by Alcatraz and Magneto's new plan. After telepathically sizing each other up, Emma declared her trustworthy.
"No one mentioned the massacre in Maine, either," Jubilee pointed out. "Mutant on 'normal' person violence is everywhere, not the other way around. God forbid a mutant be the victim."
"Well that's what we're doing here," Storm said. "Teaching them to be no one's victim." She and Logan left the room, followed by Kitty and Pete a few minutes later until eventually the entire room emptied. Many went off the bed, but Gambit went to an empty office to work on even more modifications for the mansion. Over the last few months he'd made more and more security changes until the mansion was as fortified as a military base. Now though, with the number of hate crimes against mutants on a disturbing rise, he was abandoning subtlety for safety. The next morning, he, Logan, Pete and a few others were heading out to build a very strong wall around the property, one that Gambit insisted would make them immensely safer. He was having trouble deciding on exactly what features he should include. Guns that send out debilitating but non-lethal rubber rounds? Definitely. Power-dampening nets? Maybe. He was jerked out of his musings by his phone ringing.
"Bonjour Henri," he answered tiredly.
"You sound exhausted," Henri said.
"Saving de world does dat t' yo'," Gambit commented.
"How disgustingly noble of yo'," Henri said cheerily. "Yo' need t' get back t' some honest thieving."
"Probably," Gambit commented.
"Anyways, Christmas is in a month-"
"-and yo' know how Mercy is. If yo' don't show up deux years in a row, she'll probably fly up and kidnap yo'," Henri finished.
"Yo' know what de situation is like Henri, yo' know what de mutant community is going through," Gambit said. "It's not like I can just up and leave."
"It's de holidays," Henri insisted. "I'm sure dey can make it without yo' for a few days. Dey managed just fine for years before yo' came along. Plus, yo' can bring dis supposed girlfriend of yours."
Gambit sighed. "I'll talk t' Storm, but I make no guarantees."
"Fair enough," Henri said. "Yo' know…dis new mutant crisis is turning yo' into a much more serious Remy LeBeau. I'm not sure how I feel about it."
"I know. I'm not sure either," Gambit said. "Au revoir."
Gambit groaned and ran a hand over his face. How could he justify the trip home to Storm, to himself? Oh hey, I know the world is going to hell in a hand basket, there are hate crimes and riots everywhere, but I want to go home for Christmas anyways, can I get a few days off? Gambit snorted. Right, that'd go well.
Gambit decided he was done for the night and made his way to the staff bedrooms. He hesitated at Rogue's door, not wanting to wake her, then decided he was so light on his feet that he'd be fine and made his way in. He and Rogue had started spending at least half their nights together a few months ago, alternating between their two bedrooms. The amount of time spent together increased with the horror they saw. Gambit briefly worried she was only drawn to him in response to those horrors but quickly dismissed that thought. They both knew they were based on something stronger than fear.
Gambit stripped down until he was just in pajama pants. He carefully crawled into bed behind Rogue, draping an arm across his waist. She shifted slightly in her sleep, worming her way closer. Gambit drifted to sleep to the slow rhythmic beat of her heart.
Rogue woke before Gambit for once and took the opportunity to study her lover as he slept. She loved the look of peaceful serenity he only seemed able to achieve when sleeping. There was no amusement or teasing edge, just relaxed peace. All too soon he stirred, as if he instinctually knew she was awake.
"Good morning," he said, lazily tracing circles around her shoulder. She curled herself tighter against his body, tucking herself under his chin.
"Good morning to you, too," she answered. "When do you boys have to get started on those modifications?"
Gambit shrugged. "Whenever I feel like it," he said. "I talked t' Henri last night…I promised I'd ask Stormy about us spending Christmas in N'Awlins." He said this slowly as if unsure what her reaction would be. He needn't have worried, she broke into a gentle but genuine smile.
"I think that's a good idea," she said. "You miss your family, it's important you spend time with them."
"It's selfish of me t' try and take us away at a time like dis for something as trivial as a holiday," he said.
"It's not trivial at all and it's not selfish," she said softly. "It's about happiness, everyone deserves happiness, even in the worst possible times."
Gambit pulled her tighter against him. "I love you," he said into her temple.
She placed a kiss on his neck before answering. "I love you, too."
He smiled wider. "Yo' don't know how exciting it still is t' here yo' say dat."
"Mm, nice try. Go talk t' Storm."
Gambit was more than a little nervous to speak to Storm. He wasn't sure why, it wasn't exactly like he was shy. With a start, he realized he was worried about disappointing his old friend. He tapped hesitantly on her door.
"Come in," came the muffled reply. Gambit let himself in, pausing right inside the door. Storm looked up from her desk, eyebrows raised. "Remy, can I help you?"
"Oui," he said. He cleared his throat. "Uhm, I wanted t' ask if there was a way Rogue and I could, er, go home for Christmas," he finished somewhat lamely.
Storm's face twinkled in a knowing smile. "I think that can be arranged," she said.
Gambit blinked in surprise. "Just like dat?"
"Remy," she said, leaning forward. "I know your family. I know how close you all are. Do you know how rare that is? Especially for mutants? Most of us don't have that and probably never will. Go and see them. I don't blame you for that at all."
Gambit smiled. "Thank yo'."
Storm smiled back and turned her attention to the papers on her desk. "You're welcome. But get your butt outside to start the upgrades."
Holiday preparations were a nightmare. Luckily, most parents grasped the gravity of the current political climate, acknowledged it was dangerous for mutant children to be shuffled all across the country and instead opted to come to New York for Christmas. Unfortunately, there were always those parents that believed their children were safer with them no matter what, that they could protect their kids singlehandedly from a mob of murderous angry bigots. And of course there were families that had no idea that their children were mutants. It was an absolute logistical nightmare.
Rogue and Gambit left the day after all the students were gone. Both were uneasy about air travel given the tendency to shoot mutants first and ask questions later, so they opted to take the train to New Orleans. Slower, but less security intensive. Gambit kept his sunglasses on the entire time. Rogue only partially succeeded in quelling down the rage bubbling in the pit of her stomach at the man she loved having to hide part of who he was.
Henri met them at the train station in New Orleans, insisting that he meet the supposed long term girlfriend. His jaw dropped with such force that it nearly unhinged it. Gambit was highly amused by the time he and Rogue reached his brother, hand in hand.
"Staring is rude, yo' know," Gambit said.
Henri continued to stare regardless. As if suddenly his manners dropped back into his head, he took her hand in his, laying a kiss on her knuckles. "You must be de beautiful Rogue. And here we didn't think yo' existed."
Rogue smiled. "Henri, exactly as Remy described you," she said. Henri laughed loudly.
"When we're in public, refer t' us as Remy and Anna," Gambit said, dropping his voice and glancing around at the crowd as if they'd suddenly burst out torches and pitchforks. "Yo' can't be too careful."
Henri's face became solemn as he nodded. "Absolument. By all means, let's get out of de public."
Henri helped haul Gambit and Rogue's luggage into the nice but non-descript car. The drive to the LeBeau mansion was mostly spent by the brothers swapping stories, but eventually Gambit asked about the mutant climate. Henri sighed and ran a hand over his face.
"Not great," Henri admitted. "It's not as bad as other parts of de country by any means but still disappointing. I expect more from de people of N'Awlins."
"Sometimes they can be shockingly intolerant," Gambit sighed. "Outright attacks?"
"A few," Henri said, pulling into the mansion's long driveway. "There's an anti-mutant group that's gaining speed. We're very careful about what jobs mutants are given now. It's a damn shame."
"Oui," Gambit said sadly.
They walked into the LeBeau mansion, Rogue was shocked at the sheer size and grandeur. Gambit chuckled at Rogue's face, pressing a kiss to her cheek. He hauled their bags to the room they were going to share, Rogue trailing behind, doing her best to soak in everything in the beautiful house.
The room was no different. Dark wood furniture and deep red walls gave Rogue the impression of a businessman's expensive study. She flopped onto the bed, letting out an 'oomph' of air. Gambit grinned, crawling in next to her.
"Sleepy?" he asked.
"Yes," she said, eyes closed. "I don't know what it is about traveling but afterwards, I'm always exhausted. I mean, it's not like I walked to Louisiana from New York, but I'm just wiped."
Gambit laughed. "Here, roll over," he said. She opened an eye to give him a skeptical look but followed his instructions anyways. Gambit moved to straddle Rogue's lower waist, careful to keep his weight off her. Cracking his knuckles, he leaned over and began to work at the knots in the muscles of her back. She groaned involuntarily, bringing a grin to Gambit's face.
"You're perfect," she mumbled.
"I should've recorded that," Gambit joked. "De first and last time I'll ever hear those words from yo'."
"Absolutely," Rogue confirmed, voice getting hazier. It only took a few minutes before she'd completely drifted to sleep. Gambit slipped to her side and siddled up to her.
He was back, he really got to spend a week and a half with his family, in his home. The beautiful woman he was madly in love with was with him at his side, this was about as good as it was likely to get. No one was even trying to kill him, things were looking up.
He glanced at the clock on the bedside table. They still had a good three hours before they had to head downstairs for dinner, he figured he could afford to talk a bit of a nap. He settled down next to Rogue and closed his eyes .Basking in the rare moment of pure relaxation.
Christmas was always a grand affair for the LeBeaus, and this year was no different. In fact, they seemed to up the ante, building their very own North Pole in the backyard. They even got their pictures taken with 'Santa'. Henri complained about having t' wear the Santa suit for hours. Christmas Eve and Christmas were grand events, but the day they needed to return to New York was rapidly approaching. Rogue adored Gambit's family and they her, but she was really starting to crave time alone time with Gambit.
Once she'd voiced this, her wish was his command. Gambit whisked her out of the LeBeau mansion and to the French Quartier, one of his favorite districts. He parked and held the door open for Rogue. She stepped out with a smile, though it dimmed a bit at seeing he had on his sunglasses. In his hometown at night he couldn't merely take a walk without worrying about a persecutor.
As if sensing what she was thinking, he took her hand in his, rubbing her knuckles with his thumbs. "It's okay, chère," he promised her. "I've been wearing de glasses for years, even here."
"It's not right," she said.
"No, it's not," Gambit agreed. "But right now, it's not looking like we'll have a choice in the matter."
Rogue merely nodded. He was right, but that didn't stop her from being pissed. As she said, it wasn't right. They walked aimlessly for over an hour, occasionally stepping into a bar or shop.
"You're right," Rogue conceded. They were sitting on a bench, looking at the city around them.
"I told y' dat y' would like it," Gambit said. "And I make a habit of not being wrong." Rogue laughed, leaning her head into his shoulder.
They turned at the sound. This voice belonged to an obviously drunk man stumbling out of the nearest bar. His friends stumbled out behind him. "Remy, I haven't seen you in a long ass time!"
"Freddy," Gambit nodded, recognizing the thief.
"Guys," Freddy said, motioning to his friends. "We got ourselves a mutant freak over here!"
"Excuse me?" Rogue asked, voice cold and dangerous.
"Oh excuse me!" Freddy said. "Mutant freak and his mutant bitch."
Rogue was standing in a flash, followed hastily by Gambit. Freddy was drunk but he was ready. So were his twelve friends. They jumped on Rogue and Gambit, mercilessly hitting, kicking and scratching any surface they could. Of course, this only lasted the few seconds it took for them to be absorbed, blown off or thrown off by Gambit and Rogue. The rest ended quickly, the drunken men either unconscious or running away.
Rogue was breathing heavy, more from cold fury than exhaustion. Her face was already starting to bruise brilliantly. One glance at Gambit showed similar results on his body. "Rogue…"
"Let's just get cleaned up and get the hell out of here."
The drive back to the LeBeau mansion was filled with silence and Rogue's cold fury.