A/N: Thank you all for your patience. Sorry for the long delay!

Sugahroc57 (There will be some naughty, but it's definitely not on Rogue's list, and Remy is good about making sure there's real and understanding consent with anything like that. Glad you're enjoying!), Warrior-princess1980 (She's the plan-ahead kind of girl. Remy, not so much.), Mazzie May (Ooh, boy. Hopefully, I won't trigger you. I'll be good and warn, but if it's any help, Remy will be getting consent before going anywhere on the M rating. Promise. Thanks for trying this fic. I'll do my best to keep it enjoyable but still real.), Chellerbelle (Thank you! I was trying to keep her panic realistic without going overdone. And the psyches are still one of my favorite things to write. :hugs: ),

slightlyxjaded (Thank you for the reviews. I'm grateful to know I'm being clear—clarity being one thing I'm not especially known for acing every time. And gotta love Logan. He's pretty much my favorite male X-guy, just like Rogue's my favorite female. Gambit's getting close to Logan though, just because I researched Rogue's love interest until I became fascinated and borderline obsessed. And Thick as Thieves and Blind Sight didn't hurt... Well, hope you enjoy the ride!), kingandlionheart (Thank you!), luckyxtrick (Oh, it will definitely be going somewhere. Writing the balance of it is taking a little work.)

Hugs and thanks to all my readers, whether you review or not.


Safe


nose pressed against the glass...

Remy wished he could be as understanding of Rogue as she clearly needed, wished he was more patient. He'd been patient on enough heists, dealing with locks and bars no more secure than the barriers his girlfriend used to keep the world at bay, but those security systems didn't have thoughts and feelings and a razor sharp tongue that constantly belied any admissions of trust. And that's what made him keep pushing and pressing when he really just needed to keep his hands to himself.

He muttered to himself a few Cajun swears and got to work on his bike. It was something to do, a tune-up, just to keep his hands busy and off of Rogue until he could figure out how to show her he wouldn't hurt her if she let him in. Regardless of what she said, that she trusted him or wanted him, he could always see that fear lingering behind her eyes. He didn't want to scare her.

The first time he saw her, for real, she'd surprised him. Rogue wasn't a good girl. He'd known that instinctually and from all the subtle clues in her manner, but unlike Belladonna and all the other girls Gambit had known, who walked in his circles, played life by the rules he knew, she wanted to be good.

He'd hated that about her.

He loved her temper, her fire, the way she played dirty, fought hard, refused to take crap from him or anybody else. He loved her.

But he hated that sense of innocence and vulnerability lying underneath, not because he didn't want it, but because he could never have it. And thief that he was, he'd gone after it anyway. He thought somehow if she let him have her, he could have that innocence and goodness that was part of her, even being unworthy.

So here he was, nose pressed up against the glass, wondering why what she said was his and what really was his were such very different things.

He told off the bike. His itch was for flesh over mechanics, or at least the physical reality of her, regardless of how it came. He went to scratch it.


She was flopped out across the bed on her stomach when he dropped in, something he did often enough to be perfectly normal. "Chére." He kept the tone light and, historically, annoying. She claimed his stalker tendencies (casing skills) and sneakiness (quiet footsteps) were obnoxious.

She flinched. Remy froze. She hadn't flinched at him showing up by her bed since the day of the ticklefest that Logan grounded them from the jet over. (Totally worth it though. He finally got the girl.)

Then she glared up at him. "Give a gal a heart attack, why don't you?"

He didn't—couldn't—unfreeze. He stared at her intently until she began to squirm. Finally, he said slowly, "Do you think I'm not going to respect your boundaries now?"

Her mouth snapped shut so hard her teeth clacked together, but she answered candidly, all brash and vulnerable Rogue. "Yes."

It stung more than Remy would like to admit. "I ain't going to start touching you without warning," he snapped back abruptly.

Rogue eyed him warily, knowing him well enough by now to realize there was a caveat she wasn't seeing. She was right, but he decided not to tell her yet what it was or act on it. He wanted her to feel safe and maybe open up a little. Or a lot.

Remy hopped up on the bed lightly and nosily picked up her paper, effectively announcing a return to acceptable status quo. She scooted to one side just a bit to give him space and raised both eyebrows in amusement.

Up and down, down and around, on a rollercoaster we go. He couldn't help but think they were both overthinking this.

Then he read her list. He raised his eyebrows in amusement. "Hmm. Not very creatif, mais not bad."

Rogue scowled and made to snatch it back, but Remy, pleased at the reaction, grinned fiercely and held the sheet just out of reach.

"'No touching unless I touch first,'" he read loudly, then teased, "Just knew you wanted to get your hands on me."

Rogue growled and redoubled her efforts. Remy stuck out one arm to hold her at bay.

"'No lying.'" He canted his head thoughtfully. "May have to get creative there."

"At all, swamp rat."

He laughed and handed back the paper without reading further. Out loud, anyway.

Somewhat mollified, Rogue quit glaring at him long enough to scribble clarifiers to the no lying rule.

Remy leaned back, content to stare at her for the moment. "You ever think about exhibitionism?"

Her head popped up and her eyes went very wide.

"No need to focus just on touch," he pointed out reasonably enough.

Rogue set her jaw. "This relationship is not just about sex, Gambit." She almost spat the name.

His temper flared. "You're the one making it about sex," he retorted. "You want it and think you can't have it. Maybe if we just get on the table that we can, then you can get over it already."

Her jaw dropped open, then snapped shut. He could just about see the steam coming out of her as she fumed. Somehow, they always knew how to light each other's fuses.

"I don't see you getting over thieving or lying or anything," she threw back. "Just 'cause one of us doesn't like it—"

"Not the point." He cut her off sharply. "This ain't about like and dislike. This is about you not trusting me if anything physical comes up."

"I don't trust you?" She spoke out of anger, but she had a point. Two way street.

He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Chére. You don't trust me. But I ain't going to let you run away this time."

"You're the one always running away!"

Remy narrowed his eyes. "Name once," he snapped.

"New Orleans." It took her no time to think of it.

It took him even less to admit to something he'd never wanted to. "I'm exiled, chére."

She stilled, staring. He'd floored her, but not for long. Her tone went dark with a bite to it and her eyes darker. "Why didn't you ever tell me?"

"Didn't think you'd care." He said it bitterly. Or that she would believe him.

"Of course, I care about you," she said softly, faint hurt coloring the thick southern accent.

He studied her, nodded. "Don't mean you trust me."


"I wonder how long they're going to hole up in there," Jubilee said speculatively, glancing pointedly toward the stairs.

Kitty, Bobby, and Kurt ignored her, much more engrossed in the checker game they had spread out on the dining room table earlier. Kitty was winning, due more to the blatant advice of the fuzzy "bystander" than to Kitty's own efforts.

Jubilee waved her arms in between them.

"Whoa!" "Watch it!" "You could hurt somebody!"

"Yo, guys!" Jubilee ignored their protests. "Since none of you have noticed, it's dinner time." And Gambit's turn to cook.

"Food?" Kurt's face lit up.

Kitty grumbled and went to trudge up the stairs. She phased her head through her own bedroom door to see the not abnormal scene of Rogue and Remy squaring off, sullen and shrewd respectfully.

"Gaaaambit." She drew out the word like a two-year-old, drawing two sets of startled glances. "We're huuungry."

Gambit's made a face to Rogue but clearly at Kitty. "Et entrer the peanut gallery."