Disclaimer: If I owned the X-Men, would I be going to summer school in a desperate attempt to keep the measly bit of money this friggin' state is giving me as a scholarship? I didn't think so… "New Orleans" is preformed by Cowboy Mouth, and "The Space Between" by Dave Matthews Band. There's a line paraphrased from The Way We Were.

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Rogue and Gambit have yet another one of their infamous fights. But could it really be the end this time?

MAJOR ANGST WARNING—If you're looking for happy, you've come to the wrong place. This one's angsty—even for me. Wow. Make sure you have your tissues handy…

Author's Note: The time setting for this is sometime after everything that's happening now, I guess. It really doesn't fit much in with continuity. But then again, neither does anything Marvel writes, so why should I bother?

Dedication: For my partner in fanfics that should be crimes... *wink* You know who you are…

Feedback and Archiving: Please! I love feedback! It's so neato! (Like Magneto…) Send all feedback and archiving requests to addie_logan@yahoo.com. If you're bored and want to chat, my screen name on AIM is ChereRogueMarie.

Shameless Website Plug: I have more fanfic. Go read it. http://www.angelfire.com/scifi/addielogan

A Life More Ordinary

By: Addie Logan

*** *** ***

"Take me back to New Orleans
And drop me at my door
'Cause I might love you, yeah
But I love me more

Take me back to New Orleans
And don't call me anymore
'Cause I might love you, yeah
But I love me more"
                                                --"New Orleans," Cowboy Mouth

*** *** ***

Remy LeBeau cherished moments like this. Even if he couldn't touch the woman he loved, just having her close was good enough. When Rogue finally let her defenses down enough to let him in—to let him love her—all was right with the world.

She was asleep on his shoulder. They'd faced death together again, and when it had come to what they'd both been sure was the end, she'd told him that she still loved him—that she'd never really stopped. Even when she'd left him in the cold of Antarctica, when she'd spurned him in Seattle, when she told him that Christmas that they just couldn't go on—she'd loved him. He'd pulled her to him then, holding her even as their lives seemingly slipped away.

In the end, it hadn't been death at all, but just another brush with it. The Blackbird had shown up at the last moment, with the other X-Men there to save them. Gambit had never been so happy to see Wolverine's hairy face. But as he and Rogue walked away together, Gambit had been sure that Rogue would push him away again, now that they were no longer facing oblivion.

She hadn't. She'd held his hand all the way to the Blackbird, and now that they were en route to the mansion, she was sleeping on his shoulder, snuggled as close to him as she could be without touching his skin.

She didn't even seem to care when the other X-Men gave them quizzical looks. Their relationship had been in an "off" mode for so long, it seemed as if the others had given up on it ever being "on" again. Gambit hadn't really expected it to be, even when he'd been clinging to that last shred of hope. Rogue had never let him close for long, always pushing him away as soon as things got hot, keeping Remy at a distance until the flame got cool enough for her to handle.

Their last break had left that flame as a barely-glowing ember.

Gambit pushed a strand of white hair away from her forehead, grateful that for once he wasn't wearing fingerless gloves. Even under the leather that encased his hands now, Rogue's skin felt so soft.

Maybe it would be different this time. Maybe Rogue would finally open up to him, let him in in a way she never had before. He tried to convince himself of that during the whole entire flight, and when Rogue walked into the mansion with her arm linked in his, he could almost believe it.

*** *** ***

"Remy, can I talk to ya?"

Gambit looked away from the television. "Sure, chère, what 'bout?"

"What…what we said on that last mission. When…when we thought we were gonna die."

Remy felt his heart sink. They'd been back for a day, and he'd barely seen Rogue the whole time. Now she was going to tell him that it had all been a mistake. That she'd thought they were going to die, and it had made her say things she didn't mean. He switched off the television and patted the space beside him on the couch.

"Let's talk, Rogue." He made himself as strong as he could be. Rogue had ended it between them more times than he cared to count. He could take it again. He wished her eyes didn't look quite that green, her lips that red. Why did she always look the most beautiful when she was breaking his heart?

Rogue played with the hem of her T-shirt, trying to find the words. Finally, she spoke. "I…I thought we were gonna die, Remy, and, and I realized some things. I've really missed you. Just havin' you around me, it hasn't been enough. I know it's not fair of me to ask ya to have a serious relationship with me when ya can't really touch me, but…but it's what I want."

Remy started down into those big green eyes, as she waited desperately for him to give the answer she wanted to hear. The part of his brain still capable of logic when she was looking at him like that told him to walk away then, to save him from the pain any attempt at a relationship with that woman would cause.

He didn't. Instead, he told her, "I want dat, too. I love you, chère."

A slow smile spread across Rogue's face as what Remy just said began to sink in. She threw her arms around him, letting him pull her into his lap. He kissed the top of her hair, being careful to avoid her scalp, and just murmuring "Je t'aime," over and over again.

Gambit thought then that it was the happiest moment of his life.

*** *** ***

Gambit did everything he could to prove to Rogue how devoted to her he was. And for the first time in their long and winding relationship, she was genuinely warm to him. She asked him once or twice if the fact he couldn't touch her bare skin was a problem for him in anyway, but he assured her it wasn't. He'd take a vow of complete chastity if it meant he could have her love.

He knew he was a man too far over the cliff of love, but he didn't care. With Rogue, nothing else mattered.

They'd been back together for three months when it happened. He came back from a mission to find his room decorated in rose petals, lit by the faint glow of candles.

Then Rogue stepped out of the shadows, wearing nothing but a sheer green negligee and a pair of long green gloves and carrying two glasses of champagne. The bag Gambit was carrying fell to the ground with a thud. "Chère…what's goin' on here?"

Rogue handed Remy one of the glasses of champagne, then used her now-free hand to trace a line down his cheek. "I have somethin' for ya, sugah."

She pressed up against him for a moment, then moved away, giving him a little wink. Remy downed the whole glass of champagne in one gulp, hoping to wet his suddenly incredibly dry mouth. "You mind tellin' Remy what dis is all about?"

Rogue sipped from her glass, then set it down on the nightstand beside the bed. She slowly slid off a glove, letting it float down to the ground. She walked up to Remy, running a finger down his face. "I can control it, Remy."

The champagne glass fell from Remy's hand, the crystal shattering on the wood floor. He picked Rogue up, carrying her to bed, deciding questions were for later.

*** *** ***

That was truly the happiest moment of his life. He was in bed, holding Rogue against him, relishing the feeling of all that bare skin touching him. When he finally had enough breath to speak again, he said, "How is all dis possible, chère?"

"The professor an' I have been workin' on it for years," Rogue explained. "A couple of weeks ago, we had a major break through, and I figured out how t'turn my powers off. I wanted to wait until I was sure I'd be able to control it for a, um, extended period of time before I told ya."

Remy kidded her on the top of the forehead. "I'm so proud of ya, chère," he said. "I knew you'd be able to someday."

"You're happy for me?" Rogue asked.

"Well, yeah," Gambit said. "What did ya mean askin' me dat, chère?"

"I…I guess I thought you'd just be happy we could touch now..."

Gambit stared down at her. "I'm happy about dat, yeah, Rogue, but dat's jus' de icin' on de cake. Touchin' people—it's meant so much t'ya. Your happiness, it's what means de most t'me, chère."

Rogue felt tears forming in her eyes. "I love you, Remy. I do. Bein' here with you, knowin' that I can really touch ya, an' that we don't have to rush through things, that we still have tomorrow, the next day—the rest of our lives—it's the most wonderful thing in the world. For the first time in my life, I'm actually looking forward to my future."

Remy pulled her closed. "Our future, chère."

Rogue smiled contently. "Our future."

*** *** ***

Gambit never thought he'd actually enjoy moving heavy boxes. But when it was Rogue's stuff and he was moving it into his room—their room now, Remy reminded himself—somehow it seemed wonderful.

"Dat was de las' one, chère," he said.

Rogue smiled at him from across the room. "So it's official then. We're sharin' a room."

Remy walked over and pulled her into his arms.  "I never dreamed we could be dis happy, Rogue. I always wanted dis…I never t'ought we could have it. I t'ought mebbe it was too good for me, more dan I ever deserved."

"I was wrong to push ya away for so long, Remy," Rogue told him, resting her head against his shoulder. "I…I should've trusted ya, let ya in…"

Remy stroked her hair. "We can't change de past, Rogue. But we got de future now. Dat's gotta be enough for us."

Rogue looked around the room, seeing her stuff beginning to mingle with Remy's, and realized just how big of a step she was taking to make her life truly intertwined with his. They did have the future—and the past was the past. She loved him. She could touch him. Things were good.

She pulled away from him. "Wanna help me start unpackin', Rem?"

Remy smiled. "Sounds like a good idea t'me."

*** *** ***

The more Rogue's stuff began to fill up Remy's space, the happier he was. Rogue was all he'd ever wanted in his life, the woman he'd pined for in a way he'd sworn he never would for any woman. He looked over at her, putting her clothes into the dresser, and he smiled. She was beautiful.

Rogue closed the drawer and turned around. "What are you lookin' so damn happy about, swamp rat?" she asked.

"You."

"What about me?"

Remy was grinning from ear to ear. "I have you."

"Yeah, you've got me. That makes ya happy?"

"You know it does, chère."

Rogue blushed a little. "C'mon, we need to get the rest of this stuff unpacked. I don't like havin' all my stuff in boxes."

"It's only been a day, Rogue."

"That's too long." Rogue walked over to one of the boxes and opened it. Remy's eyes got wide when he saw what was in it.

"Oh no, chère. You know Remy loves you, but dat's askin' a bit much, non?"

"But Remy, I love them!"

"Dey're not goin' on de bed."

"But Remy!" Rogue pouted. "Come on, just a few of 'em. I promise, I'll put the rest of them on a chair on the other side of the room."

"No! I don' wanna roll over in de middle of de night and have dose glassy, lifeless eyes starin' up at me! Dose t'ings are creepy, Rogue!"

Rogue reached into the box and pulled out an old, worn teddy bear, with a number of patched-up holes, and one of its eyes dangling from its plush socket. "How can ya call Mr. Snuggles creepy?"

"Easy! Lookit dat t'ing! It looks like de Frankenstein's monster of teddy bears!"

Rogue reached back into the box, retrieved a plush dog, and threw it across the room at Remy, smacking him in the chest. Gambit picked it up and threw it right back.

Rogue stared at the toy now lying at her feet and suddenly began to laugh. She picked another animal from the box and threw it at him. Remy grabbed it in the air and met her eyes from across the room. "I hope you know, dis means war."

"Bring it on, Cajun."

Gambit started to throw the animal back at Rogue, but before he had a chance, she started pelting him with whatever stuffed weapon she could get her hands on. Finally, Remy leapt across the bed and tackled her, pinning her arms above her head with one arm and tickling her mercilessly with the other one.

Although Rogue knew she could've easily broken free of Remy's grip, it was the last thing she wanted to do. Goofing around with him like this, hearing him laugh, it made her feel normal. She didn't want to ruin the feeling by besting him with an unnatural strength. Instead, she just laughed until she ran out of breath, and then begged him to let her up.

"Oh no, chère," Gambit said in response to her pleas as he started kissing her down her neck. "Remy got you right were he wants ya."

"How's that?"

"Pinned 'neath me, squirmin' like ya are." Gambit waggled his eyebrows up and down suggestively.

Rogue laughed, then sobered a little, looking at him with heavily-lidded eyes. "What's so good about that, sugah?"

"I t'ink you know, chère," he said, leaning in to kiss her hard.

Rogue let Remy help her forget. She let him make her feel loved.

She let him make her feel normal.

*** *** ***

In the end, they compromised on piling some of Rogue's favorite animals in a chair in the corner and keeping the rest in a box in the closet. Gambit gave in and said Mr. Snuggles could sit on the bed during the day, but at night he was on the chair with his buddies.

Other than that, the couple that had once been "on again, off again more than a faucet in a Madison Square Garden Men's Room," seemed perfectly happy with each other, never even having as much as a disagreement. And as time wore on, something about that began to unnerve Remy. Why was Rogue suddenly not neurotic?

He decided to ask her one night, when they were sitting up in bed, she reading a romance novel and he playing handheld video poker. He turned the game off and set it on his bedside table. "Can I talk to ya, chère?"

Rogue didn't look up from her book. "Sure, sugah, what about?"

"Us."

Rogue did set the book down then, looking up at him with concern in her eyes. "What about us? Is there a problem?"

"No. And I guess, well, dat's a problem in itself. We've been livin' toget'er for six months now, an' well, we haven't been fightin'."

Rogue stared at him for a moment. "We're happy. How is that a bad thing?"

"It isn't, it's just, well, what changed? I mean, we've tried dis before, and somet'in' always went wrong. I always ended up disappointin' ya before, losin' your trust. Now it's like I'm all ya need. Why, chère?"

Rogue moved up against Remy, putting her hand on his face and turning him so his eyes locked with hers. "I lost ya that way, Remy. I don't wanna lose ya again. I can touch you now. We can be a normal couple."

"We're never really gonna be normal, Rogue. We're mutants—X-Men—an' bot' of us got more of a past dan any 'normal' person. An' I don' t'ink dere are a lot of normal folks who call demselves Rogue an' Gambit eit'er."

"We're more normal than that, Remy."

"What's your t'ing wit' bein' normal, Rogue?"

"I've never been able to have a normal relationship, Remy, never. I always had my skin separatin' me from every man I ever wanted to be with. An' yeah, we're mutants, we're X-Men, but look at Scott and Jean…"

"You're not callin' Scott and Jean normal are ya?" Remy asked, cutting her off. "Any relationship dat has problems caused by one of de people dyin' and comin' back from de dead ain't exactly normal."

Rogue turned off the lamp on her side of the bed and rolled over. "Night, Remy."

"You mad at me now?"

"Ain't that what you wanted?"

"No. I jus'…" Remy stopped. He didn't know what he wanted. He didn't even know why he hadn't left well enough alone in the first place.

He switched off his light and fell asleep, feeling that although Rogue was just on the other side of the bed she was suddenly so far away…

*** *** ***

"Remy? Remy, sugah, are ya awake?"

Remy opened one red-on-black eye and looked up at Rogue. "What time is it, chère?"

"Six in the mornin'."

"Why did ya wake me up? Somet'ing wrong?"

"Yeah. Juggernaut's on the rampage again. Cyke said for all of us to get down to the war room."

"Right," Remy said, climbing out of bed and putting on a T-shirt and a pair of sweatpants. "Let's go."

Rogue was about to walk through the door when Remy reached out and took her hand. "What, Remy?" Rogue asked. "We're in a hurry."

"Jus' wanted t'say sorry for last night. I didn't wanna fight wit' you, chère."

Rogue kissed him. "It's all right, sugah. Now come on, we gotta stop Juggy."

Remy followed her out of the room.

*** *** ***

Gambit didn't know why Rogue was crying. Sure, the battle had been rough, but it certainly hadn't been anywhere near their worst. They did what they set out to do, and everyone came back in one piece. But as soon as they got back to their room, she sat down on the bed and started sobbing into her hands.

Remy watched her from across the room, not knowing what to say or do. He'd tried asking what was wrong, but she wouldn't respond, wouldn't even look at him.

"Did I do somet'in', Rogue?" he asked after a moment.

She shook her head no, but she didn't stop crying.

Gambit walked over and pulled her into his lap. Rogue resisted the embrace at first, fighting the insistent pull of his arms, but finally she gave in, letting Remy hold her close. "Talk t'me, chère. Let Remy know what's wrong."

"I can't take it, Remy. I just can't take it anymore."

"Take what, Rogue?"

"Always bein' reminded that I'm a mutant."

Remy wiped the tears off her cheeks. "Explain t'me what you're talkin' about."

"My mutation, it's kept me separated from people for almost my whole life. Even now, that I can control it, it's still settin' me apart. All I ever wanted was to have a family, maybe be someone's wife, someone's mother. Now here I am, bein' woken up at the crack of dawn to spend the day fightin' evil psychopaths. Dammit, Remy, why couldn't I have jus' been able to stay in Mississippi, huh? Led a quiet, normal life? Why I'd have to be born like this? Why couldn't I be like everyone else?"

"Why do you want to be like everyone else? Rogue, you're somethin' special. Why ain't you happy about what ya got, chère?"

"Don't you ever get sick of bein' like this, Remy?"

"Sick of bein' like what?"

"A mutant superhero."

"But dat's part of who I am, Rogue. Why would I want to change? Easier jus' to accept one's fate in life, non? Take whatever hand ya get dealt. Mebbe t'row away a few of de worst cards, but keep what ya can make work. Not everyone can be dealt a royal flush, chère."

"Life ain't a card game, sugah."

"Mebbe, mebbe not."

"So then what if someone deals ya a nothin' hand, huh? Then what, Remy? You just suffer your whole life?"

"You accept it, chère. Your life is your life. You can't change it."

"If you could change your life, would you?"

"No."

"Why not?"

Remy pulled Rogue closer, close enough that she could hear his heart beating in time with hers. "Because I have you, Rogue. What else could dis ol' t'ief want outta life? I'd take all de bad I've known an' more if it means I get you jus' like dis, wrapped up here in my arms."

"I wish I could be so acceptin', Remy. I wish...I wish it seemed like enough. I wish I could really be happy."

Gambit pulled her away a little so he could look into her eyes. "Don't I make you happy, chère?"

"As happy as anyone ever has."

Remy kissed both her eyes, tasting the salt from her tears. "I'll try to make ya happier, Rogue. I'll do anyt'ing you want—anyt'ing. Just tell Remy what it is."

Rogue started crying harder as she moved even closer to Remy. "Just hold me, Remy. Please, just hold me."

*** *** ***

Rogue drove into New York City to do some shopping and eventually wound up in a Starbucks, having a coffee break.

She'd just gotten her Cinnamon Spice Mocha when a young man walked out from the back and stopped short as soon he saw her. He walked over to her table.

"I hope you don't mind me saying, but you are the most startlingly beautiful woman I've ever seen."

Rogue looked up, glancing over his Starbucks uniform. "Is this your way of makin' sure I come back?" she asked.

The man laughed. "No." He pointed to the chair across from her. "Can I sit there?"

"Um, I have a boyfriend."

He smiled. "That's all right. I'm not trying to pick you up, I swear."

Rogue frowned a little. "Have a seat then."

The man stuck his hand out. "My name's Jack," he said.

Rogue took his hand, her first thought being how strange it was to actually be able to touch another person's skin when she shook someone's hand these days. "Marie."

She didn't know why she gave him her real name. She hadn't told it to anyone in years. But it had just rolled off her tongue as if it were the most natural response in the world.

"Marie. That's a pretty name. It suits you."

"Thanks," Rogue said with a small laugh at something she knew Jack would never understand.

"You're probably going to take this as a come-on line, but I swear it's not," Jack said. "I'm an artist. Not a very successful one yet—as would explain my job at Starbucks—but I'm working at it. Anyway, I've been trying to work on this new painting, and, well, you'd be the perfect subject for it."

Rogue raised an eyebrow. "You want to paint me?"

"Yeah. Look, I know you might be a little skeptical about it, seeing as I don't know you, and you don't know me, but give it a thought, all right? It would mean so much to me if you would."

"I...I don't know..."

Someone called from behind the counter. "Jack, get back to work. This isn't your break time, kid!"

"I'll be right there, Sam!" Jack grabbed a napkin from the table and scribbled a phone number on it. "Here. Call me if you decide you want to do it."

Rogue took the napkin, and Jack left with a smile.

*** *** ***

"He wants to paint you?"

Rogue shrugged. "That's what the man said, Jean."

"What did Remy say about it?"

"I didn't mention it to him."

"Why not?" Storm asked.

"No reason I should get the man worked up over nothin', 'Ro," Rogue said. "Not like I'm actually gonna call that Jack guy."

"Why not?" Jean asked. "Maybe he'll become famous, and you can show up in an art history book someday."

Rogue laughed. "I seriously doubt that."

Jean shrugged. "Might be fun, though."

"I do not know about that," Storm said. "It sounds to me like a good way to get into trouble. Besides, I do not think that Gambit would like the idea of you letting some strange man you met in a Starbucks paint you."

"Remy doesn't control what I do," Rogue said. "Besides, he trusts me."

"Trust you or not, I still do not think he would like it."

"Yeah, well, whether he likes it or not, it's ultimately my decision—not his," Rogue said.

Storm frowned. "At least discuss it with him."

"I don't need to discuss anything with him, since I'm not gonna let the guy paint me, 'Ro! I swear, you act like I'm sittin' around tryin' to come up with ways to hurt Gambit!"

"It seems as if that is exactly what you have done in the past."

Rogue started to say something in retaliation, but Jean cut in. "What has happened between Rogue and Gambit in the past is not an issue here," she said. "Besides, I don't think Rogue was exactly sitting in the Starbucks waiting for starving artists to beg her to let them paint her so she could cause problems in her relationship with Remy."

Neither Storm nor Rogue said a word.

*** *** ***

"Hello?"

She heard Jack's voice and she didn't know what to say. She hadn't meant to call, but after giving it a little more thought, she'd changed her mind.

"Hello? Anyone there?"

"Jack? It's Marie."

"Marie? Coffee shop Marie?"

"Yeah. Coffee shop Marie."

"Wow. I didn't expect to hear from you again. Thought you'd just blow me off as a would-be charmer with a bad pick-up line."

Rogue chuckled. "You weren't, were ya?"

"Nope."

"Still want to paint me?"

"I would consider it an honor."

Rogue smiled. "So what time would be good for you then?"

*** *** ***

"Rogue?"

Rogue winced at the sound of Storm's voice. She turned around with a smile. "Yeah, 'Ro?"

"I wanted to apologize for my behavior yesterday afternoon. I should not have been so harsh with you. I am just...worried about Gambit. I care about him as I would a brother, and I do not want to see him hurt again."

"Trust me, 'Ro, I have no intent to hurt Remy. I love him—I don't want to lose him again."

"I know. I am only worried. I do not want to see him hurt again. Whenever the two of you break up, he is always grief-stricken, each time worst than the last. I do not think you understand what you do to him, Rogue."

"I do understand, and I regret what's gone on between us. But this time is different. I can touch him."

"I am not sure that would have made a difference before."

"Please, 'Ro, I don't need this from you, all right? Remy an' I have worked out whatever problems kept us apart in the past, and we're fine now. Don't go meddlin', all right?"

"I am sorry. I did not mean to meddle. I just..." Storm stopped for a moment. "I wish you two the best."

Rogue gave a slight smile. "Thanks, 'Ro." She turned around and walked off.

*** *** ***

"You're nervous."

"No I'm not."

"Yes you are, Marie. Ever had anyone paint you before?"

"Once. A long time ago. He was a close friend, though."

"Boyfriend?"

"Not really. He's...he's dead now."

"I'm sorry to hear that." Jack rearranged the sheer green cloth he had draped over Rogue. "Don't be nervous, okay? You're beautiful." He ran his thumb across her cheek and smiled. "There's absolutely nothing to be self-conscious about."

Rogue relaxed a little and Jack's grin grew. He gave her hand a small squeeze before going to his canvas and starting to work.

*** *** ***

"How was your day, chère?"

Rogue jumped a little. She hadn't expected Remy to be in the room when she got back. "Hey, sugah. Thought you were goin' to Harry's with the boys tonight."

"Changed my mind. Where were you off to so late?"

"Just out," Rogue said, walking over towards the drawers and pulling out something to change in to. "Miss me?"

Remy came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. "You know I did," he said, burying his face in her hair.

Rogue pushed away the little bit of guilt she was feeling. She and Jack hadn't done anything wrong. And if she told Remy, well, he'd just get jealous and worry over nothing. She ignored the thought about how angry she'd get if he did the same thing to her, no matter how innocent his intentions.

"Missed you, too," she said.

Gambit guided her head so it rested on his chest. "For some reason I had dis sudden fear. Like you weren't gonna come home. Like I was gonna lose you. I don' know why. I guess...I guess I jus' lost ya too much in de past, chère. It feels so good to hol' you, Rogue, t'feel ya in my arms an' know you're real."

Rogue's guilt began to grow a little more, but she continued to rationalize it away. "I'm real, Remy. This is real. We're real."

Gambit showered her with kisses, starting with the top of her head and moving down to her neck before coming back up again. "Je t'aime, ma chère. Je t'aime beaucoup."

"Je sais, Remy. Et je t'aime, aussi." Rogue started leading Remy towards the bed, ready to convince him—and herself—just how much she loved him.

*** *** ***

"Hey, um, Marie?"

Rogue looked up and met Jack's eyes. "Yeah?"

"You've been here almost everyday this week, and I feel like I don't know anything about you. I was wondering if maybe you'd like to grab a bite to eat tonight. I know it's getting late, and you have to drive back to Westchester and all, but, I, um, wouldn't keep you too long, I promise."

"That would be very nice, Jack," Rogue said with a little smile, "But I don't think I can. My boyfriend might not like that."

"I won't make a pass at you, I swear," Jack said. "Your boyfriend wouldn't have anything to be jealous about. It would just help me with painting you if I knew a little more about your personality."

Rogue thought about it for a moment. What harm could a little dinner do? And Jack did have a point... "All right, but I can't stay long. Remy'll be upset."

"I won't keep you out past midnight, Cinderella," Jack said with a wink.

Rogue blushed.

*** *** ***

Rogue was fascinated with her conversation with Jack, although more so for the fact it was actually taking place than anything else.

They weren't talking about the latest super villain world conquest plan, how the reappearance of once-dead friend changed things, or even if spandex could be considered a fashion statement.

Instead they talked about movies they'd seen, books they'd read, what they wished the future held.

Normal things.

Dinner with Jack was like a breath of fresh air for Rogue, a taste of the sort of life she been denied by her mutation.

They walked back together to Jack's apartment, where Rogue's car was parked. He took her hand to stop her when they reached it.

"I really felt like I got to know you tonight, Marie."

Rogue found his use of her real name somehow fitting there. It was if that was who he'd gotten to know. Not Rogue—Marie. A simple girl from Mississippi who'd been trapped behind the veil of the Rogue for so long.

"You, too, Jack."

"I guess I couldn't convince you to come up for a cup of coffee."

As much as Rogue didn't really want the night to end, she knew it had to. She couldn't be Marie forever. Not anymore. "I really need to get home. It's late as it is."

Jack pushed a strand of hair behind Rogue's ear. "Does Remy know what a lucky man he is?"

"I...I think he does. I need to go." Rogue didn't notice how flushed her cheeks were.

Jack nodded and stepped back. "I better let you get home then. Have a good night, Marie, and I'll see you tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll be putting the finishing touches on your part of the painting."

"I can't wait to see the finished product."

"I don't know. I'm not sure if I was able to capture even an ounce of your exquisite beauty."

Rogue turned even redder. "I don't know about that." She unlocked her car door and started to get in. "I really have to go. Good night, Jack."

"Good night, Marie."

Jack stepped away from the car and Rogue drove off.

*** *** ***

"Jean, you seen Rogue?" Gambit asked when it started to get late and he hadn't heard from Rogue all day.

Jean shrugged. "She's probably just over at Jack's."

Gambit raised an eyebrow. "Jack's? Who's Jack."

"The guy who's painting her."

"The guy who's what? What are ya talkin' about, Jeannie?"

Jean turned crimson when she realized Remy didn't know. She mentally kicked herself. She was a telepath. She should've known. "I...I thought Rogue would've told you."

"No. She didn't tell me a t'ing." Remy's anger was suddenly evident, although he was keeping it in check, just below the surface.

"It's really not a big deal," Jean said, trying to repair the damage she'd done.

"If it isn't a big deal, den why did Rogue keep it from me?"

"Maybe she meant to tell you, but just didn't have the chance."

Gambit snorted. "Right. Dat where she's been all week?"

Jean sighed. "Yes."

"You see Rogue, you tell her Gambit's waitin' up for her, n'est-ce pas?"

"I will, Remy.

Gambit gave a nod and walked down to his room.

*** *** ***

"How was Jack doin' dis evenin', chère?"

Rogue cringed as soon as she walked into the room and heard Remy's voice. She'd met Jean when she'd first come in the door and had a little warning, but she knew things were about to get ugly.

"Remy, I was gonna tell you, I just..."

"Don't lie t'me, Rogue. I'm not in the mood. You had plenty of time to tell me you've been spendin' ev'ryday wit' some ot'er man, lettin' him paint ya!"

"Remy, it ain't like that, all right! Jack's interest in me is strictly professional!"

Gambit laughed. "Right. Like a guy's never tried dat approach before."

"Dammit, Remy, don't start jumpin' to conclusions! Ya don't even know the situation!"

"I don' need to! It's after midnight, Rogue, an' you're jus' now gettin' home. Dat don't sound very professional t'me."

"It is! Jack an' I haven't been doin' anything we shouldn't be!"

"Den why you keep it a secret, huh? Why you lie t'me, chère?"

"I just didn't want to upset you, all right? I thought that if you knew, you'd be jealous, an' there's not any reason to be."

"So you brought deceit back into de relationship, alt'ough we swore we weren't gonna have any more of dat. Good t'ing dere ain't a frozen wasteland aroun' here for me t'leave ya in."

Rogue turned pale. "Remy, that ain't fair."

"Yeah, well, neit'er is you runnin' around wit' some artist!"

Rogue grabbed some nightclothes from a drawer and then started towards the door. "Where ya goin', Rogue?" Gambit asked.

"One of the guest rooms. I'm not gonna stay here and listen to you berate me."

"Fine! I'd rat'er not spend de night wit' a lyin' hypocrite myself."

Rogue didn't respond. She just narrowed her eyes before storming out of the room, being sure to give the door a good slam on her way out.

Gambit flopped back on the bed and felt empty.

*** *** ***

"You seem different today, Marie."

"Hmm? You say somethin', Jack?"

"I said you seem different," Jack said, setting down his paintbrush. "And that proves my point right there. You're off in your own little world. What's wrong?"

"Oh, it's nothin'."

"Somehow I don't believe that." Jack walked over and knelt in front of her. "What's wrong? You can tell me."

"I don't think you really want to hear."

"Yes I do. Look, Marie, I know we haven't known each other that long, but if you need someone to talk to, I'm willing to listen."

"It's nothin' all that serious, I guess," Rogue said with a wave of her hand. "I just got in yet another fight with Remy."

"Yet another?" Jack asked with a raised eyebrow. "You fight with Remy often?"

"Yeah...well, not as much as I used to. We have a lot of problems, but we're tryin' to work through 'em."

"Some problems can't be solved," Jack said. "Sometimes it's better to just let go."

Marie looked down. "I know. It's just..." She began playing with the fabric of the cloth she had around her. "I love Remy. Always have."

"Are you sure it isn't time to let go?"

Rogue looked up, fire in her eyes. "Let go? How can I just let go of the man I love?"

"Are you happy?"

"What sort of question is that?"

"A simple one. Are you happy?"

"Well yeah. I mean...I guess I'm happy."

"You guess?"

"Some things are missin' from my life."

"Things Remy isn't giving you?"

"No. It's not like that. It's just..."

"What's missing from your life, Marie?"

"I don't know. There's just something...something that isn't there." She couldn't tell Jack the truth. That the one thing missing was the one thing Remy couldn't really give her—the feeling that she fit in somewhere, that maybe she wasn't really the rogue she'd always claimed to be.

"Like what?"

"You wouldn't understand."

"Try me."

"I...I can't."

Suddenly, Rogue felt Jack's arms around her, his lips on hers. She froze for a second before melting against him. Even recently, with Remy, she was always reminded of her powers, always afraid that they'd come back full force and she'd do to him what she'd done to Cody, all those years ago. Later, she'd think back on how when she kissed Jack, her powers never even entered her mind.

She wondered if that was what it was like to kiss someone when you were normal.

Jack pulled away. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that."

"It's all right," Rogue said. "But I think...I think I need to go for now."

"Yeah." Jack stood up. "Call me tomorrow."

"I will."

*** *** ***

Remy was in there room when Rogue got back. She felt her heart grow tight in her chest.

"Hey, sugah."

Remy was staring out the window, and he didn't turn to look at her. "Hey."

The silence was heavy, and it filled the room. "I'm sorry," Rogue said finally.

Gambit turned around and Rogue noticed tears in his eyes. "I don' wanna lose you again. Can't go t'rough it again, chère. Love you too much."

Rogue went to him and wrapped her arms around him, not saying a word, just holding him.

Gambit did the same.

*** *** ***

Rogue decided that it might be for the best if she didn't see Jack again. She called him the next morning and asked if it would be possible for him to finish the painting without her. He said it would be.

And that he understood.

She didn't hear from him for another month. He called to tell her that he was doing a show at a gallery, and he wanted her to come. Her portrait would be there.

He told her to bring Remy.

Rogue wasn't sure if it was jealousy, curiosity, or just genuine interest in art—although she doubted the last one, despite Remy's insistence—that made Gambit agree to go. Either way, they showed up together at a small art gallery in New York, and Remy's every movement, every gesture made it clear that Rogue was his.

"Marie!"

Rogue froze at the sound of her real name, then mentally cursed. She should've known that particular slip was going to come back to haunt her. Gambit gave her a quizzical look when he realized that she was the one being called, and Rogue gave him a look in response that clearly said "not now."

She smiled at the tall, blonde haired, blue eyed man that approached, and Remy bristled. Jack hugged Rogue, and Gambit knew that if he had been Wolverine, that man would've been on the end of his claws by then.

"I'm so glad you could come, Marie," Jack said, letting her go. He stuck his hand out. "And you must be Remy. Marie's told me so much about you."

Remy's normally charming grin turned almost predatory as he shook Jack's hand. "Yeah, Marie has said a lot about you, too. Said you're quite de artist."

Jack matched Remy's smile. "Well, I try." He pulled Rogue away from Remy, linking his arm with hers. "Come, you have to see the painting. You never got to see it finished after all."

The two of them walked off, and Gambit followed, glaring at Jack the whole time. When Remy saw the painting, his jaw tightened. The pale green cloth she wore left little to the imagination.

"Well, what do you think, Marie?"

"I think it's lovely, Jack," she said. "You did a wonderful job."

Jack turned around to look at Remy, and wondered if there was anger in the eyes he kept hidden by dark glasses. "What do you think, Remy?" he asked.

"I t'ink she needs more t'wear dan dat."

Jack chuckled and Rogue blushed. "It's art," Jack said with a wave of his hand.

"Easy for you t'say. She's not your girlfriend."

Jack didn't miss the double meaning behind that. He narrowed his eyes. "No, I guess she's not." He took Rogue's arm again. "Come on, I want to show you the rest of the gallery."

Rogue walked off with him, and Remy continued to follow.

*** *** ***

Rogue knew as soon as Remy shut the car door that he was about to let her have it. He'd been silently steaming the whole night, and now that he had her all to himself, the look in his demonic eyes said he might very well try to kill her.

Instead, he asked only one question. One simple word.

"Marie?"

Rogue stared at the dashboard. "I didn't wanna give him a name like Rogue."

"Where'd ya come up wit' Marie?"

Rogue was silent for a moment before she admitted quietly, "It's my real name."

All the anger in Remy's eyes went away, being immediately replaced by hurt so deep that when Rogue looked up and met his gaze she felt as if her heart was being ripped from her chest.

"You know me for years—claim t'love me—yet you tell him your real name, an' never me? Why you not trust me like dat, chère?"

"Trust didn't have anything to do with it Remy. I don't know why I told Jack my real name, okay? I just did. And if you remember, I tried to tell it to ya years ago, and you wouldn't let me. Ya said it didn't matter."

"Yeah, well, it starts matterin' when you're tellin' it to some 'artist' who all but turns you into a porn star!"

"Dammit Remy, there was nothin' distasteful about that paintin'!"

"Yeah, except dere were parts of you dat only I'm supposed t'be seein' exposed t'all de worl'!

"I never thought you'd be such a prude."

"I'm not a prude, Rogue. You of all people should know dat. I jus' have a problem when my girlfrien' sneaks off for sev'ral days in a row so some ot'er man can paint her half naked!"

Rogue crossed her arms and stared out the windshield. "I don't want to have this conversation. I want to go home."

"Fine, Marie," he said, using her real name almost as if it were an insult. "Let's go home."

*** *** ***

Remy didn't say a word when they got back to the mansion. He walked briskly up to their room with Rogue right on his heels. He ignored her as he got ready for bed, and didn't say a word as he climbed under the sheets.

"You gonna talk to me at all, Remy?" Rogue asked, sitting on the end of the bed.

"Non."

"Come on, Remy, don't do this."

"I don't wanna talk t'you, Marie."

"Stop callin' me that."

"Why? Jack gets to call you dat. He better dan me, Marie?"

"Stop actin' like such a baby."

"Go to sleep. I'm not in de mood to listen t'ya try t'turn dis whole t'ing back around on me."

"What are you talkin' about?"

Remy sighed and rolled over so he could see her face. "You do it ev'ry time we get in a fight. Even if it starts out wit' me mad at you, in de end, I'm de one in de wrong."

"That's not true."

"Yes it is."

"Remy..."

"Look, jus' go to sleep, all right? I have a headache, and I don' wanna listen to your bitchin'."

Rogue's jaw fell a little. "Remy..."

He jabbed a finger in the general direction of her side of the bed. "Sleep. You know how?"

Rogue laid down, pulling on the covers harshly, snatching most of them away from Remy. He pulled back, leaving her without any at all. Rogue grabbed them back from him, this time pulling Remy with them. The momentum carried them both over the edge, and she soon found herself on the floor with Remy on top of her.

"Ow" was all he said.

Rogue laughed a little. "Yeah, ow."

Remy propped himself up on one elbow, using his free hand to push the hair away from her face. "Why you always hurtin' me, chère?" he asked, his voice soft, like a child asking why the grass grows green.

Rogue felt her eyes grow hot with unshed tears. "I don't know, Remy. Maybe...maybe we're just not right for each other. Maybe we're tryin' to make somethin' work that never can."

Remy forced the lump that suddenly grew in his throat down so he could speak. "Don' say dat, chère, please. I love you. Oh God, I love you. It hurts, Rogue, it hurts to love you this much."

"Is love supposed to hurt, Remy?"

"Ev'ryt'ing worth keepin' hurts sometime, chère."

Rogue pushed gently on Gambit's chest. "C'mon. Let's go back to bed. I'm tired."

Gambit stood up. "Yeah. Me, too."

*** *** ***

"You haven't been talkin' to me much dis week, chère."

"I haven't had much to say."

"It's been...well, since de art show, Rogue."

"I know."

"Is dis not workin' again?"

"I don't know. Is it?"

"I want it to be workin'," Gambit said. "Livin' wit'out you again—I don' wanna do dat, chère. I love you too much."

"I love you, too, Remy. I really do. It's just, I don't know. I've never been very happy."

"Let me make you happy. I know I could, if you'd...if you'd jus' let me."

Rogue wrapped her arms around Gambit, burying her face against his shoulder. "You make me as happy as anyone ever has."

Remy frowned but decided that that had to be enough.

*** *** ***

"Marie?"

Rogue stopped in her tracks. She'd never thought she'd see Jack again. After Remy's reaction to everything that had happened with Jack, Rogue decided it would be for the best if she kept away from the artist. She didn't need anymore problems with Gambit than she already had.

Still, she was happy when she turned around and saw Jack coming down the sidewalk towards her. "Marie! Wow, long time no see."

Rogue laughed. "It's only been a month."

"And what a month it's been, " Jack said. "I've sold some of my paintings and made a nice little bit of money. I was able to quit that god-awful job at Starbucks—at least for the time being anyway." He grew silent for a moment, looking Rogue up and down. "God, you're still just as beautiful as ever. You know, a woman wanted to buy that painting of you. She offered me a lot for it, too. But I—I just couldn't. I couldn't part with it, Marie. It meant too much to me."

Rogue blushed. "Thank you, Jack. That's very...sweet."

"Look, I was on my way back from a meeting, but I have some time to kill now, so why don't we go have coffee or something? I've sworn to never enter another Starbucks as long as I live, but I know a nice little place up the street we can go that makes a pretty good latte." He winked.

Rogue knew Remy would hit the roof if he found out about this, and she should just tell Jack to have a nice life and then keep walking, but she didn't. It would just be two friends, having a cup of coffee.

A perfectly normal occurrence.

"Sure, Jack, I'd love to have coffee with you."

*** *** ***

Rogue didn't even realize how much she'd missed Jack until she was talking to him again. She'd forgotten what it was like to spend time with someone who made her forget she was a mutant, an X-Man. It was relaxing, almost peaceful. An escape from the stress her lifestyle brought with it.

"So how are things with Remy?" Jack asked. "He seemed pretty upset at the show. I didn't cause any problems between the two of you, did I?"

"No, you didn't cause problems between us. Anything that's wrong between me and Remy was there long before you came along."

"Are you still with him?"

"Yes. But I don't want to talk about Remy."

"Why are you with him?"

"Why shouldn't I be?"

"Because it doesn't sound to me like you really want to be with him."

Rogue started to get defensive. "You don't know anything about my relationship with Remy."

"Marie, I'm not trying to attack you. And no, I don't know much about you and Remy, but I do remember you saying once that you weren't happy, and even though you said it wasn't because of anything Remy doesn't give you, I don't know how much I can believe that. Something is definitely missing from your life. Maybe…maybe I could give it to you."

"Jack, don't do this. You don't know what you're askin' of me."

"Yes, Marie, I do. I'm asking you to be with me. I haven't been able to stop thinking about you since the moment I first saw you. I want you to be a part of my life. I've fallen for you, Marie—and I've fallen hard."

Rogue knew that was exactly who he had fallen for—Marie. Not Rogue. No one had loved Marie since Cody. With Cody, she'd had the chance at a normal life. Before the discovery of her mutant powers erased every bit of that possibility.

Now there was Jack. Was he offering her a second chance at that sort of life? She'd hurt Cody, but were things different now? Could she try again with Jack?

And the real question remained—did she even want to?

"Jack, I…" Rogue stood up. " I'm sorry. I have to go."

Jack called after her, but Marie didn't hear.

*** *** ***

It was the last thing Rogue expected to happen that night. After her conversation with Jack, all Rogue wanted to do was come home and relax—take her mind off everything.

She wasn't so lucky. Instead, things only got more complicated.

Remy proposed.

Rogue didn't say anything. She stared at him, wondering if it was really even happening.

"You gonna give me an answer, chère?"

Rogue knew she had to say something and just let her first thought fall out of her mouth. "I can't."

"You can't what?"

"Give you an answer. Remy, I'm sorry. I love you, but I'm just not sure if this is what I want."

"What's not what you want, Rogue? Bein' married at all…or bein' married t'me?"

"I'm not sure. I ran into Jack today and…"

Remy didn't let her finish. He stood up straight, snapped the ring box he was holding, and walked towards the closet.

"What are you doing?" Rogue asked when she saw Remy pull out a bag and start throwing things in it.

"What does it look like I'm doin'?"

"Remy, please, don't leave," Rogue begged. "I'm just confused right now. Maybe if we spent a little time apart so I could sort my feelings out…"

"Non. I've had enough of dis, chère. I've been puttin' up wit' did for a lot longer dan I should've been. You keep stringin' me 'long, makin' me t'ink mebbe dis time you really gonna love me. Merde. I feel for it every damn time. No more. I'm leavin'—an' I ain't never comin' back."

"Remy, no. I can't lose you. Just give me some time! We can work it out!"

Gambit ignored her tears as he zipped up the bag and slung it on his shoulder. "Have a nice life, Marie."

Rogue sobbed as she heard Remy drive away.

*** *** ***

Rogue tried for a year to move on. She even dated Jack for a while, but it wasn't at all what she thought it would be.

She'd thought he'd make her feel more normal. She was surprised to find it had the opposite effect. She couldn't tell him about her life as an X-Man, and she began to feel that every moment she spent with Jack was a lie.

She realized the only time she'd ever felt real was with Remy. And she'd thrown it all away.

Rogue decided she had to get him back. She'd finally convinced Storm to give her his address. She'd go to him and tell him she loved him. He'd come back to her so many times before. He'd do it again.

Rogue stood outside Remy's apartment in New Orleans, preparing to knock. She told herself she could do it. She wanted Remy back, and if it took a little begging, well, it was worth it.

She knocked and waited. Remy opened the door. He looked even more handsome than she remembered. She had to force her knees not to buckle.

Remy stared at her for a moment. His eyes grew wide. "Rogue?"

"Hey, Remy."

"What are you doin' here?"

Rogue took a deep breath. "I miss you, Remy."

"Rogue, I…"

"Remy, honey, who's at the door?"

Rogue suddenly felt dizzy. "Who is that?"

An attractive young woman with brown hair and eyes came out of the apartment and stood beside Remy. She was barefoot, wearing a tank top and cut-off shorts, with her hair pulled into a ponytail. It hit Rogue immediately that she was very comfortable in Remy's apartment. Probably someone who spent a lot of time there—maybe even lived there.

The awkwardness of the moment showed on Remy's face. "Um, Caitlin, this is my, um, old girlfriend, Rogue. Rogue, this is my fiancée, Caitlin."

A quick flash of jealousy and possessiveness in Caitlin's eyes let Rogue know that the other woman knew exactly who she was. But the ring on Caitlin's finger reminded Rogue of the ring she'd refused to put on and told her that she didn't have a place in Remy's life anymore. She felt her entire world crash down around her. She'd actually lost Remy.

Rogue stood there for a moment before saying, "Your girl is lovely, Remy. Do bring her by for a drink." She pushed his hair away from his face.

"Rogue…"

"Have a nice life, Remy."

Rogue walked away. She didn't cry when she heard the door shut behind her. She'd wanted something normal. Maybe this was it.

It hurt…

*** *** ***

You cannot quit me so quickly
Is no hope in you for me
No corner you could squeeze me
But I got all the time for you, love
The Space Between
The tears we cry
Is the laughter keeps us coming back for more
The Space Between
The wicked lies we tell
And hope to keep us safe from the pain

But will I hold you again?
These fickle, fuddled words confuse me
Like 'Will it rain today?'
Waste the hours with talking, talking
These twisted game we play

We're strange allies
With warring hearts
What wild-eyed beast you be
The Space Between
The wicked lies we tell
And hope to keep us safe from the pain

Will I hold you again?
Will I hold...

Look at us spinning out in
The madness of a roller coaster
You know you went off like a devil

In a church in the middle of a crowded room
All we can do, my love
Is hope we don't take this ship down

The Space Between
Where you're smiling high
Is where you'll find me if I get tickled
The Space Between
The bullets in our firefight
Is where I'll be hiding, waiting for you
The rain that falls
Splash in your heart
Ran like sadness down the window into...
The Space Between
Our wicked lies
Is where we hope to keep safe from pain

Take my hand
'Cause we're walking out of here
Oh, right out of here
Love is all we need here
The Space Between
What's wrong and right
Is where you'll find me hiding, waiting for you
The Space Between
Your heart and mine
Is the space we'll fill with time
The Space Between...