The woman called Rogue slept peacefully, a feat in itself considering her usual state of mind. Rogue is a mutant, at once blessed and cursed with superhuman powers. The blessing comes in the form of natural flight, a degree of invulnerability, and a smattering of super strength. What is the curse? She cannot touch another living person, for fear of absorbing their memories and personality. Some recover from the ordeal, some do not; the process is very hit or miss in that regard. Recently, her abilities mutated further, she can now manifest the powers of any mutant she has imprinted, at first, the results were very unpredictable, one moment she had the armoured skin of Colossus, the next she could be growing natural wings, like the high flying Archangel. Now, she has managed to gain a small measure of control, she can consciously dictate whose powers she can access at any time. She still can’t touch anyone without her primary powers kicking in, but hey, it’s progress.
Rogue had come to Sydney with some of the other X-Men, a small team that Ororo Munroe, the weather manipulator called Storm, had formed. Their task was to search for and recover the diaries written by one of Rogue’s foster parents, a precognitive by the name of Irene Adler. Irene or Destiny as she came to be known, had lost her sight when her mutation manifested but discovered that she could see into the future as a result. She wrote down her visions in a series of thirteen diaries, which charted the future of the world. The X-Men discovered the existence of the diaries and their founder, Charles Xavier, sought to decipher Irene’s work on his own. Storm saw the folly that one man should not be responsible for changing the future, so she took a small group away from Westchester and separated herself from the man who had been her mentor.
So far, the team wasn’t doing very well, they had travelled to Valencia, in Spain, to recover the first diary, but a mysterious and powerful stranger had beaten them to the punch, a man called Vargas. He had taken a lot more than just the diary too; he had killed their friend Elisabeth Braddock, Psylocke, and mortally wounded Hank McCoy, the Beast. Hank recovered from his ordeal luckily, but had to return to Westchester, New York. Rogue and the others had followed a paper trial that had been left by Irene, her surrogate aunt, and it had led her and the other X-Men to Sydney. The sumptuous apartment they were living in was the property of Raven Darkholme, the mutant terrorist known as Mystique, who just so happened to be the woman who raised Rogue.
Rogue woke with a start, if asked later what caused her to wake, she could not tell you. She glanced at the clock beside her bed and saw it was just past three in the morning. Sighing, she turned over on her side and closed her eyes. Even through her eyelids, she saw the flash, and suddenly someone landed on top of her bed. In an instant, Rogue kicked off her covers, and the intruder with them; there was a muffled curse as the man hit the opposite wall of the bedroom. Rogue floated a few inches above her bed, fists clenched tightly, ready to spring into action. Her eyes grew wide when she saw the figure untangle himself and stand up. Before her, looking rather tanned and dressed very strangely, was Remy LeBeau, the man she loved.
Remy took in his surroundings and then noticed Rogue, “Chere,” he spoke, his voice weary, “You still know how to kick a man when he down.” Rogue relaxed, a hundred questions bubbling in her mind as her heart beat faster. His charming voice touched something inside her, and she felt a rush of heat colouring her face.
Suddenly, the door burst open, and framed by the light in the other room, stood a large, heavyset black man. He was naked to the waist and judging by the state of his hair, had only woken up, yet one look at his face showed he was totally alert, and more than ready to use the two guns he carried. Remy smiled as he looked down at his chest and saw the red pinpoint of a laser sight hovering steadily over his heart, right on cue, he thought, nice to see Bishop’s still predictable.
“You still sleeping wit’ a gun, mon ami?” Remy’s eyes glowed faintly in the darkened room. “You ‘ave got to get a woman.”
The man known as Bishop relaxed, and lowered his weapons. “LeBeau,” he breathed, “You should learn to make some noise when you drop in.”
Remy’s retort was lost as the big bay windows of Rogue’s bedroom opened. Stepping inside from the balcony was a tall African woman with stark white hair; the white gown that enveloped her body was like a cloud. Storm’s eyes lit up when she saw her friend and one-time partner, and without a word, she rushed over and threw her arms around Remy.
“Remy, by the Goddess, it is so good to see you.” Remy broke away from the hug and offered Ororo his widest smile.
Rogue spoke softly and Remy realised that somehow she had managed to get dressed, wearing a functional red and navy body suit that covered every inch of her body from the neck down, designed to protect others from her powers. “Not that ah’m not glad ta see yah sugah, but you mind tellin’ me why yah decided ta drop in?”
“Long story, chere,” Remy replied as he took Rogue in his arms. They stood silently for several minutes, just enjoying the feeling of closeness. Storm quietly left the room, dragging a reluctant Bishop with her.
An hour later, Remy had recounted his tale to the gathered X-Men, how he had evicted from Xavier’s Mansion, and his subsequent run-in with Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin. Rogue sat patiently, a beaming smile on her face as Remy related his experiences. She found herself laughing when he did, and when he told her of some of the more grave things he had seen, she felt her heart lurch in direct response to his serious expression. Gawd, he’s been busy since ah last seen him, she thought, as he finally finished his story. Rogue silently admonished herself, stop it, girl, were yah expecting him to sit around moping when yah weren’t around?
The newest members, Heather and Davis Cameron, sat in rapt attention, enthralled by the stories of other worlds and laughing madmen on rocket gliders. Neal Sharra listened with half an ear; he cared little for Gambit, did not trust a man who had made a living as a professional thief. Sage, the team’s living computer, filed the details of Gambit’s adventures away in her mind, so she could peruse them at her pleasure later. Bishop stood silently behind Remy the whole time like a bodyguard, but his body language spoke volumes, he seemed more relaxed than he had been for several months, as if Remy’s presence was a calming influence on him. Rogue realised wistfully that in his own way, the black man had missed Remy as much as she and Storm had.
Later, Remy LeBeau lay down on the couch, feeling relaxed and happy, I’m home, he thought, wit’ de few people I love an’ trust. He closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep, unknowingly watched by his love, Rogue. She sat for a long time, watching her boyfriend as he slept peacefully, wishing that she could snuggle in against his body, wishing she could share just one kiss. Get a grip, ah tol’ him not to come because ah was afraid we couldn’t make it work, had to let him go because I love him. Tears sprang up in her eyes, Gawd; I love him so much. From the other side of the room, Storm floated over and laid a hand on the young woman’s shoulder, sharing her pain. Rogue smiled.
The next morning was bedlam, too many people milling about and only one bathroom to serve them all. Heather, Davis and Neal had got up early and left to go to the beach, and decided to eat breakfast at one of the many restaurants that lined the beach’s promenade. Back at the apartment, Remy wasn’t happy, he was not a morning person but for some reason, found himself stuck with a bunch of people that not only got up early, but were damn cheery about it too. Remy had barely survived an encounter with an other-dimensional sorcerer, then he had voluntarily fell into a Hellmouth and ended up in Rogue’s bed, funny definition o’ hell, he thought with a laugh.
“What’s so funny?” Ororo asked, just coming from her bedroom.
“Nothin’ Stormy, just wondering what a man has to do to get some sleep ’round here?” Remy swung his feet onto the floor and looked up at Ororo.
‘Ro’s eyes flashed white for a moment and Remy felt a small bolt of lightning strike him just above the brow, “Ow, hey!” He exclaimed, “What did I do?”
“My name is not Stormy.” The hint of menace in her voice was purely for show, Remy had made a habit of calling her by that name, even though she hated it with a passion. She laughed, “It is good to have you here, my friend, even if you do insist on that ridiculous name.”
“I love you really, ‘Ro, you know dat.” He stood up, stretching his stiff muscles. In the morning light, his deep tan was much more apparent, and she noticed that his musculature was more defined than the last time she had seen him, almost as if he had been working out more than usual. Pushing those thoughts aside, she moved towards the kitchen.
Bishop came out of his bedroom dressed in his uniform, complete with a long black duster that covered his big frame. Remy raised an eyebrow when he saw Bishop’s new look, the long coat was something of a trademark that Gambit always used, and it served to differentiate him from the other X-Men. Still, he smiled in silent amusement that Bishop of all people was copying Remy’s fashion sense.
“W’ere you off ta, big guy?” Remy asked.
Bishop looked at him with a strange expression. “Well, it turns out Heather and Davis’ father was something of a local crime boss, and he was assassinated last week.” He slipped on a pair of designer shades; “I’m going to head down to the police precinct and see what information I can dig up.”
“What makes you t’ink they tell you anything, mon ami?” Remy teased him.
Bishop reached into his pocket and flipped a card at LeBeau. Gambit caught it deftly and studied the laminated piece of plastic, “Lucas Bishop, eh?” He laughed at Bishop, “So you a cop now? Wit’ fake credentials, dis must be killing ya.”
“Yes, I admit I have…reservations, but I am a cop, so try not to steal the silverware, LeBeau, at least when I’m in the room.” Remy was surprised by Bishop’s retort; it’s not like de man to have a sense of humour.
A lilting Southern accent sounded from the other side of the room, “Sugah, are you giving Remy the “Ah’m a cop” speech?”
Bishop sighed, dealing with Gambit’s teasing was one thing, but with Rogue ganging up on him too, he knew he would have no peace. “I’ll be back soon.” He said with a grim expression and left.
“Dere I t’ought I was special, getting’ the cop speech, does he say that a lot?” Remy asked Rogue with a sly grin.
“All the time, sugah. The big lug has a police fixation.” Rogue’s smile warmed Gambit’s heart, as he stood up and gave her a quick hug. Half an hour later, the couple were walking the streets of Sydney in the sunlight, Rogue was wearing a long flowing summer dress over a full body stocking, to cover her skin.
Back at the apartment, Sage was sitting silently, analysing all the information she had gathered from Gambit the night before. She paused with a puzzled expression, as she studied his power signature, this is strange, there is a definite fluctuation in his power levels. She quickly cross-referenced the readings with the records she had memorised back at the Mansion and discovered that Remy LeBeau was definitely growing more powerful. The fluctuation was across a power spectrum that dictated his current limited abilities and his full mutagenic potential. It seems he is in the process of regaining his full powers. Sage filed her findings and continued with her studies.
Gambit and Rogue stopped for coffee and a bite of breakfast and then wandered towards Sydney Harbour, and the Opera House. To the casual observer, they looked like any normal couple, walking hand in hand in the sunlight. But in both their hearts, there was an unspoken fear that each time they saw each other might be the last. After a lot of idle chit-chat, Remy led Rogue to a small bench and sat down with her. He took off her glasses carefully, avoiding any direct contact and looked into her emerald eyes.
“Rogue,” he breathed, “You’ve been avoiding tryin’ ta talk about yourself, chere.” He paused for a moment, searching for the right words, “I know you didn’t want me to come wit’ Storm and de others, ’cause you were afraid of your powers freakin’ out and hurtin’ me.” He took a deep breath before he continued. “After I left Xavier’s, I was t’inking of hookin’ up wit’ you guys, but I didn’t, wasn’t sure if you wanted me ’round.”
“Remy, ah… Rogue began, “It’s been hard, sugah, we lost Betsy and near lost Blue, and the fact that my powers are still pretty much on the fritz, it’s not that ah don’t want you around, ah’m just afraid ah’ll disappoint ya too much.”
“Never, chere.” Remy replied, “If anyt’ing, I be the screwed up one in dis relationship, after all, I ain’t been de most open, non?”
“But Remy, that’s you, sugah, who you are.” Rogue looked away for a moment, “Ah know you’re a good man…now.” She hesitated.
Remy took her hand, “Well, dis “good man” is here now chere, and he asking, do you want him to stay wit’ you?”
Rogue felt tears welling up but she clamped down on the feeling quickly. “Ah don’t know, Remy, ah still feel so strange, ah can control my powers better now, but ah’m not sure, what we’re doing here, Storm and the others, it’s important, ah feel bad for wanting more, wanting you…”
Remy saw the look on her face, half love and half pain, a look he knew only too well. In an instant, he knew exactly what he had to do, “I t’ink I already know de answer chere, I’ll no be staying until you can say yes to my question.” he said with a heavy heart.
He leaned over and gently kissed her on the forehead. Standing up, still holding her hand, he looked at her sitting there, tears starting to fall down her cheeks, “Tell de others bye from me, chere, and sorry I can’ stay, but you know how it is. Tell Stormy I’ll be in touch soon and not to be worryin’. He paused for a moment, “And Rogue, I’ll be back to see you soon, you can be sure of dat.”
Rogue nodded, tears coming more freely now. “Bye Remy,” she whispered, almost too quietly to hear. Remy walked away then, letting Rogue’s hand slip from his, behind his own shades, a few tears of his own were forming but he kept walking, refusing to look back, not wanting to see how hurt his lover was. Someday, chere, you an’ me, we gonna make it. In the emotion of the moment, neither one of them noticed that Remy had managed to kiss Rogue, skin to skin, without so much of a flash of her power. But such is life.