So Impossible

Part 4 - O Fortuna

"Can't you talk to him? Ah mean, you used to be teammates, right?"

Gambit grabbed Rogue's arm and pulled her down on the ground next to him. They had been running through the forest forever, and he thought they might have lost their pursuer. "He's not really the talkin' type."

"But you were friends..." she insisted.

"Teammates, yes. Friends...I don' think John has any friends. 'Sides, he's probably still mad at me..."

"An' what did ya do to him that got him all fired up?" Rogue asked, smiling at her little pun.

"He started it," Gambit began, "he was the one laughin' at everyone else's reactions on the tape, I just pointed out that he didn't do much better."

"What tape?"

The tape he was speaking of was old news - it was one of the security tapes from the Acolytes' warehouse...the one that documented Rogue, under Mesmero's power, taking them all out in a matter of minutes. Now that Gambit thought about it, he wasn't sure how much Rogue remembered about the incident, if anything at all. And though he assumed someone must have told her what had happened, no one, save the Acolytes themselves, knew the details of her encounter with them. So she didn't realize that she stole his powers with a kiss..."It's a long story," he finally replied, and was saved by the faint sound of maniacal laughter in the distance.

"Come out, come out, wherever you are..." the voice called, "or I might just have to start a little forest fire..."

"He's crazy enough to do it too," Gambit muttered, and they both rose.

"Ah don't like runnin'."

"Don' like it myself, chere, but we don' have much choice...anythin' I charge an' throw, Pyro will burn up before it explodes, an' you'd be a crispy critter 'fore you could get close enough to use your powers."

"So runnin' it is," she sighed, and the two began to once again weave through the trees because they could think of no better solution to their problem. They ran in silence for a few minutes, until Rogue's vision started to fail her. At first things became fuzzy around the edges, but the blur continued to invade her line of sight until the world disappeared into darkness. She continued to run regardless, and without complaint, until she inevitably tripped on a root or rock she couldn't see. She instinctively threw her hands out in front of her, and the thick brown gloves of her uniform took the brunt of her impact.

She felt Gambit's hand on her arm seconds later. "You ok?"

"Gambit, ah..." she didn't want to tell him, but there was no way to avoid it "...ah can't see."

Without missing a beat, he threw her over his shoulder and started to jog. His shoulder jabbed into her abdomen with every step, but she held her tongue. Aside from the horror of her sudden blindness, Rogue was mortified that she had gone from an asset to a burden in such a short period of time, and was trying to think of a better way to handle the situation when her vision cleared, in a manner of speaking. In her mind's eye, three separate scenarios played out before her - in one, she and Gambit stood their ground against Pyro; in the next, they simply surrendered to him; in the third, they kept running until they reached a cliff...and then they jumped off.

Although she didn't witness the outcomes of these possibilities, she instinctively knew which path they had to take. She blinked, and there was the ground rushing beneath her.

"You can put me down now," she said, straightening up.

Gambit stopped and slid her down his body. "Your eyes workin' again?"

"Yeah."

He let go and took a few steps back. "How many fingers?" he asked, holding up three fingers.

"This is no time for games," she said, batting his hand away. "Anyway, ah got an idea..."

"So do I," he jumped in. "It's a long shot, but if one of us distracts him, the other might be able to get a drop on him."

Rogue shook her head. "It won't work."

"The odds are against it, but..."

"It won't work," she repeated.

Gambit was annoyed at her response. "How do you know?"

"Ah just know."

She seemed so sure of herself that he decided to hear her out. "So what's your idea?"

"In a few minutes we'll reach a clearing, an' after that a cliff..."

He knew what she was going to say before she said it. "I don' think I like this plan..."

"You got anythin' better up your sleeve?"

"Can't say that I do."

"Then let's go."

And so they resumed their race against the Australian pyromaniac. Just as she had predicted, the trees thinned until they reached a clearing with a distinctive upward slant. They were nearly at the top when Rogue glanced over at her companion and saw his understandably worried expression. She slowed down to a walk and Gambit followed suit.

"Changed your mind?" he asked hopefully.

"No such luck." She stopped walking and turned to face him. "Trust me," she said, looking him in the eye.

"I'll always trust you, Rogue."

Gambit's words should have made all the difference. Since recovering from her bout with Strep Throat, their relationship had been put on hold. In her weakened condition, Rogue opened up to him a little, and he thought she was finally beginning to let him in...but as soon as her strength returned, the door to her heart was slammed in his face. He knew she was going to be a challenge from the start, however, and was determined to find a way in, no matter how long it took. In an attempt to gain her trust, he resisted his instincts to charm and seduce her - though the latter wasn't really an option anyway - and focused on getting to know her instead. They had become good friends, but while Gambit's feelings had grown towards her, he was unsure of how she felt about him. When she told him to trust her, he was struck by the fact that for the first time in his life, he actually trusted someone. And he responded with all his heart.

She felt his words deep within her soul, but the sensation lasted less than a second. The moment was lost when she finally realized that she'd done this before...she already had this conversation in a dream. That, along with the fact that she had been preoccupied with the idea of jumping off cliffs lately, made her wonder if her decision was more than coincidence. But she didn't have the chance to focus on either Gambit's declaration or her recent epiphany.

"The way I see it, you have three choices," Pyro giggled behind them. "Give up and live another day, try 'n fight me and become bar-be-cued X-Men, or go cliff diving." He approached them slowly, small flames already dancing above his hands. "It's up to you."

Rogue offered her hand to Remy, who took it firmly...and they ran. They could feel his fire's hot breath reaching out for them, but didn't look back. When they reached the edge, they leapt without hesitation.

~

"You really jumped off a cliff?"

Gambit glared at Kurt over the open refrigerator door. "For the millionth time, yes."

Kurt jumped off the counter and took a seat at the table instead. "Sorry."

Gambit grabbed two sodas, closed the door, and sighed. "We've been back for all of ten minutes, an' all I've been hearin' is 'did ya really jump off a cliff?'."

"Well, it's not every day that a couple of my friends do something like that."

"Friends?" Remy thought to himself. "Like any of you consider me a friend." "What can I say...me an' Rogue were bored. We thought a little high dive was jus' what we needed."

"The way I hear it, she told you to jump."

"Word spreads fast around here, huh?"

Kurt leaned back and put his feet on the table. "The fuzzy dude always knows the latest and greatest. Especially when it concerns his sister."

Gambit had forgotten about Nightcrawler's somewhat common bond with Rogue - a mother who cared more about her children's powers than the children themselves. He shrugged. "She said jump...I trust her."

"Rare is the man who will go jump off a cliff when a woman tells him to," Kurt mused, trying to sound philosophical.

"I gotta get back," Gambit said, unwilling to comment on his relationship with Rogue. He left the kitchen and went back to the study, where Rogue was waiting for him, still in uniform, though she had changed gloves.

"Ah hate this," she complained after he handed her a soda. "Ah feel like a little girl waitin' to be punished for spillin' somethin' on the carpet."

"Where's the professor?"

"Talkin' to Jean and Ororo...gettin' their version of the story before he comes in an' grounds me for the rest of mah life."

"Well...he can't do much to me. Don' worry, I'll sneak in an' visit you."

"A prison with visitors is still a prison," she sulked, taking a sip from her soda. "Besides, they could do worse...they could forbid me to see you."

"That all it takes? One word from your professor an' you'll leave me forever?" he asked with a trademark grin.

"Of course not," she replied with more emotion than she intended. She paused and calmed herself. "But between Logan's nose and the professor's telepathy, it'd be hard to hide."

"I don' know...I'm sure we could find a way," Gambit asserted, unconcerned. "But let's not worry until it actually comes to that. Cheer up, chere, we're still alive, ain't we?"

"You didn't think we'd make it...why'd you listen to me?"

" 'Cause you were so sure of yourself...'cause I know there was somethin' in your gut tellin' you it was the right thing t'do, an' sometimes your gut is all ya got." He lowered his voice and reiterated his earlier sentiments. "Because I trust you, Rogue."

The moment he thought was lost forever in the chaos of their previous predicament miraculously reappeared with his words. This time there was a noticeable physical reaction on Rogue's part - a sharp intake of breath followed by a brief flash in her eyes that marked the ever so slight opening of the door she had recently slammed shut. The door closed once again, but this time with a whisper, rather than its previous loud bang.

"Ah hate this," she repeated, silently cursing herself first for almost letting him in...and then for not admitting him. "Stupid Pyro...this is all his fault."

"Don' blame the poor little guy, he's jus' highly unstable."

"Speakin' of which...you never did tell me why his was mad at you...somethin' about a tape..."

This probably wasn't the best time to tell her. "Maybe later."

"Hey, now, we were gonna try to keep the secrets to a minimum, remember?" she said, a touch of irritation in her voice. "Out with it, Bayou boy."

"You sure you wanna hear this?" he asked. She nodded, and he gave in. "Ok...right before Apocalypse was reawakened," he began, and he saw her stiffen a little. "You sure you can handle this?"

"Ah'm fine, go on."

He didn't know which was worse - reminding her of one of the many betrayals of her adoptive mother, or trying to protect her from the truth. Either way she was going to be pretty pissed off. He finally decided to tell her...he felt it was her right to know. And it would show her that he was trying to be more open and honest with her. "Anyway, you were goin' around absorbin' everybody left an' right...an' no one remembered what happened 'cause Mesmero wiped out their memories of it when you were done. But there were a bunch of security cameras in our warehouse, so we got you on tape."

"So?"

"Well, John got a kick outta your takin' everyone out, especially me." He paused, and she looked at him expectantly. "Well...the other Acolytes went down when you touched them with your hand...the only reason you got the drop on me is 'cause you popped up an' kissed me."

The flush in her face was one of anger, rather than embarrassment. "It was bad enough when mah first kiss was just your way of givin' me your powers...now you're tellin' me that ah don't even remember mah first kiss, an' ah used it to steal?" She got up and began to pace the room. "That damn bastard, if ah ever get mah hands on him..."

"See, this is why I didn't want t' tell you," Gambit said, standing as well. "I knew you'd get upset..."

"Upset? You ain't seen nothin' yet," she growled, ready to tear apart the room. "That good-fer-nothin' son of a..."

"Rogue," a calm voice said from the door, and she stopped mid-sentence.

Now she was embarrassed.

"Professor...ah..." she turned around and looked from him to Gambit helplessly.

"Why don't you sit down so we can talk?" he suggested, and she quickly did as she was told. "I've spoken to both Jean and Ororo, now I'd like to hear your side of the story." His manner was neither angry nor accusing as he rolled over to the couch and patiently waited for her to begin.

"Ah really don't know what to say," she admitted. "Me an' Remy were runnin' away from Pyro...an' somehow ah knew that we had to jump off that cliff."

"Is it a feeling you had?" he asked.

"Ah guess."

Gambit sat down next to her. "You're leavin' out the middle, cherie," he said to her before addressing the professor. "Between our runnin' an' her comin' up with this plan, she lost her sight for a couple minutes."

The professor leaned back and tented his fingers. "Is this true, Rogue?"

"Yeah. Ah didn't want to sound crazy, so ah wasn't gonna bring this up, but ah had a vision, an' that's how ah knew what to do."

The professor nodded - it was obvious this was the answer he had been expecting. "Gambit could you excuse us, please? I'd like to talk to Rogue in private."

"He stays," she stated firmly.

"I think it's best that I speak to you alone."

Gambit could take a hint. He stood. "No worries...I'll just wait outside."

"No...ah mean, ah appreciate the offer, but you ain't goin' nowhere," she said, pulling him back down next to her. "This man followed me off a cliff for God's sake. He has the right to know what's goin' on."

"Very well, if that's what you prefer." He thought a moment and seemed to have a change of heart. "What I have to say might be easier to hear with a friend close by."

"Oh, more good news...great," she muttered. "Well, get on with it."

"I'll have to scan your mind to make sure my suspicions are correct...may I?"

She nodded, and he held his hands on both sides of her head. "Relax, and try to concentrate on the visions you spoke of." He closed his eyes for a few seconds, and was bombarded with several hundred different images before being able to focus in on her "visions." He continued to probe her mind a little while longer, until he found confirmation of his hypothesis. He sighed and leaned back in his wheelchair again, opening his eyes.

"Have you been experiencing dreams or thoughts with similar themes?"

"Yes."

"Has anything you've dreamt come true?"

"Yes..." she whispered, dread filling her heart. "What does it mean?"

"I believe you've absorbed a precog," he replied, "and that her visions of the future have been expressed in your dreams...until that future became the present, and her powers completely manifested themselves while you were trying to escape Pyro."

"A blind seer," Gambit mumbled to himself. Rogue was close enough to hear him, however, and grew pale, immediately comprehending the unspoken truth.

"Your foster mother..."

"No," she shook her head at his words. "No, Irene is not a mutant. She would've told me..."

"Irene Adler, also known as Destiny, can see a plethora of possible futures...a mutation which also robbed her of physical sight. She is the longtime friend and companion of Raven Darkholme."

Another day, another betrayal. Rogue's face crumbled at the news, and she covered her face with her gloved hands, trying to block out the truth. "Irene and Mystique...?"

"She knew you were a mutant long before your powers surfaced...she even knew what your powers would entail. If it's any comfort, she tried to protect you from them by making sure that your clothes covered most of your skin, although that meant lying to you about having a skin condition. But like puberty, mutations don't always emerge in a concentrated burst...if you touched her while your powers were still weak, it's possible that you absorbed some of her powers and memories without either of you realizing it."

Gambit put his arm around her, but she moved away from him to the furthest corner of the couch. "How could she...?"

"She's always cared about you, you know that..."

Rogue looked at him, eyes full of rage and despair. "Irene cares about me, Mystique cares about me, Risty cares about me...ah can do without that kind a' carin'. Ah'm better off on mah own."

"Rogue..."

"Just leave me alone," she said, turning away from both men. "At least then ah'll be able to trust who ah'm with."

The professor wisely chose to respect her request and left, though Gambit refused to back down. "Chere, I..."

"Ah said leave me alone!" She faced him, eyes blazing. "A lyin', thievin', no-good Cajun is the last thing ah need right now!"

Most men would have withdrawn from the study. Most men would've been deeply hurt by her remarks. But Remy LeBeau was not most men. Instead he got up, walked over to her, grabbed her left wrist, and pulled her to a standing position. "You're angry, so I'll forgive you that, but you gotta stop shuttin' the whole world out when you're hurtin'."

"Let go mah wrist," she demanded, unsuccessfully struggling against his grip.

"Not 'til you stop fightin' me."

She reached up with her right hand and slapped him across the face. Hard. But his grip did not loosen. She slapped him again, and again he didn't respond. "Why can't you just leave me be?"

He ignored her question. "I understand you need to hit an' kick an' scream, an' if you choose to take out your frustrations on me, so be it, but I ain't leavin'."

Gambit released her wrist, and she attacked him. He allowed her to get some shots in, and took a decent beating for it, but when the frequency and strength of her blows decreased, he knew the end was near. She came at him one last time, but he unexpectedly opened his arms at the last second and trapped her in an embrace. She resisted for several seconds before finally relaxing in his arms.

Sobs racked her body as she clutched the lapels of his trench coat and buried her face in his chest. "Everythin' ah built mah life around is a lie."

He had no words of comfort to offer, so he simply held her while she wept.

~

When her tears were spent, Gambit walked her to the couch and sat her down. She was still sniffling and afflicted with the occasional deep ragged breath, so he gave Rogue more time to collect herself, waiting for her normal breathing patterns to return before he attempted to comment.

On one knee on the floor before her, he told her a story from his past. "When I was jus' a pup, Jean-Luc came t' visit me...I was too young t' officially join the Thieves Guild, so I was biding my time in a local band of child-thieves." His accent became stronger as he described the scene further. "At the time, all I knew about de man was dat he was very important...I didn' know he was my adoptive father...anyway, I was sittin' on my bed in de common room a bunch of us shared, and he jus' came in an' sat next to me. He took a deck a' cards outta his pocket an' fanned 'em out in his right hand. 'Remy," he said, 'life is like a card game...you have t' play de hand you're dealt. Sometimes you'll stand an' sometimes you'll fold; sometimes you have t' lie, an' sometimes not. But never forget - all your opponents are out t' win, an' will do anyt'in' t' succeed.'" Gambit paused and closed his eyes, allowing himself to relive these events that he had long ago filed away in the back of his mind. " 'Trust no one,' he warned. 'An' never forget dat in dis game, we're all alone.' Then he put de stack a' cards on my bed an' left. I've had a deck on me ever since...t' remind me."

A solitary tear ran down Rogue's cheek when he opened his eyes and she saw the sadness that lived deep within the red/black orbs. "Do you really believe that?"

"At first I didn' understand what he meant...but as I grew up, an' looked around me, all I could see was proof of his words."

She nodded slowly. "We're all alone."

"I believed it for a long time," he continued, "but recently I've started to change my mind."

"Not because of me..."

"No," he replied with a slow smile, "not entirely. But when Magneto hired me, part of my job was to keep an eye on the X-Men...an' what I saw was somethin' that was only supposed t' exist in fairy tales. I saw a family - one whose members cared about each other despite their differences, who had each other's backs no matter what. An' then I saw you." He took her hand in his and looked down at it. "An' for the first time, there was someone I didn't wanna play against...someone I wanted to help with her game." He raised his eyes to meet hers. "You're learnin', p'tite, but maybe you could use some help callin' people's bluffs."

"You offerin' to teach me?"

"You ready to learn?"

"You tellin' me that you would've been able to see through Mystique an' Irene?" she asked skeptically.

"Maybe, maybe not. You gotta learn not to trust so easily...part of de problem with your previous experiences was the situations you were in - a child will always trust her parental figure unless that person does somethin' blatantly wrong...an' Mystique appeared as Risty before you had a chance to settle in with your new family, right when you needed a friend the most. You jus' need to be aware of when you're susceptible t' manipulation, an' be suspicious of anyone who approaches you at that time."

"An' how do ah know ah can trust you?"

"That's somethin' you'll have to decide for yourself."

For all his lies and passing references to a sketchy past, Rogue did trust him. After all, hadn't she decided he was her soul mate? He was the perfect match for her...and she was for him. It wouldn't make sense for her not to trust him. It was like they were meant to be. It was their fate, their destiny...but she didn't want to think about the "game of life" any more today. She needed to be cheered up. "You never finished your story."

"Oh...about that...I'm sorry."

"For...?"

"Kissin' you. I didn' know it was your first...I mean, it wasn't, but I only did it to help."

"Ah know," she assured him. "Ah wasn't mad at you, ah was mad at the situation. But you still haven't finished the story. Pyro was teasin' you and..."

"An' I made him rewind the tape so we could all watch you drain his powers. The look on his face was priceless when you walked right through his wall of flames...he got really angry an' stormed outta the room. I guess we're lucky he didn't fry us all right then an' there."

"Ah wish ah coulda seen it."

"Actually...I have the tape back at my place."

"Give me five minutes to change outta mah uniform," she said, heading for the door.

"Rogue..."

She stopped and turned around. "Yeah."

"You're gonna be fine...the X-Men play to win, but they follow stricter rules. You're not alone."

She continued on her previous heading, wondering why Gambit still hesitated to join the X-Men if he thought they were so great...although he was no longer an Acolyte, and would gladly lend a hand whenver Professor X asked him to, he had yet to officially become one of them. "You're not either, Remy. X-Man or not."

 

Part 5