So Impossible

Part 5 - Save the Best for Last

"It's all set."

The cheerful Christmas music playing in the background was in stark contrast to Rogue's mood. She shifted on the barstool and looked at Jimmy skeptically. "Are you sure?"

"Look," he began, reaching under the bar and pulling out a clipboard. "Right there - LeBeau, 7 p.m., table for two, corner booth." After letting her scrutinize the papers for a minute, he returned the clipboard to its place. "I've been runnin' this place for a while now, I think I can get a simple reservation right."

"Ah know, ah'm sorry," she sighed, "it's just that tonight is very important, an' ah don't want anythin' to mess it up."

"Would it help if I offered to wait on them myself?" he offered.

"Only if you're prepared to keep 'em from killin' each other," Rogue said despondently. "This is a mistake," she thought to herself. "What have ah gotten mahself into...why did ah think ah had the right to go nosin' around where ah didn't belong...?"

Jean-Luc had wondered the same thing. "An' where exactly' d'you fit into all dis?" he asked once she laid out her plans to him over the phone. She had told him that her relationship with her mother - "mothers" would probably be more appropriate - was at a point where reconciliation was impossible, and that she'd hate for that to happen to Remy and him. The leader of the Thieves Guild had been more than patient listening to her proposal - she would pay for his flight from New Orleans to Bayville and back again, put him up in a local hotel, and arrange for him and his adopted son to have dinner together. She asked for nothing in return, save he make a concerted effort to mend things between him and Remy. He was puzzled by the proposition, and couldn't quite understand what she expected to get out of it...but since seeing Remy last, he had begun to reevaluate his relationship with the boy he had once saved from the clutches of a man that made even the likes of Jean-Luc shudder with disgust. He was ready to sit down and have a heart-to-heart with Remy, and this was the perfect opportunity. Still, in his experience nothing came without a price, and he waited for the other shoe to drop. But even when the girl in the dark clothes and the white streak in her hair had picked him up at the airport and drove him to his hotel, she said nothing on the subject of payment.

"Ah'll have a taxi pick you up a little before 7," she promised once she made sure he was settled in his room. "Tomorrow, ah'll come by an'..."

"No," Jean-Luc interrupted. "You've done too much already. I'll get back t' de airport myself."

She started to argue with him, but stopped herself and shrugged. "Whatever you want."

The girl who he'd seen take out two men with nothing more than a touch turned to leave. "Why're you doin' dis?" he asked outright, still unable to grasp her motive.

She left without answering him.

"Rogue."

She snapped back to the present. "Huh?"

Jimmy patted her arm reassuringly. "It's a good thing you're trying to do. Even if it doesn't work out, I'm sure both men appreciate it."

"Yeah," she replied absently. She'd given Jimmy precious little information about this attempted reconciliation, just that Remy and his adoptive father were estranged, and she was trying to get their relationship back on track. The problem was, she didn't know if it'd ever been on track to begin with. "Thanks, Jimmy...for everythin'. I gotta get goin'."

Rogue got up and started to put on her coat. She glanced around at the handful of customers, mostly couples enjoying mugs of hot cocoa. Happy couples. Smiling couples playfully flirting with each other. Normal couples. Couples who touched, nuzzled, and kissed without a thought. A wave of jealously hit her as she glanced down at her perpetually gloved hands. The one thing she wanted was the one thing she couldn't have...she finally wanted to be near someone, and it was already too late for her. And she was surrounded by people who took for granted the simple pleasure she was denied.

Sitting apart from the couples, Wanda Maximoff had noticed Rogue come in. She herself had escaped from the stifling disarray of the Brotherhood's boarding house only twenty minutes earlier. In dire need of a break from her teammates, she decided to go to The Dungeon for a few hours. Like Rogue, she appreciated the darker atmosphere of the diner, and was pleased to discover that it was all but deserted at the moment. She was on her second cup of coffee, reading a novel when the X-Man walked in. Wanda watched her talk to the owner for a few minutes, her mood seemingly all over the place - demanding, then defeated, then distracted - before getting ready to leave. She saw Rogue's eyes move from the couples present to her own covered hands, and suddenly felt sorry for her. She'd rather be able to feel Todd's slimy hand on her arm as he tried to win her affections than absorb everyone she came in contact with.

"Hey..." she said tentatively, unsure of where to go from there.

Rogue's feelings of self-pity faded when Wanda awkwardly waved at her from across the room. Not wanting to be rude, Rogue approached the other girl, who invited her to join her. "What're you doin' here?"

"Oh, you know...had to get away from the testosterone-riddled madhouse for a while."

Rogue smiled a little. "Ah can't imagine what's it's like livin' with those boys..."

"It's not so bad," Wanda admitted, "but every once in a while I need a break from them. I can only watch Dude, Where's My Car? so many times..."

"It doesn't bother you bein' the only girl in the house?"

"Nah. They all think of me as one of the guys...except Toad, but I don't even want to think about that right now."

An uncomfortable silence followed her remark as both girls tried to think of something else to say. Although they knew each other by reputation, they had never really talked until now, and while they seemed similar on the surface, it didn't look like they had much to talk about after all. "Ah better go," Rogue finally said. "It was nice talkin' to you, Wanda."

"Yeah...take care."

She watched the other girl exit the diner before returning to her novel. They were both misfits within their respective groups of misfits...Wanda wondered if they had more in common than either was willing to admit. She wouldn't mind exploring the possibility, but Rogue's thoughts were elsewhere at the moment. Now was not the time.

~

Rogue anxiously pulled the curtains aside one last time, hoping she'd see Remy walking towards the mansion, but was welcomed by a silent winter landscape. He wasn't coming. She released the dark fabric, but remained where she was long after it had fallen back into place.

"Hey," a voice interrupted her thoughts, "this is supposed to be a party."

She turned to face Scott, who had returned from college a few days ago. Like Rogue, he had nowhere to go during the holidays, no real home or family to visit, so when the other students went to their respective homes for their winter break, she and Scott would be the only two young people left. They were far from feeling left behind, however, and Rogue had come to look forward to the two weeks she spent bonding with Scott, the professor, Dr. McCoy, and Logan...when Logan wasn't wandering the country, that is.

"Shouldn't you be spendin' ev'ry last wakin' moment with Jean?" she asked, a touch of bitterness in her voice. "She's leavin' tomorrow, ya know."

Scott glanced over his shoulder at his girlfriend, who was chatting with Kitty and Kurt. "I've seen her more than the rest of you have this semester...she wants to catch up with everyone. So do I."

Rogue couldn't hide the smile she felt creeping across her face. "You are the charmer, aren't you?"

"That's what I'm told."

The two walked over to the couch and Rogue began asking him about college. He was in the middle of an amusing story when he noticed that he didn't have her complete attention. "What's the matter?"

"Nothin'." He waited for her to say more, and she finally elaborated. "Ah was just hopin' Remy would come."

Scott still didn't like the idea of Rogue seeing him, but from what he heard from both the professor and Logan, it sounded like Gambit was turning over a new leaf. "Maybe he got tied up with something..."

She was unconvinced. "Maybe."

"Stay right here," Scott said, jumping up and running out of the room. Rogue was startled by his reaction, but remained where she was until Scott returned and placed a neatly wrapped package in her hands. "I was going to wait until Christmas, but it looks like you need some cheering up."

She ripped open the wrapping paper and examined the book within. "The Taming of the Shrew?"

"Yeah...I had to read it in one of my English classes...one of the main characters kinda reminded me of you. And on top of that, her name is Kate, so you know, it all fit."

"Are you callin' me a shrew, Scott Summers?" Rogue asked in mock surprise.

"Well...I mean....yeah...I guess..."

She slugged him lightly. "Ah take it back, you're no charmer!"

"Merry Christmas, Rogue," he laughed, pretending to cower from her blow. "Please don't hurt me."

"Thanks, Scott," she said seriously. "Ah can't wait to read it. But why don't you go catch up with the others too...we'll have enough time to talk later."

He nodded and the two parted company. While he went off and started a conversation with Ororo, Rogue decided to mingle as well. But her thoughts were still on Gambit, wondering if he thought she had gone out of bounds by contacting Jean-Luc without his permission. She simply wasn't in a partying mood. So she decided to go for a walk.

Slipping out of the room unnoticed, Rogue considered changing her outfit before wandering out into the cold winter night. She was wearing her usual dressy outfit - black tank top, gray wrap skirt, elbow length gloves, knee high black heeled boots, and purple scarf - which didn't really lend itself to warmth, but she was too lazy to make her way upstairs. She opened the coat closet and pulled out a long, black, hooded cloak. It was an early Christmas present from Logan, one that she had yet to wear. She wrapped her scarf more tightly around her neck, then put on the cloak, buttoning the buttons down to her waist. As she walked out the door, she put the hood on, the final touch of warmth and drama.

The silence of the snow covered property was deafening. Even the crunch of her boots as they entered the frozen white powder seemed to get sucked into the stillness. Coming from the south, she wasn't a big fan of the cold...but she did enjoy the snow. As a girl, she had only seen it on TV and in movies, had only read about it in books...now she felt low temperatures were a small price to pay to actually see it in person.

She welcomed the slight chill burrowing into her bones; it helped clear her head. She tried going over things objectively. The meeting between father and son had occurred last night...although Jean-Luc knew what was going on, Remy thought he was meeting Rogue for dinner...and she hadn't heard from either since. This didn't bode well for her. Why did she think she could fix things between them? It was a stupid thing to do, especially without Gambit's knowledge or consent...

"Rogue?" A large figure stepped out of the shadows of a nearby tree.

"Piotr...what are you doin' out here? Why aren't you at the party?"

"I was going to ask you the same thing," he said in a soft voice. "I am out here because snow always reminds me of my family. I have not seen them in a long time, and I wonder if they will think I have changed much."

"Oh." Rogue didn't know Colossus all that well, even though he had been a member of the team for about six months. He didn't talk much, and seemed like a sweet guy, especially towards Kitty, but they didn't really move in the same circles. "Ah just needed some time alone."

"I'm sorry, I did not mean to intrude upon your solitude," he apologized, starting to leave.

"No...ah mean, ah came out here to think, but ah haven't been makin' much progress. Ah wouldn't mind some company."

He nodded slightly, and they walked together for several minutes in silence. She entertained the idea of asking him about Gambit, but ultimately decided against it. From what she understood, the Acolytes were strictly teammates who didn't go beyond the boundaries of a professional relationship. He wouldn't be able to tell her anything she didn't already know.

When they reached the wall that separated two parts of the property, Piotr easily pulled himself to the top. He reached down, and with extraordinarily little effort pulled Rogue up next to him. He jumped down on the other side, and before she could protest, wrapped his hands around Rogue's waist and carefully placed her on the ground next to him. "Ah always knew you were strong, but ah had no idea that..."

"I was gentle?"

"Yeah."

"When my powers surfaced, I did not realize my own strength. Even now it is sometimes difficult for me to gauge how much power to use. I had...some accidents in the beginning. Property was damaged, people were injured...nothing permanent, but it was enough. I do not wish to hurt anyone, and have since tried to be aware of how much energy I put into every task I undertake."

"That must be hard for you."

"I understand that your powers are also hard for you."

"Ah guess everyone's powers have a downside to them," she allowed, "but ah feel like ah got the short end of the stick. Ah can't touch anyone without hurtin' them. Ever. Ah don't have any control at all."

"Perhaps that will change with time."

"Ah don't think so," she said with a disturbing sense of certainty. She lowered her voice considerably and confessed to something that had, as of late, been bothering her. "An' ah'm afraid that one day ah'm gonna hurt someone real bad...maybe even kill them. Ah'll just touch them, an' that'll be it. Ah couldn't live with mahself if that happened...ah don't want someone else's blood on mah hands..." She thought back to when she pushed a petrified Mystique off a cliff, an act that still haunted her despite the fact that it had not resulted in her adoptive mother's death. She never wanted to experience anything like that again.

"I cannot speak for the others, but I too share your fear," he replied. "If it is any comfort, I will try to make sure you never experience such a thing."

"Ah...that's sweet. Ah'll try to do the same for you."

"You are shivering...maybe we should go back inside."

A voice from behind them spoke up. "Rogue..."

~

Remy LeBeau had not been particularly pleased to find Jean-Luc sitting where Rogue was supposed to be, but he slid into the booth nonetheless. "An' what brings the head of the Thieves Guild into my neck of the woods...mus' be important for him to come all de way up here..."

"Remy...I've come wavin' a white flag, jus' hear me out."

"I'm listening," Gambit said, leaning back in his seat, crossing his arms.

"You t'ink de only interest I have in you has t' do with your powers...an' for a long time dat was a big part of it, but dat's not how we started out."

"You're not gonna tell me some sob story 'bout how you saved me from some evil old man, are you...'cause if dat's what dis is about, you can stop right dere."

Jean-Luc looked surprised. "Actually, dat's exactly what I was gonna say."

Gambit was taken off guard by his response, and motioned for him to continue out of curiosity. Just then Jimmy, took advantage of the brief silence between the two men to take their orders, which he did as quickly as possible, before leaving them alone once again.

"You were left at a hospital...even I don' know who your parents are. The Antiquary took notice of your...unique physical attributes, an' wanted you for his collection. I usually keep outta dat man's affairs...but dere was no way I was lettin' him get his hands on you. Stealin' and sellin' chil'ren was bad enough...but he wanted to keep you an' make you a part of his collection..."

"I'm aware of de man's reputation," Remy broke in. The Antiquary was known for certain immoral eccentricities...in plain English, he was one sick bastard. Definitely not the kind of guy you want raising a child.

"So I made sure you sure you placed somewhere safe...where you'd also get de best education possible."

"As a t'ief."

"Of course as a t'ief, what else would I train my son t'be?"

He had a point. "As heartwarmin' as dis all is, you gonna tell me why you fatherly concern didn' keep you from usin' de boy you supposedly saved?"

Jean-Luc had been asking himself the very same question, and knew Remy wouldn't like his answer, but lying to him would only widen the gap between them. "Power corrupts."

Gambit waited for him to continue, and was annoyed when it became obvious that this was all his father intended to say. "Dat's it? 'Power corrupts'? T'anks for clearin' dat up..."

"You want de truth, I give it t'you, an' you're still not satisfied. Whadda ya want from me, an apology? Fine, I'm sorry I couldn't bring myself t'see past your powers...it's jus' dat I saw so much promise in dem...so much you an' I could do wit' powers like dat at our disposal."

"Are you serious?"

"Don' I look serious?"

Gambit eyed him suspiciously. "Why are you here?"

"I told you..."

"Yeah, you told me one t'ing, but you want anot'er. I know you, Jean-Luc, you're not exactly de type to come all dis way for nothin'. What is it you want from me?"

"Nothin'."

"I don' get it."

"Dere's nothin' t'get."

Gambit shook his head. "I'm missin' somet'in' here..."

"You're not."

"So you're tellin' me dat you came up here all on your own, for no ot'er reason dan t' sit down wit' me an' have some kind of father-son bondin' fest?"

"Not quite on my own," he admitted reluctantly.

"See...I knew you had somet'in' up your sleeve. Who'd you bring, an' what d'they want?"

Once again, Jean-Luc's expression was one of mild surprise. "What I mean is, dis wasn't really my idea. I didn' bring anyone...someone brought me."

"Uh huh. An' who would dis mystery person be?"

"Dat girl who helped us escape de Rippers...you know, with de white streak in her hair?"

The irritation Gambit had felt since arriving had interfered with his common sense. Of course, who else around here would know, or even care, about his not-so-wonderful relationship with Jean-Luc. "Rogue?"

"Dat her name? She never told me."

Gambit insisted his father tell him all the details of his dealings with Rogue, and the older man was more than happy to divulge everything from her first phone call right up to when she left him at the hotel. Gambit listened intensely, stopping him to ask questions every so often. When Jean-Luc was finished, there was another long silence.

Jimmy came with their food and left, though neither man began to eat. Gambit couldn't believe how much trouble Rogue went to for him...and while he felt that she had been poking around where she didn't belong, he knew that she had his best interests in mind. The invasion of privacy was minuscule compared to the amount of thought and effort she had put into this. Meanwhile, Jean-Luc had been astonished at Gambit's reaction to his confession. He had assumed the two had some kind of relationship, since Remy was always involved in some kind of relationship with a woman or two. Even three. But there had never been any particular attachment on his part. While his women would do almost anything for him, he never seemed to share their feelings. But this Rogue girl...he was acting like he might actually care about her.

"Dis Rogue...she an' you...?"

Gambit looked at Jean-Luc, and for the first time since his powers had emerged, there was no hostility in his eyes. "Yeah."

"It's serious, den?"

Gambit considered his answer before speaking...hesitant to give his father any information about someone he cared deeply about. "I t'ink so."

Jean-Luc understood his disinclination to trust him, and didn't want to press the matter further. "She seems like a special girl."

"She is."

~

Only a thief could successfully sneak up on two experienced X-Men in the ice coated snow. "Remy," she whispered apprehensively without turning around. She was frozen in place, unable to face him. Afraid of what she might see in his eyes when she did.

"Piotr, you wouldn't mind excusin' us, would you? I need t' have a little talk with de rogue here."

"Well," she reasoned, "he must've spent a good amount a' time with his dad...he's talkin' with that silly accent again."

Colossus glanced down at Rogue, silently asking her permission to leave. "Ah think this is where we part ways," she told him, and the giant of a man slowly walked into the darkness.

"What's de matter, cherie...scared of a Cajun's wrath?"

The comment was just enough to make her turn around in defiance. "Ah ain't afraid of you."

"After dat stunt you pulled, maybe you should be."

His face was impossible to read, stoic to the point of being expressionless. But even Gambit could only take a joke so far, especially when his victim was taking everything he said so seriously. He smiled. "I'm jus' kidding...Gambit's not mad at you." He approached her and offered her his arm. "Walk with me."

Displeased with his antics, she nevertheless took his arm and they began to walk "Why does everythin' have to be a joke to you?"

"You'd rather I was angry?"

"Well..."

"Wasn't too happy when I found out Jean-Luc was my date for the night...but your heart was in the right place."

She brightened at his words. "So things went ok? Did you work anythin' out? Ah wasn't sure...you father is so hard to get a read on..."

"T'ings could've gone better, but they certainly coulda been a whole lot worse. I t'ink we understand each other a little better, an' that's a start."

"Ah'm glad it worked out, 'cause that was your Christmas present."

"Dat's it?"

"Ah hope you're kiddin'...between the plannin' an' havin' to practically beg your father to come..."

"It's the best present I've ever received," he said earnestly. "An' it's impossible to top, but dat don' mean I won't try..."

"Ah sure hope your gift doesn't involve Mystique or Destiny, 'cause if it does, ah'm tellin' you right now, things are gonna get messy."

"It doesn't," he replied. Trying to arrange some kind of sit-down between Rogue and either woman was not a good idea, at least not right now. Their betrayals were still too close at hand...and he wasn't sure if they had ever seen Rogue as anything more than a powerful ally. "Although it does require the combined talents of a weather witch and a...well, I don' want t' spoil the surprise...you'll jus' have to wait an' see."

They arrived at the gazebo on the cliff a few minutes later. Rogue noticed that the area surrounding the structure was free of snow just before she was welcomed by the warmth of a late spring breeze. "What on Earth...?"

"Wait for it," he said softly, nodding to two figures standing off on the side, too far away for her to see them clearly.

The shorter of the two raised his hands for several seconds, then spoke in a small voice. "It's done."

~

The first thing Remy did when he woke up that morning was call the mother of a mutant he knew by reputation, and then only as Leech. She had agreed to meet with him a little before noon once she learned of his friendly relationship with Charles Xavier, who had always been especially kind and patient with both her and her son.

He arrived on time, and she invited him into the living room.

"Mrs. Leech," he began cautiously, not knowing how else to address her, "I have a favor to ask..." She eyed him warily, and he didn't blame her. Accepting that your child was a mutant was tough for many parents, but she had the additional burden of having to protect the unusually young boy from the rest of the world, as her son's powers had manifested long before most mutants', when he was only 10. She had agreed to allow him to participate in the battle against Apocalypse only if he remained as far away from danger as possible, and only because the fate of the entire world rested in the outcome. She felt that Dorian was still too young to undertake any kind of formal training, and wanted him to enjoy his childhood while he still could. She knew his innocence and optimism would be lost when he inevitably joined the group of mutants in their struggle for fair treatment.

"It has nothin' t' do with fightin'," he continued. "Actually, it has t'do with a girl."

In the next room, Leech turned down the television and listened. Gambit told his mother about Rogue, who they both knew a little, and his wish to give her a special Christmas present. He also explained that both he and she had been used for their powers in the past, and he realized that his asking Leech to turn off her powers probably made him seem like a hypocrite, but he could think of no other way to approach the issue.

His mother was sympathetic and polite, but her response was not what Gambit had hoped. She understood his request and admired his honesty, but she didn't think they should get involved. Still, she said, it was up to Dorian.

When she called him in, Leech obediently entered the living room and sat next to his mother on the couch. The man's story had made him sad. "She really can't touch anyone?" he asked, betraying the fact that he had been eavesdropping.

"Not without dem goin' t' sleep...like when she borrowed your powers. It don' hurt none, but de longer she touches you, de more energy she drains...if she holds on long enough, it gets dangerous."

"And you want to touch her?"

Gambit pushed the dirty thoughts the boy's question had produced aside. "I want t' remind her what it's like t'touch another person. It's hard spendin' your life worryin' about accidentally absorbin' someone by just brushin' against their bare skin." He was going to say more, but held back. His intention was not to guilt the child into helping him - either he would or he wouldn't.

"I want to help," he stated, looking up at his mother. "She's a nice girl...I don't want her to be unhappy on Christmas."

Despite her objections, his mother was proud of Dorain's decision. "When do you need us?"

~

"It won't last long," Leech warned when Rogue approached him.

She bent down and kissed his forehead, a gesture the moved both him and his mother, considering that she was wasting precious seconds of her freedom. "Thank you," she whispered in his ear, "ah'll never forget this."

Leech reached up for his mother's hand, and the two followed the path back to the Institute. Rogue returned to the unnaturally warm area near the gazebo with tears of joy in her eyes. "Remy, ah..."

He shook his head, and went on to slowly unbutton and remove her cloak. Draping it over his arm, he took his time slipping off her gloves, followed by her purple scarf. Walking over to the gazebo, he carefully hung them on the railing, adding his coat and sweater to the pile.

To her amazement, he didn't rush back and sweep her off her feet, but rather pulled her close and began to sway slowly back and forth. He had removed his own gloves during her brief encounter with Leech, and felt a rush of adrenaline as the fingers of his left hand mingled with her right, while his right grazed the bare skin of her waist. Every nerve in Rogue's skin danced with delight at his touch. He began to hum softly, and she put her head on his shoulder. After a little while, he actually began to sing to her...

"Sometimes the snow comes down in June
Sometimes the sun goes 'round the moon
I see the passion in your eyes
Sometimes it's all a big surprise

" 'Cause there was a time when all I did was wish,
You'd tell me this was love
It's not the way I hoped or how I planned
But somehow it's enough..."

He brought her right hand to his shoulder, and his left joined his right at her waist. He pulled her as close as possible, and she picked up her head so she could look into his face...

"And now we're standing face to face
Isn't this world a crazy place?
Just when I thought our chance had passed
You go and save the best for last...¹ "

He wanted to kiss her. Ever since he first laid eyes on her. But her powers had prevented it, and even now he knew that her curse was his blessing. All those girls he had wined and dined, charmed and bedded, meant nothing to him. Those relationships were built upon pure chemistry, physical attraction and nothing more. Ask the girls' middle names, ask their favorite colors, and Gambit wouldn't be able to tell you. He didn't know, and he didn't much care. And, though he hated to admit it, if it wasn't for the simple fact that everyone Rogue touched lost consciousness, it was probable that she would've been his most recent conquest. But he had been forced to hold back, and in the process, got to know the girl behind the powers. He fell for her...and for the first time in his life, his urge to kiss a girl had less to do with animal lust than a sincere need to express his feelings for someone he cared about more than anything.

She was waiting for the kiss, expecting it, and wondered at his hesitation. Her powers would return soon, and he was taking his sweet old time. At the same time, she marveled at his self control, and realized that he was trying to do things right...to treat her like a lady. This wasn't supposed to be a frantic tumble in the night...he wanted it to be special. It would be the first time someone kissed her just to kiss her, the first time she wouldn't use her lips as a weapon...the one time. The only time.

"We may not get another chance at this," he said, reading her mind. "But I wanted you t' know - this is how it should be."

Gambit leaned forward, and Rogue suddenly became very nervous...she'd never really done this before, while Remy was experienced at this, and then some. But she closed her eyes when his lips met hers, and his tender kisses were patient. When she discovered there wasn't much too it, and relaxed, he became more passionate and aggressive. She welcomed the change of pace, and responded in kind.

She was disappointed when he broke away slightly. "What?"

"I was jus' thinkin'...I shoulda planned this better...as romantic as this moonlit winter scene is, we'd be more comfortable in you room..."

In spite of the hunger he clearly saw in her eyes, she was incensed by his words. "What?"

Rogue tried to pull away but he wasn't about to let her go. "Hey, I didn' mean it like that...you sure got a dirty mind for a girl who has yet to be corrupted..."

She raised an eyebrow at his claim. "You're tellin' me that the thought never entered your mind?"

"Now I didn't say that," he chuckled. "But there's a time an' place for everythin'. This ain't the time or the place. Besides, there are some things that shouldn't be rushed."

She began to lightly trace the lines of his face with her fingertips, following paths her eyes had already etched into memory. "You haven't shaved," she commented as his prickly stubble tickled her fingers. Gambit didn't respond, silently giving her the chance to do whatever it was she wanted with the time she had. It was not long before she brought his lips down to hers, and initiated another deep kiss. His hands slowly made their way up beneath her tank top, massaging her back, making no attempts to do anything more than that.

And then it happened.

The ever so slight tingling that indicated the return of her powers was felt everywhere his skin touched hers. He didn't know if she felt it as well, and chose to ignore it, kissing her as if he would never see her again.

Rogue didn't notice at first, but as her powers grew stronger, a slow but steady stream of Remy's thoughts began to pour into her head. She turned her head away in an attempt to end the kiss, but Remy leaned forward and pressed his lips against hers, more determined than ever to continue as long as possible. Rogue absorbed his resolve, and held him tighter when she should have been pushing him away.

She came to her senses when he fell to his knees, and broke away from his embrace. It was over, done. She had been shoved back into her cage, and would never be let out again. With some effort, Gambit stood and went over to where Rogue had walked, looking off into the distance with her arms crossed. Assuming that she had yet to regain the full strength of her powers, he stood before her and kissed her forehead. She put her arms around his waist and laid her head on his chest, but because most of her shoulders, and all of her arms were still exposed, he dare not hold her.

Standing there together, removed from the harsh winter weather, Gambit suddenly wondered if his gift had made things worse. When she didn't know what she was missing, she had still wanted it...but now that she had a taste, she would yearn for it more than ever. The life sentence she was serving from within the confines of her own body would be all the more austere.

He went back to the gazebo and replaced both his sweater and outerwear, then returned to Rogue and enveloped her in his trench coat. They stood like that for a long time.

 

1 - Excerpt from Save the Best for Last, by Vanessa Williams

 

Part 6