So Impossible

Part 9 - My Immortal

I'm so tired of being here,
Suppressed by all my childish fears.
And if you have to leave,
I wish that you would just leave,
'Cause your presence still lingers here
And it won't leave me alone...
¹

~

"Pull over here."

John did as he was told, stopping the motorcycle next to the wall that surrounded the Institute's grounds. "Embarrassed t' be seen with me?" he laughed as she dismounted behind him.

"If ah play mah cards right, ah won't be seen at all," she replied, looking up at the top of the barrier, trying to decide the best way to get over it.

"Wait a second...you're not breakin' in, are ya?"

Amused by his apparent concern, Rogue looked over her shoulder at her companion. "Since when d'you have a problem with breakin' the law?"

"Hey, ya wanna break in, that's your choice...but ain't there millions of security cameras an' alarms? How ya plan on gettin' in an' out without bein' seen?"

"Ah live here, remember? Ah know where all the cameras an' stuff are. Besides...you don't spend as much time with a master thief as ah have an' not pick up a few things. Now come here an' give me a boost."

Pyro got off his bike and stood with his back against the wall, interlacing his fingers in front of him. "What are ya gonna do if ya get caught?"

"Ah won't." She backed up to the street. "You'll wait for me?" He nodded in confirmation, and she came at him at top speed. Thanks to several years of training, her aim was perfect - her right foot slipped into Pyro's hands with ease, and right on cue he helped catapult her over the wall. She landed on her feet on the other side, and immediately began to run towards the mansion.

John leaned against the stone obstruction and sighed. Two weeks had passed since her initial request to hang out in the warehouse, though she had only been staying there for about a week. She asked him to bring her over here so she could pick up a few things, mostly clothes, because she was tired of borrowing his. Their relationship hadn't really gone anywhere - Rogue stayed in the living room, while John kept to the other side of the building...still, they were friendly enough the few times they'd encountered each other in the hall or kitchen. He didn't know why she come back after she'd insisted it was time for her to return to the X-Men, and didn't bother to ask. He knew that she wasn't the sharing type. Besides, the reason didn't matter...the fact was, she had nowhere else to go. As he waited, he decided that he was going to take her out tomorrow to do something fun; even though her mood had improved significantly over the past few days, the girl really needed to lighten up.

Twenty minutes later, Rogue still hadn't returned, and Pyro was beginning to worry. He wondered if she changed her mind about the whole thing and decided to stay...or maybe she got caught and was being held somewhere inside against her will. He really didn't need much of an excuse to march in there, fires blazing, and free the captive mutant girl, but he'd rather not do that unless he was sure she'd been nabbed. If he acted rashly and she wasn't caught, but rather taking her sweet old time, he'd have made a huge spectacle of himself, when Rogue obviously wanted to keep things quiet. This was her show. He wouldn't interfere unless it became necessary. If she wasn't back in another twenty minutes, he'd reconsider his options.

It wasn't long before he heard her voice. Looking down the road to his left, he saw a figure slowly walking towards him. "What took ya so long? I was startin' t'think ya weren't comin' back."

Rogue didn't reply until she was close enough that she didn't have to shout to be heard. "There were a couple a' unexpected obstacles."

"I thought ya had some kinda plan."

"Ah did," she said, annoyed. "But they've added new security measures since...since ah was attacked. Ah had to be careful. An' then ah had to find a tree whose branches were close enough to the wall so ah could jump on it...an' the closest one ah could find was a mile up the road."

"So why didn't ya tell me to pull ova there?"

" 'Cause ah didn't memorize the flora and fauna on the Institute'd grounds." She stopped next to his bike, dropped the bag she was carrying, and put her hands on her hips. "What're you complainin' about, you got somewhere else you gotta be?"

John smiled. If nothing else, he appreciated her high-spiritedness. "Ya got what ya need?" She nodded, and he walked over to his bike and mounted it. "Then let's get outta here."

Rogue grabbed her bag, got on the bike behind him, and wrapped her arms around his waist. Pyro revved the engine a couple times, and then they were off.

Inside the Institute, Gambit leaned back in his chair, deep in thought. Since Rogue's ostensible desertion, he'd been staying up all night, every night, watching, waiting, eyes glued to the many security monitors, searching for even a hint of motion. Night after night was wasted - leaves blew across the frozen ground, stray cats wandered the property in search of food, and once he caught an anonymous X-Man sneaking in after curfew - but no Rogue. She would come back, of this much he was sure...but under what circumstances he couldn't say.

And now, tonight, she did.

She was familiar with the landscape and the security system, but was unaware of the additional measures that had been added since her attack. Gambit took it upon himself to disable the necessary alarms in order to allow her to come and go undetected...almost undetected. He followed her movements from screen to screen, sometimes only catching a glimpse of her hand or a lock of hair, but despite her caution, most of the new cameras caught her every breath.

There was a time in his life when he would have snickered, or at the very least rolled his eyes, at a character who longingly touched a photograph of a long lost loved one in a movie...but he finally understood the truth of those moments as his fingers caressed the smooth, cool, glass beneath which Rogue's image stood. There was nothing he wouldn't do touch the real girl, but he had promised himself that he'd leave her be while she worked things out on her own. Still, if he could come up with a way to get through to her, he would break that vow in a heartbeat.

She came and went without making a sound, leaving a note, or seeming to care about what she was doing. She left with a large duffle bag, which implied an extended absence, if not an outright resignation from the team. While there was always a possibility that she'd never return, her visit had given Gambit hope, especially after he checked her room. She'd only taken some clothes and personal items...some, not all. She'd left things behind that he knew she wouldn't want to be without for a lengthy period of time. This was just a phase...something she had to get out of her system. She wasn't gone...she hadn't left them...she hadn't left him...not yet.

~

You used to captivate me
By your resonating light.
Now I'm bound by the life you left behind.
Your face, it haunts my once pleasant dreams.
Your voice, it chased away all the sanity in me...²

~

"That was awesome," Rogue repeated for the millionth time, her cheeks still slightly flushed with excitement. "Exhilarating..."

Across the booth, John sat back and smoothly put his arms on the back of the padded bench. He knew she'd like bungi jumping. "I told ya so."

"Ah didn't think ah'd be able to do it...ah mean, at first ah didn't want to, but when ah got up there an' ah was lookin' down at the world, ah wanted to, but ah didn't think ah could."

There had been no doubt in his mind, that this girl, whose bravery he'd witnessed on more than one occasion, would have the balls to jump even if her life wasn't in danger...just for the heck of it. And she was the type who'd think it was fun. "That's just how I felt the first time I did it."

Rogue gave him a skeptical look, and he was only able to contain his laughter for a few seconds. "Ok, ok...so maybe I ran right off the platform an' plunged ta my doom without hesitatin'. But I was still scared." Her expression didn't change with this supposed confession, so he continued. "Maybe not scared...nervous." Her disbelief remained, and he decided to try one more time to stretch the truth, and if that didn't work, then he'd fess up. "Would you believe I was slightly uneasy?" He paused, and finally gave up. "Ok, you win. I had no fear."

She hid her grin behind her mug as she took a sip of coffee. "Afraid ah won't stay with a certifiable lunatic who isn't afraid t' die?"

"No," he replied, crossing his arms in front of him.

John's relaxed demeanor faded, and Rogue was sorry she had teased him. There was still so little they knew about each other, and while they had fallen into a relatively comfortable routine, whenever they strayed from that routine, one of them inevitably overstepped boundaries that he or she was unaware of.

She finished her coffee before speaking again. "So...what've you got planned for us tomorrow?"

Pyro knew he was overreacting...the shiela was just being friendly. But she saw too much. Until now, people had their suspicions about him, but he made sure that the extent of his supposed insanity could never be determined. He wasn't sure he liked the fact that she was getting to know him so well, that she could look beyond his erratic behavior and see who he really was. "Maybe we'll practice playin' with fire."

"Sounds like a plan."

Just then, Kitty Pryde walked into the Dungeon and scanned the tables for Lance, who was supposed to meet her here after she got out of school. She wasn't surprised to discover that he hadn't arrived yet - Lance was notoriously tardy whenever they made plans to meet somewhere - and was about to sit down in an empty booth when realization struck. Reviewing the occupants of the diner, she came back to Rogue and Pyro. What the hell was she doing with that freak? Kitty knew that her teammate been out of sorts since being ripped to pieces, and couldn't blame her for her recent bizarre behavior, but Pyro? Out of all the people in the world, she was hanging out with that guy? Intent on having a serious talk with her friend, she started to head over to the pair when a hand shot out from a booth and pulled her down.

She let out a little yelp as she was forced to sit beside Gambit. "Leave it be, petite."

"Are you serious? Like, this is totally not cool," she protested, phasing her arm through his hand and rubbing her wrist. "Somebody's gotta do somethin' about this."

"No...the rogue needs to find herself on her own."

"Find herself? Gambit, she's sleepin' with the enemy." Cringing at her own words, she silently cursed herself for using that particular expression. "I mean...you know what I mean. That guy's off his rocker. What she needs is stability...her friends...her family."

Gambit shook his head. "Only she knows what she needs. It's not for us to say what's good for her."

"Are you serious? She almost died..."

"Yeah, she almost died, an' almost took one of her teammates down with her. Do you know what that's like? To be on the brink of death an' stare into the abyss? T'almost kill someone?" Kitty looked down at her hands uncomfortably, while Gambit continued. "That's what I thought...I grew up 'round lawlessness an' violence, an' when I got older, death. Never been seriously injured myself, but I've seen what happens to those who have...some of 'em change afterwards - some for the better, some for the worse."

"An' you think Rogue's changin' for the worse?"

"Can't say she's changin' at all...but change or not, she's still dealin' with what happened. She sees everythin' differently now. She has to decide if she should rearrange her priorities. Maybe she's keepin' away from the people who know an' love her so she concentrate on that single task."

Kitty glanced over at Rogue and Pyro laughing on the other side of the room. "She doesn't seem to be concentrating on it at the moment."

What was left of Gambit's patience - for Rogue or anyone else - vanished at that moment. "What d'ya want from me? I don' have all the answers...maybe she's tryin' to forget all about what happened to her, maybe she's tryin' to forget all about us. I don' know her anymore..."

He had kept his voice low, so his outburst went unnoticed by the other patrons, but Kitty was touched by the flash of raw emotion that had burst from his seemingly cool exterior. She put her arm around his shoulder and pulled him towards her. He reluctantly accepted her consolation, and after a moment's pause, rested his head against hers.

They sat like that for several minutes until he spoke again. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be. I say stuff without thinkin' sometimes...and I shouldn't expect you to have all the answers. But you always seem so calm, so together...I never thought anything would upset you. I guess I was wrong."

"I wish she would talk to me," he admitted. "I don' want to approach her, 'cause I'm afraid it'll set her off. But I wish I knew what she's doin'...what she's thinkin' about."

"Well isn't this cozy?"

Both recognized the voice at their backs, and instinctively sat up and separated. Kitty got up to properly greet her boyfriend, and Gambit leaned back against the wall next to the booth and stretched his legs out over the rest of the bench.

"You're late," Kitty complained, but Lance ignored her. He wasn't a big fan of Gambit as it was, and now that he came across him in an intimate pose with his girlfriend, he was beginning to hate him.

"Just what do you think you're doin' with your paws on my girl?"

"Give me a break..." Kitty interjected, rolling her eyes.

"You stay outta this," he said before returning his attention to Gambit. "Well? You got anythin' to say to me?"

"Nothin' comes to mind."

Lance made a fist, ready to unleash a good-sized earthquake, but Kitty grabbed his arm. "Would you relax? We were talking about Rogue, ok?"

A smirk slithered across Lance's face, as Gambit wondered if that girl could ever keep her mouth shut about anything. "Awwww...poor widdle tough guy havin' problems wiff his girlfriend?"

"Keep it up an' you'll be drinkin' your meals through a straw from now on," Gambit warned quietly.

"I'm shakin' in my boots."

"If you two don't stop acting like a couple of babies, I'm leaving."

Lance went to say something else, but one glance at Kitty told him that she was serious, so he kept his mouth shut. He wasn't really mad at either of them; in fact, aside from a slight twinge of jealousy, he could've cared less about coming across them like that. They were teammates, of course they'd be friendly...and if it wasn't enough that he trusted Kitty, he was fully aware of the Cajun's interest in a certain untouchable X-Man. He wasn't in the best of moods, though, and had come to the Dungeon looking for a fight. He'd have to apologize to Kitty for his behavior...later. "So what's wrong with Rogue?"

Kitty pointed to where Rogue and John were sitting. "She's, like, suffering from a serious lapse in judgement...amongst other things."

They watched the pair burst into laughter, and Lance leaned towards his girlfriend and whispered in her ear. "I don't think I've ever seen her laugh like that."

"Me neither...and we used to be roommates," she whispered back.

"What's goin' on...she leave Gambit?"

"No...I mean, I don't think so...I don't know what she's doing. I don't think she does either."

The couple turned back to the booth, but Gambit was gone.

~

I've tried so hard to tell myself that you're gone.
But though you're still with me,
I've been alone all along...
³

~

"Ya sure ya wanna do this?"

"For the last time, yes. Now hold still."

Rogue brushed his face with her fingertips, then caught his arm when he stumbled. John put a hand to his head as he shook it off. "I'll handle the guards, you find the goods."

"Ah know, ah know...we've only been over it a hundred times."

They separated then, John confidently striding down the hall, wanting his victims to see him coming, waiting for the flicker of fear in their eyes before he'd unleash a sea of flames upon them...while Rogue took to the shadows, preferring to avoid a confrontation if possible. When she had safely made it to the storeroom, she used the flame-thrower attached to her left forearm to create a decent sized flame, and controlled it with her newly acquired powers. She had been practicing using small doses of Pyro's powers for the past two days, and had taken a hearty dose before they left the warehouse...he had recovered soon enough, though she knew from experience that she'd be able to control flames long after he regained consciousness. The brief contact when they had arrived at their destination was just a precaution.

She carefully walked through the shelves of merchandise, until the room opened up and the shelves disappeared, replaced by stacks of crates. The layout was similar to the Acolyte's former base, and Rogue relaxed a notch in the seemingly familiar environment. She raised her left arm above her head, as if she were holding a torch, she wandered around, looking for the desired item.

As she leaned over to scrutinize the writing on one of the boxes, something caught her attention. She cut off the fuel to her flame-thrower and lifted her face to the ceiling as she sniffed the air. Gambit. She made him long before he could approach her, and he knew it. Her back still to him, she continued her search by the narrow beams of light that fell into the storeroom via a row of windows high on opposing walls.

"Let him come," she thought to herself. "Ah'm not afraid of him."

As his scent became stronger, she felt her heart quicken...though it was not from fear.

"Chere..."

She turned and grabbed at him with a fiery claw, but he had expected the reaction and used his bo-staff to leap over her onto a crate. Once again, she extinguished the flame, and slowly turned towards him. "Chere, I....oh no..."

To Rogue, he was little more than a silhouette surrounded by the soft glow streaming in from the street. He became an angel then, the thief with the eyes of a demon cleansed by the gentle caress of light.

But the same light that made a saint out of a sinner, exposed Rogue's infidelity. That she was helping Pyro steal was one thing...but to do it like this was another. She wasn't wearing her X-Men uniform, nor was she in street clothes. Rather, she had fashioned a new uniform of sorts, befitting her role as Pyro's partner in crime. She wore a black vinyl top similar to Boom Boom's new uniform, a pleated red and black short skirt, and her black and white Converse sneakers. She wore a black and red striped arm band that went from the back of her left hand up to her elbow, over which a flame-thrower was strapped. That flame-thrower was connected to a small tank on her back. Her right arm was entirely bare...and her hair in playful pigtails. If the situation had been different, Gambit would've thought she looked extraordinarily cute. Of course, what he didn't realize is that she had purposely put together this semi-uniform because she didn't want what she was about to do tarnish the X-Men's reputation, because it didn't feel right breaking the law in the uniform she wore when she was fighting for justice. Not because she had decided to leave the team.

"What? Don't like the new look?"

"What've you done...?"

"John didn't ask me t'come...ah volunteered. Ah won't be freeloadin' at his place - ah'll earn mah keep."

"By stealin'?"

"You're one to talk."

Gambit jumped down from the top of the crate, landing a few feet in front of her. "Stay back," she warned, holding her left arm towards him. "Ah don't wanna hurt you."

He held up his hands. "I jus' wanna talk."

"There's nothin' to talk about..."

"Come home, Rogue. Everyone misses you. I miss you."

"Then maybe you shouldn't have locked me out."

He was genuinely confused by her response. "What?"

"You guys changed the security codes while ah was gone..." she began, remembering the incident with bitterness.

"That had nothin' t'do with you."

"Get off it, Cajun, you wanted me out. Ah got the message loud an' clear."

Gambit shook his head in disbelief. "Is that what this is all about? We decided to change the code more frequently, is all, for security's sake. We figured you'd just buzz us when you got back, an' we'd let you in."

She slowly lowered her arm as he spoke. If what he said was true - and she wasn't necessarily ready to concede it was - then all this was for naught. She thought he betrayed her...she'd been aware of his visit to the warehouse the day before she was locked out. When he had come to check up on her, she'd picked up his scent, though she hadn't given any indication of it. "You mean, you didn't tell...?"

"That you were with Pyro? Wouldn't do that. An' even if I did, do you really think you'd be kicked out without so much as a warning? Without us tryin' to win you back?"

"Ah don't know..."

"Come on, d'ya think we'd give up on you so easy?" He took a few steps towards her. "Do you think I'd give up on you so easily?"

"Ah don't know what to think anymore, Remy."

With so much skin exposed, Gambit had to refrain from the urge to hold her. Instead, he took her covered arm and led her to a small-ish crate where they could both sit down. "I know you have doubts...I know the past couple weeks have been hard...but you really haven't given us much of a chance."

Rogue nodded in agreement, and he continued. "You an' me, we both have a tendency of pushin' away people right when we need 'em most...an' I know from experience that doin' that only makes things worse. So why don't you give us a try?"

She was about to respond when Pyro appeared in front of them. "Ain't this sweet, my partna an' her man, makin' up..."

Rogue rose and walked up to him. "John, ah..."

"No explanation necessary," he assured her with a grin. "I understand how it is. You've got a home ta get back ta." Inside, his fury boiled over...he was finally part of a team again, and Gambit was ready to pull the rug out from under him...in the middle of a job, no less. As Rogue turned away, he slipped off a glove and touched the small of her back, staying conscious by sheer will. "Just help me wrap this up, an' you an' Gambit can go ridin' off inta the sunset."

Pyro's fury now her own, Rogue returned to Gambit with one thing on her mind...to make him pay for what he'd done. Remy didn't see it coming. In a flash, claws popped out of her right hand, and she sliced into his left arm. He looked down at his shredded sleeve, where a ruby stain was already beginning to spread, before catching Rogue's eye. "Chere?"

"Goodbye, Remy."

She turned from him, and he grabbed her semi-covered arm and pulled her back. "Don't do this."

"If you don't let go, ah'll slice you again...an' this time ah'll aim for a major organ," she breathed softly.

He released his grip, and watched as she and Pyro located the box in question and made off with it. His arm cried for medical attention, but he didn't much care. She'd played him for a sap. In all his years, he'd always been the heartbreaker...now that his heart had been broken, he didn't know what to do with himself...

~

These wounds won't seem to heal.
This pain is just too real.
There's just too much that time cannot erase...
¹¹

~

"Goin' somewhere?"

Logan was leaning on the door frame, arms crossed in font of his chest, watching Gambit pack.

"Jus' for a little while."

"Where to?"

"D'ya need to ask?"

He walked into the room as Gambit zipped up the bag and glanced around his room for anything he might have missed. "She'll be back."

"I know." Glancing down at the fresh bandages on his arm, he sighed. "But I can't stand to see her like this..." He trailed off, and in a barely audible voice, added, "It's too much to for me to bear."

"I'll let ya know when she gets back."

Collecting himself, he headed for the door. "You do that, mon ami...though I don' expect to be hearin' from you for some time..."

Across town, Rogue and Pyro had only just returned to the warehouse. After leaving the merchandise they'd lifted at the agreed upon drop-off point, and picking up their money, they'd celebrated their success at a local pizzeria. As she began to change, Rogue wondered if she'd been too hard on Gambit. For the life of her she didn't know what had possessed her to slash his arm like that.

Distracted by her thoughts, she didn't notice the piece of paper flutter to the ground when she removed her skirt. It wasn't until she was in her pajamas that she saw it on the floor. As she bent over to pick it up, she realized what it was, and froze. It couldn't be...it wasn't...but when she reached down and examined it, she discovered it was exactly what she thought it was - the Queen of Hearts card Gambit had given her in the bayou...the one she'd ripped up in a fit of rage, then carefully pieced back together and taped. He must've slipped it to her when he grabbed her arm.

Only then did the full implications of her recent acts hit her, and she sunk to the floor in despair. "What have I done?" she asked herself quietly.

 

1, 2, 3, 11 - Excerpts from My Immortal, by Evanescence

 

Part 10