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"Growing Up"

Growing Up

Chaper One: Despair
Chapter Two: Regret
Chapter Three: Guilt
Chapter Four: Fear
Chapter Five: Shame
Chapter Six: Love
Chapter Seven: Bliss

Growing Up

Chapter 5: Shame

Tell me whom you love,
and I'll tell you who you are.
- Creole Proverb

It was well into the evening hours by the time he'd made his decision and returned to the mansion. He climbed in a window on the second story hoping to avoid everyone. He wasn't in the mood yet to talk to anyone. He'd clean up, get some sleep, pack, and leave in the morning. He'd tell Stormy, and she could tell the others. Except Rogue. He had to look her in the eye and say bonjour for good so he could get on with his life. At least he could say he'd faced her and not run off to leave her wondering if it meant nothing like she'd done to him.

Face your fears, Remy. Just don' let 'er beg ya ta stay 'cause de X-Men need ya'. Dey don' an' you can' take de pain anymore.

Sneaking in unnoticed however wasn't as easy as it should have been. Coming out of the rain for the first time in two days, his tennis shoes squished with each step. He had to stop and take them and his socks off. And then he barely made it past the hallway to the ladies' side without Betsy noticing him from the other end. He just wanted to sleep.

He slid into his room quietly not even bothering to turn on the lights. With his excellent night vision, he really didn't need them anyway.

Instantly, he knew someone was in the room before he got completely inside. If he hadn't been so tired, he'd known as soon as he opened the door. He started turning toward them and quickly adjusted his senses to find out who it was.



Of course it was her. He'd know that shape, that soft empathic signature, and most certainly that exasperated motherly 'you've been a bad little boy' tone of voice anywhere. It made his heart twist wistful for happier times.

Besides it had to be her. It was his kind of luck. Don't wait until tomorrow to have a gut-wrenching heart-stomping confrontation that you can have today.

What she be doin here? ... What it matter? I can' be takin dis right now.

He hit the light switch and focused on her.

"Chere, ... please not ..."

She looked as if she was going to finish berating him, but her eyes widened and she seemed speechless for a minute. It suddenly dawned on him what a mess he must be.

"Mah gawd! ... Remy!"

She ran over to where he was and nearly pounced on him tugging forcefully at his trench coat.

"What happened?! Are yah alright?! What have yah been doin?! Was it trouble?! Were yah attacked?! Who was it?! Yah sure yah ain't hurt?!"

Caught off guard, he barely helped her with the coat, watching as she threw it on the floor and reached for his shirt.

"Non. S' nuthin .... I'm ok .... Jus got caught in de rain is s'all."

She grabbed his shirt but then suddenly recoiled at the realization that she was undressing him. In another place and time, he'd have never let her get away with that. But this was the here and now, leaving only an awkward silence between them. He flinched away from the rejection.

She hugged herself retreating from the chill.

"Yah... yah need tah change. Yah gonna catch a cold."

"Yeh." he mumbled grabbing the coat and retreating into the bathroom.

He caught his breath and looked at his weary heavily-bearded face in the mirror. His heart was racing. It was strange to have her act like she gave a damn for him even for a second. It seemed like it was ages ago that she had acted like she thought she cared.

It's just concern for a teammate Remy. Get a grip.

He leaned against the door for a minute and heard the door to his room quietly close. She'd left. After seeing what a mess he was, she probably guessed what she was wanting to tell him could wait. At least it gave him a chance to get himself together first before saying what he needed to.

He turned on the shower and let it heat up as he stripped out of the wet clothes. He had his favorite pair of old baggy sweats and a T-shirt hanging on the bathroom door. It was where he always put them after they were washed so he could find them with no hassle. They were a comforting sight right now.

He leaned back in the shower as the warm needles hit him, but his mind wouldn't let him relax.

What had she been doing here? ..... She finally had dat long talk wit Joseph, stupid. She come ta say goodbye.

He quickly finished and toweled off shaking his wet hair. Despite the moist warm air, he shivered. After running the electric razor over his face hastily, he climbed in to his sweats. He'd never felt this beat. He wanted to curl up in the bed and die. Still shoeless, he padded back into his room.

He stopped dead in his tracks.

She was back sitting in the chair she'd been in earlier and was nibbling on her thumbnail. A sure sign she had something unpleasant to say.

Non. Not now. I can' take dis now. I've hurt too much for one day.

She stood up awkwardly in front of him, the distance between them seeming like miles. She half-smiled.

"Well at least yah only look neah dead now. Yah shoulda stopped somewhere an' called tah say yah'd be late."

"I'll do dat next time."

Please leave.

She twisted a strand of her hair, and took a deep breath looking at her feet.

Non, course not.

He braced himself gathering his strength. Fine. Maybe this was for the best. He could tell Stormy and leave right away then. Staying only meant he'd have one more near sleepless night anyway. He didn't have much to pack, and no matter how tired, he wouldn't be able to stay here once the words 'I'm sorry, I love someone else' had past those lips.

"Ah came ... ah .. needed tah talk tah yah."

He shifted nervously.

"Don' I get a blindfold an' last request." He barely breathed.

She looked up with those devastating emerald eyes.

"What did yah say?"

"Nuthin .... It was nuthin ... So, what yah need tah be tellin me neh?"

He grinned trying to hide his discomfort, and nodded at the tight short dress.

"Yah came tah tell me yah tryin ta change yah image wit a new wardrobe?"

Since she'd stood up, she continually had one of her hands at the bottom of it tugging it down unconsciously.

She looked down and blushed.

"Ah thought ah'd like tah wear something ah usually don'. Try tah be less influenced by mah powers. Jus keep on this l'il matchin jacket an' gloves. But thah darn thing is as uncomfortable as all get out. Ah don' know how Betsy wears this stuff. It keeps ridin up mah butt."

She sort of shyly smiled, but then frowned at a brief light in his eyes and a faint smirk. It was the first smirk she'd seen on him in a long time. She gave him a hot chastising look.

"An' don' yah dare say it's cause ah got a big butt!"

His eyes twinkled briefly as he put up his hands mia culpa.

"Do I be lookin like I be havin a death wish, chere?"

For the thousandth time he reminded himself that on judgement day right before they threw him in the pit to remember to ask God to please explain to him why all women thought their backsides, no matter how perfect, were too big.

Suddenly an image of her in Joseph's embrace, his hands sliding down her back filled his mind. His smiled faded, and he sighed turning to walk and sit down heavily on his bed. He looked up at her. An unreadable expression now on his face.

"You got somethin ta say ta me chere?"

She walked over and sat down beside him placing a gloved hand on his bicep.

"Yes, ... ah ..."

She looked into his eyes and tears welled up in hers.

"Ah'm so sorry, Remy."

"Ah'm so sorry, Remy."

Gambit braced himself.

Don' cry.

"Can yah evah forgive me?"

"O'course chere. T'ain't your fault. I understand."

Course you do Remy. You understand you ain't good enough.

Her tears really started flowing now. She was shaking, and he could feel her relief although he was blocking her emotions with all he had.

"Ah really am sorry." She sobbed. "Ah don' know what ah was thinkin."

She suddenly threw her arms around his waist and cried into his chest.

"Hol me, Remy. Please jus hold me. Ah need tah know ah'm forgiven an (sniffle) that yah still might be able tah love me again."


She looked up through red rimmed eyes.

"Oh Remy, please tell me that theah's still somethin theah. That we can start ovah, try again ... Ah know it's all mah fault. That ah was weak an childish, but if yah give me anothah chance ...."

This was a dream. That was it. He'd fallen asleep in the shower, and he was dreaming. He'd played this scene over and over in his head a thousand times, and it never turned out this way. This was too surreal.

"Chere... wait ... Ya ... I... Ya mean ya really want me back?"

She blinked and wiped at her eyes.

"Of course ah want yah. Ah love yah. Ah've always loved yah. What did yah think ah came here foah dressed like this?"

He stared. His mind numb, still unable to believe what he'd heard.

But I thought you bought it for ...

Downstairs in the kitchen, Joseph sat staring at his coffee cup. He didn't know how he felt. Having no emotional memories to fall back on was a very big pain sometimes.

"Contemplating the universe, Joseph?"

Logan drifted in and started making a sandwich. There was an uneasy tension between them, but Wolverine was distantly polite. Joseph suspected that was the best he could hope for.

"Considering that I have no reference point for this, that would be a good comparison."

Logan turned and stared at him munching on the sandwich rather noisily. Joseph took this as a willingness to at least listen. Despite everything and every reason they shouldn't be, the X-Men had been very accepting of him.

"I believe I have just been dumped as it were without having really been involved."

Logan registered surprised at first but then sort of smirked.

"I take it ya talkin bout Rogue?"

"Very astute. It seems I have just received the proverbial 'I just want us to be friends' speech."

Wolverine looked as if he wanted to break out laughing but only finished chewing his sandwich. Between bites, he commented.

"Women are like that. Just when you think you've got them figured out, they'll surprise you. You don' seem that broken up though."

"Well, since I am not in love with her there is hardly a reason to be too upset. She is a very good friend. Without her I would still be wandering lost, but truthfully, we have very little in common. Our interests rarely concern the same things minusing helping people and sometimes she can be rather wild and free-spirited. She should listen more."

"To you, you mean?"

"Well, yes. She could be a bit more disciplined. I enjoyed her company more when we first met."

"When she was spending all her time ignoring everybody else but you and telling you how great you are?"

Joseph stared at the rather smug look on Logan's face.

"Touche. I guess I now understand what Magneto saw in the Acolytes. Perhaps what he saw in Rogue in that other universe as well. I must admit, though I know I am not in love with her and wish her all the best, I did think that she might, well, be somewhat attracted to me. Finding out her feelings are only a truly strong loving friendship is rather ego deflating, isn't it?"

"Welcome to the real world, Joseph."

Before either could think of anything else to say, Jean interrupted their thoughts as she walked into the kitchen. It was obvious she was a lady on a mission.

"Well thank goodness. Logan, I've been looking all over for you since last night. Where have you been? We need to have a meeting."

"I needed time ta think. I was around. Why didn't ya just mentally call me?"

"I didn't want to risk it being picked up by someone else. I've been talking with all the other X-Men about what has been going on the last few months, and we all need to get together. You're the only one besides Bobby and Rogue I haven't spoken to. Bobby's with his father of course, and Rogue... Rogue's going to be difficult."

"You sound upset Jeannie."

"I am upset Logan. We're suppose to be a family around here, but we haven't been that for awhile now, and I didn't notice. I'll gather everyone else. Meet me in the war room in thirty minutes."

"Sure thing."


"I'm sorry Joseph. I didn't mean to leave you out of the conversation. Most of this really happened before you came here, but you are, of course, most welcome to sit in."

"Thank you Jean."

He wanted to believe this was happening. That she loved him as much as he loved her, but the pain had been too real.

"Rogue, I'm sorry. I... I don' know what ta say. It's jus dat ... well... ya've been avoidin me, ... spendin all ya time wit Joseph." He stiffened. "You an' he can touch. It was him ya loved in that other reality." The "not me" left unspoken.

Tears stinging her now dark misty eyes, she felt ashamed and reached up to touch his face.

"Yah thought ah came tah say goodbye." She choked. "An yah were still willin tah forgive me."

"Dere's nuthin to forgive. After what ya saw in my mind. His power an idealism. He can give ya everythin I can't chere."

Rogue looked at him with that warm expression he loved. It made his heart melt.

"Yoah wrong, shugah. It's thah othah way around. Yah can give me everythin he can't."

"Nobody cept Storm has evah had so much faith in me as you Remy. Not thah Professah, who did his best. But given his othah responsibilities, how could he be expected tah spend time on me when ah wouldn't spend it on mahself? Ah wasn' thah threat that Magneto, Sabertooth, or even Jean was once. Ah was jus ah mixed-up kid. Ah wasn't that driven."

"An' Magnus. He nevah hardly noticed me til that time in thah Savage Land. Ah was an X-Man he'd worked with. He barely knew Ms Marvel, that's all. An he killed her. Even when ah wouldn't. But he saved mah life and' ah was grateful. Ah didn' have mah powers. Ah was scared an' vulnerable, an' he was nice tah me. An' so powerful. Ah felt safe, protected, infatuated. An' ah'm sure it was nice foah him tah have someone tah care about him. He was ah very lonely man. But that's all it was. Ah've realized that now. That minute ah didn't completely agree wit his side o' that argument, he left. Didn't have anymore time foah me. It was that same on Asteroid M. As long as ah agreed wit him, even if he had tampered wit mah mind,
then ah could stay."

"Nor even Mystique. Ah do believe she loves me in her own way. A little version of herself she could love an' treat bettah than she was treated. But it's ah selfish love Remy. In thah end, her needs were more important than mine. Theah was no give an' take. No meetin half way. She wanted me tah always be theah for her, no matter what witout being willing tah do that same for me. Realizin that an' leavin her while ah was still young was probably thah best thing that evah happened tah me. If'n ah stayed wit her, I'd have ended up bein thah self-absorbed child ah was in that othah reality."

" ... But, ... ya seemed happy dere. Ya had everythin ya evah wanted, didn't ya?"

"Did ah? Ah probably thought ah did. Ah once thought ah was happy wit Mystique too. But lookin ovah from this side ah see it different. Ah really need tah thank Bishop proper foah opening mah eyes tah what ah've been doin. Ignorin everyone else an' bein selfish. Ah only really cared about mahself theah, Remy. Do yah think that this Jean... or that one, wouldn't have been torn jus a bit ovah havin tah choose between her love an' anyone else? What if it'd been a kid? Would ah have hesitated jus a second an' been sorry tah have tah possibly leave him tah die? That only thing that mattered was Magneto. He was thah dream, not carin bout people. Ah don' even know if ah knew what that really was."

"Jean left Logan cause she had tah do what she thought was right. Ah thought what Magneto told me. Ah nevah was a real partner tah him. Jus told him he was wonnerful and followed along."

"If'n we were really fightin ah war foah peace between humans an' mutants then where were thah humans? Bet theah were lots o' humans wantin tah fight. Why were we jus this li'l group o' mutants running round tryin tah kill Apocalypse? Occasionally helpin humans escape but not fight? Foah all his good intentions, Magneto still thought he was bettah than othath people. That he could save them instead o' showin them we could work tahgether."

"We still considered ourselves Homo Superior. Ah hate that name. Who says were superior? Ah wouldn't wish mah power on anyone. An if yah goin by Darwin's theory, mah power isn't exactly helpin me perpetuate mah genes. We thought we were bettah an' we weren't. So ya see, we were doomed tah failure from thah start."

"If we had killed Apocalypse before Bishop showed up tah save us, what woulda happened? One o' his generals woulda replaced him? Magneto woulda some how convinced Apocalypse's whole government tah follow him? Ah suppose he coulda been a more "benevolent" leader tellin everyone what tah do? That's still ah mutant dictatorship jus a nicer one. We weren't workin wit thah humans, you an' Logan were. Theah were no human/mutant coalitions tah lead if we did somehow 'win'."

She sighed, and he hugged her. He loved her passsion, her idealism.

"So sure, Magneto an' ah were great tahgether. We nevah disagreed. Ah'd ignore anythin, anyone foah him. And what did he do foah me in return? Let me lead cause ah did what he tol me? Let me have his kid? Ah couldn' been more than nineteen when ah did. Don' seem tah me Magneto done so much foah me as he did foah himself. Seems tah me he had time tah figure out how his power let me touch him but nevah had thah time tah even find a way foah me tah touch mah own child. Mah own child, Remy! Well ain't that swell. An' what if'n ah hadn't wanted tah be wit him? Was it him or nuthin?"

"An sadly, jus like here, jus like Mystique, ah'm sure he did care foah me in his own way. But everythin always comes down tah him an' his cause. Thah end justifies thah means. It don' matter who gets trampled along thah way. Even people that care bout him. Even you. Yah'd think thah man coulda treated yah nicer since yah stood by him despite what happened between yah. Bein thah leader ain't an excuse foah bein rude."

"Didn't matter ... He probably be knowin me better dan ya t'ink."

"Yes it did matter. Ah said Magneto was lonely, an' he was. But he was cause he let himself be. Yah can't be ah friend if yah t'ink y'all are bettah than othath people. He let his ego, hatred, an' fear keep him from seeing other people as human beings instead o' someone wit him or against him. Tah have friends yah have tah be one. An' what makes me really mad is, ovah theah, ah wasn't any bettah."

"Chere." She pushed back a bit.

"No. Ah wasn't. That's what Storm an' ah was discussin that othah evening. We both were ashamed o' how self absorbed we were theah. She said she was still stuck in that frame o' mind o' bein ah goddess an' bettah than othah people. She nevah grew. An' that thah X-Men were as bad as their enemies. Not cause we killed, but cause we didn't care that we did. Didn't care who we hurt or who got in our way. She once tol Bishop that 'if we are going to suceed, it cannot be by employing the same techniques we deplore. We must be better than our enemies, or we have lost before we've begun.' That's what happen tah us ovah theah. What happened tah me. All cause ah thought Magneto was ah god instead o' ah man an' mah husband. An that's all we had between us, Remy. It ain't nuthin like what ah got wit you. Ah thank thah stars, ah realize that now. That mah life hasn't been so protected that ah don' know thah important things in life rarely come easy. That it ain't about feelin dependant, but feelin loved. That it's sharin, growin, and gettin through thah tough things tahgether. Ah owe thah X-Men foah that, an' ah owe you, Remy. Most ah all, you."

"Den ya forgive me?"

Tears welled up in her eyes again.

"Forgive yah? Oh Remy, yah can be so pig-headed. Haven't yah been listenin? Theah's nuthin tah forgive. Ah nevah meant tah hurt you this way. Ah nevah realized. Ah thought yah understood why ah left. It wasn't you shugah. It was nevah you."

She stroked his face.

"Ah didn't leave because ah what yah did. Yah think that matters tah me? We've all made mistakes. Me most of all. Look at all ah did before joinin thah X-Men. Ah'd be thah biggest kinda hypocrite tah stand in judgement ovah you."


"But nuthin. Ah love yah. Get it through yah head swamp rat. Yah've enriched mah life in ways y'all will nevah know. Yah believed in me an' helped me believe in mahself. "

"Yah've stood by me when no sane person would have. Ah know yah'd do anythin ta help me. Yah've risk yah very life jus tah love me. What girl wouldn't be swept away by that? Yah've nevah asked that ah do anythin but be mahself an' try. Ah love ya foah that. Foah being theah, no questions asked. An foah bein so stupid yah let yahself get hurt when yah shoulda given up ah long time ago."

His eyes widened but he smirked.

"Fool for love at ya service."

She sniffled, giggled, and wiped her eyes.

"That yah sure are. An' that's why ah ran, Remy. Do yah know what thah most important thing ah remember from our kiss?"

"We only be gettin half way through it fore I passed out?"

"Silly .... No shugah. Ah remember thah love. It was overwhelmin. Ah didn't know til then how beautiful yah think ah am. Seein mahself through yoah eyes was thah most humblin experience o' mah life. That's when ah realized ah didn't deserve tah have someone love me as much as you do."

She placed her gloved fingers on his lips so he couldn't respond.

"Ah didn't deserve yah cause all ah could bring yah was pain in return. That's why ah left. Aftah that first week, ah couldn't take it anymore. Ah screamed, an' cried, an' cursed that first week. Ah withdrew intah ya love an' refused tah talk tah anyone. But then ah jus couldn't sit theah an' watch yah die. Ah was so sure yah were dead, in that coma foahever, an ah'd killed yah. Ah had tah get away. Ah knew it was weak, selfish but ah was in so much pain. Ah thought ah'd killed thah one true love o' mah life. If Bobby hadn't chased aftah me, ah don' know what ah'd have done."

"Then tah be wit yah, ah became yah. Tried tah experience yah life so ah'd have some piece ah yah tah remember, but that's when ah tapped intah yoah guilt an pain. Yah love foah me had protected me before. Yah see, ah do absorb all o' ah person's psyche an' powers but ah'm thah dominant personality so ah don' actually become that person. Ah have theah memories an' feel what they felt when ah absorbed them, but ah normally don't tap intah all o'their othtah memories unless ah want to, an' then everythin goes back when it wears off. That only t'ing that stays is what ah've shared wit that othah person. Any memory ah pulled up an' theah residual feelins when ah absorbed them. That's thah reason thah only t'ings ah remember from Belle were bout you an her."

Rogue blushed. Remy smiled softly.

"An wit you it is thah love an' brief memories an' feelins from yah past. Yoah mind jus ain't very good at sharin, shugah."

Now it was his turn to feel embarrassed, but she smiled this time.

"It's alright. Ah know now yah'll share things when yah can. Jus like ah will. But at that moment in time, ah thought ah'd lost you an' ah wanted those memories, any memories, so bad. Ah tried tah track them back tah find out what happened. Ah jus wanted some part ah ya tah keep, good or bad. Tah understand yah."

"But when I came out o' de coma, why'd you keep goin? I'd done anythin ta make you happy. Why'd you leave if it wasn't me? Why'd you keep ...?"

She looked away and gave a small cry. He clutched her shoulders in support.

"Runnin? ... Cause ah was afraid. An' all ah've evah done befoah when ah was scared was run. Didn't know any othah way. Ah was ah fool. Ah know that now. When ah knew yah had awakened, when yah powers left me, ah was terrified. Ah jus knew yah hated me then."

She let out a sob again, and he brushed at her tears with part of the sheet.

"I could never hate you."

"Ah know that now, but ah was so scared. Ah jus knew yah had to. Foah what ah'd done tah yah an' foah not bein theah foah yah when yah woke up. Ah was afraid tah come back an face yah, so ah kept goin. Ah knew yah hated me an' ah wanted ah reason, any reason, tah hate yah in return. Then ah'd be safe. Ah know ah'm ah coward, Remy, but ah couldn't let mahself be hurt. Ah've been lonely so long. Ah didn't want tah be thah one rejected. Ah had tah reject you first."


"But yah didn't reject me? Ah realized that in Seattle. When yah first showed up, ah yelled an' fought tah protect mahself. Ah was so sure it was ovah. But when yah told me yah still loved me, still wanted me, showed me yah'd risk it all ovah again, ah thought ah'd die o' shame. All ah'd thought of was mahself, mah feelings. That's when ah realized ah was thah worst thing that could have evah happened tah yah. Ah thought yah were bettah off wit out me. Ah was tryin tah set yah free. An ah wanted tah leave who ah was behind cause ah hated mahself so much. So ah ran again. Ah felt so useless."

"P'tite. Ya can't be runnin away forever. Ya gotta move toward somethin. Believe me, I've learned dat de hard way."

"Uh huh. An ah owe Joseph foah givin me somethin tah start wit. A reason tah come back here. Tah you an' mah home."

She looked at him with bright eyes.

"Remy, he's everythin Magnus could be if he'd put his hatred an fear behind him. He's got ah new start an' ah want tah help him. Ah do care about him. Ah've always admired who he could be. Magneto could have done so much if he had moved beyond that pain and self-righteousness."

"But in someways ah've been selfish an' protectin him an' me too much. Ah've been fallin all ovah Joseph tah make mahself feel bettah. Stop what happened before. But jus like me, jus like you, theah are some things he's got tah do for himself. He needs tah know who he was tah remind him what he could be. You an' ah can't hide from what we did or we'll have forgotten why we don' ever want tah be like that again."

"An' ah had been hiding behind him ignoring, everythin else, an' pretend tah tryin. Bishop made me realize ah couldn't expect someone else tah fix mah life. Ah have tah do that mahself. Ah have tah decide mah own life, mah friends, mah dreams an' who ah love."

"Now ah realize ah jus hurt us both even more by leavin. Ah wish ah coulda seen sooner what yah were trying tah tell me. Tah try. Tahday is ah new day."

She giggled an' sniffled .

"Funny, it's seems like 'Gone Wit Thah Wind' don't it? Ah suddenly realized ah didn't want tah hear thah words 'Frankly mah dear, ah don' give ah damn.' comin from you."

He chuckled.

"Dat ain't never gonna be happenin, Scarlett."

Her eyes glistened, and she hugged him. He'd never felt anything better in his life.

In one moment, his world had come full circle. Back to the warm giddy silliness they'd once had. A love that was reflected by a small stuffed dog sitting happily in the middle of his bed where she'd placed it.

"Ah love yah Remy. Ah always have."

"I love you too, Rogue. An' I always will."


Continued in Chapter Six.


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