Disclaimer: I don't own X-men in any way, shape, or form. I'm merely playing with the characters.

AN: Hello, all! Welcome to my first foray into X-men: Evolution! This particular idea has been kicking around on my hard drive for months and I finally figured I'd go ahead and put it up for people to read.

I originally intended this snippet to be the springboard for a longer story, but now I can't remember exactly where I was going with it. So this will probably stay a one-shot until I get the details worked out.

(And for those of you waiting for the next installment of "For Love or Duty", no, all is not lost. It's coming.)

EDIT: Special thanks to Nuitari Aquarius for correcting a few errors in French phrasing.

"Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy." ~ Proverbs 14:


The Letter

Rogue stared at the letter in her hands, her eyes tracing the elegant black scrawl of her name upon the creamy envelope. The familiar handwriting was just another stab of pain in the waves of aching that had been with her since she regained consciousness and remembered the events of the day before.

Remy was dead.

He was dead and, as though he'd had a premonition of his own demise, he'd written her a letter. Xavier's explanation circled round and round inside her head.

"If he survived, I was to return this, Rogue. If he did not…"

And he hadn't.

She closed her eyes and tipped her head back, fighting tears. She would not cry. Not now.

Reaching in her desk drawer for an antique letter opener—one of Irene's—Rogue carefully slit the envelope open. Then, very slowly, she withdrew the contents. As she unfolded the single piece of creamy paper, something fell out and fluttered to the floor.

A playing card.

She almost smiled. How typical of him. Bet Ah know which one it is too… She bent down to scoop it up and turned the card over. Her green eyes widened.

Ace of Spades?

Rogue studied it a moment, wondering what this particular choice was supposed to mean, and then laid it gently aside. Closing her eyes and taking a deep, bracing breath of air, she sat down on the end of her bed and began to read.

Rogue,

If you're reading this, it means things didn't go too well.

Understatement of the century, Rogue thought acerbically.

'Cause if I'm not there with you, I must be dead. Only way Remy'd leave you, cherie.

Rogue made a face. Ah guess that business with Bella doesn't count. She read the next line and almost smiled.

That business with Bella doesn't count—knew you'd come after me. Just couldn't help yourself. Don't mind though. I'm always happy to see you, cherie. Anyway, I digress.

I was thinking about things at dinner and during that Danger Room meeting we had and the idea for this suddenly popped into my head.

Rogue scowled. Ah'll bet.

If everything goes well, you'll never even find out I wrote this. I'll 'liberate' it from the Prof's office and blow it up. That'll be fun, hein? Or maybe I'll tell you about it and even let you read it after we play a game or two of strip poker.

In your dreams, Swamp Rat! Rogue's hurt temporarily disappeared, lost in a sudden blaze of indignation.

If you're reading this though, it's probably a good thing I'm outta the way. Bet your eyes are shooting green sparks right about now. Hard to charm you when you're in a temper, cherie, but it's always an unforgettable experience.

Rogue scowled.

Cherie—Rogue—whatever happens, it ain't your fault.

She froze, rereading the line again, unable to help herself. Of course it was her fault. It was all her fault.

It ain't your fault, so don't go blaming yourself and getting all moody and upset. Remy ain't gonna be there to cheer you up and save the rest of the Institute from the Wrath of Rogue. They can't handle you, cherie.

Left unspoken was the obvious assumption he could. Rogue tried to swallow, but her throat was too tight. How had he known what she would be thinking?

Whatever happens, don't give up on yourself. I mean that, cherie. I know you're rolling those big green eyes of yours, but I'm dead— pardonne-moi —serious. There's nothing you could have done different to change what happens.

I know you, Rogue. I think you forget that sometimes. I know you'll be beating yourself up for this. Don't. I've watched you for a long time and I know you always try to make the right decision. You're always thinking about other people. Me, I'm selfish. I tend to focus on me, but I've learned a lot from you, cherie.

And that's why, if everything falls apart tomorrow, I'll be going with no regrets. Well, maybe one…

Rogue blushed. That Cajun… she thought menacingly. Her fingers tightened on the piece of paper, crinkling it. Horrified, she quickly smoothed the tiny wrinkles out before resuming reading Remy's words. She could almost hear him chuckle.

Can't blame a homme for trying, cherie. Besides, I know you'll figure out how to control your powers one of these days. Don't give up on that either, cherie. You can do it. Remy has faith in you.

She blinked, twin tears slipping down her cheeks, smudging her eye makeup. He'd said those words before. She could hear his rich, smoky, velvet voice murmuring them in her ear. If she closed her eyes, she could almost picture him, leaning up against the wall giving her a look of equal parts charm, amusement, and interest. She could almost smell him.

Rogue let out a sound halfway between a sob and a laugh and swiped her sleeve over her eyes. "An' here Ah said Ah'd never let you make me cry again," she muttered. Biting her lip, she focused on the letter.

I know you won't forget me—Remy be unforgettable, hein?—so I won't say it.

Arrogant Swamp Rat, she thought, almost fondly.

Won't say goodbye either. Too final for my taste.

Rogue drew in a sharp breath. How is death not final? The thought hurt.

I'm glad I met you, Rogue. Je t'aime.

Au revoir,

Remy

P.S. Smile more, cherie. Makes you très belle et magnifique.

P.P.S. When you get control, wear that dress.

Rogue dropped the letter as if burned. "As if, Cajun!" she growled. It was so like him to end on a note like that. An' Ah can't even beat him for it!

It was suddenly very difficult for Rogue to breathe. Her legs slowly buckled beneath her, seemingly unable to support her weight, and she sank to the floor. Drawing her knees up to her chest, she wrapped her arms around them. Then—only then—did she allow herself to cry.

Remy was gone.

No more of the flirtation that infuriated her so, no more of the easy banter during meal prep, no more teamwork during battles and Danger Room sessions. No more hope.

No one else had inspired her quite the way he had. Remy saw through her masks, took into account her poisonous skin, and refused to back down. He'd constantly invaded her personal space, challenging her at almost every level.

And now he was just gone.

He'd saved her life and gotten himself killed in the process.

Stupid Swamp Rat, she thought vehemently. Shouldn't have bothered. Ah'd have been fine.

That was her denial talking, of course. Deep down she knew she wouldn't have made it, even with being able to tap into Logan's psyche's healing powers.

The setting sun was sending its last feeble rays of golden-red light across the sky when Rogue's tears stopped. Exhausted, she tipped her head back against the bed and stared up at the ceiling. This pain…was both familiar and completely new.

Familiar because she'd absorbed so many people who'd suffered heartbreak.

New because this was her own heart breaking.

Rogue swallowed and reached for the letter again. Then, slowly, unsteadily, she got to her feet and picked up the Ace of Spades.

When Kitty ventured into the room to broach the subject of dinner sometime later, she found Rogue fast asleep with both card and letter clasped tightly in her hands.


:ducks assorted projectiles: Yes, Remy is dead. At least for now. Pray I remember where I was going. :grins: At any rate, I'd love to know what y'all thought.

Cheers!