This is a special one-shot dedicated to my faithful reviewers and readers. Merry Christmas and God's blessings for the New Year. :) I don't really know how to do a Russian accent, so I will save y'all the pain of trying to read it.
The mansion is beautifully decorated for the season. Pine garlands are draped throughout the rooms, scenting them with the heady, sweet fragrance. There is a huge tree in the corner of the main room, decorated to the hilt and filled with gaily wrapped packages beneath its boughs. Candles burn in holders placed throughout, adding a delicate vanilla scent to accent the pine (I just love the combo.). After the nor'easter that blasted through the region a couple of days ago, the grounds are covered in a pristine blanket of white.
If one looks out the window, what they would see is several of the residents playing in the snow. Bobby, Sam and Roberto are building a huge fort and stocking it with plenty of snowball 'ammunition'. Jubilee, Amara and Rahne are ice skating on the pond and Kurt is sledding down a steep hill.
A distance away, a pretty, perky young woman with brown hair is walking with a tall, handsome Russian.
"Like, Petey, I just don't get it. Like, she so totally gets depressed this time of year. Yeah, like I may be Jewish, but I still like Christmastime. It's so totally fun!"
"I too have sensed her unhappiness the past couple of days, Kitty. I have no idea why she is. It concerns me."
"Yeah, like me too. She has been like that ever since she came here. Every year at this time, she like, gets into a total funk and nothing has been able to, like bring her out of it. I like want to help, but I've tried everything I know."
"Maybe we need to try something different, Katya." Piotr squeezes her hand and they continue walking and planning different things to bring the young woman out of her 'funk'.
They are blissfully unaware that one young man has already taken that task upon himself. Remy LeBeau had joined the X-Men a few months ago after that whole fiasco with Magneto and the near-world-domination of Apocalypse. After he saw the news reports, showing how the gorgeous young woman of his every thought as of late had single-handedly saved the world, he knew that he had been wrong in going back with his 'father'. Well, the reports and said 'father' trying to force Remy's hand, and the rest of him, into an arranged marriage to a certifiably crazy woman. Those were the main factors that made his decision that much easier.
That train trip (It just didn't seem like an abduction to him.) to N'awlins allowed him a glimpse of the true Rogue. She didn't have to help him with that rescue. All he needed was the info on the location. True, he had hoped, but if need had necessitated, he could've handled it just fine by himself. That act had proved that she had the capacity to care, and if she had that...well then nothing was impossible now, was it?
That first day, when Professor introduced him to the other residents in that 'meeting', he had honed in on her feelings. She feigned nonchalance, but one only had to look into those perfect emeralds to see the slight spark of interest in their depths. Not only was there interest, but...no, she had actually missed him! Oh, this was definitely looking more favorable.
He remembered how she had approached him and demanded, yes, demanded to know why he hadn't come when that whole thing with Apocalypse had happened. He explained about how he was busy trying to get out of that blasted arrangement and besides, he hadn't been invited. Her temper had really ignited, then. He still chuckles when he thinks about how Rogue interrupted a make-out session between Scott and Jean to request rather heatedly why if the brotherhood AND Piotr had been invited to assist, then why hadn't he. He knew that Scott didn't like him then, now it's more or less a grudging acceptance. But when she lit into Scott, and Jean gave him that look, complete with hands on hips, it was all he could do to hold in the shout of laughter he felt building up inside.
Rogue has been more friendly to him since then. She often seeks him out, just to talk. He has noticed to his great delight that she doesn't date. He has seen guys stop in their tracks just to watch her walk by, but when she is asked out, she politely turns them down.
He turns his attention back to the problem at hand. Her increasing melancholy concerns him deeply. A few of the students have informed him that she gets this way every year. They said it so blithely, like it was something that would just pass, so there was no reason to really be concerned. That's not to say that none of them care because they do. The chaton, for one. She seems genuinely preoccupied with her friend's mood. It's just those "select few" that have set his teeth on edge.
Walking downstairs, he notices the object of his desire seated in one of the window seats, watching the scene outside. Sam and Roberto have ganged up on Bobby and are pelting him with snowballs. Normally, that scenario would have her laughing, but today she heaves a deep sigh and buries her head in her knees. This causes him to frown. That reaction is not at all like her.
He silently strides up to her, propping one arm up on the wall behind her and leaning on it. "Now why would such a belle femme be so unhappy on such a nice day? Y' don' enjoy watchin' de iceboy fall on 'is derriere no mo'?"
A small smile makes it's way onto Rogue's face. "Dat's better. Y' look tres belle w'en y'r smilin'. Y' wan' t' tell Remy why y'r so depressed, Roguey?"
"Ya know I hate it when ya call me that, Swamp Rat." she mutters. "An' no, I don' wanna talk about it. Jus' leave me alone, okay?"
"Non, I ain' gon' t' leave y' alone. Y' look like y' need a friend an' 'M de one t' fit de bill, non?"
"I ain' talkin' about it, Remy. I don' even wanna talk about anythin' right now."
"Fine. Den I'll sit 'ere wit' y' an' keep y' comp'ny."
"Ya can be a real pain in the you-know-what, ya know that?"
"I've been told dat befo'." That smirk appears. "Still not goin' anyw'ere."
"Then I will." She stands up and leaves him there, retreating to the solitude of her room.
Not to be thwarted so easily, Remy exits the back door outside of the kitchen area. Logan watches him with gruff curiosity as he finds his 'footholds' and scales the wall.
"If my guess is right, then Stripes'll set 'im straight. Maybe try ta throw 'im off her balcony." He smiles to himself at that picture. "Gotta say though, that it'd be a shame ta lose a good fighter." He turns his attention back to his coffee.
At her balcony door, he watches her as she flops onto her bed, face-down. Her head shoots up at the sound of him softly knocking on the doors. "Go 'way!" she yells.
"Non!" is the response.
"Ya gonna stay out there all night, then."
"Dat's fine. Got now'ere t' go, cherie." he leans on the railing, crossing his arms.
"AAARRRGGHHH! Ya've gotta be tha mos' annoyin' person in this place!" she stalks over, flinging the door open to admit him.
"Non, dat would be Tabby."
She stops to consider this. "Ya're right, but ya're definitely up there." she points accusingly at him.
"Dat's not nice, Roguey."
"I'm jus' callin' it as I see it, Swampy."
"Tell me w'at it is dat 'as y' so down, or y' gon' t' 'ave t' explain t' Logan jus' why 'm in y'r room so late at night." he demands.
"Ya wouldn' dare!"
"Oh, I would. If dat's w'at it takes t' show y' I care 'bout y'." he has the most serious expression she has ever seen to date.
"I jus' ain' much for Christmas anymore." she sadly states, bowing her head.
He sits on the bed beside her, lifting her chin with a gloved finger. The look in her eyes breaks his heart.
"Why is dat, cherie?" he questions tenderly.
"Lots a reasons." she turns her face away.
"Like...?" he prods.
"Like...I don' wanna go inta this! I jus' don' like Christmas anymore. Now, please leave me alone!" She shoves him out her door and locks it behind him while wiping tears from her eyes. She didn't always dislike Christmas. There were actually a few good ones that she remembers. It's just that the older she became, the more they changed. The last one she had before she came here to the mansion was unforgettable, but not in a good way. She shakes her head to clear the memory before it overtakes her.
Grabbing a worn duffel bag from under her bed, she hastily packs and empties her secret stash, filling her purse with the smaller bills and tucking the larger ones into her bra. Thanks to Carol Danver's powers, she can now fly, has superhuman strength and enhanced healing abilities. Flying, she directs herself toward the garage where her refurbished purple Trans-Am, complete with T-tops, resides. With a look back at the mansion, she climbs into her car and drives of into the wintry night.
Remy hears the car take off and runs to the garage to take a quick inventory. He closes his eyes in dismay then rushes back to pack a bag and follow who he now realizes is the love of his life.
Two days later she drives into her old hometown in Caldecott County, Mississippi. She finds a nice hotel that doesn't cost her an arm and a leg and settles in. She sits on the bed and finally allows herself to remember that last Christmas where it all fell apart.
It was the annual winter dance at the school. She wasn't asked to go, but that wasn't unusual. She had always been a loner since she became a teenager. It was basically enforced by Irene, her legal guardian at the time and Mystique, her foster mother. Amazingly, when she'd asked to go to just 'hang out', Irene had permitted it. The two had her dress goth, just so people would be afraid of getting close to her. Sure, she was a bit lonely, but it wasn't something she couldn't deal with. Life with Mystique and Irene was often lonely.
She'd gone to the dance and spent most of the night out on the deck, just admiring the night sky. Well, what she could see of it what with all the lights. Two football players came out to the deck and started whispering. Next thing she knew, the blonde one, Cody Robbins was his name, approached her and stutteringly asked her to dance. At first, she had turned him down, but the crestfallen look on his face changed her mind. He was kind of cute, anyway.
They went inside and danced for awhile. She was beginning to loosen up and have a good time, when the worst possible thing happened. Cody's friend encouraged him to get closer to her. To emphasize the point, he shoved Cody into her, knocking her to the floor. Being a gentleman, he tried to help her up, but somehow touched bare skin. Horror-stricken, she watched as she drained his life away. She got up and ran, but was intercepted by his friend, but she shoved him out of the way like he weighed nothing and kept running.
She ran to what she thought was her home. Her mind wasn't her own. She was scared, to say the least. All of the sudden, she is attacked by this man in an orange suit. She runs and is caught fighting the X-Men. Or who she thought was the X-Men. Mystique came and took her away. It was the most miserable Christmas ever. She'd spent it listening to Mystique rant at her for going to the dance and for knocking out Cody. Like she purposely planned to do that. Mystique told her that there would be no presents that year, because she didn't deserve them and they had to use the money to move, yet again. She decided then and there that this holiday just wasn't for her. It seemed like bad things always happened right around this time.
Rogue comes back to the present to find herself sobbing. Going with the feeling, she starts anew.
Remy has checked into the room next to hers. He listens to her cry and longs to go to her and offer comfort. Torn by indecision, he finally decides to leave her alone, for the time being. Maybe it will help her with whatever made her run in the first place.
He makes a call to the Institute to let Professor know that they are both okay and that he's unsure of when they will be back. He refuses to go back without her.
The next morning, Rogue groans and sits up from the position she was in all night. Stretching her sore muscles, she decides a hot shower is in order. She dresses and hears her stomach complain rather loudly. She decides a big breakfast is in order, since she didn't eat dinner last night. She fell asleep, crying her eyes out.
The diner is just as she remembered it to be. Semi-worn décor, but if the food was still as good as it was, then she was in for a treat. Irene had brought her here a few times, when they'd had extra money for a special treat. The waitress is a young woman about her age, but her accent pegs her from somewhere up north. Rogue is relieved since there is no chance she remembers her. She orders the pancakes, toast and hash browns with a side of bacon. The waitress brings over the customary bowl of grits. Rogue doctors them her way, puts the creamy spoonful in her mouth and almost moans with delight. "There's nothin' like this up north." she mutters quietly to herself. Her back is facing the entrance, so she doesn't notice the customer walking in.
Remy takes a seat at the counter and peruses the menu, a small smile playing on his face. He knew she would be here. Her appetite has been really good in the time that he has known her. She wasn't one of those who ate like a bird and he appreciates that. He orders something quick, since he doesn't want her knowing he's here, yet. He wants to observe her and see if he can discover her reason(s) for being here. If he has to, he'll stop at the McDonald's next to the Interstate to fill up, even though he would rather eat here. The food is way better than anything they would serve.
Rogue takes out her phone and notices the number of missed calls. She shrugs, then goes into her calendar and notes that it is only the twenty-first. "Oh great." she grumbles "Four more days til Christmas gets here." She leaves a generous tip and exits.
Getting into her car, she drives to the old house that she and Irene had shared. Tears come to her eyes as the memories assail her. When it was just her and Irene, things were okay. It was when Mystique came to visit that things took a downturn. Come to think of it, she was never much of a mother. All she could seem to talk about was if Rogues powers had manifested yet, who was she associating with...stupid stuff like that. Never "How are you doing? Do you have a boyfriend? Would you like to play?" She drives off and goes to her favorite spot in the woods by the river and sits under her favorite tree where she used to go to escape when Mystique came over. She's musing on how her life has changed since she joined the X-Men. Professor always went all out for the holidays, but she just wasn't able to derive any enjoyment from it. Her thoughts are cut abruptly when she is surrounded by a group of men, one in particular looking uncannily familiar.
Remy detects the car, minus it's driver and looks around, frowning. He finally catches sight of her and his heart freezes in his chest. She is surrounded by a bunch of toughs, all looking her over menacingly. He takes cover and reviews his options.
"Cody! You're alive!" She is stunned.
"Yeah. After ya stole two days of my life!" he grinds out. "Ya never told me ya were a filthy mutant." he spits out angrily.
"I don' recall ya askin'." she retorts hotly.
"So ya admit it, then? Let's git 'er, boys! Teach 'er what happens ta mutants in these parts."
Before they can grab her, she jumps up and sprints away.
"C'mon boys! We cain' let 'er git away." They give chase.
She is running for her life, panting hard until she runs into a solid object. It's Remy. He wraps his arms around her, relieved that they didn't catch her. He hears the sounds of their pursuit and pulls her with him to take cover. Then he steps out, blocking their path. "Y' boys lookin' f'r somet'in'?" he asks idly, removing a deck of cards and shuffling them.
"Did ya see a girl run through here? Auburn hair with white stripes?"
"Oui, I did. She's wit' me, so y'd better leave 'er alone or y' answer t' me." He removes his sunglasses, revealing his red-on-black eyes.
After their collective gasp, they try to charge him. He removes his bo-staff and extends it. The fight is on. Rogue comes out from behind him and joins in the fray. He hits two of them in the gut with his staff. Rogue knocks one out with a punch and with a spin-kick combo, catches another one. Pretty soon, only Cody is left standing. A look of pure hatred fills his eyes.
"I'm sorry fer what I did ta ya, Cody. I had no idea that would happen. Nobody told me." Rogue states plainly.
"Yeah right. Like I'm gonna believe ya. Today is tha day that I get my revenge on ya, Rogue. I lost two days that I'm never gonna get back! When I'm through with ya, yer gonna be beggin' fer mercy." He moves toward her, but a solid fist shoots out, catching him in the gut.
"No one lays a hand on mon Rogue." Remy coldly responds. Cody staggers toward him, but is no match for the agile Cajun. As he charges, Remy smoothly steps aside and Cody keeps going, eventually tripping and rolling down a steep hill.
"C'mon, Rogue. Let's get outta 'ere." He wraps an arm around her waist and guides her to her car.
Later in the day, they decide to meet for dinner at the diner after showering and resting. She parks her car and nervously exits. She knows that the time has come for explanations. After all the trouble he went through to follow her here, then fight for her, he has proven himself to be a true friend. She goes inside to find him already seated at a booth. She never really noticed how good-looking he was before. Scratch that, the man was smokin' hot! "Stop that! Ya know ya will never be able ta touch him, so what's the point in lettin' it go any further than it already has?" she mentally scolds herself.
He looks up, right at that precise moment, causing butterflies to stir within her. He smiles, then stands until she is seated. After some deliberation, they order their meals and the moment of truth has arrived.
"So Rogue. W'ats dis 'bout y' not likin' Christmas anymore?" His worry is evident in the ruby orbs.
"Ta me, it jus' seemed like when it came, somethin' bad happened. I thought that maybe if I stopped likin' it, tha bad experiences would stop, too. Sounds kinda childish, but that's how it is."
"An' w'ere does dis Cody idiotte, fit int' de picture?"
"That was my las' one here. We were at a dance around this time. He asked me ta dance, I said 'yes', he fell on me an' tried ta' help me up, but ended up touchin' me. That's when my power manifested." she finishes softly, pain emanating from her in waves. "I don' think Mystique ever really forgave me for that. Then again, she was never 'momma of tha year' material." she chokes out a laugh.
"'M so sorry y' 'ad t' go t'rough all o' dat, cherie. Don' y' see dat by lettin' y'self get down 'bout it, y' never gonna heal? Y' keep bringin' up de pas' at dis time ev'ry year, so y'r nev'r lettin' y'self actually 'ave a good time. Mystique ain' aroun'. Sure, she's in town, but she don' live at de mansion. Y'r lettin' 'er win, Rogue. Ev'ry Christmas y' let 'er win. Y' gon' t' let 'er again dis year?"
"Ya know somethin', ya're right. I am lettin' her win every time I let myself get depressed over this holiday. I'm not gonna do it again. From now on, I'm gonna fight it!"
"Dat's de spirit! Y' ready t' go 'ome now?"
For the first time in days, he sees a genuine smile light her delicate face. "Yeah. I wanna try my hand at celebratin' this year."
After Remy placed a call to the mansion, everyone is anxious to see which Rogue will greet them. Will it be the depressed Rogue of the past few days, or the normal one who is actually fun to be around? Kitty is hopping from foot to foot with Pete trying to calm her, to no avail. "Like, I missed her so much when she was gone. I hope she's better now. Hey! Do you think there could be something happening between her and Remy?" she asks excitedly. "That would be like, so totally cool!" she squeals. Pete says nothing. Given her penchant for gossiping, he won't reveal his friend's true feelings. He will let Remy do that himself.
Her car enters through the gate and stops in front of the crowd. She is surprised when she steps out and Kurt 'ports over to her and grabs her in a warm embrace.
"Is this all fer me?" she looks around wide-eyed.
"Ja, mein zizter. Ve haf missed you. Don't you ever pull anyzing like zat again!" he scolds her, complete with the wagging finger.
She smiles at him. "I won'. Besides, I'd probably jus' get followed again." she teases as Remy steps out of his car.
"Y' better believe I will. If y' do it again, I'll pick y' up an' carry y' all de way back!" he exclaims, which brings a slight blush to her cheeks at the thought.
The crowd laughs and one by one, they welcome her home. Logan and Beast volunteer to park the cars and the two southerners go inside, hand in hand.
On Christmas Day, Rogue is awake before anyone else. She tiptoes down the stairs and puts on a pot of coffee. Sipping the hot brew, she sits in an overstuffed chair, admiring the tree. Doing something she hasn't done since she was a small child in Baton Rouge, she creeps over to the tree and proceeds to sift through the packages. Finding several for her, her excitement mounts. She hopes they like the gifts she bought for them. She spent all of yesterday shopping in all the pandemonium, but it was worth it.
Remy comes down the stairs, but stops when he notices Rogue. He sits on the step and watches the childlike joy light up her face. "Got t' face it, Gambit. Y'r in love wit' 'er." He purposely makes a noise, catching her attention. She jumps, then gives him a guilty smile.
"Y' know y' can' open dem til ev'ryone's down 'ere." he teases as he comes to stand close to her.
She looks up with a small package still in her hands. "Why is my heart racing?" she wonders, as she comes to realize that she is still holding the package. Remy takes it from her hands and looks it over. "I can let y' open dis' one now, if y' wan' t'. It's from me." He looks at her and cocks his head with a small grin playing on his lips.
"Oh. So it is." she comes to the realization after she looks at it again. Remy takes her hand and leads her to the loveseat. She opens the box to find a white gold and emerald pendant and gasps. "Oh! It's so beautiful. But why?"
"Two reasons, really. One. 'Cuz dis Christmas will be one of de mos' memorable t' y'. It's a start o' new an' good t'ings t' come. Deux. Dis one is more personal. Ev'r since N'awlins, y've been runnin' t'rough my mind constantly. Y'r one o' de reasons I joined de X-Men. T' be closer t' y'. I've enjoyed bein' friends wit' y' an' I like de way dat y' come t' me an' tell me w'at's on y'r mind, but I'm wantin' more. Rogue, I wan' y' t' be my girlfriend. I've never felt dis way about any ot'er femme befo'. Only y'."
Rogue is speechless for a moment, looking at the pendant, then him. "But I can' touch ya, Remy. How are we gonna have a relationship, other than friendship, without touchin'?"
"Don' y' get it? Y've already touched me. Y've touched my 'eart, cherie. We can work on de physical part toget'er, but I jus' wan' t' be wit' y'."
After giving the matter some considerable thought she answers "Okay. We'll give it a try, but on one condition."
"Ya call me Marie, but only when we're alone."
"A belle name f'r a belle femme." He leans in and kisses her until he starts to feel the pull from her power. "Bes' kiss ev'r, an' dat's no lie." he smiles at her, then kisses her gloved hand.
That night, Rogue is in her room recounting the day's events. She'd received many lovely gifts and Kitty had admired her new necklace. Of course, she had squealed loudly when Rogue told her about its meaning. Pete smiled knowingly. Kurt was concerned for his sister, but figured that a guy who would follow her to the ends of the earth it would seem, couldn't be all that bad. Especially if he could make her smile. He'd decided to reserve judgment and would wait to see what unfolds.
Rogue smiles and fingers her pendant again. "Definitely tha bes' Christmas ever." she pronounces and prepares for bed.