Home | Forum | Mailing List | Repository | Links | Gallery
Chapter 1

Saturday Morning in Salem Center - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by Karen Bruce
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 1

Rogue Darkholme-LeBeau woke up with nausea and a splitting headache to the sound of excited whooping, emanating from somewhere down the hall. That somewhere inevitably was Luc's room, where a noise rivalling Siryn and Banshee Unplugged! tended to be the norm. She groaned, stretching a lazy arm out to pick up the alarm from the bedside table. Seven o'clock on a Saturday morning and her 'beloved' son - she found herself entertaining unmaternal thoughts of sending him to a convent - was already in full voice. She wondered how Remy, who thought that the sun rose at eleven, could stand it. Extending another hand to rouse her husband, she met sheet and empty space. Had he left on another mission for the New Son last night without telling her? He knew that she disapproved of his association with the shadowy figure who claimed to be mutantkind's benefactor, considered it stupid to trust someone about whom they knew nothing. If he had been that sneaky, she thought sweetly, viciously, it might do him good to sleep where he could slip out with greater ease. In other words, on the outside steps.

"Maman! Momma!" Luc tore into their - her, she amended equally savagely and smugly - bedroom with a policeman's hat set askew on his head. He was wielding a plastic baton, while a silver raygun at his side completed the ensemble. "I caught de t'ief."

Her child's accent was a bizarre amalgamation of Southern drawl and Cajun lilt, slipping between the two as easily as he did between English and French. Strangely enough, he tended to speak her husband's dialect to her, rather than her own natural one, as if he knew how much she enjoyed the beauty of it.

"Oh?" Rogue resigned herself to remaining awake and clambered out of bed, pulling on a gown, "Ah'll have ta make sure he doesn't do it again. Who had th' nerve ta break inta our house?"

His smile broadened, "Papa! We were playin' Cops an' Robbers. Tried t'kidnap M'sieu Lapin, but I handcuffed him to de chair."

She chuckled at the thought of her suave husband attached to a tiny, red stool by a pair of jimcrack, plastic handcuffs. Her son's stuffed rabbit, given to him by Uncle Lapin, was hardly the sort of prize that he normally pursued. It almost made up for being awoken unreasonably early. Almost, she repeated as another wave of nausea washed over her, taking her sense of humour with it. Luc seemed to notice her sudden change of mood - she wondered if Remy's empathic power had been passed to his son, although it was far too early for it to manifest itself?

"Ya be all right, maman?"

"Yeah," she managed a weak smile, "Let's go see yo' Master Criminal."

Forcing her muscles to obey, she dragged herself the short distance to Luc's room. Painted in the primary shades of Superman with a frieze of the hero on the wall, a matching duvet on the bed and curtains over the windows, it was obvious where Luc's loyalty lay. He even had a chunk of luminous-green rock that he swore was Kryptonite. Rogue would have been more credulous had her husband's clothes not been splattered with paint of an identical colour. Speaking of whom . . . . She smirked as she saw Remy's abashed look as she entered the room. Dressed in jeans and a ratty sweatshirt, he was still

impossibly handsome, charming and . . . insufferable when it came to her pregnancy.

"Petite, what are ya doin' up?" the cheap handcuffs snapped open and he stood, brushing off chalk from his thighs. Luc made a face as he saw how successful his snare had been.

"Daddy, that's cheatin'," he whined in a voice that was pure Mississippian. Remy grinned at his son, scooping him up easily. The child laughed and Rogue leaned against the door, supporting her wobbly legs and admiring the picture. Apart from the white streak in Luc's auburn hair, he could have passed for a younger Gambit. Red-on-black eyes were set in a face that would

break a thousand hearts in its time.

"I'm a t'ief. I'm expected t'cheat. Should know dat by now, Inspector LeBeau, but I bet ya don't know what t'ieves do t'cops when dey escape an' catch dem."


"Dey . . . TICKLE DEM!"

Father dropped son onto the bed, before carrying out on his threat. A squirming, giggling Luc attempted to get away only to be ambushed by the pillow which led to another bout of tickle-torture. When Remy finally stopped, he blew a cracker, whistle which seemed to lance through Rogue's skull like a white-hot dagger. Another unpleasant and decidedly Grinch-like thought crossed her mind.

"Ah'll have t'arrest you fo' that, suh," he said, escaping down the stairs into the kitchen, "Right aftah Sooooooooooooooperman."

The noise faded as the child clattered down the steps, Gambit wiped a hand across his forehead, "Dieu, Luc certainly is . . . energetic. Ya, on de other hand, look like ya be about t'faint. At de risk o' soundin' repetitive, why are ya up?"

Collapsing into the field of Supermen that was her son's bed, "Your game didn't leave me too much of an option, darlin'. Ah'll be fine, though - it's just mornin' sickness."

"Ya sure?" he sounded dubious as he came to sit next to her. She groaned, knowing that it signalled the beginning of his personal medical examination, then wished she hadn't because another twinge of worry touched his face. On occasion, she wished that Tante Mattie hadn't taught him how the basics of herbcraft, because it had led to him believing that he was eminently qualified to diagnose everything from chicken pox to colic.

"Ah'm sure Ah'm seven months pregnant," she patted her distended belly for good measure, then regretted it as the urge to vomit surged up within her again. He frowned, resting his hand over her own on her abdomen.

The baby, which promised to make the hyperactive Luc look sedate, turned what felt to be a series of somersaults, punctuating each twist with a kick. Grimacing, she tried to shift into a more comfortable position and found that it was impossible.

"Oui, but de morning sickness went after de t'ird when ya were carryin' Luc," he paused and she sensed he was going to mention Tante Mattie, "I phoned Tante 'cause I was worried 'bout ya an' she said dat it rarely lasted beyond den."

"Ah'm a mutant," she met his concern with a wry half-smile, "Mah life is a string o' unusual occurances. Hell, Ah'd be *worried* if'n everythin' was normal. "

"True," he nodded, chuckling, "But ya should still get all de rest ya can."

"Ah'd tend ta agree," she yawned, "Yo' son differs with both o' us, though."

Her husband raised an eyebrow, "Mebbe it's time I suggested a sleep-over wit ' Tante 'Ro. Ainet an' him can tire each other out. He'll be t'rilled, although I t'ink Stormy'll want m'head. F'r now, why don' ya get back t'bed? I'll take Luc out on de town f'r de mornin'. We c'n visit such dens o' iniquity as Toys'R'Us an' McDonalds."

Rogue gave him a weary, but grateful, grin, "Have Ah told you recently how much Ah love you?"

Remy kissed her lightly on the lips, then returned her smile with another lopsided one of his own. She saw him glance around the cluttered room - she couldn't break him of the habit of buying Luc everything he wanted and she was convinced the child was going to be spoilt rotten - then back at her. She knew she looked terrible with her mussed hair, dark-shadowed eyes and tacky, gingham nightdress. Fit as she was and taut as her abs were, despite three month hiatuses from active duty in both cases, she had only started showing very late during her two terms. Consequently, she had refused to spend a fortune on maternity wear. At times like this though, she thought, it would be nice to look like something out of a new mother's magazine. She had always envied those serene women who seemed to swan through their pregnancies as if it were no more inconvenient than a ticket to Hawaii. Of course, they had the support of their perfect, sterilised families. Their husbands were always ruggedly handsome, vague figures on the periphery, while their children were blessedly quiet and considerate. Luc would have brought her toast by now, while Remy would be off to his high-profile career. Grinning, she ran a hand through her hair, trying to smooth the unruly strands back into place.

"You don't need ta say it - Ah look a wreck."

"No, ya look beautiful," he replied automatically, then seriously, "It's jus ' . . . I never imagined we'd have dis."

Something in his tone prompted her to ask, nervously: "You regret it?"

Shaking his head, "Jus' how long it took us t'get here. When I t'ink o' all de time we wasted arguin' about petty t'ings, bein' scared o' trustin each other, missin' what was really important . . . ."

He trailed off, hand coming to rest on her stomach again. She twined her fingers with his, rubbing one over the cool, gold ring that he wore day and night. It would have been incongruous on the Remy LeBeau she had known before their marriage, but on this one it fitted perfectly.

"That's in th' past, hon," she said softly, "The present is us - you, me and Luc."

He grinned, "An' Baby Bella?"

Slapping him playfully, because it was an old joke between them, "Ah thought we agreed on Irene."

"Ah well," he sighed theatrically, "Guess we'll have t'wait f'r de next baby."

"NEXT BABY?" Rogue's voice was dangerously low as she drew herself up to a sitting position, then wished she hadn't. Remy was notoriously fond of the idea of a huge clan - a bad combination of a Catholic upbringing and a family that needed one to act as a private army. Still smiling saccharinely, she allowed some of her mental shields to slip and the morning sickness, headache, backpain and exhaustion to seep out into the aether.

He gulped. "I should take Luc shoppin' now, cherie, shouldn' I? Superman should be finished."

Rogue allowed herself another private smirk before retreating back to their blissfully quiet room.

Luc had not been as excited as he had anticipated, Remy thought with something akin to disappointment. Trips to Toys'R'Us were usually celebrated with slightly less fervour than certain religious cults greeted the coming of the Messiah. His tiny son was strapped in the back of the Ferrari, looking preoccupied as his Superman action-figure (with 'real laser eyes', that were actually red lights, and speech, that uniformly sounded like 'prfftzt') did another loop-de-loop through the air. "Hear dey have new stock, petit. A Jimmy Olsen wit' Snap'n'Flash Camera Action," he said encouragingly. In the four years of Luc's life, Remy had become something of an action figure connossieur, pursuing them with a singlemindedness previously devoted to diamonds or non-sequential bills. Luc was deathly quiet. Something was evidently wrong - Olsen was his favorite supporting character.

"Qu'est-que ne va pas, mon fils?" [What's wrong, son?]

Muffled sobs and an extremely moist sniff, "Momma's sick an' she's gonna die, isn't she?"

This was more serious than he had imagined. From where had Luc got the idea that Rogue was ill and how long had it been tormenting his normally happy son? He resolved to personally ensure that the brat responsible became beatific in their commitment to truth.

"Who tol' ya dat?"

"No-one. Just knew it," his broken voice was almost inaudible over the purr of the car's engines, "Daddy, *is* Momma sick?"

"Ya mere's healthier dan a horse," he slowed the car as they pulled into the parking lot of the local mall in Salem Center, "Although she don' feel it at de moment."

Luc made no move to open the car-door, looking at his father with a crease between his eyebrows in the rearview mirror. It was a strangely adult gesture that unnerved Remy. From the little he had said, the boy appeared to be empathic, but he was extremely young to be manifesting it. Mind you, he amended, he had experienced touches of the same, brief flashes of other people's emotion, when he had been Luc's age.

"What's wrong with her?"

"Not'ing," Remy turned to face the child, "It's jus' dat ya little sister, Irene, is growin' in her an' dat makes her feel . . . pukey an' sore on occasion."

Not to mention homicidal, he added wryly, remembering his wife's quick temper when she was pregnant. Perhaps stopping at two was a good idea, especially if they promised to be as hyperactive as Luc was. Besides, he had got the girl for which he had longed, although he loved their little boy in a way that frightened him at times.

"I'll bash Eye-rare-nuh," he pronounced the difficult name slowly, brandishing his action figure for good effect.

"No, ya won't," he released the lock on the back door, before climbing out of his own and helping Luc down from the seat. Allowing himself a moment of paternal pride in their sturdy son in his jeans and red jersey, knowing that he would make any sacrifice for him, Remy held him for longer than was necessary. Still clutching Optic Blast Superman, his son looked pensively at him as if pondering something profound.

"How'd Eye-rare-nuh get there?"

Laughing, "Dat's a story f'r when ya be a bit older."

In one of the rapid changes of topic that come naturally to parents discussing the facts of life with very young and naive children, he had an inspiration: "But ya do know what will make ya mere feel much better?"

Losing interest in the mystery of Irene, he asked: "What?"

"Follow me an' I'll show ya . . . ."

Present on the seat next to him, seating Heroic Knight Superman on a horse that was probably more expensive than a stable filled with them, Luc was completely content. His milkshake, although suspiciously devoid of anything resembling dairy, gave him a headache with each sip, just as he liked it. (Besides, even McDonalds was delicious after weeks of Jean Grey's recipes. A while ago, he had heard his mother threaten to hurl all his father's spices into orbit if he even thought of putting them in another dish for the next five months.) His action figure was about to defeat an undoubtedly evil spoon, while there was the promise of more goodies in the deliciously crackly Toys'R'Us packets. Most importantly, Luc thought, he was with his father, who he worshipped.

Remy was busy turning a dollar-bill and a straw into a cocked hat for Helpless Damsel Lois Lane. Although she came with an undeniably silken and streamered one of her own, they had both agreed that there wasn't much of a career in being rescued by a knight, so had changed her into a Warrior Princess. Momma would approve, he thought, as his father added an axe to her ensemble.

"Now dat's my sorta femme," Remy said when finished, "C'n fly inta battle wit' Sir Clark of Kent."

"Watch out, Mistuh Spoonister," Luc grasped her around her disproportionate waist and brought her to stand with his cherished Superman. He brandished the axe once for effect. His father grinned mischievously, tapping the handle so that a rolled-up piece of paper knocked Helpless Damsel\Warrior Princess Lois Lane onto her side.

"Ya weapons are useless 'gainst de might of de spoonapult!"

Throwing Lois over the back of the horse, Luc charged the spoon, which turned into a sabre and began fencing with the plastic sword. The competition was about to get interesting when a smiling waitress came across to their table. It was odd, he pondered, how all women seemed to get a mushy expression on their face when they looked at his father. As odd as their pathological desire to pinch his cheeks and tell him how cute he was. His mother, fortunately, seldom did either. Mothers were usually sensible.

"Would you and your adorable, little boy like anything more, sir?"

Bottle-blonde and red-lipped, she was doodling hearts on her sketch-pad with a pencil. His father was grinning, but there was a strange stiffness to it, as if it was as false as the plastic clown by the door. He did not like this woman any more than his mother would have, but felt obligated to pretend that he did. It was a strange thought to come unbidden into his head and it

unsettled him.


He shook his head, looking shyly at Heroic Knight Superman. Lois Lane, hat askew, sprawled over the saddle gave him an idea.

"Do you think Momma would like anythin', daddy?"

"Ya maman would murder me if I brought anyt'ing stronger dan Ms Grey's cookin' home," his father said with a quirked eyebrow, turning to the waitress with evident relief, "No offense meant, cherie. M'wife's seven months pregnant."

She slashed through a heart, her voice icy: "I'll bring you your bill, sir."

Remy wiped a hand across his forehead in a teasing gesture, smiling genuinely at Luc. The little boy was still perturbed by his earlier understanding, though, so returned it wanly. It was strange how he *knew* things that no one else could, as if he had plucked them from the thinker's mind. He knew that his mother and father hated to be apart for even the shortest while, felt it as physical pain. He knew that Ainet had a stash of marbles beneath the floor. He knew that Tante 'Ro had loved someone more than Oncle Bishop in the past and still did. He knew that Jean's two boys thought that he was weird, that she had told them not to play with him because he might be a bad influence. He knew that he was different because of his gift, feared that his parents would love him less because of it.

"You didn't like her, did you, daddy?"

"Non," he admitted honestly, then met his eyes seriously: "Luc, I've been meanin' t'talk t'ya about . . . de feelin's ya get."

Sour dread balled in his stomach. How had his father discovered his knowing? Did he love him less because of it, now that there was another perfect child to choose? He scooted a few inches closer to Remy, scared that, if he were too far away, he could be left or forgotten.

"No matter what Jean's two marmots say, dey be quite natural," his voice was brisk and businesslike, "I started gettin' dem myself at about ya age. Remember bein' scared o' dem, t'inking dat I was a freak or dat I'd done somet'ing wrong t'have ended up wit' dem. It wasn' easy dealin' wit' dem on m'own an' I don' want de same t'happen t'ya. If ya'll let me, I'd like t' teach ya about dem so dat ya can control dem rather dan de other way roun'."

Relief flooded Luc - they were, he was, normal! - and he hugged his beloved father: "Oui, papa."

Kissing a cheek, "Je t'aime, Luc, ya do know dat?"

"Je t'aime aussi, papa."

The earth was moving beneath her. The continents were shifting, breaking, reforming under her back. After years spent saving the world, it had decided to foil her plans by simply destroying itself. Deciding that she didn't care, because it would mean a truncated end of the nine months of torture that was pregnancy, she pulled a pillow over her head and attempted to ignore Armageddon.

"Momma! Momma!"

Opening a green eye and finding it met a world of burgundy, she tossed it off her face. Luc was bouncing on the King-sized bed with a decidedly smug expression on his face. Irene was following her older brother's example, Rogue groaned, judging by the movement in her stomach.

"Petit," Remy rounded the stairs carrying more Toys'R'Us packets than she thought possible, "I t'ought I tol' ya t'wait until ya maman woke."

"Ah know, but you said this'd make her feel better . . . an' then she wouldn 't need ta sleep."

Confronted and confounded by four year-old logic, Rogue propped herself up against a pillow and smiled at her son. Luc bounced to land next to her, then snuggled into the crook of her arm, resting his head against her abdomen. His grin became delighted as he felt the foetus kick against his cheek.

"Is dat Eye-rare-nuh?"

"Uh huh, that's Irene" she replied, gently correcting his pronunciation. Remy couldn't bear the thought of a child of his having a name that wasn't perfectly French so he added accents with the flair of a chef adding spice.

"Eye-reenie," Luc repeated, as she slipped her other arm around his side to encircle him.

"So what is this miracle cure?" she grinned at her husband who was looking sheepish.

"Oops," her son's look reflected his father's, as he fished a decidedly battered bouquet from his capacious pockets. It had once been Baby's Breath and miniature roses, but now was of the species best described as potpourri. Luc's lip trembled. His perfect present had been ruined. Her heart went out to her poor, little boy as it always did.

"Darlin'," Rogue hugged him more tightly, dropping a kiss on the stripe in his fine hair, "This is th' best gift Ah could have evah asked foh. If yo' daddy'd bring me a vase, Ah'll put them in straight away . . . . Aftah that, we can carry on readin' 'bout Hercules."

He grinned at the prospect of his favorite book, "Do ya feel better, maman?"

"Ah do."

The odd thing was that, although the morning sickness and pains had not abated, she realised that she was telling the truth.


GambitGuild is neither an official fansite of nor affiliated with Marvel Enterprises, Inc.
Nonetheless, we do acknowledge our debt to them for creating such a wonderful character and would not dream of making any profit from him other than the enrichment of our imaginations.
X-Men and associated characters and Marvel images are © Marvel Enterprises, Inc.
The GambitGuild site itself is © 2006 - 2007; other elements may have copyrights held by their respective owners.