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

Happiness (Is in the Eye of the Beholder) - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by K-Nice
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 1

Rebecca grinned as her daughter swung on the lower branches of a large cypress tree that jutted out from the swamps into the luscious lawn of the family mansion. Brianne was still a complete and utter tomboy at ten, and her mother wouldn't dream of discouraging her -- but white communion dresses were not designed for tree-climbing, and it was only a matter of time before her ten-year-old cousin Robbie tried to look up her skirt.


Robbie was sitting on the grass, probably ruining his white suit pants and watching the tree like it held the keys to paradise.

Rebecca sighed and fanned herself with one on the straw fans kept on the verandah for that very purpose. She swept one fine yet strong wrist along her cheek to wipe away some offending sweat without dirtying her hands. Content that her little girl would do herself no harm (though giving the dress up for dead), she turned toward the impromptu game of catch that had sprung up around the azaleas. Her oldest, a tall thin

thirteen-year-old named Etienne, and his much older cousin, Michel, where tossing a football around, over the heads of their younger siblings. Brian, Brianne's fraternal twin, was frantically jumping into the air, trying to intercept the pigskin and scuffing his white dress shoes with every attempt. Unfortunately, he made little progress, since he kept colliding with his cousins and second cousins who competed with him for the right to play with the older boys.

Someone said something to her, snapping her attention back to the conversation. "Rogue, honey, how long will y'all be stayin' in New Orleans?" That syrupy voice could only belong to her brother-in-law's wife (not her sister-in-law, no way could she be related to such a . . .), Penelope, who took pleasure in blaming Rebecca for everything and anything that happened in the family. She purposefully used Rebecca's old code name just to rub in the fact that she had retired it. Penny was known to proclaim that a woman who couldn't hack it as a mercenary and a mutant terrorist certainly had no place as a thief. But then, that was why Rebecca had retired from that life and put the name Rogue in a lock box along with all the things it meant. Rebecca was a wife and a mother and a thief. Nothing more. Nothing less. No excess baggage. Of course, she had neither the inclination nor the ability to explain that to Penny.

"Ah'm not sure, sugah, Ah'll have to ask mah husband." Rebecca smiled sweetly with her lips and smirked with her eyes. She rose gracefully from her wicker armchair and faced her companions. There were about six of them, and they were sitting around a beautiful glass table, under a welcome umbrella, sipping lemonade and gossiping. "Ah'll be rahght back, ladies. Don't y'all whispa 'bout me while Ah'm gone." She favored the others with a genuine smile.

BellaDonna, who was trying not to snicker in her lemonade, had been a friend for a long time. After they had gotten over the whole "you stole my man, my memories and ruined my hometown" thing, they found they could respect one another. And Belle had so many wonderful stories and understood what it was like to be a woman and a professional. Belle also wished she had a excuse for fleeing the table. The other women

where neither thieves nor assassins in their on right, but they were LeBeaus and their husbands were likely Guildmembers. They were pleasant company, all except Henri's current wife, who insisted she was matriarch of the family, even if Jean-Luc had remarried. She had been regaling them with her arguments for her superiority over their father-in-law's young wife when Rebecca's mind drifted away.

Now, she stepped away from the flagstone verandah and out into the lawn. She quickly swept her eyes over her children to make sure they were behaving. Several male eyes swept over her and reminded her that even at 39 she still looked as she did the day she absorbed Ms. Marvel, forever changing her aging process. Sure, there were the first hints of laugh lines and crows feet that were still a decade or so in the future, but at least she had her figure. She fought the urge to strut around the corner. It was difficult to walk in grass in high-heels, especially with the ground soft from the same spring rains that made it so unbearably muggy, so Rebecca let herself float just above the lawn. She stopped to wave and speak to people who she barely knew but who had shown her kindness from the first day she became a member of their family. She heard more comments about the length of their stay but she again resisted giving a definitive answer. Atlanta was nice, but she could detect a little homesickness in Remy, no matter how hard he tried to conceal it. She could understand his feelings as she approached the main entrance to the house.

The grand white columns support a massive porch roof. The mansion would reek of Old South if it wasn't for the mix of people mingling at its entryway. There were only about eight people there, but the variety they presented was astounding. First with the Brotherhood, then with the X-Men, Rebecca had been exposed to many more cultures and peoples than were available to her in Caldecott County, MS, but the fact that all these people were part of the same biological family still boggled her mind. She gazed at the many shades, shapes and sizes and smiled because this was the status quo that accepted her white streak as normal.

They, too, greeted her, some disdainfully, others friendly, and a few trying to curry favor. She handled them all as she had learned from her mother, Mystique, from her friend, Charles Xavier, and from her Papa, Jean-Luc LeBeau: a smile and a lie for all those who cared to believe.

Once inside, Rebecca was able to ignore the rich furnishings and classic architecture only because her mind was pondering Penny's question. How long would they stay? They had come back to New Orleans for Brian and Brianne's confirmation at the Church of Thieves, which had become a huge family affair since Robbie and some others were also confirmed at the same time. With Memorial Day only a few weeks away, with the huge family picnic and the parade and visiting the tombs and such, it seemed they should just stay down instead of leaving and coming back.

Rebecca sighed and mounted the back stairs near the kitchen. Usually, the LeBeau men, which included Remy, Henri, Jean-Luc and few hangers-on like Lapin, would thrill to the chance to barbecue and impress themselves, and their expanded audience, with their bravado at pepper eating. However, shortly after the ceremony Lapin and Henri had departed. Rebecca had ridden home . . . to the family home wondering what the rush had been. Now she made her way to Jean-Luc's (or Papa LeBeau as she had come to call him) office, where they would likely be gathered.

"Oh, Hi Des!" Rebecca stopped short to avoid colliding with Desdemona LeBeau, her new mother-in-law. Des looked at her, obviously not paying attention. Rebecca reared back. The woman, though young in appearance, perhaps in her late twenties, early thirties, had old, dangerous eyes. They seemed to change as Rebecca stared, becoming carefree and youthful again. They stood in the hall, observing each other in silence.

Finally, Des decided to speak. "Rebecca, you look lovely, chere. I like de way light green plays wit' ya eyes. Ya rahly should ware it more often." And seemed that Des knew that Rebecca had worn enough green as Rogue to last her a lifetime.

Des seemed to know a lot of things in that one look.

She herself still wasn't sure why she had chosen the dress, except that it was her best Sunday-go-to-meeting that didn't cost more than the GNP of a few small countries. But, for some reason, Des reminded her of Raven, who had been her mother when she needed one. Des had that same dangerous glint and suddenly Rebecca realized that Des was not as young as she seemed. In fact, she would bet that Des was nearly as old as Jean-Luc, who was the oldest human she knew of at 174 years (although he didn't have any exact birth records, he remembered when Jackson Square had another name, and that was good enough for most people).

Rebecca looked at her appraisingly. "Thank you, sugah. Maybe we should make some time to talk latah, just you and me?" Rebecca narrowed her eyes. If Des was hiding things, and it was obvious that she was, Rebecca didn't want her family to be hurt when the skeletons jumped out of the closet. One touch was all she need but now was not the time. Des just nodded absently and continued down the hall.

With her mind still mulling over the strange exchange, Rebecca approached the oak doors of Papa's office. She could hear muffled, angry voices and suddenly the door swung open violently. Too startled to move, instead she stood her ground. The door shattered as it struck her. Her invulnerability protected her from the splintered wood but not so the person behind the door.

"Oh mah god, are you alright?" Rebecca reached blindly for the man who had been thrown down, his hand still around the doorknob.

"Yeah, I'm fine, Rogue. You okay?" The voice was cool and light and Northern -- Long Island to be precise -- and the hands that gripped hers as she pulled them from the floor were unnaturally cold.

"Bobby!" Rebecca shrieked excitedly and ignored his use of that other name. He was allowed to refer to her that way because it reminded him of their time as heroes and the torch he used to carry for her. She hugged her friend without a second thought as to why he was there. She had not seen him in the church, and while it had not come to her then, she should have realized he was here when she saw little Robert playing in the yard. She sighed again and lead him back into the room.

"Robert . . ." Jean-Luc sounded upset, very upset. "Your little outburst ruined de door, fils. You should learn to control dat tempah." Usually such words would be jovial coming from this man, who seemed to have the patience of Job, but something was definitely up.

"We just don' appreciate bein' treated like chillen." In a wing chair beside a picture window sat Rebecca's sister-in-law. She did not usually speak up for her husband, letting him fight his own battles, but apparently, things had gone too far for her to sit idly by. Rebecca scanned the room quickly. Henri leaned against the teak desk that dominated the room, while Jean-Luc sat behind it. They both looked grim but not necessarily angry. Remy was holding up a book shelf, his arms crossed and his head down, causing his bangs to come down over his angrily glittering eyes. Alex, dressed in the same cream jersey dress she had worn to church, stared out the window without expression. Bobby, who now stood next to the doorjamb, was quickly becoming furious again.

"What's goin' on?" Rebecca was tense. She didn't like fighting within the family and she knew it had to be something serious for them to all be so upset. The LeBeaus laughed together, cried together, and even killed and died together, but they never fought each other. It was something Rebecca had come to count on and appreciate. If she had been raised in a family like this -- one where children never heard their parents argue, where children were never harmed no matter how mischievous, no matter how drunk their fathers were or how vicious their mothers could be -- she was sure things would have been different for her. Deep inside her, she felt ill at the thought that such things might happen here, in this family. She waited for an answer.

Alex spoke up, "Papa wants us to move back to Nawlins. He refuses to acknowledge de fact dat we 'ave our own responsibilities dat are keepin' us in New York. He won' accept dat we grown folk wit' our own bidness to handle, not his personal lap-dogs." Her tone grew uglier and uglier as she spoke. It was jarring for a her to being acting this way. She and Bobby were the very definition of "happy-go-lucky." Yet Rebecca felt she could put a name on the younger woman's bitterness. Alex wasn't aware of it, but what she really meant was 'Remy and Rebecca get to live their own lives in Georgia, why should we get collared and chained in the backyard?"

Rebecca sympathized, but what could she do? Jean-Luc had made up his mind and the Drakes could either obey him or defy him, each choice carrying its own consequences.

The hurt look that came over Jean-Luc's face at his daughter's tone was painful to watch. "Pahaps we should take a little break from dis. Dere's a whole buncha folk here and we should be wit' our guests." He stood, carefully avoiding anyone's eyes. "We will finish dis . . . later."

Everyone slowly filed out and returned to the luncheon party. Rebecca was on her way out too, but Remy never moved, so she dropped back and stayed to see what was on his mind.

"Sugah?" She sat in a reading chair and watched as he sunk to his knees in the crouch she knew so well from their experiences together in the business. After Rogue learned to control her powers, she felt the need to bone up on her "professional skills." Even before they got married, Remy had worked with her to improve her abilities on the "dark side." He had been her closest friend and her partner even before he was her husband. During that time, she had learned to recognize this as Remy's planning mode: that distant, eerie look, his body tensed to move in any direction but his mind clear and focused.

Remy lifted his head. "Papa want's one of us at 'ome. Eider me or Alex. Wit'out de Elixir, he's startin' to age, slowly, but still . . . And he wan's to be sure Henri will have de support he needs when de time comes for 'im ta be Guild Master." He paused to run a hand over his face and through his shoulder-length brown hair, which had somehow come l0ose from its clip. Not one grey hair, and very few lines to his face made her glad he had taken the Elixir, though at the time she had raged. He is so handsome, part of Rebecca couldn't help but remark, while the rest of her focused on his words. "Chere, we been livin' in Atlanta fa years now and we settled dere. De kids have school and we have work but . . . I t'ink we should come back to Nawlins." He spoke quietly, softly. He was trying to avoid an outburst.

"WHAT!!!" Rogue was on her feet and pacing. "You know we can't do that, Remy." Stop, wring hands. "We cain't!" Start again. "You said it yaself, we're settled up there, that's our home now." Turn. "We cain't move now, it's the middle of the school year." Turn. Stop. "Don't you remember why we left in the first place?" Tight angry steps. "We couldn't even have our wedding here, that's how many people wanted to kill us. Ah've been an outcast all mah life, Ah won't bring mah chiljin up that way." Stop. Turn. Stop. "No. We are not moving to Nawlins. It's out of the question." Sharp head nod. "Besides, we're down here for all the holidays and for Guild business and the like." Start. "And another thing -- How much help could Henri need, Ah mean, he's as old as Logan for chrissakes! And there's only one Guild now, so there's no reason for the Assassins to suddenly want to break off, again, and fight a pointless, bloody war for a couple hundred years, again. So he really doesn't need you."

Remy stood after the second time she nearly kicked him with her vigorous pacing. He remained calm as she raged because he knew from long experience that was the only way to discuss things when one on them felt very strongly about an issue. "First off, chere, you may have noticed dat nobody tryin' to kill us anymore. Dat was 15 years ago! Some of dem people are dead now." He spoke a bit more forcefully than he intended, but it was true. She was about to interject but he paused her with a look. He ticked off the next point on his finger. "Deuxieme, we are not outcasts. I'm de friggin heir-apparent, dere ain't a body in dis city dat wouldn't lick my boots if dey t'ought in would give dem an in. And its de same for you." He realized he was now pacing and forced himself to sit still. "Troisieme, I'm de heir-apparent, it should be me who stays, not Alex. It's part of de territory but Papa knows how you feel so he gave us an out. And before you suggest dat we take it, t'ink about Alex and Bobby. Bobby's gotta be near his folks in case sumt'in happen to dem. And dey're de real outcasts since Bobby ain't Guild." Rebecca was about to protest when he held up his hands "Okay, yeah he Guild, and maybe he don' suck dat bad but e'rybody knows he got in so he could marry Alex and dey don' like it. Fourth, and I don' wanna sound repetitious but, I'm de heir-apparent--" They both grinned, the heat of the argument sliding away. Rebecca sat beside him on the floor. "--and if Belle were to challenge Henri, and she could, now dat de Guild's are one and de same, I would have t' take a huge part in figurin' out who would rule. T' do dat, I have to have de ear of de Guild and Council bot', which means--"

"You need to be here. Why didn't you tell me any of this before? Why keep all this from me?" Rebecca felt hints of the fear she had felt the first time she had fallen in love with this man.

"I didn't keep nuthin' from ya. We talked about dis when we first moved, you just didn't t'ink 'bout it aftah dat." He bristled a bit, the way he used to such a long time ago.

The accusation lay between them in the pained silence like a specter of hells survived and demons best left behind. Rebecca got up and walked to the window. She looked out at the people gathered below, few of whose faces she recognized. She hadn't realized how few of them she really knew personally. And they were supposed to be her family. They were her family. They accepted her and loved her. And she? She avoided them like she avoided her old names. She knew she needed action, thrived on it, even now. When it was just her and Remy, working together, albeit as thieves, and making their marriage work in that lovely suburban house in Atlanta, it was wonderful. But, throw the Guild and the LeBeau clan into the mix and then what would happen? She didn't want to risk her happiness.

Remy walked up behind her, placed his hands on her arms and looked out over her shoulder. She could feel him smile. "Dey sumt'in else, huh! Really, Rebichere, what we got in Georgia is nice, real nice, but dis, dis is what we need. You and me bot'. We need "home" and "family". We always have and we always will. Why settle for jus' four people who love and respect you when you could have a hundred?" He released her and stepped back, lighting a cigarette.

She continued to stare at the tableau vivant below her. The acrid smell of smoke reached her and the woman who was once the fastest X-Man snatched the cigarette from her husband's lips. "Ah thought you quit?"

"I did quit, I'm jus'--"

"Ya're just nothin'! Quit is quit as in none." She right away recognized the cigarette as Papa's brand, from the one time she had done the massive shopping that kept the LeBeau mansion stocked. She hadn't thought about it in a long time, but it had been fun to shop for them all. Even shopping with Penny was better than shopping alone. Barely.

"I haven't had a smoke in fourteen years, chere . . ." He's irises gleamed red in their black sclera's as an insouciant grin enveloped his face. She was not too busy ripping the offending object to bits to notice that incorrigible smile that had won her heart once upon a time.

"Were you funnin' me, Cajun?" Rebecca knew he was but that was part of the game.

"Me, Chere? Never!" He slipped a hand around her waist and plamed several more smokes from the cigarette case on the desk. "Seriously, m'amour, you were lookin' a little down, so t'ought I'd destract ya. We don' have to decide now. Mon pere won' have time to 'arass Alex and Bobby until tomorrow. Let's go make wit' de gracious hosts and such, hmmm?" He was already guiding her out of the room.

As Rebecca ushered the children to bed late that night, she walked past Alex' old bedroom. She stopped for a second to listen to their agitated whispers and quiet tears. It was well before twelve and the house was still gaily alight for the most part, but their room was dark, foreboding. She was the one that had paired Bobby and Alex together in her wedding party. They had looked so good together as they danced, just a bridesmaid and a groomsman, but that started the spark so she had always counted herself partly responsible for their happiness. Until now, she had felt good about bringing them together. Tonight, she had the power to end their pain, but her vaunted strength was not up to the task.

Remy's words played in her mind. Family was more than three kids, a minivan and a picket fence. She had never been normal -- not in Caldecott, not with the Brotherhood, not in the X-Men, not in her sacred slice of suburbia. She was always conscious of her difference -- a poor, abused tomboy, a mutant who couldn't control her powers, a reformed villainess, a secret criminal who decorated her living room using funds from the ill-gotten gains of other criminals. Family was acceptance. And this family accepted her. Family was being needed and depended on. Rebecca was the only one who suspected Des was more than a long-lost Guild scion nobody had seen in a while. As long as Des was here, her family would have to be protected from whatever danger she might one day present. Guilt over eavesdropping overtook her, and Rebecca walked on past their door and moved quickly towards the room she and Remy claimed as their own on visits.

He sat in a chair, facing the window. With his elbows on his knees, he seemed to lean into the view, where the moon hung, an impossibly bright crescent, bathing the grounds and the swamps beyond in celestial light. Rebecca's throat caught. The night she kissed Cody flashed into her mind and faded just as quickly. She put away the specters of the past -- daydreams and nightmares, successes and failures and always the shame and sadness.

Rebecca tried to float into the room silently but he turned anyway. She just smiled and beckoned him to bed. She had yet to apologize for her doubts, but she knew just how to wipe the pain away.

Finally, as the moon reached the other side of the house and left them in half-remembered shadow, they lay silently. Rebecca closed her eyes and imagined they were home in Atlanta. She felt something slip away -- the security, the peace, the pride -- to be replaced by a little bit of guilt and a desire to conceal her true self. That is what Atlanta felt like and she had never really noticed it before.

Rebecca ran a hand along Remy's arm muscles, still so well-defined and his skin so smooth. He turned to her and hugged her close.

Quietly taking his hand, she whispered into his ear, "There are good schools in New Orleans and we won't have any trouble getting a baby-sitter."

And they would be happy.


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.