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Chapter 1


Written by Lucia de’Medici
Last updated: 10/29/2007 10:28:01 PM

Chapter 1




It’s been a long time since Valle Soleada; when he could still remember the grit of sand embedded into sun-baked skin; that fine searing pain across the shoulders that no amount of aloe can relieve because the weight of a woman across his chest keeps him pinned to the moment. Tacked down to the beach, he’s sun-drunk and sweating because Rogue’s skin is a fiery blanket of good hurt.

Dieu. For a second it returns to him with such clarity, he can taste the sublime saltiness of her neck. The dip behind her ear he’d claimed as his, the supple hollow at the bottom of her throat, her mouth on his - cherry coke and tequila - lime juice dribbled down her chin. All of it.

They are marked to match by twin white, serpentine scars on their chests. Like daubed cards; bits of a glimmer left as a reminder that never truly heals even though the scar tissue seems to be less knotty, and less real these days.

But it was real, wasn’t it? The memories he keeps tucked away in places safer than Swiss banks disperse quickly in the dark; so as long as he keeps his eyes shut tight against them, as long as he keeps picturing the sunset that stains the sky like grenadine on cotton, he thinks he’ll keep himself from going crazy; from crawling into those deep places that are so damned hard to get out of.

There’s a line drawn in the sand - idle tracings when Rogue’s attention drifts and she rolls off him, a shapely calf draped idly over his knee. She’s built little half-formed mounds from damp sand that dry too quickly to hold. They’re fragile things - not entirely solid, but Rogue’s kingdom is a work in progress, and where he can, Remy helps her - until he gets bored, or Rogue bends too far forwards, and Remy finds his attention wandering.

The line, she says, is a moat. He doesn’t entirely believe her, but he humours her defensive pout.

Their sandcastles are forgotten as easily as it is to take a swallow from a fresh margarita, or a sip from each other’s lips.

He remembers eyes with the shine and hue of emerald gazing back at him; they’re flecked by the sun, drawing out the tiny gold chips near the irises. Precious.

"You’re staring."

"You’re beautiful."

"Remy -"

"And blushing."

"Stop it, you’re making me - oh, nevermind."

"I’ll close my eyes, then, chére; commit this picture t’ memory."

"Look at me."

Her voice fractures the dream, hazing the edges with the reminder of fingers grazing beneath his trench coat.

"Sugah, ya can’t wear that thing on the beach!"

"Want that I should take it off, chére?"

"Mind yourself, mistuh. That look you’re givin’ me ain’t proper."

"Nothin’ like it, Rogue: ’proper’ went on vacation th’ instant y’ put on that bathing suit."

"You like?"

"That an’ more."

"Do you like this?"

Groaning, he nods, and in his memory, Rogue prostrates herself - sand-covered where her long legs fall off the towel, dragging the granules against his skin before he can pin her to their beach towel.

It’s too real, too absolute for him to disengage from the feeling of fingers struggling against his belt. With Remy’s shoulders pressed against the wall that separates their twin beds with matching sheets, he has little choice than to concede. The bed stand’s long been knocked to the ground with the first feverish invitation to recall what’s been so long suppressed.

"Touch me," she gasps into his mouth, and Dieu, he does everything to avoid those half-parted lips, knowing they’ll taste like sin, alright - but not the sort that warrants appreciation.

Remy slits his eyes, flattens his palms against the wall, and tries desperately to remember Valle Soleada - tries to remember the faint scent of magnolia perfume below ocean salted skin. Her hair is in his mouth, and the rich copper is exact in colour, and even in the dim lighting, the green of her eyes the perfect shade - the irises rimmed light yellow. He’s seen those eyes misted so many times that for a moment - a silver of time - he believes the look she gives him. He believes in her. It makes the dream real.

He gives into the kiss, and she gasps under his touch as Remy’s fingers remember the path across her supple curves. It shocks him that he remembers so well, after so long...

Remy wants to ask her how she does it; how, when she puts her mouth on his and her teeth find purchase she can bring all these dreams back to the surface of his mind.

Deep down, he hopes that this time she’ll kill him before he’s forced to relive it all one more time, and lose it again once he wakes up and he’s back in their room with the twin beds spaced a modest five feet from each other.

"Just in case, Remy."

"Don’t look so sad, beb. This is only temporary."

"Ah appreciate that you’re so brave."

"Naw, girl - that be you. Me? I’m just followin’ - so long as y’ leading, you’re giving me someplace t’ go."

"How far is that, Rem?"

"T’ the ends of the earth and for forever. These five feet? They got nothin’ on us - toi pis moi, chére - we’re closer than skin. Nothin’ gonna keep us apart."

Night is coming, and there’s nothing he can do to keep the dream from fading.

Remy, his shoulders barely supporting him in a downward slump to the tile floor, can only think that the walls are cold in their room. It’s the line left by a heated mouth where she’s half-flung the trench coat from his shoulder and latched onto his collarbone, working the skin. The gloved fingers straining against his uniform to work between his slacks before the hourglass runs out only adds to the desperation to hold on just a little longer.

In his mind’s eye, the sun is already setting on their romance, and that makes the drawled moan of appreciation from around his midsection a request he can’t deny.

There’s a mark on his shoulder. It’s uglier than the one on his chest, he thinks, jerking with the roughened insistence of having his clothing removed without the shy ease Rogue would exact for herself.

She’s done it to spite him, knowing that Rogue won’t see the love bite; knowing that Rogue wouldn’t leave a love bite... couldn’t, he corrects himself.

For the sake of the moment, he swallows back her name and shuts his eyes against the brush of her thighs against his knees when she stands.

"Remy -"

Purred in that velvet tone, clipped at the end with the frayed urgency of the aroused, it’s all he can do to keep his hands out and away - fingers straining as they are to have her so close.

(It’s a lie.)

She fits against him so snugly, shoulders working themselves out of that old bomber jacket, and trying to stay near in the desperate fashion of one who so longs to be touched. Remy flexes his fingers, his head bowing involuntarily to the sweet dark that should smell of magnolias and sugarcane. The brush of her breasts against his ribs is a solid reminder that Valle Soleada was too long ago, and that more than anything, more than ever, all he’s wanted he’s earned for himself through deception no better and no worse than this.

The dream is fading.


It’s been a decade since he’s called himself Thief, but that temptation keeps the thoughts tethered where they don’t move beyond the edges of taboo.

There are some things you don’t do.

A man draws an invisible line for himself so that when the opportunity presents itself to claim, to steal; he keeps his hands in his pockets and he doesn’t give in to that sizzling, sticky desire that smacks of familiarity, but like a skilfully made fake jewel, you can find the flaws if you look closely enough.

It’s Valle Soleada again, and for a moment, as if she remembers, she traces the scar on his chest. It’s an ugly white thing, these days - a serpentine caricature of shared pain that Rogue managed to erase with a little accelerated healing.

A line that separates them, and a line that draws them together.

It’s too perfect.

Remy opens his eyes wide, part out of surprise that Mystique knows where to touch him convincingly enough to fit the guise she wears.

The smoked-out Southern lilt is exact, and suddenly, there is a gentle hesitancy to her caress as Rogue draws back from him, into herself. She hugs her arms to her chest, leaving him colder, disarmed.

"Ah - Ah’m sorry. Was Ah being too forceful? It’s just that it’s been so long -" She shakes her head, eyes going wide.

They are the perfect green; just the right amount of polish.

Adam’s apple working the knot of despair down so he doesn’t choke on it, Remy tries to find a flaw that he can use to shatter the illusion.

(There is none.)

Rogue looks back at him, all coyness lost between her particular breed of repressed desire and uncultivated innocence. She’s got both in spades, and for a second, a rattling, uncertain heart’s beat, Remy is willing to accept the lie for himself.

It’s just that easy, Remy thinks, as he takes a step forward.

On a beach, in his memory, the tide is coming in. It spills across a couple lying in the sand, the markings cut into the granules diving them rubbed down with ease, and washing out Rogue’s kingdom of sandcastles around them.


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