DISCLAIMER: The universe and the mutants in it belong to Marvel. This permutation, however, is the ALCHEMY arc, and was created by the lovely and talented Dandelion. I'm just visiting, with her permission.
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Farewell Illusion, Salutation Clarity
Everyone probably expected me to throw a hissy fit when I found out that Remy and Jean had gotten themselves hooked up in Moscow.
Heh, fooled 'em all.
I took it like a lady.
That ain't to say I didn't *want* to drop kick Remy into next week, or snatch Jean bald headed. Part of me did. Still does, just a little.
But now I'm leader of the team, and there's a certain standard to be upheld. Beating my breast and pining for Remy is not gonna do me any good. They may not be true loves, but he's hers and she's his.
He looks a bit less haunted and a lot happier than I've seen him in a long time. Part of him being anything else was at least in part my fault. I may not be proud of that admission, but whether I like it or not, it's true.
And Jean looks more like Jean again. When we came home from Egypt, after Scott, she looked like a pale half-washed, wrung out shadow of herself. When we saw Remy's team in Moscow, she had her spark back. By the time she came home, it was fanned to the full flame of the Jean I remember. If he could bring that Jean back from halfway dying after Scott, then there's something more there than the frenzied lust some folks seemed to want to think it was when they came clean about it.
I think it was all the tiptoeing around that had people so on edge. We knew, of course, for a while. But they wouldn't say anything. I mean, not like they were obligated to, but none of us X-Men who live on the Mansion grounds have ever been particularly tight-lipped about our romantic lives. Between that, and Remy being the black sheep of our little family -- in the silence, the speculation grew.
Nobody'd say it outright, of course, but they all think it -- that Jean's slumming to choose Remy...that Scott would've wanted her to pick someone else. Someone better. They probably also thought she'd go right to Logan. Judging by his reaction, he thought the same thing. Talk about your rude awakenings. But he'll come around. He may be a berserker, but he's also a man of honor. And it ain't honorable to hold a grudge if it breaks the heart of a lady you love.
Me? I'm still working out how I feel about it. I mean, I can be all rational and correct and say what I said about Jean looking more herself and Remy looking less hunted. But part of me is still a little numb. Part of me is still a little sore. Part of me -- regrets.
See, I know why he and Jean got together. Even if Remy and Jean don't know it themselves entirely.
It takes two to make a relationship. It takes two to break it.
I did my share of breaking by keeping my walls up. I was so desperate to touch, but so scared touching would hurt. I cut Remy deep without laying a hand on him, and let my own fear drive a wedge between us that eventually cooled the passion we once had to a somewhat-cordial friendship. Even when his powers allowed him to safely touch me, it wasn't enough.
The things he'd once held to the vest as mysteries I wanted him to pay for -- to earn back trust in blood and regrets. But I wasn't willing to pull my cards away from my vest either. He asked me my real name, and I just lowered my eyes. That's what made it impossible for us. I wouldn't let him as close to me as he wanted to be. As close as he needed to be.
Jean did. She let him close enough to ignite her flame again.
And in no way is there disrespect for Scott in her, or in Remy. I can still see it, sometimes -- in her green eyes. They go haunted and clouded with a wistful sadness. Scott was too much a part of her, and their love too deep and strong to be gone, completely. Remy knows it too and lets her have those moments how she wants them -- with his comfort, or alone in screaming flames.
She acknowledges that love for Scott and respects it, now, rather than letting it drag her down into a place none of us would have been able to reach her. Remy jumped after her before she got too far from reach, risking the Phoenix's flames for his audacity.
But it apparently was just what she needed.
I can see it in how they act. Some of Remy's nature remains the same, no matter what woman takes up the space in his mind -- and maybe his heart. Those jibes, those playful jeers, those stubborn, dogged attempts to get her to open up were the same jibes, jeers, and attempts he tried on me. Jean opened up to him, jibed back, jeered in return.
I threw him across the room or fled or demanded he open up first. I didn't see what he was trying to do for what it was. Even when he offered me his hand, and a truth he could not dance around, I didn't trust him enough to take it.
I can't even be envious of Jean's telepathy for that insight. The same tweak of his powers that makes him safe to touch me also makes him all full of fuzz and static to a psi-scan. What happened between them happened because of who they are.
I don't hold it against them. It's fairly impressive that they've managed to get over the grief and regrets, and that they found the courage to not give a damn about whether any of us approve or not.
I tried finding that courage myself. Up in space, that fling I had with Petey Pureheart. But I was fooling myself, really. Who in the world would not approve of Piotr Nikolaievitch ? The man is as wholesome as the day as long, and as sweet as my Mama's pecan pie.
After Remy, maybe that's what I needed. Someone with no secrets, whose heart was an open book written in those clear blue eyes. It was a step in the right direction. I let Piotr him touch me. I let myself be touched.
I could finally say "Damn the consequences," and mean it. It was liberating.
With Piotr, I let myself be touched and *feel* it. I let myself *like* it. And I'm still standing. I'm too much of a firecracker for him to handle, though -- and he's too gentle a soul to keep up with my wild heart. It didn't last, but we're still friends. And I've grown into a more whole soul because of it.
There's part of me that aches, seeing Jean and Remy together, but it's like the ache you get after a good workout. The kind of pain that lets you know some good will come of the exertion. I won't lie and say part of me doesn't still love him. But I'm an adult now -- the woman I should've let myself become a long time ago, instead of being so afraid of the unknown.
It's laughable if you look at it right; I've faced the Siege Perilous, my own demons, and sleazoids from space -- but I still feared simple human risk and the loss of my deepest inner heart.
Goes to prove, I suppose, that the spandex and the powers don't really set me or any other mutant apart from the rest of the world so much after all.
I may regret what I missed with Remy, but I wouldn't go back. Going back would mean I hadn't come this far -- learned these lessons, even if they did need paid in sweat and tears. I wouldn't have developed this steel in my spine or forged the will that made the others trust me enough with the mandle of leadership.
So when it gets down to it -- even though there's some part of me that wishes Remy had been my breakthrough -- I can't wish ill on him and Jean for finding something akin to happiness together.
And when it gets down to it...Jean's been good for him too. He assembled that team for Moscow, but they've stayed a team. And he's stayed their leader. The swamp rat we all sneered down our noses at has shed that dark and shadowy mantle of mistrust and regret. Gambit is a different man, now. There may be a part of him that wishes I had been the catalyst of forgiveness -- but I don't see him going back for anything now either. He has a good woman in his life, and the trust of an entire family -- as well as responsibility for the Guild in New Orleans.
He's come a long way.
As have I.
So even though our roads run apart, in the end it was for the best.
Wish you everything we could've been and more, LeBeau.
You deserve it.
And now, with free mind, I can go find it for myself as well.