A penny for your thoughts, isn't that how the saying goes? What if I had made that offer for every time you lost your keys, every time you wondered what kind day today would be, every time you sneezed and blessed yourself? You'd be rolling in it, Scrooge McDuck style. I know you get the reference because I know you sometimes watched cartoons with Bobby, because that's what leaders do, they lead, they sacrifice --
There were times I would have given more than money to know your thoughts. When your eyes close over and the burdens of our lifestyle press down hard on your shoulders, when you shut your pain away and stared at an Alaskan sunset that was always red for you, I wondered what you were pondering, what my blinded mind concealed from me. Even then, in the quiet of my own head, I wanted to know you, to swim in the flow of your thoughts.
Unformed ideas and sensations -- cold floor, hot water, cold water, kill Bobby -- I feel them too, hear them as they slip from your cerebrum into mine, tumbling like a waterfall. Sometimes things I didn't want to know or hear or feel, but I did. Secrets you didn't tell yourself, but even so, I saw them.
We never needed words. They were nice to have, for making idle conversation, for filling the silence with whispers or moans, but words weren't our currency. You paid for my love with your every twisted fantasy and half-baked notion. I paid for yours by listening, and never saying a word.
Except about Betsy, but that wasn't something you could expect me to forget. I know for a fact you've never thought of me like that. I've never seen myself walking around your head dressed the way you dressed her. You never dreamed of touching me the way you touched her in your mind. And it wasn't all a result of her unconscious telepathic influence, so don't think that excuses you. You can't lie to me or even fib a little when it comes to things like that. When it comes to anything really, but especially that.
I'm surprised our relationship has survived our mind-bond. Rogue once lamented to me that she wished for our connection because at least she would know how Gambit really felt about her. Maybe I should have told her how much it hurts to sometimes catch your husband thinking 'Maddie, I mean Jean, Jean sure looks nice tonight.' Would she have appreciated the irony? That sometimes you can know too much about a person, sometimes you just don't want to hear anymore?
I've felt that way sometimes, wanted a little space in my head. It's not just the things no one should have to know about their spouse, or about anyone, like the fact that you wear dirty socks a second or third time if you think you can get away with it, or your obsession with Talk Soup. Although, with the twisted nature of your family history and our lives as X-Men, I suppose I can understand the attraction sensational TV might have. Might have had. The sock thing is just gross. It's also the little mundane "The walls are blue, not as blue as the floor but bluer than the chair." Really, you could have had a nice racket going. All the inanities that ebb and flow throughout the day could have earned you a penny apiece. Ka-ching.
I've been walking through the rooms in my head, as Betsy says*, and change is starting to pile up. There are pennies gathering in the corners, one for every thought I have not heard. Every thought after "You won't take Nate from me again." With your last synapse you proclaimed your love for the flesh of your flesh, the bone of your bone. I suppose I always thought your last thoughts would be about me, about us. You've risked it all to save me so many times and I never really acknowledged that there are those other than me that you love more than life. I did not expect it to be Nate Gray, but perhaps you meant Nate Dayspring. You prefer to call him Summers in your heart, but its not a name he readily accepts in life. He has his reasons and I have yours.
I've listened to you analyze a hundred situations, shift variables in your mind so quickly that I can't imagine keeping up with the quicksilver train of your thoughts. You are a leader and even though I'm hard wired to your skull, I still can't pinpoint the thing that makes you brilliant. I can sift through images and ideas from textbooks on Roman warfare, words that flow from the History Channel in your head. I can hear the staccato splashes of plans firing across your consciousness and being rejected just as quickly until you pull all the pieces together into the plan that wins the day. Still, I can't make those same leaps that you do; I can watch them unfold, but I could never explain them. That day, your mind hummed louder to mine than the throb of my own heart beat. I could not keep up, and so I was as surprised as anyone else when you . . .
So you saved the day, saved the world, just like you have once or twice a week since you were barely eighteen. And it would be just that routine -- if I wasn't drowning in copper coins, unused since I've lost your stream of consciousness flowing through my brain.
I'd give them all to you, Fred Dukes' weight in pennies, for just one thought.
They say you're dead, that there is no way I can be feeling you. But they don't understand our bond at all. The stream of you that filled me, sometimes flooding it's banks, sometimes subsiding to a trickle, is still there. It's a dry bed of stones, but it's still there. I can almost feel tiny little drops of you, running between the rocks. Visceral emotions like pain and fear and guilt tie my insides up and they seem to bear your imprint, your touch.
I can feel you still, so I know you are there. Or at least I can imagine that I do. But, if you could just think one thought, that would be enough for me to believe. One thought, one copper coin, and it will all be okay.
You might think, and I know how you tend to think so I speak with some authority, that I want you say those three words. It took a long time to get you to say them out loud, even though I could feel the warm, passionate comfort of them every time we were together. Yet, I don't need to hear "I love you." You've said it in my head so many times, they form a rose colored stream of affection that stays with me always. You've acted it -- by being considerate of my needs, by feeling secure in my arms. No, I know you love me.
A penny, a thousand, a trillion, to hear you think, "I'm alive."
I don't want much. "I live," would be okay too. You can think it in agony or joy, feel sorrow or elation or disappointment or resignation. Just think it and I will hear.
A penny for a thought, my love. All I need is one.
* Props to Kristina Sennvik for the amazing Psylocke tale of the same title.