CONTINUITY: Sometime recent.
Gambit yawned and stretched. Nice as it had been staying up alone, he did need to sleep sometime. That was another way of being alone, after all.
It wasn't that he disliked spending time with the rest of the X-Men, although he had to admit that they hadn't been much fun to be around recently. That was okay, they were allowed to do that. People who'd just lost one of the rocks their lives were built on could hardly be expected to be entertaining, or even reliable. That was why he was pretending that he could herd cats, after all. Because not only didn't anyone else want to, they weren't in any state to do so.
The 'leader' hat wasn't one he was particularly attached to, but he'd keep wearing it as long as he had to. He'd just have to keep carefully finding ways to take it off for a little while.
He was just returning from the bathroom and was already thinking happily of warm blankets and soft pillows when he heard the little whimper. A liquid, despairing sound like an abandoned puppy that's lost all hope. Stopping, he tapped softly on the door. "Jean?"
"What?" She was crying, he could hear it.
"Do you want me t' come in?" He knew that he could, it just might not be what she really wanted and she had a right to mourn in her own way.
He let himself in and shut the door behind him quietly, not wanting to wake anyone else. Jean was a shadow against pale sheets, sitting up with her arms wrapped around a pillow. "Nightmare?"
"Uh-huh." Her voice quivered. "God, I hate this..."
Darkness was his element, and Remy slid over to sit on the bed without disturbing it. "Want to talk about it?"
"No." Jean sighed and awkwardly put the pillow back on the other side of the bed. "It wasn't that kind of nightmare."
He knew the type she was talking about. Some horrors faded when dragged into the light of reason, others only got more solid. So he just nodded understandingly and patted her hand. "Y' gonna be able to sleep?"
"I don't know. But I'm not going to start taking those pills again, they just make it worse and I wake up stupid." She tangled a hand in moon-blackened hair and sighed.
"Anyt'ing I can do?"
She paused for a moment, as if she was wrestling with something. When she spoke again, her voice was uncertain. "Yeah... Remy, would you stay with me?" He blinked in utter shock, and she stumbled on. "Not like that, I just... I'm not used to sleeping alone anymore. Every time I roll over it wakes me up, and I'm completely alone..."
Alone. What he had wanted, and she was terrified of. "If dat's what's been wakin' you up, why didn't you crawl in with Henri or Cable?"
"Because it'd mean something to them. I don't want to be comforted or sympathized with, and Nathan's having enough trouble managing without me crying on him and making him rust." The smile was shaky and lacked any real warmth.
Remy nodded. "Okay. I can understand dat." Without another word he slid in beside her. It felt strange, but he was tired and going to sleep was something he could probably do. He was even used to doing it in someone else's bed. Comfort without being comforting, definitely a challenge anyway.
The next time Jean woke up he only slid halfway back to consciousness, raising an arm automatically. She rested her head on his chest and cried for a few moments, but the absent pat on the shoulder followed by deep breathing was oddly soothing. Part of her thought she should feel guilty, but couldn't really say quite why.
Eventually she ignored it, and slept without dreams
for the rest of the night.
When they made their separate ways to breakfast, both tactfully acted utterly normal. Not as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, they just simply didn't mention it. At least to each other.
"Redd? Can I talk to you for a moment?"
Jean twisted a strand of hair around her finger. Damn. "Sure."
Cable turned his head slightly to one side and looked at her thoughtfully. "I met Gambit coming out of your room this morning. I just wondered... why him?"
"Nathan, I didn't--"
"I know that. I know what it's like to lose the other half of your dreams, remember?"
Jean turned the unfamiliar phrasing over in her head. It fitted, and she nodded slowly. "I asked him for two reasons. For one, it didn't mean anything much to him. He was just being kind."
"And the other?"
She looked up at him with tears in her eyes. "I knew
he'd be gone when I woke up."