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to Marvel comics which means the author doesn't intend to
make any money off of them. This is more a spin off from the
animated series with elements from the comics.
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Early the next morning Jean-Luc's reaction to Remy's disappearance
sorely aggravated Rogue. He seemed to think it perfectly natural
for Gambit to simply not return. The fact he denied any knowledge
of his return to New Orleans made her see red because she
knew Gambit would have made the time for a visit to his adopted
father. She ground her teeth in frustration and tried again.
"Listen, Monsieur Lebeau, Ah know you don't trust
strangers, but Ah'm askin' ya ta put yo' misgivin's aside.
He could be in real trouble right now. Doncha have any idea
where he might be?"
The head of the Thieves' Guild tapped his chin, apprising
her with narrowed eyes, then appeared to make a decision.
"You are de X-man Rogue, non?" At her nod,
he sighed. "He did come here, but dat be more'n two weeks
past. Still, don' t'ink Remy'd run off an' leave you, cheré.
Last we talked he said he was goin' ta speak to da priest
'bout dose annulment papers. Don' know what happened after
dat." He shrugged. "Can't very well ask de Guild
ta look for him since he's not supposed ta be here. I'll keep
my ears and eyes open though. Dat's all I can promise."
Rogue gave him terse thanks, then joined the others with
a heavy heart. She shook her head at their questioning looks.
Storm put her arm around Rogue's shoulders and gave her a
brief squeeze before addressing the team.
"We must spread out to search the city. I believe he
is still here. Logan, can you pick up any scent?"
Wolverine sniffed a few times, then grimaced. "Been
too long. All I get's the stink of this place."
Storm turned to Jean. "Can you feel him anywhere near?"
The telepath closed her eyes, frowning in concentration.
he is in New Orleans,
but what I sense is so faint as to be almost like a whisper.
It might be merely from his last visit."
"We gotta try," Rogue protested, afraid they might
"Of course, my dear," Storm reassured her. "Jean,
you and Rogue take this side of the city. Logan and I will
try the East Side. Report whatever you find."
Rogue watched Wolverine and Storm head off, uncertain how
they could ever search the entire city for one man
matter how unusual that man might be. Painfully aware of her
situation if they didn't find him, she placed her hands over
"Are you all right?" Jean's gaze searched her face,
her blue eyes full of compassion.
Rogue hated it. Just because she'd had such a time with her
powers and Scott and Jean had what some might call a "fairy
tale" romance didn't mean she wanted the telepath's sympathy.
"Ah'm fine, just hungry. Let's git somethin' ta eat
befoh we go roamin' 'round this place." Without a backward
glance she stalked off toward a corner café they had passed
on their way. She heard Jean sigh behind her and straightened
her shoulders even more.
Curled against the alley wall and the dumpster, Gambit pulled
his trenchcoat closer against the fine, cold rain falling.
Every muscle and joint ached from his troubled sleep in this
place, but not nearly as much as his soul. Last night he had
stumbled away from Sinister's lab with one thing on his mind
find a way to clean the filth from himself. No matter what
else happened, he couldn't go to Rogue with this on his conscience.
It wouldn't make any difference if he hadn't been a willing
participant. He should have found a way to shut off his mind
some way to not react tow what they did to him.
As much as he tried to stoke his hatred against Sinister
he kept coming back to the fact the creature had some sort
of terrible hold on him. From the first time they had met
years back, Sinister had known exactly how to get whatever
he wanted from Gambit. Never the one to pursue futile causes,
Gambit turned the hatred from the object he could never reach
to himself. Remy had taken lives before, but as far as he
knew Sinister couldn't be killed. Too, the thing seemed to
have some sort of perverse use for him
each side of him held promise for the beast.
Gambit sorely regretted involving Rogue and wondered if she
would miss him. She would survive without him. He didn't like
the clinging vine type
her very independence and smart
comebacks had been the initial attraction. He thanked God
for them now
she'd need them. Not him. Never him again.
Now she knew she could control her powers. She could find
someone who wouldn't bring down such an evil presence as Sinister.
A violent shudder passed through him as he lifted his face
to the gray sky. Water streamed down his cheeks, mingling
with his salty tears. Dear God how he'd yearn for her. But
he too would survive. For now he must hide himself away. Away
from the Thieves' and Assassins' Guilds
away from the
X-men and her. With great effort he pushed himself up and
lurched toward the narrow alley's mouth. First he must find
a way to purge himself. Perhaps Tante Matte could help. Though
she had ties to the Guild he knew she wouldn't betray him
to Jean-Luc and the others.
Rogue burst into the abandoned lab
seeing the slab with
its leather restraints, the generator in the corner, the observation
window. Jean had led them here with the information this was
the strongest place she could feel Gambit. It stood empty
now, but Rogue knew something awful must have taken place
here. The team searched the building, finding evidence of
Sinister's cloning experiments, but nothing more of him or
"Damn! Where'd that maniac take him?" Rogue punched
an empty locker she'd just finished riffling through to keep
Wolverine paused beside her. "Don't think Sinister took
him anywhere. His scent's goin' off by itself from the others.
Fresh enough we should be able ta find him."
"Well, why didn't ya say so? Let's go!"
"Hold on, gal. Mebbe he don't want ta be found."
Wolverine gave her a speculative look.
"Ya mean by me, doncha?" Her chin rose as she struggled
against the pain.
The Canadian gave her a feral grin. "Rogue, what I smell
here ain't pretty
there's some things I don't think the
Cajun wants you to know. Can't blame him. Don't think I'd
care to have anybody I cared about knowin' some of the stuff
that's happened to me either." He placed a paw on her
arm. "Let me go look for him. I don't always trust him
I understand him. Why don't ya wait here while I go take a
She squelched her questions, knowing Wolverine was most probably
right. It still rankled. Well, she could be sneaky, too. "All
right. But let me know what ya find, ya ugly brute, or Ah'll
nevah fo'give ya."
Rogue watched him move out, then managed to evade Jean and
Storm to follow him. They passed the seediest looking places,
wandered through dank alleyways and twisting paths until Wolverine
stopped beside a partially filled dumpster.
"This is where he spent the night. Scent goes that way."
He marched over to her hiding place, crossed his arms and
gave her a resigned look. "Gal, do ya really think I
wouldn't know I was bein' trailed? Wind's behind ya."
"Ah gotta find him, Logan. Ah know ya meant the best,
but Ah want ta be the one to bring him back
or have him
tell me he don't want ta come back. Ah don't care what Sinister
did ta him. Ah just want to tell him
"That yer carryin' his kid?"
how'd ya know? Hank promised--"
"Come on, Rogue. Ya know I can pick out different scents.
Well, yers fairly screams it." He chuckled, then sobered.
"No wonder ya want to find him. Just be prepared for
him not ta be too happy to see ya."
She swiped at her eyes, then glowered at him. "It doesn't
matter. Ah just have ta know he's all right. Now which way'd
With a grunt, Wolverine gestured toward the alley's entry
onto a main street.
"Well, lead on McDuff. Ah'll be right behind ya."
Gambit found Tante Matte without difficulty. She greeted
him warmly, concern filling her chocolate brown eyes.
"Chile, what you go yo'self into now? No, don' anwer
dat. Come inside an' let Tante Matte fix you a posset."
She bustled around her kitchen, preparing her special brew.
He inhaled the familiar aromas from his childhood. Rosemary,
pennyroyal, rue, incense of all sorts and some unidentifiable
essence that came from the old healer. He had to tell her
some of the horrors he'd been through, but first he'd take
comfort in her mothering. A thing only she'd given him over
the years. Matte returned with the steaming cup, motioning
him to drink up. As he drained the mug he could feel her appraising
gaze, knowing she could sense much from it.
"Dieu, you been through some tough times lately,
haven't you. Tell me what you will
I can guess some of
it. Dat creature Sinister been at you again?"
Remy couldn't suppress the start at her perceptiveness. "Oui,
but dere's more to it den jus' dat."
"You finally found another woman?" Tante Matte
peered at him. "It's dat Rogue, isn't it?" She tsked.
"Thought she couldn't touch anyone. What kind of love
is dat? Oh, nothin' wrong wit' likin' each other first
it'll never lead ta anythin'."
For a moment, memories of Rogue's lovemaking overwhelmed
Remy. He closed his eyes, reliving the feel of her against
him, then pushed it away, knowing he had lost her forever.
"Dere you're wrong. We been together
but after dis
I doubt she'll want anythin' ta do wit' me. I need your help
feel..." He swallowed the bile rising at the other, less
pleasant memories flooding his mind.
"Tell me what happened. Den mebbe I can heal the wounds.
Gotta know the nature of de injury 'for I can treat it."
He didn't tell her everything, but what he left unsaid Tante
Matte filled in on her own. She made him take an herbal bath
and took away his clothes to launder. When he finished soaking
she gave him a robe to wear and attended to his scratches.
"De t'ings of de body are de easy ones ta deal wit',
chile. I can only help some wit' de t'ings of de soul. For
dat you need help from your woman." She stopped his protest.
"If she loves you den dat love will heal de wounds dat
monster left on you."
"But it's not fair to her to expose her to dat danger.
Sinister's already tol' me he's not done wit' me yet. I can't
take de chance he might hurt her."
"You t'ink dat's gonna stop her? If she loves you, she'll
find you. You gonna turn her away? Hurt her yourself?"
Matte snorted. "Some kinda love dat is
de kind you
don't need ta give her. Now get yo'self onto dat cot an' git
She fussed over him, then once he laid down she began a ritual
of spiritual cleansing. Though she'd told him she couldn't
do it all, she promised him at least a start. He fell asleep
to the sound of her chanting
the smell of incense strong
"He's in there." Wolverine gestured to the balcony
he and Rogue stood below.
"That's Tante Matte's place." She remembered it
from when she'd tended Belle
when she'd first glimpsed
what making love with Remy could be like from Belle's memories.
The implications of his being at the healer's place slammed
her hard. Oh Lawd, how bad had Sinister hurt him?
"Ah'm goin' up. Alone." She scowled at Wolverine.
"Whatever you say, darlin'. Can I let Storm and Jean
know we've found him?"
"Not yet. Ah gotta find out
how he is
wants ta come back." She took a shuddery breath. "If'n
he don't want ta come back, then Ah think we should leave
an' say we couldn't find him."
"Don't ya think he should have the final say on that?"
"Of course!" She hesitated. "But if he don't
want anythin' ta do with me
Ah'll call ya in
he'll talk ta you even if he won't talk ta me."
With sweating palms, she climbed the stairs. Tante Matte
answered her knock, the look on her face as if she expected
Rogue to appear.
"Come in, chile. He's in de next room." Matte ushered
her toward the beaded curtain dividing her kitchen and treatment
room, then left her alone with Gambit.
Rogue looked down on Remy, relaxed in sleep. As quietly as
possible, she pulled a stool next to the bed. Determination
lit her face as she pulled off her gloves and reached for
his face. Instantly, his eyes flew open
the red irises
dilated against the black sclera.
"No!" He flinched away from her touch.
Rogue despised the tears that filled her eyes, the way her
lips trembled. He hated her. He didn't want her anymore, didn't
trust her, wouldn't accept the child she carried. She got
up so abruptly the stool turned over. Without a word she turned
He caught her arm, careful to avoid touching her bare skin.
"Why? Ya don't want me here," she bit out, her
voice choked with tears.
Despite his self-loathing, Gambit sensed her pain at what
she perceived as his rejection. He couldn't bear her to think
he didn't want her.
"Naw, dat's not true." He tugged on her arm. "Come
on, sit beside me."
Reluctantly, Rogue sank onto the cot. "Now what? Y'all
tell me it was a big mistake
that there's nothin' between
us 'cept bein' team members?"
"Dieu, it's not like dat!"
"Then what? Tell me what happened. Ah need to know what
made ya not trust me anymo'."
Gambit ran a hand through his damp hair. "Cheré,
real bad. An' I don' know if dere's any way
ya'll ever forgive me for what happened."
"Oh, foh heaven's sake, Remy! Ya already tol' me 'bout
the Marauders an' the Morlocks. What could be worse then that?
Ah don't believe there's a really bad bone in yo' body
She grinned for a moment. "Well, maybe one
don't count 'cause Ah like that bone."
Remy couldn't help it. He chuckled. Then he decided he'd
better come clean with her. Better to have her turn away now
"Ain't pretty, cheré,"
"Ah can live with it. But when yo' done, it's mah turn."
"Ya want me ta tell ya
or do ya want to see it?
In my mind?"
"Ya'd trust me enough ta let me do that?" She growled
at his nod. "Then why'd ya stop me befo'?"
"Didn' want ya ta see it wit'out talkin' to ya first."
He smiled crookedly at her, then took her hand. "Any
Carefully, Rogue let the power seep through her, channeling
it through her hand and into his. Barely a minute passed before
she saw all that Remy had lived through the last two weeks.
Her eyes flew open as he slumped against her. Tears streamed
down her cheeks.
what have I done?"
To be continued.
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