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Stories by Katt Solano

"The Highwayman"
A Gambit and Rogue story based on the poem "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes.

A series of short stories taking place in the X-Men movieverse
• "The Fatted Calf" (Cyclops)
• "Contemplations on an Empty Closet" (Rogue)
• "Winter Days in Westchester" (Gambit)
• "Lost and Found Department: First Floor" (Cyclops, Gambit)
• "Higher Learning" (Cyclops, Gambit, Rogue)
• "Something about the Rooftops" (Gambit, Rogue)


Web site: K@tt's Aerie

Disclaimer: Gambit, Rogue & the rest of the X-Men belong to Marvel; I'm just borrowing 'cause fan-ficdom is a beautiful thing. "The Highwayman" is written by Alfred Noyes; I'm just borring 'cause I've loved this poem since I was around 5 and didn't know that the Highwayman "really, actually" died.

The Highwayman

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees
The moon was ghostly galleon tossed upon the cloudy seas
The road was a ribbon of moonlight, over the purple moor
And the highwayman came riding--
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door


Massachusetts, New England

The horse's hooves clattered noisily against the cobblestones of Graymalkin Lane. Remy LaFayette reeled his horse in sharply when a barrel of wine fell off of a passing delivery cart. The driver cursed fluently in several languages, most of which Remy understood perfectly. He grinned to himself. He didn't think that was possible in the human body much less an equine one.

Slowing to a canter as he came closer to the Breakstone Inn, Remy started to smile in pure delight. He pushed his tricorn up higher on his head in order to see the second floor. The place was locked up tight for the night and rightly so; the redcoats were out tonight and tensions were high. However, Remy was not as interested in politics at the moment as much as the third window of the second floor on the western gable of the inn.

"Sabine!" he hissed between his teeth. When no one answered, he tapped his whip against the windows. Still, no one answered. Pounding his fist against his leg, Remy tried a different route. He whistled a tune into the window, trying to pretend he was just another drunken slob from the docks. The only difference was that this was their song. At last a light shone out from the window. Quickly, he ducked underneath it. The hat got in his way and he snatched it off, pressing it against his chest.

"Remy?" came the inquisitive whisper. He could smell her sweet perfume from here! "Remy, I know you're here." Sabine' voice was tinged with laughter.

He swept out from under the eaves, climbing up on his trusty mount. "Did you miss me, chere rogue?" His family came from France and his speech was sometimes still peppered with Gallic expressions.

"You know I have," she replied lovingly, "I've worried, too." The last statement was said with more sharpness.

Remy sighed. "I know you do not approve, Sabine--"

"Approve of a profession that could easily get you killed!"

"--but these days it is the only way to live." His eyes were flinty. "You and you father run an inn. You know what it is like."

In reply, Sabine sighed. She knew all too well the hardships of these days. War would brew ... the scent of it was thick in the air.

"No more talk of darkness," urged her love, "Give me a kiss, ma belle amoureuse, I'm after a prize tonight."

"The docks are buzzing with redcoats, Remy darling." Her face was half cast in darkness.

"Never you mind them." Remy had the utterly reckless manner of sweeping troubles away. "I'll be back here in the morning and we can go west and start a new life there if you wish."

"No more stealing?"

"Minimal smuggling," he corrected. Sabine sighed, this time in a less serious manner. Keeping Remy from danger was like keeping fish alive out of water.

"What if the redcoats harry you? They suspect everyone of treason nowadays."

His smile was blinding white in the night's glow. "Then look for me by moonlight," he whispered, "I'll come to you by moonlight though hell itself should bar the way." In the distance, the precise marching of the night watch sounded. "I must go."

"Wait!" Sabine smiled coyly. "You forgot your kiss, Remy." She leaned down to meet him.

When he stood on his horse, Remy could barely reach her hand. But she let her hair down -- all those beautiful dark auburn locks -- until it cascaded down to his chest. It was then that he saw the snow-white love knot, a present that he had given her days ago, woven into her hair.

He looked up into her smiling eyes. "I love you," she whispered.

Remy kissed the perfumed waves that seemed black in the night's light. "I love you," he returned. Then he spurred his horse on into the docks.

The next night.

Tears seeped out from Sabine' closed eyes. The Redcoats had taken over the inn. That idiot, Joseph Thompson, had apparently heard every word that she and Remy had shared and told the "guards." Not only was their beautiful private moment ruined but now, Remy would be caught and hanged. Mercy was a word unknown to the government these days. Bound and gagged, Sabine sat at the foot of her bed. There was a soldier at ever window, a harbinger of death for Remy at each window. She would not cry! Even after the redcoats had their fun and jests, she wouldn't cry.

"What'll we do, Sergeant Essex?" inquired one smooth-cheeked youth. He was such a child, she judged from his looks. Blonde, blue eyes and ever so eager to please. He couldn't be any older than her.

"We wait, Private Summers," answered Essex, "I have it in good faith that LaFayette will pass by here sometime." He threw his glance toward Sabine. "Can't seem to get enough of this chit, isn't that right?"

Another soldier made a ribald gesture and the entire company broke out into snickers. Essex himself only smirked. Evil oozed out of his every pore. Sabine couldn't help but shiver under his gaze.

"I believe she's throwing me an evil look, men." Essex purposely strode in her direction. Not too gently, he cupped her chin. "I don't think she likes me. What can I do to change her mind, Summers?"

The young man blushed furiously. "I ... I don't know, sir," he stuttered, "That is ... I ... she -- she ... I mean--"

He was cut off by the laughter of his troopmates, which only served to make him redden even more. Right now, Sabine didn't care. Her sharp eyes had caught a slight bit of movement in the horizon. It could have been a trick of the full moon or just her flustered nerves. But somehow, she knew that he had come for her. Remy LaFayette had come.

Obviously, Essex heard him, too. He lifted his hands up for silence. In the still room, the soft clattering of iron against the cobblestones rang, slowly getting louder and louder with each second. Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot

"Summers, tie your gun at this ... tramp's chest," he hissed in command. He took his own position at the main window, priming his musket. When the youth looked shocked, Essex growled at him.

"She's just a lady, sir," Summers protested.

"She's just a common harlot," countered the evil man, "A piece of trash who spreads her legs for any thief who happens by. Don't disobey any of my orders, Private Summers. You'll not like the results."

It must have been because of Private Summers' trepidation that Sabine got hold of the musket. She strained for the trigger. She knew that the redcoats would wait until they could see the white of his eyes before they took a shot at him. By that time it would be too late. There was only one way that she could warn Remy.

He was only yards from the inn when the shot rang out. His stallion whinnied and rose up on his hind legs. Skillfully, he brought the animal back under control. Those damn redcoats! How had they known he would come? Sabine ... What of Sabine? There was a momentary check in his actions before another shot rang off. Ducking the bullets, he tried to get closer to the inn, tried to get to Sabine's side before those cursed redcoats got to her first.

"This way!" called out a voice. Remy stiffened. A bullet tore through his arm, nicking his biceps. With a low French curse, he steered his horse in the direction of the voice.

"Joseph Thompson?" He recognized the son of the innkeeper's peer. "What are you doing here?"

The man's eyes were wild. "They killed her!" he rasped, tears falling down his cheeks. "The redcoats killed her!"

"Who?" Remy asked. There was a chill deep inside him. He had a feeling he knew who it was Joseph was talking about.

"Sabine!" wept the man, "I didn't mean for it to happen! I didn't know they were going to hurt her! I just ... I just wanted to be rid of you!" Joseph's expression turned feral once more. "You were taking her away from me!"

"They killed Sabine?" A void filled Remy's soul. Not Sabine. Not his beautiful, auburn-haired love. They were going west the next week to start a new life and a new family. They had so many hopes and dreams. Red washed over the highwayman's eyes. Those damn redcoats! It wasn't enough that they took his country's lands and taxed his people to death but they also took the last bit of light from his life. They took his Sabine.

A bellow of rage tore it's way out of his lungs. He shrieked a curse to the Heavens. Not paying heed to anything except for the anger deep within him, Remy spurred his horse back towards the inn, his rapier drawn high towards the devils before him. The horse's side bled and foamed from the spurs then from the bullets that cleaved into its body. Yet Remy kept going, roaring. One bullet hit his shoulder, another tore into his side. He kept going, determined to kill the red coated monsters. Six shots it took to bring the highwayman down. He lay in a pool of blood on the highway just a few yards from the inn door.

"Well." Essex stood. He picked up the musket on the floor beside the dead tavern maid. A pitiful waste. The musket would have to be thrown away since blood had gotten into every crevice.

"Get rid of the bodies," he commanded, "I don't care how. Throw them into the woods for all I care. The world's a better place without those two jokes of nature."

Private Summers was trembling. He wanted to vomit but knew he couldn't. Red was stained everywhere. The hunter's moon shone crimson that night, red as the blood on the maiden's chest, red as the stained floor ... red as the blood that poured out into the highway where the Remy LaFayette lay. With a deep breath, he exited the room.

And still on a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon the cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding--
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door


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