Standard disclaimer: The X-Men,
and all the parts there of belong to Marvel. I'm just using
them without their ok. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just be sure to remove the nospam. This story takes place
about 10 years after Gambit's trial.
It was an annoying sound, but one that had become common
place over the last few days at the Xavier Institute. The
lion's share of the calls were for one Dr. Henry McCoy, scientist,
mutant, and, as of last week, the man who discovered the cure
for the Legacy Virus.
Because of his dedication and outstanding work, Dr. McCoy
was almost certainly guaranteed a Nobel Prize. He was also
guaranteed constant hounding by the news media; the phone
had been ringing off the hook. These minor annoyances were
usually handled by newer members of the X-Men. Unfortunately,
Professor Xavier believed that training sessions were far
more important for the development of their mutant powers
than acting as McCoy's private secretaries, therefore the
junior members were currently in the danger room, running
a training exercise with the senior members of the team.
Which left the Nobel Laureate in waiting alone to fend off
his adoring public. Not that he minded his adoring public.
It was just . . .
You'd think that with all his money, Charles could at
least invest in an answering machine. Ah me, I suppose I must
deal with the plethora of calls sometime.
Bounding down the mansion's main hallway, which meant bouncing
off both walls and the ceiling in addition to the floor, the
Beast got to the phone before the fourth ring. He paused a
moment to check the Caller ID with a grimace before picking
up the handset.
He'll pay for Caller ID, for surely Cain Marko or even
Mr. Sinister will call to arrange an attack. But request a
simple answering machine...
He let the thought go as he checked the display. The caller's
identification was blocked.
Hmmm, I believe Magneto's the only super villain who bothers
with star-67 anymore.
Chuckling to himself he picked up the handset.
"Xavier Institute, Dr. Henry McCoy - bouncing, blue
genius speaking. How may I direct your call?"
A soft laugh returned his greeting. Low and long, it was
a laugh McCoy hadn't heard in at least a decade. In fact,
he thought he'd never hear again; he'd come to believe its
owner had long since 'shuffled off his mortal coil'. It sent
a chill down the good doctor's spine, and caused the fur to
stand on the back of his neck.
There was a momentary pause as McCoy gathered his wits. He
sooner expected to hear from Magneto, the Juggernaut, or even
Sinister than . . .
"Oh my stars and garters . . . Gambit?'
McCoy heard a sharp intake of breath over the phone.
"Not f'a long time now. Jus' plain ol' Remy LeBeau dese
The answer was curt, the words clipped, as if it hurt to
"Oh . . . . . I see." It wasn't often McCoy spoke
with a ghost from the past. The usually verbose scientist
was nonplused, but he forged on anyway.
"It's been a long time, Gam . . . er Remy."
"Oui, more'n ten years." LeBeau's voice dropped
minutely. "Ain't seen ya since d'trial."
McCoy felt both a twinge of regret and a pang of guilt at
the mention of the trial. Personally, he had never truly blamed
the Cajun for what happened to the Morlocks *or* the ensuing
cover- up. He'd gotten involved with the wrong people, in
what was apparently a vulnerable time for the, then young,
mutant. When the situation turned bad, he had done his best
to rectify it.
Surely Gambit was no angel, and his culpability had to be
acknowledged and dealt with, but redemption was as much a
part of being an X-Men as was the spandex. McCoy believed
that Gambits actions since joining the team spoke loudly in
his favor. He further believed, strongly, that certain other
X-Men he knew would not have fared any better in given the
As far as keeping his involvement secret - McCoy couldn't
blame him. What was the Cajun to do? Walk up to Warren, extend
his hand and say 'Hi, I'm Remy LeBeau. I assembled the Marauders.
I'm going to be living here for a while. Let's be friends,
The majority of the others didn't see it that way. After
awhile, Hank stopped trying to argue the point.
"Well, what have you been up to this decade past, my
Cajun compadre?" Beast grimaced at his use of the word
'compadre'; it had inexplicably slipped out. He breathed an
inward sigh of relief when Gambit didn't respond to it.
"Oh, you know. A little bit a' dis, a little bit a'
dat. Keepin' outta trouble f'r th' first time in m' life.
The question hit squarely in the ego. Hank's discovery had
been in almost every paper and magazine, and he'd been on
all the major networks talking about his discovery for the
past week. He'd assumed, naturally, that Remy had heard about
the discovery and was calling to congratulate him. Apparently,
that wasn't the case.
Pride does go before a fall, Beast reminded himself.
He replied into the phone, "Well, not to toot my own
tuba, but I've recently discovered a cure for the Legacy Virus.
A vaccine should be widely available very soon."
Gambit sounded genuinely surprised, and pleased.
"Really!? Dat's great, Henri. I s'pose dat's been in
d' news, but I'm pretty isolated. I don't see d' papers or
t.v. much no more."
I wonder if that means solitary? Maybe this is his one
phone call. McCoy silently admonished himself for being
so petty. The conversation was beginning to make Hank uneasy.
He nervously twisted the phone cord between his fingers .
. . . And toes.
"Soooooooooooo . . . to what do we owe the honor of
"Well . . . uhhh . . ." the Cajun hesitated a moment
before continuing, "I was wonderin' if I could talk t'
*Old habits die hard, eh old friend?*
"She's currently training in the danger room, but I
could probably interrupt her session if you'd like."
"Yeah, please . . . .How she doin', Hank?" McCoy
heard genuine concern in Gambit's voice. That boded well.
"Splediferously. She's been promoted to the Blue Team
leader, and she is thriving under the responsibilities."
"What happened t' Summers?"
"Fearless leader and his beautiful wife are still with
us. Mr. Summers has been bumped up, so to speak, to a more
strategic command. He oversees the two teams for the Professor.
He rarely goes into the field now."
Hank suddenly had the sinking feeling he was talking too
much; he hadn't seen Gambit in over ten years. He also didn't
know the *real* reason behind his call. The Cajun could have
fallen into the category of 'disgruntled ex-worker.' The image
of Gambit going 'postal' was disquieting, to say the least.
The Cajun seemed to sense his sudden uneasiness, gently asking
"Could ya' get Rogue f' me, please."
"Uhmmm, sure. Let me put you on hold."
"T'anks Beast. It was good talkin' t' ya."
"Gambit . . . "
There was a pause, as if LeBeau debated whether or not to
respond to that name.
"I know it probably doesn't matter much now, but I never
held you responsible."
There was silence on the other end.
Finally the Cajun spoke, his voice low. "I know dat,
Beast . . . T'anks . . . Now can ya' get Rogue?"
Dead silence reigned in the danger room as the echo of Beast's
words faded away. Slowly, a smile started to play across Marrow's
lips: she'd been waiting for this day for a long time.
Forbidden to hunt the Cajun by the 'great' Charles Xavier,
she contented herself with waiting, knowing that, with patience,
one day she'd get her chance. She shot a sidelong glance over
at Leech, but his face was impassive. She'd have to have a
word with him. Later.
Wolverine, who was standing next to her placed a hand on
her shoulder as if to say 'don't get too worked up over this'.
She ignored the implied message.
Slowly, and without looking at anyone, Rogue started toward
the exit. Her heart had started at the mention of Remy's name.
It took her twelve long, miserable months before she could
admit to herself she still had a jones for him. Bad. Wiping
sweat from her brow she responded.
"Ah'll take it in mah room, Hank."
"Of course. I'll let him know."
Voices rose as the danger room doors opened, Jubilee's louder
than the rest.
"I can't believe that Gumbo is calling after all these
years. HEY! Maybe he wants to come back; it'd be nice to have
someone 'cool' around here for a change."
"I'll show you cool, baby."
"Knock it off, Drake. You are such a looooser!"
"If he comes back, the only 'cool' thing you'll find
is his lifeless corpse."
"No Wind Rider, not this time. Not this man. I've waited
too long, lost too much . . . "
The Danger Room doors snapped shut, cutting off Marrow, and
leaving Rogue in the corridor, alone with her thoughts. Now
that her teammates were out of view, she picked up her pace.
Although she didn't want to appear overly anxious in front
of the rest of the X-Men, she didn't want Remy to hang up;
this was his first attempt to contact her in ten years.
Actually, it was the second attempt, but she didn't count
the other one. It happened about a year after Gambit's 'trial'.
He'd given her twelve months to mull over her actions, and
come to regret them. Deeply.
The team had just rescued the Professor from the old 'Hulkbuster
base' he had been held in since before Operation Zero Tolerance.
To celebrate his liberation, the entire team went out for
dinner, and not to Harry's either, the Professor actually
treated everyone to dinner at Tavern on the Green. It was
a wonderful night, despite the fact that she still ached for
Remy, even though she wouldn't admit it, not even to herself,
not just yet. The fact that she had no idea whether he was
dead or alive made it worse. Storm had *just* begun to speak
civilly to her again, and everyone was in a fine mood. That
mood changed, for her at least, when she got home.
It had been a long day, so she refused Bobby's flirtatious
offer to stay up late and watch some 'really old, really bad'
movie, and went straight to her room. As soon as she opened
the door, she knew Gambit had been there, even though there
were no readily apparent sign. Her 'gut' instinct was confirmed
by the torn playing card on her pillow. It was lying there,
face down, in two pieces. She flipped the ragged scraps over
and gasped, tears beginning to well: It was the queen of hearts,
and the words 'my heart' were written across it's face. Clutching
the two pieces, she had cried herself to sleep that night.
To her knowledge, he had never tried to contact her or any
of the other X-Men again. Until now.
Nervously, Rogue activated her comm. badge and hailed Hank.
"Nobel Laureate in waiting here. What horrific disease
shall I vanquish today? I am taking requests!"
Rogue smiled. Hank deserved all the credit he was giving
himself, and more.
"Hank, sugah. How'd he sound?"
"Ahhhh, Rogue. I was expecting you." There was
a slight pause as he looked down to see if Gambit was still
on the line.
"He's still holding, my dear, if that's any indication."
"Well, Ah was hoping for something a little more . .
"He seemed genuinely interested in your welfare . .
. and he didn't sound upset. But you never know."
Rogue was to her room, now. She threw open the door, rushed
in, and shut it behind her before she answered.
"Thanks, Hank. I'm ready t' pick up know. Wish me luck."
"Always, Rogue . . . And, Rogue?"
"I will, Hank, and thanks. I'm signin' off, now."
With that, she broke her connection with Beast before he could
reply, took a deep breath, picked up the telephone handset,
and pushed the blinking button.
"Hello? Remy? You there sugah?"
The chewing gum didn't help. It never did when she flew *in*
an airplane. Flying on her own was fine, but in a plane, forget
it. Hank said it had to do with the cabin pressure, and insisted
she chew gum on every flight, but Rogue wasn't convinced.
Now it had become more of a habit than anything else. So she
chewed her Wrigley's and looked out the window, trying to
ignore the idiot who was siting next to her.
He had started hitting on her *before* she had even sat down.
The clumsiness of his advances were bad enough, but when she
saw the wedding band on his left hand she 'lost it'. Some
people were unaware of the good things they had in their lives.
She informed him, in no uncertain terms, that if he spoke
another word to her she would stuff his briefcase so far down
his throat the handle would have 'skid marks'. He immediately
backed off, although she heard him mutter 'must be a lesbian'
under his breath. She ignored it; she felt too good today
to let some moron ruin it for her.
Rogue sat back, breathing a sigh of relief. The past twenty-four
hours hand been quite . . . 'hectic', to say the least. First
there was the surprise call from Remy, and his request for
her to come and visit him. That was followed by the predictable
melodramatics when she announced her intentions.
There were the cries of rage from Warren, Bobby, and Scott.
Storm, Jubilee, and Jean were supportive, as usual. Wolverine
and Beast each urged caution, no surprises there. The only
real surprise was Charles. He was unusually quiet.
Marrow offered to join her on the trip. Storm had declined
for her before Rogue could open her mouth. Sarah stalked out
of the kitchen in a rage. The rest of the team didn't care
one way or the other: Gambit was before their time.
The debate was short and sweet; she was going, and that was
that. That's how she found herself less than twelve hours
later on Delta flight 238 from LaGuardia to Miami. In Miami
she'd connect to a little 'puddle jumper' for her flight to
Key West. Just the thought of Remy living in the Keys made
her laugh. He was too active for that style of life. Or had
been anyway. She wasn't sure now; ten years was a long time.
The conversation was short but friendly. Rogue had been amazed
at how easily it flowed; like they were together yesterday,
not over a decade ago.
They talked about the X-Men, and what everyone was doing
now. They talked about how she still couldn't control her
power, at least not totally.
She didn't know what he did exactly. All he would tell her
was that he'd gone legit, and when she came down, he would
show her. Having detected no animosity in his voice, although
his lack of information about himself, some things hadn't
changed, was mildly disturbing, she decided there was no reason
she shouldn't go.
She let her mind wander over the years since the trial. She
wondered how things would have been if she hadn't left Remy
in Antarctica. She was reasonably sure she would have left
the X-Men. Gambit probably would have been banished by the
team, and she would have gone with him. She was completely
sure she wouldn't have had that ill-fated affair with Joseph.
That had started innocently enough. She was depressed about
Remy; about what he had done, and what she had done to him.
Rogue was still amazed by how much this one man had screwed
up her life.
Unable to admit her culpability to herself, Rogue had withdrawn
from the team, and into herself. She spent days at a time
in her room, unable to leave it's comforting walls. Joseph
had been so kind, wanting to help in any way. Slowly, he'd
brought her out of herself and back to active duty - just
in time to rescue the Professor. Shortly after she found the
playing card she fell, rebounded she now realized, into Joseph's
Thanks to a slight magnetic field generated by his power,
and the Z'Noxx chamber, Rogue felt the physical closeness
she'd been seeking for so long. It happened only once; the
giddiness she felt at their coupling was overshadowed by the
knowledge that she had given herself to the wrong man.
The end result was regrettable, but inevitable. Joseph left
the team shortly thereafter, realizing he could never compete
with the Cajun's ghost. He ended up moving to Muir Island
and hooking up with Moira.
Rogue threw herself into her work, and redoubled her efforts
to control her power. Hard work, and a harder attitude, paid
off. She was rewarded with more leadership responsibilities,
a minor amount of control over her power, and absolutely
no personal life. She also gave up her dream of a family,
and a house with a white picket fence. Gave them up, until
approximately twelve hours ago.
Continued in Chapter
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