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"Loose Ends"

Loose Ends

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

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 Just be sure to remove the nospam. This story takes place about 10 years after Gambit's trial.

Loose Ends

Part 1


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.

"'Allo Henri."

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 days."

The answer was curt, the words clipped, as if it hurt to speak them.

"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 same circumstances.

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, okay?'

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. 'Bout you?"

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 this call?"

"Well . . . uhhh . . ." the Cajun hesitated a moment before continuing, "I was wonderin' if I could talk t' Rogue."

*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?"

"Of course."

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 . . . concrete."

"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?"


"Be careful."

"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.

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 arms.

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 2


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