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"Gamble of Life"

Gamble of Life

Chapter 1
Chapter 2

This story is in progress.

Disclaimer: None of this, except for the art and the story, is mine, it's Marvel's
Note: Thanks to Ana for her comments about chapter 1. She kinda reminded me of 'gamble', and I finally realized that 'child of death' isn't the only story that is waiting to be written :)
I know, I'm a lazy, doughnut munching couch potato, that is more eager to read than to write fanfics. I'm sorry that this chapter took so long :)
My sincerest thanks also to Michi-chan, who helped me typewrite this chapter and made great contributions to improve the style :)

Gamble of Life

Chapter 2

"All X-Men report to the War Room!" Cyclop's voice yelled through the intercom. Remy winced and nearly dropped his breakfast.

"Could anyone PLEASE tell Cyke ta calm down or switch off de intercom?"

Rogue grinned and turned the volume of the com down to a bearable measure.

"Merci, Roguie, ya saved dis cajun's life!"

"Oh, really?" an evil grin appeared on her face and she turned the volume fully on. Unluckily Cyclops repeated the order at this moment and he yelled even louder. When the ringing in his ears had stopped, Remy glanced at Rogue angrily. He took a cornflake, charged it with kinetic energy and snipped it over to her. Rogue dodged it easily, but Bishop, who had just entered the kitchen, didn't. The charged flake landed straight in his face, exploding with a tiny cloud of smoke.

"Oops, je suis désolé, mon ami." Gambit lifted his hands in a defensive way when Bishop's face became more and more sinister and angry. Rogue took a few steps back to get out of the danger zone when he slowly walked towards the Cajun. Suddenly he stopped and looked down at Remy.

"Cyclops called us to the War Room. I wanted to pick you up."

Then, he turned around and walked out of the kitchen, rubbing the place on his nose where the flake had hit it.

Rogue slouched in her seat in the blackbird and looked out of the window.

Great, another one of these fantastic missions where we have to fight some supervillainous mutant who threatens humankind. And what will happen? After risking our lives we'll see some news on TV about the outlaw mutant gang called X-Men, who caused trouble again.

She growled disgusted. Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder and jerked up.

"Easy, chère. 'S jus' me. I happened ta notice ya're a bit uneasy 'bout de mission, aren't ya? What's wrong, chère?"

Rogue looked up at Remy and her emerald eyes met his red-on-black ones. It should be up to her to cheer him up. She remembered very well Cyke's gaze when he had informed the team about the upcoming fight against Sinister. Ever since Remy's dark secrets concerning Essex had been revealed at the so-called trial, Cyclops had been untrustful towards the cajun. And Remy had very well noticed that Scott considered him to be an additional, unnecessary risk to the mission. As if he would turn his back to the X-Men - after years of fighting side by side with them, the group where the guys were, that mattered most to him - to rejoin Sinister's Marauders. But Scott had never liked Gambit, so he was most likely to think the worst of him. And he would observe Remy's every step during the mission to ensure his loyalty towards the X-Men. Rogue knew this annoyed her cajun teammate. But nonetheless he was there to cheer her up. Rogue smiled at him to show she appreciated his care for her.

"Nothing, shugah. Ah'm just a bit tired of those 'villain shows up, we show up, villain's defeated'- missions."

Gambit grinned wickedly.

"Would ya prefer a 'villain shows up, we show up, we're defeated'-mission?"

She had to laugh.

"Well, at least that would be something new."

They both laughed out loud, till tears flooded their eyes, and their bad mood had disappeared.

"Now, now, my dear fellow teammates. We're heading for a very serious mission. May I ask you why you're laughing while danger, probable injuries, or worse, a bad TV program awaits us?"

Hank McCoy aka the Beast peeked over the backrest of Rogue's seat. He grinned at his two teammates, showing that he appreciated a bit fun in their all to serious lives. Especially when two of his teammates were concerned, who had very little to laugh about recently. But before any of them could respond to Hank's teasing, Cyclops turned around saying:

"Okay, let's move! Storm and her team will check the lab and make sure that the files are save. My team will deal with the Marauders. Stop them from getting into the lab at any costs."

Rogue let the hot water trickle down her body. She yawned and closed her eyes. The mission had been like she had predicted. It had been easy for them to defeat the Marauders - since Sabretooth hadn't been with them this time - and they had secured the computer files concerning the Legacy Virus. Nom she was tired and every muscle in her body was tense and ached. She stepped out of the shower, wrapped in a towel, not caring that water still dripped from her wet hair.

In her bedroom she started to dry her hair with a towel and closed her eyes, trying to relax.

What's wrong with me? Ah nevah felt so entirely tired and indifferent. It seems ta me that Ah'll nevah get rid of that somber mood again.

She sat down on the windowsill and watched the sunset. She saw her reflection in the glass of the window and wondered when she had become this. She saw the fatigue in her features and the obvious depressive mood in her face.

Rogue remembered her childhood. When she had been a little girl, she had been full of energy, with bright, brilliant eyes and a clever mind. But especially she had been a dreamer.

She remembered her mother telling her fairy tales about heroes and beautiful women. They always had had to fight very hard, but in the 'Happy End' every struggle had been forgotten.

She remembered herself looking out of the window and dreaming of her knight in shining armor, that would protect her and momma from daddy when he was drunk. Dreaming of her heroe thet would never let anyone harm her and prevent the other kids from calling her freak because of her unusually colored hair. Instead, he would make them play with her and be her friends. She has had one friend, Cody, but that one wouldn't have stood up for her. His momma hasn't liked her and had forbidden her son to be her friend. Rogue remembered.

She remembered the day Cody had broken the rules to meet her. And kiss her.

She remembered too well her powers manifesting themselves for the first time and she remembered Cody falling into a coma. She had been older then, not dreaming of her knight anymore. But of Prince Charming. Even after the Cody Robbins incident, she had hoped for her prince to come and rescue her. Take her away from the people in Caldecott calling her a vampire freak, who drains the life out of people. Take her away from her mother accusing her of causing her daddy to rage and hurt. Take her away from her mother sobbing and excusing for her harsh words. Take her away from her once beautiful and kind, now broken mother not being able to take the pain anymore and committing suicide. Take her away from pain and hurt.

But her prince hadn't shown up, and she had made her was herself. And even more pain and hurt had awaited her. But whatever had happened to her, no matter how desperate she had been, she had always believed in her prince to come and taker her to a better life. Since she had been a child, she had believed in magic. And in that magical emotion called 'True Love'. In spite of her powers, in spite of her crimes, she had always believed that there was a little amount of magic in the world, that was supposed to lead her to her true love, to luck and happiness, to a better life where nothing and no one would harm her. Once she had thought she had found it in Remy.

Rogue looked at her reflection with disgust twisting her face. Magic! She wondered how she could have ever been so naive.

Remy moaned while he put on his uniform. These continuous battles annoyed him. He preferred a show in big style with a spectacular final, not little struggles spread over weeks. Essex and his petty Marauders were really getting on his nerves.

An' de same goes fer de ot'ers. Never seen Roguie so tired.

He pushed the thought away. Rogue occupied his thoughts too much already, but as someone who had had to learn early to survive, he knew he'd better concentrate on the mission now. Distraction could cost him his life. Sinister wasn't a merciful one.

He went to the War Room without knowing what kind of trouble the Marauders caused this time. He was late. Scott had already finished his speech

Lucky me, Remy thought, grinning.

The X-Men were already about to leave for the Hangar Bay when Scott held him back

"Gambit, you're late. Storm'll inform you about the details of the mission."

Cyclops looked at him accusingly and Remy hurried to catch up to his friend.

"Bonjour, Stormy. So what's on today's schedule?"

"First, don't call me that ridiculous name. Second, we're heading to an empty warehouse. We're suspecting that Sinister hosts a lab there, where he stores his files concerning the Legacy Virus. We'll go in, copy his files and come back. I would be glad if we could solve the problem with him once and for all."

Remy glanced at her surprised. Ororo Munroe had always been a rather peaceful person, who estimated high every living being. It worried him that she even thought about using rather radical measures to stop Sinister. The stress had to be nagging at her as well as at him.

They reached the blackbird and everyone took his seat. It was unusually quiet during the flight. Remy sat next to Rogue, but the southern belle seemed far away in thoughts. She seemed tired and depressive again, but Remy himself wasn't in the mood to cheer someone up either, not today. As he watched her profile, he was nearly overwhelmed by the emotions and thoughts of the last few days. He still loved her, but he had no hope to reconcile with her. How could she love somebody like him? He had committed too many crimes. The Morlock Massacre was entirely his fault and he hated himself for it. He didn't deserve her love, but he had deserved her words in Antarctica. He didn't know why she had offered him her friendship, but maybe that was part of his punishment. Seeing her every day, being near her and far away at the same time, reaching out to her with his heart, but knowing that he'll never have her love again was even harder than leaving her.

Remy jerked up when Cyclops yelled his orders. They had arrived at the warehouse and the fight was near at hand. Again, Remy told himself to concentrate on the mission.

The X-Men entered the warehouse and stopped when they found it dark and empty. Everyone looked around confused, then Logan motioned for them to be quiet and stand still. He laid down on the floor and pressed his ear to the ground. Then he looked at his teammates and pointed down to show them, where their enemies hid. Cyclops motioned silently for them to find ways down, and everyone started to search.

Gambit went straight to a wall and started to palpate it. He grinned mirthlessly, when he heard a soft 'click' and the wall moved slightly to one side, giving him entrance to a dark passage, that was behind the wall. His experiences with Sinister served him at least one time for a good thing. He winked at the others to show them the hidden access to the sublevel lab. They assembled in front of the hole in the wall and entered it.

After a few minutes the passage ended in a coven with a cylindrical hole in it's middle. Light emanated from that hole and the X-men went to the edge to look down. About twenty yards below was the lab, where Sinister was working at the moment. The Marauders slouched on the floor and were obviously bored. The team assembled in silence and Cyclops motioned for them to attack. Rogue flew to Gambit and grabbed him while the other X-men with the ability to fly, whether caused by wings, the control over the weather or telekinesis, took care of their remaining teammates. They flew down, ready to attack the surprised Marauders.

A terrible fight broke out and especially Logan fought with berserker fury. He immediately caught the attention of Sabretooth and their eternal fight went to another round. The other Marauders were no amateurs either and were immediately fighting back with a force that could make one doubt that they've been taken by surprise. But the X-men were prepared and willing to defeat them and soon it was obvious that they would achieve this goal. Sinister stood beside and watched the triumph of his enemies emotionlessly.

Suddenly something like a grin came to his face and he slowly walked towards a box that stood in the corner of his lab. He took out a weapon nearly half as big as a man and far more deadly. It reminded a bit of Bishop's plasma rifles and, like them, seemed a bit alien and in the wrong place - or rather time. Essex pushed a button and a security shield appeared around him. He charged the weapon and called out for the fight to stop.

"X-men," he said with a loud voice, "one blast of this weapon can rip you apart easily. Leave my lab now, or you'll never leave it again!"

Cyclops' answer was an optic blast, but because of the security shield it couldn't even tickle the geneticist.

Sinister smiled devilishly and pulled the trigger. He had aimed at Rogue, who was nearest to him, and stood uncovered. She was airborne and could easily evade the blast, but it hit the wall behind her and a piece of concrete took the X-woman down. Sinister aimed at her again, obviously relishing the very moment.

Remy's heart stopped when he saw the scene unfold in front of him. Rogue was slowly getting up, still dizzy from the former impact and certainly wouldn't manage to evade a second blast.

Remy saw Sinister moving his finger towards the trigger like in slow-move. All he could think was that another blast would harm Rogue. HIS Rogue. He screamed her name, but he couldn't hear his own voice, only his rushing blood. He ran towards her, but his legs didn't seem to belong to his body. He was too slow, he knew that, but he could just hope that Sinister was even slower.

Rogue's eyes fluttered up, her beautiful emerald eyes, and met his ones, confusion written all over her face. She wasn't aware of the situation, the danger, she was in. Remy felt his heart reach out to her and repeated his mantra to not be too late over and over in his head.

When he had diminished the distance between them to a few yards, he leapt. His own perception was still alien to him, as if he would move through viscid syrup. But then he felt Rogue's shoulders in his grip and her body moving out of Sinister's firing line with him. he heard a peculiar noise, like a plasma blast would sound in slow-move, but all he could feel was joy, when he saw Rogue unharmed and protected by his body. Then came the agony.

Storm couldn't believe what she was seeing. The second blast from Sinister's evil weapon had brushed Gambit's back while he was protecting Rogue. Now, his body laid sprawled on the floor of the lab. Ororo prayed to the Bright Lady that her cajun teammate was just unconscious. She saw how Rogue tried to sit up in spite of the numbness her former encounter with concrete had caused her. She saw how the expression of the southern X-woman changed from dizziness to disbelief and finally desperation as she saw Gambit's lifeless form on the floor. She saw her lips move slightly but couldn't hear if she was saying something.

Cyclop's voice snatched her out of her numbness.

"X-men! Retreat!"

Storm called for the powers that have caused her codename and demanded the winds to carry Remy's motionless body to the hole in the ceiling. In the corner of her eye she saw Logan pull Rogue to her feet. She was still apathetic and stumbled several times when he dragged her out of the lab.

Rogue sat in the infirmary, her gaze locked on Remy's pale, lifeless face. Hank was examining him, but the frown on his forehead already told his teammate that he had nothing good to say when he finally was finished.

"Luckily Gambit wasn't fully hit by the blast, but even so, there's not much I can do for him..."

Rogue heard a strangled scream from the door, where Storm was standing, but she couldn't avert her eyes from Remy's still form. She couldn't feel anything at all, except numbness.

" all we can do is hope. I don't understand..." Hank continued and winced at the last word, "...what this weapon did to him. It is as if the very structure of his body has been torn, though there's no visible bruise. I can't think of a way to treat an injury like that. I can only stimulate his immune system and hope it will be enough."

Storm left the room, sobbing, and Jean followed to comfort her. Hank was studying Remy's medical files and left his southern teammate done with her thoughts.

Rogue's eyes wandered over the Cajun's face as if she wanted to burn every single feature of it into her memory. Like he had burned himself into her soul since the first time she had seen him. Rogue remembered every moment they had spent together. She had once read that ninety nine percent of one's life are daily life. But the remaining one percent, the high and low points, is what defines you as a person and forms your character.

Being an X-men meant having much more than one percent of these times in her life, but even there you could define highs and lows. And Remy had been there - or even caused most of them. Rogue remembered how he had made her feel. Overjoyed when she had thought she'd never feel joy again, and devastated when she had thought that nothing could hurt her anymore. But most of all he had made her love again when she had felt condemned to a loveless life and he had made her feel loved when even she couldn't have loved herself.

Yes, Remy LeBeau had caused some of the lowest points in her life, but now she realized that he never did it intentionally. She had been devastated when she had found out that he wasn't an angel at all, but now she realized that he had been HER angel all along. He wasn't that knight or Prince Charming, that you recognize immediately because of his shining armor and clean slate, but suddenly Rogue knew that this man in the infirmary bed would try his best to be anything she ever needed or wanted. And she knew what she wanted. She wanted HIM.

When this realization struck her, she noticed that she had known this all along, but the knowledge had been locked up in her subconsciousness. Now it had worked it's way outside when she had seen her beloved's body lifeless on the floor of Sinister's lab. She had whispered his name then, but it had been as if she had spoken it for the first time.

After Rogue had absorbed Ms. Marvel, she had often prayed for the saving of her soul, but had stopped when no answer from above had arrived. Now she saw this answer in front of her, and Rogue started to pray again.

She woke up with a start when the Beast softly touched her shoulder, hoping for the best, but fearing the worst. She still held Gambit's hand, even in sleep she hadn't let go of it. She looked up at Hank McCoy's tired but smiling face.

"I don't know to which gods you prayed, my dear Mississippian mudcake, but make sure to thank them. Our cajun friend is recovering with an unbelievable speed. He will soon wake up."

Rogue's eyes grew wide and her mouth opened, but nothing came out. Several expressions crossed her face and suddenly she ran out of the infirmary, leaving a confused, blue-furred doctor behind.

Rogue sat on the roof, as always when she was brooding. She didn't know what to feel. Of course she was thankful and relieved that Remy was alright, but she was also anxious to meet him. Having finally gained clarity about her feelings and dealing with them were two entirely different things. She was afraid of meeting Gambit, of looking in his eyes and not seeing love for her anymore. She had done terrible things to him, although he had always been kind to her. Okay, maybe he had 'betrayed' the X-men, by not telling them about his past (although nobody knew everything about HER past, either, but nobody seemed to care), but she had betrayed him and the love they had once shared.

But nonetheless he had risked his life to save her back in Essex' lab. Did that mean he still loved her? And, if yes, would he still love her after the injuries he had endured because of her?

When she had arrived at this point, she heard someone open the window behind her. Rogue caught her breath when Remy climbed out. They stared at each other in silence, but then Rogue cleared her throat.

"Uhm...hi!" she said

"Hi." he answered with a peculiar tone in his voice. He was obviously waiting for her to say something.

"Ah'm glad y'all're fine again, Gambit."

"Hank wouldn't lemme go yet. But ya know how much I hate infirmaries."

Rogue answered in the affirmative, then there was silence again. Finally, she pulled herself together and looked right into her former lover's eyes.

"Remy, Ah ... uhm ... thank ya. Ah mean for pushin' me outta Sinister's fire line. For getting hurt in order ta protect me."

"Ya're welcome" he mumbled, still with this peculiar voice. It seemed that Rogue thanking him wasn't what he had hoped for.

"But why?", Rogue continued with a small voice. "Ah mean, I'm nearly invulnerable, I coulda taken this blast more easily than y'all did. Why did y'all risk yoah life jus' ta spare me a little pain?"

"Mebbe ya don't t'ink very rationally when de woman ya love more dan anyt'ing in de world is concerned." he whispered staring at his feet.

"But Ah ... Ah thought y'aa'd hate me after all that Ah've done ta ya."

"Chère, I could never hate you." Remy looked at her with sad eyes. "But I understand it if you hate me. I've done terrible things in my past, ya must consider me a monster."

Rogue felt a sting in her heart when she heard this.

"No, shugah, nevah. The Morlock Massacre wasn't yoah fault. Ya nevah harmed anyone intentionally. Y'all're not responsible foah what happened back then."

A flicker of hope went on in Remy's soul, but it wasn't bright enough to light this doubtful place.

"If ya really t'ink dat way, chère, why was de revelation at de trial enough ta make ya leave me ta die?"

His red on black eyes burned like fire in her soul and she had to avert her emerald ones.

"Ah wasn't mahself back there." she finally whispered. "Ah hadn't only absorbed yoah memories, but also yoah mind and attitude towards the Massacre. Yoah blamed yoahself foah it and Ah absorbed that. Normally Ah can deal with alien emotions flooding mah mind, but in Antarctica Ah couldn't sort out which were mah emotions and which yoah's. Maybe that was because Ah felt hurt and betrayed because y'all hadn't trusted me enough ta tell me first-hand. Ah was so disappointed that an evil villain had to show up to reveal a secret y'all weren't willing to reveal yoahself. And then Ah did what Ah'm best at, Ah flew. Ah locked mahself up in the deepest corner of mah mind, just so Ah wouldn't have ta 'feel' anymore. Ah let yoah absorbed emotions wash over me, not realizing that they washed mah own ones away. Or maybe Ah was just too hurt ta care if they did."

"And now?" Remy asked

"And now Ah realized that Ah've nevah proved mahself very trustworthy ta ya. Ah've turned ya down whenever problems occurred. But nonetheless, y'all offered me back in Seattle ta absorb ya and find out all yoah secrets. Ya gave me thousand 'second chances' when Ah would have let ya down immediately if our roles had been reversed. Ya're the best thing that ever happened ta me, Remy LeBeau, and Ah love ya."

Remy felt tears in his eyes when he pulled her close and promised to never let go of her again.


To be continued.

Note: This is just the beginning, so stay tuned!!! The first four parts are just the prelude to the REAL story...
PS: Sorry, I can't write fighting scenes (->the lab ... ugh)


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