Despite her exhaustion and the lateness of the hour, Rogue
was simply unable to fall asleep. After more than half an
hour of tossing and turning, she finally rose from her bunk.
Walking over to the small closet in her cabin, she reached
inside it and withdrew a long robe to cover herself. That
accomplished, she left her room and quietly made her way down
the corridor to the galley, in hopes that a glass of warm
milk would help her get some rest.
Or warm pseudo-milk, anyway, she mused wryly.
Look at the bright side, gal -- this jus' may be the last
artificial food ya have ta swallow foh a long time. At least
until the next time ya have to fly commercial back on good
ol' Earth, anyway, she thought with a smile.
She hit the requisite sequence of keys on the dispenser,
and after a minute, the slightly steaming beverage was discharged
into the waiting container. Picking it up, Rogue padded over
to the table, and sat down with a sigh.
Not long ta wait now -- an' God only knows what we'll
find when we get there.
Shivering, she took a sip of the milk.
Although the 'seventh sense' she had absorbed from Carol
hadn't made itself known often, it was tingling now -- and
that only reinforced her feeling that whatever they did find
on Earth -- it was going to be bad.
However, Rogue also had a more direct cause for unease. If
that ship that had nearly killed them was the Phalanx
-- she had had a glimpse of what plans the techno-organic
creatures had for Earth ...
She had almost lost, had almost ceased to be herself and
almost completely transformed into Phalanx-Rogue. While the
process was executing, two things had happened: her memory
-- her being -- was downloading to the Phalanx's central
matrix; and the operating directives and initiatives of a
Phalanx unit were uploading to her brain.
She had fought, but it was useless -- layer after layer of
her was stripped from her mind, and replaced with it.
The process was almost complete -- but there was one layer
that the Phalanx could not strip away. The last piece of her,
the only piece that held a link, however tenuous, to all the
other layers the Phalanx had already taken. It had realized
that the absorption would not be final, the fight would not
be truly over, until this last part of her was neutralized
-- her love for Remy.
As the Phalanx had fragmented her mind, her rationalizations,
her justifications, her reasonings had been forcibly removed,
leaving her briefly with pure emotion. After all, logical
processes were that much easier for the techno-organic beings
to assimilate -- they followed patterns of thought. Not so
with emotions, hence why that part of her had been left to
For that brief instant, with her mind laid bare of logical
illusions, she fully realized the depth of that love -- only
to know that the Phalanx would strip her of that next -- and
she held on to it with all the strength of will of what small
part of her was still her own. But it was a losing
Gambit had appeared just as her being was almost extinguished,
his words and determination fortifying the link to her other
memories, allowing her to fight back, and regain her self
from the Phalanx. Had he not intervened ...
From that time, there had been too much to do to really think
about what had almost happened to her. She and the others
had had to prepare for battle, make an appearance at the victory
festivities, then deal with the damage to their vessel --
she hadn't had the time or the opportunity to reflect on the
experience. But now ...
She began shaking in delayed reaction. Rogue violently thrust
the glass away from her, sending it crashing into the far
wall, and fought down the urge to be sick. She drew her knees
up to her chest, holding them tight against her body, and
rocked back and forth, as silent sobs wracked her slender
frame. She was so lost in the horror of the memory, she didn't
even hear the fast approaching footsteps.
"Rogue?" Gambit called out anxiously.
He hadn't yet gone to sleep, and was just going through some
routine exercises with the Force before going to bed, as was
now his custom. Remy had extended his awareness, locating
each occupant of the ship -- but when he had found Rogue in
the galley, his empathic sense kicked in for some reason.
Curious, he gently brushed a tendril of Force against her
mind once more -- then immediately left his room.
He could feel that her emotions, stretched and frayed after
this mission to a greater extent than she would ever willingly
admit, were at the breaking point -- and the dam was about
to burst. At first, he walked, but as he felt her distress
increase, he picked up his pace. Before he was halfway to
his destination, he was at a dead run.
He burst into the galley to find Rogue sitting in a tight
ball, trembling uncontrollably, oblivious to his calling her
name. Remy just managed to restrain himself from simply rushing
toward her and taking her into his arms. As much as he wanted
to do just that, he retained enough presence of mind to realize
that in her terrified state, doing so would probably frighten
her even more. With her strength, and the degree of her fear,
startling her was the last thing he wanted to do.
Moving slowly enough so as not to aggravate her panicked
condition, but as quickly as he dared, he went in front of
the chair where she was sitting, and sank down on one knee,
trying to catch her eye.
"Rogue ... ? Chère, please ... jus' look at me ..."
At first, she appeared not to hear him, but after he repeated
his plea she raised her head slightly, peering over her knees
to glance at him. Her eyes were red-rimmed, wide with fear
and shiny with tears -- but there was a flicker of returning
sanity in them as well.
"Dat's right, Rogue ... jus' look at me ... it safe
now. You're all right, an' you safe ... jus' look at me ...
breathe deep ... that's de way ... it's okay, chère ..."
He continued his soothing monologue, reinforcing his soft
words with the Force, until the wildness left her eyes and
she slowly began to uncurl her body.
Tentatively, he reached out, and gently placed his hand on
her knee, relieved when she didn't flinch away at his touch.
"Rogue ... what happened?" he asked tenderly.
She shook her head, mutely refusing to answer, as she fought
back the tears. Gambit opened his arms, and slowly moved to
put them around her shoulders. She shook her head again, but
this time, she managed to speak.
"You cain't ... Ah'm not dressed foh ... " she
began miserably, but Remy cut her off in a voice that was
gruff, but still gentle.
"Mebbe you ain', but I am," he said, gesturing
to the Shi'ar uniform he wore which covered him from the neck
down, "an' right now, you need dis more than I need t'
worry 'bout y' power. So come here."
This time, she didn't resist his embrace -- she clung to
him desperately as her tears began again.
"Talk t' me, Rogue ... take y' time, an' tell me what
happened ..." he said soothingly.
Slowly, she managed to gasp it out between her sobs. How
the Phalanx had casually shredded her self, piece by
piece. How she knew from the preliminary Phalanx directives
that they were emplacing in her mind in place of her that
they would store what information from her memories was useful,
and purge the remainder. How the process was virtually complete
... and then she had heard his voice.
How her greatest dread was losing herself -- and it had all
"An' Ah ... I don't know what's worse," she sobbed,
"what they did ta me ... or knowin' that ... Ah'm jus'
like them ..."
Remy gripped her shoulders with such strength that had it
not been for Rogue's invulnerable skin, he would have left
"You are not'ing like them," he said fiercely.
"Yes, I am ... they stripped me of me ... jus'
like Ah did ta Carol ...jus' like I do ta everybody ..."
"Non -- what you do ain' like that. I know what
y' touch does -- an' it ain' like that," Gambit replied,
giving her a firm shake, then pulling her in tight to his
"They raped you, chère.You might be a t'ief, Rogue --
but you're no rapist."
He continued to hold her, stroking her hair as he spoke.
"The people y' touch keep their memories -- it might
take some time for dem to come back, but they're still there.You
don't pull part of a person away -- y' power takes the memories
into y' own head, but manages t' leave 'em where they belong
at de same time. That's what y' touch does. An' that ain't
what those bastards did t' you. You ain' like them."
Rogue moved her face from his shoulder and changed position
so that she could meet his gaze. She honestly had had no idea
about what her power felt like to the people she touched,
and had been horrified to realize that it could be like what
she had gone through at the hands of the Phalanx. If that
was what it was like for Carol, for Cody, for Belle -- she'd
kill herself before she ever touched anyone again. But if
what Remy said was true -- she had to see his face, had to
know that he was really telling the truth ...
"Really?" she asked in a small voice, her eyes
pleading for reassurance.
While Remy was an accomplished con artist, there was no artifice
in his face, his eyes, or his voice -- he wasn't trying to
convince, he was stating a fact as he knew it. That was all
the proof Rogue needed.
"Would ya ... would you jus' hold me foh a bit longer?"
He smiled at her.
"You don' know how long I been waitin' t' hear you say
dat, chère," he replied, relieved to hear a tearful laugh
from her as she leaned into his shoulder again.
After several minutes, Rogue gently disengaged.
"Thank you, Remy," she said softly.
"You sure you're all right, chèrie?" he asked,
Rogue shivered slightly, but her nod was firm.
"Yes ... Ah'm sure. It's jus' that ... it's like it
all came down on me at once ..."
Gambit nodded somberly.
"Post-traumatic reaction, chère -- it's happened t'
all of us at some point," he said.
His voice was slightly distant as he spoke, and a pained
expression quickly passed over his mobile features before
he could suppress it.
"I'll be all right now that Ah've at least had a chance
ta let it out some ..."
Already, although still slightly shaken, Rogue was beginning
to sound like her usual self.
"Once we get back an' t'ings settle down, might still
be a good idea f' you t' talk to someone 'bout what happened
t' you -- Jean, maybe," Remy suggested.
He knew that Rogue was almost as much of a private person
as he was himself, and never really cared for discussing personal
matters -- most especially her insecurities about her power
-- but after what she had been through, it was probably wise.
"Maybe -- Ah'll think about it."
Y' almost lost her f' good -- an' there's more she ain'
tellin' ya. But then, why should she ? You never tol' her
anyt'ing ... take it as a sign, pup. Ya want it so dat y'
goin' to pass up your best chance t' make things right ? Or
at least make a start?
"Bien. An' Rogue, " he said hesitantly, "when
we're home ... soon as we get a chance -- I think mebbe it's
time we finished dat talk we started in Seattle."
"Ya mean that talk you started, then finished 'fore
it really began," she said reproachfully.
Ouch -- even after de girl's jus' been t' Hell an' back,
she's still shootin' on target.
"I know I deserved that, chèrie, " he admitted,
" but dis time, I'll talk. That is ... if y' still want
"Ah do want that, Remy -- as much as I evah did. An'
I'm gonna hold ya ta that offer."
"D'accord, Rogue," he replied -- then he noticed
the mess on the floor.
"Came in f' a snack?"
"Yeah ... Ah couldn't get ta sleep, an' I thought it
might help. But then I ... kinda lost mah appetite."
She rose from her chair, and moved to clean it up, but Gambit
"Don' worry -- I'll take care of it. Go on now -- y'
need your sleep."
"Remy, ya don't have ta ... "
"I know I don' -- but I want to," he interrupted.
"Y' go get some rest."
Rogue opened her mouth to protest again, but then thought
better of it, and nodded.
As she went to leave, she hesitated, then looked back to
Got ta face it sometime, gal ...
" On the station ... 'fore ya got me loose -- Ah meant
what I said. "
Rogue looked at him intently, seeking some kind of reaction
that might tell her that what they had had could be restored
in time -- but she was disappointed. Remy's face was unreadable
as he answered her.
Ya finally know that you're in love with someone ... jus'
ta find out there's no goin' back ...
Masking the depth of her hurt as best she could, she bit
her lower lip, and sadly nodded acknowledgement -- but as
she moved to the door, he stopped her with his voice.
Almost unwillingly, she turned.
"So did I," Gambit said quietly.
The expression he had denied her before was present now --
and it filled the emptiness in her heart.
Her eyes began to mist again -- with relief, this time --
and she gave him a small smile.
"Good night, Remy."
"Bonne nuit, ma chèrie."
As she made her way back to her cabin, she felt a weight
lift from her soul. Since she had returned with Joseph, Remy
had been cold. In his jealousy, he had been unable to see
her relationship with the former Magneto as anything other
than a betrayal. As a result, her temper had often gotten
the better of her when Remy made his resentment known. Their
sniping had caused the rift between them to grow wider and
wider. Every time one of them had decided to make an attempt
to bridge that gap, either pride or temper on the other's
part caused it to backfire. Until now ...
Momma always said the only time it's too late ta do something
is when you're dead. Maybe ... there's a chance foh us after
Continued in Chapter
" To win one hundred victories of one
hundred battles is not the acme of skill: to subdue the enemy
without fighting is the acme of skill. " -- Sun-Tzu,
The Art of War
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