After reading the notice posted in the War Room, written
in Gambit's characteristic script, Cyclops was both surprised,
and more than a little intrigued.
* Curiouser and curiouser ... but then it might mean that
my little mystery is one step closer to being solved * he
" Hello Scott -- what is it that has captured your interest
so? " asked Ororo Munroe as she entered the room.
The co-leader of the X-Men had just finished her daily constitutional
with a round of cloudwalking, and had decided to take in a
quick update of the world's news, and research any likely
hotspots for anti-mutant action.
" It seems that Gambit has seen fit to call a full team
meeting for this afternoon, agenda 'to be announced', "
" Do you know anything about this, Storm? "
" Perhaps, " she said, reading the notice herself.
* So he has chosen to lay his demons to rest at last. It
took much courage simply to confess his deed to myself and
to Rogue, even though the Massacre was not ultimately his
doing. And whatever else Remy has been, he has never been
a coward ... *
" But if his agenda is what I believe it to be, I shall
allow Remy to disclose it himself at the meeting ... "
Humming along to a recording of Mozart's fortieth symphony,
Beast busily continued his examination of Joseph's bloodwork.
He had been unable to detect anything obviously wrong with
the mysteriously de-aged Magneto after the fainting spell
he had suffered, and wanted to be sure that all was well.
* His collapse was accompanied by flashbacks -- that would
seem to go against a simply physical cause. Though I suppose
an ordinary case of exhaustion could be behind it -- or perhaps
some buried post-traumatic stress ... *
While Hank was mulling over the possibilities, his thoughts
were interrupted by an infrequent visitor to the medlab.
" Mornin' Hank -- or rather, afternoon, " Rogue
" Do ya have a few minutes? Ah was wonderin' if I could
talk to you foh a bit ... "
" For you, my dear, I have as many minutes as you like.
To what do I owe the pleasure -- you're feeling well, I hope?
" he questioned in a concerned voice.
Rogue laughed, and gave him a smile that outshone the sun.
" Oh, I'm fine -- nevah better, actually. "
* Rogue seems ... different, somehow. 'Radiant' is one word
that's coming to mind ... and 'bubbly' is another. I wonder
what's going on? * Hank thought curiously.
" So what is it that I can do for you, Rogue? "
" Ah know ya gave me a complete physical last month,
Hank, but there's a few more things Ah'd like you to check
out foh me -- 'specially anythin' an' everything ya know or
may have managed ta figure out 'bout mah power. "
Beast's interest was piqued.
" Certainly -- may I ask why? "
" You may, " Rogue replied with a giggle.
* Lord, Ah'm enjoyin' this. It ain't often I get ta string
Hank along ... *
Having realized that Rogue wasn't going to give him an answer
unless he humoured her, Beast asked the question.
" All right -- why? "
" Well, last night me an' Remy found out that that 'low-grade
potential difference' doohickey he an' Reine have 'cause of
their chargin' power, kinda shorts out mah absorption power.
" Ya heard me, sugah -- an' what Ah want ta know is
just how it happens. An' then, " she said with a resolute
air, " I want ta talk with you and Jean to work out some
things Ah can do ta practise mah control. It's high time and
past it that Ah started workin' on that again. "
Hank's amazement had rapidly given way to a whirlwind of
scientific speculation in his mind as he considered Rogue's
* Yes ... it makes sense, of a sort -- after all, the sense
of touch relies on electrochemical reactions within receptors
in the skin. And it's not a very strong reaction at all ...
quite weak, actually. So slight as that potential difference
may be, it could conceivably be enough to prevent absorption.
And that might explain how Gambit was even able to survive
Israel -- the ambient force field was weaker then, but still
managed to partially shield him. I had conducted a study of
the structure of the receptors within Rogue's skin, but perhaps
it is the reaction itself which is the key ... *
" I'll have to do some experiments, " Hank mused
slowly, not noticing her smile at the word, " but I think
this might finally be the clue we need to really help you,
Rogue. I assume that you've ... um ... tested this already?
" he finished awkwardly.
Rogue's grin was all the answer he needed, but she replied
to the question verbally as well.
" Ah have, at that -- an' I appreciate yoh help. But
the reason Ah want Jean in on this is that I want ta help
mahself. Ah want to control my power, not jus' contain
it. But if it turns out that for whatevah reason Ah cain't
do the first, I'll settle foh the second, " she said,
" It's a fine thing bein' able ta touch one person --
or in this case, probably two -- but it ain't the same as
being able to hug whoevah Ah want without havin' to worry
'bout hurtin' them. An' that's what Ah want, Hank. With all
mah heart. "
" Well, sheer strength of purpose often plays a part
in treating any condition, " Hank smiled, " and
in your case, that's one thing we clearly shan't have to worry
about. But in light of your news, as your physician I do have
one, ah, other concern. "
" An' that is? "
Rogue hadn't thought it was possible to blush through blue
fur, but somehow, Beast managed it.
" You said that you tested the hypothesis with Gambit
last night -- is there ... er ... any other treatment
you might require from me? " he queried delicately.
Rogue looked at him for a moment, puzzled -- then she realized
what Hank was trying to ask her.
" We did not sleep together, " she said
indignantly, then flushed, amending her statement, "
well, we did sleep together, but sleepin' is all we
did. An' even if we did do more than that, Hank -- you're
forgettin' who raised me, " she continued dryly.
* Ah can still hear her voice: 'Just because you can't control
your ability now doesn't make this irrelevant. One
day you will control it, and no daughter of mine is
going to be stupidly irresponsible if I have
anything to say about it'. An' I wasn't -- though Ah guess
Momma would think I came mighty close this mornin' *
" Ya'll can say what ya want about Mystique as a mother,
but you cain't say that she wasn't anythin' other than thorough
when it came to talking 'bout the facts o' life. If Ah needed
any medical help or advice in that way, Hank -- I'd tell ya.
" Good, good ... in light of the information you've
just given me Rogue, I'll re-examine your results. I think
I already have a couple of ideas on how to approach the problem,
which may prove fruitful ... "
" Thanks, sugah. "
Rogue then noticed the time.
" Oops -- Ah gotta run. I have a few things ta take
care of before the meetin' this afternoon. 'Bye Hank, an'
thanks again, " she said over her shoulder.
" You're welcome, " he called after her.
* Hmm ... I wonder if this discovery is what's on Gambit's
agenda for the meeting ? *
Wolverine stalked into the War Room, the last to arrive.
Out of long habit, he immediately headed for his preferred
spot -- the far corner facing the door -- and stood with his
back to the wall.
Gambit was seated at the large table, flanked by Rogue and
Storm, with his sister standing behind him. Most of the other
X-Men were seated, but Warren, Bishop and Sam also remained
on their feet, while Beast hung from the ceiling.
" Well, now that we're all here, Gambit -- why
are we all here? " Scott asked.
Remy took a deep breath to steady himself, then began speaking.
He kept to the basics of what had happened -- how he had found
himself working for Sinister so long ago, and what it was
that he had done -- but he was interrupted as soon as he got
to the part about leading the Marauders into the tunnels.
" You, " Angel hissed, and would have attacked
the other man, had Scott not intervened.
" Warren ! Settle down and let Gambit finish ! "
" After what he did, you're just going to let ... "
Scott interrupted in a voice that was cold steel.
" That was an order, Angel. "
Worthington glared at his old friend in disbelief, but Cyclops
stared him down. Warren closed his mouth with an almost audible
snap, his face flushed with rage, but he remained quiet as
Gambit resumed his tale.
Once Remy had finally finished speaking, there was an almost
unbearable silence -- which was broken by the winged X-Man.
" So it looks as if Bishop was right all along -- traitor,
" he snarled.
" Warren ... " Scott began, attempting to reason
" Don't you start on me, Scott ! I nearly died
because of him, and you expect me to ... "
The words he would have said next were drowned out by an
earshattering clap of thunder. Immediately, all eyes in the
room turned to Ororo, whose eyes blazed with barely controlled
anger -- yet when she spoke, her voice was eerily calm.
" No, my friend -- you nearly died because of Sinister.
Remy had no knowledge of the bloodshed that was planned that
" Oh? And is ignorance supposed to excuse what he did?
Anyone who worked for Sinister willingly is just as
much of a monster as he is ! "
Remy remained quiet, looking down at the table as Warren
raged, and Reine had just angrily opened her mouth to defend
her brother when Rogue beat her to it.
" Ah think ya want ta take it easy, Warren, " she
" We could say the same thing foh anyone who worked
for Apocalypse. "
Angel whirled toward her, his face contorted with fury.
" Defending him is no more than what I'd expect from
you, Rogue, " he sneered, " but what the Hell's
gotten into you, Storm? Don't you remem..."
Worthington's tirade was cut short as he found his face framed
by two of Wolverine's claws.
" I think we're all thinkin' the same question 'bout
you, bub. The kid's less of a traitor than you were -- he
didn't know us from Adam when he worked for Big Pale an' Ugly,
" he said flatly, then sheathed his claws, " so
take a good, deep breath -- an' relax. "
Psylocke strode forward, taking Logan's place, and took Angel's
# They're right, love -- what you want to do is listen, and
think through what you say. Any points you make will be all
the stronger for that, and you know it. You're not going to
convince anyone by having a row, so calm down #
While Elizabeth dealt with Warren, Scott turned to Gambit.
" Remy, " he said, noticing the younger man's start
of surprise at the use of his given name, " why didn't
you tell us before? Why now? "
" I never meant t' tell any o' ya in de first place.
It was my past, an' nobody's business but mine. I'd been spendin'
ev'ry day since tryin' t' make up for it however I could.
When the Prof offered me a place here ... was too good t'
be true. It gave me a chance t' make a difference t' the people
I'd hurt most. An' if I got killed doin' it, " he shrugged,
" so be it. "
" So what changed, Remy? " Jean asked gently.
" After Israel, " he replied, his eyes softening
as they briefly lighted on Rogue, " my past wasn' just
my own anymore. "
" Rogue -- you knew about this? "
She shook her head.
" Not really, Scott -- Ah could see bits an' pieces
-- flashes, like -- but I couldn't make out the whole thing,
and Ah couldn't place what was happenin'. Ah jus' saw enough
ta know how bad it was, " she replied, her hand gently
squeezing Remy's under the table.
" An' it scared me, " she finished quietly.
Gambit nodded somberly.
" An' after Seattle -- I knew it'd only be a matter
o' time b'fore the shit hit de fan. I couldn' decide what
to do -- so I pretended dat if I ignored the problem, it'd
jus' disappear. "
* Jus' like Ah did -- sometimes I think we're almost too
alike foh our own good, sugah * Rogue thought to herself.
" And then? " Scott prompted.
Remy shrugged again as he glanced toward Reine with a ghost
of a smile.
" Sometimes ya need someone to kick y' ass an' remind
you that there ain' no escape from y'self, no matter how far
or how fast y' c'n run."
He paused briefly.
" I was tired o' runnin'. "
Gambit shook himself.
" So now all o' ya know de truth. What happens next
is up t' you, " he finished quietly.
Cyclops took a moment, gathering his thoughts together, choosing
his words carefully, as everyone in the room turned toward
" I think that in light of what you've just told us,
Remy -- it's fair to say that some of us have confidence issues
with you, " he said slowly, " and as you know, what's
made us a success over the years has been teamwork -- our
confidence in and reliance on one another. I believe the only
fair way to decide your future with this team is for us to
vote on the issue. Agreed?"
A murmur of assent rumbled through the War Room.
" Motion carried, " Beast observed, " but
I would like one proviso to be made. "
" Hank? " Scott said inquiringly.
" It has come to my attention that an aspect of Gambit's
-- and Riposte's -- power is able to circumvent that of Rogue.
If the vote is for dismissal, I would move that either or
both of them be permitted to visit, on invitation only, for
the purpose of studying the phenomenon, and hopefully aiding
in the resolution of Rogue's problem. "
" Agreed, " Scott replied, amid the buzz of surprise
in the room.
" Bien -- den let's get this over with. "
" You want us to vote right now? " Jean asked with
" Why not? You've got a quorum, Phoenix, " Reine
said, her expression unreadable, " so why draw it out?
I think Remy just wants this finished, one way or the other
-- and frankly, so do I. I have some business to attend to,
and I'd like to know if there are changes to be made in my
" I understand that, but we need some time to come to
grips with what Remy just told us, " Scott pointed out,
" otherwise we can't ensure a fair vote. "
" How much of a fair chance did the Morlocks get? "
Cyclops ignored the comment.
" I suggest, " he began, " that we meet to
decide whether or not Gambit remains a part of this team one
week from today. Are we agreed? "
Before any response registered to Scott's question, alerts
began to sound from the War Room computers.
Continued in Chapter
" All warfare is based on deception. "
-- Sun-Tzu, The Art of War
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