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Author's Notes
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20


The Harras Maximum Security Prison. You can pretty much get what you want here. Just a matter of knowing the right things about the right people. The combined knowledge of Remy LeBeau and Warren Worthington has the prison rolling out the red carpet for their unusual guests. No questions asked.

Storm, followed closely by Rogue and Gambit, leads the way through the infirmary's maze of corridors. Inmates as well as staff members shake off the sudden chill in the air as overactive imaginations. Especially since the air seems perfectly normal as soon as the trio passes. As they near Gregory Buchanan's sickbed, frost appears on the door handles. Gambit pulls Storm aside.

"Ease up, Stormy!"

"I did not realize."

The frost melts, then quickly evaporates. Storm indicates Gregory Buchanan's cell. Rogue steps to her side, curious about this man who could so ruthlessly kill a child. She is not prepared for the withered body that turns its head to hers. Shriveled skin pulls tight across the high, thin cheekbones. Thin, yellow mucous seeps from rheumy eyes. Rogue chokes on the sudden stench of sickness, a sharp contrast to the bitter disinfectant which pervades the outer corridors.

"Ya never said he was so sick, Storm. Almost don't seem right to be puttin' him at risk without him knowin' it."

"Were you as strong in your concern when you absorbed Belladonna?"

Gambit's head snaps up at Storm's words, just in time to see a flush of color redden Rogue's cheeks.

"It wasn't the same!"


"Of course not."


"Ya callin' me a liar?"

Three steps, and he's between them, pulling Rogue's fist back to her side.

"Dat's enough! Both a you! Rogue, nobody gon' force you if you havin' second thoughts."

No! I have not come this far to be denied! Yet, it is Rogue's decision, is it not?

Ororo considers her next words with care. Her choice, though effective, sacrifices a friendship she has grown to cherish.

"Carol Danvers would not have faltered."

In six words, Ororo Munroe reopens wounds it has taken six years to heal. Rogue's eyes darken with the pain of this betrayal.

"Ah ain't Carol."


"Dat was uncalled for!"

And Rogue, as she has done since the day she joined the X-men, again struggles to overcome the shadow of Carol Danvers. Again rises to the challenge of being more than the reckless mutant who once used her abilities to destroy another X-man's life.

"S'all right, Remy. Ah gave mah word and ah ain't goin' back on it."

The click of her heels on concrete. The sound of a glove stripped sharply from her hand. As Rogue's fingers brush Gregory Buchanan's forehead, his eyes snap open. He draws her closer, his breath hot and fetid against her cheek. His voice is surprisingly compelling, resonating with a strength which belies his frail health. Even though his words are thickly spoken in the native Baoule tongue--

"E te o nou."

--as their thoughts become one, she understands.

We stay together.

She feels the loss of her memories, her thoughts, her persona as Gregory Buchanan uses his own mutant ability to drain Rogue as she would have drained him. Her breath catches. More. He needs more from her. Unlike Rogue, Gregory Buchanan's mutation feeds on the life essences of others. He sees the growing concern on the faces of her companions. He has so little time. Too little for what he needs to accomplish. Already, they are closing the distance to her side, to take her away from his touch.

There be other ways, my pretty one.

Gregory shifts his power, suddenly flooding Rogue not only with the return of her psyche, but adding a part of his own essence as well. Rogue gasps. His essence is sustained by the bits of lives stolen from others. It is not only his memories, but those of his victims that slip into her soul. Everything. Including, with startling clarity, the moment of their deaths.

A moment, then it's over. She shakes her head, as if to clear the jumble of thoughts and emotions flooding her mind. Worry darkens her green eyes as she meets Ororo's steadfast gaze. Worry that deepens into flashes of anger. Wordlessly, she pushes roughly past Storm and Gambit. Storm grabs her arm, forcing her to turn to face them. Rogue jerks free.

"Ev't'ing right wit' you, chere?"

"He ain't the one."


"Ya got the wrong man, Storm! Ya spent all this time hatin' him for somethin' he never did! And now he's gonna die for it!"

Rogue flies out, leaving a visibly shaken Storm to consider this unexpected revelation.


Continued in Chapter 3


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