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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


Ya nevah should of come back here, girl.

Rogue shivers under the pelting rain. Cold. Hungry. Filthy. She shoves the slingshot deeper into her hip pocket. Being a crack shot doesn't help much if she isn't using the right weapon. Slingshot was fine for tin cans. But tin cans won't do much to stop the gnawing in her belly. She needs the shotgun.

Nearly two weeks now since ya threw me out, Daddy. An' ah still ain't sure what happened. Still ain't sure what's wrong with me. Reverend Tyler's preachin' to folks that ah'm the devil, sayin' ah tempted Cody with mah 'feminine wiles'. Callin' me a Jezebel. They're sayin' as long as ah'm around, he'll nevah wake up. Ya were mah own flesh an' blood, but ya still believed them, didn't ya?

Another stab of hunger. Rogue glances up at her home, sees the lights come on in the kitchen. It wasn't so long ago that she was inside, with the warmth and the light, making scratch biscuits for breakfast. Biscuits and sausage gravy. Maybe scrambled eggs if the hens were cooperative. Dry toast, if she could get her mama feeling well enough to sit up and take a bite or two.

Rogue's mouth waters. At this point, she's willing to risk even her father's wrath for the chance at a decent meal and dry clothes. She scurries around the kitchen to her bedroom window. In the dim light of morning, she finds the broken latch and slips it free, allowing the window to slide up with ease. Up, over, and she's inside.

"Oh, Daddy--no!"

Shards of glass, where she once had a modest vanity table. The bristles of the silverplated brush he gave her for her last birthday have been torn out. The bureau, handed down to her from her mother, overturned. The few clothes that fit decently, ripped into rags. Rogue sinks to the floor, dejected by the utter destruction of every mark of her existence.

The floorboard outside her door creaks. She stills. He's there. She can see the shadow of his feet blocking the light under the door. His hand lands heavily on the doorknob. Twists.

C'mon, girl--MOVE!

Rogue scrambles to her feet just as the door slams open, catching her hard in the small of her back.


Stunned, she's easy prey. Toby Lantry grabs his daughter by her hair, careful not to touch her skin.

"Ah shoulda beat the evil outta ya a long time ago, girl!"

As he hauls her towards the living room, Rogue clutches the door frame. Her feet scramble for some kind of purchase, any sort of leverage she can use to break free. A hard kick from her father's steel-tipped boots knocks her legs out from under her. A shove between her shoulder blades sends her sprawling to the floorboards in the next room.

Another kick, to the ribs. Rogue bites her lip against the pain. She rolls away from an ill-timed punch. Through blurring vision, she catches a glimpse of salvation. The shotgun. Toby Lantry doesn't miss the sudden gleam in Rogue's eyes. He's seen it too often not to know she thinks she's got a spark of hope.

He follows her gaze to the shotgun. She's maybe a foot closer to it than he is. But he's in a lot better shape. Rogue grabs for the gun. Her daddy's right on top of her, reaching towards her hand. He stops, jolted by the realization that she's bare handed.

Undaunted, Rogue grabs the gun then scrambles for the shells. The gun's loaded, cocked and aimed at his chest in seconds. She's a crack shot. And Toby Lantry has forgotten there's nothing more dangerous than wounded prey.


Shotgun blast. Recoil. And Rogue feels the wet drops of blood on her cheek.

A warm glow pervades Gregory Buchanan's body. He has her now. Her anger. Her pain. Her darkness that he can twist and use to extinguish the light of his enemy.

Other ways, my pretty.

And Gregory Buchanan, facing the last hours of his life, sleeps soundly.

"Rogue, the lettuce."


Rogue looks down at the shredded leaves in her hands. Jean rescues the few salvageable bits and tosses them into the salad bowl.

"Don't worry, we'll add some fresh spinach and romaine. It'll be fine."

Jean smiles at the bustling preparations in the mansion's kitchen. Everyone is happily occupied with the X-men's annual Labor Day picnic.

"And it certainly isn't as if we won't have enough food, right? Rogue? Hon, you're trembling!"

"Ah--ah just need to rest for a bit."

"If you want to talk about what happened yesterday--"

She shakes her head, hurrying out of the kitchen. Ororo, preoccupied with Gambit's bantering, glances up at his sudden quiet. Just in time to catch a glimpse of Rogue's face.

"I hope she is well."

"Prob'ly nothin' serious. Jus' a case of de messenger bein' blamed for the message, neh?"

"Your point is well made, Remy. I will speak to her."

"'Bout time."


Continued in Chapter 4


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