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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 single thought propels her, sending Rogue scrambling blindly up the eastern ridge of the estate, oblivious to where her feet are leading. She stumbles into Ororo. Panic gives way to overwhelming joy. Rochelle's persona bubbles forth with the relief of being in the arms of someone she loves and trusts. Without thought, she flings her arms tightly around Ororo's neck in an enthusiastic hug.


Ororo forcefully shoves Rogue away.

"By what right do you dare--?!"


Ororo sees the genuine confusion in Rogue's eyes. It is no less than the confusion which fills her own heart.

Bright Lady, only Rochelle has ever called me 'Nana'. Is it truly possible? Could Rogue have somehow absorbed Rochelle? How? If this is my goddaughter, I cannot possibly deny her.

Ororo speaks to her, testing her by using the Baoule tongue. She is astonished when Rogue responds, also in Baoule.

"Little one, how did you come to be here?"

"I do not know. I am frightened, Nana, I do not know this place or these people. I want Mother. Where is she?"

"In time. What do you remember, child?"

She concentrates. Her lower lip trembles as tears fill her eyes. She glances up at Ororo uncertainly.

"That man, the one you do not like, he hurt me. I thought I would die it hurt so much. There were--others he hurt, too. I remember talking to them. I remember talking to the people of our village, Nana Ororo."

"Rochelle, your mother and I explained to you that the tribe journeyed on to the village of truth, that they had died."

"Am I dead?"

Ororo does not answer. Instead, she opens her arms to Rochelle, drawing her in close for a warm embrace. It is a moment of intimacy she would never consider sharing with Rogue if she were herself. Rochelle, sensing Rogue's thoughts, slips aside, allowing Rogue the moment to enjoy the sense of belonging and welcome she's never experienced. The unconditional love Ororo has for this child affects Rogue deeply. It stirs an emptiness that has been with her for a lifetime.


"Where is Rochelle? Answer me!"

Rogue glances down. Hands that only a moment ago were gently holding her, now tighten forcefully around her arms. Her own temper flares as she knocks Storm's hands away.

"She's fine, it ain't like she's goin' anywhere or ah'm gonna hurt her!"

Ororo struggles for composure.

"I wish to speak to her, Rogue."

"Ah'll just bet you do, sugah. Not even a 'hello' for me though, huh?"

"I do not understand."

"Understand this!"

Rogue, knife in hand, lunges for Ororo. She succeeds in knocking her to the ground and has the satisfaction of hearing the wind knocked out of her opponent. Rogue straddles her, holding the knife to Ororo's throat.

"Did you think I would forget, my pretty?"

A feral growl escapes from the night. A blur of motion. And suddenly Rogue finds herself flat on her back with Wolverine's adamantium claws popped on either side of her face.

"Logan--no! I will contain this situation."

A gust of wind sends Wolverine head over heels and away from Rogue. He grunts his dissatisfaction.

"Ya made your point, darlin'!"

"Dis a women's t'ing or can anybody join de party?"

"'Bout time ya showed up, Cajun."

Belladonna assumes control. Her hand flashes to the knife. With a snap of her wrist, she sends the blade straight to Storm's heart. Until Remy's hand darts out and grabs it mid-flight.

"You losin' y'touch, Belle."

"Winds, rise!"

Ororo Munroe soars with the rising winds. A thought. And soon, another gust of wind brings Rogue to her level.

"Nana, you are frightening me!"

"Shush, little one, it will be over soon."

"I could've let you die quick, witch, jus' so Remy wouldn't be hurtin' too long watchin' y'sufferin'."

"Be silent, insolent one!"

Ororo's hand covers Rogue's mouth. Belladonna's harsh laughter rings out. She feels a sudden chill, then hardness. With sudden horror, Belladonna realizes that Ororo is creating a sheet of ice across her mouth and nose.

She struggles, to no avail. Belle gags as a thin layer of ice snakes down her throat and into her lungs. In a panic, she forfeits her control. Rogue thrashes, fighting suffocation. With a sudden burst of energy, Rogue firmly presses her fingers into Ororo's throat, then shoves her away. Her sudden action leaves her spiraling towards the ground, with no room to correct her descent.


Continued in Chapter 12


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