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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


Happily oblivious to the ongoing chaos, Jean and Scott succumb to the refreshingly domestic chore of washing the dinner dishes. And if it takes a little longer because of a spontanous water fight, so be it. For once, the world's crises have been left on the doorstep. It doesn't last. A loud thud, followed by the crashing sound of glass breaking shudders through the boathouse.

"What the hell--?!"

Jean and Scott run for the den, prepared to meet any emergency. Or so they believe until they enter and see Rogue, disheveled and frantic, scrambling through the once-locked gun cabinet. Storm rises in the distance, surrounded by the blinding crackle of lightning. Gambit, fighting the rising winds, carefully steps around the jagged remains of the skylight.

"Pardon de intrusion, mes amis, t'ink we got a problem."

A sudden gust of wind whips through the house. Jean and Scott brace each other against the doorway. With uncanny agility, Gambit rolls with the wind's force to Rogue's side. In the blink of an eye, he snatches the shotgun shell from her fingers before she can load the gun. She throws a punch. He ducks. Her elbow, however, finds its mark in his ribs, knocking the air from his lungs.

She grabs for the case of shells. A well-placed optic blast erupts, knocking the gun from her hand. A bolt of telekineses holds Rogue motionless. Through her eyes, Gregory Buchanan watches, silently terrified, as the terrible weather goddess summons the spirits of nature to destroy him. His mind conjures every fetish, every genii, every ancestor, to come to his aid against this evil one.

His mind reaches to Rogue's, forcing her to remember her own blood-stained past. Under Gregory's influence, Rogue again experiences the pain of her father's fists; again hears the crack of her shoulder against the floorboards. Again, feels the scream of pain and rage burst from her throat. Rogue breaks Jean's hold, quickly reaching and loading the shotgun a moment before Storm's presence fills the den.

"Ya got no right to be beatin' on me, Daddy!"

She takes dead aim on Storm. One hand steadies the muzzle, the other cocks the shotgun with a skill born of years of practice. She braces in anticipation of the recoil, even as her fingers squeeze the trigger. Gregory Buchanan grins. He will die with the blood of an enemy on his hands. It will be a good death.

Storm fearlessly approaches.



Gambit recovers in time to knock the shotgun upwards as Wolverine dives through the window and shoves Storm to safety. The grandfather clock chimes quarter to midnight.

"Padnat, you runnin' out a time."

Storm hauls Rogue to her feet.

"Rogue, listen to me, you must not allow Gregory to influence you."

Rogue struggles.

"Ya think this has been a picnic for me?!"

Ororo and the others watch, amazed, as Rogue physically tries to keep her hands from crushing Ororo's throat.

"Oh, lord, ah--ah can feel the poison--burnin' mah veins!"

Rogue's body arches in Storm's grip, then suddenly goes limp against her.


"He's dyin'."

"Release him, Rogue!"

"...ya ought t'know by now--mah powers--don't work like that, sugah...fella ain't makin' it easy..."

She has been the griever of death, for this child's death, too long. From within, beyond the ache of her heart and the hollowness of her spirit, she summons forth the determination and inner strength of a goddess.


The once-cherished endearment weakens her resolve. For a moment. The moment passes. Ororo Munroe chooses the life of her teammate over a debt of honor she cannot absolve.

Even as the rain abates and the winds fade, Storm eases Rogue's cheek against her own, allowing Rogue to bolster her willpower by absorbing Storm's determination along with her psyche. Together, they release Gregory Buchanan's deathgrip. Together, they collapse into unconsciousness.


Continued in Chapter 13


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