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
"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
"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
"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
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