It's over now, ain't it, Storm? Ya got what ya wanted.
Ya spent some time with Rochelle, just like a real mother
and daughter. Got to see her laid to rest all proper like.
Don't know where ah got the crazy idea -- yeah, you an' me
gettin' all chummy. Riiiiight.
Rogue reloads the slingshot. Aims. Fires. Another tin can
topples. Rogue walks over to the fence to set up another row
of cans. She has never been a goddess. No one would ever worship
her as the bringer of life. As much as Ororo has been the
keeper of nature, Rogue has been the keeper of secrets. White
lies. Half-truths. Not so innocent ommissions. It's how she
learned to cope, especially with the psychic residue of vastly
different personalities nudging the shadows of her mind.
Rogue submitted to the funeral as much for Gregory Buchanan's
benefit as for Rochelle's. For now, she is the only one who
will ever know. Just as she is the only one who truly understands
what Gregory has been through. For an extra challenge, Rogue
stacks the cans in a pyramid. She begins picking them off
with the slingshot, one by one.
Gregory was a mutant. Like many mutants, his power manifested
suddenly, with horrifying results. Much like Rogue. He never
murdered Ororo's people; their deaths were never the result
of cold-blooded calculation. Only the unfortunate combination
of genetics and youthful frustration.
Rogue glances down at her bare hands, one of the few times
she isn't wearing gloves. She remembers, through Gregory's
eyes, secretly returning to the village to convince Raoua
to come away with him. Remembers the moment his hand brushes
Raoua's with the same painful clarity of her own lips kissing
Welcome to the club, sugah.
She takes out two cans with one shot.
He never knew what happened. One moment Raoua's smile brightens
his heart, the next, she's pulling away, screaming. It all
happened so quickly. A rush of power he's never experienced
courses through his body; an overwhelming sense of truly being
alive. Before he can understand or accept this sudden change,
the rest of the tribe attacks. He has no control. As soon
as someone touches him, his mutation acts.
All around him, he sees the dead and dying bodies of the
Baoule. Feels their blood on his hands. Perhaps, if he had
not acted so rashly two nights ago, Ororo's arrival would
have been less confrontational. Whatever words passed between
them no longer matter. He could never explain to her what
he does not understand himself. And his anger against Storm
would never allow him to try.
Rogue brushes sudden tears from her eyes. She understands
the confusion and isolation he experienced better than most.
She crumbles to the ground. Here, alone, she finally allows
herself to succumb to the pain she's kept tight inside. The
sorrow of knowing that Gregory's loss was no less than Ororo's.
His bitterness grew to consume him. Perhaps he took lives
when his mutation made it necessary for him to survive. And,
yes, even at times when there was no need.
But ya nevah wanted to hurt Rochelle.
She could have been his daughter. Should have been
his. Rogue's arms fold tight around her body as she gives
in to the grief of a man who has never had a chance to express
his loss. Gregory has passed into nothing, but this bit of
him will always be with her. This part that again sees Rochelle's
bright, shining eyes and white smile. Again reaches out to
her. Again endures the agony of having his own body betray
him by taking her life, her essence into his own. So complete
is the absorption, that her body discorporates, feeding his.
Eventually, Rogue calms down, collects her slingshot, and
heads back to the mansion. She walks slowly, a single thought
turning in her mind.
E te o nou.
We stay together.
Concluded in Chapter
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