"Offer up your best defense,
this is the end of innocence."
How does a t'ing like dis ever start, eh? If only Rogue
had--no, LeBeau, you gon' place blame, place it where it belong.
He exhales sharply. The cigarette smoke curls past and joins
the night air along with the raucous laughter from Harry's
behind him. Laughter that suddenly seems too harsh.
Rogue an' me was arguin'. Her words cut quick. Mine cut
He walks over to Rogue's car, still in the lot. Tries not
to think about the fact that she stormed out hours ago. Tries
not to think that even if she was angry enough to fly back
to the mansion, she would have come back for the car by now.
His boots crunch sharply against the gravel.
You spent too much time wit' de X-men, boy. Made you forget.
He hears the faint clank of metal on metal. It's the car
keys--still in the ignition. The sudden tightness in his chest
deepens. He slips the keys into his pocket.
Made you forget dat it ain't jus' Magneto or de Brood
or whoever be threatenin' de universe dis week dat you got
to guard your back against. Sometime it jus' de shadows of
your own imaginin'.
He feels the heel of his boot catch. Annoyed, Remy LeBeau
flicks his cigarette into the darkness. He crouches by the
car. His heel is caught in a wadded up jacket. Her jacket.
The lingering taste of beer in his mouth sours.
Sometime it all de lil' boogeymen runnin' 'round dat'll
do you in.
The jacket falls open in his hands. Even in the filtered
light from Harry's, it's easy to see where the red "X"
has been ripped from the sleeve. Easy to see the torn collar.
Remy LeBeau doesn't care. Thread and fabric. Replaceable.
His heart stills only when he sees the dark flecks staining
Rogue's coat. Blood.
Another roar of laughter rolls out from Harry's.
Me an Rogue was arguin'. What all de fuss about don' seem
t'matter so much now.
He promised to watch out for her.
From high above, apartment lights pit the darkness as Remy
enters an alley. The asphalt deadens his footsteps. He slumps
wearily against the brick wall, fighting the aches of exhaustion.
One more hour. One more hour, then he'll get the others to
Funny thing about promises, they can be as strong as steel--or
as fragile as prayer.
He stumbles past an overturned dumpster. Two floors above,
a light snaps on behind him. He turns at the sudden glare.
And life has a way of making the best intentions--
The sudden light reveals a woman's hand spilling from the
The word comes out in a hoarse whisper. He walks leadenly
back to the dumpster. Rogue's unclothed body sprawls across
the black plastic of the city's trash. She is mercifully oblivious
to the flea-infested rat which nips her ankle. A card flares
suddenly as Remy LeBeau uses his mutant power to charge objects.
Snap of the wrist. The blaze of light knocks the vermin into
He falls to his knees beside her battered form, draping his
coat across her in protection against the early morning chill.
Bruises darken her skin. Swollen lips. Scratches. Welts. The
distinct imprint of a palm reddens her left cheek. He slips
his hand to her wrist. Fingers sensitive from years of picking
locks easily find the faint pulse. He offers a silent prayer
Always thought seein' Rogue naked be a sight to remember.
All my imaginin'--never pictured seein' her like dis. Y'got
one part right. Never gon' forget de image a her layin' here.
Remy's teeth clench in anger at the sight of the Genoshan
collar clasped around her neck. the collar's light flashes
green. Functioning. Tentatively, he brushes his fingers against
her cheek. Nothing. The collar performs effectively, preventing
Rogue's ability to absorb another person's psyche from activating.
He eases Rogue into his arms. As her head falls against his
shoulder, he allows himself the briefest taste of his lips
on hers. The warmth of her breath tickles his skin.
"Ev' t' ing be all right, chere. Gambit gon' take you
home now. Gon' take good care a you. Neh?"
Continued in Chapter
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