Does anybody actually read the disclaimers?
This is my own original work, and all the characters you recognise
belong to Marvel - those you don't might. Zodiac is mine.
I am not making any cash off this, so don't even think about
The title belongs to Marvel as well. But if'n'when you archive
for any bizarre reason, please don't change anything or attempt
to pass it off as your own work. I read a lot of FanFic and
may just come across it. Comments to RogueStar at email@example.com.
Don't flame me, they'll be treated with the respect they deserve
(i.e. none whatsoever) Apart from that there's no profanity
or anything of a less-than-decent nature. It's all clean -
read it to your brother or sister.
Ororo Munroe gazed over the green estate, although she could
control the weather, she sometimes simply enjoyed letting
it surprise her. Like today. The weathermen had predicted
rain, as sure a sign as any of a sunny day. Her expectations
had not been disappointed. The sun shone on the earth with
a brilliant gold warmth, dappling the ground with shadows
where it fell on the trees.
She took a deep breath of the fresh air, enjoying the sensation
of the sun on her bronzed skin.
"It is times like this when I am glad to be alive, despite
all the troubles of this world."
Sitting down upon the steps, she basked in the glow, absorbing
the warmth before the chill of fall returned as it inevitably
"Ah've been lookin' for ya, Ro." Quiet footsteps
behind her betrayed the other's presence.
"Rogue? Come sit, child."
"Beautiful weather, isn't it?" The Mississippian
sat next to her.
"Lovely. I was just appreciating how lucky we are."
"Yeah, lucky." Rogue echoed the words as if she
didn't mean them.
"Now, why did you seek me out?"
"Just guess Ah wanted t'talk."
Storm looked at the younger woman sitting beside her. Her
green eyes had a secretive smile in them that Ororo hadn't
seen for years; a smile that spoke of equal parts pleasure
"You could be more specific."
"Not really - Ah just felt like some female company."
"Oh," Storm smiled. "I would be more than
happy to provide that company."
"Men are all right to be with but sometimes a body wants
to talk to someone of her own gender."
Rogue explained, fiddling with her nails. Like her they were
pragmatic; useful but not decorative.
"I fully understand the feeling. I find that I too am
more comfortable around men than women."
"Ah hoped you'd understand." Rogue sighed, "Ah
don't seem t'get on with any of the gals."
"Thinks Ah'm out to sabotage the mansion - thanks to
"Please. . . ." Rogue sounded disgusted at the
Storm laughed, "Me ?"
"You're about th' only one."
The wind-rider sobered up as she heard the bitter loneliness
in Rogue's voice. A loneliness that she too had experienced
at one time . . . .
"Still, you and Bobby seem to be friends."
"We are. It's just that . . . ."
"You want to be more to him ?" Storm asked gently.
"No." Rogue's denial was unequivocal. "Ah
don't feel that way about him. We're friends and Ah'm happy
with that remainin' as it is."
"Good. You do realise that your power does make it difficult
to have any manner of intimate relationship - it is perhaps
best that you feel how you do."
"Ah know." She clenched her fist, "Ah sometimes
think it might have been better not t'have been born at all,
than to be what Ah am."
"Don't say that !" Storm clasped Rogue's arm. "It
is true that you do have a . . . difficult power to deal with
- but, despite that, you are a vital part of this team, and
I think that many of our lives would be less bright had you
not been born."
"Ah'm a leech, Storm, Ah suck everythin' out of the
person - killin' them. Ah thought that Ah could give somethin'
back to this world by joinin' the X-Men. Now, Ah'm not so
Rogue stood up, shaking her hand off roughly.
"What is really behind this outburst, Rogue ?"
Storm asked, her blue eyes filled with compassion.
"Nothin' - just leave me alone."
Before Storm could follow her, or even think to pursue, she
had flown away into the white clouds which slowly were beginning
to gather. It looked like the weatherman had been right after
"What do you think you're doing here, Mutie ?"
The man leered at the slight figure of the woman who was standing
cornered in the alleyway.
"Going home, sir." Her voice trembled with fear.
"Don't you know this zone is patrolled by the Friends
of Humanity ? No mutants allowed."
"If you'll l. . .let me get past, I'll never come here
"Really ? But your brother will, and your friend, and
your cousin. They'll think they can get away with anything,
and the FOH will be soft on them. No, mutie, we'll have to
make an example of you."
"But . . . sir . . . my children . . . my husband."
He grinned viciously, "Don't you mean your orphans,
your widower ?"
"Sir ? SIR ?" Her voice rose to a shriek.
He came nearer, cradling the bottle in his hand. A smile
passed over the face of the woman.
"Ohmigod." were the last words ever to pass the
lips of the man, as he saw his worst nightmare come to life.
"Did it work?"
"Yes." She lit the candle in the head-quarters.
It flickered; its eerie light casting macaber shadows on the
wall. "One less human to worry about."
A laugh then. "Next one's mine."
Rogue wiped the tears from her eyes as she landed on the
grass in the graveyard.
A simple stone marked the final resting place of her mother.
She wished she'd brought flowers, they would have been appropriate.
Her mother was the epitome of the ideal Southern Belle - beautiful;
quiet; a wife and mother; marrying beneath her for love; hiding
her intelligence and sharp, keen wit. She had only deviated
from the paradigm in one way, she had suffered the abuse of
her husband for too long and had finally run away. Rogue remembered
receiving a letter from her once; the only letter she ever
received. It was short and written in a neat cursive.
My dearest daughter,
I am sorry for what I had to do - I wish I could have
taken you with but the circumstances prevented me. If ever
you feel you have to leave your father, as did I - you must
come to this address. Remember that I always will love you.
Your loving mother,
Rogue had replied to that address, one year later when she
had forgiven her mother and understood why she had done what
she did. Her reply was from an old couple with whom her mother
had been staying. Her mother had died in a car accident a
month ago. She'd gotten on the train and gone all the way
across the country to Rhode Island, where her mother had been
buried. When she had returned, her father had been furious,
beating her more severely than usual. Rogue had born it with
fortitude, she did not regret doing what she had done; had
she the option, she would have done it again. Now in her time
of need she had returned. She pushed the bad memories out
of her mind, as she regarded the unmarked stone.
"Momma - Ah know Ah haven't visited you as much as Ah
would have liked." Her voice sounded hollow to herself.
"But today, Ah need a momma's advice."
"Ah thought that Ah was immune to it; that everyone
else was at risk except me. Then Ah felt it, a feeling as
alien to me as any possible - an' yet so natural."
"Momma, did you love daddy? Did he love you? Did you
ever feel what it was like to have a connection to a complete
"Ah hope not - cause Ah don't want love to be
like what you and daddy had; the fights, the angry words,
the hate in your eyes, the betrayal."
"At least you could touch daddy; at least you had a
chance. Why couldn't Ah have had your chance? Ah would have
made it work."
"Ah . . .we have no chance of anythin'. That much is
obvious to me. Least Ah wish it was, cause Ah tired
o' hopin' t'hope that one day Ah may actually control mah
gift' - that one day Ah can feel what it's like to be loved
as well as love."
Silence, broken by tears, as a young woman clung to gravestone
of her mother as she wept.
Her silver eyes glowed as she felt into the time-stream.
She rose out of her body like smoke and drifted into the astral
plane, her etheric double bright. Words formed on frozen lips
as she saw past the present, into the future. "A time
of darkness is at hand. Light shall be extinguished and only
the sparks of hope can relight the flame. Unfortunately, few
shall hope, or have cause to hope. For the darkness draws
near. A man shall rise to fall, and in that falling, raise
another. Men of metal patrolling the streets. A great man,
great in his apparent weakness, shall lead. And a thief shall
be stolen from. Hate-love. War-peace"
A sudden jolt as she pulled herself back into reality, escaping
from above and higher. She was young and weak - but soon,
she would be more, and then she could make a difference.
Morosely, Gambit flicked his cards down on the table.
"A pair an' a pair royal. Beat dat." 'Like
dat's hard', he thought. 'De pair is only twos and de
pair royal t'rees.'
"Indubitably, I must claim the victory." Beast
smiled, "For I am possessed of three lovely ladies, and
two distinguished gentlemen."
"I beg to differ, Henry." Storm said triumphantly,
putting her cards on the table. "A royal flush in diamonds."
"The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune' are against
me !" Henry McCoy grimaced, "The queen I do not
get, she needs!"
"Count yourself lucky." Iceman said, dropping his
cards down, "I have two fours. Period."
"Looks like de pot's yours, Stormy." Gambit groaned,
"Thank you, although I am not sure why you insist on
calling me that name." She took the pile of chips.
"Another hand ?" Iceman grinned hopefully. "Perhaps
I can win my money back."
"Sure. If you really feel that you need to lose more
money, Bobby." She returned his smile.
"Deal, Beast." He handed the neat deck to him.
"One, two, three, four, five. Gentlemen, and lady, take
Gambit looked around the table, examining their expressions
for some clue as to their hands.
Iceman's face was spilt by a huge grin, obviously a good
hand, probably two pairs. Storm's eyebrows were arched in
concentration; okay hand if she needed to think. Beast was
bluffing; no hand could be so bad as to cause the look of
dejection on his face.
The cajun then looked at his own cards, and had to try hard
not to smile.
The trick was not to bet too much and give away the quality
of your hand. He pushed a $ 5,00 chip into the middle. Storm
and Beast did likewise. Drake added a $ 20,00 chip to the
"Switch cards if you wish."
Beast switched two, Storm and Iceman, one. Gambit held onto
The betting went on, he raised his bet to $10,00.
"Show your hands."
Beast put his down first: a five, two jacks and two queens
- a good hand, but he could beat it.
Storm was holding three nines and two sevens. Mediocre, he
could better her.
With a flourish, Iceman deposited his hand on the table.
Two aces and three sixes. Fair.
"Looks like I win dis round, mon amis."
Gambit spread his cards out. 10 of Hearts, Jack of Hearts,
Queen of Hearts, King of Hearts, Ace of Hearts.
"A royal flush ?" Beast asked.
"Two rounds in a row ?" Storm's eyebrows raised
in surprise, "Was that deck shuffled?"
"Perhaps it's a sign, chere? You be rich and I be married."
"Unlikely. I do not believe in the ability to tell the
future using cards." Her smile contradicted the tone
of her words.
"Perhaps you are right. I t'ink dat ol' lady Destiny
got our flushes muddled up." He picked up the pile of
chips, "It looks like Gambit be the rich one."
"Another round ?" Iceman asked hopefully.
"Non, dere's an old sayin' dat goes - quit while you're
ahead." Gambit stood up and pushed his chair in.
"Oui, but a *RICH* coward."
The game ended in laughter and mock accusations being flung
around the room.
And, for one of them at least, a feeling that he finally
had found a place he belonged.
Milbury was the name whispered among mutants as they went
about their daily lives. Milbury was reputed to be a wealthy
philanthropist who provided work for those no-one else would
The work was hard, but it was the only work many could find.
Construction of a bulding with the capability to store genetic
samples, and equipped for genetic engineering. Design and
development of a computer powerful enough to store millions
of files in a database of immense size. A research team. Geneticists.
Construction workers. Programmers. Architects. Janitors. All
from different social strata, different backgrounds, bound
together by the common attribute of possessing the X-factor
gene, and in turn being possessed by Milbury.
"Ah'm back. . . ." Rogue called as she stepped
into the entrance hall of the mansion, "Not that any
noticed Ah wasn't here, mind you."
"I did." Wolverine said from behind her.
"L. . . Logan?"
"Yeah, darlin'." He smirked. "I have no idea
where you went or what you did - but it had better not have
been to the detriment of the team, cause I'll find you
"It was personal." Rogue turned on her heel and
started upstairs. "Now if y'all don't mind, Ah'm going
to have a bath."
"Was hurting Carol . . . personal?" Wolverine asked
"Wh . . . what?" She spun around to face him, her
green eyes wild.
"I asked if hurting Carol was personal too."
"No . . . it wasn't. If'n Ah could go back, Ah wouldn't
do it again."
"That doesn't help her now."
"Don't y'all think Ah've tortured mahself enough over
what Ah did t'her? That Ah hated mahself from that day onwards?"
Anger made her accent sharp. "Why are you bringin' it
up again; openin' all mah wounds?"
"Because Carol was a friend of mine, and I don't like
to see my friends get hurt."
"Ah'm sorry, Logan." Her voice softened, "Ah
had no idea."
"Perhaps, next time before you *kill* someone, lady,
you should think." Bitterness.
"She's not dead."
"She might as well be!"
"And what about you, Wolverine? What about all th' people
you killed? Didn't y'all think that they might be someone's
friends or children?"
"I had no flamin' choice." He shouted.
"What makes you think Ah did?" Quiet resignation
to a fact that was undeniable.
Wolverine bowed his head, and there was an uncomfortable
moment before he spoke.
"I'm sorry, Rogue. I shouldn't take it out on you. I
just feel I should have been there for her; protected her
"Ya couldn't have. No more than Ah could have done somethin'
"You're right, but . . . ."
"No buts, Logan."
Wolverine smiled, "Perhaps we could even be friends?"
Rogue returned his grin, "Ah'd like that a lot."
A handshake then, bridging the gap which divided them and
bringing them together, in memory of a friend to one and a
part of the other.
The night was dark and the sky was covered with a smoky layer
of clouds through which no stars shone. A single light in
the one of the windows of the mansion betrayed the fact that
one of the inhabitants was awake.
"At dis hour, I'd be on de streets, lookin' for a place
t'steal from." He said, "Guess I still can't sleep;
thinkin' of de pinch; wantin' t'do what comes natural t'me."
It was the perfect night for it. No moon to give light and
a shroud of darkness to hide in.
The young mutant fought the urge which surged through his
blood; compelling him to run and to steal. He wanted the adrenalin
which came after a close encounter; he wanted to feel alive.
Regretfully he turned away from the window.
"But I can't do dat anymore. I am an X-Man now, and
X-Men don' steal." The words felt unfamiliar on his lips,
like he was not speaking them.
"Seems like I always will be two people from now on
- Remy leBeau, t'ief and Gambit, de X-Man. . . .Also seems
like I prefer de latter."
"Mes amis anciens would ask me why I joined; why I'd
give up a life of freedom; a life of excitement." He
paused, "Guess I got my reasons. Cause de fact
is, it's only freedom while you ain't caught; an' jail ain't
on de list of ways I want t'spend my life. Dere's also excitement
here; a diff'rent kind, a good kind, a kind a man could get
used to and needn't be ashamed of."
"I see." Storm's voice was sympathetic, "I
felt much the same way when I left my life on the streets,
and became exalted as a goddess. I also used to question how
they could worship someone who had committed sins which went
against the precepts of their religion."
"People create gods, chere. Dey make dem into what dey
want, or need. Sometimes dey just believe for de sake for
havin' somet'ing to believe in. Used to believe Candra was
a god, until I worked out dat she didn' have our best interests
"You are presuming she had a heart."
"I know. But I wonder why she kept up de feud, it surely
didn' serve her purposes?"
"It did, Remy." Storm smiled, "It kept the
guilds too weak to rise up against her and overthrow her."
"All dat death, so a tyrant could keep her throne. .
. ." He whispered.
"She was evil and power-hungry. She enjoyed wielding
her authority over the guilds."
"Jus' t'ink of what I could have done if I'd stayed
an' played de game by deir rules. My guild coulda been free
from dat witch."
"But you would have been a slave to something for which
you never cared."
"True - stead of tryin' to please you, I could
be what Belle wanted me to be."
"My wife. She died."
"I am sorry to hear that."
"Don' be. Our marriage was arranged."
"You didn't love her then?"
"I did. In a way. Dat's de strange part, I should feel
more grief dan I do."
"Perhaps you are still numb?"
"Non. I cried for her at her funeral. To me, she's dead."
"So you are going on with your life? That is admirable."
"Dere weren't much else I could do, chere. I might have
loved her more given time, but I didn'."
Silence, as Storm groped desparately for a question to ask
and break the silence.
"So, is there anyone new in your life?" Trite but
effective, a grin spread over Gambit's face.
"Oui. She jus' doesn't know it yet."
"I see. May I ask her name?"
"You could, but I couldn't answer you."
"'Cause, chere, I'm not sure if de femme knows it herself."
He meant Rogue. Conflicting emotions went through Storm,
the urge to protect him from making a mistake, that could
hurt both of them, and the knowledge that he would learn from
As usual with her, her heart held dominion over her brain.
"I would advise against this relationship. It is futile
and will prove ultimately destructive for you as well as Rogue."
"Let's let Rogue an' me make our own minds up about
dis, henh?" Gambit looked stubborn and Storm knew that
further coercion would be fruitless. It was getting late and
she was too tired to formulate any other reason than that
it seemed wrong to her.
She sighed and stood up, "I must go to sleep. See you
in the morning."
"See ya, Stormy."
A thump as a pillow hit Gambit.
"Don't call me that ridiculous name!"
Henry Gyrich stroked the metal curves of his creation. Soon
it would be time to implement his plan; time to make the streets
safe for humanity; time to give human-kind some defense against
the monsters which walked among them . . . .
Ah think Ah lay awake all night just wonderin' about mah
conversation with Logan, despite mah words t'him Ah still
wasn't sure if Ah was convinced of mah own lack of choice.
Sure Ah could have run and left Danvers alone, could have
ignored Mystique, could have disobeyed the woman who
gave me the first affection Ah'd ever known . . . could have
but didn't. Perhaps Ah was meant to touch her - it was what
sent me to the X-Men after Ah went crazy. But then again,
Ah've never believed in fate. It always seemed t'me that ya
had a choice between what was right an' wrong - predestination
takes away that choice. Ah think if'n ya believe in fate,
you're a coward an' refuse ta take responsibility for your
actions. You blame it on a higher power, and dismiss it by
sayin' 'que sera, sera'. But the funny thing is: Ah think
that Ah'd like to be able to say that too. . . .
"It is our destiny to rule this world on which we were
placed. We were created superior for that very reason, blessed
with unimaginable powers. Yet are we governing? Have we taken
our rightful position? No, we have been subjugated by the
ignorant humans who are unaware of their own inferiority."
"For too long we have kowtowed to their attitude of
arrogance and condescension, now it is time to show them that
we will not be oppressed any more."
"We are the army of tomorrow, mobilised for war against
a way of thought; a way of thought which has made us slaves.
Emancipation lies before us; we need only reach, grasp it
and make it ours."
"My comrades, more than that, my friends. It is time
for us to grasp that emancipation so tightly that no human
can ever pry it away again."
"Now is the time for our freedom. . . ."
Applause, as so many people were swept away by the vision
of a lunatic, hatred radiating from his cold blue eyes.
Brilliant green searing through his conciousness. Unable
to move, he looked around.
Emptiness. An abyss of darkness stretching off to every side.
Silence. Not even the sound of a bird singing. Where was he?
Falling. A silent scream parted his lips as he fell deeper
into the chasm.
He was beyond help here. No friendly hand reaching to hold
him. Just the black loneliness of his mind. Then a voice:
"You thought you had escaped me; you thought that you
finally were free. Let this be a lesson to you, Remy leBeau,
the gifts I give exact a price. The time will come soon to
pay this price. You will pay with everything you possess.
. . ."
The young thief yelled then, the name which he had come to
hate. A voiceless cry of defiance against a force of which
he had hoped he had become free.
"Dere comes a time where every woman must stand up for
what is rightfully hers. By de law an' by de heart."
The woman played with the ring on her finger, "But I
can wait. Least for a little while longer. I t'ink dat perhaps
I give him a few more months to savor his freedom, den I remind
him of his responsibilities." She laughed. "It keep
him more loyal dat way. Let him have his flings, once dey
all said an' done, I still be waitin' for him. An' he be ready
to come back to de only woman he ever really loved . . . his
Continued in Chapter
1. Before everyone argues and says that Wolverine and Carol
Danvers never knew each other, I would like to remind you
of the Wolverine: Shadow Society one-shot published in 1995.
Wolverine and Danvers worked together in it - I do not know
if they were friends, but they certainly knew each other.
2. Mes amis anciens - not my ancient friends' but my
Coming up in part V . . .
A little action and less introspection, the beginnings of
something new and special (How I hate that word!), State Nicknames,
German exclamations (phantastich! - Chris Claremont), More
obscure references, continuation of the smoke and mirrors
metaphor, fun for the whole family ! C-ya there!
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