Achem ... I, RogueStar, do solemnly swear
not to use any of these characters belonging to Marvel to
make me a profit. I solemnly swear not to let anyone else
do so, but I do promise to let everyone archive freely provided
that they do not change a word and I am credited. I also swear
to reply to every single letter I get regarding this story,
but will cheerily ignore flames and spam. I also promise that
every single word of this story could be read by your aged
grand-mother\baby sister. I vow to keep on enjoying writing
it and to finish the story soon. Keep reading it!
...And the tide of memories washed over her. Rogue drifted
in a mind that was not hers; that had had experiences which
she couldn't vocalise; could have never imagined. The taste
of cold ice cream on a warm summer's day; the kiss of her
father as he tucked her into bed; the day of her initiation
into the Guild of Assassins; the half-sad smile of her husband
on their wedding day; New Orleans at night as no tourists
had ever seen.
Her first kill. She remembered the fright in the man's eyes,
the way he had begged and grovelled, the way she had shown
no mercy. Tears streamed down her face in a pain that was
not a result of her actions; a past that was not her own.
Rogue wept for a women she had just met and yet knew so well.
Indistinct voices came through a haze of jumbled sounds and
words; of sights and smells.
Her senses were alive with the experiences of a lifetime
crammed into five minutes.
"Chere, are y'alright?"
Remy, her husband, the man who had left her for dead. Rogue
turned, mouth twisted in a bitter smile.
"So, cher. At last, you decide to do your duties as
Rogue. The name of the witch who had stolen Remy from her,
who had touched him in a way she never could.
"Why are y'calling me dat?" She spat, "I am
Belladonna Bordeaux. Don' y'even recognise your own wife?
"Chere. Snap outta dis."
"Fine words, mon amant." Rogue shook her head,
"Maybe soon you start believin' dem."
"Rogue." He held her hands, "Come on . . .
you not be Belle. You not be my wife."
"Was I ever?" Her laugh was high and bitter, "Or
was I jus' a trophy on y'wall, showin' de whole world how
much o' a man y'were?"
"Non. I loved you . . . I did." He looked away
guiltily, "But, mon Dieu, I was jus' a pup. I wasn' ready
t'settle down . . . wasn' ready t'commit t'one woman. Least
not one I couldn' choose. . . not you."
Her green eyes were wild as she looked into his face.
"So everyt'ing dat you said on de day of our wedding
was a lie? All dose words we spoke o' love and honor, lies?"
He nodded slowly.
"Chere, we went t'rough dis. We both knew dat dere was
no love between us; dat all o' it was a desperate attempt
t'get two warring guilds t'gether. Dat we were de ones who
hadda pay de price for de sins of our fathers."
"Oui." Tears collected in her eyes, "But,
gainst my better judgment, I fell for you."
"Belle." His voice was gentle, "I be sorry
for de pain I've caused you . . . you deserved someone better
dan me. Someone who loved you like you needed."
Her scream ripped through the building, the cry of a desperate
woman who had lost all hope.
Rogue fell to her knees, sweat streaming down her body.
"Remy . . . mah lawd . . . sugah . . . cher . . . ."
"Yeah?" Her voice was fragile but unmistakably
"Mon Dieu. I'm glad you're back." He hugged her.
"Don' ever go absorbin' Belladonna's memories again."
She looked up. Gambit involuntarily gasped, horrified at
the change that had overtaken the woman he loved.
"Darlin'? What's wrong?" Her voice reflected the
fear in his red-on-black eyes. "Speak ta me."
His only answer was to hand her a shard of mirror that had
broken during his confrontation with Candra. Rogue looked
into it curiously, recoiling as she saw the face within it.
It was the face of an old woman, wrinkled with time and pain;
green eyes sunken within fleshy pouches of skin; lips withered;
skin blotched with burst chromoplasts. She flung it from her
"What's happened ta me?"
"Ya seem t'have aged a bit."
"A bit? Ah could be your grandmomma, Remy." Confusion
clouded her face, "How did this happen?"
"De Elixir." His voice was ashamed. "It has
dis effect on people."
"Wh . . . what?"
"If y'don' get eternal life, it kills you. Bit by bit.
Day by day. Eating you away from inside." He laughed,
"An' de only t'ing dat can make y'feel even a tiny bit
better is more Elixir. It's a vicious circle, chere."
She looked down at her hands, loose in their gloves.
"An' this was what was happenin' ta Belladonna."
"Any cure, sugah?" She sounded desperate.
"None I know of." He sighed, "But if dere
be one person dat can cure you, it be Tante Mattie."
"Tante Mattie? Th' healer?"
He nodded, vaguely surprised at her knowledge, "Tante
will be glad dat she is so famous."
"It's odd." Rogue hugged herself, "Ah know
these things an' Ah can't remember ever learnin' them."
"Y'can explain dat t'me on de way." Gambit extended
a hand to help her up.
Grateful, Rogue took it, not used to the fraility of old-age.
"On th' way ta where, sugah?"
"De one place dat I t'ought I left behind f'r good.
De Guild Hall."
Tante Mattie bent over the dried herbs, inhaling their sweet
fragrance. It tickled in her nose, causing her to sneeze.
With a smile, she ground them up and pushed them into a pouch
that lay at her right hand. It was another quiet day, she
thought happily; for, with a constant feud between the two
guilds, they were rare commodities. A knock on her door. The
old healer felt her stomach sink.
Who was injured now, and to what would it lead?
"Come on in. It's not locked."
The door swung open, revealing the one man whose arrival
Mattie could not have predicted.
"Remy? Honey child?"
"Tante!" He hugged her. "I've missed you!"
"Which is not why you are here, henh?" Her eyebrows
puckered together in a look of bemusement, "Now
are you going to introduce me to Madame here, or have you
forgotten all your manners?"
The old woman who had accompanied Remy laughed, a dry, crackling
sound like leaves underfoot.
"Sorry. Tante, dis be Rogue. Rogue, meet Tante Mattie."
"Remy! Such respect to an older woman." Tante Mattie
blushed, "I am sorry, Madame. He has resisted all my
attempts at cultivating any manners in him."
"It's fine." The woman smiled, wrinkled cheeks
folding even more, "Remy don't have ta be polite ta me."
"Why? Be you family t'him?"
"In time, mebbe." Gambit laughed, "Rogue be
The healer looked disapprovingly at the thief, "From
your letters to me, I gathered that your lover was quite a
The woman sighed, "Ah'm 22 actually."
"Honey, they do say that you are only as young as you
feel . . . but I know you be older than 22.."
"I c'n vouch for her. Rogue is younger dan me."
He interjected, "It be de Elixir."
"The Elixir? How?" Tante Mattie was confused, "She
is not of our guild. How could she taste it?"
"Ah absorbed it from Belladonna in an attempt ta rid
her of it." Rogue held up her hands, "Obviously,
"That foolish, foolish girl." She said in annoyance,
"Belle always was fond of doing her own thing when Tante
could have helped her."
"You have a cure?" Hope sprang into Rogue's eyes.
The healer smiled reassuringly, "Yes. I do."
She turned to Remy, "But you, child, will have to leave
"You sound just like that child who wanted to finish
the candy, even though he knew it would give him a stomach-ache."
Tante laughed, "Ain't it enough that I tell you you should
"D'accord." He nodded reluctantly, "But I'll
be right outside."
Leaving the door a fraction open, Gambit walked into the
"Shut the door, honey." Tante's face wore a look
of amusement, "He's been pulling that stunt since he
"Why does he have ta go?" Rogue asked as she closed
the heavy oak door completely.
"Do you really want your man to know everything about
The X-Man paused, "No."
"Then he has to go."
"Why? What are you going ta do ta me?" Fear filled
the eyes of the older woman.
"Rest easy, little one. I be a healer, not a killer."
She turned to the bottles on her desk, unstoppering some and
pouring their contents into a glass vial. The light refracted
off the oily liquid, bathing Tante Mattie's face in a golden
"Now . . . ." She handed it to Rogue, "Drink
"What will it do?"
"Don't go all suspicious on me now." The healer
looked disapprovingly at her, "Like Belle, you have to
be reborn. Have to relive your life. This here drink
is the only way I know how to do that."
"Child. It brings back memories since the very time
you were born, that have been buried.
Forgotten. By reliving your memories, your pain and pleasure,
you will in effect have relived your life." Tante paused,
"That's how the Elixir works. It attacks your mind, makes
you sick from within."
Rogue nodded, trusting this short, plump woman with her braids
and floral dress.
"Ah'll drink it."
She sipped the bitter liquid, grimacing as she did so. It
slid down her throat, burning her internal organs, shooting
fire through every vein of her body. Rogue screamed as the
anguish of her life tore through her body, as the raw wounds
of unuttered sins reopened, no less painful for their long
dormancy. Tante gently touched the woman's forehead, opening
her mind. Like a miasma of solidifying smoke, memories slid
out of Rogue's mind, becoming tangible on the crisp New Orleans
air. Mattie examined them, letting them drift through her
"She's not had an easy life. Poor thing."
Impulsively, Tante Mattie thought of erasing the pain from
the woman's mind; healing her shattered psyche. Her hands
reached for the small jar which contained a white, flaky substance,
then dropped to her sides as she realised that she had no
right to attempt to do anything about Rogue's pain.
Time to begin phase two before I do anything I might regret.'
The healer thought as she uncorked a small crystal bottle
which held a pink vapor.
"Breathe this." She held it beneath Rogue's nose.
The old woman inhaled it, jerking her head away at the bitter
astringency of the scent. The X-Man collapsed, a formless
shadow disengaging itself from her.
"Got you." Tante Mattie laughed in satisfaction
as she captured the psyche-eroding mist of the Elixir in a
lead casket. Placing it on her shelf, she turned to her patient.
"The child's asleep. No surprise." She brushed
a few strands of hair from Rogue's face. The young woman had
tears clinging to her dark eyelashes and her face was unlined
"Come on, let's get you into bed."
The healer grunted as she lifted the X-Man up and placed
her between the white sheets of a bed which stood next to
"Now. . ." She tucked a pillow beneath Rogue's
head, "To tell Remy that you are alright."
Gambit took a last draw from his cigarette before grinding
it into ashes beneath his feet.
"Feels like I'm goin' t'be a daddy any second."
He thought irrelevantly, "Truth be told, I couldn' be
more nervous even if I was."
The door opened slowly and Tante Mattie stepped out, wiping
her hands on her voluminous apron.
"She'll be fine."
"Remercie le ciel. C'n I go see her?"
"Rogue's sleeping now." The healer looked at him,
"The treatment tired her out and the child needs her
rest. Don't disturb her."
"Fine. I won'."
"Promise?" She smiled, "And don't go crossing
your fingers behind your back."
"Promise, Tante." He held his hands out in front
"I see you don't wear Belle's ring any more." Her
voice was thoughtful.
"Oui. I took it off when she died' and haven'
put it back on since."
"That's good, child. Keep your finger free for this
one's ring." She pointed to the room in which Rogue was
sleeping, "She's far better for you than Belle ever was."
"Tante?" He asked, "Is dere any way dat we
might touch? Physically, I mean."
"There may be at that." The healer looked pensive,
"Remy, chile. Remember that charm you were always using
"Yes. Got me outta more scrapes dan I care t'remember.
"I have long thought that it was lot more than a nice
smile. That it was empathic in nature."
"So? I'm an empath? How does dat help me and Rogue?"
"Rogue and I." Mattie corrected gently, "When
purging the Elixir from the child's body, I was able to see
her memories an' get a fairly good idea of how her powers
work. I believe that they are psionic in nature; that she
absorbs people's minds and uses that knowledge to control
powers sleeping within her."
"Y'sayin' dat I should use my empathic powers t'shield
my mind so dat she can't get at it?"
"Tante, it be a good idea." He grinned, "But
I can't control dem properly."
"Honey." She shook her head, "From the little
I hear from you, I know that you live with one of the leading
telepaths in the world, Charles Xavier. Why don't you ask
him for help?"
Gambit swept her up in his arms and swung her around.
"You're a genius, Tante. Merci. Merci. Merci."
He planted a kiss on her cheek. The healer blushed slightly,
straightening her skirts.
"You can thank me by invitin' me to the wedding, Remy."
"I'm gonna tell her right now."
"No. Don't." Tante Mattie grabbed his arm, "I
could be wrong. It wouldn't be fair to get the girl's hopes
up only to drop them right down again."
"You're right. Besides . . . ." He grinned, "It'll
be more o' a surprise for her when I touch her."
"You also musn't go getting your hopes up."
"What is life wit'out hope, Tante?"
"Nothing." She sighed, "Remy. You should be
going now. It isn't safe here - for either of you."
"I know." He said, "When can I move her?"
"Once she's awake."
"Which will be?"
"Soon I hope." Her brown eyes were preoccupied.
"Your father will be coming home soon. He will not be
pleased to see you around these parts again."
A knock on the front door, loud as any executioner's drum-roll,
rang through the building.
"Look like it's too late to worry bout dat, hehn?"
Tante Mattie motioned him to be quiet.
"I'll deal with him, Remy. You just go be with your
Gambit nodded, slipping in through the ajar door, hoping
that his father would once more receive his prodigal son.
I was worried, oui, more bout Rogue dan my father.
Tante was a woman of her word and even if she couldn't stop
him, I was always able t'handle him; defuse his anger wit'
a few words. But de question which was really preyin' on my
mind was whether Roguey was okay or not. Maybe dat was why
I could barely bear t'look at her face hidden beneath its
curtain of brown and white.
What if . . . what if what, Remy, if she really weren't cured?
If Belle had cost you - me - de woman I loved? Belle! De t'ought
struck me - we'd left her at Candra's place, unconscious,
I'd betrayed her once more. First for pride; now, love. I
brushed de guilt outta my mind as I turned back t'de
immediate problem. Belle was safe in dat fortress Candra called
home. She'd wake up soon, a little groggy p'rhaps but fine
enough; Rogue on de other hand, might not. Not dat I didn'
trust Tante's healing skills, mind you, it was just I didn'
like playing roulette wit' Roguey's life.
So dere I was stallin', tryin' t'put off what had t'be done
until I could no longer...
I pushed de hair outta her face an' almost laughed outta
pure relief. She was exactly as she had been de day I had
fallen in love wit' her: young, beautiful, almost vulnerable
as she slept. De sheets had been kicked off an' I picked dem
up an' covered her wit' dem, smoothin' dem around her. Her
eyes opened, revealin' a brighter green dan any emerald I'd
ever pinched. Dan l'Etoile de Tricherie.
"Remy?" Her voice was slurred and half-asleep,
"Oui, petite." I replied, "You rest now. I
make sure not'ing disturbs you."
"Can't rest . . . somethin' . . . somethin' Ah wanna
"Mah name, it ain't really Rogue . . . it's . . . it's.
. . ."
I placed my finger on her lips, was wearin' gloves, of course.
"Dat can wait til morning, chere. You need your
rest more dan I need t'know your name."
Don' know if she even heard my last words, she'd slipped
back into sleep - her breathing calm and rhythmic. I leant
over her and kissed her lightly on de single streak o' white
dat crowned her head, sayin' a silent prayer for dis, de queen
of my heart.
The door flew open, slamming as it did so, revealing a middle-aged
man. He was well-dressed in the ceremonial velvets and furs
of the thieves' guild, complete with the traditional scabbard
at his side. His face was handsome, lean and chiselled, and
his moustache lent him an austere and slightly stern look.
Gleaming cold fire, Jean-Luc leBeau's eyes narrowed as he
regarded his prodigal son.
"Bonjour, mon pere."
"Remy. Pourquoi es-tu ici?"
[Remy. Why are you here?]
"Tu ne salues pas ton fils favori? Je suis blesse!"
[You don't greet your favorite son? I'm hurt.]
"Je me repeterai . . . pourquoi es-tu ici?"
[I will repeat myself . . . why are you here?]
"Je suis venu parce-que j'ai eu besoin d'une guerisseuse
. . . Tante Mattie."
[I came became because I needed a healer . . . Tante Mattie.]
"Pourquoi? Es-tu blesse?" The man was worried.
[Why? Are you hurt?]
"Non. Mon amant a essaie d'aider Belladonna mais elle
est tombee mal."
[No. My lover\girlfriend tried to help Belladonna but she
Remy stood aside to reveal the sleeping form of a woman.
Jean-Luc leBeau looked at her, at the elegant lines of her
form and face, at the streaked hair which cascaded over her
pillow, at the sweet smile that curved her lips. A sense of
pity overtook him and he nodded.
"D'accord . . . vous pouvez rester ici jusqu'a elle
va bien, mais puis tu dois aller et ne rentres jamais en New
Orleans et ta famille."
[Fine . . . you may stay here until she is well, but then
you must go and never return to New Orleans and your family.]
"Je comprends." Remy nodded his head.
Jean-Luc could stay no longer and look at the boy for whom
he once had such high hopes; the most skilled thief and heir
apparent to the throne of the Guild of Thieves.
"Adieu." He said, holding back bitter tears.
"A la prochaine."
Jean-Luc leBeau walked out of the room, his footsteps sharp
against the wooden floor. Gambit watched his progress down
the hallway with the knowledge that his father took with him
a part of himself which he could never hope to reclaim.
Night passed in dreams for both the thief and the young woman,
whom he loved, and soon the sun streamed in through the open
window; creating long, shadows across the wooden floor. The
air was scented with smoky herbs and speckled with dust. Rogue
yawned, stretching her stiff and tired muscles. Lethargy gripped
her and she felt that there was nothing better she would have
liked to do than sink back into bed and fall asleep once more.
She yielded to the impulse and crawled back beneath the covers.
Her head was pounding from the treatment which Tante Mattie
had administered to her and she was exhausted - physically
and mentally - from yesterday's exertions.
Yesterday . . . love was such an easy game to play . . .
the words from an old song came back to her, touching her
where it stung the most, pouring salt into open wounds. Remy
was married. She had not been the only woman in his life,
she knew that, but she had felt that she had been the only
one whom he truly loved. Now? Now, she wasn't so certain.
Maybe she was one in a long progression of women, who had
danced beside him for a few seconds, then whirled away into
memory. Maybe. The knock on the door disturbed her thoughts,
something for which she was not ungrateful.
"Come on in."
It swung open. Gambit stepped into the room, preoccupation
written all over his handsome features.
"Rogue? Are y'ready t'go yet?"
"Halfway there, sugah. Why are y'all in such a rush?"
"Dere be somet'ing goin' on. I c'n feel it."
"Remy, you've been hangin' around Logan too much lately."
"Chere. I'm serious. When you've lived in de Big Easy
all your life in de middle of a constant war between t'ieves
and assassins, y'develop certain instincts f'r trouble."
"Ah understand." She climbed out of bed. "Give
me five seconds ta get changed and Ah'll be right there."
"D'accord." He folded his arms.
"Five seconds with you outta th' room?" She teased.
Gambit laughed and walked out, closing the door behind him
as he left.
Rogue quickly got dressed in the clean pair of clothes that
she had found lying on a table, and exited the room.
"Finally, chere." Gambit said, extinguishing his
cigarette on the floor beneath his feet.
"Ready?" She looked disapprovingly at the ashes.
" Course . . . it'll be nice t'go back home again."
"Home? Ain't this your home?" She asked.
"Was. Ain't anymore. I'm an X-Man now . . . ."
He grinned, "Besides, Rogue, anywhere you are has t'be
home t'me too."
She laughed, "Ah'll remind you o' that particular statement
when Ah'm neck-high in muck."
"Maybe one day we'll see bout makin' it a real
home." He took her hand, ignoring her flippant response.
Rogue was silent. "That ain't gonna happen in a hurry,
sugah. Ain't a man alive or dead who'd want a wife he couldn't
"Dere . . . ." Gambit cut himself off in midsentence.
"There . . .?" Her green eyes were curious.
"Not'ing. We should be going anyhow."
"Yeah. Y'all is right . . . Cyke is probably climbin'
walls by now."
"Didn' miss him." Gambit muttered.
She laughed, "Scott's okay. In a paranoid, leader kinda
They walked down the hallway, taking their first steps towards
the place which to both of them had become home, unaware that
in a few short days everything would change...
The telepathic caccoon was warm around David Haller's astral
self. He buried deeper into it, clutching at the shattered
fragments of his mind. Here he healed, rejuvenated, became
whole once more. Memories, as insubstantial as smoke,
passed through his mind as simple words and pictures. Father.
Daniel. Israel on a balmy day. Mother. Aleph, Beth, Gimel,
The last thought caused a ripple of irritation across his
mind. Magneto. The man who had cost his father a dream. David
couldn't bear this enforced rest any longer. Pushing with
all his might against the shields which surrounded his psyche,
Legion broke free. His eyes blinked open. Hands curled into
fists. Ears heard once more - gasps, fear. One thought passed
through his waking mind - he would no longer disappoint his
father; he would acheive his dream by removing the only obstacle
to it...the man known as Magneto...
Zodiac woke up, cold sweat pouring down her back. She had
seen something which she could never have expected . . . something
which was terrifying in its reality . . . ragnarok . . . armageddon
. . . the end of the world...
Continued in Chapter
1. Gambit has been reputed to have a fairly high-level empathic\telepathic
power. I have probably made it a little more powerful than
it actually is but not terribly much. If he was able to hide
his mind from Psylocke and detect her presense in it, he must
have some empathy. In one of the comics, someone talks about
Gambit being notoriously hard to psi-scan ... even Xavier
had trouble.' To me this is indicative of a level 3 (if not
2 or 1) empath\telepath. You may feel differently.
2. My explanation of Rogue's powers is, just that, my explanation.
Imagine if every mutant had the potential for every power
and couldn't tap into it; that by absorbing people's minds,
Rogue knew how to tap into it and did. HUGE HYPOTHESIS!
3.The word amant is a little out of place there but the alternative
is too horrible to contemplate. Petite-amie (meaning little
friend) will I not use!
4. Uhhh ... another French matter ... adieu means Until
God' and is more final than a la prochaine which simply means
5. I don't know the artist or origin of 'Yesterday' - no-prize
to whoever can tell me!
6. Aleph, Beth, Gimel, Daleth are the first four letters of
the hebrew alphabet (or would that be alephbet?)
8. Long footnotes are cool, n'est-ce pas?
In Smoke and Mirrors 14:
* Legion's Quest (My version)
* A kiss is still a kiss'
* Ragnarok! The End of the World! Armageddon!
* The Multiple Clones of Howard Mackie Society (MCHMS - Join
today!) vs The Multiple Clones of Klaus Janson Club (MCKJC
- Uncle Klaus wants you!) Who'll win? Who'll lose? D'Oh. The
answer to the latter is the reader!!!!
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