Gee, I never thought that I would get
to the final chapter and here I am! Thanks for reading - I
hope you have enjoyed the ride as much as I have. You know
the disclaimer bit by now. All characters do belong to Marvel
and all content in this book belongs to me. From this there
are a few logical conclusions which I'll leave you to work
P.S. I want to thank some people now for all their support
First of all, to my Dutch buddy, Roy - thank you for running
around and finding me lyrics for songs as well as the compliments
as well as being a great friend. To Sunfire, I can't thank
you enough for everything you've done - I know I must have
thanked you about fifteen times, but it isn't enough.
To Montana Matheson (a.k.a. Blackeye), your criticisms have
challenged me and helped me become a better writer while your
compliments have been wonderful! To everyone (I can name you
by name but don't have space :-) ) who has written into me
and told me what they thought, I appreciate it. To everyone
who has read but has not written in, thank you for reading.
And now for the final chapter...
"What th'..." Rogue wakes. The room is completely
dark. Ominous. She feels around her with a hand. Metal. A
viscous substance gripping her wrists and ankles. She attempts
to break free but it stretches and contracts even tighter.
A voice echoes in the hollow room.
"Continued efforts would only lead to your blood-flow
being cut off. I would stop, if I were you."
"Who are you?" She asks as terrified as the child
who cowered from her father. As the girl who absorbed Ms Marvel.
As the woman who kissed the man she loved and saw how evil
he had been. The lights come on. Cold. Merciless. The girl
standing in front of her evokes similar emotions.
Her silver hair flares around her like an electric nimbus
and she is wearing a long black dress.
"You can call me Zodiac."
"Why'm Ah here?" She asks, "Wherever here
"By yourself, you are not important. But your presence
"Do y'all always speak in riddles?"
"I'm a precognitive. It comes in the job description."
"So you won't - or can't - give me a straight answer."
"Why should I?"
"That is more than enough, Zodiac." His voice fills
the room like liquid darkness. "Allow me to continue."
"Sinister." Rogue spits. "Ah shoulda guessed
you were behind all this."
"Bravo." Smoke billows up in clouds out of which
Sinister materialises. "I am sorry to involve you in
this essentially private business, but efficacy outweighed
sympathy in this case."
"What do you want me foh?"
"For someone who once said that they did not play damsel
in distress very well, you are doing admirably." He strokes
her cheek with a black-gloved hand, sending an icy tingle
down her spine, "I almost expect you to tell me that
I won't get away with this."
"Y'all are tryin' ta get ta Remy through me?" She
"Beautiful and intelligent."
"Save th' compliments." Rogue snaps, "What
if Ah said that Ah wanted ta help you?"
"What?" Sinister's eyes glow a demonic red.
"He's hurt me in more ways than one." A smile plays
across her mouth, "Both by what he did a long time ago
an' by his refusal ta tell me. Then he has th' nerve ta ask
me ta trust him, that he'll make everythin' right when he
can. Said Ah would but Ah didn't mean it."
"How do I know that you are not lying in an attempt
to get me to free you?"
"Y'all has ta trust me." She says, "Ah can
get closer ta him than you can. Strike th' killin' blow before
he even knows what hit him."
"She has a point, Essex." Zodiac says.
"Very well, Rogue." He presses a button, releasing
her from her chains.
"But know this, no-one betrays Sinister and lives."
"Ah know an' Ah won't."
"Now it is time for my favorite part of this great play
which I have written and directed - the grand finale."
He touches a panel.
"Oh mah lawd . . . ."
Gambit was sitting in Harry's Hideaway, drinking a beer with
his teammates, surrounded by the scents of pine and cider.
Now? Now, he has no idea where he is. The stench of death
is everywhere. In his hair. On his clothes. Inside his body.
Smoke hangs on the air, redolent of a funeral pyre or some
ancient ritual to a dark god. To Pluto or Kali. He looks around
and sees only himself, reflected into infinity by a bank of
mirrors. After spending his life running away from who he
is and what he has done, he is now confronted by the truth.
"Where am I?" He asks out loud, hoping and dreading
"You are in the place where all truth becomes known."
A girl's voice. Low. Melodic.
"An' who be you?"
"I am Tezcatlipoca." The voice changes. Becomes
angry. Sinister. "I am your judge and your victim."
"What d'ya mean?"
"See and remember."
The mirrors change, begin to show images. Of a tunnel. Of
him leading the Marauders. Of the dim light which shone of
teeth and blades. Of fear and pain. And, finally, of a child.
Of her silver eyes as she looked at him. Of him scooping her
up in his arms and running faster than he had thought possible.
Of him putting her safely on a ledge, where she had watched
horrified. His words.
"Mebbe one day you might understand why I did it. Might
be able t'forgive me, b'cause I sure could never f'rgive m'self."
"It was you." Her voice becomes that of a scared
child, "It was you who saved me, but if it was not for
you I wouldn't have needed to be saved."
"You. . .you be de child I saved."
"Why'd ya bring me here, petite?"
"She was working on my orders." His voice has been
in Gambit's nightmares for the past four years. The voice
of the man who had sent him to the tunnels to begin a massacre.
To repay a debt. The voice of Sinister.
"Petite . . . y'be confused." He starts, "I
was jus' a pawn dat Sinister sacrificed t'acheive his goal.
Dat's part o' de reason I took dis name. B'cause I was de
gambit which Sinister played t'kill your kind."
"She will not listen to you any longer."
"What have y'done t'her?"
"She is unharmed." A pause. "Physically."
"What d'ya want wit' me after all dese years?"
He says angrily, "M'debt is repaid in full. I don' owe
"It has been foreseen that you will be the one to defeat
me. Naturally, if you are dead, you pose no threat to my plans."
"Give me one reason why I shouldn' kill ya right now."
"One word. Rogue."
"Ya have her?"
"Of course. I always make sure that my position is defensible."
"How do I know you ain't lyin'?"
"See for yourself."
She steps out of the smoke. Her nightdress is torn and soaked
with sweat and she has a cut across her cheek.
"I be sorry f'r dis, Belle. Never wanted you t'get caught
up in dis mess."
"It's fine." She steps forward to hug him, holding
a knife behind her back.
As she buries her face in his shoulder, she slips the blade
to him. It flares as he touches it.
"So you betrayed me after all." Sinister sounds
amused, "Remember what I said happened to traitors?"
The mirrors begin to glow, changing color to white-gold as
they heat up.
"Dey be some sort of weapon."
"Remy . . . Ah . . . Ah don't know what ta do."
She says, "Th' ceilin' ain't high enough foh me ta fly
an' mah invulnerabilty won't stand up ta lasers."
"Simple, chere." He grins, "But you gotta
promise t'trust me an' hold on tight."
"Ah do." She slips her arms around his waist.
"Bon." He closes his eyes, concentrating.
Sweat drips down his face and onto the floor.
The mirrors shatter, spraying bright shards in every direction,
beams of pure energy emerging from them. Rogue gasps as they
come towards her and suddenly stop, falling useless to the
Facets lie on the cold metal, reflecting the thousand disparate
parts of his life - their cold light offering complete enclosure,
laying bare every hidden secret and past shame, then fade
and die, reflecting only that which is.
"What did y'all do, Remy?" Her eyes are wide with
"Psychokinetic shield, chere."
"But . . . but . . . that would make you a telepath?"
"Oui. Been meanin' t'show you for some time but kept
on f'rgettin'." His forehead creases, "Where are
"An abandoned warehouse by th' looks o' things."
"Where is Sinister?"
"Popped inta one of his tessaract chambers an' hightailed
it outta here."
"An' de fifille?"
"She's gone too. I think Uncle Sinny took her with him."
He nudges one of the shards with his foot, "Guess dat's
"No . . . ." She says hesitantly, "Was this
"Ah mean th' thing that you wouldn't tell me."
She picks up a fragment, "Were you responsible foh th'
He nods, ashamed, "Oui, dat's it."
Her eyes are horrified, scared. Terror melting into disgust.
"Oh lawd . . . oh mah sweet lawd . . . tell me that
ain't true. Tell me it weren't your fault."
"It was, chere. An' I've regretted it ever since. If
I could give anyt'ing t'take back dat day, I would. I'd move
heaven an' earth t'make amends."
"Why'd y'all do it?" She asks.
"Remember how at Illyana's grave, I told you dat I was
you at one time? I wasn' sayin' it t'cheer ya up - I was."
He looks at his hands, flexing his slender fingers, "I
lost control over m'power. Everyt'ing I touched either blew
up or was destroyed. D'ya know what dat is like?"
"Yeah. Ah think Ah have a fair clue."
"What if, chere, someone had come along an' offered
ya a chance t'change all dat? T'control your powers? T'be
able t'touch again?"
"Ah would take it. No matter what th' cost was."
"I was in Seattle. In a theater. De place was a burnt-out
wreck, rather like me, an' I used t'go dere when I wanted
t'get away from what I was. When I wanted t'act out another
"Sinister found me dere. I'll never forget de words
dat he said. I c'n offer you freedom from de power which
constrains ya. Let ya live again. But ya first have t'do somet'ing
"Oui." He nods, "If I had known dat it was
dat bad, I would o' turned him down. Ain't not'ing worth de
price o' your humanity."
"Ah can't say Ah would have done any different, sugah."
Tears falling down his cheeks, mingling with blood and sweat.
Her arms around him, holding him tight to her.
"Hush, darlin'." The sweet magnolia scent of her
hair blocks out the memory of death's stench, "It's ovah,
it's all ovah."
Her gloved hands touch his face gently, wiping away his tears.
"Are . . . we . . . over?" He asks.
"Mon Dieu. I hope y'd feel dis way, dat everyt'ing would
be right. But . . . ."
She holds him at arm's length, her green eyes looking intently
"Remy, Ah love you. Why would that change because o'
what you did? Why would Ah?"
"Chere. What I did was terrible . . . worse . . . .
I'd understand you not lovin' me any more."
"Ah fell in love with Gambit - th' X-Man - with you
- not with what y'all used ta be." She sighs, "Besides
Ah'm queen o' th screwed up past. Ah've killed innocents,
know what it's like ta have their blood on mah hands. How
can Ah judge you?"
"Chere . . . ."
"Hush." She places a finger on his lips, "Next
thing Ah know you'll say you don't want me."
The joke sounds weak to her own ears, but Gambit laughs.
"O' course I do." He pauses, "It's jus' dat
t'ings can't go on de way dey have been."
"What do you mean? It's ovah?"
"Au contraire, Roguey. It's only jus' begun."
He leans forward and kisses her on the lips. Instantly, she
recoils, scared that history is repeating itself.
"Darlin'?" She whispers as she sees him still standing
there, "Oh darlin'."
She puts her arms around his neck and he smiles.
" Member me tellin' you everyt'ing would be alright."
Then Rogue kisses him, relishing the sensation of being able
to touch freely and without fear. Of being able to touch with
- Fin -
1. Kali was a Hindi Goddess who demanded sacrifices to appease
her. Often they were human. Pluto was the Lord of the Underworld
in Greek Mythology. He became Hades when the Romans took over.
2. Tezcatlipoca was chief god of the Aztec people. His name
means 'Smoking Mirror.' (Man, my mom's mythology dictionary
has come into play in this issue)
3. I have deliberately chosen not to focus too much on what
Gambit actually did; I prefer to look at people's reactions
to a situation, rather than give a blow-by-blow, gory account
of his sins. Besides which, I don't have #350 yet (thanks
to my rather awful comic book store :-( ) and can't really.
4. For those non-chessy types, a gambit (You get various kinds)
is a move where a piece is sacrificed to gain an advantage
and\or win the game. The most common kind is when a pawn is
5. State Name Game Time: Mississippi is known as ... the Magnolia
6. Amen to Rogue's never-changing feelings, IMO.
Ah gee, I'm all in tears right now. I
can't believe I'm finished and don't want to be. :-(
Guess this calls for a sequel some time in the far distant
Hmm ... Joseph ? Miss Marvel returns ? A wedding ? Family
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