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"Mending Fences"

Mending Fences

Chapter One: Splinter
Chapter Two: Miracle
Chapter Three: Child
Chapter Four: Forget-me-not
Chapter Five: Dreams and Reality
Chapter Six: Angel of Death
Chapter Seven: Tunnels
Chapter Eight: Anything of Nothing First Created
Chapter Nine: Hard-Bought Freedom
Chapter Ten: Hours and Seconds
Chapter Eleven: Birdsong
Chapter Twelve: Fallout

This story is in progress.

Disclaimer: Ho hum . . . read one disclaimer, read them all. All characters belong to Marvel. All prose belongs to me. Danger Room belongs to the X-Men. Don't use any of these to make you a profit as I am not. However, feel free to copy and archive - if you feel like it, drop me a line and I'll come visit your page. Also, feel free to e-mail me with criticisms, complaints and brickbats - I don't take them personally and I generally end up thanking you for it. Compliments and bouquets are also brilliant. I will respond to any e-mail I receive and that's a promise.
Carpe fabulam,

Mending Fences


(This story is dedicated to Gambit and Rogue - the real ones - not the whiny people who have taken their place in something out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.)

The stars are still bright on this most beautiful of evenings. Early cultures believed them to be the souls of the dead, or, maybe even, bridges between two separated lovers. Science has since proven them to be little more than balls of flaming gas - an interplay of hydrogen atoms in a constant fusion reaction - but the romanticism still remains. The sense of mystery and intrigue.

Of still believing that they may have been placed in the sky by a giant, unknown hand; a creator who sprinkled the heavens with diamonds.

Even to those who have been to the stars, they are still incredibly beautiful and incredibly distant. A symbol of hope and of the enduring human spirit. Of things that never die.

Gambit watches the stars from the rooftop of the Westchester mansion and remembers.

There had been many such star-studded nights in this young thief's life - many nights when the stars were forgotten for the sake of the pinch. For the thrill of the steal. Yet, it is not those nights he remembers, merely a single night. A night when one bright star had shone over the Antarctic in a show of reflected brilliance. However, it was not the star he watched, but the woman he loved as she flew away into the night.

Even though they had reconciled, had bridged the gap between them, the slight undercurrent of hurt remains. The bitter taste that mars the sweetness. The rancor of betrayal.

And who was it that was the real traitor?

The man who had done something which he had always regretted and for which he had tried so desperately to atone? Or the woman who had not forgiven him as she had been?

The question still hangs unanswered between them, despite his promises of honesty and hers of trust. The two things which neither them had ever known how to do.

What hope is there then? What star governs such a situation? Can the human spirit endure?

Gambit watches the stars and wonders.

Nietzche believed in the concept of an ubermensch - a perfect being gifted in every capacity. Central to this concept was the belief that what did not kill you made you stronger. That you grow from past errors and pains. That you are constantly evolving. That tragedy is the catalyst which propels your personal development forward. The young thief is not so sure of that.

He has had more than his fair share of tragedy.

Orphaned at an early age and left to the tender mercies of the street, life for Remy leBeau was little more than an exercise in survival. Everything he has done and everything that he is stems from that central principle. Do what you must to survive.

Why, then, did he choose to chase the impossible? What star was it that motivated that decision? Was it hope? Hope that you can leave your past behind, shed it like star-dust?

That, perhaps, you deserve to love as much as be loved. That life is more than survival. That life can have beauty and joy as well. That there is a greater difference between living and surviving than most would imagine.

So Gambit watches the stars and remembers. The curve of her lips as she leant towards him and then pulled away. Her subtle, rare smile. The pressure of her gloved hand in his. The pain and hurt in her deep green eyes as she pronounced judgement upon him. Her kiss, as sweet and sad as tears.

"Ah love you unconditionally."

The words blur into his hesitant ones. He had never spoken them to another woman before this one with her haunting eyes and face.

"But . . . I love you."

"You're honest with those you love . . . ."

"How could I be when ya weren't?" He says out loud to the stars.

They wink at him, seeming to hold the answer just out of his reach, laughing at him and at his doubts. Gambit suddenly knows what he must do. It is a simple choice, but infinitely hard to execute. He must forgive, for how can he be forgiven if he will not do the same?

He had not wanted to hear her explanations the night before, had not wanted to spoil the beauty of their reconciliation with clumsy words that explained nothing, so he had told her that everything would be all right. That he understood even when he did not. The joy on her face had told him he had made the right decision. She did not want to question her decision any more than he did, because she knew she had been wrong. They will move on, he knows, but things will never be the same. It still remains to be seen whether they will be better or worse.

Fluidity and grace, Rogue moves with both these things in the Danger Room. A born warrior with fists of steel and a will to match, she is a formidable opponent for anyone.

She has fought the X-Men singlehandedly and won. Taken on crazed assassins and defeated them.

Struggled against countless foes, both good and evil.

It is late at night and yet she still trains, as if desperately seeking some control of the powers which control her. The powers which have stripped her of any semblance of a normal life.

She counts the strokes in her head, "Left cross. Right jab. Leftrightleftrightleft. Upp-per cut."

Nearby, in the observation booth, a man stands. His hair is white, although his face looks little more than twenty-two, and his eyes are a startling blue in his bleached face.

He has stood here for every night, watching her train. He often wondered why before realising that it is because he loves her. That he cares about her well-being. Now he watches vicariously, scared that someone will catch him and ask him why.

He often wonders about her opponents as well - they do not seem fit for a fighter of her caliber.

Usually, it is a middle-aged man with darkish hair and a paunch to match his male-pattern baldness. Sometimes, a blond man with sad eyes. Sometimes, a woman with blue skin and red hair.

Always the result is the same, she falls to the floor in tears, sobbing as if it will exorcise her pain.

Always . . . . The simulation fades, dispersing into the air with a slight smell of ozone, and the cathartic process begins anew. But this time Joseph cannot bear to watch, cannot stand silent witness to her pain, and so he makes what some might consider a compassionate move. What others might even more simply call a mistake. He enters the room, his footsteps loud against the steel floor, wincing with each beat.

Rogue turns around, arms clutched around herself in a gesture of defence. She does not look beautiful then with her swollen eyes, lank hair and blood-stained uniform. The wound inflicted by Marrow has opened again and she limps as she walks towards him.

"Here. Let me help you."

The words are spoken before he can check them. Her answer is unequivocal, she lifts her hand and slaps him hard on the face, not bothering to moderate the force used. His face snaps round, his neck is wrenched by a few degrees, and he clutches his injured cheek-bone - half-conscious.

"Don't you dare spy on me again." Her voice is hard, rough, furious.

"I wanted to help." He whispers through the blood in his mouth.

"Then stay outta mah life." She plants her fists on her hips, "You've screwed it up enough already, mon cher."


Her eyes clear, become horrified.

"Ah don't . . . Ah'm sorry . . . Ah . . . Ah've gotta go . . . ."

Joseph nods, before relinquishing his grip on consciousness at last.

"They thought they could hide me away. Push me aside like an unwanted gift." Marrow mutters to herself as she stands by the wall. "They accept the traitor and they reject me, the betrayed. I'll show them. I'll make them pay."

She pulls a shard of metal out from her pocket, leaning closer towards the plaster, etching the words into the wall: "Blood-sacrifice shall appease the slaughtered. . . ."


Continued in Chapter 1.


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