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disclaimer, read them all. All characters belong to Marvel.
All prose belongs to me. Danger Room belongs to the X-Men.
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(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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
Her eyes clear, become horrified.
"Ah don't . . . Ah'm sorry . . . Ah . . . Ah've gotta
go . . . ."
Joseph nods, before relinquishing his grip on consciousness
"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
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
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