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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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(Chapter 1: Splinter)
Rogue runs. Her feet pound against the cold wood of the floor.
She wants to escape, but she knows it is impossible. You cannot
escape from yourself, no matter how far you run. She has made
that mistake before . . . .
Yet this time it is not herself she is running from, merely
a new splinter of her already schismatic personality. A splinter
made all the more strange that it is one that she knew intimately
Why, then, is it exerting such control over her? Is it because
it is the second time she has tasted it? Been controlled by
She does not know, but she does know where to find the answers.
The origin of the splinter. Its source and hopefully, its
She punches the door open, caring little that the wood splinters
beneath her fists, that the hinges wrench out of the wood,
that the door crashes to the floor.
Gambit is a silent figure, lying in the tangle of blankets
and sheets on the floor that make up his bed. He has not heard
her entrance, being accustomed to gun-shots at midnight and
fist-fights at dawn, a result of growing up in the middle
of a war between assassins and thieves.
"Sugah." She bends over him, seeing the childlike
innocence of his face in the pale light. Knows that this may
be the only time that he truly is free of his past. Of his
She hates to wake him, but she knows she must before she
loses her nerve. Before she lets the truth slip away yet again.
Rogue shakes him a little roughly, trying to jolt him awake.
One red eye opens and regards her suspiciously.
"Not dat dis ain't a pleasant surprise an' all, chere,
but what are ya doin' in m'room?"
She swallows, trying to steel herself. Why is it that it
so hard to tell the man she loves how she feels?
He sits up, revealing a pair of ridiculously domestic flannel
pyjamas. He looks so normal. So average with the blankets
around his knees and the twisted sheets.
"Ah . . . Ah need ta talk ta you."
She knows she must look a mess with her swollen eyes and
tangled hair. With the blood from her freshly reopened wound
running down her leg and staining the sheet. Why is she so
weak at the very moment she must be strong?
"Ah decked Joseph. Knocked him out. He's lyin' unconscious
on th' Danger Room floor right now."
The humor rises in Gambit's eyes but fades as he sees how
obviously distraught she is.
"Ya be bleeding."
"Doesn't matter. Ah can't put this off any longer, else
Ah'll be too scared ta tell y'all."
"Tell me what?"
"That you're still inside mah head."
He nods, "I t'ought so. It begs de question whether
ya f'rgave me or I f'rgave m'self last night."
"Ah wish Ah could give you an answer, Remy, but Ah can't.
Not one Ah'm certain of."
"Dat's why Marrow was able t'hurt ya."
"Yeah . . . you don't want ta hurt her. Ta fight her.
You held me back, kept mah powers in check."
"Desoles, chere. I never wanted ya t'become involved
in dis mess."
"Nor did Ah." She sighs, "But Ah am now. There
ain't no turnin' back from where Ah've found mahself."
"Entre l'enclume et le marteau?" He asks, "Between
de devil an' de deep, blue sea."
"By your side. In bettah an' worse."
He laughs, "Ya little river rat . . . . Ya were de greatest
challenge o' m'life. Ya still are, truth be told."
"Ah wouldn't have it any other way, lovahbayou."
"What about Joe? Shouldn' we get him t'de Beast? Or
"Cecilia? No, he'll be fine when he wakes up. Bruised,
but fine." She pauses, "This ain't exactly why Ah
came ta speak ta y'all."
"Ah'm worried bout you."
"Ha! Ya come into m'room at midnight, bleedin' an' in
tears, b'cause ya be worried bout me? Seems like I should
be worried bout ya."
"No. Marrow's a killer. Ah've faced her before an' there
ain't a merciful bone in her body."
"You don't want ta hurt her - that much Ah know foh
certain. She wants ta kill you." She takes his hand in
hers, "You have ta fight her back. You have ta be as
ruthless as she is. Else y'all will die."
"Rogue. I won' fight her unless I have to."
"That's what Ah'm afraid of, lovah. That you will have
ta an' you won't."
He has no answer for her doubts. No words which can allay
her fears, because he has none for himself. She nods slowly,
eyes filled with a new resolution.
"Ah thought so." She stands, "Then it's up
ta me ta protect you. Ta make sure th' need doesn't arise."
"I won' hide behind ya skirts, belle. I'll fight her
if I have to, but I pray dat I won'."
"Sugah, you've protected me from your past an' look
where that led. Let me face it with you, help you through
it, protect you foh a little while."
"Chere, dere are some t'ings which I have t'face on
m'own. Wit'out ya help."
"Like you let me do with Cody?"
"Dat was different."
"How? B'cause you're a man an' feel some sense o' chivalry
towards me? B'cause Ah'm meant ta be a helpless Southern belle?"
Her voice rises, "Hon, Ah've nevah been comfortable with
th' role o' damsel-in-distress. Ah ain't a child - Ah can
stand on mah own two feet."
"I've never doubted dat, Rogue. But Cody isn't Marrow.
He not be a psychopathic killer wit' a grudge gainst ya."
"Like th' Phalanx weren't? Like you didn't risk
your life foh me by goin' against them?"
"Petite . . . ."
"What are you afraid of? That lettin' me help y'all
would make you less o' a man?"
"Non . . . ."
"Darlin', if Marrow gets a hold o' you, that certainly
will be th' case."
"Dis ain't your fight."
"Nor was Cody yours. But you followed me." She
states simply, "Darlin', we're both battle-scarred. It
isn't exactly like Ah'm Lois Lane an' you're Superman. I don't
need rescuin' any more than th' next superhero-cum-ex-villain,"
She smiles, "Ah'm invulnerable. Marrow can't hurt me
unless Ah let her."
"I suppose it wouldn' help t'say dat dis is a personal
affair? Dat it has t'be settled b'tween me an' Marrow?"
"Not at all." Her mouth sets in a line, "No
mattah what Ah used ta be, Ah'm a hero now. Heroes protect
those who need them. Y'all need me. Th' way Ah see it, Ah
don't got no choice. "
"Bien." He holds up his hands in surrender before
letting them drop to his sides, "I don't suppose ya picked
up any o' m'charm as well?"
"Wouldn't need ta use it. You know Ah'm right."
"I also know dat ya need some rest. Ya look exhausted."
"Ah'll be fine." She runs a hand through her hair,
smoothing it into place. "Fine."
"Mebbe f'r one minute ya stop bein' strong an' let me
take care o' ya."
Rogue smiles at his concern, preparing a suitable riposte,
but she is too tired. Too weak. Too grateful. "Sure."
Gambit separates the bed-clothes into two neat piles, making
no suppositions, no insinuations.
Rogue laughs, "Ah do have a room o' mah own. With a
bed. With a mattress an' sheets."
"Ya don' like campin'?" He grins at her, "I
t'ought it would bring back memories."
"All Ah remember is bein' so scared that Belle would
have gotten ta y'all first. That Ah would be too late an'
you'd be dead."
"I c'n handle Belle."
"You wouldn't have. Like Marrow - you felt guilty bout
what happened ta her, you didn't want ta hurt her any more."
"Merci, mademoiselle psychologist. Next t'ing ya'll
be tellin' me dat I'm attracted t'strong women b'cause I grew
up wit'out a mother and am seekin' a replacement."
"Actually . . . ."
He throws a pillow at her, hitting her in her face. She holds
it, hugging it to her chest.
"Let me look at dat wound."
Rogue stretches out her leg for inspection, "Ah told
you - Ah'm fine."
"Ya should bandage dat."
"Since when did y'all become Beast?"
"Since I grew up in de Big Easy where learnin' medicine
was a practical subject." He turns from her and walks
to the pile of clothes in the corner.
"Hmmp. Wasn't much of a life foh a kid by th' sounds
"It wasn't all bad. Ya made a lot of friends when ya
survival depended on how many ya had."
He tears off a strip of cloth and returns to where she is
sitting on her pile of blankets.
"Me? Ah grew up learnin' that if you were a freak, you
either could destroy th' world or be destroyed yourself."
"Ya ain't a freak." His hands are firm on her leg
as he wraps the cloth around her quadraceps.
"Ah know, but that wasn't what Ah was told by everyone
else. Daddy seemed ta think he could beat th' wickedness out
o' me. Mystique had a similar philosophy, but she tried ta
break mah spirit instead o' mah body."
"Mon dieu - remind me t'not attend ya family reunion."
"Ah wouldn't want ta either." She sighs, "Daddy
wouldn't approve o' you."
"You've got two strikes against you in his book. You're
a mutant an' . . .."
"A turpentine n*****."
"Ah was going ta say cajun."
"Oui, but ya daddy wouldn'."
"Yeah, he wouldn't." She grimaces, "Let's
hope that th' magnolia falls far from th' tree in mah case."
"Dere." He ties the fabric with a neat knot, finishing
off the bandage.
"Thanks." She climbs into the make-shift bed, pulling
the blanket over her as she does so. She hears his footsteps
across the floor and the soft swish as the curtains are drawn.
All comfortable late-night noises dating from before she discovered
she was a mutant. She burrows deeper into the pillow - it
smells faintly of cologne, smoke and sweat. All comfortable
smells dating from her childhood when she climbed into bed
between her father and mother in the early morning. The rustle
of blankets and sheets from across the room. His breathing
a strange lullaby in its regularity.
"Night, cherie." His voice is muffled by his pillow,
"Ya sure bout leavin' Joe on de Danger Room floor?"
"Yeah. Ah can't face him right now."
"Ya want me t'find him?"
"Ah wouldn't ask you ta do that." She replies,
"He should be fine."
"An' I wouldn' worry, ya be not'ing like ya father."
"Mgmmffow? Mmoo mmffevah mmet hffim."
"What did ya say?"
She raises her head from the pillow, "How do you know?
You nevah met him."
"I know. Bonne nuit."
The moon is bright above the mansion on this most beautiful
of nights, coming through the chink in the curtains, making
silver the bright tears on the woman's cheeks.
"The poor chile . . . ." The middle-aged african-american
woman smoothes her black, curls back into neat waves, "Why
won't she let him in?"
"You know the answer, Mattie. She's too pig-headed."
The other ebony woman laughs, her rich Jamaican accent amused.
"Marie. . . . It is good to have you back with me."
"You do not think we can help her then?"
"I did not say that. I merely think that it would be
more difficult than usual."
"You, then, will try? Will go against your vows of keeping
the mind sacrosanct?"
"I made no such vows, Marie. Mine are simply not to
hurt." Marie shrugs, a sinuous motion like the rippling
of a panther, "The child is already hurting and my heart
goes out to her."
"And your mind." Mattie adds.
"Soon. Not yet." Marie replies, "There are
more pieces to fall into place before I can restore the jigsaw
puzzle of her mind to completeness. More moves to be played
before I can intervene."
"How do you know? Do we have a right to prolong her
suffering when we know we can end it?"
"No right - a responsibility to ensure that the future
is as true as it can be."
"There is no such thing as truth."
"No, Mattie. There is always such a thing - you simply
have spent too long among those who hide from it. Those who
turn away from the light in order to evade their own darkness."
"You know why I chose to come here."
"For the children's sake, I know." She clasps Mattie's
hands with her own slim ones, "You could always leave
with me - you know the children no longer have need of you."
"They do. Now more than ever. You of all people should
know that, Marie."
"I do, but I hate to leave you in this nest of vipers
"I will be fine, my friend. The Good Lord will see to
"Hold on tight to your rosary, Mattie. I have a feeling
you will need all the help you can from the PTB's." She
moves slowly out of the door, "May the light be with
"And with you."
The floor is cold metal beneath his cheek and his head aches
with the throbbing echo of her blow. Joseph props himself
up with one hand, checking that all his appendages are in
place. How long has he been lying here? The room is dark,
save for the ghostly readouts scrolling up the walls.
Night. He shivers, more from cold than fear.
"Computer - open door."
"Error. All commands suspended from designate: Magneto."
Joseph swears silently. This system is obviously an old one,
quickly rigged back into functionality after Bastion's plunder
of all the mansion electronics. A back-up system designed
by Forge for just such an eventuality. A back-up system designed
when he was still the enemy of humankind and all who protect
its rights. A back-up system which will not recognise or accept
He hunches over his knees. Someone has to come soon, right?
He visualises the scene. The door slowly opens, spilling light
into the room, and Rogue walks through, apologetic. Sweet.
She tells him that she made a huge mistake - that she loves
him and wants to spend the rest of her life with him. That
she has always loved him and always will love him. Memories
as hazy and unsubstantial as stardust drift in his mind. At
one time, she said she cared deeply for him. That she was
his dearest and only friend. That she believed in him when
no-one else did. When no-one else had a reason to. However,
he asks himself, is this a fantasy or a memory? Because, after
all, what can a mind remember that has forgotten itself?
The door opens for real and he looks up, shielding his eyes
against the brilliance that surrounds the figure.
"Get up, Joe."
He unsteadily wobbles to his feet, propping himself against
the wall for support. The voice is familiar, slightly cold.
"Oui, who'd ya expect? De Easter Bunny?"
The other crosses his arms across his chest, looking at Joseph
with a mixture of pity and dislike. It is a look of which
Joseph is not overly fond.
"Why did you come? I thought you would be the last X-Man
who wanted to help me."
"Dis isn't f'r ya, mon ami." The tone of the last
word contradicts it, "Dis is f'r Rogue."
"Why couldn't she come herself?"
"Ya know, f'r someone whose just been rescued from a
night o' sleeping on a cold, metal floor, ya sound distinctly
ungrateful." He says, "Sure, I'm not as cute as
Rogue, but m'personality makes up f'r it."
"You know what I mean . . . ."
"She's asleep. Doesn' know I'm here." His voice
becomes cold, "She feels pretty bad bout deckin' ya an'
doesn' want t'face ya. I don' blame her."
"I didn't mean to . . . ."
"Upset her? Well, ya have."
"Can I speak to her? Explain what I was doing?"
"Non. She's asleep. It's probably best if ya avoid her
f'r a few days."
"I won't do that.I'm not a coward who
sneaks around and hides who they really are."
"So ya say." He shrugs, unperturbed by Joseph's
intended slight, "Trust me on dis one. Let Rogue come
t'ya when she's good an' ready. Don' push her into a corner
an' demand explanations."
"What would you know?" Joseph sneers.
"More dan ya would bout her."
Joseph clenches his fists, nails biting into his palms, knuckles
white as his lips.
"Which is why your relationship is so perfect. Built
on a foundation of mutual trust." He enunciates the last
word slowly and carefully. "You've never had any doubts
about each other, have you?"
"What would ya know bout us, Magneto?" His mouth
curves in a cruel smile, "When ya don' even know who
ya are yaself."
"Ya asked Rogue a hundred times bout de truth an' never
got an' answer. She couldn't tell it t'ya - she doesn' want
t'hurt ya. Par contre, I have no such qualms."
"Then tell me the truth. Tell me who I really was."
"Ya were a tyrant wit'out mercy an' de X-Men's greatest
enemy." Gambit pauses, seeing the effect of each word
on the other man, "Ya killed men f'r de simple reason
dat dey threatened ya power. Dat dey got in ya way. Dat ya
felt dey deserved t'die."
"Wh . . . ."
"Ya stripped Wolverine of his adamantium when he tried
t'stop ya from near destroying de world."
"But . . . ."
"Ya brainwashed de X-Men into fightin' each other an'
"I . . . ."
"Worse, ya betrayed Rogue's trust time'n'time again."
He shakes his head, eyes intent, "She looked up t'ya
- treated ya like de father she never had - an' like everyone
else, ya let her down. Inevitably."
"I always knew she cared for me." Joseph whispers,
"But I always hoped . . . ."
"Dat she loved ya? Non." He shrugs, "She worshipped
ya. Dere be a difference."
"Are you being honest with me?"
Gambit grins, a fleeting throwback to his past days of crime,
"Ya'll never know, but ya'll always believe me."
Joseph nods, "Then, for your sake, you had better have
been telling the truth."
"As ma tante always used t'say, dere is no such t'ing
as truth." Gambit turns, "Ya better exit de room
before I do. Might decide dat a night in de Danger Room would
be good f'r ya."
Joseph walks out, head bowed, hands clenched into fists,
eyes haunted. He does not want to believe Gambit, knows that
he could be lying but also knows that every
word spoken was the truth.
"Bonne nuit. Sweet dreams."
Again, the wolfish smile that leaves Joseph feeling uncomfortable.
Again, the red eyes flash with something akin to resentment
and hate, something that is beyond humor. The two men walk
on in silence down the darkened hallways, feet beating a soft
rhythm in time with their breathing. Gambit stops before a
door, hand resting on the door knob.
"Remember what I said bout Rogue. . . . De femme's been
t'rough enough. If ya truly love her, ya'll know dat an' stay
away until she's calmed down a bit."
He turns the knob and opens the door. A brief chink of light
is cast across the wooden floor, across the sleeping figure
whose chest rises and falls beneath the sheets and blankets.
The door closes, leaving Joseph alone with his memories and
fears. . . .
Continued in Chapter
when Joseph confronts Rogue, Gambit
gets a billet doux from Marrow, and Marie and Mattie interfere!
1) Flannel Pyjamas? It's winter. It's New York. It's -273
K. What did you expect? :-P
2) For all those who asked how Rogue could be injured by Marrow
in the First Story, here is your answer. (And you thought
it was a plot-hole!)
3) Bad pun alert! Bad pun alert! Merciful bone in her body!
Groan loudly! I honestly only saw that after I wrote it!
4) The Cody spiel refers to the Rogue mini-series where she
asked Gambit to let her face her past on her own and he followed
her anyway. The Phalanx bit is from Uncanny X-Men #343.
5) Unlike Quentin Taratino, I don't need to shock my readers.
Make your own deduction about the n***** bit - I hate the
word and refuse to write it. If you're interested in how the
cajun people got that ever-so-derogatory nickname, e-mail
me and I'll tell you.
6) Entre l'enclume et le marteau literally means between the
anvil and the hammer - the approximate english translation
is the devil and the deep, blue sea.
7) Marie is the really great character from Earth: Final Conflict'
who Auger and Marquette go to to find out about the Russian
psychic in a certain episode.
8) PTB's - the Powers That Be.
9) Magneto's history is very long and very complicated. Specific
references to some of the events Gambit talks about (i.e.
the killing of men) would be superfluous as they occue very
often and in many books. The X-Men were brainwashed in about
X-Men #2-3. Wolverine got his adamantium ripped out in (all
together now!) X-Men #25.
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