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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: All characters belong to Marvel. Don't sue me. Please. I don't have anything to give you, save my collection of L.M.Montgomery books. I have been reading Fannie Flagg - talk about inspiration. Do you want to share your thoughts on this story? Please write to me at

Mending Fences

(Chapter 4: Forget-me-not)

For Keri - who helped me sort out a nasty continuity glitch in such a nice way!

Gambit sits, cross-legged, on the floor of his empty room. His attention is focused on a single card - a strange, sick combination of the Queen of Swords and the Queen of Cups. In black, forcible scrawl, the words ‘We all have two faces' are written across the woman. Who could have left this here to remind him of Rogue's betrayal? The anger rises up in his chest at the memory and he suppresses it. Her mocking words still have a subtle, undefinable sting that hurts him every time he remembers them. A poison designed to wound and kill, because it was distilled from his own fears and shame. Gambit hates himself for these feelings - for using her as a tool to deliver and carry out the sentence that he felt he deserved. Death. He remembers the words of the old Catholic priest from childhood: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Death for death. Murder for murder. He remembers the look on the face of an unknown Morlock - the anguish and terror. She had caught at his legs and had begged him for mercy. For her child's sake. Sabretooth had known no mercy when he cut her throat while she was on her knees. The child had lain in her dead mother's arms, howling like a little, forgotten animal. He'd had no choice. He'd snatched her up and ran - ran until the blood and screams seemed to be a fever-dream. Ran until his legs gave out and had fallen, whispering over and over again how sorry he was. That it may have meant nothing to her then, but he hoped she could forgive him in time. Tears, as warm and sticky as blood, flow freely down his cheeks at the shame of the memory. For the first time in ten years, Gambit cries for the man he once was.

Rogue opens the door to her room. Weeks have passed since her return from space and she has got it into some semblance of order. Her bed is piled with stuffed toys - teddy bears and clowns, dolls and angels. A white coverlet is spread over it with a matching pillow trimmed with lace. Next to her bed, photographs stand. Fortunately, she had saved the negatives - hidden them under a floorboard where Bastion's Sentinels had not searched - and had had them redeveloped. A desk by the large window admits plenty of light and it is covered with piles of papers and books. Essays by various experts in the field of mutancy and mutant powers. She has been sitting up late at night, reading them. On top of this pile is a small bouquet of blue flowers and she smiles. Gambit must have left them for her. She picks them up and holds them to her nose - their soft scent is as sweet and fresh as childhood. Cody gave her flowers similar to these . . . . Rogue freezes instantly - these are forget-me-nots. A small card falls out from where it has been concealed by the blooms and Rogue stoops and reads it. In forcible, black copperplate, the words We cannot forget our pasts are written on its cream surface. Her past . . . . her private hell of abuse by her step-father . . . . daddy . . . . traitor . . . . Rogue throws the flowers away from her, crushing them with a heel as if she would destroy her history. Angrily, she picks up a doll with blonde hair and a vacuous expression and tears it limb from limb. Stuffing falls out onto the floor, white and puffy as clouds. Not blood like that which seeped from her cuts so long ago. The smug smile is still on the doll's face - holding an unknown and searched for secret to happiness. Next to be dismembered is a pale yellow teddy-bear, then a stuffed puppy, then another doll . . . . The floor is white with stuffing like the snows of Antarctica. Rogue sinks to her knees, utterly spent. Tears spill down her cheeks like they have too often these past few weeks. She wishes that she could escape - could fly so high or run so fast that she could leave who she is behind. Bury it in the cold, wasteland of her heart under Antarctic snows. However, the card states the truth of her whole life: We cannot forget our pasts.

Marrow smiles to herself as she fingers the delicate blooms of the forget-me-nots. They were a nice touch, she decides. The coup de grace. The straw that broke the camel's back. She tosses the flowers onto the soapbox altar and picks up some other implements. She whistles to herself as she whittles the wax of the candle into a shape - a woman with long, wavy hair. Nearby, a man stands in front of an aged photograph - he is also made of wax. Expertly carved by the hands of an angry child whose hate has translated itself into art. The girl in the photograph has such a longing look as she stares blankly forward into space. A tall, severe man in a priest's collar has his hand on her shoulder, tightening in a grip around it. The other figure, a woman, has a nervous smile and eyes that seem to be constantly searching for happiness and never finding it.

"Oh, Angela . . . ." Marrow sighs, "Soon I will be free of my past. Soon their blood will buy me my peace."

The girl's eyes stare back at her with fear and, if she could speak, it looks almost as if she would say: ‘We cannot escape our pasts.'

Warren Worthington sits on the rooftops, staring into the stormy horizon. Clouds gather there as they have been gathering for a number of days, threatening, watching, waiting. This fallen angel is undergoing a crisis of conscience - deciding between what he knows is right and what is his right. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, his grand-mother always said. He clenches his hand into a fist, squeezing tight as if the act will provide him strength. Perhaps it does, because he knows what he will do.

Gambit hides the combined tarot card beneath one of the floorboards in the room. He does not want to worry Rogue with its implications - the meaning which he behind the smiles of the half-Queens on the card. The knock on the door is gentle, calm. He quickly replaces the floor-board and wipes his eyes against the sleeve of his shirt.

"Entrez-vous," his voice, when he speaks, is as steady and cocky as always. The door opens and Storm slips into his denuded room. Her blue eyes are nervous as she looks at him.

"Good afternoon," she greets after a long pause.

"Salut, Stormy. What brings ya t'my corner of de mansion?"


"Shopping?" he sounds skeptical, "Chere, de only t'ing ya could pick up from m'room is splinters right now."

"That is precisely why I propose an expedition into town. To acquire some furniture and clothes - perhaps some paint as well."

"Hate t'break it t'ya, Stormy. I'm broke."

"Don't call me that," she chides automatically, "And as for you being ‘broke', I sincerely doubt that a thief of your caliber is without resources."

He laughs, "Ya know me too well, chere."

Lifting up the same floor board, he removes a wallet filled with sundry credit cards.

"Who is goin' t'pay f'r us t'day?"

"Remy . . . you have stolen credit cards?"

"Non. Simply ‘nough ‘liases t'last a lifetime," he grins, "Should I be Monsieur Alain duPrix? Or jus' plain, ol' James Jones?"

"Is Remy leBeau too poor to pay for his own accouterments?"

"Non," he removes an American Express Platinum card, "Never wanted t'use dis money - got it from pinches. From a couple o' rich men."

"Desperate times call for desperate measures," Storm answers, "And I would classify these times as desperate."

"Oui, but dere are some t'ings dat money won't buy back," he frowns slightly, "Photos. De garter I caught at Jean and Scott's wedding. Letters. Bastion took more dan our t'ings - he took ev'ryt'ing dat marked us as people."

"That is true, but he could not take the one thing that makes us who we are - that truly makes us human - memories, compassion, love."

"Mais oui," he shrugs, "We going now?"

"Certainly," she opens the door for him, "We can take my car . . . ."

Joseph stands on the threshold of the mansion, watching the clouds drift by the cerulean sky. It is a beautiful day - the air is crisp with the promise of rain and storms. He sees the car pull out from the driveway, watches as the two X-Men leave the premises and knows that if he is to confront Rogue, this would be the perfect time. He also feels the need to protect her and so he wonders if he should not rather leave her be for the moment. Desire and love conflict in this man's heart, tearing him in two. Yet . . . this is his life, the truth of who he is, and how long can he postpone that? Until Rogue's affairs are in order? Is that fair to himself? Or her? How can he love a woman - give his heart to her - if he doesn't know to whom the heart belongs? Joseph watches the sky and hopes for an answer.

Gambit groans as Storm drags him to yet another furniture store. They have spent an hour walking from store to store, looking at beds, chairs and desks - all of which have begun to look the same to him.

"Oh, Remy - is this not the most beautiful bed you have ever seen?" Storm stops rapt before a four-poster bed complete with veils and curtains.

"Frankly, chere - way I'm feelin', any bed would be beautiful ‘long as I could sleep in it," he answers, "But, non, dat bed be more f'r Sleepin' Beauty dan me."

"Then this one?" she points to a simple bed with a wooden base and headboard.


"Let us buy it then!" Storm claps her hands together like a child on her birthday, "Assistant!"

An obsequious looking man arrives on the scene, clutching a notepad. His hair is greased back in such a way as to make John Travolta proud and he rubs his bony hands together.

"Sir, Ma'am?"

"I'd like t'buy dis bed."

"An excellent choice - are you sure you would not prefer a double model?"

"Us?" Storm looks horrified, "No, we are simply friends. I came shopping with him because his girlfriend was busy."

"Charge or cash? We have an excellent credit plan if you wish to pay in installments."

"Non - charge it," Gambit hands him his credit card, "Ya need me t'sign anyt'ing?"

"Simply this slip," he gives the cajun a print-out and he signs it, "Would you like it delivered?"

"S'il vous plait. To 1407 Graymalkin Lane in Westchester."

"Thank you, sir. You will not regret it."

"Let's hope not," Storm replies, "Thank you very much."

"Merci," Gambit takes his credit card back from the man, "Where to now, mon amie?"


"Dieu me sauve," he whispers as they walk in the direction of an upmarket men's outfitter.
[God save me]

Tears have given way to sleep in one room at 1407 Graymalkin Lane. In the middle of the snowy field of batting, Rogue dreams.

Her mother was wearing a white dress. Her tawny hair, her one beauty, had been swept up upon her hair and fixed with a silver clip. She had looked like an angel, the child had thought as she had watched her with huge, green eyes. And her soon-to-be father was both charming and handsome, a Baptist minister, to boot, with an adoring congregation. People came from as far as Natchez to hear him speak. He stood at his podium, night after night, and expounded their sins to them, revealed God to their empty hearts, led them in worship to the Most High. (The child would only realise much later that his favorite verse of scripture was ‘spare the rod and spoil the child'.)

The congregation was elated at the match between the beautiful Gloria Butler and the handsome William Parker. There was, of course, the resurrection of the old, old rumor of Gloria's indiscretion as evidenced by the little girl, but most people forgot that in the joy of the ceremony. The first few weeks were something out of Cinderella - the poor girl marrying a handsome prince and living happily ever after. Ever after lasted a month. The cracks started showing in their marriage - the holy Reverend Parker had a taste for stronger alcohol than the communion wine and turned their home into a hell of abuse when he was drunk, purged their sin through beatings.

The child bore the brunt of his anger because she served as a constant reminder of his wife's indiscretion. He prayed as he hit her - begged God to forgive her father's sins - told her that this was the only way to heaven for an illegitimate child such as herself. The girl cried and begged and pleaded, but he never showed mercy. Often, her slender body was so bruised that she couldn't lie or sit but had to stand. . . .

Rogue whimpers softly, as the belt comes down hard once more, lost in her nightmare past.

"Remy . . . I wish to talk to you," Storm says as she helps him load the parcels into the car.

"I'm not stoppin' ya," Gambit answers, his eyes probing her with nervous anticipation in their burning depths.

"I do not know if you have noticed, but Rogue is acting strangely."

"Oui, I've noticed," he replies curtly.

"What is the cause of her distress?"

"It's private - she wouldn' want me t'tell."

"I am her best friend," she reminds him.

"Bien - but I didn' tell ya dis," he removes a cigarette from his pocket and lights it, ignoring Storm's disapproving looks, "It be about Cody."


"She hasn' told ya, has she? Cody was de name of de boy she kissed an' put into a coma - de boy dat Candra killed."

"And why has the memory of this Cody suddenly returned to haunt her?"

"Ya know de time we went t'breakfast de other day at Harry's? She saw Cody's cousin dere - she brought back all de old feelings o' guilt an' remorse. Found Rogue in the Danger Room, letting herself get beat up by a man."


"Non - older. Probably her père."

"Why her father?"

"Mon dieu - f'r someone who claims t'be her best-friend, she hasn' told ya a lot."

"You know how close-lipped Rogue can be," Storm defers, "But please elucidate me."

"Her father was abusive - used t'beat her up."

Anger flares in Gambit's eyes as he speaks.

"Could explain why she was so scared of havin' a relationship. Between Cody and Daddy, her experiences wit' men haven't been too good."

"Goddess - the poor child . . . ."

"Ya c'n say that again," Gambit crushes the stub of his cigarette out beneath his feet where it smoulders and slams the trunk of the car shut, "My childhood wasn' easy, but at least I had a family who cared about me."


"He loved me, Stormy. An' I let him down."

"I doubt that, Remy. You took the Elixir to save Belle's life because it was the only choice. Jean-Luc sent you away for the same reason."

"Still don't make it easier t'accept," he smiles wryly, "C'n ya wait while I pick one last t'ing up?"

"Certainly," Storm leans against the car and watches his progress.

Gambit walks a few feet away to where a woman is selling flowers on the pavement. Her body is thin with hunger and her hollow eyes look at him hopefully. She is wearing a tattered, print dress that once must have had daffodils on it and her hair is long and matted.

"Would you like some flowers, sir?"

"What d'ya have?" he asks, looking at the pitiful selection of daisies and violets. Forget-me-nots and roses.

"Everything that you see, sir."

He selects the least withered of the withered roses. They once must have been deep red, the color of heart blood.

"Dese'll do jus' fine," he takes them, "How much do I owe ya?"

"A dollar."

Gambit removes his wallet and takes out a ten dollar bill and hands it to the woman.

"Keep de change," he stands and turns away, replacing his wallet in his pocket.

"Wait . . . ." the flower-seller calls him back, "I mean . . . give the roses back to me."

"Quoi?" he hands them to her, perplexed.

A smile touches the weathered face of the woman and she caresses the petals of the flowers. Beneath her hands, they unfurl, rejuvenate, become whole again. Crinkled, dried blooms become velvety and smooth. The color deepens, becoming a rich, deep burgundy. Etiolated leaves are green once more.

"Consider this your own personal, post-Christmas miracle."

"Ya be a mutant?"

"A wife and a mother as well. Until my family was killed in a car accident and my husband's clan took everything he had," her eyes are lonely, "We cannot change our pasts. . . ."

"Madame - je suis très . . . ."

"Shhh . . . ." an impish, infectious smile crosses her face, "But we can take control of our futures."

"Oui . . . we can," he takes the roses from her again, "Merci . . . Madame?"

"Sunset Grace," she stands, "I hope these bring a smile to the face of your love, Charley-child."

"How d'ya know ‘bout . . . ."

"There are more miracles in this world than people care to believe," she answers, "Accept this as one of them. A gift from Marie."

She touches his arm gently, with compassion in her faded blue eyes, and disappears. Gambit stands there for a long time, roses in his hands, and wonders.


Continued in Chapter 5.

1. Caldecott County is fictional, however, we do know that is below Natchez (as Rogue speaks about seeing the riverboats and Natchez is the most inland port the riverboats reach) and that is on the Mississippi (same reason). I'm assuming, for convenience's sake, that it is fairly close to Natchez.
2. Sunset Grace is from X-Men #35.


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