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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.

Bet no-one can guess from which one of my stories this disclaimer is recycled:
Insert Standard Disclaimer. You know the drill - all characters you recognise are trademarked by Marvel and are used without their permission. I'm not making any money from this and nor should you ! Feel free to archive and distribute (Sounds arrogant that I think you might want to - but I do take all eventualities into account :-) ) Please don't change anything in it. Kay ?
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Mending Fences

(Part 7: Tunnels)

Rogue wakes with a start as the icy, brackish water hits her face with a splash. Where is she? The floor beneath her hip is made of rough stone and grates against her already painful leg as she scrambles to a sitting position. Her chestnut hair with its distinctive stripe of white is matted with blood and dirt from where she was hit on the head. She looks around her - the walls are made of the same stone as the floor and, in one corner, a rack stands. Dried blood and the remains of ropes cling to the manacles attached to it.

"Get up," Warren Worthington prods her with a foot.

"Ah don't think I can," she croaks from between dry and swollen lips, "Mah leg . . . it's broken."

"Get up," he repeats cruelly, "Like I had to when I lost my wings."

The X-Woman steels herself against the daggers of pain that shoot through her as she gets to her feet. A tiny cry escapes her lips as she puts her weight on her damaged leg.

"Why are you doin' this, Warren?" she asks, tears of agony and terror, welling up in her eyes, "What have Ah done ta you?"

"Let the traitor back into our lives. Given the man who deserved nothing, everything."

"Ah love Remy. Ah had ta . . . ta forgive him."

"I've always thought you had lousy taste in men," his eyes narrow and Rogue feels sudden anger rush through her veins.

"Least he isn't a hypocrite," she retorts, "At least, he takes responsibility foh his crimes, Archangel."

Rogue places emphasis on the first syllable of the last word.

"Shut up," Angel punches her in the jaw, causing fresh torment to blossom behind her eyes in white hot streaks. She falls to the floor, limp as a rag-doll, trying to absorb as much of the shock as possible.

Warren's gone crazy, she thinks, He'll kill me unless Ah escape. Won't bother him neither. Gotta fight back. Gawd - if'n Ah can only get past him . . . .

With supreme effort, Rogue battles to her feet, ignoring the pain.

"You like beatin' on helpless women?" she taunts, "Ah bet you did, Archangel. Bet you did everythin' Apocalypse told ya."


As Rogue had anticipated, he flings himself at her. She spins out of the way, letting his momentum carry him into the wall.

Damn leg . . . . she swears as it flares up again, Won't get another chance though.

Half-running, half-hopping, Rogue escapes into the dark tunnels. She does not get far. A silent, shadow-draped figure lands in front of her like a velvet-pawed cat.

"Nice try, skunkhead," Marrow grins, "But be a good damsel-in-distress and stay tied up next time?"

Rogue falls to her knees, exhausted, tears streaming down her dirty, raw cheeks. It was all for nothing . . . . She does not resist as Marrow administers her own unique form of anaesthetic again.

Gambit examines the disfigured teddybear further, disgust mixing with fear on his handsome face.

"Mon cher, petit amant - where has she taken ya?"

A small note hangs on a ribbon around the bear's neck and he pulls it off, ripping the thick, cream card.

The angels watch as the sacrifice is made . . . .

In annoyance, he crumples it up and throws it into the trash can. It has told him nothing, other than the fact that Rogue is in mortal danger and that he is powerless to prevent it.

"Dieu. Dis be all m'fault. If I had stayed away . . . if I had told her dat it was over f'r good . . . if I had let Joseph have her . . . ." he runs through lists of actions in his mind, the endless self-recrimination that has become his trademark.

He can see her face in his mind. See the mocking smile with which she would counter his litany.

"Trash," Rogue would say, "If'n y'all had done any o' those things an' Ah had been forced ta carry on without you, Ah wouldn't have cared if'n Ah was alive or dead. It wouldn't have been much o' a life anyhow."

"At least ya would be safe," he argues with her in his head. "Oh, hon, Ah've spent mah whole life playin' safe. Bein' restrained. Not lettin' mahself get close foh fear of gettin' hurt," she would laugh, "Remember th' diving-board an' how y'all caught me before Ah fell? Never felt so scared an' so alive in mah life before. Nope, sugah, better ta live - really live - an' be in danger, than survive."

"Ya will f'rgive dis cajun boy f'r bein' worried about ya?"

"Yeah," she would hug him, "Ah know it's ‘cause you love me."

"More dan ya'll ever know."

"It's just that," and here she would smile lopsidedly, "There is a reason Ah didn't fall foh Cyke, Remy."

"‘Part from de fact dat he's taken?"

"Ah don't want a man who is scared ta take chances. You ain't," she would argue, "You're a gambler. Ah love that about you."

"Oui, chere, but ya be de one t'ing which I wouldn't gamble wit'," he says to her empty room, "I wonder where ya are . . . where Marrow would take ya."

The words on the strange note come back to him.

"‘The angels watch as the sacrifice is made,'" he repeats slowly, "Angels. Warren - he be in on it too. Where would Warren take Rogue?"

Gambit smiles slightly as the answer comes to him. He would take her to where it all began - to the Morlock Tunnels. More specifically, to the place where he lost his wings. . . .

"The trap is set," Marrow says to Angel as she straps Rogue's arms to the rack, adjusting the ropes.

Angel sighs, "Why can't I get rid of the feeling that the hero is going to win the day again? Like in every bad Batman movie that I've ever watched?"

The ex-Gene National smiles and tosses him a bone-knife, "Kill her if the traitor gives any problems."

"Where are you going?"

"To deliver a message. . . ."

Joseph prowls the halls by night, unable to sleep. Fevered memories travel through his head in the guise of dreams when he does. Always Rogue is there, leading him by the hand into the deepest of terrors, into the most unthinkable of sins. Always the dream starts the same - he is in a tropical land in the middle of a snowy waste. A beautiful river bisects it, overhung with fruit-bearing trees and lush lianas. A land which man's hand has not yet tamed. A savage land. Rogue is there with him and looks at him with adoration in her green eyes.

"Come on . . ." she pulls him by the hand, leading him further into the tangled jungle. He follows, willingly, laughing as they sprint across the soft undergrowth.

"Where are we going?" he asks.

"You'll see," she smiles at him and he fancies that there is love in that smile.

They emerge at a temple, a crumbling monument of stones and pillars, of carved statues that constant rain has made faceless.

"Are we here yet?" Joseph asks.

"Yeah. We are," Rogue pauses at the threshold, still holding his hand in hers, "If'n you're brave enough ta find out where here is."

"With you, my love, I could face anything."

Hand-in-hand, they enter the temple, pushing away the vines that cover the entrance.

"Welcome ta your life," she intones solemnly, her voice becoming fake and harsh.

Joseph looks around the high vaulted room. Paintings in rich, beautiful colors cover the walls. He stops before one - a painting of a woman, her stomach rounded in pregnancy, looking at a figure with terror in her eyes. The figure is dressed in a flowing red cape with a helmet to match.

"Who is that?" he points at the woman.

"Your wife," Rogue replies, "‘Course she's dead, so she ain't that important."

"My wife . . . ." he repeats, dumbfounded, "With my children?"

Rogue pulls him on to the next scene. Twins - a man and woman - face the same solitary figure. Their faces are contorted in a expression of loathing and power crackles from their fingertips.

"Are those two people them?"

"Yeah. Th' Scarlet Witch an' Quicksilver - Wanda an' Pietro - ta those who know an' love them."

"They dislike me."

"That's an understatement," Rogue remarks wryly, "Can't stand th' sight o' you."

"Oh sweet heaven," he whispers softly, "Who was I?"

"Hon, if Ah knew th' answer, Ah would tell you," her face twists, "As is, you're nothin'. A man without a past. Without a name o' his own. Without pride or dignity."

"No . . . ."

She laughs, pointing at him.

"Without me. . . ."

It is at this point that Joseph wakes in a cold sweat. He walks to the bathroom and splashes water over his face, cleansing mind as well as body. He can never go back to sleep - too much afraid of  dreaming again, of reliving the terror. So he walks through the empty corridors or sits on the roof, watching the moon and stars. Tonight, though, he watches late-night televison, all the sensational talk shows that air for those who remain awake, wanting to escape the bitter truth of their dreams, their sins. Footsteps sound behind him and he turns, startled at being discovered.


The cajun looks at him and Joseph sees fear in his unusual, demonic eyes. Something is wrong, he knows that much from the expression on the other man's face as the loudness of his steps. Trained as  a thief, Gambit was normally as silent as a shadow.

"What is wrong?" Joseph asks, more out of curosity than any need to alleviate Remy's fears.

"Not'ing. Go back t'bed," the mutant replies absently, "I jus' came t'get some water."

"The kitchen is through there," the amnesiac points in the opposite direction from where the cajun was walking.

"Oui?" he snaps, "Den I need some air."

"What is wrong?"

"Listen, pup . . . ." leBeau turns on him, eyes blazing, "Stay outta dis or ya'll get hurt."

"It's Rogue, isn't it?"

Horror rises like bile in his throat, choking him. Gambit laughs hollowly in response, tears brimming in his eyes.

"Go back t'sleep. Ya still have dat choice."

"Something has happened to her, hasn't it?"

"Dieu de dieu, Joe. Ya can't take a hint, can ya?"

"Not when it concerns the woman I love."

"Guess we have dat much in common," he wipes his eyes disgustedly, "Damn New York cold."

"Please, tell me . . . ."

"Non, it wouldn' be fair t'involve ya," Remy refuses, "If I'm not back by mornin', mail dis f'r me."

He hands Joseph a crumpled envelope with a New Orleans address on it. The name on the envelope says Mathilde de la Croix.

"Who is this for?" he asks suspiciously, "A lover? Are you cheating on Rogue with her?"

"Es-tu fou?" the pride and anger is back in his eyes, "Are ya mad? Tante Mattie be de closest t'ing dat I have to a mother. Promise me dat ya'll send it ta her if . . . if I don' return?"

"I swear."

"Merci," he smiles briefly, an empty smile that speaks of unbearable sorrow then disappears out the door into the cold night.


Continued in Chapter 8.


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