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(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
"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
"You like beatin' on helpless women?" she taunts,
"Ah bet you did, Archangel. Bet you did everythin' Apocalypse
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,
"Ya will f'rgive dis cajun boy f'r bein' worried about
"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
"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
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
"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
"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?"
"Merci," he smiles briefly, an empty smile that
speaks of unbearable sorrow then disappears out the door into
the cold night.
Continued in Chapter
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