(Part 12 - Fallout)
Tendons stretch as consciousness is regained, finger by finger,
phalange by phalange. Hands curl around white sheets, clutching
them tightly in balled fists. Body attempts movement, only
to be rewarded by sharp, stabbing pain. He groans, the actions
of the previous night becoming far too real. How could he
face what he had done? Hope to be forgiven for his selfishness,
his blindness? His eyes open, as the room swims in and out
of focus, then close again, in response to a sudden wave of
nausea. The darkness is too warm, too comfortable and comforting,
and the Angel relapses into blessed oblivion.
Damn! Damndamndamndamndamn. . . . Rogue swears
as she attempts to reach the chart at the foot of her bed.
Since childhood, she has always hated hospitals. Hated knowing
that some white-coated man held her life in his hands, and
could end it with a flick of his pen. Hated having no control
or knowledge of her destiny. She finds the Hippocratic Oath
cold comfort, as promises are easily broken. Her bruised muscles
and cracked ribs cause pain to shoot up her sides, but she
grits her teeth against it, cursing the immobility caused
by her broken, casted leg.
Mystique would be proud, she thinks wryly, Always
at me ta be a better soldier - stronger, harder, more resilient
... . Ah ha ... .
She swipes at the clipboard, knocking it to the floor, where
it skids to beneath the chest-of-drawers.
Damndamndamndamn ... .
The X-Woman lies back against the pillow, not wanting to
think of how helpless she is, how much effort the simplest
of movements costs her or of how much of a relief it is to
feel the soft cushion against her back. Exhausted, she closes
her eyes. Keeps them closed when the door squeaks open. She
does not feel like anyones overly cheery assertions
that we will be fine, wont we? or we
are looking better, arent we?.
Im not sure if shes awake yet, Tante,
a disembodied voice with a Cajun accent says, Henri
said she was up bout half-an-hour ago, but shes
probably fallen asleep again.
Pauvre, petite bete, a womans voice, like
chocolate-syrup, replies, Seen clan members dat looked
betta after a fight with an assassin.
Tante Mattie? If this was a fever-dream, it was a pleasant
one at least, unlike the strobe-flashes of blood and bone
that had haunted her. Rogue feels a quilt being tucked expertly
around her. It smells wonderfully of lavender and other unidentifiable
Fancy doctors seem ttink freezin
de patient is good fr her. Pah! Any jeune traiteur knows
She hears the squeak of a window being opened to admit the
breeze and soft footsteps towards the door.
If you dont mind, Im goin ta unpack.
Dat Scott found a room for me. You going to stay here, Remychile?
Tink I better. Marrow might return.
The Mississippian inadvertently flinched at the sound of
her name. A nightmarish, twisted creature who stood
over her broken body and laughed. Something so far removed
from the light, that it had become darkness. Something that
hid within layers of evil, unable to understand mercy or kindness.
She wanted reassurance that everything would be fine, as Remy
had promised so many months ago. Rogue opens her eyes, reluctant
to speak when she sees him. He is standing by the window,
resting his hands on the wooden sill and surveying the mansion
grounds. Slenderer than either Cyclops or Logan, with hair
gilded by the morning sun, he verges on the beautiful. He
looks more tired and worried than she has ever known him to
be, and she feels the strange, aching need to comfort him.
Hon? her voice cracks, still unused to speaking.
Youre awake, belle? he crosses the room
to stand next to her bed. He smells of expensive cologne,
soap and cigarette smoke, and she is suddenly, painfully aware
of the collar around her neck. Of the sudden removal of the
final barrier between them. Of the strange, new stiffness
in their relationship. She tries to make light of it.
Mmmhmm, darlin, less Ahm sleeptalkin,
she grins, Could explain why Ah look like a nightmare,
which, in turn, would answer th question why ya havent
kissed me yet.
I ... I didn tink yad be ... comfortable
wit it ... wit de collar on, dat is. I mean ...
dieu ... . he peters off into silence, playing with
the glove on his left hand, Logan tol me bout
what happened tya in Genosha. How Miz Marvel took over
ya body because ya couldnt cope.
She squeezes her eyes shut, willing the memories to return
to the box in which she had placed them. Their hands, touching
her in a mockery of caresses. Their leers and the scorn in
their eyes. The alternating endearments and curses. Darling.
Freak. Honey. Mutie. Sweetheart. Rogue.
Dont ya dare . . . she whispers.
Compare us ta those . . .those damned butchers
an what they did ta me. Tell me that ya touch is just
like theirs, because it aint. It cant be. Everything
they did ta me in that jail-cell was designed ta humiliate
me, hurt me, break me - an they succeeded. There was
no love in their touch. Wasnt even hate, cause
they didnt consider me worthy of hatin. Ah was
just somethin ... an animal, a plaything, an untermensch,
ta them. It aint the same. It cant be what we
have, she gave him a weak grin, feeling her eyes fill
with blood-warm tears and despising herself for her weakness,
An, leBeau? If Ahve gotta wear this collar
foh th next few weeks, Ah at least wanna get some
benefits from it.
Dieu, Gambit shakes his head, looking disgusted,
Wish I could turn back time an ...
Shhh, Rogue places a finger over his mouth, Ya
cant, but ya can give me somethin ta replace it.
Wordlessly, he strips a glove off his right hand, balling
it up and placing it in his pocket. With a finger, he traces
the line where the metal of the collar gives way to the skin
of her throat. She flinches involuntarily, not expecting his
hands to be so icy, or them to leave a slender stripe of cold
where he touches her.
Desoles, he has the grace to look embarrassed,
Side-effect o mpower, chere. Lose heat energy
tde air constantly.
Just a shock at first, she took his hand in her
right one, relishing the contact, rubbing it with her own
to warm it, Aint the cold so much as th
... strangeness o being touched without knowin
what ya feel, or think, or remember. Kinda like ... Ahm
touchin ya through a blanket, even though theres
nothin between us. Reckon Ahd jump like a scalded
cat even ifn you were Pyro.
Wouldn blame ya. Id jump as well if ya
Rogue laughs, but it sounds hollow in the sanitized room.
His touch has brought back memories, despite her protests
to the contrary. The warmth of the quilt and sheet becomes
the concrete of the cell on which shed curled into a
ball, and rocked the demons away. The weight of the collar
around her neck is unbearable, as clinical and cold as their
humiliation of her.
Uneasily, almost subconsciously, her uninjured hand creeps
to her throat and attempts to ease its way between metal and
Yeah, she says, rubbing angrily at her prickling
eyes, Gawd ... what is wrong with me?
Noting. What was done tya was wrong,
he kisses her forehead, as Joseph had some weeks ago, and
she wonders if that was to be the extent of her experience
with loving, conditionless touch - a succession of impersonal
kisses on impersonal brows.
Je sais. Poor excuse for a kiss, he grins then
sobers, gesturing to her wounded side, her broken leg, her
bruised face. Don want thurt ya though,
The unspoken corollary of that sentence hangs in the air
between them, like an echo in a sanitized room, reverberating
endlessly off bare walls. The Genoshan Guards can. Marrow
can. Angel can. Poor, dead Cody can. The holy Reverand Parker
Bien, he smiles thinnly, Guess a clinic
is as good a place as a cave fr our ... uh ... first,
real kiss, non?
She nods, remembering the painful night they spent as captives
of Nanny. There had been no love between them then, only the
desperate effort to cling onto the scraps and rags of something
that had once been beautiful.
Darlin, that wasnt ...
Je sais. I know.
Unsure of herself, but sensing instinctively the rightness
of the moment, she tilts her face upwards, allowing him to
make the final movement to her. Carefully, gently, she feels
him place an arm around her finely-muscled shoulders and touch
her lips with his own, less cold than his hands. Electric
terror runs through her veins, thrumming its own chord. Silently
cursing their omnipresence, she pushes the images of past
humiliation - of their eyes and hands and leers - from her
and concentrates on the moment. Terror becomes pleasure, playing
its own electric chord in her blood. When he breaks away from
her, grinning at her like a schoolboy impatient for approval,
Now Ahm th one wishin Ah could turn
back time ... so Ah could do that all over again.
He chuckles, Don need tturn de clock back,
belle. Don need tturn it back at all ...
Tante Matties hands dance over the delicate fabric
which she is embroidering. Butterflies fly, dew sparkles and
flowers blossom from beneath her plump, work-calloused hands.
She loves the fineness of the silk, the rich colors of the
thread: the coppers, emeralds and blues which make up this
pattern - a babys christening-gown. The recipient is
as yet unknown; as yet a bundle of cells and fluid; as yet
an uninked space in a clan Bible.
She has a suspicion that the wearer will be a Bordeaux though,
having seen how Belladonnas hand had gone to her stomach
in that curious, half-protective, half-aggressive way of an
expectant mother when she had heard of Matties trip
to New York. Was she worried that the healer would not return
in time to deliver the heir to the leadership of the Assassins
Guild? The all-important child for which the entire Council
of Steel had hoped and prayed? The traiteur permits herself
a slight sigh. She had once thought that Belles child
would be the symbol of unity between assassin and thief; a
living, laughing, crying truce between leBeau and Bordeaux.
Someone who would inevitably unite both Guilds and end the
centuries-old feud. Even when Remy had been exiled for killing
Julien, she had believed that reconciliation was possible;
that he could return and beg Marius and his familys
pardon; that peace could be restored through his marriage
with Belle and that their child could erase all past ills
with a smile. A part of her still unashamedly wishes their
reunion, but the rest of her blesses their new lives. She
is fond of Belles lover - Quentin Joignet, the scion
of one of the more powerful assassin clans - and little, stubborn
Rogue, realizing that they bring her former charges happiness.
That the love between either of the couples is far more real
than that which brought about Belladonna and Remys marriage
... It had been a beautiful wedding though - she an icicle
in frosted satin and mink, he a flame in black velvet and
red silk, complementing each other perfectly. As they still
::Wondering again about how to bring those two children
Amused, the psionic voice contains a gentle reproach.
::Dont ya know it aint polite tspy on
a bodys private thoughts, Marie?::
Mattie shot back, slamming partial, mystical shields into
place. They sparkle between the two traiteurs, like a sheet
of stained glass, refracting truth into myriad colors.
::Ouch. You always were streets ahead of me in terms of
defense. Scabbard to my sword. <ironic applause>::
::<embarrassment> Why ya be calling me, ma chere
::Because Ive touched Sarahs mind ... .Mattie
- Sweet Jesus - shes just a child. Barely into her teens,
if she is at all, but shes felt so much pain, lost so
much. Her psyche superficially is a massive scab, covering
a festering wound - the vengeance and hatred onto which she
clings like a totem. She believes that she will be happy and
loved once her people have been revenged and its poisoned
her soul. <pride being swallowed> I ... I need your
help, old friend. You could always touch hearts that I could
only sense. Cant you reach her, heal her, make her whole?::
::But ... . dieu, Marie ... she hurt mchild. Near
killed Rogue. Stabbed her own partner in de back. Worst of
all, she enjoyed it! ::
::Mattie. ... ::
::Non, Marie. Mdecision stands. Marrow cn
rot fr all I care::
With delicacy, Mattie thickens the sparkling, glassy shields
around her mind, making them opaque, as milky as marble. Impenetrable.
She feels Maries mind push against the barrier, but
subside as her friend realizes that any attempt to break through
would be futile. Shaking her beaded head, Mattie bends over
her sewing once more, hands sketching the petals of a crimson
To be continued.
- Will Mattie change her mind?
- Will Angel be able to accept his actions?
- What advice will Marie give to the distraught Marrow?
Find out next chapter!
Disclaimer: All characters belong
to Marvel and are used for non-profit purposes, but with plenty
of love. :) Comments will be showered with rose-petals, archivists
will have shrines in their honor at email@example.com.
MST_3K and Pop_Up are not allowed and, those foolish enough
to do so, will have Marrow set on them. :) Thanks to Irual
for suggesting in the nicest possible way that I ... uh ...
should get on with it, shouldn't I? :)
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