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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.

Mending Fences

(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 anyone’s overly cheery assertions that ‘we will be fine, won’t we?’ or ‘we are looking better, aren’t we?’.

“I’m not sure if she’s awake yet, Tante,” a disembodied voice with a Cajun accent says, “Henri said she was up ‘bout half-an-hour ago, but she’s probably fallen asleep again.”

“Pauvre, petite bete,” a woman’s 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 herbs.

“Fancy doctors seem t’t’ink freezin’ de patient is good f’r her. Pah! Any jeune traiteur knows better.”

She hears the squeak of a window being opened to admit the breeze and soft footsteps towards the door.

“If you don’t mind, I’m goin’ ta unpack. Dat Scott found a room for me. You going to stay here, Remychile?”

“T’ink 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.

“You’re 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 Ah’m sleeptalkin’,” she grins, “Could explain why Ah look like a nightmare, which, in turn, would answer th’ question why ya haven’t kissed me yet.”

“I ... I didn’ t’ink ya’d 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 t’ya in Genosha. How Miz Marvel took over ya body because ya couldn’t 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.

“Don’t 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 ain’t. It can’t 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. Wasn’t even hate, ‘cause they didn’t consider me worthy of hatin’. Ah was just somethin’ ... an animal, a plaything, an untermensch, ta them. It ain’t the same. It can’t 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 Ah’ve 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 can’t, 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’ m’power, chere. Lose heat energy t’de 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, “Ain’t the cold so much as th’ ... strangeness o’ being touched without knowin’ what ya feel, or think, or remember. Kinda like ... Ah’m touchin’ ya through a blanket, even though there’s nothin’ between us. Reckon Ah’d jump like a scalded cat even if’n you were Pyro.

“Wouldn’ blame ya. I’d jump as well if ya were Allerdyce.”

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 she’d 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 skin.

“Ya okay?”

“Yeah,” she says, rubbing angrily at her prickling eyes, “Gawd ... what is wrong with me?”

“Not’ing. What was done t’ya 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.

“Remy ...”

“Je sais. Poor excuse for a kiss,” he grins then sobers, gesturing to her wounded side, her broken leg, her bruised face. “Don’ want t’hurt ya though, cherie.”

Ya can’t.”

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 can.

“Bien,” he smiles thinnly, “Guess a clinic is as good a place as a cave f’r 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 wasn’t ...”

“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, she laughs.

“Now Ah’m th’ one wishin’ Ah could turn back time ... so Ah could do that all over again.”

He chuckles, “Don’ need t’turn de clock back, belle. Don’ need t’turn it back at all ...”

Tante Mattie’s 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 baby’s 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 Belladonna’s hand had gone to her stomach in that curious, half-protective, half-aggressive way of an expectant mother when she had heard of Mattie’s trip to New York. Was she worried that the healer would not return in time to deliver the heir to the leadership of the Assassin’s 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 Belle’s 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 family’s 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 Belle’s 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 Remy’s 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 should ...

::Wondering again about how to bring those two children together, Mathilde?::

Amused, the psionic voice contains a gentle reproach.

::Don’t ya know it ain’t polite t’spy on a body’s 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 amie?::

::Because I’ve touched Sarah’s mind ... .Mattie - Sweet Jesus - she’s just a child. Barely into her teens, if she is at all, but she’s 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 it’s poisoned her soul. <pride being swallowed> I ... I need your help, old friend. You could always touch hearts that I could only sense. Can’t you reach her, heal her, make her whole?::

::But ... . dieu, Marie ... she hurt m’child. Near killed Rogue. Stabbed her own partner in de back. Worst of all, she enjoyed it! ::

::Mattie. ... ::

::Non, Marie. M’decision stands. Marrow c’n rot f’r all I care::

With delicacy, Mattie thickens the sparkling, glassy shields around her mind, making them opaque, as milky as marble. Impenetrable. She feels Marie’s 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 poppy.


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 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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