Disclaimer: All characters (Rogue,
Gambit, Cecilia I-Need-a-Codename Reyes, Iceman, Howard the
Duck) belong to Marvel and are not used to make me a profit.
Except to make me less angsty! Sigh. If you liked\hated this
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Always Coming Home
Part 2: Charmer
False though she be to me and
I'll ne'er pursure Revenge;
For still the Charmer I approve,
Tho' I deplore her change.
In Hours of Bliss we oft have
They could not always last;
And though the present I regret,
I'm grateful for the past.
Song by William Congreve
"He's been here the last two nights, Ronnie. Always
alone, always orders the same thing. I think he's trouble."
"I don't care if he is the devil incarnate as long as
he pays." The man shrugs his shoulders, "I'm running
a business, not a courtroom."
"Is that what you're going to say when the police come
round asking uncomfortable questions?"
"You're being ridiculous, Linda." He says, "Last
time I checked, being single and liking double lattes wasn't
She looks at him, trying to work out what it is about him
that gives her the creeps. Shortish auburn hair, eyes hidden
by dark glasses, expensive suit by the looks of the fabric
and the cut. Nothing out of the ordinary.
"If you've finished playing Agatha Christie, table four
needs to be served." Ronnie says impatiently.
"Yeah. I'm on it." She fakes a smile, although
she is disturbed. Scared. Mainly because she has no idea why
. . . .
New York, New York. More specifically, Poppa Gumbo's Cajun
Cookout. Best cajun food out of New Orleans, or so Gambit
used to swear. Not much has changed with the cuisine. He stirs
his double latte and remembers the person he most wants to
forget. He doesn't know why, of all the restaurants in New
York - in Chinatown, in Little Italy - he chose this one with
all its memories. Not painful in themselves, but painful nonetheless.
"Shoulda gone straight t'de mansion, Remy. Shoulda bitten
de bullet, 'stead o' puttin' it off like ...."
The coward that Eric the Red said he was. Like he had all
his life. Evading his responsibilty to Belle. The truth of
his actions long ago. Rogue's questions. And now, her ultimate
judgement. A judgement he is scared the others will share.
"It be 'bout time I stopped runnin' an' started facin'
up t'what I did."
He pushes the half-empty latte away from him and leaves a
crisp dollar bill on the plate. It is time to face the jury.
. . .
The water flows around her body, eddying around her ankles
as she kicks. Arm up. Arm down. Leg up. Leg down. The repetitive
strokes relax her, provide her some respite from thinking.
"Enjoying the swim, traitor-lover?" A voice pulls
her back to consciousness.
"Look how pure the water is. How clean. How transparent."
Marrow cups water in her hand, "So different to the effluent
that we Morlocks swam in. Brown until it ran red with blood
on the day of the Massacre."
"Ah don't know why you're tellin' me this." Rogue
climbs out of the pool and wraps a towel around her body,
painfully self-conscious of Marrow's probing stare, "Sure.
Th' massacre was terrible, but Ah - we - did everything we
could ta stop it."
"Did you?" Her blue eyes flash, "Did you really?"
"Ah don't like where this is goin' . . . ."
"Tough, traitor-lover." She approaches Rogue, drawing
a bone knife, "If you don't like it, you'll have to shut
me up yourself."
She drops the blade at the Mississippian's feet.
"Back off, Marrow. You'll be glad y'all did."
"Maybe you should have done that with leBeau, before
falling in love with him. People like him don't deserve to
be happy. People like you."
"Not that I blame you." She smiles, "I know
from first-hand experience exactly how . . . charming Mr leBeau
can be. How he makes you believe that everything turns out
for the best. He makes you think a miracle is a wish away.
But you realise that he is lying when you wake up cold and
afraid on a New York sidewalk. No family. No friends. Nothing."
"How dare you?" Her green eyes blaze as she steps
closer to Marrow. "You don't know him. You nevah have.
Ah've been inside his mind, Ah know what he's made of."
"Which is why you left him to die."
"It ain't your place ta judge me . . . any more than
it was mine ta judge him."
"Yet you did and I will do the same."
"Believe in capital punishment, Marrow?" Rogue
bends and picks up the knife.
"Push me an' you'll find out."
The thrust of the knife is sudden and tears through Rogue's
bare leg. Blood streams down and pools on the tiled floor.
Her green eyes narrow as she looks at the Morlock.
"I don't take to being threatened by anyone." Marrow
says, "Especially not traitor-lovers."
"SHUT UP." She flies at her, knocking her to the
"Oolmph." Marrow gasps as the wind is forced out
of her lungs. Scrambling back to her feet, she extracts a
"Ah've defeated assassins without mah powers. What makes
you think that you stand a chance?"
"Assassins have honor. I don't."
The knife flies at her and Rogue catches it, crushing it
into powder beneath her fingers.
"Nice try. Take more'n that ta defeat me though."
The powder begins to glow in her hand, exploding as she throws
it at Marrow.
"Even use his powers?" Marrow's breath is ragged.
"If'n Ah have ta."
Marrow lashes out with a leg, connecting with Rogue's lower
back, and swears softly as she realises that she has hurt
herself more than the other woman. A hard punch to her jaw.
A kick to her head. Nothing. Pain explodes behind her eyes
as Rogue uppercuts her then dissipates into darkness. The
young woman bends over the Morlock's silent frame.
"Ah'm sorry, Marrow, but this time y'all went too far."
No answer. Rogue dips her wounded leg into the swimming pool
and redness spreads over the transparent surface...
"My dear, you have sustained some damage to the quadraceps."
Beast peels off his surgical gloves and throws them in the
trash, "Fortunately, it seems that it will heal by itself
and not need surgery."
"Thanks." Rogue replaces the towel around her slim
waist and jumps off the table.
"Not so fast, Rogue." Beast smiles, "I still
have to suture the wound."
"Great." She sits down again and stretches out
her leg, "Go for it, Hank."
"Now that you are at my tender mercy, I would like to
ask you a few questions." He pauses, "Starting with
why you'd attack a woman who evidently is a few molecules
short of a polymer."
"She provoked me. Ah snapped - it won't happen again."
She says curtly, "Frankly, Hank. Ah'm surprised y'all
agreed ta see me aftah what Ah did. Ah know you didn't approve
o' mah choice."
He inserts the needle into her skin and begins to close the
wound, "Even if I did not believe in the sanctity of
all life, my encounter with my deplorable doppelganger has
shown me that Gambit could very easily be me. None of us are
above making mistakes. Not even you."
"It wasn't a mistake, Hank."
"Wasn't it?" He looks into her eyes, seeing the
false brightness that is there.
"Ah'm not so sure any more." She says quietly,
"Ah loved Remy. Ah nevah wanted ta hurt him . . . but
. . . but . . . he used me."
"Used you?" Beast bends back over his suturing.
"Th' ol' shrink's trick o' repeatin' th' last words
of a sentence, Hank? Ah thought that was beneath y'all."
"Y'all?" He repeats, grinning.
"Forget it. Ah'll get Reyes ta finish th' job."
"Sit. I will not let that barely-competent surgeon lay
her hands on you."
"Not in the slightest. Just because she has more experience
in emergency medicine than I have is no reason to envy her."
Beast says, hastily, "But you were saying that you felt
Remy used you?"
"Ta judge him, like he wouldn't judge himself."
She sighs, "He controlled me. Made me leave him behind
ta die. Made me say Ah didn't care."
"Hank. He's everythin' ta me." Tears fill her eyes,
"An' Ah'm scared that he hates me. That he can't forgive
He takes her in his arms and comforts her, blue fur preventing
any contact with her bare skin.
"Shhh . . . . Although I cannot give you assurance that
his feelings now are not as you described, I can say that
he indeed did love you. May still love you."
"Now . . . Ah feel like Ah'm losin' control, Beast."
She sobs into his chest, "Attackin' Marrow like Ah did."
"She's hardly Miss Morlock Personality, my dear."
Beast replies, "Even I sometimes feel that I should create
a need for my surplus Plaster of Paris."
"But . . . but . . . it coulda been anyone. Scott. Storm.
Bobby. Joseph." Rogue says, "An' Ah wouldn't've
cared that they were my friends."
"Rogue. Everyone goes through periods in their lives
where they feel that they are losing control." He strokes
her hair, "I went through my personal crucible when Infectia
caused the reemergance of my hirsuite condition."
"When Infectia caused me to once more become hairier
than an English Sheepdog on Rogaine."
"Dry those eyes." Beast passes her a handkerchief,
"One pair of red ones per couple is usually enough."
Rogue laughs weakly and dabs at her eyes.
"Is that a smile I see on that beautiful face?"
"Thanks, Hank." She squeezes his hand, "Ah
don't know what Ah would do without you."
"See that quack by the name of Cecilia Reyes?"
"You *are* jealous, Hank."
"Get going before I decide that you need a tetanus shot
to go with those stitches."
The smile fades off his face as he closes the door behind
her and sits down, face in his clumsy-delicate hands. Talking
to Rogue has reminded him of his own pain, which he thought
he had forgotten. Exorcised. And while he may hide it, he
knows that it is still there, lingering on the borders of
sensation, waiting for the moment when he lets his guard down
to cripple him again.
The young man stands on the doorstep and looks up at the
mansion. He is wearing a dark suit and darker glasses which
hide his unusual eyes. He runs a nervous hand through his
shortish auburn hair, as if improving his appearance might
change the way they feel about him. Change the outcome of
Continued in Chapter
Rogue refers to having defeated an assassin without her powers.
This happens in the Rogue miniseries where she goes toe to
toe with Belle and kicks some serious heinie!
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