Rogue bolted straight up in her sleeping bag. Panic stricken,
she fought the zipper, finally just ripping it apart. Scrambling
from the bag, her chest heaving, she barely made it to the
open window before her stomach heaved and emptied itself as
violently as a volcano errupting. The cool air helped to finally
calm her stomach and she brought her head back into the room
and sank slowly to the floor resting her pounding head against
the wall. Pulling her knees up to her chest and wrapping her
arms around her legs she felt the stream of tears run down
her cheeks. She didn't try to stop them. The tears turned
to sobs torn from her gut. "Oh Lordy, Remy ah'm so sorry."
It had been another nightmare. They were always basically
the same. She and Remy would be laughing and happy and then
this dark cloud would cover the sky above them. Everything
would change and she would suddenly be both scared and angry
at the same time. She would start yelling at Remy and crying
and accusing him of things that didn't make sense. Like telling
him he had promised to love her forever but had deserted her
anyway. Then she was crying because she said he didn't hold
her anymore or kiss her and tell her that he loved her. If
she questioned what she said there was always a bright flash
of light like lightning and then Sinister would start laughing
from somewhere she couldn't see and suddenly Remy was gone
and Sinister would be standing where Remy had been. Suddenly
she would be surrounded by Morlocks calling her a murderer.
She would feel Sabretooth slash his claws across her body
and see blood on her hands. Then she would look up and they
would be in the Antarctic and Remy was dead but he still called
to her and begged for her help. This time though she thought
her dream would be different because instead of turning her
back on him, she did go to him and kissed him and he was alive
again and she was so happy. But then he laughed, and it was
Sinisters laugh. His face twisted and though he looked like
Remy his skin was pale white and he had a red diamond on his
forehead. He told her that she was a fool. That she knew far
too much and he was going to have to kill her so no one else
would know all his secrets. She begged with Remy not to do
it. To fight Sinister, but he just laughed again and called
her a foolish child. Always going where others led. She felt
Remy's hands push her backwards and she fell into the charred
remains of the underground fortress where the trial took place.
Some of the other X-Men were there but they couldn't help
her. They were all tied or chained to the walls. Then Remy/Sinister
started burying her in ice and dirt. It got heavier and heavier
and she couldn't breathe. The last thing she remembered before
waking up was hearing Remy's voice saying "I love you
Kitchen at Xavier's Mansion
"This is the third night in a row. We must do something
to ease the child's pain." Storm said to the occupants
sitting sporadically around the large eat-in kitchen. She
looked at those sitting around the kitchen in varying degrees
of wakefulness and dress. She met Logan's eyes, saw knowledge
and a small amount of censure. Storm turned her attention
to Betsy and Warren. "Is there anything either of you
may have remembered to help us?"
Sitting on the counter-top Logan ignored the question knowing
that for the time being they weren't going to learn anything
new and focused his attention on Storm. He wondered if she
intentionally called the rest of them "child", "girl",
"boy" or "little one", whenever she was
worried, upset or trying too hard to be the leader. Logan
saw Warren's feathers ruffle with agitation. Storm was ticking
him off. Logan couldn't help but smile just a bit. Warren's
bitterness was likely blinding him from something that happened
down in the Antarctic. Someone was going to have to push past
his wall and make him face things. Normally, that job would
have been his own, but, Storm appeared to want to take Warren
on. Logan also sensed that part of the reason was because
of her own sense of guilt at refusing to allow any of them
to go searching for the Gumbo. As far as he was concerned,
Storm had made a wrong decision. His own personal feelings
didn't come into the equation. Gambit was an X-Man. He had
fought beside them, covered their backs and taken hits for
all of them. End of story as far as he was concerned. Each
and everyone of them had done things in their pasts that haunted
them. It was because of the X-Men that most of them had received
a second chance to make something better of themselves. Remy
had proven himself, and deserved the support and consideration
of the team.
With his own mind made up. Logan hopped off the counter and
started for the door. "Logan, we are not done here. Where
do you think you are going?" Storm demanded.
God he hated it when she used that imperious tone of voice
with him. "The rest of ya can sit around and talk until
the ice age comes again if ya like. Me, I remember when bein'
an X-Man meant bein' willin' to die for each other. When if
one of us didn't come home, none of us did. I'm going after
a lost team mate."
Thunder boomed and shook the house. "I have forbidden
any rescue attempts Logan...."
"Gggrrr.....stand down Storm, you don't want ta go where
yer headin' darlin'."
"Don't force me to discipline you Wolverine. As leader
of the X-Men I refuse to allow you..."
"I go, where I want to go 'Ro, don't ever think otherwise.
I ain't some snot nosed kid who needs motherin' or who's gonna
stand around bein' used in some form of petty revenge because
my feelin's are hurt." He glared at Storm, daring her
to either continue or deny what he had said. He didn't know
where the accusation had come from but suddenly he felt that
he had hit the nail on the head. It seemed so clear now, why
Storm had refused to allow the search party, and to an extent
why she felt the need to support her decision so strongly.
She was as angry as Warren was bitter. He waited for her response.
Everything was silent. Not one person moved as Storm and
Logan faced off. No one was having trouble staying awake either.
All gazes were riveted on the tall, regal looking leader and
the extremely ticked Canadian. The thunder was growing stronger
and lightning flashed in near blinding intensity. "Do
you dare to suggest that I would leave Remy out to die in
the Antarctic out of spite?!?" Ororo demanded in both
rage and shock.
The crack of thunder was deafening, the lightning bolt that
hit just outside the kitchen window, shattered the glass sending
it scattering accross the floor. "HOW DARE YOU?!?! I
was the one who brought him to the X-Men, he saved my life....he's
"And finding out that he was involved with the massacre
of the Morlocks and in part responsible for the injuries that
took Warren's wings and nearly killed Collosus, Kurt and Kitty
was like bein' kicked in the gut by a mule. It's more than
that though ain't it. You were hurt that he didn't tell YOU.
You've been a bit jealous ever since he started chasin' Rogue.
You were his friend but, she's his heart 'Ro. That's why yer
sittin' here discussin' options instead of doin' what ya know
would help both Rogue and Remy. There's a part of you that
wants ta see Rogue sufferin' isn't there? You wanted her to
feel hurt like you did when Remy turned more and more to her."
"SHUT UP!" Storm cried. Pointing one hand at Logan
a wind whipped up and blew him through the kitchen doorway.
Surprisingly there wasn't a crash or even a thud. Horrified,
at her actions Storm pulled her hand in towards her body and
stared at the doorway.
"Blowin' me outta the room doesn't change the truth
does it 'Ro? Come on darlin', face it." Logan came back
into the room and standing directly behind him was Rogue.
There were tears running down her face leaving no doubt in
anyone's mind that she had heard the accusations.
"NO! My reasons were based on facts. We are not in any
condition to go after Remy. We have no way of getting there,
or are you forgetting what Bastion did here? We were and still
are not in any condition to go traipsing off to the Antarctic...and
if Rogue had not left him.....and...why did he do it?...why
didn't he tell me? ...Goddess forgive me." Storm ended
in a quiet sob.
"Ah've been a fool. Ah've been so wound up in mah own
problems and fears, feelin' sorry for mahself, that ah've
continued ta let others lead me around by the nose. No more
do ya heah me! Ah can't say ah understand what made ya do
what ya did Storm, but ah'm the last one to be throwin' stones.
Ah left the man ah love ta die. More damnin' though, ah let
others direct mah life. Maybe that's why ah still don't know
why ah did what ah did. Whether ah did it because of me or
him or one of the other shadows in mah head. Ah do know that
ah've got ta do somethin because it's the right thing ta do
though. Ah'm goin' with Logan ta find a lost X-Man. The rest
of y'all will have ta decide for yoahselves what ta do, but
we ain't waitin' on y'all." Turning towards the Canadian
X-Men she gave a watery smile and said "If ya can wait
long enough foah me to change mah clothes anyway."
"Get movin' darlin', I'll be outside." Without
looking back the two walked out of the kitchen.
"Don't let them shake you Storm. You made a difficult
decision. They were just letting off steam." Betsy said
quietly. "If it makes you feel any better, I'm sure Scott
would have made the same call."
"You don't have to justify yourself Storm to them or
anyone. Gambit used all of us. He was here under false pretenses.
For all we know he could have been spying for Sinister. Heck
he could have been working for Bastion. How else could that
maniac have gotten in here so easily and taken everything.
Look at all the pain and suffering and deaths he's responsible
for. If he died out in the Antarctic I can only see it as
justice being served for all those he hurt and never got the
chance to find for themselves." Warren said with bitterness
dripping from each word.
"This isn't the team, the family, ah've wanted to be
a part of for so long. Ah thought bein' an X-Man would be
the proudest time of mah life, but right now ah'm ashamed
to be associated with y'all." Sam said angrily. "
Warren you're one of the original X-Men. You're pathetic.
You're an insult to everythin' the Professor ever wanted.
Where would you be if'n the team turned their backs on you
after you agreed ta let Apocalypse give ya your wings back?
After the things you did you shouldn't be sittin' there lookin
so smug and self-righteous. After the people you hurt, maybe
we should have you killed off so that they can have justice."
"Shut up kid, you don't know what you're talking about.
Besides I was under the influence of Apocolypse. I wasn't
acting under my own thoughts."
"Ah can read just fine Mr. Hypocrite. The files that
Hank, Scott and the Professor kept on ya. You were so wound
up in your own despair ya tried to commit suicide. You sure
didn't give a damn about the Morlocks then did ya? Just you.
That seems to be a rather common trait in all your files ya
know. Everything is always about you. So why don't ya answer
this; if you were willing to die because ya didn't have your
wings why did ya take Apocolypse up on his offer? And don't
give any of this hogwash that you weren't thinking clear.
What was the real reason? It was that you wanted something
and he offered it to ya. Ya didn't care who gave it to you
or what price you would have to pay afterwards. Just so long
as YOU got what YOU wanted right then."
"Sam, leave him alone. You don't know the pain he was
in. What was going through his mind." Betsy said sternly.
"So ah shouldn't question Warren Worthington III, because
we don't know what was driving him, but y'all know exactly
was driving Gambit to make the deal he made with Sinister
right? And after all Gambit may have tried to stop the Marauders,
but, he can't be trusted can he? He could still be working
for Sinsiter, or tipping of Bastion, wasn't that what ya said
Warren. Then again. Maybe you're not free of Apocolypse, and
this is all your doing eh Warren."
"You have made your point Sam. Back off." Betsy
said standing to face the newest X-Man.
"Why would ah do that? Warren was the one who turned
this into an X-Files episode with conspiracies and spies and
the like. While ah'm at it ah might as well remind everyone
of your little traitor act shall ah. According to your boyfriend,
you could just as easily be a candidate needing to be offed.
After all, you were the one who convinced the others to go
through the Seige Perilous when y'all were Down Under. You
were the one who teamed up with the Mandarin and were willin'
ta kill Wolverine and Jubilee. We only have your word that
you were brainwashed. Why should we believe you and Warren
but doubt Gambit?"
"I told everyone what had happened to me. I didn't keep
secrets that affected the team to myself." Betsy said
"Like ya told everyone right away about the bionic eyes
that Mojo gave ya? Like how Mojo and Spiral were able to see
everything you saw, including passwords to the computer files,
access codes to the danger-room and the war room and to Cerebro?"
The quiet, unasuming boy from Kentucky stared down the Ninja
woman. He had never felt so angry. He couldn't believe the
things he was saying. Somehow though it was like a dam had
been broken in his head and all the things he had held back
and would never have said out loud before were finally finding
a voice. He realised that part of it was because he hadn't
looked at the X-Men as real people before with failings and
short-comings. He had made them less than human and more than
human at the same time. He made them icons in his own mind.
With this incident happening with Gambit and then the confrontation
between Logan and Storm, he had finally shattered the hero
worship in which he had held the X-Men and was now able to
voice his opinion as an equal. He found himself looking at
Storm. They hadn't been getting along very well lately either.
Mostly over a difference of opinion about Marrow staying.
"I know what you wish to say Samuel. That I too am a
hypocrite. That I was no innocent before coming to the X-Men.
That I was a thief, and pick-pocket. That I have been under
the thrall of the Shadow King and also done things to hurt
my fellow teammates. I have hurt and even killed and never
answered to anyone else's justice. That I have allowed my
own personal beliefs and emotions overrule my logic and leadership
responsibilities. That all of us" She shook her head
and said again "That I, have taken things at face value
and not bothered to discover their validity. That once my
feelings were hurt I selfishly turned my back on those who
needed my leadership and caring."
Even though Storm was now being brutally honest with the
others and herself Sam found he could not show her any compassion
just yet. Just as honestly, he nodded his agreement of her
assessment of herself. He found he couldn't soften his attitude.
If he did so right now, he felt he would be lessening the
magnitude of the honesty that had finally been brought forth
for all of them. They all needed to face the darkness so that
they could achieve a turning point in their lives. He knew
with his own feeling of equality with the X-Men he had reached
his own turning point and he saw the direction he was going
to take. Heading for the door he said "Ah don't expect
any of y'all to come with me. And the things ah said weren't
intended to force ya to do something you don't feel is right;
but ah've got to follow mah own judgement. Ah'm gonna try
and catch up to Rogue and Logan."
Feeling drained and incredibly tired, Storm looked at the
people in the kitchen. Beast, Maggot, Cecilia, Warren, Betsy
and herself. Marrow, thank the Goddess had been in hiding
down in the danger room and had never joined this impromptu
session. "Hank?" Ororo asked simply.
"'There but for the grace of God go I.' Rather fitting
at this juncture do you not think? Although, I have always
been of a mind that a rescue team should have gone after our
little black sheep, I am personally unable to relocate at
this time. I find my priorities must keep me here for the
time being. I have been in contact with Moira and she has
discovered a rather interesting theory for the Legacy Virus.
I will though, put together a medical kit - such as it will
be - for those who are going asearching." Hank also headed
for the door.
"I don't know this Gambit from a hole in the ground,
but I still find myself shocked that you abandoned him."
Cecilia said to Storm in her straight forward, rather brash
manner."I would offer to go myself to maybe give medical
attention if it was needed but I don't have the proper equipment
or clothing. I feel I would be more of a hinderance than any
real help. Maybe I can be of better assitance by trying to
get an emergency room set up here for when they get back.
I still have a few friends who might be able to get me a few
supplies." She was nearly out of the door when she heard
Warren say "She would be willing to help someone who
is no better than a murderer. Where was she when the Morlocks
were dieing, when my wings had to be amputated?" Swinging
around she looked Warren in the eyes and replied "Yes,
I would do everything to save him if it was within my power
to do so. Even if he were a mass murderer with blood still
on his hands. You see I took and oath. An oath that means
something to me. Regardless of whether someone is good or
bad, white or black, human or mutant. My first priority is
the preservation of life. Maybe that which you live your life
doesn't mean as much to you. I was under the belief that your
Professor Xavier was willing to give anyone a second chance
and always preached for peace and understanding. Perhaps you
were sick that day and missed that class huh?"
"You're telling me that if Adolph Hitler was brought
into this house seriously wounded you would fight to save
his life. Even though you know what he was responsible for.
That if you did save him what he could be capable of doing
again?" Warren sneered.
"Yes I would try to save him.."
"That would make you just as guilty as him of anything
he did afterwards." Warren shot at her.
"No, I disagree. You see, I am not a judge, jury or
executioner. I am a doctor. I do not decide who I should help
based on what they look like or what their name is, but based
on the severity of injury. If I see a white person carrying
racist literature and they come into the hospital with injuries
from being beaten, should I let that person perhaps die, because
I find their beliefs repugnant? What about if the person or
people who did the beating were brought in having been beaten
by others or perhaps injured by police who were trying to
stop the original beating? What about the those who got involved
after the fact, if they were hurt should I let them die because
they came to the aid of a racist? Do you see? Once something
like that starts where does it stop. Where does the line get
drawn? What about a child molester or a wife beater. Is one
worse than the other? Are they the same as a cold blooded
killer or serial rapist? What if it was the first time for
any of them and done while stoned or drunk. What if it happened
because of a reaction to medication? Should the doctor then
also be held accountable? This country has a judicial system
where a group of "peers" decide whether the actions
of another need to be punished or not. It may not be infalible
but it sure as hell beats individual justice. Maybe you should
think about that a bit longer Mr. Worthington. After all,
from what the boy said your past isn't that bright. Whether
or not you were being controled by another probably wouldn't
matter to the family of those you hurt." Dr Reyes turned
again and this time didn't stop.
"I admit I may be giving my anger too much free reign
and that I have been too quick to judge Gambit's involvement
with Sinister and Bastion, but, I can't forgive or forget
what Gambit cost me. I don't want to influence anyone else
though, so I'll be leaving." Warren glanced at Betsy.
He didn't say anything to her trying to make it clear he didn't
want to influence her decision. He also walked from the kitchen.
"What hurts Warren, hurts me. I had sensed Sinister's
influence on Gambit before, and perhaps I too am judging him
unfairly, but, since we seem to be choosing sides between
Gambit and Warren, I stand with Warren. I truly hope Gambit
is innocent or that there is at least more to his past than
we yet know, but I cannot be a part of finding him."
With that Betsy also left the kitchen.
"What you be doing pretty lady?" Maggott asked
"I know I should make ammends by leading the others
to find Remy. But, I cannot leave the mansion and those of
you with no training without protection. My place is here."
"Ach, I guess I can't let you stay all lonely now can
I. The girls and I will keep you company huh?"
Storm and Maggott also rose from the table and left the kitchen.
Closing her eyes briefly, Storm sent out a prayer "Please
Goddess, keep him safe and let him know how deeply I regret
Outside New York State
Just past the New York state line Cannonball finally caught
up to Rogue, who was carrying Logan. "Y'all mind some
company?" He asked solemnly.
A small smile crossed Logan's face as he said "Somehow
I knew you would be along Sam. You're a strong man."
Feeling a bit sheepish and embarrassed by the praise Sam
said "It only took gettin' mah head knocked straight
for me to catch on though."
"Then yoah in good company sugah. 'Pears we all needed
a little wake up call. We all been gettin so used to just
followin' orders we've stopped making decisions for ourselves.
Least y'all have a reason foah what ye did. Still comes down
to the fact that ah'm the one who left him there." Stubbornly
she refused to cry again. Tears didn't help anything and besides
she'd cried more in the last year than she had in her whole
life. It was another aspect of herself she didn't understand.
She'd never been a mushy cry baby before. "No one else
willing to come along huh?" Rogue asked Sam feeling angry
"Well not in body but some in spirit anyway." Sam
indicated the pack he was carrying. "Beast put the medical
supplies together. He said to tell ya he would have come if
not for Moira needing his help with the Legacy Virus just
now. He said he feels there is more to Gambit's story than
we know right now. 'Specially since it was "Erik the
Red" who brought it all out. He said to tell ya that
he feels the whole thing was fishy from start to finish with
the trial. He doesn't doubt what you absorbed from Remy but
he's got some theory on that as well that he'll discuss later.
It was only Dr. Reyes coming up that finally stopped Hank
from giving me more instructions. She told him ta stop babblin'.
Then she told me she would have come to help however she could
but she doesn't have the proper clothes and didn't feel her
powers would be of much help. So she thought she would try
and call in a few favours and set up an ER in case we need
it when we come back with Gambit."
"What about 'Ro?" Logan asked.
"She asked me to tell ya both that she's sorry. Y'all
were right and she will try her best to make ammends, but
right now her priorities have to keep her at the mansion but
her prayers are with us." Sam looked at Logan who simply
nodded in acceptance. Rogue didn't make any type of acknowledgement.
Sam shut up and the three X-Men settled in for a long flight
to the Antarctic.
"Split up and find him. He can't survive much longer
out here. And I'm not done with him yet." Sinister sneered.
Quickly, Sinisters lackies spread out and started their search.
"You may not t'ink you finished with me. But I'm definitely
finished wit' you." Replacing the ice slab that covered
his underground cave, Remy Lebeau charged another group of
stones and rocks and let them release the kinetic energy slowly
to give off heat. In the closed off cave it was enough to
keep him from freezing to death. He was going to have to go
back to the underground compound though and try and find some
food again and something that he could burn for heat. He had
found some tarp, a mattress from one of the cells and even
some blankets in his first rummage through the wreckage left
by Erik the Red. He couldn't help but remember Rogue's words
to him as she had left him. 'That looking after himself was
what he seemed best at.' "You're wrong chere. It appears
I'm best at losing de t'ings that mean the most to me. I'm
not goin'to give up though. I'm goin' to find a way ta prove
mahself to you. I will win your love again chere. I swear
Continued in Chapter
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