Rogue returns, momentarily surprised not to find Gambit waiting
in her room. Part of her wants to seek him out. The other
part, the "sensible" part she tells herself, convinces
her that he still needs time. She begins gathering the broken
bits of her vanity mirror.
The air grows chill. Rogue pauses, sensing something, or
someone, beyond the darkness. Out of the corner of her eye,
she glimpses a shadow passing across the fractured mirror.
She rises slowly, tension tight in every muscle. A crunching
footstep. Rogue starts, then catches herself when she realizes
it is her own heel grinding the glass to a powder against
the hardwood floor. Her nervous laughter ends abruptly when
she glances up to see a face that is not her own staring back.
She's overwhelmed by conflicting emotions, memories of this
man that have no place in her experience. Pain, yes, she can
understand, but--gratitude? The gnawing sense that she owes
Sinister a debt which he is collecting bit by bit, causing
her to forfeit her soul one breath at a time.
She sees him triumphant among a deteriorating theater in
Seattle. A self-satisfied smile playing across his face even
as the ceiling collapses in a rain of fire at his feet. She
remembers. His low, rumbling laughter drowning out her tortured
scream. Rogue frowns, concentrating. No. Not her scream.
A wave of nausea rushes through her body and Rogue falls
to the floor, doubled-over. Her face watches from a hundred
slivered reflections, and suddenly she's scared. Frightened
to the core by the unknown. It's the same gut-level fear that
once gripped Remy LeBeau as he demanded that Sinister reveal
the truth about the Cajun's existence. Even as a memory, Remy's
anger and frustration are too intense for Rogue to contain.
"Am ah s'posed t'be here or NOT?!"
She has no idea what the words mean.
Magneto's voice does little to penetrate the haziness in
Rogue's mind. A hand on her shoulder. She overreacts, violently
shoving Eric away into Storm's steadying grasp. Rogue shudders,
letting the last, fleeting image fade into nothingness, leaving
her drained. She accepts Storm's outstretched hands, grateful
for the strength of her support. Rogue's eyes dart across
the room, puzzled.
"Y'all the only ones here?"
"Were you expecting someone else, child?"
Rogue lowers her eyes from Storm's penetrating gaze. She
tries to shrug it off, turning back to the broken glass. Eric
kneels to help.
"No, o' course not. Jus' de shadows o' mah own imaginin'
Storm reacts to Rogue's choice of words and the subtle change
in her southern accent.
"Gambit has often said the same thing--using those very
Storm crosses her arms across her waist in a manner that
clearly indicates she expects a more detailed explanation.
Tonight, however, Rogue has no patience for Storm's well-intentioned
concern. She slaps the dustpan to the floor in irritation.
"Ya got a point?"
"Merely an observation, Rogue. Neither you nor Gambit
have divulged the reason for your compulsion to journey to
Seattle. Neither have you addressed the unfortunate circumstances
surrounding your moment of intimacy before the crystal wave
Iciness shadow Rogue's emerald eyes.
"'Unfortunate circumstances'? Is that how ya see it?"
"I did not intend--"
"Ain't the time or the place to go there, sugah.
Maybe the best thing is for the two o' ya to get on out o'
here an' let me get this mess cleaned up."
Rogue takes the broom from Eric's reluctant hand, gently
shoving him towards the door.
She closes the door, leaving a puzzled Eric and Storm shut
out. They walk slowly down the hall and ascend to Storm's
loft without a word passing between them. Inside, they settle
in to what, over the past few weeks, has become a congenial
routine of an evening snack and philosophical discussion.
This night, however, Eric focuses on Storm's true concern.
"Your depth of loyalty to the Cajun is admirable."
Storm paces, allowing her gaze to rise to twinkling stars
peering through the skylight.
"I would rather it be effective."
Eric offers Storm a cup of herbal tea. She sips, lost in
her own thoughts of Remy's condition.
"Are you so certain it isn't?"
She sighs. When she lifts her eyes to Eric's, he sees the
shimmer of unshed tears. He takes her hands in his, squeezing
them with a gentle, reassuring strength. His voice is low,
"Do you think Rogue broke her own mirror, Ororo?"
The light of hope brings a sudden glow to her eyes.
"I did not consider--but Rogue has said that if Gambit
could begin to focus his anger outside of himself, he would
"It would seem he has taken the first step."
"Bright Lady, I hope for Rogue's sake, as well as Gambit's,
that this is truly the best path to follow."
Continued in Chapter
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