Note: This is not the final version. It's
still in the editing stages.
Alive? He might be dead for
aught I know,
With that red gaunt colloped neck-a-strain
And shut eyes underneath the rusty mane,
Seldom went such grotesqueness with such woe;
I never saw a brute I hated so
~ from "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came"
by Robert Browning
Bobby held the door open for Rogue as they walked back into
the mansion. She looked down appreciatively at the bundle
of roses in her arms and then smiled back at Bobby. "Probably
better put these in water. Ah'll be right back."
Feeling rather proud of himself, he smiled bashfully at her.
"Okay. I'll just be in the kitchen, then."
Bobby watched as she sprinted up the stairs to her bedroom,
then headed toward the kitchen with newspaper in hand.
Logan was still there. By now he had turned off the television
and was sitting at the table, glaring at the coffeemaker as
if to will it to percolate faster. He reached out and grabbed
the newspaper from Bobby's grasp. "Talk to her?"
he asked as he set aside the Sunday advertising inserts.
"Yup," Bobby said, his chest almost puffing with
pride as he walked over to the refrigerator.
"Good fer you," Logan murmured as he started reading
Bobby looked expectantly over at Logan, hoping to be asked
for more information; when no such request came, he volunteered
it himself. "She loved the roses," he said, reaching
into the refrigerator for the carton of orange juice. "She
said they were her favorites. Thanks for the tip."
Bobby grimaced with annoyance when the juice carton proved
empty. "Hey! Who drank all the OJ?" He glanced at
Logan, who studiously ignored him as he read the Sunday paper.
The disappointed Iceman looked back at the empty orange juice
carton and made a mental note to freeze Logan's beers solid
sometime. Then he reached into the freezer to pull out a can
of juice concentrate marked with Cannonball's name. Well,
this is an emergency...
Bobby found a clean pitcher and thawed out the frozen can
of juice in the microwave, then dumped the semi-frozen juice
out of the can and into the pitcher. He was so preoccupied
with smashing the frozen bits of juice to a pulp that he nearly
jumped with surprise when Logan spoke up.
Some errant drops of juice splashed up onto Bobby's face,
and he furrowed his brows with annoyance. "Yeah?"
"Outta curiosity, you or Rogue see anythin'...different
this mornin' when you were out there?"
Gruff manner and tone aside, Bobby could have sworn Logan
"Umm...Not that I can think of. I'll ask Rogue later,
"Nothin'...Just thought I smelled somethin'...familiar."
He left the room before Bobby could say anything else. For
his part, Bobby looked curiously out the doorway after Logan
and then returned to his juicemaking.
Logan hiked up the stairs to Storm's loft bedroom and knocked
on the door. "Ro?" he called. There was no
answer, so he climbed back down the stairs and walked outside
to inspect the mansion grounds.
He found what he was looking for just outside the gates.
The footprints were faint, but the scent was plain enough
to his enhanced senses. Logan immediately recognized who their
morning visitor had been; it only confirmed his earlier suspicions.
Sniffing the air, he also detected Storm's scent.
So he's back now... Ro must have gone after him.
Guess she can handle it...
Storm followed the stranger to a small motel on the other
side of Salem Center. She watched at a discreet distance as
he stepped out of his car, stumbled into the motel office
and walked dejectedly to a motel room. She finally saw his
face when he quickly looked over his shoulder as he unlocked
the door and slipped into the room.
"Remy...?" Storm mumbled to herself, steadying
herself against a nearby tree. She'd had her suspicions about
their morning visitor since he first sped away in his car,
but seeing his face... the confirmation that her once dear
friend was indeed still alive was enough to make her stagger
as a flood of conflicting emotions hit her.
Overwhelming relief. Regret. Rekindled anger. Disbelief.
In her heart, she had never quite accepted what the others
had told her about Gambit's involvement in the Morlock massacre.
In their first encounter, he had saved her life from the Shadow
King, at a time when she was alone, de-aged and only in limited
control of her powers. He had followed her to the X-Men. And
as they fought side-by-side, she believed that Remy, bravado
aside, had come to trust in Xavier's dream almost as much
as herself. They had been friends, comrades, partners in crime
-- almost family, even.
How could that be reconciled with the violent carnage of
the Mutant Massacre? How could this man have been associated
with a gang of some of the most bloodthirsty, ruthless beings
she had ever met?
Her friend was not a killer. A "lady-killer," perhaps,
but not a murderer. Gambit was playful, rebellious, a show-off.
Devil-may-care attitude. Cool and calm in the face of danger.
Images flashed unbidden in Ororo's mind, memories of watching
her friend in battle or in the Danger Room. He was so sure
of himself, fighting almost as if he had been specially trained
for battle. Well-placed punches, kicks, swipes of the bo-staff.
He could spout witty rejoinders with the best of them, but
there was a hard glint to his eyes as he expertly took down
one opponent after another.
She tried to push the memories, the doubts out of her mind.
Her friend was not a killer. Couldn't be.
He sat on the bed in his motel room, head in his hands, as
he tried to come to grips with what had happened.
But nothing had happened, he told himself.
He could still picture her, standing mere feet away as she
skimmed the headlines of the Sunday Times. He'd wanted
to call out to her then. He wanted to see her reaction when
she saw him after all this time...after all that had happened.
There were so many loose ends. Even if he was to leave and
never see her again, he still wanted to talk with her, just
once, to clear the air and find some kind of closure after
everything that had happened.
Maybe then she would stop haunting his dreams. Maybe then
he'd stop wanting to hurt her for what she'd done to him.
Maybe then he'd stop wishing he could hold her again and tell
her everything was going to be okay.
But everything wasn't going to be okay, was it? He'd seen
the transformation she had gone through when Bobby came up
to her with that damned bouquet of flowers. It was as if just
seeing Bobby could completely brighten her day and make her
He didn't want her to be happy with Bobby.
Maybe he didn't want her to be happy at all. After what she
had done to him, did she really deserve happiness? Life had
proved to him again and again that he certainly didn't deserve
to be happy. Why, then, should she be luckier than him?
No. He deserved what she'd done to him. He'd been the demon
that had infiltrated her soul and forced her to leave him
behind, to die alone in the Antarctic wastelands. After what
he'd done, he certainly deserved the punishment; it seemed
only fitting that the fates had chosen to have his lover play
the role of executioner.
Now that she'd purged herself of his influence, it was her
right to move on.
A sharp rapping at the door interrupted his thoughts.
Wearily, Remy pulled himself to his feet and opened the door
apprehensively. When he saw who his visitor was, part of him
desperately wanted to slam the door shut and run away, although
he knew he didn't have that option.
The thief in him chided himself for having been so stupid.
As he stood dumbfounded in the doorway, the realization dawned
on him that he should have known someone at the mansion would
have figured out he'd been there.
Why did that someone have to be her?
Ororo stepped cautiously into the Mansion, hoping that no
one would notice her entrance. The clock in the entryway read
Was it really that late? Was it really that early, for that
When she had awakened, seven hours, ago the world seemed
a much simpler place. Yet, seven hours ago, she also believed
one of her best friends to still be dead.
Now, those seven hours seemed positively an age ago.
Wolverine was sitting on a couch in the common room. If Storm
didn't know better, she'd think he was just napping. But his
eyes opened and fastened upon her as she walked into the room,
and she knew that he knew what had happened.
She only nodded in response to his unspoken question and
walked past him to the stairway. They'd talk later. Now, she
had a mission of sorts to complete.
The closer she got to Rogue's room the uneasier she became.
Part of her wanted to freely express the joy she felt at the
return of her friend. Another part of her worked hard at suppressing
the uneasy emotions and memories that Remy's return had rekindled.
She knew she would have to tell Rogue the news carefully,
and be prepared for a potential emotional onslaught.
Rogue lay quietly on her bed, lost in thought. She'd intended
to come upstairs for a nap, but sleep had refused to come,
leaving her to her own ponderings. Listlessly, she twirled
one of Bobby's yellow roses between the fingers of either
hand as she chided herself for being so receptive to them.
Geez, girl. One minute you're all against havin' any kinda
romantic deal, an' the next minute ya fall over the first
guy ta give ya flowers. You're goin' soft, gal. Can't afford
ta do this, not anymore.
She ran her fingers over the flower's soft, silky petals
But there's something there between me an' Bobby. M'heart
wants ta see where this goes, an' m'head's tellin' me it's
a real stupid idea.
She idly waved the flower in the air, as if painting a picture
on the ceiling.
Heart's been wrong before. Should Ah listen to it again
Rogue rolled out of bed and put the flower in the vase with
its friends, then carried the vase over to the window. She
pressed her fingertips to the windowpane as she surveyed the
grounds from her vantage point. She wasn't sure what she was
looking for, but she had this odd feeling...
Her eyes focused on a point in the distance: the gated entrance
to the mansion grounds at the far end of the driveway, where
she'd gone to pick up the morning paper.
In her mind she relived that quiet scene from that morning.
She'd gone down to get the newspaper. As she flipped through
it, she'd felt a tingling at her seventh sense. Looking up,
Bobby was there with the bouquet of flowers semi-hidden behind
his back; Rogue smiled at the memory. Then she'd felt another
tingle and had noticed Storm on her morning flight over the
But something didn't seem right.
She remembered feeling a slight chill as she picked up the
paper. Skimming the front page. A tingling feeling, warning
her of someone's approach. Bobby and the flowers. Another
Chill. Newspaper. Tingle. Bobby --
Wait. She'd felt a chill in June?
Could that have been another tug at her seventh sense?
But Bobby and Storm were the only people outside that morning.
The tingle had been such a short burst. It had to have been
a quick breeze.
She narrowed her eyes as she scrutinized the area by the
It might have been a quick movement, too.
A sense of dread...almost fear...came upon her as realization
Someone else had been there that morning.
Her senses sharpened and her nerves on edge, she spun around
quickly when her seventh sense told her that someone was approaching
Moments later, Ororo popped her head in the door.
"Rogue? Might we talk?"
"Um...Sure, Storm. What's up?"
Ororo hesitantly stepped into the room. Looking pointedly
at the roses in Rogue's hand, she asked, "A gift from
"Um...yeah...He's...real sweet." Looking almost
embarrassed, Rogue quickly set the flowers down on her bedside
table. "So what's on your mind, Ro?" She gestured
toward the chair next to her vanity. "Have a seat?"
"Thank you." Storm brought the chair closer to
Rogue and sat down. "For this, I believe you should sit
down as well. There is much we need to discuss."
Rogue looked at Storm quizzically, then sat down on the edge
of her bed. "Okay...Now you've really got me curious.
What's goin' on?"
Ororo hesitated, unsure how best to begin. "Rogue, we
had something of a...visitor...this morning. I followed him
when he left..."
"He was hidin' behind the bushes by the main gate, wasn't
Storm nodded in assent. Rogue stood and walked over to the
window, turning her back to Ororo. She felt her throat begin
to constrict, and she clenched her fists to keep hot tears
from rolling down her cheeks. "Musta been watchin' when
Bobby gave me those flowers..." Still facing the window
with her back toward Storm, she gingerly massaged her now-throbbing
For a few minutes, no one spoke, and an uneasy silence settled
upon the room.
"He's back, isn't he?" Rogue finally said, almost
"Yes," Storm said simply, standing up. She stayed
at a distance behind Rogue, ready to offer a shoulder to cry
upon if needed.
"So how is he?"
"He is...well. We spoke for some time about...what happened..."
Rogue turned around and gazed curiously with red-rimmed eyes
at her friend. "What did you tell him?"
"Only what was my right to say."
"So he doesn't know about...the baby yet?"
"I only told him -- briefly -- what has happened here
in his absence, such as our recent...problems with the Shadow
King. I did not feel it my place to tell him of your more...personal
"Good." Rogue returned to staring out the window.
"Rogue...he would like to see you."
Storm could see the building tension in Rogue's back and
shoulders as Rogue battled to retain control of herself. "So...when
Storm pulled a folded piece of paper from her pocket. "He
wanted me to deliver a letter to you." She stood and
brought the note over to Rogue, who quickly snatched it from
Ororo moved to leave. "I will be outside if you --"
"Wait. Please?" Storm could hear the pleading in
Rogue's voice. "Ah don't want to do this alone."
Storm smiled reassuringly and moved to Rogue's side. "Of
course not, child."
Rogue looked down at the note in her hand, then back at Storm.
"Ororo -- thanks," she said uncertainly as she turned
her attentions back to the letter. Nervously chewing on her
lower lip, she held her breath as she unfolded the note.
It read simply:
I guess it's pretty obvious that we've got a lot to talk about.
If you want to see me, meet me at Caruso's in Salem Center
tonight at 7. If you don't come, I'll figure you don't want
to see me, and I'll leave you alone.
Rogue felt her legs turn to jelly as they buckled beneath
her, bringing her to her knees. "He's alive...,"
she whispered, her eyes brimming with tears. "He's back...and
he wants to see me." Rogue's voice cracked, and Ororo
saw a the churning confusion, relief and panic in Rogue's
eyes as she looked up.
Storm knelt down beside her friend, who had begun shaking,
and wrapped her arms around her. Rogue finally let spill the
tears and sobs that had been building since Storm had first
broken the news. Storm patted her on the back as Rogue sobbed
into her shoulder. Finally, Rogue regained control of herself
and disengaged from the embrace.
"Ah don't know if I'm silly with relief that he's alive,
or terrified that he wants to see me," she said weakly,
sniffing as she wiped her nose on the back of her hand.
"Do you know what you are going to do?" Storm asked
"Well...Ah...Ah owe it to him ta see him, at least just
this once." Rogue picked a rose up off her bedside table
and began fiddling with it. "Ah mean...after everything
that happened, we do need ta talk..." She
looked down at her swollen belly, nervously laughing as she
patted it lightly. "After all, he should probably know
about this li'l one, right?"
Storm placed her hand on Rogue's shoulder and smiled at her
encouragingly. "Yes, he probably should."
Rogue smiled hesitantly at Storm, then fiddled nervously
with the rose in her hand, testing each of the thorns on the
stem; none broke through her invulnerable skin. Storm moved
over to the window, gazing pensively out at the lush greenery
of the mansion grounds.
"So how're you doin' with all this, Stormy?"
Storm looked over her shoulder at Rogue, surprised at the
question. "I give thanks to the Bright Lady for his safe
"Don't go pullin' that goddess gig on me, Ro.
Ah know you better than that. How are you really
Ororo sat down on Rogue's bed with a sigh. "I cannot
help but be reminded of my own failures when I think of him.
And now that he is back...I find it difficult to reconcile
my memories of the Morlock massacre with the Remy that I have
known for so long." Storm paused. "Why is it that
having such a dark event in one's past seems almost a prerequisite
for membership in the X-Men?"
Storm smiled sadly at the unintentional joke. Rising stiffly
to her feet, she said, "I should probably be going..."
She walked to the door, then looked back, doorknob in hand.
"If you should need any help in...getting ready...tonight,
I will likely be in my room, tending to my plants."
"Thank you, Ororo," Rogue said, smiling gratefully.
Rogue again lay on her bed, pensively tapping the rose stem
against her comforter as she rested her other hand, still
clasping the note, on her belly. She knew she had to see him,
but her anxiety was getting the better of her.
Looking at the petals of the rose, she idly considered a
round of "he loves me, he loves me not." If only
things were that simple, she sighed to herself. We're
not two teenagers with crushes on each other. It's so much
more complicated than that.
Ah don't know if Ah even want him ta love me anymore...Certainly
don't know how Ah feel about him anymore...
Just wish Ah could snap my fingers and this night'd be
She glanced over at the alarm clock next to her bed, then
jumped up suddenly. "6:30?!" Rogue muttered a curse
to herself as she lept to her feet and rushed over to her
Hurriedly, she grabbed the first thing she could find, the
outfit she had worn the night before on her date with Bobby.
She moved over to the mirror, meaning to quickly dart in front
of it to check her hair and makeup, but she caught herself
staring at her reflection, comparing her present self to the
one of six months ago.
Her face was thinner, and her belly definitely larger. She
even thought she could see a wrinkle or two. And was that
more gray in her hair, or just part of her white stripe?
Rogue closed her eyes and forced herself to take a deep breath,
then tried to look at herself more calmly in the mirror. This
"date" was making her crazy.
Gambit unfolded his menu for the twentieth time and
glanced at his watch for probably the thirtieth. She
was over an hour late.
I can' take this anymore. Stood you up, boy. What'd
you expect? Love and kisses? Pah!
It's time I should be going.
Prob'ly just as well anyway. What I saw today...
She's obviously let go. Time for me t'do the same.
He called for his bill and took a last sip of his wine.
Once the waiter brought back his credit card, he quickly
signed the receipt and walked toward the door.
A pay telephone near the restroom caught his eye on
his way out, and he paused for a moment, debating whether
he should call the mansion, or just consider this the
Nah...This gotta be the end. No more 'a this hoping
and second chances an' shit. She don't show up, means
she don' want to see you no more. Knew if you came back
this might happen. Always a risk. Just gotta roll with
Need 'tget outta here.
Remy pulled his trenchcoat tighter around himself and
bolted out the door, only to collide with a woman just
outside the exit, knocking them both into the street.
Shit. First I get stood up, den I knock over a pregnant
lady. Could dis day get any worse?
"Sorry," he mumbled as he got to his feet.
Inexplicably, the woman began laughing. "What's
so funny?" he asked, annoyed. He offered a hand
to help her up.
She mumbled an answer as he pulled her to her feet.
He almost dropped her when she looked up at him and
he saw her face.
She'd been pacing outside the restaurant window for
the past half-hour trying to decide whether or not she
wanted to go inside.
Ah can see him through the window. He looks angry,
impatient. Keeps lookin' at his watch.
Ah should go in.
No...Ah can't face him again. Seeing him from out
here's bad enough.
Ah can do this...Ah can just walk right in
there and sit down at the table. Sure, he'll be upset
about my bein' late, but it'd be worse if Ah didn't
show up at all...
Rogue again peered through the window at Gambit's table.
It was empty.
Shit. Way to go girl. Go and screw it all up again.
She sighed, then turned to look down the street, hoping
to see him walking along the sidewalk.
Get a grip. Just find him this time.
As Rogue passed by the restaurant, a tall figure darted
out, colliding with her and sending her sprawling into
a puddle on the street.
"Sorry," the man mumbled as he pulled himself
to his feet.
Almost against her will, Rogue started giggling.
Could this day possibly get any worse?
"What's so funny?" her "assailant"
asked, a hint of annoyance in his voice. He stuck out
a hand to help her up.
"Kind of a private joke," she said, accepting
his help as she awkwardly tried to get back on her feet.
Her smile disappeared when she looked up at his face.
To be continued.
Down-Home Charm / Fan-Fiction /
Fan Artwork / History Books /
Photo Album / Songbank /
Miscellania / Links /
Legalese: Rogue, the X-Men, and the distinctive likenesses thereof
are Trademarks of Marvel Characters, Inc. and are used without permission. This is an
unofficial fansite, and is not sponsored, licensed or approved by