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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11

Mending Fences - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by Karen Bruce
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 6

The nightmares echo through her head when the mansion is quiet. They hunt her as silently as shadows. As callously as velocioraptors. Always in packs. Always going for the jugular. Always tearing her in two between future and past. Rogue descends into the darkness of her subconscious, but the dream is not hers. She is standing on top of a tower near Notre Dame in Paris - the air is cold against her face, heightened by the sweat that trickles icily down her forehead and cheekbones. Nearby, a man-beast stands, holding two ropes to which a man and a woman are tied. She clenches her fists - the pendant that she is holding cuts into her hand but she barely notices. Blood stains the starry brightness of the emerald. L'Etoile de Tricherie.

"Your choice . . . ."

She throws the pendant, watching in horror as it clatters to a stop by the feet of the man-beast.

He smiles and his white fangs gleam pale in the moonlight.

"You've got spunk, girl. I'll give you that," he sneers, "Unfortunately, spunk doesn't make up for having no brains."

He drops the ropes and she dives desperately, snatching at the nearest rope. It chafes against her raw hand and she closes her eyes too scared to see who she saved. And when she does . . . a man looks back at her, disappointment in his dark eyes.

She runs down, down, down into darkness. Until the streets of Paris give way to green fields. To a broad river that is brown with mud. There are two children playing in the river and they motion her to come join them. One has golden hair the color of daisies in the summer, the other has hair as brown as the river with a streak of white.

"Come on . . . don't be afraid . . . ."

She strips out of her uniform, ashamed of the fact that she is unashamed, then looks down and sees that she is dressed in a pale blue costume. She steps into the warm water, allowing her muscles to relax. The little girl looks at her with a smile on her face.

"You sure are pretty. Do you have a boyfriend?"

Rogue hesitates, unsure of whether to tell herself the truth.

"Yeah. Ah do."

"So do Ah. His name is Cody."

"Sabrina," the golden boy splashes her with muddy water, "Gross."

"Shut up. You're mah man, Cody."

"You have cooties," the boy retaliates, "All girls do. Why did momma say Ah have ta play with you?"

"B'cause you're in love with me," the girl's voice rises to a falsetto, "You said Ah was th' prettiest girl you'd ever seen."

"Pfft," Cody sticks his tongue out at the other child, "The homeliest you mean. You couldn't get a boyfriend if'n you caught one with a fishin' pole."

"That's not very nice. Tell him, ma'am," the little girl looks at her with pleading green eyes.

"Don't worry. Ah know that Cody secretly worships th' ground you walk on."

"Told you so."

"She's an adult. She has a . . . ick . . . boyfriend."

"Is he cute?"

"Very," Rogue smiles, feeling like an adolescent all over again.

"Bet he's not as cute as Cody."

"Shut up, Sabrina."

"Sabrina?" a voice calls from the bushes, "Sabrina Celine Parker - if'n you don't come out here right now . . . ."

The little girl shoots a worried look at her older self.

"Daddy. Lawd . . . Ah've done it now."

"Why, sugah?"

"He thinks Ah'll turn out ta be a slut, just like momma was. Run away with Cody or else get inta trouble," she climbs out of the river and Rogue can see the old scars and welts that criss-cross her back as well as the new ones.

"But you're just a kid . . . ."

"Yeah. Tell that ta daddy."

"Maybe Ah will," Rogue climbs out of the river as well, self-conscious of the wet costume that clings to her.

"Sabrina. There you are . . ." her step-father looks at her with dislike, "Come on home."

"She's not goin' with you," Rogue says quietly.

"Who are you ta tell me what ta do, you jezebel?"

The holy Reverend Parker has obviously not missed too many meals. He folds his arms across the paunch that strains his severe black suit. Fat hangs in bags beneath his eyes.

"Your daughter . . . ."

"Jezebel. Lyin' witch," he lifts his hand and strikes her and she cries out in agony.

Her back begins to bleed - old wounds and scars opening to emit fresh blood. It pours in a torrent to her feet.

"Go ta Sheol," he pushes her into the river where she sinks, deeper and deeper into muddy blackness.

She lifts her face to the sky, but only sees bricks and mortar. She is in some sort of tunnel - has fallen asleep with a child in her arms. Bones stick out from the little girl's face and she whimpers as she sleeps.

"Wake up, sugah."

The child opens mad yellow eyes, watches her with intense hate.


"Ah'm sorry, Sarah. Ah didn't mean ta . . . . Ah didn't know it would be this bad," she finishes lamely.

"Doesn't give me back my life."

"Ah know an' Ah'm sorry."

"That all you can say. All you know how to do."

"Here," she digs in her pocket, surprised at the fact that she is wearing a trenchcoat, and hands a thick wallet to the child.

"Keep your money," the girl dashes it out of her hands, the dollar bills flutter to the floor like leaves from a tree.

"Please. Ah don't have anythin' ta give you 'cept this."

"No. It will make you feel better and I don't want you to. Not until the day you die."

"Can Ah take you to a shelter?"

"No. You've done enough," the girl pushes her away and runs off into darkness. . . .

Gambit whistles tunelessly to himself as he pushes the front door open with his shoulder. His hands are laden with parcels and Storm follows behind him with equally much stuff. He clasps the roses in a sticky hand, ignoring the thorns that prick into him.

"How much further, Remy?"

"Up de stairs, chere, and den left a little way. Pourquoi?"

"I believe I am going to drop everything in a few seconds," Storm says from between clenched teeth.

Gambit laughs, "C'n I take somet'ing else?"

"No . . . I will be fine . . . ." Storm gasps, "I hope . . . goddesspleasehelpme . . . ."

The parcels fall then halt midair, held by an unseen hand. Or mind.

"I am afraid I am no goddess," Jean says with a smile, "But I'll help anyway."

"Merci, Jeannie."

"Did you feel an urge to buy *all* of Macy's, Remy?"

"Non, jus' a few floors."

"Those roses are lovely."

"Got dem from a femme called Sunset Grace. Old an' weird-lookin'."

"Sunset Grace?" Cyclops asks from behind Jean, "I thought she had returned to her Neverneverland."

"She had," Phoenix lowers the parcels to the floor, "I wonder what compelled her to return."

"Marie," Gambit says wryly, "M'tante's busybody friend."

"I see," Cyclops rubs his chin, "Can we help carry things?"

"Merci," Gambit dumps the entire contents of his arms into Scott's, "I'll go back f'r de next load."

"Next load?" Phoenix goes pale, "Remy? Do you really need this much stuff?"

"Not dat much," he protests, "Lot of it is f'r redecoratin' de mansion. Stormy talked me into buyin' it."

Storm shrugs, "He seems to have more money than any of us."

"Den dere's de year's supply o' playin' cards. I'm out, save f'r one which I wouldn' t'row away if m'life depended on it."

"Which one?"

"Queen o' Hearts," he grins, "Actually m'life probably does depend on it. Rogue'd kill me if I got rid o' it."

"You know how I asked you all that time ago exactly what it was that you had with Rogue?" Cylcops says after a momentary pause.

"Oui. I remember sayin' dat it depended on what day of de week it was."

"What is it now?"

Gambit laughs, "Fear, mon ami. Fear."

Jean echoes his laughter, "Why can't I get my hubby to be equally terrified?"

"Simple, cherie. Ya don' bench-press triple ya own body weight f'r a light work-out."

"Hmmm . . . ." Jean says teasingly, "Perhaps I should get out those Jane Fonda tapes again."

Cyclops laughs and begins walking up the stairs.

"Just as long as you don't think that it's my conjugal duty to exercise with you."

Jean smiles, "You looked cute in spandex."

"Ha. Ha.. Ha," Scott says sarcastically, "It obviously didn't work. My arms are falling off - this stuff weighs a ton."

"Come on, oh whiny husband," Jean walks up the stairs, keeping the parcels steady with her mind as she does so, "Or else I will decide that you need five hours of Jane Fonda's particular skills."

Storm smiles at Gambit as the married couple departs, teasing each other as they do so.

"I don' t'ink dey realize how lucky dey are."

"People who are completely happy rarely do."

"Oui," he says quietly, "Wouldn' wish what happened t'me an' Rogue on dem, even if it did help dem appreciate what dey've got."

"At least you two still are together," Storm sighs, "No matter how much I deny it, I miss Forge."

"So do I. He was de only person who could set de VCR."

"Remy . . . ." Storm cautions, her eyes growing sad, "The strangest thing about it all is that I do not miss the man, I miss the feeling of being in love. Of being loved."

"Know what ya mean," he says, "Let's get de rest o' de parcels, chere."

"I'll do it," she smiles, "With the help of certain new members of the team . . . ."

Maggott, who has just walked into the room, pauses in horror.

"'Certain members', skatjie?"

[darling - literally means, little treasure.]

"You are an X-Man. We help each other."

"Met bagasie ook?"

Storm and Gambit exchange a look of complete confusion.

"Ain't no language I ever heard."

"I believe it is Afrikaans."

"Ag . . . ." Maggott throws up his hands in defeat, "I said . . . with baggage as well?"

"Yes," Storm grasps his arm and pulls him in the direction of the door.

"Actually, liefling, this could be better than I thought," Maggott grins as they exit, leaving Gambit alone to climb the stairs with the roses in his gloved hand.

Darkness. Deep, impenetrable darkness like a black hole, sucking in all the light. It surrounds her, caging her in from all sides. She feels so small, so weak and helpless against this all consuming blackness. Suddenly, pale gray light fills the landscape, revealing scrubby bushes and interminable sand. On a twisted sign, where the words blur into dancing shadows, sits a raven.

"Where am Ah?"

"At the cross-roads," the bird replies, "You may go in any direction."

"But Ah can't read th' sign. Ah don't know where to go."

The bird laughs, hoarsely and mockingly.

"What makes you think that I will tell you?"

"Please . . . ."

"Very well."

The words in the sign become clear like crisp dagger-strokes in the wood. Written on them are two unfamiliar names - Scylla and Charybdis.

"Ah still don't understand."

"Maybe this will be more familiar."

The words shift again, phasing in and out like beating birds' wings. The devil and the deep Blue Sea. L'Enclume et le marteau. A rock and a hard place.

"There's no way ta win," she says.

"Well done."

The ground gives way and she falls into blackness. When she looks up again, she is standing in a deserted alleyway. A wind blows old candy wrappers across the cobblestones and she bends and picks one up. The words on it are clear - "Forget-me-not Chocolates." She flings the box away from her and runs until her legs give out, hides in the darkest corner of the darkness.

"Come out . . . ." The little girl is once more standing there, holding out a hand, "I'll not let you go."

She takes the child's hand and as she does so, the girl shimmers and is replaced by a woman. An older one with bitterness in her emerald green eyes. Her lips curve in a secretive smile and she holds a card out to Rogue.

"Take it . . . ."

Hands shake as she does so and she drops it, watching as it flips it over. Ace of Spades that trembles and is replaced by the Queen of Hearts. A voice fills the alleyway.

"What has come to pass is what I have always wanted, we are one. I am you and you are me."


"I am the traitor betrayed by his love. The traitor becomes the betrayed. The betrayed, the traitor. The circle is complete."

"Show yourself," she picks up the card and charges it with kinetic energy. The alleyway is filled with sickly red light.

A young man steps out, shrouded by darkness, wearing it like a cloak. He drops the darkness, filling the alley with coruscating light. Rogue covers her eyes, scared to be blinded yet again as she was once by Strobe.

"No need to be afraid. I love you. Unconditionally."

The mocking echo of the words which she had spoken in Antarctica tear through her heart.

"Get away."

"I can't. I am you and you are me."

"We are not th' same."

"Yes, we are," the light dims, leaving behind a slender man with eyes that remember the color of blood.

"Remy . . . ." she whispers, "Please don't do this."

"Ya be afraid, ma cherie. No need. I won' hurt ya."

"You won't?"

"Non. But I won' save ya either. It's up t'you whether you live or die. I don' care anymore."

"No . . . no . . . ."

The cobblestones vanish, becoming silver snow. Rogue sinks, clawing desperately, fighting her way up to the surface. She cannot fly. The snow closes above her head. Something touches her shoulder and she looks up and sees the raven.

"Wake up . . ." it says.

"Wake up . . . ." Gambit shakes Rogue more than a little roughly, worried by the words which pour out in a meaningless stream from her mouth. The tears that still stain her cheeks. Green eyes open and look at him with an ancient weariness in their depths.

"Ya were asleep," he explains, "Havin' a bad dream."

"Mmmm . . . a dream," she echoes, not properly awake yet.

"Ya look - an' ya'll excuse m'honesty - like hell. Ya been gettin' enough sleep, girl?"

She shakes her head, "No . . . not really."

"An' it doesn' seem like all de warm milk in de world will help, henh?"

"Don't know," she props herself up, picking stuffing out of her hair.

"Ya should go see Beast. Get a sleeping pill."

"That won't help. Ah'm scared . . . . so scared, sugah."

"Would it help if I spent de night?"

Rogue laughs, "Any excuse, huh?"

Gambit grins at her in return, glad to see that she has finally snapped out of her somber mood.

"Dese are f'r ya."

He hands her the roses, wrapped in a torn brown paper bag. Rogue takes them, lifts them to her face and inhales the sweet, velvety fragrance.

"These are beautiful," she leans forward and quickly hugs him, "Ah love you so much."

"Glad ya like dem."

"Ah'll go get a vase."

"Are ya goin' t'be okay?"

"Fine," she smiles, "Ah think everythin' is goin' ta turn out just fine."

Marrow smiles as she hears Rogue's last words, stroking the knife which she holds in her hand.

"Yes, traitor-lover, everything is going to turn out just fine . . . ."


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