Home | Forum | Mailing List | Repository | Links | Gallery
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24

Between the Darkness and the Light - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by Amanda Sichter
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 22

Tableau. Jean and Scott on one side of a table, half-lost in dim light. Rogue, opposite them, in bright light, arms folded in defiance, her back stiff with pride and (not that she would admit it) fear. For a moment, as he leaned forward, it looked like Scott was going to ask, "When did you last see your father?". What he said, however, was, 'You know why you're here.' 'Because that whiny bitch can't take a fight?' sneered Rogue. 'Because she can make yah believe what she wants yah to believe? Because the X-Men suddenly think Ah should hold back in training sessions? No, Cyke, Ah don't know. Y'all can tell me why Ah'm here.' 'Azimuth,' Jean emphasised the name lightly, 'wasn't lying.' She leaned forward into the light, tapped her fingers on the table. 'I may not be able to easily read what's in your head, Rogue, but Azimuth doesn't have those sort of shields. I read what she saw in you and she was not lying. You tried to kill her.' Rogue's face went white, but her expression didn't change. 'So this is what it's about. You don't trust me any more.' 'No,' said Scott, harshly. 'We don't.' 'And why exactly?' asked Rogue, her voice tight. 'What have Ah done that all of a sudden yah don't trust me?' 'You attempted to murder someone,' he replied. 'For the third time. How many times do you think the X-Men can keep overlooking that?' Rogue looked shocked and genuinely puzzled. 'Three times?' she said in a small voice. 'Carol Danvers when you were with the Brotherhood. Gambit in Antarctica. And now Azimuth.' Scott leaned forward, stared at Rogue through his visor. 'You can say what you want about them being unintentional or accidents or mistakes, but I want to know the truth. And I'm afraid I'm no longer willing to accept your word for it.' Rogue's distress was evident in the tight clench of her arms around her body. 'Then what are yah gunna do, Cyke? All Ah can tell yah is the truth.' 'Or lies,' replied Jean. Her voice was cool as she said, 'You haven't been in a stable mental state since Erik the Red's "trial" of Gambit. You agreed to counselling but you haven't been particularly forthcoming during it. I thought that we could trust you in a group training session but it appears that I was wrong. We have trusted you, Rogue, ever since you arrived here. We haven't held you to account for your crimes with the Brotherhood - not in any way that would satisfy the legal system. We haven't prevented you spending time with Mystique. We accepted your explanation of why you left Gambit in Antarctica. We haven't even asked for your real name. I think it's time you let me in your head.' 'Yah can't,' whispered Rogue. 'Yah know Ah got psychic shields. Yah can't touch me like that.' Jean noted Rogue's phrasing, the obvious and absolute revulsion at the thought of being touched so intimately, mentally or physically, but she had little patience for Rogue's sensitivities. 'You're resistant to psychic probes, Rogue, not immune. You can let me in.' 'And what if Ah don't?' asked Rogue. 'Then I'm going in anyway,' replied Jean, her voice steely. 'You may be resistant, but I am Phoenix.' Fiery wings spanned behind her for a moment and were gone. 'Even if Ah say no? That's - that's -' Rogue trailed off, horrified. 'It's necessary,' said Scott quietly. 'You tried to murder someone, Rogue. What do you want us to do - turn you over to the police? We need to find out if you're a danger. Or in danger. You're hearing voices in your head that tell you what to do. Are we supposed to trust them as well?' Rogue stared at him for a moment, looked away. 'Fine,' she said harshly. 'Whatever. If yah want to rummage around inside mah head that much, go ahead.' Jean sighed at the angry, terrified look on Rogue's face but she was used to using telepathy in the face of hostility. So she turned her mind inwards, focused it and took one step forward, through the harsh static of Rogue's natural resistance, and into her head. * * * * * The shape of the mind always intrigued Jean. There were few lies on the astral plane. A telepath could show you what they wanted you to see, but those without telepathy showed only the truth. Stylised truth, shaped truth, almost Freudian truth, but what you saw was what they were. Houses were common. People shaped the space of their mind into houses with locked rooms and mysterious basements and things that lurked in the attic, but mostly the houses were open and brightly-lit, with childhood memories hidden in toy-chests in corners behind the furniture of adult thought. Rogue's mind was a city. A derelict city. Cracked and stained concrete fell away from beneath Jean's feet. Tall buildings rose about her, but the facades had crumbled down onto the street and the exposed steel girders stood, starkly broken, against a dark and roiling sky. Somewhere, far away, the wind was howling. Jean stepped forward into the astral landscape and the concrete slabs tilted and tipped beneath her feet. She was Phoenix, however, and with an effort of will she felt the ground harden beneath her feet, support her as she walked through Rogue's mind. Behind her, even as her feet lifted, the ground fell into ruin again. At the shuddering clatter of her heels, buildings quivered and subsided further in upon themselves, the dust of their collapse drifting outwards on the wind. The only word she could think of to describe it was desolation. *Resonance* Once Jean had walked through a mind there was always a resonance, a thrumming in the chest of her astral projection, when she came near the shape of that psyche again. She had never walked through Rogue's mind, expected no resonance, and yet now her chest thrummed with the deep beats of a familiar mind. She made swift mental adjustments, changed her perceptions so the colour drained from the scape around her, leaving only the broken steel girders glowing blue with the force of Xavier's mind. Levitating, Jean raised herself up to the nearest girder, perched neatly on a cross-beam. Laying her hand lightly on it she could feel the power of Xavier, the way that his mind had shaped the space of Rogue's psyche. The fagade was Rogue but the struts that held it all together were purely the Professor's. 'So that's what he's been doing,' breathed Jean. She had long wondered why Rogue had stayed with the X-Men and remained so loyal to Xavier when there had been so little progress in controlling her powers. Beneath her hand, she peeled away the layers of the Professor's work, the story rising into her consciousness as she reached the core. Already unstable, riven by her power and other, older factors that Jean could not grasp, Rogue's psyche had been destroyed by Carol Danvers. Once absorbed, Carol's mind had battered away at the structures inside Rogue's head, trying to take it over, driving Rogue to seek the help of the Professor. Xavier had been kept busy shoring up Rogue's psyche, reconstructing the framework so she could keep the tattered fragments of her personality together. In the end Carol had been expelled, but she had ripped apart those foundations before she had gone. After that, the need to control Rogue's power had been subsumed by the need to keep her sane. The long sessions that Xavier and Rogue had together, the ones that had appeared to be failed attempts to control her powers, had, in fact, been Xavier slowly reconstructing Rogue's mind, anchoring her psyche around the strong pillars he built for her. Then - and Jean winced at the dark purple-red fractures that weaved and twisted the length of the girders - there was Onslaught. Long before it had physically manifested the Onslaught entity had sabotaged its own efforts within Rogue's mind, introducing stresses and flaws even as it built. Those flaws had fractured apart in Antarctica, under the strain of Gambit's trial, and Rogue's mind had begun the long descent back into the madness and ruin that now surrounded Jean. 'You should have told me,' Jean whispered to the Professor's ghost. If only she had known she could have taken over the Professor's work, known what was going wrong in Rogue's head long before this. It had been working - before Onslaught it had been working - with Rogue approaching a state where control of her powers had been a distinct possibility. Until Antarctica, Rogue had almost been happy. Since Antarctica, everything - happiness, personality, sanity - had gradually crumbled away and the Professor had not been there to help her this time. No, not just crumbled. Corrupted. The dark, bile stain of Onslaught, Rogue's old hates and hungers made new and fresh, some strange shaping of Erik the Red's - all of these things joined together in a hungry, murderous, mindless ache of hate and rage. Jean, quite frankly, was surprised that Rogue had managed to function as a human being for as long as she had. Jean let her hands fall from the girder, changed her perceptions so colour tinged the astral plane again. Close behind her something howled and it was not the wind. Slowly she turned, putting her back against the girder. Something - amorphous ghost something - hovered in front of her, howling. A despairing howl, lonely and filled with old pain and hate and a desperate longing. 'Rogue?' asked Jean softly, but the ghost flickered more substantially for a moment and she saw someone else's face. An empty face, lost, ripped untimely from its own body. Then the mouth opened, widened, grew fangs and the ghost attacked. The mental exertion was minimal and Jean's punch ripped open the head of the ghost, tore it into pieces. As it dissipated, shreds drifting away on the wind, she glimpsed a shadow of Rogue in the place where it had stood, before it vanished altogether. Lightly Jean drifted down from the beam until she stood in the street again. 'Come,' she whispered and her word drifted out, expanded until it filled the plane, a siren song. She saw them coming then, flickerings around corners, the drifting shapes of old forgotten ghosts and her steps took her to them as she chased them through the fractured landscape of Rogue's mind. Again and again she faced them and they attacked, howling, wanting, needing. Each time she ripped them apart with no effort and each time, before they winked into nothingness, she saw the empty-eyed, hollow shade of Rogue. Finally, long after she had lost track of time, she sent the siren call again and nothing responded. Satisfied, Jean blinked once and vanished back to reality. Behind her, though she never noticed it, the landscape was dotted with the places where she had fought and killed each ghost-thing. Where she had stood, the concrete now was whole and solid once again. * * * * * It must have been some time, Jean realised as she emerged back into the world, since she had entered the astral plane. Night had fallen and Scott had a coffee and a half-eaten apple in front of him. Idly she wondered how long she had walked through the space of Rogue's mind. Then idle thoughts fled as the white, white face of Rogue swam into her vision. 'What did you see?' asked Scott, but Jean ignored him. 'Why didn't you tell me?' she asked Rogue, her tone gentle. 'What Xavier had been doing?' 'Ah didn't . . .' Rogue trailed off, waving her hand aimlessly in the air. Tears glimmered and spilled over her cheeks. 'Yah hurt me,' she accused dully. 'They were you,' replied Jean. 'The voices in your head were always you. I had to destroy the ghosts. There's so much damage in your mind. It's all broken into pieces.' She ached to reach out, draw the younger woman into her arms and comfort her, but knew the gesture wouldn't be appreciated. 'You need help, Rogue.' 'Help? So you can get in mah head and hurt me again?' Anger flushed Rogue's cheeks. 'No,' replied Jean. 'The voices are gone. You won't hear them any more. But if you don't let me in and let me rebuild your mind, you're never going to be sane again.' 'What did yah do, Phoenix?' sneered Rogue. 'Kill all mah demons for me?' 'They were you,' reiterated Jean, patiently. 'It was your own psyche turning on itself. They sounded - they looked - like the people you've absorbed in the past, but they were nothing but manifestations of your own traumas. I've removed them from your mind. But you need more help. I can help you the same way the Professor did.' 'Ah don't want yah inside my head,' Rogue replied sullenly. 'Then you can't be in the X-Men any more,' said Jean. Shock rippled across Rogue's face and Jean felt Scott's urgent question down the psychic link but she lightly shunted the request aside. 'If you won't allow me to repair the damage that's been done to your mind, then I can no longer allow you to be a part of the X-Men. You aren't sane right now, Rogue, which means you can't be trusted. Unless you are willing to let me into your head, then I'd suggest you go back to Mystique because you will no longer be welcome here.' 'Scott?' breathed Rogue, turning traumatised eyes on the X-Men's leader. 'Yah going to kick me out?' He nodded once, sharply, and Jean felt the momentary warmth of his absolute trust in her. 'If Jean says you need help, then you need it. If you won't accept it -' 'Then no more X-Men,' Rogue finished the sentence for him. 'Ah need - Ah need time to think. Jean, Ah don't want, Ah can't . . .' 'I know,' said Jean, and she let the sympathy she felt warm her voice. 'I want to help you, Rogue. I need to work inside your head. It won't be as bad as you think. Let me help you.' 'We'll talk to you again in the morning,' said Scott. 'Think about it tonight.' Jean had let some of the urgency she felt flow down their link and he knew they couldn't wait too long for Rogue's decision. 'Yeah,' said Rogue. 'Ah need to go - Ah've got a headache.' Blindly she stumbled from the room. 'Will she be alright?' Scott asked as Rogue's footsteps faded away. 'She'll survive one night but I'm not sure how much longer. Scott, her mind was just - pieces. Fractures. I don't know how she's lasted this long.' Jean turned to face her husband. 'If she won't let me help her, she has to go. She's not sane. Azimuth was only the first - if she stays the way she is then no X-Man will be safe.' *Reassurance/belief/warmth/love* - all of these things flooded down the psychic link to her and finally she let Scott take her in his arms and hold her as she cried for the sake of the shattered mind of Rogue. * * * * * There was a girl in the mirror she did not recognise. Green eyes, white skin, auburn hair with a white skunk-stripe down the middle, all were as she remembered, but the person behind those green eyes was a stranger. Somewhere between the glass layer and the silver layer she had lost herself, lost her self. There were no voices in her head. They had been there so long, whispering, urging, always there, telling her what to do, what to love, what to hate, what to destroy and now they were gone and she was alone in her head again. But they had been the only things that told her who she was and she could only wonder whether she would ever find herself again. Once upon a time there was a little girl, who lived in a house with parents who didn't love her, didn't want her, didn't need her, didn't approve of her. No matter what she did, no matter how hard she tried, whatever she took to her mother, nothing was ever good enough, ever got her anything. She never went to father because you never went to father because father did things that you didn't want father to do and he hurt her and sometimes she went to father because at least when he hurt her she knew that she existed in his eyes and if she couldn't get approval then at least she could get attention. That was what the little girl settled for but she was always hungry, so hungry for love. ~Not that girl,~ thought Rogue numbly. ~I'm not her any more. I can't even remember her name.~ His name was Cody. The girl had loved Cody, the way you loved when you were very young and didn't know what it meant - clean and uncomplicated and adoring. And Cody had loved her back the way that boys did then. He had pushed her in the creek and run races with her and pulled her hair and she had known that he loved her, too. He proved it one day and she saw it as clear as if it was still happening. Cody was leaning in towards her and she knew that she was going to be kissed, really kissed, for the first time ever. Something burned inside of her - the old hunger for love and approval and adoration that she thought she had run away from. She wanted Cody in every way, to love forever, to have forever, to adore her forever. She hungered for his kiss but it wasn't enough, would never be enough. She wanted every single part of him and she wanted it for always. There was a lock inside her head and she turned the key. The kiss had never ended. Every day it was there inside her head, the beauty and the hunger of the kiss that had stolen Cody away, had locked him inside her head forever. She had left him in the hospital and she had taken his soul away with her and the hunger had not been sated because he had not loved her enough. Mystique had. Destiny had. It hadn't been about evil or ideology. It had been about love. Unconditional love. Whatever she did, whatever she thought or said, her two Mommas had loved her as they loved each other - without rules or preconditions, without stint or questioning. The hunger had been sated and - golden girl, adored daughter - she had even dared to use her power lightly, to taste the lives of others without ever draining too deep. Mystique had approved, had let her use that power without ever calling it evil or soul-sick or vampiric and she had basked in that freedom. She was Rogue and she was happy and she never *ever* thought too hard about what Mystique asked her to do. Until the day she had fought Carol Danvers. Carol had been inside her head like a banshee, a war wail, a siren, fighting her and screaming and burning and trying to rip her to pieces even as she was absorbed. She didn't know how long she held on but it was too long. Shocked by the power and the terror of Carol, Rogue had held on too long and stolen her soul clean away. Oh, they called it memories after, when she had seen Binary who hadn't known how to connect to her past but had known enough to hate Rogue. But Rogue knew - knew that she had stolen everything away from Carol Danvers, all the things that had made her Carol, and if that wasn't a soul Rogue didn't know what was. Carol Danvers hated Rogue and Rogue had absorbed so much of her that she had been able to do something about it. Every day became a fight, a battle to stalemate inside Rogue's psyche, Carol trying so hard to break out, break free, take over, Rogue fighting hard to keep body and soul intact. And in the night, Carol would whisper in the dreams of Rogue and she told her about the evil that she did, the pain that she caused, and Rogue would weep and wake screaming from nightmares into a waking world that was still a nightmare because she finally understood that what she was doing was wrong. Carol fought her harder, ever harder, driving her into madness until the day finally came when Rogue stood up to Mystique, questioned her Momma, and found out that love wasn't unconditional. Then there was Xavier. He had taken her in when she had no right to ask for his help and he had broken up his team for her and he had patiently pieced her mind back together again. The Carol inside her head still beat at her, still fought against her, but slowly Rogue was able to feel safe again, so safe that she thought about going back to Mystique, back home. She hadn't known it then, but the day that she decided that she would stay with the X-Men, not because Carol wanted her to but because it was the right thing to do, truce was finally declared. From that day forward Carol had started to help her, started to share her mind with more ease. There were fights and it still hurt Rogue to think of the times when Carol had taken over her body, used it so much more easily than she could but, as Carol pointed out, it was the price you paid for stealing souls. The Siege Perilous had ended the truce. Something had changed inside her head and the thing that had come out, the Carol-thing, had ripped her into pieces before Magnus had defeated it. Again she had gone home, again the Professor had patiently started to re-weave the shape of her psyche, to make her sane again. Gambit. Remy. It started as harmless flirtation, thinking she could hold him far enough away. Then, one day, without even realising it, she fell in love with him. He loved her back, she could see that, and for a while that was enough. Until the hunger woke again. She wanted more than knowing he loved her. She wanted him to prove it. Prove he loved her, unconditionally, no matter what she did or said, and only then could the hunger be sated. So she had pushed him away, over and over, hurt him with her words, refused to let him touch her, waiting for him to come back, to prove he loved her. Over and over he had done it, but it had never been enough to stop the hunger, the hunger that still lived inside her, wanting him to give up Azimuth, to come back to her, because Rogue was the one he loved, the one he had to love, because she needed him to love her more than anything in the whole world. He had to love her more than he loved life itself and she had wanted him to prove that. ~Oh Lord,~ she said to the wide-eyed girl in the mirror. ~I tried to kill him.~ You could wrap words around it, call it what you will, but she left him in Antarctica to die. 'Ah love you. Unconditionally,' she had said. Scant hours later he had knelt before her, begged for her understanding and she had flown away. ~Unconditional,~ she thought and began to laugh. Her definition of unconditional. Come back to me, even when I try and murder you, come back to me and beg my forgiveness because you love me more than life, more than hope, more than thought, love me no matter what I do or say to you, you have to love me that much because otherwise it isn't enough and I'll be hungry for you, your love, your adoration, your blind devotion and if I can't get that then I have to steal your soul. He hadn't come back. He hadn't begged her forgiveness. He didn't love her any more. The laughter grew stronger, louder, until she found she was clutching her stomach, the girl in the mirror laughing back at her, laughing until it became a single, hysterical sob and stopped. There was something about Erik the Red's trial. She could feel it in her head, should have felt it at the trial, but there had been too much going on. Something about the way she had absorbed Remy had not been right. He hadn't lost consciousness, he hadn't fallen into her head, he hadn't been opened up to her. Too neat, it was, too clinical - an edited version of memory without emotion, giving her only what she needed to condemn him and enough taste of his self-loathing that she could blame him for making her leave him behind. There had been circuit-breakers, interdictions - a collar. Remy had been wearing a collar - that thing around his neck had been a collar. Not Genoshan but - enough. Rogue had been used. Used to rip the X-Men apart, used to destroy Gambit. And - for the first time she admitted it to herself - she had allowed herself to be used. She wanted Gambit to be hurt, beyond imagining, beyond forgiveness, because when he came back that would prove he loved her. The voices in her head had started shortly after. Whispers at first, whispers from the ghosts of a hundred people that lived inside her mind. She'd dealt with them, ignored them, until Azimuth and Remy and the whole Z'Noxx chamber debacle had split her head wide open and let the voices reign. They hated her, she knew that, but she couldn't stop listening to them and they told her what she wanted to hear - that she loved Remy, that he loved her, that he'd come back if only there was no Azimuth, if Azimuth was gone. She'd hoped, she'd oh so secretly hoped, that the werechild would kill the bitch. When Azimuth had lived through that, when she'd come back to health, the voices whispered what they wanted Rogue to do. She'd tried to hard to ignore them but that look, that loving look that excluded *her*, that ignored *her*, before the training session had been the end of it. The voices had roared inside her mind and she had listened to them. Cold sweat broke down her arms, her back, her face. ~I tried to kill her. I tried to kill Azimuth. What have I become?~ The girl in the mirror did not reply. Neither did the voices. She didn't want to be a murderer. She didn't want to be touched. Jean wanted to touch her, wanted to walk inside her head. Old fears came back, chittered at the edges of her mind. Couldn't be touched - she couldn't be touched - touching was pain and fear and things so bad she didn't let herself remember them. Touching was evil - wasn't that what she was always told? Don't touch, don't brush skin to skin because you'll absorb them Rogue and that makes you wrong and sick and bad, a soul-vampire, a killer. She couldn't touch anyone. She couldn't be touched. Because - because - because - She was afraid. For a moment she wished the voices would come back, would tell her what to do but Jean had taken all the voices away - the voices that were nothing but *herself*. She trusted Jean with her life and more, trusted her with her soul. She knew Jean wouldn't do anything that would hurt her, would try and set her mind in order again. She knew all this and she didn't want Jean to do it because she was afraid to let anyone touch her. ~Is this what I've become?~ she asked the girl in the mirror. ~I used to be strong. I used to be brave. When did I turn into this?~ ~You don't remember?~ asked the girl in the mirror. Once upon a time there was a little girl huddled in a corner, weeping, arms wrapped tightly around herself, bleeding and sore. She didn't want anyone to touch her because pain was the only thing touch brought her and touch was evil. But she wanted love - wanted them to love her, anyone to love her, to fill up the spaces inside her with approval and adoration, needed them to love her with an all-consuming hunger. And beneath it all fear like thorns and rage like fire, intertwined so tightly that she could barely tell one from the other. A little girl afraid of anyone who touched her, and hating anyone who took away the love she wanted so badly. ~This is what you've always been,~ said the girl in the mirror and her smile was a knife. 'No,' said Rogue to the girl in the mirror. 'Ah'm not her. Ah'm Rogue. Give Rogue back to me, bitch.' ~Why?~ asked the girl in the mirror. ~You don't even remember my name. How can you let me go when you don't even remember my name?~ 'Ah will,' said Rogue. 'And then you are going to give me Rogue back. Ah'm going to be mahself again.' It was a long night without sleep, but by morning she had remembered who she was. The girl in the mirror had a name again. And when she had chosen who she would be, what she would do, Rogue found that she could, once again, look herself in the eyes. * * * * * Rogue sat opposite Jean and Scott again, pride keeping her back very straight. It wasn't the defiant, brittle pride of the night before, Jean thought. It was something far gentler, far stronger. 'Well?' said Scott. 'Ah want yah help,' said Rogue. 'Jean's help. Ah need help.' 'That's a change,' said Scott, slowly. 'You're being honest with us?' Rogue nodded. 'No secrets any more, Rogue.' 'Ah know,' she replied. 'So tell us your name,' said Jean. 'Your real name.' 'No,' replied Rogue, calmly. 'Ah'm not her any more, Ah haven't been her for longer than Ah can remember. Rogue's my real name now. B'sides, all the crimes Ah committed - Ah did all those when Ah was Rogue. There aren't any secrets yah can find out if Ah give yah a handful of syllables that don't mean anything to anyone. Ah'm Rogue.' Jean nodded. It hadn't been the answer she'd expected but there was a clarity about it, about Rogue's acceptance of her past, that made it acceptable. 'I might find it,' she said. 'When I'm in your mind. I saw some of what was in there - there are childhood traumas that you're going to have to deal with if you want to reclaim your psyche.' 'Ah know,' Rogue said. 'Ah can handle that.' 'You're sure?' asked Scott, startled by the change in Rogue since the night before. 'Ah am,' she replied. 'Ah thought about it last night. Seems like it's the only thinking Ah've done in a long time. Ah don't know what yah did in mah head, Jean, but it looks like it worked.' 'Can I see?' asked Jean, very softly. Rogue nodded and she reached out with her mind, stepped through the static again into the city. It was still the same, still desolate, buildings crumbled and stained around her. But the ground was firm and clean beneath her feet and the wind no longer howled. Instead a fresh, cool breeze whispered past her, redolent with hope. She didn't know it then, wouldn't find it out for some time, but the damage she had repaired when killing the voices had given Rogue's psyche enough stability to partially repair itself, and the results of that repair were evident. She stepped out again, smiled at Rogue. 'It worked,' she said. 'Something worked. If you let me, I'm sure we can put your mind together again. If you trust me.' 'Ah do,' said Rogue. She smiled suddenly, tremulous and twisted, looked down at her hands. 'Ah trust you - maybe not me. But,' she looked up at Jean, her expression half-hope, half-fear, 'Ah want to touch.' She laughed lightly. 'Ah think that's the first time Ah've ever said that in my life. Ever meant it anyway. But Ah do. Ah want to touch. Ah want to stop being hungry. Ah want to make sure the voices never come back.' Jean reached out, touched the back of Rogue's gloved hand lightly in reassurance. 'We'll do it,' she said firmly, proudly. 'Ah know we will,' said Rogue and straightened in her chair again. 'But there's something Ah've got to do first. Ah need to see Remy - and Azimuth. Ah need ta apologise.' Jean shot a disconcerted glance at her husband who leaned forward. 'You can't do that,' he said and raised his hand to still Rogue's incipient protest. 'They're gone, Rogue. We don't know where. They left last night.' The first clue had been a very confusing conversation with Sarah at the breakfast table, as she had demanded to know why they hadn't told her the Massacre-Maker and his bitch had been in the Mansion and where the hell were they hiding them anyhow. Beneath Marrow's ranting, the X-Men had exchanged puzzled glances, not having the slightest clue what she was talking about. Then the four who had known about Azimuth's promise, her pledge to remove the twist on Sarah before she left, had realised what it meant, almost simultaneously. Jean, Scott, Hank and Ororo had almost run to the room next to the medi-lab that was the thieves'. It was empty. Utterly, cleaned to the walls and the few bits of original furniture, empty. 'How the hell?' asked Scott, thinking of patrols and perimeter alarms and the sheer amount of stuff that the couple must have spirited away overnight, and was answered by Ororo's chuckle. 'Gambit is the best thief in the world,' she said. 'Perhaps he wished to prove it.' 'Do you know where he's gone?' Scott rounded on the wind-rider. 'I do not,' she replied, holding up her hands peaceably. 'But why?' asked Jean. 'Because of Rogue's actions, most probably,' replied 'Ro, somewhat pointedly. 'I imagine Remy and Azimuth did not feel safe at the Mansion right now.' She sighed. 'And I do not know for sure, but I believe Remy was making plans, that there was something he thought needed doing. Perhaps, with Azimuth proving her fitness, he thought it was the right time to put those plans into action.' 'Or perhaps he had a new contract,' said Hank, mildly. He smiled at Scott's glare, waved a hand towards the empty room. 'He is a very good thief.' 'I'm sure he'll tell me soon,' said Ororo, unperturbed by the sudden disappearance of her best friend. 'If I receive an e-mail, Scott, I shall let you know.' 'You do that,' he'd said. But there had been no e-mail yet, so early, so he shrugged helplessly at Rogue. 'I'm sorry, Rogue,' he said. 'We don't know what they've gone to do, where they've gone. All we know is that Remy and Azimuth have vanished.'


GambitGuild is neither an official fansite of nor affiliated with Marvel Enterprises, Inc.
Nonetheless, we do acknowledge our debt to them for creating such a wonderful character and would not dream of making any profit from him other than the enrichment of our imaginations.
X-Men and associated characters and Marvel images are © Marvel Enterprises, Inc.
The GambitGuild site itself is © 2006 - 2007; other elements may have copyrights held by their respective owners.