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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5

Always Coming Home - REVIEW THIS STORY

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

Chapter 2

Always Coming Home

Dead Scenes

Yes: I have re-entered your olden haunts at last;

Through the years, through the dead scenes I have tracked you;

What have you now found to say of our past -

Scanned across the dark space wherein I have lacked you?

Summer gave us sweets, but autumn wrought division?

Things were not lastly as firstly well

With us twain, you tell?

But all's closed now, despite Time's derision.'

From After a Journey by Thomas Hardy

Gambit's footsteps echo hollowly down the passageways of the citadel. He has been looking for food and a means of transportation for hours now. Nothing but cold metal and colder memories.

"Y'would t'ink dat Mags would keep dis place better stocked." He says to himself, "It is such a lovely holiday spot, after all."

He stops before a large, locked door. The sort of door one would find leading to a hangar or a supply depot.

"An' invest in a better citadel security system." He inserts a slender iron rod into the door and charges it with explosive kinetic energy. "Not dat dat would help gainst me."

He dives for cover behind a crate as the lock explodes into shrapnel.

"Mon Dieu." He exclaims, "Dere be a whole airforce in dere."

"So, kid . . . you think you're pretty tough." He snarls, "Let's see how tough you are lyin' in a bed in the ICU."

She says nothing but extracts a bone dagger from her back. Reflexes take over and she spins in death-dance, cutting and slashing, dodging and weaving. Finally, she stands over the body of her opponent. Sabretooth.

"No. I know I am."

"End simulation." A carefully modulated voice comes over the intercom.

"Now white-hair wants to play?" She smirks, "Careful, bright one, I always break my toys."

"Your threats shall accomplish nothing." Storm walks into the Danger Room, "I have defeated you once before; needs be, I will defeat you again."

"I underestimated you. I won't make the same mistake twice."

"No, but you have made a mistake in coming here, Marrow." Storm says, "The X-Men are not home to terrorists and murderers."

"But you are home to gene-traitors?" She replies and smiles as she sees the look on Storm's face. The horror and pain in her eyes. "I know all about pretty-boy leBeau and what he did. How he caused my kind to be killed."

"That is more than enough." Lightning flickers at Storm's fingertips, "You know nothing of him other than what people say. Other than the rumors surrounding his departure."

"I know how you've always wanted him. Didn't it hurt you when he told you that he loved the one called Rogue? Didn't it make you mad, bright one."

"No." She says, "Remy and I are good friends. Neither of us wished it to become anything more."

"Keep saying that and one day you might even believe it yourself." Marrow smiles, "Bye for now, Storm. I may even see you later - but you won't see me." The door of the Danger Room closes behind her with a swish. And Storm wonders, if they have invited the devil into the house, what hell there is to pay?

They surround her - twisted parodies of people, of things. The abominations approach, their gait jerky and shuffling. Yet she waits. Breathing. Steadying herself . . . . She attacks in a cat-like movement, knocking out several with each blow. Tendons stretch as muscles move bones. Eyes dart around. Feet connect. Cartilege cracks. Bones break. Figures disappear as they touch the cold, stone floor. The room is empty now and the woman known simply as Rogue wipes the sweat of her forehead before collapsing. She knows she has pushed herself too hard and that she is paying the price for it now, but she doesn't much care. It felt good to release the repressed anger and frustration that had been building up for the past four years. Too good. And she is scared. After spending most of her life fighting for control over both her powers and emotions, she has tasted freedom. Now, like the bird who has been released from its cage, she knows she never can return.

"I'm worried about Rogue." Robert Drake scoops another hand of popcorn into his mouth, "Muy worried."

"What's wrong with Miss Rogue?" Cannonball asks.

"Nothing, Sam." Iceman replies sarcastically, "She's just acting like Sybil. One minute, she's depressed; the next, she's happy - too happy - if you get my drift."

"Ah guess she has every right ta do so, aftah what happened in Antarctica."

"She won't even talk about that to me. Her best friend."

"Maybe there are some pains that you can't talk about." Sam pauses, "When mah daddy died, Ah couldn't even sort out how Ah felt about it mahself. O' course, Ah was sad; but Ah was also angry with him foh never bein' at home when Ah was growin' up an' now foh leavin' me when Ah was a man."

"The thing is, Sam, I think she needs to talk about it, or else it will keep on building up inside her until . . . ." He gestures with his hands, "BOOM!"

"Ah sure wouldn't want ta see Miss Rogue when she's mad."

"I have and, how can I put it, Etna has nothing on her."


"Yeah, Sam. You got it in one. Gosh."

California. The Golden State. Playground of the wealthy, hedonistic and famous. Home of stars. The sand crunches beneath Gambit's feet, running into the cracks between his toes, warming him. A sun hangs low over the hazy horizon, bordered by ocean and white villas. So different to the land of snow and ice from which he escaped. The plane is $100 in his pocket, courtesy of an obliging junkyard dealer who asked no questions. An old friend - as close to one as a thief could ever get - an accomplice who found markets for hot merchandise and paid cash. Non-sequential bills, of course. He suddenly thinks how easy staying here would be. To start a new life. To forget in this land of dreams and stars. Had it not been for the gentle pressure of a card against his thigh, he might have considered it. He pulls it out like he has so often on this journey. It is charred, crumbling at the edges, brittle, but legible. Queen of Hearts. He knows he should have left it in Antarctica. Should have burned it. Torn it up. And he would have if it had not been for her words when she gave it to him. Carry it and think of me in those times we aren't together - though Ah hope those're few.' He should hate her for leaving him. For betraying him and his love. For rejecting his final attempt at reconciliation, like a child who by stating what he wants, thinks that he will get it.

"But . . . I love you."

"You're honest with those you love, Gambit. Otherwise . . . it's a gamble."

"Guess I lost, non?' He asks the woman on the card. Her enigmatic smile reveals nothing and he pockets her with the knowledge that he will carry her in his heart and never forget.

Rogue picks up the photograph that lies next to her bed, tracing the frame with a gloved finger.

"Nevah knew how much Ah took you foh granted, sugah, til Ah didn't have ya no more."

Remy smiles back at her - confident, unafraid, cocky - so different to when she had left him. Then . . . then he had looked terrified, she realises. He had broken down every barrier he had put up against the world; he had exposed himself to her and she had not cared. Or had she?

Tears trickle down Rogue's cheeks and onto her white pillow. She had not been in possession of her senses at the time of her judgement. It was as if she had been outside her body watching a stranger condemn the man she loved to die. She'd tried to call out to him, tell him that she loved and forgave him, but her lips passed the death-sentence, as did his soul inside her. Rogue kisses the photograph before replacing it on her table.

"Ya lost all right t'do dat when ya betrayed me, chere."

"Remy?!" She stands suddenly and looks around the room. No-one.

"Girl, you must be goin' crazy." She tells herself, "Hearin' voices when there ain't nobody there."

"How d'ya t'ink I feel, ma belle? Bein' left by de woman I loved t'die."

"Leave me alone . . . ." She turns and runs down the hallway, trying to escape his voice.

"An' dis from de woman who said dat she wanted t'spend her life wit' me."

"This ain't happenin'." Rogue trips and skids along the polished wooden floor.

"Are you alright?"Cecilia Reyes asks.

"Ah'm . . . fine."

"You didn't sound it. What's going on?"

"Nothin' you would understand."

"I haven't understood much since I arrived here. Why should this be any different?" She extends a hand, "Get up. You're called Rogue, aren't you?"

"Yeah. An' you're th' doctor that Bobby brought back with him from his leave of absence." She says, standing, "Guess it was too much ta hope that he'd just pick up another ugly T-shirt."

"Cecilia Reyes. Want to fill me in on what's happening with you? Maybe I can help."

"You can't. Ah've got to deal with this on mah own."

"You sound like me. Hurt but too stubborn to ask for help." She shrugs, "Suit yourself. It makes no difference to me either way."

"Then you know why Ah can't."

"I also know why you should."

"Don't you see, doc? Ah can't talk about this to anyone b'cause they would nevah understand."

"They won't understand if you don't try to make them." She replies, "It's about time you stopped whining about your problems and started doing something about them."

"Like you have, Cecilia?"

"Don't lay a guilt trip on me. I'm not the one whose been walking around the mansion as hangdog as heck the past few weeks."

"Tell me, Cecilia. Do ya know what I've just been through?"

"No worse than what I have. I lost everything to Operation: Zero Tolerance. My work, my friends, my *whole life*."

"At least that was out of your control, Ah was given th' choice whether ta save or condemn th' man Ah love, an' Ah sentenced him ta die."

"At least you were given a choice."

"Not a proper one." Rogue bows her head, "Else Ah would never have chosen ta do what Ah did."

"Rogue." She says more gently than before.

"Forget it."

When the young woman lifts her face again, her eyes are hard with hatred. With contempt and a subtle shade of pain with which Cecilia is all too familar. The pain of resolute emptiness. Of having your heart torn from you when you saw your father die before your eyes. And not for the first time Doctor Reyes wonders what good it is knowing everything about the human body when she knows so little about the human soul.


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