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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 4

Waking Dreams

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,

Into the living sea of waking dreams,

Where there is neither sense of life nor joys,

But the vast shipwreck of my life's esteems;

And een the dearest - that I loved the best -

Are strange - nay, rather stranger than the rest'

From I Am by John Clare

His hand shakes as he knocks at the door and he places it into the pocket of his jacket to disguise his nervousness. He has been rehearsing his lines all the way from the restaurant and he still doesn't know what to say. Footsteps echo behind the polished wood and he wonders whether *she* will answer it and, if so, whether he will flee. Something in him still wants to escape, like a child who knocks on doors and then runs as fast as he can to hide.

'Stopped bein' a boy long ago.' He mutters to himself, and hears the silent answer of Eric the Red in his mind.

'Yet you still do not act like a man.'

"Dat's what I'm doin' right now, Red." He replies silently and waits, watching the approaching figure as it crimps and stretches behind the glass, and he feels his chest grow tight as he sees the flash of white that is its hair. Joseph . . . Rogue . . . or . . . .

"Not another lawyer." Storm opens the door and steps outside into the crisp morning air. "I am afraid that no amount of persuasion will allow us to relinquish Xavier's estate to his brother, Mister . . . ?"

"leBeau." He removes the dark glasses and smiles at her, "I've been away a few weeks an' already m'best friend f'rgets who I am?"

"Remy." She whispers, "I hoped you would return, but . . . I feared that . . . that . . . . Goddess forgive me for my lack of faith in her protection."

"Tell ya Goddess merci' f'r me." He hugs her. " Part from de nasty case o' sunburn, I'm alive."

"Please come inside. I am sure that you have had enough cold for one lifetime." She stands aside and lets him enter.

"Oui." He looks around the sparse entrance hall, "Been doin' some redecoratin', chere?"

"Bastion." She provides as explanation, "While you were in space, his operatives captured us and stripped the mansion."

"Y'alright, Stormy?" His voice is worried.

"I am fine." She replies simply, "It is of you I should ask that question."

"T'ings could be worse." He smiles, "Got a good tan in Antarctica, an' now I have de . . . uh, freedom t'use it t'my advantage wit' de fairer sex."

"I am sorry that things did not work out better between Rogue and you."

His grin becomes brittle - false - and his eyes are hard when he looks at her.

"C'est la vie, non?" He shrugs, "Not de first time t'ings didn't. Won't be de last."

[That's life, no?]

"Will you permit me to ask an obvious question?"


"Why did you return?"

"Trudgin' t'rough de snow in Antarctica, I didn't have much t'live for. M'love, m'friends- all o' dem had deserted me. Fact is I t'ought it might be nice t'curl up in de snow an' die quietly." He laughs, a broken sound, "*Dis* stopped me."

He spreads his arms to indicate the mansion, "De realisation dat I had turned my life around f'r de better, no matter what Eric de Red or Rogue said, kept me walkin' when it woulda been easier t'quit. Den I knew dat, although I had come here originally t'absolve m'self of my guilt over de massacre, Xavier's dream meant more t'me dan just a penance. Dat I believed what de Professor believed. I wasn't about t'throw dat away so easily."

"Then welcome home. I truly hope that I never have occasion to say that again." She kisses him lightly on the cheek.

"I hope de other's are as . . . kind . . . in deir judgements o' me."

"Judgements?" Her eyebrows rise, "You are surely not proposing . . . ."

"Dat ya judge me?" He nods, "Dat was de basic idea."

"Remy . . . ."

"Shhh . . . I know what I'm doin'." He places a finger on her lips, "Call de others, tell dem t'come to de War Room."

"Remy . . . ."

He smiles as he walks out of the room, "It be time f'r m'trial . . . ."

Rogue turns over the page of the book she is reading, attempting to forget the memories that dance like shadows across her mind. She can almost see him sitting on the chair, watching her with intent eyes. Feel his bitter, mocking smile.The words blur before her eyes and tears drip onto the surgical, white paper.

"Damn." She throws it away from her and it lands in the corner, bent backwards like a broken butterfly. "Why was ya so stubborn?"

Her communicator beeps and she presses a button to activate it. It crackles into life with a burst of static.

"Go ahead?" She asks, struggling to keep the catch in her voice hidden.

"Rogue."Storm sounds excited and nervous all at once, "Please join us in the War Room immediately."

"Sure, Ro." She picks up a crumpled Kleenex from her bed and blows her nose with it, "Ain't like Ah got too much else ta do."

A few moments later, she pushes open the door to the War Room with a gloved hand. Her eyes widen in horror as she sees him standing there, tensed like a predator before a kill. Like a hungry wolf. The look on his face does nothing to alleviate her concerns. His eyes are cold fire, burning with pride and anger, and his smile is bitter as he greets her.

"Bonjour, chere."

The old address is spoken more out of habit than any affection for her and the realisation of that settles in her sternum like a lead weight.

"Remy . . . ." She whispers, "Ya came back."

"Oui." He replies, "Never was much one f'r listenin' t'people."

"But . . . ."

"Chere. Let's deal wit' dis after de trial." He says angrily, " Stead o' airing our dirty laundry in public like dis."

"Call me Rogue." Her voice is as icy as his, "Ah ain't your lovah anymore."

"Hggmmm, hgggmmm." Cyclops clears his throat, "Would you take a seat, Rogue?"

"Sure." She shrugs and sits down next to Joseph, mouth curved in a frown.

"Are you okay?" The white-haired man whispers.

"Fine." She says, her eyes preoccupied, "Ah can't wait ta see him lie his way outta this one."

"The procedure is very simple." Cyclops continues, "I think everyone knows the truth about the Morlock Massacre and Gambit's involvement in it. The question is not whether he did it - he did - but whether he should be forgiven for it."

The thief nods, playing with something in his hands. It makes a tikk-tikking sound as he bends it backwards and it snaps forward.

"You will each be given a chance to voice your opinions, and we will count up the votes for and against his remaining." He pauses, "I would like to remind all of you that this man has placed his future in our hands. Consider this carefully before making your decision." He steps up to the head of the table, "As the de facto leader of the teams, I will speak first."

He places his hands in his pockets, "If there is one thing that Xavier has taught me, it is that nobody is beyond redemption. He has taken chances on all of you, believed in you when many others would not have. Even when his faith was unjustified, as in the case of Sabretooth, he did not lose his belief that everyone deserved a second chance. Gambit has done everything to justify Xavier's tenet. He has not once betrayed us or the dream. If the choice were solely up to me, he would stay."

Cyclops sits, "I now call on my wife, Jean, to give her opinion."

Phoenix stands, "As a telepath, I am able to invade people's private thoughts, discover what lies in every human - or mutant - heart. But I choose not to because I respect the fact that my friends are honest with me, that they have told the truth in its entirety. To discover that someone has deceived me, even through silence, makes me wonder whether they can ever be trusted again. Teams are built on trust and on mutual respect. To allow Gambit back into the team would go against that, and so, sadly, I say that he should leave."


The young ninja stands, "My experience with Gambit has shown me that, beneath the somewhat cocky exterior, lies a hero who is capable of deeply caring for others. But even if I did not know him as I do, I would not condemn him. I . . . Kwannon also knew what it was like to kill innocents for money."

"T'wasn't f'r money." Gambit interrupts. "Never woulda done it if it was f'r money."

She nods, continuing, "How can I judge him when I am not innocent myself? When it could be me on trial for my crimes?" She turns to face him, eyes serious, "Gambit stays."

"Garbage." Angel says contemptously, "All this talk of forgiveness and redemption clouds the issue. What he did was horrific, deplorable . . . . He assembled a cadre of soulless killers and led them into the Morlock Tunnels. Were it not for him, the Massacre would never have happened, I would never have lost my wings, the Marauders would never have been formed. He does not deserve our forgiveness nor our sympathy, he should suffer as he has made the Morlocks - *me* - suffer. He goes."

"May I speak, Scott?" Storm says, laying her hand on Gambit's shoulder, "This man was my savior when I met him as a child. He became my friend. My brother. I have always trusted in his essential goodness and nobility of spirit. To say that he is evil because of a mistake he made when he was young is analogous to saying that a person cannot change. Xavier did not subscribe to that belief, and nor will I. This man is a living example that redemption is possible. That one can rise above one's past, no matter how sordid." She smiles, "Which is why I say that he stays."

"Nice words, wind-witch." Marrow's voice grates across the assembled X-Men, "You never were much of a leader. Too weak. Too scared. I won't make the same mistake."

She draws a bone-knife, "Traitor leBeau killed my people. My family. Death is too good for him, better to let him live and remember far, far from home. Like I have to."

Marrow throws the blade, embedding it in the chair a few inches from his neck..

"Better to let him suffer. To wonder if my mercy is for real. To wonder whether I will kill him one day."

Gambit studies her, realising with horror that he has seen her before, "You . . . you be de girl I saved in de tunnels."

"And I should thank you for your . . . mercy? Better I died with my people, rather than lived with their memory."

"Ya gotta believe me dat I didn' know what Sinister had planned." He looks directly into her eyes, seeing the pain and insanity, "I may have been a t'ief but I wasn' a murderer."

"Oh no . . . you became a murderer when you accepted Sinister's filthy deal."

"Non. I became a murderer when I didn' walk away after de first one." He replies, "Sinister said dat everyone had a price t'charge, he was right. Mine was Belladonna."

"Belle?" Rogue interrupts, "Your wife?"

"Ex-wife." He corrects, "She was dead. Sinister said dat he could reanimate her . . . . I hadda take de risk, no matter what de cost was t'me."

"Did Sinister honor his side of the deal?" Storm asks.

"Should know better dan dat, Stormy. He cloned her. Gave her life, but not memories."

"Then how did she remember who you were when she came to the mansion?"

"Dat was de reason I did de second job - t'give Belle back her memories."

"I see." Storm nods her head. "Not for greed, but love."

"Noble." Marrow sneers, "To sacrifice a people for one woman."

"Let's get on wit' dis." He says, "It not matter why any more."

Rogue looks at him intently, conflicted. Sees the lack of emotion on his face and knows it is a mask. Sees the downcast eyes. The hand that flicks . . . a card? She is vaguely aware that the other X-Men are speaking, giving their testaments for better or worse.

"In all th' time Ah've known him, Mr leBeau's been a real swell guy, part from th' fact that he cheats at cards . . . ."

Tikk. Tikk.

"Never liked him - I told Rogue he was a jerk - I was right."

Tikk. Tikk.

"It isn't fair that I judge someone about whom I know zero . . . ."

Tikk. Tikk.

"Guy's a filthy traitor to us all . . . ."

Tikk. Tikk.

"I too committed atrocities under the guise of a noble cause and found forgiveness here. How can I offer anything else . . . . "

Tikk. Tikk.

"Don't know the oke and I can't judge someone I don't know, jy weet?"

[You know?]

Tikk. Tikk.

"My experience with my dark doppelganger has shown me that no-one is infallible . . . ."

Tikk. Tikk.

"At the moment, the votes are even - Beast, Storm, Joseph, Cannonball, Psylocke for; Phoenix, Marrow, Angel, Iceman, Wolverine against. Cecilia and Maggott have chosen not to vote." Cyclops looks at the only person who has not yet spoken, the person who stands to lose - or gain - the most, "It's all up to you, Rogue. Your choice."

The Mississippian walks to the head of the table and stands silently there. A single question repeats itself through her confused mind, as clear as a beacon on a stormy night. Do you let your heart make the decisions for you? She looks at the man she loves, at the object which he is palming with an elegant hand. And she understands all at once that there is often more truth in what your heart tells you than there is in all the courtrooms of the world.

"Ah've made mah decision." She says.

"Den I guess I get packin', Rogue."

"Not unless y'all wants ta go." She smiles shyly, "As far as Ah'm concerned, you're welcome ta stay."

"What made ya change ya mind?" He asks.

"Simple." She walks up to him and takes the object which he had been holding, "This did."

"Queen o' Hearts?"


"Ya said t'keep it when we were apart . . . ."

"Though Ah hope those times are few." She finishes, taking his hand in her gloved one, pressing the card into his palm. "We need ta talk."

"Rogue . . . ."

"Not now." She silences him, "We don't want ta air our dirty laundry in public."

Her words, although flippant, have a note of hurt in them.

"Dere's somet'ing dat I gotta say t'everyone here - but t'ya in particular, mon coeur."

She nods, "Go ahead - Ah ain't stoppin' ya."

He turns to face his team-mates, "I be sorry. F'r not tellin' ya what I did, f'r keepin' de truth a secret, f'r betrayin' ya trust. Sometimes it be too painful t'admit t'ya friends what ya did long ago - de Massacre was. I wanted t'forget about it, bout m'involvement in it, an' pretend it had never happened. Couldn' do dat, I see dat now. I guess I was wrong t'think dat a second chance meant f'rgettin' bout why I needed one in de first place." He pauses, "I hope de rest o' ya can f'rgive me one day as well. I t'ank de rest o' ya f'r ya trust - I promise ya dat I won't betray it again."

"Pretty speech, gene traitor." Marrow sneers, "Don't think any of that will save you when I decide that you've had enough time to regret."

"I won'. I jus' hope dat ya can f'rgive me too."

"Never." She shifts her stare to Rogue, "And as for you, traitor-lover, round one was a blast. Can't wait until round two."

"Why wait then?" Her green eyes blaze as she steps forward, "Ah'm happy ta take y'all down here an' now."

"Stop." Gambit steps between the two angry women, "If ya got a problem wit' me, I be more dan happy t'oblige ya another time, Marrow, but leave Rogue outta dis. She's done not'ing t'hurt ya."

"Why not now?"

"I've got m'good suit on." He grins, looking into her eyes. Marrow stares back, unwilling to drop her gaze and admit defeat, even when the world begins to shimmer and become hazy before her eyes.

"If this is meant to intimidate me, it isn't working."

"Believe me, petite, when I tell ya dat dat wasn't exactly de plan."

She feels her thoughts twist, form themselves into new patterns, coercing her. She fights against it, countering it with pure hatred. Without success. Marrow's eyes grow wide as if she has been dazzled by a brilliant light and she stumbles backwards out of the door.

"By the Goddess, what did you do?" Storm asks, running to where he is standing.

"Charmed her." He shrugs, "Used t'do it more often dan dis."

"You manipulated her mind?" Phoenix asks.

"Non. It be more sort of a hypnosis." Gambit says, "It'll wear off after a while."

"And how do we know that you won't use it on one of us?"

He smiles, "Coulda used it on any one o' ya durin' de trial - got ya t'say I'm innocent - but I didn'. Couldn' ever stand t'lose more dan I did dere."

Jean nods, "I'm . . . sorry for doubting your loyalty to the team. Welcome home, Remy."

"Merci, chere." He replies, "It be good t'be home."

"Don't get too attached to it just yet." Rogue says, an unreadable expression on her face.

"Pardonnez-moi?" His forehead furrows in confusion, "I t'ought ya said I could stay."

"Ah also said we needed ta talk." She smiles, "Tanight's as good a night as any."

Gambit nods, "Don' t'ink I got anyt'ing planned . . . ."

"Ah'll get changed an' we can go."

He grins, "What? An' spoil de charming rummage sale look?"

Rogue smoothes down her creased shirt and cut-offs more than a little self-consciously, "You can't say Ah didn't go all out foh your home-comin'."

"Dat I can't." He says, "Still, I t'ink de rest o' de world might prefer somet'ing a little less avant garde dan I do."

"Ah'll be back in a few seconds." She smiles teasingly, "If'n ya think you can wait that long."

"Waited for weeks for dis moment. C'n wait anotha few seconds."

Marrow shakes her head, trying to clear the haze of thoughts and emotions from her mind. She is confused, cannot remember what happened and how she came to be outside the War Room.

"The others may have welcomed you back with open arms, but my pain runs far deeper than their's. There will come a day when your charm' can't save you from me. When your pretty-pretty can't help. And then . . . ." She draws a bone-knife, grateful for the pain that empties her mind of everything else but itself, and scrawls a phrase into the metal of the door. The words: Traitor dies again.


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