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Chapter 1


Written by Starspirit
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 1

Seems like I've gone off the side of a mountain

Couldn't be sure I was even alive

Fallen from the icy heights

Landed with a broken cry

In this valley of shadows where sorrow resides

Can you save me, baby?

Nobody lives without love

Nobody gets to give up

You can try to lock your heart away

But love will come back for you someday...

It was bitterly cold, but Rogue, soaring among the swirling flakes of silver snow, could not feel it. Searching through the endless planes of white, for Remy. Why couldn't she find him? Remy, darling, love, where are you? She flew lower, till she could see the frozen remains of what had been trees. Oh, frozen! What if he too was frozen like those trees, dead? She would die with him.

Landing in the soft snow, she continued her search, scanning the barren landscape around her. The storm was growing worse, she might not be able to fly in this weather. Visibility was growing worse by the minute, and she decided to take shelter behind an icy knoll.

She wondered if Jean had found the note on the table, the one hastily scrawled and left there. They would never have let her come. Well, it wasn't their choice. She wondered if they would come after her.

Walking cautiously, she crossed the icy plain. As she drew nearer to the knoll, she realised that there was a faint glow emanating from it. This was an entrance to a cave.

Remy! Instinct took over, and she ran towards the light.

"Remy?" He was sitting there, warming his hands by a small fire. Gripping his shoulder, she turned him to face her. She stared into cold unforgiving eyes, drained and empty.

"Nice t'see you, chere." No feeling, no love, no... He moved stiffly, as though he had no control over his body. The gentle, almost feline grace was gone. The man was gone.

"Remy, what's wrong?" guilt flooded over her. He did not answer. Maybe the shock of being left there, maybe the cold... She hoped that Henry would be able to fix it. The storm was getting worse and worse. Then suddenly, the wild howling of the wind slowed, and then stopped. She could hear the faint thrumming of the Blackbird outside.

"C'mon, darlin. We're goin' home."

"Ah don't understand! If nothin's wrong with Remy, then why is he actin' the way he is?"

"Calm down, Rogue! I'm sure that there is an explanation for Gambit's present ...condition." Beast rubbed his forehead, exasperated by Rogue's hysteria and his patient's strange behaviour.

He lay under the white sheets, the only discernable movement the rise and fall of his chest. The handsome features set in a stony mask, lines on his forehead scored by pain. So silent. So still. Rogue covered her face with her hands. Beast stared at her, not knowing what to do or say. Tears dripped through her fingers, staining the brown suede gloves black. Quietly he switched off the light and led her from the room, leaving Gambit alone in the darkness.

Again. Dark night, dark day. Black tears, black heart. And some above it all, pure and white as the arctic snow. The corners of his mouth twitched a little, grimly. And he remembered...

The first taste of abandonment. The shock that jolted him out of his stupor. No more part of the X-Men. No more fighting for a good cause, with good intentions, on the right side. No redemption. No peace! Among the jumbled mass of emotions, remembered howling his pain into the empty, endless arctic. And none to hear.

A bear that had the ill fortune of wandering along his path had saved his life. A single card, glowing with unearthly light, brought it quick death. Fuel for a fire, fur to keep him warm, food to sustain him through the long soulless nights, while he pondered the thing called "love" that had left him to die.

Love? What is love, that takes and takes and never gives anything in return? Bittersweet chocolate. Brief sweetness, melting away like snow.

Snow again. It was freezing, cold, cold, a thousand needles stinging over and over. And the pain was nothing. The dagger in his breast was something else. Rogue...Rogue! Rogue thief, that had stolen his heart. And crushed it, on the account of one mistake that had changed him forever.

After long days and nights of thinking, wondering, on one of the coldest nights the arctic had ever known, his heart had frozen.

And here he was. In the clinical coldness of the medlab, bitter taste in his mouth, light fading away...

"I cannot explain why he fails to respond to any kind of communication, touch or otherwise. It may be, as Dr McCoy has stated, due to shock. The scans show no brain damage, so the problem is probably psychological. A traumatizing experience may have been instrumental in causing the patient's present state."

Jean read the specialist's report, one of many experts they had consulted in an attempt to rouse Gambit from his 'coma'. His condition had had a significant impact on the X-Men. In spite of what he had done, he was still an X-Man. Proof that they had not succeeded in protecting one of their own from harm. They had failed. Miserably.

"Anything?" Scott stepped quietly into the lab, footsteps echoing in the deathly silence. Jean sighed. It was evident from the look on her face that they had hit another dead end.

"Maybe Rogue can do something..." Scott clasped her slender frame to his chest, trying to comfort her. Rogue had constantly been at Gambit's side, leaving only to carry out the most necessary chores. She refused to believe that Gambit might never be the same again. She would continue to search, to seek out a cure, no matter what the price. But in the end...

"We can only hope."

She touched a gloved finger to the side of his face, trailing it down his chin. The other hand reached up to brush the unruly strands of hair away from his eyes. Those eyes tormented her, sometimes closed in a death-like slumber, sometimes open, staring back emptily, as though she was not there. Which was worse, she did not know. Some mourned for the ones they had loved and lost. She mourned for one she had with her still, but was already gone.

Through the weeks, she saw him getting painfully thinner, he was fading away before her eyes. And she could do nothing to stop it. Memories and confessions she had poured out to him in vain. Pictures... happy portraits taken in another lifetime. He did not stir. Did he even hear her when she said that she loved him, or that she was sorry?

"Ah swear Ah'll never give up, Remy. When you wake up, Ah'll be here, waiting."

Long nights and days of grief and guilt had taken their toll on her. Resting her head on his shoulder, she closed her eyes...

Red. The swirling of a blood-red cape in the thick night, falling to the floor in a cascade of liquid fire. From the shoulders of a figure with a bowed head. A pair of silver wings, spreading themselves, shining. An angel... He lifted his head, and took on the features of Remy LeBeau. The same face, yet so different...It was his eyes, their gaze, that leapt out at her like those of a hungry beast. Hungry for revenge. He had come back, an angel of vengeance, demon's eyes that glowed with rage and wings lifting his body to soar over her, clawed hands reaching down to rip the black soul from her body...

"Rogue! You okay, kid?" There was a hand on her shoulder, shaking it. Wolverine's gruff tones tore through the voices of panic in her head. She clutched at him, her green eyes snapped open.

"Ah..Ah'm okay, Logan. Jus' havin' a bad dream."

"I'm worried 'bout ya. Ya need a rest from all this. The Cajun'll be alright. " He stared at her, she was still shaking, there was terror in her eyes.

"C'mon, girl. Get some sleep." He took hold of her hands firmly, and led her back to her room.

The world was filled with screams and shrieks, the floor rough and uneven. He had to get out of this place, it was choking him, eating him alive! Fire and smoke rising up from the floor, ceiling bearing down on him...when would it end? He fumbled with the window, it wouldn't open! Where was the latch? There, but why wouldn't it open? The sound of his own ragged gasps mingled with the mad howling. He shoved his bare arm through the glass, unaware of the pain. Cool night air rushed against his face, stinging his eyes. He punched out the jagged shards hanging from the window frame, then hoisted himself out of the window. His hand slipped from the splintered wood, and he was falling, falling into a dark chasm between the living and dead...

Cyclops awoke to the sound of someone thumping on the door. "Christ, what time is it?" Cyclops mumbled, groping for the light switch. The door was flung open, light from the hallway flooded into the room. Who was that figure at the door? It was Rogue, screaming hysterically at him. He had no idea what she was saying, all he could make out was vague fragments of speech. "Gone... Shoulda been there... what if...hurt?" His first thought was that grief and desperation had, finally pushed her over the edge.

"It's Gambit. He's gone." Jean was out of bed and heading for the wardrobe where their costumes were kept. "All X-Men please report to lab immediately." Cyclops switched off the mike. Jean was already in costume. {I'll meet you there.}

"Oh my stars..."

"What?" Jubilee was beginning to sound more like her normal self again.

Beast pointed at the window. A dark shape plunged to the ground, smoke billowing from behind the curtain of trees. Moments later, tongues of flame shot into the air and there was the unmistakeable boom of an explosion...

Rogue flew towards the plane, watching in horror as Gambit flung the plane door open, and jumped...like a rag doll, his body hurtling towards the ground.

She saw Ororo summon the winds to slow his descent, white hair swirling in their wake. The plane crashed to earth, the sound of tearing metal could not mask the pain-filled shriek that followed a few seconds after. Then silence... deathly silence.

She didn't remember landing or going through the smoke to him. She was already there, lifting him and running from the plane, shielding his body from the blast. Then there was nothing but the heat of the flames and the warm wetness of blood oozing from him.

His arm was twisted awkwardly, the sleeve of his shirt soaked red. He screamed, writhing as she held his shoulder to the ground, trying to stabilise his arm.

His eyes opened and his uninjured hand grabbed her wrist. Wolverine was beside her, pulling her away, speaking gentle, insistent words of command.

"C'mon, Rogue. You gotta give them space ta work."

She let herself be dragged away, sobbing into Logan's shoulder.

"Don't touch the arm!"

"The bleeding won't stop... His pressure's dropping."

Storm wrapped gauze around the open wound, avoiding the slivers of bone that protruded through the flesh.

"Back to the mansion, now! Jean, move!"

"Clear!" Storm pressed the paddles to Gambit's chest, trying to jolt his broken body back to life. They waited tensely for a response...

A squiggle appeared on the screen.

"We have a heartbeat..." They pushed on, into the operating room.

Storm pressed gauze to the wound, trying to stop the bleeding. One white square after another turned red. Beast had hooked up an I.V. to replace some of the blood.

Beast made an incision along the arm, removing the tiny slivers of bone that could not be pieced together. Storm cleaned the wound with antibiotic solution. He carefully fit the fractured bone together.

"Drill." Two holes were bored into the bone, and a metal plate and screws were fitted to hold it together.

The heart monitor whined, the squiggles on the screen turning into a straight line.

"Clear!" His body jerked, but the line remained as flat as before.

"No! We will not lose you..." Storm pressed the paddles to his chest a second time. Still, no response.

Just as Beast had reached to increase the voltage, the whine stopped and was replaced by a strong steady beep, as though Storm's goddess had heard her desperate cry. Leaving her to close the wound, Beast continued on, moving to the leg that had been hurriedly splinted...

The hours that Gambit was in the operating room seemed like an eternity. Numb, she couldn't feel her companions arms when they tried to comfort her, couldn't hear their voices assuring her everything would be all right, couldn't feel any pain...

Then Beast was there," I'm pleased to report, my dear, that Gambit will is out of danger... But he may..."

She flung her arms around him, sobbing in relief and gratitude. The weight lifted from her shoulders and the fog that had enclosed her disappeared. Her spirit soared in utter happiness, above all past grief and sorrow. The world brightened, and everything seemed well once again...

Beast mouthed the words that she didn't hear. "He may never be the same again..."

The shock. The recovery. And the time after that. How every crisis usually went. Strange then how none of them really learned to cope with it. For every X-Man sacrificed in the heat of battle, or to the Legacy Virus, they mourned the loss as if a part of themselves had died. But this...

This was different. None of them could comfort themselves by saying, "It was for a worthy cause." Nor could they direct her anger and hatred to the enemy, because... she was one of them.

Though every heart ached for this loss, the one in agony was Rogue. Though Remy's injuries were on the mend, he remained stiff, silent, unhearing... And soon they would have to face the cruel fact that he might never heal from the emotional blows inflicted in Antarctica.

The most deadly blows are struck without the use of a weapon - and healing is a slow and tedious process, when the wounds lie within.

Ah remember what Sabretooth once told me - love was a knife an' if you held it you'd get cut. Deep. Ah didn't want ta believe him then - Ah was in love with Remy; in love with love. Now . . . now aftah all that has happened, Ah'm not sure that he wasn't right. Seems like Ah'm always cryin' these days, gettin' more an' more outta control. It's b'cause Ah feel so helpless. So powerless ta help him get better. He's beyond mah power ta heal or harm now. If'n Ah could have one wish, it would be foh him ta get better; ta love me again. As I do now... unconditionally.

Therapy, Hank called it. Making the patient carry out normal activities with the others, even when he behaved like an autistic child, lost in a world of his own. So each took turns, sitting beside him in awkward silence. As they stared at the moving pictures on the screen, they tried talking to him, but he remained locked in his own secret thoughts. Despite their efforts, Gambit remained unresponsive, day after day. The silence continued, and their hopes began the slow slide into the darkness of despair...

This day, Rogue's turn was no different. The distraught hero stared out of the screen in anguish - he had lost his lover to an accident. He had given up immortality just to be with her. And now she was gone, as a snowflake that falls softly on a warm hand and melts.

" For one touch of her hand, one kiss from her mouth... I would give eternity."

Gambit stared at the screen, unseeing, uncomprehending. When Rogue stood up, intending to leave before the movie's end... a hand caught her sleeve.

His eyes focused, fixed on hers that were filled tears threatening to spill down here cheeks. For a moment, he said nothing. And then he broke the long silence in a voice rough from disuse, His words echoed the actor's, filled with grief...

"F'r one touch o' ya hand, one kiss from ya mouth, I would give eternity..."

He stood to meet her waiting embrace, feeling the warmth of her hand through the soft leather glove. Palm against palm, heart against heart, they held each other, promises and apologies running through their minds.

::Ah'm sorry::

:: I'm sorry::

::Ah love you, Remy.::

::Never leave me again.::

They did not notice the silent audience at the doorway, and as the last one quietly crept away, the end credits began to roll down the screen. A perfect, precious moment in the dark room, as the song said it all...

I'd give up forever to touch you

'Cause I know that you feel me somehow

You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be

And I don't want to go home right now

And all I can taste is this moment

And all I can breathe is your life

'Cause sooner or later it's over

I just don't want to miss you tonight

And I don't want the world to see me

'Cause I don't think that they'd understand

When everything's made to be broken

I just want you to know who I am

And you can't fight the tears that ain't coming

Or the moment of truth in your lies

When everything feels like the movies

And you bleed just to know you're alive

And I don't want the world to see me

'Cause I don't think that they'd understand

When everything's made to be broken

I just want you to know who I am...

I just want you to know who I am.


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