Down-Home Charm Photo Album Songbank Fan-Fiction History Books Fan Art Miscellania Links
Fan-Fiction >
Alternate Realities

Stories by RogueStar

"Always Coming Home"
Gambit finds his way back to the Mansion ... and asks for a retrial.
"Mending Fences"
Rogue and Gambit both suffer through reminders that neither of them can escape their pasts. (Unfinished.)

"Blowing in the Wind"
In honor of the Gambit Guild's "Gambit Day," RogueStar writes a story of reconciliation and hope for Rogue and Gambit.

"The Briar Patch"
A dark, thorny look at how Rogue might internally view her powers. Takes place after Rogue's emergence from the Siege Perilous.

"Cantique Noel"
A series of holiday-themed stories about personal despair and choices for the future, featuring Siryn, Rogue, Gambit and Marrow.

Christmas 1998
A series of three stories written as a gift for the mailing lists Southern Comfort and Gambit Guild.
"Frankincense" - featuring Gambit and Bebete (the green mist lady)
"Gold" - featuring Cyclops and Phoenix
"Myrrh" - featuring Rogue, Gambit and Nightcrawler

"Demain des l'aube"
Rogue mourns the death of her mother and plans to pass Raven's teachings on to her own unborn child.

"The Eighth Color of the Rainbow"
After his "death" at the end of the Magneto War, Joseph makes one last trip to Salem Center to say a very special goodbye.

"Fallen Skies"
In a pocket universe where Rogue stayed in the service of her foster mother Mystique, Rogue becomes known as the woman who killed Magneto. (Unfinished.)

"For My Daughter"
A woman in Mississippi writes a long-overdue letter to her daughter.

Rogue and Gambit think back to when they once decided to break up for good -- and laugh at their younger selves' naivete. Written in response to the recent X-book writing/editorial decision to break them up.

"The Happiest Night"
Just before Rogue and Remy are set to leave for their honeymoon, Rogue finally reveals the real reasons she's so uneasy about being with him. A response to Rogue and Gambit's rumored break-up in Gambit #16.

"The Horse of Another Color"
Magnus, the Mage, demands a tithe from a small town every month. This time, he wants the townspeople to deliver Rogue as his tribute, or else find for him the mythical horse of a different color. (Unfinished. In revision.)
"The Sword and the Rose"
Sabrina and Remy LeBeau settle into their new roles as husband and wife as they train and prepare to defend themselves in a world that has become even more uncertain. (Unfinished.)

"I Am"
Rogue asks Gambit to accept the real her. A response to "All's Fair..." by R.V. Bemis.

"Indian Summer"
Rogue and Gambit make their piece and decide to get back together. In response to Gambit #16.

"The Intolerable"
In a different world, Mystique had early ties to the Thieves Guild and sent Rogue to New Orleans to study the arts of thievery.

Gambit offers Jean a small comfort as she grieves over Cyclops' apparent death. Inspired by UXM #386.

"Last Dance"
As Rogue lay dying, probably of the Legacy Virus, Gambit fulfills her final wish: one last dance.

"The Magician and the Butterfly"
Sabine Robbins leaves her settled life with Cody as a farmer's wife and runs away with a circus magician. Told from mulitple perspectives.

"A Matter of Pryde"
When Soldier Alpha escapes the project and joins the rebels, it is up to a Black Striper to bring her to justice. Unfinished.

"Miss American Pie"
Rogue stares at her reflection in the mirror and evaluates what she is -- and isn't. X-Men: Evolution universe.

"The Queen and the Hunter"
Barely more than a child when she married Magnus, Rogue quietly defers to her husband, then feels the urge to rebel. Age of Apocalypse.

"Return to the Rooftop"
As they settle into their new roles as leaders of the X-Men, Rogue and Gambit try to settle into another role as well: platonic friends.

"Sek, Lies and Videotape"
(with Keri Wilson)
After their wedding, Rogue and Gambit record a farewell message of sorts for Sehkmet Conoway. Sillyfic.

Sim Salem Project
An ongoing series of stories in which Rogue and Gambit are living a happy suburban life with their precocious son, Luc.
• "Confiteor"
• "The Cherry Cookie Incident"
• "The Sphinx's Question"
• "Gotta Learn Them All"
• "Happy Anniversary!"
• "Home Nursing"
• "Saturday Morning in Salem Center"
• "The Cabbage Patch"

"Smoke and Mirrors"
Centering on the relationship between Rogue and Remy and on the growing human intolerance of mutants, this story begins (in terms of "normal" continuity) just before Bishop joins the team and ends just after LegionQuest.

(With Alexis)
When Mercy LeBeau comes to deliver some news to Gambit, she falls in lust with Iceman and chaos ensues. (Unfinished.)

After coming back home to the X-Mansion, many of the X-Men, including Rogue and Colossus, try to make peace with the ghosts in their lives. (Unfinished.)

(With Faith Barnett)
Just after the Trial of UXM 350, the various X-Men try to get on with their lives. (Unfinished.)

"A Walk in the Woods"
Banished to the woods after her disastrous encounter with Cody, Rogue is suspicious when she meets a beautiful woman who wants to take care of her.

"A Window to Her Soul"
Colossus awakens and finds inspiration in Rogue's sleeping form.

elsewhere in Alykat's World:

"The Morning Paper"
Hank and Bobby miss seeing their favorite comic strip in the Sunday paper. A tribute to Peanuts creator Charles Schulz.
(at (un)frozen and Stars & Garters)


Web sites: textualchemy, RogueStar's Galaxy, Caldecott, Doctor in the House

The Intolerable

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.
~ T.S. Eliot (Little Gidding IV, vs II)

5 June 1959
Paris, France

"A kiss for luck, cherie?" Jean-Luc leBeau smiled at Raven Darkholme as they stood outside the Parisian Residence of Michel Valois.

Opulent to the point of sybaritism, the double-storied villa stood in one of the oldest districts of Paris -- a quartier renowned for its low crime-rate and high rent. Despite the deprivations of the Second World War and the resultant depression, the pace of life continued unchanged here. It was like stepping into a time-warp and going back to the fey days before the Great War, where the entire world had waited, watched and feared.

The quartier was sullied with a sense of unreality, of foreboding, almost as if their anachronistic gaiety would be detected by a universal auditor and corrected. Jean-Luc leBeau, always sensitive to the underlying mood, had tried to alleviate the pressure by cracking a joke.

Like good Queen Victoria, Raven was not amused. A serious woman by nature, she believed that work and pleasure should remain strictly separate. She had surprised him -- surprised herself -- when she told him that she wanted to be more than partners. Jean-Luc blamed her coldness on the oppressive air, on nerves.

"Do you remember our plan, Jean?"

"Oui," he made a face, "Ya make sure dat Monsieur Valois doesn't disturb me while I appropriate de diamonds."

As if I'd f'rget ya schemes, chere...

Raven nodded at him in approval, "Excellent."

They had been hired by a notorious dealer in stolen jewels -- Claude Darceneaux -- to relieve Michel Valois of some ancestral diamonds, commonly known as the Stars of Africa. The jewels were said to be housed inside a safe hidden beneath the floor in the Conservatory.

All went according to plan at first. Jean-Luc infiltrated the house with ease -- old money relied too much on the honesty of people -- and found the Conservatory. Moonlight streamed through the large glass windows, illuminating the scene. In one corner, a baby Grand stood, music spread on its mirror-like surface. Droopy ferns decorated the room, contrasting strangely with the rich oil portraits.

Jean-Luc dropped to his knees and knocked softly on the floorboards, listening to the answering sound. Eventually, after many patient attempts, one reverberated hollowly and he grinned.


Removing a slender knife from his tool-kit, he prized up the yellow-wood panel, revealing a strongbox beneath it. Scornfully, unable to believe his luck, he examined it. It was heavy, square and made of iron, but its lock was a simple one. He extracted a lockpick and inserted it delicately. One by one, he felt the tumblers click into place and the lid opened.

"Yes!" he whispered as he removed the small, velvet pouch. Grinning in triumph, he replaced the Stars of Africa with fake gems of cut glass. If the switch was not effected, the theft would be discovered and the gems would be worthless -- too hot to sell with ease.

"Yes, indeed," Raven stepped through the door, a strange expression on her vivid face, pointing a deadly-looking pistol in his direction. Her ivory hand was poised on the trigger.

Jean-Luc looked at his lover. Her cinnamon-brown eyes were triumphant beneath her mop of coppery hair and her lips were curled in an unpleasant smirk.

Is dis a double-cross?

"Hand them over, Jean."

"Raven? What de hell are ya doin'?" he hissed, "Claude Darceneaux'll kill us if we don' have his gems."

She laughed, and Jean-Luc stepped back in horror. Her face writhed and twisted, becoming something completely different, becoming Claude Darceneaux. She ... no, he placed his hands on his hips. A ripple passed over her skin, and Raven once more stood before him.

Blessed Mary, full of grace, savior of the human race...

"What are ya?"

"The woman who out conned you," she held out a hand, not lowering the gun for a second, "Hand them over."

Dere was no job. She used m'love f'r her t'acquire de gems.

Reluctantly, he dropped the pouch into her palm, then stepped back, horror written on each feature. Raven's leer grew wider and she slipped the gems into her pocket, backing slowly away from him. The street-lights and the moon leant her a silver aura. Her copper hair glowed around her, shimmering in waves of bronze and gold.

"Au revoir, cheri," she blew him a mocking kiss, "Je t'aime."

With that gesture, she was lost to the humid, Parisian night, to the heavy moonlight. Jean-Luc waited until she had disappeared from sight then removed the real gems from the pocket of his trench-coat. They shone in the ghostly brightness, like the tears on his cheeks.

6 January, 1987
French Quarter, New Orleans

The cold scythed through the layers of clothes which the pedestrians wore, making red their noses and blue the tips of the fingers. An icy rain fell on the city; hard, sharp and merciless; promising to turn into a flurry. New Orleans in winter was milder than its Northern counterparts in the United States, but still frosty enough to keep most people indoors.

The young thief stamped his feet like a restless horse, trying to keep warm. His hands, wrapped in woolen gloves, were shoved deeply in the pockets of his trenchcoats. At seventeen, he was impatient, yet cautious enough to curb his impulses.

'Parfait,' he whispered, as he saw a middle-aged woman rounding the corner. Her 'Big Easy' sweatshirt and camera marked her as one of the phalanx of tourists which descended on the city from time to time.

Removing his Saints cap and running a hand through his russet hair, he walked up to her and flashed her his most charming grin.

"C'n I help ya, Mademoiselle?"

She smiled gratefully at him, "You're so kind! I knew the natives were so friendly, but I never imagined ... This city is wonderful! You're fortunate to live here! This town really knows how to..."

She's gon' say Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler. Dey always do.

"Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler," she finished, looking pink and flustered, "Anyway, I was wondering whether you could direct me to a decent eatery."

"Mais oui," he nodded his head vigorously, putting on his most ingenuous look, "Go down dis street an' take de first alley on ya left, den de second one on ya right. Be one o' N'Awlins best-kept secrets."

"Thank you," she gushed, "I must give you something for your trouble."

Dieudedieudedieu. She can't be lookin' in her purse.

He doubled the voltage of his smile, "Helpin' ya be reward enough f'r dis poor Cajun boy."

Dey always fall f'r de poor Cajun boy line.

"Thank you," she looked pathetically grateful and the boy suppressed an urge to laugh, "I won't forget your kindness."

Oui. I'm sure ya won', mademoiselle.

Waiting for her to disappear into the alleyway, the boy sprinted into the dark lane that led between the two houses. In the distance, he could hear the sound of the tourist calling for the police. Evidently, the local fishmonger was not exactly her idea of fine eating. Her wallet was thick in his hand and he grinned with sheer pleasure. It was an almost perfect pinch -- 'Vitemain' LeBeau, his pickpocketing tutor, would have been proud of him.

He discarded the Saints cap and parka that he had been wearing, throwing them into the backpack, that he had left in this side street for just this purpose. Pulling a chartreuse sweater over his head, he whistled his way to the Thieves' Guild.

As he was approaching the tall, elegant building in the heart of the Vieux Carre, he heard the sounds of a struggle emanating from the end of the road. Dropping his backpack and removing a slender knife from the recesses of his shirt, he went to investigate.

Three burly men were forcibly escorting a woman into the abandoned building at the corner of the road. He recognized their leader as Antoine Lenoir; a swart, unpleasant youth whose clan was loyal to the Assassins. The other two brutes, while unfamiliar to him, were cut out of the same cloth as any flunkey -- a species uniquely lacking in personality.

Must do somet'ing 'bout dis saloperie (mess).

He entered the house, knowing that he would regret his actions, and called: "Hey, assassin-trash? I know ya'd prefer t'ief blood t'de blood of de femme."

The three men turned on him with matching looks of disgust, letting the girl drop to the floor. Their leader smirked as he saw the young thief standing there, his knife blue-silver in the light.

Gone an' done it now.

"If it isn't le Diable Blanc (the white devil)," Antoine leered, encouraged by the snickers of his minions, "I wonder if freaks bleed de same color as de rest of us. Should we find out, mes braves? (guys)"

"Let's not," the girl said coolly, as she performed a neat, roundhouse kick to the back of Lenoir's head. The assassin fell to the floor with a muffled oath, clasping the rear of his skull. Blood seeped out through his fingers, staining them red.

"Get dat salope (shrew)," he hissed, pointing to the girl.

"Mon ami," the thief grinned as he decked one of the flunkies with an uppercut, "Ya orders not be too good t'day."

The second lackey, having profited by the example of the first, required no encouragement to turn tail and flee. The girl laughed; her eyes brilliant, her cheeks flushed; and held out her hand. "Thanks."

"Je vous en prie," he shook hands, "Though it didn' seem ya needed m'help."

"Hon," she lifted an eyebrow, "Ah always take help where Ah can get it."

"What was deir beef wit' ya, chere?"

"Don' know," she shrugged, "Went up ta them an' asked them where Ah could find Monsieur leBeau's house."

The boy laughed as they exited the building, "Dere was ya fatal mistake, belle. Dose cap-caps (white trash) be Assassins, sworn enemies of m'kin. Dey'd kill ya soon as look at ya."

"Gawd," the girl wrinkled her nose, "A family feud. Thought those went outta style with the Middle Ages."

She was pretty in her own way -- a slip of a girl with solemn, green eyes and unusual, white-streaked hair. Her athletic figure was complemented by the spandex leggings and bulky sweater that she wore.

"C'est vrai, chere," he explained apologetically, "No-one knows how it got started, but it be commonly believed dat it occurred when Marc Bordeaux stole Chantelle Thibert's heart away -- she was t'be married t'Andrieu leBeau. Dey claimed it was le coup de foudre (love at first sight) but family honor had been wounded an' only blood would salve it. Didn't help matters none that Marc Bordeaux was a telepath, known f'r using his powers in less dan honest ways."

"Gawd," she repeated, "If'n people had ta die, ya'd think it would be foh somethin' better'n love."

"Not much dat is better, chere," he said quietly.

Her eyes were instantly sympathetic, almost as if she sensed his pain,"Did Ah step on a nerve, hon?"

"Naah," he waved it away with a hand, quickly changing the subject, "Why are ya lookin' f'r de leBeaus?"

"Mah guardian, Ms Darkholme, asked Monsieur leBeau if he could tutor me in . . . " she paused, her expression as secretive as a budding rose, " Uh . . .certain areas. Apparently they're close friends from way back when. Can ya show me where they live?"

"Goin' dere m'self, belle," he grinned, "Ya be welcome t'tag along."

"Thanks," she picked up her heavy duffel bag from where it had fallen in the skirmish, hefting it over her shoulder with little difficulty, "Let's go."

Hope dis isn't a honeytrap.

3 December 1986
Thieves' Guild Headquarters, New Orleans

Jean-Luc leBeau stared at the receiver, tapping his fingers against the desk. The phone-call he had received was most irregular. Most unexpected. Most audacious.

So Raven wants me t'teach her fifteen year-old protegee de arts of t'ievery? Guess I can't refuse, even if it is jus' f'r de sake o' what happened between us in Paris.

Moonlight picnics. Walks in the dark streets. Intimate tete-a-tetes in cafes. The pinch and thrill of a lifetime. The sharpness of love betrayed. He scowled and pushed the thought out of his mind. The child should not suffer for the sins of her guardian. Besides, he would be true to their broken-winged love, even if Raven had not been.

Be company f'r Remy as well. Mebbe a fille will even have a civilizing influence on him.

He thought with fondness of his seventeen year-old son. Remy had come into his life six years ago -- an underfed, scruffy urchin that the French would have called un gamin. How things had changed! The sullenness had been replaced with a salesman's charm and, although his son remained slender, the gangliness had been sublimated by grace. The boy was still impulsive though and his cousin, Lapin, a notorious firebrand, was not helping matters by encouraging him in his feats of daredevilry. Fortunately, Remy was blessed with preternatural agility that had saved his life more than once. Nevertheless, Jean-Luc's hair was considerably more gray than it had been seven years ago. He grinned with wry humor, thinking, Oui, a fille could be a very good t'ing indeed.

6 January 1987
Thieves' Guild HQ, New Orleans

The girl sat on the high-backed chair, nervously tapping her heel against the floor. The opulence of the office surprised her -- she would have thought that Jean-Luc leBeau's study would have been dingier, darker. Thick, blue curtains were drawn against the cold while a cosy log-fire burned in one corner of the room. She picked up the gold paperweight from the desk and tossed it from hand to another. The clock chimed the hour, then the door opened. A small, wiry man with hair the color of a fox smiled at her, as she stood to greet him. His blue eyes were shrewd sapphires in his bronzed face and his clothes were elegantly expensive without being ostentatious.

"Bonjour, mademoiselle. Je m'appelle Jean-Luc leBeau. Comment vas-tu?"
(Good day, Miss. My name is Jean-Luc leBeau. How are you?)

The girl cleared her throat, "Fine, sir. Ms Darkholme sent me."

"Raven's protegee. Good," he took a seat opposite her at the desk, "What am I t'call ya, 'tite?"

"Rogue'll do, suh."

"Unique name," he commented, "Ya c'n call me Jean-Luc though, belle."

"Fine," Rogue nodded her head, "When can we get started?"

"Patience, belle," he laughed, lighting a cigarette, "Ya aren't even moved in yet. Find a room an' den we c'n talk 'bout tutoring."

She paused, familiar with the stalling tactics of adults but wondering whether to press the issue. Her straight-forwardness won the contest. "Suh, can Ah at least meet mah tutors?"

"All in good time, ma chere enfante," he stood, a grin on his face as he walked towards the door, "I'll get m'son, Remy, t'show ya around, Rogue. He be conveniently listenin' right outside de door."

Jean-Luc leBeau pulled the door open to reveal the same boy as earlier. The young man looked highly embarrassed at being discovered. His red-and-black eyes were effulgent in his handsome face, while his lips essayed a cocky smile.

"Pere! Pardons-moi -- I t'ought I heard ya call me."

Quite a looker with th' charm ta match.

His father shook his head in mock disapproval, "Remy, Rogue. Rogue, m'son, who is betrayin' his lack o' social graces."

"Ah'm glad foh that, suh," she said honestly, "Most gentlemen wouldn't have come ta mah rescue foh fear o' ruinin' their pedicures."

Jean-Luc looked concerned, "Ya were attacked, belle?"

"Yeah," she confirmed, remembering the incident of earlier, "Ah was lost an' Ah thought ta ask th' way ta your house. Seems that Ah chose th' wrong people ta ask directions from though, 'cause they began escorting me forcibly inta th' nearest abandoned building. Ah went along with them, because Ah didn't want ta cause a scene on the streets when Ah took 'em down. Ah didn't want th' police asking uncomfortable questions... Guess it's something Ah picked up from Raven."

The man turned to his son, "Who was it, Remy?"

"Antoine Lenoir an' his two assassin goons," the boy replied, "Ya t'ink de feud has flared up again, pere?"

"Non, Remy. I'm sure of it," Jean-Luc's face grew serious, "Dieu. Dis could be bad news f'r de Guilds. I must consult de Council."

In a show of forced jollity, as transparent as glass, he grinned at her, "Not'ing t'rouble yaself about, belle. Jus' a few hotheaded fools who like t'shoot deir mouths off. Remy'll show ya to ya room -- I'm sure ya be exhausted."

Rogue was not convinced, but followed the young man out of the room, one urgent thought at the forefront of her mind.

Gawd. What have Ah walked inta this time?

8 January 1987
Thieves' Guild Training Hall
New Orleans

"Damn," Rogue swore vehemently as the lockpick slid uselessly out of the safe's keyhole again, "Damndamndamn."

She paused to push back her unruly hair, staring at the tool in her hand. Thin and hooked slightly at one end, it was difficult to manipulate effectively and, more often than not, her best efforts were unsuccessful.

"Rogue? You havin' problems?" the grizzled Canuck, who was her lock-picking tutor, asked, "Concentrate, girl -- this is an easy lock."

Where is Remy?

Atypically, he was late for their joint lesson; a fact which Girard Renault had commented upon earlier. While he was irresponsible, she had never known him to be tardy in the few days of their acquaintance.

Almost as if on cue, the door swung open and Remy entered, touting his enormous backpack. His auburn hair was mussed and a thin sheen of sweat covered his face.

"Sorry'm'late," he mumbled, "I was wit' Lapin an' lost track of time."

Smilingly, Girard rebuked him in thick Canuckois -- "Jeune cafard -- tu es en retard. Aides la fille. (Young cockroach -- you are late! Help the girl!)"

Remy grinned at Rogue, coming to squat next to her. He smelt of exotic, expensive perfume and she wondered with a twinge of half-understood jealousy where he had been. He removed his own finer tools from his pocket in preparation.

"Dis be a simple 'nough task," he told her, "Ya jus' need t'click de tumblers int' position an' ya be sittin' pretty."

"Thanks foh th' lecture," she drawled sarcastically, "Lahke Ah haven't been tryin' ta do that foh th' last hour while ya an' your cousin were chasin' skirts."

What is she like? Is she as lovely and rare as her scent? A tall, elegant lady who knows th' right things ta say; who is charmin' an' refined; who cooks an' sews; who isn't me. Ah'm a good soldier, a mercenary, a killer-cold-as-steel-and-hard-as-iron. Love is for the weak an' feeble. Love is only useful as long as it serves ya purpose. Raven taught me that, yet...

He laughed, removing a tool of similar design to her one and some oil, "Jealous, chere?"

Yet there is a part o' me wishin' that it was mah perfume that Ah smelt on ya.

"O' th' fact that ya missed half o' th' lesson ta have some fun?" she said, deliberately misconstruing his words, "Not at all."

He paused to oil the lock delicately, then inserted his lockpick. "Come 'ere, belle," he told her, "An' I'll show ya how t'crack dis sucker."

Rogue crawled closer to the lock, and he put her hand on the slender tool. Shifting position so that he was more comfortable, he placed his hand over hers, ensuring that the hollow of his elbow fitted into the sharp angle of her one. His breath was warm against the back of her neck, ruffling the strands of her hair.

Oh gawd.

"Now," he continued, "Ya feel around until ya find de tumblers et . . . ."

He's so close an' ... Stop it! Love is foh th' weak an' ya are strong. Concentrate on th' lock.

Under his skilled guidance, the three clicks came in quick succession. The door sprang open, revealing an empty interior.

"Ya'd t'ink after all dat work, dere'd be somet'ing inside," he quipped, releasing her, "I remember how disappointed I was de first time I opened it."

"How old were ya?" she asked, curiously aware of where his hand had been. His touch surrounded her wrist, like a bracelet of fire.

Love. Is. Foh. Th'. Weak.

"Eleven," he replied, "But I'd been t'ievin' since I was about four..."

"That's enough for one day, enfants," Girard Renault, the old Franco-American, interrupted, "I have a council meetin' to attend so I'll see you two the same time tomorrow? Be punctual this time, jeune leBeau."

Remy favored him with his most charming smile, "I will be, monsieur Renault."

Man could charm a golden egg outta gander.

Once their tutor had left the room, he turned to Rogue, a secretive look in his alien eyes. The open charm had disappeared from his face, leaving a more subtle, attractive one in its wake.

"D'ya want t'know where I was earlier?"

"No," she told him bluntly, folding her arms, "Ya ... ya conquests don't interest me."

Remy laughed, pulling his backpack to him, "I was shoppin'."

"Foh what? Blondes? Red-heads?"

"Non, f'r a brunette."

Remy unzipped one of the side compartments and began rummaging within it. Eventually, he removed a small package. It was wrapped in silver paper and decorated with brilliant, royal-blue ribbons.

"F'r ya," he smiled as he handed it to her, "Dere be an old tradition in our house dat every guest gets a gift. Call it Southern hospitality."

A brunette. Me?

"Thanks, hon," she hugged him briefly and stiffly, once more painfully aware of his touch and his arms encircling her waist. The sweet scent of the perfume overwhelmed her again, so she released him, knowing that he was someone else's to hold.

He must love her whoever she is. He's just bein' polite ta th' new kid.

"Open it."

Rogue untied the ribbon carefully, then proceeded to slit the paper with the knife that she constantly wore at her waist. A slender, golden box remained and she stared at it in open amazement.


The bitter irony of her earlier thought came back to her. In a sense, it was her perfume that she had smelt on him. Having no better guinea-pig, he evidently had sprayed himself with it. Remy must have taken her surprise for dislike, because he instantly apologized.

"Ya don't like it," he grimaced, "I'll take it back an' exchange it f'r somet'ing different. Mebbe a nice set o' throwin' daggers or a decent set o' lockpicks?"

Yes. Ah'm a soldier -- all o' those things would be better -- more useful -- than this...

A stubborn part of her rebelled against her teaching. Why should she not have something beautiful? Something that served no concrete purpose? Something as lovely and fleeting as the sunrise? It was that part of her soul that replied.

"No. It's perfect ... just perfect."

10 January 1987
Rue d'Ursuline, New Orleans

The assassin pulled her cloak around herself, shivering in the cold, morning air. The council had received word from a mole in the Thieves' Guild to meet him there. He said that he had important information. Marius Bordeaux, never a trusting man at the best of times, had sent the one person upon whom he knew he could depend -- his daughter, Belladonna.

Bon sang, where is dat idiote?

She heard a high-pitched whistle and she turned around like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. Belladonna felt the dagger before she saw it, then felt nothing more.

11 January 1987
New Orleans

"Hey, hon!!!"

Rogue waved at Remy as she saw him cross the street. He was whistling to himself, a smug look in his demonic eyes, and swinging his omnipresent rucksack. It looked heavier than before -- the day had obviously been kind to him. His eyes widened in surprise as he saw her.

"I t'ought ya'd be cloistered wit' ol' Poignard, chere."

"Yeah," she replied, as he sat down next to her on the steps of the Guild Hall, "But he was called away on an urgent council meeting an' he dismissed me early."

He looked at the floor, worry written on his handsome face.

"Dat can't be good news, belle. A full council meeting always spells trouble f'r de clans."

"Ah know," she said simply, "It could be war this time."

He turned to look at her and she searched his face for some kind of reassurance. Any that she found was hollow. Eventually, he said lamely: "It's never come to dat before..."

11 January 1987
Assassin's Council Chamber

"Dis means war!" Marius Bordeaux's face was purple; the veins on his temple stood out in sharp relief. His red-rimmed eyes betrayed his lack of sleep and his abundance of tears.

"Dose trashy t'ieves have gone too far."

His son, Julien, looked sympathetically at him and poured him a glass of water. The leader of the Assassin's Guild took it gratefully, draining it.

He was calmer when he spoke again:

"If we let dem get away wit' murdering our children, dey won' stop. Our entire clan would be wiped out in a single generation. We can't allow it to happen. Retaliation is our only option. We attack in a week's time."

An' heaven help us all

12 January 1987
McDonald's, New Orleans

Lapin scooped up the last few fragments of ice-cream with his plastic spoon and licked it. That task complete, he turned his attention on his younger cousin. Remy was stirring his Coca-Cola with his straw, absently watching the ice melt.

"I'm sorry t'hear about Belle," Lapin said after a long pause.

"Hmmm?" Remy lifted a quizzical eyebrow, "Oui, it be a pity. We used t'be close, but after de feud flared up again, I didn' see her again."

"Say," he lowered his voice, "Ya don' t'ink dat dat Rogue-femme has anyt'ing t'do wit' Belle's death? It's suspicious dat it happened so soon after she arrived in N'Awlins."

His younger cousin's eyes flashed angrily, "Non. She'd never do anyt'ing like dat."

"I'm not sure m'self," Lapin put on the air of a skeptic, "Poignard's always on about how skilled she is wit' daggers. Hits de bullseye nine times out of ten."

leBeau was disgusted, "Ya sound like a vielle dame (old woman), Lap. Fammes ta guele. (shut up!)"

The older man grinned, "I t'ink ya have more dan a professional interest in our Rogue. Love be blind when ya have t'see ya paramour as a murderess..."

Remy silently stood, dropping two dollars onto the table to cover his portion of the bill.

His voice was low and furious when he spoke: "Elle ne l'a pas fait. (she did not do it)"

"Whatever ya say," Lapin shrugged, still smiling stupidly, "May I finish ya Coke, padnat (buddy)?"

13 January 1987
Cimetaire des Assassins, New Orleans

"Ashes to ash, dust to dust."

Marius placed his arm around his teenage son and drew him close, as he listened to the old priest intone the burial rites. His eyes were dry and a steely resolve was reflected in their depths. His tears had given way to a colder, more cleansing anger.

"The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

The body was carried into the crypt by four, burly assassins dressed in black velvet. At their head, Sarabeth O'Connor, Marius's niece, sprinkled white rose petals, sniffling as she did so. Marius looked compassionately at the girl -- she had been Belladonna's confidant and was feeling the loss as keenly as he was.

"Dose t'ieves will pay, pere," Julien whispered.

"Hush, Tijules," he said hurriedly, "Dis is a place of peace."

Mebbe de last we'll know f'r weeks if fightin' breaks out again.

His son stared ahead moodily, his eyebrows drawn together in an angry line. Marius Bordeaux's heart broke within him again and fresh tears spilled down his cheeks, because feared -- and knew -- that he would lose more than one child before this conflict was done.

13 January 1987
Training Hall, Thieves' Guild
New Orleans

The knife-blade shone blue-steel in the harsh, neon light. Rogue weighed it with an expert hand, judging its balance. Perfect. An Oriental piece by the feel of it. The target stood a few feet away -- alternating black-and-white rings that surrounded a red circle. Lips pursed in concentration, she threw the dagger and it embedded itself in the heart of the target. Poignard, the old weapon's-master at the Guild of Thieves, came forward, clapping his hands.

"Tres bien, petite. Ya be more'n a match f'r any assassin unfortunate enough t'cross ya way."

"Thanks, suh."

She sneaked a glance at Remy. He was scowling as he practised with a quarter-staff, hitting a dummy repeatedly before dodging as it swung back. He had the graceful fluidity of a natural athlete -- his form with the weapon was impeccable.

"Here, chere," Poignard grinned, as he handed her a quarterstaff of her own, "Give ya a valid reason t'watch de boy."

"Ah..." she stammered, a hot blush spreading up her cheeks.

"LeBeau, get ya tail here," he called, "Time f'r some sparrin'."

Remy crossed the room, wiping the beads of sweat off his forehead. He was dressed in a baggy shirt and trackpants. He smiled wolfishly at the older man.

"Oui, Poignard?"

"Let's see how much ya two have learnt," he said, "Un. Deux. Trois. (One, Two, Three.)"

The ferocity of Remy's attack surprised Rogue. She lifted her staff just in time to avoid him connecting with her head. Spinning around, she attempted a blow of her own, but he easily blocked it and retaliated with a low swipe. She jumped his staff, landing squarely on the floor and lashing out with a swing of her own. He danced away and tagged her squarely on the back.

"Ya left yaself open f'r dat one, fille!" Poignard jeered, "Nice shot, Remy."

Ah'll wipe that smirk offa his face.

Their staffs clattered together. Sensing that he had left himself open for an attack on the left, Rogue lunged in that direction. leBeau dodged to the right and hit her in the ribs.

"Good gambit, Remy."

Ah'm gonna get him.

Suddenly, the door to the Training Hall opened and a slender man walked into the room. Poignard raised his hand to stop their match. Rogue recognized him as Pierre leBeau -- one of Remy's innumerable cousins and a council member. "We need ya, Poignard. De worst has happened."

14 January 1987
Vieux Carre, New Orleans

"It be war," Remy whispered to himself as he looked at the streets.

To the casual tourist, the streets of the French Quarter would have seemed unnaturally quiet, like the vibrant town had taken a siesta. Remy, attuned to the subtle undercurrents, knew that this was not the case. The atmosphere was thick with tension. Awash with fear, expectancy and anger, the air moved like a sluggish river, permeating the stones of the buildings and the souls of the people.

"Maybe it won't come ta that," Rogue suggested, "Maybe they'll find a peaceable way ta solve their problems."

She was curled up next to him on the window-seat, sharpening a wicked-looking knife with a whetstone. The tip of her tongue stuck out of her mouth in a tiny pink point as she concentrated her attention on her task.

"I doubt it, chere."

"Yeah, so do Ah. Who was this Belladonna?"

Remy turned to look at her, suppressing the doubt that rose up in his chest.

She be good wit' daggers ... Jus' like de one dat killed Bella. Poignard even said it -- 'ya be more dan a match f'r any assassin'.

"De heir apparent t'de Assassin's Guild."

"Did ya know her, sugah?"

A girl with a sunny smile and golden hair. Her intriguing, violet eyes as she looked at him., beckoned and ran into the garden. Mon soleil, he had called her, my sunshine. They had been twelve at the time. The peace between Assassin and Thief seemed to be cemented, since their two councils had met and exchanged gifts. Unfortunately, the promises made in the First Convention of the Guilds had crumbled under the rigors of ancient hatred. One could change the official policy, without changing the status quo. Once the street-fighting began again, the two children were forbidden to see each other. They never thought to question their parents' ruling, or, if they did, never acted upon their doubts. Mon soleil had been eclipsed by the mightier force of tradition and hatred.

"We used t'be friends."

"Ah'm sorry," she replaced the dagger in its sheath, putting it on the table beside her.

"Oui," Remy shrugged, moving instinctively closer to her, "Hope I don' lose anymore o' m'nearest an' dearest."

She placed her hand in his, resting her head on his shoulder. Tentatively, he encircled her with his free arm, feeling the gentle curve where waist swelled to hip.

"Family means a lot ta y'all," she said at last, "Ah mean, ta ya an' ya clan."

"As I said, chere, love be de only t'ing worth dyin' for," his voice was low, "Be it romantic or filial."

The tension swelled, becoming unbearable, filling the spaces in their conversation, straining the seams of politeness.

"Ah think Ah'm startin' ta understan' what ya mean, hon," Rogue replied, expectancy coloring her features.

Maybe I'll regret dis t'morrow, but it be better dan certain regret 'bout not doin' it.

Cupping her cheek with a hand, he leant over and kissed her squarely on the mouth. She smelt of soap and flowers -- a fresh fragrance that leant the moment innocence. Rogue started, eyes wide with surprise, but placed her arms around his neck. A loose strand of white hair tickled his cheek, bringing with it the rich scent of apple shampoo.

She broke the contact, touching her lips with a nervous hand, laughing uneasily. The moment hung between them in tenuous perfection, needing nothing else to make it complete. Yet, nature could not hold it and it became absurd.

"I'm sorry ... I shouldn't have done dat," Remy muttered, fidgeting with his gloves.

But I'm not an' I should have.

Smiling mischievously, Rogue kissed him, and the moment regained some of its symmetry.

"Now we're even, leBeau," she teased, challenging him to make the next move.

"I t'ink dat..." he stopped, horrified, "Dieudedieudedieu..."

Remy released her, pressing both palms and nose to the glass in order to see more clearly. On the streets, two figures were dragging a third limp one into the Guild Hall. A smear of red marked his painful passage, and he did not appear to be breathing.

"What's wrong?" she reached for the dagger on the table, and came to kneel next to him.

"C'est Denis (It's Denis)," Remy murmured, "Il est mort (He is dead)."

14 January 1987
Cimetaire des Assassins, New Orleans

Sarabeth O'Connor reverently placed the knife in front of the Bordeaux's crypt. Made of expensive creamy marble, the family crest was carved into the heavy door. A well-tended flowerbed, filled with roses, bordered the tomb on both sides. On top of the crypt, a beautiful seraph stretched her six wings to heaven, holding up her hands to the sun.

Dressed in green velvet, Sarabeth's pale-gray eyes were filled with tears. Her curly, auburn hair shone like fire against her ghost-pale skin. "I did it, Bella," she choked, "I killed one of th' leBeaus f'r ye, lass."

As a tribute, the blade seemed incongruous among the wreaths and bouquets that littered the tomb. Sniffling slightly, she plucked some hardy flowers from the garden and arranged them around the bundle, framing it. Lovingly, she stroked the icy gold of the plaque that marked Belladonna's burial, reading the words: 'Too soon was she taken from us. Too soon was our sun dimmed.'

15 January 1987
Street outside Vitemain leBeau's home, New Orleans

Rogue pulled her thick jacket tighter around herself as she made her way along the street. Her breath misted in the cold evening air and the icy rain of a few days ago had gone to flurries.

Almost there, sugah. she encouraged herself, feeling in her pocket to check that the letter was still there.

Jean-Luc leBeau had given it to her to deliver to his brother, Vitemain, telling her that it was a matter of vital importance. He had thought that the assassins would not recognize her and therefore perhaps let her pass unhindered.

She stopped before a graceful house, whose antebellum architecture harked back to older, more glamorous days. The single lamp burning by the door cast a pool of light over the doorstep. Shivering, she knocked on the mahogany door.

Presently, it opened a fraction and a buxom brunette peered out through the crack. Her dark eyes were frightened with the abject terror of the ignorant.

"Si, senorita? (Yes, miss?)"

"Ah've got a message for Vitemain, from Jean-Luc."

"Wait. "

Without a further word of explanation, the door slammed shut. Through the thick wood, Rogue heard muffled voices, arguing and pleading by turn.

"...Killed Belladonna. Her fault ... war ... assassins."

"Jean-Luc ... know..."

"...Be set-up ... chica ... working ... Eternal..."

"...If is ... be ... pleasure ... killing ... fille..."

Rogue leaned against the wall, breathing heavily. Her knees wobbled beneath her and she was scared that they would fail her. Horrified understanding blossomed in her chest.

They think Ah did it. They think Ah killed Belladonna.

The door swung open again and a wiry man exited. His thick, red-hair extended onto his cheeks in two sideburns, framing a hawk-like nose and wintery eyes. He smiled at her, thin lips quirking upwards.

"Ya be Rogue. Jean-Luc has told me all about ya."

"Yeah," she nodded her head, "He sent me ta give you this." She rummaged in her pocket for the letter, noticing the wariness on his features. Vitemain LeBeau looked like he wanted to bolt.

Does he think Ah'm gonna pull a gun on him?

Favoring him with an ingenuous smile, learnt from Remy, she handed him the crumpled piece of paper. Not taking his left eye off her for a second, leBeau scanned the paper with his right one, before placing it in his pocket.

"Ya know what dis paper says, chere?" he said at length, fixing her gaze with his, "It says dat anotha t'ief die soon, 'less we do somet'ing 'bout it. De assassins tell Jean-Luc dat if we don' turn Bella's murderer over t'dem by t'morrow evening, dey kill another o' our children. One f'r each day dat her killer remains on de streets."

Lawd, Ah don't like where this is leadin'...

His lips tightened, "I say, salope, why take de chance? Why not hand her -- ya -- over now? Let justice be done..."

Rogue was suddenly aware of dark-clad figures surrounding her in the narrow street. Appearing from every shadowed crevice and corner, they carried a motley assortment of weapons -- staffs, bottles and baseball bats -- and wore a standard grim expression.

Jean-Luc set me up.

15 January 1987
Jean-Luc leBeau's office,
Thieves' Guild
New Orleans

"YA DID WHAT?" Remy's effulgent eyes flared as he turned on his father. Jean-Luc regarded his youngest son with tenderness. In some ways, he was so innocent, so vulnerable to the changing tides of politics and relationships. leBeau needed to set the matter before Remy, as it had been set before him. After yawning inelegantly, the leader sipped his double espresso and motioned for Remy to sit.

"Let me explain..."

"Explain what?" Remy interrupted as he angrily pulled out the chair and sat in it, "Dat ya delivered Rogue inta de hands o' de assassins? Dat ya signed her death-warrant?"

"Ya be actin' like a selfish marmot (brat)," his voice rose slightly. He was exhausted and did not enjoy having his decisions questioned. "She be de killer an' she deserves everyt'ing she gets."

"She ain't a killer, pere."

Jean-Luc smiled wryly at him; at his sense of morality. His son had grown up among thieves and urchins, but his outmoded, misplaced honor had remained intact. How was that even possible? Surely someone as intelligent as Remy would recognize the necessity of Rogue's sacrifice, if it was explained correctly.

"Dat don' matter, son. Rogue is thought t'be de killer. She be de only one dat de assassins will accept," he placed a hand over his son's ones, "Sometimes truth be what ya need it t'be."

Remy shook his father's hand away, as if it was detestable to him, then stood, disgust written plainly on his face. Jean-Luc leBeau looked at his son in horrible pity, understanding something for the first time.

Il s'aime. He loves her.

In his confusion, he reached for an apt cliche that he knew would mend nothing between them. Too tired, too afraid, to broach the heart of the issue, he girded it with aphorism.

"De needs of de many must outweigh de needs of de few, or one. De assassins said dat dey'd kill one of our children f'r each day dat de murderer remained on de streets. It could be ya ... George ... Charmaine ... Henri next. I had no other choice."

Wearily, he repeated it, because he wanted so much to believe it. "Je n'ai pas un choix."

Remy smiled at him; a smile that had gone to the edge of hope and knew that nothing lay beyond.

"Nor do I, pere."

15 January 1987
Vitemain leBeau's home,
New Orleans

Rogue drew the thin dagger from a sheath at her waist, thanking whatever suspicious instinct had caused her to wear it. The shadows solidified into men, women, students with whom she had trained and laughed.

There was no humor in their eyes now as they approached, encircling her. Rogue fought the panic that rose in her chest, remembering Mystique's advice and repeating the calming exercises which her guardian had taught her. Breathe in and out and in and out and in and...

A tall, gaunt boy was the first to strike, lashing out at her with a stout iron bar. She easily dodged his clumsy attack and elbowed him in the face, sending him careening into two of his compeers. The next attacker, a brawny youth wielding a baseball bat, was dispatched with a swift kick to his gut, followed by a knee to his chin. Breathe in and out and in and out and...

Numbing adrenalin -- the combatant's anaesthetic of choice -- coursed through her veins, and a thin film of sweat covered her face. There was no time to rest; to regroup; to recover. Breathe in and out and in and out...

Grunting, Rogue clashed daggers with a petite brunette, causing sparks to shower into the night. Off-balance, her opponent was easy to upend with a single right-cross. Breathe in and out and in...

Something crackled behind her and she spun to face her incautious assailant. A broken bottle gleamed wickedly in his left hand, matched by the smile in his swarthy face.


"Think again," she drove the dagger deep into his shoulder, causing him to swear and drop the bottle. In one fluid movement, she picked up the fallen weapon and swung it into the face of the person behind her. Breathe in and out...

Ah can't keep this up fohever. Eventually, th' law o' averages will prevail and then...

Rogue grinned, remembering something. Taking advantage of a momentary lull in the battle, she stripped off her thick gloves and stuffed them in her jacket pocket. She had not used her mutant powers for many years, after Mystique had taught her how to control them through psychological disciplines. Breathe in and...

She struck, like a cobra, wrapping her hand around a fair-haired youth's face. She vaguely recognized him -- one of Remy's innumerable cousins. Rabbit? Lievre? Lapin?

Oui, je suis Lapin. (Yes, I am Lapin)

The power coursed through her veins; renewing her strength; bringing with it strange memories as bitter as dark chocolate.

It was f'r de good o' de Guilds, Julien. De needs o' de many outweigh de needs o' de few -- or one.

Rogue tamped them down -- she would deal with them later -- and concentrated on the task at hand. There were ten assailants remaining, and they seemed to be hanging back in the shadows, waiting for her to make the next move. Breathe in...

As if any student o' Mystique's would fall foh that ol' trick.

"Watch ya back, chere," a voice called from behind her, and she heard the sickening thud of wood meeting flesh. When she glanced over her shoulder, she saw Remy standing over a prostrate body, quarterstaff in his hand. The part of her mind that belonged to Lapin recognized him as Sanchez. Second only to Remy in stealth, he was praised by 'Ombre' deRheims as being more silent than a thought. Breathe...

"That's twice you've hauled mah butt outta th' coals, leBeau. Ah owe ya."

"Dat was one o' de oldest t'ief tricks in de book, belle," he grinned crookedly at her, "Sanchez deserved it f'r using somet'ing dat ... cliche. Maintenant, t'dispense wit' de rest o' dis trash..."

Stooping down, he retrieved some loose pebbles from the street. Eyes luminous in the dim light, he held them up to the sky. To Rogue's surprise, they began to burn, glowing like coals against his hand.

Ah knew he was a mutant, but...

Pas un demon... Lapin finished for her, and she could feel his irrational, animal dread. Breathe in and out ... Supress his mind, his urge to flee, to runrunrun until he was far away from this place fichu (damned).

Her assailants cowered a little way down the road; crossing themselves; touching forehead, heart and collarbones.

Je vous salue, Marie, (Hail Mary) full of grace, savior of the human race...

Scowling, she pushed Lapin's mind out of her body. He was becoming more hinderance than help, but, with the loss of his energy, her exhaustion and burning muscles returned. Breathe...

"Un. Deux. Trois," Remy threw the pebbles into the air, where they exploded. The night was lit for one brief instant, and the streets filled with the red glow of a false dawn. The boom of the explosion echoed through the Vieux Carre, causing lights to come on in the windows of every house.

"Qu'est-que c'est?" Lapin murmured groggily, massaging his head.

"I t'ink we should go, Rogue," leBeau said insistently, "Dey'll send reinforcements soon enough."

If'n he's leadin' me inta a trap, Ah can always take him down.

She nodded her assent, hating herself for distrusting him.

"Stay close, belle."

Her legs protested the movement as she began to run, following Remy into a shadowy alleyway. Left into a busy street, where tourists congregated, experiencing their version of New Orleans. Right into a small, sad lane where a beggar held out his cup and whined for money.

"Where we goin', sugah?"

"A friend's house."

"Can he be trusted?"

"Oui, she can."

Remy stopped before a small, neat house, freshly whitewashed. Petunias grew in a windowbox, serenading the night with their rainbow-colored trumpets. Running a hand through his russet hair, he grinned at Rogue.

"Here we are, cherie."

He knocked on the door and it was opened by a plump, short African-American woman with skin the color of ebony. She was ensconced in a large, purple dressing-gown and slippers.

"Remy?" she sounded concerned, "Come in."

"Tante Mattie," he said gratefully, "I'd like ya t'meet m'friend, Rogue. Rogue, dis be m'aunt."

"Pleased ta meet ya, ma'am."

"Heavens above, chile, call me Tante Mattie." Tante Mattie nodded at her. "Now come on in an' I'll fix ya both some cocoa."

The door opened into a small, crowded living-room. Ornaments and carvings of every description covered most of the table surfaces in the room. Mobiles, strung from the ceiling, swayed gently in the breeze, complemented by the gentle tinkling of wind chimes. Rogue sat nervously on the edge of one of the over-stuffed marroon chairs, while Remy sprawled on the divan.

"Sugah," she started, "Ah ... Ah want ya t'know how much... well, how much what ya did meant ta me. Ya went against yo' family foh me, an' Ah know how hard that musta been ta do."

He smiled at her from his perch, "Love be de only t'ing worth dyin' for."


She continued, words tripping out of her mouth in an attempt to cover her discomfort, "Ah didn't do it -- Kill Belladonna, Ah mean -- or plot with ... with the External ta start a clan war."

He loves me?

"I know, chere," he said simply, "Wish I knew who did."

Remy loves me. Can Ah tell him? It would mean revealin' mah secret ... Oh, Ah don't care.

"Ah do," she replied, avoiding his glance, "It was Lapin leBeau an' Julien Bordeaux."

"Those be some pretty strong accusations, chile," Tante Mattie commented as she reemerged holding two mugs of steaming cocoa. She handed one to Rogue. It smelt of rich chocolate and cinnamon, and she sipped it thankfully.

"I think someone else should hear this," the elderly woman said thoughtfully, "Could ya come in here, Jean-Luc?"

The slender leader of the Thieves' Guild came into the room from the kitchen. He wore an apologetic grimace, his eyes darting nervously from her to Remy and back again.

"Bonsoir, mes enfants (Good evening, my children)."

"Pere," the young thief looked surprised, "How did ya know dat we'd be here?"

"When Vitemain tol' me dat ya'd escaped his death squad, I knew dat dere was only one place in de whole o' dis city dat ya'd be safe," he gestured ineffectually with his hands, trying to encompass the room, "Ici (here). Dat don' matter though -- I owe ya an apology, mademoiselle."

He ordered me ta be killed ... but he had no choice. He did it foh his clan. For his family. Foh Remy, Lapin an' Denis. Love is th' only thing worth killin' foh...

Rogue held out a hand to him, understanding Jean-Luc leBeau for the first time. He was weak, despite all the power he wielded. At the mercy of public opinion, he lacked the moral fortitude of his son; Remy's belief in absolute right and absolute truth.

Can Ah blame th' river foh flowing with th' current?

"It's fine, suh. Ah understand."

"Bien," he smiled at her, "D'ya have proof of ya accusations, chere?"

She paused, instinctively seeking Remy's support, knowing that he would understand her dilemma. The memory of Lapin's fears were still fresh, despite his mind's absence.

Un demon. Hail Mary, full of grace, savior of the human race...

"Ah'm afraid that y'all only have mah word foh it."

"How did ya find out, cherie?" the young cajun asked gently, coming to sit next to her.

He knows.

"Ah'm a mutant, like Remy," she explained, head bowed, "But mah particular gift is slightly different. Ah guess ya could call me a thief o' sorts -- Ah steal people's memories, powers ... Everything that makes them individual."

She stopped; tear-blinded; unable to continue; unable to look up and see their faces. She was all too familiar with the look of disgust and fear with which people regarded her after learning her secret. She could not bear to see it on the face of the youth who had been so kind to her.

Freak. Vampirefreak. Mutiefreak. Freakfreakfreak.

Remy's hand found her bare one and he squeezed it reassuringly. It was a gesture of trust, placing himself at the mercy of her powers, believing in her control of them. The action touched her deeply and she smiled shyly at him, painfully aware of her own burgeoning feelings.

He loves me? In spite of what Ah am?

"So dat's what happened t'Lapin," Jean-Luc hissed, "Vitemain tol' me dat he was knocked out in de battle. Serves de salaud (creep) right. I have t'tell dis to de council -- I have a feelin' dat dey aren't goin' t'be too happy wit' m'nephew, Lapin."

16 January 1987
Assassins' Guild Council Chambers,
New Orleans

"What we did, we did f'r de good o' de Guilds," Julien Bordeaux proclaimed, slamming his fist into the mahogany table, "De peace between t'ief an' assassin was a sham -- it woulda been broken at de first sign of trouble."

The councils of the Thieves' and Assassins' Guilds were collected around the round table in Marius's conference room. The remainder of the Guilds thronged around them, congregated in the hallways, peered through the tall windows.

Jean-Luc leBeau looked at where the two boys, Julien and Lapin, were sitting. Despite their heinous crimes, they were little more than disillusioned adolescents, trying to find a quick solution to an ancient problem.

"And how did ya t'ink dat killin' our ... our children would help?" Marius boomed, his face purple with rage. Notoriously mercurial, the leader of the Assassins' Guild looked as if he would like nothing more than to rip them into shreds.

"People come t'gether in times o' war. We needed t'find a common enemy -- in dis case, Candra," Lapin explained, "We decided t'set someone up so it looked like dey were workin' for de External. Stokin' de flames o' de feud so t'speak. When Rogue arrived, we found our scapegoat. She was a stranger, an' fortunately skilled wit' daggers."

Jean-Luc glanced at the slender girl, standing next to his son. Her green eyes were filled with a strange pity as she watched the proceedings. He saw her whisper something to Remy, who nodded and made a face.

"If Rogue had not arrived?" He prompted, curious.

"Den we were goin' t'frame Sarabeth O'Connor," Julien answered, unashamedly, "Her ability wit' knives is famous throughout our Guild."

"You sod!" a red-headed girl, who he took to be Sarabeth, exclaimed angrily, "Bella was my best friend. I would never ha' killed her."

"ORDER! ORDER!" Marius banged the table with his gavel.

"Why did you choose the External?" Pierre leBeau asked, his thin face wrinkled in consternation, "She has been nothing but good to us."

"Ya old fool," Lapin said, contemptuously, "She demands exhorbitant tithes, an' den leaves us t'live like paupers off the pennies which she throws our way. De feud is her way o' keeping us weak; keeping us silent. If our Guilds were ta unite, we could overthrow her, take what is rightfully ours."

Marius Bordeaux stood, mopping his face with a large handkerchief. He seemed calmer now, almost resolute. Sipping his glass of water, he regarded his son and Lapin.

"I have heard enough. Julien Bordeaux and Lapin leBeau, ya have been judged guilty of treason, murder and conspiracy t'murder. For dis, ya must pay de ultimate price."

Jean-Luc saw terror flicker in the two boys' eyes, before becoming despair. "For your crimes, ya are exiled from de Guilds and stripped o' ya family name. We disown ya."

The council repeated his words solemnly, "We disown ya."

As Jean-Luc watched them being escorted out by four burly assassins, only one emotion remained at the forefront of his mind. The same emotion as in the eyes of the slip of a girl who they had attempted to frame. It was impossible, but he pitied them.

Their misguided love for their clan had driven them to kill their own, in the same way that it had driven him to sacrifice an innocent. Fortunately, he reflected, Remy's love for Rogue had redeemed them both. How different was child from mother! Rogue's pure understanding had allowed his son to reclaim part of his identity -- she was teaching him how to control his mutant powers; teaching him how to embrace them by embracing them herself. It was a love that built and repaired, while Raven's love was tendentious. Jean-Luc smiled as he saw them standing behind Pierre with arms wrapped around each other.

He turned to Henri and said: "De ol' Creole Proverb is true -- tell me who ya love an' I'll tell ya who ya are."


1 February 1992
Jean-Luc's Study
New Orleans

Jean-Luc smiled at Rogue as she entered the room. Five years had filled out the boyishness of her figure and lent beauty to her face. She was dressed in a thin, cashmere sweater and denim jeans; her streaked hair taken back in a chignon. Even in the dim firelight, Jean-Luc could see that she had been crying.

"Ya called, Jean-Luc?"

"Sit, chere."

She complied, seating herself in one of the high-backed chairs -- a relic from a bygone age. Nervously, she played with the gold paperweight on his desk, and he was reminded so much of the girl she used to be.

"I know what t'day is, belle," he told her, "An' I grieve wit' ya loss. I too loved Raven."

"Why'd she have ta go on that damned suicide mission five years ago?" Rogue replaced the paperweight with an angry thud, "Didn't she know that there was no way in hell that she coulda succeeded?"

"She did it because she loved de cause," he said slowly, "An'..."

"Love is th' only thing worth dyin' foh, Ah know," she interrupted, tears streaming freely down her face, "But Ah loved her. Why didn't mah love protect her?"

Jean-Luc handed her a starched, white handkerchief and she blew her nose noisily. She was calmer when she spoke again.

"Ah'm so scared, Jean-Luc, that th' same thing will happen t'Remy. That Ah won't be able ta protect him neither," she toyed with the emerald ring on her right hand.

They had become engaged to be married a few weeks ago, and he recognised the nervousness of a new wife in her words. How could you protect your loved one when he or she insisted on risking himself daily? Remy was commonly acknowledged as the best thief in the world, but still was compelled to prove it to himself. The nature of the missions he undertook was always dangerous, and all it required was one mistake...

"I can't promise ya dat not'ing will happen t'him, but I know dat he will do everyt'ing in his power t'return safely t' ya each night. He loves ya more dan I will ever know."

She nodded, evidently accepting his cold comfort. He continued: "Chere, de reason I called ya in here was dat I felt it was time t'give ya somet'ing dat has always been rightfully yours."

Jean-Luc opened the drawer of his desk and removed a long, blue-velvet case, handing it to her. Rogue's green eyes filled with awe as she undid the catch and the lid sprung open.

"They're beautiful...", she murmured, holding a necklace of perfect, white diamonds up to the light of the fire. They sparkled in her hand, like a galaxy of tiny stars, as they had twenty-three years ago in his.

"Dey're called de Stars of Africa," he informed her, "Raven an' I stole dem from a rich merchant in Paris. I had dem made up int' a necklace when I heard dat ya were comin'."

Rogue ran them through her fingers, examining them thoughtfully. Did she disapprove? Unlikely, she had been a practising thief for a number of years, and, while not as skilled as his son, a proficient one. She had recently turned in her lockpicks to tutor the mutants in both Guilds in the use of their powers.

Suddenly, she turned to him, pleading: "Can ya tell me 'bout what happened in Paris? How ya got these gems?"

Jean-Luc nodded, knowing that he had found the one person to whom he could tell the story. Rogue would not judge Raven and he could not stand to see her condemned. Any pain he experienced would be reflected in the face of the other. He took a sip of his coffee and began his story for the first time.



Most of the characters belong to dear Marvel and are not used to make me a profit. Sarabeth O'Connor and most of the leBeau relatives belong to me, so please only use them with my permission. Comments, criticisms and cheers as always, to RogueStar at


Down-Home Charm / Fan-Fiction / Fan Artwork / History Books / Photo Album / Songbank / Miscellania / Links / Updates

Legalese: Rogue, the X-Men, and the distinctive likenesses thereof are Trademarks of Marvel Characters, Inc. and are used without permission. This is an unofficial fansite, and is not sponsored, licensed or approved by Marvel Comics.
Privacy Policy and Submission Guidelines