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After Gambit's Return

Stories in this series

A series of three stories written as a gift for the Rogue mailing list Southern Comfort and the Gambit mailing list Gambit Guild.

featuring Gambit and Bebete (the green mist lady)

featuring Cyclops and Phoenix

featuring Rogue, Gambit and Nightcrawler

So here is another longshot. Black and White.
A negative this time, in dazzle-dark,
Smudge and pallor where we make out you and me,
The selves we've struggled with and struggled out of,
Two shades who have consumed each other's fire,
Two flames in sunlight that can sear and singe,
But seem like wisps of enervated air,
After-wavers, feathery ether-shifts . . .
Yet apt to rekindle suddenly
If we find along the way charred grass and sticks
And an old fire-fragrance lingering on,
Erotic woodsmoke, witchery, intrigue,
Leaving us none the wiser, just better primed
To speed the plough again and feed the flame
~ Stanza Two of 'The Walk', by Seamus Heaney

Christmas day arrived in a burst of carols. Perennial favorites played from the radio, as crisp and fresh as untrammeled snow, despite their age. Joy to the World . Peace to all mankind.

Jean Grey, otherwise known as Phoenix, sat up in bed, stretching like a lazy cat. They had returned to Westchester for Christmas; wanting to spend the festive season with their team-mates and friends. A time to be together, she had always felt, a time unlike any other.

The smell of Christmas was in the air. Of frosty, tart pine. Of presents wrapped in secrecy and given in love. Why did it fail to uplift her spirits? It never had in the past; however this year, a vague, troubling malaise hung over her, spoiling her perfect happiness.

She sighed, glancing over at her snoring husband. Scott's hand rested over the pillow, hugging it to his chest. He was so pragmatic, dependable, predictable.

'I wonder what practical gift he got me this year,' she thought, 'A Hoover? A dishwasher? A hair drier? A Weed Whacker?'

Jean paused, momentarily horrified by her disloyalty. Was Scott's lack of romance the cause of her discontentment? Impossible. Unthinkable. Yet...

Her train of thought was interrupted by a soft knock on the bedroom door. Pulling on her bathrobe - another birthday gift from Scott - she opened it. She still was not accustomed to living in the mansion, after months of near solitude in Alaska.

"My apologies, Jean," Colossus smiled at her, "But I wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas and to inform you that breakfast is served."

"A Merry Christmas to you as well," Jean hugged her friend, "I'll wake up Scott."

"Indeed," Piotr nodded, "We would not want him to be like the Bear who slept through Christmas. He would never forgive us."

Jean laughed, but it sounded fake to her ears. As brittle as a snow crystal. As ephemeral as the morning frost. What was happening to them? To their love?

Christmas breakfast was a lavish affair of pancakes with maple syrup and blueberry muffins. When the food had been eaten and the plates had been cleared away, Jean looked around the table. Neat piles of gifts were beside each place, wrapped in variegated paper and bound with shiny, curled ribbon. Everyone seemed in the best of spirits, joking and teasing each other about their gifts. Enjoying the bonds of friendship and love which tied them together, like a Christmas ribbon.

Her eyes rested briefly on Rogue, who caught her gaze and smiled back at her. An exquisite emerald necklace lay in the hollow of the Southerner's throat. A gift from Gambit. It was, Jean reflected, amazing how three small words could change everything.

She felt for her own parcel to Scott - a slender package that contained a watch that he had admired on one of their shopping trips. Would he get her something similar, or would it be yet another serviceable gift? To her surprise, Scott pushed out his chair and stood, clearing his throat.

"Great," Marrow jeered, "Yet another feel-good speech."

Cyclops ignored her and continued: "I have been through a lot this year both as the leader of this team and as a person. I have questioned everything in which I have ever believed, and found it lacking. I have been to the brink of death and back. I do not think I could have survived if it was not for the love and support of my wife. . . ." he paused to look at Jean, "They say that there is a better woman behind every good man and I want to thank her today for . . . for everything. I love you, Jean, and do not know what I would do without you."

Suddenly, Phoenix understood the truth. There was more to love than passion. Something that remained after the flames had died away to ashes; something that endured through the good as well as the bad; something that, like gold, could not disappear into mist.

Unexpectedly, like a present from a stranger, joy welled up in Phoenix and she smiled. And, even when her present from Cyclops turned out to be a washing machine, she knew that everything would be all right.



Phoenix, Cyclops and all related characters belong to Marvel Comics and are not used to make me a profit. All comments to


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