Annabel Lee

"You sure you got the right address?"

The driver's side window of the rented SUV was open, allowing a fresh ocean breeze to waft into the stuffy vehicle. Bishop's arm rested on the window frame, his fingers tapping impatiently on the car's exterior.

Sage was curled up on the passenger's side, gazing thoughtfully out her closed window. She was not bothered by the staleness of the warm air inside the car, nor the amount of time they'd spent waiting for someone to come home. But Bishop's lack of faith annoyed her. "I assure you that I'm fully capable of looking up a simple address on the computer."

"I'm sorry...I'm just anxious, you know?"

"I would have thought that as a police officer, you'd be used to spending long boring hours on stakeouts," she replied.

"This isn't exactly a stakeout," he said, turning his head in her direction. "'s not for me, at least."

Her eyes met his, as cool and calm as ever. "Just because I don't wear my heart on my sleeve doesn't mean that I'm not looking forward to seeing them."

Sage's inability to become emotional about anything - whether it was a result of impeccable self-control or a natural part of her personality - still freaked Bishop out. Although her mastery over her feelings was an asset in the midst of battle, it made her seem like nothing more than an emotionless android the rest of the time. "Sorry."

She returned her gaze, and her thoughts, to the world beyond her window. "There's no need to apologize...I know most of you find me rather cold and unfeeling. But if I was to succeed in infiltrating one of the most powerful mutant organizations in the world, I had to learn to be in complete control at all times. It's the price that I paid." Bishop saw her reflection smile slightly. "As Gambit would say, I played the cards I was dealt."

So she was excited at the prospect of seeing Rogue and Gambit again.

He was going to say more, but a figure on a motorcycle sped into the driveway of the house in question before he could get the words out. The figure turned the bike off, put the kick stand down, and dismounted. A moment later, she removed her helmet and shook out her auburn hair.

Bishop jumped out the car and called to her across the street. "Rogue!"

The woman, startled, turned quickly. But when she saw her friend jogging across the street towards her, her face lit up. "Bishop..."

She didn't have a chance to finish what she was going to say, his strong arms already had her in a big bear hug. She responded in kind, kissing his cheek when he finally let go. "..ah wasn't expecting you..."

"Surprise," he said, backing up and looking her up and down. "Man, you look great."

She was wearing a form fitting, plain white t-shirt, blue jeans, black boots, and a black leather jacket. Her hair was a little longer, a little wavier. "Oh, stop. These are mah work clothes...they're all dirty an' covered with grease stains..."

She looked past him and saw Sage slowly making her way across the street as well. "Sage," she began, walking to meet her at the beginning of the driveway, "it's good to see you."

Rogue and Sage had never been particularly close, so Sage was surprised by the hug and kiss that followed her greeting, though she hid it well. "It's good to see you too, Rogue."

"This is amazing...ah was just sayin' to Remy the other night that we should invite y'all over for dinner or somethin', an' here you are."

"And where is Gambit?" Bishop asked. "He's not inside playin' homemaker, is he?"

"Lord no," Rogue giggled, "if he was, ah'd like to think he woud've let you in rather than makin' you wait in the, he's been away for a few days."

She reached into her coat pocket and pulled out a set of keys. "Come on in," she said, walking up the front steps, "so we can catch've got perfect timing, actually. Remy's supposed to be gettin' back tonight...which means if you're stayin' for dinner, at least the food will be edible."

"Still haven't learned to cook?" Bishop teased.

"Y'know, just about when ah was startin' to get good at it somebody had to go an' throw the only decent thing I ever baked in mah face...ah wonder who that was..." She shot back, unlocking the door and letting them in.

"Hey, I didn't throw it, I just dodged it," he protested.

Sage closed the door behind her. "Should I even ask?"

"Nah...nothin' but two little boys tryin' to start a food fight," Rogue replied, taking off her jacket and hanging it in a closet. She led her friends to the living room - tastefully decorated in browns and pinks with a couch and love seat, light oak end tables, and a coffee table. In the corner lay a large, flat screen TV on a light gray stand. "Make yourselves comfortable...can ah get either of you anythin'? Coffee, tea...somethin' cold to drink?"

"I'm fine," Sage said, sitting on the couch.


"I'm good, thanks."

Rogue walked into the kitchen, but returned a moment later empty handed. On the way back, she peeked down the hallway, and then glanced around the living room before finally sitting down on the love seat.

"Lost something?" Bishop asked, sitting next to Sage on the couch.

"Mah cat. She's usually waiting for me at the door...but ah don't have company too often, maybe you two frightened her." She shrugged. "No big deal, she's probably hidin' under mah bed..."

"Speaking of hiding - what's this about LeBeau bein' away for a few days?"

"Oh...Remy does that sometimes. He's usually gone for less than a week. He needs time to himself, that's all."

Sage shot a quick glance at Bishop - all of the other X-Men had been saying how great it must be for Rogue and Gambit now that Rogue was free of her powers...but if Gambit left her for days at a time so he could be by himself, things didn't look like they were as good as everyone thought. Rogue saw the look exchanged between her former teammates, but said nothing. Her relationship with Remy wasn't really any of their business.

The awkwardness that followed was eventually broken by Bishop. "He's not still in the thievin' business is he?"

"You know him better than that, Lucas..."

"A cop's hope springs eternal."

"Well, rest assured the only one who's bein' robbed right now is me."

Sage had been half-listening to the conversation while she studied her surroundings. The room was warm and soothing, like a desert at sunset. There were paintings on one wall, a glass doored cabinet full of priceless collectibles against another, several well-placed lamps, and several good-sized windows facing the street. It was the home of a rich woman with good taste, who made sure that her rooms were not only nice too look at, they were practical and comfortable. She did not decorate with the intent of shoving her money down your throat. If anything, she downplayed her wealth.

Rogue's last comment made Sage look down at her hands, and she made what she thought was an innocent observation. "No ring?"

Bishop saw Rogue's expression harden immediately, but before her infamous temper lashed out at an unsuspecting Sage, he attempted to change the tone of the question. "Livin' in sin with the Cajun, huh?"

Rogue's features relaxed, and she laughed at his joke. "Is there any other way to live with him?"

"I resent dat," a voice said from behind them.

All eyes flew to Gambit, who was standing in the doorway. How he managed to sneak in without any of them hearing, Bishop didn't know...he chalked it up to a trade secret.

They all stood, but though Gambit gave Sage and Bishop each a nod, he only had eyes for Rogue. When he walked over to her, she threw her arms around his neck and welcomed him with a kiss. He proceeded to scoop her up and carry her in the direction of the kitchen. "We'll be right back," he promised as they disappeared through the doorway.

Bishop sat back down, and Sage took the opportunity to examine a series photographs neatly arranged on a side table. Muffled laughter and whispered words of affection were loud enough to be heard, and Bishop decided to start a conversation in order to give his friends some privacy. "They seem happy."


"Do you always have to be so cynical?"

Sage returned to the couch before responding. "There's a hole in Rogue's life, surely you can see that."

"I don't know..."

"Look at the pictures, Bishop, they are of us...several are of Rogue and Gambit, but the rest are of the X-Men - Logan and Rogue, you and Gambit, all of us together. We know every single person in each photo, either by name or reputation. There are no recent ones. Only long past moments frozen in time..."

"She has pictures of us because she doesn't see us any more...she wouldn't need pictures of her friends around here 'cause she'd see them all the time," he reasoned.

"If that thought brings you comfort, so be it. But even a man who sees his wife every day keeps a picture of her on his desk at work..."

Their conversation was interrupted by a soft thud and Rogue's voice. "Remy...we have company!"

She reappeared a moment later, with Gambit close behind. "Aw c'mon, petite, dey understand..."

"Ah'm sorry," she apologized to her guests as she sat down, "it's just that Remy can get...amorous when he returns from a trip."

"Jus' wanna give my girl a proper greeting," he said, offering his hand to Bishop, who shook it warmly, before leaning over to give Sage a kiss on the cheek. "'Specially after I left her in dis big lonely house for so long."

"That's all right, we understand," Bishop assured Rogue as Gambit joined her on the love seat. "So what have you been up to?"

"Oh you know, playing some cards, hustlin' some pool, goin' t' bars...the same old t'ing," Gambit replied as Rogue reached for his hand. "With dis one workin' weekdays, gotta do somet'in' t' keep busy."

"Ah'm a mechanic," Rogue offered, "if y'all didn't figure that out from mah clothes already. Mah specialty is motorcycles, but ah work on cars too. It doesn't pay much, but we ain't exactly starvin' to death."

"Speakin' of starvin', I guess I should stop jabberin' an' cook us up somethin' for dinner," Gambit said, standing.

"Do me a favor and see if you can find Keaira first, will ya, sugah?"

He left the living room and returned with a full grown black cat in his arms. He placed the cat in her lap before heading back to the kitchen.

"Who's a bad little Keaira, hiding from me?" Rogue cooed as the miniature panther settled down and looked up expectantly. She rubbed behind the cat's neck, and it began to purr so loud that Bishop and Sage could hear it from where they were sitting.

"Interesting name," Sage commented. " 'Little dark one,' entirely appropriate."

"When you have loads of free time, lookin' up the meanings of names on the internet is nothin'."

Sage threw Bishop another look while Rogue's attention was diverted by Keaira.


"That was delicious," Sage commented as she dabbed her mouth with a napkin. "But I think it's time we were on our way."

"So soon?" Rogue asked, her disappointment clear. "But you just got here..."

"You know how it is," Bishop said, standing. "Duty calls."

"But ah...ah really wanted to talk to you about somethin'," Rogue protested, standing as well. "Can't you stay a little longer?"

"A few more minutes can be spared," Sage conceded. "I will help Gambit clean up while you two talk."

Rogue took Bishop out the sliding glass door and down the wooden steps that lead to the beach. A scattering of gray clouds silently floated in the night sky, but the silver light of the half moon was unhindered at the moment. He followed her to the edge of the water, where she slipped off her shoes and socks and dipped a toe in.

"Ah can't live like this," she finally said, gazing out over the water.

"What do you mean?" he asked after a pause. "You an' Gambit..."

"This has nothin' to do with Gambit," she interrupted. "It has to do with me."

A sea breeze chilled the air around them, and Bishop couldn't shake the feeling that it was some kind of omen. Rogue removed her foot from the cold surf and caught his eye. "Ah feel like ah don't have a purpose anymore...when ah was an X-Man, all ah wanted was to be free of mah to live a normal' now..." her voice trailed off as she looked down at her hands. When she spoke again, her voice was little more than a whisper. "An' now ah'm no good to anyone. Ah help people, sure, but only by fixin' their bikes an' cars. Ah run, ah play mah guitar, ah make love to mah man...but it's not enough. Ah need more."

Bishop listened patiently, but didn't know how to console her. "Anything I can do..."

She returned her eyes to his face. "Ah'm not an X-Man anymore, ah know that, but ah was hopin' ah could fight the good fight another way...tell me, what does it take to join the police force?"

He may have been from the future, but Bishop knew much about present day law enforcement. "Well, you'll have to go through training, then pass a test...and then you'll have to work your way up the ranks..."

"There isn't an easier way? You can't get me some kind a' fake paperwork or pull some strings or somethin'?"

"Even if I could, I wouldn't," he replied, and her face fell. "There's a reason for that...I know your heart is in the right place, and I know you think you have a lot of experience at this sort of thing, but a vigilante hero is a very different breed from a law abiding police officer."

"But that'll take time, an' ah can't wait that long...ah'll just have to take matters into mah own hands."

Bishop didn't like the sound of that. "I'm afraid to ask."

"Not every super hero has special powers...just look at Batman..."

"Rogue...I hate to be the one to point this out, but Batman is a made up character."

"Ah'm not stupid, ah know that...but if ah use his blueprint, ah could be just like him." Bishop started to protest, but she silenced him. "He was rich...well so am ah. Ah can use that to mah advantage...ah already have powerful connections, ah just need to convince them to help me out. Ah can't just sit back an' do nothin' after ah've spent so much of mah life fightin' injustice."

"But without your powers..."

"Ah'm over that, Bish. Ah've been workin' out, takin' a variety of different martial arts classes, ah'm in good shape. Ah'm strong, an' ah'm tough...ah don't need mah powers to do this."

"Have you mentioned this plan to Gambit?"

" Not yet."

"He's not gonna like it."

"He can not like it all he wants, ah ain't gonna change mah mind about this. It's mah life...he's not mah keeper or mah master. Ah control mah destiny now."

Bishop had known Rogue long enough to know when further argument was useless. She had obviously not lost her stubborn streak when her powers were negated. "I think it's a bad idea."

"Ah know you' ah appreciate your concern, but this is somethin' ah have to do."

"Will you at least promise to talk this over with the Cajun before you do anything?" He figured if anyone could make Rogue see how utterly ridiculous she was being, it would be Gambit.

"Seein' as ah don't intend on sneakin' around behind his back, ah planned on tellin' him about it anyway...I just wanted to see if there was a way to avoid this whole mess by becomin' a member of some kind a' official law enforcement."

"But you can..." he argued.

She didn't want to hear it. "No...ah'm gettin' too old to waste all that time on trainin' and the like. It's now or never for me."

The conversation finished, her mind made up, they returned to the house. The table was cleared and the dishwasher was loaded, but a stove full of pots and pans still needed to be washed. Gambit knew his friends were anxious to be on their way, and assured them that he didn't mind finishing the work himself. Their good-bye was not tearful, though it was a sad one. Not knowing when they'd see each other again, many hugs and kisses were exchanged before Bishop and Sage drove off in their SUV.

"Well...?" Bishop asked.

"Well what?"

"I know you scanned their DNA while we were there, what'd you find out?"

"Rogue's DNA, like her mind, is virtually impossible to decipher. Even with her powers gone, I was unable to get any kind of definitive reading," she explained.

"And Gambit?"

"Much to my surprise, his scan was also inconclusive."

Bishop thought about her words for a moment. "Is that a good thing?"

"It's neither good nor bad...truthfully, I don't know what to make of it. I'm tempted to say that it has sparked the possibility that the genes that were essentially turned off can once again be triggered by the proper circumstances."

"Is that possible?"

"It is the nature of genes...think of it this way - you didn't always have to shave, did you? Of course not, the proper conditions had to exist before your body sent the message to grow facial hair."

"So there's hope," he muttered, wondering if Rogue would prefer the return of her powers and the curse that came with them to the quiet life she'd so recently claimed was not enough.

Sage, who had noticed the signs of an unfulfilled woman before Bishop, said nothing.


"Ah'm going runnin'," Rogue announced a few minutes after Bishop and Sage left. She had disappeared into their room as soon as they had driven away, and changed into a pair of shorts, a tank top, and sneakers. "As long as you don' mind finishin' up the dishes yourself."

"No problem," he replied, and she left without as much as giving him a kiss on the cheek. At first he wondered if she was mad at him for some reason, but dismissed the idea soon after. Rogue had obviously been happy to see him when he returned, and though they had had company, he knew she would've spent the night giving him dirty looks every once in a while if she was. She had become restless in the past month or so, and though he wondered if perhaps she wasn't happy living with him, there had been no signs that this was the case.

He didn't like her running on the beach at night. In fact, he worried about her a lot more than he let on. Without her powers, she was much more vulnerable than she liked to admit, and he was secretly afraid she'd do something stupid, if not outright dangerous, to prove that she was just as tough as she had been. In fact, his time away was as much for her as it was for show her that he agreed with her assessment, that she was as tough as ever, and could take care of herself.

The dishes were done and he was playing with Keaira when he heard the sound of a guitar in the distance. He couldn't understand how Rogue had managed to sneak in and retrieve the instrument without him hearing her. He left the cat and slid the sliding glass door open. Rogue was sitting half way down the steps, plucking aimlessly on the strings before beginning to play a haunting melody. Gambit remained where he was, listening to her sing unnoticed.

"As the walls are closing in,
And the colors fade to black,
As my eyes are falling fast and deep into me...

And I follow the tracks that lead me down,
I'll never follow what's right
And they wonder sometimes when they see all the sadness
And pain the truth brings to light.

'Cause I can't see no reason,
What is blind cannot see.
'Cause I want what is pleasing,
All I take should be free.
What I rob from the innocent ones,
What I'd steal from the womb...

As the walls are closing in,
And the colors fade to black,
And the night is falling fast and deep into the sea...

And in darkness all that I can see,
The frightened and the weak,
Are forced to cling to mistakes they know nothing of,
At mercy are the meek.

'Cause I can't see no reason,
What is blind cannot see.
'Cause I want what is pleasing,
All I take should be free.
What I rob from the innocent ones,
What I'd steal from the womb...¹"

He thought the song was over, and was about to sneak away as quietly as he had come, but even as Rogue's fingers continued to play the melody, she sang one last line. "If I cried me a river of all my confessions, would I drown in my shallow regret...?²"

Gambit returned to the house, leaving Rogue alone with her misery.


Hours later, Remy LeBeau lay in bed alone, awaiting the return of his lady love. The passionate night he had been hoping for was obviously out of the question...but his disappointment had long ago been replaced by concern. It seemed like Rogue's mood had gradually been darkening for a while now, but every time he brought it up, she brushed his worries aside with a laugh. This sudden plummet into depression finally convinced him that he had to intercede. He was reluctant to do so because he knew that Rogue, like himself, liked to work things out on her own...but there had been times in the past when one of them insisted on helping the other when it became clear that the other needed it. This was one of those times.

As he waited, he thought about how their relationship had changed since they lost their powers. At first, he was furious with Rogue for dragging him back to the land of the living. It wasn't her right to pull him from the state of grace he never thought he'd achieve, and would probably never reach again, just because she wanted more time with him. And if that wasn't bad enough, he returned to a body that no longer possessed the mutation he had come to rely on...that was part of who he was. It was like he lost an appendage, like an arm. Well...maybe not an arm...more like a finger or two. Still, a finger is pretty important...

But he quickly came to realize that it wasn't entirely her fault. If he had really wanted to die, if it had really been his time, not even Rogue could've prevented it. There was a part of him that wasn't ready to join that big Mardi Gras parade in the sky. Powers or no, he decided that she was right, and accepted her challenge of trying to make a relationship between them work.

Aside from a few minor incidents, getting to California was easy enough, as was purchasing a good-sized house off the beach. Their relationship, however, had been another story. Still fearful that her powers might return, Rogue was reluctant to touch him for long periods of much as she savored the sensation of her bare skin against his, she always pulled away after a few seconds. Seconds became minutes, and the number of minutes increased, but the fear remained. In fact, it was only recently that she agreed to sleep in the same bed as him, and even then she insisted on keeping most of her body covered.

Sex had been a touchy subject. Now that they could safely touch, it stood to reason that they'd express their feelings in a way that had been impossible before. But Rogue was so jumpy about something as small as holding hands that Gambit didn't want to push her. Quick kisses progressed to deeper ones, which progressed to hands wandering to places that neither had dared to go before...but it was months before Rogue was comfortable enough to even consider sex. When she was ready, she broached the subject, since Gambit was too much the gentleman to pester her about it. And as excited as he was, he told her to take a few more days to think about it, just to make sure.

In the end, she had lost her virginity on a warm spring night. Gambit had done everything in his power to make the event as special and romantic as he could - deccorated their room with candles, bought her a new negligé, cooked her dinner, and served chocolate covered strawberries and champagne for dessert. Although his first sexual encounter had occurred years ago, he still remembered it...a pleasant, if not somewhat embarrassing memory. As the more experienced of the two, he took it upon himself to be as patient, loving, and gentle as possible in an attempt to dissipate whatever nervousness he knew she must feel. It was a night would burn in both their memories forever.

Since then, they made love often, but not obsessively so...they discussed having children, but decided against it. Rogue wanted to be married before she had children, and thought that neither of them was ready to take that step...furthermore, she feared for the safety of any child she carried, especially with the possibility of her powers returning. She worried that she'd absorb and kill the fetus if they did.

The bedroom door creaked slightly as Rogue tiptoed into the room. She had showered, checked the doors, and fed Keaira before coming to bed. Slipping beneath the sheets, she waited for Gambit to roll over and place his arm around her waist, but his steady, deep breaths made her think that he had fallen asleep waiting for her.


He rolled over, wide awake. "Yes, chere?"

"Can ah talk to you?"

He had anticipated these very words, and propped his head up with his arm. "You know you don' need t' ask."

"It's just...ah mean..." her green eyes glittered in the moonlight that was peeking through the window. Gambit's face was hidden in shadows, his once glowing eyes extinguished along with the loss of his powers. She didn't want to hurt his feeling, but she needed someone to talk to. "Ah miss mah old life."

"As an X-Man?" he asked. She nodded. "So do I..."

"It's not the same for me," she insisted. "Ah've spent so long wishing ah wasn't a mutant, an' when mah wish is finally granted, ah wish things were back to the way they were." Troubled by the fact that she couldn't see his expression in the dark, she turned on the lamp next to the bed.

He looked more confused than hurt. "What're you tryin' t' say?"

"Ah know you think it's silly that ah've been worried about mah powers comin' back..."

"No," he jumped in. "I understand dat. Dere's no reason to explain or apologize for dat."

"Well, ah used to be afraid they'd come back...but now ah'm afraid they won't."

He was puzzled by her confession. "Now dis...dis I don' understand. I t'ought dis was what you wanted."

"Ah thought it was...but this life ain't enough. Ah need somethin' more."

She saw that her words had wounded him deeply, and tried to reassure him. "Remy," she said lovingly, raising her hand to stroke her cheek. "You are the love of mah life, an' nothin' will ever change that. Ah don't know what ah'd do without you."

"But..." he said, purposefully removing her hand from his cheek.

"But," she continued, starting to get visibly upset, "hangin' around all day fixing bikes ain't exactly the highest callin'...geez, Remy, ah thought you an' ah could talk this out without your takin' this personally."

"How could I not?"

"Ah'm sorry ah said anythin' to you," she growled, getting out of bed. "Forget it, ok, just forget it."

Rogue left the room in a huff, and Gambit gave her a few minutes to cool off. It was a stupid thing for him to say. He pursued other interests that had nothing to do with Rogue...why should he expect to be the be all and end all of her existence? He got to do pretty much whatever he wanted - he played pool and poker, hung out in bars, and broke into heavily guarded structures with state of the art security systems just so he wouldn't lose his edge - while she worked in a repair shop. Even though she liked the job, he understood that she found it less than satisfying.

He too got out of bed and searched the house for her. He found her in the dark of the kitchen, sitting at the table. "Come back to bed."

"Is that an order, or a request?"

"Please come back to bed," he urged, puting a hand on her shoulder. "I know you weren't talkin' about me...I wanna know what's been botherin' you. Please?"

Her desperation for comfort overrode her anger. "All right."

They returned to their room; Gambit got under the covers, but sat up with a pillow between his back and the headboard of the bed, while Rogue sat Indian-style above the covers. He held out his hand to her, and she took it in both of hers, gently caressing his fingers. He waited for her to continue.

"Somethin's missing in mah life," she reiterated, keeping her eyes on his hand. "Ah need to do somethin' else to make it worthwhile...that's what ah was talkin' to Bishop about. Ah've been thinkin' a' becomin' a policewoman."

"If dat's what you want, I'm behind you a hundred percent."

"But between all the trainin' an' the tests an' havin' to work mah way through the ranks, it'll take too long..."

"What's de rush?"

"Ah's somethin' ah need t'do now."

"Well," he thought for a moment, "what about goin' back to de X-Men?"

She raised her head. "We can't do that."

"Why not?"

"Did you suffer a serious blow to the head while you were gone, 'cause you're not makin' any sense. We're not X-Men anymore, Remy."

"De way I remember it, we weren't kicked out, we left."

"Well, yeah..." she agreed, "but you don't think that..."

"You have a selective memory, petite...Jean tried to get everybody back to the mansion, remember? Everybody. T' help train de new kids."

"Ah don't know..."

"An' you never will unless you give it a' if we decide it's not for us, we could always jus' pick up where we left off, bein' part of a team, fightin' off de bad guys."

"Without our powers? Ah don't think the professor would approve..."

"Dat never stopped us before."

She considered his was much better than her idiotic Batman plan. "Y'know, Sage and Bishop couldn't have gotten too far..."

"Now you're talkin'."

"Thanks, baby," she said, jumping out of bed. She was about to dig out the ruby lensed sunglasses she kept hidden away in her jewelry box, when she turned around and walked over to Gambit's side of the bed. "Ah knew ah kept you around for a reason."

She leaned forward and kissed him, intending to keep it short and sweet so she could contact Sage and make travel arrangements, but Gambit had her back on the bed and in his arms before she knew what was happening. "Hey, ah got things to do," she giggled as he left a trail of kisses down her neck.

"So do I," he said mischievously, kissing her quickly on the lips. But he backed off, giving her the option to return to her previous was so important to her that he thought she'd be annoyed if he distracter her any further.

He was wrong.

"Ah guess it'll keep 'til morning," she allowed, pulling him back to her.


Rogue got up early, though she let Remy sleep in. After the night he'd shown her, it was only fair she let him regain his strength. She went for a quick run on the beach, than sat down to a bowl of cereal and glass of orange juice. She was procrastinating. As excited as she was at the prospect of rejoining her teammates, she was afraid they'd reject her offer. When she finally gathered her courage and retrieved the sunglasses, it took her a few minutes more to go through with it.

"Rogue," the holographic image of Sage began, "how can I help you?"

"Ah was talkin' to Remy last night and..."

"You wish to offer us your assistance?"

The image of Rogue standing before Sage looked embarrassed. " did you know?"

"I had my own talk with Bishop last night...I suspected you would contact us, though I didn't realize it would be so soon."

"What d'ya think?"

"It will be more dangerous for both of you, but neither I nor Bishop have any objections aside from our concern for your safety."

The two women talked for several minutes, and by the time Gambit wandered sleepily into the kitchen, everything was settled. "I gotta go...the Cajun's finally awake. We'll see you later." She took off the glasses and gave Gambit a kiss on the cheek. "Mornin' sleepyhead."

He yawned. "Everyt'in's all set?"

"Yeah, so you better get packin, 'cause we gotta get goin' soon."

Gambit sat down and rubbed his eyes. "Uh huh."

"You sure you don't mind doin' this?"

"Chere, I may not feel as strongly as you, but I miss it too."

" 'Cause ah wouldn't blame you if you wanted to stay behind..."

"Can't get rid of me dat easily," he smiled. "We're toget'er on dis."

"You tellin' me ah'm stuck with you no matter what?" she laughed.

" 'Til de end of my days, Rogue," Gambit promised, taking her hand and kissing it, " 'til de end of my days..."


1, 2 - Black, by Sarah Mclachlan