Summary: This story was inspired by Uncanny X-Men #236,
wherein Rogue faces a scene much like this one. In that issue, Carol rescued
her from her ghosts because they still needed each other. Now, with Carol
finally gone, Rogue must face them on her own. (written in 1998)
Author Note: This is the first fan fiction story that I ever wrote. I've gotten
a lot more polished since writing it, but this story is still worth the read
for its message if nothing else.
Disclaimer: All characters featured in this story belong to Marvel and are used
without permission, blah, blah, blah :) You all know the drill.
Alone. She has always been alone, ever since she can remember, in some way or
another. As a child, it was being orphaned, as a teen and adult, her mutant
ability that she could never control. It is dark here...(safe?) within the
depths of her soul. Retreating to the most primal of states, so deep within
herself that she (does not even want to?) cannot even find the road home,
traveling through the darkened streets of her subconscious mind. The thought
catches…and begins to take hold, the images forming reality around her. Slowly
bleeding into life, appears a darkened city street, surrounded by twisted,
dilapidated buildings, crumbling with their own age and rot. As silent and
barren as a tomb, she knows that nothing living dwells here. Any life it might
have carried once, fled long ago. Blackness all about...shadows within
shadows…not even a lit window to offer comfort or call a wayward soul home. "Too
dark," she thinks…and immediately there is light. The neons flare all about
her, proclaiming their tacky and sometimes profane messages in a rainbow of
color from one end of the street to the other. Bathed in their harsh light, she
squints, truly seeing her surroundings for the first time.
There is no sky…simply a dark pall which hangs above the city like a
disembodied soul, discernable only where it meets the even blacker horizon in
the distance. Not even a breeze stirs upon the humid streets, the air about her
almost fetid as it clings to her form like second skin. Loathing its touch, she
brushes at her arms, hoping to drive away the unclean feeling…but it remains,
as if it had (always been there?) a life of its own. Trash litters the gutters,
lining the city street like forgotten treasures cast aside long ago. Her nose
wrinkles in disgust as the smells assail her, decaying matter and debris
fouling the air with their pungent odors, somehow only worsened by the faint
scent of cheap perfume which fails to mask the stench. A concrete garbage bin,
a graveyard to an era past. Some of these buildings may have been beautiful
once, even majestic, rising high beyond the horizon as if to touch the sky. Now
they resemble little more than broken, twisted fingers, grasping desperately
upward into the darkness as if for freedom The entire cityscape, jagged and
haphazard as it is, gives no illusions of grandeur…no, this is the bottom of
the barrel. The poorest and cheapest of big city back streets.
Despite the oppressive heat, she brings her arms up to cradle herself, as if to
warm (protect?) herself. "Seedy neighborhood," she thinks. "Thought
ah had more class." The thought
startles her, the very cohesiveness of it. She had been drifting within
herself, with no line to hold her. Out of mind, out of time, within a
comforting blackness that she had thought she could quickly grow used to. There
was no guilt here, no reminder of the sins and betrayals of her past. Suddenly,
she realizes, she has come aground. "But why here?" she wonders.
"After all ah been through in mah life, this is the best my subconscious
can do to represent itself? Is this all there is inside of me?" Again, she
rubs her hands against her shoulders, as if feeling a sudden chill.
"You ask me, you got it just right, kid. This neighborhood suits you just
fine. Trash for the trash."
The voice comes from behind her, but she does not even need to turn to
recognize its owner. "Carol Danvers," she whispers, her voice so shaky and
thin that it is barely audible, even upon the still air of the night. Her heart
freezes in her chest, blood turning suddenly cold, and she rubs her hands
against her arms vainly to warm them, knowing she cannot escape this, nothing
can save her from this.
"That's right, 'shugah'," Carol's sarcasm is thick as she moves around
her, into her line of vision. Still wearing her Ms. Marvel costume of years
ago, she appears almost bigger than life, a colorful splash of paint upon a
dingy backdrop. Long legged, beautiful and powerful, Carol Danvers had once
been the epitome of a super-heroine, representing the ideals of such as an
Avenger. But no longer. Smoothing her
long blond hair back from her face, Carol gives the girl a wicked smile before
continuing. "Long time, no see, 'shugah'. I was beginning to think you had
forgotten your old and bestest buddy."
"You're dead, Carol. Go away," she whispers, turning her back on the woman
again. "You and me, we parted ways a long time ago after the Siege
"Ah, yes," responds Carol, dryly. "That was the point at which
you forever destroyed Carol Danvers, once and for all." She stalks in a
slow circle about the younger girl, like a killer moving in for its prey.
"How very thoughtful of you to finally finish the murder you began so many
She closes her eyes, gathering her emotions, her thoughts, trying to focus
beyond the fear she feels, beyond the bone-numbing cold which has settled into
her frame. Colder and colder as Carol moves ever closer to her with slow,
deliberate steps. "We been through this," she snaps through chattering
teeth. "You know ah never meant for that to happen."
"Like you never meant to leave the cajun boy to die in Antarctica,
'shugah'?" she grins maliciously, bringing her face within inches of the younger
girls, watching her fallen expression with something like wicked glee.
"But it did happen. It happened and now you have to live with it. With
both of us. What you feel now is just a taste of what he felt…of what I
endured. Think you can live with that? Think I'm going to let you?" she laughs
aloud, though there is no humor in the sound, sliding around behind the girl.
"Our time together might be done, 'shugah'….but rest assured, we'll never
be even. And you'll never be free.." the voice draws closer, breath
hissing against the back of her neck. "You may be rid of me, but you can
never be rid of your memories. And I'll
make sure you never forgive yourself for all the grief you've ever
caused." The voice fades, the last word drawing out in a long, sibilant
sound, its echo dying away long before the emotion it provokes does.
The feeling begins to return to her limbs as Carol's presence fades, the chill
slowly receding. "So cold….is that how Remy felt?" she wonders dully. A
passing vision of his still form lying on the barren plains of Antarctica, a
stabbing pain through her heart, and then she steels herself, waiting for the
stinging retort she knows will come. But none does. Carol was gone, as if she
had never been, and that was as true in life as it was in here. Carol Danvers
was gone. Wiped out of existence years ago by a young girl who didn't know the
limitations of her own powers.
"Alone again," she thinks, eyes traveling up the long city street
aimlessly, not really seeing the vision before them. Her thoughts drift back to
that summer night…so hot, so reminiscent of the night here. Just another
job…another run for Mystique and the Brotherhood. But it hadn't worked out that
way, had it? No, she had remained in physical contact with Carol Danvers for too
long, and the transfer of the woman's abilities and memories had become
permanent. In an instant, in a horrible, unexpected accident, both lives were
forever changed. She had stripped Carol Danvers of all her powers,
memories…everything that made her who she was. For her part, her mind could not
assimilate the two dramatically different psyches, and she lost any sense of
self she had ever had. A fitting punishment, perhaps, for a crime that was
almost the same as murder. Yes, she had murdered Carol Danvers as much as if
she had driven a knife through her heart. And then tried to murder her again
when Carol's psyche was finally separated from her own. With only enough life
force between the two of them to sustain one being, she had fought for her very
life against the former Ms. Marvel. She would have lost, too, if not for the
intervention of Magneto. Magneto…Joseph. His image flashes before her…his
steel-blue eyes losing none of their intensity within her mind. So handsome…so
tormented. A man with a past he cannot remember, and she with one she would
give anything to forget.
"Ah, Joseph…ah wish…" she trails off the whisper, not quite (daring?)
knowing how to finish her plea. His image grows solid before her, taking on
substance even as she watches, until he is almost as real as herself. She
stares at him for long, silent moment, thinking, remembering, even as she
realizes that he is not truly there. Less real than Carol somehow…more
ethereal. More a ghost of memory than a true representation of him.
"What, Rogue? What would you wish?" he asks, his voice as kind and gentle
as she has always remembered it, smiling as he reaches up to touch…touch….touch
"No! Don't touch me, Joseph," she shrinks away, recoiling from his hand as
if she had been struck.
"A li'l late for that, petite, no?" comes the mocking voice now, deeper,
more baritone with its thick accent.
Horrified to the core of her soul, she cannot help herself as her eyes rise,
riveted upon the rapidly changing face of Joseph. The sweet smile fading,
replaced by a cocky, half-smirk, steel-blue eyes glowing brighter until they
burn like red-hot coals. The features sharper, more defined, though no less
handsome in their own rugged way. "Remy…" she whispers, at once terrified
and relieved, repulsed and yet drawn to him.
"Thas right, petite. Nice to you haven't forgotten me…even if you did
leave me to die," he continues in that easy voice of his, the one that oozes
like melted butter, soothing even the most troubled soul. The voice that wooed
her, that made its way into her heart and became part of her. Oh, how she loved
(loves?) that voice.
His words strike home, and she crumples before him, knees going weak and giving
out as she slumps to the ground. "You're not really here," she says
flatly, her voice lacking the conviction of her words.
"Yes, well…," he makes a sweeping motion with one hand through the air, a
cigarette appearing between his fingers as he reaches the arc of his movement.
Drawing it back down to his lips, a bright flame appears in the darkness and
dies, leaving behind a glowing ember. Exhaling smoke in a curling blue-gray
cloud, he continues. "Dat not entirely true, petite. No one knows better
den me dat whatever a body takes into it, whatever deeds a body does, it keeps
a bit of. Sometimes it's only a memory, sometimes it's only a stain or two, and
sometimes, enough to blacken an entire soul. Everything we take in leaves
something behind, petite."
She stares at the ground, eyes fixed on the tips of his boots as he speaks, not
daring to meet his eyes. The silence stretches between them like a chasm, yet
another barrier she cannot break. Finding herself without words as her mind
reels with the implications of his statement, she begins to retreat even
further, willing this world away, seeking a deeper place, a darker place, a
place where she will not have to face this…face him. She cannot. The city
shimmers about her, growing dim for a moment, almost flickering…as if its power
supply had suddenly been cut short. And before her, one booted toe begins to
"Solid…" she manages to croak, staring with disbelief at the form of
Gambit still before her. The street beneath his feet, almost transparent,
intangible…and yet, he stands upon it, solid and real as she. "How?" she
wonders aloud, and regrets the question the moment it leaves her lips. The city
snaps back into focus as she finds her total attention upon him, escape
"So, glad you asked petite," he replies, his smile evident in his tone of
voice. "Dat's what I been tryin' to tell you. See, everyone you ever
touched, everyone you ever took into you through their memories and powers, dey
all still here. Beast would probably call it some kind of psychic residue…a
small piece of each person left behind as they passed through your mind. Me…I
just call'em ghosts." He pauses for a long moment, as if to let the words
sink in. "And in here, chere, dey just as real as you are."
"Y-you mean…I stole a tiny piece of every one of them?" she asks timidly,
still trying to evade the truth even as her heart sinks within her chest.
The sly smirk deepens, one corner of his mouth curling up into a tiny sneer.
"But petite, dat's what you do. You're a thief, just like me. Only you
steal lives instead of purses or hearts. You reaped a real coop when you got
me, though….heart and life. You took it all away chere. Years of struggling,
trying to be a better man den I was, learning to love…..and you destroyed it
all for me in less time than it takes to tell."
The tears brim within her eyes, threatening to spill over in a torrent of
emotion. Concentrating, she wills them back, holding them in check, knowing
somehow, that if she does not, she will lose herself completely in them.
"Remy…ah…ah'm so…" she breaks off, not quite knowing how (daring?) to
finish her sentence.
He hunkers down, balancing his weight on the balls of his feet as he wraps his
arms about his knees. His voice is almost tender as he speaks, one gloved
fingertip touching a lone tear as it escapes the confines of her lashes.
"What, petite? Sorry? Is dat what you were going to say? How sorry you
are?" Withdrawing his hand, he shakes his head, uttering a dry, bitter
laugh. "Darlin', you ain't seen sorry yet…" his voice grows low, more
conspiratual. He gives a sly glance to either side, then rises, the
ever-present smirk growing even wider as he stands.
"See, I been here for quite a while now. Had plenty of time to make some
friends…and ain't none of them too happy wit you, petite." With a grin, he
steps back, a shadowy crowd suddenly forming on the empty city street.
They are distorted at first, like images glimpsed through curved glass, slowly
becoming more defined. She recognizes each silhouette, each curve and nuance of
every individual. Juggernaut, Captain America, Thor, Thing, Wolverine, Storm…so
many of them, their numbers growing even as she watches. Every person she ever
touched, every memory or ability she ever stole, all of them, still here within
her, like ghosts from the past. Some of them appear very faint, almost
transparent, others so vivid and real, complete to the most minute detail. She
raises her hands (against?) to them, as
if to (ward them off?) plead their forgiveness, her mouth opening as if to
speak, yet no words spill forth. Any apology locked tight within her throat,
the only sound she hears is that of her beating heart, its rhythm suddenly
leaping forward with adrenaline. She knows what comes next…oh yes, she knows
all too well. It is what she herself would seek, if she had been violated so.
Suddenly, a chill wind rises, sweeping over her body and raising the hairs upon
her neck. She shudders and wraps her arms tightly about herself, bowing her
head so that she will not have to watch, accepting her fate silently. She
pauses for just a moment to ponder the irony of the sudden chill…after all,
revenge is a dish best served cold…