Book One of
the Annwn Ryu Cycle
physicals. On top of that, she hated the odd pharmaceutical
clean-nauseating-abrasive scent of sterilized materials, the pinch and
probing of needles, and the whole idea of being under a microscope.
If her Papa had not asked her to stay, she would have
punched someone, manners or no.
Still in more than a bit of a teen-aged huff, she yanked a book
out of the alarmingly high pile and set to reading it. It seemed to use
extremely large words to explain very simple things - contusions for
cuts, abrasions for skinned knees - stupid. How were people suppose to
read this anyhow?
Flipping open the well-worn library copy of Grey's Anatomy,
she scanned the pages for another definition.
"Hypoglycemia," she read to herself.
"Having a lack of enough sugar in the blood."
Yay, does tha' mean I go eat chocolate 'til I pass out? Dis not
tell me nothin'! she thought, disgusted. She had already scanned seizure
disorder, epilepsy, and drug addiction, all of which gave her
information she already knew. It was beginning to irritate her.
Sliding off the hospital bed, the girl smacked the door with her
closed fist. "I know you hear me! You not here in the next five
minutes, I leavin'!" she yelled, tired of waiting for the two
The smooth, latchless door was a barrier that infuriated her.
Cayanne glared at it, feeling a sense of fury coiled deep within her.
Her fists clenched at her sides, as her crystal-blue-on-ebon eyes burned
All she felt was a drop of energy, as if she had fallen several
feet, a horrible smell, and almost a feel of being flung forward. She
hit the wall awkwardly, bounced off, and slid down. The girl wobbled to
her feet, and realized with some surprise that she was in the hall outside
the examination room.
She stared at the door, then at the wall, then back at the door.
Now thoroughly puzzled - and with curiosity aroused - the
teenager closed her eyes again. She concentrated.
Scowling, she paced up and down, peripherally aware of the
arrival of Doctor McCoy and Professor Xavier.
"Oh my stars!" whispered McCoy, obviously shocked.
Cayanne glared at him, felt a surge of frustrated anger - another
blast of stench, a drop, and she was back inside.
"Arrrrrgh!" she yelled. "Dammit!" Raising
her voice, the girl hollered, "Let me outta dis place! Or I break
de door down!"
The door slid open, and McCoy came over immediately, regarding
the youngster with his intelligent, compassionate eyes. "Cayanne,
do you feel all right?" he asked, gently.
"Oh, sure - perfect. You keep me locked in dis box
like some rabid possum and I supposed to be happy 'bout
it?!" she snapped. Putting her hands on her hips, she glared up at
both adults. "You think you can cage me, you got 'nother thing
comin'! Either you finish dis now, or we got serious problem!"
"Cayanne," Xavier attempted to soothe her.
"We aren't sure that you are healthy as of yet..."
"Lissen here now." growled the teen-ager. "I
supposed to be healthier stuck in dis place? You slower den I think if
you belive dat." Crossing her arms, she lifted her chin defiantly.
"You say go t' school, I try dat. You say stay on grounds, I try
dat. I not promise to stay here, an' I will fin' a way to
Genuinely startled, the mutant Professor replied, "Cayanne,
you are not a prisoner."
"Coulda fooled me!"
"You need treatment." he said, firmly. "You're
dehydrated, mildly hypoglycemic..."
"Don' start." snapped the girl. "I know I was
sick. Not sick now. Now, you gonna let me outta here?"
Xavier and McCoy exchanged bemused looks, then McCoy shrugged.
Relieved, Cayanne turned toward the door.
"But you'll have to follow the diet I'll prescribe."
said Hank, firmly.
The girl turned back, stared at him.
McCoy grinned at her. "I'll be sure to let your father
Cayanne unexpectedly grinned back at him, then was gone.
Hank turned to Xavier. "Did you see, Charles?" he
asked, as he gathered the records up from the hospital bed.
"Yes." Xavier folded his hands, his gaze turned
inwards. "For just one moment, I could have sworn she resembled
So, there was one success. the voice
was nebulous, a deep rumble that cut gashes in the darkness.
Three men were encompassed in that shadow. Two were large,
with the look of seasoned fighters, but the last was seated in a
wheelchair, forced to look up at the amorphous form that glowed
crimson-red before them.
"Yes." said the wheelchair-bound figure,
And it is in your custody? The softness of the voice
only added to the danger edging it.
Uncomfortably, the seated figure said, "Not
But? A trace of impatience. There is no but. A
shaft of red, spun with black, encompassing one of the men. The force of
it lifted him off the ground, a scream ripped from him before he was
literally torn inside out, forced to endure the agony of sheer force
turned on him. It took more than a minute before he - melted, skeletal
hand still raised in a mute plea.
Silky soft, the disembodied voice said, I will not see it
further damaged. You have failed me. However, you are still of some use.
Eyes, eyes of blood-red fire burned down on the paralyzed figure. Thus
by my sufferance do you continue to live. Do not fail me again. Bring me
my success. Return it to me undamaged. Destroy what stands in your way,
but make no mistake, my tool, that should you fail, all the fires of
Hell shall seem sweet comfort should you fail me once more.
Rouge waited several days before she finally approached
Gambit. It took that long to gather her thoughts.
It wasn't easy to find him, as he had taken to the forested area
of the estate, often in the company of Cayanne.
This time, she found him alone, sitting on flat stone near the
stream that ran through the grounds, starting silently into the trees.
He seemed lost in thought as she quietly approached, but when she
reached his position, he said quietly, "Beautiful view, oui?"
Startled, she almost lost her footing, and hovered a moment to
regain them. She had not felt so awkward since she was a girl.
"I suppose..." she began.
"Strange how we 'preciate things we don' see for a
while." he said, uncharacteristically solemn. "I go home to de
Bayou, but always come back and see dis." His sweeping gesture
indicated the serene glade. "De Bayou, it part o' me, but dis part
o' Gambit too. Strange, non?"
Now completely thrown off-guard, she sat down next to him, pulling
a knee up to her chest.
Gambit didn't look at her. "You have question for Gambit, ma
"Your daughter...." Rouge realized she had blurted it
out, but was helpless to stop it. "Her mother...she...." A
blush rose in her cheeks, but the Cajun affected not to notice.
"Gambit have no clue. Cayanne not mine by blood, Marie."
His gaze was now on her, his garnet eyes like gemstones in the coming
dawn. "Why, petit?" For a moment his expression was
full of pain and - something else. "She Gambit's daughter as much
as if she were mine. Could not love her more."
Rouge felt a surge of relief. She couldn't explain exactly why,
but she looked up at him, and somehow, read something in his eyes.
Normally, his eyes were so strange, so unique, they were
unreadable. But somehow, the rising moon caught them and revealed the
gaze not of the mutant, the Ragin' Cajun, but of the man. There was a
great deal more there than she had ever seen, fiery depths she had never
Gambit raised one gloved hand, gently caressed a strand of hair
off her forehead.
Rouge was suddenly terrified. Her powers...her curse....
But she couldn't move.
And in her heart, she really didn't want to.
"You ever hear it said, ma petit, dat sometimes all
you need is de soul?" Gambit's voice was very soft. Their faces
were perhaps an inch apart. "Ever'thing else, it come in
time." He shrugged slightly. "I not much o' a spiritual sort,
Marie - but even Gambit belive this."
She wanted to belive him, her heart pounding in her chest,
choking off the words.
Gambit's eyes closed, and he straightened. Remembering her choice
of his friend Peter Rasputin - who was unaffected by her powers in his
Colossus form, so recently dead - and perhaps his own experience of
being too deeply hurt.
He turned away.
"You go on back now, ma petit." he said, voice
seeming to float on the cool night air. "Not worry. Gambit still
feel de same for you as he always has. No games here, in dis place. I
teach Cayanne to always say her heart, now I do de same. Go on,
"Remy..." her own voice was painful to use.
He didn't turn. She realized he had stiffened up, spine straight,
as though standing at attention.
She caught his arm, turned him - and saw what she had never
expected to see.
Gambit was crying.
Oh, not loudly, or with any way most would see it, it was just
tears in his eyes, slowly streaking his cheeks. He lifted one hand,
dashed them impatiently away. Roughly, he snapped, "Why you think
Gambit go back to de Bayou so much? Dere family there, yes, but you
think I not want - want...." He spun away from her, hands clenched.
"Gambit cannot touch you, ma petit. And you..."
"Remy." Marie stepped in front of him, stared up into
his eyes. She was trembling. Partially in anger - at herself, at him,
and at the unkind Fates that had trapped her with this power that
endangered everyone she touched. In once moment, she forced herself to
look at her own heart, see it from all sides, face the hurts that were
and could be, and made a leap of faith.
"Remy, look at me." she said it as gently as she could.
He stared down at her, eyes now as unreadable as gemstones, as
distant as the moon.
She took a deep breath. "I loved Peter. He was my friend -
and I think I wanted to love him, since I could touch him.
I needed that." Her eyes searched his. "I tried to love a lot
of people, sugah, and I think - I think in my heart I was looking for
the courage to love you."
He blinked, and she stepped closer, gaining courage.
"And I do. You know that, don't you? Not as a brother, or as
a friend - though that's part of it - I just couldn't bear for my - my
power to - invade you." She was shaking. Gambit stepped
closer, a warm barrier against the cold. There's no turning back now.
she told herself. "That's what happens, Remy. I steal something
from people. I - reach inside them and take something away, even if just
for a minute or so. It's like...like rape." Tears streamed
down her cheeks. "I couldn't do that to you. But when others -
offered, I could because they weren't you..." She broke
down. The truth, ugly and painful, had left a terrible void, a wound
that was too deep to be easily healed.
Arms wrapped around her, and she felt the warmth of Gambit's
trenchcoat, heard the distant thunder of his heart. He spoke softly, in
a gentle voice so rare for the wild Cajun mutant that played every card
and put on a fearless face no matter where he went.
"Marie, when Gambit said he loved you, he meant forever. Dis
not ever go away." he said, softly. "I not care anymore, 'bout
de danger. Some 'tings worth dyin' for."
It was then Marie felt his lips on hers, a warm flash of
connection and - nothing. No pain from him, no loss, only a
connection slowly being made. She didn't understand it, felt his own
confusion, was aware of their hearts beating in tandem, their lives
momentarily lay bare to one another, powers touching, merging, growing,
a surge of sheer joy, a rock-steady love, her own fierce devotion
returned, and she was clinging to Gambit while supporting him.
Far away, perched in her favorite tree, a sleeping Cayanne woke
momentarily, smiled sleepily and mumbled, "Surprise, Papa. Love
you." And was promptly asleep again.