(Flashback - takes place after Uncanny X-Men #350)
Manhattan, where the X-Woman known as Rogue stands on a balcony one starry night, with her foster mother, the villainess Mystique standing nearby. Rogue tells Mystique that she isn’t her child, not a child at all. Rogue holds her hands out and exclaims that she wants her hands to be able to hold a lover without the fear that she will consume him. ‘And would you betray your own nature for something as fleeting - as ultimately meaningless - as love? You disgust me’ Mystique replies, using her metamorphic abilities to shift into the form of Rogue’s love - Gambit. ‘Don’t let your desire for a normal life with your beloved Gambit blind you to the truth’ Mystique adds.
‘Stop it, Mystique! Don’t mock me!’ Rogue exclaims as she punches Mystique through a window, reminding her that she left Gambit to die in Antarctica. ‘I made my choice!’ Rogue exclaims. ‘Your own instincts and interests over him? What other choice was there?’ Mystique asks as she shifts back to her default form. Mystique tells Rogue to be herself, for that is the only commandment there is.
The Australian Outback, specifically Maynards Plains, where the crew of the Boneyard Dog, a Shi’ar salvage vessel, has just attacked Professor X and Gambit, only to be confronted by Rogue. ‘Ah mean it, ugly. You touch him - you even dream about touching him - and Ah’m gonna park this big bucket right on your ugly face!’ Rogue tells the alien known as Horse, from inside the Boneyard Dog, its lights blaring, creating a blinding glow. Horse stands shocked, a large piece of rubble ready to bring down on the motionless Remy “Gambit” LeBeau. Sovel points to the blinding light, exclaiming to his comrade, Glitter, that his ship has been taken. ‘Because you didn’t lock the helm, you idiot!’ Glitter snaps. ‘Someone didn’t lock it. Let’s not bicker in front of the primitives’ Sovel suggests.
From inside the Boneyard Dog, the former X-Woman, Rogue, tells the aliens to throw their hands in the air, as she has a target lock on them, and her patience is running out. Suddenly, Horse moans and stumbles. ‘Horse! No!’ Glitter calls out to her companion. Horse begins pummeling the Boneyard Dog, exclaiming that he hates this planet. ‘Hate hate hate hate hate it!’ he declares. ‘Oh come on! One of these must be a weapons system!’ Rogue mutters to herself as she searches the control panel for some kind of weapon, while Horse threatens to peel her like a fruit. He is suddenly knocked over though, by a blast of energy from the Boneyard Dog. Rogue has clearly worked out the weapons system. Sovel aims a gun at his ship, while Jat raises his hands into the air, offering to talk.
Jat suggests that the strum the beserk of peace, but edges closer to the Boneyard Dog, enabling him to be in Dermware range, which means he can take control of the Boneyard Dog, and does so by locking the helm and opening the bay doors. ‘Damn!’ Rogue exclaims, while Glitter thanks her teammate and races inside the Boneyard Dog, declaring that she can take it from here. ‘She hurt Horse. I think I’ll shake her hand. Then cut her throat!’ Glitter boasts, before entering the bridge of the Boneyard Dog. ‘Sovel never lets anyone sit in the Captain’s chair!’ Glitter exclaims as she confronts Rogue. ‘Is that right?’ Rogue retorts defiantly. ‘Yeah, he’s got a real thing about It. Kind of burns me up, really - that you got to break that rule before I did!’ Glitter exclaims as she kicks Rogue in the head.
Mystique’s consciousness talks to Rogue, pointing out that Glitter is stronger than Rogue - enhanced by drugs or bionics. ‘Ah noticed’ Rogue replies, before Mystique begins to offer to take over, but Rogue turns her down quicker than she can get the offer out. ‘“Be yourself”, right?’ Rogue reminds Mystique as she ducks down and trips Glitter up, adding that being herself is what she came here to do. ‘And there ain’t enough Shi’ar in the whole damn Empire to stop me!’ Rogue exclaims as she smacks Glitter in the face. Glitter adjusts something on her glove, and grabs Rogue’s throat, causing Rogue to scream as she is seemingly electrocuted.
Outside the Shi’ar vessel, Jat remarks that he hopes Glitter is okay, while Sovel mutters that he hopes nobody sat in his chair. Moments later, Glitter appears on the ramp of the Boneyard Dog and throws Rogue at their feet. ‘Here, Sovel. You do the honors’ Glitter tells him, before announcing that she is going to see if the Boneyard Dog picked up anymore fleas. ‘Do the honors? You mean I have to kill it myself?’ Sovel asks as he and Jat walk onto the ramp of the Boneyard Dog, unaware that Xavier is stirring on the ground, some distance away, recovering from where Sovel attacked him. Xavier crawls towards Danger, and whispers into her system a password, which causes her to re-activate.
Sovel holds a weapon to Rogue’s head and remarks that it is only fair that the Captain should pitch in from time to time. ‘I like to think I’ve got the common touch’ he remarks, when, suddenly, he screams out, as a blast of energy rips across his hand. Sovel, Glitter and Jat all turn to the direction of the blast, where Danger now stands, her body slightly changed - weapons and accessories complimenting her. ‘It took me years, Captain Redhand - to attain the freedom you took from me. Now what should I do to make sure I keep it this time?’ Danger asks angrily.
‘Kill you, machine! Kill kill kill k -’ Horse exclaims as he lunges at Danger, unable to finish his sentence as Danger bombards him with dozens of laser beams which shred through his body. Horse collapses in front of his teammates, and tells Glitter that he is going to need happy pills. Jat informs his comrade that he doesn’t think there are that many happy pills in the quadrant, while Sovel suddenly orders the Boneyard Dog to make a blind jump. ‘We’re gone!’ he exclaims as he, Glitter, Horse, Jat and their ship begin to fade from view. ‘To be honest - I never liked this world much in the first place!’ Sovel mutters, clutching his now handless arm.
Danger looks around, and sees Rogue, Xavier and Gambit, all lying on the ground. She walks towards Xavier, her hand ready to strike him, when suddenly, Rogue calls out to him: ‘No! Danger, don’t!’ But, Danger explains that she is cauterizing Xavier’s wounds to prevent infection. ‘This place is very remote - a long way away from the nearest medical facility’ Danger points out. Rogue pauses, before replying ‘Yeah. That’s sort of what Ah was looking for. The peace and quiet’.
Later, night has fallen and Rogue, Xavier, Gambit and Danger have gathered around a small fire. ‘I believe I understand a great many things - better than I did before’ Danger announces. ‘Including why I didn’t strike off your chains as soon as I knew what you were?’ Xavier asks. ‘Your caution was logical’ Danger replies. ‘My cowardice, somewhat less so’ Xavier tells her, adding that he wishes he had the courage to act sooner. ‘It took courage to set me free today’ Danger points out. Xavier remarks that it is ironic, as he came here to cure Rogue, while Danger came to use Rogue as a weapon. ‘But in the end, you diagnosed her condition - and its cause - with more insight than I ever showed’.
Danger replies that she is a machine - that she computes probabilities and extrapolates from known data. Danger remarks that it is a fact that Rogue first used her powers involuntarily - before they were fully formed - before she could know - or control - what she was doing. ‘Cody Robbins’ Rogue exclaims. ‘Exactly. And from that moment, Rogue. You were changed’ Xavier tells the former X-Woman, who asks ‘Changed? How?’. Danger explains that Rogue’s mind was partitioned, like the city of Berlin, after the second World War, or like a hard drive when it’s made to run different operating systems. ‘The boy’s thoughts on one side of the wall, yours on the other’.
Rogue asks about Ms Marvel, to which Xavier replies was the same process again, but on a larger scale. ‘Another partition, another wall in your psyche’ he adds while stoking the fire. Charles gets to his feet and remarks that he thinks the effect of these partitions has been to paralyze the development of Rogue’s powers - to freeze them in that nascent stage. ‘They never developed as they were meant to develop. But now -’ he begins, but Rogue interrupts, telling him not to make any more promises that he cannot keep. But Xavier assures Rogue that he is not the man he was, and that he promises nothing. ‘But let me try’ he asks. Rogue pauses and looks at the founder of the X-Men, before replying ‘Okay, then. Try’.
Soon, Gambit sits on the front porch of the old hotel, while Rogue lies on a bar table inside, with Xavier and Danger standing over her. Xavier asks Danger if she understands what he is asking of her, to which Danger replies that Xavier wants her to maintain Rogue’s autonomic functions - particularly heartbeat and respiration - in case his incursion into her mind takes him deep enough to disrupt these processes. ‘Exactly. Monitor brain activity, too, and warn me if it starts to decrease’ Xavier adds.
Rogue asks her companions if they could save the talk about her automatic functions until after she is unconscious. ‘Is Remy here?’ Rogue adds, to which Xavier informs her that he is waiting outside, guarding the building against unspecified threats. Xavier tells Rogue that he thinks Gambit feels reluctant to raise issues that might influence her decision. Rogue looks up at Xavier, assuring him that she already made her decision, but that she understands what Gambit means. ‘Okay, Professor, but me under!’ Rogue tells Xavier, who explains that she will not be unconscious, but aware of her surroundings throughout, and that they will continue to talk.
(Shown with flashback images inside Rogue’s mind)
Xavier states that his voice may develop a certain hollow echo, to which Rogue tells him, through her thoughts, that it feels like old times - too much so. ‘This must be the ten thousandth time she has gone swimming around inside her memories. Indeed, various scenarios play out before Rogue and Xavier - like her time in Japan with Wolverine, being rescued by Storm, battling Guido on Muir Island, and being overcome by Pandemic, among others. Xavier reminds Rogue that his mind has been rebuilt and dismantled since he last entered her mind - therefore it is a very different mechanism now. ‘And this time, I’m looking for something specific’ he adds.
Xavier passes more memories - Rogue being beaten as a child, then kissing Magneto as an adult, among others. Charles remarks that if the partitions are still in Rogue’s mind, then they will be visible to him. ‘As discontinuities in the gradients of your memories. Polydimensional fracture points’ he explains. ‘And if you find them? What then?’ Rogue asks. Xavier watches Illyana’s funeral play out in Rogue’s mind, and explains to Rogue that, for the most part, he will tear the partitions down, and reintegrate her mind so that her powers can progress - after a decade-long hiatus - to their mature stage. Xavier points out that it won’t be all that straight-forward, to which Rogue asks ‘It won’t? How come?’, to which Xavier replies that most of the walled-up areas of Rogue’s mind are fossil remnants - empty since the messiah child touched her and cleaned out her consciousness.
‘But one is still inhabited!’ Xavier announces as he comes to Mystique. Xavier enters that partition, and greets Mystique, who tells Xavier that she knows what he has come here for. ‘Do you expect me to go quietly?’ the long-time thorn in the X-Men’s side adds. Charles tells her that is exactly what he expects, as she has no life here. ‘You’re just an echo in her mind’ he tells Mystique, adding that she will not flinch from the truth here, as he knows that is not Mystique’s way. ‘I told her not to go to you!’ Mystique exclaims, holding a dagger towards the psychic impression of Xavier. ‘I know’ Xavier replies, while Mystique exclaims that he would only drive her and Rogue apart - make Rogue hate her. ‘I never wanted that’ Xavier assures Mystique. ‘Just do it. Don’t vomit your piety in my face. For her sake, do it. But I spit on you, and all your -’ Mystique snarls at Xavier, who uses his powers to eradicate Mystique’s presence in Rogue’s mind.
Rogue grimaces, then seemingly passes out. ‘Rogue!’ Gambit calls out in concern. Danger grabs Remy’s hand and tells to be calm and not to interfere, assuring him that Rogue merely sleeps. ‘Sleeps? She looks -’ Remy begins, but Xavier also assures Gambit that Rogue is fine, and points out that what she needs now is a great deal of time. ‘Her mind is finding its natural state, after many years of imposed fragmentation’ Xavier adds, remarking that the process will be rapid, and inevitable - the more so because it has been so long delayed. Xavier explains that it will also be traumatic and draining, so he wants Rogue to wake when she is ready to wake.
Time passes, and Gambit sits on the floor near to the table where Rogue lies. Suddenly, ‘R-Remy?’ Rogue asks as she wakes. ‘Rogue!’ Gambits exclaims as he leaps up to her and asks her how she feels. ‘Like Ah’m listening to the silence after a noise just stopped’ Rogue replies, rubbing her head, adding that now she can’t remember what the noise was. Rogue looks at her gloved hands and tells Remy that her skin tingles so intense that it almost hurts. ‘Whatever the Professor did, Ah don’t think it worked!’ Rogue exclaims, to which Remy points out that there is only one way to find out.
‘No, Remy. Ah couldn’t bear to think someone else’s thoughts, right now. Not even yours’ Rogue replies. ‘Ah think Ah’d shatter like glass. Don’t make me try!’ Rogue adds, before getting off the table and making her way to the door, remarking that she is going to talk to the Professor. ‘Maybe it’s just more complicated than he thought’ Rogue adds. ‘Maybe - he can tell me what went wrong’.
‘Nothing went wrong’ Xavier replies soon after. ‘The procedure was a complete success’ he assures Rogue, who replies that she doesn’t feel any better, any more in control. While Danger busies herself with the jet nearby, Xavier tells Rogue that, with respect, she has no experience of control, and therefore, nothing to compare this to. Rogue rubs her gloved hands and tells Charles that her skin is on fire, like every nerve is caught up on barbed wire and twisting to get free. ‘That can’t be right!’ she exclaims. ‘Learn to control it’ Xavier tells Rogue, who asks ‘How? How do I do that?’ Xavier tells Rogue that it is her power, in its mature form, but that there is no owner’s manual. ‘What happens next is up to you’. Rogue stares back at Xavier.
Later, Rogue sits atop a hill, looking out over the beautiful Australian Outback. Gambit climbs the cliff-side and hands Rogue a flask of water. Rogue smiles and thanks Remy, telling him that she appreciates it. ‘You’ve been up here for ten straight hours. You feel like you’re getting anywhere?’ Gambit asks. ‘Yeah. Maybe. I don’t know. It’s different than it was’ Rogue replies. Getting to her feet, Rogue remarks that the Professor is right - that she doesn’t know what it would feel like to be in full control of her power, that she can only go on instinct. ‘Ah’m never gonna be sure - totally sure - until Ah try it out’.
‘I’ll leave you to it’ Gambit replies as he begins to leave, but Rogue calls out to him, asking if he is still willing to be her guinea pig. ‘You even have to ask?’ Remy replies. ‘Then I’d like to give it a shot’ Rogue tells him, putting her gloved hands to his face, Rogue smiles and remarks ‘Here goes nothing - cher’, as they lean in - and kiss. Sometime later, the kiss ends. ‘Well okay then’ Rogue remarks, smiling. ‘Oui’ Remy replies. ‘That seems to be - conclusive’ Rogue adds. ‘I’d say so’ Remy agrees.
Rogue closes her eyes and tells Gambit that it felt very right, adding that she is not ready to talk about the two of them yet. ’Ah don’t know how ah feel right now. About you, or about me, even’ Rogue explains. Gambit puts his hands on Rogue’s face and tells her that when she is ready, to tell her, and he will be right here - unless she sends him away. ’Ah’m not inclined to do that’ Rogue replies. ’Then we’re good’ Gambit tells her.
Watching from their jet, Danger remarks to Xavier that Rogue weeps. ’I know. I assure you she’s happy, all the same’ Charles tells Danger. Danger replies that for human, extremes of emotion tend to short-circuit the normal physical responses. ’You are very hard to read then. Even harder to predict’. Xavier smiles and tells Danger that she is right, of course. ’But I don’t see that as anything to complain about. If anything, I’d say…amen’. And with that, Rogue and Gambit begin to walk down the cliff-side, arms around each other, as the sun shines down upon them.