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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24

Between the Darkness and the Light - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by Amanda Sichter
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 1

To: storm@ xmen.com

Subject: {blank}


In the end it was always you.

Beyond Rogue, beyond Xavier, beyond the dream, beyond the friendships I managed to build with some of the X-Men, in the end it always came back to you.

I joined because of you, I stayed because of you, I took wounds and would have died because of you. And now I leave because of you.

I know you've heard the worst possible tales of my "trial". The fears you expressed in your last e-mail made that clear. And so I stay away, because I could never bear to see the disappointment in your eyes when you looked at me. More than anything that keeps me away.

All I can ask is that you keep faith in me - that you trust me like you have done in the past. All is not what it seems - what was said at that trial was not all of the truth. Sometimes I question whether the truth of my life is not perhaps worse than what was shown that day. But that is a question for another time.

Just remember that you made me a true X-Man. You took this Cajun thief and made him into a man who would lay down his life to advance Xavier's dream one tiny step closer to reality. That cannot be taken away from me - or from you. One day I hope to make you proud of the man I have become.

I must admit to some disappointment with the others, however. I realise there are many things going on (is Bishop back yet? He is not dead, chere, I know it) but it seems that my being left to die in the Antarctic wastes has been met with a certain indifference, if not outright delight, by some of the other X-Men. I do not blame Rogue - I loved her dearly, but she has never reacted entirely rationally to moments of great emotional distress, and evil things were done to her during that trial. I must admit that I did not expect her to dump me in the Antarctic and tell me to walk home, but it is generally consistent with the way she has treated me previously. Thank you for coming to look for me - I wish I could've gotten the message to you sooner that I had got out of there.

But the others - I must confess to bitterness, my 'Ro. They are all so idealistic, so determined to save the world, to follow the dream and be good little soldiers - but I can just die and they would not lift a finger to save me. They will take in Joseph despite his crimes, Marrow despite the fact she is a homicidal psychopath, Sabretooth because he might 'get better', Rogue despite her past, Wolverine despite his present, Maggot despite knowing nothing about him. The Professor can become the greatest villain the world has known, but can be forgiven - still loved. But I can give myself utterly to the dream, fight beside them until I can't stand up - and I am refuse, to be thrown away when someone drags a little of my past from me. And you wonder why I did not tell you of it before?

I'm sorry, my friend. That last paragraph was terrifyingly self-pitying, an emotion I'm just no good at. Self-loathing, yes, self-pitying, non. Just let it rest with the fact that I am bitter - and that the X-Men will believe lies about one of their own - when it suits them.

Ah well, enough of my vetch. I'm back in the States now, just drifting for the time being. It seems you made me an X-Man for a little too long - without the fixed compass point that was "the dream" I wander aimlessly. But I must admit that the thieving is calling me - the siren song of the pinch never truly dies does it, my light-fingered friend? I may put out feelers for a contract soon. I'll keep you informed.

For now - well, whenever it rains I think of you and can almost fool myself into believing that it does so because you mourn my leaving the X-Men. Remember me in the darkest nights, because that is when you are the only star in my sky. I hope one day that you are the light that leads me home.

Trust me and I will repay your faith.

Ever yours


Remy LeBeau drifted through the streets of Chicago like a ghost. He hadlearned before he was six how to move in a crowd like smoke, disturbing no-one, interesting no-one, leaving no memories behind. And he had his psychic shields clamped down so tightly that his presence did not even register on the astral plane.

A man without substance, he thought, his mouth twisting wryly at the thought.

It felt true. He had never wanted to be a hero, had craved for no more than peace and space and loneliness. Instead he had been drawn to protect a young thief whom he had come to think of as both younger sister and apprentice and then had found her to be a mutant heroine who had become the best friend he could ever have had. With her guidance he had become a part of "the dream", had become hero and outlaw both, had found a love that he thought would be forever, and then had found it crashing down around him in the space of a kiss.

He had never thought he would feel so empty. Get a grip, Gambit, he thought to himself, you never expected it to last anyway. It was a fairy-tale, a dream for lost children, a second-rate novel where the villain's soul is saved by the love of a beautiful woman - or two beautiful women, if you count Rogue. I should have expired gracefully somewhere in some pointlessly heroic gesture before they could learn how tarnished my soul really was. Then the hero and heroine could have lived happily ever after and everyone could have put nice flowers on my grave and thought how wonderful is the redeeming power of love. Instead, you've been found out and cast out - the bitter, twisted lieutenant who whispers treason in the ear of the king - the shadow in the heart of the ivory tower who must be expunged. Live with it because it was the role you were born to play.

But somewhere in the dark parts of his soul, in the places he had pushed so far down that they only ever surfaced in dreams a voice whispered, You don't deserve this. But it was so soft and he'd ignored it so long that now he couldn't even hear it.

He woke from his reverie when he felt his body arrive at his destination. One of the side-effects of his spatial-perception powers was a complete inability to get lost. Once Gambit had been somewhere the contours of the landscape were etched into his perception and he could walk blindfolded through a labyrinth the second time. He found that it saved him a hell of a lot of money on road-maps.

He looked up at the skyscraper that towered above him, letting his gaze drift up to where the roof met the sky. Fifty floors up - and beside it, the building that only towered forty-nine floors into the sky. It was the biggest weakness in Lynch's set-up and one he planned to exploit to the full. He straightened his tie and stepped into the foyer of the building.

Confidently, he strode to the security desk and presented his pass, the one that showed he worked in the Cincinnati branch of the company. He quickly explained that he was Michael Ribot and that he was there for a meeting with a person in marketing, one Anne Summers. The guard checked the computer listing of expected visitors - the same one that Gambit had hacked the night before and placed the fictitious meeting on - and directed 'Michael' to the 49th floor. Gambit reflected, rather smugly he admitted, that a little preparation could make a pinch easy as he rode the elevator up to 49. Once there, he quickly made his way to the fire stairs, turned off the alarm with a timed jammer and ran up the stairs to the roof.

He breathed in the freedom of the outside air as he stripped out of his business suit, revealing his colours beneath. He discarded the clothes, tinted glasses and pass, hiding them inside a black bag and placing them under the air-conditioning units. He wouldn't be using this building as an exit. He checked that he had all the tools he needed, either concealed inside his body armour or in the flat pack that he wore across his stomach. And then he stepped to the edge of the roof and looked down.

His eyes locked on the roof of the building opposite. It was little more than ten feet below him and over forty feet away, but Gambit didn't doubthe could make the jump. Until his eyes slid down from the roof to the city street so far below, and his heart skipped a beat.

So inviting, he thought. Even I could contrive to die if I fell fifty floors straight down. For an instant a black and overwhelming depression pushed at Gambit, urging him into the leap. Oblivion beckoned, the cool, black nothingness that would take away the pain, the loss, the fearful knowledge of what he was and what he had done that gnawed constantly at his sanity. He doubted his body would be recognisable after the fall and knew that he would become just another John Doe. In death he could be released from what he was, unmourned, unremarked, free.

''Ro' he said softly, an anguished, unconscious cry, a prayer to the only bright thing left in his life. And slowly peace stole over him, took away some of the despair and made suicide an unthinkable option. Gambit stepped back from the edge, away until he flexed his knees and blasted into a swift, powerful run and then a leap that saw him land on the roof opposite, with the insouciant ease of a cat. And then he set to work at getting in.

Gambit crouched in the space above the ceiling tiles and considered his next move. It had taken him thirty minutes longer than he had expected to get this far - Lynch had been upgrading his security. Now the question was whether to walk in through the door, or drop through the ceiling tiles. Gambit was pondering this when he heard the other occupant of the office walk out, shutting the door behind him.

Gambit grinned wryly. Perfect opportunity, he thought, and a security system like Lynch's deserves a flamboyant entrance. He reached down and silently lifted the ceiling tile and moved it to one side. He disabled the laser alarm-trip that crossed the space he was going to pass through and dropped down through the ceiling to land noiselessly in front of Lynch's desk. Gambit's grin widened even further at the outraged expression on Lynch's face.

'Been upgradin' your security, homme,' he said, his voice amused. 'If it keep getting harder to get in, I start to t'ink you don' like me.'

'How the hell did you get in, Gambit?' said Lynch, his voice as intense as a shout. 'I had Dortmund check out my new systems and he couldn't get in. How the bloody hell did you do it?'

Gambit shrugged. 'So your systems can keep out the second-best t'ief in theworld. Surely dat should keep you satisfied. It's not like I ever goin' to break in for real, neh?'

Lynch scowled. 'I don't like anyone getting in when I don't want them to.You are going to tell me how you got in - or I'll find out by getting Dortmund to follow your trail back. Don't want the man finding out your secrets, do you Gambit?' Lynch's grin was nasty.

'I covered my tracks, Lynch,' Gambit said, steel in his voice. He never reacted well to being threatened - or the voice of authority. 'Dere's no way Dortmund will ever be able to work out what I did. And you know I don' do security work. Why would I make it easier for anyone to keep me out, neh? Besides,' he leaned down towards Lynch and his grin was feral, 'would you ever trust a system I'd checked? Don' you work out by now, I leave myself out of de calculations. Don' ever fool you'self into t'inking dat you keep Gambit out when he want to get in.'

Lynch backed down first. The gaze of those fiery demon-chylde eyes was too disconcerting to face for long, a factor that Gambit often used to his advantage. With a snort, Lynch dropped the subject. 'What are you doing here, Gambit? I thought you were retired.'

Gambit settled himself into Lynch's visitor's chair. 'So did I, mon ami,' he said. 'But it appears I not cut out for de life of a hero. And if I can' be a hero, I prefer to be a villain, non? I don' like half-measures. So de t'ief is back.'

'You've yet to prove to me that you're a villain,' said Lynch, equably.'Not when you won't do the big heists cause they don't fit into your - what do you call it - oh yes, your moral code.'

'Call it stupidity if you want, Lynch, it's not like I care. I have more dan enough money to ensure dat I never need to work another day in my life - at any job. So be t'ankful dat I be a born t'ief and I be willing to work wit' you and find me a contract I be willing to take. Otherwise, I go to another broker. And don' t'ink you could stop me.' Gambit's voice was very calm but somehow that made it even more threatening.

Lynch coughed slightly. 'If you're back in the game, Gambit, I only want you working for me. I wouldn't do anything to destroy our - partnership. And I have just the heist for you. I've been trying to find the right person to do it. You've saved me a lot of hard work by coming back.' His tone was just slightly ingratiating.

Gambit stretched his long legs out in front of him and lounged down onto the base of his spine. 'Go ahead,' he invited.

'There's an old family from New York, had a few paintings stolen from them. Heirloom paintings, in the family for centuries and worth an absolute bomb. They've asked for help in retrieving them. We've tracked them down, but we haven't been able to get them back.'

'Where are dey?'

'The Montessoris have them,' Lynch's face showed his curiousity as he watched for Gambit's reaction. He needn't have bothered - Gambit was wearing his best poker face.

Gambit's voice was neutral as he replied, 'What's the take-home?'

'Thirty percent of the current open-market valuation of the paintings. Around about sixteen million all up.'

Gambit nodded slowly. 'OK,' he said. 'Ninety-ten split.'

Lynch's face went purple in seconds. 'Ninety-ten,' he hissed. 'I get thirty percent on all heists and you know it.' His voice choked off as Gambit leaned forward and placed hands that glowed softly on the desk-top.

'Not wit' me, you don',' replied Gambit. 'You can't do dis pinch wit'out me and you know it. You have a choice, Lynch - you either take the one-point-six for sitting behind your desk and doin' not'in' or you try to get t'irty percent off me and end up with not'in' at all. Which one it be?'

Lynch couldn't tear his eyes from Gambit's gently glowing fists. 'I'll take the ten percent,' he said, and his voice was tense with sudden terror. Gambit had never threatened him like this before and it was an experience Lynch was not enjoying at all.

The glow slowly drained back into Gambit's arms and vanished. 'Dat be ver' sensible, homme,' he said and then grinned. 'You lucky I like you. Another broker, I ask ninety-five.'

He left Lynch's office shortly after obtaining all of the details and was never aware that Lynch cancelled all of his interviews for the rest of the day and went out and got spectacularly drunk.

Instead, Gambit stepped out onto the street, casual clothes borrowed from Lynch's 'thief's wardrobe' covering his colours. He thought of the Montessoris, a family he despised to the heart of his being and the New York family robbed of their heirlooms. He thought of the blue-prints in the sports-bag that swung at his side and the complicated and ingenious plan he was going to have to devise to get those paintings away. He thought of the danger he was going to be placed in, the nerve-stretching suspense of the heist itself, the fear and exquisite concentration he was going to have to meld into an absolute focus to get through the pinch.

Suddenly a fierce and surging delight bubbled through his veins and he grinned a savage grin into the biting air of Chicago.

For the first time in a long time, Remy LeBeau felt it was good to be alive.

Disclaimer: Until my plan to become Supreme Ruler of the Universe comes to fruition all of the X-Men in my story belong to Marvel. Azimuth belongs to me - except when she takes over my brain and writes her own plot - then she belongs to herself. I promise I'm not making a profit from this - if I was do you think I'd still be working 9 to 5?

Author's note: This is set after UXM #350, because I figure someone better try to explain what happened in there - Marvel probably won't. Forget the Gambit Limited Series happened. And don't expect an accent when Gambit's thinking to himself - first because I don't think anyone thinks with an accent and second because it's hard enough to remember how to do the accent when he's talking.


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