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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 12

To: storm@ xmen.com

Subject: {blank}


Peace creeps up on us sometimes, when we are all unawares. Somewhere, somehow, a measure of peace has slipped into my soul and I am almost content.

Azimuth has resolved her issues with her father -- although she orphaned herself in the process, twisting him until he has no memory that he ever had a daughter. It is not the way I would have chosen, but it seems to have made her -- light of heart. She sees this sudden lack of family ties as freedom, not loneliness.

And although I did not wish to visit the mansion it seems to have helped me find peace. Seeing you again could never be anything less than a joy and Azimuth's health -- well that alone is enough. I do not know what Rogue has told you about our -- confrontation -- but that, too, has given me a sense of something finalised. It may not have made me happy, but at least now I know how I feel.

Peace. Happiness. At moments, something that even approaches bliss. I hoard these feelings to me, run my hands over them, admire them like precious jewels. Admire them even more -- I have handled more than my share of precious jewels over time, but there has not been enough happiness in my life to fill a thimble. And now, it seems, I am being allowed a small taste of it. I just hope it isn't too much for this Cajun thief to handle.

Be well.


Just a perfect day

Drink Sangria in the park

Then, later, when it gets dark

We'll go home

Just a perfect day

Feed animals in the zoo

Then, later, a movie too

And then home

'Can you imagine what the Beast would think if he saw me doing this?' asked Azimuth.

'Hank t'ink you mad -- and he probably kill me,' replied Gambit. 'He t'ink you still be needin' to be coddled, not ready to fly. Unless you tell him about de implants?' Gambit's eyebrow raised questioningly at Azimuth.

'Not mine,' she said. 'He never found out about yours either, I presume.'

'Non.' Gambit shrugged. 'Sinister made dem to look jus' like real. Dere isn' much Sinister do dat was good, but Gambit never have any problems wit' de body-work.'

'I hope so,' said Azimuth and an anxious frown touched her brows. 'I'm just about to put more trust in what he did than I ever have before. I hope it all holds together.' Unconsciously, her hand reached down and rubbed the back of her left thigh.

'Gambit been trustin' dem for years now, chere, and dey never let me down.' His voice reflected his concern. 'You sure you up to dis?'

Azimuth looked at him from lowered lashes and then, suddenly, her face lit with a broad smile. 'I am not going to have suffered through all those workouts you've made me do in the last fortnight and then pike out at this point. I can do it.'

'Bien,' replied Remy. 'Ready?' He held out his hand to her and Azimuth took it. Together, they turned to face the edge of the roof and then started to run in time, a steady, explosive run. Gambit prepared for the leap and then took it, power pulsing through his leg muscles and driving him forward and up. He felt Azimuth's hand grip tightly around his, and then she, too, was soaring through the air above Chicago, beside him, flying free.

They landed together, Azimuth stumbling slightly, but Gambit caught her before she could fall. She turned to him and her face was shining with delight. 'That was amazing.' She laughed, breathlessly.

Remy leaned forward and kissed her lightly. 'Gambit knew you could do it,' he murmured and then straightened again. 'Now we got to get in,' he said, his voice suddenly professional. 'Lynch got obsessive security round dis place. You goin' to need every lesson Gambit ever taught you and some new t'ings to get in. You ready for dis?'

Azimuth nodded and released his hand. 'Lead on, Macduff,' she said and Gambit kneeled down to begin breaking into Lynch's roof.

Oh, it's such a perfect day

I'm glad I spent it with you

Oh, such a perfect day

You just keep me hanging on

You just keep me hanging on

Lynch couldn't believe his eyes when he looked up and saw the greaves-clad leg being lowered through his ceiling tiles.

'Gambit,' he yelled, impatiently waving at his secretary to leave the room. 'If you keep doing that, I'm going to have automatic weapons installed in the ceilings, so you can't get in. Do you understand me, Cajun? You have to start using the door like normal . . .' His voice cut off as the rest of the body slid through the ceiling and came to a graceful rest on his floor.

Azimuth bowed low, then straightened, a mischievous smile on her face. 'You can't blame the Cajun,' she said. 'He's just teaching his apprentice how to make her way in the world. And can I just say, Lynch, you have the most incredible security system I have ever seen.'

'Azimuth,' breathed Lynch. 'Gambit said you were taken. Kidnapped. I thought you were dead. How did you -- I mean -- when -- where -- you look well,' he finished, lamely.

'I am well,' said Azimuth. 'I *was* taken but Gambit saved me. With the help of the information you gave him. He is sorry, Lynch, that he threatened you, but he was so afraid for me.' Her eyes pleaded with Lynch to forgive Gambit.

'I can't blame him,' replied Lynch and walked around his desk to Azimuth and clasped her hands in his. 'When he told me you were gone -- I felt like . . . Losing a thief is always a terrible thing, but to lose my favourite apprentice. . .' Lynch leaned forward and kissed her lightly on the forehead.

'If you keep flattering ma amant like dat, Lynch, Gambit start to t'ink he should have finished de job back in your house.' The voice came from behind Lynch, from below where the hole in the ceiling gaped. Lynch turned to face Gambit who was leaning lightly on his bo.

'Gambit,' said Lynch, releasing Azimuth's hands. 'I should have known you would be here. Azimuth is good, but not good enough to get through my security.'

'Yet,' chimed in Azimuth, and grinned impudently when Lynch turned to look at her.

He turned back to Gambit, frowning. 'Where have you been?' he asked. 'When did you get Azimuth back?'

'We've been busy,' Gambit said. 'Gambit rescue Azimuth 'bout five weeks ago. Take her a few weeks to recuperate, last couple of weeks we been working out, trainin', so we can break in on you.' Gambit's smile was lazy.

'A couple of weeks!' Lynch was outraged. 'You've had her back for weeks and you didn't tell me? Here I was, thinking Azimuth was dead and you didn't tell me she was safe. What the hell have you been doing?'

'Happy things,' said Azimuth, softly. 'Lovers' things. Going to the movies. Catching up on the X-Files. Going to the zoo. I've learnt how to drink cognac. Gambit's learned how to make ragout. Becoming healthy.'

'You know, Gambit,' said Lynch, conversationally, 'I've never been jealous of anything you have -- your looks, your skills, your money. I think you've finally managed to make me jealous.' He turned back to Azimuth and caught her hands again. 'How about you dump this worthless thief, babe, and you and me run away together. Successful businessman, not bad looking, I've been told I'm good in bed.' Lynch put on his best hopeful face.

Azimuth laughed and squeezed his hands. 'Don't think it's not tempting, Lynch,' she said, 'but I've kind of got used to the Cajun. There's some kind of pathetic love thing happening between us. Shame, really.' Her eyes twinkled.

'Ah, it was a forlorn hope, anyway,' said Lynch, his face falling exaggeratedly. He released Azimuth's hands with a show of reluctance.

'Now you finished flirtin' wit' my chere, can we get down to business?' Gambit was wearing his poker face, but he winked at Azimuth as Lynch turned back to face him. 'We don' jus' come here to have fun breakin' t'rough your security, non?'

'What are you here for, then?' asked Lynch.

'A job, what else?' Azimuth made rude gestures at Gambit from behind Lynch's back. Reluctantly, Gambit continued, 'And Gambit come to apologise to you, neh? I shouldn' have t'reatened you like I did.'

The look Lynch gave Gambit was long and steady. Finally he said, 'You're lucky you're the best thief I've ever seen, Gambit, because there aren't many thieves I'd keep on after doing what you did. But you are that good - and you did it for Azimuth. For that I'll forgive you.'

Gambit gave Lynch a half-bow, and then resumed his relaxed stance. 'T'ank you,' he said. 'Now, you got any jobs for us? Azimuth is itchin' to do some more t'ieving.'

Lynch grinned. 'Got just the job for you,' he said and moved back behind his desk. 'Been holding it for a little while, hoping you'd come back. Lady, pillar of society, had her jewellery stolen. It hasn't been fenced yet -- so it's all ready to be taken back. For a percentage of the value, of course.'

'Of course,' replied Gambit and took a seat to begin haggling the details with Lynch.

Just a perfect day

Problems all left alone

Weekenders on our own

It's such fun

Just a perfect day

You made me forget myself

I thought I was someone else

Someone good

'You know, Remy,' said Azimuth, lightly, 'convention has it that picnics are generally held in the daytime.'

Gambit grinned, a flash of teeth in the dark. 'Oui, but chere, when have we ever been slaves to convention?'

'Not for a very long time,' replied Azimuth. 'And I must admit that this is very lovely.' She picked up her glass of wine and settled back against the tree. Gambit lay down on the rug and rested his head in her lap, her other hand settling lightly on his chest. Around them, the detritus of their dinner rested on the blanket and, overhead, the quarter-moon provided just enough light for him to see Azimuth's silhouette outlined against the sky. It was a little after midnight and Remy's senses informed him they were alone in the park.

Silence settled between them, a contented quiet. Gently, Azimuth's hand stroked Remy's chest as she drank her wine in small sips and allowed the cares that had settled over her to drift away into the dark.

On his part, Remy looked up into the field of stars that shone palely overhead and allowed himself to breathe in the night. It was a Thieves' Guild exercise, one given to young apprentices to do, to blend with the night, absorb it, until they could slip between it, disturbing nothing and no-one. While most apprentices learned it and then practiced it only rarely, Remy had grown to love the feeling of the night inside of him, and continued the exercise long after he had mastered it. Many were the times when he was with the X-Men, when they thought he was out night-clubbing until 4am, that he had, instead, been in the woods, becoming one with the night.

Now he breathed in the night, the dark and the quiet, let it settle into his bones and his muscles, let it run over his skin, until he felt it absorb him utterly. His breathing softened to the slightest whisper and he felt the darkness shiver across his skin.

And when he had fallen deeply into the spell of the night, Azimuth's voice whispered out to him, a caress of sound.

'But oh, the night! oh bittersweet oh the sweet!

O dark, O moon and stars, O ecstasy

Of darkness! O great mystery of love --

In which absorbed, loss, anguish, treasons self

Enlarges rapture, - as a pebble dropt

In some full wine cup, over-brims the wine!'

For a long moment after, Azimuth was silent. Finally, she spoke again. 'It's true, LeBeau,' she said. 'I love you. Whatever you have done, whatever the future holds, I love you. Nothing can change that -- in fact, anything you do will only make me love you more. Despite your past, whatever your future, I will love you.'

Remy felt suspended, as if time and the night held their breath around him. And then his soul, wracked and constricted for so long, sighed and *eased*. It was not a healing, but it was something that was the start of healing.

Without a word he sat up, turned and took Azimuth into his arms. His mouth descended on hers, and he tasted like the night to her, warm and heavy, and his skin was like velvet beneath her hands. She could see only his eyes in the darkness above her, gleaming like a demon-lover's, and when he bore her down onto the blanket and took her to the edge of ecstasy, she felt tears slip down her face as she cried his name, and he kissed her tears away and they were like wine to him.

The night whispered around them and through them and they let it carry them away from themselves, away from care and into ecstasy.

You're going to reap just what you sow

You're going to reap just what you sow

'I'm not going to have this argument again,' said Azimuth, stubbornly. 'You said I could do this job myself, you agreed I was capable, you promised you'd let me do it. Don't start worrying about me now.'

'It's not worry, chere,' said Remy. He waved his hand in an aimless gesture. 'It's jus' . . . you only jus' back from Sinister . . . I t'ink maybe you do better wit' back-up, non?' He looked pleadingly at Azimuth.

Her face was set in determined lines as she looked back at him. 'If I do this job by myself, that means I'm not your apprentice any more, right?' Gambit nodded. 'Well, I want to be a thief, Remy, a proper one. You agreed this was an easy job, you saw me when we broke into Lynch's, you let me fling myself off fifty storey buildings. So why are you getting difficult now?'

'I'm not getting' difficult,' half-shouted Remy, and then modified his voice as Azimuth grinned at him. 'I jus' want to make sure you okay.' His eyes pleaded with Azimuth. 'I t'ink not long ago dat I lose you -- I don' want to go t'rough dat again. I couldn' stand it. Not now.'

Azimuth walked to him and clasped his face within her gloved hands. 'You won't lose me,' she said. 'I can do this, Remy. We've been over the plans, we know where the jewels are held, all the security systems. The job is easy. And you can't always be protectin g me. I'll suffocate if you try. Let me do this, LeBeau.'

He looked into her smoke-gray eyes and could not refuse her. 'Oui,' he said, softly. 'But you take care, non?'

'Of course,' she said and kissed him.

When she had finished preparing her thief's kit he followed her out of the apartment. She walked to the alley at the side of the building and turned back, blowing him a kiss. 'I'll be alright,' she said. 'And don't you dare follow me.' She waved her finger at him.

That was the last glimpse he had of her, her bright, pale face above the dark collar of her colours, a gleam of a smile and shining eyes, and then her lithe body twisted around the corner and she was lost in the night.

She never came back.


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