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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 5

To: storm@ xmen.com

Subject: {blank}

I am a little surprised by your reaction to the news that Azimuth and I are lovers again. I had not thought you would be so perturbed by it - though maybe I should have expected it.

I suspect - no, I've been your friend long enough, I *know* - that you are so disturbed by the news because you still see Rogue every day. I have never asked, will never ask, how she has reacted since I have not been there, how she reacted when she discovered I was still alive - if you ever told her I was. I cannot imagine that it has been a pleasant reaction to watch - but I could not bring myself to care.

That came out wrong. I haven't lost all feeling for Rogue. At least, I do not think I have, but I do not know for sure. Ororo, I am too afraid to touch on what I feel for her. I don't think about her, don't examine what went wrong, don't let myself feel at all. It is like walking barefoot through a room full of broken glass. I shut my eyes and don't look down because if I don't see the damage, don't watch the blood flow, then maybe it won't hurt at all. Writing this now, it is the longest I have ever thought about Rogue since that day in the Antarctic, but I find I still do not let the slightest emotion connect to the thoughts. If ever I can face those feelings I am so terribly afraid of what I will find - that I still love her, that I now hate her, that - worst of all - I don't feel anything at all.

As for the rest, 'Ro, all I can say is that your trust intoxicates me. I do not know what I did in my screwed-up life to deserve the grace of your favour, but I cannot begin to describe the joy that filled me when I read that you still believe in me, despite the nasty secrets of my past that I keep flinging at you. I always knew that if the X-Men found out enough of my past they would exile me - but if there is one thing I do allow myself to resent about what Rogue did, it was that she never gave me a chance to say goodbye to you.

I wish that you could meet Azimuth, chere, I think that you would like her. She has the makings of a great thief and she is already a very special lady. She refuses to let me brood and her talent allows her always to know what I need to snap me out of a black mood. She is my lagniappe - the extra, unexpected bonus - and she gives me a depth of joy that I do not deserve. What I have done to end up with two such extraordinary friends in my life as you and she escapes me, but for now I will accept my good fortune and hope that it lasts.

Take care, my Stormy, my friend.


'I'm not going to play with you any more.' Azimuth threw down her cards and pushed her chair back from the table.

Gambit grinned lazily up at her. 'Just can' take being beaten, neh?'

'Beaten, I can handle,' she rejoindered stiffly. 'Slaughtered is a bit of a problem. I haven't won a hand, Remy. I am not going to play poker with you again. You are completely unnatural.' She waggled a finger under Gambit's nose, daring him to respond.

Instead of retorting, he reached out and swept her discarded cards into his hand. He began to shuffle, slowly at first, then increasing in speed, until the cards seemed to dance about his fingers. Azimuth watched the movement of the deck, almost mesmerised by the interplay of card and hand.

Remy concentrated on the feel of the pack in his hands, caressing the little pieces of cardboard like he would a lover's skin. He loved the cards, loved the elegant simplicity of form and function, the ordered nature that could be so quickly turned into random, chaotic chance by a simple shuffle and deal. And the affection was mutual. Gambit had never cheated at a game of cards in his life, would be mortally offended if anyone suggested he did, but he had never yet lost a hand at any game that he did not plan to lose. When everything he had was taken away from him, he still had his cards.

He stopped shuffling abruptly, fanning the pack out into a neat half-circle. He smiled at Azimuth. 'Pick a card, any card,' he said, his right eyebrow cocked in amused mockery.

Azimuth looked at him for a long moment. 'Bite me, LeBeau,' she said and turned and walked to the CD player.

Gambit's smile widened. She wasn't truly annoyed - he could tell that by the set of her shoulders - just frustrated that she had been sucked into playing against him when she had always known how it was going to end.

'How come you can' read me, chere?' he asked to her back. 'Why not just use your talent to tell what cards I'm holding?'

'It doesn't work like that.' Azimuth's voice was muffled as she inspected the rack of CDs. 'I can't tell what cards you hold, just the truth of what you're feeling about those cards. And considering the only thing you feel is confident, no matter what you're holding, it doesn't give me a lot to work with. And you should be bloody confident, cause you always damn well win.'

Gambit lay the deck down on the table and, rising from his seat, made his way around to stand behind her. 'Poor chere,' he said, 'poor, sweet chere,' and leaning forward he kissed the nape of her neck. Azimuth stiffened slightly and went to pull away, but Remy gripped her shoulders lightly. Leaning further he began to nibble at Azimuth's left ear.

Azimuth gasped and leaned back into his embrace. 'That's so unfair,' she whispered, as Gambit continued to nibble at her lobe. 'You know what that does to me.'

'Exactly,' Gambit grinned without stopping what he was doing. 'Dat's why I'm doin' it.'

He had managed to finesse her out of half of her clothes when the phone rang. The noise was shattering, coming at such an inopportune moment, and Azimuth nearly leapt out of his arms. For an instant they gazed at each other, both puzzled at who could be calling.

Azimuth's brow cleared first. 'That must be Gary,' she said, naming her ex-boss. 'Or...'

'Or Lynch,' Gambit finished her thought. 'Dey're de only ones who know de number. You'd better answer it, chere, in case it be Gary.'

Azimuth leaned back and picked up the handset. The awkward position arched her body back and, fascinated by the clean length of her, Remy began to run his fingers down the centre of her body. Lightly, Azimuth slapped his hand away and then said, 'Hello?' After a moment she passed the phone to Gambit. 'Lynch,' she said, and stepped away.

'Lynch,' Gambit said into the receiver. 'What you want?'

'Gambit,' Lynch's voice was definitely excited. 'The director phoned, said he was thrilled with the, um, re-acquisition, of the idol. I've transferred the funds into your account.'

Gambit made a non-committal noise, his eyes following Azimuth as she picked up her scattered clothing and folded it neatly.

Lynch seemed disappointed at the lack of response from Gambit, but then his voice quickened again. 'And I've got another job for you,' he continued. 'A big one. Just made for you and the lovely Azimuth - how soon can you make it to Kentucky?'

'You know what, Lynch?' said Gambit. 'I do believe de lovely Azimuth and I be on vacation right now. I call you when we free.' He dropped the phone back into its cradle before Lynch could begin to voice his protests.

Azimuth was sitting on the table and her face was lit with her smile.

'Vacation, hey?' she said. 'Are we doing anything on this vacation?'

'We are,' confirmed Remy, his grin wicked. 'Exactly what we were doin' when we were so rudely interrupted. Now where was I?'

Azimuth's grin equalled his in wickedness as she reached out and hooked a finger into his jeans pocket and dragged him close. 'Right about here,' she replied and kissed him.

The apartment had an excellent gym set up, as did all of the apartments Azimuth stayed in, for despite Gambit's disparaging remarks about her fitness, she had maintained a reasonable exercise regime.

They were working out there, Azimuth on the exercise bike, Gambit hanging from his knees on the high-bar, doing crunches. The TV was on in the background for noise and it was, of all things, a commercial with the Bud Ice penguin that prompted Azimuth's question.

'Remy,' she said, 'just how exactly *did* you get out of Antarctica? You never did tell me that bit.'

Even upside-down Gambit managed to look slightly shame-faced. 'I burgled a scientific base,' he said.

Azimuth stopped pedalling, she was so startled. 'You did *what*?'

'I burgled a scientific base. Where I was left,' the bitterness was faint, but definitely there, 'was close to a research station. I managed to get dere and steal some warm clothes and a skidoo. God knows how dey t'ink de skidoo went missing, but I used it to get to de coast and stowed away on a tourist ship, back to Argentina. Lucky it was summer down dere, because dat's when de tourist ships do de run. In winter, I'd just have died.'

Gambit curled up into another crunch, hiding the anger in his face from Azimuth, though he knew she saw it with her power. But when he relaxed back down from the crunch, he saw that she had studiously averted her eyes, and he was grateful for the pretence.

They were curled up together on the lounge, watching some tragically bad movie at 2am in the morning. Gambit was lightly stroking Azimuth's hair, watching intently as a screaming woman ran through a darkened house, frantically shutting doors in the face of her attacker.

'Why do dey never ring de police when dey hear the noise in the basement de first time?' he asked.

'What?' Azimuth's eyes were muzzy with sleep as she looked up at him. 'Why do you never seem to get any sleep?'

'Hhmm?' Remy smiled down at her. 'I don' need a lot, chere.'

Azimuth wriggled around in his arms until she could prop herself up on her elbow and look into his face. 'How much do you sleep a night, Remy?' she asked. 'I've trained myself to get by on not much at all, but you always fall asleep after me and are up before me.'

Gambit shrugged lightly. 'T'ree, four hours, maximum.'

'It never used to be that way.' Azimuth's brow puckered in a frown. 'Why don't you sleep properly any more?'

Gambit looked into her concerned face and sighed as he realised he couldn't conceal the truth from her. 'I am afraid,' he said, simply. 'I have - dreams - when I sleep. Dreams I prefer not to have. And so I hold back from sleep at night and wake when dey get too bad.'

'Every night?' asked Azimuth, and her voice ached with compassion.

'Every night,' confirmed Gambit.

Azimuth reached up and stroked his cheek. 'I would not wish that on anyone,' she said softly. 'Would you accept a gift from me, Remy LeBeau?'

'A gift? What kind of gift?' Gambit was genuinely interested.

'I can give you a dream,' said Azimuth. 'A waking dream, but I can make it so that you believe it is truly a dream. One pleasant dream to hold you through the nights.'

Remy considered the face of his lover and smiled. 'A most remarkable gift,' he said, 'and one I would gladly accept.'

Azimuth twisted from the lounge and to her feet and then pulled Remy up so he stood before her. Gently, she held his face between her hands. 'Listen,' she said, and Remy felt the faint itch/buzz in his mind that told him she was using her power. And then Azimuth continued.

'Listen, I will remind you

Of what you have never known.

That's what our dreams are for,

and I will be your dream,

a ravishing latecomer

under your handsome skin.

Late, late this night I'll find you

where nothing has a name,

where any page you turn

will long have lost its meaning.

Remember me, while music

melts you to understanding.

Sleep, while new planets burn,

and I will be your dream.'

He slept and dreamed a woman, a woman blonde and nearly beautiful with eyes haunted with sorrow and desire. She stood before him and he dreamed she walked into his arms and then led him to another room and the fulfilment of desire. He dreamed she cried his name and he remembered her and called her name too, though she was but a dream. And then his dream dissolved away into the darkness and a faint itch/buzz inside his mind until that too went away into the little death that was sleep. And this night, at least, there were no other dreams.

Azimuth awoke with a start, but relaxed again as she realised the hand that stroked her hip was that of Remy.

'Morning, lover,' she smiled up into his eyes.

He leaned down and kissed her, but didn't stop stroking her leg. It wasn't desire that did it, Azimuth could see that, but a deep fascination with the feel of her.

'You enjoy that, don't you?' she asked, already knowing the answer.

'I spent so long with a lover I couldn' touch, I t'ink I forgot the pleasure of earthly delights,' replied Gambit. 'Gambit forgot how good it feel just to touch a lover, to hold hands, to kiss. You are like silk beneath my fingers, chere, and I can' get enough of just - touchin' you.'

'I don't mind,' replied Azimuth. 'How did you manage it, LeBeau? You are such an - enthusiastic - lover. How did you manage for so long with such frustration?'

Gambit shrugged. 'I jus' did,' he replied. 'You learn to get by - when you have no choices. Made de nights lonely, though. Until I met you again.'

Azimuth's grin was suddenly wicked. 'To paraphrase Greenday,' she laughed, 'when masturbation's lost its fun, you get another girl, hey, LeBeau?'

Remy laughed. 'You will never be 'just another girl' to me, Azimuth,' he said and took steps to prove his point.

In the aftermath Azimuth lay cradled in Remy's arms, her head resting on his shoulder. Gently, Remy craned his head down and kissed the crown of Azimuth's hair. 'Why did you never come back for me, chere?' he asked softly.

Azimuth didn't move, but her body was suddenly tense. 'I couldn't, Remy,' she said. 'You were there at the end, you know that I could only just twist Sinister enough to let me go and that was just because he had already decided to dispose of me. There was no way I could ever make it so he would let you go.'

Gambit made sure his hands were soft as he stroked Azimuth's back reassuringly. 'I t'ink I always knew dat, chere,' he said. 'You did enough. You started me back on de road to freedom dat day. I jus' wish I had met you again before dis.'

'You never came after me, when you were free,' Azimuth's voice hinted at anguish. 'Why not, Remy?'

'Did you know - when I escaped?' Gambit had to ask the question. Azimuth's nod against his chest vibrated with her tension. 'I t'ink I didn' come after you for de same reason you didn' seek me out. I was afraid, chere, afraid dat seeing you again would bring it all back and bring it back for you, all de pain, all de hatred, all de shame. I hoped - I hoped so much - dat you were happy. I didn' want to bring back de hurt. And I was afraid dat Sinister would come after me - if I sought you out and he found me den you would be in danger all over again. I didn' want dat.'

He could feel the moisture on his shoulder and knew it was from Azimuth's tears, but when she lifted her head and looked at him, her eyes were clear. 'Thank you,' she said and he could feel the tension drain from her. 'Thank you for wanting to save me from hurt.'

'I would do anything I could to stop you ever feeling pain again,' Remy said, simply. 'I love you, chere.'

Azimuth caught her breath. 'Are you sure?' she asked. 'This isn't just the hormones talking, or gratitude, or nostalgia?'

Gambit stroked her cheek lightly. 'I'm a fool for love-making, chere,' he replied, 'but I'm not a fool for love. I be practised at love now - I remember what it feel like again. And we been lovers now for more dan a month - de hormones ain't dat strong. Dis be the real t'ing, chere. I love you.'

'And Rogue?' Azimuth's grey eyes were sharp.

Gambit shuddered slightly, but knew that this brutal question was simply Azimuth's way. 'I don' know,' he replied, honestly. 'I don' know if I still love her.' His gave a wry smile. 'It hardly matters, does it, considering she wants me dead? And besides, I t'ink Gambit be tired of dis noble, self-sacrifing love t'ing. I like havin' a lover I can touch.'

Azimuth looked at him for a long moment, and finally allowed herself to see the truth of what he said. He did love her, truly loved her. She leaned forward and kissed him, long and deliciously.

When she leaned back Gambit was breathless and a tiny furrow marked his brow. 'And you, chere,' he asked, suddenly dreading what her answer might be. 'Do you love me?'

Azimuth smiled. 'There are some things we just can't help, LeBeau. I've loved you since the day you walked back into my life. I see the truth of you and you are the most worthy man I've ever met. And one of the most interesting.' Her smile broadened.

Gambit responded in kind. 'Good,' he said. 'I'm glad we've got dat all sorted. Now what do you want for breakfast?'

Azimuth's smile sharpened. 'You,' she said and pounced.


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