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Chapter 1

Love Affairs are Horrible - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by Dandelion
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 1

Pete Wisdom did not care for Morocco. It was hot. It was crowded. It wasn't London. He was here anyway. London didn't offer any solace. She was there, nearly everywhere he looked. Casablanca did not house her ghost. Here he was, alone. Again.

Well, alone in the emotional sense anyway. He had been forced to plow his way forcibly through the streets loaded with sellers and buyers and hagglers and whatnot before reaching the cave-like doorway that led to his favorite watering hole in this most unfavored locale.

He had been sent in to do some time with a bunch of do-gooders and had fallen in love with one of them. He was in love all the way. And she had decided that they needed to stop being in love. He still hadn't figured that out. He hadn't done anything wrong. She just didn't want him anymore.

It was enough to make a bloke just plain give up.

So he had left. He didn't have to. Kurt Wagner, the team leader, had made it clear that Wisdom would always be welcome as far as he was concerned. Pete didn't get Wagner. People weren't supposed to be that nice. He had thought about it, though. He did think Wagner was all right. He just wasn't a very good loser and he wouldn't be able to be around her and keep a civil tongue in his mouth. Add to that the sympathy that seemed to be pouring out of Piotr and Wisdom knew he had to leave before he became physically ill.

London hadn't worked. He had taken her to his world and she had ingrained herself into his life. She was there. She was everywhere. So he had hopped a plane to the best place he could escape her. Casablanca - full of the weird and wonderful and the strange and surprising. Where the whisky flowed freely and the smells of tobacco, incense and other vapors wafted about in the caverns to dull the pain of that which was lost.

She wasn't here, that helped. Her face wasn't in the architecture and her voice was not on the wind. The only place she remained was within him and he was dulling her sweet words and sweeter touch with every drink. He'd forget her. Or he'd kill himself. At this point, it hardly mattered.

And then another specter from his past appeared. He sauntered into the tavern with the same casual grace and arrogant stance that accompanied him everywhere. Pete Wisdom sighed. He should have known really. This face always had a habit of popping up when he least wanted him around. He straightened and called out in a whiskey-roughened voice. "Well, well. If it isn't Remy LeBeau, everyone's favorite mistake."

LeBeau, to the untrained eye, looked like the typical American pretty-boy. Wisdom appraised the other's appearance - beige collar-less button-down cotton shirt, cotton coat and slacks in a slightly darker shade and, of course, shades. Wisdom inhaled slowly on his cigarette. Yes, LeBeau looked like he could blend into the streets of Casablanca. It was a cultivated look but completely ignorable.

Of course, Wisdom knew better. He glanced at his own uniform white shirt and black pants and tie and smiled inwardly. LeBeau would always look more polished. Wisdom simply couldn't be bothered to make the effort. Remy fetched a bottle of bourbon from the bar and joined Pete at his table. Pete nodded slightly at LeBeau's choice of drink, thankful that some things remained the same while others fell to pieces around him. LeBeau had told Pete once that southern gentlemen only drank bourbon. Wisdom had suggested Remy try vodka if that was the case.

Remy looked at Wisdom and took off his sunglasses. "Should'a known you'd be here."

Pete raised an eyebrow.

Remy poured himself a shot and downed it. "You the only t'ing what could make my day worse."

Pete grinned. "Pour yourself another, LeBeau. You've got some catching up to do." He noted that LeBeau looked a little scruffier than usual. Thinner, too, than he remembered. His clothes didn't quite fit in the way they used to, the way that made women sigh when they looked at him. Wisdom also noted that Remy's eyes and cheeks were sunk in a bit.

Remy poured another drink at Wisdom's bidding and fumbled slightly with his jacket pocket in search of cigarettes. His eyes roamed slowly around the tavern. "You got one of those Excaliburites hidden in a corner?"

Pete sobered slightly. "No. We parted company. You?"

A glint of steel came to Remy's eyes. He lit his cigarette and took an excessively deep drag. "Non," he said at last. "They parted company." The distinction between their circumstances was evident.

Silence as Pete poured again. "Blokes like us weren't meant for spandex."

"I wore it."

"At least you had the good sense to cover it up with a coat."

Remy shrugged but seemed receptive to the idea. "Dat's one smart move out of . . . " he tossed one hand in the air.

Pete watched as a shadow came to rest on Remy's face. This was unusual. He was far more accustomed to the 'I-know-something-you-don't' expression that generally graced the Cajun's features. Pete didn't like it when people didn't behave the way they were supposed to behave. "Brooding, LeBeau?" he mused. "Not like you."

"Exactly like you, though," Remy retorted. "S'why we're both here, neh? We got escape and oblivion rolled into one neat north African package."

Pete shook his head with a wry smile, not wishing to display his problems to LeBeau of all people. "I'm just soaking up the atmosphere."

Remy nodded smugly, the usual expression flickering across his face. "Sure. Soaking up the atmosphere. Wit'out the presence of a certain Shadowcat, I notice."

Pete flinched.

Remy leaned back in his chair. "Thought I recognized a comrade."

"Comrade?" Pete poured again.

"We wearin' the same expression, you and I. Kicked in the teeth by love."

Pete whistled through gritted teeth. At least LeBeau was beginning to act like himself again. He was always able to pinpoint exactly what people were trying to hide. "Heh. Yeah. That about covers it."

Remy slowly turned his glass in his fingers. "Yeah."


"So . . . " Remy looked up. "Let me ask you. Did they know about all the things you done?"

Pete snorted and shook his head. "Didn't concern any of 'em. No need to bring it up. I mean, they knew some of the stuff. I told her some of the things I had done, but not all of it." He wouldn't say her name. "I didn't want to. I didn't feel I had to."

"What if it did concern them?"

Pete looked at Remy in surprise. He crushed out his cigarette and lit another one and regarded LeBeau with narrowed eyes. "What are you playin' at, LeBeau."

"No game."

Pete leaned forward. "I'm not certain I believe that."

Remy looked at him. "You want me to play by Tavern's Rules?"

Wisdom nodded and folded his arms over his chest. It was an archaic ritual, but Wisdom was familiar enough with scoundrels in general and LeBeau in particular to bring it up. Bar promises were a dime a dozen but Tavern's Rules had been around as long as alcohol. One simply had to know enough to invoke it.

Remy poured another shot, drank it and slammed the glass onto the table. "Nothin' goes beyond this table. May I never drink again if it does."

"All right, then," Wisdom straightened. "What was the question again?"

"Your turn."

Pete grinned and took the oath himself. "What was that question, then?"

Remy sighed. "What if things you'd done did concern them?"

Pete chewed on that thought. "Depends. Why, that what happened?"

Remy lowered his gaze to the table. "Pretty much. I made a raw deal. Wasn't more'n a pup. Not dat it's an excuse. Anyway, turns out dat what happened hit them hard. I didn't know it when I was first wit' 'em so I say nothing." Remy leaned back in his chair, slouching slightly. The hand holding his cigarette remained still, sending thin fingers of smoke about his face. His other hand clenched and unclenched, betraying his emotions. "It was my problem, neh? It was my past so I just went on my way." He took a slow drag from his cigarette before continuing. "Den I find out dat this mistake of mine, hit them too. By then, I was involved wit' 'em, you know? Then I didn't know what t'do. Should I tell 'em? Should I just leave it?" He shrugged. "It got worse. T'ings began to unravel. I shuffled my feet." Remy sighed. "Turns out dey found me out in a pretty unpleasant way. As a result I got left in Antarctica to fend for myself."

That explained LeBeau's haggard appearance. "Nice."

Remy shrugged again, his eyes fierce. "I made it out. I'm still kicking."

"Not like you to hedge so much, LeBeau. You've always been a decision maker."

"Too much on the line dis time, maybe." Remy downed his drink and poured again. He looked pensive. "Should'a told 'em. If I was that concerned about whether or not I should have then I should have."

"Don't know about that," Pete said, wearing a thoughtful expression. "You were feeling guilty, right?"


"Tellin' 'em would have made you feel better, right?"


"Tellin' 'em would have made them feel lousy. It's not like you can go back and change what happened. It would have made you feel better but not them. Then you've pretty much shifted your load to them and you don't do that to your mates. No matter how deep you are you don't unload on 'em just so you feel better."

Remy leaned his chin on his hand. "They found out anyway."

"Shit happens," Pete took a drink. "And you deal with it. At least you have a specific reason for getting kicked in the teeth."

"You don't?"

Wisdom shook his head. "No. One day everything's smooth. Next day, I'm the odd man out. She says she wants to be in her young world and not my old one." He blew smoke out of his nose disdainfully. "I could have used that information before I slept with her. I could have used that information before her ex-boyfriend pulped me. I could have used that information before I got leaned on to tell her how I felt. She reciprocated, you know? It wasn't one-sided. We were together, right? She made herself a part of me then decided that she wanted to be a part of something else."


"Yeah, say it twice, LeBeau."

Remy nodded. "So here we are."

Wisdom figured if he weren't so miserable he'd probably think this scenario was hysterical. If anyone had suggested he'd be commiserating about his love life with Remy LeBeau, of all people, he'd probably have ripped their lips off. Still, he was somewhat distracted. Pete leaned forward. "What would you like to do most, eh? What would you do to them if you could?"

"It's petty and wrong," Remy informed him.

"Of course it is," Pete agreed. "What is it?"

"I'd like to stick it to 'em," Remy said, leaning forward as well. "I'd like to go about doin' t'ings for all the wrong reasons. I'd like to go into the hero business because I want the fame. Because I'm greedy. Because I haven't got anything better to do on a Saturday afternoon. And then I'd like to succeed where they couldn't. I'd like to succeed with my self-serving, petty reasons where they and their dreams and ideologies couldn't."

Pete grinned, appreciating LeBeau's sense of revenge. "I like that."

"I'd like to forget 'em. Especially those two women . . . " Remy broke off, nearly choking on his words. He lit up another cigarette. "I'd like to find something t'do that didn't have a damn thing t'do wit' either of 'em. I'd like to get away from their dream and get back to real work again. No spandex allowed 'less some gorgeous femme is tryin' to entice me into somet'ing damp." Remy laced his fingers behind his head. "I like dat idea, too."

"Yeah," Wisdom nodded, not surprised that LeBeau would bring sex into it. "Real jobs would be a change. Often thought I'd come in on some bad Dr. Who episode with that lot."

Remy snorted and had another drink. "S'why I come here. It's far away from it all. Far away from their Shi'ar empires and Blackbirds and Cerebro's and the rest of the mess that makes a regular day. I love dis old city. It's got all the atmosphere wit' out the X figuring in at all. I love atmosphere. All I need to make the picture complete is an opium den."

"Hah!" Pete barked an acidic laugh. "Forget it. Last time you had more than one mind-altering substance in your system you ended up kissing me." He was still bitter over that. He'd decked LeBeau for it, but still hadn't gotten his satisfaction over the incident.

A wide grin spread across Remy's features at the remembrance. "Yeah. I got thirty quid for it."

"A bet was it?" Wisdom's eyebrows shot up. If money was involved that changed things.

"I don't find you as attractive as all dat, Wisdom," Remy replied. "'Sides, you ain't my type."

"My prayers have been answered," Pete snuffed out his cigarette and lit up another one. "What'd you do with your winnings?"

Remy squinted trying to remember. "Don' recall. Must not have been dat great."

"What a waste of a kiss."

"Nah," Remy waved his hand. "I got to embarrass you but good. I'd do dat for free."

Wisdom regarded Remy silently for a few moments. Was he feeling better? A little, mostly due to the amount of scotch he'd poured down his throat. LeBeau's presence made a difference as well. Not that he was all that fond of the man. LeBeau had his uses as well as anyone. Pete supposed it was the 'misery loves company' adage that helped soothe his troubles. He also had to admit that he felt a certain wicked satisfaction that someone who was as successful with women as LeBeau could be on the rocks with them. Not that he approved of Remy's getting stranded in Antarctica; Wisdom didn't much care for that sort of thing. Especially seeing the physical toll it took on the man. It was ironic, though, that the one thing Wisdom really liked about LeBeau, that he kept his mouth shut, was the very thing that got him into trouble. "You think you're gonna hang around this damn town for awhile?"

"Hey, I like it here." Remy glanced around the tavern. "But, yeah, for awhile. Until I forget, maybe." He shrugged.

"How long you think it'll take for you to forget your girl?" Wisdom asked in earnest, hoping to get a timetable for himself.

Remy looked thoughtful. "Don't know. I loved her a lot. Maybe until I forget why I loved her. Dat maybe won't take so long."

Pete nodded. "Good place to forget things, this."

"Yeah," Remy stretched and stood up. "Walk you out?"

Stepping outside they unexpectedly met the African sunrise. Recoiling slightly they shielded their eyes and grimaced.

"Never did like dis side of sunrise," Remy grumbled.

Pete nodded. "You comin' back tonight?"

"I'll have the drinks waitin' for you."

"See you around, LeBeau."


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