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Chapter 1


Written by Matt Nute
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 1

The bourbon was a perfect representation of his life, he decided. Smooth,full-bodied, vibrant. But when it went down, it was like a kick in the gut. Appropriate, considering the current circumstances.

Remy downed the shot, reminding himself again that he wasn't a philosopher.*Leave dat to Logan, or Xavier.* he scolded himself, spinning the shot glass across his knuckles before returning it to the table. He closed his red-on-black eyes, feeling the warmth of the alcohol infuse his body with a

dull numbness. Drawing a card out of his pocket, he flipped it back and forth between his fingers before laying it face-down on the table. Pouring himself another shot of bourbon from the conveniently handy bottle, he flipped the card over.

Seven of clubs.

He chuckled, downing the shot. He shook his head as the amber liquid seared his throat. He flipped three more cards onto the table. The six of clubs, ace of hearts, three of hearts. Absently, he spread them out before him like a tarot reader, concentrating more on the bottle in front of him.

"What do they tell you?"

Remy looked up into a pair of brown eyes under the brim of a worn Stetson. Grinning, he pushed a chair out from the table with his foot, motioning for the shorter man to take a seat.

"De cards? Cards never tell Remy nothin'." he joked as his visitor joined him,setting down another glass. Remy filled the two shot glasses and raised his in toast. "Dis, dis tell Remy lots of t'ings." The two men both threw their drinks back, the other man appearing to not notice the harsh burning of the alcohol.

"What's the whiskey tell you then, Cajun?" the gruff voice was only slightly accusatory. Remy looked downwards. He turned his empty glass upside down atop the three of hearts, watching the last drops of liquor stain the card.

"It tell Remy he just getting drunk and sappy, mon ami." he sighed loudly. "And here Remy swore all dem years ago no woman gon' drive him to drink, not Remy, no monsieur..."

His friend nodded. "I been down that road too, LeBeau. Ain't no use regrettin' what you've done."

Remy's eyes met the other's. Red irises gazed into brown, questioning. Finally the Cajun spoke, in a hushed whisper. "Den why I feel so rotten, neh? Merde, I never meant for t'ings to end up like dis..." His drinking partner merely poured himself another shot and downed it smoothly in a well-practiced motion.

"Then you do what you can to make it right. Believe me, I know what you feel like, LeBeau, I do. And it'll gnaw inside you, until you do something about it."

"But what can I do, eh? Everyt'ing I touch turn to crap lately. Not much good for Gambit, eh?" A few silent moments passed, then the smaller man stood. As he turned to go, he dropped a bill on the bar, pushing it to the bartender and motioning with his head over to Remy. Before he walked for the door, he turned and spoke quietly to his seated teammate.

"You do the right thing, That's all I can tell you."

Remy sighed, casting his gaze downwards. "Merci, Logan. Merci..."

In the dimly lit bar, Remy LeBeau went back to his drink and his cards. Breathing in the smell of the place, he let his attention wander to the house band. A halfway passable blues/jazz act, not bad for a bunch of Yankees who'd probably never been further south than Jersey. The singer, a nondescript white man with pale brown hair, sang with a voice like gravel, a voice meant to be heard in bars and smoke-filled clubs, not concert halls.

There is a house, in New Orleans

And they call it the Rising Sun

And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy

And Lord, I know I'm one...

By the time the song was over, a half-full bottle of Old Thomas lay at the table, surrounded by a random pile of cards. With the snatching of a trenchcoat and the slamming of a door, Remy LeBeau was gone, into the sunset.

Hours later, Remy found himself under a tree, the moonlight casting stippled shadows against his face. He patted his pockets, pulling out his last cigarette. He searched for his lighter, but only found a mostly-empty pack of cards. Chuckling to himself, he pulled one out, letting his power flow into it. The waxed paper glowed a soft pink as he touched it to the end of his cigarette, the residual kinetic energy letting off enough heat to light his smoke. Exhaling softly into the night air, Remy glanced at the glowing card.

The Queen of Hearts.

Remy flipped the card aimlessly into the air, watching it disperse its charge into small burning sparks. *How appropriate, non?*, he joked to himself as he stepped out from under the willow branches. Grinding his cigarette out against his boot, he slid through the shadows until he found himself next to a lattice overgrown with ivy.

*You ain' done dis since you was a pup, Remy. Why you be the fool now?*, came the nagging voice in the back of his brain.

*Because I be settin' t'ings right.*, he replied to himself.

Remy grasped his fingers into the lattice and lifted his body. He kept one foot braced against a drainpipe, so as not to disturb the wires he knew ran behind the lattice as part of the old house's security systems.

*Ain' like I never beat dese before,* he chuckled, pulling himself up. His feet swung up as he held onto the lattice, pivoting his body like a gymnast. Hooking his toes under a rain gutter, he let his fingers go, and doubled over, gracefully avoiding the pressure sensors he knew were installed under this part of the roof.

*Some t'ings are still TOO easy, Remy ol' boy.* He could almost hear Jean-Luc laughing at him in his memory. He grinned despite himself as he hauled himself over to the edge of the roof, dangling by his fingers. Tucking his body into a tight ball, he "walked", hanging by his fingers, along the rain gutter to keep from tripping the infrared beam he knew was beneath him.

Finally, he reached the point he wanted. Bracing his feet against the edge of the roof, he lunged, gripping his fingers at the edge of the window frame and swinging his legs over. He hung there, motionless, three stories above the ground, only a half-inch wooden ledge keeping him from tumbling to the earth. He peered into the room, and saw a green light blinking by the door.

*She turn de security off?* he thought. Memory came back to him, of climbing in this window late at night for but a few secret words of love, of glances filled with longing and promise. *Long ago...* he corrected, *Before Remy screw it all up. But here I am, non? Remy gon' do de right t'ing.*

Sliding his fingers along the edge of the window, Remy leaned forward and up. The old latch sprung, both panes pivoting in with the wind. Remy perched himself on the windowsill, peering in. For a brief moment, the thought crossed his mind, *Dis be a STUPID idea...*, then he saw her.

Still sleeping soundly on her divan, her arms folded under her head, covers kicked to the side. A grin crossed Remy's face as he recalled spending nights watching her sleep, sitting in this very window in silence.

To his shame, he could still recall with crystal clarity the day it all fell apart. The day his past became more important than the woman he loved. And every day since, he'd regretted the pain he'd caused her.

But now, he was putting things right.

Remy stepped lightly inside the window. As soon as his boot touched the carpet, she awoke. Instantly rolling into a defensive stance, she stepped forward. Then her eyes met his. Red stared into blue for a moment that seemed like an eternity. Then, after time slowly started again, Remy broke the silence.

"Hello, Belle."


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