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Chapter 1


Written by Sarah Watkins
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 1

It was with no small amount of irony that he realised the cards he had dealt were lousy. Story of his life. The number of times that Remy LeBeau compared his existence to a game of Patience counted into the millions. Probably.

He sat now, eyes downcast, to all intents and purposes immersed in the spread of cards on the table. If only they knew. f only, he thought, with a short inner laugh, they cared. Emotions had been running high since his return. They hadn't truly forgiven him for what had happened to the Morlocks. As if the guilt that weighed the thief down wasn't enough, his fellow X-Men saw fit to flail him with the Morlock whip on a daily basis. Usually unintentional, he was fairly sure. But the looks and whispers...they were directed at him.

He slammed the black queen onto the red king viciously, causing a few heads to turn in his general direction. He looked up and his red-eyed gaze met that of the other X-Men in the room. Unable to contain his anger, he let a burst of it escape his lips."What? What? Why you always lookin' at Gambit so? Mon Dieu!" He let rip a string of Cajun expletives that always sounded better in their native language.

It had the desired effect. One by one, his fellows left the room, leaving the fuming Cajun alone. Fine. Great. Just the way he liked it. "Gambit don't know why he done gone come back dis place," he growled to himself, slapping another draw of three from the deck in his left hand.

He had tried, the gods only knew how hard, to be accepted back into their fellowship. But something had changed forever. Once Rogue had uncovered the truth about the raid on the Morlocks...Remy cursed himself roundly. He had sworn not to think of her again. He couldn't afford to let himself fall for her again. The fact that he loved her more than he'd ever thought it possible to love anyone...he shook his head fiercely, locks of wild brown hair falling around his face.

Red jack. Black ten. Red nine. Draw three, draw three. Black eight.

Dull. Monotonous. How Remy hated to play Patience. But it gave his churning mind a focus. Poker was too strategic, other games too easy. Patience gave Remy an escape from the world of trickery. To cheat at Patience would be to cheat himself. And he knew he could do that. Knew it only too well.

He stared in silence at the regimented rows of cards on the table in front of him. Neatly laid one on top of another, following all the rules, never bending. The X-Men in card form.

With a shuddering sob, Remy swept the cards from the table and sank his head into his arms. Eyes closed, he tried to black out the memories that rose and sank like wallowing beasts. Always, always there was Rogue...the look of hatred...the look of one who has discovered a deception beyond her comprehension. They'd never let him explain himself, to put his side of the story forward.

He'd been accepted back into the X-Men, sure. But it hadn't been willingly. It had been...almost dutiful. It had smacked of "Remy, you're back, how nice. There's your room...just how you left it...there's your life...just how you screwed it up...there's all your one-time friends and allies...just how you alienated them, don't ask us to say how much we missed you, because, basically, we didn't."

"Gambit should've done stayed in Antarctica," he said aloud. "Alors, the snow was warmer than dese people." Slowly he raised his head and stared balefully round the room. He brushed a lock of hair out of his eyes and was surprised to discover his finger came away wet with his own tears. He hadn't even realised how his own emotions were racing up and down as if on a roller coaster.


The soft voice and Southern drawl could only be hers. "Go 'way, Rogue," he said, refusing to turn to face her.

"Remy...it's gonna take time. For us and for you." She bent down and started to pick up the cards. Putting them quietly on the table, she surveyed the back of his head. Did she still love him? She didn't know. Could she ever trust him again? She didn't know. Was there any hope for them?

She didn't know.

It was her fault he had come to this. Remy LeBeau...Southern charmer. The man she had grown to...love. The man who had sworn his love for her. But time and events had changed that. They had naturally grown apart. But if Rogue cared to admit it...to see the smooth talking Cajun like this...his rugged face wet with tears of loneliness and anger...it broke her heart.

It took her by surprise when he turned to face her, his eyes meeting hers. As always, that red-on-black gaze sent shivers down her spine. But this time there was something more to it than Gambit's lustful gaze. There was hope and pleading in those strange eyes. A plea for forgiveness, a request for acceptance. Her hand shaking, she reached out as if she would touch his face. But her resolve failed her at the last moment and her hand dropped by her side. The movement was tiny, imperceptible - and Gambit did not see it. All he saw was scorn and rejection.

"Ah know you think Gambit done a bad thing, ma petite," he finally said, his voice thick with emotion.

"An' ah know ah did. But there's more...so much more that ya don't know about. About how ah di'nt know what was gone happen..." Rogue shook her head.

"Not yet, Remy," she said softly. "It's too soon...too raw." His face fell so far she thought it'd go crashing through the floor. She picked up his cards again and stared at them. Sliding the card she held in her hand into the pack, she shuffled them a little inexpertly and dealt out a hand of Patience. She knew that was all he played now.

"Go back to ya game, Remy. See what it teaches you." She turned on her heel and left the room, wishing for all the world that she had the ability to turn back time.

He watched her go. Let her go. Ached for her with every fiber of his being. "I truly sorry, Rogue," he said softly. "You ain't never gonna un'nerstan' just how sorry ah am." He sat in reflective silence for some time before turning back to his game.

Red queen on black king...draw three, draw three...

The joker? What was the joker doing in the pack? Remy checked it suspiciously. He'd taken it out before starting to play. The joker was the wild card. The game of Patience had no use for a wild card. Unless he changed the rules. Unless he used the wild card to change the way the game was played. Unless he took that wild card and adapted it to suit his purposes.

Looking up at the spot recently vacated by Rogue, Gambit began to laugh.

"Dere's hope for this here wild card, mon ami" he breathed, his fingers closing around the joker. "Dere's hope."


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