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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
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Chapter 41
Chapter 42
Chapter 43
Chapter 44
Chapter 45
Chapter 46
Chapter 47
Chapter 48
Chapter 49
Chapter 50
Chapter 51
Chapter 52
Chapter 53
Chapter 54
Chapter 55
Chapter 56
Chapter 57
Chapter 58
Chapter 59
Chapter 60
Chapter 61
Chapter 62
Chapter 63
Chapter 64


Written by Valerie Jones
Last updated: 05/10/2010 11:31:24 PM

Chapter 12

Bobby watched the minor confrontation between Cyclops and Gambit with amusement. He was well acquainted with Remy’s ways and was not the least bit surprised that Gambit had answered Scott’s questions with complete honesty. It was all a matter of the intent behind the question. Bobby had the sneaking suspicion that this was the first time Scott had ever asked Remy a personal question out of pure curiosity. From Scott’s expression, he was certain it was the first time Remy had ever given him a straight answer.

The interesting thing to Bobby was that he didn’t think Gambit would have answered the question a couple of months ago. He could only guess at the reasons. Perhaps out of spite or simply to be annoying, Remy had always shown a lot less inclination to cooperate with Scott than with just about any of the other X-Men. Bobby was convinced that it wasn’t entirely because of the ruse that hid Remy’s real lifestyle from the team. There was some personal dislike in there as well.

Bobby wasn’t certain why the change in Remy. Intuition told him it was a reflection of the other man’s growing maturity. Taking on responsibility for the New York Guild had changed Remy in a lot of ways. Bobby was often amazed by the difference in his perspective over that of a year ago. He himself had matured so drastically in that time that he could now see some of the areas where Remy needed to grow.

Cyclops interrupted his thoughts. “Iceman, Psylocke, you’re next.”

Bobby walked over to the mats with a sense of nervous anticipation. He had been working consistently for more than a year to improve his hand-to-hand skills, but had never set himself against any of the X-Men besides Gambit. There were several men in the Guild who were highly skilled in different disciplines, and he had been taking advantage of the chance to learn from them. It hadn’t seemed prudent to let the X-Men see how proficient he’d become, simply because it might raise questions as to where he’d learned his new skills.

Now, however, he was uncertain what to do. On one hand, the risk of raising too many questions was as real as ever. On the other, it had become important for Cyclops to know that Bobby could handle himself without his powers. The X-Men were probably going to need all of his ability to help carry out whatever missions were required to disarm Zero Tolerance’s satellite network.

As he passed Gambit, the other paused in the act of toweling the sweat off his face and grinned.

“Don’ hurt her, neh?” His smile was sly as he cut his gaze toward Psylocke.

Psylocke’s eyebrows rose sharply in an expression of outrage and Bobby chuckled.

“I’ll try not to,” he answered dryly. In truth, he didn’t have any idea whether he could best their resident ninja. Probably not. But the comment from Remy served as a message that he, too, understood the dilemma and thought that it was more important to let the X-Men know what Bobby could do.

To Betsy’s credit, they started out slow. She was obviously trying to be fair, despite Gambit’s poke. Bobby matched her, taking advantage of the opportunity to learn a little about her style. He’d watched her fight for years, but only recently with enough knowledge under his belt to understand what he was seeing.

Soon, their pace increased. He saw the brief flicker of surprise on Betsy’s face as she realized he was still keeping up with her, but then he had no more time for such casual observations as she intensified her attacks. Bobby blocked her and retaliated in kind. He understood suddenly why Remy liked to spar with Psylocke even though they didn’t get along any other time. She was just... fun. It was obvious she was enjoying the round, and the more intense they got, the more she liked it. Bobby found her enthusiasm infectious. Normally he wasn’t much of a fan of this kind of fighting. He worked diligently at it, recognizing his need to become proficient, but it wasn’t the same. Even sparring with Remy wasn’t quite like this because Gambit was always holding back. Betsy fought without limits. For her, it was physical art and Bobby had to admit that he had never properly appreciated that aspect.

Soon, however, it became apparent that she was still quite a bit better than he. He managed to deflect a last flurry of blows, but the exchange left him disoriented and vulnerable, unable to mount a counter attack. To his relief, Psylocke threw up her hand in the signal to halt rather than administering the coup d’grace.

Grinning, she reached out to steady him. “My, you’ve been keeping busy.”

Bobby schooled his expression into an innocent grin. “A little.”

She threw back her head and uttered a silvered laugh, then glanced obliquely toward Gambit. “Remy only has two redeeming qualities, but they both seem to have worn off pretty well.”

“Hey, now.” Remy managed to look properly insulted and Betsy grinned at him as she stepped off the mat.

Then his hurt look evaporated, becoming a familiar mischievous smile. “So, do I get any guesses as t’ what m’ other redeemin’ quality is?”

Betsy chuckled, but Cyclops’ communicator chimed before she could respond.

“Cyclops here.” Bobby could see the unspoken questions in his eyes, even as he turned his attention to the caller.

“Scott, you’d better gather everyone in the War Room.” Jean’s voice was full of concern that was audible even through the tinny echo from the communicator. “We just received a message from Emma Frost.”

A nervous hand gripped Bobby’s stomach at her words. He saw his feelings reflected on the faces around him. They hadn’t been able to get any answer from the Xavier school in Boston after the Zero Tolerance field was established. That in itself wasn’t terribly alarming-- the kids were often gone for one reason or the other. But combined with the unknown agenda of OZT, the silence from Boston had become more ominous.

“We’ll be right there.” Scott’s expression was grim as he surveyed the room.

Emma Frost looked terrible. It wasn’t her appearance, which was as impeccable as always, but instead her carriage and the carefully veiled expression in her eyes. Because of their bizarre body-swapping experience, Bobby knew Emma better than most. What he saw in her now was a kind of carefully controlled panic.

“X-Men, I am not certain how long it will take for this message to reach you. Right now it is approximately six a.m. Eastern Standard Time, the morning after the damping field was activated.”

Bobby arched an eyebrow, curious as to what kind of security she’d put on the transmission. It had taken two days to reach them.

Emma took a deep breath. Bobby was once again struck by how disturbed she was. “I will be brief and direct... Jonothan Starsmore is dead. The damage his psionic powers did to his chest and face when they first emerged was severe.” She paused. “It was not a... total surprise that he could not survive without those powers.”

A murmur of dismay filled the War Room as Emma continued. “Unfortunately, that is not the only casualty we’ve suffered.” She pressed her lips together, her gaze sweeping blindly across them. “If Wolverine is there, I suggest you restrain him.”

“Oh, no,” Jean exclaimed softly, covering her mouth with one hand. Bobby’s stomach twisted savagely.

“Jubilee has been captured by Zero Tolerance.” Emma’s composure cracked for a moment, then firmed before more than a hint of the cold fury behind her eyes could leak out. “The Prime Sentinels came for her. Specifically for her. The rest of us weren’t in their programming, and managed to escape.”

The tight set to Emma’s shoulders betrayed just how keenly she felt the loss of her charges.

“I have moved my remaining students to a place I believe will be beyond Bastion’s reach and will protect them as best I am able. Sean has gone to Muir Island to be with Theresa. Even he does not know where we are.”

Bobby was a little surprised by that, though he supposed he shouldn’t be. Siryn had been airborne when the damping field was activated. She survived the fall but was still in critical condition. Moira had given them a hair-raising story about the effort to transfer her to Muir Island after anti-mutant activists forced their way into the hospital where she was originally treated.

Emma’s gaze roved across the assembled X-Men once more. “I don’t know if it will be safe to send any further messages, but I will do so if I can.” She nodded once, and the screen went dark.

Silence enveloped the War Room. Bobby was filled with a hollow sense of dread. It was hard to imagine Jubilee gone, and even worse to wonder what Bastion intended for her. Jubes had been his partner-in-crime for so many practical jokes he could hardly remember them all and her fierce tenacity had always inspired him. Even though she hadn’t lived at the mansion for a couple of years now, she was still very dear to his heart.

“I sure hope Logan hasn’t gone after her,” Scott said after a moment, his voice so low Bobby wasn’t certain whether anyone else had heard the words. But then Jean turned.

“He wouldn’t go without letting us know what happened to her, even if he wasn’t willing to wait for backup.” Even though she was trying to reassure him, her words were laced with a heavy dose of uncertainty.

Gambit cleared his throat, drawing their attention. Bobby turned toward him in surprise. Remy rarely contributed to discussions like these.

Gambit was threading a single card through the fingers of one hand, the motion hypnotically repetitive. He kept his head down as if watching the card, though Bobby knew he couldn’t see it.

“Dis ain’ exactly a pleasant t’ought, but is anybody wonderin’ why Bastion wanted Jubilee?”

A heavy silence followed, and Bobby saw the muscle in Scott’s jaw clench. The knot of fear in his own stomach tightened.

No one answered, and after a while Scott prompted, “Do you have a theory, Gambit?” Bobby wasn’t certain if what he heard in his voice was sarcasm or simply tension.

The restless weaving of the card never faltered. “She knows us. She knows where we live. She knows de security system.”

The card snapped to a halt in his hand, face showing, and Bobby felt a chill. The suicide king seemed like a bad omen.

“She was the easiest target,” Bishop added, his face abnormally grim. “If Bastion wants information about the X-Men, she’s the ideal candidate.”

“She is just a child,” Storm protested, but the fear in her eyes testified to how little she believed that Jubilee’s age would protect her.

“I don’t think that matters to a man like Bastion.” Joseph’s expression was hard with anger, and Bobby studied him with sudden interest. With that expression, he looked far too much like Magneto for Bobby’s comfort, yet the young X-Man didn’t think the Master of Magnetism would ever have had such horror reflected from his eyes. Whatever had happened to Joseph, it had changed him radically.

“We should consider the mansion security breached, Cyclops.” Bishop’s fingers twitched as if he longed to reach for the rifle slung across his back. “It would be prudent to evacuate now, before Bastion’s forces locate us.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Bobby saw the card Gambit was holding disappear with a tiny flicker of motion. He could tell Remy was pleased. Bishop had done exactly what he had obviously been hoping he would, and had saved Gambit from having to make the suggestion himself.

Cyclops raised a hand. “Slow down, Bishop. I’m not going to abandon the mansion based on a string of suppositions. So far, all we know is that Jubilee has been captured.”

Bishop opened his mouth to protest, but Cyclops cut him off. “I agree that it’s a possibility.”

The two men locked gazes for a moment then Bishop nodded sharply in acceptance. Scott went on, “However, I don’t want to react in panic and endanger all our lives by acting rashly. We need to double check our security and take whatever precautions we can to prevent a breach. And, we should prepare for the chance that we may need to leave the mansion in a hurry. But beyond that, we should be bending our efforts towards finding Jubilee and freeing her.” He turned toward Ororo. “Storm?”

Storm nodded slowly. “I agree, Cyclops. The mansion’s defenses are considerable. We should not be too quick to abandon their protection.”

Cyclops surveyed the room. “Anyone else?”

For a moment, Bobby actually thought Gambit was going to argue the point. Bishop also seemed less than happy with the decision. His eyebrows were drawn in a deep scowl, but Bobby knew that he wouldn’t contradict Scott on the same subject twice.

When no one answered with a differing view, Cyclops nodded. “Bishop, I’m putting you in charge of security. Do whatever you think necessary and draft anyone you need.”

His scowl slightly diminished, Bishop nodded.

Cyclops turned to Jean. “Jean, you and Betsy are the most familiar with Cerebro. See what you can do to locate Jubilee.”

The two women exchanged glances and Jean nodded.

“The rest of you should stick to your duty assignments for now,” Scott concluded. “We’ll rearrange the roster as necessary.”

The gathered X-Men dispersed slowly, their conversations muted. Bobby angled across the room to fall in beside Gambit, who did not acknowledge him. Bobby held his tongue. This wasn’t the place to talk, though he was sure they had a lot to talk about.

In the hall, Gambit flashed him a covert look. “Outside.”

Bobby nodded fractionally in understanding.

Bobby stopped by his room to change and to fill Diedre in on what had happened before going out to meet Remy. He found him near the end of the drive, smoking and scuffing the soles of his sneakers across the blacktop. He looked for all the world like an overgrown teenager. Bobby had to shake his head sharply to dispel the impression and look beyond for the man he knew was hidden there.

They were standing just out of range of the gate cameras and audio pickup, so Bobby pitched his voice low, but didn’t bother to switch to hand signs. The Guilds had a complex sign language, far richer than the military-style signals used by the X-Men, but it was still an effort to hold a conversation in the silent language. Besides, he wasn’t entirely certain how well Remy would be able to see them.

“What do you think the chances are the Bastion knows where we are?” Just asking gave him a twinge.

Remy glanced up at him, his expression hidden. Bobby belatedly remembered that he cared a great deal for Jubilee as well. “Pretty high an’ climbin’,” he answered then took another drag on his cigarette.

A cold hand of terror reached up Bobby’s throat and tried to choke him. Don’t think about it, he warned himself. Don’t let it paralyze you.

“What should we do?”

Remy gave him another of his hooded glances. “I jus’ called Midnight an’ told him dey were on.”

Bobby’s stomach twisted another notch. The disaster that Remy had been predicting for several months was becoming altogether too real. He was just grateful that they had been making preparations. He couldn’t express the almost painful relief he felt at the thought of his parents being moved someplace safe and protected.

“What about the X-Men?”

Remy voiced a frustrated sigh and dropped his spent cigarette on the ground, where he stomped on it with excessive force. “Y’ heard de same t’ing I did. Dey’re determined t’ stay. Ain’ not’ing I c’n do or say right now t’ change anybody’s mind.”

And that, Bobby reflected, was the downside of not telling the X-Men the truth. Even if he had proof, the X-Men might not believe Remy. They certainly weren’t going to take his word for anything.

“Bishop agrees, and so does Joseph, I think. Jean, too, though she wasn’t going to openly contradict Scott.”

Remy nodded slowly. “Jean can’ afford t’ get caught in de middle o’ de war zone. She’s got de baby t’ worry ‘bout.”

“Do you think she can sway Scott?”

Remy considered him for a moment, his expression thoughtful. “Maybe.” He shrugged. “Worth a try, I guess.” His gaze grew distant. “But if dat don’ work... “


Remy’s red eyes fastened on him with eerie intensity. “Den I’ll do whatever I have to t’ keep dem alive.”


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