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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 3

As Remy spoke the final words of the ceremony, he felt Guildmaster Lotho’s hands tighten over his. It was a supportive gesture. Remy wondered briefly if his face reflected how thoroughly he was reeling on the inside. It was partly a matter of the oath he was accepting—an oath of loyalty and service that bound him to the New York Guild until his death-- but it was also simply a matter of his mutant powers. Remy’s kinesthetic sense was damped down to a level he could stand, but still, his power tracked the motion of each of the three thousand plus people who ringed him. He could have pushed his awareness down further and saved himself the accompanying nausea, but he wanted to feel them. These were his family now. They were his responsibility and wherever he decided to lead them, they would go.

For a man who had spent much of his life running away from responsibility, it was something of a shock.

“If I let you go, son, are you going to fall over on me?”

Guildmaster Lotho’s blue eyes glinted with amusement. Remy had the distinct impression the other man was pleased by his reaction. Around them, the other seven Guildmasters were arranged in a circle, and though their faces were hidden as required by tradition, Remy could feel a sense of approval from many of them as well. He wasn’t certain why, but he had gotten the feeling that, after the initial surprise had worn off, many of the Guildmasters had ended up cautiously agreeing with the New York Guild’s choice.

Remy shook his head and took a deep breath. “I’m all right, Guildmaster.”

Lotho squeezed his hands once more, then released him and stepped back. The ceremonial sword that Remy had taken his oath on was streaked red with his blood, but he ignored the burning pain in his palm as he brought the blade up in a salute. In response, the silence in the underground amphitheater shattered as the combined members of the clans and the Guild began to applaud. Within the confined space of the arena the sound bounced around, reflecting off of walls and ceiling until the entire cavern vibrated with the thunderous roar.

Remy closed his eyes briefly, once again overwhelmed, and then brought the sword down sharply to complete the salute. In a part of his mind, he understood that the applause wasn’t entirely for him, Remy LeBeau. The Guild in particular, but also the Clans by extension, had suffered a great deal of harm at Michael’s hands. They were eager for change and for a new start. Much of that hope was wrapped up in Remy as the new Guildmaster, and their enthusiasm would probably not have been any different no matter who was taking up the reins. But still, it was incredibly gratifying and in that instant he was certain that he would do everything in his power to fulfill the oath he had just taken.

Remy hesitated on the threshold of the Guildmaster’s quarters within the Guild complex. He had been there before, of course, to see Michael, but he hadn’t been back since the other man’s death. He vaguely recalled someone asking him about decor, but with the flurry of preparations it hadn’t really connected in his mind that the suite would be redone for him. He had opened the door expecting Michael’s modern impressionist art, the angular furniture and oddly colored lighting. Instead, he was greeted by a far more pleasant scene.

Remy stepped inside, allowing the solid oak door to swing shut behind him. The only constant thing in the room was the massive desk. Even Michael had had the sense not to try to replace that. It was nearly three hundred years old, made by a master craftsman in Italy for the first Guildmaster of New York.

Remy ran his fingers lightly across the polished mahogany surface and with a sigh sat down in the high backed leather chair behind it. From there, he surveyed the office. His office. The thought was enough to draw a snort of amusement.

A Monet was hung directly across from his seat at the desk. He studied it while his thief’s training picked out the details of the room. The carpet was short but plush, done in a subdued paisley that contrasted nicely with the creamy color of the walls and the dark wood trim. A portion of the room was taken up by a couch and several chairs arranged in a comfortable group. Remy took note of the low profile video/sound system built into the wall at the focus of the arrangement. There was also a small wet bar, flanked by a pair of tropical-looking plants Remy didn’t recognize. Everything in the room was of exquisite quality and matched his tastes perfectly.

There was one other door in the room, which presumably led to the rest of the suite. Remy had never been through it, and had no idea how extensive the area beyond might be. He wasn’t quite ready to go exploring, however.

Sighing softly, Remy closed his eyes and laid his head back against the chair. A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts almost before he’d had the time to form any. He’d been keeping his spatial sense damped as far as possible in the hours after the Guild ceremony in an attempt to bleed off the overload to his system, and so the knock startled him. But as soon as he set his power loose, he recognized the person outside the door.

“Door’s open, Bobby,” he called.

The familiar blond head and matching grin peeked around the door. Bobby looked around as he came inside.

“Nice,” he commented.

Remy was once again amazed by how much Bobby had changed. The boy who would have been intimidated by that room had vanished, and in his place stood a man who studied his surroundings with casual interest.

“Y’ headed home?” Remy asked him.

Bobby nodded. “Diedre wanted to talk to her mom for a while, but I think they’re about ready to call it a night. I just wanted to check in with you before we left.”

Remy waved him away. “I’m fine. I’ll see y’ back at de mansion in a few days, neh?” Knowing that taking over the Guild would require all of his time for a while, he’d given the X-Men a story about going to visit an old friend in New Orleans. Scott hadn’t been thrilled, but he’d accepted the excuse without question which was all that mattered to Remy.

“Right.” Bobby grinned again. “Good night... Guildmaster.”

Their gazes locked. Remy felt a surge of affection and appreciation for the young man. He was a rarity in Remy’s life—a real friend-- and the note of pure confidence in his voice was a much needed reassurance. He found himself grinning in response.

“G’night, T’ief.”

Scott Summers rapped gently on the open lab door and waited for Hank to look up from whatever intricate work he was doing.

“Can I help you with something, O Fearless One?” Hank asked with a smile as he adjusted his glasses.

Scott shot him a brief look of annoyance. He couldn’t even remember who had hung that particular nickname on him, but he never had liked it. The X-Men seemed to, though, which was why he tried not to protest too much.

“Yeah, Hank. I wanted to talk to you about Gambit.” He came forward into the room and stopped beside the table where Hank was working.

“Is something wrong?” An expression of concern creased his friend’s blue face.

Scott cocked his head. “You’re the one who cleared him for active status.”

Hank’s expression cleared. “Ah.” He sat back in his chair. “But you’re still concerned.”

Scott sighed and rapped the table lightly with his fingertips. He still wasn’t sure what exactly it was that was bothering him about Gambit these days, but Hank seemed like the best person to start with to see if he couldn’t bring the nagging uncertainty to light.

He nodded. “I am. You said he would recover ninety-five percent of his abilities—“

“I said he could recover as much as ninety-five percent,” Hank clarified. He pulled off his glasses and tossed them down on the table. “But no matter what, it’s going to take more time than this. The injuries themselves have healed, but to rebuild the strength and stamina will take longer.”

“So you don’t think putting him back on active status now is... premature?”

Hank’s expression turned thoughtful. “In terms of his ability to support the team...” He frowned, “Probably. But in terms of his own recovery, it simply couldn’t have waited any longer.”

Scott considered that. He understood Hank’s point, but couldn’t say that he agreed. Hank was first and foremost a physician, and as such, his priorities often focused on the needs of the individual X-Men rather than those of the team.

“I can understand that it’s important for Remy to feel valuable,” Scott said, “but I’m not willing to put the entire team at risk just to bolster his confidence.”

Hank chuckled lightly. “You haven’t spent much time with our Ragin’ Cajun lately, have you? He doesn’t need confidence.”

Scott eyed him doubtfully. “You think the bravado is more than skin deep?”

“I know so.” Hank’s expression turned solemn. “I watched him learn how to walk again, remember?”

Scott pressed his lips together, surprised by the reaction. He hadn’t realized that Hank was so deeply impressed by Remy’s recovery. It shed a slightly different light on their conversation. Sighing, he crossed his arms and settled himself to listen. “O.k. Hank. Explain it to me.”

Hank nodded and flashed him a grin. “How fit would you say you are?”

“What?” Scott floundered with the abrupt change in direction.

Hank chuckled at his reaction. “No need to be embarrassed, now. I’m your doctor. But, compared to say... a member of the SEALs... how would you rate?”

Scott fought the heat he could feel building in his cheeks. His parents and grandparents had always taught him that it was rude to boast about your own abilities, but Hank was his doctor as he’d said. He should already know the answer, and the opening was simply more than Scott could resist.

“You know I’d eat his lunch,” he quipped, and was answered by Hank’s bark of laughter.

“Indeed. And why is that? Certainly the military’s top operatives train as hard as you do, wouldn’t you think?”

Scott thought about that for a moment, and then nodded. “I guess that’s a reasonable assumption.” The question started his mind to turning. Why was it that the X-Men always had the advantage when they clashed with the military’s best? It wasn’t just a matter of powers. As he thought back through some of the conflicts he remembered, he could clearly see the distinct physical advantage some of the X-Men held.

Hank seemed to know when he’d followed his thoughts to their conclusion. “It’s a matter of lifestyle,” he said quietly. “We X-Men train diligently because it could save our lives, but that is no different than a number of other people with dangerous professions. The difference is, to a large degree, how often we are called on to exercise that training. We are in more violent conflicts more often than just about anyone else. And then, on our downtime, we play in the Danger Room or we engage in games of full-powers combat basketball.”

Scott had to smile at the memories Hank was conjuring up for him, but despite his amusement, he understood what the other was trying to say. “All right. I suppose I take your point. But Remy came to the X-Men in that kind of condition.”

Hank nodded. “Because he was a professional thief. I believe the same principles apply.”

“Hmpf. Maybe.” Scott stared unseeing at his reflection in the gleaming surface of the lab table. “I would be surprised if thieving was that demanding.”

Hank very slowly arched one eyebrow. “Are you suggesting some other source for his conditioning?” There was a note of uneasiness in his voice.

Scott looked up into his friend’s eyes. “I’m not suggesting anything. But it does make me wonder.”

“Wonder what, exactly?”

Scott shrugged uncomfortably. “Where Gambit comes from. I can’t say that joining the X-Men has improved his fighting skills one whit—he was already in top form when he got here. I suppose I’d be forced to admit that his teamwork skills have improved dramatically, but that’s a slightly different issue.”

Hank fingered the rim of his glasses for a moment, then picked them up and placed them back on his nose. “Well, this is your opportunity, then.”

“For what?”

Hank’s smile was strangely knowing. “Remy isn’t going to be able to regain his abilities without the X-Men... unless he goes back to wherever he got his training in the first place.”

The Club was in full swing when Remy arrived. He had taken the back stairs that rose from the underground levels of the Guild complex where his office was located, and so went unnoticed for a few moments as he stood in the shadows in a back corner of the room. To the untrained eye, he knew the sea of people and the raucous babble of conversations would seem like nothing more than what it pretended to be—a high dollar night club and casino. But to Remy, the true significance of the events that transpired all around him was obvious. This was where the Thieves Guild did its business. Amid the lights and music, the drinks, the tables and the women, there were pockets of seriousness. Here was where the Guild negotiated its contracts and accepted its fees. After all, what simpler means of accepting payment was there than for the person in question to lose the required amount at the craps table?

Remy narrowed his attention, focusing on Artur Valencia. Artur sat with a man Remy recognized at one of the little café tables. They were supposed to be working out the final details of a fairly risky but highly rewarding pinch that the Guild had contracted. It was the kind of work Remy would have taken had he not had so many other things to do at the moment, and he felt a small pang of jealousy.

Artur and the man shook hands, concluding their conversation, and Remy stepped out into the crowd. As he made his way toward Artur, the people around him noticed his presence and moved out of the way with a nod or a brief apology. It was nice, if a bit disconcerting, not to have to maneuver his way through the crowd. Remy was not quite as composed as he would have liked when he stepped up onto the raised platform that housed the small café.

“Guildmaster,” Artur greeted him with a smile.

“Evenin’ Artur,” Remy returned, and nodded toward the retreating figure of Artur’s guest. “He went f’ it?”

Artur nodded and sat back down in his chair. “No complaints on any of the stipulations. He’s willing to wait on delivery to make sure it can’t be traced, so we shouldn’t have any problems.”

“Dat’s good.” Remy sat down opposite him and stretched his legs out under the table.

“The only question now is who the job should be given to.” Artur eyed Remy speculatively, as if debating whether to say anything more.

Remy tapped the slick black table top lightly with one finger as he considered his response. Artur was almost fifteen years Remy’s senior, and knew a good deal more about running the Guild than Remy did. He was a born administrator who knew the abilities of each and every Guild thief. He had already become invaluable as an advisor on the inner workings of the administrative aspects of Guild leadership.

But the statement he had made to Remy was more of a test, to see if the new Guildmaster was going to establish himself as the final authority on such decisions, or if he was going to delegate the task completely as Michael had done. Remy’s first instinct was to do absolutely the opposite of Michael no matter what it was, but he squelched the desire. The fact that Michael had kept out of many of the day-to-day details of running his Guild was probably the only reason they’d survived. Artur and the other men like him had done a commendable job of keeping the Guild on track, except where Michael’s influence had countered their efforts.

He met Artur’s eyes. “Y’ have a recommendation?” It would be foolish of Remy to ignore the experience and expertise of a man like Artur, but he did want to be more involved in the details of the Guild than Michael was.

Artur favored him with one of his strangely gentle smiles. “Do you know Joseph Kline?”

Remy couldn’t help a small scowl. Joseph was a talented thief, but he was also one of Michael’s cronies. He’d been found innocent of any actions that would have threatened the Guild. Still, Remy considered him to be neutral, at best.

’Course, I may jus’ be prejudiced ‘gainst de man because o’ his name, Remy reminded himself sarcastically. A different Joseph was part of the reason for the friction between Rogue and himself. For some bizarre, unthinkable reason, Rogue had decided to take a de-aged and memory-less Magneto under her wing. The ex-villain had developed a crush on her that wasn’t sitting well with Remy at all.

“Joseph is loyal to the Guild,” Artur said, and Remy forced his mind back onto the topic at hand.

But not loyal t’ me, he thought, realizing the importance of the difference. “What about Marcus?” Marcus Black was one of a very few thieves Remy felt had the ability to become a Master thief.

Artur nodded. “He has the skill, certainly, but he isn’t very familiar with Syndex security systems.” Syndex used a non-standard wiring layout and had the unfortunate tendency to booby-trap portions of their more complex systems. They were one of the leaders in advanced security, and were responsible for protecting the item that the Guild had contracted to steal.

They talked for a while longer until Remy was convinced that Artur had indeed named the best man for the job, despite his reservations.

Remy sighed and drained the last of his scotch. “If you’ve got dat much confidence in him, den I trust y’ judgment,” he told Artur and was rewarded by the older man’s expression of pleased surprise.

“I appreciate that, Guildmaster.” Artur nodded and stood, giving Remy an oddly conspiratorial grin. “The line seems to be forming, so I’ll get on with this and let someone else have a chance at you.”

Remy couldn’t help but return the smile. He, too, had noticed the people who hovered nearby, waiting for their turn to talk to the Guildmaster. In many cases, he already knew what the topics of conversation would be, but there were a few that looked to be new problems for him to deal with. He fingered his empty glass, debating whether to order a second drink. He had the sudden feeling that it was going to be a long night.

The sharp, insistent ringing of the phone dragged Rogue out of her dreams. She rolled over, reaching for the handset, as she caught sight of the alarm clock whose digital numbers glowed an iridescent green in the darkness.

Still groggy, she managed to grab the receiver and put it against her ear. “Hello?”

“M’ sorry, chere. Did I wake y’?”

Recognition drove away her sleepiness. “Remy?” She glanced at the clock again. “Remy, it’s almost three in the mornin’. Are ya all right?” There was something in his voice that alarmed her.

“M’ fine, chere. I jus’... wanted t’ hear y’ voice.”

Rogue paused, everything she might have said to him suddenly forgotten as a tingling warmth spread outward from her stomach. They hadn’t said much to each other before he’d left, and now, four days later, she could hardly remember what she’d been so angry about.

“You sound tired, sugah.” That was what set her internal alarms to ringing. He sounded utterly exhausted and she couldn’t help but wonder if his casual “visit” wasn’t for far more serious reasons than he’d let on.

Remy chuckled lightly, though, and his voice lost its dullness. “I haven’ been gettin’ much sleep.” He yawned hugely and Rogue grinned. He was sounding better by the moment. Her worry eased somewhat.

“Are ya comin’ home soon?”

“Oui, chere. Day or two, I t’ink.” She heard him rustling around, the sounds indistinct through the phone. There was a soft thud, followed by a second, that Rogue thought might be shoes hitting the ground. Then Remy sighed softly and the rustling stopped. “Y’ still gon’ be mad at me when I get dere?”

Rogue sucked in her breath in surprise at the blunt question. She had to stop and think for a moment about the argument they’d had and what it was that had upset her so much about his behavior.

“Ah... don’t think so.” She paused a moment, then forced herself to say the rest of the words that hovered on the tip of her tongue. “Ah just wish ya’d let me into ya life a little bit.” Her heart was pounding in terror as the words left her mouth, and she waited in dreadful anticipation of how he would answer.

“Maybe...“ His voice was faint, as if his mind was far away, wrapped up in its own thoughts. “Maybe dat would be a good idea.”

She waited a bit longer, but he remained silent.

“Is that a promise, Cajun?” she asked, hoping that she sounded teasing rather than demanding—or desperate.

“Oui.” He was back suddenly, snapped out of his thoughts. “It is. We’ll go out once I get back, neh? Dere’s a place I should take y’.”

“All right,” she agreed, uncertain exactly what it was she was agreeing to. It sounded more significant than just a date, but it was the first time Remy had ever offered her information and she wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity.

“I’ll see y’ when I get back den.”

“Ah’ll be waitin’.”

Rogue slowly set the phone back down in its cradle and rolled over to lie on her back. She stared at the ceiling, her thoughts whirling. She hardly dared to hope that whatever Remy had in mind might mean some real answers– and a chance for their relationship to finally move forward.


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