Home | Forum | Mailing List | Repository | Links | Gallery
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 30

Remy watched the people filing into the Guild council chamber with a growing sense of dread. The council had made its decision, finally. And though he sat at the head of the table, he had no say in today’s proceedings. He could only sit and listen… and accept.

His chest tightened as Scott, Ororo and Rogue filed in behind the last of the council members. Hopefully the X-Men’s presence meant the council had decided to keep the alliance intact. That explained Scott and Ororo, at least. Rogue he was far less certain of, and the hard knot in his stomach tightened another notch. He desperately wished he could see her face, if only to know how much she blamed him for dragging her into his Guild mess. Her wild heat signature and rapidly beating heart only told him that her emotions were running high at the moment-- she had her body language under control, giving him little insight into what those emotions might be.

He made himself look away from Rogue. He had sworn an oath on his own blood to put his loyalty to the Guild above everything else, including the only woman he had ever truly fallen in love with. Despite that, he had held on to the hope that somehow, someday, he would be able to find the way to keep both in his life.

Y’ went all in an’ y’ lost, Remy. Face it. And now he felt like there was an empty hole in the middle of his chest.

Remy buried that thought before it could swallow him. He couldn’t afford those emotions right now.

He turned his attention back to the council members, who were settling into their seats. Everywhere he looked, Remy read anger, dismay, and a sense of grim resolution. Even Adrian and his lackey, Carson, were less than happy. They certainly didn’t radiate the gloating satisfaction Remy would have expected had Adrian managed to turn the situation entirely to his benefit. He felt a small measure of relief. If Adrian wasn’t coming away from this meeting with total victory then perhaps things were a little better than he’d feared.

There’s a chance y’ might not die today after all, he told himself sarcastically. He honestly didn’t know whether his death had been up for discussion. Surely the fact that he’d been right, time and time again, and had brought the Guild to ground before OZT could catch wind of their existence, had to count for something. Didn’t it? The bitterness he tried to keep buried surged to the fore, filling his mouth with the taste of gall. What law of the universe stated that Remy LeBeau never, ever got to catch a break? Never got to make a mistake, or a questionable decision, and not have to pay for it with blood and tears?

There was little conversation as the council members took their places. To Remy’s surprise, Scott and Ororo had been given seats at the far end of the table, granting them status, in their positions as the X-Men’s leaders, equal to that of the men they faced. The arrangement had all the hallmarks of a negotiation. Rogue stood behind the two X-Men, a hand on the back of either chair.

Scott and Ororo waited quietly in their places. And, though he could read a mass of restrained anger from Cyclops, he sensed no curiosity from either of them and only a little apprehension, making him think that, whatever was about to happen, it had been worked out in advance.

So, the council will be observin’ de forms of a negotiation, but all the decisions have been made already. The conclusion made him painfully aware that he was probably the only person in the room who did not already know what the council had decided.

At the midpoint of the table, Artur Valencia stood and the room immediately grew silent. Usually, it was the Guildmaster’s place to call the meeting to order.

Artur turned to Remy. “With your permission, Guildmaster?”

Remy gripped the armrests of his chair so hard his knuckles began to ache, but he nodded.

Artur looked toward the far end of the table. “The Guild council welcomes the X-Men,” he said with all appearance of sincerity, “and looks forward to a long and mutually rewarding relationship.”

He received a nod of acknowledgment from Scott, and Ororo’s graceful “We are honored,” in response, and Remy felt a hot rush of relief. He forced his hands to unclench. They were going to keep the alliance intact. That alone was worth anything they decided to do to him.

Artur went on. “Until now, the alliance between our two groups has been an unofficial one, but, in light of recent events it has become necessary for a formal agreement to be struck.” Several of the council members’ gazes turned toward Remy, which he returned evenly. He would not show regret. Not when he had made the best choice he could, given the circumstances.

Artur glanced down at Chess LaSalle, who sat beside him, and then to the X-Men seated at the far end of the table. “The Thieves Guild has made many alliances throughout the centuries, with kings, with clans, and with other organizations whose interests have paralleled our own. The strength of these relationships, we have learned, cannot be spelled out in laws or treaties, but is born of the human bond between our peoples. And the greatest bond that ties people together is family.”

At the opposite end of the table, Rogue was nodding her head in unconscious agreement. Remy found her reaction puzzling in the extreme. He didn’t know why she was there to begin with, which made him nervous, and she seemed too calm, too collected, for anything the council could reasonably have decided.

Artur braced his fingertips against the table. “Therefore, as we forge this new alliance with our friends, the X-Men, we must also join together as family—one blood, one purpose, for the good of all.”

Warning bells began to ring in Remy’s mind. He’d heard this speech before, in New Orleans, on the day the Thieves Guild and Assassins tried to make peace. His stomach lurched.

Artur went on, heedless of his discomfort. “In all of human history, family has been built through marriage. We shall be no different.” He gestured to include all of the people seated at the table. “To this end, the Guild council requests the hand of Rogue, daughter of the X-Men, to be given in marriage to the Guildmaster of New York, to seal the pact between us.”

Remy heard the words, but could hardly believe them. He turned an incredulous look on Artur. His relationship with Rogue lay at the center of their current problems-- more specifically, the fact that he’d lied about his relationship with Rogue. He couldn’t imagine the council, or the Guild for that matter, allowing that relationship to be legitimized.

He tried to catch hold of the sudden hope that wanted to leap up inside him. It couldn’t be that simple. In his experience, nothing ever was.

“The X-Men have no objections,” Scott said stiffly. His heat signature flared, making it obvious to Remy that he was lying. But whatever his objections, he wasn’t going to voice them. Ororo’s reaction was far more subdued. Her signature shifted as well, but it was more a flicker of resignation, as if she were deeply uncertain about the wisdom of this course, but could offer nothing better to replace it.

Remy’s instincts began to scream. Behind the two X-Men, he could see Rogue’s fingers flexing rhythmically on the backs of their chairs. He stared at the mottled infrared colors that made up her face, wishing desperately that he could see her expression. Something about this situation was deeply, deeply wrong.

Bracing himself, Remy cleared his throat, gaining the instant attention of the entire room. He kept his attention focused on the woman across from him. “Rogue?” he asked quietly. “Is dis what you want?” Surrounded by the Guild council, he couldn’t say any of the things that crowded on his tongue, but he needed something. Anything that would give him some understanding of why she was there.

Rogue shifted her weight, her stance odd… brittle. But when she spoke, her voice held its usual honeyed warmth. “It is, sugah.”

The brief assurance sent a burst of warmth through Remy. She was his fondest, most treasured dream and despite his misgivings about the entire situation, hearing her state so clearly that she wanted to be with him made his heart want to soar.

Artur watched their short exchange in silence then rapped his knuckled lightly on the table top. Remy tore his gaze away from Rogue.

Artur surveyed the table, his expression invisible to Remy’s limited sight. “However,” the thief said in his quiet voice, “regardless of how beneficial this alliance, the Guild’s first responsibility must be to the safety of its members. The entirety of Guild law and practice is aimed at guaranteeing this, as much as is humanly possible.” Artur paused, and for the first time Remy heard hesitation in his voice. “To that end, no stranger can be brought into the Guild without the proper forms and rituals.”

Remy bit his lip. He’d blown the proper forms and rituals out of the water when he’d brought the X-Men into the Guild complex, and would wear the scars from that choice for the rest of his life. And, unfortunately, there was no way to wind back the clock in an attempt to apply those proper procedures to Rogue.

Artur’s thoughts seemed to follow the same path as his own. “In other circumstances, the Guild would welcome Rogue with open arms and great affection, but we cannot because she was brought here under false pretenses. The rituals by which we safeguard our people’s futures cannot be applied now.” He looked toward Remy, the set of his shoulders betraying reluctance. “So we have had to dig well into the past for the means to bridge the gap between our peoples-- older laws and rites by which a woman not of the clans can be brought into the Guild.” He took a deep breath and squared his shoulders. “By force, rather than a choice freely made.”

It took Remy a couple of seconds to sort through the vast library of Guild history in his head and find the rites Artur alluded to. The Guild didn’t use coercion. Entry was always a matter of choice. Except for one circumstance: To protect itself from betrayal by a woman who entered the Guild solely as a token of the treaty struck between her people and the thieves, the Guild had resorted to a combination of physical and mental torture to break that woman’s will to the point that she would not dare act against the Guild.

Remy shot to his feet, horrified. “Y’ can’t be serious!” He looked around the table, at the men to whom he was beholden as their Guildmaster. “This is insane! Rogue’s no threat t’ the Guild, you know that. How can y’ even be suggestin’ dis?”

Artur was a well-trained thief. He did not react visibly to the outburst, but Remy saw his core temperature spike. “When our Guildmaster sees fit to disregard all of the normal, humane rules the Guild has put in place for such situations,” Artur said in a deathly cold voice, “we have no choice.”

Understanding hit Remy with the force of a blow. His knees gave out on him and he collapsed into his chair, hardly able to breathe through the pain in his gut. They would follow Guild law to the letter in order to preserve the alliance with the X-Men, and they would hurt Rogue to punish him for putting the Guild in such an untenable situation in the first place. And the worst part of it was, he couldn’t do anything about it. His hands balled into fists beneath the table as a wave of impotent fury threatened to swamp him.

Artur’s cold tone softened, but remained underlain with steel. “You have said it yourself, Guildmaster. Guild law stands.”

Remy couldn’t force himself to look toward the far end of the table. “An’ de X-Men have agreed?” he asked Artur instead, his voice faint. For once, he missed Cyclops’ inflexible moral code. Surely the other man could not stand by and let this happen without a fight?

“Sugah, let’s make one thing crystal clear here,” Rogue said into the stillness that followed, and Remy turned involuntarily to look at her. He couldn’t see her stare, but he could feel it, a firm, determined gaze that her body language echoed. “Ah’m here because ah choose t’ be.”

Remy shook his head in unconscious denial. The Guild was his world, his burden, and she had never wanted a part in it. He would have been willing to let the Guild kill him for defying the laws yet again, but instead they had arranged to give him everything that was important to him, for a price he couldn’t bear to pay.

That was how they would punish him. And Remy wasn’t sure he would ever be willing to risk crossing the Guild again.

But, he reflected bitterly, that was the point.

Remy tried to gather his wits as Scott leaned forward and laid both hands on the table. “I am going to make on one stipulation, though, in addition to what we discussed,” the X-Men’s field leader said.

Heads turned sharply to look at him, but Scott didn’t appear intimidated as he met the councilor’s stares. “I want a time limit on this…” he waved a hand in Rogue’s direction. “Whatever it is.” Remy heard the note of discomfort in his voice, quickly buried. “Rogue is an X-Man, and my responsibility. I won’t turn her over to you without some kind of guarantee that her… suffering…” He sounded like he might choke on the word, “will be limited.”

Artur turned to his fellow councilors, gathering their opinions through a silent exchange of glances, before returning his attention to Scott. “We had come to a similar conclusion ourselves,” he said. He raised his head a fraction, including Rogue in his gaze. “This council acknowledges that Rogue is an ally and not a threat to the Guild. We will observe the old forms because it is necessary.” His tone hardened, and the pain in Remy’s gut intensified. Necessary because of him, Artur meant.

Artur didn’t look at his Guildmaster as he continued. “However, we will agree to a time limit of three days, and you have my word, as well as that of the council as a whole, that she will not be seriously harmed.”

Rogue nudged the back of Scott’s chair and he blew out his breath in a frustrated sigh. “I suppose that will have to be good enough,” he said.

“Then we are agreed?” Artur asked.

Scott levered himself to his feet. “We’re agreed,” he said.

For Rogue, the reality of the situation didn’t set in until Adrian came and bound her arms behind her in a set of heavy iron manacles and then led her from the room. Of course it would be Adrian, she reminded herself as the first tendrils of real fear squirmed in her belly. He was the undisputed head of Remy’s opposition, and would be allowed this one clear shot at the Guildmaster without fear of reprisal.

Rogue bit her lip. Remy. The look on his face when he’d figured out what form his censure would take would haunt her for a long time. She didn’t think she’d ever seen so much pain in his eyes. And she was the one who had handed the Guild the tools to hurt him.

Ah’ll just have to make it up to him once this is all over, she promised herself, though she shied instinctively from the details of what that might entail. She wasn’t ready to go there yet, even inside her own mind. And besides, she had to survive the next few days first, before she had any business thinking about her future with Remy.

Adrian steered her through a nondescript doorway into a stairwell, his fingers digging painfully into her arm. A single bare bulb hung from the ceiling, casting stark light. Carson and Artur followed them. The stairs went down about fifteen feet, ending in another, similar door. Rogue hadn’t known there were levels to the Guild complex below the main one, and she looked around curiously as they descended. The walls were damp and streaked with lichen, and the air had a cloying, rotten smell to it.

Adrian opened the far door and hauled her into a new hallway. Rogue’s shoes squished in about a half-inch of slippery muck that coated the floor, and she guessed this level saw a fair amount of seepage from the river, which no doubt explained why it had been abandoned. They paused there, with the light from the open door at their back as the only illumination until Artur drew several long tubes from inside his suit jacket and cracked them over his knee. The tubes began to glow a bright, fluorescent green as the chemicals inside them activated.

Carson let the door to the stairwell swing shut, and Rogue suppressed a shiver. There apparently wasn’t any electricity down here, she concluded, though she saw brackets at even intervals along the wall that might have been intended to hold torches once upon a time. Adrian propelled her down the hall. Empty doorways opened at regular intervals, yawning like vast black mouths. A few had the rotted remains of doors covering them, attached with rusted iron hinges.

After a short distance, Adrian turned her into one such doorway. This one’s door was intact, though it looked as old and rotten as the rest. He pushed it open in a screech of metal and shoved her inside. Rogue staggered forward into the darkness. The three men entered the room behind her, bringing the light with them. Rogue had a brief impression of bare stone walls, streaked with water stains. A heavy, brand new chain was attached to a large bolt in the floor, its links running with quicksilver reflections.

Rogue caught her balance after a few steps and turned to face Adrian. He backhanded her across the mouth. Her face exploded with pain as she fell onto the slime-covered stone, landing hard on her side. Rogue grunted, tasting blood, and felt the warm tingle of adrenaline coursing through her system. All of her instincts told her to get back on her feet, to fight, but she stayed where she was, breathing heavily and waiting for whatever Adrian might do next.

He walked over to where she lay and she tensed, anticipating a kick. But instead, he reached down and hauled her effortlessly to her feet. Rogue was dismayed by how much the unconscious show of strength unnerved her. With their expensive suits and slick manners, it was easy to forget that these men were thieves, some of the best in their Guild. And Adrian was not a small man. He had a good six inches and eighty pounds on her, and the physical demands of his profession meant he would be able to apply that advantage to its maximum extent.

Rogue closed her eyes for a moment, trying to gather her courage. She had chosen to walk into this situation, but it scared her to realize that she probably couldn’t escape it now, even if she wanted.

Adrian pulled the key to her manacles out of his pocket and unlocked her wrists. Rogue watched him warily as she rubbed the feeling back into her hands, and then massaged her bruised shoulder where she’d landed.

The manacles jangled in Adrian’s hands as he folded the metal links up into an easily-held bundle. “Strip,” he told her harshly.

Rogue caught her breath in surprise and then looked past him to Artur, certain the other man would object. But though Artur’s eyes narrowed, he said nothing.

The faintest hint of a smile lit Adrian’s face. “You can do it yourself, or I can do it for you.” His smile widened. “Lady’s choice.”

Rogue stared into his dark, remorseless eyes, feeling ill. What have ah gotten mahself into? She knew he couldn’t be planning to rape her. That fell well and truly outside the boundaries of this little agreement, and he had to know his life would be forfeit if he did. Remy would kill him, if her mother or Logan didn’t beat him to it. But the thought wasn’t quite as reassuring as it should have been.

Slowly, Rogue reached for the hem of her sweater and pulled it off over her head. She carefully turned the garment right side out and handed it to Carson. Her shoes and socks followed, and finally, her jeans. She stood in front of the three men in nothing but her bra and panties, her toes squishing in the frigid mud that covered the floor.

Squaring her shoulders, she nodded to the pile of clothing in Carson’s arms. “Ah’d appreciate it if ya’d see to it those are cleaned an’ put back with mah stuff.”

Adrian’s smile turned dangerous. “Better watch your tone, girl. You aren’t Guildmistress yet.” He took two steps toward her and punched her hard in the stomach.

Rogue doubled over, gagging and clutching her stomach. Before she could recover, Adrian pulled her upright by her hair and dragged her over to the chains. There, he shoved her down on her knees and fastened her wrists into the cuffs at the end of the chain.

He stepped back, and for a moment Rogue simply stayed where she was and concentrated on breathing. She could feel blood welling from where the stone had torn the skin on her knees and her stomach felt like it was on fire. This wasn’t the first time she’d endured a beating, by any means. Before she’d absorbed Carol Danvers’ powers, she’d had occasion to be on the wrong end of any number of people’s fists. But that had been a long time ago and she’d forgotten how much it hurt.

Three days, she reminded herself. She looked up at Adrian, only to find him watching her without expression. In the back of her mind, she knew her wisest course was probably to stay on the ground, curl up, and offer the least imposing target she could. But cowering simply wasn’t in her.

Slowly, she climbed to her feet and turned to face Adrian once again.

Bobby rose warily from the couch in Remy’s office as the Guildmaster stormed in, his face suffused with fury. Bobby’s stomach did a savage flip. He could tell from Remy’s expression that Rogue’s plan had been put into action. Now there was nothing left but to deal with the fallout.

Several guildmembers congregated near the desk, either waiting for the chance to talk to him, or working on one of the ongoing issues the Guildmaster was involved in. They all looked up at his entrance, and conversation in the room died.

Remy stopped dead in the middle of the room. “Out,” he growled, his tone openly threatening. Had their mutant powers been active, Bobby was certain his eyes would have been glowing in full-blown demonic hellfire mode.

The people filling the office wisely scattered, and within a few seconds the last of them had disappeared. Remy didn’t move. He stood frozen, his hands clenched into fists at his sides, his chest heaving.

The heavy office door swung shut, the click of the latch sounding ominous in the utter stillness. Bobby braced himself.

Remy crossed to the desk and grabbed the first thing his hands encountered, which happened to be someone’s half-empty coffee cup. With a cry of rage, he hurled it toward the far corner of the room, where the wet bar stood. The mug slammed into a shelf full of liqueurs, shattering everything in an explosion of glass and porcelain shards that made Bobby flinch even though he was out of range. A paperweight followed, and a calculator, and then Remy’s 9mm Glock went spinning away in a different direction.

That one alarmed Bobby, but the weapon didn’t discharge as it clattered against the paneled wall and fell to the carpet. Remy didn’t pause. He swept the surface of the desk with an inarticulate roar, sending document, drawings and even one of the laptops crashing to the floor.

Then, without warning, the fight seemed to drain out of him. Remy sagged against the edge of the desk and covered his eyes with one hand. Bobby could see him trembling.

Silent as only a trained thief could be, Bobby went over to the bar, picking his way carefully through the glass. The items stored beneath the counter were still intact, and he grabbed a glass and the first bottle he came to, which happened to be a dark Kentucky whiskey. He poured a healthy dose into the glass and brought it to Remy.

“Here. Drink this.” He shoved the glass at his friend.

Remy barely glanced at him, but he grabbed the proffered glass, roughly sloshing its contents, and drained it in a single swallow. Bobby saw him bite his lip as the alcohol burn hit. He lowered the glass, fingering it in absent fashion, his eyes focused straight ahead. Then, with the snap of his wrist, that glass, too, went screaming across the room in one of Remy’s hundred-mile-an-hour throws to shatter against the far wall.

“You want another one?” Bobby asked without sarcasm. If it would help, he would be happy to keep handing Remy glass after glass and letting him break them. And if he could manage to get him drunk in the process, so much the better. It would at least blunt the leading edge of the pain, and give Remy the chance to acclimate.

Remy nodded, and Bobby went to fetch another glass. His own emotions were locked away, invisible. Remy needed him to be strong right now-- strong and sane-- and able to prop him up for a while. He poured another generous amount into the second glass and handed it over.

Remy didn’t seem inclined to smash this one, however. He turned and seated himself on the edge of the desk with the glass cradled in one hand. The other arm curled around his midsection as if he were nursing an injury, and he sipped the whiskey with empty eyes. Bobby joined him, setting the bottle down on the desk on his far side with a thunk.

“I don’t know if it helps,” Bobby ventured as the silence stretched, “but this was Rogue’s show all the way. You should have heard her and Scott yelling at each other.” He shook his head, letting a hint of amusement creep into his voice. “I haven’t heard ol’ Fearless lay into somebody like that in a long time.”

Remy snorted, though it sounded more pained than humorous. “Fat lot o’ good it did him.”

Bobby was cautiously pleased. That had sounded almost like the Remy he knew. “Yeah,” he agreed. “But I’ve never met anyone yet that could out stubborn Rogue once she’s made up her mind about something.” He wiggled his eyebrows for effect. “Including you.”

Remy’s lips twisted in a sickly parody of a smile, and he raised his glass as if in a toast. “Mas oui.” The admission seemed to take something out of him. His expression closed in on itself, collapsing under a weight of pain. He tossed back the remainder of his drink and held it out to Bobby to refill.

Bobby did so, several times, and for a while the room was quiet.

“Y’ wan’ know what’s really funny?” Remy said at one point, when the bottle of whiskey was nearly empty. A faint slur marred his words.

“What’s that?” Bobby asked quietly.

Remy scrubbed his face with one hand, leaving his hair in disarray. “When I left New Orleans, I swore I’d never let de Guild force me into another arranged marriage.” He made a helpless gesture with one hand, and Bobby saw the shine of angry tears in his eyes. “Merde. I should never ‘ve brought de X-Men here, should never ‘ve let any o’ you near de Guild--” He pressed the back of his wrist to his lips, shaking, and closed his eyes.

Bobby just shrugged. Remy’s guilt complex didn’t rear its head very often, but when it did, it was an ugly beast. “I don’t have any regrets,” he told Remy firmly. Which he didn’t. None worth mentioning, anyway. “And I don’t think Rogue will, either.”

Remy’s eyes flew open. “Den y’ both fools,” he said, his voice harsh.

Before Bobby could think of a response, he pushed off the edge of the desk, swaying ever so slightly, and set his glass aside. Then he knelt down and began gathering up the scattered papers on the floor.

Bobby stayed where he was and watched. “We may be fools,” he agreed, “but you’re stuck with us.”

Remy came to his feet and whirled to face him, his stance furious. But even as Bobby tensed, Remy’s anger seemed to shatter. He staggered, looking like he might simply collapse. Bobby leapt up to catch him in a tight hug.

Remy clung to him, his breathing a jagged wheeze that Bobby suspected was as close as he ever came to crying. “Adrian took her,” he whispered into Bobby’s shoulder. “An’ there wasn’t anyt’ing I could do.”

Bobby felt the burn of tears in his own eyes, and blinked them back. “I know,” he answered roughly. “I know.”


GambitGuild is neither an official fansite of nor affiliated with Marvel Enterprises, Inc.
Nonetheless, we do acknowledge our debt to them for creating such a wonderful character and would not dream of making any profit from him other than the enrichment of our imaginations.
X-Men and associated characters and Marvel images are © Marvel Enterprises, Inc.
The GambitGuild site itself is © 2006 - 2007; other elements may have copyrights held by their respective owners.