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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 33

Remy emerged from his quarters to find his father at the wet bar, tinkering with the coffee maker by the sounds. Remy yawned and went to rescue his morning coffee.

Jean Luc turned at his approach. “Good mornin’, Remy.”

“Mornin’, Pere,” Remy returned. He held out his hand for the scoop, which his father grudgingly surrendered. The elder LeBeau leaned his hip against the counter, arms crossed as Remy went about preparing the coffee.

“I am capable o’ makin’ a pot o’ coffee.” His father managed to sound both amused and irritated.

Remy smirked. “Y’ ability t’ turn perfectly good coffee into sludge is downright amazin’.” He stifled another yawn. He hadn’t slept well. Every time Rogue so much as twitched, it had woken him up. Each time he’d felt compelled to wait for a while, watching her pulse and listening to make sure her breathing hadn’t grown too shallow, before he could allow himself to go back to sleep.

“How is Rogue?” his father asked as if reading his mind.

Remy shrugged. “Sleepin’.” He was pretty certain she had fallen asleep sometime between the time she’d sat down on the edge of the bed and the time her head hit the pillow two seconds later. He expected her to sleep for at least another twelve hours or so.

The coffee pot began to burble. “What time is it, anyway?” Remy asked as he made his way over to the couch and sank into it. His father followed.

Jean Luc chuckled. “Much too early f’ any self-respectin’ thief to be awake.” He leaned back, stretching.

Remy studied his shifting patterns of his father’s heat signature. Jean Luc wasn’t as relaxed as he was trying to appear.

Remy sighed and propped his feet up on the coffee table. Things weren’t nearly as strained between them now, but they weren’t exactly comfortable, either. “T’ank y’ again f’ coming, Pere.” Jean Luc had filled the third spot required for the Guild ritual.

His father sat forward, his body language betraying reluctance. “Y’ asked f’ my help. Of course I came, Remy.”

Remy nodded, resisting the temptation to look away. “But y’ don’t approve.”

The coffee machine beeped, inordinately loud in the silence. Remy rose. “Y’ want some?” he asked over his shoulder as he crossed the room. He managed to keep his voice even.

Jean Luc sighed. “It’s not that I don’ approve. Saints, Remy!” He stood, his body language clearly agitated. “Y’ t’ink I don’ realize how hard dis must be for y’? I was dere eleven years ago.”

Remy managed not to slosh coffee over his hand at the sudden tremor that ran through him. Trust his father to skip all the obvious reasons and go for the deeper ones. If he closed his eyes, he knew he could recall every detail of that day-- more than eleven and a half years ago, now. His eighteenth birthday. His wedding day. It was the first and last time he had ever been completely, blissfully happy, confident that the future held nothing but brightness.

That certainty had lasted all of three hours.

Remy carefully set the coffee urn back in its place. His hands balled into fists involuntarily, and he laid them on the counter, fighting for calm. A moment later, he felt his father’s hand close on his shoulder and flinched.

“Remy.” To his credit, Jean Luc didn’t withdraw. His strong fingers dug into the rigid muscles of his son’s shoulder.

Remy forced his lungs to draw a short, ragged breath. He had never had the courage to ask this question. “Dat day—” He closed his eyes, seeing once again the bright blood that streaked the sword in his hand and splattered across his wedding clothes. “Y’ knew Julien made de challenge. Y’ knew I had a case f’ self-defense.”

His father blew out his breath in a long sigh. “Oui, y’ did.”

Remy wanted to pull away from his father’s touch, but he couldn’t move. “Den why didn’ y’ fight for me?”

Jean Luc squeezed his shoulder painfully tight. “I wanted to. Believe me, I wanted nothin’ more.” The pressure left Remy’s shoulder and he opened his eyes. In his peripheral vision he saw his father move to lean his back against the counter and cross his arms. “An’ though keeping peace wit’ the Assassins was an important consideration, I could’ve forced Marius t’ accept a no fault judgement.” He shook his head. “We all knew there was somet’ing not right inside dat boy-- dat somebody was gon’ have t’ put him down one day. Marius didn’ want t’ see it, but even he knew.”

Remy wasn’t prepared for the admission. He whirled on his father, nearly choking on his fury. “Y’ could’ve gotten no fault?” It came out as a hiss. “Y’ let dem torture me? Y’ banished me from my home?”

Jean Luc tipped his head back in an expression Remy recognized. If he could see his father’s face, he knew he would find deep lines of grief etched there. But knowing that didn’t help the seething pit of anger and betrayal inside him.

Eventually, Jean Luc straightened and turned to regard his son. “Y’ don’ really understand how extraordinary y’ are, do you, Remy?” he asked softly.

Remy stared at him, unable to reconcile his words with his actions so many years ago. “What?”

“Look around y’, son.” Jean Luc gestured widely. “Y’ not even thirty years old yet, an’ y’ Guildmaster of one o’ de most influential Guilds on de planet. Y’ also a mutant, wit’ power enough t’ run wit’ de X-Men, who go off an’ fight people like Magneto an’ Onslaught. An’ if-- when-- OZT gets taken down, it’s gon’ be in large part because of you.”

Remy eyed his father warily. “What’s dat got t’ do wit’ anything?”

Jean Luc uttered a soft snort. “Do y’ remember dat jet y’ stole?” There was a reflective quality to his voice that Remy hadn’t heard in many years, an affectionate nostalgia that burrowed deep into his heart, beneath the anger. “Y’ were t’irteen. I remember Lapin callin’ me-- tellin’ me y’ were up dere an’ de Air Force was scramblin’ intercept fighters an’ he didn’ know what t’ do because he was certain dey were gon’ shoot you down.” Laughter lit his voice. “I was afraid de boy was gon’ have a heart attack before he could even get de story out.”

Remy nodded, a lopsided smile growing on his face. It had been one of his wilder escapades as a pup. But playing tag with a couple of F-16s out over the Gulf of Mexico remained one of his favorite memories, just for the sheer, crazed adrenaline-joy of it.

“I remember,” he finally said.

His father seemed to wilt, his good humor suddenly gone. “Dat was the day I realized what a huge mistake I’d made.”

Remy’s brow dipped. “Mistake?”

Jean Luc nodded. “I knew from de moment I saw y’ dat y’ were somet’ing special. I t’ought I was doin’ de best t’ing for y’, makin’ a home for y’ in de Guild. Certainly de Guild would benefit.” He shrugged, the motion apologetic. “It never occurred t’ me dat de Thieves Guild might not have enough t’ offer. Dat I was effectively trappin’ y’ in a cage dat could never be big enough.”

Cold tendrils snaked their way into Remy’s chest, squeezing his heart. “What are y’ sayin, Pere? Dat y’ shouldn’t have adopted me?” His anger had frozen into a solid lump in his stomach.

Jean Luc spread his hands in a helpless gesture. “I don’t know, Remy. All I know is that, in two years, y’ went from bein’ a homeless gutter rat wit’ zero education t’ an apprentice wit’ de knowledge, skill an’ confidence t’ not only break into a secure military facility, but t’ get a machine as complicated as a fighter off de ground wit’out gettin’ caught or killed. Two years after dat, y’ were turnin’ into a right little hellion because y’ were so bored wit’ de normal pace of teachin’ in de Guild. Two years after dat, y’ were good enough t’ earn y’ mark.” For a moment the laughter came back to his voice. “An’ y’ were still a hellion.”

Remy snorted at the assessment, but couldn’t deny its truth. They’d called him le diable blanc for more than just his eyes.

Jean Luc turned serious once again. “But don’ y’ see? Y’ were barely grown an’ already I could see y’ were going t’ outgrow de Guild. Five years t’ get y’ Master’s mark, which most men spend half a lifetime t’ earn? Den what? My place as Guildmaster of New Orleans? It would have been yours, no question. But den what? New Orleans is a small guild. How long could y’ have been happy there?” He looked down at his feet. “No, when Julien died, it was an opportunity for y’ dat I jus’ couldn’t let pass.”

Remy leaned against the counter, not sure he could stand without support. He didn’t know if he could bear to hear what his father would say next.

Jean Luc’s shoulders slumped. “Banishment was de only way t’ set y’ free.”

Remy looked away, covering his mouth with one hand. He wanted to curl up around the nausea in his gut, but he kept himself upright with one hand braced against the counter. “I never wanted t’ be free.” The words tasted like bile. In the dark recesses of his mind, he could hear Sinister laughing at him. “I jus’ wanted t’ be able t’ go home.”

“I can see dat now.” Jean Luc stared at the ground. “You’ve made a good home here, Remy. An’ regardless of what y’ might t’ink, I do approve of Rogue. She’s a good match for y. I’ve seen what she c’n do, what kind o’ fire she’s got in her.”

Remy’s grip on the counter tightened. His home in New York was just as precarious as the one in New Orleans had been. He could lose it just as easily. He would lose it, eventually. He’d learned that lesson the day he turned eighteen.

“Why y’ tellin’ me dis?” he finally asked.

His father reached into his jacket and withdrew something from an inner pocket. Remy heard a rustle, like paper but not quite the same.

“I wanted t’ give y’ dis.” He extended the thing in his hand, and, hesitantly, Remy took it. His fingers closed on a folded sheaf of parchment, sealed with wax, and with the emblem of the New Orleans Guild embossed in the seal.

“What is it?” His father knew he couldn’t read words on paper with his powers suppressed.

Jean Luc cleared his throat. “It’s a decree from the New Orleans Guild, recinding your banishment.”

Remy’s breath froze in his chest. He stared at the invisible papers in his hand, hardly daring to believe what he’d just heard. He felt strangely light all of a sudden, as if a crushing weight had fallen away somewhere inside him. He pushed away from the wetbar and wandered over to his desk, where he collapsed in the high-backed leather chair. He held the decree in both hands, his thumbs absently tracing the wax seal with its familiar Guild emblem.

“Why now?” he asked once the initial shock had passed.

Jean Luc turned back to the coffee pot and proceeded to finish fixing two mugs of coffee. He brought both over to the desk, plunking one down in front of Remy and taking the other with him to the far side of the desk. He settled into one of the chairs there, his cup cradled in both hands.

“It was time.” He shrugged. “Politically, o’ course, it’s New Orleans’ way o’ makin’ nice wit’ de new Guildmaster of New York, but you an’ I know dat ain’t what dis is about.”

Sighing, Remy set the parchment carefully on the edge of his desk and picked up his coffee. “Oui, Pere.”

The office door opened then to admit a man Remy recognized as one of the techs who worked in the Guild’s data and communications center. The Guild had always maintained several data mining operations which had been stepped up since the advent of OZT.

“Guildmaster,” the man said as he crossed the room, “I apologize for interrupting, but this was flagged for your personal attention when it came up.” He held out a piece of paper which Remy accepted with a nod.


The tech turned and left. Remy handed the paper across to his father. “What is it?”

“A death certificate.” Jean Luc sounded puzzled.

Remy’s stomach tightened. “Whose?”

His father peered at the paper in his hands. “Someone named Jubilation Lee.”

Dr. Cecilia Reyes stood outside the small recovery room, looking through the observation window at her patient. Jubilee slept, her head shaved and wrapped in gauze. So far, her prognosis looked good.

Cecilia didn’t like to admit it-- doctors weren’t supposed to care about one patient more than another-- but losing this one would have broken her heart. She remembered Jubilee’s file from the stack Charles had sent her-- the spunky girl the X-Men had adopted as their mascot and kid sister, and who had earned her place with them several times over.

“How is she?” a lightly accented voice asked, and Cecilia turned to find Louis Kim at her elbow. Louis was another member of the underground, a control systems engineer who’d left NASA to come to New York to help figure out how the sentinels worked.

Cecilia tried to put on a smile. “Good. Her nannites are busy knitting her skull back together. I expect she’ll be completely healed in a day or two.”

Louis ran a hand through his thatch of unruly black hair. “I’ve got something to show you, if you have a minute.” He gestured behind him, in the general direction of his office.

Cecilia turned. “Sure.” She followed Louis down the corridor to the little broom-closet room that passed for his office. He sat down in behind the metal desk, which was covered in papers, x-ray films and various other scan results, and picked up what Cecilia immediately recognized as one of Jubilee’s brain images.

He handed it to her. “What do you see, doctor?” he asked, and Cecilia was taken aback by the intensity lurking behind the question.

Brow furrowing, she studied the multicolored film. It was a side view, which showed the bulk of the sentinel neural net in the frontal lobe and central areas of the cerebrum. The transformation control bundle, located closer to the cerebellum, was less visible.

“It’s Jubilee’s neural net,” she finally said. “What am I supposed to be seeing?”

Louis took the film back from her and held it up to toward the ceiling. The glow from the overhead fluorescent lights illuminated the scan from behind, throwing the image into sharp relief. “Look right there,” he said, and pointed to a shadowy area toward the back of the neural net.

Cecilia squinted her eyes, studying the image until she registered the two dark dots with their attendant cloud of little black lines in an area they didn’t usually occupy.

“I’ve never seen that before.” She looked over at Louis, concern and curiosity warring inside her. “Extra microcomputers?”

He nodded.

“Do you know what they do?” Cecilia took the film back from him, staring at it as if studying it more closely might resolve the mystery.

He shook his head. “Not a clue. But whatever this girl is, it’s not your ordinary run-of-the-mill prime sentinel.”

Remy kept a careful watch on the street outside as his driver pulled the towncar up in front of the Worthington Industries building. People crowded the sidewalks, the familiar Manhattan bustle reassuring despite the ever-present threat from a random un-transformed prime sentinel. A thief rode in the front passenger seat, his eyes constantly scanning the area around them. He carried a powerful laser rifle across his knees, his hands on the grips and his finger on the trigger.

Bishop sat to Remy’s left in the back seat. The time-lost mutant had volunteered to play bodyguard today, and was similarly armed. Remy didn’t quite know what to make of Bishop any more. Despite his stated disdain for all illegal activites, Bishop had taken to the Guild with remarkable ease, and demonstrated a level of personal loyalty to Remy that the young Guildmaster found disconcerting. Remy was beginning to dread what might happen the next time Father’s Day rolled around. He had no idea how to approach the role his future self had played in Bishop’s life, or if he had any business trying.

Remy drummed his fingers on his knee, pushing the dour thoughts away. He had elected not to wear a weapon on this trip other than his bo staff, which few guards had ever taken from him. Since Worthington’s people only knew Remy as the security guy their boss had put in charge of revamping the building’s security system, wearing a gun would have been out of character.

In keeping with that role, Remy had dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, with his brown duster over them. It felt incredibly good to get out of the complex and out of his Guildmaster role, despite the danger inherent in going above ground. He expected to be safe once he got inside the Worthington building’s security perimeter. If they’d implemented all of his changes, which would be the first thing he checked.

After a few seconds, both Bishop and the thief in the front seat got out. People on the sidewalk took note of the well-armed men and gave the car wide berth. Remy waited until the count of three before stepping out of the car. Any nearby sentinel would have been well into its transformation by then.

The thief remained by the car as Remy and Bishop made their way into the building. Bright sunlight streamed into the front lobby through the reflective glass that lined the entire front face of the building. Its heat illuminated the area for Remy, making the bank of metal detectors and imagers that blocked further progress into the building visible to his limited sight. People queued up behind the detectors, seeming relatively content with the strict security.

Remy pulled off his sunglasses and stuck them in his coat pocket. Normally, he wouldn’t expose his eyes in a situation like this, but the world was going through a strange metamorphosis, if what Warren told them was correct. His eyes marked him as a mutant, which gave him an immediate and understandable reason to have an openly-armed bodyguard shadowing him.

With Bishop a step behind him and to his left, Remy got into one of the lines for the detectors. The woman ahead of him turned as he stepped up behind her. She was tall and slender, and the way she held herself made him think she was probably quite attractive.

“I didn’t realize gorgeous was a mutant power,” the woman said, looking him over.

Startled, Remy grinned. “Shhh. It’s my secret weapon,” he told her conspiratorially, and was rewarded by her throaty laugh.

She turned to face him, her body language friendly and flirtatious. “Do you work for Worthington Industries?” she asked with a glance toward the line ahead of her.

He shrugged. “I do today.”

She reached up to tuck a lock of her stylishly long hair behind her ear. “It’s a great place to work, particularly if you’re a mutant… if you don’t mind my saying so. Mr. Worthington takes good care of his people, and he doesn’t stand for any of this OZT nonsense.”

“So I see,” Remy answered, bemused by her accepting attitude. It made sense that a company like WI, which was run by a known mutant, would attract people who held a more tolerant attitude toward toward mutants, but it was still strange to see.

Their line moved forward, leaving just one man ahead of Remy’s companion. She took several steps forward then turned to face him once again. He could see a flush rising up her neck and into her cheeks.

“Listen, I’m not usually this forward,” she began, “but I was wondering if you might be free for lunch today?”

Remy smiled apologetically. “I’m flattered, chere, but I don’t t’ink my wife would be very happy wit’ me.”

Her heat signature flared, and Remy knew she was blushing scarlet. “Oh! I’m sorry, I missed the ring.” She turned away, one hand fluttering in an embarrassed gesture.

Remy let her go. He’d been turning women down for more than two years now because of Rogue, but the process had just gotten vastly simpler. Strangely, fidelity was the one thing Rogue had never explicitly demanded of him. He halted that train of thought before it could go any further. He had more questions than ever about their relationship, none of which could be answered until they could find a chance to talk, and given their past track record he had no idea when that might happen.

The woman stepped through the imaging station ahead of them, and then was gone, headed toward the elevators without a backward glance. The security guards manning the detectors watched Remy and Bishop as they stepped forward, their stances wary but not alarmed.

“No weapons beyond this point,” one of the guards told them. Bishop nodded and set his rifle on the counter provided, then went through the paperwork to sign the weapon in with them. While he did that, Remy showed his ID-- which was a very good fake-- to the second guard at the station. His sunglasses, watch, wedding ring and the collapsed bo went into a little bin to be passed through an x-ray machine, while he stepped into the imager.

The tech running the imager waved him through after a minute. He collected his effects then waited as Bishop repeated the process behind him. He found himself fiddling with his ring and forced himself to stop. He’d felt a twinge of regret for leaving the complex while Rogue still slept, but when Warren had called not ten minutes after he’d gotten the news about Jubilee, asking if he had time to drop by, it had seemed like the prudent course. Whatever Warren wanted, it would be significant.

After stopping by Worthington’s chief of security’s office for a brief chat, Remy and Bishop headed for the elevator that would take them to the penthouse. Remy’s passcard unlocked the upper floors, and he punched the top button without hesitation.

The elevator doors opened on the massive expanse of Warren’s office. The single room took up half of the top floor, and the floor-to-ceiling windows lining the far wall, he knew, gave a nearly unparalleled view of the New York skyline.

Warren rose from behind the desk as Remy and Bishop walked in. Off to the side, Scott, Logan and Elisabeth sat in a cluster of chairs, apparently talking.

“Remy, come in. I’m glad you could make it.” Warren’s wings rustled as he resettled them on his back. “Bishop,” he greeted the other man with a nod.

“Sounded important on de phone,” Remy answered as he crossed the room to shake Warren’s hand.

Warren nodded. “It is, but I don’t want to get into that just yet. Something to drink? Coffee, tea? I still have some of that Oolong blend you put me on to.”

“Tea, please,” Remy said, amused by the new level of friendliness in Warren’s voice. He knew he would never meet the other man’s standard of respectability, but the role he’d played in saving Worthington Industries from OZT had bought him a kind of acceptance.

Warren shifted his attention to Bishop, who declined with a shake of his head. “I do not require anything.”

Warren gestured for Remy and Bishop to join the others while he went to the small bar located behind his desk. “So, I hear congratulations are in order?” he said over his shoulder.

“Oui. T’anks.” Remy didn’t elaborate. He had no idea what Scott or Logan might have told him about the events of the past few days, and he didn’t feel like trying to explain.

“Slumming today, Remy?” Elisabeth inquired from her seat as Remy stepped past her. She had her legs crossed and bounced her foot to a stately rhythm. From her posture, he suspected she was dressed to the nines, and no doubt with her usual salacious flair.

Remy chuckled. “Jus’ tryin’ t’ look like a security consultant, chere.”

“Speaking of which—” Warren returned, a cup and saucer in hand, which he handed to Remy. “What’s your opinion of the new measures?” He gestured toward the rest of the building.

Remy sipped his tea. “What I saw looks good,” he told Warren. “I’ll send Bobby over t’ look through the wiring in detail, an’ assuming dat’s all in order, we’ll see who wants first crack at breakin’ ya.” He allowed himself a smile. In exchange for a security system designed by one of the best thieves on the planet, Warren had agreed to let the building serve as a training ground for the New York Guild. Whatever weaknesses the thieves found to exploit would then be fixed, making the building that much more secure. It was an arrangement Remy suspected would work out very well for both of them.

Warren nodded, seeming pleased. Out of the corner of his eye, Remy could see Scott shaking his head ever so slightly in consternation.

Remy grinned. “If it’ll make y’ feel better, y’ can stick y’ fingers in y’ ears until we’re done,” he told the X-Men’s leader.

“Cute,” was Scott’s response. “But unless the two of you are plotting to overthrow the government, I think I can cope.”

Warren settled into the chair next to Betsy and reached over to take her hand. “Actually, that’s why I wanted to arrange this meeting.”

Remy tried to keep his reaction neutral as both Scott’s and Bishop’s heat signatures spiked with alarm.

Warren chuckled. “Relax, I’m not plotting treason.” He rose and went over to his desk, where he pressed a few buttons on his computer’s keyboard. “But I am planning to sue.”

“Sue who?” Scott asked, sounding puzzled.

“The government.” The large flat panel screen that stood on a mount a short ways from the desk came to life. Remy couldn’t see the image on the screen, but he could see the glow as the electrical components heated up. At the same time, the sounds of a phone ringing came across through the associated speaker system.

Logan barked a laugh. “Not nearly as much fun, but probably more effective.”

Remy heard the click as the phone was picked up on the far end.

“Hello?” He recognized Dyson’s voice immediately.

“Good afternoon, Dyson.” Warren settled himself in the chair behind his desk and turned it to face the screen. “I think you know everyone.” He waved toward the X-Men.

Remy could imagine Dyson nodding in greeting as he looked them over. “Of course. Hey, Remy, did you get my emails?”

Remy shook his head. “Sorry, mon ami. I’m a little behind.” Even with Diedre helping him, he had a hard time keeping up with his email. It was one arena in which his vision loss really frustrated him. “What’s up?”

“Nothing huge. There’s a real estate deal in Kuala Lumpur I thought you might be interested in. I need an answer by Wednesday, though, if you want to make a preemptive bid.”

Remy filed the information away. “Okay. I’ll take a look once I get back to my computer.”

He could hear the shift as Dyson turned his attention back to Warren. “I assume you called to talk about the Xavier estate?”

That gained him the full attention of everyone in the room. Remy glanced over at Warren, a little annoyed that neither he nor Dyson had thought to give him a heads up on any information they’d discovered about Xavier’s stolen accounts.

Scott leaned forward. “What about the estate?” The keen interest in his voice didn’t surprise Remy. Charles had left Scott in charge of both the school and his personal finances when he surrendered himself to government custody, and Scott would have taken the loss of both as a kind of personal failing.

“It took me a while, but I’ve managed to trace the money OZT took from the Xavier estate.”

“Where is it?” Scott asked.

“Currently, it’s in a slush fund attached to the National Research Defense Initiative—they’re one of several government think tanks that have replaced DARPA and its ilk.”

“What does NRDI have t’ do wit’ Zero Tolerance?” Remy wanted to know.

Dyson’s grin was evident in his voice. “Nothing, as far as I can tell. But the money was donated to NRDI by a subsidiary of Draxar, Incorporated.”

Remy pursed his lips in a silent whistle. “An’ y’ can prove it?”


“Wait, what’s Draxar again?” Scott wanted to know. Remy doubted he’d heard the name since before they’d had to abandon the mansion.

“The legal name of OZT’s front company.”

Remy saw the impact of Dyson’s words on Scott’s heat signature. “Then you can prove OZT was behind the attack on the mansion.”

Warren nodded. “And since they used the school as their entry point to go after Worthington Industries, I can introduce it all as evidence in a civil suit.” He gestured to Scott. “Depending on how it goes, you may want to file against OZT as well, as trustee of Xavier’s estate.”

“Except that it wouldn’t be very hard for some sharp legal type to connect me to the X-Men,” Scott countered. “And we haven’t exactly been model citizens recently.” He cocked his head in a way that made Remy think the other man was rolling his eyes at him.

“That’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Warren said. “It would open the door for a hearing on whether OZT’s actions are legal. Since the X-Men haven’t destroyed any asset that isn’t directly involved in supporting the prime sentinels, if you can have OZT’s actions declared illegal, you’re more or less off the hook.”

Logan snorted. “Yeah, I’ll believe that when I see it.”

“No, he’s got a point,” Scott said thoughtfully. He leaned back in his chair. “If we can get a court—any court—to come out and call OZT what it is, we’re halfway to getting them shut down. Anti-OZT sentiment is growing. It doesn’t really matter if they declare us all enemies of the state or worse. It’s nothing we haven’t had to deal with before.”

“Regardless, the more pressure we can put on OZT, the better.” Warren swiveled his chair absently as he spoke.

Remy found himself nodding, though Warren’s plan was pretty much outside of his sphere of influence. “Not t’ over-state de obvious, but my name needs t’ stay out of dis as much as possible.”

“Of course,” Scott agreed, his voice studiously neutral.

Warren echoed him, but added, “Dyson tells me you’re pretty much clean--on paper, at least.”

“Oui, dere ain’t nothin’ can be pinned on me officially. But if enough people start puttin’ their suspicions together, my life could get pretty hairy.” With Dyson in the conversation, Remy couldn’t mention the Guild, but he knew the others would catch his meaning.

“Understood,” Scott assured him. “Let’s see how things go with Worthington Industries first. Then we can make a decision about bringing the X-Men into it.”

Warren reached up to tap a couple of keys on his computer. “Thanks, Dyson. I’ll call you tomorrow,” he told the consultant, and then cut the connection.

Scott laid his head back against his chair’s backrest and stared at the ceiling. “How quickly will the media pick up on this lawsuit once you file?” he asked Warren.

Warren shrugged. “Hard to say. The independents will run with it immediately, especially if you give Ms. Tilby some advance notice. I’m not sure how much influence OZT still has over the major networks. But it’s safe to say it’ll become a big story within a few days-- a week at most.”

Scott blew out his breath in a gusty sigh. “All right. That means the X-Men need to arrange to do something spectacular during that time frame.”

Remy turned a surprised look on him that he was certain was echoed by the others in the room. Even Elisabeth seemed startled.

Scott straightened in his seat. “No one is going to miss the connection between Warren and the X-Men, so we might as well use it to do as much damage to OZT as possible. Put it on the front page of every newspaper in the world and let people argue about it. The more exposure OZT gets, the more people are going to realize what’s really going on.”

“What d’ya have in mind, Fearless?” Logan asked.

Scott shrugged. “I don’t know. But it’ll have to be something more integral to the prime sentinels program than another fuel depot.” He looked over at Warren. “How long until you file?”

“At least a couple of weeks. My lawyers still have to get all their ducks lined up.”

“Okay.” Scott nodded in an accepting kind of way. “We may need to push that out a bit, depending on what target we pick. Remy, you’ve got current satellite data for the Eastern Seaboard, right?”

Remy nodded, curious where he was going. “Sure.”

“Then I’d like to see if we can plausibly hit one of their manufacturing centers. Preferably one of the final assembly plants.”

Remy’s gut tightened. “I t’ought we agreed dere was too much risk in goin’ after de assembly plants.” The security around the prime sentinels’ birthplaces was intimidating.

“There is,” Scott answered, “but it might be worth it if it means we can show the entire world just exactly what OZT is doing to the people who become sentinels.”

“Maybe.” Remy wasn’t sure he agreed, but now wasn’t the time to try to hash it out. He would have to wait until he had a more concrete idea of what Scott wanted to do. But, it did bring to mind something else that might very well have bearing on what Scott hoped to accomplish.

Sighing, he fished the copy of Jubilee’s death certificate out of his pocket and held the folded piece of paper out to Scott. “If y’ want t’ show de world what Bastion’s doin’ t’ people, I t’ink dis might be a good place t’ start,” he said quietly.

Scott unfolded the paper, read it, and swore softly. He handed it off to Wolverine then leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees. He seemed suddenly exhausted.

Logan reared out of his chair with a snarl of rage, crushing the paper in his hand. Remy heard the gruesome sound of his claws emerging from their sheaths, followed by the patter of blood drops on the carpet. He stalked away from the group, toward the windows.

“Jubilee’s dead,” Remy told the others by way of explanation. It hadn’t come as a surprise, really, but that didn’t change the grief he felt at the loss. She’d deserved better.

Across from him, Betsy covered her mouth with one hand in an expression of horror, but just as quickly recovered. “Do you know what happened?” she asked.

Remy shrugged. All he knew was what was on the certificate. “Says she was in a plane crash here in New York a few days ago.”

Scott looked up. “It listed her as a… quote… ‘pre-transformation prime sentinel.’” There was venom in his tone.

Logan uncrumpled the piece of paper in his hand and looked at it. “Cyke, I’m gonna go see this… Dr. Reyes,” he read the name off the certificate. His voice trembled with suppressed fury. “Find out what really happened ta her.” He paused. “And claim the body.”

Scott just nodded. “Be careful.”

Remy was thoroughly exhausted by the time he made it back to his quarters that evening. His mind continued to spin through the implications of Warren’s proposed legal action, as well as Scott’s plans for the X-Men. He opened the door expecting-- even hoping-- to find Rogue still asleep, but instead she was seated at the desk in the corner of the bedroom. She looked like she was filling out the paperwork he’d left for her.

She straightened as the door opened, and Remy’s stomach curled into a hard knot. Paperwork that included their marriage certificate, which she still needed to sign, as well as the forms to file if she wanted to change her last name, and some preliminary things from his lawyer related to adding her name to his bank accounts and such.

“Hey,” he said by way of greeting as he came inside and let the door swing shut behind him.

Rogue turned. “Hi, sugah,” she said softly.

Not knowing what else to do, Remy walked forward into the room, shrugging out of his coat as he went. He tossed the duster absently on the foot of the bed.

Rogue turned in her seat to follow his progress. He could read tension in the set of her shoulders and the colors that made up her form, and steeled himself.

She tossed her pen down on the desk with a sigh. “This is going ta be really awkward, ain’t it?”

Remy swallowed a snort and ran a hand through his hair. “Prob’ly.” He kicked off his shoes. “How are y’ feeling?” he asked rather than let the silence stretch.

She rolled her shoulders as if checking, and then shrugged. “Okay, ah guess.” A note of humor came into her voice. “An’ before ya ask, yes, ah went ta see Beast earlier. Ah’ve got a nice set o’ scrapes an’ bruises, but nothin’s broken.”

Remy felt the familiar, blinding flash of rage at the thought of how she’d gotten her injuries in the first place, but he did his best to battle it back down. He wasn’t mad at her, and didn’t want to make her into a target of opportunity.

Rogue watched him, her body language uncertain. “Ah… uh…” She picked up the pen and fiddled with it, a glow of heat creeping into her cheeks. “Ah also had Hank start me on the Depo Provera shot.” At his blank look, she added, “Birth control.”

Remy blinked, thoroughly shocked, and decided he needed to sit down. The foot of the bed provided a suitable place, so he plopped down on it and stared at her. He couldn’t begin to sort out the emotions brawling inside his heart.

“What happened, chere?” he finally asked when he couldn’t stand the swirling confusion any longer.

“What do ya mean?”

Remy bit back a sarcastic response. Instead he raised his left hand to show her the ring he wore and looked away as he tried to gather his thoughts. “A week ago, I would’ve sworn we were over, an’ dat y’ wanted nothin’ t’ do wit’ me or de Guild.”

She shrugged. “A week ago, ya would’ve been right… well, about the ovah an’ the Guild parts.” Again, there was a note of humor in her voice.

“So what happened?” he repeated.

“Besides me gettin’ hit upside the head with a clue-by-four?” She gathered up the papers from the desk in front of her and came to sit beside him. She leaned her elbows on her knees with the papers clasped in both hands. She was close enough that he could feel the warmth radiating from her, but not quite touching.

She sighed. “Ah guess ah finally realized that the only thing standin’ between me an’ mah dreams was… me.” She looked over at him, and he wondered what expression might be on her face. “Ah know how ta live in this world, Remy—ah was raised to it. Ah spent a lot o’ years tryin’ ta convince mahself ah didn’t belong, but ah do. If ah’d paid any attention ta what ah’m good at an’ the kind of man ah’m attracted to…” She shrugged again. “So, here ah am. Kinda late ta the party, ah know, and ah’m sorry about that. If ah’d figured all this out a while ago it would’ve saved ya a lot of grief.”

Remy needed a moment to absorb her words. She’d resisted everything having to do with his life outside the X-Men for so long and with such determination that he didn’t quite know what to make of the reversal.

“Would’ve saved us both a lot of grief,” he finally said. He couldn’t begin to count the number of arguments they’d had that stemmed directly from this one issue. Hesitantly he reached over to stroke the heavy waves of hair that tumbled across her back. She made a little humming noise of pleasure and tipped her head back. For a while, Remy lost himself in the sensation of the silken threads sliding beneath his fingertips. Desire stirred in his chest, tightening his groin, but he didn’t want to surrender this quiet, perfect moment. Especially when he knew she was in no shape for anything else.

As if sensing the direction of his thoughts, she slowly straightened and turned to face him. Remy let the last strands of her hair trail through his fingers as she pulled away, and didn’t try to reach for her again.

He’d completely forgotten the papers she held in her hand until she raised them with a tiny rustle. “So how long have ya known mah real name?” she asked, her tone curious rather than accusing.

Remy flashed a crooked smile. He’d known the question would come, given that he’d had Diedre put her legal name on all of the paperwork. There didn’t seem to be any reason to avoid it any more.

“Longer than I’ve known you, actually,” he answered.

He watched her digest that, her heat signature shifting as she thought. “Because of Mystique,” she finally concluded, and he nodded.

“Oui, chere.” He shrugged. “I always do my homework.”

She tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “Why didn’t ya ever tell me?”

He raised a skeptical eyebrow. “Y’ really need t’ ask?”

She snorted sourly. “Okay, probably not.” She set the papers on the bed beside her and leaned back, propping herself on her hands. She cocked her head to the side as she regarded him. “Just foh the sake of clarity,” she began and he tensed, sensing the gravity behind her words. “Is there any reason left for ya to not ta tell me things?” Though he couldn’t see her gaze, he could tell it was steady.

Remy froze as a cold shiver worked its way up his spine. But he knew this was one topic he couldn’t avoid, not if he wanted a real future with the woman seated across from him. He took a deep, bracing breath. “In general, no, chere.” He answered the broad strokes of the question first. “Y’ gone an’ turned y’self into my partner in crime, so t’ speak, so y’ gon’ need t’ know everyt’ing.” He gave her a thin, sardonic smile that died almost immediately.

Rogue’s heart rate picked up, a nervous patter that perfectly matched the nausea churning in his gut.

“But?” she prompted after a moment.

But dere are a couple o’ t’ings-- one t’ing, really-- out o’ de past--” His hands closed involuntarily into fists as the memories rolled over him. He looked away from her, unable to breathe until he’d forced the images back down, burying them once again in the mired depths of his heart. “--dat I jus’ can’t talk about.”

She straightened and laid her hands in her lap, where they fluttered like a pair of trapped birds. “Why not, sugah?”

He bit his lip then forced himself to look her in the face. “Some t’ings can’t be forgiven, chere.”

She was silent for several long moments, but eventually she stirred. “Okay,” she said softly.


She nodded. “Yeah. There are some things in the past that ah’d rather not talk about, either. An’ ah know how much this one hurts ya,” he could hear the echoes of that pain in her voice. She sat forward again and picked up the papers, cradling them in her lap. “Ah just don’t want ta be shut out of ya life any more.”

“Non, chere,” he agreed as the sick feeling in his stomach began to fade. He shook his head. “I won’ do that.”

He watched her heat signature settle and figured it was his turn to bring up a difficult topic. “Since we’re clarifyin’ t’ings here,” he began, and saw her tense expectantly. He braced himself. “Are y’ still plannin’ t’ break out de mother hen routine whenever I happen t’ disappear wit’out expressly tellin’ y’ what’s goin’ on?” He kept his tone mild, but made no effort to mince words with her. It seemed to be the new standard in their relationship.

She jerked, and though he saw her signature spike with anger, she didn’t immediately respond.

“First off,” she said severely once she did speak, “foh most o’ the time ya been with the X-Men, ya had me convinced ya were nothin’ but a small-time hooligan an’ a scoundrel.”

Her description ticked his sense of humor and Remy clapped a hand to his heart. “Small-time, chere? Y’ wound me.”

She snorted, and her tone softened. “Anyway, there were plenty o’ times when ah really thought ya were gettin’ in over yoh head.” She straightened her back in a small stretch and pressed the heel of one hand against her ribs. Her voice took on a reflective quality. “But that ain’t the real reason, ah suppose.”

Remy waited for her to go on.

Wincing, she leaned back once again and braced herself on her hands. “Ah was scared, Remy. Just… scared.”

“Of what, chere?”

She sighed. “Of losin’ ya-- havin’ ya up an’ disappear on me, whether it was because ya left the team or because ya died in some dark alley somewhere.” She looked away from him, her gaze roving around the room. “You’re the only man who’s ever… wanted me… just the way ah am, powers an’ all.” She raised a hand to her face, and with a sharp stab of dismay he realized she was wiping away tears.

Without thought, Remy reached for her, capturing her face in his hands and drawing her close for a kiss. He felt her hesitate in the moment before their lips met and immediately gentled his touch. Her breath trembled as he completed the motion, and the touch of her mouth sent an electric jolt through him. Rogue surrendered immediately, pressing against him. Her lips parted, granting him access, and with a sense of delight he deepened the kiss. He’d had no intentions of trying to push her down this path tonight, but he would happily go with her just as far as she was willing to take him.

He felt the change the moment her fear kicked in. She went rigid in his arms and pushed away from him with a small, panicked cry. Remy let her go. She scooted back, tucking her feet up under her and wrapping her arms around her midriff.

Remy tried to hide his disappointment.

“Ah’m sorry,” she said, her eyes fixed on the bedspread. Both her body language and heat signature portrayed acute embarrassment.

He shook his head. “Don’ be.” He knew her issues with touch went deeper than just the constraint of her powers. And as much as she frustrated him, more than anything he wanted to see her set free from her inhibitions-- able to express herself in the most fundamental, sublimely human way possible.

Sniffing a bit, she gathered up the papers she’d dropped when he kissed her, arranging them in a neat pile. “Ah’m gonna go finish these--” She gestured awkwardly toward the desk. “An’ get ‘em ta Diedre.” She climbed off the bed and went to seat herself in the desk’s lone chair.

Remy ran his hands through his hair as his exhaustion descended on him once again. Sighing, he pushed himself to his feet, scooped up his abandoned duster, and headed for the walk-in closet on the far side of the room. Once there, he hung the coat up then stripped down to his boxers in preparation for bed. He paused. Given what had just happened between them, he had no idea how Rogue might react to him wandering half-naked around the bedroom, but a mischievous little voice inside him insisted it could be fun to find out.

Considerably heartened, he emerged from the closet and headed casually toward the bathroom. The scratching of Rogue’s pen stilled. Out of the corner of his eye he saw her head turn to follow him.

“Enjoyin’ de view, chere?” he asked innocently.

Her head jerked forward, and she immediately bent over her paperwork, a bright flush marking her cheeks.

Remy smirked and continued toward the bathroom. A moment later he heard the crinkle of paper and then a lightweight projectile struck him squarely between the shoulder blades. He heard the wadded paper ball hit the carpet and bounce away, its form invisible to his sight.

He laughed and ducked through the doorway before she could ready a second missile.


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