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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 4

Remy glanced at the clock and mentally tsked at himself. He was supposed to be sleeping. He’d only managed to catch about an hour and a half nap before his monitor duty started that morning, but now there was football on the TV. and a very friendly woman curled up against him on the couch. He had no intention of giving up either just because he was a little tired.

Rogue reached across him to grab a handful of popcorn from the bowl Bishop was holding with the uncomfortable ease of a man carrying a disarmed bomb. She smiled at Remy as she munched on the handful and he found himself grinning back, wondering if he looked as much like a love-struck fool as he felt. Rogue had met him in the driveway when he’d gotten back and had hugged him with such enthusiasm that it had swept away all of his lingering uncertainty about what he had promised her.

The risk hadn’t changed, though, so he was going to have to introduce her to the Thieves’ culture very slowly. In coming to the X-Men, Rogue had rejected everything having to do with her past. He still wasn’t certain but that the rejection wouldn’t extend to himself and his Guild if she found out the truth. In some ways, she could be as narrowly focused as Scott, and as black-and-white in her definitions of right and wrong. But now that he didn’t also have to worry about Michael finding a way to use her as a weapon against him in the Guild, maybe it was time to find out.

The phone rang, shattering his introspection. He pushed the thoughts away as Jean picked up the phone. Her eyebrows flickered in poorly concealed surprise.

“Remy, it’s for you.”

Remy’s gut tightened. There were precious few people who would call him at the mansion. He gave her a genuinely puzzled look and accepted the phone.


“Hello, Remy. It’s Dyson. Sorry to call you at this number, but I didn’t think it could wait.” The voice on the other end of the line was smooth and precise, just like the man it was attached to.

Remy arched an eyebrow. “What’s de problem?” Around him, the X-Men perked their ears a bit, not rude enough to watch him but obviously curious.

“You know those accounts you’ve been having me keep an eye on for the past few years? Well, I just got a nibble at one of my hooks.”

Remy digested that as he forced his expression to remain mild. Dyson was a security consultant, as he liked to be called, and his specialty was money. No matter what it was or where you were keeping it, Dyson’s job was to make sure it stayed safe. Remy had used him for years to keep an eye on his own accounts, primarily to make sure that various investigative agencies didn’t track him down through his investments or his onshore accounts. When he’d joined the X-Men on a semi-permanent basis, it had seemed prudent to have him watch the Professor and Warren as well. Remy didn’t expect anyone to find him through either of them, but he believed in protecting his back. The fact that someone had just tripped one of Dyson’s alarms on one of those accounts made him suddenly very nervous.

He nudged Rogue to move over so he could get up. She did so, curiosity written on her face.

Remy shrugged and covered the mouth of the phone with his hand. “M’ accountant. Wants t’ talk ‘bout some t’ings.”

Scott gave him a surprised look, “You have an accountant?”

“Dat surprise y’, mon ami?” Remy couldn’t help the sarcasm that crept into his voice. For all that he needed the X-Men to think he was both irresponsible and dilettante, he found the reaction extremely annoying.

Scott favored him with a thoughtful frown. “A little, I guess. You’ve never mentioned it before.”

Remy considered that expression to be among Scott’s most dangerous. It meant he was thinking, and Remy had learned from experience what a tremendous intuitive thinker Scott was. If he got too curious, Remy was certain he would start putting the pieces together. That was why he felt compelled to use such heavy-handed misdirection with the X-Men, and so far, at least, it had been sufficient to distract Cyclops.

Remy shrugged, an insolent gesture calculated to anger the other man. “Consider it mentioned.”

Scott’s lips thinned at the retort, but he didn’t respond. Remy took the opportunity to escape to the back porch.

He settled in one of the patio chairs and propped his feet up. “Now, what happened?” he asked Dyson.

“Not much to tell, I’m afraid. Somebody made a couple of forays into Xavier’s personal finances. Not the school money—that hasn’t been touched. It looks like they were tracing expenditures, which makes me think they’re trying to find links.”

“Could y’ back trace it?” Remy stared at his boots. It sounded like someone was trying to identify the Professor’s associates by following his money. It was a standard tactic for agencies like the F.B.I and Interpol. They weren’t going to find much, though. The Professor had very capable accountants. Everything he did that was associated with the mutant underground or people like Valerie Cooper was done very discretely. Even Dyson had been impressed.

“That’s why I called. I followed them back into the banking infrastructure, but then it started getting really complex. There’s a new watchdog patrolling those lanes. It spotted both of us, but it let the other one through and cut me out.”

Remy didn’t pretend to completely understand the cyber jargon. He was a fair hacker, but nothing compared to people like Dyson. He did know that a watchdog was a security program that protected a certain set of data exchanges. The one Dyson was talking about was probably either owned by one of the larger banks, or was a Federal code run by the FCC. Either way, the fact that it had deliberately allowed the infiltrator to pass was a bad sign.

“T’anks f’ de info,” Remy told him. “Is dere anyt’ing we can do t’ keep him out next time?”

“Actually, I was thinking you might want to get a little more drastic than just adding more security. These accounts you want me to watch have been pretty static over the past few years. They do leave traces, no matter how hard somebody works to erase them. If you really want to make them more secure, we need to talk about some judicious rearranging...”

“Can’ do dat,” Remy answered unhappily. Scott wasn’t an idiot. He had control of the Professor’s accounts in his absence and he wouldn’t miss the fact that someone else had moved them around.

Dyson sighed. “Well, then you’re out of luck.”

Remy couldn’t help a smile. “Not me, mon ami. I never run out o’ luck.”

On the other end, Dyson chuckled. “I hope so. I’ll beef up my codes and let you know if they come back.”

“T’anks.” Another thought occurred to him. “Anyt’ing going on wit’ Worthington Industries? Dey got decent security.”

Dyson snorted at that assessment. “Nope. Fat, dumb and happy. Whatever’s going on, they haven’t caught wind of it.”

Remy scratched the back of his neck where a prickly feeling was starting to build. “Y’ ever heard of a company called Draxar, Dyson?” With Tom dead, Remy wondered if it was wise to ask any more questions about that place, but more than ever he needed to know.

He was answered by complete silence on the other end of the line. Then, “Yeah, I’ve heard of them,” Dyson admitted.

Remy waited as the feeling on the back of his neck intensified.

“They call it the Death Star because the security’s so good,” Dyson told him. “I don’t know of anybody who has managed to hack in. Not even the anarchists, and they’d probably be the first to make it.”

Again, Remy didn’t completely follow him, but he got the gist, and he understood enough to realize that Draxar was even more dangerous than he’d believed. The anarchists Dyson referred to were the people who created the truly nasty viruses. The kind that could launch missiles and crash Wall Street. They were among the most skilled and most twisted of hackers. If they couldn’t get in, then it had to be military and that put a slightly different light on things.

Feeling more alarmed than he’d like to admit, Remy turned off the phone and laid it down on the patio table. He still didn’t know enough to gauge the threat that Draxar posed, or even at whom that threat might be directed, but he was convinced now that he needed to start taking some steps to make sure that neither the Guild nor the X-Men would be caught unawares when Draxar finally revealed itself.

Rogue smoothed her skirt nervously and turned once more to check her reflection in the mirror. The gown she had picked was long and sleek, the silk an olive color that was an unusual choice for her. The fabric was stitched with an intricate pattern of stylized peacocks, the brilliant hues of the feathers picking out the color of her eyes and hair. It was the most beautiful thing she owned, and she felt a bit hesitant about wearing it. But Remy had said “black tie” when she’d asked, so now all she could do was hope he’d meant what he said and she wouldn’t be overdressed. She couldn’t help the frightened, excited fluttering in her stomach. He’d made her a promise and tonight was supposed to be part of keeping that promise.

Taking a deep breath to try to settle her stomach, she picked up her purse and headed downstairs. She found Remy in the foyer with Ororo and Logan. He turned around as she entered, and she felt a momentary wash of relief as she noted the distinct black and white of a tuxedo beneath the long black overcoat he wore. But then her thoughts scattered as he smiled at her. She felt rooted in place by his gaze as he closed the distance between them, a long-stemmed red rose appearing in his fingers as if by magic. The soft petals stroked her cheek in a gentle caress, their perfume filling the air around her, before he offered her the rose with a flourish.

“For you, ma cherie.”

Flushing violently and well aware of the smiles that Ororo and Logan were exchanging a few steps away, she accepted with as much grace as she could manage. To her surprise, Remy’s only response was to offer his arm. He could be such a gentleman sometimes that it amazed her.

They walked out together. Rogue wasn’t surprised to find the yellow Ferrari parked outside. Remy held her door and she slid into the passenger seat with the thought that tonight she might actually look like she belonged in it. Smiling, she sniffed the rose. If he was trying to sweep her off her feet with some kind of fairy tail evening, he was off to a pretty good start.

“Is this where ya wanted ta take me?” she couldn’t help but ask as they walked into the most astounding restaurant Rogue had ever seen. They were on the top of one of New York’s taller skyscrapers. The entire structure was made of glass. It was almost as if they were floating above the city, the view was so complete. The air was filled with the gentle burble of running water from the fountains that were scattered around the room, and a small orchestral group was seated on a raised dais in the middle of the restaurant, their music in perfect counterpoint to the water.

Remy grinned and squeezed her hand. “Non. Dis is jus’ dinner.” His smile faded. “But it is a lil’ bit o’ what I promised y’.”

Rogue looked around with even greater curiosity as the maitre’d approached them. He smiled at them both and bowed in greeting, then gestured for them to follow.

“Your table is prepared, if you’ll come with me.”

Rogue arched an eyebrow at the maitre’d’s behavior, but kept her thoughts to herself as they followed him out into the restaurant. Something in the man’s tone of voice made her think that he wasn’t randomly selecting a table for them. It was more as if he’d recognized Remy on sight and was now taking them to a place that had been reserved for their use.

After a moment, she dismissed the thoughts. She didn’t frequent any really posh restaurants. He was probably treating them just like he treated everyone else. It did give her pause to wonder just how much Remy was paying for the evening, though, and how Scott would react if he found out the school’s money was being used for something so extravagant.

Her hopes for an intimate and romantic evening were abruptly ended as she spied Bobby and Diedre seated at one of the tables. She was startled not only by their presence, but also by how beautiful they looked. Bobby had always struck her as being attractive in a cute, boyish sort of way, but dressed in a tuxedo and surrounded by such sophistication, she had to admit that perhaps she had never looked closely enough. The man who stood and greeted them both with characteristic enthusiasm was downright handsome. Diedre, too, looked surprisingly pretty. She wore white as if she’d been born for it, and seemed oddly comfortable amid the elegance that surrounded them.

Remy held her chair for her as she sat down at the table, and then the maitre’d took his coat and Rogue indulged herself in a moment of simply staring at him. There was no doubt whatsoever that Remy LeBeau was a handsome man. Even disheveled, unshaven and dressed in rags, he was almost magnetically attractive. This, however, was something different. Debonair was the word that floated through her mind. She had once jokingly told herself that he was as close to Prince Charming as she was ever going to get, with the understanding that that wasn’t all that close. At the moment, though, she couldn’t think of anyone who fit the description better. The conclusion startled her, and she felt the first stirrings of suspicion. This was entirely unlike Remy. He was a rough-and-tumble, blue collar kind of man. She didn’t particularly care about social graces—they weren’t exactly her strong suit either—but the four of them should have looked like fish out of water in the glittering restaurant. The only problem was that she was the only one that seemed to be the least bit uncomfortable. Remy and the Drakes looked like they belonged there.

Their waiter came by, bringing them water in tall, slim goblets. Rogue toyed with the intricate lemon twist that adorned hers, in the process flicking the edge of her glass with a fingernail. The pure, clear tone of crystal rang out and she grabbed up the glass to deaden the sound. None of her companions seemed to notice, though. The two men were talking about a variety of things with the comfortable ease of old friends. It amazed Rogue how much had changed in the year she’d been away. During the course of their admittedly bizarre road trip from Florida to Seattle, Rogue had gotten the distinct impression that Bobby held a dislike for Remy that bordered on hatred. And yet, only a year later during those few horrible days when Remy was literally teetering on the edge between life and death, it had been Bobby who he had reached out for, whose presence seemed to pull him back every time he started to slide away into the dark again.

She felt a familiar stab of jealousy for Bobby, who seemed to have all of the knowledge she yearned to possess. She shoved the feeling away, ashamed of herself, and took a sip of her water. Diedre caught Rogue’s eye over the top of the glass, her smile echoing the other woman’s discomfort.

“I suppose we have a long way to go to catch up with them.” Diedre nodded toward the two men.

Rogue understood what she meant, and bit her lip. She and Diedre were not close. Rouge wasn’t sure why, except that Diedre seemed so fragile and easily hurt that Rogue felt like she couldn’t say anything she thought without causing the other woman to flinch. Rogue knew she wasn’t one of the world’s most sensitive people --that she could be a little abrupt at times—and that Diedre had come out of an abusive relationship that no one seemed willing to talk about, so she’d simply concluded that the less contact she had with her, the better.

“Ah suppose so,” she agreed softly.

The waiter came back then and proceeded to describe the evening’s menu to them. Rogue found herself getting lost about halfway through each item because of the dizzying array of culinary terms she simply didn’t know, but she managed to select something without making a fool of herself. The others made their choices as well, and the conversation moved on to wines. After a few moments, Remy and the waiter shifted into French.

Bobby chuckled. “Snob.”

Remy ignored him so deliberately that Rogue was forced to smile. Her mood lightened slowly as the gentle banter between Remy and Bobby continued. The waiter apparently managed to get a wine choice out of Remy because he excused himself and left. The four of them settled into a somewhat more comfortable atmosphere as they waited for the meal to be served.

“What do y’ t’ink o’ de restaurant, chere?” Remy asked her at one point.

Rogue paused in her train of thought, taken aback by the intensity lurking behind his gaze. She had the strangest feeling she was being asked a loaded question, but she couldn’t imagine how or why. Her sense of wrongness with the evening came back full force. A tiny pit of fear formed in her stomach.

“It’s beautiful,” she answered, looking around once more. Then she centered her attention on Remy, “But ah don’t understand what this has ta do with...” She glanced involuntarily toward Bobby and Diedre. Her personal relationship with Remy wasn’t something she wanted to discuss in front of an audience.

Remy followed her gaze. “It’s all right, chere. Dey know what we’re doin’ here.”

“And what exactly is that?” The question came out more sharply than she intended, but the fear in her stomach simply wouldn’t go away.

She saw a flash of anger in Remy’s eyes that disappeared immediately, leaving something hard in its wake. “Y’ wanted t’ know more about me, neh?” He made a sweeping gesture. “So tonight we start.”

Rogue blinked in surprise at his tone, her anger suddenly sapped by the strangeness of the conversation. “What do they have ta do with it?” She nodded toward the Drakes.

Bobby grinned in response and leaned forward. “I’m the self-appointed chaperone and peace-keeper for you two.”

“Excuse me?”

Beside her, Remy snorted in sour amusement. “He’s got us dere.”

Before she could sort out a response, Bobby reached across the table and grabbed her arm, which was covered by the long sleeve of her dress. “Come dance with me.”

Rogue looked between him and Diedre, who shrugged and glanced at her husband. “I don’t mind.”

“But—“ She turned to Remy, who returned her gaze mildly, but didn’t comment.

“Rogue, put on your gloves and let’s dance.” Bobby’s tone was still light, but this time it brooked no argument.

Uncertain, she did as he suggested. Bobby took her hand and lead her out to the small dance floor beside the orchestra.

“When did ya learn how ta dance, sugah?” she couldn’t help but ask as they began. From what she remembered, he had always been a barely passable dancer. Now, he moved them both with confident poise.

Bobby chuckled. “Recently.”

Rogue didn’t have a response, and the momentary silence stretched. Everything inside her roiled in confusion. She didn’t know whether to be hurt, angry or afraid.

“How long have we been friends, Rogue?”

She turned to look at him, the gentleness in his voice like a sudden anchor. “Since we were fifteen,” she answered hesitantly. She felt intensely vulnerable, and didn’t understand why.

“Then can I give you some advice?”

Part of her immediately shouted No!, but she throttled that particular voice and nodded. “Ah suppose so.”

“Remy is never going to simply tell you what you want to know.”

Startled by his bluntness, she stammered, “What do ya mean? Tell me about what?”

Bobby shrugged. “Anything. It’s just not part of who he is.” He nodded toward the focus of their attention, who was still seated at the table talking with Diedre. “I know Remy. I know how much he loves you.” Rogue’s gaze snapped back to his face, her heart lurching, as he continued, “I know he’s willing to let you into any part of his life you want to see, but you’re going to have to figure out the answers for yourself.”

Rogue was mystified. “Ah don’t understand that. Why? All ah want from him is a straight answer instead a these games.” Her hand on his shoulder balled into a fist, echoing her frustration.

Bobby squeezed her reassuringly. “It’s not a game, Rogue. Guaranteed. But you’re going to have to be observant and use your head if you want to get to know him.”

“Why?” She was beginning to feel like a broken record.

“Because otherwise you’ll never see what’s really there.”

The answer was so obtuse it was almost funny. “That doesn’t help me very much,” she told him dryly.

He chuckled. “Then let me give you an example. What color is the rose Remy gave you?”

She gave him a quizzical stare. “Red, o’ course.”

“What about the one on the table? And no peeking, now.” His grin was guileless.

Rogue thought for a moment. There had been rose bud in a vase on the table. “Um, white, ah think.”

“Nope, pink. How many forks are there beside your plate?”

She stared at him in hopeless confusion. “How should ah know? What in the world does this have ta do with anythin’?”

Bobby’s smile faded. “It’s all about observation, Rogue—paying attention to the details. This is all really basic stuff, but you weren’t paying attention so you don’t remember what you saw.”

“Hey!” She felt vaguely insulted, but couldn’t deny that he was right.

“Well?” This time, there was a note of challenge in his voice.

She sighed. “All right, sugah. Ah can’t deny that one.”

His grin returned. “Good. So that’s my advice. Pay attention. Watch everything Remy does, especially the little things. Ask yourself why, and then think it through until you figure it out.” He released his hold on her to wag a finger under her nose in almost playful warning. “But be aware... Remy will be watching you just as closely to see how you react once you do figure him out.”

Rogue felt her heart sink. “It’s like ya want us ta spy on each other, Bobby! Love’s supposed ta be about trust--“

She broke off as his fingers tightened fiercely around hers. “What happened after Israel, Rogue? After you had all of those answers you want dumped directly into your brain?” His uncompromising gaze bored directly into her heart. Had it been anyone else, she probably would have told them that Israel was none of their business, but Bobby had been there—with her-- through everything that had happened afterward. She wanted desperately to pull away from him, to deny what he was suggesting, but she was rooted in place by the guilty knowledge that he was right.

He nodded slowly. “So give the man a little room to be cautious.”

At night, the Statue of Liberty was lit with a golden glow that seemed to surround her figure with a halo of warmth and strength. Rogue closed her eyes and let the cool offshore breeze wash over her face. She leaned out over the railing, hoping desperately to let the night air cleanse the confusion from her mind and heart. The dinner had gone well enough, and the food had been absolutely wonderful, but she had spent the entire evening in rigid terror, preternaturally aware of the man who sat beside her. The man who now leaned casually against the side of his car, waiting. Even so, she’d tried to do what Bobby said. She’d tried to watch, but she didn’t have the faintest idea what she was supposed to be looking for.

A moment later, she heard footsteps approaching. They stopped directly behind her. She held her breath as he took hold of the railing on either side of her. Part of her wanted to sink back against him and the rest wanted to bolt, and, torn between conflicting desires, she simply froze.

“What did y’ see tonight, cherie?” She felt his breath in her hair as he spoke.

Rogue opened her eyes and stared up at the Statue. Observation, she told herself. It was all about observation. For lack of anything better to offer, she went with her first impression.

“A very expensive restaurant.”

He shifted slightly behind her, and she wished she dared turn to look at his face. “Care t’ take a guess at de number?” There was something playful in his voice, and she felt a small amount of reassurance.

She made a face as she tried to formulate a guess. It was a very nice restaurant... there had been four of them, and if she was completely extravagant in her estimate...

Rogue shrugged. “Ah don’t know. A thousand, maybe?” She looked up to find him grinning at her.

“More like eight, chere.”

She gaped at him. “Eight thousand? Dollars? For dinner?”

His eyes danced with amusement at her reaction, but he shrugged. “De plates start at about fifteen hundred, an’ dat wine y’ drank was two centuries old.”

Rogue closed her jaw with a snap and looked back out over the water. The first thought that popped into her mind was so absurd, yet she finally decided that the only way she would ever know was if she just voiced her guess.

She tried to make it sound as teasing as possible. “Please tell me ya didn’t steal somethin’ ta pay fo’ dinner.”

He laughed, sounding surprised. “Non. I haven’ stolen anyt’ing f’ profit since I joined de X-Men.”

Rogue’s fingers tightened on the railing. She’d wanted to hear him say that for two years, to state in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t a thief anymore. But every time she’d broached the subject, he had evaded her questions. Now, as she turned the last few minutes over in her mind, she wondered what was different that he would suddenly just say it.

“How come ya never told me that before when ah asked ya about it?”

He shrugged and looked out at the water. “I suppose dis is de first time I t’ought y’ would believe me.”


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