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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 45

Bobby sat quietly in a thinly padded chair in one corner of the curtained treatment area in O-MOM’s dank basement. His skin still tingled painfully from the thorough scrubbing he’d given himself to wash off whatever radioactive particles he’d picked up. He and Remy had sent clothes over ahead of time, so he was now wearing jeans and, rather ironically, a Giants sweatshirt in place of his uniform.

In the center of the room, Remy reclined on a raised hospital bed as one of Dr. Reyes’ colleagues stitched the gash in his arm. An IV and a pint of blood drained into the other arm. He, too, was freshly showered, his t-shirt dampened at the shoulders from his wet hair.

The doctor reminded Bobby of his grandfather. He had the same round face and thick, silver hair. He had pulled a large lighted magnifying glass over his work site and was taking tiny stitches with the precision of an old fashioned clockmaker. Remy had watched him work for a little while and then, apparently satisfied, turned his head away.

The doctor made a couple of loops with his thread and then pulled them through, tying off the last stitch. “There.” He even sounded a bit like Bobby’s grandfather. He picked up a pair of scissors from the tray beside him and trimmed the thread.

“You’re a very lucky young man,” he told Remy, pushing his glasses up on his nose with one blue-gloved finger.

Remy turned to regard him. “How’s dat?” His voice still sounded dull with fatigue but his color had improved dramatically. By the time they’d gotten to O-MOM, Remy had been gray.

The doctor opened a sterile package of gauze and began winding it around Remy’s arm. He glanced up. “Generally, if a mutant gets this close to a sentinel, they don’t get away with just a laceration.”

Remy made a non-committal sound.

The doctor finished his bandaging and sat back, stripping off his gloves as he did so. “Well, that’s it. As soon as that’s done, you’ll be good to go.” He indicated the pint of blood hanging on the IV stand.

Remy nodded. “T’ank you, docteur.”

The doctor gathered his things and made his way out of the alcove. When he was gone, Bobby stood and walked over to the bed. He shoved his hands in the pockets of his jeans, uncomfortable.

“How are you feeling?” he asked after a minute.

Remy shrugged. “I’m alive. I suppose dat counts f’ somet’ing.”

Bobby bit his lip then forced himself to say the words that sat in his stomach like a lump. “I really messed up.” He found himself staring at the edge of the bed, unable to look Remy in the eye.

The silence stretched until Bobby couldn’t stand it any longer. He risked a glance upward.

“Y’ waitin’ f’ me t’ disagree?” Remy asked, a hint of a smile leaking around his solemn expression. Bobby didn’t know what to make of his reaction. Remy had little patience for stupidity.

He shook his head. He’d been through the events inside the sentinels’ hangar in his head a hundred times since then. If he hadn’t questioned Remy’s decision to take out the power, could he have shut it down in time to keep Trish from getting hurt?

Remy’s smile faded. “De middle of a firefight ain’ de time t’ be askin’ questions,” he said gently. “Y’ helped plant dose charges. Y’ could’ve asked then if y’ had concerns.”

Bobby’s gut knotted. “I know. At the time, I didn’t think about what it meant.” He balled his hands into fists inside his pockets as the memories rolled over him. Remy had done a number of things on the way into the plant that Bobby didn’t entirely understand, but that was how Remy worked. He always gave himself as many options as possible.

Bobby made a self-deprecating noise. “I was too overwhelmed trying to keep up with what I was supposed to be doing.” The entire time, that nasty little voice of terror had chattered away in the back of his mind, telling him that he was going to make a mistake, drop something, blow the mission.

Remy shifted, wincing, and drew one knee up. “I asked a lot of y’ tonight. No t’ief wit’ just a year of experience has any business bein’ in de middle o’ somet’ing like dat.” He tipped his head, his expression keen. “But y’ did y’ job, an’ I couldn’t have done mine wit’out y’.”

Bobby’s heart lifted a little at that. “Then you’re not mad at me?”

Remy shook his head. “Non. Scott may disagree, but he can yell at y’ if he t’inks there’s some value in it.”

“Gee, thanks.”

The corners of Remy’s mouth turned upward in a smile, but his expression quickly turned serious. “I know y’ well enough t’ know y’ won’t make de same mistake twice.” He shrugged. “Besides, I’m de last person who should be throwin’ stones. Just ask Warren.”

Bobby heard the echoes of guilt in his voice, but there really wasn’t anything he could say. Instead, he straightened and tried to gather his composure. He had his own guilt to try and shoulder. “I’m going to go check in with Dr. Reyes and see how Trish is doing.”

Remy gave him another of his keen stares. “Dere wasn’t anyt’ing y’ could’ve done, Bobby. She went down too fast.”

Bobby just shrugged. That was probably true, but it didn’t help much.

Remy sat up abruptly and swung his legs over the side of the bed. “Hang on, I’ll go wit’ y’.”

Bobby watched as he removed the tubes from his arm and set them aside. “The doctor said to let that pint finish,” he reminded him.

Remy shrugged. “Close enough.” He carefully felt around on the doctor’s instrument tray until he located a couple of cotton balls. Pressing them against the IV site, he slid off the edge of the bed and stood.

Bobby took his elbow to lead him out of the alcove. The entire area was cluttered with rolling curtain racks and various pieces of medical paraphernalia. It was hard enough for a seeing person to navigate the maze of equipment without tripping over something. Remy simply couldn’t.

They made their way through the tangle in search of some member of the medical staff. They found Eddie instead, slouched in a hard plastic chair at the back of the area. A large window to his left looked in on an ordinary hospital room. Trish lay in the single bed, apparently sleeping. Her hand had been wrapped in a thick bundle of bandages and rested atop the blankets covering her. An IV stand and a heart monitor huddled close by the bed.

Eddie stood as they approached. “When do I get my equipment back?” he demanded without preamble. Bobby recognized his anger for the defense mechanism it was and tried not to take offense. He’d been perhaps the least prepared of them all.

“Twenty-four hours,” Remy answered calmly. “Maybe a lil’ more.” He, too, seemed to have no trouble reading the cameraman.

Eddie hunched his shoulders and collapsed back into his chair. “Yeah, okay.” The anger drained out of him as quickly as it had come.

Remy nodded in Trish’s direction. “Have dey said how long dey gon’ keep her?”

Eddie shook his head. “No. We’ll tape the intro sections here if we have to.” He ran a hand across the back of his neck. He looked like he was about ready to crawl out of his own skin. “Trish said she wanted it on air within forty-eight hours.” He paused. “This is the biggest story of the century.”

“No arguments there,” Bobby agreed. “Listen, do you have someone coming to give you a ride home? You should probably try to get some sleep.” He decided not to mention any specific names, lest he freak Eddie out any further. The Guild had been keeping close watch on Trish and her film crew for the last six weeks. Bobby knew them all on sight. The amazing thing was that they were all human—all just ordinary people who had given up their lives, sent their families away and gone into hiding in order to keep broadcasting the truth as best they could.

Eddie nodded in a sort of non-committal way. “Yeah, I’ve got somebody I can call.”

Bobby nodded, figuring that was as much as he could probably do for the other man. “Take care, Eddie,” he said.

He flashed a shadowed smile. “See you in twenty-four hours.”

Remy walked into his office to find it full of people. The television was on, tuned to some kind of news program from the sound. Scott was ensconced in the corner of one of the couches with Jean curled up against him. Rogue sat on the opposite couch with Artur beside her. Logan had pulled one of the upholstered chairs from in front of Remy’s desk over behind the leather sofas and was currently slouched in it, feet propped on one of the end tables while he chatted with Chess and Tom O’Shane.

“What’s goin’ on?” Remy asked curiously as he took in the scene. His gaze lingered on Rogue, who jumped to her feet as soon as she spied him.

“Remy!” She came around the couch and threw herself into his arms.

Remy hugged her tight, relishing the feel of her lithe form pressed against him. He breathed in the smell of her—dewy skin with its own unique musk, her hair still damp and flowery from a recent shower, and layered over those, the scent of the perfume he’d bought her for Christmas two years ago. Home, some deep, instinctive part of him labeled that smell.

“We’re watching the Blackbird burn,” Scott answered the question he’d all but forgotten, jerking his attention away from the woman in his arms.

Not that he planned to let go of her.

“Still?” he asked over Rogue’s shoulder. It had been hours since their ersatz landing at the Meadowlands.

Scott tipped his head back to look at Remy. “Get this. The New Jersey fire department arrived on scene within about fifteen minutes, but SHIELD wouldn’t let them anywhere near the ‘Bird. Their spokesman’s claiming the fire department lacks proper training and equipment for this kind of situation. They’ve sent for some special hazardous substances containment taskforce from the EPA which should be arriving any minute now.” Remy could hear the smile in Scott’s voice. “So all that Shi’ar technology has just been burning merrily away.”

Remy returned the grin. OZT would get nothing of value from the Blackbird’s wreckage. “If Fury keeps dis up, I’m gon’ have t’ change my opinion o’ de man.”

Scott snorted. “No kidding.”

“Take a load off, Gumbo.” Logan waved toward the couches with what Remy presumed was a bottle of beer. He took a drink and returned the bottle to its perch on his knee. “How’s the arm?”

Remy saw the spikes of interest that colored his councilor’s signatures. None of the thieves would have asked publicly, but they were keen to hear his response.

Wrapping an arm around Rogue’s shoulders, he took Logan’s suggestion and headed for the couch, managing to limp only a little. “Forty-two stitches an’ a pint o’ blood an’ I’m right as rain,” he answered lightly

Rogue stiffened in his grasp, her breath catching. Remy tensed in expectation, but to his surprise, she said nothing. Still, the colors of her heat signature leapt and shimmied in an angry dance.

Remy pulled her a little closer. “How’s Sam?” he asked quietly. It was a blatant attempt to redirect the conversation onto a less dangerous topic, but he was too tired to be subtle.

“He’s okay,” Rogue answered tightly. Her arm tensed around his waist. “It’ll be a while before he’s up an’ around, but Hank thinks he’ll make a full recovery.”

“Dat’s good, eh?”


Artur stood and moved aside as they approached the couch. He offered his hand to Remy. “Guildmaster, it’s good to have you back.”

Remy shook his hand with a sardonic smile. “Told y’ I would be.”

“Yes, well, we saw the first coverage of the crash before any of the X-Men made it back here.” Anger edged the calmer colors of his signature.

Across from them, Jean laughed lightly. “I swear I tried to convince them you all were fine.” She burrowed a little closer to her husband. “That crash was way too tame to have killed the X-Men.”

Logan chuckled and raised his drink. “Hear hear.”

Remy sank onto the couch with a heartfelt sigh, drawing Rogue down beside him. He propped his leg up on the coffee table and reached down to massage the aching knot of muscle and scar tissue on this thigh.

Rogue caught his other hand and laid something small and round in his palm. “Here, sugah.”

He closed his hand around his wedding ring, surprised by how glad he was to have it back. A thief never wore any kind of jewelry on a job, particularly not something as conductive as gold. He’d left it on the bathroom counter, right next to Rogue’s.

He slipped it on then reached over to take Rogue’s hand. She willingly curled her fingers around his, but her hand was tense, her fingers hooked like claws. Remy decided not to make an issue of it. Putting her on the spot would only make things worse, he was certain.

For a few minutes there was no sound in the office other than the continuing news coverage.

“I’m curious, Remy,” Scott’s voice interrupted a trio of talking heads who were busy debating whether the X-Men should be considered heroes or criminals. “When you suggested Giants Stadium, had you considered the media aspects?” He waved a hand toward the television.

Remy frowned. “De thought crossed my mind,” he allowed. “Why? I thought y’ wanted national coverage.”

“I do. It’s just about perfect, in fact. We’re the lead story on every news station in the country.” Scott cocked his head. “I was just curious if that was part of why you picked it.”

Remy didn’t get the chance to formulate a response as the news coverage shifted to the SHIELD spokesman. From the news anchor’s narration, Remy gathered that the press conference was being held at the crash site, beyond the ring of fire, police and SHIELD vehicles that surrounded the remains of the Blackbird.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I have some new information, and then I’ll take questions,” the spokesman said.

Relative silence answered him, broken by the sound of the wind picked up by the microphones and the click and whirr of the camera shutters.

The spokesman cleared his throat. “First, I can now confirm that the crashed aircraft is one of the modified Blackbird aircraft flown by the X-Men.”

His statement was met with a surge of questions from the surrounding reporters, most of which were some version of “Were the X-Men on the airplane?” or “Are the X-Men still alive?”

The spokesman waited for the furor to die down before he spoke. “From transmissions intercepted by SHIELD just prior to the crash, I can tentatively confirm that some or all of the X-Men were onboard the aircraft at the time of the accident. We also believe everyone onboard was able to escape before the airplane caught fire.”

The reporters exploded with a new set of questions, but Remy doubted the spokesman would have much more to offer. Nor was he wrong. The press conference quickly devolved into the endless repetition that was so characteristic of such things, and the newscast eventually broke away to return to its talking heads.

“What’s de status on de tapes?” Remy asked after a bit.

“All the footage is uploaded,” Chess answered, “and they’ve started the processing.”

Scott craned his neck to look behind him at the thief. “Will we have any trouble getting the footage to Trish’s people on time?”

Remy wondered if Scott even realized how easily he referred to the thieves as “we” these days.

Chess shook his head. “We shouldn’t.”

“Good.” Scott raised his arms over his head, stretching. “Well, in that case, I think I hear my bed calling me.” He surged to his feet and turned to offer Jean a hand. “It’s been a long day.”

Logan raised his beer in acknowledgment.

“You can say that again,” Rogue said quietly. Her voice held a faint, bitter note.

He glanced down at her. “You ready f’ bed too, cherie?”

She shrugged. “Ah don’t know if ah can sleep.”

Remy pulled his leg off the table and gathered himself to stand. Saints, but I’m tired, he thought as his body protested.

He pushed himself to his feet. If nothing else, the pretense of going to bed would give him a chance to get Rogue alone for a while. He didn’t like what he was reading from her at all.

After a round of good nights despite the fact that it was now mid-morning, Remy led his wife toward their bedroom.

Rogue pulled away from Remy almost as soon as the door had closed behind them. She was angry and she didn’t know why. It wasn’t like she wasn’t glad to see him. When he’d walked into the office it was like the giant rubber band around her heart had snapped and she could finally breathe again. She’d kept telling herself that if she acted like everything was all right, the anger would eventually have to go away.

Shaking, she managed to get as far as the foot of the bed before her legs gave out beneath her. She sank onto the corner, knotting her fingers in the bedspread, and fought not to cry. Her breath hissed through her teeth. She absolutely hated feeling this weak. It lit a hot rage deep in her gut that threatened to burn her up from the inside out.

“Now I’m really startin’ t’ worry about y’,” Remy said from his place near the door.

“Well, quit,” she snapped. “Ah’m just fine.”

“An’ I’m de Queen of England,” he returned dryly.

He didn’t try to approach her, which, she conceded, was probably wise. There’d been a couple of times in their relationship when he’d expressed concern and she’d come out swinging. Not that she was likely to hurt him without her powers, but she felt violent enough to try.

“Remy, ah mean it. Leave me alone.” Maybe if she warned him off, he would give her the space she needed to get herself back under control.

“Non, chere.” She heard the faint rustle as he shifted his weight. “Y’ don’ have t’ talk t’ me, but I’m not gon’ pretend everyt’ing’s okay, either.” He took a small, limping step in her direction, wincing as he transferred his weight to his bad leg.

It was the limp that shattered what little self-control she still had—his mortality thrown in her face, an inescapable reminder of everything she stood to lose. She was off the bed before she’d registered moving.

She balled her hands into fists as she stalked up to him. “No, everything is not okay. Ya could have died today!”

“So could you, chere.” He reached up to stroke her hair, but she batted his hand away. The red eyes narrowed.

“Don’t.” Chest heaving, Rogue stepped back, her hands held out in a warding gesture. “Just… don’t touch me.” Something like panic gripped her heart and squeezed tight. Remy was far too good at getting past her defenses—opening her up—and right now the knowledge of how much it was going to hurt to lose him was a raw wound inside her. She needed her walls to keep everything in. Otherwise, she would simply shatter.

He laughed disgustedly. “I thought we were past dat.”

Rogue shook her head, hunching her shoulders. She hadn’t been trying to hurt him, but she had. She could hear it in his voice.

“Do ya know what Trish asked me earlier tonight?” she asked, her tone dipped in bitterness.

Warily Remy shook his head.

She wrapped her arms around herself, seeking comfort. “She asked if we were puttin’ the honeymoon off until after OZT is gone.”

Remy’s expression cleared with sudden understanding. “Rogue—” Compassion softened his gaze and he reached for her once again.

No!” She stumbled back, trying to escape. “What is the point—?”

She didn’t move fast enough. Remy caught her right arm in a light grip, his fingers warm on her skin. The touch jolted her all the way down to her toes, robbing her of her defenses, and she reacted the only way she knew how.

She swung at him, an awkward, left-handed strike that nevertheless had the full force of her body behind it. Remy didn’t try to block her. Instead, he caught her wrist, redirecting her blow over his shoulder so that she missed him cleanly. Her momentum carried her right into him, and before she could properly register what had happened, he had her trapped up against him. His mouth crashed down on hers, possessive, demanding, and her body responded with a surge of desire. She groaned as the pain in her heart transmuted into aching need.

This is de point,” he growled as he tipped her head back to gain access to her throat. Hot kisses trailed across her skin. Her heart pounded madly in her chest.

Suddenly desperate for the feel of him, she grabbed the bottom of his t-shirt and yanked it upward. He hissed as the shirt caught on his bandage, but before she could even think to apologize he’d tugged it free. He stripped the shirt the rest of the way off and dropped it carelessly on the ground before pulling her roughly to him once again.

Rogue kissed him back with hungry abandon. The feel of his skin beneath her palms nearly drove her crazy. She slid her hands across the hard planes of his chest and felt the answering tug deep inside her. She dug her fingertips into his shoulders, striving to pull him even closer. Her shirt followed his after a moment, and then the rest of their clothes, paving the short distance to the bed in discarded barriers.

There was nothing gentle in their meeting amid the bed covers. The rage and terror that had been building inside her since before the Blackbird had even left the ground fueled an explosion of desperate, uncontrollable passion. She clung to Remy with all her strength as the waves of pleasure crashed over her, using her arms, her legs, even her teeth to keep from being swept away.

Eventually the torrent ebbed, leaving her limp and shaking with exhaustion, but with her heart swept clean. Remy nuzzled her gently, leaving a trail of kisses from her jaw to her lips.

“Better now, cherie?” he asked.

She blinked a couple of times as the meaning of the words sank in, and then ragged laughter bubbled out of her. “Ya did that on purpose.”

He chuckled. “Beats fightin’.” His laughter took on a wicked edge. “Though I t’ink I’d have fewer bruises if I’d let y’ hit me.”

“Remy!” Rogue found herself blushing, which struck her as rather odd considering the circumstances.

Grinning, Remy settled on his back and Rogue was content to drape herself across him, pillowing her head on his shoulder.

He stroked the skin of her back in lazy circles. “Besides, it seemed like y’ needed it.”

“Ah guess ah did,” she admitted after a moment. She heaved a sigh. “Ah’m sorry ah’ve been so prickly. Ah suppose ah’d rather fight than admit ah’m afraid.”

His arms tightened fractionally around her. “Dat’s always been y’ way, chere.”

She raised her head to look at him, uncertain how to read his tone. But his eyes were closed and his face still, giving her little insight. She pursed her lips. “In mah defense, though, ah did try ta talk to ya,” she pointed out.

“I know y’ did.” He paused. “An’ I shut y’ down.”

At the time, the rejection had stung badly, and Rogue could still feel an echo of it in her heart. “Yeah,” she agreed, keeping her tone mild with an effort. “Why is that?”

His hand stilled on her back. “I can’t do personal while I’m workin’, chere.” He raised his head to look down at her. “I get distracted, it messes wit’ my judgment.” He shrugged and laid his head back down. “I do stupid t’ings.”

Rogue wasn’t entirely certain she believed his explanation. “Ya never had any qualms about mixin’ business an’ personal when we were on missions with the X-Men,” she finally said.

He snorted. “An’ how many dumb t’ings y’ remember me doin’ on those missions, chere?” he asked, sounding amused.

She raised an eyebrow. “That wasn’t just part of the act?”

“Not de really stupid stuff, no.” He shrugged apologetically. “It fit de persona t’ play t’ings fast an’ loose wit’ de X-Men, so I did, but dat’s never been de way I’d choose t’ work. I’m sorry I didn’ t’ink t’ warn y’. It jus’… didn’t occur to me.”

Rogue resettled her head on his shoulder and blew her breath out in a long sigh, letting the lingering echo of hurt drain away with it. It seemed strange that she could love this man, marry him, and still know so little about him.

But we’re talkin’ now, she reminded herself. Remy wasn’t keeping secrets any more, so getting to know him was simply a matter of time.

Silence fell comfortably between them and after a while Remy went back to tracing abstract designs on her back. Rogue closed her eyes, enjoying the delicious sensation, and let her thoughts drift.

Eventually his hand came to rest on the small of her back, fingers splayed and his thumb resting lightly on the base of her spine. She thought he’d fallen asleep until he spoke.

“I t’ink I’d like t’ find a private island… buy one if I have to.” His words were soft, thick. “Be nice, jus’ you an’ me, alone wit’ de sun an’ de sand.” He sighed softly, his voice fading. “Dat sounds like a perfect honeymoon t’ me.”

Rogue’s breath caught as a cold lance stabbed through her, shattering her peace. She bit her lip, her body tensing. “It sounds nice, sugah,” she managed.

Remy stirred, muscles tightening as he pulled her close. “We’ll find a way, cherie. Don’ you worry.”

She blinked hard against the sudden burn in her eyes. “How can ya be so sure?”

He chuckled, his breath warm on her scalp. “We made it dis far, didn’ we? Figurin’ out y’ powers is nothing compared t’ dat.”

Strangely, Rogue found herself relaxing into him once again, buoyed by his confidence.

“Maybe, sugah,” she finally conceded. “Maybe.”


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