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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 5

Rogue paused in the kitchen doorway, somewhat surprised by the woman seated at the table. Jean was rarely at the mansion at this hour except for training, and then she would be in uniform. Instead, she was dressed in sweats, with her hair pulled back in a rough ponytail that didn’t look like it had involved a hairbrush in the making. She cradled a glass of what appeared to be seltzer water in both hands, occasionally taking a cautious sip.

“Sugah, what are ya doing up here? Ya look like ya ought ta be back in bed.”

Jean looked up as Rogue took a seat at the table. “We ran out.” She indicated the glass in her hand.

Rogue gave her a sympathetic smile. She hadn’t been sick for years—a side effect of absorbing Carol Danvers’ powers-- but she clearly remembered having the flu as a kid. “Ah always liked Sprite mahself. Maybe ‘cause it was sweeter.”

Jean gave her a flickering grin, tipping the glass she held to stare at its contents appraisingly. “It is awful.” She took a sip and made a sour face. “But it settles my stomach.” Already, Rogue thought, she was looking a little less green around the gills.

Her observation was interrupted by Joseph, who came into the kitchen bearing a small stack of plates, the obvious remains of his breakfast. His normally somber expression lifted when he spied them.

“Good morning, Rogue, Jean.”

Rogue couldn’t help but smile at him. “’Mornin’ Joseph.” It was strange how much his presence brightened her day. She couldn’t exactly say why, but it was true. She’d spent a fair amount of time trying to figure it out once she realized that it was her reactions to Joseph that made Remy angry rather than anything Joseph was doing. But still, she wasn’t sure. In part, she knew, it was simply because she cared about him. She had known him for years as Magneto and had seen both his best and his worst, and had cared about him through it all. So maybe it just made her happy to see him with most of the worst stripped away, and with a chance to remake his life into something filled with the best of him.

Unfortunately, it was all too easy for her mind to cast back across the years, back to the Savage Land, to that moment in time when she’d offered her heart to Magneto only to have it handed gently back to her as he chose a path down which she could not follow him. Joseph, she knew, would never make the same choice that Magneto had. And so, she mused, if her heart was still available to offer him, he might very well accept it and undo the hurt of that day so long ago.

“Ahem.” Jean cleared her throat, her green eyes boring into Rogue.

Rogue flushed, startled to realize that she and Joseph had been staring at each other. Joseph also seemed suddenly flustered. Without looking at either woman, he set his dishes in the sink and left with a mumbled comment about needing to finish patching the mansion roof.

Rogue watched him go and then slowly turned to face Jean. “Don’t read me the riot act, sugah, ah ain’t lookin’ fo’ a greener pasture.”

The other woman was still pale, but there was a spark of challenge in her eyes. “Are you sure of that, Rogue?”

Rogue felt a surge of annoyance. “Of course ah’m sure!” She sighed. “Joseph just reminds me a’ the might-have-beens is all.”

Jean nodded carefully and took another sip of her water. “Not that it’s any of my business, but I’m glad to hear that.” A hint of a smile curled at the corners of her mouth.

Rogue found her annoyance evaporating. She leaned back in her seat and propped her feet up on a second chair with an exaggerated sigh. “Y’know, ah’ve only really fallen f’ two men in mah life—Magneto an’ Remy. Ah wish somebody could tell me what in the world those two have in common so ah could figure out what mah type is.”

This time Jean really did smile as humor overcame nausea. “Oh I don’t know. I see a few similarities...”

Rogue looked over at her sharply, surprised by her tone. “Like what, sugah? Magneto was one a the most powerful mutants on the planet, a visionary an’ a leader. He was the kind of man who could change the whole world.”

Jean’s expression was completely unreadable. “And Remy?”

Rogue closed her eyes as the familiar tingle swept through her, tightening her stomach and making her feel like her blood was suddenly rushing through her veins. “Remy?” She leaned her head back over the top of the chair and stared at the ceiling. “Remy makes me forget ah can’t touch people.”

Jean was silent for a while, and Rogue finally lifted her head to look at her. Jean gave her a sympathetic smile. “It sounds like you have a pretty good problem there. Two men: one you admire... and one you love.”

Love… but don’t admire? Cold fingers wrapped themselves around Rogue’s stomach and squeezed.

Jean seemed to understand how deeply her words had cut. She said nothing as she slowly levered herself to her feet and shuffled out. Rogue watched her go, a feeling akin to terror building inside her. Is it possible ta be happy lovin’ a man if ah can’t respect him? she wondered, but then quickly squashed the thought. Their relationship was difficult enough already and she wasn’t fool enough to believe that a person couldn’t be worthwhile just because they weren’t a Xavier or a Magneto. Everybody had their role to fill. She sighed softly. Sometimes she just wished that Remy would put a little more effort into filling his.

Bobby walked out into the crisp autumn sunshine, whistling cheerfully. In a fit of mercy, Scott had canceled the morning practice session, giving Bobby an extra couple of hours to snuggle with his wonderfully chilly wife. Ironically enough, it was the one morning that Remy had gotten up early, intending to go into the city as soon as the session was over. He’d come by and knocked on the Drake’s door on his way out, coffee in one hand and a scowl on his face for Scott having so rudely canceling practice on the one day he was planning to be on time.

Bobby walked across the drive, car keys jangling in one hand. Remy had asked him to take the Ferrari into the city, ostensibly to have it worked on, but mostly because he wanted to park it someplace secure and leave it for a while. The rumors they had been hearing—about Draxar in particular, but also less specific rumblings of mutant trouble—had convinced Remy to lower his profile. Getting rid of the car was a necessary step in that.

The car was already out, to Bobby’s surprise, parked on the edge of the drive. The day-glo paint job shone painfully bright in the sun. Cannonball was standing in front of the hood, eyes shaded as he studied it. From his stance and the tell-tale rag trailing from one hand, Bobby guessed that he was putting the finishing touches on a fresh wax job.

Bobby found himself chuckling. Sam’s infatuation with the Ferrari was a long-standing joke, for which the X-Men rode him mercilessly at times. Still, since he was the only other person beside Bobby and himself that Remy allowed to drive the car, the others couldn’t disparage him too much.

“Morning, Sam,” Bobby said, coming up beside him.

“Mornin’,” Sam replied. He glanced over at Bobby, taking note of the keys in his hand. “Ya plannin’ ta take her out?” There was a hidden note of wistfulness in his voice.

For Sam’s sake, Bobby tried to hide his lack of enthusiasm. “Just to the shop. Remy’s off doing something or other, and he asked me to take it in to the city for him.” To be perfectly honest, he would rather stay at the mansion. He’d made himself a goal of wheedling Hank out of his lab for at least two hours that day, and a trip into New York was going to severely cut into his time. However, he could hardly say no when Remy, who was juggling so much, asked him for a favor.

On a sudden whim, he tossed the keys to Sam. “You want to drive?”

Sam caught them by reflex, a grin stretching his face. “Really? Ya don’t think Gambit’ll mind? New York’s a far piece.”

“Nah.” Bobby waved him off. Actually, he didn’t think Remy would mind at all, given that the car was likely to be gone for a couple of months. The Cajun had once joked privately that he would probably just give the car to Sam someday as payment for all the hours of care he’d put into it.

The two of them set off. Bobby was pleasantly surprised by how well the younger X-Man handled the car’s racing clutch. It required at aggressive touch, but Sam seemed completely comfortable as he moved them in and out of the moderate traffic. Bobby reflected sourly that Sam was a good deal more mature than Bobby had been at his age. He suspected it might be Cable’s influence. Cable struck him as having the same kind of life philosophy Remy had, despite how different their personalities were.

The two mutants talked companionably all the way to New York, and were equally embarrassed by the time they got there by the number of women who honked at them on the highway. Bobby showed Sam the way to the garage. As they pulled into the underground structure, Bobby noted the level of security and was reasonably impressed. But considering the vehicles they could see as they pulled up to the small office, the security seemed appropriate. Bobby could just imagine what kind of havoc a skilled set of carjackers could wreak if they managed to get into the place.

Sam got out of the car, craning his neck to look past the barricades at the cars parked in the nearest row. “Would ya look at this place? It’s like walkin’ into a showroom. Lotus, Lamborghini, Ferrari...”

Bobby laughed at his excitement. “Down boy.”

Sam glanced at him sidelong. “Ya got any idea how Gambit’s payin’ foh this? Ah mean, ah’ve looked up the going price foh the car--” he waved at the Ferrari, “an’ there ain’t anything cheap about takin’ care of it, either. Parts, labor, you name it. Ya can tell just from lookin’ around here, even. Ah’ll bet it costs more ta keep a car here per week than most folks pay per month foh rent.”

Bobby kept the reaction off his face with an effort of will. Sam, you are way too observant for a country boy, he thought ruefully. Bringing you along today was probably a bad idea.

He met the younger man’s curious gaze and shrugged. “Remy’s never made a secret of the fact that he has money.”

“Ah guess. It just seems ta me that somebody that’s retired from bein’ a thief would...” His eyebrows quirked, reflecting his thoughts, “Ah don’t know... give all the money ta charity or somethin’.”

Bobby smiled at the thought. Remy actually did give a fair amount to charity, but he could hardly tell Sam that. The kid was just too smart. Plus, that wasn’t what Sam had been referring to anyway. He found his smile dimming.

“No matter what he thinks about stealing now, Remy’d never give all his money away.” And, in fact, if he somehow lost his current fortune, Bobby was certain he wouldn’t hesitate to find a way to replenish it, by whatever means presented themselves. It was something he’d puzzled out about Remy some time earlier and understood, though he couldn’t entirely agree with it.

“What makes ya say that?”

Bobby frowned, debating what he could say that wouldn’t be an intrusion into Remy’s privacy. “I guess it comes from growing up on the street. It’s hard to be any poorer than that.” Bobby shrugged. “I think Remy just wants to make sure he’ll never be in that position again.” Considering some of the things Remy had said about his childhood, Bobby couldn’t entirely blame him. Poverty was an old fear that probably wouldn’t ever go away.

“Hmm.” Sam looked down at his feet, considering. “Ah guess ah can understand that. Ah left home partly because ah didn’t want ta be a poor farmer all mah life.” He looked up at Bobby. “Ya know, ya just don’t seem like the type ta be best friends with someone like Gambit. No offense meant ta either of ya,” he hastened to add.

Bobby shook his head. “None taken.” That was one of the reasons he liked Sam. Of all the X-Men, he was perhaps the most accepting of people’s differences. Bobby didn’t know if it was because he’d been given a purer heart than the rest of them, or if it was simply the old fashioned courtesy his parents had taught him. But whatever the reason, he was probably the only person who could make such a statement to Bobby without drawing an angry response.

Bobby shrugged uncomfortably under Sam’s expectant gaze. “I guess I’m just the first person who ever really took the time to get to know him.”

Sam grinned. “Don’t ever let Storm or Rogue hear ya say that.”

Bobby couldn’t help but join him. “Well, Storm’s maybe an exception and Rogue—“ His laughter turned sardonic. “I love Rogue to death, but there are some days when I really just want to kick her.”

Sam started to laugh as well. “She’d knock ya all the way ta Brazil if ya did.”

“You notice I haven’t tried it.”

The conversation faded as the made their way into the small but plush office, where Bobby went through the standard routine of paperwork to leave the Ferrari with them. Sam occupied himself watching the television set up in one corner of the small waiting area, which appeared to be tuned to a news channel. The volume was turned way down, but that didn’t seem to perturb him.

Bobby was just finishing up when Sam sat bolt upright in his chair, his expression filled with both shock and horror. “Oh mah-- Bobby get over here!”

Alarmed, Bobby ran over to where he crouched by the TV., searching for the volume controls. “What is it?”

“Ah don’t believe it! Mystique just shot Senator Creed.”

What?” Bobby stared at the silenced television broadcast as the two employees also hurried over. As he watched, the news report obligingly replayed the event. Graydon Creed was just stepping up to the podium for what looked like a press conference when Mystique jumped out, her spray of bullets taking down the Senator and several aides standing behind him. The massacre was played out for them in utter silence, making the entire thing all the more eerie.

Bobby could only shake his head. “We’d better get home,” he told Sam, nudging the other X-Man away from the TV.

“What? Oh. Yeah.” Sam allowed Bobby to herd him away, before the two who manned the garage’s front counter could become suspicious of them for recognizing a mutant terrorist on sight. Luckily, the two workers seemed intent on the news coverage, talking animatedly among themselves, and paid little attention as Bobby picked up his copy of the paperwork and slipped quietly out the door.

Remy stared at the envelope in his hands, debating. He’d been over it twice now, searching for anything that might indicate the letter was booby trapped. As far as he could tell it was clean, which made him doubly wary. He couldn’t think of a single reason for Raven Darkholme to be contacting him through the Guild.

After another moment’s contemplation, he picked up a letter opener from his desk, carefully slit the edge of the envelope and extracted the single sheet within. The letter inside was short and written in Raven’s familiar script.


The war between mutants and humans begins today whether we want it to or not, and I intend to see to it that mutants make the first strike. I’m sure you have been hearing the same things I have, so I expect you’ll understand why it was necessary to take the first move away from the humans. I also expect you to make sure my daughter isn’t caught in the crossfire on this one. If anything happens to her, be assured that I will hunt you down and kill you.



Remy read the letter through twice, a feeling of dread congealing in his stomach. Whatever Mystique intended to do, he was certain it was too late for him to intervene. She wouldn’t have allowed the letter to reach him otherwise. He smiled grimly. Raven always had had impeccable timing. And whatever she was doing, he could be dead certain the X-Men were going to get hit by the storm of repercussions.

Galvanized by the thought, Remy shoved himself back from his desk and headed for the door. He had intended to spend the day catching up on some of his Guild responsibilities, but now he had the feeling he should get back to the mansion. He threw open the door to his office and nearly collided with Artur who was standing just outside, hand raised to knock.

“Have you heard?” Artur asked him, his agitation clear both in his voice and the fact that he dropped the honorary “Guildmaster” when addressing Remy.

The knot in Remy’s stomach tightened painfully. “Non. What’s happened?”

“It’s all over the television.” Remy stepped aside as Artur moved into the room. He went over and picked up the TV. remote, flipping quickly through channels until he settled on the one he wanted.

Remy watched the news coverage with a sense of stunned horror as the cameras once again replayed the footage of Senator Creed’s assassination. Raven hadn’t even used her powers to hide her identity when she’d done it, which was entirely unexpected. It was a declaration of sorts, that a known mutant terrorist had just targeted and killed the poster boy of the anti-mutant movement. And, unfortunately, it was just about the most inflammatory thing she could have done.

“Saints, Raven, have y’ lost y’ mind?” he muttered, and was rewarded by a puzzled look from Artur.

“Do you know her?”

Remy shrugged, deciding to skirt the issue. “We’ve crossed paths in de past.” He turned to Artur. “Y’ realize what kind o’ mess dis gon’ be?”

The other man nodded, his expression somber. “What do you want me to do?”

Remy sorted through his thoughts. He was still a little unused to people looking to him for the answers to those kinds of questions, but it wasn’t hard for him to figure out what needed to be done.

“Bring anybody who’s at risk down into de Guild complex. Obvious mutants, anybody dat would be a likely target f’ pro-human attacks. It’s gon’ get nasty out dere f’ a lil’ while.”

Artur nodded thoughtfully. “We’re going to have to do some housecleaning. Those portions of the complex haven’t been used for years.” He ran a hand through his graying hair. “The last time the Guild went underground was during World War II.”

Remy paused as the meaning of the date sank in. He hadn’t spent much time exploring the extent of the New York complex. He’d just assumed that it would be like New Orleans, where the living quarters inside the underground tunnels were always very habitable so that the thieves and their families could disappear if the Assassins decided to mount a major offensive.

“How badly out o’ date are we?” he asked with a sense of trepidation.

Artur pursed his lips. “As far as security is concerned, we’re not. That has always been kept up to par, and we completely revamped the system about five or six years ago after that band of tunnel-dwellers was massacred. None of our sensor picked up on the killers.” He shrugged, oblivious to his Guildmaster’s sudden paleness. “It’s a good thing the complex doesn’t intersect those tunnels. We could have had a very big problem.”

Artur shook his head, dismissing the topic. “We have a lot of work to do to if we want to bring the living quarters up to a reasonable standard, though. Almost everything down there is 1940’s vintage. We’ll have to check all of the plumbing, and I know some of the wiring is bad...” He looked at Remy. “How many people are we talking about? We can probably do a small portion pretty easily.”

Remy was silent for a moment as he clung desperately to his composure. Although he’d been aware of the New York Guild at the time, he hadn’t really put together the fact that the Morlocks would have been literally in their backyard. It had been a breach of courtesy not to have let the Guild know he was working in their territory, but, considering how it had turned out, he was unspeakably grateful that he hadn’t.

A chill scrabbled down his spine as the memories resurfaced. He shoved them back down into the graves in his mind, silently reciting the solemn promise he had made to himself that it would not happen again. Not ever. Not to any innocent, if he had anything to say about it.

Artur was watching him with a mixture of wariness and concern. “Guildmaster?”

Remy focused on him, his expression carefully schooled, but he knew Artur had not missed the slip. He took a deep breath.

“What would it take t’ be ready t’ bring de entire Guild t’ ground if we had to?”

Artur blanched slightly. “A lot. It would probably break us for a couple of months, at least in terms of operating assets.”

“How long would it take?”

Artur shot him an odd look. “That depends on how much you want to pay.” He paused. “And how quiet you want to be.” Then his eyes narrowed, as if he could read Remy’s thoughts.

“You aren’t honestly thinking of—“

“Oui. I am.” Remy cut him off. “I realize New York ain’ New Orleans, but de guild should’ve taken care o’ dis long ago. Dat’s what dis complex was designed for—t’ give de t’ieves an’ dere families a safe place t’ go. Now, dere’s a real possibility we gon’ need it, an’ you’re tellin’ me we can’t ‘cause nobody’s had de foresight t’ keep de place up?”

Remy found himself pacing agitatedly in front of Artur and forced himself to stop. He was surprised by how angry the lack of preparation made him, and he had a momentary flashback to Scott Summers berating him for not keeping the tanks on the Blackbird topped at all times. It was something that had happened when Remy had first joined the X-Men, but it had stayed with him. Scott had been furious that he hadn’t immediately refueled the Blackbird, despite the fact that the other plane was flyaway ready. It was something that he hadn’t understood at the time, but was now surprised to realize that he did. It might be unlikely, but people could die from something as stupidly simple as not refueling an airplane, if they suddenly needed it and it wasn’t ready. People he lived with, worked with and loved. He wasn’t about to let the same kind of shortsightedness put his guild at risk, either.

“I wan’ it done, Artur. Y’ got two weeks t’ make de complex useable and t’ bring in whatever supplies an’ furnishings y’ can.”

The older man looked like he might protest for a moment, but then he swallowed it and nodded sharply. “Yes, Guildmaster. What about cost?”

Remy met his questioning gaze evenly. “Don’ worry about cost. I’ll make sure y’ have de resources y’ need.”


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