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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 58

Scott tugged uncomfortably on his bowtie as he surveyed the Club’s late evening crowd. He absolutely hated wearing a tuxedo. The collar was always too tight and it itched intolerably.

Ororo squeezed his arm. Scott glanced over at her only to find her smiling her rare, little girl’s smile at him. He raised an eyebrow in silent question and she shrugged.

"I have not had occasion to wear a dress since we were here to meet Trish Tilby," Ororo said. With one hand she smoothed the fall of her long skirt. She was dressed in a sleeveless evening gown of pale pink, with a soft wrap draped around her shoulders. Her smile deepened. "I have missed it."

"We’re not here for the party," Scott reminded her. As second-in-command of the X-Men, Ororo was his date for the evening and they had work to do.

Her impish smile widened. "Spoilsport."

Scott chuckled despite himself. "Come on." He tugged lightly on her arm, taking them out into the throng.

They moved slowly, trying to look like part of the crowd. A waiter stopped to offer them champagne and Scott was startled to realize he recognized the young man as one of the Guild’s apprentice thieves. The man gave no sign of recognizing them, however, and as soon as they’d each taken a flute from his tray he moved on.

"There’s Rogue." Ororo nodded toward a point ahead of them.

Scott followed her gaze. He spotted Rogue easily. She stood near the center of an open area between the craps and blackjack tables, chatting animatedly with a small group of people. She glittered as she moved, the diamonds at her throat and in her hair casting sparks of rainbow-tinged fire in all directions.

Scott smiled fondly. "She’s really come into her own, hasn’t she?" he asked Ororo. Letting her marry Remy had seemed like such a bad idea at the time-not just for the horrendous personal price her choice entailed but for the path it would put her on.

"Yes." Ororo stared at Rogue, her expression thoughtful. "I must admit I was... concerned... but she seems to have found her balance. I was afraid she would not."

Scott gave her a curious look. "What do you mean?"

Ororo shrugged, her brows drawing together in a troubled frown. "She did this for Remy, to save him, and for that reason I could not argue against it." She glanced at him as if gauging his reaction to the admission. It didn’t surprise Scott. He knew she loved Remy deeply, with the same fierce loyalty the thief seemed to inspire in everyone who managed to get close to him.

Ororo let go of Scott’s arm to adjust her wrap. "Not many people can choose to live their lives for someone else and truly be happy that way," she said after a moment. "I feared what would become of them if she could not find her own life here in the Guild."

Scott nodded his understanding. Rogue seemed to have found a cause beside her husband in protecting the mutants of the Guild, and he was honestly happy for her.

Ororo took his arm once again and Scott turned them toward the center of the Club.

"Let’s find Remy and see what the CIA could possibly want with the X-Men," he said. Through Remy, the Agency had requested a meeting with the X-Men’s leadership. It made Scott nervous, but Remy didn’t seem concerned.

As they worked their way through the crowd, Scott took note of the little knots of serious conversation sprinkled throughout the room. Usually, he recognized at least one person in the group as a senior New York thief. The really funny thing was that, in a couple of cases, he was pretty sure he knew what the conversations were about. Marcus, for example, was chatting with a straight-laced sort who almost had to be one of the curators for the Smithsonian. The museum had been making cautious overtures toward the New York Guild to retrieve several artifacts that had been stolen from one of their restoration labs.

The rumor Scott had heard was that the new Guildmaster of New York was far more likely to accept a contract to return something to a museum than to remove something from it, assuming the museum had legitimate ownership. Among the thieves such things seemed to be viewed as a matter of philosophy rather than morality, which Scott found a little hard to get his head around. Still, to each their own, he figured. He certainly wasn’t in a position to judge.

They found Remy seated at one of the tables near the bar with Artur beside him. A third man Scott didn’t know lounged in a chair directly opposite Remy, his body language casual though his eyes never stopped roving the room. Scott put the man in his early forties, with thinning, sandy-colored hair and dark, puffy circles beneath his eyes. He didn’t look like a typical government agent. He was too ordinary.

All three men looked up as they approached. Unsurprisingly, their attention immediately focused on Ororo and she treated them to one of her gracious smiles.

Remy stood, his motion smooth and precise. He shook Scott’s hand then leaned over to kiss Ororo on the cheek.

Artur and the other man rose behind him. Keeping hold of Ororo’s hand, Remy stepped aside and gestured to Scott.

"Agent Dodson, meet Scott Summers and Ororo Munro of de X-Men," he said.

Scott swallowed his instinctive protest. Remy wouldn’t have given their names unless the CIA agent already knew them, and he wondered if the Professor had known just how much of an open secret his X-Men were in governmental circles.

Scott pushed the thought away as he and Ororo exchange greetings with Agent Dodson, and then the entire group took their seats.

"Thank you for agreeing to meet with me," Dodson said once the general shuffle had died down.

Scott cocked his head to the side. "I have to admit I’m curious what the CIA could possibly want with us."

"It’s not what we want." Dodson reached inside his coat and drew out a manila envelope, which he laid on the table. "It’s what we have to give you."

Scott exchanged glances with Ororo and Remy. The agent didn’t wait for their reactions. He flipped open the envelope and slid out a set of grainy photos that looked like satellite images. Turning the pictures around, he slid them across the table toward Scott.

Scott picked up the topmost picture and studied it. Beside him, Ororo spread the others out on the table. The images appeared to be of some kind of large explosion at a complex of industrial, gray-roofed buildings.

"These were taken two weeks ago," Dodson said. "This is Jiuquan, China."

"What happened?" Scott asked without looking up from his examination.

Dodson laced his fingers together on the table in front of him. "Bastion blew up the last known launch-ready vehicle capable of taking people into orbit, is what happened."

Scott looked up sharply. After destroying Four Freedoms Plaza and then Worthington Industries, Bastion had seemed content to let the world return to something close to normal. If he’d been destroying spacecraft, he’d been doing it quietly.

"How do you know it was the last one?" Ororo asked, her blue cat’s eyes reflecting the same alarm Scott felt.

Dodson gave her a humorless smile. "We’re the CIA, Ms. Munroe."

"What about Cape Canaveral?" Remy asked. "We haven’ seen any news about Bastion blowin’ up de Space Center."

"And hopefully you never will." Dodson leaned back in his chair. "There are two shuttles there and a partially complete Ares rocket-all of which are in their hangars more than a mile from the launch facility. The Air Force keeps the hangar doors open except for weather so Bastion can see that they haven’t moved." His expression soured. "There’s no physical way to get either vehicle out and transport it to the launch stand without OZT having several chances to blow it to smithereens. I don’t know if you’ve seen the crawlers they use to move those things around, but they’re slow beasts."

Dodson sat forward again. "The U.S. wants to keep its space launch capability alive. We can’t afford to be unable to reach space once Bastion is gone."

Remy nodded his understanding and Scott echoed him.

Scott looked at the photos again. "So why bring this to us?"

Agent Dodson shrugged. "We figured you’d want to know." The look he shot the three X-Men seated at the table held a wealth of unspoken meaning. "And because, unless you mutants have another trick up your sleeve like the Fantastic Four’s little construction project... I guess we’re all screwed."

Scott stared at him as a lead weight of dismay coalesced in his gut. Word of the Fantastic Four’s rocket had leaked out once clean-up crews had started working to clear the rubble from the Baxter Building site. The good that had come of it was that the Fantastic Four had suddenly become the celebrities of the hour, diverting attention from the X-Men. The bad, of course, was that it had focused world attention on the idea of going into space to take down Bastion’s satellites.

They had seen news coverage of a couple of failed attempts. Russia had launched a series of ballistic missiles at the satellite ring which had prompted Bastion to destroy missile silos in countries all over the planet. Thankfully, his methods had resulted in the missiles being buried inside their silos rather than setting off the nuclear warheads most of them carried.

The European Space Agency had actually gotten a manned rocket off the ground from its launch pad in Kourou, French Guiana. For days the news had been full of reports of the successful launch.

What had happened to the capsule it carried and the astronauts on board after that, however, no one seemed to know, but after several weeks without any change in the suppression field hopes had run dry and the story had faded away.

"No offense, Agent Dodson," Scott said quietly, laying the picture he held back down on the table, "but if we did have another plan in work, I wouldn’t tell you about it."

The agent cracked a smile at that. "I wouldn’t expect you to. Like I said, I’m here to give information." He began gathering up the photographs and putting them back into their envelope.

"Tell your bosses that we appreciate it," Scott said, keeping his expression neutral.

Dodson nodded, tucking the envelope back into his jacket. "Will do." He rose and extended his hand to Remy. "Mr. LeBeau, thank you again for arranging this meeting. It’s always a pleasure doing business with the Guild."

Remy stood, too, and shook his hand. "Likewise, Agent Dodson."

With a silent nod for Ororo, Agent Dodson turned away from the table and began making his way through the crowd toward the door. Remy watched him go for a moment then turned back to the table. He leaned his weight on his hands and regarded the three of them solemnly.

"Now what?" he asked and Scott could only shake his head.

"I don’t know, Remy. I just don’t know."

Jubilee had never considered herself much of a computer geek, but in the past few weeks she’d discovered a surprising talent within herself. All of the work she and Louis had done to investigate and understand the software in her head had paid off. Not only had she been able to rewrite that dangerous override code table in her brain but she was turning into a fairly competent programmer.

Not to mention a hacker, she thought with a mental snort. Colonel Fury hadn’t wasted any time putting her newfound abilities to work for the cause. Today she was strapped into the back seat of a specially-equipped F-18 flying combat operations just off the coast of Virginia, where OZT forces were engaged in a pitched battle with the Nimitz and Harry S. Truman carrier groups. Her job-beyond not barfing into her flight mask as the fighter twisted and rolled-was to infiltrate and disrupt the sentinels’ communication net if she could.

She wondered just how furious Logan would be if he knew where she was and what she was doing.

"How’re you doing back there, Honey?" the F-18’s pilot asked, his voice tinny from the radio distortion. The SHIELD people seemed to have adopted "Honey" as her official nickname, particularly once they realized how much she hated it.

"Just peachy," she answered with a sarcastic thumbs-up for the pilot, whose helmet had "FLASH" stenciled across it in black letters.

Flash reached up to fasten his mask across his face. "Good, ’cause we just got the signal to go in. Better hold on tight."

Jubilee’s stomach clenched and then tried to climb up her throat as he rolled the fighter over onto its back and dove straight toward the earth.

The atmosphere, she’d discovered, was a really big place. They could fly back and forth forever without intersecting the sentinels’ focused-beam communications. They had to get down close to the ground-"on the deck" the pilots called it-before she stood a decent chance of finding their transmissions.

Of course, OZT tended to shoot at them when they did that.

As if her thoughts had conjured them, bright laser bolts and tracer fire from a couple of ground-based anti-aircraft guns lit the sky around them. Their fighter shook violently from the flak as Flash maneuvered. She could just barely hear his voice over the roar of the engines, but she wasn’t tuned to the frequency he and the other pilots used to communicate with each other and the carriers.

Jubilee squeezed her eyes shut. With what had become a familiar kind of mental switch, she opened up the sentinel part of her mind. The world around her suddenly became just one of many layers of information that she could use at will. Her first action was to establish contact with the F-18’s communication and navigation system. The fighter could receive signals at a far greater distance than she could, so its systems worked as a kind of amplifier for her.

Schematics flashed to life behind her eyes-a virtual representation of all of the forces currently present in the combat theater. Jubilee tried to ignore them, though her combat systems came online automatically in response. Targeting solutions attached themselves to the myriad icons and the familiar burn filled her arms.

She concentrated on listening for the burst-like transmissions characteristic of the sentinels’ net. Like a massive, invisible spider web, the beams criss-crossed the sky. When she flew through one, she would receive the data only for as long as she was within the beam itself, so it seemed like a sudden flash of information that disappeared just as quickly as it came.

They hit a beam and the information poured into her, whiting out her awareness of the cockpit and the motion of the airplane.

"Got it," she told the pilot.

The surge of data was gone again just as fast, but it was enough. She didn’t try to interpret any meaning from what she’d gotten, but instead used it to calculated the beam’s path through the air, which she then broadcast to the fighter’s navigation system. The beam’s path would then be displayed on Flash’s panel and he would do his best to fly them along it.

"Looks like a good one," Flash told her. "Inclination’s only a couple of degrees. We can do that for as long as you want." Some of the beams speared upward into the sky on a path too steep for the fighter to follow for more than a minute.

G-forces shoved against Jubilee’s chest, making it hard to breathe as Flash rolled into a sharp turn. They came around a full 180 degrees and more then leveled out. OZT’s forces continued to fire at them. Jubilee reacquired the beam as he slid the fighter neatly into its path.

One of the first things she and Louis had worked on was breaking down her identity string and the rest of the hello packet she sent to other sentinels, in order to understand what the information meant. Once she’d figured out how to start overwriting her own code, she’d also been able to modify her hello packet data and anything else in her own transmissions. The end result was that she could identify herself as a different sentinel than what she was. And once inside OZT’s communication net, Colonel Fury had all kinds of ideas about how she could wreak havoc. They’d done a couple of practice runs already, so she was sure she could get in, but she’d never done anything with the access until now.

Earlier in the day she’d used a fake sentinel identity to query several sentinels in the Virginia coastal area. Now, armed with the IDs of a handful of sentinels that were guaranteed to be present in the current battle, she could get inside their communication net without challenge.

Something exploded close to them. The fighter bucked, throwing Jubilee against her restrants, and Flash swore. The fighter swerved out of the beam and then rolled back into it. Frightened, Jubilee wrapped her gloved hands around the harness straps and held on.

"Better hurry up, Honey," Flash called to her over the cockpit radio. "Somebody’s gotten a bead on us."

"Roger that," she answered in a voice that didn’t sound much like her own.

Forcing herself to concentrate, she opened her mind up to the sentinels’ communication beam. Information poured over her in a flood and this time she struggled to take it in, sort it, understand it well enough to navigate her way to what she wanted. It was like being on foot in the middle of an intersection of major highways, watching the cars flash by and trying to figure out how she was going to get from where she was to the top of that overpass over there without getting pancaked by the traffic.

What she needed was a general broadcast message-something that was sent to all of the sentinels in the area. OZT’s command network would send out updated data packages containing the locations of each of their assets as those positions changed to keep the sentinels from accidentally firing on them.

She had to wait nearly thirty seconds for the update, but it came and rearranged all the icons on her mental map. That wasn’t the information Jubilee was interested in, however, so she ignored it. She wanted the authentication string that told the sentinels this was valid data being sent from their own command network.

To get it she had to do a little digging into the layers of her communication protocols below what she consciously registered. Around her, the fighter rocked alarmingly.

"Any time now," Flash told her tersely.

Jubilee opened her mouth to answer him, but before she could utter a sound something slammed into the fighter, staggering them. Flash swore as several alarms started blaring in the cockpit.

"We’re hit, we’re hit," she heard him saying over the radio. The fighter started shaking violently and the rush of the air around them turned into a roar. They were still in the beam, though. She continued to receive data from OZT’s net.

Terrified, Jubilee clung to her seat harness and tried to finish building the general broadcast message she was supposed to send.

"We’re going to have to punch out, Honey." Flash’s voice echoed through her helmet speakers. "Do you remember what to do? Knees together, arms crossed over your chest."

"Wait!" she protested. "I just need a minute."

"You’ve got until the count of three," he answered. "One."

Shoving her fear away, Jubilee finished packaging the message and appended the authentication code.


All sentinels, initiate shut down sequence per maintenance directive 604.55 revision B, Jubilee sent out into the communication beam.

"Done," she told him.

"Three," Flash said. "Here we go."

Jubilee clamped her knees together and crossed her arms over her chest, grabbing hold of the harness straps, and tucked her chin as far as she could. The explosives beneath her seat went off with a bang that sent her shooting upward. She felt like she was being crushed into her seat by the force of the acceleration. The canopy shattered around her and then she was out in the slip stream with the Eastern Seaboard spread out beneath her like a wrinkled brown and green blanket. Off in the distance she could see a pale stripe of sandy beach and the blue-gray ocean beyond. She was too high up to feel like she was falling.

The fighter streaked away below her, trailing thick black smoke from one engine. A moment later she saw Flash’s ejection seat thrown upward on a thin pillar of flame from the rocket motor beneath it.

Heart pounding she tried to look upward. C’mon chute, open, she thought toward it.

A few moments later, she got her wish. Big white parachutes unfurled from the top of her seat, jerking her upward before settling into a nice, swinging descent. She saw several fighters make long, looping tracks around her position. Further out, something small exploded in a flash of orange and with a start she realized it was a sentinel. She could see more of them, hardly more than dark specs in the sky. They were all descending toward the earth feet-first as they obeyed the command to shut down, seemingly unaffected by the fighters swarming around them.

Jubilee whooped in savage glee as the fighters began launching their air-to-air missiles, destroying one sentinel after another. Tears burned in her eyes. Bastion was going to regret ever letting her go.

Remy looked up in surprise as Jean walked into his office. It was still fairly early in the evening as thieves reckoned things, but not for the mother of a new baby. Remy hadn’t seen Jean out and about this late in several months.

For the last couple of hours, he, Scott and Logan had been talking over where the resistance ought to go next, now that getting into space was out of the question.

They hadn’t gotten very far. Even though SHIELD, in cooperation with US military forces, had scored several recent victories against OZT, it was hard to overcome the despondence-the despair-that had overtaken all of them. Remy increasingly felt the temptation to pull his people back and let the Guild go dark to keep them safe. He wasn’t sure how many more lives he was willing to risk if they had no chance of truly taking OZT down.

Jean crossed the room to where the three of them were seated on the black couches. Her heat signature flared unevenly, making Remy both curious and a little apprehensive. Jean didn’t get upset easily, but whatever she was thinking about had sent her emotions into a jagged dance.

"Hi there," Scott said as she came up behind him, his tone warm and tinged with curiosity. He reached up over his shoulder and she twined her fingers with his. "Where’s Haven?" They’d named their daughter Haven Elise.

Jean shrugged. "Rogue’s watching her for me." Her tone was uncommonly solemn. She paused, her heat signature swirling brilliant and harsh before subsiding again. "I told her I was hoping to take you out for a cup of coffee and some adult conversation, but mostly I just wanted to make sure she wouldn’t happen by while the four of us are talking."

Remy’s gut tightened in instinctive reaction to her tone and he saw similar reactions in both Scott’s and Logan’s heat signatures.

He stared at her suspiciously. "Why wouldn’ y’ want Rogue around, chere?" He’d thought she and Jean were fairly close friends, but Jean’s behavior made it clear this wasn’t some sort of surprise party deception.

She turned toward him, the mottled colors of her face making it impossible for him to gauge her expression. "Actually, I’m guessing that you won’t want her around, Remy."

"Jean, what are you talking about?" Scott sounded completely mystified. Remy was as well, but his instincts were starting to scream in warning.

Logan growled low in his throat, echoing Remy’s feelings.

With an aborted sigh, Jean nodded. She let go of Scott’s hand and came around the end of the couch, but instead of taking a seat next to him she settled on the edge of the coffee table, facing the three men. She leaned forward, bracing her elbows on her knees and clasped her hands together in front of her.

"I think I know a way for us to get into space," she said abruptly.

The words went through them all like a lightning bolt. Remy straightened, his sudden flare of excitement warring with an impending sense of doom. Something in Jean’s behavior was badly off.

"What?" Scott demanded. "How?" He obviously felt the wrongness, too. His tone was harsh.

Jean didn’t seem offended. She stared at her husband, her heat signature a mix of nervousness, fear and firm resolution. "It’ll come at a price, Scott," she said, her tone filled with wordless warning.

Scott stiffened. "If you’re trying to scare me, you’re doing a good job," he answered.

She nodded. "Sinister’s tesseract can take us to the space station," she said.

Remy froze. A hard blast of terror slammed through him followed by rage as he realized where she had to be going. He immediately schooled his expression to a blank mask, but his heart began to pound.

Jean turned her head to look at him as if reading his reaction and in that instant he was certain she intended to ruin him in the name of destroying OZT. The betrayal cut deeper than he expected, like a cold knife in his chest.

Logan reared off the couch, his hands closing into fists at his sides. "Ya want ta make a deal with Sinister?" Real anger lit his signature.

Jean straightened, unintimidated. "He has reason to want mutants to get their powers back, just like the rest of us. I think we can convince him to help us."

Logan’s heat signature rippled with disgust but Scott regarded her thoughtfully.

"That’s... a really good idea, actually," Scott said after a moment. He turned to Remy. "What do you think?"

Remy clung desperately to his composure. He could not afford to let them see how badly Jean had shaken him. He cleared his throat to buy himself an extra moment, but before he could find his voice, Jean spoke.

"There’s a catch, Scott."

Scott turned back to her and Remy could imagine his frown. "What do you mean?"

She gestured vaguely in Remy’s direction. "I said it would come at a cost."

"Everything’s got a price when it comes ta Sinister," Logan injected. He paced a short track between the coffee table and the couch, his signature flickering unhappily.

Jean nodded. "More than the usual." She sighed, sounding tired. "The long and the short of it is that Sinister has some very potent blackmail material in his possession, and given the situation he will almost certainly use it to damage the X-Men as much as possible."

Scott gave her a quizzical look. "Blackmail? On who?"

Remy gathered his wits. "Me." He sent Jean a dark, scathing look. "Guess y’ got de grand tour after all, eh, chere?" He’d always suspected-always feared-what she might have seen that day inside his mind.

"Yes, I did," she answered, unperturbed. "Look, if I thought there was any other way I would never have said anything."

Her words hung awkwardly in the silence that followed. Bitterness threatened to swamp Remy. It was all going to fall apart. Jean had just kicked out the underpinnings of his life and now all he could do was try to manage the collapse.

Scott rounded on Remy. "Just what did you do?" He sounded oddly exasperated.


"Not’ing I particularly want t’ talk about," Remy grated.

Scott ran a hand through his hair. "Well, unless you’re going to tell me you’re a closet pedophile or something, I don’t quite see why I would care."

Taken aback, Remy could only stare at him. Finally, he shook his head.

Scott snorted. "I didn’t think so." He looked at Jean. "I have a hard time imagining anything that could be as bad as you’re making this sound." Despite the bold words, his voice held a note of uncertainty.

Remy looked down at his hands. "Y’ never were very big on imagination, mon ami," he said quietly.

Scott’s heat signature flickered and began to darken as the import of the words sank in. Beside him, Logan’s outline flared with harsher colors and the first stirrings of suspicion.

"How bad are we talkin’?" the Canuck demanded after a moment, his attention focused on Remy.

"It’s a train wreck," Jean answered before Remy could come up with a response. "And the only way to keep Sinister from using it against us is to put it out in the open and deal with it now."

Remy could only shake his head. "Dat’s easy f’ you t’ say."

"Better a low speed collision in our own rail yard than letting Sinister derail us at the time and place of his choosing," she shot back.

Remy barked a caustic laugh. "Nice train metaphor, chere."

"Why thank you. I worked on it all day." Her tone mimicked his.

Scott held up his hands as if to separate them. "Enough, both of you."

Remy bit back a sarcastic comment and forced himself back under control. Scott leaned his elbows on his knees and stared at the ground for a long moment.

"This is it, isn’t it?" he finally asked Remy, his tone solemn. "Whatever Sabretooth was hinting at, what nearly drove Rogue insane when she absorbed your memories...this is it, right?"

His heart pinching at the mention of Rogue, Remy nodded. He felt like he couldn’t breathe.

Logan rocked back on his heels as he regarded them. "Gambit’s always had good reason fer keepin’ his secrets," he said. Remy imagined the other man watching him from under his brows, his gaze piercing.

"I know that as well as anyone," Scott answered him with a wave of one hand. "Just look around us."

Scott shifted in his seat and turned back to Remy. "Is Jean right?" he asked plainly. There was no compromise in his tone, but, to Remy’s surprise, no condemnation either.

Remy wanted to lie to him, but he knew it was far too late for that. He’d wanted to live that day he’d fought Michael, and this was the price he paid for it.

Bobby had once asked him what he believed, what code he lived by. Love wit’ all y’ heart, protect y’ friends an’ family, an’ survive, no matter what, so long as the first two are kept safe, he’d answered the young man. It was the first truly honest thing he’d ever told Bobby, and the words still echoed. As much as it would hurt, knowing the truth would protect the X-Men from Sinister’s manipulations.

Remy had always told himself he would leave the X-Men before it ever came to that, but he didn’t have that option now.

"Oui, she’s right," he finally told Scott. He couldn’t look at Jean.

Scott blew his breath out in a long sigh and tipped his head back to stare at the ceiling. He was silent for nearly a minute, but then he straightened and turned to Remy. "Let’s put out some feelers and see if Sinister is willing to discuss cooperating with us, first. This may all be moot."

Remy stared at him, thoroughly startled by his attitude. "Would y’ really be willin’ t’ drop it if Sinister says no?"

Scott cocked his head in a way that made Remy think he was on the receiving end of a narrow stare. "I trust your judgment," he said finally, "and I trust Jean’s. If you both tell me we’re better off not knowing, I’m willing to believe you." He paused significantly. "I’d also like to believe you’re willing to trust me that much, as well, if the opposite turns out to be true."

To that, Remy had no answer.


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