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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 6

Remy held tightly to the handlebars of his bike, adrenaline sliding through him like the touch of a live wire. He forced himself to keep to a sedate pace through Manhattan’s afternoon traffic as he debated what to do about the three dark sedans that had taken up stations around him. He had a number of choices, none of which were terribly appealing.

The flat case tucked inside his coat with its precious and dangerous contents felt unnaturally heavy as it flapped against his side. Once again he’d had to steal the CD from a murder scene, and once again he had little idea who had located the disk or how. Despite that uncertainty, he was grateful that whoever had done it was unfamiliar with the business of data theft. They’d reduced the interior of the little computer shop and its occupants to ribbons, but had left an appalling amount of the sensitive information intact. With Dyson’s help, Remy had managed to download a partial copy of the decrypted disk from a protected off-site server.

Remy saw the place where the flanking sedans would make their move, and with some apprehension, decided to go along with it. He could probably outrun them on his bike—guaranteed, if he used his powers—but that was a bad idea today. The last thing he needed was to draw attention to himself with the city still reeling from Creed’s assassination that morning. He was pretty certain he knew what was coming, and though it might get unpleasant, he doubted they would be stupid enough to mess with him in any serious manner.

Just as he expected, a few blocks ahead the car beside him gunned ahead and cut sharply in front of him. The trailing car rode up behind him, effectively forcing him to pull over against the line of cars parked along the side of the street. Immediately, several men in dark suits got out of the cars. Though none were obvious about it, the men kept their hands close to the weapons holstered beneath their jackets, their expressions universally wary. Remy spread his hands obligingly, keys dangling from one finger.

“Mr. LeBeau, if you’d come with us, there’s someone who wants to talk to you.” The lead goon’s tone was very polite, but lined with familiar steel. He could afford to be polite, since his job generally included killing anyone who didn’t cooperate.

Remy grinned back at him. “A secret admirer, huh? I’m flattered.” He looked over the group of men, instinctively categorizing them. When he found the one who was at the bottom of the totem pole, he flicked his keys towards him. Fingers tightened on gun stocks as the man snagged the keys out of the air and gave Remy a questioning look.

“Make sure y’ don’ scratch de paint.” He swung his leg over the seat of the bike and walked toward the man who had addressed him, keeping his hands open and in view.

The goons traded skeptical glances, but said nothing more as they escorted Remy to the back seat of one of the cars. As he climbed in, the goon to whom he’d given his keys went over and started the bike.

Then the caravan got underway, and Remy settled himself for the ride. He occasionally caught one of his guards glancing askance at him and kept his chuckle to himself. Young and dressed in badly torn jeans, with his trademark duster showing obvious signs of wear, he hardly looked like the head of a Thieves Guild.

The left Manhattan behind, and Remy soon saw rows of warehouses to either side of the car. He refused to be intimidated. If they had in mind to dispose of him quietly out here, they would be in for a tremendously painful surprise.

Eventually, they turned toward one of the buildings. A man dressed identically to the ones escorting Remy rolled the large door aside to allow them to drive in.

The warehouse was big and empty, save for the white limousine that waited for them near the center in a pool of sunlight falling through a high skylight. As they came to a stop, the back door of the limousine opened and a man stepped out.

Remy wasn’t at all surprised to see the Kingpin. At the goons’ urging, he climbed out of the car and, after a moment’s consideration, removed his sunglasses. The Kingpin didn’t like people keeping their eyes hidden. He would consider it an insult for Remy to keep the Ray-Bans. Unfortunately, he also knew how sensitive the mutant was to light, and had deliberately chosen his parking space to put Remy at a disadvantage. It was a subtle indicator that the Kingpin was less than happy with him at the moment.

The goons stayed back as Remy walked across to where the Kingpin waited.

“Bonsoir,” he greeted the fat man courteously.

The Kingpin’s flat expression didn’t change. “I thought I advised you to stay out of this Draxar business.”

Remy gave him a wry smile. He might now be Guildmaster, but the Kingpin did not yet consider them equals. “Y’ did. I decided not t’ take y’ advice.”

The Kingpin’s eyes narrowed slightly. “I suppose that is your right, but I take exception to you getting my boys killed because of it.”

Remy couldn’t argue that one. He’d sent the disk to the Kingpin’s people because he’d been afraid of something like this happening. Still, he wasn’t the only one who had been playing the odds.

“Y’ people had de disk f’ days,” he reminded the Kingpin. “If y’ were dat concerned y’ could’ve refused de job.” Remy studied the sunglasses in his hand. “De only t’ing it would have cost y’ was de data on it.”

The other reason he’d sent Bobby to one of the Kingpin’s hackers was because he knew they’d take a copy of the data for themselves. Remy was fairly certain the Kingpin knew a good deal more about Draxar than he did, and he’d hoped that the disk might spark something that would lead him to a little better understanding of what he was dealing with. It had done exactly that, in fact, though with deadlier consequences than Remy had wanted.

The Kingpin gave Remy an appraising stare. “I suppose we have both lost, then, since the disk was destroyed.”

Remy kept his face empty of expression. That was as close to an admission he would ever hear from the Kingpin. Obviously he had seen the information, and probably knew that Remy had a copy as well. He shrugged nonchalantly. “Dat’s de way it goes sometimes, neh?”

“Indeed.” The Kingpin shifted his bulk, his demeanor suddenly becoming much more casual. “Tell me, Remy, have you ever been to Bali?”

Remy lifted an eyebrow. “White sand beaches, clear blue water, friendly native women? Oui. It’s nice if y’ like dat sort o’ t’ing.”

The Kingpin smiled. “I’ve heard it’s a paradise. I thought I might take a vacation... I was planning to leave today, as a matter of fact, but this morning’s events have given me a short reprieve.” He turned away on the tail of that statement and carefully lowered his bulk into the limousine’s back seat and closed the door. After a moment, the darkened window rolled down, revealing a slice of his face. “If you see her, be sure to give Raven my regards.”

Without waiting for a response, he signaled to his driver and the limousine pulled away. His goons took that as the signal to leave. Without another word or even a glance in Remy’s direction, they climbed into their cars and fell in behind the Kingpin.

Remy watched them go, his mind churning. The warning was clear enough. Raven’s stunt had postponed something... something that was so big even the Kingpin had decided to get out before it hit. For a moment, Remy wished heartily that the Professor was still at the mansion. It would have been a simple matter to feed the information to the X-Men through him without risking himself or the Guild.

Shaking his head in frustration, Remy walked over to where his bike had been circumspectly left for him. Somehow, he was going to have to find a way to warn Cyclops.

Dark storm clouds blew in as Remy started home, filling the sky with heavy gray clouds. The rain came only moments later—fat, cold drops that hammered into him like tiny knives. By the time he reached the mansion, Remy was exhausted, soaked to the bone and shivering so hard his teeth rattled. The storm was a good thing, he was certain, despite his own misery. The widespread heavy rains had effectively capped the budding violence in and around the major cities of the East Coast caused by Senator Creed’s assassination.

He didn’t stop to change since his mutant kinesthetic sense told him all of the other X-Men were gathered in the War Room. No doubt he had already missed out on a great deal of information and planning, but there was no help for it. Avoiding the Kingpin would have bought him more trouble than it was worth.

With a thoroughly miserable sigh, he wrapped his dripping coat more tightly about his frame and headed toward the elevators.

“Gambit, where on Earth have ya been?!” Rogue pounced on him the moment he walked into the War Room. Her imperious tone, piled on top of his physical discomfort, snapped the reins on his temper almost instantly.

“None o’ your business, girl,” he retorted and saw her jerk back in surprise, her expression darkening. He regretted it the moment he said it, but Cyclops jumped in before he could decide what to do next.

“You haven’t been answering your communicator and we have been unable to locate you with Cerebro.”

Remy dragged his attention away from the woman who glared at him in angry silence and turned toward Cyclops. He pulled his communicator from its customary position inside his jacket collar and glanced at it curiously. The power indicator, usually a tiny red glow at the center of the “X”, was dead.

He shrugged. At least that explained why no one had contacted him. “Must’ve shorted out in de rain or somet’ing.” He tossed the communicator down on the large oval table.

Cerebro, of course, had been unable to locate him because it had been instructed to do so. When Remy had first started “working” for the Professor, he’d requested a means to avoid having his whereabouts recorded by the mutant tracking device. Xavier had obliged him with a set of access privileges that allowed him to modify Cerebro’s default search parameters.

Cyclops stared at him appraisingly for a moment, but then shook his head, dismissing the subject. “All right. Just make sure you pick up another one before you go anywhere.” He expanded his gaze to take in the rest of the X-Men who were gathered around the table. “Although, until the shock of Creed’s death wears off, I’d prefer that you all stayed close to home. We don’t need to attract attention.”

The X-Men exchanges startled glances, but no one offered a protest. Remy debated with himself for one final minute, but then gave in to the overwhelming need to push the X-Men toward the real problem. He would just have to manage whatever damage resulted.

Quietly, he pulled the CD out of his coat. “I t’ink I c’n offer somet’ing here.” The X-Men focused on him with collective interest. Cyclops arched one eyebrow speculatively. Several steps behind Cyclops, Bobby favored him with a skeptical “I sure hope you know what you’re doing” look.

Remy offered Cyclops the disk. “Don’ ask me where dis came from, ‘cause I ain’ gon’ tell y’. I don’ even know exactly what’s on it. All I know is dat it’s got somet’ing t’ do wit’ why Mystique decided t’ blow her own kid’s brains out.”

Out of the corner of his eye, he caught Rogue’s expression of outrage and grimaced to himself. It was a coldly irreverent thing to say, but he needed the shock value to distract the X-Men from wondering how he’d come up with such sensitive information on Mystique.

Logan alone was unperturbed. “Mystique’s feelin’s about the Senator ain’t exactly been a secret.” He chewed on the end of an unlit cigar as he spoke. “What makes ya so sure she had another reason fer cappin’ him?”

Remy shrugged and decided to play dumb. That was the only story that would fool Wolverine. They had too many common acquaintances. “All I c’n tell y’ is what I was told, mon ami.”

Remy was often amazed by how willing Logan seemed to be to accept him as a minor player in the circles they both frequented. The Canuck was the one X-Man who had the resources to figure out just who the mutant Gambit was, and what he’d been doing for the past eleven years. Remy had expected Logan to do his homework eventually and come up with a fair chunk of the truth, but if he had, he had yet to say anything to Remy about it.

Logan crossed his arms. “How much do ya trust the source?” He nodded toward the disk.

Remy gave him a flash of his gambler’s grin. “I don’. But de information’s good, neh?”

Wolverine only grunted in response. Cyclops held out his hand, and Remy gave him the disk.

“Well, let’s see what we’ve got,” Cyclops said.

Remy closed his eyes and let the hot water of the shower pour down over his face. Numbers danced behind his eyelids as he struggled to make sense of the information he’d given the X-Men. Unfortunately the financial reports, though decrypted, had all been annotated with obscure initials that shed little light on the source or destination of the money. What alarmed him was the size of the dollar sign. The reports spanned almost three years, adding up to several billion dollars. It screamed military, and the incomplete report he’d recovered implied that the money was for some kind of technology development. All in all, it sounded like the government had some kind of new mutant control initiative in work. Remy felt like kicking himself for not paying closer attention to Draxar.

At least he’d managed to get the X-Men involved without casting too much suspicion on himself. Mystique had bought them a little time. He could only hope it would be enough.

It took a long time for the steaming hot water to drive the chill from his bones, but he eventually turned the shower off and climbed out. Intending to do nothing more than dive straight into bed, he wrapped the towel loosely around his waist in at least a pretense of modesty and walked out into the hall. He stopped short at the sight of the woman who waited for him, arms crossed and a scowl plastered on her face.

Her scowl immediately gave way to mortified surprise that shaded into anger, as if he’d purposely tried to embarrass her. Remy noted the bright flush of her cheeks and decided that he might very well have done so had he known she was there, but she’d been standing so still his mutant power hadn’t registered her.

It was an unexpected advantage. Rogue was so frightened of her own sexuality that she usually refused to admit it existed. Remy held some sympathy for her fear, but the truth was that humans were sexual creatures. No matter what her ethical or moral standpoint, it was something she’d have to deal with, sometime and in some way, before she had any hopes of maintaining a relationship. And he, of course, being the other end of said relationship, was stuck in emotional limbo until she finally did decide to deal with it. Unfortunately, their mutual frustration meant that any situation that involved a sexual subtext was almost guaranteed to blow up violently.

Steeling himself against the inevitable, Remy met Rogue’s angry green gaze. “Did y’ want t’ talk ‘bout somet’ing, chere?”

She blinked, her expression changing ever so slightly as if she had realized that he was willing to avoid the topic of sex if she was. He had to throttle a snort of sour amusement. Let’s fight about de t’ing y’ came here t’ fight about, eh, chere? he questioned her silently. Wouldn’ do t’ get distracted from de matter at hand.

Rogue spent a moment gathering her thoughts, but by the end of that moment her gaze had narrowed along with her focus. “Where were ya today?” she demanded.

Remy felt the familiar burst of anger, but grabbed hold of it before it could spiral out of his control. I’m gon’ keep m’ temper f’ at least one round o’ dis, he promised himself. It was a promise he was rarely able to keep, despite his intentions. He absolutely hated Rogue’s attitude that she had a right to know everything about where he went and what he did—past, present and future.

“I t’ink I answered dat question earlier,” he told her.

The barb struck squarely, punctuated by Rogue’s sharp indrawn breath. “Ah really hate it when ya pull this garbage, Remy. What happened ta lettin’ me into ya life, huh?” Her glare was backlit by hurt and fear. “Or was that just another empty promise? Ya think one night o’ dinner an’ dancin’ is gonna dazzle me ta the point ah don’t notice ya sneakin’ away from the mansion every chance ya get?”

The accusation hurt a lot more than Remy wanted to admit. That too-brief evening had been the first small step in the right direction in a long time. For a short time he’d truly enjoyed her company and felt the almost intoxicating joy of being able to be himself with her. To have her throw it back in his face as a cheap parlor trick meant to deceive her was a cruel knife in his heart.

“Is dat really what y’ t’ink dat night was all about?” He was aware that their voices were rising, and that pretty soon the entire house would be witness to yet another round of their very public personal life. At the moment, however, he was too hurt to care. “’Cause if it is, I don’ t’ink dere’s any point in tryin’ t’ make dis t’ing work any more.”

Rogue growled at him in wordless frustration and threw her hands up in the air. “Ah don’t know what that night was all about!” Her eyes shone with unspilled tears. “That’s the whole problem!” She bit her lip as if the pain was the only thing that maintained her composure. “Why won’t ya just tell me?”

“Why won’ y’ jus’ ask me?” he shot back immediately.

“What do ya think ah just did?!”

Remy shook his head. “No, Rogue. Y’ demanded. Y’ didn’ ask.”

She stopped dead, staring at him. He could see the thoughts churning behind her eyes, but had no idea what might be coalescing out of the mix. After a moment, she took a deep breath.

“Ya were gone foh hours, Remy. Nobody had any idea where ya were, ya wouldn’ answer ya communicator, Cerebro couldn’ find ya... Ah was terrified ya were lyin’ dead in some alley somewhere because somebody saw ya eyes an’ decided t’ get even f’ Senator Creed! Ah’m sorry if ah sounded demandin’.” Her voice softened. “Ah was jus’ worried.”

Remy stared at her, torn. He could simply accept the apology and let the whole thing go, at least until the next time this happened. It would become just one more short-lived fight and relative peace would return. Or he could push the issue, and maybe get a chance to broach the real problem. It would probably cause a lot of hurt feelings and subject him to the cold shoulder for a good long while, but that was beginning to have more appeal than taking the easy way out. At least it would be forced into the open.

“I know y’ were,” he agreed softly. “If I’d known m’ communicator was dead, I would’ve checked in.” He made a small gesture. “Dat ain’ de point.”

“What do ya mean?” She was wary rather than angry now.

Remy took a deep, steadying breath. He doubted this was going to go over very well at all. “I mean dat I really resent y’ turnin’ into a mother hen every time I step out o’ y’ direct line o’ sight. I’m a big boy, Rogue. I c’n take care o’ myself wit’out y’ help.”

Rogue stiffened, her cheeks flushing brightly with anger this time instead of embarrassment. “Well, ah’m so sorry ah bothered ta care about what happens to ya!” Eyes threatening to spill over once again, she spun on her heel and marched away from him. “An’ here ah thought X-Men were supposed ta take care o’ their own!”

Remy watched her go with a sinking sense of dread in his heart and a ball of fury in his stomach. For all his power as Guildmaster, for all his contacts among the wealthy and influential, for all the favors given and owed, and for all the secrets he kept... he was still completely unable to have a single real conversation with the woman he’d had the overwhelming misfortune to fall in love with.


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