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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 60

"No way." Bobby took two steps away from the table, hands knotted in his blond hair, then spun back to face Remy. "No way."

Scott was having a hard time catching his breath. He felt like he’d been punched in the stomach.

Then the distinctive sound of guns being drawn from their holsters shattered the stillness. Scott wasn’t sure who moved first, but in the blink of an eye Mystique and Remy were both on their feet, guns trained unerringly on each other. Scott instinctively shifted to his right, to better shield Jean and Haven.

"Let’s not do dis, Raven," Remy said, clear warning in his tone.

With a low growl, Logan took a step forward. A second handgun appeared in Remy’s left hand, its muzzle pointed at the middle of Logan’s chest. Logan paused. Remy didn’t take his eyes off Mystique, but Scott was pretty sure that, even left handed, Remy could drop Wolverine before he made it across the table. Without his powers, Logan was just as killable as the rest of them.

Cursing, Logan drove one set of claws into the table top and glared at Remy.

Mystique adjusted her grip, her finger tightening on the trigger. "So tell me," she began in a dangerous voice, "was my daughter an exception or were you planning to kill me as well?"

Pale, Rogue looked between the two of them.

Remy’s flat expression didn’t waver. "Have y’ forgotten we were supposed t’ meet in Toronto de day after?" he answered Mystique.

Her eyes narrowed. "You never showed."

"Sorry, I was busy tryin’ not t’ die."

If anything, her gaze got harder. "My lucky day, then."

Scott gathered his wits. Moving slowly, he reached over to lay a hand on Logan’s shoulder and squeezed. With a hooded glance in his direction, Logan retracted his claws and Remy slowly lowered the weapon pointed at him.

"Mystique, put the gun away, please." Scott tried to make his tone calm but firm.

The eerie eyes shifted to his face then back to Remy. Scott watched her jaw work as she struggled with her decision, but then she took her finger off the trigger and tossed the weapon down on the table with an exclamation of disgust.

Remy expelled a long, slow breath as he returned both of his weapons to their holsters. Beside him, Rogue recovered Mystique’s weapon and cleared it. She set the gun back on the table but pocketed the clip and the chambered round. Then she sat down in her chair, her gaze fixed straight ahead.

Scott looked around the room, taking stock of his team. "Everybody, take a deep breath," he advised as he took in the frightened, angry stares.

There was a shuffle, a faint, general relaxing of people’s postures.

When he was satisfied there wasn’t likely to be any more immediate violence, Scott turned to Remy.


Remy snorted. "Explain what, exactly?"

Scott’s chest tightened. "How about how you went from taking a contract to kill us to where we are now, for starters."

Shaking his head, Remy collapsed bonelessly into his chair and stared at Scott. "Sinister violated de terms of de contract, renderin’ it void as far as I’m concerned." He shrugged, a bare flicker of motion. "Essex don’ quite see it dat way, but dat’s his problem."

"Okay." Scott decided to leave the question of how Sinister viewed their agreement for another time. The confirmation that Remy considered the contract dead was enough for the moment. He had more pressing questions. "So what happened then?"

Remy gave him a reproachful stare. "Not’ing happened. I went back t’ m’ life."

"And in the mother of all coincidences you just happened to land in the X-Men?" Scott couldn’t keep the suspicious edge out of his voice.

Ororo turned to Remy, her blue eyes full of accusation. "We did not meet by accident, did we?"

Remy looked between the two of them, his expression clouding. "Non, chere," he finally answered Ororo’s question. "I heard a rumor, thought it sounded an awful lot like de X-Man Storm an’ figured I’d go see f’ myself."

Scott leaned forward. "Why?"

Remy shifted his attention to him and the haunted look came back into his eyes. He sighed. "I was lookin’ f’ a way in t’ de X-Men," he admitted softly.

Logan growled deep in his throat, making the hair on the back of Scott’s neck prickle.

"Why?" Scott repeated. His throat had gotten so tight he could hardly swallow.

Remy tipped his head back and closed his eyes. When he straightened, his expression had disappeared behind an emotionless façade. "Because," he said flatly, "Cerebro can only be hacked from de inside."

Before Scott could do more than draw an angry breath, Remy sat forward. "Don’ y’ get it, Scott? Dat computer had de most complete mutant database anywhere, except maybe Sinister’s files, an’ I was lookin’ f’ information on Sinister. Anyt’ing dat would make sense out o’ what he did. Why create de Marauders an’ den not use them? Why kill de Morlocks? An’ why me?"

The intensity in his gaze gave Scott pause. Remy didn’t seem to notice as he went on. "I swear t’ y’ dat I wasn’ plannin’ t stay. Was jus’ gon’ get de information on Sinister an’ get out. Wasn’ even gon’ give y’ m’ name."

The fervor drained out of him just as quickly as it had come and Remy slumped back into his chair. He braced one elbow on the chair’s arm and covered his eyes with his hand.

Strangely, Scott’s anger began to abate. "So why didn’t you?" he asked after a minute. "Why’d you stay?"

Remy uttered a strangled laugh. "Because de Professor said his X-Men were a family." He lowered his hand, bitterness shining from his eyes. "An’ he tol’ me I had a place f’ as long as I wanted it."

In the absolute silence that followed, Remy seemed to collect himself. His gaze went from Ororo, who looked away, to Bobby and finally to Rogue.

He levered himself to his feet. He reached out to stroke Rogue’s hair and she looked up at him, her expression fierce and her eyes wet with tears.

Remy let her go and turned to face Scott. From the inside of his lapel he pulled a small pin, which he tossed down on the table. It clattered across the polished wood, the sound unnaturally loud in the stillness, and rolled to a stop. The X-Men’s emblem glinted softly in the light.

Remy adjusted his suit jacket, looking uncomfortable. "I should go. I got work t’ do." He started to turn away then turned back, meeting Scott’s gaze. "Whatever y’ need me t’ do regardin’ Sinister, I’ll do. Jus’ let me know."

Then, with a little hitch of his shoulders, he turned and walked away.

Remy walked as fast as he could through the stone hallways without drawing undo attention to himself. His stomach heaved and twirled in a nauseating dance. It was over. Done.

Should’ve walked away years ago, he reminded himself, but the thought did nothing to ease the pain.

People greeted him as he passed, to which he would nod and mumble some kind of response before hurrying on. Bile rose in the back of his throat. He needed to get someplace private.

"Guildmaster, I have a couple of new inquiries for you to look at..." Artur began as Remy entered his office.

Remy didn’t slow. "In a minute," he told the other man. "I need t’ change." He continued across the office at full stride, ignoring the curious looks he drew in his wake. It wasn’t the greatest excuse, but it would do.

He pushed through the heavy door into the apartment he shared with Rogue. As soon as the door began to close behind him, he broke into a run. His stomach heaved and the taste of bile intensified, searing his throat.

Staggering, he made it into the bathroom and vomited into the toilet. His membership in the X-Men was officially over.

Shaking, he sank to his knees and closed his eyes, resting his forehead against the cool porcelain. He couldn’t let the Guild see this. The last thing he could afford was to give his detractors further ammunition to use against him, particularly now that he couldn’t count on the X-Men to have his back.

For a while he simply concentrated on breathing. With each inhale, he forced the muscles of his shoulders and chest to relax; with each exhale he pushed the pain down, locking it away.

When he’d regained control of himself he climbed to his feet. With a grimace he flushed the toilet and then went to splash water on his face and rinse his mouth. Then he went into the closet to change.

That proved to be harder than he expected. Rogue’s presence was everywhere. He stayed away from her side of the closet-away from the soft sweaters and sleek gowns he loved to explore and the little clutter of perfume bottles whose scents brought back too many good memories to bear.

Even choosing a tie became an exquisite form of torture. Every week when things came back from the cleaners she would go through them with him to make sure he knew where everything was. His suits he could generally tell apart by feel, but his shirts and especially his ties were too similar for that. So she would carefully hang each one up in its proper place, her voice rising and falling in a comfortable cadence as she named their colors.

He dressed as quickly as he could and got out of there. Back at the door to the apartment he paused to take a couple of breaths and then let the cool, unflappable exterior he wore as his working persona slide into place.

Straightening his shoulders, he walked back out into the office. It wasn’t even noon yet, so he opted for coffee instead of scotch and then made his way over to his desk.

"So, y’ said there were some new inquiries?" he asked Artur as he settled in his seat.

"Yes, Guildmaster," Artur answered with a nod. "Do you want me to summarize them?"

"Please." Remy took a sip from his coffee as Artur launched into a detailed accounting. Remy forced himself to pay attention and not let his thoughts wander away from Guild business toward the gaping hole inside him where the X-Men had so recently been. He’d committed his life to leading this Guild-to protecting these people to the best of his ability. He owed them his best, and he couldn’t allow his personal losses to affect that.

This was his future, the life he’d chosen, and it was all he had left.

"I can’t believe you knew and never said anything, Jean." Warren stood across the table from Scott and Jean, leaning his weight on his hands as he stared at them. He had his wings mantled, reminding Scott of a hawk. A couple of seats away, Bobby slouched in his chair, his arms crossed over his chest and his heels propped on the edge of the table while beside him Hank meticulously cleaned his glasses.

After Remy’s abrupt departure, the X-Men had slowly dispersed until only the original five remained. It seemed fitting somehow... and strange, too. None of them had been X-Men at the time of the Massacre. They’d worn the label X-Factor in those days. And though they’d been just as involved as the X-Men in efforts to save the Morlocks, they hadn’t been residents of the mansion.

They hadn’t been on Remy’s hit list.

Jean looked up at Warren, her jaw set in a stubborn expression Scott recognized. "It was privileged and he wasn’t a threat," she said.

Warren straightened. "Not a threat?"

"Warren-" Jean began heatedly.

Warren raised his hands in a gesture of surrender. "I know." He ran one hand through his hair, his expression tired. "I know."

"We’d all be dead now if it weren’t for him," Scott reminded him.

Warren threw him a dirty look. "Ironic, isn’t it?"

Scott shifted his shoulders, searching for a more comfortable position in the hard-backed chair. "To put it mildly."

After he’d gotten over the initial shock, Scott had cautiously settled into a state of pained acceptance. He had a hard time comprehending how a man could go from deliberately setting out to kill a group of people to putting absolutely everything he had on the line to protect them, but on the other hand, it epitomized everything the Professor had believed and taught.

It did make him wonder if the Professor had known what he was getting them into when he invited Remy to join the X-Men. A suspicious little voice in the back of his mind also questioned whether the Professor had perhaps scanned the man a little deeper than he’d claimed, to have offered Remy the one and only thing that could have made him stay.

But that was a question he could ask the Professor once they got him back. Right now he had to make sure his team wasn’t about to disintegrate.

Scott looked over at Bobby. "You haven’t said much."

Bobby glanced up at him. "Not much to say." He looked over at Warren. "You do realize Worthington Industries gets a pass from the Guild, don’t you? As long as the Guildmaster of New York says you’re off limits, no one is going to touch WI."

Warren crossed his arms, his expression thin. "I’d gotten that impression."

"He’s been keeping an eye on Worthington Industries ever since he joined the X-Men, I think," Bobby said. "Trying to make sure nothing bad happened that he could see coming."

Warren spread his wings, flight feathers extended and quivering. "And that’s supposed to make up for what happened?"

Bobby’s eyes narrowed. "What do you want, Warren? Remy never set out to hurt you. He took a contract because he didn’t have much choice, and the X-Men are legitimate targets. We don’t take personal offense every time someone sends a hit squad after us, do we? Especially not at the agents. If anything, we go after whoever sent them." He stared defiantly at Warren.

Flicking his wings out of the way, Warren unfolded his arms and yanked his chair out from the table, collapsing into with a grating sigh. "I get it, Bobby. I understand the man better than you think-maybe better than you do. I make decisions every day that affect a lot of people’s lives." He made a vague gesture. "A division of the company isn’t making money so we reorganize or we shut it down. Either way, people lose their livelihoods, sometimes their homes, their hopes."

His expression hardened. "I deliberately flaunted my presence at our corporate center here in New York, knowing that it could end badly-knowing that it could get some of my employees killed or cost them their jobs here. The gains-for the company as a whole and for the resistance-were worth the cost." He gave Bobby a sharp stare. "I understand when it’s not personal."

Bobby’s eyebrows arched sharply in surprise, but Warren didn’t seem to notice. He heaved a weary sigh and turned to Scott. "I just hate having to bring all this back up." Warren shot Scott a glance filled with a pain that the other doubted he’d expressed to very many people. "Every time I think it’s finally over-that I’m done with that chapter of my life-something like this happens and it all comes back again."

Jean slid her hand across the table to take his, squeezing it sympathetically, and Warren gave her a flickering smile.

Scott shifted his attention to the last member of their group. "Hank?"

The blue-furred mutant resettled his glasses on his nose and looked up. "Am I required to have an opinion?"

Scott blinked, nonplussed. "Well, no, but it seems kind of unlikely that you wouldn’t," he finally answered.

Hank flashed a faint smile before sobering once again. "I have been thinking about Remy’s mutation, actually." He folded his hands on the table in front of him. "Sinister’s solution was both immediate and effective, but quite possibly shortsighted."

That got Scott’s attention. "What do you mean?"

"Seven years ago we were only starting to map out what parts of the brain are primarily involved in controlling mutant powers. Sinister probably was ahead of us there. And, as he concluded, most mutants only have-and only need-a single control center. Some mutants do have more, particularly if they have multiple or highly complex powers."

He nodded toward Jean. "Jean has two-one that controls her telepathy and one that controls her telekinesis. They’re physically close together and highly integrated, which is reflected in the integrated nature of her powers."

Hank returned his attention to Scott. "You yourself have experienced the effect that a change in the brain-in this case the head injury you suffered when you were young-can have on mutant powers."

Scott nodded, uncertain where he was going.

"Because of the nature of your injury," Hank went on, "and because you only have a single control center regulating your mutant power, there is, unfortunately, little chance of your brain recovering that control function. Remy, however, is a very different case. It’s quite possible that his brain may someday reroute the neural pathways Sinister severed and restore his powers to their optimal level."

Scott stared at him in dismay. Then he shook his head. "Never mind. We’ll worry about that if and when it happens." They had far too much to deal with already.

Instead, he returned to their original topic. "Do you have anything you want to offer about the man as opposed to his powers?"

Hank shrugged. "Not really." He sighed heavily. "I must confess I am somewhat... affronted, personally. And embarrassed, perhaps." He looked down at his hands as he talked. "Among my colleagues I am considered one of the foremost experts in the world on mutants and mutant powers, but what good is that if the mutants who need help with their powers do not-or cannot-seek me out?" He raised his head, his blue eyes troubled. "It is difficult to hear that Sinister is more accessible than I am."

Bobby reached over to lay a hand on the other man’s shoulder. "Don’t be too hard on yourself, Blue."

Hank reached up to pat his hand, but his gaze was on Scott. "Remy is perhaps one of the most dangerous mutants we have ever encountered, and we should thank our lucky stars that Sinister didn’t really want the X-Men dead." He looked around the room. "But imagine how different things might be now if he had been able to come to us-to myself and the Professor-when he first began losing control of his powers." His gaze turned piercing. "How many more like him are out there, desperately needing help and not knowing that there are people like us who truly want to help them?"

Scott didn’t have an answer for him. If they ever managed to get their powers back, a lot of things would need to be re-examined. OZT had remade the team into something vastly different from the X-Men of old, and they would take those changes with them into the post-OZT world.

He looked around the table, suddenly struck by how little anger he saw. A year ago he would bet the X-Men would have demanded a vote, venting their pain at the situation at the easiest target. But OZT had stripped away the sense of entitlement they’d unwittingly developed-the idea that they could force a clean victory out of any situation. That they could stand for something without making hard choices, and that it was possible to wage a war without hurting people.

Scott nodded to himself. Remy had done the best he could, given his background and the situation. The results were horrendous, and the repercussions he was certain would echo through the team for a long time, but that was just how it was. They would deal with it and go on.

Remy managed to take up the rest of the day with Guild business-first with the overflowing paperwork that plagued him and then with training. Putting the apprentices through their paces was simple enough that he could keep his focus on it, and if he was a little harder on them than usual, no one found reason to comment on it.

He delayed as long as he could before heading home. After releasing the apprentices, he spent a couple of hours doing strength exercises on the rings, until his shoulders burned and every breath felt like a thousand needles stabbing into his lungs. After so many months without his powers, he was beginning to feel the effects of being a smoker. If they couldn’t stop OZT he might very well have to quit now that he couldn’t use his powers to break down the tar in his lungs.

The door to the Guildmaster’s suite had been designed not to open silently. The hinges squeaked a little and a purpose-made strip along the inner edge of the door scraped against the frame. The noises were small-designed to wake a Master thief if someone tried to enter unannounced-but enough that he doubted he could sneak inside if Rogue were awake. Still, he found himself silencing his steps and his breathing, wishing he could become invisible as well.

He knew immediately that Rogue was still awake. He could see her warm form curled up on the bed, the colors muted and muddy through the blankets. From her sounds, it was obvious she’d been crying.

She didn’t move as the door closed behind him. The latch slid into place with a click that echoed loudly in the heavy silence. Remy stared at her for a long moment. Part of him wanted to go straight to her, to crawl into bed with her and wrap her up in his arms. But he was far too uncertain how she would react to try it.

Instead he changed out of his practice gear and slipped cautiously beneath the covers on his side of the bed, leaving a distinct gap between them. He settled on his back and stared blankly into the darkness overhead, willing himself to sleep.

Rogue made a snuffling sound. "So what happens now?" she asked, her voice thick.

Remy tensed as all of the emotions he’d successfully kept at bay crashed down on him. He wanted to scream at the unfairness of it all.

Instead he tried to answer her question. There were about fifty different ways to interpret what she’d said, but he was guessing she wanted to know what her options were. He hadn’t been exaggerating when he told Scott she’d thrown her life away. She was Guild now and regardless of anything that happened with the alliance or the X-Men she would never be able to leave.

"F’ now, everyt’ing has t’ look normal," he finally said. "De strength of de alliance wit’ de X-Men has everyt’ing t’ do wit’ how it appears from de outside. I know Scott understands dat, an’ he does stoic pretty well, anyway." He paused, but Rogue didn’t say anything so he forced himself to go on.

"All dat’s doubly true when it comes t’ you an’ me. Here, in private, y’ c’n hate me as much as y’ want, but out there-" he jerked his chin in the direction of the door even though Rogue wouldn’t be able to see him in the dark. "Y’ gonna have t’ pretend nothin’s changed."

He sighed tiredly. "Even if we take Bastion down, it’s gon’ be years before y’ c’n have a divorce. De politics..." he trailed off, not trusting himself to say anything more. The political ramifications of a Guildmaster divorcing his wife would be painful and lasting.

Rogue was silent for several long moments. Then, in a rustle of blankets, she rolled over to face him and raised herself onto one elbow. Her heat signature flared with prickly spikes of anger.

"Sugah," she began, her tone harsh, "ah realize today has been a really bad day an’ all, but ah swear, if ya ever say somethin’ that stupid ta me again, ya gonna be sleepin’ on the floor."

Remy stared at her in surprise. She made a disgusted noise deep in her throat and pulled the covers out of the way so she could slide over next to him.

"Ah don’t hate ya. An’ ah certainly don’t want a divorce." With a little huff that was part irritation, part sob, she wrapped her arm around his chest and tucked her head beneath his chin.

Completely stunned, Remy folded his arms around her, feeling her skin like warm silk beneath his fingertips. He was even more confused when she dissolved into tears.

"Anna, cherie-" He held her close, stroking her hair. "Don’ cry. I hate makin’ y’ cry."

She shook her head, her hair catching in the day’s worth of beard covering his chin. "Ya were plannin’ ta kill me, Remy." She sniffed mightily. "How am ah supposed ta feel about it?"

Remy stared up at the invisible ceiling. Hearing the words hurt. The memories hurt, too. He’d spent a lot of time analyzing the X-Men for their weaknesses and figuring out how best to exploit what he found. He felt like he’d betrayed each of them, these people he’d come to care far too deeply for, and there was no way to make it right.

"I’m sorry," he breathed into her hair. "I wish I could make it all up t’ y’. Somehow."

Rogue didn’t answer immediately. Her tears faded away until there was nothing but silence broken only by an occasional sniffle.

"Ah don’t think ya owe any of us anythin’ more than an explanation," she finally said, her tone thoughtful. "Yeah, it was a bad choice ta deal with Sinister, but ya didn’t really have any good choices. Not wantin’ ta nuke the world is a pretty overwhelmin’ reason f’ dancin’ with that devil."

The acceptance in her voice lit a warm little flame somewhere deep inside him. "Then y’ not mad at me?"

He felt her smile against his chest. "No, ah’m not mad at ya." She sighed softly, sobering. "It hurts-knowin’ all this-but ah don’t think there’s anythin’ but time that can fix it." She paused. "It doesn’t change the fact that ah love ya, an’ that this is where ah belong."

Remy squeezed her tight as the meaning of the words sank in. Relief left him feeling dizzy. He could survive this. No matter what else happened, Rogue hadn’t turned her back on him.

He knotted his fingers in the hair at the back of her neck and kissed her. "I love y’ too."

A deep, warm silence descended on them. Remy slowly relaxed, marveling at the sudden shift in the laws of the universe. Or his universe, anyway.

"Ya broke into the mansion back then, didn’t ya?" Rogue asked suddenly.

Startled and a little nervous, Remy forced his voice to function. "Oui, chere," he admitted. "Had t’ get de layout right."

She made a curious noise. "How did ya keep Logan from smellin’ ya?"

He shrugged. "Sabotaged de drainage pipes so they’d back up an’ dump sewage into the house."

Rogue pushed herself off him in a splutter of outrage. "That was you?" Cold air invaded the space where she’d been, raising goosebumps across his chest. "Do ya have any idea how nasty that was ta clean up?" She sat back on her heels, hands on her hips and stared at him.

Remy found himself smirking at her reaction. "It kept Logan out o’ de house didn’ it?"

Rogue snorted and smacked him lightly on the chest. "Ah can’t believe that was you. You are so gonna make that up ta me, mistuh." She pointed an accusing finger at his nose.

Grinning, Remy caught her hand and used it to pull her down beside him once again. "C’mere, chere." She snuggled down against him as he tucked the covers around her shoulders. "I’ll make it up to y’ any way y’ like."

She laughed. "Well, ah do have a list..."


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