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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 8

Remy slid out of the open grate behind Marcus, balancing carefully on the slim ledge that ran around the outside of the building as he replaced the grille and tightened the heavy screws that held it in place. The skyscraper housed the corporate headquarters of a large securities company. Their vault had been the target of the two thieves.

Remy had taken Marcus with him on the job for two reasons. The first was to evaluate his skills. Everything he knew about the man was by reputation. He hadn’t actually seen him at work, and wanted to get a feel for his skills and weaknesses first hand. The second was that the Guild was quickly growing cash poor as Artur carried out his instructions to revamp the housing area of the complex, and someone needed to turn over a couple of quick, lucrative jobs to make up the difference. Remy might have been able to siphon sufficient funds from his personal finances, but that was forbidden. It created too many possible paths by which government agencies could locate the Guild.

In silent accord, the two men made their way back to the roof of the building, where they paused to repack their gear. Remy was thoroughly pleased with the entire exercise. Marcus was as good as his reputation purported, with the result that they had raided the corporate vault for a healthy chunk of negotiable bearer bonds and gotten out again without incident. And unless someone inventoried the vault’s contents, it was unlikely that anyone would discover the theft for quite some time.

Remy had just slung the bag with his gear in it over one shoulder when his spatial sense went wild. Something came screaming down out of the sky at him, too fast for him to react. Too slowly, he dove to the side, and the object slammed into him with enough force to knock the breath from his lungs. He found himself lying on his back on the rough surface of the rooftop, staring up into Rogue’s furious eyes. Her gloved hands pinned his arms to the ground and the knee planted in his chest made it difficult to breathe.

Marcus crouched a short ways away, poised but unmoving. In the back of his mind, Remy was pleased by his reaction. Marcus was ready to jump in any direction, but was waiting until he knew more about the threat before he acted. However, any pleasure Remy felt from Marcus’ reaction was lost in the cold, sinking horror of knowing Rogue had followed him. Of all the times that she could have decided to actually find out what he did with himself when he was away from her, this was just about the worst she could have picked. And now Remy had an awful lot of decisions to make in very short order about what to tell her.

"’Lo, chere,” Remy gave her his most confident grin. No matter what happened, he could not afford to act guilty.

"Don’t ya dare ’chere’ me, Gambit!" she snarled. "Ya got no right ta call me that. Not evah again, ya hear? Ya lied ta me!" Remy saw the first glimmer of tears as her fingers dug painfully into his forearms.

Marcus’ expression was almost comically puzzled. Remy supposed that was hardly a surprise. Most men didn’t get attacked by flying mutants intent on starting a lovers’ quarrel. However, it was probably enough to reassure the thief that his Guildmaster wasn’t in mortal danger. Remy flashed him a hand sign that meant, "Go".

Marcus frowned but began to move away. Rogue’s head jerked up as he did so, her gaze focusing unerringly on the thief who was now poised on the lip of the low retaining wall that ran around the edge of the roof.

"Y’all better just stop right there," she told him in a tone as cold as her glare.

Marcus’ gaze flickered to Remy, who repeated the instruction to leave. He blinked once and then his expression quirked with a wry humor that Remy hadn’t known he possessed.

Marcus bowed lightly. "As much as I’d like to stay and watch, I really can’t. Besides, this looks like a private conversation." Turning, he dove headfirst off the roof.

Rogue uttered a small gasp of surprise and almost went after him, but she caught herself just before she released her vise-like hold on Remy. She turned her glare on the Cajun.

"Ah’m guessin’ he ain’t gonna go ’splat’, right?"

Remy could hear the faint whine as Marcus’ line played out. "Right, chere."

Her lips thinned. "Who is he?" she demanded.

Remy forced himself to meet her gaze. If he hadn’t already made the decision to start showing her some things, he probably would have stonewalled her completely, taking the risk that she wouldn’t do anything that might get him kicked off the team. But now he realized he wanted to tell her the truth. He just had to consider how much.

One step at a time, he told himself. Let’s see how she does wit’ de first answer.

"He’s a t’ief, chere. Jus’ someone I know."

Rogue seemed somewhat mollified by the admission, but the anger in her eyes hadn’t changed. "What did ya steal?"

Remy shrugged as best he could in her grip. "Why don’ y’ take a look f’ y’self." His bag with a portion of the bearer bonds had been slung over his shoulder and now lay on the ground beside him.

Rogue eyed him distrustfully, but looked away long enough to note the position of the bag. Remy could see her thinking through her options. To open the bag and look inside would require at least one hand, which meant she would have to let go of him. But to do so from this position would leave her open to an attack at close range, something he’d been able to trick her into doing on several occasions in the Danger Room.

In one fluid motion, she released him and rose to her feet, then stepped back and crossed her arms. The action reminded him of Raven, oddly enough, and as he would have with the shapeshifting terrorist, he stood and carefully tossed her the bag. Rogue caught it neatly and flipped back the top flap to rifle through the bonds. After a moment, her fingers stilled.

"How long?" She indicated the bag and its contents. "How long have ya been doin’ this, Remy? Why did ya lie ta me?" She made a helpless gesture.

"I didn’ lie to y’," he answered, holding up a hand to forestall her as her eyes narrowed accusingly. "At de time I said it, it was de trut’."

She blinked rapidly. "What? Ya want me ta believe ya just all of a sudden today decided ta go back ta stealin’?"

The derision in her face and voice made Remy angry. "Oui, chere. I do wan’ y’ t’ believe dat," he answered, his tone mimicking hers. He spun on his heel and stalked to the edge of the roof a few feet away to look down over the city.

"Why should ah?" The question was as much plaintive as it was angry and made Remy pause. There was a note of yearning in her voice that he didn’t remember hearing before, as if she were in some way begging him to give her a reason rather than daring him to prove he had one.

Remy took a deep breath of fresh air to ward of the queasy feeling in his stomach. "Because I jus’ violated de one condition Professor Xavier put on me stayin’ wit’ de X-Men, chere. I wouldn’ do dat wit’out good reason."

Rogue was silent and after a while Remy turned to face her. The moonlight lit her stripe with silver, leaving the rest of her face in shadow.

"What do ya mean?" she finally asked. "What condition?"

Wanting to be able to see her face, Remy closed the distance between them. "No stealin’ t’ings f’ deir monetary value," he quoted to her. That was the promise Xavier had extracted from him. The Professor didn’t mind if Remy made a profit off of the things he did that benefited mutants, and in fact had understood that Remy had to do so in order to maintain his reputation. But he had drawn a hard line on the concept of taking something away from someone else simply because it would make Remy, or anyone else for that matter, wealthier. Remy might be able to argue that what he was doing was for the protection of the Guild and the mutants in it, but that was a rather fine line. The Guild could probably manage without the added input-- he just wasn’t willing to take that risk.

Remy watched the wheels turning behind Rogue’s eyes and wondered what she was thinking. She didn’t offer him any insight when she asked, "So why did ya do it?" Her expression was closed and the emotions that were usually so easily read on her face were carefully guarded.

Remy paused, uncertain how to proceed. They had just about reached the limit of what he was willing to tell her. Finally, he shook his head. "I can’ tell y’ dat."

Her eyes narrowed with renewed skepticism, accentuated by anger. "Ya mean ya won’t," she corrected him flatly.

He was forced to concede the point. "All right. Won’." He was amazed by her reactions. Yes, she was angry, but this was not the emotional, undisciplined tantrum-throwing child-woman he usually found himself dealing with. He wasn’t quite certain why, except that this was the first time he hadn’t tried to evade her questions.

I’m gon’ shoot myself if I could’ve avoided all dis trouble jus’ by tellin’ her ’no’ instead o’ refusin’ t’ say anyt’ing. As driven as she is, I always figured she’d never give up once she knew which questions I couldn’ afford t’ answer.

Rogue cocked her head and stared at him. "So what you’re tellin’ me is that ya’ve got a good reason foh stealin’ all this—" she waved the bag in her hand, "but ya won’t tell me what it is."

He nodded cautiously. "Oui... Y’ willin’ t’ trust me on dis one, chere?"

The look she gave him was brimming with sarcasm. "Trust ya? Sugah, ah’m beginnin’ ta get the feelin’ ah don’t even know ya."

Remy was suddenly overcome with the urge to laugh. She had hit the root of the problem exactly, even if she didn’t realize it. He managed to stifle his laughter, but was grinning broadly as he stuck out his hand. "Remy LeBeau, chere. Professional t’ief an’ occasional hero. Nice t’ meet y’."

Rogue stared at him, her mouth working soundlessly. He watched the progression of emotions on her face, and was relieved to see her expression settle into something that resembled acceptance.

He was downright shocked when she reached out and shook his hand, a light of amusement dawning in her eyes.

"Ah gotta tell ya, sugah... Ah don’t date thieves."

Keeping hold of her hand, Remy drew her closer. "We could have a problem, den,” he murmured. He knew immediately that he was playing with fire, and the desire that flared to life in her eyes confirmed it.

She refused to be distracted, however. "What’s the money foh, Remy?" she asked softly as her form molded itself against him and her deep green gaze dove into his own.

Remy struggled to consider his options objectively. He had told her everything he thought was safe to reveal here and now, but the piercing intensity of her stare made him very aware of how much was hanging on his answer. For a moment, he wanted to simply sit down and explain everything to her, but the layers of misinformation were deep and the thought of peeling too much away too quickly left him cold and shaken. But still, she had taken the conversation well so far, so perhaps a little more would be all right.

"It’s t’ help mutants, chere," he admitted. Her eyebrows lifted in surprise as he continued, "De world’s gettin’ ugly an’ not everybody dat’s a mutant’s got de power t’ defend demselves. Or a big mansion an’ a bunch o’ alien gizmos t’ give dem a safe place t’ wait out de storm, either."

Wide-eyed, Rogue broke away from him and stepped back. "Ah... ah had no idea. Ah’m sorry." She turned away, her eyes downcast, but after a moment looked back up at him. "But if you’re doin’ mutant underground stuff, why steal the money? The Professor’s always funded that kind a thing."

Remy looked out over the city. "Ain’ Xavier’s underground, an’ Scott’s controllin’ de Professor’s money now. I don’ t’ink he’d approve, non?"

Rogue gave him a troubled frown. "Why not?"

Unhappily, Remy shook his head and didn’t answer. To try to explain that would give away far more than he was willing to right now.

Rogue watched him for a moment longer, her gaze narrowing. But all she did was sigh softly and turn so that she could sit down on the low retaining wall. She stared at her feet while the evening breeze stirred her hair.

"All right, sugah. Ah won’t ask any more."

"T’ank y’, chere."

She looked up. Her face lit with a small smile as their eyes locked. "Remy LeBeau, what ever am ah going ta do with ya?"

Remy grinned in reply. "I have a list," he suggested.

She blushed and looked away. Not wanting to push too hard, Remy picked up his equipment bag and slung it over his shoulder once again. Without quite meeting his eyes, Rogue silently offered him his thief’s satchel with its valuable contents. He settled that over his shoulders as well and then walked over to where his line lay. He picked it up and attached it to the harness he wore. Checking the connections and the tension on the line, he made his way over to the roof’s edge and stepped up on the wall.

"I’ll see y’ back at de mansion, neh?"

She nodded. "Be careful, sugah."

"Never." Smiling, Remy stepped off the edge and plummeted into the night.

Bobby wandered through the mansion, coffee in hand, as he searched for the rest of the X-Men. It was nearly noon, but he had been out very late the previous evening, trying to track down a rumor of a new Draxar location in the New York area. The one that Remy had broken into more than six months earlier had been abandoned and the facility stripped. The skeletal structure that remained gave little indication of the place’s intended function.

The sound of cheerful voices drew Bobby toward the back of the house. He walked up behind Scott who was leaning against the back door frame, his relaxed posture at odds with the sense of repressed excitement that radiated from him. Bobby gave him a quizzical look, but then dropped the train of thought as Diedre came over to give him a welcoming kiss.

A number of the X-Men were out on the patio sharing an impromptu picnic lunch in the crisp fall sunshine. The rain had finally let up and though the ground was still soggy, the air was brisk and the sun uncommonly warm for the season. Out on the basketball court, Bobby was surprised to see Gambit and Rogue engaged in a boisterous but friendly-looking game of one-on-one. They seemed to be enjoying themselves, and the game appeared to involve almost as much flirting as it did basketball.

"Now there’s an unusual sight," Bobby commented with a nod toward the two.

Scott uttered a snort of sour amusement, but didn’t comment. After a moment, Bobby looked over at him. Scott was always hard to read, but his senses were telling him that there was something not quite right with their usually stoic field leader.

"Are you o.k., Scott?" he asked after a moment.

Scott continued to watch Remy and Rogue for another moment then dragged his attention away and focused on Bobby. The young thief had the impression that he was having trouble keeping his mind in the here-and-now.

"I’m fine," he answered, then smiled unexpectedly. "Am I acting strange?"

Bobby tried to keep his expression under control. "Yeah, a little," he admitted.

Scott looked back out over the mansion grounds. He was still smiling, though with an oddly reflective quality. "I guess I’m still in shock. I’m sure it’ll pass. Then I’ll probably be terrified."

Bobby squinted at him. "I think I must have woken up in the Twilight Zone. Gambit and Rogue are getting along and Scott is talking about his feelings. Did I miss something?"

Diedre giggled and squeezed his hand. "You did. Jean is pregnant."

Bobby blinked in surprise, then grinned and clapped Scott on the shoulder. "Wow. Congratulations!" He looked around. "Where is Jean?"

Scott shrugged lightly. "Not feeling well. She went to lie down."

Diedre nodded. "Ororo and I were about to go see how she’s doing. We’re just waiting for Rogue."

Bobby followed her gaze back to the basketball court, where Rogue was unsuccessfully trying to get around the man guarding her. After a bit more maneuvering, Rogue found her opportunity and dodged around Gambit to make her shot. Bobby could tell immediately that she’d caught him off guard and even his reflexes couldn’t make up the difference. The ball sailed neatly into the net and Rogue raised both arms over her head, claiming victory.

The two walked off the court together and approached the patio. To Bobby’s eye, there still appeared to be some tension between the couple, but it had lost its ugly edge. Rogue went to join Ororo with a grin while Remy endured the obligatory round of teasing for letting himself get beaten by the Mississippi Marauder. After a moment, Diedre gave Bobby a parting smile and then joined the other women as the three of them set off toward the boathouse.

Bobby wandered over to take a seat by Hank who had a premium spot by the food, and began building himself a sandwich. Scott drifted over as well, though he remained standing.

"You two seem to be getting along today," he told Remy with a nod toward the retreating figure of Rogue.

Remy gave him a sidelong glance. "Gee, t’anks."

Bobby grinned. "You’re welcome."

Remy made a disgusted noise and Hank laughed.

"Seriously, did you guys work something out?" Bobby persisted.

Remy met his gaze, his expression strangely whimsical. "Oui. I asked her t’ marry me an’ she said yes. We eloped last night."

Bobby’s jaw dropped. Beside him, Hank stared at Remy, his blue eyes huge. They continued to stare at him, speechless, as he levered himself to his feet and picked up his empty plate.

"Bobby?" asked Remy.



Laughing, Remy retreated into the house as a storm of snowballs pounded the area around the door.

When he hit the hallway, Remy broke into a run. His footsteps echoed on the stone floor, stirring up little clouds of dust as he raced through the Guild complex toward the medical area. The small hospital had been at the top of his list for things to refurbish, so he was pleased when he pushed open the doors to be confronted with a very modern-looking facility. The reception desk was not staffed, obviously, but a young thief stood in front of it and pointed down one of the nearby hallways when Remy looked at him. Remy turned that way, following the motion that his kinesthetic sense detected. His powers led him to one of the intensive care rooms, where he found a group of people gathered just outside the door. Most of them were thieves and leaders within the close knit community. All of them wore expressions of anger and helplessness.

"How is he?" Remy demanded as soon as he spied Artur.

Artur shook his head. "The doctor can tell you better than I can, Guildmaster. He’s inside." He nodded toward the door.

Remy brushed by him and opened the door. Inside was a single bed with a small, bandaged form lying on it. Even from the doorway, Remy could see the scrapes and bruises that covered the lavender skin where it was exposed. A man and a woman stood beside the boy’s head, obviously the parents. They watched with ill-concealed terror as the doctor adjusted the I.V. in the small arm.

They both looked up as Remy entered, and Remy was torn apart by the desperate plea in the father’s eyes.

"Guildmaster." He glanced back at the still form on the bed, his expression ashen. "Thank you for coming."

Remy nodded as he crossed the room, unable to speak through the tightness in his throat. He stared down at the little boy, perhaps seven or eight years old and an obvious mutant with lavender skin and a shock of wiry, purple hair. His name was Jeremiah, though his family and friends all called him Miah, and he loved volcanoes. Of all the things Artur had told Remy when he called, those were two details that stuck with him.

Miah had been walking home from school when he was jumped by a group of F.O.H boys from the neighborhood where the family lived. A part of Remy wanted to rant and rave at the parents for not moving into the Guild complex. He had already blasted Artur for it over the phone, but the unfortunate truth was that the family had chosen not to leave when given the opportunity, and Artur had as much as he could handle with those who did want to move into the underground complex. It was an unfortunate combination of circumstance and poor decisions that might very well cost one little boy his life.

"How is he?" Remy finally asked as the doctor finished his examination.

The man split his gaze between Remy and the boy’s parents. "He’s stable, Guildmaster. That’s all I can say for now." The doctor extended his hand. "We haven’t met. I’m Dr. Lancaster."

Remy accepted the handshake. Lancaster was a familiar name, a member of the clans who was recognized for his valuable contributions to the health and safety of the Guild. Remy wasn’t the least surprised that Artur had sent for the best doctor in the Guild for Miah.

"Where do y’ practice?" Remy asked curiously.

"In the emergency room at Our Mother Of Mercy."

Remy raised an eyebrow. O-MOM was located in the heart of the Bronx and one of the toughest hospitals in the city. It spoke well of Dr. Lancaster’s dedication to his profession. Remy knew perfectly well that he was good enough to have taken a supervisory position at any of a number of nicer facilities.

Remy looked around the room. "Is dere anyt’ing else y’ need?"

Dr. Lancaster shook his head. "Nothing that isn’t already on its way. Thank you."

Remy looked back at the parents. "I’m gon’ have y’ t’ings moved down into the complex," he told them. "Dat way you’ll be safe an’ you’ll be close t’ de Med Center."

Miah’s father nodded jerkily. "I don’t understand how this could have happened..."

Remy bit his tongue. He’d been beaten plenty as a kid, when the gangs that roamed New Orleans caught up with him. Sometimes there was a reason, other times it was just because they were bigger than he was and they wanted to. The only answer he had for the bewildered parents was that children could be just as vicious as adults and they were fools if they thought the world outside the Guild was a safe one.

Remy closed his eyes briefly as he placed a hand on the man’s shoulder. "I can’ tell y’ de answer t’ dat," Least, not wit’out makin’ y’ hurt more dan y’ already are, "But I promise I’ll do everyt’ing I can t’ make sure it don’ happen again."

The man nodded wordlessly, and his wife looked up at Remy with a tiny flicker of life in her red-rimmed eyes.

Remy left them then to rejoin the thieves who waited outside.

"What are we going to do about the F.O.H. bullies who did this?" One demanded as soon as the door had closed behind Remy. His name was Thomas O’Shane. His Irish lineage was as evident from his temperament as his flame orange hair. He was a good thief despite being "high-strung", as Artur had once described him, and his loyalty to the welfare of the Guild was unquestioned.

"Not’ing," Remy told him succinctly and was met by a murmur of angry response from the gathered men.

"What do you mean, ’nothing’?!" Thomas waved wildly toward Miah’s door. "That boy’s one of our own! We can’t just sit by and let—"

"Enough, T’ief!" Remy’s bark cut through the man’s anger, silencing him. Had he been paying attention, Remy would have been horrified by how much he sounded like Cyclops, but he was focused completely on the men surrounding him.

"If y’ go after dese boys now, y’d be lookin’ f’ revenge, but what y’d get is a race war dat could kill us all. We need t’ make sure we c’n protect everyone in de Guild dat needs it before we go startin’ any kind o’ violence. Ot’erwise de backlash could come back on y’ family, y’ friends, an’ a lot of ot’er people y’ swore an oath t’ support an’ protect. Understood?" Remy was surprised by his own vehemence, and the other thieves stared at him in silence.

Slowly, Thomas nodded. "Yes, Guildmaster." The anger was undimmed in his eyes, but Remy was hopeful that he had been able to remind the other man of his primary obligation which was to his Guild, not to his personal desire for revenge.

Remy breathed a tired sigh. "Good." He had a feeling the violence level in the city was only going to get worse. He had spent too many years battling the assassins in New Orleans to ever want to get his Guild involved in a war with the humans. The killing would never end until one side or the other was completely destroyed.


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