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"Taking Prisoners"

Taking Prisoners

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

(This story is in progress.)

Disclaimer: The X-Men characters, the New Orlean's Theives and Assassin's Guilds, and all other recognizable characters are copyright to Marvel Entertainment Group. This work of FanFiction is not meant to impinge on that copyright or defame Marvel Comics or the X-Men and related characters in any way.
Copyright: This work of FanFiction is the intellectual property of K-NICE and her IRL persona. No copying, distributing or editing of this material is permitted without the express permission of the creator, K-Nice, under United States copyright law.
K-Nice, 1999

Taking Prisoners

Part 5

From Nevada to Oregon to Washington, they avoided the interstate and hugged minor highways. After a short pause to ditch the trailer just outside of Reno, the small cadre of professionals moved on toward Seattle in the large green truck. Buck-Buck apparently liked Country music. And not just any country music, but Merle Haggert and Hank Williams in their prime, according to his tape and CD collection. The radio presets indicated he believed the more the twang the better. At least one slide guitar solo per song was a minimum requirement before something could be considered music.

Excepting, of course, his secret vice. Remy lightly pounded his head into the side of the cab as Rogue sang along to the 29th rendition of "Hit Me Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears. Remy was tempted to oblige her.

When Gambit and Rogue caught up with Raven and Irene for a second time, Raven had sent them straight to the back seat. It had been a little disconcerting to hear that Minnesota twang coming from what he knew was Mystique somewhere inside the 6' plus blond. She refused to let him drive, even if the shift didn't keep her from looking like a rung out sponge. He didn't have a CDL license and Rogue couldn't absorb Buck's skills from her mother, so Raven was stuck at the wheel.

When the CD began to cycle again, Rogue finally protested. "Momma, doesn't he have any Patsy Cline?"

Raven weighed her overwhelming hatred of Country music with her inborn antipathy for teeny-boppers. "Fine."

Remy smiled as the first strains of "Crazy" wafted back from the front of the cab. Rogue rose from the floor to stretch. She sat on the bench/bed, sliding to the far end away from Remy. Putting her feet up and resting her head back against the wall, she looked at his lanky body through lash veiled eyes.

"So, what's in Seattle?" She watched him watch her, captivated by his eyes.

He swung his body around so he could face her. "I've got a place out there."

"Oh." Rogue couldn't think of anything else to say, so they sat in silence as they trucked around Salem. It was late afternoon, but their nocturnal excursion had left them far too wired to sleep. As the day progressed, however, exhaustion set in. Rogue watched Irene drift off to sleep and contemplated offering her the bed to lie down on. She looked so peaceful, however, that Rogue resisted the urge to wake her, even for the sake of a more comfortable resting place. Rogue watched the road slide under the hood, her mind falling asleep as the driving lulled her. How her mother was managing to stay awake was beyond her, until she heard the grating strains of "Stand by Your Man" belting out from the speakers. Rogue was snapped back into awareness when they passed the sign welcoming them to Washington State.

Her mind went right back to her last conscious thoughts and she started the conversation anew, as if it had just ended. "I thought you were from New Orleans?" She might have been sleepy, but Raven had breed suspicion into her bones.

Remy stiffened by a fraction, then drew his body into a knot, pressing his back against the wall. "I was from N'awlins. But not no more." He was quiet for several seconds and then he whispered, "I'm not from anywhere anymore."

They retreated back into silence, letting the minutes and miles slip by as they wrapped themselves in thoughts of family and home. Raven watched them through the truck's rear view, plowing up the highway with a satisfied smile on her face and a worry-filled gleam in her eye.

Darkness came again, ushering them into the metro Seattle area. Raiding another truck stop yielded an innocuous looking Mercury Topaz. Rogue was too exhausted to hide the truck, so Remy stripped the plates and filed the serial numbers off the engine. It wasn't perfect, but it was a fair delaying tactic. They had no choice--they couldn't drive the truck through downtown Seattle--so they had to make do.

Remy took the wheel, sliding though evening traffic with a drowsy ease. As they passed the business district and began to enter a lower class neighborhood, Irene's concerns grew. She leaned forward into the front passenger seat, and spoke to the now female shapeshifter in an undertone. "I don't know Raven, Can we take a car like this into this boy's neighborhood?"

"Don' worra 'bout it. The RowDogs will probably steal it before we turn the engine off." Remy managed to turn full around and keep the car in the proper lane. He did get rather cozy with a parked car, but he turned his head back before disaster had a chance to strike.

Irene's eyes were as blank as they were blind, yet she raised them to stare unfocused in the direction of his voice. "Ah, and this is a good thing?" Raven raised her heavy head to watch the exchange. Irene was upset, which was understandable with the events of the past few hours bearing down on them, but it was not prudent to take that discomfort out on the hired help, especially when he was all that stood between them and being hauled back to the Center by talking, walking tin-cans.

Eyes on the road as he made a sharp turn, Remy smiled into the rearview mirror. "Sure. No evidence."

Rogue giggled, her humor heightened by two days without any rest. "I take it you've done this before." Remy just smiled and waggled his eyebrows.

They come to a stop in front a dilapidated building that screamed crack house. Raven wished fervently for a gun or even the strength for hand to hand combat.

Remy got out, moving with the lazy assurance of some suburbanite pulling into their cul-de-sac and walking up their driveway. He didn't hesitate, didn't look back, so the Sisterhood had little choice than to follow him down the alley beside the crack house.

Forming the other side of the alley was another apparently abandoned building. The facade had been boarded up from the first to the fifth floor. Raven was thus surprised at the intact steel door Remy lead them to.

Taking a key from around his neck, Remy unlocked the door. Rogue looked up and down the alley as he cracked the door about a quarter inch and disabled the booby trapped alarm from the hinge. "Nice security system." It was nearly fool-proof, since it was nearly impossible not to trip an alarm with that small a window of oppurtunity.

"Thanks. We had some trouble with junkies trying the door. One of 'em got all the way upstairs." Remy shivered as if chilled by the cool Seattle night.

Raven stopped just inside the entry way. "Who's 'we'?"

Remy was working on another booby trap, this one on the first stair leading to the upper floors. He turned his head, a confused look dominating his features. "Huh?"

"Never mind." It was hard to imagine that 'we' wasn't whoever the dirty thief planned to sell them out too. It was even harder to figure out what to do about paying him if he had back up. If he wasn't alone, Raven needed to rethink her plans. And she would, just as soon as she got some real sleep.

They trudged up three flights of stairs, exhaustion making their feet lead. Remy hushed them as they reached the fourth floor. It wasn't really necessary, since the only conversation going on was between Raven's eyes and the back of his head.

"Yo, 'Ro?" He stood perfectly still, his arms slightly raised away from his body.

"Hey, come on up." The disembodied voice was definitely female but beyond that, Raven could only discern a complete blasť. A completely crafted and utterly false blasť.

Remy waited until he heard five of the six locks clicking off. Taking a key from his boot, he unlocked the last and stood back for several seconds. He then approached again, opening the door and walking through with the Sisterhood right behind him. He felt a rush of air and a strangled yelp. Not even looking back, he faced his partner. "'Ro, its cool. They're with me." He ambled into the kitchen and headed straight for the fridge.

Raven couldn't move and from the struggling pants of her daughter, she could tell Rogue was also incapacitated. This was exactly what she was concerned about. The thief had friends and they were nasty.

Actually, so far "they" was a tall, slim black woman with shock white hair in a spiky pixie cut. She was also carrying semi-automatic weapon. Raven watched as Remy nonchalantly pulled a beer from the refrigerator and leaned against the kitchen table. He flicked the top off, sending it into the sink with a shower of pink sparks, tilted the bottle to his mouth and took a long drag while his partner placed the barrel of her gun at the exact center of Raven's forehead.

"I can see that, Remy, but who are they?" That same cultivated indifference that Raven had discerned from the hall. Raven's eyes were the only thing mobile on her body and she couldn't see what form of energy was being used to bind them. However, it was strong and unforgiving.

"This is Rogue." The words were hardly out of his mouth and Raven felt her bonds disappear. "That's Destiny." The gun shifted. "And this is Mystique, the contractor." She removed the gun from Raven's brow and let it go. Raven fought the urge to jump for it as it floated back to nestle under the kitchen sink.

Ro obviously recognized the names of the Sisterhood of Mutants, especially after helping Remy prepare for the job. Even with the cease-fire, however, the woman seemed dubious. "Welcome. Pull up a pillow."

Remy seemed a bit guilty as he asked, "You still sleeping?"

"No, I was up. Working some things out." The door closed behind Irene with a whoosh of air.

Unable to contain her curiosity, Raven hazard a guess. "TK?"

"Wind. I'm Ororo. Around the business, they call me the Egyptian Storm." Darting a good-natured glance at her partner, she smiled, the first honest emotion Raven witnessed in her. "Only fools call me Stormy." A stiff breeze buffeted Remy briefly and abated.

"Whatevah." Remy grinned and Raven could almost feel Rogue deflate behind her. "You workin' tonight, Stormy?" Remy rose from his lean, still nursing the bottle and drew them into the living room.

Remy noted his free weights scattered across the floor in front of the television, which was playing cable radio, and Ro's track pants and sports bra. She ran every morning and worked out three times a week, but a late evening set was usually a salve for bad dreams or worries she was not prepared to acknowledge. Remy wished for once that their demons would take a back seat and let them finish a job in peace.

"No, just . . . thinking." Ro grabbed up the lighter weights and helped Remy put them away.

Raven took their occupation with mundane tidying up as a chance to survey her surroundings. The living was large, much too large for a tenement building, but as Rogue guided Irene over an uneven spot on the floor , Raven noticed where a wall or three had been knocked down. The resulting space was large enough to house a South Hampton aerobics class, certainly enough for two renegade thieves to work in. There were several doors off the main room, and Raven deduced that the majority of the fourth floor had to be accessible from inside the apartment. It was actually a smart set-up, much more than she had been expecting.

"You girls are about my size. I have some things in there you might fit." Ro pointed to one of the doors, a clear indication that she wanted them out of sight and hearing range. Raven complied with only a few comments under her breath, more eager than she would admit to get out of her prison uniform.

Left alone in the living area, Remy was quick to grab Ro up in a hug. "Missed you. Everything alright here?"

"Yeah. The kid's inside, chatting or something. She actually ate dinner tonight, so that's a plus. So, how'd the job go?" Ro darted a glance at the store room door. The contract would certainly be able to find something to wear. It was basically a walk-in closet, with enough clothes to outfit, say, an entire Thieves Guild. Remy's father might have banished him, but he didn't abandon him. Ro herself was three days late with her Cairo Guild tithe. Remy had promised her part of his cut if she baby-sat.

"It was alright. You probably could have done it. Except for the crawling through tight spaces and spending 23 hours in the cab of a truck." Remy smiled as he peeled off his kevlar body armor, stacking it neatly next to two other sets of work clothes. "Come to think of it, nah, you couldn't have cut it." He ducked her fist, but lost his balance on a hard wind. He rolled into a dive, but instead of coming up with spikes blazing fuchsia, he remained on the floor, too worn for impromptu sparring.

Ro backed off after catching the stiffness of his movements. "Anyway, so where's your coat?" As much as she hated it, that trench coat was Remy's constant companion.

Remy hung his head a smiled wryly. "Um, somewhere in the Nevada desert."

A few quick footsteps and Remy was thrown on his back by 110 pounds of female fury. "Ou est mon laptop?"

"Avec mon pelage." Remy covered his face as he was hissy-fitted by the fourteen year old technophile.

"I know dat. It went dead yesterday. I cain't believe you left my compy! Dat was de only one I had. Je te deteste!" Alex LeBeau lit into her brother, heedless of his exhausted state. She was used to his not fighting back: he never hit her, except during training, but that was different.

"Ro, come on, help me out here." Remy put a hand out toward his roommate. With Raven, Irene and Rogue in the other room, he didn't need to deal with a domestic dispute.

"She's your problem, Remy." Belying her protest, Ro set a warning thundercrack into motion. "Alex, leave your brother alone. With the money off this job, he can buy you three or four more laptops, right Remy?"

"Sure, Lex, don't worry about it. And I made sure to trash the hard drive, so even if they find it, they won't get anything from it." Freed from her weight, he gingerly lifted himself up. She was muscular and strong, and she knew how to hit, so she must have been pulling her punches because he was feeling no pain. Unless, of course, he was past the point of registering pain.

Remy knew he had Alex to thank for even the minimal support his father was offering by letting them live in a Guild safehouse. When he had picked her up at the bus station eight months ago, she had claimed she was running away from home, but even then he had wondered how she found him. Even now, he wondered if his father had sent her to keep an eye on him. It was a somewhat unnerving, somewhat comforting thought.

With those thoughts on his mind, he ignored the instincts that told him to get his money and get rid of the Sisterhood. He had no reason to trust them, and every reason to protect Ro and Lex, no matter how tough they each were. At the same time, he couldn't abandon Raven and the rest when they were unable to defend themselves.

Ro watched Alex drift over to the TV. Like the brat she was, Lex hadn't even apologized. Ro hid her scorn behind a calm facade and gathered her 22 years, three months and ten days' experience (which put her 1 year, ten months and seventeen days ahead of her partner) and asked, "So, when exactly are you getting paid? The job's done, right?"

"It's done. I just . . . well, look at them. They've been through a ringer in the last day and that place was definitely bad news. A few hours to rest up and they're on their own," he swore to her as she watched him skeptically.

The closet door opened and Raven and Irene walked out, dressed in sweats and holding their prison uniforms. Rogue, on the other hand, had found a baby-doll pajama set. Smirking at Remy's dropped jaw, Ro went to lead them to the spare bedrooms. "There's plenty of room, so don't be shy." She looked at Rogue, who seemed to take it as a challenge.

"Well, thank you. I'll keep that in mind." Rogue narrowed her eyes briefly. For that brief moment, ozone seemed to burn the room with tension.

Remy found his voice at the thought of an angry Ro. "I'm going to bed. See you in the morning." He slunk to his own door and made it to his bed before he got his boots or pants off.

Rogue took an eyeful of his departing back, turning a catty expression on Ro's cat-blue eyes. Then she remembered who's hospitality she was prevailing on for the clothes on her back. "Um, so where do you want us to sleep?"

The tension abated immediately between the two young women, but Irene was not so easily put at peace. "Yes, young lady, we'll need three separate rooms."

Ro shrugged, not noticing the anger that shimmered between two of her unexpected house-guests. Raven watched Irene select a room and vowed to find out what was going on. In the morning.


Continued in Chapter Six.


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