Disclaimer: Vicki and I do not
own Gambit and Rogue. Marvel... er.. uh.. Toybiz, or whoever,
I don't really give a crap, does. We are using them without
their permission, or frankly their knowledge. And that makes
it ok. What they don't know can't hurt them, unless by chance
they happen to come across this little "work". And
even then, worse-case scenario, they'll suffer mild brain
damage and a phobia of reading and the internet. And really,
what are they gonna do to us? Come to our house, take us outside
and shoot us in the street? I mean, let's be real here. No
one could even find my house. I can barely locate it. Are
they gonna sue us? Go right ahead, take all I got. You can't
even buy a gumball for two cents anymore. Take my "assets"?
I only got 2 assets; the one I'm sittin' on and the one on
my shoulders. I'm not quite sure which is more valuable. I'm
pretty sure they're chaulk-full of asses already. But if they
want my head, feel free. Fat lotta good that'll do 'em. Only
thing mine's good for is, possibly, an old fashioned game
of soccer. For the first 10 minutes or so. Then it gets all
mushy. Not to mention the disentigration. That's how that
soccer started y'a know. With heads.
Vicki: Uhmmm...Thank you Caroline. You can step off
the soapbox now. Teehehehehe ;)
Write to Caroline at firstname.lastname@example.org/
Vicki at email@example.com
Free for a Second
"Where are we goin'? Aren't we headed ta a hotel or
somthin'?" Rogue asked, her eyes soaking in the sights
of New Orleans in the late morning hours as the car cruised
along the busy avenue...
They had received word the previous afternoon from Remy's
associates that the road ahead was clear. Hastily, they had
packed and checked out of the posh hotel, much to Jonathan's
disappointment. By early evening they had bid the city of
Knoxville adieu. Driving all night, they wove a tangled trail
down to and through Louisiana, trying to make their path as
difficult to follow as possible.
Though Rogue had insisted upon keeping Remy company during
the entirety of the trek, 5 hours into the drive; she could
no longer stave off her body's need for some healing sleep.
With a quiet insistence, the car's motion lulled her away.
Daylight had awoke her just outside of New Orleans.
"We goin' shoppin." Her companion said casually.
"Need ta get you some proper attire. We got a dinner
tonight. Gotta look good, neh?"
She blinked her eyes, simultaneously raising her eyebrows.
"Dere be an echo in here? Oui, tonight you goin' meet
my clan and dey goin' meet de woman who dey be helpin'. Wanna
make a good impression, n'cest pas?"
She swallowed hard. She didn't want to make any impression
at all. Truth be told, Rogue didn't care much for people.
99% of all the people she had met were complete and utter
bastards. Manipulative creatures that used false sincerity
to get what they wanted. Socializing and relationships were
a burden that the Organization had rid her of. The prospect
of meeting a whole clan, to whom she was already indebted,
was wholly unappetizing.
However, she guessed she owed it to them. And some part of
her wanted to express her gratitude for their aid, but...
"A CLAN? How BIG is a clan??"
"Relax chere, it's a clan o'people, not 'gators. Dey
ain't gonna eat'cha."
"Says you. Ah don't like it. Ah ain't got no people
skills. An' this shoppin' and eatin' in a restaurant don't
sit none too well with me either."
"Shit, you always dis much fun girl? You tellin' Remy
here dat that you go round de world on life -t'reatnin' missions
on a whim, but you 'friad of sittin' down wit' ma famille?
"Ah am not a coward. It's asinine to be jaunting around
in public places. Why don't we just paint nice, bright bull's
eyes on our foreheads?"
"Rogue....Sabine, relax. First off, we ain't goin' to
no rest'rant. We eatin' in de family home. Second, we bein'
watched out for here. Ma family make sure dat no harm come
He pulled into a back alley and up to an iron wrought gate.
Retrieving a small remote from his pocket he pressed a button
and the gate opened. They pulled into a small carriage house
hidden from the street. He turned to face her as he unbuckled.
"We safe. Now stop worryin'." He said confidently,
oblivious to the dark shadows that had already invaded the
Operation Executive Portman cleared his throat, annoyed.
He'd received notification earlier that morning that the powers
above requested a meeting with him.
That could only mean they had learned of his incompetence
in dealing with Sabine. There were few in the Org. that held
a position of greater power than Portman. Those who did were
capable of making him disappear before he could draw a breath
of protest, should they deem him unfit. Their power was awesome.
In fact he wondered why they hadn't taken the initiative in
going after Rogue in the first place. Obviously they had thought
it a trifle not worth their priceless time. Portman knew in
his gut it was also a test.
To prove his worthiness and ability to them. And he was eager
He coveted a place not only at their side, but one day, above
Rogue. What a fitting codename. he thought bitterly.
After all he'd done for her, this was how she repaid him?
His position in jeopardy, his pride wounded, he decided it
was time to take matters into his own harsh steel hands. He
wanted no more fuck-ups.
There was a knock at the door.
His secretary stepped through the doorway and halted sharply.
"Sir," she said stiffly, her communications headset
still adorning her head.
"Operative Stein has acquired the information on the
unknown male accomplice you requested."
"About damn time."
"I know, sir. He apologizes. Apparently this man virtually
doesn't exist. Stein had to go above and beyond normal procedures
Portman cut her off harshly.
"Enough. I don't give a rat's ass how hard it was. Just
give me the information."
She quickly strode forward, unfazed by his tone, and handed
him a green dossier full of printouts. As he scanned them
she gave him an overview of their contents.
"His name is Remy Lebeau. He's a member of the Thieves'
Guild of New Orleans."
He looked up, arching a brow.
"Thieves' Guild? I thought that was just a myth."
"As did I sir. But apparently some other agencies have
had run-ins with them before. That is primarily how Operative
Stein was able to compile most of his information."
"Age approximately 26. Height..."
"Unimportant. Have they located them?"
"We sent tracers down to New Orleans yesterday. Had
them locate a few known members and associates of the Guild
already on file and trailed them. Most leads were dead ends,
but one led us to Knoxville, Tenn. There they delivered a
car and some suitcases to a hotel."
"How are you certain they're connected?"
"Though was no actual visual confirmation, after interviewing
the hotel staff, one employee did mention a peculiar detail
about one of the guests he'd been serving." She stopped,
"It was a woman with a white streak right down the middle
of her hair."
Her mood was infectious, and Portman found himself smiling
They'd found her.
"The car was seen headed south last night. Despite their
best efforts to throw us, it was tracked to..."
"Let me guess... New Orleans. Stupid bastard's looking
for home court advantage."
"Sir, we have already dispatched several more operatives.
It's only a matter of time..."
He rose, again interrupting her mid-sentence.
"Tell our operatives I want them found, but not, I repeat,
not confronted. Trail them."
He donned his suit jacket.
"I'm going down there personally. You know the saying.
If you want it done right...I'm taking no chances this time.
In the meantime, you're in charge of the office."
"Notify all those necessary. My meeting may have to
As she exited he prepared himself. It would be foolish for
an all-out confrontation . The Organization was powerful but
there was too much of a chance of something going wrong if
they engaged the Thieves' Guild in their home city.
He had to get Sabine alone. Convince her to leave the protection
of the the Guild. A cruel smile distorted his features.
And he knew just how.
They ate a quick breakfast which Rogue all but swallowed
whole as she slumped half-way down in her chair, throwing
rapid glances over each shoulder every couple of moments.
Remy simply laughed at her behavior and waited for her to
give herself a good case of heartburn.
That'd learn her.
'Ya know,' he leaned towards her speaking in a confidential
tone. 'Ya keep gulpin' dat down like ya are, it goin' make
your nose get real athletic.'
As to confirm his words she abruptly began to choke on her
last bite. Quickly she took a huge swig of Chicory coffee
and forced the whole mess down.
She wiped her mouth. "Ah can take the hot, smartass.
It's the not chewin'."
"So slow down den stupid. We got time."
"Ah told you Ah don't like bein' out in the open. Makes
me nervous. We're bound to be noticed."
"Well t'ink about how much attention we gonna get if
I have ta give you de Heimlich right here."
She slowed down bit by bit and began to enjoy the taste of
the meal. She even seemed to relish the coffee, he noted with
surprise. Outside of Louisiana, Chickaree was not a popular
coffee flavor. As he had, she wore sunglasses, and with a
bit of make-up, they had managed to almost entirely conceal
Not that it would have mattered. They were in New Orleans.
Sabine could have run through the streets naked if she wanted
and not caused many an eye to bat.
Remy looked her over again, as she finished her last bite.
OK, maybe not naked...
He smiled at his private joke.
Her expression clearly revealed that she knew whatever he
wasn't letting on, was at her expense. However instead of
persisting, she chose to give him a nasty look over the rim
of her coffee mug.
"Like dat coffee, do ya? Not most everybody takes to
it chere. It's a hard one to love."
"Sugar, Ah can eat grounds. This is much more pleasant
She set the empty mug down.
"Bien. Den let's go spend some money."
They strode up and down the banquettes pressed closed together.
Their proximity, however, wasn't due to lack of room, but
rather Rogue's efforts at trying to conspicuously play bodyguard.
If he was unwilling to heed her insistence that they were
still in danger, then she would watch out for the both of
At first a bit reluctant and not in quite the right mood
or frame of mind to shop, Sabine stood just inside the entrance
of each store, arms crossed over her chest. With an undiscriminating
glance she swept her eyes over the contents of the store,
selecting nothing. By the fifth store Remy lost his patience
with her and muttering something under his breath, quickly
lunged forward, grabbing a tasteless dress that seemed to
be about 2 parts leather and 3 parts mesh.
"What are you doin?" She asked, eyeing the sleazy
"Well, if you ain't gonna choose nothin', den I chose
He walked towards the cashier.
"Oh no you don't! Ah ain't wearin' that shrimp-net!"
"Den you better start shoppin' for yourself. Otherwise
it's up to me. And you not gonna like what I pick, I guarantee."
"Fine." she replied curtly, grabbing the dress
from his hands. She made to return it, but when he turned
his back she tucked it under an arm and quickly hid it under
a few things she found to her liking.
She wouldn't let him win so easy.
She tried on a few shirts and pants while Remy sat in a chair
outside the dressing room waiting patiently, basking in the
smiles women flashed him as they passed by.
"How's it goin'? You find anythin' you like?" he
"Yeah, a few things. But I'm not so sure about this
one. Don't know if I should get it or not..."
She was glad he couldn't see her face and the large devious
smile perched there.
"Let me see, chere. I help you make up your mind."
"Well...okay," she cast a last look in the mirror.
The garment could basically be described as an ultra-short,
long-sleeved, ring-necked, red mesh dress with a hint of leather.
It clung to her body, closer than a second skin and just barely
came below the line of her buttocks. The dress was completely
translucent, save for where someone had a modesty attack at
the last moment and stitched a piece of leather to the thin
material. The amoeba-shaped leather wrapped around the entire
creation, starting thin under her left arm and widening to
just manage to cover both nipples, letting the rest of her
abundant breasts spill out on either side.
Again it shrank at her waist as it wrapped down and around
increasing its girth to almost cover her rear. It finished
its last turn creating a wiggle of fabric across her lower
abdomen, a good 7 inches below her bellybutton. She looked
like she was wrapped in a red orange peel.
It was ugly
It was tacky
It was perfect.
She walked out.
"Remy, tell me what ya think of this."
He turned towards her, his mouth open to make a reply that
never came. Open it hung as he sat, stone cold eyes locked
onto the vision before him. She swore she could see his eyes
burning hot right through his sunglasses.
"That's what I thought." She smiled.
Noticing she had unwittingly attracted the attention of the
store's other customers, she quickly retreated to her fitting
room and scrambled gratefully back into her underwear. She
suspected that Remy had never enjoyed watching a femme walk
away from him so much in his whole life.
They returned to the sidewalks after their purchase in which
the little red number was not included, much to Remy's chagrin.
After a while the beautiful scenery and easy going people
of the city worked its charm on Rogue. She ceased to dart
her head about, looking for something unseen.
Instead she chose to admire the iron-wrought balconies, the
street car which passed by occasionally, or the musician that
had set up shop right on the banquette. Giving in to the humidity
in the air, she slowed her pace.
New Orleans was not a place where you wanted to move too
fast, unless you had a particular fondness of being sticky
and sweaty. Absent-mindedly, she hummed a tune that she'd
picked up from a street musician as they wove their way in
and out of boutiques. For his part, Remy genuinely seemed
to enjoy showing Rogue a bit of his hometown. Telling her
small tales of things he'd done in his youth, stories that
were connected with shops or people they passed by. About
night life here, and gator-hunting. What were tourist traps
and what were real points of interest . Bags in hand, he finally
led Sabine to a couture.
"Pick out something for tonight chere. Nothin'
too ritzy, but elegant none de less. Somethin' special."
With that he left to go find something for himself. She wandered
amidst the sea of fabric, lost, until she spied a beautiful
black gown hanging on a rack in the corner. It was exquisite.
With Remy nowhere in sight, she hastily grabbed one in her
size, wanting it to be a surprise.
"May I start a fitting room for you, miss?"
Rogue jumped and whirled to face the petite sales attendant
"Uh..yes. Please." Rogue all but threw the garment
at the woman, keeping an eye out for Remy.
"Certainly." The sales attendant responded, making
no attempt to hide her curiosity at Rogue's unease. "I
will hang it outside your room. When you're ready just go
right in. My name is Mirette. Let me know if I can be of further
Sabine watched her withdraw. Taking a few moments to ascertain
where Remy was, she covertly discovered him examining several
suits. Satisfied that he was occupied with his own purchase,
she all but sprinted back to the dressing rooms. Snatching
the dress from the hook, she began to push open the door when
a rough hand grabbed her wrist and violently pulled her inside.
She found herself locked in the embrace of someone larger
and obviously much stronger than herself.
Her mouth covered painfully tight, she didn't dare struggle
as she suddenly felt the all-too-familiar prodding of cold
metal against her spine. Her blood froze within her veins.
Looking in the opposite mirror she stared calmly at the visage
of her unwelcome visitor.
"Hello Sabine." he spoke smoothly in his irritatingly
fake upper-class accent. "Miss me at all?"
Her stomach threatened to dispel its contents but her expression
was void of her distress as he released the hand over her
"Not at all, now that you ask."
Portman gave a snicker. She'd always been a smartass. He
ground the gun into her injured ribs purposefully.
"Always the same Rogue. Obstinate. Too much so for your
own good if you ask me. Look at the cluster fuck you're in
The young woman narrowed her eyes and stared coldly into
her mentor's icy gray ones.
"Yeah, well you know what they say: You live what you
Again he jabbed her forcefully with the gun muzzle. She bit
down on her lip.
"Let's cut the small talk and get something clear, Sabine.
I've always treated you better than the rest and this is how
you show you gratitude? I should have left you to rot in that
cell. At least 'til they put you to death because it looks
like that's how you're going to end up anyway. What a waste
of my time. What the Hell were you thinking you stupid girl?
No one leaves the Organization. Not alive, anyway. You know
that perfectly well. The ones that did are out there somewhere,
nothing but abandoned mutilated, putrid carcasses. Is that
how you want to end up?"
She kept silent.
Eyes burning, Portman brazenly lifted her clear off the floor
and gave her a bone-rattling shake.
"Is it Sabine?!"
"Maybe it's what Ah've always wanted," she hissed
through clenched teeth.
"I knew you were going to say that," he replied,
proud yet annoyed at his pupil's defiance. The expression
on his face grew more serious than death.
He was ready to pull his trump card.
"This little game has gone on long enough. I won't have
you discredit me any further."
He gripped her arms tighter and brought her face closer to
his. He knew somewhere in there Sabine had a conscience and
he was relying on that to be her undoing.
"You listen to me and listen well. I know who your little
savior is. And I know all about his 'family'. More importantly,
I know how to get to them. It's going to be easy, really easy."
He studied her face closely. There, he saw what he was searching
for. It existed only for a nanosecond, but something akin
to concern had flashed in her eyes. Inwardly he smiled.
She was his.
"You know what we're capable of Rogue. You've seen it.
Felt it. You put up any more of a struggle and we'll not only
come after you, we'll round up the whole lot of the Thieves
Guild. Let you and Remy watch as we put them all to an agonizing
death. Let you hear them as they writhe, cursing the day one
of their own was given life. And then, before your own death
Sabine, you will have the distinct honor of watching as Remy
Lebeau is tortured until his heart gives out. He'll go to
his grave, his last thoughts in this world of suffering and
hatred. Hatred for the one who brought this fate upon them.
You, Sabine. Do you really want to be responsible for that?"
She remained quiet, face completely stoic. Then slowly her
eyes lowered and her head bowed slightly. She knew this wasn't
a threat. Portman spoke the truth. He'd won.
He set her down and smoothed out the wrinkles he created
in her clothes.
"I see we have reached an understanding. You are to
make an exit tonight. You're a capable assassin, I will leave
the how up to you. A car will be waiting in front of 939 Esplanade
Avenue to take you to your fate."
He said this as he regarded his reflection in the mirror,
straightening his own attire. As he turned to leave, he gave
her a final warning. "And Sabine, if anyone is the wiser
you know what will happen. Take great care."
With that, he was gone.
Her knees, fighters to the end, gave out seconds after Portman's
exit. Her mind was no longer in New Orleans by the time her
butt hit the floor. She was beyond thought. It took every
ounce of concentration and strength she had just to keep breathing.
In and out and in again, she just simply sat there.
"Chere?" Remy's voice jolted her from her shock.
"Sabine, where you at, girl?"
Shit, she had to do this right, she couldn't flake out now.
If he detected the faintest hint of her distress, if anything
roused his suspicions, they were worse than dead. A brief
mental image of a man she'd watched Portman torture flickered
in her mind, only this time his face was Remy's. It was his
blood that surged freely down his crown, mingling with the
red and drowning out the black in his eyes. His voice, hoarse
from hours of screaming, that begged her without care for
dignity, as he lay unable to rise from a pool of his own urine.
His voice that damned her when she refused. It was his bones
that she heard shatter with every blow, his scorched skin
she smelled every time the electroshock gun made contact.
His nails that were wrenched from their lodgings and forced
down his throat. And that was before Portman had gotten into
it. With palpable force she slammed that memory back into
the vault where she'd locked it away with infinite others.
Recalling that would do no good now.
Somehow she would have to hide every iota of her anxiety
Not for the first time, she found herself grateful for the
acting lessons she had been put through by the Org. She could
pull this off; she had been trained to.
"Ah'm in here, Remy." she called back with forced
but believable cheer. "Gimme 5 minutes, then Ah'll be
ready to go."
"Alright, no rush. I jus' go chat up de sales ladies."
he half-joked back and she heard his footsteps tread away.
She quickly tried on the dress, no longer concerned with
its visual appeal, only with its fit. Satisfied, she hastily
redressed and then sunk to the floor again. Settling into
a lotus position she proceeded to meditate, something else
she'd picked up from the Org. Slowing her breathing, she settled
on a soothing image, usually a warm bath, and pushed all thoughts
of Portman and her impending escape to the far recesses of
Concentrate. she told herself. Concentrate on control.
After a few moments, she had managed to shove Portman to
the back of her thoughts and sealed him off. There they would
wait until the time came to deal with them. For now she would
have to act as casual as possible with Remy. Or at least as
casual as was normal for her. Rising to her feet once more,
she studied her image in the mirror, tidying her hair and
clothing. Then she flashed herself a couple of practice smiles.
She could do this. She had to.
Portman had already begun barking orders at his awaiting
operatives before he even reached their car.
"Get me H.Q. on the phone!"
"Sir we have them already. Chief Stark called a few
minutes ago requesting to speak with you sir. He said it was
of the utmost importance."
Of course it was if it was Stark calling. He was after all,
the head of the Organization.
Shit, what does he want?
Portman was glad that he could confidently reassure his superior
that he would have Sabine by night's end.
Slowly he entered the car and reached for the phone.
"Portman here, sir."
"Update, E.O. Portman," came the gruff reply. This
man was all business.
"I have made contact with our quarry. Rest assured sir,
she will be ours before dawn."
The news that Rogue remained at large after a personal confrontation
would have vexed Stark had it come from anyone other than
Portman. He had never known Portman to not make good on his
promises. If he said Rogue would be theirs shortly, Stark
wholly trusted that she would be.
"I have every confidence in you, Portman."
"Sir," Portman continued, asking a question, though
he did not relish hearing the answer to, knew the grave necessity
of its purpose. "What are you recommendations for the
disposal of Operative 357?"
Stark cleared his ancient throat.
"There is to be no disposal at the time of capture."
Portman blinked, stunned. "Sir?"
"You are to bring Operative 357 home, Portman. What
happens to her between New Orleans and here is entirely in
your hands. However, understand that she is not to retain
any severe damage. I want her secured when you arrive. She
will be properly dealt with, have no worries. But not until
I deem it is the appropriate time. You are to report to us
once she is safely in custody. We have an important matter
to discuss with you. It involves your protege."
So that was it. They needed something from Sabine. And she
would remain alive until they had gotten it.
Lucky bitch. Portman thought incredulously. Then again,
Stark had stated she would be "dealt with". Maybe
she was not so fortunate.
"Am I understood?"
"Good. We await your arrival."
Portman hung up the phone. He had a good amount of time to
pass before Sabine was to deliver herself. His mind began
to race furtively as he leaned back into the plush interior,
trying to unravel the mystery behind Rogue's stay of execution.
Continued in Chapter
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