Disclaimer: The X-Men are <sob>
Marvel's, not mine. I'm using them without permission, getting
no money, yadda yadda yadda. Comments, suggestions, constructive
criticism, etc. will be welcomed at Enyo@jps.net
"The Guardian." Scott scowled darkly, glancing
around at no one in particular.
"Y' know her?" Remy was intrigued. He'd brought
his empathy back down to normal levels, but Cyclops was loudly
projecting a very interesting combination of disgust, anger,
doubt, and, most unusually, guilt.
"She came to us shortly after the assassination attempt
on the Professor," Storm answered, and Remy felt the
mood in the room momentarily blacken. "She desired help
in controlling her powers. But she--"
"Had just tried to kill Miss Marvel," Scott
finished firmly. Almost as though he's tryin' t' convince
himself. The rest of the team looked uncomfortable, and
Remy could sense conflicting emotions from several. Jean and
Betsy, tight behind their shields, were mysteries.
Any further questions were cut off by a pleased sound from
Hank, seated at the nearby computer console. "Cerebro
has cracked the code," he announced. "Very clever
encryption technique. It appears they had some doubts about
the competence of our Cajun friend."
Remy felt Scott shift uncomfortably, and knew he had also
doubted that Remy would return...for vastly different reasons.
Logan gave him a sharp look. "I wouldn't be," he
growled, leaning against the wall. "The MU don't trust
A warble from the computer signaled that the decryption was
finished. "Shall I patch it through to the holo-generator,
Fearless Leader?" Hank asked cheerfully.
Scott hesitated, eyes flickering in the way that signaled
he was having a telepathic conversation with his wife. Remy
picked up heightened tension in the room, saw Scott's eyes
slide over him with enforced casualness, and understood.
"I'll leave you to it, den," he said, hiding the
stab of anger that clenched his gut. Ignoring Storm's look
of entreaty, he pivoted and strode out of the room, bitterly
aware of the silence and the eight pairs of eyes boring into
As the doors hissed shut behind him, he cursed, angry at
their distrust. Angry with himself, for being hurt. You
knew dis would happen de second you walked in here. His
whimsical notions were violently dispelled, and he figured
it served him right.
Time t' pack your bags, LeBeau.
Vivid green eyes stared at him challengingly from beneath
a mane of white-steaked, unruly red-brown curls. Remy gave
a low whistle and settled back in his chair, looking at the
holo-image in open admiration. He wasn't exactly sure what
he'd expected when he'd called up Cerebro's file on the Guardian,
but it sure wasn't this.
The holo was unquestionably of the woman he'd met in the
tunnels; younger, certainly, but there was no mistaking that
face. And yet, there was something about her...
The image had been taken mid-flight, which explained how
she moved through the tunnels so quickly. Rogue, as she'd
been called, looked free, alive. Her attractiveness was very
much different from the glamorous grace of Jean or the elegant
beauty of Storm. At first glance, he would have labeled her
"cute." But despite her youth, she somehow managed
to broadcast an unapologetic sexiness, wearing wild abandon
like a badge. The image reminded him, he realized, of Belle.
The confident tilt to her chin, the fierce light in her green
eyes, the determination on her face were all reminiscent of
the strong-willed personality he had met in the tunnels. But
what had happened to the playful half-smirk on her lips? What
had happened to the Rogue?
Disturbed, Remy pulled up what little biographical information
Cerebro had. No family information, just a passing mention
of-- His eyebrows rose. Mystique? THAT name he knew. Not a
woman to cross, that one. She'd earned quite a reputation
in certain circles for being entirely efficient -- meaning,
entirely ruthless. As for her motives -- well, they were her
own. She was Rogue's mother? Well, he now knew where
she got her determination. What a way for a kid to grow up.
Better dan de T'ieves Guild? He thought wryly. He was
one to talk.
He scanned down the list of Rogue's activities with the Brotherhood
of Evil Mutants. She'd been a busy girl. And a successful
one, from the look of things. What exactly were her powers,
beyond flight? He called up her stats:
Natural power: skin-to-skin contact
results in uncontrolled absorption of memories and powers
for a length of time partially proportional to the length
of contact. Powers resulting from prolonged and intense contact
with Carol Danvers, aka "Miss Marvel": flight, near
invulnerability, superhuman strength, "seventh sense"
of danger. Other side-effects from partial Kree physiology
include resistance to poisons and ability to survive in a
vacuum for a limited space of time.
Remy whistled, turning over the implications in his mind.
Her absorption power was easily one of the most dangerous
-- and most useful -- mutations he'd come across. No wonder
the X-Men had feared her. And with the added powers of Miss
He went back to her history, scrolling down until he saw
Carol Danver's name. Girl had taken out one of the most powerful
superheroines on the planet within a minute or two. But not
without repercussions. She'd left Mystique and shown up at
the X-Men's door. Girl's got guts, dat's for sure.
Cyclops' entry read that Rogue had permanently absorbed Danvers'
powers and copied her psyche, and that she had claimed that
she was being mentally assaulted by Miss Marvel's mind. It
also mentioned that Rogue had said she'd realized that Mystique
had been using her, although Scott sounded extremely cynical.
So, they'd left her to fend for herself. Just like that.
Remy leaned back in his chair, thoughts running back to the
restrained mind he had felt in the tunnels.
Is dat de price of controlling your power, chere?
He studied her expressive eyes, searching for traces of the
emptiness that echoed inside his skull.
Gambit gave himself a solid mental kick. He must have been
well and truly engrossed not to sense Storm approach. "Oui,
"I have told you not to call me that," she said
absently, stepping inside the lab. Her eyes were fixed on
the hologram hovering gently above the table. "I was
not aware Scott had given you access to Cerebro."
You know damn well he didn't. "Sorry, chere.
Her blue cats eyes fastened on him appraisingly. He sensed
equal parts disapproval and reluctant agreement. "I understand
your frustration, Remy. But you must give everyone a little
He traced her eyes to the duffel bag pushed up against the
wall. Her gaze flickered back to him, pain and hurt in their
"I'll never fit in here, chere, an' you know it."
"Remy..." she hesitated. "It is...difficult
for Scott to accept new members onto the team. Since the Professor
was injured, he has been left with a heavy burden--"
"It isn't just Scott, Stormy." He said it as gently
as possible, but felt her sharp shaft of hurt nonetheless.
"I'm a t'ief, chere. I'm no hero."
"Indeed." She pinned him to the chair with a piercing
look. "So, it was a self-serving thief who rescued a
young girl from the Shadow King."
He sighed. Leave it to her to throw that one piece of misguided
altruism in his face. "Chere--"
"Remember, Gambit, I was once worshipped as a goddess
by the people of Kenya." Her face had smoothed into a
resolute calm that made it a small stretch of the imagination.
"I enjoyed, even reveled in, the power and honor they
accorded me. Yet I came to realize that that was wrong. All
the X-Men have their dark pasts, Remy. People can change."
He laughed, knowing that he hurt her but unable to stop himself.
"Yeah, Stormy." He gestured towards the hologram
on the table. "Like she changed?"
Her face clouded, and she was silent long enough for him
to regret his words. He opened his mouth to apologize, but
was stopped by her uplifted hand.
"Rogue was...a mistake," she said at last, quiet
but sure. She lifted her gaze to meet his, apologetic but
uncompromising. "We all make them. But I do not wish
to make the same mistake with you."
He began to shake his head, but she strode forward swiftly
and seized his chin in one slim brown hand.
"I do not believe that you are simply a thief, Remy,"
she said, blue eyes focusing on him disconcertingly. "Had
that been the depth of your character, you would never have
risked your life for a street urchin. As much as you try to
deny it, you have a good heart, and at your core, you believe
in doing what is right. And in that, I think you may find
you have more in common with us than you wish to admit."
He watched her warily as she straightened. Seeing his expression,
she sighed. "If you truly wish to leave, my friend, I
doubt that I could stop you. But the Professor should return
from his conference tomorrow, and I would like for you to
meet him. All I ask is that you give us...and yourself...a
With a swirl of ivory hair, she was gone, leaving Remy with
the faint scent of fresh earth and green growth, and the low
echo of her voice. My friend... Remy tasted the
words as if for the first time, feeling them out and trying
to shake the impression that someone, somewhere was laughing
Continued in Chapter
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