This story features several characters
which are the property of Marvel Comics, and no money is being
made from their unsanctioned use here. The character of Reine,
however, is my creation, and if you use her without my permission,
regardless of whether or not cash is involved, I'll just have
to hunt you down and kill you.
Gambit stirred. There was something amiss in his room. Blearily,
but cautiously, he half-opened his eyes. But before they could
pick up the shadowy outline, his kinetic sense had told him
that he was not alone.
"About time," a soft voice remarked.
"I was starting to think I conked you a little too hard
Remy bolted upright, reaching for his cards even as he opened
his mouth to call the others. Before he could do so, a hand
clamped over his face, while another intercepted his wrist.
"Relax, and think," the voice hissed, "if
I had wanted to hurt you, I would have done it already...I
just want to talk, okay?"
Remy's eyes narrowed. He shook off her grip on his wrist
-- she wasn't even trying to hold him -- and the pressure
against his lips had already eased. From what little he had
seen of her fighting skills, he knew she was telling the truth.
"You certainly got a way of attractin' a body's attention,
chère," he whispered harshly.
"I s'pose y'want to talk about de other night?"
"That's secondary. My reason for being here is a little
"Sorry chère, I be spoken for," he retorted.
"Don't flatter yourself, gator-bait...is there a light
in here that won't attract attention?"
Gambit flicked on the small bedside lamp. On his right, in
a chair by his bed, sat the woman from the museum roof. She
was dressed in a tunic of mottled colours -- black, grey,
dark green -- the better for camouflage, and her auburn hair
was neatly drawn back into a ponytail.
"'Kay chère ... so dis ain' about de Museum job. What
is dis about then?"
"Look in the mirror -- what do you think it's
about?" she shot back.
Gambit did so, noting uncomfortably the stunning resemblance
between the two faces reflected there -- even more evident
now in the modest light of the room than the night on the
"Ce n'est pas tout, mon vieux,"1 she
"Ca semble un peu familier?"2 she asked,
holding one of his cards, it and her hand glowing with charge.
Remy stared at her in shock for a moment, then sank back
against the headboard, his hands over his eyes in disbelief.
"Non," he gasped, " ce n'est pas possible..."3
She pulled his hands down into his lap, forcing him to meet
"What do you think I tried to tell myself all day?"
"I almost made myself believe it too...but I make a
lousy mark, even if I'm the one running the con. I never trust
coincidence. I could -barely- buy having a male double;
after all, anything is possible in the wonderful world of
genetics. That was possible. Highly improbable, but possible
--but I really couldn't buy the coincidence of that double
just happening to be from my own hometown. Pas de danger!"4she
"Y'mean...Dieu...tu es...nous sommes..."5
While he had considered the possibility in the back of his
mind, Remy couldn't even get his mouth around the words now.
"I mean maybe it is all coincidence...but if you believe
that, I will lay you hundred to one odds that you're wrong,
any size bet you name."
Gambit took a deep breath.
"You ain't gettin' no sucker bets from me, chère...you
didn' hit me dat hard," he retorted.
"How you manage t'find my room so neat -- an' how you
even find de house? We know nobody followed us..."
She sat with a patient smile, waiting for him to answer his
own question, which only took a moment.
"...a tracer. Y' planted it on me after you knocked
me cold, an' b'fore Jean came 'long. You never planned for
de "kidnappin'" t'work did you?"
"Ah...he catches on...." she grinned.
"So where is it?"
"Under the left bootstrap of your right boot."
"An' how you even get t'rough security? I'm de only
one ever done it b'fore..."
"And your point would be...?" she whispered back
in an icy voice.
Remy raised a hand, placatingly.
"D'accord, chère -- but what now? I know...I be wantin'
a blood test t'be sure...dis is too much t'take in at once..."
"Amen to that," she returned with a sigh.
"Den after...guess we figure it out as we go, non?"
"Oui -- and you wouldn't rat to the cops on a relative,
would you?" she asked lightly.
Gambit had to bite his tongue to hold back a laugh -- too
noisy, and she had no idea...
"Non, never would do dat, chère."
"Good. One more thing..." she looked uncomfortable.
"What's your name?"
"Remy," he smiled, " e comment t'appelles-tu?"6
"Renée -- mais tout le monde m'appelle Reine,"7
she replied, returning his smile.
Then Gambit noticed the time. "Almos' four, Reine...y'better
go. I'll let you out..."
"No, I'll find my own way -- I could use the exercise,
and besides, it's more fun," she whispered back..
"But I'll be back for that blood test..."
"Sooner the better, I'm thinking -- but next time, I'll
use the gate. Expect me in the afternoon."
"D'accord, I'll be 'ere...au revoir, Reine."
"Au revoir, Remy."
Then she glided over to the window ledge, and made a jaunty
salute before slipping out the window without a sound.
Gambit stared at the window for some time after she left,
unsure if he had dreamt the whole thing.
He didn't know what to think, and he couldn't sort out his
For almost all of his life, he had been alone, mostly by
choice and circumstance. As a child, he had made the decision
to leave his family, rather than live with the abuse and neglect.
Living on the street, he learned quickly that stealth and
self-reliance were the keys to survival. To need or to depend
on another person was potentially fatal, and the best way
to avoid that trap was to stand alone in the shadows.
He had never cared for the isolation, but he had never really
had a choice in the matter.
Then Jean-Luc found him.
With the care of his adoptive father and brothers, he thrived
on the camaraderie of the Guild, finally coming out of his
self-imposed exile -- only to have the politics of his new
family cast him out for defending his own life.
When that had happened, he felt something die inside.
After all this time, he had come to be accepted into another
But Seattle had made him realize that the X-Men would discover
his secret sooner or later, and he would be an outcast again.
He cared too much to leave on his own, so he stayed, knowing
he was just playing out the string
And now...it wasn't certain -- yet -- that he and Reine were
related, but she had sought him out herself. Maybe he wasn't
the only one tired of the shadows.
His empathic senses shouted to him that the both of them
were looking for the same thing, and Remy found himself fervently
hoping that they had found it.
He glanced at the clock.
*Better get some sleep...dis is goin' t'be an interestin'
By the time Reine had arrived at her safehouse, it was approaching
She had done a lot of thinking on the drive home.
Why was she looking to confirm her suspicions? Why should
she even care if she had family? She couldn't even bring herself
to say the word 'brother'...
What good could it do? Cops on every continent were salivating
at the possibility of nailing her -- if they ever clued in
to her identity. Any known family connections could only prove
dangerous to her...and to him. She felt a stab of concern
at that thought; was shocked by the feeling...
When her powers had first manifested, she had made the decision
to care for no-one but herself. Ever since her previously-doting
parents turned away from her.
She had been the perfect little girl: pretty, bright, and
able to excel in everything she put her hand to: school, dance,
music, martial arts, countless sports and activities. Her
parents encouraged all her interests, and were a pillar of
At first, they worried about pushing her too hard, but soon
realized they didn't have to -- she pushed herself, driven
by curiosity and an insatiable desire to learn. So her family
indulged her pursuits, carefully watching to make sure she
didn't overburden herself in her enthusiasm. They were immensely
proud of their little 'Queen', and she adored them. It was
all quite idyllic...until the headaches started.
Her parents were frightened, as well they should have been:
the doctors had thought it was a brain tumour. However, the
real cause soon became apparent as her eyes slowly changed
colour. Maman and Papà could handle that. They simply took
her to a specialist, had some experimental contact lenses
made, and bought her many a pair of sunglasses. The contacts
were as uncomfortable as hell, but life went on normally for
Then one day, she had been sitting outside on the verandah
writing a letter to a friend who was away on vacation. She
had paused, pen in hand, thinking of what to say next, when
her hand suddenly felt cold. Startled, she turned and saw
both her hand and the pen she held glowing brightly. In reaction,
she flung the pen away onto the lawn -- where it exploded
upon hitting the turf.
That was the beginning of the end.
Her parents did their best to hide it, but they were frightened
and ashamed of her. They found any excuse to avoid spending
time with her; she was no longer a welcome topic of conversation
amongst their friends; they pulled her out of school, and
arranged for private tutors. They told themselves it was for
safety's sake, and for Reine's own good.
She knew better.
While she had always been a perceptive child, she had a gift
of knowing the thoughts of other people that went beyond good
observation. She realized it was their fear which caused her
family to drift away from her. Appalled, Reine had resolved
to control her power, in the hope of regaining their trust
and her place in their hearts. She spent countless hours in
the isolated expanse of brush behind the family's country
estate, slowly developing precision and control over her ability.
Applying all the discipline she possessed, she mastered her
It wasn't enough.
Most children would have been crushed -- not Renée. Ironically,
it was the intelligence and self-confidence that her folks
had fostered in her which gave her the strength to overcome
They had always preached tolerance, so she fully realized
the extent of their hypocrisy in their treatment of her, not
to mention society's treatment of her. Her so-called friends
drifted away; in some cases, because their own parents forbade
them to have anything to do with 'that mutie'. Often enough,
these same people had once urged their children to emulate
her. Had it not been for her Sensei and Grognard, the family
retainer, she would have been completely abandoned.
So she bided her time until she turned sixteen, and left
the family home for good.
She didn't want for anything financially, due to a rather
substantial trust fund, but she began to consider a career
to suit her talents. After some deliberation, she settled
It was lucrative; it allowed for a lot of leisure time; it
was challenging; and it provided an excellent opportunity
to show her contempt for the society which ostracized her.
She had analyzed her situation logically. It wasn't that
she wasn't good enough for society -- society was clearly
not good enough for her. So who needed it?
Self-interest had been her only credo -- until now.
She was drawn to Remy, and she couldn't even explain why.
She had even taken the risk of supplying her real first name,
not an alias. Furthermore, she was going back for that blood
test, against her own instincts.
*I don't even know what possessed me to follow this up in
the first place* she fumed.
*I just hope I know what I'm doing...*
Continued in Chapter
1. That's not all, my old friend.
2. Does this seem a little familiar?
3. No, that's not possible.
4. Not likely.
6. ...and what's your name?
7. ...but everybody calls me Reine.
"All warfare is based on deception."
-- Sun-Tzu, The Art of War
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