The following story features several characters
which are the property of Marvel Comics and no money is being
made from their unauthorized 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.
It was just past three p.m. when Bishop first saw the car
approach. He was quite sure that no visitors had been scheduled
that day, and was therefore on his guard when he answered
Nearing the vehicle, he noted as many details as possible
-- a habit from his days as a police officer. It was a black
Jaguar XK-E convertible, in mint condition, license plate
'LEMIEUX'. He then turned his attention to the driver, and
did a quick double-take. Luxuriant auburn hair was drawn back
into a ponytail, but her long bangs framed her face. High
cheekbones, elegant, angular features -- tall, with a lean,
muscular frame -- she had the body of an acrobat, or a dancer.
Her eyes were hidden behind dark glasses, but Bishop could
guess what they looked like. He couldn't believe it -- Gambit
hadn't been exaggerating.
Before these thoughts had been completed, Bishop had his
gun at the ready, trained on the visitor. She did not appear
impressed by this display, peering over her glasses in distaste.
"Charming," she remarked dryly.
"Who are you?" he challenged.
"I'm expected," she retorted.
"And if you don't believe me, I suggest you set aside
the penis substitute for a moment, and check for yourself."
Bristling, the time-tossed X-Man used his comm unit to verify
her claim, the barrel of the gun never wavering from her.
Finding out she was correct, he was beside himself when he
was forced to allow her entry to the estate.
"Proceed," he snarled.
"Thank you so much, sir," she smiled, honey in
her voice, "and you have a nice day."
Her engine purred as she began the winding drive up the hill.
Reine drove along the scenic road to the mansion, drumming
her fingers on the steering wheel.
*Should have gone over the wall again, just to piss off that
She was sure that even now, the man was trying to track the
ownership of the car. Admittedly, she ran some risk in using
it; it was listed as a company car to a dummy corporation
which she ran by proxy. However, tracing it to her could only
be done indirectly, with a multitude of ulcer-inducing paperwork,
and the guard hadn't struck her as the patient sort. Since
she had risked her real first name with Remy, she had decided
to make her entrance as herself, in the manner she really
lived. Although she had avoided bringing anything directly
traceable to her identity, for safety's sake...
Since waking, she had had a case of low-grade butterflies.
* I can rip off a DeBeers shipment on the Concorde in mid-flight,
I can hold up any bank, anywhere, I can lift cash shipments
directly from the Mint, all without breaking a sweat -- so
what rattles me? A potential family reunion...*
The closer she came to the house, the more nervous she became.
*Relax, girl...it's no setup, and even if it was, it's not
like I'm without a bargaining chip...not to mention they've
yet to invent the cell that can hold you...*
At that moment, she gained some insight about her conflicted
emotions. Her life was individualism -- pure freedom; if she
had family, part of that liberty would be gone forever.
For a career criminal, it sounded a lot like being sent up;
but for every reason she listed for not going through with
the blood test, the more the more she was drawn.
*Damn it...I'm not going back now...*
Ever since he woke that morning, Remy LeBeau had been a bundle
of nervous energy. After informing Beast that his services
would be required for a visitor that afternoon, Gambit had
immediately gone for an extended session in the Danger Room.
However, rather than drain away his unease, it only aggravated
his tension. A long, hot shower afterward also failed to relax
him. Getting dressed, he actually found himself fretting over
what to wear.
*What's de matter wit' you? Y'actin' like a teenager
on his first date* he thought disgustedly.
Eventually, he settled on jeans, a white t-shirt, and his
boots, and went downstairs to wait. Within minutes of doing
so, he had managed to drive Storm, Bobby, Rogue and Joseph
to distraction with his nervous prowling.
"Sugah, will ya please relax?! If'n you pace through
here one more time, I'm gonna go crazy!"
"Sorry, chère -- can' help it. What time is it 'Ro?"
"About two minutes later than the last time you asked
me...Remy, what on Earth is the matter with you? You have
been climbing the walls since you woke up."
"Expectin' company, Stormy...s'posed t'be here dis afternoon."
"From the state of your nerves, this cannot be an ordinary
guest. Who is it, LeBeau?" Joseph asked.
Gambit smiled crookedly.
"You'll see, mon frère, you'll see..."
At that moment, the intercom sounded.
"Ah, there you are, Gambit...Bishop has just called
from the gatehouse," Beast reported.
"It seems your visitor is on her way up the drive as
"Merci, Bête," he replied as nonchalantly as possible,
"we see you in de lab."
"A mystery woman, and a lab visit -- don't tell me someone
forgot his 'protection'..." Bobby began.
Remy was too preoccupied to notice the jibe; however, Rogue
wasn't, and her dagger-eyed glare was enough to keep Iceman
from elaborating further.
Gambit quickly headed for the main doors with the others,
curiosity piqued, at his heels. He had just stepped outside
as Reine brought the Jaguar to a halt at the foot of the steps
and alighted. The other X-Men stared in disbelief.
Remy was somewhat taken aback himself. She had decided to
wear a form-fitting, cropped white knit shirt with jeans and
boots, completing the outfit with a black motorcycle jacket.
"I like de look, chère."
"Strange -- I was about to say the same thing."
Just then, Gambit noticed the license plate.
"Le mieux?"1 he inquired.
Reine raised an eyebrow, and flashed the lopsided smile his
friends knew so well.
"Pourquoi non? C'est vrai."2
"Remy, are ya sure ya know what you're doing?"
Rogue whispered worriedly.
"Ah mean, last night..."
"Dere's another story there, cherie. Gambit tell you
all later -- just now, Beast's expectin' us. C'mon in, chère,"
"I'll show you de way..."
"What? Not even an introduction?" Reine responded
as she climbed the stairs.
Bobby and Joseph stared, transfixed, as she approached. While
all of the X-women were beautiful, Reine possessed a raw,
confident physical magnetism that not even Psylocke could
match. And there was much more to her appeal than her appearance
-- there was her carriage. Her movements were spare and elegant,
with no superfluous motion, and imbued with the grace of a
dancer. Standing still, she was beautiful; in motion, she
took your breath away, and both men were stricken.
Gambit noticed this, and his eyes gleamed with amusement
as he introduced her to the others.
"Y'right, chère...where are my manners? Reine, meet
Rogue, Ororo, Bobby an' Joseph."
"Charmed, I'm sure," she smiled winningly.
"Shall we get it over with now?"
"Sooner de better, chère, like you said..."
"Remy, get what over with? What're ya doin'?"
As they all walked in the direction of the medlab, Remy and
Reine in front, the others close behind, he answered.
"Well, cherie, de fun last night was a blind. Early
dis mornin' she pay me a visit, an' we agreed t'get a blood
test. End o' story."
"Blood test?" Bobby squawked.
"You mean you're..."
"He means we're going to find out," Reine answered
smoothly, "that's why I wanted to talk to him
"But how did you get past security?" Joseph asked,
"A professional never reveals her secrets," she
smiled demurely, " and I am not the Penn and Teller
of the B and E set."
"Good question, though," Remy mused, "but
I t'ink I got an idea..."
"Let me know when you figure it out, junior."
They soon found themselves at the lab,and were warmly greeted
by the Beast.
"Ah, Remy...might I assume your lovely guest is to be
the subject of my comparison? and that you have duly notified
"Oui to de first, oui to de second if y'mean Bishop,
Bobby an' de others here."
"I see...and you are, madam?"
She removed her glasses, and extended her hand with a smile.
"Reine will do, Doctor McCoy -- your reputation precedes
Hank quirked an eyebrow.
"As does your own, Reine...or should I say 'valet'3?"
he inquired as he gallantly kissed her hand.
She looked at Hank wide-eyed, the picture of innocence.
"Why doctor, I'm sure I have no idea what you're talking
At Reine's performance, Gambit couldn't help but laugh.
"T'es bien chère," he chuckled, "très bien."4
"Non," she disagreed, her voice coolly even, "je
ne suis pas bien: je suis la meilleure. And don't you forget
"Hmm...I believe I detect a clash of egos in the making,"
Hank observed, eyes sparkling.
"Perhaps it would be best to conduct the tests right
away. Both of you, bare a forearm please..."
When Reine removed her jacket, Bobby and Joseph nearly fell
over themselves to take it from her, until a smiling Storm
performed the courtesy herself. Beast smoothly took the samples
he required, and ushered the group out.
"I shall want to perform a complete comparison, of course,
but I believe I will be able to answer the question of moment
within two hours. In the meanwhile, I'm sure Remy can keep
you entertained. As soon as I have the results, I'll notify
Once the medlab doors closed, an awkward silence ensued,
which was broken by Ororo.
"Remy, why don't you show your guest around the grounds?
We shall be in the rec room, should you wish to rejoin us
"Thanks, Stormy," he said, relieved.
"Remy, how many times do I have to tell you..."
Gambit grinned happily in reply as he turned to walk Reine
to the gardens outside.
When they were out of earshot, Rogue spoke up.
"Ah jus' cain't believe it -- spittin' images! Ah'm
not even sure why they're botherin' with a test."
"Hey, just the thought of another Gambit roaming the
Earth gives me the heebies," Bobby remarked, "although
I definitely prefer version two..."
"So Ah noticed."
"Yours is a good question, Rogue. But I believe I know
the answer," Storm mused.
"I believe they are both afraid that it might not be
In the meanwhile, an uneasy attempt at conversation was going
"Suit me okay. I like your car chère -- you don' see
too many E's around."
"Well, there aren't a lot of people like me around --
present company excepted," Reine replied, both laughing
Gambit smiled and turned to her with a thoughtful expression.
"Y'know," he mused, "I hope we both get better
at dis -- I don' think I can take any more small talk."
She laughed, normally this time.
"I know...it's just that there's so much we can't
tell each other yet...after all, the Knave and the X-Men both
want their secrets kept."
Remy started in surprise, and Reine made a dismissive wave
of her hand.
"Don't give me that," she sighed.
" I did my research. I knew who you were before last
night's little escapade. There are people after both of us,
and we have to be careful."
"You're right, chère," he admitted reluctantly,
" but...one t'ing I got t'ask..."
He seemed almost uncomfortably shy for a moment before he
managed to blurt out his question.
"What's your real name?"
"Actually, I gave you part of it last night," she
admitted, much to his surprise, " I hadn't meant to...but
"I understand, chère...but...d'you t'ink y'might tell
me de whole thing someday? I know what dat's askin' of you,
and I'm not askin' you t'tell me now..."
Reine paused for a moment, considering. Then she grinned,
rocking back on her heels, eyes gleaming with mischief.
"Tell you what...I'll tell you mine, if you tell me
"Dieu...you're a pisser, chère," he chuckled, "but
dat's fair...bien, mon nom, c'est Remy Étienne LeBeau."6
She had just opened her mouth to reply when she was interrupted
by a crashing in the underbrush, as a snarling Wolverine charged,
Remy had reacted instantly, shoving Reine behind him even
before he had finished his shout, causing his teammate to
skid to a halt.
"Outta the way, Cajun, and I'll settle your little problem
here and now," he growled.
"Nice friends," Reine remarked sardonically, "I
wonder what your enemies are like...and while I appreciate
the gallantry, I can look after myself."
"We'll see about that, darlin'..." Wolverine rumbled,
advancing on them again.
"Logan, will you jus' listen t'me for a second..."
Remy began in exasperation.
After some explanation, and lengthy convincing, Gambit finally
managed to get his teammate to grudgingly back down.
"So I gotta ask," Logan said, sheathing his claws,
"how did you fake the scent?"
"Actually, I didn't," Reine replied.
"The key was the perfume I gave the decoy. There was
some commercial scent mixed with it, but the rest was a solution
of my own pheromones. So it was my scent -- just on
Wolverine shook his head in admiration.
"Well, I like to think so..."
The three wandered back to the rec room, where the others
awaited them. An uneasy silence threatened to descend until
Reine cleared her throat.
"Um...does anyone mind if I smoke?"
"Doctor McCoy has made the mansion a smoke-free zone,"
Joseph began, with a pointed look at Gambit and Wolverine.
"But if we open the windows, I'm sure he won't notice,"
Logan finished with a grin, "unless o' course, anyone
else has an objection?" he challenged.
The others shook their heads.
Remy tossed Reine a package of his own cigarettes, which
she neatly caught, but she shuddered upon reading the label.
"Gaulloises? J'ai dit 'fumer', pas 'étouffer',"7
and threw them back.
Seeing her jacket draped on a chair nearby, she walked over
to it, and rummaged in a pocket. After a moment's search,
she withdrew a compact humidor, and opened its lid. The fragrance
of the tobacco within it caused Logan's nose to twitch.
"Try these," she said, offering the cigarillos
to Gambit and Wolverine.
Logan sniffed appreciatively.
"How right you are," Reine smiled, deftly cutting
the ends of the smokes.
Not surprisingly, she didn't carry a lighter, and ignited
Logan's cigar herself with a glowing fingertip.
"Does anyone else feel like Rod Serling is just waiting
for his cue to walk in?" Bobby asked plaintively.
"How do you think I feel?" Reine replied with a
"Well, since you ask..." he began suggestively.
"How 'bout a game of cards?" Remy interrupted with
a cold glare directed Bobby's way.
"Suits me," Logan agreed.
"Whats's the game?" asked Rogue.
"Poker, o' course..."
"Hmm...shall we make it...interesting?" Reine inquired.
"Stakes?" Remy returned.
Her eyes glinted, and her smile could only be described as
"How much do you have to lose?"
At this, Storm broke in, expressing her preference for a
friendly game, and the others followed suit.
"Old reliable then -- ace high, deuce low, joker wild..."
The three smokers had finished both their cigarillos and
the rest of the field when the intercom sounded.
Continue in Chapter
1. The best?
2. Why not? It's true.
4. You're good...very good.
5. No, I'm not good. I'm the best...
6. ...okay, my name is Remy...
7. Gaulloises? I said smoke, not choke.
"All warfare is based on deception"
-- Sun-Tzu, The Art of War
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