This 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.
Cyclops watched the maelstrom of destruction in horror. He
had just been about to shut down the simulation when he saw
the twins were surrounded, but something had happened before
he could do so. Slamming his hand down on the safety override,
he vaulted from his chair and hit the direct alarm to the
medlab as he ran for the Danger Room entrance. On his way,
he urgently summoned Jean. There could be lingering gases
from the explosion, so shielding could be necessary when they
*Please God, let them be all right...*
All he could do was hope, he thought hollowly -- but he had
seen that fireball, and neither Remy nor his sister had the
luxury of a force field. If they were still alive, it would
be nothing short of a miracle.
And there was still the question of just what had happened
to cause the Sentinels to be blown away like so many fallen
leaves in a windstorm...
Jean arrived at the door just as he did, and Hank was bounding
toward them from further down the hall. Quickly, Scott checked
the environmental levels while his wife scanned the room.
When she opened her eyes, they were dark with foreboding.
"I'm only picking up one mental presence -- it feels
familiar, but I don't recognize it," she reported in
a tight voice.
They both knew what that likely meant -- one dead or unconscious,
the other probably with severe brain damage.
"Atmosphere readings are normal, but be ready to shield
-- let's go," Cyclops said as he pressed the entry panel.
The doors hissed open. The Danger Room walls were streaked
with soot and pitted by shrapnel, and parts of the floor had
been reduced to slag from the intensity of the blast.
"Oh my stars and garters..." Beast whispered incredulously.
In the middle of the room sat Gambit and Riposte, unscathed,
oblivious to both the ruin around them and to the trio standing
in the doorway.
"Remy! Reine! Are you all right?!"
As one, they slowly turned toward Cyclops' voice, their calm
faces a study in detached interest.
Alarmed, Jean reached out to them with her mind, grasping
first for the familiarity of Gambit's psionic presence, but
all she found in her search was the single entity she had
detected earlier. However, her probing was not without effect.
Suddenly, there was a flash of recognition on Remy's face,
and Phoenix felt the unknown mind in the room spiral out,
separating itself. She 'saw' it split, and recognized the
resulting two psi-signatures with relief, as brother and sister
crumpled limply to the floor.
Hank and Scott hurried to where the two had fallen, picking
their way across the damaged floor with care. Upon reaching
them, Beast immediately fell to examining the pair.
"There doesn't appear to be any obvious physical trauma
-- I'm going to have to run a full series of tests and keep
them in for observation, at least until I can ascertain the
cause of their unconsciousness. But as far as I can tell,
they should be right as rain," he concluded.
"Now, if you'll be so kind as to assist me Slim, perhaps
we can determine just what happened here..."
Gently, Beast scooped Gambit into his arms, Cyclops picked
up Riposte, and they made their way to the medlab.
While Hank and Scott were taking the twins to the infirmary,
Jean stayed behind in the Danger Room. Focusing her mind,
she began her search for any astral traces which could help
her determine the cause of the blast. Carefully, she worked
her way through the lingering images of the training exercise,
sensing Remy's and Reine's thoughts throughout the simulation.
She saw Reine go down -- sensed Remy's worry -- and then ...
*Gambit?! Scanning her for sources of pain?*
Jean was flabbergasted -- she had never even suspected that
he was an empath! She could tell from the astral remains of
his probe, however: it was as if he had extended
a mental antenna to receive any sign of pain from his sister.
As for Reine...
#Quit worrying, I'm fine...#
The echo of her telepathic response resonated in the astral
plane. Jean shook her head in chagrin.
*An empath and a telepath, and both too mistrustful to tell
anyone else... * she thought with regret.
Shaking her head, Phoenix resumed her scan. She couldn't
quite believe what had happened next, nor could she pinpoint
the exact cause that triggered the event, but she could guess.
From the astral record, it was clear that their two minds
had somehow instinctively joined to form one consciousness
... which had in turn ...
Jean finished her probe, eyes wide in shock.
*I have to talk to Hank... *
Swiftly, Phoenix turned and began walking toward the infirmary.
Henry McCoy was puzzled. After running every test twice,
he still couldn't isolate a concrete cause for the twins'
condition. Not that they were in any danger -- Hank figured
that they would both be up and about within the next two hours
Physically, there was nothing wrong with either of them,
apart from the slight dehydration any prolonged strenuous
exercise was likely to cause -- and a Danger Room session
certainly qualified as that! The only thing of note he had
been able to find was a slightly higher than normal degree
of brain activity, but it was not high enough to be truly
unusual. Perhaps Jean had found something tangible...
And, regarding their condition, there was the interesting
conundrum of just how the two of them had even managed to
survive the explosion. Hank sighed.
*I can see that I shall have to spend time with a lot of
archival footage from their previous sessions to see if I
can identify a pattern of some kind ... mayhap Jean will be
able to give me some idea of what I should look for ...*
As if summoned, Phoenix appeared at the door.
"How are they?" she asked quietly, glancing at
the two occupied beds.
"Resting comfortably -- although I'm not sure what caused
them to lose consciousness, let alone to survive the blast,"
he replied in a low voice.
"They should recover fully in short order."
"Could we talk? I found something interesting, and I
think between the two of us, we might be able to sort out
"Certainly -- let's use the briefing room though. I
don't want to disturb them."
Quietly, the two exited the infirmary, leaving the patients
Some minutes after their exit, Reine began to return to consciousness.
*I haven't had a headache like this since the time I was
stupid enough to enter that drinking contest in Dublin...*
She blinked to clear the cobwebs -- shaking her head to do
so, she decided, would be a very, very bad idea. Taking
in her surroundings, she realized that she was in the medlab,
and saw Remy lying on the bed next to hers, still unconscious.
He appeared to be all right, though, much to her relief. Slowly,
she sat up, and began to piece together the last moments of
Then she remembered...
... another life's worth of memories crashed down upon her...
his life ... his memories ... good and bad ...
... all of them.
Reine held her head in her hands, tears streaming down her
face like rain. She looked over at her brother, her eyes pained.
*Remy...mon Dieu, petit frère...mon Dieu...*
Gambit slowly came back to himself. His head was pounding
like a marching band. He could tell without opening his eyes
that he was in the medlab, so he didn't bother to do so.
* Best wait 'til dis migraine die down a little...* he grimaced.
The disinfectant, clinical smell of the place was always
a giveaway -- and he hated it.
* Now how did I get 'ere...?*
Getting his thoughts together, he rebuilt in his mind the
sequence of events in the Danger Room, and then ...
Her secrets, her plans -- the jewel heist which had brought
them together was just the tip of the iceberg -- and her past.
Earlier, he had wondered how she came to be 'in the life';
now he had the truth.
The track of her history, her choices, ran clearly through
his memory as he shared her past anguish.
*Least I knew what my hand was early -- didn' have t' wait
until my powers showed for dat...* he mused sadly.
Then it dawned upon his pain-fogged mind ... if he knew these
things about her, then ...
Icy fear gripped his heart. His dread multiplied as he heard
someone approach -- it had to be Reine.
And it was.
"Remy?" There were tears in her voice.
He didn't answer, already steeling himself for what was to
"Come on, I know you're awake..."
He turned his head away in his shame.
"Please...petit frère, regarde-moi..." 1 Reine
She put her hand under his jaw, and turned his head to face
her. His cheeks were wet with the tears that had seeped past
his closed eyelids. This was it, he thought numbly. The string
had played out at last.
*Not'ing more t' do but get it over with...*
Bracing himself as best he could, he opened his eyes, resigning
himself to face the hatred he so richly deserved...
But it never came.
Instead, his empathic sense was swamped -- not by disgust
nor by loathing -- but by pain she felt for him,
for what he had endured in his disgrace; her anger and guilt
because she had not been there to help him with his burden;
and dwarfing all of these ... her love for him.
Remy choked back a sob as his sister pulled him up into a
sitting position, and threw her arms around him. He clung
to her as if he were drowning, and her tears soaked his chest.
"Je pensais que ... que tu m'aurais haï ..." 2
he choked out, his throat constricted by emotion.
"Oh Remy ... ne dis pas ça ... ne dis jamais
ça ..."3 she said fiercely, holding him still
"Après ce que j'ai fait?"4 his self-loathing
clear in his voice.
"It wasn't you, Remy."
Reluctantly, Reine broke their embrace, and reached up, holding
his face between her hands. She looked into his eyes intently.
"The boy who did that doesn't exist anymore, brother.
He died that night. You've grown up. You are not the same
"Mais ... no matter how I try ... I can' get away from
de past ..."
"No more than I can -- or than anyone else can. The
past is a part of you; but it is not who or what you
She released his face, and grasped his hands instead before
she continued to speak, determined to get through to him.
"There's a Japanese word -- kage -- it means
'shadow', but it refers to personality... The idea is that
it's the shadows -- the tragedies -- of a person's life that
define the light -- the good -- and give it balance... I know
what you did, and what you've done since. I'm telling you
Remy, you've been so busy brooding over the shadows, you don't
notice the light anymore... but it's there."
His eyes still held doubt, but there was something else --
hope. She sighed.
"Remy, if that nightmare hadn't happened, where would
you be now?"
"I ... I don' know ..."
"I do. You would be lifting a Caravaggio from the Uffizi
in Florence for fun and profit, being careful to never stick
your neck out for anyone or anything -- unless you
could get something out of it and the price was right -- and
not giving a damn about who you hurt in the process. Tell
me I'm wrong."
"Je ne peux pas ..."5 he admitted, his
voice barely audible.
"That's my point -- as horrible as it was, some good
came out of it. It made you who you are now. The person
who saved Sarah ... and Storm ... and Belle ... was born that
A slight smile crossed his lips.
"Ain' no winnin' an argument wit' you, chère."
"About time you realized that," she said, as she
leaned forward to hug him again.
Their exertions in the Danger Room had worn out the both
of them physically. Now, the emotional overload which both
of them had experienced had finished the job -- they were
"I don't know about you, but morale-building makes me
sleepy, and I don't feel like getting up. Mind if I bunk with
"Non. but there's one t'ing..." Remy stretched
out before settling himself under the covers, making room
"Hmm?" she muttered sleepily, curling up next to
"Snore, an' you're on de floor."
Continued in Chapter
1. ...little brother, look at me.
2. I thought that ... that you would hate me.
3. ...don't say that...don't ever say that.
4. After what I've done?
5. I can't.
"All warfare is based on deception."
-- Sun-Tzu, The Art of War
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