Jean walked toward the home she shared with her husband,
weary but elated. The long hours she and Betsy had spent with
Gambit and his sister had paid off. Not only were he and Reine
now fully competent with their own psi abilities, but the
theories which had been formulated about the twins' mysterious
joint power had been proven to be largely correct.
That first contact had been disconcerting, to say the least.
While between them, Gambit and Riposte were part of a single
psionic presence, Jean's query had been answered by two
psionic voices -- in unison. The Professor, Phoenix thought
with a pang, would have been fascinated ...
The twins' united mind remained fully aware of its components
-- which was why it -- they? -- had separated upon her probing
after the accident in the Danger Room. They -- it? -- had
realized that she had wanted to contact Remy specifically,
and there was no longer a threat to be dealt with.
That was an unexpected discovery -- the linking was
apparently purely instinctive when the two of them were somehow
* Talk about a survival mechanism ... *
After their initial merging, Gambit and Reine had had no
idea what happened, and were consequently too disoriented
to realize there was no further threat -- which was why they
had remained in a joined state until she had frantically scanned
for them. Otherwise, as they had discovered during the course
of the day, the linked state could only be maintained if both
twins willed it so. If not, and if there was no danger to
be faced, the single consciousness simply separated into its
component parts. Unlike the aftermath of their initial merging
and separation, the twins remained fully conscious, but complained
of headaches afterward. As best as Hank could figure, Remy's
and Riposte's loss of consciousness that day in the Danger
Room had been due to the sheer physiological shock of the
first use of their power. Beast was of the opinion that repeated
use would eliminate even the headaches in due course.
Interestingly, their single mind was as just as aware of
their physical presences -- their bodies -- as of their separate
minds -- much like anyone might be aware of their left and
right hands. More, the shared consciousness retained the twins'
basic personality traits, in addition to their cumulative
memories and life experiences ...
Not to mention a degree of psionic power the like of which
Jean had never even imagined, let alone experienced. Thankfully,
Psylocke's surmise about individual lessons in the control
of their powers being reinforced in their united mental state
had been correct. Under the circumstances, potential "accidents"
were almost impossible, and everyone in the mansion would
sleep more soundly for that knowledge.
It was too bad that Reine had no interest in joining the
team, Jean mused to herself. As well as adding her own explosive
firepower, her and Remy's combined ability would give them
enough mutant energy "muscle" to handle just about
anything. Then, of course, there was the mellowing effect
Reine had on her brother. With any luck, maybe that
would linger after she was gone ...
Powers aside, Remy and his sister had become very close over
the course of her stay, and Jean suspected that it would be
difficult for him once she left. Granted, the man had been
without a family for most of his life -- but after finding
Reine, letting her go, even temporarily, would be hard. At
least Gambit would still have Ororo as a confidante -- she
would be a help once Reine resumed her travels. And after
all, it wasn't as if the twins would never see each other
Amazing how similar they were, considering their backgrounds
were totally different (as far as she could gather). Hank
had begun debating the nature versus nurture theory for comic
relief whenever either Reine or Remy was in earshot. Jean
was sure the story of how they had come to grow up separately
was an interesting one, but neither twin was forthcoming with
details of their lives.
Phoenix sighed as she climbed the porch steps.
* Maybe in time, they'll come to trust us ... *
She opened the door, and found Scott waiting for her. While
Jean had spent the day with the twins, he had been in Washington,
taking up the reins of the lobby movement for mutant rights.
"Long day again, sweetheart ... did it go well?"
She smiled as he hugged her.
"Did it ever ... is that mulled wine I smell?"
"I thought you might want to unwind ... after rubbing
shoulders with greasy politicos all day, I know I do ... and
I'll bet you forgot to eat dinner again, because you were
too preoccupied with Gambit and Riposte's training session
Jean started, guilty.
"I really wasn't that hungry ..." she said lamely.
It was a lie of course -- Cyclops knew his wife. When her
expertise was needed by others, she was likely to forget her
own most basic needs. Jean was considerate almost to a fault,
and that was one of the many reasons he loved her.
Scott sighed melodramatically.
"What would you ever manage to do without me? Have a
seat, honey ... I'll bring you dinner, and you can bring me
up to date on just what it is we're dealing with when it comes
to the twins."
"Thank you, darling ... have I told you what a wonderful
husband you are today?"
"Flatterer," he replied, kissing her forehead.
"Just don't expect me to do windows..."
It was a quiet night -- a good time for contemplation.
Rogue was lying in bed, thinking over the events of the past
few weeks. Things had definitely changed since Reine had entered
the mansion. After they had gotten over the shock of her mere
existence, most of the others had done their best to make
Gambit's sister feel welcome, including herself. Part of that
urge was simple politeness, but another was thinly veiled
curiosity. There was so much that they still didn't know about
Remy -- Rogue smiled ruefully -- that not even she knew
about Remy -- and they had hoped that observing his twin might
give them some shred of information about their teammate.
And Rogue almost knew more about him than she wanted to ...
she had had a shadowed glimpse of something horrible from
his past, from their kiss in Israel. Even now, she could taste
his shame and self-loathing from his memories like bitter
* Nevah would have known a man that looks so sure of hisself
all the time could hate himself so much ...*
Instinctively, she had turned away from him, realizing that
if what he had done was so bad he couldn't handle it,
it was unlikely that she could. At least that's what she had
told herself ... but later she had come to realize she hadn't
told herself at all -- Remy had.a
It was another part of her power that she couldn't control.
After touching someone, she not only absorbed their powers
and their memories, but part of their mentality as well ...
and it was Remy's own psyche within her, sure that he didn't
deserve her, that had driven her away in Seattle.
That should have warned her off for real, and for
a time it had. Best to stay away from him, the man's got enough
baggage to kill a string of mules -- and it's ugly
baggage at that ...
Maddeningly, it didn't change her feelings. And frankly,
Joseph wasn't helping matters any -- she was confused, to
say the least.
She had thought that spending some time with Reine might
alleviate that confusion. After all, Riposte was so much like
her brother it wasn't to be believed ...
* Surely, Ah can find something to help me make up mah mind
* she had thought.
No such luck ... until the eighth day of Reine's stay. Rogue
had visited the twins while they were isolated (or incarcerated,
as Reine had grumbled) in the medlab. At that point, she and
the others had had only the vaguest notion of what had really
happened in the Danger Room, and Rogue had noticed a difference
in the two siblings.
Reine had always made joking references to the responsibilities
of being the elder sister, down to the simple term of endearment
she used with Gambit -- but it somehow seemed as if she wasn't
really kidding anymore. Where she had always been quite friendly
before, Reine was decidedly cool toward Rogue then, and Riposte
seemed even more attentive -- no, protective -- toward
Remy than usual. As for Gambit -- he seemed to carry himself
a little straighter, like a heavy weight had come off his
* Or his soul ... *
Later, when it was discovered that there was some sort of
psi power held between the twins, Rogue's curiosity had been
piqued, wondering if Reine had had a glimpse of Remy's secret.
After the shopping trip yesterday, Rogue didn't have to wonder
After passing through every designer boutique in sight in
leisurely detail, and making what had to be a serious dent
in their credit limits, Rogue and Reine had stopped for coffee
in a small, elegant café. They had been idly chatting about
some of their purchases, which was why Rogue was completely
unprepared for Reine's question.
"Rogue, do you love my brother?"
Startled, she had almost spilled her coffee.
Reine was watching her intently. Behind the dark lenses of
Riposte's sunglasses, her garnet eyes were boring into Rogue's.
"Ah believe that's between Remy and mahself ..."
she had stiffly replied.
Reine grinned, but there was no humour behind it.
"Not quite ... I'm new at this family thing, but I'll
tell you this much about it: it makes you do things you never
would do otherwise," she paused, sipping her coffee contemplatively.
"Remy is the only family I have, and he means everything
to me. If you love him, then do something about it. If not,
let him go. And in any case, quit jerking his chain."
"Ah have not ..." she had started to reply,
in a quiet, heated voice, but Reine interrupted her calmly.
"I'm not going to argue with you. I'm asking now because
I do like you, Rogue. But in any conflict between the
two of you, as far as I'm concerned, he wins every time. Do
you understand me?"
"You know what happened, don't you?" Rogue asked
"Let's just say that Remy and I don't have many secrets
from each other."
"Well, he has some that he's keepin' from me."
"Touché. Yes or no?"
"Ah ... Ah cain't say..." she stammered hesitantly.
Reine regarded her briefly, as if making some kind of evaluation,
then nodded her head slightly in decision. When she spoke
again, it was to mention a lovely emerald parure they had
seen at Van Cleef and Arpels, and Reine didn't return to her
original subject after that. Although she had been
noticeably more friendly for the rest of the afternoon.
Rogue knew that she had been given a warning -- a friendly,
almost apologetic one, but a warning nonetheless. The gist
of it was clear enough, though -- mess with him, and you
mess with me.
She continued to stare up at the ceiling, considering ...
It had been some time since there had been a decent rain
in the area -- local farmers were starting to worry a little.
Fortunately for them, their problem would be over this very
After an evening of cloud-walking, Ororo Munroe alighted
in her room at the mansion with a small smile. Perhaps she
no longer had a following as a goddess, but she still wasn't
above granting favours from the heavens. As she willed, a
fine rain had begun to fall as soon as she had entered her
* The crops will do well this year, I believe ...*
Readying herself for sleep, she couldn't help but hum contentedly
as she gave her thoughts free rein. She always felt marvelous
after communing with the Goddess this way -- renewed -- so
pure, so free.
Freedom was a precious thing indeed ... her mind wandered
back to the previous night.
Remy had taken her to a restaurant in the middle of Greenwich
Village, which she had never even heard of, and Ororo had
thought that she knew the area reasonably well.
"Dere's a reason you ain' heard of it, chère,"
he had grinned.
"One time a reviewer said de place had no décor, an'
the owner was so mad about it, he forbid anybody t' mention
his place by name -- in print that is -- ever again."b
"Surely you are joking, my friend ..."
"Not at all, Stormy -- you goin' t' love it, décor and
all. Dat reviewer prob'ly couldn't find his ass wit' both
hands. Great food, an' I ain' kidding when I say they got
everyt'ing on the menu."
Her curiosity was whetted by that statement, and Remy was
as good as his word. First of all, Storm was at a loss for
words to describe the look of the place -- a cross between
hippie coffee shop, old-fashioned hardware store, and biker
bar -- except whimsically captivating. And the menu! It was
practically a book, with countless different cuisines represented.
She had ordered a dish of vegetarian couscous, while Remy
had Mexican chicken stew, and as he had promised, the food
was delicious. They had lingered for a time over dessert,
Ororo had always been an observant woman -- she had detected
a change in her friend ever since the discovery of the power
he shared with his sister. She had wondered about it -- especially
since it was a psychic power. She, more than almost anyone
else on the team, knew that Gambit harboured a past of which
he was ashamed -- a past which he rejected, and vigilantly
guarded from them all, especially telepaths. Although she
had met him while she was a child, even then, she could detect
the weight of shame hanging over him. A weight which seemed
to have dissipated as of late ...
Remy was in excellent humour, telling her of some of the
pranks he and Reine had devised during their time in the lab,
hoping to annoy Hank into discharging them earlier (although
to no avail). Once she had managed to stop laughing, she reached
over the table, taking his hand in her own.
"I am happy for you my friend -- Reine has been very
good for you."
"You ain' kiddin' ... sometimes, de way she makes me
feel ... it's like I could fly, almost."
Ororo raised an eyebrow in surprise.
Remy thought for a moment, choosing his words carefully.
"Ev'ry time I been flying -- wit' you, with Rogue, wit'
anyone -- I get a bit jealous. When you're able t' fly, you're
just so free, like dere ain' nobody or not'ing in the
world could drag you down ..."
He paused briefly before finishing in a quiet voice.
" ... Reine, she made me free."
Remy said nothing more on the subject, and she knew better
than to press him. She simply squeezed his hand gently in
reply and smiled.
Looking back, Storm was certain that whatever Remy was hiding,
his sister knew about it -- and whatever it was, it had brought
the siblings closer together, letting Remy move on with his
own life, away from the history he despised. It was a journey
he had just begun, and was not yet near completion, but it
was a start.
* Perhaps one day soon, he will confide in us ... she has
broken the chains of his memories for him. Goddess willing,
we may help him to fully walk out into the light ... *
Continued in Chapter
a. This is a thought that I shamelessly adopted (read: "stole")
from Poisonhart's post-publication vent about UXM #350, and
I think she has a lot of excellent ideas and opinions voiced
there. Check it out on her "Ace of Spades -- Ragin' Cajun
-- I recommend it.
b. This story is quite true, and the restaurant does exist
-- I read about it in an interview with Calvin Trillin about
a year or two ago. I haven't been there, and I don't know
where it is exactly (except in Greenwich Village) or what
it's called. But descriptions of the menu and the funky décor
are pretty much lifted from my memory of that article. If
anyone does know about this place, let me know. I'm not likely
to go to New York any time soon, but if I ever do, this is
a place I want to check out :-)
"All warfare is based on deception."
-- Sun-Tzu, The Art of War
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