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"Smoke and Mirrors"

Smoke and Mirrors

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19

Do I really have to put this disclaimer every time? All characters belong to Marvel, and are not used to make me a profit. Don't use them to make you a profit. Look left and right before crossing a road. Archive and distribute freely! If you do so, please credit me and don't change anything.
Drop me a line if you feel so inclined, any flames will be treated with the respect they deserve and placed in file 13. Criticism is welcome! Continuity mistakes? Well ... this is not necessarily the true story, (eg. Storm was a child when Gambit found her) although I have tried to stick as close to the comics as possible. By the way, there is no PG-13 Stuff in here - it's all clean. Carpe fabulam! Seize the story!
P.S. Thanks to Bobbi J. Gorden for the description of Jean-Luc LeBeau. Thanks to Karolina K. Phillips (again) for telling me Rogue's favorite ice cream. (It's pieces of information like that I love!)

Part 3

It was rain ... again. But he didn't care. He stood on the threshold of destiny. His destiny.

He looked up at his creations, metal behemoths standing guard over his innocuous barnyard.

The sky cried, large drops falling on the burnished metal, and rolling down to form puddles on the earth. He smiled. This was his destiny. The destiny of Bolivar Trask.

The television flicked on in the apartment.

"Another anti-mutant riot exploded in the center of town today; injuring several people and killing two mutants.... "


"Let me tell you, Larry, these mutants have gone too far now. Soon there will be no more humans...."


"We given the whole world a taste of what an organised humanity can do, will do ... "


"What did the Mutant Shapeshifter do when he walked down the road?"

"He turned into a shop.... "


"They're a menace, a menace to society ... "


"Please sir, I'm just a harmless mutant, I never meant to burn down your building. It was an accident.... "


76 Channels and all of them broadcasting the same thing.

"You said WHAT?!" Rogue yelled.

"Calm down, Rogue. I just said that Gambit was leaving." Bobby Drake shrunk away from the angry woman. "Why are you so mad about it?"

"No reason, Drake. Just the fact that he didn't have the decency to come an' tell me himself. "

"I don't blame him." Iceman muttered.

"What was that?"


"Shure didn't sound like nothin' t'me."

She was really upset, he thought, her accent had become thicker than ever. There, unfortunately, could only be one explanation for that. Rogue had done exactly what he had advised her not to do.

"Don't take it out on me. I only bring the bad' news, not create it."

"It's that cajun jerk's fault. Ah shoulda never trusted him."

"You trusted him?"

"Ye ... No! He said that he'd stay."

"For a week. A week's over now."

"Ah know. Ah just thought ... Ah mean Ah hoped ... "

"That he'd stay? Forget it. He doesn't belong here. I know it. He knows it. And you know it too."

"Then Ah don't belong here neither."

"Don't even attempt to equate yourself with him, Rogue."

"Are ya blind? Don't ya see how sim'lar we are?"

"You're completely different. Despite everything, you haven't lost your soul."

"But ... how do you know that?"

"I can see that you still have something inside, that you still care.But Rogue, Gambit's eyes are completely hollow. He's lost everything he ever cared about, and he doesn't care anymore."

"Then perhaps, just perhaps, it's up ta us t'give him something back ... "

"Au Revoir, Stormy." Gambit opened the door to Storm's room.

"Remy?! Did your mother never teach you to knock?" She looked annoyed.

"Never had a mother, chere."

She sighed, "Anyway, you were saying?"

"I came to say goodbye."

"So soon?"

"Oui. My week is up. I must move on."

"You do realise you can stay here?"

"I know - I t'ink dat perhaps it be better if I go.... " He smiled, "Fearless leader has been havin' a bad case of insomnia wit' me around."

"Is that your real reason?"

"Non. Just de witty rejoinder."

"Would it hurt you to be serious for one minute?"

"Don' know - never tried it."

"Have you said goodbye to everyone else?"

"Oui, cept for Rogue."

"Why not her?"

"Don' wan' an argument about dis. She be one persuasive femme."

"Then it is a pity you will not talk to her, my friend. Perhaps she could dissuade you from going?"

"Stormy.... "

"Do not call me that ridiculous name! Storm is sufficent."

"I don' wan' t'go - but I must."

"Why? Have you been on the run so long that you have forgotten what it is like to have a home; people who care about you?"

"Chere, please. Dis is hard for me, but don' y'see I don't belong here? Dese people are good at heart, noble - I'm jus' a t'ief."

"If your heart was really as evil as you claim, you would have left me to the mercies of the Shadow King."

"Nobody ever dat evil."

"You would be surprised."

There was an uncomfortable moment of silence.

"Don't you want a chance to stand for something more? To forge a better tomorrow? To fight for a dream?"

"Dreams die, chere. I know dat from personal experience."

"Only when people give up on them, Remy. It is not often that I ask anything of a person, and I am asking you now: please stay. Not only for your sake, but for mine.

"I will try. For your sake. But I promise not'ing."

"That in itself is a start." She kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you, my friend."

"Now, let's not get all misty-eyed here, Stormy. I might not stay."

"You will, but in the end it will be more for you than me."

Gambit laughed. "Peut-etre, chere, peut-etre."

I still intended t'leave, of course. Weren't no arguments could dissuade me from dat. I would just postpone my departure by a few weeks. Enough t'make Stormy happy. Enough t'make Rogue smile.

She never did. Dat femme walked around like she had de world on her shoulders and den some.

Didn' seem t'have many friends neither. Jus' Iceman, reckoned Drake was de only one wit' any taste. I seemed t'fit in easier, my being de rescuer of Storm helped dat. Dey never trusted me, but dey accepted me. An' for de first time in de longest time, I felt dat perhaps I'd come home....

"You're stayin' then." Rogue said, walking into the room where he was sitting.

"Oui, chere. I decided dat it be better if I wait a little longer b'fore goin'." Gambit took a draw of his cigarette.

"Disgustin' habit that."

"Smokin', chere?"

"Yeah. Do you realise exactly what is in a cigarette?"

"If I did, I would probably give smokin' up."

"Then why do you do it?"

"It relaxes me."

Her lips twisted in an odd manner. "You'll look very relaxed lyin' in yer coffin."

He stubbed it out on the ash-tray.


"Much. Pity about all the smoke." She coughed.

"We can go outside."

"Good idea, b'fore Ah suffocate ta death. Anyway, Ah need t'talk to you."

" Bout what?" Gambit followed her outside. It was a beautiful night, crisp and clean with a star-sprinkled sky. The last remnants of the clouds were gone, and the moon was almost full, casting a silver glow over the garden.

"Ah love nights like this." She hugged herself, pretending not to have heard the question. "Usually go flyin' on them."

"You said you wanted to talk to me.... "

"Ah did. How come aren't you goin' any more?"

"Storm asked me to stay."

"You still haven't answered my question. Why did you decide t'listen t'her?"

"Many reasons, chere. Not de least of which is de fact dat I wanted to stay here with you."

Her eyes were angry, a little puzzled.

"Ah don't like t'be made fun of, cajun."

"Didn't want t'make fun of you. Jus' being ... "


"Call it dat if y'like. But it's not de truth."

"You're confusing, Remy LeBeau. An' Ah'm not sure of Ah trust you."

He remained silent, searching the stars for an answer; a witty riposte; any words to bridge the gap between them. None came. Impulsively, in a gesture of friendship, he took her gloved hand in his.

"Don't you get it yet?" She shook her hand free and turned to face him. "You can't touch me; you never will be able to touch me."

"Dat don't matter to me. I want t'be your friend. Hoped you felt de same way."

"Ah hoped Ah did too - but Ah don't."

"Pity." Slowly, he turned around and walked indoors. Rogue sat down, her eyes fixed at the icy stars, which gradually began to blur.

"Ah want t'be more, Sugah." She whispered. "But Ah can't."

"Mom ... " The scream tore the night in two.

"Alan! Come! Oh my god, no! No! "

"Maria, what is it?"

"It's Benjy - he's...he's ... "

"Oh my sweet Lord.... "

"Last night, in a violent attack seemingly perpetrated by a mutant, a seven-year old boy was critically injured." The radio crackled. "He is being operated upon in the Sister of Mercy Hospital but it is still uncertain whether he shall live or die."

Cyclops flicked it off, "Great. More bad press for mutants, as if we didn't have enough already."

"That poor kid." Jean said sympathetically. "His poor parents."

"What about poor mutantkind? You can guarantee that every mutant will pay for this, except the ones who did it."

"Scott." She put her arms around him, "I know the current situation is ... hard on you, but don't let it get you down. Sure we're fighting racism, speciesism', any -isms's' you care to think of, but we can't lose sight of the most important -ism - optimism."

"Quoting aphorisms won't help us on the battlefield."

"If you think it's just an aphorism, you've lost sight of what Xavier first believed in - Hope."

"Sometimes I think Xavier has lost sight of his own dream."

"Scott ... we've discussed this ad nauseum." Jean's voice sounded annoyed.

"I know, honey. It's just that ... I don't know... I don't like the current direction the team is taking."

"Truth be told; nor do I. But, then I ask myself, has Xavier ever been wrong before?"

"No. But there's always a first time for everything."

"Scott! It is impossible to reason with you when you persist in being such a cynic."

"Okay, okay! I will stop being such a cynic and pay attention to my beautiful girl-friend when she tries to convince me that everything will turn out okay in the end."

"About this girl-friend thing ... "


"Isn't it about time that we ... "

"Hello, Scotty, Jean. Everyone's favorite bouncing blue-furred Beast has arrived, as hirsuite and hungry as ever." Henry McCoy bounded into the kitchen. "So without any confusion or circumlocution, Let's eat!"

"The bowls are in the cupboard, help yourself." Jean passed him the box of cornflakes.

"Thank you." Beast poured the cereal into the bowl.

"You look cheerful today, Beast. What's the occasion?" Scott asked.

"Am I that depressed; that angst-ridden; that when I enter a room with a cheerful countenance, people presume that something special is happening?" Beast put a look of mock indignation on his face, "Apart from the fact that I have a date with the charming, and multi-talented Tish Tilby that is."

"How is Tish?"

"In perfect health."


"Mornin' Red. Mornin' Cyke." Wolverine entered the room, his face in its customary scowl.

"Logan! You're back!"

"Yeah. Pass the cornflakes."

"How did the trip go?"


"Don't we feel monosyllabic today?" Beast said.

"The cajun's still here?" Wolverine ignored the comment.

"Yes. He decided to stay for a while longer."

"The sooner he goes, the better. His smell is familiar - a bad familiar."

"What do you mean?" Cyclops was curious.

"I mean I've smelt it someplace before, bub. Someplace bad. Wish I could remember where."

"I have a feeling there's more to be learnt about our Mr LeBeau than he lets on." Jean said.

Scott nodded, agreeing with the red-haired telepath. "Perhaps it is better we keep him here under surveillance, and prevent him from becoming a potential threat; than having him go rogue, pun not intended, elsewhere."

"Good-day, y'all." Rogue entered the room, yawning.

"Speak of the deviless." Logan muttered.

<<Wolverine! Be nice!>>
<<It's a saying, Jeannie.>>
<<Not in the way you meant it.>>

"Is Remy here?"

"No - I'm afraid I have seen neither hide nor hair of our multi-lingual, loquacious comrade." Beast said, "He seems not to be enamoured by all times ante meridiem."

"English, Beast?" Everyone chorused.

"He isn't a morning's person."

"You couldn't have said that, bub?" Wolverine mumbled.

"If you want a one word answer - icouldhavebutididn't."

"Why are you looking for him anyway?" Cyclops asked suspiciously.

"I need t'talk to him."

"Oh." A telepathic nudge by Jean cautioned him against further inquiry.

<<Scott, you're their leader, NOT their father.>>
<<I know, but I don't trust either of them ... together, I trust them even less.>>

"So, Ah'll just get breakfast and be off." Rogue finished.

Jean smiled reassuringly, "Have some Alpha-bits."

"With swirled Marshmellow numbers, in two fabulous flavours." Beast put on his advertiser's voice. "Buy yours today and be the envy of every kid on the block."

"Ah'll stick t'muesli - if y'all don't mind." She sat down and pulled a bowl towards her. "Much healthier ... "

"But less status-enhancing!" Beast interrupted.

"Mah status is fine, Hank." Rogue teased, "But your colon on the other hand.... "

"Leave my colon out of this."

Breakfast passed quickly after that, but finally Rogue stood up.

"Ah must go now. Thanks foh breakfast."

"Our pleasure." Jean elbowed Cyclops who managed a sickly smile.


She walked out of the room, smiling and thinking that perhaps today would be brighter.

He slept, haunted by his memories as they flashed past in a slide-show of his life, mirrored in his dreams. Him as a child, standing by his father'. Him tithing for the first time to Candra. Him fighting Julien to the death.Him standing beside his bride on their wedding day, and by her grave three years later. Him undergoing the initiation into the guild laid out in the Tracts of Passage. Him holding Genevieve in his arms as she died. Him learning the first lesson of thievery: never give your heart away if you want to survive. The visions carried on, increasing in darkness as they passed through his conciousness. Paris. St. Louis. Seattle.... He woke in a cold sweat, looking around the normality of the room. He was safe. But for how long? A knock on the door. He stood up. He'd slept fully clothed, too tired to change.

"Come in?"

A pair of green eyes met his, sparkling with vitality and exuberance, uncorrupted in their emerald purity.

"Ah hoped you'd be in here."

"Rogue? What d'you want?"

"Y'all sure know how ta make a lady feel welcome."

"Sorry." He swept a shirt off the chair. "Sit."

"Thanks." She did as he suggested.

"So? Not dat it isn't a pleasure to have a beautiful woman in my room, but what d'you need me for?"

"Ah came to say Ah'm sorry."

" Bout what, chere?"

" Bout last night. Ah didn't mean what Ah said. In retrospect, Ah guess Ah was just upset."


"So, we're friends?"

"Course, chere."

"Good." Her lips curved into a sunny smile. "Now, Ah'll let y'all get changed."

She exited the room, closing the door behind her. Gambit stood for a long while watching the spot where she last had been, and wondering about the possibility which had gradually begun to take root and grow in his mind.

De past dey say is prologue; if you do not know the sins of your past, you are doomed t'repeat dem. Fine words; beautiful words; deep words. But when it come right down to it, jus' empty words. Your past is part of you; good or evil. It is de only t'ing you can never change - no matter how much ya wish ya could. How much I wish I could.

"Voleur! Tu n'as pas pay‚ pour ces pommes."
[Thief! You have not paid for those apples]

The little boy ran down the alleyway, pushing people out of the way in his desperation to escape.

"Arretez cet garcon!" The merchant screamed, pursuing him.
[Stop that boy!]

He ran, clutching his stolen fruit close to him; glancing behind him every few seconds to ascertain whether the merchant had caught up with him.

"Oomph." The boy stopped short, he'd run into what seemed to be a brick-wall. It was a man, about 6"1 and handsome. He was dressed in an impeccable tailored suit, obviously rich.

"Ou allez-vous, petit voleur?"
[Where are you going, little thief?]

"Monsieur, je doit echapper, cet homme a cru que j'ai vol‚ ses pommes."
[Mr. I must escape, that man thought that I stole his apples]

"C'est vrai?"
[It's true?]

"Non - il a tort!" The boy looked offended.
[No - he's wrong!]

"Donc, bon." The man had an amused look on his face. "Je parlerai avec il."
[Okay then] [I'll speak with him]

The merchant had caught up with them, his face was red from exertion and he was panting.

"Monsieur. Merci, vous avez attrap‚ cet ... voleur."
[Sir, thank you. You caught that ... thief]

"Ca ne fait rien - mais il est seul un garcon - je payerai pour il."
[That's fine - but he's just a boy - I'll pay for him]

"Merci, monsieur ... ?"
[Thank you, Mr ... ?]

"LeBeau. Jean-Luc LeBeau."

"Mais je dois parler aux agents du police."
[But I must talk to the policemen]

"Non. Je crois que vous devriez oublier tout." He slipped a crisp $100 bill into the merchant's hand.
[No. I think\believe that you should forget everything]

"Bon." The merchant laughed. "C'est bon."
[Good] [It is good]

He walked slowly back down the alley-way, fingering the note in his pocket.

"Cochon." M. LeBeau snorted contemptously.


"Oui, petit?"
[Yes, little one?]

"Pouquoi avez-vous pay‚ pour moi?"
[Why did you pay for me?]

"Ah, mais ce n'a pas libre."
[Ah, but it wasn't for free]


"Tu doit venir … chez moi."
[You must come home with me.]


"Pour manger, et peut-etre, boire." The older man smiled. "Comment t'appelle tu?"
[To eat, and perhaps, to drink] [What is your name?]

"M'sieu ... je n'ai pas un nom."
[Mister ... I don't have a name.]

"Bizarre. Je te doit appeler quelque-chose."
[Odd. I must call you something]

"M'sieu peut choisir."
[Mister can choose]

"Mmmm ... je t'appelle Remy - c'est le nom de mon pere. Un bon nom, je crois."
[Mmmm ... I will call you Remy - the name of my father. A good name, I think]

"Oui, M'sieu. Je m'appelerai Remy depuis."
[Yes, sir. I will call myself Remy from now on.]

"Bon." He began walking down the street, and gestured for the young boy to follow him.

I looked around de room; at de glamour and glister dat Jean-Luc leBeau called home; Dat I soon would call home. Oddly enough, only one t'ought passed t'rough my mind - dese people had money. I soon would learn dat it wasn't clean money, made wit' hard work, but money stolen from de worker. Guess I shoulda questioned how right it was at sometime, but I never did, still don't.

To be a t'ief was as natural t'me as breathing. Perhaps dat was why I soon rose t'rough de guild ranks, passin' from apprentice, to student, and den came de time for my initiation; de final test b'fore I could call m'self Master T'ief.'...

"You ready for de pinch, mon frere?" Henri looked at his younger brother with consternation. He was so young, so inexperienced and yet showed unbelievable skill.

"Course, Henri. I be ready for it since poppa told us about dis mission." Remy smiled, and lit a cigarette

"You have de details den?"

"Gotta steal l'Etoile de Tricherie from a femme, Genevieve Darceneaux, for de guild. Oui, I know."

"Your bravado does not impress me, Remy. Dis is a serious matter. De pinch is not a game."

"Ah, but it is ... "

"You get caught and de guild doesn't know you. Mon pere doesn't know you."

"I unnerstand. But I won't get caught."

'Arrogant.' Henri thought, Experience will soon change that!'

"Den I don' have much t'say, but good luck."

"When Remy plays de game, luck has not'ing t'do wit' it."

"Meet you in a cafe dans les Champs Elysees?"

"Bon. Au Revoir."

"Au Revoir."

Remy melted into the background, leaving Henri behind to shake his head and offer a prayer to the Patron Saint of Thieves on behalf of his impetuous younger brother.

He heard her scream, a sound that spilt the peace of the Parisien night. Instantly, he reacted, running in that direction. He saw her then, Genevieve Darceneaux, trapped by a monster.

"Monsieur Chatton...?" He attempted to put as much courage into his voice as possible.

The head of the man-beast whipped around. Remy had the impression of fangs, fur and teeth; all combined into something of which Darwin had never dreamed.

"Get away if you don't want to be gutted, pup - this isn't your concern."

"Au contraire - when someone threatens a beautiful woman, it is very much my concern."

"Bad move. Ever wonder why all heroes die young?" He bared his teeth; sharp, razor-like fangs curving into his mouth.

"You may have de teeth, monsieur, but I have de bite." Remy's hand glowed momentarily. "Get away from de woman, if y'don' want t'see how sharp it is."

The man-beast looked at him in disgust, before turning around.

"You win ... this time. But I'll be back and next time, you won't be so lucky " The man-beast slunk away into the shadows. The young man breathed out in relief, and wiped the sweat off his forehead.

"Mademoiselle, are you all right?" He extended a hand to the woman.

"Thanks to you." She took it and stood up. Her hand was small and perfectly formed, with almond shaped nails painted a delicate pink. She looked fragile with wispy, copper hair and huge chestnut eyes. One could hardly believe she was the daughter of a infamous jewel thief; a thief herself; the one from whom he had to steal.

"Can I see you home?" He asked, a polite veneer covering baser motives.

"Thank you. I would appreciate it greatly - as you see the streets of Paris are not safe for a single woman any more." Her calm tone belied her physical appearance.

They walked off together into the mist which hung over Paris like so much smoke.

Genevieve fell in love wit' me - it was inevitable dat in de course of our walks and dates, she would. It was part of my plan. Lookin' back, I t'ink dat I took de most precious t'ing in de world an' turned it against her; turned somet'ing wonderful into a weapon. I now know how she must have felt about me, it's much de same way I feel about de woman I love. Perhaps ... if hadn't been for dat night, I could have forgiven myself. She had fallen asleep in my arms, after a night of dancing and clubbing. Silently, I covered her wit' de blanket and took l'Etoile de Tricherie. Like an amateur, or perhaps someone who had never been betrayed, she had left it on de dresser. She had never realised dat I wasn't who I said. I left de apartment by de window, and was away over the rooftops, before she woke up, her eyes frightened and a scream frozen on her lips.

Darkness. Her eyes blinked open. Where was she? Light as the blindfold was ripped off, and instantaneously she wished it hadn't been. She was suspended 100 feet above the ground; at the highest point of Notre Dame. Steeling herself against the bile she felt rising in her throat, she looked around. Nearby, a man hung in a similar predicament. He was tall and plump with a moustache. Tears began to stream down her cheeks and the same words drummed through her mind, a fervent prayer. "Lord, let Remy come. Lord, let Remy come."

She almost believed in miracles when she saw him standing there.

"Monsieur Chatton?" He looked afraid; his voice had lost its cocky edge, despite the brave words. "Let dem go."

"Throw me the bauble, then I will. Of course, I catch with my right hand, so I'll have to drop them."

"You would kill for jewellery? But ... to me, it was just a game." He whispered more to himself than anyone else.

"And I just raised the ante. Sorry, kid."

Remy threw the pendant, and it fell at the captor's feet.

"Your move."

Genevieve felt her heart stop, Remy would choose her over the man. She trusted his love for her enough to believe he would. The man-beast dropped the rope, and she fell. Her eyes filled with bitter tears, because the last sight she ever saw was Remy's hand clutching the rope of the man.

I had no choice. Blood over the woman I didn't I love. Perhaps I could have left it at dat an' moved on - but for de last words Genevieve ever spoke. "I loved you, Remy - had you asked I would have given you the Cheating Star. Why take what someone will give?"

Den I wonder why I never saw de simplicity of it before ... perhaps I was too lost in de smoke and mirrors.


Continued in Chapter 4.

Monsieur Chatton - Mr Kitten (I always felt Marvel should have translated that one!)


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