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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

Disclaimer: All characters belong to Marvel and are not used by me to make a profit. This story therefore cannot be used by anyone (except Marvel) to make them a profit. Archive and distribute freely on the following conditions:
1) Thou shalt not change a single word
2) Thou shalt credit me
3) Thou shalt send me an e-mail, if thou wishest!
The story is completely clean and contains no graphic or explicit scenes of any nature. Just bad accents! Remember to enjoy the story in between the angsty bits. I know I enjoyed writing it! Send any criticisms, comments and contributions (just kidding with the last one) to yours truly at

Part 9

Her eyes blinked open. Grey haze. Where was she? The half-real smoke world between life and death? The alarm clock rang - unless there were alarm clocks in heaven, or the other place, she was alive. She felt around her body - soft linen and rough wool met her fingertips. She was in her bed. Rubbing her eyes, she stood up and fumbled for her robe. She had to find Beast; had to find out why the world looked like so much smoke. Shivering slightly in the cold, fall air, she slipped the robe over her arms and flew down the hallway. She felt for the door, praying that her sense of distance had not played her false.

Rogue knocked on the hard wood. Movement from inside. A squeak as the door slowly opened.

"Rogue." Beast yawned, "Far be it from me to question you, but may I ask the purpose of this nocturnal sojourn?"

"Ah'm sorry, Beast. . . but Ah had ta see ya. Mah eyes - somethin' screwy's happened ta them."


"It's like . . . there's a kinda grey curtain in front o' mah eyes."

"Most promising. Let us examine this phenomenon closer with the benefit of more accurate instruments than my intuition."

Rogue laughed. "Lab time, right?"

"Got it in one, my dear Mississippi Mudcake."

His hand on her arm guiding her down the labyrinth of passages. The swish of an opening door.

"Perhaps the Shi'ar neural scanner can cast more light on the state of your optic nerves."

Cold metal against her face. Whirring electronics. The tapping of Beast's pencil against the table.

"Most interesting." He mused.

"A good or bad interesting?" Trepidation filled her voice.

"Good. As in the optic nerves seem to have regenerated remarkably well. I predict the almost complete return of your vision in the next 24 hours."

"Really . . . . Lawd, Ah mean Ah hoped . . . prayed that it would, but . . . you know."

"I do." Beast smiled, "Still, even after you are able to see again, I would recommend that you take precautionary measures to safeguard the well-being of your eyes."

"Such as?"

"Avoiding high intensity light; wearing dark glasses; succintly, not placing too much strain on them."

She nodded, "Ah see."

"Soon literally as well as figuratively."

She laughed as much out of relief than anything else.

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"Foh makin' me not lose hope." Rogue grinned, "An' for gettin' out of bed at 3 o'clock in th' morning."

"Just doing my job on both accounts. Besides which you were a model patient." Beast yawned, "Mmm . . . excuse me."

"Get back ta bed. Sorry foh wakin' y'all up so early."

"If getting up early results in hearing good news, then I shall be the proverbial early bird. . . . Starting tomorrow."

Rogue laughed, "Sleep well, sugah."

"You too."

The swish of a door, then silence as the mansion returned to sleep.

The night passed into dreams for the young thief lying in bed, watching the moon and stars as they glowed. He couldn't sleep on a night like this, when the wind was cool and the sky a display of lights. He wanted to run; feel the adrenalin pounding through his body; give credence to his instincts. The urge hadn't lessened as Storm had promised it would. Night by night, it increased in intensity until he felt that he would prefer to go crazy than restrain himself one more day. But he wouldn't . . . more than that . . . couldn't. Too much rested on his new start. Too much at stake to play the game recklessly. Too much to simply capitulate to his impulses.

Too long he had gone with his feelings and too long they had played him false. He closed his eyes, trying to fall asleep; trying to get through another long night. Images passed through his consciousness. Images of his wife, bringing with them bittersweet memories of pain and love.

Images of his life long ago when he was young and impressionable; when he did something for which he could never atone. Images of him now, trying to forget his past and move ahead; trying to make a better day for himself. Images of the woman with whom he wanted to do it.

Image followed image, blurring in a kaleidoscope of memories and hopes.

A voice spoke to him: "Remy? Pourquoi as-tu oublie moi?"
[Remy? Why have you forgotten me?]

His wife. Her face was as beautiful as the day he had first seen it. Her perfect blue eyes gleamed from beneath hair of pure gold and her lips curved seductively.

"Belle?" He whispered.

The figure smiled, "Alors, tu rappelles."
[So, you do remember.]

She came closer . . . .

Light. Bright light met his eyes, shining through his open windows. He was awake and Belle wasn't there.

"It was jus' a dream." He reassured himself, "Jus' a dream. Not real."

But somehow he wasn't so certain of the unreality of what he had just seen. Somewhere deep inside he knew that Belle was alive and that she was looking for him. He also knew that when she found him, he would have no idea of what to do.

Belle lay back in her bed, ignoring the pain that twisted behind her eyes.

Soon, it would all be worth it when she saw her husband again; when they were reconciled. She smiled in satisfaction. Everything was going according to plan . . . except his response to her in his dream. She had expected surprise - not shock - and certainly not the fear she had seen in his red eyes. Fear of what? Fear that she was a ghost? Worse. Fear that his carefully constructed world was collapsing like a house of cards? Fear that she might cost him the woman he truly loved? The insipidly beautiful woman with her large green eyes and streaked hair; projecting a frigid aura and untouchable to boot. She was the sort of woman that Remy would have considered a challenge. And she knew full well that he could never resist a challenge. Therein lay her own fatal mistake . . . she had shown that she cared; that she loved him. He had become bored and consequently distant, spending more time training at the Guild Hall than at home with her. Then came the time for the tithing . . . . Belle shivered as she remembered that day. The air in the hall had hung heavy with the scent of smoke and ceremonial herbs. Vague illumination provided by a few candles had broken the darkness which shrouded the proceedings. The floor had been hard and cold as she knelt before Candra as was customary and had mouthed the words of the tribute.

Next to her had been Remy; his red eyes blazing with fury. He had always hated the tithing; hated submitting to anyone, even the External.

She could sense his rapidly escalating annoyance as the proceedings continued.

"Nous vous remercions pour votre patronage et votre gentilesse tout au long des annees."
[We thank you for your partronage and your kindness throughout the years.]

Belle's voice faltered in the middle. Why was Remy not speaking the sacred pledge? Was he insane? Candra had killed Guild Members for less. Quickly she continued, hoping the External had not noticed her momentary lapse.

"Et maintenant, nous vous demandons une aide precieuse. Le elixir sacre de longue vie pour notre loyaute envers vous."
[And now, we ask of you a boon. Le sacred elixir of life for our loyalty to you.]

Candra had stood and produced a bottle. Light shone through the viscous liquid, refracting and casting rainbows through the room. Bathed in green light, Belle had watched.

"Tout le monde ne peux pas avoir l'immortalite. Elle a un prix. Aujourd'hui je l'offre a les tres fidele et les tres consomme qui m'ont bons servi."
[Not everyone is able to have immortality. It has a price. Today I am offering it to the very loyal and the very skilled who have served me well.]

Belle could feel the tension in the air as everyone in the room wondered whether they were worthy; whether they would received eternal life.

"Remy LeBeau."

She saw the surprise and disgust on his face as his name was called.

He stood and walked slowly towards the platform.

"Merci, Candra - mais je ne le veux pas."
[Thanks, Candra - but I do not want it.]

A whispered gasp went through the crowd. Did he not wish to live forever? Why did he refuse the Elixir of Life? Hate shone in Candra's blue eyes.

[You refuse?]


"Insolent garcon. Je suis une deesse . . . et a ceux-la qui ne rends pas hommage a moi - je suis une deesse furieuse. Pour ton insolence, je t'exile a ici et a la guilde des voleurs."
[Impudent boy. I am a goddess . . . and to those who do not worship me - I am a wrathful goddess. For your insolence, I exile you from here and from the guild of thieves.]

"Bon. Du moins, je serai libre a ton controle."
[Fine. At least, I will be free of your control.]

The clustered people whispered to each other as he walked through them and out of the door."Il est fou."
[He's mad.]

"Il a agice Candra . . . ."
[He annoyed Candra . . . .]

"Mais il vis."
[But he lives.]

"Silence." [Silence] Candra's voice was icy, "Nous continuerons maintenant. [We will continue now.] Belladonna Bordeaux."

At the sound of her name, Belle stood up automatically and walked to where Candra was sitting.

"Je vous remercierai pour votre generosite, Eternelle, et prends l'elixir sacre de longue vie."
[I thank you for your generosity, External, and take the Sacred Elixir of Life.]

She sipped at the silver goblet in front of her, fighting the nausea that came when she drunk of the Elixir of Life. It burned through her body, cauterizing her veins; incinerating her tissues.

"Mon Dieu!" She screamed as everything went black.
[My god!]

Belle remembered the pain; remembered thinking she was going to die; remembering slipping into unconciousness; remembered feeling her pulse slow to an imperceptible level; remembered being alive and dead at the same time. They had told Remy she had died, knowing no better themselves, yet when she had awoken and wished to see him, she found that he had disappeared like so much smoke. She had searched for him - unsuccessfully. Pain eventually gave way to grief and grief to resolution. The Elixir that flowed through her veins had endowed her with powers as well as immortality. She had developed them; turned them into sharply honed instruments. It had taken years and discipline to reach the necessary level of skill, but she had done it. Now, she smiled, now she could find him and make him love her, as she loved him.

Tomorrow, she would begin her journey. Tomorrow, she hoped, would not be too late . . . .

"Ain't it beautiful?" Rogue smiled as she looked around the mansion gardens. The trees were a blaze of red, gold and orange against a sky of blue, except for a few pines standing like green sentinels above the landscape. It was a scene made all the more beautiful by being the first thing she had seen since her blindness had disappeared.

"Oui. But it ain't de scenery I'm looking at." Gambit laughed.

"Remy . . . ." She blushed slightly, "Ah wanna thank ya."

"For what?"

"Foh bein' there foh me when Ah was blind . . . when Ah needed someone. Ain't many people would o' done it." She sighed.

"Par contre, I should t'ank you for givin' me de opportunity of spending a couple of weeks in de company of a beautiful
woman." He grinned.

"Ah'm serious."

"So'm I."

She smiled slightly. "About wantin' me also?"

"'Course, chere."

Rogue laughed nervously. "Th' odd thing is Ah didn't think Ah wanted ta . . . love anyone ever again after what happened. Then you came inta mah life, an' suddenly everythin' changed. Ah always felt - hoped - that Ah had mah emotions in check, that Ah could control the way Ah felt about anything or anyone; then Ah fell in love with you, despite tryin' mah hardest not ta." She shook her head. "Y'all turned mah world upside down, Remy LeBeau . . . you made me see that . . . that Ah could love again. More'n'that, that Ah should."

"I love you too, Rogue."

"Ah reckon Ah feel th' same way about you, Gambit."

They walked up to the mansion, hand-in-hand - their silence saying more than words could ever express.

"You've heard about the top secret project the government is working on?" Bob Jones took another swig of beer.

His friend nodded. "Yeah - don't know much more about it than that it will rid us of muties once and for all."

"What else do you need to know?" Bob grinned.

"Yeah." Jim laughed, "Just like to be able to take part in this historic occasion."

"That's the best part. We can . . .  the big boss wants us to stir up trouble; create mutant riots and get the public on our side."

"My pleasure." He slammed his tankard down on the bar, spilling beer over the greasy counter. "About time the government did something about those freaks."

"God bless America."

"Amen to that, brother. Amen."

The radio buzzed into life.

"And that was the Top 20 Hit Parade. Moving on . . . ."

The sound of papers being shuffled came over the airwaves.

"In our Missing Person's report, Dr Paul Lee from Caldecott, Mississippi is searching for Sabrina Parker. If you have any information regarding her whereabouts, please contact us at 671-9283. Now onto more pleasant things . . . ."


"If you have seen Sabrina Parker or know anything about where she is, call us on 671-9283."


"Dr Lee is looking for Sabrina . . . ."


"If you know anything about a Sabri. . . ."


" . . .na Parker, phone 671-9283."

Rogue flicked off the radio in her room.

Drrring. The phone in Doctor Lee's office rang.

"Hello? 671-9283. Dr Lee speaking."

"Hi! I'm calling in conjunction with the Sabrina Parker case?"


"I know where she is."


"She's honeymooning with Elvis on Pluto. I"ll give you her telephone number there if you like."

Laughter on the other end of the phone.

Paul Lee slammed the telephone down. He'd had his fill of cranks. All morning the phone had been ringing and no-one had had a piece of solid evidence yet. It was like she'd just disappeared; like Sabrina had ceased to exist the moment Cody had gone into a coma.


"Hello? 671-9283. Paul Lee speaking."

Silence. Another crank-caller.


"Hi."The voice sounded terrified.

"Miss, why are you calling?"

"Ah . . . Ah'm Sabrina Parker."

Something about her voice told Paul Lee that the caller was genuine.


"Why are y'all lookin' foh me after . . . after all these years?"

"Are you familiar with the Cody Robbins case?"


"Sabrina? Are you still there?"

"Yeah . . . Ah was with him the night . . . the night he . . . ."

The voice trailed off into silence.

"He's awake. He wants to see you."

"But . . . but . . . ."



"It would probably speed his recovery to see a familiar face at this time."

"His . . . parents?"

"Dead. Father in a car-crash, mother committed suicide a year later."



"Moved on. Probably don't even remember his name. You're all he's got."


"Ah'll . . . Ah'll come."

"Thank you."

Paul Lee put the phone down, smiling for the first time in a long time.

Ah remember the exact moment when th' enormity of it all hit me. Ah'd put th' phone down an' had walked through ta th' Rec. Room in a sorta daze.

Ah remember not being able ta believe that Cody was awake; that he wanted ta see me. He obviously could not remember what had happened all those years ago, else . . . else Ah'd be the last person he wanted ta give th' time of day. It was incredible. It was also terrifyin'. Ah didn't know if'n Ah could look him in th' face, knowin' that he had missed out on eight years o' his life because o' me. At th' same time Ah knew Ah had ta, that if'n Ah didn't confront that part of mah life then, Ah never would be able ta again. Didn't make it any easier, though. Ah couldn't tell anyone 'bout what Ah was gonna do . . . 'bout what Ah had ta do - not even Remy . . . especially not Remy. Odd how it's hardest ta tell things ta those that matter th' most ta you. Reckon that's why he couldn't tell me about th' dirty secret he's got hangin' over him.

But Ah didn't know about that then.

Ah put off goin' ta see Cody as long as Ah could, until Ah knew that puttin' it off was only makin' it a whole lot harder. Ah packed mah bags and prepared mahself as best Ah could ta face th' one thing Ah'd always feared . . . mah past.

"The pieces are falling into place." Sinister smiled as he looked at the monitor. "It shall be interesting to see what the picture will look like when the puzzle is complete."

"I can tell you." Zodiac's voice interrupted his thoughts.

"Child. I did not hear you come in."

"What is so fascinating?" She came closer.

"Merely the fact that knowledge of one's eventual destiny does not allow one to change it."

"Then why do you need me?"

"Sinister does not like to be surprised. You are a method of safe-guarding against surprise. A means to predict the end."

"I see. What is the end . . . Essex?"

"You have been reading the files on me, I see. That was to be expected."

"I was curious about what would compel you to become what you are today."

"An interesting question." He stood. "One for another time, perhaps."

"First answer my other question."

"You are the clairvoyant. Can you not predict what it is?"

"I could, but without knowing why."

"I am afraid I cannot accomodate you there. The less you know the better it is - for both of us."

"Why won't you tell me?" Frustration colored her voice.

"May I remind you who is servant and master here? I give the orders, not the other way around."

"Yes, sir." She bowed her head. "Forgive my presumptuousness. It will not happen again."

"Good, make sure it does not. Now leave me, I have much to do."

The silver-eyed child left the room, letting the door close with a soft swish behind her; leaving Sinister to contemplate the mysteries held inside the monitor.


Continued in Chapter 10.

Those who do not speak French may be unaware of the disrespect Gambit paid Candra when he said 'ton controle'. French-speakers use the term 'votre controle' when they wish to show respect.

How will Cody react to Rogue?
What is the end Sinister is referring to?
What new developments are happening with the Sentinels?
Bob Jones and Jim Smith - do such corny names really exist?
Find out in Smoke and Mirrors 10!


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