"Dat's enough, Tseidel, I said no!"
Remy's angry voice hisses sharply through the airborne Blackbird,
causing more than one X-man to glance up in surprise and curiousity.
Tsiedel's placid expression doesn't change in response to
the Cajun's outburst. They've been arguing about her return
to New Genosha for the past hour. More accurately, Remy has
been arguing while she has been, for the most part, ignoring
his increasing ill temper. She continues calmly with the task
at hand--preparing first response medical kits for the X-men's
use once they land in the camps. Remy exhales loudly, exasperated.
"Don' matter what I t'ink, does it? Don' matter dat
all dis time de professor been lookin' after you, treatin'
you like one a his own. Don' matter dat he got a dream a better
t'ings for you den takin' y'last breath in de pits."
"His dream is not mine, Remy."
Tseidel pauses in her work long enough to fully address him.
She chooses each word carefully, unaware that Jean has overheard
and become intrigued by their conversation.
"Professor Xavier is a farsighted man, with a well-intentioned
"He does not see the tree for the forest."
"Y'got dat backwards, Tseidel."
"Nein, this is what I intended to say. He has not, he
cannot, involve himself in the concerns of one when he must
assume responsibility for the welfare of many. His hope is
that the mutant race will live in peace. My hope is that we
Remy covers her hand with his. Tseidel places her other hand
on top his.
"Do you remember in the camps--you promised to guard
my life as if it was your own--as repayment for tending to
Tseidel's gray eyes meet his clearly, reflecting an inner
strength in her solemn gaze.
"I release you from your word."
"Dat ain't necess--"
Her fingers press lightly to his lips, silencing him.
"Understand me, Remy, from this moment on, you will
not put my life before your own--or before the life of one
Rogue's name remains unspoken between them, but the subtle
reference is understood completely.
Remy sulkily moves to the middle of the Blackbird, only to
find himself the object of Mystique's decidedly unwanted attention.
Wordlessly, she finishes cleaning her gun's sight, then takes
careful aim at Remy, letting the laser crosshairs come to
rest on his heart. Instantly, a card flashes into the Cajun's
"Not on y'best day, Mystique."
She smiles chillingly as she begins to squeeze the trigger.
"You're a gambling man, LeBeau, care to place a wager
Mystique feels the distinctive pressure of several large,
hairy knuckles press firmly against the side of her throat.
Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Logan's dark gaze gleaming
with predatory keenness. His voice rumbles low in his chest.
"Just raised the stakes--ya in or out?"
For a tense moment, nobody moves, except for Remy's thumb
rubbing anxiously across the three of clubs. Slowly, Mystique
lowers her gun. Logan lets out a guttural laugh.
"Gotta hand it to ya, Mystique, got a helluva poker
"Would you be paying me a compliment?"
Her fingers slide out of view across his thigh. Logan's jaw
hardens a bit as his own hand clamps hard on her wrist.
"Just statin' the facts. Same as sayin' ya gonna be
about four fingers shy in a minute unless ya move 'em. Your
Mystique continues to hold Logan's gaze as she slowly withdraws
her hand, scowling at the amused gleam of humor brightening
his eyes. Her scowl deepens when she catches sight of Remy's
sardonic grin as he neatly flicks the playing card up his
"Remy, we're coming into visual range."
Immediately, the young Cajun's smile fades as his lips tighten
into a hard, thin line. He responds to Scott's information
by walking to the front to join him in the cockpit. He passes
Kurt, Hank and Jean as they continue to review Rogue's medical
data and catches bits of the intense conversation. He hears
his own name mentioned in passing. Pauses for a moment when
someone, he's not quite sure who, makes the comment "--that's
no longer an option."
From the front of the cabin, Remy sees Israeli fighter jets
to his left and Saudi Arabian aircraft to his right. He does
a quick run-down through his mind. The Blackbird is to take
the point, using Sh'iar cloaking technology to hide from the
Genoshan radar as they take out the anti-aircraft units on
the ground. Then let the U.N. forces take out the hangars
and fuel dumps while the X-Men land and begin the ground assault.
He looks at the holographic map over Val's shoulder, then
back to the dark smudge coming into view. Val jabs a finger
at the southwest corner of the island.
"We're coming in here. Intelligence indicates anti-aircraft
locations here and here."
"Don' say much for your intelligence, den."
"We only use the best."
Remy's eyes flash.
"Dey so good, why y'bring us in?"
Val bites back a response, and gestures towards the map.
Remy steps in closer, taking a moment to study the display.
"When y'get de last report?"
"Twenty-four hours ago."
"See dis here? Mobile anti-aircraft units. Dey move
'em every twelve hours. Dey should be--here."
Val nods, and makes the necessary adjustments to the map
before transferring the information to the U.N. special forces.
Jean comes up behind them, smiling warmly to Remy as she takes
his hand in hers.
"How're you holding up?"
Remy shrugs. Scott's voice interrupts.
"Jean, have you tried contact yet?"
Jean winks at Remy before stepping around him to the other
side of the pilot's chair. She leans over Scott's shoulder
as she focuses on the island of New Genosha coming into view.
"I've reached Ororo. Strange, she seems--preoccupied--distracted--now
I understand. She's with Eric and they're trying to escape."
"Basically, yes. I've rarely sensed such a mixture of
feelings from her, though. She's very angry and--hurt? No,
that's not right. She's angry because someone else is hurt."
Jean's brow furrows as she expands her telepathy.
She doubles over and drops to her knees. Jean gasps, still
reeling from the mental onslaught of pain ripping through
"Oh, God--how--even he couldn't be so--!"
Jean's startled blue eyes turn to Scott, her face incredulous.
"Scott, she's awake--and Sinister's operating on her."
Remy's grip on the back of the pilot's seat tightens. Scott
gives Forge control of the plane then lends his support to
"Jean, can you put her under?"
Jean puts a hand to her temple, concentrating, then shakes
"She's very weak. I'm not sure I can keep her stable
at this distance. However--"
She pauses again, letting her mind touch Rogue's.
"--if everyone agrees, I can establish a psi-link. It
should lend her support as well as help us to locate her once
we're on the ground."
Kurt and Scott, familiar and comfortable with Jean's abilities,
are the first to agree, followed immediately by Logan. Throughout
the plane, Jean receives nods of approval from all except
one. Remy averts his gaze. He takes a deep breath, then slowly
exhales through pursed lips. He has to wonder if it really
matters. Hadn't Rogue made it clear that she wasn't willing
to reach out to him for anything? Would she even notice his
She don' need you, LeBeau. Jus' do what y'started to do.
Get in. Get Rogue. Get out.
He takes a moment more to gather his thoughts before giving
Jean an answer.
Maybe she don' need you, but she need de team. Now more
den ever, n'est-ce pas? Y'gon stick wit' de team or non?
The X-men are as much a family to him as the Thieves' Guild
has been. In any family, there are disagreements, arguments,
harsh words. Sudden, sometimes painfully necessary, departures.
That doesn't mean you stop being family.
Jean gives his hand a gentle squeeze.
"Jus' do it."
Unlike the other X-men, Jean's psi-link enhances Remy's own
telepathic abilities, providing a stronger rapport than usual
with Rogue. He immediately clamps down, filtering her thoughts
down to necessary information: her location.
Continued in Chapter
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