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Warnings: Mature themes throughout the story, dealing with rape, torture and the psychological traumas of imprisonment in a concentration camp. Sexually explicit scene in Chapter 23.

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
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Author's Notes



"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 vision."


"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 will live."

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 you?"


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 you love."

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 fingers.

"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 on that?"

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 face."

"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 choice."

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 sleeve.

"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."

Val frowns.

"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."

"Stormy okay?"

"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 Rogue's body.

"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.

"Jean, can you put her under?"

Jean puts a hand to her temple, concentrating, then shakes her head.

"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 absence?

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 32.


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