Remy LeBeau walks slowly, lost in the steady, bone-wearing
rhythm of his thoughts. His fingers rub nervously against
the ring in his pocket. Rogue's ring. True to his word, he
had the fake stone replaced with a genuine ruby. The thief
in him doesn't think much of the trinket--seeing it as little
more than costume jewelry to someone used to the weight and
glitter of million dollar heirlooms. But he understands that
this bit of metal and stone holds sentimental value for Rogue.
The real question, he thinks, is what value does their fractured
relationship hold for either of them?
Ororo and Jean's voices interrupt his thoughts. He responds
tersely to their lively chatter as they window shop. This
dress. That lipstick. Those shoes. Their discussions of black
silk, red satin and patent leather does little to ease the
ache of another question that has plagued him in the weeks
since their return:
What was de point?
The two women turn in time to see Remy disappear into the
nearly invisible entrance of a small shop wedged between a
florist and caterer across the street.
"What's gotten into him?"
"The symbol--there--is the traditional sign of a traiteur--a
"So--do we follow and keep an eye on him?"
Ororo turns back to the items in the window.
"He will need a moment to--negotiate."
Remy steps inside, into a world thick with incense, rag dolls,
knotted threads and disembowled chickens. He brushes past
the beaded curtain to the main room, a room dominated by the
traiteur's presence. Slight of build, her piercing gaze and
flurry of gestures punctuate each carefully stated point to
her captivated audience.
His heart sinks, recognizing the familiar patter of tourist
mumbo-jumbo spilling from her lips. He listens with little
interest to the exchange, finding no pleasure in watching
the gawking customers pay an outrageous sum for a "love
potion". In reality, nothing more than blackstrap molasses
and swamp water. Remy steps aside, allowing the store to clear
until he is left alone with the healer.
With a dismissive glance, the traiteur moves behind him to
the cash register.
"What y'be wantin', chile?"
"You tell me."
"Don' be runnin' y'jaw like dat at me, boy."
He hesitates, struck by the quiet, subtly threatening power
in her voice. His eyes dart quickly across the counter, seeing
beyond the baubles.
"Somet'in' for one a your ladies, eh?"
As she reaches behind her for a set of brightly colored beads,
he stops her.
"Non--I didn't come for dat Mardis Gras flash."
He reaches into the seemingly ordinary basket next to the
register. He picks up a small, speckled egg from inside and
hands it to her without a word. He notes the flicker of a
smile cross her face as her dark eyes study him more intently.
"Y'be one a de true, chile?"
The traiteur rolls the egg thoughtfully in her palms, then,
with a sharp crack, breaks it open. A double yolk, with a
single line of blood running through the center, spills into
a waiting dish. The traiteur's face softens.
"Y'know de outer scars will heal?"
Remy nods. The traiteur slips a papery, weathered hand inside
Remy's shirt, coming to rest lightly across his heart. She
gives him a knowing look.
"But here--dat where de problem be, n'est-ce pas?"
Again, he nods. The traiteur, mumbling to herself, disappears
briefly into a storeroom. She returns, solemnly carrying a
heavily carved, wooden box which she sets before Remy. From
the chatelaine around her neck, she withdraws a small pair
of scissors. Familiar with the ritual, Remy loosens a strand
of hair and offers it to her. A quiet snip, and the lock falls
freely into the traiteur's fingers. From another pocket of
the chatelaine, the traiteur takes a fine awl and draws seven
drops of blood from Remy's finger. She carefully catches the
drops in a piece of eggshell and sets them aside.
"You not de only one involved wit' dis."
Reluctantly, Remy reaches into his pocket and pulls out Rogue's
ring. The traiteur plucks the ring from his palm and adds
it to the hair. From somewhere beneath the counter, she grabs
a pinch of coarse yellow powder and slowly breathes it in.
As she exhales, the powder turns to a deep blue smoke that
passes over and through the hair, ring and blood in an opalescent
Remy obeys, inhaling the strange but pleasantly cleansing
mixture deep into his lungs. The traiteur hurriedly opens
the lid of the box and places the items inside. She gestures
to Remy to exhale into the box. He does so, and she quickly
closes the lid, nodding in satisfaction. She holds the box
out to Remy, he takes it, but she doesn't let go.
"Ain't y'forgettin' somet'in'?"
Remy smiles sheepishly as he fishes his free hand into another
pocket and tosses a small circle of gold onto the counter.
The traiteur grins broadly, then gestures Remy to a sitting
area in the corner of the floor. As he settles down, the traiteur
crosses herself then places one hand on the box.
"Saints comfort you,chile."
Shafts of late afternoon sunlight filter through the dim
windows. Ororo, entering the store ahead of Jean, pauses.
Seeing Remy sitting there on the floor, cross-legged, brow
furrowed in concentration, he reminds her more of a lost child
than a man. He runs his fingers across the deeply carved box,
brushing the dust from the lid.
Jean starts forward, only to find Ororo's arm blocking her.
"What's he doing?"
"Reading the threads of fate."
"Are you kidding me?"
"No, Jean, it is an ancient Cajun ritual."
"Uhm, Ororo, do you really think we're helping Remy
by condoning this--whatever this is?"
"If his faith is not yours, Jean, still it is no less
valid than yours."
Jean eyes the store uncertainly, uncomfortable in a culture
she does not understand.
"Perhaps it would be best, my friend, if you wait here."
"If you're certain I won't be needed--?"
Ororo's smile calms Jean's nerves.
"I think not."
With a nod of acknowledgement to the traiteur, Ororo walks
over to Remy and lightly touches his shoulder. He glances
up. The desperate, angry light in his eyes troubles her. She
gestures to the space beside him.
"May I join you?"
Remy opens the lid of the box and draws out several lengths
of intertwined thread. He sighs heavily as he studies the
tangled colors, then throws the bunch to the floor in a sudden
fit of exasperation.
"You de one always runnin' off at de mouth about ev't'ing
bein' in balance, Stormy. So tell me dis--what was de point?"
"Perhaps, my friend, you are reading the wrong threads."
Ororo's long fingers elegantly separate one strand from the
"If you had not been subjected to your trials, Rogue
would have died."
"The truth of the patterns is clear, my friend."
He runs a hand through his unruly hair, shaking his head
"Don' make any sense."
"Rogue was destined to journey to New Genosha. See--here.
Her life was in question, never yours."
"An' if I hadn't gone?"
Ororo pulls another thread through her fingers, a thread
that abruptly ends in a short, black stub.
"You knew the anti-aircraft artillery rotated position.
If you had not know this, would the New Genoshans have been
in a postion to attack the Blackbird if the X-men had maintained
their original course?"
"Sinister's laboratory was an elaborate maze, designed
to confuse. If you had not been there, we would have been
delayed in finding Rogue."
"Logan would have--"
"Perhaps, but he did not. You did."
Remy absently picks at the toe of his boot, considering Ororo's
"You delayed Kurt from teleporting to Rogue's side."
"An' dat's a good t'ing?"
Ororo's hand cups Remy's chin sharply, tilting his face to
meet hers. Much as a mother might command a child's attention
when there is an important point to be made.
"What would have happened if Kurt had teleported an
Silence. Remy fidgets, uneasy under Ororo's steady gaze.
"He woulda 'ported into Mystique's line a fire?"
Ororo stands, smoothing her skirt.
"It is late, we should be getting back to check on Rogue."
She offers her hand.
"Are you ready?"
"Yeah, I t'ink maybe I am."
Concluded in the Epilogue.
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