TITLE: A New Path Through Familiar Woods
FOLLOW-UP TO: Coming Home &
Doubts and Worries.
SERIES: I've come up with a name for this story arc. ::grins::
I'm calling it the "Tragic Kingdom" arc. Coming
Home is the first in this arc. Doubts and Worries is the second story.
This one, A New Path Through Familiar Woods, is the third.
ARCHIVE: Want. Take. Have.
CATEGORY: Darkfic, angst, AU
RATING: R (for adult
subjects and violence)
NOTE: This story takes place about one week from the ending
of Coming Home. Bobby and Remy are still in Los Vegas.
DISCLAIMER: Marvel Comics and Stan Lee owns the X-Men and Raven
Darkholme. Donny, Chrome and Louis DuLac belong to me.
SUMMARY: Old friends and acquaintances reveal themselves and
offer new options and paths to walk even as Bobby and Remy struggle
to come to terms with each other and their individual pasts.
A New Path through Familiar Woods
Pounding rock music vibrated the dim smokey air around Logan as
he finished eating the last of his overly spicy buffalo wings. His
piercing blue eyes shifted up to watch the generously endowed woman
in the satin g-string as she swirled and wiggled her way around the
metal pole up on the stage even as he grabbed up a few cheap paper
napkins to wipe off his greasy fingers.
Though it might appear to anyone who happened to look his way that
Logan's full attention was absorbed in the dancer, she was really
only giving his eyes someplace pleasant to rest while his mind churned
away at more important things. Namely, finding Gambit and Iceman in
a large city filled with an equal number of criminals and tourists.
Logan had chosen this location to start his search from because
it was the area he was most familiar with. He had been here before
and this is the bar he had frequented and the cheap rat-motel around
the corner was where he had stayed. It was only a few blocks back
from The Strip itself, so it was close enough to include that area
and yet far enough from the bright twinkling lights that the shadows
concealed more than one would think possible.
He didn't think that his prey would stay this far from The Strip.
They would have rented rooms on The Strip in some fancy tourist-trap
hotel. He was sure that Gambit could afford it, especially if he spent
any amount of time in the casino. However, he was also sure that if
Gambit tried to contact any thieves in the city that they would be
found away from The Strip. So, as far as finding Gambit, he
could spend some time in the more popular casino's and clubs in the
hopes of spotting him or a trace of his scent and he could spend time
in the shadows looking for someone who might recognize him.
Drake on the other hand was an unknown. Years ago before he had
been lost in that alternate universe, Logan would have said that Iceman
would have been the easier of the two to find. Just head for any attraction
that had a targeted audience of teenagers. Amusement parts, zoo's,
rides and other places designed to give harried parents a place to
lose their children for a few hours while they gambled away their
hard earned vacation money. But now? Logan had no real idea what would
hold Drake's attention.
He had a feeling that those childish attractions would give Drake
a brief flash of bittersweet nostalgia, a sort of longing regret for
the innocence he once had, but that was all. As for the high stakes
gambling? Once again, he wasn't sure. The Iceman that he remembered
from the past knew how to play poker, pool, blackjack and gin. Logan
had taught the kid most of those games, so he was certain of the other
man's skill up until the point where he had been sucked up into the
parallel universe. Drake could have held his own in a friendly no-stakes
game, but when it came to serious no-holds barred gambling
complete with cheating and bluffing out your opponent, then Drake
moved aside for the masters. When he himself sat down at a table with
Gambit, Cable and Forge, then Iceman would have never even been considered
for the game. The skill level just wasn't there.
But now? Logan sighed as he realized once again that he had no way
of knowing. It's possible that Drake's skills had improved over the
years to the point that he could now hold his own against world-class
cheaters and gamblers. It was also possible that while Gambit was
working his way through the gaming tables that Iceman was working
his way through the prostitutes. Logan chuckled at that thought. Sin
City, whores and poker. A lovely vision turned reality, and before
Iceman's disappearance, one that Logan would never have pegged would
grab hold of Drake's imagination. Then again, the kid had changed
drastically and for all Logan knew he was making a name for himself
as a generous john among the street hustlers. It did make a strange
sort of sense to Logan. He'd tried to bury his own pain in other people's
flesh a time or two in the past. It never worked, but it always seemed
like a good idea at the time.
For now though, Logan figured that it was time to start looking.
It was still early, so he figured that he would start with The Strip.
He had his photos with him and he was certain that he'd find someone
at the bigger casinos that recognized his friends. Gambit, at least.
Once he'd canvassed The Strip, he'd try the murkier parts of town
deeper in the shadows to see if he could find a contact to help his
Downing the last of his beer, Logan tossed a few crumpled bills
on the table and stood up. No one took notice of him as he slowly
made his way through the dim smokey air and out into the night.
Raven twisted the last bit of shiny metallic hair and placed it
tightly against the head of its owner. Reaching out with her free
hand to the container of bobby-pins that Chrome held up, she snagged
four of them. Slipping three in between her lips, Raven used the first
to pin the twist of hair firmly in place. She grabbed the next one
from her mouth and repeated the process. Then the next and then the
last. Finally, all of Chrome's long metallic hair was pressed in tightly
to her skull. It wasn't a pretty job, but then again, it wasn't
meant to be. It held her hair back and up so that the fact that it
was metal in nature would be completely hidden by the shoulder length
dark brown wig that Raven had purchased for just this reason.
Stepping back, Raven motioned for Chrome to stand up for inspection.
The young girl did as she was bid and Raven studied her critically.
Lydia was wearing a nice pair of pressed black dress pants and a rose
colored silk blouse that was still unbuttoned at the top. A pair of
black boots were on her feet. Her silvery metallic hair was pinned
tightly to her head and a confused look was etched on her shimmery
"R.Raven? Um ... I.I'm not s.sure that this w.will work. S.someone
will f.figure it out."
Raven flashed her a grin and waved aside her concern even as she
explained it once again to the nervous girl.
"Nonsense. I'm a master of disguise. It is my mutant gift,
after all. The only thing that sets you as different is the color
of your skin. It's metallic. You're not shaped oddly, nor do you have
extra body parts to hide. This is a simple thing really. All we have
to so is hide or camouflage your true skin tone. And lucky for us,
the beauty and fashion industry has spent the last few decades designing
the best ways to do this for us."
Raven gestured to the vanity against the far way. A dummy head held
the long brown wig and the top of the vanity held numerous jars, bottles
and pressed powders.
"Covering your body is easy. Clothing will hide the majority of
your skin. As for your face and hair, makeup and a wig will do the
same. Granted, we'll have to make the foundation a bit heavy to completely
cover the metallic shine that your skin has, but that's okay. Once
we have the foundation layer in place, we'll add some color to you
with blush and eyeshadow. The wig over your head. Then, we add any
finishing touches to your outfit. Topcoat, gloves, sunglasses and
Raven watched as Lydia glanced over at the makeup and wig, a flicker
of hope flashed across her pretty face followed by a wave of doubt.
Sympathy welled up inside of Raven and she silently cursed the girl's
"Lydia, the only reason that you're nervous about this is that you've
never tried it before. You told me yourself that your parents refused
to let you leave their house once your mutant powers manifested themselves.
You weren't given any reason to try and blend in with society,
nor were you given the skills to do so. And so you were completely
unprepared for the world when your parents died. I, on the other hand,
have made a career out of blending in. I couldn't walk down the streets
in my true form any more than you can, but I know how to hide
in a crowd. Trust me on this, people only see what they want
Seeing Chrome sigh and give in to her wishes, Raven gently guided
her over to the vanity and sat her down on the chair. Then, Raven
picked up a bottle of liquid foundation and a triangle shaped wedge
of rubber sponge. Tilting Lydia's chin up so that Raven had a perfect
view of her face, she smiled down at the young and frightened girl.
"Once we are done here, we're going to head over to the airport.
I have already purchased the tickets, so all we have to do is pick
them up and wait for our plane. We'll go on board and suffer the airline's
idea of a dinner and then before you know it, we'll be landing in
Los Vegas. We'll pick up our luggage at the Baggage Claim area of
the airport and then we'll take a cab ride to the hotel."
Raven had most of Chrome's face coated in foundation. A faint metallic
sheen shone through it and she realized that it would take more than
one coat. She figured that while it might be uncomfortable and probably
itchy to wear it caked on so thickly, that it would work just
as she had planned. She smiled.
"And if anyone makes any remark about a young girl wearing heavy
makeup, just flash them your hurt little-girl lost look and turn away
from them towards me. I'll give them a guilt trip from hell. I figure
that a blast of self-righteousness mixed in with a sob story about
a young girl and a house fire that left burn scars should have anyone
but the most rabid of dogs backing down."
A small smile of relief and hope lit up Lydia's face as she was
faced with a chance to have a semi-normal life and a real friend for
the first time since she was a young child suddenly opened up before
her. Reaching out with one metallic hand, she clasped onto Raven tightly.
"Y.you are a m.miracle t.to me. I c.can never th.thank you e.enough,
A warm feeling unfurled in Raven's chest and she blinked rapidly
at the moisture that was collecting in her eyes. Smiling gently into
Raven's eyes, she spoke what was in her heart.
"You're worth the effort, Lydia. You truly are, and I will defend
you from anyone who thinks otherwise."
Looking in the mirror at himself, Remy smiled. He didn't get to
dress up in nice clothing very often because of his lifestyle. For
superpowered battles he preferred his kelvar armor. For breaking and
entering high security compounds he preferred his Thieves Guild uniform
which was black, skin tight and held lots of pockets for tools, equipment
and stashes of gems, coins and such. For traveling cross-country on
the back of a motorcycle he preferred his worn jeans, t-shirts and
his battered old trenchcoat. However, none of those options was right
for an evening on the town followed by an intense game at the Blackjack
Tonight, however, that was exactly what Remy LeBeau was going to
enjoy. The outlaw mutant and Master Thief "Gambit" was going to take
a back-seat to the man behind the mask. Dressed in a dark crimson
silk Armani suit over a black silk shirt and highly polished Italian
black leather shoes and his long hair pulled back neatly in a low
ponytail at the back of his neck, Remy LeBeau had to admit, if only
to himself, that he was one fine looking specimen of a man.
He had replaced the normal plain silver hoops that he wore in his
ears with diamond studs and he wore his Guild ring prominently on
his right hand. The majority of the people out and about wouldn't
recognize it's significance, but those that did would either avoid
him or try to make his acquaintance because of it. Normally, he wouldn't
bother to make such a bold statement, but he had a feeling that Bobby
wanted to stay in Los Vegas for a while and as such, Remy needed to
start making business contacts here. Not so much for the work, but
as a professional curtesy to those who called this city home.
One last glance at his reflection to make sure that he was giving
the impression of wealth, power and seductive charm that he was aiming
for, and Remy turned away to head towards the door.
He paused for a moment and glanced back at the phone. For half an
instant he was tempted to just ignore it and keep on walking out the
door. He knew that the call would eventually be rerouted to the front
desk where a message would be taken, however, a brief vision of Bobby
trying to call the room flashed in his mind and Remy turned back to
the side table where the phone sat.
Sighing, Remy picked up the phone and pressed it to his ear.
//Remy, mon fille? Dat y'?//
Caught between shock and pleasure, Remy felt a wide smile spread
across his face.
"Oui, pere'. Dis is Remy. How did y' know where t' fin' me?"
An indignant snort traveled across the telephone line and Remy grinned
as he pictured his father's frown and the way he would wave his hand
through the air as if to dismiss such an absurd question.
//Don' be insultin' chile. Afta dat whole mess wit' dat bitch
leavin' y' in Antarctica t' die, I been keepin' close track o' y'
every move an' y' know it. Dere ain't no place on dis world dat I
can' track y', so unless y' be plannin' t' head out int' space?//
Remy chuckled with genuine happiness. It was true. At first when
he realized that his father was keeping such strict tabs on him he
was uncertain whether to feel glad for his obvious display of love
and affection or hurt that his father didn't think he could take care
of himself. He had quickly come to dismiss that second and more paranoid
idea though. Jean-Luc rarely interfered with Remy's life in any way.
He merely contacted Remy to keep him up to date with the family and
the Guild, and every now and then, he would give him a Guild job to
"Non, pere'. Not plannin' t' go off int' space any time soon. De
Shi'ar Empire be as stable as it get an' Lilandra be in firm control
once again. Dat's one t'ing that de X-Men wouldn' keep from me. Dey
know dat Gambit has loyalty t' de Majestrix."
Remy could hear his father sigh and he could envision his frustrated
expression as easily as he could guess what was coming next.
//I still don' un'erstand de reason dat y' had t' get dat citizenship,
A grin spread across Gambit's face. His father knew all of this
and what's more, he understood it and approved, but it was an old
familiar point of contention that they both danced around for form's
sake. Personally, Jean-Luc was proud of the fact that Remy had friends
and contacts across the stars. Professionally, as the head of the
Thieves Guild, he had to condemn Remy's division of loyalty.
"Y' know w'y, pere'. When de Prof was offered de chance t' be Lilandra's
Royal Concert, he had t' provide tangible proof o' his right t' her
hand an' he had t' provide his own guards an' warriors t' protect
de Royal Family o' which he would become a part o'. De Prof brought
de X-Men an' we all swore loyalty t' protect de Royal Family.
When in de Shi'ar Empire, den Gambit be Royal Guard. When on Eart',
den Gambit be Thieves Guild. Y' know dat."
A chuckle rolled smoothly across the telephone lines and a wave
of warm nostalgia washed over Remy at the sound familiar sound. His
//Well den, since y' be firmly on de Eart', den I got a job fo'
y', Master T'ief LeBeau.//
A sizzle of anticipation and excitement at the thought of doing
another job for the Guild warred with Remy's desire to get things
straightened out with Bobby. He wavered in indecision for a brief
second and then his training kicked in.
"Oui, pere'. Wha' y' need m' t' do?"
//Go t' de airport t'morrow an' pick up y' Uncle Louis. He be
able t' give y' all de details o' de job.//
A small smile crept over Remy's face. He hadn't seen his Uncle Louis
in quite a few years and it would be good to catch up with the older
thief. Once he knew more about the job, then he could figure out what
to do about Bobby.
"Wha' time is his plane arrivin'?"
//Ten o'clock in de mornin' at Gate number 14-C.//
"Oui pere'. I be dere t' pick Uncle Louis up. Dat's not a problem."
Another low chuckle.
//Good. I don' t'ink dat Louis would be t'rilled t' hafta hunt
y' down b'fore he can talk wit' y'.//
Remy chuckled back at his father. He knew what the man was saying.
Louis was normally a kind and patient man, but when he did lose his
temper, it tended to be a memorable occasion. Unless, of course, Louis
didn't want you to remember. If that was the case then you
would spend the next month or so feeling as if you were forgetting
something, but you could never figure out what. It was enough
to drive a man loopy and make him slightly paranoid.
//Well, mon fills. I have t' get goin'. Dere's b'ness matters
dat I need t' see to. I'll contact y' later an' we'll talk den.//
//Oui, pere'. I be lookin' forward t' it. Y' take care o' y'self,
//Y' too, Remy. Y' too.//
A lump formed in Remy's throat, but he forced his voice to speak
"Je t'aime, pere'."
//Je t'aime, Remy.//
Then the line was disconnected and the dial tone began to whine
in Remy's ear. A sad smile gracing his face, he placed the receiver
back on its cradle. Turning, he spared a last glance at the mirror
and then left the room.
to be continued >>
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