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"Wild Cards"

Wild Cards

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

This story is unfinished.

This story features several characters which are the property of Marvel Comics, and no money is being made from their unsanctioned use here. The character of Reine, however, is my creation, and if you use her without my permission, regardless of whether or not cash is involved, I'll just have to hunt you down and kill you.

Wild Cards

Part 4

Gambit stirred. There was something amiss in his room. Blearily, but cautiously, he half-opened his eyes. But before they could pick up the shadowy outline, his kinetic sense had told him that he was not alone.

"About time," a soft voice remarked.

"I was starting to think I conked you a little too hard this evening."

Remy bolted upright, reaching for his cards even as he opened his mouth to call the others. Before he could do so, a hand clamped over his face, while another intercepted his wrist.

"Relax, and think," the voice hissed, "if I had wanted to hurt you, I would have done it already...I just want to talk, okay?"

Remy's eyes narrowed. He shook off her grip on his wrist -- she wasn't even trying to hold him -- and the pressure against his lips had already eased. From what little he had seen of her fighting skills, he knew she was telling the truth. He nodded.

"You certainly got a way of attractin' a body's attention, chère," he whispered harshly.

"I s'pose y'want to talk about de other night?"

"That's secondary. My reason for being here is a little more personal."

"Sorry chère, I be spoken for," he retorted.

"Don't flatter yourself, there a light in here that won't attract attention?"


Gambit flicked on the small bedside lamp. On his right, in a chair by his bed, sat the woman from the museum roof. She was dressed in a tunic of mottled colours -- black, grey, dark green -- the better for camouflage, and her auburn hair was neatly drawn back into a ponytail.

"'Kay chère ... so dis ain' about de Museum job. What is dis about then?"

"Look in the mirror -- what do you think it's about?" she shot back.

Gambit did so, noting uncomfortably the stunning resemblance between the two faces reflected there -- even more evident now in the modest light of the room than the night on the museum roof.

"Ce n'est pas tout, mon vieux,"1 she continued quietly.

"Ca semble un peu familier?"2 she asked, holding one of his cards, it and her hand glowing with charge.

Remy stared at her in shock for a moment, then sank back against the headboard, his hands over his eyes in disbelief.

"Non," he gasped, " ce n'est pas possible..."3

She pulled his hands down into his lap, forcing him to meet her gaze.

"What do you think I tried to tell myself all day?" she returned.

"I almost made myself believe it too...but I make a lousy mark, even if I'm the one running the con. I never trust coincidence. I could -barely- buy having a male double; after all, anything is possible in the wonderful world of genetics. That was possible. Highly improbable, but possible --but I really couldn't buy the coincidence of that double just happening to be from my own hometown. Pas de danger!"4she hissed.

"Y'mean...Dieu...tu es...nous sommes..."5

While he had considered the possibility in the back of his mind, Remy couldn't even get his mouth around the words now.

"I mean maybe it is all coincidence...but if you believe that, I will lay you hundred to one odds that you're wrong, any size bet you name."

Gambit took a deep breath.

"You ain't gettin' no sucker bets from me, chè didn' hit me dat hard," he retorted.

"How you manage t'find my room so neat -- an' how you even find de house? We know nobody followed us..."

She sat with a patient smile, waiting for him to answer his own question, which only took a moment.

"...a tracer. Y' planted it on me after you knocked me cold, an' b'fore Jean came 'long. You never planned for de "kidnappin'" t'work did you?"

"Ah...he catches on...." she grinned.

"So where is it?"

"Under the left bootstrap of your right boot."

"An' how you even get t'rough security? I'm de only one ever done it b'fore..."

"And your point would be...?" she whispered back in an icy voice.

Remy raised a hand, placatingly.

"D'accord, chère -- but what now? I know...I be wantin' a blood test t'be sure...dis is too much t'take in at once..."

"Amen to that," she returned with a sigh.

"Den after...guess we figure it out as we go, non?"

"Oui -- and you wouldn't rat to the cops on a relative, would you?" she asked lightly.

Gambit had to bite his tongue to hold back a laugh -- too noisy, and she had no idea...

"Non, never would do dat, chère."

"Good. One more thing..." she looked uncomfortable.


"What's your name?"

"Remy," he smiled, " e comment t'appelles-tu?"6

"Renée -- mais tout le monde m'appelle Reine,"7 she replied, returning his smile.

Then Gambit noticed the time. "Almos' four, Reine...y'better go. I'll let you out..."

"No, I'll find my own way -- I could use the exercise, and besides, it's more fun," she whispered back..

"But I'll be back for that blood test..."


"Sooner the better, I'm thinking -- but next time, I'll use the gate. Expect me in the afternoon."

"D'accord, I'll be ' revoir, Reine."

"Au revoir, Remy."

Then she glided over to the window ledge, and made a jaunty salute before slipping out the window without a sound.

Gambit stared at the window for some time after she left, unsure if he had dreamt the whole thing.

He didn't know what to think, and he couldn't sort out his feelings.

For almost all of his life, he had been alone, mostly by choice and circumstance. As a child, he had made the decision to leave his family, rather than live with the abuse and neglect.

Living on the street, he learned quickly that stealth and self-reliance were the keys to survival. To need or to depend on another person was potentially fatal, and the best way to avoid that trap was to stand alone in the shadows.

He had never cared for the isolation, but he had never really had a choice in the matter.

Then Jean-Luc found him.

With the care of his adoptive father and brothers, he thrived on the camaraderie of the Guild, finally coming out of his self-imposed exile -- only to have the politics of his new family cast him out for defending his own life.

When that had happened, he felt something die inside.

After all this time, he had come to be accepted into another family...

But Seattle had made him realize that the X-Men would discover his secret sooner or later, and he would be an outcast again. He cared too much to leave on his own, so he stayed, knowing he was just playing out the string

And wasn't certain -- yet -- that he and Reine were related, but she had sought him out herself. Maybe he wasn't the only one tired of the shadows.

His empathic senses shouted to him that the both of them were looking for the same thing, and Remy found himself fervently hoping that they had found it.

He glanced at the clock.

4:38 a.m.

*Better get some sleep...dis is goin' t'be an interestin' day*

By the time Reine had arrived at her safehouse, it was approaching five a.m.

She had done a lot of thinking on the drive home.

Why was she looking to confirm her suspicions? Why should she even care if she had family? She couldn't even bring herself to say the word 'brother'...

What good could it do? Cops on every continent were salivating at the possibility of nailing her -- if they ever clued in to her identity. Any known family connections could only prove dangerous to her...and to him. She felt a stab of concern at that thought; was shocked by the feeling...

When her powers had first manifested, she had made the decision to care for no-one but herself. Ever since her previously-doting parents turned away from her.

She had been the perfect little girl: pretty, bright, and able to excel in everything she put her hand to: school, dance, music, martial arts, countless sports and activities. Her parents encouraged all her interests, and were a pillar of support.

At first, they worried about pushing her too hard, but soon realized they didn't have to -- she pushed herself, driven by curiosity and an insatiable desire to learn. So her family indulged her pursuits, carefully watching to make sure she didn't overburden herself in her enthusiasm. They were immensely proud of their little 'Queen', and she adored them. It was all quite idyllic...until the headaches started.

Her parents were frightened, as well they should have been: the doctors had thought it was a brain tumour. However, the real cause soon became apparent as her eyes slowly changed colour. Maman and Papà could handle that. They simply took her to a specialist, had some experimental contact lenses made, and bought her many a pair of sunglasses. The contacts were as uncomfortable as hell, but life went on normally for a while.

Then one day, she had been sitting outside on the verandah writing a letter to a friend who was away on vacation. She had paused, pen in hand, thinking of what to say next, when her hand suddenly felt cold. Startled, she turned and saw both her hand and the pen she held glowing brightly. In reaction, she flung the pen away onto the lawn -- where it exploded upon hitting the turf.

That was the beginning of the end.

Her parents did their best to hide it, but they were frightened and ashamed of her. They found any excuse to avoid spending time with her; she was no longer a welcome topic of conversation amongst their friends; they pulled her out of school, and arranged for private tutors. They told themselves it was for safety's sake, and for Reine's own good.

She knew better.

While she had always been a perceptive child, she had a gift of knowing the thoughts of other people that went beyond good observation. She realized it was their fear which caused her family to drift away from her. Appalled, Reine had resolved to control her power, in the hope of regaining their trust and her place in their hearts. She spent countless hours in the isolated expanse of brush behind the family's country estate, slowly developing precision and control over her ability. Applying all the discipline she possessed, she mastered her gift.

It wasn't enough.

Most children would have been crushed -- not Renée. Ironically, it was the intelligence and self-confidence that her folks had fostered in her which gave her the strength to overcome their rejection.

They had always preached tolerance, so she fully realized the extent of their hypocrisy in their treatment of her, not to mention society's treatment of her. Her so-called friends drifted away; in some cases, because their own parents forbade them to have anything to do with 'that mutie'. Often enough, these same people had once urged their children to emulate her. Had it not been for her Sensei and Grognard, the family retainer, she would have been completely abandoned.

So she bided her time until she turned sixteen, and left the family home for good.

She didn't want for anything financially, due to a rather substantial trust fund, but she began to consider a career to suit her talents. After some deliberation, she settled on crime.

It was lucrative; it allowed for a lot of leisure time; it was challenging; and it provided an excellent opportunity to show her contempt for the society which ostracized her.

She had analyzed her situation logically. It wasn't that she wasn't good enough for society -- society was clearly not good enough for her. So who needed it?

Self-interest had been her only credo -- until now.

She was drawn to Remy, and she couldn't even explain why.

She had even taken the risk of supplying her real first name, not an alias. Furthermore, she was going back for that blood test, against her own instincts.

*I don't even know what possessed me to follow this up in the first place* she fumed.

*I just hope I know what I'm doing...*


Continued in Chapter 5.

1. That's not all, my old friend.
2. Does this seem a little familiar?
3. No, that's not possible.
4. Not likely.
5. You're...we're...
6. ...and what's your name?
7. ...but everybody calls me Reine.
8. Today?

"All warfare is based on deception." -- Sun-Tzu, The Art of War


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