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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 unauthorized use here. The character of Reine, however, is my creation, and if you use her without my permission, I'll just have to hunt you down and kill you.

Wild Cards

Part 6

"I have the preliminary results ready -- I shall see you in the medlab presently," Beast reported.

"We comin'... merci Hank..."

Remy, Logan and Reine hurriedly disposed of their ash and other tobacco remnants before heading the procession to the lab. Upon their arrival, they found that Scott, Jean and the others had already assembled there for Beast's announcement.

"Well?" Gambit and Reine spoke simultaneously.

Hank grinned broadly.

"It is my pleasure to announce that you are, beyond any shadow of doubt, brother and sister..."

The two looked at each other as McCoy continued.

"Siblings, indubitably, and that's not all."

"Well, what else is there?" Reine inquired curiously.

"I found a most interesting anomaly while doing the genetic comparison."

"Anomaly?" Remy asked dubiously.

"Yes...generally, siblings have about half of their genetic makeup in common; however, your ratio of genetic similarity is much higher than the expected fifty percent -- which leads me to my second announcement. Congratulations," Hank beamed.

"You're twins."

"Twins? But...fraternal twins don't vary genetically from ordinary siblings," Reine protested, "so how can you possibly...unless...oh, my God..." she gaped in disbelief.

"Ah, so I see the latest LeBeau has some knowledge of current studies in genetics..."

Remy interrupted impatiently.

"Dat's as may be, Bête, but I don't. What you sayin' Hank?"

"I'm saying that you happen to be half-identical fraternal twins -- quite possibly the first documented case. It's too bad that circumstances prevent me from publishing a paper on this find."

"Half-identical?" Bobby asked quizzically.

"Yes...let me explain. You may have noticed that some sets of identical twins resemble each other to the point where one cannot distinguish between them; they are actually genetically identical. However, others may resemble each other very strongly, but one can tell them apart. Research has shown that such twins are not genetically identical, but share much more than fifty percent of their genetic makeup in common -- hence the term 'half-identical'. However, this has previously been observed only in same-sex twins. Remy and Reine share approximately seventy-five percent of their genetic makeup."a

During Hank's explanation, the two had slowly approached each other, unsure. Tentatively, Remy extended his hand. In turn, Reine placed her palm against his, twining her fingers with his, and extended her other hand to his cheek. They stood like that for a moment, before they pulled each other close.

After a moment, Reine gathered a handful of Remy's hair, and used it to gently pull his head down.

"In case you thought I forgot..." she began. She hesitated for a moment, then gathered her resolve, and spoke, the barest breath of a whisper, into his ear.

Gambit smiled gently in understanding, and hugged her tighter, quiet tears running down his cheeks. He knew what that piece of information was worth. Her name -- her given name -- was her most closely guarded secret, and she had made him a present of it.

Soon enough, the others crowded around them for congratulations and introductions.

"Welcome, that your real name?" queried Psylocke.

"I plead the fifth..."

"So it seems we have two mystery women among us now -- we've given up on Rogue, but won't you even give us a hint?" Warren said with a smile.

"Forget it, flyboy," Bobby called out," she'll just give you an alias and you'll never know. Trust me -- I've seen her play poker, and ice wouldn't melt in her mouth."

"Really, Mr. Drake? Would you care to test that hypothesis?"

Reine's voice was even, her smile friendly -- but her gaze was one of frank appraisal, leaving Bobby speechless for once, much to everyone's amusement. Especially Gambit, who smirked in approval.

"...hmm... that does give me an idea, however, " she continued.

"Since everyone else here appears to have an alias, if you need another name for me Riposte."

Remy grinned.

"Suits you, ma soeur..."

"I agree...and I'm sure you'll want to spend some time getting acquainted with Remy. You're welcome to stay here for a while," Jean offered.

"...On condition you put hold during your stay," Scott broke in.

"I think you'll understand our wanting to keep a low profile."

"Quite...I accept your hospitality..."

Reine was interrupted by the ringing of her cellphone. Excusing herself, she retrieved it from her jacket, and retreated a few steps for privacy. Despite this, and the low voice she used, some parts of the conversation were still audible.

"...scene one according to plan...unforeseen, not an unwelcome one...," she looked up, flashing a smile and a wink at her brother.

"...planned a break, anyway...can't move on that's done?...excellent...double my reserve on the total...cargo to usual contacts...I'll be waiting for it...oh, and I'll be staying at this address...please do...I will...merci, au revoir, mon vieux."

She turned back to the group.

"Someone will be by with my luggage early this evening... so, are you going to show me to my room, petit frère?"

"Oui," Gambit returned, "an' who's to say you were firstborn?"

"I'm smarter, I'm better-looking," she grinned, " it's as plain as plain can be..."

# You know # Scott mused, # I think I might like her after all #

# Scott!#

"Bien, den have it your way, décrepite soeur."1

"You brat..."

"I hate to interrupt your répartée," Jean said with a grin, "but we'll be having a light supper in an hour. If you would like some private time, we could leave you in peace for a while...we'll call you for dinner."

"Sounds good t'me Jean. What do you say, Reine?"

"I'm with you."

"Very well...we shall see you later then," Storm smiled.

"I look forward to knowing you...Riposte."

Gradually the others filed out, leaving the new-found siblings alone.

" there someplace private where we could talk?"

" chambre, ou il toit."2

"Ta chambre, s'il te plaît."3

Once they arrived in Gambit's room, the two flopped down on his bed, cross-legged, facing each other.

"Now, de big question...where d'we even start?"

"That's a good one...We don't exactly have time for our life stories before dinner. How about if you tell me a little about the horde downstairs? I like to have a little dirt on my housemates...", she grinned conspiratorially.

Remy began to talk, haltingly at first, but he soon warmed to his subject. In short order, Reine began interjecting with stories of her own when she found a common thread with his. Soon enough, they were swapping jokes, anecdotes and adventures like old friends. They became so engrossed in their conversation, they almost missed the call to dinner.

Remy and I had just been comparing methods of cardsharping when the intercom sounded. I had shown him a holdout and pass he hadn't run across before, in exchange for a really nifty substitution of his own devising.

We were considerably more at ease than we had been out in the garden -- maybe it was the shop talk that broke the ice -- and were just starting to develop an understanding.

I was discovering that I liked this stranger who was my brother...who was so much like me.

They say you can't choose your relatives. For the most part that's true, but I had. I had chosen him when I realized who he probably was, and decided to track him down anyway.

I've always been very independent, but I was already starting to feel a tie to him.

It was frightening.

It was exhilarating.

It was a lot like skydiving -- as has been said before, you can practice all you want on the ground, but it's not until you jump from ten thousand feet that you know if you're SOL or not. I guess family is no different from other relationships in that respect...

We went down to dinner, still nattering away.

Once at the table, however, it was clear that I had a little problem -- one that was about six feet, five inches and two hundred and fifty pounds of attitude.

I couldn't really blame Bishop -- we hadn't exactly had a pleasant first meeting. Especially since he had annoyed me enough to make me let loose a wiseass Freudian remark -- insult a man's genitalia, and you've got an enemy for life. I didn't regret saying it though.

At the gate, he had shown all the self-righteous assurance I've come to despise in most "authority figures", especially cops. Don't get me wrong -- I know there are a lot of good ones out there. I've even met a few; but they seem to be outnumbered at times by the ones who get off on wielding their petty power.

I have a very short fuse for that kind of nonsense.

Still, Bishop meant something to Remy...the least I could do was try to get along with the man.

*No time like the present* I sighed to myself.


"What?" he almost, but didn't quite, snarl at me.

"You're a cop. I'm not. Nobody is saying we have to like each other. But could we please just tolerate one another while I'm here? I'm willing to do it for Remy if you are. Deal?"

He hesitated for a moment before nodding his head.

"Deal," he conceded.

I extended my hand. It was clear that he didn't want to take it, but he did anyway. Still, that was that -- I would abide by our truce as long as he did.

After that, the atmosphere in the room improved considerably: The rest of the meal was pleasant enough, and uneventful. We were just getting up from the table, when Scott got our attention.

"Gambit, Riposte...the rest of us were wondering if you've made plans for the evening. If not, we would like to take you both out tonight -- after all, family reunions don't happen every day."

I glanced over at Remy.

"We didn' have anyt'ing set..." he said as he turned to me, then continued, "what do you say, chère? You up for a night out?"

"I'm always up for a night out," I replied with a grin.

"Of course, I'll be more ready when my luggage arrives..."

"Y'look great as you are, ma soeur -- de usual, Scott?"

"Harry's it is..."

It was at that moment that Grognard arrived at the gatehouse with my luggage. When the car pulled up alongside the Jaguar, there were a few raised eyebrows. I hadn't told him which car to take, so he had come in his favorite -- the Rolls. Granted, that car couldn't be traced to me, and it blended in well enough with these surroundings, but I really would have preferred something a little more low-key.

Remy went down to the car with me, and took my suitcase from Grognard with a smile. My old friend didn't even blink when he saw my male counterpart; he simply nodded and intoned:

"Maître Remy, je présume?"4

My brother was a little flustered by that form of address, but he took it in stride.

His duty done, Grognard departed, and I scooted upstairs for a quick shower and change before we went out to the bar.

I was looking forward to a little fun.

It was a good night.

When Reine came down de stairs, I t'ink every man in de room was starin'. She had let her hair down, an' de outfit she was wearing...

Black velvet leggings, a red leather halter top dat matched her eye colour, an' high-heeled ankle boots; she looked like she jus' stepped off the catwalk in Paris.

We took de two vans down to Harry's -- Logan an' Jean were the designated drivers, as usual.

Turns out my sister is a lot like me...

De drinks started arrivin' at our table almost b'fore we sat down. Seems like we both de opposite sex. An' she played the room like de professional she was. She had even managed t' get Bishop to relax a little -- I didn' even think dat was possible.

Watchin' her, I started wondering what kind o' life she had when she was comin' up. It was clear enough dat she had a lot o' schooling -- she had gotten in a technical conversation wit' Beast, and that was gen'rally a mistake, but she managed t' hold her own. She had all de trappin's of money, but that wasn't t' say it had always been so. T'ief of her calibre can get rich pretty quick, as I know from experience. Made me wonder how she got to t'ievin' in the first place. I was goin' to have t'ask her sometime...

All I knew, wasn't our real family dat brought her up, any more than they did me.

I still couldn' quite believe that I had a idea was growin' on me fast, though. Dey say that family is the one place y' go where they have t' take you in, an' I didn' think it would be too long b'fore I needed another refuge. Mebbe I had finally found long as Reine never found out de truth, either.

She an' Logan were up playin' pool, and she was just as good as she was wit' cards...must be de genes. I joined in for a few games, an' it really became somet'ing of a duel between us, wit' neither gettin' the advantage for more than a shot at a time. I was so wrapped up in de game, I was almos' able to ignore Rogue an' Joseph, which was a relief.

When we were done at the table, we rejoined de others. They had jus' been talkin' about music, and Reine said she was a real blues fan. Dat's when Bobby made a mistake.

"Blues?... yeah right. Have you ever noticed that people with no worries tend to like really hurting music? I think most of them just want to gloat over how the other half lives..."

He was jus' joking, but she didn't t'ink it was funny. Her expression and voice didn' change, but her eyes... I only seen dat look before in the mirror...

Bobby didn' seem to notice.

"That depends on what you classify as 'no worries'..." she said softly.

"Come on...are you going to tell us you've got the blues?"

She just smiled as she got up.

"Hold that thought, Mr. Drake."

She walked over to where de band was gettin' ready for the next set. I had noticed that she had been talkin' with dem earlier, an' they had seemed to reach some kind o' agreement. She joined them as they made their way to de stage. Instead of jus' warming up for a bit, they started playin' and she stood at de mike.

It was an old Delta blues song done wit' a rocking beat -- a song dat I knew all too well.

I went down to the Crossroads -- fell down on my knees

Asked the Lord above, have mercy, save this poor child if you please

Her voice was as beautiful as de rest of her, but although de sound was rich, it was full of pain -- like a velvet pouch full o' broken glass.

Standing down at the Crossroads -- tried to flag a ride

Didn't nobody seem to know me, everybody passed me by

An' not just pain, eit'er -- my empathic sense was goin' like wild. She was givin' off anger in waves, enough t' make my head ache in reaction . Old feelings, an' deep, were drivin' her voice.

Sun's going down boys -- you're not going to catch me here

I haven't got no loving sweet man, got no one to feel my care

Loneliness -- resignation? Her feelings were hittin' a really familiar chord wit' me. I glanced over at Rogue an' Joe, but it didn' hurt as much as usual. Dat's the magic o' the blues -- helps to know someone else out there hurts de way you do. The song was comin' to an end, an' everyone was riveted to the stage. I felt her sing de last verse, more than heard it.

Run, you can run -- tell my friend, boy, Willie Brown

Lord, I'm standing at the Crossroads, I believe I'm sinking down...

Amen, ma soeur...

The music died. After a moment o' silence, de applause started, but Reine wasn' waiting around for it. She was already on her way back to our table, where dere were a lot o' surprised faces -- but mine wasn't one of them. When she arrived, she jus' looked straight at Bobby, an' said:

"In the words of Mr. Waters...'You're damn right I got the blues'..."

"You go, chère." I spoke quietly.

Our eyes met across de table, an' we bot' saw the same thing -- understanding.

"Buy you one, petit frère?"

"T'ought you'd never ask," I said with a half-smile.

We went up to de bar together, an' I was thinkin'.

*Dis could be the start of a beautiful friendship...*


Continued in Chapter 7.

a. Scientific note: Half-identical twins are actually among the more recent discoveries in human genetics (well, recent as in the last three years or so). However, from the research on the subject I remember reading, this trait is not genetically possible except in same-sex twins. But that's the real world -- this is fanfiction. This is my story, and therefore it's my world, and I thought this would be an interesting avenue to explore. Reality be damned...:-)

1. ....old sister.
2. Yes, my room, or the roof.
3. Your room, if you please.
4. Master Remy, I presume?

Musical note: The song Reine sang is a slightly altered version of the Robert Johnson classic, "Crossroad Blues".

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


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