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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.

The following 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, regardless of whether or not cash is involved, I'll just have to hunt you down and kill you.

Wild Cards

Part 10

After what had seemed like an interminable amount of time in the medlab, Hank finally discharged his unruly patients. In fact, Remy and Reine were there only for three days after the events in the Danger Room, but to them, it had seemed like forever -- especially Remy. On the first day, he had threatened to blast his way out, and he hadn't meant it facetiously. Even though he knew perfectly well that he was safe and among friends, he could never shake his unease about being in the place. As a result of their memory-sharing, Reine knew the exact cause of her brother's tension, and did her best to distract him from his memories. Indeed, had it not been for her diversions, Remy might well have made good on his threat.

Relieved as they both were to be out of the infirmary, they knew their discharge was far from the end of the matter. First, the secret was out about their psi talents; second, they had their joint power to deal with. Both remembered the merging with a mixture of fear and awe -- the onrush of power, suddenly able to hear and feel the thoughts and emotions of thousands; how light the Sentinels had felt when casually swatted aside with a telekinetic 'arm', using a kinetically charged 'fist' at the end of it to finish them off. The strength of it had been incredible -- and frightening.

Remy and Reine were fully aware of what the possible outcome of losing control of their kinetic powers could be. Just considering the potential aftermath of an uncontrolled reaction with their combined power was enough to make their blood run cold. They were going to need help -- both to learn how it worked, and how to control it. Although they were loath to admit it openly, Remy and Reine both realized their need for assistance, and accepted it. So they were unsurprised to find Jean waiting for them almost as soon as they exited the medlab.

Unhappy, but unsurprised -- each twin had the same thought.


# I heard that #

"We're sorry Jean -- but right now, I don' t'ink either of us want t' think about what happened, or to talk 'bout what happened -- yet again -- f' at least a little while."

"Damn straight," Reine sighed.

"Come on, Jean, cut us a little slack -- please?"

Jean looked at them sympathetically, but there was no give in her reply.

"I'm sorry, but you both know how important it is to get a hold of your new abilities, especially when we're dealing with that kind of raw power."

The twins groaned in unison.

" Jean, please, we're not asking for much -- how about two hours? Damn it, give us two bloody hours, just two -- with absolutely no mention about our powers. I'm begging you."

" S'il vous plaît, Jean ... you don' know what dis has been like," Remy began, earnestly gazing into Jean's green eyes with his red ones.

"First, de accident, or whatever y' want t' call it, then bein' Hank's lab rats f' three days, Jeannie, an' you know how I hate labs, an' then dere's all the talkin' been going on about us, an' what happened, and why didn' we tell anyone, an' both of us ain' used t' airing personal stuff, Jeannie, you know it ain' like us to do dat, and now all we want is two hours 'fore we go t'rough it again, Jean, jus' deux heures, you c'n give us that much, can't ya, cherie, please?"

Jean felt a little off-balance -- maybe she had been pushing too hard...

"Oh, all right," she relented, " two hours -- I'll see you later."

Brother and sister sighed in relief, and thanked Phoenix profusely. As soon as Jean was out of earshot, Reine turned to her twin, eyebrow raised.


"Don' knock it -- it got us two hours' worth o' peace," Remy grumbled.

"Who's complaining? For that act of heroism, I believe I have a bottle of forty year old Armagnac with your name on it -- and I'll throw in full access to my tobacco supply. Heck, it's almost enough to make me consider letting you off the hook for that stunt you pulled ... almost."

Remy grinned.

"Act o' heroism?"

"Saving me from myself, brother -- one more question about what happened, and I would've started breaking heads."

Gambit's eyes gleamed in amusement, and his smile grew broader.

"An' they say dat I'm de hot-tempered one..." he said impudently.

"Nope, we're about the same. I just hide it better -- which isn't surprising, since I'm twice the con you'll ever be," she returned with a smug grin.

"Hey, no need f' disrespect, ma soeur..."

"It's not disrespect so much as a simple statement of fact," Reine smirked.

"We'll see 'bout that ..." Remy countered, with a challenging glint in his eye.

He would have continued, but he was interrupted by the rather insistent grumbling of his stomach.

While they were patients, Hank had insisted on a specific diet for maximum nutrition. In their opinion, as healthful as it might have been, it left a lot to be desired -- primarily taste. On their second day in the lab, they had solemnly christened the regimen "Château Bland". Now, free of their dietary restrictions, they both realized how hungry they really were.

"It's almost two, and I'm starving. After all we've been through, I'm in the mood for some comfort food. I could kill for a plate of grillades and grits ..."

"Mmm -- what kind o' meat do you use? I almos' always use pork myself, but if dere's any veal ..."

The conversation continued as they made their way to the kitchen.

Reine pushed away from the table with a satisfied sigh. They had been in luck -- someone had bought groceries that morning, and all the necessary ingredients for a good Cajun grillades were in supply. More, there had been a six-pack in the fridge, ready and waiting.

After cheerfully bickering over the preparation of their meal, and talking about their spice preferences as it cooked, the two of them had eaten themselves into repletion.

Leaning his chair back, balancing on its two back legs, Remy propped his feet up on the counter and rubbed his stomach contentedly.

"Now dat was bliss. Next time, I do the cookin' -- you ain' lived until y' tried my red beans an' rice."

Reine smiled.

"You're on -- that's one dish that is too good by far to only have on Mondays, anyway -- tradition be damned."

Remy returned her smile, but his face fell when he noticed the wall clock. It wouldn't be too long until the break that he had finagled out of Jean would be over -- and then it would be back to the questions and examinations. As skilled thieves, and as naturally private people, they both hated the invasive scrutiny they would be under. However, they knew it was necessary -- and unavoidable.

"Only forty minutes left, Reine -- better make it last."

"Alas, all good things must end," she sighed in resignation, and downed the last of her beer.

"But I know what I want to do with the time we've got left -- loosen up my fingers. I haven't touched a piano in four days. Feel up to a little music, Remy?"

"Bien sûr ..."

Without further words, they made their way to the conservatory.

Once they arrived, Reine bade her brother to take a seat. He did so as she quickly ran through some practice scales -- she was pleased to note that the instrument was perfectly tuned.

"So ... what are y' going t' play?"

"Something cathartic. We both need it, but this piece is for you, petit frère."

He wasn't sure what to expect -- Joplin, maybe, or Gershwin. So he was surprised when she began to play. Immediately, he recognized her selection and promptly lost himself in the music.

By turns melancholy and brooding, hopeful and tender, fiery and explosive, he was surrounded by the glorious sound. They were both unaware of the passing time. Remy's senses were entirely focused on the music and its performer, while Reine was lost to everything but the sounds she knew in her head, and brought to life on the keyboard.

At last, the ultimate note of the driving finale died away into silence, taking with it their fears of the upcoming ordeal, leaving them a measure of peace. They were silent themselves for a little while, savouring the moment. Then, their eyes met -- matching pools of black, with garnet-coloured irises.

"Beethoven ... sonata twenty-three, opus fifty-seven -- 'Appassionata',"a Remy said quietly.

"You know, it's always been my favorite piece of piano music," Reine mused, "even more so, now. I always saw myself in it -- but now, I see you too."

Remy laughed softly.

"Guess it's somet'ing else we got in common. Y' know, it's funny chère -- I always saw m'self as alone, but now, however I turn, dere you are. And y' know what? I like it."

"You get used to it, don't you?" she smiled.

Then they both frowned, sensing someone approaching the room. They knew what that meant.

"Time's up," Jean called.

"We know, chère, we know ... an' we're comin' ...."

Phoenix waited at the doorway as the two got up, and made their way toward her, to what they knew was going to be an extremely long evening.

Over the next week, the twins spent their days with either Jean or Betsy, developing fine control over their separate psi talents, in what the two telepaths called "a psychic crash course". The purpose was twofold: first, to develop their individual powers to the fullest; second, to lay the groundwork for controlling their joint ability.

The days were long. With the exception of mealtimes and a couple of hours each day which Remy and Reine insisted upon having to themselves, all their time was taken up with training. Every night, the two of them went to bed with migraines, both from the strain of exercising their psi powers, and from the vast amount of information which Phoenix and Psylocke were cramming into them. Privately, Gambit referred to the data overload as "everyt'ing you didn' want t' know 'bout the Astral Plane, an' never cared enough t' ask."

Although their individual mental powers were different, their curriculum was the same for a reason. Since no-one was quite sure how their unified mind functioned, it was theorized that having both of them learn the ins and outs of their separate powers would reinforce the lessons in their shared consciousness.

Once both resident telepaths were satisfied with the twins' basic psi competence, they were allowed one full day of rest, which they used well.

Remy slept in until noon, then enjoyed a long ride on his bike, clearing his head. Returning to the mansion, he found time to shoot several games of pool with Logan and Bishop before taking a quick shower and getting ready for an evening out. As he and Storm had barely had time to speak to one another of late, the two friends had made plans for dinner and a night at the theatre to catch up with each other.

Reine also slept late, but still made an extended full-contact sparring session with Wolverine. Nursing a number of bruises, but feeling satisfied (she had taken him three falls out of four), she relaxed with a lengthy soak in the tub, then left for an afternoon-long shopping trip with Rogue. Her evening was spent in planning; after all, she had merely agreed to put her work "on hold" during her stay. Certainly, she had done and would do nothing illegal while at the mansion. However, that didn't mean that she couldn't start preparations. Although she still had plenty of time before before the next act would begin, she liked to have the opportunity to consider her options carefully...

In anticipation of the day to follow, both twins retired early.

Phoenix and Psylocke had done their best to prepare them, but it still wasn't enough to make either Remy or his sister completely at ease for what they were about to attempt.

Gambit thought at her.

*How y' feeling?*

# Just dandy # Reine replied, opening a telepathic link between them.

# Menteuse #1 his thought came through to her smugly.

# Okay, so I lied. I might not be an empath, but I know you're just as nervous as I am -- and if I asked, you'd say you were fine.#

# T'ink you know me too well, ma soeur... #

Riposte snorted in reply.

"Are you both ready?" Jean called over the comm from the observation deck.

"Just about," Reine returned from the Danger Room floor, where she stood with her brother.

"I've already made the telepathic connection -- now Remy just has to do his thing."

Gambit took a deep breath.

"An' here we go..." he said, as he linked with his sister empathically.

Nothing happened -- at which everyone was relieved.

# At least we know it ain' goin' to happen jus' like dat every time...#

# Thank God...#

Betsy broke in to their conversation.

# Very well -- it looks as if you needn't worry about the power kicking in automatically every time you link, which is good ... Riposte, you try to initiate it -- Gambit, don't try to help her in any way, just let her have a go on her own. #

Still nothing. After they had switched roles, and found that Remy was similarly unable to create the bond by himself, there was only one option left to try.

# Now, we know it can happen instinctively, on a subconscious level. From what Elizabeth and I can figure, if you have any conscious control at all, you both have to initiate the bond while you're linked like this. Just give me a minute to get clear, then both of you try... # Phoenix instructed.

# Ready, petit frère? #

# As I'm ever goin' t' be ...#

# Let's do it ...#

Both twins concentrated, feeling the spiral inward begin as they did so -- separate thoughts and feelings blended into one, like a jigsaw puzzle coming together, disparate elements joining to create a unified whole.

# Hello? # Jean called out tentatively.

After a moment, she was answered.

# Hello. #


Continued in Chapter 11.

a. As you can guess, the Appassionata ("Passionate" or " Impassioned") is my favorite piece of piano music. And it actually does remind me of Gambit and his personality.

1. Liar (feminine form).

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


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