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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.

Wild Cards

Part 14

Reine was busy in the kitchen of the X-Mansion. It had been agreed at the beginning of her stay that she would be treated as any other resident, and all things being equal, it was her turn to prepare lunch. It had been some time since she had had to cook for a crowd, and she had almost forgotten how much she enjoyed it. Humming along to a tune on the radio, she was critically surveying her handiwork when a voice broke the silence.

" Impressive ... is there anyt'ing left that I c'n help with? "

She turned toward the sound with a warm smile. Gambit stood in the doorway, leaning against the frame.

"Hey bro -- there sure is. Would you be a sweetheart and make some béchamel for me? I'll need about six cups ..."

"Béchamel? D' you mean t' tell me you're makin' lasagna, an' not red beans an' rice?" he pouted, but with a gleam in his eye.

"Yep -- after all, man does not live by andouille alone ... besides -- you're the one who owes me red beans and rice, if memory serves. And I know you love lasagna anyway, so quit giving me puppy-dog eyes -- I'm immune."

Remy smiled broadly, then eyed the laden counter appreciatively.

"Some spread y' settin' up, ma soeur. Scott's going t' be sorry he missed it -- He loves Italian."

" Imperious Leader's loss, our gain. More for us -- Wings, Betts, and Jean are out too ..."

She rolled her eyes.

"Only eleven for lunch."

"Dat all? We must be goin' easy on you on account o' you bein' a guest."

Reine chuckled.

"Yeah, right -- shut up and start cooking ..."

For a time, they worked in companionable silence, until Reine's concern finally got the better of her. After Remy's decision that morning, she wanted to know how he was coping.

" Everything okay, Remy? " she asked softly.

He sighed, knowing that she wasn't talking about cooking. Since entering the kitchen, he had detected her worry for him, and had been wondering when she was going to say something.

" F' now, oui .. Ask me again later t'night," he replied wearily.

# Want to tell me about it? #

She had switched to telepathy to ensure the privacy of their conversation. Even knowing that he intended to tell all to his friends, she would protect his secret until he chose to divulge it himself -- and they both knew the acoustics of the room allowed words to carry. It was a gesture that Remy appreciated.

Through the telepathic link she had established, Remy slowly told her of his thoughts, actions, and decisions of the morning. As he did, he felt her unwavering support -- warm, constant, comforting -- like sunlight on bare skin. He allowed himself to touch those feelings and the deeper core of love behind them, drawing strength from his sister's emotions. In the past, there had been times when he cursed his empathy, as he too often experienced the pain of others and amplified his own. Now, he found himself grateful for his extra gift.

While he told his story, she said nothing -- she simply listened until he was done. It was a comfort to be asked no questions, just allowed to pour out his feelings. When at last he was finished, her approval could be felt almost like a physical object.

# You're doing the right thing, Remy # she told him firmly.

# What? Tellin' them, or lettin' Stormy an' Rogue have de first crack at me? # he answered with grim humour.

Her mental sigh was exasperated.

# That's what I like about you, petit frère -- that bright, positive attitude. What say you let them decide how they feel before you start the self-flagellation routine? #

# I'm tryin', chère -- I really am. But ...#

# But me no buts! You won't know either way until tonight, so there's no point in worrying about it now -- let it go #

Remy smirked.

# Oui, maman ... #1

# Watch it, brother mine -- I still owe you, remember? Not a good idea to add fuel to the fire # she warned with a grin.

# C'mon ... how much more trouble c'n I be in? #

Her grin grew broader. It was somewhat reminiscent of a Great White shark going in for the kill.

* Uh oh ...*

# On second thought, don' answer dat #

Reine shrugged her shoulders eloquently before resuming their conversation verbally.

" So, what are your plans until then?"

" Don' have any, actually. Why? Y' got somet'ing in mind? "

" I figure you could stand to get away from here for a bit. Want to spend some quality time in town with your favorite sister?"

" Doin' what? "

" How 'bout if we figure it out as we go? "

Remy smiled.

" I think y' got a deal ... "

Stepping out of the shower, Rogue quickly towelled herself off. After her training session with Bishop and Logan, she had felt like a limp rag, and she revelled in the revitalizing sensation of being clean.

Joseph had originally been set to join them, but he had suffered some sort of fainting spell that morning, and Beast had sternly ordered him to rest.

* Just as well, Ah guess * she thought as she put on her robe.

* It's still all Logan can do ta be civil to the man. Mind you, all things considered, cain't say as Ah blame him ... *

Taking another towel, she wound her long hair into a turban, then put on her slippers and walked down the hallway to her room.

She opened her door and stepped inside, closing it behind her. It was as she was walking toward the dresser that she noticed it.

A stark white envelope lay on the floor, a few feet in from the doorway. Curious, she walked to where it was and picked it up, noticing the bold handwriting, in solid black ink -- Remy's. Her brow furrowed, as she carefully opened the sealed letter while moving to the chair in front of her vanity.

* White stationery, black ink -- Ah wonder what's up ... * she thought with concern.

For a cheerfully avowed scoundrel, Remy possessed quite the set of old-fashioned mannerisms, and one of them dealt with letter-writing -- white paper and black ink were reserved for very serious topics.

With some trepidation, she withdrew the carefully folded paper from its nest, smoothed it out and began to read.

My dear Rogue,

I've made up my mind. I'm tired of running away from my past, hoping that distance will make my sins disappear. I never really believed that would happen, but I guess that self-delusion can be considered a survival instinct. You've carried a Hell of my making in your head for a long time now -- my history. My curse.
In Seattle, I managed to convince myself that I was protecting you by keeping silent -- I now realize I was protecting myself. I was afraid that if you knew the truth, you would leave me for good -- but you deserve the truth, chère. You always have.
I am still afraid, but there comes a time when you have to face your fears -- to do anything less is to deny yourself, and the ones you care about. And how I do care about you, Rogue ... I'll tell you everything, even knowing that you'll probably hate me for what I've done. All I can do is swear to you that I am not the man I was, thank the Saints -- and that no matter how much you might come to hate me, it can't be as much as I hate myself.
And lastly, no matter what happens between us, please know that I will always love you.
Rocks by the lake, ten o' clock tonight.

Yours always,

* Ah don't believe it ... *

She had given up hoping for this some time ago, and she found herself thinking about the old adage of taking care of what you wish for ...

Her eyes flashed with determination.

* C'mon now, gal -- you're the one who wanted the truth. If it's as bad as he says it is ... he's bein' brave enough ta face it -- the least you can do is be brave enough to listen ... *

Entering her attic room, Ororo immediately noticed the plain white envelope against the wood grain of the floor. She had just finished tending to her herb garden at the rear of the mansion, and had intended to turn her attention to her houseplants next.

With a fluid motion, she stooped and picked it up from where it lay.

* Remy's handwriting ... *

Like Rogue, she too had noticed the combination of ink and stationery, and was more than a little worried as she opened the letter.

Dear Ororo,

You've known me longer than anyone else here, and there's something I have to confess. It happened a long time before I ever met up with you, padnat, but it's been eating away at me ever since it happened. Even when you were just a child, I think you knew it was shame that was driving me, you just never knew what it was that I was ashamed of.
I'm tired of hiding, 'Ro.
I'm tired of running from the shadows of my past.
It's time I faced up to what I did, even if you'll be tempted to kill me where I stand for it. And no, chère -- I'm not exaggerating. After what I did, there were times I thought about doing the job myself -- but then I realized that would be taking an easy way out -- one that I didn't deserve.
I need to tell you the truth, Ororo -- all the more so because it concerns you, and you deserve nothing less -- even though you'll hate me for it. You've been my best friend, and there aren't words to tell you what you mean to me.
I don't expect forgiveness -- that's not an option -- but I hope you will find it in your heart to give me closure.
Rocks by the lake, ten o' clock tonight.

Friends always,

She read it over twice -- three times. The thought that her cheerful, devil-may-care best friend had once been in despair great enough to consider suicide ... that told her the magnitude of whatever crime he wished to confess, perhaps more than the words he would speak to her later.

Whatever else Remy was, he had never been one to choose to escape his problems in any way. He would face them down, with a shrug of his shoulders and a grin on his face ... that his deed, whatever it was, could have made him react in such a fashion was horrifying.

* Before he ever met me ... *

The thoughts came unbidden to her mind -- had it not been for Remy, she would have been dead ... as would most of the others ... many a villain would have triumphed ... and the world would undoubtedly have been a darker, uglier place ...

... but for a charming Cajun thief.

Everyone on the team tended to consider him an outsider, perhaps because he kept to himself almost as much as Logan did. Ororo wondered if any of them had truly considered just how important Remy had become to them over the years. She doubted it.

She considered the contents of the letter again for some clue as to what he wished to tell her that night. The only thing that stuck in her mind was the depth of remorse, and his assurance that whatever he had done was irredeemable.

* Whatever he wishes to tell me has weighed upon his conscience for years -- that much is clear. I have relied upon his strength often enough in the past. I hope he knows that he can rely on mine ...*


Continued in Chapter 15.

1. Yes mom. ( Probably not a necessary translation, but you never know...)

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


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