Like everyone else around him, Remy noticed her when she walked in. Not even the video recording he'd hacked from Stark after the current roster for the Avengers had gone off the grid for a couple of weeks before mysteriously returning a couple of months back, had done her justice. Remy caught himself staring, for just a few seconds despite the fact that he worked with stunningly beautiful women every day. Tony Stark's speculation on this woman's background and history as a woman out of this world's ancient myths, a Greek Goddess (or demi-goddess, Remy supposed, to be completely accurate), suddenly made a lot more sense, as Diana of Themyscira was definitely an image of womanhood ideal.
Obviously Remy wasn't the only one thinking that (although Remy preferred his goddesses a little more earthly, like Ororo). He suspected he was the only one in the room to recognize her, though. And it was because of that recognition that he only twitched when the first of eager, would-be suitors for the night started salivating and metaphorically (and not so metaphorically in a couple of cases) lining up to woo her. If ever there was a woman who could take care of herself, be it against unwanted attention or megalomaniacal villains intent on world domination, it would be this self-styled Wonder Woman, even if she had found herself in the wrong universe. Remy turned back to playing out his hand, though he feared it a losing proposition as the other players were still too enamored themselves.
"Bet or fold, mon ami," Remy prodded the player opposite him mildly. "The lady will be there after you lose."
"Unless she gets put off by being hit on with every step and sip she takes," the player to Remy's left pointed out with a nod in Diana's general direction and the crowd of both men and women now pressing near her. His tone was a mixture of dismay and admiration, like he wanted to join in the crowed but was feeling guilty about the want.
Seeing the ring on the man's left hand let Remy know why he was feeling guilty. "A woman like that, Remy thinks, she is used to the attention. And the bad pick-up lines," Remy added with a wince, shared around the table as one of the Romeos was treated to a look of disdain even the Virgin Mary couldn't have expressed better.
"Woman like that has no business coming into a bar like this one, alone, not unless she's looking not to end up alone," the player to Remy's right complained.
"She's obviously is asking for it?" Remy asked with a raised brow and a thread of menace in his own tone, though the boor was too besotted with Diana to even notice.
"Hell, yes," the other nodded vigorously, before tossing back the rest of his beer -- for fortification and false courage no doubt -- then tossing down his cards.
"He honestly thinks he's going to be the one who's allowed to sit next to her?" the only woman at Remy's table choked out with a laugh.
Even as they watched, their drunken companion was also turned down and the stool next to Diana remained empty. Remy tried to decide whether it was a stand in for Cinderella's glass slipper, or Arthur's stone holding Excalibur, before thinking they were one in the same: the after and before picture or at least flip sides of the same card.
"Maybe you should chat her up instead?" the table's fifth player prodded the woman who had just spoken. "Maybe guys aren't her thing?"
Remy had wondered that himself, given Diana was allegedly one of the Greek Amazons on her own version of Earth according to the file on the Avenger's mainframe. Not that. Remy would never be so callow as to make such a speculation aloud. He noted the scowl such a suggestion engendered from the last player at the table, however, and frowned while taken a better look at what he had on hand, just in case. This being a country bar, even if it was in the middle of upstate New York, Remy shouldn’t have been surprised at the whiff of homophobia, though even the most ill-mannered of bigots normally didn't mind the fantasy of two women together. The distinction being it was okay when it was done for the viewer's behalf, Remy supposed, and not out of the women's own preferences.
"Maybe I should," the woman agreed with the original suggestion and threw down her own cards. "Least ways, someone ought to end the pitiful display you men are making." She picked up her original stake and stomped off, leaving them with only four and a broken deal, as the others also set down the cards after she had, returning their attention to the more interesting floor show.
Remy collected the cards up out of habit and slipped them into a pocket, before also collecting the pot; they were the ones who'd all forfeited, not him. He then pushed back from the table himself. While he was no telepath like Jeannie or Charles, he'd been able to read people long before he'd ever heard of the X-Men, and the crowd around Diana was beginning to turn resentful, as she continued to refuse to play the game right.
The boorish drunk had been right about one thing; beautiful women didn't normally walk into a bar for a drink by herself. At the least there should have been rain she was escaping from, or a band playing to have attracted her by their music spilling out onto the street. If not something like that, she should be moving on to one of the pool tables, dart games, or be inviting herself into one of the poker games, seeking competition over companionship. If she wanted to drink alone, she could have bought a bottle and taken it back to her room, or at least moved away from the main counter to take her drink to one of the booths. While Remy doubted anyone here could actually think of Diana as being a working girl, there were enough patrons drunk enough to at least treat her as such, and even more, drunk enough to consider their fellows as rivals competing for her.
Either way, things were about to turn ugly and Diana was either incredibly naïve about her own presence, or she was supremely arrogant and got off instead by watching people fight over her.
Unfortunately, Remy didn't know enough about her character or her world to decide which was the more likely -- history attributed both traits to the Amazons, and Stark's notes had only said she and her team had fought alongside the Avengers to save a world or two from the ubiquitous evil overlord wannabe, that their Justice League was rather grim and intense, actually not unlike Stark's impression of the X-Men. Given the reasons and history behind the personalities of his fellow X-Men, Remy couldn't help thinking Diana was more kindred spirit than egotistical. Either way, unless he wanted to leave, he wasn't going to be able to continue to ignore the shifting mood of the crowd. And bar fights really weren't all that much fun without Logan at his side.
Remy changed his course and made his way through the throng of admirers with only a hint of suggestion and touch. His ability to charm others was as much a part of his looks and training, as a function of his mutant abilities; a matter of an easy smile and a soft word or two, along with the just the slightest push to reinforce what people were usually willing to do for him anyway. In no time he found himself at the stool and Diana's side.
"I am already waiting for someone, thank you."
Diana's voice suited her looks and history; all honest liveliness and smoky promise, despite her having no doubt said the exact same thing any number of times before Remy's arrival.
"A woman like you, chère, it's no wonder," Remy responded with a smile and a signal for the bartender to bring two glasses of the wine she'd chosen. "However, you will stay here repeating yourself over and over until your companion makes their appearance, and most likely inspire some form of bar fight, and Remy assumes your … sponsor would not be any happier about that than you will be, Diana. If you would allow Remy to escort you to a booth and keep you company until your companion arrives, we can spare you the worst of our local behaviors. Unless inspiring that was your intent? If that is true then just say the word and Remy will throw the first punch."
Remy knew he'd caught her attention even before he mentioned her name, and now she turned to look at him, her expression warring between cautious interest and indignation over his accusation.
"I do not know you … Remy."
"Remy LeBeau, at your service, chère, of the N'awlins LeBeaus" Remy offered with a bow and a brush of his lips over the back of her hand. He then released it when she twitched and deftly reached over to picked up their newly delivered glasses before taking a step away, knowing she was caught without him having to actually make the suggestion, much less emphasis it. "We have several mutual acquaintances and, I imagine, certain responsibilities in common," he continued as he led her away from the bar and toward one of the booths that afforded the perfect view of the front door. Those booths were full of other patrons, but a quick cock of his head, a raised brow and a quirky grin had a group of rowdies pulling each other out of one of them -- and congratulating him with their own expressions and gestures.
Unfortunately, while Diana might have been naïve about certain expectations and interactions, she picked up on their innuendo and balked, not just stopping from following Remy, but starting to turn away.
"Ignore them, chère," Remy called out to her. "Remy promises that his intentions are pure. While you are a vision that certainly deserves worship, Remy finds himself currently in a monogamous relationship, at least to the point of playing with others only when we are all playing together. Plus Antony would most upset if Remy did anything to upset you."
"You know all the right names," Diana acknowledged as she turned around. "But I only seem to know one associated with you. What is your lady's name?" She asked as she took a seat across from Remy.
- Remy found himself blushing, not because he was ashamed, of course, but from not knowing how well naming Logan would be received by a woman from another world, even if she was reputed to be an Amazon. "Actually, it is -- ah, Tasha."
"Tasha?" Diana repeated. "Really?"
"No, chère, Remy believes Natasha is your date," Remy said with a soft laugh and a gesture toward the door and the stunning red head who'd just entered with a group of revelers who'd already started their party. Natalia Alianovna Romanova aka Natasha Romanoff aka the Black Widow. late of the old Soviet Union and now rumored to be not only one of Stark's Avengers, but an active member of SHIELD. She and Remy had cross paths more than once when she'd been a spy and he'd been active in the Guild, occasionally going after the same target. Nowadays they both played on the side of the angels more often than not and, if Remy remembered correctly, they were even on who'd come out on top over the other back when they'd been friendly rivals, so he wasn't anticipating any trouble.
Until he got a clearer look at her and saw that her study of the bar was more distressed than just looking for Diana. As was typical, Tasha wore all black, a stylish sweater and tight pants; good for hiding dishevel as well as blood, but the long scuff mark on otherwise fashionable boots gave away that something had happened prior to her arrival.
Diana stood, which was enough to catch Tasha's attention. She started quickly toward them, barely mindful of the patrons she was pushing her way through, giving a wave that had her arm raised a few seconds longer than necessary … if she hadn't also been firing one of her specialized darts that Remy knew was hidden in underneath the heavy ornate cuffs she wore on both wrists.
Remy rose to his feet himself and started shepherding Diana toward a clear space that also happened to be closer to the door leading to the back office -- and an exit into a back alley that he'd already acquainted himself with when he'd first scouted out this bar. In the next instant Tasha's dart hit, not someone in the room, but one of the overhead sprinklers, setting it and the fire alarm off. The room dissolved into chaos, with the patrons stampeding toward the more obvious front exit, especially once the coin Remy had charged and left in the booth exploding, adding a bang and lots of smoke to Tasha's diversion.
"A bit of overkill, LeBeau, but I appreciate your grasp of the obvious," was Tasha's greeting. "Sorry I'm late, Diana, but …" She shrugged and helped Remy hustle Diana from the bar. "I ran into a few idiots from AIM, who seem quite determined to detain me."
"And they're still standing?" Remy asked with a laugh. "You're not getting soft, are you chéri?"
"I promised Tony I'd keep our guest out of trouble," Tasha admitted.
Diana's scowl was still visible in the dim light of the alleyway. "I assure you, I can take care of myself, Natasha."
"I'm worried, not about you, but what tall, dark and brooding would do to me," was Tasha's response. "Bruce," Tasha then explained when both Remy and Diana gave her a look of confusion.
Diana's sudden smile was soft and private. "He would do harm only to those who might chase us, not allies," she assured them. "I like your description, though. Only do not say it when Wally might overhear, or it will make its way back to our world and then there might be some small harm."
Remy coughed. "Remy is thinking we had better be worrying about the greater harm of the moment," he suggested with a gesture toward the end of the alley that began filling, not with fleeing patrons, but a handful of those who had a certain air and menace to them. He pulled some of the cards from his pocket. "They do seem most determined," he couldn't help adding when the count expanded to nine of the ghastly outfitted miscreants.
"I will stand with you, Sister," Diana offered.
"Count Remy in."
Four more of the uniformed miscreants joined their brethren, and Remy could only smile wider. Logan would be sorry he missed it.
- finis -