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Dancing in the Flames

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Dancing in the Flames

Remy shifted his collar until it was straight and tightened his tie. He pulled his hair back into a tight braid. Scott shook his head. "You're wearing a suit? Oh, come here, that thing is not going to get straight if you don't look in a mirror."

"It's mornin'. I don't look int' mirrors b'fore noon."

"Why are you up anyway?"

"Because I've a meetin'. I need t' take care of Alice. Chat said he found hisself a partner and I want t' know who."

"I'm coming with you."

"No, you are not," Remy said very distinctly.

Scott straightened Remy's tie. "Yes, I am." He pressed a kiss to the thief's palm.

"Non."

"I'll just call Logan and he can go with you."

Remy bit back his laughter. "Non, cher. Y' ain't that stupid. Logan and Creed'll go off an' draw attention t' po' Alice."

Scott stood up. He kissed the Cajun gently and Remy's eyes drifted shut. "Then, your choice is me because Jean won't be up for another three hours."

"Scott."

"I'll even change and look professional. I'll handcuff you to the shower if I have to."

"Like that's gonna stop m', cher?"

Scott just looked at him with his infuriatingly bland poker face.

"Fine. Go change. And shave. Y' look like a crook."

"You'd know. And if you *do* leave without me, I'll have Logan track you. You don't want that do you?"

"Y' are an evil, sick bastard."

"Love you too, sweetie."

"Fuck y', cher."

"Later." Scott left the Cajun in the dining room. Remy sighed and slammed his fist into the wall. Good thing Jean wanted to wallpaper it anyway, he sighed, noticing the dent he'd put into the wall. Logan wandered in after hearing the thump. He looked Remy up and down then stalked around him. Remy held his arms out for inspection.

"Like what y' see?"

"Ain't yer usual style. Where's the Armani?"

"In m' closet. I ain't wearin' Armani t' see Chat."

"Ya ought to be wearin' body armor. He lays a hand on ya and I'll kill him, Remy." Logan pulled Remy into a kiss. "Wish I could mark ya more, but it'd play Hell on yer suit." Remy settled his arms around Logan's neck and held him into another kiss.

"Logan, I ain't screwing him. Y' know that, right?"

"Then how'd his smell get all over ya, kid?"

"Because he rubbed off against me," Remy growled. "Nobody listens t' me."

"Kid, anyone ever actually define rape fer ya?" Logan asked. Remy stepped back a pace, confusion on his face.

"What y' talkin' about?"

Logan shook his head. "When ya get home, we're headin' out fer a nice long talk in the woods."

"I'm hopin' y' just mis-spoke."

"Nope."

"Merde."

"Trust me."

"I do." Remy settled his suitcoat.

"Ready?" Scott asked pulling on his jacket.

Logan stared. "Yer goin' with him?"

"Yes."

"Ya got a gun?"

"I don't carry."

"Ya should." Logan looked to Remy. "Give him one of yers."

"He can shoot?" Remy blinked.

"He can intimidate."

"Should I leave it loaded?"

"I'm insulted. I could carry Jean's."

"The Magnum, in that suit? Non," Remy contradicted. He handed over a nine millimeter. "Shoot f' the balls, cher."

Scott aimed carefully at Logan's crotch and the Canadian covered himself. "Don't damage what yer gonna need, boy."

"Watch your mouth, Canuck, and I won't have to."

"Creed's gonna eat him up."

"Non, he ain't gonna get near him." Remy shook his head. "Feel like I'm workin' f' the gov'ment."

"You look like a drug dealer."

"Or a lawyer," Scott added.

"Bot' y' deserve a beatin' f' that. Let's go b'fore this gets ugly."

"Ain't possible," Logan muttered as Remy nudged Scott towards the door.

Scott raised a brow.

"You heard me, pretty boy. Go on. Go, while I'm still willin' to let you boys leave."

Remy shoved Scott's shoulder. "Come on. We're runnin' late an' Belle ain't gonna take kindly t' it."

****

"When is he supposed to get here?"

"Stop pacin', chere, he'll be here."

"Belle, you and I both know that it's before noon. He could be off in a ditch somewhere."

"Non, I doubt it. He's probably too tingly t' know where t' go."

"He's coming up the front drive with Cyclops in the passenger side, so you girls be nice and I'll go greet him," Mystique said changing form.

Belle whistled. "Y' are a cruel bitch. That's why I like y', Mystique."

"Always a pleasure, sweetie. Just sit back and watch Auntie Raven have a go."

Cherry wandered in from the side room. "I miss something?" she asked with a yawn.

"Nope. Come here, sweetheart."

****

"Oh, this is pretty." Remy rolled his eyes. "Should've guessed."

"What? Oh, damn."

"Yeah. Twat."

"Gambit!"

The thief grinned at him and banged out of the car. "Bonjour, Raven."

"Hello, sugah." Mystique tossed her hair and the white stripe settled to the side. "Like what ya see, Swamp Rat?"

"Always have. Come here, chere, we give the girls a good show, non? Mebbe y' keep ole Victor out of m' hair f' once."

"He wants in your pants, not your hair," Raven said stroking along his cheek. He pulled her into a tight kiss, wrapping his fingers into her hair. She pulled back. "You are a naughty boy, LeBeau."

"I do my best, chere."

Scott cleared his throat. "Didn't we have a talk about this?"

"Well, *this* one ain't gonna put me into a coma."

"Gambit."

Remy rolled his eyes. "Oui, cher, no kissin' my exes. Y' are such a pain."

"You have no idea," Scott purred.

Raven's eyes widened. "You are a good influence on him, honey." She pinched Remy's cheek. "Let's go in. Victor's having a sniff around the Rabbit Hole."

"Good t' know. I was gonna send Wolverine."

"That would not be good."

****

Logan laid down next to Jean and stroked down her spine. She shifted and made a warm murmuring noise. He continued to stroke, listening to her breathing. He liked quiet moments like this. He was storing up memories for the inevitable. He pressed a kiss to the nape of her neck and she woke with a sleepy smile. "Hey," he said gently.

"Hey," she replied. She patted the bed. "Need a teddy."

He smirked and settled down next to her. She settled in his arms and went back to sleep, her hair spread across his chest.

*****

"Slim Summers!" Cherry exclaimed. Scott's jaw dropped as she stalked towards him. She grabbed his lapels and kissed him full on the mouth. "You miserable little shit, where the fuck did you go?"

"Xavier's," Scott said blankly. He stared at her, trying to place her.

"Where's the guitar?"

"Cheryl?"

"Cherry, please."

"You didn't get into trouble because I was underage did you?" he asked suddenly.

"No one ever asked. You grew up nice."

"Non, chere, he's a bitch."

"Takes one, Rems," she snapped back. "Come on. Alice, you didn't tell me that Remy was sleeping with my missing singer."

"You said he was blind," Alice informed her. "As you can see, Scott isn't."

"I used to be," Scott admitted. "I was when she knew me." He looked between them, then at the blonde who was watching with a rather familiar smirk on her face. "Belle," he greeted. She inclined her head, then put her hand out for Remy. The thief kissed her hand.

"We have some arrangements to make. Mystique?"

"I'll watch them."

Belle settled down at the kitchen counter. Remy perched on the counter next to her, one leg kicking idly at the paneling. "We're going to kill them," she stated.

"Of course."

"And your X-men agree to this?"

"Non."

"You're going against them? Thank God, I thought they had you brainwashed."

"Not yet. I'm not going to tell Scotty of course, but I'm not going to let anyone get away with hurting our own."

"Good. When Chat gets back with the scents we'll see where we go from there. How did Logan react?"

"It wasn't Logan, it was Scott," Remy sighed. He shifted. "Belle, answer me this, do I attract possessive bastards for a reason?"

"Yes," she said with a smile. "You do."

"Why?"

"Because under that cocky fade, you need someone to watch your back. And once someone gets a taste of you, they never want to let go. Trust me on that one."

"You have."

"No, I'm just willing to share." She squeezed his knee. "Besides, I can always kill off my competition."

"Jean's pregnant."

Belle gaped. "Not yours?"

"I don't think so, but Hank can't test them until they get a little bigger."

"You mean I might have nieces or nephews? Good. We need an heir."

"Bien, chere. That mean you'd be okay with teaching them a bit?"

"Of course, Husband."

"Merci, mon amour. Now, you have the police report?"

"Yes, the fire started behind the bar, but they found gasoline, so it's fairly certain that it was arson. There was gasoline found on the cage, Remy. They made sure that they killed Safety," she said softly. "I haven't told her."

"I wouldn't. She'll go ballistic. You know what she's like when she goes off."

"Yes, I know. I'll try to keep her calm. I can't stay more than a week. This needs to be resolved by then."

Remy nodded. "I've got a couple of ideas. I know for a fact that she got me information on a project called Zero Tolerance."

"Heard of that one. That's Bastion's bullshit. It needs the plug pulled. You working on that?"

"Yes."

"They know?"

Remy snorted.

"That's my thief. Next?"

"FOH."

"Possible, but they'd have been caught by now, bragging about it."

"True. But it could be one of the quieter ones. The Rabbit Hole is. . . was very tolerant. And Alice was a known sympathizer."

"She's a mutant."

"No one notices pink hair in this city. But she's been known to help mutants in trouble. That could get her on the list."

Belle nodded. She disliked being out of her territory. "I'll call Rat and have him do some looking. Do you have someone local who can do some lab analysis?"

"Oui, I'll give her a call."

"Why am I not surprised it's a woman?"

"I get along well with women." Remy shrugged.

"You fight like a woman."

"That's a compliment coming from you."

She stuck out her tongue and wrinkled up her nose. "Take Summers back home. He'll be happy now that he's seen the place right?"

Remy shook his head. "He's here because of Chat."

"What?"

"Chat took it upon himself to mark me yesterday. You saw it."

"Yes? So?"

"Logan told Scott. Once he found out I wasn't hurt he went and got possessive. I told you. He," Remy shrugged helplessly, "got jealous. He came because he didn't think bringing Logan would be wise."

"He's right. Wolverine would be a liability."

"I know that."

"He's carrying?"

"Yes, one of mine. He's a fair eye, but not practiced in a battle situation."

"He's going to challenge Creed isn't he?" Her eyes widened. She squirmed. "That should be interesting."

"If we can keep them both alive until this is over," Remy said, rolling his eyes. "How did I ever end up with you, girl?"

"By being a pretty little thing." He leaned over and kissed her.

"I miss home."

"I miss you being around to torment."

He put a hand to his heart. Then, he held it out. She put a quick kiss in the center of the palm and curled his fingers around it. "Let's go make sure no one's in trouble out there."

Belle nodded. They peered into the living room. Scott was pacing. His glasses were in his hand behind his back. Remy frowned. He caught Scott by the arm and put a hand over his eyes. "Headache, cher?"

"Yes, called Cheryl Holmes."

"Put y' glasses back on, Scotty. Cherry's a good girl when Alice beats her."

"Hey!" Cherry protested.

"Shut up, Cherry," Alice said affectionately. She settled in Cherry's lap and played with a curl of red cherry-red hair. She kissed her lightly. "So, do we know who we have to kill yet?" she chirped.

"We're waitin' f'. . . Well, if it isn't de homme we be needin'."

"Cut the crap, Belle."

She winked at Creed. "Y' sure about dat, cher? Might be painful f' y'."

He raised a hand threateningly and she laughed at him. "Hi, honey, I'm home," Creed grinned. He kissed Mystique's cheek. He sneered at Scott's presence. "What's the matter, punk, need Cyclops to make your decisions? Yer getting' soft, Gumbo." He pulled the thief closer.

"Paws off, Sabretooth," Scott snapped. "He's not yours."

Remy blinked as Creed shoved him away. He righted himself easily. Scott's hand was at his shades.

"Not in the house, boys," Mystique drawled. Creed stood down. He didn't want to piss of Raven. Working with Gambit was hard enough without pissing off his lover.

Scott slid an arm around Remy's waist. The thief stared at him. Remy didn't think Scott would actually touch him in public.

"What y' find?" Belladonna asked, her hand smoothing down Remy's back. She'd already warned Creed off once herself. She exchanged an understanding smile with Scott. She squeezed his wrist, then took a seat in the armchair. Remy perched on the arm of it with Scott behind him. It was like a bizarre family photograph.

"Ain't anyone I know, but I could find ya the firebug at least. It was a hire job though." Creed shrugged. "I can smell the accelerants. It was a pro job. Not just gasoline. There was a phosphorous charge there."

"Fireworks?"

"They're illegal here," Alice said with a frown. "They'd have to come from out of state. That isn't something you just keep on hand."

"Probably just got the phospherous from a high school lab," Scott shrugged. "Not even a five minute problem. What else was there?"

"Dynamite."

"Fuck. That's a little harder, but not much. Isn't there a construction job around behind the Rusty Nail?"

Alice nodded. "They're putting in a basement foundation."

"They might have the charges on hand there."

"They lock up the site at night," Cherry protested. Everyone else in the room just looked at her. "Oh, not a problem, huh?"

"Nope. Not for a pro, Sweetie." Alice patted Cherry's head. "I'll train her," she said with a roll of her eyes. Scott nodded.

"Was it a normal?"

Creed nodded. "Smelled like plain old meat. That don't mean he ain't got a healin' factor or green skin or somethin', but there ain't nothin' too special about the asshole."

"Easy to find you think?" Mystique asked. She twirled her hair around her finger as she stared out the front window. Remy rolled his eyes. She had her Rogue down far too well for his liking. Suddenly, he realized that he didn't even miss the woman. Scott stroked Remy's hair as he thought.

"Shouldn't be a too big of a problem. I put the word out that I was looking for someone to do a job. Even if it ain't the one who did it, anyone who contacts me'll know who did it, or who paid fer it. I'm goin' fer a nap, kiddies. Stay out of trouble."

"Belle and me got some scoutin' to do. Scotty'll stay here with Raven."

Scott raised his brows.

"Don't be an asshole, cher."

Scott smirked. "One of my better qualities."

"Y' can catch up with Cherry."

"So, you can sing?" Mystique asked, as Belle and Remy left the room.

****

Bobby Drake blinked at the miniature painting on his desk. It was a perfect replica of the one that was in the professor's office. It was unframed. He'd have to go check on what it would need. He checked the scale idly, pleased to note that it was just the right size. He picked up the phone. "Xavier's Institute," he answered.

"Bobby? Sugah, I'm comin' home. I got someone here who needs some help."

"Okay, we'll deal with it."

"Sugah, will ya tell Scotty? I want him ta be able ta talk ta Gambit."

"Don't worry, Rogue. There won't be a problem."

"What are ya talkin' about, Bobby?"

"You'll see when you get here."

"Remy ain't done somethin' stupid like run off has he?" she asked suspiciously.

"Nope. Like I said you'll have to see when you get here. But Remy won't cause any trouble."

"Okay. I'll see ya in a week or so, sugah. We're driving from LA."

"I'll make sure your room gets aired out. This person, male or female?"

"Male."

"I'll set up a room for him."

****

"Time to wake up, Red."

"No," Jean whined into Logan's shoulder. "I'm comfy here."

"Don't matter, Darlin'. Time to get up. Need to get over to the mansion so ya can talk to Chuck at one."

"It's only. . ."

"Noon."

"Shit!" Jean bolted upright. She looked around. "So where are they?"

"Taking care of Alice."

"Both of them?"

"Scott went to tell Creed that if he touches our boy he's gonna loose his teeth."

"Good."

Logan raised his brows.

"You two don't have a patent on being the jealous sort. I've got red hair, it's in my charter."

****

"So? What did you find out?" Scott asked as Remy rubbed away his tension. Cherry and Alice were listening intently.

"Dat m' husband's lover is an impatient prick?"

"It ain't that impatient." Scott flicked the Cajun off. "Be good, cher."

"Right."

"We t'ink we tracked back the trail. Got a lead on who wants y' dead, Al. How many people y' piss off in a year?"

"Too many," Cherry grumbled.

"Shut up," Alice told her. "If I wasn't trouble no one would like me."

"I would," Scott muttered. "One normal friend is all I was hoping for."

"We don't do normal. Anyway, we found dis homme down de street. Right asshole," Belle informed them. "And dat's all y'all need t' know. Rem and me'll take care of dis. Ray and Chat will take care of de girls. An' Cyke'll head right on home and wait f' his boy t' call."

"Non, need the car. I'll drop him off an' come pick y' up. T'ink y' can find what we need?"

"Brought a toybox me."

"Good. See y' in two, chere."

"Bring de bike."

"Oui, chere."

"And change. Y' look like a cop."

"Oui, chere." Remy pushed Scott out the front door with gentle prods. Scott settled in the car and raised his brows. "What?"

"She's got you by the balls."

"She's an assassin, cher. Learned a long time ago not t' fight her less'n I meant it." Alice waved at them from the window. Scott waved back.

"I think you are completely insane. I don't like the idea of you with Creed at all."

"Cher, he ain't gonna hurt me none," Remy said settling into the driver's side and starting off. "Belle will tear his balls off."

"That didn't stop him yesterday. I don't like this, Gambit. I don't like it at all. At the very least take a com-link so we can come fetch you if you get lost."

"I'll take a com, cher, t' make y' feel better. But this ain't y'r show, Scotty. It ain't any business of the X-men. I ain't gonna tell y' anyt'in' more about what goes down wit' this."

Scott sighed. "I can handle that. Honestly, I can. I don't like the idea. I'm a nosy bastard."

"Possessive, jealous, strong-willed, bull-headed bastard."

Scott rolled his eyes. "But this isn't my field. I trust your wife, Goddess help me."

"Y' spend too much time with Stormy, eh? She converted y'?"

"That implies I had another religion."

Remy glanced at the field leader. "T'ought y' were Quaker like le professeur."

"Nope."

"Huh."

"You thought I was Christian?"

"Nominally." Remy shrugged. "I'm supposedly Cat'olic."

"Well, you've got the guilt part of it down. Be careful, Remy."

"I will, cher."

"I do love you, you know."

Remy smiled. "I'd caught on t' dat."

"Good. Don't forget it when those ladies start flirting."

"Ah, cher, they don't mean any harm."

Scott snorted. "Right."

Remy looked over at him. "I can't believe y're actually jealous of Mystique."

Scott raised his brows. "I've *always* been jealous of Mystique. Well, at least of anyone who'd be able to bed her. I mean the possibilities alone. Yum."

"Y' really mean it. That ain't what I t'ought of y'."

"Mystique doesn't bother me. At least she's honest about what's she's up to. I can't stand Sabretooth. Someone needs to put him down for good. But X-men don't kill. 'We have to try to rehabilitate him, Scott.'"

"Y' do a good Professor."

"Plenty of practice." They pulled in to the garage. "I'm serious, Remy. Be careful. I don't have a good feeling about today. Something's going down. And we might not be there to watch your back."

"I've got Belle. Y' be careful. Don' go leavin' wit'out Logan."

"Don't worry. I try never to get in the middle of something without him at my back. And don't even go there."

"Ah, y' spoilin' all po' Remy's fun."

"If I was planning that, I'd find a way to keep you locked in the mansion for my own private toy."

"In y'r dreams."

Scott smirked. He left the Cajun to change and take care of things. He purposefully didn't go to his main office, but hid away in the basement storeroom he knew no one would be interested in and pulled out his carefully hidden CD player and collection. With luck he'd get a few hours of music in before something else came up. He put on his head-phones and settled in his favorite chair, eyes closing behind his shades. He hit play.

****

Logan watched as Gambit slung his pack across his body. He tilted his head to the side. "A little early to be workin', ain't it, Gumbo?"

"Non. See y' later, Logan."

"Where ya goin'?"

"Ask Scotty."

"Where are ya goin', Remy?"

Gambit looked at his lover for a long moment. "Goin' t' meet wit' Belle. We got some t'ings t' do."

"Be careful. Call if ya need me."

"I will, cher."

Remy kicked his bike to life. He felt Logan's eyes lingering on his back until he rounded the curve that would take him off of the school grounds. He shivered. How the fuck had he gotten involved with them in the first place? He forced his mind on to business and the rest of his concerns faded away.

****

Logan watched the Cajun drive off. It felt wrong to let him go by himself. He cracked his knuckles. He had to meet Bobby for lessons, but he didn't like it. He popped his head into Xavier's office. "Chuck, keep an eye up fer Gambit."

"Logan? What's wrong?"

"I ain't sure. There's somethin' comin' and my guts screamin' that the kid's gonna get caught in the middle of it." Logan growled. "I think there's a real big storm comin' and someone needs to keep a pin-point on it. Might have somethin' to do with why Alice's place got torched."

"Alice Quentin?"

"Don't know her last name. Ran the Rabbit Hole?"

"One of our stops was torched? Why wasn't I informed?"

"What the fuck're ya talkin' about, Chuck?" Logan leaned in the doorway.

"Alice sent recruits to the Academy. She's a go-to for mutants in trouble. I was unaware that the Rabbit Hole was closed."

"Rems is with her. His wife flew in to help her."

"I didn't know that Gambit was involved with the Rabbit Hole."

Logan raised his brows. "Then ya don't know shit do ya, Chuck. Alice is one Remy's best friends."

Xavier frowned. "I'll look after him."

"You better."

****

"Scott Summers come out of there immediately!" Jean ordered to the storage room door. There was no response. //Scott!//

//What?// he replied.

//I've been calling for five minutes!//

//Sorry, have my earphones on. I'll be out in a few.//

//What do you do in there anyway?//

//Vacation. Leave it alone, okay?//

//Of course.// Jean felt her cheeks flush. They'd agreed years ago that they wouldn't be too curious.

Scott rubbed his eyes and put away his things. He opened the door. "What's up?" he asked as he shut it.

"We need you upstairs."

"What happened?"

"Bobby froze the pipes."

"That's why we have PVC."

"I know. But there's a very pissed off Warren trying to kill him. Betsy is doing what she can, but you know how pissy he can get."

"Not towards Bobby." Scott sighed and jogged up to the men's wing. "Wings? What's going on?"

"Someone decided I needed to have a cold shower."

"Bobby?"

"I didn't do anything I swear! Check the water!"

"Bullshit!" Scott tried the water, though that wouldn't prove anything. Bobby could melt ice just as quickly. Scott frowned, but so far as he knew, Bobby couldn't heat water.

"This is scalding."

Warren stared. "Let me check that." He put his hand underneath the stream. "Jesus. The system's never recovered this quickly."

"I told you I didn't do it," Bobby stated. He stood with his arms crossed. "I want an apology."

Warren blinked. "Sorry. But it was freezing. It was just like when you freeze the pipes. And since you were in the hall, it was a reasonable assumption."

"Apology not accepted."

"I'm sorry I snapped at you, Bobby."

"That's better. Now, I'm out of here. Maybe you should check the heater. Maybe the water had just been used up. I mean there are a bunch of people here."

"The system doesn't get used up that quickly," Warren protested.

Wolverine had wandered up to catch the tail of the conversation. "Nope. But this side does when the washers are running."

"Who's doing laundry?"

Jean looked around the hall. She shook her head. //Betsy?//

//Yes?//

//Are you doing the laundry?//

//I have to get the sheets done so I can change them. And I have to get my suit ironed for the meeting tomorrow, so I'm doing Warren's shirts. Do you need something done? I know you have your hands full.//

//No. Warren just got caught in the shower.//

//~giggle~//

//It's not funny. He was trying to kill Bobby.//

//Bobby needs it. He's too laid back.//

//I'll tell him that.// "Betsy's doing laundry."

"I didn't know that. Why didn't she tell me?"

"She said she was doing your shirts. And I think she's doing that green suit of hers. The silk one that matches that shirt you wore last week."

"Oh." Warren looked around. "Where's Bobby?"

"Ain't my business," Logan asserted. "Come on kids. Let's let Angel-boy here clean up his wings."

Warren glared at the Canadian. Logan snorted and turned around.

****

"Ororo, my sweetest lady, you are as adept as your brother at obfuscation. And I was so intrigued by the areas of research your conversation suggested to me, that I totally overlooked the fact that we never discussed the information you promised me about our young Cajun."

"Henry? Are you accusing me of lying to you?"

"No, merely misdirecting me. And you do not look innocent with that glint in your eyes."

"It is not my fault that our conversation drifted from your assigned topic."

"And that is why, Ororo, I brought tea and sweets to ply you with for the furthering of that particular conversation."

Storm smiled at her friend and set up a small planting table for them to share their tea at. She rinsed her hands. "I cannot believe that you are resorting to bribery, Hank."

"Does that mean you won't accept these meager offerings?"

"Keep your hands off of my sticky-bun, man," she ordered.

Hank smiled. She settled down on one stool and gestured for him to take the other. He poured the tea into the delicate bone china glasses. "I hope you enjoy. They are my favorites from the local bakery. I picked them up this morning."

"I am sure that they will be perfect, my friend." Ororo bit into the decadently sweet cinnamon and pecan roll. As she swallowed the treat, she set it down and licked her fingers. It was a studied movement and Hank found his mouth drier than it had ever been. He swallowed a sip of tea to steady himself. He would not allow himself to be distracted this time, even if it meant taking off his glasses.

"What can you tell me of Remy's family?"

"What do you want to know?"

"He has mentioned Jean-Luc, and his brother Henri?"

"Yes. I haven't met either of them. Henri is Jean-Luc's true child. He was in his late thirties when Remy was adopted. He and his wife Mercy have been a second set of parents for him. He has a cousin he calls Lapin. Tante Mattie isn't the only older woman who treats him as her child. He has several older women in the area who treat him like their own son. I think it does him wonders to know that he is lovable. But his family does not share his blood heritage. At least not so faras I know."

Hank sighed. "I believe they may be a closer genetic match than anyone will admit to. Have you seen the pictures of his father and brother?"

"Of course."

"Remy looks enough like both of them to be related. If my supposition is correct, Remy may well be the child of a prostitute. There is nothing to say that he isn't related to his father. That may be why his family reacted so well to his eyes."

"Henri's mother died. . ." Storm trailed off thinking. She went very still as she thought and Hank could feel the static in the air. "Or she was killed. I don't know what happened. But the timing could be right." Hank didn't say anything, just let her think. Storm shook her head. "No, it isn't. Henri's mother died when Henri was only three. That would have been too long ago."

"Could he be Henri's child?"

"I don't think so. You would have to ask Remy, however, I don't know his family that well."

"Does Remy have any children?"

"Remy can't have children, my friend. I thought as his doctor you would know that?"

"He has never let me examine him when it wasn't an emergency. Even when he was in the coma, I didn't want to upset him with more pokes and prods than necessary. Being in the lab makes his heart-rate skyrocket." Hank sipped his tea. "It seems odd to me though. Does he know?"

"One would think so. He told me."

Hank looked down at the stickybun that was calling his name. He couldn't resist any longer and took a large bite of it. Washing the frosting out of his fur was difficult, but well worth it. "Has Remy ever indicated to you that he wasn't human?"

"He is a mutant." Storm looked down her nose at the doctor. "But he does think of himself as different from others. But that is a matter of his training, not his family."

"I thought they were one in the same."

"No. His family would love him, even if he weren't a thief. Jean-Luc's only requirement for Remy was that he learn." Storm paused. "But I don't know if Remy believes that. Again, you must talk to Remy. I cannot tell you these things."

"Ororo, you are the only one in this household that Remy speaks to without reservation."

"Henry, my dear child, you are foolish. Remy tells me only things he thinks I should hear, and only confidences he knows I have guessed most of. If there is anyone in this household who knows Remy it is Logan."

Hank looked at the goddess for a long moment. "But he is not nearly as beautiful to look at."

Storm laughed.

*****

Scott looked at the scene from a distance. It was such a shame to see someone's life's work a smoldering ruin. He could still smell smoke in the air. He crossed his arms. He hated feeling useless. He hated being out of the loop even more. He needed to know what was going on with Remy and Belle. A jealous voice whispered in the back of his head and he told it to shut up.

"Hello, Scott," a familiar voice stated.

Scott stiffened. He didn't turn.

"Aren't you talking to me? Funny, you always have things to say."

"Well, I was told once that if I didn't have anything nice to say, I should keep my mouth shut."

"It wasn't Charles obviously."

"What do you want, Nathan?"

"I want an update."

"He's not going to come crawling to you. He's so angry that he could spit nails at you."

"Scott."

"Don't 'Scott' me, okay? He needed you."

"I understand that, but I was not in any position to help him at that point. You don't know what else was happening at the time."

"I think I have an inkling. They killed her mouse you know." Scott nodded towards the building.

"Safety? We were acquainted."

"How did you meet Alice?"

"Many years ago a young man approached me. He said he needed to know if there was a way I could help some mutants who were in trouble. They would get them to me, if I would protect them. I did so. I know that she also had arrangements with Charles and Emma Frost."

"And who connected you?"

"If you need to ask me that, then you need to have a firmer control on the situation around you. How is Jean?"

Scott sighed. He dropped his chin to his chest for a moment. He didn't mind Sinister really. Not when he wasn't trying to kidnap someone. "She's fine."

"She hasn't sent anyone to me in ages. Except for a young woman who kept killing people with telepathic suggestions. They didn't know what else to do with her."

"What did you do?"

"I put her on Prozac."

"What do you want?"

"Are you well?"

"I've been better, but I've been worse. Why did you kidnap Jean?"

"Is Gambit well?"

"Why do you care?"

"I have a vested interest in his survival. I dislike having my experiments terminated without my permission."

"He's not an experiment. He's a human being."

Sinister didn't respond to that. "I think you should be more careful who you take into your home, son."

"I'm not your son."

"All creatures revert to their inner nature. You have been lucky so far. Remy minimized your risks with Sabretooth. And at center the boy himself is honorable. But there are those in your group who are not. I think you need to step away and reevaluate what is happening in your home before it is too late."

"What is the point of all this?"

"If you don't watch out, your overly forgiving nature will get you killed. I would rather not see that happen."

"Why should I not turn around and blast you right now?"

"Because you would only hit the building and you don't want to be responsible for the killing of innocents."

Scott scowled. He hated it when villains were reasonable. "Why are you bothering me?"

"Have you asked Remy why he doesn't want the implant removed? It would be a simple procedure. Even McCoy could handle it."

"That's his choice."

"And have you asked yourself what will happen when Rogue returns? She was in Seattle recently."

"I know."

"Right above one of my labs, in fact. If Remy hadn't met with her there, I would have thought she was coming after me using his information. She is Mystique's daughter."

"And she's one of us now. Leave us alone."

"Really, my boy, could I ever do that? Sleep well, Scott."

"Go get laid or something."

Scott turned and found nothing behind him. He couldn't be sure that the man had actually ever been there, but that was the way it happened. He filed the incident away with all the other meetings he didn't tell anyone about. Like the meetings he'd had with Magneto over the years, or the beer he'd shared with Scalphunter one day. Oh, they'd both been out of uniform, and they'd never actually admitted what they were doing, but it had happened. He was sure the other man remembered it just as clearly. He kicked a piece of trash into the gutter. Whoever had destroyed Alice's dream deserved whatever Belledonna dreamed up for them. He got into the Jeep and went home. Jean met him at the door with a quick kiss. She knew what secrets needed to remain secrets.

*****

Bastion looked over the files again. He couldn't prove that they'd been stolen, but he was certain someone had broken in. It was a gut reaction. They'd have to move more quickly.

*****

"Fucking mutie-loving bitch," Frankie Giovanni muttered. "Teach her to fucking walk out on me. The cunt." He threw his bottle into the wall. "I'll kill that bitch. Then she'll come back to me. She'll have to. I'm all she's got left." He nodded and looked around the apartment. Faded band posters lined the walls. A mix of blood, urine, smoke and alcohol hung in the air. There were some things that needed a personal touch. He looked down at the dog he'd cut open in the middle of the living room floor. He walked out of the apartment and slammed the door shut behind him.

Finis