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Warren looked over the offer one more time. He was sitting in the family room, wings spread out, a frown marring his face. "What's up, Wings?" Bobby asked, peering over Angel's shoulder. "Interesting offer?"

"Fairly standard. Would you look it over and give me your gut feel for it?"

"Sure." Bobby took the stack of papers and flopped into a chair. He read quickly. "War? This is from Nightwing."

"Yeah. That's the problem."

"Nightwing's got a great rep. They've never fucked you over before. Why is it suddenly a problem?"


Bobby blinked. "LeBeau-Boudreaux. So?" Bobby stared. "You didn't know? Fuck, Wings, why didn't you ask me. I'm your accountant. I know these things."

"You *knew* Gambit owned Nightwing?"

"Hell, it's public record." Bobby rolled his eyes. "You've been working with Nightwing since it started six years ago." Bobby froze. "Seven? Shit. Gumbo would've been all of fifteen. That's fucking impressive."

"Bobby? When'd you start cursing?"

"The first time Rogue got me drunk."

"Rogue got you drunk?"

"Yeah. We were fifteen. She'd just gotten here and was still fighting with Scott about her being on the team. We stole the whiskey that Scott didn't have in his office drawer, got trashed and wrecked Scott's car. The professor ripped Scott a new one for letting us drink under-age. Scott ripped into me for getting caught and I told him it was 'his own-fucking-fault because he never taught me stealth."

"What did he do?"

Ran me and Rogue though simulations until we learned our lesson."

"Which was?" Scott inquired from the doorway. Warren's wings twitched.

"Don't mess around with Slim."

"Good boy. Have you heard back from your friend about that file?"

"Not yet. Sorry."

Scott sighed. "Not really important. Let me know when he gets back to you."

"Will do. Now, the proposal's sounds. And I think Nightwing's rep is good. What's the real problem?"

"Trust. I'll have to rust my V.P. and sign off on it." Warren shook his head. "Business deals with a thief. What's next?"


Rogue looked at the front gate, then pulled up and spoke her authorization code. The gate swung open on soundless hinges. Joseph looked at her in concern. "Are you sure about this?"

"Yes." She put the car in gear and started forward."


//Rogue's back!// Jean announced. Remy dropped the cards he'd been shuffling. He bent to pick them up.

Has it really been a week already? Remy questioned himself. To be honest, it seemed like a year, despite his lovers' best efforts to distract him. With no contracts to complete, Alice immersed in her rebuilding and Storm *finally* going to a gardening club, Remy felt aimless. The only thing that kept him from running off for a weekend was the little scared voice in the back of his head that told him the team'd disappear if he walked away. He knew that voice. It was the voice that lived in the psych ward for two months after Creed had left him bleeding in the middle of a massacre. Sinister had put him there "for his own safety." The thing was, Remy wasn't sure he'd ever left the place.

He shoved away his thoughts and went to greet Rogue with the rest of the team. He shuffled his cards into order as he walked. He found himself in the front hall before he knew it. He leaned against the wall. She looked good. Her skin was tanned and her jeans were painted on. She was showing her arms for once in a tight tee-shirt. She was standing a little too close to. . . Magneto? A single card escaped Remy's control. The Ace of Spades spun to a stop at Rogue's feet.

She scowled down at it. "Funny, sugah."


She kicked the card back to him. "This is Joseph."

Remy thought Scott was going to lose his eyebrows in his hair. Charles' frown was even more amusing. Serves the man right, he thought, stealin' folks' minds. Then, Rogue was running a hand through her hair and his fingers itched to do it for her. She settled a careless hand on Joseph's shoulder as she told them about finding the man.

Remy's stomach clenched as something cold and hard drove into his heart. "So the past don't matter if'n y' changer y'r name, cher?" He snorted. "Should've guessed. Worked f' y'r tight lil' ass." He spun on his heel and went to his room.

Rogue gaped at his back. She didn't know what to say. Bobby shook his head. "Rogue, I'm your best friend, right?" She nodded. "So don't take this the wrong way, but that was just fucking cruel."

"What are you talkin' about?"

Bobby looked pointedly at the hand resting on Joseph's arm. She followed his eyes, still not understanding. "Hello, Earth to Rogue. He pursued you for half a year and you wouldn't let him hold your hand. You show up with a guy you've known less than a month and you're all over him. Catch a clue."

"Me-ow," Warren whispered to Betsy, making claw marks in the air.

"Last I heard ya didn't much like Remy."

"Well, last I heard you still loved him even though he wasn't up to your standards of perfection and goodness. No offense. . . Joe, but if you're really Magneto, her taste in men is getting worse." Bobby shrugged. "I'll make sure there's a room ready for you. I'm Bobby." He held out his hand and the surprised Joseph shook it.

"Joseph, Rogue, please come to my office."

Scott accompanied the pair without being invited. Xavier glared at him. //Scott, please leave us.//

//No. You aren't in the least bit objective about Magneto.//

Xavier let the matter go.


Jean looked at Logan. She tilted her head towards the stairs. Her lover ignored the implication. Instead, he turned around and headed toward the kitchen. Jean put her hands on her hips. //Go talk to Remy.//


//Fine. I will.// Jean knocked on Remy's door. He didn't answer. "Remy? Sweetie? Talk to me?"

"Go 'way, chere. I ain't in the mood f' talkin'."

"Sweetie, come on. Don't let this throw you for a loop."

There was no response. Jean sighed. She put her hand against the door. "Please, Remy, don't shut me out."

"I ain't talkin', Jeannie."

"Remy. . ."

"Leave me be, femme! Y' gonna drive m' t' drink!"

She heard something thump against the door and flinched back. She slunk out of the men's wing.


Scott and Xavier stared at each other. Whether they were engaged in a telepathic conversation or simply a father-son engagement of wills, Rogue couldn't tell.

"You're going to do what you want regardless of what I say," Scott said. "Why should I even waste my breath?" He turned. "Welcome to Xavier's, Joseph." He paused at the doorway. "Oh, and Rogue, I won't be scheduling you with Gambit any time soon, so don't worry."

Rogue closed her eyes. "Cyke, I can work with him. I ain't gonna cause a fuss."

Scott shook his head. "He's barely on active duty. I don't want you to break him. You play too rough for me to share my toys." He shut the door.

"Since when is Remy *his* toy?" she muttered. "If I want to play with him, I will.

"That wouldn't be a wise course of action. Scott is a very possessive lover," Xavier said almost absently.

Rogue froze, then started to laugh. "Remy? With a guy? After his history? No way."

Xavier raised his brows. "You'll have to take that up with him won't you?"


Remy set the Danger Room humming with the most energetic work-out he'd ever programmed. He jumped and twisted and blasted the lasers in a brilliant, discordant jangle of nerves that made him see white hot rage wherever he looked. "Goddamned fuckin' Mississippi white trash bitch," he spat. "Fucking cunt. All that meant nothing." He destroyed one of the robots with a thought and time froze. The next five seconds played in absolute slow motion: 1) He noticed the floor was glowing. 2) He knew that he was going to touch down on it. 3) he touched down in the middle of the rage-created bomb. 4) He remembered other robots were trying to kill him with lasers while the safety was off. 5) He yelled "Stop program!"

Remy stood in the middle of an Oriental rug sized rectangle of glowing fuschia with five robots frozen in time. "End program." The robots disappeared back to their holding bins. That left Remy with a problem, a bright, glowing 14'x20' rectangle of adamantium. His mind froze, keeping him from moving. He swallowed. "Focus, Remy." He balled the panic up and threw it into the warehouse with the rest of his fears. Nearly imperceptible to anyone looking down on it, the glow began to shrink. The lacerating force of the bio-kinetic charge tried to batter its way free of the Cajun's iron-fisted control.

Teeth gritted, hands fisted, Remy pulled hard on his charge's harness. Fingers shaing, he opened his eyes, then ran a hand through his hair. "Shower. Then out. Dis place got bad juju t'night, boy." He released a long breath.


"SpidyFan, where did you get this? This looks like a black ops book!" Scorpio wrote. Her face was pale. SpidyFan was too sweet to be involved in something like this. "Whatever you're involved in get out. Things like this *should* 'give you the willies.' These assholes are pure evil. Run. If you need *any* help, let me know." Lyndsy Holmes sat back, conscience somewhat mollified. She'd have to do something about it. That was for certain. Time to hunt some shadows. She grinned, never realizing that the bared teeth gave her a strange resemblance to a hunting cat.


Rogue stared open-mouthed at Warren. Warren shrugged. "I don't like Gambit. I have no idea what they see in him. But it's true. Aske anyone on the team."

"But Remy, with. . . three?" Rogue told herself that she would never again squeak like that. It was undignified.

Warren's smile widened. "Three." It felt so good not to be the stunned fish in the room for once.

"I've got to talk some sense into that boy."


"No, Cyke. Poor things got no idea what he's getting' into."


Joseph looked around the room he'd been given. It was comfortable, if a little Spartan. He had all he needed for the moment. Bobby seemed nice enough, if a little cold. He read the lingering traces of jealousy in the blue eyes and understood the reaction. Rogue was a beautiful woman. He didn't know if he actually had a chance at winning her affection, but it seemed he was doing well. "Now, if only I could remember who I am." He sighed.


Jean looked around the dining room table. "Where's Remy?" she asked Logan.

"Probably drinkin' with Alice. Pass the rolls, Ro."

"But he *likes* Hank's cooking." Jean blinked. She couldn't remember Remy ever skipping Hank's meals. God knew she never did.

Logan shrugged. "Maybe he ain't in the mood fer company tonight. We'll ask when Alice gets sick of him and calls to have one of us pick him up."

"So, tell us, Joseph, how did you meet up with Rogue," Betsy asked.


It wasn't until the rain started at midnight that Scott started worrying. Logan and Jean were snoring peacefully next to him. Logan was sure that Remy just needed to process the feelings Rogue had stirred up. Jean had been told off once today for trying to get the thief to open up and thereby wasn't going to do it again. Scott, well, he worried.

His mind drifted back to the humid heat of the morning after. He could feel the softness of Jean's skin beneath his cheek. He smiled. She was amazing at creating fantasies. He did want to know how she knew so much about Wolverine's cock though.

Then, he felt the bed dip and a hard, muscled body curled around him. His breathing caught in his chest. In his mind all he could hear was Jack's rough breathing. He squirmed away from the embrace. He lifted his hand to push the blindfold away and was caught by thick but gentle fingers. "Wait, Slim."

"Let go of me."

"Slim?" Jean called gently. "Sweetheart?"

"I'm fine, honey."

//Talk to me.//

//I'm fine.//

//Bullshit. Please, Scott, don't shut me out like this.//

//Leave. Me. Alone.// Jean retreated, stunned and a little hurt.

"Kiddo?" Logan's rough voice came next. "Kiddo, I didn't hurt ya, did I?"

"No." He had to answer that question. "Just leave me alone for awhile." He'd curled up in the corner then, trying hard not to think of Jack and his 'friends.' Blinking away the memory, Scott slipped out of the bed, into the midnight glow. He went downstairs. There was no humidity, no flower-laden air, no sweat to lift to his nose. There was moonlight, darkness and cold air. They never let me run away, he thought. Why can't they see Remy's got the same tendencies? "There's no reason for him to come back," he whispered into the still air of the living room. Scott made it to the Mansion quickly enough. He opened the Cajun's door without knocking. The bed hadn't been used. He didn't really know what he was looking for when he opened the desk drawer.

He pulled out the address book and started flipping though it. He found Alice's number first, but decided not to call. She'd castrate him if he woke her. There were names to fill every page. Some of them he recognized like Mystique and Jean-Luc LeBeau, but most of them he didn't. "I knew you were social, but this is incredible," he muttered.

"What are you doin', sugah?" Rogue leaned against the doorframe and crossed her arms.

"Looking through Remy's address book. He has half of the known mercenary world in this thing. Some of them I'm pretty sure I've just never heard of. He has a heart next to your mother's name. Wonder what that means."

"Don't think too hard on it, Cyke." She shuddered. "What are you *doing* here, sugah?"

"Waiting for Remy maybe? Checking to see if he left a note? I'm not really sure to be honest with you. My gut says he's finally bolted."

She cocked her head to the side, a mannerism that wasn't hers. "Bolted?"

"These past two weeks have been like a fairy tale. Complete with damsels in distress and evil beings to be slayed." Scott sighed. "And why the Hell am I talking to you about this?"

"Who better? I just spent three weeks with that boy in my head."

"Then where did he go? He's feeling confused, angry, hurt, where does he go?"

"The Rabbit Hole."

"Burned to the ground."

Rogue gaped. She shook herself. "He'd go to the shelter."


"The Crossroads Shelter in the City."

"Nightwing's behind that?"

She nodded.

"Makes sense. Any other suggestions?"

"He'll come home."

"How can you be sure?"

"He won't leave you alone." She was gone before Scott could ask her anything else. Scott left a note for everyone tacked to the message board, canceling the morning Danger Room session. He settled into the first car in the garage, which happened to be Remy's convertible. The keys were in the ignition. Scott grinned.


Jean rolled over into the empty space of the bed. She cracked an eye. "Men," she grumbled, noting that she was completely alone in the room. She glanced at the clock, "3:00 a.m." She sat up and rubbed the grit out of her eyes. She sighed. "Well, fine. I may as well start painting the nursery." It would have been a more effective guilt trip if Logan had been in the house, instead of relieving Storm of her watch.


Joseph sat up, a cry dying on his lips, blue eyes wide. He ran a hand through his hair. He looked around the Spartan room. "Who am I? Why do I have these nightmares? Why God? What have I done?"


Remy looked up for the paperwork on "his" desk at the Crossroads Shelter. "Merde." He dropped what he was working on and bolted out the back door, past a very startled Steve Cantor, MSW.


Scott looked up at the simple sign. "The Crossroads." There was a symbol etched into the wall with delicate precision. For once, he wondered what it meant, rather than dismissing it as a pretty decoration. He opened the front door.

"Hi, I'm Steve. Welcome to Crossroads." Cantor held out his hand.

"Scott Summers, from Xavier's. We've talked before, right?"

"Yes. I remember. You're the power behind the throne." Scott's brows raised. "Like me here. Nightwing lets me run the place as long as I turn in monthly reports. But they take care of the bullshit. So what can I do for you at this time of the morning?"

"To be honest, I'm looking for Remy LeBeau."

"You just missed him. But while you're here, I have a file or two I'd like you to look at."

Scott frowned. "Okay," he said after a long breath. He followed Steve to the file area.

"Can Xavier's handle two more kids?"

"What have you got for me?"

"Mandy Planket, who makes things grow. And Jaun Alverez. He sees through things."

"Like what?"

"Everything non-biological. He's not technically blind, but if it isn't living, he looks through it. We need to get him out of the city."


"Mandy's 15 and Juan is 12."

"Give me a few minutes to call the Academy."



Remy flopped across his bed. He loved his loft. It was high enough up that it made the very air sing with energy. He took a deep breath feeling it tingle inside his lungs. The knock at the door startled him upright. He had a handful of glowing cards before he left the bed. He peered out through the peephole. "Fuck." He banged his head against the solid oak door. He yanked it open before Scott could land his next knock. Remy caught Scott by the front of his shirt and pulled him inside. "What the fuck are y' doin' here, boy? Where'd y' get this address?"

"Your parking permit has this address."

Remy stared. "Y' borrowed m' Saab?"


"Y' put a scratch in it, I take payment outta y'r ass. Dat's one answer."

"I got worried."

Remy shook his head. "Y' gonna get old before y' time, boy." Remy slammed the door. "Welcome t' Chez LeBeau." Remy tossed his coat onto the back of the chair. "Get y' somet'in' t' drink?"

Scott shook his head. "Why'd you disappear on us?"

"I wanted ma petite Rogue dead. M' powers were maxin' out and I didn't want t' take down the Mansion. So I blew."

Scott pulled off his windbreaker and laid it over the ragged duster. "So instead of blowing up the Dnager Room which is equipt for it, you went out on the town."

Remy's eyes blazed. "Ain't none of *them* I want t' kill. Figured better t' get away from the ones pissin' m' off." He slumped onto the couch. "Buried m'self in paperwork at Crossroads, 'til I felt y' show up."

"Felt me?" Scott sat beside Remy.

"Oui. Don' know if it's from whatever Jeannie done that first night, or if m' charm went and got stronger, but I can feel y'all."

"Probably a combination of the two." Remy snuggled under Scott's arm. "Are you still pissed enough to kill?"

"Non, cher, paperwork deadens the nerves. That's why y' need t'ree lovers t' wake y' up."

"Oh really."


"That sounds like a challenge to me."

"Cher? Just the truth." Remy's eyes slipped shut. "Y' put Remy t' bed?"

Scott pulled him close. "How tired are you?"


"Logan's not the only one who likes to hunt."

"Really? Y' want t' show m' how much y' like it den, cher?"

"Only if you think you're up to it."

"Oh, cher, Remy's always up f' a challenge like that." Remy stroked along Scott's chin feeling the rough pattern of evening growth. The motion was as lazy as a drowsy cat's tail. Scott caught Remy's hand and kissed the inside of the wrist.

"And I think you need to sleep. It's late."

Remy shrugged. "Only if y're comin' too."

"I'll tuck you in."

"And snuggle up. Y' been up all night lookin' f' m'. Y' ain't a night owl, cher. Y'll feel it if'n y' don't sleep now."

Remy tugged Scott to the bed. He undressed him with feather-light caresses. Scott caught his hands. "Keep that up and I won't be able to just sleep." Remy smirked.

"Let m' take care of dat." Scott greed the deft fingers. They stripped off the soft flannel and went to work on the stiff kakhis. "Need t' take y' shoppin'." Remy stroked the cock he'd just freed. Without another word, he dropped to his knees and started to lick it.

"Damn, Cajun," Scott breathed as his cock was surrounded by wet heat. His eyes closed. He stroked Remy's hair, forcing his fingers not to grip those bangs and hold Remy in place for a harsher coupling. He came hard as Remy swallowed around the head of his cock. Remy lapped at the softening member.

"Dere we go. All better." He patted Scott's crotch. Then, he toppled the field leader onto the bed and finished stripping him. He pulled of his own clothes and dropped them into an untidy lump. Then, he crawled into bed. He draped himself against Scott's side and closed his eyes. "Night, cher."

"Night, Rems."