Interlude Two: Poker Faces
by L.M Griffin
The girl sat on the dock of the lake, watching as the moon reflected off the green water. Behind her, the lights to Xavier's School, aka the X-Mansion, slowly flickered off, one by one. She continued to sit, her young face wearing a pensive expression, marring the delicate beauty of her features. Black hair, straight and shining, fell beyond her shoulders. She wore a simple pair of jean cut-offs, and a sleeveless red shirt that showed off a trim young body, used to intense excerise and training. The outfit made her look older then her sixteen years, perhaps eighteen or nineteen.
Her eyes, however, made her look years older beyond even that. Their color was a clear sky blue that lightened or darkened, depending on her mood. Right now they were so dark that they looked like the sky just before sunset, an almost ebony-blue. Darkest before the dawn, she had always heard it said. She didn't think it could get much darker then this.
The footsteps that sounded behind her were soft, making the wooden planks creak gently, as if the person coming didn't want to disturb her train of thought. The tangy smell of men's cologne gently wafted through the air, and she automatically catagorized the scent as Tommy. Expensive to own, and a must for a man who was known the world over as a charmer and a rogue. Her full lips quirked into a half smile as she spoke. "If this is how you sneak into heavily guarded warehouses, Cajun, I'm gonna start thinking that you got that 'Master-thief' title you're so proud of out of a Crackerjack Box."
The young man behind her chuckled softly as he lowered himself down beside her. He wore his armor of black and magneta, his long brown trench coat floating around him as he settled down in a Indian-style sitting position. His handsome face looked strained; the crimson irises on black eyes sharp with a pain that rested in the heart region. The emotional heart, that is. He too, looked out to the lake, gloved fingers shifting auburn hair away from his face. "P'tite, if I wanted t'sneak up on ya, you'd never hear me comin'."
"Ooooh, really now? You that arrogant, or you just that good?" The girl retorted gently. Her blue eyes moved to meet his crimson ones, as twin smiles of bemusement flickered to life.
Together they said, "Jest dat good." The laughter that followed was soft, but real. It felt good to laugh, especially since it seemed to have been so long since either one had. A moment of comfortable silence fell between them, as they both turned their heads to the lake once more.
The girl was the first to speak. "Whatcha doing down here, Remy?"
"Was worried 'bout you, Jubilee. Ya been out here fo' hours." A concerned expression rested on his face.
"Just wanted some time alone. I feel...I don't know." A tight look suddenly pinched her young face.
"Ya want to talk 'bout it?"
She gave a soft, bitter laugh. "Alotta people been askin' that question today. Why do you think I'm here now?"
A wry look of understanding moved across his face. "Und'rstood, p'tite. I won't push you."
A flicker of pained emotion entered her blue eyes. "I'm sorry Remy...really, I don't mean to snap. It's just - it's hard to talk 'bout this kinda thing with people who just don't understand."
There was the rising scent of a flame, along with the smell of burning paper and tobacco as he pulled out a cigarette and lit it. He softly inhaled the smoke into his mouth, then out into the night air. "Separation from de only real father you've ever known. Wonderin' if he's okay. If he's thinkin' about you as much as yer thinkin' of him. Worried dat he's not gonna be all right, 'n yer miles away from bein' able t'help him. I kinda have a vague idea what yer talkin' 'bout."
She pulled her knees up to her chin, as her voice quieted. "Guess you would, huh? Just when I start to think I have you beat on the 'My Life Sucks' game, you pull up one of those memories. Cheater."
A bitter little smile graced his lips. "What can I say? Angst is de focus of my exist'nce."
A wry smirk in return. "I thought the focus of your existance involved a beautiful woman and a tub full of lime jello."
One of his eyebrows shot up, and a surprised look flashed on his face. "Dat too. But how you know..."
"You talk in your sleep. Funny, always figured you for a pudding kinda dude."
"Puddin' is too sticky. Nice try at avoidn' de topic might I add."
"Thanks, been practicing for years." She let out a quiet sigh. "I'm scared, Remy. I always thought of Wolvie as...well, as a constant factor of life. Someone who, even if he wasn't standing right in front of me, would always be there. When Sean told me that everyone thought Wolverine was dead...I couldn't believe it. I refused to believe it."
"Don't color me surpr'sed. You be the most stubborn girl I ever met, p'tite." He had a wicked little smile on his lips as he took another drag of his cigarette.
Bitter smirk. "Well, I wasn't wrong, now was I? He's alive, but now...jeez, talk about 'Would the real Wolverine please stand up?' Jesus Christ, Remy....he's Death!"
"I know, p'tite...I was there, 'member?"
A small, choked sound came from her lips, as a moment of silence fell between the two. A moment later, her voice came out soft and broken, "I'm a survivor. Always have been. I'm gonna make it through this. I just don't wanna walk through this valley of pain and come out with him - gone."
"You won't be alone, p'tite. Logan'll be back," came his soft reply.
"How do you know?" Anguish, doubt, and pain choked her voice.
"Jest do. You gonna get Wolverine back, 'cause de Jubilation Lee I know won't let him go witho' a fight." The reassurance and faith in his voice touched her.
"You...you think I can save him?" For the first time, there was a glimmer of hope in her voice and eyes.
"P'tite, I know you can. Yer de only one who's gonna be able t'get past all dat junk ole Poccy's been puttin' in dat hard head of Logan's, 'n bring him back." Remy gave a sharp, affirmative nod of his head.
She gave him a long, thoughtful look. "You believe in me. There's not an ounce of doubt in your mind that I could fail."
"Nope. Told you, yer de stubbornest girl I know. You'll do it." He looked at her, as if begging for an argument.
He got none, but instead a grateful, "Thanks Gumbo...."
"Not a probl'm, p'tite."
There was another moment of silence. She watched his profile, eyes narrowing at the pain reflected in the lines of his mouth. "Alright Cajun. Spill."
"'Spill what?', he asks. Oh, I don't know....say, spill why you look like someone just ran over your dog. And since I know you don't have a dog..." She sat there, watching him.
"You don't pull no punches, do you p'tite?" he asked, voice wry.
"'Course not. It's the only way I can ever get anythin' outta you without the threat of bodily harm."
"Gee, 'n here I thought I was jest downright garrulous." his tone was just ever so slightly caustic.
"About as garrulous as a brick wall. By the by, your avoidin' skills suck, dude."
"Meybe I jest don' wanna talk about it, non?" The look that he gave her was a warning one.
She gave her sweetest smile in return. "But yer going to anyways."
"Sacre, girl, you jest don' know when ta let a sore subject die, do you?" He gave her an angry glare as he flicked his cigarette away.
A knowing smirk crossed her lips. "Yer the one who called me stubborn."
That earned her a tight grin, one that faded from his face as fast as it appeared. The muscles in his cheek twitched, as the crimson eyes filled with a haunting sorrow. His voice dipped down to ragged pain. "Rogue 'n I....we be over."
Her blue eyes widened. One slender hand reached out, gripping his shoulder tightly. Her voice softly questioning, she asked, "Why?"
A feeling of gratitude filled him as she avoided the pituous, 'I'm sorry'. "S'pose you heard about the lil' mind scramble de Professor put us all through?"
She gave a nod of the head, followed by a rueful look. "We got our own version. Frosty gave our minds the rough and tumble."
"Well....towards de end....looked like Rogue was dyin'. I held in her my arms...told her dat I loved her. Begged her not ta leave me. 'N she said...'Nevah woulda worked out, Remy. Jest...let it go.' Aft'rwards....tried talkin' to her 'bout all of it. She just looked at me with the hardest expression...," His eyes closed tight as one tear trickled down his smooth cheek, "...'n she said we might as well give it up. That we weren' foolin' anyone but ourselves."
There was a long moment, where nothing was said. Where nothing could be said. Her hand squeezed tighter, and he covered her fingers with his own. The expression on her face tightened, rage burning deep within her sapphire orbs. The dock planks creaked sharply beneath her as she stood up suddenly. A surprised look appeared on his face.
Her voice was a harsh whisper. "I'm gonna kill her."
"Jubilee...?" He eyed her warily.
"She thought I kicked her Southern fried booty before? Just wait 'till she sees what I'm gonna do to her now."
"P'tite....non." A soft plea was in his eyes as he held her hand tightly, not letting her move any further.
Anger glimmered over her expression. "I should re-arrange her face."
"But ya won't. T'aint worth it now." He smiled wryly at her.
She let out a heaving sigh of affectionate aggrevation as she knelt in front of him. Her face was serious as she said, "She didn't deserve you, anyways."
"Always thought it be de oth'r way around," he said softly, a sad look shifting over his features.
"Puh-lease. Southern women with intimacy problems are a dime a dozen. Don't you ever watch Oprah? Now you, on the other hand...not many Cajun thieves around with hearts of gold." Her voice held a teasing note, as she squeezed his hand with silent sympathy.
"Makes me a collectible item den, non?" A soft laugh rumbled in his throat.
"Hey, I got my Cajun thief on back order. People think Pokemon cards are hard to come by? They should try gettin' a Remy LeBeau before the holiday season." Her grin widened as he began to laugh more fully, the pain slipping away from from his face.
Wiping tears of hiliarity from his eyes, he spoke evenly. "Topic change?"
"Works for me." She settled next to him, resting her dark head on his shoulder.
"So what trouble have you been gettin' into, p'tite 'firecracker'?" He stroked her hair softly, leaning his cheek againist the softness of it.
There was a slight pause, and a soft cough from her. "You...don't want to know."
His eyebrows raised high. "Ohhh, now I defin'tly do. As you so tactfully put it, 'Spill it'."
She took a deep breath, "I went to the school dance with Everett, even tho' he's a total dope and didn't think it was a 'real' date. Emplate showed up, started a fight as he tried to make the rest of us and Penny into snack food again. He took over my mind along with Paige, Ange, and Sean's. Ev managed to snap me outta it by gettin' me madder then anything....then, well...I kinda turned on Emplate and blasted him...along with the entire building. We're still...uhm...picking up pieces of cement and mortar from the lawn."
He blinked at her. She blushed, and shrugged. He cleared his throat. "Anythin' else?"
"Er...tracked down the guy who murdered my parents on my own, by tracing him through one of my parent's old pictures. Turns out he's Paige's boyfriend's grandfather. Yeah, I know, insert the 'It's A Small World After All' soundtrack here. Went to beat the crap outta him, and then had the other GenXers tag along behind me. They seemed to think I was gonna kill him." She gave a deversive snort.
"You weren't." He made it a statement, not a question.
"Darned skippy. Wolvie brought me up better then that."
"Good for you, p'tite. No matter what de crime, there's no reason to take a life und'r yer own hatred. Dat sorta thing jest leads to a world fulla trouble."
"I knew you'd see it that way. So, on the opposite side of this convo, what have you been up to?"
"Lil' bit of dis, lil' bit of dat..."
"Not Slick, party of one, your table is now ready."
"You won't beli've me."
He too, took a deep breath. "Welp, kidnapped Sekmeht Conoway 'n Jake Gavin Jr, 'long wid de Mengo brothers ta break into Doom's castle in Latervia. Used Doom's time platform to travel back to London, 1891, so I could change history and get my Poppa set up t'be de next head of de Guild. Got Adam Worth's help to track down de Guild to Sinister's old mansion. Ran into my grandpappy (who is jest a big an idiot as my father said he was, by de way...) and fought Candra t'free de Guild. DEN, I kidnapped my daddy, as we all took off to New York to get secrets fer Candra from Sinister so she'd let dem (dem being that idiotic Guild I was born into. Who ever thought a buncha thieves could be that stupid...) outta their debt t'her. Tangled with de Guild 'gain (Came up short on dat one..), 'n had Jake turn into a woman, which after 'SHE' tangled with Sinister, she couldn' change back to a man. DEN we all ended up in Egypt, I fought Candra 'gain, saved de Guild, 'n had all the ancient texts of our people locked into my noggin. After all dat nonsense, t'finish off de trip 'Jackie' n' I swung down to Nawlins t'save my Tante Mattie when she was jest a girl."
He paused to breath, then added nonchalantly, "All 'n all...a borin' trip."
She quirked her lips. "How was the food?"
"Kinda greasy. Delmonico's was good, tho."
"Is 'Jackie' still a woman?"
"Non, 'n let me tell you dat's a damned shame. Jake wears a nice lookin' sheet. Ya believe me den?" A bemused look passed his face.
"Cajun, that story is incredulous, fanatical, and right outta an episode of Star Trek. Of course I believe you." She smirked softly.
He laughed again. "Mind if I ask why?"
"'Cuz out of everyone in this whole wide world...it could only happen to you."
"Ain't dat de truth..."
Silence reigned over the duo for a few more minutes, before the girl stirred again, "Gumbo, all this 'purging our souls' stuff has me craving something sweet and high calorie. You in?"
"P'tite, I know of a pint of Mint Chocolate Chip dat Jean's been hidin' in de back of the freezer. We can pol'sh it off easy, 'n hide it de garbage b'fore Jean even notices it's gone."
The girl pulled herself to her feet, a slight grin on her face as she offered the man a hand up. He took it, brushing himself off as he stood. As they walked together back up to the darkened Mansion, their arms looped loosely around each other's waists. A smirk worked over the young man's face, as he said innocently, "You realize tho'...if Jeanie catches us, I'm pointin' de finger at you."
"You do that, Gumbo, and Scott finds out about that dream with the lime jello. And his wife."
"I really gotta stop talkin' in my sleep..."