Whispers

 
 
Chapter One: Le Diable Blanc

"The White Devil"

- How did you do that? -
- With style, petite. With style. -

Jubilee and Gambit, X-Men TV Series, "Night of the Sentinels (Part 1)"

-
Gambit made no attempt to brush the auburn hair back from his eyes. He was not wearing shades to cover them. He was a mutant. He was dangerous. Le Diable Blanc, the White Devil.

It's what she was paying him to be.

It was night. As one of the sentries, he patrolled the circle around the fire, checking everything before the two parties began negotiations. He nodded briefly at Quicksilver, his fellow in this.

A short, burly man passed him from the other side, making the same sort of rounds. The man looked like life had treated him harshly and he'd treated it only harsher back.

Gambit smiled an almost feral grin. He knew all about that.

Returning attention to his duties, he glanced briefly around at the wilderness hemming them in. It was mostly forest. The ground sloped downward on one side to meet a long plain. His own station was back up against a rock face rising from the earth. He joined his opposite from the other side there.

She was a belle femme. She stood on high alert, her face utterly unreadable. Her clothes were all the same midnight blue: a tank with wide straps, a pair of long pants, and combat boots. White hair framed her face but the long ponytail was brown. She turned intense emerald eyes on him.

He cocked his head and gave her a grin, but the femme seemed not to notice. Instead, her eyes drank him in slowly, hovering where his pant legs covered the tops of his boots, where the long sleeves met his black gloves, where his neck rose from his shirt, and finally, stopped at his devil eyes.

The whole time, she remained expressionless. Then she very deliberately turned toward the fire as both their parties stepped into view.

Gambit paid minimal attention to the conversation. His focus was on the surrounding area. While the forest provided privacy, it also provided ample opportunity for others to come upon them unawares. Quicksilver stood on alert on the other side. Between the two of them, they were responsible to detect any danger to their own side.

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Rogue brushed back a strand of white, less careful now that she knew the sentry beside her was practically safe. He wore even more layers than she used to when a student at Xavier's. But his neck and face were bare. If necessary, she had access to what she needed.

He was a charmer, that one, still glancing over at her now and then. His red on black eyes glowed appreciatively when he did.

For the most part, Rogue ignored him, focusing on the negotiations instead. She had long since developed a canny ear for gleaning information about their employers and their employers' opposition since beginning her work with Logan three years prior. Her job was this. His was to alert her immediately if brute force was needed or if an outsider planned to attack.

Pleasantries had barely been exchanged when a prickly sensation crept up the back of her neck. The Logan in her stirred and she caught herself breathing deeper, trying to catch a scent. She heard something faintly. The tall man with devil eyes stiffened at her side.

Helicopter.

A deck of cards appeared in his hands, the silver-haired mutant by Logan disappeared in a blur, and Logan's claws came out.

Rogue got the leader of their side down without touching him while Logan moved out the others into the surrounding trees. The leader rolled after them to safety. Someone—someone fast—banked the fire and moved out the other side, each person vanishing in a blur. By the time the chopper came into view, almost everyone was gone.

She heard voices, men running through the trees toward them, guns and shouting. Another's memories were rising and taking over.

The helicopter.

Pink explosion lit up the incoming troops. More shouting. Bullets flying through the air. She was slammed with more than one but healed instantly. She ignored them and the men that were shooting. His memories kept drawing her eyes to the helicopter.

A man suddenly slipped his side out of the open cockpit and raised a tranquilizer gun. He sighted down the length of it at the tall man with the red eyes, dancing through their ranks and flinging brightly lit playing cards into powerful explosions.

Something almost physical hit her and she screamed.

An onslaught of memory in less than a second. Silver Fox. Claws and death. Forgetting all that had gone before. The smell of that chemical, the sight of that gun. They took everything away.

Rogue pulled up a strength she'd never known she had and flung one man into the face of the flying dart. She hit another in the neck, took him down. Shoved two more out of her way. She caught the surprise in the crimson eyes as she grabbed his neck with her hand and he slumped and fell as she absorbed him.

Power coursed through her. She let him go and tried to contain the building energy within her. She had to let go, let it out, free all the energy in these molecules around her.

She palmed his deck with one hand and reached out with the other. The chopper began to glow. Brighter. Brighter. The whole deck glowed in her other hand and she flung it in the faces of their enemies, even as something sharp and heavy pierced her arm. Pink cards flew by in a snowstorm.

Everything exploded.

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He woke lightheaded and tried to sit up. The femme had fallen on him. He caught her in his arms and managed to rise.

"Merde."

The wilderness had become a wasteland. The mangled remains of a chopper had crashed to the ground with pieces of it scattered throughout the clearing and beyond. Bodies were strewn all around.

Dawn was approaching.

He glanced down at the woman in his arms. She had covered him with her body, he remembered vaguely. She'd tried to protect him.

Gambit would have left her behind.

Remy LeBeau carried her safely away.

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Nightmares wrestled with her in this strange place.

Metal tearing through her flesh. Her family going up in flames. A wedding dress stained with blood.

She twisted and moaned.

So hot. Fire everywhere. Blood. So much blood.

A soft voice tried to reach her. She struggled toward the sound. A feeling, like a hand on her stomach.

"Softly, chère," murmured the smooth voice. "Softly."

The dreams subsided and with them, so did she, falling back into the darkness, a single playing card tumbling ahead of her in the pink light.

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Storm's greatest regret from her first year as headmistress was the loss of Logan and Rogue. The first, she had expected: there was nothing to hold him. But Rogue had just taken the Cure and seemed so happy with Bobby. It had shocked everyone when a month later she stormed out of Bobby's room in heated anger, slammed everything personal into a black duffel, and rode away on the back of Logan's bike.

He called often. She never did.

So Storm was initially pleased when Logan's permanent cell showed up on her caller ID.

"Logan, it's good to hear from you," she said with a smile.

He grunted. "Can't say the same. Rogue's missing."

"What?" She sat down. "What do you mean?"

"Running a job. Things got nasty. She missed the rendezvous."

Storm could hear him blowing out a smoke.

"I went back," he continued. "The place is a waste. She wasn't there and I haven't found out who the others were to check with them yet."

"Do you have any leads?" Storm asked, grasping for something, anything. "Was there any clue where she might have gone?"

Logan sighed. "Not a trace."

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Remy found the puncture wound shortly after settling her down. He traced over it with his gloved fingers, wondering what exactly had poked her. He traced over it again. Probably a needle.

That was disturbing.

The femme stirred then, moaning and twisting in his sheets. He flattened his hand against her stomach.

"Easy, petite. You're all right."

She cried out.

He pressed a little harder and reached out with his empathy, trying to calm the dreams (or drug-induced hallucinations).

"Softly, chère. Softly."

She seemed to settle down, drifting deeper into slumber.

Remy frowned in worry. She'd clearly been shot with something. The odds were good it was something bad. He reached for the phone.

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It had been two days and the femme still had not awakened. She would surface sometimes and he could get her to drink something, but then she'd be gone again, lost in nightmares and dreams.

His contact came and went with enough samples to determine what had struck her.

Remy continued to sleep on the couch and care for the femme in his bed.

She was beautiful, that one. Her hair was long and silky with a chestnut hue. The pure white framed her face becomingly. He would sometimes slide it through the fingers of his gloves and wonder where it came from. It didn't have the look of dye.

He only ignored her shape by keeping it covered. When she kicked off the sheets, he dutifully put them back on, tucking her in to make it harder for her to do it again.

He watched her. He pulled up a chair beside the bed to help him do it.

By the end of the third day, he'd read every book and magazine he had in the apartment. And he was worried. No word had come from his employer for the last job. No questions about what had gone down. No calls for another meeting. The woman that had hired him had vanished.

Without a trace.

The femme stirred. He grabbed a cup of water and almost had it to her mouth when her eyelids opened to reveal those perfect sparkling green orbs he'd noticed the first time he saw her.

She scrambled up onto one arm, looking a little dazed.

He set the cup down slowly. "It's all right, chère." He wondered to himself when he had started calling her an endearment. "You're all right," he said soothingly.

Her gaze fastened on him. A flicker of recognition passed through it. "What's your name?" she asked softly.

Mississippi. He blinked. A southern girl.

"Remy LeBeau." Then he cursed himself. Handing out his entire given name to a stranger he knew worked as a mercenary.

"Oh." She turned away.

He frowned. "Perhaps, some wat—"

"I don't remember my name."

That shut him up. The femme turned toward him again, a slightly perplexed look on her face.

Remy sat back slowly. Considered. "Do you remember anything?"

"My f—" She stopped, cocked her head. "A man."

Friend? Father? What had she been going to say? Remy sighed and returned to the water.

"Water, chère. Then food."

She stared at him solemnly as he held out the cup.

"We'll find him," he said reassuringly when she made no move to take it.

Hesitantly she reached out and accepted the cup. Then tucking a strand of white hair behind her ear, she looked up with a soft, vulnerable smile. "Promise?"

He swallowed. And what good was the promise of a thief? He'd promised Bella. He'd promised Etienne. He'd stopped promising himself.

Remy caught her chin in his hand, stared deeply into those sparkling, intense green eyes, and breathed in her scent mixed with his own from the shirt and the sheets.

"I promise."

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Logan hadn't caught her scent. He'd searched the rubble and the bodies and come away empty-handed. The chopper had been destroyed beyond recognition, and he'd found no identifying markers on it or the men.

He'd since tracked own the silver-haired sentry, to no avail. "Quicksilver" knew nothing. His employer, a woman with no name and a hefty bank account, had vanished. Not that the speedster cared. He'd been paid upfront.

Logan's search had even unearthed the team his had been negotiating with. None of them knew where she was. The only one he hadn't found was called Gambit.

He was a Cajun, they said. Le Diable Blanc. That's all they knew.

With a growl, Logan returned to his bike and the open road.

A white devil and his own Rogue had vanished, along with Gambit and Quicksilver's mysterious employer.

It wasn't much, but it was all he had.
 


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