Whispers

 
 
Chapter Two: Une Belle Femme Dangeureuse

"A Beautiful, Dangerous Woman"

- Feel better, p'tite? -
- Not while you're still alive. -
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Good news den 'cause it don't look like I'm going to be dat way for much longer. -

Gambit and Blink, Astonishing X-Men, "Age of Apocalypse"

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She slipped gingerly into the shower and flinched as the hot water hit her cuts and bruises. Whatever she'd been doing to wind up in Remy's bed had been rough on her body. She leaned back her head against the shower wall, closed her eyes, and let the steam pour through her.

"Remember, fille," she whispered to herself, half in French. "Remember."

Her world focused inward, telescoping through all the pieces flitting through her mind.

Nightscapes of New Orleans, fighting and thieving, a wedding dress stained with blood. Claws and metal piercing her flesh, wars and dog tags, an animal of a man that should've died when she killed him. Loving parents, eyes turned to hatred and fear, ice reaching out to destroy her closest friend.

More glimpses of memory flashed by.

Flames consuming her mother and father, unable to stop the flames, unable to want to. The concentration camps, a numbered arm, leaving her closest friend to his impossible dreams. High school football in Mississippi, a girlfriend with long brown hair and a talent for piano, talk of Alaska...

She frowned, reaching past the nightmares and memories. None of them were her. No, her only memories in her own skin were of Remy with his bright, beautiful eyes trying to help her, trying to reach her through the nightmares. Somewhere, beneath all of this, she was hidden.

Suddenly, she pulled back frightened. She was not alone in here. Faces, feelings, personalities pushed at her.

We're trapped in here. Don't you remember us?

Some of them were out where she could see them.

The man, her father perhaps, wearing his dog tags. "I'll take care of you, kid. Hang in there."

A blonde, young man with lost and angry eyes. "How can you just trust this guy? You don't even know him."

I don't even know you, she returned softly, uncertain as yet of how to proceed.

"You will survive, my girl," said the silver-haired man with grave dignity. "You always have."

A teenage southern boy drawled, "Just don't ask me to get you out of this. You always wanted adventure."

Other personalities waited. She could feel them lurking in the shadows. She reached for them, but they moved and danced away.

You trapped us. Why should we help you?

They were silenced abruptly by another shadow. A stronger shadow.

"Who are you?" she whispered.

It moved like liquid, always just beyond her reach. She reached harder and saw New Orleans again, then felt her fingers start to tingle with restlessness, and alertness flooded her, revealing more clearly the shadows in the darkness.

A Cajun voice, smooth as honey, feeling like her own thoughts, washed through. "Let me be, chère. I'll steal your name back. Ain't a code that I can't crack."

"So modest too," she replied calmly.

A sullen silence and then he let her see his glowing red on black eyes, let her feel his energy beneath her skin, and let her know him for a moment.

"Remy," she breathed. What was he to her? Friend? Boyfriend? Lover?

The personality slipped beyond her grasp to become a shadow again. She opened her eyes to the shower, the steam, and Remy's real, physical apartment bathroom. The internal landscape faded away.

He'd promised.

She finished washing and turned off the water. His towels smelled like him, like cinnamon and cigarettes and bourbon and his own scent. A nice scent.

He had brought her some clothes and left them in the linen closet. She giggled on inspection. Clearly, he liked her in lace underwear. The pair of jeans fit snugly over her hips and she flipped through the shirts slowly. Her eyes continued upward to the shelf above.

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"Dieu, chère!"

Remy nearly dropped her plate of food when he glanced over and saw the femme coming out of his bedroom. She'd startled him with her silence. Not even a whisper of energy hinted to him that she was coming. He looked at her and nearly dropped the plate again.

She was wearing his shirt.

She had showered and her long chestnut hair fell in soft, damp ripples with the white curling around her cheeks. His green dress shirt clung to her as if she hadn't dried off all the way and showed off her curves. It wasn't helped any by the snug jeans he'd got her.

Remy forced himself to be casual and put her plate on the table. Something in him was inordinately pleased that she had chosen his shirt over the others, but the rest of him was aghast that he could even feel that way.

"The shirts not fit?" he asked very casually.

"They're nice," she replied and settled into her seat. A slight grimace curled her lips, but she hid it fairly well. She eyed her plate appreciatively. "So where do you sleep?"

He blinked in surprise but sat down across from her. "Couch, for now."

The femme looked up from the food. "Oh. I'm sorry."

"It's nothing, chère." He brushed it off. "Didn't want to frighten you."

She stiffened a little more and he cursed himself. He kept forgetting she had no memories, and that kind of statement could be construed a lot of ways.

She sat one elbow on the table and leaned into her hand, studying him intently. Her gaze ran over his face, his arms and hands, his posture. Remy had never minded being on display, but this seemed to be something else and was uncomfortably reminiscent of the first time he saw her.

He had to break the tension.

"Looking like you want something, chère. You're welcome to whatever you see."

A sudden blush bloomed across her face and she pulled back a little.

Remy felt a tad guilty for hitting on a vulnerable femme, but forced himself to smile and act normal anyway. He began to eat, heartily and with great interest.

She took a deep breath. "Are we…Were we…" She couldn't get any more out.

"Chère." He reached out and caught her by the wrist.

She looked at him, halting the words on his tongue with the look in her eyes. It was uncertain but there. She looked at him like someone she could trust and maybe even love. It rattled him a little, but he could not pull away.

Tentatively, she reached out with her free hand and brushed his hair back from his eyes. Her fingers grazed his face for the briefest of seconds, then she set her hand back on the table.

"What?" she asked.

He shook himself out of it and released her wrist. This time, he continued eating while talking to her.

"We ran into some trouble, and you saved me," he said. "You were hurt and I brought you here."

She cautiously bit into her own food. She seemed to be pondering his words. "This is very good."

"Merci."

Her eyes drifted back toward his. "Do you know where he is?"

"Non." He shook his head. "But I'll find out, chère. Promised."

Tension successfully broken. He felt slightly pleased and somewhat disappointed. The sooner he got her safely to her family, the better. He was tempted, sorely tempted, to just create a life for her—as his. But he decided against it for many reasons, including that shy vulnerable look she gave him despite her strength and confidence. She trusted him.

"What shall we call you?" Remy asked, moving on to the practical.

Her eyes blanked out, then turned thoughtful and fastened on him. She lifted a shoulder with practiced indifference and smiled faintly. "How about Chere?"

He stared at her, stunned for some reason, not certain why that made him uncomfortable. But he forced a smile for her sake. "Sounds bon."

"Chere" gave him a brilliant smile back and continued to eat her food slowly. He hadn't served her a lot, not wanting to harm her stomach so soon after fasting, but she seemed to be enjoying it thoroughly.

"I feel like I haven't eaten this good in ages." Her southern accent seemed to thicken with her excitement.

"I'm glad you like it—" He bit off the endearment. It came so naturally with her, but it was her name now.

She glanced at him oddly.

He smiled. "You go back to bed. I'll clean the dishes."

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"I placed him directly in your line of fire. It's not my fault your men are incompetent!" The woman was stunning and hardened. She tapped perfectly manicured nails impatiently on the glossy walnut finish of her dining room table while absently taking in the view from her Manhattan penthouse suite.

"At no charge?" she laughed wickedly at the person on the phone. "Call me with a real offer."

Her nails stilled. Her mouth straightened into a line.

"Double it and we'll deal."

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Chere was resting and Remy was washing dishes, trying to figure out what to do about her. He knew from his own experience that she wasn't someone to be played with. The femme could and did fight and handle herself effectively. But she couldn't remember anything, except a him.

He groaned with frustration, then absently uncharged the sponge.

He needed to distance himself and gain some perspective. She was approximately twenty-four, he decided. Give or take a year. Her upbringing had been in Mississippi, but judging from the way she ate and her pseudo-memory, she hadn't been there in a while and missed real southern food. There was a man who would probably be looking for her when he discovered she was missing. She had nearly constant nightmares.

Remy groaned again. This was hardly enough information to go on.

The one who could give him what he needed was his former employer, but of course, she was nowhere to be found.

It always unnerved him when an employer vanished after a job gone bad, not that she'd left him hanging. He'd been paid upfront. But why would she disappear after a botched job? Shouldn't she be demanding that they reassemble, negotiate again?

It had been diamonds. The woman had enough of them from the wrong African countries and the other side had been buying. But he couldn't track down the other side without her help.

A man.

It could be anyone. Anyone at all.

He considered calling his family but dismissed the thought immediately. Nothing there had changed.

"Remy!"

He froze. Then pulling himself together, he hurried into the bedroom and found Chere twisting in his sheets, calling out his name.

He didn't stop to think, just gathered her to him and shushed her. She buried her face into his shoulder and her nails into his arm, whispered his name one last time contentedly, and settled into a calm slumber.

He didn't know what to think.

An angel in his arms had called for him. No one ever called for him and reached for him in perfect trust.

He held her to him and continued to whisper endearments in French in her ears.

She'd called for him.

He was lost.

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Henri LeBeau swore loudly when he slammed down the phone. "Mercy!"

"What has gotten into you, mon amour?" his wife Mercy asked as she came in the bedroom.

"Remy's number. It doesn't work."

She frowned. "That phone drowned, remember? I'll get you the new one."

Henri followed her as she went into the kitchen and rummaged around in a drawer muttering things about impatient husbands.

"What's wrong?" she asked again, still rummaging.

"Just find the number!"

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Remy shook her gently awake in the afternoon. "Time to get up, Chere."

She sat up sleepily and rubbed her eyes. She heard him chuckle low in his throat with a smooth, rich sound and figured she could listen to him for hours.

"What time is it?"

"Two o'clock."

His hand touched her face. She looked at him. He always wore gloves, and she wondered vaguely if it was for his sake or hers.

"Remember anything?" he asked softly.

Chere sat up in bed and studied him. His eyes seemed to glow and she leaned closer to see.

"Your eyes don't stay the same," she said. "They change."

"Really?" He looked slightly amused by her observation.

She frowned. "I told you what I remember."

He sighed and rubbed his hands together. "We need a little more to work with, so let's start by asking questions, d'accord?"

"Okay," she said uncertainly.

"Do you know who he is?" He flexed his fingers when he asked.

She thought and felt and couldn't put her finger on it. "He's like my father," she said finally. "And my friend. But he's not my father." She frowned and grappled with the problem of it, but Remy cut her off.

"Do you remember his name?"

His name. She closed her eyes, reached for cigar smoke and metal, felt the dog tags. Suddenly, she gasped and opened her eyes. "My clothes! What'd you do with them?"

Remy seemed taken aback, but he stood and went over to the armoire. He pulled a stack of clothes out of the middle drawer. "They're a little beat up, Chere."

That was an understatement. She quickly unfolded and shook out each item, finding them torn with bullets and something else. They were dirty and barely held into their own proper shapes. A bit of metal fell out. She clutched at it, spread it out in her fingers, and laughed.

"Wolverine," she said. "That's his name."

"Merde."

She was surprised to hear him cuss and turned her attention to Remy's face. His eyes seemed darker with a rich brilliance on the iris that felt dangerous. They were fixed on the dog tags in her hand. He seemed to be remembering something.

"Remy?"

"I forgot," he said simply. Then he looked at her and smiled, melting away her worry into something different and more restless. "If he's like a father to you, then you, ma chère, are a beautiful"—she blushed at that—"dangerous woman."
 


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