Whispers

 
 
Chapter Six: Une Nuit de Répit

"A Night's Repose"

- This is getting to be a habit. I've lost track, Chère, who rescues whom next? -

Gambit, Uncanny X-Men #266

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Remy woke abruptly, the waves of nausea rolling in, and he staggered out of the bed, nearly stumbling. Reality skewed. He clutched his head with one hand, tried to steady himself with the other, almost knocked over a lamp.

"Merde! Maudit!"

He heard someone screaming, the sound distorted by the incoherent buzzing in his ears. The world lurched again and he fell back against the bed. Chere's terror washed against the edges of his extended empathy. He drew it back, holding his head.

He managed to make out some of her words. "Please! Where are you?"

Remy forced himself to move toward her, ignoring the spinning, swimming room around him. He had to reach her.

He spun out his empathy and drew against her emotions. If only she would let him calm her…

Abruptly, the hotel room swirled into sharp, highly detailed focus, as if he was seeing it for the first time. And he nearly fell as everything around him stilled.

Leaving a name.

He felt like cussing again. Even small updates could do this to him. And he couldn't stop for anything before verifying the changes. Remy scoured through his memories, searching for a match, finding the name and the memory and noting the differences. It was a rush job, but it would do.

He moved towards Chere again. This time, he kept his balance and was able to reach her, touch her, extend his empathy into her dreams.

"Chere," he said sharply and shook her.

She flailed about, fighting him. He held down her arms and called again.

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The flames burst through the wood of the door she was leaning against. She coughed through the smoke, but she didn't hurt. The fire didn't burn her. Her clothes shed burnt patches; her arms were scraped from the debris. She kept going.

Have to find them, she thought. She had to reach her parents.

"Where are you?"

Heavy arms snaked around her waist and began to drag her back and out of the house. She screamed. She clawed at the man. A firefighter, she barely registered.

"They're alive! They're in there! I have to go get them!"

Unable to stop the flames. From the lawn, she could only struggle against the arms that held her and stare as fire consumed her house and her parents…

"No! They're alive!"

The hold on her became fiercer and she could make out a name shouted at her. "Chere! Chere, wake up!"

She fought him and suddenly, she realized she wasn't dreaming and Remy's face was hovering worriedly over hers. She gasped and pulled her hands back. He relaxed his grip slightly.

"Chere?"

She could only gasp and shake her head, crying for the boy she wasn't. She wasn't him. She wasn't Pyro.

Her mind lurched sharply and the heat and the need for it shivered up her arms. The dark guilt. The rebellion. The emptiness in hands that held no lighter.

The personality shoved forward. She shoved back.

"I'm fine," she said tightly.

Remy frowned.

Chere sat up in the hotel bed with its stiff sheets and looked around, grounding herself in the here and now. She was Chere. Here. With Remy.

She returned her gaze to him.

His auburn hair hung messily in his face and some of it caught against the shading of stubble on his jaw. His eyes were a darker red than she'd ever seen them. His jaw clenched. His brows furrowed. He didn't believe her.

She hugged herself tightly, suddenly needing comfort. This was all wrong. She was supposed to be strong, to be able to deal with this. Her fingers wound through the metal chain of Wolverine's dog tags and she tugged against them, feeling the pull on the back of her neck.

"I'm sorry," she whispered.

A shadow passed her line of vision on the right and she turned toward it and found herself turning into Remy's gloved hand as he pressed it against her cheek and brushed back the tears and tangled strands of brown and white. She closed her eyes and shuddered.

"It's all right, Chere," he said softly. "We all have our nightmares."

She opened her eyes and looked at him.

She had so many questions she wanted to ask. How long had they known each other? Did they mean something to each other? Why was he helping her? Where were they going? So much to say and to understand had been silenced by their need to leave. So much she wanted to know.

She remained silent as he stroked her cheek.

Such a small caress. Why did it feel so unusual? Had no one ever touched her like this?

Chere sighed and dropped her hand to her lap.

"Thank you, Remy."

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Remy pulled away when she said that. He was never quite sure what to do with her. It would be so easy if she wasn't so vulnerable. He had never been able to resist a femme in trouble, and now was no exception. But something about her, something deeper than that, continued to draw him like a siren's song. Something it wasn't fair to Chere to respond to.

He sighed deeply and ran a hand through his hair.

Chere's emerald eyes watched him intently as he moved away and settled back on his bed. He kicked his feet up onto the mattress and sat leaning against the headboard.

They stayed that way for a long moment, silent and wrapped up in their own thoughts.

Chere suddenly shifted, drawing his attention. He watched her wrestle with the sheets until she found a comfortable position, knees protectively in front of her. She leaned against her own headboard.

He fished a deck of cards out of the pocket of his jeans and started shuffling them, not really looking, just needing to satisfy the itch in his hands.

"When do you smoke?" she asked, her soft voice falling in the darkness.

He hadn't expected that.

"I'm quitting."

He paused shuffling and flicked on one of the lamps, the one he'd unsettled earlier. The yellow light spilled mostly across Remy and cast Chere's face in shadow from the lampshade by her own bed.

He asked curiously, "Why do you want to know?"

She shrugged one shoulder. "Because I don't really know you, and I'd like to. You know me better than I know you."

He kicked up the shuffling again, this time watching as he did it. With a flick of his wrist, he drew the King of Hearts. It was instinctual by now.

"Not really, Chere," he finally answered. "You were out cold for most of our acquaintance."

Something flickered in her eyes.

He went on, letting the slapping, sliding sound and feel of the cards soothe his jitters. "Like I said, we were on a job when things went bad. But we were on opposite sides."

She raised both eyebrows.

"No animosity. Just sentries for a diamonds deal. We were there to make sure no one felt frisky." He shrugged. "Things went bad and you saved me." He stopped there.

Chere waited a short spell then asked, "What happened?"

"Bomb or something." He slammed the cards together in a stack and then set them gently on the nightstand. He looked at her, catching her with his gaze and reaching out to help her feel it. "All I know is I'm fighting hard one minute, then next thing I'm waking up in a wasteland. The only thing between me and it was you.

"I couldn't leave you, Chere. Not when you did that for a man you hadn't exchanged a word with." He shook his head. "I don't even know how you survived it."

She stared at him. Her eyes seemed full and he studied the way the light and shadow caught in the emerald hues. Her tousled hair slid across them when she leaned her head back further and exposed her throat. He wanted to touch her again, smooth out the tangles and pull them away from those eyes that looked at him with such trust when he wasn't worthy of it.

"So I guess we're even," she said softly.

Remy pulled his thoughts back sharply and frowned, unsure of her meaning.

She glanced away. "Are you sure you want to help me find Wolverine? You've got other things..." She gestured vaguely at the room around them. "...other situations to take care of."

"I promised you, Chere." He'd promised, even knowing how long it had been since he kept one.

Chere nodded. "If you're going to help me with that, then I'll help you with this."

He sat straight up in surprise, but her voice cut him off.

"We're even," she said firmly. "Let's keep it that way."

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Remy's eyes seemed troubled, but she refused to soften the statement. He'd already given her far more than she had given him, even if he disagreed.

"Let's get some shut-eye." Chere pulled back the covers on her bed and slipped underneath them again.

Remy stayed still.

She glanced over at him. What was he thinking? His face was unreadable. Finally, very slowly, he started to climb back under his own spread.

"For now, Chere," she thought she heard him whisper.

She lay facing the window. She was wide awake now. She didn't really believe she'd sleep.

"Chere?" Remy's voice floated over to her. His tone was sharp with something. She didn't know him well enough to know what.

She turned toward him, letting that be her answer.

"Merci."

There were no words for that, any more than he had had words for her.

But words spilled out anyway. "No good to talk in the dark."

He caught his breath at her double meaning, but she heard a grim hardness in his voice when he answered. "You're the one that turned out the light."

She shivered. There were no words.

There never were.
 


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