Whispers

 
 
Chapter Nine: Anges de Lumière et de l'Obscurité

"Angels of Light and Darkness"

- What yer doin' is suicide! Cajun, you're the closest -- help 'im! -
- Non, that would really be suicide. 'Bout time everyone on this team started trustin' that everyone else on this team knows what they're doin'! -

Wolverine and Gambit, Uncanny X-Men #367

-
Chere let slip a Japanese curse word when Blindspot's hand went down. A Full House.

Remy leaned in close, breathing out a hot whisper on her ear, sending a shiver down her spine that she quickly repressed. "Didn't know you spoke Nihongo, chèrie."

"Is that what it is?" she drawled out, making herself sound unaffected.

She studied the cards as each hand was shown, reading for patterns of betting against their hands. The Silver Samurai had folded. Abyss, Rax, and Dominion, besides a handful of numbers, were neatly blanked out after a moment. Still in were Blindspot, Sunfire, #19 (Femme Fatale), #10, #16, and Avalanche.

"I'm ranked fourth," she said bluntly. "Who might this reunion be with, Gambit?" She craned her head to look at him.

Remy gave a wolfish grin but no verbal answer.

"If I need help..."

"That's what I'm here for, Chere," Remy tossed back. He trailed one hand slowly up her back then rubbed it in a soothing motion. "Just say the word."

"Yeah." She refocused on the screen. "Stop doing that."

His hand fell away. A low chuckle came from behind her.

She rolled her eyes.

His life was on the line and he still seemed to think about having fun.

"What am I supposed to do with you?" she asked.

Remy's reply was quick. "You want a list?"

Chere nearly choked on her response. She twisted around and pinned him with a glare. "You want to keep distracting me and get you killed?" she demanded.

His knowing smirk did not improve her mood.

She turned back to the computer. "You didn't flirt before."

"You were also my charge," he answered reasonably.

"Yeah, well, stop." Somehow, she seriously doubted he would.

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Deadpool tapped a pencil on the conference room table. His red mask hid the livid facial expression he wore as he listened only halfheartedly to the Heads yammering on about why this particular mutant was so important to their plans and who their sources were about him and blah, blah, blah.

"Cool it," Zero leaned over and whispered.

Deadpool jerked a shoulder.

Silver Fox turned a cool, knowing gaze on him and cocked one eyebrow, but did not speak.

Deadpool ignored his teammates. His anger burned hotly as he remembered again waking in the rubble of Le Diable Blanc's apartment, realizing how much of himself had been hurt yet again and how much exposed.

He was going to personally see that the mutant arrived in this facility. He just wouldn't guarantee what condition the mutant would arrive in.

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"Oh, crap!" Betsy stared in dismay at the small rectangles cut out in the stone.

Jubilee scrambled down from her perch on Betsy's shoulders. "Well, if that's the ventilation system, we're not getting out that way."

There were no windows in their gorgeously appointed underground rooms, and no way out that they could find except the front door. Two guards stood on the other side of that and at regular intervals down the hallway.

Their rooms were nice. Beautiful canopy beds, antique furniture that looked almost brand new with the care it received, expensive tapestries, gold fixtures in the bathroom, Persian rugs. This was hardly a comfort to Betsy.

"Jubes, try another paf," she ordered, referring to Jubilee's name for her creations.

With a longsuffering sigh, Jubilee lifted her hands and out slipped a shimmering globule of energy. It floated upward toward the vents and then exploded with a gigantic BOOM! The ground didn't shake. The wall hangings barely moved. The stone stood firm.

"Happy now?" Jubilee asked after Betsy viewed the results of the fifth try.

Betsy sighed. "No."

"I'm sure we'll see the big man soon, whoever he is," Jubilee reassured.

Betsy gave a weak smile. "That's exactly what I'm afraid of."

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Tessa studied the players around the table. Regan finished relocating those who were weeded out on the first round. They could join other rounds after the first four jobs had been given out. In the meantime, the employers carefully reviewed their options, updated details on the tiny computer consoles at each seat. The remaining players evaluated the updates.

Tessa paid special attention to two rounds: the one Boudreaux was bidding on for a kill and the one the Yakuza and Blindspot were bidding on for a capture. Both allowed virtual participants and that was Tessa's specialty.

The boss came slowly toward her. She lifted her head towards Shaw.

He bent down and whispered, "The employer doesn't want Blindspot."

She glanced in that direction, surprised. Blindspot had certainly bested out most of the competition on that hand. But it was not Tessa's right to question. She nodded and made a note, hoping that the competition was very good.

"Perhaps the Yakuza?" she whispered back, probing.

Shaw shrugged and returned to the door.

Tessa and Regan exchanged glances. Regan shrugged.

With a tiny sigh, Tessa initiated the deal.

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Logan was perusing the paperwork in that same out of the way café when he got the call. He glanced at the caller ID, then answered, "Hudson."

Hudson cursed. "Logan! This is a secure number. How do you know who called?"

Logan merely grinned. "What have you got for me, Jim?"

"He's wanted alright." Hudson's voice was grim. "Another Department has loosed some ferrets looking for him. I can't guarantee any protection, but Heather's got a gal working on finding him first. See if we can get your girl out of this."

Logan leaned back in his chair. "The Feds want him?"

"The Feds in three countries," Hudson replied. "And apparently, a few private persons. They're warning our neighbors that there'll be interference on the capture. You know that's never good."

Logan grunted.

"Look. We're working on it."

"Yeah," Logan acknowledged. "I'm on it too. Got some leads. See what I can do."

"Godspeed."

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A new hand was dealt. Remy studied Chere's cards carefully and inwardly cursed. Definitely not a made hand.

Chere tensed in his grip and leaned forward.

The two of Clubs. The five of Hearts. The eight of Clubs. The Jack of Spades. The King of Diamonds.

"You got this, Chere?" Remy asked again, slight tension dancing in his voice.

She propped her chin up on an open palm. "How good are you at making miracles?"

He sighed and gently pushed her from the chair. She settled on the corner of the table and turned the laptop slightly so they both could see.

"You tell me what to type for chat," he said. "I'll play."

Chere nodded and answered softly, "Play time."

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Tessa LeBeau turned from the library windows, taking in the ancient fireplace with the few personal items on the mantel, and ended facing her mentor's desk. He was staring into the fire again.

She hated Montreal. Paris was nice and New Orleans all he had claimed of it, but she didn't like Montreal. They had been staying in Canada for a year and a half now, posing as French Canadians.

"Is it worth the gambit?" she asked, her tone flinty. In private, she didn't sound French at all.

His intense gaze suddenly shifted to hers. No one had ever cowed Tessa, but he came the closest. His graying hair couldn't hide the powerful, canny survivor within him—or his attractiveness. He had always been handsome, and age unfortunately hadn't changed that.

"Oui," he said smoothly, long after she thought he wouldn't answer. "It always is, non?" And his red eyes gleamed in the odd mix of daylight and firelight.

"If I fail?"

His jaw set. "You will not."

There was no give in that face, those eyes. She loved him. She hated him.

Tessa turned back to the window. "They came."

Her mentor's voice sounded almost amused. "I know."

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Emma scoured the hordes of mental signatures before her. None of them, not one of them, matched Gambit. She searched from Canada to Mexico and still came up dry.

She wanted to grind her teeth with frustration, but merely continued scanning. The power from the machine buoyed her, carrying easily over whole oceans.

Where was he?

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King of Diamonds. Jack of Spades. Remy dumped the other three and wished for a moment he could hold the actual cards in his hands. It was easier to play in person.

Chere sniffed disdainfully at the chatters. "Put in, 'Only an amateur walks in blindly.'"

He grinned. She certainly knew how to throw Avalanche off the game.

"Well, this 'amateur' knows his way around better than you," came the disgruntled reply.

"Would that be before or after the job with Olan?" Sunfire fired off.

Chere raised an eyebrow. Remy didn't bother to explain, but Avalanche had botched that job badly.

The cards came back.

King of Hearts. Ten of Clubs. Ten of Diamonds.

"Two pair." Remy evaluated the numbers. A fairly high two pair, but not quite what he'd been hoping for. "Bluff."

She slid closely to the computer, nearly hanging over him, her scent washing across his senses. Unlike Chere, it didn't distract him at all. In fact, he grinned wolfishly at the familiarity.

"Let me run the keyboard."

He handed it over and watched her fingers fly. She bluffed all right. Her confidence showed through quite well as she nearly butchered the other players claim to proficiency. It was getting ugly.

"Never met a woman that could bring him down," Blindspot noted.

"Of course, you never met a woman in my circles," Chere fired back.

Sunfire jumped in. "He's smart to women. Takes them himself."

"I'm certain that's how he got tied to the Assassins."

Remy intook sharply. "No need to bring that up now, Chere."

"Do you want to win or not?" Chere demanded, turning to glare at him only centimeters from his face. "I know what I'm doing, d'accord?"

He chuckled lightly. "D'accord." His gaze sharpened. "But don't put something out there they don't know."

"Seeing as Bella's bidding on another job, I'm not concerned." She turned back to her keys.

Remy leaned back and watched her.

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Don't do it. The voice of a soft-faced girl with bright blue eyes and chocolate-colored curls about her face.

Pyro piped up. Quit telling her what to do. None of your business.

We're in here too, said the boy she knew had once loved her. We have a right to tell her what's right and wrong.

Do not allow yourself to be distracted, my girl, said the silver-haired man with his grave dignity.

How 'bout you all shut up and let her work? Wolverine threatened the rest of them.

Chere ignored them, these angels of light and darkness pulling her this way and that. Instead, she pulled deeper and deeper within for her own self, for a demon-eyed Thief and gambler, for the strength of the Wolverine, and went in for the kill.
 


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