People seem surprised when I tell dem don't remember dis part.
Seem to t'ink dat jus' because it's moi dat means I lived it. Well, dere's
more dan one sun in dis sorry 'scuse for a world an' more dan one
Remy and more dan one reason dat circle got broke.

Remy LeBeau, as he was known out here in the greater world, stared into glowing red irises in the mirror of a cheap motel bathroom and studied the whites behind them. What was it like to be anything but a devil? He let the glow fade, turned away, and wiped his face with a dry towel.

Wolverine was the epitome of Sinister's stolen labors, and Remy had watched him walk away with no memory whatsoever of anything that he had just done. If this hadn't been a solo job, Remy would probably be dead right now—or returning to some other contrived horror. But it had been and, with the Wolverine's memories conveniently wiped, that left little for Remy to be worried about.

He dropped the towel on the floor and picked up a shirt to slide over his upper body. The trench coat he'd tossed over the back of one moldering chair he wrapped around himself quickly, checking the pockets for his cards. It all fit with the persona—a useful one he'd picked up that had lured Wolverine to him.

A cell phone rang. He answered. Silence floated uneasily around him in the room as he listened.

"Oui, Monsieur Essex," came his smooth reply. "I understand perfectly."

The phone shut with a click. Remy took one glance at the blaring red numbers on the clock beside the bed.

Time to return to the nest.

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Remy flipped off Essex and sat up on a sinister-looking medical bed in a huge underground lab that stretched from end to end of the cavernous space with sterilized stainless steel equipment, counters with beakers and syringes, petri dishes, and computers monitoring everything. In the center of the array stood several beds—one of which he selected for his seat—and the equipment for surgery. Around the room were more beds in a neat circle against the walls. Mutants lay on those, hooked up to various sensors and equipment that fed into the monitors. On one wall stood tall pods filled with red fluid—and more mutants.

Essex studied Remy's eyes with intense interest.

His own were completely red beneath the gentleman disguise he wore of dark hair, brown eyes, healthy skin tone, and brown suit. Remy knew this and pretended indifference at the scrutiny.

"What did he do to you?" Essex murmured, more to himself than to Remy.

"Nothin' you can't fix," Remy replied smoothly. He wore the easy, light southern accent as if he was born to it, though he preferred the thick praline drawl of Cajun. Essex did not like to hear it as it reminded him of Remy's divided loyalties, something Remy could do well to not remind him of.

Remy lay back on the medical bed, knowing what would come next. And it did.

First, the light haziness around his mind, politely demanding him to lower his mental shields. It came far too easy for Remy's liking, but he let the thought fade quickly before Essex could enter. Then the sharp, acute stab of psychic pain and telepathic burrowing through his mental synapses. It was quick, brutal analysis, but effective.

Essex did a remarkable job at determining the exact layout and capabilities of Remy's mental wiring for his powers. Always had. He had taught Remy his powers before they even manifested. Some still were yet to come.

Then came the more physical poking and prodding and wiring him to machines and musing over charts and statistics and giving an impatient look for Remy's impatient sigh. If it had been any of Essex' other subjects, the response would have been significantly harsher, but Essex had long fostered a sort of paternal pride with Remy—even if Remy had done little to deserve it.

But the scientist's back stiffened slightly and Remy realized he had caught the thought, or at least a whiff of it.

"You have no other home, Remy," Essex stated, using his name, a rare concession, almost conciliatory. "You have no other family."


And Remy didn't give a d—. He didn't belong to Essex any more than he belonged to the man who gave his seed to make him. He wasn't just a creation of some scientific mind or evolutionary will.

"Almos' done?" Remy asked, allowing a light drawl, earning a glare from Essex.

Never wise to antagonize the man with the knife poised over your brain, but Remy didn't accomplish things by playing it safe. He pushed the edge with a calculated smoothness that Essex and his telepathy and his science had yet to ruffle. There was always this underlying understanding between them that eventually Remy's powers would grow beyond the grasp of their nurturer and the son would outgrow the master and everything would change between them. But now...

"I tire of this game of yours," Essex said. He readied a hypodermic needle. "I'm going to put you under."

"Imagine that."

It would be cruelty to leave Remy awake for a surgical procedure. Anesthetics never had done much for him.

He braced himself lightly, felt the needle enter his arm, and welcomed the blissful blackness that followed.

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Coming awake was like coming alive in Stryker's pen. A million pinpricks of pain exploded across his vision. He couldn't breathe. An iron vise held down his limbs and he was shaking with the aftereffects of more powerful drugs than Styrker had ever dreamed up.

He waited for his vision to clear, his stomach to settle. The slightest motion and he had to lean over the side of the bed and hurl. His insides were weak, empty, agonizing.

"Don't hold back, why don't y'?" Remy spat out, not bothering to look for the imposing figure that was doubtless nearby.

"Do you think this is torture?" Essex asked as mild-mannered as ever with just a hint of amusement at the idea. "He shackled you to a lesser state. I have merely freed you to be what you are again."

Yes. All that potential. Remy swore.

Essex came closer. "Why is it you insist upon thinking of yourself as this name?" he asked, tongue curling with distaste.

Remy fell back onto the bed, still shaking from whatever it was Essex had done to him. "Mirror."

Essex looked thoughtful, then acceded to the request with a nod. His hand hovered over a surgical tray, then finding what he wanted, lifted a small mirror and handed it to Remy.

His eyes were back.

The irises glowed red, heady and brilliant, flaring when he willed them to. Instead of whites, he had blacks. What was it like to be anything but a devil? He handed the mirror back to Essex.

"You have not answered my question."

Remy leaned back his head, closed his eyes so the room would stop spinning. "'S my name," he said. He could have kicked himself. The accent was thick Cajun—like his parents'.

Essex frowned deeply. "You do not have a name."

Non. O' course not. Dat'd be asking too much of a world dat jus' don't give a— He cut off the thought before Essex did it more forcibly. Remy hated handing over control of his mind to the scientist, but it was the price for undoing Stryker's experimentation.

He settled for giving Essex a mild-mannered look of his own. "Comes in handy out there." He waved vaguely in the direction of the outdoors.

"You could select any alias to work under. Why this one?" And for once, there was genuine curiosity in the tone.

Remy held his gaze for a long moment. "Why this urge to get all fatherly all of a sudden?" His tone was cold.

Essex chuckled coldly in return. "I am no father, I assure you."

Remy snorted. As if he was worried about that. But he answered the question. "She named me that."

"She had no right to name you," Essex pointed out. He set about gathering up the things he had used in his operation. Remy deliberately avoided identifying them.

"That so?" he asked, lightly.

Essex did not look up from his task. "You were not hers."

He snapped back hard at that. "And those nine months inside her were just my imagination then?"

Essex did look up then. His brown eyes were hard. The faint tendrils of telepathy caressing Remy's shields became starkly sinister. "She agreed to produce a child with your potential. From the beginning," he said patiently, "you were mine."

Remy evaluated the man before him. Now was not the time to press. He was being let off lightly for angering him. But a smile curled his lips and he answered in the thick Cajun patois of his mother and his father. "Oui, Monsieur Essex."

No one ever said Remy played it safe.

Essex frowned thinly, but he turned away and completed putting everything away. Always everything in its place. "Debrief," he said curtly.

Remy leaned back, finally allowing his stomach the real opportunity to settle. "Found dem," he said softly.

The words were enough to excuse the accent. Essex looked pleased, grinning sharply. "Indeed? And were my former colleagues on hand to witness your discovery?"

Former. Slated for destruction for their willful theft of intellectual property Essex had never planned on sharing. Remy shrugged, not willing to admit the entire truth, that they had built upon his research in grotesque ways, utilizing his suspension chambers—practically identical to the ones lined up on the far end of the lab, his notes on mutations and how to manipulate them, even his serious advances in cloning. Nor was he willing to admit just how bad the job went down. Letting Wolverine loose only solved one of Remy's problems, that of dispatching those required. He'd done most of his personal work earlier.

"Most o' dem are dead," he stated bluntly, closing his eyes on the mercurial gleam likely to enter Essex's eye. "Deir...subjects went ahead an' finished de job."

"I see."

Remy cracked an eyelid. "Only a handful o' dose survived. Mostly de ferals. Everyone else dead in de aftermat'."

Essex did not probe further. He had already received the thick bundle of journals, papers, and samples Remy retrieved on his capture and subsequent escape. The follow-up job with Wolverine had been mere cleanup. Get Team X out of the picture, preferably dead, destroy all of the offshoots of Essex's stolen work, never mind that those were people—or mutants if you'd rather, and eliminate those responsible for the theft. That left only Stryker. For all he knew, the homme was still walking.

"What about McTaggert?" Essex asked abruptly.

Remy snorted in derision. "Ain't dat de femme y' said refused t' continue researchin' wit' y'?"

Essex looked sharply irritated.

Remy glanced away. He let the accent lapse into an understated Southern. "I didn't think ya needed me lookin' for her."

"Indeed." The voice was cold. "She was also my former colleague and well-acquainted with my research. She has the Proteus chamber and has been publishing in academic journals about telepathic transference when she has never successfully transferred a mind from one body to another." No, that was Essex's accomplishment.

Remy grimaced, then cursed. He had missed that one. He sat up, swung his legs over the side of the medical bed, putting him on eye-level with the doctor.

"So what? You want me to infiltrate the X-Men?" he asked. "That's where she's holing up for now while that redhead goes to school."

"Jean Grey?" Essex scratched his chin thoughtfully. "Yes, I believe she wanted to be a doctor. That's right." The words weren't really meant for Remy, so he didn't bother to respond. "Very well. You may go to the X-Men. Choose whatever cover you like and find out more about McTaggert's research. If it mirrors anything in these journals..."

"Oui," Remy replied sharply, cutting the man over and earning a hard stare. "Destroy it."

Essex nodded, seemingly satisfied. "But this time..."

Something cold snaked through Remy's belly, whether fear or anger it was hard to tell.

"All of it."

Remy curled his lip. So Essex had poked around in his mind for the job details as well, n'est ce pas? He flipped him off.

Essex sighed wearily. "You need me in your head. I would rather not hear any complaints about my correct evaluation during your surgery."

"Evaluate my brain," Remy replied, "not my mind."

Callous amusement crossed the other man's face. "You have no say in anything I do concerning you."

Remy got to his feet, ignoring the way the room swirled about him unsteadily and retrieved his coat from where he had dropped it on his way into the monstrous lab. He slipped it on, checked his pockets, ignored the blinding headache threatening behind his eyes. One last glance back at Essex. Remy opened the door. It only swung outward for a few.

"For now, homme."

The door swung shut.

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Seven profiles lay scattered across the standard blue and pink print of a motel room bedspread. Matching curtains hung over the windows. It was that half-light between day and twilight when the clouds burned brightly gold if the sole occupant of the room bothered to look out and see it.

He did not.

Instead he studied the dossiers lying on the bed one by one, running a gloved finger across some high point or another. Jean Grey. Henry McCoy. Charles Xavier. Scott Summers. Moira McTaggert. Ororo Munroe. Erik Lensherr. Four high-school-age teenagers and three steady adults. Henry, known as Hank, and Jean would both be attending college, one from the Institute and one away, leaving six people living at the mansion permanently. After seeing Summers in the whole island incident, however, there would be no telling how many temporary strays had taken up residence.

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    FANDOM: X-Men: The Movie

    STORY SUMMARY: Lives, fates, and time itself lie broken in the hands of the Witness.

    DISCLAIMER: All characters and organizations (with the exception of small, mostly unnamed minor characters) throughout the series are the product of Marvel.

    CANONICAL NOTES: This story arc utilizes a strange combination of movieverse and comicverse and none of the above. Sorry about that.

    LANGUAGE AND ACCENTS: Cajun French is courtesy of Heavenmetal (many thanks). I will attempt to reproduce accents in this story arc.

    AUTHOR'S NOTE: This fic is the granddaddy of my entire fanfiction universe (with a couple of exceptions). Expect to see characters, relationships, names, and premises you recognize. Realize: it all leads somewhere you won't.

    (UNBOUND) entries are in drafting phase and are likely to change radically before complete.



    0. Entertaining Angels
    1. Queen Of Thieves
    1.0 The Storytellers
    1.1 Queen
    2.1 Night
    3.0 Prelude To Legacy
    3.1 Legacy
    3.2 Legacy
    4.0 Prelude To Remember
    6.1 Fierce
    7.1 Court
    9.1 Shattered
    9.9 Coda

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