I can silence these voices inside of your head.

Half-awake, half-asleep, drugged with the murmur and lull of fifty-two playing cards sliding in and out of deft gloved hands, she could hardly be certain. Groggy as she opened her eyes, only to catch black and red, drowning her, capturing--

She squeezed her eyelids shut until they hurt, lifted her head, tried to lift her hands to rub the sleep from her eyes, but found raw aching at her wrists and heard the cold clank on concrete floor.



Slip, slap. Cards sliding, whispering to her haunting, tempting. She caught a shaky breath. Mystique. Remember Mystique, her fiery temper, her yellow eyes. Don't give in to this slip, slap, sliding rhythm that whispered to her where he would not.

You know I can help you.

The voice was real.

A chill ran down her spine. It was real. He was talking to her inside of her own mind, offering tantalizing freedom from the hushed specters lying there.

Ah don't want it, she thought belligerently.

Slap... The rhythm slowed, one card sliding, drawing out in motion. He couldn't hear, could he? She shoved herself desperately away from the devil, panicked when the chains held her fast beside him. There was one road she would not walk, one place she could not go. Don't lose the battle. Don't lose the war.

Don't think.

A sinister chuckle echoed about the corners of her mind. She was somewhere inside—hemmed in, no doubt.

She opened her eyes. She was weak no longer, only tired. The beast's healing power had done its job. She turned her attention from the circling predator in her mind to shuffling predator crouched beside her. Slip, slap. Cards sliding, the raw power of his stare never faltering to watch them.

The devil was close enough to touch. His jaw was still rough with that shadow he always wore. His scent swirled around her, sharp, spicy, and familiar as the lines on her own hand. She refused to look into those eyes, but rather studied the steady, hypnotizing motion of his hands. Slip, slap. Fan out their faces, cut the deck, and shuffle again.

At least...

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The ange woke in a haze, body enveloped in a warm comfort that dulled her senses and yet, so familiar, so...

Her hand gripped the sheets as she shot upright. She didn't look up, shivered violently, realizing in horror her torn bodysuit had been exchanged for one of her own silky nightgowns she had worn once upon a time in this room.

Anywhere, anywhere but here.

But she was here.


This silence was deceptive, ingratiating, swirling with the scent of cigarettes and spices. Her skin prickled with awareness of his gaze. It had been so long. Or had it?

Her thoughts stuttered to a halt.

"What am Ah doin' heah?" the angel asked abruptly, suddenly bringing up her fierce emerald gaze to meet the devil's.

He was watching her, leaning against the inside of his own doorway, blowing out smoke from another cigarette. This was what it took then to bring out the Rogue, neh? The diable's dark gaze blazed over her. She clutched at the sheet to cover herself. It wasn't enough.

Never quite enough.

He pushed off the frame, closing the door with a short gesture, and glided toward her. She could not help but watch. Nothing had changed. He was all liquid and shadow, darkness and terror, and yet everything she ever wanted. But he was not hers. Never had been. Everything had changed, but never quite enough.

He deliberately leaned over her--too close she could almost taste him, all spices and fire—to stub out his cigarette in the ash tray on the nightstand, deliberately held her stare steadily with his while he did it.

She hardened her eyes. "What am Ah doing here?" she repeated, enunciating the words into knife points.

His black and red gaze burned into her eyes, drowning her in heat and hurt and hardness and promise, and she knew then that this was punishment for her arrival, for failing to do the one thing she had always done. She always knew if he would be there. This time, she hadn't.

She doesn't get a good look at her attacker until he has her briefly and ineffectually pinned against the floor and she gasps, "Remy."

Surprise in those fiery eyes meeting hers. Nothing that matters. Their sides are not them.

But then he's inside her, drawing her out with that insidious charm, sliding it under her skin—"Rogue"—and the chimera, confused, withdraws, Essex closing in...

She has no choice.

""M jus' y' devil," he whispered the words against her mouth, and she inhaled them, breathing him into her veins, like poison. He was in her blood. "Diable, neh?"

She chose her weapons well.

His hand trailed delicately down her side, tracing fire. She denied it, shook her head, pushing back emotions long grown cold—weren't they? Mind and heart stuttered together. But he was just so close...

His grip tightened possessively. "Y're mine, chère," he whispered.

She shook her head again.

"Oui." He lowered his mouth to hers and she could not stop from kissing him.

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She has effectively moved into his room, never mind he's her team leader and reports directly to Essex, unlike the rest of them. Whatever began as a working relationship, proximity out of necessity, has become something far more personal. Never mind his charm and her insanity, his lies and her conflicted heart, this is one thing that grants them peace. In each other's arms, he is not Gambit, leader of the Marauders and Essex's right hand man; she is not the nameless powerhouse of that team, keeper of a thousand minds and mutations.

They are Remy and Rogue.

When he shoos her off of the papers on his desk, she assumes it's some new job from Essex and ignores them, choosing instead to strip out of her bodysuit and take a shower now that he's done.

Remy, naturally, has other ideas.

He has the bad habit of staring at her, and she glances at him sharply. "Somethin' on your mind, sugah?"

He slides up behind her and pulls her against him. "Jus' enjoyin' de view," he murmurs this into the curve of her neck, muffling the words but not the meaning.

She hums her approval, tilts her head to one side to grant him better access. But she's distracted. Her chimera mind is clicking away at the little bit she saw of those papers, each personality chiming in on what he or she believes it's about.

"Rogue," he growls.

He always knows. That charm.

"What?" But it isn't her that asks, some emotion bleeding up from one of her ferals, and he grips her tightly, angling them to match stares.

Red and black drowning her, reeling her in. "Rogue," he whispers and the chimera lulls beneath it. Her lids grow heavy with his nearness, his scent, and it's all her. Just her. He's the only one that can find her.

"What is it?" she asks softly.

He hesitates then, fleeting worry across his face. "De rien," he says smoothly.

She studies him intently before whispering, "Don't lie," painting his cheek with her breath.

A long silence follows. They may be friends, lovers even, but he is still Gambit, le diable blanc, a devil for true.

Finally, he sighs and pulls away to undress. "Y' know Sinister owns me."

"He owns us all," she answers carefully.

A sharp, bitter laugh at that.


"Ah don't ever want ta faght ya."

He turns. A deceptively genuine smile. He leans over, pins her beneath him. "All I want is y'."

She tastes the heat of his mouth, the sweetness of his sincerity...

The bitterness of the lie.

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He was the only one that could find her in the dark.

She did not want to be found.
"Everyone wants t' create de mos' powerful mutant in de world. Didn't y' ever wonder why?"

Slip, slap. Cards slide between deft fingers. Slip, slap. Fan out their faces, cut the deck, and shuffle again. Slip, slap. Pick a card, any card.

"Could've guessed 't ages ago, couldn' y'? An' y' didn't... What exactly y' so afraid of?"

Slip, slap. Those cards go sliding again. She holds her ears. "Stop it!" she hisses, but who is he to listen to her?

Fan out the cards, cut the deck, shuffle again. Slip, slap. Pick a card. Hold out their shiny backs. C'mon, chère, pick one.

Of course, she shouldn't listen to his snake charmer voice, gliding sinuously around her senses, teasing. Slip, slap. Shuffle the deck. Slip, slap. Cards sliding like his Cajun drawl crawling up her spine.

Pick a card, any card.

She shouldn't play this game. He's always gonna win. "Don't touch me, swamp snake."

"Ah, but where de fun in dat, p'tite?" Pick a card, any card. Slip, slap. Husky tones eating away inside her belly.

Shouldn't she know she'll never be able to resist?

"Took y' long enough, n'est pas? C'mere an' let dis one tell y' a story. Ain' like 'm goin' t' let y' forget."

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"An ain' dat just it, neh?" And there it is again, that seductive voice curling around her senses, sliding under her skin.

She doesn't want it. She doesn't want

"Y' can lie to y'self, t' de whole world, can' y'? Mais y' jus' can' make dat lie stick."

Cards slide deftly through his fingers, a towering house threatening to tumble at her breath. Higher and higher, more masterful formations, balanced on the knife edge only he could possibly maintain.

"Y' de part o' dis dat brings it all together. De belle. De ange."

Stop it, she wants to cry, but how can she? She sought him out in this cave and here she sits before the eternal Witness.

Slip, slap, shuffle the deck, fan out their faces. Pick a card, any card. Any card at all, she can never win this game.

It isn't him. It can't possibly be him.

"Chère, y' never want t' face de trut'."

The beauty. The angel.

The end.

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"'Poccy coulda come de closest, neh? But he always t'ought he was de one. De first one would be de last one."

A card lies waiting on the table between. Silence hisses as painfully, as frightening as the cards before it.

Somewhere in the silence whisper things without a voice, beating blood and rushing blood, the drumbeats of terror and of passion, of anger and of pain. Is it only imagination that thinks those cards are painted in blood, sin, and the drumbeats of their dying hearts?

"'Course, he was wrong."

"Ya aren't him," she whispers, perhaps in horror. "Ya're not Remy."

A card lies on the table. Its very silence spawns terror in the waiting breast. The Ace of Spades. All their stories begin with death.

Stop that silence, that hissing, knowing discomfort inside her. Stop it, she wants to scream. She wants to cover her ears against the growing, gnawing silence.

"Ya're not Remy. Ya can't be." An anguished plea.

His puzzled glance. A knowing smirk. Ah, chère...

"Did y' really t'ink y'd be allowed t' forget?"

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Queen of Hearts. Queen of Spades. Queen of Diamonds. Queen of Clubs. Pick a card, any card. Just can't avoid fate. Try so hard to deny, but the choice was always hers.

King of Spades. King of Clubs. King of Diamonds. Ace of Spades.

"De choice was always yours."

Pick a card, any card. Cut the deck, fan out their faces, shuffle again.

The most powerful mutant in the world. "Why?" she asks, the beginnings of desperation edging her voice. "Why me? Why a more powerful mutant?"

"Y' can ask de right questions, but do y' really want to know de answer?" Sly as the swamp that gave him birth, sly tongue tripping through her heart.

She reaches at last.

"Chère, de choice still be yours."

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Ace of Hearts. "Y' still keep tryin'."

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    House of Mirrors

    FANDOM: X-Men (comics)

    STORY SUMMARY: The many threads of the multiverse are ripe for the plucking. Pick a card, any card. Once. Twice. Pick another. It's a House of Mirrors. Enjoy your stay.

    DISCLAIMERS: Marvel owns it all. I'm just twisting it around a bit.

    CANONICAL NOTES: AU, sort of. More like, visits to some other threads.

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

    AUTHOR'S NOTE: I never intended to start this, but a certain Cajun had other ideas. If this is frighteningly out of my norm, blame him.

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



    1. Diable
    1.1 Devils And Angels
    1.2 Pain And Subterfuge
    3. Traiteur
    3.1 Althea Root
    4. Requital
    4.1 Mercy

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