She knew about Bella Donna.

She knew that when his burning red eyes darkened with memory and when winter’s chill began to fall away from the mansion’s grounds and Mardi Gras approached, when nights were empty of his flirting charm and fluid grace, when the stars glimmered down at nothingness in the wind she rode, she knew that he had left her for the familiar forgetful comforts of drunkenness, thievery, or women.

She knew this but she never took her hand to stay him or denied him the need to go elsewhere in those dark times.

She did not because she knew him. None of those women mattered.

Only she.

“Why do you let him do this to you?”

Jean was stirring her tea in the glow of the lamp on the library table—not with her hands. She was practicing and had her eyes fixed on the small coffee stirrer, her long, slender fingers tightening against the edges of her textbook, as if forcing herself not to use them.

Ororo looked up from her own textbook across the table but fell back to with disinterest.

Jean sighed. “’Ro.”

“Don’t.” The word was a command, uttered from the lips of one who had known command.

“Don’t be like this,” Jean said. The stirrer whirled frantically and stopped.

Both women stared at it.

Ororo looked pointedly at her friend. “If you cannot control your own circumstances, I suggest you refrain from mine.”

Jean sighed again and eyed Ororo reproachfully. “How can you say that? You know—”

“I know that I am not Gambit’s keeper,” the storm goddess replied. She studied her book.

They fell into silence.

The young girl stared up at the sky over the savanna. Her people pled with her daily for the rain.

She was only a child.

Brown fingers stretched upward to the sky. She closed her eyes, plucking gently at the tides of the wind. Every breeze felt to her a caress of an approving goddess.

But she was the goddess and her people needed rain.

Bright goddess...” she whispered softly.

The wind lifted, rising into strength, a tide becoming a wave.

Her people, their hungry faces...

She was the goddess.

Her eyes brightened with unshed tears as she saw in her mind’s eye the people. Her people. The wind blew back her white hair and her eyes were white. A tear fell and, with it, rain.

He returned at dawn.

She had expected no less.

His eyes were still dark, the black behind the red only blacker, the red so intense like remembered bloodshed.

She never asked.

He never told.

She wrapped her arms around him on the roof and pressed her cheek against his broad shoulder, inhaling the rich scent of Cajun spice and cigarette smoke.

He did not speak, so neither did she.

Jean may have disapproved of everything Remy and Ororo stood for, but she was the first true friend Ororo had ever had and when the redhead nearly literally flew around the corner into her room, nearly knocking down the attic door, startling Ororo from a cold sleep, it could only mean something serious.

“’Ro, he’s gone!”

“Y’re jus’ a p’tite,” Remy said, laughing at her boast.

They were young then, barely teenagers and new to the world of New York City with all its seething masses.

Ororo glared at him, eyes turning white and lightning sparking from her fingers, but Remy just gave her that lazy cat grin that made her want to actually strike him.

“All right, Stormy.”

“Do not call me that,” she snapped out in the regal tones of a goddess.

He continued as if she had never spoken. “Show dis T’ief y’ c’n pick ten pockets wit’out a soul t’ notice, and I’ll consider workin’ wit’ y’.”

The girl glared at him again, but the lightning died within her fist. Subtlety was something she could handle—even if it wasn’t the way of a goddess.


Ororo never had to lift her voice to be heard, but she lifted it that day as she ran after the Thief that was so much of her entire world. He was her shady, mottled past, her present friend, her lover, her future. He made her human.

She ran down the grand staircase of the mansion, shouting his name, not even stopping when she saw he had stopped in the entryway, one hand on the wall, half-turned toward her, his duffel over one shoulder.

A few feet away, she drew up short, uncertain at the fierceness of the fire in his devil eyes.

“Why are you leaving me?” she demanded. The cry, the command, the plea of that childlike goddess he had met so long ago. Only he could make her so. So very human. So real. “Remy, why?”

Remy looked at her. She could not read his eyes, the hesitance in his stance. He slid the bag from his shoulder and set it on the floor. Her eyes followed it down, then met his again and drowned.

“Remy...” she whispered and he came to her.

He wrapped her tightly in his arms and held her for a long moment, his face in her hair, his hand running over the back of her neck as she struggled to breathe, knowing him enough to know he hadn’t changed his mind.

“Don’t belong here, Stormy,” he said, a tad impatiently.

“No. You do.” She lifted her head imperiously from beneath his chin, looked up at him, gripping him hard with those brown hands crying to the sky and to the goddess. “You belong here.”

He shook his head at her, messy hair falling into his eyes. She wanted to reach up, brush them away. She wanted to see him, to make him see.


But he kissed her, silencing her words.

Eagerly, she met his kiss, tasting him, showing him how she felt without so many words that never meant anything between them anyway. They held tighter and kissed so fiercely, and she hated to pull away.

She tried to catch him, tried even then to hold on. “Let me come with you then. Don’t stay here, but take me with you.” Only he could make her plead.

His hands were both on her neck now, caressing, holding her head close to his, leaning his forehead against hers, murmuring in that low Cajun cadence that drowned her in its lull.

“Ah, Padnat,”—only he could call her thus—“y’re a goddess. Y’ deserve more than dis T’ief.”

“No,” she denied it as only a goddess could. “You’re more than you think, Remy. I don’t.”

But then he smiled that lazy cat grin and she tried to hold onto him, but he was the Thief he was and slipped through her fingers like the silk of the black night.

“Dis T’ief wouldn’t even marry de Queen.”

She knew about Bella Donna. She knew. And her eyes began to brighten with unshed tears. “Remy...” she whispered.

He hefted the bag with those talented, skilled fingers of the Thief and met her with his burning dark red eyes. “Sometime dere be a woman dat don’t accept dis T’ief, n’est ce pas?”

Please, she wanted to plead, to cry, to pray. But she wouldn’t. She couldn’t.

He gave an easy one-shouldered shrug, and it was all too easy to pretend she couldn’t quite catch the nearly silent words he left with her.

“Maybe den she’ll keep me.”

She never took her hand to stay him.

Did she?

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