Chapter Sixteen: Double-Sens

"Double Entendre"

- Ya certainly know how ta get under a girl's skin. -
- I'm trying. -

Rogue and Gambit, X-Men #8
She was as beautiful as she had ever been. The firelight danced across her mahogany hair and lit the white streaks framing her face with an intense glow. She was combing them through with her fingers. Her dark cloak was pooled on the floor at her feet, revealing close-fitting pants and shirt. Never one to reveal much, he noted. Not even now that the emerald eyes turned toward him had lost whatever modesty or innocence they'd ever had. Not now that she was beautiful as ever, ageless and unchanging. But no longer girlish.

"Fatale." Witness closed the door behind him.

"Took you long enough," she said archly, tossing her hair back with one hand and stepping out of her pants.

When he watched shamelessly, she did not blush. He considered whether he missed that.

"You've changed," he said.

"Years ago, sugar." She dropped her shirt onto the floor, then turned to him again and flicked an eyebrow upward. "I think I preferred the trench coat."

Witness laughed openly at that, finally coming forward to slide out of his own robe. "Things do tend to burn up around me."

She returned the laugh, low in her throat, and caught him in her arms. "Yes," she said, breathy but not breathless. Then she kissed him.

"What are you up to, chère?" he murmured against her skin.

She made some indecipherable sound in her throat and shoved him back toward the bed. "A card shark once told me, 'Never lay down your cards before the last call.'" She ran one fingernail down his bare chest and smiled at him. There was nothing shy or sweet about the smile.

"Never sure whose side you're on." His hands caught her wrists.

The smile curved wickedly. "Not supposed to, sugar." Then she silenced him with another kiss.

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She seemed nervous.

Remy tried to give her space, trailing a good distance into the bedroom. She'd perked up after the phone call and fiddled restlessly with the corner of his nightstand before wiping her palms against her jeans and pacing.

He leaned back against the door. "You sure about this?"

Chere aimed a quick glare in his direction, then leaned against the dresser and crossed her arms. "So what happens next anyway? Tomorrow, when the hunters are loose and I'm supposed to be getting information, stopping the others."

"Thought we'd gone over that," he said dryly, with a flash of irritation. Remy made a quick inventory with his eyes and crossed over to the closet, stripping his shirt off in the process. "I track down Wolverine. You work with Sunfire and find out who wants what."

"They all want you." Her voice softened. "That's not what I mean. I mean, why are we here?"

Remy shrugged. "I need a place to hole up while I keep my end of the bargain, d'accord?" He glanced at her.

She looked away.

He ran his gaze over the tense shoulders, whitened knuckles gripping her forearms, the stiff posture. "What's bothering you, Chere?"

Chere shook her head.

He sighed but didn't press. Instead, he fished out a long sleeve white shirt and pulled it on over his head, then traded his jeans for pajama bottoms. He left on the gloves. "You want anything?"

That drew her attention. She stared at him, caught the gesture at his clothes. "I still got some of the things you got me." Then, she straightened from the dresser and haphazardly stripped off her outer clothes.

He stared at her.

She was beautiful. It was a girlish beauty, unwitting and innocent, and all the more seductive because of it. He watched the silken hair waterfall over pale, smooth shoulders and wanted to bury his hands in it. She casually slid into a white shirt and buttoned it slowly over the green bra. He swallowed and finally turned away.

"You drive a man crazy," he muttered.

She laughed lightly, but when he looked back, her cheeks were stained pink. "You're not exactly modest yourself."

"Oui, but I'm also not showing off goods I ain't willing to share."

The pink darkened several shades. "Sell yourself cheap, huh?"

This last was cutting, and Remy studied her carefully, frowned. "Not buying or selling, chérie," he said softly.

She blew out her breath in a huff, dropped both hands to her hips, and stared back.

He eyed down the length of her legs. "Wouldn't mind a free sample though." He cocked his head at her, grinned, knowing by her answering grin he'd hit the mark.

Chere turned toward the bed, then tossed over her shoulder, "Ain't no such thing as a free lunch, sugar." She slid under the covers. "Going to cost you."

"Really?" He leaned over to pull back the covers, but she gripped them tightly.

"I'll have you know,"—she leaned forward to whisper—"I have the latest in security."

He grinned. "Know just the Thief for the job."

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Some days she wanted to kill him.

As she sorted through the divergent timelines, felt the twisting heat of potential, something niggled at her from their wager. And then she knew.

It was bad timing for her to place the hunched silhouette in the corner of the far window of his library, match name and face and body and build--Jubilee, and she bit down hard on his shoulder. Witness hissed slightly but did not stop and minutes later, she came. Hard.

Breathless, she rolled away from him and glared darkly.

"Quoi?" He hadn't missed that moment, and she hadn't expected him to.

"Cheat," she snapped.

He chuckled and settled onto his back, one hand still stroking her arm. "And precisely what rule did I break, ma chérie?"

"She was dead." She sat up on one arm and demanded harshly, "How the hell did you bring her back?"

Red and black eyes smoldered and for a split second, she fell into the trap, drowning in his will molding hers, but he could never catch her long. Her own eyes narrowed, changed, and the heat took over, burning up fiercely under her skin, melting into...


His voice and touch were soft, but she stopped and reverted into whatever baseline settled for "her." Personality had long since lost real meaning for her. Her gifts had changed and ravaged her. The more she mutated, the less she was. She'd lost the ability to care.

"How?" she repeated, head tilted to one side, lips pursed, giving him the opportunity.

Witness only chuckled. They had both changed. She had no power over him any longer.

"Someone once told me never to lay down the cards 'til the last call."

They stared into each other's eyes for a long moment before she finally graced him with a wicked smile.

"Then let the games begin."

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Chere had no idea how far she'd intended on going with him, but she didn't protest when his hand slid under her shirt or when he pulled it off altogether.

He pressed a light kiss to her shoulder—"you're belle"—before lavishing her body with his touch. The sensation of his gloves on her skin was no less scintillating for being covered and all too soon she was gasping and digging her fingers into his shirt, struggling to hang on.

He chuckled against her breast, then reached around and unhooked the bra.

Not sure this is a good idea. She didn't know which personality had decided to speak up inside her head, but she wasn't entirely certain she disagreed. Too close. Fear trembled briefly under her skin, but she just couldn't remember wh--

She nearly jumped out of her skin. "Remy!"

She moaned.

"Quoi?" Husky whisper all too close to her bare cheek, and his hand still between her legs, caressing her through the panties, drawing them off, making her pant.

"Do you want it?" he asked.

He drew his hand back and she glared at him.

Some days, she really wanted to kill him.

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