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Volume 3 -- Supreme Reflections -- Remy

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Remy
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Remy’s Reflections (AN: Takes place shortly after issue 55)

At some point in every homme’s life, they become a thief. Ain’t no way around it. Ain’t nothing to be ashamed of either. Some folks become bigger thieves than others. Most go through their lives doin’ only the petty stuff. They steal things like time, attention, energy, and what not. It ain’t like they want to. It’s part of life. Go down to the level of pond scum and you got every little creature tryin’ to steal their own brand of loot so they can survive. Even if we don’t steal from each other, we steal from the environment or the authorizes we put in charge to protect us. That don’t mean it’s a one way street. These things all steal from us too.

That don’t mean that nobody’s got any good in their hearts. That don’t even mean there ain’t room for charity. That only means that what we end up stealing has certain meaning. That there meaning be what Remy’s struggled with all his life.

It was late in the day and classes had ended. Most of the team were already off doing their own thing. Some liked to throw in some extra training while others chose to relax. Remy Lebeau did neither. He was the only one still lounging around in the library going over his class work. Most students would call that kind of behavior grade grubbing, but Remy wasn’t most students. His circumstances had always been unique and for that reason he was the last person anyone would expect to spend extra time studying.

Not long ago Remy could never have imagined himself sitting at a table with no fewer than six textbooks in front of him. In fact, he probably would have been discouraged from reading because it distracted him from being a thief. That’s what he was supposedly meant to do. That’s what he had trained for all his life. A lot of that had changed and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. He needed to change. He had this problem that few other thieves ever dealt with. It was called thinking.

From thieving scoundrel to full fledged bookworm…boy has Remy played a strange hand. Who in their right mind would think a fella would go from the Thieves Guild to a philosophy major on a team of mutant superheroes? If that thought did be crossing anyone’s mind they probably be on some very powerful medications. The craziest part is this be making perfect sense to Remy.

All my life, I be thinking and questioning. There be a lot of jokes about folks who do philosophy. Hell, Remy’s heard half of them from Bobby and Kitty. It takes a certain mindset to even wanna look into this stuff. I wouldn’t say Remy was always in this frame of mind. Circumstances be playing a major role.

Remy turned his attention to one of his textbooks that had a chapter on dualism, which was one of the oldest branches of philosophy. It went all the way back to the days of Aristotle and Plato, marking the first early attempt to make sense of human nature. The key to dualism was the supposed conflict between mind and body. The body was physical. The mind was not. The big question it asked was how do these forces interact with one another?

“A mind be a terrible thing to waste,” said Remy as he read over the first few paragraphs of the chapter, “A body be a downright tragedy.”

That wasn’t from the textbook, but it probably should have been. A lot of this philosophy jargon often induced a fair level of eye-rolling. That’s why it was so hard to get others to go over it with him. Not that Remy blamed them, but this sort of thing really resonated with him because he had so much experience in these deep musings.

Talking to myself ain’t healthy. I think it may even be a sign of mental illness. But sometimes you gotta say things out loud to turn thoughts into actions, even if it be as simple as turning it into speech. Thought and action be the cornerstone of dualism and every branch of philosophy that stems from it. By the luck of the draw, that same conflict be the cornerstone of Remy’s messed up life.

Early on, Remy be pulled in both directions. My perè, Jean-Luc, always told me not to think. He didn’t like me asking questions or even making comments. He only wanted me to show him I could do all the thieving techniques I taught him. I did just that, but them questions kept bothering me. That’s where my merè came in. Marianne Lebeau was damn near the complete opposite of Jean-Luc. She did a hell of a lot more with just a few actions. A single hug from her told me a hell of a lot more than Jean-Luc ever could. She actually listened to my questions and encouraged me to ask more. Thing is, she didn’t usually have the answer. All she could do was teach Remy how to find out for myself.

When it came to having adopted parents, Remy’s sure knew how to confuse a kid. Jean-Luc always gave the impression that he adopted Remy because he was different. Remy’s mutation showed itself early by makin’ my eyes look all freaky. It scared off most parents, but not Jean-Luc. There be more function than heart when he makes a decision. For Marianne, it was different. I think she wanted a son that Jean-Luc didn’t brainwash with his thieving philosophies. I don’t think she ever bought into the guild. Her father was one of the highest ranking leaders. She be born into this world and it never really suited her. She sensed it didn’t suit Remy too…not entirely anyways. She always tried to balance out the lessons that Jean-Luc taught me with lessons of her own. I’m glad she did because it kept Remy from being brainwashed by the whole Thieves Guild mystique.

I still paid my dues, learning how to steal and mastering the art of the bow staff from Jean-Luc. I kept learning even as Marianne’s health started failing. The rest of Remy’s family didn’t know it, but she had been abusing pills for years. It was the only way she could cope with being in a world she couldn’t leave. To his credit, Jean-Luc did his best for her. The problem is Jean-Luc’s best ain’t what it should be. He was only willing to go so far, but that wasn’t nearly enough. Pretty soon Marianne’s organs started failing and that was it. She wasn’t gonna make it.

Remy could have broken down and cried like a baby. I sure as hell wanted to when I saw her lying in hospital beds, lookin’ like the life was just being sucked out of her. I be only ten at the time. How could I not? But Marianne wouldn’t let me feel that kind of pain. The lesson she taught me that day was probably the most important lesson Remy’s ever learned.

“Don’t shed any tears for me, Remy. I’m not leaving you behind. I’m just going to be with you in a different way. I’m ready to move on. I want this. But what I want even more is for you to remember…to remember just how special you are.”

Those were Marianne’s last words. I stayed by her bed and watched her slip away from the world of the living. I honored her final wishes and didn’t cry when she passed. The only one who cried, as messed up as it be, was Jean-Luc. It was the only time Remy ever saw him shed any tears. It showed the old man had some heart, but he still lacked spirit. Remy knows this because what he did was clearly different from what he thought. The man was like the rest of the Thieves Guild. He acted without thinking. Remy wasn’t gonna make that same mistake and boy did it cost me.

Remy flipped through a few more pages of his textbook. There were entire sections dedicated to the seemingly endless debates regarding the mind/body conflict in philosophy. There were mentions of Psychological Parallelism, Occasionalism, Empiphenomenalism, and the big branches of Physicalistic Monisms. Some theories asserted that the mind and body are entirely separate and should be treated as such. Others asserted that there was no distinction and one can’t be defined without the other. There was no right or wrong answer. That’s not how philosophy worked. What struck Remy was how this debate echoed the many conflicts of his life.

With Marianne gone, Remy was trust onto the front lines. By the time I was 13, I be pullin’ off some pretty big jobs. Remy stole from tourists, cargo ships, and even a few museums. Remy had to go the extra distance because a lot more was expected of me. I was the one with the mutant powers. I was the one who had the edge. That would have been all well and good if Remy’s powers had actually been workin’ at the time. I get the feeling it just be an excuse by the other Thieves to look down at Remy.

It ain’t a pleasant feeling…being an outcast among outcasts. But Remy’s kind of glad they did keep me at arms length. That kept Remy from getting too comfortable with the whole mentality of the Thieves Guild. It kept Remy thinking, questioning, and doubting just as Marianne taught me. That be where the big conflict emerged. As a thief, Remy did every deed the Thieves Guild asked and Remy didn’t just succeed…he did it with his own style. But what Remy did was different than what Remy thought. While I’m going through all these here motions, I keep wrestling with all these burning questions. Why was Remy here? Does Remy even belong in a world like this? Is Remy Lebeau just another thug? Or is Remy Lebeau destined for more?

I wrestled with these thoughts every hour of every day. All the while Remy kept doing the deeds everybody expected him to do. I stayed close to Jean-Luc and my adopted siblings. Together, we carried out our share of heists. We also got into our share of trouble, mostly with rival guilds. Remy always held his own, but there was never any stability. Jean-Luc talks about all these rules and duties of a thief. He and damn near every guild in New Orleans acted as though there were lines in this here business. Even if we never crossed those lines, the problems was the same.

Being thieves and deviants means at the end of the day there are no lines. That didn’t bother the rest of the guild, but it bothered Remy. If I was gonna stay true to Marianne’s lessons, I needed something to keep Remy grounded. I eventually found it in the most unexpected of places. This brought in a whole new bit of philosophy that helped Remy along the way.

Leaning back from the table, the Cajun mutant took out one of his many decks of cards from his pocket. With the skilled dexterity of a career thief, he casually shuffled the deck like a pro and pulled off a few fancy tricks for show. It was as effortless as breathing to him. He flipped the cards in and around his hands, swirling them around a bit in a playful manner. He then drew a random card from the top of the deck and placed it on his text book. The card turned out to be the ace of hearts, a lucky draw that seemed very appropriate.

It’s the ugly step-child to skill and talent. Any homme can work hard and be good at something, but unless they have a little thing called luck on their side they ain’t gonna succeed. Jean-Luc always taught Remy that a good thief makes his own luck. The old man had to eat them words on the night we clashed with the Assassins Guild on neutral turf.

The whole raid went down on a riverboat casino that was anchored just outside New Orleans. Like real casinos, these boats had to have cash on board to cover all the chips they be dishing out. The only obstacle was that since it was in the water, it was fair game for other guilds as well. Jean-Luc wanted the Thieves Guild to get in on the action and got a little cocky in the process.

Remy was fifteen at the time and just went along with it. We slipped in under the cover of darkness on inflatable rafts. A dozen thieves were with us and we made it on board without causin’ a racket. We then hit the casino floors, which was dark at the time. We had to take out a few sailors in the process, but it wasn’t anything aspirin and a glass of bourbon wouldn’t heal. We then made it through two layers of security and into a vault where they kept the cash. Soon as we broke in, we was in for a rude awakening. The Assassins had beat us to the punch and were already in the process of cleaning the whole place out. The moment they laid eyes on us, both plans went out the dang window and an all out fight broke out.

It got heated real fast. The Assassins often pack a lot more heat than the Thieves. This time they had a fresh batch of AK-47s straight from Russia. We only had some shotguns on hand so we had to retreat back into the casino. It got pretty rough. A couple of thieves got capped and we only took out one assassin. I stuck by Jean-Luc since he was a big target. The man still wasn’t thinkin’ straight. He considered it an insult to his honor if we just retreated. He wanted to hit back. Remy could have listed at least fifty reasons why that be a bad idea, but once again Remy didn’t speak up. Remy just went along and followed Jean-Luc back towards the vault.

This be the point where lady luck paid Remy a visit. First, four of the Assassins got the jump on us and managed to corner me and Jean-Luc. At one point we was staring down the barrel of four guns. As we was running away, Remy was gettin’ this strange burning feeling on all over his body. And I ain’t talking about the usual strange feelings teenage boys be having. It felt like I was on fire. Jean-Luc tried to pull me ahead, but Remy ended up tripping over a table and knocking over a bunch of playing cards at a Blackjack table. When them cards touched Remy’s hands, they started glowing. Jean-Luc barely paid attention and kept saying we had to keep moving. But Remy actually took a moment to think. Them extra thoughts would pay off big time.

Now Remy ain’t sure if it was instinct or the spirit of Marianne guiding me, but somehow I took control of this power. I took a whole deck of cards in hand and watched them glow. Then I threw them up in the air right over the heads of the incoming Assassins. They ran right into the trap and the cards exploded right over their heads, takin’ every one of them out in less than a second. It didn’t kill them, but it did turn the tide. When Jean-Luc saw it, I swear the man’s face lit up like the sun.

With this here power, Jean-Luc rushed Remy back towards the vault. He and the rest of the team got as many cards as we could carry and with them, Remy unleashed his own version of 52 Pick-Up. It left the Assassins powerless and the Thieves in control. We made off with the loot and Remy earned himself a new kind of respect.

Remy smiled to himself as he continued shuffling, dealing more cards out onto the table. Each one was random and uncontrolled, yet their value was set and defined. This simple nature resonated with Remy on so many levels. No one else understood his obsession with playing cards. To him, it wasn’t an obsession. It was a tool for both his actions and his thoughts. When he finally dealt the queen of hearts, he picked it up held with an extra sense of meaning.

“Queen of hearts…Remy’s first love,” he said distantly.

Being a mutant finally paid off at just the right time. It was a complete fluke. That’s often how luck works. This be shown in the nature of playing cards. In any game you ain’t got no control over the hand you’re dealt. You gotta make due with what you have and hope you can bluff your way to winning. It seems like chaos, but it’s more than that. Each card has it’s own value and role. Four suits be like the four elements of the world, tying everything together. The face cards from the king to the queen is like the hierarchy we all be living under in some form or another. Each number be like steps in the process of life. Each one has it’s place and each one can add up.

This became the stability Remy had been lacking. It was a damn good thing too because things with the Guild got pretty chaotic afterward. Suddenly, Remy Lebeau was hot stuff. Everybody be throwing their backs behind Remy even after treatin’ him like an outcast. It did wonders for Remy’s confidence. Suddenly it was like Remy was king of New Orleans. I could go anywhere and automatically command respect. It sure went a long ways with the femmes too. It was a teenage boy’s dream come true. I ain’t modest about it either. Remy got to bed some pretty nice femmes at an age when most boys be stuck with underwear magazines. It was all meant to set Remy up as the big cheese of the Guild.

It would have been easy for Remy to get lost in all this fun, but Marianne’s spirit didn’t leave me. Remy kept on thinking. All them luxuries was nice and all, but ain’t no amount of luxuries could answer them burning questions Remy kept struggling with. Again, Remy’s action didn’t always fall in line with his thoughts. I could be the coolest, slickest cat on Bourbon Street. But in my own head, I was a mess. I knew damn well that the only reason everyone started loving Remy all of the sudden was because of my powers. There ain’t nobody who loved Remy just for Remy. That be a pretty big hole to fill. It seemed damn near inevitable that luck would find a way to deal Remy a wildcard.

As it turns out, Remy wasn’t the only one with mutant powers in the New Orleans underworld. There was a girl around Remy’s age who had the power to form these hot plasma blasts. Her name was Belladonna and she was the most beautiful woman in the state of Louisiana. There was just one problem. She happened to be the daughter of Marius Boudreaux, the head of the Assassins Guild.

Remy gathered up his cards and closed his textbooks, suddenly feeling less inclined to study. His relaxed demeanor shifted to one of sorrow. In an appropriate twist of chance the last card he picked up was an ace of hearts. It didn’t seem fair. Every time matters of the heart crossed his mind, Belladonna came up. It was as inescapable as the random hand dealt in a game of cards.

With his head hung low, Remy slipped the deck back into his pocket and pulled out a card of a different kind. This one didn’t have symbols, numbers, or royalty printed on it. But it did have significant value…more so than a million full decks. On it was a beautiful woman with blonde hair, an athletic frame, a tough demeanor, and an alluring gaze that could bring any man to his knees.

“Bella…” said Remy softly, “Celle qui a volé mon coeur.”

In French, that translated to the one that stole his heart. It was how he now referred to Belladonna and it couldn’t have been more appropriate. This woman had stolen his heart. What made it even more difficult was that she didn’t stop there.

Ever since Remy’s merè died, Remy never knew anyone who reached Remy in that special sort of way. Belladonna finally stepped up to the challenge. We knew about each other for years just as all Thieves knew the Assassins. Far as we was concerned, we were enemies and that was that. But being a mutant, Belladonna had the same problem Remy had. Everybody be looking to take that power and use it for the good of the Guild. What she did meant more than what she felt and that bugged the hell out of her. It bugged her so much that she ran away a few times and that’s how she ended up crossin’ paths with Remy.

It all came together in another flash of luck. Remy had just turned 18 and was celebrating with some of the Thieves. They all got pretty drunk and it got too risky for me to keep beatin’ them at poker. So Remy slipped away to be alone with his thoughts. It was something I had to do often so I didn’t forget Marianne. I ran into Belladonna just outside the bar. She was just lingering around, knowing full well that this was Thieves Guild territory. But she didn’t care. She just needed to get away from it all like Remy. Something about that drew me to her and from there, it all went down.

We were just what we needed for each other. Remy gave Bella someone to relate to and Bella gave Remy who understood Remy and not just what he could do. I fell head over heels for this woman. We weren’t all that subtle about it either. Bella ain’t one for charm. She can be downright forceful at times, but in a sassy and sexy way that was exciting as it was hot.

At first, we had to keep it all a secret. Bella and I could only see each other sparingly, but that didn’t stop us from getting really close. A little over a year later, Remy thought he found the one. Remy had the girl of his dreams. But there was no gettin’ around that big elephant in the room. She was an assassin. Remy was a thief. How could we be together? One time I told her we should just quit and run away together. It would be so much easier on both of us. But she wouldn’t hear it. Belladonna may have been annoyed with her role in the Assassins, but she still embraced her role with them. She wasn’t about to leave them or her family. Bella being Bella, she was gonna find a way to get what she wanted.

The solution she came up with made Remy question whether Bella was thinkin’ straight to begin with. She flat out told her perè that she had been seein’ Remy for the past year. I’m sure Marius Boudreaux’s first inclination was to put a hit out on Remy so big every thug on the continent would come after Remy. But somehow Belladonna coaxed him into making this into something positive. She proposed a peace deal between the Thieves and the Assassins, the first of it’s kind in the history of the Guilds. In exchange for mutual benefits of the New Orleans underworld, Bella and Remy would be married and unite the two families. It all seemed so nice on paper. In practice, however, it be like playing with the houses money. It wasn’t gonna work and someone was gonna have to pay up.

Remy’s gaze narrowed on the picture. As strong as his feelings were for this woman, there was a touch of anger as well. He was willing to sacrifice so much for Belladonna. He was willing to walk away from the life the had caused them so much frustration, but she wasn’t. She just had to stay within the endless if not pointless conflict between the Assassins and Thieves. Either she was stubborn or she didn’t love Remy enough to pay that price. Even if she was, it was their own fateful decisions that did them in.

The idea of gettin’ married so young didn’t appeal to Remy in a lot of ways, but if it meant making life easier for me and Belladonna then Remy was ready to make that sacrifice. For a while, it looked like there was finally gonna be an end to this pointless rivalry. Too bad peace just wasn’t enough for some folk.

A couple of weeks before the wedding, Remy’s brother Etinne pulled him aside and revealed that most of the Thieves Guild didn’t want peace. They wanted to end the Assassins once and for all. He told Remy that some anonymous tip came in saying this weird relic was being shipped in from Tibet. But this ain’t no ordinary relic. It’s this ancient gem that supposedly has this super powerful voodoo that grants the user unstoppable power. The plan was to take this gem and when all the Assassins were in place at the wedding, they would unleash it’s power.

It was crazy. Remy felt like blowing Etinne up where he stood. I must have blown a lung out yelling at him, but he told me this be going down whether I like it or not. And if I didn’t want to get Belladonna caught in the crossfire, I would go along. The only reason they didn’t keep it form Remy was because I was the only one who could break in and steal this thing. He promised Remy that this was just gonna destroy the Assassins. It wasn’t gonna destroy Belladonna. They even said they had this here telepath, Mastermind or something, that could alter her memories so she wouldn’t blame Remy. Hell, they could make it so she believed she was a thief and we could be together without any complications ever. It was all such a sweet deal. But it stank like bad gumbo. That’s when Remy made a decision that was gonna haunt me till the end of time.

Remy agreed to it. Remy promised to help them steal the gem and keep his mouth shut. I had to put on a hell of an act, making it sound like I wanted Belladonna to have her mind messed up so she loved Remy for all the wrong reasons. I had to sound like a greedy, selfish bastard. What Remy did sure as hell didn’t match up with what he thought. That kind of mindset will screw any homme up no matter how strong he was. I had every intention of makin’ sure this didn’t go down the way everyone wanted.

The plan sure wasn’t simple. It be the kind of job you need big time stones to pull off. This gem was comin’ in on this military ship, complete with guns and soldiers armed to kill. The only one who had a prayer of gettin’ in was Remy and that’s exactly what I did. Remy rode up to the ship in the dead of night on nothin’ but an inflatable boat. The rest of the Thieves were on standby, causin’ a distraction by disgusin’ themselves as national guards to keep the ship anchored. They took the front while Remy entered from the rear. Remy had to be so careful I couldn’t even have a flashlight.

Gettin’ inside wasn’t too big a deal. Remy just climbed up halfway and opened a hole in a small hole in the back that I Remy could crawl through. Once Remy was inside, the real shit began. It must have taken me a good twenty minutes to get to the right level. Remy had to take out six armed guards and make sure they stayed knocked out long enough. By the time Remy reached the cargo hold, I was already behind. That gem was hidden in three layers of protection that took six decks of cards to get into. When I finally did get through, I was so far behind the alarm went off. It was gettin’ ugly fast, but it got worse even faster.

Once Remy had the gem, he had to escape. I had to find a whole new way out because guards be swarming the way Remy came in. But then something happened that Remy didn’t expect. Up top our cover was blown. The Thieves Guild weren’t the only ones that knew about the gem. The entire Assassins Guild knew about it too. They must have got the same anonymous tip and come up with the same plan to wipe out the Thieves. Remy knew it was heavy because the ship took some unexpected damage below deck. A bunch of holes were blown right into the hull and Remy figured out quickly that there was only one way they could do that.

It was Belladonna. She was part of the raid. She and every Assassin in New Orleans must have been there, armed to the teeth and killin’ everyone on that ship. It was a dang blood bath. Most of the Thieves Remy came with got caught in the crossfire. I had to get outta there. The gunfight did help in some ways because it gave Remy the distraction he needed to break out some extra firepower. I charged me some heavy gears and blew a hole right through the middle of the ship. When Remy climbed out, the first person he saw was Belladonna. I swear I’ll never forget the look in her eyes.

She was hurt…heartbroken…enraged. She thought Remy betrayed her. She didn’t even give Remy time to explain. All I could do was run. That’s when she said it…the last words Remy ever heard her say.

“I HATE YOU REMY LEBEAU! I HATE YOU!”

Remy had to put away the picture and get up from his seat. A wave of agonizing emotions came over him. He shed no tears, but his sorrow was thick. He closed his eyes and buried his face in his hands as those words echoed through his mind. The woman he loved hated him. She said it with such anger it still burned within his soul to this day. The worst part was that wasn’t the most terrible thing that happened that night.

In that same moment, a stray bullet hit Belladonna right in the back. Remy remembers seein’ the blood through the darkness. It was the worst sight Remy laid eyes on since the death of Marianne. In that one moment all the conflict between what Remy thought and what Remy said came to a head. For the first time, Remy forgot about the job and went to his cherè. I took her in my arms. It tried to save her. But it was too late. Remy had to watch her take her last breath.

While this was happening, the Thieves and the Assassins were still going at it. They didn’t give a damn that the woman Remy loved be dead. They didn’t even give a damn that this whole fight be pointless. Remy was sick of it. I couldn’t take fighting for something I didn’t even believe in. So in one single act, Remy betrayed both the Assassins and the Thieves. I took the gem that had cost all these lives and threw it into the sea. For good measure, Remy jumped overboard and let the sea take him too. I didn’t even care if I survived because from that day forward, Remy was dead to the Assassins and the Thieves.

The problem was Remy did survive. I ain’t even sure how, but Remy washed up on a dock later that night. All the fightin’ stopped. The gem be gone and the wedding was off. The very next day Remy found out he be officially cast out by the Thieves Guild. That was like death. Being cast out meant Remy was a traitor to the Guild and the only honorable thing to do was offer his blood as payment. That sure as hell wasn’t gonna happen. Remy ain’t gonna shed blood for a family that don’t care enough to let Remy be Remy. I was gonna fight to live on my own, but Remy didn’t see much worth living for.

After a mess like this, the smart thing Remy should have done was leave New Orleans and never look back. Part of Remy wanted to, but more parts didn’t give a damn about living on. Far as Remy was concerned, his life was over. The only thing left to do was hang around and wait for the Assassins and Thieves to kill Remy. The best way to defy them was to make it tough for them. It seemed like the only future Remy had left. That’s when Remy was dealt another hand. Remy may have given up on Remy, but Lady Luck sure wasn’t ready to let Remy cash in his chips.

After gathering himself, Remy solemnly made his way over to the window at the far end of the library. No longer focused on his school work, he took a moment to collect his thoughts and admire the setting sun outside. Coincidentally, he saw a familiar presence down below watching the sunset as well. It was Ororo Munroe, a woman who was less a wildcard and more a queen of hearts.

She seemed to be having a much easier night than him. She was out by the pool, sharing a moment with her new boyfriend, Logan. He had a beer in one hand like always and she had what looked like a glass of wine in hers. She was smiling and laughing, enjoying the presence of her lover. Logan was smiling as well, a very rare act for him and one that the rest of the mansion still wasn’t used to seeing. Almost as unbelievable was the mere idea that Ororo would fall for a man like Logan. It wasn’t so much that they were incompatible. Remy had seen the signs with her leading up to the events in District X that brought them together. What really struck him was how he seeing her and Logan reminded him of those dark times when Ororo had been a much bigger part of his life.

Boy you don’t know how lucky you are, Wolverine. You be gettin’ a hand even better than the one Remy got. You got Ororo’s heart and much to Remy’s surprise, you ain’t making light of it. Wish Remy could say the same.

The year after Remy broke off from the Thieves Guild were the worst. Remy probably would have ended up dead pretty quickly if I hadn’t crossed paths with a pretty college girl who just arrived from Africa. We actually met when Remy got into a scuffle in the French Quarter when Remy challenged some thugs to a game of poker. Remy won of course, but these hommes turned out to be friends of the Assassins and when they found out who Remy was they chased me into the alley behind one of the bars. Remy didn’t put up that much of a fight. Hell, I was ready for them to kill me at that point. But before they could really get rough, Stormy came flying in with her weather voodoo goin’ full steam. She scared those hommes off so fast they probably still running. At first Remy was pissed she butt right into Remy’s problems. Now I’m glad she did.

Stormy took pity on this here Cajun. She didn’t have many friends and when she found out that Remy was a mutant, she reached out to me. Even though I be younger than her and in a world of trouble, she wanted to connect with someone. Never one to reject a pretty femme, Remy gave her a chance and she made the most of it.

The next few years were rebound years for Remy. Stormy brought Remy into her world. She let him hang out with her on her college campus. She even developed them fine teaching skills of hers, giving Remy a crash course in all the education the Thieves Guild never gave me. It may not seem like much, but to Remy it meant a whole lot. It was the first step towards really getting away from the Guilds. Stormy was a former thief as well and she was able to break away from it all. She showed Remy that it was possible to build a life outside thieving. It gave Remy the desire to play his cards differently.

Now in the middle of all this there were some other cards dealt that we ended up playing. It ain’t something we bring up, but Remy and Stormy did share a few passionate nights. She had her share of heartache as well and since Remy was still hurtin’ over the loss of Belladonna, we comforted each other in any way we could. Sometimes that just involved bein’ naked and in bed together. But Remy never felt for Stormy what he felt for Belladonna. Remy didn’t feel ready for that kind of heartache again. A lot of that be changing since Remy joined the X-men.

As the Cajun casually leaned up against the wall near the window, he pulled out another card from the deck in his pocket. This time it was a queen of hearts. It was a card he rarely used in battle because he liked to keep it with him. In a ways it symbolized the pain in his heart he still felt after what happened with Belladonna. It also symbolized the strength he retained from that agonizing affair and how he resisted closing himself off from the rest of the world. It was an important step towards making a better life for himself.

Stormy left Remy in quite a pickle when she left to join the X-men. At one point she offered to take me along with her so I could meet Professor Xavier. It be tempting, but Remy couldn’t leave just yet. Stormy did so much to get Remy back on his feet again. Now that Remy had that strength, I couldn’t just up and leave New Orleans. Remy had to do something to make things right.

Looking back on it, Remy probably made one too many mistakes after Stormy left. I tried a few times to get in touch with the Guilds and set the record straight. They weren’t all that understanding to say the very least. Heck, the more Remy pushed the more pissed they got. They didn’t just take it out on Remy either. They took it out on each other to the point where Jean-Luc and Marius had to work out some kind of peace deal to keep them from slaughtering each other. Then Sinister and the Brotherhood entered the picture with them sentinel thefts. Remy had to make a move then even if it meant tellin’ a few white lies.

Old habits die hard, I guess. What Remy thought and what he did was still hard wired and that didn’t do me any favors when I reached out to Stormy for help. Remy had to call their bluff and lie about having some insight info on the thefts. Truth was, Remy didn’t know squat. Remy just got dealt another lucky hand because Stormy and the X-men still helped Remy. They rescued him from the Guilds, exposed the truth, and got them to call off their war before it began.

It was a big turning point for Remy. It was during all that bullshit that Remy’s mind and body finally got some overdue tweaking. I couldn’t be thinking like a thief no more or an outcast. Remy had to get in a whole new mindset and that’s what the X-men did. They gave Remy a chance to use his skills for something good instead of something greedy. Instead of fighting a war, I be fighting to stop it. I can’t say the whole human/mutant equality thing flies with Remy. For this here Cajun, the good fight be the one that stops the next fight from being worse. Remy’s already shown his worth against the likes of Juggernaut, Magneto, and Sinister. Each fight against them was more rewarding than a million successful missions with the Guild. That says to Remy that the X-men be the right place for him. This is where I become the homme I wanna be.

It didn’t come easy, that’s for sure. The philosophies of every homme be pretty damn stubborn no matter how good they work. Stormy and Professor X sure did their part in giving Remy the opportunity, but it was another special cherè that really turned Remy’s world around.

A wide grin formed on Remy’s face as he continued to gaze down at Ororo and Logan. It seemed somewhat fitting that a guy like him would be so deeply affected by a few very special women. It had always been the women in his life that led him down the right paths. First there was Marianne. Then there was Belladonna. Then there was Storm. It was only a matter of time before another queen of hearts entered his life and this time there were a whole host of new feelings that came along with it.

The Cajun mutant was so caught up in his daze he barely noticed a familiar presence enter the library. It was the very queen that had done so much for him and his new life with the X-men. Her real name was Marie Anna Darkholme, but the name she always went by and the name that so captivated him was best summed up in one word…Rogue.

“Well color me pink and splash glitter on mah face, the sun is setting and Remy Lebeau is still studying. Either the world is comin’ to an and or Ah had one too many helpings of Beast’s extra spicy Midwest chili,” chided Rogue as she approached the Cajun.

“Nice to see you too, cherè,” said Remy coyly, “And your eyes not be deceiving you. Remy’s still here studying.”

“Then it has to be the chili.”

“If it was you wouldn’t be showin’ Remy that sassy smile of yours. You’d also be going after Beast and not some handsome Cajun you can’t seem to stay away from.”

“That’s what Ah get for tellin’ jokes around an egotistical man-child who deals in philosophy,” said Rogue, rolling her eyes, “Come on, Remy, you know how Ah feel about you working that charm on meh. Are you ever gonna tone it down any more than this?”

“Can’t help it, cherè,” he shrugged, “It works too dang well!”

“Says you,” she teased.

It was still a taboo subject. Remy still flirted with Rogue incessantly even when she said it was pointless to do so because she couldn’t touch. She also made it clear that they couldn’t go beyond a certain point of closeness, even when there was a clear desire to do so. That still didn’t stop Remy from fueling those desires. He just couldn’t help himself around this woman.

“Now are you gonna join meh on a smoke break or not? Ah ain’t had one all day and Ah sure as hell need one after spending the last four hours makin’ up tests,” said Rogue.

“If it helps you that much cherè, how can Remy say no?” he shrugged.

Rogue gave him another one of those sassy smiles. Remy kept with the charm, smiling back as he put away his cards and followed her out of the library with a pack of cigarettes in hand. Even though she often expressed how much she disliked his flirting, she gave plenty of subtle hints that she liked it. Remy often sensed in Rogue someone who said one thing while thinking another. It was a mindset he was all too familiar with. It was part of what made her so easy to relate to, giving him all the more incentive to work his charm on her.

It still bugged him that Rogue resisted getting too close to him. Even if she couldn’t touch, he made it pretty clear that she meant more to him than a typical friend or teammate. That didn’t stop him from holding out for her. The touch issue was something that could change in the future. When it did, Remy was going to be ready.

Remy never likes to make it easy when it comes to the femmes he loves. Meaningless flings be easy enough. It’s them deeper feelings that Remy be a glutton for punishment. With Belladonna, there be the extra challenge of her being part of the Assassins Guild. With Stormy, there be the extra challenge of being an outcast among thieves while she was trying to get her life on track. Now with Rogue, the challenge ain’t got nothing to do with family or circumstances. It’s all physical.

When Remy first joined up, Rogue could touch. But she just broke up with Cyclops so she wasn’t in any mood for romance. Remy was still adjusting as well so Remy wasn’t in all that good a mood either. Then Sinister came along and now Rogue’s powers prevent her from touching. Because of this little side-effect, she keeps everybody at a distance outta fear of hurtin’ the people she cares about. Early on Remy tried to close that gap, but Rogue pushed away. She didn’t do it very nicely either. She hurt Remy and Remy didn’t much appreciate it. But Remy couldn’t stay away from this femme and she couldn’t stay away from Remy.

Maybe it be a good thing that she pushed away that first time. It forced the both of us to get to know each other on other levels besides the dirty stuff. It’s forced Remy to do more than just hug and make love to a femme (even if Remy’s really good at it). It makes what me and Rogue have deeper. It still ain’t as deep as Remy wish it was, but what we have is special. Ain’t no denying that. Whether or not it turns into something more depends on a lot of things going our way. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Before he and Rogue left the library, Remy closed his textbooks. But before he set everything aside, he took one last look at the chapter on dualism he had been reading. Even with an impatient Rogue waiting for him, he paused for a moment to consider the deeper meaning of this life had had endured.

In the end the big philosophical question be the same. Where does Remy go from here? What does Remy do with this life as an X-men? Where does Rogue be fitting into it? What does it all mean? In philosophy there be no clear answers. That’s because only questions have answers. Philosophy has musings. It’s like a game of cards in that it can’t ever be won. It can only be played. There always be another hand to deal. Remy’s had his share of bad hands and good hands. All Remy can do is keep on playing.

For what Remy’s won and what he’s lost, I still ain’t ready to cash in just yet. Now that Remy’s here with the X-men, I can safely say I’m all in. Bring on the next hand. Whatever cards be dealt, Remy Lebeau is gonna play ‘em. Ain’t no philosophy there. That’s just the old fashioned truth.


Next Issue: Kurt

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