Title: Stand The Hazard Of The Die
Author: Dandelion (Dandelion@aol.com)
Notes: This continues in the same universe as The Philosopher's Stone which takes place three years after the Revolution (current X-continuity). Remy and Jean are in love. The teams are all over the place. There's probably a lot more that could be written and WILL be, I'm sure. I don't know what to call this continuity-universe, suggestions are appreciated.
Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine. This is a non-profit venture. Feedback and comments are always welcome.
The Alchemy series, in chronological order, is as follows:
I don't know Remy LeBeau all that well. I never lost any sleep over it, either. I'm familiar with his work, I've had a couple of dealings with those New Orleans Guilds and we were on the same side a few times when various X-teams would dogpile on some world threat.
I thought it was an unusual turn of events that ended up with him leading one of the flagship X-teams.
I had to change my pants when I heard he was sleeping with Jean.
Still, I didn't really know him and outside of Nate calling me to bitch about him every now and again I wasn't too concerned with the guy.
So I was somewhat taken aback when he called me and asked me to meet him in New Orleans. I put it off to the point where it was almost rude. After all, what did Remy want with me? He better not have been calling me to get advice on how to be a step-daddy to Nate. Although the thought of having that conversation did inspire me to move my ass a little more.
Those Guild chapters, and there are a lot of them, tend to own quite a bit of land in the cities they operate in. The quaint little house that I was to meet Remy in was located in an equally quaint section of the French Quarter. Actually, the house was cleverly concealed in plain sight. At first glance it was just as pleasant to look at as any other place on the block, but the more I studied it the more I found my eyes being drawn away to a different house that had ornamentation just that much more interesting. I wondered how long it took them to cultivate such discreet misdirection.
New Orleans doesn't have the luxury of extensive underground passages to disguise comings and goings. What better to cover the activity than to make your meeting place so easily looked over?
Feeling a bit more at easy, at least in regards to the fact that if anyone saw me going to the door they'd quickly move on to look at something more interesting, I knocked on the door and waited.
The door was answered by a boy of about eight. He looked at me with serious brown eyes, as if silently conveying to me the importance of his door-answering duties.
"Is LeBeau available?"
He shook his head and the short dreadlocks he wore waved with it. "He said you should wait in the parlor."
The parlor? Oh, this was too too Southern gentleman for my taste. I followed, though, wondering how politically correct having a houseboy was in this day and age.
Jean was in the parlor. She smiled at me as I entered. "Domino, it's been a long time."
I nodded and sat down in the chair she gestured to taking the opportunity to study her. She was still beautiful in that envy-inspiring way, but there was an expression in her eyes that wasn't there three years before. I imagine it would never leave. No matter what kind of happiness you found elsewhere you just don't get over losing a loved one.
The boy that escorted me in clamored into Jean's lap and settled there comfortably. "I see you've met Jean-Michel," Jean squeezed him affectionately. "He's visiting his great-aunt Mattie and was nice enough to keep me company until you arrived." She ruffled his hair. "Jean-Michel, this is Domino, she's a very good friend of Nathan's."
The boy obviously knew Nate and studied me a bit more carefully than he had before. He offered a shy smile and nodded but pressed back against Jean, too shy to come any closer to me.
"Martine said she had some cobbler waiting for you," Jean continued. "You should have just enough time for it before the meeting is over and it's your bedtime."
Jean-Michel needed no further encouragement. The allure of a before bed snack had him on the floor and rocketing out of the room.
I stared after him for a moment then looked back at Jean. "It's a little domestic here, isn't it? This is a Guild house, right?"
"Westchester was never as homey as this, Jean," I said. And it wasn't. Kids never seemed to be part of the equation there. At least, not little kids. Strange, it was a mansion with expansive grounds, a lake, and lots of alien equipment to play with but there was never a feeling as though children were particularly wanted.
A sad look flickered across Jean's face. "Westchester wasn't really a place for children," she said, echoing my thoughts as only a telepath could. "Thirteen was as young as we ever got there." She frowned "That's not right. It's not the way things should have been. Here," she nodded her chin at the room, "the Guilds have been killing each other off for generations but that never stopped them from raising families. We seemed to think that there would be a right time for raising families."
"Well, the guilds do keep killing each other off," I said. "The X-men have a hard time staying dead. You don't replenish what isn't gone, that's just common sense."
Jean grinned at me but there was a sharp look in her eye. I realized how badly I'd put my foot in it. Scott, after all, had stayed dead.
"Where's Remy?" It was one of my weaker segue-ways. By all means, go from talking about your dead husband to your current lover. That's not at all uncomfortable.
"He's with the others. They're doing some ceremonial thing." Jean shrugged. "They should be wrapping up. They should be finished but Remy stumbles over the Latin sometimes and has to do entire stanzas all over again."
Ceremonial thing? Latin? "Why aren't you there? Haven't the Guilds accepted you yet?"
"I'm not related," she replied simply. "In order to take part in the traditional Guild ceremonies one must be kin either by blood or marriage. I am neither."
There was an unvoiced 'yet' hanging in the air and I carefully ignored it. Even after three years it was just weird to listen to Jean talk about children and families and marriage in reference to anyone but Scott. No wonder Nate was still had a hard time with it.
Jean looked comfortable in this house and in this world she currently resided in. It was all so different from the way things were. Maybe this was what was so difficult for people to deal with. Jean and Remy living together, being together, working together was just a constant reminder of how different things were.
Remy came in then, interrupting any further thoughts I may have had on the subject. "Domino," he greeted me warmly. "Glad you could make it." He smiled at Jean and winked at her in silent greeting.
"Well," I stood up, thankful that whatever I was called here for was going to happen. "I was curious about what you wanted with me."
He nodded. "Let's talk in the office." He held his hand out to Jean and they ushered me upstairs to an office suite. Obviously, Jean was going to be a part of this meeting as well.
Actually, she started it. "I'm sure you know what's going on with the teams these days."
The leather chair I sat in creaked slightly as I got comfortable. "Sure."
"Hank is devoting more and more time to research," she continued. "This isn't really a problem but he's recently told us that he's decided to completely remove himself from field work."
Remy nodded solemnly. "Moira doesn't have much time left."
"I know." Even if Nate hadn't strongly hinted at the possibility the last time we spoke this wasn't a surprise. Moira's failing health was an ever-present concern with Hank. Given his own research it was only a matter of time before he chose to concentrate solely on that.
"We've been keeping our eyes open for someone who might fit into the group." Jean went on.
They both looked at me expectantly. I blinked. "You want to recruit me?"
"Don't tell me you're surprised," Remy raised an eyebrow at me.
"Well, no, not really," I admitted. It had crossed my mind as a likely reason but I hadn't taken it very seriously. "I figured this was about Nate."
"Well," Jean smiled. "In a way it is. We think you'd work very well with Nathan and Ororo."
"Dat a problem?"
Was it? I thought for a moment. No, it wasn't really. Storm and Nate had had a brief attraction that resulted in nothing about a billion years ago. It had been more of an irritant than anything else. Working with her, though. I had to ponder that one for a moment. Storm was just the opposite end of the spectrum from me, which all of a sudden made perfect sense why they'd ask me. They wanted Ms. Hard-nose Mercenary Chick to offset Nature Goddess Ororo. Nate would balance us out. He had the mercenary side and then he had that Chosen One side. He did have a tendency to go messianic at times. He could be gritty and he could also be compassionate. Usually when no one was looking but he did have the capability to be nice. He'd kill me if I ever said it out loud.
"No, Storm isn't a problem," I assured them. "Did Nate suggest this?"
Remy hid a smile which immediately made me suspicious. "No, actually, you were recommended by the Guild."
DING DING DING! Instinct scores! "The Guild?" I felt my lips tighten involuntarily. "Beaudreaux." That bitch cost me half a mil on my last contract by beating me to the kill.
"That's right," Jean nodded. "And, by the way, did you have to break her jaw?"
More telepath tricks. Thankfully I was used to those after hanging around Nate. "Yes I did," I replied firmly. "She called me slow and I had to prove her wrong. Even if she is your ex." I pointed that last at Remy.
He remained non-plussed. "Part of the job. Anyway, you won't be working with Bel."
Good thing. If we got put in a room together we'd both be missing handfuls of hair within minutes. "If I say yes," they weren't roping me in just yet, "what's in it for me? I'm a merc not a crusader."
Remy stretched his arms over his head. "Guess you'll have to figure that one out for yourself. Stormy and Nate are up at his Chicago safe-house. I'm assuming you know where it is."
I admitted as such.
"If you're interested," Remy continued, "be there by the end of the week. If not, not hard feelings, we'll look somewhere else."
"I'll walk you out," Jean stood up.
I guessed the meeting was over.
Jean and I walked in silence until we reached the foyer. Her steps slowed and she turned to look at me. She looked at me for a long time. "We're not really crusaders, Domino," she told me. "We can't afford to be so narrow anymore."
That got my attention. "Does that mean you've finally learned how to play dirty?" That was always my beef with Xavier's Dream. Sometimes you had to go to certain lengths to get the job done. Sometimes you just couldn't afford to work by the same high standards you strove for.
"Play?" Jean shook her head. "Let's just say that we aren't fighting for a dream anymore. We're fighting for a reality. That's a different business."
What can I say? She sold me.
Nate's Chicago place was a gorgeous penthouse in a high-security high-rise that I'm quite certain he made even more secure once he got his mits on it.
When I rang the bell at his door I idly wondered how many guns were pointed at me. I figured the floral arrangement had one. Nasturtium was just made to hide guns in.
The door opened quickly. "Dom!" Of course Nate knew I was there. He had to buzz me in. He still showed a little surprise that I as there.
Damn, but he looked good. Ever since that T-O cocoon wrapped him up a few years back he's lost that haggard dragged-behind-the-Truck-of-Life look that he'd had for so long.
I was about to greet him when an irresistible smell wafted out the door. "Did you order Thai?" I bolted inside and started looking for take-out containers.
"Come on in."
"Please tell me you have enough to spare me some."
"Only if you don't mind missing out on the vegetarian stuff," Nate pointed over to the living area. "Ororo's almost finished with it."
Ororo was on the couch watching some gardening show. She nodded at me behind one of the containers which appeared to be attached to her face via several noodles.
"You have garlic pepper chicken, right?"
Nate looked offended. "Of course I do it's-"
I elbowed him out of the way.
"Remy didn't say he was trying to get you on the team," Nate said after I appeared to be vaguely interested in anything outside of the mound of garlic pepper chicken I was devouring.
"Maybe he doesn't like showing his hands."
Nate grumbled at that.
"Good God, Nate," I looked at him incredulously. "It's been three years. Can you please come to terms with this? He's your team leader."
"I don't have a problem with him being the leader," Nate insisted.
"You have a problem with him fucking your mom."
"Christ, Dom!" Nate looked as outraged as possible. "Could you not be so graphic?"
I heard a noise over my shoulder from Ororo that sounded suspiciously like a strangled laugh.
"What's so flonquing funny, Storm?" Nate growled.
"The show I'm watching," she replied promptly. "The host said something very amusing about compost."
"That's a load of compost," he muttered. He turned back to me. "That is not an image I need in my head."
I sighed. "Oh, grow up. I'm sure Remy isn't the guy you would have picked Jean to be involved with but it's not up to you."
"You don't waste any time, do you?" Nate shook his head. "You're barely through the door and you're eating all my food and busting my balls."
"If I'm going to join the team it's best if I get comfortable right away," I shrugged. "Look, I know it's hard. I didn't even know Jean and Scott that well and it was weird for me while I was there but... hell, Nate, who are we to start saying you can't move on?" I frowned. "Scratch that. You have a moving on deficiency, so I can understand why you can't let it go."
"Remy asked you to join just because he knew you'd piss me off."
I smiled at him then. I had such a soft spot for the guy. "Maybe he did. Maybe not. I'm here though."
"Yeah, you are," his tone was warm. I was not going to last long sleeping in a different bed, I could see that already.
"Ororo," I turned around to look at her. She turned the television off to give me her full attention. "Not to sound like a gossip but what does the whole Remy and Jean thing do for you."
Ororo's eyes flickered over to Nate then back to me. "Jean and Remy are two of my oldest and dearest friends. They've suffered some horrible losses in the past few years and they've found happiness together. I'm thrilled that they have done so."
I looked back at Nate who wore a long-suffering expression. "Yes, Dom, I've been working with their cheerleader. Yes, Dom, it's irritating. Yes, Dom, I've thought about shooting her."
Storm stood up then and joined us at the table. "Maybe, if you're joining us, you'd be interested in what we've been working on lately."
"That might be helpful," I nodded. "Nate keeps me briefed when we talk but I don't know details. You were dealing with Genosha, right?"
"Right," Nate leaned back in his chair. "Working against the remaining sanctions. Magneto has actually done some good there. It's never going to be Utopia but it's not a breeding ground for evil or anything. Rogue's team did most of the legwork on lobbying but we went over there and got the information they really needed for it to work out."
Lobbying, I never thought I'd hear of the X-men doing something like that. Talk about changes.
"Wasn't there some skirmish in San Francisco awhile back with X-Force?"
"Don't remind me," Nate groused. "What a mess. That was a Guild job that escalated when Wisdom bust in and got indignant about it. Wouldn't listen to us about it, no, just had to go and shoot his flonquing mouth off and get one of Remy's men killed."
"It was a bad situation on both ends," Storm added. "We made mistakes, too. If we'd been able to get a hold of Sam a lot of that could have been avoided."
"Don't stick up for him, Ororo," Nate said fiercely. "Wisdom sold us out. And if the blame was as balanced as all that Jean never would have done what she did to him."
What?! This was news to me. "What did Jean do?"
"Nothing permanent," Ororo replied, her brow furrowed.
The more I heard the more I was loving the potential this team was showing me. They had made a difference in regards to Genosha. They were actually living in the real world and not tucked away in upstate New York behind walls of alien security. This team had balls, and I loved that.
And I loved the idea of working with Nate again.
Things always seemed to fall into place for me. I don't consider myself a fool, so I could see I would have to grab a hold of this opportunity. Work with Nate, make a difference, and maybe get another chance at humiliating Beaudreaux. Even if she did recommend me for the job. If that wasn't probability doing a back-flip I don't know what was.
Nate and Ororo were looking at me. Ororo flashed a knowing smile. "You're with us, aren't you." It wasn't a question.
I reached for the garlic pepper chicken again.
Ororo went back to the couch.
Nate watched me for several moments. *Glad you're here, Dom.*
I flicked my eyes up to meet his to give him a smart-ass remark back.
But all I did was smile.