Notes: This is part of the Alchemy-verse, which is the name of the Jean/Remy-verse that busted up my writer's block and then wasn't satisfied and staged a hostile takeover of my brain. This takes place before the Philosopher's Stone and is how Nate found out about Remy and Jean. In terms of chronology the stories take place in this order:
These stories take place after the Revolution, in which Mr. Claremont came back and inflicted the Neo on us. As far as earlier continuity goes, Alchemy and canon waltz together for a time and then split off. Sketch, a new character that showed up in UXM recently, exists in Alchemy but at this point hasn't claimed anything more for herself. Rogue's team is doing their thing but they're on their own if they get into trouble. With the amount of heavy hitters they have on their side if they get into dire straits they're just stupid. "I Saw Mommy" takes place in Moscow, I see the team hanging out there for a while doing favors for Remy's (ahem) acquaintance, Col. Vazhin, until such time as he tells them to get the hell out of his country and revokes their visas.
Story Specific Notes: There is little in this world that is quite so disconcerting as to roll over in your bed in the middle of the night to find Nate looking at you like you broke his favorite gun. Nate has pestered me and pestered me and pestered me some more demanding me to write about how he found out about Jean and Remy. He even gave me the title. I told him to shut up and let me sleep. Then I made the mistake of mentioning this to Ali (you should all know Ali - the Cable Diva extrordinairre) and she sent more Nates after me. They formed a chorus line and danced across my room, scaring my cat, thank you. Naturally, I had to write this because I need to sleep and my cat does not need this kind of stress in her life. Somehow, I don't think he's going to leave me alone even after I finish this one because one of the Nates has begun to tell me the secrets of that mission against Wisdom's X-Force that resulted in death, general unpleasantness and Jean going medieval on Pete's butt. (I like Wisdom but this is just what happened, I have no control over it.)
Nate is a right bastard and Ali, please come collect the ones you sicced on me. I'm moving soon and don't have the room to keep them.
Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine. They belong to Marvel Entertainment. I am not making any money off of this, nor am I looking to. It's for fun, that's the point of it. Moscow is a city I have had the privilege of visiting... ten years ago. I was in awe much of the time. I'm sure there are many places in Moscow that serve dynamite cappuccino but Nathan is particularly picky about his which is why he says what he does.
Moscow is one of those cities I can never get tired of. It's always the same and yet it's different each time I'm here. You have to love that kind of dichotomy. I've downtimed here and I've worked here. I've spent a month in the dead of winter drinking vodka and trying to forget and I've searched out a double-agent to make sure he *never* forgot. Remy brought us here to do some work for Alexei Vazhin to whom he owed a favor.
For some reason we all decided that Moscow was a place we wanted to stay in for a time.
I don't think anyone wanted to go back to Westchester. Most of us had been there after Scott's death and even after performing some missions returning there just wasn't something anyone relished. Scott was gone, Xavier was gone, none of it was the same. Moscow was an excuse more than anything else. When we first arrived spring was just starting to show. We assisted Colonel Vazhin, we settled down at a hotel, and tried to work some things out for ourselves without the specters in Westchester breathing down our necks. Jean and Remy worked together on getting used to the change in their powers. Remy taught Jean how to fight. Hank developed some strong contacts in the scientific community regarding Legacy research. Ororo started going to the Bolshoi as often as possible.
I kept looking for decent cappuccino.
One thing that has remained a constant in this city is that it's nearly impossible to find drinkable coffee. I went to about thirty different places before I found a likely source. The first drink did not make my techno-organics beg for mercy. It showed promise. The little shop was also nicely situated near the rear entrance to Gorky Park and as I sat and drank I kept looking at it and wondering when the last time I walked through a park was.
Park-walking is, admittedly, not a habit of mine. In the future, however, everything is so desolate that I confess to a certain amount of appreciation of such things as gardens and parks. Ororo even gave me a plant to "perk up" my hotel room. She assured me it was easy to take care of. The fact that I have yet to kill it with neglect is proof of that.
If I had to be completely honest with myself I was looking for an excuse to take some time and figure out exactly how I felt with this new team I was on. People do not go for walks in Muscovian parks in the middle of November without having a very good reason for it. Eight months since we arrived here. Eight months of living with this team and learning about these people.
Jean, Ororo, Hank and Remy.
My thoughts turned to Remy. Of all of them, I knew him the least. I liked him the least and I trusted him the least. Yet he was the one who brought us here. Remy is the wildcard of the group, so it made a strange kind of sense that he be the one to call us together. I was surprised when I got his invitation. I had barely spoken a complete sentence to the guy since we met. We did almost get into a fight before the world ended in Negev, but that's hardly uncommon for me.
I came, though, because of curiosity and because of Jean. I felt no loyalty to LeBeau. If I was so inclined I could turn around and walk away. I came close to doing just that several times in that first month. His problems weren't mine, after all.
Remy knew what he was doing, though. He didn't call a group of friends to help him out of a jam. Out of the four of us only Ororo was truly his friend. She was the only one who stood behind him absolutely. He had to win the rest of us over. It was only after we reached Russia that I realized LeBeau had put together a group he thought would be effective rather than a group he thought he could be friends with.
It was almost enough to make me like him. He was depending on our professionalism to get the jobs done. I had to respect that. He wasn't a slacking, jerk-off, playboy like I always thought he was. Actually, he was pretty good at leading.
So, of course, just when I was getting comfortable with the idea of Gambit what happened, happened.
It was a surprisingly mild day in Moscow. The wind wasn't blowing hard enough to flay your skin off and I took advantage of the weather. I was walking through the park, thinking about the group and considering a detour down to the river bank, when I heard a laugh that sounded suspiciously like Jean's coming from the direction I was just contemplating. Naturally, I decided to seek her out.
A small copse of trees separated the path I was walking from the river walk so I casually made my way through them. It was then that I noticed Jean wasn't alone.
She was with Remy.
And they were standing very close to each other.
Closer than usual.
He said something to her that I couldn't hear and she laughed again. He was looking down at her and then bent his head and kissed her.
My train of thought went something like this:
*What is he doing?!*
*Why is his mouth on hers?!*
*I'm not seeing this. I am not! Seeing! This!*
*Oh, good, her arms are moving up, she's going to break his neck and throw him in the river.*
*She's not breaking his neck.*
*She still isn't breaking his neck!*
*Why isn't she breaking his neck?!!*
*Mother Askanii, did I just see her _tongue_?!*
I think I had stumbled back into the trees by then wishing that the phrase 'stab my eyes' could be taken literally at that moment. There had to be a logical explanation as to why Jean was standing on the bank of the Moscow River with her tongue in Remy's mouth. There *had* to be.
Not that *I* could think of one. The Sisters Askanii hadn't prepared me for such an eventuality.
Because I'm such a glutton for punishment I took another look. They weren't kissing anymore. They were strolling casually down the river walk holding hands. I very nearly lost my lunch. Or rather I would have very nearly lost my lunch if I'd *had* lunch. The cappuccino I'd so recently been enjoying, however, was beginning to churn angrily.
I followed them. Maybe they'd split up so I could kill Remy privately. As it was I was very tempted to teke him into the river and hold him there until he drowned but considering what Jean had just been doing with him she might prove a deterrence.
The wind started to pick up and they increased their pace accordingly. I trailed them as they made their way back to the hotel. Remy grew increasingly uncertain as we progressed. He knew he was being followed. I was somewhat annoyed that he had caught on so quickly but I was pleased that my team leader wasn't so lost in the charms of a woman, even Jean, that he couldn't catch a tail.
They reached the hotel and ducked quickly into the lobby. The weather had become far more bitter during the short walk from Gorky Park to the hotel and I was eager to get out of the wind as well. I jogged the rest of the way to the hotel and entered it.
I caught sight of them by the elevators, chatting. Jean was talking to Remy and, though he was listening to her, his eyes were scanning the doors. He caught sight of me and offered a miniscule nod of greeting. He also seemed to relax more. Remy respects my healthy paranoia. He must have figured that if I was around I'd notice if someone was tailing either Jean or himself.
Which is true. Of course, since it was me tailing them I was already on it. It was almost funny.
The elevator doors opened and Jean touched Remy's arm to guide him aboard. It was strangely casual but her hand lingered a little longer than it should have. I found myself grinding my teeth. I'd seen them like that numerous times, talking, laughing, sharing jokes. How long had they been kissing? How had they managed to keep something that intimate from the rest of us? How long?!
I watched the elevator lights pause on Jean's floor then continue upward. He must have been escorting her back to her room. How nice of him. I'd have to be sure and thank him for that before I tore his arms off.
I walked up to Remy's room. We were all on different levels and his was two below Jean's. There had been plenty of time for him to leave Jean at her room and return to his own. I had to believe that that was all that would transpire. My mind simply would not go any further than that. All I wanted to do was get him alone and make sure he knew the consequences of his actions.
When I got to his room I scanned it quickly to verify that he was, in fact, there. Remy's hard to scan because of his power but since I was concentrating solely on him there shouldn't have been a problem to just confirm the fact that he was in his room.
Except that he wasn't.
*You have got to be flonqing kidding me.*
I went to my room and immediately settled into intensive Askanii meditations. I needed to be calm. I needed to be in control of my thoughts. What I was planning next would be dodgy at best. If I wasn't completely in control of my mind, if I wasn't as disciplined as I possibly could be, Jean would know something was up.
A suspicious Jean is one of the most tenacious creatures on the planet.
Ten minutes of intense meditations and I was ready. I sent my link downstairs and brushed lightly over Jean's room.
There were two psyche's in there.
And one of them found me.
There was a pause.
#Nathan, is something wrong?#
*Yes. YES! There IS something wrong, thank you for asking!*
#No, I was just...#
She sounded preoccupied. As though there were something that was drawing her attention away. Repeatedly.
I stewed and then maintained control over my thoughts.
#Nathan, are you sure there's nothing wrong?#
*Of course there's something wrong! Someone, and I have to assume it's LeBeau, is doing something to you that is dragging your attention away and there is a very short list of what that something might be!*
#I was wondering if you'd like to join me for dinner.#
#Oh... well... I'd love to but I was planning on going to bed early tonight.#
*I just bet.*
#Are you all right, Jean? Are you not feeling well? Would you like me to bring you something?#
It was mean-spirited of me to say that. But I was getting angrier and angrier. A part of me wanted to catch her lying or have her admit what she was doing. I was provoking her. It was childish. I wasn't sorry at all.
#No, Nathan, I'm fine. I've been working very hard with Remy and it's tiring.#
*Mother Askanii... *
Well. She didn't lie. I can at least give her credit for that.
That preoccupation was hitting full force again. Not to mention that there was a staticy feel to our link that I knew well after working with Remy these past eight months. That was his bio-kinetic field getting in the way of the link, which meant two things: He was very close to Jean and his emotions were running high.
And I did not want to be linked with Jean for very much longer that's for damn sure.
#Okay, well, I'll talk to you later then. Maybe we can have dinner tomorrow.#
#I'd like that, Nathan. Good night.# She broke off the link just a little too abruptly.
The evidence was all there. They were involved in a way I didn't want to imagine them being involved. He took the leadership position that my father held before him. And he took Jean as well. The only way I could think to resolve this in a manner I preferred was to kill Remy.
The problem, of course, was that I couldn't walk in and kill LeBeau. Jean would not be pleased. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt her. I had to remain where I was and deal with my own feelings about what was going on in that other room. I didn't want to deal with my feelings. It's why I prefer to blow things up. What is, is, feelings don't enter into it.
And what is, is the woman who raised me found another. I don't know if it's serious, I don't know if it will last, I don't know anything about it really except that it proves something I did not want to recognize. It proved something none of us wanted to accept. It was why we still hadn't returned to Westchester. It was why we had remained in Moscow through the summer and into the beginnings of those dark and bitter Russian winters. It was something that two of our number had finally acknowledged, and now, I had to as well.
My father died and the world kept going.