Disclaimer: The X-men and their world belong to Mavel/Fox. No profit or copyright infringement is intended. This is an X-men Shared Universe, orignally imagined by Tarchannon, Dark Legends is a dark future where the next generation of the Legacy virus has triggered disturbing changes in the X-men. For further stories by a variety of authors and poets, go here.


Ace in the Hole

Remy was fighting for his life before he'd even completely woken up. Sounds around him echoed hollowly and he was cold, the stink of chemicals made him buck and twist - the bite of restraints on his arms and legs had him struggling to charge the table he was lying on in panic.

Huge hands slammed down on his shoulders, pinning him still. "Wake up young man! Wake up!"

Remy gasped, jerked and snapped open his eyes, getting a startling view of bright blue fur and long, predatory fangs. He flinched reflexively then the sight of the tiny yellow glasses perched on the massive blue nose dispersed his instinctive fear. He began to cough, recognizing the aftertaste of sedatives in his mouth.

He had only the vaguest memories of how he'd gotten here. Remy remembered collapsing onto gritty tarmac under the cold, unimpressed blue eyes of the boy who'd saved his virtue, if not his life. The boy had turned away and the thief had realized - astonished - that the kid was going to leave him bleeding on the pavement. Sabertooth's icy prison creaked and popped, melting rapidly in the heat and reminding Remy that he most certainly didn't want to be left behind for Creed's mercy. The mutant wasn't dead in there, the thief could tell that.

"S'v p-plait -!" Remy had cried, exaggerating his weakness and reaching out with both hands and charm. He'd touched the pallid boy's mind and flinched. The young mutant was cold - cold inside and out. Remy could see the faint cloud of ice crystals condensing out of the humid summer air around the mutant and the kid's mind - the thief had gotten more emotional signature from lizards. Remy shivered, his charm sliding off the boy's frozen emotions without effect. "Don leave me here -!"

The mutant turned back, a faint frown marring the perfect face. "We can't take you."

"Please - " Remy begged a pool of his own blood spreading slowly around him. The weakness that had brought him down wasn't as much of an act as he'd like. "Can go to de hospital - dey won't touch me."

"Dieu - don leave me here to die!" He shouted when the kid turned away again, tossing the bags of rice into the back of a big, battered van. Footsteps coming up behind Remy brought him struggling to his knees. A big, brutal looking man with a case of beer slung over his shoulder was swaggering over. He was as intimidating as Creed, Remy could sense an uncomfortable similarity between them, but at least he had emotions - even if it was mostly suppressed rage.

"What'cha doin' here, Ice Cube?" The man rumbled, halting to stare hard at Remy and Creed. His teeth skinned back to display sharp looking teeth. "Told ya to stay out of trouble. I don't like it when ya don't do what I say."

Faster than someone that broad should be the man backhanded the boy. With a crack of splintering ice the kid staggered back. Blood, startlingly bright, welled, froze and faded. The kid simply stared at his partner who snarled, breathing hard and glaring but Remy could feel the moment of blinding rage twist into sick horror and self-hatred.

"Sabertooth was attacking that mutant." The kid said. "Nearly ran me over."

"Get the fuck in the van. We're leaving." The rough voice cracked the only sign of the man's internal conflict. He swung around to glare at Remy and Sabertooth.

The thief sank back on his heels and wrapped an arm around the bleeding gash in his side and tried to look desperate. It wasn't hard. The man *sniffed* at him and snarled.

"Ya stink."

Remy only blinked at him to weary to speak and beginning to shiver despite the summer heat. He missed his coat. He pressed harder at the gouge in his side to slow the bleeding and lowered his head. The big man stalked past him to circle the frozen Sabertooth with a savage grin. A blade popped from his fist and he scraped the ice, chips pattering on the pavement around the column. Remy knew the mutant now - Wolverine - the ex-military project with metal bones.

"Wonder if ya can see me in there, old man." Wolverine muttered, he twisted his claw and a chunk of ice popped out to shatter into slush on the ground.

"Please - don - don let M. Chat out." Remy whispered, failing again to get to his feet. The world tipped and dumped him face down on the pavement. Remy lay there panting and wondered how he'd gotten there. There was a rather large amount of blood around him. Someone should do something about that. He pushed himself up on an elbow to stare at a pair of muddy work boots. "He try to kill Remy. Don - w'ant to die. S'v plait."

He was rolled over and Remy groaned, vision graying for a moment. The Wolverine was crouched over him, nostrils flared in distaste. Heavy beard shadow gave the man a savage, sullen look, black hair - rather filthy - stuck out in all directions. He was wearing a pair of old jeans, a torn T-shirt and an intimidating scowl. Remy squinted at the dog collar buckled tightly around Wolverine's neck. The man didn't smell particularly good himself.

"Maybe you not got much to stand on 'bout de stink, homme." Remy whispered. Wolverine blinked. Remy reached out to brush his fingers across the other man's, he wanted to charm him but instead found himself clutching the heavy wrist desperately, too weak to use his power. "Don - don leave m-me here -"

The man grunted and tried to haul Remy to his feet. The thief hissed and collapsed, grabbing weakly at the man's hands and cried out in pain as he was slung over a big shoulder then dumped carelessly into the back of the van among cans of beans and bags of flour, sugar and rice.

Everything else was a blur; being jostled as the van sped down the late night streets and the sounds of an argument from the two up front echoing in his ringing ears. He hadn't been able to pay attention, though he knew he should. He didn't remember being taken from the van at all.

Remy panted, eyes squeezed shut against the headache and the press of hostile emotions around him. He already recognized Wolverine's distinctive frustration and despair. He knew he hadn't been unconscious for long, he hurt too much. He pulled at the restraints. He hadn't planned on being incapacitated. "W-wh'er Remy?"

"Easy, my young man." A basso-profundo voice rumbled above his head. "You're quite safe here."

The thief relaxed a little. He could feel the recognition in the hands holding him and the honest concern. Kurt had gotten through to the X-men's resident scientist. There was a disbelieving snort from nearby and Remy cracked his eyes open.

What smelled like a hospital wasn't lit like one. The light was low and red tinged, after a moment, the thief recognized emergency lighting. He glanced around surreptitiously. There were empty cabinets and quiet machines. Several others had been cobbled together to share the emergency power system and the chemical smell in the air was the harsh but cheap scent of laundry bleach rather than normal hospital cleaners. The thief remembered his ride back on bales of food. The kind of food that stored well and didn't need refrigeration. Rice. Dried beans. Flour. Canned food.

"Safe - " Wolverine growled. The man was pacing near the doorway, rolling his heavy shoulders uneasily. "My ass. We can't keep this kid here."

The man stared at Remy, eyes dark and empty. "He'll just die. Like everyone else."

"He's been exposed." The doctor rumbled, patting Remy's shoulder. "We can't let him go either."

Wolverine shook his head sharply, tossing the doctor's words off. "Scooter ain't gonna like it."

"What am I not going to like?" Someone said sharply from the doorway. The thief unconsciously pulled at his restraints as the tension in the room rose suddenly. He didn't like being tied down and liked it less every minute. Even the doctor shifted to put himself between his patient and his teammates.

The newcomer was tall and broad shouldered, clean cut and handsome and everything a hero should be. He matched the photos Remy had seen of the X-men's team leader, Cyclops. Except for the glasses. He was dressed in a severe black shirt, expensive black trousers and a pair of mirror polished black boots. It would almost be funny, except for the tension in the air. The scruffy Wolverine and his commander stared hard at each other and the complexity of their emotions made Remy's battered headache.

"Answer me, Logan." Cyclops said softly.

The shorter man glared but finally dropped his eyes. "Picked up a stray."

Cyclops glanced at the prone thief dismissively. There was a long cut along one golden cheek, fresh and raw looking and his eyes were an astonishing red/blue. "Bobby already reported in regarding the supply run and informed me. I was waiting for your report. I shouldn't have to wait. It's your *duty*."

"Fuck you!" Logan snarled. "Fuck duty. I ain't yer soldier, Cyke. Fer god's sake - this ain't the army! Quit dicking around!"

Cyclops chin jerked up, his face going pale with anger. "I'm quite - quite serious, Wolverine. Get used to it. Do as I tell you - or there will be consequences. Am I clear?"

"It's clear y'got a swelled head." Logan's fists clenched and he was growling like an animal. Remy twisted one hand free in frantic silence. The anger built with startling speed, only the doctor seemed immune. His long, catlike ears were back and the aching sorrow in him made the thief's throat ache in sympathy.

"Dis place -" Remy said in a small voice, pouring on the charm and straining to diffuse the frustration before someone got hurt. Like him. "Dis place - is it safe for mut'ants? Der's so much fighting going on out der. Remy -"

He tried to look as pititufl as he could, slouching back onto the table and hiding the fact that he'd managed to free both hands. "- he has no place to go. No friends to help him. You - won't kick po' Remy out? S'v plait?"

Cyclops remained focused on Logan, hands clenched into fists behind his back as he stood at parade rest. It was the savage looking Wolverine who shook himself, struggling to master his rage, he jerked his face aside and the leader seemed mollified by that. Then the stiff commander turned his attention to Remy.

"We should never have sent a team out." Cyclops stared coldly down at him. Remy blinked guilelessly up at him. "To much risk."

Dr. McCoy sighed. He spoke very quietly and very carefully, exhaustion thinning his voice. "The children are hungry, Scott. We have no food. We needed to send some one out. Logan and Bobby are least contagious."

Cyclops shifted his frown to the blue furred doctor. "Don't release him without orders from me. Let me know if he survives."

"As you wish." The big, feline head dipped but Remy could taste the lie. Dr. McCoy had not intention of informing his team leader of anything he didn't have to.

"Logan. Come." Cyclops summoned the other man and Remy winced at the stab of outrage and raw, unhealthy *lust* from the other man. Logan snarled a curse but followed his commander - as obedient as a dog.

As soon as the click of boot heels faded, Remy struggled to sit up, wincing as stitches in his side pulled. The doctor pushed pillows behind his back and handed him a glass of water.

"Merci." Remy said, taking a sip. Clean, distilled and tasteless. But soothing on his dry throat.

"I'm sorry you had to see that." The doctor muttered. Remy shrugged. The man was ashamed of his friends.

"So - " McCoy rubbed his big hands together. The thief stared at them, at the heavy claws and thick, furred fingers and shook his head. How could this man work like that? Remy tapped his own long, double-jointed fingers against the plastic glass.

"- young Kurt came to tell me that someone wanted inside this madhouse." McCoy eyed the long limbed thief. "Why?"

Remy studied the man over the rim of his glass. He seemed stable enough, unlike everyone else associated with the X-men he'd met so far. He wondered if it was the disease, like Sinister suspected, or something of the people here. For all he knew, they'd always been madmen. It might explain some of the more outlandish rumors he'd picked up. Aliens. Time travel. Demonic invasion.

"You not answering your phone, Doctor." Remy managed to find a charming grin despite the aches and pains. "So Remy come knocking."

END (written: 08/2002)