Chapter 10: Terms and Conditions, or Identity Theft Your Way Into Success
A week after Belladonna's invocation, Jean Luc surprised them all by inviting the family to brunch the next morning, an invitation that was not to be declined. Having successfully avoided Gambit since she'd stormed out, Rogue worried that he'd come clean about their plans. She refused to even look at him when she entered the dining room, fearful that he'd taken matters into his own hands to protect them both.
But when she took her seat next to Jean Luc Gambit looked just as confused as she was about it. Jean Luc, on the other hand, looked as if he'd managed to steal not only the cookie, but also the cookie jar, the bakery, and the baker's wife.
On guard, Rogue nodded a greeting and laid her napkin across her lap. The first course had just been set on the table when Jean Luc clanged his fork against his glass and stood to speak.
"Bonjour, ma famille, bonjour. As happy as we were to receive her, I'm afraid we must say goodbye to our dear Ms. Da'Canto all too soon."
Rogue glanced at Gambit, certain he'd been up to something. He shook his head just enough for her to see and cut his eyes back to his father.
"I had our lawyers go through the paperwork, and damned if they didn' find out the marriage license isn't binding in the eyes of the state, God, and guild."
The tang of copper was strong as Rogue bit her cheek hard enough to draw blood.
"What do you mean, 'isn't binding,?" Henri asked, next to Remy. He and the rest of those seated at the table looked just as confused as Remy.
Jean Luc turned to Remy, his voice mocking and sympathetic. "Seems your blushin' bride there isn't who she claims to be. 'less she's really an 89 year old Indian woman who's been livin' in a nursing home for the past ten years."
He set a folder onto Remy's plate and left the room laughing. Remy narrowed his eyes at her but he didn't otherwise hint at any discord.
Damn her mother's inability to follow up with paperwork.
"Least she looks good for her age," Lapin said as Merci ushered him out of the room.
Remy waited until they were alone to reach for the folder. A soft pink light covered them as he read.
"This true?" he asked when he was done, his anger making her turn away.
"Remy -" she trailed off when she realized there was no way to explain it without exposing her own past. Without exposing that the life she'd claimed to have was a lie.
"No, you're not gettin' out of this one, Rogue," he hissed, the papers dissolving into ash. "We're up to our necks in hot water after last week, if this is true -
"I can fix this," she said standing. She yanked him out of his seat and dragged him towards the door. "But not here. There a quiet place around here?"
The muscles in his jaw twitched, but he nodded. As he lead her towards the front door, Jean Luc's voice crowed after them, "Can't get out this one, Anna."
Rogue ground her teeth tight at his unbridled glee.
Out the door, Remy shook his wrist free of her grip. He made his way around the house, his long legs carrying him quick enough Rogue had to jog to keep up. Past the garage, near a patch of fallow garden, was a shed that had seen better days. He unlocked the door with a flick of his wrist and held the door open for her. A cat wound around her legs and slipped in with her. She had to quash the urge to check that it wasn't Mystique.
Behind her, Remy flipped a switch. The slow rumble of an air conditioner kicked to life, loud enough to keep eavesdroppers out. Happy with its inspection of the room, the cat wound about his feet and mewed. Remy obliged, picking it up to scratch it under the chin.
Rogue nodded and drew in a deep breath. "Mystique. She told me I needed to be 'untraceable'. So she had me set up as Anna-Marie Da'Canto before I moved to Bayville. Didn't know she was stealing it from a little old lady."
He narrowed his eyes at her, incredulous. "And you using a fake identity to get married's not somethin' you think I should have known before we got hitched?"
"Maybe I would have if you'd told me he was going to check up on me," she shot back, her anger at him fueling her spite. "Seems there's a lot you haven't told me either, so I'm wonderin' if now's the time to let me in on any other secrets you might have goin' for you."
Remy cursed and turned away from her. Rogue glared at him, more angry at herself for not thinking Jean Luc would go to any length to save his treaty. Unwilling to give up so easily, she pulled out her cell phone. Halfway through dialing the institute's number, Remy snatched the flip phone out of her hands.
"Use this one," he said. He forced his into her hands. "They already got a trace on yours."
She tugged off a glove to type the number onto the screen. After two rings, someone picked up.
"Xavier's Institute for the Gifted, this is Bobby speaking, a.k.a. God's gift to women the world round. How may I direct your call?"
"It's Rogue, put Kitty on the phone." She held the phone between her ear and shoulder to pull her glove back on.
"Rogue! Such a delight to hear that soft Southern purr again. How's the road? Still leading you forward to your destination?"
It was too easy to picture the grin on his face.
"Bobby, if you don't get Kit on the phone in the next two seconds I swear the only thing you'll be God's gift to are those maggots Forge's been working with," she growled into the phone. "Or do I have to remind you about Homecoming and those wandering hands of yours?"
Remy glanced at Rogue over her shoulder and she turned away from him. That was not a night she wanted to recount without three shots of whiskey in front of her.
On the phone, Bobby sighed dramatically. "Best three weeks I ever spent in the MedLab. Still can't bend my pinkie finger."
"Snowman," she snapped, but the line had already switched over to the strains of Vivaldi.
"Homecoming, eh? They crown you Queen of Darkness?"
Rogue picked up a wrench and mimed throwing it at him.
"Rogue! Oh-em-gee how are you? What are doing? Where are you?" Kitty's chipper voice asked. "Thanks so much for those peach preserves, they were amazing even though I only got, like, two bites. You'll never guess who decided we had to go to George for a field trip after Ms. Munroe made a peach pie last week -"
"Kit, I need a favor," Rogue said. If she didn't cut her off now, Kitty would go on for hours and time was ticking.
Kitty was silent a moment. "Like, a favor 'favor'? The one I'm not supposed to be doing without express permission from Mr. Logan or the Professor? I won't do it, Rogue, I will not." Her voice was louder and Rogue knew she was still downstairs.
"Yeah, a favor 'favor'."
"Gosh, Rogue I told you I can't do that. It's like, illegal, you know. Besides, if you're in trouble we can always come help you sort it out."
"Stripes in trouble?" Logan's gruff voice came through, small and tinny. Rogue bit back a groan. The last thing she needed was anybody showing up to save her.
"Nothing she can't handle," Kitty chirped, still playing at innocent. "She just wants an ID that makes her older is all. She's in Key West and she's getting carded."
"Caller ID says Detroit Michigan," Bobby yelled.
Rogue raised an eyebrow at Remy, his attention entirely on the cat in his arms. What the hell was this phone?
"We'll be there in an hour, tops," Logan's gruff voice grew softer and Rogue rolled her eyes. Everything had to be a thing with the X-Men. They should have been a theater group instead of superheroes.
"Tell him I'm fine and there's nothing to worry about. I've gotten out of worse last month."
"Damnit, kid," Logan snapped. Rogue cursed his supernatural hearing. "If I don't hear from you in an hour I will come after you. Keep your phone on."
Kitty sighed. "He's not going to find you there, is he?" she said after Logan had left the room.
"Not unless Forge's found a way to track us without needing Cerebro."
"Rogue -" Kitty began, her voice laced with worry.
"I'm fine, Kit. I promise. It's nothing big. Just tell me what you need me to do," Rogue said.
Kitty sighed and Rogue could picture her twisting her hair as she decided what to do.
"Get somewhere with open access wi-fi," she softly. Her voice returned to its normal pitch, a sign that someone else was walking by. "I just can't believe you saw Epcot last week, I've been dying to go there forever."
"Forty-five minutes enough time?" Rogue asked as she inspected the tools that lined the shed walls. Nothing more than regular work tools. Apparently even rich thieves need a socket wrench on occasion.
"I thought you were only going to be gone for another thirty days," Kitty replied easily. "There's this really awesome coffee shop I wanted you to try out that just opened. They have the best wifi around, I swear, and like, they even provide computers for you to use if you don't have your own."
"Thirty minutes with wifi and a computer, got it. Thanks, Kit," Rogue said with a soft smile.
"Most definitely we will go first thing when you get back. You'll have to tell me iall/i about your trip." Her voice grew distant and Rogue heard her call out, "Mr. Logan, I forgot about a school project that's due tomorrow. Can I use the X-Van to go into town?"
The line went dead and Rogue ran a hand through her hair, relieved that was taken care of. She frowned when it got stuck. "Gotta get a hair cut," she muttered as she yanked her hand free.
"You gon' tell me what that was about?" Remy's bourbon drawl came from behind her.
She spun away from him, putting a hand on her chest to calm her heart. Rogue had forgotten he was there. "Jesus, Cajun. Do I need to put bells on you?"
"Can't say I've ever tried anything with bells, but there's a thought no?"
"No, it's not a thought," she snapped. She walked towards the door, ready for this misstep to be over with. "Now come on, we need to get somewhere with a computer and an internet connection."
He followed her out towards the garage, a set of keys spinning on his finger. "Still haven't told me who the hell Anna-Marie Da'Canto
"You're one to talk, Remmington Etienne LeBeau. I know a fake birth certificate when I see one. You get them fancy lawyers of yours to draw that up last year, or is that your handy work?" she shot back, her irritation at him back in full force.
He shrugged, her words nothing more than air to him, and hit the unlock button for a dark Mazda sitting by the side of the house. "You got your past, I got mine. Just remember if this don't work, it's both our hides that'll be skinned."
A long, quiet half-hour drive later found the two at a small internet cafe in Bayou Gauche, an old, battered laptop in front of Rogue. She didn't care to think about where Remy had gotten it from. Across from her he shuffled through a new deck of cards while he kept an eye on the cafe around them. They hadn't spoken more than ten words since they'd arrived, and Rogue was content to sip her coffee as she waited for the phone to ring.
As little time as they'd spent together, it was surprising how easy it had become to recognize his tells. Today his shuffling was slower, more contemplative if she could call it that. At City Hall it had been flashier while they'd waited in the cheap plastic seats, his fingers dancing with the cards as he cut, shuffled, and recut them to pass the time. Now he cut them with one hand over and over, no shuffling to be had.
'Ain't nothing to worry your head 'bout. Ole' Remy's just not good with sitting around waiting,' his psyche whispered to her. She closed her eyes and rolled the patois around in her head, and not for the first time wished he was this open in real life.
'Keep trying to tell you he would be if you were willin' to open that door,' he whispered once more before disappearing under the waves of her mind.
A loud ringtone made her start, and she reached for the phone between them.
"I'm here, Kit."
"Remy says it is," Rogue told her as she woke the computer up from it's sleep.
"Remy?" Kitty screeched. "I need deets, ASAP."
Hearing his name come out of the phone, Remy glanced up. Rogue winced, realizing too late she hadn't mentioned him. "He's helping me with something." The line was silent, prompting Rogue to add, "I promise I will tell you every last detail when I get home."
Kitty huffed on the other end of the line. "Fine. But you'd better not leave anything out. I have my way of finding out, you know."
"Facebook and Instagram don't count," Rogue said.
"Just because you think they're the spawn of the devil," Kitty said. There was chatter in the background and Rogue heard someone talking to Kitty. When it was quiet again, Kitty said, "Okay, what do you need from me?"
"A birth certificate, for starters. The one Mystique set up doesn't have a paper trail behind it. The only Anna-Marie Da'Canto is an old woman in Biloxi."
"Which means you also need a new social security card I'm guessing. And school records and credit scores." Kitty mumbled to herself and Rogue could hear typing over the phone.
Rogue breathed out the tension she'd been holding in. The last time Kitty had forged government papers, she'd gotten in major trouble on the national level. It took an act of Xavie, God, and stopping a rampaging Juggernaut to straighten that one out, and it was only recently Kitty had been allowed on a computer again. Rogue had gambled that Kitty's natural inclination to test the limits of her computer skills would win out over her fear of federal conviction.
"Name and date of birth?"
Rogue spelled it out. "October 31, 1991."
"Halloween? Could you be anymore morbid?" Kitty teased. "County and state?"
"Better make it one in Kentucky," she said. Remy stood and nodded towards the counter, a peace offering of sorts. Rogue shook her head. "And I'm not being morbid, Kit. We always celebrate my birthday on Halloween."
"Only because you refused to let us know your real birthday. Alright, we have one Anna-Marie Da'Canto, born in Madison, Kentucky. Parents Joe and Marie Da'Canto welcomed you into the world on October 31, 1991."
Keys clicked about in the background and a laugh came from the front of the cafe. Rogue glanced over her shoulder and found a group of teenagers walking into the store. She looked to Remy who shook his head. Nobody he knew.
"What are you doing with Gambit anyways? You said you were done with him after the last mission."
Rogue licked her lips. She glanced up to make sure he was still at the counter. "He was in trouble, Kit. I couldn't just leave him to it."
Kitty snorted. "You've left people in worse situations. Or need I remind you of the Bayville Mall incident involving one of the Brotherhood slobs, a quarterback, and our very own Boom Boom?"
"That's different and you know it, Kit. She'd been playing the both of them like an Atari for months. It was bound to blow up in her face eventually."
"And he's different how?" Kitty asked.
She was close enough to the root of the problem that Rogue couldn't argue it.
"He offered me something I couldn't refuse," Rogue finally admitted.
Remy came back with a paper cup and two sandwiches. He placed one in front of Rogue before biting into his own.
"God, you're making him sound like the Mafia. His family is super shady," Kitty said.
"He ain't far from it," Rogue muttered. She picked at the sandwich only to find he'd brought her a tuna melt. She pushed it away from her.
Kitty sighed, and all three sat in silence while Kitty worked.
"The good news is Mystique already set up an educational and medical trail for you. All the documents you need are in that email address I sent you. Anything else you need?"
Rogue opened up the browser, already logged into the burner account, and scrolled through them. As usual, Kitty had outdone herself. She turned the computer around for Remy's scrutiny. He nodded his approval after looking them over.
"These are perfect, Kit. I owe you one."
"Anytime. Guess that means we're even for Lance sneaking in?"
"We're never going to be even for those images, but I'll let it slide," Rogue teased.
Kitty laughed. "It wasn't that bad. Besides if you knew how to know you would have known the room was occupied."
"And how was I s'posed to know what y'all were up to? Wasn't like you left me a neon sign or anything." She picked at the crust, still not hungry enough to eat it.
"Please. A sock around the doorknob would have the entire mansion trying to break in."
"A sock around the door knob? What'd you do, join Animal House while I was gone?" Remy snickered, and Rogue rolled her eyes. "No comment from the peanut gallery, cajun."
"Rogue?" Kitty's voice was hesitant.
"Just, be careful, alright? I don't know what's going on, and I don't want to. Not until you're ready to share. But I don't trust him."
"That makes two of us. I'm too far in to back out now though," Rogue admitted.
"We're just a call away. If you need anything -"
"I know Kit. Take care of yourself."
"You too," Kitty said before the connection cut off.
"They really your family, huh?" Remy asked.
He'd watched her through the conversation, and Rogue had been able to ignore him while she'd been on the phone. Now that they were alone again, it felt awkward. Strained.
"We'll head back there when all this is over," he said with an air of finality. "''less you got other places to be?"
"We? I thought you said we're getting an annulment," Rogue said, shocked at his decision.
Remy grinned and winked. "Can't after we consummated things. Looks like you're stuck with me."
Rogue threw her sandwich at him and he dissolved into a fit of laughter.