Author's Note: Standard disclaimers apply. Pre X-Treme #31, just slightly. I figure it's just a few minutes before where this story picks up. Also to Texans, Remy apologises profusely for his outburst. Can't hold a man accountable when he's feeling twitchy.


The worst thing someone could have told me as a kid was not to touch anything. I've always lived by empiricism, which is kind of why I didn't mess with my empathy as much as I could have when I had it. I liked to know that things were solid before I could depend on them. It's also why I can't stand to be in museums during the daytime. My hands wander too much, Papa told me, but rest assured that's a thief thing.

And if I don't get to touch something, I get twitchy. You know the feeling. It's the one when you've been in the same place too damn long and the impulse that if you don't indulge yourself this instant, you're going to go insane. For this reason alone I consider my relationship with Rogue to be miraculous.

I am twitchy at the moment. I am also in Texas.

It doesn't help that I hate Texas. And I mean hate.

The state's never set quite right with me. When I was eighteen, newly married, and very recently exiled from the city of my birth, I ended up driving out west, first through Texas. Didn't have a plan, just rode. And, believe me, when you feel like no one in the world cares about you and everything you've worked up for the past ten years of your life comes crashing down in little confetti-like pieces around you, Texas is not exactly the place you want to end up. The state's nothing but bars, hills, and cattle. Comforting, neh? At least I made friends in New Mexico.

My last trip through Texas was only marginally better. I begged and pleaded with Rogue to change our route north and skip this godforsaken state. The girl has gotten surprisingly rational since our powers skedaddled and left her mind (as far as we can tell) clear and uncluttered.

"Sugah," she had purred in my ear when I mentioned it, making full sure her lips nipped the lobe and her hands caressed elsewhere. "Unless you feel like puttin' snow tires on the bikes, howzabout we stick where it's warm, hmm?" Leave it to her to make me decide between bad memories and cold weather. One pout of her lips and the thought fluttered from my head. I ended up spending a couple of days in Bushland...erm, Texas. Serves me right for mentioning important things during foreplay.

That was only difference between my trips through Texas. I traded going to sleep drunk every night for going to sleep with a wonderful woman in my arms. Nice difference. Made the trip bearable.

It's more than the memories...the entire state just pisses me off. It's a different country down here, and not just because we're in the South. What with their fanatical Friday night football games, capital punishment, bluebonnets...

Yes, I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel here. Can you blame me? At the moment, I'm sitting on my hands to stop the nervous twitching. There's a lot at stake and I can't screw it up because of my goddamn emotions. You see, right now I happen to be at the Presidential Ranch in Texas at a folksy little barbeque with lots of foreign dignitaries (many of whose homes I'm already familiar with) and it's not because I'm being pardoned. I'm doing a favour for a friend, who thinks she's doing a favour for me by giving me a change of scenery.

Now, living a life that most people consider normal has been a culture shock for me, so infiltrating top-secret government files and seminars is kind of familiar. Mundane, almost. I got a bigger kick out of rewiring the house in Valle Soleada so we could get free cable than I am here dressed up like a goon faking the World's Worst Accent.

Stormy nearly had a coronary this morning when I got out of our rental car without my sunglasses. "Do you want to stand out?" she hissed as she jammed them over the bridge of my nose, smoothed back my unruly hair that no amount of hair gel could tame. She wanted me to get a hair cut, but that wasn't in the job description. I was tired of these jobs, but at the same time...

Did I want to stand out? I always have; with eyes like these it's hard to go incognito without a pair of shades. Lately I've felt my eyes have been kind of pointless...can't charge anything no more. Why bother with the colour? Still have the agility, thank God.

I haven't had sex in a week, haven't been allowed to smoke since we went in disguise, forgot to bring my's almost as bad as the first week of Lent when you're going through withdrawal from the things you gave up. The lack of nicotine is beginning to grate at my nerves and my hands have nothing to do. My fingers are killing for a pick and every locked door in this place is begging to be opened and explored. It's a thief's worst nightmare.

I'd blame Stormy for the mission, but I could have told her no, I didn't feel like getting back in this rut. Which leads me to wonder...could I ever shake it off? Could I ever be in this situation again and not be twitchy?

Would I want to?