Title: Flight of the Butterfly
Author: Tirya King
Timeframe: Set after Cajun Spice
Summary: Rogue infiltrates where no sane person has infiltrated before... the Thieves Guild homestead. Based off a dream.
Disclaimer: X-Men isn't mine obviously. The dream I had was mine. And a mighty fun dream it was too!
A/N: This is based off a dream I actually had. I rather enjoyed it, and I thought ya'll would too. So don't blame me, blame my subconscious! This was supposed to be one-shot, but oh well. Now it's a two-shot!
Flight of the Butterfly
Part One: All In the Family
Once Zhuang Zhou dreamed he was a butterfly. A butterfly fluttering happily around – was he revealing what he himself meant to be? He knew nothing of Zhou. All at once awakening, there suddenly he was – Zhou. But he didn't know if he was Zhou having dreamed he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhou. Zhuangzi
I could hear the festivities long before I arrived. The old plantation was not hard to find; I still had the memories of that Swamp Rat floating around in my head. Once I got past all the lewd remarks his psyche loved to spew out, I was able to use the knowledge he provided me. It was odd that this psyche, out of them all, was the most willing to reveal information. Chalk it up as one of life's great mysteries. I'm sure it didn't hurt that I was caught in a situation where I had to know how to find him.
I knew how to bypass all of the defenses, and I had done missions like this many times in the past. With the Swamp Rat in my head, there was no way I could fail to get in. Yet I was still nervous. Who wouldn't be? I was the only person to make it this far in infiltrating the Thieves Guild Headquarters. Even the Remy in my head knew the consequences if I got caught. But as much as he flirted and teased, he knew that I would not go to see him in his own home unless the need was dire. And unfortunately, I had that need. Perhaps that was why he was so willing to help me find his larger self.
I wasn't quite sure what to do once I was in, but first I had to actually get there in one piece. The rest I could worry about later.
The old plantation was beautiful and made me long for my home town in Mississippi. It was not my home anymore, but I would always miss the small southern town. Being here made me feel nearly at ease. Nearly at home. A fact that Gambit's psyche delighted in reminding me.
The party outside seemed even larger up close. Dozens upon dozens of people were milling about everywhere, all in various states of intoxication. The psyche quickly told me that this must be one of the many family get-togethers the guild held a few times per year. Usually after a large heist involving various members.
As I got closer, I decided to take to the trees. I knew as well as anyone the penalty for crashing a Thieves Guild family reunion. I did not think the other thieves would take kindly to my presence, saving their 'king' from the Assassins aside. The psyche Remy faded away, saying that this mission was my own now and that he could offer no more assistance.
I was glad the trees surrounding their plantation were so large. Bayou trees are among the sturdiest in the country and thick enough to hide someone like me. Now my only problem lay in finding my quarry and taking him aside to speak to him of my dilemma without alerting the other thieves to my existence. Surely he would understand my problem. He would know that I would not go to him unless I absolutely had to.
As if my thoughts conjured him, I spotted the real life Swamp Rat milling about with his many cousins. Using Mystique's power to darken my skin to match the trees, I was able to track his movements without being detected.
He and his cousins were making a hasty retreat from the kitchen chased by a large black woman wielding a dangerous looking pan. I recognized her by his memories as his Tante Mattie and I knew not to cross her. In one hand he held what looked like a chicken leg torn off in a moment of panic. No doubt he had been trying for a taste when he was caught by the fierce woman.
Even as he was being chased out of the kitchen, he had a large smile on his face. Not one of his smarmy grins or cocky smirks. But a smile, a real one. One of pure happiness. I realized I had never seen him so relaxed. How many masks had he donned up north where no one could see who he really was? I realized in that instant that I liked this new side to the mysterious Remy LeBeau.
One of his cousins pushed him playfully, joking about something I couldn't hear. Whatever it was, it lit up his face in laughter and a game of chase was begun. The sight of him so open and carefree made me nearly forget any anger or malevolence I ever felt toward him.
I followed the game through the grounds, watching them from the treetops, knowing better than to come down. Therefore I didn't realize when I had wandered too near to an open window of the second story of the house.
Before I was able to realize my mistake, many hands grabbed me, dragging me into the room. Jeering faces filled my sight and hands were everywhere, holding me down so I couldn't move. For a moment, everything was forgotten in my panic. Remy, my mission, everything. They could not touch me! Didn't they understand? They had to stay away! I was doubly glad for my uniform which covered nearly every part of my body. Even as it was I was nearly having a panic attack at being closed in so quickly.
"Well, well, mes amis, filles do grow on trees, non?" came a voice out of the crowd. I was pushed to my feet to face one of the many cousins of the family. Ansel, Remy's psyche supplied, jumping back into the forefront of my mind. He was nervous. He didn't like the way his cousins were jeering and fingering the weapons they constantly kept on them. I could hear him mentally yelling at them to keep their paws off me. I appreciated the sentiment, but he wasn't exactly helping.
"Ansel!" I yelled to the eldest Cajun. "Let meh go! Ah haven't done anything!"
"Non?" he asked skeptically. "Ah'd say sneakin' in t' spy on us counts as doin' somethin', ma belle."
Another thief, a girl a bit older than me looked me over. "An' yeh did get further than any Ripper befo'. Yo' talented, Ah'll give yeh dat." Estelle was her name, I remembered… or rather, Remy remembered.
"Ah ain't an Assassin, Estelle!" I pleaded to her, fighting to get away from my captors. "Ah came t' see Remy. Ah need t' talk t' him."
Ansel shook his head unaffected. "Yeh obviously know who we are an' yeh ain' no t'ief. An' if yeh ain' no t'ief an' yeh know enough t' get in, yo' a Ripper."
"What should we do wit' de fille?" asked a shorter blond boy named Colin. "We can' let her go back to de Assassins."
The other thieves seemed to agree. Now I started to get nervous. Despite how harmless the family looked while chasing each other with stolen food, they were still dangerous to cross. The Assassins and Thieves have been killing each other for over a century. I had no doubt these thieves would kill to protect their own from an 'Assassin' who wandered into their nest.
"If de lady wants t' see de Guild, we show her de Guild," Ansel shrugged. "She'll get her very own tour." I didn't like the sound of that.
As a group, the half dozen or so thieves dragged me downstairs, yelling to all who would listen that they had caught a Ripper and who would like to have some fun with her? I didn't like the sound of that either.
Finally we reached the ground floor, half the family in our wake. I was still calling for Remy, but I couldn't even hear myself over the excitement of the thieves. Taken into the lawn, I was thrown to the ground in the center of a circle made by them. I really didn't want to use my powers against them, but at this point I had no choice. If I didn't, I was as good as dead. The thieves wouldn't even pretend to listen to me anymore. Too filled with bourbon and hate to think beyond the age-old feud.
Just as I was getting my first glove off, I heard the most beautiful sound in the world. At least, it was at the moment.
"Move ove', Ansel. Let Remy see wha' yeh caught." Remy's voice made it through the crowd, easing the fear in my mind momentarily. He was coming. I would be alright.
"Yeh should see de fille," Ansel boasted. "Belle lil t'ing too. Been askin' fo' yeh."
"Why wouldn' she?" Remy replied, squeezing through to get to his cousin. "All de filles love…" And then he got his first glimpse of 'de fille.'
We stared at each other for what seemed like forever, though it couldn't be more than 30 seconds. If I weren't so scared of getting lynched, I'd have laughed at the look on his face. He had the expression of one just hit by a semi. But in my warped, frightened mind, I couldn't help but admit that the bayou seemed to heal whatever was hurt. He looked rather… good. His psyche was having a field day at my admission.
"Rogue?" the real Remy finally choked out. "What in de Hell are yeh doin' here? How did yeh…" And then he must have noticed my rather roughed-up condition for he immediately turned on his waiting family. I was rather grateful that I wasn't at the receiving end of the angry scarlet glare. "And what de Hell were ya'll t'inkin' treatin' de lady like dat?"
"Nice t' see yeh too," I replied, not letting him know how nice it actually was. Especially seeing as though I had been saved from an early death.
"De fille was swingin' from de trees like some monkey watchin' de famille. What were we supposed t' t'ink, Remy?" Ansel defended himself.
Remy reached down to me and offered his hand. Taking it, I was pulled to my feet. He didn't let go of me, nearly forcing me to stay close by within reach. I let him get away with it just this one. The Guild was not making me feel any less threatened, so I'd rather take my chances with the Swamp Rat. And I doubted that smacking the Prince of Thieves would make me any more popular among the family members.
"Dis de fille dat helped rescue Remy's pere from de Rippers. Show some respect, hein?" he ordered, leaving no room for argument.
I watched as they remembered their place when it came to Jean-Luc's second son and backed off. Ansel turned to me, still aware of his cousin's watchful glare.
"Desole, mademoiselle," he apologized, followed by Estelle, Colin, and some of the others who helped them in this whole mess.
"Rogue's part o' de famille as far as ya'll concerned," Remy continued, squeezing my hand. "Comprenez-vous?"
"Oui," they responded. And that, apparently, was that.
"Remy, what's goin' on?" came a new voice from the crowd. A tall man came to join us, pushing cousins and friends right and left. "What's dis Ah hear 'bout a Ripper fille?"
"Ain' no Ripper, Henri," Remy replied, smiling. "Mais, a fille, oui." He lost his angry expression almost immediately. Pulling me up to his side as he walked, the Swamp Rat presented me to his elder brother. "Dis is Rogue, de fille Remy was tellin' yeh 'bout. Chere, dis is Remy's frere, Henri."
"Aw, what is a joli t'ing like yeh doin' wit' mon little frere?" Henri teased, kissing my gloved hand. "He ain' nothin' but trouble."
"Ah know that very well," I replied shooting a look to the affronted Remy. "Pleased t' meet yeh, Henri." I couldn't help but like the elder LeBeau. He was just too open and cheerful not to like. It was easy to see where Remy learned his charming techniques from.
Henri nodded his approval. "Polite an' from de South? Remy, Ah don' know where yeh found dis fine belle, mais point meh in de direction, oui?"
"Don' listen t' dat ane, chere, he only tryin' t' charm yeh," Remy said, seeing me blush slightly at the praise. The Remy in my head just sulked.
"Oh hush yo'self, Swamp Rat," I said to him without thinking. "Maybe Ah like him tryin' t' charm meh. He sho' is bette' at it than yeh." At the last moment I realized that insulting the second oldest Prince of Thieves probably wasn't very wise. Henri might take offense as well as the rest of the family who were beginning to go off in their own directions.
To my relief, Henri only laughed long and hard at his brother being put firmly in his place. "Ain' no fille eve' tol' yeh off like dat, Rem," he chortled. "Yo' one in a million, cherie. Mercy!" he called out behind him, "Ah'm leavin' yeh fo' Rogue."
"Oh non yeh ain'!" a woman shot back, stalking toward us. She was a petite, pretty woman who was currently looking like she could kill Henri. Smacking her husband on the back of the head, Mercy grabbed my free hand, pulling me away from the men. "De poo' fille been t'rough enough t'night wit'out havin' t' listen t' yeh deux idiots. Rogue, would yeh like me t' show yeh 'round? Lordy knows Remy ain' gentleman enough t' do it 'imself."
"Mercy!" Remy cried, clearly mortified.
I liked this family more and more each minute.
"Ah'd love t'," I replied, shooting a triumphant smile to the poor abused Swamp Rat. "But Remy, we need t' talk late'."
His face lit up in a classic Cajun smirk. "Well, Remy don' know, chere. If yo' too busy wit'…"
"Swamp Rat, yeh will talk wit' meh late' t'night or Ah'll hunt yeh down an' feed yeh t' th' 'gaters. Ah didn't come all this way fo' a barbeque." Then Mercy and I left, Henri's laughter ringing in my ears.
It turned out my initial feelings about the family from before I was caught were well-founded. They were a happy group with a love for the Guild and each other. Like Henri, many loved to tease Remy or use him as a scapegoat. By the time Mercy finished showing me around and introducing me, I had enough blackmail to make the Ragin Cajun my personal slave for the rest of my life.
Through mutual agreement, my newfound friend and I decided that it was probably not wise to be caught in the paths of the more… inebriated thieves. So the two of us retreated to the kitchen to help the other women with the meals. It was there I met the infamous Tante Mattie.
The woman intimidated me at first. I could see just why Remy and his cousins held such healthy respect for her. Plush a pinch of fear when she was in one of her holy tempers that could make an Assassin run back for their mommy.
"An' who's dis?" she asked, looking at me as though it were my fault she had another mouth to feed.
"Yeh'll like dis one, Tante," Mercy promised, pushing me forward. "She de fille dat helped Remy save Jean-Luc from de Rippers. Remy tol' us she a part o' de famille now."
"Oh he did, did he?" Tante Mattie looked much more pleasant now. Taking me in her arms, she nearly squeezed me within an inch of my life. "Let yo' Tante Mattie get a good look at yeh, chil'," she ordered, turning me bodily this way and that. The woman clicked her teeth in disapproval. "Too skinny. Need t' feed yeh righ'. Need t' be healthy fo' de chill'en."
I must have jumped back a good couple of feet. "Ch-chill'en?" I heard myself say in a shaky voice. I would rather be dismembered before letting my teammates hear me like that. But right then I didn't care. Was the woman out of her mind! Me and the Swamp Rat having…
Tante Mattie put her hands in her waist and gave me a look that said I was the one who had clearly gone insane. "Yes, chil', chill'en. Remy made yeh part o' de family, didn' he?"
"Not that kind o' family," I managed to squeak out. Behind me, I heard my empathetic tour guide Mercy laughing herself silly quietly. I turned to glare at her for full measure of the situation, but somehow she was immune to its deadly effects.
Still chuckling hard, she managed to spout something quickly in French to the large black woman who was still eyeing me like I had a serious screw loose. I couldn't make out what was said. Perhaps I shouldn't have skipped French class so much. Either that or all the blood in my body that had moved to my face clouded any knowledge of the French language.
Whatever was said seemed to pacify Tante Mattie for the moment. Nodding her understanding, she got back to work. "Yo' still too skinny, girl. But tha' can come late'. We got time."
Bewildered but thankful I asked Mercy was we returned to our respective meal tasks, "what did yeh tell her, Mercy?"
Her mahogany eyes twinkled with the true mischief of a LeBeau. "Jus' dat Remy didn' marry yeh like Tante t'ought."
"What else?" I pressed, knowing that look. Mostly from my fuzzy brother. After that look would normally come some sort of prank that would turn me green for days or temporarily deaf.
Her innocent grin widened just a little. "Hones'ly, Rogue. Ah tol' her dat Remy didn' marry yeh… not yet anyway."
"Mercy, yeh didn'!" I gasped, appalled and mortified. That was low. Not to mention the endless tormenting I would have to endure from said bridegroom if he ever heard a word about this. And knowing what I did about this talkative family who were always in each other's lives, I guessed it would take all of five minutes for word to reach his ears.
"Ah did," she admitted. "Desole." She didn't look very sorry to me. She looked as sorry as a cat with a feather sticking out of its mouth.
I wanted to hit her. Hard.
So I did. With the closest thing I could reach. "Mercy, we ain' like that! Yeh know we ain'!"
I have to admit that the woman looked rather hilarious with a handful of flour thrown into her face. But she was laughing too hard to care. "Yeh may not know de Guild's laws, Rogue, mais, if yeh can' see a homme stakin' 'is claim on 'is femme, den yo' blind."
"Oui," agreed a younger girl next to us who was around 14 years old. Jeanette, I remembered her name to be. "De way he saved yeh, an' held yo' hand, an'…"
Lordy, could the kid gush any more about it? She made it sound like some romantic rescue by a knight in shining armor. Which it certainly wasn't by any stretch of the imagination. Ok, so he did save my life, but he owed me one anyway. Her and Kitty would be great friends I decided, and therefore would never meet each other.
"Look," I tried to reason with them. "Meh an' Sw… Remy ain' t'gethe' o' anythin'. We're…" What were we anyway?
Enemies? Nope. Since he kidnapped me, I stopped thinking of him like that oddly enough. He was too nice to hate.
Friends? The word didn't seem to apply to him somehow.
I was at a loss, and they knew it. "We ain' t'gethe', alrigh'?"
Mercy threw her own handful of flour at my face. I blinked in surprise, not expecting the retaliation. "Sho'," she mocked me. "Ah've known dat boy since he came int' de famille. An' Ah can read him like a book."
I counterattacked with more flour, ignoring Tante Mattie's cry of annoyance and Jeanette's giggles. This would soon dissolve into a juvenile food fight, but I did not care. Nor did I care that I was totally acting unlike myself at this point. The others at the mansion would hardly recognize this new Rogue. Something about this place relaxed not only Gambit but me as well. "But yeh can' read meh!"
The whole bucket of flour went over my head next. "Ah don' need t'," she laughed as I chased her out the door and into the expansive yard with my bucket. "Not when any chil' can see de stars in yo' eyes."
Oh that was it.
Just as I was about to pounce, a large wall got in my way. As I was falling on my backside, I realized this wall was soft and warm… and coming down with me.
"Chere!" a surprised voice cried out. It took me a moment to register the fact that I hadn't hit the ground, but held by a terribly bewildered Remy LeBeau.
A terribly bewildered Remy LeBeau… with a bucket of flour on his head.
End Part One
A/N: Yeah, this was supposed to be a one-shot, but ended up morphed into a two-shot, much like Exodus. Oh well. Next part up soon.
I do this with my other stories, let's see how many can guess correctly. Put in a word for the X: I wish the X would come and take you away right now!