All Through the Night
Disclaimer: I don't own X-men.
A/N: This is completely AU; basically I took the characters and stuck them into the French Revolution. I suppose it could be called a cross-over with histroy.
Remy was staring up at a huge, looming scaffold, crusted in dried blood. His stomach heaved at the sight of the gleaming, silver blade of the guillotine. A girl was being dragged up the steps toward the deadly metal. Her brown hair was whisked about by the wind, and her hands flew about as she beat at her captors, trying to make them let her go, fighting for her life even though she knew it was hopeless.
The men dragging her—coarse, peasant men with leering, red faces and goblin-like expressions—threw her roughly to the ground. One of them forced her head down into the wooden groove cut for her neck. Remy fought to do something, anything, but somehow he was bound to the spot. He couldn't move, couldn't blink, couldn't do anything. He was forced to watch helplessly as the men pulled the cord to release the blade, as the blade whistled down the rope, as the girl screamed, as…
"Kitty!" Rémy LeBeau sat up in bed with a cry. He staggered over to the rough, wooden bedside table and stared into his cracked, glass mirror. His face was ashen-pale and his hands were trembling. He tried to remind himself that it was just a dream, that it hadn't happened, but a nagging part of his mind reminded him that what he really meant was that it hadn't happened yet. And it could. If he didn't free his little sister soon…he couldn't bare to finish the thought.
But I will free her soon! he thought. I have to. Normally, when he spoke, his grammar was poor as though he were trying to speak a foreign language, but it was an act. If he wanted to, he could easily think—or speak—quite normally.
"Gambit!" the gruff, deep voice of his comrade, Wolverine, called. They all had code names, for it was far safer than using their own name, when there was always the chance that some damned peasant would recognize the name and cause them to be hunted down. Not that they were really so different from the peasants anymore. Gambit thought back to just a few months ago, when the Revolution had begun. He pictured himself then: a spoilt, foppish youth of twenty, whose mild brown eyes kept an expression of innocence, while his hair flopped loosely about his shoulders, his clothes of the most expensive materials money could buy.
Now? How things had changed since then. Gambit looked in the mirror again and laughed harshly. He had lost a lot of weight—and gained some back, pure, solid muscle. His clothes were coarse sackcloth that rubbed against his filthy skin. His hair was tied back as tightly as possible in a pony-tail, and his brown eyes glowed with a fey light, making them seem almost red.
"Gambit!" the shout came again. Gambit shouted back, "Coming!", threw on his shirt, and clattered down the stairs.
"What be the matter, Gambit wonder?" he asked Wolverine calmly.
"This lady here," Wolverine jerked a thumb behind him at a woman standing in the main hallway of their secret base. She was tall, and slim, and willowy. Her brown hair was pulled back from her face, except for two shorter locks, where it was adorned with streaks of white. Her green eyes were menacing and angry. Gambit looked her up and down, sized her up, and decided she'd be a dangerous person to cross.
Mildly, he walked toward her. "Gambit wondering what a lovely lady like yourself is doin' among the likes of us?" he queried, his voice deceptively smooth.
"I came because I want to fight the peasants. Isn't that the reason everybody comes?"
"Gambit doesn't know why everybody come. Gambit only know why Gambit is here."
"And why is that?" she shot back.
"Gambit not know cher well enough to tell her that, yet, now does he?"
"I suppose not," the woman admitted grudgingly. "So, can I join?"
Gambit cocked his head to one side, considering. "Gambit tell you what, cher. He give you two day's trial. If he not satisfied, you go! If he is, you stay, okay?"
"Two day's trial?" she asked skeptically.
"That what Gambit say."
"Oh, hell, what have I got to lose?"
"So you agree?"
"Oui, I agree."
Gambit held out his hand and took hers. He had intended merely to shake it, but for some reason, he brought it to his lips instead. "Welcome to my home, ma cherie."
Kitty LeBeau was more frightened than she had ever been in her life before. Months ago, when the Bastille had been overthrown, she had never even envisioned herself being captured and thrown into a dark, damp prison cell, without her brother, and without hope. She lay, shivering with fear and misery, on a moist straw pallet near one side of the room. There were other men and women in the room, too, most of them aristocrats like herself, but they all seemed to accept their fate with impunity—or at least, they seemed to believe it was beneath their dignity to show their feelings.
Kitty almost wished that Rémy were here with her. At least then she'd have someone to hold on to, to lean on. But whenever such a thought came into her head, she pushed it resolutely away again. If Rémy were here, he would be going to die next week, just like her. And Kitty couldn't bear the thought of his death. He was her big brother, and he was the dearest, kindest brother that anyone could ever hope to have.
Kitty put her head in her arms and started to weep with fright and despair. She was so unhappy and terrified. She was going to die, and she was only just barely fifteen! She was going to die! Her sobs became louder, and her whole body was racked with shuddering. I'm so frightened, she thought desperately. I don't want to die! Please, God, I don't want to die!
A gentle hand was laid on her shoulder. Kitty blinked her tearful eyes and looked up into the face of a girl about Rémy's age. She was a slim girl, her face thin and pointed. Her eyes were hazel, and the hair that cascaded down her back, in what would have been flowing tresses had they not been so dirty, was red. She wore a simple white dress, torn and stained with mud and dirt. Her eyes were red from crying, like Kitty's.
"Hello," she said. Her face contracted as if in pain as she took in Kitty's bedraggled appearance.
"My name is Jean. Jean Grey," she held out her hand, and Kitty took it.
"I'm K-kitty LeBeau," Kitty managed to reply.
"You remind me of my little sister," Jean said, and then a quick, gasping sob burst from her lips, as though of overwhelming sorrow.
"Wh-what's the matter?" Kitty asked, for tears had begun to run down the older girl's cheeks.
"I miss her," Jean said, biting her lip as she wiped the tears away with a thin, almost transparent-looking hand. Kitty smiled bleakly at her. "I miss my brother," she whispered, almost inaudibly.
"Is he…is he alive?" Jean asked. Kitty nodded, the smile turning almost happy. "Oui, and he's the most wonderful person in the world! If anyone can get me out of here, it's him."
"I wish…I wish my sister were alive," Jean murmured, pulling Kitty's head to rest on her shoulder.
"What happened to her?"
"She was scheduled for Madame la Guillotine before me, that's all." Jean's eyes turned hard. "And if I get my hands on any of the b—" she broke off suddenly, glancing down at Kitty. "Um…never mind."
"Mama never let Rémy swear, either…Mama!" the word came out in a sorrowful half-shriek, and Kitty buried her face in Jean's shoulder and began to sob once more.
"Shhh, it's all right, shhh," Jean stroked Kitty's hair and hugged her closer. "I've lost my sister, and you've lost your mother, but I'll…I'll take care of you."
"We're going to die!" Kitty wept.
A spasm of despair past over Jean's troubled countenance. "I know, Kitty," she said quietly. "But perhaps we'll get another chance at life, after this is over. Fifteen is too soon to be letting go." She paused, and then added, so quietly it was almost impossible to hear, "So is nineteen."
Kitty swallowed hard. "I'll try to be brave," she said to Jean.
"Why don't you go to sleep now?" Jean suggested, her voice only trembling very slightly.
"I'll tell you what. I used to sing lullabies to my little sister, before…before…just before. I can sing you one now."
"I'd like that," Kitty replied, sleepily. It was late, and the fright, and the tears had worn her out.
"All right. Lie down," Jean instructed. Kitty did as she said.
"Now close your eyes and relax."
She put her hand on Kitty's head, affectionately ruffling the younger girl's hair. "While the moon her watching is keeping/All through the night/While the weary world is sleeping/All through the night/O'er my bosom gently stealing/Visions of delight revealing/Breathes a pure and holy feeling/All through the night."
She heard Kitty's steady breathing and realized the girl had fallen asleep. Jean sighed a little, wishing that things could have been different. She and Kitty might have been great friends if they'd met under different circumstances. Her little sister and Kitty might have been great friends, if they'd met at all. Suddenly, a voice spoke from the corner of the room. "That vas…beautiful." The speaker had a strong German accent.
"Who is it?" Jean called out, not without a tremor in her voice. Although she had told Kitty that they might have a second chance at life, she was still frightened. Frightened very badly indeed.
"It is just me," a young boy of about Kitty's age stepped out of the shadows. He was pale, as they all were, but Jean sensed that it was his natural skin color, rather than a prison pallor. His hair was a dark, ravens'-wing black, so black that it shone almost blue in the dim light filtering in from the high, barred windows in the wall.
"What are you doing here?" Jean asked. "I mean, you are German, aren't you? Not French?"
"That is true. But the French are a very paranoid people in these troubled times. They believe I am a spy from my native land. So I am sentenced to die in vun veek. I am very frightened," he spoke simply, his eyes wide and innocent.
"So are we all," Jean replied.
"Yes. I vas brought up to be a good Christian, but sometimes I vonder vy things like this happen in the vorld."
Jean shook her head, suddenly overwhelmingly weary. "I don't know, my friend. I just don't know."
"My name is Kurt. Kurt Wagner. And you are?" He performed an elaborate bow.
"I'm Jean Grey."
"I am pleased to meet you. Vould you maybe…sing that song again?" he asked timidly, coming forward.
"All right." Jean voice rose into a silver crescendo in the darkness. A young prison guard, peering in through the door, saw her bathed in the silvery moonlight, tears running down her cheeks like pearls. Convulsively, the boy's hands gripped the bars on the door.
"So, Gambit say to you, dat we gotta go save our loved ones from de guillotine!"
Gambit threw his hat into the air with a flourish, finishing a long open-air speech to his many followers. He was standing on a tall, rickety, wooden box he had set up some days ago. His small band of fighters were circled around him, cheering at the top of their lungs. At the very back of the crowd, he could see the new recruit, Rogue, she called herself. She was standing with her arms folded across her chest, one hand on the gun that hung at her side.
She was awfully pretty, Gambit conceded. That long, thick, brown hair, and those burning green eyes…but he wasn't entirely sure she was trustworthy. He would have to keep an eye on her in future. Suddenly, from the rooftops near at hand there was a yell.
"I've found you now, Aristo!" The man speaking had popped his head up from behind a chimney pot, a peasant, but a peasant holding a gun pointed right at Gambit's heart. His finger was already on the trigger.
For Gambit, time seemed to slow down. He looked to the left and right, but realized he was a prime target, with nowhere to take cover. One small corner of his mind took note of the fact and he thought distractedly that if he survived this, he would, without doubt, rectify his error. His band of freedom fighters had not come armed to a such a 'rally', and Gambit's brain simply couldn't come up with a feasible plan. He stood frozen, as the peasant's finger tightened on the trigger.
Bang! The report was a loud, dull sound in the quiet evening air. The shot took the peasant full in the chest, and he spasmed and fell backward with a thud. Gambit winced at the sound and looked around to see what had saved him. The newly recruited woman stood on the edge of the crowd, coolly replacing her gun in its holster.
"Gambit t'ink dat he owe his life to you, cher," Gambit said, a little later, when they were both positioned safely inside the house, on firm ground.
The woman shrugged. "It wasn't anything," she said, shaking her head and smiling.
"Well, dat may be de case, but Gambit still want to know de name of his rescuer."
She hesitated for a moment. "I'm Rogue," she stated flatly.
"And de real name of ma cherie is…"
"Do I have to tell you everthin'?"
"Oh, I t'ink you do, cher, I t'ink you do, if you going to join Gambit's little band of freedom fighters."
"You mean you'll take me?"
"Gambit don't say things dat he don't mean, cher."
She sighed. "D'accord. My name is Marie. And yours is…?"
"My name is Rémy." Suddenly, he dropped all of his pretensions, his accent, his swaggering walk, everything. "I'm glad to have you on the team, Marie."
"Nice to be here, cher," she mocked.
Gambit grinned at her, "Now, don't start getting cheeky on Gambit yet, cher," he smiled, going back to his normal, adopted persona.
Rogue/Marie brought her hand to her head in a mock salute, "Very well, mon capitaine!"
Scott Summers wasn't sure what he ought to do. The first eighteen-and-a-half years of his life had been lived in extreme poverty as a peasant, one of France's unlucky millions. When the Revolution had come, near his nineteenth birthday, he had welcomed it as a day to make the aristocrats pay for what they had done to him and his family. But as day after day wore on, and there was talk of more killings, and more guillotinings, Scott began to feel slightly sick.
It was true that the aristocrats had misused the peasants, but the retribution the peasants were wreaking couldn't possible be described as just or right, could it? Scott wasn't really sure. He just didn't know what to do. And then he saw the girl.
She was around his age, her long auburn hair filthy from days of living in prison. Her white dress was ripped and torn from ill-treatment. And she was scared. He could see that. Whenever he was on duty, and he looked into her prison cell, she was shaking with fear, even as she gave out words of comfort to the boy and girl who seemed to almost be her family. Now, Scott could barely stand it any longer. The girl had left the younger girl and the boy to talk between themselves and she was huddled in a dark corner near the door, where Scott could see her plainly. Her legs were drawn up to her chin, and her whole body was shaking. Her lips moved in the Lord's Prayer.
Scott cleared his throat suddenly, and the girl turned to him. "Oh!" she exclaimed, startled. Then she turned deathly pale, and hope receded from her face. "Have you…have you come to take me away?" she asked. Scott could see she was dreading the answer, so he hastened to reply, "N-no, n-no, um…Mademoiselle, I was just making sure that you were comfortable."
"Q-quite comfortable, thank you, Monsieur," she replied, her voice shaking, but her eyes still contriving to sear him to his very soul.
"I wondered if you might like a-a gift," Scott babbled. Mon Dieu, he thought. This girl is like an angel.
"Seeing as I shall only live for another five d-days, Monsieur, I hardly see the point."
"I—I heard you singing last night, and it was so beautiful, I thought you might like this,"
He dangled a crescent-shaped silver pendant through the bars of the prison. "It-it's to represent the moon, you know."
She smiled at him for the first time, gently. "Yes, I know."
"It was…my mother's."
Scott put his hand to his mouth in shock. "Please,…um…Jean, you must forgive me! I didn't know!"
"No," she shook her head sadly. "I didn't think you did."
"A-a friend gave it to me. He said he…found it—uh…somewhere."
"On a body, right?"
Her huge eyes looked sadly up at him. "I already knew."
"I-I'm so sorry."
"Why be sorry? I'm just another aristocrat, just another life to be thrown away in a few days. You shouldn't get emotionally involved with condemned prisoners, Monsieur."
The bitterness in her voice was almost tangible as she spoke.
She turned away before Scott could finish saying, "But I want to."
"You're not at all angry at these peasants?" Kitty asked Kurt curiously.
"I am not angry. To be angry vould be to be unchristian. I feel pity for them, for they vill be the vuns to come out the vorst in the long run."
"Do you really believe that? And do you believe-do you believe that dying isn't…isn't the end?" Kitty asked, her voice breaking piteously.
"That is vhat I believe, yes."
"Oh, Kurt, I'm so frightened."
She curled against him for comfort and warmth and Kurt felt a strange sensation, a feeling of protectiveness, of belonging, and of something else, something he couldn't quite identify. He put his arm around Kitty.
"Just because I believe in something doesn't mean I'm not frightened," he said to her. "I am very frightened. Very frightened indeed. But I promise, Kitty, I-I…" his eyes stared into hers, piercing her to her very soul, "I vill protect you."
Kitty's shaking slowly eased and ceased. She put her arms around Kurt's neck and looked up solemnly into his face, "And I won't ever leave you, Kurt. That's a promise."
Gambit rubbed his hands together, a nervous gesture, as he dressed and put his pistol and sword at his side. Today, he and Rogue were going to find out when Kitty's execution was scheduled for. Rogue was going to slip into the peasants' records in the Bastille and look through the records, while he, Gambit, caused a very dangerous diversion.
"Ready, ma cherie?" he called to Rogue up the stairs.
"I'm ready!" she called, and then clattered down the stairs. Her green eyes were lit with a fiercely burning flame, and her face was white with nervous excitement.
"D'accord. Follow Gambit, cher."
The Bastille was an imposing stone fortress, set upon a high cliff. Gambit thought how impressive it looked from where he and Rogue were standing—how impressive, and how intimidating. He took a deep breath.
"Okay, cher, the plan starts now. You know what to do."
Rogue nodded, her chin set with determination, her eyes flashing fire. Gambit gave her a quick pat on the back and turned to make his slow, tortuous way up the path leading to the prison.
"Who are you?" a guard demanded. Gambit's eyes sparkled dangerously. The exciting part was beginning. He doffed his plumed hat, sweeping into a low bow. "The name is Gambit. Pleased to meet you, mon ami!"
"Gambit!" the guard cried, bringing his pistol up, but he had no time to use it. Gambit brought his sword up and sliced the gun from the guard's hand. With an infuriated roar, the peasant pulled his own sword from his belt, shouting for reinforcements as he did so. The prison erupted into chaos as guards poured from the exits toward Gambit, all brandishing their swords. Behind them, a thin, lithe figure slipped quietly through the shadows. Gambit grinned. Rogue was holding up her end of the plan. Now, if he could only keep them occupied.
"Looks like Gambit is outnumbered, mes amis! Gambit t'ink dat maybe it time to leave!"
He began to back away, his sword held up to the light, where it shone and scintillated menacingly. The peasants rushed forward with an angry shout. Steel clashed on steel with a ringing sound. One advantage Gambit had over these peasants was that, as an aristocrat, he had been trained extensively in the use of the sword. On the other hand, some of the peasants had guns that they were reaching for. Gambit swore, hoping that Rogue would have enough time to find Kitty's name in among the files and files of condemned people's names.
Gambit saw a gleam of light out of the corner of his eye and glanced over to it, parrying a blow and retaliating with a swipe to the unlucky man's temple as he did so. The peasant dropped to the floor without a sound. Gambit caught a glimpse of an open window and leaped backwards, hoping desperately he had not misjudged the distance. His boots came down solidly on stone, and he silently breathed a prayer of thanks. He saw one of the surprised peasants raising a gun, and he threw himself backward off the window-ledge, twisting in midair as he did so, until he was in a swan dive. He could see black water rushing toward him. Vaguely, he heard the sound of a report, and of the whistling of the wind, but it was all very quiet and far away. There was almost no splash as his body slipped into the water like a falling missile.
The water was cold, almost icy. Gambit saw the sandy bottom of the moat, the waving green weeds in the water as he kicked off the bottom. He shot out of the water, stumbled slightly, turned, and ran away, hoping that Rogue would be all right.
"I've done as you said, sir," Marie Montaigne's eyes were downcast, and dulled as she replied to her senior officer.
"You've infiltrated this group of rebellious aristocrats, this little band lead by the infamous 'Gambit'?"
"And you have gained his trust?"
"Well done, agent Montaigne. Now, let's see. He sent you to find out the date of his Katherine Lebeau's execution, is that right, Mademoiselle?"
"All right. Her execution is scheduled for the fifth of the month. You may tell that to this 'Gambit'. Try and find out his real name if you can, and, at all costs, find out and report to us his plan to free this Katherine."
Montaigne bit her lip before replying in a clear voice, "Oui, Monsieur."
Gambit paced up and down in the hallway, his brow furrowed in anxiety.
"Hey, Rémy, you should get yourself some rest," a gravelly voice said. Wolverine, one of the few of Gambit's band to know his real name, placed a compassionate hand on the man's shoulder.
"Gambit is worried," Gambit replied.
" 'Bout Rogue, I suppose?"
"Oui. If anything has happened to la femme, den it's Gambit's fault."
"It's not your fault. She volunteered for this mission, remember?"
"Gambit remember. He should never have let her come."
"You have a soft spot for her, don't you?"
Rémy made a noncommittal gesture. "Gambit is liking dis woman, yes."
"I thought so, mate. I don't know what to tell you. If she comes back, well and good. If she doesn't…"
"If she doesn't, Gambit will go back for her."
"If you say so, mate."
There was a loud rapping on the door. Both Wolverine and Rémy turned, but it was the latter who hurried to the door and opened it.
"Marie!" he cried in glad relief. Wolverine grinned and quietly backed out of the room as Gambit flung his arms around the startled woman and drew her to him for a kiss.
"Oh!" Rogue cried in surprise and pleasure.
Gambit blushed, blood rushing to his face. "Gambit apologizes, ma cherie," he said, embarrassed.
"Oh, n-no, that's okay, I mean…" Rogue babbled.
"Did Marie like dat?"
"Uh…well…yes and no…I mean…"
Gambit gently placed a finger on her lips and then bent down and kissed her again. Rogue gave a slight half-sigh of ecstasy.
"Gambit will escort de cher to her quarters, hey, Marie?"
He crooked his arm and held it out to her for her to lean on. Marie Montaigne took it with a sigh that was half-happiness, half-guilt.
"Kurt…it's tomorrow." Kitty's eyes were wide with barely contained fear as her trembling lips told Kurt all he needed to know.
"You and me?"
"I…I just know it's me tomorrow."
"Then I vill go too, vhether or not it is mine turn."
Kitty looked up at him and smiled, "Oh, Kurt…thank you. That means a lot to me."
"No vun should have to die alone."
"No one should have to die at all, Kurt."
"That is true, but the peasants have been dying for years from starvation, Kitty."
"Yes, but does that make it right for them to kill us?"
Kurt looked at her solemnly, his big eyes wide. "I don't think so, Kitty. I don't know, but I don't think so. At any rate, I promise that I vill never leave you, Kitty."
Kitty laughed a little, imitating an earlier conversation, "And I'll protect you, Kurt."
Kurt smiled in recognition, "Yes, you vill, meine Freundin."
Kitty's eyes dropped a little. "Is that all I am?"
"Is vhat all you are?"
"I don't know. Vhat vould you like to be?"
Kitty nestled against Kurt, her eyes looking up at him adoringly. "I love you, Kurt."
Kurt stared at her, his eyes full of pain, "Oh, Kitty."
"Yes, I know. We're going to die tomorrow. It's just—just not fair, is it?"
"No, no, it's not fair," Kurt agreed. He bent forward…
…when Jean returned, she found Kitty and Kurt locked in each others' arms. She smiled and quietly tiptoed away.
The young guard—was his name Scott?—was waiting for her when she reached the door.
"Oh, hello," Jean said dully.
"Hello," he said. Then, he blushed, "I-uh-I brought something for you."
He dropped a white rose into her lap. "Oh!" Jean exclaimed, startled, and for the first time her heart warmed toward the boy. "It's—it's beautiful, Scott. Will you do something for me?"
He was leaning on the bars, drinking in her every word, "Oui, if you want me to."
"Take the rose away."
"Why? Don't you like it?"
"I-I do. I just don't want it to die. If you could put it in some water for me…?"
"Of course, Jean."
She smiled up at Scott, making his heart throb with pity and his conscience start pricking him again. "Thanks, um, Scott."
"Cher, wake up," Gambit shook Rogue's shoulder. She blinked her eyes sleepily and rolled over to look up at him.
"Hmmm? What do you want?" she asked, tired.
Gambit was already fully dressed. "Cher, you gotta get up. Dis is de day. We have to go free Gambit's little sister."
Rogue sat bolt up right. "Your sister!"
"Oui, cher. Didn't Gambit tell you dat?"
Rogue shook her head. "Katherine LeBeau is your sister!"
"Oui, ma cherie. You weren't getting jealous, were you?"
His name. His first name is Rémy and his sister is Katherine LeBeau—his name is Rémy LeBeau! I have to tell the Chief! Yet even as Rogue's elation with having discovered Gambit's true name grew, her guilt grew tenfold as well. She had somehow assumed that Gambit was trying to rescue his girlfriend, or something, and hadn't taken his advances all that seriously. Now, though…
He bent down to kiss her on the lips, gently, but to Rogue it felt as though he were pressing a hundred hot irons to her heart. Her stomach churned, and she almost broke out into a cold sweat. Gambit took her hand and twirled her merrily out of bed.
"We have to go to breakfast, ma cherie," he said.
"Oh…I…uh…I have to go get something from…my old home, first," Rogue lied immediately.
"Okay. You know dat wherever you go is okay with Gambit."
Rogue turned away quickly before he could see the blush of shame on her cheeks.
The prison door clanged open with a loud, ringing sound, to admit three guards. One was an older man, with white hair and a stern, angry countenance. One was a middle-aged man, who looked approximately the same as the first. The third, however, was young, and his step was quick, and his eyes were hidden with shame. The first man produced a declaration from his pocket and read, loud enough to wake any still-sleeping prisoners, "Today is your day to go to Madame la Guillotine. I read your names and that is the order in which you will go! Understood?"
The prisoners were too petrified to nod, but the man took their stunned silence as acquiescence. "Number one: Katherine LeBeau!"
Kitty gave a slight gasp and clutched Kurt. He hugged her close to him.
"Number two: Kurt Wagner!"
Kitty looked up at Kurt, her eyes full of pain, fear, and love. "I think this is it, Kurt," she said quietly.
"Don't say that, Kitty. Maybe ve can escape."
Kitty shook her head miserably. "I doubt it—unless Rémy comes."
"Number three: Jean Grey!"
Jean flinched as her name was called, and Kitty reached over and squeezed her hand. The third guard's face went slightly green, and he looked as though he wanted to be sick. The man with the piece of paper droned on and on, but Kitty, Kurt, Jean, and probably Scott, didn't hear a word of it. Kitty hugged Kurt tightly and didn't let go. Kurt rested his chin on Kitty's dark head and stared with wide, innocent eyes at the guards, hoping to inflame some modicum of guilt. Neither of the older two noticed him, and the younger one just gave a strangled, choking sound and turned away. Jean looked at Kurt and smiled, then turned her gaze fully on the young guard, whose shoulders were shaking.
The other two guards marched into the room and dragged the prisoners upright, prodding them with bayonets, until they lined up in the order in which they'd been called.
Kitty squeezed Kurt's hand until she had almost cut off the circulation, but when Kurt looked down at her, her dark brown eyes were slightly dazed, as though she'd received a blow on the head. He bent over and kissed the top of her head. Kitty smiled at him, but her eyes remained large and unfocused.
I'm leading him to his death. How can I do this? Rogue thought, wracked with the pain of guilt. Gambit was holding her hand as the two marched at the front of the procession toward the guillotine in the square.
I have to. It's my duty.
"Cher, Gambit have something to say. If today don't work out, den Gambit just want cher to know dat he love her very much."
I can't. I love him! Oh, Mere de Dieu, what do I do?
Even from this distance, she saw her chief, saw him looking at her.
Even if I told Rémy to run now, it would probably be too late.
"We going to free Gambit's baby sister, and den we going to go live in England, where dey don't kill everybody just because someone was cruel. At least dey wouldn't stoop to kill a child!"
A child? How old? Oh, Mere de Dieu. Oh, mon Dieu.
"She's barely fifteen, you know, Rogue. And they're going to kill her!" In his excitement, Gambit dropped his normal, nonchalant accent, and Rogue saw just how much the child meant to him. She turned to Gambit just as they entered the square, whispered urgently to him, "Rémy, no, they know you're here! They know—"
A bayonet poked Gambit in the back, and he turned, startled.
"What is de meaning of this?" he demanded, but in a genial tone of voice.
Rogue moaned slightly as she recognized the chief. "Good day, Monsieur Gambit—or should I say Rémy LeBeau, who will soon be joining his sister on the scaffold? We're so pleased that you could come."
Gambit stepped hurriedly in front of Rogue. "Don't hurt her," he said.
The chief began to laugh. "Why should I hurt her, Monsieur? When she is one of my own agents?"
Gambit turned to Rogue, thunderstruck. Miserably, she nodded and stepped forward, half-expecting to feel his hands at her throat. After all, she'd make one hell of a good hostage. But she felt nothing, and when she turned to look at Gambit, his arms were hanging loosely by his side, his mouth was open, and his brown eyes were duller and more open than she had ever seen them. Then he pulled himself together. "You sure led Gambit on a merry dance, didn't you, cher?" he said bitterly.
"No, Gambit, I…"
"You don't need to deny it. Gambit and Kitty will both be dead pretty soon." She saw the pain in his eyes as he spoke of Kitty's death and her heart ached for the girl.
Kitty clung to Kurt's hand as they were driven through the streets on a rickety wooden hay cart—a tumbril.
"Oh, Kurt, we will see each other again, won't we?"
"Y-yes, Kitty, of course ve vill."
"Nobody can ever be sure, liebchen."
"What does that mean?"
"Vell, literally it means 'little love'. It is the equivalent of your 'cher'."
Kitty smiled. "Oh."
Jean sat by herself near the front of the tumbril, her arms around her knees. She was shivering slightly, as though she were quite cold. Scott saw her and longed to put his arm around her, offer words of comfort, go with her to her death, but he knew he couldn't. He couldn't help at all, could he? Or maybe he could…
The tumbril ground to a halt just in front of the guillotine. Two strong guards grabbed Kitty and hoisted her out of the cart. She glanced to the left and right, and, to her shock, saw Rémy standing there, in chains.
"Rémy!" Kitty screamed and tried to run toward him, but was held back by the two guards. Kitty began to fight, kicking, hitting, and biting, but she was no match for the burly men. They dragged her toward the scaffold, her hair in disarray, her frightened eyes looking from Rémy to Kurt, tears running down her cheeks.
Rémy stared up at the huge, looming scaffold, crusted in dried blood. No dream this time. His stomach heaved at the sight of the gleaming, silver blade of the guillotine. Kitty was dragged up the steps toward the deadly metal. Her brown hair was whisked about by the wind, and her hands flew about as she beat at her captors, trying to make them let her go, fighting for Rémy's life, for her life, probably for the life of the boy in the cart whose face watched her progress with a stricken expression, the life of everyone there, even though she knew it was hopeless.
The men dragging her—coarse, peasant men with leering, red faces and goblin-like expressions—threw her roughly to the ground. One of them forced her head down into the wooden groove cut for her neck. Rémy fought to do something, anything, but the chains bound to the spot. He pulled against them, but he couldn't break them, he couldn't even twist his head away. He was forced to watch helplessly as the men pulled the cord to release the blade, as the blade whistled down the rope, as Kitty screamed, as…
…a boy leaped forward, knocking the guards out of the way and whisking Kitty back just as the knife fell. It was Scott. His eyes were big and round, and he held his bayonet pointed at the guards, while his back was to the guillotine. The guards began to close in on him. A lithe figure ran suddenly up behind them and knocked one of them over, grabbing his bayonet. Jean knelt down and sawed through the ropes binding her hands together. Kurt was close behind.
Gambit closed his eyes as the brave little band converged at the top of the scaffold. Anyone could see they were hopelessly outnumbered. He couldn't bare to watch his baby sister and her three friends be slaughtered mercilessly by the guards. Suddenly, there was a voice in his ear, "Want to join the fight, Rémy?"
Gambit's head whipped round, to see Rogue slash through the chains that bound him and his comrades. With a glad shout, Gambit wrenched a bayonet from the hands of one of the guards and felled a man who had been about to slice Kitty in half. The rest of Gambit's merry band was not far behind.
The tide of battle had been turned. Gambit and his followers were holding their own, and they had freed today's cartload of aristocrats, who were pitching in with a will to fend off the blood-thirsty peasants. Gambit was backing them up towards one of the tumbrils. He vaulted quickly in, followed by most of his band and their new recruits. Kitty, her eyes shining with devotion, leaped into the front and cracked her whip over the horses to make them go. And then Gambit saw something that made his blood run cold.
He hadn't given a thought to where Rogue had gone after she'd freed them; he'd vaguely assumed she was fighting with them somewhere. Now, he realized that that wasn't true. Rogue was being dragged forward by the peasants, who were shouting, "Traitor!" at her in varying degrees of rudeness. She was being dragged to the guillotine.
Gambit felt his heart leap into his mouth. "Kitty!" he yelled.
"Oui?" his sister shouted back.
"Give me a horse!"
"A horse! Give me a horse!"
"Um…oui…" Kitty reached out with her free hand and slashed at the reins holding one of the horses to the cart, giving it a slap on the rump to get it to go the other direction. Gambit leaped onto the bare back of the horse, catching a fistful of mane, galloping back toward the guillotine.
The peasants scattered before him, frightened of being trampled by the horse in its haste. Gambit saw the scaffold looming up, saw Rogue's frightened figure as she was thrust toward the guillotine; suddenly, he was there—Rogue's arm was in his hand—and he swung her up and onto his tall mount. Rogue gave a cry of surprise and pain and landed on the horse. Gambit turned the horse around and began to ride in the other direction. There was a loud report, and Gambit cursed as the first bullet found its mark.
The cart was just ahead, but the pain in his arm was overwhelming. He saw Kitty's frightened face gazing backward at him., flung himself and Rogue forward, hit with a shocking, jolting pain in his arm, and then, mercifully, he blacked out.
Gambit blinked his eyes. There was a buzzing in his ears, which cleared slowly, until he could hear a voice saying, "Is he waking up? Is he really truly waking up?" and another voice, slightly deeper, replying, "He certainly seems to be, Liebchen."
The first voice made an irritated sound and suddenly Gambit was aware of a face just above his. He blinked his eyes again to clear them.
"Kitty?" he said weakly. The girl threw her arms around his neck and clung to him, sobbing, "Oh, Rémy, Rémy, I thought I was going to die! I thought I'd never see you again!"
"Dere, dere, mon petit chou, it's all right. See? Gambit—Rémy is going to be…" he winced as he leaned on his right arm, which he realized, was probably broken, "…all right, in a little while."
Kitty managed to pull herself off her older brother, rubbing at swollen, red eyes. She smiled a little, like a sunbeam breaking through after the worst of a rainstorm is past.
"Um…Rémy, I'd like you to meet Kurt Wagner," she said shyly. The boy behind her was her age, or perhaps slightly older. He had chin-length blue-black hair, and fascinating dark eyes. He smiled nervously at Gambit.
"Erm…pleased to meet you?" he said in a heavy German accent.
"My pleasure," Gambit extended his left hand, looking down at his bandaged right shoulder and shaking his head. "Dat blasted peasant, he shot Gambit in de arm he uses to write with. Should have told him to aim for Gambit's left arm."
Kitty giggled a little. Then she looked at Kurt and blushed and said, "Um…Rémy, Kurt and I may possibly, that is, when we're a little older…um…er…"
Gambit looked from one to the other of the young couple. "What can Gambit say? You have my full permission, little sister."
"Ooh, thanks, Gambit!" Kitty squealed, giving him a peck on the cheek and jumping into Kurt's arms. Their lips connected, and the boy swung Kitty around in a full circle before setting her gently down on the ground. Gambit smiled at them, and also at the girl with the long red hair and the young guard who were standing just inside the door, looking embarrassed.
"Gambit doesn't believe he's had the pleasure of meeting these two?"
The girl smiled, a sad smile, Gambit thought, full of pain, but he could see the beginnings of happiness to. "I'm very pleased to meet you. My name is Jean Grey."
"Um…" the guard stuttered. "I-I'm Scott Summers."
"Really," Jean turned to him with a glint in her eye. "You never told me that."
"We will simply have to get reacquainted," Jean smiled coquettishly at Scott.
"Breakfast is READY!" bellowed Logan's strident voice from the bottom of the stairs. Jean swirled out of the room, just ahead of Scott, who followed her with his mouth open. Kitty and Kurt went out more sedately, hands clasped tightly together, Kitty turning to smile at Gambit before going down to breakfast.
There was only one solitary person left standing in the room, cloaked in shadow.
"Marie, cher, is dat you?" Gambit asked.
"Oui, Rémy, it's me." Her voice was despairing and full of such pain that Gambit's heart ached for her.
"Well, come into de light, so Gambit can see his cherie."
She stepped forward, head bowed.
Gambit put his good hand under her chin and brought her face up to his. "What's de matter, cher?"
She turned her face away again. "Goodbye, Rémy."
She stared at him askance, as though it were obvious, "Because I'm leaving."
"Now why should you do dat? You want to leave?"
Rogue turned her face to the side, trying to blink back the tears that threatened to overflow. "No, Rémy, I don't."
"Why are you leaving, den?"
"Because you must hate me, after what I've done!"
"What have you done, cher?" Gambit asked gently.
"I betrayed you! I…I…"
"You made a mistake, cher. You were on the wrong side to begin with. But den you found l'amour, and, even though you were a little late, you came through for us."
"J'aime tu, cher."
"Rémy…really? Vraiment? Still?"
"Marie…really. Vraiment. Still."
He pulled her down toward him, and their lips touched gently.
"I guess we goin' to breakfast, now, den, cher?"
"I guess we are, Rémy."
"And maybe to de church after breakfast?"
"Maybe," Marie murmured happily.