One part X-Men, One part Transporter, two parts True Romance, shaken well on the rocks and poured into Microsoft Word new Remy/Ro Adventure
All characters belong to Marvel Comics. I've taken some creative liberties in origins as this is an Alter verse tale.
Rated M for bad language, violence, and maybe sexual situations. We'll see how it unfolds. As of 8/3/06, I went through and updated minor things to keep with continuity.
"Nothing will bother
you will do what you want to.
Laughs and loves and hopes and dreams,
action will supply the means.
Living for something,
and you're forgiving, nothing,
cause you're living for something."
-Life is an Adventure by The Violent Femmes
Ororo Munroe woke surrounded in total darkness, a steady roar filling her ears. She was unbearably hot, sweat was pouring off of her body, matting her hair and clothes to her skin. The first thing that registered with her was the throbbing pain in the back of her skull. Tape covered her mouth, inhibiting her breathing and her arms were bound behind her back, her restraints digging into her wrists. Zip-ties. Not ropes to be untied nor handcuffs to be picked but unforgiving plastic. At least her legs were free.
The scratchy surface of the trunk mat against her face verified her fear; panic setting in as she understood she was in the trunk of a car. Tears stung her eyes and her breath came in quick succession along with the thundering of her heart- her surroundings closing in on her as she fought to control her claustrophobia. How did she get here?
Fragments of memories flooded her mind like flashes of photos: The stench of the monstrously large man with his arm around her neck and his hot breath on her neck, the blood everywhere, being thrown against a wall, pain in the back of her head accompanied by a flash of white and then darkness. She wept.
To compound her fears, she felt the car easing to a stop and the roar died down to only the idle of the engine before the engine was killed. The slam of a car door startled her, and the sound of whistling, a tune she did not recognize, filled her ears. There was the jingling of keys and some scraping as the key was jammed into the lock.
Almost immediately, sunlight flooded into the trunk, forcing her to squint against the glare of the sun. All she could make out was the silhouette of a tall, thin man- nothing like the foreboding monster that initially kidnapped her. The smoke of cigarettes hit her nose, pervading the clean air she was desperate for. "Y' got t' be kidding me! I an effin' fille? Sacré bleu!" he hissed.
The man rolled a slew of French vulgarities off his tongue as he tossed his cigarette to the ground and stomped it out with great frustration. She knew very little French but she could read faces and understood vocal tones. Seeing the anger in him combined with the adrenaline coursing through her veins made the decision for her and she pulled herself up with great difficulty, attempting to leap out of her prison and run.
A split-second glance showed her they were out in the middle of nowhere, cacti dotting the horizon, and nowhere near California but she didn't care, she'd rather take her chance with rattlesnakes than him. In her haste, with one foot out, she slipped on the shiny steel bumper and the other caught on the lip of the trunk, pitching her forward. Eyes scrunched, she prepared for the inevitable. This was going to hurt…
His arm snaked out and grabbed her belt, her face missing the pavement by scant centimeters and knocking the wind out of her. He set her up on her feet and pulled out a 6" blade, igniting the panic in her again. Ororo tried to back away but burned herself on the black painted surface of the sun baked El Dorado.
"If y' gon' run t'rough de desert, be my guest but y' won' make it far like dat." He said with surprising apathy as he turned her around and cut the zip ties around her hands, a tingle going through her arms as blood flowed through them once again. She ripped the tape off of her mouth, taking in gulps of fresh air and brushed the hair out of her eyes to get a good look at her… captor?
He was older than her 26 years and inches taller, possibly 6'1" and very lean build, it didn't appear he would have the strength to catch her like he did, then again, he was wearing a long sleeve shirt. Strands of auburn hair rested over dark sunglasses that hid his eyes but she knew they were watching her, studying her with grating silence. She was afraid that if she took her eyes off of him, she would be helpless to stop him if he tried anything.
He was dressed very well, and a bit warm considering the searing temperature of the desert, in a long sleeve white button up shirt and a black tie that was waving in the suffocating desert breeze. He stood in a non threatening pose, hands in the pockets of his black slacks and his expression unreadable. His nonchalance almost angered her, him mocking her weak state- knowing she was no threat.
If only… no… her powers had abandoned her months ago…
Without warning, her legs began to quiver beneath her and her vision began to fade. She stumbled forwards to him in a daze, fighting to stay conscious but the adrenaline had left her almost as swiftly as it arrived, the exhaustion from the heat and her fear draining her energy. She collapsed.
2 hours later
The sun was beginning to set on the New Mexico interstate and Remy Lebeau debated on whether or not to pull off at the next exit. He was worn out, over heated, hungry, and his car's gas tank was almost empty, the latter leaving him no choice. It was his own fault though, having chosen the classic car over the practical one to travel across the country.
A 1957 Cadillac El Dorado Biarritz Convertible, the vehicle was given to him as a joke years ago by his brother Henri. The punch-line being the memory of the one Remy had sunk in a river when he was 12.
When he had received the rusted bare bones junk pile, it was barely better off than the one resting at the bottom of the Mississippi River. But after years of hard work, it ran better and shined brighter than the day it drove away from the dealer. He just forgot to fix the air conditioning and was subsequently cranky over the lack of foresight. Having the top up kept him out of the sun but it did little against the heat. The open windows barely helped, he was sweating profusely and running low on water.
Remy traveled the interstate in silence, his brain mulling over the day's events and what he was going to do now; anything to keep his mind off of the shirt clinging to his back. The woman beside him was an unpleasant surprise and very dangerous liability. "Who knows who's looking for her?" The idea nagged at him. The last thing he needed was to add 'kidnapper' to his qualifications. And if he was beginning to think if he didn't get her to a hospital, he might as well add 'murderer' to the list. Unfortunately, hospitals were scarcer than exits on this stretch.
Occasionally, he broke his gaze from the endless white line and glanced at her, making sure she was still breathing- or at least that was the reason he told himself every time he looked at her chest. The top buttons of her white blouse were missing and her white lace bra was showing through. Eventually, he reached over and pushed it closed just to get the thought out of his head, half expecting a candid movie moment with her waking up and accusing him of being a pervert. Instead, she curled up on the tan leather seat and kept sleeping.
She was in rough shape, dirt smudged on her cheeks and dried blood on her chin from a busted lip. Despite this, she was clearly very beautiful- very tall and slender. Looking at her snow white hair contrasting nicely with her smooth cocoa complexion, and remembering her blue eyes he wondered if she were a mutant like him. Nonetheless, she was the type of woman he couldn't resist charming, even if she would flat out refuse him he could never not try. Unfortunately, finding her in your trunk and having her passed out in the front seat of your car didn't provide a good foot to start on.
She wore faded blue jeans, not the hip hugging kind women with her figure trounced around in but the practical working kind that bore the stains of yard work and painting endeavors on them; her brown knees poking through the tattered rips in the fabric.
Either she was caught off guard at home or had great difficulty parting with the old denims. He settled on the latter, considering the starched white blouse accompanied with it, and the brown leather belt in the loops around her waist.
"When did I become Isaac Mizrahi?" He smiled slightly at the fashion psychology as he passed a highway sign alerting him of a gas station diner 12 miles away.
It was getting dark enough for him to remove his sunglasses so he threw the annoying frames onto the seat next to his long ago discarded tie, relieved to be able to see things in real color now. True, he had needed them because of the sun but also for disguise. He was a mutant and they concealed his ruby on onyx eyes. Eyes that had earned him many unpleasant reactions in his life; most being accusations of conspiring with the devil. It was almost comical that in the day and age of super-powered human beings, some people still reverted to old beliefs.
The woman sighed and slowly, her eyes opened, two perfect blue orbs searching around warily. He braced himself for the inevitable panic, scream, and possible physical attack- at least that is what he would do in her situation.
Ororo examined herself, noting that she was still clothed, had no new bruises, and wasn't dead in the sand. She was in a car, relieved it was the front seat this time, and secured with a seatbelt- not zip ties. The man beside her was the same that had released her from the trunk and saved her face from getting smashed on the asphalt and evidently caught her again when she blacked out. She noticed him glance at her with stunning red on black eyes, "A mutant like me…" His arms were tense as his fists clenched the steering wheel. Curiously, he still did not acknowledge her.
With cat like intensity, she stared at him quietly, judging every detail and wondering what was in her best interest right now. She could throw caution to the wind and pray that the highway would be forgiving at 80 miles an hour or she could try and find out what was going on and make a safer escape when he had to refuel. His tank was nearly empty and a road sign informed her a gas station was just minutes away. She resigned on the safer route, she was too sore to try the first idea.
"Where are we going?" she asked, her throat harsh and grating from dehydration.
Her question caught him off guard, not only was she not going fight or flight on him but she didn't even seem to put priority in 'who' he was. Not that it mattered, she didn't need to know what he did anyway. "'We' are not goin' anywhere. 'I' am goin' t' fill up my tank. 'You' can do whatever de hell y' want chère, I have no say over y'."
Her eyebrows rose in surprise, "You are going to drop me off in the middle of the desert!"
"Non. If I wanted t' do dat, I would've left ya a hun'red miles back. Dis way, y' have a pay phone n' y' c'n call fo' a ride."
"I have no one to call." She said softly, recalling the blood bath at her apartment. If she contacted anyone, she was sure it would only endanger them.
"Y' got t' have someone dat care's enough t' stuff ya in my trunk."
"Or someone that cares very little." She smiled wryly and ran a brown hand through her snowy hair and stared out the windshield. Why was this happening to her? Was she that desperate to place trust in a total stranger? She couldn't help but feel their path's crossed for a reason, somehow, two threads leading back to the same source. She had to tread carefully as for all she knew, he could be a bigger threat than the feral mutant that had attacked her previously.
Ororo wanted to cry but swallowed her pain. She was stronger than that. Months ago, she would have come out of this unscathed but Mother Nature had abandoned her, cast her away like a wayward child.
Once, Ororo was able to command the elements- flying on gale winds, summoning lightning at will, disperse fogs and bring rain with a flick of her wrist. Now, she was a flat-scan. She scolded herself for the prejudicial term. She was no longer homo-sapien superior. No, Ororo, former Goddess and Wind Rider, was only human.
She still didn't understand how it happened. It was immediately after she'd been hospitalized with a freak fever that spiked to 104° F. No cause was determined and she refused the request to study her condition further as she secretly thought it associated with her powers. No one could explain the bruise on her hip so she assumed she had fallen. Just days afterwards, she found she couldn't even summon a ghost of a breeze. Now, she couldn't even feel the changes in the weather around her. It had gone mute.
The car stopped under the canopy of the gas station and the slam of his car door roused her from her brooding. Before entering the station, Remy stopped at the payphone with his back to her. As he began to roll up his sleeves, she noticed he wasn't as thin as she initially thought but rather broad shouldered and his arms were quite muscular- only from the side did he appear thin because he was quite fit. She wondered who he had to call from out here, he had no wedding ring (not that it meant anything these days) but despite his initial tirade, he seemed very calm for someone who just found a half dead woman in his trunk.
Remy waited for the Contact to pick up the phone. It was on its 5th ring. He needed to check in to find out why the hell some punk, claiming to be an agent of his hire, dumped a woman in his trunk without telling him.
He'd only been hired to steal a microchip, a simple, itty bitty microchip for a not so itty bitty sum. It appeared his hire had developed it, a bio-neurological agent that regulated the control over mutant abilities, amplifying them considerably or eliminating them completely and it had been 'lost in transit.' Which was a mild way of saying some asshole snatched it.
Turns out, the Contact had doubts Lebeau could pull the job, given the delicate nature of the 'goods,' and had the woman dropped off, special delivery. That fact irritated Remy back in Phoenix when the less than tactful blonde behemoth of a man had backed his car up to Remy's and shoved the item inside, the back of the car sinking. His vision was blocked by the lid of the trunk but the weight differential was less than subtle. Some microchip. It'd been that suspicion that goaded him to open the trunk on the freeway.
"I ain' a damn transporter, I'm a thief. Remember?" The man on the phone ignored his words and went on to explain that plans had changed and the white haired woman was now the item of importance and that Remy would bring her to the agreed place. "If that address is even real," he thought bitterly.
This did not sit well with Remy. First: sending him on a false run, second: involving unknown parties, third: he was a thief, not a kidnapper; he delivered goods he lifted himself, he was not a delivery boy for some lazy jackass. Too many purposefully planted complications. He did not appreciate being lied to.
Remy insisted he did not deal with human cargo but was informed that if he refused the job, more would be willing to take it. Most likely, those without her safety in mind.
Remy was going soft in his old age and a twisted smile graced his lips. 31 wasn't old in the normal world but if you'd been in this business since you were a pup… He needed a vacation. More than that, he needed a cigarette.
He pulled one out of the pack and grabbed his lighter, only to have his eyes rest on a no smoking sign. "Damn gas stations…"
After several minutes, he ran a hand through his hair and replaced the receiver, obviously frustrated with the conversation, and headed into the building, stopping to hold the door open for an attractive woman, slightly older than Ororo; he flashed a brilliant smile and exchanged a few words. "So he's a flirt," she mused.
As he paid the tenant, she went to open the glove box but found it locked. Child's play. Pulling two lock picks from the hem of her pants, within seconds, she had it open and rummaged through some napkins, an unpaid parking ticket, and some old 8-tracks for a registration. Anything to tell her his name.
Her fingers brushed the plastic surface in the back and she noticed it had a compartment for a cabin filter. Something definitely not available when this dinosaur was forged. She found a spring lever behind the left hinge of the compartment's door and pushed it. Bingo.
The ring of the station door's bell reached her through the open window. Quickly scanning the document, she replaced it next to his gun, pocketed the ammunition, and returned things how she found them, albeit not bothering to waste time locking the compartment door. Let him think he forgot to secure it. She feigned tying her shoelace to explain why she was bent forward.
Wordlessly, Remy tossed a bottle of water to her which she caught in mid-air, her reflexes not dulled even in her state, which did not go unnoticed. He pushed the button on the pump and began fueling up the Cadillac. The night air was incredibly soothing compared to the heat of the day and he opened his door to open the top of the car.
Ororo guzzled the water voraciously, not caring if she would feel sick afterwards. She couldn't remember water ever tasting this good.
"Are y' hungry?" he asked her as he opened her car door and undid the clip securing the rag top. He noticed the key lock to the glove compartment was now in the unlocked position.
She wiped her mouth and nodded.
"Y've had a rough day, neh? I'll buy y' dinner. Unless y' have somewhere t' be..." Her head tilted in curiosity at his words, "Not unwarranted," he thought, up until recently he'd given her the cold shoulder. The gas nozzle clicked off and he returned the pump to its cradle.
Before starting the engine he reached over across her lap and she recoiled. He rolled his eyes and jammed the keys in the glove compartment, locking it while giving her a hard stare. She maintained a very believable façade of innocence. There was more to this girl than his contact let on.
In the soft fluorescent lighting of the diner, Remy could see bruises on her wrists from her restraints and the bruise on her jaw had darkened considerably. It did not go unnoticed the waitress spotted them as well and she kept casting him dirty looks as she took his order. It crossed his mind that she might spit in his food and he suddenly wasn't very hungry.
"Non, Petite c'n whatever she wants, t'ough." He said, noticing they were the only ones in the restaurant.
Ororo ordered generously. She remembered life on the street and who knew how long his benevolence would hold up? The waitress departed and Remy lit up a cigarette and held the first puff's smoke in his lungs several seconds before exhaling the smoke through his nostrils. Mon Dieu, dat's heaven…
He watched as she fidgeted, twisting a lock of silver hair around a slender brown finger. The silence was killing her.
He shouldn't get to know her. She was a job. Just a job... So why did the next words fall out of his mouth? "D' y' have a name, fille?"
"Does it matter?"
He shrugged and tapped ashes into the ashtray. "Have t' call y' some'ting."
"Tempest," she answered a little too quickly, as if the look on his face challenged the authenticity of her namesake. Even if she only had the name all of 3 seconds, it was her name to him.
He smiled and shook his head, "Y' c'n pick locks but y' are a terrible liar. Tempête does not suit you… you're more broody dan intimidatin'. I'll call ya Stormy. "
"Do not call me that." she glared, digging into her food.
"So, Stormy," he said with a grin, "What makes y' so important?"
"If I knew, do you think I would be road tripping with a complete stranger? All I know is that I am alone and people who know me have a habit of ending up dead."
He laughed, she was feisty. "Y' ain't alone, petite. An' you'll find me harder t' kill dan most. How's dis, y' answer one of my questions, and I will know if you're lying, and I will answer one for you. Y' up fo' dat?"
She tossed her hair behind her shoulders and leaned in, chin resting on her hand. "Alright."
"What is y' real name, Stormy?"
"Ororo. Will you stop calling me that now?"
"No. Now, what's y' talent?"
"I get to ask my question!" she hissed.
"Y' did, an' I quote, 'Will y' stop calling me dat now?'"
"That does not count--"
"I believe dat was an interrogative. Now spit it out, what's y' talent."
She crossed her arms, "That can mean so many things. Are we talking mutants, skills, trades, bedroom activities… the list goes on and on."
"T'ink long n' hard befo' y' start pissin' me off."
Her eyes dropped and she poked her salad with her fork, "I was a mutant. Was. I'd prefer not to talk about that right now, ok? It is still too fresh."
"I'm done fo' now." He leaned back in his seat, hands behind his head as he connected the dots. "Microchip dampens powers. F'get chip, cause Femme needs taken t' de hire. Femme USED t' be a mutant." His brow furrowed as it dawned on him. It wasn't so much Ororo that was the valuable object as it was what was what was in her. But why go through the trouble of implanting the chip unless she was key as well? What ability did she have that needed controlled?
Ororo ate quietly, still avoiding his gaze, not that she could see past his sunglasses. She remained haunted by his eyes yet somehow, drawn to them, to him. He was an enigma, even the papers in his car revealed nothing of him except a dual identity- Robert Lord. Yeah, right. An accent like that doesn't come with a name tag like Bob.
This man wasn't her kidnapper and up until 15 minutes ago, would have let her wander the desert on her own. Suddenly, after his phone call, he was very interested in her welfare and personal information. She sipped her drink and again caught herself staring at him.
He was preoccupied with whomever it was entering the restaurant and he lowered his glasses to get a better look. "Probably that woman from the gas station." Yet, his jaw tightened and his cigarette remained frozen in his mouth, the ember burning itself out with no draw from his lungs.
She turned to see what caught his attention and her heart began to thunder in her ears. In the door stood a towering man in a leather coat and ripped jeans. It was the blonde man who had nearly killed her. His nose appeared to be bandaged, from the kick she had given him in her struggle before he had thrown her against a wall. Interestingly, he was accompanied by the woman from the gas station, and he was scanning the restaurant. Searching for her.
How did he know she was here!
"Goddess!" She breathed and swiftly ducked down under the table, crawling over to 'Robert', humiliated her panic had reduced her to this- 26 years old and crawling like a baby. She was humiliated, but not stupid. She still remembered the last time that bastard had gotten the drop on her. She would not let him get her again.
Ororo peeked out from under the table cloth, blue eyes glistening with an odd mixture of fear and anger, and mouthed, "That's him…" before disappearing back under the red checkered vinyl. Perhaps, just perhaps, he didn't see her and he would leave.
Remy knew exactly who the man was. How many WWF rejects could one run into in one day? What he didn't know, was why Victor Creed was here. These twists and turns were pushing his patience to its limit and it would take very little to set him off.
As expected, the man approached his table, heavy boots treading loudly across the tile floor and stopped next to him. His accomplice was cracking her gum, chewing it with an open mouth. A spike of disgust went through him. He hated gum crackers. It was overtly obnoxious and not to mention disgusting when you could see what they were chewing. He had held the door open for her!
"Mind if I sit?" Victor growled, as he took Ororo's place on the bench, not waiting for an answer and pulled the woman next to him. "Seat's still warm. Where is she?"
Remy couldn't stop staring at her mouth with unmasked distaste as it opened, closed, opened closed. "Like an effin' fish…"
"What's it matter, Creed? Y' job got done back in Phoenix." Remy blew smoke into his face before putting his cigarette out. It was difficult keeping a straight face as Ororo reached a hand into his pocket, no doubt looking for his knife from earlier. He kicked her gently as her hand touched something that was very much not what she was looking for and not taking the hint, dove into his other pocket.
The man leered, "You cocky bastard. You've been pulled. Seems Farouk doubts you can deliver."
Farouk? That was a name Remy hadn't heard before. Name's were not usually used freely in his line of work "Considerin' I ain' a delivery boy, dat don' surprise me. But, y' can' expect me t' jus' han' her over like dat wit'out confirmation." He kicked her again and she backed off, having found the knife.
The leggy brunette was staring at him and blowing a large, pink bubble. "I can' take dis anymore." He calmly grabbed his fork and stabbed the pink blob. "Dat's disgutin'- y' c'n either cut it out or I will kill you." He stated matter of factly, no humor in his tone.
"Fuck you." She sneered.
"Quit yer bitchin', Raven. Look, Lebeau. Hand her over and you can keep that handsome face of yours in mint condition. If I have to look for her, I'll be wearing your entrails as a necklace and I won't go easy on her. Damn bitch broke my nose. I figure I owe her." So that explained why he didn't smell Ororo under the table, Remy thought.
Remy's eyes flashed red but his voice remained steady, "Homme, I'd like t' see y' try. Y' won' have her." Creed was bigger than him, sure, but skilled? No. Men like him relied on their mass to do the work, never the skill. And Remy had one advantage. There was a pissed off woman under the table with a knife and as mad as she might be at this revelation right now, he was sure she hated the kidnapper more than him.
The man jumped up and reached across the table, one massive hand wrapping around Remy's throat. "You sure do talk a lot of shit, Lebeau. So much you're wading in it. Where is she!" Creed saw a movement out of the corner of his eye and in the shiny sheet metal of the bar to his right, saw her under the table. "Fuck…"
Ororo plunged the knife up into Victor's groin with as much force as she could manage from her cramped position under the table. She pulled the knife out and was about to stab him again when Remy fell back into his seat and reached down, grabbed her arm and pulled her out from under the table. "We got t' get out o' here fast chère- Dat won' stop him long!"
"You mother fucking whore!" Creed roared, blood pouring from his wound.
The woman jumped from her seat and gave Remy a roundhouse kick to the face, sending him back into a table. He felt blood in his mouth and anger flashed in his eyes.
"Piss off, Lebeau!" she spat, arms crossed against her chest.
Ororo bolted to his side but the brunette tripped her, grabbed a fistful of her silver hair and yanked her back again, Ororo barely missing a fist in her kidney as she tumbled backwards. The air in her lungs left in a gush as her back slammed into a bar stool at the diner's counter and she hit the floor.
Victor, still bleeding, stumbled over to grab her but she reached up and grabbed his arm, using his weight to pull herself up and utilizing her velocity, brought a knee to his elbow, shattering it. With little effort, he reached out and grabbed her arm with his good one, wrenching it hard enough to make her drop the knife. "Look, doll, you can keep hittin' and I'll just keep healin' so give it a goddamned rest!" he snarled.
Ororo's wide blue eyes stared at Remy who was now standing across the room, lighting a cigarette, indifferent to her situation. He didn't care about her. The discussion she'd heard from under the table, she tried to believe he wasn't involved, yet here he was, watching her attack without a hint of concern. "You bastard!" she sobbed. "You double crossing bastard!"
"Don't cry, honey," Creed cooed, "I'll be yer new boyfriend." His gruff laugh echoed in the empty diner.
"What do we do with handsome here?" the brunette gestured to Remy, the statement punctuated with a crack of her gum. His red eyes flashed briefly at the sound.
Time slowed to a crawl as Ororo watched Raven lunge for Remy. He was disturbingly indifferent, eyes burning brighter than the cigarette resting between his pursed lips, shoulders relaxed. Raven leapt for his throat and he ducked, popping up as she sailed over him and with one fluid movement, he landed a solid punch to her stomach and she crumpled against his fist, hitting the ground hard. In an instant, Raven's skin changed from pale white to deep blue. She was a changeling.
Raven was not moving but Ororo could see she was still breathing. "I tol' y' t' quit crackin' dat effin' gum." He grumbled, replacing the cigarette in his mouth and stepped over her.
Victor's grip loosened on Ororo and she wriggled free. He reached for her again, claws enclosing around fabric and her blouse ripped open as the buttons gave way and she slipped to the ground, crawling for the knife.
Remy threw a glowing plate at Creed, it exploding on the larger man's chest and diverting his attention from Ororo. Creed threw a chair at Remy's head, it missing its intended target and crashing against the wall.
Seeing her opportunity, Ororo's brown hand closed on the bloody knife on the floor and with calculated aim, hurled it at Victor, the blade sinking into his back and he turned back to attack her. "What did I tell, you? Fucking cu—" His words were cut off as Remy cut through the air, his foot landing in Creed's back, the knife being driven up to the end of the handle through his ribs. He finally collapsed as blood poured into his lungs and forced him into unconsciousness.
Remy put his cigarette out on Creed's neck, a sharp hiss hitting the air and he watched as the burn began to fade. "Gimme my knife back." He said angrily, digging his fingers into Creed's wound as he claimed his weapon. "Y' ok Stormy?" he asked after wiping it off on the wicked man's shirt. After watching the cigarette burn fade, he surmised they maybe had 10 minutes before the bastard was conscious again.
Ororo stood trembling, from the chill on her bare skin but most from the familiar rush of adrenaline in her veins again. Although badly battered, she was ok. He hadn't betrayed her. She ran up and wrapped her arms around him, squeezing him as hard as she could and buried her face in his shoulder. "I'm sorry." She whispered. He was awkward in her embrace and reluctantly rested one arm around her.
"We got t' leave, femme. Befo' cops arrive an' goldilocks returns from de dead." She pulled away from him with confusion in her eyes.
"He's a mutant, chère." He said softly. "We c'n talk more in de car."
That explained why his nose wasn't completely flattened when he walked in the diner, Ororo guessed as she followed him outside. They passed Creed's car and she knew how to gain a mild advantage. "Let me see your knife."
"Why?" he slammed the door to the car, and started the car before tossing it to her. He watched as she flicked the blade out and stabbed the tires of the black sedan. Still not satisfied, she kicked the driver's side mirror, leaving it dangling by wires before hopping into the car and calmly putting her seat belt on and handing him his knife.
He shook his head. Picking locks, throwing knives, slashing tires… what had he gotten himself into?
Remy shifted the car in drive and with the spin of the tires, they were back on the freeway headed to Colorado.
The night breeze was cool and almost cleansing after the fight in the Diner. Remy's thoughts were divided between Ororo and their next stop. They just had to make it to Denver for him to complete a job and then they could head to New Orleans. Suddenly, Louisiana was too far away. He reached for another cigarette, not remembering when he'd smoked so much in such a short period.
"I would tell you those will be the death of you, if it weren't for the display back there."
"If only I could be so lucky." He said cupping his hand around his face to shield the lighter from the wind and the scent of cloves was carried off in the breeze.
"At least they don't smell bad." she removed the shredded rag that used to be a blouse and threw it at the floor. There was nothing provocative in the gesture, just the desire for comfort; she just stretched and curled up, bringing her knees to her chin as she stared out at the passing dessert. She tried to tune in to nature, desperate for even a whisper from her Goddess to ease her heart.
After several minutes of silence, Ororo turned to him. "Do you mind?" she asked, pointing to the glove compartment. "I saw a tape in there I liked."
"Be my guest."
He watched as she undid the lock with several quick motions and twist of her wrist. She popped the old 8-track into the stereo and turned the volume up, the first track thunked into place and the music started. Tom Petty's "Refugee," began to play through the speakers.
"Little ironic, don' ya t'ink?"
"I didn't compile the track list- Damn the Torpedoes is just a good album…" she murmured softly, her mind on the incident at the diner.
After several seconds, the dam broke and she assaulted him with a flurry of questions, "Who was that man back there? Why is he after me and what does it have to do with you? Actually, who are you and how did I end up in your trunk? And do not insult me by using that fake name that is on your registration…"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa. One at a time. Next y' gonna ask me what de meanin' o' life is." He laughed slightly.
"It's Remy chère." He interrupted. Only kids and bill collectors called him Mr. Lebeau."
She pulled her hands up to her hair to keep it from whipping in her eyes. "What is your first name?"
"Remy the Beautiful One? You're kidding right?" she mused at the translation of the last name that she heard Creed call him in the diner. If the shoe fits…
"Believe it or not, dat is my real name. Y' speak French?"
"Not really. All I know is what a homeless man in Cairo used to mumble. A friend translated one time."
"Cairo? As in Egypt?"
"You are answering my questions right now. What is your talent?" Her smile spread into a grin, mocking him.
Two can play at that game. "Dat c'n mean so many t'ngs. Are we talkin' mutants, skills, trades, bedroom activities… de list goes on and on." He cast a devilish smile at her surprise he remembered her word for word.
She raised a white eyebrow, "Think long and hard before you start pissing me off."
"Touché… I blow stuff up."
"I saw the plate. How…I mean, can you blow up anything? Is there a trigger? What about your eyes?"
"Aren't y' de nosy one? No trigger, I just take potential energy and make it kinetic. The molecules go haywire and boom. Works on anytin'. Eyes don' do much 'cept scare de hell out o' some people." He inhaled his cigarette, the burn in his lungs was less grating than the 20 questions.
"I rather like your eyes." She said quietly. "Are you really supposed to drop me off with Amoul Farouk?"
"Supposed t'." He watched her eyes fall and she bit her lip. "Don' mean I will."
"Why not? You've only known me for half a day. I mean nothing to you."
"Look, chère, I don' deal in kidnappin'. I'm a t'ief dat got mixed in a bad deal when my contact conveniently fo'got I steal t'ings, not people. I tol' y' t' scram when y' had de chance but y' stayed. Like a fool, I took pity on y' and now I'm in shit deep as y' an' I don' even know-- wait a second… y' know Farouk?" he slammed on the breaks and pulled the car to the side of the road.
She got quiet as red eyes burned from across the seat at her. Ororo knew darn well who Amoul Farouk was- hearing his name again worried her. Long ago, he had invaded her mind, when she lived in Africa. A passing mutant, an American man, had saved her. She still regretted that in her haste to escape, she was never able to thank him. The last echoes of Farouk still burned her mind, he had threatened to find her again. Had he found her after all these years?
"Creed never said 'is first name. What y' hidin'? No ordinary fille woul' be pickin' locks or t'rowin' knives' at de likes of him."
"If you keep driving I will tell you." She managed with an even voice. "The last thing I want is Victor Creed's hands on me again."
"Let me tell y' some'ting Ororo, if y' don' start coughin' up de truth, y' c'n f'get bout him and start worryin' bout me. Don' f'get what y' said- I've only known y' half a day an' y' mean not'ing t' me. Don' push y' luck o' ya can go back in de trunk." He said through gritted teeth as the El Dorado rolled back on to the highway. As much as the words were a bluff, his temper was very real. It had been 16 hours since he last ate and if Raven's obnoxious gum chewing could set him off, all this BS would certainly to it.
Ororo read the insincerity in his words. If he wanted to hurt her, he would have done it already. Whether leaving her to die in the heat, taking advantage of her in her sleep, or letting Creed take her without a second thought. Instead, he had done the opposite. His twisted sense of honor impressed her, something she understood as a fellow thief.
"Amoul Farouk is not so much a man as he is an entity- he controls people as his puppets, using them as avatars in the physical world while he exists in the astral. I had an encounter with him as a child, when I lived in Cairo.
"My father was a photojournalist and my mother a princess of a tribe in Africa. She is from whom I inherited my white hair and blue eyes, it is not a mutation. Anyway, while he was on an assignment in Cairo, Egypt, an airplane crashed on our house, killing them and leaving me buried with them. I am a claustrophobe because of it. Mutant powers or not, I will give you hell like you've never seen if you even try to put me back there again." She threatened with anger flashing in her blue eyes.
For the next ten minutes, Ororo Munroe explained how after being orphaned, she was trained by a master thief name Achmed el Gibar to pick pockets and procure valuable items for various clientele, learning English at a local mission and knife throwing from the other urchins.
Remy was fascinated when she described the awakening of her elemental powers because unlike him having to worry about blowing stuff up every 10 seconds along with the other hazards of puberty, she had no trouble grasping control over her abilities, having felt as one with the earth's spirit and drawing from it. For several years she provided rains to villages in Kenya that worshipped her as a goddess- a title she embraced fully. At the time, she had no idea what a mutant was.
"My life as a goddess was short lived. When I was just 17, Farouk touched my mind, digging his fingers through my spirit. All I could feel when he was in my mind was the oppressive darkness in his soul. I can not even begin to describe it. He claimed I would be the perfect host, if given time to be 'cultivated' to his needs, he would be unstoppable. For what, I don't know but the Goddess was shining down on me, as a visitor to our village, an American by the name of Xavier, was a telepathic mutant and he rescued my mind by engaging Farouk."
"As I fled, Farouk was fading from my mind, his words that he would hunt me down to claim me echoed in my ears. I made a decision then to come to America since he would have no problem tracking me in Africa. I was going to seek out my father's family in New York, sure they would recognize the hair and eyes of N'Dare's daughter.
"It took nearly 16 hours to fly across the Atlantic on a summoned wind and I almost died from exhaustion. I had never used my powers for so long and to such an extent- it's amazing the motivation of a cold, frothing sea waiting to swallow you."
A wistful feeling came upon her and she continued, "When I arrived, even with my scraps of memories as a guide, there was no one here for me. Through some connections, I was able to claim my birth certificate and social security to try and live as a citizen, not that it did any good. I had no job experience or interest in anything I was qualified for. Nobody here needed a goddess." She laughed bitterly. "So to survive, I turned to the only thing I knew. Theft."
"What bout yo' powers? When did y' lose dose?" his expression had softened considerably and his tone was more gentle.
"About 2 months ago. I had a freak fever, almost 104. I passed out in the street and evidently an ambulance was called because I woke up in a hospital. I was told there was no explanation for it and they wanted to study my blood work. I assumed it may have had something to do with my powers so I walked out, thinking little of it. Over the next few days, my control and connection to the earth began to fade until by the end of the week, they were completely gone. I burned myself out."
A tear broke free and ran down her cheek and she became angry. "But how does that happen! Things were so normal… and then… nothing. I can't hear the earth anymore and it's tearing me apart. I feel so… hollow…
"Why am I telling you this? You don't care!" she spat, wrapping her arms around herself and scowling. Damn the man beside her, his false sense of concern and damn herself for being so open. Where was her mind going?
"Merde, chère, y' sure as hell ain't gon' fare well on y' own if effin' Victor Creed knocked y' flat."
"Why do you say that?"
"'Cause it's true?"
"No. 'Effin'. Why don't you just say it?"
He laughed. "Cause my poppa taught dis pup dat some words had dere place and dey were not t' be used in front o' a lady. Y' are a lady right?" Mock panic set in on his face as he teased her, lightening the mood.
"What do you think?" She unfolded her arms and held them out so he could see her cleavage in her lace bra and he cast his eyes back on the road.
"I t'ink y' need t' make y'self decent."
"I left my suitcase behind. There wasn't enough room in the trunk." She rolled her eyes. Having grown up in Kenya, clothing was not a big issue with her. Even though she had grown accustomed to Western modesty, a bra still felt like a bikini top to her. She was slightly chilled from the night air, but in a way, she enjoyed his discomfort.
"If y' reach under de seat, dere's a blanket." He said, glancing in his rear view mirror. Thankfully, the road was clear.
Ororo reached under the bench and pulled out a fleece blanket. It was surprisingly very clean considering the location, and held the scent of leather mixed with his cigarettes. She undid her seatbelt to wrap it around herself and then gave herself extra slack to sit sideways so she could rest her head on the door and stare at the stars, listening to 'Century City' playing from the 8-track. "Remy… where are we headed?"
"What, may I ask, is in Denver?" she yawned.
"Don' worry bout it. Sleep."
"I will not sleep unless you do. For one, it is not fair for you and second, you could be pervert for all I know."
"Suit y' self. Y' got t' sleep sometime."
By the time they reached Colorado, it was well past midnight and Remy was having trouble keeping his eyes open. A glance in the rearview mirror showed glazed over ruby eyes, dark circles under his eyes and the stubble on his chin had long surpassed a 5 o'clock shadow. Having run consistently since 3 the previous morning, combined with the driving, lack of food, and the excitement of the day, he finally broke down and admitted that if they didn't stop somewhere, they weren't going to make it at all.
Ororo caught him yawning and rubbing his eyes to stay awake and offered to drive which he adamantly refused. With the skills and abilities under her belt, he didn't want to risk 'rally car racer' being on the list.
They pulled off the highway and booked a room at a motel. It wasn't the seediest dive he'd ever stayed in, but he was definitely going to sleep on top of the comforter.
"I can't believe you took the hourly rate. They think I'm your quickie!" She hissed as he unlocked the motel room door, still wrapped in the blanket. "I could have picked the lock no problem. Free room."
Remy dropped his suitcase on the ground. "An why risk gettin' caught over some'ting I c'n pay fo'? We're leavin' in 5 hours anyway." he said, flopping onto the queen sized bed before turning onto his back with his hands intertwined, resting on his stomach.
"I am going to shower. You might want to think about doing it."
He groaned, would she just let him sleep? "Dey may t'ink y' my quickie but you and I know I'm too tired so I refuse t' even t'ink 'bout doin' it."
She put a hand on her hip, "Funny guy. Do you do stand up on weekends? Goddess, you need a shower. I can see the stink lines coming off your body."
He dismissed the comment with a wave of his hand. "I'll do it tomorrow! Lemme sleep."
"Where do I sleep?"
Remy opened one eye, "Dere's a nice fluffy carpet goin' t' waste under y' feet."
"There is no telling what is crushed into this." She grimaced, "It probably hasn't been vacuumed since it was installed, which is about 30 years ago by the looks of it…"
"Not my problem. Leave me alone- I need t' sleep. NOW!" He closed his eyes again and Ororo stuck her middle finger up to him.
Goddess, the man's infuriating. One second he was chivalrous, the next, a greedy disagreeable little monster. I am not going to sleep on that carpet. She thought as she turned the light on in the bathroom, sighing with relief that it was relatively clean and stocked with travel shampoo and soap.
After her shower, she removed the bullets from her pocket and rinsed out her jeans, annoyed that some of Victor's blood had stained them on the left ankle. Good luck forgetting that bastard, now. She wrung them out as best she could and tossed them over the shower curtain rod to dry next to her undergarments and socks. There was no way she was going to wear 2 day old underwear.
Satisfied, she picked up the bullets and wrapped the blanket around herself to hide her bare skin, clicked the light out, and headed out to the bedroom, deciding that the queen sized bed was big enough for both of them; she would just sleep with her head at his feet to avoid awkwardness.
Ororo figured the threat of him killing her was gone so before going to bed, she dumped the ammunition in his shoe at the foot of the bed. The clink from them was louder than she expected and her breath caught, as she expected him to wake up. A glance at his face verified he was dead asleep. Climbing onto the bed, she settled in and within minutes, was asleep.
Remy jerked from his sleep, falling out of bed and a throbbing pain in his nose. Did someone just attack him in his sleep? He scrambled to his feet in a defensive stance, and grabbed the nearest object, which turned out to be Ororo's shoe, and kinetically charged it, trying to get his wits about him.
Scanning the room from the glow of the shoe, he found the room in order, door was still locked, window undisturbed. He felt a warm trickle down his top lip, blood started dripping down his chin, and he realized who his attacker was- Ororo was asleep on the bed, only with her head at the foot of the bed. Evidently, she had given him a hell of a kick in her sleep. He reabsorbed the energy from his 'weapon,' completely irritated and searched for a tissue.
He clicked the light on in the bathroom and tended to his nose, wishing nothing but malice upon Ororo for the rude awakening. "Sacre bleu… Crazy woman, what she t'inken?…" An eyebrow raised as his eyes rested on her underwear hanging over the shower curtain. "Cher Seigneur, give me stren'th…" His morning was already hell.
Remy pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes, as if willing the clothes away but opening his eyes, he saw they were still there. First night on the road and she was already butt naked? That certainly was a record for him. He smiled weakly and rinsed his hands off.
He pulled her clothes down from their perch and started the shower. 5 hours. Just 5 more hours and he would be in Denver and he could get his mind off of this mess
Looking at his watch, he noticed it was 4AM and they had to be back on the road in an hour. There was no way he could fall back asleep now. He went to the bedroom and grabbed his shoes, spilling bullets out of them. What de hell? He recognized the casing and caliber and looked to the ceiling, Why d' y' hate me today, Lord? Why?
20 minutes later, Ororo stretched her muscles as much as she could, feeling new bruises in her body but feeling better in spirit. She was still so tired. Looking to her left, she noticed her clothes folded perfectly neat, even her underwear, on the nightstand and smiled. She could hear the buzz of an electric razor in the bathroom so she took the opportunity to get dressed.
Checking her appearance in the mirror on the wall, she sighed. She needed a shirt.
The door to the bathroom wasn't shut all the way so Ororo opened it and tossed a fruit pie on the counter as Remy clicked his razor off.
"Don' y' knock?"
"The door was open. I brought you a snack for the road, there was a vending machine around the corner." She bit into her own pie, staring at the muscles in his arms. He was only wearing a sleeveless under shirt and she was enjoying the view. Whatever Remy Lebeau did for a living, it appeared to require a hard body.
"T'anks. Dat's my shirt isn't it?" he observed the white button up shirt hanging loosely on her in the shoulders and she had left the bottom buttons undone and tied the ends in a knot to bare her stomach.
She looked down at the shirt and smiled un-apologetically, "Yes. Well, I am ready when you are." Ororo was beginning to think he didn't so much wear clothes, as a uniform. All his suitcase contained were pressed black slacks and starched white button up shirts and several pairs of boxers.
"I'm almost done." He said, buttoning his shirt and began adjusting his tie in the mirror, making sure everything was in its place. She was giving him an odd look. "What?"
"Are you OCD?"
"Excuse moi?" both his eyebrows raised in surprise.
"Obsessive Compulsive. You are meticulous about the oddest things. And your clothes…"
"You are turnin' into a nag. What's wrong wit' my clothes! You're de one walkin' round wit holes in y' pants."
Ororo became embarrassed at her intrusive question. "I am sorry I offended, I was genuinely curious."
"No, I am not OCD." He said flatly, shoving his razor along with his after shave and a few other items carelessly into a leather traveling bag, a smug satisfaction on his face. He stared at it a second, realizing that the aftershave was above the razor, not below it, how he always put it in there. It mocked him in its disorder. With great effort, he zipped it closed and walked past her, surprised that it bothered him so much.
He was not obsessive, just detailed… he had to be, where one thing gone unnoticed could spell your doom. What kind of thief was she anyhow? Just a pick-pocket- no wonder she could be so careless. She didn't deal with his level clientele. He did one final scan of the room, making sure nothing was out of place, to leave no sign of them having even been here. Satisfied, he picked up his suitcase and opened the front door, "Let's roll."