Denigoddess2001@aol.com
9/26/01 11:39:31 PM
Wren And Demetrius: X Marks The Heart
Love's Gambit 1.0
X-MEN/ GARGOYLE CROSSOVER

DISCLAIMER: X-MEN DO NOT BELONG TO ME. THEY BELONG TO MARVEL COMICS. GARGOYLES DON'T BELONG TO ME (DAMN!), THEY BELONG TO DISNEY. ALL ORIGINAL CHARACTERS BELONG TO DENIGODDESS2001.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Portions of this story are directly tied to a story line from X-Men in the mid-nineties. I don't remember the exact issue number. It takes places shortly after Bastion was in Federal custody. What's important is that some of the dialogue between Rogue and Remy/ Gambit comes directly from the Comic book that inspired this fanfic. It's somewhere in my collection and I don't remember the number. But, I just wanted to pass that note on to my readers.
"TO DREAM ANYTHING THAT YOU WANT TO DREAM, THAT IS THE BEAUTY OF THE HUMAN MIND. TO DO ANYTHING THAT YOU WANT TO DO, THAT IS THE STRENGTH OF THE HUMAN WILL. TO TRUST YOURSELF, TO TEST YOUR LIMITS, THAT IS THE COURAGE TO SUCCEED."
BERNARD EDMONDS



An early October gale spun the fallen autumn leaves into a swirling eddy in the front yard of Wren Summer-Nightkind's "Summerlands" estate. She watched leaves dance in their minuet as they scattered across the yard. She sat silently on the front veranda and swayed gently in the porch swing. She said nothing as she sipped her hot herbal tea and watched the sun set. She was glad to be reticent with her hopes and alone in her dreams.

[I want to simply be head of research and development at the Linoma office. I want to repaint the east guest room. I need to call the plumber about the leaking pipes in the upstairs bathroom. I want to just spend a weekend with Demetrius without mad mages, galactic goddesses and strange things that go bump in the night. I just want a normal life. No more dimension-hopping or chronological displacement. No more deities deciding that I'm their pinch hitter. No more jealous Gargoyles going after my mate. I just want a simple life.]

Wren vowed to enjoy life at Summerlands and to enjoy work as the new head of Research and Development at the Linoma Bluffs corporate office. Xanatos and Owen had seen fit to reinstate her to her old job with the same pay and benefits in her hometown of Linoma. How she missed her days when she attended University and had an uncomplicated existence.

She thought of the past several days and shook her head in utter disbelief. Wren and Demetrius had precious little time for any life. They had been bounced from realm to realm all in the name of Skylaris. Now, for the first time in many weeks they found respite on the sweet soil of home. She wanted to begin her new position and Demetrius soon started his new job as a Professorial assistant at Star City University.

"Now, it's time for real life." She dared voice her private dreams aloud. She sighed her tension away in a combination of contentment and relief.

She and Demetrius finally left Caledon Isle at the end of September. They spent two weeks recuperating from their last extra-dimensional expedition to Ainran. Wren found relaxation in doing what she did best; work. She returned to her old office and boxed up her supplies and belongings. She spent the week helping Darius Maza, Goliath's son by Elisa, learning the DeMahri alphabet. She spent a few hours nightly with Gargoyles instructing them on human etiquette. She spent more than one evening at the feet of the clan elders, Hudson and Veda, learning more about the Gargoyle Way.

She thanked the Powers-That-Be for the place she and Demetrius called home. When she arrived, she withdrew the Annulus from her hip and placed it in a box crafted of the finest Oak and inlaid with fine blue velvet. There she placed the ancient relic of Oberon, The Annulus of Avalon, for safekeeping. She locked the box and placed it under her bed. [I can't get zapped to some strange dimension if I'm not tempted to use the Annulus.]

Wren pulled her sweater more tightly about her and walked indoors. There she saw Demetrius in all his masculine glory. Silver-rimmed spectacles framed his lavender eyes. He relaxed in a recliner that he had claimed for himself. With silvery plum wings cloaked about him and tail flopped over the right arm of the recliner, he seemed perfectly at home. She knelt beside him and rested her cheek against his sleek combat tail.

"Greetings, Milady Songbird." He welcomed her. She looked at the white goatee that he had grown in the past few weeks. It added a delightedly sinister air to his being.

"Greetings, Milord." She planted a quick peck on his cheek. She cocked her head much in the manner a Dame did when questioning something. "What are you reading, Demetrius."

He held up a hardcover book that read on the cover, The Brotherhood of Man and Mutants. By Professor Charles Francis Xavier. "He speaks of a world where all humanity dwells in harmony with their Sapien Superior brethren. He says that it begins with understanding of the Mutant condition. Then, through education, we demystify the superstition and fear regarding Homo Sapien Superior."

"Yeah, well, it's a nice dream." Wren snorted. "But, it doesn't work well in this world."

"He spoke of President Kelly's Mutant Registration Act of 1995.'" Demetrius slammed the book shut. "He spoke of the camps, the mysterious disappearance of thousands of individuals. He wrote about the atrocities committed against your kind: the experiments, the executions-"

"I get the idea!" She held up her hand to silence him. She shuttered as she remembered the flawless horror of the camps. She remembered the inhibitor collar that the Commandant of the camp forced her to wear and how it chafed her neck. She remembered the smart chip inserted under her skin that detailed her mutant abilities and entire life history. She remembered the invisible barcode that she still bore laser-tattooed upon her forehead.

"The camps were liberated by a renegade groups called the X-Men and the carnage against Mutants made known to the Nation. Mutant Amnesty was granted by President Oprah Winfrey in 1998." He leaned forward and caught the scent of horror and fear permeating from Wren's trembling form. "Milady! What ails ye?"

"N-nothing." She heard that inescapable waver in her voice. She cursed the seven heavens for causing that particular tic to manifest whenever she attempted falsehood. [The Commandant and he re-education techniques were very thorough.] "I'm just cold."

She pulled the sweater tighter around her for better effect. He raised a brow ridge in silent question of her acting ability. "Methinks the lady doth protest too much."

He brought a talon to her small horns that crowned her brow as mark of her further altered DNA. Thanks to Puck of an alternate universe, Wren and Demetrius were now the only two of their kind in existence; she was half-gargoyle. He was half-human, thus both were an amalgam that made them what Skylaris called the Nightkind.

From her horned brow he brushed back the signature white streak that adorned her russet tresses. The slightly pronounced horns weren't visible if hair fell around her face. He noticed beads of sweat rolling from her brow. "Wren, what ails you? Why are you trembling as though you have seen a wraith?"

"I guess that the remembering of those days is something I don't care to relive." She rose to her feet and pushed her hands deeply into her pockets. She turned toward the kitchen. "I'm going to make another cup of herbal tea. Would you care for a cup?"

"Nay." He spoke softly. He was to his feet in seconds. The empathic affinity that flowed between them raged like a strident tempest. She turned away and attempted a rare thing; she blocked the path of their mating bond. His talons dug into the tender flesh of her forearms. "Nay, Love. Do not sever our link. Where you go, I go."

She could resist him nothing. He brought his lips comfortingly to her brow and held her close to his strong torso. Her head fell forward to his chest. He felt the warm tears seemingly sear his suede ebony skin. "Oh, Demetrius! It was horrible. You don't want to carry those memories inside you. Trust me on this one."

"Shhh...Love. Let it flow from you." His natural response brought his arms and wings about her in the shroud of his loving embrace. His tail wound around her waist. He watched the past come to life in their minds' eyes. Their souls were linked and their thoughts forged one memory. "I shall always be with you."

*********************

INTO THE PAST....1995
Demetrius watched passively as a young girl slept peacefully in her bed. Chestnut strands splayed on the whiteness of her pillow. He guessed her to be about eighteen. She cuddled her pillow next to her. That same stray lock fellow over her brow. He saw the figurines on hand-carved oak shelves that adorned her room. The warm feelings from the figurines revealed her grandfather, Robin Goodfellow, had given them to her. He had also carved the shelves for her. She hadn't seen him since she was a child.

The sentimental reminiscences were abruptly when Demetrius heard the crashing of wood as her bedroom door was kicked open. Several forms armed with firearms entered her room and surrounded her bed. She woke up startled and stunned. In the commotion he heard safeties release and someone yelled, "Freeze! Department of Mutant Affairs."

She screamed and her hands glowed. Figurines of cats trembled on handcrafted oak shelves. Safeties jammed and people tripped. Two figures clad in body-armor held her down on the bed. The young Wren struggled as a third figure shrouded in silhouette approached her with a strange circlet in hands. Wren fought and kicked but the strength of her assailants overpowered her. The figure leaned forward and she heard a 'click.'

The verdant glow of her hands stopped. The figurines crashed to the floor and the shelves cracked. The swat team for the Department of Mutant Affairs carried the eighteen-year-old college student from her brother Hawke's home and loaded her into a van. Wren tried to activate her probability manipulation and found that nothing happened. A figure held a syringe and tapped the side to clear it of air bubbles. "Pleasant Dreams, Sleeping Mutie."

Demetrius watched in silent horror as the vision blurred and focused again within something that looked akin to a prison. High concrete walls surrounded the courtyard where Wren and twenty other mutants stood. He heard the words of the Commandant as he paced slowly in front of the frightened group. He lectured how that if they followed the rules that they would stay alive.

Each was taken, stripped and searched. Some of the guards committed unspeakable acts on the mutants: male and female. Wren considered herself fortunate that she had been at the end of that line. Each had been given a series of inoculations against various diseases. Some were injected with viruses that were known to be fatal. One of the lieutenants ran a scanning device past her. He gave her a stern look and a curt nod. "Your brother told me to look for you. Keep your mouth shut and you'll get out of this alive. Do you understand?"

She said nothing but nodded quickly in compliance to his question. His next words she knew saved her life. "She ain't worth the piss in my bladder. She's a delta class mutant. Process her and put her in the barracks for work detail."

She was mysteriously taken from the line and spared the horror of the inoculations. Processing meant cutting her hair so that it stood only an inch off her scalp. Processing included issuement of bright yellow prison wear. On the back of the loud jumpsuit was a brilliant orange "M." That meant Mutant. On the front, the same "M" was emblazoned on her lapel followed by a small "D" attached at the lower right leg of the letter that designated her power rating.

Processing included three guards holding her down while a laser scalpel scorched a holographic barcode onto her forehead. They seemed amused as young Wren Summers screamed as the laser scalpel branded the barcode, her prisoner number and the invisible holograph into her skin. Processing consisted of them making an incision in her skin without anesthesia and slipping in that accursed smart chip in her forearm. Afterwards, she was assigned a bunk and work detail.

Traumatized and disturbed by the events of the past twenty-four hours, Wren spent her first evening in her bunk curled in a fetal position and unaware of the world about her. The next day, a female matron brought Wren back to reality with several strong backhands to her cheeks. Wren meekly did as she was told. She vowed to make it alive out of the camps.

Work detail included serving food in the cafeteria to Mutant Affairs Officers, camp guards and other prisoners. Over the course of time, her friends and bunkmates disappeared and were replaced by fresh faces. One month passed then two. Two became four and four turned into eight. At the end, she wondered why the guards hadn't taken her away for 'medical examination' or abused worse.

One year after surviving in the camps relatively untapped, she spotted a familiar face in the line of officers waiting their turn to receive their food. He was a tall man in his late twenties with a straw jaw and cleft chin. Wide blue eyes were framed by arched brows and framed by short russet hair cut in standard military style. She saw the 1st lieutenant's bars on the lapels of his jacket. His eyes found hers and they widened a fraction and narrowed perceptively.

"You!" He barked. "Prisoner! What is your barcode number?"

She knew that he meant her. She immediately forced her eyes look forward to the opposite wall. "Sir, my barcode number is DWES68621."

Wren felt her skin crawl as he stepped forward to scrutinize her more thoroughly. "What is your given name, DWES68621?"

"Sir: Summers, Wren Elizabeth."

"Mutant class?" He probed.

"Sir: Delta." She focused her eyes on the concrete wall across the cafeteria. It was considered a venial offense to stare an officer directly in the eye.

She heard him mumble something to the Sergeant beside him. The sergeant went to the end of the counter and came back behind where she stood. The other mutants parted like the Red Sea as he strode toward her. Her serving spoon cluttered in mashed potatoes clattered on the hospital green tile floor.

"Summers,come with me." The Sergeant roughly grabbed her arm. He hissed inside her ear. "It seems Lieutenant Summers likes what he sees."

She said nothing as he escorted her from the cafeteria much to amazement and sorrow of the other prisoners. Demetrius heard mutters of 'I knew her lucky streak would break, poor girl. Hope they make it quick for her."

"Where are you taking me?" She demanded.

"Keep your mouth shut and just walk. I'm trying to keep you alive." The Sergeant growled. He led her to an office inside one of the buildings forbidden to the prisoner. He took her down a series of corridors until he escorted her inside a room. "Sit, shut up and wait."

She sat in the cold chair for almost an hour when she heard the door finally open. Inside stepped a handsome army lieutenant that she knew well. The last time she had seen him was the night she had been taken from his house.

"Hawke!"She cried out. She cared little for life that moment as she ran to his open arms. "Please! Get me out of here!"

"Wren." He stepped forward and embraced her. "We don't have much time to talk. My superior thinks I'm having a little fun with you. I didn't turn you in, Dad did."

"Gee, how'd you guess what I was going to ask first." She breathed a sigh of relief and rested her head on her brother's lapel. "I figured as such. I didn't know that my father was such a treacherous son-of-a-bitch. Did he ever give you a reason?"

"He did it because he thought they would take care of you. In his twisted mind he thinks the camps are a good thing. When he found out that you were part of the Pro-Mutant movement, he went ballistic. He didn't want the good Summers named tainted by what he called 'gene-trash."

"Can you get me out of here?" She bordered on hysteria. "Please, I'll do anything."

"I've known you were here for awhile." He admitted. He pulled away and his hands rested on her shoulders. "I was able to get you assigned to kitchen detail. I don't have enough influence to get you set free. I'm trying to get the paperwork sent through Command to have you transferred to a medium security facility. I'm trying to talk a Major into taking you as a maid."

"Great." She muttered.

"Be grateful for what I've been able to do, Wren." His ominous tone caused her to shiver. "Most like you are either camp whores or cadavers."

"I'm thankful." She bit her tongue as she said the words. "What happens now?"

"Go back to your detail and say nothing. Act as you have been and I'll try to get you out of here before winter."

The sergeant escorted her back to her post and she said nothing of the meeting with her brother. She heard later that month that he had been promoted to Captain. Suddenly, she found herself on office detail in Processing. She never saw her brother and she was never transferred, but she wasn't harmed either.

She wasn't harmed until one day one of the prison guards grabbed her breast on the serving line. Wren felt a rare burst of tremor and dumped green beans over his head. For her offense, she had been taken to an interrogation room and taught that insubordination to her betters carried a high price. She learned that the same female matron had seen to her punishment. When the beating had finished, Wren had been placed in isolation. Several days of starvation and depravation left Wren little more than a mindless vegetable.

Days following her degradation and beatings, she heard explosions outside her incarceration unit. A young man dressed in metallic body armor entered her cell. He looked like the heroic cowboy of the old West dressed in his flowing leather duster. His eyes gleamed like burning embers. He had the smile of a blackguard and the looks of the devil. Yet, his voice carried with it a gentleness that reached within her catatonic state.

"Don' you worry now, Belle. You gonna be okay. Da Professor will take care o' you." The Cajun drawl barely registered inside the young woman's mind. He lifted the limp frail body of the young woman into his arms and carried her from the cell.

"I just want to die..." She murmured as the darkness claimed her.

*************

Demetrius' lavender eyes blazed with fury and rage as he saw the atrocities committed against Wren's people simply because of their genetic status. Many more visions passed before his eyes; the mass executions, the daily cullings of the weakest, the horrid experiments performed on the most powerful mutants. He saw the headstones lined with names he had heard mentioned in passing: Jubilee, Havok, Polaris, Wildchild, and Marrow. Some had been members of various groups; some had been X-Men that had died for the cause.

Now he understood Wren's disdain for human society. He comprehended why she remained alone in the world. He recognized that why she never spoke of her past and her family. She had kept so much hidden that he never knew. It filled in the missing portions that left Wren something of a conundrum. A Sire's roar satiated with fury, anguish, and hopelessness shattered the lights in the fixture above them.

Demetrius watched this pass before him in a series of visions. There was one miniscule point of light in the insanity and darkness that clouded her life during that time. It came in the form of a lingering affection for the mysterious Cajun that rescued her. She called him the Thief of Hearts. He brought a mysterious sensuality to the usually demure Wren. The Thief's voice was a tenor that reminded her of melted butterscotch and caramel. His long tapered fingers touched her and sent her heart into an affection Demetrius thought reserved only for him.

The months of therapy with Professor Xavier and compassion of Jean Grey-Summers brought Wren from her self-imposed coma. The daily sessions of poker and interaction with the one called Remy drew Wren back from the precipice of lunacy. When the night terrors claimed her mind, he held her. When the spells of flashbacks overwhelmed her, his ability of emotional manipulation calmed her. He kept her from jumping on one occasion. Another time, he found her in the tub after she had used his straight razor on her wrists.

He took her to Atlantic City to forget her troubles. The gambling became her mainstay for rebuilding her life. It became the keystone for healing. He became the lifeline that mended her mistrust in the world and restored her faith in trust.

Demetrius recognized the feelings as they turned to love. He recognized her quiet affection as attraction for the mysterious thief that had stolen her hart. The warmth she felt for the Cajun transformed into a long, slow burn.

*************

OCTOBER 2005

"Wren...." A hand shook her shoulder. "Wren."

Her head snapped up and she saw Demetrius staring down at her. Crystalline tears flowed freely. His talons entwined in her hair as he tried in vain to hold back a sob. "My Love, I never knew."

"I guess we have more in common than you thought." She said darkly. "Humans killed your people and mine."

"You can not surely jest about the indescribable darkness that I witnessed through your eyes. How can you simply let it lie?"

"I have to or it will kill me." Her voice dropped to a whisper. "I wanted to die. God knows how many times I tried to end my life. Luck never was with me. Remy always seemed to know what I was going to do before I did."

"Who is this Remy?" Demetrius asked menacingly. "This dark thief of the night that claimed your heart so thoroughly?"

"You felt that?" She asked in a small voice.

"Aye, Milady. The fires that burn for him lie deep within you, but strongly still they blaze." The ebon warrior looked at his ladylove with soulful eyes. "Is this why your heart is not given without reservation? Is this why you evade the talk of marriage when I bring the matter to you?"

"Demetrius, I am your mate." Her eyes blazed with the depths of her pain. "Before clan and Skylaris, I made my vows to you. We went through a mating chase. We are one. I never meant for you to know that I ...had this kind of life."

"Yet, your love for him fortified your resolve for survival. This man named Remy cared so that you would not meet death too soon. I owe this Mutant many thanks." Demetrius brought her hands to lips and brushed them with kisses. He brought his brow to hers. She saw his tears fall and felt his vulnerability flow through her as a waterfall into a might river. She tenderly wiped away the warrior's tears.

"Please, Demetrius. Don't cry for me. Everything is fine. I'm here with you now. It is in the past and it can't be changed. But, we have the future and my heart is with you." She pleaded. "All I want is you."

"Do you think of him?"

"Sometimes."

"Did he love you?"

"It was complicated." She finally answered after several seconds of silence. "That question isn't easily answered."

"Was he why you left the X-Men after only a year?"

"I attended the Xavier Institute for one year. I was an X-Man for one year. I had continuous contact with them from 1997 to 2002. Look!" She threw her hands in the air and broke free of her mate's embrace. "I don't want to talk about it anymore. It's in the past. Leave it there."

"Do you still love him, Wren?"

The question caused her to stop in her tracks. She froze in horror as the words fell upon her ears. Her tail twitched as the seconds ticked away. She looked over her shoulder at the warrior standing behind her stoically with wings cloaked about him. "I love you, Demetrius."

"Do you love him also, Milady?"

"Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies." She warned him.

"Wren, I have no secrets from you." He persisted. He came behind her and embraced her. "I doubt not your love for me. Yet, how can we truly be one if your love for him still burns?"

"I never said that I still loved him!" She pulled herself free from Demetrius' embrace and stormed from the room into the kitchen.

[Liar. You know you love him in a way Demetrius could never understand.] Her conscience chided her. She remembered the missions and the life-threatening conditions that bonded the duo into a cohesive unit. His schism with Rogue and her need for healing brought them together in a way closer than family and more intimate than lovers. She made every attempt in the past three years to forget crimson eyes burning their way into her soul. Wren Summers begged the Powers-That-Be to cause her mind forgetfulness about Remy's sweet, sensitive touch or his scorching kisses.

Wren's clenched fist found it's way through the perfect white wall near the refrigerator. With her newfound Gargoyle-like abilities, she forgot that meant increased strength as well as agility. She slid down the wall and huddled in the corner sobbing. The final solution for her had been to leave. Now, that solution needed resolution. She knew that there was none to be found.

"Love?" A quiet voice entered her private torture.

She silently looked up at her lover kneeling before her. "I'm sorry, Demetrius. I didn't know that it would come to this."

"Let me see it all, Milady." He urged. "I'll not love you less. Where you go, I go. Where you lead, I follow. What you are, so shall I become. I know your pain as mine. Let me help carry this burden that lies heavy on your heart. Perhaps the peace and answers you seek will come of this."

"You won't like it Demetrius." She smiled through her tears. "I don't want to break your heart."

"Oh, Love." He brushed the single white streak that fell errantly across her horned brow. "I have always been yours."

"All right..." Wren opened that part of herself that she had kept locked away for almost a decade. She let open the darkest, deepest depths of her souls to the one male who might see them. The bond intensified with each emotion pulsating through it. Demetrius and Wren were swept away in a maelstrom of passion, deceit, love, betrayal, anguish, sorrow, ecstasy, and dreams.

***************

XAVIER INSTITUTE 1997
WREN SUMMER'S DORM ROOM.


Thief Of Hearts... She stared at the reflection posed so perfectly in the mirror before her. How she missed his tapered fingers gently stroking her cheek. She craved his fervent kisses. His smooth, silky greeting of "G'Mornin', Belle" brightened the dawn of each new day. She felt Remy's empathic response touch her consciousness and send primal waves throughout her core. He was her lifeline No method of science explicated the symbiotic bond that they shared.

He was a suave libertine that enchanted the ladies. His empathic gifts soothed her fragile nature. Her aptness at forging empathic melds strengthened her sanity; giving Wren a mental anchor with endless healing. They needed each other. They were one heart and one mind. Remy and Wren became one entity.

Remy was the father that replaced the conspirator that betrayed her. He was the brother that comforted her. He was the one that cherished her when no one wanted her. He was the man that brought love from her. He was all that she needed. He became her reason for living and her risk worth taking.

She began the healing process under Jean Grey-Summer's watchful telepathic administrations. The Commandant was in Federal custody. All seemed right to the world until one fateful mission ripped everything asunder. Now, Gambit's horrible secret had, at last, made its way to the foyer. Wren never anticipated that his abhorrent indiscretions would be revealed in such a harsh fashion.

Remy infiltrated the X-Men upon Sinister's orders and intended to betray them to his diabolical master.

Wren felt Remy's pain halfway around the world. As she stared at her reflection in the silver antique mirror, she felt that familiar rapport overtake her mind. She felt the gentle, warm vibrations at the base of her skull. She heard his soul cry tears of desolation and despair. She felt the cold arctic winds freeze his tears against his cheeks. She felt the chill of arctic frost sting her skin. She wasn't the empathy; he was. She silently prayed to whatever deity that heard her to simply make the bond vanish. His memories became hers and his feelings dwelled within her as thought she felt them firsthand.

The final words exchanged between Remy and Rogue cause nausea to churn in Wren's sensitive stomach. The sounds of the harsh exchange were strident torture as they resounded inside of her mind. She clasped her hand over her mouth as her lunch demanded freedom from her stomach. Wren rushed to the bathroom, but still the words invaded her mind in an onslaught of fury and sorrow.

"...Rogue, I don't care if you leave me here, Chere', but you have to understand-"

"You think ah can understand you? " Wren felt the raw emotions of confusion, rage, and betrayal coursing through her best friend. "You think wrong, Mistuh!!"

The resolution and finality of the situation had a calming effect upon Remy. "Fine. Then, I've earned your hatred. But, at least get me somewhere that'll give me a chance ta get back home."

"HOME!?!?" Rogue's feeling of indignation was so intense that Wren felt vertigo, nausea, and dizziness slam her as a psionic punch. "You ain't got no home, Sugah, not with me...and not with the X-Men. Fend for yourself. You seem to have done a good job of that in the past...."

"You're honest with the people you love, Gambit. Otherwise," Wren psionically saw the resolution in Rogue as she turned her back one last time upon her Cajun sweetheart. "It's a gamble."

The glaring white of the arctic snows faded from Wren's troubled mind as she wretched into the toilet. While she laid on the cool tile floor, a somewhat lucidity entered her thoughts in lieu of the empathic assault just experience. Left in its place was the pragmatic observation that Gambit was stranded in sub-zero temperatures. He would freeze to death. Wren refused to leave Remy to the mercilessness of Mother Nature. Without another word, she went to her closet and retrieved her blue and gold uniform that she wore with pride.

"Never leave home without it." She thought wryly as she donned the uniform. She washed her face and combed her hair so that it was out of her face. Remy had saved her from the bowels of Hell. She could do no less for him. Now, they had come full circle.

[Whom can I trust?] She thought wildly. [I have no way to get there under my power. He's freezing to death and I can't reach him.]

There was one person that came to mind that might be barmy enough to assist her. Armand DeVoe, contemporary of Xavier and Child of Oberon. Her was currently at the mansion to see to matters while Professor Xavier was gone. She would owe him an immeasurable debt, but it was worth it if they saved Remy's life. He also had the access codes to the air hanger in the sub-levels beneath the mansion.

"Armand." She said his name crisply as she pressed her "X" logo on her comm badge. "Are you here?"

"Oh, yes!" He replied merrily. "Lass, what are ye' needin'?"

"I need your help."

"How can I help ye?"

"I don't need Armand DeVoe." She said softly. "I need you as Armand, child of Oberon."

"Oh, wonderful." The voice came crisp and clear across the commlink. "I always did like a challenge. What do you have in mind?"

Wren explained the situation at hand regarding Remy being stranded in the Arctic. "My, my, my...you do have a tall order for me to fill. Your grandfather would simply have a tizzy if I didn't assist you in this. And I need the amusement."

"Amusement to you!" She blasted. "How can you think it's quaint or droll that someone is left abandoned and dying?"

Silence met her question. "Lass, I nae find it entertaining to see cruelty enacted upon any; be they mortal or fae. What would you have me do?

She forced herself to take several deep breaths and to find serenity. "Armand, bring the plane around, pronto! We have a priority one rescue mission."

"Roger that." Came the reply.

BFFFTT!! In front of her in the bathroom instantly stood a figure surrounded in fluttering rose petals and morning mists. He clicked his tongue as he spotted her pale complexion. "Those empathic links with Remy are going to do you in, Lass. Ye nae not look well."

"He's dying, Armand." She replied harshly. "He linked us with that damned empathic ability of his. I promise you this; I'll never let it happen again! But, that's not the point. He needs our help and everyone on this team has turned his back on him."

"Why not you?" He asked. She watched the raven-haired elf sit lotus-style while levitating in midair. His long straight tresses floated as if he were underwater. "He's supposedly a traitor to every member of the X-Men."

"He saved my life." She reminded him. "He kept me together when I wanted to chuck everything and say, 'Screw it.' He wouldn't allow me the easy way out by dying. He challenged me to live. And... I love him, Armand. Please...I'm begging. Help me save him."

"Wren, m'girl, you present a winning argument. Ye know that there's a price to be exacted for invoking a child of Oberon." He said gravely. "I cannae be breakin' all the rules."

"I'll pay whatever price you ask." She reassured him. "Just help me save him, please."

"Do ye wish to know the price?" He asked.

"Later! We're wasting time." She snapped.

"Then we won't be needin' the plane." The taciturn child of Oberon danced about her. "We simply need to find our way to him....hmm?"

"In the land of ice and snow
We search for one intimately known
By this shy mutant known as Wren
Who longs to see her thief again

So mote it be the price be paid
And so the magick be relayed
To the land of ice and so we ascend
And they our way towards home doth we wend."

The soft pastels of her room unexpectedly became a cold, frigid wind of ice and chill. The chill settled on the outside of her uniform. Though it protected her from hazardous conditions, the cold seep its way into her aching soul. The blizzard blinded her sight. The elf seemed unphased by the gusts of wind blowing past him. She wandered forward for a few yards and saw six figures leaving him and heading towards their aircraft. Wren recognized them to be Rogue, Archangel, Psylocke, Beast, Maggot and the human named Trish Welby.

"Rogue, I hope you burn in Hell, you treacherous bitch." She muttered through chattering teeth. Wren decided not to notify her fellow teammates of her proximity or of her intentions of rescuing Remy LeBeau from the clutches of the Arctic cold.

"I see him." Armand affirmed. "He doesn't look good, Lass."

"Oh, no!" Wren stared at the screen displaying the lifeless image of Remy lying in the snow. Wren rushed to the dying Cajun lying helpless and frozen in the snow. She kneeled and lifted him into her arms. "Remy...Remy....It's going to be all right. I promise."

'Rogue....Ma chere....j'taim."

The French declaration of love for Rogue ripped at her heartstrings. She quickly put her emotions aside looked at Armand. He nodded in understanding. He made a series of intricate hand gestures and recited the incantation

"How I despise this frigid cold
I really find it getting old
To Hearth and haven let us return
And of this thief's condition learn."

Wren held Remy close to her chest as she found all three of them in the X-Men's infirmary. She knew they had roughly two hours before the team of traitors returned. She laid him on the table and covered him with a blanket.

"Armand, please help him." Wren tucked the blanket in around the Cajun. "Where are we going to do now? We aren't exactly going to be welcome back at the school."

"Ah, ye mutant so bereft of faith." Armand chided her gently. "You forget that I am a woman of many resources. We're heading to my Linoma headquarters."

"I don't think I'm feeling so well." Wren swooned and crumpled in a pile at the elf's feet. He shook his head in dismay.

"Big heart, pitiful constitution." He took the unconscious woman's hand in his and took hold of Remy's trembling body. In the flash of spark and light, they left the Xavier Institute behind them.

***********

Wren found herself tucked comfortably in a king-sized bed. She abruptly sat upright trying to figure out her surroundings. Soft cream walls and lavender curtains greeted her. The aches and chills of her brief time in the Arctic lingered in her body. She felt familiar warmth beside her. She turned to see a peaceful figure slumbering.

Remy snuggled instinctively into her warmth. She let the joy run freely through her being as she silently thanked the Powers-That-Be for his safe return. She placed her palm against his forehead. [Warm to the touch is not a good thing.] She thought. [I hope that he awakens soon.]

Remy had finally come clean about his past. She never thought that day would have been possible. She certainly never expected the backhanded response from her fellow X-men. The entire team had fallen apart since the incarceration of Professor Xavier by the Government during the Kelly Administration. Oh, how Wren wished that she possessed his wisdom.

Armand had been absolutely right. His Linoma estate was the perfect place for her to hide and Remy to heal from his exposure to the elements. When he was ready and willing, they would talk. For now, it was enough for Wren to know that her friend was out of danger. What was she to tell her teammates? She knew that they would not understand her reasoning.

The Professor's tenets stressed peaceful coexistence between Humans and Mutants. The tenets also emphasized the importance of loyalty and honor. Gambit had watched Wren's back many times. He had saved her life more than once. He was the one friend that did not care about her tragic past. To Wren he had always been just Remy. He was well worth all that she risked.

She placed a chaste kiss to his warm brow. "Remy, don't worry. It doesn't matter to me the man you once were. It only matters whom you choose to be now. Just be well."

His eyes began to flutter. Soon his crimson gaze stared into sweet and gentle hazel orbs.

"Belle? Is dat you?" His words sounded ragged and hoarse to her ears.

Relief flooded over Wren. "Well, I'm not the tooth fairy."

"Oh, Belle. You should have left me there." He turned from her and stared at the wall. Remy closed his eyes to stem his tears and hid his shame.

"Not on your life, Remy. You'd have given those penguins indigestion." She desperately attempted brevity to bring a smile to his face.

"I be to spicy for dem, Belle."

She grinned at his quick retort. A smile erased the lines of worry crossing her features.

"The X-Men know about me....there are things you don't know....."

"It doesn't matter to me." She gave him a knowing smile. "You forget, mon ami, I know your heart because of the link we share. That's all I need."

"But, Wren, Chere''', you don't know 'bout what I done..."

"I know it all, Remy, from your meetings with Sinister to your involvement with the Morlock Massacre." She took his tapered fingers and intertwined them with her own. "What you did is deplorable. I won't deny that. However, that was then and this is now. You're not the same man that made those decisions. It was wrong of the others to leave you there to die."

"Can't say as I blame them, Wren. That's no less than what I deserve."

"Oh, please. Spare me the pity party. It doesn't become you." She gently punched him in the arm.

She heard the grim chuckle rumble from Gambit's throat. "You always be hot and spicy."

"You make me sound like fried chicken, Remy. I truly believe that you are a better man that what you were. That was then and this is now. I like the man you are now."

A roguish smile graced Remy's chiseled features. "You like what you see, Wren? I can show you more."

"Remy LeBeau, shame on you. That's not what I meant and you know it." She was happy to see that he had not lost that racy sense of humor. That was a good sign. "However, I have faith in you, my friend."

Solemnity squelched the flirtatious mood between them. "How can you after what I have done?"

Wren's hazel eyes blazed with emerald flames of love and affection. "I can see inside the very depths of your soul. I have been there and I have seen the heart of a kind and compassionate man. You are not of the ilk of your former employer or his recruits. You are a man worthy of loyalty, honor, and trust."

"Oh, Belle." A solitary teardrop traced a path along Remy's stubbled cheek. "I don't want anyone to forget 'bout what I've done. I just want to be forgiven."

"Hush, Remy." Wren quickly placed to fingers to his sensuously full lips. "Let's not even go there. "All that I am worried about is caring for your current medical condition. You were exposed to the elements and it's had its consequences."

"Our link don' lie, Wren. I can feel you chokin' back de revulsion. I can feel you denial oozin' from your pores." The hollow, empty eyes were that of a condemned man. "I couldn't ......Oh, gods....I c-couldn't take it if you hated me too. Please don't hate me."

"Oh, Remy." She gathered his lithe masculine frame into her arms. She felt his rising fever through the sleeves of her uniform. "The last thing that I could ever do is hate you. I know it hurts."

She leaned forward and placed a soft, gentle kiss on Remy's cheek. "It will hurt for some time. The pain will lessen with the passage of time. I've been there and I've done that. Right now, we have to get you strong and healthy again."

"Don't leave me, Wren." Wren felt his granite body shutter repeated in her embrace. The wet warmth of tears fell on her shoulder. His sobs came in broken, ragged breaths. Her mind fought to distance her from his empathic sendings of sorrow and despair. "I'm so scared."

It seemed an eternity as Wren rocked Remy slowly in her arms. She whispered soothing reassuring words in his ear. She whispered quiet words of acceptance and love to cocoon him in a quilt of security. She felt the stress and guilt drain him of his energy. It hurt her to see him this way, so vulnerable and alone. Finally, the shudders and sobs subsided into a heavy, labored breathing. The Cajun slowed pulled away from Wren and wiped his eyes of the last remaining tears. He ran his fingers through his disheveled hair.

"Wren." His smooth Cajun brogue carried a caress in its tone. "Thank-you."

"No problem, Remy." She felt her fluttering heart skip a beat. "It will get better. You need your rest now. It won't do you any good to be up all night lamenting about your dire straits. Get some sleep and we'll talk tomorrow."

She pulled the covers up to his neck and ginger tucked them in around his massive form. Her cool, wet lips branded Remy when she placed a chaste peck upon his forehead. "Good night, Remy."

Zzzzzzz

TO BE CONTINUED