Note: Please excuse my lateness.

This was by far the hardest chapter to write because of one crucial scene I had in mind the day I sat down and wrote the prologue. I wrote everything in the past as a build up to this chapter, so I hope it turned out as I intended it to.

Special thanks to Randirogue who wondered about the motivation of one of the characters which lead me to an angle I would not have picked up on ;o)

Stolen

Chapter 5

The Exchange

Rogue took a deep breath as she stood outside room number 3 of the single story Motel 6. Her body was shaking as she desperately tried to calm her nerves. Her son and her ex-lover/new enemy would be behind the motel door and she quickly mulled over how far she was willing to go to get Charlie back safe and sound.

A replay of her husband's words to her danced through her mind. 'And what would you do? If he asks for you in exchange of Charlie?' She closed her eyes saying a silent prayer in hopes it would never come down to that, though she knew Remy was not above toying with her in such a way.

A gust of wind passed by her, spraying her hair in her face. She took a quick glance behind into the dark night. Besides the scattered trees and the cars that zoomed across the freeway in the distance, she saw nothing, but knew she was not alone. Giving a firm nod of her head to a team she could not see, she puffed out her chest and kicked open the door.

Rogue barged into the room stopping short when she saw Jean sitting in a chair a couple of feet from the door as if she had been expecting an invasion.

"Where is he!" Rogue demanded as the redhead sat perfectly still. "Where's mah son!"

Jean remained poised, preferring to stay silent while Rogue became infuriated. She watched as the frantic mother stormed into the bedroom and listened to the sounds of objects being thrown to the floor and banged against the wall. She waited patiently for Rogue to reemerge from the bedroom and watched as she headed straight toward the only other closed door which contained the bathroom.

Through the loud noises echoing through the room, Jean imagined Rogue violently pushing aside the shower curtain and mentally pictured Rogue's moment of optimism turn to sadness at the realization her son was not hidden in the bathtub.

Rogue popped out the bathroom looking feverishly around the small living area, not yet ready to give up.

Jean stood up expressionless and crossed her arms. "I've been waiting for you."

She barely heard Jean as she pushed her aside still in search.

"It's useless, Rogue." There was no point in searching. Every corner she checked or furniture she looked under was in vain. "Your son is gone."

Her words pierced Rogue's heart. She stood motionless for the first time since she entered the Motel room, willing to accept the fact Charlie was nowhere to be seen. She spun around to face Jean, her worried face begging for answers.

Hearing her silent plea, Jean confessed, "Gambit figured you were getting close to finding his location, so he took the boy and split."

Rogue approached her, grabbing onto her arms and pulling her forward. "Where did they go?"

She shook herself free from Rogue's grasp. "It's nice to see you too."

She clenched her teeth and spoke with an urgent tone, "Jean, mah son has been kidnaped, so excuse meh if Ah don't wan' tah take a moment tah reminisce on old times."

"Old times?" Jean managed to laugh out her disbelief. "Interesting choice of words for you to say. I would have said 'difficult times' or 'torturous times'..."

"Yes, Jean, Ah remember!" Rogue cut in as she threw her hands up in the air. "Yah were captured by the enemy, Magneto left yah tah yahr own demise. Yah were beaten in captivity so badly yah lost any chance of ever bearin' a child." The power that was in her voice began to fade as she spoke on, "A few of The X-Men lead by Gambit disobeyed direct orders from Eric and rescued yah and yah've held him responsible ever since."

Jean was slightly impressed by Rogue's retelling of her history. "I guess you do remember."

"But yah seem tah forget Ah had nothin' tah do with it. Yah're angry with Eric, not meh."

Jean became enraged and snapped, "I know who I'm angry with."

"Then why am Ah bein' punished?"

"Guilty by association," sheanswered casually with a shrug. "You should have never married the bastard. Now his son has to pay for his past sins."

Rogue looked over her former teammate who seemed to be so filled with so much resentment. And even through all the frustration and hate, she knew Jean's feelings where a front and that the loving woman she had known in the past was lurking deep within. "Jean, no matter how tough yah are tryin' tah act now, there is no way yah can convince meh yah're so heartless." She closed her eyes, shaking her head. "He's only four years old. He's never been away from home. He mus' be scared out of his mind."

"He's doing pretty well considering," she replied matter of factly. "I've been in his mind. He isn't scared. He's become sort of attached to Remy and they seem to be doing well together."

"Please, Jean. Ah'm beggin' yah. Yah mus' know that there are many people who would love gettin' their hands on mah son, Eric's son." In a last ditch effort, she grabbed Jean's hand and looked her deep in the eyes. "Help meh find him."

She shook her head. "You're wrong in assuming I have any knowledge of where the boy is. Gambit is way too smart to confide in me and I owe him too much to deliberately search his mind."

Bullshit! Her eyes did not waver. "Are yah lyin' tah meh?"

"No," a new voice added, "she isn't."

Rogue let go of Jean's hands as they both turned towards the door to see Betsy standing with two fingers on either side of her head.

She then placed her hands at her side still in deep concentration. "At least not as far as I can tell." Betsy could feel a force preventing her from moving any deeper into Jean's mind. "Though I do detect some kind of mental block. It's as if she has a temporary wall in her mind to prevent her from letting any relevant information slip."

Jean instinctively put up her mental shields as she examined the purple haired Asian. She sized up the other mutant, having seen so few telepaths in her lifetime--wanting to make sure she was still the most powerful. She raised a brow. "You must be a telepath."

"Actually, I'm more of a telekinetic that dabbles in telepathy from time to time..."

"Psylocke, put a lid on it," Rogue snapped, unwilling to hear anymore of Betsy's rambling about her mutation. She slumped down on a worn out sofa completely exhausted. "Ah was so sure mah baby would be here."

"He isn't." Even though Jean had felt the same kind of lost in the past which made her come to hate Eric, she still could not help but ache for Rogue. Lowering down on one knee, she placed a hand on Rogue's thigh. "I'm sorry."

She looked down at her.

Taking hold of her hand and gving it a small squeeze, Jean added remorsefully, "I truly am."

(on the jet)

The Thief was standing directly beside a man with dark shoulder length stringy hair and a patch over his right eye–the man also happened to be piloting the jet. Remy stared out the window into the dark sky, finally able to see the end of his journey in sight.

Can't believe my luck! His jittery fingers continually tapped over top the pilot's headrest. Soon as I realized dat Charlie had contacted both de X-Men and my father, de government dropped de no fly zone and I was able t' get de guys t' send me de plane.

He could feel Charlie still sitting next to him, the boy's side brushing against his foot from time to time. At least he finally stopped hangin' on t' my leg.

Leaning forward, positioning himself closer to the one in charge, he asked, "Scalp, are we almost dere yet?"

Scalphunter brushed Remy away with one hand and did not bother to look away from the controls when he answered, "That's the seventh time ya asked that question."

Blockbuster added, "You're gettin' to be more annoyin' than the kid."

"Mah name is Charlie," the frustrated boy wined to the very large muscular man. He had long ago gotten over the thrill of being high above the clouds and had started to become anxious. He did not know where he was going and he was worried his mother would have trouble finding him.

Blockbuster leered at the boy. "No one gives a shit what yer name is."

Charlie crinkled his nose, his fingers curling into a fist. "Yah're a meanie!"

Remy observed the impending situation with concern as Charlie stormed away from the big bully and sat against the side of the plane hugging his knees. Blockbuster had been taking verbal jabs at the boy the entire trip, so much so Remy could not bite his tongue any longer. Lowering his voice, he said, "Hey, take it easy on him."

"What? Am I upsettin' your lil' boyfriend?" Blockbuster taunted. For a split second, his expression changed as if Remy were suddenly a different person–the man he first met years ago. "After all these months ya now give a shit about someone other than yourself?"

Remy shook his head with a chuckle, squashing any notion he had suddenly grown a conscience. "I'm warnin' ya for my own sanity. Ya don't know how brutal de kid can get once ya get him started."

The muscular man snickered. "Nope, you're still the same bastard."

Remy looked back over his shoulder at Charlie to make sure he had not move from the same spot.

The boy caught his eye and stood up to walk over to him. "Why did we leave?" He asked wide eyed. "Mamah said she was comin' for meh and now she won't know where tah find meh."

Oh Shit, his lips are startin' t' tremble. "Don't ya start wit' de waterworks," he warned, shaking his finger. "I'm takin' ya home t' your mother now."

"Yah are!"

"Yup."

"Yay!" He was soon going to be home–soon to be reunited with his family and although he enjoyed his time in the outside world with his uncle Remy, he really could not wait to fall asleep curled up with his favorite blue blankie in his own bed.

"Now go sit and be quiet," he ordered, pointing with his chin to the back corner of the plane. He watched until the boy happily made his way to the back, annoyingly asking for a high-five from each hooligan he passed on his way down the aisle. Remy focused back on Scalphunter, his mind already thinking two steps ahead toward the next stage of his plan. "So de big guy is all set up? " He inquired. "Did he make contact yet?"

"Ya know, ya ask way too many questions for your own good." He cracked a smile. "Just go sit and be quiet," he added, mocking what Remy had said to Charlie. "You'll find out what you need to soon enough."

I don't like de sound of dat. "Whatever ya say," he answered, in no way giving away that he was getting suspicious. Instead of t'inkin' two steps ahead, I should of been t'inkin' five steps ahead.

The thief made his way to the back of the plane trying to get as far away from the men as possible. He took out his cell phone and began dialing an old number from memory. He listened as the phone rang and when the person answered, he was about to speak freely when he noticed how intensely Charlie was staring at him. He turned his back to the boy and began speaking in his native tongue.

The conversation lasted less then a minute when Remy flipped his phone shut. He spun around and stopped to see Charlie directly in front of him. "What?"

He took hold of the end of Remy's jacket and yanked on it. "Yah said Ah was goin' back tah mamah!"

Shoving the cell into one of his many pockets, he answered, "Yeah, dat's right."

"Fibber!" He yelled. His growing red cheeks and the way he scrunched his brows reminded Remy of the way Rogue would look long ago when he would purposely get too close to her exposed skin. "That's not what yah said on the phone!"

Remy quickly looked toward the front of the plane to make certain no one else could hear the high pitch squeal. He grabbed the boy by the collar of his shirt and yanked him into the washroom. He made Charlie sit on the toilet seat cover. "Ya know French?

"Yes," he answered with his arms tightly folded.

He bent down on one knee to better examine Charlie. "How do ya know French?"

His right left leg was shaking. "Mah daddy made mah nanny teach meh."

Magneto? "French?" He repeated just to make sure he heard right.

"Yes!"

"But why French?" He half expected the boy to answer, 'Mah daddy taught meh french jus' incase yah were ever tah kidnap meh, Ah could eavesdrop on all yah're secret plans.'

Charlie stopped listening to Remy and stomped his foot in anger. "Ah wanna go back tah mamah!" Tears began to steam down his cheeks.

He threw his hands in the air as the inevitable finally happened. "Here we go!"

(back at the motel)

As Jean knelt in front of Rogue, her eyes wandered over to the other telepath. Their eyes connected, though they did not speak.

"Jean?" A new voice called out from behind her, causing her to break her connection with Betsy.

Recognizing the voice, she stood up and spun around with excitement. "Kurt!"

The blue man stood with his hands outstretched as Jean ran towards him, wrapping her arms around him. "It's so good to see you!" He held onto her tightly as she pecked his cheek multiple times. "It's been so long."

"Too long." She backed away from the embrace still holding on to his hands, her joyous face turning into one of deep concern. "How are you doing?"

"I'm great!" Standing up taller, he added, "As you can see, I'm much better compared to ze last time you saw me."

"Yes, yes, you are." She nodded her head vigorously. "As am I."

Betsy watched the unfolding scene not completely sure of what was going on. Sitting down on the arm of the sofa, she asked Rogue, "What's this all about?"

Rogue had not been paying attention to Jean and Kurt's happy reunion, but she did know why they seemed so joyous. "He saved her life." Yes, it was Gambit who lead the rescue team, but it was Kurt who found her first. "Blocked her from a blast that almost killed him."

Betsy nodded her head with understanding remembering when she first saw Kurt he was using a cane. "That explains the limp."

"I vant to thank you for helping us vith finding Charlie."

For the first time since he appeared, she could not look him in the eyes. "I didn't help at all." Jean let go of his hands and looked back to Rogue. "I don't know anything."

Kurt shuffled a bit to the left so that he was again in Jean's sight, forcing her to again look at him. "Ze fact that you told us zat much is in itself enough."

"Charlie?" Her smile was bright, reflecting on where the origin of the name came from. "That's the boy's name?"

He nodded his head.

Charles Xavier was a powerful telepath. The man who first had the dream Eric was left to fulfill. "Gambit never told me his name."

"I'm not surprised." He responded with a sad smile. He most likely didn't want Jean to have any kind of emotional connection with Charlie. "I'm Charlie's godfather. He is at that age where he is a ball of energy. It's not so easy chasing him around ze mansion, but for him I vould do anything. I'm determined to get him back. We all are. Hopefully Gambit vill tire of zis game and bring Charlie home."

"It's not a game, Kurt," she corrected him."Yes, I don't know much, but I do know this isn't a game." Turning her attention back to Rogue, she said, "You're too late. There isn't anything else you can do."

"Vhat about you?"

Startled, she turned to him again. "Huh?"

"I've never asked anything of you before, but if zere is anything else you can do..."

She shook her head, not wanting him to complete his sentence. "I don't..."

"If zere is anything else you can do," he interrupted, "vill you do it...for me?"

She stared at the man, who without a seconds thought put her life before his own, and she knew she could not dismiss his plea. "If I can...I'll try."

Giving her another hug, he whispered into her ear, "Zat is all I ask."

(minutes later outside the motel)

The Assassin/Thieve Guild lay hidden in the darkness and waited as the X-Men exited the motel. They watched the superhero team stagger in the direction of their jet without the zeal they had shown before when the first entered the room.

"Are we waitin' for dem t' take off in deir plane before we enter?" One of the Guild members asked his Master.

"Dere is no point," Jean Luc answered regrettably. "De X-Men did not leave wit' a li'l boy and dey did not leave wit' Remy."

The man understood immediately. "Gambit mus' have figured we were on t' him and took off."

"And by de looks of de X-Men, dey probably don't know where he has gone."

"Should we head back t' de base?"

"We must." The sound of the plane engine starting up caused him to raise his voice, "No use searchin' for Gambit anymore. De trail has gone cold–de lucky bastard."

(Sinister's layer)

After a couple of days on the road, Remy finally reached his destination. Although this particular base was new to him, all the faces working diligently in the background of the control room were familiar. It had been years since he first left the Thieves Guild and was picked out by Sinister to do a couple of jobs before moving on to the X-Men. He took the time to acknowledge those who stopped by to pat him on the back and took even more time to flirt with his past flames.

When all of the pleasantries had been exchanged he walked over to the leader. "Will I get de jet when I take de kid back t' his folks?" Remy stood behind Sinister as Charlie payed little attention to his new surroundings, instead he was focused on flying his toy plane around the room.

Even though Sinister was more concerned with the computer screen, he asked, "Oh, Gambit, do I look like a fool?"

Remy looked him over. "Considerin' ya're wearin' a cape and can't fly, I'd have t' answer yes."

Sinister ignored the soft laughter in the background. "I'm not entrusting the boy to you after you've been payed." Tracking his global monitor, he said casually, "The boy will be killed."

"Ya can't be so stupid," Remy responded in disbelief. "De kid's wort' more alive dan dead."

"Worth more?" He sounded as if he were insulted. "Unlike you, I am not desperate for cash. I know that if I let you leave with the boy instead of taking him to his mother, you will sell him to whoever else."

Remy accepted his answer. "Ya do know me."

"The boy dies here, along with all other opportunities for you to profit."

Despite de cape, he is no fool. "And Magneto?" He asked, trailing behind him. "Will ya tell him?"

"He'll find out about his son's demise when they both meet again in the after life."

After life? "Why Nathaniel, I never knew ya where a religious man."

He shook his head with annoyance, but decided not to comment. Facing the control center, he orderedPrism, "Establish a connection with the X-Men base."

Sinister stood tall in front of the view screen, making sure only he was visible to the person on the other side and waited to be connected.

"They've accepted the connection," Prism informed as he typed away on the computer preparing to open the line of communication. "You're on...now."

Eric's upper body appeared on the screen, his face looking stern. "What is it you want, Sinister? I have no time for any nonsense."

It seems they still haven't figured out Gambit was heading for my base. "I believe I have something that belongs to you."

Eric stared impatiently at the screen.

"Hand him over."

He watched closely as Sinister held out his hand waiting to be handed something.

A young voice could be heard off camera screaming, "Eck! The monster."

Sinister frowned with annoyance. "I'm not a monster."

"It'll be okay, Charlie," Remy whispered, trying to calm him.

Eric stood up from the chair as his boy was placed in Sinister's outstretched arms. He was in shock. "My son!"

Charlie turned around to see his father on the computer screen. "Daddy! Ah can see yah!"

He wanted to feel relieved at finally seeing his boy, but he knew Charlie was not yet safe. "Charles, are you okay?"

"Yes, daddy." He paused, seeing his dad only made his heart ache to be reunited with his family. "But Ah think Ah wan' tah come home now. Ah miss yah."

Trying to sound reassuring, he said, "You needed worry, you'll be home soon."

"Perfect," Sinister cut in, interrupting the father-son moment. "Your computer should have picked up our location. You have an hour to collect your son. And you must come alone or else." For dramatic effect he traced his index finger along Charlie's little neck.

The boy began to laugh, twisting in the man's arms. "That tickles!"

Sinister rolled his eyes. "Well, you get the point."

Signal disconnected.

(X-Men base)

No one in the team dared to speak a word, too caught up in their own feelings of helplessness. Not knowing what to do next, Eric flopped back down in his chair. He stared at the blank screen for less than a second, trying togather his thoughts. The fact that Remy brought Charlie to Sinister went totally against what he assumed the thief would do.

I guess Gambit is taking his vendetta against me to the extreme. He was troubled more so now that Sinister was in the mix; Sinister could be unpredictable. Gambit is playing with fire. Getting up from his seat, he ordered, "Morph, ready the jet."

The mutant immediately jumped up and headed out to the flight hanger.

Pietro stood by his father's side, matching each long step he took. "We can make it to Sinister's base in no time."

"I go alone."

He stopped dead in his tracks. Is he insane! "No way! Who knows what the hell they have planned, and as far as you're concerned, it can't be good."

"They have my son," he responded through clenched teeth. "I can't take that risk."

"Why not?" He stood tall, staring into the eyes of the man was like looking 20 or so years into the future. "You've taken that risk before."

He's talking about the many times he was put in danger for the sake of the mission–the many times he was sent out to put our cause before his life. "I go alone," he repeated emphatically then warned, "Do not tell Rogue where to find me. I don't want her to be dragged into this."

Eric again started walking toward the exit and Pietro knew to follow him. It was a walk they had taken many times before; however, this time the walk seemed longer and the silence was deafening. There was so much Pietro wanted to say, but he could not bring himself to speak.

"While I am gone, I am leaving you in charge of the team."

He nodded weakly. "Yes, sir."

When he reached the door, he stopped and turned back to his firstborn. "And in case I don't make it back..."

He could not let him finish the sentence. "Father..."

"In case I don't make it back," Eric continued over him, "I want you to be there for Rogue and your brother."

Pietro shook his head, refusing to think that would be the last time he would ever see his father again. "Don't talk like that. I could never take your place."

Eric paused, realizing how true his statement was, unfortunately. Still, he responded, "It may be time."

"Then if I have to...I will," he said confidently.

He placed his hands on his Pietro's shoulders. "I know that I haven't always been..."

"Stop...just stop." he didn't like the finality of what his father was going to say–he didn't want to hear him apologize for the way he had lived his life. "You can...you can tell me when you get back."

They did not know who made the first move, only that now they were both in a tight embrace. Pietro tried to remember the last time he hugged his father and determined it was probably at his sister's funeral.

"I love you."

"I love you."

Again, they did not know who said it first–maybe they both said it at the same time. Pietro then turned around heading in the opposite direction, not wanting to cry...not wanting his father to see him shed a tear.

Eric continued alone down the hall toward the jet, each step he took echoing through the tunnel. He stopped at the statue that sat on top of a narrow stand. It was a sculpture of Charles Xavier, his dearest friend and the man who first had the dream of mutants and humans living side by side. He never shared Xavier's dream until the day Xavier shielded him from an assassin–he had no choice but to continue the dream.

Staring at the sculpted face, he thought, Xavier, sometimes I wonder if your sacrifice was worth it. He quickly shook the thought from his head. It was too late to play the guessing game. I lived my life trying to fulfill your vision. I lived my life doing what you would have done. He traced the outline of the statue, his mind racing with many different things from the past. If you would have bumped into Ororo as a young child, you would have recruited her and reared her to be part of the X-Men.

But wouldI have lied to her about her parents being dead? A quieter voice asked.

Ignoring the voice, he continued, If the X-Men were caught up in a losing battle, you would have called for a retreat.

But during the retreat would I have left Jean Grey in captivity for weeks to fend for herself?

Trying to silence the other voice, he thought loudly, I accepted the child of an enemy when she came looking for help, instead of sending the child away. You would have done the same thing.

However, would I have slept with that same child years later? The quiet voice wondered.

In a ball of rage, he slammed his fist into the wall, right about his mentor's statue. Eventually I told 'Ro the truth, Jean was rescued and I married Rogue! He answered his own questions trying to justify his actions to himself. Yes, he had made many mistakes in his life, but he was willing to learn from them. Charlie's birth was the catalyst for his rebirth but he knew Charlie's death would be his spiritual death.

Morph ran up to his leader, interrupting his thoughts. "The small jet is ready for us to take off." He noticed the whole in the wall, but thought better then to mention it.

He sighed, hating to have to go through another argument. "I'm going alone, Morph."

"Magneto, we have some kind of idea of what Sinister has in store for you if you go alone."

Messaging his throbbing fist, he answered simply, "I'm willing to take that risk."

"But you don't have too!" He pleaded. "You are our leader–without your presence the X-Men will fall apart!" Looking away from him in guilt, Morph stated barely above a whisper, "You always said, no sacrifice was too great."

He's actually suggesting I leave Charlie to his own demise? He had to bite his tongue for a moment to keep from losing his temper. "Every member of my team has chosen to put their lives on the line to better human/mutant relations. Charlie never made that choice–he's in danger because of my–my..." his voice trailed off.

"When Rogue comes back and finds out you are with Sinister she is going go on a tirade." Instantly he transformed into the southern belle and mimicked her accent perfectly, "How the hell could you let Eric go off by himself! Yah'll need tah get slapped up side the head, maybe then yah'll have more sense!"

Any other time he would have laughed at Morph's dead-on impression of his wife. Only now, it brought on great sorrow. "She will survive."

Morph watched as Eric walked toward the jet by himself. "No," he stated sadly, changing back into his regular form, "no, she won't."

(elsewhere)

Always liking to keep his hands busy, Remy quickly shuffled his deck of cards as he leaned against the wall looking very cocky. "Ya're lucky I bothered t' bring de kid here," he told Sinister. "I had all kinds of bidders lined up."

He was not impressed. "Then why did you choose me, Lebeau?"

"Ya bid de highest," he responded matter of factly.

The evil looking man was far too worldly to buy into the Thief's half-truths. "That's a lie and you know it. I was your only bidder."

The truth hit Remy so hard, for a split second he stopped flipping the cards. He quietly wondered if anyone else had caught his slight reaction.

"No one else besides me has the power to withstand the X-Men's wrath once they realize their leader is a prisoner."

"Magneto a prisoner?" He did not feel it necessary to hide his shock anymore. "I t'ought ya were gonna kill him."

"You want him dead, don't you?"

He remained silent, knowing that if he waited long enough, Sinister would continue on with his theory.

His sharp red eyes darted over to the younger man with a new sense of intrigue. "You're vengeance for him is still that strong."

Remy hated Sinister's impression of himself. It made it seem as if he acted purely on gut instinct instead of the collected person he perceived himself to be. "It's got not'ing t' do wit' vengeance."

I may have spoken too soon. "Of course is doesn't," he corrected was a dark grin. "As usual, you don't want to get your hands dirty."

Removing his gloves, he presented his hands to the dark lord. "Look at how delicate dey are in a masculine sort of way. Do ya blame me?"

Sinister stared at him, not cracking a smile. There were times when he could be affected by Remy's charms, but today was not one of those days.

Seeing that Sinister was not in the mood to play along, Remy got serious. Now down to business. "So where's my money?"

He turned back to the global graphic on the computer and replied, "You'll get your money...as soon as I get Magneto."

(one hour later)

The room was silent. The tension in the air was thick. Fifteen minutes ago Magneto requested to land on the property. Ten minutes ago, Cyclops and Havoc were sent out to escort Eric to the hidden base. Five minutes ago Remy pulled out a cigarette and put it unlit between his lips. One minute ago Sinister ordered for Charlie to be guarded in another room by two of his men.

Everyone stood facing the door with anticipation for the doomed leader of the X-Men. Sinister stepped ahead of his men as the doors slid open. His lips separated as he smiled showing his sharp teeth. The sight of the once Great Magneto with his hands handcuffed behind his back and an activated Genosha collar around his neck, dazzled him to know end.

Cyclops and Havoc stood on either side of Eric, holding on tight to his elbow, leading him forward. The two men stopped walking once they reached the middle of the room, forcing Eric to the same. Havoc looked toward his leader who nodded his head with a silent command. With a swift kicked to the back of the prisoners leg, Havoc caused Eric's knees to buckle and he fell to the ground as if he were bowing down to his captor. He tried to stand up, however, Cyclops kept a heavy hand on his shoulder, preventing him from doing so.

"Ahh, Magneto. It's good to see you again." Taking the time to examine the shackles around his wrists and ankles, he insisted, "It really is."

"Do with me what you will," his voice still sounded strong and commanding,"but I want to first see my son."

Walking away from him, he mused, "Well, it is custom to grant a man one last wish before he dies." Turning his neck back, he added, "Because make no mistake, you are going to die."

Eric stared him down showing no visible sign of fear.

He clapped his hands twice and ordered, "Bring in the boy."

The determined look on Eric's face disappeared once he saw a side door open and his son come hopping through. Charlie looked to be in good health and that alone caused him some relief. A smile widened on his face when their eyes connected for the first time.

The boy's mouth opened wide with shock. He yanked his shoulder away from Riptide who was holding tightly onto him and ran toward his father. "Daddy!" Even though Eric was on his knees, Charlie was still shorter than him. He wrapped his arms tightly around Eric's upper body.

"Charles!" He kissed the boy's neck, wishing his hands were free so he could return the hug.

"Ah knew yah would come get meh." He stated with certainty. His expression was bright, like a proud son who wanted everyone to marvel at the man who he considered to be the only father in the world.

"You know I could never leave you."

Charlie looked expectantly behind his father, searching for the one person who would complete the happy reunion. "Where's mamah?"

Before the look of hope could disappear from the boy's face, he informed, "She's at the house waiting for you to go home so she can tuck you into bed."

"And tell meh a story?"

"Anything you want."

"Yay!" He again wrapped his tiny arms around his father, squeezing tightly. "Ah missed yah."

"You look different, like you've grown." Oh, how he wished his hands were free so he could run them through Charlie's thick hair. "Your hair is changing, I knew it would." His son's bright green eyes staring back at him reminded him too much of the love of his life. "You're looking more and more like your mother everyday."

Charlie began to get impatient, his eyes glued to the door which lead out of the large room. "Ah wanna leave now."

"Soon, you'll leave soon." And here comes the part I never wanted to say. "But I won't be leaving with you."

"Why not?"

"Because I have to stay here with these men."

Charlie looked at the big burly men surrounding them, so large and intimidating. However, with his father by his side, he had no reason to worry and so he did not. "But Ah don't wan' yah tah stay." Whispering into his ear, he added, "Ah don't like them."

"I know, but I still must stay."

"But who's gonna take meh home?"

Without hesitation, he answered, "Gambit will."

And for the first time since his father came into the room, Charlie looked back toward his road side companion. Remy nodded his head in response.

"Now, I don't want you to be scared."

Charlie puffed out his chest. "Ah'm not scared. Uncle Remy is yahr best friend, raht?"

Uncle Remy? Eric couldn't bring himself to answer the question with a lie so instead changed the subject. "I want you to be a good boy for your mother, okay?"

"Uh-huh."

"I know you will grow up to be a fine young man." With a kiss to the forehead, he added, "I know you will make me proud."

"Don't be sad." He placed a tiny finger on the edge of Eric's lip and tried to move it up to force a smile. "Yah always leave and yah always come back."

If ever he felt like crying, that moment would have been the perfect time for his tears to fall. He is mirroring the same words I would tell him every time I had to go away on a mission. It was fitting that his son was the strong one at that moment, trying to comfort him. "I love you, Charlie–always."

"Ah love yah too, papah–always." Again he gave his father a big hug, not hearing Sinister commanding his men to take Eric away.

Charlie stood happily as the guards forced Eric up and lead him out the door. He waved his arm frantically as he blew kisses and yelled, "Buh-bye!"

Maybe if Charlie were older and knew the seriousness of his last moment with his father, he would have taken the time to notice the sadness in his eyes, to analyze the haunting sound of his voice, to memorize the last words he would ever hear from him–instead he dropped to his knees and reached into his garbage bag of goodies, and took out a shiny red fire engine to roll around on the floor.

(infirmary)

Ororo slipped her hand underneath her medical robe and traced her fingers along her bandages. The pain was still strong and could be felt every time she made sudden movements to the left...and the right.

With all the alone time she had to herself, she could not help but scan the room, trying to find any way to make an escape. She wondered if escape was even possible and if she would have enough time to try and track down Jubilee.

As soon as I can stand up without falling over, I'll find a way out of...

Ororo felt a gust of wind and looked toward the direction it came from. Standing in the doorway was a tall dark muscular figure. Instinctively, her body tensed at the appearance of the man.

"Are you up to having visitors?"

She soon relaxed, somewhat. "In the shadows you look so much like your father."

Pietro stood motionless for a couple of seconds, realizing the observation came from a woman who hated his father. "Coming from you, I won't take that as a compliment." Even though she did not invite him in, he walked in anyway stopping at her bedside. Waging his finger, he stated, "I knew you looked familiar when I first saw you in the sewers. How could I ever forget my sister's childhood friend?"

"It was many years ago." Making herself more comfortable on the pillow, she continued, "You were never around much back then."

He shrugged. "I guess not." He pulled one of the chairs closer to her bed and sat down. "Dr. Braddock says that you will fully recuperate."

She looked up to the ceiling with great relief. "Thank the goddess."

"Where will you go once you get the okay?"

Rising her brows in surprise, she said, "I'm surprised I have options. I assumed I would be held captive."

"The X-Men don't hold captives for longer than is absolutely necessary."

Ororo gave him a knowing look.

As if suddenly remembering he was talking to a former X-Man–a woman who knew his father's dealings as much as he did, he corrected, "Well, at least for the time being that I'm in charge, we won't keep captives for longer than is necessary."

In charge? "Where is Magneto?"

"An hour or so ago we got a message from Sinister." He sighed heavily, his earlier fears and concern for his father, returning in a stronger dose. "It turns out that Gambit has brought Charlie to Sinister and the only way to get him back was for my father to go there alone."

Ororo sat up so quickly from her pillow, Pietro was almost certain she would fly away. "Magneto is going to sacrifice himself for the boy?"

His jaws clenched with her mention of the word sacrifice. "We're praying it won't ever get to that point."

"Eric giving his life for Charlie," she whispered more so to herself than to him. Wringing her hands together, she muttered, "How absolutely...perfect."

(meanwhile)

The Thief stood in front of Sinister's most trusted man, Cyclops (his one eye forever a reminder of what Logan would do if anyone were to get too close to Jean Grey). He guarded the prison, blocking entry into the dark cell. "What are you doing here, Gambit?"

Remy pointed his head in the direction of the locked door. "How's he doin'?"

He glanced back at the steal door which had no windows–only a tiny sliding door, which was now closed. "He's as good as dead."

Remy could not accept his response. "I'm here to make sure of it." Gesturing his hand forward, he asked, "Can I pass?"

Nodding his head, Cyclops pressed the palm of his hand on a identification pad and the door opened.

Remy stepped into the dark cell as the door closed with a loud thud. Eric was not hard to place. The battered man sat slumped in the far corner of the room, his red uniform stained with dripping dark red blood. Remy saw the rips throughout his clothes, obviously burn marks from laser blasts and cuts from a sharp blade. His mouth had a trail of blood leaking down the side of his face. The thief noticed Eric's eyes were closed, though his right eye looked as if it was swollen shut.

Remy reached into his pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. He deliberately made noise as he walked opposite Eric and leaned against the cold steal walls. Eric slowly open his eyes, one opened a bit wider than the other, and stared across the room at his ex-best friend–a man he now truly despised.

The two men did not speak, just staring intensely at one another. Eric coughed haggardly and wiped the blood from his mouth, clearly in pain, though he refused to voice his agony. His actions made Remy realize that he was not wearing shackles anymore, but he still had on an active Genosha collar.

He could see Eric was broken–Sinister's men had worked him over really good. But it will be a slow death, he observed to himself. Remy placed the cigarette to his lips then held out the package to the other man as a silent offering.

Instead of reaching for the box, he scoffed at the Thief's antics. "Are you here to finish me off?" He asked in a harsh tone of voice.

"No, I can wait." He lit the end of the cigarette using his kinetic energy. "I'm jus' a witness."

Eric became hypnotized by the glow of the cigarette. The bright light was the only thing with enough color for him to focus on other than the glow of Remy's eyes–and he refused to look Remy in the eyes. How could I have ever been bested by him? How could I ever let him steal my family--the one thing he has always wanted. "So, this was your plan all along."

He deeply sucked in the poison.

"...Get me out of the way so you can return back to the mansion with Charlie."

The nicotine invaded his system, relaxing his entire body.

"I can only imagine the story you'll make up to explain away my death to Rogue..." Eric chuckled eerily to himself, sounding a bit mad. "So you can have her for yourself."

He exhaled and watched as the grey smoke escaped his lips and threaten to overpower the clean air. He still t'inks dis is 'bout Rogue.

"Where is Charlie now?"

Remy refused to answer.

He found the silence unnerving. "Why are you being so quiet?"

Looking at the long trail of ash hanging from the nicotine stick, he wondered aloud, "I'm t'inking if it's best t' let ya die wit'peace of mind."

"It's better I die knowing the truth," he countered.

"Even though dere's not'ing ya can do t' change it?"

He lifted his upper body further up the wall so he could see Remy more clearly. "What is it?"

"Dere's been a change of plans." He shook his wrist, the particles of the ashes dispensing into the air. "Sinister has ordered Charlie's death."

Eric did not flinch. "I don't believe you." He tried to get comfortable as he sought a better position against the wall, awaiting his tortured death. "You wouldn't let that happen. You could never hurt Rogue in such a way."

"Ya seem t' be confused. Dis ain't 'bout Rogue." Twisting out the butt into the wall, he insisted, "Dis was never 'bout Rogue."

His words reminded him of his conversation with Ororo and what she had said about Remy:

'He doesn't love anything...'

'All he wants is money...'

'His hatred of you is but a memory..'

Her words caused a knot in his stomach. Could he be speaking the truth? No! If I am wrong then...he refused to even think of the consequences. "You're lying. Do not try and pull one over on me." He could feel his life slowly beginning to slip away and he tried hard to fight it. Looking at Remy in disgust, he confessed, "I still don't know how you found out, but I know that you know."

He's finally perked my interest. "Know what?"

He was confident in his theory. "I'm not falling for it."

"De lack of blood in your system mus' be doin' a number on your brain."

"You really don't know?" And for only the second time in his life, he could feel himself beginning to panic. "Where's Charlie?"

"I already told ya his fate. He was taken away by Scalphunter and Riptide. If he's not dead now, he will be soon." Removing himself from the wall, he walked over to Eric and crouched down to him. "Was it wort' it? Ya let a boy bring down de entire X-Men–or should I say, ya're love for Rogue."

"Where is he!"

"I already told ya where he is."

"It's too late for me, but you can still save him. You have to help him."

Remy shook his head. "De t'ing is, I don't have t' do shit, but watch ya die."

"He's just a boy."

"He's a liability." With a shrug, he continued logically, "It's probably better off for all dat he dies. At least dis way, if de X-Men survives your death, dey won't be put in dis kind of situation again."

And even though he was near death, a burst of strength came from within and exploded big enough for Eric to reach up and latched onto Remy's jacket pulling him forward. "You have to save him!"

"No, I don't."

"Yes, you do!"

"Why!"

"Because," he cried desperately, still trying to hold onto Remy with all the strength he could muster, "Because...Charlie is...your son!"

(elsewhere)

Scalphunter, Riptide and Charlie were in small room to themselves. The two men were transfixed as they watched the boy crawl around on the floor pushing his fire truck, oblivious to the fact that he was about to die.

Just moments before, Charlie was admiring one of Scalphunter's many firearms. Scalp was amazed by how the boy held the gun to his face trying to look down the barrel. Scalp held onto the gun, careful not to pull the trigger, which was hard because Charlie kept on annoying him about how his mother does not let him near any guns–not even toy guns–or water guns–and especially not 'Uncle Victah's' gun collection.

Soon the boy grew tired of bugging the men with many questions and began playing by himself after they refused to give him another piggyback ride.

"What are ya waitin' for?" Nudging Riptide forward with his elbow, Scalphunter ordered, "Off him."

Puzzled, he stared back at his partner. "You've been salivatin' while rubbin' that gun of yours for the past 15 minutes. I thought you were gonna do it."

"Hell no!" he stated waving his hands. "Even though I am a ruthless killer, I do have standards."

"How so?" He asked watching as Charlie continued to bash the truck into the wall while making high pitch siren noises.

"For me to kill ya, you have to be above this height," he explained raising his hand up to his navel.

"That doesn't explain the midget you killed the other day."

"They like to be called 'little people'," he corrected as Charlie left the fire truck and picked up a toy airplane. "Anyway, he gave me a funny look."

"It wasn't on purpose. He was cross eyed."

"So now ya tell me." Pointing his finger into Riptide's chest, he asked, "So, why don't you kill him?"

"That ain't gonna happen." He shuddered at the thought. "It'll be too creepy to snap his neck. And look at the size of this gun. It'll rip the sucker in half and I ain't tryin' to see that. So what are we goin' to do?" He asked anxiously. "We got orders to kill the kid..."

"...Charlie!" The boy yelled as he continued to fly his plane around the room.

"...and if we don't, Sinister is gonna..."

"Yeah, hear, I know," Scalp said waving him off with aggravation. "Just let me think."

Staring at Charlie playing by himself, he mumbled, "There's got to be a way to kill him without us having to kill him."

Rubbing his large gun, Scalphunter began to laughed darkly as an idea began to form in his mind. "I think I got it."

(inside the cell)

"Ya're delusional," Remy concluded after hearing he was Charlie's biological father. He had managed to getfree from Eric's grasp and was now pacing the cell. "Either ya're fuckin' insane or ya will truly say anyt'ing t' get de kid back."

"I know you slept with Rogue." His mind was beginning to wander. It was becoming harder for him to control his words. "It was over–all the vying for her attention–seeing which one of us she truly loved–it was over. She made her choice–she wanted to be with me, you knew it! You knew we were together. And then, you fucked her, you son of a bitch."

Didn't Rogue swear me t' secrecy? "She told ya?" He asked curiously.

"No."

"Den what makes ya so sure?"

"She was pregnant with your child!"

He rolled his eyes, already tired of Eric's lies. "Ya're goin' back t' dat story again, hieh?"

"Two mouths after you left the team..." he stopped to cough and then continued, "she told me she was pregnant. We were already married three weeks–she figured we conceived on the first and only night we made love before we got married–the night I proposed..." he again began to cough more loudly than before. "She couldn't wait, we couldn't wait until the honeymoon..."

Remy watched silently, waiting until the series of coughs subsided.

"Rogue was so excited when she told me she was pregnant. Really, she was glowing–beaming, so elated that she didn't notice how black my heart had become." He began to wheeze as he tried to breathe deeply. "She didn't realize I couldn't speak because my mouth was dry and that I didn't move because all my muscles were clenched. I knew right then that she wasn't carrying my baby. How could she be having my baby when years before I even thought about gathering a team together, I had a vasectomy–after my beloved wife passed and I swore I would never love again."

Makes sense he would snip his balls. Even though he never talked much 'bout his first wife, he would confide in me how distraught he was after her death and how he would never marry or have children again. But I guess when he fell in love wit' Rogue, he couldn't tell her how far he went t' prevent himself from ever havin' kids. She would always talk 'bout wantin' t' have children...

"I would have had my vasectomy reversed, but I did not get the chance."

"Ya're right, so I fucked her," he confessed matter-of-factly.

Even though Eric was experiencing physical pain, Remy finally admitting to sleeping with his wife caused his emotional pain to overtake him.

"Doesn't mean it's my kid. Now dat we don't have t' stand around here and pretend dat Rogue was chaste, did ya interrogate any of de other guys? Bobby, ol' Creed or even Pietro...especially Pietro?"

"You fucking..."

"And if Blink had a dick I would of put her in de mix to," he continued, "Dat girl was cock-blockin' me so often I'd swear she wanted Rogue..."

"Did you use a condom?"

"What?"

"Did you use a condom when you slept with Rogue, you bastard."

Remy thought back to that night many years ago and the answer came without hesitation. "As a matter of fact, I did. So, he's not mine."

That's impossible. "You did use one?"

"Yeah...more dan one actually." Holding up his fingers, he counted, "On your bed, on de dresser and against de wall..." he paused a moment, upon remembering new details about that night. "Though dere was dat one time on de floor where I might of slipped it in wit'out slippin' one on." Oops. Shrugging his shoulders, he concluded, "I guess he could be my kid." Looking again over to Eric, he asked, "But de white hair?"

"Yeah, that threw me too. But I talked to Mystique. She mentioned that when Rogue was born, her hair was white before it mostly turned auburn around the time she turned three." Reminiscing on his last moment with the boy, he said, "It took a little longer, but Charlie's hair is starting to change as well."

"How de hell does dis make any sense?" he asked deeply confused. "Ya knew all dis time dat kid was mine and yet ya're sittin' here dyin' for him?"

He took long deep breaths before answering, "The night you informed me you were leaving the team...I was heartbroken. I loved you like a brother and I did not want you to go. Even when you left I still loved you and at the wedding I kept on looking back toward the door thinking you would have turned up–as a friend of mine, a best friend."

Remembering how emotional he was at that time, he knew that would have never been a possibility. Like hell I was goin' t' deir weddin'.

"So when Rogue told me she was pregnant, all that love turned into hate. I hated you more than I could ever hate anyone. I hated you so much, I couldn't even look at my wife because I knew what she had done–I knew she had betrayed me." He could feel his legs begin to twitch. "And yet, I didn't say anything. I let my hatred fester while disappearing on long away trips during her pregnancy, leaving Creed to keep tabs on her and you during my absence." Some part of me thought she would secretly seek out her old love–though it turned out never to be the case. "But around the time she was due to be in labour, I made sure to make myself available. I wanted to be in the delivery room when the baby came out. I wanted to witness the look of dread on her face when the doctor handed her a baby with red eyes. I wanted to be there to see her stammer an explanation as to why my son was not my son."

"So what happened?"

"None of the above. Rogue fell asleep almost instantly, the birth leaving her completely exhausted." His eyes began to roll to the back of his head. "The doctor put a healthy baby boy in my arms and said congratulations."

"And?"

Snapping back to reality, he answered, "And...he was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. He opened his eyes–his green eyes and they were so bright. He opened his little mouth wide for a tiny yawn--how could I have thought I could ever hate this child." He smiled at the memory. "He was perfect. So new, so fresh, I don't know how, but he reminded me of...Scarlet."

His now dead daughter.

"Then I thought about you–how I wronged you. Even though I still hated you, I could see for the first time why you hated me. All that hate between us and still something so beautiful came out of it. At that moment I wanted to do something to make the situation right." He whispered, "And that's when Charles spoke to me."

Remy nodded his head. De great Charles Xavier that long ago sacrificed his life for Eric.

"I heard his voice. He said I should take the son of my enemy and love him as my own..." Firmly, he stated, "Never forgetting he is not my own."

Remy silently wondered how much of Eric's conversation with Charles was just Eric validating his own thoughts on how he should handle the birth of Charlie. He decided to keep his thoughts to himself. I refuse t' argue his bullshit.

"I started by naming my son, Charles-Remy...and when Rogue expressed interest in teaching him Spanish as a second language, I told her he should learn French."

"His interest in playin' cards?"

"I introduce that to him on his last birthday..." Everything around him looked hazy and out of focus. "You have to get him back."

"He's dead."

"Not yet." In desperation, he begged, "You can save him."

"Maybe I could...but ya're missin' one t'ing." Looking down at Eric, he said, "I don't wan' t'."

Remy was so close Eric looked into his eyes for the first time–really looked into his eyes. It was suddenly clear to him how different Remy seemed–he was not the same man he knew years ago at the mansion. Again recounting Ororo's words, Eric tried to protest, but instead began to cough out more blood.

'He doesn't love anything...'

'All he wants is money...'

'His hatred of you is but a memory..'

"I was paid t' do a job and as long as I'm paid, I'll fulfill what is required." Bending lower toward the dying man, he could see the terror in Eric's eyes. "Dere was a time years ago when I last saw ya at de Hotel in D.C..." Tracing his eyes over the broken man, he spoke on, "I pictured dis moment. Me standin' over ya...wantin' t' put my hands around your neck and squeeze out your last breath..." Softly, he began to trace his fingers around Eric's neck, seeing the man tense in response. He knew there would be no force field to protect him from Remy's act of revenge. "And now I'm here...my dream could be reality..." His fingers began to close–his grip around Eric's neck becoming stronger-- he, too weak to fight back. Remy watched as Eric opened his mouth wider trying in vain to swallow more oxygen as his already pale face became even more so.

Without any warning, he released his grip and stood up tall as Eric gasped for air. "Yet now...I jus' don't care." He smiled happily with the revelation. "I jus' don't care."

Walking back over to the wall, he leaned against it and waited patiently.

(meanwhile)

"Perfect!" Pietro could not believe the callous way in which she was speaking about Eric. "I'm sitting here telling you that my father could be murdered and that's what you say?"

"I was deep in thought," Ororo tired to explain herself. "I didn't even know I was speaking out loud."

Trying to calm himself down, he reasoned, "I know my father brought you here under false pretenses..."

"He told me a bold face lie..."

"I know--I mean, I didn't know then, but I found out after you left the team for good." Raising a finger in the air, he said, "But you can't deny that while you were here, he treated you like one of his own, like he treated all the X-Men. Maybe he was misguided..."

"...Wrong..."

"...in the way he went about certain things, but his heart was always in the right place."

"I guess you have to stick up for Magneto; after all, he is your dad, so I won't try to argue this point any further." Ororo thought back to days before watching Charlie as he played cards with Jubilee in their hideout. She remembered the mad look on his face when he realized that Jubilee would not take it easy on him. She also remembered the moment she saw Charlie's little fingers reach for the deck of cards and being struck with the realization that his hands were the exact replica (though on a smaller scale) of Remy's hands. Yes, the boy truly looks like his mother, but Charlie's long delicate fingers were no match for Magneto's thick strong hands.

Again, she looked at Pietro, loving that Eric was dying for a another man's child. "It's just...perfect."

(outside the prisoner's cell)

Cyclops stared as Remy patted down his trench coat. His silence was starting to get to Cyclops, who finally asked, "Is he..."

With a new cigarette between his lips, he answered, "He's dead."

Cyclops glaned back at the door, keeping his thoughts private. "Are you sure?"

"I stood over him a couple minutes t' make sure he wouldn't start breathing again. His heart stopped."

He nodded his head in acceptance. "You're going back up to see Sinister?"

"Yeah."

"Well, let him know what happened." Looking back toward the cell, he added, "Tell him that I'll dispose of the body."

(minutes later)

Puffing on the last of his cigarette, he stood beside Sinister as he stared at the view screen which contained a series of numbers. "Mag's dead and his body's been disposed of."

His brow raised with excitement. Rubbing his hands together, he said, "Excellent."

Remy waited for Sinister to say more, but soon gave up on waiting as Sinister continued to analyze the computer screen. "I'm ready to go."

He refused to look at the Thief. "Good riddance."

"Stop fuckin' around. I did what I was recruited t' do." Getting into Sinister's face, he demanded, "My money."

He smiled eerily staring into the eyes of a man that was once long ago apart of his team. Without looking back at Havoc, he ordered, "Give him his due."

Remy looked over to Havoc who approached him with a suitcase in hand. Dere should be more dan one suitcase, he thought uneasily. He held out his hand and was puzzled to find that the suitcase was much lighter than it should have been. Looking apprehensively at all the silent faces in the room, he turned back to Sinister. "What's goin' on?"

"Take it and leave."

"Dis ain't what we agreed on," he stated grinding his teeth.

"That's the exact amount you need to pay off the Dark Beast."

Remy purposely did not hide his shock. How the fuck did he find out what I needed the money for?

"You'll get what you need eventually. Once Beast performs the surgery and gives you back your full powers, you'll be back on top again."

Well, I'm glad he doesn't know Jean is suppose t' do de surgery.

"Take it and leave," he urged him. "I'm through with you."

Remy knew there was no sense in arguing; he also knew when Sinister was 'through' with someone, it usually was not a good sign.

With the suitcase in hand, Remy took one last look around the room before he headed through the door. Once he was out of their sight, he began running out into the dark forest knowing that there would be no jet to take him home. Still, that was the least of his concerns. Dere is no way Sinister intends for me t' leave de property alive.

He sprinted deeper into the forest, trying to get lost amongst the trees. He assumed he was being chased and his fears were confirmed once he heard his name being called repeatedly. It sounded as if they were taunting him--no use trying to run faster when their voices became louder instead of softer. Just hours before Remy was bragging about his luck and when he tripped and fell face first into the mud, he knew his luck had run out.

"Well looky here." Scalphunter laughed as Remy scurried around, rolling over only to be met by a gun pointing at his nose. "Why'd ya run?"

As he lay in the small muddy pool he looked up, unable to focus on anything else besides the barrel of the gun. "Come on, Scalp," he pleaded, trying to gain some kind of sympathy to use in his favor. "Ya can't do dis."

"I can't?" He challenged, his finger itching to pull the trigger. "I already killed a kid today–if I could do that, this will be a piece of cake."

How sad. He was facing certain death and still could not bring himself to let go of the suitcase of money. "Scalp..."

"Sorry, Gambit," he lied–he was not sorry at all. "I'm just followin' the boss's orders. You out of anyone should be able to understand that."

He wanted to laugh at the irony, but the present situation forbade it. Closing his eyes, he awaited his fate with the Lord's prayer.

...Forgive me my trespasses,

As I forgive does who trespass against me.

Lead me not into temptation,

But deliver me from all evil...

Zap!

xxxxxxxx

Author's Note: I know, I know, this was a very dark chapter. Still, I hope you all will still stick around for the next part. Pretty please ;o)

The new angle to the story started when Randi askedme about Magneto and his motivitionwhile I was writing this chapter. The question got me thinking back to the time Eric had Creed tailing Remy as he spied on a pregnant Rogue. What if then Eric thought Remy knew Rogue carrying his child all along? That idea grew into Magneto thinking Remy kidnaped Charlie with the hopes of getting Rogue back and being a real family. (Which is why Magneto was so sure in the past chapters that Remy would never hurt Charlie).

Because you all are such smart readers, I purposely kept the most obvious hints about Charlie's paternity for this chapter (though if you read past chapters a left tiny clues).

I was about to start typing my reasons for writing this story (in an early response to some of the reviews I might get), but I decided to wait until it's all over. So just roll with the story for now and I'll fully explain myself at the end.

Thank you for all the past comments. I'm off to finish up the next chapter of Interplay.

Next Time: ...