A/N: An unused bit of Carnal that I couldn't quite bear to throw away and then had the brilliant idea of posting so I can get it out of my fodder file for the story. This is when Remy hacks into Cerebro in my lovely little universe: The Gambit.


Real


He wants her.

How can he describe such wanting? It's undefined, a swirling, mysterious, dark, light, sweet, and painful thing that fills him by times, that draws him close and pushes him away.

He curses inwardly as he slips down the hall, a Thief, silent on swift and sure feet. He's played this game before, toying with the forbidden, reeling in his prey, only to learn that he himself can be lost in a losing battle.

Real, she tells him. He's real.

He's a collection of masks and faces, games and plays with higher and higher stakes. He's never had anything worth calling real that he can remember as he makes quick work of the security measures on the inner sanctum of the mansion. It's like breathing to him, this stealing, taking, touching what isn't his to touch. He uses stolen knowledge from a family that was never his to break into a room of secrets that will never be his with their forbidden taste and texture, knowing already what it is he's after. He'll pretend for a moment that he belongs, as he's pretended so many times before, that this new and desired place of rest will go on forever.

Her. Him. The wanting.

And something makes him wonder how she thinks that he, the Gambit, a player and a Thief, could ever be real.

The room opens to him and he steps inside.

No doors are closed to him, no treasure hidden from his skills. Like breathing, this taking, this thieving, this lying with unwhispered truths behind his dancing devil eyes. He's never known any different, never had any different to know. And here he is, taking again. It takes far less time than it should to hack into the files, pulling up the image of a girl with white and chestnut hair, the full lips, the silken skin. Forbidden knowledge, perhaps, but he's never been one to refrain.

He gives a cursory read to the file, frowning when he finds the information he wants is missing. Instead of a summary of her powers, only one word fills the field.

Cured.

Did everyone believe that it would truly last? Someone, he thinks, should have realized that nothing in this whole, sorry excuse for life is real. The most tangible, certain things fade beneath greedy fingers or are torn from bloody palms.

He leans back in the seat and considers this girl before him, her file, the words sketching her life in the simplest of terms, but leaving out the heart of her, the reasons that brought her into The Dragon's Nest the day she took the Cure and into his bed, his life, beneath his skin like the edge of a razor slipping under. It stirs a restlessness that he can't quite shake, this urging to have her there forever or to cut her out from within him.

She thinks he's real because he's promised to be truthful with her. And he is. He allows her in to see him, this unreal, mishmash of personalities behind the masks, the one that's never had anything real of his own. He lets her feel the weight of the darkness that weighs down his own soul, knowing it's only a matter of time before the nightmares of his past sins disturb even the rest they find in each other.

He studies this girl on the screen before him. Why was she there? Why didn't she come? Why is she doing this now?

He isn't real, he thinks darkly.

He never was.