Heavy sheets of rain pounded the broken-down gold Camry on the side of the highway. Jean Summers sighed. She closed her eyes and reached out to her best friend, Ororo Monroe. //Storm, we're stuck on the side of the road. Can you help us out?//
//It will be only an hour until the storm ends naturally. Perhaps one of your men could be persuaded to come pick you up at that time.//
//Ro,// she said in exasperation, //for the last time, I only have one man.//
//Odd. I thought you had three,// the weather goddess teased.
//I'll talk to Scott.// Jean reached through the link to her husband. //Sweetie, come rescue me.// She told him where they were.
//Sure, I'll see you when the rain stops.//
//You could come out now.//
//I'm not coming out in this weather.// She could sense his smirk. //Consider it a team-building exercise.//
He stubbornly refused to answer any more probes. That left her trapped in the small, chill car with a teammate she barely knew. Remy LeBeau had been with the team for less than a month. What she knew about him could fit on a 3x5 index card with room left-over. She brushed his mind with a telepathic probe, only to have it effortlessly deflected. He didn't even seem to be aware of his shielding.
"Scott will come pick us up when the storm ends."
The young man pouted. His hair seemed surprisingly dark in the random flashes of lightening. The rough line of stubble on his cheeks hid the smoothness of his skin. His hands were fine-boned and she wondered if he played piano. He didn't seem to be aware of her study. His head was canted to stare out the side window. He'd been silent for most of the trip.
"Tell dis po' Cajun somet'in', Jeannie. Why don't Rogue like me?"
Jean considered the question and the heavy accent they both knew was a lie. "I'll make you a deal," she replied. Her words were quiet, but firm.
"You lose the accent and use the British one you use to talk to your friend Stephan."
The young man pouted at that. "Eavesdroppin' ain't nice."
"You knew I was there. You said as much to him."
"Oui. English ain't my accent neither." He gave her a careless shrug.
"I know, but it works for me."
The red and black eyes stared at her, impartially weighing things she couldn't guess. She held herself still to keep from shivering under the calculating nature of the gaze. She felt unaccountably like a bird being stalked by a cat. "Mind if I smoke?" he asked, cultured vowels spilling forth.
"Yes," she said, making it more of an order than a preference.
He pouted at her again. "You're a mean woman, Jean Grey. Now, tell me why Rogue doesn't like me."
"Rogue's last lover was killed saving the world."
Remy rolled his eyes. He slouched down in his seat. He made a show of fishing his cards from his inside pocket. He wasn't pouting any longer, but he didn't smile. He shuffled the pack with the dexterity of a magician. No, "card shark" fit his motions better. The rhythm of cardboard on cardboard was hard to hear under the increasing wind of the storm.
"You frighten her," she continued. "You're handsome, charming, and smooth. You're not like any of the boys she knows at the Mansion."
"So all I've got to do is convince her that Iím one of the Southern Gentlemen she grew up idolizing. Bein. I can do that."
Jean listened to the flip-snick of the cards for a long moment. "But why?"
"She's a beautiful woman, Jeannie. She's like a faceted jewel. And I want her."
"Faceted jewel? She's not a possession." She felt the anger surge in her veins and the traces of the Phoenix in her wanted to rise. Her blood ran faster, hotter.
Remy looked at her for a long moment. His eyes glowed softly in the darkness of the car. "When you first met Scott, didn't you want him? Didn't you feel that want burn through you? Didn't you want to consume him? I ain't felt this need since I met my wife."
Yes, she knew that feeling. The first time she'd seen Scott leaning against the car, waiting for the professor to call for him, lazy and content in the summer's sun, she'd wanted him. She wanted him every day after than too, but the burn was cooler now, a long-lasting fire that smoldered even when the damp days came for it.
All she said was, "You're married?" she tried to keep the question from being shrill and disapproving, but she could tell by the answering smirk that she hadn't succeeded.
"I been thrown away by her. She'll kill me some day. Rather die by her than something else." Remy shrugged, another carelessly elegant shrug. "But Rogue? She burns. Like the Sistine Chapel. I want her like I haven't wanted anything in years."
Jean studied the self-professed theif. She took in the small scars on his hands and the lack of lines on his face. She frowned. He was younger than she'd originally pegged him, she realized. He smiled mildly at her staring. "It will be a disaster."
"I have to try."
"You're better off with Bobby."
Remy laughed at that. It was a dark, rich sound. "Non, Jeannie. Robert is too innocent for me. We'll talk after he kills someone."
"Rogue hasn't killed." It was an automatic reaction. Then, she thought of Carol Danvers trapped in Rogue's head and her first boyfriend who was still in a coma. That was close enough to death.
He gave her a sweet, patronizing smile. He shook his head. "Don't go telling my business, woman. And stop lying to yourself. You're a merry band of soldiers. At least Logan admits to his killings. The hypocrisy in that house is so thick I'm like to gag on it." He shook his head. "And you won't tell anyone about this conversation?"
"I tell Scott everything."
"Oh? Even about going down on Ange in the rose-garden while Scott's toiling away at cleaning the gutters? Or the fact that you were indulging in some heavy petting with Logan in the den?"
She flushed angrily at the thought of having been spied upon and heard the echoes of a raptor's cry. Yet, she had to force herself not to smile. The thought of being caught intrigued her as much now as it had when she'd taken Scott in the middle of a Scottish moor and then flirted with his brother the next day. "No," she finally admitted. "I won't even tell Scott about the accent game you're playing."
"Bien." He grinned at her. He took out two cigarettes and lit them with a touch. He offered her one.
She took it. The bitter flavor reminded her of an earlier time, when she and Scott would hide out behind the house and smoke when the Professor had pushed them into some new level of heroism. She watched the smoke swirl in the light of a lightening strike and wondered what sort of storm they were in for when Rogue finally figured out that Remy was playing her. She inhaled a lungful of smoke. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back. There were worse people to be trapped in a car with, she decided finally. "Someday, you'll have to kiss me."
His chuckle was answer enough.