Author's Note: Sinister's use of the term "Negress" is not intended to offend. In fact, he is using what was the technical and least offensive term that he used during his entire life as a Victorian Gentleman.
Rupert Giles sighed and rubbed his eyes. He'd best move the coffeetable first, he decided. Somehow, he doubted that the steam cleaner would actually get the blood out of the carpet. Considering how the past week had gone he supposed Spike spilling a mug of human blood on the living room rug was just a way to cap off the experience. Hadn't Dierdre had a spell for clean up? Giles couldn't remember.
He shoved the coffeetable out of the way. He laid down the pretreatment for stain removal and went to put on the tea kettle. It was a lovely Saturday outside, cool by California standards, and dry. The leaves had begun to turn brilliant shades of red and yellow. Three weeks to Halloween. It was going to be his busiest time at the magick store. At least he knew who wouldn't be calling demons up this year.
As he stood in the kitchen waiting for the water to boil, he saw the blue disc begin to glow in the air. It grew in size and deposited three rather unhappy men in the recently cleared space. Giles was not pleased to see auto-grease join the blood. Perhaps he could find a vacuum salesman to try to get it out.
It wasn't the men's fault of course. They'd obviously been snatched from the middle of something, car repairs perhaps. The shortest fellow was wearing rumpled jeans and a flannel shirt. The stubby end of a cigar still dangled from his lip. He had odd, wiry brown hair. He was appearantly the eldest. The young man who'd fallen onto the couch above the cigar smoker was wearing a much used sweatshirt emblazoned "Xavier's School for the Gifted" under streaks of grease and less identifiable stains. He wore mirrored red sunglasses as well. His hair was brown with streaks of chestnut-red. The last remaining guest had fallen where the coffeetable had been a moment before. His jeans were old, faded, and torn. He wore a sweatshirt from Louisiana State. His hair was the longest of the three and fully the shade of chestnut that the man on the couch's highlights achieved.
The one on the couch glanced at Giles. He sighed. "What the Hell happened?" he asked as if not really expecting an answer.
"A portal dropped you into my living-room. I assume it transported you from wherever you were to here for some reason." The youngest man was looking at the bloodstain his hand was in. "Well, I suppose introductions are in order. I'm Rupert Giles. You may call me Giles."
"Scott Summers," the man in the sunglasses said. "Logan of no last name and Remy LeBeau," he introduced the others. They were rather calm, Giles thought. It must have been shock. "Where are we?"
"Sunnydale, California. Where were you?"
"Westchester, New York?"
"Quite a trip."
"Sir?" the youngest man said in an accent Giles classified as Eton, "were you aware that your bloodstain is still wet?" The short man, Logan, snorted.
"Pretreatment solution. I'm attempting to use a steam cleaner before writing off the carpet as a loss."
"That would explain it." Before Giles could offer them tea from the merrily boiling kettle his front door exploded open to admit two familiar girls and an unknown black woman of regal bearing despite wearing jeans and a faded sweater.
"Giles!" Willow started. She took a breath as a preamble to speaking, saw Giles' guests and let it go. "Oh, hi, I'm Willow. Giles?" Introductions were made quickly as the black woman offered a hand first to Remy, then Logan, getting them to their feet.
"I am Ororo Munroe," she introduced herself.
"Shall we…" the door banged open to show a limping and bruised young blonde woman, followed by a bruised girl in a familiar yellow coat.
"Wolvie!" Jubilee launched herself towards her mentor. He caught the girl who was definitely growing up. Giles settled Buffy on the pass-through counter of the kitchen and cleaned the cuts and scrapes with stinging antiseptic and pressed an ice pack to her knee.
Xander and Anya were next. "What is with that shop of yours, G-man? Look was showed up in the store-room. Can I keep them?"
Two pretty red-heads, one with a stripe of white, stood watching with a slight smile. //Jean, Rogue, come join us. We're making a mess of Giles' living room,// Scott told his wife through their link. Giles offered Jubilee similar first aid and sent Xander into the kitchen to prepare refreshments. //Anyone else in tow?// Scott asked after introducing the women.
//Bobby. He's traveling through an underground tunnel with someone. Headed here.//
"This is your problem now," Spike snapped slamming the door shut. "What the bloody fuck is going on 'ere? 'aving a party without invitin' me?"
"Since yer 'ere," Giles responded suddenly Cockney, "ye can clean up yer mess, mate."
"My God, it's Pete Wisdom, but less irritating," Bobby said blinking. Spike sneered, but took the steam cleaner.
Giles was surprised when the young man in the LSU sweatshirt suddenly exclaimed, "A vampire? In de house? You must be crazy!" The British accent was beginning to soften to a southern drawl.
"Vampires don't exist, Gumbo," Logan stated.
"One word. Bullshit. You rescued Stormy from one. Less'n, of course, y' were lying," Remy replied.
"You know about vamps?" Buffy asked, bruises already fading.
"Yes." His friends stared at him. The only vampire they knew of was Dracula and he was dead. Remy kept his eyes downcast. Giles ascribed it to shyness, like Willow before her confidence had developed.
"Vampires," Rogue said flatly. She didn't believe in vampires, magic, or the other assorted superstitions that made up Remy's religious ideals. She didn't even believe in God, although Hell was a possibility.
"Yes, vampires," Remy snapped. They'd been fighting before they were snatched. "If'n you ever get off your high horse t' believe somet'ing I say, let m' know."
"When ya bother ta tell me tha truth, Ah'll believe ya."
"When y' stop dinkin' dat dey're lies an' start believin' de truth' Remy tells y', we be in better shape."
"How can Ah believe ya, sugah? All ya ever do is lie ta me or tell me Ah ain't allowed ta know!"
"Remy! Rogue!" Scott snapped. They both closed their mouths and looked chagrined. Arguing in the middle of a battle situation was foolish.
"Sorry," Rogue mumbled.
"Je suis desole."
"Xander, call for pizza. What would you like?" Jubilee took a quick count and rattled off the usual order. Xander nodded and added their usual on top of it and then rattled off Giles' credit card number.
Spike was about to tell Giles to clean his own damn carpet when the machine was taken from his hands by the man who had announced that Spike was a vampire. He looked up and met crimson and black eyes. "What are ya then, mate?" he asked in a low-tone.
Remy shrugged. "Human."
"She's right yer a liar." Remy grinned.
"At least half." Spike conceded that point. Logan smiled at Scott's disbelief as the Cajun started cleaning.
"Willow, Tara, in the upstairs closet in the guest room you'll find additional chairs and the meditation pillows. If you would bring them down, please."
"Rogue," Scott said with a nod in the direction of the stairs. She took the hint and followed. The steam cleaner actually managed to reduce the stain to the shade of an aged watermark. Giles called it good.
"Thank you. Xander, Spike, please return the coffetable to its proper place. Anya did you bring today's receipts? Put them in the desk for the time being."
By the time there were chairs and drinks for everyone, the pizzas had arrived. "I must say, you've all been remarkably calm about being suddenly dropped into a new situation."
"And you have been incredibly accepting," Scott replied.
"We've grown accustomed to the unexpected."
Scott smiled at that. The complimentary small talk was interrupted finally by Scott. "We'll tell you ours if you tell us yours," he offered.
"Funny. I recall saying that to a young lady once. As it happened she was royalty and not amused. We hunt vampires and other demons and ghosts."
"We're a police force. Tactical." Spike laughed at that.
"Out with it, mates. Tell'm the truth, Watcher." Giles pinched the bridge of his nose.
"Buffy is the Slayer. I am her Watcher. Willow and Tara are witches. Anya is an ex-demon. Xander assists whenever possible and Spike is our pet." Spike sneered.
"Watch it," he snapped.
"Excuse me. William the Bloody, or Spike as we know him, is a vampire. The government put a chip in his head so that he can't attack humans." Spike sat back, mollified.
"The Slayer? What's that mean?" Jubilee asked.
"In every generation," Giles began. Buffy rolled her eyes. "A… well, actually, that's not quite true anymore. Slayers are chosen by fate, destiny, whatever you wish to call it, to fight the forces of darkness. She had super-fast reflexes, heightened healing ability and is able to sense the presence of vampires."
"And other weird stuff," Buffy added. "Giles is my Watcher. He trains me. Does research. Watches my back even though he promised to stay out of danger. And feeds us junk food."
"And yourselves?" Giles said after giving them only a brief moment to think about that. He really didn't want to answer questions.
"We're mutants. We fight crime and promote civil rights for mutants."
"Mutants. It would have been too simple for you to be from the same universe. Ah well. What sort of mutation?"
"Varied. Logan has advanced healing, heightened senses, and claws."
Snikt. Logan extended his claws.
"Whoa," Spike said looking on in admiration.
"Remy can manipulate the kinetic charge in objects and make them explode."
"Like Rogue's temper," Bobby chimed in. He was promptly ignored. Remy looked up and for the first time, Giles and the Scooby Gang saw Remy's eyes.
"And good night vision," he added. He was used to the gasps and flinches when people first saw his eyes. That didn't mean it didn't hurt. He was on the floor leaning against Storm's legs. She stroked his hair as she nibbled on her crust.
"Ororo can control the weather." Willow and Tara glanced at one another. "Jean is a telepath and telekinetic."
"Why thank you, Xander," Jean said with a smile. Scott glowered for a moment. //He's just a kid, Honey.//
//He said I have nice eyes.//
"Jubilee creates pyrotechnics." Luckily, her mouth was full so she couldn't say anything. "Bobby can freeze things." He froze his pizza and continued to eat it. "Rogue's primary ability is the absorption of other people's powers and memories through skin contact. She can also fly at supersonic speeds, has super-human strength, and is practically invulnerable." Remy squeezed Rogue's gloved hand.
"Ah'm still not talkin' ta ya, sugah."
"And yourself?" Giles prompted.
"I emit concussive optical blasts. That's why I wear these."
Giles suddenly laughed. "Cyclops, I presume."
Scott didn't know what to say.
"I'll be back in a moment." Giles disappeared into the attic.
"What was that about?" Buffy wondered aloud.
"Did he say 'Cyclops'?" Xander asked. His eyes widened as his girlfriend nodded. "Bobby Drake. The Iceman. Oh, geez. Man, you were my hero."
"Then I met Buffy. Sorry." Bobby sighed.
"Can't complain about being beaten by a girl."
"Not unless you are planning to be beaten by three more," Ororo remarked, wiping greasy fingers on Gambit's shoulder. She smiled blandly at him. Rogue snickered.
Giles came down carrying a white box. Xander looked at him with big eyes. "You've been holding out on me, Giles," he said disapprovingly.
"If you'd assisted my efforts to reorganized the attic I would have shared." He opened the box and selected a comic at random, neatly boarded, bagged, and cataloged. Willow caught a whiff of the herbs he'd used to prevent decay.
"We're a comic book?" Bobby asked. He wasn't sure if he should feel affronted or not. Scott took the book. He stared at the cover for a long moment before removing it and carefully flipping through it.
"So, Gambit, what is your deep, dark secret?" he asked.
"I'm a Summers."
Logan fought back a grin.
"I'd smack you, but you're too far away, so I'll merely put you on clean up duty." Scott frowned. "Three hundred and fifty? There are more than three hundred of these?"
"In that title. There are more in The Uncanny X-men, X-Factor, Wolverine, Cable, and so forth."
"Giles, you're a comics junkie. I thought it was romance novels. Hey, shouldn't you have been in college when these first came out?"
"I fear my youth was more ill-spent than you will ever comprehend." Spike grinned.
"The little shop in the East End with the git on the cash?" Giles nodded. "Sweet. How much?"
"The whole bloody line from one on up. Thinks I've got a subscription."
"Giles!" Willow exclaimed. "You didn't."
"Wanker deserved it, Pet," Spike said. "Would've drained 'im if he hadn't 'ad that protection spell. Never gave ye a moment's peace."
"'ad a thing for leather."
"Is this what happens when you go to college?" Jubilee asked.
"Jubilee!" the X-men snapped as a team.
"I'm not a kid anymore! I can curse if I want to."
Scott handed the comic book back. "So we just have to figure out why we're here."
"Are demons real in those books?" Tara asked.
"Yes. Vampires as well. There's a series called Blade."
"Like the Wesley Snipes film?"
"Blade? Vampire Hunter wit'out a sense of humor?"
"A comic book. He ain't gonna believe dat," Gambit mused.
"Could it have to do with a really white guy with a diamond in his forehead?" Buffy asked. The X-men, Giles and Xander stared at her. "He looked kinda freaky, but he was just walking around and muttering to himself.
"Mr. Sinister didn't set off your Spidey sense?" Xander asked.
"He just looked lost." Buffy shrugged. "Ethan the rat sets me off worse."
"Ethan can turn anyone's stomach. But this is a disturbing turn of events."
"Would someone fill in the rest of us? Why is this bad?" Buffy asked.
"Why would Sinister be here?" Scott wondered, staring at Gambit.
"Just because I worked f' de homme, don' mean I get memos!"
"You know then?" Giles asked.
"I'm guessing that's the 'unforgivable' secret?" Scott responded with a smirk.
"Oh no, that's leading the Marauders into the Morlock Tunnels." Logan raised an eyebrow at Xander's announcement.
"Gumbo weren't anywhere near the Massacre." The short man tapped his nose. "I never ferget a scent."
"Morlock?" Gambit asked looking up at Storm. "Why would I go after dem?"
"You didn't know what you were doin? Happens to me all the time," Xander offered.
"Anyway, what else has been happening here? Who could have brought us here? And why?"
"And what does Sinny want? And who else could've gotten caught up in this?" Jean added to her husband's question.
"And, like, isn't there a Prophecy about this?" Buffy asked. Xander groaned.
"Research-boy to the rescue," he muttered. "Which books?" Giles rattled off a list.
"And can I borrow your comic books?" Bobby asked. "What? It's research?" Scott sighed and rubbed his temples.
"Not to mention some things like clothing and sleeping arrangements."
"And cigarettes," Remy muttered. Giles tossed him a pack from his side table. Rogue caught them and threw them back.
"He's quittin'," she stated.
"Darlin', have a heart. Don't take away a man's cigs in a high stress situation," Logan interceded.
"This morning, Rogue." Jean slipped the pack into Gambit's hand during the distraction. "That's just cruelty."
"Fine. Just another thing ta let him lie about."
"Y'all shut y' eyes f' a moment, sil vous plait?"
"No, you can't kill her, Gambit," Scott said sharply. "Or smack her around. She'd put you through the wall. Why would Sinister be here?"
"To find someone? Or somet'ing he can't get at home?"
"A Slayer?" Remy suggested. "Or a ghost?"
"Or a manicure," Jubilee added looking at her nails.
"Suggestion, let's figure out what was happening on both sides and see if that makes anything more clear. Locations could play a part in this." Giles nodded in agreement.
"Let's begin with you, Remy and Logan."
"We were in the garage, rebuilding the van's engine."
"Didn't the professor explicitly say not to do that?" Jean asked.
"And your point would be?"
"You hide your anti-social tendencies better than that usually," she sighed.
"Peer pressure!" Bobby piped up.
"What was happening here?"
"I was preparing to clean out the blood spot on the carpet. I'd just put the kettle on for tea."
"I'm glad y' moved de coffeetable." Giles smiled.
"Then, shall we move on to Ororo's appearance."
"I was meditating in the garden."
"Tara and I were casting. We'd just invoked the Goddess when Ororo appeared from a blue disc. She was floating. Then, she opened her eyes. We came over here."
"Perhaps it was the similarity in our activities that brought me to their room."
"Perhaps. Jean and Rogue?"
"We were cleaning out the attic."
"Anya and I'd just closed up when they showed up in the store-room. There was a glowing disc thingy like in Sliders."
"I was working out. I'd just jumped off a ledge. There was a flash and I ended up in a gym. We had a fight. She brought me here." The X-men blinked. Jubilee had just finished an explanation in under ten minutes and without using the word "like" once.
"I thought maybe she was another Slayer-in-training considering how she fights. She's not as strong, but I thought being Chosen might have something to do with that, you know, so I brought her here to make sure."
"I was in the kitchen starting dinner. Then I turned around and I was in a crypt."
"Spike?" Giles prompted.
"I'd just gotten up." Giles raised a brow. "Fine I was watchin' Passions. When this human shows up in the middle of the bleedin' room."
"Which gives us a rather stretched form of sympathetic magic, I suppose," Giles murmured. "Trans-dimensional gates, see inter-dimensional travel, teleportation," he flipped through a surprisingly new looking book.
"You have an index now?" Willow asked.
"Keywords only. I received it through a barter exchange with an old friend from the British museum."
"I'm getting the feeling there is a Prophecy, but you don't want to tell me," Buffy stated.
"There may be a prophecy," Giles hedged. "Buffy, take Spike with you on patrol tonight."
"Fine. So, if I see the freaky dude with the diamond…"
"Dr. Essex," Remy said at the same time.
"I should what?"
"Run the other way. Don't upset him."
"Or do upset him," Bobby said, "it won't matter in the end. You're just DNA to him anyways."
"Bobby," Scott cautioned. "Don't challenge him. But ask if he needs help. He might tell you something. At the very least, we may be able to figure out where he's staying."
"Probably on campus," Willow offered. "We get visiting professors all the time."
"Don't you think someone would notice a freak with fangs. Oh, yeah, this is Sunnydale. They won't blink," Xander finished.
"And Sinister can change shapes, or maybe it's a telepathic thing, no one's sure."
"I'm voting telepathy," Jubilee volunteered. "And like, maybe tomorrow, someone could take me to a mall and we could like get some clothes or something."
"Like maybe," Scott said. "We'll have to, like, see. And, like, find some money."
"Hey, Scott, ain't tomorrow de anniversary? An' he's a shapeshifter, petite. I know that f' a fact."
"You know, I think you might be right." Jean looked between the two of them. Storm suddenly went to the calendar.
"It is Saturday, correct?"
"Yes, it is the anniversary."
"But, Jean, just think."
"No, Scott. And don't you dare say one word, Remy Etienne LeBeau."
"Oh my God, she just three named you. You are in deep kimshee my friend."
"Shut up, Drake. But, chere."
"Remy," she snarled. "Scott, we don't know anything about this place. We don't even know what the bail would be. I'm not letting you do it."
"Jeannie, think about it," Logan started, "we could kill two birds with one stone. Keep him out of trouble for one night and get what we need."
"A win-win situation," Scott summed up.
"Excuse me, could you translate for those of us who haven't been living in a fictional universe for years," Willow asked, looking pointedly at Xander. Xander shrugged. He didn't know what they were talking about either.
"Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day Scott came to live with the professor," Storm informed them. "It is also traditionally a day when our dear, sweet, anal…," she coughed suddenly, "leader decides to cut loose, bar crawl and salute the absolutely reprehensible street child he used to be."
"Cyclops lived on the streets? I must have missed that," Xander said.
"Children of the Atom series," Giles stated. "Scott Summers was living with a thief named Jack Diamond, who picked him off the streets and used his powers in break ins. Chapter seven in that book there, Tara. And chapter 23 in the book beneath it. Oh, yes, that one's in French. If you would be so kind, Mr. LeBeau." Remy rolled his eyes and took the book gingerly. He was impressed with its age.
"How do you remember things like that? And do you have that series here?" Bobby asked gesturing at the box.
"Trained memory and yes, near the back. It's one of the newer titles. Xander, the transportation of living objects. There's a spell in one of the spell books on the top shelf. Please look for it."
"Giles, all the spell books are on the top shelf."
"Then you'll simply have to look through them until you find the correct one. And it is not one of the new paperback books. Those were from Jenny's library and they are most definitely not complex enough. We will have Buffy and Willow accompany Jubilee to the mall. I have a credit card. I have no dependents. Problem solved."
"You have a credit card in Ethan's name," Willow stated. "Isn't that illegal?"
"Only if he asks for it back. But he makes the payments on time. Why should I bother to return it? At any rate, he deserves to pay for that candy incident. Would you hand me the book from the bottom of the last pile, Ms. Monroe?"
"Storm, please, Giles." She handed him the heavy, leather bound book.
"Buffy? On the way back, why don’t you get some donuts? You know where the cash is. And if ye touch it, ye ponce, I'll dust ye."
"Ye'll try." Giles gave Spike a patented Ripper grin once Buffy's back was turned. Spike just put an arm around her waist to guide her out.
"Wanker," Giles muttered.
"It really is Wisdom," Bobby stated. "Do you smoke? Wait, stupid question. Why have cigs around if you don't smoke."
The generally useless research continued until Buffy and Spike returned from their patrol at around one. Then, Giles decided to work out sleeping arrangements as Gambit and Storm cleaned up the empty pizza boxes and soda cans.
"We'll just set down some blankets. We've camped out in worse conditions, believe me," Scott stated. "Bobby, Jubilee, you have set up. Rogue gets the bed. "
Gambit whispered something into Rogue's ear. She rolled her eyes and forced away her smile. "Ah don't think so, Swamp-rat." He looked pleadingly at her through the fringe of his hair. She giggled. "No, Remy." He sighed tragically and put a hand to his heart. Jean watched with an amused smile. He kissed Rogue's gloved palm and folded her fingers over the kiss. Then, instead of going outside for his last cigarette of the day, he placed the untouched pack on her lap.
//Aren't they just so cute you could gag?// Scott asked his wife.
//Scott Summers, stop making fun of Jubilee. And you of all people shouldn't be talking about cute.//
//His wife wants him dead. Sounds familiar.//
//Leave Goblin-girl out of this. She's actually you, I think, maybe, if I remember Hank's explanation correctly.//
//Hank's explanations are often bullshit.//
//He made it sound good.//
//Why don't you treat me like that anymore, Slim?//
//You've got Logan for the unrequited romantic stuff.// Jean shoved him playfully. //Hey, no fair pulling out the TK.//
"Ooooh, Fearless be in trouble," Gambit called out.
"Watch it, Thief, or I'll sick her on you," Scott shot back. Jean put her hands on her hips.
"Oh, really?" Jean purred. Scott put his hands up to ward off an attack. //I'll get you, Slim, and your little wolf too.//
//Wolverine. He ain't a wolf. They're socialized. And mate once for life.// Jean stared at him.
//Is Gambit making you watch nature specials again?//
//I plead the fifth.//
//I knew you were drunk the other day!//
"Just ask Remy, Jean. He tell y' what y' man been up t'!"
"Maybe I should. What were you…" Scott put a hand over her mouth.
"Gambit," Scott said flatly. "I will personally make sure that Belladonna knows where to find you."
"M' lips are sealed." Scott released Jean's mouth.
"I can protect you from her," Jean argued. She knew it was a lost cause. Gambit always caved to Scott in the end. He'd argue with anyone just for the sake of argument, but Scott was the only one who had ever won one of them.
Gambit just looked to Scott for the next threat. "I have Mattie's number."
Jean blinked. "Who's Mattie?" Scott just smiled.
"Y' a cruel man, Summers."
Bobby and Jubilee had laid blankets on the floor for padding and they'd laid out sheets for the top. Bobby slept furthest from the door. Storm and Gambit were next. Jean and Scott took their usual place in the center with Jubilee and Logan on their other side.
//And the pack seems to draw strength from…//
//Shut up, Slymm.//
//I wonder why Warren, Betsy and Hank weren't brought across.//
//They weren't in the mansion.//
//I'd forgotten. Good point. But why is Sinister here?//
//To make Hell on earth?//
//That's his usual function,// Scott replied. //I was thinking more in terms of why was Sinister brought here as well?//
//You don't think he caused it?//
//No, I don't.//
//Quick. Logan-Jubilee moment.//
Logan tucked the sheet up to Jubilee's chin and kissed her forehead. //Aw. Runt's such a mush.//
//So are you, Slim. I've seen you with kids, remember? Back to Sin.//
//In front of everyone? I didn't know you were so daring.//
//Scott.// Jean blushed a pleasing shade of red and Scott watched as she changed color with a little grin on his face. He pulled her close and kissed her. Jean shut off the lights.
"Sleep well, Kids," Scott said.
"Fuck you, Scott," Bobby responded as he buried his head under his pillow.
"In yer dreams, Popsicle," Logan replied.
"Jealous much, Wolvie?" Jubilee asked.
"Of course he is, Jubilee. Territorial behavior is very common in wild animals."
"If I didn't know ya so well, I'd think ya were insultin' me, 'Ro."
"Don' know her dat well den, homme?"
"Sugah, shut up."
//Go to sleep, people.// Jean broadcast.
"Yes, mom!" they chorused.
Scott wasn't sure what woke him up. He wasn't wearing his glasses and luckily remembered that fact before opening his eyes and redecorating Giles' guest room. He could hear Jean's even breathing and Rogue's gentle snore. He fumbled for his glasses and they were pressed into his hand. He put them on and opened his eyes. He looked at the red glowing eyes of the team's pet thief. He raised his brows in a question. Gambit shook his head.
Then, he heard Jubilee whimper. She woke with a scream stuck in her throat. Wolverine caught her in a gentle hug. She cried herself back to sleep within moments. A scream echoed through the house, waking everyone. Jubilee clung to Wolverine.
"Rouge, Gambit, you're on point. Jean, link up." It was a tense few minutes.
//We're downstairs. De petite red-head had a nightmare. She got her girl and Giles wit' her.//
"We've got a long day ahead of us, guys. Get some rest."
Scott was only slightly surprised that after they returned, Remy curled up next to him and settled his head on Scott's chest. Jean reached across her husband and ruffled Gambit's hair gently. Gambit despised being in situations he couldn't control. Scott understood that all too well. He didn't mind being used as a teddy bear on occasion. Storm settled her head on Gambit's shoulder. Bobby couldn't understand how they could handle being that hot. Rogue looked down for a long time before closing tear filled eyes.
"I can't believe we sent Jubilee to the mall and we're stuck raking leaves for entertainment," Scott stated. "Today of all days."
"I'm not letting you out of my sight, Scott," Jean commented.
"Jean, ease up. It's not like he's goin' ta try ta take over tha world or somethin'," Rogue defended.
"Shut up, Gambit."
"Make me." Suddenly, the rake became a weapon.
"En guard." Scott's grin was positively wicked. "I should quote Shakespeare right now, but…" He launched an attack. Jean threw her hands in the air as one of the leaf piles was surrendered to the fight. Storm looked at her friend.
"You should let them work it out of their system before things grow more dangerous."
"Storm, you don’t understand what it's like. I have to retrain him every year. This year, it's not going to happen."
"Jean," Storm shook her head, "it is not that simple. You can not simply remove this part of Scott's existence. He is and will always be… anti-social at heart. He needs to release the pressure of being team leader. It is best that he do it in an almost ritualistic way. That his ritual includes drinking, flirting, fighting, and s… hustling, is just his way. Remy and Logan can take care of themselves, and when Scott is in this mood, they care for him as well. Let them go, Jean."
"No," Jean said stubbornly. "Not this year. Not while we're in another darned dimension."
Willow laughed when she came out to check on their guests. "If you want to fence, there are practice swords."
"Hey, Stormy, y' rake up de leaves?"
"Of course, my friend," Storm said. Xander looked at the X-men oddly.
"What are you…" Storm summoned the winds and carefully swept the leaves up and into the compost bin by the shed. "Can we hire you out?"
"Non, de girl's our own lil' money maker. Non, petite?"
"Perhaps, padnant. If the price is right."
"Dat's m', Stormy."
"And don't call me Stormy."
"Whatever y' say, Stormy." Ororo smiled fondly. Xander shook his head and followed them inside to watch them poke through the weapons closet. "Mon Dieu. She be one o' de most beautiful dings I ever seen." Remy carefully laid the sword on the coffeetable and looked closely at the markings on the hilt. He traced the rune-work with a careful finger. Scott leaned over his shoulder.
"Real rubies? Is that a carnelian?"
"Carnelian, ruby, diamond, sapphire, gold, bronze, an' silver. Hand worked, dis one. An' Remy's dinkin' she's a workin' blade. Probably sings pretty. Mon pere, he be willin' t' kill f' a sword like dis."
"Then get him one. If there's one here, there's more than likely one in our dimension. We just have to find it. Hopefully, hidden in the collection of a drug dealer."
"Well, dere's a porno dealer in de City dat's got a collection of weapons. Don' dink he got anyding dis nice dough."
"We're back!" Jubilee announced as she, Buffy and Giles came in carrying bags of mall loot. "Hey? Where is everybody?"
Willow looked in from the back. "Guys, hurry up. You've got to see this."
They dropped the bags and went into the back yard. There was a ring of people watching as Logan fought a two on one training run with Scott and Remy. Buffy's jaw dropped. "And you live with these guys?"
"Yeah. Great ain't it? Logan teaches me one style, then Remy comes in and teaches me something different. Then Scott shows up and gives me some weird blend of the two. In other words, it totally kicks ass. Besides, check out the muscles."
"I am. I am. My God, how do you manage to concentrate on studying?"
"Well, I just remember that Jean can crush me into component atoms and Rogue can suck the life right out of me. And Logan would beat the shit out of me if I didn't live up to his standards." Logan swung his two blades with a precision born of long practice. Buffy stared as Remy backflipped easily over Logan's head.
"I thought I was the only one around here who could do that." Jubilee rolled her eyes.
"Christ. Get over yourself, girl. Just because you're the only mutant in the place doesn't mean you're a god or something. Geez. Even Stormy got over that."
"Don't call me Stormy." Storm said without turning around. "Come on. I've got money on this. Don't let me down."
"Hey, a pool? How much?" Jubilee asked.
"Services rendered. You loose, you garden. You win, I will take you to the new outlet mall without a word of complaint."
"You're going out on a limb."
"Remy has a stake in the pool. Logan probably knows about it, but I'm not sure if Scott is aware of it or not."
"So, like who's he bet on?"
"That would be telling. Jean is holding the bet records." Jean looked over her shoulder and nodded once at Jubilee.
"Language!" Scott called from the middle of a lunge.
"How does he do that?" Jubilee wondered aloud.
"Practice!" Remy answered, ducking under the lock of Logan and Scott's swords to take a touch.
Bobby noted it on his pad. He had a lot riding on this. Like getting out of dish duty for the rest of the year. Scott freed his blade with a spinning twist. Buffy licked her lips.
"Yeah. Just think, crushed into atoms."
"It would be worth it."
Giles shook his head. "Perhaps you could spar with them, Buffy. Heavens knows I'm not a fast as I used to be."
"Alright. I'm getting lazy in my old age." Buffy snickered. Giles turned his attention to the fight again.
As Logan got distracted by another arial move, Scott went low and scored a rather nasty flat bladed touch to the center of Logan's back. Gambit gave him a wide grin. "Y' showin' off, cher."
"Time!" Logan called. "Did I just hear Slim curse?" he asked the crowd.
"Oh, yeah!" Jubilee called back. "Teach him a lesson about what happens to hypocrites."
"Watch it, Young Lady. I've got connections that could get you transferred back to Frost's!"
"Ya wouldn't dare, bub!" the teen called back. "Who'd get yer CD's fer ya?"
"You!" Jean exclaimed. "When I get my hands on you, Jubilation Lee, you are in for a world of hurt."
"Let the games continue!" Bobby announced as the men launched into another round of startlingly fast lunges, parries, and touches. Bobby scribbled furiously. "TIME!" he called. "We have a winner! Ten touches, to Scott against Logan."
"Damn!" Jubilee cursed.
"Language!" Scott and Logan chorused. Remy just shook his head.
"Who's de fencer in de place, den?" he asked.
"Giles and Buffy both fence," Willow told him. Remy's grin was dangerous.
"Buffy, chere, why don' y' come show ol' Remy what y' can do," he purred. Buffy licked her lips. Oh, yeah, this was going to be good.
She took the sword from Scott. "Don't hold back," she told Remy. "I heal quickly." Remy snorted.
"Be careful what y' wish f', chere." He saluted her and they exchanged a few testing blows. Then, Remy attacked. Buffy blinked, but defended almost instinctively. He dove under her kick and came up with a strike to her back. She glared at him. "So y' kick. Dat don' mean y' win, petite. I ain't a vamp, chere." He took another touch. "An' y' ain't payin' attention t' ole Remy." He hit her again. "Y' need work, 'tite. We work wit' y' before we leave." He caught her around the waist and kissed her neck. She flipped him over her shoulder and he laughed, changing it into a controlled flip. He crooked a finger. "Come t' papa, chere." She attacked, letting her anger and instincts have free reign. Giles shook his head.
"That girl never listens to a word I say," he sighed. "I don't know why I bother any longer."
"Because it's your job?" Willow suggested. She winced as Buffy hit the ground. Remy held the practice sword to her throat.
"Not bad. Y' need t' try her, Logan." Remy grinned at the older man. "Y' good, chere." He put out his hand to help her up. She came to her feet and ended up pressed to him for a moment.
"Rogue, like aren't you going to say something?" Jubilee asked. Rogue raised her brows.
"Sugah, she's blonde and she kills things. Sound familiar? Ah'd be more worried if he *didn't* flirt with her. But Ah'm goin' ta take him in hand." She raised her voice. "Back off, Swamp Rat," she told her boyfriend sharply. He pouted in her direction, but parted from Buffy. Buffy for her part was chanting to herself that she would *not* get herself killed for flirting. Jubilee looked sadly at her.
"She's going to get ripped limb from limb," she assessed. "Oh, well," she said brightly. "Hey, Rem, ya think you can get Cyke to play?" She shrieked as she was caught around the waist and lifted.
"Depends," Scott said into her ear, "on what you want to play. I'm definitely up for hunting." He set her down with a grin. "So what did you get us?"
"Tons of stuff. Like come on, Fearless. I got ya some jeans and a tee and a jacket. And you'd be *so* proud. I didn't even steal the jacket, even though, like, their security was laughable. I'm learning to control my instincts." She grinned at him.
Remy shook his head in mock disappointment. "All my hard work and she still doesn't listen to me," he sighed. Then, he winked at Giles. He grinned and followed them inside with the practice swords. "Hey, Jubes, did y' get some shades for Remy?"
"Maybe I did, maybe I didn't," she said looking over her shoulders and batting her eyes. "Since it's obvious that I've been replaced by that blonde," she sniffed.
"Petite," Remy said placing a hand over his heart, "Remy would never forget y', chere." He threw the swords to her. "Put dose away, sil vous plait." Jubilee caught them easily and went to the weapons closet.
"And how did *she* know where they went?" Willow asked.
Jubilee rolled her eyes. "Gambit and I checked the place over last night as part of the security detail. What do you think?"
"Security detail?" Buffy said in confusion. "But you just went right up to bed."
"We did. Then we got up," Remy responded. "You been holdin' out on the femme, Jubes?"
"Good girl." Remy reached over and messed up her bangs.
"Oooo! I've warned you about that, Cajun!"
"Children!" Jean interrupted.
"Yes, mom," Jubilee rolled her eyes. "No fireworks in the house. I'll pay ya back later, bub."
"I'll be waitin', chere," Remy said with a leer. Jubilee smacked her gum.
"So, come look at the loot. These are for Scott. This is for Ro. These are for Remy. This bag's for Jean. This one's for Rogue, and get yer snout out of there, Swamp Rat," Jubilee announced. Rogue peered into the bag and blushed scarlet.
"Y' better not be wearin' dat f' anyone else, Roguie."
"I'll wear what I like," she sniffed at him. Then, she smiled. "If you're a good boy, I'll let you do my hair."
"Nice and Easy #110," Jubilee said handing her a box of coloring. Rogue glared at her. Remy snickered.
"Non, 'tite. It's Balsam #606," he said taking the box. "Jean's the 110."
"Really," Jubilee said with big eyes. "I thought she was going with Egyptian Plum. That's what Scotty told me."
"Dat boy lies, chere."
"Pot, this is kettle calling!" Scott called out as he went up the stairs to change. Remy snickered.
"Why can't we let him stay like this?" Bobby asked. "I mean, he laughs. He has fun. He doesn't try to make me do impossible stunts?"
"Dat's because y' ain't out on de town wit' him." Remy's eyes grew comically big. "He scares m'. Forces m' int' bars. And makes me steal stuff. And I gotta go along wit' it because he's de boss." Remy sniffed theatrically.
"Come off it, sugah. Ain't no one here gonna buy that."
"Had t' try. Y' let me see y' in dat outfit, non? And Ro y' need a jacket."
"I see no problem with this outfit," Storm replied. She was wearing a skin tight babydoll tee with obviously no underwear.
"Y' go out like dat an' y' better bring me back a cut. Merde, Stormy, dat ain't even a whole shirt. Y' look like a whore."
Remy used the downstairs bathroom to change into some clean jeans and a plain white tee-shirt. At least the girl hadn't added a flannel to the collection. He hated flannel. He stepped out of the room. Rogue looked him over with a smirk. Jubilee was a good guess when it came to sizes. She thought a moment, or maybe the girl just knew. She did get drafted to do the laundry on occasion.
"Jubilee, what size jeans did you buy me anyway?" Scott asked as he came down the stairs. "They're a *bit* too tight."
"Um, I plead the fifth."
Jean's jaw dropped. She licked her lips. The rest of the team stared. "Whoa," Rogue stated.
"How did you even get those on?" Buffy asked in awe.
The X-teen in question was staring. Remy smacked the back of her head because he was closest. Logan gave him a nod in thanks. "So I shrunk them down a size from what Jean told me." Jean tried her hardest to look innocent.
"Jean?" Scott prompted.
"So I told her a size smaller than your usual, fall down onto my hips if I don't wear a belt size." She licked her lips. "I'd have replaced them sooner if I'd thought."
"There better be a trenchcoat around here somewhere that I can use," Scott said staring directly at the thief. Remy sighed and surrendered the trenchcoat Jubilee had provided for him, in exchange for the leather jacket she'd gotten for Scott. Jubilee blinked at the final product.
"Holy shit, you *are* related," she said in awe.
"I ain't his brother. F' fuck's sake, girl! I got Sinister's blood tests t' prove it!"
Jubilee smiled wickedly. "And of course Sinister would never lie to his favorite pet."
"I don' know why don' y' ask Scott."
Scott smacked the back of the Cajun's head. "Brat."
"You look like you fell out of the Matrix," Buffy said. "It works for you."
"Well, I just fell into the Twilight Zone, so it's fitting. So, tell me a little bit more about the layout of the place."
The phone rang. "Hello?" Giles answered the phone warily. Everyone who should be calling him was already in the house. "Joyce, hello." He smiled. "Why, yes, we do have some guests. Why do you ask?" His face went serious. "Yes, do give him my address. You didn't invite him in did you? Good. We'll look forward to seeing him as soon as you finish your tea." Giles hung up.
"What was that about?" Buffy asked. "Mom didn't even wait to talk to me?"
"She has a guest for tea. Speaking of which, Willow, if you'd put on the kettle. Tara, we'll be having one more for dinner, you'd best prepare for two more. Joyce may accompany him over, as he doesn't have a car."
Remy closed his eyes and slumped down into the armchair. "He's comin' over then? How soon?"
"Perhaps, forty-five minutes."
"Forty-five minutes to enjoy not getting' snapped at f' wearin' my hair t' long, my clothes t' sloppily and my English bein' bent t' Hell an' back." The Cajun sighed. Scott shook his head.
"You can't cut your hair. If you cut yours, I'll have to grow mine or we'll have too many instances of mistaken identity."
The team laughed. It was a long-standing joke that Remy was Scott's little brother. One that the two men decried to the heavens.
"And how did you deduce that it was Sinister?" Giles asked idly.
"Who else'd show up t' make life difficult?"
"Non, cher, I don't t'ink this is y'r nightmare."
"Oh? You think this is a nightmare?" Scott had perked up. He perched on the edge of the armchair. "What makes you say that?"
"Vampires. Demon-hunters. Sinister. You in a mood. Rogue makin' me stop smokin'. Oui, cher, this is a nightmare. And I don' t'ink it be one of y'rs."
"If this is your mind, I don't want to stay here, so why don't you get me out of it?" Scott ran a hand through his hair. He scratched idly at the bristles on his chin. Remy looked at him oddly.
"You didn't shave."
"I didn't have a razor."
"Shit. I knew I forgot something," Jubilee said smacking her forehead. She scrounged into the drug store bag. She came up with two bags of disposable razors. "One set for the boys, one for the girls."
Scott reached for the razors, then stopped. He grinned at Gambit. The thief's eyes narrowed. "Non, cher. Y' go on and shave."
"But this could be so much fun."
"He'll be a bigger pain in the ass."
Bobby snickered. "And how do you know that?"
"Because Scotty's his golden boy. He don' like thinkin' of him doin' anythin' wrong. An' not shavin' definitely ain't a Summers' trait."
"We don't know that for sure."
"I'm an Essex, not a Summers."
Jubilee stopped in mid-motion. "Sinister's your *Father*?"
Remy shrugged. "Only by blood."
"That is *so* gross."
"Tell me 'bout it, chere."
"You better not be flirting with that teenager, sugah. I'll have t' take you in hand."
"Could be interestin'." Remy leered at Rogue. Lightening crackled in the distance. Everyone looked at Storm. She was looking at her nails and frowing.
"Was that natural, Ro?" Scott asked.
"Hmm? Oh, yes. Completely natural."
Remy's lips twitched. Logan snorted. Rogue put her hands on her hips. "What was that all about, girl?"
"I do not take kindly to people threatening my brother."
"Ooooh," Bobby whispered to Xander. "This could get interesting." Xander looked at him with wide eyes.
"You live with these women and they haven't given you the male wrongness lecture?"
Bobby rolled his eyes. "Hello, clueless boy. I have the best defense in the world."
"They think I’m gay."
"You aren't right? Not that there's a problem with that, but. . ."
Bobby shook his head. "Self-protection. They don't care if they think I'm lusting after their boys. Red knows of course, but. . ."
Jubilee pounced on Bobby's back, hugging him around the neck. "You been lyin' to me, bub?" she murmured into his ear.
"Me? Your partner in crime? Have I told any of them about Jo? No, not one word."
She winked at Xander. "You keep mine, I keep yours."
"Jubilee, he's too old for you. I don't mind you hanging around with the Cajun. I know his girlfriend will beat him if he touches you, but Bobby, well, he's another story."
Bobby pouted in Scott's direction.
"Meaning, it's a waste of time, Jubes. I've known him for years. You're not his type."
"Who is?" She asked, settling her chin on the top of his head.
"Hank." Scott smiled at Bobby's frown.
"Where those sunglasses, petite?"
"In the drug store bag. I couldn't resist."
Remy pulled out the mirrored red sunglasses. "Y' sure are growin' into y'r bitchood, petite."
"I'll take that as a compliment."
Logan smacked the Cajun across the back of the head. "Watch yer mouth, boy."
"Get a mirror, old man."
"You two, stop circling," Scott ordered. "Jean, would you be so kind as to take Jubilee over your knee?"
"No way, honey. I'm not going down for child abuse."
"Guess that means I'll have to do it."
"Touch me and die, Summers," Jubilee snarled. She fisted one hand at him. It started to glow.
"Jubilation Lee, no fireworks in the house! I swear you are worse than Gambit," Jean chided. "And wipe that thought out of your head this instant, Remy."
"What thought?" He blinked innocently at her, then slipped on the red shades. He changed his posture slightly and looked at Scott. "If we're going to do this, we should do it right, don't you think?"
Scott's smile grew into a full smirk. "Course, cher," he said. Logan's head snapped around. Jean's jaw dropped. "What's de matter, Jeannie?" Scott teased.
Jubilee covered her mouth. "Oh, my Gawd," she valley-girled.
The Scooby gang looked at them with bewildered eyes.
Jubilee rolled her eyes at them. "Like, everyone *knew* Remy could do Scott, but who knew Fearless could play Cajun?"
"Just remember to call him, M. Essex."
"No. He was thrown out of the medical community for his vivisection experiments."
"Bien," Scott said with a nod. Jean shivered.
"That is just plain spooky."
Remy's lips curled up into a smile. He glanced at Scott, then walked over to her. "Don't worry, honey, you'll get used to it." He tipped her chin up with a finger and placed a careful kiss on her lips.
"Watch it, homme," Scott snapped.
Ororo looked at the two of them. "You two are forgetting the most interesting possibility. Sinister cannot assume that we are from the same universe. Nor can we assume that he is from ours. Therefore, we could have a Gambit who was taken in by Charles, and a Scott who became Jean-Luc's son."
Joyce and Sinister were greeted by good-natured laughter. "They seem to be getting on well," Sinister stated. He stepped through the door and looked around the room. He was in his original human form, with the exception of his eyes, which matched Gambit's. His eyes narrowed. "It won't work, son."
"What won'?" Scott asked.
Sinister frowned. "I wasn't speaking to you, Scott. Remy, a genetic mix with Grey blood would not work. While it is not out of the question for you and the Negress to become parents together, I would strongly recommend against attempting to mate with Jean. She is genetically too close. And while we are on the topic, Scott, you need to have another child, and go shave."
"How did you manage that one?" Scott asked idly.
"I know LeBeau's shields. And I do not believe that we are from different universes. There is no reason for it. It would stretch probability too far, Ororo."
"Ms. Monroe, or Storm," she corrected.
"If you are indeed Remy's sister, that would make you my daughter, Ororo." Sinister smiled at her, reveling nothing but plain white teeth. She wasn't sure what was most disturbing. The fact that he was looking human, or the fact that she considered him handsome. Evil shouldn't wear such a nice face, she decided. Sinister raised a brow. "You should work on your shields, child. Now, Mr. Giles? Have you any theories yet?"
Giles shook his head. "We have been researching, but have come up with nothing. Do join us for dinner."
"I shall, thank you. Now then, LeBeau, I want a full reckoning."
Remy rolled his eyes. His voice retained its normal drawl, but his accent softened. "We were progessing with our usual lives, when we were interrupted by what looked very much like one of your tesseracts. When we arrived through it, we were in various locations. Myself, Scott and Wolverine were here. After all the parties in this room had gathered to share stories, we began researching the phenomenon. What we have established is that we have traveled through universes. In this universe they know of mutants only as creatures from a comic book world. There is one mutant that we can ascertain, young Ms. Summers here. She has a healing factor, increased strength, and the perfect aim and calculation abilities that our Scott shows. Magic is a real factor, much as it is in our own universe. Vampires are real, however, they seem to be less of a genetic malfunction or separate species, and more of a demonic possession. The government has been working on a project to control these demons, however, it seems to have lost control of the project. It is very much like the sentinels project we derailed last year. They have implanted Spike there, the vampire, with a chip to render him harmless to human beings. We have not yet determined to what purpose we have been transported here. And we have not yet determined what further similarities there may be between our worlds. Our time-stream, however, does seem to run parallel."
The X-men stared, except for Scott who nodded in confirmation. Sinister nodded as well. "From what I have ascertained through my exploration of this area, is that demons are indeed everywhere. There are several different species. There is also some form of mind control being practiced on the populace. They do not recognize the threat within their boundaries, they do not react to the possibility that they are in danger at all. When they are killed the local authorities do not report it any differently than they would a normal murder, and their suppositions remain outrageously contrary to the evidence before them." He snorted. "They may as well be burying their heads in the sand."
"They are," Buffy stated. She stood with her arms crossed. "You didn't look like this the first time I saw you."
Sinister smiled. "Of course not, child. I was merely testing a theory earlier. I prefer to blend in."
"No one saw you, huh?" Buffy shook her head. "That's normal."
"Is there an omega class telepath in this area, Jean?"
"If you're going to use us for your purposes, maybe you'd better ask first."
The scientist raised a brow. "I could simply do the work myself, but I learned to delegate. I thought perhaps you would rather the search be done with your moral high-ground in place, but if you feel that isn't necessary, then I will do it."
Jean's jaw worked and her eyes flashed. "Moral high-ground. You are a son-of-a-bitch."
"My mother was doting, and anything but." Sinister shrugged. "If you would rather not, I'll do the examination myself."
"I never said I wouldn't do it," Jean snapped. Her eyes narrowed. "Get that smirk off of your face. You are worse than Gambit."
"That is quite an insult."
"F' you. Me, I'm glad she t'inks I'm better'n you."
"Don't force me to wash your mouth out again."
Remy's face screwed up in distaste. "Y' wouldn't?"
"You know exactly what I'm capable of."
Remy slumped into his chair. He put his feet up on the coffee table. Storm shoved them off of it. "How many times do I have to tell you, padnat, no shoes on the table."
"Oui, chere. I don' get no breaks 'round here."
"Oh, I don't know. I've let you live this long," Scott said. Remy gave him the finger.
"Maybe if you're good." That made the Cajun shudder like a cat squirted with water. Scott pouted. "What? You don't like me?"
"Good God, is this what you have to put up with when you go out on the town with him?" Jean asked.
"Oui, M. Jeannie."
"Oh, cut the 'po' me' crap," Scott ordered. "Or *I'll* wash your mouth out, brat."
"Boys!" Jean snapped. They both looked at her. "I don't know why the two of you have suddenly decided that now is a good time for a spat, but it's not. So kiss and make up."
Gambit raised a brow. A sly smirk was on Scott's face. "Don' even."
"Oh, but I follow orders, remember?" Scott caught the Cajun's collar and kissed him. His glasses flashed with a flare of power as he set the younger man down. "There, spat over with."
"Time for a new one, then," Remy said, wiping at his mouth with the back of his wrist. "Y' taste like toothpaste."
"And you taste like tobacco, so I'm guessing you haven't quit yet."
Remy scowled at him. Rogue put her hands on her hips. "Oh, really?" she asked. Her eyes narrowed. She stalked towards the Cajun.
"Scott, y' need t' get out of the house. Y're turnin' int' a bitch. Here's the other option, chere, he's lyin' t' see y' get mad at m'. Turns him on t' watch folks fightin' y' know. He's anti-social."
"As if you have room to talk."
"Scott Michael Summers! Remy Etienne LeBeau! Stand down immediately!" Jean's eyes flashed as she physically separated the two with a TK wall.
"Hey! No fair!" Scott crossed his arms over his chest. "Well, Sinister, have you got a theory yet, or should we just find a way to lock you up in a closet somewhere until you come up with one?"
Sinister shook his head. "We have common enemies," he reminded gently. "And while our methods differ, they aren't radically different in intent."
"I don't wantonly hurt people. Only a select few," he said gesturing at the thief who was quietly sweet talking Rogue. "You, however, have been known to kidnap, torture, and murder people. You have taken perfectly nice people and turned them into killers. You keep a staff of mercenaries on hand to raid, pillage, rape, and kill. I don't think that 'differing methods' covers that sufficiently."
"Gambit, what would you say of the Marauders, are they murderers?"
"Shit yes. And that fuckin' ghost of y'rs that lives inside Prism now's one of the worst. Y' should've let m' blow his ass up."
"I understand that you and Malice have differences."
"Oui. He's a mass murderer who gets off on the carnage. I ain't." Remy turned away from the conversation.
"Malice?" Xander asked Giles.
"Non-corporeal entity that possessed Polaris during the Morlock Massacre story-line. Captured by Sinister within that body by a special collar."
Essex started. "What do you know about our world then?"
"Only what I've read in the comics," Giles responded. "You'll have to ask Iceman what the differences are."
Bobby snorted. "Those things are almost total bullshit. They get some of the powers right, but Scott's got more control than the comics let on. And they totally forget some things. The fact that Gambit's an empath. That Rogue's allergic to strawberries. Shit, they don't even mention that Scott's bi or that Logan had an affair with Northstar. They don't say anything at all about Gambit and Emma Frost having a thing. And they can't seem to decide whether Jubes is 13 or 20. She's 15 by the way," he told Xander in an undertone. Xander's brows rose.
"Just thought I'd warn you. And in terms of story-line? There's so many differences. Hell, if we had to do all the things they have us doing in those comics, I'd never have passed my CPA exam and there's no way in Hell that Scott would have gotten married. And they even have us going into space with the idea that the professor is in love with some alien queen. As if he'd leave Magneto. They may spat, but shit, they're so in love it hurts. Anyway, in other words, they don't know us. By the way, Gumbo, is your wife alive or dead?"
"Belle's alive alright, but she ain't my wife, well, maybe legally, but the handfastin' was for five years only." Remy shrugged.
"Handfasting? I thought you had a full-out Catholic weddin', sugah?"
Remy shook his head. "Non, chere, it was a politics t'ing. That weddin' was f' the family t' be wedded. Belle an' me was handfasted. Sort of like makin' a contract."
"There are things I don't want to know about you. But what about this little crew. What sort of history do we have to worry about or work with here?" Scott asked Giles.
The Englishman took off his glasses and cleaned them. "That is something better left until we've eaten dinner. It could take some time since we don't have the shorthand of a comic book."
The group sat down for dinner. As they ate, Willow noticed a low growl in the back of Logan's throat. She was suddenly strongly reminded of Oz and felt a lump form in her throat. Tara squeezed her hand under the table.
"So, sugah," Rogue asked Remy in her sweetest drawl, "what *is* between you and Frosty?"
Remy coughed up the water he'd been swallowing. He debated the odds of surviving lying to her. "Been negotiatin' 'bout my trainin' Jubilee. Takin' her t' dinner an' all. Evaluatin' her artwork, her security."
"Her bedroom," Bobby interjected. Remy scowled at him.
"I've trained you well," Scott grinned at Iceman. "Don't worry, Cajun. I don't care if you've been sleeping with that diamond-hearted bitch. She's better for you than Rogue." Scott stroked the thief's ponytail. Rogue went red.
"I'd forgotten just how much of a catty bitch you were," Jean said frowning.
"I learned from the best, honey." Her frown deepened. Logan's growl became more audible as Scott casually touched the thief's cheek as he stroked away a strand of hair.
"Did you really sleep with that bitch?" Rogue demanded.
"Which one?" Remy glanced at Scott.
"Not that one. Logan'd gut you if you did. Frost."
"A couple of times." Remy shrugged.
"You are one dead slut, sugah. That's it. It's over."
Scott smirked. "Good."
"Control y' boy, Jeannie, or let him out of the house b'fo' he scares these nice folks."
"Let us change the topic then," Storm intervened. "Tell us more about yourselves. Past adventures, current enemies. Embarrassing relationships."
Willow giggled as Giles and Joyce glanced at each other. Buffy sighed. "Romances are the easiest I think. Willow and Tara are a couple now. Will used to be with Oz, but he found another wereworlf and went off with her. Anya used to be a vengeance demon. She and Xander are engaged. I used to be dating a boy named Riley, but he's part of the Initiative, so things didn't work out. Giles went out with Jenny, but she was killed by Angelus when she tried to bind him." Scott's brows rose when she didn't mention anything else about Giles. "Spike is in love with Dru the schizo vamp, but Angelus took her with him when he left town. That's about it.
"As for enemies, there's Angelus, the meanest, smartest, most sadistic vamp I've ever met. He left when we closed the Hellmouth -- well, blocked it. Ethan Rayne, a chaos magician. He turned Giles into a demon a few months ago. Other than that, most of our big bads are dead.
"Adventures, well, that'll take a round of donuts and coffee." She got up. "I'll take Will and go get some." Giles reached for his wallet. Joyce stopped him with a touch.
"I'll go with you, Buffy."
"Ah, sure, Mom. Thanks." The three left. Scott started clearing the dishes. "Bobby, Ro, you're on clean up tonight."
"There are a few more details you should be made aware of. Willow is a very powerful witch. Ethan, the aforementioned sorcerer, is also my ex though Buffy refuses to acknowledge it. I also have some history in the arts."
"What about you and Buffy's mother?"
Giles flushed. "We had a spell induced one night stand."
"Oh? I definitely want details about that one."
"Scott, don't embarrass our host," Jean told him.
"This from the queen of gossip?"
"I don't gossip."
The rest of the team stared at Jean.
Bobby snickered. "Right. Right. And Beast's turning grey. I don’t think so, Red."
"Scott's the gossip."
"Scott ain't a talker," Logan said. He offered a hand to Tara as she got up. She smiled at him.
"And how would you know that?" Jean asked. Logan just grinned at her. She turned to Gambit. "Remy, what exactly do you get up to when you go out on the town with these two?"
"I don' go out wit' neither of them, chere. Dey go off on their own an' Remy goes off on his."
Xander tried to force down his smile. These people were a trip. He wasn't sure how much was a reaction to discovering themselves in another dimension and how much was a matter of their normal personalities. Of all the strange things he'd experienced during his time with Buffy, he'd never considered meeting superheroes. He put the kettle on for tea and started the coffee without having to be asked. This was a normal pattern. "Yo, G-man, are we patrolling tonight?"
"Yes, of course. We didn't do so last night."
"Patrolling?" Cyclops was instantly alert. "For what?"
"Vampires, demons, or whatever nasty creepy crawly that tries to attack us," Willow shrugged.
"We'll come with you in that case. We need to get a lay of the land anyway. Do you do teams?"
"Well, usually it's Buffy and one of us. But we don't walk alone at all. It's just not safe after dark. You need a stake or a sword to kill a vampire," she explained. "And that means you've got to be good at hand to hand."
Scott nodded. "Wolverine, Gambit, you'll join them tonight to get a sense of what's going on and where we are. Gambit, see if you can find anything I'll be interested in."
Gambit nodded. He went to the weapons closet in a vain hope that there'd be something he could use. "Give m' back the trench if y' want m' out fightin'."
"I trust your abilities better than that."
"Do the femmes scare y' that much? Po' Scotty."
"Don't cross, me Gumbo."
Tara cocked her head to the side. "What's wrong?" she asked. "I've got the impression that it's more than just being out of your dimension?"
Scott gave her a tight smile. "I can't use my powers here. I don't have any way to control them."
"Oh?" Willow was intrigued. "What would you need?"
"If you were to acquire the requisite parts, I could easily create that for you," Sinister stated. Scott looked at him. "I've made an extensive study of your physiology remember? I could create a visor. Not as advanced as the one you've been using, but suitable."
Scott nodded. "I'll draw up a shopping list for Jubilee."
Jubilee looked at him. "Like real shopping? Or special shopping?"
"And you're sending me alone? I love you, Summers. Forget anything else I've ever said."
"Y' ain't goin' alone, petite."
"I'm sure she's capable enough."
"Not until I get a chance t' look t'ings over 'round here. We decide then." The contest of wills was ceded by Scott much to everyone's amazement.
"I'll trust your judgement, but I’m sure she'll be fine considering her teacher is a perfectionist."
"About some things," Essex said softly, accepting a cup of tea from Xander. "Gambit, I have other requirements. I want to know about this 'Initiative.' Anything and everything you can get. I also want to know who's in charge of the major groups in the area and those groups' composition."
"As you used to do."
Scott scowled. "We need to deal with this little development right now. Gambit, Sinister, join me on the back porch."
"I'd rather you didn't go out. The night is treacherous," Giles interrupted. "The upstairs bedroom has sufficient soundproofing for anything you might require."
"Thanks. Coming?" Scott started up the stairs. Remy followed a moment later. Sinister sighed, set down his tea and followed.
"What is it, Scotty-cher?" Remy asked.
"I have a feeling that Scott dislikes my ordering you about, son."
Remy glanced between them. "Scotty?"
"I thought we hashed this out the last time we were going to attack one of his bases. As an X-man you no longer take orders from enemies."
"Scott, I'm not your enemy. The sooner you see that the better off you'll be."
"You destroy innocent lives. You use people. You experiment on people. You consider human beings nothing more than play-toys. I don't know what else you think you are to me."
"I'm a scientist. I don't attack you or yours."
"I've never come after you for samples since that first time when you stumbled into my lab over one hundred years ago. Then, when you were under my care in a coma. I've never gone after your people."
"The Marauders. . ."
"Would leave you be if you didn't insist on trying to stop them from doing their jobs. I will admit that Creed's antipathy is a stumbling block, but honestly, I mean you no harm. Can you honestly tell me that Gambit's report on 'anything you'd be interested in' isn't exactly what I asked him to provide me."
"He's right, Scotty, and y' know it. And I ain't never pledged t' be y'r t'ief only."
Cyclops considered for a long time. "I won't have divided loyalties cause a problem, is that clear?"
"His loyalty is not divided."
"That's bullshit, Sinister."
"Language," the scientist chided.
"You've given him orders all night and I don't like it one bit. When we're in the field there can't be any hesitation. If he's waiting for your orders it could get someone killed. I need to know that I can trust him to follow those orders. And that I can trust you not to counter my orders in any way, shape or form."
"I won't be in the field with you, so it doesn't matter. In the field, I know he'll follow you."
"Maybe y'all should be talkin' t' m'?"
They both shot him an amused look. "Sit down and shut up, Gumbo," Scott said pointing at the bed.
"Non, y' both got t' listen t' Remy f' once. I'm the only one of this team that's ever seen a vampire b'fore. I know what t' do. I ain't gonna do not'in' t' get anyone hurt. I been balancin' t' two of y' f' years! This ain't no different."
"Are you telling me you've been feeding him information?" Scott snapped.
"I been doin' m' job. I'm a t'ief. I'm a damned good t'ief. I been doin' what I always do, which is get paid f' jobs. If'n I didn't have m' rep den y' wouldn't get not'in'. I'm y'r t'ief f' free. He pays."
"And how did you manage to negotiate that?" Sinister was impressed. Even half-dead the Cajun had driven a hard bargain.
"I'm good. Why didn't you tell me?"
"Y' ain't never asked. Gambit's good, cher. That's why y' wanted him t' stay in the first place. Know Logan told y' about m'." Remy shook his head. "Both of y'all are too stubborn t' understand that I ain't wedded t' neither dream."
Scott sighed. "If you get him killed, I want a clone when we get home."
"Of course." Sinister nodded. "Now, my tea is likely getting cold." He left the room.
Remy put a hand on Scott's arm. "Y' too terribly mad at m'?"
"No. Just the situation. I don't like you taking his orders. You're my thief."
"Ah, cher, y' a possessive bastard ain't y'."
"Very. That's why I don't want you dating Rogue."
"Asshole," Remy laughed. Scott cuffed him gently across the back of his head.
"I'm serious. Now, you get to meet the vampires. I'm almost jealous. And I'm serious about sending Jubilee alone."
"She ain't goin' alone unless I get t' scout the area. We don' know what sort of security they got 'round here. If it ain't too unusual, I'll send her, but if it ain't, well, then I'm goin' wit' her. If it's just shopliftin' that's different. She's real good at that. She'll have t' get us more provisions. We need housin' too."
"I'll look into it in the morning. We'll need a house."
Downstairs Buffy, Willow and Joyce were back with several dozen donuts. . "What did we miss?" Buffy asked Giles.
"Something that needed a private discussion."
Scott came down the stairs, trench flaring to the sides. Jubilee raised a brow. "So, Sinny, yer sure they ain't related?"
"Quite. Now, Miss Lee, if you would be so kind as to investigate the donuts in pursuit of a lemon filled one I would be grateful."
Jubilee rolled her eyes. "Get Rems to do it if you're too lazy. I'm, like, so not into helping you out."
"Hm, I'll have to talk to your master about that attitude of yours."
"What attitude?" Remy asked.
"The diamond headed freak here wants me to fetch stuff shit for him."
"Language," Scott corrected.
"An' y' were the one that wanted that last commission, non?" Remy asked idly.
"You ain't blackmailing me into working for Sinister, dipwad."
Gambit smacked her across the back of the head.
"Stop messing up my hair!"
"Stop bein' disrespectful. These folks here don't know y' as well as we do."
"So, you and Frosty huh?" Jubilee raised a brow. "So, about my grade in History. . ."
"Y' lucky I don't grade as hard as she does. Y' do piss-poor work when it comes to workin' on background stuff. Emmaline's not gonna be nice from now on. Y' been in class f' more'n six months now."
"Oh, man, don't tell me you talk to her about that stuff."
"Like, duh, chere."
"That was so bizarre."
Joyce handed Sinister a lemon filled donut. "Tell me, Nathan, are you married?"
"My wife died several years ago."
Sinister patted her hand. "Don't worry, my dear lady, she's been dead for more than a century. William, will you show Gambit the low life?"
Everyone in the room stared at the scientist. "Who is. . ."
"And who the Hell do ya think you are then?" Spike demanded.
"William," Sinister's voice grew colder. "Don't cross me."
"William?" Remy inquired softly. "As in the one y' keep wishin' I'd met when I was 'young and impressionable'?"
"Yes, my first Marauder, William. I suppose you've taken another name."
"The name's Spike and I ain't never worked for you."
Sinister shook his head. "Amazing. The one person I'd wished immortality upon in my universe is the only one who's gotten it in this universe. How perverse."
"Well, y' did want m' t' meet him. Funny that he's here though."
"Maybe not. Maybe we have versions of each of you here in our world," Joyce said after a moment. "I know you all feel as if you're from someplace completely different, but maybe that's not so. Those comics had to be based on something."
Giles nodded. "That would make a certain amount of sense."
"But we couldn't be duplicates. There'd be a paradox collapse," Bobby said with a frown. "Hank and I were talking about that sort of thing when Bishop showed up. There's no way to have two yous in one universe. It would collapse."
"They don't need to be still living," Willow said.
Remy considered. "Mebbe we need t' read those books then."
Bobby shook his head. "There's no way of knowing who we'd be based on in this universe. I mean, there's always the Dickens explanation for Gambit."
"Oliver Twist you mean?" Giles nodded. "With a bit of Romeo and Juliet. There's been some discussion on the basis of the Marvel characters in the past, but nothing truly concrete. However, the fact that you wished Spike were immortal in your timeline and it came true in this one would indicate that there is some overlap between our universes."
"Which would explain why we can be here at all." Scott shook his head. "Patrol first, then we can discuss things. We'll also have to arrange housing. There's no way we can camp out on your floor for more than a week without one of us snapping."
"We'll find something," Jean said. "We'll have to consider working as well."
"Like legal work?" Jubilee asked with a frown. "I don't like legal work."
"You'll be doing schoolwork," Scott stated firmly. "And you'll have to continue your training. I won't have any of us dulled on that point. Perhaps you and Buffy could work together?"
"That'd be cool. You don't mean I'll have to go to high school do you? That'd be so uncool."
Scott shook his head. "I know what you're supposed to be studying."
While the others continued to discuss things, Buffy led Wolverine and Gambit into the Sunnydale streets.
"What do you think overall?" Scott asked his thief. Remy leaned back as he considered.
"I think that we aren't needed here. There ain't no mutants to save. We can help de petite get rid of the Initiative. We have t' I t'ink. But beyond that there's not'in' pressin'. We got t' figure a way home of course, but dat's gonna be some powerful mojo."
"Inter-dimensional travel isn't new for the X-men."
"But it ain't never been like this. We been goin' to different times wit' the same basis. This is completely different. We ain't gonna find no Magneto here, but I have seen his double in the video store."
"Oui. He's an actor." Remy shook his head. "What y' t'inkin' f' workin'?"
"I don't know. We need to be working before we can get a place. And I don't think I want to rely on your talents as great as they may be. You just don't have contacts here."
"I been makin' 'em. An' Spike, he done introduced m' t' a whole new group. Dey t'ink I'm part demon, but that ain't new. Giles was t'inkin' it'd be best f' m' t' stay in the Magic Box." Remy frowned. "But I t'ink y' need t' be there more."
"Because I can pass in the bars Spike's been takin' m' too. I can get work there. And I can do what I'm best at. Y' need t' be someplace where they ain't gonna bitch 'bout y' wearin' y' shades."
Scott nodded slowly. "I hate that."
"Feeling helpless. I'd much rather be hustling. . .pool," he tacked on at Remy's smirk. "And I don't know the first thing about magic."
"It ain't that hard. Remy'll give y' a crash course. Besides, it's more a matter of learnin' merchandise. Just like any sort of retail."
"And I don't like the idea of you being out of contact in the middle of the night."
"I’m always out of contact."
"Jean keeps a tracer on you."
"But she can do that here."
"She's worried about this high-level 'path that's got Sunnydale under its spell."
"So we get some phones and I ring in once an hour. If'n I don't y' send Logan t' kick m' ass."
"I like that plan. I just have to make sure your batteries die."
"Bitch. And Jeannie?"
"She's going to be working at the art gallery with Joyce. Jubilee wants to work part-time at the mall. Storm, well, I don't know."
"Don' worry. We find some place f' her." Remy shifted. "Lemme ask y', cher. Y' been feelin' odd recently? Like we bein' watched?"
Scott considered. "I don't know. Ask Jean."
"Are you two bitching at each other again?"
"Non." Remy shrugged. "Jus' ain't up to talkin' t' her right now. Not now that she's kin."
"Sinister's not just pulling your leg?"
Remy shook his head. "Non. Makes sense don't it? Surprisin' I ain't a Summers come down t' it."
"Oui. He bein' mon pere, I can accept that. Him makin' me out of a Grey? Oui, makes sense. What I'm surprised at is that he ain't made hisself a Summers-Grey." Remy shrugged. "I guess he figured Cable's enough."
"Really? Interesting." Scott considered. "Well, it does explain the hair. Don't worry. I'll tell her to lay off the cousin jokes."
"Jus'. . . it creeps m' out t' t'ink I was flirtin' wit' kin."
Scott ruffled the younger man's bangs. "Get some sleep. We'll hash out the details in the morning over coffee."
"Y' comin' up too or y' gonna sit down here an' brood some?"
"I've already gotten my sleep for tonight. You're the one on midnight security. I've been going to bed at nine."
Remy rolled his eyes. "Night then, Fearless."
Scott looked at the shelves behind the counter again. "Giles?"
"Yes?" the Watcher responded almost absently from the upstairs loft of the store.
"I can't see the prices on any of these dry goods."
"That's because they're not marked on the holders. There should be a clipboard with the current prices hanging on the side of the aisle."
"Anya's very pleased that she's got someone she can trust."
"She counts the register four times before she leaves."
"She's also rather obsessive about money. She was a patron demon of scorned women."
"What happened with all of that?" Scott asked as he reviewed the pricelist.
"It's rather complex. Sufficed to say, an alternate time-line version of myself destroyed her power amulet. When the time-line collapsed, she found herself here. In high school, I should add. She's overcome much of her resentment of me."
"So dimensions cross regularly around here?"
"Not in the manner you're thinking. We've only ever had demons or altered versions of ourselves show up."
Scott sighed. He wandered around the bottom level of the shop. "I don't know why I'm working here. I don't have the slightest clue. I should have made Gambit do it."
"And why did you decide to come yourself?"
"He convinced me. Until I have my visor, and even after I have my visor, I'll have to keep my shades on. It's one of the reasons I could never work retail in Westchester." Scott shrugged. "I've bartended, but I've never been in a retail job. The professor always told me I should explore new experiences."
Giles smiled to himself as he watched the young man circling. It was like seeing a caged tiger in the zoo. You knew he wasn't happy with the situation. Still, there was no help for it. Scott was right in his assessment. He couldn't work elsewhere in the city. Even Sunnydale had some rules of dress. No one would question it here in the Magic Box though. As long as he stayed out of the till he was perfectly safe. "I'll miss having you about when you decide to move out."
"Thanks, I think. Giles, are there other watchers watching us or am I just getting paranoid?"
Giles frowned. "You've sensed someone watching you?"
"Yes. And Gambit mentioned it as well. It's not a telepath. Jean would have found that out. It's just, unnerving."
"No, there are no sanctioned Watchers here. And I don't like the idea of you being watched. We'll have to set up some stronger protections for you."
"You mean magic not guns, right?"
Giles looked over his glasses at the young man. "Don't sulk. It's unbecoming."
"I like guns. And knives. And things that are easy to manipulate like most people. I don't like magic. I don't understand it. I can't sense it. And the only person I know who's ever used it was also a demon princess, so I'm understandably a little wary of trusting my neck to a charm and a prayer."
Giles laughed at that. "I'm sure Gambit will find you a gun if you ask nicely."
"Bite your tongue. I never ask nicely. He wouldn't recognize me. Threaten, cajole and browbeat? Certainly." Scott grinned. "So, what do I have to do today?"
"You can start with the dusting and straightening. Don't wipe off any of the chalk marks you find under the counter or on the boxes. On second thought, Xander was working on inventory in the back room over the weekend. I doubt that he finished. Why don't you check on that?"
The young man laughed. He gave Giles a salute and wandered into the back room. "Don't open anything sealed in a language I don't understand, right?"
"Exactly. There should be item numbers on each of the boxes from shipping. We'll correlate the order from the shipping list. Also, you can start filling the internet orders. Just ask if you have any questions."
Gambit shook his head at the patrons that were vying for his attention. There seemed to be two rumors going around. One that he was a child of Satan and the other, that he'd beaten the Slayer in a fight and hadn't killed her. The fact that he wouldn't tell anyone anything about his family made him a hot commodity. Everyone wanted something from him and a smile in their direction seemed to get him anything he wanted.
Spike sat down at the bar and Gambit drew up a pint of blood for him from the heated reserve. He hadn't asked if it were human blood and he didn't want to know. In fact, he was hoping to be able to delete the entire experience from his memory when they got away from Sunnydale. "How ya doin', pet?" Spike asked.
Remy shrugged. "Had worse jobs, me. What can I do f' y', cher?"
"Well, yer talkin' to me and fer this group, that's gonna earn me some points. Seems you've made a splash."
Remy grinned. "Gotta be me. Probably should tell them m' name's Summers like Scotty."
"Shit. Yer kiddin'? That boy can't be a Summers. He ain't a good-two-shoes."
The Cajun shrugged. "Sorry, cher, got customers. I'll be back." Remy turned to his latest customer a green-skinned fellow with fangs and purple eyes. "What can I get f' y', cher?"
"Sour apple scnapps." Remy poured the shot and set it down. "You're new here. Looking for a good time."
"Sorry, cher, I'm taken. Too bad. Purple's a favorite color of mine."
The purple eyes crinkled. "Maybe you really are Satan's gift to the world. I haven't met a flirt like you since 1708. There's a rumor that you're a theif."
"Depends on who's askin' me. Wouldn't want y' t' be a cop in disguise."
The creature started to laugh until little trail of green tears slipped down its face. "Now, sweetie, you're definitely a rare one. There's a piece I hear is up at the Summers Gallery. I want it and I'm willing to pay for it."
"Then how 'bout I just curier for y'? Y' pay me, I pay her an' bring it t' y'. Most those prices be cheaper than what y'd get m' f'. I got an apprentice t' feed."
"You'd do that?"
"Sure." Remy shrugged. "Just a small finders fee, non? Which piece?"
"The Goldman Paradox."
Remy reviewed the inventory he knew. "The yellow swirly one?" He nodded. "She's askin' 20K f' it. 1000 f' me t' pick it up and back. Y' need currency conversion?"
"I've got gold. Pure as your smile."
"Well, we'll have t' melt it t' get the impurities out then. Now, y' have a name f' me?"
Remy sighed. "Now, y' know I'm gonna slaughter that."
"Bree then. And you're Remy."
"Or Gambit. Y' choice."
"Gambit? That's an interesting name. And do you take unreasonable risks?"
"Depends." Remy winked. "Now, y' need that gold converted t' American. Current price is $426 or so. Figure y' get $400 on the sly."
Bree nodded. "I'll get the gold to you tomorrow night. Will you let the dealer know that you've got a buyer for her?"
"Of course. Pas de problem. A pleasure t' do business wit' y'."
"Another schnapps and I'll be on my way to find another pretty creature to spoil for the night."
Remy pouted, but poured the drink without comment. Bree pushed a twenty across the bar and left. Remy tucked away the change and turned back to Spike. The vampire was watching him with new respect. "What?"
"Yer good, mate. Bree ain't the type to take advice like that."
Remy blinked. "Quoi?"
"Buyin' not stealin'. Yer a strange one."
"Easier t' buy it. Jubilee's doin' an upgrade f' security f' Joyce. Why steal it when y' don' need to? It ain't that expensive and I cost a lot more t' steal it than it's worth."
"What you used to gettin' fer a heist. Just fer example?"
Remy considered. "Art normally nets m' a million easy. Sometimes more, dependin' on what it is. Jewelry I take street value. Less'n it's famous. Magic costs more. Information, depends on what folks will pay. Ma petite is gainin' a good rep f' retail things. She takes half of the ticket price." Remy shrugged. "It ain't as lucrative as the good stuff though. Gov'ment stuff costs 'em. And I don' do nothin' that's against my prinicples f' the govvies."
Spike stared at him. "And yer boy knows this?"
"That's why he negotiated so hard." Remy grinned. "Now, le docteur? He pays me outright. Got a special account f' him t' transfer money int'." Remy took care of a few more patrons, flirting with anyone who looked willing to flirt back. He was doing his best to cheer up the one customer furthest from Spike, but she. . . er it, didn't seem to be responding. "What's the trouble, chere?" he asked as he found a clean glass that her tenticle could grasp. He didn't know why he was sure of her gender, but he went with his gut. "What can I get f' y'?"
"Bloody Mary, extra Tabasco, Tomato, not blood."
Remy hummed as he put the drink together. "Here y' go, chere. Why so blue?"
"Fucking bastard of a sea urchin left me," she hissed. "I want to twist his entrails around a pike and shove it down his throat."
"Well, y' wait long enough one of those vengence girls'll be around an' can help y' out."
"There are vengence demons here?"
Remy pointed two of them out where they were sitting in the corner booth. He filled a new glass for Spike. "T'ink there needs to be a better dishwasher here, me. Don' want t' drink m' beer out of y'r blood glass."
"Don't worry," the bar's owner said coming up behind the Cajun, "we sterilize all of it. There's worse things than blood on some of them. You're better at this than I expected." He sighed. "I expect I'll be getting a Slayer visit any day now. It always happens when I'm starting to build up business." Remy shook his head.
"Not necessarily. She can just beat on Spike here an' the boy'll tell her anythin'. Includin' how much he loves her."
"I resent that." Spike let his demon show and Remy leaned closer.
"Cher, the last boyfriend I had was t'ree times y' size and had permanent fangs and retractable claws. Y' don't scare m' at all." Remy tweaked Spike's nose.
"Boyfriend? Yer pet psycho know about him?"
"Weren't serious. Besides, t'ink everyone knows 'bout him. 'Cept Logan."
Spike's brows rose.
"I ain't never told a man's ex that I slept wit' him. Ain't got no class. 'Sides, Rogue might now know neither. She don't believe none of what I say 'bout my history."
"She's got cause. Yer a liar."
"I know. But it's fun. Didn't sleep with Victor t' be honest. Kept some of the nasties away f' m' and got a few commisions out of it." Remy shrugged. "It'd still freak Logan out an' believe you me, homme, that ain't a pretty sight."
"Ain't ya supposed to beep yer boy?"
Remy smirked. "Non, got t' give him an excuse t' come try t' kick my ass. Besides, it'll give him an out from Jeannie. She's startin' t' grate on his nerves. Won't let the po' cher come out and play. 'Scuse m'. Got customers."
Bobby sighed. "I don't want to take the CPA exame again, but I guess I'll have to. Maybe I'll just find a temp agency."
"They don't ask a lot of questions," Willow reassured him. "Buffy's used them. They always need people with skills. I can manufacture a history for you if you want."
"Sounds like a plan. Just don't make it embarassing."
Williow smiled. "Don't worry. Listen, my folks are away for the summer. Do you want to stay at the house?"
"I'll talk to Scott about it. He's got the final say, but that would be perfect. Your folks won't mind?"
"I'll tell them some friends of Giles' came over and needed someplace to sleep. As long as you don't destory anything too badly, it should be fine."
"Don't worry. We've got Scott and Jean to do the house repairs. They're used to it."
Willow smiled happily at him.
"So, how long have you and Tara been together?"
"About six months."
"That's cool. And you're a witch? Illyana didn't want to be called one. She was a demon princess." Bobby shrugged. "It's too bad. I think Kitty would like you too. She's a hacker."
"Yeah. She taught me a lot. She's a genius." Bobby sighed. "She's a good friend, but I don't get to see her nearly often enough. She's living in Scotland now."
"Have you been in sales before?" Joyce asked Jean as they were cleaning up for the night.
"No, actually I've never had a real job. I'm the unofficial den mother and the full time peace-keeper around the house. The professor's had me help him out for conferences, but nothing like this."
"You should consider it. You're very good at it."
Jean blushed. "I'm really not cut out for full-time work. Scott maybe, but not me. I'd go crazy if I were around too many strangers. I don't do well in crowds."
"Trust me, you don't have to worry about crowds here. I wish I could do more for you."
"You and your family have done so much for us that we barely know how to react to it. Giles has practically adopted us. And your willingness to give me a job is more than I could imagine."
"Don't worry. It's nice to have someone besides Giles that I can talk to. The kids are fine, but they're still my kids."
"I understand that. I have a son and a daughter that I never had, if that makes any sense. Cable has his own team and I worry about him like a full-time mother, but he doesn't even know that I'm the woman who raised him. It's rather complicated."
Joyce smiled. "I think having children makes the world complicated. He puts himself into danger and all you really want is to wrap him up in cotton and hold him close like a little baby to protect him from all of it."
"That's it exactly. I thought I was crazy."
Scott checked his watch again
"Bored already?" Giles asked, an amused smile on his face. He was giving Scott a quick course in magical theory.
"It's not that. Sorry. Remy's supposed to beep me every hour."
The Englishman blinked. "Is he that likely to get into trouble? Perhaps he's merely lost track of time."
"He'll find trouble locked in a secure prison in solitary confinement under twenty-four hour watch. The first hour, I didn't mind. This is the second." Scott pulled out the cell-phone Jubilee had scammed for him and hit the Cajun's speed-deal number. It went to voice mail. "And he's not picking up, the brat. Contrary to what it may look like, I have heard every word you said."
"I'm sure you have and that you could recite it back to me, but have you understood it?"
"I have no clue. Can I get back to you on that tomorrow? If I can explain it to you, then I've gotten it right?"
"I suppose. Are you planning to track down Remy?"
"Yes. I'm going to hunt him down and beat him." Scott smirked. "I might even enjoy it."
Giles laughed outright at that. "Just be very careful. It's almost dark."
"I'll take Logan with me."
Jubilee hummed under her breath as she wandered around the mall. There was some freak trailing her. She was going to beat the shit out of him if he got closer. She studied him in the mirror as she tried on a bright yellow hat. He was tall and pale, but it was still light out, so he wasn't a vamp. Unless it was possible for them to be up and about, just not in the sun. She put the hat back with a sigh. It just didn't look right. But if he was a vamp, would he show up in the mirror? She went to look at earrings. The pale creep was watching her with a frown. She watched him from the mirror. He didn't act like a cop or security gaurd, so as long as she was careful she'd be able to pick up a few things. She laughed at herself. Logan would flip if he really understood what Gambit was teaching her. She was gaining a reputation and a clientel. She hoped that however long they were here wouldn't affect that. Jo would probably just take over for her and let everyone know she was called out of town with her master. She decided that none of the earrings were the proper size or style and put them back.
"Do I have to start a war to get a drink?" Scott asked as he settled next to Spike at the bar. The vampire laughed.
"Hey, pet, yer master's here."
"Remy'll be over, y' just keep y' pants on, cher."
Scott studied the young man as he flirted his way down the line of clients. There were more than a few who seemed to have fallen to the charms of his theif. He couldn't contain a smirk of pride. Spike did a double take. "What?" Scott demanded.
"You sure yer a Summers?"
"Yes. And Sinister's got the blood tests to prove it." Scott checked his watch. "You're only three hours late, Remy. That means I do get to beat you, right?"
Remy rolled his eyes. "Come on, cher. Got y' out from under Jeannie's watchful eyes non? Y' give the beatin' a pass and I'll buy y' a drink."
Scott eyed Spike's drink. "I suppose. Make it good stuff though."
"Not a problem, mon ami." Remy poured Scott a scotch and turned back to his customers. Scott leaned his back against the bar and watched the room.
"You better be careful, pet. Yer gonna make some folks jealous."
"Cuz you got the son of Satan there wrapped 'round yer finger." Spike grinned. "Think I should let folks know yer a Summers? That'll make ya a great target."
Scott frowned. "Don't try it. I'd have to destroy you. Decapitation does work, right? I think that was in the primer."
The vampire smirked, but didn't answer. Scott ignored him and looked out over the room. Normal humans, or even normal mutants, might have found the sight strange, but Scott was used to dealing with multiple teams of mutants. This was normal to him. There were furry demons, smooth demons, green men, yellow women, purple skinned hermaphrodites, and shimmery things that you could only catch out of the corner of his eye. Luckily, he had good periferal vision even with just his every-day shades. He smiled. Maybe he could convince Charles to let him open a similar bar at home. Harry's was okay, but it wasn't anything near this. There was someone watching him. He scanned the crowd, but couldn't see anyone. He frowned.
"What's wrong, cher?" Remy asked softly in his ear. Scott leaned back, exposing his neck and making several of the vampires lick their lips.
"Our watcher's here, true enough," Remy replied. "It's the old queen in the corner that looks like a really t'in Magneto wannabe."
"The one in the corner booth? Nah, he ain't cute enough to be Magneto."
"Dat's sick, cher."
Scott shrugged. "I figured I should try to understand Charles' fascination with him. All I could figure was that there was some physical attraction because the man's insane."
"I didn't need dat picture, merci. Shall I send him a drink from y'?"
"Oui. Spike, cher, who's that in the corner?"
"A git. Worked for Mr. Trick once. Never cared enough to know." Spike shrugged. "Chaos magician."
"Can you scent him? I've got a feeling he's been lurking around Giles' house. Where's Logan?" Scott looked around. He spotted Logan deep in conversation with a slender green waif. She had pointed ears. "Oh, he found an elf or something. Now, you play poker here?" he asked Spike. "Or pool? Hell, darts at this point."
"There's a kitten poker game in the back."
"Kittens." Spike smirked. "You wanna check into it?"
"What's the opening stake?"
"And how much for a kitten?"
Spike blinked. "You serious?"
"Yep. I like poker. I like a lot of things that my wife doesn't approve of. And if I get stuck in magic lessons for very much longer, I'm going to start indulging in some of the things I shouldn't. Live kittens or dead?"
"Live. Ain't no good if they ain't got blood. Come on. Pet, I'm takin' yer boy in back."
Remy nodded. Spike's announcement held two purposes. First, it marked Scott as Remy's property. Human were allowed in the bar, but they had to be claimed. Everyone assumed Remy was a demon, so he could stake a good claim. Second, it let the thief know to keep an eye on the time and get Scott out of the game if he seemed to be getting in too deep. Logan wandered over to the bar. "So, if I start a fight, will ya back me?" he asked with a grin.
"Not unless Scotty tells me too. Course, if we're talkin' bets, oui, I'll back you. I know what a bastard y' are. So, beer?"
"Yeah. You look normal back there."
Remy shrugged. "I been known t' pick up work here an' there."
"Scooter ain't gonna like it if you hook up with someone here."
"Rogue'll get back t'gether with me sure enough. Don't worry so. Y' give yourself wrinkles." Gambit patted Logan's cheek. The Canadian snorted. "Beer?"
"Okay, so run this by me again. We have a basket of kittens because you were playing poker?" Jean said, brows raising towards her hairline.
"It was kitten poker," Scott explained. He rolled his eyes. "Thus, you play for kittens. I started with an ante of two kittens, but I'm good and they weren't used to playing a mutant. So, my backer got his kittens back, plus and I got the rest. I figure we can sell them or something. Maybe Buffy's mother would like one."
"Scott, there are at least fifty kittens here."
He ran a hand through his hair. "I suppose we could sell some of them to Spike, but he'll just eat them."
Giles stopped short at the sight of a bushel-barrel of kittens. "Poker?" he asked.
He frowned. "Well, we could sell them I suppose. Perhaps Willow and Tara would like one?"
"Oh, that's a good idea. And Jubilee will want one. Remy too, most likely."
Jean's brows rose. "Remy?"
"He was eyeing the calico the same way he looks at diamonds."
Jubilee wandered down from the upstairs guest room. She was in pajamas. Her short hair was disarrayed. "Thought I heard ya, Fearless. Where's Wolvie?"
"He's walking home with Gambit."
Jubilee saw the kittens and bit her lip. "Kittens?" She paused. "Oh, poker, right? Remy told me they play kitten poker at the bar. Can I have one?"
"You have to take care of it and outfit it yourself."
"No problemo." She knelt by the basket. She played with the squirming kittens. Eventually, she found the tiny Scottish fold kitten. "Oh, aren't you the sweetest little thing," she cooed. She picked him up and he mewed pitifully at her. Scott hid his smile. One kitten taken care of, fifty-three to go. Remy and Logan arrived a few minutes later. They closed the door carefully.
Scott raised his brows. Remy shook his head. Logan's eyes narrowed, but he didn't say anything about the exchange. "Ya let her have a kitten? You nuts, bub?"
"I'll take care of him. Sweet little thing."
"What y' gonna name him, petite?" Remy knelt to look at the kitten. He tickled it under its chin.
The young woman thought for a long moment. "Highland Barbarian. Barbie or Duncan for short." The thief cracked up at that. "You'll come with me to the store right?"
"Oui. Now, up t' bed. Y' got lessons t'morrow."
"Duncan?" Logan asked.
"Y' know. Duncan McLeod? Highlander? And if y' ain't seen Highlander we're gonna have t' work on y' television education." The Cajun pursed his lips and shook his head. "Bad 'nough the only one I can talk t' about Star Trek is Hank. F' God's sake, y'all need t' join the new century."
"First off, you argued to Hank that Captain Picard was an hallucination. Second, you refuse to admit that the newest version of Battlestar Galactica was ever filmed. And Third, you watch Dark Shadows. You do not get to lecture us on pop culture." Scott crossed his arms. He just happened to be holding a particular calico kitten.
"This is gonna cost m'."
"Yep." Scott waved one of the kitten's paws at the thief. "But it's a simple transaction."
"Y' want m' t' do the shoppin', not Jubilee."
"I knew there was a brain in there."
"Hand her over." The kitten was soon snuggled in Remy's arms. "She going to have a name?" Scott bent over to get his face into the thief's line of sight. "Remy?"
"Hehn? Sorry, cher, kitten time."
"Oh, God, you're going to be useless until I get rid of the rest of these."
"Y' sell them t' Spike and y' never gonna get another piece of good intel!"
"We can't keep this many cats!"
"And y' ain't turnin' them over t' the loan sharks neither." The thief considered for a moment. "Actually, non, that is what we do."
"Turn them over to loan sharks? Demon loan sharks?" Jean closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. "Okay, so they really look like sharks. And tone down on the shields."
"Oui. We need underground currency and we ain't gonna get that too easy around here. We trade a few cats in here and there and get a reputation. Logan an' me. Or Jubilee and me. We get a feel f' the power structures out there."
Scott nodded. "Okay. We can look after them for a few days. But that's it. We let Willow and Tara take their pick and the rest go."
"D'Accord." Remy looked down at the basket. "Le Professor, he ever test Rogue's powers on real animals?"
"She wouldn't. She couldn't bear the idea that she'd hurt a puppy or a kitten."
"Who said t' give her the chance t' object?"
Scott's spine snapped straight. "There will be no Essexing on this team."
Remy blinked. He reviewed what he'd said. "Oh, heh. F'got y'all wouldn't react right t' that." He shrugged. "Pas de problem."
"She have a name?" Scott pointed to the kitten and raised his brows.
"Gonna call her Lizabetta."
"Should I be warning Warren of something when we get home?"
Logan snorted. Remy laughed. "Non. Non. After Buffy."
"In that case, should I warn your wife about something when we get home?" That got him a poke to the ribs from Jean. "What?"
"You are trouble today aren't you?" She rolled her eyes. "Fine. I'm going upstairs and make sure Jubilee actually goes to bed. Storm is showering. She found herself a garden center."
"A real paycheck?"
"Don't be silly, Slim. It's Storm."
"Cash on the barrel. Good girl." Scott's smile was broad. "Come on then, Gumbo. We need to set something up for the kittens."
"So, what do you have for me?" Scott leaned back and crossed his legs at the ankles. He sipped at the coffee Giles had provided. "And it better include plans to get a coffee pot."
Giles chuckled. "There's a pot hiding in the pantry. I don't let the children see it. Willow has a tendency to become hyper when she drinks it."
"Thank God. In that case, we need to pick up some supplies for Giles' kitchen. Or maybe for the Rosenburgs? Willow mentioned that we could use the house. Is it a defensible location?"
"As much as any house can be, but we'll ask Willow and Tara to lay in some wards. She still considers it a home, so the natural protections should still be in place."
"Very good. Rems, report?"
"I got a commission for Joyce's gallery. And it ain't going to be no trouble to keep us supplied. The police 'round here be laughable. Jubilee's already scopin' the mall. I'll get int' the city hall if'n we're here too much longer and talk t' someone about getting replacement ID's."
"Didn't find a source?"
"Oui. The mayor's office. Seems a little green means a pretty little ID. Even f' demons. Equal opportunity non?"
Giles shook his head. "I should have guessed, but we've never looked into it before. You don't need to move out, but if you must, then let Willow and myself accompany you and introduce you to her neighbors. They likely won't see anything, but they seem to think that I'm Willow's guardian when her parents are away."
"She's over eighteen." Scott frowned into his coffee.
"Very true, and if her neighbors were younger, that would occur to them. As it stands, we'll introduce you as friends of mine from university who are visiting for an extended period of time and acting as house-sitters for her parents."
"Fine. And the rest?"
"Y' want the neat and tidy written version I'm givin' Essex?"
"My verbal first."
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