Disclaimer: Oddly, Remy LeBeau, Jacob Gavin Jr, the New Son, Sekmeht Conoway and various other characters don't belong to me. They belong to Marvel Comics. I want Nicieza back! *sniffle* He does so much better with them than I do. Especially when he's working with Steve Scroce.

Original characters: There are however characters in there that *do* belong to me. Do not touch them without my permission. It would be very bad for your health. They are: Daynare, Valemont, Sandelle, Hassle, Alison, Southern (no relation whatsoever to Candy), Theodore, all the Luscious Laetitians and Miss Molly. They're not anywhere near the main characters however, so stop worrying. ;)

Thank you's: To Rose (and Crantz) and Mel who beta'd this thing (I really couldn't have done it without them). To the Corner people for letting me spam and complain at them. :) You guys are the best. To Kael for being Kael. To river because I'm sure there's something I should thank her for... :)

Feedback, archiving: I love feedback. I'd absolutely adore feedback on this. Kaylee can archive if she wants. :) And of course it'll be up on I Hate You

About the story: This is a sequel to 'Trip on Love' which turns AU after the Sunset Dawn trilogy. I can't write Remy's accent, so I've ditched it all together. You'll just have to imagine he's talking with an accent. :) No sex in this one either, but there are kisses.

Translations: Oui = yes \ Je comprende = I understand \ S'il tu plaît = please \ Mais je t'aime = But I love you

Discription: Jake and Remy are out looking for Daynare's necklace. Life interferes. Ororo and Remy talk. Things like that.




LOVE AND LIFE
by Sascha




”I really, really, really think this is a bad idea. I really do.”

”Uh-huh. Could you move a little to the left, please?”

Jake moved a little to the left. ”We’re going to get caught, you know that, right?”

”Uh-huh. Move the flashlight up a little. Yeah, that’s it.”

”I hope you’re not expecting me to flutter my eyelashes at the cops and ask them prettily to let us go, because I’m definitely not doing that.”

”Uh-huh. Hand me the tape.”

Jake dug down into the backpack and came up with a roll of ducttape. He handed it over to Remy. He was quiet for a few seconds. ”Bad, baaaad idea.”

”Uh-huh,” Remy sighed. ”I’d move out of the way now if I were you.”

Jake hurried to move out of the way. They were standing outside the house of a drug dealer named Michel Valemont, and trying to break into said house in the faint hope that they might find any clues as to the whereabouts of an old necklace. Jake had suggested that they knocked on the door like normal people and just asked Valemont if he knew where it was, but Remy had vetoed it instantly, staring at him as though he thought Jake was crazy.

Jake had then suggested that Remy could break the law all by himself, but Remy had vetoed that one too, claiming he wanted to keep an eye on Jake. Jake wasn't sure whether he should be insulted or flattered. At the moment he was leaning strongly towards insulted.

Remy did some weird thingamajig with his powers and the window cracked in to pieces being held up by the tape and various other things. He gently grabbed the pieces and put them in the backpack Jake held up for him. When he was done, he looked up at Jake, who was not crouched in front of the window, and said; "Wait here."

"No problem!"

"Kiss?" Remy stopped halfway through the window and looked puppy-dog eyed at Jake. Jake grinned and bent down.

Their lips met gently. Familiar, but not a habit yet. Definiatly something Jake thought worth repeating. Over and over again.

"No problem," he said again when he straightened back up. Remy gave him a grin and disappeared into the house. Jake looked after him for a moment, then turned his attention to the surrounding park.


Inside the house, Remy carefully and soundlessly walked over to the safe. Seemed like a nice place to start. He eyed the safe for a second. It was a bit obvious, wasn't it? Stuck in a bookshelf for all the world to see. He was willing to bet Valemont didn't keep anything important in it. He shrugged and decided to check it out anyway. One never knows.

He held his hand up against the lock and focused. His powers flared up and the lock blew, swinging the safe open. Remy grinned. Not bad. His father would probably have been horrified at this show of brute force, but at the moment Remy was having far too much fun trying to figure out what he could do with his powers on an all new high to care. Apparently he could still focus them on a small scale. Great. Could come in handy sometime.

He looked into the safe. Papers. Some small boxes. He picked up some of the papers and glanced at them.

'Real-estate...Real-estate...Contract...Oh pictures! Correction, blackmail. Bad drug dealer. Well, Hassle can deal, I suppose. More real-estate...Codes of some kind...'

He put them back in place, pondering on giving the feds an anonymous phone call. 'Nah.' He picked up a box and opened it. Earrings. Gold. Rubies. Worth quite a bit. He could get a lot... He gave a mental shake of his head and put the box back in the safe. He looked through the rest of the boxes. No necklace. 'Merde. Not that I'm surprised. But merde anyway.'

He spun around and looked at the room. Valemont's private office. He frowned at it. If Sandelle had nicked the necklace, it was probably because Valemont wanted it for reasons unknown to mankind. His eyes fell on the desk. He doubted Valemont had left the necklace on the desktop, but maybe he could find some clue to its whereabouts.

He wandered over to the desk. One thing he actually liked about Valemont was that he was certain the drug-dealer wasn't planning on taking over the world, or cancelling out mutant powers or some such. Made a nice difference from the people he normally came in contact with as an X-Man. Super villains were only exciting for so long. Then they got boring and repetitious.

Sinister, for instance, was sure to be involved in anything involving genetics. Sabretooth would probably be in the middle of bloody mayhem and Magneto was bound to get caught up in all and any mutant versus human issues. Boring. I came, I saw, I fought, I won... or lost. That's all, folks! Remy found the ordinary underworld to be a much more of a challenge than the 'Wanna rule the world' underworld.

The desk contained more papers. Looked like even drug-dealers get caught in the paper bureaucracy. He leafed through them out of curiosity. Bills. Bills. Bills. He paused. Hotel New Hampshire? Fredrick's of Hollywood? Now either there were parts of Valemont's private life he really didn't want to know about, or...

He started looking through the piles of paper with increasing interest. There was a slight possibility that Sandelle had kept the necklace to herself, and if that was the case he had better find out where she was. He paused at the sight of a Wolfe Jewelry receipt. He'd walked past Wolfe's yesterday. There had been a beautiful silver necklace inserted with sapphires on display in the window. He had been this close to walking inside and buy it. The only thing that had stopped him was the knowledge that Jake certainly wouldn't appreciate it.

Remy enjoyed showering his lovers with small gifts and surprises. The few people he'd been in a long term relationship with, anyway, like Belladonna and Rogue. Ororo too, although she was different. He liked seeing their faces light up. He liked making them happy.

If he ever bought Jake anything other than a pizza, odds where high he'd get a scorching verbal flaying as a thank you.

'I suppose I better keep to pizzas then,' Remy thought with a sigh and continued to look through the papers.


Outside Jake was getting impatient. He had seen neither head nor tail of a guard, which was a bit strange, and he was worried. And cold. He glanced up at the sky. And it would start raining soon. He just knew it. Any minute now the rain would start pouring down in buckets.

He shuddered and pulled the jacket tighter around himself. He hoped Remy was getting lucky in there. In the finding-necklace sense, not the finding-a-horny-woman-in-bed-sense. He frowned. He didn't think there were anybody in the house, but... Well, even if there were, there probably wasn't any horny women in there.

Of course, one look at Remy could induce that condition rather quickly. Jake grinned wryly at himself.

He thought he saw something moving by the gates, and squinted. Dark shadows. Definitely moving. Short. If that was a dog he was going to kill Remy. He froze and stood absolutely still, warily watching the shadow make its way towards him. Jake could see that it was some kind of animal, but he couldn't determined what kind.

'I need to get me some kind of weapon, I really do.'

The animal came closer, and Jake had to choke down the laughter that threatened to burst forth. It was cat! Rather large for a house cat, mind, but no danger to him. He crouched down.

"Hey, cat. What are you doing here? Do you live here?" he asked the cat conversationally, keeping his voice at a whisper.

The Siamese cat moved closer and stared at him with big blue eyes. "Mrrw."

Jake grinned. "Well, I'm standing guard while my boyfriend breaks into this house here, myself."

The cat stared at him, then sat down beside him and started licking its paw.

"I've never been around while someone broke in somewhere before, do you know that? It's actually kind of fun." Jake considered it. "More fun than most of the things Remy have dragged me along on, anyway. And certainly a lot more peaceful, seeing as no one has tried to kill me yet."

A stray wind caused the cat to look up, ears pointed. Jake followed its look. "What? Do you see something?"

"No. Or, I did, but..." Remy trailed off. "Who are you talking to?"

Jake, who'd given the cat a startled look when he'd heard a reply to his question, turned around and smiled. He might think that this was a bit more fun than say, meeting Sabretooth, but that didn't mean he didn't still think it was a horribly bad idea. He'd be very happy when he could go back to his couch and have awkward moments with Remy. He liked having awkward moments with Remy. They gave him a weird fluffy feeling.

Remy was climbing out of the window, giving him a quizzical look.

"The cat."

"Why are you...Never mind. I didn't find the necklace - "

" - Color me surprised -" Jake broke in.

"But I found some leads to Sandelle's current whereabouts," Remy continued, not missing a beat. "By the way, what do you think of shopping?"

Jake gave him a suspicious look, not liking this sudden change in topic. "Why?"

Remy grinned rakishly at him. "I found some bills from Fredrick's of--"

"NO! Absolutely not! Nu-huh!" Jake shook his head to emphasize it.

"Oh but -" Remy tried.

Jake glared. "No! I'm not going in there and... No. I refuse."

He handed Remy the backpack and they started walking towards the fence.

"Don't you want to look sexy for me, then?"

"Shut up!"

"You could find some nice bras...Wait, do you even wear bras?"

"Shut up! Shut up!"

"I think Frost shops there. I could ask her to --"

"SHUT UP!"

"You have no sense of humor."

"Do you want me to tell Sek you're secretly in love with her?"

"I'll be good," Remy promised meekly.

Jake snorted. "That'll be the day. But besides bills from the place which I am not ever going to set my foot, what did you find?

"I'll tell you later. Right now, we have to get over this fence."

Jake looked back at the house for a second. The cat still sat calmly licking its paw. There was something weird about that cat... He gave a mental shake of head and turned back to watch Remy vault over the fence.

The second they got into the car, it started raining.


Cora Sandelle, soldier of fortune, stared at herself in the mirror and smiled. The necklace looked great on her. Smartest thing she'd ever done, grabbing that in the turmoil. So what if Michel would be pissed at her? He'd get over it. He always did.

She spun around and admired herself. "You pretty little thing, you," she laughed at herself. "Now, what to wear... What to wear..."

Sandelle was an exceptionally beautiful woman and knew it. She was petite, slim, had some ...big advantages... in the chest area and grey doe-eyes surrounded by dark close-cropped hair. Her mouth was a chapter in and of itself. Full, red, and made for kissing.

Sandelle's main occupation was that of a free-lance thief, but she had a violent streak which sometimes lead her to roam the bars of Madripor, looking for someone to hurt.

Darling Michel had told her not to draw any attention to herself now, though, so pub crawling through Madripor was out of the question at the moment. Since Michel did pay her bills, Sandelle tended to listen to him. Sometimes.

She held up a black dress with silver linings, looking in the mirror considering the effect.

The door to her bedroom flew open with a bang and Michel's enraged voice echoed through the room. "CORA!"

She whirled around in surprise. "Michel, darling?"

"What have you done?!" Michel Valemont stood in the doorway, a thunderous expression on his face.

Sandelle's eyes widened. "Excuse me?"

"Two people broke into my house in Saint Angela yesterday!"

"I sympathize, I really do, but I don't see what that has to do --"

Valemont's face turned blue. "CORA!"

Sandelle looked affronted. "Why do you always assume I did something when people break in to your houses? I mean, you are a drug dealer, non? It could perfectly well be CIA or FBI or some other alphabet agency. Or maybe competition. I don't see why you must --"

Valemont stalked towards her. "Because," he hissed. "ninety per cent of the time it's because you did something you shouldn't have!"

Sandelle sniffed. "Well, I haven't done anything, so you can drop that attitude right now."

His eyes fell on her necklace and he froze. "Oh no. Don't tell me... CORA!"

Her hands moved up to the necklace, self-consciously tugging at it. "What?"

"You took Daynare's necklace?" Valemont gave Sandelle an incredulous look. "What were you thinking? 'Oooh. Niiiice. Shiiiiny!' ?"

Sandelle gave him her best puppy dog look.

"Stop it, Cora. Now," Valemont said icily. "Do you have any idea what you've done? Of course not. Thinking's never been your strong point." He started pacing in front of her bed. "We have to get rid of it. Plant a pointer towards someone other than me..."

Sandelle turned to look into the mirror, giving her necklace a regretful look. It appeared her beautiful new necklace would have to go to someone else. She sighed.

Valemont snapped his fingers. "I know. Hassle. You'll give it to him. Daynare will assume that you were hired by him, not me. Hopefully. And all will be well."

The look he gave her told her that all better be well, otherwise there would be hell to pay.


"...Jewelry bills, clothing bills, a confirmation for a plane ticket to Canberra and I found out where his next shipment of narcotics are coming in..." Remy sprawled down on Jake's couch, hands folded under his head as he looked over at Jake. "And that's pretty much it."

Jake frowned thoughtfully. "All right." He looked over at Remy. "You have a plan don't you? Oh god...Please tell me you *don't* have a plan. I hate your plans. I really do."

"Sorry," Remy grinned, not being the least bit sorry at all. "I have one, and it's really good too."

"Pshaw," said Jake. Remy just kept grinning until Jake succumbed. "Okay, okay, what is it and what law are we breaking this time?"

"Actually, I'm not sure there is one..." Remy said thoughtfully. "Hm. I have to work on that. Anyway, first you have to check in at the New Hampshire hotel."

"What? Why me? Why can't you check in there?"

"The X-Men," Remy said by way of explanation. "And besides, you're less conspicuous."

"Humph. At least tell me it's five star hotel...Which I know it can't be because I've never heard of it, but tell me that anyway." Jake buried his head in his hands. "I hate you, I really, really do."

"You know, if you didn't keep kissing me, I might believe you..."

"Shut up."

"But then I can't explain my brilliant scheme to you," Remy protested, moving one hand out from under his head to grab the beer on the table.

"Great," Jake said. He didn't seem to think that was a problem at all. To be honest, he considered it an advantage. Remy talking frequently meant big trouble. "And I have to work tomorrow."

"And daddy wouldn't give you your allowance if you're not punctual?" Remy grinned after chugging down most of the beer.

"Drop. Dead."

"You say the sweetest things..." Remy gulped down the rest of his beer, then got up on his feet in a smooth feline fashion. He bent down and planted a kiss on Jake's head. "I'll be by tomorrow 'round seven unless the Apocalypse comes. Again." He rolled his eyes. "I know this sounds weird coming from a guy who's spent most of his life being called Gambit, but honestly... What are some of those people thinking?"

Jake snickered and turned his head up. He grabbed Remy's hand and stopped his way to the door. "I want a real kiss."

Remy pulled him out of the chair and into standing position. "Happy to comply."

They kissed. Softly. Completely at odds with the harsh words they said to each other. Jake walked him to the door and kissed him again. He could get used to this. The phone rang as they pulled apart.

"You've a phonecall," Remy said, needlessly. "And I really have to go now. I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"

Jake grinned. "Like I'd let you forget you're buying me dinner."

"I never said anything about buying you dinner!" Remy objected and stepped into the hallway.

"See, you've forgotten all ready!" Jake laughed, closing the door. He walked over to the phone and answered it, still amused. "Yes? Jackie Gavin speaking."

"~Jackie? This is Shep. You've got to come down here. Now!~"

"Why? What's wrong?"

"~Laetitia's on fire!"~"

Jake nearly dropped the phone. "WHAT?!"


The Luscious Laetitia was being hosed down by a bunch of firemen by the time Jake arrived. He stopped the car and looked mournfully at the sight. Dad wasn't going to like this. He didn't like it much himself, to be honest. He sighed, steeled himself and got out of the car. He had to find Shep and hear how bad it was. Not that he wanted to hear it, exactly, but...

Luscious Laetitia looked like hell, but that could have something to do with all the firemen flocking around it. At least it was still standing. Jake winced as the right wall collapsed. Well, more or less...

He tried to ignore the disaster area that was Luscious Laetitia, and looked around for Shep. She had to be around here somewhere. He soon spotted her over by one of the fire-trucks, looking grim and talking to a fireman. He headed towards her.

"Shep, I'm here," he said upon reaching her. She turned, a look of relief briefly visible on her face before she looked grim again. The fireman nodded briskly at Jake then left to talk to one of his men. "How bad is it?"

"Not as bad as it looks, but bad enough," she informed him. "The right wing is entirely gone, which means that Chevalier is in hysterics. The library was saved, thank god. None of the guests were harmed, but Siam, Sai, Jemmy and Carr had to go the hospital because they got smoke in their lungs."

"And they are the only ones hurt?"

Hatshepsut Bonede nodded. "Yes."

"How long will it take to get the right wing up again?" Jake wanted to know, not really expecting her to have the answer. Shep shrugged. He sighed. "That's what I thought. Okay, has anybody contacted my dad yet?"

Shep started to shake her head, then turned it into a nod. "Mother is trying to contact him as we speak. She hadn't gotten a hold of him the last time I spoke with her."

Jake frowned. "I think he's in Switzerland at the moment. Tell her to try the European numbers. No, wait, I'll do it myself. Where is she?"

Shep pointed at the club across the street. "Miss Molly let mother, Callahan and some of the others set up a temporary office in the backroom."

"Okay, I'll remember to thank her. Where's Tony? And Chevalier?" Jake added, sighing as he realised he had to go comfort the chef. Daddy would kill him if Chevalier quit because of this.

"Tony went with Callahan to the hospital, and Chevalier is over there by the black van, wailing and saying something about suing someone. The city perhaps, I'm not sure." Shep looked thoughtful for a second. "Anyway, Makeda is comforting him."

Jake briefly thanked the gods for small mercies. "Okay, I'm going to be over by Miss Molly's if you need me."

Shep nodded, gave Jake a weak smile and headed towards the fireman again. Jake threw another mournful look at the right wing before walking across the street and into Miss Molly's. The place was as usual crowded with drag queens, their boyfriends (or in some few cases, girlfriends), costumers and undercover cops meeting their informers.

He made eye contact with Miss Molly herself and nodded in query at the back door. She nodded back and gave him a sympathetic smile. Jake nodded a 'thank you' to her.

The backroom bore an uncanny resemblance to a FBI tapping control room, Jake thought, once again thanking the gods for small mercies. The communication gear would've been somewhat difficult to replace. Not impossible, but it would certainly have been a bother. If there was one thing he didn't need right now, it was more things to worry about.

He looked around the room, soon spotting Sheba Bonede, who was talking into a headset and scribbling down orders at the same time. Jake walked around a printer table, paused to let a frazzled technician rush towards the fax and was standing behind the woman who had run Luscious Laetitia for as long as he could remember. At sixty-eight, Sheba was a formidable woman, and it was easy to see where from Shep got her beauty.

"Have you tried Switzerland yet?" He leaned over her shoulder to study the map on the monitor in front of her. Sheba gave him a quick look, talked into the headset for a few seconds, then terminated the call.

"No. Should I?"

Jake nodded. "Yeah. Dad said something about a meeting in Bern the last time I spoke with him."

"Dial: Bern," Sheba said into her headset. She turned her head to look at him, while waiting for a confirmation from Europe. "So how bad is it?"

"Shep said better than it looks, but still bad. Didn't have a time estimate," Jake rattled off, frowning. "Four are at the hospital, Callahan and Tony went with them, but you probably know that already. Chevalier is being taken care of... You know, I could come up with lots of things I'd want to do at 4:30 in the morning, none of them is this."

"C'est la vie," Sheba sighed and returned to her call. "What? Yes, this is Sheba Bonede. Is Jacob there?"

Jake tuned her out, leaned against a nearby monitor and tried to think. The New Son had requested a meeting at eight o'clock, which meant he had to be in front of the computer at exactly that. Remy had come up with a new, insane plan which involved him moving into a hotel. Luscious Laetitia's right wing had collapsed. Yes, this was going to be a wonderful day...

He banged his head lightly against the monitor. Why me?


Jake gave him that particular look of mischief that always made Remy's heart tighten, a sweet ache. He lay there and -

"Remy?"

Remy's head jerked up from the table and he blinked in confusion at the sound of his name. What was Ororo doing at Jake's apartment? He didn't think she'd even -- He woke up from his daydreaming and gave Ororo a sheepish grin he tried in vain to make rakishly charming. "Oui?"

"I've said your name three times now. Where were you?" She looked amused at him.

"I was... eh... Thinking."

She nodded. "Of course. About what?"

"My boyfriend, who's actually technically my girlfriend," Remy wanted to say, simply for shock value. He figured Jake would kill him when he found out though, so instead he just smiled secretly at Ororo.

She sat down in the chair across him and looked at him. Remy gave her a wary look. This didn't bode well. She folded her hands in her lap and smiled brightly. Remy nodded to himself. Oh yes. He was doomed.

"Remy, my friend," Ororo said.

I'm dead, he thought.

"I care about you, you know that." She gave him a mild inquisitive look which he nodded in reply to. "Because of that, I'm always interested in your life and what's going on with you. Now, lately I've noticed... You've been distracted a lot. Naturally, I would very much like to know why."

He smiled at her.

She looked back solemnly. "It wouldn't happen to have anything to do with someone called Jake, would it?"

His jaw dropped. How could she...?

Ororo smiled slightly. "Ah. It does."

"Yeah... That is... How the hell do you know that?" Remy stared at her.

Ororo looked sagelike. "I have my ways."

"You eavesdropped while I was on the phone," Remy realized.

She shrugged. "Well, yes. Purely by accident, I assure you. It's a good thing I did though, because otherwise I'm sure I would never have discovered that you have a girlfriend."

"...Not exactly," Remy said, wondering how much he could tell her. Or more importantly, would tell her.

She nodded, not even looking the least bit surprised. Remy made a mental note to call her Stormy at the first possible opportunity. She became intolerable if he let her do the 'know all, see all' act for long. "I thought so. Jake isn't a she, am I right?"

Remy nodded.

"And you're dating him?"

Remy nodded again. Maybe he could get Ororo to tell the rest about Jake...? Nah. Tempting, but, nah. They would have to find out on their own. Of course, Jean and Cable probably knew already and didn't care. Remy knew that because of his bio-kinetic powers, it was almost impossible to read his mind, but he also had a suspicion that he might have been projecting lately.

"When will I meet him and why haven't you told me?" Ororo did not look happy. "Am I not your friend? Do you not trust me?"

"Of course I do!" As much as he trusted anyone. "It's just that it's pretty recent and I don't know if he'd want you to know." He paused. "I would've told you sooner or later, you know that."

"I would rather that have been sooner than later," Ororo said. "I am not terribly fond of finding out such things by accident." "You were eavesdropping," Remy pointed out. "It was hardly 'by accident'." He sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "Oui. Je comprende. I'll talk to him, okay? See if you can come to dinner or something at his place. Good enough for you?"

Ororo beamed at him. "It sounds wonderful! Now...Tell me everything. From the beginning."

She could be such a girl sometimes, Remy thought fondly.


To say that Greg Hassle was surprised to see Cora Sandelle when he opened the door would be putting it mildly. The retired millionaire stared. Valemont's henchwoman? Here? Why? He said as much out loud. "Sandelle? What are you doing here?"

Sandelle smiled up at him and presented a black jewelry box to him. "I'm here to give you a necklace. Compliments of m'sieu Michel Valemont."

Hassle gave the box a suspicious look. "And the catch?"

Sandelle blinked innocently. "Catch?"

Hassle looked at her. "I am not stupid. Valemont is not stupid. *You* are not stupid. Now that we've established those facts, why is he giving me a necklace?"

"M'sieu Edward Daynare might be looking for it," Sandelle said sweetly, looking up at him with wide innocent eyes.

"Of course."

Sandelle handed him the box and winked at him. "Take good care of it."

Hassle simply took the box and closed the door in front of her. He had to get those pictures back from Valemont somehow. This was getting annoying.


"Stormy wants to meet you."

"Life sucks," said Jake.

Remy frowned at him and picked up a kiwi from a bowl on the table. Breakfast at Jake's. Who would have guessed that meant an orgy in fruit? "Because she wants to meet you?"

"No, not really. I wouldn't mind meeting her. She sounds like a nice lady on the phone." Jake looked down at collection of fruits on his plate. He really did like pineapple. He spit a piece on his fork. "I was thinking more of the fact that Laetitia needs rebuilding."

Remy sat up straight. "What?"

"Was a fire," Jake waves his hands in a way that was supposed to tell Remy exactly how big the fire had been. He resembled a fisherman telling the story about The One That Got Away. The piece of pineapple on his fork flew off and landed in a flower pot standing near by. Jake didn't notice. "The right wing burned down."

"Damn," Remy sympathized.

"Exactly."

"So what happened?"

Jake shrugged and moved the fork up to his mouth. He looked puzzled when all he got was cold steel, then shrugged again and got a new piece. "Don't know yet. The firefighters and the cops are still looking at it. Probably just a flaw in the electrical system according to Captain Caymer."

"Do you think he's right?"

"Well, I don't know, now do I? I do know that you have to be pretty dumb in order to set fire to Laetitia though."

"A pyro wouldn't necessarily care about that, or even know what kind of place Laetitia is," Remy pointed out. Jake gave him a considering look. Remy blinked at him. "What?" Jake looked at him. "...I'm not a pyro!"

Jake tilted his head. "You do set things on fire..."

"I do not! I just charge things."

"Uh-huh."

"Bitch."

"Pyromaniac."

"You say the sweetest things."

"I practice in front of mirrors to make sure I'll be able to impress you," Jake deadpanned.

Remy snickered. "I'm sure you do. And besides, I don't have a reason to set Laetitia on fire."

"Remember what you said about pyros a second ago?"

"Oh shut up."

Jake grinned triumphantly at that. The Courier - 1, the Thief - 0. He looked at the table and noted to his disappointment that they were all out of pineapple. He wondered whether or not to leave the dishes until later. He glanced over at Remy and decided to leave them until after Remy had left. "You done?"

Remy nodded, pushed his plate out of the way and placed his elbows on the table. "Uh-huh. Jake, about the hotel-idea..."

"I was hoping you'd forgotten about that."

"Me? Forget such a brilliant idea? Not on your life!"

"I was afraid you'd say that. And this better not be on my life. I like living, thank you very much. I don't like living like this, admittingly, but..." Jake shrugged and grinned.

"Believe me, Jake, I'd never put you in any kind of danger I wasn't absolutely sure you'd have no problems getting out of," Remy said seriously, meeting his look. "You mean far too much to me for me even consider that. If there's something I really don't want, it's to lose you. I don't care what Daynare threatens with, his necklace simply isn't that important."


Jake stared at him, seemingly completely speechless. A dark red blush was slowly creeping up his neck. The silence stretched on, and Remy started shifting uncomfortably in his chair.

"Jake? Say something? S'il tu plaît?"

"I'm not some fragile little flower you have to protect, you know," Jake said finally. "I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself. Nothing that's happened has changed that."

Remy started. "That wasn't what I --"

"I know," Jake interrupted. "I know what you meant and it's horribly sweet of you." He leaned over the table and clasped Remy's hand in his. "I really don't think you get me, however."

"You don't exactly share your innermost feelings with me," Remy pointed out. "And, quite frankly, I gave up trying to figure you out sometime in the Andes."

Jake rolled his eyes and sighed. "Remy, if you're not going to be serious..."

"I'm sorry, but it's true. I really have no idea why you do the things you do."

"If the things I do have anything to do with you, you can probably chalk it up to me being madly in love," Jake commented. He let go of Remy's hand and got up of his chair.

Remy blinked then narrowed his eyes at him. "You know, I get the feeling that wasn't as much of a compliment as it sounds like."

Jake stopped, met Remy's eyes and held them. "It was, and it wasn't. This is seriously weird, you know. This whole situation. Me and you. Me like this. It's like the world's been slightly warped or something."

"I know what you mean," Remy nodded.

"And it's scary." Jake gestured helplessly with his arms.

"Yeah, it is." Remy frowned at him. This was worrying. Jake was sounding and looking decidedly unhappy. Remy didn't like that one bit. "Jake, are you trying to tell me you want to end this?"

Jake's eyes widened and he looked genuinely shocked. "No!" He shook his head firmly. "Absolutely not."

"Then what?"

"I..." He laughed suddenly. "I don't know. That's the thing. I just... don't know. I'm along for the ride and everything, but I have no idea where this is going to end."

They looked at each other in silence. Remy stared at Jake, trying to figure out what he was thinking, what kind of response he was looking for in Remy. Anything to stop the silence. He had fallen in love with Jake. Nothing he'd expected, certainly. But now that it had happened, and he'd realized it himself, he didn't want to lose it. He'd already lost two loves. He very much didn't want Jake to be the third.

Sure, it wasn't easy. Looking at Jake and seeing a beautiful, stunning woman, and knowing that said woman was a man, who would very much like to be one again.

Jake had kissed him. And told him he loved him.

How could he resist that? Someone had told him they loved him. Not because Remy had poured on charm and asked to be loved. But because... Because... Well, Remy didn't really know why, to be honest.

Jake's voice echoed suddenly through his head, making Remy start, for a moment believing he'd spoken out loud. Jake's face told him that it was definitely memorex.

'It's because you're determined and loyal and honourable and funny and... And lots of things. 'Cause you're you, I guess.' A wry grin. 'And 'sides you're really good lookin'.'

"Jake?" Remy got up of his chair and walked over to Jake. Jake turned around, meeting his eyes hesitantly.

"What?"

"Do you love me?"

"Of course." A mildly puzzled look in his direction.

"Can you tell me? Can you say it? Please?"

The puzzled look turned fond. And amused. "Remy... Je t'aime. I love you. Don't ever think I don't. I just freak sometimes. Don't pay too much attention to me. I think it's hormonal or something."

"Well, it's kind of hard not to..."

"Yeah, I know." Jake sighed wearily, rubbing his forehead.

Remy moved his hand up to touch Jake's face. "Mais je t'aime, Jake. I'm not going to leave you just because you freak sometimes. I do that as well." He shrugged and tapped Jake's nose with his finger. "We can make this work."

Jake lost the gloomy expression and smiled. "Of course we can. We're a match made in heaven, don't you know that?"

"I wouldn't say heaven, exactly..."

Jake gave him a mock-glare.

"On the other hand, 'match made in heaven' sounds about right," Remy grinned.

Jake laughed.


"Alison?"

Rij Alison held the phone to his ear and frowned at his desktop. The pile of paper on it threatened to fall off. He really shouldn't have taken that vacation. Or maybe he should have delegated some of this stuff over to his assistants. "Yeah, is me. Is that you, Hassle?"

"Yes. I need a favor."

"You know how much I hate opening a conversation with those words?"

"Yes."

"And still...?"

"Yes."

Alison detected something in Hassle's voice that made him suspect that this was not the business proposition Hassle had threatened to give him. No, this was something else. He wasn't sure what, but it sounded like it was getting Hassle pretty worked up. He frowned deeply. "Greg, what's wrong?"

"Nothing important, I just need you to do something for me."

Alison looked at the painting on the wall infront of him as he thought it over. He generally didn't do favors. Not good for business, and definitely not good for you personal life. People tended to consider you a push-over if you said yes one time too many, and that meant they didn't respect you. Alison liked getting respected.

On the other hand, he quite liked Hassle, and his first impulse had been to correct whatever was wrong. Maybe for once it wouldn't hurt to go with his first thought.

Alison grinned wryly. That would in so case be the first time that happened. But then, it seemed like a lot of first times happened with Hassle. He closed his eyes and smiled the smile that made anybody who saw it involuntarily smile back. "What do you want me to do?"

"There's a necklace I need you to get delivered to a Jacqueline Gavin. Preferably in a way that won't tie it to me or you."

His eyes widened. "You're using me to woo a woman?"

"No! For heaven's sake, Rij!" Hm. Use of first name. This had to be serious.

"All right, I'm sorry. May I ask why then?"

"No."

"Do you have any idea how much I hate that word?"

"Yes. Will you do it?"

"Of course. Send the necklace over to my office and I'll take care of it right away."

I'm such a pushover, Alison thought when he hung up. At least when it comes to him. Oh well. As long as it doesn't become a habit...


It wasn't that Jake didn't want to have sex with Remy. Heavens no! Just... Not like this. Not while he was still a woman. He could 'shift of course, but he wasn't sure what Remy would think about that. Or even if he would be able to hold the form for long.

Jake opened his eyes and stared into the darkness of his bedroom. He'd been up since 6 am yesterday. He needed some sleep before the Big Meeting With Boyfriend's Best Friend. He sighed. "I want my life back. No. Scratch that. I want my body back."

He waited.

Nope, no miracle this time either. Damn.

He closed his eyes and snuggled into the pillow. Sleep. Sleeeeeeep, he mentally chanted. The New Son wanted to see him in person tomorrow (and he'd actually told him beforehand! Oh shock! Oh horror!). His father was coming home. Remy wanted him to move into a hotel. Remy... Remy smiling. Remy looking at him with that weird look in his eyes that turned his inside into mush. Remy patting him distractedly on the hand while looking at the blueprints for Valemont's villa. Remy telling him he loved him.

Jake smiled in to the pillow. The current situation was the weirdest one he had experienced, but it was the reason he had 'found' Remy, so Jake did no longer hate it as much as he used to.

It was actually kind of fun, occasionally. He did wish that men would stop staring at his cleavage all the time though. Might help if he stopped wearing those low cut jackets, but he really liked those jackets.

He shifted position. He was hovering on the weird 'almost asleep but not' state of mind when the phone rang. Jake mentally cursed in as many languages as he could remember, then decided that he was not going to get up to get that one. No way. He was this close to falling asleep, and there was no way he was going to get up for something his answering machine could do.

The phone rang insistently.

Jake happily ignored it.

After a few more insistent - and annoying - rings, the machine picked it up. Jake heard his own voice: "Leave your name, number and reason for calling and I might get back to you. If this is a job call, I _do_ have an office, you know."

Funny how Remy always seemed to forget that last part...

"~Hi, Jackie. This is Tony. Just wanted to let you know that Sai, Siam and Carr are just fine and already up and about again. They're keeping Jemmy for observation, but they say he'll be fine as well. There's no report from the fire department or the police yet and we've no idea when we'll get one. That's it I think... Okay, yeah, that's all. Bye!~" Beeeeeep.


Cathie Southern was in the middle of getting her daily massage, when her phone rang. She sighed deeply then waved her hand at Rosita to tell her to hand her the phone. Rosita did and Southern said, "Yes? This is Catherine Southern. To whom am I speaking?"

"Hello, Cathie. This is Rij. Rij Alison."

"Well, hello, Rij. Is there anything I can do for you?"

"As a matter of fact, there is. I'd like to borrow Theodore for an hour or so today. Would that be possible you think?"

Rij Alison owing her favor versus being without Theodore for an hour... "Naturally. Why?"

Rij gave her the polite version of 'none of your goddamn business' and hung up. Southern put the phone down with a shrug. If he wanted to be mysterious, then she certainly wasn't going to say anything. He would still owe her one.

Southern smiled.


Remy had no problems admitting to himself that he was nervous. Ororo was coming to Jake's place for dinner. Jake and Ororo was going to meet for the first time. What if they didn't like each other? What if the dinner was a complete and total disaster? What if... What if...

Jake didn't appear to be worried at all. He was sprawled lazily on the couch, flipping through a book. Not giving Remy even one look. He had dressed up though - white shirt that actually fit and wasn't a business styled one and black pants. Remy had offered to tie his hair up, but the look he'd gotten for that offer had quickly made him back off. Jake did NOT like having his hair in a ponytail or a braid. He was weird like that.

"Remy. Stop pacing."

"I'm not pacing."

Jake looked up from the book. "Uh-huh."

The door bell rang and saved Remy from lying again. He exchanged a look with Jake, then gestured for Jake to go open the door. Jake got on his feet. Before opening the door, he threw a look in the mirror and smoothed down his hair. Remy looked on in surprise. Jake? Self-conscious? While in female form? The X-Men would be beeping him soon. The world HAD to be ending.

Jake opened the door. "Yes? Can I help you?" Pause as whoever was outside the door said something. "A package?" More muffled noises.

Remy sat down on the couch and started to shuffle a deck of cards, having decided that the person outside the door was not Ororo. He wished she'd hurry up and get here already.

Jake closed the door and walked back into the livingroom. He was carrying a small packet in his hand. He placed it on the table infront of Remy and proceeded to stare at it with a puzzled expression on his face.

Remy looked at him, then at the packet. "Who was that? And what is that?"

"I have no idea."

"Who's it from then?"

"Again, I have no idea."

"Maybe you should open it?" Remy suggested.

"Uh-huh." Jake didn't move.

"What is it?"

"I have this weird feeling..." Jake frowned.

Remy poked the packet. "Why weird feeling?"

"I don't know."

Remy rolled his eyes heavenward. "Want me to open it for you?"

Jake handed him the packet. Remy tore of the wrapping and opened the box. He blinked and stared at the contents.

"What the hell...?"

Jake walked over to Remy so he could see what the box contained. He ended up staring as well. "Isn't that...?"

"Yeah, I think it is."

"Does this mean I don't have to check in at that hotel?"

"Looks like it."

"Great!"

Remy grinned at the obvious relief in Jake's voice. "You really didn't want to go there, did you?"

"No," Jake grinned back. "Hey, you got Daynare's card? I could call him and tell him we've got his necklace right away. One thing off of the 'to-do' list."

"In my jacket. Right pocket, I think."

"Got'cha."

Five minutes later, Jake had agreed to meet Daynare at the Early Dawn Auction House to deliver the necklace and Remy was in the process negotiating the 'finders fee'. Jake watched him and shook his head as the negotiation turned somewhat heated.

"No, I do not find that acceptable!" Remy growled at Daynare. He listened to the reply and rolled his eyes. "Yah, that would sound reasonable... if I'd been a two bit thief!"

Daynare declined a reply to that one.

Remy glared at the phone and heard Jake snicker in the background.


Ororo Munroe came not long after Remy had finished off his ...conversation... with Daynare. Jake had read enough files and seen enough photos to at least have some idea what to expect. What he hadn't expected was the obvious affection Remy and her had for each other. He was half tempted to be jealous. He probably would have been if Remy hadn't already told him that he thought of Ororo as a sister, and their behavior hadn't backed that up.

Jake smiled at the X-Man and did his best to bite his tongue at the most acidic comments that came to his mind. He, pathetically enough, wanted her to like him. "Remy claimed you liked moussaka?"

Ororo followed his look towards the table and lit up. "You have moussaka?"

"Yah," Remy nodded and grinned teasingly. "Jake has been slaving over the stove all day, trying to get it perfect."

He couldn't help but snicker at that blatant lie. "Nice of you to say that, but actually, it's from a Greek resturant over at fifth that delivers."

"I think I find that reassuring," Ororo laughed. "No offence intended, Jake."

"Absolutely none taken."

"Shall we...?"

Ororo nodded and they all sat down around the table.

Sometime later Ororo put down her fork and gave Jake a superior look. "I have embarrassing anecdotes about Remy."

Jake looked admiringly back at her. He found himself liking the Ex-African goddess. She could make Remy blush. Jake hadn't known that was even possible. And she had this weird dry sense of humor Jake found amusing. She could deliver the most ludicrous lines with a straight face. I'm not playing poker with her, that's for sure, Jake thought.

"Want to hear them?"

"No!" Remy shook his head frantically. "No, he doesn't."

"Of course I do!"

Ororo and Jake grinned at Remy, who looked just about ready to start banging his head against the table, muttering about 'What in the world was I thinking?'

"I like your boyfriend," said Ororo, her eyes glinting of laughter.

Jake looked curiously at her. "You really have no problems with me being... Well, you know...?"

"I'm an X-Man," Ororo said dryly. "I've experienced much, much stranger things than this."

"Trust her on that," Remy nodded.

"Oh I do! I've read some of the files on you people. I think it's one of those cases where reality far outstrips the imagination..."

Remy and Ororo laughed.

"No, I mean it. The Summers' family tree... The Phoenix... The St. Croix family... Should I go on?"

The End!


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