Disclaimer: Gambit, Jean-Luc LeBeau
and all other Marvel characters belong to Marvel. Just to
note, the incarnation of the wife and family of Henri LeBeau
which appears here is mine, though. I am profiting in no way
from this story.
A Time for Homecoming
For most of his life, 'home' had been a word that held only
conceptual meaning for Remy LeBeau. With the exception of
his years with the Guild and the X-Men, his had been a vagabond's
existence, knowing only safehouses, bolt-holes and hideouts,
but never a home.
When Jean-Luc had adopted him, home had become a well-fortified
antebellum estate -- and had so remained for almost ten years.
Now, home was a mansion in Westchester -- and it was there
that he was headed at nearly two in the morning. His teammates
would hardly have considered his late return to be unusual,
were it not for the fact that he was coming home from church,
and not a nightclub. Although he had strayed from the faith,
he had been raised a good Catholic -- or at least as good
a Catholic as could be found in the New Orleans Guild of Thieves
-- and it was now Christmas morning.
Traditionally, this season was a time for family, for homecomings,
but that hardly applied to an outcast like himself. He had
known but two families in his life -- the Guild, and the X-Men
-- and he was estranged from them both.
Since his return with Ororo and Kitty last year, his old
teammates had slowly warmed up to him again, even making friendly
overtures -- and the new ones were willing to accept him despite
his past -- but he couldn't find it within himself to risk
lowering his defenses just yet. There was still too much unresolved
anger and guilt on his part and theirs, but at least they
-- and he -- were trying to move on, and were making progress,
But the situation with his Guild and Clan remained unchanged
-- and always would.
The pain he felt at that thought was no less sharp for its
familiarity. At the time of his excommunication and exile
at age seventeen, the pain had been largely tempered with
anger and outrage. That he should be outcast for doing nothing
more than defending himself and his honour -- for doing what
any of his adoptive family would have expected him
to do -- the injustice of it had burned on his tongue like
poison. His rage at the sentence had taken up residence in
his soul -- and been directly responsible for some of the
worst judgements he had ever made in his life.
Remy had been a boy then -- in the years since, he had gotten
over his anger and come to terms with his father's decision.
Jean-Luc LeBeau had been forced to choose between forfeiting
either the peace between the Guilds or the life of his son.
He had managed to preserve both, but only at the cost of making
Remy an outcast -- and Jean-Luc had known full well what that
would do to his foundling child.
As Guildmaster, Jean-Luc was honour-bound to see to the welfare
of his Guild's membership before all else -- and Jean-Luc
had always been a scrupulously honourable man.
Remy had always known that -- just as he had always known
deep within himself that if the situation had been reversed,
he would have done the same.
At the time of his banishment, however, all Remy could see
was that the one person that he had trusted completely --
that he had looked up to, that had promised him that
he would always have a home -- was renouncing him forever.
Though his anger had faded over the years, his sense of betrayal
never had. And it was his fear of being so wounded again that
had determined how he had chosen to live his life from then
Once again, he had adopted the transient lifestyle of his
childhood days with Fagan's mob -- except instead of flophouses
and squats, he lived in apartments and hotels. As for relationships,
romantic and otherwise, they too were transitory. He was careful
never to allow himself to care too much for anyone, lest they
hurt him again. With no ties to people or places, home was
wherever he happened to be.
That had gradually changed after he had fallen in with the
X-Men -- but even so, the mansion had never taken the place
of his boyhood home in his heart. And as much as he loved
Rogue and Ororo, as much as he cared about the teammates who
had become his second family, they could not replace the first
one which he had lost.
He remembered his late brother Henri, who had immediately
and unquestioningly taken a suspicious street kid under his
wing, and given a scared, lonely boy a sense of belonging.
Henri, who had always referred to Remy as 'my little brother'
and never 'my adopted brother' -- Henri had always
made him feel like he was a LeBeau by birth, and not by happenstance.
Some nights, Remy still woke gasping, feeling the hot, sticky-slippery
wetness of his brother's blood running between his fingers...
He hadn't even been allowed to attend the funeral.
When Henri had died, he had left behind a wife and three
children, whom Remy had never seen. His sister-in-law still
sent letters, letting him know how they were doing -- especially
the youngest, a boy who bore his uncle's name -- but it wasn't
Then there was his cousin Lapin, who had been his partner
in crime in virtually every childhood escapade he had ever
had -- including the time they had stolen (and crashed) a
fighter jet from a touring military air show. Their cousin
Étienne Marceaux, two years their junior, had been
in on the pinch, but had wisely chosen to remain on the ground.
Et had gleefully used his knowledge to blackmail his elder
cousins mercilessly for weeks, to the point where Remy and
Lapin were actually relieved when Jean-Luc had discovered
what they had done -- at least until their punishment was
His father had decided the three of them obviously needed
an outlet for all that youthful energy -- and had run them
ragged in dawn to dusk training sessions for a full month.
His father ... who had only recently admitted that his influence
on Remy's life had started years before the day he had tried
to pick Jean-Luc's pocket...
It was one thing to feel as if you were being used as a pawn
-- it was quite another to have it confirmed that a pawn was
what you had been for your entire life. And knowing that,
Remy couldn't help but wonder what his father hadn't
told him. Could it have been Jean-Luc himself who had stolen
Remy in his infancy for the Antiquary's collection? Had his
father known all along who his blood family was, and never
Remy wanted more answers as much as he feared them.
He had seen his father's tear as Jean-Luc had told him of
their first meeting almost a century before -- but the chasm
between them had widened with every word his father spoke.
Remy had always hoped that he and his father would reconcile,
but that hope had died with this fresh betrayal. During Mass
however, he had seen something which had caused it to rekindle...
He had spotted Rogue standing in one of the transept pews,
hand-in-hand with another woman -- Mystique. The metamorph
had made no serious attempt to disguise her appearance, settling
for a normal flesh tone for her skin and green eyes to match
her daughter's. Rogue's relationship with her mother was almost
as strained as his own with Jean-Luc -- yet they had managed
to bridge the gap between them this Christmas...
It gave him hope that one day, he and the father of his heart
would be able to do the same.
So when intentions were offered during the service, he prayed
for his father, and for himself -- for reconciliation.
It was gently snowing as he made his way to where he had
parked -- distracted with his thoughts, he never noticed the
shadowy figure who followed from a safe distance.
It was nearly half past two on Christmas morning when Remy
finally made it up to his room. Shrugging off his clothes,
he neatly placed them on his valet before climbing into bed
and promptly falling asleep.
It was just over an hour later when he awakened to the sensation
of being watched.
Keeping his eyes closed, he fidgeted slightly, then rolled
over with a quiet sigh. To all appearances he was sprawled
out sound asleep, but his movement neatly hid the moment he
palmed the throwing spikes he kept hidden within easy reach,
and his other hand was on his blankets, ready to use them
to blind and bind.
"Très bien, Remy, but I hope dat won' be necessary."
Remy's eyes opened wide in shock as he recognized the voice,
and he sat bolt upright.
"Oui -- Joyeux Noël, mon fils," Jean-Luc said quietly
as he turned on the bedside lamp, careful to put it on its
lowest setting so as not to hurt Remy's sensitive eyes with
the sudden brightness.
"Same t' you, Father -- an' don't misunderstand the question,
mais qu' est-ce que vous faites ici?" Remy asked warily.
"In New York -- business. In Westchester right now, seein'
you," Jean-Luc replied. "Y' said once dat there was too much
t' say between us, an' too little said so far -- but you didn't
want to talk then. Bien, I'm here t' talk now -- ça
"Why, Poppa -- why now?"
"Because it needs to be done, an' there ain't ever goin'
to be a good time or a better time to do it. Because whether
I look it or not, mon fils, I'm an old man, and I hate the
idea o' wastin' time when you don' know how much you got left.
They say dat once you save someone's life, that person belongs
t' you -- you saved me when I was a boy, son -- an' I did
the same for you. Mebbe we ain' blood, but you're mine, an'
I'm yours -- can't we try t' make it right between us?"
"Oui -- we c'n try," Remy said, inhaling deeply, "You wanted
to talk, Poppa -- so talk."
"Bien sûr -- what would you like t' hear?"
"I don't know if dere's ever been such a thing -- but I got
some stories. Ça suffit?"
Remy mustered a small smile.
"Oui, Poppa -- that'll do. It'll have to do..."1
The two of them spoke almost until dawn, the walls between
them slowly coming down as the night wore on. The healing
would take a long time -- but it had begun. Although they
couldn't be certain of what the future held, or if Remy would
ever be able to come home to New Orleans for Christmas --
this time he didn't have to.
This time, home had come to him.
1. I only noticed after working on another story which is
heavily influenced by a novel I read, and re-reading this
story, that this last scene is remarkably similar to a brief
one in that novel. This was unintentional, but I feel that
I must credit the novel and the novelist. The novel is Divine
Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells, which
is one of the best books I've read in years. I highly recommend
This story is a companion piece to A
Time for Family, though it isn't necessary to read it
to 'get' this one. Mind you, ATFF explains what Mystique was
doing in church :-)
The references to Remy's childhood are
all from the Gambit comic books (especially issues 1, 6 and
12), though I may have embellished them a bit as needed. Henri's
family is, so far as I know, my own invention -- but Étienne
Marceaux, Fagan's mob, and the Antiquary belong to Fabian
Nicienza and Marvel, not to me.
Special thanks to the long-suffering Faith
Barnett, for her beta-reading what turned out to be an entirely
different version of this story on extremely short notice.
Faith, I owe you big-time :-) Thanks also to the equally long-suffering
Kielle, who put up with a frantic last-minute re-write.
Oui -- Joyeux Noël, mon fils ................ Yes --
Merry Christmas, my son
mais qu' est-ce que vous faites ici ? ...... but what are
you doing here ? (polite form)
ça va ? ................................................
okay, is that all right
Bien sûr ...............................................
certainly, by all means
Ça suffit ? ............................................
does that suffice, is that good enough, will that do
"Be as hard as the world forces you to be --
and be as soft as the world allows you to be."
-- Sensei Chuck Merriman
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