Chapter 2: Regret
'A sense of shame is not a bad
- Colin Powell
The rain fell slowly in the cold mist. Of course, this was
Seattle. It was supposed to rain. And it hadn't disappointed
him. He'd been here for several days casing the place, and
it hadn't stopped. He'd be glad to finish this job tonight
and move on. Besides, the artifacts belonged back in the church
in San Miguel, and he intended to see them on their way as
soon as possible.
After leaving the Guild, getting out of the country seemed
for the best. He'd hopped over to Asia and Australia and started
plying his profession in ernest. Those were the lean times.
He was good, but he needed more experience to fully hone his
skills. So he practiced constantly having a number of close
calls at first, a few too many splattered with blood. Thankfully
not all of it his. Remy didn't like death, but it seemed to
find him. Especially as he found he preferred stealing from
other crooks. Somehow it fit his romantic sensibilities, not
to mention, it was usually more money and way more challenging.
Time passed and he put his old life behind him. He had a
string of lovers. Lovely charming ladies, most of whom he
still remembered fondly. And it was during this time that
he first ran into Yukio. They hit it off like fire and ice
- too much alike. And he knew she'd kill him if she got the
chance. Once he'd worn out his welcome in Asia, needing to
let things cool awhile, he headed for London. He was glad
for meeting Alexandra even if she had rejected him. It reassured
him that there were good people out there somewhere. He spent
too much time in the seedy under-belly of life. Then he moved
on to Europe and eventually Candra, only he didn't know that's
who she was then. She became infatuated with him after he
broke into the Louvre and moved all the artwork around just
to prove he could. He was infatuated with her wealth and power.
Ah, youth. It was fun for awhile. He had this thing for strong
independent women. But soon he realized how cruel, possessive,
and demanding she was. Seemed a vaguely familiar theme in
his love life. However, he didn't get his kicks by controlling
people, watching them suffer, and refused to do as she commanded.
Besides, nobody owned him. She wasn't happy when he disobeyed
her and then actually left. No one had ever done that before,
much less refused her anything. Given the chance, she'd love
to kill him too, only more slowly.
Africa beckoned, and later South America. But in time, barely
over two years after leaving, and nce more shadowed by too
much death for one so young, he longed for home.
Arriving in Key West, he was now in the beginning of his
twentieth year, and well on his way to eing one of the top
thieves in the world. Not to mention, rich. He always saved
a small cut of the take for himself, living well if not as
extravagantly as people would think, then giving the rest
away. A portion of his cut he invested. Stocks were like cards,
knowing when to hold, raise or fold. It didn't take long.
Soon he had all he could ever need, enough to take care of
and protect his own, continually reinvested and squirreled
away all over the world for his 'retirement'. Having nothing
most of your life made you appreciate what you had gained,
...and what others didn't have. The only time he'd ever really
took a whole pinch for himself was right before his wedding.
He'd recklessly 'acquired' a heroin dealer's merchandise and
the buyer's cash using an elaborate diversion. He'd planned
it for months. They never knew what happen and blamed each
other. And as far as he was concerned, they could take it
out on each other. He hated dealers. They preyed on innocents.
Besides, they owed him. For Maman. Taking the money and dumping
the heroin in the Big Muddy, he bought the house in the Garden
District. Being that Belle's family would have let the couple
live in the Assassin's huge mansion, his father thought that
a strange thing for a seventeen year old to buy, especially
his seventeen year old. Remy didn't understand. Still didn't.
He only wanted a home.
Master thief, rebel, lady killer, robin hood, ... Gambit.
He'd picked the thief name not long after leaving New Orleans.
For a brief moment, he felt comfortable with himself, never
happy, but comfortable. He was 'home' and doing what he did
best. If he was a bit lonely, well, he had always been that,
hadn't he? He moved up the coast and across the country. Even
stopping in New Orleans under the Assassin's noses to set
up a small base there. That and to pick up his annulment papers
finally. He'd asked Tante Mattie to secretly work it out with
Father Benjamin efore he left. Father Benny was born into
one of the thief clans, but renounced the Guild to join he
Church, though he came back. Ministering to the lost, he stated,
was more important than preaching to the choir. Remy admired
the old Father very much and knew that the priest understood
his situation. Remy realized if Belle, her family, or his
father found out, his life could be forfeit for the slight.
It was blatant disregard for the Guild's authority, even for
an exile. It was a lot to risk for a few pieces of paper,
but somehow having them made him feel better. One less sin
to atone for, he supposed. He still couldn't look Father Benjamin
in the eye.
He was continually on the move, living life recklessly. The
heists were thrilling, the times fun, the women willing. Still,
except during the exhilaration of the pinch, or a night of
passion, something was missing. Death still followed him even
if he willed it not to.
He sort of went in search of himself, and found Millstone,
a small town in the middle of nowhere, Arizona, Claire De
Luc, and an annoying shaman named Grey Crow who kept saying
he had a destiny. The only destiny Remy figured he had was
an early grave. But it was nice to put that behind him for
a moment. He stayed there as a chef, making Claire swear that
his destiny must be to kill them all with his cooking. He
couldn't help if she couldn't eat anything spicier than a
plain boiled egg. But excitement always seemed to catch up
with him soon enough, no matter where he was. It made him
restless again. Saying goodbye, losing more friends, he moved
It wasn't too many pinches later, around his twenty-first
birthday, that he learned about the theft from the Church
and decided turn about was fair play.
It went off without a hitch. He'd driven to a postal drop
in a seamer side of town and sent his anonymous package on
it's way when he heard the woman screaming. Thinking he shouldn't
get involved, he left his bike and swiftly eased through the
dark alleyways coming upon a scene of a large burly man and
a tall skinny woman yelling and struggling. Both had seen
better days, especially her.
"Bitch! Ya can't leave me! Y' belong ta me!" The
man slapped her hard, and she nearly fell. Would have if the
man hadn't held her up. Remy's jaw clenched tight. "Wha'ssss
his name, whore?! Who ya leavin me for?! Ya think, ... ya
think I'm gonna let you cuckold me?!. Y' mistaken woman.!"
"Nobody... there's nobody! Please, please Jimmy, don't
hurt me! I won't run away again! I jus don' want ya hitting
me no more! Please, Jimmy."
"If'n ya've spread ya self for someone else, I'll fix
ya good. No woman o' mine gonna act like a slut!"
Remy could smell the liquor. The memories were almost too
vivid to distinguish from the scene in front of him. Maman
and her pimp, Andre, usually fighting over her burdensome
Stupid bitch. She shouldn't have let some old guy knock
her up in her youth. She'd best be more careful now. He wasn't
gonna take care of another of her droppings. Especially not
another one like dis one.
Remy wanted to retch.
"Hey, mon ami." Remy stepped out of the shadows
near an old theater. "Dat's no way ta treat a lady."
"Whaaa..?" The man spun awkwardly on him. "This
him?!" the man yelled drunkenly. "This here pretty
boy's ya new lover ain't he, whore?!"
"No Jimmy, no! I don't know him!...Please mister, please
help me!! He's gonna kill me!!" She struggled in the
"Why don' ya be savin ya self a world o'hurt, mon ami
an leave de way ya came." Lowering his shades to expose
his glowing red eyes, Remy flicked his other wrist to produce
a sizzling energy charged card.
"Son of a bitch." The man, Jimmy, gasped. "Yo'are,...
yo'are a mutie ..." Then anger returned to his face.
"A goddamn mutie. You lowered ya self ta fuck a dirty
Throwing the lady down, Jimmy suddenly let out a growl and
charged at Remy. His mistake. Remy never even used the card.
He'd hoped to scare him off with it, but the man was too drunk
to have any sense. Two well placed blows put the guy down
less than gently. Unfortunately he started yelling. And this
was his town, and his drunken bigoted friends.
Remy agilely turned to watch the two guys come running out
of the late night bar where the two buddies had been waiting
after helping Jimmy track down his bitch, who'd been hiding
out as a barmaid. He didn't need them to finish 'talking'
to her. She was screaming now, and Jimmy was yelling about
a mutie bastard fucking his property. Still, they weren't
any problem to handle, and once they'd tasted the asphalt,
Remy turned to grab the lady and make a simple retreat.
Nothing ... Nothing in his life was ever simple. She'd stopped
screaming. She was too scared for that now. Jimmy held a knife
to her throat.
"Ssstand right there, mutie or I cut the bitch."
She was crying, and the scene was like Deja vu to Remy. Desperate,
he gingerly let down some of his empathic shields. It hurt
feeling all the overpowering disgusting emotions flooding
him as he made contact, but he grinned his most winning smile.
"Come on mon ami. How's about lettin her go, neh?"
Remy could taste Jimmy's anger and her fear. He hated being
Remy'd known he was different from as far back as he could
remember. Most mutant's unique characteristics and powers
didn't manifest themselves until a child hit puberty, but
like Hank McCoy and Kurt Wagner, it'd been obvious from the
first that he was a mutant. The rest of the X-men assumed
Gambit's eyes had changed in adolescence, but the fact was,
he had been born with them this way. Only they didn't glow
as bright back then. His maman told him it was the mark of
sin on him. Her sin. Her sin for listening to the demons in
her head, and for letting her Uncle do those things to her.
For turning to the heroin to make it all go away, and for
leaving New Orleans and coming back with child. He was her
Remy was young and knew nothing of mutants, but he loved
his mother. So for a long time, he thought he was dirty, marked.
Born carrying sin already in him. Now he realized that she
was an empath, just like he was, albeit a low grade one. Other's
emotions were the demons she felt were talking to her. And
when they were near each other, her emotions talked to him.
From his earliest memories, and they were so few, he could
feel her with him. He knew now that it was his novice empathic
abilities reaching out to hers. She was so sad. He'd hug her
wanting so much to comfort her. Every now and then, maybe
she felt him too, because she'd smile and say he was sensitive.
Remy didn't want to be sensitive. Because of his uniqueness,
they lived just outside of New Orleans in a little shanty
on the bayou. She wouldn't take him or let him out like other
kids. People would know her shame. Instead, she'd given him
his first worn deck of cards to play with. They were his only
friends. The times he did get to go out was at night after
she left to work. A few years after his birth, she started
needing more money for the drugs as her habit continually
increased. The welfare wasn't enough anymore. That's why she
began working for Andre, who got her into town at night and
supplied her. Back then, the dark loneliness beckoned to him
as it still did even today. His night vision excellent, he'd
play in the darkness watching the gators' eyes glow in the
bayou while catching their prey.
He imagined himself then. Lurking, sneaky, silent, swift,
dangerous, then quietly slipping back into the darkness. He
began to know them and the dark bayou well. They were unforgiving,
uncaring for anyone save themselves. Not the least bit sensitive
He concentrated on the man in front of him, allowing Jimmy's
emotions to wash over him and judging Jimmy's response to
what he was saying. Remy didn't have any true 'charm' power
as it were. The charm was a talent. He'd learned with his
empathic abilities how to talk to people. Know what to say
to them. Body language, everything. He could feel when he
was saying the right thing and became good, no, very good
at 'charming' people, or causing them to be reckless against
him. That's why he talked so much. It was an excellent defensive
tactic, and it didn't require him to have too much contact
with someone's feelings. By now, he'd become so good at knowing
what was likely to work, he only had to let down his shields
in the most extreme of situations.
He certainly understood why Rogue hated her absorbing power.
Using his empathic ability on someone meant sharing a part
of their life. Almost stealing it. He couldn't charm anyone
into doing what they wouldn't willingly do, but he could try
to lead them the way he wanted them to go. And it certainly
didn't hurt with the ladies. He knew what to say, what to
do, to make most feel happy for a moment, and he liked making
women happy. It was one of his passions. It warmed him to
have that feeling radiate back to him if only for a moment.
He charged a card behind his back as he slowly advanced on
Jimmy. The charging ability was actually an off-shoot of his
empathic abilities. One that he had honed in his adolescence
as his mutant talents started truly developing. He'd had his
agility and night vision since birth as well, but the empathic
talents didn't really start becoming powerful until he was
almost eleven when other people's emotions started flooding
in on him at unpredictable moments instead of being background
noise. It was like what he felt with his mother, and he became
terrified of being so intimate with someone like that again.
To open yourself up only to be hurt. Abandoned. It was worst
than just being alone.
He practiced blocking the contact out. Hiding out in Madam's
basement for a whole month imagining he was building walls
inside his mind. In closing off his mind to the emotional
energy coming from people, he realized he could see it as
well as feel it. His eyes had the ability to see a person's
emotional self as a glow around them. Once he learned how
to focus his mind to see this glow, he noticed that inanimate
objects had a glow too. An inherent energy in their atomic
bonds that he could see. The larger the object the more bonds.
It took some practice, more accidents than he'd like to count,
but he learned how to feel this energy too. He didn't mind
using his power this way as objects didn't have feelings to
affect him. All he felt was a low charge like mild electricity.
He learned to tap into it, and release it. He could release
as much as he wanted. All of it or just a little. All at once
or slowly. Stop and reverse the process. He could even do
it without touching the object, but that was harder. Then
he had to concentrate specifically on that object and watch
it to know when to let go.
It was easier to touch the object. Feel the energy as he
focused his power through his hands. He didn't have to watch
it, he could feel what he was doing, so he reserved charging
objects without touching them as an ace up his sleeve. And
he wasn't stupid, although he sometimes liked people to think
he was so they'd underestimate him. His mathematical skills
and understanding of physics were both exceptional. He knew
his empathic power had to work in a similar way as the psionic
way he affected inanimate objects. That physical contact would
improve his ability to feel the emotions. That he must be
able to tap into them... release them if he wanted. But he
seeing what he could do with plain rocks, he didn't even want
to image what he could do to a person's emotions. Or what
those emotions would do to him in return.
His concentration completely on Jimmy and saving the woman,
he ignored the warming signals he should have picked up on
from both her and his own senses. His thoughts were brutally
interrupted by a loud crack and a shooting pain in his head.
He heard screaming as he crumpled into a heap.
*Stupid, stupid, stupid.*
He'd turned his back on the others for too long. Through
blurry vision, he saw them all standing over him. One of the
other men holding a pipe.
"Mutie scum. He musta been messing with my head."
Jimmy kicked him in the ribs.
Remy curled up, hearing sirens wailing in the distance. They
could too. And even if it was doubtful the police were coming
their way, the group decided it was time to move on.
"Come on bitch. You wanna act like a whore. Fine."
"No please no."
"Grab the mutie. We gonna teach him a lesson about acting
above his station in life."
That was the last truly coherent thing that he could remember
from that night. They dragged him into the old theater, and
two of them began beating on him, with the pipe, their fists,
kicking him, and then swapping out with the third who was
holding the sobbing woman. His mind flashed back to Andre
beating him over and over. His mother usually too stoned to
care or sobbing too. At first, when Andre showed up to get
his cut, have his fun, and give his mother her addiction to
keep her tied to him, Remy tried to protect her from Andre's
brutality. But Andre would only slap him hard and laugh, telling
him what a useless pup he was. Later, feeling scared and weak,
he tried to hide.
Usually half drunk before his visit was over, Andre would
get mad about not getting as much time and money out of his
mother as many of his other 'mares' since she had to take
care of her ill- mannered devil brat. It was obvious Remy's
eyes got on his nerves. Rosemary's baby he called Remy. Hellspawn.
Needs to be beaten to be kept in line. Teach him not to be
insolent. Remy learned to crawl inside himself to fight against
the pain of the relentless beatings. Now, Remy barely remembered
hearing bone after bone break. Blood came out of his mouth,
nose, and ears. They called him every name they could think
of. Not being rocket scientists, that meant he heard most
of them over and over. Remy lost track of time.
Finally, weakened and in unbearable pain, his mental defenses
collapsed. Then all their anger and hatred flooded in on his
mind as well. He loathed himself. Eventually, too late for
him to care anymore, his body gave way to oblivion.
"Think he's dead?" If'n he ain't. He will be in
awhile. Nobody will ever find him in here. Serves him right.
No mutie's better'n me .... Now bitch, you're turn. You wanna
act like a whore. Ya gonna get your chance." Jimmy gave
a drunken wolfish grin to his friends. "She let a mutie
touch her. Seems she aught ta be begging for it from real
Remy didn't know how long he'd been out. Consciousness came
slowly as something powerful invaded his mind. Memories, purposefully
forgotten, returned like an icy lover to wrap him in their
"Now stay here Remy. I'll be back my p'tite one. I've
got to be getting somethin. Then we'll go. If Andre finds
I be pregnant again, mon coeur, he'll kill me."
"No maman please. Don't go. I don' wanna be alone here.
It's scary." The five year old Remy eyed the city streets
from the dark alley he was in. He'd never been in New Orleans
"You got to, my chere. I have to have my stuff."
Her drugs she meant. They were more important than him. "Now
be strong. I know you can. You always are. Wait. I'll come
back for you."
But he didn't wait. He continually wondered if it would have
been better somehow if he'd done as she had asked. He'd peered
into the window of the old building she had snuck into and
watched her move. She'd been slick once. Graceful if untrained,
but the drugs had taken their toll. She must have set off
a silent alarm
"Well, well. Once a t'ief, always a t'ief. Wondered
where ya been Evangline. Ya didn't show up on ya corner. I
had a special trick for ya."
"Andre! You don' unnerstand. I was..."
"You was stealing my money and my stash ... Bitch!"
Two big burly men with Andre pounced on his mother.
"Maman!" Remy pulled at the old rusted window,
but it wouldn't budge.
"Andre please... I won't be doin it again. I needed
it. Just this once ..."
"Don' worry. You fixin ta pay me back." Two new
men walked in. "Here you are gentlemen, your date for
de evening. Only t'ings have changed. The price is doubled
and instead being allowed ta teach her a lesson, you can do
whatever you want. There's a quite a nice room in de back,
an' since I can' be trustin dis one anymore, make her an example."
The men smiled greedily.
"No" his mother squeaked with wide eyes. "Noooo!"
she screamed in fear as they dragged her away.
Remy ran around the building. Trying to get in not knowing
what else to do. Sick with fear, he checked window after window.
Unbearable terror and pain brought him to his knees. He screamed.
It matched hers. He could almost feel the sweaty bodies of
Jimmy and the others. What they were doing to her. All of
her pain, fear, and revulsion flooded him. His own body wouldn't
move, and he threw up from his own disgust.
"Nooo!" a small child-like voice inside his mind
cried. "No, maman, no. Please don' hurt her. Maman!"
Helpless, he felt worthless as he sensed her terrified emotions.
Knew what they did to her. Knew the torture lasted for hours
before he felt her fear as she gasped for air. The end coming
slowly , painfully, as her lungs filled with blood. Then it
was over, and he lay in the alley sobbing quietly while they
hauled her body away. He hated himself. He'd let her down.
She'd left him, and she was never coming back.
But that was a lifetime ago. He was young, small, scared.
His powers too immature. His mother had called him sensitive
then. He never wanted to be sensitive. The anger built inside
him, flooding his empathic powers outward with his rage. He'd
never struck out with it before. Always kept it tightly hidden
behind strong barriers so it couldn't hurt him anymore. But
those barriers were gone. It boiled out like a tidal wave
engulfing them in a thunderclap of emotion. His, hers, theirs,
and half of Seattle's.
"What is it Riptide?"
"Ya whole board jus lit up like a Christmas tree, Sinister.
Someone out there just released a whole buttload of mutant
"Is the psionic shield working? Has it isolated and
masked the energy release?!"
"Snapped into place instantly." Creed noted.
"Excellent. Professor X should never detect this super-powerful
mutant. This one shall belong to me. Heart and soul. Give
me the readout." Ripetide handed him the freshly printed
paper. "Empathic/Psionic energy levels of the first order.
The highest I've ever seen on the empathic side. Incredible.
Time for a bit of recruitment I think."
As the woman passed out from her own pain and the sudden
calming feeling that engulfed her, the first of her attackers
was filled with incredible rage. He attacked the second one
with the knife. But long before the other's knife touched
him, the second one was already collapsing having died instantly
from unimaginable fright. His heart stopping in mid-beat.
While watching his friend fall, anger suddenly turned to
self-loathing, and the first one slit his own throat. Jimmy,
the last one, got all the guilt. Years upon years of countless
thousands of people's regrets and shame. It ate him up inside,
and his mind collapsed under the strain. When the police found
him and the unconscious beaten woman beside him, there was
nothing left but a wailing mindless mass.
Remy felt each's sudden moment of surprise, then their pain,
and mental if not physical death. The shock and horror of
what he'd done momentarily stunned him. He hadn't meant...
he couldn't do ...hadn't wanted them... dead ... Liar. For
one second, he had, and his mind had lashed out with his wish.
Releasing power even he never suspected he had. He felt the
wave, enormous now, wipe past them. Driving outward with frightening
speed toward the walls of the theater raging to engulf the
rest of Seattle in its wake.
His mind screamed.
What had he done?! He had to stop it. All those innocent
people. He concentrated with all his might. His mind felt
as if it was tearing apart. He pulled desperately at the empathic
horror he'd released. His battered body straining with mental
effort. He thought he would died from it, from being so weak.
But it'd be better than living with the knowledge of what
he'd unleashed. Slowly, almost reluctantly, the empathic wave
rolled turning back on itself, slamming suddenly back into
him with seemingly more force than it had left.
He had no time to prepare himself. Was probably too weak
to do it if he had. Now all of Seattle, all of their hopes
and dreams, fears and hatreds, laughter and tears screamed
in his mind. Noooo!!! Leave me alone!!! His mind cried out
trying to seal its self off once more from all the emotions
he'd gathered in his anger. But even at his strongest, it
would have taken all his power. For him now, there was no
defense, no hope.
The tidal wave of emotions crush into him, battering him,
torturing him from the inside out. The agony unbearable. His
mind on the verge of being swept away.
Continued in Chapter
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