Okay, this was written for Kaylee's handicap
challenge. I had a minor booboo myself, though 'Christ this
is irritating,' and the idea was born. I don't know if it
sucks or not, if it doesn't please let me know, I'l kinda
edit a little and post the rest. If, on the other hand, it
does, just don't say anything and I'll get the message loud
Disclaimer: They're not mine, although I doubt Marvel
wants this one back. He's a little defective now. I'm not
making any money from them. Story itself mine.
Warning: I think I managed to get through without naughty
language aside from some blasphemy, but don't hold me to that.
We have a bit of a emotion-with-a-trowel warning though, and
if you're religiously opposed to Gambit and Rogue you ain't
gonna like some of it.
Remy took a deep breath in, and slowly released it. This
should be easy, he'd done it a hundred times before. In the
rain and gale-force winds of Storm grieving, in the snow,
in the dark. Now it was daylight, the weather was perfect,
and everything was so familiar.
Gambit stepped out onto the topmost ridge of the roof, steadied
himself and began to walk. His balance was perfect, and for
his feet it was second nature. His right knee, however, buckled
on the third step and threw him sideways. He rolled down the
roof, tried to catch himself, missed, and bounced painfully
over the edge, fingers scrabbling frantically at the guttering.
He cursed viciously, saw the ground rushing up towards him...
And had most of his remaining breath knocked out of him as
Rogue's familiar arms broke his fall.
Green eyes filled with concern bored into his. "Remy!
What the heck did you think ya were doin' up there?"
"De rumba," he snarled back. "Put me down!"
"If ya want me to." She put him gently on the ground.
Seven or eight months ago things would have been different,
Gambit reflected. If she'd caught him at all, she just would
have waited until they were within safe falling distance and
left him to his own devices, knowing he'd control his own
descent and land like a cat. He always had. Now she had to
know his feet were on the ground before she'd let him take
his own weight, not letting go until she was sure he was balanced.
He hated her for it. "How many times I have to tell you,
Rogue? Let me be."
She looked at him sadly. "Y'know, time was when mah
favourite swamp-rat would do just about anythin' to fly with
me as long as he could."
"Times change." He didn't mean it, they both knew
it. He still wanted to be up there with her, or Storm, or
Sam or even Warren. Whoever was handy when he felt like a
tortoise and declared he'd kill himself if he didn't get up
out of the mud soon. But flying wasn't being caught, 'saved'
from his own mistake.
"Would you like t' come flyin', Remy? Ah was feelin'
a little claustrophobic mahself ... "
"Don't patronize me." Another barb, one of hundreds,
all ignored the same way. Remy turned, refusing to look her
in the eye, and headed towards the nearest door. His damaged
knee screamed in pain from the abuse it had taken on the roof,
but he limped determinedly on.
He could feel the hands reaching out, and was almost tempted
to lean back into them. Not quite tempted enough, though.
"Chere, please. I can still walk." He knew
he was lucky to be able to do that, they'd said as much. If
it hadn't been for Forge and the Shi'Ar technology, he'd be
missing half a leg now, instead of just having a useless knee
that collapsed on him at the worst possible times. And held
him on imprisoned on the ground, unable to do the simplest
things that he'd taken for granted at eight. He could barely
climb a fire escape the normal way now, let alone bounce up
the side with the same effort he used to breathe.
Remy hobbled inside and sat down on a couch, wincing as he
stuffed a cushion under his right leg. Oh, the things he'd
done. Taken a running leap from a rooftop to fall twelve feet
and land on Magneto as he flew past... He almost smiled at
that memory. He'd knocked the wind right out of Magnus, sending
them both crashing into a florist shop. Fun days. Then general
public had found the image of the two of them covered in pansies
and swearing at each other in French particularly amusing.
Throwing carnations had been fun too, especially since they'd
still been in the bucket with several litres of charged water.
Remy shook his head, subconsciously trying to banish the thought.
He couldn't do things like that anymore, ever.
Clenching his teeth, Remy struggled up and limped to the
elevator. Stairs were another thing he couldn't do the way
he used to, and best avoided on a bad day. No sprinting up
then three at a time just ahead of an extremely angry Summers,
Bobby had to do that alone now. Remy's jaw clenched and he
changed his mind, going to a lower level instead. Not dead
yet, he thought firmly to the depression. De show ain't
over 'til de fat lady sings, and we don' have many around
A few minutes later, Gambit was appropriately dressed, standing
in the empty gymnasium and running through the mental lock-down
procedures that would keep his thoughts away from the telepaths.
He was doing that more and more often lately, Remy reflected
as he looked around. They kept trying to find excuses to look
inside his head, and they were giving him funny looks when
he refused. Why did they worry? He knew he was lucky to be
alive. It was almost amusing the way things had worked out,
really. If he'd taken a car he'd most probably be dead, but
he'd been on the Harley and was thrown clear. Being hurled
over a car with a crushed knee hadn't been fun, but better
than going under the truck.
Remy reached for the bar and started to do chin-ups. After
all the times he'd escaped unharmed against all odds, a simple
three-vehicle accident smashed his knee beyond repair. Any
of Forge's bionics were too heavy for his unusual bone structure,
and all the other possibilities they suggested weren't quite
out of the development stage yet. Even then, Remy had made
them tell him exactly how extensive the nerve damage was.
Enough so that he'd never get full mobility back, even if
everything else magically repaired itself.
Sweating, he lowered himself back onto the ground and limped
across to one of the machines. Sit ups were good, they didn't
involve his legs at all and at that angle they were hard enough
that he only concentrated on the effort. Remy had no idea
how many hid did, but eventually his stomach muscles refused
to work any more. He lay there waiting for world stop spinning
enough to get up.
"Overdone it?" Scott's upside-down face appeared
in his blurry vision.
"No," Remy grated out, ignoring screaming muscles
and dragging himself up. "Help me get onto dat one."
He waved at another machine.
Scott looked carefully at him. He's working hard, but
not dangerously so. The worst he can do is pull something.
"It's lunchtime. Why don't we come back in an hour or
"More exercise an' less food'd do you some good."
Remy ignored the casually offered hand and heaved himself
to his feet, ignoring the warning throb from his knee.
"It probably would," Scott agreed quietly.
The only light was from a television screen Remy had long
since stopped really watching. His eyes took in flickery patterns
of light, but he couldn't have said what he was watching.
It might have been a horror movie, then again it might have
been an ad for tampons. Eventually he switched it off and
stood up. Like a lame ghost in the sleeping house he drifted
down to the danger room, starting up as few systems as possible.
He knew he shouldn't be doing this, but he had to do something.
The doors locked behind him.
"Pathetic." He was as large as life and twice as
arrogant, sword hanging carelessly from one hand. "Y'
never could take me, Remy, now you just gonna get y'self killed."
"I'm not dead yet, Julien."
"You will be." The assassin lunged, sword whistling
through empty air as Remy ducked. "Why we always do dis
on rooftops?" he asked almost conversationally.
"I like it." Remy blocked the next attack with
his bo staff, and very nearly broke his dead brother-in-laws
"You don' have de advantage up here anymore, thief.
"I know." Remy forcibly held back the temptation
to use his mutation, even when Julien forced him back another
Julien laughed. "You've already lost, LeBeau. You're
not eighteen any more, you're crippled and useless and I don'
know what you're still doing here! What good are you?"
The most truly humiliating thing, Remy decided as he fell,
was the way the bastard had used the flat of the blade to
sweep him off the roof. He hadn't even been worth killing.
The program shut off, its requirements met. The room was
empty when Remy hit the floor, trying to roll. Once again
his knee refused to do what it was supposed to, hitting hard.
Remy saw a white flash and felt a burst of pain, then slid
Jean woke up with a gasp. She felt as if someone had just
dropped a miniature atomic bomb on her leg, waves of pain
flowed over here, slowly receding as she got her shields back
under control. "Scott?"
He was already half awake, as her distress had washed down
their bond. "What is it?"
"You know how you said you didn't think Gambit was capable
of exercising himself to the point where he got seriously
"Oh no." He sounded sick, guilt and worry collided.
"He's in the danger room. I'm waking up Cecilia."
Jean let her husband run off without her. She needed a few
minutes to collect herself before she could look at anyone
in the light, time to rid herself of that black sense of almost
unbearable loss. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes,
letting the feeling wash through her on its way out. She was
floating in a damaged boat, grey waves rolled and crashed
around her. A storm was coming, and there were no harbours
she could get to in a ship without sails ...
Jean frowned. A ship without sails, a bird that can't
sing... Poetry of a kind. Where had she heard that? Without
knowing why, she shivered. It wasn't that bad. Gambit wasn't
badly hurt, she could sense that from the others. But why
was he doing this? He'd lost was some mobility, but it could
have been so much worse...
"Gambit? Gambit, can you hear me?"
Remy groaned. His head was feeling a little too small for
his brain. "Oui, 'm crippled, not deaf ... "
"I see you didn't break your sense of humour. Pity."
The biting sarcasm meant he was fine. Remy wondered if he
could manage to pass out again. He seemed to have hit the
back of his head on the floor, maybe he could dredge up a
"Gambit, don't drift off on me. Open your eyes."
He opened them reluctantly, an image of Cecilia leaning over
him with Scott and Hank behind her seared itself across his
eyeballs before he closed his eyes firmly. "Ow. You know
I don' like you shinin' dat light in my eyes." He breathed
deeply, trying to ignore the pain in his leg.
"I've done that now, your pupils are equal and responding.
C'mon, if you don't follow the finger you'll be lying on that
cold floor all night." He sighed and opened his eyes,
following the finger as it waved from side to side. "Okay,
what day is it?"
"You aren't amusing anyone except yourself," she
"What's your middle name?"
Cecilia rolled her eyes. "What was the date the day
Remy frowned, thinking hard and drawing a blank. "The
third," he admitted sulkily. Hadn't thought up a smart
reply for that one yet.
"Thank you. Anything else wrong with you?"
"My knee. Hit it when I landed."
Scott's voice cut softly through the pain of Cecilia's gentle
examination. "Which raises the question of what the hell
you were doing."
"Couldn't sleep, wanted a little exercise. Some people
can't combine dat wit' bed like you can, fearless leader.
Dat is, if you do. Could explain why Jean's so uptight 'round
me ... " He could feel the glare, heard the anger in
the indrawn breath. Go on. Yell at me. You know I deserved
it for dat one...
The danger room was silent for a few moments. "How does
it look?" Cyclops asked Cecilia calmly.
"Bruised." She poked a little. "That hurt?"
Gambit whimpered. "No."
"Can you move it?"
"Yes, I just don' want to."
"You are absolutely the worst patient I've ever had,
"Just hearing you say dat made my whole day."
"And what day is that?"
"Today." Always today, endless todays flowing into
each other ... What he wanted was for all the yesterdays to
still be tomorrows.
Gambit glared at the crutches. Back on those again, leg in
a brace, poster child for racehorses everywhere. Still, at
least that meant he could get up now. He did, with far more
effort than he really felt should be necessary. As had become
almost reflex now, he shielded his mind to the best of his
ability. With a mockery of his old silent grace, Remy began
He reached the door of the professor's study without seeing
anyone. That made sense, because they were all on the other
side of it. Without the ability to pull off any more covert
eavesdropping, he simply listened at the door.
"Okay, maybe I don't know Gambit as well as you all
say you do, but I don't think he'd be picking fights with
a hologram of his brother-in-law if he didn't have serious
issues." That was Kate, annoyingly intelligent as always.
"I agree, Kitty, but what can we do that we haven't
done or tried to do already?"
"Jean, I know how you feel, but I believe I can also
guess at how he feels. When Forge's nullifier took away my
powers ... I lost part of myself. I felt useless, like half
a being that had no right existing. We worry about him needing
us, but it is more important for him to feel that we
"Marrow, that was beneath you."
"I come from the sewers, wind-rider, there isn't much
beneath me. What can he do here except sit around while you
all pat yourselves on the back for being so supportive? He's
not useful and he knows it."
There was a long silence. "Maybe the Massachusetts Academy
... " Xavier said thoughtfully.
"That's open to humans now, remember? What would he
teach? The one thing legal thing he was good at he can't do
anymore. If he could we'd keep him."
"He is not a pet."
"The way you and I-won't-commit-but-I-like-having-the-pretty-face-around-to-look-at
act it's hard to tell."
"Ah do not."
"Running away from pain does not help." The Russian
accent was unmistakable. "He should stay here, where
his friends are."
"Maybe he should go home to where his family is,"
Jean said a little sarcastically. "He certainly doesn't
seem to be liking it here with us."
It was Nightcrawler's turn to argue. "Send him back
to a family that earn their money climbing in through other
people's windows? It seems to me that the reason this injury
is causing him problems is that he has been raised to consider
those skills crucial."
"If he stays, we can't let him have access to the danger
"He'll hurt himself again!"
"If that's what he wants to do then I don't see why
you should have any right to stop him!"
"X-Men look after their own."
"What sort of X-Man does he see himself as now? He hasn't
been an active member for seven months."
In Remy's ears all the arguing voices and words began to
blur together. "My patient ... therapy... not now...
thief... fell off the roof on Wednesday... rude to everyone...
what use... a little peace maybe... it's what's best for him
"I'll make sure I do what's best f' me,"
"Pushes away... blocks me out... need to do something...
Jubilee would... change..."
"As soon as I know what dat is..."
"Can't go on...think objectively...if it was me...thank
"I'll decide!" He yelled that, striking the door
with both hands. A pink glow erupted, turning the door into
splintered chunks and ashes. Remy swayed from the force of
the explosion, but stayed up and looked angrily into all the
shocked faces. "I'm not a child!"
"Of course you-"
"You don' get to decide where I go or what I do, I broke
my knee not my brain!" Red eyes glittered, numb loss
and self-pity obliterated in a wave of fury. "But if
dat's de way you all feel, I'd be happy to leave. And I won't
go home, and I won't go to Massachusetts, an I won't talk
to some pretentious therapist who t'ink dey know more dan
me! I'm me, I know what's wrong wit' me!"
"Then what is wrong with you?" the professor asked
"None of your goddamn business!" Awkwardly he turned
and left, fury and practice making him surprisingly fast.
There was a long, embarrassed silence. "What did we
do that was so terrible?" Bobby asked with a hurt expression.
"To us, nothin' much. Just bein' nosy." Rogue rested
her hand reassuringly on his shoulder. "To him, one of
th' most terrible things we coulda done if we'd planned it.
We made him feel like an invalid. For someone who's spent
their whole life bein' able ta take care of himself anywhere,
"Remy? Ah want to apologize, we had no business doin'
that. We just worry about ya is all." Rogue stood uncertainly
in the doorway, watching him throw things at a bag on the
"How nice for you." He didn't turn, didn't stop.
"Would y' please go away?"
"No. Talk to me, please." He paused, looking down
at something or other. The room was dim, and what little light
there was caught softly in his eyes. Rogue bit her lip. He
looked so beautiful, even the darkness traced the angles of
his face like a drowsy lover. But she would have enjoyed that
determined posture and hidden agony so much more if he was
another pleasing face on a movie screen, not a living soul
she cared about.
"What's de point?"
Untouchable. Not because of her powers -- she was fairly
good at controlling them now. Because in the two months since
she'd happily shown this new ability to everyone, he hadn't
touched her once. Never reached for her, physically or emotionally,
held her at a distance if she tried to initiate the slightest
intimacy. "Please, don't push me away again," she
"Dis ain't about you, or us. Dis is about me!"
"Ah know, and Ah want to help, but Ah don't understand
"You want to help? Yell at me!" He glared angrily.
"I'm being a jerk, I deserve it! But none of you ever
do, even t'ough I could be sued for some of de t'ings I say..."
"You were angry at life, we didn't take it personal..."
"I meant it personal, I get so angry at all of
you. You talk 'bout what I need, but you don't have to fix
my life. You have to do nothing. Don't talk down to
me, don't decide what's best for me, don't tell me it could
have been worse and I should be grateful, 'cause sometimes
I wish it had been worse. I don' want to be de one
everyone has to treat special, I can't stand it ... "
The deceptively devilish red glitter disappeared as Remy closed
his eyes in pain. "I could do anything, Rogue, I was
so free ... No matter what else life took, I was me and I
could fly. But not even Stormy can understand dat, I worked
for it, every day. I wish you wouldn't all pretend dat you
can know how it hurts and make me feel worse dan useless.
I already lost half my soul, don' take de rest." He took
a shuddering breath and looked at her. Rogue looked at the
tears filling his eyes and felt some of her own start.
"Ya can have mine." This time she didn't take no
for an answer, holding him close in desperate determination.
He leaned into her shoulder, crying softly. It was the first
time he'd done that since the accident, the grief and loss
evident with every desolate sob nearly broke her heart. But
it was progress of a kind. He had a long way to go, but it
was a start.
An old book sat unnoticed on the bedside table. If someone
had opened it, they might have read the copperplate words
written across that unprinted first page.
A ship without sails, a bird that can't sing,
I'll be your harbour if you'll be my wings.
~Armand LeBeau, 9th October 1945~
- as long as the voices in my
head stay quiet.
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