The Ice Capades
Logan opened his eyes, only to shut them again quickly, blinded
by bright light and a harsh desert wind. Attempting to shield
them with his right hand, he found that it was secured to
something, and he couldn't move his arm. Testing first his
left arm, then both legs, he quickly realized the obvious:
he was completely immobilized. He struggled briefly against
the chains that restrained him, then stopped, confused. Pressing
his body back against the wooden frame that held him, he considered
the position his body was in, and the feel of the wood behind
him. It took only a moment to search his memory before he
could place the sensations he was feeling.
Instantly, he realized the wooden frame was, indeed, a St.
Andrew's Cross -- a large wooden 'X.' He was being crucified.
AGAIN. Panic overwhelmed him, and he retreated into
the deepest hole in his psyche. Snarling, he now had only
one thought: escape. Immediately, no matter what the cost!
With a primal scream he threw his body forward, trying to
break the restraints. He only broke skin, and he started to
bleed. He continued to struggle, and the chain continued to
cut deeper into his flesh. For some reason, his mutant healing
factor wasn't working; the blood flow increased. The smell
of the blood triggered yet another scream, followed by another
frenzied struggle. Over and over the pattern repeated itself
in a vicious circle, until he heard a voice, a voice he vaguely
recognized from a long time ago.
"Well, well, well. What have we here?"
He opened his eyes again, and this time did not shut them.
Rather, he looked from side to side, trying to locate the
source of the voice. To his right, he saw only desert. Turning
to his left, he saw another cross, the same as his. There
was someone crucified on it as well. He was too far away to
see the other's features clearly, but he had the vague feeling
it was someone he knew. As he looked at the other person,
he stopped struggling, and began to think. Slowly, he began
to climb out of the deep pit the panic had thrown him into.
Gradually, he came to his senses, and reason began to return.
"Good...think it out, shorty. It's the ONLY
way you'll free yourself." The voice was deep and melodic.
It was also dripping with sarcasm, and a hint of contempt.
Logan could sense, however, that its owner was at peace with
himself. He also had the distinct impression that his
presence was an unwelcome intrusion.
Wolverine struggled against his bonds briefly, before the
pain in his wrists and ankles forced him to stop. Straining
his neck, he again surveyed the landscape. Finally, when he
spoke, the words came slowly, as if he were not only fighting
to remember his surroundings, but how to communicate as well.
"Very good. Continue."
"No. While the landscape and circumstances may remind
you of your encounter with Lady Deathstrike, the Reavers and
Mr. Pierce, that was another time -- another place."
Logan was finally able to put a semi-coherent string of thoughts
together. Last I knew, I was in Detroit...doing...what?
He thought for a moment, then proceeded the best he could.
I remember being tired...laid down...
"I'm...dreaming, right?" More of a statement than
a question. The realization eased his confusion a little,
but not the panic he felt.
"In a matter of speaking, yes. However, this is not
your ordinary dream. Do you know who I am?"
Logan thought for awhile. It could have been a minute, it
could have been three days, he couldn't tell. It was obvious
that, wherever he was, time didn't matter.
The voice was familiar, although he was fairly certain he
hadn't heard in years. But then again he wasn't sure about
the time frame.
While he pondered the question, he noticed that his bonds
had loosened slightly. He moved his arms, but he was still
"Proudstar?" he asked finally. Even as he said
the name, he felt a little more play in his restraints.
"Very good, short stuff. I'm gratified you remember
me enough to recognize my voice; that your Eastern 'devotions,'"
the word dripped with sarcasm" have taught you respect
for the dead."
As the owner of the voice spoke, Wolverine could hear him
move toward the front of the cross and into his field of vision.
Thunderbird, the late John Proudstar, stood in front
of the bound X-Man.
Gambit stirred and groaned. His head hurt, and he was more
than a little confused. The last thing he remembered was being
told to strip down to his 'skivvies,' as Wolverine called
them, by Tory. She was going to do a quick dark load, and
offered to throw their clothes in with her and Amy's. Amy,
it turned out, was her roommate.
Looking down, he saw that he was dressed in his colors, and
not the fuzzy pink robe Tory had given him when he explained
that he wasn't wearing any 'skivvies.' After that, he wasn't
quite sure. He thought he remembered sitting on the couch,
Surveying the landscape, he saw that he was back in New Salem;
standing in the woods in front of the mansion, to be exact.
A beat-up yellow VW 'Beetle' was parked in the drive. A man,
probably the driver since Gambit recognized neither him nor
the car, headed purposely toward the front door. The strident
scream of the intruder alarm stopped the man in his tracks.
He looked nervously at the front door, obviously now unsure
Gambit studied the stranger. He looked vaguely familiar,
but he couldn't quite place him, and was deeply troubled by
this. He had long, white hair, probably in his mid-twenties.
Remy was about to call out and challenge the stranger when
the front door burst open and the X-Men came pouring out,
with Rogue in the lead. Gambit felt his heartrate increase
and his mouth and lips go dry at the sight of her.
Again he was going to call out, this time to her, but the
words died on his lips as she took a defensive position between
the stranger and the rest of the X-Men. He could just make
out the conversation, argument really, between Rogue and the
stranger on one side, and the rest of the team on the other.
The way they were screaming, he should have been able to hear
them inside Harry's, with the jukebox blaring. Instead, it
sounded more like they were underwater.
Deciding he needed to be closer to hear better, Gambit began
to move forward, but was stopped by a flash of pink near his
upper thigh. Puzzled, he looked down. His uniform had been
replaced by the fuzzy pink robe Tory had lent him. He also
saw a pair of 'bunny' slippers on his feet, and his fingernails
were now a 'nice sky blue -- the color of a Louisiana summer
Oh, I gotta be dreamin'. Although...dat color does
look nice on me. Dream or not, he decided not to join
the group in front of the house dressed the way he was. Straining
to hear the muddied argument, he settled back to watch the
events unfold; it was now apparent that his part in this little
drama was as a spectator, not a participant.
Looking back at Rogue and the stranger, Gambit let out a
soft moan of despair. She had shifted her position, and was
now standing sideways to, and between, Cyclops and the stranger.
She had a hand on each of their chests, and a look of genuine
concern on her face. Watching their interaction, one thing
was obvious: There was more than just friendship between the
two. How much, he didn't know, but enough to confirm his worst
"Rogie ... Why y'doin' dis t'me? Don'cha know ya killin'
The moan from the other 'prisoner' was soft, but loud enough
to cause both Logan and Proudstar to look at him. Thunderbird
turned back to Wolverine.
"Friend of yours, runt?"
Logan thought for a moment. There was something, but he couldn't
quite put his finger on it. "Don't know. Looks familiar,
but I can't place him."
"Ah, and there's the rub! Ya see, he's just like
you; a prisoner of his own device!"
"Ya gotta be clearer, Proudstar, and let me outta this
thing." He thrashed against his bonds for a few seconds,
just in case Thunderbird wasn't clear on which thing he meant.
"Sorry, can't do that." Logan detected a certain
amount of satisfaction in his voice.
"It's against the rules." The answer was stated
simply, as if Logan should know what he was talking about.
"Ya know, Wolverine, for someone who is as 'spiritual'
as you're supposed to be, you don't know jack-shit about the
"C'mon, Proudstar, spit it out already. WHAT
rules!?" As soon as he raised his voice, Logan felt his
bonds re-tighten. He was pulled back against the cross and
was now held tighter than ever.
"Now, see what you've done? You've got to stop
doing that!" Proudstar put his hands on his hips, mocking
his former teammate. After a moment he relented. "All
right, Logan. This much I can tell you. You and LeBeau are
bound to crosses of your own making. Kinda like Marley in
'A Christmas Carol.'"
At the name 'LeBeau,' Wolverine started. Memories flooded
him. He turned to his left to look at the other prisoner.
Sure enough, Gambit was attached to the other cross.
"You know, 'A Christmas Carol'; Charles Dickens, Scrooge,
Bob Cratchet, Tiny Tim, Marley's ghost. Although, he was actually
attached to coin boxes and ledgers. That kind of stuff."
The blank look on Wolverine's face earned a disgusted grunt
from Thunderbird. "Yeah, there I go, over-estimating
you again. Shoulda figured you're idea of great literature
would be the articles in 'Playboy.'
"Anyway, and I probably shouldn't tell you this, but
what the hell: the crosses represent the burdens of your lives
at the moment. Sometimes the chains are heavy, and you're
bound closely; other times they're almost non-existent, and
still other times, you're completely free. It's a karmic kind
of thing." He looked from Wolverine to Gambit and back
again. "At the moment, you're both in deep shit."
"Whattaya mean, representing the 'burdens'?"
"Actually, you were doing pretty well 'til you greased
that guy in the airport."
Wolverine looked at him, puzzled. "How'd you know..."
"I'm DEAD, you moron. I know everything! I'm
one with the Cosmos. I possess all worldly knowledge. I know
who killed Kennedy!" He stopped, seeming to get the better
of himself. After a moment he continued. "The 'what'
isn't important. The fact is I know that action is the one
that sent you back here and bound you tighter than you've
ever been before."
"What about Gumbo? He left with the kid. Why's he here?"
The Apache shrugged. "He's been here for a while now,
actually. I have a feeling he ain't leaving, either."
"He's looking for answers, but in all the wrong places,
and not hard enough." It struck Wolverine that Thunderbird
didn't really care about either himself or LeBeau. He wasn't
sure what the Apache's angle was. Proudstar continued. "He
just keeps getting worse. He first came here after he hooked
up with Sinister."
"LeBeau and Sinister?"
Proudstar smiled. "Yeah. He's really been beating the
crap outta himself over that one ever since. But you know
what?" Logan didn't say anything, too stunned by the
information he'd just been given. "He doesn't even know
the truth of what went on: His dealings with Sinister aren't
what he thinks they are!" This seemed to amuse Thunderbird,
and he started giggling. "Then add the problems with
Rogue and you have one blackened Cajun: he's burnt to a crisp!
What happened today with her put the nails in."
What little sense Wolverine was making of this exchange was
quickly evaporating. "Rogue? Nails?"
"See for yourself."
Logan turned to look at Gambit. He could now definitely recognize
the Cajun's features. Sweat was dripping from his forehead.
His eyes were closed, and at first Logan thought he was unconscious,
but the low moans coming from the other man changed his mind.
Blood was streaming from his hands and feet; no chains for
Remy LeBeau, he'd been nailed to his cross. Logan turned back
"How do we get outta it?"
"You're not actually 'in' anything, old friend."
Again, the words dripped with sarcasm.
"Come again?" This was too confusing. Wolverine
was having a difficult time following the conversation. He
was pretty sure it was all a dream. Still...
"Physically, you're both still in Detroit. Westland,
actually. Let, me see..." Proudstar paused here, as if
thinking. "You're in an apartment, both asleep...he's
on the couch and you're on the loveseat, pee wee!"
He rushed up to Logan and so that their noses were almost
touching. "Physically, you're fine. This is your soul
we're talking about. Your Life Essence, your Karma, whatever
you want to call it." He was almost raving now. "Don't
you get it? The heavier the bonds, the more damage to your
'Self'! Both of you are getting close to the point of no return!"
"Why are you doing this t'me, John?"
"That's the point, shrimp. I'm not. YOU
"Then help me, Proudstar. Help us."
The Apache turned his back on the bound men. "I can't.
It's against the rule."
"The rule of the Cosmos. You'll understand, eventually.
If you're not lost."
"C'mon, Thunderbird, throw me a bone. Give me a clue.
Proudstar turned back to Wolverine and looked him over. Logan
could hear the mocking 'tsk, tsk, tsk' coming from the other
man, but was past caring. As much as it galled him, he had
to placate the Indian, and try to get some help. Somehow.
"You're really a mess, you know that Logan?"
"Yeah, I've had better days. C'mon, John, give me a
"The fact that you're 'in' Australia should give you
a clue. How'd you get out the last time?"
"I busted myself out, then Jubilee hid me while I recovered,
and we made our way out. Why?"
"That should give you all you need to know. A word of
caution: don't try to break out of these bonds. That's
what put you here in the first place: giving in to your animal
rages. Concentrate on that last part."
"What about LeBeau. What's he need?"
John Proudstar smiled down at Wolverine. This time together
was enough to remind him that he'd never really liked the
Canadian. It would be worth it to break the rule of the Cosmos
and tell him what he needed to know, just to get rid of him.
But he wouldn't do that.
"Actually, Logan, he needs two things. First, and I'll
give this one to you for free, he needs to believe in himself."
The obvious confusion on the part of the Canadian made Proudstar
smile broadly. He continued. "It goes back to Sinister,
and what LeBeau thinks he did. The second thing he
needs is the same thing that you need." Thunderbird began
to laugh. "The same thing, only different!" Then
he was gone, leaving Wolverine to puzzle over his words, and
listen to the fading laughter.
A light rain began to fall. Gambit pulled the robe tight,
trying to hold on to what little warmth he still had. The
scene before him had his undivided attention. Rogue and the
stranger -- he thought he heard the name 'Magneto' but couldn't
be sure -- were squared off against Bishop, Cyclops, Iceman
and Cannonball. The six of them were at the bottom of the
steps leading to the mansion's front door. Storm and Jean
were with the professor at the top of the stair. Jean looked
confused, Ororo sad, and Xavier...he had an odd smirk on his
The whole thing was like watching TV with the sound turned
down. It looked as if things were going to get ugly, until
Storm and Jean intervened. From where he was, it looked as
if Storm was talking to Rogue and Scott; calming her co-leader,
while reassuring her friend. Jean, meanwhile, had both hands
at her temples, her eyes closed; apparently scanning the stranger.
As Jean performed her scan, Rogue lifted her face toward
the sky. It looked as if the cool rain was invigorating her.
Her eyes began to roam, first taking in her friends, then
the mansion itself, and finally the grounds. Eventually they
landed on him. Remy's heart skipped a beat when they made
eye contact, then started again, all the stronger as she smiled
and mouthed his name. Slowly, she started to rise and move
toward him. He tried to move toward her, but was held in place.
He watched helplessly as she floated toward him, her right
hand reaching out to him.
She had gone only ten feet or so when the stranger turned
toward her and said something. Again, Remy couldn't hear the
words, but their meaning and impact were obvious when she
stopped in mid- flight. She looked at the stranger for a moment,
then turned back to Gambit. The joyous expression on her face
was gone, replaced by doubt, indecision and pain. After what
seemed like and eternity, Rogue dropped her gaze and turned
slowly, landing next to the stranger. She didn't look his
Remy fell to his knees feeling like he'd been gut-shot, although
the wound was higher. The rain was falling harder now, slapping
at him like a cold, wet hand. He rolled onto his back and
lay there. Presently, the rain seemed to concentrate on just
his face, leaving the rest of his body alone.
Slowly he opened his eyes, not prepared in the least for
sight he was greeted by. He let out a startled yelp, fell
off the couch, and came face-to-face with a rather large,
obviously friendly, yellow Labrador Retriever.
Gambit quickly scrambled back onto the couch, followed closely
by the dog, who continued licking his face.
"Get offa me y'dummy!" Gambit pushed the
animal away. The dog in turn sat down, its tail slowly wagging.
"Barney! C'mere, boy!" Tory summoned the dog into
the kitchen. "Sorry about that. His name's Barney. He
belongs to Amy. He's her seeing-eye dog." Wiping her
hands, Tory came out of the kitchen.
"Yeah, dat t'ings as much a seein'-eye-dog as I'm a
member a'd'Friends Of Humanity." Reaching into his pocket,
he pulled out a pack of cigarettes. He offered one to Tory,
who shook her head 'no.' He shrugged, turned his back to her,
and quickly lit it off his finger. He noticed his hands were
shaking. He wondered if it was because of the dog, or the
wonky dream he'd just had.
"Are you okay? You look kinda pale."
"T'ink y'dog just startle me. I be fine." He took
a drag and looked at over at Tory. "Where your roomie
be at anyway, girl? 'N why wasn't Barney here b'fore?"
"Amy just got home from work. She's laying down now.
Like I said, Barney," she signaled the dog, who padded
out of the kitchen, and sat next to Remy, "is her leader
dog." When Gambit began to protest, she raised her hand.
"Yeah, I know, he's not much of one. Actually, he was
her pet before she lost her sight. When we moved into this
apartment, the only way they'd let him come too was if he
were a guide dog." She gave the Lab an affectionate rub
on the head. "He does a decent job of it too. He's a
very friendly dog."
Gambit only grunted. He wasn't in the mood for idle chatter;
the dream had really disturbed him. He look over at Logan,
who was asleep on the love seat. 'Least one of us get a
good sleep, neh?
He glanced at his watch; it read 9:45. He'd only had an hour-and-
a-half of sleep or so, but he felt rested, if not refreshed.
"Mind if I use y'shower?"
"No, go ahead. Towels, rags, soap, shampoo: it's all
"T'anks, chere. You stayin' up or goin' t'bed?"
"Bed. I've been up for nearly 24 hours. I'm bushed.
Gotta get my beauty sleep for tonight!"
Gambit smiled and took her hand. "Ah, petite, you don'
need no beauty sleep, you much too beautiful now!"
"And you are full of it, M'siuer." Wonder why
he got dumped? The smile eased from her face "Are
you sure you're all right? Do you want to talk?"
What is it? Evr'ybody a shrink now? His smile was
quickly replaced by his 'poker face'. "T'anks, chere,
but I be fine. It just d'dog got t'me, dat's all."
She got up. "If that's all it is, okay. But if there's
something else, you can talk to me. Okay?"
"Oui, you be d'first one I call, Tory."
She smiled and started down the hall. Before she disappeared,
Gambit stopped her. "Do y't'ink I c'n borrow a key t'd'place?
I ain't gonna be able t'sleep no mo'. Might wanna go out f'a
"Sure. It's on a hook next to the 'fridge. Just don't
get lost; if you're not here when were ready to leave for
the game, we're not coming to find you!" With
a flirtatious smile and a 'here boy' to the dog, although
Gambit wasn't absolutely certain it was addressed, at least
in part, to him as well, she was down the hall and in her
Remy wandered over to the refrigerator, opened it and scanned
the contents. Finding what he was looking for, he closed the
door with his foot and turned toward the hallway that led
to the bathroom. With a quick flick of the wrist, he removed
the top from the beer and took a quick pull. He hoped it would
help ease his frayed nerves. It was definitely the dream that
was bothering him. He couldn't shake the nagging feeling that
it wasn't really a dream.
Walking back through the living room, he looked over at Logan.
The older man was no longer sleeping peacefully, but instead
was thrashing about on the loveseat. As he headed toward the
hallway, Gambit thought her heard Logan mumble the names 'Proudstar,'
'LeBeau,' and 'Sinister' in his now troubled sleep.
Great! Now I gotta worry 'bout dat too! When it gonna
end, LeBeau? Ain'tcha done payin' yet?"
Closing the bathroom door, he saw the apartment-sized clothes
washer and dryer next to the tub. He noted with satisfaction
that his clothes, and Logan's for that matter, were folded
neatly on the bathroom counter.
Taking a last drag from the cig, he threw the butt in the
toilet, where it was extinguished with a hiss. Taking a look
in the mirror, he saw that he was still dressed in the pink
robe. He took a quick hit off of the beer to steady himself,
then removed it. He quickly, and not a little sheepishly,
checked it for dampness, dirt, or any other clue that would
show if he'd really been in the woods that morning. To his
relief, he found none.
Y'losin' it, boy!
Still shaking, he started the shower. Idly, he hit the switch
that gave power to the exhaust fan. Testing the water, he
found that it was close enough to the proper temperature,
grabbed his beer (to Remy Etienne LeBeau one of life's greatest
pleasures was showering with a beer, but only when
other more 'suitable' company could not be secured) and got
As he washed himself, he decided he'd call the mansion after
he got dressed, just t'check t'ings out. For some reason,
he knew he wasn't going to like what he'd find.
Continued in Chapter
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