Remy frowns at the loop of string dangling from his fingers.
"You are not concentrating."
"T'ink you c'n do better, padnat?"
Ororo's long fingers elegantly lift the string from the Cajun's
wrists. He flinches at the slightest contact of her skin on
his. Storm's smile fades into sadness. Remy braces himself
as her fingers again brush his. Quickly, she loops the string
over and under, creating the beginnings of a cat's cradle.
He grunts, stretching the tight muscles of palm and fingers
to accomodate the formation. Ororo guides his fingers between
hers, creating the elaborate string sculpture. She beams.
"Ya up for a real challenge, Gumbo?"
Remy raises an eyebrow, mildly interested. Logan leads him
to another part of the Danger Room. In a mock attack set-up,
Wolverine turns and hands Remy a deck of cards. The Cajun
handles the pack, testing for dexterity by turning a card
over and under his fingers. Logan grunts approval. His claws
snap out, startling Remy. Wolverine catches the sudden, bitter
scent of fear from the Cajun.
"Easy program, Cajun. Just gotta keep the flying thingamajigs
from the wounded."
Logan barks out an order to the computer. Small, silver discs
come to life in the air around the two. Logan easily nails
his targets. Remy's first card lacks the necessary charge
to do any damage. The second leaves a distinct scorch on the
wall. Wolverine notes the results with quiet satisfaction.
At least Remy wasn't shying away from non-threatening targets.
Remy nods agreement. This time, his card strikes the target
squarely. He grins, a spark of his former self shining through.
A spark that quickly fades as he moves to the next site--and
finds Rogue. Remy lets loose with another card. It neatly
decapitates the Rogue cut-out. Scott, followed by Jean, enters
in time to see the resulting handiwork.
Remy smile disarmingly and executes a mocking bow.
"Jus' exercisin', mon capitan."
"The exercise was to protect the wounded!"
"Non. De exercise was to keep d'enemy from capturin'
"Gumbo's got a point."
Ororo rests her hand lightly on Scott's arm.
"Scott, it is not as if Gambit actually attacked Rogue.
I am certain he would have reacted appropriately if we were
truly engaged in combat. Is that not so, my friend?"
Remy feels a knot of guilt tighten his stomach at Storm's
Logan's grin vanishes. He shares a worried glance with Ororo.
There is no trace of humor in Gambit's words. No charming
demeanor to soften the meaning. Scott squares his shoulders
as he addresses Remy without fanfare.
"I want you to stop blaming Rogue for being left behind.
It wasn't Rogue's decision. It was mine."
"Y'ain't convincin' me."
"I wasn't willing to let Rogue take the risk to go back
for you. I made my decision knowing that I might be sending
you to your death."
Remy's muscles tighten. He shoves Scott's hand away from
"Worse t'ings den dyin', homme."
"What the hell were you thinking of to go off on your
own?! You're no better than Wolverine."
Logan growls softly.
"Watch it, bub."
Thought I was goin' t'save Roguie.
Remy snatches a pack from the sleeve of his costume and taps
out a single cigarette. The corner of his mouth curls as Scott's
face reddens in anger. The mansion is a no smoking zone. Thumb
flicks match, starting a spark. It's a small bit of defiance,
and Scott lets him get away with it. For the moment.
"Talk to me. I can handle it."
A sneer of contempt darkens Remy's face as he exhales, taking
care to direct the smoke towards Cyclops.
Scott's jaw hardens, he steels himself for the coming storm
as he forces this X-man to face up to his problems once and
for all and find a resolution.
"There's not a person in this room who hasn't suffered,
Remy takes a long drag from the cigarette. His eyes flick
dismissively over the others, pausing only a moment longer
when his gaze catches Logan's. He exhales, grasping some small
bit of pleasure from Scott's sudden fit of coughing.
"Birds of a feather, eh, mes amis? Not much comfort
a body be takin' in dat."
Jean places a hand on his shoulder. Remy immediately shrugs
her off, shirking from her as if burned by her touch. Reflexively,
she reaches out with her mind. Immediately, Remy shoves her
away. Anger flushes his face, brightens his eyes.
Logan steps protectively to her side, instinctively unsheathing
his claws with a cold, metallic snikt. Only Ororo knows
Remy well enough to understand that his simple gesture of
rubbing a thumb across his lower lip indicates feelings of
nervousness, of being trapped. Lightly, she places her hand
over Logan's, drawing his attention to the claws.
"Logan, this is not necessary. We are all family."
Although her gentle reprimand is directed to Logan, she faces
Scott, clearly letting him know of her displeasure. Logan
quietly retracts his claws. He studies Gambit for a long moment,
considers what he might say to the Cajun, then settles for
simply stepping back and giving him room to breathe. Scott
again turns to Remy.
"There's nothing you've been through that we can't cope
Remy drops the cigarette to the floor, snuffing the embers
into a gray smudge against the stark white tile.
Scott catches a glint of crimson in Gambit's eyes a moment
before the Cajun's lips lock onto his. He gags on the taste
Remy's foot sweeps Scott's legs. There is no subtlety, no
finesse. Only forced coercion as Scott feels his body slammed
without mercy against the hard floor. Jean moves to intervene,
but Wolverine stops her with a shake of his head.
"Cajun needs to work this out, darlin'."
"Is doin' what needs ta be done."
Remy straddles Scott's waist, forcing his thumbs into the
soft flesh of the older X-man's throat. It's an old trick
from the streets. Just enough pressure to keep the enemy down
without causing any real harm.
"How many times you been dragged out in de middle a
de night and raped?"
Scott's breath catches in his throat. When Rogue had warned
the X-men that Remy had been traumatized, he had expected
to discover torture and psychological abuse. But he had never
considered--never thought for a moment--of being subjected
to this humiliation. It's too close to what he suffered as
a child while being passed along from one foster home to another.
"Y'feel de blood rushin' to y'bones--y'heart poundin'.
Nothin' y'wan' more den t'be takin' me down, eh? C'mon den,
pretty boy. But t'ink a dis when you pullin' y'fist back--if
I was Genoshan an' I don' get what I wan' from you, de next
one I goin' for be Jean."
Scott stiffens as unfamiliar fingers caress his cheek, then
drop to his thigh. Remy's breath warms his neck even as his
voice sounds raspily in his ear. Even through his shock, Scott
registers the shimmer of tears dampening Gambit's eyes.
"Y'go t'sleep in de cold. Wake up in de dark. Y'find
y'self wonderin' who died last night. Not 'cause you care,
but 'cause it might mean another mouthful a food for y'own
belly. Y'take whatever pleasure y'can. Wherever y'can."
Remy's voice cracks.
"Y'be sellin' y'soul...for a peach."
Remy's thumbs press deeper, restricting Scott's breath. Scott
closes his eyes, struck by the sudden discovery that he shares
more with this man than he ever thought possible.
"But ev't'ing tres bien, 'cause you c'n handle
Scott's hands grasp Remy's wrists.
"I would have tried."
Remy's fist moves to backhand Scott's cheek, but Scott's
forearm blocks him. Thunder roars through the room with deafening
fury as Ororo's patience abruptly ends.
The air chills, frost forms. Still Remy maintains his hold
on Scott. Ororo concentrates, lowering the temperature further.
Remy lifts his eyes to hers. The shadow of his gaze reflects
the pain of what he has endured. Her paltry weather manipulations
barely register has discomforting annoyances. Even she is
not spared from the Cajun's brutal revelations.
"An' how well would you have done, chere, wakin'
up buried alive? Only it ain't jus' de lime burnin' y'throat.
Ain't just de grit a dirt on y'lips."
Unconsciously, Remy's voice assumes the subtle charm that
marks another expression of his mutant abilities. In the past,
he used it for engaging in trivial conversations with attractive
women. Once, it save Storm's life. Now, it draws her in, compelling
her own claustrophobia to resurface with startling clarity.
His eyes glaze over, remembering.
"It's de stench a the corpses thievin' de air from y'lungs."
Storm's face pales. She involuntarily takes a step towards
the exit. She watches, torn, as he struggles with demons beyond
her comprehension. What he has endured reviles her, debases
everything she has believed in regarding the sanctity of the
human soul. She had known he had suffered. She was not prepared
to have the details of how his body and spirit had been defiled
thrown into her face.
"Forgive me. I cannot--"
Storm runs out, flees from a harsh reality she cannot soften.
A comfort she cannot offer. Logan follows, concerned. Remy
stirs from his reverie, breaking the trance he has cast over
Scott takes advantage of the momentary distraction. It's
low-down and dirty, but he effectively uses Remy's own trick
against him. As Scott's lips brush Remy's, the Cajun recoils,
terrified. The temporary lapse provides the opening needed
for Scott to gain leverage. He takes Remy down, letting the
weight of his body pin the Cajun helplessly to the floor.
Remy's mind flashes back to the camps. He doesn't hear Scott's
words urging him to calm down, relax. The voices he hears
are sharper, taunting--whispered caresses echoing the rough
handling of skin against skin. He twists his upper body in
a futile attempt at release.
"Get OFFA me!"
"Not until you do what I tell you to and stop fighting
Remy feels bitter tears sting his closed eyes. It's too much.
The fragile facade cracks, releasing a torrent of memories
and emotions. His fist strikes the floor in helpless frustration.
"Dey didn' take me de second time. I went wit'
dem! Y'understan' dat? I let de Genoshans use me."
A sob escapes.
"Dey wasn't no choice...had t'think 'bout Nicola...an'
Tseidel...an' sure t'ing none a you was comin' for me."
Remy lifts bleak eyes to Scott. His quiet revelation breaks
"Den Rogue came."
His voice cracks with rough emotion. Scott feels Remy's body
tremble in frustration and eases his hold.
"She could'a eased de sufferin'. She could'a stopped
Scott's hand moves from Gambit's throat to rest lightly,
comfortingly, on his head. He shifts his body, pulling Remy
protectively against his chest. He feels the faintest tug
as the Cajun resists.
Scott holds him close, offering the comfort a father would
offer a son. Sharing the pain as closely as if they were brothers.
It doesn't matter that they are not related. For Scott Summers,
the X-men have always been as his own family, his own flesh
"I can handle it."
In the camps of New Genosha, Remy Etienne LeBeau surrendered
his body to survive. Here, in the Danger Room, one man offers
himself to salvage the soul of another. Greedily, Remy's hold
on Scott tightens, trying to cleanse the memories of Genosha
with the reality of this man's offer of protection and understanding.
"We'll work through it, Remy."
"You don' understan'--"
Another anguished gasp as Remy wearily sags against Scott.
"Dey wasn't nobody else gon' come for me."
Scott hesitates, wondering where this is leading.
Scott's breath catches in his throat. His eyes meet Jean's.
He wonders if his own face is as starkly pale as hers. He
wonders if her blood has gone as cold. Remy's fingers tighten
into childlike fists against Scott's chest. The Cajun curls
his body into a ball, losing himself in the protective embrace
Jean reads Scott's thoughts a moment before he acts. But
it is the resigned slump of his shoulders that tells all.
The steady, unwavering determination in his voice that reveals
that Scott Summers is not willing to place himself or his
team at further risk. Several weeks ago, Scott refused to
risk sending Rogue back to New Genosha to rescue Gambit. Now,
he refuses to remain openly vulnerable to the possibility
of an internal breach to the mansion's security through whatever
link Remy has with Sinister.
"This is to protect you as much as us."
Once again, Remy LeBeau's world capsizes. He watches, without
understanding, as Scott rises and steps away. He stares at
his own outstretched hand that remains untouched. Dimly, he
hears a man's voice activate the computer, engaging a limited
force field at specified coordinates. Bars of energy crackle
to life, confining the bewildered Cajun with blue columns
from floor to ceiling. The first flutter of panic rattles
An angry blur of white crosses his field of vision as Storm
returns in a fury, confronting Cyclops. Remy's plea is louder
as he forces himself from his knees to his feet.
And still, unanswered. He throws himself against the bars,
crying out as the field throws him back.
"I warned you he was unstable."
Wolverine, close behind Storm, growls.
"So we lock him up, throw away the key?"
"We'll discuss this outside, people."
With a cry, Remy again throws himself against the bars.
"He come for me once, homme! T'ink he won' be
comin' for me again?"
Scott studies Remy's eyes, trying to decide if the crimson
gleam reflects bravado--or fear. After a moment, he strides
over to Remy's makeshift cage. His voice is low, but steady.
"Are you threatening me?"
"What you t'ink?"
Scott sighs. A hundred thoughts run through his mind as he
studies the man before him. Scott Summers may have doubts
about what has been said, what has been implied, but he cannot
ignore another's pain. He tries to see what Storm and Rogue
see. Beneath the charming veneer, there is pain.
"You're a lost man, LeBeau."
Continued in Chapter
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