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Warnings: Mature themes throughout the story, dealing with rape, torture and the psychological traumas of imprisonment in a concentration camp. Sexually explicit scene in Chapter 23.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Author's Notes



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.

Wolverine snorts.

"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.

"That's ENOUGH!"

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' de wounded."

Logan snickers.

"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 unwavering devotion.

"Anyt'ing possible."

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 his shoulder.

"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.

"T'ink so?"

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."

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 with."

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 of tobacco.


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 it, non?"

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 the room.


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 me!"

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'' sure t'ing none a you was comin' for me."

Remy lifts bleak eyes to Scott. His quiet revelation breaks Jean's heart.

"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 it all."

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 and blood.

"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.

"...jus' Sinister..."

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 of another.

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 his chest.


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 20.


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