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Lessons Learned

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Lessons Learned

"Dere's got t' be a law against dis," Gambit muttered, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. Psylocke nodded her agreement.

"Angel, Iceman, Gambit and Psylocke versus Beast, Storm, Phoenix, Bishop, and Wolverine. Simple hide and seek. Angel and crew hide. The rest seek. You have one hour to find and hold them." The battlefield flickered to life.

"Great. Ruins. Where's a shopping mall when you need one?" Iceman asked.

"You get a ten minute head start," Scott informed them.

//Psylocke, you link. Gambit'll shield?// the Cajun suggested.

//Agreed.// She established the communications link as they scattered into the ruins. //Call in.//

//Here,// Angel answered.

//Ditto,// Iceman this time.


//All accounted for. Shielding?// Gambit followed her telepathic trails out and expanded his shields along them.

//Shields up.// Xavier frowned in the control room and Scott glanced at him.

"What's wrong, sir?"

"I can't sense any of the first team." Scott smiled.


Xavier was startled. "Explain."

"They're working as a team, then. Gambit's extending his shields to encompass the others. That was why we couldn't find Storm after he'd rescued her from the Shadow King."

Phoenix established a communications net as the ten minute light went off. //Problem, people. I can't sense them. We have to do this the old fashioned way. Bishop, Wolverine, track Gambit. We need to disable his shielding. Storm, go for Iceman, you should be able to sense the disturbance of the air around him if he's iced up. Beast, go high. Find Angel's perch. I'll find Psylocke. We can use that building as a holding pen.// Her team scattered.

//Iceman, can y' freeze somet'in' as small as a molecule?//

//I can try.//

//Freeze de paths we took den? Real thin so no one notices it? T' kill de scent.// Iceman took a deep breath and started with his own trail.

Wolverine stared after the familiar scent. He stopped suddenly. "Tricky little bastard," he muttered. He turned in a circle. //Watch high, Bish.// The large black man nodded.

I can do this, Phoenix told herself. She closed her eyes and submerged herself in the astral. Psylocke's usual forms were nowhere to be seen. Pink mist seemed to cling to her. She ignored it, and its messages, sure of the trap.

Angel took a quick look down at the scene. //Ange, go t' ground. Dey gonna look f' y' t' be perchin',// Gambit urged. Angel ignored the advice.

Storm frowned in confusion and took to the air to get a fuller view. No, she was right. Iceman's powers were scattered all over the ruins. A think layer of ice glinted off everything she could see.

Gambit launched himself into the air and landed lightly on the ground two alleys away from Wolverine. If he could just keep the scent trails confused, he'd be able to last out the hour. He spied Beast moving through the ruins towards the highest building. Stupid bird, he thought to himself. Psylocke chided him with a mental prod. He ran on silent feet through the streets, keeping to the shadows.

Beast moved resolutely towards the highest building still standing. He knew Angel would have hidden himself there. He just had to hide his approach from Warren's hawk eyes. //Storm, would you be so kind as to provide some fog for me?//

//Of course, Beast.// A thick fog rolled through the streets. Iceman smiled. That would be useful. Beast ducked through the arch of a broken doorway and quickly started to and up his target's building.

//Fly, Bird!// Gambit ordered. //M. Bete is comin' up de buildin'.//

There was no response. Angel was ignoring the thief.

//Iceman, can y' use de fog t' slick building?//

//Oui, oui, M.// Iceman joked. //Just like icing the front steps.//

//You boys are enjoying this too much,// Betsy informed them. Privately, she asked //Gambit, what have you done to Phoenix?//

//Stuck her in a maze usin' her frustration and arrogance against her.//

//Their link is still up, but she doesn't seem to be reacting.//

//Don' want t' tip dem off. 'sides, she's probably lookin' f' y' and dey won' disturb her.// he sense the figure more than saw it and back-flipped away from Bishop. He swung himself up the metal fire escape. I'm getting slow. Need to work out more. He moved across the roof. He figured Wolverine was on the other side of it, waiting for him. He heard Bishop on the ladder.

//Stairs or slide?// Iceman asked.

//Slide is faster.//

//Merci.// Gambit jumped off the side of the building. The slide formed under him, carrying him to Iceman's feet. //Run. Stormy's flyin'.// Gambit caught Iceman's shoulder in a brief thank you.

"Time." came Scott's announcement. The training rubble disappeared. Hank rubbed his posterior as he got to his feet. Storm alit next to Jean and frowned.

"Jean?'' She shook the woman's arm. Jean didn't respond. Xavier reached into her mind.


//Hello, sir.// He looked around her mindscape. They were surrounded by multi-faceted stained glass windows. There was a door forming in one of them. //Don't worry. I'll be right out.// She shook her head at the trap. //Beautiful work.//

//I'll see you soon.// Jean blinked awake. She smiled at Gambit.

//Nice trick.// Remy shrugged and looked away.

"Review in thirty, people," Scott told them. "Breakfast will be provided."


The team watched the first 15 minutes of the session. "Jean, why split up? And why those assignments?''

"I figured that Wolverine and Bishop wouldn't get hurt if Gambit used his charge. And of course, Wolverine's tracking abilities. Ro for Bobby because she can track his powers. Hank for Warren because he climbs the fastest. And me for Betsy. We split because they had and we only had an hour."

"Why split?" he asked Psylocke.

"Wolverine's nose," she replied. "Hopefully, at least one of us could evade capture if we split up."

"How did you shield the group?" Xavier asked.

"Gambit?" Psylocke prompted. He glared over his coffee at her.

"Gambit can shield conversations well enough. Remy just let de shieldin' follow all of de femme's connections." Gambit shrugged. Xavier let the subject drop.

The next fifteen minutes of the tape had a little more action. "First, Jean, what happened?"

"I got caught in a shielding trap," she said ruefully. "It was emotion based. I ended up trapping myself in my own mind."

"Bobby why did you ice the streets?"

"To eliminate the scent trails. Or try to at least. Gambit suggested t."

"Spread yer scent everywhere, Drake. Couldn't tell one track from the other."

"So you used me as camouflage? See if that slide actually shows up next time, Gumbo."

"If'n I'd told y' de whole trut' would y' have done it?"

"No way. I've got enough Logan bruises."

"Didn' have time t' convince y'." Remy shrugged.

"Manipulative bastard," Warren muttered.

"Well, he saved your ass in there," Bobby snapped irritated by Warren all of a sudden. "I didn't see Hank doing his Kong imitation until Gambit asked me to slick the building up."

"Hank was climbing up the building?"

"We'll get to that in a moment," Scott interrupted. "Storm, what was the problem with tracking Bobby?"

'The ice was everywhere, not just in one location and there was no way to trace it back to him. At least not from the ground."

"What were you planning, Betsy?"

"I was going to take out Storm, but only if she were on the ground."

"Why only on the ground?"

"I don't relish the idea of my bed exploding," she said dryly. "With Jean out of commission, no one could have eased her fall. I did not want to alert them to the fact that she was non-functional." She shrugged. "I decided to try my hand at some illusions to distract Bishop and Wolverine."

"Isn't that a lot to be doing at once? The net, the trap, illusions, keeping ahead of your pursuers," Scott asked curiously.

"You're laboring under a mistaken assumption," Betsy stated. "It was Gambit's trap, not mine." Time seemed to freeze.

"Gambit's trap?" Xavier questioned.

"Yes," Psylocke said calmly. She frowned at the room. "It is merely an extension of his shielding," she informed them. "I don't see why you are so surprised. He admitted he was an empath."

"An empath can mess with your head like that?" Bobby asked, looking at Remy suspiciously.

Betsy frowned. "That trap would only work on someone with psi potentials and only if they were as stubborn as Jean. His shields reflect back psi probes. The trap was a similar method, only utilizing emotions. He created the outlines and Jean's mind filled in the rest. In fact, I think it might need to be tailor made to work?" She glanced at Gambit who was absorbed in his coffee. She kicked him under the table.

"Ouch. What'd I do t' deserve dat?"

"Tell them how the trap worked."

"Merde," he sighed. "Well, it's sorta like de end of Man of la Mancha when dey surround Don Quixote wit' de mirrored shields. All de energy she put out cemented does shields an' trapped her inside."

"They *were* pretty though." Jean shrugged. "I got caught because I didn't listen to the voices in the mist that told me to go back. I thought *they* were the trap, not the bait."

"Dat's so not subtle, chere." Remy rolled his eyes at her. "Not m' style."

They reviewed the rest of the tape. "Bishop, Logan, how did you get a tail on Gambit?"

"Bish recognized the strategy from one of the Witness' lessons or somethin'. Figured if we got ahead of him, we'd catch 'em. Then, Warren here, gave us a distraction. Gumbo stopped fer a few t' look at Worthington's perch. That let us get into position. Didn't figure on the popsicle givin' him another way down."

"Why did you stop, Gambit?" Scott asked.

"T' see where Henri was headin' an' give Bobby a read on it." Remy shrugged.

"Why?" Warren asked.

"Because y' wouldn' leave y'r perch an' Bete was climbin' de side t' catch y'." Remy scowled. "Watch de damn tape again if'n y' don' believe m'."

The rest of the discussion when smoothly and the meeting broke up around ten.


Gambit collapsed onto his bed with a groan. His head was throbbing. All he wanted to do was sleep.

Jean was trying to show Xavier how the trap worked and got more and more frustrated when the concepts fled form her grasp.

Scott confirmed with Kitty that getting the layouts the next day was no trouble at all.

Logan tagged Betsy for a sparring session with Warren as referee.

Bobby vacuumed the den, dining room, library and parlor before starting the rest of his chores.

Hank frowned at the confirmed DNA sequencing.

Ororo and Bishop discussed the latest remodeling plans.

All in all it was a typical day. Especially when Juggernaut pounded on the front door, dressed in a somber blue suit.

Jean glared at the large mutant. "Go. Away."

"Phoenix, shame on you. Turning away a guest. I'm just here to see my brother." He spat the last work out like a curse.

//Let him in, Jean. Bring him to my office.//

//Fine.// "Follow me and don't knock anything down. We just got it fixed up from the last time there was a prank war."

"Aren't we in a charming mood today, Mrs. Summers."

"Don't mess with me today." She opened Xavier's door.

"Fine. Charles and I have some business to take care of. So..." Jean snorted. She slammed the door behind herself.

"She's having a bad day," Xavier commented. "Where are the damn papers? I thought we settled this years ago."

"So did I."


Gambit realized he was half-conscious when he opened his eyes to a room that didn't exist outside of his own mind. He sighed and went to answer the door.

//Oui, M. Essex?// he sighed. Sinister clucked at him.

//Your manners get worse every time I see you, son.//

//Good day, sir. Would you like to come in, sir?// Remy mocked the scientist's accent.

//Why, yes. Thank you.//

//Do we got t' play de diplomacy game t'day?//

//You're fatigued.// Sinister frowned. //Very well. There is a stress fracture beginning to show in your shields. It need immediate repair. We have other matters to discuss.// Sinister held out a hand and Gambit took it. They arrived at the cracking shield. It was bulging out. //What does this sector contain?//

Remy check the mark on the mirror. //C-2. Bad stuff. Bad memories.// He shrugged. //Most of dem do, y' know. Lemme go in an' check.// Gambit slipped behind a solid shield to view the memories. They were blocked off from view. He returned to Sinister's side. //Don' know. Can't see de memories. Dey're blocked off.// Sinister frowned.

//Will you allow me to erect a temporary wall until this one is fixed?//

Gambit didn't like the idea of Sinister creating a wall in his mind, but he gave in. He hadn't had a problem with any of Sinister's handiwork yet. Sinister created a wall and aligned it with the shield.

//Remove the panel. Now.// Gambit did so and Sinister's block glowed red in its place. Remy summoned the block to the front. The shield was nearly eaten through.

//Bon Dieu.// He immediately smoothed it into a uniform plane. It was so thin that it frightened him. He wove new layers of energy to line it with, until it was solid once more and fit it into place. //Dat's de only layer over dis area? Merde. Gotta work on dat.//

//Yes, you do. The other matters. It is time for your physical.//

//Bete just done one.//

//Did he give you your shots?//


//Tetanus booster. MMMR booster.//


//If you haven't received them in two days, I will do it myself. Do I make myself clear?//

//When y' want t',// Remy quipped.

//LeBeau,// Sinister warned.

//Oui, M. Essex. And de last ding?//

//Call Crow and Creed.//

//Oui, M.//

//Go rest.// Sinister patted the younger man's head as he would a puppy's.

//After y' leave.// Sinister chuckled and teleported away.

"Merde," Remy said opening his eyes.


"You wanted to see me, Slim?" Warren asked. Scott looked up from his current report for the professor.

"Oh, yes. Sit down," Scott waved a hand towards the chairs. Warren swung one of the armless chairs around and straddled it, his metal wings glinting in the light.

"So what's up?"

"What do you know about PR firms?" Worthington blinked.

"Well," he said after a pause, "if you have a good one, it can make all the difference. It depends on what you need to accomplish."

"Uh," Scott said suddenly uncomfortable. "I've been working on a campaign and I need some target numbers."

"Oh, then you need a market research group, not PR."

"What's the difference?" Warren smiled. Scott had never asked him something in his field before.


"What's got ya so tight, Red?" Logan asked kneading her tense shoulders.

"I don't know. Yes, I do know. I... I just found out that my mentor doesn't know everything. I know it's stupid. Professor X is just a man, but..." Logan's fingers dug into a nasty knot.

"But what, Darlin'?"

"He's the most powerful telepath on the planet, but he can't figure out the trap set by a kid less than half his age." Logan let that simmer as he stroked down her back.

"That ain't the problem is it?"

"He's just a man," she whispered.

"Not a super-hero, huh?"

"He's fallible. He's stubborn."

"He's human?" Jean bit her trembling lip and a tear ran down her cheek. Logan pulled her up and into his lap.

"God, Logan, he could die!"

"He's mortal, Darlin'. He will." She sobbed on his shoulder.


Hank peered into Gambit's room through the cracked door. The Cajun was at his writing desk. The doctor knocked on the door. "Oui? Come in." Remy looked over his shoulder. "M. Bete?" Hank shut the door behind himself.

"I wanted to discuss the findings of the genetic tests I ran." Remy sighed and capped his pen. He turned.

"Sit down den, Henri." Hank settled on the still faintly warm bed. Hank took a moment to gather his thoughts. The thief waited patiently.

"According to the Shi'ar records you aren't human."

"Oui, M. Remy, he's a mutant." Hank shook his head.

"According to the DNA records I found, you're a thoroughbred." Remy looked at his fingers, then turned to look down his back.

"Well, I got de mane, but I don' see no tail or hooves."

"I'm explaining this badly," Hank said ruefully.


"When Lilandra gifted us with the advanced medical equipment, it was already filled with a DNA database. I have been expanding it. When I ran your sequences through I received and unusual result. For the first time, the results came back indicating a sequence base that was not human."

"Y' sayin' Gambit's a starchild?" Remy frowned.

"No, my friend, you are from Earth. But your DNA is from a species that predates humans. I cannot pronounce the Shi'ar word." He handed Gambit a copy of the results. "You are 1/8 human." The thief's eyes widened at the sight of the results.

"M. Bete, Remy, he's got a theory, but he can't tell y' about it yet. If'n I get y' a blood sample, y' run it wit'out knowin' where it came from?"

"Of course. That would be a very good idea actually. It is possible that there is a lab contaminant, however. I'll run a sample from Bobby first to evaluate it."

"Remy'll do dat den. Dere's somet'in' else y' could do f' moi."

"Yes, my friend?"

"Need a couple of booster shots."

Hank blinked. "Come down to the lab with me and we'll see what we have."


Ororo hummed to herself as she watered the plants scattered through the house. It was a sweet, sad melody. She was surprised when she heard a voice singing along with the tune. It was a deep, resonate, baritone. She turned, watering can in hand. "Are those the words?" she asked. "It's beautiful, Bishop." It was obvious that the man had been unaware of what he was doing.

"I didn't mean to disturb you, Storm," he apologized.

"You are not disturbing me, my friend." She smiled at him. "I think your voice is exquisite." Bishop blinked.

"I need to go check the blackbird supplies," he said quickly. "Excuse me."

"There is nothing wrong with a compliment, Bishop!" Storm called out after him.


Bobby sneezed as the dust bunny under the TV stand attacked him.


Logan stroked Jean's back firmly, with less comfort in mind this time. Jean shifted against him, pressing a kiss under his jaw. She kissed down his neck. Her tongue darted under the collar of his shirt to lap at the skin there. His arms tightened around her. She worked her way back up to his mouth.

She pressed a gentle kiss to his lips, then to his cheeks and forehead. She ran her fingers down his sideburns, loving the feel of the short hair under her fingertips. She sat between his spread legs and stroked the body warmed flannel that covered his chest.

He slid his hands up under the sweatshirt she'd "borrowed" from Scott's closet years ago. She kissed him. Her tongue darted between his parted lips. She pressed her tongue to one of his sharp incisors, whimpering as she purposefully cut it, filling his mouth with the flavor of his blood. He growled. He loved the taste of her. He flipped her onto her back and straddled her. His ran his fingers up under the front of the shirt. He wanted to shred it off of her, but it was her favorite. He pushed it up and over her head. She tossed it on the floor, sitting up under him and attacking his flannel shirt as he ran his fingers along the back of her bra and released her breasts. She shoved the shirt down his arms and shook off the bra. She shivered as the calluses of his fingers brushed along her skin, drawing the blood up to the surface. He kissed her again, forcefully, sucking on her tongue until she was moaning for more than air.

She gripped his thighs tightly as he pulled away from the kiss, with a little tug on her lip. Her fingers cupped his erection through his jeans and she felt him swell under the caress. She smiled evilly at him and leaned back to rest on her elbows. She arched her back. The hollow of her throat called to him and he bent to suck at it. He gloried in the taste of her and moved down her body, nipping at her ribs and then sucking at her navel. One hand slid under her back and held her up to him. He unsheathed the claws of his other hand. He traced down her sternum and over her breasts with the flat of his claws. She shivered as the body warmed metal touched her. He carefully slit the seams on her jeans from her hips to her thighs and folded the fabric down until he could see the red lace she wore. She smiled and he slit the silky fabric. He pulled it off slowly. She licked her lips and wrapped her arms around his neck. "No more condoms," she whispered. "Just take me, damn it." She felt the rush as her words hit him. He always loved it when she cursed.

He growled deep in his throat and kissed her again. He felt her open his fly without her hands and smiled into her mouth. She shrugged at his mental classification of her "parlor trick" on his rating scale. //They can't all be fancy.// She surged into the kiss, fighting him for ownership of it. With the judicious application of TK and feminine charms she got him onto his back. He slit open the crotch of her jeans and she settled on him almost as soon as the fabric parted. "You feel so fucking good, Wolvie," she purred at him. Her hair hung wild around her head as he placed her hands on his chest. She hooked her fingers into the wealth of chest hair there and lifted herself up once, and then back down onto him. "Fuck me, Logan. Now," she ordered and his hips started to move. He caught her wrists as she arched back and he struck deep in her. She moaned. Her nails bit into the backs of his hands. "Harder, you bastard." He growled and thrust hard enough to lift her knees off of the bed. "Yes. More, you fucking asshole." He moved harder and faster until she was truly riding up and down on his thrusts. She came, her body clamping around him. He followed her into her orgasm. She fell across his chest. "Damn that was good," she murmured in his ear.


"Scotty? Y' busy?" Remy asked, holding up a beer. Scott grinned at him.

"Not for that." He put out a hand and took the offered beer. He let the thief settle in his lap and went back to printing out articles for the professor, who still refused to use the computer for anything other than email or word processing.

"Y' remember dat lil' talk we ain't never had about secrets?"

"Yeah." Scott looked up at the younger man, who was carefully looking anywhere but at Scott, despite the fact that their faces were mere inches apart.

"Well, Remy's been imaginin' what dat lecture might sound like. And he's been dinkin' dat mebbe it's time he tol' y' a few dings, bein' as y' de leader an' y' should know."

"And right now you're fairly certain I won't beat you." Remy snickered. There was an edge of nervousness attached to it though. Scott tightened his arm around the Cajun's waist briefly. "So what's up?"

"He's here."

"Shit. How do you know?"

"I've... spoken with him, I suppose you could say." Scott's brows rose. "What? You didn't think I could go without the accent? Christ, there's so much. And I don't even know why I started dis. Best t' move to the couch I think." Scott nodded and they settled on the couch. "Start wit' M. Essex. He's communicated wit' me twice now. My shields aren't up to his standards an' he's been making sure they stay strong. I'm gonna lock de door." Remy stood and locked the office door carefully. He turned on Scott's work mix as he passed the library.

"You are paranoid."

"Non, cher, they're really out t' get me," Remy replied, taking his seat again. He drew his legs up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them. Scott let his arm lie along the back of the couch, so that Remy could grab hold of his hand if he thought he should. "I need y'r word, Scotty. None of dis is for de rest of de team. Not even Professor X." Scott took a moment to think.

"You have my word. On Jean's life."

"Okay. I'll accept that. First, Sinister's here. He's watchin' me at the very least. Probably you too, but at the moment, he's been checkin' up on me. It's been a year since I saw him last." Scott nodded.

"Fine. We'll tighten security." Gambit laughed bitterly.

"Ain't a system on de market dat good."

"Sort of like trying to keep you in after curfew." Gambit grinned at him briefly.

"Second, well, dere's somethin' going on with my shields dat I'm gonna need Jeannie's help with, I think. Den, well, um."

"Just spit it out. It can't be that bad."

"I'm de Prince of de Thieves Guild an' I'm gonna have t' take over when mon pere decides t' step down?" Scott blinked. "Ranked third in de world. After mon pere an' one other? I speak seven languages fluently? Just tell me when t' stop."

"Time out. One thing at a time okay?" Gambit nodded. "First, is Sinister going to cause trouble?"

"Non. I don' think he will. He's jus' checkin' up on his investments."

"Shields, is this an immediate problem?"

"Non, they'll hold for a few."

"Third in the world?"

"Oui," Remy said as he blushed.

"Well, fuck me."

"Just tell m' when."

"Brat." Remy shrugged. Scott took a long moment to think. "Is there anything that is immediate?"

"Non, not dat I can dink of."

"Then let's make a deal. You just tell me anything you think I need to know." Gambit looked at him and smiled shyly.

"Y' mean it?" he asked in relief.

"Yes." Scott held out his hand. "Your past is your past. But if you think of it. Tell me *before* it becomes a crisis, okay?"

Remy snickered. He took the offered hand. "Deal. Y' know I'm married, right? Y' know she's an assassin?"

"I've met the woman."

"Good. Just remindin' y'. She ain't gonna be happy about dis, I don' dink."

"Like you've been faithful since you left?"


Scott blinked. "Banished?"

"Oui. Killt Belle's brother an' dey banished m' from Nawlins."

"Why did you kill him?" Scott asked calmly.

"Because he challenged m' t' a duel over Belle's honor. He wanted t' marry her."

"Okay. Self defense."


Scott nodded and gave the younger man's hand a squeeze. "How are you on internet research?"

"Fairly good. Why?"

"I need to find something for Charles."


Jean blinked awake and stared at the clock. "Oh, shit. We missed dinner, Logan."

"So, we can cook."

"It was my turn to make it."

"And no one woke ya up." Logan took a deep breath, searching through the scents still in the air. "Brandy pudding? Someone's kissin' up. Don't worry, Red. Cajun saved yer ass. Yer gonna owe him though."


Warren smirked at Jean and Logan when they came into the kitchen. He was up to his elbows in suds. "Well look who's here. And how have you two been? You owe me, Jean," he informed her. "Gambit makes a complete fucking mess of the kitchen when I'm on dish duty. That's why I clean up after Jean on normal rotation."

Jean blushed. "Sorry, Wings." Logan rustled around in the refrigerator. He grinned. There were two neatly labeled plates. He snorted and shook his head pulling them out.

"Hey, Red. Heat these up and I'll get the silver."

She took the plates and went popped them into the microwave. Warren finished the dishes and left them to dry on the rack. "We're watching 'Star Wars' tonight if your interested. I should warn you that the Cajun has stocked the den with enough snacks that we won't have to leave until next week."


Logan was at the receiving end of several odd looks. "I still say he's too short," Bobby contended. "Hank makes a much better candidate."

"Bobby's right, cher. An' Herni's got de fur," Remy added.

"But Hank won't tear off your arm," Scott contradicted.

"True," Warren mused, "unless you were the one that touched his last experiment." Scott considered that argument.

"But Logan's the one that growls," Scott shot back.

"But he's too short," Bobby said again. Logan's eyes narrowed.

"What the..."

"He is not Chewie," Jean said firmly. "Hank is Chewie."

"Fine. The woman has spoken. The matter is closed."

Betsy snickered at Warren's pronouncement.

"Next matter to be hashed out. Professor X. Emperor or Obi Wan?" Warren called the vote.

"Depends," Bobby started.

"Emperor," Gambit said in a voice that shut out any arguments.

"What?" Scott said in surprise. "I know you don't *like* him, but..."

"Emperor. He'll lead y' into Hell by y'r own good intentions."

"Does that mean Cable's Luke?" Bobby asked. That broke the team up into laughter.

"On that note," Warren said, "Betsy and I are driving in to town tonight, so we'll have to say goodnight." They left. Bobby was betrayed by a yawn and soon followed suit. Hank shook his head.

"The young have no stamina," he stated. "Goodnight, my friends."

"Night, Hank," Scott responded. He glanced around the den. Bishop and Storm were no where to be seen. Not exactly surprising, considering that neither of them enjoyed sci-fi movies. "Ah, well, and I was hoping for a rousing argument over casting for Han Solo." He was idly stroking Remy's hair, as he had for most of the evening. Logan leaned over the back of the couch and spoke softly into Scott's ear.

"I figure we could find ya somethin' just as interestin' upstairs."

"After we clean up," Scott promised.

Jean rolled her eyes to the sky. "Why on earth did I fall for a neat freak?" Remy blinked at her.

"What do y' mean, chere? Just good policy t' put dings back so y' can find dem wit'out dinkin'." Logan stared.

"Don't tell me ya agree with him."

"Won't take dat long, cher. An' y' already had an interestin' day," Remy pointed out. "Just take de bowls and dings out t' de kitchen. Remy'll get de glasses." Gambit stretched. He'd been sitting in the same place for nearly two and a half hours, just to see if he still had the skill. The problem was, that he was feeling twitchy. He hadn't spent enough time training today. He shook his head at his internal nag. It sounded suspiciously like Creed actually. He hated that more than anything.

Jean frowned slightly at Remy's back as he gathered up the glasses. "What's wrong with your shields?" she asked. He jerked upright.

"What y' talkin' on?"

"They're glowing red."

"Oh. Dat'll fade. Happens every once and awhile." When Essex is shielding me, he added to himself. Shit. Shit. Shit. Logan brushed past the younger man as he went to the kitchen. He turned and followed him in and Scott restrained Jean with a hand. Scott shook his head at the telepath.

"He'll tell us in his own time," he told her gently. "You can't pull things like that. I keep telling you. He was used, Jean. He doesn't like being coddled like that. Logan can talk some sense into him."

"I've never seen his shields do that."

Scott snorted. "Red, you've only been studying his shields for six months. Those took a hell of a lot longer to be developed. Maybe it's just a phase, like he implied. A build up of energy or too many emotions at once." He brushed her jaw with his fingertips. "Stop worrying." He leaned in to kiss her gently.


"Hey, kid, what's up?" Logan asked, putting a gentle hand in the middle of the Cajun's back as he set the glasses into the sink. Remy took a deep breath and let it go.

"Nothin' t' worry on," Gambit told him. Wolverine shook his head. He stepped closer and felt the younger man's muscles tense under his hand.

"Ya can't lie to me, Darlin'."

"Nothin' t' worry on t'night. De mornin's soon enough." Logan snorted.

"Fine. But ya ain't gonna be runnin' away this mornin'. Got it?"

"Oui, cher." Remy dropped a quick kiss to Logan's forehead.

"And yer gonna bring yer own clothes tonight." Gambit snickered. "So when ya movin' in?" The thief suddenly stiffened.

"I ain't gonna do dat."

"Sure ya are. Ya just don't know it yet." Logan gave him a quick squeeze. "How much clean up ya plannin' to do tonight?"

"Just gonna get de dings back into de cupboards." Remy turned out of the light grip Logan was maintaining on his waist. Wolverine shook his head.


"Jean, just let it go," Scott said firmly. "If he wants to talk, he will."

"How can you be so sure? After being able to hide his past for so long? After needing to hide it for so long? How can you know what he'll do?"

"Because he out of the blue told me several things today that I don't think he'd have told me last week. Just trust me on this one, Red."

"Okay, I'll hold you to that. If his shields don't stop glowing, I'm going to force things."

"Fine. Do that. Just make sure it's in the Danger Room."

"Make sure what's in the Danger Room?" Logan asked as he came back into the den, practically dragging the thief behind him.

"When Jean and Remy decide to actually fight about something."

"Good idea. Might save some of the china."

"Y' t'row dings, chere?" Remy asked with a smirk.

"Throw? No, that's too kind a word," Scott informed him. "She launches things with her TK."

Remy winced. "Ouch."

"Yeah. We've been through three sets of plates."

"Planning to make it four, Slim?" Jean snapped, eyes flashing. Remy just snickered at them. She turned on him. He decided he liked her eyes running with little flames like that. It was almost like the lightening in Storm's eyes when she got pissed. "And you, young man, have no idea what I..." He kissed her and she squeaked. Her eyes lost their angry edge as he carefully smothered every part of her anger with plain old-fashioned lust. She stared at him with dilated eyes as he stepped back. Scott gave him a polite round of applause. The thief stuck out his tongue.

"Brat." Logan scooped Jean off of her feet and she squealed.

"Hey! Put me down. I can walk you know."

"Shut up, Red," Logan grinned and started up towards his room. "Ya comin'?" he snapped over his shoulder and Scott sighed. He followed them. Gambit split off to grab some things from his room. He really couldn't believe he was planning on falling asleep in Logan's bed again. He turned Rogue's picture to lie flat on the dresser. He looked at himself in the mirror.

"This is your last chance, Remy. Back out now, or you're in for the long haul," he informed himself. "But that's what I wanted. With Belle, with Rogue. Hell, with Sinister's team." He punched the mirror, shattering it, not even sure why he did it. "You're loosing it, LeBeau," he said flatly. "Now, get your things and get going before they send out a search party to drag you in there." He grabbed his clothes and went to Logan's room.

Scott locked the door behind the thief. "Thought you were going to bunk on us. Just so you know, we would have hunted you down," he added mildly before kissing the Cajun. He held him in the kiss until he heard a small whimper. He sucked at Remy's lower lip as he pulled back a bit. The thief's eyes were closed and he leaned in for another kiss. Scott smiled smugly. He took the pile of clothes and set it on the carved chest. Gambit seemed to shake himself awake as Jean crooked her finger at him. He went to where she was on the bed. He captured her lips in a gentle kiss. Logan's hands slid around the Cajun's waist and striped him of his pants. Remy slipped his hands under Jean's shirt and was surprised when he found that she wasn't wearing a bra. He ran his fingers over her nipples. She dragged his mouth to hers for a long, deep kiss. Her fingers cupped his erection gently.

"Don't think so much," she whispered into his ear. He blinked at her.

"Y' know. Dat's de one ding I don' dink I've ever heard before." He dipped his head to suckle at the side of her neck. Logan caught Scott by the back of the neck and kissed him familiarly.

"So what's the plan, boss?" he asked, thumb moving in a gentle stroking along the younger man's spine.

Scott kissed Logan's wrist. "I'm going to play it by ear." He lapped at the salty skin, taking in the flavor of Logan eagerly. He touched nowhere else. He felt the man's pulse on the tip of his tongue. It sped up as he made sure the small patch was completely cleaned. Every touch of Scott's tongue seemed to fly down Logan's nerves to his groin. Logan was completely unaware of his breathing increasing or his eyes dilating in pleasure.

//You're bad, Remy,// Jean told him as his hand slid between he legs and his tongue slid into her mouth. His fingers and tongue started a matched rhythm and she moaned into his kiss.

Scott's tongue moved slowly down to the palm of Logan's hand. He swirled it around the little hollow that the curve of Logan's palm made. "Christ, Slim. Yer killin' me here." Scott snorted in disbelief at that comment. He sucked on Logan's thumb and the Canadian groaned. "Who taught ya to torture yer lovers?" Logan demanded in a husky voice.


"Oh. Fuck."

"Soon, Babe." Scott bit between Logan's thumb and forefinger. Logan yelped. Scott grinned wickedly at him. He glanced over at the bed where Jean was shivering in Remy's arms. He knew that look well. He raised a brow. "Okay, so maybe those plans are going to have to change."

Jean was soaring. She couldn't feel anything but the fingers that played her body like a violin and the tongue that possessed her mouth. She shivered and shuddered and her body bowed up into a sharp arch as she climaxed. That was enough for her and she slipped into a semi-conscious daze. She felt herself being settled gently onto the bed and slipped further away from reality.

Remy pouted at his lovers. "She's sleepy." Scott snickered at that. He wandered to the bed to look down at his wife. He gently shifted her over to the edge of the bed.

"Now, now, don't pout," Scott chided, running his thumb over Remy's lips. The Cajun cocked his head to the side and widened his eyes. Scott leaned in close. "I'm going to have those lips around my cock soon, boy," he stated. He was pleased to hear the hitch in Remy's breathing. Logan had stripped and set to work on Scott's clothes. Remy's tongue slipped out to wet his lips as he watched Logan take control. Logan's hands were broad and thick, much like the rest of him. His fingers stroked along the edge of Scott's ribs and over the muscles of his stomach to settled authoritatively on the erection that tented Scott's jeans. He placed a kiss on Scott's back and the field leader shivered. Suddenly, the thick fingers shot up to the frames of Scott's glasses and pulled them off. "Jesus fucking Christ, Logan!" Scott hissed, eyes squeezed painfully closed. "Warn me, asshole." Logan calmly held the glasses out to Remy who stared at them as if they would bite him. Logan glared at him with icy blue eyes and the thief hesitantly took them and set them on the bedside table. "Logan," Scott hissed again, "give them back."

"No way, Cyke," Logan informed him.

Remy stood. He brushed his fingers along the high cheekbones. He concentrated on stroking gently until the tension was gone and Scott's eyes were merely closed. Scott caught one of the hands and pressed a kiss to the palm. Remy looked down, uncomfortably. He felt painfully shy all of a sudden. Scott's grip tightened and his head cocked to the side as if seeking something. Slowly, carefully, he settled his other hand on Remy's shoulder and moved along the collar bone, to cup the younger man's head. He drew Remy's lips to his and kissed him carefully. His fingers rubbed up and down the column of muscle on Remy's throat. The Cajun gave himself up into the kiss, eyes drifting closed.

Logan smiled to himself as his slicked his cock and then carefully probed Scott's ass with thick callused fingers. Scott trembled beneath the touch and Logan reminded himself to go slowly. It was rare, but Scott still pulled away at times, as skittish as the first night they'd kissed. He felt Scott relax into his touch and smiled. It was a feral smile this time, his fangs glinting in the light of the bedside lamp and the filtered moonlight.

Remy could sense the fear in Scott's kiss and did his best to soothe it. Reaching out drew him away from his own concerns. He swaddled the fear carefully in warmth and it faded. He felt Scott's fingers tighten on the back of his skull and hold him closer. Remy's hand was released and Scott's other hand settled in the small of Remy's back. The thief whimpered lightly as their cocks touched in a starburst of heat against rapidly warming skin.

Remy tasted sweet. Scott kissed him tenderly, somehow knowing that there was still a possibility of the younger man bolting. Maybe not right then, but before the warmth of the sun woke them in the morning. Logan's fingers stretched him and he wondered why he'd ever tensed at the gentle touch. Logan's hands settled on his hips and guided him down to his knees. He was loathe to give up the sweetness of Remy's mouth, but eased back a bit. The thief's hands stroked over his chest in gentle, exploring circles. Gambit followed his mouth down.

Logan carefully positioned Scott over him and pulled him gently onto his lap and onto his rod. Scott moaned low in his throat and his fingers clenched tight against Remy's skin. Remy's fingers soothed the trembling stomach. As Scott was settled firmly in Logan's lap, Logan reached out and placed a hand on Remy's thigh. The red eyes focused on his face. Logan's teeth glittered whitely and he ran one hand over Scott's cock. Scott arched up into the touch, then settled back, with a moan. Gambit's grin widened. He carefully worked his way down Scott's chest with his tongue. Scott's hand encouraged the movement until he was lapping at the tightening, velvet balls. Scott stroked Remy's hair to keep from forcing him down. Logan's hands held Scott tight to his thighs.

Logan bit the join of Scott's shoulder and neck and Scott's head fell back to Logan's shoulder. He gave in to the dual sensations. He thrust into the moist warmth of Remy's mouth, then flexed back onto the stiff heat of Logan's cock. He wrapped a hand around the back of Logan's head to keep his mouth in place. Logan sucked hard at the spot, until Scott could feel the bruise blossoming. He felt the smug smile spreading across his face. His fingers tangled in the short hair at the back of Logan's head. Logan's hips were beginning to move. Scott was riding a wave of heat. Logan's hands took control of Scott's hips. The sharp push of Logan drove deep into him. He tried to arch up and the warm heat around his cock was gone. He moaned, "More. Please." Logan's fingers tightened. The clever tongue pressed to his slit, carrying away the traces of pre-cum that were glistening there.

Logan's thrusts became more firm and deep and fast. Scott was flying. The gentle tongue lapped at his length. He felt his balls tightening. He was so close. Then, his cock was surrounded by firm, slick, suction and he came, hard. His muscles clenched around Logan's cock and Logan grunted emptying himself into the tight channel. His teeth clamped down and he tasted blood.

Remy milked the last of Scott's come out of his cock. He lapped at the softening member gently cleaning it. He felt Logan's hand in his hair, lifting his head up. Logan's lips tasted like blood. The tangy metallic flavor made him whimper into the kiss. His hand slipped down towards his own aching cock. Scott's hand beat him there, covering the proud flesh comfortingly. Logan held the Cajun firmly in the kiss as Scott's fingers worked up and down the hard cock. Logan swallowed the cry as Remy came in Scott's hand. Remy's head dropped to Scott's shoulder as soon as he was released. He lapped at the oozing bite there and Logan's brow furrowed. The Cajun looked up at him and licked his lips with a lazy smile. Scott's hand came up to cradle the back of his head. Hours, minutes, seconds later, they were of one mind to sleep.

The transfer to the bed was made slowly. Remy settled against Jean's side, eyes already drooping. Scott lay half-way over him, head resting on the solidly muscled chest. Logan switched off the light and settled next to Scott, drawing Scott's arm to lie over his chest. Logan listened to the slowing breathing of his lovers and slept.