Actions

Work Header

Scars They Gave Us

Chapter Text

 

 

                Silence, except for the crunch of snow beneath his feet and the sound of his own heavy breathing. Wolverine stood stock still, just surveying the landscape around him, breathing deep and watching the fog of his breath swirl in front of his face in the freezing air.

                Four feet of snow and more on the way for Westchester New York. The roads were all but abandoned, not that there were many along this particular stretch of country. The Xavier School was strategically placed that way, set back among acres and acres of woodland land along a lonely stretch of highway at the farthest corners of the town itself.

                Logan had gotten to know intimately all two hundred acres of woodland beyond the mansion in the two years he had been with the X-Men. It wasn’t such a long stretch of time, but…there were days it felt like he had always been here, among these people, these souls, strange as they were.

                Taking a couple loping steps forward he crouched upon a boulder upon a steep incline that gave him a perfect view of the great house beyond the thinning trees. He could see the bedroom window where his lover from here, though it was only a dark shape among the red snow speckled brick. Inside Remy was surely still asleep in their bed.

                This thought made Logan decide it was time to come in from his wanderings, and he started down the hill at a trot, new snow which fell in heavy soft flakes dusting his dark hair and naked skin. It was still dark; the sky had just barely begun to turn the pale powder blue of pre-dawn. No danger of being spotted, except by a few early risers, who by now knew what to expect when Logan went out into the forest at night.

                One such pair of eyes was watching him from her attic bedroom, standing against the window as she drank her tea. Logan gave Storm a nod, and the woman gave a little wave in return. The snow fell harder, and Logan smiled, knowing she was putting down a veil to cover him as he crossed the long exposed stretch of lawn before reaching the house.

                Logan’s room was located on the East wing, on the second floor, a corner room that had ivy crawling up the walls outside. Wolverine, decided he didn’t really want to go through the main foyer or any of the side entrances where surely students or other faculty might be lurking. Logan doubted they would appreciate an eyeful of his naked body before breakfast. At the very least, the Professor would frown on it. So instead, he simply began to scale the frozen vine of ivy, digging his claws into the brick for better support as he climbed.

                The window to his bedroom was always open, and his entrance in and out of it was so well practiced that he made almost no noise upon entering. The room was dark and warm, but not as quiet as it should be. In the bed tucked on the opposite wall, Remy was tossing and turning, making unhappy little moans in his sleep.

                Logan crept over to the bed, bending over the sleeping figure to discern if anything was wrong. Gambit came awake the moment he felt Logan’s weight dip the bed beside him and gripped the bed sheets as though startled. A little crackle of pink shocked them both and made the hair on Logan’s arms and neck bristle.

                “Hey, it’s alright, Gumbo, it’s just me.”

                Logan put a calming hand along Remy’s face, thumb brushing along his cheek bone as the younger auburn haired man blinked at him in growing confusion. Remy gripped his wrist. “Cher, you cold as ice!” He squinted, “Have you been outside…naked?” he gasped.

                The dark haired mutant smirked and grunted. “So I like to go for a little walk in the moonlight in my birthday suit once in awhile.”

                “In de snow?” Gambit asked again, already visibly shivering from the draft in the room from the open window.

                “The cold doesn’t bother me.” His lover answered. “Got a thick hide.”

                “And plenty o’ fur,” Remy chuckled, scratching Logan’s chest hair with his long fingers and then drawing him down under the comforters with him. “Get in here, let’s see if we can’t warm up dose old bones o’ yours.”

                Logan purred against his neck, readily wrapping himself around the taller leaner man. Remy yelped uncomfortably at the chill it caused and shivered more, hurriedly rubbing down Logan’s icy skin with his palms. “Of all your ‘quirks’, cher, dis one…I gotta say is my least favorite.”

                “But you warm me up so nice, Gumbo.” Logan laughed kissing him briefly before moving his lips to Remy’s neck and licking his way down his collar bone. He was already half hard against Gambit’s thigh, it wouldn’t take much for him to be ready to go. Long nights alone on the hunt usually worked him up, especially knowing he’d be returning to warm bed and his even warmer lover.

                But Remy seemed…reluctant. Logan attempted to tease, moving his rough hand down the other man’s thigh before inching inward, but Remy caught his wrist again. “Non, Logan…not tonight.”

                “Cold hands?” the Canadian chuckled, but Remy didn’t meet his eyes or return his smile. Something was wrong. Lusty intentions tucked to the back of his mind for the moment, Logan rolled away to give the other man more room, but stayed close, lying beside him instead. “You okay?”

                Gambit reclined his head listless against his pillow with a deep sigh that was a cross between irritation and resignation. “Bad dream, I guess.”

                Wolverine nodded solemnly. He certainly understood. “Sinister again?”

                Remy sat up then, elbows resting upon his knees, lean and lanky and way too vulnerable looking in his naked state. “Non,” he said at length. “Just…past mistakes.”

                Logan looked at him thoughtfully, saying nothing. Gambit had never been at ease in the mansion since their arrival. Although Xavier had been nothing but kind and welcoming, some of the rest of the team had remained suspicious of Remy. None more so than Scott, who had protested Gambit’s acceptance as an X-Men after such a brief time. He made his displeasure with the fact known on a daily basis in fact, though he mostly took his resentment out on Logan, assigning him every shitty task he could think of, lecturing him at the slightest grievance, and pummeling him during training exercises in the Danger Room.

                Wolverine really could have cared less. He could take whatever Scott had to dish out and more. Summers should be relieved; he no longer had to worry about Logan flirting with Jean. Yet Gambit’s presence seemed to cause nothing but tension. Logan wondered if Scott had started taking his grudge out on Remy.

                “Don’t worry about Scooter; he’s all bark and very little bite.”

                “Except for de eyes,” Remy remarked.

                “Yeah, I suppose. Just don’t let him get under your skin; the stick he’s got up his tight little ass has nothing to do with you.” He said, hoping to ease whatever doubts his lover was having.

                “I know dat,” Remy answered, now climbing out of the bed entirely. He hurriedly grabbed a robe from the chair beside the bed and threw it over his lithe form, huddling into it as he hurried to shut the window that was allowing snow flurries inside. “Just wondering…if a team atmosphere really suits me, ya know?”

                Logan raised an eyebrow. “You’re not really the lone wolf type, Rems.”

                Gambit smirked at him, “What, you t’ink you got dibs on dat position, mister short dark and mysterious?”

                Logan rolled his thick shoulders. “I put it all out there for everyone to see. They can take me as I am, or fuck off. But you…you always play things a little closer to the vest.” He reclined on the bed, folding his arms behind his head. “Don’t worry about what they think, darlin’. We’re all mutants, we all got shit in our past that’s ugly and uncomfortable. Even Scott. Hell, even the Professor. It’s nobody’s place to judge.”

                Remy nodded thoughtfully and Logan spoke again, “So…what did you dream about?”

                Gambit returned to the bed, crawling up beside the other man and burrowing down beside him, Logan wrapping his big arm around him protectively. “Doesn’t matter,“ he mumbled against Logan’s skin, already feeling sleepy again. “Just want to forget.”

                Logan nodded, kissing the top of Remy’s head and closed his eyes. After a few minutes the Cajun was asleep beside him, and Logan watched the sun come up, feeling Remy tense and cringe, even in his dreams.

 

                Outside, lingering behind the slowly fading tracks that Wolverine had behind, another imposing figure stood among the barren forest, watching the house beyond. The menacing presence, predatory and feral in its nature took a deep breath, letting the other man’s scent affirm his suspicions. It had taken years, but he’d finally tracked him down. “Time to come home, Logan.”

 

***

 

                Logan was standing in the kitchen, dressed in ratty jogging pants and skin-tight white tank top, hunched over a plate of steak and eggs, moodily sipping his coffee, when Ororo Monroe entered the room. They said nothing as she moved behind him to reach the coffee cups that dangled above his head. Before her long arms could grasp one, Logan reached up and handed on to her. “Here, darlin’.”

                The taller woman smiled down at him and leaned over his shoulder, pressing a kiss to his stubbly cheek. “Thank you,”

                She took up position beside him, pouring herself a hefty cup of the strong brew and looking at the lazy common eating area beyond, which was currently only occupied by Hank and Kitty, who each looked still mostly asleep. The sun had only risen an hour ago.

                “Another long night?” she asked him casually, glancing over at him. Logan gave her a little side-ways glance over the rim of his mug, noting the woman was wearing an open kimono robe and one of his ratty old t-shirts that barely skirted over her wide hips. He smirked, “Yeah. Thanks for the cover.”

                “You should take a pack with you, in case of emergencies. What if we were attacked?”

                “Well, nothing distracts your enemy like fighting in your birthday suit.”

                Storm smiled. “I know.” They shared a private little laugh together and Logan leaned against her shoulder. It had taken awhile for them to get back to that place they had been before all this mess had happened; before she left, before New Orleans. Neither of them was sure they would ever be there again, and maybe they weren't, but they were someplace better now.

                “Where’s our Cajun? Still asleep?”

                “Hope so,” Logan nodded. “Kid seemed to have a rough night, crying in his sleep for the last couple hours. Didn’t leave till he finally settled down.” He scrubbed a hand tiredly over his face. His healing factor meant he didn’t wear out as quickly as some of the others in the group, but other things seemed to wear on him the same as natural exhaustion; such as stress.

                The white haired woman’s lips turned into a troubled frown, “Have you spoken to him about it?”

                Logan shrugged. “Kid’s like me. We keep things to ourselves.”

                “Of course you do.” She nudged him knowingly. The burly man chuckled, knowing the woman could read him like a book and was one of the few on the team who really knew he was a softy on the inside under that hard exterior.

                “Something was different about tonight, though. He said a name I hadn’t heard him mention before. ‘Victor’.”

                Storm raised a delicate brow. “Does this name have some significance for you?”

                And here Logan took to staring out across the room again, frowning, eyes unfocused, little wrinkles appearing at the corners of his eyes and at the gap just above his brow. “No…but it feels…strange I guess. Something about that name, especially the way he said it, sticks in my craw. I don’t like it; just not sure why.”

                The woman pulled an orange from the fruit bowl and moved around him, brushing the back of her hand along his broad back. “Talk to him about it.”

                Logan rolled his eyes. “Ro…”

                “Open communication is the key to a successful relationship,” she retorted matter-of-factly. “And I, for one, am just as invested in seeing Remy happy as I am seeing you happy. You two are good for each other. Keep it that way.” She sat down neatly at the breakfast nook, turning her face towards the pale winter sunlight that had started to shine in. “And that is all the advice I have for you today, my brother.”

                Logan grunted at her and went back to chewing his food, until he felt another familiar hand glide playfully up his back and lips at his ear. “Bonjour, mon amour.”

                The dark haired man all but purred at Remy’s silky voice in his ear and turned to kiss him. The taller red head pecked his lips, then stole his fork from his hand, stabbed it into his egg and stuffed it into his mouth before moving past him to sit next to Storm, whom smoothed back his hair like a kitten and kissed his cheek.

“Good morning, thief.”

                Remy swallowed his food and looked at Logan playfully, “You left so early, cher, leaving me in dat big bed all by my lonesome. I might start to t’ink you getting’ bored wit me.”

                “Not possible,” Logan retorted, filling another coffee cup and moving around the counter to sit by the two of them. “Just didn’t want to disturb ya once ya had finally settled down. Ya moaned and kicked since I got back.”

                Gambit took his coffee thoughtfully, “Desole, didn’t realize…”

Logan waved off the apology. “Don’t worry about it. We’ve got a full schedule today, Summers has us doing training exercises with some of the kids along the eastern parameter. You up for stealth maneuvers?”

Remy gave him a very sly smile, “O course, if you t’ink dey can keep up wit me.”

“We won’t need to,” another voice said, interrupting them. They glanced over to find Jubilee having entered the room as well, still wearing her pajamas, short black hair in a feathery mess on top of her head. She was sixteen, but looked like twelve at the moment with those sleepy eyes and duck print yellow pajama bottoms hanging off her slight figure. “I’ll just wait till you and Logan start making out in the woods, then I’ll sneak up on both of you and win the game.”

She seemed very pleased with this plan, and the older group couldn’t help but chuckle at her enthusiasm. “Aw, petite, you shouldn’t be so cocky before breakfast.” Gambit remarked with a wink. The two had become very fond of each other since his arrival, Jubilee seeming to adopt Remy as the older brother she’d never had, while Logan remained her ever-steady father figure.

“Cajun’s right, you need to take this seriously, kiddo. Anyone who fails this exercise today is going to spend the rest of the week going over basics in the Danger Room with Scott.”

Jubilee stuck out her tongue. “Ew! No way am I getting stuck doing that.”

She paused then, realizing Scott had entered the room just as she had spoken. She cringed and hurried over to Logan, slinking down beside him in embarrassment. “Well, I hope that’s true,” Scott replied, in his usual rather nonplussed way. “You’ve been on the team long enough to know these practices, Jubilee. I hope you’ll be an example to the other students,” he leveled his gaze at Logan and Remy. “Unlike others.”

Logan snorted, smirk on his lips as he tore his at his steak, but Remy only smiled, “Oh don’t be so hard de girl, mon ami,” he rose from his seat and grabbed an apple from the counter, presenting it to the team leader with a roguish smile, “As for myself…you haven’t known me long enough to be disappointed.”

Both Logan and Storm knew Remy was displaying his Charm, if only at the lowest level, but Scott wasn’t immune. “LeBeau…this is exactly what I’m talking about. How can anyone take you seriously when you’re always clouding their heads?” Summers muttered, shaking free from the influence and ignoring Gambit’s offering.

The Cajun looked a little sullen then, almost pouting. “Not my fault I have a winning personality, m’sieur. Not my fault it rub you de wrong way, either.” He slapped the apple into Scott’s hand and brushed past him, which caused a visible little shudder through Cyclops. Remy had barely left the room before Logan stood up, blue eyes sharp and dangerous looking as he glared at his leader.

“Was that necessary?”

“I could ask him the same thing,” Scott muttered, looking awkward and comfortable and one glance at his loose lounge pants was enough to understand why. “When are you going to put a leash on him?”

The claws were out. Logan was snarling, moving forward, “What did you say!?” he barked, but Storm was up and standing between them in an instant, towering over both men.

“Scott! Logan! Enough! This is constant ‘pissing contest’ between the two of you is beginning to wear on all of us.”

“I’m sorry, Ororo,” Scott amended, “but he makes me uncomfortable. You two don’t have ties to Sinister the way he and I have,” he glanced back to where Remy had vanished. “That man….he can twist the world around his little finger with his powers. If he’s done half of the things to Remy that he did to my brother…you’d understand why I’m so cautious. And why you should be.”

“You’re full of shit is what you are,” Logan growled, moving past Storm now in the direction Remy had gone, “You’re a scared little man, Scott Summers, hiding behind braver people than yourself, and you hate for anyone to show any sign of weakness, any sign of god damn frailty, because it might somehow fucking affect you. Well wake up, one-eye, it’s got nothing to do with you!

Scott started after him but Storm held him back with thunderous look. Logan departed the room, leaving everyone tense in his wake.

 

Logan chased Remy into the grand foyer where the Cajun was pulling on his boots and customary leather trench coat, looking very eager to put some space between himself and the rest of his team.

“Gumbo,”

Remy shook his head with a rueful chuckle, flicking up the collar of his jacket, “Nevermind it, cher,” he interrupted, “M’sieur Summers is just ripe wit jealousy, dat’s all. Ain’t like I haven’t dealt wit it before.”

Logan folded his arms across his broad chest, “Give them time, kid. They didn’t warm up to me so quick at first either.”

Remy gave him smirk, “Really? Wonder why dat could be,” he reached over and scratched Logan’s thick sideburn. “You just a big pussy cat, after all.” The feral mutant scowled, but couldn’t find the heart to correct the kid. Logan felt softer, more human around Remy. The auburn haired southerner turned away again and made towards the door.

“Where ya headin’?”

“Need a breath of air, cold or no. Thought I’d get started on the obstacle course. Care to join?”

Wolverine nodded, “Let me change, I’ll meet ya there.”

 

**

                Despite Logan’s tracking skills, he didn’t find Gambit for over an hour. The thief was quick, and when he wanted to disappear utterly, he certainly found a way. Wolverine eventually tracked the man to the deepest part of the woods, where the trees were wild and close together, making visibility difficult and disorienting even in the dead of winter.

                There were traps here, nothing lethal of course, but enough to deter any unwanted trespasser. Most were devices designed by Beast himself, intended to shock and disorient and alarm. Logan knew all their locations, and so avoided them easily along the way. He could smell Remy’s scent on the wind, though it was muffled.

                The Cajun was sensitive to the cold, and so often wore as many layers as he could outdoors, including a specially designed insulated cat suit beneath his trench coat. Logan searched the trees for any irregular shapes, any hint of auburn hair or ruby eyes, or the flutter of his jacket in the breeze.

                Finally, after several minutes of silent observation, Logan caught the faint sound of shifting somewhere behind him. He smirked and then turned with surprising speed and tackled the man who had appeared like a shadow behind him.

                Remy grunted as he was thrown to the ground and Logan crouched over him in the snow, grinning down at him. “Gotcha.”

                The Cajun coughed beneath him, frowning up at his lover. “Dammit, I was dis close ta getting de drop on ya,” he pouted.

                “Gonna have to try harder, Cajun.” Logan chuckled, leaning down to kiss him. Remy wrapped his arms around him, trying to keep snow from sliding down his collar and absorbing Wolverine’s body heat. Logan lifted him, his mind already turning from his duties at hand to more amorous pursuits.

                Remy tensed suddenly, gripping Logan’s shoulder hard, pulling back from the kiss. Before Logan could ask what was wrong, his feral senses kicked into gear. A new scent had entered the wood, somewhere very close to them. It was strange, and heavy and musky and metallic. It reeked of blood as if permeated by it.

                Logan bristled like a dog and stood, tips of his claws already popping through his skin. Gambit stood nervously beside him, eyes rapidly searching the landscape. “You smell it, non?”

                Wolverine nodded. “What is it?” his lover asked, voice hushed. “Not one of ours, I’m sure of it.”

                “Nope,” the other grunted, moving forward slightly. Remy noted Logan’s stance, “But it seems familiar to me for some reason…like I’ve smelled it before.” He glanced at his lover. “Can you get any sorta reading off it?”

                Gambit forced a steady breath and closed his eyes, trying to open himself up to any empathetic energy the strange presence was giving off. He was met by a confusing wave of excitement, jealousy, and lust. It felt toxic and dizzying, and the more he struggled to separate the feelings, the more he realized that they were fixed on his partner.

                He gripped Logan’s arm to steady himself. “Let’s go, cher. Whatever it is, I don’t like it.”

                “If something’s trespassin, I mean ta deal with it.” Logan replied. He moved away from Remy, nose to the wind, following the scent. They heard nothing move, yet Remy felt like the strange presence was growing, drawing them further away from the mansion. It seemed anxious for them to follow, in fact.

                “Logan, I don’t like dis. Let’s go back.”

                His lover didn’t answer; he didn’t even seem to hear him, rushing through the trees like a hound on the trail. Remy realized that Logan was snared by that strange scent, forgetting everything around him.

                Gambit made an impulsive move then, taking one of his cards and tossing it ahead of Logan. It exploded with a little pop, making Logan wince and fall back, shaking his head and wincing from the light. He turned with a snarl towards the taller man. “What the hell was that for?!” he barked. He cast about hurriedly, but seemed to have lost the scent. “Dammit! It’s gone!”

                Remy said nothing, just watching worriedly. Logan turned back finally, a frustrated scowl on his face, “You scared it off, whatever it was.”

                “Good riddance,” his lover retorted, “It wanted you to follow it. It was fixed on you. It was trying to lead you into a trap, cher.”

                Wolverine looked puzzled, as if not sure he believed this, or if he believed he had been so easily fooled by something as simple as a smell. He scratched the back of his neck, hanging his head, embarrassed by his impulsiveness. “Yer right. Sorry, didn’t mean ta snap at ya.”

                Gambit stepped close and stroked his cheek, turning his face to look up at him again. “Let’s go back, tell de others what happened. Shouldn’t bring de little ones out here if something’s dere could be danger.”

                Logan nodded dimly, then lifted his head as they heard someone else approach. Scott made himself known then, appearing from the southern trail, looking curiously between the two.

                “You’re a little off course, don’t you think?” he asked them.

                Logan moved forward, “Practice is canceled. Someone’s hiding out here, might be trouble. Better keep the kids inside.”

                “Did you get a look at ‘em?” Scott asked.

                “No, but I don’t like the feel of it. We’d better do a perimeter sweep. Cajun, you take the kids and head in.”

                “Non, cher,”

                Both Scott and Logan looked at the taller man in surprise. The dark haired man’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Huh?”

                “I don’t t’ink you bein’ out here is a good idea. In fact, I know it isn’t. I will stay and help de others search, but you should be inside.”

                “And who’s gonna stop me?” Logan growled.

                Remy’s dark eyes narrowed. “I will, if I have to.”

                Scott stared between the two of them, wondering how Wolverine would react to this blatant challenge to his usual authority. For a long moment the shorter mutant said nothing, glaring at the ruby and black eyed man, then grunted and turned away, heading down the hill towards the mansion, fists balled at his sides.

                When they assumed he was out of ear shot, Scott moved closer to Gambit. “That was impressive.”

                Remy sighed, folding his arms. “He’s a stubborn man.”

                They turned back to the woods, scanning for signs of movement, but they had gone utterly still again, save for the faint falling of snow from a branch or the flutter of a bird. “I’m sorry for what I said. It was unfair of me. You can’t help what happened to you, any more than my brother could.” He looked Remy in the eye then, “Did you know him?”

                “Non,” the southerner answered quietly. “I worked wit many people under Sinister, but never your brother. I am sorry, Scott.” He moved to walk away but Cyclops called after him; “How did you manage it, Gambit?”

                The Cajun paused. “Manage what?”

                “All those people died, but you somehow managed to crawl away. Why were you separated from the rest of the Morlocks?”

                Remy didn’t answer, scowling at the ground. His hand ghosted over his stomach, where the scars remained. “Dat not a story Gambit likes tellin, mon ami.”

                He moved closer to Gambit. “I just find it strange…if Sinister kept you so close for so long, why would he try to kill you in a place like that; and more to point, why didn't he finish the job?”

                And here Remy turned on him, red eyes gleaming. “Your suspicions are such a thin disguise. It’s not dat you t’ink I’m a spy, or dat I’m after something of your precious Professor’s, or even dat I might lead Logan astray. You hate me for a much simpler reason. You wish it was your brother standing here, in my place.”

                “Yes!” Scott found himself barking suddenly, “Yes, I wish that! He deserves to be here, not you!”

                His words rung in the silence around them and Remy felt like the air had gone out of him. But Scott was the one who looked visibly deflated, covering his face with his hand and turning aside in shame. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Remy. I didn’t mean that…”

                But Gambit was already moving away from him, vanishing among the trees again.

 

**

Chapter Text

 

 

                They scouted for hours, but even a telepathic sweep by Jean turned up nothing. Whomever had been on their land that day was already long gone. But as a precaution, coming and going from the mansion was restricted and security heightened.

                Storm was in her attic room, which she had effectively turned into her own private green house. It was arguably the warmest room in the mansion, save for the boiler room down stairs, and it was a definite reprieve to the relentless ice outside. It should not have surprised her then, to find she had had an unknown guest waiting for her upon her return from her classes.

                “Remy?”

                Gambit was curled on her sofa, playing solitaire. He looked up at her sheepishly. “Bonsoir, ma chere. Hope you don’t mind a little company?” he chuckled nervously. She smiled at him piteously, shaking her head of white hair.

                “Not at all. But you needn’t creep around like a cat,” she reminded him. “My door is always open to you.”

                “Merci, Stormy.”

                She sat down beside him, putting her hand on his knee. “What brings you to my little nook?”

                “It’s warm here,” Gambit said gratefully. “After being out in dat chill all day I needed some place to warm my bones. Not used ta dese temperatures.”

                “I’m sure Logan would have warmed you up,” she said fondly, but Remy didn’t smile, staring at his cards.

                “Non…get de feelin’ he rather be alone right now. None too pleased wit me, for sure.”

                “But why?”

                “Don’t know, chere. Somet’ing got under his skin out dere today, and when I tried to keep him from it…”

                “Logan’s a prideful creature. He knows you were only looking out for him. Don’t let his gruffness throw you. That man loves you dearly.”

                Remy sighed, “If I had even less scruples den people like ta think I do, I would just use my Charm and keep him happy and purring all de time. But not how it works. Dat damn stuff works both ways, and when it turns on Remy, it’s ugly and draining.” He rubbed his head tiredly. “There’s a hunger in him…somet’ing I ain’t seen before. It’s powerful…frightenin’ too.”

                She pulled him into her arm then, resting her chin on top of his head, letting him nuzzle into her neck. Ro was always warm, and Remy felt relaxed and at ease by her side. Storm, she had been his close companion since the day she'd rescued him from the Morlock tunnels.

                They had developed a fast and easy bond that stunned the others. But like Logan, Storm never felt the need to defend her bond with Remy. Her business was her own, and her instincts were rarely flawed, and Scott and the other team members respected her enough to trust her judgment. Maybe it was because Storm had first met Remy at his worst; when he had been enraged and out of control of his powers, wreaking havoc on New Orleans, and then again when he was on death’s doorstep. Maybe that had made it easier to see what was beautiful and shining underneath.

                “I don’t deserve ‘im,” he mumbled. “Or any of dis. Been a bad man for a lot of my life. Done t’ings I ain’t proud of. Things if he knew about…he’d hate me for.”

                “Not true, Remy.”

                He looked up at her mournfully, “Know you tryin’ ta spare my feelings, chere, but Remy just bein’ honest. “ He glared across the room, focusing anywhere but on her face. “Dere’s a lot of hard questions I ain’t been willing ta answer. Questions you and Logan and Hank don’t ask out o’ kindness. But I know you still have ‘im. Ya deserve answers…” he looked helplessly at his hands, “but de shame…de shame of what I done…”

                “Shh.” She pulled him close and kissed his temple. “Enough. You owe us no explanations. You are here now. That is all that matters to us.”

                “Ro…”

                She hugged him hard and let the tremors pass. They heard a noise then that brought them both from their revere and turned to look out window. “Merde!” Gambit muttered, watching Logan’s truck go rattling down the long drive way and passed the front gates. “Where he off to?”

                Ororo appeared beside him with a sigh, leaning over his shoulder. “Only one place I can think of.”

 

**

 

                It was a small hole in the wall type bar on the outskirts of the town, about five miles from estate borders. Logan was a regular there, and the owner and their patrons knew well enough what the Canadian was, and that he was there to drink his troubles away without being bothered.

                It was a weeknight, which meant no dealing with rowdy college kids, or the over-worked and over-eager 9-5 crowd. Just the usual bar flies and townies, who like him, were minding their own business. The air in the bar small and cloistered bar was usually stale with smoke and beer and the smell of greasy bar food. Logan took a corner table, his back to the wall, and smoked his cigars and swilled a bottle of Canadian draft while staring out into the shadows, music droning from an aged jukebox beside the restroom.

                He knew he was in for a long lecture when he returned to Xavier’s, probably from the Professor himself and most assuredly from Summers. But he couldn’t have cared less. Whatever presence had been in the woods today had shaken him, unsettled something inside him that made him angry and listless. He couldn’t explain the feeling, but it gnawed at him like a flea.

                Wolverine was angry; angry that he could be so easily distracted, so easily pulled into something’s snare. If it hadn’t been for Gambit…

                He growled to himself, letting his head sink against his palm miserably. He was sure Gambit was home, wondering what he had done wrong. Logan had given him the cold shoulder for the remainder of the day, even when the Cajun had sought him out to apologize. His anger wasn’t directed at the kid, but he couldn’t help showing it. He wasn’t supposed to lapse like that, he wasn’t supposed to be weak. Especially in front of someone who needed him to be strong.

                Logan ordered another beer, his third since arriving, which the bar tender brought him with his usual chuckle. “I know it’s going to be a good night whenever you come in, pal,” he chuckled. “You buy more beer than all those frat boys combined. Don’t know how you stomach it. You got a ride home, I assume?”

                Wolverine lifted his head to reply when and an unexpected presence appeared in the chair across from him. “Sure, he’s got a ride.” The stranger said, voice low and rumbling.

                Logan blinked in surprise as the bar tender moved away. The man in front of him wore a long brown duster that covered his broad shoulders, the collar of which was thick with fur. His hair was long and blonde, which matched the same thick tuffs of hair that edged his square jaw. He smiled at Logan under the dingy yellow lamp light and the other mutant swore the man’s eyes flashed gold.

                The scent was back, only it was so strong now that Logan was almost too overwhelmed by it recognize it for what it was. It was the tinge of blood that gave it away.

                “Evenin’,” the man said slowly with a nod of his head. “Glad I finally caught up to ya. Ya look good, Logan. Hell…somehow, you keep getting better with age.”

                The dark haired man bristled, gripping the bottle in front of him almost tight enough to shatter it. “Who the fuck are you?”

                The man laughed, and it was an awful, grating sound. “I’ve missed your bluntness,” he answered, taking a deep pull from his own amber bottle and nearly draining it in one gulp.

                “I think you’ve got me confused with someone else,” Logan grunted, moving to slide out of his chair. “I ain’t never seen you before in my life.”

                The man across the table reached out and covered his hand, giving Logan pause. That touch was familiar, from the thickness of his fingers, to the callouses on his palms, and even the scratch of those strange yellow claw-like nails. Logan froze, feeling a hard lump in his throat. The other man was looking at him intensely, searching his eyes for something.

                “I know what they did ta ya, Logan. I know they took it all away. But I have to believe it can come back. Everything you were, everything we were.”

                Logan withdrew his hand as if the man had burned him and backed away, suddenly afraid. And Wolverine wasn’t one to scare easily. “Shut up. Just…shut up. Don’t know you, mister. Think you’ve had too much to drink.” He moved hurriedly away from the table, grabbing his jacket and tossing money on the bar before starting for the back door.

                He stumbled through it into the alley where he parked his truck and found that he was shaking. He paused a moment, leaning on the hood of the old Ford, trying to catch his breath. Was this same powerful draw he felt in the woods? He was sure of it, and the fact made his stomach turn. He wished for Gambit to calm him, for his voice to draw him out of this haze and steady him on his feet again.

                But Gambit wasn’t here now. He heard the door open behind him and before he could turn around, the stranger had closed the distance between the two of them. “Hear me out, runt.”

                Logan turned on him, brandishing his claws, holding them up defensively. “I think you’re the one who needs to hear things out,” he retorted. The other man, who Logan could see now stood nearly a head and half taller than him and nearly twice as broad in the shoulders, didn’t look intimidated. He touched the gleaming claws with a delicate claw of his own. “Shiny.”

                “Who the hell are you, bub?”

                “My name’s Victor,” the other answered in his guttural tones. He paused for half a breath, as if expecting some kind of recognition on Wolverine’s behalf, then continued. “You probably know me better by another name these days…”

                He grinned a bit broader, revealing long fangs and showing that his long claws could actually extend into gleaming talons. “’Sabertooth’’s what yer new friends at Xavier’s know me as.”

                Surprisingly, this seemed to put Logan more at ease. “Heh. Now that makes sense. You’re one of Sinister’s goons.”

                The bigger man emitted a feral growl that was something akin to the sound of a mountain lion and Logan shuddered inwardly at the way his eyes gleamed black and gold in the pale street light. “Sinister’s a chump. I don’t work for anyone but myself. It’s the only way you can have any respect for yourself in this fuck-whole we call a world. You used to know that. You and I we used to be beholdin’ to no one. Now look at us…a couple of costumed freaks doing the dirty work of old men.”

                “What were you doing sneaking around Xavier’s place then?” Logan demanded.

                “Looking for you.”

                “Why?”

                Sabertooth dug around in the pockets of his heavy coat, and Logan tensed, waiting for him to produce a weapon, though it would have been unnecessary, given the man could probably take him easily with his bare hands. Though Logan would make him regret doing so.

                Instead, Sabertooth produced a set of dog tags, which he flung at the shorter mutant. Logan caught them easily and turned them over in his palm. They read “James Howlett”.

                “This supposed to mean something to me?”

                “A person’s name usually does.” Sabertooth replied with a shrug. Logan blinked. “You asked Stryker for a new set, right before they put you under. You thought it would be a fresh start. But I don’t think you counted on becoming a blank slate.”

                Logan felt a chill run through him, and a weight suddenly appear in his chest and stomach. “How do you know about Stryker?”

                Sabertooth stepped close to him, eyes boring into Logan’s. “Because it was my fault. We had a fight and you went to that monster alone. If I had been there, I never would have let them…” his face crumpled faintly and to Logan’s great surprise the man pulled him into an embrace. “I’m so sorry,” He kissed Logan’s cheek then turned his face to capture his lips.

                Wolverine froze, every muscle tense and rigid. He could have pulled back, but something in him was so confused that he couldn’t will himself away. The kiss was needy and hungry and distantly familiar.

                Eventually Logan managed to wrench away from it, grabbing the front of Sabertooth’s shirt as if to thrust him back, but the man didn’t fight nor try to stop him, he just stood there staring and his eyes were…sad. “I know you don’t remember now…but some part of you must. He couldn’t have taken it all away from us. Please say they didn’t take it all…”

                Now Logan knocked the other man away and turned and climbed into the cab of his truck, quickly turning the key in the ignition. His hands were shaking as he grasped the wheel and sped past the big mutant, who only watched him drive off. Only when Logan’s taillights were distant red dots in the darkness did Sabertooth allow himself smile; “You’ll be back. Got my hooks in ya now, runt. You’ll be back…”

 

**

 

                Logan nearly wrecked the truck as he pulled up to the mansion, allowing it slide and crash into a hefty snow bank along the edge of the drive. He gave little thought to it, stumbling out of the cab and wandering inside. Most of the students were already in their rooms for the night, and few of the older members were about to see him. For this he was very grateful.

                He didn’t head immediately for his room but instead made for one of the common areas of the house, where he stashed his some whiskey supply. The room was dark, but Wolverine didn’t bother with lights. He made for one of the little used bookshelves that lined the wall and dug behind the heavy forgotten volumes until he found the bottle that he’d brought back from his last trip up North. He broke the seal and downed half the contents of the large bottle in four big gulps before taking a hefty breath and wiping any traces of it from his chin.

                A light switched on and he turned, to see Ororo sitting in one of the lounge chairs, watching him. She was still dressed, giving him one of those appraising, motherly looks. “I see your table manners haven’t much improved.”

                Logan frowned at her and swallowed too hard, coughing. “Jesus, Ro…what’re you doing?” he grumbled, wiping his mouth on his sleeve and moving around the counter towards her. “I don’t need anyone ta wait up for me.”

                She gave him an ironic little smirk, “I can think of several other than myself who are in fact doing so, including young Jubilee. But I’ll make sure she gets some rest. You have another matter to attend to this evening.”

                Logan thought of Remy and the way that they had left things today and felt his head give a stressful throb. “Dammit…”

                The long-legged woman stood up and went to him, putting her arms around him. “Something has gotten under your skin. What happened today?”

                The man in her arms shifted and she felt him tense, close himself off and turn inward again, as she had seen many time since he came to them. “It’s nothing…”

It hurt her and frightened her to think that there was something Logan couldn’t trust her with. But she was also wise enough to know that he would only come to her in his own time. Instead of pressing him for an answer, she simply leaned down and kissed his cheek lovingly. “Go to bed. Remy’s waiting for you.”

                She leaned over and took the bottle as Logan blinked, “You can have this back in the morning.” She added, turning away. He watched her go, then resigned himself to the task ahead.

                He skulked upstairs, pausing by Jubilee’s room only to see that the girl was in fact asleep now in the middle of her bed among a pile of magazines. He tossed a quilt over her and turned out her light before making his way to the far end of the hall. He hesitated there in front of his door, taking a deep breath, trying to collect himself. He didn’t want Gambit to see him unnerved like this, and he especially did not want his lover to mistake his own turmoil for anger with him.

                Finally he twisted the knob and stepped inside. Gambit was not in sight and the bed was empty, but he heard the familiar sound of their shower running. Logan moved from the door and shed his coat and boots, then made for the bathroom. He made no sound entering, the spray of water hitting the shower floor drowning out everything else. Remy had his back to him, and Logan watched him for a moment in silence before stripping out of his own clothes and moving towards the shower door.

                Gambit turned in surprise when he felt Logan pull back the glass door and step into the spray with him, but Wolverine didn’t let him turn around fully, wrapping his arms around the younger man’s lean middle and pressing his forehead against the nape of his neck. “I’m an asshole.” he mumbled.

                Remy relaxed under his touch, rubbing his own hands over Logan’s and giving them an affirming squeeze. “Was worried about you…where you been?”

                Logan kissed his wet skin; “Nowhere good. Can we just…” he let one hand slid a little lower down Gambit’s torso, dipping below his naval and brushing across the soft line of hair above his groin. Gambit turned around then and kissed him and Logan pushed him flat against the back wall of the shower, devouring his mouth before moving down to kneel in front of him while Remy ran his long fingers through his hair.

**

               

                A short time later, they were in bed once more and Remy was already sound asleep. Logan laid across his back like an old hound dog, unable to sleep, staring out the window at the brightness of the fresh snow under the moon. He had done all he could to replace the taste of Victor’s mouth with Remy’s, to wrap himself back up in reality and anchor himself there…but he couldn’t shake the encounter with Sabertooth.

                Wolverine didn’t trust easily, as people were often all too willing to feed him whatever lies and half-truths they could think of to get him to bend to their way of thinking. But this felt different. This didn’t feel like a lie. But how would Logan know the difference when he was just as clueless about his past as everyone else?

                No one had ever been able to tell him about who he was before Weapon X. Not even Xavier. Charles had always said, in the few sessions he’d had with Logan, that the man’s mind was such a broken mess, that piecing together his past could take years, and all the holes might not ever truly be filled. What he had been able to discern was a great deal of violence and grief. Jean had seen much the same in him, and it had always been the chief reason why they would never be together. She was afraid of him.

                Logan whimpered in spite himself then, nuzzling into Remy’s warm skin. If he had such close connections to a person like Sabertooth, who worked for Sinister as a terrorist…what did that mean for him? What if there was indeed something about him to fear? The idea that Gambit might someday come to fear him in the same way Jean did…

                Wolverine shut his eyes tight and pressed his face against Remy’s neck and shoulder and the taller man sighed softly in his sleep below him, no doubt sensing Logan’s pain. He rolled over and opened his eyes into a dark slit, looking up at his lover. “Cher…?’

                Logan said nothing but nuzzled down in his arms, burying his face in his neck and Remy held him fast and close. “ S’alright, Logan…I got you…” he mumbled, not even fully conscious and sinking back under almost instantly.

                The dark haired Canadian let Gambit’s warmth and scent lull him to sleep, falling into a dark an uneasy dream of canon fire and bayonets and screams on the battle field.

 

***

Chapter Text

 

                When morning came, Remy woke up alone. The sheets were cold where Logan had lain, and the Cajun knew he must have been up before the sun. He climbed out of bed and dressed hurriedly in pair of ratty jeans and a somewhat garish purple sweater, already guessing where the feral mutant had gone.

                When he crossed the lawn towards the woods however, huddled deep in his coat, he saw that he was no alone in his search. Already Storm and Jubilee were outside as well. The girl waved to him fondly, a bundle of yellow and hot pink with a mop of black hair sticking out above her oversized coat, between her fuzzy pink earmuffs. Remy couldn’t help but giggle at her as he approached.

                “Well, seems we all need some fresh air dis morning!” he greeted. “What’s so exciting about three feet of snow and twenty degree temperatures, Remy wonders?” he added, tilting his head towards Storm, who made a striking figure in her long black coat and boots against the background of bleak white and grey.

                “Birds have been rushing out of here all morning, making quite the racket. I’ve seen trees shudder from my window; heard plenty of unnatural noise as well. My guess is Logan is running the obstacle course by himself.”

                They listened, but for the moment there was no sound but their own breathing and shifting among the ice brittle-snow. “Did he speak with you last night?”

                Remy shook his head, “Not as such, but something had his mind tied up in knots all night long; could feel him tossin' and turning. Did he say anyt’ing to you?”

                Storm shook her head and Jubilee heaved a great sigh between them. “He’s in a mood again.” She answered them, turning without them and hiking towards the trees. “He gets this way, all sour and grumpy and ‘my life is too complicated for you to understand’-ish. It’s such crap. I’ll snap him out of it.” She said with no small amount of self-assurance.

                “Can’t tell if you very brave or very foolish to t’ink so, mon petite,” Remy answered, ever in marvel at Jubilee’s ability to turn Wolverine into an oversized house cat. Jubilee giggled and continued hiking her way through the snow laden trail, allowing Remy and Storm to drop slightly behind.

                “He said nothing at all to you?”

                “Non,” Gambit answered again. “Was too busy wit other t’ings. But he was feeling bad; angry and confused and scared shitless of somet’ing. Never seen him like dat before.”

                Storm frowned, “He was drinking rather heavily. He only does that when he is trying to forget something. He must have run into trouble in town.”

                “What sort of trouble?”

                Before Ororo could open her mouth to reply Jubilee let out a startled yelp that had them both running. Clearing the top of a the ridge, they came to find the girl standing in front of a rather gruesome scene. The pristine white snow had been soaked and splattered with bright crimson, marbled with torn flesh and bits of fur and entrails. It was the mutilated carcass of a large buck, it’s antlers broken upon the ground.

                “Gross!” Jubilee moaned, turning away from the sight and covering her mouth. Both Gambit and Storm studied the carcass with growing dread. “Such violence…” Storm gasped, squinting in confusion at the body. “This is unnatural.”

                Remy stepped a little closer to the remains, noting the wounds upon the body formed a pattern, one not made by any animal either. The more he looked at it, the more familiar it became…suddenly he felt as if he wasn’t looking at an animal at all, but the body of another mutant….then dozens, hundreds of mutants…with the smell of blood and death and water all around him, and a body crushing against his….

                “Remy? REMY!”

                Storm’s hands were on him, shaking him back to reality. He had fallen against her, blinking, for a moment unsure of where he was. His stomach hurt, and the old wounds there pinched and stung. “Gambit, that’s enough,” Ro said firmly, but gently, putting him on his feet again. She looked worriedly back to Jubilee who was crouched behind a tree now, shaking and staring at him with wide eyes. Remy realized to his dismay that he must have lost control over his empathetic influence again, and given the two women a taste of his own fear.

                “Mon Dieu, I didn’t mean to--!”

                “I know, I know,” Storm assured. “Focus now, breathe. You seem to recognize this sort of carnage, do you know what caused it?”

                But the Cajun merely shook his head, finding for once that his silver tongue had turned to mush in his mouth. There was a heavy crunch of snow then and they all looked up to see Logan appear across the threshold of the clearing, blinking at them in surprise. “The hell are you doing out here?” he muttered, stalking towards them.

                “Looking for you,” Remy answered. Wolverine moved past the remains with little more than a passing glance and came to stand in front of them. “What have you been up to, cher?”

                Logan grunted, “Lookin’ for whatever did this. There’s a couple more down the way like this one, blood everywhere, hell of a mess. Looks like the work of a mountain lion or something.”

                Gambit raised an eyebrow, surprised at this assessment. Even more surprised when Logan would not meet his eyes, because they both knew he was lying.

                “Even a pack of mountain lions does not cause this kind of damage,” Storm quipped, “Nor do they uproot sapling trees and frighten off a forest of birds.”

                Wolverine looked hard at the woman, “Whatever it is, it’s not a good idea for any of us to be out here. I say we head back inside and get some surveillance teams going. Hank’s got cameras everywhere, right?” He started back, not waiting for any of them, assuming they would follow. Jubilee ran until she was at his side and gripped his arm, still shaken. He put an arm around her as they walked, letting Remy and Storm trail behind, both silent and observing.

                Once they were inside, Logan ushered Jubilee off to join the rest of the kids, promising they would catch up later. As soon as she was out of ear shot, he turned grumpily to the pair behind him. “Since when do I need a chaperon?”

                “What?” Storm replied, rather startled at his defensiveness. “Logan, this had nothing to do with—“

                “I expect this sort of bullshit from Scott, but not from you, Ro. And especially not from you,” he glared at Remy, who blinked in wounded surprise. But his pride immediately got the better of him, and Remy stepped closer to the shorter, feral man, ruby eyes glaring down at him, seeming to glow.

                “Where all dis anger comin from, mon ami? You act like a man who doesn’t want anyone knowin’ what he been up to. Dat’s not you, Logan. You don’t lie, especially not so obviously, and you don’t turn on your friends when dey just lookin’ out for you. So what’s dis really about?”

                Wolverine snarled up at his lover, the beast in his wanting to rise to the challenge his mate was presenting, to push back and put him in his place. He could feel Remy’s influence edging on his consciousness, trying to push back his shields, to make him complacent. It pissed him off.

                “Don’t you dare,” Logan growled. “Don’t you dare use your voodoo charm on me, Cajun! You don’t know what you’re dealing with!”

                Storm was between the two of them suddenly, knocking both men back. “LOGAN!” her voice cracked like thunder in the otherwise empty hallway and both of them felt a jolt of her electricity ripple through and shock them, making their hair friz and stand on end and goose-bumps appear on their flesh.

                The smell of rain and lightning seemed to shake Wolverine out of his haze, leaving him blinking and panting faintly, looking around in a daze as if coming to himself for the first time. The danger passed, Storm dropped her defensive stance, returning to her normal state. Behind her, Remy leaned on the stair banister for support, staring between her and his lover, who dropped down at the foot of stairs, holding his head.

                “I’m sorry….sorry…it’s all that blood it…it wakes up the animal in me and I….I get so angry…” he sounded small and lost, not at all like his usual self. Remy moved past Storm and dropped down in front of his lover, hugging him tightly and Logan whimpered another apology against his shoulder as Gambit mumbled something to him in French.

                Storm looked up to see that Jean and Scott had entered the doorway, looking on curiously. “Everything okay in here?” the red-haired girl asked.

                “Fine now,” the other woman answered. “But I think it best we put the school on lock down for the day. Something is happening out there, and I have a feeling that it’s just biding its time, waiting to make a move.”

                She looked nervously back at Logan, “Or perhaps, waiting for us to.”

 

**

 

                And extensive search of the ground revealed only what Wolverine had already seen; a few more dead deer and some broken tree limbs and little else. The snow had been falling too heavily throughout the day to have allowed for tracks, and Hank and checked and double checked that the security fences surrounding the vast property were all well intact. But this put no one at ease; because it could very well mean that whatever had killed the dear was still trapped on the grounds, waiting for them.

                Wolverine was like a caged animal; pacing, restless, anxious. Remy watched his mate wrestle with whatever was tormenting him at a distance, afraid to get close, unsure how to help. But he wanted to so badly.

                Finally, when Logan paused in his ceaseless movement to glare out the window, knuckles in his hair and teeth bared, Remy stole up behind him, putting his arms around him and leaning down to his cheek. Logan tensed for only a second, not wanting to be any more restrained than he already felt, but then he felt Gambit’s calming influence wash over him, slowing his heartbeat and settling his rattled nerves.

                He breathed deep, relaxing into the other man’s grip and feeling Remy smile against his cheek. “Dere…dat better?”

                “Yeah…” Logan exhaled, reaching up to scratch the stubble on the younger man’s cheek. “Thanks, Gumbo. Needed that.”

                They sat down together on the window seat, watching the comings and goings of the other members of the house as they passed their little nook. “I know I stepped outta line earlier, barking at ya the way I did. I would say it isn’t like me, but…” Wolverine looked down at his hands. “We haven’t been together long, Cajun. I love ya, but…there’s a lot of you don’t know about me. A lot I don’t really know about myself. There’s a side of me that ain’t so nice…never really wanted to show it to ya.”

                Remy just smiled sympathetically. “Logan, I’ve seen you in battle. I know your rage. And I’ve heard what some of de others say…I’ve heard about what happened between you and Jean.”

                Logan actually flinched at the mention of the woman’s name, and Remy put a steadying hand on his arm. “I’m not her, cher. I’m not afraid. I know you, de good, de bad…we all made up of both. It changes nothing.”

                “Rems…”

                Gambit leaned in and kissed to quiet him. “Talk to me, cher. I’m not a mind reader like Ms. Grey. You gonna have ta work a little harder wit me.”

                His lover smiled fondly and rested his head on Remy’s broad shoulder. “Okay, you win. But…I haven’t got any idea where to start. Not so good with sorta thing.”

                “Den let me help,” Gambit replied with a knowing nod. Logan hesitated, not sure if he should let the Cajun in, let him use his empathetic influence to navigate the mess that was his heart and mind. But Remy’s hands held his and the way he looked at him, Logan knew he wouldn’t push him farther than he was willing.

He nodded slowly and his lover sighed gratefully, then moved so that he could sit face to face with the shorter man. “Now, relax…”

“Easier said than done,” Logan grumbled.

Gambit smirked and leaned in to kiss him and Logan accepted, feeling Remy cup his face between his long hands. Logan felt the kid probing his emotions, his memories, searching those old scars on his heart and mind. He wanted to pull back, to make him stop, but he resisted, not wanting to shut his lover out anymore.

                Gambit was no telepath, he couldn’t get into his memories the way Jean or Xavier could, but he could follow the rise and fall of Logan’s emotions like a boat on a wave. They were more powerful, dangerous, and less clear. Logan had endured pain no man should, and still come out the other side, not a monster but a man.

                Remy saw flashes of memory, felt Logan’s pain as he escaped Stryker and wandered the wilderness, his memory in tatters, alone and confused, not knowing what he was. But he knew that already. So he pushed deeper, searching. There were threads, silvery and hard to catch, glimpses of something before. Gambit followed them, feeling his way along, and feeling Logan’s anxiety grow.

The pain seemed to go on forever; the one constant in the other man’s life. There was always pain. And loneliness, and rage as well. But this rage was different….this rage felt…muddled and raw, simplistic and bitter. It was rage fueled not by Logan’s own experience , but by another source. A powerful and dangerous one at that. A little flash of memory, which was gritty and dream-like filled Gambit’s mind. Two young boys running together in the woods, both afraid, both desperate to escape something. The younger child he realized was Logan, but the other…he was just a shadow, a blur. But Logan was so frightened so desperate to stay with the other boy. Why?

Logan began squirm a little in his grasp, Remy tried to steady him, but the connection was breaking. Fear flooded through both of them and as Gambit’s power suddenly tapped into something else that was dormant in the other man; hatred, self-loathing and absolute disgust.

“HOW COULD YOU?! HOW COULD YOU!?” Logan was screaming, “We’re not animals! I AM NOT AN ANIMAL!”

In the present Logan suddenly gave a roar and wrenched away from Gambit, claws suddenly unsheathed. Remy fell back as the blades ripped across his arm and shoulder, causing a spurt of blood that splattered the window behind him.

Wolverine lept away, screaming, roaring slashing blindly at anything in his path as Remy fell back against the window, too stunned to move, blood now staining his sweater. The commotion brought the others running into the room, Scott at the forefront.

Wolverine turned on him, eyes cloudy, unseeing, teeth and claws bared. “Logan! Logan, stand down!” he ordered. But the dark haired mutant didn’t seem to hear or recognize him. He charged at Scott, only to be struck by one of his optic blast, which sent the smaller man flying backward through the wall, blasting through heavy layers of drywall, steel bars and brick before tumbling outside into the snow in a smoking heap.

“SHIT!” Cyclops muttered, rushing to check on the man. Jean moved into the room to help Remy, putting her hands quickly to the wound on his arm to stem the bleeding, “What happened?”

“My fault, it was my fault—“ he gasped, looking fearfully out the window at Logan’s prone form in the snow. “Don’t hurt him!”

“He won’t, come on, we’ve got to get you to the infirmary—“

Remy stood and pushed past her, making his way out through the rubble towards the other two men in the snow. “Don’t hurt him!” he yelled once more. Scott stood over Wolverine, waiting for him to recover. The blast would have killed anyone else, but Logan’s burns were already healing and closing and he looked up, snarling, face full of snow.

“Easy big guy,” the other man warned. “Get ahold of yourself.”

Logan stood up, his clothes still smoking, much of them burned away, and turned his attentions to Remy, who was making his way towards him. “Cher, I’m so—!” Wolverine took one look at the blood of his lover’s arm and chest and knew what had happened. He looked down at his own gleaming claws and saw them stained with Remy’s blood.

Shaking his head, he turned and darted into the woods. Remy made to follow him, but Scott caught him and held him back. “No, let him go!”

“Get off of me!” Remy bellowed, fighting back, “Logan! Come back!”

 

 

***

Chapter Text

 

 

                Dark fell, and the snow finally stopped falling long enough to allow the moon to shine through the clouds. He was miles from the mansion now, heading North as always seemed to be his instinct. There were no houses, no developments and hardly a sign of civilization on his chosen route. He had wanted to stay as far away from populated areas as he could, not daring to risk running into someone.

                He could have kept walking for days, but finally, he could find no more will to move, and dropped down upon the forest floor and laid there in a heap, breathing in the cold and letting his self-loathing finally catch up with him.

                Gambit had pulled a trip wire in his brain it seemed like, setting off a chain reaction that he had no idea how to stop. No other memories surfaced, save for the shadowy few that Remy had accidentally unlocked. But those seemed enough to confirm some of Logan’s worst fears about himself. He had always been this…thing. This creature with claws and blood lust. He had always been a killer. He had always been lost.

                But who was the shadowy figure in his memories? Was it Victor, as the man had claimed? Logan wasn’t sure if he could trust himself, nothing seemed real and everything seemed to hurt. He curled in on himself with a pained whimper and wailed to the emptiness of the world for a time. When he finally grew too tired for even that, he laid still, just staring blankly out at the dark.

                Then, slowly, he heard footsteps approaching and a familiar scent waft through the icy air. The man came to stand beside him, crouching there in the dirt and ice and put a heavy hand to Logan’s shoulder. The shorter man looked up at him, and Sabertooth just smiled in return. “It’s okay, Jimmy. You’re with me now.”

 

***

 

                They walked together for a time, neither speaking, the bigger man leading the way through the wilderness, further and further from signs of civilization. Finally, Logan spoke. “It was you, wasn’t it?”

                Victor paused here, looking back at the shorter man, eyes narrowed slightly. “Hmm?”

                “You killed the deer. You’re the one sneaking onto the property. You followed me.”

                The blonde rolled his wide shoulders, “Well, I just wanted to make sure you found your way home safely. You were acting kinda crazy when you left.”

                The dark haired man scowled, “I wonder why,” he muttered, moving around so that he stood beside the taller mutant, looking at him suspiciously. “It occurs to me that my life just got a whole lot more fucked up since you entered the picture. And I can tell ya that I don’t need any help in that department.”

                Sabertooth laughed his grating, chilling laugh. “I bet you don’t, Jimmy.”

                “My name’s Logan.

                His companion snorted, “Yeah, about that…don’t know what you thought you were accomplishing by changing it. But, if you like it, so be it. Or do you prefer Wolverine?”

                Logan brandished his claws at him and Sabertooth lifted an eyebrow curiously, as he spoke; “Alright, bub, I’m tired of all this cryptic shit. You tell me exactly what’s going on, why you bothered to track me down after all this time, and maybe, just maybe I won’t kick your ass.”

                Victor sighed; “Fine.” He looked ahead and Logan followed gaze curiously. Once his eyes adjusted, he could make out the shape of a small cabin in the distance. “We’ll start there.”

                As the came to it, Logan could see it was old, derelict, in need of updates and repairs. Moss had overgrown at least one side of it, and the bushes that edged it, though barren in bleak February, were gnarled and reaching, creeping up the sides and slithering in long brown tendrils across the icy ground. Sabertooth approached it without apprehension, knocking the door open and stepping into the darkness.

                Logan lingered for a moment in the threshold, waiting for a trap to be sprung, but there was no sound nor any other smells coming from the immediate area to indicate any kind of ambush. Although, that didn’t exactly rule things out either.

                “Poor ol’ shack. It’s seen better days, for sure. I only found it again a couple weeks ago when I was out this way. Couldn’t believe it was still standing.”

                Logan cautiously stepped inside the cabin, watching as Sabertooth lit a few lamps, slowly bringing light to the place. The inside was marginally better than the outside, though the contents of the place were few and wanting. There was a large table pushed off to the right wall, a couple of arm chairs in front of a wood burning stove, and a few cabinets that lined the back wall, next to which stood two doors, one seeming to lead to a bedroom and the other a bathroom.

                Sabertooth flopped down in one of the musty old arm chairs and kicked his feet up by the stool by the stove, watching as the coals inside slowly began to glow and smoke. “Have a seat.”

                Logan looked unimpressed. “Clock’s ticking, better start talking.”

                The blonde chuckled again; “This was our place, Logan. One of many, for sure, but…this one, it felt like home. Back in the good ol’ days.”

                “And what days would those be?” Wolverine muttered, pacing the tiny cabin, still on alert for traps.

                Sabertooth motioned to the table in the corner, “There’s a drawer there. Why don’t you take a peek inside?”

                Logan did so, watching him carefully out of the corner of his eye. Inside the drawer of the tiny bureau he found a scattering of old photographs. To say they were vintage would be selling them short; they were old enough to belong in a museum he was sure. Gingerly he pulled them from their place and very carefully began shuffle them.

                Each one depicted the same two men, sometimes as children, sometimes as young men. He studied the children’s faces, slowly beginning recognize features. The same prominent brow, the same wild dark hair, though it was curlier then, the same jaw. The older child in the pictures was a little harder to recognize, though he was shabbier looking than the younger boy. Logan shuffled this behind the others and looked to the next photograph, which was of the same boys, much older now and more recognizable, wearing Union uniforms and holding civil war area bayonets and muskets, standing among another group of men. There was writing beneath that read in faded ink; James Howlett, Victor Creed, 105th infantry.

                Logan turned to look at the other man, pale and wide-eyed. “Is this…us?”

                Sabertooth nodded. “Yep. We were fresh back then; first war we ever thought in. Couple of stupid kids out looking for blood and glory. That was all we knew.” He sat up, looking at Logan seriously. “Ya see, runt, you and I go waaay back. Back before all of this was even here. We came up together in Alberta, Canada, in fact. My family worked for your family.”

                He stood up and came to look at the photo’s himself, smiling at them fondly. “Hell, you were such a sickly little runt. Always moaning and wailing…completely insufferable. But you were my friend. You were the only one in that god-forsaken family that was ever good ta me. But who can blame them, really? I mean, I started growing these when I was ten.” He flashed his fangs at Logan. “My Pa, he used ta rip ‘em out with pliers, called ‘em ‘devil teeth’. He was a fucker. But we put an end to ‘im.”

                Logan tensed. “We?”

                Sabertooth gave him a piteous little shake of his head. “It wasn’t yer fault. You were just a kid, a scared little kid. And he was drunk, came in hollering and wailing that night, fit to be tied. He shot yer Pa, killed ‘em dead on the spot. And you….” He touched Logan’s hand, running his fingers across the spaces between his knuckles. “You gutted the bastard like the pig he was.”

                The photos fluttered from Logan’s hands and he turned, suddenly angry and afraid, but Victor was already on him, cornering him, trapping him against the wall with his bigger body. Logan bellowed and shouted for him to move, but Victor wouldn’t, not even when the other man screamed and buried his claws to the knuckles in his chest.

                Logan stood there, shuddering and wide eyed, horrified that he had stabbed the man, but more stunned that he hadn’t fallen. Hell, he didn’t even blink. He just stood there, looking down at Wolverine with this strange, knowing smirk.

                “Temper, temper.” He reached down and took Logan’s wrist, yanking the claws out himself and watching as the wounds closed by themselves. “Been awhile since ya tried to stab me.”

                “You heal.” Was all Logan could manage, feeling like any minute he was going to go into shock.

                “Yep. Just like you. It’s a rare mutation, the healing factor. Now, granted, I ain’t quite as indestructible as you are,” he flicked Logan’s chest. “After what they done to ya, with that damn adamantium shit. But I can give as good as I get.” He leaned a little closer, “Any of this gettin’ through your thick skull, sweetie?”

                The pet name seemed to snap Logan out of his shock, making him bristle and finally push the bigger man off him. “I ain’t yer sweetie.”

                “Wrong again. You’ve always been mine, Logan.”

                Wolverine glared at him. “Really? Cause ya don’t seem my type.

                “I’m exactly your type. Dangerous, deadly, and reckless. What can I say? Feral’s stick together; part of the pack. Understand?”

                Wolverine waited for some kind of attack or aggression from the other man, but instead Victor dropped down to his knees in front of him and wrapped his arms around Logan’s waist, hugging him tight. “We promised each other we’d never go it alone, no matter what. Stryker took that away from us…but I’m gonna make it right, James. I swear, I’ll make it right. Just come back to me.”

                Logan felt numb; his head ringing with all this new information as it desperately tried to process it, to decide if there could be any truth to it. His mind kept telling him that something was wrong, something was off about everything Victor said. But his instincts told him that this felt right, as if he had a constant feeling of de ja vu.

                Tentatively, he lifted a hand and rested it lightly on the top of Victor’s head, hearing the other man made a soft rumbling noise in the back of his throat like a purr. “I’m…sorry. I’m sorry, I don’t remember you.”

                Those golden eyes looked up at him and Logan found himself ensnared by them. Victor was everything he’d never experienced with another mutant; something primal and dangerous and out of time. Things he only saw when he looked at his own reflection in the mirror. And suddenly he didn’t feel so out of place, or afraid of his own nature. Because he wasn’t alone. He wasn’t a weapon, he wasn’t a monster…he was something older than most could understand, something with deeper roots.

                Victor stood and kissed him, and this time Logan didn’t freeze but returned it cautiously. There was nothing soft about the other mutant, nothing tender or gentle, but made up for it in fire and longing and pure animal lust.

                Wolverine found himself gasping as he pulled away, lips wet and head spinning and Victor looking at him like he wanted to take him right then and there. But Wolverine turned away, breaking contact, free of the spell for the moment.

                Victor didn’t reach for him this time, nor try to bar him from leaving. Logan moved towards the door, but found no will to step outside.

                “Go on; run. I won’t stop ya.” Sabertooth shrugged, moving towards him, then past him. Wolverine watched, uncertain, as the bigger man shed himself of his heavy fur lined trench and stripped down to just his jeans, even discarding his boots.

                “What’re ya doing?” Wolverine muttered.

                Sabertooth sniffed the air; “Ain’t eaten since yesterday. Time to hunt.” He gave Logan a mischievous glance over his shoulder. “Care to join? You used to be pretty good at it.”

                Logan hesitated, but his heart lifted, suddenly tight and wanting. The blonde mutant shrugged again, heading off into the woods without another word. Logan hesitated…he should leave, now, and make his way back to the mansion. He had to see if Gambit was alright…but he didn’t know if he could face the kid, not after what he’d done. And something in him was calling, nagging, urging him to follow the other feral, who was steadily disappearing into the snow.

                Swallowing hard, the shorter man shed himself of his shirt and shoes as well, letting the cold chill his skin. Let the animal out, he decided; let it have its hunt. When it’s over, you’ll know what you are and what to do.

                He grunted angrily, letting the claws out, and then followed Sabertooth into the dark.

 

                The thrill of the hunt; Logan had forgotten the exhilaration of it. The way they fell so easily in sync, crawling, crouching and slinking along the frozen earth, eyes searching the dark for any small sign of movement, noses full of the cold wet smell of snow, pines and animal musk.

                It was simple, primal, natural. Logan relished this release, turning all his concentration to methods of stalking and tracking that had become foreign to his current way of living. He tried to envision his life like this; running wild and free and uninhibited, the man beside him his constant and only companion.

                They crouched together behind a fallen tree, still and waiting, breathing light and shallow to reduce their sound. Logan found his heartbeat falling in sync with the bigger feral’s and looked at him again out of the corner of his eye. Sabertooth looked back at him, pupils huge and black, nearly blocking out all of the gold. He breathed deep and turned his attention ahead of them once more, rising on his haunches slightly.

                They had spotted a young doe wandering into the clearing, searching for food. Beside him, Victor emitted a low, creaking growl of hunger, opening his mouth and exposing his canines. Logan felt himself suddenly salivate as well, feeling a new level of hunter instinct kick in. Everything else faded; all other thoughts ceased. There was only the hunt.

                Both men crept forward, stalking on all fours, silent and creeping. Logan distributed his weight across his limbs sot that he made no sound at all in the snow, closing in on the unsuspecting animal.

                He was within several feet of it before it noticed him, lifting it’s long neck and blinking into the darkness, no doubt catching the gleam of his eyes. Logan knew what he should do…he needed to go for the throat; make it quick and painless before it had chance to flee. But before he even had a chance to leap, Victor charged, slashing and snarling.

                The doe crashed into the snow as the bigger male tore it’s throat out, spraying the ground with blood. Hot flecks of it splattered Logan’s face, neck and chest. He licked it off his lips before stalking forward, taking his place alongside Victor and finding himself sinking his teeth into the dead beast’s hide, tearing and shredding until he came away with a mouthful of it.

                Victor, his own face dripping with crimson, grinned at the smaller man, tearing another section of quivering flesh from is host and swallowing before crawling over the carcass to his partner and putting a firm hand on his shoulder, pushing him back enough to lean in and kiss him again. Logan groaned against his lips, tasting the heavy metallic tang of blood mixing with Victor’s own taste. His head throbbed then and his chest pinched. He felt a burst of what seemed like panic, but before he could further examine the strange sensation the bigger male had pushed him down onto his back in the snow, covering him with his much larger form, kissing Logan deeply and possessively.

                Logan could not remember a time when he had felt like this; dominated, possessed, coveted. It was as exciting as it was troubling. Every fiber of him was tense under the other man’s touch, aware of every brush of skin, of every subtle movement, ready to tear away and flee if need be. But Victor didn’t seem to want to hurt or force him into anything. He ground himself against Logan and the smaller man groaned again, feeling the man’s rather imposing erection pressing against him through the fabric of his pants. Victor mewled, scraping his hand down Logan’s torso and reaching between his legs to touch him and feel him respond with a little twitch of his own.

                But the dark haired feral’s hand reached down and dragged his palm away, pinning it to the ground beside him. Victor broke the kiss, glaring down at his partner and when Logan glared back, he only chuckled and leaned down to bite his neck and make him moan again.

                Friction and hunger built between, causing an intoxicating muddle of scents that included musk, blood and sweat. They were both completely covered the blood of their kill, the hot liquid painting their naked skin and driving them both crazy. Logan couldn’t get a firm grasp on any rational thoughts, knowing only that Victor was causing deliciously insane friction between the two of them while his mouth and tongue left bleeding marks across Logan’s neck and shoulders and chest, even catching Logan’s lip on one sharp canine and splitting it. Victor licked it away, enjoying the taste a little too thoroughly.

                Victor snarled then and clutched him again, squeezing and stroking roughly, painfully, but it was enough. Logan’s head fell back and he gasped and shouted, feeling himself release and Victor grunted and howled against him, the sound reverberating off the trees in the empty forest around them, fading slowly away.

                Sabertooth slumped over him, head resting against Logan’s neck and shoulder, panting heavily. Both men were still hard, and Logan realized vaguely that Victor must suffer from the same stamina induced problems that he did.

                But the haze was fading, and Logan gathered enough of his senses to realize how far he had strayed from the path. Gathering himself, he crawled out from under Sabertooth’s heavy, lethargic form and got to his feet. Blinking in the darkness, he realized that nothing looked quite the same to him anymore. His perception had shifted in the course of a night, and he felt unsteady on his feet. He looked up through the canopy of pines and saw the stars shimmering above, cold and bright and distant.

                His mind wandered to Remy and Storm and he felt a new pang of guilt in his chest. “I’m glad you found me, Victor.” He spoke then, keeping his back to the other man. “But…I’m not that man anymore. I’m not James.” He looked to the blood that covered his body, which had already grown tacky and copper colored. The smell that had excited him now only made his stomach turn. “This part of me has no place anymore.”

 

                The other feral nodded solemnly. “I know. I ain’t the same man either. But I still want ya beside me, Jimmy. I know you must want that to. We aren’t like the others…we ain’t meant to stay in one place, ain’t meant to be anybody’s domesticated guard dogs.”

                “It’s…not about that.” He answered. “I got people who depend on me.”

                Sabertooth nodded knowingly, a little growl escaping his lips; “LeBeau.”

                Logan’s eyes narrowed; “How do you know ‘im?”

                “Cause fate is a hell of a funny thing, runt. Keeps us running around, sometimes in the same circles, just missing each other. I know Remy because he used to be mine.”

                All of the softness went out of Logan’s expression. He glared back hard at Victor, sensing some new treachery, some unseen villainy. But Sabertooth was quick with another answer to the questions he hadn’t yet formed; “Oooh, now don’t go getting’ all territorial on me. Clearly, you’ve staked your claim on the Cajun, and I’m not about to dispute it. But, I feel it my duty to warn ya…he ain’t all he seems.”

                “I’ll tell ya what he ain’t Creed, and that’s yours. You leave him out of it,” Logan warned. “You’ve got me believing that there might be just the littlest bit of truth to your story, so if you don’t want that to change, I wouldn’t go saying Gambit’s some kind of spy for Sinister.”

                “Essex has nothing to do with it,” the blonde answered. “Remy’s past has much darker roots. Not unlike ours. I’m sure you know he worked for Sinister, that he was his errand boy for awhile.”

                “Unwillingly.”

                “Of course…” Sabertooth conceded. “We were all manipulated by him. It’s his nature, ya know. He collected mutants like LeBeau and I…when he needed to get his hands dirty.”

                “Gambit never—“

                “Oh but he did, he did. He’s got blood on his hands, Logan. They’re drenched in fact; no better than mine. Sinister can do that to a man, ya see. He can take the sweetest souls and turn them into killers, then cover his tracks so that they never know what happened. LeBeau was his favorite, his special little pet. I tried to help him, I really did. But as soon as Sinister got wind of us…he turned LeBeau on me so fast, I never saw it coming.”

                “You’re lying.” Logan growled, claws showing again.

                “Think so? Go on, ask him. Sure he’ll tell ya tale about how I’m his enemy, about how I tried to murder him. I know exactly what he’ll say; cause it’s exactly what Sinister wants him to believe. That he can’t trust his friends, that they’ll turn on him if he gets too close. It was that bastard’s way of keeping him under his thumb. Can’t say it wasn’t effective.”

                Logan walked away, but Sabertooth was at his heels. “Why do you think I chose now to come to ya? Once I saw you were with LeBeau, I had to tell ya the truth.”

                “Seems convenient to me,” Logan snarled, continuing to march out in the snow. He turned and took a swipe at Sabertooth, who barely dodged getting his face sliced off. “Quit followin’ me!”

                “Don’t you get?!” the bigger mutant retorted, suddenly bonding forward in the snow, leaping over Logan’s head and coming to crouch in front of him, baring his path. “If you don’t get LeBeau out of your little mutant boy scout club, he’s gonna go postal and kill ‘em all!”

                Logan paused then, mouth set in a hard line. “He wouldn’t…he couldn’t…”

                Sabertooth shook his shaggy head. “You don’t have the slightest idea what that boy is capable of if he loses control. He’s got enough potential energy inside ‘em to light up like a fuckin’ super nova! I think even the great Charles Xavier would have trouble dealing with that. Don’t you?”

                For a long moment neither man spoke, and Logan snorted angrily, watching his breath curl around him like smoke. “What do you suggest I do about it? I won’t hurt ‘im, no matter what you say.”

                “Naw…don’t wanna hurt ‘im. We just need to get him out of there. Get him some place safe, where Sinister can’t get his claws in him and deprogram him.”

                The other man shook his head, looking uneasy. “I don’t like the sound of that.”

                “Trust me, it’s the only way to do this. Safe and painless as possible. At least if he goes off on us, we’ll snap back. Can you say the same for those little runts of yours? Shame ta see ‘em burn…”

                “Alright!” Logan barked, still glowering. “I get yer damn point. I’ll…think about it.”

                Sabertooth nodded in agreement. He leaned in, wanting to taste Logan again, but the other feral turned away with an angry grunt, and Victor knew better than to press. “I gotta head back,” the dark haired man muttered, looking down at his blood darkened skin and clothing. “Got shit to figure out.” He glanced at Victor out of the corner of his eye and stalked away, knowing the other man’s gold and black eyes were following him.

                “See ya later.”

 

***

 

                A search party went out, but returned with no success. The night had passed into day, and there was still no sign of Wolverine. Scott had returned from town, where he had been asking for leads from the small network of other local mutants in the area. But he had returned empty handed.

                He walked into the kitchen, shivering, face chapped from the cold, scowling at the empty coffee pot on the counter. Hank lifted his shaggy blue head from the newspaper and greeted him with muted resignation. “A fruitless venture, I see.”

                Scott sighed heavily, “No. All I was able to find out was that he’d been at his usual hole in the wall the night before last and had left some stranger in a fur coat. Nothing more interesting than that.” He resigned himself to staring a new pot of coffee, and Hank sipped his own with slight chagrin. “How’s LeBeau?”

                “A sizable scratch, but nothing a quick stitch couldn’t cure,” Hank answered. “His nerves are much more fragile, however. I don’t think he’s slept or relaxed even for a moment since Logan left. Ro has been trying to keep him occupied.”

                “I don’t understand her fascination with him, or Logan for that matter.” The other man answered, eyes narrowed behind his ruby quartz visor. “Wolverine is unpredictable…he likes danger. Gambit is certainly…exciting…I guess. But seems like he invites trouble wherever he goes. I always thought Storm was much more sensible than that.”

                Hank looked at him curiously, “Granted, Remy’s past is a bit sketchy; and I understand your trepidation about his ties to Sinister. But both Logan and Storm are masters of their own fate and emotions. I don’t think it’s our Cajun friend’s “charm” that attracts them, so much as the man himself. Your anger towards Remy’s closeness with them seems…adolescent.”

                Summers glared at the blue furred man. “It’s my job to keep this team safe. Sometimes that means making hard decisions and being less than popular. I thought you would understand that, Hank.”

                He turned his bitter gaze towards the coffee pot, waiting impatiently for it to finish percolating when he felt a new presence enter the room. “Well? Anyt’ing?”

                Scott exhaled through his nose tiredly at the sound of Gambit’s accent and turned towards their newest member. The southerner looked haggard, his long auburn hair swept back in a messy bun at the back of his head, his clothes wrinkled and stale smelling, dark circles under his red and black eyes.

                “Nothing, Remy, I’m sorry. It’s not entirely unusual for Logan to take off this way. He’s done it before; I’m sure he’s fine.”

                Gambit’s face crumpled and he folded his arms around himself, glaring at his feet, nervous fingers fluttering endlessly against his sleeves. “Non, non, I don’t t’ink so, mon ami. Not de way we left things…I saw somet’ing; triggered somet’ing inside him that made him loose control dat way. I’m scared for him.”

                “He’ll come back when he’s good and ready and not a moment before,” Scott answered again. “He’s selfish like that.” His gaze drifted to Remy’s shoulder, where he could still see bits of white gauze beneath the wide neck of his ill-fitting sweater. Gambit had a terrible habit of finding the wrong fit in clothing, either everything was huge on his wiry frame and made him look small and fragile, or they were too tight, showing a surprising amount of muscle and definition and little slivers of skin…

                Scott frowned again, finally taking a sip of his coffee and shifting uncomfortably against the counter. “How’s the arm?”

                Remy rubbed it absently. “Fine, it will heal. Perhaps I will go out and look again,”

                “There’s no point, Gambit. We’ve searched everything for thirty miles…if Logan doesn’t want to be found, he won’t be.”

                “So dat’s it? You’re just going to leave him out there in dat state?”

                Scott shrugged, “I hate to break it to you, but this is not abnormal for Logan. He’s got demons, a rough past. He lashes out at times…what to you expect from a former government weapon?”

                Remy scowled and looked away, “Logan did not choose to have dose t’ings done to him, how dare you—“

                “I’m sorry if you’re offended, but what I’m telling you is fact, Remy. I know you look at him like a knight in shining armor, but he’s anything but. He’s dangerous, barely in control, always ready to fight. Someone from your background should be more careful around people like that.”

                “’My background’?” Remy retorted, eyes flashing, almost glowing, tension pulling between his shoulders. “And what background is dat, M’sieur Summers?”

                The brunette winced at his poor choice of words. “Remy, let’s not—“ but it was too late for Scott to bow out now. Gambit was ready for a fight. Beast rose nervously from his chair, sensing the energy Remy was already pulling in his hands, seeing little sparks and flickers there and feeling his fur stand on end because of it.

                “Remy…”

                “Stay out of dis, Henri,” the Cajun replied. “M’sieur Summers done pushed too many buttons dis time. What you hate most about me, Scott? Make up your mind, and make it up quick. You hate me more for escaping Essex, or because I’m wit Logan, a man you consider your rival…and not you?”

                Scott slowly sat down his coffee cup. “I don’t appreciate your implications, LeBeau.”

                Remy moved closer, staring at the slightly smaller man, smiling but in a new and dangerous way. He trailed his fingers along Scott’s bicep. “T’ink you frustrated, jealous of Logan. Used ta be maybe cause he caught your woman’s eye, but now…now maybe it’s your eye that’s wanderin’ eh? You like de way I look, but you scowl when you t’ink about what I am and what I come from. Heh. Listen to me, m’sieur, Remy has had plenty o’ men like you; men who t’ink dey use him for a night. Why not slum it wit de dirty southern boy? After all, ain’t like he ain’t asking for it.” His voice was a low dangerous snarl too close to Scott’s face.

                “LeBeau, I swear to God, if you don’t back off—“

                “You’ll what? Put me through de wall like you did Wolverine? Don’t t’ink de Professor would approve.”

                He leaned in, close, too close, and lightly tapped Scott’s coffee cup. For a second it glowed bright fuchsia and then with a pop and a bang it exploded, spraying coffee everywhere and making Scott yelp.

                “What’s going on in here?” Storm’s voice erupted in the tense aftermath, making them all turn towards her.

                Gambit stalked away from Cyclops, not quite meeting her gaze, but the sizzle of energy still hung in the air and Scott was still standing there, dripping with coffee and looking caught between pissing himself and ripping the Cajun’s head off.

                “I think tensions are a little high,” Beast said, moving to Scott’s side and helping him clean up. “Perhaps a bit of fresh air is needed.”

                Storm nodded to him, following Remy out of the room. They walked in silence until they reached the second floor, where Ro stopped him.

                “Remy, that was uncalled for…”

                “Really?” Gambit retorted sharply, “I t’ink I let him off easy. Dat man…I know he’s your friend, Ro, your leader, but he rubs dis Cajun de wrong way! I don’t have ta be a telepath to know what he t’inking whenever I’m around and I can’t…you don’t know…”

                “Scott would never do anything to hurt you, whatever your differences. He shouldn’t let his animosity towards Logan affect his perception, and neither should you.” Gambit nodded faintly, though he looked less than receptive to the idea. She sighed and leaned on the railing, overlooking the grand foyer beyond the front door. “It wasn’t always easy for me here either. You probably wouldn’t believe it, but when I first came here, I was…a bit of a brat.”

                Remy chuckled at this, “You, mon cherie? I don’t believe it.”

                “I spent my youth in ignorance. I believed I was a goddess. And I behaved accordingly. It wasn’t until Charles found me that I began to realize what a big world it was out there, and that I was such a small part of it.” She sighed wistfully, “But some days…I long for that simplicity.”

                Gambit reached over and took her hand, tangling her fingers in his and smiled, “If it’s any consolation, cher, I like ya as ya are now. Can see why Logan’s so fond of you.”

                She smiled at him, grey eyes warmer than usual as her fingers toyed with his. “And I can see why he fell so deeply for you.

                Remy looked away somewhat coyly and Storm smiled to herself, though she chewed her lip, wondering if she hadn’t overplayed her hand. This was new territory for her as well, after all, feeling such a strong attraction to two men at once. With Logan they always seemed to pick up right where they left off. But with Remy in the mix, the game had changed.

                Gambit seemed about to speak again when a scream interrupted them. Both jolted and rushed for the stairs, Remy leaping over the rail and landing nimbly on the floor before tearing down the hall, Storm soaring after him.

                The source of the scream turned out to Jubilee, who was gawking and pointing at a figure who had entered through one of the many side doors of the Institute. Under blood and gore, they both quickly recognized Logan’s frame.

                “Shh, shh! Jesus Christ, Jubes, calm down! It’s only me!” the feral grunted, none too kindly, seeming highly agitated by the girl’s terror of him.

                Storm moved forward, grabbing the young girl’s arm and pulling her away, “Jubilee, calm yourself. Go back to class, we’ll handle things here.”

                “A-are you okay?” the girl rasped, still staring at the stocky blood-covered figure in the doorway.

                “Fine,” Logan grunted. He turned his eyes to Remy, who was staring at him with a strange expression of confusion and worry. Storm ushered the young woman way, driving off other curious onlookers from further down the hall as the Cajun moved forward.

                He touched Logan’s bloody clothing with light, curious fingers. “How much of dis is yours?” he asked quietly.

                “None,” the feral answered. “Ya oughta know by now, I can’t be hurt so easy.”

                Logan glared at the floor, feeling dirty and ashamed now that he stood in front of his lover. He could still smell Victor on his clothes and skin, and the blood, though it had gone cold and dried continued to incense and confuse him, making him feel less rational.

                None of this showed on his face however, not that it needed to. He was sure Remy was trying to get a read off him even now, feeling the faintest bit of that charm edging on his consciousness. “Where have you been?”

                “Nowhere in particular,” the dark haired grunted, moving forward now with Remy trailing at his arm. “Just…needed to clear my head.”

                “You could have called.” Remy’s voice was a little sharper now, but edged with worry. “The way you left had us all a little one edge, surely you could’ve—“

                “Coulda, woulda, shoulda,” Logan snarled at him, surprised by his own aggression. “But I didn’t. I…needed to be away, from everyone. Something went off inside me…trust me, you wouldn’t have wanted to be there.”

                They made their way to their room and Logan stalked inside, stripping himself out of his clothes and throwing them at the hamper by the bathroom door. Remy lingered in the doorway, confused and silent.

                “What’s the matter, Gumbo?” he grunted at him. “I scare you?”

                He felt the Cajun move towards him and touch him arm. He did not expect, however, to feel those long fingers grip his shoulder, turn him around and punch him squarely in the face, enough to snap his head back.

                Wolverine blinked, rubbing his jaw. The blow must have hurt the kid’s hand, but he didn’t show it. Those ruby eyes were too busy glaring down at him. “You complete asshole!” he snapped. “You disappear for two days, come back covered in blood, and don’t even have de decency to offer some sort of explanation to me!?”

                Logan blinked at him, and gradually his eyes moved from the younger man’s fierce expression to the bits of bandage he saw covering his shoulder. His hard expression softened to one of remorse and he looked away, shocked by his own callousness and irrational anger.

                “You’re right…” he mumbled, falling onto the edge of the bed. “What…what am I doing?”

                “If you are unsure, cher, den I am at a total loss,” his lover replied, shaking out his hand, knuckles red and bruising already. He knelt beside Logan, resting his hand on his knee; “Dis is not you, cher. What happened? Please…please tell me. Whatever it is.”

                Logan looked at him thoughtfully for a long moment, searching his face. He didn’t know how to say what had transpired between him and Victor Creed; he didn’t even know where to start. But he couldn’t deny the man in front of him, who had already moved from anger to forgiveness, so worried for his well-being. Logan felt sick.

                “I met someone. Someone…like me. Another feral mutant. He, claims to know who I was before Weapon X.”

                Remy’s eyes widened. “Mon Dieu, Logan, dat’s incredible! What did he say—where did you meet him?”

                “He found me…in the woods. I had to get away from people, didn’t feel safe. But he must have tracked me. So we got to talking.”

                “And?”

                Wolverine paused again, “He had quite the yarn to spin. But I’m not sure I believe ‘em. At any rate, he’s gone now.”

                “Gone? But why?”

                “He’s…not much of a people person either, I guess.” He looked down at his bloody hands and Remy took them in his, gently examining them.

                “Whose blood is dis, cher?”

                “It’s animal blood. Killed a deer in the forest. Apparently…I used to be really good at hunting…”

                Like an animal. He thought, caught somewhere between bitterness and fascination. Gambit pulled him up again and lead him towards the bathroom. He tugged Logan inside, sat him down on the bench beside the shower and took a clean towel, which he wetted thoroughly in warm water, and quietly began to clean him up.

                The ritual was silent, their only exchange through the brush of skin against skin. Remy’s hands were so careful, tender and thorough in their task, leaving no inch of skin from Logan’s head to his midriff unwashed.

                Wolverine’s heart clenched in his chest at the care and attention the man showed him; feeling underserving of it after what he had done. Remy scrubbed behind his ear, until Logan caught his arm and pulled him in, kissing him deeply and apologetically.

                “I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry. Forgive me,” he mumbled.

                Remy only sighed and nodded, having already done so, though he was still greatly worried for the man in front of him. “Let’s lie down, cher. You don’t look like you’ve slept, and neither have I.”

                Wolverine nodded and they moved back into the bedroom. Logan remained in only his briefs, pulling Remy carefully out of his clothes and wincing when he saw the full extent of the bandages on his shoulder. The lanky Cajun crawled into the bed beside him, graceful and silent like a cat and let Logan curl against his chest, hugging him hard. Remy toyed with his, kissing Logan’s scalp and started to hum some song low in his throat, a word or two of French escaping his lips in a sleepy mutter every few breathes.

                Logan felt his heart slow to Gambit’s rhythm and felt the tension in his muscles slowly leak out of him. He felt himself again, free of his rage and his primal instincts. He was Logan again, and once more in the arms of the man he belonged with. Victor seemed very far away in that moment; surreal and distant like a dream.

               

**

Chapter Text

 

 

                They dozed the day away, missing both classes and training sessions; utterly uninterrupted until sometime after dark, when Storm entered their room with a tray of food to find them lounging in bed watching Cajun Justice on television. Neither were dressed, Gambit in one of Logan’s over-sized flannels and tight black boxers and Logan in his sweat pants and ratty Xavier School tank-tops.

                “Here you are. And somehow, I expected the both you to be embroiled in some deep heart-felt conversation.” She chuckled at them, setting the tray on the leather footstool by the bed.

                “Desole, Ro,” Gambit grinned almost sheepishly as he looked up at her. “Hope you weren’t worried.”

                “With you two? How can I be anything but.” She replied with a smirk.

                “Scooter say anything? I think I blew off his lecture and at least two field exercises.” Logan asked in that “sorry, not sorry” voice.

                “Yes, but I thought it best that you weren’t disturbed. I had assumed you two were discussing what happened in your absence.” She fixed Logan with one of those maternal looks that commanded a response and the dark haired feral bristled a little, but told her what she had told Remy previously.

                Ro did not react the same way that Remy had; she seemed much more concerned. “This sounds to me like something you should speak to Xavier about.” She said pensively.

                “I ain’t botherin’ Xavier with this. Besides, he’s got enough on his plate.”

                “He would want to know about this. Your lost identity has always troubled him, if you’ve found some link, some other feral like yourself, he would be welcomed here.”

                “Leave it alone, Ro. I’ll take care of it in my own way.”

                Remy blinked between the two of them, sensing the tension rising between the two former lovers. He put an arm on Logan’s shoulder, “Cher, it’s alright. Ro just means dat you don’t have ta hide dis from us. But you take your time, when you ready, den we’ll meet dis mystery man.”

                Logan looked away, but he seemed less tense about the idea. “Maybe,” he replied. “A man’s got a right to keep a few things to himself.” He gave Ro a strange cryptic look that made the taller woman bow her head and look away before brushing down her skirt and heading towards door again.

                “Well, I’ll leave you two alone. Goodnight.” She turned and started towards the door, and had no sooner made it into the hallway before Logan was at her heels, catching her wrist in his big hand.

                “Darlin’, wait.”

                She turned, feeling a twinge in her heart at the way he spoke with that old familiar love in his voice. “Don’t mean to chase ya off. My head’s all twisted around with this mess, I’m not sure how to handle it yet. And I’m not sure I trust the guy fully, either.”

                “Why is that?”

                He glanced back at the doorway, but Remy hadn’t followed. He ushered them a little further along the corridor until they were standing in an alcove together. “It’s not just me he’s tied to. He apparently has had run-ins with Gambit as well.”

                Storm’s grey eyes widened a little, and Logan went on; “Seems he knew Remy from his days with Sinister. Had plenty ta say about what our Cajun did while he was under his thumb. None of it good.”

                This made Ro nervous and she glanced back towards the doorway of their bedroom. “Do you believe him?” she asked in a hushed voice.

                Logan shoved his hands into his pockets, leaning his head back against the wall in frustration. “I don’t know what to believe. But you and I both know what Gambit can do when he’s pushed too far, and I know how desperate he was to get away from Sinister.”

                “We’ve both known that kind of desperation, Logan. Are we not all capable of terrible things if we don’t keep ourselves in check? I’m sure there is another side to this story.”

                Wolverine nodded; “Maybe when the Professor gets back…I should ask him ta talk with Rems. Just to…be sure.”

                Storm raised a delicate white brow. “You must be worried. Is it really that bad?”

                He fixed her with another of his trade mark scowling looks of concern and Storm felt her stomach tighten a little. “Is he safe?” she asked.

                Logan rolled his shoulders, turning away then, clearly tired of speculating. “Better get back. We’ll talk later, okay?”

                “Promise?”

                He nodded and turned back to lean up and peck her on the cheek. “Promise, darlin’.”

                She nodded and watched him return to the room, only to see him come storming out a second later. “Shit!”

                “What--?”

                He was struggling to throw on a shirt, muttering to himself. “He musta developed some damn super hearing cause he’s gone. Come on, help me find ‘im.”

                “Oh no,” she muttered, trotting down the hall after him. “But I didn’t see him leave—“

                “Out the window.”

                “You two are much too similar.”

                “Shut up, I know.”

 

**

                The former thief crept along the narrow bridge edging that wrapped around the third story of the mansion, lean form slithering across the bricks like a shadow, toes and fingers arched and clawed, grasping any little nook or cranny to keep his footing and balance.

                His instinct to flee was somewhat childish, but too well ingrained in his instinct to ignore, especially once he’d overheard what Logan and Ororo were discussing. As much as he trusted Logan and had seen the man’s faith in him; Remy knew there were things in his all too recent past that might make his lover reconsider. Things that still made him wake at night in a cold sweat. He had no idea how any connection to Logan’s past could also know about his…but that hardly mattered.

                He ducked into the nearest unlocked window, finding the room dark, but not preoccupied. Both he and the woman inside let out a little gasp of surprise at this sudden intrusion.

                “Remy?”

                Jean Grey; the golden girl of the Xavier Institute, Logan’s former love interest and Scott Summer’s fiancé. Remy saw her every day, but the two had had maybe two complete conversations since his arrival.

                “Pardon, Miss Grey, I will uh—just go back de way I came—“ he said hurriedly, ready to climb back out onto the snowy sill.

                “Wait,” the red haired woman said, rising from her desk where she had been sitting and pulling her sweater a little tighter around her frame from the chill. “What are you doing out there? It’s freezing, not to mention icy. Is something wrong?”

                Remy didn’t know quite how to answer her and stood awkwardly in front of the window, already shivering in the wind. He felt it shut behind him and he jumped a little, and Jean chuckled nervously, moving forward. “Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you. Telekinesis. Guess you didn’t know I could do that.”

                “Non,” was all the Cajun muttered, staring at the floor. “Desole, madam, I did not mean to intrude. I’ll leave.”

                She moved and touched his arm gently and he flinched slightly. “Why are you afraid of me, Gambit?” she asked calmly but bluntly, peering into his face.

                Gambit returned her look, red and black eyes meeting her green ones. “Not afraid of you personally, Miss Jean. It’s…” he tapped his temple, hoping she would understand.

                “Ah,” she answered, removing her hand. “I see. You know, that’s not uncommon. A lot of people get nervous around telepaths. But I promise, I’m one of the good ones. I don’t go about reading minds at random. Especially those of my friends and teammates.”

                Remy nodded, but didn’t relax. “Is everything alright with Logan? Did you two have a fight?”

                He shook his head, looking everywhere but her. He was as tense as a coil about to burst, and Jean wished she could understand why. Remy sensed her frustration, her concern and her own nervousness at his presence. But he sensed no intrusion, no attempt to read his thoughts. He forced himself to breathe a bit easier.

                “It’s hard, isn’t it?” he asked quietly.

                “Hmm?”

                “You can sort of sense it, even though you’re not trying to. The buzzing sound?” he asked, and Jean squinted at him, not understanding.

                Remy moved a little closer, letting down his shields by the smallest degree. “I never met a telepath I liked, cherie, but…never met one who much cared for me either. Empaths, telepaths…we run on two different wave lengths, it’s like oil and water. Even de Professor admits I sometimes overwhelm him after long exposure, cause he always feels some of my influence.”

                She shifted uncomfortably and Remy recognized her body language as one he had often read on others; a bit of fear, a bit of excitement, mixed with arousal and trepidation. Women reacted different to his Charm, especially women with powers like Jean’s.

                He moved away from her again and pushed it all down and he felt her relax a bit as he did so. “Desole. But you see what I mean.”

                “Yes,” she mumbled, pulling the sweater down a little lower over her legs and crossing them as she sat on the edge of her bed. “But the ‘buzzing’ you’re talking about…that’s new. What is it?”

                Gambit busied himself with looking at the pictures on her wall; pictures of her as child with Xavier, who had much more hair then, and pictures of her and Scott and some of the original team members, and even one with her and Logan on his motorcycle. Scott must have loved having that around.

                “It’s cause o’ my energy; my ability to channel and charge it. See, all that energy just keeps coursing through me, recycling over and over, like a generator. Never really stops. And it creates dis…static…in my head. I don’t notice it, o’course, but telepaths…dey can barely stand it. Makes ‘em feel like dey watching’ a blurred out cable channel, ya know?”

                “An impressive defense.” Jean smiled.

                “Naw….not for anyone who wants ta get in bad enough.” Remy frowned. He glanced back at her again, “Where’s your beau? Shouldn’t he be here wit you?”

                “Scott’s in the Danger Room working on some new programs with Beast.” Jean answered. She raised an eyebrow, “Are you going to tell me why you’re hiding in here?”

                “I’m not…” he countered, rather pathetically. He chewed his lip then, nervous fingers drumming along his sides. He turned towards the door now, figuring the window as no longer an option. Jean was up again, rushing to him.

                “Remy, please talk to me. If something’s wrong with Logan, maybe I can help.”

                “Dis is not about Logan.”

                “Then what—“

                She made the mistake that all too many people make. She grabbed him, not harshly, or intrusively, but just enough to set off his panic reflex. Remy’s fear, his rage and humiliation hit her full force and she saw for a few brief seconds a jumble of the darkest parts of his mind.

                Both fell back with a cry, Gambit holding his head and stumbling into a run as he barreled out the door and Jean lying on the floor, trying to catch her breath. “Remy…Remy!”

**

                Meanwhile, Storm and Logan were on the opposite end of the mansion, having found no sign of the Cajun.

                Wolverine’s anxiety was growing by the second, as was his frustration with the situation as a whole. If Gambit had taken off at the mere mention of his past, it meant that it could possibly be as dark as Victor had described.

                “Logan, he’s nowhere here. He must have gone outside,” Storm called as she returned from the doorway of the indoor pool area.

                “He hates the fucking cold, why would he--?” he growled in frustration and shook his head. “I’ll go, maybe he headed down to the lake house. You stay here, keep searchin’.”

                She nodded, “What should I say if I find him?”

                “I have no idea, Ro. Just…keep ‘im calm.” Logan answered, marching towards the nearest exit. “And whatever ya do, keep ol’ one eye out of this. He tends to make these situations worse.”

                Storm watched him go, then turned and continued down to the main level once more, hoping that someone would have seen the elusive Cajun go by. It troubled her to think that Remy had something so terrible in his past that would make him run from the idea of it being revealed. It troubled her more that it was coming from a mysterious source that Logan couldn’t be sure was trustworthy.

                The whole thing was beyond suspicious, and while she was not adviser to a little excitement and mystery in her relationships, this seemed a bit excessive. She trotted along the hall, heels clacking, peeking in every room she passed, but still no sign of Gambit.

                “Times like these make me think tracking devices aren’t such a bad idea,” she muttered to herself. Then she realized there was one place that was usually empty this time of night, and it was the one place she hadn’t searched yet.

                Taking another swift turn, and forgoing the use of her feet in favor of flight, she breezed through the cavernous halls until she came to the library. The door was usually locked in the evening (to keep mischievous students out) but Storm saw at once that the lock had been picked and the door was slightly ajar.

                Inside it was dark but warm, and as she listened, she heard quiet mutterings and heavy breathing coming from the far left past a long row of shelves. She approached silently, allowing herself to float, and found Gambit huddled on a couch alone, hands in his hair muttering angrily to himself between hiccupping breaths.

                Ro moved forward, pausing at the edge of the couch. “Remy,”

                “Go away,” Gambit snarled in a tone that she had never heard him use before. “Get out of here, I’m not…I’m not safe ta be around.”

                Ro looked at him pitifully and sunk down next to him. “I think you are only a danger to yourself at the moment, sweetheart.” She put her hands lightly on his forearms and felt him flinch, but didn’t pull back.

                “Remy, you’re safe here. Please, talk to me. Logan and I are worried.”

                “You should be,” Gambit muttered again. He looked up at her with wet, miserable eyes. “I wreck everything I touch. It best you two just walk away now.”

                She plucked his face from the burrow of his arms and made him look at her, leaning in to kiss his cheek and ear and stroke his neck. “You’re a fool to think that either of us would be so easily put off. Come here,”

                Remy found himself pulled into her arms despite his feeble resistance, her arms wrapped around him firmly but not harshly and her lips against his forehead. “Let it out, whatever it is. I’ll help you carry it.”

                The auburn haired Cajun grit his teeth bitterly, feeling more angry tears rush hotly down his cheeks. “Non, cherie…”

                Ro gave him a reassuring squeeze. “Trust me. Please.”

                Remy wasn’t sure why he gave in then, if it out was out of frustration, spite, or the pale hope that maybe, maybe this time it wouldn’t end in disaster. Whatever it was, it was too late to turn back now.

                Ororo wasn’t sure what she expected to happen. Remy didn’t speak at all, but rather just exhaled a heavy breath and went a little limper against her. She felt the change a second later, as if seized by a sudden headache.

                It was like listening to a grand orchestra in a completely dark room. Feelings that were not her own washed over her, but she could identify and feel them intensely as if they were. Images, watery and fleeting drifted in and out of her mind’s eye; Remy’s memories.

                A grasping sort of hopefulness filled her; a determination that was more fierce than she thought possible. So fierce and blind that it drown out all the nagging doubts that followed close behind it, all the internal cries of fear and warning.

                This faded into dread and anger which snowballed into a rush of adrenaline and rage so powerful Ro felt her stomach twist and tighten and her heart rate rise, sweat form on her neck. She squeezed Remy’s arms tightly, but didn’t withdraw or push him away. She was determined to hang on for the ride.

                Emotions and memories became chaotic, she felt sick and battered and helpless. Through Remy’s blurred perspective, she perceived a strange figure that towered over them, stronger, faster and far more vicious. She felt Gambit’s terror, his determination to escape, and his exhaustion as the figure before them defeated him at every turn before finally managing to deal a stunning blow that left them defenseless.

                What came next…being forced against the wall, clothing shredding away, fresh wounds stinging and bleeding, legs being forced open…

                Around them the world seemed to be coming down, people screaming, dying and a voice in his ear muttering how it was all his fault, that he deserved this, it was all his fault!

                She let out a scream of her own, hardly without realizing it, and it was only then that Remy drew back, regained control and pulled away from her. Ro wrapped her arms around herself, shuddering and wincing.

                “By the Goddess, Remy!”

                Gambit seemed utterly drained, having fallen back against the couch, staring glassy eyed at nothing. “Sorry Stormy…couldn’t hold it back…”

                Storm struggled to maintain her composure, though her eyes were wet and she was still shaking from the effects, feeling like she may very well be sick at any moment. She wanted to touch Gambit, but sensed he needed a moment to collect himself.

                “When we rescued you that day…this is what happened to you?”

                The man next to her nodded mutely.

                Storm swallowed the urge to vomit. The chaos of the memories was overwhelming, especially since they were only emotional imprints and not actual clear images. “Does Logan know?” she asked quietly.

                Gambit slowly pulled himself forward, looking pale and haggard. “Non,” he mumbled dryly. “Don’t want him to know.” He got to his feet shakily, pulled his limp sweaty hair back and tied it with a bit of elastic around his wrist into a stubby bun. “When I met Logan, I was homeless. Living on de streets, performing card tricks for handouts. I’d go home wit anyone willing, and dey either pay me, or I’d rob dem if t’ings went south. Which dey did a lot, especially wit men.” He shrugged his shoulders, letting out a dry laugh. “How could I sink any lower?”

                Storm stood and put her arms around him, hugging him hard and close. Gambit seemed surprised at her emotion and affection despite seeing what he viewed as the ugliest part of himself. “Don’t pity me, cherie. I survived, thanks to you and Hank and Logan. Life goes on…”

                “I don’t pity you,” she replied. “I love you. And I’m sorry.”

                They were interrupted then by the sound of door opening and Scott and Jean emerging. “Everything okay in here?” Summers asked, squinting between the two figures in the dark room.

                Remy pulled back from Storm then, bowing his head, “Fine. Miss Grey, I’m—“

                “It’s fine, Gambit.” Jean said quickly, though she looked a little less than comfortable. Ororo looked between the three of them in confusion then stepped forward.

                “Everything okay in here, Ro?” Scott asked suspiciously.

                “Why wouldn’t it be?”

                “Well, apparently there’s been a bit of stir this evening,” Scott sighed, looking back at Remy, who was looking rather guilty and nervous at the moment. “I’d like a moment alone with him, if that’s okay.”

                “No,” The taller woman spoke then with surprising decisiveness. “I don’t think now’s the best time.”

                “It’s important, Ro.” Jean replied, but the white haired woman didn’t back down. She turned back to Remy instead and took his hand, drawing him up close to her.

                “It can wait.” She insisted, moving past the two of them without further comment, looping one arm around Gambit’s back as he did the same, glancing back over his shoulder at them in vague surprise.

 

**

 

                The lake house had been a bust; there was no sign that Remy or anyone else had been there since the day before. There were no tracks, no scent to follow, and Logan kept looking back at the house, searching windows and ledges and rooftops to see if he could spot the lean shadow of his lover, but nothing caught his eye.

                “Oh Gumbo,” he growled to himself, “you’re scaring me, darlin’. What are you hiding from me?”

                He was just about to give up the hunt when a new presence made itself known. Logan turned sharply, glaring into the woods, noise to the wind. After a few moments of still observation, he made himself known.

                Victor’s gold eyes flashed between the darkness of the trees, followed by the faint white glint of teeth, before he turned and receded into the forest, waiting for Logan to follow him. Wolverine frowned deeply, feeling unnerved that the other feral had followed him back here, knowing what it could mean if he was seen by the others.

 

                He tracked Victor into the woods, and it was not long before he caught up to him, waiting curiously on the edge of some tiny clearing at the foot of a hill.

                “What are you doing here?” Logan demanded, marching up to him.

The larger man poked at the bare spot before him with his foot. “See that?”

Wolverine blinked at him; “What?”

Sabertooth crouched in the snow and exhaled a long breath in front of him. For a split second Logan could see a faint lazer wire appear in front of them. “Trip wire. Your furry blue friend has been busy I guess. Don’t remember these being here.”

The dark haired feral glared at him. “You ain’t got any right to be coming on this land, all things aside. Whatever you are to me, Victor, you still work for Magneto, and that makes you unwelcomed here.”

                The gold haired feral rolled his eyes, toying with his nails. “So…did you tell ‘im?”

                Logan shifted nervously, and Victor grinned, smelling it on him. “Chickened out, did ya?”

                Wolverine leered at him; “I never said I believed what you said about him and you. Maybe I lost my memories, but I sure as hell wasn’t born yesterday.” He extended one claw and pointed it at him. “What do you want with Remy?”

                Sabertooth grinned and laughed, and it was a hyena like sound that made Logan shudder. “Look at you, showing your claws ta me. There was a time you woulda thought better than that. But…I guess those times have past. Things have to change…I accept that.”

                “I love that man; I would never do anything to hurt him. What happened yesterday was…a mistake. It can’t happen again.”

                Creed cocked his head; “Really? That how you feel about it?”

                “I’m afraid so.”

                Victor moved closer to him, too close, leaning in and breathing Logan’s scent, smiling deeper when he noted the Cajun’s scent on the man. “Then how about a goodbye kiss? I never got one before.”

                Logan tried to lean away, but Victor turned his head and caught his mouth against his, kissing him deep and possessively, making Logan moan. Victor pulled him in hard and fast, pressed flush against each other, though he had to bend to keep contact with the shorter man.

                Within a few minutes Logan could feel the other man’s arousal pressing against him again. He knew where this was going, and this time he couldn’t give in so easily. He sunk his nails into Victor’s thigh and forced him back, biting his lip to make his point.

                Sabertooth snarled, more aroused than irritated by his companion’s resistance. “What’s the matter? Conscience nagging at ya, runt?” he chuckled.

                “What makes you think you have the right to just strut in here whenever you please? Ya don’t have any claim to me, Victor.”

                Creed’s eyes narrowed somewhat dangerously. “I have the only claim to you, runt. You were mine, decades before these children were ever thought of. You ever consider that? You’re messing around with Lebeau, he’s barely a pup compared to ya.”

                Logan hadn’t considered this, and Victor saw he had touched a cord somewhere. He managed to corner the smaller man against the trunk of the tree, leaning in to nuzzle his neck. Logan growled low in his throat but didn’t push him away.

                “You think it’s easy for me, seeing you like this? You’ve moved on, started over…left me behind.”

                He sounded almost remorseful and Logan glanced back at him, “I wish I could remember. But I don’t. It’s not personal.”

                “Everything between you and me is personal, runt.”

                “Stop calling me that.”

                Victor chuckled. “You’re cute when you’re mad, Jimmy.”

                Logan shoved him back forcefully, actually lifting Sabertooth from his feet and sending him skidding across the snowy ground on his back. He let out another loud mocking laugh at Logan, who howled and leapt on top of him, pinning him forcefully to the frozen earth.

                “You think I’m cute do ya?” he hissed, showing him teeth and claws. He leaned down and left a bloody love mark on his neck that wrenched another howl from the blonde’s lips. He grabbed the back of Logan’s neck and urged him bite harder, grinning despite the thrills of pain that lanced through his skin and muscles.

                Wolverine continued to maul him, though the bites and scratches were turning less brutal and more passionate as he moved down Victor’s heavily muscled frame, finding skin to scratch and tear at and taste below his clothing.

                Sabertooth never did anything to discourage him or fight back, seeming all too eager to have Logan dominate him. Something in the back of Wolverine’s mind was sending up red flags, reminding him that this was exactly what he shouldn’t be doing, and that it felt wrong. But something else had taken over Logan’s senses.

                He was never this rough, this brutal with any of his lovers, though there hadn’t been many. Before he had joined the X-Men, there was a string of one-night stands, some of which encouraged this behavior. But Logan had never been comfortable with it. Control was too hard to maintain in the heat of the moment and he risked frightening or damaging his partner.

                But Victor liked his brutality. Loved it in fact, at least by the way he was breathing and dark look in his eyes as he pushed Logan’s head down against his skin, raking his nails along Logan’s back so that it snagged in the threads of his shirt and tore it, baring exposed skin to the wind and cold and scrape of his talons.

                “Tough little man…think you can handle me?”

                “Shut up!” Logan growled, yanking the man’s belt open and tearing the thick fabric down his thighs before leaving another bloody mark on Victor’s thigh that actually earned a whimper from the bigger feral.

                Incensed by the smell and heat of the other man, Logan gave over to the primal thing inside him, which told him that he needed to prove himself to other male, who was mocking and challenging him and begging to be shown who the alpha was between them.

                Wolverine gripped the man’s thick erection in his palm and began to work him roughly up and down, watching Victor’s hips stutter slightly in response before dipping his head down to lick him. Victor sighed heavily and tried to push upward, but Logan gave him a painful little tug and twist that put him back in his place quickly.

                “You fuckin’ little cock tease…” Victor muttered, and Logan licked him again just to prove his point before bowing his head and taking his head into his mouth and sucking hard. Victor growled and groaned, trying to push Logan’s head down further, but the smaller man wouldn’t budge, punishing Victor for being impatient by scraping his sensitive flesh with his teeth.

                “Ah! Fuck!”

                Logan smiled, knowing for the moment he’d won the battle.

 

**

               

                Ro returned Remy to her bedroom, where they were effectively isolated from the rest of the mansion’s numerous inhabitants. “Dat was impressive,” Gambit said, once they were alone and the door locked behind him.

                Ororo rolled her shoulders, the open neck of her sweater sliding further down them as she did so. “Jean and I are close enough to know when the line has been draw. She’ll respect that, and so will Scott.”

                “Well, it’s my fault at any rate. I sorta dropped in on Miss Grey by mistake, and it just went downhill from dere,” Remy sighed.

                “Nevermind it now,” she insisted, taking his hand again and leading him further into the room. Remy flopped down on her old sofa, his favorite spot, as it was large and soft and felt like sinking into bed.

                The woman moved to her windows, pulling the curtains shut against the cold snowy landscape, scanning it for signs of Logan but not seeing anything. “Logan will be back shortly. He was searching the grounds, thinking maybe you tried to leave.”

                Remy looked to her worriedly. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’ta took off like I did. I just…panicked.”

                She nodded, but Remy could see she was still trying to wrap her head around what had transpired between them. “I can’t pretend to understand,” she began. “But I won’t demand details from you either. All either of us ask is that you trust us, Remy. Logan would do anything for you; you can’t think he’d turn away so easily.”

                “I know, cherie. And I love him. Just don’t want to burden him anymore, and…don’t want him to look at me like I’m broken.”

                “You’re not broken.”

                Gambit pulled her down next to him and looked at her seriously. “You mean what you said, cher? Dat you…love me?”

                Ro blushed faintly, turning her dark cheeks faintly rosey. “Yes. I care about you deeply, Remy.”

                “Why you not say so before?”

                “You are with Logan. Do you even like women?”

                Gambit smiled, though it was pale compared to his usual Cheshire grin. “I like both, cherie. And, if you don’t mind my sayin’…I knew you were crushin’ on me for awhile now. Just never thought you’d get up de nerve to say so.”

                Storm looked slightly mortified. “I’m sorry. You have to know it’s not just because of your charm. That’s not it at all.”

                “Is it because of Logan? I know you two used ta be a t’ing.”

                “Maybe on some level. But the attraction I have to you has nothing to do with my history with him. You’re very unique, Remy. You’re kind and loving, and your sense of humor is certainly welcomed around here. I enjoy being with you, as more than just a teammate, more than a friend.” She squeezed his hands and leaned in to kiss his cheek. “But if you don’t—“

                Remy surprised her then by leaning in and kissing her softly on the lips. Storm felt herself smile against his lips and returned the gesture softly but eagerly. It had been too long since she’d had a kiss like this one; one that was soft and curious and full of the excitement of embarking on something new.

                Gambit pulled back a moment later, seeming a little bit lighter for the experience as some of the weariness had left his face.

                “Are you sure?” she asked, sounding a bit shaky herself.

                He nodded and pulled her down against him as they laid on the couch together, and she put her head on his chest and wrapped her long legs around his as he pulled the blanket down over them and settled into the cushions. “Tired, cherie. Can we rest a bit?”

                She kissed his shirt over his pulse and nodded. “Of course.”

                “What about Logan?”

                “He’ll find his way back soon.”

 

**

               

                Logan came up for air, lips wet and jaw aching slightly, Victor’s smell and taste smothering all his senses. The bigger man was on edge, half mad with lust, looking about ready to throw Logan down and face fuck him to death. But Wolverine still had the upper hand. He’d managed to maneuver the older feral so far onto his back, legs over Logan’s shoulders, that he couldn’t gain much leverage, and any move he could try to break his hold would also result in less attention from Logan’s mouth and hands. Something he obviously wasn’t willing to give up.

                “Come on, finish it!” Creed groaned.

                “I didn’t hear a please,” Wolverine teased, taking up the pace with his hand again instead, staring at Victor as he teased him with little flicks of his tongue, moving closer but never quite giving enough contact.

                Creed’s nerves were on fire, inches from climax. He thrust up into Logan’s hand, trying to force himself back into the man’s mouth, but wasn’t quite able to do so in this position. As frustrating as it was, he was thrilled to be challenged by a lover. So few were ever able to give him the struggle he craved.

                Then, finally, he felt Logan take him in again and suck hard, earning an actual purr from the big feral for several seconds that turned into a howl as he exploded. Wolverine gulped hurriedly, slightly overwhelmed and wrenched his head back, breathing hard as Creed slowly came down from orgasm.

                “Shit! That was good…” Victor laughed, looking back up at him face flushed and eyes a bit too bright and hazy. “Just like I remembered it.”

                Logan gave him a wicked smile, letting the man’s lower half slide down into his lap where his own unattended erection was threatening to burst through his pants. Creed laughed again; “I wouldn’t recommend trying it,” he warned.

                Wolverine ghosted a breath over him and made the man moan and growl in spite of himself, which only heightened his sense of dominance. But just when he thought he’d have the man begging, Creed pulled back a leg and kicked him off.

                Logan rolled back in the snow in surprise only to be pounced on by the bigger man and held down by the nape of the neck. “You gotta learn your place all over again, runt. I don’t get fucked unless I want it to happen. I’m not LeBeau.”

                The name jolted him, like being dropped in an icy lake, and Logan immediately recovered himself, realizing what he had given into. He pushed back against Victor with a howl and swiped at him, cutting his face with the edge of his claws. Sabertooth howled as blood flecked the snow below him and he stood there, hand pressed to the long gashes that had nearly taken his eye. “You little bitch.”

                “Leave him out of this. He’s got nothin’ in it!”

                “You think he won’t find out?” Victor snarled. “You can’t keep it from ‘im forever, ya know. Little swamp rat can smell these things on people.”

                Wolverine knew of course that he was right. This had to end; but he just didn’t know how to walk away. He wavered, and Victor recognized his weakness and moved in on it, moving up behind him and putting his arms around the smaller man, kissing his neck.

                “You can run back to your cushy little life in that big house, playing Xavier’s rabid guard dog and taking orders from that boy scout if that’s what you really want. Enjoy it, while it lasts. Cause I promise you, Sinister is coming for LeBeau. And when he finds him; you won’t be able to stop him.”

                Logan shuddered at the thought. “How do I stop it?”

                “Bring ‘im to me. They can’t do anything for ‘im if Sinister gets his hooks in. You and me, though, we can undo the damage. It’s gonna take time though.”

                “I don’t like that. Remy’s safe here, how would bringing him to you help him?”

                “I worked for Essex, remember? I know what games he plays with people’s heads. And I know how to snap ‘im back if he does.”

                “Why should I believe you?”

                “Cause you want to.” Creed answered. “Ain’t that good enough for you anymore?”

 

**

 

                The night slipped on, but Logan hadn’t shown his face yet. Ro lifted her head from Gambit’s chest, groggy from dozing and saw that the Cajun had fallen asleep beneath her. She began to sit up, flicking off the TV that they had let drone in the background and attempted to fix her hair when she felt Remy shift under her and pull her back down.

                “Don’t go,” he mumbled.

                She grinned down at his sleepy expression. “I’m not. Go back to sleep.” She chided, kissing his nose before lifting herself entirely and moving around the couch, pulling off her jeans and sweater, moving to find something more comfortable to wear.

                She felt Gambit’s eyes watching her and it sent a little thrill up her spine and caused a tingle in the pit of her stomach which quickly radiated to her thighs. She wondered how Logan managed to get anything done with Remy around; the man’s very presence, even when he was doing nothing at all, was arousing.

                She glanced over her shoulder at him as she reached into her drawer to find a pair of sleeping shorts, and Gambit looked away quickly, smiling to himself. “Sorry.”

                “It’s okay.”

                “You’re very beautiful, Ro.” He added. “Not dat you need dis Cajun to tell you dat.”

                She chuckled and slipped out of her bra, tossing it on the basket next to the bed. She had always been very comfortable with her body and never gave a second thought to baring her skin. But she wondered if Remy was just as comfortable.

                Hesitating, she reached for a robe to cover herself while she searched for a shirt, only to feel the nimble thief sneak up behind her and press a little kiss on the nape of her neck, pushing back the longer trailing pieces of her snowy white hair. Ro smelled like the air after a storm and magnolias and Remy was strangely reminded of home and happier times.

                “Is dis okay?” he mumbled. “Just wanna be close to ya. Don’t know why, but you make it easier ta breathe.”

                She pulled his arms around her waist and leaned back to kiss him. She wanted him, badly, but was afraid to overplay her hand or force things faster than they were meant to. It wasn’t like her to start a relationship so quickly or recklessly, especially with someone who was in such a fragile state of mind. But if she had learned anything since her time with the X-Men it was that you shouldn’t squander your chances; everything could be ripped away at any given moment.

                Gambit turned her around, pressing himself closer to her and kissing her more firmly, trying to show her that he was just as interested in her as she in him. Her body was warm and soft but strong all the same, and he admitted he liked that there was hardly a difference in their heights. He let his hands wander up and down her back, gliding down the graceful slope of her back and stopping at the little dip just above her hips.

                Ro’s tongue slid over his warmly within his mouth before recoiling and pulling away to exhale softly. She reached down and grabbed the hem of his shirt, tugging the loose fabric open and slid it off his shoulders, running her hand down his naked chest. She felt the rough skin of the scars that crossed his stomach and touched them lightly, remembering when they were open infected wounds that she had helped care for.

                She exhaled again and rested her head against his. “Remy, are you sure?”

                He smiled and kissed her lips again before titling back her head to worship her neck and move down to her shoulders and the slope of her breasts.

                Ororo watched him with hooded lids as the pale Cajun explored her skin with surprising skill and tenderness, kissing and occasionally licking, leaving a tiny love bite at the curve of her hip as he knelt in front of her.

                Remy looked up at her, trying to read her expression, or look for some sign that this needed to stop. He was using all of his focus to keep his Charm locked up tight, unable to bare the idea that Ro might be less than herself in this moment. But nothing in the woman’s expression indicated clouded judgment. In fact, while her body seemed to be responding eagerly to his advances, she still seemed apprehensive.

                She sat down on the edge of her bed, and Remy followed, leaning her back on the sheets and kissing her again, moving his hands down her body, caressing her breasts and hips and skimming a hand along the inside of her thigh as she wrapped her legs around him.

                Ro was holding back still, trying to keep her own desire locked up tight, afraid of intimidating or confusing the man on top of her. He brushed his fingers lightly between her legs and she whimpered in spite of herself.

                LeBeau leaned closer to her, turning her face towards him. “Ro, sil vous plait…want you to enjoy dis, to be yourself. If it’s too much, I’ll stop. No hard feelings.”

                She caught his face between her hands and kissed him hard. “Don’t you dare think you’re getting off the hook that easily, Cajun.” She chuckled, and his smile eased her fears, finally allowing her to relax.

                Remy kissed his way down her body again, hooking his thumbs in the corners of her panties and dragging them slowly down over her thick thighs. It was nice to be with a man who took his time, who seemed to appreciate the art of foreplay and seduction.

                Logan, the only other man she’d been with recently, knew both skills well, but Remy was an entirely different breed of lover altogether. She had a nagging thought that it could because of his past, but she pushed that thought away. It had no place here, and she didn’t want him to think that I had anything to do with her desire for him.

                She caught a flash of his ruby eyes looking up at her briefly as he pressed a kiss just below her naval and moved a little further down, lifting one of her legs over his shoulder as he bowed his head. Ro moaned when she felt his tongue against her, warm and wet and teasingly soft.

                Most men were clueless, or at least somewhat directionless when it came to how to make love to a woman this way, but she could already see that this wasn’t going to be an issue for Remy. She reached one hand down to brush back his hair, hoping to encourage him without seeming demanding.

                “Stop worrying,” Remy mumbled against the skin of her thigh, looking up to see her face again. “Everyt’ing is fine. Let go…Remy can take it all.”

                She giggled slightly as he moved down again and she whimpered when she felt his fingers move in to join his tongue.

                Her hesitance quickly dissolved, giving over to pleasure and excitement, realizing Remy was enjoying this as much as she was. His exploration of her went on for what felt like hours, but it only lasted maybe twenty minutes before she was breathless and rasping, twisting in the sheets with unbareable tightness in her belly that radiated out through her thighs and into the tips of her toes.

                “Remy—REMY!” she arched, little flickers of lightning shooting from her fingers and tips of her toes, heating the room and causing everything to become humid and hazy. Gambit lifted his head, watching her as she came down from orgasm, a little breathless and light-headed himself, feeling the prickle of heat dance over his skin.

                He kissed her thighs and her knee, moving up to lay beside her as she caught her breath.

                “Alright dere, cherie? Thought I felt you float off de bed dere for a minute,” he chuckled. She laughed and tussled his hair.

                “Take that as a compliment. That’s quite the silver tongue you have there…” she laughed, rolling to wrap her arms around him.

                “Merci,” he grinned. He felt her kiss his neck then nibble his ear, moving down to the curve of his shoulder. He raised an eyebrow. “Cherie?”

                She rolled so that she was straddling him, still very naked and baring little love marks from his mouth on her breasts, stomach and hips.

                She didn’t say anything in return, but set her fingers to work getting him out of his boxers, impressed with what she saw beneath.

                She touched him lightly, teasing him, watching him respond. He was sensitive, gasping a little under the attention, obviously already very aroused. He put his hands on her hips, which brought her attention back up to his eyes.

                “As much as Remy likes dis, not sure I’m up for…”

                She looked at him slyly. “Oh, you silly boy. It’s nothing like that.” She climbed off him, moving instead to lie beside him, lying her head on his chest as she continued to toy with and stimulate him. “Love making should be mutual, not simply one partner preforming for another. I want you to know that.”

                Remy nodded mutely, relaxing a little further and letting out a little whimper. She looked up at him, “Do you want me to stop?”

                “Non,” he answered, putting his hand around hers. “Just…slow.”

                She nodded and leaned over his skin, kissing and nuzzling in the same soft manner he had before until she was close enough to tease him with her lips. Remy whimpered and mumbled something softly in French that made her grin before leaning down and licking him softly.

                “Mon Dieu!”

                Ro grinned, knowing she could drag this out for hours if she wanted; but Remy was already hard from before, and getting very close to climax with just her teasing. So she decided to be merciful, and give him the release he was craving.

                She dipped her head over him, wrapping her tongue and lips around him, developing a quick steady pace that she met with her hand, engulfing completely. Remy groaned and hissed, hips jolting and after only ten minutes he cried out and she pulled back, letting him splatter across her hands and his thighs, breathing heavily.

                “Desole…” Gambit panted afterwards, cheeks almost as pink as his eyes. “dat doesn’t happen often, I swear.”

                Ro laughed and leaned up to kiss him, tasting herself on his lips still. “I know, darling. I hear you and Logan sometimes.” She giggled.

                They settled back together, both sweaty and breathless. It was only then that Gambit glanced at the clock and realized that Logan was still conspicuously absent. He sat up nervously then, tugging on his clothes. “Should we be worried?” he asked.

                Ro frowned and nodded, “I’m starting to, yes.”

                She reached for her robe and pulled it around herself, Gambit doing his best to dress quickly, though his knees were still shaking form the force of orgasm. “Shit…” he muttered. “You don’t t’ink he ran into trouble do you?”

                “Knowing Logan, that can be the only explanation.” She added.

               

**

 

                Ro decided to take the grounds, in case Logan hadn’t returned yet, while Remy looked for signs of him in the house. The Cajun, still weak-kneed and lethargic after his experiences, trotted along the winding stairway leading to the main floor kitchen, and decided that they needed to come up with some sort of system to keep track of each other instead of just running around like they were in an episode of Scooby-Doo.

                As he took the landing at a trot, practically swinging along the banister, he found himself nearly colliding head-long into Scott, who seemed to be returning from a late night kitchen raid, carton of ice cream and spoon in hand.

                “Watch out!” Scott mumbled, the cold contents of his spoon splattering on the carpet and Gambit’s bare feet.

                “Desole!” Remy gasped, reaching out to right the man, lest he stumble down the steps. “Didn’t see you dere!”

                Scott swallowed hurriedly, looking mildly embarrassed. “It’s fine, it’s fine,” he muttered, his gaze trailing along Gambit’s lean figure, noting that he was wearing nothing but a rather awkward pair of pajama bottoms and nothing else, and that he smelled sweaty and musky, cheeks still faintly pink.

                Scott recognized fresh love bites on his neck and shoulder and raised an eyebrow. “Um…everything okay?” he mumbled.

                “Oui, yes, just looking for Wolverine. You didn’t pass him did you?” he asked, ignoring Scott strange fascination and looking out the window of the landing for some sign of the feral.

                “No,” Scott mumbled, absently putting the spoon back in his mouth.

                Remy raised an eyebrow, “M’sieur? Everyt’ing okay?” he asked. He didn’t realize that his Charm was currently running unchecked, and that Scott was so easily overwhelmed by even the slightest hint of it. The brunette shifted uncomfortably, swirling his tongue around his spoon as he felt blood rushing to his loins. He thought about what the Cajun’s skin might taste like, and if his lips were as soft as they looked.

                Summers looked up hurriedly and opened his mouth to speak, only to have his unfinished mouthful of ice cream spill down his chin. His face flushed with embarrassment as Remy chuckled quietly.

                “Uh, you got a little…”

                “Yeah, uh,” Scott mumbled nervously, trying to play it off as a joke. “You wanna help me out with that?”

                Even before the words had completely left his lips he heard himself groan internally at how stupid he sounded. Why was he hitting on this man? Wasn’t he still upset with him from earlier? And why the hell wouldn’t his damn erection go down?!

                Remy chuckled again, a little more nervously and patted his shoulder, sending a little electric shiver through the man. “You are funny man when you want to be, Scott. But I have to go now…” he said, quickly trotting down the rest of the stairs, leaving Cyclops to stand there in complete mortification with his steadily melting treat. “Stupid Nutter Butter...” he grumbled.

 

                Brushing off the awkward encounter, Remy turned his attentions once more to the task at hand. It was only then that he realized he had pulled on pair of Ro’s pink pajama pants and he cringed slightly, deciding to simply go with it and explain things later.

                He felt a faint knot in his chest. What was he going to say to Logan when he finally caught up with him? Surely the man would have plenty of questions, and it didn’t seem likely that Remy would be able to brush them off this time. He’d have to come clean and tell Logan what happened since his disappearance in New Orleans.

                Being with Ro had given him hope that maybe his lover would understand, maybe he would see that Remy was coerced, that what had transpired was never his intention, and that he suffered for it endlessly every day. Maybe he’d finally be able to come to grips with the details.

                Then of course, there was the matter of what had just happened with Ororo…would Logan be angry? He wasn’t sure, but his head was already too full to concentrate.

                He rounded the corner, and much to his surprise, came upon the very man he’d been seeking. Logan spotted him first, looking as if he had just come in the door. “Remy!”

                His voice was commanding and masterful and somewhat jolted the Cajun so that he stopped in his tracks, blinking in surprise.

                “Cher?”

                Logan moved towards him, closing the room-wide gap in a few quick strides, grabbed Gambit’s wrist and pulled him down into a kiss that stole his breath. Remy blinked in shock at the intensity and the bruising force behind it, trying to pull away only to be pulled back and held there by a thick firm hand.

                Logan…tasted different. Remy’s nose crinkled, wondering what it was, suspecting perhaps stale beer, and finally managed to pull away for a breath.

                “Logan, what--?”

                “Don’t talk.” Wolverine commanded, turning and keeping his hold on Gambit’s wrist, tugging him back along the hall.

                “Cher, wait, where you been--?”

                Logan didn’t answer and Remy sensed there was a rage in him, boiling just below the surface, but the rage was a mask of something else, something that went deeper still. He gulped hard, suddenly dry mouthed. Perhaps this wasn’t going to go as smoothly as he had dared to hope.

                Wolverine didn’t stop until they were once more at the threshold of their bedroom. Remy stepped inside, turning as the shorter man closed and then locked the door behind them. He exhaled deeply then, as if collecting his thoughts and turned towards the Cajun with a strange look in his eyes, a look that made Remy shiver.

                “We all got secrets, darlin’. I’ve let you have yours…but now it’s time to stop running. I want the truth.”

                Gambit felt that uneasy pinch in his chest and stomach, but did his best to remain calm. “Logan, I didn’t lie—“

                “Don’t.” Wolverine hissed. “For once, LeBeau, give me a straight answer. When we met, you had me believing you were an innocent guy, trying to escape a bad influence. But that wasn’t the whole truth…was it?”

                Ice in his stomach. Gambit’s face fell, his shoulders slumped and he wrapped his long arms around himself. “I can explain.”

                “You worked for Sinister. Willingly.”

                “Only at first! I didn’t know what he was, he promised to help me--!”

                “In exchange for what?!” Logan barked back and Remy shuddered at the force of it. Logan had never spoken to him this way, with such aggression and such distrust. Remy licked his lips nervously and tried to understand the source of it.

                “I did jobs for ‘im. Stealing information, sometimes valuables. Mostly I ran interference; using my Charm to distract people while other mutants did the dirty work. In exchange, he taught me to master my energy and to control my Charm.” He answered stiffly. “I had no one else to go to; I know I made bad choices. Terrible ones. But I didn’t have any other options.”

                Logan surveyed him cautiously, trying to keep cool. Remy had come so far since he’d brought him back to Westchester; but looking at him now made him feel like they were right back in that hotel room in New Orleans.

                Wolverine felt like his mind was in a haze, one that was growing worse by the minute. Victor’s words felt like a chain around him, reminding him that neither of them were who they claimed to be. If Remy did indeed have a past tied to Sabertooth, what did that say about him? Was he used to being able to manipulate ferals through his charm?

                Gambit looked up as the stout man moved towards him, dropping on the bed beside him, hands gripping his knees as he glared at the kid, looking him up and down. The look wavered between suspicious and lustful in equal turns, confusing his lover.

                Remy reached out and touched his hand, and Logan sighed softly, feeling a warm current rush through him. Gambit had a way of warming and calming him in his worst moments, but this was undercut by something more primal. Remy was his mate and Logan wanted him, desperately.

                “Cher, I tell you everyt’ing you want to know, I promise. But right now, dere’s somet’ing else we need ta speak about.”

                Logan didn’t feel like talking anymore. He moved closer, putting a hand behind Remy’s long neck and pulling him in close to kiss his cheek, jaw and the soft sensitive spot beneath his ear where he could taste his pulse. His groin gave insistent twitch and he stifled a moan, feeling the faint thrumming against his lips and tongue.

                Remy, however, pulled back. “Logan, listen to me—‘

                He caught it then; a new smell on his lover. A familiar scent, but so strange in its presence that Logan hadn’t recognized it for what it was at first. But at this proximity there was no mistaking it. He blinked in shock, then grabbed Remy again and yanked him close, breathing deep.

                The southerner flinched, biting his lip nervously as Logan looked up at him with a new, darker expression. “What the hell are you doing with her?”

                “’S’ not what you t’ink,”

                “You smell like sex, Cajun.” He pulled back, raking a thick hand through his hair, repressing a snarl that was creeping along his lips anyway. “Ain’t I kept ya happy?”

                “Of course you have,” Remy insisted. “It’s not about what you didn’t do, cher. ‘Ro and I…it’s complicated.”

                Wolverine bristled. “A lot of things with you are complicated.” He muttered. This was all he could handle, another challenge to what he accepted as fact. Victor and this whole mess had turned his world on end; Remy was supposed to be the thing that kept him right. He wasn’t going to give that up. Not even for Ororo.

                Remy tried to reach out and hold him, to take away the pain he saw on his face, feeling guilt twist in his guts. But Logan caught his arm and dragged him forward instead, kissing him roughly. Remy’s eyes widened, stunned by the reaction. Logan’s other hand moved to the waistband of his pants and began to pull them down.

                Gambit caught his fingers, breaking contact with some difficulty. “Non, wait, let’s talk about dis—“

                Logan pinned his other hand to the bed and moved over Gambit, glaring and looming. “I’m done talking.” He muttered. “All I get outta that pretty mouth is half-truths anyway.”

                Gambit stiffened. “Logan…”

                The feral grabbed his pants again, boxers in tow, and tore them down his thighs in one rough tug. Remy shuddered at being rendered so quickly exposed and vulnerable under the bigger man, who still maintained a vice-like grip on his arm.

                The sight of his lover naked pushed Logan’s muddled senses over the edge. He had already returned to painful arousal, desperate to be satisfied after Sabertooth’s teasing earlier, his rational mind retreating into something more primal, easier to manage. If he was going to prove himself, he couldn’t have his mate wandering, or challenging him. He needed Remy to realize where he belonged; who was deserving of him.

                He leaned down to kiss Gambit again, only to find himself stopped by a surprisingly strong hand which held him at bay. “Non.” Remy answered, his voice hard edged this time. “Dis is not happening, dis is not how we resolve dis. You’ve got no right to just—“

                Logan yanked his hand back and flattened the leaner man against the mattress again, pinning him there with all his weight, which Gambit winced under. “You’re mine.” The dark haired man muttered. “My mate. You belong with me.

                Remy gave him an angry wounded look; “Do you hear yourself? Dis isn’t you, cher. I don’t know what’s happened to you…ever since you met dis so called link to your past you’ve been walking around here acting like a wild animal!”

                Wolverine’s eyes darkened; “It’s what I am, LeBeau. An animal. But you like that…don’t you?”

                Remy’s heart plummeted. In that moment, Logan wasn’t the man he knew and cherished. Something darker had taken over him, something that reminded him all too much of the last time he had tangled with a feral mutant.

                “Get off me, now.” he ordered, hoping he sounded braver than he felt in that moment.

                Logan only growled in response, tightening his grip on the man’s skin so that it ached and pinched.

                “Logan, I’m warning you!” he shouted, forcing a leg up under Wolverine and kicking him backwards, sending the smaller man rolling onto the floor, crashing into stand next to the door, breaking a lamp and knocking over a stack of books.

                The Cajun’s kick had actually been powerful enough to bruise two of his ribs, but they were already healing. On the bed, Remy seemed paralyzed by shock, his scent a powerful mix of adrenaline, fear and that ever present allure of Charm.

                Logan’s mind called out for this to stop before it went too far, but it was overwhelmed by the animal that was too close to the surface, too eager to prove itself and be vindicated. He snarled and pounced, and Gambit moved to escape, only to have Logan grab him roughly and flatten him to the floor, face first, one hand firmly gripped to the sensitive nape of his neck, growling in the Cajun’s ear as a warning not to try that again.

                Beneath him his mate was completely rigid, paralyzed by what was being forced upon him. The Logan he knew was nowhere to be seen, lost to this new fierce creature, who wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

                There was still a way out, and Gambit’s fingers twitched at the thought of it. If he wanted, he could grab the razor sharp edges of those claws that were poking through his lover’s flesh and charge them. Logan would go off like a bomb, and even though he knew the mutant’s healing factor would spare him from death…he couldn’t bring himself to cause him such pain.

                Remy twitched and Logan snarled and squeezed harder, digging his nails into Gambit’s flesh, making him gasp and wince. “D’accord, sil vous plait…” he gasped, voice low and wavering.

                Logan sniffed him and pulled back slightly, “Don’t fight me,” he muttered.

                Remy shook his head, feeling a lump in his throat. “Non…I won’t.”

                Wolverine bent over him, loosening his grip only slightly, stroking a comforting hand down Remy’s back as he kissed and nuzzled him, noticing how his shivered, but not registering why. He moved his lips and tongue over the southerner’s naked flesh, savoring the faintly salty taste of it, hands roaming over his muscles, firm and commanding but not forceful.

                Gambit responded to his touch, complying with every suggestion, feeling Logan grind against him. But the shaking didn’t stop, and he remained strangely silent during his lover’s exploration, offering none of his usual encouragement or sweet nothings.

                Logan didn’t notice, at least not at first. His animal nature was content for the moment with his mate’s submission and eagerly awaiting what came next. He pulled Remy from the floor, lifting and dropping him onto the skewed mattress. Gambit didn’t look at him, his eyes shut tightly, mouth clamped closed as Logan crawled up him, leaving sharp little love bites that prickled across his skin, before finding a tender spot between the Cajun’s shoulder and neck to sink his teeth into. Remy cried out, but it was a softer, muffled sound that came more from shock than pleasure. Logan had drawn blood.

                He lapped at the wound apologetically for a moment, pressing a steadying hand against his mate’s back before moving back down his body. He could smell Ororo’s scent on him. His eyes grew darker, his expression jealous.

                It was stronger the lower he went and he growled bitterly when he realized where the source of it was. He glared up at Remy, who shuddered and looked about to speak, but Logan dropped his head against his skin and bit him, earning another muffled yelp. He gripped Gambit’s narrow hips painfully, digging in, feeling the sharpness of bones under his palms and earned another cry as he began lick him.

                Remy tried twisting away, but Wolverine held him down, unable to stop and see what this was doing to his mate. He felt an overwhelming rush of pheromones that made him dizzy and all the more eager to please, and felt a shaking hand touch his hair. “Sil vous plait…”

                Logan looked up at him with stormy eyes. “You’re mine.”

                “Oui,” Remy rasped. “Yours. Just yours.”

                Logan nodded, pleased with the response and loosened his grip a little, taking advantage of having a free hand to finish arousing his partner. His touches were rough and to the point without any of their usual delicacy. He earned another muffled whimper from the other man as he moved a hand further between his legs, probing, pushing inward and stretching him roughly.

                Gambit hissed painfully, but remained passive, fingers clawing the bed sheets and wadding them in his fists. Again, Logan didn’t notice, Remy’s charm masking his ever increasing fear scent beneath him. It was his only defense at this point, the only way to keep Logan from pushing farther than he already was.

                Once he began to feel the Cajun loosen, he turned him on his side, hiking one leg over his shoulder as he positioned himself between his legs, slick with his own saliva. Remy cringed, and cast one last pleading look at his lover, trying to keep from clenching as he felt him push against him.

                “Logan, wait…AHH!”

                It was rough, but not unbearable, and Gambit let his face fall into the blankets to hide the grimace as Wolverine started to thrust forward in short, shallow advances that quickly turned into jarring thrusts that shook him bodily and forced gasps from his lips.

                Logan grunted and moaned, completely lost in the haze of it all, already so close to orgasm that he almost howled in frustration, wanting this to last. It was perhaps a boon that didn’t however. It only took another ten minutes before he howled, feeling himself twitch and release inside the other man, sufficiently coating his insides and finally relieving the tension in his groin and abdomen.

                Logan’s shaking knees buckled a little and bent forward, letting Remy’s body slump as well as he pulled out of him. The Cajun immediately pushed away, legs closing , putting as much distance between himself and Wolverine’s hunched figure as the bed would allow.

                Wolverine thought this was strange, and slowly his higher senses began to click back into place, no longer clouded by the haze of his desire. Remy’s scent was changing drastically, or perhaps simply revealing itself for what it really was without the mask of his powers; fear and pain. Logan lifted his head, feeling his stomach drop with growing realization.

                “Rems…Remy…? Darlin’?”

                He smelled salt, something that wasn’t related to sweat. Gambit took a shuddering breath which confirmed the feral’s fears. He moved to Remy’s side, reaching for his shoulder. Gambit flinched and curled away from him. “Don’t touch me,” he rasped, voice hollow and shaking, sounding too much like that frantic lost soul he’d found in New Orleans less than a year ago.

                And Logan knew what he had done then and found himself sick at the thought of it. “I’m sorry…Remy, I didn’t mean to be so…Jesus Christ, what did I do?”

                “What everyone does,” Gambit muttered, forcing himself up and climbing out of the bed. His knees buckled under the effort and he stumbled, propping himself against the wall for support. “You got what you wanted, made your point…”

                “Remy, please, it wasn’t supposed to be like that…” Logan pleaded, heart breaking to see Remy in this state and knowing that he had caused it. He could see the marks he’d left on him now in the skewed lamp light, the reddish purple marks slowly spreading and darkening. He felt sick.

                Gambit fumbled for something to cover himself with, found a pair of wrinkled jeans from the floor and tugged them on, wincing and whimpering with the effort. “Non, it wasn’t,” he hissed, “thought you were different, cher, thought you weren’t dat kind of man, just you just prove ta me dat I was wrong…”

                “Remy…” his voice was small, pleading, lost. There was deep remorse in his eyes; this wasn’t at all what he had meant, what he had been trying to convey. Yes, he had been jealous, he’d been angry that Remy was keeping things from him and still doing so, but this…this had crossed a line. “I didn’t mean it…I didn’t realize…”

                Gambit waved him off, chuckling in a choked, hysterical manner. “It’s fine! It’s fine…ain’t like I ain’t used ta it, ya know? Ya know how many times I done dis exact t’ing? What else can ya do put pick yourself up and go on…like it don’t matter, like it don’t hurt….”

                Logan reached for him, needing to hold him and make this right. But before he could grasp him, Remy turned and struck him hard enough across the face to make him spit blood. “NON!” He bellowed, face hard red and still wet with tears that kept leaking out of the corners of his eyes. “You can’t just…you can’t fix dis, it doesn’t work dat way! I can’t even look at you!” He moved as quickly away from his partner as possible, though his legs were unsteady and he had to keep catching himself.

                He fumbled with the door, finally undoing the lock and staggering outside, leaving Logan breathless behind him, holding his head in shock in remorse. What had he done? This beast inside of him, was this is true nature? If it was…he didn’t want it. He didn’t want any of it!

                Panicked, he started after Gambit, mind frantically trying to make sense of what had happened and how he was going to repair the damage; if it could be repaired.

                Even injured, Gambit was faster than him, forgoing the stairs in favor of gliding down the railing in acrobatic fashion, though he wavered and nearly fell upon reaching the floor below and took off at limping sprint.

                “Remy!”

               

                Gambit was eager to put as much distance as he could between Logan and himself, though each movement made him ache and he felt a little like he was going to suffocate on his own anxiety. This wasn’t supposed to happen…not with Logan. The man he knew, the man he loved would never use him this way, never force himself. Logan had always been so careful, so respectful, that at times it had even frustrated Remy in his impulsive moments.

                But the man who had been with him in that room…that wasn’t Logan. It wasn’t even Wolverine, with all his savagery. Remy’s mind raced back to a memory that was too close to the surface these days, feeling more tangible every minute.

                “He’s not like him…he’s not!” he found himself shouting, barely realizing he was speaking aloud. He turned the corner blindly and found himself crashing into another body, who grunted and knocked him back.

                “Hey! What the--?”

                Remy dropped to the floor, aching even more now from the harsh collision and feeling a sting of panic from the unwanted and unexpected contact. He was rapidly losing control on his composure, as well as everything else.

                “Gambit?” Scott’s voice drifted to him through his haze. “Hey…are you okay?”

                Remy didn’t even have the energy to lie at this point, he merely shook his head, letting his hair fall in his face. He looked like hell and smelled like sweat, sex and blood, and the bruises seemed brighter on his skin every minute.

                Scott worriedly knelt beside him, seeing the bloody bite marks that stood out on his neck and shoulders. “What in the hell happened to you?”

                “Nothing…” was all Remy could manage. “Please…” he reached out and tried to push Scott back, “you can’t be here right now…”

                “Gambit, let me help you.”

                “Non,” Remy knew what would happen, he could already sense it affecting the other man. His power was untethered, unchecked, he didn’t have the energy to manage it now. Summers reached out and gathered him up, lifting him from his fallen spot on the floor and propping him against him when he found the Cajun couldn’t keep his balance.

                “Did Logan do this to you?” he asked.

                Remy choked down a sob and Scott held him a bit more tightly. “Hang on, I’m going to take you to Hank, he’ll fix you up.”

                “Scott, you have to let me go, please, I’ll be fine,” the Cajun insisted feebly, but Scott wasn’t listening. The man was holding him differently, not so much supporting him now as though trying to keep him as close as possible, to feel as much as possible, and Remy winced when felt the man ghost a breath over his skin.

                Remy gave over to instinct, shoving the man away from him with a burst of energy from his hands that made Cyclops cry out, finding that the charge had burned a hole in his t-shirt, leaving his skin red and slightly singed.

                “Get away from me!”

                Present and past started to run together in Remy’s mind; he’d been here before, too many times to count, being handed off from one abuser to another, even those who tried to help often found their intentions turned sordid after exposure to his uncontrolled Charm.

                Summers, recovering from his shock, glowered down at the man on the floor before reaching down, grabbing him forcefully and slamming him up against the wall, pinning him there with arms on either side of him, one leg thrust between Remy’s to keep him in place.

                “I’ve had just about enough of your ‘hard to get’ shit, LeBeau,” he sneered. “Don’t think I don’t know you’re screwing around with Storm, I could tell when I saw you earlier, you still had her lipstick smears on your skin. You got time for everyone else but me. What’s the matter, aren’t I your type?”

                Remy bowed his head, hoping if he remained passive Scott would back off, grappling for some control but unable to manage it. “Scott, you’re not yourself,” he whispered.

                Summer’s grabbed his chin and forced his head up, cracking it against the wall and making Remy’s vision swim for a moment as his hand closed around his throat. “I guess you prefer people who push you around, rough you up. You like it rough, Remy?”

                His fingers squeezed his neck and Remy didn’t dare speak, hoping he would black out soon; this was too much, feeling Scott’s thigh rubbing against his groin, trying to entice him. It was like he’d never left New Orleans and the clutches of all those terrible people he’d entangled himself with over the years. It didn’t matter that these people were his own kind; mutants, who were supposed to understand, who were supposed to have compassion.

                He was never going to be anything more than that street hustler who sold himself, who lied and cheated and robbed, who gave away his dignity as easily as a smile. Creed and Sinister had always told him as much. He finally believed them.

                He drifted back to reality, feeling the edges of his vision starting to blur and blacken as he threatened to pass out, with Scott’s mouth on his cheek, moving in to his lips, trying to coax a kiss out of him. Remy faintly turned his head to avoid the contact, only to feel Scott pull at him more insistently, grinding against him, with his free hand moving up his thigh.

                “SUMMERS!”

                Scott broke contact, looking in the direction of the roar, only to be suddenly pummeled so fiercely that he went flying several feet, crashing through a wall in hail of dust and dry-wall debris. Gambit crumbled lifelessly to the floor, unsure of what was happening. He felt Logan pass over him, bounding on all fours, claws drawn and shining in the moonlight.

                “You ever put your hands on him again--!”

                An optic blast struck Wolverine from beyond the crater where Scott had vanished and feral went rolling back, smoking and smelling like burned flesh. But he recovered all too quickly, charging again and meeting Cyclops head on, punching and kicking violently, blood being drawn from both sides.

                The battle caused screams to erupt from the surrounding rooms as students rose from their beds in a panic, thinking they were under attack. Hearing the cries, Storm, with Hank in tow, came running to the scene.

                She expected to find some intruder had managed to breech their defenses; instead she found something far more disturbing, with Logan and Scott engaged in what appeared to be mortal combat and Gambit lying on the ground in a heap.

                “ENOUGH!” The woman roared, raising her hands and causing a wind that flattened most of them to the ground, raising the humidity to stifling levels in an attempt to stem the fighting. Scott rolled away, bloodied and clothing shredding, breathing hard and shaking his head.

                “Shit…shit…what the hell is happening?” he panted. Logan recovered, still bristling and snarling as he moved towards where Remy had fallen, shaking his claws at the bewildered looking Scott Summers.

                “You ever put your hands on him again, Summers and I’ll slice ‘em off! He’s mine, you stay the hell away!”

                He turned to pick Remy up, only to have the Cajun reach out and grab hold of one his claws, not caring that the razor sharp adamantium instantly sliced his skin, and released a quick charge that blew Logan back, howling, his hand blistered and raw from the explosion that exposed the bones of his hand for several moments before his healing restored him.

                “I’m no one’s!” the southerner spat, voice hoarse but venomous, eyes glowing faintly with what remained of his energy.

                Storm moved in past the shocked crowd, trying to understand what had happened. As she knelt beside him, she saw the bruises and markings on his skin that extended to areas that were not likely to have been caused by a fight with Scott.

                She turned with wide eyes towards Logan, not wanting to believe this could have been caused by him. “What did you do?” she asked.

                “Stormy, please, I can’t be around dese people, I can’t control it…” Gambit choked, not sure he’d be able to withstand the affects of Storm turning on him as well. To his surprise however, the woman made no advances, only pushing his hair from his face. “It’s alright, love.”

                Logan started forward then, glaring at the woman before him. “You’ve got some nerve,” he muttered to her, fists balled at his sides. “You could have come to me. We could have talked about this. Instead you wait for me turn my back, then you move in. Did you really think I wouldn’t notice?”

                She stood up, towering over him, intimidated by his glare or his claws. “Nothing that happened was meant to be behind your back. You are the one who’s been acting deviously, sneaking around, hiding what you’re doing.”

                “It’s none of your business what I do, or who I do it with! It hasn’t been your business for a long damn time, Ororo!” he growled in reply. “I’m trying to sort out my own problems with someone else, but that don’t give you the right to move in on Remy!”

                “Someone else?”

                Logan knew then he’d said too much. There was no going back now. He squared his shoulders, staring her in the eye. “Yeah. Seems I found an old pack mate; someone I used ta be with before all this shit happened. And I’m startin’ ta wish I’d never left.” He hated himself for saying so, but his anger got the best of him.

                Storm exhaled, realizing what this must mean and turned away from Logan, reaching down to help Gambit, “Maybe that’s where you should be then,” she answered. “The man I know would never hurt the people he loves this way. If you prefer the beast over the man, then I suggest you leave.”

                Logan looked from Storm to Gambit, his guts twisting, not knowing how to make things right. He’d gone too far, lost himself, and the result was more than he could stand. “Yeah, you’re probably right.” He answered, retracting his claws and turning away. “Wouldn’ta want to keep ya from your sloppy seconds.”

                Lightning struck him from behind, sending him tumbling down the stair well to the floor below where he laid stunned and smoking for several minutes.

                Storm turned to Hank, “Take care of Remy.”

                The big blue beast nodded, stunned by what was happening, and gathered LeBeau up in his great arms, who was now thankfully unconscious, and rushed him towards the infirmary.

                Logan was just starting to recover, lifting himself from the floor on hands and knees. He felt her approach him, wind swirling around her in her growing rage.

                “How dare you? How dare you?!” she bellowed, giving him another shock for good measure that sent him rolling.

                “Ro, listen—“

                “YOU listen!” she bellowed. “If you had any idea what you’ve done, you would be ashamed! Instead you’re too busy wallowing in your own sense of self-pity! You let your suspicions and jealousy make you into something you are not!”

                “He lied to me…you both lied to me!”

                “He isn’t Jean, Logan!” the woman thundered at him, shocking Wolverine into silence. “And neither am I. The only betrayal here is yours.” She looked heartbroken to say so, searching Logan’s face for some explanation.

                There was remorse there, plenty of it, and loathing and confusion in his eyes. But his face remained hard and he turned away from her, still limping, clothing singed and smoking as he headed towards the door.

                “I love you. We both love you.” She called after him. “Whatever you’ve found out there, it’s poisoning you. You have to let it go.”

                Wolverine didn’t look back at her. “I can’t, Storm.”

                “Logan!”

                He made his way through the front door, out into the open wind and took off at a run, disappearing past the trees that lined the drive and vanished into the forest again, leaving Storm staring after him with tears in her eyes.

 

***

Chapter Text

 

 

***

 

                Ororo tried to force herself to relax, to sit and wait patiently, but no amount of discipline could ease her anxiety. Remy was still unconscious, being cared for by Hank, while she and Scott waited for Xavier.

                Cyclops shifted uncomfortably beside her on the little sofa they occupied just outside Hank’s medical ward, still trying to piece together what had transpired just a few short hours ago. “You don’t hate me, do you?” he asked quietly.

                The white haired woman stiffened at the sudden sound of his voice, so lost in her own thoughts, and blinked at him in surprise. “No, Scott. You tried to help Remy…what happened wasn’t…your intention.”

                Scott shook his head; “I don’t know what came over me. I’ve never…I mean ever…”

                “I know.”

                “You don’t know,” he added quickly. “I’m not that kind of guy, Ro! But I wanted him…I wanted him so bad.” He gulped shakily. “His power…it’s terrifying, the pull it has. Don’t you think? This is what I was afraid of when we brought him here.”

                She didn’t reply, staring off into space again, waiting for the sound of the sliding doors to open and Hank to arrive to give them good news.

                “How come you weren’t affected?” Scott asked then. “Back there in all that mess? Wolverine and I were acting like animals, but you…does it not affect you?”

                “I felt it the same way you and Logan did. But I stopped myself.”

                “How?”

                “You don’t understand what that man has been through, Scott. The kind of abuse he’s endured. I couldn’t contribute to that, I couldn’t be another person to turn on him.”

                Scott nodded thoughtfully, feeling worse about his actions now if possible. “And…what about Logan?”

                Storm sighed heavily and lifted herself from the couch, starting to pace the floor again. Scott felt the temperature around them drop to a chilly level as her increased anxiety began to manifest through her powers. “Something’s happened to Logan; there’s some new influence that’s affecting his behavior and judgment. We have to find out what it is and get him as far away from it as possible.”

                Scott raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean by new influence?”

                “Logan told us he’d found a link to his past; another person who knew him before the Weapon X project. That’s where he’s been sneaking off to apparently; to meet with this person. But whoever they are, they are changing him, turning him against us.”

                Scott considered this, “I’ve always known he was dangerous.”

                She rolled her eyes, “Please, Scott, now is not the time—“

                They heard the whoosh of the doors and turned at once towards the sight of Xavier and Beast emerging from beyond.

                “He’s going to be fine,” Hank said hurriedly, sensing the question on Ororo’s lips before she could fully form the words. “The injuries are minor. There were no signs of,” he licked his lips somewhat nervously, “any internal trauma.”

                Storm’s face fell and she had to stifle a sob at the thought and Hank moved to comfort her. “Logan couldn’t have been in his right mind when this happened. I know him too well to believe he intended this kind of mistreatment.”

                “I’m beginning to agree with you, Hank,” Xavier answered beside him. “After scanning Remy’s mind, I see a clear discrepancy in his behaviors over the last few days. Something is indeed very wrong with our friend.”

                Storm did not seem pleased with the idea that Xavier had been rooting around in Gambit’s already battered mind, but she trusted the Professor had done so only out of necessity, and with the greatest care and respect.

                “We need to find out who this mystery person is and get Logan away from him as soon as possible,” she added, “before things get worse.”

                Xavier shook his head, “I can’t force Logan to return, Ororo. You are all here by choice, and it must remain that way. But if you really believe this new presence is a true threat to him; then I agree, something must be done.”

                Scott looked out the window; “Wolverine’s fast. He could be miles and miles away by now.”

                Storm didn’t seem so sure, “I don’t think so. He’ll be worried about Remy, he won’t want to be too far away until he’s sure he is out of danger.”

                “Danger he caused.” Scott grumbled, and the white haired woman shot him a warning look that silenced him.

                Xavier bowed his head for a moment in concentration, “Logan’s thoughts are erratic, distressed…I can’t reach him in this state. He’s shutting me out.” He sighed, relinquishing the connection. “He’s on the move, several miles away. I should be able to give you a more precise location,” he turned then, moving his wheelchair towards the computer console in the corner, quickly producing a map of the surrounding area.

                As Scott and Xavier attempted to plot Logan’s location, Hank ushered Storm into the infirmary, where Remy was resting.

                The lanky Cajun looked small and fragile in the midst of all that white hospital bedding, skin still sweaty and bruised, his auburn hair a matted mess that fell across his face and the pillow. It reminded them both of how the man had been when they first brought him to Xavier's. Ro sat down beside him and put her arms around him, though Remy didn’t respond. “Has he come around at all?”

                “No, but it’s really for the best. The amount of stress he’s endured has exhausted him.” He sighed deeply, scratching his hairy blue neck. “Compared to the shape he was in when he first came here, Ro, he’s fine. But it seems very likely Remy’s suffering from Post Traumatic Stress after his experiences...I was so afraid this would happen. Why didn't I act sooner?”

                Storm eyed him, wondering why Hank had kept Remy's condition such a secret, but now wasn't the time to interrogate him about it. "You couldn't have known this would happen, Hank. No one could have expected Logan to turn so drastically...”

                “Storm, we’ve got coordinates!” Scott called from the other room. She stood hurriedly, then hesitated, but Hank only nodded to her.

                “Go on, I’ll take good care of him.”

                She nodded, bent over Remy to give him one last kiss before rushing after the others. Hank watched her go before letting out a little sigh of his own, scrubbing a hand across his furry muzzle, deep in thought.

                A little moan behind him signaled him that his patient was stirring and he turned in surprise to see Gambit struggling to pull himself up, yanking off Hank’s medical sensors and curling up on himself. “Get this shit off me,” he mumbled, not totally coherent. He tugged at his hospital gown in agitation, “Where’s my clothes? What’s going on?”

                Hank moved quickly to his side, taking a seat on the stool next to his bed, “Remy, please relax. You’re in the infirmary, everything is fine. Take a breath,”

                “Where’s Logan?”

                Beast sighed and rested his big hand on Remy’s knee, pulling back quickly when the young man flinched. “The others are looking for him now.”

                This statement seemed to finally clear Gambit’s rattled head and a strange expression crossed his face, one that went from disappointment and concern to anger. “He’s gone? He’s gone again?”

                “After the confrontation with Storm, I fear he felt he had little choice,” the doctor and scientist explained, “he felt so terrible about what he’d done to you, about his actions towards Ororo and Scott as well.”

                Remy sunk his head into his hands, “It’s my fault…it’s my fault, he’s not like this, it has to be me,” he muttered, more to himself than Beast.

                Hank moved in closer, moving his hands away so that he could look him in the eye. “Listen to me; this was not your fault. Your powers are not an excuse for anyone to take advantage of you.”

                Remy’s face crumpled and he hid in the folds of his arms for a moment, sniffling quietly. Beast offered him what small comfort he could, putting his big arms around the man in front of him in a brief but warm hug. “Is there anything I can get you?”

                “Non, mon ami, just…some privacy.”

                Beast nodded and stood, pulling the curtain around Remy’s bed and dimming the lights before excusing himself. Gambit waited until he could tell the other mutant was out of the immediate vicinity, having occupied himself somewhere else in the lab, then made his move.

                His body ached and throbbed, especially everything between below his hips, but he ignored the familiar pain and stripped himself out of the hospital gown, grabbing a fresh pair of clothes that Ro had left folded by his bed. He forced himself not to look at the bruises that Logan had inflicted on him, demanding himself to focus, not to falter now.

                Logan was on the run, and if Remy’s guess was right, he was heading right back into the arms of this stranger who had poisoned his heart and mind. All the pieces hadn’t fallen into place yet, there were still too many missing details to be sure, but Gambit had a guess that this stranger was not at all whom he claimed to be.

                If this stranger was feeding Logan information, information that tied into Gambit’s past, the Cajun could only guess at one source; Sinister. As much as the idea terrified Gambit, he wasn’t about to let Logan fall into that mad man’s hands. No matter what Logan had done, how much it hurt, he was still deeply in love with the man. He had to save him; even if it meant Logan learning the horrible truth.

                Remy crept, silent on nimble bare feet, past Hank’s desk and back out into the main floor of the mansion. The sky outside indicated that he had lost the remaining hours of the night and that dawn was sweeping over the landscape. He heard the students rushing about, preparing for another day of classes. He avoided any of the corridors where the students gathered, opting instead for the service stairwell that lead out to the garage.

                He slipped out of the door, thinking he’d made a clean escape, only to find another early riser waiting for him.

                “Gambit?”

                LeBeau jolted at the voice and turned, instinctively looking for something to defend himself with, only to see the surprised and unsuspecting face of Bobby Drake staring back at him.

                “Merde, Bobby! You nearly gave me a heart attack!” the Cajun hissed at him, feeling a tremor rush through his frazzled nerves, causing his usually sure fingers to shake.

                “What are you doing out here?” the blonde asked, moving around his motorcycle, seeming stunned by the Cajun’s presence. “I heard about that fight last night, figured you were still...” he faltered nervously when Remy’s ruby and black eyes narrowed. “Uh…anyway, I’m just glad to see you’re okay. But, uh, where’s your shoes? And you know it’s like ten degrees out there, right?”

                Gambit looked down at his under-dressed frame and gave a little snort of laughter. “Yeah, about dat…” he looked at the young mutant seriously. “Maybe you could do Remy a favor, n’est pas?”

               

**

 

                It was several minutes later that Beast came bounding into the garage, clearly having realized that his patient had made a break for it. “Bobby! Have you--?”

                Drake was sitting there on the steps, looking wistfully out the open garage door at the fresh tire tracks made by his motorcycle. “Ya just missed ‘em, Beast.”

                “Why did you let him go?”

                “He said it was important,” the blonde shrugged. “and ya know…he’s real convincing when he wants to be.”

                “Where are your shoes and coat, Bobby?”

                Iceman glanced down and then laughed. “Heh…oh yeah. I guess that was part of the deal.”

                “What deal?” Beast growled, increasingly frustrated. But when Bobby stood up he saw the strange, almost hazy expression on his face. “That man’s a helluva kisser, tell ya what.”

 

***

 

                The dark haired feral was well outside the boundaries of Westchester now, far enough away from the main town that there was little housing and even fewer signs of traffic. He headed upward, climbing a heavily forested hill, which allowed him a fair view of the small little town and the landscape beyond. From this height in fact, he could see the rooftops of the Xavier Institute.

                His guts twisted painfully and he felt like air was too cold to breathe. This was a new low, a darker pit than he could ever recall falling into before. Even as he ran he tore at himself, leaving a rather heavy trail of fresh blood on the otherwise untouched snow.

                He wished now more than ever that he wasn’t what he was, that he could turn these claws on himself and be done with it all. After what he’d just done…

                Logan howled in rage and slashed out at the great pine in front of him, slashing it to bits and barely getting clear as it tumbled over. The branches came down on him, knocking him aside and sending him rolling head over heels down an unseen icy drop. He came to a stop just before a frozen pond and let himself lay there in a heap.

                His heavy breathing slowly dissolved into sobs and moans. Remy, his poor Remy. What had he done? He’d just battered the one person who loved him more than he could ever imagine, someone who had looked at him to protect them.

                He’d thrown it all away. And for what? For a past he didn’t even remember? For a person…a person who had done nothing but make him feel small and lost and incapable of controlling the animal inside him?

                Logan snarled and clawed the ground below him miserably, needing an outlet for his pain and rage and finding nothing suitable. He wanted to die…he wanted to punish himself, to smother out this beast he’d become before it could cause any more pain.

                He pulled himself into a kneeling position looking out across the frozen pond, thinking about the way Remy had looked as he fled, the tears on his face, the defensive way he held himself in his presence. Logan whimpered and pressed his fist up under his chin, trying to will himself to unleash his claws, to feel them pierce his skull and put an end to his misery. Even if it would be painfully temporary.

                He had barely summoned the courage when a big body suddenly fell over his, rough hands grasping his wrists and forcing them down just as the claws unleashed. Logan gasped in shock and felt Victor’s hot breath against his cheek.

                “Don’t you even think about it, runt.” He muttered. “Wouldn’t do ya any good anyway, just make ya stupid for awhile and hurt like hell for longer.”

                “Get off me,” Logan grumbled, wrenching away from the golden haired feral’s grasp and turning on him with a bitter and broken expression. “Everything was fine, until you showed up. This is all you, getting in my head, making me believe I’m something I’m not!

                Victor sat back on his haunches in the snow, observing Logan with an amused smirk. “Oh, my fault is it?” he chuckled. “What’s the matter? You have a little argument with your little southern peach?”

                Logan took a swipe at him, claws and fists connecting, breaking Victor’s nose and taking out a huge chunk of his cheek as he flattened him to the ground. “I hurt him! You think this is funny!? You think walking around like we have no higher instinct than to fuck and kill is what life’s about!?”

                Victor looked up at him with dark eyes. “That’s exactly what it’s about. Ain’t you figured that out yet, Jimmy? We’re the wolves, they’re the sheep. We’re better than they are.”

                Logan looked away in disgust. “You’re wrong. Everything out of your mouth is…is…” he gripped his head angrily. “God, I wish I had never met you!”

                He tried to turn away but Victor caught him, having already healed from his own injuries, and easily pulled the smaller man in, able to restrain his attempts to escape. “Listen to me, Jimmy, listen…” he urged, voice sounding a little softer, and slightly more desperate. “You can’t let these people get in your head and make you think what you feel inside is wrong. You can’t. I can’t lose you all over again.”

                Wolverine looked back at him in confusion. “What are you talking about?”

                Sabertooth’s hard edge had changed, somehow he seemed frightened, smaller, perhaps more human, and yet the reckless feverish light in his eyes told him that he was no less dangerous. “They did this to us before…those fuckers…they got in your head and got everything all twisted around. It’s why you left…how they caught you. You belong with me, it’s the only way we can protect each other!”

                Logan felt his heart ache for Victor then; the man was so clearly in love with him. But it didn’t feel like the kind of love he had for Remy…or even the kind of love he had once shared with Ororo. This love felt desperate, obsessive, covetous. It frightened him.

                He pushed Sabertooth back, shaking his head. “I don’t need your protection…I don’t want this life. Not if it means I lose him…”

                He caught the change in Victor’s scent then, he caught the rush of blood, the smell of adrenaline, the smell of jealousy. “Me or him, hmm? Seems like an easy choice; pretty little Cajun and all his sweet helplessness…but it’s just a show.”

                Wolverine’s lips curled back in a snarl. “Ain’t no show about ‘im, Creed. I don’t care what you say about ‘im, I know him.”

                “You know what he wants you to know. He’s a con, Logan. I’ve seen him play saps like you before, with that pretty face and that sad little tale he tells. He’ll say whatever he has to do to keep ahead of Sinister. You’re just another means to an end, Logan. He doesn’t love you; he needs you.”

                Wolverine presented his claws, but Victor knew he had touched a nerve, the way the dark haired man’s eyes were shining in that helpless, broken way. “You shut up. You shut up!”

                “Truth hurts, Jimmy. But it sure as fuck doesn’t change it.”

                Wolverine fell back against a tree, finding his legs didn’t want to support him. Creed was there, always beside him, one arm around him, close and warm and almost smothering. Logan hated it, it clouded his mind, made him feel weak. But he couldn’t will Victor away either. Right now, he was all he had.

                Victor smelled salt on him, and nuzzled him, kissing and licking at the little flecks of blood that lingered on his skin. “It’s alright, runt. I got ya.”

                “I hate you,” Logan muttered, voice choked and empty. Victor grabbed took his chin and turned it towards him, leaning in even closer. “It don’t matter,” he muttered before kissing him hard. Logan kissed back half-heartedly, hating that he was here and not back in his room with Remy in his arms.

                Victor sensed his reluctance and redoubled his efforts, finally earning a more heated response from the smaller man. He moved down Logan’s neck, tasting Remy’s sweat and his senses lit up like a switch board, making him moan and purr.

                Logan was passive, allowing him to dominate and manipulate him with little force. The other feral had given up, he could taste his grief. Victor cared little, however, if it made Logan more pliable to his suggestions.

                He left a trail of harsh little bites on the man’s skin, moving down his abdomen, where he tasted even more of the Cajun before kneeling in front of him and yanking open his belt, pulling the fly of his jeans open and taking hold of him easily. Logan moaned at the way the bigger feral grabbed and pawed at him, but didn’t resist.

                Victor grinned up at him, “What’s the matter? Lost yer hard on for me already?”

                Logan snarled again and pushed him away, “Is fucking me all you want?” he muttered. “Is that all I am to you?”

                The blonde rolled his eyes; “Jesus Christ, am I really hearing this shit?”

                Logan made to reply, but stopped him. He became aware of a new sound, a new presence in the forest around them, and an all too familiar scent. His heart dropped somewhere into the pit of his stomach. “Oh please, no…”

               

**

 

                Remy had no idea where he was going, but it didn’t matter. Glancing down at the GPS that was loaded into the bike beneath him, he simply followed the little blinking green light, which told him Logan was somewhere five miles north of town.

                He only knew this of course, because he had seen what Beast had been tinkering with in his lab; tiny tracking devices, one of which must have been placed somewhere on Logan’s person. It was devious, and Remy didn’t like the idea of it all, but currently, it was all he had to go on.

                The map had led him off the highway to a dead end that opened up into an unoccupied bit of forested land; an obvious choice for the solitude seeking feral.

                Remy abandoned the bike, striking out on foot. He kept glancing skyward, as if any second he expected Storm to appear; surely both she and Cyclops were near-by if they were following the same tracking signal.

                He needed to get to Logan first. He needed to see what he was dealing with. His throat felt dry, his nerves far too rattled, it was taking all his remaining strength to keep a reign on his increasingly overwhelming emotions.

                The deeper he descended into the forest, the more signs of Wolverine’s passage became apparent. Remy cringed when he saw crimson splatters of blood across the snow, and claw marks that marred the path of trees ahead of him. A new fear for his lover gripped him, and he picked up the pace, though Bobby’s shoes pinched him and were already filled with snow and his thin leather jacket did very little to keep out the freezing air. He wished for his old trench coat and boots and to be back down south where he didn’t have to put up with this shit.

                But any grumblings he might have had were obliterated the moment he came to the edge of the incline and spotted two figures below.

                Logan was immediately recognizable, turned in his direction, barking something at the other figure, looking rather bitter. But Remy forgot about him almost instantly as he began to recognize the other shape beside him.

                The long gold hair was hard to mistake, especially accompanied by that ratty leather duster with the fur collar. The blonde figured turned, catching a glimpse of him out of the corner of his eye, nose the wind; he could smell him.

                Creed. Victor fucking Creed.

                Gambit felt like all the air had gone out of him, and he stood rooted to the spot, muscles so tight and tense that they were locked in position and would not be moved. His heart was suddenly racing; a roaring of blood rushing through his ears.

                This was so much worse than Sinister, so much worse than anything Remy could have fathomed. The man who had torn him apart and left him for dead was standing before him, grinning that evil smirk of his, knowing what he had done and relishing it.

                Victor snorted, causing a cloud of mist in front of his face. “Speak of the devil,” he heard him laugh.

                Then Remy heard nothing else. He had turned so quickly that he barely registered the movement, his feet flying over the icy ground with speed he didn’t even know he possessed. Creed was already bounding after him, with Logan’s voice trailing behind, shocked and dismayed.

                All other thoughts, all other desires were utterly obliterated from Remy’s mind; he had one goal now; escape. Escape at all costs!

                He heard Victor’s heavy body pounding the ground behind him, lagging by only a few yards; he heard the way he laughed and cackled, exhilarated by the chase.

                Gambit had brought no weapons, none of his usual affects; but that didn’t mean he was defenseless. He grabbed everything and anything in his path, clods of frozen earth, tree branches and roots, it all became explosive fodder for his kinetic charge.

                The forest exploded behind him, causing showers of dirt and ice and toppling young trees to the left and right of him. Remy had no concept of the damage, only that he needed to put as much distance between himself and the monster called Sabertooth as possible.

                He slipped and fell, shoe catching in a deep snow drift, but he recovered, continuing on without it. He was snagged in snarl of thorns, which cut his arms and shoulders and face, and he screamed, wrenching through it until he was free, all too aware that he now had put the smell of his own blood in the air.

                His lungs burned, his stomach pinched. He emitted a panicked whimper as he made a sharp turn and nearly tumbled off a fifteen foot high cliff that lead down into an icy ravine. His heart was pounding in his chest, dots blinking in front of his eyes, all his previous hurts singing loudly, only serving to remind him of what he desperately needed to escape.

                Logan’s voice thundered through the trees and caught sight of the man on the other side of the divide. “REMY!” he cried. “Don’t run; I’m coming!”

                Gambit didn’t have the presence of mind to reply, there were too many questions, too many fears, and he had been standing in one spot too long. He turned nervously behind, frantically scanning the landscape for signs of his pursuer.

                But everything was quiet. Remy reached for a rock, ready to charge it at moments notice. “Logan…Logan, what are you doing wit him!?” he shouted to his lover, who was trying to work his way over to him. “Don’t you know what he is!?”

                Remy’s voice was thick and wavering on hysterics. Logan was stunned by it, having never seen the Cajun so unnerved.

                “Rems, it’s okay, I’m coming to get you. Hold on!”

                “Non, mon cher…” the Cajun replied, still frantically searching for signs of Sabertooth, “you don’t understand…”

                A clod of snow fell from above him, causing Remy to look up breathlessly. Sabertooth grinned from his crouched position on the branch just above him.

                “Hello, kitten. Did you miss me?”

                Remy heard a scream, though he wasn’t sure if it came from him. He hurled the rock, now glowing flaming pink and crackling with energy, into Sabertooth’s face. The force of the throw, immediately followed by the explosion, knocked him off his feet.

                He suddenly air born, wind rushing now along with the blood in his ears. Sky and trees and ground flipped one over the other in a dizzying spiral as he tumbled, until a body collided harshly with his and crashed together into the frozen water below.

                The cold was so stark and biting that it forced all of the air out of Remy’s lungs and every muscle contorted in pain from the frigid envelopment. Dirty, frozen water rushed into his mouth and nose and choked him and he struggled, but couldn’t move properly. Thick arms were around him, holding him tightly. Remy struggled, not knowing who they belong to.

                But the cold was so terrible, and there was no air, and only awful freezing dark. It was all just too much. Suddenly breathing didn’t seem so important, and the darkness didn’t seem so bad. He couldn’t feel his hands or feet, or most of his legs…but his core felt warm.

                His thoughts started to fade, the panic going with them. But the rushing remained, as did the tight embrace around his body. Suddenly he was struck with a rush of air on his face. He tried to take a breath, but instead he only seemed to swallow more water…then nothing.

 

                Logan bellowed as he broke the frozen surface of the water, making towards the bank of the frozen creek, shivering so hard it was difficult to control his movements. Beside him Gambit bobbed lifelessly, his body dead weight in Logan’s arms.

                The feral grabbed for the embankment and managed to haul himself and his lover onto land. He took only a second to collect himself, dragging them both out of the frozen water before turning Remy over frantically and bending over him.

                No breath came his lover’s lips, which were already turning a frigid shade of purple and blue. Logan at once began to perform CPR on the man, only faintly aware of Victor’s approach from above. Luckily, after only a few breathes, Gambit began to gurgle water and took a breath of his own.

                “Jumpy little thing, isn’t he?”Creed chuckled as he approached. Logan looked up at him incredulously, ice in his hair, and emitted a screaming roar as he leapt up from Remy’s body and pounced on Victor, knocking him into a tree and burying his claws into the bark on either side of his throat.

                “What the hell was that!? You could have killed him!”

                “I told you—“

                There was a sudden blast of bright heat that made them both wince and fall away, narrowly avoiding as the tree behind them was cut in half by the bright blast.

                They looked up in surprise to see Cyclops making his way towards them; “Wolverine! Don’t let him go!”

                As if things could possibly get worse.

                “No time to explain now, runt,” Sabertooth muttered, grabbing Logan by the arm and yanking him along as he bent to scoop up Gambit’s prone form. “We gotta get outta here before your friends catch us.”

                “Logan! LOGAN!”

                Storm’s voice was somewhere above them and Wolverine felt his heart twist even more painfully. He had two choices; forsake Victor and allow the X-Men to catch him, destroying any further chance he had of learning the truth of his past…or forsake his friends and follow him.

                Gambit was in a bad way, he needed help immediately. Logan growled remorsefully, and used his claws to fell another large tree, which toppled in Scott’s direction, affectively baring their path. Then the two took off, disappearing under the heavy pine canopy with Remy.

                Storm screamed after them; she raised winds and blinding snow, but when it was all over, there was no sign of either of them.

 

**

Chapter Text

 

**

 

                They came to the cabin again within the hour. Victor had stolen a truck, only at Logan’s demand, in an attempt to keep Remy from freezing to death before they reached their destination at the old cabin.

                Pulling up to the door, Wolverine lifted Remy’s bundled figure, which he had wrapped in Victor’s coat and rushed him inside. Gambit’s body temperature was still dangerously low, and he hadn’t regained consciousness, despite the way he constantly shivered. Logan stripped himself out of his own frozen clothing as he laid the Cajun down on the old leather sofa, taking the heavy woven blanket from the back of it and spreading it out below the Cajun before taking him out of his own wet clothing, rubbing his naked limbs vigorously to keep the circulation going.

                “I need warm water, and get a fucking fire going,” Logan barked to Victor as the other man entered. Creed grunted, but complied to his partner’s request, finding a bucket and filling it with steaming tap water and bringing to Logan’s side along with a rag.

                He moved toward the fire place, only to pause and shed his shirt, which he draped over Wolverine’s naked shoulders.

                “Keep warm, runt. “

                Logan blinked up at him, mind still reeling from what had happened. Victor’s strangely kind gesture was enough to jolt him out of his haze, make him slow down and breathe. He said nothing, only nodding to the blonde, who turned and bent to get the fire going.

                The dark haired man turned back to the man beneath him, swabbing Remy’s skin with the warm damp cloth. Little by little his color started to return; the tremors that wracked his figure starting to cease under Logan’s careful attention and warm palms.

                Logan ignored everything else but Gambit for a time, even though he felt Victor’s eyes watching his every move, his every expression. Only once he was sure Remy was out of danger did he turn to acknowledge his partner.

                “You had better be worth it,” he muttered, voice gruff but not without a note of fear beneath its usual growl.

                Victor raised an eyebrow as Logan continued to glare at him. “Those people mean the world to me, and he means even more.” Wolverine explained; “So you’d better make turning my back on them worth it. You have to make this right…help me understand.”

                Victor stood then and moved to his side, putting his hand on Wolverine’s shoulder. “Come on,”

                Logan wrapped Remy up once more and let Victor pull him aside, guiding him to the cabin’s small bedroom, shutting the door behind them. Logan stood in the dark, not sure what would come next, though he was prepared for just about anything.

                Victor came up behind him, dipping his head and kissing the back of Logan’s ear softly in a way that sent an electric shock through the smaller man, making his sigh and close his eyes. “Talk to me,” he muttered, feeling the bigger man’s arms circle him, trying to pull him in closer. “I need to know everything you do. All of it. How’d we end up like this?”

                Creed nodded; “It happened about three years ago. We were approached by the government to create a special task force…all of us mutants. Basically black ops, ya know, a kill squad. But the mission got…messy. We got separated and…by the time I found you again, you weren’t yourself. Stryker had gotten in your head; convinced you that everything we’d done was wrong; a menace to society. He had ya believing the only way to redeem yourself was through his sick little science project…Weapon X.”

                Logan’s head throbbed as bits of memory drifted back to him, like little blinks of sunlight through trees. He remembered…only vaguely…an argument with Creed. He remembered other faces as well, though he wasn’t able to place any of them.

                He remembered the Weapon X facility too. He remembered being strapped down and hooked up to a plethora of machinery while a dozen faceless scientist looked on passively at his suffering.

                The pain hit him then. The memory of it. The memory of the fire that filled his insides, twisting and burning everything down to the marrow, filling him with agony that no man should ever endure. And they had looked on, not caring, unconcerned.

                “Wipe him. Start over, new name, new orders, everything from scratch.”

                The recollection made Logan’s knees weak, and he suddenly realized that Victor was actually holding him up, still nuzzling at his neck, arms around him securely as Logan struggled to regain himself from the unbidden flash back.

                “Breathe, baby, breathe…”

                Wolverine clutched the bigger man for support, feeling like the world was dragging him down into a void. Victor lifted him and put him on the bed with ease, unencumbered by the weight of his adamantium skeleton.

                “You were a lab rat. We all were. You were the last test subject before getting to me…only they got so much more than they bargained for outta you.”

                He gazed at the man in front of him on the bed, who seemed so suddenly fragile, shaken by memories that had been so long buried. “Xavier…Xavier never told me. He said he saw suffering, he said he saw rage, pain…terrible things. But he never told me.”

                “Of course he didn’t. He had to keep ya on a leash. If you knew what you were, what you had been before, you wouldn’t need him. Xavier’s no different than Stryker, or Sinister for that matter. They’re all just looking for pawns in their own personal vendettas.”

                Logan gripped his head, emitting a painful whimper, but Victor wrapped himself around him, always close and careful not break contact, almost as if were afraid he would bolt otherwise. “You, the Cajun and me, we all got scars made by other people and their grand schemes. But we don’t need them anymore, do we? Now that you know the truth, they can’t hold you back anymore.”

                Wolverine felt like stabbing something, or screaming, or vomiting…but his mind was already overwrought with everything that had happened, and he simply didn’t have the energy to keep fighting. He wanted to give up, give in, just for a moment, to let someone else bear the burden, even just for a little while. Just to catch his breath.

                Victor kissed him again, softly, lovingly, in a way that Logan didn’t expect. There was no lack of love or sincerity behind his embrace or his touch, but…it still felt wrong. But before he knew it the bigger man was guiding him onto his back on the bed, kissing, licking, hands warm and firm as if holding him together.

                Logan shut his eyes and gave in.

                Victor moved down his skin, warming it with every touch, teeth lightly scraping the surface but never drawing blood. Logan’s submission was arousing and new and he felt himself finally relax, giving over to what he really wanted.

                It would be easy now, now that the fight was gone. There was only the Cajun to contend with, but Creed felt he was more than capable of snuffing out that problem before it started. He meant what he said to Logan, after all. He wanted a new start, for all of them, away from the influences of Sinister or Xavier or anyone else who wanted to use them. Didn’t these stupid people understand what they were, what they could be if they were untethered by their strings?

                Power, unbridled, deadly and dangerous and free. It was all Victor wanted. All he’d ever wanted. To be one with the beast inside him, the beast that he had been since birth. He was going to drag Logan down off this high moral pedestal that Xavier had put him on, bring him back down to his level. Wolverine would never be better than him again. He’d prove it. With a little time, Logan wouldn’t make a move without his say so.

                The Cajun would be easier…after all, he didn’t possess the same kind of regenerating abilities they did. He would be easy enough to corral into submission…unless he wanted Victor to finish him off.

                He felt Logan’s hands in his hair and he looked up, grinning to see the expression on the other man’s face, a mix of nervousness and lust. Victor pulled his jeans down, discarding the heavy damp material easily and warming Logan’s chilled skin with his own, dipping his head over his groin and licking him softly, slowly, earning another muffled whimper from his partner.

                “Relax,” Victor rumbled, mouth all too close to his sensitive skin, sending shivers of sensation across his nerves. “Don’t worry about nothin’…I’ve got ya now.”

                Logan nodded faintly, lifting his hips faintly to gain more attention, to which Victor happily complied, licking and stroking teasingly before taking Logan completely into his mouth and emitting a low, rumbling purr.

                “AHH!” Logan hadn’t expected the sound to translate into something so intensely pleasurable, as it left him gasping, propping himself up on his elbows to look down at the man who was crouched between his thighs, driving him mad.

                “Victor…!”

                Sabertooth grinned, sinking his fingers into Logan’s hips and pulling him closer, continuing to purr as he bobbed his head up and down, quickly turning the man beneath him into a squirm, gasping puddle of nerves.

                But Victor wasn’t satisfied with this; not this time. He finally had Wolverine exactly where he wanted him, and now he wanted his prize. With one hand secured around Logan’s hip, he moved the other underneath him, moving further between his legs and the curve of his ass.

                Logan’s eyes widened and he tried to twist away, but Victor held him firmly, looking up at him possessively.

                Though the dark haired man’s hand dug into the sparse mattress, he submitted, teeth gritted slightly, as Victor began to work his thick fingers inside of him, pushing and stretching, long nails faintly scratching so that Logan winced and bit his lip.

                Then Victor’s claws pressed against something inside him that made him moan loudly, hips bucking upwards in response and Creed grinned again, pressing more firmly and eliciting another rasping moan from him.

                “I see it’s been awhile for ya, eh runt?”

                “Shut up…” Logan moaned, “please just…”

                Victor withdrew, much to Logan’s surprise and sat back on his knees, turning Logan over onto his stomach before grabbing both hips and drawing him back against him. Logan’s claws appeared as result, gritting his teeth as he felt the man force himself roughly inside him. He bellowed, feeling himself tear and bleed, but the pain was momentary, giving way to strange new feeling of being stretched and filled.

                The blonde behind him was not unaffected either, his own harsh breathing loud in the dark room, head bowed against Wolverine’s back, breathing in his scent and feeling the prickle of sweat on his skin.

                “Fuck…!” he moaned, “you’re so tight!”

                To his surprise, Logan rocked his hips back, forcing Victor a bit deeper inside him, anxious for more. Victor chuckled at his impatience and swiped his tongue across his skin before grabbing his hips harder and slamming up into him, earning a shout from the man in front of him.

                “Show me what ya got, runt. Come on…don’t be shy.”

                Logan growled softly, seductively and rocked back into him again, squeezing his muscles and making Victor cry out in return before leaning back and pulling the man closer, trying to catch his lips to kiss him.

                Everything became a heated blur, the two ferals consumed by the heat and lust of the moment, forsaking all other thoughts or desires, just the primal need to find release. Victor curled a hand around Logan’s neck, feeling his pulse thunder under the pads of his fingers as he slammed into him over and over again.

                “You’re mine, James,” Victor growled. “Mine. I love you…and no one is going take you away from me. Ever again.”

                In his haze Logan barely registered the words, or the dangerous meaning just below their surface. But Victor’s brutal passion had jolted something within his mind, bringing more dormant memories to the surface.

                He’d been here before…many, many times…Victor always on top of him, possessing him, dominating him, making him feel both safe and vulnerable at the same time. Years flashed in front of his eyes, decades, centuries…just the two of them, striving to survive in a world that wanted nothing to do with them. A world that hated and feared them and always would.

                “Ah! AH! Victor…mmmh!”

                Logan was painfully close, grinding back hard as he could, though he had barely any leverage now and Victor was squeezing his throat, making him dizzy. Logan tried to twist around, tried to see his face, to find that connection that they had once had…

                But Victor’s face wasn’t as gentle or loving as he’d expected. He squeezed Logan’s neck hard, cutting off all his air effectively, slamming more harshly into him, making almost constant contact with his prostate and making Logan rasp soundlessly.

                A moment later he practically screamed as orgasm hit him, but Creed kept going, bringing the pace to a punishing crescendo that made Logan gasp with pain. Finally he felt the bigger man twitch inside him, pressing up hard and fast as he roared, coating Logan’s insides.

                Logan felt the edges of his vision darkening, limp against Victor’s shaking form, waiting for release. His head started to clear, and Sabertooth turned and kissed him roughly before pulling back, looking all too pleased with himself.

                Both men were still fairly hard, the curse of their increased stamina more evident than ever, but Logan had no desire to go another round. He slumped back against the bigger feral, who pulled out of him without warning and let him drop onto the mattress, looking him over and admiring the new cuts and bruises he’d left on his skin before his healing factor made them fade away.

                “You look pretty when you’re all strung out like that, runt. All soft and sweet. Kinda funny, don’t ya think?” he chuckled and playfully nipped Logan’s ear and neck. But Wolverine remained passive and silent, still breathing harshly.

                His mind was fuzzy, but it was beginning to make strange new connections. Despite feeling sated by the vigorous and rough sex, he began to realize that something was missing from the experience, something crucial. Something he felt with Remy every time they were together.

                Remy…

                He looked up then, feeling Victor shift his heavy body weight off him, moving to pick up his clothes. Logan lifted his throbbing head from the pillow, “Where are you going?” he asked.

                “Not far, just gonna take a quick sweep of the area, in case any of your former friends try to crash the party.”

                Logan reached out to catch his arm, “There’s no need to…”

                Victor sneered and grabbed his wrist in return, snapping it back and making Logan wince in pain as he felt bone grinding together at the force of it. “You questioning my judgment? You think you know these people, but you don’t. They’ll try take you and LeBeau back. I ain’t gonna let that happen.”

                Wolverine started at him, startled by his viciousness but said nothing, still hazy from lack of oxygen. Victor pressed him back down in the blankets, kissing him hard. “You just lie there and look pretty for me. I’ll be right back.”

                Logan nodded faintly and Victor moved off again. Wolverine waited until he heard Creed leave the cabin, until his smell started to fade, before moving from the bed. He ignored his discarded clothing on the floor, opting instead to root around for something dry inside the wardrobe. Victor didn’t have much in the way of spare clothing, but there was a tattered old pair of jeans and flannel shirt that looked like it had been lying there for a good twenty years, which he pulled on hastily before making his way out into the main room of the cabin.

                Remy was still where he had left him, but Logan moved first to the door to make sure Victor was well and gone before turning to him. He crouched beside the man on the floor, checking his body for any sign of new injuries.

                Under his touch Remy seemed to revive, moaning and blinking his way back to consciousness. Logan reached for him, pulling him into his arms. “Cher…?”

                “I got ya, Gumbo.”

                It seemed to take Remy a few minutes to get his bearings back, as he rested as easily in Logan’s arms as if nothing had ever happened. “Where are we?” he mumbled.

                “Someplace safe, don’t worry.” Wolverine replied, suddenly feeling less sure of that statement. Remy pulled back, blinking up at him groggily. “Where’s Creed?”

                Logan said nothing, averting his eyes. Remy gripped him nervously. “Where is he? Cher…why won’t you look at me?”

                His lover sighed heavily, “Darlin’, I know I messed up. What I done to ya back there…I don’t expect to be forgiven for. But I never wanted to hurt ya, Rems. Ya know that, don’t ya? Tell me ya know that.”

                Remy nodded tiredly, wanting to sink against him and forget about everything, but his instincts told him that he couldn’t rest, not until he knew what had happened to Creed. “Nevermind dat now, cher, we deal wit it later. Help me up, sil vous plait,” he moved to lift himself off the couch and nearly fell only to have Logan catch him and wrap him in his arms again.

                “Easy, easy! You nearly drowned, darlin’, ya gotta rest. I promise it’ll be alright.”

                But Gambit only shook his head, “Can’t…we gotta get back to de mansion before he finds us…”

                “Remy, Remy—listen to me,” Logan urged, holding his lover tightly and forcing him to make eye contact. “Creed told me about what happened with Sinister. He told me what really happened. You don’t have to run anymore, darlin’. We’re gonna fix it.”

                The ruby eyed man blinked at him slowly, not sure he was truly understanding. “Creed told you? Told you…what?”

                “About Essex, and the things you done for him. Things he forced you both in to. How he played with your mind and made you believe Victor was your enemy.”

                Gambit pulled away, stumbling to his feet. He looked frail, naked and shivering in front of the fire light, but his eyes were glowing like hell fire as he stared at Logan. “Dat so?” he muttered, forcing the words out between clenched teeth. “And you believed him, did you?”

                “Remy—“

                “And what details did he provide, I wonder? It’s true…Victor and I were partners, running errands for that psychotic monster. Dat was part of my punishment for escaping him…for being wit you. Creed was dere to make sure I didn’t step out of line, dat I complied with Sinsiter’s sick experiments.” He spat, the words pouring out of him a heated torrent of pain and hatred, unable to be stemmed. “But den I guess he realized I was never going to give you up, dat I would never stop trying to get away from him. I snapped, I threatened to destroy myself and all his research with me. So he let me go, and I ran...and I believed I was actually free, actually safe. Cause I was just dat desperate and stupid.

“Greycrow and I escaped. John had always been my friend, no matter what he did for Sinister. I thought I could trust him this time; he'd done his best to protect me while I was trapped there. But I was wrong; I forgot how easily he could be manipulated...I let him convince me that hiding among the Morlocks would be the safest place for us. I lead him down there, thinking we would be safe until the heat died down... And by de time I realized that it was all a trap and what Creed and dose other monsters were there to do…I couldn’t stop it.”

                Remy slid down the wall, dejected, face in his hands, tears running down his face in spite of himself, shaking with rage at the memory. Logan moved cautiously towards him, offering the naked man a blanket to cover himself, but Gambit flinched away from him before turning to glare at him with those gleaming ruby and black eyes again.

                Did he happen to tell you dat?! Did he happen to tell you dat when I fought back, when I tried to stop ‘im from murdering dose innocent people, what he did to me!?”

                He grabbed Logan’s hand and dragged it against him, forcing his palm to flatten against the scars that ran along the skin of his abdomen. “THIS! This is what happened, Logan! Dat bastard attacked me, raped me and then cut me open and left me to die!!”

                Logan felt his insides turn cold. There was no lie in Remy’s voice, no confusion, no uncertainty. Only immense pain and shame. “And I find out you’re sleeping with him!” Remy screamed, falling against Logan, fists flying.

                Wolverine caught his wrists easily, able to hold off his lover’s attacks without much effort, until Remy collapsed against him, a quivering mess. Logan gathered him up tentatively and wrapped the blanket around him tightly. “I’m sorry…I’m so sorry, darlin’.”

                Gambit wrapped himself as tightly around the bigger man as he dared, letting the anger and the shame slowly drain out of him, secure in Logan’s embrace. He remembered their time together in New Orleans, how Logan had protected and respected him the way no one else had in ages, even though they barely knew each other. Logan had kept him going through all the horrors Sinister had subjected him to, through all the shameful things he had done with Sabertooth in the name of self -preservation. And he was still here with him, even now, with his sins laid bare. But why....why had he betrayed him for Creed?

                “Why, Logan?” he mumbled, once he finally found his voice again. “Why are you wit dis man?”

                “He’s my link,” his lover answered quietly. “The one person who knows who I was before Weapon X, before I lost my memory.”

                Remy shook his head, cupping Logan’s face between his palms, “Cher, whatever dat beast has been telling you, it’s lies, all lies!”

                “It’s not,” he replied. “He’s shown me proof, Remy. There are pictures, documents…my dog tags with my real name. And I’ve…I’ve started remembering things. Things Xavier repressed in my mind, saying they were too painful, too chaotic to handle.” His guts twisted at the thought. “Xavier made me into Wolverine…but I was someone before that. I was James Howlett.”

                Remy didn’t know what to say to this, feeling as though Logan was losing focus, ensnared by some web of lies Creed had wound around him. But Logan gripped him close and looked at him seriously; “I have to stay here, Remy. I have to put the pieces back together, see for myself. I can’t leave till I know who I really am. But don’t worry; I’m not gonna let anyone hurt you. Not even me. You believe me, don’t you?”

                The auburn haired man rested his head against Logan’s, “Cher…please, take me home. I just want to go back home wit you and Ro, please, please!”

                Logan held him and kissed away the salt on his cheeks, keeping him close until he began to grow calm and quiet, clearly exhausted. Eventually the two picked themselves off the floor and Logan managed to find some clothes for Gambit to wear, though they were woefully large on his frame, so much that the pants were a total loss and he was left in nothing but briefs and heavy sweater.

                Remy kept his eyes on the door nervously, watching for Creed’s return. Logan worked silently to keep the cabin warm and his lover comfortable, rolling around all these new details in his mind, trying to find the truth among them.

                Remy’s fear scent assaulted his senses and made him restless, not to mention remorseful. He began to reconsider Creed’s idea of bringing him here. No matter how much he loved the Cajun, he didn’t want to force him to stay with them. But then he thought of Victor’s words of warning, of Creed’s own version of events, in which Sinister had manipulated Gambit into killing and attacking people. If there was any truth to this…he wasn’t safe for him to remain at the Mansion.

                With a sigh he gave up his quest to scrounge up some food for them, realizing Victor didn’t keep the cabin very well supplied, and turned towards his lover, who sat tensely in front of the fire, watching the door like a hawk, fingers nervously drumming across the arm of the couch.

                “Rems, I’ll take ya back to Xavier’s.”

                Remy turned towards him in shock, his features lifting, eyes suddenly bright. “Really? Oh mon amour, I knew you would come around!” He climbed to his feet hurriedly, reaching for Logan’s arm. “Come on, let’s go before—“

                “I can’t go with you, darlin’. I don’t belong there anymore.” Logan explained. “But I ain’t gonna hold ya here, not after what I’ve done. I don’t even deserve ta speak to ya.”

                The little spark of hope that had lifted Remy faded quickly, and he realized that he wasn’t the only one Victor had damaged. “I’m not leaving, not wit’out you.” He declared. “Whatever he has you believin’, cher, whatever truth there may be in it, you can guarantee he’s twisted it around to suit his purposes. I’m not gonna leave you alone wit ‘im.”

                “Remy—“

                They both heard footsteps, and Gambit stood, ready to fight or flee. Logan hurried to his side, putting an arm around him to steady him. “It’s alright, darlin’. I won’t let him get close.”

                Remy trembled but said nothing as Victor opened the door, shaking snow from his hair shoulders, blinking in the firelight at the two of them. “Mmm, greeting me at the door like two old hounds. How cute,” he scoffed at the two of them. His eyes lingered on Remy, who looked at him like he was trying to burn a hole in his head with his gaze. “Glad ta see yer not dead, Cajun. I know how ya hate the cold.”

                He reached as if to touch him, but Logan showed his claws, pushing Remy slightly behind him. “Keep yer hands to yerself, Vic. We gotta talk.”

                Victor chuckled and moved off, not impressed by the display of protective force and slunk into a chair by the fire, kicking up his boots as he looked at the two of them much the way a hungry wolf eyes a pair of stray sheep. “So I see you and kitten have been talking? That’s good…clear the air and all that.” He gave Remy what he supposed was supposed to be a pitying smile; “It hurts me though, to think you’ve come to hate me, sweetheart. We used ta be a good team, you and me.”

                “Rot in hell you fucking bastard.” Gambit hissed at him.

                Victor grinned mischievously, “Still got that fire. Must be what the runt likes so much about ya. I know it always kept me interested.”

                “Shut up.” Logan barked, bristling and looking more like the Wolverine Remy was accustomed to. “You listen to me, and you listen good, cause I ain’t inclined to repeat myself; Gambit is not a hostage. He stays only as long as he chooses to, and if you do anything to try hurt him or force him…” he showed his claws again. “Then you and I are gonna have a serious problem.”

                Victor was silent for a moment, gold eyes glinting in the fire light. Logan challenging him was something he both loved and hated; but showing force now would only make things harder. He finally had both men where he wanted them; if he played his cards right, he’d get exactly what he wanted out of both of them, without having to half kill them first.

                He folded his thick clawed hands neatly across his chest, shrugging his shoulders lightly; “Alright; deal. I’ll keep my distance from the Cajun while we…detox ‘im, as it were. Sound good to you, kitten?”

                Remy gave him the finger, which crackled faintly with a spark of his energy, and Logan kept his arm around him tight to secure and reassure him. “Glad ta see we’re all on the same page then.” He nodded.

                Gambit slowly retreated back to the couch, attempting to relax, but his muscles were coiled tight like a spring. “There’s no food here,” Logan muttered then. “I need to go out and get some supplies. Looks like we could get snowed in here.”

                “I’ll go with you,” Remy said, trying to sound calm.

                “Naw,” Victor replied then, nodding his head lazily in his direction as he picked his teeth, “You’re in no condition to be travelin’, Cajun, not after that nasty tumble in the creek. Cold could ya kill ya if ya aint’ careful.”

                “You’re out your mind if you t’ink Remy would stay here wit you,” Gambit answered darkly.

Logan put his hand on his shoulder, “He’s right, Gumbo. You need to stay put, can’t risk you having any further exposure in these temperatures.”

Remy looked frightened, but Logan leaned down and gave him a reassuring kiss, “Trust me, darlin’. You’ll be safe.” He glared back at Creed. “Cause if he so much as touches a hair on your head, I’ll be able ta smell it. Ain’t that right, Victor?”

The blonde feral shrugged, “Guess so.”

“He won’t touch ya,” he promised again. He rooted in the pockets of his jeans and produced something small and pressed it into Gambit’s palm discretely, leaning in to kiss his cheek and whisper something in his ear. Remy nodded faintly and Victor raised an eyebrow curiously.

Logan turned and grabbed Sabertooth’s coat from the floor, yanking it on as he headed towards the door, truck keys in hand. “Play nice you two,” he muttered, eyes on Creed, before slipping out the door.

They listened to the truck start outside, and the crunch of the tires as it pulled away from the dirt road that lead to isolated cabin. Creed rose from his seat, glancing out the window, searching the treeline for signs of headlights among the heavily falling snow. He smiled when he saw none; “Well, now that we’re alone—“

A lamp collided with his head and exploded, engulfing the side of his head in flame and bits of glass. He roared and slashed out at his attacker, making contact and hearing him cry out. Blinking away glass and blood, Creed turned, snarling to see LeBeau sprawled on the floor, bleeding from fresh cuts across his ribs made by Victor’s claws.

“You little shit, you’ve got some balls on ya, I’ll say that much!”

Remy tried to pick himself up, but Victor had him by the scruff of the neck, throwing him down again, poised over him as though ready to tear out his throat. The Cajun should have been hysterical, instead there was only a mad smile on his face and hellish light in his feverish red eyes. “Go on, Creed, tear into me! Soon as he sees what you done, he’ll know what you are and he’ll finish you!”

Victor lifted a hand to strike him, then paused and sat back thoughtfully, somewhat impressed; “Think yer pretty smart, eh Cajun? Think you got me over a barrel now, huh?”

Gambit only smirked up at him, daring Creed to take it any further.

Slowly the feral lifted himself from his position, but rather than leave Remy where he had fallen, he grabbed him up, throwing him over his shoulder and heading for the only other private room in the cabin; the bathroom.

It was small and cramped, containing one small shower, a toilet and a sink. He roughly disrobed the disoriented Cajun before shoving him into the shower and flattening him against the wall, baring the only exit with his body.

Remy tried to push back, threatening to ignite the tiles under his finger tips and blow them both to hell, but Victor shook his head; “It’ll hurt you a lot more than it hurts me, swamp rat,” he explained. “And when he comes back and finds you in charred little pieces, I’ll explain how Sinister made you self-destruct.”

“He’ll never believe you, you lying piece of shit—“

Creed slapped him, splitting his lip, and making him smack his head against the tile. “You listen to me you little cunt,” he snarled, “much as I like fucking your pretty little ass, you are expendable to me. Wolverine, however, is mine. He was mine before your great, great, granddaddy was ever thought of! So don’t you dare think I would let him go, not after I’ve come this far to get him back.”

Remy was shocked to say the least. “It’s true…what you told him?”

Creed laughed at his shock, stroking his cheek with one talon and watching him squirm; “That’s right, kitten. It’s all about the bigger picture. But you can be part of it, if you ask really, really nicely.” He turned on the shower head, letting cold water run down over top of them. Gambit shouted at the chill, but Sabertooth gave him nowhere to run.

“Quit squirmin’,” he muttered. “I’d hate for ya to hurt yerself again.”

Victor grinned, relishing the power he had over the smaller man in front of him. He didn’t notice the subtle change in Remy’s scent then as the other man looked up at him, fixing him with this strange, wide-eyed gaze as he reached up to touch Victor’s jaw.

“Sure you want to do dat?” he asked, voice softer, accent thicker somehow. “We both know who comes out on top of dis deal, mon ami, and I…I ain’t sure my legs will hold me.” He put a hand over the bleeding gashes across his rib cage, hissing at the way the water made them sting. Victor dragged his palm back, lifting it to his lips and licking away the red smears that stained it.

Remy’s face was unreadable, but Victor felt the pull of his power tighten around his senses, making him feel strangely less aggressive, though no less aroused. He pulled Victor in, brushing himself up against the bigger, now naked man, actually resting his head against the man’s chest, breathing heavily. “Steams makin’ me dizzy…”

He sagged a little, letting Creed hold him up entirely, bodies flushed against each other. Creed dropped his head to LeBeau’s long neck, seeming to sniff him; an animal checking for injury. Remy remained passive as he dared, eyes closed, sighing softly. He felt Creed’s fangs ghost over his neck, moving his wet hair aside. “Don’t think I don’t know what you’re playin’ at, kitten.” He rumbled, he ghosted his talons down Remy’s spine before reaching down and gripping his ass, “It ain’t gonna save ya.”

The Cajun pushed himself closer, as though he were trying to steal Creed’s warmth, catching his eyes, “I ain’t dumb enough ta t’ink I would win against you. Logan’s not here, ya got no one to impress...”

He squeezed Remy painfully, bending to look him in the eyes; “Why shouldn’t I turn ya over and spread ya wide then?””

Gambit chuckled softly, licking his lips in attempt to keep Victor from noticing how they trembled at the thought. He wanted to hurt the man in front of him, tear him to bits and run away. But he had to buy some time. “Because,” he breathed, brushing a hand through Victor’s wet gold hair and scratching his nails just lightly below his chin. “I’m a little fragile right now, cher. You take me like you want, and I be useless to ya afterwards. Not to mention Logan would be angry. Now why you wanna risk dat, when I got somet’ing just as nice ta give ya right now, no fuss involved?”

He slid his hands down Creed’s muscles, moving to reach the half-hard length that was resting against his thigh, stroking him teasingly. Victor purred and moaned, thrusting into his hand faintly. Remy grabbed his attention again, continuing to give him that soft, seductive look, keeping his voice low and alluring.

Creed pulled the lanky man against him, leaning down to lick a line from his collar bone to his ear, eliciting a shaking moan from the southerner. Remy’s fear scent was evident under the haze of lust he using to mask it, but that only enticed Creed more. “You ain’t changed. I gotta admit, though…I missed ya.”

Gambit didn’t answer, trying distract the man by touching him, hating that he knew how to pleasure Creed. But, sadly for Gambit, this type of deception had become a unique art form for him, a way to preserve himself and get whatever he might need out of his mark at the same time. But Creed wasn’t his usual kind of mark; he was far more volatile, far more dangerous. And Remy had lost some of his hard resolve, his ability to detach, after all he’d been through.

But Creed got closer, leaning in to kiss him, tasting the blood on his lip. “Careful,” he purred. “Careful…you walk the line a little too close and little too often, kitten. Who are you foolin’? Me, or Wolverine?

Remy grabbed Victor’s chin, glaring into his eyes; “You need me,” he muttered, “wit’out me, he’ll run from you, and you’ll never get him back. So you’d better play nice…”

Creed growled and kissed him hard, bruising, and began to work him roughly with his hand, eliciting a sharp gasp from his captive. Remy could go nowhere, his feet couldn’t quite touch the ground and the tile behind him was too slippery to gain any traction with his hands, so he was forced to cling to Creed’s hulking form, pouring all his remaining energy into keeping the feral snared with his Charm deeply enough to keep from being killed.

The water was hot and stifling, even more so as his body temperature continued to climb with close contact and a new rush of arousal. Victor liked to tease and toy, hurting and pleasuring at the same time, he got a sadistic rush from making his victims tremble in fear and moan his name all at once. Victor shifted him once or twice, moving so that he could grip both of them in one hand, squeezing them together as he stroked up and down.

The sensations coupled with the heat and the throbbing pain from his injuries soon proved to be too draining on LeBeau. His control started to slip as he felt himself giving over to the other mutant’s hands, waiting for unconsciousness or death. But Creed lifted him higher, pushing him more firmly against him and muttered in his ear; “No rest yet, kitten…gonna make ya moan for me first,”

He squeezed a little tighter, pulled a little farther, making Gambit sigh in spite of himself, knowing he was going to come soon. He tried to go elsewhere in his mind, tried to search for a safe place to retreat to.

He thought of Logan; his warmth and his smile and his humor. He pictured riding with the man on the back of his motorcycle, fast and reckless and wild, holding onto his thick muscular frame, and the way the man always smelled like tobacco and warm leather--

Victor lips and tongue were on his collar bone, moving down, stroking fast and rough enough with his hand to make Remy wrench out another yelp of pleasure, his voice in Remy’s ear, muttering about all the times they’d found themselves in similar situations during their time with Sinister, how Gambit’s “whore face” made him wake up in the middle of the night, hard and sweating—

--Remy forced him out and thought of Ororo and their new found bond. He thought about the times they spent together in her rooftop garden, talking about her love of the natural and wild and her time in Ciaro as pick-pocket. She and Remy would swap stories of scores and cons, seeing which of them had been more clever and devious, while Logan smoked his cigars and flipped through his books—

“Ahh fuck!!”

Remy felt Victor come first, the hot spray of the shower washing the results away quickly. The way his hips jolted against Remy’s and spasmodic jerking of his hand finally set the Cajun off too, making him feel even more light-headed than he already did.

Victor was watching him, face much to close, drinking every little gasp and breath from Remy’s lips, watching him come down from climax. “God damn…that right there, right there is the only fucking reason I’m letting you walk away from this.” He hissed. Creed turned off the water at last, having run all the heat out of it, and dragged Remy from the cell, letting him fall to his knees on the floor, panting heavily.

The effects of the Charm were wearing off, and Victor was coming back to himself, well aware of how he had just been manipulated. If circumstances had been different, he would have given Remy a beating for his trouble as he had in the past. But the Cajun had him over a barrel this time…any damage he did to him would show, and Logan would visit his fury on him as result.

“Doesn’t surprise me you’re with him,” the blonde said, finding a towel and drying himself. “You always did like us big, wild fellas who are even more dangerous than we look. You’re an adrenaline junkie, LeBeau. Too bad ya ain’t got the stamina to put up with it like he and I do.” He mocked, feeling proud of himself for having reduced Remy to a boneless puddle on the floor.

He looked over the wounds on Gambit’s ribs and frowned before crouching down beside him, “What are ya gonna say about these little stripes then, eh? I hope ya don’t think this is your out.”

Collecting himself Remy shook his head slowly, hair hanging in his face, “Naw…I’ll just say we had a scuffle…” he panted. He glared up at Creed through the tangles of his hair; “Sure you can just say dat Sinister made me do it.”

Creed grinned and laughed, tossing Remy his used towel to clean up with. Gambit scowled at it and threw it aside, getting to his feet shakily. “You’re so full of shit, Creed.”

“So are you, fer ever thinkin’ you were gonna break free of that nut-case. Can’t say I envy your lot in life, LeBeau. You attract the worst sort of people.” He laughed, giving the Cajun a hearty slap on the back before walking back out into the main living area.

Remy steadied his nerves, though it was difficult, and tied the wet towel around his waist before moving back into the main room. Victor tossed his clothes at him, which Logan had left to dry by the fire and then moved towards the cabinets above the little cooking area, producing a rather large bottle of bourbon whiskey. He removed the lid before taking several heavy swigs from it and then offering it to LeBeau.

“Have a slug, kitten. Put some color back in that face of yers.”

Remy plucked the bottle from his hand and looked at him venomously before taking a slug of his own, feeling it warm his tongue and throat, sliding all the way down into his stomach. “So,” he muttered thickly afterwards, pushing the bottle back at him. “How’d Wolverine ever get away from you in de first place? Can’t imagine what would make ‘im stray, what wit your winning personality and all...” he snarked.

Creed continued to drink, watching Remy’s every move to make sure he didn’t try to fight or bolt; though the Cajun didn’t seem to have the strength for much more than sitting as he was in front of the fire.

“Don’t be nosey,” he answered somewhat dangerously. “Ain’t none of your concern.”

Remy noted this mutely, sensing that Creed was keen to keep whatever had caused their separation a secret. “And what about Essex? Aren’t you afraid he’ll come looking for you? You were his favorite hit man.” He muttered.

Creed sniffed, finally sitting the bottle down, having already half-emptied it. “I can’t be intimidated like you, LeBeau. Sinister wants my services, he’s gotta pay, just like everyone else.”

“Really?” Lebeau asked softly, “what’s yer price to walk away from all dis?”

The golden haired feral looked at him with muted amusement, smirk on his lips. “Too high for you, swamp rat.”

“Not so sure about dat,” Remy answered. “I got connections…I’ve stolen things worth twice as much as Xavier’s mansion.”

Creed chuckled; “I bet ya don’t want lover boy knowin’ about that, now do you?” he teased, moving closer to him now. “He’s already questioning everything you ‘ve ever told him, wondering how much is real and how much is a delusion created by Sinister.” He brushed a claw through Gambit’s hair, making him wince away, “After some of the shit I saw, LeBeau, sometimes even I wonder if you are who you say you are.”

“Shut up,” Remy hissed.

The door opened then and Logan stepped inside carrying a large brown bag of groceries and looking hurriedly between the two men. As soon as he saw the close proximity between them, he let the bag drop to the floor and marched forward; “Get away from him--!”

“Cher, it’s okay!” Remy said hurriedly, much to Logan’s shock. He rose to greet the, putting his arms around his shoulders and leaning in close. “Everything’s fine.”

Logan held him in return and heard Remy hiss when his arms went around his torso. He pulled back curiously, pulling up the other man’s shirt and seeing the fresh claw marks. He glared at Victor, “You bastard, you swore—“

Remy grabbed his face between his hands and kissed him, causing Logan to blink in confusion. He felt the Cajun’s influence then rushing over him, pulling at his senses. He pulled back in confusion, searching Remy’s face for some answer.

The auburn haired southerner gave him a remorseful glance, followed by another heated kiss that practically stole Logan’s breath. “Trust me,” he whispered.

Logan looked at him suspiciously, as Remy pulled him back to the couch. “We’ve been talkin’ while you were away, cher. Have to admit, t’ings got a little heated,” he flicked his gaze at Creed, who stood watching silently. “But Victor helped me ta remember some of de things that Essex had made me forget. Startin’ ta t’ink dat maybe things aren’t what dey seem.”

Wolverine looked from him to Creed, waiting to see the other feral’s reaction. He only shrugged his big shoulders, looking both pleased and amused. “What did I tell ya, runt? We just had ta get him somewhere where we could talk things out. Ain’t that right, kitten?

Remy sneered and leaned on Logan, keeping in as much contact as he could with the man while he tried to work his Charm influence over him, slowly by degrees. Logan, for his part, was very confused. Remy smelled like water and sweat; no trace of Victor, yet the tension in the Cajun’s muscles, the fresh wounds and the way he trembled ever so faintly were all give-aways that something had gone down in his absence.

But why Remy would choose to act as though nothing was wrong, that Victor and he working through their stark differences of perspective so suddenly, was strange and suspicious. Even more so now that he felt Remy pulling him into the snare of influence, making other thoughts hazy, making his need to be close with the man all the more prominent.

“Seems there’s still a lot more to talk about,” Logan muttered. “Like what actually happened in those tunnels. Anybody care to clear the air?”

“Don’t rush the kid, Wolvie,” Creed said, taking the bag of food from the floor and rooting through it. Logan had bought a fair amount of what appeared to be jerky, beer, and sports drinks, as well as another bottle of whiskey and a loaf of bread. “Maybe we oughta just take a minute and enjoy ourselves. We’re free men now; no more Sinister, no more Xavier School of Higher Learning. What a joke!”

He tossed Remy a bottle of Gatorade, “Drink this before ya faint. All that hot water’s got ya dehydrated, not thinkin’ too clearly, I’m guessing.” His eyes flashed faintly as he passed them, sinking once more into his chair with a rope of jerky and the already half-empty bottle of whiskey.

Remy chugged down several mouthfuls of the stuff, mind racing, feeling both men watching him. The hand he’d been dealt this time was tricky; any move that strayed too far could spell disaster for not just himself but Logan as well. Creed expected him to fold; to tell Logan what had happened between them and depend on the feral to protect him.

But that would do them no good; Remy knew what Sabertooth was capable of, the ruthless, remorseless violence of his nature. He would tear them both apart and explain it away afterwards. Logan was too entrenched in the lie Victor had spun around him, believing Sabertooth was something else.

So Remy needed to get him to show his hand, to prove what he really was.

His eyes flickered to Logan and he felt his empty stomach pinch; it was going to cost him. And he had very little left to give…but he didn’t see any other way.

“It was a joke,” he said then, setting the bottle aside. Logan raised an eyebrow, obviously surprised. “De Professor has de best intentions, but under it all, he not much different from Essex. He just goes about it differently.”

“I wouldn’t put it that way,” Logan mumbled, but Remy only shrugged.

“Naw, cher, you don’t have ta take up for ‘im, nor any of dem. You said it yourself, Xavier kept what little of your past ya remembered hidden from you; repressed. Kept in you line, didn’t it? Don’t seem like it much different from de way Sinister black mailed us…right, mon ami?”

Sabertooth grinned; “Sure don’t. Xavier just wraps his crazy up in a pretty little package and says it’s a school, but we know better.”

Logan stared suspiciously between the two of them. “Maybe yer right. Still, Chuck could be doin’ a lot worse. And I guess it don’t matter now.” He put a hand on Remy’s knee, peering curiously into his face. “How ya feelin’, darlin’?”

“Better,” Remy lied, “more like myself. I sure could use a drink, though.” He eyed the whisky bottle in Victor’s hand, and Creed waved it teasingly in front of him.

“Ya want it, come get it.”

Remy stood and sauntered over to him, straddling Victor’s legs as he stood in front of him and plucked the bottle from his hand, throwing back a mouthful and licking his lips afterwards. Creed purred, one hand snaking up Remy’s thigh. Glancing behind him, he noticed how shocked Logan seemed and grinned.

“Pick yer jaw up off the floor,” he laughed. “I told ya he had ya fooled. LeBeau was the best damn conman in the Big Easy before Sinister ever heard his name, wasn’t anyone who hadn’t heard of the jewel of the Thieves Guild back then.”

Gambit turned back to Logan, expression an apathetic mask, but Logan felt his Charm influence surging forward, ensnaring both he and Victor all too easily. He tried to shake free of it, searching Remy’s face for explanation.

“Cajun…?”

Gambit returned to him, stroking Logan’s cheek softly, playing with the thick black patches of facial hair that edged the corner of his jaw. “It wasn’t an act, mon amour. When you found me, I was in a bad way. And after I lost you, t’ings only got worse. Den I realized I had to stop tryin’ ta swim against de current. I was raised a thief, after all, ain’t no hero. What was I tryin’ ta prove, taking up wit your X-Men?”

The dark haired man frowned and took his hand, “That you’re something better, Remy. You stole to get by, you did those things because you had no other choice.”

Remy gave him a cold, passive glace, taking another swill of whiskey. “I stole because I’m good at, cher. I fucked because I’m good at it too. Dat’s who I am, Logan. You see damaged goods when you look at me, a stray who needed a little love. And I always be grateful. But de straight and narrow…heh, it just ain’t in my nature.”

He moved Logan’s hand to his hip, fingers playing across his knuckles teasingly, swaying slightly towards him. “I’m cold, cher. Warm me up, would you?”

Logan looked away, seeming angry and hurt by Remy’s sudden change in demeanor, but Gambit pulled his attention back to him, sliding into his lap and kissing him softly. “Don’t be mad, cher. I love you, dat was never a lie.”

He looked into Logan eyes’s leaning close. “What are you doing?” Wolverine breathed, feeling the Cajun’s Charm starting to overwhelm his thoughts. Remy kissed him teasingly, unbuttoning his shirt and running his cold hand down Logan’s chest, toying with his chest hair before leaning in and whispering; “Trust me,” against the shell of his ear.

Logan groaned softly, feeling Remy overwhelm him finally and reached around to grip the man’s ass in both hands, squeezing tightly and rubbing up against him.

Sabertooth was watching all of this from behind, Remy having already completely ensnared him; a task made easier by the man’s growing intoxication. Gambit held the bottle up to Wolverine’s lips and Logan drank greedily before passing it back and Remy did the same, allowing a little bit of the amber liquid to spill down his chin and dribbled down his neck, pooling in the little hollow of his throat.

Logan leaned in eagerly to lick it away and Gambit moaned, tilting his head back and exposing his neck to more of that warm tongue. He felt Logan grip the hem of his shirt and tug upwards, and Gambit complied, letting himself be stripped down. Once the fabric of discarded the made to take another drink, but instead let it all spill down his chest, running in little rivers down his torso.

Wolverine let out a deep rumbling sigh as he pulled the Cajun in closer, lapping up the drops that ran down his skin, thick hands gripping his ass and moving up his back to knead the muscles there as well.

Gambit glanced back at Victor, sighing softly as Logan took a sharp nip at his nipple and saw that Sabertooth’s gaze was fixed on the two of them, hand shoved under the waistband of his pants. Gambit smiled, hands moving across Logan’s neck and shoulders, playing with his thick wild hair, brushing himself lightly over his groin and making the bigger man moan.

“You want me, mon amour?”

“God yes…” Logan moaned, kissing him hard and desperately. Remy returned the gesture lovingly, feeling a lump in his throat but pushing down the hot feeling that was gathering there and threatening to interrupt his performance.

“Show me.”

Logan hesitated, struggling against the heated urge that had overcome him, “I…you sure you can…?”

“For fuck’s sake…” Victor snarled from his chair. “Just fuck ‘im already, runt! Ya gotta be told twice?”

Logan growled at the blonde, pulling Remy closer to him. “Shut the hell up, Creed.” He muttered. “Ain’t no one talkin’ ta you.”

Victor stirred, and Remy hurriedly turned Logan’s face towards him again, bouncing slightly in his lap; “Shh, cher, don’t worry about it. It’s just you and me, mon coeur, you and me…”

Logan nodded, pulling him into another kiss and hurriedly prying Remy out of his briefs, watching as the lithe southerner bent back gracefully onto the couch to allow Logan to strip him completely.

Wolverine moaned again seeing the way the man was splayed under him so eagerly, holding nothing back. He lifted Remy’s hips and pushed himself between them, reaching to wrap a hand around his erection as he bent down to leave a rough love bite just above the man’s naval.

Gambit moaned, pushing himself up to meet Logan’s hungry mouth. Creed was starting to breath heavily from the chair behind them, and Gambit turned his head to look him in the eye, smirking teasingly as he coaxed Logan closer, wrapping his legs around the man.

“Looks lonely over dere,” he purred. “Why don’t you join us, mon ami?”

Creed laughed at him, continuing to stroke himself, “Ain’t no rush,” he muttered thickly, “wanna see the runt get you screaming first. Give ‘em a taste of de real Ragin’ Cajun….no holding’ back.”

Remy closed his eyes, trying to focus on Logan’s warm touch. Victor had upped the stakes; he wanted a real show, wanted to see Logan go hard and rough at him, knowing it would probably set him off. Clever bastard.

But he wasn’t about to fold just yet. Still a few more cards to play.

Logan had pulled himself out of his jeans, Remy could feel him pressing hot and hard against the inside of his thigh, anxious to move forward, lost in the spell of lust he’d put over him. But he was holding back, if only just. Remy felt his heart ache a little, knowing why. Logan was afraid to hurt him, to repeat his mistake from earlier.

The lump returned in Remy’s throat, a bit more insistent this time, but he willed it away, kissing Logan hard and shutting his eyes tightly. “Fuck me, cher…fuck me hard, sil vous plait…”

“No,” Logan growled, struggling. “Don’t want it like this…don’t want to hurt you…”

Remy seized his lips, pressing himself hard up against the man and biting his lip; “Dammit, Wolverine, fuck me! Unless you’re afraid—AH!”

Logan bit his shoulder hard, and thrust against him, managing to push through the tight ring of muscle on the first try and then redoubled the effort the second time, actually wrenching a shout from Gambit’s mouth, who dug his nails into Logan’s skin and scratched hard.

Beside them Sabertooth moaned loudly, picking up his own pace, licking his lips when he got a whiff of blood and salt and saw how wet Remy’s eyes were suddenly. Logan was pounding into him, breathing hard and Remy held on for all he was worth.

It hurt, but he knew it would. The pain was beginning to dull, taken over by the haze of alcohol on an empty stomach and sheer force of will. He muttered things in Logan’s ear; every dirty wanton request he’d ever whispered in back alley or seedy hotel room or back room of a night club in New Orleans. He knew this hand well; he knew how it played out. Nothing mattered but who walked away with all the chips.

Remy felt himself starting to tense, pleasure building in the pit of his stomach, spreading throughout his jolting limbs and he arched against Logan, pushing back, creating more friction between the two of them that had them both gasping and moaning, sweat starting to appear. Remy came first, letting out a little mewl of pleasure and raking his hands through Logan’s hair.

Wolverine paused in his onslaught long enough to watch before dragging Remy into another deep kiss. They pulled back, lips wet and breathless, before Logan turned him over on his stomach and pushed his legs up and mounted him from behind.

Remy groaned into the couch cushion, only to feel a new weight appear in front of them as Victor made his way over to them. Gambit braced himself, feeling Creed’s clawed hand reach down to drag his face up, finding himself face to face with the other feral’s erection.

Logan looked up in concern, slowing in his own actions for a moment, ready to intervene. But Remy couldn’t chance Logan tipping the scales now; throwing off his game. So he braced himself on one arm and licked his lips, drawing Victor in closer and licked him heatedly.

Creed growled low in his throat, throwing back another drink of whisky from the new bottle, as he twisted his hand in Remy’s sweaty auburn hair before yanking him forward, forcing him to take him in further. But Gambit adapted easily, finding himself balancing between the push and pull from the two men.

Logan howled suddenly from behind, grabbed Remy’s hips and dragged him roughly backwards, driving hard upwards and Gambit winced, feeling him pinch and squeeze his hip and thigh until the tremors of orgasm passed. But Logan was still painfully solid inside him, and Remy quietly cursed his healing factor.

Victor snarled at the loss of contact and yanked Remy’s hair, bringing his attention back to his groin and Remy had to take a quick breath before Victor filled his mouth again, claws scraping his scalp as if in warning.

Logan was recovering, breathing heavily and leaning over Remy’s back, kissing his sweating, shaking skin, but his hands were already busy between Remy’s thighs again, stroking the already too sensitive flesh until it was hard again. Gambit whimpered, not sure how long he could maintain. Victor was thrusting into his mouth, leaving him very little air.

It was his one saving grace that the bigger feral had already worked himself into a lather during his time with Logan, and had already been spent once today. Gambit curled his tongue around him, let his teeth scrape him; things Victor enjoyed thoroughly. He felt Logan start to move inside him again and groaned, feeling his knees shake.

Victor was panting, muttering filth to him that would have made anyone blush, getting all too close to edge. Gambit pulled back, just slightly, despite his instance and gazed up at him, eyes dark and hooded. Creed got one look at him and bellowed, yanking Remy’s hair hard and holding him in place as he spasmed.

Gambit swallowed hurriedly, wincing at the awful taste. It was almost over. Creed dropped back against the arm of the couch, face flushed and eyes closed for a few moments as he caught his breath. Remy gulped down air hurriedly before Logan put a hand to his abdomen and lifted him backwards until he was sitting in his lap.

He moaned, feeling the man push deeper inside him and waited to be finished off, but his lover instead cradled his head and nuzzled him; “You alright, darlin’?” he panted, hips still aching to move, pushing forward shallowly.

Remy nodded tiredly and pulled Logan’s hand over his chest, pressing it against his heart, “You’re here, I’m fine.” He mumbled, kissing Logan’s cheek instead of his lips, hating that he could still taste Creed.

Logan’s pace was slower, more careful, but no less needy. Their coupling was much more tender this time, the man beneath him slowly finding his way back up to the surface of reality, hazily aware that Remy had something up his sleeve.

But Gambit was riding him, slowly, somewhat clumsily in fact in his growing exhaustion, bringing him back to that primal state of need and desire. Logan eased him, slowed him, putting a supportive hand under his thigh to help lift him, and steadied his hurried movements to slower, deeper ones, that allowed Remy to breathe and appreciate the moment.

“Rems…I love you…” Wolverine moaned, reaching his second orgasm, and burrowing his face against Lebeau’s neck. Remy kissed him and felt his own climax come, swift and flitting, before they finally relaxed.

Victor was no longer watching. The larger man had passed out right where he was, smelling like sweat and whiskey. Logan eased Remy off him, sinking heavily into the couch as well, overwhelming tired and even more confused.

Gambit laid beside him, limp and gasping for air, baring far too many marks on his pale skin. Logan put an arm around him and drew him in close. “Can you move?” he mumbled.

Remy shook his head feebly. “Legs feel like puddin’, cher…” he replied.

Logan nodded and lifted himself with a grunt, picking Remy up and carrying him towards the bedroom, easing the battered man down in the sheets. He sat down beside the man, carefully looking over all the little wounds and abrasions and bruises that marred him, crinkling his nose at the way the kid reeked of both of them, the mask of it so heavy it seemed to block Remy’s natural scent altogether.

But at least the haze of the Charm was finally lifting, leaving Wolverine with a clearer head. Unfortunately, clarity was rather unpleasant at the moment. “Help me understand, Cajun,” he began, voice rough and raw. “what the hell was that little show you just put on?”

Remy closed his eyes tiredly and sighed; “Weren’t no act, cher. Only doin’ what I know best, what I’ve been doin’ for de past few years before you came stumblin’ into my life.” He answered.

“When were you gonna get around ta tellin’ me?”

Remy laughed dryly and pushed himself up on shakin’ arms. “Oh, I see. You upset about de details, dat it? Dat I not as innocent as you always assumed?” he grunted. “Well, I sorry ‘bout dat, cher. But excuse me if I don’t feel like nursin’ your ego just now.” He gathered the sheets around him, searching the dark room for signs of his clothing.

“This ain’t about ego; it’s about facts. You never told me you were part of the Thieves Guild. You never told me about Creed.”

Remy looked away, still trying to gather himself, and found his dry clothes thrown at the foot of the bed, which he painfully eased himself into.

But Logan was still looking hard at him, angry that he allowed Creed anywhere near Remy in the first place and feeling bitter confusion over the fact that Gambit had manipulated him with his Charm, “You didn’t have ta do that. You didn’t have to let him…”

Gambit rolled his eyes, “Creed is a simple creature with very basic desires; I know him better den you.” He limped about, searching for shoes to wear and found a beat up pair of hiking boots beneath the bed, which he pulled on with some effort.

“Seems you both know each other better than me.” Logan grumbled. He looked piteously at Remy’s bruised body, wanting to reach out and hold him and make it all go away. “Is this really who you are?”

Gambit took a deep, shaking breath and turned to him, eyes wet and angry. “Yes. I am everything Creed said; I was a thief, and a conman, and whore for a long time. And I never told ya about de Theives Guild because it didn’t matter, and I never told ya about Creed because it tears me up, every day, just t’inking about it! And who de hell are you, to judge me!? What I did, I did to survive. You, if any of dis shit he’s feeding you is real, were a mercenary. What is dat besides a murderer for hire?”

Logan scowled, feeling wounded by his lover’s hostility, even though it was well deserved. “You can’t play victim when you use your Charm on people, LeBeau.” Even before the words had fully left his mouth, he knew he had crossed a line.

Remy struck him hard, actually knocking him off the bed with the force of the blow. His claws came out reflexively and he glared up at the man, who stood over him, face a mask of rage and angry tears. “You selfish bastard! You t’ink I wanted dat?! I had to put him down, and fightin’ weren’t an option! At least dis way I walk away wit most of my parts in tact and he doesn’t kill us both!”

Logan knew he deserved that blow; he deserved worse. But he was so tired of being kept in the dark, of having everyone around him lie to him. That hurt was too close to the surface for him to think clearly. “Get out of here.” He muttered, picking himself up. “Go back to Xavier’s, or Louisiana…just go.

Remy hesitated, shaken by his words and even more at the idea of leaving Logan at Victor’s mercy. “Not wit’out you. You can’t stay here wit him, you don’t know what he is!”

“Seems like the three of us have an awful lot in common then.” He retorted.

Remy turned away, face crumpling, unable to hold back the sob that was working up his throat. “Logan, I love you. Never told ya dose t’ings cause I thought you’d look at me…dey way you look at me now. You made me want to be a better person, cher. I left all dat behind me, for you.

“Yeah well…I’m not exactly a good man either, am I? Maybe this gamble didn’t work out the way you thought.” Logan replied, turning away. His loathing was directed inward, to his own terrible actions, his own horrible judgement. But Remy read it very differently.

Logan peered through the crack in the bedroom door, eyeing Creed’s slumped figure on the couch. He’d seen first-hand what Creed’s true nature was; his brutality, his lack of remorse. No matter what he said about Sinister’s manipulation of Remy, it didn’t justify what Victor had done to him. Logan grit his teeth and turned back to LeBeau, ready to put everything else aside for the moment and get back on neutral ground…only to find that the nimble thief had gone out the window.

“Remy…!”

He heard the rumble of the truck as it roared to life and heard the tires squeal over the dirt and snow before turning down the dirt road beyond. Logan started to follow, but stopped himself. Remy had every right to run from him. What the hell had he done?

He glanced at his haggard expression in the mirror above the old wardrobe and howled, not recognizing the man looking back at him. With a roar of rage and despair, Logan threw his fist forward, claws extended, shattering the glass and quickly turning the wooden frame of the bureau to saw dust and tooth picks.

He raged on, hating himself for what he had done, hating Creed for what he had awakened inside him, hating that he ever believed he could be good for anyone. Jean was right to be afraid of him, to turn him away. Hank and Storm, they were better off without him, he'd have done same to them as he had done to Remy in the end. He was nothing more than a wild animal, too full of wrath to ever be accepted in this world.

He tore at himself bitterly, until he was ragged and bleeding, finally falling to his knees, having stabbed and slashed himself enough times to take the wind out of him, even though his healing factor was hard at work repairing the damage. He bent in a miserable ball in the middle of the remains of the ruined room.

As he started to come down, his eyes drifted towards the debris that surrounded him. One of the drawers he had broken had apparently contained an old ledger and several antique documents. Absently Logan reached for the leather bound book, flipping through the ruined pages with remorseful curiosity.

At the very front of the book, he noticed a hand-inked family tree. The name inscribed on the trunk read Howlett.

Logan gazed along the branches, finding one with his own name etched upon it. He touched it gently, looking at the names of his parents above it. He began to paw through the yellowed pages, blinking when one came fluttering out, landing in his lap. It had been folded and creased many times, and was very fragile.

He gingerly opened it, finding that it was a very old document, inside was an antiqued photograph of two young boys. Logan recognized neither at first, but the longer he stared the more he began to recognize their eyes.

It was himself, and Victor.

Logan blinked in confusion, for they were much younger than Victor had suggested. Logan turned it over, seeing faded scrawled ink.

James Howlett, age six. Victor, age nine.

Logan turned it over again, studying the children. He had been a sickly child, thin and pale with sunken eyes. But Victor looked entirely different; he was thin, but also thick with muscle on his arms and shoulders, and his face and hair were much dirtier than his. Their clothes were very different as well. Logan was dressed in much finer things, while Victor was wearing something that looked like field-hand’s clothing. He had no shoes.

His eyes wandered from the strange picture then to document it had been wrapped in. Time had faded and blurred it’s writing, but he could just make it out. It was a birth certificate for a male child, called Victor.

The mother was listed as Rebeca…

Logan squinted at the aged print, trying to make out the last name. It started with an “How” but the rest was smudged. But the name Rebeca sounded familiar.

Logan reached for the rest of the ledger, flipping back to the front page where the drawing of the family tree was made. He scanned the names, and quickly found himself staring at very similar scrawling cursive, and the name Rebeca, just above his own.

Rebeca Howlett.

Logan stared, not understanding. The print was the same as that on the back of the photograph. They had been written by the same people. And the yellowed, creased certificate, so carefully concealed between the dusty pages, must have been hidden there by the same hand.

“Oh God…oh…GOD…”

He didn’t hear Victor approaching him until it was too late. He turned, mind still reeling, only to be struck brutally in the face with a shovel handle. Logan went down in a heap, Creed standing over him, sighing tiredly.

“Dammit, runt, ya always gotta make things complicated, don’t ya?”

***

Chapter Text

 

***

 

The truck was clearly not made for rugged terrain, and Gambit had to struggle to keep it from sliding everywhere he went. Once he finally cleared the woods and found the highway again, he had very little idea what direction he was headed.

He couldn’t return to Westchester; Creed would expect him to head there. Remy didn’t want to bring this fight to the X-Men; it wasn’t their responsibility. He needed to contact Ro as soon as he found a phone; Logan might need backup once Victor realized that Gambit had gotten away. And he just needed to hear a friendly voice…

He sped down the road, the silence in the cab of the truck almost unnerving as it allowed his thoughts to be become much too loud. About seven miles down the road, he saw a sign for a gas station. Remy pulled off at the exit, driving down the little ramp to a rather small cluster of convenience shops including a truck stop, a tiny generic foodmart, fast food place and gas station.

LeBeau pulled into the emptiest parking lot, which belonged to the truck stop and stumbled out into the parking lot. Stepping inside the dingy yellow diner, he limped towards the counter, immediately catching the attention of the waitress, who was refilling the coffee pots.

“’Scuse me,” he mumbled, “could I use your phone?”

“Sure, sweetheart. You uh…you alright there?”

Remy gave her a faint nod and moved off towards the end of the counter, where an ancient payphone stood covered with graffiti. He cursed when he realized he didn’t have any change; more so when he saw that the phone itself had an out of order sign on it.

“Need a ride?”

Remy startled at the question, turned to an even more startling presence in the booth next to him.

His name was Wade Wilson, but everyone knew him better as “Deadpool”; the merc with a mouth. He sat there plainly as can be, wearing civilian clothing which consisted of a grey hoodie, a black varsity jacket, jeans and high top sneakers. His head was covered with a slightly oversized baseball cap, which helped cover his face.

He looked up then at Remy, grinning slyly, which of course only succeeded in exaggerating the physical malformations of his skin caused by his experimental mutation. Remy would have cringed were he not so dumb struck by the sheer oddity of it. “Long time no see, Gambit! What brings ya up to this neck of the woods? Little cold for a hot-blooded swamp snake like yourself.”

“It’s a long story,” Remy mumbled, still trying to shake the absurdity of this chance meeting. “Not used ta seein’ ya without your suit. You often travel like dis? Must give de locals a fright. No offense.”

Wade grinned and stroked his chin, “Yeah, I guess can be overwhelming. But I gotta let my pores breathe ya know? And you ain’t exactly in uniform yourself,” he looked at Remy a little closer. “Matter of fact, you look like you’ve been doin’ the ‘walk of shame’ for about fifty miles or so.”

Remy tried to pull his rumpled clothing a little tighter around him, realizing he still bore so many marks from his ordeal. Wade gave him a look of concern then, “Hey, are you in trouble, buddy?”

“Non,” Remy muttered, starting to walk away. “Got to go, good to see you, I suppose…”

Wade hurriedly lifted himself from his booth, following after him. “Hey, hey, what’s the rush? You got some place to be?”

“Leave me alone, Wilson, I don’t need your kind of help…” he stumbled through the door of the truck stop again, wincing as the cold air slapped against his skin and made for his truck. But Wade was close on his heels.

“Aw come on, bro, don’t be like that! You aren’t still mad about that one time are you?”

“You mean when you broke into my apartment and tried to kill me?”

“It wasn’t personal, gawd! Besides, we had a few laughs, didn’t we? And all that cash you gave me paid for some really sweet gear. And an X-Box. The X-box was my favorite.”

Gambit tried to pull the keys from his jacket pocket, only to have his shaking hands fumble them and drop them into the dark snow filled parking lot. He cursed and tried to spot them, but his head was pounding and he couldn’t stop shivering and everything was getting blurry.

“Look man, I’m just gonna come out and say it; ya look like shit. Why don’t ya let me drive ya somewhere or—“

Wade made the mistake everyone makes. He reached for LeBeau, putting his hand on his upper arm in an attempt to halt his frantic search. Remy whirled and punched him in the mouth.

“DO NOT--!”

The rest didn’t come. Wade blurred into a swirling blot of color against an otherwise black void. Remy went forward, eyes rolling, and slumped into Wade’s arms. Wilson stood there for a moment in shock, staring at the now unconscious man and blinking dumbly. He glanced up then to see himself being watched from the window of the dinner and realized he was about to have quite the mess on his hands.

“God dammit. This looks bad. And I just ordered pancakes.”

He lifted LeBeau and waved to the women watching him from the window. “Hey, it’s all cool! My friend here had a bit of a rough night! I’m gonna take him home now, get him cleaned up. You ladies stay classy, alright?”

 

**

 

                He opened his eyes, startled and disoriented. Had he been out for a minute? An hour? A day? His whole body felt heavy and sore, moving it felt nearly impossible. As his vision started to refocus he realized he was in bed in an unfamiliar room.

                His stomach gave a familiar clench, but even his flight reflex was sluggish. He turned his head, hearing the rustle of bedding, and turned to find he was alone. That was some relief. The other half of the bed looked undisturbed as well.

                He heard the TV blaring in another room, and someone singing loudly and off key to some annoying pop song. Remy pushed himself up, examining his battered body. Someone had changed him out of his dirty clothes. Instead he was wearing lounge pants that inexplicably had yellow ducks all over them, and an “I heart Hawkeye” tank top.

                He almost laughed. He eased himself out of bed, feeling everything ache and throb as result and edged his way to the bedroom door, peeking out. He smelled coffee and something spicy like Mexican. And there was Deadpool.

                Wade was in a pair of lounge pants as well, shirtless, but wearing his mask, working heatedly over a little cooking range and singing along to Katy Perry while making what looked like the world’s most excessive omelet.

                Remy said nothing at first, wondering if he was dreaming or perhaps delirious. Wade turned in his direction then, hot skillet in hand, eggs sliding everywhere and slopped the pepper and cheese laden mess onto a large paper plate.

                “Moooooring loveerrr!” he crooned. “How’s the hang over?”

                Gambit winced at the volume of his voice and managed a small smile; “Uh…better, I guess.” He glanced around at the sparse apartment, laden with kung-fu posters, magazine articles featuring Deadpool himself and other super heroes, and a disarray of weaponry, laundry, take-out boxes. Remy made his way into the living room, peering out the window, which was slightly obscured by a fire escape ladder. It didn’t take Remy long to realize they were deep in the city somewhere.

                “Ever been ta Jersey?” Wade asked from behind him.

                Gambit nodded faintly, realizing he must have been out longer than he realized. “What day is it?”

                “Sunday. All day.”

                That was something, he thought, he hadn’t lost days, just hours. Wade was suddenly behind him, holding a large glass of orange juice. “Drink up. Lots of vitamins! I hope you like pulp, cause I hate it, and I have a whole fucking carton of it.”

                “Merci,” the Cajun muttered, gulping it down with surprising thirst. “Desole, but uh…did I hit you? Was dat a t’ing? Memory’s kinda hazy.”

                “Yeah, you socked me good, cracked a couple teeth. All good now of course,” he grinned to express his point better. “Everything grows back!”

                Remy couldn’t hide his grimace this time. “Sorry ‘bout dat.”

                “Pppssst,” Wade spat, sticking out his tongue waving the apology off. “Please.”

                He returned to the kitchen counter and brought back a plate with half of the ridiculously huge omelet and a fork for LeBeau, ushering him into the futon. “Eat some of this would ya?”

                Remy stared at the food, as if confused. “Um…do you need ketchup or something?” Wade asked. The auburn haired man shook himself from his shook, setting the plate of food aside. “Why’d you bring me here?”

                “Well, I thought about droppin’ ya at County Hospital, but that seemed like a dick move. I mean, friends don’t leave friends in the ER when they look like a victim off of Law and Order SVU, ya know?”

                The mutant’s eyes fell and he was all too aware of the bruises standing out on his exposed skin. Wade blinked, as if realizing his joke had hit a little close to home.

                “Aw, shit. Shiit man, I was just joking. But seriously…you look pretty rough. What happened to you?”

                “Victor Creed happened,” Remy muttered darkly.

                Wade raised an eyebrow. “No kidding? Sabertooth’s still kicking around huh? Man, that bastard is nothing but bad news. And fleas. Probably. I mean between the hair and the shaggy coat, he looks mangy doesn’t he?”

                LeBeau wasn’t laughing. He looked miserable. Wade moved over beside him on the battered futon. “Wanna talk about it?”

                Remy glared at him out of the corner of his eye. “What do you t’ink?”

                Deadpool nodded; “Fair enough. I saw the state your ass and thighs were in. I kinda hoped it was just you and Wolverine going rough--”

                Remy raised his hand to slap him, but Wade caught his wrist. “Hey-hey! My apartment, no slappy!”

                The smaller man yanked away from him; “Don’ talk to me about Wolverine…” He muttered.

                Wade blinked. “Uh oh. Sounds like broken hearts at the X-Mansion! Nooo, it can’t be! You two were so fucking hot together!” He stood up and pointed to a newspaper clipping that showed Gambit and Wolverine in action together, fighting some random criminal. “You two are my frickin’ OTP! You can’t call it quits, you just can’t! I still haven’t recovered from Brad and Jen, and do you know how fuckin’ long ago that was?! Don’t do this to me, man!”

                Remy made a pained, angry face and let his face sink into his hand. Wade quickly realized something worse was going on; “Wait…wait, Logan didn’t…?”

                Gambit bit his lip and shook his head. “Non…non, I don’t…I don’t t’ink—“

                “Wait, what do you mean you don’t ‘t’ink’ you mean you don’t know if your boyfriend—SHIT man, how messed up were you? I thought you said Creed did this—“

                “He did! Logan was with him. Creed’s got him believing some bullshit story about them sharing a past, and now Logan is…becoming someone I don’t know…”

                Wade was suddenly up, waving his hands; “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold the choo-choo a moment. Are you telling me Creed’s got Wolverine following him around? Like…listening to him, not just, ya know, mauling each other?”

                “Yes…?”

                Wade slapped his palm to his forehead and groaned loudly. “Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiit! Well there’s your fuckin’ problem right there! Fuck, fuck, fuckety-fuck! I thought Logan knew better…then again, I guess the whole amnesia thing kinda comes into play...probably shoulda warned him in case Victor ever tried this shit again. Oopsie.”

                Remy stared at him, more vexed and confused than before. “Wait, wait, wait…you tellin’ me you knew somet’ing about dis? And you never say a word?!”

                Wade shrugged. “Slipped my mind, I guess. I mean, it ain’t like I’m Wolverine’s babysitter or his fuckin’ Jiminy Cricket. If he wants to screw his brother—“

                Remy had him by the arms then, shaking him; “His what?!”

                “Dude! They’re related. Brother-from-another-mother or some shit like that. When I met ‘im back in ‘Nam, Creed was totally in his biz, had Logan all kinds of fucked up and dependent on him. Wolverine didn’t make a move unless Creed said so. It was sick, it was awful. Poor bastard hated it, but Creed had been doing it to him for so long…like…seriously, it’s gross.”

                Gambit’s face was white. He turned, falling away from Wade and immediately expelled the orange juice he’d just drank all over the floor.

                “Yep. Couldn’ta said it better myself! Ew…pulp.”

                “How…how?!” Remy spat, coughing and wiping his mouth on his wrist, trying to catch his breath. Deadpool offered him a towel and sighed.

                “Well, my guess is Logan doesn’t remember and Victor is using that to his advantage. Like I told ya, when I first met the two of them, things were bad. According to their files, they’ve been wandering around since before the Civil War, just the two of them;’ mutants out of time’ if you will.”

                “Get to de point!”

                “Yeesh, alright! No appreciates the details anymore. Anyway, apparently Creed had our claw wielding compatriot so fucked up mentally and emotionally after all that time in isolation that Logan just wasn’t able to break free of him. But I set him straight. Er, well…”

                “You?”

                “Yeah, me, pretty boy. You know I do have some moral standards to uphold. It’s not all hits-for-hire and ninja battles!”

                Remy looked exasperated, but Wade kept on without noticing. “I managed to get Logan alone and I sat him down for a little merc’ heart-to-heart. I said to him; ‘Yo, you gotta knock this incest shit off, man. It’s beneath you. And it’s creeping the rest of us out.’ It must have got through to him, cause the next day the two of them had a huge falling out and Logan stormed off…never looked back.” He smiled at Remy.

                “And now he’s got you! But don’t worry, you weren’t the rebound relationship. Wolverine fucked a loooooot of people once he got free of Victor. Even got married once, in Japan. But that ended badly. Then there was that whole Jean Grey mess.”

                Gambit tried to keep his head from exploding. “Logan…Logan needs help. He has no idea; no idea!”

                “Sounds like it. Man, just when you think Creed can’t get lower…he gets a shovel and digs a deeper hole.”

                He grabbed a role of paper towels and began to mop of LeBeau’s mess, while the mutant paced the apartment frantically, hands in his hair, cursing and muttering to himself in a litany of indecipherable Cajun and French.

                “Dude, chill.” Wade said then, disposing of the soiled towels before reaching out and dragging Remy against him in an awkward hug from behind. “You need to get your fine little Cajun Caboose back in the sack. And I don’t mean that sexually. Just rest, man, you look like ya been through hell and if Creed and Wolverine tag teamed you then…shit, even I would be fucked up after something like that.”

                He expected Gambit to blow him to pieces or to rearrange his face. Instead the former thief just nodded dully. Wade lead him towards the bathroom, “Take a shower, wash it off. You’ll feel better, trust me. I’ve got looofas!”

                Remy tried to smile, but it wasn’t in him. Wade reached around him and hurriedly removed his razors from his drawer, making Gambit raise any eyebrow. “Just precautionary,” Wilson replied. “Blood stains are hard to get out, and I should know. And besides your scruff is magnificent; don’t touch it. Okay?”

                He turned and left Remy alone. Gambit reeled, trying to take in everything Wade had thrown at him. The muffled sense of rage that had filled him the night before, the sense of loss and betrayal were changing now. Logan was as much a victim of Creed’s sick manipulations as he was, if not more so. No wonder he had been so desperate to separate Logan from the others, so eager to cause a rift between them, feeding him lies and half-truths to make Logan question his loyalties.

                It wasn’t an excuse exactly, and the wound Wolverine had left on him his heart would linger, he was certain. But Remy had put that aside for now; Logan needed his help. He looked around at the small bathroom and noticed a cellphone lying on the counter, where it was charging. He assumed it was Deadpool’s…though he was confused by the fact that his case was a bright glittery pink Hello Kitty one.

                He picked it up and found it unlocked. He almost laughed that the man’s background was a picture of Spiderman. But, back to the task at hand. He dialed the number and waited…finally, an answer.

                “Hello? How did you get this num--”

                “Ro, it’s me--”

                “Remy! Thank the Goddess! Where are you, are you alright?!”

               

                **

                “--Where are you? Are you alright?!”

                Until that moment, Ororo Munore hadn’t realized how tight her chest was, or that her heart could feel so heavy and then suddenly so light. It was almost dizzying, this sudden rush of hope and relief after hours of not knowing and endless worrying.

                She had been going mad with in fact; the only thing keeping her on the ground was Scott, who stood beside her now in the council room, expression questioning and almost as relieved as hers was.

                “Storm, put him on speaker,” he urged, and she reluctantly did so, holding the phone away from her. “Remy, can you hear me? Where are you, love?”

                “Jersey, somewhere, I t’ink.”

                The other two X-Men blinked in surprise; “How did you get there? Is Wolverine with you? Are you safe?”

                “It’s…a bit of a mess, mon ami. I am safe, I t’ink. I’m wit…a friend. But Logan is not wit me. He’s still in trouble.”

                “Gambit, tell us what happened in the woods. Why was Sabertooth there, why did Logan run with him, do you remember—“

                “Scott,” Ro cut in quickly, “please, let me handle this.”

                “Sabertooth’s manipulating Logan. You got to get him away from him, Creed is messing with his mind and…worse.”

                “Do you know where they are now?”

                “Left dem in woods, not dat far from where you chase us if I guess right, but…can’t remember all de details.”

                “How’d you get away? Does Logan know where you are?”

                There was a brief but very pregnant pause before LeBeau answered; “Non…he don’t know where I am.”

                Storm took the phone off speaker and turned away, much to Scott’s annoyance. “Remy, please…I need to know more. Why did you escape and Logan didn’t?”

                “I used my Charm on dem, cherie. I did de only thing I could to keep us both safe…but he got angry. Told me ta leave. He’s not himself, Creed has him so mixed up in lies about deir past. Oh Ro, it’s beyond horrible, we have ta help him.”

                “We will, love, I promise. Stay where you are, Scott is getting coordinates as we speak. We will come to collect you, and then we will get Logan.”

                “Don’ worry about me, cherie. Go to him. He need you.”

                She took a moment to understand the weight of those words, and then nodded; “Alright. We’ll be with you soon. Stay safe beloved.”

                “You too, mon cherie.”

                Storm reluctantly hung up the phone, biting her lip before looking up at her partner, eyes bright and determined; “I’m going to need help with this.”

                The brunette nodded; “You go find Logan. I’ll head to Jersey and bring Gambit back here.”

                Ro nodded, but paused. “Scott, don’t go alone. I fear this could go badly for either of us, we do not know all the variables involved.”

                At that moment Bobby and Hank entered the room, both looking concerned. “Any news?” Bobby asked. “I feel sorta responsible, I mean, for letting Gambit run off the way I did. I didn’t realize what kind of trouble he could get into.”

                Storm smiled at him. “If you want to make up for it, Bobby, I have the perfect opportunity.” She glanced back at Scott, who looked rather dubious about the suggestion, but nodded.

                “Right. Bobby, suit up, you’re coming with me to Jersey.”

                “Jersey? What the heck do we wanna go there for?” the blonde asked.

                “Apparently that’s where LeBeau is now.”

                “What about Logan?”

                Storm moved past them, folds her of cape billowing behind her as she did. “I think Storm has that well in hand.” Hank noted.

 

**

 

                He ached.

                Hungry, cold, tired. He was supposed to feel this way; his body’s natural mutant allowed him more stamina than most, more resilience. So his misery spoke of something much deeper. He looked around him at his comrades, his fellow soldiers.

                They were starving. They were freezing. They were exhausted. He felt his guts twist and sighed, looking down at his hands. They were still dirty and bloody from the battle just a few short hours ago. Beside him another figure sat, hunched and growling, ravenously devouring the remains of spoiled meat from the bone, while others looked on, somewhat sickened by the sight.

                “Knock that off,” he muttered, slapping at the other uniformed man’s arm. Victor looked up at him, eyes glinting, harder than usual and swallowed the last mouthful before throwing the bone into the fire. “You’re disgusting sometimes. Besides, you know we’re all hungry, why torture us?”

                “If they’re so damn hungry they can go hunt.” Victor replied.

                “Can’t afford to waste amo, or give away our position,” he snapped back at him. Creed sniffed indignantly and stood, dusting snow off the color of his union uniform. “Come on, runt.”

                He followed, obediently, instinctively, as if there had never been any other choice. The others looked after him, some sad, some suspicious. He kept his steps close behind Victor’s and turned his gaze from them.

                Creed lead them to a tent and ducked inside, holding the flap for him and closing off the exit. “We need to move,” Logan said without preamble, “tell the captain that there’s no point in holding this position if we all starve and freeze first. There’s a town about twenty miles West, if we—“

                “Forget about the Captain. You’re getting too chummy with him anyway.” Creed bristled. “We hold the line as long as it takes. Even if it’s just you and me.”

                He looked at him with tired exasperation. “Victor, they’re not like us.”

                “Exactly. The strong survive, the weak perish. You know that, Jimmy, how many times I gotta say it?”

                “They’re our soldiers, our friends! We’re not going to sit here stubbornly and let them die, just because you want another battle to fight.”

                “The fight’s all that matters.” Creed sat down on his cot, shrugging himself out of his coat. “Come ‘ere.”

                He hesitated, angry, but Creed gave him another stern look and he obeyed, dropping down beside him. The bigger man put his arms around him, drawing him in close. “Yer tense, Jimmy. Quit worryin’ about them. You’re right, this war is getting stale. Always better things on the horizon. How about you and I head West where it’s warm for awhile?”

                He pulled away, startled. “Are you talking about desertion?”

                “I’m talking about seeking out better opportunities, runt. This is their war. Ain’t got much to do with us.” He breathed close to his neck, sending a warm familiar shiver down his spine. It made him antsy, uncomfortable.

                “I don’t want to that. I don’t want to walk away.”

                Creed’s grip on his arm tightened and he winced. “You got something here worth stayin’ around for? Maybe the Captain has caught yer eye? Ya remember the last time that happened, don’t ya, Jimmy? Remember Rose?”

                He pulled away, but Creed yanked him back. “You can’t trust no one but me, runt. Ain’t ya learned that by now? These fuckers, they all betray you in the end, after they get what they want. But me? I ain’t never left ya behind. Now have I?”

                “No,” he answered quietly.

                “I could have, ya know. Plenty o’ times. Where would you have been with me to look after ya? You could barely get outta bed, barely walk. On yer own ye’re weak…together we’re strong.”

                James nodded slowly, looking nervously at the young man beside him. Victor had changed. He’d always been a rough boy, a hard boy. Life had made him that way. But since joining the war, something had begun to take hold of him. Battle had changed him, made him mean and vicious and blood thirsty. And jealous; terrible, fiercely, covetously jealous of the man next to him.

                “Ya know that, don’t ya, Jimmy?” He leaned in and kissed him, first on the cheek, then on the lips. He winced away from the contact, shoving the bigger man over. “Get off!”

                The blonde glared up at him; dangerous and furious. “What? Ya t’ink yer too good for me, that it?”

                “No! No, I never—“

                Victor stood, rushed him and clouted him hard across the face, slashing him with his claws. Blood blinded him for a moment, his bones throbbed, and he cried out in pain. He would have fallen, but Creed wrapped his arms around him and drew him back.

                “Dammit, James! Look what ya made me do!” He pushed him down on the cot, tugging him close and turning his face towards him as he pulled out a rag to clean away the blood. The wounds were already closing, pain subsiding, though the shock remained.

                “I’m sorry,” he found himself mumbling. “Didn’t mean ta make ya mad.”

                Victor sighed heavily, “I know, runt. I know.” He leaned in and kissed him again, a little softer this time. He winced but didn’t pull away. Victor braced the back of his head and pulled him closer, sighing against his skin and nuzzling him. “I love ya, Jimmy. Need ya to know that. To understand. No one out there is ever gonna understand you like I do. How could they?”

                He nodded. The other feral ran his hand down his chest, undoing the buttons of his uniform before moving down to his belt. He looked away as he felt the man’s rough hand push inside and touch him directly, earning a hiss of breath and quiet whimper of protest. He grabbed his wrist, but didn’t push him away, not wanting to further incur his wrath.

                “Please, Vic, don’t…”

                “Don’t be shy, Jimmy. You’re already gettin’ hard. Promise I’ll make ya feel good.” Creed nuzzled his neck, licking and kiss, nipping sharply at his warm tan skin.

                “This is wrong…” he whimpered.

                “Says who? Those pricks out there? What do ya care what they think?” his partner muttered.

                “We’re brothers, Victor.”

                “Just cause our bitch mother fucked around and birthed us don’t mean shit to me. That whore never treated me like any son of hers. And she stopped lovin you the moment she saw what you were.”

                He whimpered again as the man twisted him somewhat painfully, stroking harder and rougher, earning a soft gasp from him. “I love you, Jimmy. All we got is each other. Remember that; you owe me…

 

                He ached.

                His head throbbed, so did his neck. There was the taste of blood in his mouth, and it took several minutes for him will his eyes to open. “You…” he muttered thickly, sensing the other man before he saw him. “It was always you…”

                A low, dark chuckle answered him as Logan lifted his head from its fallen place on his chest. His arms were bound tightly behind his back by thick chains, which were roped around his chest as well, binding him to his slumped position on a chair.

                Victor was before him, watching him from the edge of the bed. “Bad dream, runt?”

                Logan strained against his bonds, but couldn’t break them. His hands were bound too tightly to allow his claws access. He bellowed and screamed, trying to get at Creed, but couldn’t budge. He realized that Creed had anchored the chains to the floor as well.

                “Wasn’t sure you’d ever figure it out. Not that it matters,” the bigger feral growled. “Bit of a shame, though. You were such an easy target this time, eager to please, easy to coerce. I’m sure LeBeau would agree with me.”

                Logan’s heart sunk and he glanced around hurriedly, as if trying to locate the man in question. Creed stood and approached him. “Don’t bother. Your little bird flew the coop.” He slashed at Wolverine across the face, putting out his eye and tearing him down to the bone. Logan screamed, gritting his teeth in agony, waiting for his healing to correct the damage.

                Creed licked the blood from his fingers; “Ain’t too pleased with ya about that; but I suppose there wasn’t much more life ‘im anyway after our little party.”

                “Fuck you!” Logan roared, spraying blood everywhere; “What you did to him, everything he said, it was true, wasn’t it!?”

                “Of course it was,” Creed retorted, voice feigning on disgust at Wolverine’s trusting naivety. “Sinister paid me well to keep your little card toting boyfriend on a tight leash. He let me do whatever the fuck I wanted to him, so long as I didn’t damage him in any permanent way and he got to watch. And I had my fun alright. But LeBeau was going to screw everything up. He was going to warn those freaks in the tunnels about us. I had a lot of money riding on that job. So he had go.”

                Logan lifted the chair off the floor, but still couldn’t get free of the heavy chains that anchored him to the ground. He dropped to his knees, losing balance, ending up pinned there. “I’ll kill you…I’ll kill you! You deranged bastard! I’m gonna carve yer heart out for what you’ve done!”

                “Promises, promises, Jimmy,” Creed laughed, dragging him forward. “We’re gonna hit the road, runt. Got safe houses all over this country. You and me, just like the old days.”

                “Not gonna happen, Creed.”

                Creed snarled and slashed him across the gut, sending more warm rivers of blood dribbling to the floor. “I can do this all day, ya know? Where the fuck do you think you would go otherwise? Your little school won’t have ya now, not after what ya done. And LeBeau? If he ain’t froze to death, I can lay odds he won’t want to see yer mug again. Not after you handed him to me on a silver platter.”

                Logan managed to kick him, hard enough to break his knee cap. Victor howled and fell over, hissing as he forced the protruding bone back into place and waited for his healing factor to the rest. “You’re MINE, Wolverine! You were always MINE!”

                Logan shouted, though Victor didn’t realize why until too late. A set of claws clumsily swung forward and caught him in the throat. Wolverine fell aside, covered in blood. He’d broken his own hand trying to get it free. He slashed at his chains, finally breaking them and made to fall on Sabertooth and finish it. But he was too slow, the chains took too long.

                Creed was up, roaring like a lion, at his throat, talons shredding down his chest and back, tearing flesh and muscle away.

                “YOU CAN’T KILL ME!” the blonde feral roared, taking stab after stab from Logan’s claws, even through the heart. “IT’S GONNA BE YOU AND ME RUNT, GOING AT IT JUST LIKE THIS, UNTIL THE WORLD BURNS AND TIME FINALLY STOPS!”

                He grabbed Logan by the arm, snapped it and hurled him forward, sending him crashing into a huge pine, which cracked under the force and toppled. Wolverine lay below it, stunned.

                “You ain’t any better than me, Jimmy. Always thought you were. You got love, you got the glory, you got everything in yer life handed to ya! And ya don’t deserve ANY of it! Where would you be if it wasn’t for me!?

                “Better off, I assure you.”

                Victor turned, having suddenly realized the wind was colder, and the sky was black and the air was close and suffocating. A new presence had appeared in the clearing by the cabin. A woman, ascending from the sky, dressed in black and white and gold, making her way towards him. Lightning sizzled from her finger tips and steam rose around her in a cloud as the snow below her feet melted.

                “Sabertooth,” she called, “you have brought wrath and ruin to everything you touch. Now the same will be visited upon your foul head, if you don’t back away from him. Right now.”

                Creed gave her a bloody smile full of fanged teeth. “Well hello there, princess. Come to save yer mutt? I wouldn’t waste yer time—“

                She flew at him, fists flying, She struck him in the face; once, twice, then caught him in the side of the head with elbow. Creed fell back, but recovered quickly, slashing at her managing to catch her sleeve. But Storm was far too fast, and far too enraged. “You’re an abomination Sabertooth!” She struck him with a gust of wind that lifted him from the ground nearly fifty feet before allowing him to drop. He crashed into the Earth several yards away, leaving a sizable crater.

                Storm took the momentary lull to help Wolverine, who was trying to claw his way out from under the tree. She pulled him free of it and clutched him close, frightened by the amount of blood he was soaked in; “Logan--!”

                “I didn’t know, Ro! I didn’t know—“ He muttered, seemingly somewhat in shock.

                Creed was up again much too soon. He lept over the fallen tree and tackled Ro, the two of them rolling and flipping across the ground. She shouted in pain when he slashed her across the thigh, then shoved her fist into the pit between his ribs and gave him a fierce jolt of electricity which sent him howling, falling away, charred and smoking.

                Logan was up and beside her, crouching there in the snow. “Darlin, you alright?” he asked hurriedly, looking at the blood gushing from her leg. He tore away a bit of his pant leg and hurriedly made a tourniquet for it. “I’m sorry for this…It’s all my fault…Remy…we’ve got to find—“

                “Remy’s safe, Scott’s going to get him.” Ro said as he helped her to stand. Logan looked relieved, but also confused. “How…?”

                “Our thief is very resourceful.” She replied, stroking his hair. He bowed his head in shame, and she saw dampness in the corner of his eyes.

                “Ro…what I done…I let this sick freak fool me, I let him make me question who I was, whom I love…just leave me here, darlin’. Go get Remy, make sure he’s—“

                She grabbed him and kissed him hard, crushing him against her. Logan felt tears run down her cheeks as she did and he and held her back with all his remaining strength, heart feeling so full he could barely breathe.

                She pulled away a moment later, his face between her palms, bowing her head to his. “We leave this place together, my love, or not at all. It’s time you came home, Logan. Where you belong.”

 

**          

Chapter Text

 

**          

               

                A short time later, Scott Summers found himself pulling up to the curb of a tall brownstone, glancing up at the numerous windows that lined the front of its façade. “This is the place I guess,” he noted, glancing down at the coordinates they had collected from Remy’s phone signal.

                In the passenger seat next to him, the younger blonde shifted tensely. “Looks normal enough; any idea of what to expect?”

                “Not a clue,” Scott answered, climbing out of the car. He was dressed in street clothes, but was far from unprepared for a fight. “Stay on your toes, Bobby.”

                “Think it’s a trap?” the smaller man asked. He kept right at Scott’s elbow, trying not to look conspicuous as he glanced across the bustling sidewalk. No one seemed to take much notice of them, thankfully.

                Scott tested the knob and found to his surprise it opened. “Not a secured building. That’s something,” he muttered.

                “Who’s this friend Remy’s with? Did he say?”

                “No,” Scott said tensely. “Which is why we need to be extra careful. Hush.”

                Bobby shut his mouth quickly, flushing faintly. Scott was the only person who seemed to make him feel foolish. Unfortunately, he was also the one person Bobby was always trying to impress.

                They avoided the elevator and took the stairs, climbing three, then four flights of stairs. There didn’t seem to be many tenants in the building and very little sign of any comings and goings from the residents except for the faint blare of a TV being played too loud, or a couple arguing, or a dog whining.

                The floor they had emptied onto had only four doors, and neither man was sure which one contained LeBeau. Scott signaled quietly to his partner, who quickly trotted forward, listening at the first door. No sound.

                “You know, Jean might have been useful on this endeavor,” he muttered. “She could have just found Gambit telepathically.”

                Scott frowned, listening at his own door. “She’s needed at the school. Besides…I have some personal business I need to address with Remy.”

                Bobby raised an eyebrow. “Scott, you sure now’s the time--?” the younger mutant began. He knew that Scott wasn’t exactly the biggest fan of their new member and now didn’t seem like a good time for a lecture.

                The older man shushed him again and motioned him over and Bobby obeyed at once. “What do you hear?” he whispered.

                “A lot of movement,” Scott answered. The two listened closely, head’s bowed close together. Bobby found himself reflexively staring at the man in front of him, feeling a warm tingle in his gut at how close they were. He licked his lips nervously, feeling frost creep up his fingertips. This was torture, being this close to Scott and not being able to tell him…

                The door suddenly opened, making them both jump. A man in a mask looked down at them from the crack in the door. “Yo,” Deadpool sighed, looking between the two of them. “I see two dudes creeping around my door, and neither one of you even has the brains to have Chinese or Pizza with you. You are either really shitty bounty hunters or really desperate frat boys; which is it?”

                “Deadpool?” Bobby blinked.

                The man in the red and black mask blinked at him and tilted his head, “Oh, hey Bobby, that you? Didn’t recognize ya.”

                Scott was suddenly pushing forward, forcing his way inside the apartment. “Remy? Remy, can you hear me? Are you alright? Remy!”

                “Hey!” Wade barked, turning after him, forgetting about Bobby for the moment and allowing the smaller man to slip under his arm into the apartment as well.

                “Sorry,” Bobby said hurriedly. “We didn’t realize Remy was with you…how do you two even know each other?”

                “Long story,” Wade shrugged. “I was just starting up Mario Kart. Wanna play?”

               

 

                Scott hurried through the small apartment and found Remy in the bedroom, curled up on the bed, sleeping heavily. He didn’t even move with Scott approached him. The brunette looked his teammate over with growing concern, seeing how battered LeBeau was. Wilson must have done something for him, as the lacerations and cuts on his skin were bound and bandaged, but the bruises were still easily apparent.

                Remy didn’t stir at all until he felt Scott’s weight on the bed. His eyes flew open, red irises wide and dilated. He made a move to defend himself, but Scott blocked the punch and caught his arm, firmly but not forcefully. “Remy! It’s me--Scott!”

                LeBeau stilled, blinking in confusion, then slowly relaxed. “Scott? I wasn’t expecting…”

                “Right,” the brunette nodded, feeling slightly embarrassed. “I suppose you were expecting someone different. Storm went to find Wolverine; I didn’t want to keep you waiting.”

                Remy pulled himself up with a grunt and Summers looked him over nervously, “What happened to you?”

                The Cajun blinked slowly, as if in daze, resting his chin on his folded arms that were perched on his knees. “You know how your past can sometimes follow you around, mon ami? Mine’s like a boomrang. It keeps comin’ back around to crack me in de teeth. Dis time hit me harder den expected. Dat’s all.”

                But Scott wasn’t put off by his aloofness. “Remy…about what happened at the mansion…I’m so, sorry. Please accept my apology.”

                “It’s not’ing Scott, don’t worry—“

                “Don’t do that,” the other man cut in, surprising him. “Don’t act like what I did was okay. It wasn’t. And it shouldn’t matter if your Charm power influenced me or not…I should have controlled myself. That’s on me, Gambit, not you. You don’t deserve to be treated the way you are…and I’m sorry I contributed to it.”

                Remy was stunned to say the very least. “Thank you,” he replied. He tentatively reached out and touched Scott’s hand, making the other man smile in spite of himself. He gave Remy’s palm a little squeeze before hurriedly lifting himself up.

                “Come on, we should be heading back to Westchester. Is there anything you can tell us about where Logan is, anything Storm might need to know?”

                Gambit wasn’t sure how to answer him, still trying to make sense of the events that had transpired only hours ago. “Sabertooth is Logan’s half-brother.” Scott gave pause, clearly shocked, but Remy continued, unable to quite meet his gaze. “He coerced him in leaving the mansion; he lied to him about everyt’ing. Well…accept our time together wit Sinister.”

                He glared at the ground, feeling Scott’s growing shock and refusing to acknowledge it. “Creed and I were partners for a while under Sinister after he recaptured me. It was bad; all bad. When I came to your Institute dat day, when Ro found me…it was because of him. I had tried to stop him from committing mass murder and I failed. I couldn’t bare the shame, so I kept it from him; and all of you. I’m sorry.”

                He wasn’t sure what he expected Summer’s to do. Hit him, shout, fire him (do you actually get fired from the X-Men?) or something equally full of outrage. Instead, the man did something completely unexpected.

                He moved towards him and pulled him into an embrace. “You don’t have to run anymore.”

                LeBeau said nothing, letting the words sink in. Slowly he put his arms around the other man to return the embrace, letting his head drop against his shoulder for a moment.

                “Uh,” Bobby’s voice came from the doorway then, making them both look up. Scott hurriedly detached himself from Remy, looking slightly flushed. “Everything okay? Whoa…Gambit, you look—“

                “Like shit, I know.” Remy sighed, “Good to see you too, Bobby. I’m sorry about de coat and de shoes…and de bike. I’ll replace everyt’ing.”

                “Don’t even worry about it, man, we’re cool. Just glad you’re alive!” He gave Remy a fond little embrace himself, but LeBeau hissed when he squeezed too tightly.

                “Sorry!”

                “S’okay, Bobby,” he mumbled.

                “Aw, I got a whole gaggle of X-Men in my apartment and no party favors. Damn I am unprepared!” Deadpool sighed from the doorway then. “Buuut, I suppose we oughta cut the festivities short anyway and get you back upstate so you and Logan can start your epic make up and make out fest.”

                Gambit nodded, but seemed less than enthusiastic about the idea, which caused both Scott and Bobby to raise a brow in concern. “Wade, why don’t you come down to the car with me, make sure the coast is clear. Bobby, you alright to help Remy?”

                The blonde nodded dutifully as Cyclops ushered Wade to follow him, leaving them alone in the messy apartment. Remy turned away from Bobby at once and started digging through Wade’s heap of laundry that something that looked clean and might fit him better than pajama pants he was already wearing.

                “So, um,” Drake mumbled, burying his hands in his pockets and trying very hard not to stare at all the wounds on Gambit’s body as he spoke, “must have been some fight with you had with Sabertooth. Logan made sure you got away though, huh? Don’t worry about him, I’m sure he’ll be okay.”

                Remy said nothing, but the look on the man’s face was concerning, a mask of bitterness and anxiety. “Look, I’ve known Logan for a long time. Sometimes…he does things that make you think he hates ya. But it’s just his way….he doesn’t like feeling vulnerable around people.”

                “Bobby,” Remy muttered, finally finding a pair of jeans and pulling them on, not realizing Drake was still watching him. “I really don’t want to talk about Logan right now.”

                The blonde looked away hurriedly, confused and feeling embarrassed at his cluelessness. “I’m sorry, I’m just trying to help.” He turned away, thoughts racing, and decided to try to change the subject. “So um…looks like you and Scott buried the hatchet.”

                “Yes,” Remy said thoughtfully, voice sounding less tense now. “Apparently so.”

                “I’m glad, ya know. I mean, don’t get me wrong—Scott can be intense. But it’s only ‘cause he tries so hard, ya know? The School, the team…it matters so much to him. It’s his whole life. He means well, he really dose.”

                “I wouldn’t dream of arguing dat wit you,” Remy answered, having finally found some suitable clothes that covered him. He looked almost normal. “Why you tellin’ me dis, though, that’s de bigger question.”

                “I know Logan and he don’t see eye to eye. And I’m sure…after what happened…you probably thought he was some kind of creep. But I’ve known him a long, long time…and he’s anything but that! And I just, I just need you to believe--!”

                “Mon frere,” Remy said suddenly, gripping his arm and looking down at him closely. “calm down. I think I understand what it is you really mean. You love de man, oui?”

                Bobby blinked up at him, not realizing he’d become so emotional in the process. But his fingers were blue and misting with ice, and the sleeves of his jacket were frosted as well. “Shit, I’m sorry, Remy. I didn’t mean to get so worked up…you don’t need this right now.”

                But Gambit actually smiled at him and shook his head; “Non, mon ami. I t’ink dis is exactly what I needed right now. Somet’ing to focus on.” He put his arm around Bobby’s shoulders and sighed heavily. “So…what was it? De glasses? De haircut? His uniform is somewhat attractive.”

                Bobby laughed. “You should have seen original uniform!”

 

                They culminated on the curb outside a few moments later, Iceman staying close to LeBeau, helping him limp along. Scott was there at once to take Remy’s hand and help him slide into the back seat of the car while Deadpool watched the street, leaning casually against the car, playing with his phone, the only one of them in full costume and completely oblivious to it.

                “Any word from Ro?” Remy asked once he was settled. Scott slid into the driver’s seat and nodded; “Yeah, she’s got Logan. They’re on their way.”

                Remy nodded, looking both relieved and troubled at once. Scott licked his lips thoughtfully and looked at Gambit’s reflection in the rearview mirror, “Remy…do you need to talk? I’m here, you know. Whatever you need.”

                Gambit was more than a little surprised by the man’s sudden openness and acceptance, but he couldn’t bring himself to relive the details right now. He was also beginning to guess that Wade had hinted at what had happened, and Scott was the last person he wanted to discuss it with.

                Wade tapped on the hood, grabbing their attention then. “Street looks clear, but mind if I ride along? Supposed to meet Spidey in Manhattan tonight.”

                “Spidey? As in…Spiderman?” Bobby asked, sliding in beside Remy.

                “Yep! Got a hot date! Tickets to Broadway and everything.”

                Iceman was suddenly leaning over the back of his seat, eyes wide. “You’re dating Spiderman? Like…for real? For real for real?

                “That sounds vaguely existentialist, but yep! You betcha!”

                Iceman laughed; “Okay…wow. How does that even happen?”

                Wade folded his arms behind his head and kicked up his feet on the dashboard. “I wore him down, ice-cube. I wore him down.”

                Scott sighed heavily and pulled out into traffic, “Alright, focus up, people. Storm said that Creed was still on the loose; they had to leave him behind to get medical attention. So keep an eye out.”

                Gambit closed his eyes and let his head fall back against the seat, worrying now if Logan and Ororo were indeed alright and almost wishing he hadn’t left the cabin. He didn’t see the way that Scott kept glancing back at him in the mirror; but Bobby did.

                Remy sensed it faintly, the young man’s disappointment, the bright sting of jealousy and confusion. He opened his eyes and turned in Bobby’s direction, wondering where the feelings were coming from suddenly.

                “Bobby? What’s de matter?”

                “Ugh…why is traffic moving so damn sloooooowwwwwww…?!.” Wade moaned from the front seat.

                Drake glanced in Gambit’s direction, “Must be nice, knowing you’re going back. To both of them, no less. What’s that like? Having a boyfriend and a girlfriend at the same time?”

                “A lotta work!” Wade added quickly before turning to curse at another lane of stopped traffic. It seemed everywhere they went commuters were at a stand still.

                “It’s complicated,” Remy began. “but I don’t t’ink nows de best time to explain de dynamics of it.”

                “But I mean, you’re like, set now right? I mean, it’s not like you’re gonna keep collectin’ people? Like sister-wives?”

                Remy’s head throbbed. “Jesus, Bobby, not—“

                Outside they heard a scream, which drew their attention back to the road. In fact, more screams quickly followed as people all around them in the deadlocked traffic suddenly fled from their cars.

                “What the hell is going--?”

                There was a thumping sound then, like something heavy landing on something metallic, and it was getting closer.

                “Scott, put the car in reverse,” Wade said beside him, suddenly very serious.

                “What?”

                “Reverse, Scott, put it in reverse!”

                The thumping was getting closer and suddenly they could see—something—leaping over the cars ahead of them. It was a blur of muscle and fur and blonde hair.

                With a loud metallic crunch Sabertooth was suddenly on top of them, having smashed the hood of the car, punching his fist through the windshield. “GIVE. ME. LEBEAU!”

                “Fucking hell!” Scott hit his visor and blasted Creed backward as Deadpool grabbed the gearshift and straddled the console, shoving his foot down on the gas. The car lurched backwards, tires squealing and smoking and roared back down the street.

                “WADE! STOP!”

                “Sorry, Summers, I’m taking the wheel! I ain’t dealing with this shit today, nope nope NOPE.” Wade said, sitting in Scott’s lap and turning the wheel so that they car spun crazily in the middle of the intersection, and then sped off down the nearest side street.

                Bobby and Remy, both thrown painfully around the back of the car, turned to look out the back window, only to see Creed bounding after them on all fours, eyes hellish gold and teeth bared. “YER DEAD, LEBEAU! YER DEAD!”

                “Holy shit, I’m gonna die a virgin.” Bobby muttered, reaching back to grab at Scott’s shoulder. “Scott! I don’t want to die a virgin, Scott!”

                Remy suddenly seized Bobby’s wrist, looking at him sternly; “I need an ice ball, now!”

                “What?”

                “Now!”

                Drake nodded, regaining his composure and quickly conjuring a heavy ball in his palm. Gambit grabbed it, shoved his torso out the side window and charged it, letting it glow brilliantly before hurling it at Creed.

                It exploded near the feral’s head, making him roar and knocking him back. Bobby laughed at the genius of it and quickly made two more, which Gambit quickly hurled towards the persistent pursuer.

                Unfortunately, Creed was ready for the next few attacks, and took to leaping along the tops of parked cars, even sprinting across balconies along the narrow alley street, making it too hard for Remy to aim.

                He took a wild leap then and came crashing down on the hood, which earned a shout of terror from all inside. He reached in through the shattered windshield and grabbed Deadpool by the neck before yanking him forward and hurling out across the hood, letting the man be run over by the still speeding car.

                Scott bellowed and tried to regain control of the wheel, but it was too late. The car slammed into the side of the building, bounced back and rolled, turning onto its side and skidding for several yards before finally coming to a stop at another intersection.

                For a few moments in the smoking aftermath, no one moved. Dangling in his seatbelt, Scott slowly recovered from the blow, coughing at the smell of smoke and dust from the punctured airbag. “Remy? Bobby? Everyone okay?” he called, struggling to free himself before slumping down against the shattered window.

                He rolled and looked hurriedly into the back seat, but neither of the other men where there. Scott was startled, until he saw that the back seat was also completely frosted over. Bobby and Remy must have been thrown from the car.

                He groaned and crawled out through the remains of the windshield, shaking glass from his hair and clothes and looked around slowly, having no idea where Creed was.

                A little ways down the street he saw Wilson, a bloody mess, slowly starting to recover. He heard the sickening crack of bones slowly realigning and looked away in disgust. As he did, he noticed Bobby and Remy on the ground behind several overturned trash barrels. Bobby had morphed completely, his body now solid ice, crouched beside LeBeau, who was wincing and dazed.

                Scott hurried towards them and Bobby turned to him at once, gripping his arm. “Scott! Are you okay!? I’m so sorry, I didn’t have time--!”

                “It’s fine, you did the right thing,” Scott assured him, nodding before dropping down beside LeBeau.

                “Gambit are you—“

                “Fine, but where de hell is--?”

                “MOVE!” Scott heard the creak of metal above them before the others registered it and turned his gaze upward, turning his optic blast on Creed as he made to leap down on them from above. The bigger mutant howled in rage, being flung down onto the street, smoking and smelling of burnt hair. But he was up all too quickly, seething and foaming. He made to leap, but Bobby blasted him with his ice instead, making him scream as he was covered with the stuff, which was quickly creating a barrier around him, pushing him further and further back down the alley.

                “Scott get Remy and go!” Iceman shouted.

                “Non, you can’t--!” Remy began to protest, but Scott was already dragging him to his feet, looking worriedly back at Drake.

                “Bobby be careful!”

                “Just go!” he shouted again. Creed was still trying to fight back against the onslaught of ice, talons hacking at it even though icicles now dripped from his arms and frost had whitened his face and hair.

                Scott cast one last worried glance back at his teammate before looping Remy’s arm around his shoulder and taking off with the injured man as quickly as their feet could carry them.

                Iceman turned away, giving Victor everything he had, slowly creating a complete sphere of ice around the mutant. When the last of it was sealed, Bobby finally dropped his hands and moved towards it, feeling rather proud of himself.

                “Well, I’d like to see you claw your way outta that,” he grinned. He turned his attention as he saw Wade, now whole again though his uniform was tattered and bloody.

                “You okay man?”

                “Well, I’ve been run over by a lot of things, and it’s never pleasant,” Wade answered, voice still somewhat shaky. “Besides; have you ever tried getting tire marks outta spandex? Forget about it!”

                Bobby started to laugh, only to realize that he couldn’t see Creed within the foggy confines of the ice. He squinted in disbelief, moving closer. “Wha—where--?”

                Deadpool grabbed him and yanked him away just as Creed hurled a parked car at them. The two rolled away, barely clearing the area before the car’s engine exploded, sending a shock wave of heat, broken glass and debris that knocked them both off their feet.

                Creed was on them, eyes glowing, claws flying. Bobby raised a hand to defend himself but Wade was in front of him, katana swinging, a blur of bright silver, slicing into Creed and knocking him back.

                “Back the fuck off, Victor!” he barked, coming at the hulking feral again and again, relentless and precise in strikes, leaving Creed very little room to avoid them or defend himself except by the narrowest margins.

                “You’re fucked in the head, you know that?!” he continued, “ Wolverine finally gets free of you and you hunt him down and start this shit all over again!? This low, even for a super villain, Creed! You ain’t man enough to get any ass yourself; instead you molest your amnesiac brother and his boyfriend!”

                Creed dove at him, screaming and snarling and slashed him across the torso. Deadpool didn’t even flinch, taking the opportunity the close proximity gave him and impaling Creed on his sword before slicing hard to the left; nearly cutting the man in half.

                He went down in heap of blood and guts; but even then he was still breathing, pushing his insides back in as his body began to repair itself. Deadpool moved over him, sword raised high. “Logan will be pissed he didn’t get to finish you off himself; but I think he’ll get over it when I give him your head as present.”

                “Wade no!” Bobby gasped. “Don’t—Don’t kill him! Leave him for SHIELD!”

                “Oh fuck no,” Wade sighed, looking back at him. “You think I’m gonna let Fury take the credit for this? That eye-patch wearing bastard owes me a sky-cycle and don’t you think for one moment—“

                “WADE!”

                Victor was up, suddenly shoving his claws through Deadpool’s chest. There was an awful squealching sound as he twisted his hand and came away with sizable chunk of flesh. Wade gurgled blood and hit his knees.

                “Ow…”

                Bobby shouted and slammed his fists to the ground, creating a swath of ice shards that sped across the pavement, jutting up all around Creed, impaling and stabbing him before rising into the air and leaving him suspended there, impaled on all sides, bleeding and snarling.

                Iceman refused to look at the damage he’d done, running to Wilson’s side and lifting him up, creating another ice trail that he could glide across, rising away from the ruined alley and moving Deadpool to the second level of a parking garage.

                Once inside he laid the mercenary down, looking at him worriedly. “Jesus! Are you--?”

                “Fine,” Wade coughed, pulling off his blood soaked mask and discarding it. “Thanks for the save, Elsa.”

                Bobby smirked and rolled his eyes, looking back towards the road. He could already hear the ice cracking and Creed’s screams becoming louder. “That’s not going to hold him long; we need to get Scott and Remy get outta here. I’m sure SHIELD’s on their way.”

                He felt a slight buzz from inside his jacket and pulled it open, seeing his communicator blinking with an incoming message.

                “Bobby, its Logan. Where are you?”

                Drake smiled at hearing his friend’s voice; “Logan! We’re trying to get out of Jersey, but uh…something came up.”

                “Where’s Remy? Is he with you?”

                “Scott has him. Creed tracked him somehow;”

                “We’ll be right there.”

                “No, Logan, we…” he sighed when he saw the light had gone out as the transmission ended. “Stubborn old man.” He muttered.

                Beside him on the pavement Deadpool giggled; “Haha…you called Wolverine old…that’s cute.”

.               Ice-skinned mutant shushed the man, propping him up against a car to rest and turned back to his communicator. “Scott? Scott, can you hear me?”

 

**

 

                “We’re fine; where’s Creed?”

                Scott had managed to get Gambit into a now empty building, moving the injured X-Man through various corridors of a hotel that was under construction until he came to a reasonably safe spot in the finished lounge.

                He eased Gambit down on a couch in the dark room, both men breathing heavily from their frantic retreat. Scott found himself almost reluctant to release the other man, feeling the pull of Remy’s Charm affect his senses. But he resisted whatever urges were rising in him; all of his pushed down by adrenaline and the fierce need to protect. In that sense he and Logan were exactly alike.

                “I’ve got him contained for the moment; but it won’t last. Wade’s down. Logan’s on his way.”

                Remy’s eyes lifted at the mention of the name, suddenly hopeful. “Logan’s here? How?”

                “I don’t know,” Scott answered, nudging him back. “Bobby, stay with Deadpool. I’m sending you our location; when he recovers head over, got it?”

                “Can do! Scott, please stay safe.”

                Cyclops nodded and ended the transmission, quickly surveying the room for any vulnerable spots and possible exits. “How’s your energy? Do you think you can fight?” he asked.

                Remy nodded; “I can manage.” He was already searching for potential projectiles and stuffing anything small and easily portable into his pockets.

                “Logan raped you. Didn’t he?”

                Remy stilled, feeling like the air had gone out of him and turned wide eyed towards Cyclops, who was looking at him over his shoulder.

                “Non. Non!” Remy was up, moving towards him. “Is dat what you t’ink? Dat Logan did dis to me?”

                “Come on Remy, you don’t have to defend him.”

                The auburn haired man shook his head; “You weren’t dere, mon ami. It was one of dose situations you can’t win. I coulda fought Sabertooth, and I would have lost. I could have let Logan fight for me, and healing factor or no, he would have lost. I took de only option I had left, and I used my Charm on dem both.”

                Scott seemed stunned by the idea, even frightened by it. “Why…why would you let them do that to you?”

                “Cause dat way maybe he and I walk away from dis with our pieces intact. I’d take de bullet for him, every time, no questions asked. Even if it mean he never look at me de same way again; even if it mean I get hurt in de process. I lost too much already; can’t lose him too.”

                Scott nodded quietly and the two stood in silence for a moment, listening to the din of the disaster outside as people continued to flee the area and police and other emergency personnel began to arrive on the scene. “T’ink maybe you should leave me here, go check on Bobby and Wade.”

                “No, I’m not leaving you alone like this. You can barely walk, much less take on Sabertooth.”

                “I’ll manage,” he insisted again. “survived worse scrapes den dis on my own before. No one else is getting dragged into dis mess.”

                Scott moved closer to him, looking him in the eye. Remy was surprised that for the first time he was actually able to see Scott’s eyes through the tinted lenses of his visor. He actually had very nice eyes. “I’m staying with you. No matter what. Understand?”

                They were close, too close, and Gambit felt himself picking up all too easily on the man’s emotions; and finding they were genuine, sincere and very fierce. All directed towards him. Scott pushed a piece of his hair back, brushing his skin and Remy shivered. Ever his life seemed to find ways of complicating itself.

                “Scott…”

                The lights in the building flickered and felt a faint tremor. Both looked nervously towards the wide doorway leading out into the hotel lobby. Scott moved towards the door, motioning for Remy to cover him from behind and keep watch on the emergency exit.

                He moved towards the door, keeping close to the wall and doing his best to keep his movements silent. Outside he heard more screams and shouts and horns honking and the faint din of a police megaphone, though he could not make out what he was saying. Still, both mutants sensed they were no longer alone in the building.

                Scott peered through the frosted glass of the door, trying to make out any movement, but could see nothing. Behind him, Remy was breathing a little heavier.

                “We should go,” Remy whispered. “He catch us here, could be trouble,” he whispered.

                The brunette in front of him nodded, wishing now he could reach out to Bobby or the others but afraid to make any unnecessary noise. He reached out with his hand, pressing ever so lightly on the door, peering through the crack and praying it wouldn’t squeak when he did so.

                The lobby looked empty. He tried a bit further, motioning Gambit along behind him. Slowly he pushed the door open the hole way. The hotel was as silent as before, but the noise outside was knocking sawdust down from the unfinished floors above, spilling through the gaps in the ceiling.

                “Come on, we’ll find Bobby and—“

                Sabertooth fell on him before he even realized he was there. Creed had been crouched above them in the shadow of a ceiling rafter. Scott kicked and punched as the huge feral, but his blows seemed glancing at best as the beast mauled his shoulder and raked his talons down his back before grabbing the smaller man and hurling him across the lobby, sending him crashing through a wall.

                Creed laughed, seeing the man lying in a heap, licking the blood from his lips. “That the best you got to offer?”

                “Non,” Remy’s voice said from behind, making him turn. “dis is!”

                He swung a heavy expanse of piping that had been left by the door, igniting it with his energy before allowing it to crash into Creed’s face. The explosion blew the bigger mutant backwards several feet, flipping over the front desk and crashing into the shelving unit behind it, causing it to topple on top him.

                Remy took the momentary distraction to run to Scott, who was slowly starting to recover. “Run, get up, now! Hurry, he won’t—“

                Scott groaned and gripped him tightly, “Remy, don’t worry, I won’t let him—“

                “Quit worryin’ about me, worry about yourself!” Gambit chided him, dragging the dazed man up, only to have Creed roar to life again. Gambit groaned in desperation and hauled Scott up, running as best he could with the injured man beside him and made for the nearest route of escape; an elevator shaft.

                Remy yanked the doors open and cursed when he saw the car was down. He braced Scott best he could and grabbed onto the robes, sliding down just as Creed came charging after them.

                The dizzying descent ended shortly, the two men falling on top of the elevator car and hurriedly climbing down inside. They were now in the basement, which was filled with conference rooms and storage space.

                The only lighting down here was emergency lights, which cast an eerie pall on everything as they stumbled down the wide service corridors, following signs for emergency exits. They heard the crunch of metal as Creed tore through the elevator doors.

                “LEBEAU! Give up now and I leave the other one with most of his limbs intact!”

                “Remy, let me go,” Scott huffed, wiggling away and standing to face Creed, “I’ll hold him off, you run!”

                “Scott, no!” Remy yelled, tugging at him.

                “I won’t let him hurt you again!” Cyclops bellowed with surprising force. Gambit was too stunned to reply, coming back to himself only as Creed came loping towards them and Scott fired off another wide blast that sent an unbearable wave of heat and light through the hallway.

                Creed managed to escape the brunt of it, nearly on top of them again. Remy pulled the trinkets from his pockets; business cards and paper clips and discarded screws, charging them all once and pelting Creed in the face with them.

                He screamed, one putting out his eye and managed a wide swipe that knocked Remy off his feet.

                LeBeau lay there, gasping, trying to recover and shake the blindness from his eyes, only to feel an all too familiar hand grab him and drag him forward. Creed belted him across the face, sending his head whipping to the side, then buried his fist so hard in Remy’s gut that it knocked the air out of him entirely.

                A knee came down across his back and Remy screamed. He was going to die, and Creed wasn’t going to do it quickly this time. He was going to beat him to a pulp and then take his time with the remains.

                The man’s fist came down and grabbed him by the hair, lifting him and throwing him against the wall, pinning him there. Remy’s vision barely had time to clear before the man sunk his teeth into his neck and shoulder and bit down hard.

                Blood gushed down his shoulders and torso as he squirmed and shouted, trying to break the hold, feeling Victor tear away skin.

                But Gambit wasn’t ready to go quietly; at least not yet. He managed to get one hand free, which he used to punch through the brittle drywall behind him. He pulled away a chunk, giving it a quick charge before shoving it into Creed’s mouth and wedging it there.

                He slid down the wall, bracing himself as Creed went off in front of him. Shockingly the feral was still in one piece, though his lower jaw had been dislocated, which caused it to hang open, allowing his tongue to loll out and his fangs to look all the more pronounced.

                Remy scrambled away, trying to draw Creed away from Scott, who had been stunned by the man and laid motionless on the floor. He grabbed anything he could, bits of broken wall, glass shards, anything to fire at Sabertooth and slow his advance. But his shirt was already soaked with blood and he was getting weaker and colder by the second.

                “Yer…d-dead..LeBeau…” Victor slurred, slowly regaining use of his face. “Gonna make ya squirm, make ya scream…it’s your fault, you little cunt! It’s your fault he’s gone!”

                Remy thought of Logan and smiled, grateful to hear this; “You go on an kill me, Victor, I probably deserve it. But I’m gonna make you suffer first. Cause what you did to him…was so much worse den anything you ever dreamed of wit me!”

                He pulled himself up, holding onto the wall railing, which he managed to snap off. It was heavy and blunt, and exactly what he needed. Creed made to pounce again and Remy took the shaft and swung it like a baseball bat, cracking him hard across the head.

                The feral went down howling, trying to claw at the man again, but Gambit struck him over and over. “What you did ta him was de lowest of de low! Your own flesh and blood! How could you –“

                “SHUT YER MOUTH!”

                Creed seized him by the ankle and pulled his feet out from under him, sending him to the ground before crawling over top of him and finally prying the shaft away from him. He grabbed Remy’s long neck and squeezed harshly; even to cut off his air completely. Remy wrapped his own hands around Creed’s massive wrist and tried pull him back, but to no avail.

                The blonde feral shook him, squeezing harder, making Remy’s face turn red, mouth twisted in a grimace of pain. “You little worm…Sinister’s not here to call me off this time. I’m gonna kill ya, then fuck ya and then probably eat ya. And while I’m takin’ my time, I’ll tell ya all about Wolverine, and how put off he was to find out what ya really are and what ya made him do.”

                Remy’s struggles were growing more feeble, black and red eyes leaking tears even though they were shut tight.

                “I don’t know what’s worse for you, actually, knowing that he ain’t here ta save ya, or that in the end, I’m still gonna have him. I got all the time in the world to win him back. But you…you have maybe a few seconds of life left. Was it worth it, Remy?”

                He laughed and leaned down to lick the man’s blood flecked cheek, only to suddenly feel cold adamantium blades tear through his torso, shredding through his lungs and bones like they were butter.

                Creed looked down, blinking in vague confusion at the blades jutting up from his torso before beginning yanked forcibly backward and flung across the hall, crashing through a door way and vanishing in the rubble.

                Sabertooth shook the shock off, wheezing and gurgling as his lungs struggled to repair themselves. He blinked through the dust to see Logan, crouched over Gambit’s body, eyes bright blue and hellish, claws fully extended and still dripping with his blood.

                “A little late aren’t ya--?” The blonde started to say, voice a raspy hiss, but Logan didn’t let him finish his sentence, leaping at him with roar, claws finding him again and again, tearing at any bit of flesh they found.

                Creed grappled with the smaller man but found he was too fast for him, his rage too powerful. He’d expended too much of his energy already battling the other X-Men, and LeBeau had brought him lower than he realized before he’d caught him.

                Logan tore him open and again and again until Creed felt like he couldn’t heal fast enough. He was getting tired, and the runt was still coming, harder, faster. “We can do this all day, runt,” he panted, being pushed further and further back into the empty storage room, dripping blood everywhere. “But the Cajun…he ain’t lookin’ too good. You might be able to save him still…if you stop now.”

                The black haired man hesitated, dropping back, considering. His eyes flickered nervously back towards the door where he’d left Remy. Victor moved to attack—only to have Logan take a wide swipe at him and slash him directly across the neck.

                Creed hit the ground, spewing blood everywhere, head still attached by maybe two inches of skin and the faintest sliver of bone.

                “You’re the one who’s out of time, Victor.” Logan muttered, spitting on the man’s face. He could finish it now, take the man’s head clean off. It would take him longer to regrow his whole fucking head if he did. Might stop him for good in fact…

                “Logan!”

                Scott’s voice made him turn back, surprised to hear him. He returned hurriedly to the hallway where he found Summers crouched over Remy; “Logan, he needs a doctor, now!” he gasped. There were more footsteps then from beyond and Logan heard Bobby and Storm’s voices calling out to them from somewhere down the corridor.

                Logan looked back at Creed one last time; the other feral hadn’t moved and blood was still flowing from the wound, though more slowly now.

                “Logan!” Scott called again, more urgently. “We’re losing him!”

                Wolverine turned and was beside them then, pulling off his leather jacket and wrapping it around Remy before lifting him in his arms. Scott stood shakily beside him as they hurried down the hall towards the growing voices.

                They met Storm and the others as they came around the corner and Ro cried out, rushing them when she saw her men covered in blood. “He’s losing too much blood,” Logan panted. “Gotta get him to a hospital.”

                Storm nodded, “There’s an ambulance outside,” she said hurriedly, leading them back down the way they came through one of the stairwells.

                Bobby caught Scott, who wobbled on his feet as he and Deadpool lingered behind. “Scott! Sit down, you look…”

                Cyclops was barely paying attention to him, eyes staring after Logan and LeBeau. “I failed…I couldn’t protect him…or any of you. I wasn’t strong enough…”

                Iceman, now back in his normal form, shook his head in confusion; “what are you talking about?—Babe, you need to sit—Scott!”

                The other man sagged against him suddenly and Bobby barely caught him before he hit the floor again and went to his knees with him, wrapping his arms around Summers as his head slumped to his shoulder.

                “Shit! It’s okay…it’s okay, Scott, I got you. I promise, I got you.”

                Wade bent beside them, checking his pulse; “He’s just a little woozy. Over exposure to Victor will do that to ya. Call Stormy and tell her to send medics your way.” He said before getting up and making his way down the hall.

                “Wait, where are you--?”

                Bobby’s voice faded off as Wilson followed the wreckage of the hall to where Logan had left Creed.

                The big feral was still on the floor in a growing puddle of his own blood. The wounds around his neck were slowly mending, but the damage Wolverine had done was still very apparent. Deadpool stepped over to him, looking down at Victor who gurgled and grunted at him as he spasmed, still unable to speak. It was the first time he recalled Creed ever looking afraid.

                “You got lucky.” Wilson said, shaking his head. “He almost had you that time. Soo close. I bet he doesn’t even know, does he? He takes off your head; it won’t grow back.”

                Creed made a feeble little swipe for his feet and Wade kicked him for good measure. “You sick little brother-fucker. You got greedy and you got sloppy. Which was always your fucking problem; even when we were still a team.” He idly pressed the blade of his katana against the delicate raw skin of Creed’s wound, watching the feral’s yellow eyes widen nervously.

                “I oughta finish ya off; really I should. It’d be a nice little present to my pals after the shit you put them through. Buuuut…since they’re both X-Men now, they tend to, ya know, frown on the whole murder thing. And I still want to get my membership pin, ya know?”

                He crouched down so he could be closer to Creed, making sure he understood every word. “I have a better idea for you. I’m gonna truss you up like a turkey and make you someone else’s present. Mystique’s been trying to hunt you down for months. You know she raised the bounty on you by six grand, yesterday? Hooooeee! That’s gonna buy daddy a lot of burritos!”

                Sabertooth made to growl or moan in protest and Wade kicked him again and put him out. “Shuddup. You should have thought about that before you went messing with my OTP, you big hairball.” He reached into his belt and pulled out a rather large roll of ducktape and went to work.

               

 

 

***

Chapter Text

 

***

 

                Sunlight and warm air.

                A hand on his, warm and soft, and a voice mumbling in the distance. Remy forced his eyes open despite feeling an unpleasant tackiness on his lashes and let his eyes adjust to the light. Ro’s face came into focus, sitting beside him on the bed, absently stroking his hand and humming along with some song that plaid in the background. She didn’t notice him looking at her.

                He smiled and sighed, moving his fingers to tangle with hers, startling her. “Mmm...I’ve had dis dream before, I t’ink. I wake up and dere’s dis beautiful woman leaning over me. A man could get used to dis.”

                Storm didn’t say anything, instead just bent over the man, wrapping her long arms around his neck and shoulders and kissing him hard. He wrapped his arms around her in return, feeling a bit weak but otherwise himself. When Storm finally broke the embrace she sat back, hurriedly wiping her eyes and giving him a chiding look; “Don’t look so pleased with yourself, Remy LeBeau, you had us all worried sick!”

                “My apologies, mon cherie,” he replied. “I won’t do it again, scout’s honor.”

                She hugged and kissed him again and helped him to sit up as Remy looked around and began to get his bearings. He recognized Hank’s lab a little too well. “Home? How’d I get here?”

                “We brought you, of course. Once they stabilized you at the hospital. Hank insisted and, well, you can’t really argue with Hank on these sort of things.”

                “Good to know,” Remy nodded. He glanced up then and caught another pair of eyes watching him from the doorway of the isolated room. Logan stood there, looking nervous and hesitant, caught between rushing in or running away.

                For a moment the two men locked eyes and no one said a word. Then Logan stepped into the room and approached his bed. He sat down beside him and slumped forward, burying his face against Remy’s thigh and whimpered quietly.

                Remy smiled and leaned over top of him, resting his head on top of his. “It’s alright, cher. It’s alright now.”

                Ororo put her arm s around both of them, keeping them close and finally taking a deep breath; thanking whatever fates had decided to return them both home safely.

                The reunion was quickly interrupted however by the emergence of Doctor McCoy, who seemed as equally thrilled to see that his patient had revived. He shoed Logan and Ororo out long enough to do a quick evaluation of Remy’s condition.

                Lingering close to the door, watching every move, Logan struggled to collect himself. Storm wrapped her arms around him, “He’s going to be alright now. You made sure of that.”

                “That weren’t me, darlin’. That was all Hank; and we’re damn lucky to have him.” Logan corrected. “All I want is to take it all back, Ro. But I can’t. He oughta hate me.”

                Storm frowned and kissed his cheek; “Shh, enough of that. You both need time to heal from this; forgiving yourself is going to be part of that.”

                Logan frowned, not knowing if he could. He spotted Scott then, flanked by Bobby, who always seemed to be on his heels these days, entering the infirmary. For a moment the two exchanged uneasy glances and Wolverine pushed down a snarl as Storm moved between them.

                “What’s going on? Has Remy--?”

                Scott turned to see that Gambit was awake, talking to Hank. He nearly bolted through the door, but Logan put out his arm, baring his entrance. The two men glared at each other. “Give the kid some air, he ain’t been conscious for more than a few minutes.”

                “Then why aren’t you in there with him?” Scott demanded, somewhat coldly.

                Storm frowned; “I think everyone should step out into the waiting room until Hank is finished.” She said, pushing them both away from the door, glancing back at Remy who was watching them curiously.

                The group gathered in the little waiting area just beyond the infirmary which divided it from the lab. Scott kept looking back towards Remy’s room, “Someone should be with him,”

                “And why should we nominate you?” Logan retorted, glaring at Scott in growing agitation and surprise.

                “I saw what happened to him; you arrived a little late on the scene, as I recall.”

                Storm glared at Scott, moving between the two men before Logan could open his mouth; “Scott, stop this. If Logan hadn’t intervened, neither you or Remy would be here to tell the tale.”

                “If I hadn’t called him off Creed, Remy would have bled out!”

                “I ain’t yer dog, Summers, you don’t call me for anything!”

                “Stop!” Bobby snapped suddenly, giving them both a cold jolt that sent them stepping back, shivering and blinking frost from their faces. “Oh my God you two, do you hear yourselves?! You sound like assholes! Gambit’s alive, we’re all alive, can’t we just take a damn moment to appreciate that? Cause I know I can!”

                He looked to Scott expectantly as their leader tried to rub the frost from his visor. He frowned at Bobby, making the kid shrink a little, and then sighed. “I’m sorry. It’s been a long couple of days.”

                “Boy are you tellin’ me, bub.” Logan sighed.

                A breath passed between them and for a moment everything felt almost back to normal. No matter what catastrophe befell them, they always seemed to end up back here, together. There was some comfort in that.

                Hank emerged then and beckoned Logan forward and the dark haired man went without looking back, knowing Storm could handle Scott.

                “Everything okay, Doc?”

                “I’m pleased to say he’s making a steady recovery; which I’m sure has been hastened by your blood donation.” Hank nodded. “But I want to keep him here awhile longer, just to be sure. He’s asking for you.”

                “Me?”

                Hank put his big hand on the shorter man’s shoulder in a gesture of comfort, then turned away to speak with the others, leaving them alone.

                Wolverine approached Remy’s bed once more, coming to sit in front of him. Gambit seemed a bit more docile now, eyes heavy. Logan smiled at him and tucked his hair behind his ear; “I see Hank gave ya a shot of the good stuff, huh?”

                Remy giggled drowsily and poked at his heavily bandaged neck and shoulder. “See dis? Don’t feel not’in’.

                Logan chuckled to and took his hand and pulled it away, holding it in his own rough one. “Ya fought like a champ, kid. Professor’s impressed. Hell, we’re all pretty damn impressed. Even talked about having you teach a class here; once you’re better of course.”

                Logan looked nervously at the bedsheets, steadying himself on Remy’s knee. “Ro and I have been talkin’ a lot about what’s happened. I’m glad she was there for you when I wasn’t. She’s an amazing woman.”

                “You don’t need to tell me dat, cher. But you pretty amazing yourself. Love you both, very much.”

                Logan nodded and leaned up to kiss his forehead; “I know, Cajun. We’ll work this out, the three of us. I moved some of your things into her room. When you’re a little better, probably best you stay with her.”

                Remy gripped his hand, looking him in the eye; “We work dis out; cher. Promise me, we try?”

                “If you think you can forgive me.” Logan said quietly. “And if you can’t…I’ll understand.”

                Remy clumsily plucked at his shirt and drew him closer until the bigger man had wrapped his arms around him completely, holding him carefully. “You didn’t give up on me, so I ain’t giving up on you either. D’accord?”

                Logan kissed him, finally feeling some relief; like he had come home again after a long time away. His past didn’t matter, Victor didn’t matter. He had new memories to replace the ones he lost; ones that were infinitely better as long as Remy and Ro were part of them.

                Wolverine made himself comfortable in the bed beside the lanky man, who had fallen asleep tucked in his arms. He was very much content to do the same. He glanced back through the glass partition that divided the little room, seeing Scott and the others still in the waiting area. Scott seemed to arguing with Storm about something, until another familiar redhead appeared.

                Logan didn’t have to hear their conversation to know that Scooter had gotten himself in the dog house with Jeanie. The looks that past between them were troubling enough. Scott made to depart the room, casting one last glance in their direction, eyes narrowed jealously at Logan and then stormed past Jean.

                Storm moved back into the room, looking troubled. When she saw that Remy was asleep however, she simply moved to his other side and dragged the blankets closer around them. “Are you staying here?” she whispered.

                “For awhile, yeah. Everything okay out there?”

                The white haired woman sighed, shaking her head. “I don’t know. But it’s not our battle to fight.” She looked down at Remy and kissed his temple before leaning further in and kissing Logan’s lips softly. “I’ll bring you both something to eat. What sounds good?”

                “Milkshakes and fries.” Logan chuckled. “I think I could use some greasy processed comfort food for a change. Think they make whiskey milkshakes?”

 

**

 

                Jean followed Scott back to their rooms, waiting until they were inside before speaking; “I’ve let you avoid me long enough,” she stated, voice calm, but no small amount of emotion behind her words. “But now we have to talk.”

                “I haven’t been avoiding you,” Scott said, realizing he didn’t believe his own words. He couldn’t bring himself to look at the woman, not sure if it was out of shame or anger. “In case you haven’t noticed this team has been coming apart at the strings, and I seem to be the only one trying to pull it together. You’ve been too busy with Charles.”

                The woman frowned; “Things have been happening, Scott. There is a world, a vast world out there beyond this School. I know you’ve had your hands full here, but Charles and I have been dealing with threats of our own! So don’t you dare stand there and act like a spoiled little boy who hasn’t been getting enough attention!”

                A heavy silence rang in the air and Scott noticed, for the first time, that Jean seemed…different somehow. There was a greater heaviness about her, a fire he’d never seen before in her eyes. For a second, in fact, she didn’t seem like Jean at all.

                But it passed, and she was herself again. “What happened to us, Scott?” she asked quietly.

                He shook his head, falling into a chair, head in his hands. “I don’t know…”

                She sighed and came to sit beside him, hand on his back. “I’ve known for awhile now, this thing that you’re struggling with. You shouldn’t be ashamed of it. I still love you.”

                “Ashamed of what?”

                “That you’re attracted to men, Scott. It’s fine, honestly. I’m happy for you, in fact, you’ve been repressing it for such a long time, and after Logan…”

                Scott jerked away from her standing quickly. “Don’t talk to me about him. He’s the entire reason this is happening!”

                “What?”

                Her fiancé glared back her, “Wolverine's been nothing but poison since he got here...first Hank, then Storm...and don't tell me you don't think about him Jean, because I know you do. I see the way you look at him when you think I'm not looking, I see the way you keep finding excuses to be around him, to be alone with him.”

                “Well...then I suppose that makes two of us.”

                Scott paled, "What?” He muttered.

                "You're attracted to Logan, as much as you claim I am. At first I thought it was just jealousy, but I'm starting to think it's more..."

                "It's Logan, he has a way of making normally reasonable people fall all over themselves for him. I mean look at Hank...he never would be involved with someone like Logan. But somehow they were. Now he's dragged Gambit into it...I can't have Logan pulling more of this team apart. Look what he did to Remy, and he's already forgiven him!"

                “What does Gambit have to do with…” her voice trailed and her eyes narrowed. “Oh Scott, no.” She shook her head, hair falling back and forth over her shoulders; “I thought that…I thought that was just because of what happened with his Charm power. But it’s something more, isn’t it?”

                Her lover refused to look at her. “Dammit, Scott, answer me.”

                Nothing but silence. In frustration, she opened her mind and took a glimpse into his. What she found startled her, though it was only a few seconds before Scott forced her out, turning on her angrily.

                “What are you doing!? Get out of my head!” he barked. She turned away, seemingly out of breath, sinking down into her chair again with her hand covering her mouth. Scott watched her nervously. “That’s not fair. You can’t just…they’re just fantasies. They don’t mean anything...”

                She looked at him slowly, slightly shaken. “If it was just sex, Scott, I would believe you,” she answered. “But it’s much more than that. This vision of Remy you have in your mind…this person who needs you to save them…that’s not him. He doesn’t need you to save him.”

                Scott frowned bitterly. “Yeah. Apparently no one does.” He muttered, storming out of the room and slamming the door behind him.

 

***

 

                Two weeks later…

               

                Being bedbound for days in Hank’s infirmary would be trying for anyone, but a restless creature like Remy LeBeau was especially miserable in its confines. Needless to say, he was more than a little relieved to be finally discharged.

                Though he was still on restricted activity, he was relieved to be back in the comfort and freedom of familiar surroundings; which for now was in Ororo’s attic room.

                The three of them were flopped on her couch in the center of the wide room, watching one of Logan’s old Wild West films that he secretly coveted. The Cajun found himself in a rather comfortable tangle between the two of them, Storm’s head resting on his lower torso and Logan propped behind him, one arm slung around Remy’s shoulders.

                “I find a severe lack of logic in this plot,” Storm said, reaching for her glass of wine that was placed on the floor beside her.

Remy toyed with her hair, twirling his fingers through it, and chuckled softly. “Don’t t’ink you supposed ta focus so much on de plot holes, cherie. Just enjoy de staged violence and men in leather chaps.”

                She laughed and Logan sighed at both of them; “It’s a classic, and we’re watchin’ it.” He retorted, taking another swig of beer from the amber bottle in his hand.

                Remy chuckled and nuzzled down under his arm, head resting on his shoulder. “Whatever you say, cher.”

                Logan blinked down at him and tentatively held him a bit closer, resting his jaw lightly on top of Remy’s head. Things were still strange between the two men, hesitant and slightly distant, as if they were almost afraid of one another; or afraid to do something wrong. Logan rarely allowed himself to be alone with Remy these days, finding comfort in having Ro there between them, as though she were a buffer.

                Neither of them knew if they could ever get back to where they were before this had all happened; but it felt like they were at least beginning to move forward, towards something new and hopeful with the three of them.

                Storm stirred from her position, standing up and with her glass, setting it down on the coffee table next to the half empty bottle. “Well, gentlemen, I think that I need a breath of fresh air. Any one care to join me on the roof?”

                Remy grabbed the blanket and huddled deeper into it, “Non merci, too cold for dis Cajun.”

                She smiled and looked to Logan, who seemed a little hesitant to be left alone with Remy. She reached over and squeezed his shoulder and kissed his cheek, “Tell me if the good guys win, alright?”

                “They always do, darlin’.” He nodded as she quietly excused herself, exited through the French doors out onto her rooftop garden. They both watched her leave, a little saddened and nervous in her absence.

                Remy sighed and sat up, stretching and finding himself more tired than he realized. “T’ink Hank will ever let me back on de field? Getting tired of being cooped up, watchin’ from de sidelines. Need to stretch my muscles before I get too fat and lazy to be an X-Man.” He chuckled.

                Logan smiled, but said nothing, looking at his bottle of beer for a time. “How’s the shoulder?”

                “Almost healed,” Remy replied, pulling open the neck of his shirt to have a better look at it. “Hank did wonders. But, pretty sure your blood helped speed up de healin’ process.”

                Logan nodded, but found he couldn’t look at the other man. He felt too nervous. Remy knew, of course. Remy always knew. The taller man plucked him close and held him tightly, leaving Logan no room to run and no way to avoid him.

                “Please stop hidin’ from me,” Remy begged quietly. “I want you here, I need you here.”

                The black haired feral exhaled heavily, returning his lover’s embrace tightly and burrowing his face into his long neck, kissing his warm skin. “Rems, want ya more than anything. Just…scared I’m gonna mess this up again. I make too many mistakes, people get hurt. Yer too important to me, I can’t…”

                “Hush up,” Remy muttered. “Don’t care about none of dat. I just want dis to work, cher. I love you, all of you, no matter what. You and Ro, dat’s all I need.”

                Logan nodded against him, squeezing him tighter. He knew he’d never be able to undo the damage that had been caused; but wounds can heal; and even scars fade with time. He pulled back and kissed Remy hard before looking at him warmly; “Okay; let’s start from here. You and me and Ro…no baggage, no excuses. Just…us. Sound good?”

                “Sounds perfect, cher.”

                The wind blew as Storm opened the door again, carrying in two of her potted trees and setting them down by the door. She was smiling to herself and Logan rolled his eyes; “You finally get tired of easedroppin’?”

                She perked a delicate eyebrow and smirked; “What makes you think I would do such a thing? My saplings were in danger of being uprooted, so I rescued them.” She pulled her shawl a little closer around her shoulders though and sighed; “But I admit, I am getting tired of this cold myself. Perhaps it would be a good idea for us to take a little breather from New York.”

                “What ya have in mind, darlin’?”

                Storm glanced at her calendar, which was littered with the usual events and staff meetings and various other activities happening at the school. “Well, it’s not quite Spring Break for the students…but…” she grinned suddenly and glanced mischievously at the two of them. “Remy, how would you feel about showing Logan and I around your home town? I’ve never been to a real Mardis Gras celebration before.”

                Remy lit up so quickly it was almost comical, jumping off the couch and grabbing the calender form her hands; “Mon Dieu, is it really dat time again? Haha! Mes amis, you haven’t lived till you seen N”Awlin’s shining like she will den! We have to go!”

                Logan seemed a bit hesitant; “Sure it’s safe, Gumbo?”

                Remy shrugged; “Maybe not, but what’s life if you don’t have a little danger to spice it up?” He hurried towards the wardrobe and began dragging out duffle bags.

                “Gambit, we’re not leaving this second…” Ororo chuckled, stealing up behind him.

                “Why not? I’m sure I can charm Hank into letting me off de hook early, and—“ she turned him around and pressed a finger to his lips to hush him before kissing him, while Logan looked on smiling.

                “You will do exactly as Henri orders. I’m not taking any chances with your health, and I’m sure Logan will agree with me. Besides, Hank will hound you to no end and make the trip thoroughly unenjoyable for us all.”

                “She’s got a point.”

                Remy sighed; “Well…I suppose I can hold out a bit longer…” He laid back on the bed and tugged Storm after him, making the woman chuckle and straddle him. “But I’m going to need somebody to warm me up in de meantime.”

                She grinned and dropped her head to his chest, kissing him softly. Remy grinned and ran his hands up her back, casting a longing look in Logan’s direction, hopeful he would join. To his relief the dark haired man was moving around the couch already, shrugging out of his shirt as he made for the bed.

                His hand slid up Ro’s thigh and smoothed around the curve of her backside before sliding under her shirt and making her sigh softly, reaching back to pull him down beside them. “Think you two are up to this?” he asked

                Remy pulled him down into a heated kiss as he felt Ororo tug at his belt buckle and before tugging his jeans down his hips. “I think the better question is are you?” she grinned.

 

***