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Making Love Out of Nothing At All

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"Welcome back, Slim," Warren said with a grin. "I knew you couldn't stay out of the superhero business for long."

"Funny. That's what Maddie said as she packed up the baby and left." There was a more than a hint of pain there and Warren just threw an arm around his friend's shoulders and walked him out of the airport.

A FEW YEARS LATER

"You are coming in, brother," Storm informed her current partner. He rolled his eyes.

"Like I'd miss de opportunity t' meet de famous terrorists?" She punched him in the arm. He grinned at her. She grabbed his hand and dragged him to meet her friends.

"This is Scott Summers, Warren Worthington, Bobby Drake, Hank McCoy, Betsy Braddock, Rogue, and Logan. Everyone, this is Remy LeBeau. He helped me," she said simply.

"So you're de ones givin' de petite nightmares," he said, shaking hands all around. She slugged him again. "Gettin' awfully violent, petite," he taunted. He picked her up and she squirmed, laughing. "Got t' protect m'self, non?" he whispered in her ear. He set her down gently.

"I am not a child!" she protested.

"Not t' dem. But y' are t' m'. Remy, he still willin' t' spank y'."

"Try it and I'll zap you back." She turned to McCoy. "Hank, my dear friend, can you help me return to myself?"

"Of course, my dear Ororo." Scott saw the young man's shoulders tense. Remy hovered protectively over the apparent teen. He followed Hank and Ororo as they went into the mansion. He didn't seem to register his surroundings. He paused at the threshold of the med-lab.

"I will be fine, Brother." Ororo hugged Remy before going in and carefully shutting the door. He curled up in the waiting room and ignored the people who had followed him.

"Hank's one of the best. He'll take good care of Ro," Scott assured.

"Sure. De petite trusts him. Den again, she trusts Remy too. Dat don' give m' confidence in her judgement."

"Hmm. You know not many people can pull off the self-depreciation with a straight face. I give it an 8 for technique and a 5 for content," Warren stated.

"Hey, I wonder if we can get him to tell us all of Storm's crushes," Bobby chimed in.

"I don't know. We should try for her sex secrets first," Warren responded.

"So, tell m', homme. Dey always dis irritatin'?"

"Usually. Where did Storm find you?" Scott asked. Logan had taken one side, Scott the other.

"Ran into her in de middle of a job. She had a nasty connard followin' her. Wanted t' make her his pup. I decided dat weren't good 'specially bein' she was just a chile, so we left."

"What do you do for a living, kid?" Logan asked.

"Freelancer," Remy drawled.

"Or in other words, it's illegal?" Betsy said crossing her legs. The man ignored her.

"Keep de spook on a leash, cher," he told Scott. "An' oui. I know who an' what y' are. An' non, I ain't keen on joinin' up, no matter what m' Stormy says. Leave m' alone."

"Pull in thah claws, sugah," Rogue said. "We're just bein' friendly."

"Don' need friends, chere. 'specially not like y' here."

"Ya got a problem with mutants?" Logan asked.

"Non, wit' high profile idiots dat run around in spandex."

"Yer in body armor, kid, so I'd watch it."

"Armor, oui. As in, absorbs some of de force of a blow. Not spandex dat just rip t' reveal enough leg t' distract de enemy. Non, jus' came t' bring Stormy home an' see her put t' rights."

"Ah'll go set ya up a room then," Rogue said. "Ah'm sure ya'll be stayin'."

"Merci, chere, but Gambit got a room in town. Don' bot'er."

"I'm sure Storm would prefer you stay here," Scott said. "So that you're close by as she gets used to her body again." He nodded to Rogue, who left them.

"Wings and I'll get dinner started," Bobby announced, dragging Warren with him.

"Yer Gambit?" Logan asked skeptically. "Yer awfully young."

"And y're awful rude, Wolverine," Remy responded. "M' rep's honest. What about y'rs?"

"Spar with me and find out." Logan's smile showed a few too many teeth. Gambit yawned.

"Who writes y' dialog, cher?" Scott hid a smirk. He'd have to keep the boy around, just for the amusement factor. Logan shook his head.

"So yer a thief."

"Oui," Remy admitted. "An' y'all are wanted by de FBI. I dink dat makes us even."

"Word is ya only steal from crooks."

"Or politicians."

"Thought I just said that." The boy gave him a lopsided grin.

"Interested in a permanent position?" Scott asked.

"Non. I stay 'til Stormy's okay, den Remy's gone."

"That's what you say now," the leader of the X-men told him. "We'll see."

*****

The first week went quickly, what with fighting emergency battles and doing repairs. But Gambit remained firmly in his shell, refusing to be coaxed out, except in rare flashes of humor. Still, Scott wanted to keep him around. A thief would be handy. Especially a thief who wasn't retired. Thus, Scott informed Logan that it was up to him to make friends.

"He ain't my usual, Slim. I don't like thieves. They're dangerous. I don't like his style, his rep, his smartass comments, or his belief that anything on two legs in his fer the takin'. He's got the frails wrapped around his finger."

"The two of you travel in the same circles. You just don't like the fact that he won your last match."

"He's all flash and smoke, Slim. I'm beginnin' to think there ain't nothin' underneath."

"Bullshit. That's like saying you're nothing more than a feral killer. Sound him out. Find out what'd make him stay."

"Money," Logan snorted.

"Nope. The kid would be taking any job that came along if money was his main motivation," Scott contradicted.

"Sex."

"We're close to the city."

"Why aincha doin' this?"

"Because I’m the boss and therefore, I can force others to do it for me."

"Bastard."

"Watch it, Runt."

And with that in mind, Logan sought out the Cajun. He was playing solitaire in the family room. "Hey, Cajun, ya wanna go catch a couple a beers?"

"Depend on how fast dey run," Remy said with a lazy smile that Logan ignored.

"Not too fast. Like shootin' fish in a barrel."

"I suppose." He scooped up his cards and secreted them in a pocket. He followed the Canadian to Harry's. After they were seated, he asked, "How come y' stay wit dem, homme? Seems t' Gambit dere ain't a whole lot f' y' here."

"Got more outta bein' here then I ever got outta bein' alone. 'Sides, I got a partner that's growin' up here. She's all of 13. Needs a place to grow up and learn how to be normal."

"An' y' call dat lot normal?" Gambit's eyebrows were in danger of disappearing into his hair. Logan chuckled.

"Well, she's better off with this bunch than on the streets, right?"

Remy nodded. "True," he admitted. "But dat's what she be gettin'. What do y' get outta dis?"

"Friends I can turn my back on. Food. Shelter. Family." Logan didn't react to the steady, watchful look. "I'll put it to ya this way, Kid. What ya got to lose?"

"M' freedom," the thief answered immediately.

"Give us a chance. Ya might like it."

*****

A few weeks later, the Canadian and the Cajun were sitting on the porch. "So what's his story?" Gambit asked, nodding at Cyclops who was chopping wood.

"Xavier took him in and trained him up to lead this crew. Lost his girlfriend to suicide. Married a woman who coulda been her sister. She up and left him takin' the baby with her. Slim ended up back here."

"When'd he get so tight he started squeakin'?"

"After Maddie left him, he got worse. He ain't a bad guy once ya get the rod outta his ass."

"That weren't exactly de objective." Gambit leaned back and put his feet up as Logan did a double take. Logan chuckled.

"If yer serious, good luck. But ya break his heart and I'll gut ya."

"What if I'm just lookin' f' a bit of fun?" Remy pouted. "Ain't like y' gettin' offa y'r ass t' declare y' everlastin' love. And we bot' know dat British bitch can't be dat good in bed."

Logan shook his head. "I ain't his type," he said firmly.

"An' just what is de boy's type?" Remy tipped his head back, knowing it emphasized his throat.

"Tall and gorgeous." Logan's smile was very far away. "Tell ya this, Kid. Jeannie turned my head real quick. She was one gorgeous frail. Powerful too. Especially after she went mad," he ended sadly. "She musta loved him. Even crazy."

"Why she kill herself, homme? De powers burn her out?"

"No, she did it to pay fer her crimes. Right in front of Scott too. She stepped into a laser and died."

Remy winced. "T'ank y' f' tellin' m'. Know it ain't a good topic."

"One of the worst day of my life, Cajun. One of the worst."

"You two planning on helping?" Scott called "or just watching?"

"Jus' admirin' de view, cher!" Remy called back lightly. Scott's tee clung to him like a second skin, highlighting his muscles. Scott rolled his eyes. Gambit flirted with anything that moved. The thief was trotting over to help, in spite of his words. His trenchcoat parted to reveal jeans and a sweatshirt.

"Cold or shy?" Scott asked, taking stock of the outfit. Remy shrugged and tipped his head to the side. He looked uncannily like Jubilee for a second.

"Get cold easy. Y' gonna warm m' up?" he purred. He pulled on a pair of well-worn leather gloves. Scott shook his head.

"Southerners. You'd think it was the middle of December, not the beginning of fall."

"Just cuz y' ain' get de sense t' come in outta de cold," Remy began as he stacked the split logs carefully. "So where y' want dis put?"

"The family room, the library, the professor's office and the parlor."

"An' y' ain't called Rogue because?"

"She doesn't sit and watch me work. Don't worry, Logan's going to help."

"So y' ain't gonna keep m' warm?" Remy pouted.

"Nope. It's all up to you." The Cajun sighed tragically.

*****

"X-men scramble!"

Cyclops outlined the latest situations. "We've got a riot starting in Boston. Storm, Iceman and Psylocke, go. Take the jet." The small team left. "Rogue, Angel, Beast, you're backup. Gambit, Wolverine, with me. We've got a death threat against Graydon Creed. We need to keep it low-key at the rally."

"Who's tryin' fer the bastard this time?"

"Two independents."

"Damn. Outdoor or indoor?" Wolverine asked.

"Outdoor."

"Merde," Gambit muttered. "Why ain't we just letting' dis one go?" he asked as he tucked himself into the back of the jeep.

"Because it'll be blamed on mutants and give his campaigns more strength," Scott explained patiently. He reminded himself once more that Gambit was not one of their normal recruits.

"Y' gonna cheat some hardworkin' assassin of work." Wolverine glanced back at the younger man. He got the feeling that there was actual disapproval under the light tone.

"A pro ain't gonna threaten. He'd just do him."

"Oui, she would. Amateurs ruin de good work f' de rest of de profession." Gambit shook his head. "Like a petty t'ief dat ain't not'in' better'n a thug. Dey leave witnesses an' bodies all over de place. So, how we runnin' dis?"

"Wolverine and I'll run the perimeter. You mingle and check out the main crowd. Use the coms to keep in contact." The rally was typical. The raised platform was covered by posters and balloons. The crowd was liberally sprinkled with supporters in Creed shirts and buttons.

"Mon pere laugh himself sick t' see m' like dis," Remy commented into the com. He was attracting his fair share of appreciative attention, but he ignored it, except for the occasional smile. He pocketed several phone number and business cards, along with more than one wallet as he wandered through the crowd.

"Stay alert," was Cyclops' only comment.

"Sniper. Stage right. The big elm. Above the camera crew," Wolverine stated.

"Got him," Cyke said taking aim. He knocked the branch out from under the would be assassin, dropping him practically on top of the news crew. Security swarmed over him as Creed took the stage and the attention with a well timed joke.

He was halfway into his speech when Gambit reported, "Second row. Two heavies. Armed. Could be security… or not," he said as one of them pulled out his gun. Gambit's throwing knife caught the back of the man's shooting wrist and the gun fell. Immediately, the second thug spun to confront the threat. Creed's security subdued him as Gambit slipped toward the back of the crowd, surprisingly invisible.

"X-men don't kill," Cyclops reminded Gambit.

"De man'll live. Probably won' be usin' his hand much, but he live. Coulda gone f' de t'roat. We stop at de store f' a minute?"

"What do you need?" Scott asked glancing at him in the rearview mirror.

"Tell y' later," Remy lied as he popped out of the barely stopped car.

"He frightens me," Scott said. Logan grinned.

"Yer the one that wanted a pet thief," he reminded the younger man.

"And he's useful. It's his attitude that disturbs me."

"The flirtin'?"

"No. The lack of concern for his own life."

"He still thinks he's gonna live ferever. He'll get better." Gambit settled back into his seat with two bouquets of flowers and a bag.

"Okay. We can go."

"Great." Scott rolled his eyes.

*****

Gambit filled the crystal vase in the front hall with fresh flowers. Scott shook his head and the younger man pulled out one of the painted daisies. He shook water off the stem. He tucked it behind a startled Scott's ear. He grinned. "Goin' down t' de com room. Y' goin' t' come wit'?" Scott shook his head.

"I've got paperwork to do." Gambit rolled his eyes.

Scott looked at the front hall. No one had bothered to fill the vase since Jean's death. His heart didn't hurt quite as badly when he though of her now. "Time really does fly, doesn't it, Red?" he asked the air. He put the flower in his top buttonhole and went to his office.

*****

Rogue was ready to scream. Did the man not know how to shut up? She wondered. "Sugah, shut up."

"Sorry, chere," he said slumping down in the chair he'd taken over. Warren shook his head. He knew the thief was worried about Storm, but he still wanted to gag him. The silence only lasted about a minute. "So what's a boy like y' doin' in a place like dis, Ange?"

"Xavier recruited me." Remy suppressed an irritated sigh.

"An' where is dis Xavier?"

"Outer space," Warren told him.

"Right." Rogue smiled at the sarcasm.

"He's the consort of Empress Lilandra of the Shi'ar. And he's in space spending time with her."

"Tell Blue to get the med-lab prepped. Storm collapsed," Bobby's voice informed them.

"On it," Warren said. Gambit had gone completely still. "Hank, incoming. Storm."

"It will be ready." Rogue reached over and pulled the unlit cigarette from Remy's mouth. He started to chew on his ponytail. His eyes flashed when she gently moved it out of his mouth. He turned into the touch on his cheek.

"Calm down, hon. She probably just pushed too hard."

*****

"She should be fine after some rest," Hank assured Remy and then reported to the rest of the team that was hovering outside the med-lab. Scott lingered a moment after the rest and Hank's brow narrowed. He glanced over his shoulder and had to smile. Gambit was stroking Storm's hair gently. He refused to leave the room after that. Scott sent Bobby down with two plates of food. Gambit picked at his food. Nothing Hank said could ease his worry. He just wanted his Stormy to wake up so he could take her to her room.

Gambit hated the med-lab. The antiseptic smell stung his nose and brought back too many bad memories. He carefully bundled his panic and threw it down, covering it more firmly with his current mask. Hank was watching him as he was reflected in the darkened monitor. Gambit had not consented to a physical and Hank desperately wanted to know why.

Storm's eyes fluttered open. She patted the hand that was stroking her. "Bonjour, Petite. Y' have a nice sleep?" its owner greeted her.

"How did we get home?"

"De icicle flew de plane. Y' shoulda seen Cyke pacin' de hanger until his bebe was restin' in her place."

"I can well imagine. I do not remember being ill."

"Y' fainted, Stormy. Tol' y' 'bout usin' lightenin' wit'out eatin'," he chided her.

"Yes, brother. You have. I did not overtax my powers. And do not call me Stormy."

"Den why m' Stormy faint?" he asked her in concern.

"I do not remember fainting."

"People do not always remember blacking out," Hank informed her with a smile. "You gave us all a scare, Ororo. If you'll excuse us, Gambit," Hanks said firmly. The thief pouted, but he complied with the request.

Scott found him sulking in the waiting room. "Hank said that Storm woke up?"

"Oui. But she say dat it weren't her powers dat made her faint. Now Bete be givin' her a physical an' he won' let Remy in 'til he's done."

"And you're worried." It wasn't a question. Remy favored him with a small frown. He nodded. Then, he was on his feet.

"Somet'in's wrong. If Stormy didn' just get tired an' she don' remember what happened, den what did happen?" he asked. "An' if dis ain' just her not eatin'. Den what is it? What if she more sick dan she act? What if dere somet'in' really wrong? What if dere was a problem wit' gettin' her int' her real body? What if dere was some damage done by de de-agin'?"

"What if you're overreacting?" Scott asked reasonably. Remy scowled at him, but couldn't hold it. He was tiring himself out with worrying. He leaned against the wall and slid down it until he was sitting, curled up on the floor. He leaned his head on his knees.

"Could be," Remy admitted. "Mais, don' like docteurs me."

"Hank's a good guy," Scott reassured. He'd settled in one of the chairs close enough to talk to, but not to touch, Gambit. He's young, Scott decided. He may not admit it, but he's just a kid. He's younger than Bobby I think. Then, Remy looked right at him.

"Dey all say dat. It ain't rational, y' know," Remy said sourly. "Jus' took a lot t' get me better last time I seen a docteur." He rolled his eyes.

"At least you know you're being irrational. That's a switch." Remy looked up at him through his bangs.

"Enough dat y' be willin' t' get m' somet'in' t' drink?" he asked sweetly. Scott had to laugh.

"Depends. Are you legal?"

"Oui, cher. In de States even," he finished. "Logan ain't never asked."

"Logan's not American. And he isn't the one that'd get arrested for corrupting a minor. At the moment this is supposedly my place."

"Y' want ID?" Remy asked, tilting his head to the side.

"As if I could trust it?" Scott left before he heard the return volley from that. He returned a few minutes later with a six pack. "I thought I'd bring extra supplies, in case we're here for awhile. What? You didn't think I was going to wait for Hank's report?" Remy didn't answer that one, but held out his hand for a beer. "No," Scott said shaking his head, "get off of your ass and come get it." Remy pouted, but Scott wasn't buying it. He knew if he held out the younger man would at least come half-way to get the beer. Gambit sighed and leaned forward on his knees to catch the bottle from Scott's fingers. He settled back down against the wall.

Hank was startled when he opened the door. He hadn't expected Scott. At least not a two and one half beers snappy Scott. "So, Dr. Frankenstein, what is the verdict?" he asked with a pleasant smile that Hank recognized as bordering on dangerous.

"She overtaxed herself. She fainted because she didn't eat lunch because she was too taken up with her flowers." Hank kept the report short in hopes of forestalling a Scott swiping.

"It took you two hours to determine that?" Hank nodded.

"She was not a forthcoming patient. No one in this house is."

"If you didn't insist upon testing us upon each whim," Storm pronounced as she stepped past his bulk, "perhaps we would be more accommodating. Come, brother, walk me to my room." Storm held out her hand and Remy tucked her hand into the crook of his arm. He left Hank and Scott to discuss what Hank had been up to. At that moment, Scott was the last thing on his mind.

*****

"Hank? What's going on?"

"From what I can ascertain, Ororo is physically fine. She merely fainted. I believe it was due to a lack of food this morning. However, she had become as recalcitrant as her newly appointed brother about telling me what is wrong."

"Well, they spend enough time together. Rogue said he nearly drove her and Warren nuts this afternoon and when the report came back that Storm had collapsed, he was inconsolable."

"I noticed. I had to force him to eat and then to leave. He wouldn't have left if he hadn't been looking out for Storm's modesty." Scott snorted. "Well, you and I know that she doesn't have any such compunctions against showing flesh, but he is obviously not comfortable with her preferences."

"Maybe seeing her grow up overnight did it?" Scott suggested with a bland smile.

"Perhaps. I still believe there is more to what happened today. Perhaps it was a residual reaction to the Shadow King mess. I will review her EEG. Excuse me, Fearless."

"Whatever." Scott gathered up the beer bottles and headed for the kitchen. He ran into Logan. "Here." He handed him the last full bottle. Logan blinked.

"Thanks. What's up, Cyke?"

"Hmmm? Nothing." Logan followed the younger man into the kitchen where he put the bottles into the recycling, finished off his beer and set to washing the dishes.

"Nothing? How's Ro?"

"She's fine. She didn't eat before she left."

"It took Hank two hours to figure that out?" Logan asked.

"Yep." Okay, so Scott was in that kind of mood. He would only answer the question you asked. It wasn't as if he were being rude to you, but he just would not elaborate unless you asked for more information. Logan sighed.

"Why were ya drinkin' with the Cajun?"

"Because he was waiting for the report and so was I."

"That ain't an answer."

"Isn't it?" Scott asked, pleased. "Cool."

"Tell me ya ain't drunk on three beers."

"Okay. I'm not drunk. I'm just pleasantly buzzed." Logan snorted.

"All right, Slim. I'll leave ya alone."

"Why?" Scott asked. Logan was shocked to hell and back that he could manage to pull that tone of voice off with a straight face.

"Ya gotta stop playing games with the thief. He'll stop flirtin' if ya stop encouragin' him."

Scott looked over his shoulder with a frown. "What's your problem? He stopped flirting with you ages ago. Everyone knows he flirts with Bobby because he blushes."

"I don't wantcha gettin' hurt's all."

"Logan, I'm a big boy. I think I can handle it. It's fun. And there's at least one person who doesn't treat me as if I've got a huge 'hands off' sign over my head. If I didn't know better I'd say the professor programmed you all."

"What do ya mean?"

"How many times have I been asked along on anything resembling an outing for pub crawling? By any of my 'best' friends since I came back?"

Logan shrugged.

"Twice." He blinked.

"Naw, I dragged ya out of here more than that."

"I don't count you as my best friend." Scott dodged the swipe. "But that's just it, Logan. I haven't been out on the town with Warren or Bobby or Hank or even Rogue or Storm since the separation. What's wrong with me?" Scott's drunks never lasted long, especially when they were just buzzes. His body processed the alcohol too quickly, moreso if he did anything.

"Nothin' that I can see. Slim, they don't know what to ask. And ya been pretty cold…"

"Cold? You have no clue how cold I can be. And damn it, I've known Warren since I was a teenager. Hell, he knows exactly what I'm capable of. Maybe that's the problem. You mind finishing these off? I'm gonna take something for my head."

"Sure," Logan said snagging the towel that was tossed at him. Scott left. A few minutes later, the Cajun was in to get something light for Storm to eat before she went to bed. "Gumbo, sit down."

"Later, Claws. Stormy's stomach's growlin' louder'n y' do."

"That weren't a suggestion."

"Y' talk t' Remy while he's makin' up a plate."

"Fine. Don't mess Cyke over. Got it?"

"We bot' know what we're doin'. It's fun. Either declare or get off de fuckin' field," Gambit said sharply. "I ain't gonna pass up de chance t' flirt wit' him just cuz de rest of y' are too damn scared t' see if he's gonna break." The thief stormed out of the room with the plate of fruit. Logan dried off the rest of the dishes.

*****

Scott caught Remy by the collar. He ignored the wet hair that fell over his hand as the younger man twisted in the grip. He shook the thief slightly. "We need to talk," he stated. He dragged him into his office. He shut the door and flipped the lock. It was soundproofed, due to the fact that the most explosive arguments had always happened there, as well as discussions no one wanted to share. The lock would keep the rest of them out of his hair for awhile. Remy was trying to pull off puppy-dog eyes, but Scott was ignoring him. "Sit down."

"What Remy do?" Gambit asked as he settled in the visitor's chair. Scott didn't sit behind his desk. He took the second chair.

"Don't pull that shit with me, Cajun. You aren't back woods anymore than I am."

"What y' talkin' 'bout, Fearless?" Remy purred.

"This back woods, uneducated bullshit of a mask you keep trying to pull off. You might have Warren and Bobby and some of the others conned, but it's not working on me. I heard you quoting at Logan today." Scott wasn't prepared for the stiffening shoulders.

"What y' mean?" Remy blinked.

"You were quoting Sun Tzu. And you quoted Machiavelli the other day. So I'm not letting you pretend that you've never seen the inside of a book." The thief's mouth tightened. "Why do you insist on being less than you are?"

"Y' don't know what y' talkin' on, cher. It ain't an act. So I read some. Dat ain't a crime. Ain't a crime t' have an accent."

"I never said it was. You're acting stupid and it's getting on my nerves. I know you aren't the piece of fluff you seem to have everyone here believing. Even Logan's starting to doubt the pose and he's been convinced you aren't anything but smoke and flashpowder since the first week you got here." Remy chewed at his lip.

"It's simple, Cyke. I'm sure y' can figure it out," Remy stated. The accent was softening a bit. "You've read the same books I have." It softened into something of a sweet drawl. It wasn't like Rogue's. It was cultured, but still a Southern purr.

"Making your enemies underestimate you. Yeah, I understand that, but we aren't your enemies."

"Are you so sure of that?" Remy purred, leaning forward. "No one here trusts me to walk through a store alone for God's sake. I ain't a klepto, damn it. I'm a thief. Yes, I'm against paying for things I don't have t', but I'm not about to steal the grocer blind. I'm a pro, and even Miss Raven's daughter doesn't seem t' get that. Warren wants me in handcuffs and Bobby doesn't know what t' do with me. Stormy and Rogue, well they're easier. And that little British bitch and I probably ain't ever going to get along anywhere but the practice mats. Logan," Remy shrugged. "He ain't exactly comfortable t' be around."

"So you try to piss him off? Or irritate him because you know he isn't into playing games?"

"Not my kind of games," Remy smirked and settled back.

"So not all of it's an act," Scott said, leaning back into his chair.

"That's for me to know."

"Do me a favor."

"Quoi?"

"Don't pull this bullshit during reports. And don't piss off Logan. Thieves are hard to find."

"Y' ain't gonna tell are y'?" Remy asked, suddenly shy.

"No, but I'm not going to let you get away with conning me. As far as I'm concerned you can treat everyone else like cat toys. I indulge every so often, but don't come crying to me when this blows up in your face and you find yourself alone. Rogue is not big on playacting."

"And who said I gave a damn about the femme? She's fun t' flirt with, but she ain't my type. She's just a child." He tapped his forehead. "She's just a lil' girl when it comes t' love. An' Stormy, she knows me well enough. She trusts m'."

"Don't hurt her too badly. She's just a child. No one's ever pursued her. Bobby had a crush on her, but they never did anything about it. He was too… scared to ask her out." Remy nodded. "Just for school records, did you graduate high school?"

Remy scowled. "Oui, high school. Got my BA in Art History. And if you tell anyone I'll find a way to make sure Warren knows just where that bottle of Crème de menthe went the other day." Scott blinked. He felt his lips quirk up into a smile and tried to force them down.

"Possession is nine tenths of the law. It was in my liquor cabinet as of three days ago, that means it's mine. He'll never believe you."

"Non, but he'll believe Hank." Scott's eyes narrowed.

"True. And just how would you pass this information on to Hank?"

"I'm not going t' let you in on all my scheming."

"Since you're so interested in my ill gotten gains, do you want a drink?"

"Oui, that brandy you've got hidden in the back left corner would be nice." Scott laughed. He poured the brandy and poured himself a whiskey. He passed the snifter over.

"And what shall we drink to?"

Remy considered. "T' rich kids that ain't got the sense God gave a horse?"

"To Warren then." They clinked glasses.

*****

"Gambit?"

"Oui, Scotty?"

"What are you watching?"

Gambit gulped and glanced at the screen that was thankfully on a commercial. "Not'in' dat interest y', cher."

"Just answer the question."

"Battlestar Galactica marathon, an' if I can manage t' stay awake, de Star Trek marathon."

"If I hear one, just one, reference to either show and I will have to hurt you."

"By your command, Imperious Leader." Scott lunged across the back of the couch and grabbed a throw pillow.

"I'm armed."

"Remy'll be good. There's more popcorn in de kitchen."

"Good." Scott was just out the door when he heard Remy's voice drift back.

"Red-eye."

"Just remember, I can make sure you don't get out of the security room for the next three weeks."

"Connard!"

"And I do speak enough French to know what that means!" Scott shouted back from the kitchen. He let the door close behind himself and rustled through the cupboards. He located the stash of Mountain Dew that Bobby didn't know he had, and grabbed a bowl of ice. He hummed under his breath as he sought out the wheat thins, and the potato chips he'd hidden under the sink. Logan blinked as he came into the room. He raised a brow.

"Whatcha up to, Cyke?"

"Watching horrible retro sci-fi and eating until I make myself sick."

"Okay. Have fun," Logan said rolling his eyes as he opened the refrigerator. "I'm guessin' Gumbo's got somethin' to do with this?"

"Maybe. Maybe not. Why do you care?" Scott asked defensively. "Just because you and the rest of the male population of the house don't like him."

"He's a pain in the ass, Slim."

"No way. You're mistaking him for Warren."

Logan couldn't help but laugh at that statement. "Just be careful. Ya start flirtin' with him and yer gonna get burned," he predicted.

"Logan, I am not an idiot. I know he's just out for a little fun. I don't mind flirting. I've told you that before. Besides, he's great for pissing off Warren," Scott's smile was wicked. "And he's more than willing to do what I want to get at the brat prince."

"Thought ya were supposed to be worried about the team."

"That doesn't mean that I don't have personal agendas too," Scott stated. "I'll see you later."

*****

"No, there's gotta be something more to Apollo than meets the eye, or Starbuck wouldn't have anything to do with him." Scott rearranged his legs on the coffeetable and reached for the popcorn bowl.

"And the fact that he's the Commander's son ain't enough?"

"No way. Not for them to be friends to the point where Starbuck's almost adopted into the family."

"Oui," Remy admitted, "y' have a point. But what about Chameleon?"

"What about him? No one knew anything about him until one of the writers suddenly got the urge to give Starbuck a family. What are the odds that his father would survive that slaughter?"

"His papa's a con artist. Of course he survived." Remy rolled his eyes. "That's a part of the breed. But Spock and Kirk got along and Kirk's gotta be as bad as Starbuck. Especially t' y' logical types," the thief said with a wave of his hand.

"Was that just a slam? I think I'm being insulted some how."

"When y' figure it out, y' call m', cher."

"No need. I'll just hit you in advance," Scott said. Then, he smacked the younger man with the throw pillow he'd been keeping close at hand.

"Hey! That ain't fair."

"Never said it was," Scott agreed. He chomped on his popcorn and frowned at the screen. "Kill 'em all!" he cheered. "You know, the Cylons remind me of something… oh yeah, sentinels."

"Merde, that could ruin de whole show. Why y' have t' be sayin' dings like dat, cher?"

"Because I'm a killjoy. Just ask Hank. I hate commercials. The middle of a dogfight and they're putting in commercials. There's a serious wealth distribution problem here."

"So, what you're sayin' is that y' want Remy t' buy up the air time t' show the whole marathon with only intermissions?"

"That would work. Just how much are you worth anyway?"

"Ask Ange about Nightwind Inc. Y' need another drink, cher?"

"I'm fine. Merci."

"Bien." Remy settled against the front of the couch, leaning his head back onto the seat so he could stretch his legs out under the table. Scott found himself petting the Cajun's hair.

"Pass me the chips?"

"Sure." Remy handed the bowl over after grabbing a handful. "Gonna be sick tomorrow. I can see it now."

"That is the whole point."

Remy grinned up at Scott. "And they say y're a stick in the mud."

"I am not a stick in the mud."

"Most of the time y' are."

"How can *you* of all people say that?"

"Because I see y' the most. So, who y' t'ink y' are in the show?"

"I'm the Imperious Leader of course. Or maybe just a Cylon." Scott shrugged.

"Not Apollo? Don' t'ink of Xavier as y' papa? Y' not on a grand mission wit' a rag-tag fleet? Hell, y'all let m' hang around here. Figure that's what it's got t' be. Tryin' t' save the mutant race."

Scott looked down at the younger man. "You take television far too seriously."

"Non, cher, Papa always said that there's a reason why y' get attracted t' t'ings be dey television, radio, books or gems."

"Above and beyond 'ooh, shiny?'"

"Oui. I figure I like Star Trek 'cause it's an adventure an' no one hates nobody. An' dey all can work t'get'er t' fly t' the stars. And there ain't no homeless or poor or sick. Galactica appeals t' m' now dat I'm older. Seein' people pullin' t'gether t' fight f' somethin', anythin' because anythin's got t' be better'n what they was livin' with. There's hope that the future's gonna be better, but not that it's gonna be overnight. And they keep goin' even when they lose people they care about. It's more real."

Scott's hand dropped to pet Remy's bangs as he considered it. "I guess I can see that. It makes sense. I don't tend to think about television as anything other than mindless entertainment. When'd you lose your hope, Cajun?"

"When m' family negotiated t' just have me banished instead of killt at 18 f' defendin' m' wife's honor," Remy said. Then, he slapped his hand over his mouth. "Y' didn't hear that."

"Of course not. How Romeo and Juliet was your life?"

"Got all of it. Warrin' families. Plots t' join them t'gether and stop the slaughter. Killin' t' protect honor. Didn't get t' the suicide bits. And Bella ain't gonna leave her family, but I figure it's close enough."

*****

"Is it just me or is Gambit turning into more of a flirt?" Bobby asked. He was watching said flirt twist a lock of Rogue's hair around his finger. He was sitting on the floor and looking up at her with adoring eyes. She laughed at something he said and he put a hand to his heart. She shook her head. She pushed his hand away from her thigh. He turned to the man who was sitting on the other end of the couch, quite happily engrossed in his book. He pulled on Scott's pant cuff and complained about the treatment he was getting from Rogue. He held out his hand for inspection.

Scott inspected the hand and shook his head. Remy pouted. Hank sighed. "Yes, Gambit is becoming more of a flirt, but I am convinced it is merely because he is being encouraged by our Fearless Leader and the Mississippi Marauder."

*****

"Oh, Swamp Rat, that was inspired. Does he even *know* you're flirtin' with him yet?"

"Non, chere. I don't t'ink he does. Well, I don't t'ink he t'inks it's serious. But we're spendin' more time together. Hand m' the lo mein."

"Here. But, why is he puttin' us on security detail t'gether then?"

"Cuz we work well t'gether. An' mebbe ole Remy, he suggested it? Back when Fearless asked him t' work on the upgrades. Now, look at his room. Ain't that a cryin' shame. All alone when he got t'ree people more'n willin' t' keep him company."

Rogue snickered. "Is Logan admitting to anythin'?"

"Don't have t'. Remy, he just *knows* when folks are in love. Good ole lust ain't bad neither, eh, chere?" He leered at her.

"Oh, sugah, don't get me thinkin' like that or I'll have ya on your knees like Mama's been tellin' me to do."

"An' mebbe it be time f' Roguie t' listen t' her mama. All in fun. No strings?" Remy offered.

She looked at him, considering, judging with bright green eyes. "No, sugah. Not t'night. But I ain't gonna say no forevah. Ya better be serious."

His smile vanished and he stared into her eyes. "Deadly serious, Annabelle."

She jumped a little at the use of her real name, but nodded. "Good."

*****

Gambit leaned against the couch as he contemplated his next move. Granted, Stratego wasn't chess, but he still wasn't going to lose easily. The mansion was very quiet. Half of the team was in Chicago. Hank was in the lab with Bobby playing Igor. Logan was visiting Jubilee in Boston for a partners' night out.

Scott and Remy had decided to forgo the normal lights. Candles flickered on the window sill, to either side of the game board and in the fireplace, filling the room with soft shifting light. It was as close to a romantic scene as Scott was willing to get. The remains of take-out Chinese were residing in the fridge.

The conversation had ranged from architecture, Scott's secret passion, to security systems, to fishing, to marriage, to literature. Scott had felt strange when he'd first pulled out the much used board games, but alternating between Risk and Stratego had led to a conversation about battle tactics and planning, not to mention an assignment or two for Gambit to pursue.

So, when, after a moment's comfortable silence, Gambit asked, "Why don't my eyes bother you?" Scott was willing to answer.

"Why would they?"

"Dey're red and black?"

"Everyone I know has red eyes, Remy. I only see in red."

"Really? I didn't think…. . . why ain't your eyes adjusted to the tint?"

"Well, there are a few possibilities. The brain damage that makes it impossible for me to completely control my powers might have affected my ability to filter out the tint, but we aren't sure. Hank designed a suppression collar when we were much younger that lets me see without my powers, but it's too bulky to wear.

"Bobby thinks it has to do with my beams bouncing back into my eyes after the quartz stops them, but I'm not so sure about that because the one time Jean held the beams in and I could see just fine."

"Using TK?" Remy moved a piece.

"Yes, why?"

"Just thinkin'. Maybe you could see fine because she held the beams closer to your eyes. Maybe contacts or implant would do the same thing."

"I'm not getting eye surgery. I absorb solar energy. That may have something to do with my optics. If I'm converting energy through my skin, why not my eyes?" Scott shrugged. "Who knows? How did this end up being about my eyes?"

"You answered my question."

"Why did you ask?"

"It's rare t' find someone who ain't creeped out by the eyes of le diablo blanc."

"Translation?"

"The white devil. Demon-spawn. All dat." Remy waved a hand. Scott moved a piece.

"Who called you that?"

"Who didn'? Even mon pere calls me 'demon-chile.' Least he ain't out t' hurt moi."

"Your own father?"

"Ain't like I’'m blood or somethin'. What is the big deal?"

"You're adopted?"

"Oui. So? Stormy's an orphan too. An' Rogue. Logan's petite Jubilee as well."

"And me." Remy blinked.

"Logan said you were on the streets, but I thought you ran."

"I did. From the orphanage when I was eight. More wine?"

"Oui. Pegged you as a later runner."

"More therapy." Scott drawled. "Charles very kindly informed me that breaking into a government facility was a federal offense, and that he could keep me from going to prison if I did as he said. Part of that was at least nine months of therapy. I paid off my shrink and did my homework at his office."

Remy laughed. "Sneaky. I approve."

"And we all know I live for your approval."

"Maybe you should." Remy's smile was lecherous.

Scott reached across the table and flicked his nose. "Watch it."

"Doncha like Remy? Even a lil'?" Remy batted his lashes. Scott snickered.

"Rem, you're turning out to be one of the best friends I've got at the moment," he answered seriously. Remy looked up at him shyly.

"Merci, Scotty."

*****

The next day was clear and warm. The evening was still humid with the lingering dampness that indicates a storm is building.

"Come on, Cajun. We're going out," Scott stated.

"Gotta clean up." Remy was cleaning the van's spark-plugs. There was a streak of grease on his cheek and more on his hands.

"You look fine to me."

"Liar."

"I've always thought of it as one of my better qualities. Ingrained training from one long term friendship with a woman and a year of marriage."

"Oui, I lie t' Bella too. Course, she takes it outta m' hide, but it's fun."

"You look fine enough to go to Harry's. It's not like we're going into the city or something."

"I got a reputation t' uphold, Scotty. Give me ten?"

"Five."

"Fine."

"I'm counting." Gambit scrambled out of the garage and up to his room. He made it in six minutes. He held his arms up for applause. Scott snorted. "Well, considering you always show up late, I'll take what I can get." He was leaning against Warren's car tossing the keys into the air. Gambit snagged them in mid-air and slid into the driver's seat of the convertible. "You little brat," Scott said swiping at him as he got in. "I'll get you for that."

"So, where too?"

Scott blinked. Despite his complaints on the subject, he was still disconcerted when the Cajun accent disappeared. Honey-sweetened southern whisky, however pretty, was just odd to hear. "Harry's."

"Non, for real. You want to go drinkin'?"

"Yes."

"Then you're going to have to trust me."

"I don't think I've ever been quite this scared in my entire life." Scott locked his seatbelt in place and they peeled out of the garage. He could almost hear Warren's voice as the rubber squealed on the driveway.

*****

"So, you're dating the Cajun?" Warren asked over breakfast the next day.

"If I say 'yes' will you shut up?" Scott growled.

"Probably not," Bobby answered for him. Scott ignored them for the rest of his breakfast and escaped to his office.

*****

Gambit finally appeared around noon. "So," Rogue said, "what did you and Cyke get up to last night, sugah?"

"Tryin' t' drink our wives off our minds. Did okay. Can't dink of much beyond de t'robbin' behind m' eyes."

"Nevah seen ya with a hangover before," Rogue giggled. "Cyke's in his office. Just as badly off Ah think."

"Merci, cher."

*****

"What exactly did we do last night?" Scott was beginning to appreciate the roof. It was quiet. The sun warmed the roofing tiles. The view was nice.

"Drank." Remy answered. "Lots. Dieu, ain't been this hung over in… well, never been this hungover."

"I think I was once. Tried to match Logan drink for drink."

"An' you're alive?"

"I was drinking beer."

"Ouch."

"Yeah. I'll give you three days to stop that." Remy's fingers pressed into the knot of muscle at the back of Scott's neck. Scott was laid out on his stomach, eyes resting on his folded arms.

"You like that, cher?"

"Yeah. That knot's been there for years."

"You gonna let Remy take you away from all this?" The knot loosened a bit and Remy's hands glowed as he warmed them with his powers.

"Never again. I've left twice. I'm a complete bust at not being on a team."

"How's that feeling?"

"Wonderful. Where'd you learn that?"

"I don't remember." Remy continued down Scott's back. "You're just a bundle of pain ain't y'?" Remy shook his head, then froze until the pain faded.

"Yeah. I suppose I am." Scott tensed as Gambit straddled his legs.

"Calm down, cher. Just gettin' a better position for my back."

*****

"Well?" Bobby asked Rogue as she landed from her observations.

"Gambit's givin' Cyke a backrub. All straight forward. He did the same for me."

"Damn."

*****

Remy bore down on the overly tense muscles of Scott's back. Carefully, Scott removed his glasses and set them on the roof. "If those fall, you're dead."

"Don't worry y'self so much. That's how y' get so tense."

"Your hands feel really warm. I didn't think it was that cold out."

"Kinetic charge, not just f' bombs anymore."

"Huh?"

"If I get all the cells excited in the same way it feels like they're burnin'. I charge the dead cells of m' hands an' not'in' more. That's what makes 'em hot. Then the heat transfers, but the charge don't."

"That almost made sense."

Remy snorted and let it go. He worked down the rest of the spine and shifted so he was over the man's knees.

"Don't fall off the roof."

"Y' worry too much, cher. I ain't gonna fall." He continued his massage working on the tense muscles in the small of Scott's back. He stroked the lean ass appreciatively for a second, then went to work with the impersonal touch of a professional. Thighs and calves were next. He smiled as he heard a small snore.

*****

"Logan, mon ami, can I talk t' y'?"

Wolverine paused with a growl. He glared at the Cajun. "Make it fast, Gumbo."

"Y' noticed Cyke comin' outta Betsy's room more often lately or non?"

Logan blinked. "Why ya askin' me, kiddo?"

"Because y' been watchin' f' longer'n me. I just been wonderin' because it don't seem normal f' him. They don' act like lovers. So is it just sex or what?"

Logan stalked off towards the back porch. The kid followed him like a yapping puppy. Logan snarled, but the Cajun wasn't going to be put off that easily.

"Remy done fought wit' Creed several times, cher. An' Chatton, he still ain't been able t' kill me. Y' don' scare me, Logan. Just answer the question."

"It's gotta be just sex, kid. Scott ain't in love with Bets and anyone with two eyes can see it. And it's quickies too. I know fer a fact that Cyke takes more'n an hour with his frails."

"Y' watch him an' his girl that often?"

Logan couldn't help but flush. "Yeah. Just keep yer pretty mouth shut or I'll do it fer ya."

"So y' like m' mouth?"

"Only when it's shut."

"Rwow, cher. Pull in y'r claws. So, it's just sex? Didn' t'ink he was int' that."

"He's not." Logan snorted. "If I didn't know better, I'd say she was controllin' him. But she's got a boyfriend. I don't see why."

"Mebbe she wants t' screw the boss?"

"Like you do?"

"Non, I'm int' responsive partners. Don' need dolls."

Logan snickered softly.

"Merci, Logan."

"Why don't ya just ask Slim about it? Ya spend enough time with him."

Remy winced. "I know y're jealous, homme. I know. But I ain't put the moves on him. We're just friends. I flirt wit' him, but so do y'. If y' want him, just talk t' him," Remy said. He put a hand on Logan's shoulder. "I'm bein' serious here, Logan. Just talk t' the boy if y' want him. I been good. Y' been after him f' longer'n me. But I can't hold out f'ever. He's just gettin' more interestin'."

"He's just a shiny object fer ya, Cajun. It'll fade," Logan counseled.

"Non, homme, don' t'ink he is, but he's y'rs and I ain't that much of a t'ief."

"He ain't mine, kid. He ain't nobody's."

"Why not, homme? Why not? Y' could have him. All y' got t' do it act on it."

"Why ya got a bug up yer ass about this?" Logan snapped.

"Because y' get jealous every time I touch him and y' glare at me when I flirt. And I'm gettin' sick of holdin' back on my heart because y' won't make a fuckin' move!" Remy subsided, eyes dropping. "Just tell him, Logan. He ain't gonna hate y'. He ain't gonna get mad. Mebbe he won't fuck y', but that ain't the end of the world. At least y' won't spend the rest of y'r life wonderin' if he loves y' or not. And if he dies y' won't feel guilty that y' never told him."

"I'll think about it. Ya just keep yer snout out of my business. Ya hear me?"

"D'accord, Logan. Just don't wait too long. Y' both be hurtin' and it makes me sick t' watch it."

Remy spun on his heel and left before Logan could respond.

*****

Betsy eyed the Cajun on her bed with narrowed eyes. "What do you want, Gambit?"

"T' know why y' don' just buy a vibrator. Dat's gotta be easier den controllin' someone's mind every time y' need a lil' attention."

"That lacks the personal touch."

"A blow up doll?" She rolled her eyes. "Or y' could jus' screw y' boyfriend."

"Jealousy? From the slut? What is the world coming to? And who knows about our little secret?" she cooed, running a finger down his cheek.

"No one. Yet."

"And what does my little blackmailer want?"

"Stay away from Scott."

"Staking your claim? I didn't see a ring."

"I don' like it when spooks abuse dier powers. If y' try it again, I shut y' down, Bitch."

"I don't think so." She focussed on him and prepared to wipe his memory.

She howled in agony and collapsed. The X-men came running. Betsy was unconscious and Remy's eyes were wide and dazed. "What happened?" Scott snapped at the thief. "Bobby, call Hank. Rogue, call Emma." Gambit didn't respond. Scott slapped him and he blinked awake.

The Cajun looked up at Scott with teared up eyes and a pout. He touched the red mark on his cheek with a sniff.

"Can it. What happened?"

"Tried t' mind wipe m'. M' shields didn' like dat. She's lucky dat Gambit knows her. Killt a 'path once," he said cheerfully. "Got nasty shields, me."

"What did you do?" Warren demanded, grabbing Gambit by the lapels. "Told y' bitch t' stop brainwashin' Fearless into sleepin' wit' her." That stopped the entire room. "And just how did you come to that conclusion?" Warren asked in icy tones .

"De woman's a sexual predator." Remy scowled. "De glazed shine on Scotty's eyes after dey finish up. Ain't no way dat a ten minute fuck's dat good. 'Specially wit' a woman who's got no sense of foreplay. Y' want an analysis of her technique?" Remy asked acidicly.

"We'll discuss this after we get Emma's analysis of what's happened here," Scott stated. Hank lifted the unconscious woman and carried her down to the lab. "Logan, keep and eye on the thief. Bobby, go keep Wings calm. Storm, set up a room for Emma."

*****

Gambit was fidgeting again. It had to be because of the med-lab, Logan decided. And the fact that Warren wanted to put a suppression collar on the thief. Even Bobby thought that was excessive. He'd been wondering about Scott and brainwashing explained things neatly. There was no way Slim would sleep with a friend's lover.

Emma had been studying Betsy. She turned to Remy with a smile. She put out her hands. "Come along. Let me see those shields, Little Boy." He hesitantly set his hands in hers.

"Y' be careful now, chere. Ain't like I turn 'em on and off at will." Emma smiled.

"I'm just going to look. Unlike *some* people, I don't rush in without knowing what I'm going up against. Relax. I don't bite… unless you ask nicely." She winked at him.

"Y' bite. Y' do more interestin' dings too, Headmistress?" he purred at her.

"You are a naughty thing aren't you? Hmmm…" Her eyes went unfocussed and Gambit went completely still. The room was silent except for the steady beep of the heart monitor. It was almost fifteen minutes before Frost pulled back. Remy rubbed at his temples. "Utterly fascinating. You've got some psi capacity, but not enough to construct those shields. Who did it?"

"Y' wrong, chere. Dey been dere since I was a pup."

"I haven't seen a formation of that complexity before." She paused, considering.

"How long were you on the streets?"

"Depends on who y' believe about m' birt'day. Mon pere estimates five years. Remy dinks closer t' six." He shrugged.

"How old were you?"

"Somewhere between four an' six when Remy made it t' de streets. Why?"

"I'm trying to determine how a child could develop shields of this capacity. From what I can determine they reflected back the raw power, but not the intent with no loss of energy. But that was after they allowed her far enough in that she couldn't dodge the blow."

"A crawdad trap?" Rogue asked.

"More like a rabbit snare. She was held in what looks like a diamond shaped guillotine with serrated blades. If she had been using more force it would have shredded her mind. But she was trying for a pinpoint memory wipe. Therefore, she should make a full recovery." Emma sighed. "All levels of your shields are translucent except for the inner core. They're quite beautiful. And distracting. I almost got caught in three traps. What are the different colors for?" Remy blinked at her. He tried to bring his shield into his mind's eye, but if felt as if he were being bombarded by shards of broken glass. He shrugged.

"Colors mean a lot of dings, chere. Maybe I jus' liked de look. Y' tried t' probe, chere," he accused.

"And how do you know that?"

"M' head hurts. Like needles behind m' eyes."

"I didn't know Langley trained children."

"What y' talkin' about?"

"Nevermind." She turned to the X-men at large. "It was her own fault. You can't blame him for protecting himself. Now, Ororo said something about a room?"

"Ah'll take ya up," Rogue said. She glared at Warren.

"Can Gambit leave now?" Remy asked. He needed to lie down. Scott dismissed him with a glance towards Logan.

"Come on, Kid. I'll getcha somethin' to drink."

"Jus' wanna sleep a bit."

"Ya need to drink some juice first or the headache won't fade. Been through this before, kiddo. Trust me."

"Right," Remy snorted. "In y'r dreams, Wolvie."

"And don't call me Wolvie. By the way, if I find ya walkin' hand in hand wit' Jubes again, I'll skin ya."

"Oui, M. Logan. Arm in arm only. Got it." Logan shook his head and poured a healthy portion of orange juice.

"Drink up. Then I'll letcha lie down."

"Ooooh, y' gettin' all bossy, cher."

"Careful or I'll call Emma back."

"Dat might be interestin'."

"Thought ya were after Slim?"

Remy shrugged. "Don't know as he's interested in dat. At least not wit' Remy. He's fun t' talk t' dough. Like dat bit of it." Logan nodded in understanding.

"Rather have a friend than a lover."

"Ain't got many friends, Logan."

"I know." Logan grinned at the boy as he sipped the juice with a screwed up face.

"Blech."

"Just pretend it's medicine."

"Not comfortin'."

"Not meant to be." Remy sighed and drank down the juice. "Okay, go on upstairs."

*****

Emma Frost was impeccably dressed, as usual. She looked at Scott over steepled fingers. "What exactly do you want to know?"

"What sort of psi capacities does Gambit have?"

"From my first glance, I'd guess empathy. He's *not* a telepath. Empathy is tricky. It's harder to lie to an empath," she said with a smile. "And harder to say no to one. He has a remarkably naughty imagination. If I could borrow…. . . "

"The thief's mine, Frosty," Scott said cheerfully. "Find your own."

She sighed. "It never hurts to ask. I just wanted to see if he's actually that flexible."

"As long as he doesn't leave the property, feel free." She raised a brow. "I've been well-taught enough to share."

"How magnanimous. You haven't had him yet?" she asked suddenly.

"We're friends." Scott shrugged.

"Funny. I thought he was your lover. He wouldn't mind you know."

"I'm not into mindless sex."

Emma laughed. "So that's how he figured it out. If you won't screw him, why did you take Psylocke? Clever little flirt."

"Yes, he is. I'm assuming that since she tried to mindwipe him that the allegation is true. That being the case, I'd like you to make sure she didn't leave any residual suggestions implanted in my brain."

"Understandable. Close your eyes and lean back." She slipped through his opened shields. Nearly an hour later she was satisfied. "You're clean," she announced.

"Good. Thank you. Hey, Slick. What's up?" Gambit looked up from the book he had propped on the arm of the couch. He shrugged.

"Didn' want t' trade one problem f' anot'er." He nodded toward Emma. She smiled and crossed her legs.

"It was good for me," she stated, smoothing down her skirt. Gambit eyed her legs appreciatively, as did Scott.

"Nice boots," Remy said. "Italian?"

"Of course." She propped her booted foot on the desk, giving Scott a very good view of what she wasn't wearing beneath the knee-length white skirt. She ran a hand up the back of her knee-high boot. "All leather. Hand made." She crooked a finger at the thief. "Come. Feel them."

"In dat order?" he purred.

"What a bad little boy. Mommy will have to spank." He perched on the desk and lifted her foot by the heel. He ran his fingers down the seams. His fingers brushed her stockings.

"Leather. Silk. Just a lil' gold an' we get along fine, cher." She smiled wickedly. Scott cleared his throat.

"As interesting as this conversation is, maybe it could be taking place somewhere other than my office?" Two pairs of hurt eyes fixed on him.

"Y' take all de fun out of it den," Remy told him.

"Don't try to tell me you weren't enjoying yourself," Emma chided. She ran the toe of her boot up and down Gambit's thigh. "You know you want to watch."

"I'm not that possessive, Frost."

"Den y' want t' share her, mon ami?" Scott's jaw dropped.

"That could be *very* interesting," Emma said. She licked her lips.

"Gambit!" Scott snapped. The younger man pouted. His fingers stroked the booted foot idly.

"Don't be so… reserved, Summers," Emma scolded.

"I consider it self protection. I know what you like."

"I only bite when asked these days."

"Come on, Cyke, live a lil'."

"Drinking with Logan is dangerous enough."

"Why don' y' want t' play wit' Remy?"

Scott's smile was smug. "Because it drives him crazy."

"I'm taking both of you to lunch," Frost announced. "No arguments."

Scott opened his mouth to protest.

"I said no arguments." Scott shook his head.

"Emma."

"Scott."

"Scotty, shut up. Don' argue wit' de femme." Gambit leaned across the desk. "Besides," he said confidentially, "it's free food."

"Fine!" Scott threw up his hands. "But you're helping me with the bills tonight."

"Oui, Fearless."

*****

It was a few months later when Remy threw down his wrench with a loud clatter. Logan's lip lifted into a snarl. He hated the sound of metal on concrete and the kid knew it. Gambit stared at the Canadian. "Just say it, homme," he snapped. "I'm gettin' sick an' tired of dis jealously bullshit."

"I told ya not to do anythin' that might hurt Cyke."

"I ain't hurtin' him. I ain't never gonna hurt him. Listen here, homme, y' ain't done not'in' in a year. I tol' y' dis a few months back. Y' tell de boy dat y' in love wit' him and dat y' want him f' de rest of y' life an' Remy be glad enough t' stand aside. Y' ain't done dat yet. And y' can't say dat it's all po' Remy's fault neither. We take y' along wit' us. Y' two still go out an' drink t'gether. Dat's why I took on some of de boy's concerns in de first place. Get him out of de office an' hangin' out wit' his friends again. Y'all didn't do a good job of it. And y' still ain't told him. Dat's it. Dis is y' last chance, Wolverine. Y' go in dere right now, corner de boy and tell him dat y' love him an' dat y're stakin' a claim f' him. Tell him dat y' want him t' give y' a chance t' prove it. Y' do dat. Y' do it right now, and Remy'll stand aside. He ain't gonna give up bein' friends wit' him, but Remy respects prior claims and dat's what y' got."

Logan stared at him for a long time, eyes narrowed, nostrils flaring, hands fisted. Then, he subsided. He looked down at the parts he'd been cleaning. Finally, he shook his head. "I ain't gonna stop bein' jealous, Cajun. I ain't got that kind of control. But I ain't his type. And he wouldn't be happy with me. Ya got a chance. Ya make him smile. Besides, I ain't the kind to just walk in and tell a friend I've been wantin' him since before his girl died." Logan snorted. "What the hell. I stood aside fer Jeannie." Logan shrugged fatalistically. "One thing. Don't ever tell him about this, got it? I'll gut ya."

Remy raised a brow at the glinting metal of Logan's claws. "So y' ain't gonna keep tellin' me off?"

"No. But I ain't gonna let ya get away with hurtin' Cyke either."

"Dat's de last ding dat Remy'd ever do."

"Better be, kid. It better be."

"D'Accord. Gotta go get ready f' later. Goin' t' see de new band in town."

Logan snorted. "Don't get too pissed."

"Right, cher." Remy put away his tools and left the garage. Logan threw himself into his work, trying to banish the thoughts circling in his head.

*****

"So, this is officially a date?" Scott asked as he looked over the table.

"If you want it t' be," Remy answered. "If non, then, it's just two friends havin' coffee and listenin' t' the latest band." Scott cocked his head to the side and thought.

"If I say this isn't a date, then do I get a better deal when you officially ask for one?" Remy laughed.

"Glad t' know you got the right priorities. Non, you get a better date next time if you say it is. If you don't then Remy's not gonna ask again. We just stay friends. I ain't got enough friends t' push things."

"Ask me again in an hour or two." Remy nodded and settled back.

"There's a new alternative band comin' t' the club down the street in a couple of days. You like that stuff right?"

"What gave me away?"

"Your CD collection?"

"Which if I remember correctly is in my room and you've never been in there?"

"I ain't?" Remy blinked. "That's strange. I surely remember your CD's and that picture on your dresser of the whole gang out on a picnic somewhere. And the cardigans that I took t' save you from y'self."

"Is that where the Mr. Rogers collection went? I've upgraded to better quality."

"They found themselves nice homes on some runaways somewhere in this neighborhood."

"That's okay. I've suddenly found myself in charge of the budget. I think I need a raise."

"Oui, cher, that you do. You ain't been paid in almost fifteen years."

"Well," Scott shrugged.

"You want me t' look over the portfolio?"

"Yeah. That's probably a good idea. Bobby's suggestions are rather conservative. But he's a whiz at hiding money from auditors."

"That is most definitely a good thing t' know." Remy nodded. He settled back and they listened to the next set. After a thorough dissection of the band, Remy asked, "Is this a real date, cher?" Scott paused and took a sip of his recently refreshed coffee.

"Yeah, I think it is." Remy grinned.

"Good. I get t' tell Logan." Scott snickered.

"I think I'd better watch that. I wouldn't want you to get gutted or something."

"Merci. Nice t' know you'd have my back."

"Not a problem."

"So, you like Italian?" Scott raised a brow.

"If you don't know by now…"

"Right. So, do you have plans for tomorrow?" Remy asked.

"Let me see." Scott frowned. "Actually, Jubilee's doing her presentation tomorrow and we all promised to go."

"Merde. Forgot about that. The night after then? After we get back?"

"I think I can work you into my schedule."

"Why merci, cher. You're so kind." Remy grinned. He leaned across the table. "What say we get out of here and take a lil walk in the park?"

"Are you insane?"

"Oui. Ain't like we can't handle it, right?"

"Okay, now I am officially worried about you. What's the name of that shrink Charles sent me to again?" Scott said aloud.

"Don' make me hurt you, cher."

"You don't dare. Logan'd kill you."

"Well, you're right about that," Remy admitted. "What did you do t' the man?"

"I actually have no clue. He doesn't like you at all. What did you say to him?"

"Tol' him the truth and he didn't much like it," Remy said, swirling the last of his coffee. "This probably ain't the place t' be havin' this conversation."

"You're right. Pay the lady." Remy rolled his eyes. Scott shrugged. "You hit three idiots on the way in here, I know you have the cash." The thief did a double take. "So, I watch you," Scott said defensively. Remy's smile was suddenly shy.

"Didn't think you paid that much attention t' me."

"Like I'd admit it?"

"True. So, you know someplace safe t' walk that don't have wanderin' Canadians?"

"I might have a couple of ideas."

"Good." Remy left a folded fifty on the table. Scott shook his head. "It didn't come out of your pocket. 'Sides, she's cute."

"Brat." Scott stated, as Remy settled his hand on Scott's thigh. Scott was driving, which was just as well because it would have been a pain in the ass to give directions riding Remy's bike. Scott pulled off the road, into the woods. "No one really comes here anymore. Not even the beggars. Come on. There's a beautiful lake view." They settled into a slow walking pace, falling into step without thinking about it. "So what did you tell Logan?" Remy thought.

"Well, he been warnin' me off for a long time. I told him t' put up or shut up." Scott blinked.

"What?"

"I think the boy's got a torch for you, but he's too scared t' do anything about it." Remy shrugged. "I told him that I weren't leaving. I told him that if he wanted you t' himself, he shoulda done something about it. Been tellin' him that for awhile now. He ain't done nothing about it and I'm tired of waitin' for him."

"I thought you and Rogue were getting serious."

Remy snorted. "We spend more time talkin' about you than anything else. Always have. She's got a thing for you."

"Gambit, not everyone I know has a crush on me."

"Non, just the two. Logan probably loves you more because you remind him of Jean and Rogue loves you because you're the leader. Happened all the time at home. All the girl thieves my age had a crush on mon pere." He shrugged. "Not being married makes it easier for fantasy. An' Rogue ain't all that sure she knows what t' do with you if'n she had you. I keep tellin' her that not touchin' don't mean she can't have a little fun, but she don't believe me."

"Somehow I don't think I want to know."

"Silk feels real nice. I'll show you someday." Scott settled his arm over the younger man's shoulders. Remy automatically moved in closer. Scott never wore aftershave, but Remy could smell the coffee and the cinnamon from the absolutely exquisite pastries Remy'd convinced him to try. They walked on until they came upon the lake. Remy gasped. "Cher, it's perfect."

"Yeah, it is. Rem, there's something I want you to do for me."

"What?"

"Describe it to me."

"The lake?"

"Yeah. Pretend I can't see it. I want to know what you see." Gambit nodded. They found a seat on the ground, under one of the trees. Remy let himself be pulled close to take maximum advantage of Scott's warmth. He pulled on his gloves as he studied the scene.

"Well, the lake is almost inky black, but wide and smooth, like a mirrored surface. The moon, she glints off of it. You picked a good night, she's almost full and the light plays on the surface, makin' it almost perfect. You can almost see something rising up, standing proud and for a moment, but you could never be sure if it was real or not. She's a beautiful lake, she tries t' pull you in. I want to run her through my fingers, but that would ruin the perfect reflection. The moon, she hangs in the middle of the lake like it be the middle of the sky. And it look to be the door to another world. It's so peaceful. She fills you up with comfort and silence and a serene smile. She's a quiet place, with no rapid water, and no way to discern her depths without venturing into her. And when you fell and got pulled in, you wouldn't blame her." Remy laid his head on Scott's shoulder. "What do you see when you look out there, cher?"

"You."

"Quoi?"

"I see your eyes. When you're calm and happy, they look like it is right now. When you're mad it's like the summer sunrise on the water. When you're sad, it’s the dark of the moon. This is my quiet place. This is where I come when I want to run away from it all."

"Cher, you're a romantic. I never knew."

"I guess so." Scott was uncomfortable with that assessment. "But if I see a hint of flowers, I'll kill you."

"Non. You won't kill ol' Remy. You might beat him a bit, but you won't kill him."

"I'll have to make it fast if I don't want Storm and Rogue to catch on."

"Oui," Remy grinned. He turned serious. "You really like m' eyes?" he asked softly.

"Yes, I do," Scott said firmly. "You have beautiful eyes and if no one has ever told you that then they weren't worth your trouble."

"You're only the second person who's ever liked 'em."

"Who was the first?"

"Belle."

"Hmmm. Sounds like I've still got competition." Remy snorted.

"Belle ain't been faithful t' moi since we got engaged."

"Well, that's better then. Do I have to share?"

"Probably."

"I can handle that. Don't let Warren get to you. He's going to try to get all he can out of this little development. I can't wait to see his face."

"He hates me."

"He's an idiot and always has been."

"You come here often?"

"Not anymore. I seem to be spending more time at home with someone I'm not going to name."

"So you and Logan are fuckin' like bunnies?" Scott tugged at Remy's ponytail.

"He's not my type."

"Right."

"He's not."

"Sure, cher, you never check out his ass in the Danger Room."

"Gambit!" The thief grinned. "You cheeky little brat." Scott squeezed him one armed. "You mind if we stay here for a little while?"

"Non, of course not. You just gotta keep this po' Southern boy warm." Scott shook his head and let Remy snuggle into his lap. He wrapped his arms around his, well, boyfriend, he supposed and settled his chin on his shoulder. Remy settled closer and sighed. "Dat feels good."

*****

It was an hour after sunrise when Scott and Remy eventually made it home. Scott opened the front door to face a very upset Logan and Storm who were sitting on the stairs. "Why do I feel like Xavier's about to start yelling at me about curfew?" Scott wondered aloud.

"Because," Warren yawned from their right, "you broke curfew last night."

"You never break curfew," Bobby said. "Not even when you're feeling rebellious."

Scott glared at them. "But I'm not under a threat of federal prison any longer."

"F' dat," Remy muttered into his ear. He got a sharp elbow to the ribs. He sniffed. Scott glared over his shoulder. "Well…"

"Not one word, Cajun." Gambit bit his lip.

"Where were you, Scott?" Hank asked. "We were getting worried."

"Did the whole team wait up for God's sake?"

"No, Rogue went to bed after informing us that we were all insane and that the two of you were adults. Betsy followed shortly after," Storm informed them. "You could have told us you wouldn't be home. There is a perfectly functional phone system in this institute."

"Not to mention the com-link," Logan added. Scott fixed both of the, in his mind, ringleaders of this little stunt with his iciest glare.

"I didn't realize I had to call home."

"Ya should've. Ya make everyone else."

"I never say a word when Warren and Betsy decide to stay in the city without telling anyone. I don't snap at you when you decide to go wandering in the woods without informing me. I don't even prick at Bobby for going on Twinkie runs."

"Den why y' pick on m'?"

"You're special. Besides, I can't afford to hire another thief." That shut Remy up for a moment. The others searched for a response.

"Scott, you have never stayed out the entire night without informing one of us before. Therefore, we were exceedingly worried. Especially when we realized that you were with Remy. You might have been set upon by mutant haters or worse and we would never have been able to come to your aid," Storm said, her voice raising a bit.

"Stormy, dere ain't no mutie hater out dere dat could take eit'er of us. Dat's just bein' insultin'," Gambit chided.

"Do. Not. Call. Me. Stormy."

"Last time I checked, both of us were fully trained for combat and armed. I am not prone to taking stupid chances and just because I have lamentably started spending time with a foolish bit of frippery," Scott jerked at the sharp poke to his back, "does not mean that I'm getting stupid. Christ. You'd think I was sixteen again."

"Maybe if you weren't acting it, we wouldn't think it," Warren stated. "Obviously your hormones have destroyed your common sense."

"What the fuck are you talking about, Wings? No, don't say anything. I haven't had any sleep and I'm likely to take offense at the stupidest of things." He took Remy's wrist and led him up the stairs. "Good night. We might see you at lunch time." Remy waved over his shoulder.

"Frippery?" they heard him ask. "Frippery? What I do t' deserve dat?"

"Shut up, Gambit."

"That was… enlightening," Hank stated.

"He's dating the Cajun? Is he insane?" Warren wondered. Logan just growled and went towards his room.

Storm raised a brow at his retreating back, but didn't say a word. She looked up the stairs and sighed. "Goodnight, gentlemen," she said.

*****

"Frippery?"

"Are you still stuck on that?"

"Fluff, oui, you've called me that. But Frippery?"

"Rem, shut up. I'm going to bed."

"Do I get a goodnight kiss, cher?" Remy asked softly. Scott paused to consider. "This is your room and I did walk you t' it." Scott smiled. He placed a perfectly chaste kiss on Remy's cheek.

"Goodnight, Slick. See you in the morning."

"Sleep well, Cyke."

*****

Remy flopped on his back across Rogue's bed. "He's spoilt," he told her as he grabbed her stuffed frog. It was his favorite of her toys to fiddle with. She smiled over her shoulder from her seat at the vanity. She was in her robe, her hair still wet from her shower. Being one of the only two people who'd slept the night before, she'd decided to take advantage of the hot water. "Why am I even interested?" he asked her.

"Because, sugah, he's not yahr every day guy. He's funny when he wants ta be. He's kind. He's considerate. And he's got a mean streak a mile wide that he hides behind a mask of indifference," she told him. "And I'm not thah one ta be askin' about him because I've had a thang for him forevah. But Ah'll live with second hand accounts for awhile."

"Well, he's mine, chere, at least f' a lil' while. I'll give y' all the details. When dere are details of course. De problem bein' dat I barely got a goodnight kiss. Must be losin' m' touch."

"Or maybe ya ain't bein' as charmin' as usual. Scott ain't gonna be attracted ta that idiot ya usually play up. He know how long ya been wantin' him?"

"Non. And he ain't gonna. Right?" Remy glared at her. She smiled and wrinkled her nose in a manner Gambit described as adorable when talking to his brother.

"It's gonna cost ya, sugah."

"What?" he asked holding the frog close to his chest protectively.

"Well, there's this lil' cat Ah've had mah eyes on…"

"Just point me in de right direction."

"When Ah think ya can get up without fallin' ovah, Swamp Rat. Come on, time ta go back ta yahr own room."

"Fine," Remy pouted. "Remy knows when he ain't appreciated." She laughed at him and shooed him out so she could change.

*****

"Scott's dating the Cajun," Bobby stated to Hank. "I didn't dream that, right?"

"Yes," Hank replied. "At least I think they are. Scott led us to believe that they were out on a date. But, they never officially stated that it was a date. In that case, I don't think we can conclude that they are in a relationship yet. It could be, what I believe is called colloquially, a mind-fuck. There is nothing in the make-up of either man that would keep him from lying to us straight-faced in the attempt to play us for fools. And considering the pranks that have been occurring around this mansion recently, they may have decided to do just that. Or perhaps they were out and lost track of the time and decided on the way back that it would be more interesting to see what our reactions would be to such a development. Gambit is certainly not Jean Grey."

"No he ain't," Logan growled. "He's an irritating little bastard who needs a real strong lesson in discipline."

"That you haven't liked since he got here and started to flirt with Scott. Jealous?" Betsy asked as she prepared her morning tea.

"Fuck off, Bets."

"You are jealous aren't you?" She laughed and buttered a slice of toast. She manhandled a jar of orange marmalade open. "You are practically turning green with the thought that the thief might have stolen a kiss from your best friend. You are pathetic."

"And yer a bitch, but I don't tell ya that often." Logan lit up his cigar. Hank's nose twitched.

"Please put that tube of death out."

"Make me, Blue."

"He doesn't have to. No smoking in the house, Runt," Scott snapped. He looked no worse for wear as he moved through the kitchen gathering ingredients.

"Thought you'd still be curled up with yer boy."

"First, in case you hadn't noticed, I'm not married and I'm not engaged. Second, you have no say in who I can or cannot date. Third, Remy spent the night in his own room. While rare, it does occasionally happen. Just ask Storm. She does kick him out of her loft regularly. Put it out now or you're going to regret it."

Logan snorted. "Yer playin' with fire, Slim. I'm warnin' ya. That kid ain't gonna treat ya right."

"Logan, I'm a big boy now." He grabbed the cigar from Logan's lips and dropped it into his coffee as unafraid of Logan's claws as if he had a healing factor. "Fuck off." He went to the stove. "Morning, Bets," he said. She kissed his cheek.

"Good to see you back to fighting the good fights, ducks."

"Thank you." Scott smiled. "I didn't even realize I'd been down until I woke up this morning happy. I think I'm finally over Maddie."

"What about Jean?" Bobby asked.

"Red's dead, Popsicle. I think about her every once and awhile, but it doesn't hurt quite as much anymore." Scott shrugged and started his omelet.

Bobby stared. "Whoa."

"Deal. I'm back to being me and damn the consequences."

*****

"Hey, cher, can I convince y' t' go out on a picnic?"

"Why?"

"Because I'm goin' nuts bein' cooped up in here and y'r startin' t' develop mildew. Come on, cher. The sun is shinin'. The skies are clear. Stormy promised that we'd have a good day. Besides, it's m' saint day."

"It's Halloween, Remy."

"Oui, and I'm celebratin' All Saints Day f' two long days. Sil vous plait?" Remy gave Scott the best puppy dog eyes he could manage. Scott rolled his eyes.

"Fine. Let me go put on something a little more respectable."

"Non, cher, I *like* those jeans on y'."

"Now I've really got to change."

Remy snorted. "I'll meet y' in the garage. I'm drivin'."

"We're taking the bike?"

"Oui. So if y'r gonna change, wear y'r leather pants."

"Fine. Fine. Message received, your majesty."

Remy stuck out his tongue.

"Promises. Promises."

"Don' promise what I can't deliver."

*****

"I must admit I'm surprised."

"Why?"

"Because you're outside in the fall. I'm trying to figure out if this is a trick or a treat."

"Both I think," Remy answered. He spread the old blanket out on the ground. He opened the basket and unraveled the plastic bag he'd tied to the handle. He set out the pumpkin bread Storm had made, in exchange for something he really didn't want to think about her using. Then, he pulled out the potato salad, the grilled chicken, corn, and the thermos of coffee. Plates came from the bottom layer, along with cups. Cider and brandy appeared from inside the plastic bag. Scott watched with a grin.

"I admit it. I'm suitably impressed by your ability to get all of that into one basket. But perhaps considering Storm's comments about your pack-rat behaviors I shouldn't be."

"Shut up, Cyke. Eat."

"Yes, oh my master."

"That's better," Remy said haughtily. Scott swatted at him. He dodged the blow. From the depths of the basket, he brought up a thick, round, black candle and a glass dish for a holder. He lit the top with a fingertip.

"I never considered Halloween a time for a picnic. And what is that?"

"An offerin' for de Gods, cher," Remy looked confused. "Didn't your professeur teach you 'bout respectin' the Gods? Mon tante would've hided me if I hadn't listened. I tell you this, cher, it's weird bein' brought up Catholic on the one side and not on the other. Come t' think on it, Tante and Papa weren't very Catholic when it came push t' shove. Pere grew up wit' the Guild thinkin'. And Tante, well, she don't care much for the formal tradition, if you catch my meanin'?"

"I think so. I've seen enough bad movies…" Remy smacked him. Scott shrugged. "The Professor is staunchly Christian of some sort or other. No killing. No stealing. No lying. No cursing. But he never forced any of it on me. He even let me out of church after the first month. I was completely bored and miserable and I think I was irritating him." Remy snickered. "So, I didn't know what the hell was going on, he didn't have to take over when I wanted to knock the preacher over and shut him up." Scott affected a wounded tone that made Remy laugh even harder.

"And that was calculated how?"

"To the angle that would bounce my beams off the candlesticks and the cross before knocking him into the front row. That way it would be a strike from God right?" Remy couldn't see it, but he had a feeling that Scott was batting his eyes innocently.

"And you say that I'm a menace t' society?" Remy said. He settled cross-legged with his plate and looked over the candle.

"Well you are. I've given it up, mostly."

"Right. Leader of a band of mutant terrorists."

"Hey, I resemble that!"

"Oui, cher." Remy's smile was indulgent. "And that's the only reason I haven't screwed you senseless. Your team'd kill me. They need the gossip."

"That and the fact that you've never made it past a goodnight kiss," Scott said with a smirk. Remy shrugged.

"Well, I never said I didn't like t' hunt. Here, try the salad."

"Not bad. What's in it?"

"Apples, raisins, potatoes, and a few more t'ings."

"You'll have to show me how to make it. I like the weird crunches."

Remy smirked. "That's the secret. Keepin' it crunchy. That's why y' need just a touch of lemon juice. Chicken?"

"Sure."

*****

"So, cher, do I get a goodnight grope t'night?"

"I'll give you a kiss, but that's all, Slick."

Remy sighed. "I'll take what I can get then." He leaned over slowly and pressed a kiss below Scott's ear.

Scott gently cupped Remy's cheek then kissed him softly on the lips. "That was fun, Remy. Thanks."

"Y' always welcome. Y' know that right?"

Scott's face creased with a smile. "I know."

*****

Remy bit his fist to keep from saying anything. "He's a whore and you know it," Warren stated calmly. "That fucking Cajun is nothing more than a whore. I wonder how much Scott is paying him?"

"Warren," Betsy said mildly, "you are looking for the word 'slut' not whore. Remy is not being paid for his services. Well, not now at any rate."

"Sure he is. He's staying here. He has to earn his keep somehow," Warren sneered.

Remy didn't want to hear any more. Not when Warren was right. He escaped to his perch on the roof and rocked. He shouldn't have come. He should have told Sinister to find a different assignment. There was no way he could separate Scott from the X-Men. And there was no way that he would hurt Scott any more. He loved the man, that was true enough. But Scott couldn't love him. No one could. Not without the subtle manipulations of Remy's charm. He wanted Scott to love him. And it felt like he did. But as soon as he left, Scott would figure it out. Scott would know he'd been being used and he'd be the same Fearless Leader he'd always been. He'd have to leave tomorrow. Things were getting too serious to continue. He wasn't going to get Scott killed, not like Genevieve. And he wasn't going to let Scott be used against him. He'd have to make it a clean break before finding Essex and telling him to take his plan and shove it. Resolved, he slipped down to his room. He could leave the next day.

"Watch yahr mouth Bird-Boy," Rogue glowered. "Remy isn't a whore. And he earns his keep more than ya ever have ya overgrown pigeon."

*****

Remy went to see Scott one last time. He had to at least say goodbye.

*****

"Remy," Scott said slowly, "I love you."

Remy's eyes widened in almost total panic. He shook his head. "Non, cher. You think you do. Y' don' really. It ain't possible t' love a whore," he said firmly. Scott caught his chin in his palm.

"I love you. You aren't a whore. If you were, you wouldn't spend your party nights playing Stratego in my office. You'd be making a hell of a lot more each week too." Remy's lips twitched into an involuntary smile. "Now, before you run away, like I know you're going to, before you get lost in memories of your brother-in-laws body, I want you to let me kiss you."

"Scotty…"

"Just one more kiss before you disappear. I love you, Remy Etienne LeBeau. And I am not going to pretend that all I want is a fling or to fuck you through the bed. I love you. It doesn't matter if you're one floor away or on another continent, I will still love you. I know neither of us have a good history with love, but I know what I'm feeling. And so do you. Trust your talents. I. Love. You. Will you let me have my kiss?" Remy nodded, tears glistening in his eyes.

Scott moved in slowly, tasting carefully, memorizing the feel of warm lips and the taste of spice and brandy. His tongue asked for and received entrance. His hand slipped into the silky cool hair and held the thief more firmly into the kiss. Remy seemed to mold himself to Scott's body. Scott felt the instant that Remy got caught in the kiss. The younger man's jaw opened wider and his tongue traced Scott's teeth gently. An eternity later, Scott broke it off. He caught Remy's hand and pressed a phone number and calling card into it. "If you don't call in a week, I'll track you down and make sure you're alive," he whispered. He saw the tear escape the second before Remy bolted out of Scott's office and up the stairs to his room.

*****

Logan blinked as the blur he recognized as the Cajun rushed by him and out to his bike. He heard the engine catch and the wheels squeal as he peeled out of the garage. He heard a soft sound and realized that Scott's office door was open. A muffled sniff made up his mind and he slipped in without knocking. He took in the huddled figure. Scott was curled up, glasses hanging between two fingers as he tried to wipe away the tears he couldn't stop. Logan hung his head and carefully closed the door as he left.

*****

"Cyke?" Logan called from the door to the roof.

"Yeah."

"Thought you might be up here." He settled down next to the younger man and handed him a beer.

"I'm already working on hard liquor," Scott informed him.

"I don't give a damn."

"Wrong accent."

"That ain't exactly my fault. So, when'd you last hear from the kid?"

"He called yesterday. That means it'll be a couple of days before I hear from him again. It's like being addicted. I get a rush when I hear his voice and not an hour later it's like I’m lower than when Jean died. I don't get it."

"Yer in love, Slim."

"Logan, in the immortal words of your irritating sidekick, 'like, duh, Wolvie.'"

"I'd watch the sidekick cracks," Logan warned cheerfully. "Where is he?"

"Somewhere in the middle of Pennsylvania. He said he was taking a tour. Hitting all the low spots."

"Typical."

"That's what I thought. Too bad he was crying on the phone when he hung up." Logan stared. "He was. That's why he hung up. I'm not supposed to love him you know."

"Why not?"

"He thinks he's a whore. Whores aren't for loving." Logan shut his eyes.

"Damn."

"What?" Scott said, suddenly alert.

"He musta heard Wings the other day. I weren't close enough to stop him. I heard him from the hall. He was talkin' about the kid. He's sure our thief ain't nothin' but a whore. He wanted to know how much he was gettin' paid. Rogue threatened to put him through the wall and he shut up."

"Good for her. Thanks for the update."

"I don't like that smile."

"Shows you've got sense."

"Don't kill him."

"I'm not that crude. I will however, own one of his companies by the end of the year." Logan blinked.

"Own one of his companies."

"Yes."

"How?"

"Through a very interesting thing called a shell game. Thanks for the beer. I'll see you at training tonight, Logan."

"Ya ain't bein' subtle, Slim."

"Bye, Runt. I've got plotting to do."

"Yer a menace to society. Shit, kid was right. You two are made for each other."

"I don't doubt that for a second."

*****

"Holy shit," Victor Creed muttered under his breath as he saw the drunk driver come speeding down the road. Luckily, the figure on the motorcycle was already moving when the car broadsided the machine. The impact still threw him across the road and into the gravel of the bar's parking lot. A second later the car took off without looking back. Creed noted the license number. He recognized the young man who lay bleeding on the ground. There were a lot of people who weren't going to be happy with this situation. "Damn." He carefully felt for a pulse.

The figure flinched. "'m alive," it muttered. He pushed up to his knees. Creed realized that the Cajun had his backpack and tools still strapped to his back. "Merde. What y' doin' here, M. Chat?"

"I was drinkin', punk. But I think I just found somethin' more interestin'." The kid flinched and Creed smiled. He reached out and turned the boy's face. He was bleeding and bruised. "Come on. I'll getcha cleaned up and take ya home." He smirked. "After ya pay me back."

"Don' y' know dat de best way t' stay alive is t' owe someone money?" Gambit asked shakily. Creed helped him up and he had to lean on that support a little more than he liked. Creed growled.

"Damn. Don't everyone know that I'm the only one allowed ta beat up on ya?" Gambit snickered. "Think ya can still ride?"

"If y' don' do any fancy tricks." He gave Creed a lopsided grin, mostly in deference to his cheek that felt totally raw. Well, one positive. I don't have to worry about my looks anymore. He put a hand up and felt the gravel in some of the wounds. "Fuck," he muttered.

"Come on, punk." Remy settled behind the large man, wrapping his arms around his waist. He was terrified a second later when he felt the steel on his wrists. "Don't want ya fallin' off," Creed said. It might actually have been true. Remy leaned his forehead against Creed's back and drifted. He was so damn tired suddenly. He jerked awake when they stopped. It was a run down motel. Just Sabretooth's style. No one saw anything or asked any questions. The cuffs were released and Remy rubbed at his wrist. He was surprised to find blood and it wasn't from the cuff. "Ya go on and catch a shower. I'm gonna get something to patch ya up with." Remy nodded.

Creed wasn't surprised to find him laying on his back, half asleep. He dodged the knife and pulled it out of the door. "Good aim fer bein' half dead."

"Fuck off, Chat," Gambit retorted. He endured the almost gentle removal of the gravel from his face and side. There was a bruise forming across his chest in brilliant shades of purple from the ribs they both knew were broken. Creed bandaged some of the deeper cuts.

"Sleep," he ordered. The boy's eyes were almost closed and they popped open. He grinned. Some things were predictable. "Did ya hit yer head?"

"Non. Jus' de cuts on m' face. Came down on m' side more'n anyt'in'." Creed nodded.

"I'll take ya to the doc fer a check-up after ya get some sleep."

*****

"So, you and the thief broke up?" Warren asked, popping a grape into his mouth. Scott tipped his head back, considering.

"No, not that I know of." The leader of the X-men shrugged. "I knew he'd run when things got serious." Logan could smell the pain that Scott was hiding; Scott Summers, the master of disguise. Scott sipped at his coffee.

"He's been gone for two weeks."

"He called twice last week. I'm not that worried. He's on a road trip." Rogue rolled her eyes.

"Now, that sounds like thah boy."

"That it does. Is someone going to get that?" Scott asked, staring at Betsy. She grudgingly picked up the kitchen extension.

"Xavier's Institute. No, he's not here. What is this in regards to? What?" she said sitting straight up. "One moment please. I'm going to hand you over to the principal." Scott gave her a frown and took the phone.

"This is Scott Summers. What seems to be the trouble?" Scott went very still. "What? Where? How long ago did this happen? Yes, I'll have someone come pick up the remnants. Do you think the accident happened where the bike was found? Is there any sign of Remy? Damn. Thank you for calling." Scott tossed the phone back to Betsy. He was being remarkably calm she thought. She couldn't read him any longer. Gambit had taught him to shield against her. "Logan, will you take the pick-up to the impound in Philadelphia? The scraps of what is registered as Gambit's bike are there. I'm heading towards Harrisburg. That's where he was heading last time I heard. The cops don't think the bike was hit where they found it. It had been scavenged pretty heavily."

"Cyke, what…" The door shut behind Scott, cutting off the questions. "Well, shit."

"You can say that again," Bobby said. "You don't think he's going to go, I don't know, death-wishy on us or something?"

"No, that's not Scott's style. Just make sure he doesn't take a gun with him," Warren said. He cocked his head to the side. "I think we're already too late. That's the Jeep isn't it?" Logan nodded. Warren sighed. "I guess that means Storm is in charge. And guess who gets to tell her. Go on, Bobby, don't be afraid. It's not like she's been lurking in her room with lightening bolts at the ready for two weeks or something."

"Ha. Ha. Very funny. Rogue gets to tell her because she'll survive the attack." Rogue shook her head.

"Ya know. Sometimes Ah forget why Ah even like ya'll."

"Boyish charm," Betsy told her. "You'll grow out of it." Logan just snorted and went to get on the road. It was going to be a long drive.

*****

Gambit looked up at Sinister with a sigh. "What part of, 'it ain't goin' t' work' did I mispronounce?"

Sinister leaned over the young man, hands on either side of the counter he was perched on, until their eyes were no more than three inches apart. "Explain it again."

"I ain't goin' t' be able t' get Scott t' leave de X-men f' moi. Dat ain't gonna work. De best I could offer is dat I could get him t' be more careful. He ain't gonna leave dem. He loves dem a hell of a lot more'n he loves m'. An' even if Remy gets de boy out of de house, he ain't gonna stay dere. He's gonna get antsy and angry an' do de exact same dings except wit'out de team t' support him. F'get it. Y' want him safe, y' get him a bodyguard. Y' lock him up, y' gonna make him lose his mind," Remy warned. Sinister shook his head.

"I never thought I would see you lose your edge so completely, Son. You've fallen for the boy, haven't you?" Gambit's face was flat and unreadable. "Yes, you have. And you don't want him to be hurt anymore than I do." Sinister chuckled. The sound was terrifying in a man that rarely showed emotions. Remy stared at him in horror. He wasn't sure what was worse, the laughter or the gentle ruffling of his bangs that followed.

"Okay, M., dis just got too surreal f' dis po' boy's brain. He goin' t' lie down an' when he wake up, dings make sense again. Oui?"

"I take it you are resigning this particular commission?" The smug amusement in Sinister's voice made Remy even more sure that he had to be dreaming. The man was showing more emotion in five minutes than he had in several years. Remy blinked. He found himself moving backwards until he hit the wall. "Nevermind, Child. Go on. Get moving or Crow will think I've dissected you without letting the rest in on the fun." Gambit wasn't sure exactly how he made it to what he considered the lounge. It was where everyone just congregated when there was nothing else to do. He shut the door behind himself.

"Y' f'got t' tell m' de man went mad!" he accused Sabretooth.

"I did? Sorry. See ya 'round, Kid. Ya still owe me."

"Right," Remy rolled his eyes.

"Your things are still in your room, Cajun," Vertigo told him with a smile. "I can show you the way if you're not sure you can make it."

"I t'ink I can find it, chere." He made his way to his room and collapsed on the bed. He ran his finger over the healing cut on his right temple. It was so raw that he was almost certain it was going to scar. One more to add to his collection. He'd just have to keep his bangs over it.

*****

Scott Summers was not happy. He was even less happy when he found the bar that he was fairly certain the last bartender had been talking about. He wasn't going in there without a weapon of some sort. Hell, he wasn't sure that Remy wouldn't have passed it by as just too risky. There was a gaggle of motorcycles surrounding the place. It looked to be made of clapboard and tin baling wire. He parked across the street and looked at the intersection. Well, it could have happened. He noticed the skid marks. Brakes locked up because they started too late, he judged. It was almost a perfect right angle. There was no way that anyone could have been walking away from it… unless they were already in the air at the time of impact. He traced the trajectory with his eyes and went to the probable landing site. Damn, the parking lot was all gravel. There wasn't anything that was going to show up there without Logan's nose or a damn good forensics team.

"Hey, you. Yeah, you. Come're." Scott sighed mentally and went to see what the man wanted. He was an older man in riding leathers. "You come about that accident? The kid tell ya what happened?" Scott was instantly alert.

"No, the cops found his bike and gave me a call. They didn't think the bike was at the scene of the accident. I tracked the kid."

"Black Beamer. Came outta no where. Obviously drunker than anything. Rammed straight into the kid. Damn shame. That bike was sweet. Well, before anyone else reacts, this huge bastard, name's Creed or somethin', obviously knew him. Went over and helped him up. Said he was gonna clean him up and take him home. I'm guessin' he didn't get home yet?"

"No, at least not to his last home. He could have called at least. Brat. Was he badly hurt?"

"Scraped up more than anything. Probably has a couple of bruised up ribs. Owed Creed something." The barman shrugged. "They drove off that way. I figured the kid'd been on his way home when he got hit. Too bad about the machine, but ya can't stop 'em from takin' everything they can. Where'd it finally end up?"

"Philly." The man shook his head.

"Ya want a drink? Looks like ya could use it, son."

"No, thanks. I'm going to keep going. Then, I'm going to take the boy home and lock him in his room." The bartender chuckled.

"Might want to get yerself a rifle or something. Kid like that's gonna be trouble 'til he's out of the house."

"He's trouble in the house too. But you sort of miss it when it goes away."

"Yeah. Got three boys of my own that went and moved out last year. Good luck. They probably stopped at Keller's down the road. Good a place as any if ya don't want too many questions asked. There's a general store around the corner'd be yar best bet for findin' out if they were. Creed've had ta get supplies to clean him up. He was bleedin' pretty good."

"Thanks." Scott made sure he stayed calm until he was out of view. Then he started cursing. When he wound down he had to smile. He was getting more inventive in his old age. Logan'd be impressed.

*****

Logan looked at the scraps of metal lying forlorn in the bed of the truck. He shook his head. The poor thing deserved a decent burial. He didn't think even the tender loving care of its master would get it to run again. That was a damn shame. She'd been such a sweet piece of machinery.

"Ya didn't find any blood on her?" he asked the cop.

"No, sir. She was clean as a whistle. But we did find paint. And someone called in a license number. If you can find the owner, then we can press charges."

"Thanks," Logan said gruffly. "Fer property damage if nothin' else. This is gonna hit him hard. She was his baby." The officer nodded sympathetically and waved Logan on his way with the paperwork.

*****

Remy was bored. He was beyond bored. He was staring at the security monitors. He tapped the screen. "Dis t'ing is on, right?" he asked Scalphunter. The man snickered.

"Yeah, it's on. Been a damn quiet ain't it? Why'd you come back, kid?"

Remy shrugged. "I'm not sure yet. I ain't plannin' on stayin'." Remy pushed back from the desk and spun around on the wheeled chair. "I'm bored. Bored. Bored. Bored. Entertain m'," he ordered.

Scalphunter shook his head. "Come here. I'll tell you a story if you're good." He grabbed for the chair, caught Remy's collar instead and dragged him back to his spot. Remy folded his hands in his lap and looked up through his bangs attentively. "Now, remember, I'm not much of a story teller." Remy rolled his eyes.

"Bullshit. Y' scammed dis po' lil' t'ief well enough when it suit y'."

"Behave." Scalphunter took a breath and closed his eyes. "This was told to me by another, who was told by another, who was told by another, and you will pass it on again. Listen very carefully to me." Grey Crow looked long and hard into the younger man's eyes until he was sure that he was actually listening. "When the world was younger than today, two Coyotes were crossing a farmers field. Both Coyotes were strangers to each other for they had never met. Just as they were about to introduce themselves they heard the farmer yell, 'There's a Coyote in the field!' The first Coyote turned to the other and told him to run! They both started to run for the trees when they heard the farmer yell, 'And there goes another one!'. Finally both Coyotes made it to the cover of the trees and they started to introduce themselves.

"'I never saw you before, I am Wanderer, I am a Coyote like you.'

"The other Coyote looked at him oddly and said, 'I am Sleek, but I am not a Coyote like you.'

"'Yes you are,' said Wanderer. 'Oh no I am not,' replied Sleek.

"'Look my friend, you are confused. You have ears like mine, you have a tail like mine, our fur is the same, our snouts are the same, everything is the same, you are just like me and we are both Coyotes,' Wanderer tried to explain.

"'Listen let's run across the field again and you will see,' challenged Sleek. So off they ran.

First went Wanderer and again the Farmer yelled, 'There goes that darn Coyote.' Then Sleek took afoot and the Farmer yelled, 'And there goes another one... again!' When the two Coyotes reached the other side of the field they ducked into the woods.

"Wanderer turned to sleek and said, 'There! Didn't you hear the Farmer? He called us both Coyotes.'

"Sleek look disappointed with his new confused friend and said, 'Yes I heard the Farmer. He called you a Coyote, but I am an `Another One'.' The question is, Young One, how are you defining who you are?" Remy looked at him in silence for a long time. Then, he nodded, slowly.

"Merci, M. Crow. I t'ink…" he put a hand to his head suddenly. "I gotta go." He bolted out of the room. He grabbed his bags and was half-way to the doors when he skidded to a halt in front of Sinister. Without a word Sinister opened a tesseract and Remy jumped through.

*****

Sabretooth looked up with a snarl to confront the new threat. The thief stood proprietarily over the unconscious body. "Back off, Punk. This is my kill."

"Y' ain't goin' t' kill dis one. He been mine f' much longer," Gambit snapped back.

"I'll gut ya like I did before then, boy, and take both of ya." Sabretooth was looking for the fight. The boy never backed down and they always managed to do just enough damage that neither one ended up with hurt pride. He figured he could call it before the boy got hurt too badly. Then, he looked down at the knife in his gut. He snarled and yanked it out. It was followed by another. Then, with bo extended and blades out, Gambit started slashing. Sabretooth stood back, glowering. "Fine, take yer boyfriend and get outta here," he said throwing an arm up in the appropriate direction. "If yer lucky, he might even live." Gambit gathered Cyclops up carefully and settled him in the Jeep. He quickly found the keys and left before Creed changed his mind. When the Jeep was out of sight, Creed started to laugh. "Well, shit. Who'd've thunk it. The Cajun's gone soft."

*****

The Jeep halted in front of the mansion with a spray of fine mud that had been clinging to the wheels for miles now. The rain was a soft misting, just enough to be irritating. The front door slammed open under the pressure of Gambit's shoulder and slammed shut again as he caught it with his foot. He skidded to a stop in front of the Med-lab. Logan was right behind him as he set Scott down on the exam table and Hank started to fuss. Hank glanced at Logan. Logan took the hint and pulled the thief away. Gambit struggled, but Logan's grip on his forearms was solid. He dragged him out to the waiting room. That's when he got a good look at him.

Logan's growl caught Gambit's attention for a breath, then he was looking forlornly towards the med-lab. Wolverine shook him hard. "Une moment, cher," Remy said absently. He was too focussed on willing Scott to be okay. "He been out f' somet'in' like eight hours. Sped a bit, me," he called to the doctor. Hank nodded. "Sabretoot' was tryin' t' claim him as his kill," Remy added for Logan's benefit. Logan shook the boy harder, then slammed him into the wall, his claws extending. The red eyes finally snapped to connect with pure blue.

"Yer a Marauder?" Logan snarled. "I should gut ya right now. But I'll give ya a chance t' explain." Remy ignored the threat and his eyes moved immediately back to Scott.

"He's hurtin' bad at de moment. But I don't dink it's dangerous. Better if he wakes up," Remy rambled. Logan slapped him, hard across the mouth.

"Got yer attention, Gumbo? Come with me." Logan dragged him to the dampening chamber they'd installed for the express purpose of hiding people from psi scans. Nothing got in and nothing got out. The Cajun fell to his knees as soon as he crossed the threshold. Logan made no move to help him up or knock him down. He gave him a few minutes to catch his breath. Gambit blinked a few times, then looked around himself.

"What de fuck?" he muttered. He rubbed his forehead as if he had a killer headache. "Logan? How de hell…. . . Musta found Scotty den. Musta been hurt. Brought him back t' y' f' help?" Remy ended looking hopefully at Logan. The Canadian growled.

"Surprisin' considerin' who's mark yer wearin' now." Remy frowned, then reached up to his collar. He snapped off the diamond shaped communicator and tossed it to the older man.

"All y'rs if'n y' want it. Y' can smash it or whatever. Ain't like Essex can' find dis place."

"How long ya been workin' fer him?"

"Worked f' him f' almost t'ree years off an' on. Helped m' wit' m' powers. Not a straight contract. Not real long term. But off an' on. He likes m'." Remy shrugged. "M' head's achin' somet'in' awful. Dere psi blocks on de room or somet'in'?"

"Yeah. Psi dampers. Yer a spook?"

"Non."

"Frosty said ya had potentials and can't get through yer shieldin'."

"Remy's an… empat' I dink de word is. Read emotions. Hank know t' call us here? As soon as Scotty-cher wakes up?"

Logan stalked forward. "If ya didn't look so rough, I'd beat the shit outta ya fer what ya been doin' to him. Why the hell didn't ya call after the crash?"

"Crash was only a coupla days ago… I dink… what's t'day?"

"Thursday."

"Non. Can' be."

"It is. Just got what was left of yer bike back here. It's Thursday."

"But, de crash was on a Thursday. M. Essex didn' say I'd been out or anyt'in'. Creed was still dere an' he ain't even got his stuff dere. Dat was last night."

"Sorry, kid. Don't try gettin' outta here either, hear me? I'm lockin' ya in 'til we have a chance to ask some hard questions. And if ya try to pick it or blast it, I'll collar ya and tape yer hands to the bedframe."

"Oui, M. Logan." Gambit slumped back onto his heels as the door shut behind Logan. He rocked for a few minutes to calm himself down, then, curled up on the bed. He didn't even notice the tears that fell into the pillow.

*****

"So, the Cajun's back," Warren said, putting his feet up on the coffeetable. "Scott found him?"

"More like he found Cyke. Cyke had a run in with Sabretooth. Kid got him out of it. Brought him to Hank fer treatment. He was wearin' this." Logan tossed the communicator over to him.

"This is one of Sinister's isn't it? That lousy fucking thief. I was right. He is a whore. How much has Sinister been paying him?"

"Don't think he has. I think he's been messin' up the kid's head to get him to do whatever he wants him to do."

"I wouldn't put it past him. This thing is disabled right?" Logan just glared at him and took it back. "So, he's a traitor. I could have told you that almost a year ago."

"Before or after you joined Apocalypse?" Storm asked idly. Warren glared at her. "Where is Remy?"

"Containment room."

"What?!" Lightening crashed as the storm came to a complete head.

"We don't know what he's doin' back here. We don't know where he's been or how long he's been with Sinister. We can't let him roam around without an escort." She sneered at him.

"Remy is not dangerous. And if Emma and Betsy can not manipulate his mind, it is quite possible that Sinister would not be able to." She left the room so as to keep her temper in check.

*****

Storm paused at the doorway of the dampening room. Remy looked young. He was curled up, with his arms wrapped around a pillow and his eyes half-open. She knew he was deeply asleep, but he would stir if she went closer. There was a raw cut on his head. He looked worn out and she didn't want to wake him. She closed the door silently and went to her loft.

*****

"R-rem?" Scott said as he came to.

"Don't even think about sitting up, Fearless Leader," Hank said firmly. "You have a concussion. You've been unconscious for more than a day."

"I heard Remy didn't I?"

"He brought you here. Logan escorted him out of the lab before he could cause trouble." Scott squinted up at Hank.

"Is it really bright in here? And did you just change color?"

"No, I've got a suppression collar on you. I wanted to be able to monitor your pupils. Do you want your glasses back?"

"Yes, I want my glasses back. I want this damn thing off my neck. And I want to know what sort of condition that hard-headed, stubborn, irritating, obnoxious brat is in."

"And why would you want to know that? He is the reason you're in the med-lab. I know the two of you have similar opinions on the worth of medical facilities."

"I'm rather fond of the boy, okay?" Scott asked defensively.

"You are completely head over heels. Sit up slowly." Scott sat up and closed his eyes.

"Ow."

"Headache?" Hank asked mildly.

"What gave you your first clue?"

"Your horrid mood. Open your eyes." Scott glared at Hank. The doctor looked back at him mildly. "Well, I suppose I could allow you to rest in your own room rather than here."

"Good. Then I won't have to make your life a complete living hell. Where is Gambit?"

"In the psi chamber. Ask Logan before you go to see him."

"And what exactly is wrong with him?"

Hank sighed deeply. "There is a question of loyalty. And I do not have first hand information. Logan is the only one who has spoken with the boy for a long period of time. Ororo can't handle the room and Rogue has been… distraut over the turn of events."

"Fine. Then call the runt."

*****

Scott didn't go to his room to rest. He went to the war room with the team to discuss things. "Go over this very slowly for me again, Logan."

"The kid came tear-assing into the house. He was carrying ya, drivin' yer Jeep. He took ya straight to Hank. I had to drag him out of the way. He wasn't focussed on me, but he had this on his collar. He didn't even blink at my claws so I dragged him over to the psi chamber. I figured it might clear his head. It did. He said he thought it had only been a couple of days since the crash. And from the cut on his head, I would've guessed it too, except he said the crash happened on a Thursday. There's no way that his bike made it into police custody in the same day. He muttered something about Essex not saying he'd been out, but that don't mean a damn thing. Somewhere along the way he lost a couple of days. He don't deny bein' a Marauder or workin' fer Sinister. That's where it stands."

"Great. Just what I need. No wonder he thinks he's a whore."

"He is one," Warren said firmly.

"No more than I am. Not anymore." Scott rubbed his temples. "Psi chamber. How long?"

"This is the second day. Kid's fine. He ain't goin' anywhere."

"I didn't drag through ever low-life hang out in Eastern Pennsylvania to hear that he's okay, leave him alone. And before there are anymore questions of loyalty, I want everyone here to think long and hard about their own past. Everyone gets a clean slate when they come here. And even if you were all under the mistaken impression that he didn't have a past, I never was. If you can't handle it," Scott shrugged. "Now, if you'll excuse me." He left them there to think. Logan heard the cursing and his lips twitched in surprise. The rest of the room was in shock.

"Just a thought fer yer little brains. If the Cajun was loyal to Sinister, why'd he bring Slim back here? He was obviously a hell of a lot closer to Sinister's base than the mansion. And second, Scott'll stand by him like he's Jeannie. If ya can't see that, yer blind. By the way, Wings, whores offer sex. Those two ain't done more'n kiss." Logan left them to discuss things. He knew Storm would keep them in line. He decided he needed to be around in case there was something really wrong with the Cajun's head.

*****

Scott scowled at the door. It was locked. Just what the hell had Logan threatened Gambit with to keep him inside that pathetic excuse for a lock? He opened the door. The figure huddled on the bed looked up, then burst into motion. Scott caught him and held on tight.

"Was so worried, cher. Couldn' feel y' an' Henri won' tell m' 'bout y'."

"I'm fine, Remy. Sabretooth didn't do any lasting damage. A couple of stitches here and there."

"Merci Dieu. What de hell were y' dinkin' t' take on M. Chat?" Remy demanded. Scott felt the trembling that belied the angry tone.

"That he knew where you were. The cops found what used to be your bike. Do you want to press charges?"

"Non. Jus' want t' stay like dis f' awhile." Scott tightened his grip.

"I'm not going to let you go again."

"Idiot."

"So? You're mine. I'm not letting go."

"I'm damaged good, cher. Y' know dat."

"Then I'll just have to put you back together. I'm stubborn enough to try."

"Dey're gonna like Remy even less now."

"We had an agreement."

"Sorry, Scotty." Slowly, the released their grips and parted. Scott brushed back Remy's bangs, noticing the new scar. Remy turned his face to hide it. Firmly, Scott turned him back. He leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on Remy's lips.

"I told you. I love you. You. Not any particular part. There's nothing of you that a scar can take away."

"If I'd know you were goin' t' take on M. 'Tooth, I wouldn't have left you alone." Remy's fingers traced Scott's jaw and the edge of his glasses. "I thought it would fade. I thought it were just m charm actin' up. I didn't think it'd hurt you."

"Hush." Remy brushed his fingers over Scott's lips. "Stay."

"I don't know how t' do this love thing, cher."

"It's something you improvise."

"Je t'amie."

"That's a good start." Scott stole another brief kiss.

"They're right not t' trust moi."

"Bullshit. There's no one on this team with a spotless record, except maybe Hank and Bobby and they have their own failings. Do they think Sinister doesn't know where we live?" Scott shook his head.

"Cher?"

"Yes?"

"You'll tell Logan not t' gut me now, right?" Scott blinked at him.

"Why was Logan threatening to gut you?"

"For breaking your heart."

"No one gets to lay a hand on you without my permission. I need you to do something for me, Remy."

"What?"

"Let Hank take a look at you."

Gambit hesitated. "If you stay with me," he agreed softly. "I'm cold, Scotty." Scott wrapped his arms around his lover. "That's better," Remy sighed.

*****

Hank peered through his glasses. "Oh my stars and garters. A miracle," he said sarcastically. "Gambit is submitting to a physical. Now, don't be shy, Remy. I need to see your actual body, even if your armor does leave little to the imagination." Remy rolled his eyes. He slowly removed the armor that made up the last layer of clothing. He could feel Scott's eyes on him. He glanced over and blushed when Scott leered at him.

"Dinkin' havin' y' stay was a mistake."

"Just because I've never managed to get you out of your clothes before…" Hank blinked.

"But I thought you were already in a sexual relationship?" he said as he took Gambit's pulse and blood pressure.

"What?" Scott asked, puzzled. "How did you come to that conclusion?"

"All the mornings that Gambit was spotted coming from your room," Hank answered. "Not to mention the complete lack of personal space you tend to exhibit when near one another."

"What are you talking about?" Scott frowned. He picked Gambit's clothes up and folded them carefully.

"But then you've never been aware of personal space, have you, Remy? But you have never liked being touched, Scott. What changed?"

"It's because Remy's not dangerous."

"Neither is Bobby."

"Bullshit." Hank stared. "Bobby has so much repressed anger he could explode. His pranks show that. Not to mention the frustration that has him held back." Remy was nodding.

"Oui. De boy's problems wit' his powers an' his confusion about who he be are connected. An' he's pissed at de worl'. Angry cuz it ain't right, but he dinks anger is bad. Dink y' too close t' see it, M. Bete."

"And how often do you two indulge in profiling your teammates?"

"Why do you want to know, Blue?"

"Idle curiosity. A deep breath please." Hank listened intently to Remy's lungs. "Again. Again. And once more. Quit smoking. You've gone more than a day without. Continue," Hank ordered. "I expect Scott will be able to keep you occupied." Hank picked up his penlight and Remy flinched away from the beam. "I didn't realize your eyes were so photosensitive. I'm sorry."

Gambit shrugged.

"Open your mouth please." Things went fairly smoothly until Hank picked up the syringe to draw blood.

"Non! No needles. Sil vous plait, Henri. Non." Hank was startled by the sudden panic as well as the curled up defensive posture. Scott was there in an instant. He curled his arms protectively around the thief.

"It's okay, Rem. Hush. Hank's gentle. Just one or two pokes." He rocked Remy gently. "He needs to make sure you're okay. I'll be right here. I won't let him give you anything. Honest. Trust me, Rem. Just close your eyes." Slowly, Gambit uncurled into Scott's arms. Scott carefully exposed one trembling forearm. "That's it, Babe. Relax." Remy tucked his head under Scott's chin. Hank's needle was so swift and accurate that Remy barely felt it. Hank took four vials, knowing this was a once in a lifetime occurrence. "See? All done. All done."

"I'd like to get some X-rays and an EEG."

"Think that'll be okay, Rem?" Scott asked.

"Y' stay?"

"I can't stay for the X-rays, but I'll be close, okay?"

"Oui," Gambit said shakily. He ran a hand through his hair. The X-rays didn't bother him, except for leaving images dancing in front of his eyes, even though his eyes were closed. Damn that light was bright. The EEG however, made the panic start somewhere deep in his chest. He reached blindly for Scott's hand and found it closer than he expected.

"I'm right here. Relax. Hank won't hurt you."

"Don' like dis at all."

"I know."

"Hate labs. Hate docteurs."

"I remember. You told me that before you even admitted that you were going to stay." Remy raised the hand to his lips. Hank smiled. He had never thought to see that smile on Scott's face again. He was firmly convinced that this one would last.

"Third time's the charm," he muttered to himself as he fussed over his equipment.

*****

Remy curled up in the oversized sweater he'd grabbed from the top shelf of his closet. The holes at the knees of his jeans added to the careful illusion he was building. He looked at his reflection. Hiking boots with the laces tucked inside would be good. Then, he brushed his bangs back to highlight rather than hide the cut on his forehead. If he was going to face the firing squad, he was going to use every trick he had up his sleeve. He left his trench behind, but that didn’t mean he was unarmed. Even if they collared him, he'd be safe enough. Scott wrapped his arms around Remy's waist. "Ready to come downstairs and answer some questions?"

"Non."

"Too bad. You look… cute," Scott said with a frown. "It'll work on the women, but most of them were on your side already. White knighting makes a good impression."

"As you tried t' tell me."

"And you'll get Logan easily. Bobby too, I think. He's older than you, but he never thinks of it. Shave before you go down." Remy nodded. "Why am I helping with this underhanded technique?"

"Because you like t' play games." Scott settled his chin on Gambit's shoulder and stared into the mirror.

"It looks like I'm robbing the cradle."

"You are… snookums." Gambit was moving before Scott could react.

"I'll get you for that one," Scott promised. "Snookums. What's next?"

"Ain't decided dat yet, cher." Remy shaved off the stubble that seemed to always dot his chin. "Why weren't you cursed wit' de scruffy gene?"

"Because I was raised to be a preppy not a rebel."

"Wouldn't mind seein' you in leather." Remy looked him up and down.

"It is definitely time for you to go downstairs."

"Or mebbe out of leather…" Scott laughed at the leer aimed in his direction.

"Come on, Slick. Time to face them." Scott stroked down Remy's back and settled his hand in the small of his back and pushed. Remy stumbled forward.

"Hey!"

"Get moving." Remy pouted. "Stuff it. You can't con me."

"Fine." Remy rolled his eyes. He took a moment to compose himself. Wide, worried eyes and teeth embedded in his lower lip completed the illusion of youth. Scott shook his head.

"The cops are going to be after me for statutory rape. I know it."

"Ain't that young, cher," Remy grinned back. When he paused at the door though, the trepidation was real. He looked over his shoulder at Scott who gestured for him to go on ahead. Remy stepped through the door and stopped short. Storm was up and moving to hug him in an instant. She wrapped her arms around him. He buried his face in her hair. "Ma petite, I didn' mean t' worry y'."

"I have missed you, brother," she told him.

"Let the boy breathe," Logan ordered and she reluctantly released him. The interrogation would be informal. That was a shame, Scott thought. Remy's mind-fuck would work better if the rest of them were in uniform. Ah well, at least they weren't totally on the attack. Remy settled down in the space Rogue patted on the couch. Scott stood by the window and looked out onto the grounds, hands clasped behind his back. He didn't approve of this action, but he knew it had to come. He was removing himself from the proceedings without removing himself from Remy. He knew the thief would appreciate it. Storm had no such compunctions and stood behind her brother, a hand on his shoulder. "So, talk, Cajun," Logan said.

"'bout what, mon ami?" Remy asked in all innocence.

"About being Sinister's whore," Warren said evenly.

"Ain't a whore, Ange," Gambit said evenly. "An' if y' call m' dat again, ole Remy's gonna pluck y' clean an' sell de feathers t' de highest bidder." The red eyes flashed and Warren rephrased the question.

"Tell us about working for Sinister."

"Y' gonna have t' be a bit more specific."

"How long did you work for him?"

"Three years or so. Den Remy walked away." The thief shrugged.

"What did you do for him?" Scott thought it was interesting that Warren had decided to be the lead in this little scene. It amused him. He was glad he was looking out the window because he could feel the smug smile tugging at the edges of his lips. Charles would be pleased that Warren was making such great leaps in coherent thought.

//I heard that,// Betsy told him. But the tone of her thoughts was lighter than usual. She thought it was funny.

//So?//

"I'm a t'ief, Ange. I steal dings." Remy rolled his eyes. "I stole plans and shit f' him. An' I recruited some independent mercs f' him. Dat's all."

"Why?" Rouge asked quietly. The room stared at her for a moment.

"Hehn?"

"Why Sinister?"

"Because m' powers were outta control an' Remy needed help wit' dem."

"How out of control are we talking here?" Bobby asked, frowning.

"Couldn' look at somet'in' wit'out blowin' it up." Gambit's voice was as icy as a winter wind and Scott straightened sharply, turning towards what only he knew as intense distress.

"How many?" Rogue asked, even more softly.

"At least fifty all told," Gambit stated. "Y' know de rest, Darkholme."

"Ah thought Ah told ya not ta call me that?"

"Sorry," he replied, not sorry at all. It was a necessary reminder for the rest of the team and he saw in her eyes that she knew it too.

"Why'd ya leave?" Logan asked, chewing on a cigar.

"Paid m' debts. Saw too much. Found out about dings dat he'd lied t' m' about. Didn' like de results. Had t' get out of dat madhouse."

"But you went back and spent at least a week there," Betsy pointed out.

"Non, a day."

"A week."

"I don' remember a week," Remy said softly. He shivered and pulled in on himself. "Don' know much from de crash t' leavin'. All I know is dat if it been a week, den Remy was hurt worse dan he dought it was. Dought it weren't more'n a day or so. An' M. Essex didn' say dere was a concussion, dough dat's possible. Scraped up m' head, mighta done more'n I remember." He shrugged and shook his head.

"You're missing an entire week?" Hank asked, suddenly concerned. "Look here, young man, this is something that you should have told me…"

"Bete, shut up," Remy said without rancor. "I only got M. Logan's word on de matter, but I dink he's honorable enough."

"There's just one more question we discussed that had to be answered tonight, why Scott?"

"Why not?" Remy asked, sharply. "Because y' want t' keep him t' y'selves? 'Cause he been hurt before? Because y' don' like m' much an' don' dink dat I got de ability t' give a damn about what happens t' him?" Gambit's mouth settled into a harsh line and after a long hard look at Warren, he finally answered the question, filling the flat silence. "Because I'd rather die den see him hurtin'. Because I know Sinister wants him an' I ain' fond of turnin' friends over t' de bastard f' dissection or worse? Because de only way t' keep him safe is t' stay? I know I been all kinds of stupid f' runnin' around de country, but I… I hurt people when I get close. Best t' stay away, non? Den I realized dat de damn fool was in danger cuz he was stupid enough t' go after one of de nastiest assholes in de country wit'out back-up or a weapon."

"How?" Betsy asked. That stopped the rising rant.

"How what?"

"How did you know he was in trouble?"

"Felt him. He dought he was gonna die. An' I couldn't not try t' help him."

"How did you get there in time?"

"Tesseract. M. Essex is fond of de boy too. Tends t' keep tabs on him." Scott finally spoke from his place.

"What did he expect you to do when he sent you here?" Cyclops asked. Gambit closed his eyes.

"Take y' away from all dis, cher."

"Meaning?" Scott demanded.

"Make y' fall in love. Make y' choose between m' and de team."

"Why run away? You were in the perfect position to force my hand three weeks ago."

"Because I can't do dat. Y'd die out dere. Y' need dis place an' dey need y' here. Dis is y' home. I can' make y' leave all dat," Remy said. His voice was raw. "Dought dat if I gave y' some distance, y'd be smart enough t' see it couldn't be love."

"Idiot."

"Oui, cher," Remy ducked his head and accepted the rebuke. "But dat's how Creed an' I crossed paths. Had m' mark in love wit' m'. He used her t' get m' score. Killt her."

"In Paris."

"Oui."

"So why come back?"

"Because I found out dat y' just as good a hostage when y' a state away as when y' be in de same house."

"Does the team have any further questions?" Cyclops asked.

Warren looked around the room. "No."

"If you'll excuse us then," Scott said. He brushed his fingers against Remy's free shoulder and the thief tilted his head back to look up at him. Storm nodded and left. She would stand by her brother no matter what, but she had to think about things. Warren left after a pointed look that was probably accompanied by a loud mental order from Betsy. Betsy nodded to Gambit. They didn't like each other. But they had an understanding of sorts. Bobby pulled Rogue to her feet. The last one to leave was Logan.

"Word of advice, kids," he said before leaving with Hank, "don't fuck this up with too much thinkin'. Remember what kinda trouble it led to last time." Scott nodded. Remy was oblivious to the advice. Scott settled on the couch. They didn't touch for once. This conversation wouldn't allow for it.

"So you were after me because Sinny told you to."

"Oui. In de beginnin'."

"Remy," Scott warned mildly.

"Sorry, Scotty. It started out for him. He gave m' your file," Remy admitted. "I worked up the con from that. But it was different when I got here. You weren't a picture no more. And I fell damn hard before I realized it. The file forgot about your sense of humor. It didn't tell m' that you like sci-fi. Or that you read philosophy f' fun. Or that you're willin' t' bend the rules. Or that you taste like cinnamon and heat. Or that you're patient wit' idiots. I knew all the rest of it. Sinister been keepin' tabs on you for a long time, cher."

"And you let me think it was all my own idea."

"I…" Remy shifted uncomfortably. "I didn't think it out all like that. Not really. But I thought it was mostly m' charm. Been known t' get outta hand. 'specially when I ain't guardin' against it. Flirtin' an' all's fun, but… it ain't never worked out goin' for more'n m' due." Scott shook his head.

"Don't bother lying to me."

"Okay, so mebbe I did have some of it planned. But that plan died early on. Around the time I ended up with the worst hangover of m' life." Scott smirked. "I weren't in love, but I knew I'd never be able t' carry it through. And after that I was just too selfish t' leave. Ain't never had a good friend before. Even mon Bella. We were friends, but we were lovers before we got married. You've met the femme."

"Yeah."

"And I told M. Essex that I wasn't gonna do it. He weren't pleased, but he weren't mad neither. It was really… uh… freaky as Miss Jubilee would say."

"Why didn't you tell me?" Scott tried very hard to keep the accusation out of his voice.

"When was I supposed t' tell you, cher?" Remy demanded.

"I don't know. Just sit me down and tell me."

"Wit'out a gun?" Remy asked with a sneer. Suddenly, the anger faded. "I'm sorry, cher. I don't mean t' snap at you."

"I know. Will you stay this time?"

"Oui, cher." Remy hesitantly put his hand over Scott's. "You mad at Remy?"

"No," Scott said softly. "I'm not mad. Not anymore. I was mad when you left. After I stopped crying," he admitted.

"You cried over m'?" Remy was alarmed. "Non, cher. You shouldn't cry over m'. Never."

"Rem, you're a stubborn idiot. I cry because I love you." Scott shrugged. "When you figure that out maybe you'll get over this self-pity kick."

"Take away m' self-pity and guilt and there ain't a whole lot left."

"And that's someone else telling you what you're supposed to feel," Scott stated. "I don't know who, but I've got a pretty good guess." Remy licked his lips. "I won't let you play games, Rem, and you know it." Scott turned his palm up and laced his fingers with Remy's. "I'm not going to let go again. If you try to leave you won't be alone and I'll fight you. I'll hold you down until you see reason. And if you sneak out, I will hunt you down even if it takes the rest of my life. Got it?"

"Oui, cher. Sounds like your talkin' marriage, cher."

"More of a long-term partnership. I did the marriage deal and it didn't work out. Yours might have, if you could've stayed in New Orleans. I don't care if you fuck your wife, because I'll freely admit that if Maddie ever showed up I'd do her in a heartbeat. But I want you to come home to me when you're done. A mutual protection against them." Scott gestured at the world outside the window. Remy nodded.

"I think I can handle that." He smirked suddenly. "You want a ring, cher?"

"I'm not the jewelry type."

"Right, cher. Silver or gold?"

"White gold."

"Oui, Scotty." They didn't speak for a long time, just sat there, staring at the blank television screen. "You gonna tuck m' in tonight?" Remy asked with a grin.

"Maybe. I might even let you have a goodnight kiss."

"That's m' Scotty." Neither one moved. "Scott?"

"Yes?"

"How long you known about M. Essex?"

"About two months after you got here." Remy's eyes snapped to his lover's face. "Don't give me looks like that. There were only a few options and you would despise Magneto. And your eyes wouldn't let you into the FOH." Scott shrugged. "And I figured there was only two people that would bother to use a thief or a spy and if you were brave enough to flirt with Rogue and not date her then it wasn't Mystique."

"Raven's not that bad."

"Yeah, but would you date her daughter?"

"I ain't suicidal. I just act that way," Remy said rolling his eyes.

"Exactly. If you'd worked for Raven you'd have gone after Rogue more completely."

"Rogue and I spend most of the time talkin' about you." Scott stopped. He shook his head.

"And with Raven out of the picture, it had to be Sinister. That was reinforced by your dislike of the med-lab. And your, well, fascination with me." Scott shrugged. "Even when you were trying to pull off being an airhead, you watched me like you watch the stock market. Like you were trying to figure out why someone would invest in me. It scared the shit out of me at first. Then, when you dropped the act things became a little easier to understand."

Remy's fingers tightened into a brief squeeze. "I didn't know how t' tell you."

"I guessed that," Scott said softly. "No more stupid attempts to run away right?"

"Right."

"Okay, then I think it's time for dinner. I'm starving. And I think Storm's cooking."

"That'd be nice."

"Maybe you should drop the accent with the rest of the team." Remy stared at him.

"Ange still wants my head."

"Remy," Scott warned.

"But, cher, I worked so hard f' that image."

"I know. But maybe we could try honesty for once."

"No promises, but, oui, Remy'll try it for a while."

"Good." Scott stood and pulled Remy to his feet.

"How's your head, cher? Creed hit you pretty badly."

"I'm fine." Scott converted the grip into a quick hug. "Honestly."

"I'm glad. You had me worried."

"Consider it payback for your more stupid and reckless stunts." Remy stuck out his tongue. "Don't stick it out unless you plan to use it."

"Who says I don’t?" Remy purred. He placed a quick kiss on Scott's cheek. "Just not t'night. I've got a headache."

*****

Scott watched Gambit out of the corner of his eye. He was glad for the glasses. They covered his concern nicely. The younger man wasn't eating all that much. He looked a little rough around the edges. Not that anyone else at the table would notice, but he spent more time with the man. Even Storm hadn't noticed, but she seemed to be taken up in processing some internal conflict. No, it wasn't his imagination, the tension was there on the side of his eyes and in the way his hair had been allowed to fall over his eyes again. It was a way of hiding himself from the attention of the others. Scott glanced around the table. The only other person who even seemed to see the thief was Logan. The Canadian was frowning in Remy's general direction, but didn't say a word. Gambit eventually tired of pushing his food around on his plate and set down his fork. He sat there at the table, silent and still. Cyclops' eyes narrowed. The little sneak was doing it on purpose. He was hiding himself somehow. It was probably some low level psi thing that had to do with the empathy that Emma said was completely latent.

Suddenly, Scott wondered how fine a control it would take to appear untrained. His gut didn't like the answer. Gambit was too practiced in the art of deception. It was all a trick. But was it even a conscious one? Did he know how he got his results or did he just trust in his luck? It was something they'd have to sort out before bed, no matter how tired they were. Scott excused himself and wasn't surprised to find that Remy had slipped out to the kitchen behind him.

"That was rude."

"They won't even remember I was at the table," Remy countered in a low voice.

"We need to talk about things like that."

"Oui, Cyke. But upstairs?"

"My room or yours?"

"Yours. They'll be lookin' for us in mine."

"True. Come on. I think I've still got that spare toothbrush." Remy grinned and put out a hand. Scott took it and led the way up the stairs. It felt good to have the soft leather brushing his palm again. He gave the thief a little shove towards the bed. Gambit kicked off his boots and sat cross-legged on the bed, looking like a kid. "Don't try to con me, brat. What the fuck was that down there?"

"Just keepin' things from gettin' out of hand, cher." Remy chewed on his lip.

"Out of hand? In what way?"

"I didn't want t' answer anymore questions. Scotty, I. . ."

"Shut up and listen to me very carefully, Slick. You will *never* use your powers against any member of this team again. Baring the Danger Room of course."

Remy flinched back as if he'd been hit and Scott realized that he was using the Cajun's powers against him. "They were so angry, cher. Remy just didn' want t' deal wit' it. Je suis desole. Won' happen again." Remy looked down at the floor, hands folded in his lap.

Scott took a deep breath and let the anger go. He lifted Remy's chin. "I'm sorry, Remy. I shouldn't have gotten that angry about something so stupid. You've done it hundreds of times and no one's ever been hurt by it. It's no different than Jean using her TK to do the dishes. I can't tell you not to do it. Besides, it’s not like Drake ever listens to that rule." He brushed back the bangs and traced over the healing scar. He placed a gentle kiss on it. "Forgive me?"

"Y' always f'given, Scotty. Y' don't need t' ask. Remy ain't gonna ever not f'give. He remembers, oui, but…. . ."

Scott pulled the thief to his feet. "Remember what we talked about?"

"Cher?"

"About the third person thing."

"Y' don' like it."

"It's not good for you. Come here. Stand in front of the mirror. Say it."

"I'm Remy."

"Again."

"Dis is stupid."

"Again."

"I'm Remy."

"Again."

"I'm Remy."

"Now, what were you going to tell me?"

"I'll always f'give y', mon couer. I couldn't live with the thought of hating you. I'll remember it. But I won't let it stand in the way." Their eyes met in the mirror. "I'm sorry I ran away."

"I'm sorry I sprung things on you like I did."

"Je t'aime, Scotty."

"I love you too, Rem." Scott wrapped his arms around Remy's chest and rested his cheek on the younger man's shoulder. "Come to bed with me?"

"Oui, cher."

*****

"Are you sure you're okay with this?" Scott asked before laying another devastatingly sweet kiss on Remy's lips.

"Scott, I ain't a virgin. I ain't an innocent. Just shut up and get on with it. I've been waitin' near on two years for dis." Remy ran delicate fingers along Scott's jaw. He darted in for a quick pick, but Scott's fingers buried themselves in the long auburn locks and held him close for a long, electric kiss.

Scott stopped worrying as his lover straddled his thighs and moved closer. Remy's fingers stroked through Scott's hair and down his neck. A knock on the door parted them. "Yeah? Who is it?"

"Hank." Remy grumbled, but slid off of Scott's lap.

"I'll be upstairs," he purred. He slid past Hank and out of the office. Hank smirked at the Cajun's high color and disheveled hair.

"I didn't mean to interrupt you," he said to Scott as he closed the door. Scott shook his head.

"We can pick it up later. What's up?"

"I've discovered some interesting things about Gambit's heritage, and I need to speak with you before I tell him what I've found."

"That bad?" Hank sighed.

"For him, I believe it will be."

"Sit down. Tell me." Hank settled on the couch and Scott joined him. Looking over his shoulder at the papers he held.

"Remy was engineered." Scott felt his stomach twist. "There are four distinct sets of DNA. I have identified two of those strands and I have suspicions on a third."

"Who?"

"Victor Creed."

"Fuck!"

"Indeed. Sinister."

"No."

"And the third strand, I believe, comes from the Grey family. But it is not a strand we have on record."

"Shit. God damn it!" Scott glared at Hank. "You have to tell him."

"I can do that immediately, if you wish."

"That would probably be the best." Scott flipped on the intercom. "Gambit, my office."

*****

"Y' called?" Remy asked, with a bright smile. The smile faltered when he saw Hank. He closed the door. "I ain't gonna like dis?"

"No," Scott agreed. Scott held out a hand. Remy took it as he settled next to his lover. Scott put his arm around Remy's shoulders and pull him close. "Hank did some blood tests."

"Oui?"

"He ran your DNA against our records." Remy shivered.

"If he's gonna tell m' I'm a Summers, I'm gonna puke."

"No, you are not a Summers," Hank assured.

"Merci, Dieu." Scott went for the ribs and Remy squirmed with a laugh.

"There are four distinct DNA strands…"

"Dat ain't possible, is it?" Remy asked, frowning. "At least, not in de books Remy's read."

"Not by any natural means," Hank stated.

Remy arched away from the others. "Non!" He shook his head firmly. "Y' wrong, Henri. Y' wrong."

"I checked the results three times."

"Den he really is Remy's father. He ain't been just messin' with Remy's head," Remy murmured.

"I've identified two of these strings." The thief curled into the offered embrace. Scott stroked through Gambit's loose hair. "Victor Creed and Sinister."

"Dere's somet'in' else," Remy prompted.

"Yes," Hank said with a soothing smile. "I believe one of the strands is related to the Grey family." Remy laughed bitterly.

"Of course. Who else?"

"I haven't identified any other…"

"Dat was rhetorical, cher," Remy drawled. His voice was muffled by Scott's shoulder. "Merci, Bete, but I weren't all dat curious 'bout m' parents."

"Liar," Scott stated.

"If you need to talk, Remy, I am always available."

"Merci." Hank left them alone. "Merde." Scott held him tightly. "I want t' kill him, cher."

"I know, Babe."

"But it ain't Hank's fault."

"No, it isn't."

"I should kill Essex then," Remy said, closing his eyes. Scott rocked him gently.

"Oh, Rem," he sighed. "If you're going to kill Sinister, you'll have the team behind you. Just let me know. I think we can definitely get Warren and Logan. Storm will come for you. Bobby will come for me. Betsy will go along with it for Warren's sake. Rogue will come because she gets bloodthirsty and she's your friend. Maybe we should invite your wife?" Remy snickered.

"Non, cher. She'll want t' do it all herself. Mebbe I'll just put a hit out on him." Scott laughed.

"I tried that," he admitted. "Of course, I couldn't afford too much, but I had a pet hacker access some money from a mob account for me."

"And what happened t' this hacker?"

"He started snorting glue and other things until his brain was completely fried."

Remy snickered softly. "Can't believe this, cher. Can't believe that after wishin' t' know f' so long that Sinister ain't been stringin' me along. I t'ought he was just adoptin' me, y' know. T' keep Creed away, oui?"

"Yeah, I know the idea." Scott stroked Remy's hair. "You okay, Babe?"

"Non, I'm a long way from okay, Scotty. A long way."

"I'm with you. For as long as it takes, Remy. For as long as it takes."

"Merci, Scotty. That means more'n y'll ever know."

*****

Scott was hunched over the newspaper at the kitchen table. Remy smirked to himself. He crept up and slipped his arms around him. He kissed the back of Scott's throat. "Bonjour, cher." He held out his hand, exposing a ring. It was a plain white gold band. Scott leaned back into the embrace and plucked the ring from Remy's palm. "Told you I wasn't into jewelry, Cajun."

"So?"

"Put it on?"

"Sure." Remy slid it onto Scott's finger. He displayed the matching ring on his own finger.

"This makes it official, Rems. You're a sap."

"Oui. So?"

"Kiss me."

"Oui, cher." Remy straddled Scott's legs and kissed him.

"Cyke! We got trouble!" Bobby yelled down the hall.

"Sapriste!"

"Fuck. Let's go."

*****

"You locked the door, oui?"

"Yes."

"Officially, we're not on the grounds, right?"

"Yes, Remy."

"And we ain't on call?"

"No, Remy." Scott rolled his eyes.

"Think we might actually get all the way?"

"Possibly. With our luck the mansion'll burn down."

"Too bad. Come here, cher. I brought wine."

Scott settled on the bed, resting his head on Remy's shoulder. Remy rested his cheek against Scott's hair, reveling in the smell of him. They stayed that way, sipping occasionally at the wine, not talking. Remy stroked Scott's hair. After half an hour, Remy set down his glass and straddled his lover. He leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on Scott's forehead. "Je t'aime."

"I know." Remy kissed the tip of Scott's nose, then his lips. He explored Scott's mouth as if it were new territory. His tongue slipped across even, white teeth. He stroked and soothed. His eyes slipped closed and he deepened the kiss. Scott responded enthusiastically. His tongue darted to duel for control of the kiss. Finally, they broke apart slowly. Remy nibbled at Scott's lower lip. He trailed his mouth along Scott's jaw. He nipped sharply at the hinge of his jaw, then soothed the bite with his tongue. He moved down the tense column of Scott's throat. He paused to suckle and bite just below Scott's Adam's apple, leaving a very distinct mark.

Then, the sirens went off. Remy rested his forehead on Scott's chest. "This is startin' t' piss ole Remy off, cher."

*****

The flames flickered off the dark lenses of Remy's glasses. He stared up at the burning hotel for a long moment. Then, his lip twitched. He forced down the grin, but the laughter built anyway. Scott frowned at the snickering thief. Their clothes were smoky and streaked with soot. Remy's grin was even brighter set in his soot-streaked face. "What?" Scott demanded.

The Cajun gestured helplessly at the hotel and then between the two of them. "Dis is probably our fault." Scott shut his eyes.

"What?" he asked more patiently.

"We were kissin', cher." Scott

"True." They were being pointed out to the police and the reporters. "Cameras and cops."

"That's your fault. You're too nice. I keep tellin' you. We shouldn' have gotten those kids." Scott snorted. "All right. All right. I know." Scott caught him around the neck with a one armed hug. "No messin' wit' de hair, homme."

"No accent for the camera, Babe."

"Sure thang, Sugah." Caught off guard by that, Scott grinned.

"Careful. I might just have to tell her about that one."

"This one work for you?" It was a non-descript, but vaguely southern accent. Scott nodded.

"You got a cigarette?"

"No. You wanted me to quit," Remy reminded him.

"Too bad."

"Gentlemen, I'm Detective McGowen. I'd like to get your accounts of this fire."

"Only if you can keep those vultures away from us." McGowen nodded. Scott tugged on Remy's ponytail and nodded towards the little diner across the way. "You get us some coffee?"

"Sure. How do you like it, Detective?"

"Black. Thanks." Remy wandered over to the diner, sliding between the clumps of people without getting a second glance. McGowen evaluated the young man in front of him. He put his age at around thirty. He noted a slight bit of defensiveness in his shoulders. "Tell me what happened."

"Fine. At about half past nine, we stuck the room service trays outside the door. Rem was trying to convince me that going out for a drink was a good idea. But, since the whole idea of this weekend was to get away from everything, I convinced him that going out would be tempting fate. He'd run into an ex or an old friend and we'd end up getting sucked into the middle of something and never get any rest.

"At any rate, we'd just started watching whatever Star Trek movie was on pay-per-view. We missed it when it came out," Scott explained. "We weren't any more than fifteen minutes in when Remy noticed smoke. Who knows why, but the alarms weren't going off. We grabbed our coats and shoes, just in case and investigated further.

"There was smoke in the hall and we knew we had to get out. We also knew there were three kids down the hall. Their parents had gone out to dinner with some friends and had left the twelve year old in charge of the younger ones. Rem had entertained them with card tricks for a few minutes. We wanted to make sure they were okay, so we knocked on the door and got them to come with us.

"We knocked on every door on the hall as we went and sent them down the fire stairs. Rem remembered there was an old lady on the floor above us. He'd helped her with her bags. So he went up to help her down the stairs. The alarms never went off, and we had to carry the kids and the lady out of the lobby because the paper had caught on fire and the back door was blocked. Someone did the same thing on the floor above us and below us." Scott shrugged.

"Coffee?" Remy asked handing out cups. "The waitress is Pam. She might've seen somethin' because she's been on shift since six." McGowen nodded.

"I'll go check on Mrs. Warren," Scott said.

"One moment. Your name and phone number?"

"Scott Summers. 555-9870."

"Thank you. Now, if you'd give me your statement, sir?"

"Well, Scotty and I were watching Star Trek, er, VIII, I think. We'd just finished dinner and argued about going out. He's such a bore sometimes Well, we ain't much farther in than the opening tag when I smelled smoke. We grabbed our things and went to check it out. The alarms weren't ringin' so I weren't all that worried, but it looked bad. Better safe than sorry, right? Scotty remembered the brats were alone so we went and got them. Then, we went 'round to the doors on the hall, tellin' them what we saw and pointin' out the exits.

"About that time I remembered Mrs. Warren. She has this exquisite ruby and diamond necklace. Well, I'd carried her bags for her and convinced her to put her jewels down in the main vaults. They're better'n that one in her room at least. She ain't up to stairs so I carried her a ways. Scott managed to keep the kids together, but they got scared at the lobby flames so we carried them out. And Mrs. Warren too. That vault should be fireproof, don’t you think? It'd be a shame if that necklace got melted."

"And your name for the records?"

"Remy LeBeau. L-e capital B-e-a-u." Remy rattled off the address and phone number of the school.

"You two are from Xavier's?" McGowen raised a brow.

"We are. There a problem?"

"No, sir," McGowen said. The children's statements and the old woman's statement would determine whether or not they were lying. "One last question. Off the record."

"Yes?"

"What's your relationship to Summers?"

Remy just smiled sweetly. "None of your business, Officer." Remy joined Scott where he sat on the curb. "Is it a bad thing for a cop t' say 'you're from Xavier's'?"

"Yep."

"Thought so."

"But this is Salem Center not the city so it's not as bad as it could be."

"Optimist."

"Yeah. We're screwed."

"I wish." Remy sighed and sipped at his coffee. "How's Mrs. Warren?"

"She's fine." Scott rubbed a hand over his face. "I need a shower."

"And a bed." Remy noticed something, or rather someone in the crowd. "Look, it's de calvalry."

"Fuck me," Scott muttered.

"Okay." Scott caught the playful lunge with his shoulder. "That's better. You're smilin' again." Scott curled a piece of Gambit's hair around his finger.

"So, where can we go?"

"Well, Logan's probably thinkin' the Mansion's safer. Maybe we'll get him t' stand guard. You think the detective's done with us?"

"Yeah. Unless someone decides we're suspects. You know the type. They set fires so they can be heroes."

"I ain't hero material." Logan stalked over to them.

"It just ain't safe lettin' ya outta yer cage," he told Scott. "I brought the van. Come on." They waved at McGowen as they left.

"Is this going to be as big of a mess as I think?" Scott asked.

"Yep. It was arson."

"Merde. Why? Dat's so sloppy."

"Cajun?"

"Oui?"

"Lose the accent, Gumbo. I've heard ya talk normally."

"Bastard." Remy sighed. "It's still sloppy. Insurance fraud? Cover up?"

"Assassination attempt?"

"That weren't no self-respectin' assassin. It's too sloppy. Precision is the hallmark of a good assassin. Dat was amateur night."

They went into the mansion, Logan herding the other two forward. "Yer both still off duty," he informed them. "So go on up and get comfy."

*****

"Wash y' back, cher?" Remy offered with a sly grin.

"Our first time will not be in the shower," Scott informed him. "But sure, if you behave yourself." Remy stuck out his tongue.

"Fine. Spoilsport."

The hot water soothed way Scott's tension. Gambit's deft fingers stroked down his spine in a gentle massage. Then, they worked back up his back. "Why're you so tense, cher?" Scott shrugged. "You ain't angry. You're horny, oui. But you're so tense. Right here's always bad," he said, pressing at the back of Scott's neck. "I'll give you a proper rub down after." Scott allowed Remy to wash his hair for him as well. At least he didn't have to worry about choosing the wrong bottle.

Eventually the water started to cool. They escaped the cold and retired to the bed. Remy went to work on all of Scott's muscles. Scott lay face down, chin propped on his hands. Remy lifted one foot and gently from toe to heel. He did the same for the second. Then, he worked up the back of Scott's calves. He gave extra attention to the thighs and lower back. Scott's little whimpers of pleasure made Remy pause to keep his control.

He laid a gentle line of kisses up Scott's back as he worked. He stopped to pay special attention to the back of Scott's neck. He nuzzled it gently, using his mouth and tongue as much as his fingers to loosen the muscle. Once that was done he worked on Scott's hands. He kissed each knuckle gently as he worked carefully on them. He laid a kiss in the center of each palm before reaching the wrists. He laid another kiss at the bend of each elbow. Then, he manipulated each shoulder and moved along the collar until Scott thought he would never move again. Scott let his eyes slip closed and rested his forehead on the mattress.

He found himself being turned over gently. He opened his eyes to find Remy smiling down at him. "Feel good?" he asked as he straddled his lover's thighs.

"Yeah," Scott said dreamily. Remy kissed him then, gentle, sweet and longing. For a long moment Remy simply explored Scott's mouth, bracing himself on his hands so only their mouths and groins touched.

"Je t'amie."

"Love you too, Slick." Remy trailed his lips down Scott's throat, leaving and undeniable bruise at the base on the left. Scott arched into the contact. Remy moved down to pay attention to the small pink nubs hiding in the soft brown scatter of hair. Scott tangled a hand in the long chestnut hair and held him to the task.

"Y' like that?" Remy teased.

"What gave you your first clue?" Remy snickered and rubbed against his lover's hardening cock.

"Just a guess." His fingers stroked down the washboard abs and tangled in the soft curls below them. Scott stroked Remy's firm ass and thigh with his free hand. Remy's mouth lowered to Scott's navel as his hands drifted up to tweak the hard nipples. Scott squirmed under the attention, cock hard.

Remy darted up for quick kiss and to whisper, "I want you in me." Scott shivered. His hands settled on the slim hips. "Lube?"

"Drawer." Scott pulled open the drawer and Remy sifted through it with one hand, emerging triumphantly with the tube. Remy gave Scott a lingering kiss. Scott caught him before he could move away and reversed their positions.

He grinned at Remy's surprise. "Thought you had me pliable?"

"Oui." Remy took Scott's weight happily though.

"My turn," he said firmly. His hands settled on Remy's upper arms, holding him still as Scott started his assault. First, a wildfire kiss that left them both panting. Then, kisses and nips along Gambit's collar-bone that made him shiver.

"Cher?" Remy purred. "More'n ready. Know you are too. Sil tu plait, don' drag dis out."

"Soon," Scott promised. He lapped at a droplet of sweat, tasting salt and spice. Remy dropped his outer shields. The wave of lust and love nearly made him lose control. He purred somewhere deep in his chest and twisted trying to free his arms so he could surround his lover. "Soon," Scott whispered again. He placed an almost chaste kiss on Remy's lips. "It's been a long time, Rem." Gambit bit his lip, but didn't say anything. Instead, he let his empathy wash over Scott, bombarding his shields until he found a tiny crack in them. Scott's eyes closed as the warmth slid somewhere deep in his soul. He lowered himself and kissed his lover just below his ear. The touch deepened the contact and Scott carefully took down the shield that Xavier had forced him to make. Jean had needed him to be closed off. She couldn't separate thoughts when she'd first arrived at the mansion.

Remy's breath caught as he gained full access to all that was Scott. At his deepest core, the powerful flame of love, the innate sense of justice, the pain, the anger, the yearning, the fears, and the joys, all the emotions and spectrum that made Scott who he was. "Exquis," Remy purred. With the last semblance of calculating self-protection he had, he reviewed his shields, then dropped them letting the link flow both ways.

Scott felt tears sting his eyes. "Oh God," he whispered. The overwhelming emotional connection made the return to the physical seem unreal. The firm pressure of a cock lying against his own forced him back into his own mind. He felt the gentle vibration run up his over-sensitive cock as Remy's chest rose and fell. Instinctually, he moved his hips, cock brushing against cock. He felt his lover move into the action and repeated the movement until the low moan broke his control. The warm fluid spurted between them, the final sealing of their relationship. He felt Remy collapse into bonelessness and joined him there for a moment of mindless bliss.

A long moment later, he found his voice. "What was that, Remy?" he whispered.

"Y' felt m' soul, cher," Remy murmured. Scott pulled off his glasses so he could lay his head somewhere other than his lover's shoulder without scratching him.

"Oh. Okay." Remy blinked as Scott snuggled closer. "Glad I'm a good judge of character." Gambit opened his mouth and shut it again, not sure if he'd just been insulted or not. "I don't want to get up for a shower you know."

"I dink I understand, cher," Remy said sleepily. "Dere's a towel on de floor from m' hair dat'll do de job I dink."

"Will it involve me moving?"

"Non, jus' hold on." Remy rolled slightly to the side and snagged the towel with the tips of his fingers. It was still damp enough to do what they needed to. He carefully cleaned them both off, settling Scott on his side. He took away the shades and settled back down, dropping the towel on the floor.

"Your accent gets stronger under stress."

"Only wit' people I trust," the thief told him. "And y' think too much after sex."

"Best way to clear my mind of interfering thoughts."

"So, the next time you get stuck on somethin', I've got permission t' kiss you stupid."

"Yeah. Just not in front of Logan."

"Cause he'll get jealous?" Scott snickered. Logan's feelings were a long running joke to him. Remy hadn't known about Logan's attraction to Jean. Or his promises to her.

"No, idiot, because he'll start grumbling about needing to lock us in a room somewhere."

"Like that'd last." Remy settled his head under Scott's chin. They were about the same height, but he liked being tucked close. Scott's arms tightened around him. "G'night, cher."

"Sweet dreams, Slick."

*****

There was a discrete knock on the door of Scott's room. Remy grumbled something and snuggled deeper into his "pillow." Scott's fingers sought his glasses, which were in their usual spot. Remy's hand caught his wrist. "Non. We ain't in." Scott chuckled.

"It could be important." Remy sighed. He let Scott move. He looked up at him from the midst of the bed as he went to answer the door.

"Room service," Logan said, handing Scott a tray. He sternly controlled the urge to look Scott up and down. He shut the door, the after-image of a naked Scott still burned into his mind.

"Breakfast?" Scott asked his lover. Remy rolled his eyes.

"Non. Merci." He didn't bother with not staring. He liked looking at Scott. "This mean I can leave m' clothes here now?"

"Like you haven't been doing that for six months or so?"

"Officially."

"Yes. If you'd like. You should eat. You're going to need your strength." Remy blinked.

"Oh. Didn't know eatin' turned y' on, cher."

"It's not the food I'm interested in." Remy blushed as Scott leered. He looked terribly young and Scott wondered what had just frightened him.

"'Bout last night…"

"You didn't like it?"

Remy shook his head. "That ain't what I was t'inkin'. Remy ain't never disliked sex. But I…" He trailed off. "Ain't you disgusted by m'? By what y' saw?" Scott blinked. He shook his head.

"Rem, you aren't evil or bad. You're hurt, yes. You're scared, yes. But under it all you're a good person. I've known that for a hell of a long time." Scott carefully fixed the coffee for his lover.

Remy studied the patterns of the sheet. "Scotty, I *ain't* a good person. Y' t'ink I am, mebbe. But I didn' have far t' fall when I met up with Essex. I hired Creed after he killed a woman I was sleepin' with. I would have done anyt'in' Essex wanted t' y' when I go here. I broke in t' this place and handed over the security specs t' him. I'm not good. I'm not sweet. I'm not kind. A good actor, me."

"Rem, shut up," Scott said fondly, handing over the perfected cup of coffee. "I *saw* the real you last night. You can't fake that. No one can. And I can still feel you." He tapped his heart. "I know that right now you're embarrassed, scared, ashamed and guilty. I can tell you this. If you were evil, you wouldn't feel any regret for what you've done. You wouldn't feel guilty. I trust you, Slick. More than you trust yourself sometimes, I think. Don't go angsting over things okay?" Scott tapped the white gold band on Remy's hand. "We're in this together remember?"

"Oui, cher." Remy sipped his coffee. "Come back here."

"Haven't gotten your snuggle quota yet?"

"Not even close to it." Scott settled next to his thief. He put an arm around the younger man and pulled him close. He sipped at his own coffee carefully. Unconsciously, he started stroking the curve of Remy's stomach. Remy's tongue dashed out to catch a drop of coffee from his lips. "So what's the plan today, oh, Imperious One?"

"Remy?"

"Oui?"

"Shut up."

"Yes, dear." Scott kissed the top of Remy's head. "So?"

"We are going to do nothing."

"Not'in'? Not even kissin'?"

"Well, you might be able to convince me to do that. This is as close as you're getting to a honeymoon after all."

The Cajun snickered and settled just a little bit closer. He let his eyes slide shut. He didn't even register when Scott took the coffee from his fingers. Scott looked down at the almost sleeping thief. Damn, he looked good. Especially with that shadow of bristles starting in on his cheeks. And the morning erection that tented the sheet. "I'll be right back," Scott murmured and went to the bathroom to pee and brush his teeth.

"Y' want me t' make y' some toast?"

"Non, merci."

"I'll have y' speakin' proper one of these days."

*****

Scott stroked down Remy's spine slowly. He placed a reverent kiss in the small of the Cajun's back. "I want to mark you," he whispered.

"Cher?" Remy twisted to look over his shoulder. He raised his brows.

"I want to mark you," Scott repeated.

"How?'

"A tattoo just here." He stroked the soft skin he'd just kissed. "Poison ivy leaves with 'you can look but you better not touch' above them."

Remy snickered. "Cute. Not 'property of Scotty Summers'?"

"Nope. You think on it. In the meantime." Scott bent to leave a dark, sucking bruise.

"Dieu, Scotty." Remy laid passive under the assault, body tingling. He folded his hands under his head. He arched up into Scott's mouth. "Y' best be plannin' on doin' more."

Scott grinned. "Why?"

"Because I’m so hot f' y', I'm gonna burn up."

"Tell me what you need, Slick." Scott returned to his project.

"Merde! Don' tease po' Remy so!" Remy writhed under Scott. "Wanna feel y' splittin' m' open wit' y'r cock. Wanna feel dat pleasure wit' a touch of pain. I need y' in me hot and hard. I wanna be claimed. Need y' so bad I can taste y'r flavor on my lips. Need t' feel y'r hands clamped tight over m' wrists, holdin' m' down, keepin' m' from jerkin' off." Scott hummed encouragingly as the bruise blossomed under his touch. He loved it when Remy worked himself into a frenzy. "Need t' feel y'r cock so deep I'll be feelin' it in the mornin'. Need t' melt int' y'r pleasure. Need y' t' unmake m' and rebuild m' wit' y'r voice in m' ears like my own personal line t' God. Need y'r mouth sealed over mine takin' m' breath and fillin' me up with the taste of y'. Dieu, Scotty, need it so bad I could weep."

Scott covered Remy's body with his own. "I want to hear you beg," he growled.

Remy moaned. Scott kissed his way down Remy's back. The thief trembled. "Fuck m', Scotty. Use me. Please, cher. Sil tu plait. Encule. Fill m'. Make m' burst. Please. Please." Scott let the words rush over him, falling into the spell. He reached for the lube. He slicked his cock and pressed himself forward without bothering to prepare his lover. Remy was more than ready anyway. He thrust back trying to impale himself. "Please, cher. Fast an' hard an' deep. Sil tu plait. T'encule moi! Please. Please. Need y' so bad. Please."

Scott slipped into the hard clench of muscle and gasped. His eyes closed so he could focus solely on the feel of Remy beneath him. The Cajun was fucking himself, not even worrying about Scott. Scott's hips moved to join the fun. Remy was flying high. There was nothing in the world except his lover, hot and heavy and present. He lost himself in sensation and emotion. He could feel Scott's emotions rush over him, and surrendered to them. They came together.

After his brain was vaguely coherent, Remy whispered, "oui."

"Hmmm?"

"Oui, cher. I'm y'rs. Do what y' like wit' m'."

Scott grinned. He stroked the bruised skin with his thumb. "My Cajun. Sinister can just go fuck himself."

Remy snickered. "He ain't int' that. He t'inks it's a waste of genetic material."

"Huh?"

"Used t' read m' the riot act. Victorian prig."

Scott snickered and snuffled the silken threads of Remy's hair.

****

Scott rubbed the salve onto the tattoo. "It's cold," Remy whined.

"Hush."

Remy sighed. Scott taped on a clean bandage. "So what's f' dinner t'night, cher?"

"I don't know, what are you making?"

Remy rolled his eyes. "Scotty."

Scott smacked his ass lightly. "Come on. Let's check out the freezer. There's got to be something in there."

*****

Rogue stopped dead and backtracked a few steps. Remy was working, without a shirt, in the garden. She stared. She was fairly certain he hadn't had a tattoo last time she check. She stepped closer. He looked over his shoulder at her with a grin. "Come t' help?"

"No way, sugah. Just about to help Scott with the shed's roof." She looked carefully at the tattoo. "When did ya get that?"

"Bout a month back."

"And ya didn't show me?" Rogue was pissed. They were supposed to be friends.

Remy blushed. "Well, there ain't been time exactly. Wanted it t' heal. Worried about allergies, me."

"Looks fine to me. That message for me, Swamp Rat?" She raised a brow.

"F' everyone." Remy smirked. "Part of that mile long mean streak I t'ink."

Rogue laughed. "Scotty getting possessive?"

"Always was, non?" Remy said fondly.

"True, sugah. True. Wait 'til I tell everyone else."

"Merde."

*****

Scott slipped his hand under the waistband of Remy's jeans to stroke the tattoo. He felt the smug smile curling up his lips, but did nothing about it. Remy looked up from the financial reports he was managing. "Need somethin', Scotty?"

"Nope. Just came to check on you."

He stroked more firmly and the Cajun started to squirm. "Cher?"

"Yes?" He said innocently.

"Y' keep that up, this ain't gonna get done."

"Oh?"

"Yeah, oh, merde, cher." Remy leaned against Scott's side. "Y' make me feel like a teenager."

"Good." Scott dropped a kiss to Remy's bangs. "Come up when your done. It's late, Babe."

"Oui, cher. I'll be up soon." Remy smiled up at his lover. "Real soon wit' motivation like this."

*****

"Professor!" Bobby cried, "you're back. There's *so* much to tell you. And show you." Bobby grinned. Xavier did a quick scan of the grounds.

"Is everyone alright?"

"Yep. We haven't had any casualties since Gambit brought Storm back. I'll tell him there's another for dinner. You're lucky. He's making catfish. Logan and Bishop caught it fresh this morning. And Storm just harvested the corn. Jubes is here now. And Cannonball. Remy's baking too." Bobby continued to chatter as they walked through the mansion.

"Remy? Where's the. . ." Scott's voice called from his office.

"Second drawer on the right filin' cabinet!" an unfamiliar voice replied.

"Merci!"

"That would be?" the professor prompted.

"Gambit," Bobby confirmed. "Hey, Gumbo, got extra?"

"Always. Y' finally get a date, cher?" the young man teased without turning. "Who's that wit' y'?"

"Professor Charles Xavier."

"Bonjour. I'll shake hands in a minute. I don't want the crepes over-done. Y' allergic t' anyt'in', Professeur?"

"No."

"Good."

"May I ask how long you've been with the team?"

"Goin' on t'ree years now. Name's Remy LeBeau. Y' can call me Gambit."

"Rems, the duplicates of the certification forms aren't under 'c.' Hi, Professor," Scott said coming in with a file in his hand. He did a double take. "Professor! You're back."

"Scott." Xavier smiled.

Gambit felt a sliver of jealously and forced it down. He forced himself to focus on dinner. "Bobby?"

"Yeah?"

"Is Emma coming tonight?"

"Yes. She had a new student for us. She thinks he'll be better off here."

"Okay. Could you get Warren to set up a room for him and ask Betsy to air out le professeur's room and make sure the guest bathroom has clean towels?"

"Sure." Bobby left the kitchen. Xavier was busy greeting Storm and Wolverine.

"Gumbo, toss me a beer would you?"

"Here, Logan." Remy said tossing him one, then pulling out the raspberries he'd been after in the first place.

"Thanks, kid."

Remy nodded.

Charles Xavier was pleased to be with his children again. He blinked when he realized that he could no longer read Scott or Ororo. Even Bobby's mental shields were stronger. He couldn't read the cook either. He studied the young man as his students greeted him warmly. The auburn hair was streaked by sun created highlights, much like the red he could see in Scott's mahogany hair now. He was graceful, probably a gymnast. And he was handsome, even if his clothes needed the aid of a needle.

A sharp whistle got everyone's attention, even the newly arrived Warren and Betsy. "Y'all got five minutes t' get ready f' dinner. Rogue, y' get another place set up?"

"Sure, sugah."

Xavier found himself ushered forcefully to the dining room. "Which wine did you want me to open?" Scott called through the door.

"De rose!"

"Eighty-six?"

"Passable." Scott opened the bottle and set it on the sideboard. "Need a hand here, cher!"

"Coming!" Scott left he professor alone. He returned with a bowl of greens and a plate of cornbread. Soon the table was full of food and people. The group chattered happily about the latest gossip and speculated about Emma's newest candidate for the team.

//Scott?//

//Yes, sir?//

//My reports?//

//Are in your in-box.//

Xavier was startled.

//I made a copy for you every week and after every major mission. I knew you'd come back.//

*****

The professor was sitting behind his desk, calmly sipping his tea. Scott was in the visitor's chair, sitting ramrod straight. "So you are with Remy."

"Yes, sir."

Xavier nodded. "I have to ask how this came about." Scott smiled. Xavier knew with a sinking feeling that he wasn't going to be able to discourage this relationship easily. He'd have to try psychic manipulation, but the boy's shields would make that difficult. "You must admit that he's no Jean Grey."

Scott's smile grew wider. "He is a Grey though."

Xavier blinked.

"Partly at least."

"I think I may need more tea for this."

"I'll make a pot."

*****

"What the fuck are ya up to, Slim?"

Scott looked up from the paperwork he was working on with a scowl. "What are you talking about?" Logan slammed the door with a kick and stalked across the office until he was leaning across the desk.

"What the fuck are ya doin' to Remy?"

Scott's frown deepened. "You tell me why he smells like your cologne first. Did he seduce you or did you get to him?"

Logan's punch knocked Scott from his chair. He looked up, stunned as Wolverine's claws pricked at his throat. A slow trickle of blood spilled down Scott's jaw, but he made no move to wipe it off. "Yer boy spent an hour sobbin' on my shoulder today." Logan grabbed Scott's hand and pressed it to the damp flannel. "Ya know why?"

"Guilt?"

"He thinks he ain't good enough. He thinks ya don't love him because yer precious Xavier don't like him. He says ya closed off yer link. I did some checkin', Scott. Do ya know what happens when an empath don't feel anythin'? Do ya know what happens to a kid who believes that the only reason he's got fer livin', fer ever bein' born, is the one who's keepin' him out? Didja know he's been talkin' to Hank about Prozac? Yer destroyin' him, Scott. I never thought I'd be defendin' yer kinchin-cove Cajun from *you*. Yer gonna take care of this, boy," Logan growled.

"Why?"

"Because yer killin' him, boy."

"No, why are you so interested?"

"Because I'm the only one who seems to notice. Ya love him?"

Scott nodded without hesitation. "More than anything."

"Then take care of him, Slim. Don't let Xavier split ya up. I know he ain't Jeannie. But damn it, Scott, he'd go to Hell fer ya and never even whimper."

"You've made your point, Logan."

"He's in the rec room. He was starin' out the window last time I saw." Logan retracted his claws.

*****

Remy sipped at his cocoa, not tasting it. Xavier was watching "Backdraft" with almost everyone else in the house. Logan and Scott weren't there. Even Hank had emerged from his cave. Remy had scrubbed the tear streaks from his face, but he could feel Rogue's concern and Xavier's disapproval.

The Cajun leaned his head against the wall as he stared out over the moonlight yard. He still didn't know what he'd done wrong. Hell, he'd even stopped flirting with Rogue. He watched as Logan wandered off into the woods and noted the time. If he wasn't back in 24 hours someone would have to go after him.

He didn't hear Scott come in. He sensed everyone in the room go hyper-vigilant and put it down to the movie. Scott hardly ever left his office these days unless it was for a mission or training. Remy had kept up his midnight paperwork shifts, but Scott never seemed to notice anymore. He jumped when Scott's hand slid beneath his shirt and under the waistband of his jeans to rest possessively on the tattoo there.

"Hey, Babe," Scott said softly. He consciously opened his side of the link.

"Hey." Remy shivered. He turned into Scott's arms and dropped his head to Scott's shoulder.

"I think we should talk."

Remy sucked in a breath.

"No, Babe. Not like that." Scott lifted Remy's chin and kissed him. He heard the professor's startled gasp and deepened the kiss, all the while stroking the tattoo. Bobby snickered.

"Hey, Scott. We get it. He's yours, now get out of here. We're trying to watch a movie. Cripes."

Scott laughed. "Goodnight."

"Night, y'all. Now, shoo," Rogue said making sweeping motions with her hands. She hit rewind and took the movie back a couple of minutes.

Scott steered Remy up the stairs to their room. "Cher, I'm sorry f' whatever I did t' piss y' off. Y' got t' believe me."

"Rems, hush. I'm not mad."

Remy touched the bruise. "Logan?"

"Yeah."

Remy winced. "I told him not t' bother y'. I can handle this."

"You shouldn't have to." Scott closed the door. He tugged at Remy's wrist until they were both curled up on the bed together. "I've been an asshole. I've been so busy trying *not* to piss of Charles before Lilandra comes to get him that I've been avoiding you. I’m sorry. And I'm sorry I got jealous, but that's in my nature."

"M' own fault f' spendin' so much time wit' Logan."

"Remy, look at me. I do not have the right to tell you who you can and cannot spend time with. I've never gotten mad at you for spending time with Rogue. I shouldn't have yelled at you. Not for spending time with Logan."

"I t'ought I did somet'in' wrong. Y' closed up the link an' I t'ought y' were mad and didn' want t' tell m'. An' last night I pushed it cuz I couldn't take not knowing."

"Logan says you were talking to Hank. I didn't realize things were getting that bad. You should have told me."

"Just me, cher. My head's always been fucked up. And it's gettin' darker out because it's nearin' winter. Y' know Christmas ain't the best time f' me anyway."

"Yeah. But tomorrow's Halloween and we're going to celebrate. Just you and me."

"Really?" Remy's eyes widened.

"Really." Scott smiled. "I still know how to relax. Sometimes at least. And I finally came to a decision that Xavier can fuck himself because I'm not giving you up."

Remy was startled. "I knew he didn' like me. But mais, I didn't t'ink that was why y' were stayin' away. Figured he just didn't approve of a t'ief and that y' just realized what he was sayin' was true. Mais, I didn't t'ink I'd have y' this long."

"Remy, babe, you're my thief. I happen to like you just the way you are. Insecurities and all." Scott was relaxing. He hadn't realized that closing up the link had left him so tense. He could feel Remy's love pulsing around him. "So, where do you want to go for dinner tomorrow? We could drive to Boston. Or get a hotel in the Village."

"Oh, I don' t'ink so. On Halloween? Non, cher. Ain't a place left."

"We could use Warren's apartment."

"Non. Ain't takin' not'in' from the playboy."

Scott laughed. "Fine. We could hole up here, but Jubilee is here and she's going to be a pain in the ass. Trust me."

"A hotel in Jersey mebbe? Not'in' happens in Jersey. Close enough that we can get back if there's trouble."

"We could camp out. It's not that cold yet. Or we could go to the cabin. Or Hell, the boathouse is livable if we take some food and blankets. We could have a nice roaring fire and roast marshmallows."

"An' that's far enough that they won' come f' us?"

"Yeah, and close enough to piss off the professor."

Remy smirked. "That's m' Scotty." Remy kissed the bruise on Scott's chin. "Je t'aime, cher."

"Ditto, Slick. Ditto."

*****

Xavier cornered Gambit in the kitchen. The thief looked at him blandly. "Can I get y' somet'in' t' eat, homme?"

"No thank you. I want to talk to you."

"Then talk."

"I would rather do this in private."

"Non."

"What?"

"Non. I ain't goin' anywhere in private wit' y'. Y' don' like m' and y' be a spook that can mess wit' m' head. I ain't gonna let y' do it in private. So y' talk. I ain't got many secrets left."

"Gambit, I don't think that the kitchen is the appropriate place for this."

"I do," the Cajun stated firmly. "Just talk."

"What are your intentions towards Scott?"

"I plan t' love him and fuck him and do chores wit' him and watch movies wit' him and play games wit' him and treat him like a god f' the rest of m' natural life no matter what else happens. And I ain't lettin' anyone interfere in that again, Charles."

Xavier met the burning red eyes easily although they were a little more intimidating than he'd imagined they would be. "I do not like the idea of a thief in this house."

"That's y'r own problem, homme. Everyone else is used t' me. Besides, y' see anythin' missing? Non. Why? Because this is m' home now and I ain't lettin' not'in' happen t' it."

Xavier' frowned. "Listen very carefully to me, LeBeau. I do not like how your relationship is affecting Scott."

Remy snorted. "Y' like him miserable and depressed and willin' to do y'r biddin' without question. Well, here's a message, M. Xavier. Fuck you. I ain't gonna sit here and watch him frownin' and miserable. I'm not gonna watch him lookin' like his heart his breakin' with a knot of muscle at the back of his neck from the headaches he can't control. I ain't gonna let y' fuck up Christmas neither. So you just stay out of my way." Remy didn't even notice that he was slipping into a British accent. He was working up to the biggest dressing down he'd ever given, so naturally, he was mimicking Sinister. "Don't you dare try to come between myself and Scott. Don't you dare try to destroy this season with your immature, prejudiced bullshit. I don't know if the trouble lies in the fact that you wanted Jean Grey and couldn't have her and were thereby using Scott to get her or if you really want Scott's ass all to yourself and I don’t really care either. I will not stand by. I am sick and tired of giving in to please people. This is who I am. I am a thief. I am nothing less and much much more than that. I am Remy Etienne LeBeau. I am not going to allow anyone to take what is mine from me and Scott Summers is mine. Do you understand me, Charles?"

Xavier nodded, pleasantly surprised. "Thank you." He held out his hand.

Remy blinked. He shook the offered hand. "What's dis den?"

Xavier smiled finally. "I didn't think you had the character to properly take care of Scott. Jean was an extraordinary young woman."

"Who went completely mad wit' power an' killed a billion people. Remy, he only killt a few hundred in his time." Remy rolled his eyes. "We okay now, cher? Y' gonna call up y'r girl and go back t' her?"

"Lilandra will send a ship to fetch me at New Years."

Remy nodded. "Wondered what y' timetable was. Now, go an' apologize t' Scott f' bein' an asshole."

Xavier stared.

"Dis is y' house. Y' welcome t' stay. But there are rules. Rule number one, no one hurts Scott. T'ink y' can handle that?"

"Yes, Remy. I think I can handle that."

"Good. He be in his office." Remy turned to the refrigerator. "Dinner's in an hour. There'll be no fightin' at the table."

"One thing. What does the tattoo say?"

"You can look but you better not touch."

Xavier laughed as he left.

*****

"Oh, I get it. You came back for your stuff, not us," Scott said as he hauled another bag of Xavier's clothes onto the Mansion's lawn.

"Scott," Xavier said sharply.

"Don't sulk, cher," Remy chided. "Y' want y' paintin' too?"

"No," Xavier shook his head.

Scott rolled his eyes. "I don't *like* the two of you as friends you know. It can only end up badly for me in the end."

"Oh, I don't know about that," Remy purred. He stroked a hand down Scott's spine. "I t'ink y' end is just fine." He settled his hand on Scott's rump and pinched a little. Scott gave a very un-leaderly like yelp.

"Hey!"

"There's two more bags, cher." Scott sighed and went back for the bags. Remy exchanged a bright grin with Xavier. "So, y' gonna come back?"

"We will see, Remy. I doubt this will be goodbye. I wish to be buried here, with my children."

Remy nodded. "Good. Y' said y'r goodbyes t' everyone?"

"All except Scott and yourself. I hope they enjoy the party. Moria provides excellent drinks."

"They will. Why didn't y' want them t' see y' off?"

"Goodbyes are always hard."

"Y' don't t'ink y'll be comin' back alive," Remy stated. "That's why y' so sad."

"I think the next time I return it will be to die."

"Ah," Remy nodded. "Mortality is such a bitch." He put a hand on Xavier's shoulder and squeezed. "Y' gonna tell Scotty?"

"No. And I would have you keep it to yourself."

"I will, cher. I will. Y' be careful, non? I don't wanna see Scotty cryin' too quickly."

"I will take care of myself, Gambit." Xavier looked up. "And there is my ride."

"Oh, dat's nice."

"Perhaps one day you'll visit Lilandra and myself."

"Mais."

Scott dropped the last two bags. "I still want one of those," Scott sighed.

"Maybe I'll send you one for your birthday."

Scott laughed. "That would be fun to explain to the neighbors."

"We got enough land here, non?" Remy said with a smile. He wrapped an arm around Scott's waist and was pleased to feel his lover's hand rest on the tattoo. They waved as the professor left. Scott watched wistfully. "Cher?"

"I love flying."

"I know. Y' want a jet?"

"What?"

"Bet I could get y' a jet. Never learned how t' land one, but we could get y' one."

"Legally?"

"Like y' got the Blackbirds legal?"

Scott laughed. "Come on, Babe. Let's warm you up."

*****

"We really gonna do this?" Remy asked.

"If you want to."

"Oh, cher, like I'd refuse sex? Y' the one that's gonna have t' ask."

"Why?" Scott blinked.

Remy rolled his eyes. "He ain't gonna accept from me?"

"Oh?"

"I'm marked property, cher." Remy's grin was wide.

"We'll ask together," Scott said firmly. His hand fell to stroking over the tattoo.

"Better be soon or I ain't gonna wait."

Scott laughed. "You are so easy."

"Only f' y'."

Scott kissed him. It was a sweet, soft gentle kiss and Remy melted against him, eyes shining. "Let's go get Logan. Think he'll go for this?"

"Oui, cher. I do."

*****

"Lemme get this straight, the two of ya want me in bed with ya."

"Oui." Remy sighed at the repetition. "Logan, I can tell y' gettin' hot." He tapped his forehead. "The idea turns y' on. That ain't the problem. Y' tell me what the real problem is."

"Shit." Logan sighed. He leaned back. The Cajun was half in Scott's lap and practically purring with the field leader's absent touches. Scott's attention was firmly focussed on Logan. Logan's cock was starting to whine about being confined. "If this is some joke, I'll kill both of ya."

"No joke, Logan." Scott rested his cheek on the top of Remy's head. "We're serious. Hell, I've wanted you for years, but you never looked twice at me."

Logan snorted. "Yer blind."

"So I've been informed." Scott pinched Remy's side and the Cajun jumped.

"If y' just want Scott, I'm fine wit' that too, y' know," Remy offered. "I know y' been wantin' him f'ever."

The Canadian shook his head. "No, kid. I ain't throwin' ya out of yer bed. Seems to me ya earned that fair and square. God knows ya put up with more shit than I ever would."

"So you will do it?" Scott asked. The smile on his face made him look like a kid. Against his better judgement, Logan nodded. "Good. Then, we'll see you after dinner, right? No wandering off to the woods?"

"After a smoke."

"So long as you brush your teeth," Scott said, nose wrinkling.

"It makes him crave," Remy informed Logan with glee.

"Watch it, brat," Scott shot back. "I can make life hard for you."

"Y' already do, cher."

*****

Logan shifted from foot to foot outside of Scott and Remy's room. His hand dropped from where it was poised to knock. He couldn't believe that they'd go through with it. They'd call the joke as soon as he got inside. He'd have to force a smile over his heart bleeding and admit it was a great joke. The door was opened by a frowning Cajun. "We already told y' twice it ain't a joke," he stated. "Now get y' tight ass in here."

Scott was smirking from his position on the bed. He had a book in his hands which he laid aside. He stood up and sauntered over in nothing but his jeans and shades. Logan's breath caught. Scott stopped in front of him, then kissed him, hard. He bit Logan's lip lightly and tugged. "Come in, Runt."

"Watch the teeth, Slim. If I start playin' rough, sometimes I can't stop."

Scott nodded, fully aware of the fact and not caring in the least. Remy shut the door behind Logan carefully and locked it. He and Scott had rather bad luck when it came to getting uninterrupted time. Logan flinched at the sound of the lock. He hadn't been prepared for follow-through. He'd been prepared to be laughed at. He felt fingers stroking through his hair and realized that it was the Cajun. Remy was finger-combing the wild hair into some semblance of order. He relaxed under the gentle touch. Scott was kissing him again then and he stopped thinking. "Just follow my lead, Runt, and you won't know how you ever managed to live without this."

Logan groaned as Scott's hands cradled his ass. He nipped at Scott's nipple and felt Scott's cock stiffen against his stomach. Remy's fingers were gentle as they undid Logan's buttons with barely there touched. Logan bit at Scott's throat and grinned as Scott pulled him closer. Scott smiled wickedly and backed up. "Tell me, Logan, is this a first?"

"Nope."

Scott's smile grew wider. "I see." He looked Logan up and down hungrily. Remy's hands were deftly relieving Logan of his pants. "So when I'm buried so deep in your ass that you can't remember me never being there it won't be new?"

"Who says I'm gonna let ya be on top?"

"I do." Scott's voice dropped to a growl. "Because I'm going to let you play with my toys." He ran a hand down the side of Remy's face.

Logan's eyes widened as he figured out what Scott was talking about. He ran a hand down the thief's spine. "So this don't mean me?" He stroked over the tattoo.

"No, not you," Scott said with a more gentle smile.

"Will the two of y' stop talkin' and start actin' already?" Remy whined. He looked at Logan with big eyes. "Dis one been keepin' po' Remy on edge all day." He pouted and Logan swallowed hard. The boy had sinful lips. "Y' the one t' pay up?" Remy rubbed himself along Logan's side as Scott got rid of his jeans. Logan nipped at the Cajun's wrist, then soothed it with his tongue. Remy's eye lowered and he licked his lips. "Don' tease, cher. Ain't nice."

Logan snorted. "Yer a walkin' tease all the fuckin' time."

Remy grinned. "Just in m' nature." He tugged on Logan's arm. "Come t' the bed, cher. It ain't gonna bite y'. T'ough I don't promise Scotty won't."

Logan shook his head. "Yer both certifiable."

"Oui, but it's a good crazy, non? Feels good at least," Remy said, palming Logan's erection. "Feels real good."

"Weren't you the one mouthing off about us talking too much, Thief?" Scott inquired. Logan's cock was rock hard and he was at the point that he *had* to do something about it before he burst. Scott held up the tube of lube, offering it. Logan grinned and put his hand out for it. He wrapped one arm firmly around Remy's waist and held him to his side.

"Prep me."

Remy's eyes widened, but he took the tube and slicked Logan's cock generously. His fingers were light for a few strokes then firm for the next, then light again. Logan growled against the taut column of the thief's throat. Remy's tongue flicked out to wet his lips. He handed the lube to Scott knowing there'd be precious little time. Logan was beyond coherent thought when Remy settled down on his stomach with a smirk over his shoulder. Logan didn't bother to prepare the way. The kid was ready for it, he could smell it. He worked his way in and felt Scott's hand on his ass. Scott watched Logan seat himself all the while probing and prepping Logan for his own pleasure. He smiled as Remy's hips surged back, taking Logan faster than the Canadian had been prepared for. He heard the in-drawn breath and felt Logan spasm around his fingers. As Logan froze, Scott settled behind him and pressed his cock forward and in.

"Damn, you are tight, Logan," Scott groaned appreciatively.

Remy moved again, inticing Logan's thrust and Scott's eyes closed of their own volition. Logan thrust forward and then back, groaning at the over-stimulation. He was being ridden and riding and it was all too much for him to handle. Then, there was something wrapping around his mind and driving him insane. He fucked himself and fucked the boy beneath him with savage ferocity. Remy moaned, sweet and low and Logan bit at the nape of his neck. He felt Scott's nails tear down his back. He thought he felt blood, but he wasn't sure if it was blood or sweat and didn't much care just so long as Scott's tongue didn't stop the delicate lapping at the trails. Logan didn't last long. He buried himself deep in Remy's ass and felt Scott freeze as well as Logan's channel spasmed around him. Then, he felt the most incredible sensation he'd ever felt as Remy's mind wrapped around his and merged their orgasms as one.

It was a long time before Logan came back down from the cloud he was flying on. And then it was merely to move off of the complaining, although compliant body he was smothering. "Better," Remy murmured as the adamantium skeleton curled next to him instead of resting on top of him. Scott was curled around Logan's back. He rested one hand on Remy's back. They slept.

*****

"You know, Logan, you're always welcome," Scott said softly as Logan cleaned up.

Logan stared at him. "What?"

Remy rolled his eyes and settled on Scott's lap at the foot of the bed. "What he's sayin' is that we don' expect this t' be one night only. Y' can join us when y' like. Or not when y' like. Y'r choice completely. But we like havin' y' here. D'accord."

"Yeah, Cajun. I get ya. I get ya." Logan smiled gently. "We'll have to see."

FINIS

For anyone who's interested:

Kinchin-cove: 18C-on: A child brought up as a thief