It was Logan who found him. He was curled up on the bathroom floor. "Gumbo? Too much bubbly last night, kid? Remy?"
"Hurts, Logan. Gotta make it stop, Wolvie." Logan gently turned him onto his back.
"Show me where."
Remy indicated the span of his abdomen from sternum to groin and side to side.
"Okay. I'm gonna get Hank."
"Non! Got pills. In de cabinet."
Logan frowned, but got the orange bottle from the cabinet and knocked two of the pills into his hand. He helped the Cajun take them, then just settled with him half-on his lap. After a few minutes he asked, "Better?"
"Oui. Merci." The Cajun was bonelessly slumped in Logan's lap.
"That ain't Hank's name on yer pills."
"Non, been seein' a femme in the City. Better finish movin' out."
"Where ya plannin' on goin'?"
"Got a place in the City. Not t'ree blocks from. . ."
"From the hospital I go t'."
"What's up, Gumbo?"
"That ain't an answer."
"I got cancer all right!" Remy pulled away and got to his feet.
"Why didn't ya tell anyone, kid?"
"They don' need t' know. Don' need pity. Why y' t'ink Rogue left?"
Logan closed his eyes. "She's a kid, Remy. Yer not. Ya may be two years younger on the outside, but ya ain't a kid. Well, not usually."
Remy summoned a grin for the Canadian. "How long this been goin' on?"
"Merde. Two and a half, t'ree years. Since I was 19." The smile vanished.
"Shit, yer not 21?"
"Non. Ain't never stopped m'. I'm gettin' tired, Logan. I can't fight this and stay here. I can't be Stormy's prop and Cyke's pressure valve and Roguie's punchin' bag."
"Will ya let me help ya?" Logan asked quietly.
"Why?" Remy whirled on the smaller man.
"In case somethin' like this happens." He gestured at the pills. "Ya know I ain't gonna smother ya."
"Why? Y' ain't never given a damn before."
"Cuz I love ya, damn it!"
Remy stilled. He stared for a long moment, processing that. "Why didn't y' tell m'?"
"Shit, kid. Ya ain't never swung that way. Besides, ya been with Rogue."
Remy rolled his eyes. "I’m bi, Logan. Didn't think y' even liked m' beyond a drinkin' buddy. I ain't in love wit' y'. Y' know that right?"
"Will ya let me support ya? No different than any other kind of fight. Ya need someone at yer back."
Remy stared out the window for a long moment. "Oui, but they can't know or I'll never get any peace. Tell 'em I got a sick friend I'm stayin' wit'. Hell, tell them we bot' know dis homme. Tell them it's m' family duty. Anyt'in' but the truth."
"They deserve to know, Gumbo. Hell, ya gotta tell Cyke at least."
"He won't care."
"Cyke just ain't good at showin' feelings. I ain't either."
"I'm trouble, Logan. I'm high maintence."
"Ya know what? I don't give a fuck."
Gambit's jaw tensed. "I turn int' a full on asshole when I'm hurtin'. I ain't nice t' be around."
"I ain't signin' on fer ya to be takin' care of me. Yer not gonna scare me off, so shut up." Logan's smile was kind. "I ain't afraid of yer moods. I been puttin' up with Cyke fer years."
"But Cyke ain't gonna blow up yer underpants on a bad day."
"Ain't a problem. I don't wear any."
Remy couldn't help but snicker.
"So, partners fer better or worse?" Logan put out his hand.
"Oui, mon ami. Oui." Remy clasped his hand and pulled him into a hug. Logan's arm tightened around the younger man.
"You're what?" Scott asked blankly.
"Gambit's movin' int' the city."
"Why? Does Storm know about this?"
"Tell him the truth or I will."
Remy bared his teeth at Logan.
"Ya may be quicker, but I'm meaner."
"I'm movin' closer t' the hospital cuz I'm startin' chemo next week."
Scott stared, brain attempting to unravel all of the implications. "How long have you been sick?"
"Since before I met Stormy. Been maintainin' fine until Israel. I been in remission f' four mont's. Merde, de reason I took Stormy t' Nawlins was so I could settle up m' affairs just in case." Remy sighed.
"You aren't planning on telling Storm are you?"
"Non. I couldn' handle her knowin'. She's still ma petite fille. Can' handle it. Didn' want nobody knowin'."
Scott glared. "You were just going to leave?"
"Oui." Remy tipped his head up challenging Cyke to say anything.
"So it's better to be considered an unthinking, irresponsible asshole than to be sick?"
Scott sighed. "I'll tell them you're going to be away on family business. You *will* leave me an address and phone number. And I'll stop by once a month to make sure you both have a break. Call me if you need anything."
"Will you still be up for jobs?"
The thief shrugged. "Stop by and talk t' me about it. If I can't I'll find someone who can."
"Fine. And, Remy, I do care and I'm *not* going to write you out of my life. I've lost too many people to do that. I'm not losing you too."
Remy looked away, eyes suspiciously bright. "Don' worry 'bout Remy. He'll be just fine."
"Sorry. Worrying's in my nature. Remember. Call me if you need anything."
//Scott, what's wrong?// Jean asked as she rubbed his shoulders.
She rolled her eyes. //What now? Hank gave him a clean bill of health.//
//He doesn't want the team to know.//
//Tell me. I won't tell.//
//He's moved into the City to take care of a sick family member. Logan's going with him. He's not sure if he'll be coming back.//
//You're lying to me.//
//I gave him my word, Jean. I can't break it.//
//Scott, sweetie, I know Logan's in love with him.//
//And so are you.//
//Bite your tongue, woman.//
//Like a brother.//
//Like you love Logan as a brother.//
//What's the matter? Jealous?//
//Pot, this is kettle calling. Come in pot.// She went for his ribs. He squirmed and laughed.
//Ah! Stop! Mercy! Bitch.//
//Bastard. But I love you anyway.//
"Ya look like Cyke," Logan stated.
"Ouch. Dat's harsh." Remy ran a hand through his now-short hair.
"I'm sorta partial to it. Like it long too. Why cut it?"
"Chemo makes m' throw up. Long hair's a pain."
Logan nodded. He hated the little frown of pain that seemed to mar Remy's face all the time now. It had started when Rogue had left Remy in Seattle. Logan had put it down to heartbreak, but he'd been wrong. "Yer first appointment's tomorrow?"
"What're ya afraid of?"
Remy sighed. "The room more'n anyt'in'. Got t' sit wit' a needle in m' arm. Y' know how I get wit' Bete and I *like* him."
"Ya don't like yer doc?"
"She's okay. It's the techs. And bein' around other people. I can feel them, Logan." Remy sighed. "I'm an empath, cher."
"And ya didn't know if I liked ya?"
"Don' use it on friends and family. Mais don't use it at all, except t' make people listen t' m'. Like gettin' Ro away from the Shadow King. But when I'm sick or scared or drunk it starts leakin'. Used t' be sex based only, oui? Made people want m'. T' take care of m'. T' fuck m'. When I hit 18 it got stronger. Dat's why no one can get t'rough m' shields."
"So ya get scared and?"
"M' shields weaken and I can feel everyone around m'. Everyone in the place sometimes."
"Ya want me to come with ya?"
Remy considered. "Tell ya in the mornin'. Right now, Remy's gonna find the biggest, best meal possible. Y' comin'?"
"I could hunt down a steak. Lead on."
"Where's the Cajun?" Bobby asked.
"Taking care of family business."
Bobby tipped his head to the side. "He's going for chemo isn't he?"
Scott's head snapped up. "How?"
"Rogue let it slip when we were on that road trip." Bobby shrugged. "And maybe Hank noticed something when Gambit first showed up. But it went away. It's a really personal subject."
Scott sighed. "He doesn't want the team to know. Storm specifically."
"Does the professor know?"
"I'm not sure. He could have picked up on it. But Gambit's usually not on his radar screens."
"Does he need anything?"
"Logan's got his back. That's all he'll allow."
"Then I'll just think happy thoughts at him." Bobby sighed. "I can't cheer him up if he's not here, you know."
"I was under the impression that you didn't like him."
Bobby blinked. "We just don't like to do the same things. But we get along okay. We compare notes on Scott-baiting."
Scott swatted at him with a rolled up report.
"Don't tempt fate."
"So, who's going to tell Storm?"
"Damn. She's going to be pissed."
"All you know is that he's away on family business."
Remy curled up in the corner of the couch under his battered quilt. He had the phone cradled between his ear and shoulder. "Mais, a bit, Tante. First week's de hardest. Mebbe y' send m' somet'in' t' settle m' stomach? Merci. Je t'amie, Mattie. Bye." He hung up.
"Ya want some crackers?"
"Non, merci." Logan nodded and went back to the sports section. The silence grew with only the occasional rustle of paper to break it. When Logan looked up, Remy was asleep. Logan set the paper down. Then, he gathered the sleeping Cajun up in his arms and put him to bed. The fact that the younger man didn't stir warmed Logan's heart. Remy was a lighter sleeper than anyone in the mansion.
"Sleep well, Darlin'."
"I want Gambit in my office tomorrow," Xavier stated.
Scott shook his head. "I can't promise that, sir."
"It has been nearly a month. Surely he can spare us one day."
"One day could make all the difference. I might be able to arrange for you to visit him, or discuss the job with him for you."
Xavier frowned. "I didn't realize he had any close family."
Scott shrugged. "He believes very strongly in his family. He's closer with his adoptive family than I am to my blood."
"I need to see him, Scott. Immediately."
"I'll pass on the request."
"It is an order, not a request, Cyclops."
Scott nodded with his "I'm listening" face on and Charles Xavier once more resisted the urge to smack the lie off of his son's face. He'd just have to see what developed.
"Agreed t' let Charles visit."
Logan sighed. "I'll clean up."
"Non. Leave it. This ain't his space."
Logan looked at Remy. "Meanin'?"
"We be happy 'nough this way. Leave it."
"The obsessive compulsive is sayin' this?"
"Oui. Sit down, cher. Let Remy draw y'."
Logan stretched his legs out onto the coffee-table. "Lemme tell ya about my day."
"Upset Gambit and I'll dump you down the stairs," Scott stated as he maneuvered the professor's chair into the elevator.
"You wouldn't dare."
"Don't try me."
Xavier raised a brow, but didn't say anything. Scott knocked on the door in his usual pattern. Logan opened the door. "Wait in the livin' room. It's been a bad day." Scott nodded. Logan got a glass of orange juice from the kitchen and went to the master bedroom. Xavier looked around the apartment. It was smaller than he'd associated with the Cajun. There were two bedrooms and a bathroom down the small hall, a kitchen-dining room, and the living room. There was a hall closet that might hide a washer and dryer, but he'd have to check to be sure. Scott flopped down on the couch and picked up what looked like a medical file.
"Nosy bastard," Remy stated. He held his hand out for the file. Xavier stared at the young man. He was chalky white and his hair was shorter than Scott's. This wasn't the thief he knew.
"I'm not done with it yet," Scott stated. "I'm a nosy bastard, remember. Sit down. Talk to the professor. Convince me not to dump him down the stairs."
A ghost of a smile passed along the Cajun's face. "Get y'r feet off my coffee-table, Scotty."
"Oh, yes, sir." Scott ignored the comment. He grinned at the younger man who just shook his head.
"I ain't that irritatin'."
"Actually, yes, you are."
"What y' want, Charles?" Remy settled in the armchair. Logan sat down next to Scott and they started a muted conversation about what was in the file.
"I wanted to see you. You've been away for a month."
"Mebbe I ain't comin' back, Charles. Tell me what y' really want."
"Information on a certain technology mangate."
Remy yawned. "Interest me."
"Carlton Industries Biotechnology."
"I want to know everything there is to know about Roger Carlton."
"That ain't gonna come cheap. I ain't payin' f' all of it. I might help y' wit' some of the costs, but not all of 'em."
"I understand that. Five million cap."
Remy nodded. "I'll look int' it. Might have t' hire some t'ings out, but not many. Ain't up f' a stake-out. That ain't my scene. But I'll get some hackin' done. I'll call Kitty. And t' watch the man, I got someone. Don' worry y'self, Charles. If that's it, Gambit'll get back t' y' later." The Cajun got up in one fluid motion. "See y' next week, Scotty."
"I'll order Chinese."
"Want extra soup me."
"Done. How's life?"
"It sucks, cher. Ain't that always the way. See y' around, Charles." The young man left the room. It took Xavier a long moment to realize what was wrong. Remy wasn't walking with his usual canting gait.
"I didn't think Remy had close family."
"You ain't close enough to even be askin' that question. See ya, Chuck."
"Wolverine, when will you be returning to the Mansion?"
"Depends on how things play out here. I ain't leavin' the kid alone."
"We need your. . ."
"Professor, let me remind you that if you upset Remy, I'll push you down the stairs."
Xavier stared hard at the field leader. "What am I missing here?"
"If you upset Logan, you'll upset Remy. I won't watch it. Let's go. You've gotten what you came here for."
"We need Wolverine."
"We are fine without him for the time being. This isn't going to be a long-term thing. Besides, everyone on the team has left us at one time or another." Scott shrugged. "Logan will be no different. Let's go, Charles."
Charles studied his son. Scott rarely openly contradicted him. He might work behind his back, or undermine him quietly, but open conflict was not something Scott did. It just wasn't his way. He was missing a huge piece of the puzzle.
"Say goodbye, Professor."
"Goodbye, Logan." Scott pushed the wheelchair out of the apartment. It wasn't until they were in the car that Xavier managed to sort out all of the clues. "How ill is he, honestly?"
"Honestly? If the chemo doesn't take, he'll be dead within the year."
Xavier blanched. "He's so young."
Scott just stared forward. He started the car after a long moment. "We're all young, Charles. The only difference is that this isn't a fight we're allowed to help him fight. He's quietly and firmly shut us out." They pulled into traffic. "No one at the mansion is supposed to know. He doesn't want Storm to find out, especially."
"Scott, he should be at the mansion. Hank's lab is better equipt than *any* hospital in the area."
"I already tried that argument."
"Why did he tell you and no one else?"
"Logan threatened him."
Xavier found himself smiling. "As if he'd do anything to Gambit."
"He threatened to tell me if he didn't. Remy didn't like it, but he told me. He was just going to leave without any word at all."
"What I don't understand is why Hank missed this."
"He was in remission."
"How long has he been ill?"
"Three years. He was just a teenager, Charles. It isn't fair. Of course, at the same age I was leading the team and some would say that isn't fair either. We've both been facing down death for far too long. At least it explains how he fights." Scott smiled softly.
"He could beat this."
"Not if the file I just read is any indication."
"Don't ask me anything else, Charles. Please? I haven't even told Jean."
"Rems?" Logan stroked the sweat-soaked hair away from the Cajun's face. "Rems?" Red eyes opened, wide and not really seeing. Remy blinked once, then twice.
"Yeah, babe. I'm here." Remy wrapped his arms around Logan's neck. "You need to tell me about it?"
"Just nightmares. Logan, I. . . Dr. Singletary, she t'inks. . ."
"You can tell me, Baby."
"This is the last course, Logan. If it don' work, I'll be on maintenance treatments."
"Meanin', enough drugs t' keep m' loopy an' quiet 'til I die." Logan closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around Remy's body. He felt the fragile bones more than ever now. "It won't be long if'n that happens. I'm gonna need t' go on an IV soon anyways." Remy's voice was quiet, rough. He couldn't talk about his illness in the light. He couldn't talk about it clearly at all if he had to look at Logan.
"Because it's startin' t' eat at m' stomach. I won't be able t' digest anything soon. After that, it's IV and die slow, or no IV and die quicker."
Logan didn't ask the question that was burning in his mind. He just held tight until Remy started to sob quietly from the pain. This wasn't a quiet cancer. It wasn't something sneaky and shy. It was a Sabretooth sort of deal. It came and slashed at the Cajun with wild gasps of pain, then disappeared so it seemed as if he were getting better. If it were a steady pain, there'd be a way to deal with it. But this unpredictable violent rash of outbursts made it next to impossible. Remy was suffering from nightmares too. Logan closed his eyes and started to rock. The soothing motion finally put the Cajun to sleep again. Logan didn't let go. He slipped into the bed next to his beloved and held him through the night.
Remy was almost perky today and Logan grinned at him. "What's up, kiddo?"
"Good shit from Singletary. Look, I ain't loopy."
"Matter of opinion." Remy stuck his tongue out.
"Come on, cher. Let's hit MoMA."
"Leavin' the paintin's in place, boy?"
Remy pouted. "I suppose." He pulled at Logan's hand and the Canadian pushed himself up. He went for the coats and tossed his old denim one to the younger man. "But. . ."
"It's bon out, cher."
The Cajun rolled his eyes and put on the coat. The CIA baseball cap was almost too much, but Mystique had sent it to him as a get-well present and he had to use it. He wondered idly if Rogue knew, since Mystique obviously did, but didn't follow the thoughts through. The sun was shining and for once, he felt like playing. He didn't want the good mood to fade before he'd had some fun.
Remy leaned against Logan's side, reading his magazine, soaking up the warmth of friendly co-habitation. It had been a glorious day. A day without pain. There was a little bit of color in his skin again, so he didn't look like a vampire. He hadn't had the heart to tell Logan it was because he'd stopped treatments a week ago. He heard Logan grumble and switch channels. His team must have lost. Remy turned around. "Logan?" he asked softly.
"Can I kiss y'?"
Logan blinked. "If you want."
Remy carefully turned the Canadian's head and kissed him less than chastely on the lips. It was a gentle kiss, not too deep, but more than the peck Logan had expected. Remy considered. "Y' taste like honey," he concluded. He smiled.
"What brought that on?"
"Jus', I don't know, bein' happy I guess. Thinkin' about might have beens."
"Oui. If'n I hadn't been sick when y' tol' m' y' loved me, what sort of mischief could we've gotten up t'. Realized I ain't never kissed y'."
Logan smiled. He caressed the sharp cheekbones, seeing the red eyes soften at his touch. There was still a spark of mischief left in the thief. Even in his darkest times, it was there. "And what did ya come up with?"
"Well, screwin' like bunnies on Cyke's desk f' one. Beyond that though, I ain't given it too much thought." They were facing each other now, Remy with his legs curled up under him, tailor style, Logan half-turned in his seat. "What do y' t'ink y'd have done if'n y' had me proper?"
"Well, I can think of a lot of things. Most of 'em usin' your flexibility. Of course, I got an unfair advantage?"
"I've known I loved ya fer over a year."
Remy's mouth opened, then closed. Then, Logan was closing the gap between them. He placed a careful, tender kiss on the young man's mouth. Remy leaned forward, eyes closing, to savor the contact. "Logan?"
"Yeah?" Logan's voice was a whisper.
"Will y' show me some of what y' t'ought of?" Remy's voice was equally soft, hesitant. "I know I ain't much t' look at no more, but. . ."
"Rems, I ain't in love with yer face, boy. Besides, ya look fine today. Ya look happy. I missed seein' yer eyes sparkle." Logan moved his hand slowly, trailing around the perfect shell of Remy's ear, down his throat and to the back of his head. He maneuvered for a deeper kiss. They were both panting by the end of it.
"Y' good at that, Logan," Remy whispered. "Ain't been kissed like that, mais, since m' weddin' night." He licked his lips. "Ah me, love of m' life an' I went and found it too late," he murmured.
"Not too late, love," Logan whispered. "Never too late."
Remy smiled. He let Logan lift him up and carry him into the spare bedroom. It was nominally Logan's room, but they'd given up the pretense of separate rooms the first night Remy had woken up screaming, approximately two months ago. The first night they were in the apartment. This was Logan's room though. The sheets smelled of his musk. There was no pain here, no loss, no future, no past. This was a moment trapped in time and Remy was recording every second of it for his last flash of life reel. Logan was recording every second of it for the rest of his life. He carefully licked at Remy's chin, making him laugh and squirm. It was the strangest ticklish spot Logan'd ever found on a lover. He'd discovered it quite accidentally. They'd been sparring in the Danger Room and his flannel shirt had glanced across the Cajun's chin and the boy couldn't help but laugh. He'd kept it in mind and tested it over the next year, always getting the same reaction no matter where or when he brushed the spot.
Remy slowly reached up and opened Logan's shirt. He wanted to see the strength in the muscles there and feel the heartbeat under the taut skin. His hands looked skeletal to him, but he knew it was just an illusion. He'd been seeing reflections of skeletons for about a week and figured they were a side effect of the pain medication. Logan's skin was soft under his fingers. He followed the curve of Logan's ribs and the Canadian laid him back almost reverently on the bed. His fingers found the soft pelt of hair on Logan's chest and moved through it, pleased by the softness there.
Logan looked down at the soft, gooey smile on the thief, his lover, he realized. This wasn't a fantasy. Fantasy was Remy strong and vibrant. This was water-color-melancholy. He let the young man's fingers explore him. His touch was light, soft, almost teasing, but not quite. Half of Logan's mind wanted to strip the boy bare and fuck him into the bed. The saner part told him to be careful and gentle. Remy bruised easily these days and a hard fuck might just break him. Still, he told himself, breath catching as the Cajun teased his cock through his jeans, maybe he was strong enough for a little roughness. Logan devoured Remy's mouth, placing each nuance of flavor. His hands fisted in Remy's hair, holding him fast. He wished mournfully for the long hair that had created many a dark fantasy in his mind. But the hair was fine and soft beneath his fingers, just long enough to get a proper hold on. Remy's fingers fluttered over Logan's sides, feeling the strength and flex of his muscles.
Logan's hands ran down, then under the sweatshirt, to lift it off. There was no mistaking that Remy was male. There was little softness to his frame. He wasn't bone thin yet, and still had a significant amount of muscles. His collar bone was prominent, inviting Logan's mouth. "What do y' want m' t' do, cher?" Remy purred.
"Just let me take care of ya, boy," Logan growled.
"Ain't usually passive."
"Ain't askin' ya to be. Just don't worry about pleasin' me, okay? I want ya to please yerself."
Remy smiled. "I like pleasin' lovers, cher." The red eyes were swiftly dilating as Logan's mouth descended down the lithe body. The eyes closed as Logan started paying attention to the scars that ran down Remy's stomach. Remy arched up into the gentle mouth, wanting more contact. His fingers stroked through Logan's hair, tousling and playing with the rough spikes. Then, Logan's fingers were working the fly of Gambit's pants. Logan's mouth moved lower and lower, finally taking Remy's cock into itself in one long slurp. Remy cried out sharply and his hips bucked. "Bon Dieu," he whispered. He whimpered in the back of his throat as Logan teased him with variations in rhythm.
"Come for me, Remy," Logan whispered, voice a little more like a growl than he'd admit to, mouth nearly at Remy's ear. He kissed the young man, hand firmly stroking the hard cock below. Remy shuddered and came, moan swallowed by Logan's mouth. He lay back, eyes closed, breathing fast. His fingers reached out, stroking the edge of Logan's crotch. He opened the fly with nimble fingers, mouth curled in a satisfied grin. "Need some help there, cher?"
"Depends on what ya think ya can give me."
"Anyt'in' of mine y' want is y'rs," Remy whispered, eyes burning as they opened. They locked eyes for a long moment.
"Even yer heart?" Logan asked, afraid of the answer.
"Ah, cher, that's been y'rs since the first night y' held m'." Remy smiled up at his lover. "Jus' been too caught up t' notice it was missin' me." The soft glow of love suffused Logan's eyes replacing the fear that had been there a moment later. Remy lifted a hesitant hand to touch his lover's cheek. "Anyt'in' y' want of m' is y'rs."
Logan kissed the Cajun softly. He fumbled in his nightstand for a moment. Remy snickered, so Logan kissed him again. He found the lube he'd been looking for before his distraction, then found himself distracted by Remy squirming out of his jeans. He never really remembered how they ended up naked on the bed, or how his cock had managed to fit in the tight heat of his beloved's body, just that the moment they reached their climax, it seemed as if there was no end or beginning to either of them. Logan lay, panting lightly against Remy's throat. Remy settled back into the sheets, sated, content to have Logan's weight holding him in the world. He never did know how Logan had managed to get both of them cleaned up and into the other bed. He just woke up with the morning cramps of pain with Logan's arms around him and his soothing voice coaxing him to take his shot.
Logan left Scott and Remy sitting in the living room. "So you two finally. . ." Scott grinned.
Remy smirked at him. "How'd y' know?"
"I don't know, the fact that you're practically cooing at him. You look different." Scott cocked his head to the side. "You stopped taking the chemo?"
Remy's jaw worked as if he was trying to form words, then finally he nodded.
"No more'n a mont'. Need t' ask y' t' do somet'in' f' m'."
"Of course. With one provision. You need to say goodbye to Storm. I won't be able to live with her if you don't say goodbye."
Remy took a deep breath. "I don' want it on her shoulders."
"Remy, please, it will break her heart if you don't say goodbye. Give her a chance to tell you she loves you?"
Finally, Remy nodded. "I'll come for a short visit. Not even t' dinner. Can' eat it anyway."
Scott closed his eyes. "It's progressed that far, huh?"
"Oui. Been on an IV for about two days now." Remy twisted his wrist to expose the shunt that was installed in his arm. "I got some letters, f' after. Will y' send 'em out?"
"Do I need a bulk rate?"
"Of course." Remy grinned. "Got a lot of contacts me. And I got a lil' bit of business t' attend t' too. This is f' Charles. De info he wanted an' some contact numbers. They be waitin' on his call. An' this is f' y'."
"What is it?" Scott asked turning the envelope over in his hands.
"Letters of introduction t' 'bout half a dozen t'iefs. Any one of 'em'll make a good teacher f' y'."
Scott stared. He looked at the envelope for a long time. "I don't know, I'm not as young as I used to be."
"Who is? Y' got the attitude when y' want t'. Y' only get prickly b'cause y' ain't allowed t' have fun y'self. One of those is mon pere. He'll take good care of y', if y' let him."
"Remy, I can't just. . ."
"One year, cher. That's all it'd take. Even bring y' int' the New York Guild if'n y' want."
Scott tucked it into his backpack. He'd started carrying it to visits because he seemed to be the Cajun's post office box and supply horse. He didn't mind it, just needed to plan for it. "Thank you," he said softly. "I was wondering what we'd do without you."
"Ah, cher, I got y' a contact 'round here too, if'n y' don' want t' go t'rough wit' it."
"I'd say you shouldn't have, but I'm too glad that you did. Your will?"
"All arranged. Scotty?"
"Watch of Logan and Stormy f' me?"
"For being willing to talk about. . . after. I can't talk t' Logan 'bout it. He hurts too bad. He's my positive attitude."
"Gods you were desperate." Scott closed his mouth with a snap. Remy laughed out loud. Scott shrugged. "So, share the gory details."
"You and the runt."
Scott wrapped his arms around Jean's waist and buried his face in her hair. The secret that lay between them wasn't his to give up and Jean didn't have the heart to steal it from his mind. Still, as she lay there she could hear the tears hit the pillowcase and knew it couldn't be good. If it took any longer, she'd have to push harder.
Storm sighed and looked out at the woods, praying for an email from her brother. One that wasn't full of inconsequentials. One that actually told her what was going on in his life. She could only assume that he and Logan were on a special assignment.
Logan stared at Remy. Then he smiled. "Scooter finally got to ya, huh?"
"Remy jus' can't manage t' say no t' him sometimes."
They made it to the mansion about an hour after that. Storm was the first to greet them. She swept down from the sky and hugged her brother close. She pulled back in surprise when she realized she could feel his bones. He gave her a crooked smile. "Don' ask yet, padnat." She nodded, eyes filling with the terrible knowledge. She'd known he was sick when they went to New Orleans, but he'd gotten better, hadn't he.
She put an arm through his and walked him into the mansion. Logan followed after them. He stubbed his cigar out on the front step. Curious, Bishop followed them inside from his rounds. Inside, Scott was leaning against the door jamb of his office, rubbing his temples. His headache was screaming. He was just about ready to call for Hank and a dose of his special pain-cocktail when a gentle touch on his arm eased the pain. He opened his eyes. Remy smiled at him. He winked. "I'm takin' enough f' both of us," he said cheerfully. Scott smiled at him and shook his head.
"But y' love m' anyway."
"Why else would I put up with you, brat? I see you found Storm. Oh, look the lemmings are starting to follow you." Bobby gave Scott the finger.
"Hey, Gumbo. Nice hat."
"Present from Mystique. Prob'ly a t'ank y' f' breakin' up wit' her daughter."
Bobby sniggered. "Speaking of witches, let me go get her."
"Hey, careful with that word," Scott warned.
"Oh, I meant you too," Bobby grinned. "Oh, I better call Hank too."
Remy shook his head and put a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. "I should've brought a second dose."
"I did," Logan told him pulling out a cigar tube. There was still a hint of frost on it and Remy laughed. "Too cheap fer a real insulated one. Where's Jeannie?"
"I'm right here." Jean had a dishtowel over her shoulder. Her hair was up in a ponytail and she was wearing sweats. It must be spring cleaning time for the ceramics in the house. They all needed to be watered, erm, washed once a year. "Remy," she smiled. "Welcome back, Stranger. Oh, strangers." She winked at Logan. She looked at the Cajun carefully and her smile became more fixed, then faded. "Oh," she whispered. She looked at Scott and nodded. Things made sense now. "Where's my hug?" Logan hugged her and kissed her full on the mouth. Scott laughed. He knew damn well that Logan only did things like that to get his goat now. He'd renounced his claim to Jean at the wedding. Remy clapped politely.
"I give it an 8. Lacks passion."
Logan turned. "That so?"
"Yep." Remy grinned at him.
"Think you could do better?" he challenged.
"Wait a minute," Jean protested, but then was swept into a dipped kiss. When she was put back on her feet, Scott was frowning in order to keep from smiling. Logan snorted.
"What's the verdict, Red?" Warren asked, coming in on the end of the drama.
She fanned herself. "Huh?" she asked, blinking. "Um, definitely a tie. I need a tie-breaker round." The team broke up at that.
"Let's move this into the den," Scott urged. He made shooing motions with his hands. Warren let the team move ahead of him. There was something off in the way the thief was moving. He looked at Scott and saw the little line of sorrow in his forehead again. He put his hand on Scott's arm.
"What's going on, Slim?" he asked softly.
"You'll find out if you come to the den. Where's Betsy?"
"I'm here," she said, joining them. "The professor is coming."
Hank and Bobby were waiting for the team in the den. "Figured we'd end up in here. Look, I even saved you a seat, Gambit."
"Merci, Robert." Logan settled into the seat and Remy lounged across his lap. Their fingers intertwined on Remy's stomach. "May as well wait f' everyone. Don' want t' say this but once."
Xavier joined them not much later. He looked around the room. "Where is Rogue? Joseph?"
"I'm right here, sugah," Rogue said. She settled on the floor. She looked up and caught Remy's eyes. Her lips parted at the drawn cast of his face. He was looking better to Scott and Logan, but everyone else saw his illness clearly. "No," she whispered. "No, you beat it."
"Temporary truce, chere," Remy replied. Rogue ran from the room, door slamming behind her. "Dat went well," he muttered. Logan's fingers tightened.
"Least she didn't put ya through a wall."
Remy laughed. "True."
"Well? What's the big event?" Warren asked. "You getting hitched to Logan?"
Remy and Logan grinned in tandem at that. "Non, Ange. I'm dyin'." The Cajun shrugged. The room was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop.
Hank was the first to react. "When did the cancer return?"
"After the coma. Must've weakened m' system enough t' let it get a hold on m'."
"Why didn't you come to me?"
"Been goin' t' the same docteur f' the full course of it, cher. She knows what works an' what don'. And she don' take it personal when she can't make m' better. I can scream at her, Henri, and she just laughs at m' b'cause m' hair's stood on end. That's what I need. Besides, y' need t' be workin' on that virus more'n y' need t' be tryin' t' save one homme."
Hank wanted to protest, but he couldn't bring himself to say it. He hated to think that he was too busy to care for a sick team-member, but it was true. He had a hard enough time taking care of bumps and scrapes from fighting in the Danger Room. He looked down. "Thank you for being honest."
"Ah, Henri, no shame in what y' doin'. Besides, she's cuter."
"She's a dog." Logan scowled at his lover.
"Like y' don' I?" Remy flicked Logan's nose with a finger.
"How long?" Jean asked.
"Mais, two weeks or so if I refuse the IV's. Mebbe two mont's at the outside."
She felt the tears well up and fought them down.
"Ah, Jeannie, don' fight it, girl. Y' want t' cry I don' mind. I had a long time t' deal wit' this."
Soft rain started to pelt the ground as Storm lowered her head. Scott put his arms around Jean's shoulders.
"Well, I done passed on enough cheer t'day. Goodbye, mes amis."
"Gambit," Bishop said quietly, "I would like to speak with you privately for a moment."
"Sure." They withdrew to the back porch. The smell of Storm's tears filled the air. "What is it, pup?"
"I wanted to apologize for my behavior towards you." Remy shrugged. "I wasn't reacting to you. I was reacting to the man you might one day have become."
Remy cocked his head to the side. "There's somet'in' more?"
"The Witness was my father. The only father I ever knew. You were my father, Gambit. And it saddens me to see you dying."
"Bishop, pup, y' doin' good work here. T'ink I must've done somet'in' right if I turned out someone like you. T'ink of it this way, least we get t' say goodbye. Y' didn' get the chance t' see y'r pere b'fore y' left. So y' get t' say goodbye t' both of us."
"Goodbye, Father." Bishop smiled. "Goodbye, Gambit. Good journey."
"Merci, Bishop." Remy held his hand out. They shook hands firmly. Then, Bishop went to the security room to run his storm-checks.
"My turn," Bobby said with a grin, caging the Cajun on the deck with a wink.
"I ain't gonna run, Robert. Y' can take down y' walls."
"But I don't want anyone else getting close for a minute. I'm gonna miss you, Gumbo. I wish, well, I wish there was something I could do for you, but I don't know what I could do."
"Watch over them. Make them smile. There's not'in' else, cher."
Bobby put his arms out for a hug and Remy complied. Bobby hugged him close, tears filling his eyes. "Goodbye, Gumbo," he whispered, then left. Remy blinked away tears of his own. He found Hank there.
"If I'd known I was takin' confession, I'd've dressed better," Remy said. "What's up, Henri?"
"I just wanted to say, blast it all, I'm going to miss you, M. LeBeau. I'll miss our conversations and the snide comments that no one else understands. I only wish I could have convinced you to go to school. I could have used the companionship."
"Life's too short t' spend surrounded by old books, cher. Live a lil'. Don't do no good t' solve the world's problems if y' don't visit it once and awhile."
"Very true. Will you be coming back to stay?"
"Non, cher. I need t' stay near the doc. Hospice comes t' check in wit' Logan an' me every day."
"Then, this is goodbye. I'll miss you."
Scott watched the team move in one at a time by common consensus. He smiled. Strange, he hadn't thought Bobby and Hank would say goodbye before Rogue or Storm, but maybe they wanted a few more minutes to get under control. Warren left the room. He and the Cajun didn't have anything left to say to one another. Betsy looked after her lover, then towards the porch. Remy was watching the rain run over his hand with a sad smile. She went onto the porch and watched him for a long moment. "Goodbye, Remy," she said softly.
She touched his shoulder. "It's been fun. . ."
"But I have to scream now," he finished for her. They smiled at each other, then turned away by some unspoken agreement. Remy leaned over the rail and listened to the rain on the brim of his hat. He'd need that shot soon. He turned to find Logan there with the shot in his hand. He shook his head and held out his arm. Logan put the shot into the shunt and saw the pain melt out of Remy's frame. He kissed him gently and brushed away a stray tear.
"Just a few more, Darlin'."
"Just the hardest ones. Rogue won' be sayin' goodbye. Ain't no good at it."
Jean waited quietly in the doorway. Logan passed her with a small nod. Jean opened her arms and Remy accepted the tight hug. "Goodbye, Jeannie," he whispered. Her arms tightened. Words escaped her completely. They stood there, just communing for a long moment. She rocked gently. Then, after what seemed like too long and not long enough, pulled back and kissed his cheek. She went inside to Scott's office. She sat on the couch and wrapped her arms around her stomach. She felt the tears come and didn't try to repress them this time. They slid down her cheeks.
Xavier looked at Storm and at Scott. Neither of them seemed to be moving. He shook his head, then took his turn in the rotation. "Gambit."
"Goodbye, Remy. I won't forget you."
Xavier left him to whatever meditations consumed him. Logan was in the kitchen with a beer. His legs were crossed in front of him. "Logan, how are you?"
"I'm survivin' fer now, Chuck. Least I got him fer a few weeks." He smiled. "Talk to me after and we'll see."
Charles nodded. //I'll be waiting for your return.//
Scott wandered into the kitchen and grabbed another beer. "Should I get Storm for him, do you think?"
"Naw. They'll figure it out."
Scott settled in the chair opposite of the Canadian. Eventually, Remy came in. He tossed his hat to Logan and went to his Stormy. He wrapped his arms around her and tucked her head under his chin. She cried into his shirt. Thunder crashed through the air, sounding her denial of the truth. Then, she had her arms around him and they were both crying. "Ma petite," he whispered. "Oh, ma petite fille, never wanted t' hurt y'. But I can't stop dis, chere. Wish I could be here f'ever f' y'. Wish I could always be there t' hold y' when y' hurt. Wish I could make all y' pain disappear. Mebbe de Gods'll be kind an' let Remy look in on y' now an' again."
"Remy, my brother, I will always miss you. I have never wished pain on you and I would not hold you here by my own selfish wishes, but it is hard not to wish for you to be here when we are both old and grey. I wish you could see the children who will come after us. I wish you could see the dream come true, or at least what progress we will make. I wish that before you left me forever, we could walk down the street with no fear in our hearts. But, my dearest brother, I love you now and forever."
"Ah, my Stormy. I wish the world was perfect. I wish my death'd mean somet'in'. Wish I could go down fightin', but I can't. I ain't strong enough t' do that. Goodbye, ma petite."
"Goodbye, Remy." She sobbed into his shoulder for a moment. Then, eventually, the tears stopped. She kissed his cheek. "Goddess bless you and keep you in her arms until we meet again."
Remy smiled a watery smile. He watched her leave the room. There was nothing left to say and nothing more he could do for his little sister. The tears were impossible to control, and they slipped down his face hot and quick. He felt arms around him and turned into the embrace. Scott held on until the tears subsided. Logan watched from the doorway. He nodded and went back to his beer. He'd have all the time they had left to say goodbye. Scott needed to do say goodbye now because he'd be too busy taking care of everything to grieve later.
"Merci," Remy said softly. "Watch over Logan f' me?"
"As much as she'll allow."
"Merci." Remy felt Scott's arms tighten for a minute. He leaned back so they were looking at each other. "Scotty?"
"This is the last time I'm going to see you isn't it?"
"Unless y' plan on meetin' me in Hell f' a chess match."
"It's a date. Remy?"
"Go on, cher."
"I've always considered you my little brother. Irritating as shit, but when you're gone there's something missing. I wish I'd had the guts to tell you that before, but I'm not good with emotions."
"Noticed that me." Remy smirked.
Scott laughed a little. "You're the first team-mate I've lost to natural causes."
"Manufactured virus inflicted by an asshole."
Remy laughed at that. "And?"
"And it's hard to realize that there's not a damn thing I can do to stop it."
"Scotty, y' done more'n y' know. Logan and me'd kill each other if'n y' weren't there t' separate us some. Logan's all protective and mother henning right now until I'm like t' kill him." Remy touched the side of Scott's face, wiping away the tear that had escaped from under his shades. "T'anks f' bein' there f' m' even though I didn' t'ink I wanted y' there."
"What are big brothers for?"
"Yes, you are actually, but I don't mind it." Remy punched Scott in the shoulder. "Goodbye, Remy."
"Goodbye, Scott." Remy scrubbed at his cheeks with the sleeve of his sweatshirt. "Time t' be gettin' home I t'ink. If. . . mais, mebbe I see y' Sunday like usual. Mebbe not."
Scott nodded, feeling the tears getting too hard to keep away. He stood and offered a hand. Remy used it to lift himself up. "Gettin' old," Remy muttered. He found Logan waiting with the car keys in his hand. They left without anything else needing to be said. Scott sat down on the back stairs, pushed his shades to the top of his head and cried, silently, into his arms. It was actually Xavier who sought him out. He placed a hand on the top of Scott's head and nothing more.
Logan held his lover as the pain out-maneuvered the medication. Remy'd refused the IV's and was quickly weakening. "Logan?" Remy said softly.
"Y' don' need t' see this."
"But ya need me to hold ya, so shush."
Remy tried to smile, but couldn't make his lips curl up. Logan rocked him gently until the exhausted eyes closed again. "Scotty's comin' t'day?"
"Look like shit, me."
"Don't matter to either of us, kiddo."
"Matters t' m'."
"Logan." There was a rising panic in Remy's voice. "Logan?"
"I'm right here." Logan held tighter. "I'm here, baby. I'm here."
"Je t'amie," Remy whispered, then choked. His arched into a spasm, then collapsed, in an unmistakable bonelessness. Logan laid him down. He managed to stop crying just long enough to let Scott in. Scott was the one who actually called Dr. Margaret Singletary. He called Jean-Luc LeBeau next. Then, he sat on the couch and planned to keep himself from starting to feel anything.