Logan set his bag down on the bed. He looked around the room. There was a note on the bed. "When you get back come see me - C." It was an old note, dated a week from when he was supposed to have been home, about ten years ago. His room hadn't been touched except to occasionally wipe the dust off of everything. He shook his head. The rest of the place didn't seem too changed except for some new faces.
He found Cyclops in his office - staring out the window, hands behind his back. "Hey, Slim," he said before he noticed there was something wrong with the man's scent. It was the same place he always found him. Cyke loved the little garden outside of his window. It was alive with a rainbow wave of flowers right now and Logan had to smile. Some things didn't change.
Logan's nostrils flared, scenting deceit, grief, anger, pain, and something else. It was a familiar scent, but he hadn't smelled it in years. He couldn't pinpoint what it meant. "What's up, Cyke?"
"Where were you?"
"Prison. Fer manslaughter. Bar brawl."
"You didn't call."
"Weren't the sort of thing. . ."
"Ten fucking years warrants a phone call."
Logan winced. "Cyke, I just. . ." The visor caught him in the nose, then dropped to the floor. He was staring into furious eyes. He raised a hand to rub the already gone pain, mouth agape.
"You were the one person, cher, the one person I wasn't trying to fool."
Remy closed the curtains. "He tried to hang on for you, but he didn't know when or even if you'd come back. He wanted to send me to find you, but he couldn't spare me. Team's mine now. Storm's my second."
"And Jean's yer wife?" Logan was angry for no reason at that thought. He cursed the surge of jealousy that coursed through him. He was even more pissed when he realized that he didn't know which one of the two he was jealous over.
Remy's lips tightened into a frown that wasn't his. Logan's heart twisted. "No, we live together, not sleep together unless she's feeling too fragile to be alone. The loss nearly crippled her mentally. She's finally getting better. Maybe you'll be able to help her with that."
Logan flopped onto the couch. "Come here, kiddo. Tell me what's happened." He patted his thigh. Remy snorted and took Scott's chair.
"Where the fuck do I start?" He put his feet up on the desk. Those were Cyke's combat boots. They still had "SS" carved into the sole of the right boot.
"How about, where's Scott?"
"Dead and buried. He died near ont' two years ago." It was easy to listen to the old cadence of Remy's accent, Logan thought wistfully. God, it sounded so strange to his ears, stranger than Scott's New York sharpness.
Grief, hard and hot, caught Logan unaware. Remy just watched with eyes hard as onyx while Logan processed Scott's death. "How?" Logan choked out.
"When he cracked his head as a kid, it did more damage than anyone knew. About eight years ago, he started having problems. He pulled me in here, handed me his spare visor and asked me to pretend for a week, to see if anyone caught on to the fact that Gambit and Cyclops were never in the same room together. It was too easy. Bobby knew and Jean of course, but no on else seemed to care. That hurt, Logan. It hurt both of us. After that, though, I was Cyclops in the field. I don't need to touch things to make them blow, never did really, just helped me focus. Hank repaired the minor filter Sinister put into my brain and I'm at my full potential now. Scott did as much of the paperwork and shit as he could, but he started getting worse. Everyone in the mansion had figured it out by then - that he was too ill to go out. And me, I didn't have anyone to worry about. Gambit still did jobs, enough to keep his rep and keep the team supplied with intel, but he moved to the boathouse. By the time Scott was too sick to do any of the work, I knew everything. Merde, we'd even managed to keep Charles from knowing about Scott's illness."
There were tears on Remy's face. Logan longed to wipe them away; to feel their hot wetness on his fingers. But he'd have to earn that right. "He was dyin' bit by bit. He talked about suicide once, but his hands were too weak to hold the blade and Jean wouldn't help him. It was torture to watch it, Logan. He'd always been in control. That. . . the damage took it away. I think. . . I think I fell in love with him at some point. I didn't know until he died."
"Why did ya do it, kid?"
"Because folks need heroes. They need consistency. The public doesn't need to know. . ."
Remy winced. "Then ask Red."
"Last I heard you were still in love with me."
"After ten fucking years without a phone call, you expect me to be waiting for you to come back?" Remy laughed bitterly. "I'm not stupid."
The phone rang. Remy picked it up. "Xavier's Yes, this is Mr. Summers?"
Logan stared at him. Then, he went to find Jean.
"You're clear, Sweetie," Jean said once she knew Logan was out of hearing.
"Just remember to lock the door before you cry.'
"Too late. See ya, Red."
"Be careful, Remy, he's dangerous."
"I know. He was my lover, remember?"
She heard his voice harden and knew the tears were gone. She closed her eyes. He so rarely expressed emotion that when he did she wanted to be there for it. He was firmly in control of himself in that instant. She sighed.
"I just worry about you."
"I'm just tired. I'll live."
They hung up. There'd been too many goodbyes lately.
"Wolvie," Jubilee said quietly, warily. She was a beautiful woman now, with piercing blue eyes. Her dark hair shone in the lights. Her fully developed figure was hard and well-trained. There were tiny scars on her face that told him that she was still a fighter. The hard set of her lips worried him. "You're back."
"Course I am."
She smiled at him. It was tight, strained little smile. "Have you seen Cyke yet?"
Logan scowled. "That ain't his name."
"Yes, it is," she replied. "And you'd better get used to it. None of the new members know different and we're going to keep it that way. Rogue's gone and don't ask Cyke about her unless you really want to eat your balls. Jono and I do a lot of the intel work. Jono never knew Cyke before. He knows there's a secret but it doesn't mean anything to him."
"It means something to me," Logan growled.
"Get over it." Jubilee sighed. "Ya can call him Remy, but it's Summers now."
Logan growled, eyes narrowed, shoulders hunched. "He fergot to mention it. Musta slipped his mind."
Jubilee snorted. "Nope. He chose not to tell ya because ya'd have hit him again."
Logan froze. He was sure Remy hadn't told her. It wasn't the sort of thing his boy'd do.
"Yeah, I know why ya ran away from him. Not even make-up could hide the bruising. Who'd ya think he'd call first? Scott? Hank? No, me. Told me to watch my back because you were nine-kinds of angry and needed someone to vent at. But you never showed. You nearly killed him when you left him."
"I only hit him once. Then, I left before I could hurt him."
"Shows what you know. The leaving hurt worse. He thought hit was his fault you left. Hell, he thought it was his fault you hit him! He'd take on the Marauders without flinching, but to have his lover leave? Yeah, he had the fucking morphine in his hand when Bobby took it away. All it would've taken was one pill. He'd have been dead in minutes." Jubilee turned on her heel. "Just a fucking phone call ain't that hard."
He stared after the young woman who had once been his little girl. He closed his eyes and mourned ten years.
Logan was beginning to get frustrated with stalking around the mansion. Conversations stopped as he walked by. No one seemed to know where Jean was, not even the computer. He finally found Jean in the kitchen of the boathouse, a scrapbook on the table in front of her. "Scott made this so he could remember when the first time-slips started." She traced a photo lovingly. "You can see the plasy in his hands get worse as he wrote. The letter he eventually left for Remy was ninety-pages. Mine was ten. I was almost jealous. But there was more Remy needed to know about the past. Old enemies. Old friends. Favorite tactical books, all of it. Then, there's this. The history of the team. You can see where Remy's updated it. He used red ink so you can tell the difference in their hand-writing."
"You agreed to this bullshit?" Logan sat down across from her. She turned the book to face him, so that he could look at it. He flipped through the memories, watching the handwriting grow more and more spiked.
"Aided and abetted. Fixed memories. Helped Remy learn private phrasing and incidents from our past. God, Logan, I lost both of them when Scott died. He's so tired of being two people. Some nights he doesn't even sleep. He goes out to steal intel and gets back in time for four a.m. practice." Jean touched a picture. "This is from before. Before Rogue left to marry Magnus. Before Scott got sick. Before Remy tried to kill himself instead of just letting himself die. Back when I had a reason to live not just survive."
Logan ignored the implications in that statement. "Yer the second person to tell me Gumbo tried to off himself."
"Charles forced his way in and ordered him never to try to kill himself again. Remy never spoke to the professor again. It burned all of his psi channels. He can't even stand the communications net. It gives him migraines. It's like putting your hand on a flame blister. It hurts me just as badly as it hurts him."
"After ten years it's still hurtin'?"
"Yes. He fought so hard, but Charles laid his mind bare. Saw all of his secrets, his guilt, his love. He saw everything and didn't stop until he'd checked every memory. He's damned lucky that I wasn't here. Betsy heard the screams in Boston, but by the time she got here it was over. She read Charles the riot act, but he was too self-righteous. That's when we discovered the dementia. Sinister. . . Sinister showed up and raised Cain about us hurting his son." She laughed. "You could've knocked any one of us over with a strong breath. Hank had tied Remy down because he was trying to attack Charles. Not that we blamed him. Sinister just caught his chin in one hand and focused him on something that sounded like the periodic table until he could shut down the pain. It took about a month before Remy'd talk to any of us. He wanted me to find you. It broke my heart to tell him no."
"And ya let Chuck live?"
"We sent him to Moira."
"I'll kill him." Logan felt the rage burning in his chest. Ten years of fighting in the vicious circles of the prison hadn't made him any less volatile. He wanted to teach Charles better than to touch his boy. There were at least two men still in the prison infirmary for touching Red. Logan felt confusion creep into the rage. He'd had red for five years and hadn't killed for him. He'd had Remy for five weeks.
"No, Remy doesn't want him dead. He wants him to suffer."
"Why are ya doin' this, Jeannie? Why the charade?"
"Because Scott decided it would be the best way. This way Remy can actually train a replacement. Scott knew his decline was going too quickly. If Remy wasn't as quick or as similar underneath, it wouldn't have worked. But he always wanted. . ."
"Scott wanted Remy to be able to slack off, to play, to be everything Scott never allowed himself to be. We didn't know how out of control he was getting until it was too late. Scott was the first person Remy talked to after."
"Tellin' my secrets, Jeannie?" Remy asked. He stepped in to start the coffee-pot. "We'll have to remember to eat up at the main house on Sunday."
Jean nodded. "I'll make sure it's on the calendar."
"Do you still take your coffee black, Logan?"
"Yep." Logan looked between the two of them. "So when'd ya change yer name to Summers?"
"I haven't officially. Papa'd hide me if I spat in his face like that. But I've been playing Scott's little brother for a long time. I don't think anyone ever questioned it on the other teams. Considering the Summers' family tree though, I don't think anything surprises people about it anymore."
"Heard you were gonna duck out on me."
Remy shrugged. "You were legally dead three years ago. Fuck off."
"But that's not when you tried to kill yerself."
"You left me. Why do you think I owe you an explination?"
"I didn't think ya'd appreciate me callin' from prison."
"I got a good lawyer. You *left* me. You promised me you wouldn't leave!" Remy knew he was feeding off of Logan's simmering bloodlust. He hadn't been angry in ten years. He didn't have the ability. He knew how to fake it, project it like any good actor. This sort of visceral emotion though, this came from outside.
"That was before I hit ya."
"I reckon I deserved it."
"Remy," Jean said sharply.
He scowled at her. Logan snorted.
"I was outta control, kiddo."
"You only hit me once."
"I knocked you into the wall and unconscious."
"You didn't kick me when I was down. You didn't tell me I was a stupid, immature shit. Which I was, by the way. I wanted you to hit me," he ended quietly. "I wanted my outside to hurt as much as my inside. I kept pushing until you snapped. I wanted to see your rage. I wanted you to know what I deserved."
"You ain't never deserved bein' hurt, kid." Logan and Jean shared a glance. Remy nearly rolled his eyes at Jean's refusal to accept that he was broken.
"Then you ain't listened closely enough. I couldn't make Scott lose it and Lord knows I tried. Warren was always good for baiting. I just needed you to know what a fucking bastard I am."
"Rems, it was not your fault there I hit ya. It was me being fucked up."
"You *left*. I don't care if you beat me so badly that I need Beast's TLC. You. Left. Me."
"It was too dangerous fer me to stay."
Remy's fingers closed around the handle of the bread knife, then reflexively opened. He slammed his fist into the wall. "It ain't fair, Jeannie! I can't even touch a knife. It's been ten fucking years. I can't hold a bread knife. What am I supposed to do? Gnaw on the loaf?"
"I'll cut the bread. Go ahead and start the sausage. Is there enough for three?"
"Oui," Remy said reaching for the refrigerator door. The visor was on top of his head like he used to wear his shades on days off. The pain was starting. It had been such a stupid mistake. He knew better than to touch knives. Charles didn't like it.
"So I left. That ain't a reason to die."
"It's every reason. What else do you do when your world collapses? Don't worry though, Logan, it won't happen again. I can't even cut veggies anymore. I can't take pills. I can't drink too much. I can't smoke. I can't drive over the speed limit. I can't be alone for more than fifteen minutes before I have to at least call someone. I can't even use a pallet knife for my paints." Remy slammed the things onto the counter. Tears were streaming down his face. "I can just *want* to die now. Charles won't let me do anything else."
"I don't get it, Rems. I wouldn't . . . I always come back."
"You always told me where you were going before." Logan touched the Cajun's arm.
"Look at me, Rems. I always come back."
"You didn't even call. Y' ripped m' heart out an' left m' dyin'. I couldn' feel not'in' but pain. If'n Bobby hadn' heard m' whisperin' m' goodbyes no one would've know it was anyti'n' but a mistake. One wrong pill in m' anti-biotics. Such a shame, but you know these busy pharmacies. No one to blame. Just a tragic mistake. If he hadn't been allergic to it. . ." Logan held Remy close. "An' now I ain't never gonna feel good again. If y' loved me y'd kill me kindly."
Jean started dinner. She knew enough to just let Remy cry. He needed the occasional tantrum, the occasional crying jag. She just let him rant, then carried on as usual. He didn't want coddling, but Logan would learn that soon enough. "Let go." Remy pulled away. He leaned against the cabinets to catch his breath. "Don't touch me, Logan."
Logan's hand dropped. He sat down at the table. He watched as Remy pulled himself up painfully, slowly. "Put the beans on, Remy?" Jean asked. She never coddled. She couldn't face the idea that Remy might leave her too, if she pushed him.
"Of course." Dinner was exceedingly quiet. Remy pushed his food around on the plate until Jean pulled it over and cut the sausage into bite-sized pieces. She pushed the plate back to him. Remy ate the meat carefully. The tears were back soon after. He and Jean ignored them. They were from the inflamed psi-channels. Jean had tried to block Charles' connections but they were too deep and too numerous. He had an iron control on Remy's mind even when the dementia was at its worst. She tried to soothe his mind once upon a time and had been firmly rebuffed. The Cajun didn't want her to suffer. Jean had never tried again.
"I'll call Hank. Go lay down."
"Yes, Jean." Remy left the dishes on the table. He barely got his boots off before collapsing onto the bed. Charles was killing him slowly, synapse by synapse. Half the time he feared that he wasn't making any of his own decisions. Logan sat on the bed next to him.
"I'm sorry. I shoulda called."
"Yes." Why won't you go away? Remy wondered, eyes closing. It hurt to breathe. It hurt to think.
"I do love ya."
"I'm sorry to hear that. I may have been in abusive relationships before, but you take the cake. You hit me, left me for ten years and suddenly you come slinking back and expect me to just welcome you with open arms. Unless you're here to shove your claws into my chest, just shut up and get out."
Hank stopped short at the sight of Logan sitting on his patient's bed. "Logan, you've returned." Hank's usually gentle eyes were stormy. He gave Remy a shot of neural inhibitors and patted him on the hip. "That should help, my friend." His voice was soft. "Shall I sit with you?"
"Merci, Henri. Jus' kick dis asshole off." Remy's eyes were unfocussed. "Wish I could feel somet'in' nice f' once, but Charles took dat away too."
"I've had a word with Moira. Charles is fading. She's given him no more than two months at the outside."
"It don't matter non. I'd have t' be able t' feel hope t' make it mean somethin'. Mebbe next time y' give m' the wrong shot, oui?"
"No, I'm not going to kill you, Remy. You'll have to die the old-fashioned way."
"I lost Creed's phone number."
Hank laughed at that. "Sleep, Remy."
"Oui, M. Bete."
Logan rested a hand on Remy's hair, surprised at the lack of bangs. He couldn't believe the boy gave all of it up to become Cyclops of all people.
"Told you, don't touch me."
Logan left the room, finding Hank waiting for him in the hall. They left after saying goodnight to Jean. "This is you first warning, Logan, if you upset Remy or harm him, you will find yourself in need of my services. He's not a biddable as you remember and he's not as sane as you remember. It doesn't take as much to set him off as it used to. He hates being touched."
"Why did ya let Chuck do it, Blue?"
"He swore he was just going to ease the pain, not destroy his psi abilities and shatter his shields. I was foolish enough to trust him."
"And now you blame yerself. This place is a fucking hole of guilt. I can smell it all over ya."
"And you don't feel in the least bit guilty that you didn't call your lover to make sure he was alive after you left him unconscious on the floor of his bedroom? It was the first most of us even knew the two of you were in a relationship. He was desperate to find you and apologize. He begged me not to tell Charles that you hit him. Told everyone except Jubilee and Scott that it was a training accident. How often had you hit him? He swore to me that it was the first time, but I can't rely on his memory."
"I only hit him once, Blue. That ain't my thing. I left to blow off some steam so I wouldnt' hurt him worse."
"And never came back, confirming to his mind that he wasn't worth the consideration."
"I was arrested. I didn't want the cops to associate me with the place."
"That is just an excuse and not a good one. And you will never know how hard Scott tried to fight to get to see you one more time. I had one patient trying to die and one trying to live. This little charade might be the only thing that's give Remy anything to hold onto. But now that Jubilee's a team leader and Bobby's a team leader, Remy's ready to turn over control. Cyclops will retire, leaving Storm in charge of the school."
"Rems has always burned so bright."
"So quickly," Beast amended. "He thought you'd be able to help him bank the flames, give him a long-term heat. He was pinning his future on you, Logan."
Logan stopped walking. "I thought he was just havin' fun."
"Maybe you should have discussed that before you slept with him."
"I never did. A blow-job that'd make angels weep. Some heavy pettin'. But we never got there."
"He seemed to think you had. He asked me all sorts of mechanics questions. I nearly loaned him Bobby's _Joy_of_Gay_Sex_, but he convinced Bobby to play display model instead." Hank blushed. Logan could smell the heat of his blood rushing to the surface of his skin.
"I didn't think the boy was a virgin."
"Rape and making love are very different. You were the first man he had an actual relationship with. That's why he pushed you. He was trying to prove that you were like all the other men that had used him. Congratulations, you proved him right. Oh, and Logan, I wouldn't talk to Bobby for a few days. I'll have to calm him down so he doesn't ice up your equipment."
Logan nodded. He filed that away. His mind clicked through the memories. He could hear the whimpers that were as loud as screams, the slap of skin on skin, the liquid grunts of prison nights. He closed his eyes against the quiet desperation he'd seen in Red's eyes as he realized the trouble he was in as fresh meat. His stomach sank as he remembered the look on Remy's face the instant before he collapsed. Hank was telling the truth. Logan knew he'd just been blind.
"What do you mean, 'Logan's back?'" Bobby demanded. "He better have come back in a fucking pine box!"
"He's been in prison."
"They have phones there. Hell, the probably have email there." Bobby started pacing.
"He thinks he was protecting the team."
"I don't fucking give a fuck! He wasn't the one who held him during the day when the merest brush of another person's mind drove him into hysterics. He didn't teach him not to be afraid of raised voices, or. . ." Bobby paced back and forth, arms waving in emphasis.
"Bobby, I know. I was on the other side of the bed." Hank considered. "Should we offer our services again?"
"I'd ask Jean whether she's willing to give him up first. They've been sleeping together for years. Hell, Scott used him as a teddy-bear near the end." Bobby's anger fled as quickly as it had come. He remember the tears against his throat as he held Remy tight that fateful night. He could almost feel the shivers in Remy's frame.
"I know. Still, I can make the offer."
Bobby sighed. "He probably does need it. I just wish he'd have a good blow out about it with Logan. I worked damn hard to get him even faintly together."
"We'll keep him together, Bobby. I promise you that."
Hank pulled his partner into his arms and held him as the anger vibrated through his body. "I've wanted to kill Logan since I flushed that fucking pill," Bobby snarled into Hank's fur. He wrapped his fingers into the comforting blue silkiness. He rubbed his cheek against Hank's chest. Hank's large hands stroked him delicately, making Bobby feel like revered precious china.
They stayed that way for a long time.
Jubilee caught Logan up with the rest of the gossip over dinner at the Italian restaurant that had been Remy and Storm's favorite. Jubilee had grown up while Logan wasn't looking. Her black hair now fell in a gleaming waterfall of onyx over her shoulders. Her face had lost all of the lingering baby-fat of her teenage years. She was toned, but not overly muscled. She still moved with gymnastic grace and Logan could see Gambit's hand in that training. There were newer scars on her hands and one on her cheek that make-up only partially hid. Logan's heart clenched at seeing her a woman when all her remembered was a brash and gutsy girl. When she was done with her report, she looked Logan dead in the eye. "Logan, I've loved you as my partner, as my mentor, as my friend, and as a father, but seeing what your disappearance did to both the Cajun and Summers has made me question whether or not I can still trust you at my back. Not to mention 10 years without a fucking post-card. I'm starting to understand why Scott was so uptight with Corsair."
Logan's hands fisted. "How was I supposed to know Gumbo was goin' to fly off the handle?"
"He was in love with you. He hated you for a little while. Now, he doesn't care. You weren't here to watch it. You weren't here to see Summers shaking so badly that he couldn't lift a fork. Scott was so weak. He asked me about once a year if I'd heard from you. The day after my birthday. He believed you'd come back. He made fucking provisions for you to come home any time in the twenty years after he died. Remy went with it to keep Scott happy. Summers seemed so tired. He fought it, but he seemed old. I don't know his reasons for getting Remy to *be* him, but my guess is that he was hoping to get him to believe a little bit, to fight the pain instead of embracing it. Sometimes, I think, I think you should've killed Remy that night. Then Scott wouldn't have been so lost and Remy wouldn't have suffered."
Logan just studied his plate. "I wanna see Scott's grave."
"I'll show it to you." Her voice was soft, sad not angry, Logan assessed by her scent. She was wearing a light, vanilla-based perfume and he wondered who had given it to her. She'd always worn Estee before. He'd given it to her every year.
Logan looked at the simple marble headstone. "Scott Summers, brother, father, husband, and friend."
Logan traced the letters with his fingertips. He could felt the roughness next to the polished gloss as keenly as a knife. He closed his eyes and let the grief crash over him in waves. "I love ya, Slim," he whispered. His tears splashed against the decaying red and white roses at the base of the stone. He folded his hands atop the stone, laid his forehead on them and cried. Logan had never repressed his emotions. When he hurt, he cried it to the heavens. When he raged he drowned in blood. When he mourned it was swift and intense. When he loved it was with all of his being. And he had loved Scott Summers as surely as he had loved Jean.
Remy shook. "Jeannie," he whispered urgently. She woke. She wrapped her shields around his mind to protect him from the pain of Logan's grief. Then, she wrapped her arms around him and kissed him gently on the mouth.
"Go to sleep, Remy." He laid down, head touching hers on the pillow. It was an intimacy that most would have said proved they were lovers. Those who know them, however, knew it was self-protection. Combined their shields were a formidable defense against almost all of the telepaths in the world. Jean closed her eyes and breathed in the scent of Scott's cologne. Even if it were Remy wearing it, it comforted her. She could pretend for a little while longer.
Hank checked Remy's vitals and reflexes. "Remy, my dear friend, Bobby and I wanted to remind you that we are here for you. We will not try to pressure you into anything, but if you want anything, even if it's just a hug, tell us."
Remy opened his arms and Hank enfolded him in a warm, soft, hug. "I want t' die so bad, Henri. That's the one thing no one will give me."
"We don't want to lose you. We've worked too hard to keep you." Hank rocked slightly, knowing it was a comfort Remy had never gotten as a child.
Remy breathed in Hank's familiar scent. He rubbed his cheek against the silky fur. This was as close to happy as he got these days. The pain wasn't so bad when Hank held him. Charles seemed to recognize that Hank wouldnt' let him get hurt. That's why it had to be Hank who did it. Remy knew, with the same instinct that had led him to Sinister, that only a doctor could kill him. Unfortunately, Essex had turned out to be Remy's father and refused to let him die. Even now, when he was just the frail reflection of a dead man, Sinister wanted him to live. Hank and Bobby wanted him to live. Jean needed him to live, which was a completely different situation. He sighed feeling Hank's strong fingers stroking down his back.
"Jeannie, can I talk to you?"
Jean set her book aside. "Of course. What's up?"
"Tell me about Scott. 'Bout what I missed." Logan watched her with the intense concentration of a predator. She was colder than he remembered, but no less beautiful. The crow's feet by her eyes were the lingering trace of her usually brilliant smile. Her long hair had been coiled up into a French twist, held by a silver comb. Her mouth turned down at the corners as she chose her words.
"He wanted to say goodbye so badly. He didn't want to be just one more person who left you behind. He fought it, but it stole him piece by piece. First, it was his hands. By the end he couldn't talk. He was pretty much blind for the last two years. He wanted to live so badly, but his body just failed. He left you a letter. He was hoping to be able to give it to you himself." Jean sighed. "He loved you, Logan. You should know that if nothing else."
"I know." Logan's voice was soft. "Shit, Jeannie. He told me after you died. But he loved ya so deep he couldn't've lived without ya."
Jean smiled faintly at that. "Surviving a broken heart is like chewing on glass. If Remy hadn't been there, I would've shaken apart. He teases me like Scott did. It's like having him here for a moment. It's just enough to keep me going. Sometimes, that's all it is, just the need to keep each other going."
Logan took her hand. It was soft and warm, familiar. "Maybe it's time fer you to start livin' again."
"Logan, maybe you should mind your own business."
He stared at her, stunned.
Bobby Drake was not a happy man. He stalked Logan across the campus. He finally cornered him in the gardens. "Hello, Logan."
"I was planning on super-cooling your cock, but for some reason Remy doesnt think it would matter since you don't have any balls anyway." Bobby was half-tempted to do it anyway. It wasn't like it would be permanent.
"Ya'd better talk quick before I carve ya into a swan."
"Oh, I think you'll find I'm a little hard to catch now." Bobby's voice was frosty. His blue eyes felt as hard as diamonds when he iced them over.
"I'm Blue Team leader, Logan. And I've learned a few things in the past ten years. You owe me an apology and groveling for cleaning up after the mess you left. He was willing to do anything for you. You were the first person he ever truly loved, Logan. And you destroy him. I'm the one who took the pill away from him. I'm the one he begged not to tell anyone he'd done it. I'm the one who had to betray those pain-filled eyes. Did you know he'd been on the streets when you used him, Logan? When he was offering you anything you wanted, did you know he'd been used by a bunch of assholes in a back alley when he was only six? You broke his trust. Looking back I'm surprised none of us saw him spiraling out. You were the last in a long line of users and abusers in his life. You're nothing to me anymore, Logan. Not a threat, not a teammate, not even a hero. Don't look at me. Don't talk to me. And don't fucking cross me or you will regret it."
"Don't threaten me, Bobby."
"I don't make threats."
Logan felt his heart constrict as the ice crystals formed in his blood. He tried to glare, but for the first time in a long while, he was getting scared. Bobby left and the blood returned to its proper state.
Logan went to his room. He tried to get some sleep but all he could see were the confused and overlaid images of Scott, Remy, and his bitch from the past five years - Red. He tossed and turned.
Things settled down. "Four a.m. means four a.m., Wolverine," Cyclops snapped.
"Fuck off, Cyke. Some of us have lives," Logan snapped back.
"I don't give a damn. You're the one who wanted to be on this team. Show up on time or fuck off."
Logan growled. The air in front of him exploded. He blinked, then stepped back.
"Wolverine, Psylocke, Angel, you're Team 1. Iceman, Chamber, Jubilee, Team 2. It's a scavenger hunt. Whoever gets to the prize first and gets hit back out to the starting point wins. Killing results in immediate forfeiture. Enjoy."
Iceman bared his teeth at Wolverine. Wolverine flicked him off with a blade. Yeah, Remy thought as he watched, we're normal. He shook his head and went to the control room.
It was Sunday dinner, three weeks after Logan's return when the gathering storm finally broke. Jean and Remy were in the kitchen, working on dinner. The phone rang. Jean answered it in the hall. That was the best place to reach anyone in the Mansion now that Cerebro's kitchen speaker didn't work regularly. Remy scowled at the knife. He reached for it. I'm just going to chop an onion. He thought as loudly as he could. There was no pain as he picked up the knife.
He stared at the glimmering blade. It couldnt be that easy. He set the edge of it against his wrist. He sliced it. He watched the blood run over his palm and down the drain. He smiled. He cut the other wrist and laughed softly. The blood was red, sticky, and warm. He could smell it. He tasted a lick from one finger
Jean swung into the room as soon as she made the announcement over the PA system. Remy was sitting on the floor watching his blood pooling on the linoleum. He looked up at her with an angelic smile, then collapsed. She wrapped his wrists with dishtowels, then carried him down to Hank. The tears weren't for the professor, or for Remy, but for herself.
"Don't leave me, Remy," she whispered.
"Oh my stars and garters!" Hank started his repairs immediately, while Bobby ran for the blood transfusion. "How much has he lost?'
"I don't know. Enough to make him faint."
Jean chewed on the sleeve of her sweater. It was a childhood habit that snuck up on her every once and awhile. She stroked Remy's cheek, tenderly. Hank let her. Bobby started the transfusion. He retreated to the hall to get himself under control. Remy's skin looked translucent, like the teacup her mother had given her when she turned thirteen. He was still. It was a shock to see the smile that still curled his lips up. Jean tried to ignore the joy she'd seen in his eyes.
Jubilee looked around the room where the professor's memorial was being held. "Where's Cyke?" she asked, mostly to herself.
//He's in the med-lab,// Jono answered. //Slit his wrists about the time the professor died.//
Jubilee left without a word. She bolted through the halls. Jono followed more sedately, knowing from Jean what they'd find. The young woman skidded to a stop outside the lab. She opened the door after a calming breath. Remy was awake, eyes mostly clear of pain. He was tied to the frame of the hospital bed though. "Hank was thinking he'd chain me down, but Bobby whined that *he* never got chains so what did Hank think he was doing?" Remy shrugged.
Jubilee snorted. "Yer in a mood, Cajun."
Remy raised his brows. "Suddenly I'm 'Cajun' again? Guess that means I can start calling you 'petite' again."
"Don't try it, Rems."
Hank came in hearing voices. "Are you tying to ruin my reputation again, Remy?"
"Oui, M. Bete. Tell dem all 'bout how y' torture me."
Hank looked over his glasses at his patient. "You must be feeling better." He tried to look severe, but he could feel the smile on his lips.
"Happiest day of my life. I can use knives again."
"I won't allow you to kill yourself, Remy. I've spent too many years trying to keep you alive."
Remy rolled his eyes. He tugged on the restraints. "What do you think, Jubes, gun, knife, pills, or rope?"
"Why not try all of the above. I'll hold the gun to you groin until you take your pills. If you're really good, I'll tie you up," Jubilee told him.
"You're a bitch, Lee."
"That's why you love me."
Remy snorted. "Ready for a little taste of command, Jubes?" Hank checked Remy's circulation and the drip of his IV. He watched Remy's interactions with the critical eye of a field-trained psychiatrist.
"Meanin' Bobby's gonna be staying down here as my baby-sitter according to Hank. You're lead."
"Fuck. Cyke did a job on you, Gumbo." She smiled. "I'll go monitor the coms then. I'll have Storm announce it's because you're sick."
"And I am." Remy smirked. "But I always have been, just that folks didn't notice." He pulled against the cotton ties. The collar around his neck blinked a cheery red. "Wanna see if I can short out this collar?"
"You couldn't manage it in Genosha without the key," Jubilee said with a smile. "I'll be back later, babe."
"See you, chere."
Jono looked between them, eyes crinkling in amusement. //You tryin' to steal my girl, mate?//
"Non, she know her own mind too well, Jono. Henri, y' t'ink mebbe Jono stay wit m' so y' and Robert can go t' the memorial service?"
"You don't want to be there?" Hank frowned, concerned that Remy was trying to isolate himself.
"You don't want me singing 'Ding, dong the witch is dead!' at the top of my lungs. Go on, Blue. Mourn him. I've never gotten along with him. He was always looking for a reason to get into my mind. I don't want to mourn, I want to celebrate."
Hank kissed the top of Remy's head. "Don't let him up, Jono, no matter what he says or threatens." Hank tapped Remy's nose. "And you be good."
"Remy's always good."
"Remy is a liar."
"Always, mon cher."
Jono agreed to stay. The doors closed. He touched Remy's mind carefully. //This hurt too bad, mate?//
//I can take it. Just keep it light?//
//Of course. Why'd ya ask for me?//
//You didn't really know Charles.//
//I know what he did to you. Now, what's the deal with yer accent, pet?//
//I'm Cajun.// Remy shrugged. //I became Remy LeBeau Summers when Scott got sick. I've been playing Cyclops for eight years. You never knew Scott well either did you?//
//No, you've been Cyclops for as long as I've been here.//
//That's scary. Of course, I've been pretending to be Scott for so long that most people probably don't remember I'm Remy. Even. . . even Logan called me Cyke.//
//So?// Jono perched on the visitor's chair. He'd known Remy for a long time. He enjoyed the older man's company, but they'd never talked like this before.
//He swears, swore, he loved me, cher. And he called me by Scott's name. He knows my scent. He knew me as Gambit for years. He walks in and calls me by his ex's name? It hurt.//
//I think yer bein' harsh, mate. Ya look just like Scott.//
//I know. That's why he wanted to fuck me.// Remy laughed bitterly. //I offered Scott my body. I'd die in his body. He'd live in mine. It was the only time he ever hit me. I still don't know why the idea pissed him off so.//
//Maybe he wanted you to live.// Jono felt his brows shoot up.
//And I don't want to live. I wanted Scott to live. He had everything to live for. I have nothing.//
//Ya got more'n ya realize.//
//The first time I've been happy in ten years in when I could put the knife to my wrists. It felt so damned good to see the blood run over my palms and into the sink, onto the floor.// Remy twisted against the restraint, just to feel the pain in his wrist. //I don't know why they didn't just let me go. If I'd just taken that one little pill it would've been quicker. My arm's hurtin' something awful. You get me a couple of asprin or something from the first aide stuff? Excedrin'll work.//
//Sure, mate.// Jono patted the Cajun's shoulder. He was just getting him some water to take the pills with when Jean slammed into the room, eyes flashing.
//Put it down, Jono.//
//It's just aspirin, luv. Got it out myself.//
//He can't take painkillers.//
Remy glared at her.
"How dare you use someone to kill yourself! That's sadistic, Remy. I thought you were better than that." Jean's voice was an angry hiss. Jono froze feeling like a mouse caught between two hungry cats.
"Fuck you, Jeannie. Y'all should've let me die before Charles turned me into a puppet. You should've let me trade bodies with Scotty! Then everyone would've been happy. You'd have your husband. I'd be dead and Charles would. . ."
Jean put a hand over his mouth. "I want you to listen carefully to me, Remy. Scott chose you to lead this team long before he got sick. He didn't want to drop it on you too early. He spent three hours in the Danger Room after Charles nearly destroyed you because he was so angry at himself for not seeing how upset you were. He loved you. Do you hear me, Remy? Scott. Loved. You. He was desperate to reach you. He wanted you to live. Damn it, Remy."
Remy turned away from her hand. "That's the problem. Everyone else wants me t' live, but I don't. I spent ten years dreamin' about dyin'. I dont' want to live. Jubilee or Bobby can take command of the teams. Storm can handle the business. And. . ."
"And where's our thief?"
"Jubilee and Jono can do it. They good enough." Jono put away the meds, not wanting to watch the scene. He could hear his parents telling him he was a useless freak. Cyclops saying he was a good thief shocked him. Part of him wondered when Cyke would figure out the truth and get him off the team. He silenced that voice with a mental switch-blade. The one thing he knew Cyke wouldn't do was throw him out.
"And what about the ones you leave behind? What about us, Remy? I need you. Don't leave me."
"Logan's back. He actually loves you, woman."
"He's not the man I've been holding in the middle of the night for almost two years. He's not the person who taught me to cook or how to look at a picture to see if it's a fake."
Remy closed his eyes.
"Don't close me off! Open your eyes and look at me. Now."
Remy looked at her. She was the only person who ever got mad at him without shying away from it. Jono admired her tenacity and her honesty. Jono watched in appreciation as Jean invaded Remy's space. Even with him bound, it was dangerous. Cyke didn't follow any rules when he fought.
"You are important. You are needed. I want you to stay."
"I ain't Scott."
"No. You're Remy. Besides, Scott couldn't cook and was color-blind."
Remy pulled at the restraints angrily, but Jono wasn't worried, Hank had a lot of practice in keeping him restrained. The pale green scrubs made him look more ill than he was. "Why?" he demanded. "Why won't you let me go?"
"Because I care. Because I want you to live. Because I can't lose three of you so quickly." She stared into his eyes. "Why do you want to die?"
"Because it ain't enough, Jeannie. Oui, you need me. I hear that, but I can't *feel.* The only reason I ain't attempted recently is because Charles took away my options. I tried plenty when I was younger. I was getting better. Rogue, Stormy. Then Logan, my last chance at findin' someone to hold, to be my center. He left because I weren't good enough, smart enough. He didn't love me. He loved the fact that I looked like Scott. Why the fuck should I stay, chere? I been tryin' t' find something t' live for, but all I found was something to die for. Would it make a difference if I went down in a blaze of glory? I can make it happen."
"What would make it worth it for you to live?"
"Love. Freedom. Security. No more pain. No more constant fear. I'm not'in', Jeannie. Just a pale reflection of de man Sinister wanted me to be. I was born to die for him."
"For Scott. To protect him from Apocalypse. I fuckin' failed at that too. Cable took him on when I was in another country."
Jono felt a quiet shame in his stomach. He'd never even wondered why no one let Cyke take chances or why Jean cut his meat for him. He'd assumed there was a minor, hidden, handicap that kept him from holding a knife. No one had ever told him the background. Even worse, he'd never noticed the man was miserable.
"You are not responsible for Cable's choices. Sinister is fucked in the head."
Remy stared at her.
"You cursed. You're always riding me about my language and you cursed."
"You've heard me curse before. When you broke your arm because Charles wouldn't let you jump off the motorcycle."
"I had a concussion," Remy pointed out. He brightened. "My Harley's still in storage?" Jono made a note to borrow the keys to the bike from the shed. He hadn't been on a bike for years. Cyke wouldn't mind him testing it out for him.
"Of course. I ignored you when you asked me to sell it for you. I don't know how drivable it is. And your motorcycle license expired."
Remy rolled his eyes. "Don' worry on that part. I can still get that."
"I don't know. Only if you give me your word of honor that you won't try to crash it."
"I weren't never gonna abuse m' baby like that. Left her t' Jubilee when I die and I ain't giving her something in bad shape."
"Okay, how about a deal. Just between us. Give me two more years. Try to live. Let your mind heal without Charles. If you still want to die, I'll look away. If you make an attempt before then, we'll start over."
"One year. Final offer. No negotiation."
Remy thought for a long moment. Jono could almost see the business being transferred in his mind. Finally, the young man nodded. "one year, Jeannie, but y' gotta get rid of every compulsion Charles put in my head, including the one about not running away."
"Deal. Now, just lay back and relax."
Remy looked sardonically at his wrists. "Well, I'll do my level best not to get up."
"Do you mind if I show Jono some tricks?"
"Like I can stop you."
//I ain't heard ya that bitter before, pet.//
"And just when did I become 'pet' and not 'mate?'"
//When ya slit yer wrists, pet.//
Remy snorted. He laid back and closed his eyes.
//You sure about this, Red?//
//His bark's worse than his bite, Jono. Tread gently thought.// Jean set a hand to her temple. She sat next to the bed and took Remy's hand in hers. Jono just lowered the frame of the bed. He ignored Remy's mumbled protest about his wrist being connected to it. He sat on the bed. Remy curled his legs up to give the younger man room. Jono leaned against Remy's legs - as content as a housecat. The thief glared at him, but it lacked heat. Then, his eyes glazed. They closed gently.
Jean looked around the once vibrant mindscape and nearly sobbed. Jono appeared next to her, holding the hand of a very reluctant Remy. //Told him I'd just wait it out, but he insisted,// Remy told Jean.
//I'd like you with us too, Remy. This is so different from the last time.//
//Rogue's a t'ief not a rapist. It's lookin' better, truth be told. De barbed wire's gone.//
//Barbed wire?// Jono asked. //Where?//
//In the streets like tumbleweeds.//
The two telepaths shivered.
//I like y'r face, Jono.//
Chamber blinked. //Fergot about that.// He smirked. //Maybe I should tell Jubilee yer flirting with me.//
Remy managed a short laugh. Chamber realized that he'd never heard the man laugh before. Not a real laugh anyways. A bitter bark of ironic humor was more Cyke's style. Jean took Remy's other hand. //We're going to start looking for the compulsions now. You'll have to show me where it hurts the most.//
//Oui, Jeannie.// Remy's fingers tightened.
//I'm here too, mate. Ya can hold on too tight when it starts to hurt.//
Remy nodded. He turned towards the right hand path away from the center of the city. //This way.//
Hank found the three of them in deep rapport. He merely lowered the lights further and tucked a blanket around each of them. Even if Chamber didn't need the blanket, he'd appreciate the gesture. Hank had fallen asleep by the time they returned to themselves. All three of them had splitting headaches, but the job was done. While they were at it, Jean had undone several deep-rooted compulsions from Sinister. She kissed Remy's cheek, then took over one of the other beds. Jono never slept, so he kept watch over Cyclops - no Remy was more fitting after spending hours in the man's head.
Jubilee checked in before she went to bed. Remy smiled at her. Jono nodded. "Report?" Remy asked.
"The mourners are gone. The grave's filled in. Cable offered to support us, but Bobby and I think we'll be fine. WE told him we'd call if we need him. He said he wants to hear from you tomorrow or he's driving back up here no matter what. Emma says call her and do lunch. I left all the cards and messages on your desk in the office. Perimeter is secured. Mansion is secured. There's a wake in the ballroom for anyone who's staying here. I'm on second shift. Bobby's on first. I cancelled all the Danger Room sessions for tomorrow."
"Welcome. Night, Gumbo."
She sent a light 'paft' in his direction -a private fireworks display - then, left after a quick kiss on Jono's cheek.
Hank agreed to release Remy only after receiving a written no-harm contract. Remy scowled at the doctor. "It's only good for two weeks," Hank pointed out, "after that I won't keep you under 24-hour watch."
"You can't do that to me!"
"Watch me. Do you want me to keep you tied down?" Hank's voice was a sharp warning that Remy wasn't stupid enough to ignore. Hank would tie him down for the full two-weeks with no question. Remy felt the petulant frown settle on his face and decided he would sulk as opposed to challenging the doctor directly. Maybe Hank would take pity on him.
"Jono has agreed to baby-sit you whenever Jean is sick of you."
So much for that plan. Remy gave Hank the finger. The doctor just laughed.
"Rems, wait up. We gotta talk. Tell yer shadow to fuck off."
//No can do, mate. I'm here 24 hours.//
Remy scowled at Chamber, but he'd given up trying to bribe him after a new amp and new motorcycle had failed to work. Remy'd gotten the bike anyway though, so they could ride together. "What is it, Logan?"
It was still an obvious shock to hear Scott's accent from Remy's mouth, but Logan covered well. "Why'd ya do it?"
"Cut 'em? Fer Chuck?"
Remy's laugh was brittle. "I went and pissed on his grave last night. Wish I could've done it right on the body. I did it because for ten years I've been planning how to die. Piss off, Logan."
Logan grabbed Remy's arm. He got a broken nose and a knee to the groin but didn't let go. "I'll just wait until ya tire yerself out." Remy's eyes flickered to Logan's knuckles. "I ain't never clawed ya and I ain't about to start now." Remy fought the grip for almost a minute before the lethargic passivity took over. Jono touched Logan's hand.
//Careful, mate,// he warned.
"Come on. Let's talk." Logan led the young men to the old tree in the front yard where long ago Scott had built a bench. Remy caressed the wood-work. He could feel Scott in the little projects - his accomplishment, his home. Remy closed his eyes for a moment. Those lingering touched of Scott always helped buoy him through the roughest spots. "Remy?"
Logan's voice was soft - not really wanting the peaceful smile to leave Remy's face.
"Why did ya try to kill yerself the first time?"
"Because I'm a worthless whore who'd be better off dead in a dumpster."
"How old were ya?"
"Eleven. Tried to OD on coke. My body processed it too quick. Shit didn't even give me a high. I tricked for a month to buy it too."
Logan bowed his head. "Ya didn't know about yer reaction to morphine?"
Remy blinked. "Coke was cheaper. Then, I figured nothin' of a drug would work, so I got a knife. Jean-Luc picked me up that day when I was goin' for his wallet."
"Did ya ever tell him?"
"Oui. And my shrink. But I. . . it felt so nice there, warm, safe. I was gonna have a family. Then, I was banished. Tell y' true, Logan, I hoped I'd die in one of my heists. I loved Jean-Luc too much t' kill m'self." Logan could smell the tears, but they didnt' fall. There was grief and pain in the younger man's scent.
"What? Then why did ya try when I left?"
"Jean-Luc died the day y' left m', Logan! That's why I was so upset. That's why I was fuckin' hysterical. And when I pushed there weren't nothing stable around me. After the funeral, the wake, the paperwork, Henri's investiture, m' debts were paid. So got the pill. And it would've been an accident. A tragic miscounted pill taken when I was too tired to notice."
Tears streamed down Remy's face. "Gave y' a month t' at least call. You always called before. I realized you weren't comin' back. There weren't no one else to care." Jono wrapped his arms around Remy's waist and held him while he talked.
Logan stared. Slowly, he reached out to brush away the tears. "Oh God, Remy. I'm so fucking sorry."
"F'get it. It's over and done. Now, I've got thank you notes to finish now that the pictures of the flowers are printed. Let's go, Jono."
They left Logan on the bench. Logan stroked the wood. "Did you know, Slim? Was that why ya wanted to see me?" Logan thought back to the day he'd left. He'd never even unpacked just went to Remy's room. The boy was strung tighter than a piano wire. He smelled of lies and a woman's perfume. It wasn't a scent Logan knew. "What bitch are ya seein' now?"
"Mais, mebbe it ain't a femme? What's de matter, cher? Afraid t' fight a woman f' what y' want?"
It had been a stupid taunt, but it had been enough to set Logan off after a week of frustration and leashed menace. "I'll show ya what happens to boys that cheat on me." He'd hit Remy only once, but it had knocked him out. He'd left before he could do anything else. He'd just been trying to protect his lover.
Jubilee settled on Remy's lap in the desk chair. She started doing the bills. Remy cleared his throat.
"I was sitting here first."
"Yer always here, bub. Figured if I need the desk I'd better just take over for a few. Enjoy."
Remy looked at Jono helplessly. The couple had appointed themselves day-time guardians whenever Jean was out of the house. Jean was shopping with Betsy. The Cajun leaned back. He appreciated the comfort of touch and sensation. Slowly, his shields had reached their full strength after ten years of battles. He tried to take pleasure in his new freedoms, but found the habits were hard to break. It was harder on the rest of the team sometimes.
"You don't have to stay with me all the time. Hank let me out of the contract because I'm getting better."
"Right. So when are ya gonna marry Jean? Inquiring minds want to know."
Remy snorted. "I ain't divorced yet."
Jubilee froze. "You're still married to Belladonna?"
"Oui. Till death do us part. She refused t' kill me by the way. It has to do with being a sadist."
"The maschocist says 'torture me.' The sadist says 'no.'"
Jubilee laughed and Jono's eyes crinkled in amusement. Remy shrugged. //Yer twisted, pet.//
"I've missed you, Cajun," Jubilee told him.
"I've been here the whole time."
"No, you've been hiding. For awhile I thought Remy had died not Scott."
"That's what I wanted. I tried to convince him to do a body swap."
"Oh, I'm sure that went over well."
"He slapped me." Remy was pouting.
Jono shook his head. The man was a total brat in private. He was great. Jubilee wiggled on Remy's lap. "Stop dat, petite." Jubilee winked at her boyfriend. She'd been trying to prove to him that Remy was actually a human male, not a robot, but he wasn't convinced. Now, he was beginning to see it. Of course, having seen the battlefield Remy called a mind, Jono wasn't sure how his sense of humor had survived at all.
"If you're going to be here awhile, I'm going to the Danger Room. I've got programs to create."
"No can do, bub."
"Because we've got guests coming to visit Chuck's grave."
"Talk sense, Jubilee. Wasn't every. . . Non."
"Yeah. And they might be bringing their son."
"Merde." Remy paled. "I ain't ready t' face that."
"I know. Which is why you're staying in here with us."
"And how are y' plannin' to entertain me then?" He stroked her thigh. Jono didn't mind it, he knew it was just for the pleasure of sensation.
Jubilee leaned back. "In your dreams, boyo."
Jono snickered in their minds. //I don't know. Might be interesting, Jubes.//
Jubilee raised her brows. "Sorry, not doing the Cajun, ever."
Remy pouted. "Y' don't love me no more?"
"I love you, but it's a family thing. You know, big brother maybe. Or uncle or something."
"I'm crushed. Come on, petite, let me up. I'll go sit with Jono. You can finish the bills while I dig out the chess board."
"Chess? Why not cards?"
"After you finish the bills maybe. But, chere, didn't you ever wonder why I went with 'Gambit' as my name?"
Rogue looked down at the professor's grave. "Goodbye, Professor," she whispered. Her eyes were drawn to Scott's grave. She put a hand to her mouth. "Scott's dead? But I seen Cyclops on the news." She looked at her husband. Eric was mourning the loss of his best friend though. "Im goin' up to the house, sugah." Rogue was glad she'd left their son with Wanda for the day. William didn't need to see this.
Rogue went straight to Cyclops' office. If anyone could explain things it would be the new team-leader. She walked in. "Didn't anyone ever tell you it's rude not to knock?"
"Jubilee?" Rogue stopped. Her eyes flicked over Scott and Jonothan Starsmore. He brain clicked a bit. "Hello, Swamp Rat. Chamber."
"Rogue," Jubilee said coldly. "Get out."
"How come you ain't self-destructed, boy?" Rogue asked.
"Long story. What do you want, Rogue?"
She blinked. "Scott? Don't tell me it was some body-switching thing."
"I'm not Scott. Cyclops, yes. Not Scott. I just play him on TV. Say your goodbyes, but leave me out of it. Tell Mags Charles died peacefully if he asks. It was a long time coming."
"I know. I'm gonna lose Eric soon." She grimaced. "How are you, Remy? Honestly?"
"I promised Jean a year before I try to kill myself again." Remy shrugged. "Jono's been playing nurse."
//Ya wish, pet.//
Remy grinned at the young man. "Goodbye, Rogue."
"You've been leadin' the team?"
"Goodbye." Remy went back to his cards.
Jubilee took Rogue's arm. "Come on. Let's go."
"I ain't leavin' without answers. Why didn't anyone tell me Scott died?"
"Because you weren't accepting calls from us then. In fact, your exact words were 'I don't give a fuck if someone's dyin', never call me again. I'm off the team.' Then you slammed the phone down in my ear," Remy replied.
Rogue stared. "That was five years ago."
"I've got a good memory. Especially for you."
"So you got the lead." Rogue frowned. "Was it the hair? Or did you flirt your way in? Wasn't screwing Hank and Bobby enough for you?"
"It was Scott's choice, not mine. Go away. You're off the team, remember?"
"Get out, Rogue," Jubilee said firmly. "And get over yourself."
"Logan should teach yah manners, Lee."
"No, bitch, someone should teach you class. Don't dis the leader, even if he is your ex."
"Rogue?" Eric Lehnsherr said quietly. "What's going on? Hello, Gambit, I heard you were ill?"
"Getting better. How's William?"
"Doing well. Have you considered the commission I offered?"
"We'll have to see if Henri thinks I'm allowed out of the house."
"Very well. It will keep. Call me when you've decided."
"Come, Rogue, let's give Jean our condolences and go pick William up."
Rogue resisted for a moment. "Goodbye, sugah."
Jubilee watched Remy as he chopped the vegetables and started dinner. "It's been awhile since I've had Cajun. I don't know if my mouth can handle it."
"Jeannie always cut the Cheyenne in half. Won't they be surprised tonight?"
"You can drop the Scott-accent, Remy."
"I'm sorry, chere, it's stuck. Wouldn't want to disappoint my fans. I'm retiring though, Jubes. It's time for Cyclops to stand down."
"What? You checking out on me?"
"No, well, I promised Jeannie a year and she's got a good nine months left. I'm just tired. We're where Scott wanted us to be. He wanted to be the one to train you. He wanted Bobby and you in charge. Storm's already doing most of the business. Maybe I'll stay on as a t'ief."
Jubilee's brows rose. "Ti'ef? Thought the Scott accent was ingrained."
Remy smirked. "I've got the man on tape. 'T'ief' is was and 't'ief' it is. Swore up and down my accent was just an infection and all he needed was antibiotics. Hank never did cough them up." Remy's frown was so much like Scott's that Jubilee knew it was a direct quote.
"So, tell me, Mr. Retiring Super-Leader, what are you going to do about Logan?"
Remy was quiet for a very long time. "Put him on Robert's team and forget about him. He's a jealous asshole."
"He loves you."
"I don't care if he was thinking of me when he fucked his bitch or if he rolled over and begged for it. I don't want to see him, to talk to him, or think about him. I want him to stop touching me. I want him to stop flirting with em. And I want him to stop calling me 'Cyke' because that's the fucking name he called out when he came!"
Jubilee froze. She cleared her throat. "And you never though that becoming Cyclops might, I don't know, trigger some shit?"
"I didn't think he'd come back," Remy admitted with a rueful smile. "It should never have been an issue." He sighed. "Be useful and get me the cream."
"Sure. I take it that this topic is closed?" Jubilee still wanted to pursue it. Both of the men were important to her. She almost wished they'd get together.
"It was closed years ago. Then, the fucker came back. He should've had the decency to die." Remy stopped for a moment, griping the counter. "You know what's the worst part? I'm being a petty, jealous brat. When, when it became clear Logan weren't gonna make it back, Scott broke. There was nothing more he could do to make himself live. He left a message and I ain't passed it on yet." Remy laughed.
"That don't sound like you, bub. Not Cyke and not Gumbo."
"Like I said, I'm being a bitch." He dumped the onions into the pot. "I'm just bitter. Besides, once I tell him, he'll be gone."
Jubilee sat up straight. "What?"
"It's the last thing Scott ever asked me to do. At least the last that's not in a password protected file he conveniently didn't give me the code to. I've just got this little fear that if I tell, I'll lose Scotty forever."
There were tears on Remy's cheeks. He ignored them. Jubilee shook the com-link Jean always kept up. //What is it?//
//Remy needs you. He can't yell and scream in front of me and that's what he really wants to do. He's crying, Red. It's going to make the gumbo too salty.//
Jean pushed into the kitchen. She turned Remy to face her and kissed him soundly. They never went beyond a kiss. Not in ten years. It would be no different than Logan using him to fill in for Scott. Jubilee cleared out.
//Sorry, Jeannie. Jus' scarin' m'self.//
//Thinkin' about Scotty. About letting him go. It's time.//
//Oh, sweetie, he loved you to pieces. You can keep him as long as you need to.//
//No, Cyclops is retiring. It's time to let him rest, let the ghosts sleep. I've been trying not to be Remy for so long. I've been trying to do him proud.//
//And you have.//
//He left a message for Logan.//
//And you haven't told him yet?//
//Non.// Remy pulled back from their kiss. He let Jean hold him close though. They rocked gently. Jean stirred the soup with practiced ease. Her TK meant that she didn't even have to let go. She tangled her fingers in his hair. It had strands of gray in it now and it scared her to see Remy aging. Somewhere deep in her mind she still saw him as the cocky twenty year old thief with a Devil-may-care smile the he'd been when they met. He wasn't that boy anymore and she couldn't seem to remember that.
//It's okay, baby. He won't go away. He's in your heart. I'm still here. Hank's here. Bobby's here.//
//But Scott's gone.//
//He's been gone for two years, sweetie. He's part of this team alive or dead. It's okay.//
//I'm also bein' a brat for no good reason.//
//I want to hurt him so bad, Jean. But, merde, it's not like forgetting to tell him is hurting him.//
//No, it isn't.// Jean's grip never loosened. She'd let Remy hide in her arms for as long as he needed. She had nothing to do and nowhere to go.
Logan stepped into the kitchen and froze. It was like seeing a ghost. If the Cajun spices hadn't been floating in the air, it could've been Scott and Jean any number of times.
Remy pulled away. "Logan, grab a beer. I'll be okay on my own, Jean. Logan here'll make sure I don't break my word."
"Yer word on what?" Logan sat down at the table - beer in hand.
"Make sure I don't kill myself before my year is up. I promised Jean a year from Charles' death."
Logan blinked. "And ya want me to referee fer a few? Yeah, I'll baby-sit the brat. Kid and I need to talk anyway."
"Don't burn the gumbo, Remy. Logan, be kind."
Logan snorted. Remy's eyes flickered towards his face - automatically judging the man's mood. Logan felt a sharp pang in his chest. God, did the kid really believe he'd smack him around again? A cold knot filled Logan's chest and a taste of ashes filled his mouth. Of course Remy did. "I'll behave, Darlin'."
//Be careful, Logan. He's incredibly fragile.//
//Told ya I'll behave.//
Jean left them alone. Remy ran a hand through his hair. Logan knew he was nervous, so he stayed quiet. Eventually, Remy spoke. "Scott left a message for you. I'm going to quote him exactly."
Remy closed his eyes, pulling up the memory. "'I always loved you, Logan, despite the fact that you were always sniffing around Jean. Take care of her, Logan. Remember me and fight the good fight. I'm sorry. I never meant to leave without saying goodbye.' He started crying then. The pain was too much and when the meds wore off he couldn't remember that you were gone."
Remy turned back to his preparations. He picked up the knife, but his fingers opened before he got it into position. He stared at it accusingly. He reached for it again, but couldn't make himself touch it. Logan could smell the panic. "Computer, locate Phoenix, open com channel."
"What is it, Remy?"
"Can you come to the kitchen. I need a hand."
"Sure. Give me five."
"Of course." The channel closed.
"What's wrong, kiddo?" Logan approached carefully. He touched the younger man's arm.
"Don't touch me!"
Logan pulled back his tingling hand. It felt like a burn. He stared as Remy started to glow. The Cajun curled up into a ball on the floor. He rocked. "Oh, Bon Dieu. Call Henri, Logan."
Jubilee and Jono made it to the room first. Jono wrapped his arms around the Cajun, holding on. He didn't feel pain from his touches, but there was a new wound, or rather a still raw one in Remy's mind and *that* Jono felt clearly. //Get out, Logan. Yer triggering him, mate.//
Jubilee was drawing a needleful of liquid. She wasn't as delicate about injecting him as Hank was, but it was quick and effective. Remy trembled in Jono's grip as the hypnotic took effect. His eyes stared forward. The glow faded though. //That's right, pet, I've got you. Yer not gonna hurt anyone.//
Jean stopped just inside the door. She felt tears on her lashes. //Jono?//
//Panic attack and power spike. Get Logan to shove off.//
"I'm here, Remy."
"Weren't tryin' t' hurt myself. Just tryin' to fix the shrimp. Couldn't hold the knife. Freaked out."
"I'll take care of dinner. Jubilee and Jono will take you to visit Hank."
"Bobby." Remy said firmly.
"He's in the lab too, honey."
"Tell Logan he's on Bobby's team and if he causes trouble I'm gonna get Cable t' shoot him."
Logan grinned. "Get some rest, Darlin'."
"Don't 'darlin' me y' Canadian dog. Still got Chat's number."
"He's losin' consciousness."
"I'll carry him," Logan offered.
Logan carried the young man cradled in his arms. Remy curled around him, sleepy, open. "Sorry, Logan, so sorry. Wish I could love you again," he whispered. "but m' heart is dead. Been dead for years."
"I still love ya, Cajun. Always will. Sleep well, darlin'." Logan settled his ex into the bed Hank had ready.
"Bobby?" Remy closed his eyes.
"I'm here, Babe." Bobby stroked Remy's bangs.
"Logan's your problem now. He's on your team permanently. Don't kill him."
"I told you, I just want to freeze off his cock."
"Be good, Robert."
"Why? I thought you liked me evil? Wicked at least?"
"Wicked mebbe. Y' got a dirty imagination."
"But fun. Okay, everyone out. Rems needs to sleep. He needs his rest to keep up with me and Hank."
Logan watched Remy for a moment. "Ya hurt him, I'll kill ya, Drake."
Bobby's eyes went ice-flat. "Don't threaten me, Wolverine. Now, get out."
Remy leaned back in Scott's chair. No matter how long he'd been using the office, it was still Scott's to him. He stared at the cheerful yellow disc that said "Here, Gumbo, open me after Scott dies." He sighed. "Cerebro, Cyclops work mix 1 - half volume office only." He closed his eyes. Both of the teams were out. Hank was in the lab - prepped for possible injuries. All Remy had to do was wait. He snarled at the disc. It was an affront to his talents that he couldn't crack the password. Suddenly, his ears pricked to the lyrics of the song. "King of the 40 thieves and I'm here to represent/ the needle in the vein of the establishment/ I'm the patron saint of denial/ with an angel face and a taste for suicidal."
"Y' didn't?" Remy put the disc in and tried to open the files. "Cerebro - name of previous song?"
Remy tried four variations before it took. He opened the letter.
"Hey, Remy, guess you finally actually listened to the words of the song. Ain't I a bitch? It just seemed to fit you so well. It's hard to type for very long, so I'll keep it short and sweet. You know I love you. I want you to live. There's a reason why I said no when you offered your body to me. I haven't wanted to live for a year. I know that probably isn't all that helpful because I don't know how long I'm going to last after I write this.
"I stopped wanting to live after this thing hit badly enough that I couldn't trust my own judgment at all. I actively wished for death when I became bed-ridden. There you go - the selfish truth. I couldn't live anymore. I'm sorry I hit you. I'm sorry I never told you.
"I'll be waiting for you, kiddo. Who knows, maybe the powers that be will let me watch over you. See you wherever we end up.
Remy touched the screen. He pulled his knees up to his chest and let the tears run down his cheeks. "Don't you dare leave me here alone, Scotty. I'll pray if I got to. Just don't leave me." He put his forehead on his knees. Sometimes he could smell Scott's cologne with the cinnamon undertone that seemed to underlay it. "If you leave, I'll have to die," he threatened in a whisper.
Jean smiled at Remy. "Going out?"
"Oui." The Cajun was in jeans and a tee-shirt that said "you know you want me" on the front. He kissed her on the cheek. "By the way, Jean, our deal ran out today."
The door closed behind him Jean stared after him for a long time.