Summary: An alternate version of X-Men Unlimited #18, where we explore what could have happened after the X-Men deserted Gambit in Antarctica (written in 1998)

Disclaimer: Gambit, Sinister, and all other characters mentioned belong to Marvel Comics.


COLD HEARTED


The sun blazed off the arctic plain, painfully blinding to his light sensitive eyes. He tried to lift one frozen hand to shield the glare, lost his balance and nearly toppled. He was deathly tired after trudging through the snow for two hours straight and he knew he wouldn't last much longer. What had he expected? Alone in the Antarctic without any provisions or even warm clothing...it was a joke to think he could even survive out here. He had already survived longer than most would have.

He stopped his pace, raising his hand carefully to shield his eyes, concentrating on keeping his balance this time. It was the same everywhere he looked...the white plain stretched out for miles in every direction, unforgiving in its harshness, its pure white not tarnished by even a speck of life. With a resigned sigh, he pushed himself forward and began trudging his way through the snow again. Not as if he had much choice, after all. It was either that or lay down and die.

He chuckled bitterly at the thought, the quick exhale leaving him in a cloudy, white burst that obscured his vision for an instant before the howling wind ripped it away. He supposed that soon enough he would fall down and die, anyway. Truth be told, he wasn't sure if that might not be the best thing that could happen to him...to all of them.

He stumbled again and almost went down, tired muscles sapped of their will to move by the freezing temperatures, numbed beyond almost any sensation. The blood pumped sluggishly through his veins, despite his steady heart rate from all the hard walking, and he was beginning to feel light headed. Vainly, he wrapped his arms around his chest in an attempt to warm himself, teeth chattering incessantly as he gasped for more air. He couldn't even feel his feet anymore, and had the distinct feeling that even he survived this snowy hell, he might never feel them again. He'd never had frostbite before, but it didn't take a genius to figure out than when your feet went from freezing, to numb, to pain, to nothing, that something was severely wrong. At least they still seemed to work.

Forcing himself up from his knees, he plowed on, toward what, he didn't know. The Savage Land perhaps? A miracle? Hurrying to his death? What did he truly expect to find ahead, why did he even bother to keep moving?

So you don' have to t'ink, he snapped inwardly at his nagging thoughts. Cause if you stop, you gonna have to t'ink about what you did t' dem. Gonna have t' remember the looks on their faces...all dat pain, de look of betrayal in Rogue's emerald eyes, de rage in Angel's expression. Angrily, he tried to banish the images from his mind...but they were too fresh, too recent, like a wound that had flayed him open to the soul, baring it to the harsh elements of this environment...and he could not seem to help himself from pouring salt in it.

He stumbled for the third and final time, falling face down in the white powder that seemed to want to suck him under with its embrace.  He tried to force himself to his feet again and found his muscles had betrayed him, lying limp and useless beneath his cold flesh. So cold...he thought, eyes fluttering, straining to see beyond the wind whipping across his form. Maybe jus' rest fo' a while...

A voice in the back of his mind suddenly spoke up, fueled by terror as it began to yammer almost senselessly at him nonononowakeupwakeupifyoulayhereyoudie

He swatted at the voice mentally, trying to push it aside. Too tired, he thought. G'way.

He sank deeper within himself, the voice fading off into the background. Wanna die, he thought. Deserve t' die after what I did..for what I might've done again.

He couldn't hate them for leaving him, even though he wanted to with all his heart. They had cast him out, left him to die a slow death in a nameless place, all alone and without any love or hope left in his heart. He had been deserted, fed to the wolves, and still, he could not hate them.

She did de right thing, leavin' me like she did. It was bad enough dat I put together de Marauders...never forgave m'self for dat either. But Sinister holds his lackeys tight...no one works for Sinister ever really gets away. When he caught up wit' me in Seattle, he was talkin bout time to play de hand he dealt me...who knows what he would have wanted me to do....and who knows what I would have done.

Oh, but you know exactly what you would have done, Remy
, spoke up a sly voice from deep wihtin him. A voice that sounded suspiciously like Sinister's.

And he did know, that was the worst part. No matter how much he believed in the dream, no matter how much he loved Rogue, no matter how much he cared for the rest of the team, he would have betrayed them all in an instant. He would have had no choice. Had Remy himself had a say in it, he would've either left Sinister a long time ago, or killed himself trying. Unfortunately, the chip implanted in his brain allowed for neither action. He was bound to Sinister body and soul, til death do them part. And sweet Lord be blessed, death had finally arrived.

And Remy LeBeau, pawn and possession of Sinister, felt he had earned his rest. Whatever hell awaited him, it couldn't be worse than what he had endured here as a slave to a vicious madman, couldn't compare to the gaping hole in his heart where Rogue had once filled him with love. Nothing could be worse than his life here had been...

...unless....there were nightmares there....

His eyes snapped open in sudden fear, and his body would have trembled with the sudden adrenaline rush he felt if it could have responded. No, no dreams, he thought, beginning to truly panic for the first time. He had done some horrible things in his lifetime, and there was never a night that went by when he closed his eyes and did not see the parade of bloody, dead faces march past before him. All he had wished for in death was a peace of some sort, a rest from the crimes of his past. Even excruciating torture by the Devil himself would be a welcome change from that.

As if in answer, the Devil himself seemed to appear before Remy.

Red glowing eyes, so like his own, glared back at him through the snow filled wind, the red diamond between them the only other part of his face visible against the white background. Clothed in black and impossibly tall, he towered over his prone form with that same self-assured and arrogant stance that even Remy had bowed before.

Terror gripped him like a living thing, threatening to squeeze his heart until it burst. No! i's not s'pose to end dis way! Let me die in peace, just let me die, let me die, let me die...

Sinister leaned down and picked up the thief by the back of his jacket, lifting him up easily to dangle before the twin fires of his eyes. He studied him for a long moment in silence, and Remy's mind crept even deeper within, retreating in horror from the demon of his nightmares, the one terror he could never seem to escape or out run.

"Even unto death, you would defy me." Sinister spoke softly, almost regretfully and shook his head. To anyone who did not know him, his regret and sorrow might have even appeared genuine, but Remy knew better. He even thought for a moment, with something like relief, that Sinister might actually mean to kill him.

Sinister regarded him in silence for a moment more, then turned, draping Remy almost casually over his shoulder...like baggage...or a piece of property that was not greatly cared for. "Time to go home, my most excellent pawn, and then back to the X-Men for you, once you have recovered. There is so much more work we have yet to do."

Sinister turned his head to the side and grinned at him.

"If you like, I can change the chip just enough to make you enjoy betraying them a second time. Maybe even enough to enjoy killing them." He grew introspective then, seeming to debate the matter. "Yes, an excellent idea, indeed. Time for an upgrade, LeBeau." He smiled his chilling smile again and turned away before he could see Remy's reaction. After all, the man had little choice in the matter.

Remy stared at Sinister's profile, silent scream locked within his frozen vocals chords, frozen as the tears that tried to escape his eyes. He closed his eyes against the wind, against the world, against the truth...and the nightmares began behind them, anew.