It was fuckin' freezing. That's all that was going through the mind of a young thief on a cold winter's night in the mountains of Northwest Canada… The moon shone radiantly, and reflected off of the snow to brightly illuminate the forest… It was so incredibly quiet, as a young soul crept up onto the ridge overlooking a concrete building that sat nestled down in the snow covered woods…

His name was Remy LeBeau, or Gambit… He was a Master Thief… He was a mutant. But the first thing one would recognize upon seeing him was that he was a young, slender, athletic child. At fifteen, Remy was very accomplished, and quiet full of himself. So much so, that he had taken to narrating his current adventure (aka, job) with an internal monologue…

'Mon pere always tells me, first rule of bein' a t'ief, be prepared fo' anyt'ing…' Remy thought to himself as he looked over the facility. Then with a snort, he followed that up with 'Easier said dan done… Don't get no weather like dis in N'awleans… When I get home, first t'ing I gonna do is steal me a coat!' He stood and rubbed his upper arms, briskly. '… maybe somet'in' long an' stylish…'

He crept closer to the ridge, and peered down. 'But dat can wait… right now, got me a job t' do…' He watched the guards patrolling. 'Don't t'ink any o' dese jokers are gon' make it too easy…' He smirked to himself and drew a couple of cards, charging them up… he was pleased at how much he had improved at controlling his mutant powers that had just begun to emerged in the last year or so…

'Lucky yer ol' pal Gambit got a few Aces up his sleeve…' he chuckled happily to himelf, then turned and looked up the hill at a stand of trees.

"Laissez les bons temp roulez!" He declared softly, flinging the cards, and then silently counting down to the impact…

'Troi… deux… un…'

BOOM!

He grinned and spun back around, watching the guards whirl and look up at the strange explosion, and then hurry to find it. 'Easy t' cause a distraction whehn you can detonate anyt'in y' touch, non?' He thought happily. When they passed, he darted down the hill, a cheeky grin on his young face as he dropped to his knees before the door labeled 'MAINTENANCE'.

'But it ain't my powers dat got me dis gig…' He monologue, breaking out his lock pick and getting to work. 'It's my ot'er more sublte skills…' He had the door open in seconds and slipped inside, stealing down the corridor. He tucked himself into shadows as two men passed. One was a man with a beard and a lab coat, and the other was tall, bald, and cruel looking.

'T'ieves…' Remy thought to himself, feeling quick cocky and sure of himself, as any fifteen year old boy would… 'Dey all over de place. Even some in Canada, I s'pose... Though dey ain't got much t' be stealin' way out here… But you lookin' fo' de best in de world?' Pride welled up in his young chest, along with a swell of arrogance. 'Y' come t' N'awleans an' talk t' d' T'ieves Guild.'

He darted down the hall, a grin on his face, even as he checked his little map that he had been given. 'Dey sure t' get y' what y' want, no questions asked. If y' willin' t' pay de price—like our most recent client—den you get de best o' de best…'

He darted around the corner and skidded to a stop, looking over the laser grid before him with a grin. 'Y' get Jean Luc LeBeau's favorite son.' He thought to himself, before throwing himself forwards into a series of impressive acrobatic gymnastics down the hall, neatly evading every beam and landing lightly at the end, a smirk of confidence on his young face. 'Y' get de pride of de Guild.' He sauntered up to the door labeled 'BIO STORAGE: ACCESS RESTRICTED' over the Biohazard symbol. He pulled a lock pick and gave it a charge, then stuck it into the lock, as this one would not be picked…

'Y' get Le Diable Blanc…' He continued his internal monologue, even as he darted back a few feet and waited for the little PAF! Of the lock blowing.

'Y' get ME…' He concluded, and then, preening a bit, he thought 'An' cher, I'm worth every penny…'

He sashayed up to the door and pushed it open. 'An' what do I get fo' all my hard work?' He stepped into the room and closed the door behind him, then lifted his eyes… and froze. 'Seems I just get way in ove' my head, like usual!'

His eyes widened as he took in the sight of the contents of the room…

"Mon Dieu…" He breathed, feeling his gut congeal.

'Remy Etienne LeBeau… what y' got yo'self mixed up in dis time?' Shaking his head slightly in disbelief, he took in the sight of the large glass canisters, filled with a strange reddish fluid. And suspended in the fluid were… mutants. Grotesque, twisted… He could tell that they were not in a natural state… something had been DONE to them… 'Thought dis was jus' another routine heist…' Remy's mind struggled to wrap itself around the truth of what he was seeing. 'Sneak into some secret gov'ment facility, find an' old diary, an' return it to de client. Nothin' too fancy-like. But no one said anyt'in' 'bout dis…'

He approached one of the canisters. Most seemed to be asleep, but one was not… the shape seemed to turn, and look at him, and then drifted down, close to the glass… close to Remy.

'Look at dese poor souls…' Remy thought to himself, all his earlier bravado gone, and replaced by pity, and sadness. 'De pain dey mus' be feelin'…' He realized, raising a hand and pressing it to the glass. The poor wretch within the canister raised its own hand, and pressed it to the glass against where Remy's hand was, eyes begging the Boy Thief to help it…

Remy recoiled as his shields wavered and his empathy caught a flash of the creature's desperation, and pain…

'… It just ain't right!' He cried internally, shaking his head. 'Belladonna ain't NEVER gon' believe me when I tell her 'bout—' But that was as far as he got. Still shaken, he hadn't been paying attention as he continued to back away, and he bumped into an equipment rack… it fell, and brought down several other large pieces of equipment with it, in loud, crashes and clangs…

'Now y' gone an' done it, homme. Lost your focus an' landed yo'self in a heap o' trouble.'

He whirled when he heard a shout, "Sounds like it came from BioStoage!"

'Be lucky if y' don't end up in a tube like yo' new friends…' Rey scolded himself. 'Bein' a t'ief, lyin' is a big part o' my job… but no use lyin' to myself. Not no more…' He turned and faced the two security guards that had come running into the room.

"ON THE FLOOR, NOW!" One of them barked, and Remy admitted to himself, 'I'm still too young fo' an assignment like dis. I knew it. So did Papa… But de client, he requested ME fo' some reason… an' I had t' go act like a Big Man an' convince everyone I was ready.'

He backed up against the nearest canister as the other snapped out, "You are trespassing in a restricted government—"

"Come now, mes amis…" Remy interrupted, putting on a charming smile and pulling some playing cards out. "… How 'bout you jus' walk away b'fore anyone get hurt?"

The two men responded by drawing… oh hell… were those cattle prods?

"Shoulda taken your own advice, kid."

Remy felt his heart drop. 'Only t'ing I'm ready fo' is a whuppin'…' He lamented, and then scolded himself, 'Gon' take a miracle t' save y' now, child…'

And then, suddenly… lights were flashing and alarms were blaring. Remy blinked in surprise.

'… An' fo' once, de angels seem t' be smilin' down on you…'

And then a voice came crackling over the speakers. "All security at Zone Two! Weapon X has escaped!"

Remy watched the guards go pale right before his eyes. "WEAPON X?!" One of them blurted, and the other choked out "Not good!" And as they ran from the room, Remy followed behind. They charged down the hall and Remy's eyes widened when he saw a large shadow against the far wall… something monstrous and hairy, with… claws…

'Though I ain't never seen an angel who look like dat…' He gasped to himself. 'Maybe we t'ieves get our help from somewhere else…' He turned back to the room and finally laid his eyes on the desk in the corner that he had neglected to see when he had fist walked in. 'Don't matter none. Angel o' Demon, he's given me de chance I need t' finish de job I came t' do.'

He opened the desk drawer, and there it sat. 'Diary of Nathaniel Essex'. He seized the book and ran like hell.

'No use bein' all silent an' sneaky on de way out…' He told himself as he tore down the hall. He barely glanced down the corridor where chaos reigned, and he shuddered at the brief glimpse of a monster, filling the hall with blood and guts and…

'De screams will cover m' tracks jus' fine…' He thought, forcing himself to focus on his escape. He burst out into the snow, and ran, thinking 'An' even after I' free an' clear, I can still hear 'em echoin' in m' head… Maybe T'ieves don't exactly do de Lord's work, but dat place must be run by de Devil himself…' He paused halfway up the hill to glance back at that hellish place, and gasped at the sudden fiery explosion that decimated a whole corner of the facility.

"Merde…" He shook his head in amazement, then he looked down at the book in his hands. 'If dis book has anythin' t' do wit' what goes on in dere…' He opened it and grit his teeth at what he saw. 'Well den, maybe it deserves t' burn too…'

He flipped through it. The drawings were horrific… And he knew that this book had a LOT to do with what was going on in that place. Without hesitating, he filled the book with his charge and tossed it aside before scurrying up the hill, hearing it explode behind him…

'Jus' gon' hafta tell de client dat it wasn't dere…' He thought to himself. 'He sure as hell neve' mentioned a t'ing 'bout what be goin' on out here… dis place be—'

That was as far as his thoughts got. He whirled when he heard the sound of something approaching, but he couldn't have been prepared for what was now standing before him. His heart froze in his thin chest.

"… Weapon X…" He breathed, eyes widening in fear.

The beast was about his height, but he easily outweighed the fifteen year old Remy LeBeau by nearly a hundred pounds… His muscle mass was incredible, but the most frightening things were the gleaming metal claws on each hand, smeared with blood… The beast set his golden eyes upon him and a loud growl emanated from his broad chest.

Remy stared, eyes wide, as the monster from the facility bore down upon him. He gasped, stumbling backwards and then falling into the snow. And then he just lay there, and waited for those claws to open his body to the freezing air.

The boy let out a cry, curling his arms up and turning his head away, shutting his eyes tightly as he waited for the pain.

But it never came. He could hear the low huffs of breath, like a bellows over him… But that was all. Slowly, he lowered his arms and peeked up.

Weapon X stood over him, naked save for the blood soaking him, and the wires wrapping around his body. Those golden eyes were fixed upon the young Cajun. Remy whimpered in fright when the beast leaned in, nostrils flaring as he sniffed him over. And then they were nose to nose… The man… the beast… whatever he was, let out a low "whuff", and then turned and ambled away through the snow… and then he was gone.

Remy stared after him, shocked. He was alive. The creature, Weapon X, hadn't touched him. He was gone… and Remy was unharmed. And as far as he was concerned, he was damned lucky that he hadn't soiled himself. He had never been so frightened…

"Woo!" He gasped, letting his head fall back into the snow as he stared at the fading stars in utter relief, then turned and looked at the pink smudged across the sky as the sun began to rise. He waited a few moments for his body to stop shaking. But then he heard it… voices… damn.

"Merde…" He breathed, forcing himself to his feet. He had lingered too long… Weapon X's pursuers were upon him. He turned and darted for the trees, careful to place every step in the prints from Weapon X, hoping to hide his escape route. He was almost at the trees when the shout went up; he had been spotted! Remy lunged for the shadows of the woods, but it was too late. He heard the shot and then cried out at the sting in his back as he pitched forwards and landed facedown in the snow.

He felt the drug spreading through his body and he writhed at the burning sensation that came with it. No, oh no no no… God knew what it was… and how he would react to it. His body NEVER reacted to medications in normal ways… And this one felt… BAD. He felt his heart in his throat when he heard the men surround him.

"He was in the facility! Broke in!" One man blurted.

"Did HE free Weapon X?" Another demanded to know.

"Maybe… Weapon X broke free right after we found the kid in BioStorage…" The first voice said again.

Remy wanted to speak, but his throat had tightened. His vision was blurred, and then his body seized up as he heaved and vomited.

"Shit…" One of the men swore, and a hand gripped his shoulder and rolled him onto his back. He vaguely made out the shapes of seven men standing over him, and then his eyes rolled back into his head. The last thing he remembered was a distant voice declaring "He's seizing! We gotta get him back, fast!"

And then it was all darkness…

When he came back to himself, he was staring up at a metal ceiling, and flinched at the bright lights.

"I think we've stopped the reaction." He heard a voice say, and then he registered the sound of a heart monitor beyond the voices floating around him.

"Where did he come from?"

"No idea…"

"He's just a kid… fifteen? Sixteen?"

"He's a mutant…"

"He is…"

Remy tried to speak once more, but was only able to get out a thin whine.

"Where is he?!" A new voice barked then, and one of the original speakers yelped. Then there was a face hanging over Remy, furious eyes glaring down at him.

"Who are you?!" The man snapped, and Remy winced as his weakened shields were battered by the man's anger. "What are you doing here?! Where is Weapon X?!"

Remy just whined again, unable to find his voice… Whatever he had been drugged with was really messing him up.

"Sir, what are you—"

"Shut up!" Snapped the angry man, who had disappeared. "I'm getting answers." The lights flared up and Remy cried out, eyes slamming shut as he turned his head and weakly lifted his arms, mimicking the pose he had taken when he cowered beneath Weapon X. But then rough hands were grabbing his wrists and forcing them down, and then he was strapped down. Only then did he register the cold, hard metal that he was lying upon, and then, even worse, his own nudity. Then he was trapped… bands on his wrists, ankles, and over his hips and chest were holding him down tightly, and the table was tilting up, bringing him almost vertical.

"Jesus, he's a kid!" Remy heard someone gasp, and the angry man snapped "He's a trespasser on government property and he let Weapon X loose. I want to know who he is, who sent him, where Weapon X is going… And he's going to tell me… whether he wants to or not."

Remy strained against his bonds, but he was still just so weak. And he was so very, very frightened…

"S'il vous plait… non…" He begged, his head still swimming. "Laissez-moi passer! Aide moi!"

Remy gasped at the rough hand in his hair, and then he was blinking blearily into cruel brown eyes.

"Who are you…?" The man growled. Remy thrashed, but his movements were feeble…

And then he gasped as a hand struck him in the face, whipping his head to the side. "WHO ARE YOU?!"

Remy sobbed softly, and forced himself to focus. And what he saw made his blood run cold… the angry man was approaching with what looked like a cattle prod. Remy's eyes widened and he struggled.

"Non… Non! S'il vou plait non!" He cried, shaking his head even as tears flooded down his cheeks. "PAPA! AAAAAAAHHG!" He arched his back with a scream as he was jabbed in the side, and the pain flooded his young body.

When it disappeared he sagged into his restraints, sobbing brokenly as he hung there, limp and trembling.

"Who are you…" Came the furious growl.

Remy's breath hitched and he cried out as the cattle prod came near his exposed belly.

"Gambit!" He cried, trying to focus his eyes on the man, but the bright lights sent stabbing pain into his skull. "Called Gambit, me!" The cattle prod withdrew, and Remy sagged again, panting. "Don't… don't know nuthin' 'bout no Weapon X!" He blurted, desperately. "Jus' a thief, me! Came fo' a diary! Dat's it!"

"Liar…" The man growled, and Remy shrieked as he was jabbed with the cattle prod again.

When the pain stopped, he heard a man saying "just bit and pieces left, but it WAS a book. His were the only footprints in the snow through there…"

The book… so, they had found Essex's destroyed journal in the snow…

"You were sent here for a diary?" The man was demanding now, glaring at Remy. "Why would a THIEF be sent to DESTROY something like that… and not recover it…"

Remy's eyes widened when the man drew closer. "… You were sent to recover it, weren't you?" Remy didn't answer. "But you destroyed it instead… Who sent you…?"

Remy averted his eyes, and didn't see the man's eyes flash. But he felt the rage flare up, only a split second before the cattle prod was shoved into his chest. "WHO SENT YOU?!"

Remy couldn't answer past his own screaming…

When he next came to his senses, he was lying flat again and crying out as a light was being shone into his sensitive eyes. Several men were working around him. He gasped and let out a whimper when he felt the sharp pinch of a needle in his arm, and then cried out when a hand gripped his penis. Fear ripped through him and he struggled, but he was still restrained. He could only cry as he felt something—a urinary catheter—being inserted into him, and then his bladder was draining, which was a disconcerting sensation. He became aware then of the raw, uncomfortable feeling from his rectal area, and he could only conclude that he had been… medically emptied and irrigated… He whimpered again as something was stuck into his ear and someone said "temperature is ninety eight point two..." and then there was a cold disk on his chest as his heart and lungs were listened too, very closely.

"I want a tissue sample." He heard a man demand, and then there was a burning sting on his thigh, and he felt a small piece of flesh being cut away. He cried, and then screamed once more when a firm gloved hand gripped his testicles firmly, and the sharp pain of a needle being stabbed in... A few minutes later and it was withdrawn and he was released. "Here is the semen sample." He heard someone say and he shuddered, feeling horribly horribly violated. Then his jaw was pinched and his mouth was forced open, and a few cheek swabs were taken, and he heard the snip of scissors and the "Here's the hair."

Dear God, what were they doing to him?!

Having his stomach pumped was not a pleasant sensation, but he was unable to do a thing to stop it… he felt incredibly sick, and his body was aching. He wept helplessly as lines and needles and sensors were placed and prepared, and then the cruel man was filling his vision again.

"We will continue our discussion…" He spat, "at a later date. For now, you're going into storage until this mess is cleared up." Remy blinked slowly, and barely made a sound when hands gripped his head and forced his mouth open. He thrashed and gagged as the tracheal tube was slid down his throat and a mask was put into place, pinching his nose closed.

His restraints were gone and he tried to move… he couldn't. His body was being moved then, and his feet were lowered into a warm, thick, syrup… Then he let out a shocked sound as the ventilator began to work, and the simple task of breathing was stolen away from him… his lungs filled to capacity, and then emptied, at the whims of a machine, and tears once again rolled down his cheeks. Then he was dropped, and he slowly sunk into the thick fluid… He vaguely heard the sound of a lid coming down and being vacuum sealed.

He looked around himself, and wanted to scream… he was in a large canister… at the end of the line of canisters that had horrified him earlier that night… His own words came back to haunt him…

'Now y' gone an' done it, homme. Lost your focus an' landed yo'self in a heap o' trouble. Be lucky if y' don't end up in a tube like yo' new friends…'

Luck wasn't with him this time, it seemed.

He felt the despair come crashing down upon him as he stared down at the men who were staring up at him, and he pressed his hands to the glass of the tube. He felt his eyes burning with tears, even as he felt that thick darkness filling him, courtesy of drugs in the IV lines… As his vision went dark and his body went limp and floated, fifteen year old Remy LeBeau's last thought was to wonder… would he ever open his eyes again…?

There was no moon that night. No light to betray the presence of seven men up on a ridge, staring down at the facility that rested silently in the snow… a heavily damaged facility…

At the head of the group was a desperate father, barely keeping his anxiety locked down. Jean Luc LeBeau stared down at the building that he had sent his son into, on a job that he hadn't come home from…

Two weeks. Remy should have returned two weeks ago, at the absolute latest… And that building had been intact, when they had been shown pictures of it… Dear God… what had happened? Had Remy been there when the damage was done? Was Remy… responsible for it? What had HAPPENED here?!

"Never shoulda sent him, me…" He breathed, his words misting on the air.

"Dr. Essex requested him special, boss…" Reminded one of the men behind him… his most trusted men… the best Thieves in the Guild.

"If I can't bring m' son home alive…" Jean Luc argued, "I will regret my decision fo' de rest o' m' life…"

"We'll bring 'im home, Papa…" Henri LeBeau assured his father, though he was worried sick for his little brother…

"If he even be here…" Jean Luc growled. "Let's go…"

Like shadows, the thieves swept down upon the facility.

Guards were minimal. They slipped in with ease. And they had walked into a horror scene… there was destruction, everywhere… fires had burned… walls had crumbled, ceilings had caved in… there had been explosions… and there were odd marks, everywhere. Slashes, in a consistent set of three, in walls, floors, cielings… in metal and concrete both. And the blood… dear God, the blood was just everywhere…

"Turn it on…" Jean Luc commanded, and one of his Lieutenants pulled out a small device and flipped it on. There was a soft ping.

"He's here, boss…" The man whispered in the dark. "O', at least his GPS tracker is…"

"Lead de way…" Jean Luc commanded, and the man nodded, whispering down the corridor. The others followed. They made their way through the nearly abandoned facility, before finally coming to a stop before a door labeled as 'STORAGE'. Henri picked the lock in seconds, and they crept in. It was a dark room, lined in shelves that held secure containers. Jean Luc watched his man move to the left side of the room.

"Here." He said, stopping at a locked box the size and shape of a briefcase. Henri seized it and picked the locks quickly, and with a click, the lid was opened.

Jean Luc barely registered the wounded sound he let out when he saw the contents of the box…

"Remy… Oh, my son… non…" He moaned, reaching out and grasping the shoulders of the black and fuschia body armor that his son wore when working… The other Thieves watched silently as Jean Luc held it tightly, tears building in his eyes, and then he hugged it to his chest. His Lieutenant went through the rest of the contents… Remy's gloves, boots, pants, headpiece and belt, with all of his tools… his GPS tracker… and the deck of cards that the young Gambit always had at hand…

"He mus' be here somewhere…" Henri whispered to the others, while gripping his father's arm. "Only makes sense dat dey take everyt'in' from him when dey caught him, oui?"

"Henri be right, boss." The Lieutenant nodded, looking at Jean Luc as he gently pried Remy's clothes from Jean Luc's fingers and tucked them back into the case, which he closed and handed off to one of the others. "Let's go find him…"

And the Thieves stole from the room and down the corridor, ready to scour every inch of the facility. It was exactly fifty seven minutes into their diligent search that they came across the room labeled 'BIO STORAGE'. When they walked in, none of them were prepared for what they saw…

"Mon Dieu…" Henri breathed as he stared at the poor souls in the containment tubes.

"Are dey alive?" One man breathed, and another approached the nearest tube, looking over the panels at its base.

"… Oui… Dese be showin' de vitals. Deliverin' sedatives an' fluids an' nutrients, it seems… Dey be alive…"

"We ain't here f' dem…" Jean Luc gasped, slowly making his way down the line of capsules. "We only come fo'… oh… oh, mon Dieu… Remy!" The man broke into a sprint down to the end of the row, skidding to a stop before the last full canister, and there, he stared up at his son, floating gently in the suspension… The others were quick to join him.

"Mon frere…" Henri breathed. "What dey done t' him?!"

The mutants in the other tubes were fully grown adults… but Remy… he was only fifteen… he looked incredibly small within his prison. His naked body was wrapped in tubes and wires… needles bit into the flesh of his wrists, the inside of his elbows, and even in his neck, and a urinary catheter line ran from his penis. Sensors lay on virtually every major muscle group… his shoulder and biceps, his chest, lined down his abdominal and oblique muscles, on the tops and insides of his thighs, and on either side of his calves… Up his spine, on his neck, and pressed to his temples. Other sensors were clipped to several of his fingers. The lower half of his face was obscured by the mask over it that kept him breathing, his thin muscled chest slowly expanding and contracting under the sharp eyes of the thieves. His long hair swayed gently in the thick fluid that he was suspended in, and his eyes were closed, long lashes resting on his high cheekbones.

Jean Luc raised a hand, pressing it to the glass as he gazed up at his son. The canister was warm, and for some reason, he took comfort in this… at least his boy was warm.

"Get 'im out." He gasped.

"Will do, boss…" Said one of the thieves, looking over the control panel. "His vitals be slow, but dey be strong. Gon' do dis careful…"

"Tell me." Jean Luc commanded, eyes still locked on his child's inert form.

"Alrigh'… stoppin' all administration… fluids, medications, everyt'ing…" The man narrated as he worked. "Unsealing…" There was a loud hiss as the vacuum seal broke. "Draining…" A moment later, and there was a soft whirr and grates opened at the bottom of the capsule. The thieves watched as the thick syrup began to drain, and Remy's body drifted down with it. His toes touched the bottom and then his knees collapsed beneath him in slow motion… his body sagged to the side and he was resting on his hip, his shoulder and cheek up against the side of the canister, and then he sunk down to rest curled up on the floor of his prison, limp and motionless.

Henri and two of the other thieves turned when lights went up behind them. There was a metal grate platform over a tank.

"We wash him off in dere?" Asked one of the men, and he and his companion went to investigate, while Henri stayed by Jean Luc.

"Opening." Said Jean Luc's man, and with another loud hiss, the glass tube rose out of the base, and Remy was left sprawled out, body coated in the reddish stuff he had been suspended in.

Jean Luc leapt up onto the platform, heedless of the stuff as he knelt and pushed the boy's hair out of his face.

"Remy?!" He called, desperately. The boy gave no response.

"Easy, boss…" Said his Lieutentant, he and Henri scrambling up to join Jean Luc around Remy's helpless body. "Carefully…" And he began to remove the sensors from Remy's body, even as one of the others shut down all the equipment, so that no alarms would sound. Then he was carefully pulling out needles, ignoring the small trickles of blood. Jean Luc cringed and turned away in fury when, with clinical hands, his Lieutenant drew out the urinary catheter.

Then he turned and looked at the mask on Remy's face.

"What is it?" Jean Luc asked at the man's hesitation.

"Gotta make sure de boy can breathe on 'is own, boss…" The man said. "Get 'im on 'is back." Henri and Jean Luc did so, though it was hard to get a grip on the young teen's body, slick with that reddish slime as it was.

"Alrigh'… come on, Remy…" The Lieutenant breathed as he looked over the tracheal tube. "Breathe fo' us, kid…" And he left the mask on, ran his hands down the eighteen inches of plastic tubing, and then disconnected it from the next tube at the end of Remy's machine-induced exhale.

For a long moment, Remy's body was still as death. Jean Luc leaned in, wide eyes on his son. He placed a desperate, pleading hand on the boy's chest. Remy's fingers flicked and his head twitched to the side, then his chest hitched and there was a small, strangled wheeze before he drew in a deep, shaky breath. His eyes fluttered momentarily, before falling closed again.

"Remy?" Jean Luc called, taking his son's face into his hands. There was no response, but he continued to breathe.

"Alright… we can move 'im, boss. So let's move." The Lieutenant said.

"Here!" One of the others called, and they heard a faucet being turned. One of the others was by the long glass and concrete tank.

"Need t' wash 'im off. Hard t' hold 'im, covered in dis shit…" Henri reasoned, and carefully, the seven Thieves lifted the child and carried him over to the tank, laying him on the grate and lowering it so that the boy was completely immersed in the warm water. Jean Luc stood at his son's head, using one hand to keep the short plastic tube above water so that his boy could breath, and he used the other to clean Remy's face and hair.

"Alrigh', dat's enough." He said after a few minutes. "Gotta get de hell out." And they lifted Remy out of the water. Henri had snatched one of the sheets from a shelf against the wall and accepted his brother into it, wrapping it around the lithe body, tightly. Then the Liueutenant moved in and removed the mask from Remy's face, and extubated him. Remy retched as the tube was slid out of his throat, but then went still and just breathed in raspy breaths.

Jean Luc gathered his son into his arms, wrapped him in another blanket and nodded to the others to lead the way, while Henri guarded his back; all Jean Luc had to worry about was his precious cargo.

Skilled thieves that they were, they were outside and over the ridge when they heard the alarms begin to blare, and they picked up the pace.

The journey back into town was arduous… While they knew that Remy may be incapacitated, they were not prepared for how difficult it was to keep up his body temperature, and they knew that he was reacting poorly to one of the drugs that had been in his system… Jean Luc silently admitted that they were lucky the boy was alive. There were a few times that they had to stop their snowmobiles and take turns to partially strip down and sandwich Remy's body between their own, to warm him with their body heat. Remy remained largely unresponsive, though at one point when it Jean Luc's turn to warm his son, the youth had turned his head with a little sound in his throat, nuzzling closer to his papa, who hugged him tightly, stroked his hair and talked softly into his ear.

Sneaking an unconscious teenager wrapped in blankets into a classy hotel in Vancouver wasn't hard for the Master Thieves. Once in Jean Luc's Penthouse Suite, the seven men got to work. A warm bath was run and Remy was set into it, and bathed properly this time, even as they used the warm water to bring up his temperature, which was bordering on hypothermia. As the others washed their Prince, Jean Luc tried to wake him, but though he was beginning to show more signs of life, Remy didn't wake until he had been dried and tucked into bed.

Waking was a slow, agonizing process… from when Remy first began to show signs, it was nearly two hours before he finally opened his eyes. The seven men hung over him, anxiously, and Henri quickly dimmed the lights. Remy's eyes were glazed and the pupils were dilated wide.

"… Hnnnh?" He moaned, sounding distressed. His body twitched as he tried to move, and his eyes rolled to the side.

"Remy?" Jean Luc called, reaching out and stroking his son's damp hair.

Remy blinked at him, blearily.

"Can' y' understand us, mon frere?" Henri asked, settling down at Remy's other side.

"… Nnnnfff…" Remy slurred.

"Remy, mon fils…" Jean Luc murmured. "Look at me… c'mon, Remy… look at yo' papa…"

Remy struggled to focus, and his eyes slid closed as he swallowed thickly.

"… P-Papa?"

"Dat's right…" Jean Luc gasped, relief flooding through him. "Y' safe, Remy… it's alrigh'… Papa's here…"

Remy whimpered softly, and when Jean Luc took his hand, his slender fingers curled around his papa's, but his hold was weak and shaky.

"Remy? How d'you feel?" Henri asked.

"… Frere?"

"Oui…" Henri answered, gripping his little brother's other hand and gently stroking up and down his thin forearm.

"C-Cold…" Remy whined, managing to open his eyes again, though just barely. "Tired… Papa?"

"Oui?"

"… Hurts, papa…" Remy whimpered, and his breath hitched in his chest. Jean Luc's eyes widened in distress as his son whined brokenly, and tears ran down his face.

"Where, Remy?!" He gasped, wiping away his child's tears. "Where does it hurt?"

"Everywhere!" Remy cried. "B-Burns… Papa, it burns!" Sobs wracked his body, and though they were weak, so was he… within minutes, he had slipped down into the still quiet of unconsciousness once more.

"We need t' get 'im home…" Jean Luc gasped, whipping the blankets back and lifting his son into his arms. "Check us out and get de plane ready. He needs help…"

"Boss, he may not be strong enough t' make de trip!" His Leiutenant called after him.

"If he was able t' make it here on de damn snowmobiles, he can make de trip home!" Jean Luc called back over his shoulder, and the Thieves leapt to obey.

And within two hours they were on a private charter, flying from Vancouver to New Orleans.

Halfway through the flight and Remy had been overcome with a burning fever, and he thrashed weakly in his sleep, crying out in a frightened delirium… He kept begging someone not to hurt him… to stop… kept insisting that he knew nothing of something called, "Weapon X"… kept crying out that he had only come for a book… that was all… he was innocent of what he was being accused of… and then he would call for his Papa.

Jean Luc spent nearly the entire flight home cradling his boy in his arms and rocking him, trying to soothe him into some semblance of a restful sleep… And though no one said it out loud, no one needed to… There was no doubt in their minds that young Remy had been tortured.

The drive from the airport to the house was spent with Remy cradled in his father's arms, and upon arrival, the door to the house was opened to admit the man and his priceless burden.

"Someone call for Mattie Baptiste." He commanded the moment he set foot into the house, and the near two dozen of his thieves that had been waiting all caught wide eyed glimpses of their younger prince, as the elder, Henri, followed close on his father's heels, calling over his shoulder, "An' someone call de client… Tell him we deal wit' him later…"

And then they were rushing up the stairs, followed closely by Jean Luc's most trusted men.

Matte Batiste, or Tante Mattie as many of the youngsters in the Guilds called her, arrived within twenty minutes, and she flew up the stairs at a pace that was startling for the small, round woman. When she burst into Remy's bedroom, the men all made way for her to hurry to the bedside of the boy-child who was crying out once more in his fevered delirium.

"What happened?!" She demanded, laying a hand on his face as she pressed the fingers of her other hand to his left wrist, checking his pulse. "Oh, mon Dieu… he be burnin' up…" She whirled and pointed at the closest man. "YOU! Get a cold bath runnin', now!"

"He's cold!" Jean Luc protested, distressed.

"His fever be way too high… cold o' not, he gonna hafta deal wit' a cold bath. Gotta bring his temperature down quick." She snapped, whipping the blankets back and beginning to look him over, thoroughly. "Now, what happened?!"

"Don't know fo' sure…" Jean Luc admitted, stroking his son's sweat soaked hair as the boy cried out wordlessly once more, and his body began to shiver. "He was… I dunno what t' even call it… Was in a glass tank, on a respirator, wit'… tubes an' wires all over 'im… Only been awake fo' a few minutes since den, but he be screamin' in 'is sleep… dey hurt 'im… tortured 'im… don't know what drugs dey give 'im, but…"

"Dis boy can't neve' do anyt'ing de easy way…" Mattie huffed, peeling up his eyelids and then leaning over and pressing her ear to his chest to listen to his lungs. "Hmmm… well, good news, he ain't sick. Bad news, dat means dis be a reaction t' whatever drugs dey pumped 'im full of. Get 'im in de tub, boys. We gotta bring dat fever down real quick…"

And she stepped back as the thieves moved in and transferred the limp body of the teenage boy from the warm bed, into the frigid bathtub.

Remy cried out immediately and fought, screaming. His eyes snapped open, panic burning in them, but they remained glassy and unfocused. Jean Luc took his son's face in his hands and tried to soothe him, stroking his hair and talking to him as his thieves rolled up their sleeves and held the boy's thrashing limbs still.

Exhaustion quickly set in and he stopped fighting and went limp, crying softly and gasping for breath through his body's shivering, that quickly turned to full, uncontrollable tremors in the cold water. Eventually, he turned and gazed up at his papa, who was tenderly wiping away his tears.

"Papa…" He whined. "S'il t' plait… j'ai froid… j'ai si froid…"

"Je sais, Remy…" Jean Luc murmured softly. "Je suis desole… Y' got a bad fever… need t' bring it down…"

Remy didn't respond. His eyes glazed over once more as he stared off into space, whimpering as his body shook uncontrollably. Mattie moved in then, and began to check his temperature. Remy's fever was finally dropping when there was a commotion back in the boy's bedroom. Then Jean Luc's Lieutenant appeared in the doorway.

"We tried t'stop 'im, boss, but—" And then he was shoved aside.

Dr. Nathaniel Essex appeared in the doorway, his eyes immediately falling onto the teenage boy in the tub. Ignoring everyone, he strode over and knelt reaching out and place a hand to the boy's throat, closing his eyes lightly as he felt his pulse. Then, one hand rummaging in his bag, he lifted out a bag of fluids and promptly dumped it into the cold water, and then lifted a pen light, peeling back Remy's lids and shining it into his eyes. Remy cried out and recoiled, his pupils contracting down to pin pricks.

"He's photosensitive?" He asked before Jean Luc could protest. The Guild Leader just nodded.

The man checked Remy's temperature and nodded to himself, then, removing his coat and rolling up his sleeves, he lifted Remy from the tub and carried him back to the bed, calling over his shoulder, "Let the fluids sit for ten minutes, and the bring it to me."

Mattie huffed, scowling, and stalked after him. "An' jus' what y' doin, homme?" She snapped. "YOU be de reason fo' all dis!"

"I had no idea…" Essex said, his voice tense. "That the facility was actually active and in use." He looked at Jean Luc and implored him, "You must believe me… had I known, I never would have requested your son be the one to…" He trailed off and looked down at Remy, who was oh, so pale now that his fevered flush had disappeared.

"If I lose my son ove' dis…" Jean Luc growled, shaking in his rage.

"With God as my witness…" Essex said, "I will do everything in my power to make sure that you do not lose your son." And then he pulled a syringe out of his bag. "I understand he does not react well to certain medications?"

Jean Luc nodded.

"I will need as much information on that as possible, and I will need a sample of his blood to try and isolate what is in his system. I will also need to categorize every reaction he is currently having to it, so I can have some idea on how to counter act it."

"Can you?" Jean Luc demanded to know, grabbing the pen and paper one of his men handed him, and began to scribble down as much information as he could.

"Mutant Genetics is my specialty, Mr. LeBeau… If I can't, no one can."

"Bold statement, monsieur…" Mattie stated in a low tone.

"I am the leading Mutant Geneticist in the world. I simply do not advertise it as the world does not look kindly on my profession unless I am using my research and findings as a means to combat the so called 'mutant menace'. I study it out of simple academic interest… It is the next stage in human evolution, and I wish to understand it. That is all." He bowed his head and slid a needle into the vein that stood out prominently on the inside of Remy's left elbow, and he drew several vials of blood. At that point, one of the thieves handed him the bag of fluids. He placed an IV catheter and set up the administration line.

"I will return to my lab to analyze his blood. Keep the fluids cool, and they will help bring his temperature down more. I will be back as soon as I can." And he hurried from the room with his bag and the page of information that Jean Luc had written for him. No one saw his triumphant smirk as he glanced down at the vials of blood, warm in his hand…

Mattie moved in, brushing Remy's hair back from his face, even as she drew up the blankets and tucked them under his chin. Remy whimpered softly and snuggled down, cracking his eyes open.

"Tante?"

"Oui, Remy… Y' Tante be right here t' take care o' you…" She soothed, leaning down and kissing his hair. "How y' feel?"

"… Papa?"

"Right here, Remy." Jean Luc called, moving into the child's line of sight.

"Hey, Remy." Henri called softly, leaning in and giving his little brother a bit of a wave. Remy blinked up at Henri, and then smiled slightly.

"… Home?"

"Dat's right… y' home." Mattie nodded. "How y' feel, Remy?"

"Cold…"

"Ot'er dan dat."

"… tired." Remy sighed, closed his eyes again and swallowing, thickly.

"Can y' breathe alrigh'?"

"… Oui…" Remy nodded slightly, then winced. "Hurts…"

"What hurts?"

"Everyt'ing…"

"Y' joints ache?" Mattie asked.

"Non… not ache… burn."

"Where?"

"All ove', Tante…" Remy whined, turning his head as Jean Luc sat on the edge of the bed and caressed his son's hair. He opened his eyes and gazed up at his papa for a moment, and then looked around, finally noting the half dozen thieves.

"… Remy on 'is deathbed o' somet'in'?"

"O' course not…" Jean Luc was quick to say. "Dey helped bring y' home. Dey jus' worried."

"Don't t'ink m' room eve' been dis crowded…" Remy mumbled, eyes falling closed again.

"Remy…" Jean Luc sighed. "What happened?"

Remy was silent for a long time, but finally, he breathed out softly, "… Weapon X…"

"… Quoi?" Jean Luc asked, confused. Remy didn't answer. He had fallen to sleep again.

The night was long… Remy slept through, but it wasn't peaceful. There was a lot of tossing and turning, shouting out into the room as nightmares plagued him. But each and every time, he woke to his papa and tante gently shushing him, and soothing him back to sleep.

It was mid morning when Essex finally returned. He strode over to the bed and reached out, feeling Remy's forehead, and then drawing down the blankets and seeking a vein on the inside of his arm.

"Has he told you anything?" He asked.

"No…" Mattie shook her head, watching the man's every move like a hawk.

"He mentioned… Weapon X?" Jean Luc offered. Essex glanced up at him with a blank face.

"… Weapon X? What the devil is that?"

"I don't know… he didn't elaborate… Couldn't stay awake any longer. But he been talkin' in his sleep. Dey hurt him…"

"If the facility was active," Essex stated calmly, "they would have… taken samples from him. Blood, tissue, urine, semen… I doubt it would have been pleasant." He then drew a syringe from his bag. "I was able to isolate the chemicals still active in his system, that I believe are causing the reaction. This should negate their effects…" He declared, and then slid the needle into Remy's vein and slowly injected the serum. "There. Now we wait."

"How long?" Jean Luc asked.

"Thirty minutes… an hour at most." Essex stated. "He should eat something light when he wakes, and keep hydrated. I will remain until I know it is working."

And so the waiting began. The Thieves reained silent, hovering in the shadows around the perimeter of the room, eyes on their Patriarch and his two sons, Tante Mattie and the strange Dr. Essex. The latter two had positioned themselves, one on either side of Remy, and monitored him closely. Mattie would close her eyes and rest her hand on his forehead, sensing his essence, and Essex would place a stethoscope to Remy's chest and listen to his heart and lungs. Both would check his pulse regularly and murmur their findings to one another.

It was nearly an hour later that Remy cracked open his eyes.

"Remy, chil'?" Mattie called softly, leaning in. Jean Luc was immediately hovering over her, staring down at his son.

"Tante?" Remy mumbled, his throat dry.

"Get him some water." Essex murmured to no one in particular, and Henri hurried off to do so.

"Dr. Essex?" Remy asked then, looking confused.

"How do you feel?" The man queried.

"… Cold." Remy admitted.

"An' de burnin'?" Jean Luc asked. Remy blinked a couple of times.

"… Better… a lot better…" The teen said after a moment of contemplation.

"De fever's broken." Tante Mattie smiled, cupping Remy's cheek in her palm. Remy, however, turned to Essex.

"… Remy… didn't find y' book, monsieur… Je suis desole…"

"How did they catch you, my boy?" Essex asked.

"… Was… gettin' out." Remy admitted. "Somet'in' broke loose… Weapon X…"

"What is Weapon X?" Essex and Jean Luc asked in unison. Remy turned and smiled up at his Papa.

"Y' came fo' Remy…"

"O' course I did…" Jean Luc smiled back, moving to sit at his son's side and stroking his hair. "Y' my son… Y' wanna sit up?" Remy nodded, and Jean Luc helped him to sit up, and then sat beside him, his arm around the boy's thin shoulders. "What is Weapon X, Remy?"

"… A… A man. A… short hairy man, covered in wires an' wit'… wit' metal claws…" Remy breathed, eyes wide. "A mutant… he escaped an'… started… tearin' de place apart an' killin' an'… When Remy ran, he… found me."

"And?" Jean Luc asked, eyes wide.

"… He… stood ove' Remy an' stared… SMELLED me… like he was a dog… sniffin'… an' den he… turned an' walked away. Didn't hurt Remy none… But den de man chasin' 'im caught Remy. Dey took me back… t'ought I had helped Weapon X break out! Dey… dey… questioned Remy…"

"Dey hurt you." Jean Luc summed up, and Remy nodded, lowering his eyes.

"… Shocked me." The boy admitted. "Was already sick, me… from de tranq gun… was in an' out and den dey was… puttin' me in de tube an'… dat be de las' t'ing I remember…" Jean Luc hugged him tightly. "How long?"

"About two weeks…"

"Oh, merci dieu… t'ought I had been dere fo' mont's… years, even…" Remy whispered, and then looked up at Essex. "Desole, Dr. Essex."

"No, Remy." Jean Luc said immediately, and then looked at Essex. "Remy done 'zactly what y' asked, Dr. Essex… If y' book had been dere, my son woulda found it…"

Essex nodded. "Then our dealins are at an end for now, Mr. LeBeau. You'll still receive compensation for your troubles, of course. All of them. I am truly sorry." Remy looked surprised. "You got in and out… your capture was a fluke, my boy, and partly due to my own negligence in gathering the proper information for you. You did a fine job."

"Ummm… merci, monsieur…" Remy said softly, mind drifting back to his last glance at the smoldering book in the snow. "You… ain't angry dat I didn't deliver?"

"Hardly, child." Essex said, gripping his shoulder with a smile. "My old diaries may be full of invaluable information, but there are other ways that research can be recovered. I am far less interested in the past than I am in the future." And he stood, gathering his belongings. "Rest an recover, child. You will be fine. All signs point to your future being a bright one, Remy." And with a final smile and nod, Nathaniel Essex turned and walked around of the Thief Child's bedroom. "And if I play my cards right," he murmured to himself, red flashing through his eyes and a red diamond shape appearing on his forehead as he left the house, "our work together will have only just begun…" Now, he simply had to see about retrieving the LeBeau child's Genetic material samples from that Weapon X facility… he couldn't leave such valuable resources in the hands of such incompetent fools…

Back in the bedroom, Jean Luc had wrapped his arms around his son and held him tightly. "So glad y' gon' be alrigh', mon fils…"

"Merci beacoup, Papa… fo' getting' Remy outta dere…" Remy gasped softly.

"Alrigh', now…" Mattie said with a little smile. "Time fo' some soup, Remy…"

"Mais oui, Tante…" Remy nodded with a little smile.

"Is dere anyt'ing y' need, Remy?" Jean Luc asked, eyes still filled with concern. Remy furrowed his brow and thought a bit, rearranging himself in his bed a bit more in preparation to eat.

"… How 'bout pants?"

Laughter burst out of all the shadows and dark corners, where the Thieves still remained.

"Alrigh'… Everyone out!" Jean Luc called, giving his men annoyed looks.

"Ain't neve' been naked 'round dis many folk, Papa." Remy announced, cheerfully.

"Enough, Remy." Jean Luc sighed as Henri brought Remy a set of pajamas.

"I mean… know I'm hot, me, but… dis is a bit excessive!"

"Enough, Remy…"

"Should be chargin' a cover at de door, oui?"

"Enough, Remy!"

"Remy don't give no peep shows fo' free, Papa!"

"Remy!"

"Remy need t'—"

"Remy need t' hush his smart ass mout' an eat." Mattie interrupted, placing the tray table down over Remy's lap. Remy just grinned and snickered to himself, crumbling crackers into his soup, even as his Papa leaned down and kissed his hair. And then, half an hour later, Jean Luc did it again as he tucked in his son, who was now in pajamas.

"Y' rest, Remy…" The man breathed, stroking his son's hair. "Tante Mattie gon' watch ove' you… Y' need anyt'ing…"

"Oui, Papa… I know…" Remy sighed with a smile, as Mattie drew the curtains tightly closed.

"Go on, Jean Luc. Y' been up for ove' two days now… Y' boy be fine… sleep."

Jean Luc simply nodded, though he paused at the door to gaze back at his sleeping son… Finally, that panic that had been eating at him for weeks was gone… He could, indeed, finally sleep…

END