Disclaimer: X-Men characters and related ideas are the property of Marvel. I don't own them.
A/N: Hi all. Don't know how long I will be around so I thought I'd post something small. All my stuff is self-edit, and this is without a great deal of editing, so beware.
"Ay mon ami," called out a not-traditionally sober Remy, eyes barely making it over the rim of his heavy glass tumbler, the amber liquid catching what little light was available in the room.
A wavering image appeared before him, distended nose, huge ears and a mass of sloping hair, tiny dark eyes set back. Wolverine. Or at least how Wolverine looked through the bottom of a shot glass when said viewer had synapses that had forgotten their sheet music, missing and skipping their notes.
Logan barely out of the entranceway gave the Cajun seated at the aging bar a cursory if almost disgusted look, but didn't approach yet. Instead he sidled up towards the other end of the bar, signaling the bar tender over with a small jerk of his chin. The aproned figure was an epitomy of the local bar keep, no regulation tie or jacket with slick backed hair, simply an aging forty going on fifty going on sixty kind of man. Somewhere along the way the man had simply stop aging, Logan could commiserate. He also bet that if he looked around, he could easily find a wife or a daughter working as a waitress.
"How much has he had?" asked Logan no mistaking whom he was asking of. The barman darted a glance over but hesitated in his response too long for Wolverine's liking.
"Just cut him off," ordered Wolverine not in a particular mood to baby-sit the bayou boy. He had been sent out to find the slippery thief, but had actually planned on spending some quality time alone. He figured Gambit could take care of himself, besides Scooter tended to overreact not at the best or worse times, but all the time.
"Sorry," the bar tender replied, "no can do."
"Why the hell not?" asked Wolverine affronted, "I said I want him cut off," continued Logan showing a hint of enhanced canine with his request.
"Look pal, normally I wouldn't say anything, I can tell as much as you he mighta had too much already. But the kid busted up a group of rejects that were hanging around here causing a ruckus; I owe him a little leeway."
A Wolverine with rapidly vanishing patience snapped out, "Water 'em down then, ya think ya can handle that? Cajun won't even notice he's so friggin' soused," grumbled Wolverine as he backed away from the bar after gaining grudging consent from the barman. Next time it might be faster simply to pop a claw to get a little cooperation, Logan considered.
Heavy cowboy boots clunked on a cement floor that had been stained a few too many times, the dim lighting ever-present in bars keeping curious individuals from being able to discern what exactly the stains really were. Mores the better probably.
Gambit had, in the meantime, moved himself over to one of the low slung tables that populated the floor and Wolverine shifted his paces to compensate. Half of him really, really didn't feel like conversing with the Cajun. A sober Gambit spoke in riddles often enough, and a drunk one would be even worse. However the novelty of an inebriated Gambit led him onward.
The wooden chair scraped against the floor as he pulled it out, the sound only picked up by his enhanced hearing, the slight noise drowned to all others as an obnoxious song picked up on a jukebox, speakers piping it throughout the room.
"So what happened to 'alcohol don't affect me,'" asked a gruff Wolverine.
Gambit surveyed his teammate with a not quite steady look in his eyes, "Y' guys neva seen me hit de hard stuff. 'Sides de X-Men be on call all de time, an' I don' drink on de job."
"No one ever said this was a nine to five job Gumbo. Should I ask what's the occasion fer drinking on the job or don't I wanna know?"
"Gambit is officially off duty," declared Gambit having released his hold on his drink to play with a small trinket in his hand Logan couldn't quite make out.
"Is that why Cyke sent me haring off after ya, ya just decided ya wanted a vacation and forgot yer communicator?" asked Logan sarcastically digging the device out of his denim jacket pocket and plopping it on the table.
Gambit did not so much as glare at the comm., but idly swept it away from his side of the cigarette scarred table. "Non, off duty," Gambit reiterated. "All of us need t' get away now an' then. Y' de last one I expected t' get lectured by. I seem t' remember y' runnin' oft t' parts unknown without Cyke's stamp o' approval or de professor's for dat matter."
"We ain't talking about me," growled Logan, "sides I think in the long run it's better fer all involved if I get some time away, otherwise all sorts of damages crop up around the mansion. Get me?"
"Yeah Logan, despite y'r astounding subtly," said Remy not even forming the effort to infuse his words with due sarcasm and obligatory curl of his lip, totally immersed in the small object Logan now could tell was a man's gold ring. Gambit had it balanced carefully in the middle of a water-mark from a long ago patrons beverage of choice. It rested between his thumb and forefinger briefly before Remy sent it spinning on its axis, toppling it with a tap of his index finger to stop the revolutions. Only to begin the cycle once more, the domed yellow gold ring winking as it spun.
"Rogue know ya got that ring Cajun?" Wolverine inquired his voice a grave warning. Gambit shrugged a non-response,
"Y' know what one of de weirdest t'ings in de world be Logan?"
"What?" rejoined Logan after a dead beat of silence, playing along. The Canadian's own attention drawn past the lazy circling of the ring to Gambit's bent form, normally disheveled brown locks split over his forehead.
"It's feeling like y' a widow, when y' wife ain't even dead."
"What are we talking about Gambit?" Wolverine prompted.
"Belladonna," said Gambit softly finally putting a stop to his obsessive spinning. Instead putting a fingertip into the center of the ring slowly drawing it back and forth across the table-- behind the scenes of a Ouija board.
"She's still kicking around in New Orleans last I heard," replied Logan.
"She loves it dere, I love it dere, but," he broke off throat muscles clenching as he picked up spirit, "after she died, Dieu she died in my fuckin' arms… an' den she came back without one damn memory of me, 'least ways not one that mattered.
"Even before t'ough, she was changed, wedding to end all weddings non? Brother killed, husband banned, dat day changed everyt'ing," said Remy the faraway look finally shaking out of his eyes.
Logan, chasing lingering thoughts of Mariko out of his mind picked the comm. back off the table and replaced it on his person. "I'll tell Old One-Eye that I couldn't find ya, was planning on it anyway, just my luck I found ya here," he said finally, "Ya gonna be alright ta get home Cajun?"
"Brought my bike," Gambit returned, "I'll be okay t' drive in a couple a' hours."
"This place gonna be open that long?" asked Logan, "Cuz if ya don't sober up, and I find ya splattered on the highway, I ain't hauling yer carcass off the road. I ain't re-upholstering my jeep again."
"It'll be open for me," said Gambit signaling for what he knew would be his last drink of the night. "Got rid of a bunch o' idiots dat followed Casey home, she be Vern de bartender's niece. I happened across it, den I broke up dere gang for good," he continued contemplating with a shaking smile, "It's odd, don' get normals dat are grateful all dat often."
Wolverine eyed the Cajun once more and stood pushing his chair and shifting his shoulders to straightening his coat, "Didn't know ya could be cynical and drunk."
"I'm a man o' many talents," said Gambit unsteadily, waiting on the overdue bartender.
Logan walked past their table and turned clapped a hand on Remy's left shoulder the younger man turning his head a few degrees his profile coming into view.
"It gets easier," said Wolverine gruffly squeezing the younger mutant's shoulder tightly before relinquishing his grip and heading out for the night to find a watering hole of his own, suddenly needing it.
But it didn't get easier and Logan was glad Gambit didn't have the ability to sniff out lies as he did. You could forget for awhile, but whenever you have a loss that great the pain was always the same as that first moment they were lost, sometimes worse. Time didn't help, you only came up with more ways you could have saved someone, but didn't.
Gambit stared methodically across the room, eyes heavy-lidded, his empathy firing sluggishly, but well enough to pick out Wolverine's sympathetic lie. Now that Logan had taken his leave he could get the bartender to quit watering down his drinks. Course then it would take even longer to dry out before the ride back to Westchester.
Gambit's weary mind relentlessly replayed visions of blonde hair, violet eyes and a smile bordering between smug and sweet, the unmistakable scent of nightshade drifting in a bar where the only scents it could rightly claim were dusty patrons, cigarettes, and a melody of alcohol and age forgotten vomit. Red eyes flashed back open quickly as reality intruded in his vision.
Maybe he'd have one more before he left, or have a lot more and stay at a hotel in town. He could deal without understanding, without help, and he could even do without her…but Dieu it hurt, and the misunderstandings he'd have at the mansion simply weren't worth the effort tonight.
She was his wife and she wasn't. She was dead, but not. She loved him, but she couldn't remember. He waited and she set a contract out on his life. She was gone… and once a year he had to bury someone who wasn't really dead. It hurt.
Remy tucked the thick band of his wedding ring into an inner coat pocket barely noticing the silky texture of the material as he buttoned it closed. Time to go.