Marvel owns the X-Men not I,………Yet!……..whhhhahahahah!
Tortured dreams and Forgotten truths
"What have I done? Sweet Jesus, what have I done?
Become a thief in the night, Become a dog on the run
And have I fallen so far, And is the hour so late
That nothing remains but the cry of my hate,
The cries in the dark that nobody hears,
Here where I stand at the turning of the years?" -LES MISERABLES-
A young mutant, known on the west coast only as Gambit, ran frantically threw the dreary, rain filled streets of Seattle. Panic and fear was painted on his normally handsome poker face, his red on black eyes, that gave him the name 'Le Dible Blanc', were wide, and desperate like a scared child's. Legs racing as fast as they would take him, heart pounding in his chest, sweat dripping off his brow. The 18 year old darted down a dark ally, a place most would rather not be, but a second home to a thief. As nimble as a cat, he climbed on top of a dumpster, then with a running leap, he stretched out his arms and fingers, barely able to grasp the bottom rung of the rusty fire escape latter, almost 10 ft away. With one gloved hand gripping the wet slippery metal, then another, he pulled him self up, until his long legs could bend enough to reach the latter.
Quickly and quietly, he raced up the later, until he reached the first window, locked and reinforced with iron bars on the out side. Any other expert thief may have, continued up the latter, looking for an easer entrance, but this particular thief, born and bread on the sleazy, streets of the Big Easy, was a mutant, able to tap into the potential energy of inanimate objects and bring them to life with kinetic energy, that would explode on impact. So finally tuned was his skill, that he could control exactly how much energy was being released, as well as how loud the explosion.
On this occasion, silence was of the utmost importance, and so, delicately he reached into one of the many hidden pockets in his long custom made brown trench coat, and pulled out a single card from a deck, the two of diamonds. Held between his thumb, and ungloved, middle and ring fingers, the teenager charged the card with explosive energy, then, slid in along, were the iron bars were fused to the window. The card sliced threw the hard mental like a knife threw soft butter. In the course of mere seconds, the bars were off and with the slightest swipe of the card the widow was unlocked. He threw the card over his shoulder as he silently crept into the room, knowing the card would fizzle to ash before reaching the ground. Despite his racing heart and shaking body, he was able to calm himself, and control his breathing. His fiery eyes lit up in the darkness of the sleeping apartment, his steps, though urgent, were soft and soundless.
As he made his way threw the rooms, he stopped, suddenly unsure what to do next. If he were there to steal something, that would be simple enough, but as it were, he was their to hid, to escape from a mad man, that would clam to own him body and soul. He had been working for the evil doctor for several months, paying off a debt he owed to him for helping the young man gain control of his lethal powers back when he was only a boy of 15. The jobs he was ordered to perform started off innocent enough, stealing medical equipment, samples of mutant DNA from government labs, and tracking down certain mutants the scientist was interested in, then telling him were they were, although he was certain those pour souls, were being used in experiments, and the guilt was beginning to consume him. That was why he cautiously asked the doctor, a man who called him self Mr. Sinister, how much longer he had to work for him before his debt would be repaid.
He asked that question only an hour ago, before running away in fear upon hearing the mad man's reply.
"Ah, Mousier LeBeau, you wish to be free of your debt, to once again own your self. How bizarre you should ask me that, considering you have never truly been free. From the day you were born, you have been nothing more then property. At first, you belonged to Fagan, made to pick pockets for him in return for minimal food and shelter. Eventually Jean-Luke claimed you for the Thieves guild of New Orleans. You may have thought they were your family, but really, you were just a tool, Le Deble Blanc, prophesized to unite the guilds. But your union with Bella Donna, daughter of the Assassin's Guild, was ruined when you slay her brother, Julian, and were banished. How, Shakespearian!" Sinister's laugh cut deep into his young heart, that each day longed for his family, and for his wife.
"So you see young Gambit, once the Thieves disowned you, you became mine, in body and soul, forever!" He grinned and his pointed shark teeth gleamed between his thin black lips.
Gambit shuddered as he recalled Sinister's last words. 'Over my dead body!' he thought to himself, sneaking into the apartment's kitchen. His burning eyes locked on to the telephone, a few feet in front of him. He wanted so badly to call for help, but to who? The thought of the police didn't even cross his mind, since he had always been taught to stay away from them, not that they could, or would do any thing to help. The only people he could think of were a million miles away, back home, were he should be, and had told him never to return. He picked up the phone, then set it back down in despair. He had no one, no one to turn to, no one to ask for help. He shook his head regaining his thoughts, he should be use to that by now! He was 18, only a couple months shy of 19, and was a man! He could take care of him self, always had and always would. But Sinister was evil, how evil he didn't yet know, and was certainly not dieing to find out.
Unsure of what to do, he crawled into the living room closet to hid, and hopefully come up with a plan. He wrapped his wet coat tight around himself and began to brain storm. He had only been out of the country once in his young life, to France when he was 17. That trip left a bitter taste in his mouth for traveling, but he had to get as far away from Sinister as possible. Perhaps an island, somewhere warm and sunny, instead of cold and rainy like Seattle. A place were pretty women would serve him colorful drinks with little umbrellas in them, and he could lay out on the beach. It would be wonderful. Just before his weary eyes gave into sleep, there was a sudden loud crash, fallowed by dreadfully failure voices. Screaming came from one of the rooms, a middle aged women and her husband were dragged from their beds by a band of mutants who's name the boy thief knew all to well.
The Maunders had found out were he was hiding, but not him. Instead of looking, they decided the qiukest way to smoke him out was by spilling innocent blood.
"Come out, come out were ever you are!" Scalp hunter sang as he pointed his weapon of choice at the head of the crying woman.
"Please,…..there is no one else here! Just take what ever you want, but please……don't hurt my wife!" The heavy set man held his wife tightly in his arms.
"O.k." Scalp hunter laughed as he blew the man's head off his shoulders. Blood and brains splattered around the room, covering the now widowed woman, and her long white night gown. She began screaming hysterically as her husbands decapitated body lay in her lap. Remy LeBeau covered his mouth to keep from screaming and vomiting, he could see every thing threw the shutters of the door.
"Ugghhh!…..Shut up you fucking bitch!" Vertigo rolled her eyes as she kicked the screaming woman in the mouth, shattering her jaw. Gambit had seen enough, he could always escape some other time, right now innocent people were being killed because of him.
"STOP!…….Si vou plate!…… you are looking for moi, no?" Remy stepped out of the closet, trying his best to look tough. He stood tall, his bow staff in one hand and three glowing cards in the other. "let de femme go, dis between Je' et vous!" His eyes glowed with anticipation, his face blank, masking the fear inside of him. As the Marauders walked toward him, menacingly, a hallow, sadistic voice stopped them in their tracts.
"NO!……….I want him alive!……He is of no use to me as a corps!" A dark figure emerged from the shadows, his long cape dragging on the ground. Sinister smiled at Gambit, his sharp piranha teeth showing. "Ah Gambit, a thief with pride, but no integrity! Who do you think you are, walking away from your debt? What would Jean-Luke say now if he say his baby son, Le Dible Blanc, going back on his word?"
"He would tell me to get de hell away from you! Dat mah soul be worth more den mah honor!" The Teenager spoke in a rebellious and stubborn tone, the voice of determination and youth rather then wisdom and confidence. Sinister laughed as he approached the young man who stood like a stature, not even blinking an eye. The mad scientist stroked the side of the boy's face with one hand, and placed the other on his shoulder.
"Perhaps, but is your soul worth more then your life?" His red glowing eyes locked with Remy's. The thief nodded, not braking his gaze, inside he was trembling. "We shall see Remy LeBeau! After all, you have been raised a survivor, and you will, even at the coast of condemning your own soul!" Sinister let out a laugh so evil, and sadistic, the boy's blood ran cold and his heart froze with fear. The Marauders joined in, and the bone chilling sound echoed in his mind. From somewhere deep inside his subconscious, a door way had become unlocked. Memories he had berried long ago, that had been vague and only raw emotions, were now crystal clear, as if they had happened yesterday.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Gambit shot up in bed, gasping for air and dripping with sweat, shaking uncontrollably. Seconds later the door to his room blew open as Storm rushed in, fallowed by Wolverine, then the rest of the pajama clad X-men.
"What's going on?"
"Is he alone?"
"Is he alright?"
The questions came from all over as his teammates pilled into Gambit's room.
"Remy, my friend, is every thing alright?" Storm sat on the edge of his bed and wrapped a reassuring arm around her trembling teammate. He was still gasping, but he shut his eyes and mouth, breathing threw his nose, trying to regain his composure. 'Can't let dem see me like dis!' He thought to him self, embarrassed to have his teammates all gawking at him. If it was only Storm in there or even Rouge he would have berried him self in their arms and cried like a child.
"Qui,……Stormy,…….I be fine!……Gambit jus' have a dream he woke up next tah Wolverine in a pink nighty!" He shuttered, then gave Logan a smirk. Chuckles and giggles broke threw the room, easing the tension.
"Yeah, you wish, bub!…..And you'd be the one in the nighty!" He growled with a slightly amused expression on his face.
"I sense no clear and present danger to be alarmed of!" Bishop announced after surveying the room.
"Jeeze Bishop! You make Cyclops sound relaxed!" Bobby rolled his eyes.
"Your sure your alright Remy?" Jean looked at him in concern. She had woken up before he had cried out, sensing his intense fear and dread.
"Of course Chere! An' I 'pologize fo' wakein y'all up. It ain't to often de X-men get a night off, ehn……..Tell ya what,…….I wake up real early tomorrow morning, an make everybody breakfast, Cajun style!" Gambit gave his famous grin, letting his charm power wash over his teammates, reassuring them every thing was fine.
"Yeah, right! Early for you is wakening up before noon!" Cyclops smirked as he headed out the door. One by one they fallowed, yawning groggily.
"Glad yer alright Sugar!" Rouge smiled kissing him on the top of his head.
"Rougie, you can stay an I be better den alright!" The charming Cajun offered his most seductive grin. She stopped and turned at the door, blowing him a kiss, fallowed by the middle finger, then left.
"Dat woman!" Remy laughed, feeling suddenly cold and scared, his eyes wet. Ororo, had risen to her feet to leave, when she heard nervousness in his laugh. Looking upon him fondly, she frowned in concern.
"Remy, your still shaking, tell me please, what did you dream of that frightened you so?" Standing over him she felt like a big sister, wanting to chase away the demons that plagued his mind. She ran her long delicate fingers threw his mess of auburn hair. He reached up and took her hand, holding it to his lips, her skin was so soft. With a gentle kiss, he released her hand and lay down, rapping the blankets over himself.
"Night Stormy!" He pretended to yawn, as he closed his eyes, waiting for her to leave. The white haired goddesses lingered for a moment, then left, gently closing the door behind her, glancing once more at the young mans silhouette. Remy LeBeau was once again alone, left with tortured thoughts and freighting memories. He sobbed softly into his pillow, hugging himself, because he knew deep down, no one else would.
"Good-bye Joe, me gotta go, me oh my oh
Me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou
My Yvonne, the sweetest one, me oh my oh
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou
Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and file' gumbo
cher amio Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou"
"I'm alone while you're having fun
You have faith while I feel none
Sleep till late to waste half the day
But I'm happy to live this way
And I know that you can't see my pain
But you know that I can, your pain
Me and shame are the same
'Cause tonight I'm gonna see my ma
Me and shame take the blame"
Around 8 in the morning, the entire mansion woke up, to the aroma of a Creole feast. The X-men wandered into the dinning room, lead by their sense of smell. Naturally Logan was the first to arrive, fallowed by Bishop and Scott who were already up. Betsy was next, she had been meditating after her morning yoga, when the delicious smells broke her trance. Beast entered, still in his lab coat, leaving his lab for the first time in days, a smile on his face. No one said a word as they entered the dinning room, gazing in aw at the mouth watering spread.
The table had been set with fine china, on a white silk table cloth, with red napkins folded decoratively on each plate. Their were three different forks, two knives and two spoons for each seat, accompanied by a crystal wine glass. Their were candles lit on either side of a bouquet of red roses, that was the center peace. As they took their seats they marveled at the feast laid before them on silver platters. In chilled glass pitchers was fresh squeezed orange juice, along with pitches of whole milk. On the platters were an array of Creole delicacies, starting with Eggs St. Charles, Breaded and pan-fried trout filets topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. With Logan in mind, Gambit made Eggs Hussard, Holland rusks topped with Canadian bacon, marchand de vin sauce, then poached eggs, napped with Hollandaise sauce. For Kitty, who was currently a vegitarien, Eggs Sardou with creamed spinach on artichoke bottoms. For the sides to these entrée's he made Calas, Creole fried rice cakes, Couche Couche, fried corn meal mush, Cajun-style, Grillades and Grits, Hush Puppies, Pain perdu, and for deseart, Bread pudding with Boubon sauce.
Cyclops picked up a small card that was left on his plate, he smiled and read It aloud to his teammates.
"Told you I'd wake up early. Bon appetite mes amies, enjoy! P.S Don't you worry Stormy, I already ate!" With a light chuckle they dove into their gourmet meal, enjoying every flavorful mouth full. Remy had been careful not to make the meal too spicy for his unaccustomed friends, using just the right blend of spice, to singe their taste buds but not scorch them. After a while, their pace slowed as their appetites were appeased.
"Too bad old Chuck's away at that conference, missed out on some damn good eating!" Wolverine Stretched and patted his stomach.
"Yhea, who ever thought Cajun food was so good! Now I know why Gambit's always complaining we eat too much pizza." Kitty laughed.
"I for one had no idea of Remy's culinary skills. I have dinned at many 5 stare restaurants around the world, and this meal ranks among some of the best." Warren was impressed to say the least, having never thought much of the Cajun thief
"Well how'd he get so good? I mean he didn't go to chief's school or any thing." Bobby was finishing off his bread pudding.
"I do believe he was taught by Jean-Luke. One of many things I suppose." Storm mused as she sipped her orange juice.
"Who?" Cannonball asked, still learning about his new family the X-men.
"Jean-Luke Is Remy's Papa, and the leader of the New Orleans Thieves guild." Rouge smiled, at the memory of meeting the time honored thief.
"I thought Gambit was unacquainted with his birth parents." Bishop questioned, recalling facts he had read about the Cajun.
"Yes min frued, he was abandoned at birth for being a mutant, just as I, my self was." Night crawler had often tried discussing this with Remy, but found his teammate unwilling.
" Jean-Luke adopted Remy as his son, after stealing him from the hospital." Rouge added.
"Wait I thought he lived on the streets." Bobby asked.
"He did Robert. Remy survived as a street child, picking pockets for a man named Fagan. Jean-Luke did not adopt him as his son untill Remy was 10 years old." Storm sighed. She felt as though she alone understood the complexity that was Remy LeBeau.
"I don't reckon I understand mame? Why did he wait so long tah adopt him? And why did he leave him on the streets in the first place? That ain't no way tah raise a child." Sam was at a loss, considering he had come from a loving family of multiple brothers and sisters and had no doubts that his mother or father would die for each of them, before leaving them to struggle for survival on the streets.
"It is complicated young Samuel. As are many aspects of our Creole friend's life before joining the X-men." Beast was always found of the young Cajun, as well as curious about him. The thief was so mysterious at times, and yet not shy in the least. Always friendly, and quick with a joke, but never willing to open up, to let anyone try to understand him.
"Look, it don't really matter what kinda child hood Gumbo had. Fer right now, he's an X-man, and a damned good cook." Wolverine didn't like talking about people behind their backs, even when done with out malicious intent.
"Actually Logan, I believe it may be of great importance. Ever since I've known Gambit, I could tell he was hiding some thing, not just from us but from himself. Like some dark secret, too painful to revile, so he keeps it berried in his subconscious, ignoring it as best he can." Jean paused.
"You mean the Morlock Massacre, right." Warren said coldly.
"No,…..maybe, I'm not certain. Usually he's so hard to read. Even I can't tell what he's thinking. But then last night,………..I don't know, it's like, for the first time I could really sense Remy's emotions, almost as if his physic shields had been broken down." Jean rubbed her temples lightly
"Yes, I know what you mean. At first when I met Gambit, I could sense some thing dark about him, so I assumed he was not trust worthy. Then I learned of the Morlock Massacre, and his role. I had figured those dark memories were the ones I had felt. But the more I've been around him, the more I could feel his hurt. Almost like an open wound, covered by a thin bandage but not heald. He dose well to cover it up, but every once in a while I can feel him slip, and…….it scars me." Psylock was gazing out the window as she spoke, absent mindedly. "Perhaps that Being, that had seized control of Gambit's body a few weeks back did more psychological damage then we initially thought. If his shields are in fact broken, there is no telling what dark memories may have been released."
"Remy has many demons from his past that plague his mind and tear at his soul, as do we all. Let us not speculate or pass judgment on our friend. He has many secrets, this is true, but the few I know are enough to tell me that his trust is a hard thing to gain, and an even harder thing for him to except. I am sure that when he is ready, he may share these burdens with the rest of us, until then, please Jean, Betsey, I know you mean well, but let us discuss this matter no farther. I do not doubt that Remy would find our conversation intrusive, he is after all a very privet person." Storm made her position clear, and the conversation halted.
"I get drunk in the morning,
I dont look for afternoons
I dont care if tomorrow never comes
I been pushed and kicked around
it seems my whole life
now I'm tired lord
I'm so damm tired inside."
"Laying lost and wounded
Just myself to blame
Have no life and
Being hand fed pain
Head's a crying wasteland
Filled with shame
Cried for help before and
That evening, a few of the X-men found themselves desiring to take a walk on the vast property that surrounded the X-mansion. It had been a brisk, fall day in Westchester New York, and they were bundled up in jackets and scarves, their hands jammed in their pockets. Although none of them had officially said it, the walk was also meant to locate Gambit, who hadn't been seen all day, but who's presence was still some were on the grounds. Scott and Jean walked along side of Logan and Hank, Ororo, and Rouge were close behind. As the team neared the lake, Wolverine stopped abruptly and gave a long sniff.
"Got em'." He grinned and headed toward the other side of the lake.
"How can you tell?" Rouge asked more out of curiosity then doubt.
"I smell Rum. New Orleans Extra Premium Louisiana Cane Rum to be exact, and fresh tobacco. My guess is he's been rolling cigarettes and drinking him self silly nearly all damn day." Logan laughed, but the others gave each other worried glances.
"Scott, I told you something was wrong." Jean frowned as their pace quickened.
When they reached the other side of the lake, they came upon a very inebriated Cajun, who was lying on his back, wearing nothing more then a worn out pair of jeans, and a worn in pair of brown leather boots. He had his eyes closed, but his lips were moving, a melody of French words sang out though his vocal cords.
"Jolie blonde, regardez donc quoi t'as fait, Tu m'as quitte pour t'en aller, Pour T'en aller avec un autre, oui, que moi, Quel espoir et quel avenir, mais, moi, je vais avoir?" He paused, then continued after bringing a cigarette to his lips and breathing in deeply, as if it was an asthma inhaler. His legs were crossed and arms spread apart, and in his right hand rested an almost empty bottle of Rum. Before any of them said a word, his red eyes shoot open and he peered up at the faces around him.
"Bonjour Mes amies! An what bring you over tah de far side o' de lake?" Remy's words were slurred and his voice horse.
"We were talking a walk. And you?" Storm raised an eye brow at her drunk friend.
"Ohhhhhhh, you know! Communicating wit nature, finding mah inner chil', getting piss ass drunk!" He chuckled as he brought the bottle to his lips and took a swig, gulping down the harsh liquor as if his life depended on It. "By de way, how was breakfast, ehe?" He started to sit up, then stopped and fell onto his back with a grunt.
"It was fine suga! We ate it all up, but why didn't you join us?" Rouge knelt down next to him and stroked his cheek with her gloved hand.
His eyes widened in fear as he gasped. Rouge's face had become Sinister's, his hand holding Remy's jaw roughly.
"What's wrong, suga?" Gambit blinked and saw Rouge once more. He shook his head and took a breath.
"I jus'…….nothing,.…..…I be fine."
"You won't be unless we get you inside and under some blankets my friend. Laying half naked out side in November may be acceptable in New Orleans, but here in New York, it is a good way to catch a cold or worse!" Beast frowned at the Cajun's pale completion.
" Had a shirt,…….dunno were………Ughn." He grunted as he attempted to rise to his feet.
"Here." Logan offered his hand.
"Mercy." Remy mumbled as Wolverine pulled him to his feet. Suddenly his teammate was gone, and in his place stood Sabertooth grinning, blood dripping from his fangs. "NO!" Remy yelled, jumping back, only to land in the open arms of Harpoon." NO, Si vous plate! LEMME GO!" He jerked his body violently, trying desperately to escape his grasp.
"Remy! Calm your self! We are only trying to help!" Beast's voice roared in his ears. The Cajun stopped struggling and was set down onto his wobbly legs. He shook his head hard, and hit it with the palm of his hand. Once again he was staring into the faces of his concerned friends.
"Gambit, I think you've had enough to drink, hand me the bottle." Cyclops's voice was stern and authoritative, not some thing Remy responded well too.
"Non! Lemme finish!" He stumbled away, downing the rest of the bottle in two gulps, then ambled back, handing the empty bottle to Scott. " Here ya go mon amie, I finish now!" He smiled a toothy grin at the team leader, then fell back into Rouge's arms.
"Ok suga, time tah go inside!" She picked him up, but he resisted.
"Non! I can walk!"
"Course ya can Gumbo, but we ain't staying out here all day waiting for ya!" Wolverine lit his cigar as they headed in. Jean looked nervously at her husband and then to Ororo and Hank who each appeared equally concerned.
"I am reaching, but I fall
And the night in closing in.
And I stare in to the void,
The wirlpool of my sin.
I'll escape now from the world."
- Les Misrebels
The last few gulps of alcohol had done him in, and Remy was passed out by the time they got him into the mansion. Jean and Beast both agreed that he should be taken to the med lab, despite the hesitation of Storm and Rouge, who thought of how uncomfortable he felt in the room. On their way there, they passed a surprised Bobby and Warren in the hall way.
"What the hell happened to him?" Bobby asked, a smirk on his face.
"Got drunk." Wolverine said matter of factly.
"I'll say! I can smell the Rum from here!" Warren waved his hand in front of his face.
By the time they made it to the Lab, Bobby, Warren, Kitty and Betsy had all joined the parade. Rouge lay him gently on the table and Hank preceded to examine him.
"I would rather do this while he was sober and awake, but he avoids my lab like the plague! It has been three years since his last check up, and he bolted before I could even administer any vaccine shots. And of course he has no medical record before he came here, and he smokes like a chimney…….." Beast was babbling on as the others chatted amongst them selves. Jean stood over Remy and watched the subtle twitches in his face, wondering what he was dreaming.
"Now the world is gone I'm just one
Oh God, help me hold my breath ,
as I wish for death
Oh please God, help me
Darkness imprison me,
All that I see
I cannot live, cannot die
Trapped in myself
Body my holding cell"
-Metallica - One
"AGONIZING PAIN IN YOUR BRAIN
YOU FEEL THE DRUGS FLOW IN YOUR VEINS
RAGING FEVER OF EXITEMENT
FIT OF CHOKING, YOU'RE IN TORMENT
SUFFERER FROM MAD SCIENTISTS"
A young Remy awoke, unable to move. He glanced down at his naked body, that had been shackled to a medal slab, some sort of operating table. His head was pounding and his eyes were blurry, he struggled to focus his thoughts. The last thing he remembered was…….oh Shit! His eyes snapped open all the way, his head jerking around frantically, surveying the dark, rusty laboratory. Despite being disoriented, he knew were he was. In a panic, he struggled to free himself, but the metal bindings that held his wrists and ankles cut into his skin, blood dripping from the torn flesh. His powers were gone, stolen from him by the thick collar around his neck
Footsteps echoed in the long hallow tunnel that led to the medical torture chamber. Closer, closer, they stopped right out side of the heavy door. Remy's heart was in his throat, his pulse like a scared rabbits. He strained every muscle in his lean body, wishing for just the slightest spark of kinetic energy. Any thing that could help release just one hand. A screeching sound of nails on a chalk board sliced though the scilence of the room, as the metal door slid open and a figure cloaked in shadow stepped through the door way.
Mr. Sinister stepped into the dim light of his laboratory, a place were the screams of his patients fell on deaf ears. Dried blood, hair and flesh from the victims of his experiments, covered the floor. The stench of death and agony hung putrid in the air. Stacked from floor to ceiling, on 3 of the walls, were shelves packed with glass jars of varies sizes. In them, organs and other body parts were being preserved. Eyeballs, hands, brains, hearts, lungs, all still blinking, twitching, thinking, pumping, breathing. Electrical currents running through them, sustaining their unnatural life. Unborn fetuses, plugged into vats of chemicals, feeding them forced mutation. On the table next to Remy were test tubes, syringes, knifes, microscopes, and an array of other stainless steal and glass interments. Behind him were machines of all sorts, some monitoring his vital signs, others, the devile only knows. The wall in front of him had two doors. One, leading out of the hell hole, the one Sinister had walked through. The other was wooden, and led to horrors that even the Marquis De Sade could not dream of.
"Bonjour Remy LeBeau. Glad to see your still with us. You put up quit an admirable fight earlier, little good it did you. I so look forward to braking that vivacious spirit of yours, crushing your will until you realize that now and forever, I will be your master, and you, my humble and obedient servant." Sinister took the boys jaw in his hand and examined him closely. Studding his handsome features. "Yes, young LeBeau, you really are a fine specimen of mutant kind. It would surly be a shame to ruin such a pretty face, and pretty body, just to brake your spirit. No, I believe this is a task that can best be handled through the wonders of medical science." He turned and poked his head out the door. "Boys and girls, it's time for the show." His sadistic voice sang out, echoing in the dark tunnel. Giggles and yelps erupted through the door way as the Marauders made their entrance. A lust for pain glowing in their eyes.
"Mousier Sinister, si vous plat! You don have ta do dis! I steal any ting you wan', you name it an' it's yours! I swear,……. on,….. on….on my Papa's life!" The words choked out of his dry thought. The shame of such a promise, heavy on his head, but no more then his fear of Sinister.
Amused, Sinister gave a twisted smile, before plunging a syringe of toxic chemicals into the veins running threw Gambit's right forearm. He licked his lips in anticipation, as he watched his victim squirm. The marauders were crowded around the steel table, egger to see how the newest patient would react to their master's experiments. Remy was breathing hard as he watched the 4 inch needle penetrate his tender skin, the neon ooze disappeared and was replaced by his rose pedal blood. Finished, Sinister released the painful kiss of the needle, and waited, as a thin trickle of blood flowed down Remy's arm, and off the edge of his clenched fist.
For a moment, their was only a numb feeling, warm and relaxed, almost soothing. Then his blood turned to liquid fire and raced threw his body, causing it to seizure in pain. The poison pumped threw his vital organs, cramping his heart and shriveling his lungs in his chest. Remy's demon eyes went wide, as his mouth sprang open, releasing a scream of unspeakable pain. His veins bulged as his blood began to boil, steam rising from his reddened skin. Every molecule of his being cried out in complete and utter agony. No thoughts could be formed, his brain over whelmed by toxins, his mind in total shock. Yet some how, threw the blazing pain and pounding of blood in his ears, Gambit could hear a voice calling to him. Familiar, but foreign, external, but from with in, calming, yet urgent. The voice sliced through his pain and smothered it, like a bucket of ice water thrown onto fire.
REMY! WAKE UP
"Well he's on the table, And he's gone to code,
And I do not think anyone knows,
What they are doing here, And your friends have left,
You've been dismissed,
I never thought it would come to this,
And I, I want you to know,
Everyone's got to face down the demons,
Maybe today, We can put the past away,"
- Third Eye Blind-
Soon after Hank had injected the passed out Remy LeBeau, with a mutant friendly flue vaccine, the young Cajun's body began to riot. He gasped a blood chilling scream as his back arched, then his body began to convulse, as though a bolt of electricity were passing through him.
"Oh my Stares and Graters!" Beast's jaw dropped, as he watched his teammate's body violently jerk, like a wild bronco. In one mighty leap, he cleared 12ft, and landed next to Gambit. Logan, then Scott and Bishop were there too, assisting Beast in holding their distressed teammate still as Jean reached out to him mentally.
"What the HELL is happening to em' Hank?" Wolverine struggled to hold the young man down without hurting him.
"HELL, it appears, is precisely what!……This is impossible!" Beast glanced at the monitors, astounded by the speed of Gambit's heart rate. "This vaccine has been tested and medically approved for all stands of mutant DNA, and blood types." The other X-men were all gathered now, standing back, out of the way, but on their toes, unsure of what was happening. Jean placed a hand on his head, and one to her own, calling out to him, in the deepest recesses of his mind. A sudden rush of pain and fear washed over her, struggling, she managed to psychically call out once more, before pulling back. It worked.
REMY WALKE UP
Gambit's blazing eyes shot open, where was he? The lights were too bright, stinging his sensitive eyes, and his blood alcohol level, still too high. He felt hands upon him, holding him down. Was it the Marauders? Had he passed out from pain only to be awoken for more? He struggled frantically, but the hands were too many. Though the blind fear, spinning room and thunder of loud voices, he could see medical equipment, and hear the freighting buzz of machinery. He was still in a laboratory. One hand broke free, punching the restrainer in his jaw, and seized a near by syringe. With a gut wrenching cry, he used all of his strength to through off his captors. In the blink of an eye, with speed and agility that would impress even the likes of Quicksilver, the determined Cajun flew off the exam table, grabbed Jean, and threw them both against a wall. He held her hostage, the needle of the syringe, pressed against the Red head's throat.
All went silent in the med lab, every one holding their breath, except for Remy LeBaeu, who's breathing was short and desperate, his eyes wide in terror, sweat, beaded on his brow, and glisten on his smooth chest. He was shaking, the syringe grasped white knuckled in his right hand, his left arm wrapped around the torso of the tall, red haired woman, pinning her arms to her sides. Still intoxicated, he swayed on his feet, leaning back against the wall. Threw blurry eyes and a nauseating migraine, he saw the figures in the lab closing in around him, and his heart froze in fear.
"Ok Gumbo, just slow it down, and take a deep breath. Cuze if I see one drop of blood on her neck……..so help me!" Wolverine Growled.
"GAMBIT! Drop the syringe and release Jean! That's an ORDER!" Cyclops moved forward, his voice threatening. The confused and frightened X-Man tightened his grip on his hostage, clinging to her more for protection, then to hurt her.
STOP! All of you, stay were you are! Jean's voice rang threw the minds of her fellow X-Men. Gambit is not in his right mind! He is suffering from some type of delusion. Threatening him will only further his fear and confusion. Please, He needs our help! Begrudgingly, they took a step back, still on edge. Rouge was hesitant to obey, but Storm, gently giddied her to the side.
Remy? Calm down! It's me Jean, Phoenix, Cyclops's wife, your teammate and friend. The X-men are here to help you. You needent be afraid of us, no one here will hurt you. The X-men are your family.. Clear your mind and feel our love for you. Jean concentrated, as she flipped through the Cajun's memories, showing him snapshots and miny clips of good times with those he called his amies. She felt his chest rising and falling, as his breaths slowed. The warmth and familiarity generated by his memories were calming him down, bringing him out of his delusional state.
Finally his grip on her loosened and the syringe dropped from his hand. Jean stepped away from Remy into the arms of her husband. A collective breath was released from all in the room. Gambit's eyes were down cast, his body and mind exhausted, a lost feeling overwhelming him. Ashamed and embarrassed by his lack of control over his own mind, he slid down the wall until seated on the ground. Like a child, he pulled his knees to his chest, hugging himself, and rocking slowly. Images of Sinister and his experiments danced around in his head, causing a small whimper to escape his lips. Storm was beside him now, and he lay him self in her arms, burring his tear streaked face. She cradled her friend, stroking his auburn hair and looked up at her teammates, worry and sadness wrinkled on her beautiful face.
"Jean, What is happening to him." Ororo's voice was soft and broken, unlike her usual commanding tone. Jean sighed as the others all edged closer slowly with concern, not wanting to frighten their troubled teammate.
"I can't be sure………I felt immense fear and pain, the likes of which I honestly have never experienced before. Not even in my most dark moments, when the threat of death seemed immanent……….Something from his past. Something SO horrific, that until now he had locked it away in his subconscious, unable to fully remember the events. If these memories had broken though in a therapy session, a psychologist would have called it a release of repressed memories. But the nature in which he is remembering, is most bizarre. Almost as if, the memories were not released from the depths of his mind, but ripped out, forcefully, and are playing before his eyes, as if happening all over again. Causing him to become delusional!………What ever that creature was that possessed Remy only a few weeks ago, it managed to tare down the shields that had graded his mind from out side forces as well as physiological trauma!" Jean looked down at Remy with a strange pity mixed with curiosity. She stepped away from Cyclops toward Remy, her husband grabbing her shoulder protectively. "I'll be fine Scott." She brushed off his hand.
"Careful Jennie!" Wolverine warned, eyeing the cowering young Cajun. He felt for the kid, having delt with flashbacks and delusions fallowing his time with Weapon X, but he was still aware of how lethal Gambit was, sane or not. Rouge was standing farther back then her teammates, in quiet contemplation, a nagging feeling of knowing what he was going through, but not quiet understanding it.
Jean knelt down in front of her disturbed team mate, and reached out a gentle hand, stroking his mess of auburn hair and tucking it behind his ear. "Remy,…….Remy, let me try to help you. Let me look inside your mind……….If I could see what….."
"Non!………you can' see!" He jerked away from his friends and crawled into the corner of the lab, covering his face in his folded arms and resting his elbows on his knees.
"Gambit! You must learn to trust us! As a member of the X-Men, your mental health is of great importance!" Scott was about to lecture him about what it meant to be a team, but one icy stare from his wife shut him up.
"Mousier Summers, do you love your wife?" The question was quiet and his red eyes glowed from beneath his shadow cast face.
"What!…….Of course I do! What are you….."
"Den keep her outa my head!……Don' you 'member what happen to Rouge after absorbin' my me'ries? And dose' be de ones I live wit normally!…….Dese,…….day be ripping me inside out!………..If she go in here," he pointed to the side of his head, " She be tainted fo'evea, never be de same woman again!……….I promises you homme,……..De'll eat away at her, drive her crazy like dey doing tah me!……..If you love her……..den keep her safe!" His voice had started off strong but ended weak, his depression, and fear sobering, the alcohol unable to dull the sharp edge of pain cutting it's way though his chest.
Jean walked over to the shivering man, barley recognizing the handsome scoundrel, hidden beneath his misery and inner turmoil. She reached out a steady hand, and lifted his face, staring into his ruby eyes, in pools of black, filled with confusion and shame. "Gambit, you have no need to fear for my safety! I have been trained by the strongest telepath in the world." She smiled at him reassuringly.
"Jean, perhaps Remy has a point. Maybe it would be best to wait for the professor's return, just in case." Beast suggested.
"Nonsense!…….Betsey is here, she can assist me if any thing should go wrong." Jean was determined.
"I will agree to stand by, though I erg you to reconsider! Remember, I too have spent time in Gambit's mind, and have felt the silent dread that stems from these traumatic memories." Pyslock warned, secretly wishing never to journey inside the Cajun's head again.
"It's your call Jennie! Just don't go biting off mor'in you can chew." Wolverine grumbled in a concerned voice.
"Don't worry my friends, I know what I'm doing." Jean spoke in unwavering confidence.
After Rouge lifted him too his feet and helped him back to the table, Hank wrapped a blanket around Gambit's shoulders. His body was shacking, and his teeth chattering. Laying down on the table, he felt so tired, but he was too afraid to sleep. Not knowing what the next nightmare held in store for him. Jean stood over him, the others watching her with baited breath and fingers crossed.
"Just close your eyes and let down your remaining mental shields Remy. Let me see into your mind. No matter how horrible it is, we shall face it together!" She placed her hands on either side of his head and began to probe. His eyes were so heavy, and his strength weakening. In a mater of moments he was asleep.
"I don't want you and I don't need you
don't bother to resist, I'll beat you
It's not your fault that you're always wrong
the weak ones are there to justify the strong
the beautiful people, the beautiful people
it's all relative to the size of your steeple
you can't see the forest for the trees
you can't smell your own shit on your knees" Marilyn Manson
"Things crawl in the darkness
That imagination spins
Needles at your nerve ends
Crawl like spiders on your skin
Pounding in your temples
And a surge of adrenaline
Every muscle tense --
to fence the enemy within"
Jean found her self in a dark musty room, the stale odor of sweat and vomit overwhelming. She could hear the sound of crying, muffled whimpers were coming from a corner. Suddenly a door slammed open, blinding light filled the tiny room, as a large muscular figured entered. Harpoon looked right through the surprised Jean, who was only a ghost in Remy's mind, unlike the very real memory of the ruthless Marauder. He walked past her to a trembling boy that covered in the corner, surrounded by his own filth, blood and vomit dried on his bare chest, wearing only a Genoshan collar connected to a chain. Harpoon stood over the young man, whose auburn hair lay matted across his face.
"Uhhhhhhgggg!…….You stink LeBeau!……Common, Mr. Sinister wants too se ya!" Harpoon grabbed the chain that was connected to the collar and with a harsh yank, brought the teenager out of the corner and onto his knees, pulling him along like a disobedient animal.
"Non,………….Si vous plate!……Non more!" Gambit begged softly, shame and fear wrapped around him like a cloak.
"You can tell him that." Harpoon laughed, dragging the weak and devastated Remy.
Jean covered her mouth, holding back her tears, as she fallowed the younger memory of her team mate. So this is how it happened! Poor Remy, being condemned by his friends and too ashamed to explain himself. She was thinking to her self, when they entered a laboratory, one so filled with the essence of death she almost got sick. Sinister was wearing his lab coat and was standing in front of the other Marauders. He grinned maliciously as a crawling Remy LeBeau entered the room. Every time he struggled to his feet, Harpoon would give a jerk, pulling him back onto his hands and knees.
Sinister approached Gambit, who had stopped crying the moment Harpoon had entered the room, and was know sitting up strait on his knees, trying his best to hold onto his last shreds of dignity. A worn and exhausted poker face tried to mask his fear and humility. Sinister rain his fingers through the tangles of the boys hair, pulling out small chunks of vomit.
"Do you know what today is Remy?" The question was casual and slime coated all the same. Gambit shook his head, locking his eyes with Sinister. "Why today is your 19th birthday! And the one year anniversary of your banishment from your home and family. Leaving you nothing!…..But,……..If you would only except my invitation to become a Marauder, then none of this would be necessary!…..I know the past couple of months have been heard on you, what with the experiments and all……. The very fact that you've resisted me this long, suggests that you are indeed strong, If not just stubborn!…….What say you LeBeau?… Ready to join my team, and relieve your needless pain and suffering?"
Gambit closed his eyes. Every day he had prayed to a god he didn't believe in, begging him for death. Images of his beautiful Bella Donna, and his strong Pere who had rescued him from the harsh streets of New Orleans flashed through his mind. His brother Henrie, teaching him to become a thief, and getting him drunk for the first time. Tantie Mantie, the voodoo witch that was the closest thing to a mother he knew. Nursing him back to health with her black magic, cradling him at night when he woke up screaming. He wanted to be with them so badly, to be held like he was a child, loved and protected. They would come for him, he knew they would! After all, none of them really wanted to banish him, they had no choice, did they? They still loved him, he wasn't alone.
"Non!………..Not now an' not ever!" Gambit opened his eyes and glared up at Sinister in defiance. The mad scientist's smile twisted into a frown, as he realized Remy had yet to be broken. He grabbed the arrogant young man by his tangled auburn hair and jerked his head back. Sinister brought his face with in inches of Remy's and whispered in a blood chilling tone.
"Do not think for one moment that any one on this earth gives a god damn about you Le Debile Blanc! Not your family, to them you are already dead. Not your friends, criminals have no sense of loyalty or kinship. And most certainly not the concerned citizens, because to them you are nothing more then a mutant thief, the scum they would wipe their feet on. For get about any chance of a rescue because no one cares if you live………….. or die! Maybe you underestimate the amount of suffering a man of my genius can inflict? Perhaps some examples are needed!" Sinister nodded to Arclight and Riptide who smiled wickedly and disappeared through the door that lead to his, "other" patients.
"I t'ink you unda'estimate de endurance of de human spirit mon amie! Betta off killin moi now, den wasting your time trying to persuade moi tah join you! It ain't gonna happen Sinister!" Remy called out in a confidant almost taunting voice, as Harpoon shackled his wrists and ankles to the wall.
"Of course it will young Remy……... No matter how long it takes, you will be mine!…….And if one day I do get board of trying to break you,…….keep in mind there are always more experiments to be done, and more fun to be had!" Sinister laughed and exited the room, fallowed by the Marauders, Archlight and Riptide fallowed out the door, locking it behind them. Alone, Gambit fixed his attention on the other door that had been left open, the one that he often heard screams of agony echo behind.
His heart froze in terror as something stirred in the blackness of the door way. Then figures slowly emerged from the shadows, horrible, mutated creatures, alive against their wills. Jean shrieked in fright at the sight of the monsters, all victims of Sinister's experiments, horribly grotesque and mutilated beyond any one's darkest dreams. All of them moaning and crying, some screaming in high pitched hysterics. Many missing limbs or pieces of their face, their skin rotten like a leprous. Metal vices screwed into their skulls, blood dripping down their faces were they clawed at them selves, trying to relieve the pressure. On some, their skin had been opened up and held that way by metal clamps to get a better look at their insides. Young Gambit was gasping in fear, demonic eyes wide with shock, his heart pounding in his ears, his empty stomach contracting as he dry heaved. What use to be a man, limped toward him, long scars on his hairless head were Sinister had dissected his brain. His noise was gone, and one ear, more then half of his fingers loped off at the knuckle, and one leg was completely backwards.
"Non!…….Get away!" Remy cried out in fear, tears unable to form in his stunned eyes. The creature hobbled closer to him, placing his disfigured hands on the young man's body, clawing at his warm flesh. It lay it's head on Gambit's chest, and felt his rapid heart beat, then looked up at the boy, his eye sockets, nothing more then two black holes in his head with shriveled skin caving in around them. Remy's mouth dropped open, and a small sound escaped his swollen throat.
"UUUUUUHHHHHHGGGGGGGAAAAAAAA!" The Creature screamed, inches from Gambit's face, his teeth rotten and his tongue bitten in half, wiggling in his mouth like a worm.
"AAAAGGGGGHHHHHH!" Remy screamed, though his voice was drowned out by Jean's own. She pulled back, trying to escape his mind and the terrifying memories she was witnessing.
"When Faith Gives Way To Fear
When Courage Disappears
No Plans Can Be Conceived
No Fears Can Be Released
I'm On My Own, In A Liquid State
I'm Drowning In A Maze
Dissolve Into The Haze"
The X-Men had been waiting nervously for Jean to brake from Remy's mind and tell them what was happening, when their fears were confirmed. Jean screamed, releasing her grasp on Remy, who had cried out as well. She threw her self back hysterical, brushing off the hands of mutates, she felt were all over her. At the same time, Gambit had leapt off the table and over to a trash can, were he was throwing up between panicked gasps for air.
"Jean! What's wrong? What did you see?" Scott was walking toward her as the other X-Men, looked from her to Gambit in dismay, not sure what to do.
"Non…………..Get away!" Jean's voice mimicked Remy's as she held out her arms defensively, her control over her mental powers lapsed. Suddenly every X-Man in the room was bombarded with a flash of horrific images and feelings of petrified terror. They reeled back in shock, some falling to the ground. Jean cried out, then collapsed to the ground, sitting on her knees, her face cupped in her hands sobbing quietly as she regained her control. The others were gasping, some throwing up in a near by sink, some crying silently, all looking to one another, then to their two team mates on the floor.
Rouge fell to Remy's side, holding him and rubbing soothing circles in his back as he violently dry heaved, having emptied his stomach already, his body quivered at her touch. Tears fell from her eyes like warm rain on his bare back.
"Remy, suga, what was that?………Who were those poor souls?" Her voice was soft and frightened. Gambit drew a quivering breath, as he lay down in her lap, a single tear rolling down his face.
"Don' be scared chere, it be ok. Jus' hold me si vous plate!……..Jus' hold me and don' let go,…………..or dey gonna get moi!" His sob filled voice broke into a whisper, as he drew a painful breath and sighed, clinging to her warmth.
"Who Remy, I don't understand?" She cried helplessly as she rocked her troubled love in her arms.
"Les monsters tarer chez moi!……….etalage moi vetemento,………horrible vetements!" Gambit's breath quickened as he felt the panic crawling up his body, seizing his chest.
"Sinister,………and the Maunders ." Jean announced, tears still in her eyes as Scott and Logan gingerly helped her to her feet.
"Shoulda known that slime ball was part of all this! How do we fix it." Wolverine growled. His gruffness was an obvious sign of his concern for Gambit. Although he would never admit it, Logan respected the man, often identifying better with him then the other numerous members of their team. Both were loners, head strong and independent, confidant in their skills. Neither were found of taking orders and often bumped heads with Cyclops and occasionally the Professor. The biggest difference between the two, was style. While Wolverine was slashing and gashing, the Cajun was doing back flips and finding ways to finesse the art of fighting. Logan wore what ever shirt didn't stink the most, while Remy, even on his most casual days, ridding his Harley, still looked good in holey jeans and a worn leather jacket. He liked the Cajun, and admired him. Seeing him curled up on the floor like a dog that had been beat too much, made him feel angry and strangely protective, like a wolf realizing one of their pack was hurt.
"The Morlock Massacre." Rouge whispered, tightening her grip on Remy.
"Well, Gambit DID work for him once!…….Maybe these memories or what ever are his guilty conscience reminding him what a LOWLIFE he use to be!" Archangel was still uncomfortable around the Cajun thief, ever since the trial, were he learned of Remy's role in the massacre.
"But what were all those images in our heads?……I mean that was worse then a Marilyn Manson video!" Kitty shuddered.
Jean turned her gaze from Remy toward her fellow X-Men, her eyes read but dry, her green eyes piercing. "We were wrong to have condemned Gambit, to have blamed him for the tragedy of the Morlock Massacre! He was not responsible for his actions." Jean's voice was strong and clear, feeling anger toward her self and her team mates for abandoning him in Antarctica before first learning all the facts.
"That's fine for you to say!……..You weren't nearly destroyed and mortally wounded!" Warren glowered.
"Warren,……it was so long ago, and you now have back your wings. Can you not learn to forgive Remy, especially when he suffers so!" Storm looked pleadingly at her team mate.
"NO!……..He knows nothing about suffering! Nothing about pain! Nothing about being manipulated by evil into working as a SLAVE!" Archangel punched a wall in anger.
"Oh Warren! It is you who know nothing! How can you be so quick to judge Remy? Is it not possible that HE TOO was manipulated into working as a Slave, but for Sinister instead of Apocalypse? Holding out though months of physical, emotional and psychological torture, with no chance of deliverance, whether it be a rescue or by a merciful death! How long could any of us stay strong with no hope for freedom?" Jean's voice had started off bitter but had soften. "None of you will understand,………unless you experience it!" She closed her eyes and fed them the memory and more, playing out all three nightmares in order. They felt his fear, his pain, finally understanding why he had worked for Sinister in the first place, and the hopelessness he felt, having no one to turn to. When it was over, even the fierce Wolverine had tears in his eyes.
"I……I had no idea….." Scott frowned, recalling how harsh he had been on Gambit after he returned home from Antarctica.
"He was just a Kid!" Kitty whispered wiping her eyes.
"No wonder he feels apprehensive towards my lab, with a trauma like that!" Beast sighed as he crouched next to Gambit wrapping the blanket back around his shoulders. He appeared to be completely exhausted, and more then slightly embarrassed, his eyes clamped shut.
"Sinister's gonna pay!………..Next time I see that pale, shark tooth, son of a………" Wolverine was mumbling as he turned his back on his team mates, wiping a tear from his eye.
"I need to rest!……….As dose Remy." Jean sighed feeling the weariness soak into her bones. " I can put a temporary block in place to keep him from dreaming………I suggest we reconvene later to night………By then, hopefully I'll have some sort of a plane." With one last sigh, she walked over toward Rouge and Gambit, still huddled on the floor. She smiled down into Rouge's big green eyes, round and wet, like a frightened child. "Come Rouge,……lets take Remy to bed." The young woman nodded, scooping up the semi conscious Cajun in her arms, and walking toward the door. Storm kissed him on his forehead as they passed, warm tears falling from her cheaks, onto his face like rain drops.
As the three made their exist from Beast's lab, the rest of the X-Men were left to contemplate what they had just witnessed.
"A man once told us that no man is an island
But I know a man that thinks hes an island
Drifting out to the sea,
sand in his ears and lies on his tongue.
Jungle grows in your mind
when your an island.
Welcome to the Island of Fear,
the Island of Fear.
Deep down inside he wants out of here,
he wants out of here"
That night after dinner, with Remy's permission, the X-Men assembled in the Reck room, prepared to face the rest of his nightmares together, as a team. He agreed reluctantly, but insisted on some were other then Hank's Lab. Each took a seat, as he lay down on the couch.
"Mais, I don't see why dis be necessary! Ya'all already saw what happened, what more do you need to see!" Gambit folded his arms and frowned.
"Remy, please! I need you to trust us, to open up to us and let us share your burden." Jean said sympathetically.
"I already have!" He huffed. "I appreciate de concern, but I don't want any one's pity! Wolverine doesn't hafta share all his nightmares, why do I?"
"Because yours have been caused by an external force that had broken threw your shields, thus causing you to suffer from delusions. In order for your physic to heal, and the shields rebuilt, we must first flush out these subconscious memories that have gone too long untreated!" Jean sighed as Gambit pouted then nodded his head. "Now just relax and close your eyes." She set a hand on either side of his head.
"Mais, Jennie! I really don' wanna do dis!…………I don't even know what de next bad memory tah pop up is gonna be!…………De firs' t'ree was,………….I jus'………..Why every one gotta see moi shame! Bad enough dey know bout it, wit out seeing it,……..feelin' it!" His voice grew quiet as he shivered.
"We will be with you my friend, no matter what demons emerge! Because that is what family is for, and the X-Men are your family!" Storm held his cold shacking hand in hers, squeezing it tight.
"Ya got that right darlin!" Logan nodded.
"Dis be de last chance fo' any one who what tah cut out!………….You know how bad de others be, dis one prob'ly worse!" Gambit's eyes were pleading with his team mates, begging them to turn away, to leave him be with his nightmares, but at last, they declined his offer and sat still in their chairs, determined to see it threw to the end.
"Every one close your eyes and concentrate! It takes a lot effort to bring you all with me. Remy, you too……….. Don't be scared, were right here with you!" Jean's voice faded as the blackness set in.
"Kneel down, close your eyes, .
hit the ground
I want you to, to kneel all day,
Alone, in this desole cave!
So I say, scream if you want to cause,
No, no one is around.
I want you to, to scream all day," Blue October
"EXCRUCIATING PAIN IN YOUR VEINS
THIS NOXIOUS DRUG IS BURNING YOUR BRAIN
NOW YOU CAN FEEL NO EMOTION
THEY NEUTRALIZED YOUR SENSATION
THEY'VE GOT YOUR SOUL UNDER CONTROL
YOU'RE PRISONER IN THEIR POWER
SUFFERER FROM THESE SORCERERS
YOU MUST COMPLY TO THEIR ORDERS"
They were all there now, just like earlier, once again in the sadistic laboratory of Mister Sinister. Invisible to the memory and unable to intervene. The X-Men looked upon the two figures before them with disgust and anger, as well as fear. The young mutant thief was hanging from the ceiling by shackles and chains, his arms stretched above him as his body weight slowly pulled him down. If left in such a way, eventually it would dislocate his shoulders. His legs were bent, unable to support him, too exhausted and starved to even try. His head hung forward, long greasy hair covering his tortured expression. The beautiful auburn main, was a dark brown, stained with blood and dirt. The boy was painfully thin, nothing more then skin and bone with lean muscles.
Sinister Stood in front of him, a frustrated look apparent on his ghostly white face. He reached out a harsh hand and grabbed the boy's hair, attempting to pull his head back to look into the devil eyes of the defiant youth. Rouge gasped as Sinister's hand slid off of Remy's head, clutching a hand full of stingy hair that had ripped out of his skull with little force, like that of a Leukemia patient's. A slight grown escaped the young man's lips, and Sinister frowned as he tossed the vomit soaked hair aside. He reached out again and held Remy's chin firmly in his hand, raising it to look him in the eyes.
"You are disgusting!………..A pitiful waste of a man who once had so much potential, so much ferocity!…….And now, you are nothing more then a pathetic bag of rotting flesh and bone! Covered in your own foulness, soaked in blood!……………………Why do you still cling to some false sense of hope?……Whispering prays to a God we both know dose not exist" Sinister glared down into the glossed over eyes of a man too old and worn for the years of his body. Yet beneath those dull, lifeless eyes, was a silent strength, a will to perceiver against all odds. Hidden under the mask of fear and pain, those devil eyes laughed at him, taunting him.
"Wha' ya wan' homme?" Remy's dry voice chocked out of his swollen throat, vocal cords strained from screaming, almost beyond repair. He had grown use to the pain, accustomed to the torment that was now his life. He did not care if he lived or died, nothing mattered any more, but still, something inside of him held on. He was born a survivor, determined till the end. And besides, he wouldn't give Sinister the satisfaction of victory, not while he had something to say about it.
"What do I want? What do I want he asks me!" Sinister laughed out loud as he released Remy's chin, letting the youth's head drop down limply. "Why, I want you, Le Dibble Blanc!…………….I want to crush your spirit and brake your will!…….So that you may for now and ever more, call me Master!……….Is that really so much to ask?" Sinister filled a large syringe with thick blue liquid and turned back to the unresponsive youth. "But at last, my patients grows thin, and neither your body nor mind can physical withstand much more ill treatment. I am actually surprised you have survived for this long, little over six months!……..You have left me no choice. If I cannot concur your soul,…………………… then I shall concur your mind!" He plunged the needle deep into Remy's left temple, holding his patients head steady.
"AAAGGHHH!………NON!" Remy's body constricted as shards of pain splintered threw his skull. With in moments he passed out, the last words he heard were Sinister's.
"Sleep now young Gambit, and awake a new man!" He stroked the boys face, with a strange compassion. The way a deranged mother would, right before she drowned her child. Envying the beauty of the life they were about to destroy. The memory faded to blackness and the X-Men found them selves once more in the Reck room.
With their ugly faces
on a day to day basis
Stay calm and try to see this
I'm always sensitive relaxing
Always delicately asking
But I can't seem to fly away
Felling dull, small, shaking and all
And all I want do is cry, fly away "
" Been searching for the place called home
, Always lived my life alone
I know that I've been cold as ice,
Ignored the dreams, too many lies.
Somewhere deep inside
Somewhere deep inside me,
.I found the child I used to be
And I know that it's not too late
Never too late."
School of Fish
Gambit was last to open his eyes. They appeared just as glossy and clouded over as they had in his memory. His face was blank and expressionless as a single tear fell down his cheek, fallowed by a quivering breath. He blinked twice than sat up on the coach rubbing his left temple as a small trickle of blood poured from his ear.
"My word! How interesting! Jean, it would appear as though Gambit's body is acting in concert with his nightmares!" Beast sat next to Remy, pulling out his first aid kit he had brought along just in case. Rouge sat on the other side holding his trembling hand.
"Yes,……it makes sense. Sometimes if the mind tells the body that some thing is happening to it, the body will react accordingly " Jean mused as she stroked Gambit's cheek sympathetically. She stopped as he pulled away, shuddering, his eyes squeezed tight.
"My apologizes Chere,…………….I jus' can' have people touching moi right now………..You be right, ya'll be seeing wha' happened but I be FEELIN' it, and…………..I………..Merd, I need a smoke!" Gambit jumped to his feet and was out the door in seconds. Rouge stood up to fallow but was caught by Logan.
"Not now darlin, give em' a moment tah take a breather. He's got a head full of Sinister and the last thing the Cajun needs right now is us hanging all over him!" Wolverine sighed, understanding Gambit's desire to be alone.
"Who can blame him for being shaken up. With memories like that surfacing after all this time! ………..Jean, how many more of these do we have to go threw?" Scott was visibly disturbed by what he had seen, and was troubled by the fact that as team leader, he had no clear cut way of dealing with the problem or fixing it.
"I really can't be sure Scott. And unfortunately, Remy doesn't know either. These memories are as shocking to him as they are to us, only worse because he is experiencing them all over again. Reliving the physical as well as psychological pain and fear for the second time……………..I just wish there was a way I could repair his shields and treat his flash backs and delusions with out making him suffer threw each nightmare!" She frowned and folded her arms.
"I wish we had found him earlier!………Perhaps then his suffering as well as the slaughter of so many innocents could have been prevented." Storm was a whirl wind of emotions. From sad and sympathetic, to outraged and revengeful. She had placed partial blame on Remy, her brother, for the Morlock massacre. An act which had tainted her love for him, and caused her inner turmoil. But now, She understood the truth, and while her love for him was reconfirmed, her anger was focused on the one person who had seemed to always evade justice, Sinister.
While the conversation continued inside, up on the roof top, a lone man sat in contemplation. Like Stormy, he too was cycling threw emotions. Grief and depression, shame and despair. They were his ever dependable amies. Always there to keep him company and remind him of what he'd done. Now how ever, new feelings were surfacing, ones of humility and anger. He had been used! Like the pone in some sick chest game that he didn't even know he was playing in. He felt as though he had lost complete control over his own head. He was ashamed of his weakness, of his stupidity and the massive destruction it had caused. Yet part of him was a little bit relieved, for at least he did not willingly agree to lead the Marauders into the Morlock tunnels. Perhaps the X-Men would be willing to forgive him. Maybe not totally, but at least they might understand why it all went down the way he did. At least they might stop hating him. Although they never said it, he could read it in their eyes, and it fueled his self hatred like logs in a fire. He stood and sighed, "Lets get dis over wit!"
"It's hi, ho, hey,
I am the bold marauder.
And hi, ho, hey,
I am the white destroyer.
For I will take you out by the hand
And lead you to the hunter
And I will show you thunder and steel
And I will be your teacher
And we will dress in helmet and sword
And dip our tongues in slaughter
And we will sing a warrior's song
And lift the praise of murder"
All was silent once more as Gambit took his place on the coach, determination etched across handsome face. The X-Men all took their seats, whispering words of encouragement to their team mate. Jean placed her hands over his head, inhaling deeply.
"Remy, are you sure your ready?……….We can wait a while……." He interrupted her by nodding his head sharply, his eyes already closed.
"I gotta get dis don an' over wit!" He drew in a long calming breath, then let himself drift off.
There was complete darkness, then a small flicker of light at the end of the hallow tunnel. The X-Men watched in silence as the light drew nearer, silent foot steps creeping behind it. The figure became visible as the eerie pink glow of his cards, lit up his young face. Gambit was dressed in his uniform, trench coat raped wrapped around him. His hair was clean, but had been cut shorter, curling under his jaw and over his dead eyes. Once glowing with a passion and lust for life, his demonic eyes were now vacant, the brilliant crimson dull and faded. His handsome face was blank, not like his poker face, where one could only guess what mischief his cunning mind was planning. No, the blankness was obvious, showing a complete lack of feelings or thought, almost robotic. It was apparent even in his body language, his walk, though still soundless, was flat and automatic as apposed too his usual care free swagger. To his observing friends he appeared so unfamiliar, like an imposter was wearing his face.
Gambit passed his on looking friends and stopped right outside of a metal door, giving two short knocks, pause, two more, then one final one. The door slid open, dingy light flooded the entrance as he stepped inside. In the small tattered room, stood the Marauders, weapons loaded and ready for battle. As the young Cajun thief stepped inside a growled erupted from a dark corner.
"What the FUCK is HE doing here!" Sabertooth jumped out from the shadows snarling at the boy in front of him.
"He's working with us now, so BACK OFF! Or Sinister will use you as a lab rat!" Vertigo spat at the fierce animal.
"This kid! Ya gotta be kidding me!………I had a run in with him two years ago, he weren't no goody-goody, but he weren't exactly Sinister material either!" Sabartooth grinned maliciously at the thief, as he licked his lips. "You 'member me don't ya little boy!…………..Hanging that little slut, French whore of yours and your older brother off the Notre Dame!…………Ya wanna know the best part of that whole night?" He stood inches away from Gambit, who looked upon the large drooling animal with little more then vague recognition, not even blinking as he spoke. "I FUCKED that little bitch's brains out while your thieve Guild brother jerked off in the corner!" He laughed sadistically as for a moment Remy's eyes flared. Suddenly, a glowing card appeared from no where and was shoved down the monster's throat, fallowed by a right hook and a spinning side kick that sent him flying against the wall. He hit it just as the card exploded, blowing off his jaw and tongue. Stunned, he scrambled to his feet, and begain to charge just as Sinister entered the room.
"STOP!" He held up his arms. Sabortooth growled as his jaw began to mend. Gambit, who stood waiting for his attack, let his charged cards fizzle out. His eyes were once more lifeless, his fleeting passion gone. "What happened here!" Sinister ordered.
"Yer new pet just took my jaw off!" Sabertooth growled.
"He was a threat." His voice was monotone, with only the slightest hint of his Cajun accent. "It wont happen again Master." Gambit's face remained neutral as the Marauders began to laugh.
"Good! See that it doesn't!" He nodded as he stood next to his newest recruitment and began stroking his hair.
"Well, I guess that chemical shit worked huh boss!" Riptide grinned at the submissive youth.
"Yes, I have preformed a Chemical Lobotomy on our young friend here, leaving him fully functional but with no stubborn will of his own. He understands now that he is my property, to do with as I please. However, the treatment is only semi-permanent, and could lapse if emotionally triggered. That is why I have hired you, Sabertooth!………..In case young Remy LeBeau should suddenly find him self unable to continue with the operation, and ONLY then, you are to kill him, before he can hinder our plans!" Sinister held Remy's head against his shoulder, petting his auburn hair. "Though I sincerely hope the treatment will hold! It's been so nice having a child around, even one as head strong as he!"
Sabertooth studied the boy, slightly off settled by Sinisters affections toward him.
"So lemmie get this strait bub! You pumped his brain with some of yer mad scientist shit, and now he's a zombie?"
"In a matter of speaking, yes!……………..He will obey and fallow any order I give him, as long as the treatment holds. I had hoped to accomplish the same thing by breaking his sprit, which would have a far more permanent effect, but time is of the essence, and you never know if that fool Xavier and his band of X-Men will interfere!" Sinister frowned at his own words, and angrily griped the boys hair. Gambit's face remained blank despite the pain from his hair being yanked.
"Don't you worry Boss man! We'll take out those Morlock scum and any body else that gets in our way!" Archlight sneered.
"Ignorant fool! It took all of you just to apprehend one adolescent thief from the bayou,….." He shook Remy by his hair, then brought him in to his chest. "….let alone an X-Man."
"Hey! You wanted the pretty boy alive! We may be lousy kiddy nappers, but were damn good at killing!" Harpoon snorted.
"I suppose that is true enough. As mercenaries you tend to get the job done,…………………. but fail me tonight, and I will strap each of you to a slab, that is a promise!" Sinister turned his attention to the youth in his arm. Turning the boy to face him, he held his face in his hands. "Gambit, what are your orders." He grinned his piranha teeth at the young man, as he pet the side of his face.
"I am to lead the Marauders threw de tunnels." Gambit stated in his drone like voice.
"And then?" Sinister's eyes glowed.
"We kill all of de genetically impure." Remy's voice was so emotionless, that even Sinister was surprised.
"Good Boy! Serve me well, and you will be rewarded!" Sinister gazed at the boy with a look that gave even Sabertooth the creeps. "You really are a pretty child! A genetic model of near perfection. Let us hope you do as your told, if not……….." He frowned and nodded to Sabertooth. "You know what to do!" With that he was gone, and silently, Gambit led them into the dark tunnels, sealing the fate of the Morlock race for ever.
"Chopping blood gushing arteries drain
onto blue and black skin
Twisting and cutting through human flesh
and the bone that holds you together
Crippled by the knife Bloody
- rotted - body Deep inside,
burning pain and hate Beaten to death
- the maggots will infest - you
In this life I crave to kill
my love of death will never end
Vicious - homicidal
internal organ removal
More pain to endure
the threat to kill more and more
Deep inside, burning pain and hate
Beaten to death - desecrate the dead"
SIX FEET UNDER
" NO ESCAPE, YOU WILL DIE!
NOBODY WILL SURVIVE
DEATH WARRIORS WITHOUT FEAR
DESTROYING ALL AROUND
THEY ARE BACK, BACK TO KILL
WITH VIOLENCE AND BLOODSHED
STAND IN THEIR WAY OR RUN AWAY
THEY'RE BACK TO SLAY
KEEP OUT OF THEIR WAY
IT'S TIME TO PRAY
THEY'RE HERE TO STAY
IN THE DARK OF THE NIGHT
THEY ARE BACK TO ATTACK
HEAR THEIR SCREAMS
HEAR YOUR CRIES
NO PITY PEOPLE DIE"
The X-Men watched in horror as their team mate and friend led the vicious gang of murderers threw the maze of tunnels until they came to the nest of sleeping mutants. Men, women and children, all innocent, all soon to be dead. With knots in their stomachs they gazed helplessly as the Massacre ensued. For many of them, it was worse then they remembered, blood and guts spraying threw the room. The tortured screams and agonizing mones was almost too much to handle and Jean began to withdrawal. She stopped as she saw Gambit, Standing in the entrance way of the tunnel. His team mates watched him, afraid of what he might do, or really, had already done.
He stood still as a statue, cards raised and ready to be thrown. Yet he could not do it. He knew what his orders were, but something prevented him from fallowing them. A young man with orange skin, only a few years older then he, landed at his feet after Rip-tide had swept him up. He was bleeding badly, blood pouring from his noise, mouth and ears. With dispirit eyes he clung to Remy, bloody hands gripping the bottom of his trench coat. Gambit stared down at the dying man, unsure of how to respond.
"Don't just stand there LeBeau! WAST 'EM!" Sabertooth laughed, licking the blood off his claws. Remy looked at Sabertooth, then to the dying man. He charged his cards, ready to strike, when the man cried out.
"P…P..Please!…………I don't want to die! Please, Please Don't kill me!" He sobbed, hugging Gambit's legs. The look in the man's eyes was familiar, something he'd seen before. Out of reflex he knelt down, cradling the man. Images flipped threw his head, family, friends, New Orleans, then Gennive was in his arms, that look in her eyes as she faded away.
"Non!" Remy gasped as he watched the man choke his last breath. "NOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNN!" He screamed, his mind gaining control as the chemicals subsided. It was like waking up from a bad dream, only to realize that reality was a nightmare. The smell of innocent blood was the first thing he sensed as the slaughter carried on around him. Then, bone chilling screams pierced his ears along with mad, sadistic laughter.
"Run little children! Run, Run, RUN!" Vertigo laughed as she cornered a group of morlock children. Instantly, Remy reacted, cards flying from his hand with deadly accuracy. The impact rendering her temporarily unconscious. He then turned his powers on Rip-Tide and Harpoon, distracting and injuring them as their victims fled. By now his betrayal had been realized and Sabertooth was headed strait for him, a blood thirsty grin spreading over his face.
Wolverine growled as the memory played out before his eyes. He drew his claws and ran toward Creed only to sale right threw him.
"Logan,……it's only a memory!…….There is nothing we can do." Jean bit her lip as they watched in dismay as Sabertooth descended upon the young Gambit, his claws out stretched. Gambit fought back with every thing he had, using his speed and agility to out maneuver his massive attacker. Each time he blew him away with a hand full of cards, the growling predator was back for more, healing as they fought. Remy used his bow to block the wild slashes of the mad beast. Striking him with enough force to shatter bones, only for them to re-heal, again, and again.
"Common Remy, common!" Rouge cried out, denying the inevitable truth.
Finally, with one lucky slash of his claws and a block executed a fraction too late, Remy fell to the ground grasping his chest, blood spilling out of him. He was kneeling in front of the ruthless animal, his crimson eyes glowing, staring up at him in exhaustion . Sabertooth raised his claws again, a hunger for death in his eyes. Then suddenly he stopped, and a look, almost like pity washed over his snarling face.
"Do it!……….. What are you waiting for?………..Just do it!" Remy yelled, his throat filled with vomit.
"Naw,………your just a Kid!……..Better tah let you suffer a bit, then when your older will spare again, and this time, for keeps!….It's more fun that way!" He laughed before turning away, back to the slaughter at hand. Gambit crawled away, grasping his wounded chest. From the corner of his eye, he saw a small girl, bones sticking out of her body. At first he was sickened, as he thought, "What have dey done to her!" But then he realized there was no blood on her. Disparately, he picked himself up and ran to her, hurtling the dead bodies as he went. He grabbed the child and held her tight to him, her bones cutting into him. Then he ran, he ran as hard and as fast as he could, dogging threw the tunnel system, trying to get away from the screaming and the death.
"Truth evaded, conjuring excuses to be made.
Memory is fragmented I wallow in decay.
My dreams are blurred with consciousness,
the night seeps into day"
Remy collapsed onto the floor as tears filled his shocked eyes.
"Shhhh, petite,……..It's alright now,…..Remy got ya,………..ya be safe!………..I know ya ain't gonna understand dis now,……………….but, I'm sorry!" He broke into a sob as he clutched the small girl, her bones piercing his skin. Footsteps echoed in a near by tunnel and voices could be heard.
"This way,……..all of you! We must escape!……..Hurry!" Calisto's voice boomed. Gambit released the child and told her to call out to Calisto, then he ran the other way. He knew Sabertooth could smell his blood, better to lead them away from the surviving Morlocks. He ran again, blindly threw the tunnels. His head was spinning as he crashed against the walls, the taste of his own blood causing him to vomit. Distorted sounds echoed off the tunnel walls, as he ran toward the light. His pain was over whelming, but not more then his fear of Sinister, of ending up back on his exam table. That alone drove him on, into the New York Subway station, threw the crowds of people, up the down escalator, and onto the streets.
It was his first time above ground in over six months and he practically screamed in relief, but for the still present danger he knew he was in and the bleeding wound in his chest. The lights were so bright, stinging his eyes, and there were so many people, and so much noise, he felt over whelmed and disoriented. He stumbled out into traffic, cars screeching to a stop. A yellow cab slammed on it's brakes as Gambit rolled up onto the hood. Pain shot threw his body as he slid off the car. The driver got out and screamed at the barley conscious man gasping for air.
"Hey you Fucking Moron!………What the hell you think your doing!" He stopped cold when Remy opened his frantic eyes.
"Si Vous Plate!………Hospital!" He gasped threw broken ribs and blood filled lungs.
"Your one of them freakin muties!" He shook his head getting back in his cab.
"Hungh,…..uuhh,………wait!" He was blacking out, the pain slicing threw him, making it difficult to breath. He pulled out a roll of 100 dollar bills from one of his many trench coat pockets and held it up, his breath wheezing.
"You,…..you said the Hospital right?" He helped Gambit to his feet and eased him into the cab, greedily taking the money.
"Drive,………..NOW!" He gasped as his vision blurred in and out of focus.
"Ok, Ok,………take it easy will ya,…………say,….Oh my,…….your bleeding all over the fucking seat!….Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Buddy!………You get stabbed or something!" The driver weaved in and out the busy New York traffic, dispirit to get the mutie out of his cab as soon as possible.
"Or something!………Uhhggh,…..huuuuhhh…" Remy gasped, his body shaking, then every thing went black.
The X-Men stared at one another in the darkness of Remy's mind, unsure what to say.
"Is,……Is that it?…….Is it over?" Cyclops asked in a melancholy tone.
"No,…….it's not." Jean sighed.
"Ah can't believe it……It was so horrible!……..Ah mean,……I read about it in the Professor's files,……..even saw pictures but, tah actually see it!…….Ah……" Young Samuel Gunther turned away from his team mates with tears in his eyes. Kitty wrapped an arm around his shoulders.
"I know Sam,…………but can you imagine how Gambit must feel?" She looked at her friends.
"It don't make no sense!……..Why didn't Ah see all this when we kissed?………I only saw him there, Sabertooth slashing him and him saving Sarah. I felt his guilt and shame,…………….. but not all the other stuff!……..The important stuff!" Rouge hung her head. "If I had known the truth,……the whole truth that is,………I woulda never left him in Antarctica!"
"You didn't see any of his other memories because his mind had suppressed them. The only reason he remembers the Massacre is because his guilty conscience won't let him forget!" Jean was beginning to feel burned out. Maybe Logan was right, maybe she did bit off more then she could chew.
"A Chemical Lobotomy is indeed a horrible form of mind control. I'm sure it has caused him significant brain dysfunction, perhaps explaining the unusual strength of his physic shields, despite having no known telepathic abilities." Beast pondered.
"What I wanna know is, why was Sinister all ga-ga over Gambit?……The way he kept petting em' gave me the creeps!" Wolverine shuttered.
Silence overtook them, while they pondered the uncomfortable thought. Bishop was just about to make a comment when another memory came into focus.
"I can't remember anything
Can't tell if this is true or dream
Deep down inside I feel to scream
This terrible silence stops in me
Now that the war is through with me
I'm waking up, I cannot see
That there is not much left of me
Nothing is real but pain now"
Metallica - One
Remy opened his eyes, then shut them quickly. Pain shooting threw them, the bright lights of the hospital stinging like smoke blown in his face. He let out a slight moan as the physical pain from his injuries as well as mental came crushing down on him. For some reason, his memory was clouded, but threw the foggy haze, flashes of horrific images flooded his brain. Death, the death of hundreds! Was he responsible? Yes, he led the Marauders strait to them, but why? He remembered working for Sinister as a thief, and then,……………….and then he led the Marauders threw the tunnels so that………..so they could wipe out the "genetically unfit." His stomach constricted and he felt ill. How could he have done such a thing, why would he? An anguished cry erupted from his throat as the faces of the dead plagued his guilt ridden mind.
"Well, well! It looks like our MUTANT John Doe finally woke up. The cops wanna talk with you!" The nurse's tone was bitter and disgusted. He listened with closed eyes as her squeaky tennis shoes marched down the hall. Gambit tried to get up but realized his right hand had been handcuffed to the hospital bed. With an annoyed sigh, he peeked open his blurry, sore eyes and carefully pulled out the IV needle, the sensation of the metal in his skin sending a strange surge of fear threw him. With nimble fingers he used the needle to unlock the hand cuffs, all the while ignoring the throbbing pain in his chest and rib cage. Moments later he was on his feet, biting back the nauseating pain that flowed like waves threw his body. His clothes were all gone, likely confiscated by the police. His trench coat with all his best lock pick tools and his custom made metal boots and retractable bow staff, all gone! Resigned to that fact, he slid off his hospital gown and found a pair of soaks, Sweats and sweat shirt in a drawer. He heard her voice and two others headed toward the room. Swiftly as an injured cat, he climbed out the window onto the edge.
"Merd!" He swore, realizing he was on the third floor. "Dis gonna hurt!" He muttered as he leapt off the ledge and swung onto a tree branch, feeling his stitches start to rip and his broken rips grind together. With many painful grunts, he climbed down the tree, almost passing out from the pain as he landed on his wobbly legs.
"Hey! Where'd he go!" The cop yelled.
"The Freak went out the window!" Another of NYPD's finest observed. Using a broken limb from the tree, the mutant thief limped away, cursing as he went.
There comes a time
Got no patience to search
For peace of mind Layin' low
Want to take it slow
No more hiding or
Disguising truths I've sold
Everyday it's something
Hits me all so cold
Find me sittin' by myself
No excuses, then I know"
Alice in Chains
Two blocks away, he collapsed in exhaustion, feeling almost numb from the pain. In front of him was an old church, one that reminded him of home, of New Orleans. It's gray stone face loomed over him, like the eyes of god passing judgment on his sinful soul. With out any real reason, he was suddenly compelled to enter the sanctuary, perhaps longing for the peaceful embrace the church had always offered him. In a matter of moments he found himself crawling up the stone staircase and pushing open the mighty doors with an agonizing moan. Once inside he heaved a heavy sigh, ready to let the warmth and glow of gods love wash over him, the way he always imagined it had when he was a boy. A minute passed, then another, and he opened his demonic eyes, wondering why if any thing, he felt more alone and empty then ever before. A cold shiver ran down his spine and his aching body throbbed. Remy gasped as the light of the stained glass windows cast a bloody red tint over the vacant pupiles. Even the red carpet that led to the statue of the crucified messiah was like a stream of blood, innocent blood, Morlock blood.
Dragging himself down the aisle, his red on black eyes locked on the wooden face of Jesus Christ, his expression righteous, unwavering, and perhaps,………..unfeeling. Gambit fell to his knees in front of the holy statue, looking up at him for the fist time in .anger and resentment. So what if he died for all man's sins? That didn't ease Remy's guilt ridden conscious. For some one who claims to be the son of god, he sure did pick a lousy way to save humanity! Remy thought bitterly. Why sacrifice your self for the wicked and sinful, when the good and innocent suffer from their cruelty? His generous gift to mankind didn't keep the Morlocks from being slaughtered!
"Where were you?……………..WHERE!" Gambit whispered, then exploded in rage.
"Was it some kinda joke?…….To create a people who spend dere whol' lives hidden in sewers, sufferin', just t'be wiped out by a handful of Scum?!" He was shaking as his hands began to glow. "What kinda SICK FUCK are you? What kinda GOD lets dat happen!"
"You shall not speak ill of the Lord in his own house! The one true God in heaven dose not need to explain him self. It is not for us to question him, but only to accept that his will be done!" A soft but stern voice echoed behind the Cajun as the priest rest his hand on the boys shoulder. The condescending words, however they were meant to comfort, only fueled his rage as Gambit spun around to face the older man.
"DAT AINT GOOD 'NOUGH!……………….HE CAN' JUST GO RUININ' PEOPLE'S LIVES FOR DE HELL OF IT!……….WHAT GIVE 'EM DE RIGHT TO MAKE US, ONLY TO LET US SUFFER!" The preist gasped as he looked into the young man's eyes.
"The……..The DEVIL!………….The DEVIL has entered GOD'S HOUSE!" He fell back away from Gambit, grabbing a Bible and holding it out before him, as if to ward of the demonic red eyes that glowed in anger.
"AAAGGGHHHHH!…………I AM NOT DE DEVIL YOU IGNORANT FOOL!………..I AM JUST A MUTANT, A HUMAN!" Remy screamed in frustration as he watched the priest's eyes grow in fear.
"YOUARE AN ABOMINATION!………ALL MUTANTS ARE THE SPAWN OF THE DEVIL! HE WHO BESTOWS UNATURAL POWERS TO HIS CHILDREN FROM HELL!…………WHY HAS HE SENT YOU HERE DEMON? TO KILL ME!" The white haired priest lunged for ward and began striking Gambit with the Bible, determined to drive the demon away. Remy grabbed the leather bound book and pushed the old man to the ground.
"YOU KNOW NOTHING OF GOD OR OF SATAN! I'VE SEEN DE DEVIL! WORKED FOR HIM! AND NOW MY HANDS ARE SOKED IN INNCOCENT BLOOD, MUTANT BLOOD! IF GOD WAS REAL HE WOULD HAVE SAVED THOSE WHO PRAYED FOR HIS MERCY! INSTEAD OF LETTING 'EM GET MASACURED BY THE DEVIL'S HOUNDS! IF GOD WAS REAL HE WOULD HAVE LET ME DIE!" Tears streamed down the young thief's face as he began ripping out pages of the Bible and throwing them at the horrified priest who was clutching his rosary and mumbling prayers.
"DON'T YOU GET IT! HE DOSEN'T EXSIT! DERE AIN'T NO GOD, NO HEVEN!…………..only hell! And dats were I'm going!" He fell to his knees again and began to sob, hugging the torn book to his chest.
"Get…Get out of h..here,…demon!" The preist protested as he stumbled to his feet, feeling more confidant as he watched the young man crying before him. "I said GO!….Leave the house of God. You are not welcomed here!" Threw tear filled eyes Remy looked up pitifully at the priest, who's own gray eyes were as cold as ice, his expression one of disgust. The look was enough to bring the mutant out of his despair and fill him once more with rage.
"FUCK YOU AND YOUR GOD!" He screamed still sobbing as he hurled the charged remains of the shredded Bible toward the lifeless statue. The face of the messiah was blank as the book exploded on impact. Sending splinters of Jesus and his cross flying threw the red church, shattering the stained glass windows. White light from out side pierced threw the dark redness like water washing over blood. Threw the thick fog of smoke Remy vanished as police sirens closed in on the church, aware that a mutant under police custody had escaped from the near by hospital. The priest lay on the floor gasping for air and clutching his heart. He whispered a mumbled prayer, then passed out.
………………………………..."wish you would step back
from that ledge my friend,
You could cut ties with all the lies,
that you've been living in,
And if you do not want to see me again,
I would understand. I would understand,
The angry boy, a bit too insane,
Icing over a secret pain,
You know you don't belong,
You're the first to fight,
You're way too loud,
You're the flash of light,
On a burial shroud,
I know something's wrong,
Well everyone I know has got a reason,
To say, put the past away,"
Third Eye Blind
"I kept the right ones out And Let the wrong ones in
Had an angel of mercy to see me through all of my sins
There were times in my life when I was going insane
Trying to walk trough the pain
When I lost my gripe and I hit the floor
Yhea I thought I could leave but couldn't get out the door
I was so sick and tired of livin' a lie
I was whishing that I would die"
The X-Men were numb as the memory faded out to blackness. There was nothing to be said, no words of wisdom or after thoughts to be shared. No sly remarks or sarcastic comments could be made. No chiding, criticizing, or reprimanding seemed appropriate. Jean sighed as she released her mental hold on her friends, allowing them to slip back into their physical bodies. Each opened their eyes and blinked in surprise to find Gambit gone. This time he had been the first to awake and made his exit in hast, wanting more then any thing to be left alone but desperately needing his friend's warm embrace. However, like always, he indulged what he wanted and ignored what he needed, fearing their inevitable rejection. They had barley come back to their senses, when the roar of Remy's new Harley took off, speeding down the drive way and threw the gate.
Jean heaved a heavy sigh of exhaustion, as Scott knelt down beside her, placing his hand over hers. She smiled weakly at him, then looked mournfully at the empty coach. Rouge had tears in her eyes as she lay down on it, hugging the warmth Remy's body had left behind. For a few moments, they sat in a contemplative silence until at last some one spoke.
"I understand now………….why Remy has lost his faith…….Both in God,……and in man kind." Night crawler mused respectively.
"Remy has always been a lost soul. Threw out his life he has experienced many hardships, and has tasted only the bitter fruits of betrayal from those he loved and trusted……………..I brought him here in the hopes that we could offer him the home he never really had. Be the family he so desperately yearned for……and……….In truth, I think we were, for a while at least…….Though he offers his loyalty and his love with far more ease then his trust……………..And then,…………..when we discovered his dark secret, his hidden guilt and shame,………………how quick we were to abandon him. Just like all of those before us!…………..And we wonder why he never opens up,……..never lets his guard down……..After all the times he has been there for us,……….we rejected him when he needed us the most!" Storm's voice was hallow and her gaze vacant.
Everyone in the room hung their heads in shame as if realizing for the first time how devastating their abandonment must have been.
"Ah don't know how he survived…………….How he found the strength tah pull threw……….after what ah said to him." Rouge whispered as her tears soaked into the coach.
"What did you say to him Rouge?………..Before you left him….(to die)….in Antarctica." Beast tried to hid his resentment, keeping part of his question to himself. He knew the blame was not only hers to bare.
"Ah……Ah told him,…….that I could never understand him……then he said he'd earned mah hatred, but tah at least get him some place were he might have a chance tah get back home…………..then Ah……Ah told 'em he ain't got no home, not with me……..not with the X-Men…………Ah tol 'em,…….fend for yourself. You seem to have done a good job of that in the past!" She buried her face in the cushions of the coach and cried softly as she inhaled the aroma of tobacco and French cologne he left behind.
"It wasn't your place to say that Rouge." Cyclops voice was not harsh or condemning. It was unusually soft and empathetic.
"Ah….know." She whispered.
"Ain't really yer fault darlin!……If it had been me left with the Cajun,…….well…… lets just say I'm glad it weren't." Wolverine sighed. "I always knew Gumbo was one screwed up kid……….just never let it show………He's got that survival instinct,….knows that if yer enemy smells weakness, they'll use it against ya, and tear ya tah pieces."
"So instead he lets his guilt tear at his soul." Psylock added in silent comprehension.
"Guess he feels it's better then opening himself up,……..leaving him self vulnerable." Ice man stated bluntly, as if, finally understanding, at least a little, who Gambit was.
"He has spent so many years hiding the pain deep in his soul. The fear and the loneliness gave way to the shame and the guilt. Yet he finds his self hatred safe,..……. He uses it like a crutch." Jean's red lips were arched in a frown.
"We'll then we will have to become it's replacement. Let him lean on us instead of himself for a change. We are after all his comrades, yes?" Peter had remained silent threw out the day, as his long standing feelings and perceptions of his Creole team mate had been suddenly challenged by what he saw and felt.
"It's just that Gambit has always seemed so allusive, and mysterious. Not exactly the kind of guy who comes to cry on your shoulder." Kitty shrugged.
"This is true Kitten, but even the lone wolf, must come home to his pack. And when he is injured, it is up to his brethren to help him lick his wounds." Nightcrawler was perched upside down from the ceiling, hanging by his tail, arms folded.
"Remy once confided in me, that after the banishment from his Guild, he traveled the world with only one purpose, the thrill of the pinch. He craved the adrenalin rush, the anticipation that led up to it, and the exhilaration of getting away with it. He compared the intense feelings to that of a drug, claming he became addicted to the excitement. But threw it all, the thieving, the drinking, the girls, the reckless abandonment that allowed him to be so care free, all he could think about was going home." Beast smiled sadly as he recalled the conversation. "He recited for me a most interesting poem, that was passed down amongst the guild as sort of a mantra. They would sing it in celebration as a toast and would chant it at funerals after the priest would say his final words." Hank paused as if remembering it. "We pledge our lives to the Guild, Threw tears we've shed and blood we've spilled, And though we forge our lives in sin, our love is strong for clan and Kin, As thick as thieves we're loyal and true, honor bound our blood runs blue, With pride we hold our heads up high, may our courage and strength never die, And when we heave our final breath, let us laugh in the face of death!" He finished with a thoughtful smile.
"Sounds like that coulda been written 'bout the X-Men, 'sept for the sinning………and we don't really spill all that much blood,…………and the thieving part too." Sam scratched his head, and the melancholy mood broke, if only for a moment as they chuckled.
"I think your absolutely right Sam,.…...although I have to admit, I have never considered the thought of the X-men having the least bit in common with the New Orleans Thieves Guild. But.……..I can certainly see how Gambit may make that connection." Cyclops smiled as he stroked his chin.
" They were his family, as we our now…….Today he has shared with us some of his most painful memories. And just as Logan and Bobby have mentioned, he is undoubtedly feeling vulnerable, having shown us what he perceives as weakness and his humility over that……..Gambit is a very proud man, but a lot of his cocky fool-heartedness is just a façade……….Let us prove to him once and for all that the X-Men ARE his family,……………and he need not hide from us or fear our rejection!" Beast ended his speech by laying back in the recliner, arms folded.
"But how do we offer him our compassion, with out him mistaking it for pity. He would be insulted and feel as though our emotional out pour was nothing more then a form of charity." Bishop was contemplating his question even as he asked it, completely genuine in his concern. Half the team looked at him with jaws dropped, and the other half, a bemused smile, like that of the Monna Lisa. After a moment of silence he looked up at the others. "What?" Was all he said.
"Nothing,……nothing at all." Kitty grinned.
"Didn't think ya much cared for the Cajun, what with all yer talk about him betraying us in the Future." Wolverine questioned.
"Although I still have some uncertainties concerning Mousier LeBeau, I have also gone on several missions with him and have grown to respect him, perhaps………………even like him,…….a little." Bishop frowned at Wolverine's smile. He was about to say some thing when Warren began to speak.
"I will be the first to admit that I have not always felt fondly toward Gambit,…………especially after the trial in Antarctica…………But I think part of me was just jealous, considering I had always been the resident Lady killer,……." He smiled wryly. "until he walked threw the door!" Every one gave a small chuckle.
"That's soooooo not true!……..I've had way more girl friends then you Angle!" Bobby protested.
"You most certainly have not!"
"Wanna bet!……Lucy, Shara, Janette,………"
"You took them on one date each and they never called you back!"
"So!….I'm just getting warmed up. Let's see, Krisy, Beth, Debbie, Dannia, Kristina……"
"Wait!…Krisy and Kristina were the same girl!"
"Uh…….gentle men? I believe we may have more pressing matters at hand." Beast grinned.
"Yhea, besides, every one knows Gumbo's got ya both beat ten fold!" Wolverine Laughed.
"Can we PLEASE not talk about Remy's past affairs!……….He's done an' over with those days,………told me him self!" Rouge huffed as she folded her arms.
"No offense darlin,………I know the Cajun's been true to his word,………..but don't go thinking for a minute that wile you were all drollin over Joe,…….he wasn't getting his rocks off some where else!" Wolverine pointed at her.
"Logon!…..Was it really necessary to tell her that?" Ororo rose an eye brow.
"Probably not……….But she ought tah know that you can't keep toying with a man like a yoyo,…….even one as love sick as Gambit……..cuse' eventually the cord's gonna snap,…..and he's gonna roll away." Wolverine nodded at Rouge.
"Ah guess I do jerk him around a bit,………don't ah?" She whispered as her cheeks flushed.
"Uh, YHEA!" A chorus of voices replied.
"I mean, Gambit could get any girl Rouge. I mean ANY girl! Just by winking at them!" Kitty's eyes glazed over as a distant smile covered her lips. The same look was apparent on all the women's faces.
"Or the way he kinda half grins at you. Like you know what he's thinking, but he's too much of a gentle man to say it out loud." Psylock ran her fingers over her lips.
"Well, I for one…" Warren was interrupted by Jean.
"I think what it is,……..is the way he stares into your eyes while your speaking with him. So intense, like you're the most captivating creature he's ever laid eyes on!" Jean's voice was soft and dreamy. Scott frowned.
"That's just because his eyes look like that!" Cyclops protested.
"Have you ever danced with him?………It is as though you are floating on air, gliding threw the clouds. His steps are so light and swift, his eyes fiercely passionate, his hold soft but firm,……….. comforting to the touch………….Each move he makes is flawless, graceful and elegant,…….yet masculine and powerful. The same way he fights." Storm was swaying in her seat, eyes closed as if she were dancing.
"Uh,…..ladies, I do believe we were discussing…………" Hank began.
"It's the way he walks."
"The way he talks."
"Ok!…We get it!" Bobby huffed. Wolverine chuckled at their expressions.
"Ohew, or the way he sips his coffee in the morning,…….with his hair all messy after staying out all night!" Kitty grinned.
"I do not believe that further discussion of this topic is prudent!" Even Bishop was becoming jealous.
"Naw suga!……..It's just him!……The smell of fancy tobacco and expensive cologne……..That smooth Cajun accent that sounds the way dark chocolate tastes………That devilish grin on his angle face as he undresses you with those burning eyes…………Yes, mamn!………There ain't no two ways 'bout it……I do declare that I love that Cajun scoundrel,……..even in his darkest moments!………And lord knows we just saw a heap full!" Rouge sighed as she twisted a lock of hair around her finger.
"Let us refocus the conversation." Night crawler took a deep breath. "We agree as a team and as a family, that we must reach out to Gambit in this, his time of need." He paused as the others nodded. "Then what are we waiting for?"
"We're still trying tah figure out how tah be there for the kid with out bruising his ego." Logan grunted, understanding better then most how the Cajun probably felt.
"Well, we all must let him know that he is forgiven." Cyclops said sternly and was answered by rapid nods.
"Yes but, being forgiven is not the same as being embraced and feeling welcomed!" Storm offered.
"He needs to know that we do not think any less of him, and that his guilt and self blame are uncalled for." Beast mused.
"Easier said then done!" Kitty pouted.
"Remy can be 'bout as stubborn as a Jackass an' as ornery as a rattle snake!…….Once he puts his mind to something, he don't let off….…'Specially when it comes tah condemning himself………….Ya' know, I really do think he believes he was born bad!" Rouge sighed.
"His mother." Storm said quietly.
"His mother always told him………………….. that his eyes were the mark of the devil…………….That he was born in sin and so was wicked and evil." Ororo fixed her gaze on the floor, half regretting telling her team mates but also relieved that the others may understand. After a moment of silence, Sam spoke.
"Pardon me mame,………but I thought y'all said he was stolen from the hospital as a babe?" The confusion spread on their faces.
"No Sam,…………that is a lie………..His mother was…………a lady of the evening,……..or as Remy put it, a "working girl."………….She died of an over dose from heroin when he was 4 or 5.………That's how he ended up on the streets." She rubbed her temples.
"So he lied to us,…….and to the Professor." Cyclops's tone was surprisingly indifferent.
"Charles knows the truth……………I told him………..But we both agreed that to let Remy sugar coat his childhood, would allow him to maintain his dignity." Storm faced the others. " The only reason I told you now is to explain why this problem can not be simply swept under the rug or fixed by a group hug."
"No,…….but it's a start. Let us go to him now, and let the healing began. It will take time, but with the support of his comrades, his wounds will heal." Peter rose to his feet.
"I concur!" Beast nodded.
"What are we waiting for?………Lets go get us a Cajun!" Wolverine was all ready at the door.
"Yes, let us show him the true meaning of forgiveness…………both mortal,…….and perhaps, divine." Kurt thought out loud as he too rose and began heading for the door.
" Just be careful suga!………..Religion's a touchy subject for Remy." Rouge fallowed as the team made their way toward the hanger
"Do you know where he is Jean?" Cyclops asked once they were in the black bird.
"Yes,……..he's headed for…..the city,………I think he's going to………..the church." Her voice became solemn. They sat in silence as cerbro fed the location to the black bird, all were nervous at what they might happen when they got there.
Yet why did I allow that man
To touch my soul and teach me love?
He treated me like any other, He gave me his trust
He called me brother. My life he claims for God above,
Can such things be? For I had come to hate the world.
This world that always hated me.
Take an eye for an eye!
Turn your heart into stone!
This is all I have lived for!
This is all I have known! -LES MISERABLES-
The lone thief parked his motorcycle out side of the cold, gray church. The sky was lit by lighting, a chilled rain fell in heavy drops, soaking his trench coat. His face was masked in deep shadows, dark and foreboding, matching the mood he was in. Silently he surmounted the stone steps with far greater ease then the last time he sought sanctuary. Pausing only for a moment, he inhaled the feeling of guilt and shame, letting it drench his soul like the icy rain on his back. The doors creaked open, as the figure cloaked in shadow entered the musty old church.
Gambit sighed in recognition as he saw the great statue of Jesus at the head of the church. Why had he come here, he didn't know. Some how, his bike found it's way threw the winding streets and back ally ways to this ancient church deep in the heart of Hell's Kitchen. A flood of rage and despair boiled inside him at the memory of the priest. Yet despite his grief, for what ever reason, this time felt different. Slowly he made his way down the isle, that had been re-carpeted in gold and light blue, his eyes locked on the statue that had been rebuilt to replace the one he had destroyed. There was some thing warm and comforting about the holy figure, drawling him nearer. In the back of his mind he realized that this vision of Jesus was not one of pain and sorrow, of a ragged Skelton nailed to a cross. The Messiah was standing tall, dressed in white, with a benevolent look on his face, the way the son of God ought to. The lit candles in the church gave off a heavenly glow, dim enough for Remy's sensitive eyes to look upon the face of the Lord with speechless aw. The mutant fell to his knees, gazing in bewilderment at the inanimate wooden face that looked down at him with an expression of compassion and forgiveness. He lowered his head, bringing his hands together palm to palm, and with silent tears and a hushed voice, he began to pray.
Out side, the X-Men approached the church with caution, ever vigilant and on edge.
"Lets hope he doesn't blow it up again!" Bobby mumbled, the others glaring at him.
Wolverine led the pack past Gambit's Harley and up the stone steps, pausing at the entrance. He leaned forward and put his ear to the heavy wooden door, listening intently. Then with out saying a word he turned to face his team mates, a thoughtful look on his face.
"What's he doing?" Cyclops asked in a urgent voice.
"Well, I ain't too fluent in frog,………but my guess is he's praying." Logan said in a respectful tone.
"How can you tell?"
"He's mumbling in French Cyke!……..There ain't nobody else in there, and unless he's totally lost it, and is talking to himself,………the best bet is he's making peace with god." Logan grunted.
"Probably asking to be forgiving for blowing up Jesus on his last visit."
"Bobby, Can it!" Warren warned.
"Shouldn't we go in there?" Rouge asked anxiously.
"Give him a moment. He's almost done." Jean smiled as she sensed his feelings of acceptance and gratitude. He had made his peace with god, now it was their turn to grant him forgiveness, as well as ask for his. "There he's finished." She nodded as they opened the doors of the old church and walked in. They stood in silence as Remy drew the cross on his torso then rose to his feet. With out turning around he spoke, his voice strained and exhausted.
"Bonjour Mes amies!…………..Thought ya might come looking fo' moi." They could not see his face that was wrinkled in concern, eyes shut tight, or his fingers that were crossed. "Ya come here tah bring me home?………..Or send me packing?" His voice was barley a whisper.
They each looked to one another to see who should speak first. With only a momentary hesitation Storm stepped forward and walked half way down the isle, in between the X-Men and her dearest friend.
"Remy!………Do not be foolish!…..We are here to bring you home!….You are now and forever a member of our team and our family!" Her voice was strong and demanding, but those who knew her well could hear the warmth and love it offered.
"Wish I could believe dat Stormy,…………but after what I done,…………I don' reckon I deserve no family………Lets face it,……..we both know I ain't worthy 'nouff tah be an X-Man!" His voice broke and he slammed his fist on the alter.
"What makes one worthy enough to be an X-Man?…..Other then their willingness to risk their lives for the dream of peaceful co-existence between humans and mutants." Every one turned toward the entrance in surprise, as Professor Xavier sat in his hover chair in the open door way.
"Professor!……When did you…." Scott began but stopped on cue as Charles raised his hand to silence him.
"This is just my Astral form,…a projection of my mind. I just arrived back at the mansion to find my X-Men gone,……….but enough left over mental wave links to leave ripples in the Astral plane…….I used cerbro to piece together the remaining memory fragments to find out what happened. It seems all of you have had a trying day,……most of all you,.…Gambit." His voice was far more warm and caring then any tone he had ever spoken to Remy with before. Gambit hung his head in defeat, ignoring the kindness he could hear in his mentors voice, already convinced of his most certain dismissal.
"Je suis desole Professor," He wanted to say more, but his jaw clamped shut. He closed his eyes and turned back toward the front of the church.
"No Remy,…..It is I who am sorry. I have been so absorbed in my work as of late, I have neglected the well being of my students. If I had been there, with you, the collapse of your mental shields and the release of these most horrific memories, might have been avoided, or at least, realized threw a much less painful process." He sighed, his brow crumpled in consideration. "Remy, If I had only known the extent of your inner turmoil, I could have helped you work threw it. The miss placed blame, the fear and guilt, all eating away at your core. ……..I should have sensed it some how despite your shields, and reached out to you,………we all should have been there to support you."
"What makes you t'ink I would have let ya?…………Don' need nobody's sympathy. Always been jus' fine on mah own." He kept his back to his team mates, unwilling to let them see the hurt in his face.
"Surviving ain't the same as being fine bub! I should know, been on my own since before you were born, and believe me, guys like us, you and me,……we need the X-Men, probably more then they need us!" Logan spoke with a softness that seemed almost strange, coming from such a feral creature as he. "Face it Gumbo,…….beneath that cocky, shit eating grin you always put on,……your runnin' scared!……I know, cuze I've been there…….See guys like us, we don't scare easy. It ain't death,……hell, that'd be a welcomed rest! And it ain't guys like Sinister, or Creed….." He growled their names. "They might make yer skin crawl and yer stomach turn,…….but you can still see them for the worthless scum they are……..No, what your scared of,….what we're both scared of,…is guys like Chuck,…..and One eye, and all these other touchy feely types…..Your afraid to let em' in,…..cuze once their inside,……..you don't wanna let em' go. I know how that is kid………you and I both have had a life time of having our hearts ripped out. Of having every thing and every one we care about taken away……..Gets harder each time……To let them go,……to let others in. But you're an X-Man now, same as me!……Their a family, their your family,……..and as much as it might scared ya,…..ya need em'! …….ya gotta stop fighting it Cajun."
"Tried dat already,……..got hurt…..Life don't just sweep people away homme,…….. dey leave. Dey leave when dey relize de truth about moi, dat deep down,……I ain't no good." The words were dripped off his tongue in despair. He wanted to believe Logan was right, but he couldn't except it.
"Why you damn stubborn fool!………..Can't ya see we love ya!……..That ah love yah!" Rouge flew to him, grappling him in a hug so strong he fell to his knees, her arms still tight around him.
"Rouge, Non Chere! Don't you say dat!…..Don't you say dat…….just tah take it back!" He broke free from her embrace as she stared at him in shock, mouth hanging open.
"Non!" He pouted as he slapped her hand away, crawling closer to the statue. "Every time you say…" He swallowed hard, his eyes glued to the floor. "…..you say……you love moi,……I feel sick inside cause I know ya don' mean it!…….Cause I know dat sooner or later you change your mind again!……..And it feels like a knife….." His voice broke off as he slammed his fist into his chest, clutching his heart. "I'd rather be locked up in Sinister's lab again,…..den receive your love, jus' tah lose it again!" His eyes were wet, but his jaw was locked, and the words were hissed threw clenched teeth. The tension was thick in the dark church as the X-Men held their breath, unsure what the next move would be. After a momentary pause, Rouge blinked and shook her self back to her senses.
"Oh Remy!……Suga!…I'm sorry!……Sorry for every thing! And so are the X-Men! …… I never meant tah hurt ya so bad………We didn't know Gambit!" she squeaked as a tear fell down her cheek.
"It was my fault…..I shouda…."
"No it wasn't!….you were just a kid!……He made you,……forced you!" She couldn't bring her self to utter the mad man's name.
"She's right Gumbo! Why don't ya pull yer head outta yer ass and listen to some one other then yer damn guilty conscious for a change!" Logon barked at him, in the gentlest voice he could muster. Then he elbowed Warren forward, who looked sheepishly at his kneeling team mate, who had yet to raise his eyes from the ground.
"Gambit, If I had known,……….about,…..what had happened. About all the hell you went threw……….I would not have made you the focus of my resentment. I am ashamed of that now." Warren bowed his head. "Sinister is the one to blame, always has. been……Some how I lost track of that……And I'm sorry"
"We all make mistakes Warren……….Remy, will ya ever be able tah forgive me, suga? I don't know how I could have been so cruel…………..to the one man I love so much! " Rouge asked in a pleading voice as she moved closer to him, reaching out her hand for him. As she stroked his cheek, he leaned into her palm, like a hurt animal, desperate for affection and love.
"None a'you be de ones who need forgivin'! Cuze a'me, a whole mess of innocent people died. Dere ain't no'ting dat can make it right, or make moi any less responsible………But maybe now dat you know why,.……….you can forgive me?" He spoke in a hushed tone, his eyes closed tight, not wanting to face their rejection for the second time.
"Of course, Mein Fruid!" Night Crawler lay a hand upon his head. "You are not only forgiven in our eyes, but I am sure, in the eyes of God as well." He smiled as the Cajun opened his devil eyes and looked up at him, a look of disbelief in his face.
"Don't know 'bout dat homme, but I appreciate de nice words." He smiled weakly as he took the extended hand and pulled him self up.
"Gambit,……..…Remy, on behalf of the team, I want to apologize for the way we treated you…..………..I,…………you're an X-Man, one of us, and you deserved better!" Cyclops was struggling to find the right words, a problem he usually never had.
"Dat ain't true Cyke!…….I shoulda been honest…..Shouda told ya'll from de start……But I didn't!……Dat ain't no way for an X-man to behave!" He backed away from his friends, his eyes off to the side, avoiding their faces.
"So you didn't trust us……I mean………We should have…. Ya know." Bobby stammered, unsure of what to say.
"What Robert is trying to say Remy, is that,…….we should have made more of an attempt to earn your trust…….After a childhood spent fending for your self on the streets,…then to be adopted only to be cast aside by those you love…..it's no wonder you keep your self so guarded. We just never understood that until now." Jean smiled at him.
"No Jeannie!…….Don't you start feeling sorry for me!………….Gambit don want no pity!……I get what I deserve, play de hands I was dealt and busted, simple as dat!" Gambit's eyes were focused on the ground, he backed further away from his team mates, who were gathering toward him.
"But we're the ones who busted on you!……By not sticking by you, the way a team mate should." Kitty stepped forward.
"We are your family, and we should have been there for you! Should have taken the time to find out the truth!" Storm reached out her hand but he pulled away, shaking his head.
"You all had no reason tah trust Gambit, No reason to give him de benefit of de doute!" His voice was failing him and his back was against the wall. He was trapped. "It ain't your fault!…..It's mine!……….I brought dis on my self!……Don' need you,…..don' want…"
"Please, Remy! Do not withdrawal from us when it is clear you are in so much pain!" Beast set a hand on his shoulder, and Remy took a quivering breath, fighting against the flood of tears cradled in his eyes. "You are forgiven! And we do not look down on you for sircuming to Sinister after such torture, but instead marvel at the strength you displayed at such a young age, and for how long you resisted him under such heinous circumstances….….……Please, my friend, let us be here for you now, the way we should have the first time, the way others never have!" Beast wrapped Remy in his big blue arms, letting his friend's silent tears soak into his fur. Remy pushed against the embrace at first, but his strength failed him and his heart cried out for the warmth and security it offered. The tears he had shed before that night, were birthed out of self hatred and deep seeded dread, but on this night, in the warm embrace of his friends, those tears turned to ones of relief and hope. A weight had been lifted off his chest, and the release of his pent up feelings, his anger, humiliation, fear and despair, he was left in a tired but peaceful state of mind, one he had not felt since he was a child.
Once Remy's eyes had dried, he pulled away from Hank, smiling for real for the first time in weeks. Instantly they were crowded around him, offering handshakes, pats on the back, hugs, and in the case of Storm, a kiss on each cheek. Warren stood back, Wolverine close behind him. Gambit looked at them warily, but was surprised when Arc Angle looked up at him with tears in his eyes, and embraced Remy.
"Let us be brothers once more!" Warren declared. His grip tight. Gambit let his arms come up, completing the hug.
"Qui, mon amie, brothers!" He smiled.
Wolverine was last, walking up to the Cajun, they stood in front of one another, a slight smirk on both their faces.
"Ya done crying' like a little girl?" Wolverine asked, with a teasing tone.
"Couldn't help it, what with you reciting speeches off de lifetime channel an' all!" They chuckled and grabbed one another's for arms, Wolverine resting his other hand on the taller man's shoulder.
"Always did like you LeBeau, even though you're a two bit Cajun thief, that wares so much damn French Cologne I get a head ach from a mile away."
"Ah, better den smelling like dead animal rolled in skunk piss, ehn?" They laughed. And for the first time since Antarctica, Gambit felt at home with the X-men.
The ride home in the black bird was a silent but comfortable one. Although he still had many inner demons to conquer, and more then his fair share of nightmares to over come, for the first time in what seemed like a life time of despair, hope and relief were also there, battling against his old self hatred. They had forgiven him, completely and sincerely! Had embraced him as their brother and reassured him of his place in their ranks. They were his family once more, maybe even more then before. All his life he had been taught threw pain and suffering, never to trust any one. To never let anyone see his pain or know his weakness. To hide his true feelings from others and even himself. As a child fighting for survival on the streets of New Orleans, these lessons were learned as a necessity. As a man trying to live in the world, they served only to hinder him. Causing him to withdraw from those he wished only to embrace. Remy smiled to himself, recalling the warm hands of those he cared about comforting him. Accepting him for who he was, despite what he had done. In a way, even with the terrible memories that had resurfaced, he had not been this secure, since he was adopted by Jean-Luc.
The quiet smile grew on his lips as he felt Rouge's warm breath on the back of his neck. Together, they lay spooning on the coat in the back of the jet. She held him so tightly, it hurt to breath. But any discomfort he felt paled in comparison to the warm glow of love and acceptance he felt deep inside of him. It filled the emptiness of his soul and brought tears of joy to his burning eyes. He wasn't alone, not any more! He had a home! He had a Family! He was loved!