When at last he understood what was going on, he agreed to go back to the infirmary as he was feeling exhausted with illness. His feelings were all mangled, emotions conflicting toward Rouge and the others, but over all he was anxious. The few memory glimpses he had of the past had yet to be fully remembered and scared him. Deep down he knew what had happened, but every time he tried to remember all he felt was a dull, nauseating pain. After a few days in the infirmary, he broke out and ventured into the kitchen were he found Mystique eating sushi and reading a gossip magazine. At first sight he jumped back, hand full of cards ready to strike. She merely rose one eye brow, then shook her head mumbling under her breath.
"Gambit, you psychotic fool!……….Think,…….we are all here together. The United Mutant Liberation Force, or do you not remember? Perhaps I should call Mc Coy, after all you should be in bed were your not a threat to yourself or any of us!" She rose from her seat and hesitated as she waited for him to reluctantly fizz out his cards. He glared at her wearily, but then took a seat across from her, peering over a croissant. After a brief but uncomfortable silence, She looked back up at him, and smiled in an amused way.
"So you remember every thing up until the trial,……hummmm?" He nodded, eyes narrow. "And a little more too?" He leaned back in his chair, and crossed his arms.
"But still you can't figure out how to speak English?" She mocked him, using his own voice. He slammed his fist down and got up, heading for the door. "I can help you…….I can make you remember!" Mystique waited for him to turn around, then shape-shifted into the form of the General. Gambit's eyes grew, as his breath caught in his chest, and he pressed him self against the wall. Images flooded his brain, terrifying, torturous sights that made his knees buckle and his stomach turn. He felt as though he was blacking out when a firm but tender hand slapped him across the face.
Looking up from the kitchen floor, he relized Cyclops was holding him, and gazing down with genuine concern. His empathy felt the protective vibe coming from Scott, and it surprised him almost as much as the slap. Rouge was there too hollering at Mystique, and asking what she had done to him. The others piled in, and soon Remy was back on his feet blinking away the fragments of memory.
"I was merely assisting Remy in his memory recovery. I thought it was about time he stopped being caudled like an incompetent infant, and remember the truth. The reason we are all here!" Mystique spat defensively, matching Rouge's death glare.
"Well you thought wrong Mystique! He ain't even close to ready!……You know what happened last time. He's barely two shades past death and your fixing to drive him right inta his grave!" Rouge pointed harshly, eyes full of contempt.
"Who are you to say if he's ready or not?…….As any one even bothered to ask Gambit what he wants?……Has it occurred to you that the longer he puts this off the harder it will be?" Mystique's voice held a sort of hostel compassion, one not often heard.
"That may be true but it's not your call Mystique!…….Gambit is an X-Man, he's our concern not yours!…….We take care of our own!" Wolverine growled slightly but leaned against the wall casually, arms crossed.
"She has a point though. None of us have asked Gambit what he wants." Jean offered quietly. All eyes turned toward Remy, who was bent over, arms on the table top, supporting his weight. His head was down, uneven locks of auburn casting shadows on his anguished face. His eyes were shut tight, brow crinkled in pain, snorting short bursts of air. The memories were there, at the brink of his sub-conscious. Racing through his mind, vague but bitterly familiar images made brief appearances but left their rotten residue to linger in the for front of his consciousness, soling every thing he knew. It took every ounce of will power not to throw up as he felt bile rising in his throat. He opened his eyes a fragment, realizing a full blown migraine was only moments away. He stiffened slightly, as a gentle hand began rubbing his back, an involuntary noise came from deep in his throat, like a vocal shutter.
"Remy,………do you want to remember?…..Do you think your ready?" Rouge's voice was soothing though it trembled with concern for her lover. He stood up, fighting back his nausea, and the cold black fear that was seeping through him, making ever muscle strain and cramp with anxiety. He forced open his eyes that stung with the brightness of the kitchen light, and blurred with pain from the increasing pounding in his temples. With determination and defiance against his own weakness, he nodded and turned toward his friends prepared for what ever they had to throw at him.
Once again the X-Men were gathered in the conference room, an uneasy tension hung over all assembled. Hushed whispers and incoherent mumbles filled the room, and bounced off the walls echoing louder then they originated. Gambit stood in front of the screen, eyes locked strait ahead, fists clenched, mouth dry. He swallowed and it hurt, throat soar and restricted. Blinking out of his head ach induced trance, he looked around at the faces in the room, and couldn't help but feel contempt. What were they doing there? Why were they invited to witness his pain on full display? He should leave, right now! Just walk out the door and never come back. He could deal with not knowing, not remembering a few years of his life. He remembered far enough to be completely sure of who he was and completely disgusted with that man. The last thing he needed was a head full of new, even worse memories to help him feed his self hatred and shame.
To all those watching him at a distance, the Cajun appeared to be as calm as ever, certainly not at ease, but at least calm. The truth was quiet the opposite and Wolverine knew it, the same way he knew when Storm was sad, though she still carried her self with her regal head held high, or when Betsy was happy, though she would never allow her self to smile. They were the three hardest X-Men to read, each trained to keep their emotions in check. Gambit was the most complex, always sending mixed signals on purpose, always contradicting him self, always so full of surprises. The moment he thought he had him figured out, Remy would pull a 360 and Logan would be left scratching his head in bewildered amusement. But now was different, he took no joy at knowing for once how Gambit felt. The kid was ready to bolt, ready run away from his past the way he had so many times before.
"You ok Gumbo?" Wolverine walked up, and rest a hand on his team mates shoulder. Gambit looked at Logan's hand then into the man's face. His own eyes, full of anger and deep seeded dread, were kept at bay by Logan's cool blue ones, icing over the fire he felt ready to burn through him. Wolverine sensed his unease, the anxiety and fear had festered for too long, and now anger and frustration had taken over and were reaching a boiling point. "Keep yer cool Cajun, were here for ya!……Were family, don't let this eat ya up inside!" He whispered the words and ended them with a strong look, one both chastising him for his miss placed rage, as well as assuring him that he could handle this. Gambit nodded and looked away, trying his best to suppress the rage threatening to spill out and wash over those he knew didn't deserve it.
"Were ready Gambit,……..are you sure about this?" Cyclops asked, looking from Gambit to Wolverine, then back.
"Oui, mon amie." Gambit's voice was strong and determined. He spoke the few French words he knew they would understand. He recognized now that he could not for the life of him figure out how to speak English or even French, though he understood both perfectly well. Instead, the only language he could speak was his own bastardized Cajun French, complete with street slang and bayou gibberish. It was the way he spoke as a child, understood by the few that lived as he did. His first years of education came from drunken bums and illiterate whores, and of coarse Misuer Fagan, who was always drunk and had suffered a stroke once that permanently paralyzed half his body, making it nearly imposable to understand him. Remy hated the way he sounded, the broken incoherent language he had long ago forgotten, was now the only one he remembered. It was time to get this over with, time to remember why he couldn't speak, and why every one looked at him with pity.
The lights dimmed to black, sucking the noise from the room like a vacuum. The screen lit up white, then images appeared, four men in a white room, one of them In a chair. He was striped naked, his head down, body shacking with the effort of breathing, through a ball gage. The other men were circling him, taunting him, striking him with their fists. One took a baton and pressed it against the captive man's throat, laughing as the others took turns zapping him with tazers. The gagged man struggled, his hands bound together behind him.
Gambit walked toward the screen, unsure of what he was seeing. He looked back at the others with a confused expression and questioning eyes, but was met with down cast faces and reluctant nodes at him and the screen. He turned back, still not understanding what this had to do with him. Suddenly another man entered the room, he was in a generals uniform and waited as the other men in fatigues saluted him. The General walked over to the man in the chair and grabbed his short locks of hair, pulling his face back. The gagged man gurgled a growl, fallowed by mumbled words with a hostel tone.
Gambit jumped back, stunned by the image of himself. He backed away shacking his head, tripping over chairs and into friends arms. They tried to calm him, steady him on his feet, but he pushed away from them, his breathing heavy and frantic. He ran up to the screen, eyes wide, fists clenched., angry noises ripping from his throat. The General was whispering threats as he held his cigar on the young mutants flesh. The Remy on screen shook in silence, sweat beading on his skin as the stench of his own burnt flesh filled his flared nostrils. Red eyes burning, full of hate he bit down on the ball gag so hard, his jaw screamed in protest.
"What?….Is there some thing you wish to say 24601?…….Hummmm?………Speak up!…….Your not making any sense!" The General spat, echo's of the soldiers laughter behind him. He was answered by more silence, as Remy tapped into a reservoir of strength even he didn't know he had. His body stilled, his breaths became silent and his eyes narrowed. His determination and strength was intimidating and eerie. The smirk disappeared from the General's face, transforming into a look of disgusted amusement, and perhaps even respect. The soldiers on the other hand shifted back and forth, glancing at each other with nervous looks, anxiously licking their lips and fighting with their guns. Suddenly the General struck Remy across his face with a right hook punch, then a left, then another right. Each time his head snapped back, gaze fixed on the General, a silent, "Fuck You", in his hell fire eyes. The General sneered then started hitting him again, but this time he didn't stop, not until Remy started to shack, a low gargling from his throat. The General stepped back, a satisfied expression on his face. Then he realized the strange noise the mutant was making wasn't crying, but was in fact laughter. Remy was in hysterics, laughing so hard, he would have fallen over. Eyes wild and filled with tears, gasping for air between loud laughs as blood poured down his face, and onto his chest The men in uniform all backed up, even the General seemed off settled. Through the ball gag Gambit began to sing, the melody a familiar French nursery rhyme.
The X-Man known as Gambit, stood 6 inches away from a 6 foot screen, watching a forgotten memory of a hell he didn't want to remember. As the image of himself began to laugh, so too did he, recognizing at once the feeling of utter hopelessness, not caring what was said or done, just laughing because the only other option was to cry. He fell to his knees in front of the screen, and soon his laughs became anguished cries. He was buckled over, fingers laced in his hair, the familiar throbbing of memory recovery dull compared to what was being remembered. The images were so sharp and clear, they cut through his consciousness like a razor, shredding his mind into ribbons only to melt back together, each piece falling into place. He remembered the siege on the X-Mansion, how he had warned them and volunteered to stay behind. His hatred for the General was raw and dominated all else but pain. He remembered each physical assault, each psychological torture, each humility and indignity he was subjected to, and when the agonizing stream of memory was finally over and the puzzle was complete, he was left curled up on the floor, gasping as his body shook with pain.
He blinked open his eyes, that were blurred with tears, coughing, and yelling in angst, sitting up, then buckling over. Both hands hitting the sides of his head as he began to rock back and forth. French curses poured from his lips, but mostly he cried out, "Mon Deuie, Mon Deuie, Mon Deuie!" The pain, the fear, the humility and the helplessness, all gave way to anger, frustration and hostility. He felt a deep sense of injustice, of wrong deeds done, and all of his rage was driven toward one man, the General. There were hands on him, gentle and soothing but he pushed them away in contempt, and staggered to his feet, still crying out, but it was in angry, irrational out busts, mixed with devastated cries of anguish. Gambit passed the room, hands clenched in glowing fists. The others watched him with sympathy and little bit of anxiety, not sure what he would do next.
Rouge tried to calm him but he lashed out, shoving her away and throwing him self back against the wall, shacking his head as he slid down until seated, his knees bent, both hands in his hair, eyes wet and starring straight out, as if focusing. He became very quiet, his breathing regulated. Slowly the others approached him, unsure if he would be violent.
"Remy,……are you alright?" The Professor asked in concern. Receiving no answer, he asked again, and this time, red eyes slowly drifted over to meet Charles, a vacant stare most present.
"Why?" He asked with a tearful voice, barely above a whisper.
"Why, what?" The Professor asked unsure.
"Why didn't you kill me?" The question sounded so innocent and broken, it made those in the room want to cry.
"Because we knew you were strong enough to survive." Charles answered in a soft tone. Remy thought about it for a moment, then closed his eyes and remained silent for a long time.
"Well,………..you were wrong." He said in a cold, callus tone. When he re-opened his eyes they were caught in a gaze that felt like the fires of hell were freezing over. He stood, head tilted down, eyebrow cocked, lips curled into a smirk with thumbs tucked in his belt loops. Instantly those who knew him best backed away, sharing anxious looks with those who didn't. Gambit was in a playful mood, and therefore a dangerous mood. It hadn't happened often, but at times when the team was under the most stress, Gambit seemed to resort back to a carefree, devilish persona to help him cope with his emotions and often theirs too. It had always annoyed Cyclops who thought the mood change was just Remy refusing to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation. That was the case until one cold winter night when the X-Men responded to a distress call from some mutants who claimed their friends had been abducted by the FOH. They infiltrated the base and found the captives, as well as disturbing photos of sexual assault against an unknown mutant girl of a tender age. While the others all reacted with disgust, anger and grief, Gambit grew very silent, his eyes closed. When Cyclops spoke to him, the team leader was greeted with that hostel gaze and humorous smirk. Before he could finish his thought, Remy was gone, racing down the hall way to were the FOH members had barricaded themselves. He blew open the door and began charging every thing insight, punching, kicking and braking anything he couldn't charge.
By the time the rest of the team made it through the debris, to were the FOH had been hiding, they found Gambit, kneeling amongst the ruble, covered in blood, most of which wasn't his. The FOH were scattered everywhere, few still alive and intact. The seen would have been disturbingly familiar if it had been Wolverine on a feral day, but as it were, it was the smooth talking, always calm and casual Cajun. The most unnerving part was the way he seemed completely detached from everything, as he lit a cigarette and walked past their shocked faces back to the Blackbird. Since then, the subject had been brought up only twice, and both times Gambit refused to discuss it.
Now they were faced once again with the wild and dangerous Cajun who seemed to radiate an intense fire of hostel emotions.
"Gambit,………calm down. Every thing will be alright." The Professor offered with a cautious mind probe that was immediately shut out, and emphasized with a painful sting.
"How 'bout you keeping de hell outa moi head Prof!………..And for de rest of ya,……..jus' stay outta my way!" Gambit held up his glowing cards to make the point, and headed for the door.
"Wait!………Remy, were are you going?" Rouge flew in front of the door blocking his path.
"Chere!……Get outa de way!" His expression was half grimace half smirk with flames in his eyes and death on his mind.
"Gambit!………..Now is not the time to act irrational!" Cyclops ordered, walking toward him.
"NON?………DEN WHEN BE DE TIME, EHE?……….YOU TELL GAMBIT!" He whirled around with a thundering bolt of emotions ripping through his calm, callous exterior. His eyes betrayed his inner turmoil, his humility and rage, his need for vengeance strongest of all. He walked toward a stunned Cyclops shouting, his steps deliberate, fists clenched and glowing. "CAUSE RIGHT NOW BEING RATIONAL AIN"T TO HIGH ON MY LIST OF PRIORITYS MON AMIE!" He stopped two inch's from the leader of the X-Men. He hissed through clenched teeth with water rimed eyes. "Mais si vous plate! You tell Gambit how he 'spose tah feel!……How he 'spose tah react!…….God forbide I behave irrationally!…….God forbid I GO OUT AND FIND DAT SICK,TWISTED SACK O' HOURSE SHIT DAT CALLS HIM SELF GENERAL!…….Cause when I do……..!" He grinned and shook his head as he backed away, tears rolling down his cheeks.
"G…Gambit!……X-Men don't kill!" Scott stuttered half heartedly. Remy had turned back and headed toward the door, staring strait, past the friendly faces full of pity and concern.
"Den I won't kill em,……..just watch em bleed tah death!" The words were as hard as steal and cut through the room like a razor, leaving them shredded and cold with the promise of his threat.
"Sorry Gumbo,………..it's too late." Wolverine's gruff voice sounded almost sheepish or at least a little regretful. Gambit stopped, but did not turn around, his eyes narrowed and he ground his teeth.
"What you talking 'bout homme?" The whole room held it's breath as Logan walked toward Gambit, stopping a few feet behind him.
"It's already done……..Don't remember doing it, but Rouge said she recognized his face from the tape as one of the guys I shredded at that secrete base we found ya in……….I went nuts and started ripping apart every scum sucker that crossed my path……" He sighed and added quietly, "Including that guard that took a special interest in ya." Remy flinched then shuddered as that particular memory flashed through his mind and bile rose in his throat. His fists clenched and he slowly turned around, shaking silently.
"He's gonna blow!" Iceman whispered under his breath. The others all backed up except for Wolverine who braced himself, prepared to let the Cajun vent his aggression, knowing any damage done would heal soon enough.
"Stay back!" Wolverine barked at the others. "Let it happen!" No sooner had he spoken then Gambit cried out, a gut freezing, murderous scream of rage and vengeance. He lunged forward attacking his own team mate with a ferocity none had seen before in the always calm and calculating Cajun. It was not his typical style to go berserk and wildly strike out without any for thought, and in truth, Wolverine could have easily fended off the uncontrolled blows and gained the upper hand, but the Cajun needed this, the way any man who'd been so unjustly wronged and violated would need it. He had stolen Remy's right to enact his vengeance on the one's responsible for his pain. Now it was up to Wolverine to take on the responsibility of his actions and let the Cajun come at him full force, or else he knew the kid would never be all right, that he would always resent Logan for taking it away from him. This had to happen, no matter how unnatural it felt for all involved. Xavier knew, and so kept the others at bay. Some didn't understand and others didn't want to. Finally Rouge couldn't take it any more and cried out.
"STOP REMY STOP!…….FER GOD SAKES IT"S LOGAN!" She screeched and covered her mouth as she turned into Bishops strong embrace. Gambit's strikes slowed, his breathing harsh and broken as he looked down through new eyes at the bloody mess of a man pinned beneath him.
"L….Logan?" He gasped, eyes wide with shock, body trembling from the adrenalin rush.
"Yhea Gumbo,…….guuhhh……it's me." He coughed and blood poured from his mouth. Remy shifted his weight off his team mate and sat flat on the floor, looking at his bloody hands. He silently closed his eyes then looked up at his friends, half of which could not meet his gaze, the others looked at him in disbelief. He began to shack again, feeling all warmth drained from his body. His fire and passion for vengeance had been satisfied leaving only the dark emptiness that dwelled in the pit of his stomach and grew until consuming his entire being. He could not cry, or laugh or curse or sigh,…..only sit and let the dark nothingness swallow him whole. Before he closed his eyes, and his body went limp, giving in to oblivion, he whispered one last word to any who cared to hear it.
"Dessol!" And then his body collapsed on it's self, landing on top of Wolverine who had already begun to heal. He sat up and held the unconscious body, who's face was down, hair cascading over the sides, shielding him from the intrusive eyes of all the gawking on lookers.
"Wolverine?" Cyclops said urgently as if just braking out of a trance.
"I'm fine Cyke!………And now Gumbo will be too."
"I….I don't understand!" Kitty stammered with tears in her eyes.
"It had to happen darlin,……..A man just can't let something like that go. Some crimes cut so deep that only the spilling of blood can make amends."
"But blood has already been spilt!………Why did you let him take out his anger on you!……He had no right!" Kitty protested.
"HE HAD EVERY RIGHT!" Wolverine barked, but then regained his senses. "A man like the Cajun ain't one to let nobody fight his battles for him…….. I did him wrong by killing that General. I took his revenge from him,…….Spilled blood that wasn't mine to spill. But who better to fulfill that debt then a man who can heal up afterward?…….Don't go blaming the Cajun for loosening his head cause he'll be better off for it, ain't that right Chuck?" All eyes turned to the Professor who slowly looked up from the crumpled form in Logan's arms.
"His rage has died down, his thirst for revenge has been quenched and at the moment, his mind is calm if not at peace. We must allow him time to heal and sort out his feelings…….But at least now he knows,…….for better or worse,…….now he knows." With that Xavier exited the room, leaving all to ponder whether time really could heal all wounds, or maybe just conceal the scars.
Hope you all enjoyed the story, a bit dark I know. I can't help writing the Remy angst angel cuz I love the idea of the X-Men as a family not just a team who support each other. I apologize if the end is anti-climatic but that's all I could come up with. And thank you for bearing with me on the spelling errors. Hopefully they were not too distracting.